Tag Archives: organic veg

Juicing, blending and blitzing – what’s the difference?

Fresh juices and smoothies are often spoken of in the same breath. Superficially they are very similar; both colourful cocktails, good veg box user-uppers, and tasty shortcuts towards your 5-a-day. But from a culinary perspective, they’re wholly different beasts.

Even within the world of smoothies, there are vital distinctions: the drinks that can be created in standard blenders are entirely different to the blitzes produced by highly powered drink machines.

If you’re looking to eat more veg in 2018, fresh organic drinks are a good place to start. Here’s our handy guide to the virtues of each method, to help you get the most from every glass.

Juicing

When you think of juice, you might think of fruit first and foremost. You can stick to all-fruit blends if you have a very sweet tooth, but many vegetables also produce tasty juices – and their complex flavours will allow you to create far more satisfying mixes.

From beetroot to broccoli, most veg can be juiced; all it takes is the right complementary flavours to make them sing. Earthy roots or bitter greens will reveal their charms when combined with sweet fruit, a squeeze of sharp citrus, and perhaps some aromatic fresh herbs or spices.

Juicers extract flavoursome, vitamin and mineral-rich liquid, and leave the pulp of your fruit and veg behind. Losing the fibrous stuff means that you don’t need extra liquid or other additions– fresh produce is the only ingredient. There’s also not too much prep; you only need to remove strongly flavoured peels like citrus, and any bits that are tough enough to challenge your juicer (such as pineapple or melon skins and large fruit stones).

However, losing the bulk also means that fresh juice won’t fill you up – unlike blends and blitzes. If you just want a zingy drink to enjoy alongside food for an extra shot of goodness, fresh juice is the thing.

Blends

Standard kitchen blenders can handle soft fruits and tender raw veg such as spinach, but nothing with a high density of dry matter such as uncooked roots or apples. If you put a raw beetroot into a standard blender, you aren’t going to end up with a thick, smooth drink – you’ll just have shards of beetroot floating in watery stuff. You need to either stick to soft fruit and veg, or be prepared to cook certain items before blending them.

Because you’re going to be consuming the whole fruit or veg, there’s different prep involved: peel and chop any bits you don’t want to drink! To keep it at the right consistency with all that fibrous bulk, you’ll also need to add a liquid medium. Coconut water, fruit juice, dairy or nut milks – this can be whatever you fancy.

Blends may require different thinking to juices, but the effort pays off with some nutritional perks. Consuming the whole fruit or veg rather than just extracting the juice means that you’re getting all of its goodness, and keeping all the fibre makes the drinks quite filling.

Blends also produce a higher yield; you could potentially get several glasses from the same amount of fruit and veg it takes to produce one glass of juice.

The final virtue of a blend is that they’re made in standard blenders which can serve many functions in your kitchen. If you want to create a rich, nourishing drink without buying any extra bits of kit, blends are a good way to go.

Blitz

The highest horsepower option. The mighty blitzing machines that are made specifically to produce drinks can handle just about whatever you chuck at them, including uncooked roots, tough stems, and extras such as nuts, seeds and oats. All you need to do is provide enough liquid to blitz them into.

That flexibility to use up a wide variety of raw fruit and veg is the one vital difference between blitzes and blends. Otherwise, their virtues are very similar: to make a blitz, you’ll need to consider liquids and other additions – but, you’ll enjoy a higher yield, the goodness of the whole fruit, and something more like a meal.

Why organic?
Whether you’re blending, blitzing, or juicing, it’s always best to use organic produce. With organic, you don’t need to worry about pesticides or wax on the skin, but can process the whole fruit or veg – getting all the goodness and flavour without adding any chemical nasties to your drink.

Want to create your own fresh organic drinks? Our organic juicing box is packed with sweet, succulent fruit and veg. Or, for more inspiration, try our organic juicing bags, each containing a tasty recipe and everything you need to make it.

Guy’s news: Stunted growth, spotty sprouts & Sevilles

It’s wild, wet and windy out there. The sun, when we see it, barely reaches the north-facing fields even at midday. If I were a bear, I would find a warm cave and take a nap. Nothing grows in the first two weeks of January, but the stunt doesn’t last long. By the end of the month, kales, leeks and cabbages will begin to grow again as the days start to draw out and the noon sun starts to climb. On our French farm, just 200 miles south, we’ll be planting lettuces before the end of the month. I can’t explain it, but even growers in areas like southern California, where their winter is similar to our summer, avoid sowing in early January. A druid might put it down the need for solar rebirth; a bear might take it as a chance for a nap.

I once got berated as a heartless bully by a number of you for being unforgiving about the repeated failures, and consequent lack of quality, of one of our cauliflower growers (Mr M for those who remember). I ate humble pie, apologised, and we went on buying his caulis, but it made no difference in the end; he continued to hope for the best rather than weed his crop, and went bust soon after. It might have been kinder to be harder sooner; it is a hard judgement to know when to stop working with a grower. Riverford is extraordinary within our industry for the long-term relationships we have with suppliers. It’s something I feel very proud of and hope survives me, but sometimes the farm or the farmer is wrong for the crop and no amount of ethics or support will change the inevitable outcome; it just prolongs the agony and undermines other growers. If you were one of the 20% of customers who had to trim small, spotty Brussels sprouts this year, I am sorry; it was the third year of poor sprouts from this grower, but we won’t give up on him quite yet.

On a lighter note, to mark two more successful long-term relationships, the first blood oranges from Sicily and Sevilles from Ave Maria Farm in Mairena del Alcor have arrived and are as excellent as in previous years. Now is the time to make marmalade. You can even cook alongside me on our YouTube channel if you need a little guidance.

Guy Singh-Watson

Growing your Christmas veg

blog-bannerDecember has arrived, bringing with it a burst of Christmas spirit. It’s finally time to put up the tree and crack open the advent calendar. There are fairy lights to be untangled, presents to be picked, and all sorts of treats to eat and drink.

Here on the farm, December doesn’t mark the beginning of the festivities, but the culmination of many months of work. We have been planning, planting, and tending our Christmas crops for the best part of the year, making sure everything is ready for the big day.

Here’s a little insight into what it takes to put some of the most iconic veg of the season on your plate, and how they are coming along.

Brussels sprouts

growing sprouts for Christmas

Up in Lancashire, Dan Gielty (otherwise known as Organic Dan) planted our Brussels sprouts all the way back in March and April. That might seem like a long time to produce such a tiny vegetable, but the slow growth allows their flavour to develop, and they really do taste better for it.

They aren’t the sprout-cutterprettiest to look at – organic sprouts never are, as the dense canopy of leaves provides a cosy environment for bugs and blight – but they are plump, healthy, and plentiful. In the past, we’ve had some issues with empty spaces on the stalks, but this lot are chock-a-block.

When the sprouts are mature, experienced pickers climb aboard Dan’s ‘beast’ of a cutter (pictured), and harvest them by hand. It’s exhausting work, but worth it: having put so much time into our sprouts, each one is precious. It would be a shame for them to be bumped and bruised, or picked before they were ready by an undiscriminating machine.

Red cabbage

red-cabbage1

Christmas cabbages were put in the soil back in June and July, by our neighbour here in South Devon, Andy Hayllor. While they grow, the plants look surprisingly plain: a sea of dusky silver, rather than the vibrant red you might expect. Come harvest time, the dull, tatty outer leaves – nature’s own packaging – are trimmed away, revealing the bright, glossy heads inside.

red-cabbageAndy is growing the same variety we always use. As well as being heavy and well-packed with leaves, and possessing that deep, earthy flavour so distinctive to red cabbage, they also store particularly well. The heads that were cut, trimmed, and stored in late November will still be fresh and tasty for the boxes in Christmas week.

 

 

King Edward potatoes

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There is no better potato for a Christmas roastie than the King Edward. They’re so good, they might just upstage the turkey. However, they are also notoriously difficult to grow; prone to blight, and to producing too many tubers at too small a size.

The tastiest, fluffiest roastie is worth the extra effort – and the risk. All it takes is a farmer who understands the plant. Enter the Farley brothers, from Cullompton; they have been growing our King Edwards for the past 5 years, so they really know their stuff. Their farm also has the optimum soil: fine and sandy, so that it is still diggable in winter. Rather than hurrying the potatoes out of the ground before it hardens up, we can leave them to grow until the last possible moment, getting more flavoursome all the while.

Parsnips

It’s nigh-on impossible to get a uniform crop of organic parsnips. They are very variable in their germination, with seeds taking anywhere between 10 and 30 days to emerge; this inevitably means that the roots will end up a range of shapes and sizes. We don’t mind a bit of wonkiness – it’s led to some amusement here on the farm. You may have seen a few of our favourites on Facebook.

gary-and-neil-farley

Our parsnips are also being grown by the Farleys and this year’s quality is exceptional. Their wonderfully sweet, which is always intensified after the first frost which converts some of their starch to sugar.

Enjoy the feast
A lot of love goes into our Christmas veg boxes. There is so much planning to be done before anything even goes into the ground – then come the long months of care while they slowly grow, and the back-breaking work of harvesting by hand in bleak winter weather. But sitting down to an organic Christmas table laden with all our festive favourites, we know that it was worth every moment.

Pancake day Riverford style

With Pancake Day fast approaching we thought we’d offer a little inspiration for how to do Shrove Tuesday the Riverford way. Although the classic lemon and sugar combo takes a lot of beating, we think our veg-packed savoury pancakes are pretty good contenders.

The key to a good pancake is to use an oil suitable for frying at high temperatures, and without a strong flavour, such as sunflower or groundnut oil. Plain flour can be substituted for buckwheat, which goes particularly well with savoury fillings; in France, crêpes are usually made with buckwheat. It’s also gluten-free.

The possibilities for savoury fillings are as broad as your imagination, but here are a few of our favourites. They are, of course, are all about the veg!

souffled broccoli & stilton pancakes

prep & cook 50 mins, serves 2

Souffled-Broccoli-&-Stilton-Pancakes

110g buckwheat flour
100g purple sprouting broccoli (or calabrese)
50g watercress
3 eggs
500ml milk
50g butter
1 tsp dijon or coarse grain mustard
75g stilton

Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Scoop 2 good tsp of the buckwheat flour into a small bowl or mug and keep to one side. Wash the purple sprouting broccoli and watercress. Next, make the pancake batter; start by putting the remaining flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Crack in 1 of the eggs. Add a good splash of milk and whisk together to form a thick, smooth paste. Gradually whisk in more milk, until you’ve used half of the milk, whisking as you go. Whisk in 2 tbsp cold water.

Preheat your oven to 200˚C/180˚C/gas 5. Melt ½ the butter with 1 tbsp oil in a small pan. Remove from the heat once the butter has melted. Use kitchen paper dipped in a little of the butter and oil to grease a non-stick pancake pan (or 20-21cm frying pan). Ladle in enough batter to just cover the pan, rolling it around to spread it out. Cook on a medium-high heat for 1 ½ mins, until small bubbles start appearing. Carefully turn with a fish slice or spatula. Cook for another min, until golden underneath. Remove to a plate, cover with greaseproof paper or foil, and repeat until you have 4 good pancakes. Grease a baking dish with a tiny bit of the remaining butter, just about ⅕.

Melt the rest of the butter in a pan, add the reserved flour and cook gently, stirring, for 2 mins. Lower the heat right down and gradually whisk in the ⅔ of the remaining milk. Increase the heat slightly and stir until the sauce has thickened. Add the mustard, crumble in the stilton and season to taste. Leave to cool for 3 mins. Meanwhile, boil the broccoli in the pan of water for 3 mins. Drain.

Divide the remaining 2 eggs into yolks and whites. Stir the egg yolks and drained broccoli into the sauce. In a separate bowl (wash and use the pancake batter bowl), whisk the 2 egg whites until they form soft, but firm peaks. Fold a large spoonful of the egg white into the broccoli mixture, not worrying too much about the air bubbles, then very carefully fold in the rest, keeping as much air in the mix as you can. Put the pancakes in a baking dish and spoon some of the veg mixture down the middle of each pancake. Fold the over on both sides to make an open ended parcel. Bake for approx 20 mins, depending on your oven, until the top of the pancake has crisped up and the middle expanded and puffed up.

Pick any very larger stalks off the watercress. Serve with the pancakes, when cooked.

chilli bean & veg pancakes

prep & cook 45 mins, serves 2

Chilli-Bean-&-Veg-Pancakes

1 onion
oil for frying eg sunflower or light olive
1 courgette
1 red pepper
1 carrot
2 garlic cloves
100g buckwheat flour
1 egg
500ml milk
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp dried thyme
1 dried chilli – add to taste
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tin of plum tomatoes
1 tin of red kidney beans
50g salad leaves
25g butter
yogurt, to serve

Peel and finely dice the onion. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a good-sized, heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and fry on a low heat, stirring now and then, for 10 mins, until soft and translucent without colouring. Meanwhile, cut trim the top of the courgette and cut into small dice (approx 1cm, keep them small so they cook in time). Cut the pepper in ½, deseed and cut into similar sized dice. Wash, peel and finely dice the carrot. Peel and finely chop, grate or crush 2 garlic cloves. After 10 mins, add the courgette, pepper and carrot to the onion. Gently fry for 5 mins, stirring now and then.

While the veg cooks, make the pancake batter: put the 100g of flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Crack in the egg. Add a good splash of milk and whisk together to form a thick, smooth paste. Gradually whisk in more milk, until you’ve used ½ of the carton, whisking as you go. Whisk in 3 tbsp cold water.

Next, add the garlic, cumin, coriander and dried thyme to the veg. Chop the dried chilli in ½ and crumble in ½. Fry for 2 mins. Add the tomato purée and cook for 1 min. Add the tin of tomatoes. Season and stir well. Simmer for 20 mins, until the veg is tender. Taste halfway through and add more chilli if you like. As soon as you add the tinned tomatoes, drain the kidney beans into a colander. Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Add ½ the beans to the tomato and veg as soon as you’ve done this (keep the rest in a tub in the fridge. Use in lunchbox salads or other meals within 2 days).

Next, make the pancakes: melt the butter with 1 tbsp oil in a small pan. Remove from the heat once the butter has melted. Put your oven on low: 140˚C/120˚C/gas mark 2. Use kitchen paper dipped in a little of the butter and oil to grease a non-stick pancake pan (or 20-21cm frying pan). Ladle in enough batter to just cover the pan, rolling it around to spread it out. Cook on a medium-high heat for 1 ½ mins, until small bubbles start appearing. Carefully turn with a fish slice or spatula. Cook for another minute, until golden underneath. Remove to a plate, cover with greaseproof paper or foil, and repeat until you have 4 good pancakes. Cover the plate with foil and in the oven to keep the pancakes warm. Once the veg in the chilli bean sauce is tender, check the seasoning, then fill the pancakes. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and salad leaves.

leek & mushroom buckwheat pancakes, with watercress salad

prep & cook 35 mins, serves 2

Leek-&-Mushroom-Buckwheat-Pancakes-with-Watercress-Salad

1 large leek
50g butter, ½ for pancakes, ½ for filling
200g mushrooms
110g buckwheat flour
50g watercress
1 egg
500ml milk, ½ for pancakes, ½ for filling
1 teaspoon dried thyme
75g grated grated cheddar cheese
oil for frying eg sunflower or light olive
1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Wash the leek, cut in half lengthways and finely shred it. Heat ½ the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the leeks and fry on a very low heat for 10 mins, stirring now and then, until soft but not coloured. If they start to catch, add a splash of water and turn the heat down.

Meanwhile, put your oven on a low heat 140˚C/120˚C/gas mark 2. Remove 2 good tsp of the buckwheat flour to a small bowl or mug and keep to one side. Next make the pancake batter: put the 100g of flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Crack in the egg. Add a good splash of milk and whisk together to form a thick, smooth paste. Gradually whisk in more milk, until you’ve used ½ of the carton, whisking as you go. Whisk in 2 tbsp cold water.
Once the leeks have cooked for 10 mins, add the mushrooms and dried thyme. Cook for 3 mins, stirring now and then. Add the reserved 2 tsp of flour. Stir for 2 mins. Gradually stir in the rest of the milk carton. Add the cheese and gently heat until the mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat.

Melt the rest of the butter with 1 tbsp oil in a small pan. Remove from the heat once the butter has melted. Use kitchen paper dipped in a little of the butter and oil to grease a non-stick pancake pan (or 20-21cm frying pan). Ladle in enough batter to just cover the pan, rolling it around to spread it out. Cook on a medium-high heat for 1 ½ mins, until small bubbles start appearing. Carefully turn with a fish slice or spatula. Cook for another minute, until golden underneath. Remove to a plate, cover with greaseproof paper or foil, and repeat until you have 4 good pancakes. Keep warm in the oven. Gently reheat the leek & mushroom mixture. Stir in the Dijon mustard and season to taste. Fill the pancakes with the mixture and serve with the watercress.

Find organic lemons, sugar, or milk for your pancakes, or choose from our organic veg for a savoury twist.

Guy’s Newsletter: hasty veg & a bitter imposition

We are finally enjoying some very welcome cold, dry and bright weather. It will take another week before our most free-draining land dries enough to allow any soil preparation for planting though; spring still feels a long way off. Most winter crops are running four to six weeks ahead of schedule due to the mild winter so far, while our other fields look worryingly bare; it will be three or four months before the spring crops are ready. We still have plenty of roots, kale and leeks, but there will be gaps left by the hasty cauliflowers and cabbages, so we will have to juggle our box contents planning a little.

In contrast to this, over on our farm in France a break in the weather allowed us to plant the first batavia lettuce this week, as the sandy soils there are more forgiving. The first cos lettuce will go into the ground tomorrow; the seed bed was prepared and covered back in October, avoiding the need for any cultivation now when it is difficult to get machinery on the wet land. We plant by hand this early in the year, but still need a tractor to bend hoops and lay the low-level polytunnels that will protect and advance the crop, allowing us to start cutting in late March. Overall our farm in the Vendée has come a long way to filling the UK’s Hungry Gap, but it looks as if that gap might be wider than usual this year. Thankfully, after five years on our own, an organic neighbour will be growing spinach for your boxes in late April and May.

Most of the crop planning for the coming season is done, and seeds and plants ordered with just a few details to refine; I would be grateful if some of you could pass comment on the pale green, solid-ish, bitter and crunchy heads of pain de sucre (salad chicory) that have been in some boxes over the last month. I love growing and eating them and they provide some winter variety without the need to go 1000 miles south, but is this a bitter imposition or do you like them too? There is a very, very brief questionnaire at www.riverford.co.uk/paindesucre; I am just as keen to hear from the haters as the lovers.

Guy Watson

A question about pain de sucre

pain de sucre

Pain de sucre; how much do you like it?

Pain de sucre, also known as sugar loaf chicory, looks like a pale, solid conical cos lettuce, but is actually part of the radicchio family. It has a milder, sweeter flavour and lots of crunch. I am a fan, both as a grower and a cook.

Thanks for taking the time to get this far; only one question to answer.

Thanks for your help
Guy Watson

A visit from The Happy Pear

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The Happy Pear twins, David and Stephen Flynn, are Irish chefs who run a natural food shop, wholefood café and restaurant and sprout farm and do health education talks to, as they put it, “inspire a healthier, happier world”. When they approached us keen to collaborate on our recipe boxes, a quick look at their cook book (a bestseller in Ireland) showed that their love of flavourful, veg-packed, down-to-earth cooking was a brilliant match with our own approach to food at Riverford. Back in November the pair visited us on the farm in Devon, and were as full of energy and warm enthusiasm in person as they are in the cookery videos on their YouTube channel. They had a tour of the farm with Riverford founder Guy Watson, where they harvested leeks and tasted their way through the salad leaves in our polytunnels, before we headed to our development kitchen for a bit of cooking and a photoshoot. They were a delight to have along, and we’re really interested to see how their recipes go down!

IMG_4714A little more background on the boys: After studying business degrees at university, David and Stephen travelled the world tasting as many local dishes and unusual ingredients along the way. When they returned to Ireland, over a decade ago, their aim was to start a food revolution by making fruit and veg sexy, to get involved with their community and drag as many people along for the ride as they possibly could. Today, The Happy Pear is a family and community all about making natural and healthy food mainstream and producing really great tasting products that make it easier for people to be healthier and happier.

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They’ve also created a strong online community and a loyal following across their Social Media platforms and channels. Each week they release videos on The Happy Pear YouTube Channel and they’re also part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube family – the largest foodie community in Europe. David and Stephen live in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland with their families and they really ‘walk their talk’ by eating a wholefood and plant-based diet, practicing yoga, swimming in the sea, keeping bees and smiling every day.

You can order a Happy Pear recipe box, which includes everything you need to make three colourful, flavour-packed dishes for two, here.

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12 veg of Christmas – Christmas cocktail recipes

Celebrate in true Riverford style with our veg & fruit cocktails, perfect to share among friends and family this Christmas and New Year.

Purple Mary

This is basically a Bloody Mary with beetroot purée in place of the tomato. We add a bit of acid in the form of orange and vinegar to replace the acidity of the tomatoes. Make sure you’re guests aren’t too oiled before serving these; beetroot won’t come out of a cocktail dress. I’d advise making the mix the day before at least, as it allows the flavours to marry.

Riverford-purple-mary-cocktail300ml vodka
5cm piece of horseradish
3 tennis ball sized beetroot, boiled or roasted till soft, & skinned
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 orange, juiced
Balsamic vinegar
Tabasco
1 tsp celery salt
Shot of sherry
3 ribs of celery

The first step is to get a loose beetroot purée, not too thick and not too watery. You want to be able to drink it, not have to attack it with a spoon. The reason a Bloody Mary is a divisive drink is that it sits somewhere between a beverage and a meal, and that is down to the body of the tomato juice. Put the beetroot in a food processor or blender and run until smooth, add cold water until you get the texture of thick tomato juice, but don’t forget the vodka will thin it down further. Now grate in the horseradish, add the vodka, sherry, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, and a shake of Tabasco. The next step is to season it with a dash of orange juice and balsamic vinegar until you feel happy with the acidity levels. A pinch more salt may be needed to bring everything alive. Pop in the fridge overnight, give it another stir, a taste and pass through a fine sieve into a jug. Serve in shot glasses with a small celery stick stirrer in each, or in a high-ball glass with a bacon sandwich for some ‘hair of the dog’ the next morning.

clementine gin fizz

serves 1
A gin fizz is classically made with lemon juice for a sweet sour appetiser. This clementine version gives a seasonal twist. The basic ratio is 1 part gin, 2 parts fruit juice, 4 parts carbonated water.

clementine-fizz60ml gin
30ml clementine juice
1 tsp caster sugar
120ml soda or carbonated mineral water
clementine slice/wedge & mint leaf

Muddle the gin, juice and sugar in a jug, or for extra chill, shake over crushed ice in a cocktail maker, if you have one. Pour over a few ice cubes and top up with fizzy water. Serve garnished with fresh mint and a slice of clementine.

mulled cider or apple juice

makes 5 litres
This is from Ben Watson’s mate Cider Andy. He’s adamant that to get the genuine article, you need to use his two-year-old Dartmoor Cider, but any dry, scrumpy type cider will do.

mulled-cider5 litres cider or apple juice
approx 200g dark muscovado
sugar
100g cinnamon sticks
25g allspice powder
a few whole cloves
large pinch of nutmeg
large pinch of ginger

Put all the ingredients in a large pan. Cover with a lid and infuse at 60°C for 30 mins. Strain off the cinnamon sticks and cloves, then reheat to serve. For mulled apple juice, leave out most of the sugar and add a couple of sliced oranges and lemons.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic veg or fruit to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 4 recipes for Christmas party canapés

Today’s post is not strictly-speaking a veg, but these taste too good to miss and canapés and Christmas are made for each other. Share some truly great eating among friends and family with these recipes from our lovely Riverford cook, Bob Andrew. Forget cocktail sausages – try our tomato bruschetta, parsnip blinis and stuffing bombs and celebrate cracking home-cooked organic food this festive period.

Parsnip blinis, Cropwell Bishop, walnuts & honey

makes 12
This is a strong contender to challenge the king of festive finger-food, blinis and smoked salmon. This is inspired by a salad of honeyed parsnips, blue cheese and walnuts that often appears on the Riverford Field Kitchen menu during the colder and darker months. It is a classic blini recipe, replacing one root vegetable with another.

parsnip-blinis3 Large parsnips
2 Large eggs, separated into yolks & whites
Dessert spoon of rice flour
30ml crème fraiche
30ml milk
Butter and olive oil
100g Cropwell Bishop or another good quality blue cheese
handful of toasted walnut halves.
1 tablespoon of honey
salt and pepper

Chop the parsnips into ½ inch chunks, removing any bits of core that feel woody. Sauté gently in a pan of butter and olive oil until nice and soft. Purée in a food processor, season with salt and pepper, leave to cool in the fridge. Mix the egg yolks, rice flour, cream and milk with the parsnip purée. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the parsnip mix trying, to preserve a much air as you can. Heat a frying pan of olive oil and butter until the butter starts to foam. Drop a few spoonfuls of the mix into the pan, smoothing each in to a 2-3 inch disc. Cook until golden brown on one side and flip over to finish the other. Cook in batches. To serve, top with some crumbled blue cheese, mix the walnuts into the honey and pop one on top. These blinds can be cooked and frozen well ahead of time. Defrost and warm through in a low pan or oven to refresh.

Tea-soaked prunes, crispy bacon & toasted almonds

makes 24
The prunes and their syrup also make a great accompaniment to your muesli or porridge for breakfast, or with rice pudding or warm custard for dessert, without the bacon of course.

tea-soaked-prunes24 good quality prunes
4 rashers of dry cured smoked bacon
24 whole almonds
1 earl grey tea bag
¼ of a cinnamon stick
1 clove
1 star anise
a thick strip of orange zest
100g brown sugar

To tea-soak the prunes, stir the sugar into 500ml of boiling water, add the prunes, spices and tea bag, and leave overnight. Cook the bacon, in a pan or in the oven, until crispy. Toast the almonds in the oven until golden brown. To serve, snap the bacon into 6 pieces. Cut a slit in the side of each prune, push a whole almond inside and jam in a shard of bacon. Slide a cocktail stick through the middle so your guests don’t get sticky fingers.

stuffing bombs

makes 20
Think of this as a cross between a scotch egg and arancini. If you’re making stuffing anyway just make a little extra for these nibbles. I recommend making 2-3 times the amount you think you’ll need; I’ve seen people push their loved ones aside to get to the last few.

stuffing-bombs500g of herby sausage-meat stuffing (we add 100g of coarse breadcrumbs soaked in milk, squeezed & added to 350g of sausage meat, the zest of one orange, 1 large red onion diced & cooked till soft, a couple of finely chopped dried apricots & some sage, thyme & parsley finely chopped.)
100g fresh mozzarella or other good melting cheese
1 cup of flour
2 eggs, beaten
200g panko breadcrumbs
sunflower oil for frying
salt and pepper

To make each one, take about 40g of the stuffing and press it in to a disc in the palm of your hand, break off a baked-bean-sized piece of mozzarella and push it into the middle and form the edges round in your hand so you end up with a ball of stuffing with the cheese in the middle. Roll into an even ball and repeat until it is all used up. To breadcrumb the balls, lay out 3 shallow bowls, put the flour in the first, the eggs in the second and the breadcrumbs in the third. One at a time dredge the ball in the flour, shake off the excess, dip and roll it in the eggs and drop into the breadcrumbs rolling and pressing until totally coated. Set to one side. Heat enough oil in a deep pan to deep fry with, bring slowly up to 180˚C. Deep-fry until golden brown and piping hot in the middle. Keep warm in an oven and serve on cocktail sticks.

tomato bruschetta

sourdough bread/ ciabatta
garlic
olive oil
tomatoes, diced
red onion, finely sliced
basil, shredded
balsamic vinegar

Grill some ciabatta or sourdough bread on both sides. Rub one side with a peeled clove of garlic and drizzle with good olive oil. Top with cherry tomatoes, red onion, basil, a little crushed garlic and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic veg to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 swede recipes

swede-fieldGuy says
We sow our swedes around Midsummer’s Day on our more exposed fields that rise towards Dartmoor, giving slower growth and more flavour. By Christmas a good frost should have hit, which adds to the flavour; a little hardship always does.

swede, celeriac & carrots braised in olive oil

serves 4-6 as a side
This is a Turkish method, common along the Aegean coast, that’s used for cooking lots of different vegetables. The idea is to braise them slowly with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and a little sugar to concentrate and accentuate their natural flavours. It is definitely best served at room temperature, and preferably the next day. This recipe comes from Riverford Cook Anna, who likes it served as part of a mezze spread.

swede-celeriac-carrots½ large swede (about 500g)
½ large celeriac (about 500g)
2 large carrots (about 250g)
juice of 2 lemons, or to taste
125ml good olive oil
2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1½ tsp salt, or to taste
1 fresh bay leaf
4 peppercorns
leaves and tender stems from a bunch of parsley (about 30g), chopped
leaves and tender stems from a bunch of dill (about 30g), chopped

Scrub and peel the vegetables. Cut the carrots into thickish slices on a sharp angle. Cut the swede and celeriac into 1cm slices, and then into 1cm batons. Cut these into cubes or diamonds. Put the veg into a large, wide pan and add the lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, salt, bay leaf and peppercorns. Add cold water until they are almost but not quite submerged. Cover with baking paper pressed to the surface and a lid and set over a medium heat. When it comes to a simmer, turn the heat down and cook slowly for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are completely tender. Try to avoid stirring too much so that the vegetables hold their shape. Halfway through the cooking time, taste the braising liquid and decide if it needs more lemon, oil or seasonings. When the vegetables are done, lift them out with a slotted spoon into your serving dish and discard the bay leaf and peppercorns. With the pan uncovered, boil the braising liquid until reduced and syrupy. Taste it occasionally and stop it from boiling if it’s becoming too salty. Add the herbs to the liquid, then pour it over the vegetables and let cool. Serve at room temperature.

swede, leek & bacon gratin

serves 6-8
The leeks in this gratin could easily be replaced with boiled greens such as cabbage or kale. Leave out the bacon and it makes a flavoursome vegetarian main course.

100ml milk
500ml double cream
2 garlic cloves
1 large rosemary or thyme sprig
150g smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
1–2 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, white and pale green parts cut in rings
knob of butter (about 30g), plus extra to grease the gratin dish
1 swede, peeled and sliced paper thin (use a mandolin if you have one)
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3. Put the milk, cream, garlic and rosemary or thyme in a pan over a low–medium heat. Slowly bring to a boil and then gently simmer for 5 minutes, being careful not to let it boil over. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Fry the bacon in the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat until really crispy. Add the leeks and a knob of butter and cook on a low heat for 20–30 minutes, until the leeks are soft and justswede-field4 beginning to caramelise. Season well with salt and pepper. Arrange half the sliced swede on the bottom of a greased gratin or shallow ovenproof dish and season. Add the sautéed leeks and then top with the remaining swede and season again. Press the layers down with the back of a spoon. Using a sieve, strain over the infused milk and cream mixture and cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, until a blunt knife can be easily inserted through to the bottom. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes until the gratin is golden around the edges. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Variation
Top the gratin with a hard grating cheese such as Parmesan, Cheddar, pecorino or Gruyère and return to the oven for the last 10 minutes.

swede, leek & apple bake

serves 4, prep 10 mins, cook 75 mins

swede-leek-apple-bake25g butter, plus extra for greasing
2 leeks, finely shredded
4 large (or more smaller) sage leaves
75ml white wine or apple juice
1 swede (800g-1kg unpeeled weight), peeled, cut in half lengthways, then very finely sliced
2 apples, cored, halved & thinly sliced
50g cheddar, grated

Preheat your oven to 180˚C. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the leeks on a very low heat for 12 mins, stirring now and then. Add the sage and wine or juice. Cook for 2 mins. Season with salt and pepper. Layer the swede, apple and leeks in a baking dish, finishing with swede. Cover with foil and bake for 45 mins. Remove the foil, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 15 mins until golden.

roasted swede with maple syrup

Serve this with cooked gammon ham or ham hock, thick slices of bacon, or with roast meats.

1 swede, peeled & cut into roast potato sized chunks
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/Gas Mark 6. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a flameproof baking tray or large casserole dish over a hob; add the swede and coat with oil. Carefully drizzle over 3 tablespoons maple syrup and toss well. Be careful not to catch and burn the syrup. Bake in the oven turning at intervals for 45 mins until crisp and golden.

swedes

butter-browned braised swede

This way of cooking swede is simple but really good. For vegetarians it’s ideal with a nut roast, or serve with roast chicken, pork, gammon or ham slices.

½ a medium swede, peeled, halved lengthways and then into 1½cm thick slices
a knob of butter, approx 25g
500ml veg or chicken stock

Melt the butter in a pan that will fit the swede in one layer (a medium sized, fairly deep frying pan is ideal). Cook the swede on a medium to high heat for a few mins on each side, without stirring, until golden brown. Add the stock, bring to the boil and let the swede bubble away for 20-25 mins, until it is tender and the liquid reduced to a syrupy glaze. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic swede to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.