Spaghetti with courgettes

This year has been a bit slow for growing vegetables, the lack of sun has not helped at all. I have now got a lot of carrots, some broad beans, we’ve had a couple of crops of mange tout peas as well. I headed up to Tagsa Community Gardens to get some chard to cook with the beans, and ended up coming away with a couple of delicious courgettes. 

I made this recipe from ‘Dear Francesca‘, a book of Italian recipes, along with stories of the family that runs Valvona and Crolla. They used double these quantities; this made a good meal for the two of us. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 courgettes
  • 3 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 180g spaghetti or similar pasta
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil, and then cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the courgettes.
  • Clean the courgettes, trip off the top and tail, and grate with a coarse grater
  • Warm the olive oil, and add the garlic, fry it gently until it just starts to colour brown, and then add  the courgettes. Turn the heat up a little and stir, cooking until the courgettes are beginning to brown a little at the edges. Add the rosemary and season with salt, and then cover, and turn the heat off. 
  • Drain the cooked pasta, and add to the frying pan with the courgettes, toss and mix everything together, and serve with black pepper. 

Carrots, goat’s cheese, thyme, sundried tomatoes and pasta

I started with this recipe from Rose Elliot’s ‘Pasta Pasta’, aiming to work out the proportions per person, allowing me to cook for one person or six. I am planning on trying a squeeze of lemon juice next time, or some pine nuts. Not sure.

INGREDIENTS per person:

  • 100g farfalle pasta
  • 50g grated carrot
  • 50g chopped sundried tomatoes
  • a sprig of thyme
  • 50g grated hard goat’s cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • A drizzle of good olive oil

METHOD:

  • Put on a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Prepare the carrots, tomatoes and cheese while the water heats
  • Boil the pasta for around 8 minutes. For the last minute of cooking, add the grated carrot. Stir and drain, and return to the pan
  • Add the olive oil, thyme, grated cheese and sundried tomatoes, season and stir to mix. 

 

Spaghettini with mangetout, herbs, garlic and butter

This is a quick recipe involving some of the new peas and young herbs from the garden. It was quick and delicious. I had some spaghettini, which is like spaghetti but thinner and faster to cook, you could use spaghetti which is thicker, or capellini which is finer. I was cooking for myself only, so I scaled the recipe appropriately. You can scale it up as required.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Around 75g mangetout
  • around 75g pasta
  • around 20g butter
  • 4 tbsp chopped herbs, a mixture of parsley, basil and chives, or chive flowers
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan to taste

METHOD:

  • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
  • Meanwhile prepare the peas; remove any stringy bits and cut to your preferred size, and put into a steamer, ready to cook. 
  • Mix the crushed garlic, a grate of salt, butter and herbs together in a small warm bowl. 
  • Put the spaghettini in the sauce pan, put the peas over the top in the steamer, and cook until the spaghettini is just about cooked. Drain the pasta when it is ready, and return to the hot pan. 
  • Mix the butter and herbs into the pasta, then mix in the peas
  • Serve with a dredging of grated parmesan and black pepper to taste. 

Chorizo, parsley, peas, rice

I’m working my way through a large supply of cooking chorizo. For some reason, I bought in bulk a while back and now I am trying to find good recipes. Tonight, something quick, with the celery sticks in the bottom of the fridge, plus the spring onions, mange tout peas and parsley from the garden, and a handful of paella rice. 

I took inspiration from Nigel Slater’s book, The Kitchen Diaries, but I had to work out the quantities myself. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 120g chorizo, cut into 1cm chunks
  • 6 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • Around 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Around 150g paella rice
  • 500ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • around 50g chopped parsley
  • 2 portions of mange tout peas
  • Black pepper

METHOD:

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan, and fry the onion, celery and chorizo until the onion and celery is beginning to brown, and the oil is orange with the spices from the chorizo
  • Add the paella rice, and stir and cook it into the fried mixture to pick up the flavours
  • Add the stock, bring to a simmer, stir and cook until the rice is tender, around 15 minutes. Add the peas and parsley around three minutes before the end. 
  • Season with black pepper, and serve. 

I came back and ate the leftovers. It was really tasty. 

Mushroom and pea curry

The pea season is coming. The mange tout are already ready, and some of the peas are podding up nicely. I did a massive pick-through of the peas at Tagsa Horticulture, and made this curry based on one in ‘Curry Easy’ by Madhur Jaffrey

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped finely
  • half a can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 punnets of chestnut mushrooms, around 400 to 500g, chopped into chunks.
  • 300g peas, could be frozen, or mange tout, freshly picked and halved

METHOD:

  • Combine the dry spices in a bowl and add around 1 1/2 tbsp water to make a paste
  • Pour the oil into a medium pan, and heat to medium hot. Add the onion and start to stir and fry, until the onion is becoming a little browned at the edges. 
  • Add the spice paste, cook for a minute and then add the tomato, mixing and stirring. 
  • After about five minutes, when the tomato is hot and beginning to cook down, add 450ml boiling water and the salt. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes
  • Add the chunks of mushroom, bring back to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. 
  • Add the peas, bring back to a simmer and cook for a further 5 minutes. 

This was best served warm, rather than hot, with a flat bread such as a nan. 

Paella – pork, chorizo and spinach

Somewhere along the line, I ordered some chorizo for cooking with, in a huge pack, and then froze it. This weekend, I started trying out recipes that use chorizo. I bought the pork loin from MacLean’s shop in Benbecula, and the spices are mostly purchased online from Seasoned Pioneers. I got the recipe from the Moro cookbook. Most of the other ingredients I found in the co-op. Irritatingly, you can only buy peppers in packs of three in the co-op, so I went to MacLennan’s for the green peppers. The recipe took about 45 minutes to make. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 7 or more tablespoons of olive oil
  • 350g pork fillet or loin, cut into 7mm strips
  • 120g cooking chorizo, cut into little pieces
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g paella rice
  • 2 ñora peppers, or a good pinch of sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 900ml hot chicken stock
  • 500g spinach 
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • In a large flat pan, such as a paella pan or a very large frying pan, heat the olive oil on a high heat, and then quickly fry and stir the pork strips so that they are just about cooked, it doesn’t take long. Remove the pork from the pan with a slotted spoon. season with salt and pepper and set aside. 
  • In the same pan, put in the chopped chorizo, stir and add the onion, stir and add the green pepper. Turn the heat down to medium. Make sure you aren’t stingy with the oil. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring to make sure that all of the onion caramelises. 
  • Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so. 
  • Add the rice, and stir so everything is evenly mixed.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and add the paprika. If you are using ñora peppers, these should be torn up, seeds and stalks discarded, and soaked in hot water first so that they are soft. Add the hot chicken stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and is just about cooked through. 
  • About 5 minutes before the end of the cooking period, put all of the washed spinach in a very large pan, turn up the heat and cook until it is all wilted down. 
  • When the rice is cooked, add the pork and spinach and push it into the paella, so that the oil soaks in. Cover with a lid and let everything settle for around 5 minutes. 
  • Serve with lemon wedges. The lemon is absolutely essential for bringing out the best flavour. It needs a lovely fresh salad as well, for example a green salad or a tomato salad. So delicious. 

Cumberland Sauce

I made this to go with some delicious loin of venison given to us by a friend. I cooked the venison hot and fast, so that it was tender and medium-rare, and served it with mashed potato mixed with fried spring onions, spinach and tender-stem broccoli. This is a traditional sauce, which sounds unlikely, but works really well with venison, hot or cold. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 4 large tbsp recurrent jelly, or a mixture of red-current and rowanberry jelly
  • 4 tbsp port
  • 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp cornflour

METHOD:

  • Pare the lemon and orange with a potato peeler, and simmer in hot water for 3 minutes or so, and drain. 
  • In a small pan, melt the jelly into the port, and then whisk in the mustard, the juice of the orange, and the juice of half the lemon, then add the ginger and the rind. Add the cornflour and simmer for ten minutes. 
  • We left the sauce to reach room temperature, and strained it before serving with the meat. 

Nargesi – spinach and eggs – Persian style

A delicious recipe from Maryam Sinaiee’s book Nightingales and Roses. If you have been living in Uist this last week, you’ll know that a combination of ferry break-downs and bad weather led to no food deliveries onto the islands for five days. I managed to get the last bag of spinach from the co-op, and I had duck eggs from Clair. This is just as good with hen’s eggs. 

I’ve seen a few versions online, adding leeks and za’atar. I think I have an Ottolenghi recipe with that combination. Here is Maryam’s version:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g fresh spinach
  • 50g butter
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • Extra lemon wedges

METHOD:

  • Rinse and roughly chop the spinach, and put them into a very large pan over a medium heat. Cook until the leaves have wilted. 
  • Meanwhile, in a frying pan, melt the butter and cook the sliced onions over a medium heat until they are turning golden. Add the garlic and continue to cook. 
  • When the garlic looks cooked, add the spinach and the lemon juice, along with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for a couple of minutes, then uncover and simmer until the mixture is nearly dry. 
  • Make four wells in the mixture, add an egg to each well, cover and cook for three or four minutes on a low heat, until the eggs are cooked to your taste. 

Serve with flatbread, and a squeeze of lemon. 

 

Blue cheese and spinach baked potatoes

More in the baked potato series. I learned a few more things this week. Bigger is not better, it just causes trouble with the baking. A good size potato is 300g, more is a bother. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 potatoes for baking: 600 to 700g
  • Butter
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 60+g soft blue cheese
  • 200g spinach 
  • 20g pecan or walnuts, lightly toasted
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 220C
  • Rub the potatoes with oil and salt, and bake in the oven for around one hour. 
  • When they are done, remove them from the oven, scoop out the potato flesh, and return the skins to the oven with a little butter to crisp them up. 
  • Meanwhile, mash the potato with the rest of the butter, the cheese and milk, and a good grating of pepper. Pop the mash into the microwave on high for around 1 minute to melt things together a little
  • Wilt the spinach in a pan for around 15 seconds, with a little salted water. Squeeze out the water and whisk into the mashed potato
  • Return the mash into the potato skins and pip back into the oven until ready to serve – around 10 minutes. Sprinkle the toasted nuts onto the potatoes before serving

The second time I made this, I left out the spinach, and served them with kale tops as a side dish. 

 

Baked Potato with tuna mayonnaise

This year I grew some massive potatoes, and they are great baked. I am working through a list of possible recipes. I came across one that involved making a mayonnaise with tuna as one of the base ingredients. It looked good, it contained capers, lemon juice, egg yolks and a can of drained tuna. 

Now, I haven’t bought tuna since the early 1980s. I went to look to see what was in the shops, shelves of different varieties, some in brine, and some in oil. I stopped buying it, and most other commercial catches of white fish, because of worries about fish stocks and environmental damage.

Surely, I thought, things have changed. I looked into whether the tuna fishing industry has improved its practices. Well, only just, in that tuna stocks have recovered a little. However, within the tuna-fishing industry there are problems with sustainable fishing, by-catches, and human rights. 

  • Bluefin tuna is the largest and most expensive, found in sushi as a delicacy. It is severely overfished and exploited, critically endangered as a species. 
  • Albacore tuna is most likely to be canned. Overfishing is threatening the populations in the Altantic. 
  • Skipjack tuna is smaller, and the most commonly consumed. It is overfished in most areas. 
  • Yellowfin tuna is overfished world-wide. Larger fish in breeding condition are being removed from stocks at a rate that could lead to collapse of their populations. 
  • Bigeye tuna is similar to yellowfin, and is considered to be overfished world-wide.  

The recipe looked delicious, but it is off the menu. How can you help? Read more, don’t eat tuna.

  • https://www.britannica.com/explore/savingearth/the-trouble-with-tuna
  • https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/tuna
  • https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/challenges/sustainable-fishing/