Our third guest contributor is Alyson Peacock, known to many as past Ludwell School governor, keen gardener and one of the stalwart team who got Ludwell Orchard project off the ground. Alyson has lived in the village with her family for over 25 years and believes in the 'You are what you eat' philosophy, so enjoys a mostly vegetarian diet, hence her scrummy recipes below. (Nonetheless, I know Alyson can weaken at roast chicken and crispy bacon....much like the rest of us!) aif
When I agreed to contribute to these pages some time ago now, I thought it would be easy. I could just regurgitate a favourite recipe (what an unfortunate image for a cookery page!) …tell you all how delicious it is and urge you to make it.
Now here I am looking at a blank white page and I find it’s not that simple. I’m not permitted to duplicate recipes from well known chefs and these are the starting points for many of us – these, or our mother’s tried and trusted recipes which come from so far in the past they can no longer be attributed to a published cook.
I find I have quite productive and successful periods in the kitchen that last for several weeks, then there are fallow periods when I simply can’t even remember what I have cooked before and feel bereft of inspiration. That’s how I’m feeling now about this article so I thought why not let the whiteness of the page be my starting point? I searched through my kitchen notebooks to find a few ways I’ve cooked white vegetables over the years; celeriac, parsnips and the humble potato. All are perfect accompaniments to roasts this Christmas.
The celeriac recipe is a meal in itself and is delicious with crusty bread and a green salad, especially peppery watercress salad. If necessary it can be cooked several hours before serving and is easily reheated. The crusted parsnip cakes recipe is a Swedish idea originally intended for potatoes but I think they are much tastier made with parsnips. They can be served as a vegetarian dish with a little crème fraîche or sour cream, or as an accompaniment to other dishes. The spicy fried potatoes are great with curries of course but equally good accompanying sausages, other meats and vegetarian burgers.
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Celeriac and Walnut Gratin
1 Celeriac – large
2 tbs Walnut oil (or olive oil)
300 ml Vegetable stock Walnuts – chopped (generous handful)
100 g Stilton or Bleu d’Auvergne cheese
Salt and Black pepper
Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C / gas 5.
1. Slice the bottom of the celeriac to stabilize it and peel off its skin with a sharp knife. Quarter it and then slice very thinly.
2. Toss the slices in the walnut oil and season.
3. Place in a gratin dish and cover with stock.
4. Cook for 40–45 minutes or until celeriac is tender.
5. Remove from the oven and scatter over the crumbled cheese and walnuts and then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes until crisp and golden.
Hazelnut Crusted Parsnip (or Potato) Cakes
4 Large parsnips, chopped into large chunks
½ tsp Turmeric
110 g Hazelnuts coarsely ground (cashews, almonds or pistachios are fine)
60 g Fine breadcrumbs – wholemeal
1½ tsp Cumin seeds
Salt and Cooking oil
1. Boil or steam the parsnips. Drain them well and leave to cool.
2. Mash well and add salt to taste and turmeric.
3. Toss the nuts with the breadcrumbs, cumin seeds and ½ tsp of salt.
4. Scoop up handfuls of the parsnip mixture; press into the nut mixture to coat both sides, at the same time flattening them into thin patties.
5. Heat oil in a skillet and fry the cakes over a medium heat until they are browned and crusty. Potatoes with Sesame Seeds
2 kg Potatoes – firm or waxy
6 tbs Vegetable oil
2 tsp Cumin seeds
2 tsp Black mustard seeds – whole
2 tbl Sesame seeds
1. Boil the potatoes in their skins. Drain and cool. Cut into 2 cm dice.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. When oil is very hot put in all the seeds.
3. When the mustard seeds start to pop add the potatoes and seasoning and fry until some of their surfaces are golden and crispy.
All Truly scrumptious at any time of the year
Many thanks Alyson
These musings and recipes are gleaned from The Donhead Digest with the permission of AIF, their author.