The Elder Stubbs Festival is one of the most joyous intimate festivals of Oxford, set amongst the verdant allotments, so full of fruit and vegetables and flowers. This year’s theme, the Rainforest, prompted an exuberant outburst of stuffed parrots, colour and sparkle. It prompted ideas for the recipes I used in my demonstration, armed with beautiful produce from Restore’s vegetable patches.
From the allotments: onions, pumpkin, basil, chard
From the rainforest: cashew nuts, brazil nuts, chocolate, avocado
Stir-Fried Chard with Cashew Nuts, Brazil Nuts, golden raisins, olives and feta
A bunch of chard
a small handful Cashew nuts
A small handful Brazil nuts, roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
a small handful golden raisins, soaked in water for half an hour
A handful of black olives, stoned and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Lightly toasted sourdough bread
Crumbled goats cheese or feta
First prepare the chard. Fold leaves in half and cut out the broad stem. Shred the leaves to a thickness of around 2 cms. Set to one side. Now cut the stems into 1 cm pieces, cutting across the grain.
Heat a large wok, or a heavy frying pan over a moderate heat. Add the nuts and dry fry, stirring all the time, until lightly browned. Tip out and reserve. Wipe nutty crumbs out of the pan, and return to the heat. Add a generous slurp of olive oil, then add the onion and chard stems and fry for a few minutes until beginning to soften. Next add the garlic cook for a minute or so.
Raise the heat high and add the chard leaves. Turn and stir and toss until they are tender. Around 5 minutes. If they are still a bit on the chewy side, add a splash of water, cover the pan tightly with a lid, and leave to steam for a few more minutes.
Now remove the lid if necessary, add the raisins, olives, toasted nuts and thyme. Season with salt and lots of pepper. Toss and turn for another minute or so, then turn off the heat. Add lots of fresh lemon juice, then pile on top of the sourdough slices. Scatter with cheese and serve.
SMOKY SWEET CANDIED PUMPKIN
Around 600-700g chunk of pumpkin or squash
A little Sunflower oil
100g Caster sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons Clotted cream, plus extra to serve
Roughly 25g dark chocolate,
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
Peel the squash and discard seeds and woolly fibres. Cut the squash into slices about ½ cm thick.
Preheat either a barbecue or a griddle pan. Oil the rack of the barbecue or the griddle pan well. Cook the slices of pumpkin/squash over a high heat, turning once, until they have brown scorch stripes on them. Don’t overlap or it won’t work. They don’t have to be cooked through, just striped with brown.
Now transfer to a saucepan, dredge with sugar, add the vanilla and 100-150 ml water. Set over a gentle heat, and turn the pieces of pumpkin, so that the sugar dissolves. Now bring up to a good boil, shaking the pan gently to get the sugar syrup evenly distributed. Cook for some 10 minutes or so, turning the pumpkin pieces frequently, until the pumpkin flesh is soft and tender, and the liquid has virtually evaporated. Mash with a fork or your spoon, or with a potato masher. Leave to cool. Mix in 1 or 2 of tablespoons of cream, depending on how rich you would like it.
Pile into little serving glasses or bowls,add a scoop of clotted cream, grate chocolate over it and serve.
AVOCADO & BASIL MILKSHAKE
1 ripe avocado
A handful of basil leaves
Scoop the flesh of the avocado into the jug of a liquidiser. Add the basil leaves, roughly torn up and a good squirt of honey, and somewhere around 250-300 ml milk. Whizz up together. Add more honey if you would like it sweeter, more milk if you would prefer it thinner.
That is it. Drink and enjoy.