The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

vegetarian

pumpkin seed, cranberry and nut tartlets

For decades official nutritional guidelines have warned us that saturated fats cause heart disease. This guidance was based upon the findings of a single, biased research project carried out in the 1950s, but it has taken the best part of sixty years to overturn those findings. Earlier this year Cambridge University became the latest respected institution to publish research which concluded that saturated fats are not, and never have been, […]

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kale, quinoa and nut roast en croute

vegetarian Christmas dinner recipe for kale, quinoa and nut roast in crispy puff pastry

Well, now it’s December I reckon it’s probably safe to start talking about Christmas. And for those of you looking for a vegetarian alternative to the ubiquitous turkey, here’s a recipe for a stunningly good, meat-free Christmas dinner. In our household Christmas is a busy and often raucous occasion, with usually anywhere between 10 and 16 for Christmas dinner, which is always followed by a loud and raucous Christmas quiz […]

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spinach, mozzarella and basil polpette

California, the state known as America’s breadbasket because it provides so much of the USA’s fresh food, is going through its worst drought in a generation. California is used to drought, and its fertile growing region has survived plenty of such droughts in the past. However, what is happening there to deal with this latest challenge is typical of the responses to water shortages in areas of intensive agriculture across […]

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beetroot, kale and blue cheese tartlets

Last week was rather a good week for the “Save Farm Terrace” campaign. The campaign was set up to try to save an historic allotment site in Watford from the predatory clutches of the local borough council and housing developers. On Thursday, a judicial review – which had followed a High Court ruling last year – again overturned a decision by the UK government’s Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to allow […]

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roasted cauliflower and thyme risotto with lemon pangritata

A couple of months ago I received an approach from Suma, a vegetarian wholefoods cooperative based in Yorkshire, who asked if I would be willing to create recipes for their bi-monthly catalogue. Suma runs on strong ethical principles, specialising in fairly traded, organic and natural products, and as a workers’ cooperative to boot they pretty much tick all the right boxes for me, so I was delighted to accept their […]

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smoked cheese and chive beignets

Where would we be without herbs? Our world would certainly be far less sensuous and magical. Gone would be the rush of heady scent conjured up as you brush past a basil or lavender plant on a warm summer’s afternoon. And without the transformative culinary impact of these wonderful plants imagine how uninspiring and insipid our food would become. Herbs are one of the first plants to appear in the […]

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smoked paprika tagliatelle with asparagus and wild garlic pesto

This week’s recipe combines two flavour-packed delights of early Spring, asparagus and wild garlic. Asparagus is at its best right now whereas wild garlic is already heading towards the end of its short but prolific season. If, like me, you are fortunate to be able to forage for wild garlic locally, please only ever pick the leaves not the whole plant, and always take only what you need. On reflection, […]

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rosemary and pine nut semifreddo

As the weather continues to warm up, the new season’s array of herbs are sprouting up in my greenhouse and all over my allotment plot, the Circus Garden – mint, oregano, chives, parsley, French tarragon, horseradish, basil, coriander, lemon thyme, lemon verbena and fennel, alongside more unusual varieties like blackcurrant sage, lemon basil and basil mint, each offering a range of different culinary possibilities. But one herb has always been […]

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beer battered asparagus with lemon and gherkin aioli

There are few things more dramatic in the vegetable garden than the way the first of the new season’s crop of asparagus suddenly and proudly pushes its head out of the the soil. The arrival of the asparagus crop signals a turning point in the growing year, when the other early vegetable envoys for the new season start to limber up, getting ready to take their bow in the warm […]

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wild garlic tartlets

According to Joanne Blythman’s book “Bad Food Britain”, which I have just finished reading, something dramatic has been happening to our collective cooking knowledge and skills over the course of a couple of generations. Fifty years ago the average British family meal took 1 hour and 20 minutes to prepare and cook. By 1980 that figure had dropped to an hour. Now it takes on average just 13 minutes to […]

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wild nettle pizza

During the transition between the end of winter and the middle of spring is a period which traditionally was known as the “hungry gap”. This marked the grim phase of the growing calendar when the last of the hardy winter crops had been used up and the new season’s first crops were not yet ready to harvest. In times gone by the poor had to rely on whatever food they […]

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flageolet bean and crispy leek risotto with truffle oil

A recent study published by Cambridge University revealed that people who live or work close to fast food outlets have an increased likelihood of obesity simply because it means they are more likely to be tempted to eat unhealthily. It seems we are simply unable to restrain ourselves when we are presented with the opportunity for a quick fix of cheap, highly processed, energy-dense food. The Cambridge University report reminded […]

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