Norfolk Marrow Tart

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.

Norfolk Marrow Tart
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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.
Norfolk Marrow Tart

Marrow stuffed with vegetable chilli

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!

stuffed marrow

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!

 

Harvest Time

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.

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Simple September

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!!

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Sticky Date and Coffee Cake 

It’s been far too long since I last shared a recipe with you. I could give you reasons and excuses as to why I have been too busy and distracted to write, but as you are probably aware I am not a fan of waffle so I will just get on with it and share my new favourite thing with you.

A friend and I had a sudden urge yesterday to make sticky toffee pud; mostly because we made a big pot of coffee which we then forgot about, and soaking dates in it seemed like as good a way as any not to waste it. A quick Internet search brought us to this recipe, which we then adapted to make this fabulous cake.

Coffee Cake

What we changed…

Most importantly, the dates were soaked in coffee, not in water! We soaked them for rather longer than stated in the recipe (overnight is best), which meant that we didn’t need to use the very expensive and wonderfully gooyey Medjool dates; instead we used cheaper dates (no pun intended!) intended for baking instead.

The second adjustment was that rather than making a number of individual puddings we used two loaf tins. This did mean however that it took longer to cook; approximately 40 minutes. I suggest putting a skewer into the cakes at about 35 minutes; if it comes out clean it is cooked, if not put it back for five or ten minutes and then do the skewer test again.

sticky date and coffee cake

Lentil, bean, tomato & anchovy stew

This is a true Kitty’s Store-Cupboard recipe – quick, easy and cheap.

I have had feedback recently that people miss my £5 a week challenge which I started in January last year. It probably hasn’t come across well in recent posts, but one of the things which I am passionate about is demonstrating how it is possible to cook very delicious and wholesome meals from a well stocked store-cupboard and a small weekly shopping bill.

This dish is one which I made up on the spur of the moment earlier this week… and by ‘spur of the moment’ I mean that I changed the whole direction of the dish half way through my cooking session! It started off as a pasta sauce recipe, but when  I realised that I had run out of pasta it morphed into a lentil and bean based dish.

Note, I was in the mood for something strong tasting when I made this so I used a whole tin of anchovies. You may want to start with half the amount. Also, if you are not a fan of fish then bacon is a good substitute.

Lentil Stew

Ingredients

  • two small/ one big red onion, finely chopped
  • a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • half a teaspoon mustard seeds
  • teaspoon mixed herbs / ‘herbs de provence’
  • teaspoon paprika (smoked paprika is good if you have it)
  • tin of anchovies
  • tin of tomatoes
  • packet of pre-cooked lentils and kidney beans (I got mine in Sainsbury’s – see photo below)
  • grated cheese to serve

Method

Heat approximately a tablespoon of oil (I tend to use rapeseed oil) in a medium sized frying pan.   Add the onion, garlic, mustard seeds, herbs and paprika and gently fry until soft.

Next, halve the anchovies and add them to the onion mixture.

Add the pre-cooked lentils & beans and the tinned tomatoes.

Simmer for approximately ten minutes and then serve topped with grated cheese.

Yummy with rice or crusty bread.

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Lentil, Bean & Anchovy Stew

Pear & Sponge Tarts

This is one that I made up this morning at the café. I had some pastry left from making quiche yesterday  (thanks to the wonderful Marie-Helene to whom I delegate quiche making – her pastry is wonderful!). I also had some pears to use. Seeing as I was busy baking sponge I made some extra mixture and topped it with that.

Pear Tart

Ingredients

  • Shortcrust pastry
  • A pear
  • 2 oz self raising flour
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 2 oz margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Method

Roll out the pastry to about 1/4 cm thick. Cut out circles with a large biscuit cutter or a pint glass. Gently push the rounds of pastry into a muffin tin.

Cut the pear into quarters and take the core out. Slice the pear thinly and then place a few pieces in the bottom of each pie base.

Next, make the sponge mixture. I tend to use Delia’s all-in-one sponge recipe as a base for most of my cakes – it is easy and reliable; ‘just’ whizz it all together until nice and smooth. This morning I made a three egg mixture,  took out what I needed to top the pear tarts, and then stirred some lemon zest into the remaining mixture for my lemon drizzle cake.

The tarts were baked in the oven at about 180oC for 10 – 15 minutes. They are ready when the sponge has risen nicely and is slightly browned on the top.

Holiday musings… continued 

I write this sitting in Malaga airport…

I have decided not to continue sharing my holiday musings on frugality with you.  I expect that you’re not disappointed – the Web is hardly short of blogs telling you how you should be budgeting and running your finances and my thoughts on the subject are hardly earth shattering. Also, it would be rather presumptuous of me to think that what works for me might work for you.

After Christmas it will be the year anniversary of starting my blog. Maybe I will give myself another January Challenge to mark the occasion – any ideas?

P.S. yesterday while visiting a vinyard in the Ronda region I got a fabulous Paella recipe from an equally fabulous lady called Ana. I will share it with you just as soon as I have tested it 🙂


Holiday musings on frugality 

I write this sitting in a Spanish bar

‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink‘ would be a more appropriate start given the topic of frugality, but that wonderful first line has already been taken – plus it would be a big fib.

The bar in question has a black cat pictured on the menu, and a real black cat called Tahita who likes to have her ears tickled. It is a local’s bar, where no English is to be heard and the food and wine are cheap and good. I am very lucky that it is just across the road from my apartment building; most of the other options are the typical ‘Brit abroad’ Irish Bar or expensive seafood restaurants.

Anyway, back to ‘I write this sitting in a Spanish bar with a black cat‘; it was the perfect setting for some diary writing –  a favourite holiday occupation of mine along with reading, eating, drinking and sleeping. Holidays are a good time for reflecting, and writing has always been my favourite way to put my thoughts in order.  I decided that my musings from this morning were worth typing up and sharing with you,  given that quite a proportion of this blog is about frugal eating.

read an article this morning about a lady who gave herself a ‘spending break’ for a whole year – that knocks my January Challenge of £5 a week for food into a cocked hat! Having said that, I suppose that what she has done – allowing spending on only mortgage, bills and groceries – is similar (although rather more strict!) to the rule I gave myself when I was made redundant in February. The bank account which my redundancy money went into I only allowed myself to use for my mortgage and for bills; the only money  which I allowed myself to spend was that which made it’s way into a different account from temping work and making and packing lovely meringues for my friend Lisa. I have kept to this rule rather well until the last month or so. Not bad.

On reflection, the problem with my redundancy money rule was that anything which made it into my other account I was allowed to spend on myself in what ever way I wanted, and so I lost much of the discipline learned during my January Challenge. Also, the January Challenge concerned only food rather than a wider ‘frugality’, which led me to reflect this morning on what other things I spend money on which are not strictly necessary. The things that most quickly came to mind were wine, gin and ‘lazy food’ – so still pretty food related! What is it they say about putting your money where your mouth is?! I had to put rather more thought into where the rest of my money is frittered away to.

… and now to repair to another Spanish bar for wine and tapas. I will finish typing up my musings tomorrow – providing that I can still read my handwriting ! 

Hannah’s ‘failed cake’ chocolate fridge-cake recipe 

This is a truly wonderful waste-not recipe. I don’t make it very frequently because it uses the crumbs from a failed cake – which doesn’t happen to me very often! However, this week I have been getting used to a different oven and I ended up with a chocolate sponge which was a little too crispy around the edges…

chocolate fridge cake

The recipe was handed down to my friend Hannah by her mother. I had to text Hannah in a panic asking for the recipe when my chocolate cake failed, however I have since found my old copy and I think I will leave it to Hannah’s mum to instruct you.

chocolate fridge cake

All that I need to add is the decoration. This was done after the cake had cooled in the fridge over night, and was simply melted chocolate with raspberries and flaked almonds scattered on top.

chocolate fridge cake