Pesto pancake and tomato layer (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Pesto pancake and tomato layer. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. What a mixed bag of weather there has been here since my last post. Plenty of rain to restore the water supplies with thundery downpours and a few sunny days here and there. The garden has bucked up again and the green grass has been restored.

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Homegrown orange tomatoes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My recipe post this week gives a little nod towards the change of month and season. The greenhouse tomatoes are ripening now. I planted only 3 plants this year, but I am enjoying a steady supply to eat in salads. The variety is called Golden Zlatava, orange on the outside with reddish flesh inside. Whilst I haven’t grown enough for cooking this year, there are plenty of delicious locally grown tomatoes around, like these fantastic small plum tomatoes, which are perfect for sauce-making.

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Fresh plum tomatoes. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The greenhouse basil really enjoyed the hot weather we had last month and has grown very bushy and bold. I love the flowers as well. Plenty of leaves to make one of my most favourite savoury sauces, pesto, which seems to be the best way to preserve the flavour of the herb once it has been frozen.

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Greenhouse basil. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

There are 2 main components to the recipe this week: making the pancakes and making a tomato sauce. Both elements freeze well in case you want to make the recipe in stages. I made pesto in a previous post, so if you fancy having a go at that as well, here’s the link to the recipe Runner bean and pesto fritters (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Tomato sauce

  • 1kg fresh tomatoes, washed and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • A selection of fresh herbs such as sage, bay, marjoram and oregano
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp caster sugar
  • 100g drained sundried tomatoes in oil, blotted on kitchen paper
  • Salt to taste

Pesto pancakes

  • 110g tapioca flour
  • 110g gram (chickpea or garbanzo) flour
  • 6g gluten-free baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 65g fresh vegan pesto
  • 250ml plant-based milk (I used oat milk)
  • 160ml chickpea canning liquid (or other aqua fava)
  • Vegetable oil for brushing

1. First make the sauce. Put the tomatoes in a large pan with a lid and add the garlic and herbs. Heat until steaming, then cover, and simmer gently for about 45 minutes until very tender. Turn off the heat and leave to cool with the lid on.

2. Discard the herbs. Push the tomatoes and garlic through a nylon sieve, in batches, to remove the skins and seeds. Depending on the juiciness of your tomatoes, you should end up with around 700ml pulp.

3. Pour the pulp into a clean pan. Add the oil and sugar, heat gently, stirring, until boiling, then simmer for about 20 minutes until thickened and reduced to about 300ml. Leave to cool.

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Homemade plum tomato sauce preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Put the sundried tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth, then stir into the cold tomato sauce. Taste and season. Cover and chill until ready to use.

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Adding sundried tomato paste. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. For the pancakes, put the flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the pesto, and gradually blend in the milk to make a smooth batter.

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Making the pesto batter. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. In another bowl, whisk the chickpea water until very thick and foamy, then gently mix into the batter to make a bubbly mixture.

7. Brush a small frying pan (15-16cm base diameter) lightly with oil and heat until hot. Spoon in 4-5tbsp batter, tilting the pan to cover the base with batter. Cook over a medium/low heat for 2-3 minutes until set and bubbles appear on top. Flip over and cook for a further 2 minutes until cooked through.

8. Layer the cooked pancake on a sheet of baking parchment on a wire rack, and cover while you make another 7 pancakes. Stack the pancakes on top of each other, between sheets of parchment to help keep them from drying out. If you are making the pancakes in advance, leave them to cool, then wrap them well and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

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Cooking the pancakes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Pesto pancake stack. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

9. To assemble, spread a pancake with cold tomato sauce, almost to the edge of the pancake. Transfer to a lined baking tray and continue the spreading and layering with the remaining sauce and pancakes. If you have leftover sauce, keep it to serve with the pancakes.

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Layering before baking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

10. Cover the pancake stack with foil and place in a preheated oven at 190°C, 170°C fan oven, gas 5. Heat through in the oven for about 45 minutes. Best served warm. Top with fresh chopped tomato and fresh basil to serve and accompany with wild rocket and any leftover tomato sauce.

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Tomato-filled pesto pancake layers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all for this post. See you all again soon. Thanks for stopping by. Best wishes 🙂

Sticky rice rolls (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Vegan sticky rice rolls. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I’ve been wanting to have a go at making my own sushi-style sticky rice rolls for some time, but have never quite got round to it. But having the right combination of ingredients at last, I have finally been able to experiment, and I am very pleased with the results. Sushi Master I am not, but hopefully good enough to tempt you into giving my easy recipe and method a try.

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Rainbow rice rolls. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The basic “must-have” ingredients are sheets of dried seaweed called Sushi Nori – I used 19 x 21cm sheets made by Clearspring. They have a rougher-textured side and a shiny side. Shiny side faces down when you make up the rolls. The sheets are dry and fairly crisp until you put the rice and filling on them, and then they soften and form a tasty edible wrapping for the rolls.

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Dried nori seaweed sheets. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For the filling, you need sushi rice or sticky rice. This is a short-grain variety which is very starchy so when it is cooked it clumps together. You can use other grains but they probably won’t cling together enough for neat slicing. I should imagine that Chinese glutinous rice and Arborio rice might also work but you’d need to do some experimenting with cooking times to make sure they don’t overcook and become mushy.

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Sushi rice in the raw. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

How you season the freshly cooked rice is up to personal taste. I do like the traditional subtle Japanese flavours of mirin and white rice vinegar. I also added a little sesame oil for some nuttiness, and of course a little salt and sugar for classic seasoning.

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Seasonings for sticky rice. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

And finally, the filling. This needs to be thinly sliced and quite flexible for easy rolling. The key to a good roll is not to overfill it and to keep the covering nice and even. I went for thin ribbons of vegetables which I prepared with a vegetable peeler. Grated vegetables would also work in a thin layer. Other things to try could be a sprinkling of toasted seeds; some thinly sliced or grated smoked tofu, or mashed avocado.

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Rainbow carrots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Makes: 12

Ingredients

  • 125g raw sushi rice
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp white rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 sheets sushi nori
  • A few thin strips of rainbow carrots and cucumber (approx. 22 carrot and 8 cucumber)
  • Dipping sauce to serve – I mixed sesame oil with mirin, a little salt and sugar and freshly chopped chives
  1. First prepare the rice. Rinse the rice several times in cold water. Drain and put in a saucepan with 200ml cold water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

2. Mix together the mirin, vinegar, sugar, oil and salt. Stir into the rice and leave to cool.

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Sticky rice preparation and cooking. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Lay a piece of parchment just bigger than the nori sheet on a dry silicone mat or chopping board. Lay the nori, shiny-side down, on top and spoon over half the rice.

4. Carefully spread the rice over the seaweed, leaving 1cm clear at one end and at both sides. At the other end, leave a 2cm gap where the roll will finish. Make sure that the rice is evenly spread and flattened.

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Ready to roll. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Lay the filling neatly on top. Using the parchment to help you, begin rolling from the near edge, keeping the filling in place with your fingers. Roll firmly without pressing to avoid squashing the filling. Once rolled, wrap the parchment around the roll completely and chill for at least an hour before slicing. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make up another roll.

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Sticky rice roll filling and rolling. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. When ready to serve, unwrap the rolls and discard the parchment. Slice off any overhanging vegetables from each end to neaten, then ussing a sharp knife, cut each roll into 6 slices.

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Rolled rolls before and after trimming. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Your sticky rice rolls are now ready to serve. I arranged mine on a serving platter with the dipping sauce in the middle. I cut out some flower shapes from thin carrot slices and added a few chives to garnish.

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Rice roll sliced in half. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I love the colours of the rainbow carrot and cucumber combination, very cheery for the soul, healthy and delicious to eat on a spring day for or a picnic.

That’s me for another month. Until next time, take care and keep safe.

Cauliflower greens with creamy wild garlic sauce (Gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Cauliflower greens with creamy, wild garlic sauce. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It really does feel like spring has sprung. This week, I have been out picking my first wild garlic of the season from the banks of the River Earn here in Perthshire. And what better way to use this wonderful natural freebie, than a thrifty recipe idea which helps you reduce food waste as well. If you are out picking wild garlic over the next few weeks, only pick 1 or 2 leaves from well established plants, and only in an area where there are plenty of plants growing.

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New season Scottish wild garlic. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Since I realised how delicious cauliflower greens are, I have been choosing the vegetable untrimmed and with as much foliage as possible. The leaves often look a bit wilted and sad, but after popping them in a bowl of cold water, they plump up again in no time. Rinse and drain, and then they are ready to use just like spring greens or cabbage.

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Reviving cauliflower leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

My recipe this week is based around the greenery and stalks of the cauliflower, so you can use the creamy curds for something else. If you want some inspiration, here are some links to other cauliflower recipe posts on my blog: Soy-braised cauliflower (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan) and Cauliflower – the king of winter vegetables – 3 recipe ideas (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Preparing cauliflower stalks and leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Once you have revived the cauliflower greens, slice or rip the leafy part from the stalks. Trim the stalks and get rid of any damaged bits, then chop finely. Shred up the leaves and set aside. I ended up with 270g leaves and stalks from one smallish cauliflower.

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Washing and prepping wild garlic leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Always wash wild garlic very well in plenty of cold water. Drain and shake dry – I find my salad spinner useful for this. Trim and shred the leaves for immediate use, or put whole washed leaves in a food bag or sealable container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

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Celery and leek for extra flavour. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The other ingredients for the base of the sauce are some chopped celery stalks – you can see that this one had been in the bottom of my fridge for a while ! (By the way, I ate the celery leaves in a salad) Once trimmed and chopped, I had about 90g celery stalks. I also sliced up a large leek.

Here’s the very simple recipe method to make enough sauce for 3-4 portions:

  1. Melt 25g plant butter with 1tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil until bubbling, then add the chopped cauliflower stems, celery and leek; season with salt and ground black pepper and stir for 1 minute until well mixed. Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes to soften
  2. Mix in the cauliflower leaves, re-cover and cook gently for 5 more minutes.
  3. Finally, add about 40g chopped wild garlic leaves and 150ml plant-based double cream – add more if you want a looser consistency. Stir over a low heat for 3-4 minutes until wilted down, then cover, turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
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This 6 stages of sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Creamy greens ready to serve. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

And that’s it. A delicious green sauce for serving over pasta or rice, or as an accompaniment to griddled cauliflower steaks or roast cauliflower florets. If you don’t have access to wild garlic, add a couple of crushed garlic cloves to the sauce base at the beginning.

Until next time, enjoy Spring, happy foraging, and take care 🙂

Aubergine (egg plant) in spicy tomato sauce (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Aubergine in spicy tomato sauce with green chilli sprinkle. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

With a nod to the widely adopted new name for the first month of the year, Veganuary, I have for you this week a tasty, warming and comforting dish which fits the season very well. Aubergine (egg plant) is one of my favourite vegetables and I especially like eating it in a garlicky tomato or curried sauce. In this recipe, I combine these two flavours in one sauce to make a dish that can be served as a main meal or as a side to go with other spicy foods. It’s tasty cold as a salad as well.

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Up close on spiced aubergine (egg plant). Image: Kathryn Hawkins

November seems like a long time ago now, but that is when I harvested my homegrown aubergines (egg plants). I grew the variety Slim Jim in my greenhouse; just a couple of plants as a trial. They got off to a slow start but by the autumn both plants were doing well, and produced several small and neat, very pretty, lilac-coloured fruits.

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Home-grown Slim Jim aubergines (egg plant). Images: Kathryn Hawkins

You can use any variety of aubergine for this recipe. I always salt before cooking, regardless of variety. I find that drawing out some of the water before cooking helps to soften it so that it cooks to a melting tenderness. By the way, replace the mushrooms with more aubergine if you prefer. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

Serves: 2 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 1tsp each of cumin and coriander seeds
  • ½tsp ground fenugreek
  • ¼tsp ground black pepper
  • 5tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1tsp freshly grated root ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g tomatoes, canned or fresh, chopped
  • 2tbsp tomato purée
  • Salt
  • 250g aubergines (egg plant), chopped or sliced
  • 200g brown (chestnut) mushrooms, wiped and quartered
  • 1tsp black onion seeds
  • Chopped green chilli and fresh mango to serve

1. Toast the spice seeds lightly in a small hot, dry frying pan for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. Cool, then grind finely with the fenugreek and black pepper.

2. Heat 2tbsp oil in a frying pan and stir fry the onion, garlic, ginger and spices with the bay leaf for 1-2 minutes, then cover with a lid and cook gently for 20 minutes until soft.

3. Add the tomatoes, purée and a pinch of salt, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 15 minutes until soft. Leave aside.

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Preparing spiced tomato sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Meanwhile, stand a colander or strainer on a plate or over a bowl. Layer the aubergine, sprinkling generously with salt as you go, and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse very well, then pat dry with kitchen paper.

5. Heat 2tbsp oil in a frying pan until hot and stir fry the aubergine pieces for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Drain on kitchen paper. Heat the remaining oil and cook the mushrooms in the same way. Drain.

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Preparing aubergine (egg plant). Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Add the vegetables to the spiced tomato sauce, mix well and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until tender and cooked through. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with black onion seeds then cover and stand for 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.

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Cooking the vegetables in the sauce. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped green chilli and accompanied with fresh mango. Delicious over rice or with naan breads with a sprinkling of roasted cashew nuts for crunch.

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A spicy feast. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all from me this week. I’ll be back towards the end of the month with something suitably Scottish to celebrate Burns Night. Until then, best wishes and keep safe.

Sweet and sour red cabbage (naturally gluten-free and vegan)

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Sweet and sour red cabbage. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello there. I hope you are well and enjoying Autumn. With the days getting shorter and the temperature dropping a few degrees here in the UK, my thoughts have turned to comfort food. There are some deliciously leafy seasonal vegetables around just now which make an ideal accompaniment to an autumnal stew or roast. I have a tasty red cabbage dish to share with you this week which is perfect for batch cooking as it freezes very well.

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Fresh red cabbage. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Most often, I braise red cabbage slowly with fresh apple or pear and some vinegar, sugar and cinnamon, but to ring the changes this time I have used a different combination of sweet and sour flavours.

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Sweet and sour flavours: sumac, raspberry vinegar, barberries and plum cheese. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

For the sour flavours, I used sumac powder with its tart astringent flavour, reminiscent of lemon juice; dried barberries, another tartly flavoured ingredient which add a sharp tang to the dish (chopped dried unsweetened cranberries would also work), and homemade raspberry vinegar. For sweetness, I added some of the plum cheese I made about a month ago – Plum, sloe and apple cheese (naturally gluten-free and vegan) or you can use plum jam if you prefer. To add a splash of sparkle, juiciness and texture, I sprinkled over one of my favourite ingredients, fresh pomegranate seeds, to finish. All in all, a delicious flavour combination which tastes as good as it looks. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • ½ red cabbage
  • 1 large red onion
  • 25g plant butter
  • 2tbsp raspberry vinegar (or balsamic if you prefer)
  • 2tbsp plum cheese or jam (or redcurrant jelly works well)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1tbsp dried barberries (or finely chopped unsweetened cranberries
  • Sumac to taste
  • Pomegranate seeds to sprinkle

1. Cut out the cabbage stump, then finely shred or slice the remainder of the cabbage. If you slice everything finely, you can use up the tougher stems of the cabbage as well. I ended up with about 400g prepared cabbage. Peel and thinly slice the onion.

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Red cabbage and onion preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Melt the plant butter in a large deep frying pan or saucepan and gently fry the cabbage and onion, stirring, for about 5 minutes until well coated in the butter.

3. Add the vinegar, plum cheese or jam and plenty of seasoning. Mix well, lower the heat, then cover and simmer gently for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender. Stir in the barberries and sumac to taste. Turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

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Cooking sweet and sour red cabbage. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. To serve, spoon into a warm serving dish and sprinkle the top with extra sumac and pomegranate seeds if liked.

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Red cabbage close-up. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a glorious day here in central Scotland today. Perfect weather for enjoying the autumnal colours. I hope you have a good few days until my next post. All the best for now 🙂

Seasonal vegetable salad (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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My homegrown seasonal vegetable salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again everyone. I hope you are keeping well and enjoying the summer. I’ve had a busy few days at work and in the garden. Everything is growing fast after several days of fine weather. The garden and greenhouse have reached “peak vegetable” with runner beans, courgettes, cucumbers and carrots all ready at the same time. It seemed a fitting choice for my post this week to make up a recipe using this selection of delicious homegrown vegetables.

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Full of fresh flavours, warm vegetable salad. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This year, I have runner beans growing in 3 large pots this year in the garden; courgettes in the greenhouse along with a couple of mini cucumber plants, and deep containers of carrots which I’m pleased to say are thriving.

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Barrel-grown Scarlet Emperor runner beans. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Ridged courgettes. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Mini Munch cucumbers, July 2021. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Container-grown Purple Sun carrots. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My salad this week is very simple. A selection of griddled vegetables mixed in a piquant caper and olive dressing served with fresh cucumber and a sprinkle of chopped carrot tops. Serve it warm or allow it to go cold. Enjoy it as a light meal with crusty bread or serve it as a main dish with freshly cooked grains. Sprinkle with toasted seeds or chopped roasted nuts for extra crunch. Lovely fresh flavours and a real taste of summer. Here’s the recipe.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 225g runner beans
  • 325g small to medium-sized carrots
  • Salt
  • 1 large courgette
  • Vegetable oil for brushing griddle pan
  • 1 mini cucumber, sliced
  • 1 or 2 fresh carrot tops, washed and chopped (or use chopped parsley or coriander)

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used cold pressed rapeseed oil)
  • 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp capers in brine, drained and chopped
  • Handful of pitted green olives, chopped

1. Peel the sides of the runner beans to remove any strings, and remove the stalk end. Cut into lengths about 6cm long. Peel and trim the carrots, cut in half or in pieces, making sure all the slices are about the same thickness.

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Runner bean and purple carrot preparations. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Cook the beans in lightly salted boiling water for barely 2 minutes, to soften slightly, then drain, cool and pat dry. Cook the carrots the same way for 3-5 minutes depending on thickness. Drain, cool and pat dry. Slice the courgette into even thickness pieces.

3. Brush a griddle pan with a little oil and heat until very hot then arrange the vegetables in batches in a single layer on top. I use a potato masher to press the vegetables on to the griddle in order to achieve a good colour. Turn the vegetables over using tongs. The beans will take 1-2 minutes on each side, the carrots and courgettes 2-3 minutes. Brush the griddle with more oil as necessary. Arrange the cooked vegetables in a heatproof dish, cover and keep warm while you make the dressing.

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Griddling veg. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

4. Heat the oil in a small saucepan and stir fry the shallot and garlic for 2-3 minutes, then cover with the lid and cook gently for 5 minutes to soften. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour the warm dressing over the vegetables and mix well. Leave to stand for 10 minutes if serving warm or leave to cool completely.

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Dressing the griddled vegetables. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Pile the vegetables on to a serving platter and scatter with cucumber and carrot tops. Serve warm or cold with extra white balsamic vinegar.

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Seasonal salad close-up. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Until my next post, I wish you fine weather and good health. I hope to see you again in a couple of weeks.

Steamed sesame buns (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Gluten-free sesame steamed buns. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. I hope you are well. I’ve had a busy few days since my last post and been “enjoying” some unseasonal British summer weather (!) which has meant more time indoors that I would usually have at this time of year. No matter, I have a delicious recipe for you this week, and one which I have been working on for a while. I hope you will be tempted to give it a try. The texture of the buns is light, soft and chewy and has a slight sweetness as well as a savoury nuttiness from adding sesame oil and topping with seeds.

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Steamed sesame bun texture. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This is one of the easiest gluten-free bread doughs to make and cook. The buns are very versatile and can be filled with anything you fancy – sweet or savoury. Leave the sesame oil and seeds out if you prefer – just replace the oil with your favourite vegetable oil instead. Enjoy them for a light lunch or supper, but eat them warm or hot as the fluffy, chewy texture is lost once the buns cool, although they can be quickly reheated in the microwave or steamer.

Makes: 4

Ingredients

  • 75g cornflour
  • 50g tapioca flour
  • 50g white rice flour
  • 50g glutinous rice flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 ½ tsp sunflower oil
  • 125ml + 1 tbsp plant-based milk, slightly warm
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds or combination of white and black seeds

To serve:

  • Teriyaki asparagus and sprouting broccoli, rainbow salad and sesame mayonnaise – see below

1. Put the flours in a bowl and mix in the salt, sugar and baking powder until well blended. Mix in the yeast thoroughly.

2. Make a well in the centre and add the oils and gradually mix in 125ml milk to form a soft, but not sticky, ball of dough.

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Basic steamed bun dough ingredients. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Turn on to the work top and knead gently until smooth then put back in the bowl, cover with cling film or a clean, damp tea-towel and put in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours until well risen.

4. Divide into 4 equal pieces and shape each into a smooth, approx. 7cm round.

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Shaping the dough. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. Cut a cross in the centre of each, about ½cm deep. Brush lightly with remaining milk and sprinkle the tops with seeds. Place on a lined tray, cover lightly with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for about 40 minutes until risen.

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Finishing touches before steaming. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. Meanwhile, preheat your steamer or bring a saucepan of water to the boil and place a steaming compartment on top. Line the steamer with baking parchment or edible rice paper. Add the buns, cover and steam for about 25 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. The outside will be a little sticky Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes to firm up and dry before slicing with a serrated knife to fill. Best served warm.

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Cooking the buns. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The filling I chose for these buns was thin asparagus and sprouting broccoli stems stir fried in a little oil for about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat, add 1 tbsp gluten-free teriyaki sauce or soy sauce, cover and stand for 5 minutes.

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Asparagus and sprouting broccoli flavoured with teriyaki. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I also made a rainbow salad using my latest kitchen gadget which shreds vegetables into fine ribbon slices, but you can grate the vegetables just as easily. I combined carrot, radish and cucumber and added a few chopped home-grown chives.

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Rainbow salad vegetables. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

And, for a finishing touch, I flavoured readymade vegan mayonnaise with a few drops of sesame oil and some teriyaki sauce. Perfect 🙂

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Dressed and ready for eating. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week. Until my next post, take care and keep safe.

Baked spiced golden carrots (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Spiced golden carrots with carrot top and coriander dressing. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello there. It’s another “golden” post from me this week, all be it a recipe-led one rather than one from my garden. To be honest, I had intended this to be a “rainbow carrot” feature but Mother Nature stepped in and things turned out a little different to what I was expecting. Let me explain.

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Rainbow carrot seeds. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Back in September last year, I decided to experiment by sowing some carrots seeds as a late crop. All being well, I should end up with baby carrots in the early winter. I chose a rainbow mix, and planted them in 2 trench-style containers in the (unheated) greenhouse. I was delighted when they started growing, but as the daylight hours dwindled, and the temperature cooled, the seedlings, unsurprisingly, stopped growing.

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From December 2020 through to April and June 2021, overwintering carrots. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I decided to leave them alone and allowed them to overwinter in the same spot in the greenhouse. Nothing much happened until the weather warmed up in March this year when the seedlings started growing again. By April they were thriving so I put the pots outside. With the benefit of hindsight, the carrots were probably ready for pulling about a month ago, but nevertheless, this month, I finally enjoyed a bunch of homegrown carrots with fine flavour, all be they with a distinct lack of rainbow 🙂

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Golden carrot harvest. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Only white and yellow carrots grew, although there was one orange one which didn’t quite make the grade for this recipe. It had split and grown in a very strange shape, much like a crossed pair of legs. It went in a salad instead and tasted delicious.

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One wee wonky carrot. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

On with the carrot recipe which uses up all parts of the vegetable. I peeled the carrots because they were a little hairy, but ideally homegrown carrots are best left unpeeled. I also wanted an excuse to make crispy carrot peelings which I love. I used some of the carrot tops in a dressing and the rest I am working my way through as a sprinkling over salads and soups. I keep them in a jug of water in the fridge; they last for several days if you change the water regularly. If you have carrots without the tops, you can make the dressing with all coriander instead. Give all parts of the carrot a good wash to remove grit, dust and soil from the ground.

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Carrot preparation. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

  • 350g carrots, washed and peeled if preferred (don’t forget to keep the peelings!)
  • 1 tsp each coriander and cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup + a little extra if you are going to cook the peelings
  • 4 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil (I chose this for the nutty flavour and golden colour, but any vegetable oil is fine) + a little extra for cooking the peelings
  • Sea salt
  • 15g carrot top leaves, washed (use the leafy fronds rather than the stalks which can be tough) + a few extra for garnish
  • 15g coriander leaves, washed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground fenugreek (use a mild curry powder if this is unavailable)

1. Preheat oven to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6. If the carrots are different sizes, cut them into even sized pieces. My carrots were about 10cm long, and I simply cut them in half. Put in a roasting tin and sprinkle with half the toasted seeds.

2. Mix the maple syrup and 1 tbsp oil together and toss into the carrots. Season with salt, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

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Toasting and grinding spices for baking carrots with maple syrup and rapeseed oil. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. Remove the foil, mix the carrots in the pan juices and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, this time uncovered, until tender and lightly golden.

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Baked carrots straight out of the oven. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

4. While the carrots are cooking, make the dressing. Put the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and with the remaining toasted seeds and oil, and blitz until well blended. Season with salt to taste. Cover and leave at room temperature for the best flavour.

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Making carrot top and coriander dressing. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

5. If you want to cook the peelings, mix them with a drizzle of maple syrup and oil, then spread them out on a baking tray, season and bake for 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

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Roasting carrot peelings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

6. To serve, drain the carrots and arrange on a warm serving plate. Sprinkle with chopped carrot tops and serve with the dressing and crispy peelings.

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Carrots with dressing and crispy sprinkles. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I have chosen to grow a purple variety of carrot this year, and the first seedlings are quite well advanced already. If all goes to plan you may well see another carrot-led post from me in a few weeks.

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Carrot top and coriander dressing. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I hope you have a good few days ahead. Until my next post, take care and keep safe 🙂

May’s finest: asparagus, purple sprouting broccoli, Jersey Royals and some of my favourite (rain-soaked) flowers

Hello again everyone. I hope you are keeping well. We have been suffering another down-turn in the weather since my last post. Very unseasonal hail storms, winds and heavy rain. It’s been chilly too. The lack of heat has helped keep some of the spring flowers going but delayed later ones like the bluebells, and some of the trees are still bare.

I have been busy with work since my last post and haven’t been able to spend much time in the kitchen. The poor weather has put pay to spending much time out of doors. However, May is my favourite month of the year and I have been eating some fine seasonal produce. And today, I ventured out into the garden to take a few images of some of the best May flowers.

When vegetables taste as good as this selection, I rarely do anything adventurous with them. The asparagus and broccoli get trimmed, brushed with oil and lightly seasoned, then roasted on a tray for a few minutes in a hot oven. As for Jersey Royals, I just steam or boil them and eat them dressed with seasoned oil or a dot or 2 of plant-butter. Simple but delicious.

Most of my flowery images are a little bit rain-soaked this month. The tulips started flowering early this year and many have been out for 3 or 4 weeks. With the heaviness of the downpours, some have started growing horizontally.

This beautiful purple tulip was actually filling up with water as I took the photo.

There are now bluebells in the garden, but the lack of sun is slowing down the opening of the flower-heads, and the rain is holding back the scent in the air which is something I love about this time of year. The forecast for the week ahead is for more of the same, so it may be a while before I am able to enjoy their sweet heady fragrance.

More blue flowers. The forget-me-nots are growing in abundance in one of the raised beds and provide quite a carpet of blue until other flowers take over. I spotted the first Centaurea or Mountain Cornflower in bloom today. These robust, thistle-like, flowers will continue multiplying and flowering well into the autumn. They are a great value garden plant and their vivid blue colour is very striking in the borders.

Usually in my May garden posts I am able to share pictures of abundantly flowering vivid pink and red Azaleas, but at the moment they remain stubbornly in bud. The scarlet rhododendron has come into flower this last week and is putting on a lovely display. It sits next to one of my favourite rhododendrons in the garden, a rich, candy-pink variety. Sadly the frost caught the other side of this mature shrub. These blooms are on the sheltered side and thankfully remain untouched.

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Red and candy-pink rhododendrons. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s all for now. I’m off to start practicing my sun-dance which I hope I can perfect in order to drive the rain away for a while 🙂 Until next time, take care and keep safe.

Soy-braised cauliflower (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

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Soy-braised cauliflower. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. Here we are half-way through another month, and here I am not knowing where the time has gone since my last post. I hope you had a good Easter holiday. We had some glorious weather over the Easter weekend, but subsequently, we have had a return to winter with sub-zero temperatures at night, along with snow and hail showers. The fruit blossom had just started to open, and then along came Mr Jack Frost. I think I have managed to save the most delicate blooms, but sadly the rhododendrons got scorched.

With the weather being a little on the chilly side, I have been back in the kitchen cooking up some more heart-warming food. This week I’d like to share with you a very simple cauliflower dish, but it’s a tasty one and it uses up just about every part that this magnificent vegetable has to offer.

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The mighty cauliflower. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You can adapt the recipe to suit how much cauliflower you have to cook. I had used half of this one in another recipe where just the curds were required, and was left with the other half plus all the leaves and stalks. There is plenty of room for adding your own flavourings to my simple mix of soy sauce, oil and maple syrup, so if you fancy something more spicy or herby, feel free to make your own additions.

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Reviving cauliflower leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Sometimes when you buy a cauliflower, the outer leaves can look a bit sad and wilted, but I have found that if you soak them in a bowl of cold water, it is quite possible to revive them and make them fresh enough to cook. Discard anything that is too damaged or brown, but the other leaves should perk up quite nicely after a good bath. After soaking, simply drain them and shake off the excess water.

Here’s the rest of the recipe.

Serves: 2 to 4 as a main or side

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower (approx. 300g curds plus leaves)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Fresh coriander to serve

1. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower. Slice out the stalks and put the leafy bits to one side along with the curds. Cut the stalks into small pieces and place in a roasting tin. Peel and slice the onion, and peel and chop the garlic. Mix into the stalks.

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Preparing cauliflower leaves and stalks ready for braising. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

2. Mix the soy sauce, oil and syrup together and toss into the vegetables. Cover with foil and put in a cold oven. Set the thermostat to 200°C, 180°C fan oven, gas 6 and cook for 35 minutes.

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Cooking cauliflower stalks with soy and maple sauces. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

3. While the stalks are cooking, prepare the curds. Break them into even-sized florets, and cut any larger ones in half. Discard the stump. After 35 minutes cooking time, mix the leaves into the stalk mixture along with 3 tbsp water. Sit the curds on top and brush lightly with sesame oil. Cover the tin with foil again and bake for a further 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes, until tender.

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Adding the curds and leaves. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Soy-braised cauliflower curds, leaves and stalks. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

For an extra finishing touch and fresh flavour, sprinkle the cauliflower with fresh coriander.

I hope you have a good few days until my next post. As always, take care and keep safe 🙂