Celery, Parsnip and Spring Onions !
April 22, 2009
Spring is truly here. Everything is in flower and growing. The fruit trees are flowering and lovely to see walking through Rathmines. The magnolias are in full bloom. The streets are carpeted in pink blossom.
And under the trees is lots and lots of wild garlic… Lovely white star shaped flowers. I will be making pesto with it today. I hope Sarah is having Springtime on her hols….
In the garden the broad beans are flowering. This is a transition time. Winter veg like spinach are about to finish in the next few weeks; it is a little early yet for the new veg of spring. Scallions (spring onions are up) having overwintered. Parsnip is still in season from winter. The new season wet garlic is in. This week we span two seasons, that ending and that starting with parsnip, celery and scallions….
I took some time off in my thirties and travelled. I loved New Zealand.. the spectacular scenery.. The mountains.. the fields of lupins . I loved, loved the seasonal food and the wines. In every small town was a bakery and in that bakery every day were baked fresh seasonal muffins, pear, pumpkin and feta, roasted veg. Before this I knew muffins from travelling on business in the US – horrible sweet factory made junk. I was converted.. I bought this little book by the New Zealand doyenne of muffins Alison Holst called Marvellous Muffins(http://www.holst.co.nz) and have adapted a few recipes below for you.
Let me share with you some recipes for savoury muffins to have with soup and some sweet muffins to have with friends. If you have kids bake them with them. If not share them with friends who will be so delighted to get something home baked as so few people bake now.
Avocado, cheese and sundried tomato(or bacon) muffins
250 g of plain flour sifted
4 tsp of baking powder
grated black pepper
1 tbsp sugar
pinch cayenne or 2 of paprika
110g grated mature cheddar
4 scallions chopped
3 rashers bacon chopped (or use about 75g sun dried tomatoes)
1 cup full fat milk
juice of half a lemon
pumpkin seed (optional)
Sieve dry ingredients into a bowl. Add cayenne, grated cheese and chopped spring onion and stir well. Cook bacon in pan with no fat or grill and then chop finely.
Melt butter add eggs and milk and beat. Halve avocado, skin and cut into cubes, Sprinkle with lemon juice. Add to liquid mixture with bacon or sun dried tomatoes. Fold two mixtures together.
Put into either muffin papers in a muffin tray or into a silicon tray (optionally adding sprinkle of pumpkin seed)and bake in a preheated oven at 200 C for ten minutes or until the muffins spring back when pressed with a finger.
This recipe can be varied… chunks of roasted parsnip with rosemary and feta and a parsnip, rosemary, olive and feta soup. crunchy chunks of celery mixed with ham and blue cheese, Roasted squash, feta and pumpkin seed… Roasted red pepper, roasted tomatoes… Go for it !
It is nice to put in a little wholegrain or spelt flour but beware. These flours go off fast so buy in small quantities and use fast.
If the weather keeps up serve this soup chilled with the hot muffins.. Really great. The soup is very low cal so makes up for the cheese and butter in the muffins.
Tomato, apple and celery soup.
140 g onions peeled and roughly
1/2 head celery about 200 g trimmed and with the strings removed. Reserve the green fronds at the top for garnish (dont worry if yellow that is from blanching the celery while growing)
1 garlic clove peeled and crushed
1 400 g can tomatoes
150 ml apple juice or cider
225 ml veg stock
salt and black pepper
Melt the butter in large heavy bottomed pan. Add onions and celery and cook for ten minutes stirring until onion soften.
Add apple and crushed garlic and cook for 5 minutes then stir in chopped tomatoes, apple juice and veg stock. Bring to boil and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes
Cook soup slightly then puree til smooth (if you are very fussy then sieve but if you destringed the celery you are fine)
Then if serving hot bring soup back to the boil add sugar and season.
If being fancy put on top a dollop of yoghurt or creme fraiche and some of the chopped reserved fronds and finely chopped spring onion greens.
This recipe is adapted from a great book called Eat Well Stay Well by Good Housekeeping (http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/). I highly recommend this as a cookery book and also as a great resource for cooking for special diets. This soup is suitable for low fat, low cholesterol, low calorie and diabetic diets (and gluten free if careful re stock).
For those of you on vegan diets put a handful or red lentils in when adding the tomatoes to increase the protein.
If you want to make this a more substantial meal have some salad after: something green and some
potato salad with chopped scallions, mayonnaise (I mostly use bought), a tbsp of whole grain mustard and a squeeze of lemon and maybe stuffed devilled eggs (with or without anchovies). Hardboil eggs remove yolk mash with mayonnaise and paprika, Add chopped scallions and maybe some anchovies.
If you have courgettes in your bag this week this is a good opportunity to roll out the marinated grilled courgette recipe I gave you last week.
Another lovely option is celery sticks and carrot batons with hummous (can of chickpeas pureed with lemon juice olive oil and garlic and tahini with lots of chopped garlic on top) or with a blue cheese dip. Hope you have some left to juice !!
Carrot/Parsnip and Walnut muffins
Cane sugar has always been imported to Ireland. In the days when it was more expensive and scarce people made use of the natural sugars in root vegetables to bake cakes. We continue this by using carrot, parsnip and beetroot in our baking. It is also a great way to get children to eat veg. Try this its nicer than you think
100 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice (or use 1/4 ground cloves and 1/2 ground ginger)
160g brown sugar
50g chopped walnuts
handful sultanas (optional)
125ml vegetable oil
100g grated carrot (about 1 medium carrot)
100g grated parsnip (about one medium parsnip)
Icing (optional as you may find they get eaten before cold enough to ice)
50g cream cheese
25 g icing sugar
juice half lemon
Sieve the first 5 ingredients into a bowl. Add sugar, walnuts and sultanas and mix.
Beat the oil and eggs together and add carrot and parsnip
Mix two mixtures gently.
Bake in muffin tins at 190 degrees C for about 15 minutes
When cooled beat all icing ingredients together and ice
Savoury muffins are great for a lunch box and will keep for a few days in a tin.
Sarah will be back next week but in case you miss her here is a link to a posting on scallions she did for a veg box recipe site in the UK. http://blog.vegbox-recipes.co.uk/2009/03/09/marchs-third-veggie-in-the-spotlight-over-wintered-spring-onions/ for Panfried Spring Onions with Goat’s Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts.