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Archive for the ‘What to do with…’ Category

I didn’t grow up hating brussel sprouts. In fact I sort of liked them before I tried them because they’re so cute – I mean little baby cabbages, how could you hate anything so mini and innocent looking? Especially when you see them growing on the stalk, they’re actually kind of beautiful. But I can definitely identify with hating overboiled vegetables and brussels suffer from this worse than most veggies. If they’re going to be part of so many festive meals, they ought to be cooked properly…

brussel sprouts growing

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Spend too much time in the kitchen cooking them! But hey, it’s autumn so being in a warm kitchen making yummy-smelling food which might even keep you fed over winter isn’t so bad…

apples

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So autumn has snuck up on me! A couple festivals and a big trip to America and somehow the summer vegetable bonanza is almost over and I haven’t blogged nearly as many recipes as I meant to.

Luckily there is a summer veggie which carries on into September and just keeps on giving. If, like me, you haven’t made it to your garden or allotment in weeks and you’re a bit scared to go because of the amount of courgettes (aka zucchini or summer squash in the USA) that might have sprouted up since you were last there, fear not – I have been building up the recipe list for these little beauties for a few years now so you don’t have to be afraid of them anymore.

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How gorgeous is this purple kohlrabi?? I’d never seen one until a few years ago as it’s not stocked in many shops. But it’s very common in veg boxes and on allotments since apparently it is rarely struck by pests and diseases. In any case, it was a nice change from all the spinach and potatoes we’ve been getting in the box so I was keen to try some new recipes with it…

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I don’t think I’d ever tried rhubarb before moving to the UK and to be honest I found it a bit weird and scary the first time it arrived in my veg box. I mean, it looks like stringy celery but it’s used in desserts??  The leaves are also super-poisonous which makes it sound even more suspicious. I tried making a typical crumble and it was ok but I couldn’t quite work up the enthusiasm other people seemed to have for this weird veggie/fruit thing.

But I kept trying different dishes and by this spring, I found myself smiling at the smell of those first sticks of rhubarb, picked from the garden. So if you’re not so sure about rhubarb, do stick with it. (sorry sorry bad pun!) Here’s a few recipe ideas to try…

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I heart chillies and pretty much anything spicy. So when I saw a tray of chilli peppers looking a bit lonely in my fridge, I knew I had to create something with them. You can always freeze chillies if you have too many but once I got the idea of making my own chilli jam I knew they’d never make it to the freezer!

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A few weeks ago one of my ultimate food heroes, Yotam Ottolenghi, appeared on a tv show called the Great British Food Revival to champion the cause of the cauliflower. Sadly I can see why he felt the need! Lots of people seem to have bad memories of over-boiled cauliflower or claggy cheese sauces but this vegetable doesn’t deserve its bland reputation. There are lots of ways to celebrate its sweetness in soup or bring out its nuttiness by roasting it. Here are some of my favourite ways to challenge the cauli haters…

cauliflower salad
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Everyone knows that the flavour of licorice is a love-hate thing. Personally I’m not a hater but I still struggle with how to use fennel sometimes. That aniseed flavour might go well with all sorts of meat and fish but it can overpower other vegetables quite easily. So I end up using it with onions as a base to stocks and soups and curries but I know I’m not doing it justice.

And that’s where braising comes in! The slow, moist cooking technique brings out the sweetness of fennel and mellows the punch of its licorice flavours. Add a dash of cream and cheese at the end and you even get a bubbling crisp topping too – all of a sudden fennel goes with anything because it’s so subtle and delicious, mmm…

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Is this a problem other people have? Possibly not, cause I’m a bit weird and I don’t really eat much bread so I don’t eat much toast and jam. But I’ve gotten really into making preserves over the past couple years so I end up with jars and jars of the stuff. Of course I give most of it away to friends, but you feel like you ought to keep one jar of each variety you make and even that ends up being loads more than I’ll ever eat. So here I am about to move house and trying to clear out the fridge – there are jars and jars of condiments that I refuse to throw away because I really love my condiments ok? So I decided to find some tasty recipes to finish off all those jars of jam instead!

bakewell tart
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Doesn’t this curly kale look beautiful? If only we judged vegetables by their looks sometimes. Not that I would’ve been up for eating this a few years ago, no matter how pretty it is. But now I’ve learned to stop worrying and love the greens. Black kale (cavolo nero) has definitely been in my top five vegetables for a few years now. What, you don’t have a top five vegetables list? Oh well, maybe one day there will be more of us in the vegetable geek club. In the meantime, here are some of the recipes that made me change my mind about greens..

kale
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