Category Archives: Courgette/zucchini

Courgette, lemon and raspberry cake

courgette raspberry cake 3

Yes, the courgettes are still going strong, and yes I’m still making cake with them. These days it’s very rare that I make cake without something from the allotment making its way in there. The raspberries have been amazing again this year. I often feel guilty that they’re so neglected, they have to compete with bindweed winding up their stems, couch grass growing among their roots, and with little support offered, their lanky stems get whipped around in the wind. But yet each autumn they give me a lovely abundance of fruit. They do try and spread themselves around a bit, and have to be reigned in, but apart from that, they’re pretty easy. They welcome a good mulch of compost with some added chicken manure each spring once the stems have been cut back, but they ask for little else. Rain, sunshine and some bees to pollinate the flowers.

So I harvested a large plastic punnet full of raspberries, and when searching for recipes, I found one that also uses courgettes, perfect. I had intended to top the cake with flaked almonds but completely forgot (typically got carried away) so please do so if you have some. The original recipe uses a lemony glaze on top, which would also be lovely. With the rest of my raspberry harvest I decided to make a quick and easy fridge jam. A recipe for this will be coming up next.

This is a UK conversion and slight adaption of a recipe from the blog – I am a Honey Bee.

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125ml milk
  • juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 140g grated courgette (excess liquid squeezed out through a clean tea-towel).
  • 140g raspberries
  • optional – flaked almonds

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºc. Line a loaf tin with greaseproof or baking paper.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients and put aside.
  3. Beat the eggs, add the oil and sugar and blend until well combined.
  4. Add the milk, lemon juice and zest, mix.
  5. Fold in the courgette.
  6. Then fold in the dry ingredients.
  7. Finally fold in the raspberries. Be careful not to over mix.
  8. Pour into the loaf tin, smooth over to level, scatter over the flaked almonds if using, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

courgettes for cake courgette raspberry cake 2 courgette raspberry cake 1

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Courgette and pea soup

courgette and pea soup2

The courgettes are showing no sign of letting up. They have maybe slowed a little, but still they push on to the bitter end. A harsh frost is probably the only thing that would stop them in their tracks. That or a nuclear explosion.

Now that the weather has turned down a notch on the temperature dial, I’m feeling the need for soup again. I admit, I have never quite been convinced by courgette soup. Somehow it doesn’t seem like a soup sort of veg, being quite watery and fairly bland, and not exactly comforting. But I decided to try it and I’m glad to say I’ve been proved wrong. It works really well in fact, and produces a lovely silky smooth consistency.

It needs plenty of onion, maybe some garlic would work too, and something to give it a nice colour and extra oomph – I used peas here to keep it green, but you could try roasted red peppers for example.

I roasted the courgette and onion first to caramelise them, which adds an extra sweetness and depth. The peas came straight from the freezer, but do use your own if you grow them. The courgette was one of those oversized ones, bordering on marrow, but you could equally use smaller courgettes or marrows. The result tastes like a lighter than normal pea soup, you wouldn’t know it had courgette in there, but it bulks the soup out well and adds a definite creaminess.

This made enough for 2 generous bowls.

Take 1 large courgette (or a few smaller ones), peel and de-seed them if they’re on the large size, and cut into fat chunks. Throw into a roasting tray along with a large onion cut into wedges, some herbs of your choice (I used thyme), season with salt and pepper and drizzle over a little olive oil.

Place into a pre-heated oven (around 180ºc) and roast for around 30 mins.

Remove from the oven and tip the vegetables into a large saucepan, cover with around 1 pint of vegetable or chicken stock and add a good handful (around 100g) of peas. Put a lid on and simmer until the peas are thoroughly cooked – 10 mins at least, but you could leave it simmering for longer if you’re not in a hurry.

Blitz with a hand blender, or else pour the mixture into a blender and blitz. Add more seasoning if required and a dollop of cream to swirl in.

courgette and pea soup large courgette courgettes for soup

Spiced courgette and pecan cake

courgette pecan cake1

This is my second attempt at this cake, as you’ll know if you read my posting for Autumn Eton mess. If something fails on me, yet I know it tasted good and had the potential to be something better, then I have to re-make it to prove that to myself, and somehow put everything right.

It’s a combination of two recipes, inspiration came from this recipe on the BBC Good Food site, and one from my scrapbook of recipes torn from supplements and magazines over the years. I wanted a smaller loaf cake, so used the quantities from the 2nd recipe which was for a parsnip and walnut loaf cake. It just so happened that the general method and most of the ingredients were similar.

A marrow isn’t really necessary if you make my smaller version, I used a large courgette, but if you want to double the quantity to make a larger cake, then a small marrow would be ideal. Otherwise just use more courgettes! Mine are still going strong on the allotment.

This is very easy to make, the most work involves the grating of the courgette, but this is made easier if you have a grater attachment on a food processor.

Ingredients:

  • 150g sugar (I used golden caster sugar)
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice (or use, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp – or a good grating of fresh – nutmeg, and if you have them, a pinch of mace and allspice)
  • around 200g grated courgette
  • 100g pecan nuts – roughly chopped
  • maple syrup (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºc and grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. After grating the courgette, place it into a clean tea-towel and squeeze out the excess water as much as you can. Just so you know – this is where I went wrong before, forgetting to do this, and it resulted in a very heavy, dense cake. So it’s quite important.
  3. Beat together the sugar, oil and egg until light.
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients.
  5. Fold in the courgette and pecan nuts.
  6. Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin and bake for around 50 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Don’t worry if it cracks slightly on top, all part of the character.
  7. Drizzle over a little maple syrup, or you could use honey.

If you click on the link to the BBC Good Food site, they add a cream cheese frosting on top, so feel free to add this if desired.

This is a lovely autumn style cake, very warming from all the spices, perfect with a cup of a tea after a long walk!

courgette pecan cake3 courgette pecan cake2

Marrow and ginger jam

mg jam in jar

Okay, the signs are all there:

  1. I’ve started picking the autumn fruiting raspberries.
  2. The first sweetcorn has been harvested (recipes to come once I get bored of eating it straight off the cob – might take a while).
  3. I’ve started wearing cardigans again.
  4. I’ve made my first preserve of the year.

No, I’m not turning old before my time (that happened loooong ago), but the signs of autumn approaching are in the air. Autumn is definitely preserve making season, and for that alone, I love it!

marrows

So I harvested 5 marrows on Monday – I knew there were a couple lurking under the mangle of spiky stems, but when I finally got around to pulling them out I spotted another, and then another, and … ‘oh no, not another one!’ I’m not sure exactly when an oversized courgette becomes a marrow, but when they’re almost half a meter long, they have both feet firmly in the marrow camp.

Determined not to immediately resign them to the compost heap, I did a little web search and stumbled across a recipe for marrow and ginger jam. I’m sure I must have come across this before but dismissed it as it doesn’t sound that appetising, but the picture next to the recipe sold it to me. A golden sunshine coloured nectar in a jar that looks too good to be true.

It’s not. What I now realise is that the marrow breaks down completely on cooking and because it doesn’t have a strong favour itself, it becomes just a base (or a sponge if you like) for whatever flavours you throw in there, but I think the stronger the better. So in this recipe, the ginger and the lemon steal the show and it becomes like a ginger and lemon marmalade, but without the need for a sack of lemons and a lot of juicing.

The first recipe I found was from All recipes (links below) which is a very simple method but uses only the juice from 1 lemon. I decided straight away that a bit of lemon zest in there would be nice and make it more like a marmalade. Then I found this second recipe from BBC Good Food that uses the zest as well, but a much larger quantity of ingredients, with more lemon and ginger per marrow.

I happened to have 3 lemons in the bottom of my veg drawer that needed using, and a 20g piece of fresh ginger, plus a bit extra in the freezer. But, I only 1kg of jam sugar in the cupboard. In the end, I decided to keep the ratio of 1kg marrow to 1kg sugar, as it’s sort of the golden rule that works best for me in jam making, but I threw in all of my lemon and ginger stock, what the hell, I love lemon and ginger.

In terms of method, I ended up using the All recipes version, as it’s so much quicker and easier, but you will need a food processor or liquidiser for this.

Sources: Ginger marrow jam (allrecipes.co.uk) and Marrow & ginger jam (BBC Good Food)

Ingredients:

  • 1kg marrow (I started out with one weighing about 2kg, but by the time you’ve de-seeded and peeled it, it will be a lot less)
  • 1kg jam sugar (caster sugar will be fine if you use enough lemon)
  • 20g ginger (this was the weight once peeled)
  • 3 unwaxed lemons

Take your marrow and carefully slice it lengthways down the middle. Despite their size they are fairly easy to cut through. With a dessert spoon scoop out the seeds and woolly flesh down the middle. Take your time over this to ensure all of the seeds have been removed as you really don’t want these in your jam. Then flip the marrow halves over and peel their outsides. Chop into cubes and measure them out to around 1kg (a little under or over won’t hurt). Place into the largest pan you have and put to one side.

Peel the lemons and (if you want to) chop the peel down more finely depending on how you like it (thick cut/fine cut) then juice them. Put the lemon shells and any pips into a muslin bag if you have one (this isn’t crucial, skip it if you don’t). Peel and chop the ginger.

Add a couple of spoonfuls of lemon juice to the marrow and cook over a lowish heat until they begin to soften. Then tip them into a food processor or liquidiser (you might have to do this in batches) along with the rest of the lemon juice and ginger and blitz until smooth.

Then transfer back into the pan, add the zest and the sugar, stir, add the muslin bag, and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, wash and sterilise some jam jars (I filled 7 smallish ones, 4 or 5 regular sized would probably do). My normal method here is to wash them in hot soapy water, rinse, and then place them upright (along with the lids) into a baking tin, and place this into an oven preheated to 100ºc for 10 minutes. Also at this point, place a small plate into the freezer for the wrinkle test.

Once the sugar has dissolved in the mixture, bring the heat up as high as you can (be very careful here of molten liquid splattering out) and keep stirring it every so often. It can take up to 10 minutes at this stage, but I tend to use my senses rather than the clock. The mixture will start to thicken as you stir it, and the smell will become very ‘jam-like’, I know that sounds obvious, but the smell definitely changes from fruity to almost caramel like, which I guess is exactly what the sugar is doing.

When you think it’s getting close to done, take your plate from the freezer and put a small dollop of the jam on the plate. Give it a few seconds to cool, blow on it a bit (I do, but you probably don’t need to!) then push the glob with your finger. If it wrinkles up it’s ready. If it still resembles nothing but liquid put it back on the heat for a few more minutes and try again.

Once ready, take your jars from the oven (ensure they’re still hot) and fill them to around 10mm/half inch from the top. Screw the lids on tight and you’re done. Easy!

I’m now pondering whether a different flavour marrow jam could be possible. Marrow and chilli perhaps? Hmm, I am growing lots of those at home!

 

mg jam ingredients

marrow prep

marrow chopped
marrow blitzed
mg jam on knife

Courgette Bhajis

courgette bhajis1

The courgettes keep on coming, and in return I keep on inventing different ways to use them. I have somehow managed to sneak them into almost every meal over the last few weeks; lots of pasta dishes, risotto, curries and stir-fries, salads, you name it. I am almost at the point of making soup, but I feel that might be a last resort, that or chutney. Not that they don’t make a lovely chutney, just that I have made so much chutney in past years that I have stocks to last me through a nuclear war.

So, as I wondered through the aisles of the supermarket one day, my eye caught sight of some onion bhajis, and after my brain thought ‘mmm bhajies’, in a Homer Simpson type voice, I then thought ‘ooh, I wonder if I could make bhajis with the courgettes?’ Okay they’re a little wetter than onions, but maybe it could work. After a quick internet search it seems (as usual) I’m not the first to have come up with the idea.

I found a couple of specific courgette bhaji recipes that looked quite complex, and in the end decided to adapt a normal onion bhaji recipe.

SourceHow to make the perfect onion bhajis by Felicity Cloake. Original recipe here with my adaptions in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 60g gram flour
  • 30g rice flour (I couldn’t get hold of rice flour, so used all gram)
  • 1 tbsp ghee or butter, melted
  • Juice of ¼ lemon
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds (I didn’t use these)
  • 1-2 hot green chillies (to taste), finely minced
  • 2 tsp root ginger, finely grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 2 fresh curry leaves, chopped (optional) (I didn’t use)
  • 2 onions, halved, core removed and thinly sliced (I used 1 small onion)
  • Vegetable oil, to cook
  • 1 large or 2 regular sized courgettes, deseeded if they’re large, grated and the excess water squeezed out using a tea towel.

 

Sift the flours into a mixing bowl, then stir in the ghee and lemon juice and just enough cold water to bring it to the consistency of double cream. Stir in the spices, aromatics and herbs and add salt to taste. Stir in the onions and courgette so they are well coated.

At this point, I used a shallow fry method, adding a few cm of oil to a large pan, heating well, and then dropping in a spoonful of the mixture at a time and flipping them over with a spatula after a few minutes. I then put them onto a baking tray lined with parchment and finished them off in the oven for 20 mins or so. However, feel free to use the deep fry method detailed below.

Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 180C, or fill a large pan a third full with oil and heat – a drop of batter should sizzle as it hits the oil, then float. Meanwhile, put a bowl of cold water next to the hob, and a plate lined with kitchen paper. Put the oven on a low heat.

Once the oil is up to temperature, wet your hands and shape tablespoon-sized amounts of the mixture into balls. Drop into the oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, then stir carefully to stop them sticking. Cook for about four minutes, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden, then drain on the paper and put in the oven to keep warm while you cook the next batch. Serve with chutney or pickle.

These are lovely as the starter or side to a curry dish, but equally nice with a piece of grilled chicken or fish and a salad. Or just eat them as a snack.

courgette bhajis2

Caramelised onion, courgette and feta pies

onion & courgette pies1

 

These rustic style pies are basically the same as the onion and herb tart I made a while ago, except I divided the pastry into 4 to make smaller, individual portion ones. They would make perfect picnic fodder, or for taking with you to the allotment for a tools down break time.

To make the pastry (this is my tried and trusted method): rub 100g butter into 200g plain flour (with an added pinch of salt) until it resembles breadcrumbs. Break in 1 egg, fill half an eggshell with water and add. Bring together into a dough, place onto a sheet of clingfilm, wrap and place in the fridge for 30 mins.

Slice 1 large or a couple of smaller onions. Slice a couple of small courgettes (or a regular sized one) into rounds. Heat some oil in a pan and gently sauté the onions until soft and starting to colour. Remove and set aside. Add the courgettes to the pan and fry until just coloured (these won’t take as long as the onions).

Take your ball of pastry dough and divide into four. Roll a piece out into a rough circle, about saucer sized. Add a couple of large spoonfuls of the onion mix to the middle of the pastry, top with a few slices of courgette and finally a few cubes of feta cheese. Bring the sides of the circle up, overlapping slightly as you do. Do the same with the other 3 pieces.

Beat 1 egg and add a heaped tablespoon of crème fraîche, or roughly the same of double cream. Mix together and pour the mixture into each pie. Brush the outside of each pie with a little milk. Bake in a moderate oven for around 25-30 mins.

onion & courgette pie2

Courgettes stuffed with spicy lamb

courgettes with lamb1

courgettes with lamb2

 

This is perfect for those times when you get an unexpected baby marrow. Or even just a marrow. I’m not sure how courgette plants manage to do this, but on one visit there’ll be a few courgettes worthy of picking, maybe a few very tiny ones, and then next visit, ‘Whoa! Where did that hulking great monster turn up from? Was it one I failed to notice last time, or have those babies just been growing at a phenomenal rate?’ The marrow fairy has visited again!

Do not despair, this recipe makes good use of them.

Source: Cook with M&S app (my additions in brackets). For 2 people.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large courgettes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion (I used 1 whole smallish one), chopped.
  • 1/2 garlic clove (I used about 3), minced.
  • 250g mince
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tomatoes (recipe says to peel and deseed, but I did neither, just diced)
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • handful of chopped mint
  • 25g fresh breadcrumbs (I used dried)
  • (my addition – about 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper – not really spicy otherwise).

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200ºc (400ºF).
  2. Halve the courgettes lengthways, and using teaspoon, scoop out the seeds from the centre and discard.
  3. Brush the courgettes with half the oil and sit them (cut side up) in a roasting tin. Season and roast for 20 mins.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a pan and add the onions, cook for 2-3 minutes until softened.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  6. Add the mince and cook over a high heat, stirring constantly until browned.
  7. Sprinkle over the cinnamon (and cayenne pepper), cook for another minute, then remove from the heat.
  8. Stir in the tomatoes, herbs and 2/3rds of the breadcrumbs.
  9. Spoon the spicy lamb mixture into the courgettes and sprinkle over the remaning breadcrumbs. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden.

This is quite filling, so we only had 1/2 a courgette each along with a bit of salad. It might depend on how big your courgettes/marrows are. The left over lamb mixture was eaten the next day for lunch, reheated and stirred into some cooked couscous with a few cubes of feta cheese. Delicious.

The following night I used the other half of the lamb mince (I bought 500g) to make some meatballs and these were browned and added to a tomato pasta sauce – with courgettes of course! I got a bit carried away with making and serving these, so it was only halfway through eating them that I realised I hadn’t taken a photo. Oops. I can only show you the leftover bit before it too was devoured!

lamb meatballs

 

 

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