Fennel and apple soup

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THIS was a soup they always used to serve at the original FX Mayr clinic in Dellach, Austria. It was used with a stale spelt roll to practice chewing – 30 times.

It is quick and easy although better if you some vegetable stock. Mix it half and half with apple juice to poach the onions, a potato and fennel and add a splash of cream at the end – about 15 minutes. Liquidise.

The whole apple is diced for decoration along with the fennel fronds. At the clinic they used this recipe to teach Mindfulness and an awareness of what you are eating.

Curd or fresh goat’s cheese rolled in herbs, orange zest garnish

IMG_1781THIS always looks cute and is no work. I used a fresh goat’s cheese from the market but you can do it with curd too which is a little more neutral and lets the herbs take centre stage. I scissor up a bunch and just roll the cheese in it. I am not a fan of overly presented coats of herbs on things because part of the interest is mopping up the herbs with the cheese and you don’t want uniformity. The trick here is the little orange flecks around the plate which are grated orange zest which add some unexpected zing. Serve with good sourdough.

Kohlrabi slices with chives

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KOHLRABI get their funny name from the German.  It is a cabbage (kohl) turnip (rabi). Seemingly no one in England or America could be bothered to give it a better name which is a bit remiss. But it is popular (Wiki says) in German speaking countries, also in India, especially Kashmir, although here its wild manically waving fronds it is a bit of a novelty still. As you can see (for any newbies like us)  it is green or purple though usually the rinds are taken off – but the leaves can be treated like kale. Here I just sliced and steamed them for 10 minutes and plated them with chives which they seem to like. You can also chop it up small and have it raw in a salad with cucumber and lettuce.

Amazingly they have more vitamin C than oranges and are generally regarded as a super super food…a point reinforced by their fresh crispness, almost a cross between apple and turnip, or a turnip that has reached puberty perhaps, voluptuous 🙂

Herb minestrone

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I LOVE minestrone when you are never sure what the weather will do. Somehow it manages to fill the gaps. This is a strictly vegetable version – no pasta, no beans but no worse for it – very busy using up everything that is still around like broad beans, peas, radishes, a fistful of herbs and of course fennel bulb and ferns plus courgette, pretty much the whole vegetable stall from the farmers’ market at this time of year. It all hangs on having a good vegetable tea.

And then stage two is a build up of good and pretty things sliced neatly and thinly and poached for a few minutes….

Japanese hijiki salad

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HIJIKI seaweed is rich in calcium, iron and magnesium. All seaweeds are alkaline. High consumption of sea vegetables is one reason put forward for the longevity of the people of Osaka. This is a classic Japanese starter, startling, easy to prepare and very rewarding and among other things notably good for the colon.

Usually hijiki is harvested in spring and then dried which turns it black. Soak for 10 minutes and it will triple in size. Discard the soaking water and then simmer again in clean water with shaved carrots for colour for another 10 minutes. Drain and dress with toasted sesame seeds.

Some recipes dress it with mirin, sugar and soy but more positively alkaline would be other elements like shelled endame beans or tofu.

Summer pudding

summerpudTHE trick with summer puddings is having just enough liqor to stain the bread and not so much that it sogs. Most recipes demand that you make a syrup with sugar – if you have too try agave instead – but if the fruit is ripe it can be sweet enough all right. Cooking for a short time helps bring out the natural sugars.

(Sugar is bad in case you had not heard because it interferes with your taste receptors so you don’t taste anything else and you end up becoming a TV addict watching the Great British Bake-Off. (Great show, Mary, just a shame about the sugar content)).

Just lightly poaching the berries though helps the sweetness and you can compensate at the end with cream or creme fraiche. Any berries are fine – it is the mix up that counts. It looks more difficult than it is…sliced bread makes it easier. This is how it should look:summerpudpour_1_1The skill is to have a little water in the pan to poach the fruits – say three minutes – and then you have a liqor which you can paint on or wipe the bread in and then fold it into a dome in the basin. Once you manage to get the top on, you need to weigh it down with a plate and something heavy to compress it some while it chills in the fridge. The other trick is turning it out without breaking it…

Braised chicories

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CHICORY obviously makes great, crisp salads but its bitterness also makes for a wonderful cooked vegetable. Here I have used red and green for contrast. Just cover with a little water, a little butter and off you go…chicories2

Just cook down till all the liquid, or most of it has evaporated. It is a wonderful colourful bitter surprise. Add a little butter at the very end. It would go well with grilled chicken if you want some protein.