An Australian in the English countryside – building a thriving business around local, seasonal food.
I thought I would bring you a series of profiles of people who I have been inspired by in the work that I do. The first one is a beautiful lady called Jen Roach from a company called Fearless In The Kitchen. She originates from Melbourne but has lived in the English countryside for the past 12 years. We met due to our mutual love of eating real, seasonal food and cooking from scratch. Now we run workshops together that focus on digestive and gut health issues, exploring both probiotic and prebiotics foods as well as low FODMAP and grain free ways of cooking and preparing meals. We both believe in bringing real food to life for busy people. We all want to try and eat well but our busy lives sometimes get in the way so Jen runs cookery workshops from her cookery school at home to show others how simple, colourful, delicious and yet nutritious plant-based meals can be made from scratch.
When I met Jen she described herself as a “flexitarian”. Although Jen was vegan for 15 years she now eats some fish and meat but alongside a plant-based diet, sticking to the principles of low sugar and real, seasonal food where possible. That’s all helped by the fact that Jen is probably the best gardener I know. The house that she and her husband David bought certainly lends itself to gardening and reaping the rewards. They grow a lot of their own organic produce in their own garden. The vegetable plot is like Fort Knox with all sorts of gates and netting to keep out mice, rabbits and deer. Yet, despite the best efforts of the invading local wildlife they produce the widest variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs including tomatoes, courgettes, edible flowers, onions, leeks, garlic, potatoes, root vegetables, lovage, sweet cecily, basil and mint to name a few. In addition to the veggie plot they also own a land adjoining the property which is now a stunning orchard made up of apple, pear, cherry and plum trees. Combined, the veggie plot and stunning orchard make up 4 acres. Gardening seems to be the most apt form of mindfulness for Jen. She’s very chilled out. Note to self – get a vegetable plot soon!
What inspires me most about Jen is the effortless and non-judgemental way that she goes about showing how to turn a cauliflower into a stunning salad or beetroot into tahini beetroot burgers and introducing flavours and spices that change people’s ideas of food in inventive but realistic ways. I’ve witnessed so many people having their eyes truly opened by her clear explanations and demonstrations of simple but effective ideas. People who claim not to like certain ingredients like them now that they know how to prepare them in a much more appealing way. It is my opinion that being vegan for so long Jen HAD to make vegetables look and taste amazing. Her dishes never disappoint. If you want to know how then Jen has very kindly shared some of her delicious recipes with us.
GLAZED, CRISPY SESAME CAULIFLOWER
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1 cup yellow pea flour/chickpea flour
- 1 cup water, plus extra
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- salt + ground black pepper, to taste
STICKY SESAME SAUCE
- 60ml tamari soy sauce
- 30ml water
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated/minced
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated/minced
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Preheat the oven to 220C FAN. Line baking sheet with baking paper.
- In a large bowl, combine pea flour, water, garlic powder, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine (should be thick enough to coat cauliflower)
- Drop cauliflower florets into the batter, make sure each piece is coated.
- Using a fork, carefully transfer battered cauliflower to the baking sheets, leaving space around each floret.
- Bake the battered cauliflower for 20 minutes.
- In a small saucepan combine: tamari, water, maple syrup, sesame oil, rice vinegar, tomato paste, chili paste, garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds. Bring the sauce to a boil on the stove over medium heat. Simmer for several minutes. Set aside.
- After cauliflower has baked for 20 minutes, remove, let cool slightly.
- Cover the cauliflower with the sesame sauce. Toss to thoroughly coat the cauliflower.
- Bake the cauliflower for another 20 minutes, or until the edges are starting to darken. Don’t worry if they look slightly burnt.
- Remove the crispy sesame cauliflower. Can be served room temperature. Top with extra sesame seeds, and chopped green onions.
GOOEY CHOCOLATE FONDANTS (gf)
- 1 tablespoon softened butter, for brushing
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, for dusting
- 100g good–‐quality dark chocolate, chopped
- 100g non-dairy or butter, chopped
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 eggs plus 2 yolks
- 100g buckwheat flour
- Preheat the oven to 160C FAN.
- Lightly butter 4 individual pudding moulds or ramekins.
- In a microwave, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir until thoroughly melted, then take off the heat and set aside.
- Beat the eggs with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add a few spoons of the cooled chocolate mixture, and gently fold in.
- Fold in the remaining chocolate mixture until combined.
- Sift in the flour then gently fold together once more
- Spoon the mixture evenly into the six moulds. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-9 minutes.
- Run a knife around the edges and turn out onto serving dishes.
- Garnish with a dusting of additional cocoa powder and a dollop of whipped cream.
For more information about Jen and the work that she does or to find out about the digestive wellness courses we run together go to: https://www.fearlessinthekitchen.co.uk/special-events
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