I quite often do things in the kitchen without thought, because it was part of my training, so am often surprised when someone watching comments, ‘that’s a good idea’ or asks ‘why do you do that?’ I thought I might jot these things down, bring them home and leave them here. You never know, one day children you might need to know how to julienne a mango or make a choux pastry swan. These impromptu tips will appear as I fill a page in my notebook.
I grew sweetcorn in the garden when the children were young. There is something inspiring about planting a tiny kernel and watching it grow so tall. Sweetcorn requires little care and you are rewarded with the main cobs and tiny offshoots of baby corn. Apart from the messy husks and the furious flossing after eating, I still love eating sweetcorn like a beaver, as I did back then. I smile when I pull open those husks to find the glass beads of yellow and remember.
When you cook corn antioxidant activity, which helps protect the body from cancer and heart disease, is actually increased. Don’t write off the tinned or frozen stuff either, evidence suggests this is just as good, so eat it out of season, its just as nutritious.
Because sweetcorn is so delicious on its own, I fear it is left naked on the plate, apart from a thin negligee of butter, most of the time. Give this sweet starchy vegetable another look, let the little gold nuggets shine in other ways. Oh and do not be afraid of the starch, an ear of corn has about the same number of calories as an apple and less than one-fourth the sugar, makes you think. Continue reading “The green folder”→
This bowl of colour flew out last week, my Bibimbap hybrid. The classic Korean dish is new to me, I have never really been a big fan of Korean cuisine I had a very bad experience with a bowl of broth made from Ox blood punctuated with shots of soju once, I can not talk about it! Bibimbap literally means mixed rice in Korean. When I first looked at a traditional home-style recipe I have to say I was a little overwhelmed by the list of ingredients a couple of which I vaguely knew and the various methods of cooking which spanned three pages. It just all looked like too much effort for some meat and veg on rice.
A colleague generously bought me a bowl from her local source so I had a reference. She makes it at home as a go to dinner and is the one who pointed me in the right direction. I first tasted all the components separately, the version I had contained beef so that was out for me if I am honest I was underwhelmed but mixed together with a little spice, topped with a warm fried egg everything changed and I could see the potential.
Fresh asparagus should have crisp, not bendy or soft stalks, the tips should be firm and held tightly together, walk away from anything less. I would also urge, only eat asparagus when it is in season, for New Zealand, September – December. Personally, lightly steamed and dripping in butter is the way to eat this stunning shoot. It is rumored that Julius Caesar loved it this way, who knows, it was certainly cultivated by the Romans more than 2000 years ago.
Top tip, store your purchase standing up in a container of water, like a bunch of flowers, covered with damp kitchen towel, they start to die as soon as they are cut. This will keep them fresher for longer
Asparagus provides vitamins A, B2, and C. It is also a good source of potassium, iron and….calcium – surprised? Now if only I could find a way of making my children eat asparagus, all would be good in my green world. For the rest of us here’s some asparagusy stuff. Continue reading “The Green Folder”→
4 great aubergine recipes that are quick, easy and healthy
There is just so something utterly seductive about a glossy purple aubergine. I just have to buy the egg shaped fruit whenever it is in season. Not everybody feels the same way, in fact the earlier varieties, which were more bitter than the ones we use today, were thought to be able to cause insanity, leprosy and cancer. Funny because we now know that the skin is an antioxidant.
You say Eggplant, I say Aubergine – it’s a fruit
The ancient ancestors of eggplant grew wild in India and were first cultivated in China in the 5th century B.C. Eggplant was introduced to Africa before the Middle Ages and then into Italy, Europe was last in the chain, where it was used more as a decorative plant for some time. Not until the 18th century did it throw off it’s bitter reputation and wear the royal purple with pride. Anyway, here are 4 great ways to eat them. Continue reading “The Green Folder”→
A quick and simple guide to cooking and eating mung beans – 4 fabulous dishes
High in vitamins and minerals, especially iron, calcium, vitamin A, B1, B2 and C, these small green dried beans have a pale yellow inside. You might not have seen them in this form, but I bet you have seen and probably eaten them as bean sprouts. That’s how they are most commonly used. Buy them non heat treated and watch them grow!! Once sprouted, mung beans punch above their weight increasing the amount of Vitamin A by 300% and a staggering increase of up to 600% for their vitamin C value. Because their starches are converted to simple sugars during the sprouting process, they are easy to digest. When mung beans are hulled and split they are called mung dal. Get to know them, in all their forms.
After the raspberry chocolate cheesecake brownie these are the next three most requested slice recipes. I have finally found time to leave them in this space. The names are what they have become in our family for various reasons. Call them what you want but you must make them. My favorite is the lemon so that is where I will start.
A quick and simple guide to cooking and eating buckwheat, a gluten free food
Buckwheat is a fruit seed – related to rhubarb and sorrel and nothing to do with wheat, good news for all those trying to avoid the stuff. I have seen pictures of buckwheat crops which look like a field full of white flowering weeds. The tiny seeds contain higher levels of zinc, copper, and manganese than other cereal grain. Buckwheat also provides a very high level of protein which is well-balanced and rich in lysine (think cold sore defense). Why then, is Buckwheat not carried on our shoulders as a food superhero? Well. there is some evidence that humans find it hard to digest the protein, so absorption is low – pre-soaking before using, makes all grains more digestible. While this makes it a less than ideal source of protein for growing children or anyone with digestive tract issues, for most of us it is a useful food to include in our diets and a must for vegetarians and those that are Gluten free.
Buckwheat’s most common forms are, hulled groats, which can be cooked like rice. Ground buckwheat ﬂour, most famously used in Japanese soba noodle and french blinis and toasted groats, which does not take as long to cook. The hulls can be used as stuﬃng in hypo-allergenic pillows, heating pads, and other homeopathic applications. Interesting but how can we eat it. Here’s how. Continue reading “The Green Folder”→
I jumped up and down when it did, a happy combination.
Sometimes towards the end of the week, I look in my fridge and wonder what to do with its contents. This is cooking off-piste and actually the most exciting and creative. Somethings are nearly there and need tweaking, somethings just work straight away. I had ½ a butternut squash, a bunch of spinach and some cooked couscous left from a previous dish. Drum roll please as I lift the tea towel and bring you………
COUSCOUS BALLS A NEW WAY TO EAT COUSCOUS
I ate six in the testing and they sold so quickly I had to make another batch. First time around I used fresh spinach, apricots and blue cheese because that is what I had to hand, in the second batch I used frozen spinach, feta and cranberries, which I photographed. The soft centre and crunchy outside make this dish a versatile winner, use what you have. I served them with an aubergine relish that I made and then a fig relish that was store bought, they are not fussy and ate well with both. On a salad or in a wrap or pita, try them. You’re welcome!!
A quick and simple guide to cooking and eating pearl barley.
Refined into barley malt for use in beer, fed to livestock or hidden in thick soups and stews; poor pearl has been on the bench for many years now. Let’s give her some new dresses and ask her to dance!! She is just as good as quinoa.
I actually do not like the texture of pearled barley in soups, I find it’s kind of slimy and chewy. When I read that whole grains are a must for the postmenopausal woman I went on a whole grain mission. Pearled barley was on my list, but I left it to last, sad face, because of my stew bias. It is a great source of fibre and packed with vitamins and minerals. Reading on Health benefits. I sighed and looked up some recipes I have in old books, they were seriously uninspiring. I was a little lost until I stopped thinking about pearled barley as pearled barley!!!!! I thought of it as rice or quinoa. Everything changed.