Cucumber – Cucino F1

Do you ever get a bit fed up of buying massive supermarket cucumbers, wrapped in layers of plastic to make them grow straight and prevent them going floppy in a few days which inevitably you can’t eat all of it and find it mouldering a few days later in your salad draw? If so why not give growing some of the new baby cucumbers a go? Each one is perfect for a snack or in your lunchbox.

Strawberry – Mara Des Bois

If you want to watch a pastry chef drool just mention the strawberry Mara Des Bois. This French variety bred by Jacques Marionnet in 1991 was bred specifically to have the flavour and scent of wild strawberries but with much greater productivity, especially in spring.

Potato – Casablanca

Here’s looking at you spud! Of all the allotments in all the world, you had to walk in to this one! Cook it Sam, if you can cook it for her, you can cook it for me!

I spent some time trying to find a little about this darling modern variety of potato including how it got its exotic name. Is it named in honour of the film, the city? Does it originate from Casablanca (unlikely)? If anyone finds out then do let me know.

Grow Your Own – Lemongrass

If you’ve ever spent any time in southeast Asia or if not at least visited your local Thai or Vietnamese restaurant you would almost certainly have tasted the perfumed taste of lemongrass. You might not realised it but it is an actual grass, but one with a fragrant citrus and slightly coriander taste and scent.

Chargrilled Asparagus with Parmesan

It’s time to put my asparagus to bed for the year but there is still time for one last meal and to take advantage of the box of free range eggs given to me by a friend from his own chickens so what could be better than asparagus dipped in to a a freshly boiled Legbar or Plymouth brown rock egg?

Falafels

Falafel can easily be bought from the supermarket and you seem to be able to buy them in an increasing array of flavours from sweet potato to beetroot. Interesting as they may be, nothing beat the taste of freshly cooked hand-made falafel.

Slow cooked BBQ pork belly

Kung Hei Fat Choi everybody! Today is Chinese New Year. This year is the year of the pig so it is an ideal time to do a BBQ pork recipe.

Traveling around China and Vietnam we’ve eaten many pork related dishes. One of my favourites in Char Sui Bao which are a sweet steamed bun filled with char Sui pork. In Suzhou outside the “Humble Administrators” Garden we found some piggy shaped buns (helpful when you don’t speak the language) alongside some apples grown in the shape of Buddha.

Climbing Borlotti

Whilst many vegetables could be considered attractive to look at, one or two could be considered works of art. Turks Turban is one and borlotti beans another. These Italian beans have pink and white splashed outer pods hiding several rich creamy white beans with a Jackson Pollock of purple, pink or red splashes. They are a beautiful as well as an easy to grow and delicious addition to your allotment.

Chilli and Lime Sweetcorn

In August and September the fields around here are filled with maize. It’s perfectly possible to get disoriented walking through the giant stalks of ripening maize, rustling in the breeze. On the allotment you can’t get lost in my sweetcorn patch but the ripening sweetcorn is stunningly sweet, better than any you will buy in the shop and if you use it in this recipe you will find it a-maize-ing!

Tabbouleh

There aren’t many children in the UK lucky enough to grow up with quality Lebanese/Armenian food on their doorstep. I was one of the lucky ones and there are numerous stories of me as a small child refusing to eat something that my long suffering mother had cooked and instead “running away” to my best…

Hong Kong Omelet

I was made one of these omelets for the first time staying in a friends apartment in Hong Kong.   I’m not always the humble eggs biggest fan, boiled egg yes, fried egg no. Poached maybe, cheese omelet no no no no no.

Roasted Vegetable Chilli

I first started playing around with a recipie for vegetable chilli when I found a tin of jackfruit in our local supermarket. Jackfruit is all the rage at the moment as a meat substitute as it has a texture similar to pulled pork and a mild taste so cit an be used in vegan pulled…

Gigantes

My memories of Greek and Turkish holidays often revolve around foods that we ate. Especially wonderful were the meze, small plates of tasty bites to share.

Nộm Bò Khô – Dried Beef Salad

We first had this sitting on kindergarten sized chairs in a small street cafe in Hanoi old quarter with wail of mopeds horns buzzing by echoing in our ears. The place was so tiny that the owned produced only a handful of dishes, completely fresh, zingy and alongside the street bustle a wonderful assault on the senses.

Massamam Curry of Squash

Thai food is one of the most fragrant and vibrant cuisines. However most of the pastes and sauces that you can buy from supermarkets fall far short of the mark. Making Thai food from scratch produces something that will make you jump up and down with sheer delight with it’s aromatic, vivid and punchy flavours….

Tomato – Dancing with Smurfs

The tomato and potato breeder Tom Wagner is responsible for some of our more unusual tomato plants including Green Zebra. Dancing with Smurfs is another that got tongues wagging at my local allotment.

Mujaddara

I’ve seen almost as many ways to spell this dish as recipes. Mujaddara is a middle eastern grain and lentil dish with fried onions. It is an ancient dish dating back to at least 1,226 although folk law says that this is the dish that Jacob used to buy Esau’s birth right in Genesis.

Squash – Turks Turban

Lumpy, bumpy and decidedly funky. Like a spaceship wrapped multicoloured silk, Turks Turban is the Salvador Dali of the cucurbit world.

Squash – Uchiki Kuri

If you are used to thinking of squash as the ubiquitous butternut squash you can buy in supermarkets then this one will knock you over with it’s intense chestnut flavour. It is one of my favourite squashes and I grow it every year.

Potato Purple Majesty

You would be forgiven for thinking these crisps are beetroot. In fact they are a purple potato called purple majesty.