Smitten by a Chiogga- Candy striped beet, be my valentine, anytime…

ImageNow, what could be prettier than that? Some of my favourite one-clove red garlic, a candy coloured chiogga beet, a blue tile from home and… Ok, so the little pock-marked fellow in the middle aint so charming but what this jerusalem artichoke lacks in beauty, it fully makes up for it in taste! This last week I have making soups, and using these gorgeous beety beasts in salads and coleslaw! I used them raw by the way plus I used them in the curried chickpea soup!

Some people have commented I am quite a good cook. Actually this is very, very kind of them and probably untrue. What I am is a rather greedy person, who is very curious about using new ingredients, who rather detests spending money on bad food, and who has the luxury of having time to experiment! Good cooking is a learned behaviour and as I frequently say to students, if you can read (or watch) then you probably can cook. Good healthy, frugal cooking using all our wiles will be the trend this year as the recession bites deeper and food becomes dearer.

I also grew up with two diabetic (type 2) parents who were both good cooks and loved to grow and harvest food. Lucky me to have been surrounded by reasonably good & plentiful food (although, we all ate too many baked goods, and lived off the fat of the land, literally) all my life, unlucky Mum & Dad to have suffered from the dread disease of our developed age. But on to sunnier things, namely cauliflower, jerusalem artichoke, potatoes, veggie stock and if you are feeling naughty some cream!

Soups are easy. These are the basics – begin with a chopped onion in some olive oil and fry gently until translucent. Add in your raw veggies such as cauli florets, chopped cubed potatoes, roughly peeled and chopped jerusalem artichokes and fry for a few minutes without browning. Add in a good litre of hot water with a crumbled stock cube, and cook until veggies are al dente (tender to the bite).

Hey presto, you got yourself a soup! Now you can blend it, or mash it or leave it with chunks. You can add some saffron, some cummin, some other fresh herbs or you can leave it as it is! Naturally you have to taste it and add any seasonings, freshly grated black pepper and salt. Serve with BROOD’s spelt cake (I mean bread of course!)

By the way these little creatures – the Jerusalem artichoke-  are not potatoes but members of the sunflower family! Lovely though!

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