I love Alexanders – smyrnium olusatrum. They are one of my favourite spring foragables. Driving around the countryside here on the Isle of Wight they suddenly pop up, lining the streets of parts of the Island from early March. We use the thin stems for a sautéed snack or side, the thicker stems for candying, make a syrup for drinks and cocktails, eat the florets steamed like you would broccoli, or pickled in vinegar. Later in the year we collect the seeds to use with pepper too. I know people use the roots and leaves too, but we haven’t gone that far yet. Continue reading “Candied Alexander Stems”
Magnolia flowers…. we’ve been eating a lot of them lately, between Magnolia Flower Pickle and Chocolate Dipped Magnolia Flowers and this amazing Magnolia Flower Drizzle. We’re two weeks into official spring and we’ve already finished off two of these beauties!
I’m always really excited when I find a fig tree – like something in me forgets that I live in England now, and I’ve yet to pick a ripe fig from a tree – even here in the very South of England.
Fortunately a South African friend of mine invited me round to her house last year, and out of her cupboard she brought a jar of green fig preserve, reminding me how, back home, we used to deal with the figs before the birds could get to them.
This is one of many recipes – in reading up on it, I realise that it’s also something the Turkish do, so who knows how it made it’s way into the South African diet – to me it’s definitely a South African staple, so here’s the recipe, should you too have access to a big fig tree that never bears fruit. You’ll never look back.
Two things: it’s a bit fiddly to get the figs to the point of ready, but well worth the effort. Also, I don’t tend to add the spices in the boil. I add them to jars when they’re ready to be bottled up – this means I might have a fig and cardamom, a fig and cinnamon or a fig and clove, slightly different flavours, which keeps it fun and exciting.
Sometimes the figs we find are really big – too big to fit into gifting or ‘single portion’ (aka, enough for one meal) jars. If that’s the case, halve or quarter the figs before adding them to the sugar syrup. It doesn’t look as pretty in the jar, but in reality, when you pull them out to eat on your crackers you would rarely eat a whole one on a single cracker anyway.
- 1kg unripe figs
- 1kg sugar
- 1.250 ml (also 1.25kg!) water
- Spices (cloves, cinnamon stick or cardamom all work well)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Bring a pot of water to boil - just enough to cover the figs. Add the figs and boil for ten minutes. Empty out and refill the pot, bringing the figs to boil and boiling for another ten minutes. This is important, as it's what makes them lose the bitter/unripe taste.
- Drain and leave to cool.
- Once cool enough to touch, squeeze the figs - there may may be some white liquid that drains out. If there's still a lot of white juice, boil again for ten more minutes, then squeeze again. It seems fiddly, but is well worth it!
- In a clean pot, bring the 1.250ml water to boil and add sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the squeezed figs. They will resume their original shape during this process, unless of course, you've cut them.
- Add the spices of choice* and boil figs in the sugar syrup for about 25 minutes. Add the lemon juice and boil 5 minutes more.
- Pour into sterilised jars, making sure the syrup covers the figs. *I tend to leave out the spices in the previous step and add different spices into the jars at this point so that I have different spice varieties. Close while hot to create a vacuum seal.
- Keep in a cool dark place, and transfer to the fridge once opened as it's actually best cold, served with goats cheese and parma ham - or just goats cheese if you're veggie.
I love our Thermomix® fudge recipe and it’s something we make often in varying ways. We make a jelly bean fudge and a glace cherry one and even a TimTam fudge and a bunch of others too, so I decided today to try it with Creme Eggs and well, it’s crazy sweet, but it’s delicious and the kids love our Creme Egg Fudge.
The nice thing about this fudge is that with the creme eggs melting into the fudge it flavours the fudge so you’re not having fudge with creme eggs, you’re actually having creme egg flavoured fudge. It’s yummo!
If you can’t get mini eggs for the decoration, put two eggs in the fridge (you want the yolk to be more solid). Put the thermomix on speed 5 then drop the egg through the open lid. (Quickly cover it again so it doesn’t fly all around the kitchen and hit you in the face!) Chop for 5 seconds or so as you want large chunks, not fine chocolate dust!)
Enjoy and happy Easter!
- 1 can condensed milk
- 250g white sugar
- 25g golden syrup
- 125g butter
- 200g cadbury's eggs (5 eggs) + 2 eggs or 89g bag of mini eggs for decoration
- Add condensed milk, sugar, syrup and butter to the Thermomix® bowl.
- Cook without MC at 100C speed 3 for 8 mins.
- Scrape down sides if needed, then cook Veroma, 20 mins speed 3 still without MC.
- Add whole chocolage eggs and mix on speed 3, reverse blades for 20 seconds.
- Working quickly, pour the mixture into a brownie tray. Wait two to three minutes for the mixture to cool down a little (otherwise the mini chocolate eggs will just melt into it) then split the mini eggs in halves and press them into the fudge. (Alternatively smash two large eggs roughly and then push the parts into the fudge)
- Refrigerate for 3 -4 hours, cut and store in the fridge in an airtight container.
It’s almost Halloween and while the rest of the world have been having parties and trick or treating, we’ve been so busy I’ve not even thought about it too much. This evening though we did breakfast for dinner, of a sort, with sausages, eggs and potato wedges, and I decided to make them a little Halloween-ish. So here’s a quick recipe for Monster Eggs to bring some Halloween into your day with little to no effort.
Fortunately, I happened to have edible ink and edible eyes on hand (That’s normal, right?!) so it was easy to do. If you don’t have those, you could use mayonnaise and olives for the eyes, or even mayonnaise and a sprig of greenery for eye slits.
For this recipe you will need:
- 4 peeled and boiled eggs (14 minutes in the Thermomix® internal steamer/Varoma)
- 50g spinach
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt to taste
Cut the eggs in half, then scoop the yolks out
Combine the yolks, spinach, mayo and paprika in a food processor and blend till it’s a smooth mix (2 mins, speed 4 in the Thermomix®)
If you have edible ink, draw eyelashes on the egg white
Scoop spoonfuls back into the egg whites and top with the ‘eye balls’
Sprinkle salt to taste
These will keep for a few hours in the fridge if you’re making them for later
Follow this link for more Halloween recipes
Temperatures are dropping and the days are becoming shorter, so for us, it means the slow cooker has come out of the dark depths of the cupboard. We’re trying out a variety of savoury dishes for Halloween, a season not normally known for its savoury foods, but I want to have some options available, at least!
For this recipe, I’ve used yellow peppers. I didn’t realise until I was cleaning them out that one of the peppers only had two humps on the apex, rather than three, which meant it couldn’t stand on its own. Undeterred, I just cut a small layer off, not so much that the bottom of the pepper was opened up – just enough to make it stand up straight.
Cutting faces in a pepper is a whole lot easier than it is on a pumpkin. Simply use a sharp knife and carefully pop the cutout parts out.
You can use any filling you like, really. I’ve used a chicken and tomato one. If you want to stretch this meal, add some rice or couscous to the pepper. Alternatively, serve each pepper on a bed of rice. I didn’t bother in this particular meal.
Once stuffed, I felt the peppers could use a bit of help to stand out a little, so I used a finger to pop some homemade tomato sauce into the eyes and mouths of the peppers.
I love the way the chicken and tomato looks a bit like brains, topping off the Halloween face. It’s simple, and quite effortless and very tasty!
Slow Cooked Chicken and Tomato Stuffed Peppers Recipe
- 500g skinless, boneless chicken
- 1 tin of tomatoes
- 30ml (2tbs) dark soy sauce
- 15ml (1tbs) balsamic vinegar
- 5ml (1tsp) dried or fresh chopped rosemary
- 5ml (1tsp) salt
- 5 fresh tomatoes
- 4 yellow peppers
- For Halloween Faces, you'll also need a little tomato sauce
- Serve with rice or other grain if you are so inclined.
- Turn a slow cooker on low for 6 hours
- Add chicken, canned tomatoes, soy sauce, vinegar, rosemary and salt , put the lid in place.
- With an hour to go, add the fresh tomatoes
- With 30 minutes to go, remove the lid so the sauce can thicken a little
- After six hours, cut the top off the peppers and remove the seeds. (If you're making Halloween faces, do that now too)
- Stuff the pepper, and using a clean spoon or finger, fill the eyes and mouth with tomato sauce.
Find more Halloween recipes here