Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sowing Tomato seeds - Fenda & Corazon

This year, I'm growing two new varieties of tomato: 'Fenda' and 'Corazon'. After all the excitement of The Big Allotment Challenge, it was nice to receive these seed packets from Marshall's seeds inviting me to do a seed trial.

Tomato 'Fenda' is a rose pink 'Rose de Berne' type tomato. It is fleshy and almost seedless, which will be interesting. Hopefully, they will be brilliant for making sauces and jams. 
Tomato 'Corazon' is an oxheart 'Albenga' type tomato. The fruits are large with few seeds and has a "superbly tasty, meaty flesh".  

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Thai fish cakes recipe for the Sainsbury's Love Your Freezer campaign

Thai Fish cakes with fish from the freezer ...

It's surprising what you can make with ingredients from your freezer, isn't it? Sainsbury's have launched a Love Your Freezer hub to encourage people to get the most of their freezer and help them to make quick and delicious food.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Baba Ghanouj (Aubergine Dip)

When I was a contestant on The Big Allotment Challenge, we were tasked with making dips using our own allotment produce in Week 3. Baba Ghanouj is easily my favorite dip and the main reason I go out for Lebanese food... mmmm.... This is a lovely smoky aubergine dip that is quite easy to make and tastes delicious. Serve it with pitta bread or vegetable crudités.

Ever tried this?

To get that smoky taste, a whole aubergine is grilled over the hob. To see how it's done, watch this video and read the original recipe here (SBS Australia). This is where I learnt how to make Baba Ghanouj.

Tahini is paste made from ground sesame seeds. I used Tahini by Sainsbury's which is available from Sainsbury's.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Growing Potatoes for the show bench on Big Allotment Challenge

"Best in Show" Potatoes - Big Allotment Challenge "Grow" challenge (Photo courtesy of BBC) 

In The Big Allotment Challenge, we were tasked with growing new potatoes for the show bench for our first Grow challenge.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Growing Zinnia on the Big Allotment Challenge (Ep. 1)

Zinnia garden in August - masses of blooms (shown at the front is Zinnia Sprite, Zinnia Giant Dahlia mix)
While working on the Big Allotment Challenge last year, the gardeners were tasked with growing Zinnia for the Week 1 Floral challenge.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Foraging for Christmas decorations

With Christmas just around the corner, I feel inspired to make some nature themed Christmas decorations for our home. It's my fourth Christmas in England, and as each year goes by, I learn more about British traditions from friends and family and am particularly intrigued by the tradition of foraging for natural resources to hand craft Christmas decorations during the festive season.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Aubergines in Sambal

Aubergine / Eggplant in sambal recipe ...

Tantalising tender velvety aubergine with spicy sambal

Whether you call them aubergines, eggplants or brinjal, one thing that we can all agree on is that cooking this deep coloured fruit/vegetable can be tricky. They seem to absorb all the oil from the pan almost immediately and can take forever to soften; and even after extensive cooking can still be tough.  How do you achieve silkiness rathern than chewiness?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Big Allotment Challenge - I'm in!

Big Allotment Challenge - official photo (courtesy Silver River Productions)

I am so excited to fiiiiinally be able to tell you what I got up to this past summer.

Earlier this year, I was asked to take part in a gardening contest on a television series called The Big Allotment Challenge (Series 2)!!! Woohoo!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Make your own Sambal Chilli Paste using fresh chillies

Favourite chilli paste recipe using fresh chillies ...

This is a fragrant, smoky chilli paste that can be added to noodles, fried rice, stir-fries, casseroles.

Recently, I entered a chilli competition run by Victoriana Nursery and ended up winning 5 kilos - yes, 5 kilos of freshly picked chillies. When they arrived, I gasped. It was a biiiig box of chillies. After many hours of heavy duty pickling and freezing, I decided to use the remaining chillies to make a Malaysian chilli paste called sambal.

There are so many sambal pastes in Malaysia, some made from raw chillies, some are left to ferment and some, like the Sambal Tumis are made from cooked chillies (the word "tumis" is Malay for sauté). You know what happens to chillies when they are cooked gently over a low heat for a long time? They turn deep red and develop a kind of sweet smokiness; and tantalising flavours emerge that taste completely unlike it in its raw form.

To make this sambal paste, you will need to de-seed the chillies, which is actually not as tedious as it sounds. I don't wear gloves, but most people would advise you to. Having spent my childhood years in Malaysia means that I have no fear of chillies, nor the heat, nor the inevitable burning sensation which comes with handling them. Its not that I don't feel the burn, it is just that it doesn't bother me.

The chillies you choose for your sambal will depend on your taste and tolerance threshold. I prefer to use a combination of medium and hot chillies, so that the end-result is palatable and does not cause pain.