Waxing Lyrical: Abeego

http://www.asliceofgreen.co.uk/food-preparation/abeego-variety-pack-3-wraps-small-medium-large.html?aid=4127

I am sure you thought I had completely lost my marbles when Monday’s email landed in your inboxes. Pictures, pictures and more pictures- and not a word from me. Well, I wanted to give you a little idea, with no description, of how wonderful these new Abeego beeswax food wraps are. I do have to admit at being hesitant at first, when a friend extolled their virtues. Let’s be perfectly honest, I am a clingfilm and tinfoil girl all the way- rolls of the damn things jammed into drawers (always, by the way, stored in that one tricky sticky drawer in your kitchen, which, with a too-vigorous tug, gives way and lands on your foot, breaking several metatarsals on the way. Or that may just be me…). We have all become increasingly concerned at the amount of stuff we use: wipes, washes, shower gels. Sponges, disposable cups, plates, and throwaway tablecloths. I can’t bear it- and, although I will readily admit to using a few of the aforementioned nasties, I have been attempting to decrease my disposable consumption. Not just in the kitchen, of course, but everywhere- I really do welcome any prospect of reducing my carbon footprint- it’s pretty much our duty to attempt to do that, I feel, and every little helps, as they say.

Having used these Abeego wraps for 4 weeks now, I can honestly say they have become a staple in my kitchen cupboard.

http://www.asliceofgreen.co.uk/food-preparation/abeego-variety-pack-3-wraps-small-medium-large.html?aid=4127

Abeego wraps are an ethical, recyclable and organic beeswax alternative to the usual rolls of tinfoil and clingfilm one generally uses in the kitchen. Of course, you won’t discard your clingfilm and tinfoil rolls completely: I think that would be a disingenuous thing to say. Rather, you will find yourself using the Abeego wraps frequently; perhaps every day- as a perfect alternative to the other wraps you usually use. It’ll be the best of both worlds: have the tinfoil and clingfilm on hand if you need it, but use the Abeego wraps as your go-to choice of food-wrap. That’s what I do now: it seemed weird at first, but after only four days, it has become a habit.

Abeego food wrap

We use ours, as pictured,  for covering bowls of things- covering herbs, wrapping sandwiches, saving pieces cheese, and of course, for wrapping vegetables such as avocados and peppers. The wraps are soft, pliable, and so easy to use: the natural beeswax quality of the wrap ensures they adhere to most surfaces, and of course they still allow the food to breathe without drying it out. I also have used mine to wrap dampened flowers in- if you’ve picked a bunch of flowers from the garden for someone, or you have bought a bunch from the supermarket and want to give it to someone as a gift, these wraps are beautiful to wrap the flowers in. AND the recipient can then use the wrap afterwards!

Once used, all they need is a rinse under cold water, and a wipe- and they are ready to use again.

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Abeego: from A Slice of Green.

 

Guardian Reader Recipe Feature

Guardian Reader Recipe Swap

Just a very quick post today: but completely forgot to pop this on the blog- my Watercress and Feta Frittata was chosen as one of the recipes in The Guardian Reader Recipe Swap, for their Feta theme. I was so thrilled to open the paper and discover the little recipe in amongst all of the others chosen for that Saturday’s Cook Supplement! As you may well have gathered from the blog, I use feta a lot in my recipes (the Pecan, Grape and Feta Salad still has to be one of my favourites) and of course watercress is part of our day to day living- what with Andy farming the stuff, along with all of their other leaves. It’s a perfect mid-week/end-of-week meal- which is why I thought it appropriate for today.

I’ve popped the recipe down below again for you- or, if you fancy taking a look at The Guardian’s site, just click here.

Watercress and Feta Frittata

The Plain Kitchen

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Ingredients:

About 10-12 new baby potatoes, boiled, drained, sliced in half and set aside

1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 small clove garlic, microplaned

1 tbsp olive oil

Good knob salted butter

4 eggs

150g feta cheese, cut into cubes

few sprigs fresh oregano, finely chopped, and a few extra leaves for decoration

½ bag watercress leaves, chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

½ tsp Maldon salt

Good grinding black pepper

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Method

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan until frothy. Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 8 minutes. Add the halved boiled potatoes and the red pepper, and saute gently for a further 2 minutes. Add the feta cubes and chopped watercress, the salt, pepper and oregano, followed by the eggs. Shake the pan to ensure everything is easily distributed. Keep on a medium heat for a minute, then top with grated parmesan, pop in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let rest in the pan for about 5 minutes, before running a spatula around the sides of the frittata, and gently easing it out onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with oregano leaves, and serve.

BBC Good Food Magazine: Artichoke Bake

Justine Wall BBC Good Food

The holidays have come to an end, small people have been dispatched to school, probably with a little more gusto, on my part, than is wholly necessary, and the piles of linen and washing from holidays continue to inhabit the dining room table, quietly waiting to be tucked back into drawers. It’s a month of slight discomfort; we struggle to adopt long-forgotten routines, week-night wine drinking suddenly seems hugely inappropriate; we mourn the demise of the heat, yet wait impatiently for some non-existent meteorological oracle to assure us that wearing jumpers and jeans and lace-up shoes is now completely acceptable. Although, to be fair, the last part of that sentence is pretty much me even in 30 degree heat: I never find such attire uncomfortable at any time of the year, and can often be caught wearing layer upon layer in glorious sunshine.  And dear friends laugh at me, of course they do, but I have become quite accustomed to that, I can assure you.

September, however, has also brought with it the brand new issue of BBC Good Food Magazine, which has eased the month’s discomfort and made me smile a great deal. The magazine chose one of my recipes to include as part of their Food Stories feature- and it looks so good. I am utterly thrilled with the inclusion, and so grateful to the team for including me. The Artichoke Bake was tested in the BBC Test Kitchen, and shot by Myles New- it looks, of course, way better than my little Plain Kitchen offering did all those months ago. The bake relies on a few trusted store cupboard staples, a well-reduced tomato sauce, and is so easy to make. If you missed it the first time round, I’ve posted the recipe here again: or of course, you can pick up a copy of the magazine!

Happy September to you all- and remember, even though week-night wine may seem inappropriate, it’s not.

Artichoke, Anchovy & Caper Bake

Serves 2, generously

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped

1 stick celery, finely shopped

2 cloves garlic, microplaned

1 small carrot, peeled and grated

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

2 tbsp olive oil

small knob butter

4 anchovies (salted ones, from a jar, which you have rinsed)

60g capers

2 tins chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp maldon salt

Good grinding black pepper

1 tin artichokes, drained

¼ cup parsley, chopped

¼ cup basil, chopped

¼ cup pine nuts

½ cup parmesan, grated

Method

In an oven proof casserole dish or frying pan, heat the oil and butter. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, anchovies and chilli, and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and tinned tomatoes, and turn the heat up till it is bubbling. Allow to bubble, ensuring it doesn’t stick, for 10 minutes. Add the capers, sugar salt and pepper and bubble for a further 25 minutes: this does seem a while, but you need the sauce to reduce somewhat.

Remove from the heat. Stir through the fresh herbs. Halve the artichokes, and nestle these in the sauce. Top with the cheese and pine nuts, and bake for 25-30 minutes in a preheated oven, until golden brown and bubbling on top.

The Plain Kitchen Gluten Free Artichoke bake

Bread & Butter Pickle, and A Wonderful Weekend

 

It has been a fortnight of friends and fun in our littleCottage and elsewhere; rather a lot of eating, drinking, and putting the world to rights over late night chats and attempting to watch Meteor Showers (a few sighted: not as good as last year, sadly). Long walks to clear slightly foggy heads the next morning have helped matters, followed of course by more eating and a little bit of relaxing, papers and the Olympics, a few cricket balls in the garden, children building forts in the house and nagging to go on the iPad, and the dog insisting on pushing the guests off the sofa to reclaim his self-appointed rightful place. All I can say on this last matter is thank goodness we have understanding guests. What a pleasurable, happy few weeks it has been. I am in fact writing this post while listening to The Food Programme on Radio 4, and Diana Henry is making me long for an aperitif, particularly a glass of Fig Leaf Wine, with lots of ice and soda water. Have a listen if you can!

The Plain Kitchen Food Blog Justine wall
This weekend I relied on a few old favourites and tried a few new recipes too. Spiced Duck salad, that trusted reliable of mine inspired by my Cape Town aunt Siobhan; a green and vibrant platter, on which you liberally add toasted walnuts, grilled peaches, goat’s cheese and fragrant, beautifully pink duck. This was accompanied by my creamy sunblush tomato jalapeno lentils that I’ve posted before- the lentils remain one of my favourite little bowls to do- and are so, so easy. We have masses of green beans in the garden, so the barbecued, sliced ribeye steak (from our local butcher, the ones I rave about) was joined by tahini cauliflower (I probably wouldn’t pair these two again, I have to say) and a huge platter of lemony, garlic green beans sprinkled with toasted almonds- a real nostalgic number. I dipped into Stephanie Alexander’s writing, and made her Carrot Almond Cake with pine nuts, from The Kitchen Garden Companion. I adore Stephanie’s cooking and writing- if you haven’t read and cooked from her books, I urge you to do so. They are great, wonderful tomes, and will give you many hours of pleasure, both in the kitchen and on the table. I made a very simple (but very sweet) Turkish Delight Semifreddo from South African Tina Bester’s beautiful little book Comfort. The semifreddo was served with raspberries, which provided a slightly sharp contrast to the semifreddo- looking back, I would like to have macerated the fruit with a little basil, or mint: I think this would have worked well, and I may not have included the chopped delight, opting simply for the inclusion of Rose Water. The Almond Pine Nut Loaf was served with dollops of mascarpone and double cream that I had added honey and vanilla to- again, perhaps cinnamon would have been good with this too. Turkish delight semifreddo

I may have mentioned before that my mother was Queen of Preserves and Pickles, and I shy away from making these as hers were so so good that I know I will never match Sandy’s output. However, I have always had a soft spot for Bread and Butter Pickle, and I decided to adapt one of her recipes, and came up with this one. It will keep in the fridge for ages, in sterilised jars for a few months, I reckon. Mum always poured liquid wax on top of her preserves and pickles, and then within the wax set a little wick, for easy removal.  I will forever remember lifting those wax lids with my little fingers, desperate to reveal the jeweled contents of the jars- it was one of my favourite things to do in the kitchen, and preserves and pickles will always have a heady promise of pleasure for me.

Justine wall the Plain Kitchen Food Blog

We spent last night with more dear, dear friends- who just happen to be the most exceptional cooks, and I am still dreaming about that table of platters: smoked meats, salads and bowls of gorgeous vegetables, followed by an equally resplendent pudding table- Salted Caramel Chocolate Cakes, Rose Water Syllabubs, Ricciarelli, and Baklava- just to remember and name a few. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes wake up after a quite show-stopping meal, and curse myself for not having eaten more, wishing that perhaps the leftovers that now hide in the hosts’ fridge would in fact be resident in mine. I certainly felt like that this morning! I love telling Barnaby that we are going to see Alison and Frank. He adores them both, and when I told him we would be eating with them, he replied. “Oh GOOD. They are SUCH good cooks, they are. Remember the SALMON, mummy?” I love how his little food memory bank is being made, an amalgamation of family and friends’ cooking, love, and offerings, close times spent with people, and simply doing that thing we underrate so much these days: hanging out.

Friends, and being together. What could be better?

Foodblog Justine wall

Bread and Butter Pickle Food blog

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

Bread and Butter Pickle

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

3 white onions, peeled, halved and finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and microplaned

10 small mini cucumbers, finely sliced

1 jalapeno chilli, chopped

1 red romano pepper, chopped

1 heaped tbsp table salt

1 1/2 cups white wine or cider vinegar

2 cups caster sugar

1 1/2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds

1 heaped tbsp turmeric

2 cloves

1 tsp celery seeds

Good grinding black pepper

Method:

Sprinkle the salt over the chopped garlic, onions, cucumber and pepper. Cover and leave for 2 hours, and then squeeze the excess water out and discard the water.

In a large heavy based saucepan, heat the sugar and vinegar until it reaches a boil. Allow to boil for a few seconds, then add the spices, and stir on a simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Add the strained, squeezed onion mixture to the spiced sweet vinegar, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. remove, and allow to cool. Please taste for seasoning. Serve immediately, or store appropriately.

Those Golden Date Balls

The Guardian Reader Recipe Swap

I can’t believe I didn’t post this little inclusion when it came out. I blame the holidays: everything is out of kilter, I am trying to keep on top of work and lovely new Hector and Haddock developments (more of that in the next post) and of course, I am simply enjoying the precious time with Barnaby. Added to that, it must be said, is the immense relaxation that has overwhelmed me having completed the year’s worth of recipe posts: I now go through each day, each week, thinking: How the hell did I do it for a year? Where did my energy come from? I think I am certainly beginning to replenish the energy spent on the challenge, if my little afternoon nap yesterday was anything to go by…

This super inclusion, pictured above, along with my morning toast and tea companion, came out in The Guardian Cook supplement a few weeks ago- the theme was Kids’ Parties, and Dale Berning chose my gold date balls (posted last Christmas- you may remember them? ) along with lots of other delicious sounding recipes. The link is below, if you fancy a read of the other inclusions.

Guardian Cook Kids’ Parties: Date Balls

Last weekend involved dear friends and eating and drinking lots, and I am currently preparing for a weekend of more friends: on the eating side,  chilli lentils, a lovely carrot, almond and pine nut loaf, and some delicious sounding Turkish Delight semi-freddo is on the cards: I shall let you know how it all goes.