Feb 032016
 
Sourdough pain de campagneOver on Instagram, my friend Carla has created something of a stir with her bread. As you can see below, Carla has made beautiful pain de campagne to a recipe I developed using some of the great bakers’ ideas as my inspiration.

 

The smell..the feel..the loud crackling..this is my BFF bread.. thanks @carl_legge 😙

A photo posted by carla (@carla_tomasi) on

Carla & I have both emailed out a few copies of the recipe. But Carla and Samantha @pastafrolla were insistent that I should publish something about it and for me to break my blog hiatus. So here goes…
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:07
Mar 312015
 

Carrot top pestoOnce you know how to make carrot top pesto, you’ll never want to waste your carrot ‘greens’ ever again.

My recipe appeared online and then in my book The Permaculture Kitchen. Since then, I’ve seen carrot top pesto used by loads of people in all sorts of creative and scrumptious ways. I thought it’d be good to collect some of those ideas together as a source of inspiration. The recipe for the carrot top pesto aka ‘CTP’ is at the bottom of this post.

How to use carrot top pesto

Bread

Carla Tomasi made these delicious bread sticks with black pepper and CTP spread over the dough before she twisted and baked it. Ideal with drinks and antipasta.
Carla's bread sticksAlso good is the CTP spread on bruschetta or toast with one or more of cheese, olives, veg, anchovies or shellfish.

Pasta

Thane Prince used the CTP to dress penne in this scrummy pasta bake with cherry tomatoes.
Thane's pasta bakeYou can just as easily just mix it through cooked pasta: just leave some of the cooking water in the pasta to help make the ‘sauce’. Or use it with ricotta or mascarpone filled ravioli or other filled pasta. Peas go well in the stuffing.

Vegetable Tart

Francoise Murat spread the CTP over the base of a puff pastry case and filled with tomatoes and delicious vegetables. Just bake till tender.

Easy- spread on puff pastry, add roasted tomatoes (vinegar+sugar+oil), peas +vegies, mozzarella bake 20 mins  = trop trop bon!

Rice and grains

CTP is ideal mixed into risotto or with farro/bulgur and other grains.

Roasted and baked veg

I love CTP spread on all sorts of veg including potatoes, oca, mashua, aubergine, courgettes, carrots (!), parsnips, onions which are then roasted. Use as a filling for that warming baked potato.

Meat, chicken, fish & seafood

CTP is delightful spread on all these to roast, grill or pan fry. Stuff it under the breast skin of a chicken before roasting. Slather on salmon before you grill it. Pop a blob on a juicy steak as you serve it.

Carrots a large bunch

Carrot top pesto recipe

Ingredients

Feel free to scale the recipe to suit what you have available.

It’s important that you use the young, tender carrot tops. The leaves & stalks from larger ones tend to be a bit tough.

100g of young carrot tops (a large bunch)
1 clove of garlic, peeled (you can use more)
50g whole almonds (it doesn’t matter whether they are blanched or not) Hazelnuts would work well too.
50g parmesan, roughly diced
150ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

If you need to, wash the leaves to get rid of any mud and grit. Pop them in a big saucepan over a high heat and pour over a large splash of boiling water. Cover the saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes until the leaves are just wilted. Strain in a colander and refresh with cold water to stop them cooking. Drain completely and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. If you don’t need to do this, then you’ll get a fresher result.

Dry roast the whole almonds in a heavy based pan or in the microwave until they are nicely browned.

Cut the garlic cloves into slightly smaller pieces which will help them blend evenly.

Put the almonds, garlic and a small amount of the carrot leaves into a food processor. The carrot leaves help the other ingredients process well. Process until the almonds and garlic are finely chopped.

Add the rest of the carrot leaves and process until they are puréed. You’ll probably need to scrape down the sides of the processor a few times to ensure even processing. Add the parmesan cheese and process until well mixed, scraping down if needed.

What you’re going to do next is to add the olive oil to make a fluid paste. Add it gradually, stopping to test consistency and scraping down the sides. The consistency I was after I call ‘falling over’ consistency so that the pesto just falls into the blades of the processor as it turns. So, with the food processor running, gradually add the olive oil until you get your desired consistency.

Then check for seasoning. I added a good grind of black pepper and a couple of pinches of sea salt and processed that in.

Keep in the fridge covered in oil.

 Posted by at 17:09
Mar 302015
 

Padana Agrodolce
We spent a very happy few days in Ostia Antica near Rome with Carla Tomasi earlier this month. We ate like royalty and had lots of fun cooking with, and learning from, Carla. I’ll share some of the recipes in the coming weeks as I recreate them from my notes.

The first recipe is for griddled, sweet and sour marinated pumpkins or squash – aka, in Italian, zucca in agrodolce. As it happens, Carla was reminded of this Sicilian recipe by Rachel Roddy whom we also met there for a grand day in Rome.

Rachel was very kind to give us a swift tour around Rome in torrential rain and a tour (and lunch) in Testaccio where she lives. As with everyone we met in Italy, she and her partner Vincenzo were incredibly generous. Look out for Rachel’s first book Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome which I’m very much looking forward to.

Here’s the recipe on Rachel’s blog, I’ll let her tell the story as she writes beautifully. Variations from Carla and from me are below…

I used a padana squash that we’d grown last year…
Padana pimkin Carla varied the recipe by including some mint, parsley and a little chilli when she put in the vinegar. I used a mixture of Emporer’s mint and oregano. Carla and I used apple cider vinegar.

Agrodolce cooking on Carla stove

Cooking on Carla’s stove

Chicken and lentilsAt Carla’s we had it first with a Roman pan roast lamb and then next day as part of a huge lunch when another Testaccio resident Sigurd came for lunch. It tastes even better after a good chance for all the flavours to blend.

I served it first with chicken and some dressed lentils.

The next day, I chopped up the pieces so they were smaller and used it to coat some penne – molto bene.

This is a crackingly simple and delicious dish, let me know how you like it 🙂

 Posted by at 14:15

Stuffed sardines recipe, sarde a beccafico

 Autumn, Dairy, Recipes, Seafood, Seasons, Spring, Summer, Winter  Comments Off on Stuffed sardines recipe, sarde a beccafico
Mar 232015
 

Stuffed sardines

Stuffed sardines recipe

These sardines just melt in the mouth with a burst of herby flavour. They are a doddle to prepare and only take 10 minutes to cook. They are ideal as antipasto, as part of a buffet or a main fish course.

I developed the stuffing from ingredients I had left over from the foraging workshop I did locally. So it was a real case of the available ingredients driving the recipe.

In Italian ‘beccafico’ means ‘fig pecker’ a name for small, sweet plump birds. The dish is meant to mimic the taste of these birds. The stuffing is traditionally made with pine nuts, currants, anchovies, parsley, bread crumbs and lemon/orange juice and garnished with bay leaves. The fish tails are left to poke up out of the dish to simulate the perky birds’ tail feathers.

This quantity would serve 4 as antipasto.

Ingredients

8 plump sardines
150ml fresh ricotta (see here how to make your own)
50g of dried breadcrumbs
handful of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
large sprig of fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 lemon zest finely grated
1 lemon, sliced
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Method

Pre-heat an oven to 180°C (350°F).

If it’s not already been done, cut off the head of the sardines and gut them. Wash & gently dry them.

Cut from the gut to the tail to make it easy to butterfly bone the fish. If you fancy, cut or snip out the dorsal fin and cut off the tail. Put the fish belly down on a board so that the back is uppermost. Press down firmly on the length of the backbone and feel it separate from the flesh. Turn the fish over and remove the backbone and rib bones, with luck they will come out as one. Use a small knife to help you if you need to.

Mix the remaining ingredients apart from the extra virgin olive oil together so it makes a thick paste.

Divide the paste evenly across each of the sardines. Roll up the sardines. If you want to mimic the birds’ tail feathers roll from the wide end first: otherwise it’s easier to roll from the tail end.

Put the fish tightly in a baking dish so they don’t unroll and put a slice of lemon between each. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.
Baked stuffed sardinesThe fish can be eaten warm, I prefer them at room temperature.

Buon appetito!

 Posted by at 12:23
May 302014
 

Fermented mustard greensI wish I’d got to know mustard greens (and reds and goldens) much earlier in my growing adventure. They are such a tasty, versatile and good-hearted vegetable. And some of the varieties are great green manures, ground cover and biofumigants.

Here at Legge Towers we sow them in mid to late summer so that we can put them in the polytunnel to over winter. They get cut down by frost outside in winter, but in the polytunnel, sometimes with a little extra fleece protection they do fine.

They make a good quick green manure which may survive a kind winter, but you can also re-sow early in spring. Certain varieties (like Caliente) are good before potatoes as the gases given off by the leaves when cut down can help prevent wire worm and other pests – this is the biofumigant. You need to cut down and work in the leaves quickly though. More info on this here.

Just to say, we don’t tend to use them in the spring and summer. This is because there’s plenty else around and because we find they bolt quickly if it gets hot or dry for long (it does occasionally happen).

The mustards give us with little leaves for salads to start with. Then we get bigger leaves to use in stir fries or as a steamed/wilted veg. You can also make a lovely mustardy pesto with them. In the spring they produce wonderful flower shoots to use like sprouting broccoli.

Very tall mustard greens at end of seasonThen, as you can see they climb!

By this time, I’m thinking of the next crop that will occupy the space for the summer months. This year, I didn’t want to just compost the remains (after shredding the woodier parts). I thought I could use the more tender parts to ferment to make a tasty snack and accompaniment.

And did that work well? Oh yes. Read on to find out more. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:21

Wild garlic slaw recipe

 Foraging, Forest Garden, Permaculture, Recipes, Seasons, Spring, Vegetable  Comments Off on Wild garlic slaw recipe
Apr 112014
 

Wild garlic slawSpring is a joy not least because of the re-emergence of the wild garlic.

There’s lots of publicity in the UK at the moment about eating more vegetables. I’ve been having fun concocting meals where I replace the normal carbohydrate element (potatoes, pasta, rice etc) with tasty veg. In this recipe, I added a big hit of toasted seeds and nuts for added crunch, taste and nutrients.

Wild garlic slaw recipe

I served this slaw with a chicken & tomato sauté. It could easily be a great breakfast, healthy lunch or snack as well as an accompanying vegetable. I suggested to my son it could be a great Uni meal made in big quantity and used to dip into to save time for studying 😉

Ingredients

Vary these to suit what you have available and to suit your taste. I fancy this with some fresh ginger, chilli and coriander leaf next. You could use raw or confit garlic instead of the wild garlic. Other leaves such as chard, spinach or mustard would be nice too.

10 wild garlic leaves (use flowers too if they are there)
10 stems of Egyptian walking onion (or use the tops of spring onions or finely sliced red onion)
1 large carrot, cut into fine strips
2 or 3 big handfuls of shredded white cabbage
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
45 ml sweet redcurrant vinegar (or use cider or rice vinegar and add a tsp of caster sugar)
135 ml of olive oil
125ml (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds, toasted
125ml (1/2 cup) blanched almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Slice the wild garlic across into very fine strips. Chop the onion stems into small rounds of about 3mm.

Mix the carrot, white cabbage, wild garlic and onion together into a salad bowl.

Dressing bottleMix the vinegar and olive oil together and add some salt & pepper to taste. I use a recycled maple syrup container to do this. I’ve put markings on for my 1:3 vinegar to oil ratio on it. I can then shake it up to emulsify the dressing and squirt a controlled amount on  salads. I keep any left over in the fridge.

Pour enough dressing on the veg so they are well coated without being drowned. Give the ingredients a good toss. Have a taste and correct seasoning if you need to.

Sprinkle the seeds on the slaw and mix. Serve.

It’s as easy as that.

What’s your favourite seeds and nuts for slaws?

 

You might also like:Wild garlic mash, warm chickweed salad & seafood
Wild garlic and smoked salmon carbonara
Wild garlic and homemade ricotta pasta

 Posted by at 11:05
Apr 092014
 

Ottoman Lamb with Sultan's DelightOne of the easiest ways you can make your meal planning easier, cook more frugally and seasonally is to make a major ingredient go further. Here I show you how I used a £20 joint of local Welsh lamb leg to make three different meals for the three of us.

I’ve cooked a lot of Diana Henry lately. Well, not literally. But I’ve used her new book A Change of Appetite and her 2002 book Crazy Water Pickled Lemons as inspirations. I’m going to review A Change of Appetite in detail soon. Suffice to say, it’s bold, imaginative and may change your views about what to cook and eat.

Roast Ottoman Lamb with Sultan’s Pleasure

Diana has a fab recipe for Ottoman Lamb with Sultan’s Pleasure. This appears here in The Telegraph.

I cooked the dish as per the recipe except I used dry sherry for the red wine (it’s what I had to hand). Also, I didn’t drain off the marinade which was delightfully thick as I made it with full fat Greek yoghurt. I couldn’t bear to throw it with all those lovely flavours in.

I served the dish with wholemeal roti (like chapatis or tortilla wraps – I  made a dozen from my recipe in The Permaculture Kitchen) and fresh Nine Star perennial cauliflower with kale shoots from the garden dressed in a thick anchovy vinaigrette. It was scrummy and felt very decadent. As you can see from the pic above, I served the lamb  slightly pink.

Pulled lamb wraps with sauteed veg

The next day, I had the lamb, six roti, some of the Sultan’s Delight and half the cauliflower (uncooked) left over. I popped the lamb in the oven for another three hours on a low heat, covered with some water in the pan. It cooked so it was falling apart. I sautéed the cauliflower florets with some purple sprouting broccoli and red onion strips.

Nine Star perennial cauliflowerI shredded the lamb and mixed it with some of the roasting juices, and gently reheated the Sultan’s Delight. I blitzed the roti in the microwave for a couple of minutes. We then made up wraps with the shredded lamb on a bed of ‘Delight‘ with the veg on the side. So, so good. We all wanted more, but had no more room. I’d not wasted any ingredients and the meal was ready in a trice.

So now I just had some of the shredded lamb in its juices left.

Lamb with pak choy, flowers and brown rice

I picked some pak choy that was going to flower from the garden along with some turnip tops in the same condition. So I had flowers and some big leaves. I cut the ribs from the pak choy leaves and cut these into chunks. I shredded a couple of carrots and put these with the ribs. I roughly shredded the leaves and put these to one side with the flower tops.

I cooked some wholemeal basmati rice.

I stir fried the carrot shreds with the pak choy ribs, then added the lamb & juices and brought this to a simmer. Then I added the leaves and flowers and covered the pan. I covered this to simmer & steam the leaves and flowers.

I then served the lamb and veg mix on top of the wholemeal rice. Another very quick and frugal meal which was healthy and seasonal.

While you may not have precisely the ingredients I have to hand, I hope this shows how you can use a major ingredient with a little imagination to make the best use of it. Also how you can prepare these follow-on meals quickly to save time in a busy week. And finally, how seasonal veg make a key contribution to your diet.

Would you like to see more of my multi-day meals? Do you have favourites of your own? Please let me know in the comments.

 Posted by at 10:55
Mar 112014
 

Kombucha sourdough bread finished loaves & crumbThis successful experiment could revolutionise my baking. It means that I can bake sourdough bread in 24 hours without the need to keep an active leaven refreshed.

The bread is gloriously moist and chewy as sourdough should be. This has a big malty wholemeal taste with a rich, crisp crust. It’s not at all sharp or tangy, I know I can make a more ‘sour’ loaf if I use an overnight fridge retard to extend the fermentation time.

If you’d like to find out what I did and how to make this bread, please read on.
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:25
Feb 222014
 

Finished bottle of currant champagneIf you want a fizz that tastes spectacular, this recipe is for you. In under a month you get the full bright fruity taste of currants with a mildly mouth puckering tart-tannin background. The aroma is the wonderful woodland smell of crushed currant leaves. All this surrounded with lively & youthful fizz. I’m delighted with this discovery.

In truth, I had a freezer full of a mix of red, black and white currants. And I needed the space. In the spring, we enjoy the taste of quickly made elderflower ‘champagne’, so I thought I could experiment and do a similar thing with the currants.

It worked. And some.

To find out how easy this is to make (and other fruit ‘champagnes’), please read on.
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 15:55
Jan 232014
 

Seedy Penpal Parcel January 2014

Our Seedy Penpals exchange has got off to a grand start this year. I received this very thoughtful & generous parcel above from Lorraine last week.

Squash seeds

Lorraine sent us four different squash varieties from US seed supplier Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

  • Pattison Golden Mabre Scallop (summer squash)
  • Gelber Englischer Custard (summer squash)
  • Marina Di Chioggia (winter squash)
  • Blue Hubbard (winter squash)

We’ve been perennial squash growers here with mixed success. We’ll make a concerted effort with these to keep them very well fed and watered and hope the summer weather is kind to us.

Aubergine & Chillies

We love growing different chilli varieties and Lorraine sent us two we haven’t tried before:

Plus aubergine Black Beauty that Lorraine had over-ordered. We’ve had limited success with aubergine here with bad summers. When we lived down south, we had good crops – so fingers crossed.

We’ve just acquired a load of sash windows from a local friend (via Twitter) who is having them replaced. We’ll use these to build a super cold frame to house these gems. Hopefully the aubergines will be especially happy with them. More of this in later posts.

Brassicas

Lorraine sent us:

  • Cabbage: heritage variety Wheelers Imperial
  • Mustard – giant red
  • Mustard – komatsuna
  • Nasturtium – organic mixed, for companion planting.

It’ll be interesting to try the cabbage which we can grow for spring greens and hearts.

MustardsPT-1
We’re big fans of mustards. We grow them over winter in our big polytunnel where they produce leaves for salads and cooked veg over the winter and great shoots in the spring. The different colours and leaf shapes add welcome variety in the dark days. The mustard seeds she sent are some passed on from her earlier seedy penpal Jenny – so the connection continues.

The nasturtiums are always welcome. Apart from being great companion and bee plants they’re a great edible too. The leaves, flowers and flower buds and seed pods are all edible and delightfully peppery. So we’ll be munching on those for sure and I’ll post some recipes for them during the year.

Onion & dahlias

Tussy Mussy made 2 Jan 2014Lorraine sent us some Senshyu Yellow seeds. These are an overwintering Japanese type for autumn sowing. This is brilliant, as we’ve decided to do all our onions this way and to concentrate on varieties that we can’t buy or are more expensive to get.

And to help with our plans to have more perennial flowers for cutting and using in Debs’ tussie mussies, Lorraine sent us some great dahlia tubers. We’ll have to be patient until we can see what colours we have. I’m instructed that I’m not allowed to eat them 🙁

Ingredients

Lastly, as Lorraine is well aware of my culinary proclivities, we’re the lucky recipients of two lots of dried chillies from Lorraine’s own garden. They smell great and I’m keen to use them soon.

All round a really great Seedy Penpal package. To see Lorraine’s side of the story, see her Slow January blog post.

 Posted by at 15:25
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