Easy, Waste Free, Wholemeal Dried Pasta

Who knew that pasta was so simple to make?

I have never been a great fan of pasta, but my son absolutely loves it – he would eat pasta and pesto every single day if I’d let him.  But in the UK it is difficult to find pasta without plastic packaging, particularly if you want to buy in large quantities  (there are some options mainly in card but with a small plastic window).  Having heard it was easy I thought I should give it a go – and it really is easy – and it got the taste approval from my fussy child. You can easily buy flour in a paper bag which you can either recycle or put in your home compost.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 cup hot water

Method:

Making the dough:

  • If you are using a food processor fit the dough attachment.
  • Add the flour, pour in the hot water and switch it on.  It will turn to breadcrumbs to start with but stick with it and it will soon come together into a dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface.
  • If you are making the dough by hand place it in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the flour and pour in the hot water a little at a time and mix together  either with your hands or a wooden spoon.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it comes together in a dough.
  • Press the dough down into a flat round.  Divide into 4 quarters  (this will make it more manageable to roll out later).
  • Cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave for 10-15 minutes.
  • You could freeze all or some of the dough at this point for later use if you wish.

Now you can begin to turn it in into your desired shapes:

  • Working with one piece of dough at a time roll it very thinly.
  • Then you can get creative and cut and shape to your heart’s desire – but be warned, this bit can take a long time.   I like to look on it as something therapeutically undemanding on the brain to do while listening to some muscic but you could get the kids to help or invite a friend round for a natter while you work. Slicing into lasagne sheets or into strips for tagliatelle is probably the quickest.  I tried to make spirals on my first attempt but decided this time that bows might be easier.    For bows I rolled the dough then cut into strips which I then cut across into small rectangles as shown below.  To turn into bows you simply squeeze them together in the middle.

Drying your pasta:

  • If you don’t want to use your pasta straight away you can dry it for storage.  As I have an electric dehydrator I used that but if you don’t you can just spread them out and leave somewhere airy until dry.
  •  The time it takes to dry depends on the size and thickness of the shapes you have made – I dried the small bows for 3-4 hours at 50 degrees C.  The first batch of spirals were larger and took 4-5 hours.  The best thing is to keep an eye on them and remember to swap around the trays from time to time since the different levels may dry at different speeds.
  • Once fully dry you can transfer to a storage jar until needed and cook as you would shop bought dried pasta – around 8-10 mins.    If you skipped the drying part you’ll need to shorten the cooking time.

Now I know how to make basic pasta dough I’m next going to try to sneak some vegetables into the ingredients –  as he’ll happily eat shop bought green pea pasta, and red lentil pasta without realising.  I have seen people making pasta from pumpkin puree and flour as an example – but any recommendations on things to try are welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Chocolate Caramel Tart

chocolate-caramel-tart
Easy Chocolate Caramel Tart

When it comes to Christmas and New Year entertaining, easy is good.  Well, let’s be realistic, easy is good anytime.

Last week I made Banoffee Pie, to take to family for a Boxing Day tea. Since they started selling ready tinned caramel so you don’t have to boil a tin of condensed milk for hours Banoffee Pie has been my go to easy dessert.  But this dessert, inspired by Millionaire’s Shortbread, is even easier.  Yes really.

Ingredients:

  • 250g biscuits ( I used digestives as I had half a pack left from the banoffee pie but I bet something oaty like Hob Nobs would work really well)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 tin caramel (I used Carnation)
  • 200g block of milk chocolate ( I used Choceur from Aldi which comes in easily recyclable card packaging and is free from palm oil)
  • Optional decoration ( I used Dr Oetker Gold Shimmer Spray but  as I subsequently noticed this contains palm oil  I would omit or seek an alternative in future)

( I have mentioned which products I used for convenience only – this post contains no affiliate links)

Method:

  • Grease a flan dish or baking tray well.
  • Crush the biscuits either using a food processor or by wrapping them carefully in a clean tea towel or (ideally cloth) bag and bashing with a rolling pin.
  • Melt the butter – I did this in the microwave, setting the timer to 30 secs and checking and stirring every 10 secs or so until completely melted, but melt in a pan if you prefer.
  • Stir the butter into the crushed biscuits until well combined.
  • Tip the mixture carefully into your flan dish and press down with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Chill for approx 1 hour until firm.
  • Spread the caramel carefully over the biscuit base and chill again until you are ready to top with the chocolate.
  • Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a bain marie or in a jug in the microwave.  I prefer the microwave as it is quicker but as with the butter check and stir it frequently until just melted.
  • Pour the melted chocolate onto the caramel carefully, gently spreading with a spatula until the top is covered.
  • Decorate as required and chill again until the chocolate has set.

To serve cut carefully with a sharp knife and have your plate or bowl at the ready – it will crumble!  And enjoy. Remember, easy is good.

Meat Free January

I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions, and I suppose this isn’t really one anyway as I’m not proposing it for the whole year.

We were out for lunch yesterday, combined with a trip to see the new Star Wars film – I’d just eaten a burger, in a restaurant full of people eating loads of meat a few days after Christmas (perhaps like us they’d just run out sufficient Christmas leftovers to make a decent meal and couldn’t face the supermarket again) when I decided I had probably eaten enough meat over the past few days to last me for a month (I don’t generally eat meat every day).

So I decided that I am going to have a meat free January.  I mentioned my idea to my husband when we got home and said that the rest of the family didn’t have to join in and he came up with a whole range of meat free meals that we could both enjoy (most of which we have from time to time anyway) .  Hurrah!  I’m not sure this means he is officially joining in but that at least I can do meat free main meals for us. There are only a few meat free things I will get son to eat – quorn chilli (as he hasn’t yet realised it’s not meat) and pasta with pesto ( which he would probably eat every day if he could), so we’ll still do some meat dishes for him but that shouldn’t be a problem – we often cook separately for him anyway as he’s such a fussy eater, and we’re not often both home by the time he needs to eat.

I’m sharing this publicly at the start as it will help me achieve it.  The one exception I’m going to allow is to use the turkey stock I made on Christmas Day – as long as it is in an otherwise meat free dish, because I don’t want it to go to waste.

When I lived alone I didn’t eat meat that often, maybe once a week so I’m hoping it wont be too hard, and I have plenty of meat free recipes in my repetoire.  I’m off to soak some chick peas and kidney beans now ready for some chilli and curries.

Wish me luck.  I’ll be sharing how I get on over on Instagram

 

 

 

Seasonal Eating – Beetroot Recipe round-up

Not much is growing in our back garden at this time of year, but my dad is still harvesting and sharing beetroot from his allotment. He gave us such a lot that I ate beetroot every single day for more than a week, and twice on some days so was in need of a selection of different recipes for a bit of variety!  Some of my favourite recipes are shared below, and  thanks go to Rosie at A Green and Rosie Life and Erin at The Rogue Ginger for allowing me to include links to their beetroot recipes. The post is also being shared on Rosie’s Going Green Linky.

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Beetroot and Halloumi

Our favourite way of eating beetroot is a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book Nigella’s Kitchen for beetroot pureed with lime juice and a little olive oil.  Nigella uses vacuum packed beetroot but if you are using fresh you need to trim the leaves (leaving a little of the stalk still attached) and boil  with the skin on until tender.  This year I have been saving energy by cooking the beetroot in my Wonderbag – I gently wash the beetroot and place it a lidded casserole dish and cover with water (it works best if the casserole is pretty full), bring to the boil for about 5 minutes and then pop it into the Wonderbag (the Wonderbag is an insulated bag which retains the heat so the food conitnues to cook without needing additional energy) for a few hours until we are ready to eat.  Once cooked, allow to cool a little and the skin can be easily peeled off by hand.  You will also have a casserole full of gloriously red beetroot water  which you can save to use in stock, soup or risotto.

Once peeled blend the beetroot with the juice of a lime and a little olive oil. Season with pepper.

Slice up a block of halloumi into about 10 slices and dry fry in a frying pan until browned.

Serve the halloumi over a bed of salad leaves (earlier in the year than now we would use rocket and land cress from the garden, along with marigold and nasturtium flowers but you can use whatever salad leaves you like).  Then drizzle the beetroot puree on top.

beetroot-and-halloumi

 

Beetroot, Potato and Chorizo Hash

Another easy recipe is this one which originally came from an Asda magazine. You can substitute other root vegetables depending what you have available, and could use leftover roast veg.

Preheat the oven to 190c.

Cut approx 300g of potatoes (you can peel them but I prefer to leave the skin on), 300g of beetroot (peeled) and one sweet potato (peeled) into cubes and boil for 5-10 mins.  Drain well.

Place the drained vegetables into a roasting tray with 2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges, and 225g of diced or sliced chorizo.

Mix together 1tbsp sunflower oil, 2tsp wholegrain mustard and 2tbsp Worcestershire Sauce.  Pour the mixture into the roasting tray and stir to coat the meat and veg.

Bake for approx 40 mins, stirring after 20 mins.

Top each serving with a fried egg and season with black pepper.

 

beetroot-and-chorizo-hash

 

 

I love risotto – I could pretty much eat it every day ( and before I had a husband and son to cater for I pretty much did, adding whatever other ingredients I happened to have).  So here is a link to my  Easy Beetroot Risotto  recipe, on the blog a few years ago.

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My Beetroot and Fennel Soup recipe was from the really early days of my blog, so there is a link to the recipe but sadly no pictures as I hadn’t yet worked out how to add them!

I also made a Beetroot Cake which my son loved, mainly because he thought it was made with raspberries!  I much prefer this to the popular beetroot/chocolate cake combination. Beetroot Cake

Heat the oven to 180C.

Grease an 8 inch cake tin.

Mix together 250g self raising flour, 2tsp baking powder and 150 of soft brown sugar.

Then add 100g of sultanas and 250g of peeled, grated beetroot.

In a separate bowl beat together 150ml of sunflower oil and 2 medium eggs, then add into the dry ingredients and mix together.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1-1 1/4 hours.

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Fellow bloggers Rosie and Erin kindly shared these great beetroot recipes from their respective blogs. Follow the links to view the full recipes on the host blog.   A reminder that you can use the whole beetroot – don’t throw away those leaves.  I often freeze them to use as a spinach substitute if I don’t want to use them straight away.

What’s your favourite way to eat beetroot?

Grated Beetroot Salad:

Rosie at blog A Green and Rosie Life kindly shared her deliciously simple recipe. for Grated Beetroot Salad

grated-beetroot-salad

Beetroot Leaves:

Erin at The Rogue Ginger shares her recipe for How to Cook Beetroot Leaves

beetroot-leaves

Rhubarb Bread Crust and Butter Pudding

It was only recently when we were trying out a bokashi bin to allow us to compost cooked food waste that I truly realised how many bread crusts we were throwing away, and how much of the bread was still attached to that crust.  It is such a waste to throw it away, and feels even more so when the bread is homemade.  From time to time I would cut off the crusts to use for breadcrumbs for example but we don’t use those a great deal so I just kept hoping that my son would eventually start eating them if I left them on.

Anyhow, I have now resigned myself to the fact that it is much lest wasteful if I just cut off the crusts beforehand.  Now I have almost a whole shelf in the freezer full of breadcrusts so had to come up with something to use them for.  I have been blitzing some up with cheese to make a crispy topping for lasagne and other pasta bakes, and found a recipe for brushing the crusts with butter, sprinkling with cinammon and sugar and baking until crispy which was a great success – my son and his friend polished that lot off pretty quickly.

We also have a lot of rhubarb so I wanted to come up with a dessert to make use of some of that as well as incorporating the bread crusts.  So here it is – bread and butter pudding (although this recipe doesn’t actually include butter but is not like British bread pudding) made with bread crusts and rhubarb.

Ingredients:

  • Rhubarb ( approx 3 stalks)
  • Bread crusts (equivalent to approx 4 slices of bread – you could of course use slices of bread instead)
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Approx 500ml milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • Ginger and cinammon to taste.

Method:

  • Wash and chop the rhubarb and place it with the sugar into a glass jug or  microwaveable bowl – microwave for a minute or 2 until it starts to soften.
  • Spread out the bread crusts and cooked rhubarb in a shallow dish. Add some ginger to taste (this can be fresh, ground, crystallised or stem ginger – I used crystallised ginger which I chopped up and scattered amongst the bread and rhubarb)
  • Mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla essence.
  • Pour over the bread and rhubarb and leave for at least 10 minutes to soak in ( in my efforts to use them up I had used rather more bread crusts than I should and it all soaked in pretty quickly).
  • Sprinkle with cinammon or additional brown sugar to taste.
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Before baking
  • Bake at 180 degrees C for 30-40 mins until set and golden.
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Fresh from the oven
  • Serve with cream, custard or ice cream.

I made enough to last us 2 days and I would say it was actually better cold on the second day served with vanilla ice cream – I guess the flavours had more time to mingle.

20160627_195155
Served cold with ice cream

 

I’d love to hear your ideas for using up bread.

 

Rhubarb and Apple Jam

 

 

Rhubarb is one of the few plants that reliably turns up a bumper crop in our garden every year. It grows so well in its spot next to the compost bin that we always have way more than we know what do with, even more so since my dad split it into 4 plants a couple of years ago.  Preserving it in a jam is a great way of keeping some for later in the year (although I must admit to starting eating this straight away).   Although best made with early rhubarb you can also use larger stalks just fine.  Our rhubarb plant has been passed down through the generations so I have no idea what variety it is – it originally came from a plant in my great grandfather’s garden and as a child it came with us when we moved house.  When I first got my own place we split the plant so I could plant my own and it has since moved again with me, and a plant has been returned to dad for his allotment.

The apples and the lemon rind and juice in this recipe help it to set – if you were to leave them both out you may need to use jam sugar, which contains added pectin. If you are organised enough to have planned ahead I am sure you could use frozen diced apples which would allow you to use foraged crab apples or homegrown if you are lucky enough to have an apple tree.

Rhubarb and Apple Jam:

Ingredients:

  • 1kg rhubarb stalks, washed and trimmed, then sliced into approx 1cm chunks
  • 3 eating apples or a large cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
  • 1kg preserving sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 25g unsalted butter

Equipment needed:

  • Large bowl
  • Either a preserving pan or a heavy based large saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Grater or lemon zester
  • Sterilised jars – you can reuse old jam jars. This recipe will probably make about 4-6  jars depending on the size but have a couple more ready just in case.
  • Jam or sugar thermometer (optional) or put several saucers in the fridge or freezer (to use later to test the jam setting point).

How to sterilise the jars:

Wash your jars thoroughly in soapy water or a dishwasher and dry in an oven at 140 degrees C for at least 10 mins – then keep them warm until ready to use.  Scald the clean lids in boiling water.  You can alternatively use a sterilising solution according to the pack instructions and warm the jars after rinsing thoroughly.

 Method:

  1. Place the sliced rhubarb into a large bowl with the sugar.
  2. Use the lemon zester or grater to grate the lemon rind into the bowl. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice.
  3. Give it all a stir. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth such as a tea towel and leave for a few hours, stirring occasionally.  You should see some juices start to come out of the rhubarb (if not you can leave it longer – some recipes say to leave overnight but I find a few hours works fine).
  4. Meanwhile wash and sterilise your jars as above.
  5. Empty your bowl of rhubarb and sugar with all the juices into your pan. Add the chopped apple and ginger (if using).
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil slowly so that the rhubarb and apple have time to soften.
  7. Then bring the mix to a rolling boil and boil until it reaches setting point ( see below), stirring frequently to prevent sticking (and because personally I prefer the rhubarb broken up rather than in big chunks in the final jam). I found this took about 25 mins but this may vary.
  8. Once your jam has reached setting point remove from the heat, stir in the butter and leave to cool down a little. You may find it has formed a skin on cooling in which case give it a quick stir before spooning carefully into your warmed jars.  Place the lids on while still warm.

 

How to test for setting point:

Using a jam thermometer – setting point should be achieved at around 104 -105 degrees C.  However you may find it difficult to test accurately if you are making a relatively small amount of jam in a large pan – I have never managed it and prefer the saucer method.    When you think the jam is approaching setting point (it will start to thicken a little), get a cold saucer from your fridge/freezer and carefully drop a little of the jam onto it.  Give it a moment to cool and then press with your finger – if ready it should wrinkle a little. If not cook for another few minutes and test again.

 

Low Salt Cajun Spice Mix

Cajun Spice Mix
Cajun Spice Mix

When we switched to making chips with unpackaged sweet potatoes from the market  instead of buying bags of ready made potato fries ( the sweet potato cooks much quicker and produces no waste – only wish we could manage to grow them successfully here) we also discovered the child loves them covered in cajun spices.  As we got through the second jar hubby was sprinkling on liberally I read the label – do you know how much salt is in this?  ( A lot).  And actually, do you know we also have all these other spices already in the cupboard.  So now I make our own.  It’s dead simple, means one less spice jar to buy and dispose of, is cheaper, and, yes it’s also so much healthier without them realising.

So, start by finding yourself a lovely empty jar to reuse.  Then depending how large it is, fill it with the appropriate multiple of these lovely spices ( please feel free to vary the proportions to taste – we like it spicy so usually add extra chilli and smoked paprika).

  • 5tbsp ground cumin or cumin seeds
  • 5tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2tbsp oregano
  • 2tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 1tbsp ground ginger
  • And if you wish a little salt – I usually just add a sprinking of Lo-Salt to taste.
  • If you happen to have dried garlic I dare say a little of that would be jolly good too.

Then give it all a good shake.

 

To use on sweet potatoes, cut them into chips, then roll in a little olive oil and in some of the spice mix.   Then roast for approx 20 mins ( 200 degrees C)

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Lo Salt

 

 

 

 

A Spring Foraging Adventure with Hedgewitch Kat

Kat starting off our walk with some borage
Kat starting off our walk with some borage

On a lovely hot and sunny Saturday morning I walked across the water meadows and along the canal to meet Kat and a small group of fellow foragers keen to learn from her experience.

She began by showing us some borage, which she told us is used to flavour Pimms.  This was one I know for adding to a drink- you can freeze the pretty purple blue flowers in ice cubes or just pop into your drink as a garnish.  We all took a taste of the stalk which is slightly cucumbery.  The leaves are slightly furry.

We then took a look at ground elder, growing close to the ground as the name suggests.  As leaves look similar to those of the elder tree it is important to check that the plant is not actually a young elder tree sapling (in which case it would have a more woody stalk and likely be under or close to an existing elder tree), as the tree leaves are not edible.  The young ground elder leaves had a lovely tangy taste.  This plant was brought in by the Romans as it is apparently good for gout.

We then had a look at a young burdock plant – the root is used to flavour dandelion and burdock and can also be used as a vegetable, but remember you should not dig up a plant without the landowner’s permission.  You can also eat the young leaf stems, first stripping off the hard outer peel.

Everybody’s favourite of the day was Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge – there was a plentiful supply of this along the canal and the river and it tastes just as the name suggests.  It’s best to take just the top few leaves from any individual plant  – these can be eaten raw and can also be used to make a great pesto. I later spotted these a little closer to home so will definitely be out for some more of these in the next week.

The leaves of ground ivy, a low growing creeping perennial with small purple/blue flowers can be used to make a herbal tea and were used to flavour beer before the use of hops became widespread.

Nettles are the wild edible most people will be familiar with but I didn’t know that stinging nettles are actually unrelated to the white and purple flowering deadnettles ( which don’t sting) although all are edible. The young shoots and leaves of deadnettles can be added to salads or stir fries.  Stinging nettles are popularly used for soup but can also be used in a variety of other dishes such as risotto, or to make a syrup.  They are very high in iron and a range  of other vitamins. It is best to use young plants in their first year, and remember to bring gloves for picking them.

We also had a look at the hawthorn – a familar sight in British hedgerows.  The leaves can be dried in summer and used to make a tea.  The leaves contain a chemical which helps you to feel full and are known as “bread and cheese”.  The small fruits which appear later in the year are edible but fairly bland ( when I have tried them before I found them to be like a very small floury bland apple).  They can be used to make hawthorn jelly or added to other fruits and dried to make a fruit leather.

Still alongside the canal, we took a look at the large leaved comfrey plant.  The leaves can be boiled and used like spinach but it is also known for its medicinal properties ( for healing bones).  You can also cook the leaves tempura style in a little batter.

As we moved away from the canal and onto the watermeadows Kat showed us the important difference between hemlock (which is extremely poisonous) and cow parsley.

She then showed us broadleaved plantains growing in the meadow grass.  We have a smaller version of these growing in our back garden lawn.  And cleavers/goosegrass/stickyweed which can be gently steamed in a little butter when young (before the seeds appear)

Dandelions are another one everyone will easily recognise.  All parts of the plant are edible apart from the seeds.    I remember spending a whole day collecting the flowers as a child for my dad to make dandelion wine. Another of the foragers told us of a recipe for dandelion marmalade.  The young leaves can be used in salads.

We had a look at some young himalayan balsam plants emerging near the river.  These are an invasisve species so are being removed in many places.  You can help stop them spreading by collecting the seeds in late summer (shaking into a plastic bag as the seed pods explode) .  Adele Nozedar’s book mentioned at the end has recipes for Himalayan Seed Curry and Himalayan Balsam Seed Rissoles .  You can also just eat the seeds as they are, and can also eat the leaves and stems.  The stems are apparently a little like rhubarb although as we always have a surfeit of actual rhubarb in the garden I have never felt the need to try.

Kat also showed us tansy which is antibacterial ( and tasted so) and common hogweed.  The young unfurled leaves and flower heads  of the common hogweed can be cooked gently like asparagus. This plant should not be eaten raw. It is important to be sure you have correctly identified common hogweed as the larger giant hogweed is poisonous.

We finished up our walk with a taste from a large thistle – Kat cut and trimmed pieces of the stalk for us to sample.  And it was surprisingly tasty – I would say a little like celery.

We then made our way back to the pub for a quiz on what we had learnt that morning – with the prize of a lovely pot of jack-by the hedge pesto made by Kat – which I am looking forward to using this week .

This walk really helped me, giving me the confidence to try some plants I knew were edible but was not so confident about identifying and also showing me some I was unfamiliar with.  A top tip for me was the fact that pesticides cannot be sprayed close to waterways which makes the river and canal edges a great place for foraging ( although as they are also popular places for dog walkers, try to avoid the spots dogs are likely to wee or be sure to well wash/cook  your finds).

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Disclaimer and additional references:

This is a brief overview so please do not rely on my images for identification purposes, or rely on this information for the appropriate use of each plant – be sure to check with someone who knows or if using books and online images use several sources to be sure you have a clear image of any unfamiliar plants and sufficient information on which parts of the plant are edible and how to prepare them.  If in doubt don’t eat it.

Information from Kat’s fascinating walk has been supplemented, and my memory refreshed as necessary, by reference to  Richard Mabey’s Food for Free.  Other useful foraging reference books are Alys Fowler’s the Thrifty Forager and Adele Nozedar’s The Hedgerow Handbook – recipes, remedies and rituals.

A link to Kat’s blog is below.  Eat the weeds is also a useful reference site for more information on individual plants

Kat’s blog: Hedgewitch Adventures

Hedgewitch Adventures Facebook Group

Eat the Weeds

If you enjoyed this post please let me know by commenting below – you can also follow me on  Twitter or Facebook

 

 

Three Cornered Garlic

It is definitely wild garlic season in the UK but so far I haven’t found where it grows in the wild locally to me so have been looking at the various garlic pesto recipes popping up on blogs with a deal of envy.

However, walking to a friend’s house for a shared Pilates class this morning I caught a glimpse of white flowers along the footpath behind her house, which runs through a slightly wooded area.

It wasn’t the true wild garlic or ransoms (allium ursinum) I had been looking for but instead was the milder three cornered garlic ( allium triquetrum), growing along with some bluebells.

Three Cornered Garlic, Allium Triquetrum
Three Cornered Garlic, Allium Triquetrum

 

This is equally edible but has a milder, sweeter flavour  meaning that you can use the leaves raw in salads as well as in cooking.  You can also eat the flowers.

You can recognise it by the triangular leaves.  The white bell shaped flowers have a small green stripe down each petal. As another check, smell the leaves to be sure they smell of garlic.

I wasn’t really prepared for this bit of ad-hoc foraging so only had a cloth bag and was wearing particularly unsuitable white trainers, especially as it was raining, but went back to collect a small amount after the class.    Not enough to make pesto I fear as I was trying reach far into the verge to avoid the ones dogs were most likely to have weed on whilst also trying to avoid picking the bluebell leaves which look fairly similar ( but were much larger), and avoid getting too wet and muddy.  But now I know where to go when better equipped. My friends also gave me some tips on where I might find ransoms in the area.

Three cornered garlic, and bluebells
Three cornered garlic, and bluebells

 

I also came back with a delicious homemade courgette and pine nut cake my friend had baked with a glut of courgettes from her veggie box – will definitely be getting the recipe for that.

I am not going to repeat a recipe for garlic pesto as I have seen several on other blogs recently, most recently this one from Gypsy Soul who also features a monthly Thrifty Thursday blog link up which I have joined a couple of times.

I think the quantity I collected will be ideal for adding to a risotto.

What’s your favourite way of using wild garlic, whichever variety?

You can now follow me on Twitter or Facebook using the links at the top of the page.  I have a board on foraging on Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

Making the most of our Easter lunch leftovers

Despite my best efforts, we had plenty left from our Easter Sunday roast.  This was partly due to the only organic chicken in the shop being a little larger than we needed, partly due to my husband thinking everyone has the same appetite as him, and partly due to him deciding to do bacon and eggs for breakfast ahead of a roast dinner.  This was not the weekend to guess that I have been trying to reduce the quantity of meat we eat. As I am also still working on getting us to all eat the same meal as often as possible to reduce the number of times a day/different things I need to cook this is something of a challenge, although we are getting there slowly.

But none of it was wasted – it was all turned into something else for the next day / for future use.

I also baked hot cross buns and a chocolate cake – funnily enough these didn’t create any leftovers.

This is what we made with our leftovers.

Curried chicken and lentil soup

chicken soup
Chicken Soup in progress (no chicken yet)
  • 1 onion ( peeled)
  • 1 carrot (peeled)
  • 1 stick celery (trimmed)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Curry powder
  • Cumin seeds
  • Coconut milk ( 1 tin or equivalent made up powdered coconut milk)
  • Chicken stock (approx 500ml)
  • Leftover roast chicken, chopped into small pieces
  • Red lentils (50 to 100g)

Do feel free to adjust the ingredients and quantities here depending what you have left – the lentils will bulk the soup out so use more if you are short on chicken or less if you have plenty.  Similarly substitute other veg if that is what you have.

  1. Cover the red lentils with cold water and bring to the boil for 10 mins. Skim any scum from the surface with a slotted spoon and rinse with fresh water.

Meanwhile:

  1. Blitz the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food processor or chop finely.
  2. Fry the processed/chopped vegetables gently in a little oil until softened but not browned.
  3. Stir in curry powder and other spices to taste (fennel seeds would also go well) – stir for approx 1 min.
  4. Add chicken stock (see recipe below) and coconut milk, and bring to a gentle simmer.
  5. Add the roast chicken and lentils.
  6. Simmer for around 20 minutes, checking the lentils are tender.
  7. Season to taste.

Great served with homemade bread – we are lucky enough to have a bread machine which takes the effort out of this.

Chicken Stock:

20160327_145156

  • 1 chicken carcass (include any small bits of leftover skin and meat not used in the soup above)
  • 1 stick celery, halved
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, cut in half (peeled or unpeeled) – you can replace these with saved carrot peelings/trimmed carrot tops
  • Handful of parsley  or other herbs (we got a huge bunch from the market which I keep in the freezer and break handfuls off as needed)
  • 3 bay leaves ( we have a branch trimmed from our garden bay tree from which we take dried leaves as needed)
  • 1 handful of leek tops (thrown in for good measure as we happen to have loads of these in the freezer!)
  • A little salt and pepper to taste

You can also add/substitute any other vegetable trimmings you have on hand.  I  added our leftover gravy.

Combine ingredients in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil.  Skim off any grey foam that rises to the surface.

Simmer gently for around 3 hours (check the water level if you are leaving it uncovered  – you may need to add more during the cooking time)

When ready the stock should be a golden colour.

Strain the stock carefully.  If you want to freeze the stock it is a good idea to boil it again for half an hour or longer to reduce it further  at this stage – you can then freeze the concentrated version in ice cube trays for later use ( just pop a few from the freezer into a jug of boiling water)

Allow to cool completely – then you can remove any fat from the surface.

If not freezing you should refrigerate and use within a few days.

Everything sieved out of the stock went into our bokashi bin ahead of composting.

 

My husband made up these patties for tea:

Roast vegetable and bacon patties:

 vegetable patties

  • Leftover roast veg ( we used potato, parsnip, carrot, celeriac).
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • A few slices of streaky bacon
  • Handful of breadcrumbs ( plus more to coat if you wish) ( we save up crusts in the freezer as they tend to get left and then whizz them in a blender to make crumbs as required)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • A little grated cheese ( purely as we had some leftover)

 

Fry the bacon until cooked through and chop into small pieces.  Fry the onion and garlic until softened.

Mash the roast vegetables and mix together with the other ingredients.

Shape into small rounds, coating with additional breadcrumbs if you wish.  If they are too soggy you could stir in a little flour at this stage.

Fry in a little oil until cooked through and turning golden on the outside.

 

As we were making these up on the go we didn’t manage to shape these into patties for cooking but instead just scooped the cooked mixture into balls on serving – not the most attractive but they were tasty and even our fussy 8 year old who claims to hate most vegetables ate them  and said we could cook them again which is praise indeed.

 What’s your favourite leftovers recipe?

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