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It’s Thursday – so it must be veg bag day. And as it was chucking it down the poor hearty squirrels had to move their stall inside to stop themselves from being drenched! Never mind, with smiles on their faces they gave me my large veg bag and ½ a dozen eggs. This week’s bag contained:

9 small potatoes
4 onions
4 large carrots (yes those are the black things!)
2 large leeks
1 cabbage
4 leaves/stalks of kale (note to self: must find out what the unit of currency of kale is!)


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Looking over my bounty I decided that the first thing that needed using was the kale. Everything else will keep fine, but kale tends to go a bit limp if you don’t use it quickly. My bed-time reading lately has been Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest book “Jerusalem” which is a great recipe book with some fantastic pictures (thanks for the Christmas present mum!) According to Ottolenghi : "Tabblouleh is a parsley salad, not a bulgar salad". So with this in mind I came up with a bit of fusion food.

Scottish Tabbouleh

100g bulgar wheat
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 stalks of kale
1 small onion
6 cherry tomatoes
Black pepper
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon allspice

Put the bulgar in a large bowl together with the ground cumin. Add just enough boiling water to cover the bulgar, cover the bowl (I use an up-turned plate) and let it stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile cut the onion and tomatoes into small dice and mix together with the lemon juice and as much black pepper as you fancy.

Then wash the kale thoroughly and cut out the central stalk bit from each leaf. Then take the rest of the leaves and chop them really finely. And I mean really finely - I used a mezzaluna – one of those double handed knife things; another Christmas present from years ago!

Finally mix everything into the bulgar, then add the allspice and finally the olive oil.

We’re going to have this as a side dish tomorrow, but if you wanted it as a main dish you could add some olives, some feta, some pumpkin seeds...... and serve with a chunk of nice bread.


 
 
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No recipes tonight, but couple of thoughts about kitchen gadgets. I’m not really into kitchen gadgets, except my bread-maker (but that’s a whole other post!) but there are a couple of things that really make my veg recipes easier.

The first thing I couldn’t live without is Billy the Blender. No I didn’t give it that name – nor did my parents who bought this stick blender for me. But Billy it is – and it’s fabulous for making soups, humus and plenty of other things as well. The best thing is that you don’t have to take the soup out of the pan before you blitz it.




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And the second thing is my mini-food chopper. I quite often use recipes that call for grated veg but a) I’m lazy and b) I quite like my fingers the way they are. So I cheat and put the veg into the chopper. If you’re being a complete purist the veg aren’t actually grated, but I’ve yet to tell the difference.








 
 
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When is a parsnip not a parsnip? It turns out the answer is when it’s a mooli covered in mud! I found this out the hard way when I went to get my “parsnip” out of the veg rack and scrubbed it clean. Oh well, it’s a root veg and I already had my meal planned. So for the first time ever I made potato and mooli cake and very tasty, if somewhat surprising, it was too:


Potato and Mooli cake

3 medium potatoes peeled and grated

1 large mooli (or parsnip) peeled and grated
(or if you can peel and chop both the potatoes and mooli then blitz in an electric chopper)

1 onion finely chopped

1 egg beaten

100g cheddar/parmesan or other hard cheese grated

2 rashers bacon chopped into small bits (optional)

6 mushrooms sliced (optional)

Start by heating some oil in a medium frying pan, then add the bacon and when it is just about crisp add the mushrooms and fry all together for another couple of minutes.

In the mean time put the mooli and potato on some kitchen towel and pat to remove as much moisture as possible from the grated veg.

Remove the bacon and mushrooms from the frying pan and put to one side and add a little more oil to the frying pan.

In a large bowl mix together the potato, mooli, onion and egg. Spoon half of the mixture into the frying pan and press it down firmly. Add the cheese and the mushroom and bacon mixture on top then finally put the rest of the potato, mooli, onion and egg mix on top and press down firmly so you have a nice compact mixture. Let it cook on a low heat for about ten minutes. Meanwhile pre-heat the grill and then transfer the whole frying pan under the grill for another 10 minutes to cook the top of the potato cake.

Remove from the grill, put a plate over the top of the frying pan and invert the whole lot so that the cake flips onto the plate.

Serve with a salad if you’re feeling posh, or baked beans if you want real comfort food!

 

All of which means that............this week’s veg bag is empty and I have just one egg left!


 
 
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Today’s culinary question is: what exactly is the difference between a tortilla and a frittata? I’m not entirely sure – as far as I’m concerned they are both posh omelettes which are great for using up bits and bobs of veg. So tonight I made a green pepper, onion and mushroom fritilla or tortatta or whatever.

Heat some olive oil in a small frying pan. Chop and gently fry your chosen veg.

Meanwhile crack 4 eggs into a bowl and whisk gently with a fork.

When the veg are soften add them plus a good twist of black pepper to the eggs and mix all together. Then pour the egg and veg mix back into the frying pan and let the mixture cook gently for up to 10 minutes. Now you can either do clever things with a plate where you put the plate over the frying pan and invert the whole lot then gently slide the omelette back into the pan to cook the other side. Or you can do what I do, put the grill on and put the whole pan under the grill until the top of the omelette is nice and brown.

Enjoy your omelette with a couple of slices of yummy bread.


 
 
Sunday night means getting ready for the working week and cries out for comfort food. Tonight’s supper definitely qualified – the recipe came from the Abel and Cole website which is a fantastic resource for recipes to use the veg in your veg bag. The recipe was a bacon and honeyed parsnip risotto, it’s the first time I’ve made it and it was amazing. You start by frying the bacon and then the parsnips. The combination looked and smelled fantastic and it took all my will-power not to eat it there and then.

The full recipe can be found here.

So at the end of the weekend the contents of the veg bag have been reduced to:

1 onion
3 medium potatoes
1 enormous parsnip

And the half dozen eggs are still untouched.
 
 
It was Burns' night last night so this evening we are off out with some friends and will almost definitely have haggis. That meant that today’s cooking was focused on lunch stuff. One of my good friends had given me a load of garlic from her in-laws farm in France so the recipes featured roasted garlic (roast at 200C for 20 minutes).
The hummus recipe below doesn't use anything from the veg bag, but it’s pretty tasty.

Cannellini bean hummus:

Put 1 drained tin of cannellini beans, juice of half a lemon, a teaspoon of vinegar 4 cloves of roasted garlic and 40ml of very cold water in a blender/food processor and blitz. If you don’t have a blender or food processor you can put it in a bowl and either blitz with a stick blender  or mash with a fork or potato masher.

The soup used two onions and three potatoes from the veg bag. It is adapted from a recipe in the New Covent Garden “A soup for every day” book, which is brilliant, especially when you can get it cheap from the Book People.




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Roast pepper and garlic chowder

3 smallish red peppers
6 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled, and chopped into 2cm dice
1.2 l veg stock (I make it with marigold powder – fantastic stuff!)
1 small tin sweetcorn
2 teaspoons sweet chilli sauce (optional)


Pre-heat the oven to 200oC. Roast the peppers for 30 mins and the garlic (still in its skin) for 20 mins. When they’ve cooled a bit remove the garlic from its skin, you could also take the skin off the peppers, but I don’t bother!



Meanwhile put a tablespoon of oil in a large sauce-pan and gently fry the onion for 5 or so minutes. When the onion is soft and the diced potato and stir to coat in the oil. Then add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Then add the garlic, peppers and drained sweetcorn and heat through. Blitz with a stick blender then add a couple of teaspoons of sweet chilli sauce if you feel like it!


 
 
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Hurray it’s Friday: that means a bit of a chill out and something that doesn’t require too much effort for supper.

Husband had been requested to get a bottle of wine on the way home and he played a blinder! Our local corner shop is a branch of the co-op and they do fantastic “reduced for quick sale” bargains if you time it right, and this evening he timed it perfectly. He arrived home with the requested bottle of wine, and a pot of “posh” olives marinated in garlic and herbs reduced from £2 (which I definitely wouldn’t have paid) to 40p – result! So we chilled with the olives and a glass of wine and then it was pasta for supper. It wasn’t particularly veg bag-centric but it was quick and I did use the mushrooms and an onion.





Friday night easy pasta (serves 2):

Put the kettle on to boil.

Meanwhile heat some oil (I used the oil that our bargain olives had been marinating in so got some extra garlic and herbs thrown in for free!)

In a separate pan put enough pasta for 2 people on to cook.

Fry an onion, 6 mushrooms, a pepper and 2 cloves of garlic gently in the heated oil for 5ish minutes

Add 200g of crab sticks (chopped into small chunks)

Add 80ml of cream or crème fraiche

Cook gently for another 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta (which should be cooked by now) and stir it into the creamy veg mix.

Serve with optional parmesan cheese


 
 
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After a false start (I was so determined to get my veg bag before supplies ran out that I was at the stall before the stall-holders!) I managed to secure my veg bag. What I got (for £4):


6 medium potatoes
4 medium onions
3 large carrots
2 enormous parnsips
6 mushrooms

Plus: half a dozen organic eggs (£1.80)






The first thing I made was a carrot and beetroot salad:

Carrot and beetroot salad (serves 4 as a side dish)

Wash and scrub the 4 beetroots. Put in a pan of cold water, put lid on, bring to the boil and simmer really gentle for about an hour. Then let the beetroot cool, peel them and chop into 1 cm dice.

Meanwhile, peel the 3 carrots and grate them (or cheat and cut them into chunks, then blast them in an electric food chopper).

Put the carrots and beetroot in a large bowl then make the dressing. Which is:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
Pepper to season

Put all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, whisk them together to amalgamate them together. Pour the dressing over the veg, add 4 tablespoons of sunflower seeds and mix well.

Chill before serving.

One portion is for lunch tomorrow and the other portions are ear-marked to go with various other dishes I've got planned for the rest of this week. Watch this space.....