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Tales from the kitchen and the organic veg bag

The veg bag contributed to breakfast, lunches and dinners this week with the added goodie bag  making my cooking week slightly more challenging than usual. There seemed to be a mountain of veg for cooking, along with a few leftover parsnips from the previous week.  It was a great selection though, broccoli, squash, celery, red pepper, aubergine, avocado, Jerusalem artichoke, tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, grapefruits and the staples, potatoes, onion and carrots. 

veg bag 5

A simple but tasty breakfast was scrambled egg mixed with sautéed chopped cherry tomatoes, served with homemade toasted bread. Always a nice way to use tomatoes, especially during the colder weather.

breakfast collage

The two portobello mushrooms and the remainder of the cherry tomatoes were earmarked for  ringing the changes with Sunday breakfast.  The mushrooms were drizzled with garlic flavoured rapeseed oil and cooked in a hot oven for 10 -15 minutes. Cherry tomatoes were chopped and sautéed along with some chopped bacon, haggis and Lorne sausage. Chopped spring onion was added and the portobello mushrooms filled with the mixture. To finish, I topped with a soft poached egg, sprinkled with parsley. And served on top of a potato scone. All the flavours of a full Scottish breakfast and absolutely delicious.

Four soups were made, three of which were parsnip and apple with marigold petal garam masala, pea & ham and broccoli with Parmesan.

Parsnip & apple, pea & ham and Broccoli with parmesan

Parsnip & apple, pea & ham and Broccoli with parmesan

A fourth should have been carrot and coriander but for some strange reason my mother used a bunch of mint instead of coriander! It’s a long story but nevertheless the soup tasted fine.

Broccoli is a favourite with the family so there’s no such thing as too much and the two heads in the bag were put to good use.  Some  was added to a macaroni and cheese along with a small piece of cauliflower and that made a really dinner. Nothing complicated, cheese sauce added to cooked macaroni with veg mixed through.

It was also on the menu with the Sunday dinner of venison olives. For something different, the broccoli was lightly steamed, topped with a mixture of fried breadcrumbs, bacon and cheese and browned under a hot grill. A really nice strong flavoured dish and an excellent accompaniment to the venison.

broccoli collage

A Creamy salmon pasta used the the last of the broccoli and it was very tasty. The sauce was made by blitzing  200g cream cheese, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 6 sun dried tomatoes (use sun dried tomato paste as an alternative)  and about 10 olives (optional) with salt and pepper in the processor. Before cooking the pasta, I cooked 2 salmon steaks in a steamer and when they were cooked added the pasta to the water, with the broccoli being added for the final 5 minutes of cooking. Gently heat the blended ingredients in large pan with approx 300ml milk and when ready to serve add cooked pasta, salmon and mix well. Served scattered with chopped parsley.

Avocados are a great favourite of mine  and I will happily eat a whole one all to myself. However, this week I shared, and made guacamole as a side for chilli con carne.

guacamole collage 2

There are many recipes for guacamole but I like the avocado to be the dominant flavour and simply mash and mix with some finely chopped spring or red onion, a small crushed garlic clove, some freshly squeezed lime juiced. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

With the onset of Spring it was wonderful to see an aubergine and courgettes in the bag, and I found myself yearning for sunnier climes and warmer weather. Food, how it looks and smells can magically transport you elsewhere and Italian food does that so well.With that in mind I decided to make eggplant Parmigiana using the aubergine and 3 large plum tomatoes that were rolling around the fridge drawer.

Egg plant collage

The aubergine was thickly sliced, brushed with garlic infused rapeseed oil and roasted in a hot oven for 15 minutes. While that was cooking, the tomatoes were chopped and cooked in a small amount of oil, along with a large clove of chopped garlic, for about 10-15 minutes. In a small oven proof dish, I then layered the aubergine and tomatoes (2 layers) along with grated Parmesan cheese, seasoned with freshly ground black pepper, in a small oven proof dish. It was popped back in the oven for another 15 minutes until the cheese had melted and the sauce was bubbling. This made a delicious vegetarian meal, served with salad and crusty bread.

The kg of carrots in the bag usually disappears quite quickly, mostly served as a vegetable or used in soups. This week, grated carrot made an appearance in the vegetable pakora recipe, alongside potato and spinach. It made a nice change and is a good way of adding extra hidden veg to recipes.

pakora collage

Jerusalem artichokes are one of those vegetables that many people stay clear of and I have to admit, I was one of them, until the arrival of the veg bag. My friend, Fiona at Rumblie B&B makes Jerusalem and carrot soup for her guests and last year I followed her recommendation. Determined to do something different this year, I spent an hour on the sofa, looking for inspiration with Nigel Slater. Not the real person, you understand, but his book ‘Tender V2’, which has a lovely interesting section on these little earthy vegetables. I’ve decided on a casserole of artichokes and pork and that will be Friday night’s dinner.

I’ve got plans for the squash and the courgettes and the recipes will be in next week’s post.

The recipe on this week’s Bellfield Organics newsletter is carrot and raisin cake or cookies. A wee sweet treat for afternoon tea and I’m planning to make these for the weekend.

This spicy dough mix can equally be used to make cookies, in which case, drop heaped tablespoons of dough on to a lightly greased baking tray, 5cm apart and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Cake.

150g plain flour

2tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

2 heaped tablespoons seedless raisins

100g carotts grated

Grated zest of half an orange

2tbsp orange juice

100g butter

125g

Brown sugar

2 large eggs

Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt I to a large bowl.

Mix the raisins, carrots, orange zest and juice and set aside.

In a food mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

On a slow speed, add the eggs, one at a time.

Combine the batter with the flour and carrot mixtures and mix well.

Pour into a greased and lined 20cm tin and bake in a preheated oven,180oc/Gas4 for 40-60 mins.

Test with a skewer to ensure the cake is cooked and allow to cool in the tin for 15 mins, before turning out on a wire rack.

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