In the second of our blog posts following our recent trip to River Cottage HQ in East Devon we’re going to focus on the food. We wanted to share with you what we cooked, and ate on the day itself.
Coming back in from our tour of the garden we set to work with our Chef/Trainer for the day Connor. Each new recipe was demonstrated by Connor, with questions encouraged throughout. After that it was back to our work stations to try out each of the recipes for ourselves. Connor was both knowledgeable and helpful, we learned some great tips during the day.
One such tip – grate a tomato straight into the pan for your tomato sauce, leaving the skin in your hand. Who would have thought something so simple would add such speed to a dish! No more submerging tomatoes in boiling water for me, there really is more than one way to skin a tomato! A further revelation was how little you need to make a vegetable stock using our vegetable scraps, along with herbs from the garden. Also it’s worth mentioning not to add onion skin as it colours the stock and adds a bitterness you don’t want.
River Cottage had some gherkins ready so as an extra that day we also made pickles. Connor encouraged us to go into the garden and forage for aromatics and flavourings for our pickle. I opted for lemon verbena, garlic chive flowers and nasturtium seed pods which have a lovely peppery taste (who knew!). Michelle went for a different set of flavours so we could enjoy a little taste comparison later. Pickles are best when left to sit and as we’d travelled with hand luggage we were going to have to leave them. A huge thank you to Vanessa from The Juicing Company who volunteered to take our pickles back up North for us. Very kind but also a great excuse to meet up again once we’re all home!
The staff warned us all right up front not to be too greedy too quickly, advice we were glad we paid heed to as we ate lots! We enjoyed eating everything we made, however most noteworthy was the carrot hummus, simply beautiful to eat warm. Also our entire work station loved the hot sweetcorn salsa! However, if pushed I think the aubergine curry was a real hit as we both love aubergine. This recipe was quick to make and packed full of flavour, ready in 20 minutes. Here’s a few photographs of what we cooked:
lunch 1: carrot hummus, french beans with tomatoes, sweetcorn with chilli & coriander
lunch 2: vegetable broth with summer cabbage & tomatoes
lunch 3: aubergine & green bean curry
Finally, to end our day of cooking, Connor had kindly made us some River Cottage Watermint sorbet – a perfect palate cleanser after the spicy curry. Connor then went on to point out that not only had we cooked vegetarian that day but in fact the entire day was Vegan. Now it’s fair to say that neither of us are going to be giving up meat any time soon! That said, it did highlight how easy it is to take good seasonal produce and cook meat and dairy free.
Since coming home I no longer look at my vegetables in quite the same way. With a little thought and attention you can produce a lovely plate of food, with very little. I’ve taken vegetable scraps and filled my freezer with lovely vegetable stock. The hot sweetcorn salsa is a real hit with my daughter who loves it. Furthermore I’ve used techniques learned on the day to rethink our own recipes.
We’ve decided to share the recipe for carrot hummus, not our recipe but definitely one we will be making again.