A Foraged Feast. Cooking With Jennifer Irvine

by Jo Lamiri - Saturday December 1, 2018 10:12 am

It’s not every day you have lunch in a treehouse, Jo ascends to a food heaven.

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Jennifer Irvine, founder of Pure Package and The Balance Box (more on these later), is lucky enough to have a luxe wooden treehouse reached by a ‘I’m a celebrity...’ type bridge.

Luckily for this vertigo sufferer, the treehouse is barely off the ground. But what a space it is – all cosy fire pit, cabin-style dining room and fully equipped kitchen. As Jennifer says, it’s a great space for cooking, eating and chilling in all seasons.

We were invited to forage and feed. So, the garden of her house in Virginia Water became a hunting ground for sweet chestnuts.

We then carefully pulled tiny white, red and orange beets from her kitchen garden, along with a weighty butternut squash, watched over by the hens. So far, so idyllic.

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Jennifer's healthy food delivery service, Pure Package, aims to prove that eating mindfully and well can also be delicious. And it’s a philosophy she continues at home: healthy eating is no penance here. In fact, the title of her first book was The Diet for Food Lovers

The baby beets were a breeze to prepare. Simply snap off the leaves and roots, then clean and plunge into boiling water for 10 minutes, before rubbing the skins off with your (asbestos) fingers.

Transfer to a large bowl then, while still warm, dress with a vinaigrette.

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Then on to the feta-stuffed butternut squash. First, the squash was roasted (a useful tip for cutting through these obdurate veggies is to score a line first, before cutting).

Jennifer fried a mixture of onions and garlic in avocado oil – a good choice as it has a high burn point – before adding the remaining filling ingredients of feta, pumpkin seeds and sun-dried tomatoes.

Our foraged chestnuts were boiled in their shells then peeled and added to the beetroot salad, along with the wilted leaves and shoots.

A disc of goat’s cheese was added to the salad to create a colourful seasonal starter. The main was another example of how vegetarian eating can be every bit as satisfying as meat.

When it came to dessert, Jennifer showcased one of her favourite vegan puds, apple crumble.

And in case you’re wondering how on earth she managed the topping, it was made with chickpea flour (for added fibre), aquafaba (water from canned chickpeas) and honey which were a surprisingly good flavour combo.

For more on Jennifer’s food delivery services, visit www.purepackage.com and www.balancebox.com

jenniferirvine.org

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