Hold the front page – vegetables are big news! Or rather the lack of veg from the continent, Spain in particular. Rationing, unheard of since 1955 (and even then veg wasn’t rationed, everyone grew their own) was the supermarkets’ answer. Only three Iceberg lettuces per customer led me to wonder who would ever want three iceberg lettuces and a shortage of courgettes to boot.
Of course all this mild panic may be because many of us have been given courgette spiralisers for Christmas but can anyone honestly say they were bothered? There is plenty of local veg around and although the variety is less in the winter we even has salad leaves in our medium and large boxes last week, courtesy of Steve Parsley from Walmestone.
However, the news did serve to show us how reliant the supermarkets are on imported veg and how the vagaries of our weather patterns are affecting our everyday lives.
Thanet Farmer’s Market
Why not come along to the Thanet Farmer’s Market this Sunday? There’s been a change of venue this year and future markets are at St George’s School in Ramsgate. We are always at the market and you can find more details at www.kfma.org.uk/Thanet. The market starts at 9am and continues until 1pm
In your boxes………………….
We have a first again this week with pak choi from Steve Parsley. If you’ve never cooked pak choi its really simple. Just slice it lengthways and add at the last minute to any stir fry or thai curry. Its got a really delicate flavour.
Recipe 1: Slow roasted Brisket of Beef with carrots and mushrooms – serves 6
Some comforting food for the bitter cold weekend forecast
1.25kg boned and rolled brisket (unsalted)
vegetable oil large knob of butter
2 x large onions, halved and sliced 2-3 x celery sticks, finely chopped
2 x large carrots, sliced on the diagonal
250g mushrooms, halved or sliced depending on size
2 x bottles of dark brown ale or stout (about 660ml)
a few fresh thyme sprigs 2 x bay leaves
1-2 tsp light muscovado sugar (depending on the bitterness of the beer)
half tsp ground mace salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard
chopped fresh parsley, to serve (optional)
The night before cooking, place the brisket in a large bowl and pour over about 500 millilitres of ale. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight. The next day, drain the meat, reserving the ale. Pat dry and season.
Pre-heat the oven to 190c / Gas Mark 5.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and quickly fry the brisket so that it is lightly browned all over. Put on a lidded casserole dish or deep roasting pan, while cooking the vegetables.
Using the same pan, add a knob of butter. Add the onions and carrots and fry for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the reserved ale, together with the bay leaves, ground mace, thyme and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Check the seasoning and add more sugar if necessary.
Pour all the vegetables and liquid over the brisket. The liquid needs to come up to about two-thirds of the brisket. If it doesn't, add the rest of the beer, or water (or even vegetable or beef stock. Cover tightly with a lid or with kitchen foil.
Cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 160C / Gas Mark 3 and continue to cook for 2 hours until tender. During the cooking, turn the brisket twice and make sure that the liquid isn’t drying out. Add a little more water if necessary. Remove the beef and cover with foil, to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. To serve, use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables and place in a warmed serving bowl. Add the mustard to the cooking juices and whisk to combine. Pour a little over the vegetables and the rest into a gravy jug to serve. Scatter a little finely chopped parsley over the vegetables.
Recipe 2: 20 minute Thai Red Curry with Pak Choi – serves 2
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 skinless chicken breasts, sliced
1 small onion, finely sliced
100g (3 1/2oz) fine green beans, trimmed and halved
150ml (1/4pt) chicken stock
1 pak choi, leaves separated
300ml (1/2pt) reduced-fat coconut milk
1 tsp soy sauce or fish sauce
handful coriander leaves, finely chopped
160g (5 1/2oz) basmati rice
lime wedges, to serve
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken and onion, cook for 3 minutes, then add the beans and stock. Simmer for 3 minutes, then add the pak choi leaves.
Stir in the coconut milk, then reduce the heat a little and simmer for 3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through with no pink meat showing. Stir through the soy or fish sauce and scatter over the coriander.
Meanwhile, put the rice in a pan with 320ml (11fl oz) salted cold water. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes, covered. Serve the rice with the curry and lime wedges for squeezing over.