Tag Archives: organic veg

Pancake day Riverford style

With Pancake Day fast approaching we thought we’d offer a little inspiration for how to do Shrove Tuesday the Riverford way. Although the classic lemon and sugar combo takes a lot of beating, we think our veg-packed savoury pancakes are pretty good contenders.

The key to a good pancake is to use an oil suitable for frying at high temperatures, and without a strong flavour, such as sunflower or groundnut oil. Plain flour can be substituted for buckwheat, which goes particularly well with savoury fillings; in France, crêpes are usually made with buckwheat. It’s also gluten-free.

The possibilities for savoury fillings are as broad as your imagination, but here are a few of our favourites. They are, of course, are all about the veg!

souffled broccoli & stilton pancakes

prep & cook 50 mins, serves 2

Souffled-Broccoli-&-Stilton-Pancakes

110g buckwheat flour
100g purple sprouting broccoli (or calabrese)
50g watercress
3 eggs
500ml milk
50g butter
1 tsp dijon or coarse grain mustard
75g stilton

Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Scoop 2 good tsp of the buckwheat flour into a small bowl or mug and keep to one side. Wash the purple sprouting broccoli and watercress. Next, make the pancake batter; start by putting the remaining flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Crack in 1 of the eggs. Add a good splash of milk and whisk together to form a thick, smooth paste. Gradually whisk in more milk, until you’ve used half of the milk, whisking as you go. Whisk in 2 tbsp cold water.

Preheat your oven to 200˚C/180˚C/gas 5. Melt ½ the butter with 1 tbsp oil in a small pan. Remove from the heat once the butter has melted. Use kitchen paper dipped in a little of the butter and oil to grease a non-stick pancake pan (or 20-21cm frying pan). Ladle in enough batter to just cover the pan, rolling it around to spread it out. Cook on a medium-high heat for 1 ½ mins, until small bubbles start appearing. Carefully turn with a fish slice or spatula. Cook for another min, until golden underneath. Remove to a plate, cover with greaseproof paper or foil, and repeat until you have 4 good pancakes. Grease a baking dish with a tiny bit of the remaining butter, just about ⅕.

Melt the rest of the butter in a pan, add the reserved flour and cook gently, stirring, for 2 mins. Lower the heat right down and gradually whisk in the ⅔ of the remaining milk. Increase the heat slightly and stir until the sauce has thickened. Add the mustard, crumble in the stilton and season to taste. Leave to cool for 3 mins. Meanwhile, boil the broccoli in the pan of water for 3 mins. Drain.

Divide the remaining 2 eggs into yolks and whites. Stir the egg yolks and drained broccoli into the sauce. In a separate bowl (wash and use the pancake batter bowl), whisk the 2 egg whites until they form soft, but firm peaks. Fold a large spoonful of the egg white into the broccoli mixture, not worrying too much about the air bubbles, then very carefully fold in the rest, keeping as much air in the mix as you can. Put the pancakes in a baking dish and spoon some of the veg mixture down the middle of each pancake. Fold the over on both sides to make an open ended parcel. Bake for approx 20 mins, depending on your oven, until the top of the pancake has crisped up and the middle expanded and puffed up.

Pick any very larger stalks off the watercress. Serve with the pancakes, when cooked.

chilli bean & veg pancakes

prep & cook 45 mins, serves 2

Chilli-Bean-&-Veg-Pancakes

1 onion
oil for frying eg sunflower or light olive
1 courgette
1 red pepper
1 carrot
2 garlic cloves
100g buckwheat flour
1 egg
500ml milk
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp dried thyme
1 dried chilli – add to taste
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tin of plum tomatoes
1 tin of red kidney beans
50g salad leaves
25g butter
yogurt, to serve

Peel and finely dice the onion. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a good-sized, heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and fry on a low heat, stirring now and then, for 10 mins, until soft and translucent without colouring. Meanwhile, cut trim the top of the courgette and cut into small dice (approx 1cm, keep them small so they cook in time). Cut the pepper in ½, deseed and cut into similar sized dice. Wash, peel and finely dice the carrot. Peel and finely chop, grate or crush 2 garlic cloves. After 10 mins, add the courgette, pepper and carrot to the onion. Gently fry for 5 mins, stirring now and then.

While the veg cooks, make the pancake batter: put the 100g of flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Crack in the egg. Add a good splash of milk and whisk together to form a thick, smooth paste. Gradually whisk in more milk, until you’ve used ½ of the carton, whisking as you go. Whisk in 3 tbsp cold water.

Next, add the garlic, cumin, coriander and dried thyme to the veg. Chop the dried chilli in ½ and crumble in ½. Fry for 2 mins. Add the tomato purée and cook for 1 min. Add the tin of tomatoes. Season and stir well. Simmer for 20 mins, until the veg is tender. Taste halfway through and add more chilli if you like. As soon as you add the tinned tomatoes, drain the kidney beans into a colander. Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Add ½ the beans to the tomato and veg as soon as you’ve done this (keep the rest in a tub in the fridge. Use in lunchbox salads or other meals within 2 days).

Next, make the pancakes: melt the butter with 1 tbsp oil in a small pan. Remove from the heat once the butter has melted. Put your oven on low: 140˚C/120˚C/gas mark 2. Use kitchen paper dipped in a little of the butter and oil to grease a non-stick pancake pan (or 20-21cm frying pan). Ladle in enough batter to just cover the pan, rolling it around to spread it out. Cook on a medium-high heat for 1 ½ mins, until small bubbles start appearing. Carefully turn with a fish slice or spatula. Cook for another minute, until golden underneath. Remove to a plate, cover with greaseproof paper or foil, and repeat until you have 4 good pancakes. Cover the plate with foil and in the oven to keep the pancakes warm. Once the veg in the chilli bean sauce is tender, check the seasoning, then fill the pancakes. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and salad leaves.

leek & mushroom buckwheat pancakes, with watercress salad

prep & cook 35 mins, serves 2

Leek-&-Mushroom-Buckwheat-Pancakes-with-Watercress-Salad

1 large leek
50g butter, ½ for pancakes, ½ for filling
200g mushrooms
110g buckwheat flour
50g watercress
1 egg
500ml milk, ½ for pancakes, ½ for filling
1 teaspoon dried thyme
75g grated grated cheddar cheese
oil for frying eg sunflower or light olive
1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Wash the leek, cut in half lengthways and finely shred it. Heat ½ the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the leeks and fry on a very low heat for 10 mins, stirring now and then, until soft but not coloured. If they start to catch, add a splash of water and turn the heat down.

Meanwhile, put your oven on a low heat 140˚C/120˚C/gas mark 2. Remove 2 good tsp of the buckwheat flour to a small bowl or mug and keep to one side. Next make the pancake batter: put the 100g of flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Crack in the egg. Add a good splash of milk and whisk together to form a thick, smooth paste. Gradually whisk in more milk, until you’ve used ½ of the carton, whisking as you go. Whisk in 2 tbsp cold water.
Once the leeks have cooked for 10 mins, add the mushrooms and dried thyme. Cook for 3 mins, stirring now and then. Add the reserved 2 tsp of flour. Stir for 2 mins. Gradually stir in the rest of the milk carton. Add the cheese and gently heat until the mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat.

Melt the rest of the butter with 1 tbsp oil in a small pan. Remove from the heat once the butter has melted. Use kitchen paper dipped in a little of the butter and oil to grease a non-stick pancake pan (or 20-21cm frying pan). Ladle in enough batter to just cover the pan, rolling it around to spread it out. Cook on a medium-high heat for 1 ½ mins, until small bubbles start appearing. Carefully turn with a fish slice or spatula. Cook for another minute, until golden underneath. Remove to a plate, cover with greaseproof paper or foil, and repeat until you have 4 good pancakes. Keep warm in the oven. Gently reheat the leek & mushroom mixture. Stir in the Dijon mustard and season to taste. Fill the pancakes with the mixture and serve with the watercress.

Find organic lemons, sugar, or milk for your pancakes, or choose from our organic veg for a savoury twist.

Guy’s Newsletter: hasty veg & a bitter imposition

We are finally enjoying some very welcome cold, dry and bright weather. It will take another week before our most free-draining land dries enough to allow any soil preparation for planting though; spring still feels a long way off. Most winter crops are running four to six weeks ahead of schedule due to the mild winter so far, while our other fields look worryingly bare; it will be three or four months before the spring crops are ready. We still have plenty of roots, kale and leeks, but there will be gaps left by the hasty cauliflowers and cabbages, so we will have to juggle our box contents planning a little.

In contrast to this, over on our farm in France a break in the weather allowed us to plant the first batavia lettuce this week, as the sandy soils there are more forgiving. The first cos lettuce will go into the ground tomorrow; the seed bed was prepared and covered back in October, avoiding the need for any cultivation now when it is difficult to get machinery on the wet land. We plant by hand this early in the year, but still need a tractor to bend hoops and lay the low-level polytunnels that will protect and advance the crop, allowing us to start cutting in late March. Overall our farm in the Vendée has come a long way to filling the UK’s Hungry Gap, but it looks as if that gap might be wider than usual this year. Thankfully, after five years on our own, an organic neighbour will be growing spinach for your boxes in late April and May.

Most of the crop planning for the coming season is done, and seeds and plants ordered with just a few details to refine; I would be grateful if some of you could pass comment on the pale green, solid-ish, bitter and crunchy heads of pain de sucre (salad chicory) that have been in some boxes over the last month. I love growing and eating them and they provide some winter variety without the need to go 1000 miles south, but is this a bitter imposition or do you like them too? There is a very, very brief questionnaire at www.riverford.co.uk/paindesucre; I am just as keen to hear from the haters as the lovers.

Guy Watson

A question about pain de sucre

pain de sucre

Pain de sucre; how much do you like it?

Pain de sucre, also known as sugar loaf chicory, looks like a pale, solid conical cos lettuce, but is actually part of the radicchio family. It has a milder, sweeter flavour and lots of crunch. I am a fan, both as a grower and a cook.

Thanks for taking the time to get this far; only one question to answer.

Thanks for your help
Guy Watson

A visit from The Happy Pear

IMG_4716

The Happy Pear twins, David and Stephen Flynn, are Irish chefs who run a natural food shop, wholefood café and restaurant and sprout farm and do health education talks to, as they put it, “inspire a healthier, happier world”. When they approached us keen to collaborate on our recipe boxes, a quick look at their cook book (a bestseller in Ireland) showed that their love of flavourful, veg-packed, down-to-earth cooking was a brilliant match with our own approach to food at Riverford. Back in November the pair visited us on the farm in Devon, and were as full of energy and warm enthusiasm in person as they are in the cookery videos on their YouTube channel. They had a tour of the farm with Riverford founder Guy Watson, where they harvested leeks and tasted their way through the salad leaves in our polytunnels, before we headed to our development kitchen for a bit of cooking and a photoshoot. They were a delight to have along, and we’re really interested to see how their recipes go down!

IMG_4714A little more background on the boys: After studying business degrees at university, David and Stephen travelled the world tasting as many local dishes and unusual ingredients along the way. When they returned to Ireland, over a decade ago, their aim was to start a food revolution by making fruit and veg sexy, to get involved with their community and drag as many people along for the ride as they possibly could. Today, The Happy Pear is a family and community all about making natural and healthy food mainstream and producing really great tasting products that make it easier for people to be healthier and happier.

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They’ve also created a strong online community and a loyal following across their Social Media platforms and channels. Each week they release videos on The Happy Pear YouTube Channel and they’re also part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube family – the largest foodie community in Europe. David and Stephen live in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland with their families and they really ‘walk their talk’ by eating a wholefood and plant-based diet, practicing yoga, swimming in the sea, keeping bees and smiling every day.

You can order a Happy Pear recipe box, which includes everything you need to make three colourful, flavour-packed dishes for two, here.

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12 veg of Christmas – Christmas cocktail recipes

Celebrate in true Riverford style with our veg & fruit cocktails, perfect to share among friends and family this Christmas and New Year.

Purple Mary

This is basically a Bloody Mary with beetroot purée in place of the tomato. We add a bit of acid in the form of orange and vinegar to replace the acidity of the tomatoes. Make sure you’re guests aren’t too oiled before serving these; beetroot won’t come out of a cocktail dress. I’d advise making the mix the day before at least, as it allows the flavours to marry.

Riverford-purple-mary-cocktail300ml vodka
5cm piece of horseradish
3 tennis ball sized beetroot, boiled or roasted till soft, & skinned
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 orange, juiced
Balsamic vinegar
Tabasco
1 tsp celery salt
Shot of sherry
3 ribs of celery

The first step is to get a loose beetroot purée, not too thick and not too watery. You want to be able to drink it, not have to attack it with a spoon. The reason a Bloody Mary is a divisive drink is that it sits somewhere between a beverage and a meal, and that is down to the body of the tomato juice. Put the beetroot in a food processor or blender and run until smooth, add cold water until you get the texture of thick tomato juice, but don’t forget the vodka will thin it down further. Now grate in the horseradish, add the vodka, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, and a shake of Tabasco. The next step is to season it with a dash of orange juice and balsamic vinegar until you feel happy with the acidity levels. A pinch more salt may be needed to bring everything alive. Pop in the fridge overnight, give it another stir, a taste and pass through a fine sieve into a jug. Serve in shot glasses with a small celery stick stirrer in each, or in a high-ball glass with a bacon sandwich for some ‘hair of the dog’ the next morning.

clementine gin fizz

serves 1
A gin fizz is classically made with lemon juice for a sweet sour appetiser. This clementine version gives a seasonal twist. The basic ratio is 1 part gin, 2 parts fruit juice, 4 parts carbonated water.

clementine-fizz60ml gin
30ml clementine juice
1 tsp caster sugar
120ml soda or carbonated mineral water
clementine slice/wedge & mint leaf

Muddle the gin, juice and sugar in a jug, or for extra chill, shake over crushed ice in a cocktail maker, if you have one. Pour over a few ice cubes and top up with fizzy water. Serve garnished with fresh mint and a slice of clementine.

mulled cider or apple juice

makes 5 litres
This is from Ben Watson’s mate Cider Andy. He’s adamant that to get the genuine article, you need to use his two-year-old Dartmoor Cider, but any dry, scrumpy type cider will do.

mulled-cider5 litres cider or apple juice
approx 200g dark muscovado
sugar
100g cinnamon sticks
25g allspice powder
a few whole cloves
large pinch of nutmeg
large pinch of ginger

Put all the ingredients in a large pan. Cover with a lid and infuse at 60°C for 30 mins. Strain off the cinnamon sticks and cloves, then reheat to serve. For mulled apple juice, leave out most of the sugar and add a couple of sliced oranges and lemons.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic veg or fruit to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 4 recipes for Christmas party canapés

Today’s post is not strictly-speaking a veg, but these taste too good to miss and canapés and Christmas are made for each other. Share some truly great eating among friends and family with these recipes from our lovely Riverford cook, Bob Andrew. Forget cocktail sausages – try our tomato bruschetta, parsnip blinis and stuffing bombs and celebrate cracking home-cooked organic food this festive period.

Parsnip blinis, Cropwell Bishop, walnuts & honey

makes 12
This is a strong contender to challenge the king of festive finger-food, blinis and smoked salmon. This is inspired by a salad of honeyed parsnips, blue cheese and walnuts that often appears on the Riverford Field Kitchen menu during the colder and darker months. It is a classic blini recipe, replacing one root vegetable with another.

parsnip-blinis3 Large parsnips
2 Large eggs, separated into yolks & whites
Dessert spoon of rice flour
30ml crème fraiche
30ml milk
Butter and olive oil
100g Cropwell Bishop or another good quality blue cheese
handful of toasted walnut halves.
1 tablespoon of honey
salt and pepper

Chop the parsnips into ½ inch chunks, removing any bits of core that feel woody. Sauté gently in a pan of butter and olive oil until nice and soft. Purée in a food processor, season with salt and pepper, leave to cool in the fridge. Mix the egg yolks, rice flour, cream and milk with the parsnip purée. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the parsnip mix trying, to preserve a much air as you can. Heat a frying pan of olive oil and butter until the butter starts to foam. Drop a few spoonfuls of the mix into the pan, smoothing each in to a 2-3 inch disc. Cook until golden brown on one side and flip over to finish the other. Cook in batches. To serve, top with some crumbled blue cheese, mix the walnuts into the honey and pop one on top. These blinds can be cooked and frozen well ahead of time. Defrost and warm through in a low pan or oven to refresh.

Tea-soaked prunes, crispy bacon & toasted almonds

makes 24
The prunes and their syrup also make a great accompaniment to your muesli or porridge for breakfast, or with rice pudding or warm custard for dessert, without the bacon of course.

tea-soaked-prunes24 good quality prunes
4 rashers of dry cured smoked bacon
24 whole almonds
1 earl grey tea bag
¼ of a cinnamon stick
1 clove
1 star anise
a thick strip of orange zest
100g brown sugar

To tea-soak the prunes, stir the sugar into 500ml of boiling water, add the prunes, spices and tea bag, and leave overnight. Cook the bacon, in a pan or in the oven, until crispy. Toast the almonds in the oven until golden brown. To serve, snap the bacon into 6 pieces. Cut a slit in the side of each prune, push a whole almond inside and jam in a shard of bacon. Slide a cocktail stick through the middle so your guests don’t get sticky fingers.

stuffing bombs

makes 20
Think of this as a cross between a scotch egg and arancini. If you’re making stuffing anyway just make a little extra for these nibbles. I recommend making 2-3 times the amount you think you’ll need; I’ve seen people push their loved ones aside to get to the last few.

stuffing-bombs500g of herby sausage-meat stuffing (we add 100g of coarse breadcrumbs soaked in milk, squeezed & added to 350g of sausage meat, the zest of one orange, 1 large red onion diced & cooked till soft, a couple of finely chopped dried apricots & some sage, thyme & parsley finely chopped.)
100g fresh mozzarella or other good melting cheese
1 cup of flour
2 eggs, beaten
200g panko breadcrumbs
sunflower oil for frying
salt and pepper

To make each one, take about 40g of the stuffing and press it in to a disc in the palm of your hand, break off a baked-bean-sized piece of mozzarella and push it into the middle and form the edges round in your hand so you end up with a ball of stuffing with the cheese in the middle. Roll into an even ball and repeat until it is all used up. To breadcrumb the balls, lay out 3 shallow bowls, put the flour in the first, the eggs in the second and the breadcrumbs in the third. One at a time dredge the ball in the flour, shake off the excess, dip and roll it in the eggs and drop into the breadcrumbs rolling and pressing until totally coated. Set to one side. Heat enough oil in a deep pan to deep fry with, bring slowly up to 180˚C. Deep-fry until golden brown and piping hot in the middle. Keep warm in an oven and serve on cocktail sticks.

tomato bruschetta

sourdough bread/ ciabatta
garlic
olive oil
tomatoes, diced
red onion, finely sliced
basil, shredded
balsamic vinegar

Grill some ciabatta or sourdough bread on both sides. Rub one side with a peeled clove of garlic and drizzle with good olive oil. Top with cherry tomatoes, red onion, basil, a little crushed garlic and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic veg to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 swede recipes

swede-fieldGuy says
We sow our swedes around Midsummer’s Day on our more exposed fields that rise towards Dartmoor, giving slower growth and more flavour. By Christmas a good frost should have hit, which adds to the flavour; a little hardship always does.

swede, celeriac & carrots braised in olive oil

serves 4-6 as a side
This is a Turkish method, common along the Aegean coast, that’s used for cooking lots of different vegetables. The idea is to braise them slowly with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and a little sugar to concentrate and accentuate their natural flavours. It is definitely best served at room temperature, and preferably the next day. This recipe comes from Riverford Cook Anna, who likes it served as part of a mezze spread.

swede-celeriac-carrots½ large swede (about 500g)
½ large celeriac (about 500g)
2 large carrots (about 250g)
juice of 2 lemons, or to taste
125ml good olive oil
2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1½ tsp salt, or to taste
1 fresh bay leaf
4 peppercorns
leaves and tender stems from a bunch of parsley (about 30g), chopped
leaves and tender stems from a bunch of dill (about 30g), chopped

Scrub and peel the vegetables. Cut the carrots into thickish slices on a sharp angle. Cut the swede and celeriac into 1cm slices, and then into 1cm batons. Cut these into cubes or diamonds. Put the veg into a large, wide pan and add the lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, salt, bay leaf and peppercorns. Add cold water until they are almost but not quite submerged. Cover with baking paper pressed to the surface and a lid and set over a medium heat. When it comes to a simmer, turn the heat down and cook slowly for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are completely tender. Try to avoid stirring too much so that the vegetables hold their shape. Halfway through the cooking time, taste the braising liquid and decide if it needs more lemon, oil or seasonings. When the vegetables are done, lift them out with a slotted spoon into your serving dish and discard the bay leaf and peppercorns. With the pan uncovered, boil the braising liquid until reduced and syrupy. Taste it occasionally and stop it from boiling if it’s becoming too salty. Add the herbs to the liquid, then pour it over the vegetables and let cool. Serve at room temperature.

swede, leek & bacon gratin

serves 6-8
The leeks in this gratin could easily be replaced with boiled greens such as cabbage or kale. Leave out the bacon and it makes a flavoursome vegetarian main course.

100ml milk
500ml double cream
2 garlic cloves
1 large rosemary or thyme sprig
150g smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
1–2 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, white and pale green parts cut in rings
knob of butter (about 30g), plus extra to grease the gratin dish
1 swede, peeled and sliced paper thin (use a mandolin if you have one)
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3. Put the milk, cream, garlic and rosemary or thyme in a pan over a low–medium heat. Slowly bring to a boil and then gently simmer for 5 minutes, being careful not to let it boil over. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Fry the bacon in the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat until really crispy. Add the leeks and a knob of butter and cook on a low heat for 20–30 minutes, until the leeks are soft and justswede-field4 beginning to caramelise. Season well with salt and pepper. Arrange half the sliced swede on the bottom of a greased gratin or shallow ovenproof dish and season. Add the sautéed leeks and then top with the remaining swede and season again. Press the layers down with the back of a spoon. Using a sieve, strain over the infused milk and cream mixture and cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, until a blunt knife can be easily inserted through to the bottom. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes until the gratin is golden around the edges. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Variation
Top the gratin with a hard grating cheese such as Parmesan, Cheddar, pecorino or Gruyère and return to the oven for the last 10 minutes.

swede, leek & apple bake

serves 4, prep 10 mins, cook 75 mins

swede-leek-apple-bake25g butter, plus extra for greasing
2 leeks, finely shredded
4 large (or more smaller) sage leaves
75ml white wine or apple juice
1 swede (800g-1kg unpeeled weight), peeled, cut in half lengthways, then very finely sliced
2 apples, cored, halved & thinly sliced
50g cheddar, grated

Preheat your oven to 180˚C. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the leeks on a very low heat for 12 mins, stirring now and then. Add the sage and wine or juice. Cook for 2 mins. Season with salt and pepper. Layer the swede, apple and leeks in a baking dish, finishing with swede. Cover with foil and bake for 45 mins. Remove the foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 15 mins until golden.

roasted swede with maple syrup

Serve this with cooked gammon ham or ham hock, thick slices of bacon, or with roast meats.

1 swede, peeled & cut into roast potato sized chunks
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/Gas Mark 6. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a flameproof baking tray or large casserole dish over a hob; add the swede and coat with oil. Carefully drizzle over 3 tablespoons maple syrup and toss well. Be careful not to catch and burn the syrup. Bake in the oven turning at intervals for 45 mins until crisp and golden.

swedes

butter-browned braised swede

This way of cooking swede is simple but really good. For vegetarians it’s ideal with a nut roast, or serve with roast chicken, pork, gammon or ham slices.

½ a medium swede, peeled, halved lengthways and then into 1½cm thick slices
a knob of butter, approx 25g
500ml veg or chicken stock

Melt the butter in a pan that will fit the swede in one layer (a medium sized, fairly deep frying pan is ideal). Cook the swede on a medium to high heat for a few mins on each side, without stirring, until golden brown. Add the stock, bring to the boil and let the swede bubble away for 20-25 mins, until it is tender and the liquid reduced to a syrupy glaze. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic swede to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 days of Christmas – how to cook red cabbage

Guy says
red-cabbage-2Cabbage is a kitchen faithful with magnificent culinary potential. Cabbages are members of the brassica family and ancestors of cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts. The original kale-like sea cabbage from which today’s cultivars are descended is still found growing among the pebbles on our beaches, between the high-tide mark and the cliffs. Red cabbage is particularly good braised for a long time until soft and caramelised.

braised spiced red cabbage

This has all the appeal of classic spiced red cabbage but takes less than an hour to make rather than the usual three or four. Delicious with roast pork, sausages, duck or goose, or even with turkey for Christmas dinner.

braised-red-cabbage1 red cabbage, finely shredded
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored & chopped
1 onion, chopped
slug sunflower oil
around 5 allspice berries, roughly crushed, if you can find them – otherwise leave out
2 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tbsp dark soft brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cider or red wine vinegar

Sweat spices, onions and apple in the oil in large heavy-based pan until beginning to soften. Add the bay leaf and cabbage and enough water to come about half way up the cabbage. Cover and turn up heat so cabbage is boiling, return to simmer and cook for 30-40 mins until cabbage is tender. By now the liquid should have reduced to about an inch in the bottom of the pan but if there is too much water left, uncover the pan and boil vigorously to reduce it further. Add in the vinegar, sugar and seasoning, taste and adjust so that you have a good balance of sweet and sour. Serve straight away or cool and reheat later. This dish also freezes very well.

quick scandi-style red cabbage

serves 4, prep 5 mins, cook 50 mins
Many red cabbage recipes take a good couple of hours to cook. This Scandinavian inspired recipe has lots of warm spicy flavour but takes less than half the time so, as well as serving alongside cold meats, it’s good for a mid-week supper. Try it with pork chops and creamy mashed potatoes with a little of our Riverford beer mustard stirred in.

scandi-style-red-cabbage1 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 red onion, peeled & very thinly sliced
½ a large red cabbage, tough core & ribs removed, leaves finely shredded
3 juniper berries, bashed with the flat of your knife
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
100ml red wine
2 tbsp cranberry sauce
1 good sized eating apple, cored & thinly sliced (no need to peel it)

Heat the oil in a large wide frying pan, wok or casserole, one with a lid (or you can cover the cabbage with a layer of foil instead). Add the onion and cabbage and fry for 10 mins on a low to medium heat, stirring now and then. Add the juniper, allspice, caraway, bay leaf, vinegar, wine and cranberry sauce. Season, cover and cook on a low heat for 20 mins. Add the apple and cook for a further 20 mins, stirring now and then to stop it catching. Check the seasoning before serving.

red cabbage, winter root & pomegranate slaw

serves 4, prep 10 mins, cook 0 mins
To get the seeds out of your pomegranate easily and without any bitter yellow pith, cut it in half crossways and use a rolling pin to bash each pomegranate half over a bowl, squeezing it slightly now and then so the seeds fall out. Odd bits of the pith might fall out too, but can easily be picked out.

red-cabbage-winter-root-pomegranate-slawjuice from ½ a lemon
1½ tbsp pomegranate molasses (readily available in shops, or use a little honey)
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
4 tbsp good olive oil
¼ large red cabbage, tough core & thick ribs removed, leaves finely shredded
¼ large celeriac, or ½ a small one, peeled & cut into fine matchsticks
1 large carrot, peeled & cut into fine matchsticks
1 small or ½ a large red onion, peeled & very finely sliced
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
seeds from 1 pomegranate

Whisk the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, mustard and olive oil together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cabbage, celeriac, carrot, onion, parsley and half the pomegranate seeds. Gently toss together. Taste and add more oil, lemon juice or seasoning to your preference. Sprinkle over the remaining pomegranate seeds to serve.

warm red cabbage salad with toasted walnuts & blue cheese

red-cabbage-salad-walnuts-blue-cheese75g walnut pieces
2 tbsp walnut oil
2 crisp red apples, cored &d cut into small pieces
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, quartered & thinly sliced
1 small red cabbage, shredded
100g blue cheese, crumbled (we use Devon Blue)
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp marjoram, chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Toss the walnuts with the walnut oil and some black pepper. Spread them out on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5–7 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Put the garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a frying pan and sauté over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the red onion and cook for 30 seconds, then add the cabbage and cook for a couple of mins until it begins to turn from red to pink. Season with salt and pepper. Finally add the cheese, apples, herbs and toasted walnuts. Toss well and serve.

red cabbage with prunes & chestnuts

8 prunes
140ml red wine
560g chestnuts, peeled
225g onions, sliced
1 red cabbage
2 cooking apples
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Soak prunes in wine for 4 hours, then stone and chop them. Bring chestnuts to the boil and simmer for 10 mins, cool and peel the inner layer. Preheat oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Cut onions, shred
the cabbage and slice the apples. Heat the oil, cook the onions until transparent, add the chestnuts, cabbage, prunes, wine and vinegar and bring to the boil Cover, put in the oven for 45 mins.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic red cabbage to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 of the best potato recipes

Guy says
potatoesModern farming methods have not been kind to the humble potato. Intensively cultivated for high yield and fast growth, it’s been bred into staggering blandness, with generic offerings of ‘red’ and ‘white’ potatoes. We grow our potatoes slowly, choose our varieties judiciously and encourage you to savour their flavour and not consign them to use as a bulking item on your plate.

roast potatoes with lemon, rosemary and thyme

serves 6 as a side
Crisp and caramelised from roasting, tart and tangy from the lemons, this variation on traditional roast potatoes makes a particularly good side for chicken or fish, accompanied by a bitter leaf salad.

roast-potatoes-lemon-rosemary1.5kg fairly waxy potatoes (such as Marfona, Orla or Triplo), washed but not peeled, cut into halves or quarters, depending on size
2 lemons, cut into thick slices, plus an extra ½ lemon to finish
7–8 garlic cloves, unpeeled, lightly smashed
4 rosemary sprigs
6 thyme sprigs
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Put the potatoes into a pan of cold salted water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and let dry in a colander for a few minutes. Transfer to a roasting pan and scatter over the lemon slices, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Drizzle over the oil and toss together with your hands, making sure each potato is coated in oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 35–40 minutes, turning everything once or twice, until the lemons are starting to caramelise and the potatoes are golden brown. Squeeze over the extra lemon half, sprinkle with a little more salt and serve immediately.

Variations
* Small waxy potatoes such as pink fir apples and Charlottes can be halved lengthways, tossed with oil and salt and roasted from raw at 180°C/Gas 4.
* Toss the potatoes with a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard before roasting for more of a zing.

gratin dauphinoise

serves 6 as a side
Creamy or crusty? Waxy or floury potatoes? Everyone has their personal preference and there is certainly more than one way to make gratin dauphinois. The question of how to cook an authentic version was apparently so aggressively contested that Charles de Gaulle held a competition to determine the definitive recipe. Riverford Cook Anna learned this method from a Parisian chef, who assured her it was the real deal!

gratin-dauphinois50g butter
700ml whole milk
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 tsp fine salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1kg medium all-rounder potatoes, peeled and cut lengthways into 4–5mm thick slices
200ml double cream

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and grease a gratin or shallow ovenproof dish (about 15 x 20cm) with half the butter. Put the milk, garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large pan and slowly bring to the boil. Add the potatoes, return to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, until half cooked. Using a slotted spoon, lift the potatoes from the milk into the dish. Discard the milk (or save it for another purpose). Shake the dish to distribute the potatoes evenly. Pour the cream over the potatoes and dot with the remaining butter. Bake uncovered for about an hour, until the potatoes are tender and a golden crust has formed. To make it easier to cut, let the gratin cool slightly before serving.

Variation
For something slightly less rich, layer the potatoes with 1 very finely sliced onion or leek and a few thyme leaves in a well-buttered gratin dish, seasoning each layer. Pour over 300ml chicken or veg stock (or a mix of half milk and half stock), dot with a little butter and bake for about 1 hour, or until the potatoes are cooked through. The top should be a little crispy, but if it is getting too brown before the potatoes are cooked, cover it loosely with foil.

rosemary & sherry baked chicken with saffron potatoes

serves 4

rosemary-sherry-baked-chicken-potatoes4 tbsp olive oil
8 chicken pieces – use a mix of thighs & drumsticks
knob of butter
900g potatoes, peeled & thickly sliced (1-2cm)
small pinch of saffron threads
½ tsp smoked sweet paprika
6 sprigs rosemary
4 bay leaves, roughly torn
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200ml medium-dry sherry
sea salt & ground black pepper
small handful toasted flaked almonds (optional)

Heat the oil in a large shallow heat and flameproof casserole (or use a frying pan and transfer to a baking dish). Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate. Melt the butter in the same pan. Add the potatoes, saffron, paprika, rosemary, bay and garlic. Toss together. Lie the chicken pieces on top of the potatoes and pour over the sherry. Season. Bring to the boil, then transfer to the oven. Bake at 180°C for 45 mins, until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are tender. Sprinkle over the almonds if using.

celeriac & potato mash

celeriac
potatoes
milk
butter

Cook as you would mashed potato but add one 1/3 to 2/3 as much celeriac as potato. The celeriac cooks faster and so should be added once the potatoes have come to the boil. Great with sausages and savoy cabbage or cavalo nero.

parsnip & potato cakes

350g potatoes, peeled & diced
700g parsnips, peeled & diced
oil for frying
1 large onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled & crushed or finely chopped
knob of butter, about 20g
4 tbsp milk
a good grating of fresh nutmeg
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1-2 eggs, beaten
120g fresh breadcrumbs

In a pan of salted boiling water, cook the potatoes, then the parsnips, until just tender (the potatoes will take about 10 mins, parsnips about 7). Drain. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large pan, add the onion and fry for a few mins until soft. Add the garlic and fry for another couple of mins. Put the potatoes, parsnips, butter, milk and nutmeg in a large bowl and season, then mash together before stirring in the onion and parsley. Set aside until cool. Put the eggs and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. Take about 1 tablespoon of the potato/parsnip mix and use your hands to press it into a pattie shape. Dip it in the egg and then the breadcrumbs to coat and repeat until all the mixture is used. Add a little oil to a non-stick frying pan and fry the cakes, in batches, until golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven until you are ready to serve.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic potatoes to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 Christmas leek recipes

Guy says
leeksOur leeks are pulled, stripped and trimmed by hand. Surviving the grim hardship of a January day spent bent over in a windswept field with 5 kilos of mud clinging to each boot also requires a zen-like quality possessed by only a small minority. I reckon the pickers deserve to be paid more than bankers but I’m not sure we would sell many leeks if they were. The winter-hardy varieties ready at Christmas tend to be shorter and stouter with darker leaves, and arguably they taste better for the climatic hardship they have experienced.

Prep
Leeks tend to harbour a bit of mud. If you have only one to clean, cut it in half lengthways, leaving the root base intact. Hold each half under the cold tap, root end up, fanning out the leaves with your fingers. For a bigger batch, it’s easier to slice the leeks first: cut off the root base and the dark green top and use the white and paler green section. Let the rings soak for a few minutes in a bowl of cold water so the dirt sinks, then drain in a colander.

Riverford leek & smoked cheese pithivier

Pithivier is a circular puff pastry pie with a curved pattern cut into it. You could add some sliced mushrooms to the leek mixture.

leek-pithivierknob of butter
1kg leeks, finely shredded
100g cream cheese
sea salt & ground black pepper
80g smoked cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 sheets ready rolled all-butter puff pastry (you need about 600g if making your own or rolling out a block; roll to about ½-¾cm)
1 egg yolk, mixed with a splash of milk

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the leeks and cook gently for about 10 mins until soft. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Season well. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar and chives. Leave to cool completely. Roll out one piece of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use a dinner plate as a template to cut around to make a circle. Spread over the leek mixture, leaving a gap of 5cm all the way around the pastry circle. Roll out the other half of the pastry and lay over the top. Press the edges down to seal. Trim the edges. Brush with eggwash. Use a sharp knife to score curved lines on top of the pie and the edges. Bake at 180°C for about 30 mins, until the top is golden brown and the pastry cooked through. Serve warm.

leeks with garlic cream & tarragon

serves 4-6 as a side

leek-cream-tarragonknob of butter
2 large leeks, trimmed & washed
2 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
125ml double cream
handful tarragon leaves, chopped

 

 

Halve the leeks lengthways, and slice into 1cm slices at an angle. Gently heat the butter in a saucepan add the leeks, season and cook on a low heat for 15-20 mins until soft, tender but not coloured. Place the garlic in a small pan with the cream and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 10 mins until the garlic has cooked, and the cream has reduced and thickened. Fold into the leeks, adjust the seasoning and add the chopped tarragon.

lemony leeks

serves 4-6 as a side
A sweet and sour poaching liquor can simply lift humble vegetables to a new level. This would work equally well with cauliflower, romanesco, or carrots. You’re looking for a good mix of sweet and sour, so tweak the lemon and sugar to taste.

600g leeks, trimmed
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
2 lemons
100ml good olive oil
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp dried dill

Peel off any tough or muddy outer leaves from the leeks and chop into 5cm lengths. Soak in a bowl of cold water to remove any grit, turning now and then, and rinse. Put the olive oil, garlic, 1 tbsp of the sugar, the lemon juice and 300ml water in a pan. Add the leeks and gently toss together and bring to a simmer over a medium heat for approx. 15 mins, or until the leeks are soft. Add a splash more water if needs be to stop them drying out. Stir the parsley and dill into the cooked leeks. Check the seasoning and adjust sugar, lemon juice or salt while the leeks are still warm to give a good mix of sweet and sour. Serve the leeks on a platter or in a large bowl, with the poaching liquor spooned over the top. For a more intense flavour, reduce the liquor down a little before pouring it over.

leek and feta fritters

serves 4
A very moreish starter or light lunch with a bitter leaf salad. The dip includes sumac, a deep-red, lemony spice used a lot in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s increasingly available in supermarkets, but if you can’t find it, use a little extra lemon juice and a couple of grinds of pepper instead.

for the fritters:
3 leeks, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
25g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large eggs
50g crème fraîche
70g self-raising flour
30g gram (chickpea) flour (or just use a total of 100g self-raising flour)
1 tsp baking powder
80g feta, crumbled
small bunch of tarragon, leaves chopped
cayenne pepper
dash of milk (if necessary)
sunflower oil, for frying
salt and black pepper

for the dip:
zest and juice of ½ lemon
150g crème fraîche
sumac (or see introduction for alternative)
lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Lightly fry the leeks in the butter and oil in a frying pan over a medium heat until starting to soften, about 7 minutes. Whisk the eggs and crème fraîche until light and starting to increase in volume. Sift in the self-raising flour, gram flour, if using, and baking powder and gently mix into a batter. Fold in the leeks, feta and tarragon. Add a pinch of cayenne and some salt and pepper. You should have a consistency that will drop slowly from a spoon. If too dry, add a dash of milk; too wet, add a pinch of flour. Pour oil into a frying pan to a depth of about 5mm and heat until a test teaspoonful of batter sizzles immediately. Using a spoon, add three or four separate dollops of batter to the pan. Push each one with the back of the spoon until you have small patties about 8cm across. Cook until golden, about 3–4 minutes on each side. Remove the cooked fritters to a baking tray and repeat until you have used up the batter. You may need to heat up fresh oil between batches if it starts to run dry. When all are done, place the fritters in the oven for 10–12 minutes to warm through. Meanwhile, make the dip. Mix the lemon zest into the crème fraîche with a pinch of salt and add the lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle liberally with sumac and serve with the lemon wedges.

Variations
* Add chopped, fried crispy bacon to the batter, or replace the feta with cooked, shredded chicken.
* Instead of tarragon use dill or mint.

leek and Parmesan tart

serves 4-6
The secret of this recipe lies in cooking the leeks long and slow, so that they become sweetly caramelised. The rest takes no time at all and you can exercise your imagination adding extra toppings.

leek-parmesan-tart3–4 tbsp olive oil, or 50g butter
6 large leeks, washed, dried and thinly sliced
bunch of thyme, tied with string
1 x 300g ready-rolled sheet all-butter puff pastry
25g Parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent), finely grated
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Heat the oil or butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the leeks and thyme. Slow-fry the leeks until they are very soft and starting to brown, a good 10–15 minutes. Cover the pan initially to help them sweat, then take off the lid halfway through so the liquid evaporates. Stir at intervals to stop them catching. Season with salt and pepper then cool. Meanwhile, lay out your pastry flat on a lightly greased non-stick baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until it has completely puffed up and is golden brown. (Check the bottom of the pastry is cooked too.) Flatten the pastry back down by covering it evenly with the leek mixture, leaving 5mm around the edge. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and any other toppings (see suggestions below) and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Serve warm.

Variations
* Onions work as a replacement for or combined with the leeks.
* Experiment with extra toppings, just like a pizza: try anchovies, olives or different cheeses, such as mozzarella or goat’s cheese.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic leeks to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.