August 28, 2015

SMOKED SALMON AND HALLOUMI STUFFED COURGETTES

 

stuffed courgettes

stuffed courgettes6

stuffed courgettes2

We have loads of home grown produce around at the moment.  From a small number of tomato plants we have grown many kilos of tomatoes and they keep on coming.  We didn’t grow these squash and courgettes ourselves, they were gifts from different friends, all of whom seem to have a glut of them this year.  Lucky for us!

stuffed courgettes7

We haven’t done so well with our apples.  Our best apple tree had to be removed to make way for the new fosse septique, leaving us with just one that we have “rescued”.  It was squashed in amongst lots of other weed trees and bushes that were overcrowding it when we bought the house so we cleared them all out to give it room to thrive.  By early July it had loads of apples on it but then we had a spell of really hot weather and the tree suffered badly, most of the apples falling off before they were ripe, becoming food for the critters.  The few in the picture above are our full crop for the year as there are no more on the tree.

stuffed courgettes3

We may be short of apples but we have plenty of donated courgettes - although I thought these looked more like small marrows.  They made me remember the stuffed marrow dish my mum used to make.  Each summer my dad would proudly produce a couple of giant marrows and she would fill thick slices of them with a stuffing of minced beef and onion cooked in Oxo gravy, smother them with cheese sauce and bake them in the oven.  Delicious!

stuffed courgettes4

However, on checking the contents of our fridge I discovered a glut of other bits and bobs that were also in need of using up.  My brother and his daughter came to stay with us in early August and we predictably overbought on food, not allowing for the number of days we were likely to eat out – not to mention the food shopping they did themselves to add to the haul.

My brother and his daughter both enjoy cooking and after they had gone home I found a few interesting things in the fridge that they had bought but never got round to cooking.  Including two packs of halloumi.

I don’t think I have ever eaten halloumi, certainly I have never bought any or cooked with it.  But, along with my glut of tomatoes, a pack of smoked salmon trimmings, some grated Emmental and the large courgettes, an idea of what to do with them all started to form.  I was thinking of a blog post from our friends who gave us the courgettes and the link to a recipe for something called “zucchini boats”.  You can read it here.

stuffed courgettes5

So it turns out that I made something totally new and delicious that I didn’t have to shop for, never really planned, and I will definitely be making again!

Ingredients

2½ large courgettes

1 pack (183g) halloumi, diced

6 medium tomatoes, diced

half a pack (125g) smoked salmon trimmings

a few handfuls of grated Emmental cheese

Method

Put on a large pan of water to boil.  Wipe clean two of the courgettes, slice in half lengthways and remove the seeds.  (I scooped them out with a melon baller.)

Put the oven on to heat up to 200°C / 180° fan.

Drop the courgette halves carefully into the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Remove and drain.

Dice the remaining half of a large courgette (or a smaller one) and put into a large bowl.  Add the diced tomatoes and halloumi.  Season with salt and pepper, mix together well and stir through the smoked salmon trimmings.  I also added a pinch of the little pack of herbs and spices that came with the cheese.

Arrange the courgette halves in a suitable ovenproof dish.  Pile the stuffing ingredients into them and sprinkle over the Emmental.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until the topping is nicely browned and bubbling.

Serve with a green salad.  Serves two.  Gluten free.

August 23, 2015

BLUEBERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE MINI MUFFINS

blueberry and white chocolate mini muffins2

I am quite a fan of mini muffins.  They are barely more than a single mouthful in size and consequently as a treat they are far less daunting a prospect than regular muffins.  I sometimes find that just one regular muffin is quite filling, and could never eat more than one, whereas mini muffins are so easy to eat that one is never enough – and I don’t feel at all greedy in eating a second or even a third.

blueberry and white chocolate mini muffins3

I made these soon after our return to France for what was going to be quite a long stay.  I knew I would be leaving our UK kitchen for several weeks so I had a quick look around for anything that would soon need using up and that I could take with me.  Among the various bits and bobs I found a packet of white chocolate chips in the cupboard and half a pack of fresh blueberries in the fridge.

blueberry and white chocolate mini muffins

I used my old faithful recipe which I have used before and in no time at all rustled up just one tray of mini muffins.  Most muffins have to be eaten on the same day as baking but these mini versions kept well for three days in a cake tin.  Which means I had three days to eat the lot as Nick is not all that keen on muffins……!!

We_Should_Cocoa_Logo

This month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge, organised by Choclette of Tin and Thyme is “anything goes”.

Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary

The No Waste Food Challenge is a monthly event of Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary which celebrates the using up of all food rather than throwing it out.

Ingredients

150 g plain flour

50g caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

1 egg, beaten

50g butter, melted and cooled

100 ml milk

75 g blueberries

75 g white chocolate chips

Method

Preheat the oven to 200º C (180º fan) and butter a 24 hole mini muffin tin.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.

Add the butter, egg and milk and mix together quickly.  Add the fruit and chocolate and mix in as briefly as possible, avoiding over-mixing, as long as there are no dry bits of flour.

Divide the mixture between the muffin holes.  (I use a mini ice cream scoop to get the amounts reasonable even.)  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes until risen and golden.

Cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.

Makes 24.

August 21, 2015

LEMON TIRAMISU

lemon tiramisu

First tweak of my tiramisu recipe.

I spotted a recipe for lemon tiramisu in a blog and decided it was such a delicious sounding idea that I just had to make one.  Instead of making that particular recipe I experimented by adapting my usual tiramisu recipe, which I got from a friend about thirty years ago.  She got it from a German magazine when she was living there.

It makes a tiramisu that is more like a trifle than a cake.  In other words you serve it by the spoonful into bowls rather than by the slice on a plate, which is the kind of tiramisu I prefer. 

lemon tiramisu3

Second tweak of my tiramisu recipe, my favourite version, served in a lasagne dish which is not as pretty as the big bowl but probably more suitable for people to serve themselves.

I made the second one to take to a friend’s lunchtime BBQ party, having tweaked the recipe slightly again.  It was placed on the table with all the other desserts and looked nice.  I sampled a small spoonful and thought it tasted lovely.  When I went back for a second helping there was hardly any left and another guest who was poised over it said “you should get the last of this while you can, it’s delicious”.  I thanked him for his praise and he said it was a pity I hadn’t made two!

lemon tiramisu4

So now I’m writing down the recipe with the scribbled changes to my friend’s original, while I can still remember where I put the scrap of paper I wrote them on and interpret my own writing!  As always, it’s even better if you make it the day before you want to eat it, chilling it in the fridge overnight so that it becomes slightly firmer.

alphabakes

This month’s Alphabakes Challenge, organised by Caroline of Caroline Makes and Ros of The more than occasional baker, is the letter “Z”, and this tiramisu has quite a lot of lemon zest in it.

simplyeggcellent_logo1

This month’s Simply Eggcellent Challenge, created by Dom of Bellau Kitchen, is “anything goes”, as long as it has eggs in it, which this lemon tiramisu certainly does!

Ingredients

For the syrup

The juice of two lemons

The finely grated zest of one lemon

2 tblsp caster sugar

4 tblsp Limoncello

For the cheese filling

1 pack (175g) boudoir biscuits + possibly a few extra from another pack, depending on the size and shape of your dish

4 egg yolks

3 egg whites

3 heaped tblsp caster sugar

350g mascarpone cheese

the coarsely grated zest of one lemon for decoration

Method

Begin by zesting and juicing the lemons.  I used a lemon zester to get the ribbon-like strips for decoration and a fine grater to get the finely grated rind for the syrup.

For the syrup, mix together the lemon juice, Limoncello, fine zest and 2 tblsp caster sugar in a small bowl – but one big enough to dip in your boudoir biscuits.  Set aside.

Next, separate the eggs, putting 4 yolks in a large bowl with the 3 tblsp caster sugar.  Put 3 of the whites into a medium bowl.

Whip the egg yolks and sugar together using an electric whisk, until pale and thick.  Beat in the mascarpone cheese until smooth.

Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold into the cheese mixture.

To assemble the tiramisu, dip the boudoir biscuits one at a time into the syrup and create a single layer in the bottom of your dish.  Add half the cheese mixture.

Repeat using the rest of the biscuits, making only a single layer on top of the cheese mixture and opening a second packet of biscuits if needed according to the shape of your dish.  Brush any remaining syrup over this layer of biscuits.

Spread the rest of the cheese mixture over the biscuits, making sure you go right to the edge of the dish, leaving no gaps. 

Chill in the fridge for at least four hours and preferably overnight.

Serve chilled and sprinkle the reserved strips of lemon rind over the dessert before serving.

Serves 8.

July 19, 2015

RUSTIC GOOSEBERRY TART

rustic gooseberry tart

We are back in the UK briefly for a funeral.  Nick’s mum’s funeral.  Two funerals in one year is more than enough.  It should have been three but we were unable to make it to his aunt’s funeral, his mother’s oldest sister who also died earlier this year. 

We came back the long way via Portsmouth to avoid Calais in case there were more shenanigans and the port and tunnel were closed again.  Normally it wouldn’t matter if we didn’t make it back home but there was no way we wanted to risk being stuck in transit for such an important event.

The funeral itself is tomorrow and it will be sad but also a relief.  It was her time, she was ninety one and life was no longer that much fun for her.  We’ll all be glad when its over.

Anyway, on arriving back after a journey that took nearly sixteen hours, I opened the fridge to find a dish of gooseberries in there.  Put there by my dad, who is eighty seven next, picked from his lady friend’s garden. 

Life, eh?  The gooseberries cheered me up no end, we love them in this house.

rustic gooseberry tart2

Then this morning I spotted a recipe for this tart on the lovely blog Tin and Thyme.  The recipe uses half ordinary flour and half spelt flour.  I felt fairly sure we had some spelt flour somewhere so went a-rummaging and sure enough there it was, at the back of the cupboard.

Nick pulled a face when I mentioned the spelt flour.  Spelt is thought to be healthy and he doesn’t really do healthy.  Not in baking anyway.  Not since his mum and dad turned vegetarian and she took to making wholemeal pastry.  It was not the best pastry, bless her.

rustic gooseberry tart3

I had just the right quantity of gooseberries for the tart and it was delicious.  Nick and my dad declared it so and I agreed.  I have seen recipes for this kind of tart many times – the folded over pastry rough and rustic kind – but never made one before.  It was a revelation and I will make it over and over again, with other fruits.  A great success.

Thanks to Choclette for the recipe.  You can see the original here.  My only adaptation was that I used slightly less butter in the pastry (125g) and milk instead of yoghurt to combine it – because that’s what I had available.

June 19, 2015

APRICOT, ORANGE, AND GINGER CAKE (with a few strawberries and cherries for good measure)

apricot, orange and ginger cake

This is another of those “forgotten recipes”, something I used to make regularly but then somehow forgot about.  For a while it was my “go to” recipe for a quick dessert or cake that always looked more difficult than it really was to make and, even more importantly, was always good to eat.

I wrote about it first here and the recipe originates from one of my favourite cook books, The Popina Book of Baking.  There it is described as a rustic plum tart but to my mind it’s nothing at all like a tart, definitely a cake. 

apricot, orange and ginger cake2

So, looking at a few oddments of fruit in the kitchen the other day I was reminded of this recipe as it’s an excellent way of using up bits and bobs of virtually any fruit.

Another good thing about it is that it requires only one egg and no butter.  You whisk up an easy batter, spoon it into a lined tin and arrange slices of fruit on top.  It looks good when it comes out of the oven but it looks even better when you have brushed it with a glaze of melted apricot jam.  It can be served warm as a dessert with cream or cold, just as you like.  Next time I’m going to try making it with gluten free flour to see how that turns out.

apricot, orange and ginger cake3

I have experimented with different fruit toppings and with flavourings, the original being plums on top and some vanilla extract in the batter.

apricot, orange and ginger cake4

I recently made an apricot version, no other flavours added except for the vanilla, but I think it would have been even better with orange zest in the cake.

apricot, orange and ginger cake5

This version, rhubarb, orange and strawberry, was one of my favourites.  I put very small pieces of rhubarb and some halved strawberries on top, omitted the vanilla and added the zest of an orange to the batter.  It was delicious.

The recipe has only let me down once and that was the time I actually made it using plums as per the original recipe.  I was in a rush, short of time and ideas and bought one of those “I should have known better” punnets of plums from the supermarket.  You know the sort, rock hard, imported from goodness knows where, almost devoid of any flavour and they go brown before they’ve ripened or softened enough to eat.  On that occasion I followed the recipe as intended but the plums were still rock hard when the cake was cooked.  I binned it and produced an apple crumble instead, I seem to remember.

It seems to make quite a small cake but cuts into eight portions.  Leftovers keep well in an airtight tin for a few days.

Love Cake logo

The Love Cake June Challenge is Midsummer Madness, organised by Ness at Jibber Jabber UK.  You can see the details here.

Ingredients

90g caster sugar

1 egg

40ml groundnut or vegetable oil

55ml milk

140g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

zest of one orange

1 tsp ground ginger

3  apricots

a handful of strawberries and a few cherries

2tblsp apricot jam to glaze

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan), gas mk 4.  Grease and line a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin, preferably springform.

Using an electric whisk, beat the egg and sugar until light and creamy.  Add the all the other ingredients except the fruit and jam and beat again until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.

Wash the fruit, cut the apricots and cherries in half and remove the stones, halve the strawberries.   Arrange the fruit on top of the cake mixture.

Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown, remove and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out and remove the baking paper.

To glaze the cake, put the jam in a small pan and heat gently until runny.  Brush the glaze over the top of the cake (and the sides if you like).  Cool slightly more before serving or allow to go cold.

Serve warm or cold, with cream as a dessert or by itself as a cake.

Cuts into eight slices.

June 13, 2015

CARAMELISED SHALLOT AND GOATS CHEESE TARTS (gluten free)

caramelised onion and goats cheese tartlets

I saw these little tarts in the first episode of Mary Berry’s latest TV series and couldn’t wait to have a try at them, but using gluten free flour.  We were due to attend a picnic party where I had offered to bring a contribution to the main course and it needed to be gluten free so these seemed ideal.  I hadn’t tried making gluten free pastry before but had had good success using Doves Farm flours in cakes.  I had however been warned that the pastry could be a challenge to roll out!

caramelised onion and goats cheese tartlets2

I made a few changes to Mary’s recipe – you can see the original on the BBC Food website here.  The soft goats cheese available in the French supermarket did not look like the product used in the TV programme but it worked well. 

I didn’t buy any parsley but used some fresh thyme from our garden.  I also didn’t roll the walnut pieces into the pastry but simply sprinkled them into the base of the tarts before adding the rest of the filling.

Otherwise I pretty much stuck to the recipe!

caramelised onion and goats cheese tartlets3

I was impressed by the use of Yorkshire pudding tins to make the little tarts – it seemed like a great idea.  In the TV programme they seemed to turn out easily – much easier than fiddling about with the fluted loose bottomed type of tin I usually wrestle with.  Mary also said that as the pastry is rolled out quite thin you don’t need to blind bake it, or grease the tins! Marvellous!

I looked at my own rather old, scratched and battered tins and decided to invest in a couple of new ones!  I went for a decent quality tin at £6 each, rather than the cheap ones on offer in the local factory shop.  I’ve learned from experience that cheap tins are thin, warp in the oven and the non-stick coating doesn’t last for long - and often isn’t any good from the start.  You get what you pay for in baking tins I think.

The pastry turned out rather well.  It was fragile and crumbly and I think I would have struggled to roll it out into a bigger circle but for these little tarts it was fine.   They slid out of the tins easily, were very tasty, just the right size for a single serving I will definitely be making them again. 

simplyeggcellent_logo1

This month’s Simply Eggcellent challenge at Bellau Kitchen is “anything goes”.  The challenge is a monthly event organised by the lovely Dom and you can see the details here.

Ingredients

For the pastry

175 gluten free plain flour

100g cold butter, cubed

1 egg, beaten

1 tblsp water

For the filling

30g chopped walnuts

1 tblsp olive oil

500g banana shallots

2 tblsp balsamic vinegar

1 tblsp light muscovado sugar

300g soft goats cheese

2 eggs, beaten

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves nipped off the stalks

Method

Make the pastry by blitzing the flour and butter in a food processor.  Add the beaten egg and water and blitz again until the pastry comes together.

Roll out the pastry fairly thinly and cut into 8 circles to fit the holes in the Yorkshire pudding tins.  Line the tins and put in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.

Peel and thinly slice the shallots.  Heat the oil in a large lidded frying pan.  Add the shallots and cook on high heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes until the shallots are soft.  Add the vinegar and sugar, cover and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are dark and caramelised.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.  Put two baking sheets on the oven shelves to heat up – this cooks the base of the pastry without the need for baking blind.

Prick the base of the tarts all over with a fork and sprinkle over the walnut pieces, shared evenly between them.

In a medium bowl, mix together the goats cheese, eggs and the thyme leaves.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mix together until smooth and well combined.

Spoon the shallot mixture equally into the tarts and spread out over the bases.  Spoon the cheese mixture over the top and level with the back of a spoon so that there are no gaps.

Put the tins on top of the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and the filling is just set and golden brown.

Serve warm or cold.

Makes 8 servings.

June 9, 2015

STRAWBERRY AND ORANGE FRIANDS

strawberry and orange friands

This is one of those recipes that I had forgotten about.  I went through a phase of making friands (or financiers, they’re really the same thing) regularly until a couple of years ago then for some reason forgot all about them.  Which is a pity because they’re dead easy to make, take hardly any time from mixing bowl to serving dish, are very versatile and perfectly delicious.

They’re a kind of frangipane style of little bun, made traditionally in the oval mould for friands or oblong moulds for financiers.  They also work perfectly well made in a muffin tin, as long as you don’t overfill the holes so that they remain fairly shallow.

strawberry and orange friands2

I was looking at a few slightly tired strawberries in the fridge and a lonely orange in the fruit bowl and thinking about what I could do with them so as not to waste them and friands sprung to mind.  Very odd.

They’re a nice little mouthful or two – much like a modest slice of cake and less filling than a muffin – and they always go down well with visitors.  That might be because many people have never heard of them before and they’re curious to try them.  Once tasted, few people can resist the combination of almonds and fruit.

Of course, having used up the strawberries and the orange I was then left with three unused egg yolks so now I have to think of a way not to waste them!  Oh well, there’s always Lulu – she has cheesy egg most days for her breakfast!

strawberry and orange friands3

alphabakes

This month’s Alphabakes Challenge, organised by Ros, of The more than occasional baker, and Caroline, of Caroline Makes, is the letter “O”.  You can see the details here.

teatime treats

This month’s Tea Time Treats Challenge, run by Karen of Lavender and Lovage, is “small cakes”.  You can see those details here.

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter

125g icing sugar

25g plain flour

85g ground almonds

3 medium egg whites

grated rind of one orange

4-5 strawberries, thickly sliced

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan.  Butter an 8-hole friand or financier tin, or a muffin tin.

Melt the butter in a small pan and set aside to cool.

Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl.  Stir in the ground almonds.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until you have a light, floppy foam.

Make a well in the flour mixture.  Add the egg whites, orange rind and melted butter and mix gently until well combined.

Divide evenly between the holes of the prepared tin or mould.  Drop a pair of strawberry slices on top of each one.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown and firm to the touch.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Makes 8 friands.