Tuesday 26 February 2019

Leek and Walnut Orzotto, Planting Potatoes, eating sunflower shoot salad and

Today I was planning to make  the Leek and walnut orzotto recipe as one of our favourites from the first cooking book. We had a few new people in our group, so  I thought it might be worth repeating.

Then an hour before we were about to start, a surprise visit from Julie, who donated 6 kg of frozen damsons as she needed to clear out her freezer. With a bit of quick thinking I altered the cooking plan and ended up with making a Damson fool. As the de stoning was such a messy job, I destoned the rest after the group had gone and will make some more treats with them on Wednesday.

The Sunflower shoots and pea shoots that we sowed 2 weeks ago are ready for harvesting so we will make a Sunflower shoot salad . The lemon vinegrette was delicious, a bit too much, so we kept the other half for another day.
sunflower (left) and pea shoots (right)
Sayaka harvesting the first sunflower shoots
Cortney harvesting the pea shoots

we also went to the allotment to pick some early edible 'weeds'. Daisy, Speedwell, calendula petals, rosemary flowers, lambs lettuce, purple dead nettle and a few carrots. For Ding and Wen this was the first time that they had harvested a carrot.
Wen showing her first ever carrots she has harvested
Wen and Ding showing off their carrots

What a beautiful day we had, temperatures were too high for this time of year, but it was lovely for us to feel a bit of sunshine.

A few moments harvesting carrots

Going back home with the harvest of salad leaves and carrots

Another lovely morning with my friends

Monday 25 February 2019

Apple rose tarts

1 apple
A few drops of vanilla extract
1 sheets puff pastry
¼ cup cream cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
Icing Sugar for dusting

1 apple
A few drops of vanilla extract
1 sheets puff pastry
¼ cup cream cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
Icing Sugar for dusting

  1. Remove the core and thinly slice the apple. 
  2. Roll out the puff pastry and cut into 4 cm strips.
  3. Mix cream cheese, with vanilla extract and sugar.
  4. Spread onto the puff pastry strips.
  5. Arrange the apple slices, slightly over lapping, on half of each puff pastry and sprinkle cinnamon on top.
  6. Fold the puff pastry lengthwise on top of the apple slices and roll up. 
  7. Place the apple pastry rolls into greased muffin tin.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C or until golden and crisp.

Let it cool slightly before dusting with icing sugar.
This recipe makes about 8 tarts.


1 cup chickpea flour  
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric 
¼ teaspoon cumin or garam masala optional
1 ¾ cup water

1 cup chickpea flour  
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric 
¼ teaspoon cumin or garam masala optional
1 ¾ cup water

  1. Grease a bread tin and keep ready. 
  2. In a saucepan add all dry ingredients and water (*) and whisk with a hand blender until there are no lumps and you obtain a  smooth batter.
  3. Cook over a medium heat. Stir continuously. The mixture will start to get lumpy as the pan heats up and then thicken evenly and considerably. About 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Once the mixture is evenly thick and stiff, keep cooking for another 2 minutes so the chickpea flour gets cooked through..
  5. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan. Let it cool, then refrigerate for at least an hour to set.
  6. Remove the set slab from the tin. Slice into cubes.  It is now ready to fry.
Use it as a substitute for soy tofu. It does well in curries, tossed in dressing, breaded tofu, in wraps, salads, etc.
(*) This tofu does not absorb marinades well, so flavour the tofu itself while making it.  Mix in herbs, spices and flavours into the batter before cooking it. 
Add garam masala and cayenne when using in curries. Soy sauce and lemon for an asian fusion, and Italian herb blend for other uses like a mashed up marinated tofu salad. 

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Today I had my sister and niece over from Holland, I had given them our first cookery book for Christmas but had not yet cooked from it.
So today we  decided to use the book for various recipes. As per Carmen's request we made a veggie burger (in our case the Beet burger)  two different ones. The other recipe came from The Happy Pear website. We liked them very much, but think if we can mix the two recipes the end result will be perfect in taste and texture! (if that is possible)

We topped them with home made hummus using the home made peanut butter recipe and the milk mayonnaise.
It was very tasty and a great combinations.

The carrots we harvested from the allotment today ended up in a fresh and delicious carrot salad.


Tuesday 19 February 2019

Half term and a full house

Today is the first day of half term so a great opportunity to meet some of the children of our From Spade to Plate members. The youngest being 7  years old, I thought it might be nice to do some sowing and cooking of their favourite meal Pizza.

As we only have a 2 hour slot, I pre made a pizza dough (same as our normal white bread flour). Rolled it out and then spread tomato paste over it.

 Then we went on to make our Apple rose tarts


For these stunning little bites we used puff pastry, cream cheese with vanilla sugar and cinamon and an apple. Easy to make and tasty to eat.

As it is from Spade to plate, we started the making of seed strips. Here we are sowing carrot and welsh onion strips and broccoli and beetroot.


drying the paper with the seeds before rolling them up.

We then made some orange and carrot soup. Using the orange peel to put in vinegar for use as general cleaning spray (ready in about a month's time) and the whole orange is pureed together with the onion, potato and carrots into a vegetable stock. The soup was delicious and all the plates were empty, even from the youngest member of the group.

We had  a lovely morning and lunch and to top it all, Wen brought some rice balls (with poppy seeds filling) as tomorrow is the Chinese lantern festival when this is a traditional food enjoyed by millions of Chinese families. Thank you Wen it was a treat!

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Warm Brussels sprout salad and Pea and Turmeric Soup

Last week Carmen brought me a lovely looking recipe from her Sainsbury's magazine. Pea and Turmeric soup as we had been talking around our kitchen table how some of us are starting to have arthritic pains. This soup has strong anti inflammatory properties so we gave it a go and with the presence of Peas in it, we had some high vitamin C intake, as many of our dear friends could not make it due to coughs and colds and a bug is going round.

Cortney and Wen dressing the soup
Meghan chopping walnuts
Ta da, a rich warming pea soup

For our main meal we made another suggestion made by a member of the group. This Warm Brussels Sprout salad came from a Waitrose magazine. It was tasty but had many more ingredients than our normal recipes. We had another Brussels Sprouts recipe last week and I think I prefer that one for ease and taste, having said that, the addition of lentils and feta cheese, made this salad almost a main  meal.

We managed to also plant our pea sprouts. Later we commented on how the end result demonstrated so beautifully our characters.... Try and spot mine!


Thursday 7 February 2019

Brussels Sprouts with peanut sauce and Butternut Tai Soup

Today we started by sowing our first seeds. Some to eat as sprouts and some for transplanting and harvesting later in the year.

We sprouted Sunflower seeds and Cress for use in salads in the weeks to come.
During the year we harvested seeds from a variety of  tomatoes and  peppers,  dried the seeds and today we planted mini mini red and mini mini yellow tomatoes (bottom right) as well as the orange mini pear tomatoes. We are pre-germinating them to make sure the seeds are viable. Once they germinate, they will be transferred to soil. For now they will stay on a damp paper towel, in the little cream cheese container.

We planted the cress on paper too but the sunflower seeds were left soaking in a jar of water.


After the sowing we made some peanut butter to use for the peanut sauce that we were going to use with the brussles sprouts.  Asako and Sayaka had never had Brussels Sprouts before, but Asako's children had encountered them at a play day. They were not impressed with this 'new' vegetable and begged her never to buy it.  Well.... the plan has changed. After eating these fried brussels with cranberries and peanut sauce, the vegetables are on next week's shopping list. They went down very well with all of us.

We also made a tasty and hearty Butternut Thai  soup perfect for this cold but lovely day which we shared with `Mark and Sorrel.


Wednesday 6 February 2019

rocket soup with ploughmans scones

This week I was asked by the group to try a couple of recipes that sounded great on paper. As I had not made them myself before, I was just as curious as the others.

We made a rocket soup, strangely enough as we made a nice soup but used land cress instead of rocket.  It was nice but will try and make it when the rocket is growing in the garden later in the summer.

The Ploughmans scones, however ,were a big hit. Lovely and cheesey. When we asked eachother about how they make their scones, It sounds that Meghan and Glo had some tips to make them rise well.  Keep the butter cold, don't over work the dough and make sure the dough is at least 4 cm high.

As a main course we made some Leek and Potato Chowder topped with blue cheese.
Very tasty, a little soup-like, so would make sure next time that less vegetable stock  was used.
There was a little left, so when Mark came home and wanted some lunch, I added some stock, blended it and turned into a nice cheese and potato soup.

50g butter
1 kg potatoes, peeled and ½cm diced
½ garlic clove, finely diced
2 leeks, diced and washed
2 large onions, finely diced
500ml vegetable stock
200ml double cream
100g crème fraiche
40g parmesan, grated
A squeeze of lemon juice
150g goat's cheese or Gorgonzola
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
4 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil

  1. On a medium heat, melt the butter and gently cook the onions and garlic until soft. 
  2. Add the leeks, then after 2-3 minutes add the potato followed by enough stock to just cover it. 
  3. Cook slowly, adding more stock as the potatoes soak it up. When the potatoes are cooked, but still firm, add the cream and creme fraîche. As the potatoes start to break down, season, then add the parmesan and lemon juice.
To serve, crumble the  Gorgonzola over the top, followed by the chives mixed in the rapeseed oil.
If you have any left over this can be served as a delicious creamy soup the day after, just add more stock.