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

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
Jul 282014
 

Sunflowers (2 of 6)Sunflowers induce a smile on my face. Outwardly simple, they shout “Summer!” even if the rain is pouring. And this year, they’re having a ball in our gloriously hot summer.

Carla's sunflowersWe plant lots and save seed too. On the right is part of my friend Carla’s garden near Roma, Italy. The tall sunflowers are from seed I sent her. They love the heat of Italy and have grown enormous under Carla’s care.

We leave lots of the heads for the birds during winter. There are floods of finches and tits who perform acrobatics to get their fat and protein boost.

So I was very interested when my twitter friend Pete Taylor (aka 5olly) announced he was launching a Sunflower Trial for 2014. I even sent Pete some recipes for sunflower seed butter & cheese for his blog. It’s a sort of (non) competition and we received three packets of Thompson & Morgan sunflower seeds: Solar Flash, Magic Roundabout and Mongolian Giant.

Along we these we’ve sown and planted our own saved seeds (the variety’s name has been lost in the mists of time), Short Stuff, Hidatsa Sunflower (a staple crop of the Hidatsa people along the Missouri River) and Vanilla Ice from Ben at Higgledy Garden.

Here’s a visual update of progress to this weekend. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 18:16
Jun 272014
 

Garlic Scape Pickles

Here at Legge Towers the weather has been just gorgeous since May. Which has made up somewhat for the slow and cold start to the year. We had to resow courgettes when the first lot sown in early March on heat succumbed to the less than stunning early May temperatures. So we’ve worked really hard outside for the last few weeks.

Garlic harvest - Carcassonne Our garlic has done very well and we harvested the lot this weekend. The best performing variety was a hardneck type (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) called Carcassonne. They’re great sized bulbs with a very good taste and developed great scapes. The scapes have a mild garlic heat & taste and they’re one of our summer treats.

Use the scapes in the kitchen wherever you would use garlic. You use them in bean and vegetable dips, soups, stir fries, risottos, tarts and salads. They’re gorgeous moistened with some olive oil and barbecued, griddled or grilled for a minute or two. Just season to serve with a little sea salt and perhaps a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Yesterday, I used them to make a modified Sicilian style fritedda. Fresh picked broad beans, peas and artichokes are sautéed and then mixed with herbs, extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar.

I’ve vacuum packed and frozen some of the enormous scape harvest we had. You can also make oil & pesto with them. One of my favourite scape preserves though are quick & easy pickles. Great as antipasta or as a side with vegetables, seafood meat grills or in a salad. Read on to find out how to make them. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:50
May 272014
 

Three poultry feeder hangin baskets in the polytunnelSometimes the most obvious solutions are at my feet. Which is ironic, as I was after a high-level solution.

We’ve grown tomatoes in the Big Polytunnel for a few years now. They take up quite a lot of bed space and we felt we could use the bed space more productively. But we like tomatoes and have had limited success growing them outside with the awful summers we’ve had and the associated blight. So we thought about growing some tumbler tomatoes from hanging baskets.

Now hanging baskets outdoors in a place like North Wales is asking for trouble. High winds mean they are more likely to be a missile than a useful gardening asset. So we don’t have any conventional baskets. And I needed a solution for my tomatoes that needed a proper home.

Abandoned Poultry Feeder I fell across the solution when walking in one of our fields that we’d kept chickens in years ago. The large feeder broke when the high winds (did I tell you about those?) brought a big branch down from a sycamore. But it wasn’t that broken and would still hang… And a thorny ramble through other former chicken realms yielded up two other feeders that were not in the prime of life.

I gave them a bit of a spruce and drilled some drainage holes in the bases. Some 550 Paracord (olive drab, of course) was ideal to attach the baskets to the polytunnel hanging bars. A top piece of recycling I’m sure you’ll agree 🙂

#ShowsOfHands Tying up the poultry feeder hanging basletAnd this is my contribution to Michelle Chapman’s wonderful Chelsea Fringe project for 2014: Shows of Hands. Michelle’s project aims to highlight the most precious tool of every gardener – their hands. You can read more about the project here at Michelle’s blog.

I filled the baskets with Vital Earth peat free compost with some vermiculite. I slotted in the tomato plants as I filled, leaving a good 5cm space at the top for water. The feeders/baskets come with a useful ledge and so I put some spare nasturtiums in the big one and some self-seeded thyme plants in the other.

I’m very pleased with the result and can’t wait for the tomatoes to ripen. If you look carefully at the plant in the big basket, we already have a baby tomato…

Poultry feeder hanging baskets

 Posted by at 09:46
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
Jan 202014
 

Wine barm bread sliced
It’s funny how things spread.

My twitter pal Jessica read the earlier post on how to use a cider barm to make sourdough bread. Serendipity is a wonderful thing as Jessica was racking wine that day. So Jessica contacted me on Twitter…

Jessica Bread Tweet

And so Jessica did. I’m very grateful to Jessica who sent the pictures she took and the recipe notes for her bread so I may share it more widely. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:22
Aug 182013
 

Home made vanilla essence
This is so simple to do, you’ll wonder why you ever spent the money on the shop stuff.

The picture shows my 500ml bottle of vanilla extract. Here’s how I make it…

Method

Take 6 to 8 vanilla pods and split them with a sharp knife, leaving them just attached at one end. Pop them in your cleaned bottle.

Top up the bottle with standard vodka.

Shake when you remember for 6-8 weeks.

When you’ve used about a third to a half, top up with more vodka, shake the bottle.

Uses

  • Use as directed in the recipe (like this courgette cake)
  • In cake, muffins, ice cream, custards and other sweet goods
  • It goes well with chocolate, coconut and coffee
  • It likes spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg
  • It complements chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts
  • All kind of soft fruit are improved with it
  • A bottle makes a great present for the foodie/baker in your life

I’ve bought my vanilla pods from Vanilla Mart.

 Posted by at 13:55
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