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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

Friday, 16 May 2008

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

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

yes, i hear that gregg wallace gives 'spanking' fresh vegetables and 'whips' them out really fast.....

Sylvie said...

I've been meaning to check for a veg box scheme around here for ages. The dried tomatoes sound like a super idea. Will have to try them.

Lucy @ Smallest Smallholding said...

Partly what I love about having my own veg plots to choose from, is standing there and formulating a meal plan from what's ready to pick. Makes you a bit more creative too when you have a glut. Last year I had to think up 1001 things to make with potatoes, onions and carrots...

Susan aka NotQuiteJuneCleaver said...

Dear Hannah,

Those veggies look divine! I have been coming to your blog for ages and every post is something so so lovely. Thank you for sharing!

milhan said...

Funny you should post about this now - I just signed up for an organic produce delivery service. I get my first box next week (I like the term "veg box" lol)...

Between that, and my own garden, we should be well supplied this summer!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I'm a huge fan of the veg boxes, too. We've been getting ours from Riverford, and they've made a huge impact on what we eat and how we eat. But now I've looked at Gregg's site - thanks for the link! - I think we're going to have to give his a try, too. I want to play with micro leaves, cook up salad blues, and put borage flowers in my Pimms!

Marie said...

Unfortunately we had a bad experience with the veg box scheme we tried out a year or so ago. I would love to find one that suited us. The vegetables we got were delivered two days late and were obviously the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel. We are very gun shy now!

Lucy Ellis said...

Good to hear you talking about peashoots. I work for a company that is promoting pea shoots this season. They are now widely available in supermarkets for those who do not use veg boxes. We would love to send you some to try. If you would like to find out more do email me at lucy@ktbpr.com