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Posts Tagged ‘tomato’

Hello folks! Just a quick announcement before getting on with this post. Food Magazine‘s 2013 Reader Awards are accepting nominations for your favourite West Country food producers, shops, chefs, cafes and restaurants and, for the first time, bloggers. If you have any favourites that you think deserve some recognition you can vote for them here. And if you’ve enjoyed reading this little blog I would be over the moon if you nominated it. #awkward! Thank you!

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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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Eton mess is a classic British summer dessert traditionally consisting of whipped cream, strawberries and crumbled up meringue piled into a dainty dish or glass. There are almost as many stories behind the name of the treat as there are recipes – my favourite involves an over-excited labrador and a pavlova.  It’s not just because of the back story that it’s one of my favourite desserts: you can use any fruit you fancy; it’s ludicrously simple to make – especcially if you use ready-made meringue, and always looks pretty despite being a literal mess. The golden rule, as with all simple dishes, is to try and use the best quality ingredients you can get you hands on.

I recently made my own ricotta and ate rather a lot of it straight-up with a ripe tomato and slivers of basil. This got me thinking whether it would be possible to make a savoury version of a traditional sweet. There are lots of other desserts which have been converted including cheesecakesclafoutis and crumble and I hoped this would work too. Creamy ricotta replaced the usual whipped cream and ripe diced tomato played the role of fruit but I was unsure what to use in place of meringues. Eventually I plumped for cubes of bread tossed in good olive oil and lightly toasted which provided the crispy texture I was after. With some shredded basil and a little salt and pepper the result was a great little vegetarian starter for a summer dinner party or a light lunch served with green salad and a nice glass of white wine.

 

Savoury Eton mess

Serves 4 as a starter

  • 2 thick slices of rustic-style white bread (slightly stale is best)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g ricotta
  • basil or chives, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 ripe tomatoes or 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (try to find tomatoes that are a bit sharp)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Cut the bread into 1 cm cubes, toss in the hot oil and toast until golden brown and crispy, about 4 mins.

Mix the ricotta with the herbs, a little salt and pepper.

Dice the tomatoes or, if using cherry tomatoes, cut into halves.

Either mix all the ingredients together for an authentic-looking mess or layer the ingredients into small bowls. Decorate with more herbs and serve immediately.

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