Wednesday, 31 October 2012

beautiful weather, beautiful city

Cambridge is a lovely city, made all the more beautiful yesterday in the autumn sunshine.
King's College
punts on the river cam
tiny church behind Kettle's Yard

As well as enjoying the cafes and shops we were there to visit two exhibitions. The first was Winifred Nicholson at Kettles Yard and then the snow country: woodcuts of the Japanese Winter at the Fitzwilliam Museum.
The latter exhibition was the one that really caught my imagination, particularly the prints of  Hiroshige. They seemed very peaceful. Almost monochrome except for touches of blue, very detailed yet somehow uncluttered. This was one of  my favourites.
A stroll around the market followed with its enticing stalls :
Aubergines and .....

....these amazing squash!

And no trip to Cambridge would be complete without a delicious Chelsea bun from Fitzbillies!

Thursday, 25 October 2012


These are the first of our parsnips. They are like the gnarled old men of the vegetable world; some have whiskery bits growing off the sides and others have multiple thin roots at the bottom, looking like scruffy long beards! They certainly wouldn't win any beauty contests and don't look like the smart parsnips you find in Waitrose!
After a wash and brush up they were slightly more presentable ....

.....and made a delicious mash, mixed with a small amount of butter, some yoghurt and lots of black pepper and nutmeg. 
This was mr digandweed's favourite way of eating it, with mushrooms baked with butter and garlic, the juices oozing into the mash.
I was worried that I may have left the parsnips in the ground too long as they are very big, but my book assures me that they can be left all winter and even improve after a frost. Hopefully some will still be left for Christmas dinner!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

butternut squash harvest

This is an upside down post, with the finished result - a bowl of warming soup first.
The soup was from a recipe sent to me by my sister from a Sainsbury's magazine. It was just right for a blustery October evening, with warm overtones of cinnamon from the garam masala which was one of the ingredients.
Below is a picture of our butternut squash harvest, all of which are now safely stored in the garage.
Eighteen altogether of varying sizes!
I think I should have been more ruthless in removing some of the small squashes in order to produce more uniform larger ones, but it seemed such a shame at the time!
Most of the squashes have lovely smooth skin

... but 3 have splits in the skin, although still edible.

The squash ready for cooking -  

The variety was  Hurricane and were very easy to grow from seed. Although they have a tendency to roam at will across the plot, if you have the space, their delicious fruits more than compensate for this personality defect; they make velvety soups, soft golden mash and nutty,chewy morsels when roasted. Definitely worth another go next year. 


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

ready, steady .........go!

spiced chicken, bacon, asparagus and spinach lentils
First meal from the latest addition to my bookshelf - Jamie's 15 minute meals .
Ok, so it took nearly 20 minutes,instead of 15, but was a delicious combination, with succulent, juicy chicken.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Beta vulgaris .....

....or in other words ....
you guessed it   ---  beetroot!!
As you may have realised mr digandweed and myself  have lots of it this year!  Here it is in another guise!


This was a recipe that I tore from a Waitrose magazine last Christmas. The Cold Weather Slaw  was delicious with the remains of the turkey and other cold meats on Boxing day and since then has become a firm favourite with its refreshing slightly sweet and sour flavour.
This time, we enjoyed it with smoked mackerel pate.
This year mr digandweed and myself grew a variety called Kestrel, last year it was Boltardy, both proved very reliable. I may venture further next year and try some of the striped varieties!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Cookery geek.

If you have read my earlier posts, you will know that I am an enthusiast when it comes to reading cookery books and watching cookery programmes and that one of my favourites is Nigel Slater.

Last week, on the spur of the moment, I decided to tweet him a photo of the chocolate beetroot cake which I had made  -  and was beside myself with excitement when a few minutes later he replied to say he was pleased I enjoyed the recipe and that my cake looked 'splendid' ! To be fair, I had noticed that other people tweeted him about recipes they had tried and that he very kindly replied, but this did not detract from my glee!

All of this excitement reminded me of how when I was about 10 I wrote a letter to Fanny Cradock. At the time, there were hardly any cookery programmes on t.v. and Fanny Cradock was one of the few to have her own series. I collected her books and the articles from the Daily Telegraph and was an avid viewer of her programmes. It never occurred to me then that it was a bit odd to be cooking whilst dolled up to the nines in ballgown and pearls!

Therefore, imagine my delight as a 10 year old, when I received a reply to my letter, complete with signature!

So as you can see, some things never change! I'm still the same cookery geek, writing to my culinary heroes - just the means of communication has changed!


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Nigel Slater's extremely moist chocolate beetroot cake....

...or another delicious way to use up our beetroot mountain!
This is a recipe from Tender vol 1. A delicious recipe and fairly straightforward, but not a cake to dash off in a hurry, as it has several distinct stages. The first was to boil and roughly puree the beetroot.

 Mixed with melted chocolate, butter and egg yolks, the mixture smelt wonderful and was the colour of rich, burnished mahogany.

To this was added flour, cocoa powder and the egg whites whisked with sugar.

After coming out of the oven, it began to sink alarmingly in the middle, but this apparently is ok! 
Nigel describes the cake as 'a seductive cake, deeply moist and tempting' and he was right!