Saturday, 18 July 2009

For once the cupboard's not bare.

Work has been rather busy recently hence the lack of posts. Luckily we haven't had to worry too much about catching the supermarket before closing time thanks to the lovely people at Abel and Cole who sent us one of their mixed organic boxes to play with.

We used to have a standard veg box delivered from Abel and Cole back when we were feeling rather flush and it was rather a novelty. The first couple of boxes we had were a delight - it was like Ready, Steady, Cook twice a month. Towards the end, we found the contents becoming a bit samey - seasonal issue more than anything. There are only so many different things you can do with a cabbage, and I'm rather embarrassed to admit that we were once forced to go out for dinner when confronted with a lone Jerusalem artichoke and not much else in the fridge.

So, not having had a box for many moons we were quite excited about receiving a box of fresh goodies. It arrived whilst we were out, on perhaps the hottest day of that very hot week we had recently. A nice mix of fruit and veg - very excited about the gooseberries and the broad beans. Sadly the lettuce succumbed to the heat and one or two of the carrots were a bit floppy, but other than that a wonderful hoard to play with.
What to cook? So many choices.

1. Nectarines. Sweet and juicy, just as they should be. So - having had one or two as nature intended, I decided to use one and make Nectarine and raspberry muffins in my new silicone muffin cases. I adapted Nigella's Lemon and Raspberry muffin recipe. Yum, yum.

2. Broad beans. Quickly boiled, squeezed from the skins and thrown together by Mr M with some Schinken, garlic, parsley, courgette, Grana Padano and pasta. Delicious!! The beans were creamy - removing the skins was a revelation.

3. Cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Mr M cooked these all up with some fabulous Debbie and Andrew Sicilian sausages and popped it in the oven to go crispy on top with a little sprinkle of cheese. Tasted divine. Mr M's feedback whilst cooking the carrots - a little floppy at the ends, but very tasty - and the potatoes - they had thick skins, but were buttery as all new potatoes should be. The cabbage was scrumptious.

4. Gooseberries. I've never cooked gooseberries before. Memories of very, very tart gooseberry puds when I was little has always put me off slightly. I popped our punnet in a pan, over a low heat, with a little sugar and a couple of dessert spoons of elderflower cordial. It quickly softened and was liberally dolloped over some clotted cream ice cream. Heaven.

5. Red pepper. Wonderfully crisp and tasty. This was scoffed in an omelette that was eaten far too quickly to photograph.

So, what did we think of the box overall? With the exception of the sad, slimy lettuce and floppy carrots, the quality of the fruit and veg was great. It presented us with the cooking inspiration that we'd enjoyed when we used to get them and, as always, their recipe bank on their website is fantastic. I often pop there when I need some inspiration. I don't think we can justify getting their boxes on a regular basis but they are just the ticket if you fancy breaking the routine once in a while.


  1. Wow - you've been hard at it! Great documentation! Those broad beans look fab without the skin - but was it a hassle to remove them? I've toyed with the idea of Abel and Cole- I think my mum still gets things from prob is I'm hardly ever in - maybe one day when I am not living in London with the hectic lifestyle but then I hope to grow my own too. By the way Jerusalem artichokes make a delicious velvety soup -we grow them at my mums!

  2. Thanks - broad beans are a joy to shell. Make a little slit at the top and then squeeze - it's up there with popping peas! We found that we had to be quite organised when we used to have a regular delivery - like remembering to cancel if there was just one of us, or if we were mad busy. We also found that one small box would keep us going to for 2 weeks. Thanks for the top tip about the artichokes - we are forever wary of their windy-pops ways. ; )

  3. Gosh, didn't you do well? We've only tried a veg box from a local scheme and were more than a little put off by all the caterpillars that came with!

  4. Oh dear - there were luckily no caterpillars just a lot of soil that needed several rinses to remove the grit.