Zucchine, limone e fagoli

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Courgette ribbons with cannellini beans and a lemon dressing

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One here for a friend of mine, Annie Mihell. Saw this recipe, made it for lunch and thought she would love it – so let’s see!

For 4

4 courgettes

1 lemon

400 gm tin of cannellini beans

Some chopped chives

A handful of chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and black pepper

2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil

Method

Slice the courgettes thinly lengthways using a swivel blade peeler. Avoid the centre of the courgettes as they are quite bitter for a dish like this. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the strips for 1 minute, then drain well. Pop into a large salad bowl.

Grate over the zest of half the lemon and squeeze in the juice of the whole lemon. Add the beans, chives and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour over the oil and mix well. Leave to marinate for at least 5 minutes.

Serve at room temperature with crusty bread. Summer squeezed and sliced for a salad!

Fabulous Courgette Pasta Recipe

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Courgette & chorizo pasta a la crema...

Courgette and Chorizo Pasta A La Crema…

This was a swift store cupboard special supper and one of the tastiest of the last week. I wanted to adapt my usual lardon and courgette pasta…and the simple answer was replace the lardons with cubed chorizo. The result was a sublime cocktail of flavours that slipped down and satisfied.

Do this. It is going to make your week.

100 gm of cubed chorizo
One courgette cubed
50ml single cream
Small bunch of coriander chopped
Pasta
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

In a splash of olive oil heated for a minute, add the courgette and pan fry until starting to just brown, then add the chorizo and continue frying gently whilst you cook the pasta.

Just before you drain the pasta, add the cream and a grind of sea salt and black pepper. Then add the chopped coriander.

Serve on the hot pasta.

Quick, sensuous and delectable. It’s what suppers should be.

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For another exciting twist on the courgette recipe try this one from Nigel Slater

Keep soup in the loop….Devilled Pepper, Courgette and Ham Soup to be specific…

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Keep soup in the loop....Devilled Pepper, Courgette and Ham Soup to be specific...

Midweek and with odd jobs of all sorts to do and to drive away the thought of the grim reaper weather lurking outside – mind he did have an anorak with him – I decided to go for a soup with a kick and a sense of heart too. Something to make you feel toasty inside.

So give this a go – especially if you ever have some ham left over from a joint.

For 4

1 courgette, sliced and diced
1 pepper – mine was yellow – but a red or orange one would be dandy
2 red onions finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
Some dried chill flakes to taste – or a chopped deseeded red chilli
Black pepper
1 litre of chicken stock
Whatever ham you can muster – I used three slices chopped.
Olive oil

In a deep pan, fry the onion, courgette, garlic and onions until softening. Add the chilli. I used a teaspoon of dried red chilli flakes. Stir – then grind over a goodly grind of black pepper.
Then pour in the hot stock. Add 2/3rds of your ham. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down, pop a lid on and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Split the rest of the ham between your bowls and ladle over the soup. This was zingy and about as thrilling as soups get – Simple and effective as all the best soup recipes should be. So, keep soup in the loop this festive season!

p.s. maybe devilled was a bit over dramatic in the title but I wanted to give it a bit of drama and frankly it was worth it.

Anyway, it warmed the hell out of me!

Dreamy creamy zucchini pancetta pasta…

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Dreamy creamy zucchini pancetta pasta...

One of those cold damp nights that needed a solidly substantial yet velvety pasta dish to nourish the nerves, soften the stress and warm the marrow. I decided to cobble together two of my favourite pasta dishes – both on this blog – and it worked perfectly. The creamy tomato pasta with the lardons and courgette pasta. But instead of lardons I had some wonderfully fragrant strips of pancetta. Washed down with a rugged French wine this was a delight.

Ingredients

300 gm of rigatoni pasta – soaks up the creamy sauce
12 baby plum toms
I clove garlic finely chopped
8 strips of pancetta
1 courgette / zucchini cubed
100 ml of cream
Tbsp rosemary
Sprinkle of dried crushed chilli
Olive oil
Black pepper

Pan fry the courgette in the olive oil for about 5 minutes then add the garlic. Continue til the courgette begins to brown then add the tomatoes. Add the chilli and the rosemary.

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Just to warn you at this point – the aroma is stunning!

Put the pasta on- takes 11 minutes normally.

Fry the courgette mix gently for around 8 minutes then add the pancetta. Once the pancetta starts to crisp, about two minutes, add the cream. After a minute add a grind of black pepper.

Drain the pasta and spoon over the creamy mixture.

A super autumnal dish.

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Paella con verduras y jamón serrano…

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Paella con verduras y jamón serrano...

Last night I was once more in the mood for one of my favourite dishes…but this time I wanted to make one that centred on vegetables. I was very pleased with the result and the flavours were fresh and vibrant. There is no reason why you could not make this a completely vegetarian dish I guess, if you used veg stock instead of chicken and cut out the ham.
But that is not for me…..I wanted a hint of meat and the delicate wisps of serrano ham were a perfect match to the rainbow of veg. I reckon that this is also a very healthy dish- I’m not one for adding up this or working out that calory or carb wise – but I reckon this would be hard to beat for a colourful, healthy, reasonably quick dish that could not fail to impress your guests – or just you and yours!

Ingredients for 4 – with a little left over!

1 aubergine – or eggplant for my US friends! Halved, quartered lengthways and cubed
1 red pepper – deseeded and cut into squares or strips.
1 courgette – or zucchini! – halved, quartered lengthways and cubed
6 cloves of garlic
400 gm of paella rice – rinsed well under cold water
100 gm of serrano ham = cut lengthways down the centre then into strips
olive oil
125 ml of dry white wine – I only had cava in – I drink mostly red – but the cava worked just as well! Decadent!
1 litre chicken stock
Pinch of saffron – or colorante
Almost a tsp of smoky paprika
12 baby plum tomatoes, halved – or you could use cherry toms
Handful of chopped parsley

Add a good glug of oil to a paella pan- or huge frying pan if not – or a sauté pan would do – but for goodness sake go out and buy a paella pan tomorrow!

Once it is hot add the aubergine, pepper and courgette. Pan fry for about 5 minutes stirring all the time. Then add the garlic and leave for another 5 minutes. Add the serrano ham and fry for just a minute or so until it starts to colour and crisp a little. Add in the rice and move around the pan til all the grains look coated.

Then add the wine and let it bubble for a moment. Have a drink yourself. Then add the stock, saffron or colorante, and the paprika. Stir, and once it is bubbling, turn down to a very low heat and leave for 15 minutes stirring every now and then.

Then add the tomatoes and cook for about another 10 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. The rice should still have a little bite, be al dente, toothsome…you get the idea. Toss on the parsley – remove from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes whilst you set out the plates and have another glass of something good.

Then serve!

I liked this as an alternative to my meatier, fishier version very much. Please get more paella into your life!

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Even my kitchen angels were impressed…..!

Pine nut & Pepper Pasta Perfection on a plate…oh, ok…in a bowl…

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Pine nut & Pepper Pasta Perfection on a plate..ok..a bowl

Right, just got a few minutes whilst I am poaching a chicken for supper and, before I do the rice,  to tell you what has been happening- well work has commenced once more, and yet with the sun still shining all is still fine soul-wise. So, suppers recently have been simple and of the ‘ok what have we got hanging out in the fridge variety’. Last night I just got out several items that nodded politely to me as I perused the cupboards…the general consensus was a pasta dish – and I wanted to do something around my standard courgette and lardon pasta dish that my kids love so much. Something a little more substantial still.

So.

I pan fried two diced courgettes with two cloves of chopped garlic, 100 gm of lardons and then in a moment of recklessness I threw in 75 gm of pine nuts and the chopped stems of several basil stalks. A dash of dried oregano too, then I added a red pepper cut into match stick slices and two mushrooms, very, very finely chopped – why? – my daughter doesn’t like them, so the smaller they are, the less she is likely to see them…and she didn’t! Then I sprinkled over some dried chilli flakes. This all combined pleasantly for about ten minutes. Once it looked just right – I drizzled on a little more good olive oil and waited for the rigatoni to cook. Then I drained it – added a portion to each bowl and spooned on a serving of the heavenly pine nut / pepper mix. And of course, we all shaved parmesan on it to our heart’s content – it was a marriage made in my kitchen!  It looked wonderfully colourful and it tested all the taste buds.

So, I have to head back to the kitchen now – pardon the rush!

Enjoy the coming weekend where ever you reside…and keep in touch!

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Herby Roast Chicken with Pan Fried Veg…

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Herby Roast Chicken with Pan Fried Veg...

Perfect celebration for an Ashes win against the Aussies. I had just served lunch and we had downed only a few mouthfuls when Jimmy Anderson delivered the coup de grâce. In the picture above you can see the side dish – I started these off in the oven with the chicken then finished them off in the pan when I added the most delicious sweet cherry organic toms, fresh basil and a whizz of lemon and thyme salt. It is basically a mix of courgettes, aubergine, red onion, garlic and red pepper. The chicken I split open along its back, opened it up to cook quicker, smothered in garlic oil and a combination of cumin seeds, rosemary, oregano and thyme. It looks quite frightening actually – but tasted divine.

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This is real fast food….

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This is real fast food....

Coming in tonight from work at almost 8pm, apart from a large glass of wine, I need something quick and tasty to devour. I defy anyone to come across a simpler, tastier, fast food recipe than this which centres around the humble courgette.

And tonight I wanted to augment it with a symphony of fresh herbs. In a pan….see the pic above, I pan fried a courgette – zucchini – choose the name you will – sliced and cubed in olive oil. After 5 minutes I added a carton of lardon. When it started to brown lightly I added a sliced and diced deseeded red chilli – a dash of garlic oil, black pepper and a grind of rock salt.

Then I stirred in a small handful of chopped fresh Greek basil. The pasta was already on the hob…I now turned the courgette mix down, getting the lardon nice and gently crispy. Then turn off the heat – add a good tbsp of fresh golden oregano just before serving. Pop a good portion of the pasta on a plate, then spoon on a portion of the courgette mix. Snowfalls of parmesan finish off this super simple real fast food dish. Who needs Domino’s or MacDonald’s or Chinese takeaways? The whole meal takes only the time it takes to cook the pasta – ten minutes tops.
THIS is real fast food!

Pollo Balsamico…

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Pollo Balsamico...

Sometimes, I think folk who write cookery magazines can be a little lazy. I have found several recipes, which. if you followed them to the letter would be either rather dull, or even quite tasteless. I like Jamie Oliver a lot, but I sometimes feel, probably like the great painters, many of the recipes have not had his ‘touch’, but one of his minions – someone who is probably trying to fill a space in the mag or beat a deadline.

Anyway – moan over. One of these recipes, I have ‘fiddled with’ and I think it now tastes better than when I originally tried it! In essence it is simple – but success hinges on the use of good ingredients – especially the tomatoes. Too many tasteless ones out there! Beware!

So, last night’s supper went something like this….

For this recipe you need:

500 gm really tasty toms – I used some baby plums and some organic vine wallahs.
2 courgettes – halved lengthways and then cut into threes.
150 gm sourdough or soda bread torn into chunks.
Small bunch fresh thyme leaves stripped off the stalk.
8 free range chicken thighs, skin on and bone in- fine for 4
Olive oil / 5 tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 190C

Mix the courgettes, tomatoes, bread, thyme, some salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Leave to one side.

Pan fry the thighs skin down in olive oil on a highish heat until the skin browns and crisps a little. 2- 3 minutes should be dandy.

Add them to the bowl with the other ingredients plus the balsamic and a good drizzle of olive oil. Then tip into a large roasting tray. Ensure the thighs are skin side up. Drizzle a little more olive oil – ensure the courgettes get a good dowsing.

Put it in the oven for one hour. Check half way through – baste it a little and add a tad more oil if it looks a little too sticky. But that stickiness is half of what you want! Cook til the chicken is nice and crispy and the toms are squishy and the courgettes nicely roasted. Do not be tempted to put foil over it at any stage! It ends up steaming things and spoils the show!

I served it with a green salad. And a big shiraz….A good dish – and a simple one.
And one that balsamic was made for.

Bits and bobs May round up….aubergines, Noah, rhubarb and Eggs Warhol…etc!

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Bits and bobs May round up....

Well. you can tell it is half term because I am eating breakfast! And so far, despite the Noah style rainfall yesterday, it has been very pleasant thank you for asking. This is a sort of catch all post – I have been experimenting a little and eating out a little and shopping a lot. Ok…this pic

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is this morning’s breakfast. It scores little, if anything, on looks… I agree…but the flavour was bang spot on.
2 eggs lightly scrambled with a slice of black pudding pan fried and then crumbled through the egg mix midway through scrambling. It mellows out the pud flavour and is immensely filling in a nice way! Anyway – there you go – it had a sort of Andy Warhol look – a good name maybe for it – Eggs Warhol.

At the weekend I marinated slashed chicken thighs in sloe gin, slivers of garlic and bay leaves for an hour. Then roasted them for about 40 minutes til crisping.

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I served them with courgettes oven baked ( I had pan fried them lightly first) with snowfalls of parmesan, drizzles of olive oil, garlic and a handful of Greek Basil – I love those gorgeously aromatic tiny leaves. Oh and I also did Jersey Royal new potatoes in butter and coriander on the side too. Got to make the most of these beauties whilst they visit!

Popped into Morrison’s near Basingstoke – as it is to me – one of-if not the best – supermarkets in this whole area. Nearest I have been to a French or Spanish affair. The veg counter is a work of art and has a huge variety of veg not normally seen anywhere unless you live in Brixton or some other marvellously multi-cultural spot. Everything from these gorgeous Graffiti Aubergines at the top of the page, to eddoes, fresh turmeric rhizomes, several different varieties of chard, cassava, different gourd, about 10 different types of chillies, elephant and rose garlic, hundreds of fresh herbs – all being sprayed gently with cold air. All fresh – nothing in plastic bags! The fruit counter is equally as fascinating – plus they have a phenomenal fish counter and a butchery populated by guys who are ACTUALLY butchers and know what they are talking about! If you have to shop in a supermarket then this slice of paradise is it.

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Right, enough sales talk – and I won’t even get commission!

Yesterday’s lunch was lemon sole in lemon beurre blanc sauce with spinach and new pots- again!

Not a great shot of it this – does not do it justice – still…

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Last night’s supper was a version of a Keith Floyd dish that I only seem to ever cook about once a year but I love it – it is simple and has a sort of Turkish / Greek feel to it.

He just calls it Minced Beef and Spinach – but I often miss out the spinach and I also like using minced lamb, which I did last night. Being someone who can’t just follow a recipe – I have to fiddle. But is that not what it is all about?

Anyway – I did. Fiddle on!

Ingredients:

3 spring onions finely chopped
12 okra trimmed
2 cloves of garlic chopped
butter
1 tbsp smoked paprika
500 gm minced lamb
1 cinnamon stick
1 chopped and deseeded red chilli – or you could use dried chilli flakes
2 large tomatoes deseeded and sliced
basmati rice

Stir fry the okra, onions and half the garlic for about 2 minutes in olive oil. Set to one side.

Next, in a mix of butter and olive oil, fry the minced lamb for about 5 minutes. Then add the cinnamon stick, the paprika and the rest of the garlic plus the chilli. Sprinkle in some black pepper too and a grind or two of sea salt.

I add a splash, no more of water, once the lamb is browned ( If you chose to add fresh spinach – about a half a kilo – at this point – no need for the water.)

Add in the tomatoes and the okra, onion mix. Continue to cook – it will be about 30 minutes in all. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

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I then cooked basmati rice – enough for 4 – and stirred it into the lamb dish. You could serve it separately if you wish with some plain yoghurt – I like the buttery texture of stirring it all together though.

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Simple and summery and perfect for supper. Right – out now to pick some rhubarb as the Ark appears to have docked for a while and the sun is considering making an appearance.

English: depiction of Noah's ark landing on th...

English: depiction of Noah’s ark landing on the “mountains of Ararat”http://www.facsimile-editions.com/de/nf/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)