Eat Tapas Day Monday 28th February 2011

I have been sent an email about Spanish cuisine, produce and ‘Eat Tapas Day’ which is on Monday 28th February.

The information I have been given says that,

The fiesta, which falls on a Monday, is dedicated to the great Spanish custom of accompanying drinks with a small plate of food or ‘tapa’. Tradition has it that barmen in the Andalusian capital Seville, began the practice by placing slices of ham or cheese on top of glasses of sherry to protect them from flies; ‘tapa’ literally translates as ‘cover’ in Spanish. Tapas have since developed into a national obsession with most bars in Spain specialising in a particular dish. Going from bar to bar and trying a variety of tapas in each, known as ‘tapear’, is the favoured night out for Andalusians.

On ‘Eat Tapas Day’ the UK public is encouraged to have a go at making their own tapas feast or to search out their nearest Spanish restaurant. The farmers chose the 28th of February as it coincides with ‘Andalusia Day’, an important public holiday in Andalusia celebrating the region’s autonomy, culture and famous local produce such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines.

Spain’s southern region of Andalusia is the home of much of what we think of as typically Spanish. It’s the birthplace of flamenco and fans and home to postcard-perfect sun-bleached villages. The cuisine is just as famous in its own right: gazpacho, Ibérico ham and sherry are some of the more well known Andalusian delicacies.

The area is nicknamed “Europe’s Vegetable Garden”, and fresh produce such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines have always been at the heart of Andalusian cooking. The region is also the world’s largest producer of olive oil! Enjoying a taste of Andalusia’s healthy and vibrant cuisine has never been easier, as lots of the region’s finest fresh produce is available in UK supermarkets and green grocers.

I was also sent a series of recipes to share with you and here is my favourite Spanish recipe:

Andalusian Chicken Stew with Peppers

Andalusian Chicken Stew With Peppers

Andalusian Chicken Stew With Peppers

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

2 red peppers

2 green peppers

2 yellow peppers

4 tbsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimentón)

4 chicken legs

50g Serrano ham

250g tomatoes, chopped

250ml white wine

salt and pepper

Preheat the grill to high. Halve the peppers and cook under the grill for 20 minutes.

Place the peppers in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool. When cooled, deseed and peel the peppers then cut into slices.

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the garlic gently for a minute. Remove and reserve. Add the chicken and ham to the pan and cook until the chicken is golden brown. Add the tomatoes, wine, reserved garlic, paprika and the sliced peppers. Cover and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Serve with rice and green beans dressed with olive oil.

Calories per serving-

474kcals

23g fat

5g saturated fat

39g protein

17g carbohydrate

15g sugars

4g fibre

0.5g salt

Let me know if you try this recipe!

For further information on Eat Tapas Day and for more tapas recipes visit www.andalusianfreshproduce.co.uk.

Spinach Beet Growing In Veg Garden & How To Use It

I have been growing spinach beet in the veg garden this year for the very first time. The leaves have started to get big and so I asked Topveg when I could start to harvest the spinach beet leaves.

Once I knew that the leaves were ready to harvest I wasn’t sure how to use them so again an email to Topveg and this is the reply I got,

The tiny leaves are good as salad – just need washing. Better to leave them a bit bigger for cooking as they cook down to nothing. They are lovely cooked – but need draining well – squashing in a collander – excellent with poached egg (quail) on top – or v good in lasagne – Delia has it in her 4 cheese lasagne.

The beauty of it is that it keeps coming- if you take care not to spoil the growing centers of the new leaves as you pick the old. If you can’t keep up with it – you must trim it off to stop it going to seed. Once it does that it stops giving you fresh leaves.

Yesterday we used the spinach beet leaves in a salad with hard boiled guinea fowl eggs. Looking forward to a summer meals using spinach beet leaves. If you have any recupes you would like to share using spinach beet then please let me know.

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How To Grow Pea Shoots

Everyone seems to be talking about growing and eating pea shoots. Heard Holly Willoughby on This Morning this week say that she loves pea shoots.

Farming Friends & TopVeg have now collaborated to create a How To Grow Pea Shoots growing card. The TopVeg website always provide me with excellent seed sowing information.

How To Grow Pea Shoots Instructions

How To Grow Pea Shoots Instructions

If you would like this document as a pdf, just contact farmingfriends and I will email you the document.

I intend to print off copies and then laminate the sheet so that I can use the growing card in the future.

Teachers, children, vegetable growers and anyone interested in growing carrots are welcome to print off this growing card for their own use.

Other growing cards we have already created;

If you have any other growing cards that you would like Farming Friends & TopVeg to create then please leave a comment and we will be happy to create it for you.

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook For Sale Only £3.00

If you would like to grow pea shoots then Thompson and Morgan supply pea seeds.


Vegetable Gardening April 2010

Today (Saturday) has been a gloriously sunny April day so I decided to get out in the veg garden. My veg garden has been abit of a disgrace so this year I am making a concerted effort to keep on top of the dreaded nettles!

A few weeks ago I planted broad beans, peas, runner beans and french beans. Shoots are coming through on the broad beans.

Today I have dug one of my raised beds and pulled out all the remaining nettle roots that were lingering!

I have managed to plant:

  • Radish – french breakfast and sparkler varieties.
  • Lettuce – all year round and little gem varieties.
  • Spinach beet.
  • Beetroot.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Cabbage.
  • Brussel Sprouts.
  • Purple Sprouting Broccolli.
  • Courgettes.
  • Carrots.

Farming Friends & TopVeg have now collaborated to create a series of vegetable growing cards instructions, so click on the links above to read the vegetable growing cards.

We have also written a set of herb growing cards.

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook For Sale Only £3.00

How To Grow Carrots From Seed Instructions

The TopVeg website always provide me with excellent seed sowing information.

Farming Friends & TopVeg have now collaborated to create a How To Grow Carrots growing card.

How To Grow Carrots Instructions

How To Grow Carrots Instructions

If you would like this document as a pdf, just contact farmingfriends and I will email you the document.

I intend to print off copies and then laminate the sheet so that I can use the growing card in the future.

Teachers, children, vegetable growers and anyone interested in growing carrots are welcome to print off this growing card for their own use.

Other growing cards we have already created;

If you have any other growing cards that you would like Farming Friends & TopVeg to create then please leave a comment and we will be happy to create it for you.

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook For Sale Only £3.00

If you would like to grow carrots then Thompson and Morgan supply carrot seeds.



Zucchini Muffin Recipe

Here is a Zucchini Muffin Recipe sent in by Helene of  Countryside Connection and Once Upon A Pine. Helene has also includedwith the recipe recommendations for healthier / dietary substitutions as well as changes she has adopted over the years. The original recipe has been provided with subsitutions and changes noted in brackets. Helene says, “Everyone always loves these and they are definitely a family favourite.”

Zucchini-Nut Muffins

Ingredients:

3 cups flour, sifted (I use half wholemeal flour and half white)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda (American name for bicarbonate of soda)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I love extra spices, so always increase the amount or add some fresh grated nutmeg and a bit of allspice as well as the cinnamon)
1 1/2 cups sugar (Splenda works perfectly for diabetics or those restricting sugar intake; using one cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar is also a great option)
4 large free-range eggs
1 cup oil (I subsitute with 1/4 c. oil needed for moisture content and 3/4 cup homemade applesauce)
2 cups unpeeled, coarsely grated zucchini
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup raisins or sultanas (I prefer sultanas and use a VERY generous 1/2 cup)

Method:

Sift together flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

Combine sugar and eggs in large bowl of electric mixer and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Gradually add oil in slow, steady stream, beating constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add zucchini and vanilla and blend well. Stir in walnuts and raisins.

Fold in dry ingredients just until batter is evenly moistened. Do not overmix.

Note: This works just as well using a large mixing bowl and mixed by hand with a large wooden spoon.

Fill 22 paper-lined muffin cups (or butter cups well if like me you prefer to prepare without paper linings) 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 175 degrees C. for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from pans to cool.

Note: Makes 22 muffins, or if larger muffins are preferred, fill about 16 cups to the top (butter around the top of the muffin tin for easy removal) This recipe can also be used to make a dozen medium size muffins and one small loaf of zucchini bread.

To freeze: Wrap individual muffins or small loaf in foil and when ready to use, simply remove the foil and reheat from frozen in warm oven or smaller toaster oven – tastes freshly baked every time.

Enjoy!

Let me know what you think of Helene’s Zucchini Muffin recipe when you try it.

The Foodies Books By Joanne Roach

As a former teacher and now a farmer’s wife and farmer/smallholder myself, I love books that are fun but still manage to educate children about food, animals or farming. I was delighted to come across The Foodies set of books written by Joanne Roach.

The Foodies Books By Joanne Roach

The Foodies Books By Joanne Roach

“The Foodies Books are a series of 12 illustrated stories for children aged under eight. The books are set in a veggie patch with a different story for each month of the year. In each story the fruit and vegetable characters are in season in the UK during that month. They are a gentle, fun way to get children more used to how basic British fruits and vegetables look and grow, and how the seasons affect our food. Each book also contains some factual information (written by children) and a seasonal recipe which your child can tackle with very little adult help.” Source: The Foodies.org

When I visited the site I was delighted by the video previewing September’s book, “Blackberry’s Sunbathing Day.” I found the story amusing, the language used was interesting and the illustrations are bright and fun.

The Foodies books can be bought individually for £1.99 or a box set of all 12 books for £20.  There are also The Little Foodies Club packages for families, childminders or groups/schools.

The Foodies Books Box Set

The Foodies Books Box Set

I am definately going to be buying my nephew this set of books for Christmas or the family package so that he can receive  a certificate, badge and membership card, and a personally addressed pack every month with the Book Of The Month plus veggie gardening tips, seasonal foods list, colouring sheet, puzzle and activity idea.

Hessian Potato Sacks Available From TopVeg

I am delighted to announce that TopVeg are now selling hessian bags or sacks for potatoes.

The sacks are:

  • 50 x 80cm – not too heavy to lift.

  • ideal for storing potatoes, onions and garlic – allowing them to breathe and they do not sweat.

  • easy for the air to circulate through them.

  • each sack will hold approximately 28lb.
  • Introductory price for 5 sacks £5.45 plus postage & packing (UK only).

    Introductory price for 10 sacks £10.75 plus postage and packing (UK only).


Sorry – this offer is for UK only

To use TopVeg Hessian sacks:

  • fill them with dry potatoes – leave the potatoes out, spread thinly,  to dry naturally before putting in the sacks

  • do not wash the soil off the potatoes because washed potatoes will not store well, just let the soil dry before putting the potatoes into sacks

  • only store healthy potatoes, any damaged, bruised or diseased potatoes will not keep

  • once filled, store the sacks in a cool, dark place

  • check the potatoes regularly to make sure there is no wetness or smell.  If there is remove the offending potatoes.

  • keep inspecting the store for signs of rats and mice
  • TopVeg Hessian potato sacks are suitable for storing onions and garlic.

Caramelised Beetroot

Made caramelised beetroot to accompany beef burgers, mash, carrots and sugar snap peas and it was delicious, so thought I would share the recipe.

Caramelised Beetroot

Caramelised Beetroot

Ingredients

1 large beetroot

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 tablesppoon of balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

Method

  1. Peel and cut up the beetroot into about 8 pieces.
  2. Boil the water.
  3. Place beetroot in boiling water for about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove beetroot from water and chop up into thin strips.
  5. Heat olive oil in frying pan.
  6. Add beetroot strips and fry.
  7. Then add sugar and balsamic vinegar and fry for 10 minutes.

I poured the carmelised beetroot over the burgers and mash and it was delicious. The balsamic vinegar created a sweet sauce.

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Asparagus And Soft Boiled Guinea Fowl Eggs Recipe

I have a glut of guinea fowl eggs which are delicious soft boiled, and in fact my favourite soft boiled egg. My friends over @ TopVeg suggested that I try serving asparagus with soft boiled guinea fowl eggs so here is the recipe.

Asparagus & Soft Boiled Guinea Fowl Eggs

Asparagus & Soft Boiled Guinea Fowl Eggs

Ingredients

  • Bunch of asparagus tips. (5/6 per person)
  • Bread for toasting. (2 per person)
  • Bacon rashers. (2 per person)
  • Large tomatoes. (2 per person)
  • Guinea fowl eggs. (4 per person)
  • Virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for seasoning.

Method

  1. Grill bacon until cooked and crispy or to your liking.
  2. Grill tomatoes.
  3. Boil apsaragus until cooked.
  4. Boil water for guinea fowl egg and then when boiling add guinea fowl eggs which take 3 to 3 and a half minutes to soft boil.
  5. Let guinea fowl eggs cool and then peel carefully.
  6. Toast bread.
  7. Butter the toast and squash tomatoes onto the toast.
  8. Layer on the grilled bacon rashers.
  9. Add the asparagus tips.
  10. Add the guinea fowl eggs to the top of the dish and then cut in half so that the yolk runs onto the dish.
  11. Sprinkle the dish with a little virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to season.
  12. Enjoy!

Do you have any good recipes for using guinea fowl eggs or asparagus, if so I’d love to hear them.