Last Sunday, Tim Maddams, well known from the River Cottage series, came to the Vegetarian Cookery School to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for seasonal vegetable cooking. Tim is a great teacher - laid back, professional and accomplished - and he showed us what amazing flavours you can get with February vegetables like leeks, mushrooms and rhubarb. According to Tim:
"The true challenge of eating seasonally at this time of year is most of the ingredients around have grown a little tired, we are fed up with the parsnips and the carrots. But with a little imagination, a few new skills and some confidence we can take the hum drum and ordinary and transform it into a refreshing and and joyful flavour experience not to be missed."
Here's a sample of what Tim taught us, and a few photos from our delicious and inspiring day...
Tim's class was all about how to spice up winter vegetables with easy to make recipes. Tim showed us how to make:
The first thing Tim demonstrated was how to make spice mixes to give the English vegetables flavour and colour. For the bhajies, we made a mix of cumin, coriander and fennel seed, dry fried and roughly ground in a Subiachi pestle and mortar with a generous chef's pinch of turmeric. For the spiced carrots and cauliflower, we made a blend of sumac, coriander and fennel seed, star anis, cinnamon bark and smoked paprika.
For brunch we made Mushroom Rarebits with English mustard and beer slathered on Bertinet Bakery's sourdough toast: a great cure for Saturday night hangovers!
Leek Bhajies were a revelation: finely shredded leek, well washed mixed with fine Gram flour and spice mix, deep fried, sprinkled with more spice mix.
We dunked the bhajies hot into a green mustardy, garlicky, cumin seed, caper and coriander sauce.
Then, Tim showed us how to make spelt flour tortillas, rolled thin so that they puffed up quickly in a dry frying pan.
The spiced carrots & cauliflower featured chunky cut vegetables, fried with thick slices of red onion and our spice mix of coriander seed, fennel seed, star anise, cinnamon bark and lots of smoked paprika, plus the star ingredient: pickled lemon. Cooked till the cauliflower was just done, we ate this with warm tortillas and garlic yoghurt.
How I love pink rhubarb and Tim showed us new ways with it. One was to cook it very slowly to keep colour, flavour and texture. The other was to eat it raw, finely sliced and dipped in sugar. We served it with his black pepper shortbread and Homewood fresh ewes cheese. The contrast between the just off sour rhubarb with the sweet peppery biscuits and the slightly salty ewes cheese was BLISS in a mouthful!
Thanks Tim - we're looking forward to more seasonal vegetables days at the cookery school.
Tim Maddams is well known for his work with River Cottage both on and off screen. He has been Head Chef at the Canteen in Axminster and continues to teach for their Cookery School. He is now freelance. You can find Tim on Twitter @TimGreenSauce.
Find more photos from Tim Maddams cookery class on Flickr.