Wednesday 18 December 2019

brussels sprouts soup, lavash, hot broccoli dip and pasta

Phew, we crammed it all in today! It being the last session before the Christmas break, we had a record amount of friends who joined us today.

To get us in the Christmas mood we made a cranberry mulled wine (no alcoholic)
1 litre Cranberry juice
1 cinnamon stick
a few cloves
a pinch of ground ginger
Juice and zest of one orange and lime
4 teaspoons of brown sugar
 Bring this all to boil, simmer for a bit to allow the spices to flavour the juice(other wise you can do the next step immediately for a less intense flavour)

add 275l ginger beer.
Serve warm for a zingy non alcoholic drink.

Mean while we had a massive chopping session.

One group was chopping  for your  Creamy brussels sprouts soup

Sema cut the Broccoli, Red Pepper and Onion for the hot broccoli dip rather than the mozzarella cheese we used cheddar cheese.

This dish went in the oven  together with the endless trays of lavash crackers, which we used to scoop up the hot dip.

We had still some dip left, so we made some tagliatelle and used the dip as the pasta topping.

The end result was a delicious meal shared with 10 friends. Merry Christmas.

Saturday 14 December 2019

Warm festive sweet potato salad by Irina

Warm festive sweet potato salad:

4 large sweet potatoes
2 ripe avocados
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes
1-2 lemons
1 lime (optional)
5-6 cloves of garlic
pack of fresh cilantro (coriander)
cumin spice powder
any hot pepper spice powder ( either pimiento or cayenne,or chili, etc)

1. Clean and peel sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes, place on a baking sheet  and put into 225 degrees C oven for approximately 30 minutes or until tender.  Take care not to overcook them, the sweet potato cubes should NOT become brown! Gently turn them over half way through if needed.

2. While sweet potato cubes are baking prepare the rest of the vegetables and the dressing. Peel avocados and cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. Wash the cherry tomatoes and cut them either in halves or in quarters depending on their size.

3. For the dressing squeeze the juice from 1 or 2 lemons plus 1 or 2 limes (optional). Use it all! Add two tablespoons of cumin powder (or more!, it is not hot, it just adds very nice hearty taste) and 1/4 of teaspoon of hot pepper (use less pepper if you do not like spicy foods) Press 5-6 (or more !) peeled garlic cloves through the garlic press, add to the lemon juice. Wash a large bunch of cilantro, chop into small pieces, mix well with the lemon juice, garlic and spices.

4. In a large serving dish assemble the salad: put all sweet potatoes at the bottom, then add 1/2 of tomatoes and avocados, generously cover with the dressing, add the rest of the tomatoes and avocados on top. Enjoy!

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Christmas lunch and book 3 launch

Today we had a different format, every brought a dish that was typical for their countries.
The end result was delightful. Melendra made these amazing White Cheddar short bread biscuits.
Here is the recipe

White Cheddar Shortbread
8 oz/227 grams shredded cheddar
½ cup/115 grams butter
1 ½ cups/170 grams plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1)      Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
2)      Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
3)      Beat ingredients with a mixer (or in a food processor) until combined. Then using your hands, work dough until it holds together.
4)      Divide dough in half. Roll each half of dough out to approximately 1 cm thickness. 
5)      If the dough is soft, cover and chill it. Otherwise, cut the rolled dough into 2-inch-long by 1-inch-wide rectangles. Leave the rectangles touching each other.
6)      With a floured fork, prick each rectangle 2 to 3 times. If desired, sprinkle with a bit of course salt.
7)      Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until light brown. Cut through the rectangles again while shortbread is still warm.
8)      Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
9)      Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.

Best wishes,

I made a non alcoholic mulled 'wine' with the apples picked by Melendra and June, earlier in October. Added Glo's grape juice, cinnamon stick, aniseed, cardamon lemon and orange juice, and sugar to make a cordial. Although we had it with the meal, we also all got a little bottle of this Christmas Cheer to take

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Lunch with Victoria Homes Residents

Today I went to Victoria Homes to cook with a group of residents.
We made an easy peasy soup and some cheese and onion scones. We used Alice's recipe which turned out really well.

Colin, cut the circles of the puff pasty, then covered them with pesto and we all turned them into a beautiful looking Christmas stall.

while Ted and Colin made the puff pastry, Doreen and Jenny prepared the pears for the pear orange and cherry dessert

We made some puff pastry cinnamon biscuits, both to have with a cup of tea as well as to shape into a Christmas tree shape to decorate the pear dessert.

We had a lovely lunch together and hope to do this again soon

Monday 9 December 2019

leek & potato soup with blue cheese and red onion scones

Leeks from the allotment together with potatoes  a great combination for a creamy soup.

Using Alice's scones recipe, we will adapt it slightly and use blue cheese, caramalised red onion and rosemary.

Sayaka making blue cheese scones
Hiroe, Manami and Kanako making leek and potato scoup
As a dessert we will make a christmas star. Very pretty, quick and tasty

 As a dessert we had On the stove apple dessert

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Rocket soup, mushroom pie and cooked pears in a cherry sauce

Starting with a Arugula (Rocket soup)with some garlic croutons

Then we made the mini mushroom pies, to go with the soup, they turned out very well, tasty and light. The bottom of the pies were short crust pastry made by Homa and the puff pastry on the top.
As we had puff pastry left, we decided to top it with whole grain mustard and cheese and had it with our soup.

For dessert we had cooked pears in orange cherry sauce.

Monday 2 December 2019

A pre Christmas meal, with sausages

As I had 2 recipes for vegetarian and vegan sausages, I thought we'd do a trial to see which one would end in the next cookery book.
Although they both tasted nice, the vegan version stuck together better and was voted for another mention.
Hiroe cut up some more onions to make an onion gravy to go with the sausages.

The carrots we had was with a honey glaze and the mashed potatoes we had use the riser, it works beautifully, just light and fluffy, especially after adding in some butter and mayonnaise.

As I needed a dish to put in the oven to keep it warm and the silver surrounding needed a good clean, we used a cut potato to polish the silver with. A little tip for every one.

We had  a very festive and tasty lunch.

Vegan Sausages Mash potatoes and Roasted Carrots

Today we compared vegan sausages with vegetarian sausages. We all decided that the vegan version was the best and should go into the next book From Spade to Plate 3.

We made a mash potato, roasted carrot dish with vegan/vegetarian sausages. Rather conventional but very tasty.


Wednesday 20 November 2019

Leek and Potato Chowder

Today we will make Leek and Potato Chowder

in a gougère ring.


We also made Alice's tea scones which turned out light and fluffy,
 a big hit.

As an easy standby we made some cinnamon palmiers
and puff pastry christmas trees.

Lots of baking and all worth of being in the 3rd cookery book!

Sunday 17 November 2019

Beetroot soup and mushroom and goat's cheese gourgere

In the summer I entered a competition and gave my favourite vegan recipe: ie. Vegan Smoked Salmon and during my holiday I received an email that I had won an organic vegetable box from Cofco.I was delighted and grateful for this prize, but as I was away on holiday and my allotment was giving us so much produce, I asked if I could postpone the delivery until the Autumn.

Well, I felt that a bit of variety in our meals was preferable so I called them and they delivered a gorgeous box of organic fruit and vegetables.

With the beetroot we will be making Beetroot and orange soup

The mushrooms will go into the mushroom gougère


and we will do the japanese Milk jelly with the kiwi's that were in the box, making good use of this lovely box and sharing the joy.

Japanese Milk Jelly

400ml water
200ml milk
50g sugar
20g honey
4g agar
Fruit like satsumas, oranges, pineapples, kiwi

  1. Bring water to a boil in a small pan, then turn down the heat to simmer. Add in the agar and stir well until it has dissolved.
  2. Add milk, sugar and honey then stir every few seconds. Continue until the agar and sugar dissolved completely.
  3. Pour it into 1 large or 2 small shallow dishes with fruits and let them cool down before placing them in the fridge to chill. (it will take 30-40 minutes to firm up).

  1. A very simple mixture of goats’ cheese, crushed walnuts, finely chopped pears and seasoning gets spooned into the split (and cooled) pastry choux: the juicy crunch of the pear works well with the flavour of the cheese. Blue cheese also works excellently here.
Rapeseed oil
½ red onion finely chopped
300g mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon dry sherry
100g crème fraîche
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

  1. In a large frying pan  heat the oil and fry the onion until soft but not coloured. 
  2. Add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Cook over a high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms are reduced in volume by about half, are buttery and soft and their liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add the sherry and crème fraîche and simmer until the sauce has reduced. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and season with salt and plenty of black pepper.
  4. Cut each choux bun fully in half, fill with the warm mushroom mixture and serve.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Experimentation and adaptation

Today there was one recipe that I really wanted to do and that was Erika's demonstration of the agar agar that was given to me by a Japanese friend but I did not know what to do with it as the instructions were all in Japanese. In came our hero and Erika arrived with a pre soaked amount of agar agar and showed us how to make a delicious Fruit Jelly

Erika pre soaked the agar agar for 2 hours before she came to our kitchen.
She then drained it and chopped it fine.
Erika chopping the Agar Agar

400ml water
200ml milk
50g sugar
20g honey
4g agar
Fruit like satsumas, pineapples, kiwi

  1. Bring water to a boil in a small pan, then turn down the heat to simmer. Add in the agar and stir well until it has dissolved.
  2. Add milk, sugar and honey then stir every few seconds. Continue until the agar and sugar dissolved completely.
  3. Pour it into 1 large or 2 small shallow dishes with fruits and let them cool down before placing them in the fridge to chill. (it will take 30-40 minutes to firm up).

Thank you Erika for showing us how to make it!

As autumn as well and truly arrived,  this morning I harvested all the late (July) sown carrots in my garden.
 They were small but enough to make a tasty Carrot and Ginger Soup (VG)with. Melendra chopped some almonds as a topping for the soup

For the recipe we needed butterbean but as there were none in the shop we used rinsed baked beans and the recipe turned out lovely and creamy.
We used some of the carrot tops to make a pesto with and stirred through the soup.  There was loads of it which I put in the freezer for future use.

The pesto called for parmesan cheese, as we were trying to make it as much plant based as possible, we made the parmesan cheese with cashew nuts, garlic powder salt and nutritional yeast.
The nuts we used were hazel nuts (picked from Michael's garden) (thanks Li  and Melendra
for shelling them all!)

We even had time to have a walk to the allotment, harvest the Spinach in the sunshine

and make the polpette for our main meal, Orzo and spinach Polpette, a tasty and colourful dish.