Friday, 16 March 2018

From Spade to Plate: Carrot and Coriander soup

This week we  concentrated on indoor sowing of lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, thyme, parsley and basil.

The cooking therefore will have to be quick and easy.
A warming carrot and coriander soup with some freshly baked bread rolls.

For the Wednesday group we will be going to the allotment (weather permitting) to harvest the first spinach beet of the season and dig up some potatoes.
We will sow some beetroot and lettuces.

When we are back in the kitchen we will make make a spinach and pea soup with some freshly made bread.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

First Wednesday from Spade to Plate: Beetroot soup and fresh bread

Today was the first day that I introduced a Wednesday cooking event.
The weather was lovely so we walked to the allotment to dig up the last of the beetroot.
This variety was not the deep red one but the more orange coloured one.

We turned it into Beetroot soup which we had for our lunch with some freshly made bread.

In this case we made a batch of bread dough:

300 gr  organic white strong flour
300 gr organic whole meal strong flour
7gr (one sachet) of dried yeast and a pinch of sugar
12 gr sea salt
mix of of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, poppy and sesame seeds)

Mix all together, knead and let it rise. When double in size  knock back and put in a greased tin.

I am going to experiment and freeze the dough in plastic bag as we still had bread left that I baked on Monday and don't really want to use the oven more than once a week.  I am following instruction from the internet but will write the outcome, when I have it.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

From Spade to Plate 12th March: Dutch Mustard Soup and Mushroom gourgère

What about a warming Dutch Mustard Soup  it brings good memories back from when my mum and grandma used to make it.  Rather than breadrolls with it, we make savoury choux buns.(gourgère)

This gourgère is savoury but could just as well be made in a sweet version
We filled it with the blue cheese, pear and walnut mix and made up a mushroom filling.

Monday, 5 March 2018

A new twist on risotto - orzotto !

Last week one of the from Spade to Plate members mentioned that in all the time that we had done the weekly cookery sessions, we had not duplicated any of the recipes. This was mainly because I had been trying something new every week.

With it being winter there is not so much growing but there are still leeks.

This is why I chose the leek orzotto, which turned out to be easy and very tasty

Thursday, 22 February 2018

David's parsnips - soup and crisps

David, my neighbour in the allotment gave me a large handful of parsnips, freshly dug.
The weather forecast is very cold so a heart warming   parsnip soup with parsnip crisps
 would be nice for our From Spade to plate session .

We shall make some bread rolls to have with it.

As we are on the topic of baking, we will make some hot cross buns as an early Easter treat


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Chickpea falafel with Cilantro Dip

A bit of a middle eastern theme this time.

Chickpea falafels

Making this dish could be a quick standby if you want to make a gluten free, vegan appetiser.
having it with some pita bread on a bed of spinach is healthy and filling as well.

No fat hummus  or a garlicky vegan mayonnaise.

For the mayo use

3tbsp chickpea water
2 tsp mustard
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
250 ml vegetable oil

The mayo did not come out as thick as I would have liked but Pamela told us that in Chile they make lactonaise,  just full fat milk and some salt, then add gradually the oil until the right consistency.
Great recipe, you can add garlic, other herbs and spices.

Mix in blender  ( I added garlic to make it taste garlicky)

Today, June, Melendra, Simone, Beth, Javiera, Pamela, Nuria and I had a chickpea morning.

Loads of falafels were made  1 lot in the oven an the other fried in oil. We all feel the one fried was much better.

We did the same with the Pita bread. It was a great recipe, fried in a dried pan was just as good as in a hot oven.

For the hummus we used a tin of chickpeas and this turned out wonderfully. Nice and light no oil in sight. instead we used yoghurt.

Some good hints and tips this week.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Leek Risotto

We will make some  leek risotto ]this week. I found it on Pintrest and thought it would be nice for our Monday morning cooking

This one uses seasonal leeks, and is ready in just 30 minutes.
Makes 4
  • 4 Leeks
  • 1 Onion
  • 10 Thyme, fresh sprigs
Canned goods
  • 1 Litre vegetable stock
Pasta & grains
  • 300 g Carnaroli risotto rice
Oils & vinegars
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 knob Butter
  • 100 g Gorgonzola
Beer, wine & spirits
  • 250 ml White wine, dry
  • Ingredient ending

As a salad we will use a mixed green salad dressed with my favourite sauce.
Oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Sowing beans sprouts and cress

The ground is still too cold but if we have a space on the window sill we can start sowing cress and bean sprouts.

I also notice how much the leek has grown, I cut the tops off yesterday for in a soup, I then put the stem in some water. Amazing how much it has grown in one day.

Today we will grow and make a beansprout stir fry with noodles

I am using the sprouting in a bottle technique for the mung beans and sprouting in a colander for the mixed beans

As a starter we made a Five Spice Sweet Potato Soup.
This recipe is extremely simple as it is just chopped up Sweet potatoes boiled in vegetable stock and five spice added for taste. This is a hearty winter soup.

Monday, 22 January 2018


Today we focussed on mushrooms as Paola gave me a kit over Christmas and thought it might be nice to experiment together.  Carmen and June were in charge of this and hope that in the next weeks we can start harvesting our first mushrooms.

 This is what it looked like after 6 days. Not much yet, hopefully a better update next week.

Today I bought mine and made some  mushroom bourguignon and mashed potatoes.

Lovely taste and very easy to make.

We were pleased that the sun came out so had an improntu walk in the garden.
Apple trees are budding first signs of life of the bulbs and chives. 

Friday, 19 January 2018

Mushroom bourguignon

For Christmas I was given a mushroom kit from Taylors so thought I would save it to start with my from Spade to Plate group to experiment with my visiting scholar friends

We will also sprout some mung beans, so that next week we can harvest bean sprouts.

To get us in the mood for a mushroom dish I have chosen a Mushroom and Chestnut bourguignon with mashed potatoes

  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation time: 1 hour


A veggie version of a classic French dish, this still has rich flavours that make for a perfect winter warmer
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, (fan 180°C), Gas Mark 6. Prick the potatoes with a fork and rub them with a little of the butter. Then wrap them in tin foil and pop them in the oven for about 1 hour.
  2. About 40 minutes before the potatoes are ready, start cooking the bourguignon. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf and cook for 4–5 minutes until the vegetables are just beginning to soften.
  3. Next, stir in the garlic and flour and cook for one more minute. Turn the heat up to high, pour in the port or wine (if using), stirring to blend the flour in well, and let it bubble away for 2–3 minutes until thickened.
  4. Then, stir in the stock and tomato puree, followed by the mushrooms and shallots. Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer for a good 20 minutes until thickened.
  5. Add the chestnuts, season to taste with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes to heat through.
  6. Once the potatoes feel tender when pierced with a knife, remove them from the oven. Split them open and scrape out their fluffy insides into a medium bowl. Add the remaining butter, chives and nutmey, if using, and eason with salt and pepper, and then mash everything well. Alternatively, you can just serve the potatoes split down the middle.
  7. Spoon the mash onto each serving plate and ladle the bourguignon over. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve, if you like.

Monday, 8 January 2018

From spade to plate: 1st in 2018! What to do with my leeks

The leeks this year are not very good, everyone in the allotment has complained about the leek miner fly. I had no leeks in the allotment but had some in one of the raised beds at home.
They have not done very well this year either, so we dug them up and made some vegetarian pasties with them.  We used some of them for a leek and potato soup which we ate with a mini home made 'hovis' bread

Glo mentioned that she felt the cold weather called for some baked apples, As we still had some stored we decided to stuff them with dates, sultanas, cloves, cinnamon and orange juice. They were delicious with a dollop of thick creamy Greek Yoghurt.

Felicia, Glo, Carmen and I had a lovely morning and a tasty warming lunch.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Blueberry cheese cake

This is a no bake cheese cake

vegan whipped cream
the water of 1 tin of chick peas

1/4 tbs cream of tartar
2 spoonfuls of sugar pulsated in powdered sugar (icing sugar)

Simple vegan butter with no special ingredients. If you sterilize your utensils with boiling water first, you prolong the shelf life of the butter - which should be about 7 days (except first time you make it, then it will be around 5 minutes from taking the first bite). You want the aquafaba to be slightly chilled and the oil to be around room temperature when you mix them.
Giver: ½ C
  • 3 tbs (45 ml) aquafaba (yes, it's chickpea water)
  • 1/3 C + 1 tbs (1 dl) coconut oil (I prefer virgin coconut oil but you can taste the coconut. Odourless coconut oil will make it VERY buttery)
  • 1tbs + 1tsp (20 ml) cold pressed rapeseed oil, canola or olive oil or a similar oil that you like the taste of. Or try a blend!
  • 2/3 tsp Apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice (or if you have, ⅛ tsp of lactic acid)
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  1. Let the coconut oil melt gently until it's almost all liquid. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rest melt. Add your rapeseed or other preferred oil. Let the oil mixture cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour the (just under room temperature cold) aquafaba in a narrow container with the salt and vinegar. Start blending it with an immersion blender/stick blender.
  3. With the blender running, slowly pour the oils in, all while making sure all oil thoroughly incorporated before you add more. It should take a couple of minutes to add all the oil and achieve a thick mayo like consistancy. (If you live in a hot area I suggest you place the container on a bag of frozen peas when pouring in the oil, to help the process along)
  4. IF you taste test it, know that it will taste pretty salty and tangy. This will be numbed a bit when it has chilled and remember, that you normally eat butter WITH something and not on it's own (right?) so it will be easier to make final judgements when spreading it on toast...mmm...
  5. Pour it in a suitable container - DO NOT COVER IT - and put it in the fridge (or maybe a short while in freezer if you're in a hurry). It will take some hours for the butter to solidify, I recommend leaving it one night in the fridge.

    Store it in the fridge, especially if you live in a hot area. Depending on what blend of oils you used (unrefined coconut is softer then the refined one) you should be able to spread it directly from the fridge. Leave it on the counter for 15 minutes to make it even softer.
- It is very important to not cover the butter while it solidifies. If you want you can put a clean piece of cloth over it, but do NOT put it in an air tight container (or it might take forever to reach solid, buttery state). Once solid, cover it as much as you like.
Note that when you spread it it will look a little flaky (in the truest sense if the word). Don't worry it will still feel velvety soft while melting on you tounge! And if you wipe it once or twice with your knife while buttering, it will loose the flaky look.
- I prefer to use cold pressed rapeseed oil, since it adds a buttery taste to the butter. But just be aware, that the oils will add flavor to the final butter.
- When taken from the fridge and warming up a bit, the butter might shed some drops of aquafaba. No biggie, It's just, I don't want you to feel awkward - mine does it to. Ignore them or gently remove them with papertowel.
- Using other than an immersion blender - please read FAQ below.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Vegan Mayonnaise -because I ran out of eggs

Today I am planning a big cooking day to get ready for the festive season, so that I don't need to cook all the time and can enjoy time with the family.

I had some puff pastry left from the Camenbert snowflake making, so decided to use it up to make a Mediterranean puff pastry treat, unfortunately it needed mayonnaise and as I don't use that very often forgot to buy it.  Then I noticed that the eggs I had bought yesterday are all needed for other recipes so  to call on my Vegan Mayonnaise recipe. It is fantastic, just don't make the mistake to drizzle in the oil. put all the ingredients in at once and you will find that within 3 seconds the mayo is made.
My own Christmas miracle without an egg in sight.

Monday, 18 December 2017

From Spade to Plate: vegan smoked salmon

This week was the last before Christmas so not many of the usual members were able to make it, but together with Carmen, Jing and Simone we had a lovely morning.

First we made the Camenbert and cranberry snowflake

and a pot of tomato and lentil soup.
Another quick and hearty soup in our soup repertoire.

Liz Thomas’ lentil and tomato soup (4-6)

1 small onion
1 can of tomatoes
2 tbsp oil
4 oz lentils
1 ½ pt vegetable stock
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp yeast extract  (marmite)
Salt and pepper

Chop the onions and sauté until transparent
Add the remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for 30 mins
Adjust seasoning for taste.
When we put the 'snowflake' in the oven we also added one par boiled (in very salty water) carrot to roast in the oven. This was later used to slice very thinly to use into the vegetarian' smoked salmon recipe. I came across is wonderful idea and think it is great for those who are vegetarian/vegan and who love the taste of smoked salmon.

For those who want to have the recipe for vegan butter just click on the link

It looks and tastes very authentic too.

I am grateful for The happy Pear team who came up with this recipe.
Lovely with a slice of lemon and some dill and mustard sauce on a cracker or toast with cream cheese.


Whilst the soup was bubbling away we decided to make some table decorations with greenery given by St John's college. We made them to give to the local retirement home to bring a bit nature into their rooms. We had a lovely time and even had enough to take one home for each of us.