Monday 23 October 2017

From spade to plate: Chard, Chickpea and mushroom Curry

The allotment is going into hibernation. Have cut back the asparagus, harvested the pumpkins and the  last of the sunflowers are in a vase in the kitchen.

Not so much left to eat from this allotment now we are about to enter November, just some yellow raspberries, corn salad, spinach beet and in a few months time the purple sprouting broccoli will surprise us.

The garlic I planted a couple of weeks ago is coming up, so are the winter onions and the broadbeans.
Lots of lovely food to look forward to in the new year.

With today's from Spade to plate we make

Chard, chickpea and mushroom curry  
with rice and flat bread.

Chard, chickpea and mushroom curry (V)

 Serves four to six.
2 tbsp sunflower (or rapeseed) oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped 
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 big pinch chilli flakes
300g chard, leaves separated from stalks
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 tin plum tomatoes
300g mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 tsp garam masala
Fresh coriander leaves, to serve 
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and spices, and cook for a minute or two more – add a splash of water if it looks like it's going to catch and burn.
Remove the stalks from the chard and chop into bite-sized pieces. Add to the pan, cook for five minutes, then add the chickpeas. Crush the tinned tomatoes to a pulp with your hands and add these, too, as well as any juices from the tin. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the mushrooms until all liquid has been driven off and they take on some colour.
Shred the chard leaves, add to the curry pot along with the mushrooms, and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the leaves are tender and wilted. Stir in the garam masala, add salt and pepper to taste and serve scattered with coriander, with rice and/or flatbreads

Ingredients for the flatbread
  • 2 cups / 300g plain flour (all purpose flour) (level cups, unsifted, not packed), + keep 1/4 cup extra for dusting & adjusting dough
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 tbsp / 50g butter (1.75 oz)
  • 3/4 cup / 185 ml milk
  • 1/2 tbsp oil (for cooking)

  1. Combine butter and milk and heat until butter is just melted - on stove or in microwave.
  2. Combine 2 cups flour, salt, butter and milk.
  3. Sprinkle work surface with flour then knead for a few minutes until it is smooth - it doesn't need much kneading. Add extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
  4. Wrap with cling wrap and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.
  5. Dust bench top with flour, cut dough into 4 pieces, roll into balls, then roll out into about 1/8" / 0.3cm thick rounds.
  6. Heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a non stick pan over medium heat - or lower if you have a heavy based skillet. (Note 1)
  7. Place one flatbread in the pan, cook for around 1- 1 1/2 minutes - it should bubble up (see photo in post)- then flip and cook the other side, pressing down if it puffs up. There should be a smallish golden brown spots on both sides.
  8. Stack the cooked bread and keep wrapped with a tea towel - the moisture helps soften the surface, making them even more pliable.
  9. Continue to cook with remaining pieces.
  10. Optional: Brush or spray bread with olive oil or melted butter, for a more luxurious finish. Or even with melted butter mixed with minced garlic for a garlic butter version!

Monday 16 October 2017

From Spade to Plate: Fresh ravioli

With less and less ingredients in the allotment, we need to find ways to make a tasty meal that 'stretches'

What to do with one largish butternut squash.

As I had the oven on anyway to make this week's bread, I roasted the squash so we could use it for the various dishes for this week's from spade to plate session..

June had the messy job,she cut off the skin and put the flesh in a large pan. We pureed it and scooped out two large ladles worth to use for the ravioli filling. The rest we kept in the pan, added vegetable stock and brought it to the boil.
When all mixed, we added a good dose of five spice.  That's it. No onion, garlic, cream etc, just stock and roasted pumpkin
The soup was gorgeous with some freshly baked bread.

As I had some organic eggs and flour, I decided to make some fresh pasta.
For the pumpkin filling, we used some sage, cream cheese and blue cheese, salt and pepper and mixed ready for use.  After we made the ravioli we brought to the boil a large pan with salted water and for a couple of minutes and then added the ravioli and left it in  until the ravioli floated to the top.. We fished them out of the water with a slotted spoon, let it drain for a few minutes a drop of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and chopped parley and chives to make it pretty as well as tasty.

This is a simple way to turn a minimum of ingredients into a delicious meal.
As I happen to have a pasta machine and a ravioli maker, we used these, but with a rolling pin you can make this just as well.

To get a good recipe click here

We use only the 2 egg yolks and a little more water. With the egg whites we will make a sorbet for dessert.

So lovely too to see Marie Christine again, who came straight from the airport to join us for a cooking session.

Mushroom Ravioli
Serves: 6 
·       3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
·       1 onion chopped
·       1 garlic clove, chopped
·       450 g (1 lb) mushrooms, finely chopped
·       3 tbsp sherry
·       100 g (3½ oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
·       55 g (2 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
·       2 eggs
·       50gr ricotta cheese
·       2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
·       1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram or ¼ tsp dried marjoram
·       handful of garden peas
·       2 tbsp tiny tender sprigs of fresh thyme
·       1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)
·       salt and pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook for a few seconds, then add the garlic and the mushrooms. Cook over a high heat, stirring, to brown the mushrooms, then reduce the heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until the mixture has reduced in volume.
  2. Pour in the sherry and cook, stirring, until it has evaporated. Remove from the heat and add seasoning to taste.
  3. Stir in the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, parsley and marjoram. The ingredients should be thoroughly bound into a moist paste. Set aside in the fridge while you prepare the pasta.
  4. Put together your ravioli. Then freeze.
  5. Boil water with a little salt. Then add the peas  after 5 minutes add the frozen ravioli. Per person add 6 pieces of ravioli on a plate, top with peas, drizzle  olive oil,  fresh black pepper, some fresh thyme leaves, plenty of parmesan and I topped it with a pea shoot (with flower)  This looked and tasted spectacular.
  6. Serve with a salad.

Monday 9 October 2017

From Spade to Plate: Pumpkins more ways than one: Part 3: Pumpkin curry and Pumpkin brownies

As colder days have now arrived a hearty pumpkin, spinach and chickpea curry

 with naan bread 

could be just the ticket, finished off with some pumpkin cake with icing sugar cream topping

Today we are showing some substitutes for what is in the recipes.

What to do when you run out of icing sugar: Make your own  use normal sugar and corn flour (put in 60% sugar and 40% cornflour)

What to do if you can't get lemon grass: Use lemon balm or lemon zest of 1 lemon to replace 2 stalks

What to do if you run out of eggs when you bake? Use Chia seeds: 3 tbsp water to 1 tbsp seeds. leave to well for 10 mins and use instead of 1 egg.

Thank you to Rozenn for sending me some more Pumpkin Recipes

Thursday 5 October 2017

Last apple pressing of the season

Mairaed suggested that I pick the apples of the tree in her allotment.
They were beautiful and hope they store well. Then, disaster strikes, when I arrived home, the bottom of the box dropped out so all the apples were bruised. Now they are no longer good for storing so change of plan we shall press them.

I put a call out to the new comers and visiting scholars and Gloria  (Spain) , Melandra (US) Oltea (Romania) and Githa my dear neighbour came to help. What a lovely morning we had. We pressed 20 litres. They took some juice apples and pears home for their families to taste and I bottled the rest for the winter.