August Recipe – Ratatouille in Tomato Pancakes

Pancake batter:

125g. / 4 1/2 ozs. plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
300mls. / 10fl ozs. milk (full fat is best)
a little olive oil for frying
2 tbsps. tomato puree
2 tbsps. water
1 tsp. dried basil

Ratatouille:

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 aubergine, diced
2 courgettes, sliced or diced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. tomato puree
2 tbsps. red wine
pinch of caster sugar
salt and pepper
2 tbsps. chopped basil
4 tbsps. grated Parmesan

Method:

  1. To make the pancake batter sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the egg and gradually work in the milk and beat to form a smooth batter.  Whisk in the tomato puree, 2 tbsps water and the dried basil. Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  2. To make the pancakes, heat a little oil in a good non-stick crepe or omelette pan. Add a ladle of batter and swirl to coat the base.  Cook for 1 – 2 minutes until golden and then flip or turn over and cook the other side.  Slide on to a plate and keep warm whilst cooking the remaining pancakes, oiling the pan between each one.
  3. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, red and green peppers, aubergine and courgettes.  Fry stirring for 5 – 10 minutes until they begin to soften, then add tomatoes, tomato puree, wine, sugar, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, then stir in the chopped basil.
  4. Use the ratatouille to fill the pancakes. Roll up and serve straight away, dusted with Parmesan.  Or, prepare the pancakes in advance, roll them up and place in a baking dish, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and reheat in a medium hot oven. .

Tips:

I don’t bother to let my pancake batter stand and it is still fine.  Do make sure you use a good non-stick pan, that is essential.  You can make the pancakes the day before and store in the fridge.  i put a sheet of kitchen paper between each one.  They also freeze really well but I wouldn’t try and freeze the ratatouille mixture, there is too much water in courgettes and aubergines for them to freeze well.

July Recipes – Courgettes

As courgettes are so readily available this month here are two recipes.

PUREE OF GRILLED COURGETTES WITH GOAT’S CHEESE AND HAZELNUTS

This recipe is for a starter but it would make a light lunch.

675g/ 1½ lbs similar sized courgettes
a little olive oil
40g / 1½ oz butter
¼ nutmeg, grated
75g / 3oz goat’s cheese log
40g / 1½ oz chopped hazelnuts
salt and pepper

Top and tail the courgettes, cut them in half lengthways and smear oil all over.  Heat the grill high and grill the courgettes on both sides until blackened in places.  Then put them in a food processor with the butter, grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper.  Whizz until smooth and scrape into a gratin dish.

Crumble the goat’s cheese into small pieces and sprinkle over the puree.  Scatter on the hazelnuts, drizzle over a little oil and put under a hot grill until the cheese is bubbling.  The dish can be kept warm in a low oven for up to half an hour.

Tips – Grilling the courgettes instead of steaming them dries them out a bit and also adds a pleasant smoky taste.  Serve with crusty bread.


FLORA’S FAMOUS COURGETTE CAKE

For the cake:

60g / 2 oz raisins, optional
250g / 9 oz courgettes (2 – 3) weighed before grating
2 large eggs
125ml   / 4½ fl oz vegetable oil
150g / 5½ oz  caster sugar
225g / 8 oz self raising flour
½ tsp. bicarb of soda and ½ tsp. baking powder

For the icing:

200g / 8 oz  cream cheese
100g / 4 oz  icing sugar, sieved
juice of 1 lime or more to taste
2 – 3 tbsps. chopped pistachio nuts

For the filling:

Lime or lemon curd

Preheat oven to 180C / gas mark 4.  Line 2 x 21cm / 9 inch sandwich tins and grease.

If you are using raisins put them in a bowl and cover with warm water to plump up.  Wipe the courgettes with a kitchen towel and grate.  The coarse side of a box grater is best.  Put them in a sieve over the sink to remove excess water.

Put the eggs, oil and sugar in a bowl and beat until creamy.  Sieve in the flour, bicarb and baking powder and beat until combined.  Stir in the courgettes and add the drained raisins.  Pour into the tins and bake for 30 minutes.  Leave in their tins for 5 – 10 minutes then turn out and cool on a rack.

If you cannot buy lime curd a good lemon will do with a little freshly squeezed lime juice added.  Beat the cream cheese until smooth, add the icing sugar and beat and stir in the lime juice to taste.  Put one cake on a plate and spread with the lime or lemon curd.  Put the other cake on top and smear thickly with the cream cheese icing.  If you feel the icing needs firming up put in the fridge for a while.

Just before serving scatter over the pistachios.  Serves 8.   


June Recipe – Blackcurrant Plate Pie

Pastry:

225g. Self-raising flour
100g. cold butter, cubed
2 tbsps. caster sugar
2 – 3 tbsps. very cold water

Filling:  

300g. blackcurrants
125 – 150g. caster sugar
Cornflour and semolina (see notes)

Egg white to glaze

Method

Make the pastry by rubbing the cold butter into the flour with your fingertips (or use the food processor).  Add the water gradually (you might need an extra tablespoon).  Bring the pastry together and cut into 2 halves.  Roll one half out and place on the pie plate (see notes).

Mix the blackcurrants with a couple of tablespoons of sieved cornflour.  Sprinkle the base with semolina and top with the blackcurrants.  Do not go right up to the edge.  Paint the edge with either egg white or yolk to seal and place the other rolled out pastry half on top.  Seal by pressing the edges together.  Cut a slit in the top to allow the steam to escape.  Paint the egg white on the pastry and I sprinkle a little more caster sugar over.  Bake at 180 for 25 minutes.  Serve warm or cold with cream or ice cream.

Tips

I use my Mother’s pyrex plate to cook this on.  It measures 9 inches or 23 cms.  I believe you can easily buy enamel pie plates from most kitchen shops or  I think Wellworthit.  I have 3 pyrex plates which belonged to my late Mother.

The recipe uses self raising flour and it works so keep to that.  I haven’t rested the pastry when I have made it and it has rolled out easily and successfully.  I have had a small amount leftover, enough to make about 4 jam tarts!  I haven’t stored my pie in the fridge as I think this tends to make the pastry go soggy but it has kept well for about 4 days out of the fridge, even in the hot weather.

The cornflour absorbs some of the juice the blackcurrants leach out.  My Mother was taught the semolina trick by a Scottish friend and it helps prevent soggy bottoms and keeps the pastry crisp. 

You could use this recipe for other fruit, some of which e.g. apples you would have to slightly cook first I think.  I have used frozen blackcurrants (defrosted) as I had a lot in my freezer, donated by a kind neighbour. 

May Recipe – Bangin’ Beetroot Burger

Makes 4 large or 6 smaller burgers

400g. tin of kidney beans drained and rinsed
6 chestnut mushrooms
2 raw beetroot, peeled and grated
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 red onion, roughly chopped
50g. / 2ozs. smoked cheese, grated
1/2 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
1 tsp. gd. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
4 tbsps. olive oil
150g. breadcrumbs

To serve:

burger buns
lettuce leaves
fresh tomato and tomato relish
toasted pine nuts

Place the drained kidney beans in a saucepan and cover with water.  Boil for 8 minutes before draining and cooling them and then tip into a food processor.

Add the mushrooms, beetroot, carrot, red onion, smoked cheese, parsley, cumin and paprika.  Blitz until everything is well mixed, a few chunks here and there is fine.

Pour a tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan and when the oil is hot tip the mixture into the pan and fry it for about 10 minutes on a medium heat.  By this time the mixture will be releasing quite a bit of liquid.  Tip this away and put the mixture in a bowl.

When it has cooled tip in the breadcrumbs and mix it all together – your hands are best for this.    It should all clump together.  Divide the mixture into the number of burgers you require  and form patties using your hands.  Shape isn’t important but an even thickness is.  Place on baking parchment and a plate and firm up, uncovered, in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Heat a griddle pan or frying pan, remove burgers from the fridge and brush lightly on both sides with oil.  Carefully place in the pan and cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side.

Toast the burger buns in the same pan and construct your burgers using lettuce, tomato, relish, pine nuts and extra smoked cheese if required.

If you possess a food processor you will be able to grate your vegetables in this as well as process the mixture, but if you do not you will have to use a box grater and a potato masher.  Make sure if you are not using a processor that you chop the onion finely.  Obviously it is up to you what you choose to serve with the burger, the recipe is making suggestions.  Enjoy…

April Recipe – Ginger Simnel Cake with Spring Flowers

I made this rather different Simnel Cake one Easter when our friends were coming to stay and it was voted a big hit with all concerned.  I just hope that with the present odd shopping situation, you will be able to buy all the necessary ingredients.  I won’t be making one this year as we have so much Christmas cake left.  My husband has been on a very strange diet – low fibre – and unable to eat dried fruit.  I make my Christmas cake for him, so there is a lot left!

Slightly different this month as the recipe is on the BBC’s “Good Food” website – use the link below to get to it:

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/ginger-simnel-cake-spring-flowers

Ginger Simnel Cake with Spring Flowers

Wishing you all a happy Easter, although I realise it will be far from normal.

March Recipe – Baked Rigatoni with Sausage, Broccoli and Ricotta

This will give you a chance to use whatever your choice of sausages may be, but a spicy one would be best.  We have a good choice from our local butchers, who all make their own.  I would serve this with a side salad, and if you have some folk with hearty appetites, then garlic bread is also good.  As I say at the start of the recipe, it is easy to halve the ingredients.

I hope you enjoy it.

Serves 8 (can be halved)

1 tbsp. oil, 800g. sausage ( casings removed and meat broken into small chunks), 200g. bacon (cut into small pieces),  1 large onion, finely chopped, 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, 2 tsps. fennel seeds (bashed in a pestle and mortar), 1 tsp. chilli flakes, 300ml. red wine, 1 x 400g. tin chopped tomatoes, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 2 bay leaves, pinch of sugar (optional), butter for greasing, 900g. ricotta, drained, 125g. cheddar grated, 400g. rigatoni, 400g. purple sprouting broccoli, 250g. mozzarella, drained and torn.

 

  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and brown the sausage meat and bacon in batches. Remove the meat and add the onion to the pan and fry until soft, then add the garlic, fennel seeds and chilli and cook for 2 more minutes.
  2. Add the wine, tip in the tomatoes and add the oregano and bay leaves. Put the meat back into the pan, season with salt and pepper and bring to just under the boil.  Turn the heat down and cook over a very low heat for 45 minutes.
  3. Halfway through the cooking time remove the lid and leave it off so the cooking juices reduce. Preheat the oven to 180C / fan 170C / gas mark 4 and grease a 30 x 20cm. dish with butter.  Mix the ricotta with 100g. of the cheddar and season.
  4. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the rigatoni until it has softened but not gone all the way to al dente. Drain , reserving some of the cooking water and stir the pasta into the sausage ragu.  Add some of the cooking water if the mixture looks dry.
  5. Steam or microwave the broccoli until tender. Layer the components in the dish, starting with a layer of pasta, then ricotta, then half the mozzarella, then the broccoli.  Add another layer of pasta, the rest of the ricotta and mozzarella.  Sprinkle remaining cheddar on top and bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.