seasonal

Spetzofái – the last of Blaencamel Farm’s Broad Beans Crop

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Whilst I may have skipped a month of sharing recipe ideas with you inspired about one of my favourite places in Wales, it seems that the summer crop that has done so well on Blaencamel Farm’s land this summer keeps going strong this first week of September. This year the almighty broad bean has inspired various summer version of one of my favourite Greek dishes, Spetzofai, a stew which hails from beautiful Pelion on the Greek mainland (the land of the Cyclopes).

 

This simple sausage stew requires flavoursome, good quality sausages containing at least leek with a hint of spice, fresh seasonal vegetable and beans. The freshly podded broad beans make for a lighter and quicker version of the dish. To replace the broad beans chose either giant (Lima/Butter) beans or cannellini. As I am always inspired by my Greek heritage, Welsh producers and my local farmers’ market so I recommend you use Charcutier’s Italian fennel or their Thyme sausages for this recipe. The stew follows the same cooking method as the July 2017 Fasolakia dish which is popular in Greek cuisine. You can adapt it to make your own vegan, vegetarian and meat dishes Greek-Stylee. As usual you can source most of the recipes at the Roath and Riverside Farmers’ Market in Cardiff as well as other farmer market locations supplied by the farm in Wales.

Order your seasonal Blaencamel veg box online www.blanecamelbox.com Find out more about Lia’s Kitchen and subscribe on Lia’s newsletters here www.liaskitchen.com

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pack Charcutier Italian Fennel or Thyme sausages, in chunky cubes (280 g)
  • 1 bag Blaencamel farm broad beans, podded (250g when podded)
  • 2 Blaencamel bell peppers, halved, seeded and sliced
  • ½ Blaencamel Hungarian wax pepper
  • 4 Charlotte potatoes, washed and halved with skin on
  • Optional – half a pack of Blaencamel farm spinach (200g)
  • 1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste or 1 large tomato grated
  • ½ glass white whine
  • 1.5-2 tsp. sea salt
  • 0.5 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 parmento/all spice berries
  • Olive oil or extra virgin olive oil

Preparation (60 min)

  1. Coat the base of a wide pot with enough olive oil to cover it.
  2. When the oil is hot add the cubed sausage and sauté until browned.
  3. Add the onion, peppers, one teaspoon sea salt and sauté until the onion softens.
  4. Add the tomato paste or grated tomato and fry for a couple of minutes stirring well.
  5. Add the chunky cubed potatoes, beans of your choice and roughly chopped spinach. Stir fry for a couple of minutes until they are well coated in tomato paste and oil.
  6. Add the wine and the chopped parsley. Stir well.
  7. Add half to one tsp of sea salt and enough boiling water to almost cover the veg and meat (but don’t submerge them).
  8. Stir well but before you place the lid on the pot to simmer for around 40 minutes, try to push the meat and potatoes to the bottom of the pot and the beans and courgettes closer to the top so that they steam.
  9. From this point on do not stir so that your vegetable does not fall apart when cooked.
  10. The dish is ready when the water has reduced but not fully evaporated.
  11. Set aside for 20-30 minutes. Or for a real Greek meal enjoy (cold or in room temperature) the next day.

Enjoy with a chilled glass of Greek Agiorgitiko Wine .

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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.

Pumpkin stir fry and savoury pie – November Riverside Market Garden Box Recipes

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It is finally pumpkin and winter quash season! The sweetness of this fantastic vegetable is ideal for moreish, savoury dishes and their salty flavours, which is exactly what I have developed for you this month. The recipes at the end of this blog are inspired by the seasonal ingredients of the November’s Riverside Market Garden vegetable box, such as leeks, fresh onions, sweet and chili peppers, and squash. But also the flavours of sage, mushrooms – currently still popping up in the Welsh forests – and chestnuts, the season of which is beginning.  I really hope you enjoy the recipes, one of which is a quicker stir fry, for days when time is precious, whilst the other allows all you skilful foodies to explore making shortcrust pastry with pumpkin flesh instead of butter!

The trickiest part of cooking pumpkin or winter squash is peeling its tougher skin. Other than this the versatile vegetable cooks easily and quickly. Its flesh roasts in about half an hour (you can leave the skin on), it stir fries in around twenty minutes when diced and much quicker than that when grated. And finally it boils in about fifteen minutes.

The most obvious dish for pumpkin or squash, apart from pie, is soup. The easiest one you can make (and my favourite) does not even really need a recipe. Just roast a medium pumpkin, sliced with the skin, in a bit of olive oil, salt, thyme and 3-4 unpeeled cloves of garlic for half an hour in the oven. When baked place the flesh of the garlic and pumpkin in a pot, add at least 700ml of hot stock (say for 500g squash) and blend with a hand mixed or mash. Your soup is ready and you don’t even need to boil it!

Another idea if you don’t have much time is to scrub the skin of the pumpkin clean, cut it in half, scoop the seeds and stringy bits out with a spoon, drizzle it with olive oil and bake for forty minutes. When baked you can scoop out the flesh, mash it with a generous amount of grated cheese and herbs, and if you like some cooked lentils. Refill the pumpkin or squash halves and grill for another 10 minutes until golden!

I literally could go on forever about the numerous savoury bakes and sweet pies you can make with pumpkin but why not start by trying the two recipes below first. And if you need more inspiration come back to me. We are definitely not done with the squash season just yet.

Sunny autumn Cretan stir fry

pumpkin stir fry

Ingredients (4-6 portions)

  • 500g diced pumpkin or squash (up to)
  • 4 spring onions or 3 leeks or 1 dry onion
  • 2 peppers (red or green)
  • Half a garlic bulb
  • ½ chilli pepper finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sundried tomato paste (optional)
  • 200g pre-cooked chestnuts
  • 100g pitted black olives
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 100g couscous
  • 1 cup white wine or vegetable stock
  • One small bunch of parsley (30 gr)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation (45 minutes)

  1. Peel and dice the pumpkin or squash in small cubes (2cm).
  2. Chop the spring onion (or leek/onion) and peppers.
  3. Stir fry in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the bay leaves and thyme with a pinch of salt for 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the sundried tomato paste, pumpkin, chestnuts, olives, garlic with the skin on, a pinch of salt and some more olive oil.
  5. Stir fry, cover and cook for up to 30 minutes until the pumpkin is (no need to add water).
  6. Once the pumpkin is soft, add the wine or stock and bring to the boil.
  7. Remove from heat, add the couscous, cover and set aside for 5 minutes.
  8. Season to taste, sprinkle with chopped parsley and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.

Lia’s Tips:

  • If you don’t have access to chestnuts why not use 200g of mushrooms instead, dice and stir fry at the same time as the squash.
  • You can use plain tomato paste if you don’t have access to sundried tomato paste.
  • If the pumpkin is particularly tough you could add a couple of tablespoons of water to help it cook quicker

Savoury pumpkin and mushroom pie

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Ingredients (4-6 portions)

For the dough

  • 200g pumpkin (diced)
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 eggs +1 egg yolk beaten

For the filling

  • 200g pumpkin (diced)
  • 50g dried mushrooms
  • 4 spring onions or 3 leeks or 1 dry onion
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • 1 small bunch sage (leaves only)
  • 50g of butter
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 30g grated parmesan
  • 100g grated cheddar
  • 100ml double cream or Greek yoghurt
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Melted butter for the pastry
  • 1 tsp of the beaten egg for the glazing
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Some olive oil to cook the pumpkin

 Preparation (1.5hrs)

  1. Peel and dice the pumpkin or squash (all 400g for both the dough and the filling) in 2cm cubes.
  2. Bake or stir fry for 30 minutes or until soft after dressing in olive oil and adding a pinch of salt.
  3. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Alternatively use 300g fresh mushrooms stir fried in butter with a pinch of salt.
  4. Slice the spring onions and fry in half the butter (25g) with the bay leaves and thyme.
  5. Add the mushrooms, a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir fry until coated in the buttery glaze.
  6. Melt the rest of the butter in a separate frying pan and fry the sage leaves until crispy (set aside).
  7. Separate the pumpkin in half, add 200g to the mushroom filling and mash the rest.
  8. Add the cream, egg and parmesan to the cooled mushroom filling, remove the bay leaves and season to taste.
  9. Mix the mashed pumpkin, the beaten egg and yolk, a pinch of salt and the flour. Knead for five minutes into a shortcrust dough.
  10. Separate the dough into two equal balls.
  11. Roll out two dough sheets (3cm) on a lightly floured surface in the shape of your baking tray (20cm round).
  12. Line the baking tray with some melted butter and the one dough sheet.
  13. Sprinkle with the grated cheddar and the fried sage leaves.
  14. Add the filling and spread evenly.
  15. Add the second dough sheet, pressing the corners with your finger tips to bind the two dough sheets together and to create a nice finish for the rim of the pie.
  16. Brush with some melted butter and a teaspoon of beaten egg you have kept aside.
  17. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the top is golden.

Lia’s Tips:

  • If you don’t have some of the ingredients feel free to improvise. For example, use yoghurt if you don’t have cream, an extra pinch of salt if you don’t have parmesan which you can replace with other cheese.
  • If the dough is too crumbly to roll you can press it down flat with your fingers. And you can crumble the top sheet for a savoury crumble dish. If you do this add some crushed nuts or seeds.
  • This pie is delicious with gluten free flour too.

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!