Archives for posts with tag: Seasonal Greens

 

Enjoy the Guardian podcast above with Jane Perrone, Anni Kelsey and Martin Crawford   Thanks to Anni for her wonderful blog where I first saw this.  Inspiring and eas(ier) gardening, climate friendly and cheaper, plus interesting, tasty things to eat.

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Have I raved to you about Penelope Casas’ Green Bean recipe, rightfully enshrined as a Food52 “Genius Recipe?” Read the description and follow it closely.

You take your beans and sear them in a hot, oily pan, and they steam and char at the same time, retaining lots of bean-taste. When they’re done, toss them in chopped garlic and salt.

This method is flexible to flavours that go around the world– ginger and garlic and soy sauce for a Chinese mood, mustard seeds and chilis for South Asian, add coconut milk for a Thai feeling.. you get the idea.

I’d been wondering about Runner Beans, those prolific stalwarts of the British summer veg patch.  I’ve never managed to love them as deeply as I do green beans/ string beans/ French beans (as they are called here). Read the rest of this entry »

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The Nettle Sorrel Soup was so delicious, I considered it a gateway to Schav, a purer use of sorrel that by never having sampled had become a little mythic. You eat it cold.  And yes, that’s the true colour in the photo above, what we might have thought of as pea-green, a little dreary, a little khaki. I resisted the photoshop urge because I want to speak the truth about Schav.  I placed the spoon in this position so you too could imagine picking it up and experiencing a spoon-full.

It’s what the real old-timers ate, the ones who gesticulated with their hands and ate intense, heavy food like … Liver and Egg Salad, or Chopped Liver in moulded, perhaps grotesque shapes, maybe with strawberries, maybe with pineapple.  Or at least such recipes appear in my all time favourite Jewish cookbook Love and Knishes, along with loads of dishes with schmaltz and lima beans and kasha– these kind of ingredients.  So the book was a natural first place to look for an “authentic” recipe for Schav.

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Love and Knishes is a charming book. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sweet Nettle and Sorrel Custard Rough Puff Tartlets — what a mouthful for these novel, mouthful- size morsels, made from all good things… Inspired by Penelope Casas.

Crema De Espinacas en Canutillos:

“At the beginning of the [20th] century, this most unusual dessert of custard and spinach was popular in Bilbao; it continues to be featured at some of the city’s finest restaurants, either in a tart shell or as a filling for pastry horns,  It is said to be a vestige of the medieval custom of sweetening just about every kind of food imaginable….”

So wrote Penelope Casas in her truly exciting collection of regional Spanish recipes Delicioso!

Nettles are everywhere now, growing taller before our very eyes. The wonderfullest of weeds, the most delicious, nutritious and ubiquitous –why aren’t they the national food of Britain, as Frank Cook asks in this video.  Am just determined to use them as frequently and creatively as I can.

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I know people like recipes, and that recipes define the public realm of cooking, including information and instruction to combat food waste in our kitchens.  I’m always struck by how irrational this is, because it’s rare that you’d have, as leftover (i.e.,waste you want to avoid happening), the specific amount of an ingredient that a recipe would call for.  Is there something I’m missing?

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This is almost so obvious I’m not sure it’s worth a blog post; but it’s so good, it’s worth a blog post!  I’ve made this every day for several days, and we find ourselves snacking on it cold.  Eating (local, seasonal) greens plentifully can only be a good thing.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli. Roasted.

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Squash-leaf Soup with Flowers and Corn Dumplings in a Lemony Pork-Rib Broth. Meals evolving, like dancing on graves, creating a new cuisine. I saw this supper as a kind of exploration and experiment, which I guess is really my favourite way to cook and share food, learning as I go….

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From Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food, I made Torta di Erbe, translated as “Green Tart,” which somehow tickled my funny-bone. It’s a Roman tart, she says, and also known as “Pizza Ebraica” (Jewish pizza).

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Spring feels kind of possible even if the winter wasn’t quite winter with its climate-weirding mildness and perpetual rain. Looking at the raised beds –an accomplishment of last summer and purchased as affordable flat-pack type kits from Cwm Harry in Newtown–  I  noticed, on this seasonal cusp,  all that Perpetual Spinach I sowed last spring.   These leaves had somehow never happened last year but had arisen, however scraggly and slug-eaten, and constituted before my eyes a Bed Of Chard.   (That’s what “perpetual spinach” really is, she says with disappointment).

Chard is my least favourite green, I admit.  I just don’t have enthusiasm for it, though Rainbow Chard is so prismatically beautiful and the smaller leaves in the raised bed will be nice in a salad.  And yet, chard is something I’ve managed, as a lazy gardener, to grow prolifically.

I did remember, maybe a decade ago, making a traditional tart from the south of France, recipe for which I found in Jane Sigal’s wonderful book Backroad Bistros: Farmhouse Fare: A French Country Cookbook from 1994.  This is a book that maybe somehow has gotten lost among a fray of great books, but I love it, and could cook and bake my way through relaxed French food with it– wonderful stories, impeccable recipes — a classic in its way.  I recommend it.  And would put it beside the also wonderful When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman in a library of my favourite cookery books.

(Backroad Bistros also has a few really enchanting pages on snail farming in Burgundy — this inspired me years back to giving a go to growing snails as a kind of Permaculture operation, since there in Oxford where we lived there were so many, a pestilence really.   I wouldn’t say I succeeded, though was a comical episode– maybe more on this another time.  But if this is something you are interested in, there’s lots of information one could usefully cull from this small chapter.)

I’ve also set myself the challenge to explore the use of vegetables in sweet situations, as I wrote about here in Three Sisters last autumn.  Since then I’ve discovered a wonderful and inspiring blog Veggie Desserts full of creative and beautiful recipes to enjoy.

Here is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls recipe for Tourte de Blettes.  It’s not dissimilar from the one Jane Sigal collected from a market woman in Provence, though it includes lemon zest and has slightly different proportions– and Sigal’s recipe encouraged me to fold the excess dough of the bottom layer up over the top layer, so I got to have something that looked different from my usual style, which I liked.

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And forgive below what is an unappealing photo (food photography is hard!!!!) of a very nice Apple Pie with a layer of chard, removed behind my back by my children off their plates, but hey-ho!  In a few weeks time, they’ll be questioning the nettle tops  and goosegrass I am going to be picking all around the Waysides of Spring and putting in all sorts of imaginings– including, I say, a pastry like this one.

Oh– I saved the apple peelings and cores, added honey and water, and have a new, small batch of wild apple vinegar on the go!

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I have loved and learned from Paula Wolfert’s writing on North African and Mediterranean foods through the years. Besides this video being a fun portrait of a really charming person, it’s inspiring how Paula loves life and is taking a DIY approach to her own health and staving off cognitive decline with careful attention to diet.  I also love that she’s gone public with this– it’s brave and a gift to all of us as Alzheimer’s is so scarily on the rise.  Her decision to be “out” takes the shame away. I love that lady!

There are various nutritional approaches to mental decline that make sense to me.  A few years ago Oliver Tickell wrote about the role of trans-fats, and this more recently, in modern diets and fought successfully to have hydrogenated fats removed from foods in the UK.  I’ve read recently, and we’ll all be hearing a lot more about the role of carbohydrates and gluten in spiking the sugar load in the brain, which is apparently deleterious.  And when I first saw the video with Paula Wolfert above, it was in the context of what’s basically an advert for a brand of Prebiotics — and as an advert, therefore made me sceptical.

Not that buying prebiotics is a bad thing, but it’s possible to get “prebiotics” nutritionally, though maybe it’s just easier and more predictable in a supplement.  The Wikipedia article (I have to stop quoting like this!) says ” Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the digestive system in ways claimed to be beneficial to health.”  In other words, Prebiotics aid the Probiotics that we know are part of “gut health,” found in fermented foods that on this blog I am so fond of making and promoting.  Probiotics encompass  that thriving world of micro-organisms that need to form our “micro-flora:” humans evolved with them for health and immunity.  They are the positive bacteria that help us digest, to glean nutrition from our food, and keep the intestines — our “second brain” — happy and impermeable.  All this is very much in the nutrition and health news; I am just trying to string together what I can…

Anything with inulin like Jerusalem Artichokes, chicory, also dandelion roots, apparently, is a good Prebiotic, and so are leeks and onions.   My nutritionist friend Annie Green  says ” if someone is prone to bloating or IBS-like symptoms its not always a good idea” — she recommends people checking out “FODMAPS” —  so many things to consider.

I have had terrible stomach pain from overdoing Jerusalem Artichokes (which I love) (and which my friend Vicky mixes with Chard to make a delicious soup called Poor Man’s Watercress Soup, should your body be OK with this food).  Just had to mention that soup– it was so yummy!  Maybe if I’d eaten more totally-probiotic sauerkraut that day, the Prebiotics would have vanquished the ill-effects?  Or maybe I’m someone who would benefit from a Prebiotic supplement?

I’m just musing–  not feeling like I have to be authoritative with knowledge in any way, this sunny morning….

There is so much.  So many people and issues with grains, with depression, with mental “disorders,” (hate using that word), with terrible stomach ailments, migraines, allergies.   So many approaches to dietary health, to heal, to help us get old gracefully.  Taking our health into our own hands, not counting on the efficacy of what pharmaceuticals offer (which isn’t to say totally rejecting them, IMHO)– this is part of DIY culture too.  Paula Wolfert, doing it for Alzheimer’s, is a Food Hero.

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