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31st August 2015
Our Allotted Vegetables
Alloted Vegetables

My neighbour Nancy and her allotment keep me well supplied with vegetables. And the occasional fruit. Thanks Nancy!
Since her glut of beetroot and rhubarb, I've been inventing things to do with beetroot and rhubarb. And carrots.
Getting some courgette flowers to stuff made a nice change.

Rhubarb and Beetroot Fool
dessert veg
Yes that's right - a rhubarb and beetroot fool!
Partly because I had a lot of beetroot and rhubarb to eat up, partly because it seemed like they might just work together, partly just 'cos they were there...

Serves 4

Ingredients
Method
Heat the oven to 180-200°C, put the whole unpeeled beetroot on an oven tray and bake until it is soft and easily pierced with a knife (up to 2 hours).

Roughly chop the rhubarb, scatter with a little sugar (perhaps a dessertspoon), moisten with a little apple juice, liquor or water and cook gently in a covered pot until the rhubarb begins to collapse. Check the sugar level and set aside to cool.

Whip the cream until it begins to thicken, but is still pourable. Peel and finely grate the beetroot and mix with the rhubarb. Lightly stir together the cream and rhubarb mixture (so they form distinct swirls) and serve with a drizzle of fruit coulis.
You know what, it ain't bad! It's a more earthy, nutty concoction than pure rhubarb, but less aggressively acidic.
I planned on adding some grated ginger to the rhubarb, but I forgot. I still think it might be nice though.
Also since beetroot goes well with chocolate - consider a chocolate sauce instead of the coulis?

Beetroot and Rhubarb Salad
salad veg
My neighbour Nancy had a glut of beetroot and rhubarb in her allotment this year. So I thought I'd try ways of combining them. This is Yotam Ottolenghi's idea, and I think it works better than my fool. But you could always have a meal with both!

The dressing proved so good I gave it a recipe all of its own.

Serves 4

Ingredients
Method
Set the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Wrap the beets individually in foil and bake for 40-70 minutes, depending on size. To check, push a sharp knife through to the centre of each one - it should be soft all the way through. Set aside to cool, then peel and cut into a rough 2cm dice.

Toss the rhubarb with the sugar, spread it over a foil-lined oven tray and roast for 10-12 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, molasses, maple syrup, oil, allspice and some salt and pepper. Add the onion, set aside for a few minutes to soften, then add the parsley and beets. Stir to combine, season to taste and, just before serving, gently fold in the rhubarb, its juices and the cheese.
Really quite tasty. The cheese ties the whole thing together very nicely.
It will look better if you hold the (curly) parsley and the cheese back to the end so they look clean and perky.
I thought it could also do with more rhubarb, perhaps double, so you end up with roughly equal quantities of beetroot and rhubarb. I also wondered if a hint of sumac might go quite well?

Beetroot and Carrot Poriyal
curry veg vegan side
So this dish went a bit wrong - I shaved the coconut using a vegetable peeler along the coconut edge, due to the following confusing suggestions of my cute landlady Aline:

Aline: You don't have a coconut shaver do you? My friend from Kerala made a really nice cabbage thoran with shaved fresh coconut
Karl: No I don't think so - is it like a cheese grater?
Aline: No, it shaves the coconut from the inside - it's nothing like a cheese grater. I don't think you could use a cheese grater
Karl: Oh, that sounds good - I'll try it with some of Nancy's carrots and beetroots
...
Karl: What do you think of my carrot and beetroot poriyal [a dish from Tamil Nadu, next door to Kerala] with shaved coconut?
Aline: The coconut is thick and hard - why didn't you grate it with the cheese grater? You should have used the cheese grater
Karl: ??!!??

Serves 2-3

Ingredients
Method
Rinse, peel and chop the beetroots and carrot very finely, the more fine, they faster they will cook. You can also grate the veggies if you prefer.
Actually I cut mine a bit chunky 'cos I was expecting the coconut to be quite thick too, but with grated coconut I can see the point now...
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and urad dal.
Fry till the mustard seed make a popping sound and the urad dal get maroonish golden. make sure you don't burn them.
Add the green chilies, curry leaves, turmeric powder and asafoetida. Fry for 10-12 seconds.
Now add the chopped veggies. sprinkle salt and stir. Cover and let the veggies cook till they are done. Sprinkle some water if the moisture dries in the pan. Keep on checking during intervals and sprinkle water whenever required.
When the veggies are cooked well, lastly add coconut and give a stir. Before adding the coconut, if there is moisture in the pan, then dry it by simmering on an open flame for a few minutes. Sprinkle the coconut and then switch off the flame and cover.
Bit dull - I'm sure it could be improved. Perhaps by grating the coconut?

Cabbage Thoran
curry veg side
So here's the very nice Cabbage Thoran that Aline's friend Laly from Kerala made.
If you have a coconut shaving tool, now's the time to dust it off. Otherwise use a fine cheese grater.

Serves 4

Ingredients
Method
Crack open the coconut, remove the brown skin with a vegetable peeler (though you can eat it), and finely grate the white flesh.
You can do this by punching holes in the coconut eyes, draining the water, putting the coconut briefly in a very hot oven and tapping with a hammer. Or waiting until the shell cracks with the heat.
Or cutting it in half with a machete.
Beware that the heating might evaporate a little of the moisture and natural oils from the coconut flesh.
Heat the oil and fry the mustard seeds until they pop.
Add the roughly chopped onion and fry over high heat until they are quite browned around the edges.
Add the turmeric, if using.
Add the grated cabbage, grated coconut, grated ginger, chopped chilli and a little salt, cover, lower heat and leave to steam stirring occasionally until cooked through (20-30 minutes).
Subtle, gentle but tasty.
It's quite dry - Aline reckons it was bad coconut, or bad grating - so needs serving with a moist dish. I'd probably prefer less coconut than Laly does.

Stuffed Courgette Flowers
starter snack veg
The male flowers may have a short stalk on them, but the females can have small courgettes attached. It's difficult, though, to cook flower and the attached courgette the right amount, so attractive as they may be, probably better just to cook the flower.

If you're serving lactose intolerants you can probably work up something of the right stuffing consistency with yoghurt and some kind of tofu.

Ingredients
Method
Carefully open up the flowers, check for bugs, and pinch out the stem at the base of the flower. Give them a clean if necessary.
Mix your chosen soft cheeses with some chopped herbs (basil, parsley, mint, etc), a grating of stronger cheese like Parmesan or hard goat's cheese and grate in some lemon zest. Spoon the mixture into the flowers, then fold them back up giving a little twist at the tips to hold them closed.

Make a light batter - I like a tempura-style version with 50/50 regular flour (or rice flour) and cornflour with a sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda and a pinch of salt, mixed to the consistency of thick cream with really cold sparkling water. Heat half an inch or so of oil in a pan. Roll the flowers in the batter to coat them lightly, then fry quickly in the hot oil, turning to make them golden all over. If the filling starts to ooze out it's a sign they're done.
Very nice indeed, and pretty too.
Good served with a tomato sauce or tomato vinaigrette

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