Back in the autumn when I roasted duck with plums, star anise and cinnamon, my boys came through the door as it was cooking and said, "It smells like Christmas!"
So ... now that it is really IS almost Christmas, here's slow-roasted duck Localboxx style (big fat free range legs, no skinny malinks here, from Laycroft's Pete at Balham Farmers Market) with winter spices, fresh red chilli and cigar-sized cinnamon sticks.
Taking orders this week for last pick-up/deliver Friday morning 18th December. Then Localboxx will take a break to set up for 2016. New recipes to come ... XX
Off to deliver in person to my first customer who's ordered every week since we started. Gives me such a kick. Mexican meatballs -- and she's from Mexico. Gracias, amiga!
Meanwhile ... while boxing up today's orders ... had to run over to the local station to pick up the London Evening Standard with a half page article in it about Locaboxx! So exciting. Thank you everyone who's got it this far ... including customers.
Special order today - five meals for lovely Lisa, whose whole family is vegetarian. I've been experimenting with a way to simplify Localboxx's beetroot and goats cheese gratin and have come up with a way to make it a one pot family meal ...
We are delivering and/or dropping off your favourite Localboxx dishes while our permanent pitches get sorted ... off now to drop today's Lamb Meatballs (cumin, coriander, dill, harissa) and nutty, nutritious red rice. Here's an order going out now to Battersea for a hungry father and son:
Here they are boxed up Localboxx style - thank you over and over to Julian and Gavin at RAP UK for designing the logo and packaging xx
Thank you Everyone for stopping at Localboxx's stand in Balham Station the last few weeks. I'm still cooking with the team. You can order from the Localboxx menu online - or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - and we'll arrange to meet you at the station or deliver to you.
We're working now on finding our next sites. Thank you TfL for helping Localboxx get started - we hope to be back as soon as red tape has been snipped.
Meanwhile -- Thank you, too, to the new volunteer Locaboxx sales staff who stopped by on Friday night on their way to a Nightmare Before Christmas party in central London. If this is you - or you know these two great girls -- please contact me. I think you're hired!
Mystery Friday "volunteer" staff ... not the usual Localboxx uniform!
This dish needs some poetic renaming - Purple Smash Pork Paprikash? Purpri-kash Smash?
It's inspired by meeting Balham customer Akos, a native Hungarian who's lived in the area for many years. He stopped by to buy a beef stew and gave me a fascinating pep talk (Pepritalk?) on how Hungarian goulash, or what we in the UK think of as goulash, is officially a soup and not a stew. Also it's made only with beef. So when a stew with cayenne pepper, caraway seeds and smoked paprika is made with pork - as Localboxx's is, cooked slowly using free-range leg of pork for several hours along with tomatoes, garlic and tomato purée -- it's a Paprikash. Not a Goulash.
This is a version inspired by British seasonal ingredients -- finished with sautéed January King cabbage (which has lovely purple leaves), sprout tops, chopped fresh dill and toasted caraway seeds. Also some of Adrian Izzard's fantasy colour purple potatoes. Eat up your colours!
Vegetarians today have their pick of roasted leeks with hazelnuts and purple Wild Country Organics potatoes (a variety called Blue Salad so purple that they look more like a fantasy vegetable designed by a child with a felt pen than something Mother Nature created) - and a range of boxes filled with delicious nutty high-iron black rice, wholewheat grains and as many colourful seasonal vegetables as I can cook in one morning. Take your pick at Balham Station:
Gorgeous potatoes from Adrian Izzard's farm Wild Country Organics in Great Abington,Cambridgeshire. They do lose some colour with cooking but are still fantastic.
Inspired today to morph meatballs into meatloaf -- adding finely chopped tasty veg into the mix -- and serving it with mashed potatoes for the ultimate Friday night comfort food or potato gratin:
New Localboxx dessert today and tomorrow ...
Inspired today to roast baby butternut squash (not "squashes"?), smother it/them with cashew salsa verde and add a caramelised ginger-spiced tomato in the cavity. The ginger mix added big zing to some Britisj poly-tunnel grown tomatoes. Happy big flavour eating! I've only made a few -- see you at Balham Station!
Here's today's chicken dish to chase way late November blues ...
Keeping the cosy Middle Eastern theme to warm you on a gloomy grey winter evening ... roasted butternut squash, sweet potato, apple, red onion and cavolo nero with tahini.
It was so wet and dark when I opened my bedroom blinds at 7am that I immediately knew I wanted the ultimate comfort food on tonight's menu. Slow-cooked chicken stew. I'm using meaty free-range chicken thighs from Jacob at Fosse Meadows' (www.fossemeadows.co.uk) stand at Herne Hill Farmers market. Inspired, too, by some late night bedtime reading of recipes in the Meat section of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's gorgeous book "Jerusalem".
As usual, I've not followed any one recipe but combined the best ingredients I have (thank you to the Uber driver who ferried me home plus chicken and bags of veg from the market via side streets to avoid a traffic snarl in Brixton) without wasting anything that could be cooked.
Into my biggest saucepan at 0730 went chicken, fennel, onion, homemade stock, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, honey, leeks, orange juice and -- thanks to a "Jerusalem" recipe that uses clementine slices -- the squeezed orange halves. Couldn't use clementines because when I looked in the fruit bowl my younger son had eaten them all. Family life. It helps you improvise!
I'm on a mission to enhance the reputation of the plant leaves that so many of us usually throw away. Last week I served sautéed turnip tops (garlic and rapeseed oil) among the seasonal greens in my Localboxx Mexican Meatballs. At home I've been eating a salad of radish leaves (from Adrian Izzard's excellent Wild Country Organics farm in Cambridgeshire) with blue corn quesadillas. (Tortillas from Cool Chile Co.)
Haven't gone missing at a Sunday farmers market. Thanks to all of you who've offered to send out a search party. Got sidetracked this past week in all the essential day to day running of the business. Hope to start writing every day now. Thank you everyone for stopping to chat at Balham Station. Great news is we have an extension in the same spot at the top of the Northern Line escalators until Friday December 4th and will keep you posted (promise!) about details after that. Thank you TfL.
Extra big thank you to the lovely station staff -- James, Keith, Andrew, Marc, Kris, Alan -- for bringing us tea on evenings when our fingers and toes have gone numb. It's a wind tunnel where we are. Every time a train pulls away from the platform it sucks in cold air from outside. If you can't see us wearing our Localboxx tee shirts it's only because they're now covered by ski gear.
Back to the Menu. I'm about to start cooking Mortar + Pestle's delicious nutty 'riceberry' hybrid black rice for tonight's Mexican Meatballs and to marinade the smoky chipotle peppers in cider vinegar for the sauce. Perfect food to warm up a gloomy November evening.
Huge thanks to everyone who's helping Localboxx happen. It's been a massive week of hard work and learning. The best bit about standing for 5 hours at the top of a Northern Line escalator has been all the amazing conversations with people who've stopped to try food samples and meals.
I'm going out on my bike in the rain now to see what interesting ingredients are in today's local farmers markets - and will report back later.