Author: Lia Moutselou
There is one thing you cannot do with celeriac, and that is to leave it out in the air once you peeled it because it quickly discolours. But if you put it in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice or white wine vinegar, whole, diced, sliced, chopped, grated or cut julienne it can wait for you to prepare great dishes in the kitchen.
The wonderful celeriac, a milder variety of celery, is extremely versatile and nutritious. Once you overcome the task of peeling, washing and immersing it in acidulated water you are half way there. You can almost do everything with the root of celeriac, be it a plain mash, creamed with salted butter and any spice of your choice for your roast or fish; a layered bake in white or red tomato sauces; a heart-warming soup; an alternative roast vegetable to parsnip or; a quick and simple stir fry with celeriac diced, chopped or grated. Its aroma is subtle but has enough depth so you don’t need to over spice or flavour it.
Celeriac makes a great accompaniment to beef, lamb, duck, white or smoked fish, scallops and loves bacon and spicy sausages, such as chorizo and merguez. It goes well with sage, dill, parsley and mint; and sits beautifully with milky and creamy sauces and dressings. You go as far as trying delicious (vegan) curries with coconut milk, fenugreek and turmeric if you are a spice explorer in the kitchen. Celeriac fritters work well as the vegetable takes other flavours on well; thin celeriac chips in tempura batter is a delicious beer snack, and recently when I was reading Nopi, the brand new Ottolenghi book, I came across one of the easiest ways to cook celeriac, after washing it well, trimming it, leaving the skin on and baking it for three hours in a medium hot oven! I kid you not, the possibilities are endless.
So when you come across the celeriac root in your October Riverside Market Garden Box (which of course I strongly recommend you order with no hesitation) don’t be phased by it. Start by chopping off its bottom root, and trim its hairy and nobly bits off fearlessly whilst peeling it with a small sharp knife or peeler of your choice. Use a vegetable brush to wash the mud and grit off well before immersing in acidulated water.
The two recipes below can start you off and are both are inspired by and use seasonal in my October Riverside Market Garden vegetable box. There is a quick salad and a soup suggestion rather different than the usual celeriac recipes you could google. Enjoy!
Riverside Garden raw celeriac and apple salad with Greek yoghurt remoulade dressing
Ingredients (4 portions)
- 200g celeriac, peeled in ribbons or cut julienne (small sticks)
- 1 red apple, sliced of cut julienne
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 small bunch of mint, coarsely chopped
For the dressing
- 200g Greek yoghurt
- 1.5 teaspoons mustard or mustard powder
- 1 handful of capers, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 big pinches of salt
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
- Trim, peel, brush and chop the celeriac.
- Place in acidulated water with either a squeeze of lemon or a tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
- Halve or quarter the apple, removing the core and chop or slice julienne.
- Mix the apple and celeriac and dress with the tablespoon of vinegar.
- To prepare the yoghurt remoulade mix the ingredients for the dressing and season to taste.
- Either mix the dressing on the ingredients or place on top, sprinkling it with the mint.
- 1 small celeriac is around 200g- don’t worry too much about accuracy measurement, you can use more or less than that in your salad.
- Gherkins are a fine replacement for capers.
- If you have ready-made piccalilli you can use that to flavour your yogurt dressing.
- This salad is delicious with toasted walnuts, smoked salmon or haddock, and roast lamb.
Riverside Garden Celeriac and Beetroot soup
Ingredients (4 portions)
- 200g celeriac, chopped
- 200g mixed beetroot, chopped
- 200g potato, chopped
- 100g red split lentils (optional)
- 1 leek
- 3 spring onions or half a dry onion
- 2 bay leaves (preferable but optional if you don’t have)
- A small bouquet of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- Olive oil
- Salt to season
- Handful of finely chopped capers
- Apple slices
- Toasted cumin and caraway seeds
Preparation (45 minutes)
- Peel and chop all the vegetable, and follow the celeriac preparation tips as in previous recipe.
- Sauté the leek, onion and bay leaves (if you are using) in a bit of olive oil (2-3 tablespoons) with a pinch of salt until translucent.
- Add the chopped vegetable and lentils (if you are using).
- Stir fry for 5 minutes and coat well in the oil.
- Add the stock and thyme, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and thyme stacks (if you are using fresh thyme bouquet).
- Season to taste if needed.
- Cream with a hand blender if you prefer a creamy soup.
- Serve with a pinch of chopped capers, some sliced apple and a sprinkle of toasted cumin & caraway seeds.
- Don’t worry about exact weighting of vegetable. You roughly require 1/3 of each vegetable in equal amounts.
- I strongly recommend using of bay leaves but if you don’t have them thyme or other herbs will do fine.
- Blending the soup results in a nice consistent colour but you don’t have to.
- Use more cumin than caraway seeds. Caraway complements beetroot beautifully but can be overpowering. Sprinkle with caution.
- Pear is also delicious with this soup if you don’t fancy apple. It’s all in season anyway!
This morning I thought I had missed call from someone I have worked during the last two very intense years of my water related job (which takes up most of my time during the week). He has accepted a job in a faraway warm rich place and I had sent him a farewell card. I called him back to wish him well, thinking it was his last day at work. At this stage of our testing professional relationship, having been through intense challenges, trials and tribulations, we could just be human, and focus on the person immigrating to a different country, leaving their home behind, regardless of whether this is done happily or sadly. So it was to my surprise that at the end of the conversation he chose to say something awkward. It aimed to question the role of the hard working organisation I spend almost all of my working week at to protect the interests of the public in a private UK water industry. Still I obliged him. It was not personal, he’s a good guy, it was probably his way of joking and he was making small talk whilst I was calling to wish him good luck from the bottom of my heart.
Straight after that I went to Oasis, a refugee charity in Cardiff, where hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers, migrants or immigrants, receive support and food every week. I found myself in the kitchen with women from Ghana, India, Uganda, Zambia, Albania whilst they were cooking a meal for ninety odd people who will have lunch at Oasis today. I met them for the first time. They all probably have interesting stories, perhaps some of these stories are harrowing. Some of them have their children at their home country whilst they work here. Still they opened their mind and their arms to me as soon as I walked in. You know that sense of that we are all in it together? That’s what I felt.
This morning I felt relieved as I was putting the phone down, being thankful for the bad signal that interrupted the awkward final bit of my discussion with a newly appointed ex-pat . And as I was leaving Oasis I felt grateful to Reynette and the women in the Oasis kitchen for opening their door to me, to cook, to share & record their recipes and listen to their experiences. As a human.
I think I know for good which conversation I’d rather be in.
During the summer of 2015 Lia’s Kitchen market stalls have consistently offered a zingy aromatic polenta cake with a soft but grainy texture.
The inspiration for this cake comes from the Greek revani cake and another cake recipe I once found in a ‘Good House Keeping’ little book of cakes and bakes back in 2004 when I was teaching myself to bake by following each cake & bake recipe of various cook books. Revani is traditionally made with coarse semolina and a soaked in a lemon syrup, usually served chilled. The rosemary syrup was one of the things that the ‘Good House Keeping’ book added to this recipe as well as the use of cornmeal instead of semolina. I decided to go a step further to make this cake fully gluten free by using gluten free plain flour. The scent of the syrup can be changed and past experiments of mine include lavender, basil, rosewater and well as orange blossom syrup (with orange instead of lemon in the cake).
Allow plenty of time for preparation as the cake requires 45 to 60 minutes baking. This recipe is for a large 20cm cake tin and sixteen portions. Half the ingredients and you can have a smaller cake which also bakes well in a bread or loaf tin.
Makes 16 portions
- 400g coarse cornmeal or polenta
- 100g gluten free plain flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 medium eggs
- 3 egg whites
- 800g caster sugar
- 400ml water
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- 10 Tablespoons strained Greek yoghurt (like Total)
- 2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Zest of one lemon
- A sprig of rosemary
- Enough oil or butter and plain flour to line 20cm round spring baking tin
1.5hrs including up to1 hr baking time
- Mix the flour, baking powder and polenta in a bowl.
- Mix the olive oil, yoghurt, lemon juice and lemon zest well until ingredients don’t separate.
- Beat the eggs (and egg whites) with half the sugar until pale and creamy.
- Add the yoghurt mixture to the egg mixture and stir well.
- Fold in the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Line the baking tin with fat and flour.
- Pour the mixture in and bake on 160-170 centigrade for 45 to 60 minutes (mid oven self).
- Simmer the washed rosemary sprig, sugar (400g) and 400ml of water for ten minutes.
- Remove the rosemary sprig immediately unless you prefer a strong rosemary aroma.
- The cake is ready when a skewer comes out clean from the middles of the cake.
- Remove and cover with a clean towel for ten minutes.
- Pierce cake with the skewer and pour the syrup over it whilst in the tin.
- Do this gradually in case your cake does not absorb all the syrup.
- Allow 5 minutes for the syrup to be absorbed.
- Turn out to a serving plate.
- If you have large eggs reduce them to 3 and add one egg white. Your mixture must be loose but not too runny. If it is too ‘tight’ when you stir you can add the extra egg white or some more oil and yoghurt. Alternatively you can always add more polenta and flour but this might change the texture of the cake when baked.
- Keep the egg yolks. You can refrigerate for 2 days or freeze. Or you can make a delicious hollandaise sauce for a poached eggs breakfast.
- If your lemon is quite juicy, you can add more to your cake depending on you taste or make yourself a nice cup of tea with lemon and honey to enjoy whilst baking.
- If you are baking for someone with Crohn’s disease or severe gluten intolerance, double check that your polenta/cornmeal is actually gluten free. Some products are packaged in factories handling gluten which could spoil it for your or one of your guests.
About a month ago I started visiting the people who grow delicious food locally. It was a good reminder that the food we put on our plates and which many times is grown organically, is a hard labour of love. I walked and talked with Tom from Bleancamel Market and then Poppy and Debby from Riverside Market Garden.
Alongside with discussions I had last autumn with Poppy Nicol working with Riverside Market Garden these visits became the inspiration for a pop-up pie shop at Roath Farmers’ Market on 23 May 2015. This was a true collaboration with hardworking growers. The Greek pies we offered people used fresh ingredients from Riverside Market Garden, either picked or foraged from the farm a couple of days before the event. Blaencamel Farm also supplied some of their delightful rainbow chard.
We are nearing the end of a period called the hungry gap when new crops, such as for example potatoes and carrots, are not there yet or are available in small amounts. Instead of focussing on what we don’t have we looked around us to the delightful and nutritional greens that are available throughout May. This awareness of wild greens’ abundance has also been the result of on-going research into wild foraged greens that I spent my childhood eating and picking with my family. Catalan Chicory, radishes, dandelions, purslane, chard and beetroot leaves have been a staple of the Greek diet for years and indeed many restaurant offer these as a delicacy in inspired recipes with fish, lamp, cuttlefish or in plain refreshing summer salads. In the past year I have been making the connections between what grows in the place I grew up and the place I live. And I have been noticing that many growers have been cultivating or even introducing some of these feisty crops into our diet.
My choice to make pies is not only because of my love of pie and my mission to make sure that everyone in Britain knows what a good homemade Greek pie tastes like, but also because wild green pies have something special because of their freshness – they always surprise people with the flavour and texture of their ingredients.
On 23 May we sold all our wild green pies and hopefully we helped people reimagine they can do with the food that nature gives them each season.
I have one message to leave you with- support your local growers, visit the markets they attend and order your precious life giving food from them where you can. Remember that fresh and organic also means nutritious and healthy. And of course as ever I would like to say: don’t forget to eat more pie!
Want to learn how to make Greek Pie?Contact Lia’s Kitchen for private cooking lessons, catering orders and bespoke pop-up events & dinners. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our mailing list.
Visit www.riversidemarketgarden.co.uk to find out more about your local growers. A weekly vegetable box scheme is delivered in Roath, for more information see here:
Our menu on 23 May included Nettle and green garlic pie, Chard pie, Chard & dandelion pie with chocolate mint and fennel leaves.
If you are left with little pieces of chocolate eggs or you want to make the most of Easter chocolate on offer at shops this week this easy and quick dessert recipe is for you. It requires no baking and it is a great one to make with the kids, who I am sure will be quite happy to help you smash those biscuits!
Kormos, which means tree log in Greek, is unlike the baked chocolate log recipes you know. It uses crumbled biscuits, roughly chopped nuts, melted chocolate to make a delicious dessert that does not need baking and can be frozen for a while if you would rather not eat any more chocolate for a while.
Ingredients (feeds 10)
- 300g mixed chocolate
- ¾ -1 packet of rich tea biscuits roughly crushed
- 150g and up to a cup roughly chopped almonds or other nuts of your choice
- 350g double cream
- 100g icing sugar
- 3 Tablespoons amaretto liqueur or cognac
Preparation (20 minutes and 2-3 hour refrigeration time)
- Melt the chocolate with the cream, the liqueur and the icing sugar and melt in a bain marie.
- Remove the melted chocolate mixture from heat and cool down.
- Roughly chop or crush the almonds and the biscuits.
- Mix the biscuits and almonds well in the mixture.
- Line a bread baking tin with baking paper making sure there is enough excess paper on all sides to fold around the mixture.
- Pour the cooled down mixture in the tin and fold the baking paper neatly around it.
- Refrigerate overnight or at least for 2 hours on the coolest shelves of the fridge.
- You can speed up the process by adding the mixture in the freezer for an hour.
- Once the mixture is cooled down and more solid you can remove from the tin, wrap in cling film and then refrigerate or freeze.
- Before serving, dust with some cocoa powder and slice to serve.
- If you have less chocolate you can still make this dessert. For 150g chocolate (half the amount in the recipe) add ¾ cup evaporated milk and 3 tablespoons cocoa powder.
- There are many ways to make this dessert, you can swap the cream with a tin of condensed milk if you are using dark chocolate. Just make sure you remove the icing sugar and add about 100g butter too.
- It is also possible to make the dessert without any chocolate – just replace the cream and chocolate with 250g butter, 6 tablespoon cocoa power and increase the icing sugar to half a cup.
- Basically this is a great leftover recipe and you can adapt it to what you have or can afford.
- You can keep the log frozen – just make sure you take it out of the freezer for 3 hours or overnight before serving.
- My ‘bain-marie’ is a pyrex bowl placed over a pot of boiling water.
This is a recipe I have been playing with for years and I finalised it recently whilst delivering the Love Food Hate Waste campaign in Roath. I was looking for recipes in my notebook that can help people use their leftovers and what they have in the fridge/freezer. The savoury cake was one our roadshow freebies and was sampled at our last Love Food Haste Waste event on 10 Mach at Cardiff Students’ Union in return for pledges to take action to reduce waste.
It is a delicious recipe that can be adapted to help you use greens and smaller quantities of leftover vegetable. The batter can remain the same and you can be as creative and daring as you like with what flavours you create. You end up with an amazing tasty snack on its own or with some relish or chutney on top and a (gluten-free) substitute to bread which is fantastic with soups or a tin of baked beans.
Cornmeal is a basic ingredient for one of my favourite Greek breads called Bobota. Grated pumpkin and marrow with cornmeal and feta cheese has always been one of my most favourite bakes that my southern Greek Granma Vasiliki used to make for us. And five years ago the lovely Zoe English, of Bird to Market, handed over Nenneh Cherry’s cornbread recipe to me after my excited squeals on tasting it for the first time in my life. So this savoury cake recipe is born from all these influences and is fast becoming one my favourite things to make this spring. I have adapted it to be gluten free – through the use of gluten free plain flour. And with courgette and tomato season approaching and rainbow chard already on the tables at our Farmers’ markets I am very excited for the many versions of the savoury cakes you could be imagining. Enjoy!
Ingredients (1 Bundt or other round 23-25cm baking tin)
- 350g Plain flour, preferably gluten free mix
- 250g Cornmeal (coarse or medium)
- 4 tsp Baking powder
- 80g Sugar (caster)
- 100g Butter melted
- 2 Eggs
- 450-480ml Milk
- 1-2 pinches of salt
- Some extra butter and flour for lining the baking tin
- 1 Small bunch fresh basil or other mixed or frozen herbs, including stems (around 30g)
- 225g Cherry or mini plum tomatoes (up to 300g)
- 1 Onion
- 2 medium or 1 large courgette diced OR
- 1 aubergine diced
- 1 Medium courgette coarsely grated
- 150g grated cheese, parmesan and cheddar mixed (or whatever you have available)
- salt & paper to season
Olive oil for the frying
Preparation (1hr and 15 minutes)
- Prepare your vegetable mixture first to allow enough time to cool.
- Fry the sliced onion with a pinch of salt, cover and let to nearly caramelise whilst you prepare the rest.
- Dice the courgettes or aubergine and halve the cherry or plum tomatoes.
- Add the courgette or aubergine with another pinch of salt and fry for 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and basil, stir and cover until all ingredients soften- for around 5 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Remove from heat to cool down.
- Grate the last courgette and the cheese.
- Mix the flour, cornmeal and baking powder.
- Add the rest of the dough ingredients and mix well so that there are no lumps.
- Add your fried ingredients, raw courgette and cheese.
- Pour into a lined baking tin and bake on 180 Celsius for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
- The batter should be moist but not too runny. You can add 450ml of the milk first and see if you need to add more after you add the tomatoes and vegetable.
- You can use spinach and other greens such as Kale. Feel free to experiment with various herbs ad ingredients. Use what you have in the fridge and for inspiration on flavours look up focaccia recipes.
- This is a great recipe for using those herbs that you have in the freezer or the ones that are about to go off in the fridge!
- For a bread tin and smaller quantity of the cake halve the recipe ingredient.
- The cake rises quite a lot and it keeps well in the fridge for about a week.
In the past couple of months I have worked with Green City Events and Cynefin Cardiff to deliver two cooking workshops and a roadshow to help the kind people of Roath to find ways to reduce their food waste. We have done this in the process of delivering the Love Food Hate Waste Campaign  in Cardiff supported by Wrap Cymru.
The week after our last cooking workshop on 21 February I decided to practice what I preach and took my own personal Love Food Hate Waste challenge. I pledged to shop very little food (apart from fresh essentials) and to eat what is already in my cupboards and freezer for the most part of the week.
The challenge was a great creative success and I saved around £30 as I only bought small quantities of milk, some cheese and some salad to complement the meals we made.
The meal I was most proud of that week was a Mexican spice inspired vegetable dish made from frozen cauliflower, quorn mince and spinach (all commonly kept in my freezer), the leftover greens that we did not use at the cooking workshop on 21 February, the final two spoons of yoghurt, a tin of black beans from my essentials’ pantry and the last cup of couscous from that bag that we have not eaten for ages. Not only did that dish give us dinner and lunch the next day, I actually froze a couple of portions in anticipation of the busy week that followed.
During my challenge I looked carefully through my cupboards and my freezer. For example, I thawed just over half a kilo of meatball mix that was leftover from one of our supper clubs and made a linguini ragú with which gave us a couple of meals for two and another frozen meal.
At the Love Food Hate Waste workshops we aimed to empower people to make personal and household changes to their food consumption and wastage. Lots of people seemed worried about getting a recipe right or that they couldn’t cook with random ingredients. So hopefully through making different mixed vegetable Ribollita soups with various herbs and whatever vegetable was available to us at the same workshop we empowered participants to be creative and daring in adapting recipes to what they have or can afford. Experimenting is the way!
I would definitely recommend Eat-What-You-Have weeks like mine as they will help you sort through your cupboards and freezer. Making shopping lists or using the online Love Food Hate Waste App on your smart phone can help you loads with shopping and meal planning. And if you fancy being inspired by seasonal ingredients or what is on offer, why not browse www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for ideas.
One of the most useful tips I could give you to save food and money is to be aware of what you already store in our cupboards before heading back to the shops. Also storing food correctly, e.g. labelling it, using airtight containers or keeping your fridge temperature low will make you yield more meals from what you buy. Using your freezer more and keeping it tidy is another step to help you achieve this by prepping food in advance, storing the right amount of frozen basics or storing extra portions from meals.
The whole process of this project has made me think long and hard about food waste and food poverty. According to the Trussell Trust the number of people using food banks has almost tripled since last year. And whilst this is because of the increase in the number of food banks set up, a noteworthy effort to help an increasing number of people in need, I cannot reconcile this fact with the amount of food still being wasted in the UK. It is estimated that we still throw away 7 million tons of food and drink a year. This is food is costing all of us £12.5bn each year.
Today I was reading about France’s Good Samaritans law which protects those helping someone in need or peril from being sued or accused if something goes wrong. It is important to protect public health and to minimise risk for people in the food sector. But I wonder, would the introduction of a ‘good Samaritan’ legal principle in the UK encourage all of us personally as well as larger corporations or small (food) businesses to do more to address food poverty or to donate food that we would have otherwise wasted?
 Love Food Hate Waste is a campaign that has been running since 2007 and run by WRAP, a well-established not-for profit company that is responsible for a lot of good work in on resource efficiency and waste reduction across the UK.