I can’t begin to tell you how many versions of this stir fry I have made over the years. This particular chard and kohlrabi stir fry was a combination of leftover veg from the veg box and a few items I had in the cupboards. It’s really a recipe where you can change pretty much any of the ingredients to suit what you have. Using a mix of different vegetables, sauces and meat (or veggie mince or tofu) means you get something completely different every time. This particular marriage of kohlrabi and chard works really well.
If you’re sat there looking at your kohlrabi wondering why on earth you’ve been sent a vegetable that has tentacles, fear not. I’ve been getting an organic veg box for years and I wanted to share some of my favourite vegetable box recipes. Sometimes you can end up with a vegetable you’ve never cooked with before so hopefully you can find a recipe for almost everything here! In this post I’ll take you through the contents of my most recent veg box and how I used everything up.
There are several things which tell me autumn has arrived. I suddenly find that I am wearing my wellies more than previously, apples and pears have appeared in the fruit bowl again, I’m having porridge for breakfast and the wood burner comes alive. Then I notice that the leaves have turned orange and are falling from the trees, there’s a bit more rain than before and I really fancy a roast dinner. I wanted to share some of my favourite autumn recipes with you. I love cooking during autumn; there are so many colours around to enjoy, woody herbs get popped into pots and pans and there’s always the inevitable squash or pumpkin.
During the autumn season in my kitchen you’ll find fruit crumbles hot from the oven and smothered in thick cream, hearty pasta bakes which bubble over the edge of the dish, a batch of sloe gin on the go in the back of the cupboard and all manner of combinations of vegetables roasting in the oven.
You can’t go wrong with an Autumn Vegetable Minestrone. Whichever vegetables you happen to have in your fridge can be added to this hearty soup which is so full of flavour. Adding both pasta and beans means this minestrone is really filling too.
If you’ve not tried making Sloe Gin before then maybe this year is the year! You can wait until the first frost, or you can pick early and freeze the sloes at home before you start infusing those beautiful purple berries with gin and sugar. A glass of sloe gin by a roaring fire when your warming your feet up after a soggy walk; there’s nothing better.
Staying in on a rainy day and getting something on the hob to blip away in the background is what my Proper Ragu is all about. The longer you cook it, the more intense the flavours become and it’s fantastic served with pasta, used for lasagne or other pasta bakes. It takes some time but it’s so worth it.
Similar to the sloe gin above you can also try making some Quince Gin. It is a really beautiful colour once it’s done and doesn’t take as long to infused as sloe gin. A really delicate and fanitly tropical flavour there’s nothing quite like it and it means you can mix up my Lime, Thyme & Quince Gin Cocktail too!
Autumn is such a great time for baking and I find myself craving some rather chocolatey things. My Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake Brownies are a real indulgence and perfect with a big cup of tea on a drizzly weekend. If you’re a fan of a Millionaire’s slice (I have to say, my biscuit/bake of choice whenever I’m out) then this Millionaire’s Tart is worth a try, complete with salted chocolate ganache.
Venison comes into season in the autumn months and knobbly celeriac starts appearing at the markets. They are delicious as seasonal ingredients served together in Celeriac Remoulade, Venison and Sourdough Open Sandwiches.
This year the blackberries have been out for a little while and there are still plenty more to pick. I absolutely love using wild blackberries, they have such a delicious sweet flavour which is far nicer than those you can buy in the supermarket. Whether you fancy trying a Blackberry and Pear Pavlova, my Baked Blackberry Cheesecake or some Blackberry and Perry Jelly get your hands on the berries fresh from the hedges.
I don’t mind a butternut squash, but I’m not the biggest fan of them. Mixed with delicious spices and turned into a soup it results in something bright and vibrant which I do actually quite enjoy eating! You can try my Curried Squash Soup with Toasted Spice Pumpkin Seeds and see for yourself!
There are so many varieties of apples and pears I love finding new ones to try. I love baked apples, they are so simple to make and my recipe for Baked Apples with Salted Toffee Sauce is really straightforward and tastes so good! Poached Pears are also a favourite of mine and even better if you can find some elderberry wine to poach them in!
This is the time of year to get out and forage for some wild ingredients, including blackberries! If you can find some cobnuts, also called wild hazelnuts, then you could have a go at making my Wild Hazelnut Brittle. Keep an eye out for elderberries too as they make fantastic
Elderberry and Apple Turnovers
The elderflowers are here and it is the best time of year. If I was more of a poet I’d have come up with a second line to go with that. I’ve been shoving elderflowers into various different things for years: cordial, gin, crumble and sugar to name a few. I wanted to try something a little different, and a bit less time consuming this time round, to get that wonderful elderflower fragrance down my neck as soon as I could. A celebration of late spring flavours my Elderflower, Cucumber and Mint Fizz is just the ticket for a sunny afternoon.
You will need (for two glasses):
- ½ cucumber, grated
- 1 lime
- 3 heads of elderflower
- Small handful mint leaves
- Sparkling water
If you can pick your elderflowers on a sunny morning it is said to be better for flavour. Having picked in all manner of different weather I can confirm that sunny mornings are actually better; they certainly smell more intense anyway.
I leave my elderflower heads on my draining board when I have picked them to allow time and opportunity for any bugs to escape (it’s next to the window so they can go back to where they came from). I then follow this with a good shake outside to get rid of any others that are clinging on.
Squeeze the grated cucumber into a small lidded container to collect the juice. The leftover grated cucumber is excellent for making a raita.
Squeeze the juice from the lime into the cucumber juice. Bash the mint leaves up a little, either in a pestle and mortar or just whack them with a rolling pin, and add these to the cucumber juice too.
Pick the elderflower flowers from the heads, leaving as many stalks behind as possible, and add these to the container. Put the lid on and give everything a good shake. I prefer shaking it as I feel this more violent approach helps to release more oils and flavour.
Leave to infuse for an hour.
Strain the cucumber juice into two glasses and top up with sparkling water. Decorate each glass with a little mint leaf if you’re feeling suave.
This would be really rather delicious if topped up with some Cava or added to a gin and tonic. On its own it is so refreshing and has all the flavours of an English summer; I really like it with sparkling water, or just tonic, sat outside with a good book. It looks so delicate but don’t let that fool you, the cooling cucumber, sharp lime, refreshing mint and elegant elderflower all come through so well. If you are thinking of heading out to pick some elderflowers, check out my beginner’s guide to wild food!
Meals that are made from a few simple ingredients are invariably some of my favourite dishes of all. A quick scramble around the cupboards and fridge pulling ingredients and ideas together always feels more satisfying; like you’re getting a meal for nothing. My evening meals are always planned in advance so it’s lunchtime where I get my Ready Steady Cook hat on. Sometimes however the scrabbling approach doesn’t yield any particularly tasty sounding results; ham and chocolate spread tostadas anyone? This time however, the combination of ingredients I had resulted in Wild Garlic and Crispy Fried Salami Potato Salad and it was brilliant.
You will need (for two):
- 400g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- Handful green beans, topped and tailed, halved
- Small handful wild garlic
- 12 slices Italian salami (I used finocchiona which has fennel in), roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Juice 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
Start by putting the potatoes into a large pan of salted water. Bring the pan to the boil and cook the potatoes until they are cooked through, cooking time depends on how big you have chopped them. If you have a steamer add the green beans to the steamer over the potatoes for the last few minutes of cooking, or boil separately for a few minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking put the wild garlic (after a thorough rinse) into a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt. Bash everything up together well until you have a thick paste then add the olive oil, a pinch of pepper and the lemon juice.
Get a frying pan on a medium/high heat and add the salami. Dry fry until crispy, plenty of oil will come out of the salami.
Drain the potatoes when they are cooked (and the green beans if you have cooked them separately) and mix with the beans, salami and wild garlic oil.
The grassy and faint garlic whiff from the wild garlic is so good with the slightly fatty salami. The fennel in the salami works really well but any salami would be delicious; it’s a different flavour to something like bacon. The potato breaks down after it’s cooked so the wild garlic oil nestles in the little nooks and crannies and turns everything a wonderful green. The beans add a little freshness and the lemon finishes it off with its zesty acidity. A meal as good as this from a few leftover ingredients and a bit of a rummage in the hedgerows; perfection. Something else equally as potato filled and garlicky are my wild garlic gnocchi if you fancy trying something veggie!!
If you want to have a go foraging for wild food, take a look at my beginner’s guide.
I live in a village and on first appearances it has all the qualities of somewhere straight out of Call The Midwife. Actually living there is quite different; people don’t know each others names, good luck trying to get them to take your bins in for you and there’s so much material competition it’s like a car forecourt out there. Of course there are exceptions; one of which is the white house on the corner. They have a Bramley apple tree and although (this year especially) they don’t get many apples from it they always put a box of windfalls outside their gate for people to take. I helped myself to one of their apples and set about making some Bramley apple and nut flapjacks.
You will need (for 8 big flapjacks):
- 200g butter
- 175g light muscovado sugar
- 70g golden syrup
- 70g honey
- 350g rolled oats
- 1 Bramley apple, grated
- 75g mixed nuts, roughly chopped
Melt the butter, sugar, syrup and honey together in a large pan over a low heat. Make sure it’s all mixed together well.
Add the oats, apple and nuts to the butter mix and stir together to ensure everything is coated in the butter and syrup.
Preheat an oven to 160C. Tip the flapjack mix into a tin.
Note – I used a round, silicone ‘tin’ so I didn’t need to grease it but if you’re using a metal one you might want to lightly grease it before adding the flapjack mix. The larger the tin you use, the crunchier the finished flapjack so choose your tin on your flapjack preference!
Bake the flapjack for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and mark into pieces. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.
Originally I wanted to make these flapjacks with cobnuts (wild hazelnuts) but there don’t seem to be many around this year, or the squirrels have got to them all. If you do have some of your own I think they’d be fantastic added to this mix. These flapjacks are perfect at this time of year; they are so autumnal I couldn’t imagine making them in any other month. The Bramley apple adds a little bit of sharpness and a slight cakey texture and the mixed nuts bring a delicious crunch; the ones on the top get lovely and toasted during baking too. If you don’t have a village supply of Bramleys to help yourself to, there are plenty of wild apples around at the moment which would certainly be worth a try.
I thought I knew my local area pretty well, thought I’d trodden all its paths and roads and could take you to all the best places. Turns out I was wrong as a spontaneous left turn took me to all sorts of corners of Hampshire that I didn’t even know were there. We were planning on doing a bit of local exploring but hadn’t set our expectations too high as we were so convinced we’d already seen it all; we were amazed at all the new places we went and what we saw. I thoroughly advise you should all undertake an adventure right on your doorstep.
In an effort to appreciate the little things, indeed, those things which are a stone’s throw away from my home I packed up a picnic and headed out on foot for an adventure. The OH and I accidentally ended up walking a total of 16 miles but we were so distracted by the ever changing backdrop that we didn’t really notice. A few things of particular note were:
A sleepy little wood mouse came out right across our path. Considering they’re normally nocturnal I would never have expected to see one, let alone get so close to it.
I love cheesecake. This recipe for mini cheesecake mess is a great way of using up almost anything sweet you’ve got hanging around and, if I do say so myself, look pretty cute too. A lovely little sweet treat for lunch or after dinner. Have you ever tried to make cheesecake (or cream cheese icing) with low fat soft cheese? It never seems to work for me and just ends up all runny and no good at all. I thought I’d give it a try with some Laughing Cow Extra Light to see if that would work, and use up some leftover festive food in the cupboards, and I was so pleased with how they turned out!
You will need (for 16 mini cheesecake messes):
- 280g (two packs) Laughing Cow Extra Light Cheese
- 30g icing sugar
- 100g digestive (or other) biscuits
The leftover ingredients I used were:
- Chocolate – a grating
- 2 tbsp raisins, 2 tbsp sloe gin
- 1 apple, a large knob of butter, 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Take the cheese out of its wrappers and put into a bowl. Sift the icing sugar in and give it all a quick mix. Crush up the digestives then stir these into the cheese mix. Divide between sixteen mini cases then pop into the fridge for half an hour or so.
While the mix is in the fridge you can get the toppings ready.
Take the raisins and put them in a small dish, add the sloe gin (or brandy, port etc.) and leave to soak. For the apple topping, dice the apple up then place in a small pan with the butter. Fry gently for 3-4 minutes until softened then the sugar and let the apples caramelised. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Remove the cheesecakes from the fridge and divide the toppings between them. Simply grate the chocolate over a few.
These are such a good way to use up a few leftover chocolates from the box you never finished, a dribble of liqueur (you could also use tea if you wanted to), a couple of biscuits and whatever else you have. I think the best of the three (they were all rather tasty) was the caramelised apple one: cheesecake and caramel are so good together as are apple and the tang from the cheese, this one is definitely worth a go. The chocolate one is certainly the easiest and this topping, along with the soaked raisins, means they are then no-cook cheesecakes. I love it when a recipe falls together like this that is both delicious and makes the most of what you already have.
This is a sponsored post and I was reimbursed for my time and ingredients. All opinions and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support me.n.
I have been so busy this year that I have run out of time to make my own sloe gin. It’s not the end of the world though as I have some of last year’s stash left and once that’s gone there are some delicious ready steeped and drained sloe gins around. As much as I enjoy a classic sloe gin and tonic there’s much enjoyment to be had mixing up something different.
You will need:
- 50ml sloe gin (I used last year’s batch of sloe gin),
- 10 basil leaves,
- 1 tsp brown sugar,
- Soda water to top up,
- Ice cubes
Add the basil and brown sugar to a cocktail shaker or big glass. Use a muddler (or the end of a rolling pin if you don’t have one) to bash the basil and sugar together.
Pour the gin in with the basil and add several ice cubes to the shaker. Give everything a good shake (or stir if you’re using a glass) then strain the gin into another glass and top up with the soda water.
If you fancy giving some of the other festive cocktails a try on thebar you can find plenty of recipes here.
The combination of basil with the sharp, sweet sloe gin and the slight caramel flavour with the brown sugar was divine and a really nice alternative from the mint that you would normally use in a mojito. The joy of this particular cocktail is that if you want to make a virgin one, just use some blackcurrant cordial instead of the sloe gin (only 25ml though as it’s much sweeter) and it’s so good! As I’ve got some mint in the garden and occasionally buy basil I can see this slojito making a few appearances in my kitchen using either herb. An ideal long drink to sip snuggled up on the sofa with a good film when it’s cold outside.
This is a sponsored post with Diageo and I was reimbursed for my time and ingredients. All opinions and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support me.
This is only my second pavlova. To me, meringue has always been steeped in mystery and wonder and I found it slightly intimidating. Crispy on the outside, gooey in the middle; is this all really achievable with just two ingredients? Well yes, turns out it is. My two attempts I couldn’t have been more pleased with; previously a summer berry version and this time my Blackberry and Pear Pavlova (which also happens to be all organic) and the pudding portion of my #thriftyorganic challenge.
You will need (all ingredients organic):
- 3 egg whites,
- 150g caster sugar,
- 1 pear, diced,
- 1 punnet blackberries (not organic, they’d run out!),
- 2 tbsp water,
- ½ tbsp caster sugar,
- 150ml double cream,
- vanilla extract (not organic)
Whip the egg whites (in a mixer, with an electric hand whisk or by hand if you’re feeling strong) until soft peaks form. Then continue whisking adding the sugar (150g) a little at a time until glossy stiff peaks form.
Preheat the oven to 140C and spread the meringue onto some greaseproof paper in a rough circle. To keep the fruit and cream contained when you assemble it all later it can be useful to make the meringue slightly bowl like in shape so it’s slightly higher at the edges.
Place in the oven for an hour then turn the oven off and leave the meringue in for a further hour. Remove and leave to cool.
While the meringue is cooking put the pear, blackberries, remaining sugar and water in a pan and cook gently until most of the water has evaporated (some will come out of the fruit) and it’s all glossy. Leave to cool.
Once the meringue is cooled whip the cream with the vanilla extract until thick then spread on top of the meringue.
Top with the fruit and serve.
Using organic sugar (which is golden) gives the meringue a lovely toasted light brown colour which I really like. I don’t add sugar to the cream as the vanilla extract adds a little bit and the meringue is sweet enough; the fruit is a fantastic purple colour and adds a nice bit of tart freshness. I think pavlova is a great dinner party dessert as it’s sweet without being too heavy and I think it looks good but you’ve put in minimal effort: win!