Category Archives: Recipes

Preventing food waste recipe: Healthy mango and banana “ice-cream” smoothie

Do you ever have some bananas that become too brown for anyone to eat?   Pop them in the freezer to use in smoothies.  They add a lovely creamy texture and the sweetness of the bananas make for a delicious drink.  I have many different smoothie recipes but this one is a firm favourite of my 6 year old – “it tastes like ice-cream!”

Over ripe bananas
Freeze to use in smoothies

Ingredients – makes enough for 4 people

2-3 frozen bananas (allow 1/2 banana per person depending on size)
1-2 C frozen mango
1T chia seeds
200 ml of milk / dairy alternative (add more if you are not using Kefir)
200ml Kefir (optional)

Add milk/Kefir to the blender and chia seeds – leave for 5-10minutes for chia seeds to expand.  Take frozen bananas from the freezer to soften slightly (note you do not want them to defrost).  Peel and chop bananas, add along with frozen mango to the chia mixture and blend.

Texture should be quite thick, like soft ice-cream and we eat it with spoons.  Once they defrost the become liquid, like normal smoothies.

Banana and mango smoothie
Dust with cacao and enjoy!

 

 

 

Fermenting vegetables with Kate Harrison

Why ferment vegetables?

I began my journey with fermenting because I wanted another way to preserve the glut of vegetables coming from my plot in the late Summer and early Autumn. I’d already been making jams, pickles and chutneys, and I wanted to try something new.

Fermenting vegetables is also known as ‘lacto-fermentation’, because it uses lactobacillus bacteria. These bacteria are an example of the ‘good bacteria’ we hear so much about; they are good for your digestion and your gut health. They also help to preserve the good nutrients in your vegetables, such as Vitamin C, and break down some of the carbohydrates and proteins in food, making them easier to digest and absorb. Lactobacillus bacteria thrive in wet and salty conditions – the brine of your fermentation. They produce lactic acid, which is what gives all lacto-fermented foods that tangy sour fresh taste I find so delicious.

How to ferment vegetables?

Before trying my first fermentation, I went to a workshop run by Darren Ollerton of Alchemy Flow. In this workshop I discovered it was so easy, that I started my first ferment the next day. Darren is a fantastic educator and a great advocate for fermentation, and I recommend his website, his delicious products and his workshop. However, you do not need special training to make simple ferments like sauerkraut described below. It’s also much quicker than standing over a pan of bubbling chutney for hours on end – and the end result is sugar-free and more nutritious. Once you’ve tried this, you too will realise how simple it is, and you’ll start experimenting too!

Making sauerkraut

In its most basic form, sauerkraut is simply white cabbage, lacto-fermented with salt. Look for salt that has no added iodine, as it can interfere with the fermentation process. The lactobacillus bacteria is naturally present on the leaves of all vegetables – you are simply creating the salty conditions which encourage this good bacteria to grow, and which inhibits the growth of bad bacteria.

Use 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt for one medium cabbage (about 2 kg). This is not a precise art, and you can taste it to check it’s not horribly salty. I always like to add some caraway seeds to enhance the taste, about one tablespoon per medium cabbage. Once you understand the basic principle, you can start to add other spices and ingredients such as layering it with chard leaves or beetroot tops, adding garlic or spring onion.

Finely shred the cabbage, and put it in a container with lots of space to get your hands in. I use a clean washing up bowl.

Sprinkle the salt onto the cabbage, and stir and massage it in with your hands. Leave it for a while – between 20 minutes to an hour. You’ll find the salt is drawing the liquid out of the cabbage, creating a brine. Keep massaging the cabbage and moving it around, so all the cabbage has contact with the salty solution.

Sprinkle the caraway seeds onto the cabbage and stir and massage again to mix thoroughly.

Get a large jar, or a couple of medium sized ones, and firmly pack the cabbage into the jar. If the jar is big enough, you can get your hand in to really push the cabbage down, packing it tightly so there are very few gaps. You could also use a spoon or a pestle to do this.  The cabbage should be sitting in its salty brine. If you don’t have enough brine, you can always add a 5% salt solution to top it up.

Weight the cabbage down so all is submerged. I use a smaller jar filled with water as a weighting device. You can also use a clean plastic bag filled with 5% brine (in case it leaks), packed into the neck of the jar.

Cover with a clean tea towel or muslin and leave at room temperature for several days. How long is up to you, and the temperature in the room. It could be ready in four days, or you could leave it for two weeks or more. The longer you leave it, the sourer it becomes – so taste it occasionally to check.  Refrigerating the ferment slows the process down dramatically, so once you have the taste you like, keep it in the fridge.

Enjoy it as a pickle on the side of your plate, as an accompaniment to sausage and mash, in soups or sandwiches – experiment!

Once you understand the technique, you can try other things –  red cabbage sauerkraut, fermented runner beans and kimchi.

Troubleshooting

I promise you, making sauerkraut is easy! Here’s a few things to remember to prevent problems:

  • Keep hands, utensils and jars clean. No need for sterile jars, but wash with hot soapy water and rinse well
  • Not too much salt – this inhibits the fermentation process and tastes rubbish. If your mix tastes too salty, you could add a bit of water before starting the fermentation
  • Not too little salt – this will mean the cabbage will rot instead of fermenting. You’ll know by the smell, and the mould. If your cabbage looks mouldy, or you have any doubts about it, throw it away and start again. Rinse before adding to your compost bin, to remove the salt.
  • Be aware that fermentation creates a gas, carbon dioxide. This gas needs to escape during fermentation, so do not put a tight lid on your jar, or it may explode. It’s OK to use a lid once you’ve put your ferment in the fridge.

Find out more

Sauerkraut is just the beginning! Look online and you’ll find recipes for all sorts of vegetable ferments. You can also learn about kefir (fermented milk) and kombucha (fermented tea).

If you want to read more, in my opinion Sandor Katz is the best author on the topic: “Wild Fermentation” is the classic.

Kate Harrison is a BHOGG member and has gardened on the Weald allotment for 17 years. She is a member of the FareShare Sussex steering committee and is passionate about reducing food waste and helping more people eat healthy and nutritious food.

 

Winter Greens Trial update

After the mayhem of Christmas & New Year, it was a pleasure to be able to escape to the allotment for a few hours last weekend. And even more pleasurable to witness what awaited me in the poly tunnel: a ready-to-harvest crop of wintergreens.

Ready for harvest

Despite the inclement weather, the transplanted seedlings have grown into strong, healthy plants that are now large enough to be picked. I took the ‘cut and come again’ approach as you would with lettuce at this stage. I am hopeful that this will encourage new growth and extend the picking season. I suspect that at some point I will uproot whole plants if they continue expanding at current rates.

The only plants not ready for harvest were the spinach. The first lot of seedlings only produced a couple of plants and these are very slow growing in comparison to the brassica varieties. Perhaps they will still do well a bit later on.

I only harvested from the plants with the largest leaves, but could have taken a couple from each for a larger haul. With the Mizuna I took a small clump. The harvest (clockwise from top left) is: Mizuna, Pak Choi, Fuyuna and Choy Sum (flower heads).

First harvest

I only wanted to lightly cook the greens, and as there wasn’t enough to make a main dish, I fried them in a hot wok in a little seasame oil, sprinkling tamari over them in the final moments of cooking. I then added them to a bowl of hot, spicy celery and potato soup (because its still winter and its too cold for salad!).

Stir fry

Any type of vegetable soup will work – perhaps make the most of the opportunity to showcase your fresh winter greens by using up some of those left over root veggies you have: potatoes, carrots, celeriac, parsnips. You can also add a little cheese after serving; we used vegan blue ‘cheese’, which complimented the soup perfectly. Alternatively, the greens would be a perfect addition to a stir-fry or as a steamed vegetable accompaniment.

Roasted winter veggies with satay sauce.

This is my favourite winter recipe – so hearty and delicious – it never fails to impress. It’s a great way to use up veggies, and the satay sauce is just divine.

Ingredients:

Usually whatever is in the fridge that needs to be used up.

A mix of root vegetables – beetroot, potatoes, parsnips, carrots
Garlic, onion, leeks, celery, zucchini, red pepper
Broccoli
A couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary / thyme
Pinch of salt and olive oil

Satay Sauce

½ tablespoon peanut oil
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sweet soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter (crunchy)
1 can coconut milk

Method:

Cooking time is approx. 40 mins.  Heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Chop the root veggies and add garlic, onions, a dash of olive oil, salt, fresh herbs – pop in the oven.  While these are cooking cut up the rest of the vegetables.

 

Veggies 1

After 10 minutes add the rest of the vegetables except broccoli (if you are using). Broccoli – I always add this about 10-15 minutes from the end so not to over cook.

While the vegetables are cooking make the satay sauce.

Satay sauce

The satay sauce is a community recipe posted by Ashy on nigella.com.  Because I like a bit of spice I swap out the chilly flakes for fresh chillies (those fiery little green ones if you like it hot!).   And if you want a gluten-free option just swap the soy sauce for tamari (add a couple of extra teaspoons depending on taste).

Method:

Heat the oil in a wok and fry the garlic, onion and chilli over a moderate heat until onion is soft.  Add the sugar and stir until slightly caramelised.  Add the soy sauce and peanut butter and stir through.  Add a little coconut milk at a time until you achieve your desired consistency.

Once the veggies are cooked pour over the satay sauce.  Enjoy!

 

Special thanks to Lisa Barber for the headline photo.

Chocolate Beetroot cake

I worked with award winning photographer Lisa Barber to make and photograph the cake.  We tried the gluten free option and it was so delicious.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Ingredients
3 medium beetroot, cooked, skinned and coarsly grated
250g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
300g sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
250ml vegetable oil
50g cocoa powder

For gluten free option:
Substitute gluten free flour mix.  Add 1tsp baking powder, 1tsp bicarbonate soda, 1/2 cup pureed apple, 1tsp cider vinegar.

Cake3

Method
Preheat oven to 180C; grease 13×9 inch pan.

Sift flour, baking soda & salt together in a bowl.
Beat sugar, eggs, vanilla & oil until smooth.  Add beetroot & cocoa power and beat until combined well.
Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Pour batter into pan, smooth top.  Bake in middle of oven for around 35 mins (it may take longer, depending on oven type).

Cake2

Lisa Barber, is an award-winning food and portrait photographer.  She has photographed some of the world’s most famous chefs, and shot the images for Brighton-based Terre a Terre’s cookbook, and David Everitt-Mathias’ cookbooks Divine Chocolate, Essence, Dessert & Beyond Essence. She has an organic allotment in South London.  For more information visit her website.

Recipe was supplied by Jenni.

Pumpkin Spice Biscuits

Pumpkins are so versatile – sweet or savory dishes aplenty.  Here is a delicious biscuit recipe – perfect alternative to sweets for Halloween!

Ingredients

4oz butter
6oz sugar
1 large egg
250ml pumpkin pulp (boil 1 inch cubes until tender and strain well)
1 tsp grated citrus peel
1 tsp ground cinnamon
8oz plain flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F/180C, oil or line a large baking sheet.

Beat butter, sugar & egg together then add pumpkin, peel & spices, and beat.
Add flour, salt & baking soda to the pumpkin mix and blend.

Drop tablespoon sized batter onto baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and firm to touch (around 20-25mins).

 

Pumpkin spiced biscuits (2)

 

 

What to do with all those nasturtiums…

It’s been such a mild autumn, lots of us have still got nasturtium plants hanging around! If you’re stuck for what to do with them and you like capers, here’s an idea…

Nasturtiums

(Photo courtesy of Inkberry Blue)

Poor Man’s Capers

Soak fresh, nasturtium green seeds  in cold salted water for two days (half a tablespoon of salt to one pint of water).

Drain and soak in cold water for another day, then drain well and put in a glass jar.

Bring (pickling or white wine) vinegar to boiling point and use to cover the seeds. (Probably best to let it cool first!) Close the jar tightly and leave for a couple of days before eating – they’re nicest after about 2 weeks. Store for up to six months.

Variations on the above include adding the following to the vinegar: garlic, celery seeds, lemon zest, pickling spice and peppercorns.