Friday, November 14, 2014

Root Vegetable Chowder



This simple bowl of chowder is full of  deeply earthy, satisfying flavors  - it craves a brisk walk in the steely sunshine and a thick cut slice of dark brown bread. 

Chowder is something which feels synonymous with my New England roots. The ubiquitous clam chowder is ingrained in the food culture of the region as much as fish & chips are here in London. I grew up eating simple corn chowder and on other occasions a more robust oyster chowder. I like that they are quick to make and can usually be made with things already in the larder - the staples - butter, milk, water, potatoes. 

The origins for this chowder came on a walk through Richmond Park. I can understand why King Henry VIII used it as his hunting grounds- so beautiful & so varied in such proximity to the city. After an earnest walk, I wanted something delicious but unfussy. I used what I had around for this root vegetable chowder. One of which was a large amount of whey left over after making cheese the day before. Instead of dumping the protein rich whey, I used it as the stock base for this chowder. Water or a light stock work equally well. 




Serves a group (4-8 depending on serving size)

1 1/2 pounds parsnips
1 1/2 pounds turnips (or swedes as they are known here)
2 sm/medium sized potatoes 
1 large yellow onion. chopped. 
3 springs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp garam masala 
4 cups whey, water or light stock
2 cups milk. 
knob of ghee or butter
sea salt & fresh black pepper


Melt ghee in the pan and when it starts to bubble add the chopped onion, thyme and a pinch of sea salt. 
Sweat the onions until they are translucent. Stir in the garam masala, toast until fragrant, then add the bay leaf. Stir everything together then add the washed and chopped parsnips, potatoes & turnip. It is up to you if you would like to peel them or not. I usually don't. 
Stir veg together until it is well coated in the ghee & spices. Let it cook for a few minutes more to blend all the flavors together. 
Add your liquid, which ever you are using. You want to just cover most of the veg tops. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until turnips, parsnips and potatoes are very soft. 
Liquid should reduce down some. 
Once the vegetables are done, remove pan from the heat and let it cool a few minutes. Using your preferred method, blend into a smooth but still quite textured mixture. 
Return pan to a low heat and add the milk. If you like your chowder a bit thicker add less milk. Heat milk through but do not scald or boil the milk. 

Salt & pepper to taste. 

optional - I serve each of the bowls topped with toasted leeks, a drizzle of herb oil and a few dried cranberries. 


Friday, October 31, 2014

Kuri & Quinoa Porridge

This month I worked on a recipe for the lovely ladies at The Pressery. If you aren't familiar with them, they supply London with gorgeous, all natural almond milk. It make using almond milk accessible and easy in my daily routine since I don't make it myself. Typically it goes into smoothies, but since fall and winter aren't great for fresh fruit and berries, I wanted to find a way to keep using it in my morning routine. 

The recipe below has been the stand out favorite -  a lovely autumnal breakfast; warm, comforting and deeply flavorful. It is gluten & dairy free and uses only natural sugar from the sultanas. I start this the night before - when using kuri squash to top salads or accompany a risotto - reserve around 200 grams for the mornings breakfast. I really like the savory element that the salt, black pepper & olive oil lend the breakfast. 

The same is true for the quinoa - soak it over night (add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the water) and in the morning drain and rinse before cooking. It makes nutty fluffy quinoa and cuts down cooking time. 

I have been experimenting with other grains for breakfast such as amaranth & millet but the quinoa has been my favorite

Serves 2 - 4 
You will need:
200g roasted Kuri squash cut into chunks. 
1 cup quinoa soaked over night (if not soaked in water, anticipate needing more almond milk during cooking. rinsed & drained)
2 cups almond milk (1/2 cup reserved for serving)
1/4 tsp fresh ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp of vanilla paste 
1/4 cup sultanas 
1 small apple washed & chopped into small pieces.
handful each of shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds & chopped raw walnuts 

****
Place a medium sized sauce pan over moderate heat & toast the cinnamon until fragrant. Next, add chopped apple & stir to combine, about 2 minutes. Then add the rinsed quinoa and toast for another 2 minutes. Add the kuri squash & sultanas, stir to combine and quickly add 1 1/2 cups of almond milk  & 1/4 tsp vanilla - bring to a quick boil and reduce the heat to low. Cook until quinoa is the desired tenderness, stirring occasionally - approx 10 - 15 minutes. 
Keep an eye on the mixture while it cooks as you may need to add a bit more almond milk. 

Spoon porridge into individuals bowls and pour a bit of the remaining almond milk over each, making sure it is equally divided. Top with some of the shredded coconut, pumpkin sees & chopped walnuts. If desired, drizzle with a bit of maple syrup. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Quick Blackberry Jam

There are blackberries abound here in London. Along the riverbanks, lining the footpaths, twirling and twining in the underbrush. And, they are ripe and ready for the picking. 

I have been walking around the city with my eyes to the edges, the peripheral view, scouting & taking stock. Last weekend I hit the jackpot - a brier of blackberries in beautiful sunny spot with big juicy, perfectly formed berries laden on the vines. 
I find it remarkable just how many things grow here, flower and produce fruit. It is so pleasant to see apples, pears and plums dangling from the tips of branches hanging above concrete, iron and brick. It is a simple pleasure but softens the hard corners of such a big city. 

Making small batch jams are great because they are the perfect place to play and experiment with flavors without requiring large amounts of time or ingredients. So, I wanted to share this recipe as more of a guideline, a jumping off point for flavors. This is a quickly made jam or compote using honey, sugar & vinegar as the preservatives. I chose rich dark spices to compliment the sweet deep flavor of the berries and fresh thyme to elevate the brightness of the fruit. The jam brings a little of the city's bounty to my table and is delicious spread on thick slices of toast, stirred through a breakfast porridge or topping yogurt. It is equally delightful dolloped over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, served alongside a creamy goats cheese or paired with a nutty gruyere. It should keep nicely in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days. 



Blackberry Jam

4 pints of wild blackberries (washed and picked through) 
1 small black cardamom pod 
peel from 1/2 medium orange, excluding white pith  
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 tbsp red wine vinegar 
1 tsp salt
1/4 c honey (more or less to your taste)
1/2 C water


place the water, orange peel & black cardamom pod in a large sauce pan.  Bring it up to a brisk simmer and once there, sir in the honey until dissolved. 

Then add the blackberries, salt & thyme. Bring the mixture up to a boil and add the red wine vinegar. Boil for 3 minutes more, then reduce to a simmer. 

Simmer down until most of the liquid is absorbed & has reached your desired thickness. It should coat the back of a spoon quite thickly. I like mine on the thick side. 30-45 mins should do the trick. 

Keep an eye on the pot, you don't want the berries to break down too much - it is nice to have some fully formed for great texture. Remember, it will thicken as it cools. 

Remove the cardamom & thyme sprigs, place in an airtight jar and store in the fridge for about a week. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Beet & Plum Salad

I love the change of seasons. That gentle, nearly imperceptible shift from summer to autumn is my favorite. 
It comes in, barely noticeable, on the tops of the warm summer breezes, chasing at their heels. A coolness, the smell of earth, the little changes in the light ~ 

My neighborhood farmers market starts not too early every Sunday morning. And there isn't anywhere else I would rather be, coffee in hand, pick over produce for the coming week. Its become a ritual I've come to cherish. 
Apples, fennel, cob nuts, the most gorgeous colored beets and sweet plums have been first on my shopping list of late. 
They bridge the gap between the light sweet flavors of summer and darker earthier flavors of autumn. 
This salad mixes some of those early flavors of autumn with some of the last bits of summer lightness. Rich jewel tone beets, sweet english plums, toasted shallots, and creamy goat cheese ricotta. 

Poach the beets covered in a baking dish in the oven with a bit of red wine vinegar and water to really release their sweetness. The skin should be tender enough that you won't need to peel them just make sure to scrub each really well before putting them in the oven. Use the freshest ricotta or better yet, make some! Its really very easy and super satisfying. Bring a pint of goat's milk and a dash of salt up to just boiling, take it off the heat, stir in 3 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice, stir once or twice and let it stand for 5 minutes. Then pour the mixture into a strainer lined with cheesecloth. I like to keep the whey that runs off and use it in smoothies! After about an hour the ricotta should be ready.

Beet & Plum Salad 

1lb of beets. mixed colors but roughly the same size. scrub well and place in a shallow baking dish with 1 cup water and 1/4cup red wine vinegar, cover with foil and bake aprox 1 hour at 200C/400F until tender. When they are cool slice, rough chop into various sizes - the different textures are wonderful. keep lighter color beets away from the darker red if you want to keep their color. 

1/4 lb of plums. washed and chopped 

1 large leek sliced very thin and toasted over a low heat with a knob of ghee until tender add in 1 clove crushed garlic and  1 tsp grated fresh ginger and cook another few minutes until fragrant.

For the dressing, whisk together in a bowl the juice of 1 lemon, 1 lime 1 tbsp honey 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill a pinch of sea salt and a grind or two of black pepper. Then whisk in the cooked leeks & ginger. discard the garlic clove. 

sautee a few shallots in ghee over a very low heat until lightly browned and crisp. transfer to a paper towel to drain and cool. should make some leftovers which will keep in an airtight container for a few days.  

Mix chopped beets & plums through half the dressing (reserve some to drizzle over the top), stir through until everything is well coated. 


Plate the beets along with any golden beets, if using, and a large dollop of the ricotta. drizzle with some of the remaining dressing and sprinkle with a generous handful of crispy shallots 




Monday, August 4, 2014

broad bean summer salad & a trip to the seaside

I am finding a feeling of connectedness to England through the food - not that that should come as any surprise - and more specifically the produce. England's offerings are impressive and yet simple. Berries, pears and apples grow wild here, yours for the picking. Beans, courgettes and tomatoes have ushered in a summer style of eating that is raw, clean, and simple.
 London seems to play everything close to the chest. I have really had to work hard here to discover the good markets, butchers, fish mongers and spice stalls, but I am finding them! - finally.  
A good part of this summer has been about the broad bean (favas as they would be called at home). Their bright green color and tender creamy texture is so easy to love. They have gone into risottos, been made into spreads and hummus, but my favorite has been this simple salad. 
Simple has been some what of a theme around here. Both of us are working hectic full-time jobs that required late hours and long days. Weekends have been precious and, in an effort to maximize those two days we have been taking simple, easy going excursions to some of Britain's seaside towns. 

They are the perfect getaway. Accessible by train, cups of coffee in the morning, a late breakfast in a new city & home to bed after dinner. 
Brighton was a recent day trip - nostalgic, slightly faded beach front and a vibrant little town waiting just up the hill. 

Up the hill from a sleepy beach front is a young, lively town full of winding streets, outdoor markets, shops and restaurants. 
Sitting for a while to take it all in - live music being played and big inviting picnic tables on which to sit, rich second cups coffee. Poking through shops and keeping an eye out for the perfect lunch spot - it was a carefree & easy day & just as summer should be 



for the salad
serves 2
about 1 1/2 cups of blanched, shelled broad beans
1 very small red onion or shallot 
3 tablespoons of muscat vinegar 
1 small head of romanesco broken into very small pieces 
3 or 4 strips of lemon peel, cut very finely into strips 
2 big handfuls of pea shoots - or other micro greens
10 or so small - medium mint leaves 
10 or so sprigs of flat leaf parsley 
olive oil (i used a beautiful orange infused oil - go for one that has sweet floral notes)
the freshest ricotta 
salt & pepper 


chop an extra small red onion (or shallot) very finely, just cover with muscat vinegar and set to the side 

peal and blanch the broad beans (there is something nearly therapeutic in this task). after blanching, i like to remove the tough light green outer pod to reveal the gorgeous colors you see below. 

break apart the romanesco into very small pieces - they are sweet and crunchy and raw in this salad - 

assemble the pea shoots, romaesco, lemon zest fronds, broad beans, flat leaf parsley &  mint leaves on each of the plates. 

into the onion mixture add a pinch of salt and whisk in the olive oil. 

dollop on your ricotta, as much or as little as you like really and then drizzle the entire salad with the dressing. 

finish with a few grinds of black pepper