Recipe: Fried Sprouts with Sage & Pomegranate

We developed this recipe for our Winter Solstice Supper Club and so many of our guests asked for the recipe I thought I should pop it up on the blog. This is perfect as a side of greens with your Christmas dinner but it also makes a great stand-alone lunch on top of a slice of toast. I love greens on toast!

If you are a sprout lover you will love this, but I think it will convert sprout-dodgers too, as because of the quick cooking you don’t get the ‘sulphurous’ smells and flavours or boiled brussels! If you are making for Christmas dinner you can slice all the greens and garlic the day before if you need to and store in a tupperware in the fridge so you have minimum prep to do on the day. The dish only takes about 5 minutes to cook, so make it just before you serve everything else.

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Recipe: Mince Pie Babka

I am a massive fan of mince pies! I am all here for the boozy, sugary, dried fruit of Christmas time. This babka makes a very festive and extremely delicious alternative to mince pies and because it is a ‘bread’ you could definitely get away with having it for breakfast! A babka is an enriched, yeasted bread dough which is rolled out and then spread with a filling, before being rolled back up and twisted into a loaf. It was developed by the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe; traditional fillings include chocolate, poppy seeds and cinnamon. I’ve used a mix of butter and mincemeat.

I make my own mincemeat but you could buy some, though I always think if you buy it then it’s worth stirring a couple of tablespoons of extra brandy/whiskey/tipple of choice into the jar. If you make it then there are lots of good recipes online, don’t be afraid to substitute in different dried fruit depending on what you have in the cupboard or what you like to eat. I really like including dried figs.

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Recpie: Apple, Rye & Rosemary Cake

I’ve been experimenting lots with using different flours in my sweet bakes this year, it adds a bit of goodness to cakes and lots of additional flavour. In this recipe the rye flour and the olive oil give the cake a nutty, almost spicy flavour and the apple keeps everything moist. otherwise I find bundt cakes can sometimes end up a bit dry as there is much cake to relatively little icing.

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Potstickers, polyculture & panther-spotting – The books that made us think in 2021

There aren’t many things I like more than reading – maybe cooking… probably eating!

When I lived in London and commuted to and from work, I’d routinely get through a couple of books a week. It’s much less now that I have small children and no longer use public transport, but I still manage to carve out a bit of time to read everyday. I read a lot of fiction – but this isn’t a list of my favourite novels of 2021. Instead it’s the books that Jo and I read this year that helped us see the world a little bit differently – the ones that opened our eyes to hidden worlds, helped us understand a topic better or offered a vision for a better world.

Unsurprisingly, considering our interests, they are mostly related to food, growing, nature and the planet.

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Recipe: Beetroot & Feta Salad with pink Pickled Onions

In our opinion there are few better ways to eat beetroot than roasted whole in their skins with a bit of oil and salt. If the beetroots aren’t too old and if you make sure to roast them in a dish with a tight fitting lid the skins should slip off easily. Then chop them into chunks and they are the perfect addition to wintry salads (though to be honest we eat them all year round). If you can’t be bothered to roast your own beets, then pre-cooked beetroot can be used here, though I do think roasted beets have a better flavour.

This salad has a nod to Mexico with toasted pumpkin seeds, pink onions and queso fresco (we’ve used feta here). It’s great alongside spicy bean dishes, slow roasted meats or as a side to a chilli, which was how we served in at our Oktoberfest Supper Club in September.

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Recipe: Chilled Beetroot Soup

Inspired by Polish chlodnik, I made this chilled beetroot soup for one of our Twilight Gardening dinners this summer. It was surprisingly popular, I often think chilled soups can be a bit divisive – but that might be because Jo is always a bit suspicious when I suggest a chilled soup. The colour is so gorgeously pink and the earthy beets are balanced out with the tangy buttermilk and little sweetness from the date syrup. If you don’t have date syrup in the cupboard you can use a little honey instead.

The garnishes are everything here – boiled egg wedges, sliced radish, cubed cucumber and plenty of herbs – a little slick of sour cream or yoghurt dolloped on top before serving wouldn’t go amiss either

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Recipe: Mushroom Larb-style Salad with Toasted Rice, Lime & Chilli

Larb (or laap) is a Laotian dish traditionally made with minced meat (either raw or cooked) mixed with lots of chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, herbs, ground toasted rice and other aromatics. It is often very, very spicy and was one of our favourite dishes to eat with a side of sticky rice when we were travelling in Northern Thailand and Laos. Somehow I find eating really spicy food in tropical climes makes you feel cooler, especially if you have a cold beer to sip alongside.

This is our vegetarian version of the dish, using mushrooms instead of meat and replacing the fish sauce with soy. We developed this recipe for our Return to Asia Supper Club and served it as a side alongside Laotian Festival BBQed Chicken, Hue-Style Aubergine, Spicy Carrot Som Tam-style Salad and Sticky Rice. But it would definitely make a great veggie main course served with rice.

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Preserving for the Apocalypse: How to Make Chuntey, Ketchup, Sauerkraut & Jam

I was asked by Adam at Seedhead Arts if I wanted to do a talk for this year’s Out To Lunch festival (part of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival). He suggested ‘Preserving for the Apocalypse’ might be an amusing and timely title. With over-buying during the early (and some of the later) stages of lockdown and Brexit bumps (or almighty earthquakes) causing custom hold ups it definitely feels like an appropriate time to rediscover some of the forgotten skills of food preservation.  I can’t promise you will be able to live off jam and chutney should the apocalypse actually come – but a really good jar of chutney might make those bugs we’ll be eating a bit more palatable!

You can watch the video I made for the talk, where I show you how to make all the recipes, on You Tube here.

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