Friday, 30 August 2013

Courgette Feast - what to do with the never ending glut!

Courgettes, zucchini, calabacin, cuckinia and more!

Its that time of year when your over zealous courgette plants are non-stop producing, gone is the excitement of early summer when you watch with anticiaption as the first  flowers start opening and you can hardly wait for that first taste of your home-grown courgette.

My good friends Heather and Andy at Alpine Ethos gave me the idea to write this blog, when, at a loss to know what to do with so many courgettes from just 2 plants, they asked for help with ideas on their facebook page.
The things is, you just can't see them go to waste!  So I thought I'd jot down my favourite ideas for cooking and eating courgettes, it would also be great to know your best ideas too, especially a soup or pickle recipe, as it doesn't look like our plants are giving up quite yet! Personally, I prefer the smaller, firm courgettes.  They are best picked and eaten as soon as possible.

I've left it as ideas to try and get them all in without going on and on, but if you are interested in specific quantities, please get in touch and I'll send on over the full recipe.
Stuffed Courgette Flowers
Pick the flowers that are just on the verge of opening. In the middle you can take out the stamen. Grate cheese, mix with fresh herbs and salt and pepper, push this inside the flowers and pinch the tops closed (it doesn't matter at all if they don't close up completely). Mix up egg with a little milk in one bowl and in another bowl season some flour with salt and pepper and dried oregano. First dip the flowers in the egg then the seasoned flour, then fry in a little olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat until they are brown on both sides (about 1-2 minutes in total) Enjoy straight away!
Grated Courgette Salad
Grated courgettes with carrots, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, fresh chopped mixed herbs (such as mint, parsley and coriander) then make a dressing with grainy mustard, honey and olive oil.  Mix everything together and serve.
Courgette Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Chive Crème Fraiche
Grate 4 medium courgettes and put them in a colander sprinkled with salt and leave for half an hour.  Squeeze out the courgettes with your hands to extract any water.  Mix them with some chili, chopped spring onion, minced garlic, curry powder, fresh thyme leaves, 1 egg, 140g flour, tsp of baking powder and 75ml milk.  Mix some crème fraiche, chives and salt and pepper together and set to one side. Heat some oil in a frying pan and on a medium heat fry tablespoons of the courgette batter until brown on both sides and cooked through.  Arrange on a plate, topped with some smoked salmon, the crème fraiche and some rocket leaves.  This is a great starter or light lunch.
Courgette and Blue Cheese Galette
Make a really thick, really cheesy blue cheese sauce and set to one side.  Take a pre bought round puff pastry and lay it on a lined baking sheet.  Go around the edges crimping it, to create a border. Spread the blue cheese sauce onto the base, inside your border.  Thinly slice some courgettes into rounds and arrange on top of the sauce.  Brush some melted butter over the courgettes and the crimped edge of the tart.  Mix some grated parmesan, oregano and a few fresh breadcrumbs and sprinkle them over the top of the courgettes.  Bake in the oven until the pastry is cooked and there is some colour on the courgettes.
Char-grilled Courgettes
Toss some thickly sliced courgettes in some olive oil, salt and pepper and dried oregano and char-grill them really hot so they get dark marks on both sides.  You can eat them like this as a vegetable with your favourite meat or fish, or add them to more vegetables cooked in the same way, or as part of a salad.
Courgette Involtini
Instead of making involtini with aubergine, try it with courgette.  Make a tomato sauce, with either fresh or tinned tomatoes and put it into a square or oblong roasting dish.  Char grill strips of courgette, cut lengthways down the vegetable, about 0.5cm thick.  Make a mixture with ricotta, chopped mozzarella, grated parmesan, salt, pepper, chopped fresh herbs,  breadcrumbs, egg yolk, chopped pine nuts and sultanas.   Roll up the courgette strips with a dollop of the cheesy mixture and place in the tomato sauce.  Once all the strips are rolled up and nestled nicely in the roasting tin, top with a bit more grated parmesan and put in medium-hot oven for about 20 minutes.
Ribbon Courgettes
Take a vegetable peeler and run it top to bottom down a courgette to create ribbons.  Use them in a salad - here they are pictured with char-gilled courgettes, toasted pine nuts, chopped herbs and a lemon olive oil dressing.  The other day, my friends at Alpine Ethos made a salad of courgette ribbons, rocket and feta - yummy!  Our friends at Ski Vive use ribbons as a starter with herby halibut, I hope we can come round and try that one soon.

So there you have it, my best ideas, if you want the full recipe, please get in touch.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Raspberry and Passion Fruit Cupcakes - Those berries are still tasting great right now!


These really are delicious little cupcakes, the slightly sour fruit combo works so well with the sweet icing.  They are so eye catching too with the pink icing and sprinkles. 

For the cakes
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 150g raspberries
  • 6 passion fruit, sieved pulp only or 5-6 tbsp passion fruit coulis
  • a little milk to loosen the mixture if necessary

For the Icing
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 160g butter softened
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds only
  • 2-3 drops red food colouring or 2-3 tpsn raspberry puree/coulis
  • raspberries and or hundreds and thousands to decorate

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.  Sit 12 paper cases in a muffin tray
  • Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well combined
  • Fold in the flour until combined then add the passion fruit pulp and raspberries
  • Divide the mixture among the paper cases then bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and when you can, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
  • For the icing, use an electric whisk to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla seeds and food colouring/raspberry coulis and mix until everything is smooth and combined.
  • Spoon the icing into a piping bag with a large star nozzle and pipe onto the cakes.  Decorate with a raspberry and a sprinkle of hundreds and thousands

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Smoked Mackerel and Apple Pate Blinis - An impressive canape you can prepare ahead

We've been making this canapé during the winter for years, and there's  good reason  - guests love it!  It is a good prepare-ahead one too, and of course you could use mini toasts or croutes instead of blinis.   Any left over pate will keep for up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge and it makes a pretty good sandwich too.

 Makes 32 mini blinis

  • 15g butter
  • 1 medium onion peeled and diced
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 200g peppered smoked mackerel fillets
  • 2tbsp good quality mayonnaise
  • 1tsp horseradish sauce
  • 32 shop bought blinis
  • Red or black lumpfish to decorate
  • 1tbsp chopped flat parsley

  • Melt the butter in a small pan on a medium heat, add a splash of oil to stop the butter burning
  • Sweat/cook the deiced onion until it is translucent, than add the apple, lower the heat and cook covered for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Take off the heat, leave to cool down for a few minutes and then pop the mixture into a food processor.  Peel the skin away from the mackerel fillets and put them into the processor along with the mayonnaise and horseradish.
  • Whizz everything together until it is a like a pate texture/consistency.  Taste for seasoning - I reckon it wouldn't need much with the salty smoked, peppery fish, but you could always add more horseradish if you like a kick.
  • Scrape the mixture out of the processor and put it in a container and in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
  • Lightly toast the blinis, then, using a spoon, scoop out some of the pate and put it on top and arrange on a serving plate
  • Using a teaspoon, garnish each blini with a few drops of lumpfish, sprinkle with parsley and finish with a few twists of black pepper.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Mediterranean Carrot Rolls - a delicious starter or fabulous canape


You wouldn't think that you could turn the humble carrot into a sophisticated canapé or starter, and I can tell from the look on our guests faces when I say 'here you go, some Mediterranean Carrot rolls,' that they think the same.......that is until they try one!!!  Everyone we have served these to has loved them/wanted more/asked for the recipe. 

The original recipe is from Antony Worrall Thompson's 'A-Z of AWT.'  You can play around with all the herbs and other seasonings too.  I like a bit of cayenne and cumin, to cut through some of those sweeter ingredients.  This goes really well with a bit of salad and some tzatziki (that's a sauce made from cucumber, yoghurt, mint and garlic.)

Stu always groans when I say we are going to make these, they are a little labour intensive but trust me when I say well worth it!  The thing is that I normally ask him to do the rolling into little sausages and, as I've normally multiplied the recipe by 4 so I can freeze a load down.  I guess I can appreciate his frustration! 

With the method, I cannot emphasize enough how dry the carrots need to be after cooking them.  I would suggest putting them back on a really low heat after you have drained them to steam off any excess liquid.  And even after that, I would blot them on a load of kitchen towel.  You could also leave them spread out on a tray lined with kitchen towel in the fridge overnight.
Makes about 30 small sausages for canapés, or 8-10 larger ones for a starter


·       10 medium carrots peeled, chopped and cooked until very soft, then very well drained
·       2 slices white bread rubbed into crumbs
·       6 dried apricots, finely chopped
·       2 tspn sultanas finely chopped
·       4 spring onions, finely diced
·       2 tbspn pine nuts, chopped
·       2 garlic cloves finely chopped
·       2 tspn finely grated orange zest
·       1 egg
·       6 tbspn mixed chopped parsley, mint and dill
·       Plain flour for dusting
·       Vegetable oil for shallow frying


·       Mash the carrots, if they seem really wet still, blot on a load of kitchen paper
·       In a bowl, mix with the remaining ingredients apart from the flour and oil.  If it’s still quite damp, add a few more breadcrumbs.  You want to be able to form small sausages easily
·       Mould the mixture into small sausages or patties, using the flour to coat your hands to prevent sticking
·       Roll each piece in flour, tapping off any excess
·       Heat a frying pan with some vegetable oil and shallow fry the rolls on all sides until golden brown, then blot on some kitchen towel
·       Arrange on a plate and serve warm with some yogurt dip