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If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now… 1st May Veg Box

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Image of a May Boating party, 1520-30,  from the fab British Library on Flickr free-to-use collection

A box that arrives on the first of May is full of hopes and dreams for Summer – a good time to start the challenge. For this week, we have a medium veg box containing –

  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Green Pointed Cabbage
  • Leeks
  • Mixed baby leaf salad
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Mama Squash
  • White mushrooms
  • Sunflower seed sprouts (an extra I ordered because they sounded nice)

Let the challenge begin 🙂

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Veg Box Challenge

We get a veg box every Thursday, and recently too much of the veg has been doing the sad, one-way trip from the box to the fridge and then straight to the bin. The reasons have been practical (not working from home so much, visitors meaning eating out more) but there has also been a creeping tendency to not be bothered. I love the veg box, and so I want to get back into using the veg and enjoying it again. After reading two inspiring posts on Chocolate & Zucchini yesterday, one about planning meals and one about making the most of your cookbook collection, I decided to use both ideas and challenge myself to make better use of our veg box.

So, here’s the challenge. Every week, I will post the contents of the veg box here. I’ll do a followup planning post for meals during the following week, and include a list of recipes from books, magazines and/or blogs that I want to try out that week, using the veg. At the end of the week (Wednesday is the veg box last day) I’ll do a roundup post of what I actually made. I may add bonus posts about specific recipes and meals. I may not. It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want :p

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Amaretti Biscuits

In January, I decided that I would challenge myself to a food challenge – make four things I had never tried before. It’s now September. I have managed only one. I have four months left, though, right? I can’t complain at all about the one new thing I did manager to master, amaretti biscuits. After a couple of false starts (one batch too chewy, one batch way too crisp), I got to know the oven I mostly bake with and I was off. They made fantastic gifts. I’ve made some for a friend who had just come out of hospital, some for an Easter house gift and many have gone into small care packages for my beloved. Mastering amaretti biscuits worked out exactly as I’d hoped, giving me a quick recipe that was easy to whip up for gifts. The many possible variations are perfect for fiddling and customising. So far I’ve swapped the lemon zest for lime zest and for orange zest, adding orange flower water to the orange ones. The orange ones  were amazing. I did try swapping the almond extract for amaretto but it didn’t add enough flavour. Much better to sip a small glass of amaretto as you wait for the biscuits to bake, saving a drop to have alongside the required ‘taste test’ sample.

  • 180g ground almondsAmarettiBiscuits
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp almond extract 
  •  Pinch of salt 
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 1 tbsp runny honey 
  • Flaked almonds 
  • Icing sugar

Heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment.

Grind the apricot kernels to a fine meal in a food processor or clean coffee mill, then mix with the caster sugar, lemon zest, almond extract and salt in a bowl, ensuring the zest and extract are evenly distributed.

Whisk the egg whites until firm(ish) peaks form, then whisk in the honey. With a large metal spoon, gently fold the meringue into the kernel mixture until you have a soft dough. Roll the dough into balls the size of large walnuts, flatten each ball a little, then roll in flaked almonds. Finally, roll them in icing sugar.

Place the biscuits on the baking tray and bake for 14-18 minutes – they should turn a very light golden colour and remain soft and chewy in the centre. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then store in a sealed jar or tin.