I don't think I have ever posted about my love of vegetable boxes. It is a real treat to get a box of mystery ingredients and then being able to decide what to cook (obviously not in a scary "Masterchef...lots of pressure/you have 40 minutes to create the dish of our dreams" way but in a more relaxed, browsing all my cook books for recipes kind of way). Being faced with a vegetable you don't usually cook, may take you out of your comfort zone but it means that we usually end up with a dish we have not tried before which is a good thing. There are lots of good vegetable delivery companies local to us and I support them as often as I can. We are also blessed with a good few farm shops that sell local produce. When I am looking for a treat and particularly when I am in need of lots of fresh herbs I order from none other than Gregg Wallace's vegetable company. They deliver to lots of the top British restaurants and I have to say (I am biased of course given the MC connections) that the vegetables are simply excellent - lovely micro leaves, peashoots, borage flowers and chive flowers and really fresh veg and fruit - lots of unusual things that I don't normally see in standard veg boxes. Each box comes with a large bag of fresh herbs - some of which I chop and freeze in ice cubes for a rainy day and the remainder of which I put in everything I cook until I have run out. There is something so decadent about having a large pile of herbs to use, rather than picking sparingly from the garden so that I don't use up my whole supply or buying the little packets from supermarkets. With my last delivery, I made oven dried tomatoes with some delicious yellow baby tomatoes that were in my box; simply cut your tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet with baking paper or a silicon mat, drizzle with a good quality olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, course ground black pepper and fresh herbs. Bake in the lowest possible setting of your oven for approximately 2 hours (Aga simmering oven is ideal for this) checking every half hour (and more often towards the end) until they are dried. Transfer to a sterilised jam jar and cover with olive oil to preserve. These are perfect in salads or with pasta.
Gregg's vegetable boxes are available from www.greggsveg.com
Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx