I am getting ready for Christmas, are you? Personally I don’t want to worry about getting the exact quantity of specific root vegetable for my Christmas dinner right – I rather like using what I have. So here is a recipe which is adaptable to any root vegetable at your disposal for your Christmas dinner. It is a moreish alternative to roast veggies you might have previously served at Christmas. And if you have already ordered a vegetable festive box from Riverside Market Garden you should have exactly what you need to make this dish which will complement your turkey, goose, pork or other roast of choice beautifully. I strongly recommend using a sprinkle of the delicious dukkah condiment, the recipe of which you can also find on Lia’s Kitchen website here.
Ingredients (feed 4-6 as part of a Christmas or other roast dinner)
- 600g mixed root vegetable, coarsely chopped (use equal amounts of e.g. parsnip, carrot and Jerusalem artichokes or celeriac and or 200g of each)
- 3 leeks, coarsely chopped
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp ajwain/carom seeds or dried oregano (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- Olive oil
- 2 Tbsp Dukkah mixture (optional- see recipe here https://liaskitchen.com/2015/12/12/the-wonderful-dukkah-condiment/)
- Peel or wash the root vegetable well with a brush and coarsely chop it together with leek.
- If using celeriac and Jerusalem artichokes place these in a bowl of acidulated water to avoid them turning brown, i.e. water with some lemon juice or vinegar.
- In a baking tray pour enough olive oil to line its wide base.
- Stir fry the vegetable and leek for 5 minutes after adding the salt and thyme.
- Add the sesame, adjwein or oregano (optional) and stir to make sure all veg is coated well in the oil.
- Roast for 40 minutes in a medium oven (180 centigrade) until the veg is cooked enough to pierce with a fork but does not fall apart.
- Sprinkle with the Dukkah mixture generously once you have removed from the oven. If you do not want to add the Dukkah season to taste adding a couple of pinches of salt.
This year our dream team consisting of Green City Events, Cynefin Cardiff and Lia’s Kitchen will be organising more food waste reduction events in Cardiff’s Roath/Penylan, Splott and Adamsdown areas. Our first Love Food Hate Waste Roadshow on 21 November 2015 kicked off a series of roadshows and workshops to follow in 2016. We cannot explain how much we believe in what we do so we hope that our enthusiasm and dedication is contagious. Now is a great time to think about reducing your food waste and to join the fight to help do something about this ever increasing problem.
At our November 2015 roadshow we provided advice and tips on how to use our imagination to cook with what we have at home. Our savoury and sweet cake samples inspired many of you to be creative in the kitchen. So here are the recipes below. Remember don’t be afraid to replace an ingredient you are missing with another. The cake recipes were inspired by ingredients most us of are likely to waste and seasonal, affordable ingredients such as squash.
The sweet cake recipe is based on a similar recipe shared with me by a dear friend Wendy Twell about ten years ago. Whilst the savoury cake is inspired by pumpkin and winter squash which is abundant at the moment – it is designed to help people not waste some of the larger pumpkins/squash they get hold off. For more inspiration on pumpkin see here.
Follow @greencityevens, @liaskitchen, @cynefincardiff for information on upcoming events.
Thanks to www.dangreenphotography.com and Luke From Cynefin for the snaps today.
Sweet Carrot & Banana Cake
Ingredients (8-10 portions)
- 1 carrot coarsely grated
- 2 ripe bananas mashed with a fork
- 100ml/g of fat (vegetable oil or melted butter)
- 250g self-raising flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 150 sugar (caster or light brown sugar or a mix)
- 2 eggs
- 50g chopped nuts of your choice or roughly chopped chocolate
- 1 tsp mixed spices of your choices (we recommend mixing half tsp ground cardamom, half tsp ground cinnamon powder, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg)
Preparation (1.5 hours)
- Grease and line a 20cm long bread tin or a 20cm round baking tray with flour.
- Mix the flour with the baking powder and the spices of your choice.
- Mash the bananas with a fork and grate the carrot in the same bowl.
- Add the banana and carrot and mix with the flour.
- Make a well in the middle and add the fat of your choice and eggs.
- Beat well until blended.
- Bake in a medium oven (170 centigrade) for 45-1hr or until a skewer pierced into the centre comes out clean.
- If you have one banana only add another carrot. If the mixture is tight add 1-2 tablespoons of milk to make it looser so that the cake is not dry.
- Cool down the butter a little before you add to your mixture. Mix in before adding your eggs.
- The cake keeps well in the fridge for about a week.
- Have too much leftover cake? Why not eat some of it for breakfast with Greek yoghurt and honey. Or soak the drier slices win some coffee and marsala or other sweet wine, topping it with sweetened yoghurt and fruit for an alternative trifle desert which will impress all your guests.
Savoury pumpkin and mushroom cake
Ingredients (8-10 portions)
- 1 small-medium squash/pumpkin or up to 500g peeled squash/pumpkin
- 1 onion
- 300g mushrooms
- 1 small bunch of sage (30g)
- 300g cornmeal or polenta
- 200g plain flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 100g butter melted
- 50-100g cheddar cubed or grated
- 300ml milk
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 30g sugar
- Olive oil for frying
- Butter for frying
- Grease and line a square baking tray (25cm x 35cm) or a deep round baking tray (20-25cm diameter).
- Cut and peel the pumpkin or squash removing sweet. Then grate coarsely or pulse in a food processor for 2 minutes.
- Finely slice the onion, mix with the pumpkin, add two pinches of salt and stir fry in a little bit of olive oil for 10 minutes.
- Slice the mushrooms, add a pinch of salt and fry in a little butter until soft.
- Fry the whole sage leaves and their chopped stalk in a little butter until crispy.
- Mix the flours together with the baking powder.
- Add the sugar, fried veg, the butter, the cheese , the milk and the two beaten eggs and mix into a soft batter that is neither too tight not too runny.
- Season with more salt if needed and add the fried sage.
- Bake for 45min-1hr in a medium over (175 centigrade) or until a skewer pierced in the middle comes out clean.
- Raw pumpkin does not in my opinion freeze that well uncooked. Stir frying pumpkin or squash is a great way to preserve it. If you have too much cook it, cool it, freeze it and use in cakes, pies and stir fries later on in the year.
- This recipe is adaptable to various and seasonal ingredients. You can use carrot and greens such as kale and spinach. Or add more mushrooms and less pumpkin. Ingredients such as carrot, pumpkin, courgette, aubergine are good for this cake because the keep this cake moist and soft.
- Same with the cheese- why not use a mix of cheeses, or blue cheese or whatever you might have in your fridge.
- You can replace the milk with yoghurt and a little bit of water.
- If you don’t have sage tarragon is a great alternative and so is rosemary. And of course you can use dried herbs instead of fresh. 1-2 tsp should be enough for this recipe.
- Polenta or fine cornmeal is a great ingredient to store in your pantry. Many shops on or around City road in Cardiff sell big bags for very little money. It will come handy for many savoury or sweet cakes which you can use your leftovers. Introduce cornmeal to your life – it is a great ingredient to cook with! s
- This cake keeps well in the fridge for about a week. It freezes well too.
- For the summer version of this cake see here.
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.
One of the easiest but tastiest desserts you will ever make. This Portuguese-origin dessert is ingenious and literally means sawdust, named after the finely ground rich tea biscuits used to make its layers. The combination with strawberries in port is a match made in heaven and I discovered it just in time for the strawberry season.
250g thick cream
7-8 rich tea biscuit ground to fine dust
7 T condensed milk
1 t vanilla essence
220g sliced strawberries
50g caster sugar
1/2 t allspice or pimento berries ground
1 star anice pod
1/2 t vanilla extract
Small handful finely chopped basil , preferably Thai basil.
Enough port to cover the strawberries , about 50Ml
Grind biscuits to fine dust in a blender.
Whip cream to soft peaks.
Add vanilla extract and condensed milk, mix and whip again to soft peaks.
Layer four small glasses or containers with biscuit dust, a layer of whipped cream, biscuit and cream. Make layers thin.
Place in the fridge.
Slice and chop the strawberries in half.
Finely chop and basil and add to the strawberries in a bowls or container that has a lid.
Add the sugar, spices and vanilla essence and mix.
Add enough port to the strawberries to just about cover them, mix and set aside.
Cover with lid and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
About four hours is an ideal time to set the strawberries aside. The strawberries get soggier the longer you leave them.
A child’s non alcoholic version is delicious with maple syrup.
The first time around the cream whips really quickly so take care not to make it too stiff.
This time last week we were taking down our pop-up restaurant and packing Lia’s Kitchen for a return home after a successful art and dining fundraiser and one the happiest birthday’s of my life. Thank you so much for overwhelming us with support, we were fully booked with a waiting list and a few spectacular late night reservation ‘wars’ took place for the last few places at our dinner table.
To all our guests I have to say thank you, you made the atmosphere of the night so wonderful. Thank you to our lovely friends some of which travelled from London and Plymouth for this !!! But even though half the people there we had not met before and they did not know each other, when I walked in to greet everyone before we started eating I was welcomed by a relaxed and comfortable vibe. ‘How wonderful’, I thought, ‘it’s worked!’.
So that you know you have helped us raise enough dosh to cover all our expenses for setting up the pop-up restaurant and to contribute to the fundraising for the community art project in Ghana. There will be more events coming up and you can always purchase a Ghana print from Dan Green Photography to support the art project , see here.
I am so moved and impressed that we have set up and delivered this event in our spare time. Jacob’s Market opened their doors to us- thank you Liz, Ian and Mike (for your wonderful bar and cocktails)! Dan Green set up and took an exhibition of prints and pasting of images from Ghana in 24 hours. Our friends worked so hard with us- Martin chopped and cooked tirelessly. Becks was the best maitre’d with her calm assertiveness. Peanut and Dan rocked the floor and were fantastic hosts. Beth was a joy to work with and gelled wonderfully with the team shifting her attention where it was most needed. And my lovely Elpida, was a rock, washing, serving, tidying and being there to the bitter end.
Some people have asked me whether I am mad holding this event on the eve of my birthday. To this I happily respond that I probably am. But this was the best birthday ever because to see people coming together to support art and food ventures, to see them loving the food and the environment we set up in a white walled gallery is precious. And because I shared a sense of achievement so big with new faces and people I love. I guess it is true that joy when shared is magnified by a million.
See you on 26 October at The Pot, Crwys Road, for the next one!
Beetroot …. its colour is vivid, its name is like an eclectic type of music to dance to, its taste earthy but versatile and adaptable. Deeply influenced by Tom Robbins’ novel ‘Jitterbug perfume’ I have developed this strong belief that beets help build physical, emotional and mental resilience, they feed warriors and lovers, they make you stronger, protect and empower you. I am besotted with this root veg!
This September the beetroot at the two farmers’ markets in Cardiff is gigantic, earthy but deliciously sweet. So make sure you grab some from the local stalls either at Roath or Riverside-don’t miss out on its autumnal delight.
Last weekend golden beetroot was the star guest ingredient of a sweet balsamic vinaigrette salad at our art and dining supper club. A few weeks ago, in the first few weeks of September, a beetroot and carrot soup with caraway seeds warmed us up when the weather suddenly turned cold. And only yesterday I concocted a Moorish , colourful beetroot dip, which I urge you to try making without reservation. Enjoy the recipe below.
Enough for at least 8 starter portions
- 500g mixed or red beetroots washed well but not peeled
- 500gr Greek strained yoghurt
- 200gr feta cheese
- 30gr chives
- 2 cloves of garlic, crashed
- 2 t paprika
- 1/2 t cayenne pepper
- 1 T white wine vinegar
- enough olive oil to make dip smooth (about 1/2 cup)
- salt and pepper
- Roast the beetroot in a hot oven until soft for around forty minutes.
- Whilst the beetroot are roasting prepare a paprika and chive yoghurt dip.
- Cream the feta cheese with one-third of the olive oil and the vinegar in a food processor (pulse) or in a deep bowl with a spoon.
- Add the chopped chives , the crashed garlic , the paprika and cayenne pepper . If added to a food processor pulse again.
- Smoothen the cheese base by adding all the Greek yoghurt. Add another third of the olive oil and stir well.
- Remove from the food processor.
- Try a bit of the yoghurt base and adjust seasoning according to taste.
- After the beetroot is roasted and soft enough allow it to cool enough to peel the skin.
- Cream the beetroot in a food processor or chop and mash in a bowl with a fork.
- Add the yoghurt dip and as much oil as needs to make it blend well (you might not need any more).
- Taste and adjust the seasoning of required.
- Serve with carrots, celery or breads.
Yesterday my hungry belly and mind dug up a craving for a Persian frittata we recently tried in Bristol. I was reading about the Persians reaching the coastline of Pelion in ancient times in a book by Kostas Akrivos about Alfons Hochhouser, the Austrian pioneer of Eco tourism in Pelion. Funny how even historic facts turn to recipes in my world.
Kuku is an easy and delicious recipe. You need a large quantity of mixed herbs and eggs but the rest is very easy. It took me about 20 minutes to make. The result is a fragrant, beautiful and tasty dish!
3 cups finely chopped dill, parsley, coriander, chives or fresh onions
1 tsp turmeric
100g dried cranberries and cashews chopped
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Knob of butter
Preheat the oven for 10 minutes.
Chop equal amounts of all herbs and mix in ball
Beat the eggs.
Add the salt, pepper, garlic and mix.
Add the herbs , cashews and cranberries and mix.
Pick a frying pan that can be placed in the oven and melt the butter.
Pour the mixture in and lower temperature.
Fry for a couple of minutes until the sides start firming up.
Then place in the oven for 5 minutes in high temperature until it firms up.
Remove cool down and eat.
The frittata freezes well.