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”
I’m on a bit of a Magnolia Flower binge at the moment – it’s understandable, they’re only buds for a short time and our weather is so changeable right now, you’ve got to ‘gather your
rosebuds magnolias while you may’! Today’s foodie choice is magnolia flower pickle, which means we can enjoy them well into the year.
There are many different types of magnolia trees, and while all magnolias are considered edible, not all of them have been tested, so people can be a bit weary of trying newer species. The most common edible magnolias are Magnolia coco, grandiflora, enudata, mhypoleuca, kobus, liliflora, mexicana, pterocarpa, and oulangeana. Continue reading “Magnolia Flower Pickle”
Despite being someone who has never been a huge fan of Indian food, I’m a total convert to this biriyani. Just sitting here writing up this recipe, my mouth is watering and I’m wondering where I could pick up more fresh beetroot on my travels today. I’m sure the family won’t mind eating the same thing again either!
Cook time is quite long because the beetroot needs to be roasted first, and then rice has to boil, but the hands’ on time is pretty quick, so you have time to be doing other things in between too. Like prepare the sautéed beet greens to have on the side.
It’s a great ‘everyone tuck in meal’ and it turned out to be one of those where the pots were scraped clean!
This is a brilliant recipe – quite possibly my favourite beetroot or biriyani recipe – but if you need more beetroot recipes, click here!
- 500g raw beetroot, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- seeds from 4 cardamom pods
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 250g basmati rice
- 500ml veg stock
- 100ml plain or Greek yogurt
- small bunch of coriander or parsley
- Mango chutney (to serve) (optional)
- Sautéed beet greens (to serve)
- Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Drizzle oil over the beetroot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then tip into a roasting dish and cook for 25-30 mins or until tender.
- While the beetroot is cooking, heat the remaining oil in a deep frying pan (or a wok) with a lid.
- Fry the onion over a medium heat until golden.
- Add the ginger and half the garlic, and cook for 1 min.
- Stir through the bay, cardamom seeds, turmeric and garam masala, then cook for 2 mins.
- Stir in the rice and beetroot.
- Pour in the stock and place a fitting lid on the pot
- Boil for 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye on to make sure it doesn't dry out or burn to the bottom of the pan.
- Put the remaining garlic in a food processor and whizz, then add the yoghurt till it's well blended. Set aside.
- Remove rice from heat and stir through.
- Season to taste and serve.
Beetroot rosettes are pretty to look at and fantastic to taste. The flavours of goats cheese and red onion blend perfectly to make something that feels like cafe food, but is pretty quick and simple. If you’re doing it as a starter there’s plenty of time to be prepping your main in between. It’s simple, easy food and I love it. Continue reading “Beetroot, Red Onion and Goats Cheese Rosettes”
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.