Goats Cheese, Butternut Squash and Leek Pasties

Whenever I head home, the sight of a takeaway is rare. And this is where my love for homemade food comes from. With my stepmum also being a vegetarian as well as an advocate for Riverford veg boxes, the food is rich with variety and flavour. On a recent visit back to my hometown, I came away with some gorgeous roasted vegetable pasties, and this is what has spurred me on to try my own.

Boy, were the results worth it!

First of all, there’s something about combining squash and goats cheese that takes you to another level of happy. But then, by putting this into wholesome shortcrust pastry along with onions and leeks makes it even better.

Perfect for having anytime of the day (yes, even breakfast if that’s how you roll), these pasties will keep in an airtight container for three days, meaning easy work lunches too.

Goats Cheese, Butternut Squash and Leek Pasties (Serves 2)

Ingredients

Half a butternut squash, de-seeded and with the outer skin removed

Readymade shortcrust pastry

An onion, diced

One small tub of goats cheese

A leek, chopped

Pinch of cumin seeds

Olive oil

Pinch of rosemary

Seasoning

An egg yolk

Set your oven to gas mark 6/200C. Lay the squash onto a baking tray and drizzle over the olive oil. Scatter your salt and pepper over the chunks and top this by adding some fragrant cumin seeds. Slide the baking tray into the oven for around 30 minutes. In this time, lay out your shortcrust pastry and, using a bowl, cut out three or four circles. Lay these onto another baking tray.

Once the squash has roasted up nicely, remove the tray from the oven and start placing your slices onto one half of each circle. Layer your diced onion and leek on top of this and finish with a hint of rosemary and a good dose of goats cheese. After the filling has been prepared, take the other side of your pastry and roll it over the filling, pressing down the close with a small roll of extra pastry.

Taking a brush, cover each pasty in a thin layer of egg yolk. When all of your pasties are covered, place the baking tray back into the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the pasties are golden.

Serve these wintry delights up with a green leafy salad and some wholesome boiled baby potatoes for the full effect.

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Did you enjoy this recipe? I’d love to know what you thought – hit me up in the comments below.

Want To Start Growing Your Own Food? Here Are 3 Things I’ve Learned

Winter is the perfect time to start getting your space ready for next year. Throughout the five years that I’ve been growing my own food I’ve picked up lots of advice. Here are 3 Things I’ve Learned Through My Growing Journey So Far:

1 – Only Grow Radish If You Love Eating It

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This is a really important first point. If you’re eager to start your growing journey, don’t grow everything that someone on a blog or in a book has, especially if you don’t like it.

Start small and start with your favourites.

Whilst homegrown food can make all veggies taste miles better, you’ll still end up wasting time, effort and produce because you really don’t like certain crops.

In my case, it’s celery and celeriac and all of the aniseed-flavoured vegetables. I’m still not a huge fan of radish either and can really take or leave Jerusalem artichokes. So I don’t set aside space for any of these things, instead focusing on my favourite food. Pumpkins and squash fill the plot, tomatoes and peppers grow nice and ripe in the greenhouse and the strawberries and raspberries surprise me year after year.

Every year I treat it like my first. I sit down and plan out what I want to grow depending on what I like to eat.

However, it’s also about what is going to reward you the most. As a vegetarian, I need lots of protein and iron from my food so I choose to grow leafy greens and peas and beans over broccoli. This is because I know I can get more meals out of a pot or plot of beans than I can from broccoli. The same often applies to potatoes, which take up huge amounts of space.

With Small Space Garden launching officially next year, I’ll be offering guides on some of the best crops that you can grow for nutrition as well as for quantity and ease.

2 – Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

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It can be easy, as I found out, to grow a ton of plants in the first year, yet when it comes to maintaining the plants, you’ll find yourself swamped. With only a couple of hours to spare you want to keep only a few really productive crops at first.

If you’re a single parent, work over 40 hours a week or you’re busy in other ways, most plants will cope very well with just one watering a week. Unless the weather is scorching, you can leave them in peace most of the time. With some tomatoes you’ll need to pinch the tips out and stake the stems to support and encourage fruit. I’ll be creating several handy guides for tomatoes next year, so watch this space!

3 – If You’ve Only Grown One Leek This Year, It’s Still An Achievement

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One of three leeks I managed to grow this year

Weather, slugs and poor seed stock can make growing your own a bit of a nightmare. Whilst slugs and the weather can be controlled to some extent, there is always something else around the corner. What is important to remember for any budding grower and gardener is that even the one tomato you’ve harvested from the ill-looking vine is a powerful thing.

Growing your own food isn’t just about the harvest – although that is very important. It’s also about the power and the independence. The connection with the earth and with nature, no matter how big or small. By nuturing a plant through to fruit, you have taken control of your food and you have engaged with the whole process. Trust me, the world looks like a very different place! After all, gardening is cool and growing food that you can eat and cook meals with is even cooler.

What have you learnt on your allotment, garden or balcony this year? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!

Healthy Breakfast Apple Muffins

 

How many of us, rushing to get to work, forget to eat our most important meal of the day? Porridge is a faff, cereal and milk isn’t portable enough to eat on the way to work and expensive smoothies are completely out of the question. Well, like all things in life, plan ahead and you can both perform at your best and not be eyeing up a horse by the time your lunch break arrives. Even better still, this recipe takes only an hour out of your week and you can enjoy the rewards throughout.

Healthy Apple Muffins

 

Ingredients

150g of whole-wheat flour

50g of oats

½ teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

½ teaspoon of vanilla

1 egg

75g of butter

75g of honey

2 apples grated

1 apple sliced with skins kept on

 

 

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The Cooking…

Turn the oven onto Gas Mark 5/ 180C.

Grab a cake tray and place your muffin cases into the slots.

Measure out your whole-wheat flour, baking powder, oats, cinnamon and salt and add these to a large mixing bowl. Next, cube your butter and drop this into the bowl. Using only your fingers, gently combine the butter into the flour. Once the mixture begins to resemble breadcrumbs, make a well in the centre of the mixture and add your egg. Taking your spoon, fold the dry mixture into the egg, following the figure of eight to ensure that air gets into the batter.

Next, add your grated apple, honey, vanilla essence as well as the chopped pieces of apple. Stir these into the batter carefully again, making sure that you don’t rush the mixing. When this is done, transfer your batter into the cases and slot the cakes into the oven for around 35-40 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the knife comes out clean. As the muffins cool, add a little drizzle of honey over the tops to give your cakes even more flair.

Pack into an air-tight container and the muffins should keep for a week. Enjoy as a healthy alternative ready to get you on your way in the morning.

 

How to Grow Salads Without a Lot of Space

Want to grow your own food but you haven’t got a garden? You don’t need one.

Behold the windowsill garden plan:

Continue reading How to Grow Salads Without a Lot of Space

Easy Sunday Comforts: Apple and Lavender Tart

Sundays are great. Although Sundays signify the last part of the lazy period – the wholesome feasts of food you’re likely to have at the end of the weekend are the best. This week, why not have a go at something a little different with my recipe for apple and lavender tart? The lavender gives this dessert a little more fragrance, making it even better alongside custard!

Continue reading Easy Sunday Comforts: Apple and Lavender Tart

How to Grow in Small Spaces: Balconies

The beauty of living in the city is that you’re very close to shops. Whilst this is often a very useful thing; you’re bringing home that bag of salad, or those tomatoes still clinging to the vine which are costing you a fortune. The truth is, much of this stuff can be grown easily, and it can be done without huge amounts of space. All you need is a little bit of time and some forward planning and you, too, could be enjoying your very own food.

Continue reading How to Grow in Small Spaces: Balconies

3 Ways to Play with Pumpkins: Pumpkin Houmous

I’m on a mission, a mission to show you that pumpkins don’t just make great decorations at Halloween. In this 3 part series of blogs, I’m going to prove to you how you can make some great meals with pumpkins that also save you a load of money. You can see my recipe for soup here.

Continue reading 3 Ways to Play with Pumpkins: Pumpkin Houmous