James Wong Recipes and Videos

A world away from standard allotment staples and packed full of wonderful flavours, RHS Gold Medal winner and TV botanist James Wong is on a mission to transform our veg patches with a whole new generation of exciting foodie crops in his Homegrown Revolution. He has pulled to gether a delightful mix of new tastes for you to try with your Homegrown Fruit and Vegfrom the James Wong range of Seeds and Plants.

Mango, chili & electric daisy sorbet

Ingredients: - Serves 4

  • 3 fresh mangoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh mint
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 10 electric daisies, finely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt

Method:

  1. Blitz the mangoes, lime zest and juice and icing sugar in a food processor until you get a perfectly smooth puree.
  2. Pour the mix into a Tupperware tub, stir through the chillies and the electric daisies and pop in the freezer for 1 hour.
  3. Use a fork to give the mix a quick stir every hour or so until fully frozen (this usually takes about 4 hours).The aim is to create a fluffy slush of ice crystals, not one solid frozen block.
  4. Wipe the rim of a Martini glass with a slice of lime to coat it in a thin layer of lime juice, flip it over and dip the rim into a mixture of sea salt and chopped electric daisies.
  5. Serve the sorbet in the salt-rimmed glass, garnish with electric daisies and freshly sliced chillies & get greedy.

Whether it’s a tongue tingling dessert or the ultimate between-course palate cleanser, this curious “fizzy” sorbet – that is both ‘hot’ and cold at the same time - is guaranteed to bring a smile to your mate’s faces.

Dahlia and Red Onion Rosti

Crisp, sweet and with a hazelnut-like richness, Dahlia ‘yams’ knock the socks of any old spud in these Eastern European-inspired rosti.

Ingredients: - Serves 4

  • 1kg of dahlia ‘yams’
  • 1 small onion
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 6tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 6 tbsp olive oil for frying
  • A small bunch of dill
  • 1 small packet of smoked salmon
  • 4 tbsp full fat crème fraiche

Method:

  1. Dig up your Dahlias when the first hard frosts blacken all their leaves – usually in early November where I live – and give them a good scrub in the sink. For this recipe you will need about 1kg of fresh roots, which roughly equates to those of 1 good sized plant. (You can grow up to 4 per square metre) N.B. Never eat dry roots straight from a garden centre as they will be chemically treated (not to mention rock hard and dried up). After a season of ‘detoxing’ in the garden, they will be fresh, crisp and perfectly safe to eat..
  2. Peel the ‘yams’. Unless you are going to cook them straight away, it would be a good idea to dunk them in a bowl of water – just like you would potatoes – to stop them going brown in contact with the air.
  3. Roughly grate the ‘yams’ with the onion & squeeze over the lemon juice. Then wrap all the shavings in a clean tea towel and twist it to squeeze out as much excess water as possible. This concentrates their flavour and gives them a firmer, meatier texture.
  4. Combine the Dahlia & onion mixture in a bowl with the eggs, flour & nutmeg.
  5. Season well with salt and pepper and give the whole lot a good mix to combine. You should end up with a thick, chunky ‘dough’ as pictured below.
  6. Grab small handfuls of the mix and squeeze them between your palms to create little patties – about 10cm in diameter and 1cm thick. Fry them in olive oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan until golden brown.
  7. Serve with a dollop of cream fraiche, a few slivers of smoked salmon, a wedge of lime and a scattering of dill. Winter blues? What winter blues!

Eating Dahlia ‘Yams’ - Related to Jerusalem artichokes, Dahlia roots have a crisp, refreshing apple-like texture and mild carrot/celery flavour when raw and work great in salads and stir fries. Try them as a substitute for water chestnuts for example or grated in a coleslaw. Their juicy crunch and sweetness means they even work in fruit salads, especially when paired with similar textures like apples.

However my favourite way to eat them is cooked, much like a potato, in soups, stews & rosti. The key here is to slice or grate the roots, then squeeze out some of the excess water to concentrate their lovely nutty flavour and give them a firmer bite.

Chilean Guava & Bramley Apple Crumble

Closely related to blueberries, but with an altogether more exotic, fragrant flavor, Chilean guavas can be eaten in all the same ways as their purple supermarket cousins. They are lovely straight of the bush or studded through muffins, American-style pancakes or simmered into jams and jellies. In their native Chile they are used to make all manner of scented liqueurs, jams even cakes and pastries – often combined with other fragrant fruit like quinces and citrus.Ingredients:

- Serves 4-6
    For the Filling:

  • 1 large handful Chilean guavas
  • 1kilo Bramley apples - peeled, cored and sliced.
  • 25g soft light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 25g butter - chopped into little cubes

  • For the Crumble

  • 75g of salted butter - cut into small cubes
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1tsp of cinnamon
  • 100g caster sugar

Method :

  1. Start off by tumbling the Chilean guavas, sliced apples, sugar, mixed spice and butter in a baking dish and roughly toss the whole mix to combine.
  2. Now for the crumble all you need to do is pulse the remaining butter, flour, ground almonds, cinnamon & sugar in a food processor until it resembles a crumby rubble. Be careful not to over blitz it though, you are looking for a messy mass of uneven crumbs NOT smooth dough.
  3. Tip this crumble mixture over the fruit in the baking dish, spreading it over to cover the whole surface, before finally pressing the surface down gently with the back of a fork to compact the mix.
  4. Now pop the dish in the centre shelf of an oven set to 200C & bake it for roughly 40 minutes, or until your crumble is golden brown and crisp on top. Leave it to rest for a few minutes before dishing it out - this will further crisper up the crumble - and serve with an immoral amount of double cream.

Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillos are an essential ingredient for any authentic Mexican cook, but are still incredibly tricky to track down in the UK. With a tart zinginess like a cross between beefsteak tomatoes and fresh limes they are traditionally used in salsas, cooking sauces, gazpacho-style soups and salads – making a perfect accompaniment to fish, chicken and egg dishes.Although most often served cooked in Mexico – either simmered or roasted before being stirred into salsa - you can also use them fresh where they are crisper and fresher but with perhaps less depth of flavor. Shamelessly stolen from one of my Mexican buddies the recipe below could be made even simpler by just finely chopping all the ingredients and combining them raw for a fresh salsa (omitted the water of course) – but it is so delicious as it is I have never felt the need to explore any further.

Ingredients:

 

  • 500g of fresh tomatillos
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 1-2 large green chilies (according to taste)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1tbsp chopped mint

Method :

  1. Start by peeling the husks from the tomatillos and rinsing them a couple of times until the fruit are no longer sticky.
  2. Add them whole into a saucepan with half the onion, the green chilies, the cumin, salt and water & simmer gently for 15 minutes or so until the tomatillos as soft and cooked through.
  3. Blend the simmered mixture, including the cooking water, to form a smooth sauce & stir in the remaining onions, plus garlic, mint, coriander & lime.
  4. Pour into a bowl, cover and pop into the fridge to chill. Serve with tortilla chips, as you would guacamole or tomato salsa, or with fish or egg dishes.

Spiced Saffron Martini

Ingredients for the Spiced Saffron Gin:

  • 1 small 330ml bottle of gin
  • 1tsp of saffron threads
  • 1/2 a vanilla pod
  • two stips of lemon peel

Drop the spices into the gin bottle and leave in a cool dark space for at least 48 hours, shaking the bottle gently occasionally

Ingredients for the Martini:
  • 1 shot (25ml) spiced saffron gin
  • 1 shot (25ml) Martini bianco
  • 1 tblsp of golden syrup
  • A twist of lemon juice
  • Plenty of ice

Method :

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail mixer.
  2. Shake well until condensation appears on the outside of the shaker.
  3. make a salted sugar rim on the glass by wiping the edge of each glass with lemon juice and dunking it in a mix of sugar and salt (2tsp sugar to 1/2 tsp of salt)
  4. Leave for 2 minutes to let the ice melt to take the edge off the spirits and then strain into a glass.
  5. Garnish with a few saffron threads and serve.

Society Garlic Scrambled Eggs

Society garlic is like a perfect cross between the pungent spiciness of fresh green garlic and subtle sweetness chives. Both the leaves and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked, with the fiery gusto mellowing to a gentle roast garlicky warmth when cooked.
They are lovely in salads, sauces snipped over creamy pasta or cheese dishes with the power to transform a simple grilled toastie into gourmet treat. However my absolute favourite way to serve them has to be gentley fried in butter and stirred through scrambled eggs. Ridiculously simple but truly delicious.

Ingredients:

 

  • A small bunch of society garlic leaves plus a few flowers for garnish
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 6 large free range eggs
  • 200ml single cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method :

  1. Wash & roughly chop the society garlic leaves into 1 inch sections and gently fry these over a low heat in a small frying pan for a minute or two in the butter until they begin to soften and go bright green.
  2. Meanwhile lightly whisk the eggs and cream together, season with salt and pepper & pour these into the pan with the society garlic.
  3. Stir the mixture constantly over the lowest heat setting until they just begin to softly set and are still runny in places, then remove from the heat and leave for a few second to finish cooking.
  4. Serve immediately over hot buttered granary toast scattered with a garnish of a few fresh society garlic flowers.

Vanilla Grass and Coconut

Looks like a bromeliad, but tastes like vanilla. Could this be the perfect houseplant? The strappy green leaves of vanilla grass (aka. Pandan) are used in all the same ways as vanilla pods is in South East Asia, but with an altogether more creamy, buttery richness. Try simmering a bunch of leaves (you can tie them in a loose knot so they stay together) in the milk before making custards, puddings, ice creams or cakes as you would a vanilla pod.
Or for easiest homemade gift just combine roughly chopped leaves with sugar in a jar and leave for 2 weeks to create the fanciest vanilla-scented sugar for baking and icing.In Asia bunches of knotted leaves are added to the pan when cooking rice to impart a rich fragrant aroma. Simmered briefly with sugar and lemongrass, and chilled ice cold they make the perfect cooling summer ice ‘tea’ or even frozen into a exotic sorbt.

Ingredients: - Serves 4

 

  • 6 vanilla grass leaves
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 150g short grain rice
  • 2 large pinches of salt (optional)
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced

Method :

  1. Wash and roughly chop the vanilla grass leaves. Then pop them in blender with the sugar, salt and the coconut milk & blitz for 2-3 until minutes to reduce the leaves to tiny fibres.
  2. Strain the jade green mixture through a sieve to remove all traces of the leaves, pushing down with the back of a spoon to squeeze out the last juice out of them.
  3. Pour 1/3 of this scented coconut milk into a medium saucepan with the rice and gentley bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until nearly all the milk has been absorbed. Keep adding ladlefuls of the remaining coconut milk, little by little, stirring all the time until all the milk has been fully absorbed. Continue simmering for 10 more minutes or so until the rice is tender.
  4. Serve in 4 small bowls topped with slivers of fresh mango.

Eucalyptus Creme Brulee

Ingredients: - Serves 4

  • 1 or 2 large eucalyptus leaves (depending on how strong a flavor you want)
  • 600ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp of corn flour
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 6 eggs yolks
  • ½ teaspoon of orange flower water (optional)

Method :

  1. Start out by preheating the oven to 150C and put 2 small ovenproof ramekins in a baking tin.
  2. Gently crush the eucalyptus leaves between your palms to lightly bruise them and drop them into a saucepan with the cream and vanilla extract. Pop it on a low heat and slowly bring to the boil.
  3. Meanwhile mix the sugar and cornflour together until thoroughly combined and then whisk in the eggs and orange flower water until light and foamy.
  4. When the cream begins to the boil, fish out the eucalyptus leaves and slowly pour this into the egg mix in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.
  5. Pour the mixture into 4 ramekins, place these in a large baking dish and pour in enough cold water into the tin to fill it two-thirds the way up the ramekins.
  6. Pop the whole thing in the oven for 40 minutes until the custard is just set – with still a tiny bit of wobble in the centre of each dish. Cool to room temperature and chill in the fridge until cold.
  7. Spoon the demarara sugar over the surface of each ramekin with sugar and pop them under a hot grill until the sugar melts and begins to caramelize. Pop the finished brulees in the frige for a final 30 minutes to chill and you are ready to get greedy.

Callaloo, Coconut and Pumpkin Soup

One of the most popular ways to serve callaloo in the caribbean is in a comforting coconut and pumpkin soup, spiked with scotch bonnet chillies. Here's my homegrown take on an old-school favourite

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (Olive oil can be substituted)
  • 1 large bunch of chopped spring onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large sprig of thyme
  • 1/2 scotch bonnet chilli, chopped
  • 1 cup of pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes the size of dice
  • 250g smoked ham, cut into cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups of chicken or pork stock
  • 2 cups of fresh callaloo
  • 1 cup of coconut milk

Method :

  1. Start off by giving the callaloo a thorough wash, slicing off the fibrous stems and roughly chopping the leafy greens. Set aside.
  2. Fry the spring onions, garlic, thyme and chilli over a low heat for 5 minutes until softened and lightly browned.
  3. Add the pumpkin, ham and bay leaves and pour over the stock and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender..
  4. Finally tip in the coconut milk and prepared callaloo leaves, season generously and simmer just until the leaves begin to wilt.
  5. Serve with a nice warm crusty roll.

 

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