I must say that I am enjoying Simple September so far. Receiving lots of courgettes, runner beans and apples from my parent’s garden has helped; although it does take rather a lot of imagination not to quickly get bored of courgette!
Some of you will know that I use the same basic sponge recipe for many of the cakes I make – Delia’s ‘all-in-one-sponge’ recipe. I find it incredibly versatile; sometimes I add lemon zest and then add a lemon-drizzle topping, other times I add chocolate followed by coffee icing… the possibilities are endless. Yum.
- 4oz self raising flour
- 4oz golden caster sugar
- 4oz margarine
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- two eating apples
- two tablespoons demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to 180oC.
Quarter the apples, remove the core and then cut into thin slices. Place the apple slices in the base of a round cake tin lined with greaseproof paper and sprinkle them with demerara sugar. You could also add a little sprinkle of mixed spice at this stage if you so wish.
Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl and combine well with an electric whisk. Cover the apples with the mixture and bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 25 minutes. You will recognise when it is cooked because the mixture will have shrunk away from the edges of the cake tin.
Turn the cake onto a cooling rack. When cold put the cake upside down onto a plate, so that the apple is at the top.
You may have gathered from the previous couple of posts that I have quite a lot of courgette and marrow to get through! I rather like having a glut of a fruit or vegetable because it tends to lead to the invention or discovery of new and exciting recipes.
I found this recipe in one of my mother’s 1970’s cookery books. I was a little sceptical but thought I would give it a go – it’s delicious, my new favourite thing! The cooked marrow and egg makes a kind of egg custard, and the nutmeg gave it a wonderfully autumnal feel which reminded me a little of American pumpkin pie (although friends who tried it thought it was apple!). I have made it a couple of times now and intend to make it a few more times as I try to get to the bottom of the pile of courgettes and marrows.
I find that older recipes tend to assume that you know what you are doing, so I add the following clarifications:
- You can buy shortcrust pastry but it is pretty easy to make. I tend to use a recipe from another of my mum’s old books, where the proportions are 8oz flour, 4oz fat (half lard half margarine is best) and 2 tablespoons of water. I am very lazy and bung it in a food processor; this time I was even more lazy because Steve made too much pastry the previous day (he is renowned for his pies).
- It works best if the marrow is mashed while it is in a colander or sieve, so as to get as much liquid out of it as possible. The first time I made it it didn’t look like it would set; I took some beaten egg, added some more sugar and nutmeg and put this as a layer on top of the tart and cooked it for another five to ten minutes which rescued it nicely.
- The recipe doesn’t say what to do with the sugar; I sprinkled demerara sugar on top of the pie which made it nice and caramelised.
- I used quite a small, deep dish because I like thick flan filling; this is a matter of taste.
Ahh marrows – if you have one you have a hundred! I have inherited my mother’s glut of courgettes and marrows because she is away on holiday (not that she would have had a hope of getting through them anyway) so I have been putting them in everything. Some I have ‘hidden’ – grated into curry sauce, thinly layered in lasagne, used to make an egg custard (no, really!). Others I have fried in butter and garlic as a delicious side dish, sometimes with added leeks or mushrooms. This one I stuffed.
Am I bored of courgettes and marrows yet? Certainly not!
There are many variations on stuffed marrow; I remember my mum stuffing them with minced beef when I was younger which was rather nice. This particular version was vegetarian, and included some good using up of leftovers as well eating into the glut of marrows.
I had cooked far too much rice to go with a curry I had made the previous day (the curry of course had grated courgette in it…), and also had a part pack of cooked lentils and kidney beans in the fridge from a previous meal. I added this to fried onion, garlic, fresh chillies and a couple of tomatoes to make the filling.
While the filling was cooking I cut a marrow in half longways (one marrow is more than enough for two people), scooped out the middle, and then put them skin-side-up on a lightly oiled baking tray. I then put them in the oven (preheated to about 180oC) for 10 to 15 minutes. When I had tasted and seasoned the filling I took the marrow out of the oven, turned them over, filled them and then covered with grated cheese. Another 20 minutes or so in the oven and they were done.
Delicious, cheap, and incredibly filling!
A sad thing about moving house at this time of year is that I didn’t get to harvest the vegetables which I had lovingly grown. Thankfully my mum came to visit last week bearing gifts from her own garden. This picture was taken about a week ago and I have just polished off the runner beans, and only have a few apples and over-sized courgettes (zucchini) left.
So how have I used this great abundance?
The courgettes I have of course stuffed – I will share this with you later in the week. I have also fried them in butter and garlic as a side-dish and ‘hidden’ them in other dishes, some sweet and some savoury.
The apples are delicious eaters and I have been munching on them, as they are as well as making rather wonderful cake with them.
The new potatoes were mostly a lovely variety called Pink Fur Apple; they are delicious just boiled and then smothered in butter and pepper, although I also had a go at roasting them.
… and of course everything has been served with runner beans (apart from the cake).
I still miss my garden.
This recipe has been sitting in my drafts since Lent last year, probably because the photograph isn’t great. However, I think that Simple September is a good time to share it with you because it introduces a cheap cut of meat, a store-cupboard grain which I love, and a ‘using up’ approach to to vegetables.
One of the joys of supermarket-free shopping is going to the butchers and trying different cuts of meat. Today I popped into a local butchers shop to see what caught my eye and was good value and came away with a pork rib chop – something which I had never cooked before. It turned out to be an amazingly tender cut of meat and I shall certainly be cooking it again.
Cooking pork gave me the opportunity to try out an infused salt which I made at the weekend – inspired by the book Gifts from the Garden by the wonderful Debora Robertson. This book was by far my favourite Christmas present and I am very much looking forward to putting it to good use when spring arrives!
The veggies were very much a ‘what have I got’ effort; what I had was a single carrot, the tail end of a bag of frozen peas and jar of artichokes in oil – a winning combination it turns out!
Why bulgur wheat? Simply because I love it and had not shared it with you previously.
It is worth saying at this point that I have been reliably informed that I ‘could do better’ with respect to my food photography; I didn’t get the feedback until after I drafted this post so apologies if the picture doesn’t give this delicious meal justice! Please do keep giving me feedback – I’m all for continuous improvement.
- a pork rib chop
- 1/2 teaspoon rosemary-infused salt
- 1/3 cup of bulgur wheat
- a pinch of saffron (not essential)
- 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable stock
- 1 carrot, sliced
- a handful of frozen peas
- four pieces of artichoke, chopped
- mixed herbs
Following a very decadent summer (getting married is a good excuse!) it is time for a ‘Simple September‘.
My husband Steve and I are having a near-complete shopping-ban this month; we are combining two very well stocked kitchens into a much smaller space, plus we have been eating and drinking rather well recently and some simpler fare won’t go amiss. The exceptions to the shopping ban will be some seasonal vegetables, onions, garlic, eggs, milk… and the occasional treat of nice cheese or meat from the reduced section of the supermarket.
As well as saving money and kitchen space, I’m hoping that Simple September will kick-start my recipe writing again after a five month hiatus (I’ve been a little distracted!).
As a reward for getting the kitchen in our new house tidy, I decided to start Simple September with a (reasonably) healthy treat; coconut and apricot flapjack. All of the flapjack I make is based around the same basic recipe which I have shared with you previously. This time, I decided to have a go at using coconut oil; I substituted it for half of the butter because I wasn’t sure how it was going to behave. I’m glad that I didn’t make the switch to coconut oil in one go because it made the mixture rather more liquid; I recovered the situation by taking it out of the oven part way through cooking and covering it with a layer of drinking chocolate followed by desiccated coconut.
A delicious mistake which I fully intend to make again!!