The Greens Cookbook

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The best recipe I’ve tried this year, plus a tasty side and a speedy supper

Published November 10, 2014 by Storm

Whoops! It’s been a month since I’ve written about the recipes I’m trying. I only skipped trying a new recipe one week of that month and that was my birthday week. I ate out a couple of times that week and had a delicious lunch in the café of The Ashmolean, if you’re in Oxford give it a try.

The best recipe of the year (so far)

In Vegetarian Cooking Through The Year I found myself thumbing beyond autumn and into winter, there I found this delicious Almond Roast. I’m a little shocked at realising that it is my favourite of the dishes I’ve tried so far this year; I have a love hate relationship with nut roasts, Dad makes a fantastic one (and I do have his recipe) but the mention of nut roasts always pulls up the unpleasant memory of those dry packet ones you mixed with water and cooked in the microwave, cloying, over-salted, and generally yuck. Anyway, I pushed past my initial aversion and I’m really glad I did.

This recipe combines almonds and mushrooms, two foods I can never get enough of. I did ignore the celery stick in the ingredients list, the one vegetable I strongly dislike, and I used a red onion for it’s delicate sweetness while I suspect the recipe intended white as it didn’t specify. My only pause for thought was how to halve the quantities, the method suggested making a half sized roast in a 1lb loaf tin or a full-size one in a 20cm ring tin; not that my maths is bad but how do you halve three eggs? My solution was to use two smaller eggs and not add the splash of water. Other than that minor mathematical challenge this roast was a doddle to make. I liked this so much I made it again last week and even the firmly carnivorous Railway Modeller found it palatable in place of stuffing with his roast dinner.

5 out of 5 for clear instructions and ease of making.

5 out of 5, plus a bonus point, for tastiness.

Also, something which is unheard of from me as I always complain recipes don’t go as far as they say they will, I got more portions out of this than the recipe suggests!

A speedy supper

Wanting something quick and easy to cook after a late shift, I decided to try the Mushroom Stroganoff recipe from the pages of The World Vegetarian Cookbook. Fry, or sauté if we’re being precise, some onion with some theoretical celery, then add some mushrooms and sauté a bit longer; herbs and stock follow, with some yoghurt at the last minute. The recipe reckoned on 30 minutes for preparation and cooking but I’m pretty sure I shaved it down to 15. Obviously, I skipped the celery, choosing to replace it with garlic which is a zillion times tastier!

5 out of 5 for ease of making.

4 out of 5 for tastiness.

And a tasty side

Already decided on making the Almond Roast again, which feeds me for most of a week, I decided that last week’s new recipe should be an accompaniment to it. A few dishes caught my eye but most were similar to things I make without referring to a recipe or didn’t quite lend themselves to working with both my main roast and The Railway Modeller’s pie. In the end it was a new, to me, method of cooking new potatoes which I decided to try. The Greens Cookbook gave the technique for New Potatoes and Garlic Baked in Parchment. As the oven was going to be in use anyway making maximum use of it’s capacity seemed a sensible idea. Also, roast garlic cloves are far nicer than they have any right to be and I was definitely interested to know if baked garlic cloves were as tasty.

This is a great way to cook new potatoes. I think we both enjoyed these; though the Railway Modeller declined to try his garlic cloves, giving them all to me. Garlic cooked like this is almost as good as roasted but it doesn’t quite have that fabulous texture, needing scraping out of it’s skin instead of sucking out. Jerusalem artichokes are freshly onto the shelves at work this week so I’m thinking of trying those cooked with this technique.

5 out of 5 for clear instructions and ease of cooking.

5 out of 5 for tastiness (there’s not really a lot that could go wrong with new potatoes and garlic).

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Leeky Asparagus Soup

Published June 4, 2014 by Storm

The best of this season’s veg’

It can’t be beaten, locally grown asparagus that is. I know the supermarkets try to tempt us with asparagus year round but that just doesn’t work for me. Part of the joy of asparagus is that it has a relatively short season; I indulge, as far as budget will allow, while that season lasts but before I can make myself sick of it or start to feel guilty about the extravagance of it the season is over. Asparagus season marks Spring transitioning to Summer and, while we’ve already had some uncomfortably warm nights, I do relish the longer days and lighter evenings. White asparagus is different, I’ve never seen it UK grown and it’s fiddly to prepare from fresh (I have done so when I was treated to a bunch from Germany), and I do occasionally use it from jars in the later part of the year but green is to be enjoyed in season from local growers.

Souped not steamed

Usually I steam asparagus and serve it with, well, anything really! It pairs well with French toast and is fabulous alongside baked mushrooms with goats’ cheese. This week though I was offered some beautiful asparagus at a discounted price, it would have been rude to say no so I bought three bunches and tried the Asparagus Soup recipe in The Greens Cookbook. 

There’s no cheating in this recipe, it starts with using the ends of the asparagus stems and the greens of the leeks to make a stock. Boiling the stock up is the longest part of the proceedings, once the stock is made it takes about 10 minutes to make the soup itself. Instructions are given for making this either a clear soup or a creamy one; we had cream open in the fridge so I opted to make the slightly more decadent version. This soup was easy to make, probably just as well since I was making it late at night to have some for the freezer and some to re-heat over the next couple of days.

I might make this again, if I get another chance to buy good quality bargain asparagus, but I’ll do a couple of things differently if I do. When I make the stock I’ll reduce the volume of water used but keep to the same quantity of asparagus stalks, I might also add a second bayleaf, as it was almost too delicately flavoured a stock and I had half as much again as I needed for the soup. I’ll also reduce the leek content and possibly increase the asparagus as the flavour of the leeks was attempting to overpower the flavour of the asparagus. It was tasty but definitely more a leek and asparagus soup than an asparagus one.

5 out of 5 for clear instructions and ease of cooking

3.5 out of 5 for flavour

I froze a tub of this soup, which I defrosted and reheated a month after I made it. The flavour of the asparagus came through much more in the portion that had been frozen than it had when I first made it.

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