The Romance of the Garden Bounty

It seemed like such a good idea at the time…

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I’m always super enthusiastic about growing our own fruit and vegetables and when the first crops start coming through it’s very satisfying to be eating them hours or even minutes after they’ve been picked.  But as summer progresses and crops start to come in thick and fast, we suddenly have more courgettes/peaches/apples/rhubarb than we know what to do with; even after giving some away it can become a bit of a burden. This year was no exception and it became time to find some new ways of using the excess.

I found a couple of new courgette recipes this year; one savory and one sweet.  The savory recipe is based on a very simplified version of the Breakfast Fritter recipe in Donna Hay’s book “Life in Balance”.  I wanted a light batter for the fritter and this recipe achieves that by using egg whites and a small amount of rice flour.  It’s actually a great base for adding whatever vegetables that you want to.  On this occasion I added grated courgette and served them with lemon juice, plenty of salt and some Chevre cheese that I had in the fridge.  They’re great eaten fresh from the frying pan while the next one is cooking!

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The sweet courgette recipe is a stand out cake from Julie Le Clerc’s book “Made by Hand”.  It’s a chocolate courgette cake with walnuts, raisins and buckwheat flour.  It bakes to a gorgeously dark colour, uses up HEAPS of courgette and when it’s fresh, it’s crispy on the outside and moist in the middle…the way a good cake should be.  I’ve made this more than once and it’s definitely become a favourite.  I’m a bit lazy when it comes to icing and the great thing is that this cake doesn’t need it.  It’s got a gorgeous, deep, satisfying flavour.  I would like to say that because of this, one slice is enough *cough*; but really…is one slice of cake ever enough?!

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Blackboy peaches were the next big glut that needed dealing to.  Usually I just stew them or put them in crumbles (so good!) but they’re such nice peaches that I felt like I should try and do something more interesting with them for a change.  The first thing I did was make them into a Blackboy Peach and Raspberry Tart using the Peach Tart recipe from “Jane Grigson’s Fruit” book.  This is a great recipe that gives plenty of tips and techniques for preventing soggy pastry (which I’m happy to report that I achieved). The way the fruit is laid out looks absolutely stunning and the flavour is intense and beautifully offset by the cream.  As the icing on the cake, I glazed it with a homemade rhubarb and rose jam – to die for.

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The next peach recipe is by Emma Galloway – Peach, Rosemary and Yoghurt Cake from her book “My Darling Lemon Thyme: Recipes from my Real Food Kitchen”.  I don’t often use the harder herbs like rosemary in sweets so I’m always excited when the opportunity arises.  The batter is a mix of ground almonds and rice flour which gives it a lovely texture and the yoghurt and peaches help retain moisture in the cake.  Really really delicious and the rosemary adds a subtle piney flavour.  I’ve made this cake twice; on the second time around I didn’t put it in the fridge for a day or two – this was a big mistake because it went mouldy.  I was traumatised when I had to put it in the compost! *sob

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I know that looks like ash but it’s actually a mixture of rosemary and icing sugar 🙂

The last thing that I did with the blackboy peaches was to make a dessert from “Martin Bosley Cooks”.  This was also divine and a really straight-forward recipe.  Just crumble up amaretti biscuits and mix the crumbs with egg and brown sugar; spoon over the top of halved peaches and bake in the oven until tender and caramelised…drool.

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They’re topped with creme fraiche and mint

We tend to get a lot of rhubarb and raspberries in the garden as well (hence including the raspberries in my peach tart earlier).  We collect these with the intention of doing something delicious with them and then promptly forget about them/can’t be bothered…lucky compost (but poor us)!  I often put them into a clafoutis or a crumble (when I remember to) and this year I used them to make a Ricotta, Rhubarb and Raspberry Loaf using Annabel Langbein’s Miracle Cake recipe; this is from her book “Endless Summer”.  It’s so rustic looking and gets a gorgeous crispy top.  When my daughter bit into it it made her gasp which I think is a pretty good sign!  This one probably won’t get made as often as the others though because I don’t often have ricotta in the house and I don’t like to make special purchases for baking (is that weird?!).

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I haven’t mentioned the apples yet even though they’re actually our biggest crop. Luckily they’re great eating apples but we do get a lot of wind-fall ones that aren’t so good to eat.  You’d think this would call for copious amounts of apple crumbles but despite the number of desserts I’ve just mentioned, we don’t actually eat them often. We generally find that by the time we finish dinner we don’t have any room left for a heavy pudding. This year I used some to make Earl Grey Tea Jelly from Diana Henry’s book “Salt, Sugar, Smoke”.  I love Earl Grey tea (and I’m a bit of a tea addict in general) so I couldn’t resist this recipe.  It’s quite easy to make and also gave me the opportunity to use my jelly bag and boiling-water canner (small pleasures!).  I haven’t actually used this jelly since I made it but it tasted pretty damn good when I was licking the spoon!  The recipe suggests using it with ice cream or pannacotta (yum!) or with duck or game.  I imagine it would be pretty good on toast as well to be honest!

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And the final recipe from my garden glut is a bit of a cheat because it isn’t actually things from my own garden but just a build up of stuff in the fridge. Somehow we ended up with a huge number of carrots and a cauliflower from the market that had been sadly neglected.  Luckily I had just bought Nicola Galloway’s book “Homegrown Kitchen” which has a recipe for Crunchy Winter Vegetable Pickle using lacto-fermentation as the preserving method.  I love a bit of fermentation so couldn’t resist using said vegetables to make up a batch.  These I have tried since I made them and they’re delicious.  So far all I’ve done is eat them straight out of the jar…I need to up my game; the recipe suggests eating them with eggs or stirring them through rice with some herbs; sounds like excellent advice to me!

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So finally the garden has calmed down for the winter – I just picked our last courgettes yesterday – and the need to frantically use produce has passed.  Of course, next year I will have completely forgotten about the amount of work it takes and will once again romanticise the idea of bottling, preserving, baking and puddings and it’ll start all over again!  But to be honest…I love it really 🙂

(See, I’ve forgotten about the hard work already!).

So Much Yummyness!!

Recently I did some research on lunch ideas for work and one of the things that grabbed me were quesadillas.  In the last couple of weeks I’ve made a few of them…the first one I made I had no idea what to put in it so I had a quick look at my Annabel Langbeign “Great Food for Busy Lives” to get some ideas for salsa recipes.  As a result I chucked some frozen corn in a small pan and added a few chopped tomato, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper and cooked it until the liquid had almost evaporated.  I then grated cheese on to my tortilla, spread my tomato mixture on top, added a bit more grated cheese, topped it with another tortilla and toasted it in our sandwich press.  This was incredibly delicious!  A couple of days later we bought some chipotle tobasco sauce which has a lovely smoky flavour so for lunch last Saturday I repeated the above fillings but I replaced the cayenne with chipotle tobasco and O…M…G…it was to die for!!  Such a tasty lunch or snack…definitely adding these to the regular lunch repertoire!

Quesadilla - lunch
My new favourite ingredient in the background…gotta love chipotles!

Keeping with the Mexican theme, I also have some tins of chipotles in adobo sauce in the cupboard which I’ve been dying to use so I searched through my recipe books and decided on a Moosewood recipe for Tortilla Tomato Soup which is thickened with tortilla chips that have been whizzed up in the food processor…really yummy…I may have added a couple more chipotles than the recipe suggested (well it did say “to taste!”).  It suggested serving the soup with Bean and Cheese Quesadillas which I did (how lucky was I to get quesadillas twice in one day!).  These ones contained refried beans, grated cheese and homemade salsa…so scrummy and went really nicely with the soup.

Tomato tortilla soup with quesadilla
Quesadilla and chipotle madness!

One of the reasons for choosing a light(ish) meal was to leave room for Apple Pie.  We have a large number of apples to use from our apple tree as well as some apples from a friends tree so apple pie seemed like the perfect way to use some of them up.  I used Jamie Oliver’s recipe from “Jamie’s Dinners”…very very nice with some lovely creamy vanilla ice cream that my husband Andrew made.

Apple Pie
Love that rustic look!

On Saturday evening we watched an episode of Jamie at Home where he made a Spicy Pork and Chili Pepper Goulash…it looked absolutely amazing, porked slow cooked until it falls apart in a peppery, paprikary, tomatoey sauce…it was too much to resist!  So Andrew immediately got a pork shoulder out of the freezer in preparation of Sunday’s dinner.  This was such a pleasure to cook…the colour and variety of the peppers and chilis and the beautiful aroma of smoked paprika made it a full sensory experience.

Spicy Pork & Chilli-Pepper Goulash - peppers
So colourful!

It was also quite straightforward to get it in the oven and then nothing more needs to happen until it’s ready to serve.

Spicy Pork & Chilli-Pepper Goulash - oven ready
Looking nice and cosy in its bed of veges before going in the oven…
Spicy Pork & Chilli-Pepper Goulash - ready to serve
The finished product…still so colourful and it smells amazing!
Spicy Pork & Chilli-Pepper Goulash - tummy ready
And to add to the happiness…there were leftovers!!

I served this with some bread that I made earlier in the day out of my “New Zealand Bread Book”.  I was planning on making a kibbled loaf until I discovered after much searching in the cupboard that I don’t have any kibbles!  So instead I made a Five Grain Loaf which was very nice.

Five Seed Bread
Mmmmm…I couldn’t wait until after I’d taken the photo before I took a bite!

We still have a lot of courgettes which we’re always trying to find new ways of cooking and on Monday I thought I would cook pasta with a courgette sauce…but then on the way home from work on the bus I happened to be reading a cookbook called “The Fish Store” by Lindsey Bareham and in there I saw a recipe that sounded very appealing so I had a quick change of tack.  So instead of the courgette pasta we had Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers with Lime Couscous and Courgettes…a great last minute decision!  But to say that the recipe is “…and courgettes” is really to underplay the importance of the courgettes to the dish which my husband went so far as to say were his favourite part!  They were cooked very simply…sliced lengthways, brushed with olive oil, chargrilled on a griddle pan, piled on a board, seasoned with salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh coriander and goats feta…so simple but so delicious!  The courgettes are still al dente and the lemon juice adds a lovely zing. Will definitely cook courgettes like that again…I wish we’d known about this method sooner.

Middle Eastern Lamb Burgers with Lime Couscous and Courgettes

Given that we missed out on pasta on Monday I decided to cook some on Tuesday from my “River Cafe Cook Book”…a recipe called Conchiglie con Broccoli (or the boring name…pasta with broccoli!).  I thought this was going to be really nice but it was slightly disappointing.  I think a few adjustments would improve it…it was a bit too dry/thick but adding pasta water only diluted the flavour so adding some stock would probably help…and I didn’t have the correct type of anchovies which may also have made a difference.  “Nigellissima” also has a similar recipe and looking at hers I think it might have been better.

Conchiglie con Broccoli
I also served up rather too much…!

And my final cooking for the week was to use up some courgettes, the feta I had opened on Monday night and some filo pastry we’ve had in the freezer for quite a while.  This was also out of “The Fish Store” and is a Courgette and Pine Nut Spanakopitta…normally made with spinach but this is a courgette version.  This had a beautiful flavour and a lovely flaky texture from the filo pastry.  A very nice Friday night dinner 🙂

Courgette and Pine Nut Spanakopitta
So crispy…
Courgette and Pine Nut Spanakopitta-portion
So scrummy…

How to work those buns for Easter!

So last weekend I was lucky enough to pick up a second hand copy of the “River Cafe Cookbook” for only $10!  When looking through it I found a recipe for Zucchini Soup and I decided to cook it for dinner.  A few weeks ago I cooked another version of zucchini soup, it was a great way to use up excess courgettes and I was interested to see how the recipes would compare.  They have quite similar ingredients except that the River Cafe recipe adds a good quantity of herbs and uses cream and parmesan cheese in the place of the cream cheese used in the “Edible Journey” recipe.  The cooking techniques were different too – the River Cafe recipe cooks the zucchini and garlic slowly in a frying pan until softened and browned before adding the stock; this adds extra depth to the flavour and creates a slightly darker soup. In contrast the Edible Journey recipe adds the stock to the zucchini right away.  One of the things I really liked about the River Cafe recipe is the crostini that are served with it…they are topped with chopped olives, red chili and olive oil…really nice…

Zucchini soup with olive crostini
Lovely, creamy, herby soup with crunchy, olivey, crostini!

On Tuesday night our South East Asian cooking class was postponed (oh no!) because our teacher isn’t well (oh no!) so keeping with the Asian theme I decided to make a Malaysian Prawn Laksa from my new “Viva Food” by Julie Le Clerc (not a very authentic source I admit!).  This was a really nice recipe with ground cashews to add some thickness and creaminess.  It was supposed to have white fish as well as prawns but unfortunately when the fish was defrosted it didn’t smell too good (in fact it was terrible!) so I left it out and ramped up the number of prawns instead.  The recipe uses lime juice but not the zest which seems like such a waste so I added the zest anyway. The flavour of the laksa was beautiful…it was a bit splashy from the noodles but it was a small price to pay for the creamy, spicy, zesty deliciousnous!

Malaysian Prawn Laksa
South East Asian at home

Last weekend I attended a hot cross bun demonstration to get a few tips on improving my buns (the edible kind!)…I wasn’t sure if I’d learn much because I’ve made hot cross buns before and I make bread quite often…well as it turned out I was very happy because I learnt a lot!  One of the key things I learnt is that you should always soak your fruit in hot water for 20 minutes the night before and then air-dry it overnight to semi-hydrate the fruit (this should be done for any baking that uses dried fruit).  The reason is that the rehydration process will take place anyway when the buns or cake bakes but the fruit will draw the moisture from the dough making it dry…it makes so much sense!

So on Thursday night I very excitedly got my fruit soaking ready for my Good Friday baking. In the morning I cracked straight into it which was lucky because my flour was quite dry so I had to add quite a bit of extra water…all the phaffing about meant that it took me about an hour just to get my dough ready for its first rise!  Another tip which I thought was great is to heat the dried fruit until it’s hot and then pour this on top of the dough to help it rise faster.  The fruit then gets kneaded into the dough (that bit was tricky!), shaped into buns and left to rise for a final time before decorating with the cross and putting them in the oven.  The tip that we were given for the baking phase is that when the buns are put in the oven the change in temperature causes a skin to form on the outside of the dough which restricts the amount that the dough will rise during baking.  To delay the forming of the skin we were advised to lightly spray the buns with water and then spray some water inside the oven…great tip!  These buns were really good…so good that I will probably make another batch tomorrow…it is Easter Monday afterall!  (I may have to make some more next weekend as well…to celebrate the weekend after easter…)

Hot Cross Buns
Spicy…fruity…scrummy…

In early January we bought ourselves a very nice Weber barbeque which we used twice before our local Council imposed a fire ban which included a ban on using charcoal barbeques…in the words of my husband…WHAAAT!!!  So for the last 3 months our lovely barbeque has been nothing more than a temptation…

Well the fire ban has finally been lifted and we decided to celebrate this on the evening of Good Friday.  In anticipation of this day we had a flank skirt steak in the freezer (bought on the excellent advice of Jamie Oliver in his book “Save with Jamie”) and we had some corn cobs in the fridge that I have been very keen to chargrill.  I left Andrew in charge of the main meal and I decided to concentrate on the corn (primarily due to laziness).  I found a recipe in “Peter Gordon Everyday” called Cafe Habana-Inspired Grilled Sweet Corn which sounded highly edible!  It’s a way of eating corn that I would never have thought of but it was absolutely delicious…the corn is chargrilled on the bbq and then it’s coated with a mixture of cream cheese (or in our case we used sour cream) and parmesan cheese, sprinkled with chili powder and served with lime wedges…oh…my…god…soooo tasty!!  You can cook these on a griddle pan or grill but the flavour from the charcoal seems like such a key component that I don’t think it would be nearly as good.  In saying that…the family did complain that perhaps there was slightly too much charring…

Cafe Habana-inspired grilled sweet corn
It isn’t much to look at but it is seriously amazing! I don’t know if it’s just me…but anything that has lime juice on it seems like a party!

I can’t resist showing a few photos of our barbequed food because it was just so delicious…

Skirt steam BBQ2
The corn with chargrilled zucchini…nom nom nom…
Skirt steam BBQ3
Skirt steak with chimichurri sauce in the jug (an absolutely amazing sauce to have with steak) and leafy salad…looks good doesn’t it?!

Satisfying Cravings…

Last week during my lunch break I needed a treat so I popped into a local bakery and bought myself a cinnamon pinwheel scone.  I was really excited about it because I love them but when I took my first bite my I was immediately disappointed…I couldn’t taste the cinnamon, it was too salty, had a strange texture and a funny aftertaste…so not much of a treat afterall!

To make up for this upsetting situation I decided to make my own cinnamon pinwheel scones that I knew would be delicious and would satisfy my craving.  I remember having these a lot as a kid so I assumed that the good old Edmonds Cookbook (a New Zealand classic!) would have a recipe that I could use to recreate those childhood memories…but no!!  I looked through all my baking books and none of them had a recipe for cinnamon pinwheel scones!  I…could…not…believe it!!

Now, I know that I could easily make this up myself by using a basic scone recipe and making up a filling but I wanted an idea of quantities so that I could be sure of getting a really good cinnamony, sugary flavour.  After searching the internet I discovered that there is no such thing as an “idea of quantities” because every recipe has different ratio’s of ingredients.  So in the end I made the basic scone recipe from the Edmonds Cookbook and for my filling I mixed together multiple recipes by taking whichever had the biggest quantity of each ingredient…yummy!  These definitely satisfied my hunger!

A proper cinnamon pinwheel scone!
A proper cinnamon pinwheel scone!

On Monday we went to watch one of the Cricket World Cup games in Christchurch (England vs Scotland) so when we got home we needed a dinner that was quick and that used lots of courgettes (given the huge number of them in our fridge and continuing to grow in the garden!) so I decided to make Green Soup from “The Edible Journey Cookbook: A Taste of Banks Peninsula”.  This soup was made of courgettes, red onion and garlic and cooked up very quickly.  It was then blended until smooth and was supposed to have cream cheese added to it…I didn’t have cream cheese so I grated in a decent quantity of Edam cheese and poured in some cream…really delicious.  It had similarities to pumpkin soup but with a courgettey flavour (obviously!).  Great, quick, mid-week meal when you have an excess of courgettes.  The croutons are made from the last of the sourdough bread I made on Saturday.  Yum…

Great way to use up marrows & courgettes!
Great way to use up marrows & courgettes!  Creamy, greeny goodness…

Plenty More…in more ways than one!

Aaron Brunet in his book “Cook with Me”, talks about earning “usey-uppy” points for using up the dregs of food; under this system I must have earned hundreds and thousands of points by making a frittata and potato bake on Friday night, once again out of my book “The Food of Italy”.  It used up excess eggs, tomatoes, courgettes (of course!), leeks and cream cheese…a most excellent use of food and a lovely dinner.  Although to be honest, the “Red Capsicum and Zucchini Frittata” could have been better…I didn’t season it sufficiently and my courgettes were almost marrows so the flavour was a bit watery (I realised after I’d sliced them that I should have removed the seeds).  I also used tomatoes instead of capsicum which changed the final flavour…so I won’t judge the recipe too harshly at this stage, I think it was more a case of bad execution!

On the other hand, the “Potato and Leek Gratin” was amazing (and I’m always excited when I get the opportunity to use my mandoline)!  The recipe was supposed to use mascarpone cheese but I had an almost full tub of cream cheese which was approaching its use by date so I used that instead…I have to say that in my opinion you can’t go wrong with lovely, creamy, gooey, baked cream cheese!  And as a saving grace, when the potato gratin was eaten together with the frittata it improved the flavour of the frittata immensely!

Potato & Leek Gratin
Mmmm, look at all that cream cheese (there’s more inside as well!)

So not a bad Friday night dinner but room for improvement. ..Saturday however, was a whole different story.  If I do say so myself, Saturday’s cooking turned out beautifully!  I chose a couple of dishes out of my Ottolenghi “Plenty More” book and a dessert out of my new (yes new!) “Rachael Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook”.  The recipes I selected were Beetroot and Rhubarb Salad, Smoky Polenta Chips (which I served with lamb chops) and for dessert, Honey-Roasted Peach Crema Catalana (except I used nectarines from the garden instead of peaches).

Such a pretty cookbook!
Such a pretty cookbook!
I served the gorgonzola on the side because not everyone likes it...
Beetroot & Rhubarb Salad (I served the Gorgonzola on the side because not everyone likes it)
Smoky Polenta Chips (the first time I've deep-fried...so much fun!)
Smoky Polenta Chips with tomato sauce (the first time I’ve deep-fried…so much fun!)
The whole ensemble (I admit that I could have put my sauce on more attractively!)
The whole ensemble (I admit that I could have put the sauce on more attractively!)
And last but not least, the dessert...so creamy and delicious...
And last but not least, the dessert…so creamy and delicious…

At about 2pm I decided I would get a few things ready in advance so that when it came time for dinner I wouldn’t have so much to do…well that didn’t quite work out because I didn’t come back out of the kitchen until 8pm when I served dinner!!  But to be fair, part of the reason for that is because I decided to make some nectarine, rhubarb and apple jam in the middle of it all (all from the garden!).  I had lots of nectarines that needed using which were taking up too much room in the fridge (more usey-uppy points for me!).

We all agree that it looks a bit like chutney...tastes delicious though :-)
We all agree that it looks a bit like chutney but tastes delicious 🙂

Obviously Saturday was also Valentines Day and my lovely husband was kind enough to get me a new recipe book (he teases me about my cookbook obsession but then feeds my addiction!).  He got me Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”, (the prequel to “Plenty More”) which is very exciting and I’m looking forward to reading it.

But wait, there’s more!  Later that morning we went to one of my favourite second-hand bookshops in Hornby and I ended up buying two more cookbooks – Jamie Oliver’s “The Naked Chef Returns” and Jo Seager’s “Italia” (I wasn’t even looking for cookbooks…honest!).  So the cookbook collection continues to grow… 🙂

Valentines recipe books
Seriously though…who could resist these?!

Last Night’s TV Dinner…

I have a bit of an addiction to cooking shows (hence my love of the Great British Bake-off and Masterchef) and yesterday afternoon I was excited to discover that an episode of “Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals” was on, so I sat down to enjoy my cooking show fix (we don’t have Sky TV so I have to grab these moments when I can!). One of the recipes he made was Ricotta Fritters, Tomato Sauce & Courgette Salad which looked very tasty indeed.

Well it just so happens (as I may have mentioned in previous posts) that we have a glut of courgettes at the moment…and I also recall that a recently purchased cookbook of mine has a recipe in it for homemade ricotta that I’ve been wanting to try (“Cook with Me” by AaronBrunet)…so it appeared that it was meant to be and so, with the fates aligned, from TV to plate my dinner was born…

I began by making the ricotta – I only made a small quantity in case it didn’t work out, and as a result I only had enough to make one fritter…oh well, luckily I had had a big lunch (more on that later).

A very tiny portion of ricotta
A very tiny portion of ricotta

I then used this ricotta to complete Jamie’s recipe and I have to say that for once his recipe was actually quite quick!  Now, it certainly wasn’t 15 minutes (let’s not be hasty here!) but even with making the ricotta it didn’t take me all that long.  And the courgette salad was delicious, the lemon juice softens the courgette nicely and the chilli gives it a lovely kick.  Very very tasty.

Whoops...started eating it before I remembered to take a photo!
Whoops…started eating it before I remembered to take a photo!

So a very successful outcome to a sneaky bit of TV watching…

And in regards to my big lunch that I mentioned earlier – a friend of mine came round for lunch yesterday and I made Creamy Sesame Chicken with Syrian Fattoush Salad – this was to die for the first time I made it, and just as amazing this time around!  So good in fact, that we were forced to eat every last scrap…hence my smaller than usual appetite at dinner time 🙂

27/1/2015 – Beef Wellingtons and other delicacies…

It’s been almost a week since I last updated my cooking diary so I have a lot to add!  I will keep them brief…

Thursday 22nd January

On Thursday my daughter had a friend over for dinner.  When I asked her what she would like me to cook she said “cook the tuna pasta that you made on the last day of our holiday, that was nice”, so I made Spaghetti with Tuna, Lemon and Rocket from my “Nigellissima” cookbook.   It uses tinned tuna in olive oil and it’s surprisingly good and very quick and easy to make.  You only need to cook the spaghetti and the rest is stirred through.  The serving size looks huge (that’s probably a half serving below!) but I don’t seem to have any trouble munching my way through it!

Yummy…

Saturday 24th January

This was a very exciting cooking day!  I have been reading my new recipe books on the bus over the last week and I was really keen to cook some of the recipes from them.  We also have a large number of courgettes so I wanted to find recipes that would use those as well as the beetroot that are ready in the garden as well.

For lunch I made Lemony Courgettes on Toast from “River Cottage Everyday” which Hugh assures is a great way to use a glut of courgettes and he is right.  I was able to use my new garlic infused oil to cook this and the courgettes were delicious!  We bought some lovely sourdough bread to serve them on and they went together very nicely.  I sliced the courgettes with our mandolin which was very quick and meant they could be sliced very thinly.

Lemony Deliciousness!

For dinner I cooked Individual Beef Wellingtons from “Union Jax”.  These were so fun to make, there were quite a few stages but it was so satisfying to see it all come together as I went through the steps.  I was really proud of the way they came out, the only adjustment I would make for next time would be to reduce the salt because I underestimated the saltiness that would come from the prosciutto.  However it wasn’t too much of an issue and we really enjoyed them.

Woah…how good does that look?!

With the beef wellingtons I cooked a Beetroot, Feta & Walnut salad out of “Hugh’s Three Good Things” and Crispy Spuds out of “A Taste of Home” by Brett McGregor.  These were also delicious.  The spuds were triple cooked – blanched, fried and baked…sooo good!

The Full Package…so proud!

Sunday 25th January

And finally, on Sunday night I cooked Turkey & Courgette Burgers with spring onion and cumin from “Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (except I used chicken rather than turkey).  With the burgers I served Chunky Courgette and Tomato Salad (a real courgettey dinner this one!) from the same cookbook.  These are amazingly good and are served with a delicious yoghurt and sour cream dressing.  I had left-over burgers in a sandwich with dressing and salad greens and which is also devine…I’ve made this recipe before and I will definitely make it again.  Another exciting aspect to this dish is that we finally got to use our mincer for the first time.  We couldn’t find free range chicken mince so we decided to buy free range chicken breasts and mince them ourselves.  It was a learning process!  But looking forward to using it again.

Trust me…it tastes better than it looks!

Oh yes…I almost forgot to mention the rhubarb pies that I made.  I had leftover pastry from the beef wellingtons so I stewed some rhubarb in orange juice per “River Cottage Everyday” and put them inside the pastry.  I served this with the last of the egg nog ice cream that I made for Christmas…very nice indeed.  I cooked these in a pie maker that my husband was given for his secret santa present this year!

I poured rhubarb syrup over the top…very tasty

So a fun few days in the kitchen!  And I still need to cook something out of “Cook with Me” by Aaron Brunet…