Friday, 27 September 2013

Live Local Greens finds stardom...

I just wanted to write a quick update to let you know some exciting news in the world of Live Local Greens.

I was approached to write an interview for food website Gourmandize UK & Ireland, talking about my cooking, the blog and a few other things.

So here it is!

Head on over to http://www.gourmandize.co.uk/member-kTOMEj-interview.htm to read the whole thing.

Thanks to all the folks at Gourmandize for asking me to be part of your wonderful website!

Live Local Greens's interview


Interview by LaurenceInterview by Laurence

We interviewed Live Local Greens!

Visit the blog: Live Local Greens.

See profile page and recipes
Discover Live Local Greens's favourite recipe: Moroccan roasted squash with spiced chickpeas


"... if you have any ideas or suggestions for how to cook with seasonal veg, I would love to hear them!"


Hello Live Local Greens, so tell us...


When did you begin your blog and what inspired you to start it?

I have only recently started the blog, as I had just signed up to the Local Greens veg bag scheme and I wanted to share how I cooked the various vegetables they provide. I really enjoy cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, and lots of my friends told me I should start a blog, so I finally did it!


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Autumnal stirrings...

Autumn is absolutely my favourite season.

I love having to wrap up in big cosy jumpers, scarves and hats, plus I get to wear my favourite boots! I definitely feel more comfortable all wrapped up than in skimpy shorts!

Autumn food is so satisfying; all those pies, soups and stews that warm you up on a crisp, chilly day. I'm looking forward to seeing what veg we get from Local Greens as the weather turns colder. I think it will be more of a challenge than simply relying on salads! But that's why I enjoy cooking so much!

So far we've had a few bits that signal the turning of the leaves; beetroot, turnips (more on those another time) and - the star of the show in this post - red kuri squash. This wonderful little squash is similar to a pumpkin or a butternut squash but smaller and slightly sweeter-delicious! I love anything involving squash, there's something very comforting and satisfying about it.

I cooked this guy with a bit of a Moroccan twist. I cook quite a lot of Moroccan inspired dishes, I just think that the combination of different spices, heat and a bit of sweetness is really delicious. Last Christmas my brother treated me to a wonderful recipe book 'The Middle Eastern Vegetarian' by Sally Butcher (whose deli 'Persepolis' is just round the corner of me in Peckham- I urge any London based foodies to check it out!) which has inspired me to cook some more adventurous Middle Eastern food. Cooking this type of food may seem slightly daunting at first but once you've built up a decent spice collection and know what combinations work, you'll soon be a pro!

This recipe is my creation however, but inspired by a few Moroccan/Middle Eastern recipes and meals I've tried. If you can't get hold of red kuri squash, butternut or any other similar squash will work just as well.



Moroccan roast red kuri squash with spiced chickpeas and herby couscous
Serves 2

1 red kuri squash, seeds removed and cut into wedges
1 teaspoon of harissa paste (I use La Phare du Cap Bon paste, but there are plenty of other brands available, or have go at making yourself!)
2 tablespoons of olive oil

half a red onion, diced
1clove of garlic, minced
glug of olive oil
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
pinch of chill flakes OR half a chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
large bunch of spinach, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoons of half-fat creme fraiche OR Greek yoghurt


150g pearl couscous (this has larger grains than normal couscous, which I prefer, but the normal one will work just as well)
good glug of olive oil
juice of half a lemon
handful of coriander, chopped

Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 5. Place the squash in a large roasting tray. Mix the oil and harissa paste and toss the squash wedges with the mixture so they are fully coated. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until soft and starting to caramelise.

Prepare the couscous by adding to a large pan of boiling water (I also added a bit of stock powder) and cooking for 5 to 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and drizzle with olive oil. Stir in the lemon juice and coriander.

Meanwhile, heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook until soft. Add the tomato puree and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas and spinach, and stir, until spinach is completely wilted. Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly, then mix in the yoghurt or creme fraiche.

Serve the wedges of squash topped with chickpeas and a side of couscous, with a further sprinkling of coriander if desired.




Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A note on dressings...

Just a quick post as I wait for my latest creation to cook in the oven (a new use for pattypan squash-stay tuned!).

I mentioned previously that I would talk about dressings, as I think they are a brilliant way to add some magic to a simple salad. I have a few in my toolbox that I pull out if I ever have a bowl of leaves that need jazzing up. If you have a few of these guys up your sleeves, you'll never be too far away from a smashing salad.

These are just a few classics, but there are so many variations and combinations out there, it's worth having an explore and experimenting with flavours. My tip is to mix your dressings in an old jam jar, as you can stick the lid on and shake it to mix, and it is easy to store any remaining dressing in the fridge.



Classic balsamic

Simple, but sometimes that's all you need!

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in your jam jar and shake well.

Lemon tahini

I wrote about this dressing previously in my kale and squash quinoa salad, but just in case you missed it, here it is again!

1 clove garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
good glug of olive oil
tablespoon of tahini
black pepper

Mix oil, garlic and tahini then add enough lemon juice to thin it out and shake your jam jar up. You may need to add some water to get it a pouring consistency.

Honey Mustard

Another classic!

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Combine all ingredients in your jam jar and shake well.

Asian style

This dressing is great on salads of crunchy veggies, or with noodles.

2 tablespoons rapeseed/olive oil
juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 clove of garlic, grated/minced
pinch of chilli flakes
1 chopped spring onion (optional)
1 tablespoon of chopped coriander (optional)

Mix all ingredients except the spring onion and coriander together in a jam jar. Add onions and coriander and stir.

Yoghurt dressing

This dressing has a kind of Middle-Eastern vibe; great with falafels, halloumi or couscous salads.

2 tablespoons of plain yoghurt
1 clove of garlic, grated/minced
juice of half a lemon
good glug of olive oil
handful of mint

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Add more olive oil to loosen the dressing as desired.

What's your favourite dressing?


Friday, 13 September 2013

Beetroot

No sooner do I write a post about summer, than the skies cloud over and a chill sets in. Hmmm, maybe it's time to admit that it ain't summer anymore...

 But I'm not ready to bring out the thick socks and jumpers just yet. So I just want to squeeze in one final summery recipe before it all becomes soups and stews.

Although saying that, the star player of this recipe is actually beetroot, one of my top ten autumn veggies, so there's plenty of time to make more of this-go for it!

I made this as part of a dinner I held for a friend who was going away to work in the Philippines for a while. I love cooking for friends and getting the whole gang together to eat wonderful food (and drink wonderful wine) is something we do quite a lot as a group. There's something about filling up a table with dishes of deliciousness and letting everyone dig in that is hugely satisfying and makes me very happy. Of course, my friends are very appreciative to have a friend who doesn't mind cooking for them! And the favour is always returned!

I made the beetroot hummus as I knew that people would be arriving in dribs and drabs, and wanted something for people to nibble on while they were waiting for the main event. Served with some tasty crispbreads (shop bought I'm afraid) and a cold beer in the garden, it went down a treat!

It's such a fantastic colour that you may not want to eat it! (But not for long!)

There are tons of variations on the classic hummus (sweet potato, carrot, broad bean) but the base of chickpeas, tahini and olive oil pretty much always remain the same. As long as you have those guys and a blender, the hummus world is your oyster! I will definitely be trying a few different combinations, what's your favourite hummus combo?


beetroot hummus
serves 4 (as an appetiser)

1 large beetroot
1 tin of chickpeas
1 tablespoon of tahini
1 garlic glove, crushed
glug of olive oil
juice of half a lemon
pinch of cumin
pinch of cracked black pepper

To cook the beetroot, boil it whole for about 15 minutes, until you can easily pierce it with a knife. Once cooled, carefully remove the skin and chop into smallish chunks.

Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blitz until a smooth consistency. You may want to add more cumin or lemon juice to taste, and loosen with a dash more olive oil if necessary.





Sunday, 8 September 2013

Summer squash

Even years after leaving school (I'm not that old surely?!), I still get that 'back to school' feeling when September comes around. Part of my job does involve working with schools, so I do get a bit of a summer break and remember how 6 weeks used to seem like a lifetime when you were younger; afternoons of playing 'Blocky1-2-3' and making dens, paddling pools and water fights. Now schools are back but the sun's still shining, so I'm not quite feeling ready to get my jumpers and boots out just yet!

We've had a great summer this year. I can't actually remember having this much great weather for a long time. I've tried to make the most of it (we don't know when we'll get another one like this!)- beer gardens, walks, picnics and meals in the garden. London is great in the sunshine, and it just seems to make everyone so much happier.


So to go with this lovely weather, we've had some great summer veg to enjoy too! Including the yellow summer squash I mentioned in the first post - which someone has since informed me is called a pattypan or sunburst. A new addition to my vegetable knowledge! A relative of the courgette, this squash has a slightly nuttier flavour and a wonderful bright yellow colour. I must admit I was a bit unsure what to do with it at first, but as I'm finding throughout my cooking with the veg box, the trick is to keep it simple and let it's lovely, natural flavours shine! Plus, I don't know about you, but when it's hot, all I want to eat is light, fresh salads.

So with that in mind, I knocked up a quick squash and kale quinoa salad the other day that I thought I'd share with you.

The salad dressing is my current obsession and is pinched from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Veg Everyday' book (which I hugely recommend for tasty, simple veggie food). It is so good with most salads; I've been using it on pretty much everything! Dressings really do turn a simple salad into something exciting - keep your eyes peeled for a future post dedicated just to dressings!

This dish isn't really a recipe, more of just a combination of really good stuff-but aren't the best dishes like that?!


Summer Squash and Kale Quinoa Salad
Serves 2
half pattypan/summer squash cut into chunks
large bunch of kale, stalks removed and roughly chopped
100g quinoa
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
good glug of olive oil
large tablespoon of tahini
black pepper
handful of mixed seeds

Cook the quinoa according to the instructions. Whilst cooking steam the squash and the kale until tender.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Mix oil, garlic and tahini then add enough lemon juice to thin it out. (I find that using an old jam jar is great as you can screw the cap on and shake it, shake it, shake it.) You may need to add some water to loosen it up. Keep shaking until all ingredients are fully mixed together and it is a pouring consistency.

Once cooked, mix quinoa and the vegetables together and serve with a drizzle (or flood!) of dressing and a sprinkling of seeds.