The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

stuffed arancini with smoky tomato sauce

Around three quarters of the tomatoes that we consume in the UK are imported, mostly from Spain, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Two years ago, an investigation by The Guardian newspaper revealed that migrant African workers picking Spanish tomatoes for export were being paid less than half the legal minimum wage and were living in atrocious conditions. The tomato pickers were not only charged “rent” for living in appalling squalor, they […]

Continue Reading →

vegetarian salade niçoise

A family friend keeps a variety of free range poultry, and the catalyst for this recipe came when she recently gave us a dozen fresh quail eggs. Aside from the eggs, maple syrup, olives, capers and lemon, the other ingredients in this dish came from my allotment plot, the Circus Garden. In getting to my kitchen they travelled just one mile in my bicycle basket. Had I instead purchased these […]

Continue Reading →

summer fruits creme brulee

Growing and cooking in harmony with the seasons, as I am trying to do, is based upon the fundamental recognition that no crop has a year-long life cycle. Of course, a wander up and down the fruit and vegetable aisles in our local supermarkets would suggest completely the opposite. There, fruit such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries appear to be in magical, perpetual supply, despite the reality of their relatively […]

Continue Reading →

green chickpea hummus

Earlier this year, as an experiment, I sprouted some dried chickpeas and planted them on my allotment plot, the Circus Garden. Traditionally, chickpeas are used in Middle Eastern, Indian and North African cooking. Around three quarters of the world’s supply of this highly nutritious, protein-rich food is grown in India and Pakistan, so I didn’t harbour great hopes for my own crop here on the outskirts of Worcester in the […]

Continue Reading →

courgette, aubergine and tomato tart

With a demanding job and a lovely but large and sometimes noisy household, I really treasure the time I get to spend immersed in the tranquility of my allotment plot, the Circus Garden, a special place where I can de-stress and unwind. The gentle pace demanded of a simple task like weeding turns it into an almost meditative act on a warm afternoon. Sometimes while I am there in the […]

Continue Reading →

hazelnut meringue gateau with raspberries and cream

If you are fortunate enough to grow your own raspberries then you’ll no doubt be harvesting plenty of them right now. I have brought back several punnets of them from my allotment plot, the Circus Garden, over the past week or so and it seems that with each return visit there are just as many more waiting to be picked. Raspberries are one of the easiest and most trouble free […]

Continue Reading →

gooseberry crumble and elderflower caramel ice cream

After two months writing this blog I’ve decided it’s time that I featured a recipe for a dessert, and I’m basing this one on a traditional allotment stalwart. Is there a fruit more quintessentially British than the gooseberry? It is perfectly suited to our temperate climate and, just a few generations back was so revered that “gooseberry shows” proliferated across the Midlands and North of England. But then the supermarkets […]

Continue Reading →

potato, spinach and broad bean frittata with mint oil

To me, there’s always a profound thrill in harvesting the first crop of potatoes on my allotment plot, the Circus Garden. You can never be sure what’s down there. It’s like digging for buried treasure. This year I’m growing eight different varieties of potato. That may sound somewhat excessive, and if I’m honest perhaps I did slightly overindulge myself at January’s National Potato Day at Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens (these […]

Continue Reading →

Indonesian style spicy noodles with summer cabbage

This year I am growing several different varieties of cabbage on my allotment plot, The Circus Garden, and all being well these should keep us supplied with cabbage from now through to January. Regular readers of my blog will know that I grow my vegetables using organic principles. This means that I do not use pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or artificial fertilisers. To deal with the pests and diseases that cabbages […]

Continue Reading →

pea, avocado and basil risotto

I grow a beautiful variety of pea on my allotment which for many years I’d known as Lancashire Lad, but which I’ve recently discovered is actually, rather more prosaically, called Victorian Purple Podded. Both Lancashire Lad and Victorian Purple Podded are what is known as heritage varieties, neither being available commercially. Such is the extraordinary way seed production is regulated that it is in fact illegal to buy or sell […]

Continue Reading →