Recipe: Kerstin Rodgers cooks coconut veg noodles and blood orange cake
PUBLISHED: 11:45 11 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 11 May 2020
Supper club chef and food blogger MsMarmiteLover lent her skills to transform donated supplies into meals for Whittington Hospital staff - and shares her recipes
Last weekend I started volunteering for the People’s Army to provide meals for hardworking staff at Archway’s Whittington Hospital.
Asian supermarket Wing Yip donated ingredients for the main course which was enough for 50 portions of stir-fried vegetables in coconut milk with udon noodles. From my cupboards I also made 25 portions of cake (blood orange loaf, apple and cinnamon, banana and poppy seed stollen) and 25 lentil soups.
Since I shut my supper club in mid-March, I’ve only been cooking for one person – me. So I was a bit out of practice. But it was exhilarating to feel useful once again, and to feel properly physically tired. My self-esteem has taken a battering due to no work, no income and being alone. I’m fortunate in that I have a garden: planting seeds, mowing the lawn, and watering have kept me sane.
I’ve done a stock-take of ingredients in my pantry. Years of collecting ingredients from my travels, obsessively trying new things, and unused larder items from various supper clubs meant I could never go hungry. I may have the largest collection of flours known to mankind. I could open a museum of condiments, chutneys and sauces.
Hazel Jhugroo, a 29-year-old mother of a six-year-old asthmatic boy, is the founder of Islington-based The People’s Army.
Despite being stuck at home due to her own disabilities, she says: “I couldn’t bear the thought of other people being isolated, not getting enough food.”
Hazel acted quickly, amassing a team of 150 volunteers and mobilising The Angel Church (theangelchurch.com) to lend their kitchen.
The People’s Army now produce 600 meals, spread over four days a week, which they hand out to vulnerable members of The Angel church community, the Hornsey Lane Community Association (hleca.org.uk), Elizabeth House (elizabeth-house.org.uk), Whittington Hospital, and the Metropolitan Benefit Cottages in Dalston, almshouses for the over 75s.
“I spoke to the warden there who told me ‘they can’t get out’. Leave it with me, I’ll sort it out,” she promised.
“I’ve had help from Perch Smokehouse in N16, who only opened in January, the Black Cat Cafe (blackcatcafe.co.uk), a vegan cafe in East London, who gave me all their leftover stock, fashion designer Regina Pyo (rejinapyo.com) and her husband chef Jordan Bourke, who donated profits of £1,600 and Guardian food writer Felicity Cloake who has cooked for us.”
Hazel adds: “I’m a community person, I’m sociable. I spent the last year caring for my mum who had cancer. She died in October. I did this for her really.”
She believes some good will come from the lockdown: “While all this is going on, pollution is disappearing, which is great for my son, and while I may sound like a mad hippy, I feel the earth is healing”.
I’m now cooking weekly for other local heroes. Over VE Day weekend my food went to the staff at Marie Curie hospice in Belsize Park, who are locked in with their patients to protect them.
Stir fried veg in coconut milk with noodles
I used udon, but any noodles will work, dried or fresh. Or rice of course.
1/4 white cabbage, finely sliced
3 red peppers, seeded, chopped into fine strips
4 spring onions, thinly sliced, dark part kept for garnish
2 large carrots, cut into batons
250g button mushrooms, finely sliced
3 tbsp vegetable, sunflower or ground nut oil
1 thumb fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Thai 7 spice
Big splash dark soy sauce
1 bunch fresh coriander, separate stems and leaves
2 sticks lemon grass, finely chopped
6 lime leaves, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp sea salt, or more, to taste
400g coconut milk
800g fresh udon noodles or other noodles. If using dried, use 100g per person.
Toasted sesame oil to garnish
2 birds eye chillis, finely sliced
1 lime, quartered
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Prep all the vegetables into separate bowls, ready for stir frying, keeping the dark part of the spring onion and the coriander leaves for garnish.
Add the oil to a wok on a high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, spice, then add the fresh vegetables, continually stirring. Add the dark soy sauce.
Place the coriander stems, lime leaves, lemon grass, salt into the blender with a third of the coconut milk. Blitz until green. Add this green liquid to the stir fry.
Prepare the boiling water and add the noodles. Fresh ones only take a couple of minutes to cook. Drain and divide into bowls.
Add the rest of the coconut milk to the stir fry, add the coriander leaves, keeping a few back for a final garnish.
Divide and tip the stir fry mix on top of the noodles in each bowl, garnishing with coriander, a few drops of toasted sesame oil, a little chilli and a wedge of lime. Serve hot.
Blood Orange loaf
You can use any citrus but I had some blood oranges in my fridge from before the lockdown and they turned a simple lemon drizzle into a sunset-hued loaf. This is adapted from a recipe by Ravneet Gill ‘The Pastry Chef’s Guide’
225 g caster sugar
75 g salted butter, melted
100 ml creme fraiche
180 g self raising flour
3 zest of blood oranges
1 zest of a lemon
For the syrup
75 g caster sugar
3 juice of blood oranges
1 juice of lemon
Preheat the oven to 180C
Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy
Mix the butter and creme fraiche and add slowly to the mixture
Add in the flour and zest
Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes
For the syrup
Put the sugar and juice into a saucepan and heat until dissolved.
Remove the cake from the oven and make holes all over the top of the cake.
Pour in the syrup
Garnish with thin slices of citrus and icing sugar
Donate to the Peoples Army at crowdfunder.co.uk/covid-19-meal-relief-islington-london
Volunteer or ask for support at peoplesarmy.coronacorps.com
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