Tag Archives: picnic

Fresh To Go! Courgette Flower and Leek Quiche with Goat’s Ricotta and Parsley

30 Jun

Courgette Flower Quiche

“Where the **** have you been?” I hear you ask in my guilt ridden dreams just before morning.

So I promise myself over and over again that today will be the day that I actually blog some of the recipes that I have been developing, cooking and selling (Yes actually selling) over the past few months. But then life takes over again and I run out of time.

Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been seven weeks since my last blog. Seven weeks! It feels terrible just typing it.

Courgettes & Flowers

My explanation is as follows:

We have set up a small catering company called “Fresh To Go” supplying naturally delicious & healthy prepared foods, in our local area. It is for people who really want to eat healthily but don’t have the time, skills or inclination to cook for themselves every day.

We send out a newsletter every Friday detailing the dishes (with photographs obviously) on the following week’s menu. It is just an extension of this blog really. I go to the farmer’s market in Coin on Sunday and look at which natural fruit and vegetables are in season and looking gorgeous and create recipes using them. The only difference being is that now we make food for other people too. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

And it is, sort of. The thing is that it doesn’t leave much time for blogging, so I apologise for neglecting you and hope that this beautiful little quiche, made with the best of this season’s produce, will go someway towards making it up to you.

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Courgette Flower Quiche

Courgette, Leek & Courgette Flower Quiche with Goat’s Ricotta & Parsley

Makes 1 large or 3-4 small quiches, vegetarian

For the pastry crust:

  • 150 g wholemeal spelt (or normal) flour
  • 50 g oats
  • 50 g walnuts, blended to a course powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 80-100 ml cold water
  • 1 egg white for glazing (save yolk for filling)

Mix together the flour, oats, walnuts, salt, pepper & thyme in a large bowl with a fork. Then add the olive oil and, using the fork, mix it into the dry ingredients, mashing it together so it is evenly distributed and resembles crumble.

Then slowly drizzle in the water (you may not need all of it) mixing it with the fork until it starts coming together. Using your hands bring it together into a ball and knead gently just until it holds, don’t overwork it. It will be slightly crumbly.

Preheat oven to 200C. Oil and flour a 9 or 10 inch tart tin/dish or 3 or 4, 4-5  inch tart cases and line the base with a circle of baking paper.Flour you work surface  and rolling-pin and roll out your pastry to a flat disc about 3-4 mm thick and big enough to line your tart case(s).

Using your fingertips and heel of your hand press it into and up the sides of the tin. A flat-bottomed mug can be quite useful too. When you have the base reasonably even, trim off any bits hanging over the edge and use them to fill any holes. Put in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to firm up.

Place a sheet of  baking paper in the tin, fill with baking beans and bake for 8-10 mins. Remove from the oven, brush the base with the egg white and put back in for two minutes – this should stop it getting a soggy base. Leave to cool while you make the filling.

For the filling:

  • 1 courgette, thinly sliced on the slight diagonal
  • 1 leek, trimmed, halved lengthways, rinsed & sliced
  • 1 green spring garlic (or clove), trimmed and sliced
  • 4 courgette flowers (stamens snipped out) if baby courgettes still attached slice them too
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt & black pepper
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 egg yolk (saved from above)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pot (125 ml) goat’s or Greek yoghurt
  • rice milk (or your choice of milk)
  • about 100 gr goat’s ricotta (or Greek Feta) 
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 190 C. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a pan and saute the leeks, courgettes (and baby courgettes if you have them) & spring garlic with a good pinch of salt, black pepper, thyme, chilli flakes. Stir occasionally until the courgettes are well softened. Taste for seasoning and drain for a few minutes on kitchen paper to get rid of any liquid.

Cover the pastry base with an even layer of the courgette & leeks then crumble over the ricotta/feta. In a measuring jug whisk together the egg yolk, eggs and yoghurt. Add in enough milk to take it up to about 400 ml (more if your tin is deep), season well with salt & black pepper, throw in the chopped parsley and whisk again.

Place the quiche on the middle shelf of the oven then whisk and quickly pour in the liquid up to a few mm below the edge. Slide in the tray carefully to avoid spillage and shut the oven door.

Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, check how it is cooking and add the flowers to the top when it is nearly cooked. Put back in for another 5 or so minutes until the flowers have wilted slightly and the quiche is browned and set in the middle.

Courgette Flower Quiche


My apologies again for the extended absence but cross your fingers for us that  this is a success!

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Broad Bean Bruschettas with Goat’s Ricotta and Spring Onion

11 May

Broad Bean Bruschettas with Goats Ricotta

I have been running past these broad beans with the dog and I kept meaning to go back with my camera to take some photos. I eventually remembered and got stung by a bee on my little finger when I did. I had forgotten how much that hurts. The things I do for you…

Broad Beans

I also photographed some spring onions (Spanish ones are massive in case you were wondering) and some young leeks. These three things are cheap and plentiful at the market right now as well as spring garlic shoots.

Broad Beans, Spring Onions & Leeks

So this is less of a recipe and more of a, placing of ingredients on some toasted bread, really. You can do that even if you have guests, which we did. The good thing about that is that you can get them to help with the podding. (Thanks Lindsey)

Broad Bean Bruschetta

I bought a kilo of broad beans so sharing the job was a good idea. Podding the beans is the first part then you blanche them for a few minutes in boiling water, cool them down under cold running water, then you squeeze the bright green, sweet beans out of their pale jade cases.

This may sound like a faff too far but it is hardly taxing (while sipping a cool drink under an umbrella) and it really makes all the difference to the freshness of the dish. Look at the colour of them, aren’t they pretty?

Broad Bean Bruschettas

Broad Bean Bruschettas with Goats Ricotta & Spring Onion Recipe

Serves (who knows depends how hungry you are) 4-6? Vegetarian

  • 1 kilo broad beans still in their pods
  • a handful of finely sliced spring onions
  • a handful of rinsed, finely sliced baby leeks (or small leek)
  • a handful of finely sliced spring garlic/green garlic
  • dried (or fresh) thyme leaves
  • lemon juice
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped (plus leaves for garnish)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • goats ricotta (or soft goats cheese/feta)
  • a nice baguette/ciabatta (or 2) sliced on the diagonal

Pod the beans then cook in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Plunge into cold water to stop the cooking or run under the cold tap until cold. Then squeeze the bright green beans out of their pale green cases.

Toast the baguette slices on both sides under the grill and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the sliced spring onions, leeks and green garlic. Season with salt, pepper and a little thyme. Cook for a minute or so until starting to soften, then add the broad beans, stirring to coat. Cook for a few minutes more, add a squeeze of lemon juice, the chopped parsley and check for seasoning.

Spread or crumble a layer of goats ricotta/cheese on each baguette slice, top with a spoonful of the broad beans and put on your serving plate. Continue with the rest.

To serve, top with some fresh parsley leaves, a sprinkling of sea salt and a few drops of olive oil.

Broad Bean Bruschetta with Goats RicottaI’m thinking a long, cool white wine spritzer to go with this. You may prefer a Mojito though.

I know I said I would let you know about our new business venture in this post. Well I lied. You’re gonna have to wait.

Have a lovely weekend!!

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Roasted Beetroot Tart with Goat’s Cheese, Walnuts, Oatmeal Crust

3 May

Beetroot, Goats Cheese & Walnut Tart

Sorry I’ve been neglecting you recently. It’s not that I don’t love you any more it’s just that I’ve been really busy with life and people and working on an exciting new business venture that I am desperate to tell you all about.

But not just yet…

Beetroot, Goats Cheese & Walnut Tart

First a recipe, because that is why you are here after all. You’re obsessed with food probably, like I am.

I buy beetroots from the market, then I roast them and then I decide what I am going to do with them. Roasted beetroot is a great thing to have in your fridge. You can just add it to a salad with some goat’s cheese & walnuts (classic flavour combinations) if you can’t be bothered with the whole “making the tart” thing or are pushed for time. You can puree it with some chickpeas to make this brilliantly bright magenta coloured Beetroot Hummus, or blend it with some stock into this stunning  Spiced Beetroot Soup.

Roasting Beetroot

I had pinned this recipe for a Beetroot, Goats Cheese & Walnut Tart on to my Food I Want To Make My Own board and remembered a recipe for a tomato tart with a walnut oatmeal crust that I had cut out of a magazine. You know when you want to find something and you find everything but that one thing?

Anyway, I did eventually find it in  a pile of papers in a draw. This crust is a bit like a cheesecake base if you know what I mean, the oats, wholemeal spelt flour and finely chopped walnuts are mixed with olive oil to make a base that you press into the tart case with your hands and push it up the sides.

It’s worth the hassle. You get a slightly thicker than normal, rustic, nutty, crumbly biscuity base that is perfect with the goats cheese & beetroot. And it makes a nice change.

Walnut Oatmeal Crust

Roasted Beetroot, Goats Cheese & Walnut Tart with a Walnut Oatmeal Crust

Serves 4-6 vegetarian. Adapted from Alexandra Cooks

Roasting beetroots:

  • 3 or 4 tennis ball (or smaller) size beets (you may not need it all for this recipe)
  • olive oil salt & pepper, dried or fresh thyme

Preheat oven 200C. Trim the beets, leaving the root and about 2 inches of stalk still attached, if possible, then wash them gently to get rid of any mud. Dry them and put them on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Roast for 45-50 minutes (depending on size) until tender all the way through.

Leave until cool enough to handle and, using gloves, cut off the roots and stalks then rub off the skins with a small knife. They should come off easily. Remember, beetroot stains, so be careful.

For the pastry crust:

  • 135 g wholemeal spelt (or normal) flour
  • 65 g oats
  • 50 g walnuts, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • up to 120 ml cold water

Mix together the flour, oats, walnuts, salt, pepper & thyme in a large bowl with a fork. Then add the olive oil and, using a fork, mix it into the dry ingredients, mashing it together so it is evenly distributed and resembles crumble.

Then slowly drizzle in the water (you may not need all of it) mixing it with the fork until it starts coming together. Using your hands bring it together into a ball and knead gently just until it holds, don’t overwork it. It will be crumbly. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, caramelise the onions…

For the filling:

  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • salt & pepper
  • thyme
  • balsamic vinegar (or balsamic syrup)
  • honey
  • a splosh of red wine or sherry
  •  a handful of walnuts, roughly chopped (40 g)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pot (125 ml) goats (or greek yoghurt)
  • rice milk/oat milk/goat milk (or you choice of milk)
  • 75 – 100 g goats cheese, crumbled
  • fresh dill or parsley to serve

Cook the sliced onions in a frying pan in a few tablespoons of olive oil over a medium high heat with the salt, pepper, thyme, a drizzle of balsamic & a squidge of honey, stirring occasionally until starting to soften, caramelise and stick to the pan, about 8 minutes. Add a splosh of wine or sherry to deglaze the pan and scrape any sticky caramelised bits off the bottom. Cook for a couple of minutes more to cook off the alcohol and reduce any liquid. Leave to cool while you prepare the pastry.

Preheat oven to 200C. Oil and flour a 9 or 10 inch tart tin/dish. Flour you work surface  and rolling-pin and roll out your pastry to a flat disc as thin as you can go. This is quite tricky because of the walnuts. I gave up and started to press the disc into the tart tin with my hands. Using your fingertips and heel of your hand press it out and up the sides of the tin any way you can! A flat-bottomed mug can be quite useful too. When you have the base reasonably even, trim off any bits hanging over the edge and use them to fill any holes.

Prick all over the base with a fork and bake the pastry case for 10-12 minutes, remove from the oven and lower the heat to 180C.

Spread the caramelised onions evenly over the base then chop 2 or 3 beets into chunky cubes. Scatter these evenly over the base too. You may not need it all. Tumble over your walnuts.

In a measuring jug whisk together the eggs, yoghurt, salt & pepper. then add enough milk to take it up to about 400 ml and whisk together again.

Have you crumbled goats cheese ready, open the oven door and slide out the tray, place the tart on the tray then pour the milk mixture evenly over the filling, top with the crumbled goats cheese and carefully push the tray back in the oven. This should stop any spillage.

Cook for 35-40 minutes until puffed and golden. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes before serving sprinkled with fresh dill or parsley and a green salad on the side. It is also lovely served at room temperature for a picnic.

Beetroot Goats Cheese Walnut Tart

All it needs is a nice glass of wine to go with it. Any suggestions?

I will tell you all about our new business venture in my next post…..

Enjoy the long weekend!

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Primavera Orzo Salad with Fresh Peas, Asparagus, Mint and Feta

22 Apr

Primavera Orzo Salad

Spring has definitely sprung. The wild flowers are wafting their sweet fragrance in the mornings where I run with the dog so my thoughts turn away from steaming hot soups and comforting stews towards lighter flavours and all things fresh and green.

Spring Flowers

I bought some fresh peas in their pods from the farmers’ market on Sunday. There is nothing more spring-like than peas, except for maybe asparagus. This recipe has both. In fact it has all my favourite spring flavours in one dish. There’s also fresh mint, dill, lemon, spring onions, spring garlic and feta. Is it singing to you yet?

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Orzo, in case you don’t know, is a rice shaped pasta. If you can’t find it (I got mine in Eroski, believe it or not, in the Moroccan section) you could use any small-ish pasta shapes or even cooked rice. The good thing about orzo is that it doesn’t go all flabby and stick together when it is cooked so it is perfect for salads.

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You toss all the ingredients and the dressing over the cooked orzo while it is still hot so all the flavours get absorbed and start to mingle. Leave it to cool to room temperature then you can store it in the fridge. The feta and fresh herbs are best stirred through just before serving. This is an ideal lunch that would be easy to take to work or for a weekend picnic.

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Primavera Orzo Salad with Fresh Peas, Asparagus, Mint & Feta Recipe

Serves 3, vegetarian.

  • 300 g uncooked orzo (or other pasta shapes)
  • 2 or 3 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 1 baby leek (or more spring onion), finely chopped
  • 1 spring garlic/green garlic/ajete, finely chopped
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 100 gr shelled fresh peas (or frozen)
  • a handful of fresh chopped dill
  • 12 fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 100 g Greek feta
  • toasted pine nuts (optional)

Cook the orzo in lots of boiling salted water for about 8 minutes until al dente and drain.

Meanwhile, cook the spring onions, baby leek and spring garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat with a pinch of salt some black pepper, the thyme, oregano and chilli flakes until softened. Mix this with the drained cooked pasta in large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt & black pepper. Leave to cool.

Trim or snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces. Shell the peas. Cook the peas & asparagus in boiling salted water for 3 minutes then drain and add to the orzo, Stir everything together well.

Leave to cool to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge from this point. When ready to serve stir through the crumbled or cubed feta and the chopped herbs. Taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon juice if required.

Serve topped with some tiny mint leaves, dill fronds and toasted pine nuts, if using. I forgot to put mine on for the photos, duh…

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Say hello to spring even if it is raining where you are!

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Have a lovely week whatever the weather.

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Moroccan Spiced Squash and Feta Empanadas with Pine Nuts and Raisins

8 Feb

Squash & Feta Empanadas

Empanadas are little Spanish or Portuguese pasties depending who you speak to. Around here they are most commonly filled with a tuna, tomato and onion mixture. Legend has it that they were bought to Medieval Spain by the Moorish invaders. This is my way of interpreting that and bringing back some of the Moorish flavours.

Moroccan Squash & Feta Empanadas

Here the pastry is traditionally made with Manteca which is a kind of pig fat or lard. Not really my cup of tea but tasty I’m sure.

I used the same spelt flour olive oil pastry that I used for this Fresh Fig & Goat’s Cheese Quiche and this Italian Courgette & Basil Crostata .  It’s so good and much healthier and easier than using butter or lard. The Washer Up has, as you may have read in a previous post, become intolerant to wheat quite recently so will not be taking sandwiches to work as often as he did.

Spelt Squash & Feta Empanadas

Thankfully he has no reaction to spelt flour so these empanadas are the perfect replacement. You can change the filling to whatever you have or whatever is in season to keep it interesting but this is a lovely mix of sweet, spicy Moroccan flavours with some nice texture from the toasted pine nuts and juicy moscatel raisins. I cook them the day before and they are just as good at room temperature as they are hot. This makes them ideal for packed lunches or picnics.

Makling Empanadas

Moroccan Spiced Squash & Feta Empanadas Recipe

For the pastry:

Makes about 8 empanadas depending on the size. Vegan, Wheat-free

  • 250 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • up to 120 ml cold water

Mix together the flour, salt and herbs in a large bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and use a fork to mash it into the flour so it is evenly distributed.

Slowly add the water bit by bit (you may not need it all) and use the fork to combine it with the flour. When it starts coming together use your hands to bring it together into a ball and knead gently for a few seconds only. If it is too dry add a bit of water, too wet add a bit of flour. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge while you make the filling.

For the filling:

Makes a lot of filling. Vegetarian

  • 1 small-medium squash/pumpkin unpeeled, cut into chunky wedges
  • olive oil, salt, pepper, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground coriander

Preheat the oven to 200C and put the squash wedges on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & pepper and sprinkle over the ground spices. Toss the wedges in the oil & spices and roast until the squash is very tender. This could take 25 -50 minutes depending on the size of you squash pieces.

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • the zest of half an orange and the juice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp harissa paste or chilli flakes (optional)
  • a handful of Moscatel raisins or sultanas
  • a handful of pine nuts (toasted in a dry pan until browned)
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • about 100 g Greek feta
  • olive oil

Sweat the onion, celery and garlic in some olive oil over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes until softened. add in the turmeric, orange zest, orange juice, raisins and pine nuts and cook the liquid out.

Scrape the squash flesh out of its skin (or peel off the skin) and mash it into the pan with the onions etc. Cook this together until there is very little moisture, add the chopped fresh coriander.

Leave to cool then stir through the crumbled feta until evenly combined. Taste and season with salt & pepper to taste.

To assemble:

Roll the pastry out with a floured rolling-pin on a floured surface, turning it quarters turns as you go to stop it sticking, to a thickness of about 2-3 mm. I used a saucer to cut out most circles but I also used cutters to make smaller ones too. You will need to reroll the off cuts a few times to get the most circles out of the pastry.

Preheat oven to 190C and line a baking tray. Take a good heaped tablespoon of the mixture and put it in the bottom half of one of the pastry circles leaving about a centimetre border clear. Fold the top half of the circle over the filling, and seal the edges together with your fingers. Then use a fork to seal it again. Place on the baking tray and repeat with the rest of the circles. You may have some filling leftover, I did.

Make a few little slits in the top of each then brush the tops all over with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes depending on the size.

Spelt Squash Empanadas

Serve warm or at room temperature. The original Cornish pasties were apparently taken hot out of the oven and put into coat pockets to keep the hands warm on the chilly walk to work or school. Sounds like some people could probably do with that at the moment in some areas. It’s not that bad here and he has heating in the car….

Moroccan Squash & Feta Empanadas

Have a lovely weekend!

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Italian Courgette Crostata with Goat’s Cheese, Garlic and Basil

11 Oct

There is a whole field of courgette plants that I pass every morning with the dog. I have been watching the vegetables grow out of their delicate sunshine flowers and waiting for the day that I arrive and they have  all been harvested. I really hope they don’t leave them too long. They do that a lot here. Leave the courgettes to get too big before they pick them. I know if you grow your own that it is difficult to keep up with the mountain of courgettes that the plants produce but on a farm there is no excuse.

There is nothing worse than big, fat, watery courgettes. You really need them when they are young, firm and still squeaky. Like these ones I found at the market on Sunday.  These were only a euro for a kilo so I had to buy a kilo obviously.

Then you get home and realise you have a load of courgettes. One of my favourite things to cook with them at the moment is this crostata, we have it for dinner about once a week. A crostata is a freeform tart, an Italian version of a French galette. You cut a big circle of pastry, leave an inch or two border spread the base with some ricotta or yoghurt mixed with garlic & herbs, then make pretty concentric circles with courgette slices and brush with some herby garlic oil. You then roll up and crimp the edges and bake. It’s as easy as that, especially with this quick olive oil pastry recipe.

Courgette Crostata with Goat’s Cheese, Garlic & Basil Oil

Serves 4-6 as part of a meal. Vegetarian. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the spelt olive oil pastry:

  • 250 g spelt or wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (I used 1/2 thyme 1/2 oregano)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and herbs, drizzle in the olive oil mixing/mashing it in with a fork until well combined (a bit like crumble mix). Measure out the water then add an ice-cube to it. Slowly pour the cold water (not the ice-cube) into the flour and mix it in with the fork until just absorbed then bring it together with one hand kneading a little just until it forms a cohesive ball. Do not over work or it will be tough. shape into a flat disc, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge until ready to use. It doesn’t need long but will keep well for a few days like that.

For the filling:

  • 2 firm small/med. courgettes, sliced into 1/2 cm coins on a slight diagonal
  • 1 pot goats yoghurt (about 100ml) or ricotta or greek yoghurt
  • a handful of grated manchego cheese (or parmesan/cheddar)
  • 25 gr crumbled goats cheese or feta
  • grated lemon zest 1/2 tsp
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1+1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • fresh basil leaves, finely sliced (plus extra for garnish)  or 1 tsp basil pesto
  • salt & black pepper

Lay the courgette slices on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and leave to sit while you prepare the pastry & filling.

In a small bowl mix (or blend) together the olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, basil (or pesto) & lemon zest. Mix 1 tbsp of this in another bowl with the yoghurt (or ricotta), and cheeses. Season with salt & black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.  Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, turning it quarter turns as you go to stop it sticking, to a very rough circle about 2-3 mm thick.  Take your largest dinner plate or serving plate,  place it lightly on the pastry and cut around it, remove the excess pastry and keep it in the fridge if there is enough for another small tart. Remove the plate with a sharp knife and lift the circle carefully, on a floured rolling pin, onto the lined baking tray.

Leaving a border round the edge of about an inch or two, spread the cheesy mixture out evenly over the pastry. Dry the tops of your courgette slices well with kitchen towel and then start laying them, overlapping slightly, around the edge still leaving the border clear.  When you have finished the outside circle start another circle going in the opposite direction just inside the first. Then overlap a few slices in the middle. See pictures above for these stages.

Drizzle and/or brush the rest of the garlicky herb oil all over the courgettes and then start to fold up the edges by turning the paper and folding and pleating as you go. Brush the pleated border with a little olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until bubbling and golden. Leave to sit for 5 minutes then scatter over a few fresh basil leaves and serve.

Serve with a simple lemon & olive oil dressed green salad or this delicious White Bean Mash. This is a very versatile recipe, you could easily switch up the herbs and cheese to use whatever you have in the fridge.

I know I said I bought a kilo of courgettes and I only used two of them in this dish and I also know that a lot of you are overrun with courgettes at certain times of the year so maybe, like me,  you could have a go at making this deliciously light Zucchini Green Chilli Cornbread or these very moreish Baked Zucchini Fries as well.

Have a Great Weekend!!

 

Grape and Fennel Seed Spelt Focaccia with Sea Salt and Basil

9 Sep

I see these grapes every day while running with the dog. They are hanging over a fence saying “steal me”. But I don’t. Even though the farmer on the other side of the fence is letting most of them turn to raisins on the vine. It’s all inspiration though because I have now started thinking about raisin recipes.

Grapes are kind of underused in cooking I think. There’s the Veronique thing with sole and they go very nicely on a cheese board of course. About the same time last year I made a White Grape & Manchego Cheese Tartlet that I sprinkled with fennel seeds and served with an elderflower syrup.

The combination of flavours work really well together. The herb should really be tarragon though, not basil,  to follow on with the anise fennel theme but our plant is on its way out so basil was my next choice. It’s an Ottolenghi recipe that I’ve adapted using spelt flour instead of normal and I added the sea salt and herbs. I like the scattering of sea salt on top to contrast with the sweetness of the sugar and fennel seed topping.

Grape & Fennel Seed Focaccia Recipe

Makes a 20 x 30cm focaccia, vegan, wheat-free.

Adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

For the starter:

  • 15g fresh yeast ( or 1 sachet dried)
  • 210ml bottled lukewarm water
  • 165g spelt flour (I used wholemeal)

Put the yeast and water in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the yeast dissolves. Add the flour, stirring until you get a porridgy consistency. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for about 2 hours to double in size.

For the dough:

  • 165g spelt flour (wholemeal or white)
  • 1+1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil plus extra for brushing
  • 1 +1/2 tsp sea salt plus extra to sprinkle

Mix the doubled in size starter (above) with the flour, sugar & olive oil in a bowl. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes then add the salt and knead it into the bread for about 2 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Brush the inside of a bowl with some olive oil put the dough in it and brush the surface with more oil. Cover with a damp cloth again and leave in a warm place for an hour until doubled in size.

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and gently stretch it with your fingers into a rectangle. Fold one of the short edges of the rectangle into the middle, then fold the other short end over that so you get 3 layers. Brush the inside of a 20 x 30cm baking tin with oil and put the folded dough in it with the seam underneath. flatten it out with your fingers until it nearly fills the tin, cover with cling film and leave to rise for another hour. Go back 3 or 4 times in the hour to press it out with your fingers to reach the edges. By the end it should fill the tin, have lots of finger bumps and be about 2cm thick.

For the topping:

  • 150g seedless grapes (I used a mix of red & white)
  • about a tbsp raw/brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • flaky sea salt
  • fresh tarragon leaves (or basil)

Preheat oven to 220C.  Halve the grapes lengthways and stud them all over the dough.  Mix the sugar and fennel seeds together and sprinkle this all over the top too.

Bake  for 10 minutes then lower the heat to 190C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until slightly browned & cooked through. Remove from the oven and brush with olive oil while still hot and then sprinkle over some sea salt. When ready to serve strew or tear over some fresh tarragon or basil leaves.

This is lovely as a snack, supper or picnic with some mature cheese (like a Manchego or Parmesan) and a glass of wine. Or serve as part of a continental breakfast or brunch instead of croissants and pastries.

Enjoy!

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