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Just made tonight – not yet eaten – a winter root coleslaw with a mustardy dressing.  I used a green kohlrabi, carrots, white cabbage, golden beetroot and Chioggia (pink and white stripe) beetroot.  All raw, just sliced thinly by hand and then cut into strips.

For the dressing I used up some creme fraiche and mixed it up with mayonnaise.  Then I added wholegrain mustard to taste – I wanted it quite tangy as it gets diluted the moment you mix it with the vegetables.  We’re having this for tea with a homemade lasagne – it smells delicious and I can barely wait!

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I’ve made chopped salads before and love the simplicity of the concept – chop a whole load of salad ingredients together with a splash of dressing.  Yup, that’s it.  It appeals to me when I’m working at home and want a quick but healthy sort of lunch. 

It may seem daft to sort of mush up all those lovely ingredients into one pile of finely chopped salad, but I think it actually does something to the flavour.  By chopping things together the flavours begin to mingle to create something new and wonderful.

For this green salad, I started by chopping together lettuce (a crisp crunchy lettuce like cos or baby gem work best – soft leaved lettuce will just disappear into nothing), cucumber, spring onions, and parsley (but you could use herbs and a mixture would be lovely).

Then I chopped up an avocado and mixed everything together in a bowl.  Next, I made a hollow in the salad and added my dressing ingredients – a place of mustard (I used Dijon), vinegar (I used red wine vinegar), extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Then give everything a really good mix together so that all the ingredients and flavours can start to mingle.

At this point taste it and adjust the dressing flavourings to taste.  You can also add in other bits and pieces – I crumbled in some Cheddar cheese.

Finally, I mounded it into my bowl and topped with a generous sprinkle of crumbled Cheddar.  A fantastic way to eat a lot of vegetables – in this case a lot of green ones – and a different take on the salad.

What do you put into your chopped salad?  Pieces of crispy bacon appeal to me.

Christmas Eve lunch – a simple winter salad of warm potatoes, crispy bacon, chopped celery leaves and a dressing of mustard, cider vinegar and shallots. 

This was my first attempt at this delicious sounding salad from Rose Prince’s The New English Table – I tried to follow the amounts for the dressing, but it wasn’t quite how I wanted it, so I just tweaked the ingredients until I was happy. 

Winter potato, bacon and celery leaf salad

Feeds 4

20 new potatoes
6 rashers of streaky bacon
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
175ml olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp water
Handful of celery leaves
2 shallots
Salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until done.  Drain and cut in half or quarters.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crispy.

Mix together the sugar, mustard, olive oil and water – I like to use a jam jar as you can screw on the lid and shake it.  Add the shallots, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pop the cooked potatoes into a bowl.  Tear up (or cut up) the crispy bacon and add to the potatoes.  Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle over chopped celery leaves.  Stir everything together.

This past weekend we went to Bath for a weekend away with friends.  On Saturday morning whilst I was waiting for Mr Rigg to arrive by train, I ventured in to the Bath Farmer’s Market – and what treats awaited me!

Incredible veggies – like these pink stripey beetroot and mixed carrots.  I bought a bunch of each.

Wonderful cured meats and sausages – bottom right is pancetta and Coppa, both of which found their way into my shopping bag, along with some Italian pinwheel sausages (back top left). 

Mushrooms of all kinds – I bought a box of those teeny tiny ‘Paris Browns’.

Cheeses of all kinds, including the award winning Bath Soft Cheese – somewhere between a Brie and a Camembert.

This is the lovely oil man, selling rapeseed oil made from his farm’s crops, and also making a selection of delicious dressings.  I usually make all my own salad dressings, but I couldn’t resist a bottle of his creamy Quince and Cider dressing.

The quince lady…well that’s not her real name (a bit more on her soon) selling a selection of beautiful homemade quince products.  Syrups, jellies, sweets and quince paste.

The choice of vegetables available at the farmer’s markets is outstanding.  All farmers markets around the country should have this kind of choice.  Everyone around the country should have access to vegetables like these.  Dark bunches of cavolo nero and pumpkins of all sizes and colours.

The aforementioned flowerpot bread – cheese and herb I think, baked in a terracotta flowerpot to give it that unusual shape.  Also deliciously tasty!

If you ever thought winter vegetables could be boring, here’s a picture to change your mind – amber pumpkins, pinky-purple onions, muddy carrots, fat beetroot, stalks of sprouts, bundles of spinach, dark curly kale, crisp stalks of celery, fresh broccoli, and the wrinkly savoy cabbage or those tinged violet.

And this stall selling their own cheeses, and various cheese products and accompaniments – chutney, cheesecake, soft cheese, and curd tarts.  I bought some of their ewes cheese which was incredibly delicious.

Today as part of our holiday at home, Mr Rigg, Buddy and I drove up into Lancashire for a day of walking and eating.  It was a fantastic sunny day (which is was a welcome surprise!) and we started with a long walk from Hurst Green.  We followed a Tolkien-inspired trail which can be downloaded here.

It was a lovely walk, which took us through lush fields of cows, past the turrets and observatory of Stoneyhurst College, down into damp woods with mossy streams, past fields of sweetcorn and rushing rivers. 

There were lots of cute calves like these ones…

And this sweet one!

Buddy – who it seems has never seen a stream before – slowly built up enough confidence to paddle. 

This walk takes you through a landscape that it said to have inspired Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books and you can definitely seem glimpses as you pass through this countryside.  I am a huge fan of the books so it was exciting to do this walk!

After our long hot walk we rewarded ourselves with lunch at The Three Fishes – one of Nigel Howarth’s country pub’s. 

We have eaten at The Highwayman Inn up near Kirkby Lonsdale which we really enjoyed – I had a ploughman’s platter with scrumptious piccalilli –  so it was easy to decide where to eat on our day out.  Plus there is a huge emphasis on local and seasonal food.

We sat at a table outside so that Buddy could sit with us.  I drank a cool chocolate milkshake and Mr Rigg a pint of ale whilst we waited for our food.  Chocolate milkshake takes me back to my childhood and I still love ordering it now. 

To start Mr Rigg had Three Fishes Fish Soup, Wicked Mayonnaise, Butlers Tasty Lancashire Cheese, and Garlic Croutons.

The soup was rich and fishy with a good kick of spice, the Lancashire cheese was crumbled and served in a tiny terracotta pot, and the ‘wicked mayonnaise’ was blushed red with flecks of fresh chilli.

I chose a dish from their seasonal menu which was a Salad of Cracked Wheat, Sweet & Sour Bank’s Tomatoes, Broad Beans, Garden Peas and a Yoghurt & Cucumber Dressing. 

I wish I could eat this salad everyday for lunch – it was so delicious.  The salad of cracked wheat, broad beans and garden peas was studded with fresh herbs and red onion, and topped with cherry tomatoes that had been cooked just until bursting.  Then drizzled round the edge was this cooling dressing of yoghurt and cucumber.

Mr Rigg’s main was from the seasonal menu – Gazegill Farm Organic Sandy Oxford Black Pork Faggots, Girolle Mushroom Gravy, Mashed Potato, Broad Beans and Garden Peas.

Neither of us had tried faggots before but Mr Rigg enjoyed them and the tiny morsel that I tried was delicious, but probably an acquired taste – very different in texture and flavour to something similar in shape like a meatball or burger.  Mr Rigg said it was coarser and a stronger flavour like that of liver.  It’s always nice to try something a bit different.

And for my main I pigged out with an Elmwood Platter of Local Seafood which included: Port of Lancaster Beech & Juniper Smoked Salmon, Lancaster Smoked Kipper, Hot Smoked Trout, Potted Morecambe Bay Shrimps, Smoked Mackerel Pâté, Picked Cucumber, Beetroot Relish, Horseradish Cream, and Homemade Bread. 

The smoked salmon with speckled with tiny capers and shreds of red onion, the potted shrimp fragrant and warm, the smoked trout went deliciously with the sweet earthy beetroot relish, and the pickled cucumber cut through all those flavours of fish. 

The smoked mackerel pâté was light like a mousse, a tiny mouthful on a toasted circle of bread, topped with micro herbs.

I have never tried kippers before, and although it is a very strong flavour and perhaps not something I would order on its own, as part of a platter like this it was delicious.

We had initially planned to stop eating here…but I was too tempted by Raspberry Jelly with Vanilla Ice Cream

…and Mr Rigg easily gave into the lure of homemade Milk Chocolate Chip and Marshmallow Ice Cream with chocolate sauce.  Not a good shot of the ice cream, Mr Rigg was very protective after I nabbed the first mouthful which got me in a lot of trouble…

Both were absolutely delicious.

Our lunch was finished off with a glimpse of Nigel Haworth himself who arrived at the pub just before we left.  If you’re in Lancashire, do make sure you stop at one of Nigel’s country pubs – we can certainly recommend the food from both The Three Fishes and The Highwayman!

I’m not one for putting photos of myself on here, but I love this picture of Buddy and I out on our walk…

Happy holidays!

This is simply divine – if you love fish and chips this is a beautiful alternative.  Get cooking!

Hot fish and chip salad

Hot ‘fish and chip’ salad

Serves 2 hungry mouths

For the ‘fish and chips’
100g white fish (Coley was my choice)
Fine bread crumbs
200g waxy new potatoes
Groundnut oil
Olive oil
For the dressing
Couple of teaspoons of capers
Big bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 generous tsp Dijon mustard
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
To serve
Watercress

Slice the new potatoes in half lengthways and parboil for 5 minutes.  Allow to steam dry for a couple of minutes.

In a large frying pan, heat enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan.  Add the parboiled new potatoes, cut-side down and fry gently – turn when are golden underneath – this should take about 5 minutes.

Fried potatoes

Meanwhile, cut your fish into fingers.  I chose Coley from my local fishmongers – this piece of 100g cost less than £1.50 – what a bargain!  As the fish monger said, “Cheaper than Mr Birdseye!”

Fish fingers

Blitz up your breadcrumbs so they are fine and delicate – I used up some focaccia from last week.  Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.  Toss the fingers of fish in the breadcrumbs to coat.

Before frying your fish – prepare the dressing.  Blitz up all the dressing ingredients adding enough oil to make a loose dressing and enough lemon juice to give it a nice acidic tang.

Lemon caper dressing

In a non-stick frying pan heat enough groundnut oil to cover the fish fingers.  When hot, carefully add the fish fingers – they should bubble and crackle as they enter the oil.  The oil might spit so watch out! 

Fish fingers

The fish fingers should take a couple of minutes to cook through and start to turn golden.  Drain on paper towel when cooked.

Add a good handful of watercress to your plates.  Add the fried potatoes and the fish fingers.  Finely drizzle with generous amounts of the dressing.  Serve additional dressing in a bowl for people to add as they like.  Eat straight away!

This recipe is inspired and slightly adapted from Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Food’.

Hot fish and chip salad

Hot fish and chip salad

Hot fish and chip salad

Warm Winter Salad

Somehow I think a dish like this for dinner won’t fill us up – certainly not a hungry man.  But it does.  And it’s incredibly satisfying and you’re not left wanting more.

Our winter salad leaves came from the ever wonderful Unicorn Grocery and our eggs were the loveliest organic free range eggs from Abbey Leys’ broody bunch.

Here’s how to make it…

Warm Winter Salad

Warm salad of winter leaves, crispy pancetta and a poached egg

Serves 2 for a scrumptious dinner or a light lunch

Couple of handfuls of winter leaves
6-8 thin slices of pancetta
2 eggs
Half a ciabatta loaf
1 clove of garlic
Squeeze of lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Tear up the ciabatta into bite-sized pieces and spread out on a baking sheet.  Thinly slice the garlic and sprinkle over the ciabatta, along with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Bung in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the ciabatta starts to go golden.

Whilst the ciabatta is crisping up, put a pan of boiling water on ready to poach your eggs.

Place your salad leaves in a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice, drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil and toss well.  Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper.

Once the 5 minutes is up, quickly remove the baking tray from the oven and lay the slices of pancetta on top of the ciabatta.  Pop back in the oven for about another 5 minutes or until the pancetta is crispy.

Meanwhile, poach the eggs.  This is how I poach eggs:

1) bring a pan of water to a simmer
2) I add a dash of white wine vinegar to help the eggs as I’m never confident without it!
3) carefully crack your egg into a small ramekin so the yolk doesn’t burst
4) using a spoon, I start to rapidly mix the water to create a whirlpool effect in the middle
5) carefully pour the egg into the centre of the pan where the whirlpool is and pray that it holds together! 

Usually I just judge by eye when the egg is how I like it – with a runny golden yolk.  I do one egg at a time.  For a more accurate way to poach eggs I’d suggest Delia.

Whilst your eggs are poaching, start to plate everything else up.

Pop a good handful of dressed winter leaves onto your plate.  Follow this with a scattering of the crunchy, garlicky ciabatta croutons.  Next I lay over the crispy pancetta.

Finally, as the eggs are ready carefully remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and let them drain for a moment.  Gently rest the poached egg in the nest of leaves, croutons and pancetta and dust with a little sea salt and black pepper.

Now cut open that beautiful orb encased in its fluffy white cloud to let that silky golden yolk dribble down over the croutons and pancetta.  Yum-ee.

Warm Winter Salad

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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