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.

Here’s a Way to Help You Keep the Weeds Down

I would be lying if I said that I was an organised gardener. My allotment certainly takes on the “wild” look and this also extends to the piles of pots and lost tools that I spend endless amounts of time trying to find. As an unorganised gardener, I also have a big problem with weeds and slugs and, if you’re reading this, I imagine you must do too.

I would love to have days and days to spend neatening up my allotment plot, but the reality is that other things like work come in the way. If you’re young or you’re new to growing your own food, seeing an entire plot of land consumed with weeds is not motivating – particularly if you only have a couple of hours a week to spare gardening.

So how do you deal with weeds and more with so little free time?

I’ve been asking myself this question for months. If you don’t get rid of the weeds, your delicious crops lose all of their energy, the slugs have a place under the weedy growth to thrive and decimate plants and, if they even survive all of that, growing so close to these dominating neighbours will result in harvests that are tiny and sad.

But now I have a plan, and you should try it too

By taking out my phone and timing myself on one patch, I discovered that it only took 10 minutes to do what was a couple of square metres of earth. My allotment is big, but by multiplying this time by the ten or so plots I’ve created on the allotment, I worked out that I could get the entire stretch done in well under 2 hours. And this is clearing weeds that have been allowed to establish for months!

Granted, much of the weedy growth on my plot has been killed back by placing cardboard, newspaper, manure and veg waste thickly over the greenery in the past three years. However, even a tougher job, when broken down into a specific time, looks much more achievable.

Now, moving forward, I can plan to do anywhere between ten and twenty minutes of de-weeding a week. Furthermore, I can be sure that next year’s crops will grow and flourish the way that they are supposed to, without bindweed clambering, grass sprouting and brambles clinging.

This isn’t a ground-breaking new technique to get the whole plot done in less than a second (although please let me know if you do manage to do this). Yet, like almost everything about gardening and growing your own food, it’s all about changing your mentality and making life easier.

If you’re working on a new garden or allotment this year, or you’re struggling to keep on top of things – remember – it’s far better to break large jobs into smaller chunks than attempt to do it all at once.

Do you have any tricks for managing weeds and juggling a busy life? Let me know in the comments below!

youngground reviews: Café Kino

Bristol is the spiritual home of alternative culture. From veganism to multiculturalism, it leads in so many ways. For non-meat eaters who live in Bristol, the city is a haven of alternative food. For those who live outside of the city, a pilgrimage to Bristol is well worth it.

Every corner and every street in the city has a new and exciting eatery to tempt you in. Instead of having to rely on the small box on the side of a menu offering a salad or a bog-standard veggie burger, us meat-avoiders can sit down and eat a meal that is as full of love and passion as any top-quality steak.

Stokes Croft is a densely-packed feast of treats. Along with the bright graffiti and fantastic pockets of music and rhythm deeply engrained into the street’s identity, each restaurant and café you pass holds its own inspiring menu and decor.

Café Kino is a pioneer in vegan thinking. The eatery and café’s ethos is all about community. And this sense of a big community is only reflected in their rich menu. From a selection of non-dairy milks to go with your coffees and teas to vegan cheese to top your chips and your burgers, Kino has considered the tastes and interests of everyone. There are no traces of meat anywhere on the premises, of course. Whilst that may turn off those kings of beef, by taking out that most common of ingredients you’re left with a menu that challenges, inspires and excites.

Slightly political note: linking back to Kino’s community ethos, this also applies to the wider world. With demand for meat increasing at an alarming rate, those quality steaks are going to become rarer. By looking at alternative cuisine based on pulses, grains, nuts and soya, we can continue to enjoy rich-quality food at much cheaper prices.

And boy, was the burger I ordered delicious! Again, not an ounce of cheese in sight. Kino do offer vegan cheese to top your food. However, I really didn’t miss the cheddar once I tucked into my meal. Whilst cheese has become an essential ingredient for everything, my burger matched any cheesy quarter-pounder and the beautiful, flavoursome tomato salsa I layered on top of my burger took the definition of a vegan burger to new heights.

Meat-obsessives: be a little more open-minded and give Kino a try. You can go one day without meat. To my fellow non-meat lovers in the UK and beyond, Kino alone is enough to make the journey to Bristol.

The Grow Your Own Food Challenge Begins

The Grow Your Own Food Challenge begins

Yes, it’s finally here. Spring is only just around the corner and the chance to save money, introduce fantastic flavour and live a healthier lifestyle are all within your grasp. I’ve created a little introduction which can find below:

I’m challenging all of you who are reading this now to have a go at growing at least one edible plant this year. Here on my blog and on Facebook and Twitter, I’ll be posting daily sowing updates and videos, hints and tips, recipes and more to encourage you all to have a go yourselves. You don’t need a garden, you don’t even need an outside space – a windowsill is often enough to grow some delicious salads.

I don’t just want to witter on to you for 6 months though – this is a conversation that all of us can join in and come away from feeling inspired. So share your pictures, ask questions and get growing!

Let’s start this growing revolution!

Beat the January Blues: My Easy Veggie Tikka Masala

How do you make the poor month after Christmas more exciting? The weather is still cold and there’s not much money in the pot so eating out is not an option.

Well, there is one way that you can celebrate: make your own easy, delicious curry by following this ridiculously easy guide. Oh, and by the way, it’s both veggie and vegan friendly!

TOTAL APPROXIMATE COST: £4.64

DAYS IT’LL LAST: 3

Go on, treat yourself this evening and have a tasty curry, you won’t regret it and you’ll save money as well!

Like what you see? Why not check out some of my other tasty, cheap and exciting recipes here.

I’d love to see your results, why not share them over on @youngground or on facebook and we can celebrate a foody January together!

young ground reviews: Acorn Kitchen

I know how much you love food. Call me psychic, or whatever, but I know how much you value food above all aspects of your life. I mean, in truth, who doesn’t?

I’ve gone to such extraordinary lengths to satisfy my food cravings recently. So much so, in fact, that I’ve been cutting out drinking time and replacing it with top nosh from some swanky places. This might sound a bit adult and a bit boring (two words I really dislike), but as much as a regular McDonalds or a Pizza Express is nice now and again, with a little bit of money put aside, you can afford some really delicious food.

Continue reading young ground reviews: Acorn Kitchen

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

Jazz Up Your Lunch: Cheese on Toast

Cheese on toast is one of those really easy meals that we have to fall back on when there is either nothing else left in the house, or we’re tired and can’t be bothered to cook the amazing curry we had planned for the evening. Yes, we’ve all been there.

Check out my blog post on how to make an omelette that will beat that takeaway feeling, here.

How do you make your cheese on toast? When you think about it, the possibilities are endless. However, I guarantee that most of us just use ordinary cheddar, as I have in the photo above.

Continue reading Jazz Up Your Lunch: Cheese on Toast

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

How to Grow in Small Spaces #1

Although I have a large allotment plot, I take every opportunity that I can get to grow my own food. At home, I have tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, salads and beans all growing away. It might surprise you to know that many of these vegetables can be set up with limited space.

Tomatoes only need grow bags, or 30cm pots to grow. Beans will also happily grow in these pots and salads can be set up in any sized container, from mushroom tubs right up to big pots.

Today, in just 3 easy steps, I’m going to show you exactly how you can create your very own growing space using just a windowsill.

Continue reading How to Grow in Small Spaces #1