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Root Soup

6 Dec

Roots are one of the staples of a winter garden and December is the month of roots in the soup. Use as many tasty roots as you can and the flavour will be all the better for it. This is hardly a recipe just a way of making the most delicious winter soup.
Serves 2-4 (2 huge portions or 4 normal size soup bowls).

  • knob of butter
  • a generous pinch of cracked black pepper
  • a generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 litre jug full of chopped root vegetables
  • stock or water to cover well
  • 1/2 tsp paella spice mix or a pinch of saffron
  • 1-2 leeks washed and chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 bayleaves
  • Herbs pick a good aromatic herb as the signature flavour I’ve use fresh fennel but you could use; parsley, dill or tarragon.
  • Handful of pasta shapes (optional)
  • some creme fraiche to finish (optional)
Sweat an onion, finely chopped, in a little butter season with salt and pepper. While the onion is sweating. Scrub the roots, peel if necessary, and chop into bite size pieces. I used parsnip, carrot, turnip, celeriac, radish and florence fennel but you could also use skirret, salsify, scorzonera, hamburg parsley, jerusalem artichokes or beetroot. When the onion is softened add the root veg, stir to coat and sweat for just a couple of minutes then add the stock, leeks, potatoes, saffron or paella mix. Cover and cook for 10 minutes then add the  and herbs and pasta, if using, cover and cook for a further 7 minutes. Serve with a splodge of créme fråche stirred in.
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Salted Radish Preserves

15 Oct

Salted radishes are commonly found in East Asian cuisine and would normally be made with mooli, the long tapering white root also called chinese radish, but it can also be made with French breakfast radishes, white turnip, black winter radish or regular red radishes. Serve as a side pickle, as an appetiser or use as an ingredient in soups or noodle dishes such as Pad Thai

*Radishes
*Salt

Quick Salted Pickle
Simply wash (peel if necessary) and remove the top leaves. Slice the roots thinly put into a bowl and sprinkle with salt, toss with your hands to coat and leave to mature for an hour or two for a quick salted radish or 1 – 4 days for more robust flavour. It will keep well for a couple of weeks in the fridge. I haven’t experimented yet with preserving for longer as we tend to eat the salted radishes too quickly but the process would be the same as for other lactic preserves.


Lactic Fermented
Prepare the radishes as above and on the 4th day, once the initial salting is over, pack into sterilised jars, cover with a brine solution (1 tbsp of salt per litre of spring water brought to the boil and left to cool) and seal. Store in a cool dark place and will be ready to eat in about 1 month.

Lactic Fermentation II 
Wash the radishes and slice lengthwise into chunks. Pack into a sterilised jar, weight down with a clean stone and cover with brine (2 tbsp of salt to 1 litre of spring water brought to the boil then cooled). Seal the jar and keep in a cool dark place for 1 month when it will be ready to start eating. Remove small amounts from the jar and top up with brine if necessary to keep the radishes covered.

Variations If serving as an appetiser with drinks, sprinkle with a little rice vinegar or other sour agent such as lemon or lime juice, verjus, or cider vinegar before serving on the end of a cocktail stick.

Turnip Kimchi

30 Sep

Fantastically hot Korean inspired quick pickle of white turnips or radishes. I was hoping to harvest some Mooli later this autumn but the wild pigs got to it before I did.  I’ve had this dish fixed in my mind and still wanted to make it so I bought some white radishes or mooli in the market yesterday. Kimchee is most commonly made with Chinese Cabbage and is, some say, the national dish of Korea. I find treating white turnips or radish in a similar way makes quite a delicious quick pickle.

  • White turnip or radish
  • Salt
  • chilli powder
  • grated ginger
  • crushed garlic
  • garlic chives

Wash and peel the radishes/turnips then cut into small batons. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of salt per 300g of vegetable and mix well. Loosely cover and leave to steep overnight. The next day rinse to remove excess salt and make up the hot paste to taste stir into the turnips and leave to mature for a few more hours before serving. Keeps well for a week or two in the fridge.

Note I make my own chilli powder using a blend of some very hot, medium hot and some mildly spicy peppers to get my preferred heat level.

Grated Carrot Salads

23 Sep
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Carrots are a really underrated vegetable, the dense sweet roots are packed full of vitamins and nutrients, they are available almost all year round and they are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. Once grated carrots become something quite special and make the most wonderful salads and sides. Here are just a few of the grated carrot salads I really like. I’ve given measurements here but really these are just an indication and it is best to add the spices and flavours to suit your own taste and the carrots you use.

Garlic and Oil
This salad dish is so simple and so delicious that you just can’t stop eating it. Our neighbour, Claudie, made this for us, with carrots from her garden, and we’ve been eating it ever since. As with all the recipes following simply mix all the ingredients together and serve.
bowl of grated carrots
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar or lemon juice

Orange and Cumin
This salad has a north African influence and is a perfect mezze dish.
bowl of grated carrots
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 tsp salt
grated zest of half and orange
juice of half and orange
1/2 tsp crushed cumin seed

Coriander and Lime
This salad uses Thai flavourings to make a zesty bright salad bowl of grated carrots
fresh coriander leaf, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp lime juice
pinch of home made chilli powder to taste
1 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce or both
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar

Indian Spiced
Wonderful served as a spicy side salad with other Indian foods.
bowl of grated carrots
2 green chillis, thinly sliced into rings
generous pinch of salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds, ground
1 tbsp mustard oil or chilli oil
1 tsp lemon juice

Chilli and Garlic
Hot and spicy this is more of a relish than a salad serve in small portions on the side.
bowl of grated carrots
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp home made chilli powder
juice of half a lemon
generous pinch of salt

    Beef & Vegetable Hotpot

    1 Feb
    This is real winter comfort food and a throw back to my 1970’s childhood. Hotpot was a favourite dish in our house, with us kids fighting over the crispiest bits of potato stuck around the pot. This version uses minced beef and our winter vegetables. The meat and vegetables are first gently fried then laid in a pot with gravy and a thick topping of thinly sliced potatoes. The potatoes act as a lid and are both steamed and roasted as they cook on top of the lovely stew mixture. There are no real measurements for this dish, just use what you have available. I like a lot of vegetables so the ratio is about 3:1 of vegetables to meat.

    Prep 20min Cook 45-60min

    • Lean beef, minced
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • I onion, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, crushed
    • leek
    • carrots
    • white turnip, peeled and chopped
    • 3 peeled and chopped tomatoes (tinned ones are fine)
    • Potatoes, thinly sliced
    • 2 bayleaves
    • 1 stock cube or gravy salt (this is a 70’s dish)
    • 1/2 tsp cornflour mixed with a little water
    • salt and cracked black pepper to taste

    Turn on the oven and pre-heat to 180c. Prepare the vegetables. Fry the onion in oil then add the mince stir and cook until the mince is browned. Add the garlic and leeks and stir fry for a few minutes then add the remaining vegetables except the potatoes. Meanwhile dissolve the stock cube in hot water and add the cornflour mix give it a stir. Put the meat and vegetable mixture into an oven dish, poke the bayleaves into the mixture and pour over the liquid, enough to just cover the vegetables, check the seasoning. Lay the potatoes in several, overlapping layers, to cover the whole dish. Push down gently so that some of the stock bubbles up over the potatoes, Add a little more liquid if necessary so that the potatoes have liquid around them but not fully covering. Cover tightly and bake for 30 minutes remove the cover and bake for another 15-30minutes until the potatoes on top are crisp. Serve with lightly steamed sprouting broccoli or another green vegetable.

    Variations: use any winter vegetable you like such as parsnip, root parsley, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes etc you could even use frozen broad beans or peas. I prefer to leave out any green vegetables and serve those lightly cooked on the side.
    1/2/2007: