1st Blogiversary: Cake Pops top the Menu

It’s a bit of a cliché but I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. At the start, blogging more or less filled any spare time I had. January is usually a quiet month for cakes as everyone tightens their belts, financially and physically, so it seemed like the perfect moment to be pouring over the ins and outs of WordPress, picking themes and figuring out the widgets. There seemed to be a lot of explaining to do too, the posts were lengthy and full of my take on this, that and the other. As the year has worn on I seem to have got that out of my system and during busy and less busy times, the blogging frequency is adjusted accordingly and the speed it takes to write a post has dropped dramatically making for a fantastic equilibrium: part diary, part publicity, part community with followers and fellow bloggers becoming part of my social make up as I predicted it would. I love it.

The cake pops post is STILL the most popular, the original post is here. I should probably reblog or rehash it in some way, but Bakerella gives such a good tutorial on her You Tube clip that it barely seems worth repeating it. I make them regularly, but almost never as a commercial product. I haven’t particularly got into decorating them as kittens or snowmen, the standard pop sprinkled with Hundreds and Thousands seems to be attractive enough for school events or kids parties. I have gone off piste a couple of times though and these are the results:

IMG_8750

Cake Pops made to look like truffles, but this cake needed to be ALL cake so even the truffles were cake too. In fact the popless cake pop works well as a little something to have with a cup of coffee!

At Christmas time I adapted again, for child 2’s school Christmas fair, and came up with these:

IMG_0561

The reason the tops are pink is that you can now buy strawberry flavoured white chocolate buttons which melt beautifully. They can be used to coat the pops instead of candy melts which are a pain to work with. I think you can get orange flavour too……

The other popular posts are the unloved vegetables. I’m amazed at the reception they receive. The most popular was one about kale; of all things! It just goes to show that searching for cake ideas and what to do with left over greens are exactly what makes the internet so valuable, but anyone reading this hardly needs me to tell them that.

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More from the Unloved Vegetables: Stir Fried Kale with Leeks and Garlic

I feel I should start with an apology; I promised pumpkin cupcakes last week for this weeks blog post, however we are moving into fruit cake baking season and my oven could do with deep clean. I have decided to try the bicarbonate of soda route which is in fact a longish process taking a few days. I am uncertain as yet whether it will truly work but am hopeful as ‘Mr Muscle’ seems to be loosing his mojo and you have to put up with that dreadful smell. So baking is currently on hold which is fine but this process has pushed any cupcakes off the agenda for now.

So I am returning to a favourite topic, the unloved vegetables.

Kale really is a bit of a nightmare: bitter, tough, always seems to come in large quantities, the cooking possibilities seem few and far between. I don’t believe there is much point in pretending is possible to convert it into a undiscovered gem of a vegetable, but in terms of bulking dishes out and using it up over throwing it out I do have a few ideas up my sleeves.

Stir Fry Kale with Leeks and Garlic

This is an accompaniment type dish, good with things like pies or roasts. Take a washed trimmed leek and slice quite thinly, heat a slug of olive oil and a similar slug of garlic oil in a medium-sized frying pan and add the leek, stir around for 5 minutes or so, until soft and then add the washed and chopped kale having removed the thick central stems. Stir around for 5 to 10 minutes until the kale has wilted and softened. It takes on a ‘wet’ appearance. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and season with a little salt. The leek adds a sweetness to the proceedings which frankly is much needed.

Kale New Potato and Blue Cheese Pizza topping

I am assuming that you are making pizza here  so rustle up a Margherita and then add sliced, cooked new potatoes, chopped, wilted, drained and dried kale and diced blue cheese (Dolcelatte, Stilton, Danish Blue whatever you like) and bake for 10 minutes or so. Now this really is delicious.

I will come back to making pizza a some other point.

Sweetcorn and Chilli Oil

Finally, a cute little food marriage with the corn on the cob season upon us, boil or BBQ your corn on the cob and then instead of adding butter, drizzle chilli oil instead. It’s fantastic!

Moussaka with Minimum Fuss

Finally.

We have the sort of glorious weather we have been anticipating for about two months. As luck would have it, this improvement coincided with a camping trip where a pre-prepared courgette cake courtesy of Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess was eaten along with barbecued fish, chicken fajitas, french toast and butter bean dip. All good stuff as the omnipresent camping food of burgers and sausages were for once kept to a minimum.

The speed of the arrival of the heat wave is reminiscent of the process of taking a plane ride to the southern Med and the sudden rise in temperature engulfing you as the cabin doors are opened and you descend the plane’s steps.

Greece, a classic destination for such as phenomenon has been a favourite haunt of ours over the years and I adore their fabulous food and drink. Meze, stews, spinach pies, retsina; I love it all.

The most famous dish of all must be moussaka and traditionally, in this country if Delia Smith is to be believed, preparing such a dish is a long drawn out process and although there is no getting round making a white sauce and a meat sauce, I dont’ believe one needs to fry endless slices of aubergine for hours on end. I would also say this is a good candidate for a few hidden veggies.

So you will need (serves 4):

  • 500g Lamb Mince, 1 medium Onion, chopped, 1 stick of Celery, chopped, 1 carrot, grated, 1 Aubergine, roughly chopped, Olive Oil, 1 tbsp Tomato Puree, ½-1 tsp Cinnamon, 250-300ml Red Wine, ½ tsp of chopped Flat Leaf Parsley, Salt and Pepper and a grating of Parmesan.
  • 500g Potatoes
  • ½ to ¾ pint of White Sauce made using 40g of butter, 40g of plain flour, ½ to ¾ pint of milk, a grating of nutmeg, salt and pepper

By way of preparation, cut potatoes into large chunks and boil until soft, drain and set aside meanwhile fry off the lamb mince in a frying pan and put the roughly chopped aubergine in a colander and sprinkle with a little salt and leave in the sink to catch any moisture released.

To make the meat sauce, fry the onion in a slug of olive oil and once transparent, add the celery and carrot and any other chopped veg you wish to add such as courgette and red pepper. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes and then add the drained lamb mince, the aubergine, tomato puree, wine, cinnamon, parsley and around 200ml of just boiled water so the consistency is not too dry. Stir around, bring to the boil and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, whilst you make the white sauce.

White sauce for anyone who needs reminding: over a moderate heat melt the butter and once completely liquid, add the flour and stir to form a paste. Cook for a minute or two and then away from the heat gradually add the milk, stirring well between each addition until you have a smooth sauce the consistency of single cream. Return to the heat and stirring all the time allow it to come up to boiling and simmer for a minute or two. Add the salt and pepper and the nutmeg, stir, and leave off the heat.

Meanwhile, roughly chop about a third of the now cooled potatoes and add to the meat mixture and check the seasoning adding salt and pepper to taste. Thickly slice the rest of the potato.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C. Into the bottom of a medium-sized oven to tableware dish, smear a spoonful of white sauce and then add a layer of potato slices. Pour in the meat sauce (don’t add all the liquid if it seems very liquidy, but you do want some), then another layer of potato and spread over the white sauce to cover the top. Grate a little parmesan cheese as a final flourish and then bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is crispy and brown and the filling is bubbling.

Delish, particularly, served with a greek salad.

More from the Unloved Vegetables: Broad Beans pep up a Ham and Watermelon Low Carb Lunch

It’s the end of term this week and as fate would have it the work load has increased to celebrate. Hmmm….

I have been up to my elbows in melting moments, photogenic cupcakes and Sleeping Beauty↓

However I’m not eating any of this and in fact the recent cream fest has led to a week or so of obsequious eating, and I am happy to share.

The following was absolutely delicious and uses a very unloved vegetable: the broad bean. I have to say I’m not keen on them ‘skin on’ so my advice is to pop them out of the skins once cooked and cooled a little. This does not remove all the bitterness but makes a surprising difference!

Based on the classic ham and melon Italian antipasta dish, you will need for 1 serving: a thick slice of Watermelon, a handful of cooked Broad Beans, skinned, some Feta Cheese, diced, a couple of slices of Parma ham or prosciutto crudo, Mint, chopped, a sprinkle of Pumpkin Seeds, toasted, Lemon Dressing made with 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice, salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar).

Start off by expelling some of the pips from the melon, just the big ones, and then using a pastry cutter (around 5cm in diameter), stamp out two or three circles, arrange on the plate, then arrange the ham, shredded roughly, feta cheese, broad beans, mint, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Drizzle over the dressing and you are ready to go. I added a couple of diced cold new potatoes I had lying around as well and it all looked like this:

Despite the work load, roll on the summer holidays…

N.B. You can buy conservative slices of Watermelon in supermarkets and unless you are very keen on the stuff I suggest you seek out these.

More from the Unloved Vegetables – No.4: Carrot and Ginger Soup?

Now with this series of posts about unloved vegetables I do fully appreciate that what is unloved for some is probably much beloved for others. Timing is probably also a factor in this regard too. I can well imagine carrots receiving a warm welcome alongside kohlrabi, turnips and swede, but just at the moment when the other inhabitants of the veg box are purple sprouting broccoli, mushrooms, aubergines and if you are really lucky asparagus, carrots will induce and sigh and droop of the shoulders. It has been a long winter with the root vegetables and still having to deal with carrots is starting to feel a bit much. Suddenly they are a little more difficult to use up as the hearty winter meals which lend themselves to featuring carrots as an accompaniment are now fewer and further between.

A seasonal dish using carrots such as coleslaw only needs one!

Soup is the answer. It is often the answer as you can make it and freeze it if you don’t really fancy it or the weather is too warm. Not something we are likely to be struggling with this Bank Holiday. Soup really will be the answer as temperatures are due to plummet. But something zesty and bright might help.

Carrot Soup I think might also assist if you are on a hidden vegetables campaign. A blended orange coloured, velvet-y smooth soup is really not going to seem unappetizing surely and if you can coax the target consumers into having a little taste that may well lead to the drinking of an entire bowlful.

You will need: 1 medium Onion, chopped, 2cm length of fresh Ginger or more if you like the flavour and zesty heat, grated or finely chopped, 1 medium Potato, roughly chopped, 6 or 7 medium Carrots, roughly chopped, 600-800 ml  Vegetable Stock, juice of ½ Lemon, 1 tbsp of Oil, Salt and Pepper.

It’s dead easy: Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, cook over a moderate heat until transparent, add the ginger and stir round for a minute or two. Add the potato and carrots and sweat gently with the lid on the saucepan for 5- 10 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Once the vegetables are tender, blend the soup with a hand held blender for preference, check the seasoning, add the lemon juice and a little more stock or warm water to achieve a preferred consistency. Done.

Sorry for the lack of photos today, I can’t seem to get the iPad to let me load anything else up from the media library – best laid pans plans, blah, blah, – and I am not at home. But I’m sure everyone can guess what carrot soup will look like.

Photofest coming very soon …..

Hidden Vegetables Italian Style – Minestrone Soup with Meatballs

Following on from last week’s post, I definitely tried to keep the kids and food debate general but as I wrote I realised that I was actually rounding on the subject of kids and veg. That 5-a-day advice haunts me relentlessly and I can’t blog for much longer without addressing the issue head on.

I’m with everyone else who becomes more than a little frustrated with the food writers who claim that as long as the food looks appetizing and that you start as you mean to go on then there is no reason why your kids won’t enjoy vegetables. Yeah right! Perseverance, patience and pleading is more likely and so it has been with us.

I don’t share Annabel Karmel’s world view.

Nigella on the other hand does really talk some sense and not just on this subject. She, like me, believes in cooking vegetables hidden in cakes, casseroles and the like, suggests that if you are really going to be bold about it (and deal with the issue head on) serve fruit and veg up in pure form as part of the habilitation process and (rather randomly) the kid’s homework is far more troublesome than your own ever was! (It’s that last remark which totally won me over to her way of thinking.)

Marrying kids and vegetables is a long hard road with many pitched battles along the way; I keep adding cucumber to Child 1’s ham sandwiches and he keeps taking it out and leaving it in the box to taunt me. He is clearly defiant on this point as he doesn’t even pretend he’s eaten the stuff by disposing of it in school. Both of mine will not ever never eat a tomato (just like Lola, or maybe because of her!) cherry or otherwise despite that fact that I will pop the little ones like sweets.

So we really are driven to underhand means. For the record mine do eat a reasonably wide range of veg now but only after much work and the list of acceptable veg is random, still protest if asked to eat fruit however will do so if they can have something ‘nice’ afterwards (I don’t always comply) and, thankfully, can still be completely duped with hidden stuff. Tee Hee.

Mouli

The Continentals do have gadgetry for helping with this; the French have moulis, and the Italian’s, Nonna (Grandmother – hardly a gadget I know) to cook sauces and soups for hours and hours so that a rich, thick, delicious homogenous, usually tomato coloured goo is all you have to look at. Perfect.

Now this minestrone recipe won’t take 3 hours to make, I promise, but can be made in advance/at the weekend/frozen in batches to make a fantastic mid-week meal and can also be assembled in about ½ hour having dashed in from swimming.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C. Into a reasonably sized saucepan add 2 tbsp olive oil and fry off a chopped onion gently for 5 minutes or so and towards the end of this time add a crushed clove of garlic, a grated carrot, ½ finely chopped red pepper and 1 finely chopped stick of celery! (Round our way this is the basis for practically anything that needs a tomato based sauce.) Cook that lot gently for another 5 minutes or so and then add 1 tin of tomatoes, chopped ultimately, 1 squirt of tomato puree, 1 pint of vegetable or chicken stock (you may need a bit more), 1 tsp of sugar and optionally 2 tsp pesto and the rind-y end-y bit of the parmesan. Stir all that round and bring to the boil and then add either a handful or so of rice or macaroni and let it simmer whilst you cook the meatballs.

Now then, you can make your own….. *hmmm* (quite), or buy some of those in packets of twelve on the fresh meat section, beef or sometimes you can get pork or turkey. Think mini here as we are having soup not spaghetti, so cut each one in half and reshape and place them in a small roasting tin or baking sheet and pop in the oven for 15 minutes or so to cook. Beef and pork will cook in their own fat, turkey may need a drop of oil in the bottom. Everything should then be ready together. Back to the soup: fish out the parmesan rind, check the seasoning and add a little more warm stock or water if necessary to provide the right consistency.

If you need to produce a smooth puree then the tomato sauce minus the pasta/rice can be blended with a hand-held blender and couscous can be added with 5 minutes to go instead.

Ladle into bowls and ‘sprinkle’ with the meatballs. Supply grated cheese, parmesan or otherwise if you wish. To bulk this up a little more, we often have cheese on toast as an accompaniment rather than cheese sprinkled on top.

N.B. Whilst you can freeze or hold the soup in advance I would cook the meatballs at the point you need them, not ahead of time.

I appreciate that the amount of veg here is minimal, but everyone has to start somewhere, we will aim higher when I return to this topic.

More from the Unloved Vegetables – Wot no veg? So it’s Frozen Parsnip Fritters

I am bereft. I cancelled the veg box order last week as I was away for 4 days (see Cutest Cakes Abroad) and now we are completely vegless.

I didn’t really trust my better half to cope with the relentless veg preparation which would be required to see off the necrotic veg-mush I would likely return to. He is handy in the kitchen having been taught to make a white and a tomato sauce before he left home and these two particular skills have got him a long way with his cooking repertoire. A chemist by training, for him following recipes is a precise business thus he was delighted when I bought some electronic scales with a tare function and a measuring jug with 10 ml delineations ensuring weights and measures henceforth would be correct. (He also enjoys stirring food whilst it’s cooking which used to drive me insane at times until I showed him how to make risotto which has now scratched that particular itch.)

Wot no veg!

However, as all he was likely to serve the kids whilst I was away was variations of things with tomato sauce, (Child 2 not keen on white sauce) I paused the delivery and assumed it would resume this week. But no, in my haste I misread the detail and it seems I will have to wait until next week! eeek! This has led to much scrabbling about in the freezer and a trip to Sainsburys to try to fill the gap. Some would rejoice at the break from root vegetables and leeks etc, but it is as though my comfort blanket has been removed and the overwhelming choice I now have is too great to bear.

Unloved Vegetable No. 3 – Parsnips. I am going to imagine what I would have received instead and I think that parsnips would be going through a last hurrah. We only tend to roast parsnips on Sundays round here and a glut had started to form a week or two back as the specimens have been getting both larger and more numerous. Luckily, on a recent roam around WordPress, South Philly Food Co-op have been making Parsnip Fritters. This caught my eye and as I had a tempura batter mix in the cupboard, awaiting the arrival of the new kitchen extension and subsequent purchase of a deep fat fryer which is still some months off, I decided to use it up devising my own version of these delicacies.

Now my 150g tempura batter mix was made by Yutaka, a mixture of rice, wheat and maybe something else flour and to it I added 220 ml of water (sparkling water is supposed to be good here) and a heaped teaspoon of medium curry powder and a little chopped coriander. However if you can find it, Gram (chickpea) flour gives a sub-continental edge to fritters as the Indian term for these creations would be bhajis. If I had been using gram flour I would have used the same quanties of flour and water. So once you have a spiced batter all you do is add the veg to be frittered. In this case two large parsnips and a quarter of swede, grated. I also threw in a small amount of sweetcorn I had lurking in the fridge. Just mix the whole lot together. I got in there with my fingers and ended up with a sticky goo. I could pick up heaped dessert spoonfuls of mixture and shape it into little loose patties. You are not going for a pancake batter type consistency. Then into a deep sided frying pan (or deep fat fryer) heat 1-2 cms of sunflower oil and once hot (a test drop of mixture should sizzle) drop in 4/5 little patties and cook for 3 minutes per side. This seems very precise but does seem to work. You want deep golden on both sides. Remove to a kitchen papered, warm plate and continue.

These quantities would be enough for 4 adults. We had it with Chana Masala and the left overs went in the freezer. Now if eating defrosted fritters like we are this week just place on a baking tray, once defrosted, and bake for 10-15 minutes in a hot oven (200°C/180-190°C fan). The oil in them returns them to ‘just cooked’ fresh.

It’s hard to make these look very tempting so apologies for the picture!

Ham up and give it a try!

This post is for my Brother, his partner and their brand new daughter, my Niece, with love. (See Baking:Recipes and What not Page above for some details on constructing this cake)

Baby in Pram - Vanilla Sponge Cake

Apparently my Mother doesn’t like ham. When she mentioned this in passing during my twenties, it came as quite a surprise. Somehow I had never noticed despite the perpetual complaining about the size of ham my Father wished to buy and bake to help along the Christmas festivities. The general mantra in our house when I was a child on the testy subject of liking food was that ‘you eat what is put in front of you’. Clearly as I had not realised her aversion to ham, she does practice what she preaches, however the genius in this remark is of course that if you are the Senior Buyer and Cook as well, you can serve up what you like. Clever. For the Junior Food Consumers though I remember a couple of battles on this front;

1. The psuedo-chilli.  Something, when I was 8 or 9, resembling some sort of chilli dish (mince-y thing on rice) was served up one evening at tea but tasted utterly alien based on appearance expectations and I have to say, WAS ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING. Very rarely in our house did my Mother misjudge these things but even now as an adult I cannot image what ingredients she had used and why she was trying to pass this concoction off as something more familiar. There were a fair few tears about this, mainly of disappointment on the Junior Food Consumers part (we♥chilli) and I have no recollection of the outcome. (Brother now believes this was a tin won at a Tombola).

2. Mac and Cheesegate. Now, an unusual victory for one Junior Food Consumer in particular. I’m fairly sure this wasn’t the first time this dish had been served up. If I remember rightly our Mac and Cheese came with a squirt of tomato ketchup as a kind of garnish. Yummy. Naturally I was munching away quite happily. (This was back in the 70s way before the food revolution and Jamie Oliver was definitely still in nappies). My Brother, I realised after a little while, was picking at his serving and eventually my Mother passed by, noticed and said something along the lines of  ‘eat your tea up’.

‘ I don’t like it’

‘Never mind about that, just eat it up’

‘But I don’t like it’

Well, eat it now I’ve made it’

‘But….’              you get my drift.

I was long finished and in the circumstances had been allowed to leave the table, but not my unfortunate Brother. One could occasionally hear my Mother’s increasingly irate demands and my Brother’s wailing as he sat there contemplating his fate. Eventually the ultimate sanction was issued, ‘if you don’t eat it you will have to go to you room for the rest of the evening’. And, without missing a beat, he hopped down from the table and headed to his room rather than eat up and get on with his day. The stuff seemed to make him heave and as a result this turned into the one exception from the ‘eat what’s put in front of you’ rule.

Anyway, back to my Mother and the ham. The upshot of all this was there were few meals, now I think about it, which included ham in any form (I’m not sure where she is on bacon) and my Father will always have ham, egg and chips if he sees it on a pub menu.

So the discovery of unsmoked gammon ham joints has been an inevitable revelation. I love the endless and often instant options and find the taste and texture far superior to the regular, sliced stuff in a packet. Most recipes to cook these joints seem to include, at least in part, an instruction to roast in the oven at some point, but I really don’t think this necessary so:

  • Having purchased one of those vacuum packed joints from the supermarket, often around 750g, cut open the wrapper and remove making a note of the weight.
  • Place joint in a saucepan and barely cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then discard this just boiled water. Process removes scum and excess curing salt.
  • Start again from cold, filling the saucepan so that it barely covers the ham again and return to the boil. This time round though reduce the heat so you achieve a vigorous simmer and cook for 20 minutes per 500g or per lb, so 750g one needs just 30 mins.
  • Remove from the heat and you can either lift it out with a slotted spoon and serve slices of it immediately or leave it in the water for another 30 mins (keeps it lovely and moist) before draining the water in to a bowl (great stock!) or down the sink and allowing it to cool completely on a plate.

The obvious quick meal here is ham, fried egg and JP’s or potato wedges, more yumminess. It goes without saying, it makes great sarnies, and would be a tasty addition to the above Mac and Cheese! Once completely cold, wrap in foil and fridge where it should keep for up to 5 days.

I shall post more recipes with this ham in due course but for the record, lardons (small diced pieces of ham) can be fried until crispy and dropped into the celeriac soup recipe from the Veg box and unloved vegetables post.

Today is Veg Box Day and the Introduction of Unloved Vegetables

Today is veg box delivery day – Hurray!! What a shame the fridge is still half full of the previous delivery, I feel a bit of soup making coming on. A lot of our cooking and eating is governed by the fortnightly appearance, over the garden wall, of our veg box. We have subscribed to one for years now and really do feel lost without it. Not having to think about which veg to buy I find quite a release, drives the small amount of menu planning that goes on here, ensures we are eating seasonally and prevents the peppers-broccoli-mushrooms rut we would be stuck in otherwise.

A lot of my peers also seem to belong to that section of the population which feel they ought to have, do have, did have, cancelled then went back too, couldn’t get on with but nonetheless did try a veg box. Many of us seem to treat veggies like one views medicine, it’s got to done, grimly peeling, chopping, steaming, coaxing kids into eating and endlessly flicking though cook books over. My view, for what it is worth, is that either because I need an antidote to the amount of sugar I work with or because I genuinely like most of them, I really don’t mind the effort involved in coping with them but admittedly it probably has taken years to get into a groove.

I currently have a Riverford box and previously to that when living in Bristol we had one supplied by The Green Wheel who can be located with a bit of searching on their link (Don’t have a website). Green Wheel were completely great, as Lola from Charlie and Lola might say. Reliable, veg was great, you had little treats of this and that, the odd lemon thrown in and Billy and Co really thought about what people might need from their veg delivery. True customer service was a trademark and I was sad to eventually move out of their range. However Riverford are good too and in my experience deliver slightly better quality veg than Abel and Cole the other big player in this field (!).

Now it’s hard to make any of this sound very jolly so I think I’ll have a picture, of a carrot cake (the shed), which happens to have veggies as part of it’s theme.

Unloved Vegetables

I doubt these need much explanation. Chatting to friends about their experience with ordering boxes the main complaint is usually ‘too much of things they don’t really want to eat’. The reasons behind this problem probably range from not liking something, to the dictatorial nature of the veg box to just not having enough recipes to vary how a particular veg box inhabitant might be served up. The unloved vegetables. This theme of using up unloved veggies is sort of starting to take root (!) in recipe books as cookery authors and chefs have worked out that those who buy such books are often veg box recipients too. Box schemes themselves also try to help with this, I for one have never got on that well with most of the veg recipes supplied by schemes. During the week I often want a one pot meal and endless recipes using veg as an accompaniment do not hit the spot. A range of books and authors seems to be the only tactic.

I am planning to try to address this from time to time as I blog to give some ideas for those in despair over too many beetroot, cabbages, swedes, leeks….

So unloved vegetable number ONE – Celeriac

Soup is often an excellent route to take when dealing with unloved veggies. Celeriac I think is relatively versatile, as it can be mashed with potato, mashed on its own, used to pad out casseroles, widely used in salad-y type things and also works very well in soup.

A basic celeriac soup recipe might look like this: Chop an onion, and fry over a medium to low heat in a reasonably sized knob of butter and a little oil until transparent, add a clove of crushed garlic, along with, diced, a medium potato and a medium celeriac, (optionally a sliced leek),  cover and sweat for 10 minutes or so over a low heat. Then add around 1 litre of stock, veg or chicken, actual or from stock cubes is fine. bring to boil and simmer for around 20 mins until the veggies are tender. Blend, add a little thyme or chopped dill or parsley and a couple of good tablespoons or either, fromage frais, crème fraîche, or double cream. Season to taste.

Things one might add here: ¼-½ tsp of truffle oil or garlic oil, or 15-25g of dried mushrooms soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes (add these, drained, with the stock), or 4-6 chopped field mushrooms (again add with the stock), or lemon juice to taste.

The New Covent Garden Food Co. Soup Cookbook  needs a shout out here, brimming with fantastic recipes and lots of inspiration.

P.S. A word about tagging – I am planning to develop my own tagging system to work alongside the more conventional one supplied by WordPress. Unloved veggies will therefore appear as a tag and be used each time I feel I have blogged about a tricky vegetable. Over time I’m hoping this will produce a list of recipes to browse through.

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