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”
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.
Lavender Sugar is one of those things I’ve always looked at and loved the idea of, but never really known what to do with. I’ve always liked crystallised lavender – it’s both pretty and tasty – but aside from medicinal or household use, I’ve never really known how to actually use lavender in food. Partly due to its strong flavour and partly due to its very floral flavour, it’s something you have to use with care, but should definitely use! Making lavender sugar couldn’t really be simpler – the two ingredients are in the name, after all. If you don’t have a food processor you can just mix the two and stir, but I like making the sugar just a little finer, so it’s not so crunchy. Be careful though – I don’t like making it icing sugar either! Just a finely granulated sugar is perfect.
Leave the lavender for a week or so, allowing the flavours to infuse thoroughly into the sugar. You can make Lavender Sugar ahead as a hostess gift, Christmas gifts, wedding favours and other gifting opportunities, and even include a recipe card or two with the jar. It’s a cheap and beautiful gift to make!
Make the Lavender Sugar two weeks before you’re going to gift it, and make sure to leave instructions to use withing 9 -12 months, so aside from drying out, I can’t image the lavender would go bad!
Recipe for Lavender Sugar
- 2 tsp lavender flowers
- 1kg white sugar
- Use a fork or your hands to remove the flowers from the stalk
- Add them to the food processor
- Add the sugar and blend together - depending on your food processor, adjust your speed to make sure you don't end up with icing sugar.
- In the Thermomix®, hit the Turbo button 2 - 3 times quickly.
- Decant the sugar into jars, and seal tightly.
PIN FOR LATER:
I’ve been enjoying the summer weather lately, and been loving the entertainment opportunities that presents too. When I have guests though, I like having pre-prepared, or quick to prepare meals as I don’t like spending ages in the kitchen! That’s just one of the reasons I really enjoy this Calamari, Tomato & Basil Pasta: it’s easy to prepare before hand, leaving just 10 minutes cooking time required.
I prefer to use fresh pasta when pasta is the main part of the meal, so I’ve used fresh pasta in this recipe. Dry pasta works, but needs to be cooked for longer. It can also be served in a salad, or with quinoa or other starch of your choice.
Use a good quality squid for this recipe too – nothing worse than leathery calamari!
Now, if you want to prepare this meal for later cooking, chop the garlic cloves, wash and dry the cherry tomatoes – halve them if they are the larger variety – wash the squid, clean it and cut it into rings, and chop the basil leaves roughly. Store all the items in the fridge till about 20 minutes before you’re going to cook them, leaving it to warm to room temperature a little.
If your calamari loses a lot of liquid in the cooking, you can pour it out about before adding the cherry tomatoes.
Serve immediately – and if you’re having wine, Calamari, Tomato & Basil Pasta pairs really well with a dry white wine, like a Pinot Grigio – a wine I don’t normally like, but it works fantastically with this. Another alternative is Riesling.
- Pasta for four people
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 250g cherry tomatoes, washed and dried
- 450g squid, cleaned and cut into rings
- bunch cut basil leaves
- salt and pepper
- Prepare the pasta as per brand instructions. Set aside. (I bring 1000g water to boil in the Thermomix® - Varoma/8 mins/ speed 4 - then add the pasta in the internal steamer for 3 - 4 minutes / Varoma/speed 4)
- To a heated pan, add the oil, garlic and anchovy to a frying pan and heat till the anchovy sort of 'melts'.
- Add the squid and fry for 1 - 2 minutes, tossing them as you do.
- Next, add the cherry tomatoes and fry them for 3 - 4 minutes, till they begin to soften and leak juice - I prefer the cherry tomatoes to still have some bite to them, but it's personal choice, really!
- Test the squid to make sure it's nice and tender, then add the basil, salt and pepper.
- Serve with the pasta, or as a salad with green leaves.
For many of us, spring has thoroughly lept out of it’s winter hiding spot with a loud bang. As I sit here, my nose is red and sore from the day spent out on the allotment in the sun. As the weather has been simply beautiful the last few days, more and more people are venturing back onto the allotments, or out into the garden and one of the biggest food related questions on my time lines at the moment is this: Aside from crumble what can I make with rhubarb?.
I spent a bit of time perusing the wonderful world of Pinterest, and came up with these 30 recipes, giving everyone at least something you should have the skill, ability or taste buds for.
- Ginger Cardamom Rhubarb Compote
- Rhubarb and Blackberry Souffle
- Rhubarb Rose Dark Chocolate Parfaits
- Rhubarb and Lemon Baked Cheesecake
- Rhubarb and Custard
- Rhubarb Meringue
Crisps and Crumbles
- Apple Rhubarb Crips
- Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp (Paleo, GF & Vegan)
- Rhubarb Crisp (Low Carb & GF)
- Boozy Rhubarb and Custard Tart
- Vegan Rose Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream
- Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet
- Rhubarb and Greek Yoghurt Popsicles
- Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream
- Rhubarb Sorbet with Pistachio Brittle
- Rhubarb Marshmallows
- Rhubarb and White Chocolate Jaffa Cakes
- Lemon and Rhubarb Cookies
- Rhubarb Bars
- Rhubarb Macarons
- DIY Rhubarb Liqueur
- Rhubarb Iced Tea/Lemonade
- Vanilla Rhubarb Syrup (Mojito)
- Rhubarb Vodka
- Rhubarb Gin
- Rhubarb Wine
The weather is hot hot hot and there’s more of it to come – and there’s just a little bit of rhubarb season left, so still enough time to make this quick and very refreshing drink. It was from a
Rhubarb Iced Tea recipe, but since I don’t have much affinity for tea, I changed it to a Rhubarb Lemonade, with bought lemonade to top it up.
I normally use these Ikea Korken Bottles (pictured) but you can use any cordial bottles which I half fill with cordial and freeze (normally on it’s side) then it freezes diagonally and looks quite pretty!
Taken out of the freezer I top it with fizzy lemonade and leave it to defrost, it’s perfect on a hot and sweltering day.
- 500g Roughly chopped rhubarb
- 1000g Water
- 100g White or Brown Sugar
- Squirt of lemon juice (tbs roughly) or half a lemon
- Add the rhubarb to a pot with water. Bring to the boil, stirring for 10 minutes to prevent the rhubarb burning. Lower the heat and boil for a further 20 minutes, with the lid on.
- (I would try to keep the rhubarb in a colander if you have one that can fit inside your pot - that way you don't have to strain it after.)
- Remove the rhubarb, squeezing out any excess water. Switch off the heat and while the water is still hot, add the sugar and lemon juice and stir till dissolved.
- Set aside to cool - serve as is, or with lemonade. We like to freeze it too.
- Fill the Thermomix® jug to 1000g
- Place rhubarb in internal steamer basket. Place MC.
- The water must touch the rhubarb, but the rhubarb shouldn't touch the blades.
- Speed 10 mins /speed 4/ Varoma
- Then 20 mins /speed 4/100C
- Remove lid, then use the back of a spoon to squeeze out excess liquid.
- While still hot, add sugar - you can add more or less to taste - 100g works well for me.
- Add lemon juice and set aside to cool.
- Once cool, move to glass bottle and store in the fridge till ready to serve.
- With 1 litre Sprite: Calories: 1,738 Carbs: 454 Protein: 5 Sodium: 240 Sugar: 433
We love dandelions, and this time of year, they are plentiful. We pick them to make Dandelion Pesto and Dandelion Fritters, and I’m currently brewing my first batch of dandelion wine too. But our favourite thing to do with dandelions is to tempura them, or as my children call it ‘Dandelion Popcorn’ – little balls of fried dandelions.
A few things to note about about picking dandelions:
- Pick dandelions in full sun, so that they are wide open. In the morning and evening they will be closed.
- Cook them as soon as you can. They begin closing up as soon as they are picked, so getting them in batter quickly is preferred.
- There are little black bugs that live in dandelions, so make sure you rinse them and leave them a little while to give the bugs chance to escape.
Some tips on tempura batter:
- Different recipes call for different ingredients, obviously, but the important thing is making sure your water is as cold as possible.
- I think it works best with sparkling water, but normal water works well too – so long as it’s cold.
- Once you start dipping the dandelion heads work quickly. It’s worth having the batter in two bowls so that you can dip a batch, and have the other bowl in the freezer, then swap the bowls over before you start dipping again. The colder the batter, the less oil the dandelion takes on.
You will need:
- 85g of plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 200ml icy cold sparkling water
Wash the dandelions and leave set aside to drive so as to keep the fried batter crispy.
Add the flour, salt and sugar to a bowl.
Pour in the sparkling water and mix till just combined. If you over mix you push out all the air bubbles, but you also increase the gluten content, so don’t over mix.
(In the Thermomix®, add all the ingredients and mix 20 seconds speed 4).
Split the batter between two bowls, and leave them in the freezer or fridge.
Heat the oil. Take a bowl from the freezer. Hold the dandelion by the green part, and dip it lightly in the batter, making sure to cover everything. Drop the dandelion into the hot oil and fry for 1 – 2 minutes, till a golden brown.
Remove to a bowl with absorbent towel or draining board and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Alternatively with icing sugar and lemon juice.
Enjoy while still warm and fresh.