Saturday, 25 October 2014

fenland celery

The term protected geographical  indication normally brings to mind such items as champagne, parma ham or maybe Melton Mowbray pies but recently, another less obvious item has received the same recognition... namely Fenland celery which was awarded the status last year and became the first English vegetable to have the coveted award.

Fenland celery ( also known as dirty celery by locals ) has a short season between October and January. The rich, dark soil of the Cambridgeshire fens around Ely in which it is grown contributes to its distinctive nutty flavour and the tradition of earthing the soil up means it has a paler colour.

Celery, like many other fruit and vegetables, is now available all year long, but Fenland celery with its short season was, in Victorian times, a prized addition to the Christmas feast and was often presented in special celery vases.
Recently, due to its protected status, Fenland celery has been enjoying a resurgence.

I came home from our local greengrocer yesterday with some fenland celery, the black fen soil still clinging to the pale stems. It's not difficult to see why it is also called dirty celery!

With its delicious taste, it seemed best to enjoy it raw and this recipe for hummus seemed to be the perfect accompaniment.

It made a lovely lunch.

P.S. my blog posts have been a little sparse lately. There are two reasons for this:

1. computer problems! My old laptop died and I was getting to grips with windows 8 on a new machine when it was found to be faulty and had to be returned. I am now mastering a chromebook and so far we are getting on well together ....

2. the imminent arrival of our first grandchild. Baby's due date has come and gone and we are still waiting! But lovely daughter number 1 is coping very well and is still blooming.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

a golden harvest

Not so many months ago, I sowed some butternut squash seeds, variety Hunter, in small pots on the windowsill. When the weather warmed up I planted them out onto the allotment and now it is time to harvest.

The magic of  growth from seed to fruit never fails to amaze!

And the lovely sunny weather we had this summer has resulted in a bumper crop.

Four plants have produced about 25 golden squash of varying sizes.
Fortunately, they store well in our cool garage.

Squash of any sort are very versatile, making delicious soups, hearty roasted vegetable bakes and gratins.

Then of course, they can be used  in cakes and desserts, think muffins and the all American pumpkin pie.

So a recipe for cinnamon, squash and apple mousse in the latest Waitrose Kitchen magazine is not so unusual as it first sounds.

Following the recipe,
 I roasted 360g of squash and 200g eating apples cut into 2.5 cm pieces and dotted with 3tbsp coconut oil in a hot oven (200 C) for about 30 minutes,
 then blitzed them with 1tsp cinnamon and about 300ml coconut water* to make a thick puree.
At this point, I deviated from the recipe and added a couple of tablespoons of honey to the puree which otherwise reminded me too much of soup.
The puree was then layered with plain yoghurt and topped with toasted walnuts.

It looked very pretty and autumnal but tasted, well ......unusual!
Make of that what you will, but I don't think I shall be adding it to my favourites list.
Although, mr digandweed covered it with copious amounts of extra honey and wolfed it down all the same!

*coconut water, not to be confused with coconut milk, is the clear liquid found inside whole coconuts and is reputed to have many health benefits including high levels of potassium.