Harumi Kurihara’s Green Beans with Minced Pork

A few days ago I shared my review of Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara. Kurihara is one of Japan’s most well known cookery book writers and TV cookery show presenters and also runs a chain of home ware shops and cafes, and publishes a quarterly recipe magazine. To write Everyday Harumi, she spent time living, shopping and cooking in England all the better to ensure that the recipes were achievable for British cooks.

We have made her delicious green beans with minced pork a few times and love the balance of flavours and textures. It’s quick and simple to cook and a small amount of meat goes a long way, so it’s perfect if you’re trying to reduce the amount of meat you eat.

Don’t forget, you can win a copy of the new paperback edition of Everyday Harumi in my latest giveaway.


Green Beans with Minced Pork

This dish is something of a tradition in my household. It is easy to prepare, only needing soy sauce for seasoning, and makes use of wonderful ingredients like ginger, garlic and Japanese leeks. It is a great dish that can be rustled up quickly if guests drop in unexpectedly. I usually serve it with white rice and if there are any leftovers, they don’t last long in our house.

Serves 4

500 g green beans
40 g leek
15 g fresh ginger, peeled
8 g garlic
Sunflower or vegetable oil – for frying
200 g minced pork
30–45 ml soy sauce
sliced fresh or dried red chillies – to taste
sesame oil – to taste


  • Prepare the green beans, lightly cook in boiling water, then rinse under cold running water.
  • Drain the beans, pat-dry and cut diagonally into easy-to-eat pieces.
  • Finely chop the leek, ginger and garlic.
  • Put a little oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the chopped leek, ginger and garlic, allowing the flavours to infuse in the oil, then add the minced pork and stir-fry.
  • Add the green beans, then add soy sauce and red chilli to taste.
  • Continue to cook until the beans have heated through. Add a little sesame oil to taste and serve with hot white rice.

Recipe extracted from Everyday Harumi with permission from Conran Octopus.

Everyday Harumi by Harumi Kurihara is published by Conran Octopus. The hardback edition is currently available on Amazon for £16.59 (RRP £20). The newly published paperback version is available on Amazon for £13.48 (RRP £14.99).






Mat Follas’ Four Cheese Cauliflower Cheese

A few days ago I shared my review of Mat Follas’ new cookbook, Vegetable Perfection published by Ryland Peters & Small. Click through to read more and to enter my giveaway to win your own copy of the book.

The book shares over 100 vegetarian recipes using the ‘roots, bulbs, shoots and stems’ of a wide variety of vegetables. The recipes are perfect for home cooks, created in a domestic kitchen using domestic kitchen equipment and as such, they are not only delicious but very achievable.

Pete and I have thus far made three recipes from the book, Mat’s Mushroom Toad-in-the-hole, his Homemade baked beans and the recipe I’m sharing with you today, his Four Cheese Cauliflower Cheese. We really liked all three but this one is my favourite so far.

We made half the quantity, which very generously served two.

Cauliflower Cheese from Vegetable Perfection by Mat Follas (mini)

Mat labels this recipe simply as Cauliflower Cheese, but to me that understates the sheer indulgence and tastiness of his use of four different cheeses to create a really complex and cheesy sauce, so I’m embellishing the name to suit its nature!

Mat Follas’ Four Cheese Cauliflower Cheese

Extracted from Vegetable Perfection with permission

This recipe is all about the cheese. Don’t panic if you don’t have all four cheeses, just increase the amount of cheeses you do have to the same overall weight. However, if you do have all four, the combination of their flavours and textures makes an amazing sticky lava flow of cheese that cannot be beaten.

2 large cauliflowers
30 g butter
30 g plain flour
500 ml whole milk
100 g grated strong Cheddar cheese
100 g grated Gruyère cheese
50 g grated Parmesan cheese
120 g sliced mozzarella cheese
1–2 teaspoons English mustard
1–2 splashes of Tabasco sauce, to season
a pinch of smoked paprika
table salt, to season
olive oil, to coat
(Optional) tomato salad, to serve


  • Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3.
  • Prepare the cauliflower by trimming the leaves off, then slicing across the base in 2-cm slices, like slicing a loaf of bread. Lightly oil the cauliflower slices on both sides and season with a little salt.
  • Preheat a griddle pan over a medium heat, then cook the cauliflower slices for 2–3 minutes on each side, to just char and par-cook them. This should leave the cauliflower cooked one-third of the way through on each side.
  • Lay the slices in a casserole dish, overlapping to fit them all in.
  • To make the sauce, begin by making a roux. Put the butter and flour in a dry saucepan and set over a medium heat until the mixture forms crumbs and is just starting to colour. Slowly, add about 125 ml of milk and whisk to combine into a smooth, thick paste. With the pan still on the heat, keep adding the milk 125 ml at a time and whisk together to combine until all of the milk has been added to the sauce and it is thin and smooth.
  • Reduce to a low heat and add two-thirds of the Cheddar, Gruyère and
  • Parmesan cheeses to the sauce. Whisk gently until the sauce is smooth, then add the mozzarella cheese. Whisk until the cheese has melted and you have a smooth sauce.
  • Add a large teaspoon of mustard, a generous splash of Tabasco sauce and a pinch of salt, and whisk together. Taste the sauce and add more mustard, Tabasco sauce or salt as you like it.
  • Pour the sauce over the cauliflower, then sprinkle the remaining cheese over and finish with the smoked paprika to decorate and add a hint of smoke. At this stage, you can store the cauliflower cheese in a fridge for up to 2 days.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes (20 minutes if it has been chilled in the fridge). Check that it is cooked by probing with a fork to ensure there is no hard centre. Turn the oven up to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6 for 5 minutes to brown the cheese topping.
  • Serve 2–3 slices of cauliflower with the sauce per person with a tomato salad on the side.


Kavey Eats received a review copy of Vegetable Perfection from Ryland Peters & Small and was given permission to publish this extracted recipe. Vegetable Perfection by Mat Follas (photography by Steve Painter) is currently available from Amazon for £14.88 (RRP £16.99).

Mat Follas’ Vegetable Perfection

A few weeks ago, I shared my review of Mat Follas’ new Bramble Cafe & Deli in Dorchester’s elegant Poundbury estate. Today I want to talk about Mat’s latest cookbook, Vegetable Perfection.

When I first interviewed Mat back in 2009, shortly after he launched his first restaurant The Wild Garlic, I think it’s fair to say his attitude to vegetarian diets and recipes was in a state of evolution. During the planning phase and just ahead of opening the restaurant, Mat had many conversations with fellow foodlovers online, many of whom urged him to provide several veggie options on his menu. He said then that he understood their point of view but that, frankly, he didn’t agree with it. The previous evening, he’d had just one vegetarian customer in the restaurant, with the rest firmly focused on his fish and meat dishes. His aim, therefore, was to offer one great veggie dish on the menu, the kind of dish he as an omnivore would also enjoy eating; that day’s veggie choice was an enthusiastically described umami-rich fennel thyme gratin. He was also busy exploring ways to encourage children to eat more vegetables, by first converting their parents, something he talked about at the Dorset County Show that year; and his interest in foraging leaves and vegetables was already well-established, with foraged ingredients featuring regularly in his cooking.

Just 6 years later, Mat has learned to love vegetables so much that he has released a cookbook of over 100 delicious vegetarian recipes, many of which are vegan or have vegan substitutes provided. In the introduction, Mat talks about overcoming the preconceptions of his upbringing in an era of a meal being ‘meat and two veg’. Indeed his initial plan for the cookbook was to make it vegetable-based but not ‘restricted by only using vegetable products’ and it was only when he started developing and testing recipes that he realised how little the recipes benefited from the use of meat, and that he ‘could always find vegetarian alternatives that were just as good to use, if not better’.

Writing the book has been ‘a journey of discovery to the amazing flavour combinations available when [he] stopped being mentally limited by the requirement of a meat product on every dish’ and the book is filled with vegetarian recipes Mat personally loves; vegetarian dishes he would choose to eat over a meat dish.

A bugbear of Mat’s, as it is for many vegetarians I know, is the prevalence of vegetable dishes that simply imitate meat; so instead of sharing a boring bean burger recipe he developed a crispy smoked potato rösti-like patty that he layers with grilled halloumi, mushroom and tomato for the ultimate vegetarian burger. Where he does use vegetables in place of meat, like the Mushroom Toad-in-the-hole recipe, he makes ‘the vegetable the star of the show – it’s not hidden or trying to imitate the flavour of meat’. Incidentally, that’s one of the recipes Pete and I made recently and to my surprise, the intensity of flavour of the juicy portobello mushroom really was just as delicious as sausages, even though it was an entirely different beast.

Vegetable Perfection Mat Follas

Vegetable Perfection: 100 tasty recipes for roots, bulbs, shoots and stems is divided into recipes according to which part of the vegetable is used or botanical groupings such as members of the Solanaceae family. After his Introduction, there’s a guide to vegetarian and vegan substitutions (helpful for those used to cooking with meat and fish ingredients), followed by chapters covering Vegetable juices; Roots; Brassicas and greens; Tomatoes, peppers and aubergines; Bulbs and alliums; Potatoes, squash and corn; Peas, beans and pulses; Stalks, stems and soft leaves and Fungi. At the end, a Store cupboard chapter covering sauces, dressings, ketchups, chutneys, pickles and oils.

Most recipes have photographs accompanying them, though where there are two short recipes to a page, only one is usually pictured. Styling is simple, homely and appealing – much like the recipes themselves – and plating is not at all faffy or cheffy. These dishes really are the kind of food you want to eat at home, making this a great cookbook to have on the shelf.

So far, we’ve made Mat’s (four cheese) Cauliflower cheese, Mushroom Toad-in-the-hole and Homemade baked beans, all of which have been delicious.

Bookmarked to make soon are Sprouting broccoli, hazelnuts and fondant potatoes, Red onion tarte tatin with goat’s cheese and dandelion sauce, Coddled eggs with creamed leeks, Courgette and gruyere soufflé and Sweet potato chips (which are tossed in a miso oil before baking).

Unlike some restaurant chef cookbooks, this one is firmly written for a domestic cook, using domestic kitchen equipment and as such, the instructions are easy to understand and to follow.

And if you fancy the sound of Mat’s four cheese cauliflower cheese recipe, here it is.


Publisher Ryland Peters & Small are giving away two copies of Vegetable Perfection to readers of Kavey Eats. Each prize includes delivery to a UK address.


You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What is your favourite vegetarian or vegan dish, and what do you love most about it?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a copy of Mat Follas’ Vegetable Perfection cookbook from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsMatVeg #KaveyEatsMatVeg
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle to the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid. Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)


  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 22nd July 2016.
  • The two winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • Each prize is a copy of Vegetable Perfection by Mat Follas, published by Ryland Peters & Small. Delivery to a UK address is included.
  • The prizes are offered by Ryland Peters & Small and cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following @Kavey at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

The winners of the giveaway are Maxine G (blog entry) and @KeepCalmFannyOn (twitter entry).

Kavey Eats received a review copy of Vegetable Perfection from Ryland Peters & Small
Vegetable Perfection by Mat Follas (photography by Steve Painter) is currently available from Amazon for £14.88 (RRP £16.99).



Sweet Potato & Marshmallow Cake

A few days ago I shared my review of Grow Your Own Cake, published by Frances Lincoln. Click through to read more and to enter my giveaway to win your own copy of the book.

This intriguing cookbook features 46 recipes for savoury and sweet cakes and bakes featuring vegetables and fruits you can grow yourself. The author Holly Farrell, an experienced gardening writer, shares invaluable tips on how to grow and harvest each crop, before putting it to use in the recipe provided. Photography is by Jason Ingram, who illustrates both gardening tips and recipes throughout the book.

growyourowncake grown your own cake sweet potato
Book jacket; sweet potato image by Jason Ingram

Pete and I have thus far made two recipes from the book, an Upside-down Pear Cake and this Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake, published below with permission from Frances Lincoln. I love the idea of taking a combination associated with American Thanksgiving menus and turning it into a cake.

We weren’t sure what to expect from this cake – in taste, in texture, in appearance. To our surprise the crumb is actually fairly light and not overly sweet, in fact it’s a lovely gently flavoured sponge which would work very well on it’s own, without the ganache filling or marshmallow fluff topping. We over-baked by just a few minutes, which gave the outside a slightly darker colour, but it didn’t affect the taste at all.

I am not sure adding mini marshmallows into the batter serves much purpose – as the cake cooks they seem to melt away leaving odd pockets in the sponge, lined with a crunchy sugar glaze – so I might skip those next time. The sweet potato cake is the real winner in this recipe, and you could lose the marshmallow elements if you wanted to and serve it as a simple unadorned sponge.

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats (2)

Sweet Potato & Marshmallow Cake

If sweet potato & marshmallow casserole, the traditional Thanksgiving dish, is too sweet for your turkey dinner, use this great pairing in cake form instead. It is perfect after a long winter’s walk.

Makes a two-layer cake


Mashed sweet potatoes
800–900g/1lb 12oz–2lb sweet potatoes

400g/14oz plain flour
11⁄2 tbsp baking powder
3⁄4 tsp salt
1⁄4 tsp black pepper
1⁄2 nutmeg, finely grated, or 1⁄2 tsp ground nutmeg
165g/51⁄2oz unsalted butter
250g/8oz light muscovado sugar
4 eggs
450g/1lb mashed sweet potatoes
90g/3oz mini-marshmallows

45ml/11⁄2fl oz double cream
100g/3oz white chocolate

1⁄2 jar of marshmallow fluff (about 100g/31⁄2oz)
100g/31⁄2oz marshmallows

2 × deep, round cake tins, 20cm/8in diameter, greased and base-lined


  • For the mashed sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Roast the sweet potatoes for around 45 minutes until they are soft. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely, then pop them out of their skins. Mash well (use a potato ricer if you have one).
  • For the cake, preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats-8309 Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats-8313

  • Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl and mix well; leave to one side. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each egg. Mix in the mashed sweet potato, then the flour and spice mix. Quickly stir in the mini-marshmallows and divide the cake mixture between the two tins. Make sure that all the marshmallows on the surface are coated with mixture to prevent them burning. Bake for 50–60 minutes. To check if it is ready insert a skewer into the cake; if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes in the tins, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats-8314 Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats-8316

  • For the ganache, heat the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat until just under boiling point. Pour over the chocolate and stir until it has melted and is smooth. Leave to cool until the mixture is thick enough to spread without running.

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  • To assemble, sandwich the two cake layers together with the ganache, spread marshmallow fluff on the top and sprinkle with whole marshmallows.

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats (1)

Kavey Eats received a review copy of Grow Your Own Cake from Frances Lincoln, part of Quarto Publishing Group UK. Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell, photographs by Jason Ingram is currently available from Amazon for £14.88 (RRP £16.99).

Grow Your Own Cake | Book Review + Giveaway

The premise of using vegetables in cakes is nothing new – carrot cake has been a well known favourite as long as I can remember, chocolate and beetroot cakes and brownies have gained popularity in the last decade and more recently courgette cakes are stretching peoples’ definitions of what a cake can be made with.

For me, it goes much further than that, as I’ve long been a huge fan of fellow blogger Kate Hackworthy who writes the much-loved and respected blog Veggie Desserts. As the blog name and tagline suggest, the recipes Kate develops and shares are all about using vegetables in ‘cakes, bakes, breakfasts and meals’ and Kate has won much recognition for the innovation of her recipes, and the stunning photographs with which she illustrates them. You’ll find everything from cookies featuring romanesco cauliflower, cupcakes featuring cucumber, peas or spinach, and cakes full of celeriac, kale and swede! So when I first heard about a cookery book focusing on vegetable- and fruit-based cakes I was already primed for these kind of recipes!


However, publisher Frances Lincoln have taken a different slant for this new title and teamed up with established gardening author Holly Farrell (who has written multiple books on kitchen gardening and contributed to a range of gardening magazines) and Jason Ingram (a garden and food photographer). Holly is also a keen baker, and in Grow Your Own Cake, she treats the garden as a larder for her baking, providing not only recipes but advice on how to grow the main crop featured in each one.

The recipes range from savoury to sweet, using both fruit and vegetables from the plot, with detailed and well-illustrated guidance for the novice gardener looking to grow some of their own produce in their garden or allotment.

There are fifty recipes in the book; some are already classics, such as the carrot cake and beetroot brownies I mention above. Others such as fennel cake and pea cheesecake are more unusual. Recipes are organised somewhat seasonally, with the first chapter covering spring and summer cakes and the second autumn and winter ones. Next come afternoon tea ideas, puddings and savoury bakes.

Many of the recipes are appealing and I’m waiting eagerly for the main ingredients to come into season in our allotment, rather than buying from the supermarket out of season. I’d like to try the rose cake (featuring home made rose water), the parsnip winter cake (ours didn’t survive the slugs so none for us this winter) and the tomato cupcakes, to name a few.

Photography is lovely – pretty and practical without being overly fussy in the styling, a little old school but comfortingly so. My only complaint on this front is that while there are plenty of photographs of the gardening element of the book, there aren’t as many food images as I’d like to see – it’s frustrating not to have a picture of the finished dish for many of the recipes, especially when they are unfamiliar – what kind of colour do the tomato cupcakes have, for example and how should the icing for the sweet potato and marshmallow cake look? A few more images on the food side would be a huge help.

Thus far, Pete and I have made two recipes from the book, the Upside-down Pear Cake and the Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake; both have worked well, though the lack of photographs has made it feel a little more of a shot in the dark, even with Holly’s fairly clear instructions. Most importantly, both were delicious, and I’d happily make and eat both again.

I have permission to share the Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake recipe with you, so keep your eyes peeled for that in an upcoming post.

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats (1)

In the meantime, here’s an opportunity for you to win your own copy of this lovely book:


Frances Lincoln are offering two copies of Grow Your Own Cake for a Kavey Eats reader giveaway. Each prize includes delivery to UK addresses.


You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What kind of fruit or vegetable have your tried in cakes and what did you think?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win Grow Your Own Cake published by @Frances_Lincoln from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsGYOC #KaveyEatsGYOC
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle to the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)


  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 6th May 2016.
  • The two winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • Each prize is a copy of Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell and Jason Ingram, published by Frances Lincoln. Delivery to UK addresses is included.
  • The prizes are offered by Frances Lincoln and cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following @Kavey at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a review copy of Grow Your Own Cake from Frances Lincoln, part of Quarto Publishing Group UK.
Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell, photographs by Jason Ingram is currently available from Amazon for £14.88 (RRP £16.99).

The two winners of the giveaway are Patricia Whittaker and Emily Knight.

Grow Buy Cook Eat | Niagara-on-the-Lake

Do you know Niagara-on-the-Lake?

No? Well you can probably guess a couple of things about it at least – that it’s near Niagara Falls, and that it’s on the shores of a lake! That’s all I knew too, but last autumn I visited for myself, and discovered a lot more.

What I came away with, as well as an appreciation of the warmth of the local population and the beauty of the landscape, was some serious envy about the quality and variety of fresh produce grown here. Readily available directly from the farm, at farmers markets and in local stores, it’s put to fantastic use by local producers, restaurateurs and home chefs.

Inn the Pines Farmgate Shop

InnthePine Collage1

Very much a farming community, many of the farms have a farmgate shop – exactly what it sounds like, a shop or stall from which farmers sell direct to their customers just yards from where the produce is grown.

We stopped at Inn the Pines in St. Catharines to admire their produce, watch happily squawking chickens enjoy freshly harvested corn on the cob, and chat to owners Cheryl and Barney Barnes – that’s Barney posing on the back of his pickup and feeding the chooks. As we learned a little about some of the produce they grow and sell to both restaurateurs and home cooks, an elderly couple arrived to buy corn by the barrow-load, deftly peeling away the husks which will no doubt be thrown onto a nearby compost heap and bemused by my request to take a photo.

There’s something rather special about buying produce direct from the farmers; one of the things I can’t help but envy, as a London-based city slicker.

Whitty Farms & 13th Street Bakery

WhittyFarms Collage1

Whitty Farms is another local farm just outside  St. Catharines, and like Inn the Pines, has been handed down through the generations. Today, it’s the turn of Doug and Karen Whitty, and just like Inn the Pines, customers can buy direct from the farm.

But there’s another treat not to be missed alongside all the fresh produce and that’s the output of 13th Street Bakery. Their butter tart may be a contender for best in Niagara, if not all of Ontario or indeed the entirety of Canada; if anyone is looking for someone to do a more comprehensive survey, point me at the application form right now!

Butter Tarts are a much-loved treat across Canada and there’s hot debate on just what a good butter tart should (and shouldn’t) be. A basic butter tart has a filling of butter, sugar, syrup and egg baked in a flaky pastry casing, often with the addition of Canadian maple syrup. Purists eschew the addition of pecan nuts or raisins, let alone anything more exotic . It’s less clear cut whether ‘traditional’ allows for a firmer or softer filling but the ongoing argument is a good excuse to taste as many examples as possible.

The Whittys, with their friends John and June Mann also set up 13th Street Winery at the same site, more of which in an upcoming post.

Upper Canada Cheese Company

UpperCanadaCheeseCo Collage1

Another favourite stop for me as a cheese addict, Upper Canada Cheese Company in Jordan Station is a small local creamery producing a range of cheeses from the milk of local Guernsey cows and goats.

We tried a selection including Niagara Gold, a semi-firm washed-rind based on traditional Loire Valley cheeses, Comfort Cream, a camembert-style soft bloomed rind cheese which is best when super ripe, the maple-smoked version of Jordan Station, another semi-firm cheese and Nanny Noir, a goats milk camembert-style cheese rolled in vegetable ash and allowed to ripen for four weeks. We also tried an experimental new blue cheese – great flavour but some more work needed on the texture.

This is everything you want of a cheese shop – great cheeses and very helpful staff happy to give tasters and help every customer find just the cheese (or cheeses) they need.

White Meadows Farms Maple Shop

WhiteMeadows Collage1

Maple syrup is produced across quite a swathe of Canada and I had already tasted and purchased a lot of it during the few days I spent in Montreal and Quebec, before heading down to Niagara. (So much, in fact, that my case was overweight and I had to post a box of goodies home to myself, thus instantly rendering my bargainous purchases into some of the most expensive maple syrup ever!)

But I was still keen as maple-mustard to visit White Meadows Farms and sample their four grades of maple syrup, and to taste their range of maple syrup products – sauces and mustards, vinegars and salad dressings,  maple sugar and maple butter (maple syrup boiled until it’s dry and whipped into a spreadable form, respectively), fruit and maple jams, and of course, traditional maple candies.

Maple syrup, made from sap collected from maple trees, is graded by colour into Light, Medium, Amber and Dark. Canadian maple syrup must be 100% maple sap, and the finished product must have a sugar level of 66%, achieved by boiling natural sap to evaporate the water content which thickens the consistency and concentrates the sugars. The boiled syrup is then filtered before being packaged for sale. The colour is governed by the sap, with early season sap usually producing the lightest finished syrup. Dark is harder to find, as it’s produced right at the end of the season when the sap is at its richest and the strong flavour is not to everyone’s taste.

Dark proved to my favourite, and I bought a few bottles to bring home.

Welland Farmers’ Market

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-103102 Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats-103825
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Wellands Farmers’ Market is not as huge as the amazing markets I visited in Montreal and Quebec but it’s the perfect place to buy local produce, and there’s a great selection. However, I was focused on just one main ingredient, after our hosts chefs Anna and Michael Olson set us a cooking challenge! More on that cooking experience in an upcoming post…

The best thing about the market, aside from the top quality produce itself, were the very friendly stall holders, keen to tell us about their goods and to welcome us to their town.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-104052

The market consists of two main buildings dating from 1919, and some outdoor marquees as well. Alongside fruits and vegetables you can find fresh meat and eggs, charcuterie, local honeys, fresh baked goods, cheese, chocolates, flowers and wine.

Kavey Eats visited Ontario as a guest of Destinations Canada. With additional thanks to Anna and Michael Olson for being our hosts, and Diane Helinski for being our tour manager and guide.

Chorizo, Pumpkin & Spinach Giant Couscous Salad


You’d think, wouldn’t you that, for people who’ve grown their own fruit and veg for over 15 years, the thrill of harvesting home grown produce would not quite as shiny as it once was?

But you’d be wrong.

I still get excited every time Pete brings in a bowl of fresh raspberries or tomatoes from the back garden, I make him pose for pictures with many of the fruits and vegetables and I practically skip with delight when I harvest our crop myself. Pulling back the enormous leaves of a courgette or the smaller ones of strawberry plants to reach hidden fruits, gently twisting plums and apples to see if they are ripe enough to come away easily, braving scratches galore to pick juicy blackberries and gooseberries… and then grinning in wonderment at a bounty that is, quite literally, the fruits of our own labour!

When it comes to harvesting the first fruit or vegetable of a variety we’ve not grown before, I have a tendency to sing or squeal (both of which can be mistaken for each other, truth be told).

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I mean, just look at this beautiful winter squash. Doesn’t it make you joyous? It has a classic pumpkin shape and colour, but I’m not sure which variety it is… You can see that it’s actually still a little under ripe in the centre – we weren’t sure how to tell when it was ready and it could clearly have done with a little longer on the plant. But there was plenty of ripe orange flesh to enjoy.

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With all orange-fleshed winter squashes, I really like the way that roasting concentrates their sweetness. If you can’t find a fat round pumpkin, use butternut squash for this recipe, as it’s very similar in flavour.

I’m also a fan of simple salads with just a handful of ingredients and a simple dressing. The cooler weather we had in early September lead me towards a warm salad featuring giant couscous as the base. Chorizo for it’s wonderful warmth and smokiness and I love wilted baby spinach leaves for colour, texture and taste. The dressing is made using oil flavoured when frying the chorizo.

Chorizo, Pumpkin & Spinach Giant Couscous Salad

Serves 4

600 grams pumpkin aka winter squash (peeled weight) or butternut squash
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
150 grams giant couscous (dried weight; I used Sainsbury’s)
150 grams cooking chorizo, diced
2 tbs vegetable oil
600 grams winter squash (peeled weight)
2 tbs olive oil
100 grams baby spinach
For the dressing:
3 tbs chorizo oil (see Method)
3 tbs cider vinegar
1 tbs molasses (very dark) sugar
Optional: salt and pepper


  • Preheat your oven to 180 °C (fan).
  • Peel and cube the pumpkin . Toss in the olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Roast for approximately half an hour, until soft all the way through. Exact time will depend on your pumpkin and how large you cut the pieces.
  • While the pumpkin is cooking, fry the chorizo in vegetable oil – chorizo doesn’t need oil to fry but we want to create excess chorizo-flavoured oil to use in the salad dressing. Once cooked, set the chorizo aside in a bowl and drain the oil into a separate bowl or jam jar.
  • While the pumpkin is cooking, cook the giant couscous according to the packet instructions. Once it’s ready, drain and set aside.
  • Make the salad dressing by combining 3 tablespoons of drained chorizo oil, the same of cider vinegar and a tablespoon of dark sugar. Shake or whisk to combine, taste and adjust balance as you prefer. Add salt and pepper if desired.
  • Once the squash is ready, remove from the oven and while still hot, stir the spinach leaves through, to wilt them.
  • Combine with the couscous, chorizo and dressing.
  • Serve warm.


Kavey Eats received giant couscous product samples from Sainsbury’s.


Lemon Cucumbers & Jam Jar Salad Dressing

We’ve been growing a variety of cucumbers called Lemon this year – so named not because of their flavour but their size, shape and colour.

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The skins on ours have been tougher than we expected, so we’ve peeled them before adding them to salads.

This one was combined with very thinly sliced red onion, chopped sugar snap peas, some home grown lettuce and a few cherry tomatoes and tossed in my default jam jar salad dressing.

Jam Jar Salad Dressing

1 teaspoon French mustard
2 teaspoons honey
3-4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3-4 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

This dressing can easily be varied to ring the changes. Substitute soy sauce for mustard. Switch cider vinegar for the balsamic. Use rapeseed oil instead of olive, or even sesame oil for an Asian flavour. Instead of honey try maple syrup or muscovado sugar.


  • Measure ingredients to a small jam jar.
  • Seal and shake hard until well combined.
  • Taste, add more mustard, vinegar, honey or seasoning if required and shake again.
  • Pour dressing over salad, toss and serve immediately.

Pete’s Courgette, Blue Cheese & Cherry Tomato Quiche

PetecourgettePete came into the house one recent Monday evening with an overgrown courgette from the back garden, brandishing it in the manner of a cartoon caveman and his trusty club.

The quiche he made with half of it the next evening was so fantastic that I begged him to make it again the next night. Begged!

My cries went unheeded for three whole days! He made me wait till Friday before he gave in and made it again. And yes, it was just as delicious.


Be warned though, even though the courgette is salted and squeezed out before cooking, it still releases moisture during cooking and creates a bit of a soggy bottom. Mary Berry might not approve but it didn’t bother us a bit!


Pete’s Courgette, Blue Cheese & Cherry Tomato Quiche

1 packet (320 grams) ready rolled shortcrust pastry
500g grated courgette
100g blue cheese (we used Stilton but any good blue will be fine)
2 large eggs
200ml single cream
Handful cherry tomatoes

Note: of course you can make your own shortcrust pastry, or buy it in block format and roll it yourself. From a 320 gram packet, there will be a little leftover, which you could use to make jam tarts or individual pies.


  • Preheat the oven to 200 °C (fan).
  • Line an 9 inch (23 cm) flan dish with the pastry. The rolled sheet will be slightly too narrow so cut off one end and use to complete the circle.
  • Line with foil or parchment, fill with baking beads (or rice) and blind bake until golden; about 15-20 minutes/
  • Grate the courgette, add a teaspoon of salt, mix well and leave to drain in a sieve or muslin draining bag for about an hour.


  • Once the tart case is baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool down.
  • When ready to assemble and bake the quiche, preheat the oven to 170 °C (fan).
  • Crumble the blue cheese across the base.


  • Squeeze as much water as you can from the grated courgette and layer over the blue cheese.


  • Beat the eggs and cream together.
  • Pour the eggs and cream gently over the courgette  and blue cheese.
  • Halve the cherry tomatoes and place onto the tart, cut face up.

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  • Bake for 30-40 minutes until the filling has firmed up and taken on a little golden brown colour.

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  • Best enjoyed hot but can also be served warm or cold.

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For more courgette recipes on Kavey Eats see:

For courgette inspiration from others, see my suggestions at the bottom of this post.

Sausage Ragu Stuffed Courgettes

I love the courgette season!


Many home gardeners and allotmenteers love growing courgettes as these summer squashes are easy to look after and usually give an abundant harvest. But it’s surprising how many don’t like eating them as much as they do growing them; they give most of their bounty away. Of course, I am happy to share a few gorgeous courgettes with friends – it’s a lovely feeling giving someone home grown produce picked from the plant moments before. But Pete and I love eating courgettes so it’s very much a case of finding as many ways as possible to enjoy them while they last.

We like to grow different varieties. For many years, we’ve grown yellow spherical courgettes – they taste the same as green ones but look, they’re just so beautiful! We have also grown green balls and both green and yellow varieties of the regular baton shape. I’m thinking about planting some of the pale green or white types next year.

By the way, while we use the French word courgette, the Americans took the word zucchini from Italian, which seems appropriate since courgettes were developed in Italy after the Cucurbita genus was introduced to Europe from the Americas. That said, Americans now seem to refer to yellow courgettes by the umbrella term of summer squash rather than as yellow zucchini, I’m not really sure why.

Any courgette / zucchini variety can be used for this recipe, but it’s best to choose smaller fruits rather than large ones.

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Sausage Ragu Stuffed Courgettes

Serves 3-4

Note: My photos show three halved courgettes, but we had enough leftover ragu to stuff a fourth courgette the next day. Exact portions will depend on the size of courgettes used.

Vegetable oil, for cooking
1 small onion, diced
400 grams (1 tin) chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
600 grams herby pork sausages, skin removed
Salt and pepper, to taste
3-4 small courgettes, halved and scooped out
125 grams (1 ball) fresh mozzarella, sliced
Fresh oregano, to garnish

Tip: Read the instructions before starting – you can prep the sausages, courgettes and mozzarella while other elements of the recipe are cooking.


  • Heat a little vegetable oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion over a low to medium heat, to soften.


  • Add the tinned tomatoes and oregano and let the tomato sauce cook. You can peel the sausages during this time.

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  • Add the sausages to the tomato sauce and use the edge of a wooden spoon to break them into pieces. Continue to break the sausages down, mixing them into the tomato sauce, for the first several minutes of cooking.


  • Then cover the pan and leave the ragu to cook for about an hour. During this cooking time, once the sausage is cooked through you can taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.


  • After an hour, remove the lid and turn the heat up a little to allow the sauce to reduce – this will take about 10 to 15 minutes. You want quite a dry ragu, as the courgettes will release juices as they cook. Prepare the courgettes during this time.


  • To prepare the courgettes, slice them in half and carefully scoop out the seeds and pulpy flesh from the centre. Leave a nice thick layer of flesh in the skin, and take care not to pierce the skin while you’re working.


  • Preheat the oven to 160° C (fan).
  • Stuff the courgettes with the ragu and pack down tightly.

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  • Bake the courgettes for 30 to 40 minutes until the courgettes have softened and the ragu has taken on a little colour.


  • Slice the mozzarella finely and arrange over the top of each courgette half. Add a sprig of fresh oregano for decoration, if using.

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  • Return to the oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the mozzarella has melted and taken on a little colour.

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  • Serve with your chosen side. You can see that we had some of ours with an extra dose of courgettes in the form of courgette crisps – thinly sliced, lightly floured and deep fried!

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Looking for more delicious ideas for courgettes / zucchinis?

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Do you have any favourite recipes for courgettes?

If so, please do share them here – we still have lots more on the plants and I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy them!

(You are welcome to include recipe links in your comments, but they may not appear straight away; comments with links are usually diverted into an approval queue to check they aren’t spam!)