Wednesday, 31 October 2007

G & the butternut squash

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Graham with our sole butternut squash

In the beginning

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While we're only starting out with the blog now, we've been working at our allotment since May 2007. Beth has been taking pictures on her camera phone ever since then so we can see the progress we've made along the way.

This shot, and others Beth took back in the early days show exactly how bad our plot was when we took it over. I'm amazed looking back at this picture just how far we've come in a short space of time. As you can see, we inherited nothing but a load of long grass, and couch grass at that - which is the stuff with really long string-like roots.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Spinach and Ricotta Canelloni

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This is a bit of an experiment, inspired in the most part by Hanan. I'm thinking of starting a blog about our allotment and what we do with the produce, so last night I took pictures of our meal as I was preparing it.

I started off by visiting our plot to pick some spinach leaves, we have a great variety that allows us to continue picking it as it grows, so we can go for the younger tastier leaves! The spinach was heading for the dinner plate in the form of canelloni, much as follows...

Ingredients (serves 2):
1 egg
100g pasta flour (type OO if you can get it)
A good pan full of washed spinach (say a 300g bag if you buy it)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tub creamy ricotta cheese
freshly grated parmesan
chilli or chilli powder
1 large tin plum tomatoes
herbs (I recommend basil)

To Cook:
Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 6 (200 C).

Make some pasta (or buy canelloni tubes) with the flour and egg. Place the flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle, beat the egg, then fold into the flour. When the mix starts to come together, knead it until it forms a silky smooth ball. Wrap in some cling film and place in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes to cool. Roll the ball into a sheet using your pasta machine.

Make a rich tomato sauce to dress the canelloni tubes. Chop the tomatoes and place in a small pan with some chopped herbs and salt+pepper to taste, you could add a chilli to give it a kick if you want. Put the pan onto heat, reduing the mix down slowly to form a rich, intense tomato sauce.

While the sauce is reducing, heat a little olive oil in a large pan, add the garlic and some chilli to taste (you could use a chilli oil instead). When the garlic has softened add a handful of the spinach and allow to wilt, continue adding more spinach until you have wilted it all down, mixing with the garlic and chilli oil as you go. Take off the heat, and allow to cool a little.

Chop the spinach and place in a bowl. Stir in the ricotta cheese to form the filling of your canelloni. If you have dried tubes, stuff these with the mix (you can use a pipe bag, or just fingers and spoon). If you have a fresh sheet of pasta, place a line of the mix across the sheet and roll into a tube. Continue stuffing tubes, or rolling until your mix is exhausted.

In a tight fitting oven proof dish, pour a little of the tomato mix on the base. Place the canelloni tubes on the top, then cover with the remaining tomato mix. Sprinkle the grated parmesan on top and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Serve with a crunchy green side salad or some garlic bread on the side.