Tag Archives: vegetarian

Smoky roasted butternut squash soup (Serves: 4/6 – Preparation time: +1hr)

Pumpkins and squashes come in all manner of shapes and sizes and in my opinion they are one of the most versatile vegetables that you can cook with.  The good news is right now they are in season and fairly cheap to buy!  For today’s recipe I have decided to keep things simple and turn butternut squash into a wonderfully velvety soup which is perfect served in a mug for bonfire night or as a starter for a dinner party with crusty French bread on the side.

The vibrant orange colour of this soup is hugely inviting and has the effect of making you warmer simply by looking at it. However, it is the paprika in this recipe transforms this soup – turning it from the sweet delicate taste of the squash into a rich smoky flavour that makes you want to keep going back for more.

This is definitely a recipe to try this autumn/winter whilst butternut squash is in season and at its best.  The soup freezes well so can be made up in large quantities and squirrelled away until you need it.  Enjoy!

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Goats cheese pancakes and a warm beetroot and bean salad

I feel it is time to introduce you to some other members of our family: Claude, Sukie, Citronella and Brandy.  They are our miniature goats and they live in a huge enclosure in the woods and do a superb job of keeping the trees and shrubs pruned.  Claude is the newest member of our family, we got him last October as he was being given away ‘free’ to a good home.  Claude is not what you would describe as a “looker”, but he certainly keeps his ladies happy.  Roughly five months after his arrival each of the ladies gave birth to two little kids and they were adorable.  I am pleased to say that earlier this summer each of the kids went to a new home where I am sure they are much loved.  The ladies are once again looking fairly rotund, we have our suspicions that they pregnant.  So I expect that sometime in the not too distant future we are likely to have some more kids running around, upsetting the donkeys as they run through the fence and into their field!

 

    

This week the Old Man has mentioned that he has a new idea/project that he is looking into.  This can only mean one thing he has been searching on “LeBonCoin” again.  (For those of you who don’t know what LeBonCoin is – it’s a French website that advertises pretty much everything you can imagine.)  My suspicions were confirmed when he said he would like to get a pair of milking goats.  I did not think this would go down too well with Mumsy as she had already vetoed his idea of getting some black Gascon pigs this autumn (however I have since been informed that we are definitely going to be getting them next year – provided the fencing is finished).  To my surprise Mumsy liked the idea of milking goats as it means she can try to make cheese and butter with the milk and if there is any excess it could be given to the pigs along with any whey from the cheese-making..

All the talk of milking goats this week got me thinking that I really ought to try out the goat’s cheese pancakes recipe that was sent to Mumsy by a family friend in the States.  This recipe is apparently a great hit in the restaurant that is run by the brother by our friend.  All I can say is that I hope I have done the recipe justice as I wasn’t sure how they were meant to turn out.  What I got were light fluffy pancakes somewhat similar to an English drop-scone and they tasted delicious and I will certainly be making them again – so thank you Tom!  I served them with a warm salad and a little of my red onion & port marmalade which I felt complimented the flavours in the pancake very well.

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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.

Green soup – packed full of vitamins

I have just gotten back from a trip to London.  I was only over for a couple of days but it was enough to leave me craving fruit and veg.  On the whole I love London for the sheer variety of food/cuisines you can choose from.  However, like most people who are madly dashing around trying to pack in as much as possible in a very short time frame, I fell into the trap of buying food that was convenient (and cheap) to eat on the move and subsequently found myself grabbing a sandwich for lunch.  So when I arrived home last night to find, four large boxes of tomatoes, one large box of courgettes and 2 cantaloupe melons sitting on the kitchen table (a gift from our neighbours because they have too many to know what to do with) I felt somewhat relieved.  Knowing that we are likely to be eating courgettes and tomatoes in some shape, form or another over the course of the next 2-3 weeks I thought I’d ease myself in gently…  So after having a quick look in the freezer I settled on the idea of a green vegetable soup, which was quick and easy to make and tasted fresh.

However, I feel that I am not doing my trip to London justice in terms of food… On Thursday I attended a celebratory meal which was held at a brilliant little restaurant near to London Bridge called Champor Champor.  The restaurant serves Malay food with a slight Thai twist and was found one of my friends via a Google search (what would we do without the internet?!).  Having never tried Malay food before I was interested to see what it was like.  The food I tried was packed with flavour, leaving you with a slight zing on your palate.  The dishes were not dissimilar to some I sampled when backpacking through south-east Asia – however I will definitely be heading back to that restaurant in the not too distant future and am definitely going to try and re-create some of the dishes over the next couple of months!

A Very Green Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 courgette (chopped in to small pieces)
  • 300g broad beans
  • 300g peas
  • Handful fresh spinach (washed)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 sprigs of mint
  • 2 stock cubes dissolved in 750ml boiling water
  •  (either chicken or vegetable)
  • Seasoning
  • Crème fraiche (for serving)


Steps:

  • On a low heat, warm the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onions and garlic, cover with a lid and leave to sweat until the onion is soft.
  • Add the courgette to the pan and season well.  Stir occasionally until the courgettes begins to soften.
  • Add the peas, broad beans, mint and stock, bring the mix up to the boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the mint from the pan.  Then add the spinach and cook for a further 3 minutes.

  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before blending the soup using either a handheld blender or a liquidiser.
  • Serve the soup warm with crème fraiche.