When spring finally emerges, I like to banish lethargy and listlessness and that’s when I start to crave the vitalising, cleansing effect of nettles. I normally have my first bowl of nettle soup in March, but I was a bit late in foraging any from our plot this year. When the day dawned bright and fair on Sunday morning, I was determined to go nettle picking – and I did.
Never mind raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, falafel are definitely one of my favourite things. They transport me straight back to the bustling streets of Alexandria in Egypt. Every street corner had its own falafel vendor who sold them fresh and hot, stuffed into pitta bread and drizzled with tahini sauce. We used to have them for breakfast as a special treat. These air fryer carrot falafel may not be the authentic recipe, but they’re delicious and are a breeze to make.
CT gets a bit sniffy about watching endless cookery programmes, although he does cave in for the Great British Bake Off. So when he’s away I take the opportunity and catch up on the odd programme. He’s been away enough over the last couple of months for me to see the entire Simply Nigella series. Her parsnip spinach soup I simply had to try.
A couple of months or so ago, I decided we needed a change from fruity smoothies for our morning breakfast. Delicious as they are, I’m more used to having something savoury at this time in the morning – it just feels right somehow.
Quinoa has been one of our staples for many years now, but we rarely have it in salad form. With the weather warming up (well we have had the odd day), thoughts turn to summer salads. What could be nicer than sitting outside on a summer’s day and eating a delicious salad for lunch or supper?
Growing up in a Cornish cottage, just outside of the village, the importance of having a well stocked larder was something drummed into me from an early age. Canned food, with its long shelf life, was ideal and I don’t ever remember a time when there wasn’t a cupboard full of tinned tomatoes. It was my job, when new ones were bought, to bring the oldest to the front and put the newest to the back to ensure the tins never passed their use by date. Tinned tomatoes have played an important role as one of my larder staples ever since, along with canned beans and coconut milk. And where would I be without a handy tin of baked beans to put in my Granny’s Shepherd’s Pie?
I’ve always been a big fan of mushrooms, I can’t help myself. When I was asked to feature a recipe for creamy garlic mushrooms on my blog, it took me a whole two seconds to decide. Mushrooms with garlic and cream is probably my favourite way to eat them.
If you haven’t heard of the baking challenge Alpha Bakes, you may have had less of a headache than I did this month. A random letter is generated each month and we have to find something to bake where a main ingredient or name begins with that letter. When it happens to be C there is no problem for me – everything I bake has chocolate in it, but when it’s something a little more obscure such as Z, it becomes difficult. This month’s letter is K. Although kiwi fruit came to mind initially and when I looked in my recipe books I found a few obscurely named recipes beginning with K, I ended up going with kale. Despite the pigeons, kale is one of the few crops we’ve managed to grow this year and having initially dismissed this as an ingredient, I decided I really wanted to use some in a bake. Once I’d decided that, it was easy. I resorted to my trusty savoury brunch muffin recipe and adapted it to suit.
If there was one crop other than lemons I wish we could grow easily in the UK, it would be avocados. I would have an orchard full of them. Not only are they buttery and delicious, but they are also quite good for you. High in potassium, the unsaturated fats are said to be healthy ones and they are relatively low in calories.
When I was sent a basket of ripe Peruvian Hass avocados, to say I was pleased was an understatement. I hadn’t known such bounty since CT and I worked on an avocado farm during our antipodean travels many years ago. We ate the fruit for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So in remembrance of times past, we cut into one almost immediately and had it spread on toast, just as we used to back on the farm when we used it as a butter substitute. Oh, how delicous. These avocados were particularly tasty with a gimme more creamy texture.
Guacamole has long been a favourite of mine and makes for a very tasty vegan dip and accompaniment to all sorts of dishes. But I also find avocados have an affinity to eggs – maybe it’s the shape. One of my favourite party dips is an egg and avocado one and as I hadn’t made this for ages, I thought it was about time it was resurrected. What better accompaniment than some homemade bread, juicy sweet homegrown tomatoes and some crisp lettuce.
The pitta pockets exhaled a chocolate fragrance on opening and were resileint enough to hold the contents. They had a soft and inviting texture and although thick were not in the least bit leathery – way better than any shop bought pitta breads I’ve had. The chocolate pitta also did a grand job of mopping up the juices of a vegetable stew. The avocado and egg dip was as delicious as I remember it. We both felt we could eat this again and again.
Cooking with Herbs over at Lavender and Lovage is all about chives this month, so although I’ve already sent one entry, I couldn’t resist sending this one too.
- 250g strong white flour
- 250g wholemeal spelt flour
- 1 scant tsp Himalayan pink rock salt
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 1 tsp golden caster sugar
- 330ml warm water
Total time: Yield: 8
- 2 large boiled eggs
- 2 large avocados – stoned and peeled
- half a small onion – finely chopped
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- a good grinding black pepper
- 4 stalks chives – snipped
Yield: 8 servings