Sunday, 10 December 2017

From Spade to Plate: vegan smoked salmon

This recipe I came across is wonderful for those who are vegetarian/vegan and who love the taste of smoked salmon.

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.


Monday 11th December: From spade to plate: bread share, broccoli soup

We started with the making of the bread balls (that were made the day before to speed up time)
once this was done, we then started making another lot of bread dough, that I will use tomorrow for another breadpiece, in the shape of a wreath.

Last week we used a lot of broccoli to make our raw vegetable christmas tree. Although we ate most of the vegetables, there was a lot of broccoli left. Rather than eating 3 broccoli heads myself, I decided to blanch them and then freeze for a day like today.

The broccoli is used to make this Broccoli and Blue cheese soup.

As a desert we made Monique's apple crumblies.  The apples were picked in Autumn and are now coming out of storage. We switched the sugar and raisins for the same quantity of mincemeat and a grating of orange to give it a Christmas feel.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Christmas nibbles: 3rd December and Easy Peasy soup

Our Spade to plate group is running out of food in the allotment, but we are looking at the other side of this weekly event. The harvesting has been good but the being together, cooking and eating has been lovely. So for now we shall focus on this part until next season when we hope the allotment and garden will once again give us an abundance of lovely organic food.

We made some Easy Peasy Soup as it is a wonderful standby soup, for busy households.

We also made some Christmas nibbles

Food ideas for Christmas nibbles:

tomato, basil and mozzerella kebabs

Brie, veggie bacon and walnut puffs

Mince pies with puff pastry

In addition we made this a veggie Christmas Tree for those of us who want a gluten, dairy, nut free healthy nibble

and some hummus as a base for a dip.

Low fat hummus with yoghurt

What You'll Need

1 15-ounce can of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans, drained; save liquid)
1 to 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Blend all and serve

Hopefully this will get us in Christmas spirit.

Bon Appetite!

Monday, 20 November 2017

From Spade to plate: vegetable soup and thai vegetable curry

Today’s soup was lovely but almost too simple to give the recipe.

Basically we chopped an onion and some ginger, June softened this in some oil.
Then we added the finely chopped, carrots, broccoli (florets as well as stalk) leek, potato and some finely chopped brussels sprouts.
Sweated the vegetables and then added vegetable stock. At the very end we put in a handful of vermicelli.(pasta) boiled it for another couple of minutes et Voila,this tasty soup was it was ready in no time.

The rice was cooked in a rice cooker with some salt this time. Felicia, showed us how to use this as she uses it all the time.

We steamed 2 medium sized butternut squashes (because I thought that would be enough for the 6 of us) you could use sweet potatoes instead. We cut up some brussels sprouts and added a handful of peas. (I suppose you can use any combination, even baby corn, beans etc) 

In a non stick pan we heated oil and added  a good table spoon of yellow curry paste and cooked for a minute to develop the flavour.
One fragrant we added a quarter of a tin of coconut milk and mixed it all through.

One done, we added the rest of the coconut milk, rinsed out the tin with 2 tbsp of water and added to the pan.
Then we added the butternut squash chunks, brussels and peas and a little salt to taste.
We simmered it for another 10 or so minutes.

Meanwhile we dry roasted a handful of cashew nuts. Once toasted, we put most into the coconut mixture, keeping behind a little as topping when we dish up.

We served the curry on a bed of rice and topped with cashew nuts and coriander leaves. MMM!

Very quick and easy but above all. VERY tasty.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

From Spade to Plate: Monday 20th November: Vegetarian Thai Curry

We shall have a vegetable soup for starters and for mains we shall be using some of the pumpkins we have stored to make a pumpkin, cashew nut and red pepper thai curry with rice.

From Spade to Plate: Mung bean vegetable curry with yoghurt coriander and rice

The recipe for the  Mung bean curry: 4 servings

1 cup of mung beans soaked for 6 hours or overnight
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 finely sliced onion
15 gr finely grated ginger
1 tsp tumeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
4-6 minced garlic cloves
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 carrots sliced into half moons
4 cups of vegetable stock
3 large handfuls of shredded silverbeet/spinach
sea salt to taste

In a large pot heat the oil over a medium high  heat and add the mustard seeds
When the mustard seeds start to pop add the cumin seeds and onion. Saute for a few minutes over a medium heat. When until onions become translucent, add the chilli, tumeric, ginger, garlic and tomatoes.

Continue to saute on gentle heat for another 5 minutes, until the tomato pieces are cooked down. Then mix in the mung beans and carrots. Stir thoroughly so all the spices and flavours coat the ingredients

Next add the stock and bring to boil. then turn down and gently simmer.
At this point you may want to add some salt, try 1/2 a teaspoon.

Cook for 30 minutes with the lid partially on, until the lentils are fully cooked and you have a thick caserole like consistency. You will need to stir consistently so that the beans don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
Once cooked, stir in the beet and simmer for a couple more minutes before turning off.

Serve with basmati rice, a dollop of yoghurt and a fresh salad.

Monday, 6 November 2017

From Spade to Plate: 6th November" What to do with this Marrow

Today we saw the first frost of the year, it started cold but wow what a beautiful morning it became. fresh with a blue sky,  a real treat. Michael and I set up the kitchen for the from Spade to plate session and a little before 11, Lucy and Theo arrived. Lucy got the cheese and flour for the Brasilian cheese balls (*)
she is going to make with us today. Followed by Carmen who surprised us by presenting each member of the group with a lovely notebook for our recipes and new English words.
She had made a fish as well as a bird cage design cover. Delightful. Many thanks Carmen!

Eileen, Lucy and Glo, had a go at making the cheese balls

Whilst June and Carmen made the dough for the lasagne sheet,

You see we still had this Marrow which we wanted to turn into something lovely that could feed 9 people for lunch.

Michael and Felicia turned part of the marrow into a hearty lentil and Zucchini Soup

Rather than using the yellow lentils we used red lentils and the chicken broth was changed for vegetable stock.  The end result was delicious.

We went to the allotment to pick the spinach for the courgette, spinach and ricotta lasagne

Francis turned the pasta dough into lasagna sheets  whilst Michael and Felicia made the white sauce, the spinach and courgette filling to put the dish together. Whilst we ate our soup and cheese bread, the lasagne went into the oven for 20 minutes. The end result, a filling and tasty lunch  shared with a record  number of friends.   Thank you to Lucy, Glo, Carmen, Francis, Eileen, Michael and June it was a lovely morning again.

The pasta dough was rather sticky as we used the full eggs. We should be using:
2 cups of plain flour, 2 egg yolks, pinch of salt, table spoon of oil and a little bit of water if needed.

(*) This is the recipe we used rather than the one mentioned above from the internet

15 mins
25 mins
40 mins
Cuisine: Brazilian
Serves: 60 cheese rolls

·       500g tapioca/cassava flour (in Portuguese: polvilho doce)
·       2 cups milk
·       1/2 cup oil
·       150g grated parmesan cheese
·       3 large eggs (or 4 small/medium)
·       2 teaspoons salt

1.    Combine the milk and oil in a saucepan and bring to boil
2.    Add the tapioca flour and salt to a big bowl and, once the milk mixture boils, pour it over the flour. Mix it with a spoon until it cools so you can use your hands
3.    Then add the eggs, one at a time. You will think they won't mix, since the tapioca flour mixture is so sticky, but hang in there cause they will.
4.    Once the eggs are incorporated, add the cheese, until fully incorporated.
5.    The dough is supposed to be soft and sticky. However, if you're worried it's too liquidy, add some more tapioca flour. Just don't over do it or your cheese bread will be tough and not too gooey.
6.    To shape the balls, wet your hands with cold water and, using a spoon, scoop some of the dough to shape balls that are a little smaller than golf-sized.
7.    Place the balls on a baking sheet and bring it to the oven at 180 C. No need to preheat the oven.
8.    Bake for 25 minutes or until they are golden and puffed.
9.    Serve them warm! :)

To freeze them, shape the balls, place them on the baking sheet and bring to the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer to a ziplock bag and keep them in the freezer.
Once you're ready to use them, place the balls on a baking sheet and bring it to the oven as usual (again, no need to preheat the oven) and bake the frozen balls for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and puffy.

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.