Friday, 22 February 2013

just a few parsnips left ...

... so time to make Roasted Parsnip and Parmesan Soup, another soup from one of my favourite books - New Covent Garden Soup Company's Book of Soups

It seems that soup is a recurring theme in my posts ; soup is so easy, so tasty and so good for you.

This is a delicious soup to use the remaining parsnips from the allotment.
You have to admire the humble parsnip. Having spent weeks in below zero temperatures and covered with snow, it emerges from the ground unscathed ( some say even improved by its frosty spell underground) and ready to be transformed into a warming supper.

Roasted with a coating of grated parmesan cheese, they are delicious in their own right.

And mixed with stock and a little cream, a very delicious supper.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

A trip to Ely in spring sunshine.

Singing-girl is home for the weekend and this morning the sun was out, so along with mr digandweed, we decided on a trip to Ely, to stroll along the riverbank and wander around the magnificent cathedral, both beautiful in the spring sunshine.
We also paid a visit to the Waterside Antiques Centre next to the river; a fascinating place, stuffed to the rafters with lovely collectables of all shapes and sizes.
I was very tempted by the vintage kitchenalia and the beautiful china and then singing-girl spotted these -
If you have seen the film Julie and Julia, you will know that these are the books, written by Julia Child and first published in the USA in1961 which, years later inspired Julie Powell to work her way through them. She cooked 524 recipes in 365 days and charted her progress on a blog.
The books are full of useful techniques and recipes and are written, as Julia Child says for, 'the servantless cook' -so that'll be me then!- and at only £1.50 each they were a bargain I had to have!
They also  have some lovely line drawings.

The moulinette pictured above was an essential piece of equipment in many French kitchens, probably now superseded by the electric blender. The French family that we used to stay with for holidays when I was young had one and it was often in use for making delicious soups. Mum was so impressed that, on one of our trips, she bought one for herself and for many years I remember her using it at home. I almost wish we still had it!

Monday, 11 February 2013

orange curd - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

After last week's marmalade making , I was left with a few spare seville oranges. A quick trawl through the internet revealed this recipe for seville orange curd.

It used the juice from about 3 oranges, 125g  unsalted butter, 400g granulated sugar, 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks and the zest from 1 navel orange.

The ingredients were heated in a double boiler until softly floppy. I did find that it took considerably longer than the 15 mins suggested to reach this stage, in fact almost double the time, but the resulting curd is deliciously sharp/sweet.

A lovely way to while away an hour on a cold, cloudy winter afternoon.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

windowsill allotment - update

My little trays of seeds germinated and grew amazingly fast. Here they are just one week later.

These are the broccoli seeds; the beetroot seedlings are a little smaller, but a beautiful rose pink colour.
one week later

I also sprouted seeds in a jar - again these are the broccoli seeds -

- and atop a slice of toast with houmous -

-or adorning a salad.

 Ok, so they tasted much the same as standard cress which you can buy in any supermarket, but it was fun growing them and a reminder that spring is on its way.
The temperature may only be 4c outside, but with the sun streaming through the dining room window and a summery salad for lunch, I can dream of warmer days to come!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

love or loathe

I sometimes think that marmalade is one of those things, like marmite, that you either love or loathe.
In common with mr digandweed, I happen to love it.
This is the time of year when Seville oranges appear in the shops and their knobbly, unprepossessing appearance belies the fact that they make a superb preserve.

Seville oranges do not originate as one might assume in Spain, but in fact in China.They were brought to Europe by Arab traders and groves of them planted in Andalucia, particularly around the town of Seville.

As for marmalade itself, a preserve of that name was first made from quinces in Portugal. The quince or marmelo was made into a thick preserve or marmelada.

But, the story goes that the commercial success of marmalade in this country is due to one James Keiller, a grocer from Dundee who bought up the cargo of fruit from a ship forced to shelter in the harbour from a storm. However, dismayed to find that the the oranges were not sweet edible ones, his wife turned them into a preserve which proved very popular and by 1797 they had opened their first marmalade factory - and as they say 'the rest is history'.
Readers of this blog may know that I received Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries 2 for Christmas. The entry for February 4th is for Seville Orange Marmalade, inspired by this and by an article in The Observer, I decided to make some marmalade myself.
The recipe in The Observer uses not only Seville oranges, but also ginger too and since I am more than a little addicted to ginger in all its forms, this was the recipe I opted for.

Here are my little pots of amber treasure - fresh and bittersweet tasting with an extra zing from the ginger!