Seabass and leek bake

There’s a chap in our town who’s a keen allotment keeper. He grows so much stuff that often he will put a basket outside his house where you can buy vegetables. Driving past last week, I noticed the piles of booty and pulled over for a good old rummage. I snaffled up a bag of purple sprouting broccoli, a bag of leeks and a bag of parsnips – for the grand old price of £1.50. Dutifully posting the money through his door, I whizzed off home with my haul.

Last night we decided to do something with the leeks. I also had a bag of spring greens that needed using up. The leeks and greens were chopped up and soaked in cold water – this both cleans them up and brings anything slightly on the wilty side back to life.

 

Leek and spring greens

Leek and spring greens

The leeks and greens were then sweated down with garlic and white wine, and a tub of creme fraiche was added at the end. This mixture was transferred into an oven-proof dish. We then added two seabass steaks to the pan and lightly cooked them with some lemon slices, for extra flavour. These were then laid on top of the leeks.

 

Seabass steaks

Seabass steaks

Last weekend I made a batch of cheese scones – so to use these up, they were sliced and laid on the top – a bit like dumplings. A generous scattering of cheese was added to the top, and the whole lot was popped in the oven at 180 for 30 minutes.

Seabass and leek bake

Seabass and leek bake

The result? Absolutely blooming delicious! And there is enough leftover for my lunch today!

The cost: Leeks 50p, Greens 65p, Seabass steaks reduced to £1.50, creme fraiche 60p… so well under £3 for three portions. And who said you couldn’t eat fab food on a budget!

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Cauliflower cheese soup

II peeked at my cauliflowers – which had been going great guns a week or so ago – and was slightly dismayed to find the end two weren’t firm, nutty balls of whiteness. They’d sort of lost the plot and started sprouting out from any old where.

Cauliflowers that have sprouted

Cauliflowers that have sprouted

I found out that this can happen in hot weather… and yes, it’s been hot. To try to save the others from the same fate I’ve folded lots of leaves over the white bits to try to keep them cool.

Imagining the hoots of laughter from my family as I served them up for dinner, I decided that these little beauties were not destined for the table. So I gave them a new lease of life in a soup…

Serves 4

You will need:
A medium/large cauliflower (or equivalent in straggly ones)
1 medium onion
1 medium potato
1 vegetable stock cube
1 litre of water
A generous glug of milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Roughly chop the onion, potato and cauliflower and add to a large pan.
Add the water and stock cube, bring to the boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Blend until smooth, add the milk and serve.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just before serving, grate a sprinkling of cheddar cheese on the top.  For veg that wasn’t going to make it to the table, I think this is a fine alternative. And tasty to boot!

Cauliflower cheese soup

Cauliflower cheese soup

Eat your greens

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As my cabbages have started to heart up nicely, I’ve been trimming off some of the outer leaves to let more light and air around the plants and give them a bit more space to grow.

The trimmings could well go into the compost heap, or provide a quick snack for the chickens, but in an effort not to waste anything I’ve grown I thought I’d concoct them into some culinary delights.  A quick look on the internet confirmed they were, in fact, edible, so excited about harvesting something other than lettuce and radish from the garden, I set to work gathering the leaves.

The brassica bed

The brassica bed

As they have been fully exposed to light, the leaves are dark green, coarse and more strongly flavoured than cabbage. They also happen to be rich in vitamins A, B, C and K, folic acid and dietary fibre.  Apparently they contain no cholesterol and almost no fat, and are an excellent source of natural antioxidant. With all that goodness going on, we’d be fools not to try them!

On bringing my haul into the kitchen, the other half raised an eyebrow and questioned, “What are they?”

“These…” I replied proudly.. “are dinner!”

Being free from insects, and having never even sniffed a pesticide spray, the cabbage just needed a quick wash to remove any surface dirt. I then cut off the stalks and finely shredded the leaves.

A quick steam and a sauté with some finely chopped, fried onions just before serving, and Voila!  A healthy addition to the Sunday lunch vegetables: which went down a treat.

Apparently you can also lightly boil the leaves then wrap them around fillings to make stuffed cabbage rolls, or even add shredded leaves to a stir fry.

Spring green soup. Soup made from the outer brassica leaves

Spring green soup. Soup made from the outer brassica leaves

We have plenty, so I decided to turn some more of my leafy offerings into a hearty soup. True, it’s a bit whiffy whilst cooking, and the finished product ends up a violent shade of green, but it’s actually quite delicious – and freezes well. The rest of the family are not quite convinced so it looks like I’m souping it alone for the moment.

I’m sure to have the last laugh though. When I’m a size zero, with the complexion of a nineteen year old, they’ll soon be in the queue…

This one appeared in the Hinckley Times on 20 June 2013

The Hinckley Times 20 June 2013

The Hinckley Times 20 June 2013

Spring green soup

As my cabbages have started to heart up, I’ve been trimming off the outer leaves to let more light and air into the plants.

To save throwing the leaves away, I decided to make soup from them. As they have been fully exposed to light, they are dark green, coarse and strongly flavoured. They also happen to be rich in folic acid, vitamin C and dietary fibre. Winner!

Serves 4

You will need:
10 large outer brassica leaves
1 medium onion
1 medium potato
1 vegetable stock cube
1 litre of water
A generous glug of milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Roughly chop the onion, potato and brassica leaves and add to a large pan.
Add the water and stock cube, bring to the boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Blend until smooth, add the milk and serve.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

The finished product is a bit whiffy whilst cooking, and ends up a violent green colour, but trust me. It’s delicious – and freezes well.

There you have it. Top notch, nutritious and above all… FREE… soup in just half an hour.

Spring green soup

Spring green soup