I was reminded after reading Chow Vegan this week that despite being a vegan for a good few years and a veggie for many more before that, nature still always manages to surprise me with new vegetables.
At a market last week, I came across wild garlic, which was a new one on me. Despite seeing it mentioned in several recipes, sometimes under the alias of ramsoms, I'd never seen it on sale anywhere. So, when I stumbled across bunches of it at a market, I new I had to take some home with me.
After the 'hey, this is cool!' wore off, I wasn't really sure how exactly you cook wild garlic. It's got long thin stems and large leaves - did I need to separate the two? Do you cook it like spinach? Or chop it up and sprinkle on top like spring onions?
After a quick crawl around the web's recipe sites, I'm not sure I was any better off.
So, I decided to do what any right-minded cook will do with a new ingredient - fry it with mushrooms! (Note: this probably doesn't work for sweet ingredients. Chocolate sauce and mushrooms? Maybe not)
I chucked the wild garlic in with the almost-cooked bunch of mushies (a mixed bag from the same market, heavy on lobster and oyster varieties) and some parsley. The whole lot got piled on some toast and voila!
For my next wild garlic foray, I decided to pair it with the half a courgette that was in the back of my fridge in this recipe for wild garlic hummus. It's basically just courgette, wild garlic, tahini, oil and garlic, and it comes out a lovely vivid green colour.
I decided that something so wonderfully green needed to get involved with yet more greenery in a bagel - here it is teamed with asparagus and cucumber.
After snaffling this, I felt a bit like the Goldilocks of wild garlic eaters - my first attempt had not enough wild garlic flavour, the second had waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. I mean, it's not that it wasn't tasty, but you felt like you'd gone ten rounds with a bunch of wild garlic by the end of it!
So, somewhere between my two experiments lies the right amount of wild garlic for a savoury dish. I loved the flavour (once I found it!) so I'll be trying out some more recipes to try and work out just where that right garlic balance lies!
Something else I made recently was this curry, after pondering what to do with a half tin of coconut milk leftover from another recipe. While I've made no end of Indian curries, my Thai curry experience is fairly limited. Can you believe that? Cleary an oversight on my behalf.
Where to turn for a reliable vegan curry recipe? The Asian Vegan Kitchen of course, which would probably just about scoop the coveted title of my favourite vegan cookbook of all time.
After making the paste - whizzing up the likes of lemongrass, chilli, coriander, cumin and lime leaves in my blender - there wasn't really much else to it. Just fry the paste, add your veggies and coconut milk and let it do its thing for a while. I was quietly impressed with the result - it wasn't perfect (given I didn't have a few of the ingredients) but it was bursting with flavour and an easy way to make a bit of squash and bok choi into a wow-worthy weekday meal.
And to add further evidence to my defence that I don't just eat cake, erm, here's a cake I made. The recipe's meant to be for a single serve microwave cake (you can find it here), but by splitting it between two ramekins and baking for a bit, you can deliver a two-person chocolate dessert of just the right size for a Joey and her other half. Yum.