Lock down Cooking 2- Seasonal Spinach

People are enjoying a lot more home-cooking during this COVID 19 Lockdown period. Mostly because we are at home more but also because we can’t go out for meals. We’ve taken this opportunity to inspire you to get cooking with the great seasonal fruit herbs and vegetables we have available both in the shops and markets and even by having a go at growing your own.

June is a great time for eating spinach. It’s actually in season from April right through to September so Spring and Summer are great for spinach fans. We grow our own and along with chard and Kale, we usually have a good supply of leafy greens throughout the year.
We are not the only ones running cooking sessions online during lockdown. The  Great British Food Festival has gone virtual too with coo- alongs on Zoom and Youtube lead by guest chefs. when they asked Season well to lead a cook-along session for their veggie lunch session (Saturdays at 1 pm) we jumped at the chance to share this lovely recipe for spinach pancakes with mushroom sauce which we originally developed for an Orb Community Arts cooking class. We developed the recipe using kale in the pancakes and leeks in the mushroom sauce but it was easy for us to adapt it to more seasonal spinach and spring onions.

The Cook along session went really well with people putting their own styles into the presentation of their pancakes.

Spinach Pancake stack by Marni from www.thaifoodmadeasy

 

You can watch the cook-along session on Youtube. The recipe is really versatile and can be made vegetarian or vegan.

 

 

Spinach Pancakes with mushroom sauce

Vegetarian and Vegan options

 

Ingredients: (serves 2- makes 6-8 small pancakes)

100g Spinach, (Kale or chard will work too)
125g plain or wholemeal flour ( or a half and half mix of the 2)
1tsp baking powder
200 ml milk (or plant milk of your choice)
1 egg (or 1 tbsp chia seeds and 3tbsp water)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Oil for frying
 
For the Mushroom sauce
2 spring onions, sliced
200g chestnut mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
1tsp fresh thyme leaves
50mls single cream (or soya/oat equivalent)
100g blue cheese ( or 1 tsp tahini)
½ tablespoon vegetable oil. We use rapeseed
Salt and pepper
Tablespoon chopped parsley or chives or any other spring herb like sorrel or wild garlic.
 
Utensils:
Weighing scales
Chopping board
Sharp knife
Saucepan
Frying pan
Food processor or hand mixer
Wooden spoon
Large mixing bowl
Measuring spoon
Kitchen roll
 
Method:
  1. If making a chia/flax egg grind 1 tbsp seeds in a pestle & mortar or food processor then mix with 3 tbsp water. Set aside for a few minutes for it to thicken.
  2. If using baby spinach simply place the leaves in a blender and pulse until they are broken down. If using bigger leaves tear the leaves off the thick middle cores and then pulse.
  3. Then put the rest of the pancake ingredients into the food processor. Blitz till combined and smooth.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables for the sauce:
           slice the spring onions and mushrooms
           Peel & crush the garlic, chop the time and chop the cheese ( if using) into cubes
  1. Put ½ tbsp of oil into a saucepan and warm on a low heat. Then add the spring onions mushroom, garlic and thyme and leave to cook gently with a lid on whilst you fry the pancakes
  2. Set your oven to its lowest temperature. Warm ½ tablespoon oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add 2 tbsp batter per pancake to the pan – you should be able to cook 2-3 pancakes at a time. Gently fry for 3 mins till browned underneath with lots of bubbles on top.
  3. Flip. Cook for another 2 mins till set. Keep warm on a plate in the oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes, adding more oil as you need it.
(you may need to wipe out the pan with kitchen roll in between batches if you have any burnt bits) You should get 6-8 pancakes.
  1. Stir the leeks and mushrooms. When they are nicely softened you can add the blue cheese and cream and stir till all the cheese has melted. For Vegan option add Oat cream,  or creme fraiche, and tahini and stir to combine.
  2. Serve the pancakes topped with a spoonful of the sauce and a sprinkling of chopped parsley or chives

 

 

What to eat in May and June- Asparagus of course

Asparagus is one of our favourite UK seasonal vegetables and we greet the first local spears in the grocer’s shops with joy each May. We love to eat as much as we can until mid-June when it disappears from our shelves.

These days it doesn’t disappear though as you can find imported asparagus on supermarket shelves nearly all year round. Please don’t buy this out of season asparagus. It has come from Peru or Mexico and has a high carbon footprint.    This is because it has to be air freighted as asparagus loses flavour and texture after it has been cut and of course, South and Central America are many miles away. Peruvian asparagus is also grown in irrigated beds causing severe water shortages in a very dry region.

Uk locally grown asparagus has a 97% lower carbon footprint than Peruvian asparagus and is much tastier too so always check where your veg has come from. The pictured veg are from a smallholding near Appleton, York and sold by Food Circle

Even when buying local asparagus. It’s not the cheapest of veg as it has to be hand-picked daily. As it’s with us for only a few short weeks (late April to late June) we are happy to pay for this short seasonal treat. We also tend to wait till May to enjoy it too when the price has dropped a little.

Asparagus is best eaten as fresh as you can before it converts more of its sugars to starch and becomes woody. Look for nice firm spears  and storing it upright in a little water in the fridge will help keep it fresher for longer

We enjoy asparagus blanched and pan-fried with garlic and a little sea salt or just steamed and served with poached eggs or with a Spanish potato omelette (tortilla) We also like it in salads like the quinoa salad we cooked for one of our May Facebook Cook-along sessions 

Our absolute favourite asparagus recipe is one we discovered a couple of years ago for asparagus and new potatoes in a smoked almond sauce. (Original recipe by  Nicholas Balfe, head chef at Salon, Brixton)

We cooked this for our first June Cook-Along on Facebook so have a look at our tutorial or just follow the recipe below. Happy Cooking!

We  can deliver cooking tutorials via Zoom so do contact us if you would like your own seasonal cooking tutorial

Asparagus with smoked almond sauce,

 wild garlic and new potatoes

Ingredients: (Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course)

400g new potatoes, boiled until tender in salted water

8 spears of asparagus, woody end removed

A handful of wild garlic leaves

A handful  of spring herbs, such as parsley, chives pea shoots, etc

50ml olive oil

30ml sherry vinegar

½ tsp sea salt

50g chopped smoked almonds and edible flowers ( wild garlic or chives) to decorate

For the almond sauce

100g smoked almonds

1 clove garlic, chopped

100ml cold water

200ml neutral oil, eg, vegetable/rapeseed oil

tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/2 tsp fine salt

Utensils:

Food processor

saucepan

griddle pan  or grill

Cooking instructions:

First, make the almond sauce.

Put the almonds and garlic into a food processor. Turn the power on at a low speed and add half the water and blend into a thick paste. Increase the speed and gradually add the oil and the remainder of the water alternately so you end up with a smooth, glossy sauce.

Season with a dash of sherry vinegar and a pinch of fine salt

Preheat the griddle pan or grill to a high heat. Carefully grill the Jersey Royals until they are nicely coloured and have picked up some smokey flavour. Set aside in a warm place.

Next, grill the asparagus so it’s evenly coloured and cooked to your liking. Slice each asparagus spear in half, either lengthways down the middle or across the stem to make lots of different shapes and sizes.

Finely chop the wild garlic leaves, and toss together with any other herbs and leaves you’re using. Toss together with the warm asparagus and Jersey Royals, dressing with olive oil, sherry vinegar and sea salt as you go.

Place some of the almond sauce on the base of the plate, and arrange the salad on top. Top with the chopped almonds and a sprinkling of wild garlic flowers or chive flowers.