Food how to guide – how to prepare artichokes in pictures and words

Artichokes are great, and, though they are a bit of a faff to prepare, they’re worth the effort. Here are a few photos showing how to prepare them from our last artichoke feast:

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To begin – chop the top 1/3 of the artichoke

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It should look a bit like this when you’ve done that

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Now chop the artichoke in half down the centre of the stalk

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Now start to scoop the centre out of the artichoke and pull a few of the tougher outer leaves on.

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Now continue to scoop out the fibrous inner part

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Once it’s all scooped out it should look like this.

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Keep the prepped artichokes in some water with lemon juice to stop them from browning

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Cook and eat as you’d wish – these ones have been simply BBQed for a few minutes and served as is

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Simple baked veggie breakfast – sausage, eggs, potatoes and tomatoes

This is also known as Hannah Bake Two since it was baked and a recipe passed onto us by a friend, Hannah.

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It’s a simple breaky and all baked in one dish in the oven.

Recipe as follows (for 2 people – adjust as required):

Oven at 150 degrees C (our oven is fan assisted)

    • Potatoes – we used a couple of handfuls of Jersey Royals, kept the small ones whole and cut larger ones in half. You could use any potato, just cut it into bite-sized chunks.
    • Cherry tomatoes – we used a couple of handfuls of mixed red and yellow. These go in whole.
    • 4 cloves of garlic whole.
    • 6 veggie sausages.
    • 4 duck eggs (chicken eggs would be fine as well)
    • Fresh chives.
    • Salt and pepper.
    • Olive oil.

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Method

  1. Put a drizzle of olive oil in the pan and put in the warmed oven.
  2. Clean the potatoes and cut to size if needed. Chop the bottom end of each garlic clove off, but keep whole and don’t peel. Add all this into the warmed oil and put in the oven to begin to roast.
  3. When starting to crisp up (about 10 minutes) add the veggie sausages and put back in the oven.
  4. Roast the sausages, turn once or twice, and then add the cherry tomatoes. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Then break the eggs into the pan and put back in oven. I cooked the eggs for around 12 minutes and this was a tiny bit too long, not all the yolks were runny. These were big eggs though, so adjust your cooking time according to your eggs and oven.
  6. Serve up with fresh chives sprinkled over the top.

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Wet garlic pasta with spinach sauce

We finally christened the pasta machine and now there’s no going back. Aside from a small mishap with over-cooking the egg yolk ravioli (and boiled yolks weren’t too bad) it’s been a successful endeavour.

And now for what you’re really here for:

(Enough for 3 dinners and leftovers for lunch)

For the pasta:

  • Handful of the green stalks from a bunch of wet garlic (about 100g)
  • 250g white pasta flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch salt

For the sauce:

  • 300g spinach
  • Little double cream or whatever cream you have to hand
  • Lemon juice
  • Vegetable stock

Instructions:

  1. Blend the eggs, olive oil and green garlic stalks together. If you don’t have a blender, you could chop the garlic stalks really finely and whisk together – just make sure the garlic is almost minced.
  2. Sieve the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle, pour the egg/oil/garlic mixture into the middle and begin to work together until it starts to form a ball of dough.
  3. Clear down a work surface so it’s clean enough to work from. Make sure it’s dry and then flour and turn the dough out.
  4. Work the dough until smooth and springs back to the touch, cling film and leave in the fridge to rest for around 30 minutes.
  5. After it’s rested, get it out of the fridge and let it return to room temperature. Set up your pasta machine and prepare for fun.
  6. Either divide up the dough evenly, or just break off a chunk of dough at your whim and start to pass it through the machine set at the thickest setting.
  7. Continue working through the machine reducing the thickness each time – we went to the second thinness setting on our machine.
  8. Then we added the machine part for cutting the pasta in order to make the linguini. Pass the sheets of pasta through the cutter and flour and layout carefully so they don’t stick together. What we realised is that the wet garlic needs to be cut really fine, otherwise it’s hard to get it to cut cleanly through the machine.
  9. Once you have enough for your meal, pop a pan of boiling water on the stove and cook the pasta in batches. It should only take around 3 minutes for the pasta to cook, keep an eye on and test to check your cooking time (it will depend on how thin you’ve rolled it).

Served with spinach cooked down in a little vegetable stock, onions with a sauce of 2 tbsp of double cream and seasoned with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice squeezed in for good measure.

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Spicy chilli, butternut squash, feta and mint bulgar wheat salad

This is a great quick recipe for an evening. Usually we would make up enough to take for packed lunches the following day. 
 
  • cooked bulgar with chopped chilliApproximately 80g per person of bulgar wheat
  • 500ml of stock per 100g bulgar wheat – can be veggie, chicken, mushroom
  • Medium-sized butternut squash, cut up into 1cm cubes
  • 3-4 tbsps olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey or brown sugar (depending on what you have)
  • 1 large chilli pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Block of feta
  • Handful of mint chopped or torn
  1. Put the bulgar wheat and stock into a saucepan and bring to simmer, cover and leave for approximately 15 minutes. We stirred a couple of times to make sure the bulgar wheat didn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. You will be able to tell when the bulgar wheat is cooked, it will be fluffy – a bit like is couscous when it’s ready.
  2. Lightly coat the butternut squash in olive oil and roast the  in the oven (around 180ºC -200) until starting to crisp and brown up nicely (about 20 minutes). Take them out, stir and return to oven for another 5-10 minutes. Then drizzle the  1 tbsp maple syrup over the squash and put back in the oven for another  5-10 minutes – watching carefully so they don’t burn. 
  3. Now you can assemble the salad – add the butternut squash (including all the oil and juices from the roasting pan) and the bulgar wheat in a bowl. Then add the chopped mint, chilli, another tablespoon of maple syrup or honey, 2 tbsps olive oil, season with salt and pepper and crumble in the feta and you’re ready to serve.
Suggested variations:
Instead of feta and maple syrup, use goat’s cheese and honey.
Instead of bulgar wheat, use any barley or buckwheat for the nutty flavour.
Try it with the addition of some North African spices – harisa, cinnamon etc.

Spicy chilli, butternut squash, feta and mint bulgar wheat salad in pictures

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First bean harvest – and so we have broad bean and purple bean pasta

Cubano Orzo pasta - black bean, lime cilantro, plain semolina, sweet red pepperA couple of year’s back we went to Chicago and when in Chicago visited a rather awesome farmer’s market and an equally awesome pasta shop: Pappardelle’s Pasta where we went a bit crazy and purchased all kinds of wacky pasta. So far, this pasta has been admired from a distance; too good to use in your average recipe. In short though, it amounted to neglect and the darned stuff needed to be used. Two years after its purchase, a harvest of Stratford-balcony-grown purple beans and some fresh broad beans from the organic veggie box, we were finally ready to use some. Specifically, the orzo we purchased. An exciting moment for us all.

purple beansBelow you’ll find the incredible recipe that’s finally deemed good enough for our pasta.

Ingredients:

  • Orzo pasta
  • Handful shelled broad beans
  • Handful of purple French beans or whatever green beans you have to hand
  • Onion
  • Garlic

For the pesto/salsa:

  • Basil – a good bunch of
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsps red wine vinegar
  • Tomatoes (we only had two to use)
  • 8 sundried tomatoes
  • 1 dry, smoked chilli pepper
  • Clove of garlic – just for a hint
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • Salt
For the salsa/pesto:
  1. This is somewhere in between salsa and pesto and we used it as the main sauce for the pasta. It’s simple.
  2. Soak the sundried tomatoes and dried, smoked chilli pepper in approximately 2tbsps of boiling water for about 20 minutes before use.
  3. Roughly chop the tomatos and onion.
  4. Crush the garlic with the back of a knife.
  5. Add the sundried tomatoes, dried peppers and the water they’ve been soaking in to a food processor (you could do this in a large pestle and mortar) and add the fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic clove, basil leaves, olive oil, red wine vinegar and olive oil.
  6. Blend.
  7. Season to taste – obviously add salt and pepper at this point, but you can also adjust the oil and vinegar as you see fit. It needs to be of a decent consistency in order to coat the pasta.
For the orzo pasta and beans:
  1. In boiling, salted water blanch the broad beans – takes a couple of minutes (this will depend on how fresh the beans are). Remove from the water. Use the same water to blanch the french beans. We had just picked these from the balcony so they literally needed a quick flash so they still retain a bit of crunch. Remove beans from the water.
  2. Put the orzo on to cook in the water from the beans. We just cooked in the same way you’d cook any pasta – the orzo cooked really quick, probably 5 minutes boiling time. Just keep an eye on and keep checking until al dente.
  3. Drain and put back in the cooking pot and add the two types of beans. Then stir in the salsa.
Then stir the pesto/salsa mixture into the waiting orzo and beans and serve.
We grated some organic cheddar over the top and served.  It was tasty as. Annoyingly, we forgot to take a picture of the finished product as we were too concerned with eating it.