Bank holiday Monday: Burgers & crumble

It’s been a full-on bank holiday weekend. We have seen two of our favourite families; the Olivers on Friday night and the Osbornes Sunday night. The weather yesterday was not too bad, by British bank holiday standards, so we got out the barbecue and planned a sumptuous vegetarian feast. Now, one of the best things about spending all day cooking for friends, is that dinner the next day is always fast to prepare and delicious.

We got up to the allotment for about five hours this afternoon and left it feeling like it was finally looking not too bad for May. We emptied the loam from the wooden compost area, filled it with manure to rot down, got the runners and broad beans into the bean bed, got the red onion sets in and transplanted the parsnips, wired the raspberry bed posts even higher, attached the guttering that fell of the shed to the polytunnel frame and had a fire! Okay, stuff that should have mostly been done in March, but at least we have some greenery in some of the beds now. Late May allotment

The strawberries are fully in flower, and we have some ripening in the polytunnel, the raspberry flowers are developing and the rhubarb is looking plump. So we cut some off to bring home for crumble. Burgers and crumble not a classic combination, but so quick, simple and fresh tasting.

Menu: Carrot and chickpea burgers and Rhubarb crumble. The burger mix, pitta breads, bulgur wheat salad and tikka marinated vegetable skewers were left over from yesterday’s dinner.

The vegetables were cooked as a curry and served with the bulgur instead of rice, and the burgers were fried on the hob – much faster than trying to barbecue although they suit the char-grilled taste well.

Carrot & Chickpea burgers:

  • 750g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • zest 1 lemon, plus 1 tsp juice
  • 150ml pot natural (or soya) yogurt

Based on the bbc good food recipe –
Method:

  1. Put 1/3 grated carrot in a food processor with the chickpeas, onion, 2 tbsp tahini, cumin and egg. Whizz to a thick paste, then scrape into a large bowl. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan, tip in the remaining carrot and cook for 8-10 mins, stirring until the carrot is softened – it will become more golden as it is cooked. Add this cooked carrot to the whizzed paste with the breadcrumbs and lemon zest. Add seasoning, then mix together well with your hands.
  2. Divide the mixture and shape into burgers (we got around 12 small burgers from this quantity). Cover and chill until serving. Mix the yogurt with the remaining tahini and lemon juice, then chill.
  3. Fire up the barbecue, or heat a non-stick frying pan and brush the burgers with the remaining oil. Cook the burgers for 5 mins on each side, until golden and crisp. We served with pitta breads straight from the oven.

Pittas served with burgers. Carrot and chickpea burgers.

While the burgers were in the pan, the rhubarb was washed, chopped and put on the hob. It was not too long a wait for piping hot crumble, again, courtesy of a quick search on the BBC good food website.

Rhubarb oat crumble:

  • 500g rhubarb, chopped into chunks the length of your thumb
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 50g oats
  • 85g butter, chilled (or vegan equivalent, like Pure)
  • 50g light brown muscovado sugar

Method:

  1. Tip the rhubarb into a saucepan with the sugar. Cover and simmer on a very low heat for 15 mins. When soft and sweet enough, pour the rhubarb into a medium baking dish.
  2. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. To make the topping, rub the flour and butter together until you have a soft, crumbly topping. Then add the sugar and oats, mixing together by hand or machine. Spread the topping over the rhubarb and bake for 30 mins or until golden brown on top.

Cooking rhubarb.   Mixing the crumble.   Crumble out of the oven.

Rhubarb oat crumble.

We served with a spot of Alpro soya cream.

A delicious end to a wonderful weekend full of friends, laughter, fresh air and good food.

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A family dinner despite the news

Okay, this isn’t really a place to discuss politics, or the news…except that we do not live in a vacuum and everything we do or believe we are choosing is influenced  at some political level.

Friday 8th May 2015 was the day we woke up to the news that the Conservative party had done comparatively well in the General Election, and over the day the news led to the conclusion of events: we have a majority, albeit a small one, tory government.

Neither of us really knew how we were going to vote, right up until walking into our village hall. We live in a ‘safe seat’ constituency, so for us, it was all about how to most effectively register our protest at the current political system. I have met our Conservative MP several times. I quite like the guy; engages at whatever level in community affairs and has come out on a Saturday morning at my request to attend to a localised issue that is really important to our local youths, with – at the time- a three month old baby: I respect that. However, I do not share a political perspective with him, or the majority of voters locally. I believe there is a better way to organise social living on our precious planet; only one party represents my views remotely closely.

I am proud that I added my voice to the 1.1+ million voters who support the Green Party, and in proportional representational terms, lend legitimacy to Caroline Lucas‘s sole voice in Westminster, even though she only -technically- represents Brighton on a national scale.

So what can a green-minded family do in times of such despairing news? Well, we cooked a lovely meal and reflected on what is important to us.

Dinner: Tempura vegetables followed by Thai Green Vegetable Curry with a nice bottle of relatively local Pinot Gris. Heavier whites go better with stronger spiced foods, and wines from the Alsace region are usually a safe option for curries, particularly Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

Dinner menu: Tempura Veggies followed by Thai Green Vegetable Curry with a bottle of Pino Gris from AlsaceTempura Veggies:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 10g baking powder
  • Iced, sparkling water
  • Selection of vegetables cut into chunks

Method: Stir the flour and baking powder together in a bowl and gradually add the water until it is thick enough to cover your spoon / finger / mushroom quarter. Don’t over mix: you are trying to slow the developing gluten and any lumps in the batter mean less absorption of fat. The colder the water, the better. Ale (for a heavier batter) and other carbonated waters (soda, tonic) aid the lightness of the batter, literally through the air bubbles.

Plunge into a wok with heated vegetable oil and fry until lightly browned.

Remove and drain as best you can.

Serve with soy sauce, infused with chillies / coriander /  finely chopped spring onions – to taste (chilli-free for our boys).

Frying tempura battered veggiesDraining tempura veggiesAubergine, purple sprouting broccoli and mushroom Tempura battered vegetables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Green Vegetable Curry:

Damian based this course on Jamie Oliver’s dish, but with the following ingredients (and no fish sauce, obviously):

  • Butternut Squash
  • Yellow pepper
  • Aubergine

I can’t recommend making your own paste enough. We have a Magimix Micro for whizzing up all our massalas and curry pastes. It makes all the difference when you can pick fresh herbs from your allotment or select them from your local Asian foods store.

Serve on steamed Jasmine rice and top with loosely chopped fresh coriander.

Infusing the vegetables in the pasteThai Green Vegetable Curry DSC_1810

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fabulous family dinner that gave us time to reflect on what is important to us, what we must keep on striving towards to do our part in sustaining a fairer society and reducing impact on our planet. None of the vegetables in this dinner, apart from the garlic in the paste, were grown on our allotment: it is too soon in the season for us. But what is important is to do what we can to reduce our environmental impact and to keep talking about politics at home!

To finish, here is a photo of Sarah meeting Natalie Bennett (leader of the Green Party) along with Fiona Protheroe, a local Green Party council candidate in Skipton in 2013…a very positive moment in local activism.

Fiona and Sarah with Natalie Bennett - leader of the Green Party - in 2013
Fiona and Sarah with Natalie Bennett – leader of the Green Party – in 2013