September – season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and all that. The Soil Association have designated the month Organic September and are encouraging us to make one small change to our shopping habits to “go organic”.
When I purchase ingredients, it is the taste that is so important. Is it just coincidence that some of my favourite vegetables (from East Coast Organics) and charcuterie and meats (Peelham Farm) are organic? I’ve not actively sought them out as such.
I’m going to treat Organic September as a wake up call. I am going to think about how the food I buy is produced and I’m going to make a choice to try something different. Try Scottish organic milk perhaps – full of Omega 3 fatty acids. Try some organic tea or coffee (Real Foods have discounts organic baking products this month). It might cost a little more, but I am sure it is going to be worth it.
Organic September Recipes
I am doing my usual thing in adapting recipes I’ve come across. It usually happens because I don’t have the ingredients required to hand! I have used a mixture of organic and standard ingredients in each.
Cucumber Pickle with Edinburgh Gin
This is easy to make and the result has a great zing. It goes really well with all types of charcuterie or a mature cheddar especially on organic oat cakes. I used kilner-type jars from Ikea which have a rubber seal.
- 1 large organic cucumber thinly sliced
- ½ red chilli
- 500 ml cider vinegar
- 1 lime, zest and juice
- 30 gr granulated sugar
- 6 allspice berries
- 1 medium size red onion very thinly sliced
- 50 ml gin I used Edinburgh Gin
- 5 gr salt
- Springs of fresh mint
- Add the vinegar, lime juice and zest, chilli, sugar, allspice berries and salt in a pan and heat to dissolve the sugar.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Thinly slice the cucumber and onion. Keep separate.
- Take the mint leaves off the stalks.
- Now the fun bit. You are now going to layer the ingredients in the jar. First a layer of cucumber, then onion, then mint leaves and so on.
- Add half the gin to each jar
- Fill the jars with the set aside liquid and ensure that all the items in the jar are covered otherwise they will not keep Tap and then seal.
- You can eat after a day, or if properly sealed it will keep 6 months. Refrigerate after opening
Chocolate Madeira Cake
Recently I made a Thomas the Tank engine cake. When I was looking for information on how to scale up cake recipes, I discovered a recipe for a Chocolate Madeira Cake which I have adapted. It is moist and delicious. If you do bake in one rather than two trays, it will take at least 40 minutes to cook and might dry out a little. The orange zest in the filling really elevates the taste.
- 275 gr butter
- 300 gr caster sugar
- 10 ml vanilla essence
- 5 eggs
- 260 gr plain flour
- 75 gr organic cocoa powder
- 10 gr baking powder
- 20 ml plain yogurt
- 100 gr butter
- 100 gr icing sugar
- 25 gr cocoa powder
- Zest of one orange or satsuma
- Using a electric beater or Kenwood or similar, mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla essence.
- Beat the eggs and set aside
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together.
- Turn the mixer back on at a slow speed.
- Add a tablespoon of flour mixture, then an equal amount of egg.
- Continue to incorporate the flour and egg until all has finished.
- Add the yogurt and mix. The mixture is quite loose.
- Turn into the tin(s) and bake at 170C until cooked. If using two tins, check after 20 minutes. In a large tin it will take about 40 minutes.
- To test whether cooked, check with a thin skewer, it should come out clean.
- Allow to completely cool before filling.
- Mix all the ingredients together on a slow speed until all ingredients are smooth. Add a little water or orance juice if it is rather thick.
- Spread on top and in the middle of the cake.
Pearl Barley “Risotto”
This last recipe is a bit of a cheat as it is a pre-prepared mix from Green City Wholefoods full of good organic ingredients. Risotto is not quite the right word as the pearl barley grains have a different texture to rice but it will definitely be something I’ll keep in my cupboard for days when I am not sure what to cook. If you have a pressure cooker it will take only 15 minutes to cook. I made it twice, once with a vegetable mixture, the second with some left over chicken.
- 1 large onion
- 325 gr risotto mix or 300 gr pearl barley
- A selection of vegetables: peas, beans, carrotts. Allow at least 50 gr cooked vegetables per person
- Cooked meat or fish - at least 50 gr per person.
- Fresh herbs
- Rapeseed or olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste - you might not need any!
- Heat the oil in a pan (or in the pressure cooker)
- Gently cook the onion for 5 minutes.
- Add the Risotto Mix or Pearl Barley to the pan. Add a few sprigs of herbs.
- Add 500 ml water and either bring to pressure in the pressure cooker and cook for 15 minutes or boil in the pan until softened.
- When cooked, remove the sprigs of herbs. Add the meat or fish and heat through well.
- Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
Find out More
- Try Sascha Grierson’s Roast Pork with Crackling
- Read more about Organic September
- Discover how Oxford University has shown that organic farms support on average a third more species than non-organic farms.
- Follow Green City on Twitter
- Follow the Soil Association on Twitter
The cocoa powder and risotto mix were supplied by Soil Association Scotland for this post.