May is the period of the hungry gap but at Blaencamel Farm where, during this period of summer anticipation , they continue to grow nourishing greens. Gem and pink, and green Battavia lettuce have appeared on the stall. There is spinach, sweetheart cabbage, wild and green garlic. Whilst the seasonal bouquet garni can complement the dill that makes this spring soup so special.
May’s recipe is a Greek traditional Easter soup with a Welsh and clean-eating twist! Mageiritsa is traditionally cooked with lamb’s liver and plenty of greens and salad leaves. This is a vegetarian version and could be made vegan if you choose to not use avgolemono, the egg-lemon sauce typical of many Greek recipes. If you live in Wales what makes this Mageiritsa extra special is using dried kelp from Pembrokeshire. And the final Greek note is the use of the tangy and sharp sea buckthorn berry, which is becoming a staple in my cooking this year.
Visit www.liaskitchen.com for more ideas and monthly seasonal recipes inspired by Blaencamel Farm’s crops.
Ingredients (4-6 portions)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 -2 leeks, finely chopped
- 1 green garlic or 1 bunch of wild garlic
- 500-700g finely chopped mixed Blaencamel greens, such as spinach, lettuce and/or sweetheart cabbage
- 500g mushrooms, Blaencamel farm or chestnut if they are not available
- 1 punnet of mixed Blaencamel farm herbs (fennel, sage, mint, thyme) (Optional)
- 1 finely chopped bunch of dill or 1 tbsp. tried dill
- 2 Tbsp. uncooked rice
- 1 heaped tsp. Pembrokeshire Beach Company Kelp or other dried/crumbled sea weed (optional)
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. sea buckthorn berries roughly chopped (optional)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Around 2 litres of stock
For the Avgolemono sauce:
- 1 small egg
- Juice of one small lemon
Preparation (45 minutes)
- Coat the base of a deep pot with olive oil and sauté the onion and leeks with one teaspoon of salt until soft and translucent.
- Add the cubed mushrooms (2 -3 cm chunks) and sauté for 2-5 minutes.
- Add the finely chopped herbs, wild or fresh garlic and greens, and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
- Then add the stock, stir well and (if you are using) add the dried kelp or other sea weed, pepper and sea buckthorn berries.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes and then add the rice.
- After 20 minutes (when the rice has softened and soup has thickened) remove from the hob.
- Beat the egg really well until it is fluffy and creamy (around 5 minutes), and whilst you continue whisking gradually add the lemon juice.
- Take one ladle of hot stock from the soup, strain through a fine sieve and add the hot stock slowly to the egg-lemon mixture whilst still whisking on low speed or by hand.
- Finally add the thinned egg-lemon and stock juice to the hot soup stirring in well to make sure it flavours and thickens all of the soup.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
You don’t need to wait for the weekend for this beautiful dish. It’s a great light midweek dinner or lunch as well as the perfect weekend brunch.
We live in the age of avocado craze so admittedly this is not the first time you see a recipe like this one. But I was asked to blog the recipe by one of my followers when I posted a photo on social media…and here it is.
I love using potatoes instead of bread but sourdough or other bread is a great alternative if that’s what you have handy.
Poached eggs are an absolute treat for me but if you like scrambled or fried don’t let me stop you.
And Dukkah, the Egyptian spice condiment the recipe for which is on my blog, lifts flavours and as another page follower said ‘makes everything taste better’. So maybe have a go at making it this week.
I love smoked salmon with avocado but you can easily omit it and replace with anything you fancy, for example sundried tomatoes work really well with this dish, as does chorizo and other spiced sausage if you are a carnivore.
- 2-4 eggs, depending on your hunger
- 1 avocado, halved and thinly sliced
- 170g new potatoes
- 60g smoked salmon, half a packet
- Half a lime
- 1/4 tsp chilli and garlic paste or 4 drops of Tabasco sauce
- A few slices baby plum or cherry tomatoes
- Olive oil
- White vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Dukkah spice mix
- Wash and quarter the new potatoes (skin on) and simmer for 10 minutes, till cooked.
- Drain and mix in a bowl with the chilli sauce, a pinch of salt and a careful splash of olive oil.
- Squeeze the lime juice on top of the avocado slices and sprinkle carefully with a bit of sea salt.
- Slice the smoked salmon into thin slices.
- To poach the eggs bring a pot of water to the boil.
- Add a tablespoon of white vinegar.
- With a fork or spoon stir quickly in the middle to create a whirlpool and quickly crack an egg into its centre.
- Simmer for 3-5minutes for a runny poached egg or a bit longer if you like it firmer.
- Cook one egg one at a time.
- Serve the egg(s) on a bed of potatoes, topped with the salmon strips and the avocados on the side.
- Add sliced baby tomatoes on the avocado if that takes your fancy.
- Sprinkle the dish with the Dukkah spice mix or a bit of salt.
- You can also add more mild chilli sauces of your choice like Cholula or the coriander chilli sauce from Blaencamel market stall in Cardiff.
- A dollop of yoghurt is mighty fine with this dish too.
Have you ever ordered something in a half-asleep kind of way?
A few weeks ago when ordering pie ingredients from Cardiff Market I ended up with about 10kg of onions in excess even after cooking many caramelised onion pies. In the process of making the order I was wearing my astute-business-woman face, hiding tiredness from a long day at work. And the only thing I heard the helpful man say was ‘very little money for a lot of onions’ to which of course I said ‘yes’. It is unlike me to be imprecise with orders (on food or anything really) but this wonderful mistake gave me the opportunity to experiment cooking with a lot of onions within a short period of time.
Admittedly Dan and I will not have onion soup again for a while. But we gratefully savoured its thyme and wine flavours during a May week when the weather had turned bad, we got ill and the heating came on again. French onion soup recipes online are plenty but my version is closest to Elise Bauer’s one on Simply Recipes because I also use no butter. And on occasion I choose to leave out the garlic and also make Gruyere cheese toast on granary bread instead of baguette croutons.
The bulk of my excess onions however I turned into a spiced onion chutney. I almost followed a recipe from Allotment Growing Recipes but did not use as much sugar and added ground pimento berries, bay leaves, port and red wine. The result is a fragrant onion chutney that compliments strong and piquant cheeses competently and also works well with beef burgers. I converted and amended the recipe below for you.
Make up to 9 medium jars and about 4Kg of Chutney.
5kg onions (peeled and chopped)
800gr dark brown sugar
9 Tbsp olive oil
3 lemons, juiced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground nutmeg
3 tsp ground ginger
6 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp ground cloves
6 tsp salt
3 tsp black pepper and pimento berries ground together
9 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 Tbsp malt vinegar
1 shot of red wine
1-2 shots of port
Preparation and jarring
At least 4 hours
Heat the oil in a 5lt pot, add onions and sauté for at least 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the vinegars, lemon juice and spices and cook for 2 minutes.
Add sugar and then simmer uncovered for at least 3 hours.
Half way through cooking add the wine and port.
The chutney is ready when the liquid is reduced even if not fully evaporated- it will thicken when you stir.
About half an hour before the chutney is done sterilise jars.
Boil clean jars and their lids in bubbling water for 10 minutes.
Whilst doing that preheat the oven at 110 centigrade.
Line a baking tray with a clean towel.
Place the jars upside down on the tray using metal tongs.
Leave in the over for 15 minutes.
Ladle the chutney into hot, sterilised jars and seal immediately.
Label the jars when fully cool.
The chutney should keep for a year.
- Be prepared to peel and chop 5 Kg of onions for about hour if you have as small a kitchen as mine.
- I added the vinegars and lemons half an hour in the cooking process is as I was adding and sautéing onions gradually.
- Leave the lid off!
- Keep on low heat and stir regularly. Caramelised is good and burnt is bad.
- I put 800gr sugar but next time I’ll use less.
- Keep the jars in the oven if you have to wait a bit longer for the chutney to cook. The jars need to be hot if you are filling with hot chutney.
- Good instructions for sterilising can be found on Taste.com, an Australian website.
- The simple rule of jarring is to never add hot chutney to a cold jar and vice versa.
Today I am writing about an experiment. I have no clue whether it will work or not in its virginal attempt but I thought I’d tell you anyway because … I am excited. I have had a go at preserving lemons, which I can then use to accentuate the flavours of tagine dishes. And apparently I could even exepriment with cakes and deserts that use preserved lemons.
Lemons, their colour, their scent, their flavour, their overall character brightness, mean happiness to me. My friend Becks loves the Forsythia hedge in our garden for its yellow flowers and the tone of happiness they bring into our house. They light up the scene. Lemons and their sunshine hue have the same effect on me.
So on a gloomy day like this, when the sun might have gone on holiday to Spain, what better idea than to surround yourself with the colour yellow and cheer your self up! Have a lemonade and wear something yellow!
Ingredients for preserved lemons
Enough for a 10cm diameter jar and about 8 cm height
4 Lemons for preserving
1 Lemon for juice
1 Bay leaf
4 Heaped tbsp coarse salt
Additional coarse salt for jar layering
20min and 1 month preservation (at least)
Wash unwaxed lemons really well.
Juice the juiciest of lemons. Then slice the leftover skin in strips.
Layer the bottom of the jar with a couple of heaped tbsp of coarse salt.
Cut the four lemons in four but avoid cutting through them. Cut along the middle of the lemon first and then across.
Pull the flesh of each lemon open and add 1 or more tbsp of heaped salt inside it.
Add lemons to the jar snuggly and top with more coarse salt.
Sprinkle with peppercorns between layers.
Add bay leaves to the sides of the jar.
Top with strips of the juiced lemon flesh and top with more salt.
Pour the lemon juice over the contents of the jar.
Push down lemons with a wooden spoon to bring lemon juices out.
Seal and wait patiently for at least a month for your lemons to preserve.
- You can also use limes. I added one lime to make the experiment more interesting.
- Salt takes away the lemons bitterness. Same effect it has on aubergines when you prepare them for cooking.
- You can keep preserved lemons for about a year.
- My tinterweb research reveals thta Meyer lemons are the best for preserved lemons. I just used what I had.
- I decided to use flavourings inspired by Snowflake Kitchen’s Blog and as I have bay leaves in abundance all year around.
- Zoe English makes the best preserved lemons I have tried. Fact. She has ecnouraged me to do my own. Who she is I am sure you will find out soon 🙂
- Punk Domestics, a directory of cooks and community activity and a gateway to cookery blogs, is how I learnt to preserve lemons.
- Through Punk Domestics, I filtered down my preferred preserved lemon recipes which in addition to Snowflake Kitchen’s Blog can be seen on the One tomato, two tomato, The view from the Island (with star anise) and Head Space Canning blogs.
- Enjoy preserving sunshine!
Spring is here! I am writing to you from one of our local cafés. Its wide French doors are open to an outdoor terrace. It’s still light and warm and a soft breeze just brought in scents of blossom (and something delicious cooking in a kitchen).
I have chosen to share with you the recipe for Tourlou, a mixed vegetable dish that tastes like spring and summer to me. A fridge chilled portion of it with some crumbled feta (surprise, surprise!) is just as nice to eat as straight after cooking or cooled to room temperature. But I’d prefer the chilled version today because it makes me think of Vourvourou, my friend Maria and resting in the shade in her company sipping a chilled beer (sigh!).
Back to cooking! Tourlou is an easy recipe and great for using a medley of vegetable. It can be a light evening dinner on its own or served with rice, a delicious side dish or alternative to salad, and a fantastic tapa or meze. And apparently Tourlou is the same as briam only it’s cooked on a hob- here’s something new for food geeks like me.
Serves 2 for main and more as a meze or side
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
1 pepper, chopped (optional)
1 carrot (optional)
200g ripe tomatoes, finely chopped or chopped in blender
1 can chopped tomatoes (400g mixed weight)
Small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
Pepper (to taste)
Takes up to an hour
Wash all vegetable, peel the potatoes, and dice it all in five centimeter (large) chunks.
Sauté the onion and a pinch of salt in about two Tbsp olive oil for a couple of minutes.
Add one or two more Tbsp olive oil, the vegetable, toss and fry for about five minutes.
Add the garlic, let it fry for a minute without burning and add the tomatoes.
Add the sugar and also season with salt and pepper.
Stir well and cover.
Lower the heat and simmer for forty minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Add the chopped parsley at the end or half way through the cooking.
- For a good Tourlou do not to stir during simmering to avoid breaking the vegetable as it softens.
- The tomatoes should have enough juice for all the vegetable to cook but halfway through cooking check if you need to add a couple of Tbsp of water to make sure the potatoes cook.
- Replace potatoes with other root vegetable such as parsnip if you like.
- I prefer cooking Tourlou with more aubergine and one courgette.
- Use any vegetable you like. Okra is fantastic in tourlou but might take a bit longer to cook.
- For Briam use the same ingredients, add a little bit of water and cover a baking tray with foil. Slow cook for about an hour in the oven.
An alternative to scrambled eggs. It’s nice to imagine recipes for ingredients you did not know how to cook with. Scrambu has made Tofu part of our regular diet easily.
Serves up to 4
350gr Tofu, plain or smoked
1 onion finely chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika, plain or smoked
½ tsp salt
2 tsp mustard seeds
100gr baby plum or cherry tomatoes (handful)
100gr grated cheddar cheese
1 small bunch of fresh coriander or basil
Garam massala spices (optional if you are using coriander)
Sauté the onion in a bit of oil until translucent. Season with a pinch of salt.
Add the mustard seeds until they start popping.
Add the tomatoes sliced in half or quarters and cook for a few minutes until softened.
Crumble the tofu with your hands into the mixture.
Add the turmeric and paprika and stir with a wooden spoon. Add as much turmeric as you need to make the tofu look like scramble eggs.
Cook the tofu with your spices for about five minutes. Season with the rest of your salt and pepper.
Turn the heat off and add the grated cheese. Toss until the cheese it melts nicely.
Taste and season more if required, tofu is very bland and might need more salt than you thought it does.
Be creative with your spices in tofu. You can make Indian, Thai or Italian flavoured scrambu as we do or make your own version. Coriander goes really well with garam massala spices and you can add a chilli pepper too. But the basil and tomato version is very tasty too with a pinch of cinnamon or pimento berries.
Enjoy on warm buttered toast.
I was in Kerala in October 2012 and it was a delight in more ways than I could ever begin to describe.
One of the reasons is of course that Keralan cuisine is at the top end of the eating experiences that India could offer you. Kerala is in some ways gourmet India, a land blessed with tropical fruits, vegetable and spices and the starting points of many trails of wealth and cultural influence. If you are a culture vulture, a foodie, and a seeker of genuine community spirit, serenity and natural diversity you should make some time to visit Keralan land.
The stew dish I am introducing today is not one I tried when in Kerala- when by the way I was delighted to wake up to savoury rice puddings with egg curry for breakfast.
I learned how to cook Istoo on my return to Wales and whilst reading Vijayan Kannampilly’s, Keralan Cookbook. It is very easy to make, it is light and nutritious, and below is my fish version of it, which I hope you enjoy.
Istoo ingredients for six
700gr white fish (skinless and bones) 
3-4 medium potatoes , cubed (3cm cubes)
100-150g finely chopped ginger
1-2 coarsely chopped medium onions
1 finely chopped chili pepper
1 stalk of fresh curry leaves or a handful of dried curry leaves
2-3 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
2-3 tins of coconut milk
Salt and pepper (about 1 tsp each)
Place the potatoes, ginger, onions, chili in a deep pot and add enough boiling water to cover the ingredients.
Season and simmer until the potatoes are just soft.
Add the fish cubed in big chunks, and if the fish is not covered add some more boiling water.
Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
Stir in the coconut milk, add the coconut leaves and heat to a low simmer .
Option: add the washed spinach leaves to the stew as you do this.
Once the stew has reached its simmer turn the heat off.
Heat the coconut separately or other oil and pour it in.
Taste and season more if necessary before serving .
 You can find out about what fish you should consume to minimise your impact on our sees at the Marine Conservation Society’s website: http://www.goodfishguide.co.uk/. Look for alternatives to monkfish for this stew.
 You can add two of the coconut milk tins and some water for a thicker stew that is not as strong in coconut flavor. Or for a more soup-like version of the stew add some three tins of coconut milk and some more water.