Allotment Diary: Comfort foods for summer days
As she shares two of her favourite comfort-food recipes, Katie Moore of Allotment says cooking is a real source of solace in these strange times
Asparagus Puff Pastry Tart
It’s a strange and disconcerting time at the moment. Our lives have become much narrower, unable to socialize with friends and go out to eat at our favourite restaurants, and the simple pleasure of cooking has become something to shape the days around. Swapping out trips to the supermarket for veg box deliveries and walks to the local shop forces a degree of creativity in the kitchen, but whatever is served up is cherished more than ever. This first recipe uses delicious local asparagus alongside a medley of pantry staples to create a vibrant and easy meal.
1 pack ready rolled puff pastry
150g crème fraiche
1tbsp Dijon mustard
100g grated gruyere (or any hard cheese you have)
1 bunch asparagus
100g frozen peas
1tbsp olive oil
50g toasted nuts or seeds
Zest 1 lemon
Salt + pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Unroll the puff pastry and lay it on a baking sheet. Carefully score a line 2cm in from the edge, all the way round. Prick the middle with a fork and then bake for 10-15 minutes until puffed up and golden.
While the pastry is in the oven, mix together the crème fraiche, mustard and cheese with a good pinch of seasoning.
Snap the woody ends off the asparagus spears then blanch for 1-2 minutes (depending on how thick they are) before setting aside in a bowl. You can use the same boiling water to blanch the peas for 1 minute as well. Using a potato peeler, peel ribbons from the courgette until you are just left with the watery centre which you can discard. Put the ribbons in the bowl with the asparagus and peas and toss in olive oil, salt and pepper.
Once the pastry is baked, remove it from the oven and gently press down the middle which will have puffed up a bit. Spoon the crème fraiche mixture within the border and spread evenly all over. Scatter the asparagus, peas and courgette over the top, and make 4 little wells. Carefully crack one egg into each well and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the eggs are cooked but the yolks are still slightly soft.
Sprinkle over the grated lemon zest and toasted nuts or seeds and serve straight away with a simple green salad and some buttery new potatoes.
Blueberry & Dark Chocolate Cookies
Makes approx. 12
I find that my tendency to snack has vastly increased over the past few weeks. A little sugar hit seems to keep spirits up and baking is a perfect way to spend an afternoon. These cookies are really easy to make and the dough can be kept in the fridge for up to five days, ready to pop-in the oven when you need a fix.
125g unsalted butter, room temperature
60g caster sugar
60g brown sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
180g spelt or wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
Maldon/sea salt to sprinkle
Coconut flakes to sprinkle (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Beat together the butter and sugars until pale, but not too fluffy, approx. 1-2 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then add the salt, egg and vanilla, and mix again until smooth.
Add in the flour and baking powder and mix until everything comes together into a dough. Finally, fold through the blueberries and dark chocolate chunks. At this point the dough can be covered and left in the fridge for up to 5 days before baking.
Spoon golf ball sized balls of dough onto the baking sheets, leaving room between them as they will spread while they bake. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and some coconut flakes over the top of each ball then bake for 10-12 minutes until golden on top. Leave to cool and set for a few minutes before enjoying with a cup of tea.
For more information – including where to find Katie’s fabulous food – follow @allotmentcafe and see allotmentbakery.co.uk
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