I have started getting a weekly bag of local(ish) vegetables from a local social enterprise called Crop Drop. I plan to write more about it later as it deserves a post of its own, but basically once a week I pick up a bag full of vegetables from my “drop point” being a local shop.
It’s a great way to make sure I am eating as seasonally and locally as possible, and stops me getting stuck in a culinary rut. The other tool I use is the website Eat Your Books. You can use the website as a database of all of the cookbooks you own and recipe websites and magazines you use. If I have a vegetable and an idea doesn’t immediately spring to mind (or if I know I have a recipe for it but don’t know which book it’s in!) I can plug the ingredient into Eat Your Books and out spits every recipe I own featuring that ingredient. It’s not perfect – I’m still waiting for one of my favourite recipe books to be indexed by the site – but it has been useful enough for me to pay the subscription. If anyone has a cheaper idea feel free to comment!
Anyway, in my Crop Drop bag a couple of weeks ago I received some chioggia beetroot, otherwise known as candy beetroot. I plugged it into Eat Your Books and out came an Ottolenghi recipe that looked very appealing – candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu from the book Plenty More
I got to bust out my mandoline to slice the beetroot:
Candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 439
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 34g
Total Carbohydrates 226g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
- 750g candy (or other) beetroot
- 225g Puy lentils
- 1-2 tbsp yuzu juice, to taste
- 50ml olive oil, plus extra to finish
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1½ tbsp lemon juice
- 40g watercress
- 40g baby chard leaves
- 1 tsp yuzu powder (optional)
- Put the beetroots in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and cook on a gentle simmer for about an hour, adding boiling water as needed. To check that they are cooked, stick a knife into the largest beet: it should go in smoothly. Lift the beetroots from the water and leave to cool (they'll keep in the fridge for a day or two). Peel and halve the beetroots, and cut into wedges 1cm thick at the base.
- Put the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until al dente. Drain, transfer to a bowl and, while they're still hot, stir in a tablespoon each of yuzu juice and olive oil. Season and set aside to cool (the lentils can now also be kept in the fridge for a couple of days).
- To put the salad together, mix the remaining yuzu juice and oil into the lentils, then add the beetroot, onion, maple syrup and lemon juice. Toss gently and taste for seasoning. Transfer to a shallow bowl and dot with watercress and chard. Finish with a sprinkle of powdered yuzu, if you have it, and a drizzle of oil.
- Ottolenghi suggests using lime juice instead of yuzu if you can't get hold of it, but I thought it smelled more like grapefruit. I got my yuzu juice from www.souschef.co.uk and have since seen it in a good Japanese store but it is expensive so it's not available everywhere.
- I couldn't find baby chard leaves so I bought some mixed baby leaves instead.
Adapted from Plenty More
North London Kitchen http://northlondonkitchen.com/
Last week I travelled back to London with friends after a wedding in the countryside. After the car journey all of us were in need of refreshment, and it fell to me to suggest somewhere that would suit the littlest member of our party with easy parking nearby. Luckily one of my favourite cafes fits the bill nicely.
Blend opened a year before before my move further north, so they were already a local institution when I arrived. It’s easy to see why. It reminds me of my favourite cafes in New Zealand – a relaxed place with great style. The Scandi-style furniture and lighting are right up my street.
We were still in time for brunch. Co-owner Steve is vegetarian so there are plenty of non-meat options on the menu.
Two of us opted for the Harringay Local breakfast with the other choosing the veggie fry up. The Harringay Local usually comes with rye bread but they had run out – sourdough was a great alternative.
I have to say though, the veggie fry up won best breakfast:
My little friend loved it there too. Blend is very welcoming to children and young people, with plenty of high chairs and some toys to play with.
Coffee is from East London-based Climpson and Sons and is always expertly made. I love the cups too.
It may seem like a noisy place with all of the children but I have been known to find some peaceful space there of an afternoon, taking advantage of the free wifi and delicious cake to fuel myself through some report writing on a working from home day.
Blend has started opening three evenings a week for cocktails, and on Sundays there is an afternoon tea available. They also occasionally host pop up dinners. I’m keen to go along to one of these one day.
See you there, perhaps!
Blend, 587 Green Lanes, Harringay, N8 0RG
Last month a new cafe opened in South Tottenham – Tri-Prana, located on Philip Lane not far from Tottenham Green. I checked it out on Saturday and it seemed word had already gotten around – the place was buzzing. All of the three tables were occupied but there was also bar seating to one side of the room so I made myself comfortable.
As the name suggests Tri-Prana is not just a cafe – it’s all about the yoga there too, with classes starting this week. It’s not as worthy as you might imagine though, with a rock-y soundtrack and naughty treats to eat. I had a slice of carrot and apple cake, but there were also some tasty-looking gluten free options including a strawberry and black pepper cake that looked delicious. As I waited for my food and drink the owner Shan came over with a glass of lemon water for me.
Coffee snob that I am, I had to try the coffee, which comes from North London roasters Vagabond. I liked it enough to want to buy some of their beans for myself. Being greedy though I was also tempted by the smoothie menu, and chose the “Tri Cleanser” which contained beetroot, orange, lemon, ginger and apple. It was lovely and not too sweet. I also liked that it was a smoothie as opposed to a juice. Juices have had some bad press lately as even though they are natural they are high in sugar and low on fibre. Smoothies at least leave the fibre in. I had run 8km that morning and also walked further than expected carrying my old kitchen fluorescent strip light for recycling so felt like I deserved the calories anyway!
Tri-Prana has definitely filled a gap in the local coffee scene – I think it’s now possible to get decent coffee without walking further than a kilometre from anywhere in South Tottenham. No doubt I’ll also try the yoga at some stage too.
124 Philip Lane, London N15 4JL
On Tuesday I met with Philip Ingles of Stroud Green Bakehouse to pick up some bread from his home micro-bakery.
Stroud Green Bakehouse started almost accidentally when Philip took time out from his previous career in the music industry to raise his two small boys. He started experimenting with baking bread – tweaking and perfecting until he got his recipe perfected. This experimenting produced more bread than his family could consume, so he started giving loaves away – until people said it was a product they would like to pay for. A lot of his business is now conducted at the school gates! Other loaves are hand delivered by Philip, only in the Stroud Green area, making it hyperlocal bread. The recipe now stays mostly the same but he varies the flour. Philip gave me a loaf to try containing wholemeal, rye and white flours.
Talking to Philip, what really interested me was the comparisons he drew with his previous career – he said this process of honing the recipe was like drumming – learning to drum is quite simple at the start but it gets more and more complicated as you learn more. In other ways bread is completely different from music. Music and getting a product to an audience can be all about the marketing and in the process the product almost gets lost. In bread, it is all about the product. A finished loaf speaks for itself.
Philip’s passion for bread really came through in our conversation – and in the finished loaf. I’ve been eating it for breakfast with butter and marmalade all week!
If you live locally and want to get hold of Philip’s bread, tweet him at @SGBakehouse