Sprout soup

This recipe is very forgiving; you can vary the stock base, the proportions of the vegetables or the herbs you use, whether or not to include chestnuts or cream. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sherry (subst wine if no sherry available)
  • 250g brussels sprouts
  • 500ml stock (increase if you are not using chestnuts)
  • pinch of dried tarragon
  • 200g chestnut puree
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp single cream

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion, and fry gently in the butter and vegetable oil, for around 5 minutes, so that it starts to soften without browning.
  • Add the sherry, bring to the boil and when the alcohol has boiled off, add the sprouts, stock, tarragon and pureed chestnuts, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for around 15 minutes. 
  • Use a soup blender and whiz until smooth. Season and add the cream, if using. 

 

Courgette and Tomato Gratin

Although the ingredients for this recipe appear simple, it requires careful cooking to get it right. If you do not cook the ingredients down properly, it can be slightly bitter and watery. Done well, it is amazing, more than the sum of its parts.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 70g butter
  • 800-900g courgettes
  • 1 tin organic chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • Wholemeal breadcrumbs

METHOD:

  • Use a peeler to peel the courgettes lengthwise. Do not peel completely, leaving a few strips of the green skin. Then slice them into thin rounds about half a centimetre thick.
  • Put the sliced courgettes in a colander and salt them, and leave them to drain for at least half an hour. Put a plate on top of them to press them down.
  • Put the chopped tomatoes, 10g of butter, chopped parsley and the garlic in a medium pan with salt and pepper and simmer very slowly to make a very thick paste.
  • In the meantime, put the sliced courgettes onto a tea-towel and mop up all the surface water, getting them as dry as possible.
  • Cook about half of the sliced courgettes in 20g of the butter. Start by gently melting the butter; do not let it colour brown. Add the courgettes and cook on a low heat until they are transparent. Repeat for the rest of the courgettes and another third of the butter. Doing them in two separate batches allows you to cook all of the courgettes properly.
  • Amalgamate the tomatoes and the courgettes, and put the mixture into an oven ready dish. Smooth down the top and strew with breadcrumbs, just a light layer. Dab a little more butter over the surface. Put the dish in the top of a hot oven (around 190C) for 25 minutes and serve very hot when the surface is a deep golden brown.

This would be a good accompaniment for pork or lamb, or served as a light meal with a baked potato .

Spicy fried potatoes

I think of these as tiny square spicy chips – they should be crispy and flavoursome. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Around 700g potatoes, diced to around 1cm cubes
  • 5 tbsp veg oil, such as rapeseed or sunflower oil
  • 1/8th tsp asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder, such as Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat, and add the asafoetida, mustard seeds and cumin seeds, and let them sizzle for a minute, so that the mustard seeds pop. 
  • Add the potatoes, stir and sprinkle in the turmeric. 
  • When the potatoes start to brown, add the coriander, cumin, chilli and salt and turn the heat up to hot. Fry for another couple of minutes so the potatoes are crispy on the outside. 

A great side-dish, or serve with a fried egg on top. 

Carrots with dill and hot green chillies

I must have first tried this recipe in the 1980s, it is hand-written in an old jotter that I used to copy out some recipes clipped from newspapers. I remember collecting recipes from the Sunday Times; they ran a series by Madhur Jaffrey about regional recipes around the Indian subcontinent. 

I have some very large carrots still to harvest this year. I grew a yellow variety that has a very firm flesh ideal for adding to stews, and for this dish. There’ll be more carrot-based dishes to come. Most spices are available in local shops. I bought some of them from Seasoned Pioneers, who retail spices online. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cm ginger root (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 hot green chillies
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 20g chopped dill leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Peel and slice the carrots, peel and finely chop the ginger
  • Heat the oil in a karhai or wok over a medium heat. When it is hot, add in sequence the cumin seeds, asafoetida, ginger and whole chillies, stirring between each addition. 
  • As the ginger begins to brown, add the sliced carrots, coriander and turmeric. Stir and fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add the dill and salt, turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook for another couple of minutes, until the carrots are cooked. 
  • Remove the carrots from the oil and drain away most of the oil. 

This is delicious as a side dish, with rice and a range of other curries. Last night I was just on my own so I had it with a little bit of nan and yoghurt.

Potato and carrot curry

We have lots of delicious potatoes, so when my daughter came over, we cooked this curry. It uses coconut milk along with spices to make a fragrant curry. We served this with a salad of grated beetroot, flavoured with toasted cumin, and dressed with lemon juice and salt. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil, or other vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow split peas
  • 2 whole dried birds-eye chillies
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes, or a couple of medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • a small pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 400g potatoes (we used charlotte) and 100g carrots (we used yellow carrots) – cut into 2cm large chunks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • Chopped coriander leaves

METHOD:

  • In a medium saucepan, heat up the oil and then add the mustard seeds, yellow split peas and chillies. After a minute or so, they’ll start popping. Add the onions and basil leaves as soon as this happens. Turn the heat down a bit and cook until the onion has softened. 
  • Add the coriander, cayenne, tomatoes and garam masala, and stir to mix. Add the potatoes and carrots along with around 250ml water and the salt, bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for 15+ minutes
  • When the potatoes are cooked, add the coconut milk and fresh coriander leaves, and heat through, stirring. 
  • Serve with other dishes, for example a salad, or dal, or a kale dish. 

Marrow, fennel and tomato stew

There is a tale in here, as to how I had a good marrow. Susannah had four ailing wee plants, she said they were squash plants, could she plant them in the open in my garden. I was a bit doubtful, I have never had much success with growing curcurbits in the open in South Uist. The plants weren’t great either. 

I planted out the best three, and one died. Now, in September, when the gales are beginning, they are flowering, and they appear to be courgette plants. I have a few tiny courgettes. I left the first one to get big, thinking it was a squash plant, and I ended up with a small marrow, weighing about 1 kilo. Marrows are just big courgettes. 

So I made this stew. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small marrow, or 1kg of large courgettes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 50ml dry sherry or dry white wine
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, or 500g of tomatoes peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp wine vinegar

METHOD:

  • Halve the marrow lengthways, and remove any seeds. Chop into chunks, arrange in a colander on a plate and salt it so that excess moisture is removed
  • Heat the olive oil over a medium heat, and add the rosemary and fennel, frying this for a couple of minutes
  • Add the onions, chilli and fennel, and gently fry for around 10 minutes
  • Add the garlic, and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Drain the water off the marrow, and add to the pan with a good grating of pepper, and cook, stirring regularly for another ten minutes. I usually read a book and stir after every couple of pages. 
  • Add the sherry or wine, and stir to mix all the juices together, and let this simmer down and reduce before adding the chopped tomatoes and wine vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook at a very low temperature for around half an hour. 
  • Adjust the seasoning, and then serve garnished with oregano and rosemary. It might need a bit of salt, and it works well to let it sit and develop. 

This can be customised. Try adding a tin of beans with the chopped tomatoes, or some capers. Some waxy potatoes, cut into cubes works well. I have reheated it with a layer of sliced potatoes on top, baked as a pie. 

Yesterday evening, I served it with a grilled pork chop, pitta bread and goat’s cheese. 

Pasta with mangetout peas, lemon and basil

This recipe is from Rose Elliot’s book, Vegetarian Pasta. The recipes are fab, the indexing is not, so I don’t use it that often. However, we are having days of scorching weather and fantastic vegetables, so I dived in to the section on quick recipes. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 400g farfalle, or similar
  • Salt
  • 350g mangetout peas
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • Juice and finely shredded rind of 1 lemon
  • Black pepper, grated
  • A handful of large basil leaves

METHOD:

  • Set a large pan of salted water on to boil, add the pasta when boiling, and give it a good swirl so the farfalle don’t stick together. Boil the pasta for around 8 minutes, or follow the guidance on the packaging. 
  • About a couple of minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the peas.
  • Strain the peas and pasta, and return to the warm pan. Add all of the other ingredients, and divide into serving bowls. 

Potato and courgettes

This is a simple dish to bake in the oven, it can be flavoured with your favourite herbs. This time I used thyme. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 2 courgettes, cut in four lengthways, and then sliced into chunks
  • 4 medium potatoes (I used Arran pilot) cleaned and cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into chunks
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped coarsely
  • 4 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp mild smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, or a handful of fresh thyme leaves
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Set the oven to 200C
  • Mix all the ingredients together and put into a roasting tin
  • Bake for one hour, stirring from time to time. 

We served this with a green salad

Duck eggs, toast and summer vegetables.

Hello all, and thank you to the person who gave us delicious fresh duck eggs. They are lovely fried in olive oil. I made this with courgettes from the Tagsa Horticulture Project. I made it without aubergines on this occasion, as there were none in the shops. It should serve around six people. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped (mix of red/white is good)
  • 2 aubergines, diced (optional)
  • 4 sweet peppers, chopped (mix of green and red)
  • 2 large courgettes, chopped
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • duck eggs, one per serving

METHOD:

It is useful to remember that you are aiming to caramelise and brown the vegetables, so the cooking is done over a medium heat, and keep a close eye, stirring to prevent things from catching, and adding around 50ml olive oil from time to time to keep things cooking well. 

  • Heat around 100ml olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, cook for around a minute and then add the onions, cooking and stirring for around ten minutes. The onions should be soft. 
  • Add the aubergines and peppers, cook for two minutes and then add the courgettes and keep cooking for another two to three minutes. Add a little more oil if necessary. 
  • Add the bay leaves, paprika and cook for another ten to fifteen minutes, stirring from time to time. Then add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook for another ten minutes, topping up the olive oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • When the dish is cooked, turn the heat off. Fry the duck eggs in hot olive oil, one by one in a small frying pan. 

Serve the vegetables on a plate with a fried egg on each portion, and with crusty bread. We had some home-made white bread, toasted. 

French mushroom omelette

This is a recipe from Elizabeth David, making the perfect quick meal this evening. I had a lot of eggs to start with. I bought some from a neighbour, and then my daughter called in with more. Then there were the reduced mushrooms in the co-op. I have quite a few recipes for eggs and mushrooms, and normally I would go and cook an omelette without a recipe. Anyway, Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking was out on the table, and this is how I interpreted her instructions to make one omelette. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Approx 60g mushrooms finely sliced
  • approx 30g butter
  • A grate of salt, black pepper and nutmeg
  • half a teaspoon of flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbs cream

METHOD:

  • In a small pan, fry the mushrooms very gently in the butter and season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg. As the mushrooms cook down, add the flour and cream and stir together. 
  • In a small bowl, beat together the three eggs. You really just need to mix the eggs, the mixture doesn’t need to be too homogenous. 
  • In a small frying pan, melt around 10g of butter. Turn the heat up high and before the butter really begins to brown, pour in the eggs. 
  • Add the mushroom mixture dotted around in the cooking eggs. Tip the pan and lift the edge of the omelette, so raw egg reaches the underneath. Keep repeating this move until the top of the omelette is about to set. Fold it in three and serve on a warm plate.