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Posts Tagged ‘courgette’

I love cooking vegetables on the barbeque and, even though I’m an omnivore, I’m quite happy to stick to vegetarian options when we get the grill out. The tendency (for me at least) is to make the most of the occasion and overeat so vegetable based options seem the way to go since they are usually a bit lighter than a slab of meat. I also love throwing halloumi on the BBQ, it’s texture transforms from tough to soft and  pleasently chewy and it’s salty flavour goes so well with charred veggies. It’s worth tracking down good halloumi made with sheep or goat’s cheese which has a much better flavour and texture than the stuff made with cow’s milk but, should you stuggle to find any, the marinating step makes even the mass-produced cheese taste good.

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In an unwise decision the other night I decided to reclaim my cast-iron griddle pan from its box in the loft where it has been temporarily stashed since the start of our kitchen renovation, and introduce it to my temporary kitchen-in-the-lounge. Bad move people, bad move. My hankering for charred courgette salad nearly drove us out the house: the lounge’s complete lack of an extractor fan meant the room rapidly filled with billowing smoke − a good test for the fire alarms but a total common-sense fail. Whoops! Having safely deposited the rabbits in the back garden, we had to open up all the windows and doors to properly vent the smog. Goodness knows what our neighbours made of it all. Rest assured, for now the griddle pan has been retired back to the attic and any griddling action will take place on the barbeque if we ever get a long enough dry spell in the midst of all this rain.

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The Italians know a thing or two about cooking vegetables. While I ordinarily opt to cook my veggies as little as possible to preserve their flavour and freshness, a popular Italian approach is to cook them twice and it produces some amazing results. I remember early on in my Erasmus year in Italy seeing a massive plate of soggy looking courgettes at the local self-service restaurant and thinking ‘how could they ruin something so lovely?’. Ruefully I added a spoonful to my dish of contorni (sides) and was surprised by how delicious they were. They had been cooked to the point of collapse, simmered then fried, but were beautifully golden and had delicate crispy edges. Being cooked so long had concentrated their sweetness and they were a delight to eat. I kept my eye out for those courgettes and made sure to load up a plate every time they were on the menu.

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So, after a few sweet posts I’m back to trying to use up courgettes and have taken to trawling back issues of BBC Good Food magazine for inspiration. I spotted this recipe and immediately knew I had to try it given my fondness for anything pickled. The amount of pickled beetroot, gherkins and onions I get through – often straight from the jar – anyone would think I was having weird pregnancy cravings. Maybe I have a vinegar deficiency? Since making my first batch, I’ve been piling bright yellow, sweet and sour courgette rounds onto practically everything I eat: cheese, sandwiches, chilli, pulled pork, salads… everything’s better with pickles! I am officially addicted to the stuff. I’m actually willing my courgettes to grow just so I can have an excuse to make more. (more…)

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Further to the courgette insurgency, I discovered these two giants hiding under a leaf the other day. Given that we’re starting to get rather tired of courgette (except some great pickled ones… nom nom!) there was no way I was going to persuade, cajole or otherwise force my OH to eat marrow be it stuffed, roasted or soup. Enter please the bizarre-sounding recipe for marrow rum via The Cottage Smallholder. Never one to turn down a recipe for homemade booze, especially one that involves a trip to a brewing supplier and a pair of tights, I knew I had to give this a go. (Oh, and just to clarify, I didn’t use the tights for looting the brewing shop!) Don’t be put off by the necessity of a brewing supplier, you can order what you need over the internet or even make your own and, from what I understand, you can get away with using plain old baking yeast which has always worked well in my elderflower champagne.

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I’m struggling to keep up with my courgette plants, for some reason this year they have decided to grace me with an abundance of fruit. It’s not that I’m ungrateful, I love courgettes, but there are already three of them in my fridge, another four on the plants and two more plants that are just starting to produce. I’m trying to find as many different ways to use them; we really enjoyed this cake from David Lebovitz’ site and this galette from Deb at Smitten Kitchen as well as this pasta and this tart from Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini. Just as I was starting to run out of ideas I happened upon a fabulous new cookbook from Riverford farm – a vegetable box supplier just a few miles down the road. Not only do they grow a huge amount of interesting things, they also have a hugely popular field kitchen staffed by chefs from around the world, many of whom have previously worked at the legendary Chez Panisse in San Fransisco.

 

 

 

 

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Over the past few months I’ve been trying to introduce more vegetarian meals into our weekly menu; no mean feat when you’ve got a vegetable-shy husband! Whilst we have what I’d call a fairly healthy diet; eating vegetarian a few times a week feels more balanced. Also, by cutting back a bit, I can afford to buy better-quality, local meat which we both prefer. The only problem is finding recipes that are substantial enough for my husband not to notice the lack of meat. I tend to fall back on pasta dishes or quiche but am on the look out for new ideas. Does anyone out there have any suggestions? I’d love to hear them!

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