Wednesday, 19 June 2013

My Favourite Salad

My lettuces were ready for eating (i.e. about to get out of control, we're not talking baby leaf) today, so it was definitely salad for dinner. This is my favourite salad, which I'll be honest, takes a long time if you make a decent amount of it because of all the sweating and roasting of vegetables, but you could whip it up in 40 minutes if you made a small, unsweated batch.

1 aubergine
2 red peppers
1 courgette
some sort of earnest lentil
feta cheese
fresh mint
red onion
fresh salad leaves
tomatoes (if you like)
1. Sweat the aubergine and courgette by chopping them into chunks, sticking them in a colander and pouring tons of salt on them, and leaving them in the sink for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, roast the red pepper chunks in a bit of olive oil at 200C if you're limited with oven space. Should take about 30 minutes.
3. Rinse the salt off the other veggies, and pat and squeeze them dry with embarrassing amounts of paper towel. Roast them for 30 minutes as above.
4. Meanwhile, cook your lentils. I use green speckly ones and they usually take about 35 minutes. Apparently you shouldn't boil them like hell, just simmer.
5. Leave the lentils to cool or even run some cold water through them if you're eating soon.
6. Chop up some feta, some red onion and some mint and bung everything together.
7. Eat with lots of fresh leaves. I chopped up some tomatoes and spread a bit of my homemade (with hazelnuts this time!) pesto on them as they were a bit boring.

I usually put the lentilly salad on the bed of leaves but my bowl overflowed...

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Elderflower Champagne

It's that lovely time of year again, the elder trees are all suddenly going for it, blooming away. I am taking advantage of this. Off I went to collect the elderflowers in my new basket. The recipe says 25 heads of elderflower, which sounds like loads, but it only takes about 5 minutes to collect.

Recipe for 10 litres:

·       6.7 litres hot water

·       1.170kg sugar

·       Juice and zest of 7 lemons (I just peeled the rind off them, we'll see if it works)

·       3 tbsp white wine vinegar

·       25 heads of elderflower

1. Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.

2. Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.

3. Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it’s not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.

4. Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers (available from home-brewing suppliers) or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilized screw-top plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so strong bottles and seals are essential).

5. Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place

Monday, 10 June 2013

Homemade Summer Food Things

We had a sun-drenched barbeque and I thought it the perfect excuse to make a couple of things I've wanted to for ages. Get them under my belt. The first, PESTO.

I made the classic pine nut and basil version, but I ended up making the vegan version as I didn't have any parmesan.

3 handfuls washed basil leaves
1 handful pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic
squeeze of lemon juice

1. Whizz up in food processor.
2. Add as much olive oil to get it to be a smooth paste.
3. Stir in plenty of sea salt, and some black pepper.

Tasty on fresh bread. I also made some salad dressing with it. More lemon juice, more garlic, more oil, more salt and peper. Was alright.

That flower you can see is from my one and only lupin plant that I managed to grow from seed and keep alive for a year and a half! I snapped it's lovely flower spike off when bumbling past it, and decided not to get very annoyed by this but to admire it in the kitchen - turns out they're excellent cut flowers, it's lasting for ages. I think I must be appreciating it much more now than if it was still in the garden. Hooray. Right anyway next food thing:

The cover girl cake! The cake on the cover of my new favourite baking recipe book: Honeybuns Gluten Free Baking, by Emma Goss Custard. That book is amazing. This cake - the raspberry and white chocolate cake - has no flour and intriguingly, no butter in it. It's made mostly out of ground hazelnuts. And you roast the raspberries in honey and cinnamon sugar. Everyone loved it.
Lastly, I did an impromptu elderflower cooler type drink. I only had a handful of elderflowers (they've only just started blooming round here), and not much time, so I boiled up a saucepan of water with some golden caster sugar, quite a lot really, not sure how much, peeled the rind off a lemon in strips, and added the flowers, lemon peel and hot sugar water to a big bowl and let it sit and think about things for a couple of hours, then added it to a big jug of icy water last minute. I didn't strain it, a. because everyone had turned up and it would take too long to find something resembling a muslin cloth and b. because I thought it looked quite exciting with all the flowers suspended in the mysterious murk. I provided a tea strained for people to pour it through instead. It was quite a hit.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Basket Case

I finally got to make a proper basket!
Mum knew I'd always wanted to so she booked us in on a basket-making day.
Very chuffed with my basket.
Soon it shall be full of homegrown veggies!