An Odd Looking Vegetable

A recent arrival in the Veg Out veg bag was this enormous celeriac. I’ve never bought or cooked celeriac before, having always been put off by its appearance and the fact that I’m not that keen on the taste of celery which it obviously resembles.

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However, I am committed to using every vegetable that arrives in the house regardless of its level of attractiveness. My research indicated that soup would be a good option but then I found this recipe for roasted celeriac by Sophie Grigson. There was a bottle of Marsala lurking at the back of a cupboard so I decided to put it to good use.

The finished dish smelled amazing but as I was still keen to make soup I blended everything from the dish with some almond milk (I have a serious aversion to cow’s milk which is a hangover from being forced to drink school milk too long out of the fridge) and black pepper. The soup was served with a swirl of crème fraiche and roasted garlic and was smooth, creamy and really delicious.

Another kitchen success was the result of using up the remains of the cavolo nero pesto from a previous post which I topped with sliced goat’s cheese and encased in some ready-made puff pastry for a speedy lunch.

I now have a beautiful cabbage to do justice to and, having read Henry Dimbleby’s article in the Cook section of last Sunday’s Guardian, I think I will take his advice and try roasting it tonight.

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I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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All Wrapped Up

Whilst I tend to avert my eyes to avoid looking at all the early manifestations of Christmas appearing in the shops from September onwards there are some things I love about the festive season, not least wrapping up presents.

Over the years there have been many themes including ‘pink & sparkly’, ‘Bollywood’ and ‘Recycled’, the latter involving lots of homemade papier mâché stars to adorn the parcels.

Last year was glamorous pink and black and the previous year saw a more neutral approach with handmade paper flowers which extended to some homemade crackers.

This year I’ve decided to make use of the bay and rosemary plants in the garden and go for a fresh, green look. Last night I could be found wandering round in the dark taking clippings to make a start on some prototypes. I’m planning to use plain brown paper for the basic wrapping but had none to hand so utilised small brown cardboard boxes left over from some lovely Merchant & Mills haberdashery items given to me by my sister last Christmas.

I’m quite pleased with the results so have now stocked up on green ribbons of various widths and some rustic fabrics and papers.

All I need now is to get on with some Christmas shopping so I’ve got something to wrap up!

Veg Out!

Until recently we had a regular veg box delivery from a well-known national supplier.  Following a visit to the Transition Chichester annual fair we decided to make a change and join up with a local company, Veg Out.  We now have a weekly delivery of beautiful organic veg grown just down the road in Sidlesham – a much more environmentally friendly option.

Here are some of the recent offerings, although not all from the same week as we have a bit of a backlog following our weekend away in Lyme Regis.

We also have potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips and swede.

Here are three of the weekend’s culinary creations.

I’ve never been a great fan of fennel but I discovered a recipe online a while ago for a fennel, fig and goat’s cheese pizza which has changed my view of this vegetable.  I don’t have a link to the recipe but this is a cheat’s version with a ready-made spelt flour base from Manuka Wholefoods.  The fennel is sliced and roasted for about 20 minutes at around 200 degrees in a fan oven until slightly caramelised and then layered on the base with sliced figs and goat’s cheese. I used a log shaped cheese which I tore into pieces.  The pizza takes around 12 minutes at the same temperature to cook.  I couldn’t take a photo of the finished product as we were starving and it disappeared within minutes!

The green sauce tastes much better than it looks and is a pesto made from the cavolo nero.  I have made a raw version of this with kale before but the recipe for this cooked version is here.  I didn’t follow it to the letter as I couldn’t be bothered to get the scales out to weigh the prepared leaves and I guessed the other quantities.  I will be using the pesto tonight with some pasta for a quick supper.

Finally, the soup is made with onions, carrots and parsnips roasted in the oven with a dash of olive oil and then whizzed up in the blender with vegetable stock, almond milk and seasoning to the required consistency.  Very quick and easy and the recipe (such as it is) can be adapted to use any vegetables you have to hand.  I think the next batch will include the turnips and swede.