Ready Steady Cook

This week’s veg box: potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, leeks, curly kale.

It’s the day before my next veg box delivery and I’m staring at 1kg Valor potatoes, 5 carrots, 3 leeks and a couple of sprouting onions from the week before and wondering what’s for supper. I’ve also brought to the table a large red chilli (not organic from Tesco) and a couple of pork and apple sausages from the Riverford organic meat consignment¬† I ordered in for Easter weekend. I feel the need for meat and some heat.

Outside the temperature’s dropped and rain is spitting (bring it on otherwise the water shortage here in Hampshire will get worse, and my newly sown broad beans from Jim will not grow big and strong). The rest of the bed is reserved for the veg plants due tomorrow in a box to grow from Riverford.

A quick recap on what happened to all the other veg rations this week:

A big bag of bushy curly kale turned into a Grecian Greens Pie wrapped in filo pastry, otherwise known as Spanakopitta which provided supper for two and enough leftovers for two lunches. Turns out curly kale is a really good stand-in for spinach in this recipe.

The one legged veg, i.e. cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms gave themselves up to a stir fry lunch then went on to provide two cold lunches after getting mixed up with quinoa and excited by a little bit of chilli jam on the side.

That’s eight meals provided for out of a possible fourteen over the week including dinner tonight: grilled sausages and potatoes with red chillies and saute leeks. The unclaimed carrots and onion will roll over into next week’s vegetable lottery.

I’ll cook all 1 kg of the Valour potatoes and they will valiantly re-appear in Chocolate Potato Cake because Easter is coming (more on that later) and in Smoked Salmon Quiche with potato pastry because my mum is coming. All the potato recipes have been inspired by the Potato book. Somehow every vegetable finds it’s place in the end including the veg peelings that wind up in the compost bin (food for the garden).

Red Hot Potatoes Take: 1 red chilli, finely chopped (de-seeded), 1 small onion sliced, a pinch of cumin seeds, 2 tbsp olive oil, 3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and quartered, 1 rasher of bacon cut into bits (optional), coriander leaf (pinched a leaf of the Vietnamese coriander growing in the kitchen) and seasoning. Serves 2

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water. Heat oil and cook chilli and cumin seeds for a minute or so, add bacon bits. Add sliced onions and cook until softened. Stir until bacon crisp then add cooked potatoes. Toss together with other ingredients until potatoes start to brown. Remove from heat and add chopped fresh coriander. I used the first leaf from my Vietnamese Coriander growing in the shelter of my kitchen until it’s warm enough to grow outdoors. Wow, this dish punches above it’s weight in flavour, that and the melt in the mouth texture of the Valor potato, I’ll definitely be making this again. Meanwhile there is a second helping in the pan!

The combination of the flaming potatoes and the sweetness of the apple and pork sausages and the no nonsense leeks makes this a very hearty meal. Just what I need to warm me up on this cool, damp April evening.







Riverford Calling …

Forget Avon and Tupperware parties think Green and Wholesome. Think Lunch with friends on the house!

There have been many delicious and surprising happenings since starting out with my weekly organic veg box. 

The most recent one was, when Riverford Organic Farms came calling and invited me to host a lunch. They provided the food, (organic veg in boxes, delivered the day before) the cook and six recipes, all I had to do was gather up a dozen, or so friends. Well that wasn’t too difficult and better still, my friend, Sarah offered her lovely big kitchen, as the place where we would all gather to watch the action, chat and chop, if required.

Sancha, arrived sharply at 9.30 with her own knives, wrapped in something like a jewellery roll, naturally I was curious, a bag full of kitchen cupboard food items and a head full of interesting recipes planned for our menu of the day:

To start with Crushed Cumin Carrots Crostini as finger food followed by: Sweet Potato & Barley Salad, Smoky Sweetcorn Salad, Leek & Cabbage Gratin, Cauliflower & Feta Salad and Roasted Broccoli & Romanesque. Here’s two of the recipes that Sancha prepared:

To make the Carrot Crostini (or Bruschetta) start with slices of sour bread, place on a baking tray and sprinkle with a little oil and place in a medium oven until baked crispy. If in a hurry make toast. Take a large bunch of carrots, wash, trim and cut into batons, layout on a roasting tin, sprinkle with crushed cumin seeds (first, bash them about a bit with pestle and mortar) and a little olive oil and roast until caramelised for about 25 minutes at 180 C. Lightly toast a handful of pine nuts in a dry frying pan. Mash the roasted carrots roughly with a fork, add pine nuts, spread on bread. Top with fresh mint and a little fresh lemon juice. Very delicious and very unexpected, who would have thought of mashed carrots on toast? This would go down very well served with a crisp Italian white wine as an aperitivo … Ooh yes let’s have one of those and soon!

Sweet Potato & Barley Salad was an interesting combo of flavours, colours and textures and very wholesome too, what’s not to like?

Take: 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed, 1 tbs olive oil, 250g pearl barley, 200g cherry tomatoes, 1 head of broccoli, floretted and steamed, 1 small red onion, 1 tbs capers, handful of pitted black olives, 1 bunch of basil chopped.

Dressing: 5 tbs Balsamic vinegar, 6 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

Place sweet potato on baking tray, drizzle with oil. Bake at 180 C about 25 minutes until tender and slightly charred edges.

Rinse barley in cold water, boil for approx. 30 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Drain.

Make the dressing. Add to cooked barley, stir and leave to cool. Add remaining ingredients and serve. This is one of those dishes that can go on for days. Make a large batch, keeps well in the fridge for fast food lunches or meals on the run.

Smoky Sweetcorn Salad

Leek & Cabbage Gratin and Cauliflower & Feta Salad in the foreground.

Pudding (off menu) was an impromptu affair made with my home grown apples, a sprinkling of crumble, one I made earlier and served with a big jug of hot custard, out of a convenient carton … we tried not to have too many cooks in the kitchen!

If you’re interested in hosting a Riverford lunch and spreading the word about cooking and eating organic vegetables, even trying your own veg box (be part of the revolution), Riverford would love to hear from you. Contact Kirsty Hale, Riverford Cooks organiser at the farm on 01803 762019 or email