Pumpkin and Herb Quinoa

I had a quarter of the last Uchiki Kuri pumpkin/onion squash left so I decided to roast it in chunks with a little olive oil rubbed into the skin.

Here are some Uchiki Kuri also known as Hokkaido Squash growing last year. They kept well over the winter in a cool dark place

I then cooked about a cup of quinoa. Rinse it first as it has natural saponins or soapy residue that cover the grains. I wash it in a sieve and massage it while running cold water over it.

I use the absorption method – rather like cooking basmati rice. I use 1 1/2 times the amount of boiling water to the amount of quinoa in the saucepan. Add a pinch of salt and simmer covered on a very low heat for 15 minutes or until tender and all the water’s been absorbed. I remove it from the heat and leave it for another ten minutes.

I then placed it in a serving dish and added a tablespoon each of chopped chives, basil and mint and the roasted chunks of pumpkin and folded it all in to the mixture.

 

I served it with freshly picked purple sprouting broccoli steamed until tender and then dressed with a few shakes of umeboshi vinegar (salty plum flavoured brine you can buy in most wholefood shops).

I made some crunchy croutons from some left over tofu (about 200 grammes) that I’d cubed and marinaded in a couple of tablespoons of shoyu (soya sauce or tamari), half that of mirin (sweet rice wine), an inch of grated ginger that was then squeezed for the juice, and a teaspoon or less of toasted sesame oil.

I then rolled the tofu in cornflour and gently shallow fried it in about a half an inch of very hot sunflower oil in a small frying pan – I did it in a couple of batches and then finished them off in the oven.

They were then served scattered over the PSB.

It was all served with a fresh homegrown multi leaved salad from overwintered lettuce, raddichio and claytonia (aka miner’s lettuce).

Herbed quinoa would be very nice with any vegetables tossed through it.

This served about four people.

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A friend visits

I’ve just had a lovely hour walking round the veg garden with my friend, Sue Roe.

She’s a great gardener – in fact quite an illustrious one – with a pedigree as long as your arm.

The thing is she’s so enthusiastic and kind –  her visit was really motivating at this time of year when everything seems a little lacklustre.

She has the ability to see past the frostbitten straggly veg that I’ve left (in the hope it’ll regenerate once it’s warmer and give me a second harvest during the so-called “hungry gap”).

She also seems to understand why my garden is (deliberately) untidy; in very cold frosts the loose dry fallen leaves from nearby trees and hedges quite often act as a natural protective pocket around tender leaves like radicchio, chard and shungiku chrysanthemum greens.

Red chicory
Treviso chicory

I’ve also left the dry rocket stems and seed pods in situ which I think will act in the same way until some new self sown seedlings emerge. Then I can cut the dessicated stuff back to give the babies more room.

We also looked ahead to the coming year and agreed that simple is best. This year we’re both going to hold back from sowing seeds too early.

Having said that I do have spinach and french breakfast type radish seed to sow in the next week – most probably where there are gaps under fleece that’s been covering the oriental mustard, endive, claytonia and lettuce.

Leeks and onions can be also be started off under glass or on a windowsill as can module sown beetroot (3 or 4 seeds to a small inch square).

I quite like the idea of pea shoots this year as an early crop and am toying with growing microgreens on a window sill.

My Sarpo Mira potatoes are chitting slowly – they won’t be planted out until Easter.

I’m going to desist from anything that needs “unreasonable” levels of attention like indoor tomatoes, chillies and aubergines (eggplant).

I may grow some blight resistant tomatoes (Crimson Blush or Crimson Flush) or some more Gardeners Delight which seem to do well outdoors.

The raddichio I picked as we wandered around the plot is going into tonight’s supper – a risotto with onion, celery. a dash of vermouth – topped with torn basil and lightly roasted and broken walnuts.

Today’s harvest

And the dense head of red cabbage I picked this afternoon will go to make a lovely stir fry or coleslaw type salad. Sue took the other half.

The netted black kale and the purple sprouting broccoli are in their prime and protected from the pigeons. Must remember to pick some this week or next.

I have been madly using up my Hungarian Blue and Red Kuri squash/pumpkins.

They’ve started to rot at the crown – but if you chop that away you still have lovely sweet flesh that along with celeriac and red lentils and stock make a wonderful soup.

Slices oven roasted with a little olive oil and then dusted with Japanese seven spice or shichi-mi togarashi are delicious – if you haven’t got that a mix of chilli, salt, crushed toasted sesame seeds and paprika might be nice. Dukkah’s also an option.

In other news – I’ve finally bottled up the cider!

Tastes great. Very dry and very drinkable. Hic!

And I have stuffed an sterilised old sweet jar with persimmons to make persimmon vinegar. This is in anticipation of my plan to buy a tree and grow some here in Norfolk.

The jar is filled to the top and then covered with muslin held in place with a rubber band

I’m following Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s recipe in her brilliant book that I’ve just bought in digital format to read on Kindle Cloud Reader (a first for me and it was half the price of a real book!).

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunflower Seed Cream Cheese

I hate to whinge but I’ve been suffering from really bad sciatica.

The physio thinks it’s referred pain from the lower lumbar spine.

The doctor thinks it’s bursitis or inflammation of the hip joint.

Then my acupuncturist suggested that I revert to the ‘healing’ diet I followed for a good year or two after I had breast cancer.

It’s  quite restrictive – but in the past it has worked wonders!

It was prescribed by biopath,  Gudrun Jonnson, who I used to travel to London to see.

Lots of leafy greens but no tomatoes or other nightshades (peppers, aubergines or potatoes) or citrus fruit and no bread or pasta.

And other stimulants like tea, coffee or alcohol are out.

One of the things Gudrun did leave on the list was seeds – as long as they are soaked overnight.

The seeds in the bowl are soaked for 12 hours and – as you can see – compared with the dried ones on the board they swell quite considerably

So I did that with some sunflower seeds and  drew inspiration from this recipe.

It’s called a dip but I think of it more as a cream cheese as I add chives, dill and sometime parsley which reminds me of the French cheese Boursin – that was so popular here in the 70’s!

I added chopped umeboshi plums (a salted plum from Japan) as well as lemon juice.

You can see the umeboshi plum at the back of the board behind the herbs and garlic

You could also use umeboshi plum puree or ume shu (a “vinegar” which is really the brine left over from the pickling process) – all are available in wholefood shops.

But you don’t need to use it if you want to just use the lemon juice on its own.

Anyway – feel free to follow the original or my version – either way it’s delicious.

By the way – the salad and beetroot is from the garden but the herbs in the cream cheese are bought!

Hopefully next year I can keep some going through out the winter without having to resort to the supermarket!

5 from 1 vote
Sunflower Seed Cream Cheese
Servings: 2
Author: Cath
Ingredients
  • !/2 cup sunflower seeds, covered in water, soaked,drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 whole umeboshi plums, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients, except the fresh green herbs, in a blender and grind to a smooth paste/cream.

  2. Stir in herbs and serve.

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Curried Parsnip Soup

I remember my mother making this soup from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book.

The paperback became the family bible for all things culinary along with her Fruit Book – especially when my father grew vegetables, like scorzonera and salsify, that we had no idea how to cook.

I have an old moulinex electric grinder which I keep reserved for grinding spices – you can see the book in the background

It’s a book of it’s time – first published in the late 1970’s when my sister, brother and I were really beginning to take an interest in cooking.

It’s now dog-eared and re-covered like all well used cookery books and when we come across an unfamiliar vegetable or ingredient we quite often say, “Let’s ask Jane!” Or “What’s Jane got to say about that?”

It’s as if we’re talking about a well-loved friend even though we never met her and it’s almost thirty years since she died.

Anyway, back to the vegetable itself.

I added another two parsnips after this photo was taken as I didn’t feel these were enough!

I saved seed from my parsnips a year ago but they didn’t germinate.

To make this I used some Mum bought at the local shop and had almost forgotten about; left in a sweaty plastic bag in the veg box – quelle horreur!

Having said that they’re usually easy to grow – sow them direct into shallow drill in spring when the temperatures get above 12c.  In the early stages they may need thinning – a bit like carrots.

I knew I had a photo of a parsnip somewhere! This one grown by my friend Caroline Fernandez

They’re a useful vegetable as they’ll quite often stand a hard winter and will provide for about six months of the year from autumn to the end of February.

I have adapted the original recipe which included lashings of cream and butter.

This has soya cream –which works just as well.

I hate to say it but if you’re really pushed for time you can use a tablespoon of mild curry powder instead of the faff of grinding up your own spices.

That said – I rarely do because this blend is perfect for this recipe – it really is worth the effort.

And it makes the perfect flask of soup to take to work for lunch.

Curried Parsnip Soup
Servings: 4
Author: Cath
Ingredients
  • 1 heaped tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 level tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 rounded tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, split
  • 1 very big parsnip or 2 or 3 medium ones, peeled and cut up
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or vegan margarine
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 litre veg stock (4 tsp of bouillon powder to a litre)
  • 150 ml or less soya cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley or chives to garnish
Instructions
  1. Whiz the first five ingredients up in an electric coffee mill or grinder or pestle and mortar. You may not need it all for this recipe so keep any surplus in a jar. 

  2. Cook onion, garlic and parsnip in the oil or marg on a low heat with the lid on the large saucepan for ten minutes or so. Do not allow them to colour.

  3. Stir in the flour and a tablespoon of the spice mixture and cook for two minutes stirring occasionally.

  4. Pour in most of the stock - say two thirds of it - gradually and leave to cook.

  5. When the parsnip is really tender puree in a blender or with a blender stick. and dilute to taste and right consistency with either water or more stock. 

  6. Correct the seasoning, reheat and add the cream (as much as you feel it needs, I add no more than 100ml) and scatter with herbs and serve with fresh bread or croutons.

 

 

 

 

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Spanish Inspired Pumpkin and Bean Stew

I have a new cook book called Vegan Recipes from Spain which I actually bought from a wonderful bookshop in Norwich called the Book Hive  and not through Amazon!

I bought it because it has a lot of recipes featuring veg I grow in the garden – but surprisingly it didn’t have any pumpkin or squash recipes.

I was in search of a good recipe because some of my pumpkins are going mouldy and need using!

I cut away the affected parts – mostly around the stem – and roasted the rest in thick slices with the skin on.

I then cut them up in chunks and froze them for use in soups or stews.

But I kept some back and still needed a decent recipe for lunch today for my friend Dianne.

So I made this up.

I had a good look through the Vegan Recipes from Spain book and worked out what kind of spices I might use.

Last week I made a Spanish style lentil and squash soup with roasted garlic and sweet paprika. It was good but a little bland.

So I decided to increase the amount of spices I would use in this stew.

I used about a quarter of one of the half a dozen Hungarian Blue pumpkins I grew this summer.

I love the slightly antiseptic taste of saffron which is quintessentially Spanish.

Along with the paprika it gives the stew a great depth of flavour.

I should have used my own borlotti beans which are dried and stored every year but this was all last minute and I didn’t have time to soak them.

I had a couple of tetra packs of organic white beans in the cupboard which I ended up using instead.

The bright colours lifted our mood this grey January day.

It was all I had hoped for and more!

The rest of the pumpkin is in the freezer and will be brought out when I need to make this again – maybe with the borlottis next time round.

I will grow the Hungarian Blue variety again this season.

They are so delicious – not too sweet yet not at all bland.

They also hold their shape well.

Spanish Inspired Pumpkin and Bean Stew
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
 
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Pumpkin
Servings: 6 people
Author: Cath
Ingredients
  • 750 g roasted pumpkin (skin left on)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 15 strands saffron, soaked in a little hot water
  • 2 tsps sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sharp paprika
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cans cannellini beans or other white beans (460g drained net weight)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 500 ml vegetable stock (2 tsp of bouillon powder added to hot water)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 30 or 40 whole sage leaves
Instructions
  1. Toss in a little olive oil and roast pumpkin between 40 mins and 1 hour or until soft (but not mushy). Then cut into 1 inch cubes (2.5 cm square). Place to one side for use later on

  2. Fry onion & garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan on medium to high heat until transparent and turning pale golden

  3. Add sweet and sharp paprika and stir for a minute or so

  4. Add tomatoes, drained cannellini beans, stock and saffron with its soaking water. Add cubed roasted pumpkin pieces and cook for 40 minutes on a low simmer or in the oven on a low heat

  5. Season to taste with salt 

  6. Rub a little olive oil into sage leaves and either fry (it doesn't take long on the top of the stove) or roast in oven until crispy - about 5 to 10 minutes 

  7. Add chopped parsley to the stew and stir in then top with sage and serve with basmati rice or couscous or cooked bulghur wheat

 

 

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