Roast Vegetables with Creamy Lemon Quinoa

Over the past while I have found myself introducing more and more meatless dishes to the diet of my little family. Anytime a vegetarian recipe catches my eye, I pounce on it and give it a try. This salad is a new one I started making this summer and it has become a firm favourite with all of us. It’s inspired by this recipe from the Green Kitchen Stories blog which I’ve been following for several years now. I’ve been adapting the recipe to whichever vegetables are in season. So in early summer, I made it with asparagus, but this weekend I made it with squash and broccoli shoots (and a few other things I had lying around in the fridge). I think it tastes good with any roast summer vegetables. What gives it the kick, is the lovely tangy dressing and the creamy feta cheese.

salad

The dish in the photo is one of my favourite things from my friend Lene’s shop, Culture Living. Lene has been selling all sorts of wonderful things at her infamous Christmas markets in her home for years. She has recently taken the plunge and opened her own shop at Nordre Frihavnsgade 27 in Copenhagen.

Recipe

Serves 4

190g/1 cup white quinoa
1kg vegetables for roasting e.g. squash, asparagus, peppers, spring onion, carrots etc.
2 tablespoons olive oil
200g feta cheese, crumbled
1 handful coriander or flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt

For the dressing
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Preheat the oven to 170° C (340° F)

Prepare the vegetables by washing them and cutting them into bite-sized pieces (or leaving the likes of asparagus and spring onions, whole). Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss to ensure all the vegetables are coated, and spread out on the tray. Place in the oven for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and slightly charred.

Rinse the quinoa, place in a small saucepan and add 475ml/2 cups of water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain any excess water and set aside to cool.

Gently crush the cumin seeds with a pestle & mortar. Whisk together with the remaining dressing ingredients.

Combine the quinoa, dressing and vegetables in a serving dish. Sprinkle the crumbled feta and the chopped herbs over the top.

This dish can either be served warm or chilled (and it keeps well :)

Sausage Time

Truth be told for most of my life I have had an aversion to sausages. It started at an early age when watching Play School on television. Each episode had a part called ‘through the window’ where they would take the viewers to the outside world and show an educational type clip from a factory or the like. I remember one time it took us inside a sausage-making factory. Hello! What were they thinking? I remember being totally grossed out by a big pink mass of gunk being pumped into sausage skin. From that day and until fairly recently I refused to eat sausages. (In retrospect maybe this is where my aversion to industrialisation of food all started.)

In recent years, as more palatable, gourmet type sausages have become available, I have gradually been learning to appreciate this food item. Not least during our summer holiday in Ireland this year. At the end of our 3-week trip we spent some time with our friends, Eddie & Tremayne, in Carlow. Eddie and Tremayne, who inspired us to keep hens in our small urban garden, have now taken things a step further themselves and have thrown a few goats into the equation. While we were staying with them we helped collect their second lot of billy goat kids – so cute – from a local farm, which they will rear with a view to having them end up on the table.

We were fortunate to be around to sample the meat from their first small herd of billies. Eddie set about giving us (the husband and I) a sausage 101 master class in sausage-making. The below pictures illustrate the process. Knowing what exactly went into these sausages, and knowing that it was all good stuff, made all the difference. I had no hesitation about eating these bangers, which were a far far cry from those awful things I had seen ‘though the window’ all those years ago. I may even have to get myself some sausage-making accessories now ;)

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The lads get stuck in

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Preparing the herbs and spices

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Measurements noted on the kitchen’s black board

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And here we go…goat meat & Merguez spiced sausage in the making

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Ta-dah!

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Time to sample…

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Although this happy picture indicates otherwise, Tremayne hesitantly has a taste of the end result (she had grown rather attached to the goats)

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Picking up the new kids at Elizabeth Bradley’s goat farm

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A glimpse of some of Elizabeth’s amazing cheeses made from her goats’ milk – we bought some of her cheese at the farmers’ market in Carlow and it got devoured in no time.

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Young Halley and Dylan see that the new billy goats settle in to their new home at Hawthorn Cottage

Merguez Spice Mix (by Christine Benlafquih)

1/4 cup sweet paprika
2 tablespoons ground fennel seeds
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
————————-
4 teaspoons powdered sugar (optional)

Tales from an Urban Farmyard in Copenhagen

Here’s a story about some chickens that came before the eggs…

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One of the lovely eggs from our Cochin hens – they taste even better than they look

Once upon a time
A couple of years ago when friends visiting from Ireland suggested that we get some hens for our small, urban back yard, I just laughed and thought they were mad. They sowed a seed though, and one year later Mr. Foody was driving a van to England to pick up our specially ordered hen house. (You don’t have to go to those lengths by the way, but anyone who knows us knows that we don’t usually do things by halves. If we were going to do this thing, we wanted to get a house that was going to stick the pace of the harsh winters here, wasn’t impregnated with all sorts of crap and, as it would be quite visible, we wanted it to look nice. Stephen at the Hen House Garden Company had just the thing.)

14 fluff balls
The next step was to get some occupants for the hen house. We proceeded to buy 14 chickens. They were only 1-2 weeks old and could all fit in a shoe box when we brought them home. We would not know for another 2 months what their gender was. Our reason for wanting to keep hens was for their eggs. We had been eating eggs every day for years, so to us it made sense to become self-sufficient on this front. The added bonus being that the hens would eat all the kitchen waste that wasn’t already going to our rabbits and the compost. So given this, and the fact that it is just not appropriate or allowed to have a rooster(s) living in an urban area such as ours, we knew that any lads among the bunch were destined for the pot.

Rooster death row
Come December it began to become apparent at day-break who the boys in the brood were. Mr. Foody received direction in how to humanely rid us of the poor beasts and we had to, one-by-one, wish Richard Allen, Darren Allen, Steel Wire (he wasn’t nice), Ken Hom and Anon, R.I.P. This left us with 8 lovely ladies – Gordon Ramsay, Delia Smith, Amanda Wong, Julia Child, Camilla Plum, Kirsten Hüttemeier, Myrtle Allen and Rachel Allen.

Finally, eggs!
Then we just had to sit and wait. When would the first egg come? Finally, at the end of February, I open the hatch into the nesting boxes one morning and there it was – the first tiny little egg. I’d never seen such a small egg before. It soon became apparent that within a few weeks the eggs become larger. It’s like they just have to get into the swing of things. Some of the eggs we get now are huge and have double yolks.

Happy hens
Over the next couple of months, the hens, one-by-one began laying eggs. Now we get 8 eggs every single day without fail. And I can tell you, they are fabulous! You really CAN taste the difference. It means a lot to us that we know what our hens have been eating and we know they are happy. When I see how they love getting out to roam and flap around, bathe in the dust and in the sun, I can’t help but feel devastated for all those hens that are kept in very confined spaces – worst of all, battery or caged hens. How this is still allowed is beyond me.


Who needs the fairground
For us this has been a fantastic family project. Every day we have stories to tell each other about the funny or crazy things we have seen the hens doing. They have also become somewhat of a neighbourhood attraction. We live close to a lot of nurseries and kindergartens and many parents have told us that coming by our gate and looking in at the hens has become part of the routine as they pick up or drop off their child. I also overheard a lady say to her dog one day, as the dog was straining to walk down our street, “No, we’re not going to see the hens today.”

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Even the neighbours got stuck in to help us prepare our (no longer needed) parking spot for the hen house

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The infamous hen house

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Gordon Ramsay – 4 weeks old (named Gordon because he, who turned out to be a she, seemed to be very strong-minded from the beginning and still is to this day.)

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Gordon Ramsay and Kirsten Hüttemeier explore the raised beds

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Myrtle Allen all grown up and checking out our bikes

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The eggs come in all sizes – the pale ones are from the Lohman breed and the brown ones from the Cochin ladies

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Ciara, our resident hen whisperer, with Delia Smith

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