Friday, August 27, 2010

Recipe: Courgette and Emmental Baked Rice

This recipe is loosely based on one of Jamie Oliver's recipes. I found the original recipe in a magazine, couldn't find a direct link to it online- but here is the same recipe tried by another blogger: . As you can see I made a fair few changes to the ingredients and method. I have never cooked rice in a casserole dish before, so I was slightly concerned about whether the rice would cook correctly. It turned out to be completely delicious- I had it as a side dish to some patatas bravas. Which sounds weird but the combination really works- the nice smokey tomato flavour works well with the creamy rice.

Courgette and Emmental Baked Rice (serves 2 generously as a main course, 4 as a side dish) £1.97 per person for a main course, 99p per portion as a side.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Large knob of butter
1 large white onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp dried rosemary
500g courgettes, halved and thinly sliced
140g easy cook basmati rice
400ml vegetable stock
75g crème fraiche
1 tbsp sundried tomato pesto
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
150g emmental, finely grated
Salt and cracked black pepper

1. In a fairly large casserole, sauté the onions in the butter and olive oil on a medium heat for 10 minutes, covered. Add the sugar and rosemary and cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes, or until browned.
2. Add the rice, courgettes and stock, and cook on a high heat, covered, for 5 minutes. Heat the oven to 180C.
3. Stir in the crème fraiche, sundried tomato pesto, parsley and half the emmental. Add a little salt and pepper. Smooth the mixture over, top with the remaining emmental, and put in the oven covered for 10 minutes.
4. Remove the lid, turn the temperature up to 200C and cook for further 10 minutes. Serve!

Recipe: Courgette and Feta Risotto

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I have some good news for y'all! I got my A's level results last week and I got three B's! Very happy with these grades as those are the grades I wanted. Finger's crossed that I get three C's overall next year, and that i get a place at Bath Spa University. Due to my exam results I took a little celebratory trip to Edinburgh for a few days- to see my boyfriend, to see plenty of Comedy shows in the Fringe festival, and to have a few well earned drinks! I had never been to Scotland before so it had real fun, and Edinburgh is such a beautiful city- with good restaurants, cafes, bars and delis everywhere you look! Anyway, just before I went away I made something out of the courgettes I had harvested. Even though I used a courgette up on this dish, AND I brought some courgettes with me to Edinburgh (as part of a home-made foodie gift basket), when I got back from holiday I still had to pick three HUGE "marrow shaped" ones. I think maybe next year I only need two plants- i seem to be planning all my summer meals on this vegetable alone! Anyway, this is a scrumtious recipe, enjoy!

Courgette and Feta Risotto (serves 2 generously- £1.43 per portion)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 courgette, halved and sliced
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small white onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp dried mint
170g risotto rice
100ml white wine
500ml vegetable stock
8g fresh basil, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste
100g feta, chopped into small cubes
Freshly grated parmesan to serve

1. Sautee the courgettes in the extra virgin olive oil and seasoning for 8 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Remove the courgettes with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. In another pan, heat up the olive oil. Cook the onion and garlic, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add dried mint, rice and white wine, and cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes (or until most of the wine has been absorbed).
3. Gradually add the stock, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente (this should take about 10-12 minutes). 2 minutes before serving add the basil and the reserved courgettes.
4. Once the risotto is ready, add the feta, stir in and serve with some freshly grated parmesan.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Recipe: Vegetarian Chilli Cottage Pie

I love shepherd's and cottage pies. Quorn is a very interesting ingredient as well. It doesn't taste of very much but it's a very good absorber of flavours. Quorn is a low fat alternative to beef as well. Not that it really makes a difference in this comforting calorific dish! Quorn is made from a protein obtained from mushrooms, mixed with egg whites and various other natural ingredients. I have made this dish with beef mince as well, and also with leftover beef chilli. Mince is such an economical ingredient, it can be utilised in so many different dishes and you can really make it go a long way. Serve this dish with steamed green vegetables and a thick flavoursome gravy.

Vegetarian Chilli Cottage Pie (serves 6) £1.50 per portion, or £1.64 per portion with 80g frozen peas as side dish per person. Also, less than £1.50 per portion if made with basics beef mince or Sainsburys own brand veggie mince!!

The Mince:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
100g white mushrooms, chopped
½ tsp smoked paprika
100ml white wine
1 tsp cumin
Pinch white pepper
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp mild chilli powder
350g pack of Quorn mince
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
200ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp Worchester sauce
10g coriander leaves and stems chopped

The Mash:
1350g potatoes, peeled and diced into large chunks
2 tbsp butter
Drizzle double cream
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
120g cheddar, grated

1. In a saucepan sauté the onions, garlic, oregano and thyme in olive oil, covered for 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the mushrooms and smoked paprika and cook (uncovered) for 2 minutes.
2. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add all other mince ingredients and cook for 35 minutes on a medium heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until soft enough to mash (takes about 20 minutes). Drain and mash the potatoes. Mix in the butter, double cream and mustard.
4. Adjust seasoning (salt, pepper and sugar to taste) on the mince and mash. Pour the mince into a large baking dish. Spoon and smooth the mash over the mince. Top with grated cheddar.
5. Put the grill onto a high heat. Put the pie under the grill until the topping is melted and golden. Serve.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recipe: "Jumbleberry" Jam

Theres one thing you learn after working in kitchens for a few years: Patience. And you do need a fair amount of patience for this jam. Because the majority of this jam is made from elderberries. I walked round the hedgerows near my house and harvested a load of them, then spent about 3 hours picking the individual dark berries (leaving the pink-ish or green ones) off the stems. Theres still loads of elderberries out there actually, might make something else out of them if i can be bothered! This jam reminds me of the house i grew up in. I grew up in a nice country house, in Colerne (30 minutes away from Bath) with a massive garden, most of which was covered in apple trees, plum trees, elderberry trees and brambles. I loved late summer/early autumn when I could just go into the garden and basicaly gorge myself on the fresh plums and greengages. The greengages were the treasured ones, because there were only a couple of small greengage trees compared to the loads of plum trees we had.

This time, I picked the elderberries myself, I picked a third of the blackberries myself, and the rest of the blackberries, raspberries and greengages are locally grown. I've put them into little jars to give as presents to people. It is fab on toast, but it also goes really well with oaty things, such as oatcakes or stirred into porridge.

“Jumbleberry” Jam (makes about 2.5kg) Costs £2.91 to make if you go pick your own elderberries, blackberries and greengages- 10 x 250g jars at 30p each!

900g elderberries
700g blackberries
450g greengages, pitted
150g raspberries
4 tbsp lemon juice
1700g caster sugar

1. In a large saucepan bring all the ingredients to the boil (being careful not to burn the mixture on the bottom of the pan). Lower the temperature so that the mixture is on a rolling boil.
2. Cook for about 1 hour 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour into preserving jars. Close the lids after an hour, once the jam has cooled slightly. Lasts about a month.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recipe: Creamy Rice Stuffed Courgettes

I had some of the courgette and chive dip left and a few courgettes so I decided to make some stuffed courgettes. They were really tasty and filling. I served them with a herby tomato sauce.

Creamy Rice Stuffed Courgettes (serves 3) £1.26 per portion, £1.44 with salad.

150g basmati rice
3 courgettes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
220g sour cream and chive dip or tzatziki
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
90g finely grated cheddar

1. Cook the rice about 2 minutes less than the packet instructions advice. This is so the rice doesn’t become overcooked once baked in the oven. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat the oven to 200C. Halve the courgettes lengthwise (don’t cut the ends of the stems off like you would normally do). With a small spoon scoop out the flesh in the middle (being careful not to go totally through the courgettes) until you are left with 6 hollow “boat-like” courgette halves, ready for filling.
3. In a saucepan heat the olive oil. Add the courgette flesh and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the cooked rice, dip, tomato, extra virgin olive oil and some black pepper. Stir until well combined.
4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place the courgette halves on to the tray. Sprinkle the insides with a little bit of salt. Spoon the rice mixture into the courgette halves generously.
5. Place the finely grated cheddar evenly over the top of the stuffed courgettes. Place the tray in the oven for 35 minutes. Remove and serve!

Recipe: Creamy Courgette and Chive Dip

So it was a lovely nice summer afternoon (probably one of the last ones this year, so I wanted to make the most of it!) and me and my parents were sat out on the patio, drinking coffee and having lunch. We were having some hummus and pitta breads, and I thought I wouldn’t mind making a nice cool tzatziki-ish thing. Didn't have any cucumber, only some courgettes I’d picked the day before. I heard you can eat courgette raw and you can bake them in cakes as well so I thought I’d make it with courgette and some chives from the garden. We always have plenty of Philadelphia in the house cause im addicted to the stuff, cause it's nice with anything. This dip is delicious, refreshing and it's fairly good for you. Serve with vegetable crudités (radishes, cucumber, and carrots go really well).

Creamy courgette and chive dip (serves 4 as an appetiser) costs £1.81 to make. 72p per person with cucumber and radishes to dip.

200g (1 medium) courgette, grated very finely
350g Full fat cream cheese
50ml semi-skimmed milk
15g chives, finely chopped
½ tsp Schwartz Cajun spice blend (a mix consisting mainly of chilli powder + cumin)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until everything is very well mixed. Season to taste. Allow to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Serve.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Recipe: Basil Penne and Courgette Bake

Another delicious courgette recipe that i'm very happy with. I've harvested almost 4 kilograms of courgettes in less than a month, and I only have three plants growing! Most of the time I like eating courgettes simply, either slow cooked with garlic and dill, or (my favourite food when I was five) fried with lots of grated cheddar and black pepper on top- just totally nostalgic.

Basil Penne and Courgette bake (serves 3) £1.66 per portion, £1.84 with green salad on side.

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
600g (about 3) courgettes, diced
250g penne
300ml crème fraiche
40g wholemeal bread
Small handful fresh basil leaves
15g finely grated parmesan
40g pine nuts

1. Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes covered, or until softened. Add the courgettes with some salt and pepper, and cook covered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally
2. Meanwhile cook the penne until aldente, and preheat the oven to 160C. In a food processor and blend the bread and fresh basil into fine, green breadcrumbs. Mix in the parmesan and pine nuts.
3. Drain the pasta, reserving 100ml of the cooking water. Put the pasta, crème fraiche and cooking water, into the pan with the courgettes. Stir until well combined.
4. Pour into a baking dish, and cover with the breadcrumb topping. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for about 5 minutes and serve.

Recipe: Roasted Ratatouille

This is by far the best ratatouille I have ever made or tasted. I think this dish has put a lot of people off courgettes over the years. Often you get flavourless watery offerings in canteens, which make people think less favourably of this wonderfully rustic French dish.

The trick behind my recipe is to roast all the elements separately. It is useful if you have at least 2 roasting tins, that way it doesn't take all that long to make. In terms of the dish's authenticity, im sure by missing out the aubergine I am committing a cardinal sin, but I believe the dish works better without.

Bit of a story behind this actually. Earlier on in the afternoon mum sent me out to the local farm to get some eggs. She had walked past it many times walking the dog, but had never gone up to the house part to buy produce. I though it was exciting, because it's good to get local produce and to support small businesses. Here's a picture of the farm and the sign I noticed outside, everything is so cheap!

I met the farmer, Linda, and she took me for a little tour round the produce she has been growing. She showed me the courgettes, which I was interested to look at in terms of comparing with mine. I also saw some very promising looking butternut squash plants, give it a couple of weeks and I'll be heading up there to get a couple I think. She keeps 15 hens; she says she gets 14 eggs a day at the moment because one of them has "gone a bit broody", hah!). So I bought a dozen eggs from her, and I decided I would get about a pound of yellow courgettes. Because I love them and you can't really get them in the shops. So when i was making this dish, with all the seperate elements, i left the kitchen at one point to answer the phone. I come back, and theres a naughty looking dog running away, and an empty roasting dish that previously contained 2 pounds of roasted courgettes! She's such a naughty dog! I wish i'd closed the door properly! This is a picture of my dog Misty in the kitchen(Misty is the flat coated retriever on the left. The one on the right is the next door neighbour's black labrador Louie). Bad Dog!

So since my homegrown green courgettes and the yellows I got earlier had all been scoffed, I had to send my mum up for a repeat visit to Linda's farm, whilst I roasted the other ingredients! After all that fuss it was delicious anyway. Mum had it with a cheese omelette (the local eggs are very good!) and I had it with a hunk of crusty bread to mop up the juices. It also works very well as a side dish for roast lamb.

Ratatouille (serves 6 as a side dish, 3 as a main)

3 green peppers, diced fairly thickly
3 red onions, diced fairly thickly
850g courgettes (a mix of yellow and green if possible) thickly sliced
1350g ripe tomatoes, quartered
Olive oil, salt and pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1tsp dried) chopped
¼ tsp garlic granules
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oven to 160C. Separately roast all the vegetables in different roasting tins, with drizzles of olive oil, salt and pepper. They all take 40 minutes, you should stir them halfway through their cooking time.
2. Put all the separately roasted vegetables into a large pan. Add all other ingredients, and cook for 10 minutes, or until hot and everything is well mixed. Serve.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Recipe: Roast Vegetable and Feta Tart

Ok so this recipe is a little fussy but its totally worth it in the end. I love roast vegetables, and they are even nicer when combined with salty feta cheese. The picture isn't picture perfect, i say in he the recipe to use ready rolled shortcrust pastry, but in this picture i used some very good shortcrust that my mum made up. So if you're up for making your own shortcrust, go for it. The ratio for shortcrust is half fat (butter is best) to flour, sometimes with a little water to help mix it together. If you can't get full fat cottage cheese, ricotta will work just as well.

Roast vegetable and feta Tart (serves 4)  £1.81 per portion, £1.99 with green salad on the side.

1 circle of ready rolled short crust pastry
450g courgettes (about 2), chopped into chunks
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 red onion, chopped into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and diced (diced into slightly smaller chunks than the rest of the veg, as they take longer to cook)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 egg
150g full fat cottage cheese
100g feta, crumbled
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
150ml double cream

1. Heat the oven to 180C. Place the pastry into a 9 inch greaseproof tart case, with some greaseproof paper and baking beads/beans. Bake blind for 25 minutes. Remove the greaseproof baking bead package, and put back in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, trim any excess hanging pastry away, and set aside. Heat the oven up to 200C.
2. Put the courgettes, peppers, red onion and carrots in a roasting tin with a big drizzle of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven (set at 200C) for 1 hour, removing from the oven and stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Set the oven back 180C.
3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the egg, cottage cheese, feta, thyme, basil and cream together. Mix in the roasted vegetables, season the mixture, and pour it into the tart case. Place in the oven for 35 minutes.
4. Heat under the grill for a couple of minutes, and then leave to cool (and set a bit) for 5 minutes. Serve.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Recipe: White onion, Mustard and Cheddar Soup

This is a really comforting and warming onion soup. The weather is allready starting to turn (Even though it's only ruddy August!)and my need for tasty big bowls of soup with plenty of crusty bread everly increases. Simple, cheap, tasty and filling. Nuf' Said.

White onion, Dijon mustard and cheddar soup (makes 3 bowls- 84p per bowl)

50g butter
2 large white onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sugar
3 heaped tbsp plain flour
800ml chicken stock
250ml single cream
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
50g finely grated cheddar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
Salt and pepper

1. Cook the onions, garlic and sugar in butter for 10 minutes on a medium heat. Add flour and stir to coat. Gradually add the chicken stock, and cook for 20 minutes. Put aside and leave to cool.
2. Mix together 50ml cream and the wholegrain mustard. Blend the soup until smooth. Return to the pan with 150ml of the single cream, Dijon mustard, cheddar and cook for 10 minutes or until well mixed and piping hot.
3. Season to taste, and swirl the mustard cream over the soup. Serve with buttered crusty bread.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Recipe: Quick Thai Green Chicken Curry

It's funny, I was eating this lovely comforting meal whilst watching the new series of The Biggest Loser USA. Found it quite amusing watching all these rather large people dieting and excercising themselves to exhaustion, and there was me eating a double sized portion of creamy calorific curry. This is a quick-fix thai curry- it's using Waitrose's Thai green curry paste, which by the way is FANTASTIC. I've tried quite a few and I think it gives a really authentic flavour, with the right amount of spiciness. If you want a little more heat i would add 1 more tsp to the dish, but i wouldnt add any more unless you want to blow your head off!! The mushroom stock I used is made by Knorr, it comes in cubes and you should be able to find it (or some other brand of mushroom stock cubes) in any asian food shop. If not, you can use chicken stock instead.

Quick Thai Green Chicken Curry (serves 2)

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1 portobello mushroom, diced
½ red pepper, diced
2 breasts chicken, cut into strips
½ tsp crushed ginger
1 tsp crushed lemongrass
160ml can coconut cream
300ml mushroom stock
2 tsp Waitrose Green Thai Curry Paste
1 tbsp coriander, stems and leaves chopped (extra for garnish)
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
10g basil leaves, roughly chopped

1. Fry the shallots on a fairly high heat in the oil for 3 minutes. Add the mushroom and red pepper and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the chicken, ginger and lemongrass, and cook for a further 4 minutes.
2. Add the coconut cream, stock, curry paste, coriander, sugar and half the basil. Cook for 10 minutes, on a medium heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the rest of the basil and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste and serve, sprinkled with chopped coriander, with basmati or Thai sticky rice on the side.

Recipe: Courgettes in Herby Cherry Tomato Sauce

Ugh, sorry I haven't posted in a while, i've been really busy lately. I'm having to write my personal statement for University, which i have been putting off for a while, but I know I HAVE to do it. And it's important. And important things makes me nervous! It's so silly that i'm writing an application to University, when I don't know whether i've even passed my As levels yet, let alone my A2! Plus someone recently left at work so im working double hours that I would normally do. Which I don't mind, I love work and I need the moola! This is another tasty fresh way of using home-grown courgettes. I served them on the side of chickpea and mushroom rissoles and with a homegrown cos lettuce salad.

Sautéed courgettes in a herby cherry tomato sauce (serves 3 as a side dish) £1.25 per portion

2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
225g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp Italian seasoning (a mixture of dried oregano, thyme and basil)
20g basil, roughly chopped
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

3 tbsp olive oil
600g (about 4) courgettes, sliced
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan to serve

1. Sautee the onion and garlic in the olive oil, covered, for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the cherry tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and Italian seasoning, and cooked covered, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
2. Add the basil, cook for another 5 minutes. Pour into a blender/food processor and blend until smooth. Add a little extra virgin olive oil, season to taste, and set aside.
3. In another pan, sauté the courgettes with seasoning in olive oil for about 10-15 minutes, until soft and starting to go golden. Drain any excess oil from the pan. Add the blended tomato sauce, cook for 5 minutes, and serve with some freshly grated parmesan.