Something delicious to do with Cavolo Nero

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Here is another good recipe for cabbage cooking, today it is the turn of delicious Cavolo Nero, which is not only abundant, but especially tasty, because this nice brassica, improves its flavour with a good frost!

Celery is in season as well in January/February, so it is good to try these two vegetables in this dish.

Braised celery, red onions and Cavolo Nero

Serves 4

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large red onion

½ head celery

500 g curly kale or cavolo nero or any other beautiful seasonal cabbage or spring greens

50 ml olive oil

50 ml water

a good measure of vermouth about 50 ml.

the zest of a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbsp parmesan (optional)


Pre-heat the oven to 180 C

Cut the onion into wedges

Trim the celery and slice in a diagonal, 1 inch slices are nice

Trim and wash the kale, reserve

In a large pan, heat up 1 Tbsp of olive oil and sauté the onion for one minute; add some of the greens and sauté for another minute.  Transfer to a baking tray and mix well with the celery and the rest of the greens.

Mix the oil and water with the vermouth and pour this mix onto the vegetables, mix to coat well, season with salt and pepper and cover tightly with foil.  Put in the oven and leave to braise until the vegetables are soft.  This can take about 30 minutes.  If you want to make this dish in advance, cook until the vegetables start to look cooked but they still feel al dente, later on you can put back in the oven and continue cooking until they are soft; this last process can last about 8 minutes. Once ready, mix with the lemon zest.

Serve on a dish and decorate with some shaved or grated parmesan and eat immediately.

Half marathon on behalf of Second Sight

I need your money and with that to help restore the sight of millions of people in rural India.

Last October my husband Oliver finally got a place to run the London marathon and in solidarity I started training again, this time the training happened with my friend Paula who had done very little running in the past.  We did a programme that begins with one minute jog and it stretches to complete a whole marathon.  I had decided to train with Paula and hopefully get her to like jogging, and also I wanted to do all the training with Oliver as well.

What began as a solidarity campaign, has become a challenge that I feel I need to complete on behalf of Paula and Oliver!  At this point Paula is unsure she can join due to personal issues and Oliver is not able to compete for health reasons.

This means that I am training more or less alone and this is quite challenging…, now the running has more meaning, I am doing this to get funds to help second sight

To run 13 miles is nothing compared to the daily challenges that blind people have to endure to live a normal life.  There are millions of people in rural India who are blind due to cataracts, they don’t need to be and they won’t be if you help to sponsor Second Sight, you can do this by sponsoring my run, by buying this book or from your own initiative.

Twenty pounds is enough to buy a round of drinks at a pub, a meal at a mediocre restaurant or to restore somebody’s sight in India.   If you want even more for your money you can give twenty pounds and get this very inspiring book that tells you the story of this interesting charity.  ALL the money raised goes towards restoring people’s sight.

So come on! Like Bob Geldof once said GIVE US YOUR MONEY and restore the life of somebody by giving back their sight.   To make it extra easy, click here and donate.


Thank you.

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Caldo Verde or something delicious to do with a Savoy Cabbage

Wintertime is cabbage time and here is a recipe that is says simplicity all over: Caldo Verde.  This is a very simple Portuguese soup that uses Savoy cabbage which is abundant at this time of year, you can also use spring greens, Cavolo Nero, and plain or curly kale for this.

This is a meatless version, if you want to add meat, try some pan fried pancetta, chorizo or some sausage.  Delicious winter warmer, cheer me up type food!

Serves 4 – 6

Medium sized Savoy cabbage about 400 g

1 kg potatoes

3 garlic cloves, peeled and made into a puree

2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

1.5 litres of vegetable stock

½ tsp pimenton –maybe more according to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with finely chopped parsley that is pounded with olive oil and pimenton –if you want you can add a little garlic to this mix.

Prepare the cabbage by removing the outer leaves and cut into quarters, then core and slice very finely.   Peel and dice the potatoes and put in a pan with the garlic, tomato, pimenton and stock.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes and break the potatoes to a rough puree.  Season with salt and pepper and add more pimenton if you want.

Just before serving, add the sliced cabbage, bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minues or until the cabbage has cooked.

Make a garnish by putting some finely chopped parsley, pimenton a clove of garlic and some olive oil, pound and mix until it resembles a puree.

Serve in bowls and put a teaspoon of the garnish.

A wine event

François Rabelais University, Tours, France
and the European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food, Tours, France (IEHCA)
announce the Ninth summer school in Tours, France
August 28 to September 4, 2011
Wine, economy and social norms
In most cultures, alcoholic beverages have a symbolic function. For various reasons, the place of wine is quite special. Consumed regularly, wine has profound economic and cultural connotations. The choice of a wine defines the nature of an occasion (solemn, official, convivial or intimate) and the relationship between drinkers. Whatever the occasion, the social and cultural meanings of various wines and “crus” are quite complex, following subtle rules (connected to ordering and context, etc.), such that the drinking of wine has given rise to its own vocabulary and related discourse. As a powerful marker of social status, wine choice and consumption may also be used as a means to identify oneself with a community, or nation. Drinking wine is therefore a means of affirming ones identity, as well as communicating, associating, and sharing with others.
Following on the proliferation of historical, anthropological and sociological works on the production, trade and consumption of wine, this Summer School will view wine through the lens of the long-term, exploring a range of methods and concepts while encouraging interdisciplinary approaches.
Thibaut Boulay, Maître de conférences, ancient history, University François-Rabelais, Tours, France
Allen J. Grieco, Senior Research Associate, Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Villa I Tatti, Florence, Italy
Marc Jacobs, Director FARO, Flemish interface centre for cultural heritage, Brussels, Belgium,
Peter Scholliers, Professor of History, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
Harry West, Professor of Anthropology, Chair Food Studies Centre, SOAS, University of London,
If you are interested, please contact Marie-Claude Piochon at: who will forward a program (latest update) and the registration forms.

Seville Orange Marmalade / Mermelada de Naranjas de Sevilla

For those who happen to live on northern latitudes, January can be seen as a bleak month, when after all the jolly of Christmas, we are left over with extra pounds of belly fat, with short days that seem to take an eternity to become longer and with a desire for something exciting and new to happen.

The appearance of Seville or bitter oranges (citrus auriantium) at fruit stalls and markets certainly is no cure for winter nostalgia, but it can be seen as some kind of first aid: their bits of green/yellow and orange colour, provided by these fruits can be added to our seasonal cooking palette.  These fruits become like the first rays of sunshine, coming to our rescue from those winter blues.

And rescue they do.  Seville oranges are only available for roughly a period of six weeks from early to mid January and they are used mainly for making marmalade because they have a high pectin content and also because they are very sour and bitter as a fruit.

Gorgeous it is to see these oranges at the shops and glorious is the smell they produce when they are turned into conserve.   To make a large batch of marmalade every January not only gives you enough stock to spread on your toast for the rest of the year, it also gives you a sense of seasonality.

It is fun to turn the kitchen into a production line, invite friends and family and make large batches of marmalade, you can achieve a lot by sharing jobs and have a great time during the process.

So when you see Seville oranges at the shops buy loads, don’t eat them as a fruit, instead turn them into marmalade.  This in time will become something that will make you appreciate January.

Recipe for Seville Orange Marmalade

This recipe comes from Stephanie Alexander’s cooking bible: The cook’s companion

Makes 1.5 – 1.8 litres

1 kg Seville oranges

3 large lemons

2 litres water

2 kg sugar

old jam jars and lids


Begin by peeling the rind of the oranges and lemons using a potato peeler, then cut into long strips or julienne.  Juice the fruits and reserve the pith and seeds –this is important, the seeds are full of pectin that you will need later on.  Place these inside a muslin bag or cloth and tie well.  Put the juice, muslin bag, water and zest into a non-reactive saucepan [stainless steel] and bring to the boil;  as soon as this happens, reduce to a very gentle simmer, partially cover the pan with a lid and cook for one hour, stirring from time to time.  You want to reduce the liquid to about half of its original volume.  Take off the heat and leave covered overnight.

The day after, begin by squeezing the muslin bag very well of any liquid/pectin, remember any pectin is valuable, so you want to really squeeze as much liquid as possible from the bag.

Add the sugar to the citrus mix and stir well, heat up gently, stirring all the time, up to boiling point.   Once it begins to boil, stop stirring and leave to bubble for about 7 minutes or until it comes to setting point.  Test for setting using a thermometer, it should reach 104 C, if you don’t have a thermometer, just place a blob of marmalade on a cold plate and leave for a couple of minutes, push your finger into the marmalade, it should separate in two halves; this is setting point.  If this does not happen, continue boiling for a bit longer and test until you are able to do so.

Sterilise your glass jars: Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse well in hot water.  Submerge  into a large pan full of boiling water for 10 minutes, carefully take out of the bath and place upside-down over a clean tea-towel to drain.  Dry well by putting them inside an oven at 150 C.  Take out of the oven and avoid touching the insides of the jars and lids.  While these are still hot, fill them with hot marmalade and then screw on the  lids.  Do this with care.

Leave them to cool down, a vacuum should be created, you can tell this by feeling the concave shape of the lids when they are cold.  Label and date the jars… when you open a jar in July and see the date, you will remember the day you made this!


Month Sow indoors Sow outdoors When to harvest Jobs to do  

July Basil 

Summer Lettuces

French Beans Beetroot 

Chard/Swiss Chard

Summer Lettuces



French Beans

Runner Beans


Broad Beans

Summer Cabbage

Chard/Swiss Chard



Summer Lettuces

Onion autumn sets


Potatoes (early) Spinach


Watch out, at this time things grow overnight, so start doing constant harvesting and eating the best produce ever. 

This is also a time of starting getting on with a schedule of preparing in the kitchen, if you have surpluses, you might want to do conserves or plain freezing!