The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

halloumi cooked in buttermilk, with coriander, lime and chilli dressing

Amongst the many herbs I grow on my allotment plot, the Circus Garden, there is always space for coriander (cilantro), which I sow from seed saved from the previous year’s plants. It is one of the oldest culinary herbs, with records of its use in ancient Greek, Egyptian and Roman cooking. Saving seed to sow again the following year in this way is a natural and traditional activity, although it […]

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strawberry crumble with elderflower ice cream

“Man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself”. —Rachel Carson, Silent Spring It was good to see on Tuesday of this week that the google search engine had as its theme an illustration depicting what would have been the 107th birthday of Rachel Carson. Rachel Carson was an American biologist and author of the seminal work “Silent Spring”, about the devastating […]

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broad bean, spring onion and oregano soup

With Spring now in full sway down on my allotment plot, the Circus Garden, I had (quite literally) a growing number of ingredients from which to choose when creating this recipe to mark National Vegetarian Week. What started as a mere trickle of plants just a few weeks ago – the initial, tentative shoots of asparagus, the first stirrings into life of mint, chives and other herbs – has started […]

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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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samphire, hazelnut and roast lemon salad

In a relatively short period of time high fructose corn syrup has replaced natural sugar as a sweetener right across the food industry. It is now widely used in products such as cereals, breads, cakes, crackers, soft drinks, soups, yoghurts, baked beans, ice creams, ketchups and salad dressings. In fact, so pervasive is this product that it might be just as easy to list those commercial food products that don’t […]

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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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