Category Archives: pastry

Sweet and savoury courgette recipes

As I mentioned in my last blog, our neighbour dropped off a huge amount of vegetables the other day, which included a large box of courgettes.  I don’t mind courgettes; however they are not the most popular vegetable in our household and often just seem to get chucked into things just to use them up.  Subsequently I have been trying to think of new recipes to cook them in.  So far I have cooked with them in a tart, I have made them into fritters and I have baked with them in a cake.  I think out of the three my favourite was the tart, the flavours were subtle but pleasant and would be lovely with a salad on a summer’s day.

In addition to trying out new recipes I have been making up vast quantities of baked ratatouille which have been frozen ready for use in the upcoming months.  I have been using the same ingredients that we use in our families recipe for ratatouille but have been cooking it in a slightly different way.  My mother’s recipe cooks the ingredients as you would a vegetable stew, whereas I prefer to layer up the vegetables and tomato sauce before baking it (if I am being truthfully I got the idea of layering up the vegetables from the cartoon Ratatouille – I guess inspiration can come from anywhere…)

I can safely say that I have eaten courgette every meal this week (save for breakfast) in some form or another and I am looking forward to eating something other than courgettes once we have managed to use them all up/preserved them…  However until then I am pretty sure I am eating my ‘five a day’ in the form of courgettes.


Courgette and Tomato Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet pre-rolled puff pastry

Tomato Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small sprigs of basil (leaves torn)
  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Seasoning
The toppings:

  • 3 medium courgettes (sliced 2-3mm rounds)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3 tomatoes (peeled / de-seeded / sliced)
  • 100-150g blue cheese like a Cambozola (sliced)
  • Black pepper for seasoning

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven 190C Fan.
  2. In a bowl mix together the ingredients for the tomato sauce.
  3. Prep the courgettes, by salting the slices in a colander to draw out the water – rinse in water – then dry with a tea towel.
  4. Mix the garlic and olive oil in a bowl, then toss the courgette slices in the oil mix.
  5. Finally make up the tart: Spread the tomato sauce on the pastry (leaving an inch from the edge), place on the courgettes overlapping them as you place them, then equally distribute the cheese and the tomato slices in a pattern of your choosing, lastly season well with black pepper.
  6. Bake in the oven for 17-20 minutes.

               

Courgette Fritters

(Note: When I made these I decided to add a little more flour to the mix after cooking the first two fritters because the mix  was fairly wet, by doing so it helped hold the mix together a little better.  I had a couple of thoughts about how the recipe could be adapted depending what you were eating them with, for example if I was serving the fritters with fish and a side salad I would add a little lemon zest, coriander and chilli in the place of the parsley, paprika and cayenne. )

Ingredients:

  • 2 large courgettes (grated and either using your hands or a colander and a spoon squeeze out any liquid that you can)
  • 1 small onion (grated)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 heaped tbsp parmesan
  • 3-4 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 sprigs parsley chopped
  • 1 egg
  • Seasoning
  • Oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and season well.
  2. Heat some oil in a frying pan.
  3. Shape the courgette mix into golf sized balls, place a few at a time into the pan and then flatten slightly using a spatula.
  4. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes (or until they are golden brown)

          

Mini Chocolate and Courgette Cakes

[Note:  I am pleased to say that this attempt at making chocolate and courgette cakes were a far bigger success than the complete failure that I had earlier this summer!  I like the little kick that the cayenne pepper adds in this recipe however if you are not a fan of spice then just leave it out when you are making up the cake batter.]

Ingredients:

The ingredients for this cake are measured by using an individual yogurt pot (125g).

  • 1 pot plain yogurt
  • 1 pot oil (sunflower or vegetable)
  • 2 pots sugar
  • 2 ½ pots self-raising flour
  • ½ pot cocoa powder
  • 1 large courgette (grated)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 170C fan.
  2. Grease and flour a muffin tray.
  3. Mix everything except the courgette in a bowl.  Once the batter is well mixed, stir in the courgette.  Then pour the batter into the muffin tin. 
  4.  Bake for 17-20 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).
  5. Leave to cool before serving with crème fraiche or ice-cream and a simple chocolate sauce (made by melting some chocolate with some cream).

Baked Ratatouille

[This is a great accompaniment to any meal particularly on a cool autumnal day.  This is a dish that takes a bit of time to prepare, but, is well worth the effort and leaves you feeling very healthy when you eat it.]

Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine
  • 3 courgettes
  • 1 red pepper (Roasted in the oven for 30 mins at 190C Fan then peeled and de-seeded)
  • 1 medium sized onion (diced)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 can of tinned tomatoes (or 5-6 fresh tomatoes roasted in the oven with a little oil, thyme and seasoning for 30 mins at 190C Fan then remove the core and roughly chop the tomato)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for cooking with

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C fan.
  2. Cut the aubergine and courgettes into 2-3mm thick circles.  Place them into a colander sprinkle with salt and place on top of a bowl/in the sink to allow the water to draw out of the aubergine and courgettes.
  3. Place the onion and garlic in a pan with some oil and the sugar then cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, stock cube, thyme, season with salt and pepper, then stir all the ingredients together and leave to simmer on a very low heat whilst you get on with preparing the other vegetables.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a frying pan.  In batches cook the aubergine for roughly 1-2 minutes on each side until they are soft.  Once the aubergines are cooked quickly pan fry all the courgette slices in a little bit of oil to give them a little colour this should take no longer than 2 minutes.
  6. Finally make up the ratatouille in a medium sized oven proof dish layer up the dish in the following order:
    • Tomato Sauce
    • Aubergine
    • Courgette
    •  Red Pepper
    • Tomato Sauce
    • Courgette
    • Aubergine
    • Tomato Sauce
  7. Place the dish in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes.

There may have been tears at the start but it was worth it in the end…

No, for those who are wondering I am not an emotional wreck today, I have merely been cutting onions.  Over the years I have pretty much tried everything to stop the tears flowing when cutting onions including: wearing glasses, sticking out my tongue and putting a spoon in my mouth, but in the end it always seems more hassle than it’s worth and it doesn’t always work.  Subsequently, for roughly five minutes this morning as I peeled some red onions I had tears running down my cheeks.

Today I have been trying to recreate a Red Onion & Port Marmalade that I made two weeks ago on a bit of a whim.  I had seen some red onions for sale in the market which looked pretty good, so I thought why not try something new that would work well with cheese – the end result was a red onion & port marmalade.  The major problem I have in the kitchen when I try out a new recipe is I never write down what it is I am doing especially quantities of ingredients (this is partly because I largely cook by eye and by tasting things regularly).  So when the first of the 3 pots of the onion marmalade was opened and finished in less than a day last week and the second pot quickly disappeared too, I thought I had better try and work out what exactly I did before all memory of what I’d done disappeared.

The first thing I should mention is that in the first batch I made, I used up a rather old bottle of port that had been lying around for years called Sao Pedro (aged for 10) years which had a lovely strong flavour and really good smell which really came out in the marmalade.  However, this morning I used a somewhat cheaper Tawny port, that was much sweeter and in my opinion far less fragrant.  But that being said they both have worked well despite tasting slightly different. So I would say depending on your budget or what you have left lying around it doesn’t really matter what type of port you use.

Red Onion & Port Marmalade

Ingredients:

  • 5tbsp olive oil
  • 2.4kg (weight after being peeled)
  • 2tsp thyme
  • 500g brown sugar
  • 250ml port and ½ small wine glass of port
  • 350ml balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Steps:

  1. Sterilise some jam jars ready for use once your onion marmalade is made.
  2. Finely slice the onions (I use a food processer to do this for ease).
  3. Place the olive oil in a large saucepan and warm on a low heat.
  4. Add the onions and half of the sugar to the pan and stir.  Cover with a lid and leave the onions to soften slowly, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once the onions are soft, add the thyme, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar and the remaining sugar.  Turn up the heat a little and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
  6. After about 5-10 minutes add the port (keeping back the port in the wine glass as you’ll need this later) and stir together.
  7. Now it is a waiting game, as you stir your pan occasionally until the liquid has reduced down so there is only a little liquid left in the pan.
  8. When you think your onion marmalade is almost ready give it a little taste to see if it needs a little more seasoning, before you add the remaining port (if you think it needs it) that you have held back in the wine glass, stir the port in and cook for a further 5-10 minutes before removing from the heat and placing in the sterilised jam jars for storing.

Ideas for what to serve the Red Onion & Port Marmalade with…

All of the ideas I have for the Red Onion & Port Marmalade involve cheese as that is what I originally had in mind when I first made it.  I made both of the following recipes as a starter as they were good to share amongst a large number of people…

Goats Cheese and Red Onion & Port Marmalade Tarts (makes 4 small tarts)

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
  • 200g of soft goats cheese (remove any rind)
  • 14-16 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 4 heaped tsp of the red onion & port marmalade
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Black pepper for seasoning
  • 1 small egg

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 190C fan.
  2. Lightly flour 4 individual tart tins (12cm diameter).
  3. Roughly cut the puff pastry into four pieces and place in the tart tins.
  4. Spread 1 heaped teaspoon of the onion marmalade on the bottom of each of the individual tarts.
  5. Cut the goats cheese into small chunks and distribute equally between the tarts along with the cherry tomatoes, drizzle over a little olive oil and add a little black pepper.
  6. Finally beat the egg in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, lightly brush some of the egg wash over the exposed pastry.
  7. Place in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes (until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted).

Baked Cheese Parcel served with Red Onion & Port Marmalade

Ingredients:

Cheese Parcel:

  • 1 packet of pre-rolled puff pastry
  • 500g wheel of either Coulommiers, Brie or Camembert (depending on what type of cheese you like most)
  • 1 egg
Serve with:

  • Red Onion & Port Marmalade
  • French bread
  • Carrot batons

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 190C fan.
  2. Using a fork prick the top of the cheese you are using 6 times through to the middle of the cheese.
  3. Place the cheese in the centre of the pastry.
  4. You now need to make the cheese into a parcel, I do this by cutting the pastry into 8 segments and then folding the gently into the middle of the cheese and cutting off any excess.
  5. Finally beat the egg in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, lightly brush some of the egg wash all over the pastry.
  6. Place in the oven and cook for 20-22 minutes (until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is melted).
  7. Remove from the oven and serve with the red onion & port marmalade, french bread and carrot batons.