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May’s Recipe – Vegetarian Mageiritsa, a Greek soup of greens and mushroom

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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)

  1. 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.
  2. Add the cubed mushrooms (2 -3 cm chunks) and sauté for 2-5 minutes.
  3. Add the finely chopped herbs, wild or fresh garlic and greens, and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Then add the stock, stir well and (if you are using) add the dried kelp or other sea weed, pepper and sea buckthorn berries.
  5. Simmer for about 10 minutes and then add the rice.
  6. After 20 minutes (when the rice has softened and soup has thickened) remove from the hob.
  7. Beat the egg really well until it is fluffy and creamy (around 5 minutes), and whilst you continue whisking gradually add the lemon juice.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Organic Greek Leek pie

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Most of the people I know in Britain talk about how much they love Greek spanakopita (spinach pie) but my all-time favourite is actually Greek leek pie (prasópita). What best way to bring together my two homes other than in this wholesome, winter recipe?

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Leeks are currently in season and Blaencamel Farm’s boxes and market stalls showcase this wonderful Welsh ingredient. You can make this pie using a couple of organic bunches of leek and one onion. And you will thank me for it as the flavour of Blaencamel’s leeks is special. Every bite will make you feel nourished and shun away the winter blues. Happy pie eating!

You can order Blaencamel Farm’s boxes by contacting emailing Tom Frost mailto:(tom@blaencamelbox.com). For more info click here.

Join Lia’s Kitchen cooking classes on 3 and 10 February to find out more and savour Greek cuisine. Book here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/lias-kitchen-7901836356

Ingredients (4-6 portions or 12 pieces)

  • 2 bunches Blaencamel Farm leeks (around 700g)
  • 1 onion
  • 200g Feta cheese
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 15g fresh dill (optional)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 250g filo pastry (packs available at most supermarkets)
  • Olive oil for cooking and pastry basting

For the glazing

  • 1 espresso cup milk
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds

Preparation (up to an hour)

  1. Peel, halve and slice the onion finely.
  2. Rub the salt and sugar in the onion slices with your finger until they are well separated.
  3. Let the onions sweat for ten minutes.
  4. Meanwhile trim the leeks and halve lengthwise. Place in a basin filled with water and rinse well to remove all dirt from between the layers. Repeat at least twice.
  5. Coat the base of a wide pan or pot with enough olive oil and preheat. The pot or pan should have a lid.
  6. Add the onions and slowly fry, covered until they caramelise.
  7. While the onions caramelise slice the leeks finely or roughly.
  8. When the onion is ready add the leeks and stir fry for ten minutes on medium heat until softened.
  9. Remove from heat (and pan if possible) and cool down.
  10. In a big bowl beat the eggs lightly and crumble the feta cheese.
  11. Add the leeks and onion mix to the eggs and feta. Add the pepper and mix well.
  12. Pick a baking tray (around 36cmx40 but can be a bit bigger) and using a brush or your hands oil its base and sides well.
  13. Layer half the filo pastry sheets one by one (6-8 depending on the pack), lightly oiling each sheet with olive oil using a brush or your clean fingers.
  14. Don’t oil the last sheet and pour the leek pie filling spreading it evenly across the tray with the back of a spoon.
  15. Repeat the layering process over the filling.
  16. Heat up the milk and butter in a small pot until the butter melts.
  17. Pour on top of the pie, starting from its edges but making sure that the full surface of the top sheet is also moistened. Tuck the corners in to seal the pie.
  18. Using a sharp knife slice the pie into twelve portions.
  19. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and bake in a medium oven (180 Celsius) for 30-45 minutes until golden.

Celeriac salad and soup recipes – October Riverside Market Garden vegetable box

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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

Celeriac and apple salad

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

Preparation (15-20min)

  1. Trim, peel, brush and chop the celeriac.
  2. Place in acidulated water with either a squeeze of lemon or a tablespoon of white wine vinegar.
  3. Halve or quarter the apple, removing the core and chop or slice julienne.
  4. Mix the apple and celeriac and dress with the tablespoon of vinegar.
  5. To prepare the yoghurt remoulade mix the ingredients for the dressing and season to taste.
  6. Either mix the dressing on the ingredients or place on top, sprinkling it with the mint.

Lia’s tips:

  • 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

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

Optional garnish

  • Handful of finely chopped capers
  • Apple slices
  • Toasted cumin and caraway seeds

Preparation (45 minutes)

  1. Peel and chop all the vegetable, and follow the celeriac preparation tips as in previous recipe.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the chopped vegetable and lentils (if you are using).
  4. Stir fry for 5 minutes and coat well in the oil.
  5. Add the stock and thyme, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stacks (if you are using fresh thyme bouquet).
  7. Season to taste if needed.
  8. Cream with a hand blender if you prefer a creamy soup.
  9. Serve with a pinch of chopped capers, some sliced apple and a sprinkle of toasted cumin & caraway seeds.

Lia’s tips:

  • 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!