Sunday, 22 August 2010
One of the nice things about my company is that a lot of my colleagues have vegetable gardens and are generous with the produce thereof. This is how I came by this knobbly Venetian courgette. After it had served its time as an alien ray gun, it had to be cooked, and we thought this variation on a favourite meal would work nicely.
The original recipe is from The Really Useful Vegetarian Student Cookbook and contains courgette, peas, leak and anchovies (not too vegetarian!). Edit: no, it was in The Really Useful Student Cookbook, where anchovies would be less of a problem.
For this meal we steamed the courgette, as it was quite hard, while frying an onion in margarine, and then added the courgette, some frozen peas, salt and pepper and a packet of Cauldron marinated tofu chunks to the pan for a bit. We used readymade puff pastry for the base, leaving a margin around the edges to puff up.
The result was delicious. Steaming definitely helped the courgette play nicely with the other, fast-cooking ingredients but it kept its character in the mix. On the side I served some Greek-style chickpeas that another colleague had given me.
Friday, 20 August 2010
I go swimming twice a week, and on my way to the pool, I walk across a large common bisected by a railway line. The other day, when crossing the bridge over the railway, I noticed that the bushes to either side of the line were brambles heavy with ripe blackberries.
So on Monday night, I met Rachel on the way back from work and we went picking blackberries. It turns out that the most important tool in the blackberry-picker's arsenal is a hook made from a wire coathanger, which we used to great effect to draw in branches too far away to reach otherwise. One of us would hold the hook while the other would pick the berries.
When the box I'd brought was full, we headed home via the supermarket, where we picked up sugar and pectin. It was time to make jam.
When we got in, we were ravenous, so we quickly prepared and ate dinner. Then we took out the stock pot and set to work. Conveniently enough, the bottle of pectin had instructions for making blackberry jam on it, so we followed them (or tried to - I added the pectin too early). We ended up filling a big jar with jam, and putting a bit of overflow into another one. Finally, we got out some bits of white bread and polished off the jam sticking to the inside of the pot.
We left the jars to cool off overnight. To our satisfaction, when we checked in the morning, the full jar had pressure-sealed. Rachel made a sandwich using jam from the overflow jar, and it was delicious.
Since we still have lots of pectin left, we plan to return to the common. There may be more blackberries, and the elderberries are ripe too...
The posts below are imported from my (Rachel's) personal blog, where the series was called En Guete! -- Swiss German for "bon appetit". With the move comes a new name: Zum Znacht, or "For Dinner".
We'll be writing fairly frequently but irregularly, as we find things worth posting about. We hope you will enjoy it!
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
A guest post by Dave about our dinner the other night.
Having made pasta salad with lots of olives in, I got to theorising that you could make a pasta sauce based on olives. Since basic olives in brine aren't very expensive, I decided to give it a try the next night. This is what I came up with:
- A tin of pitted black olives in brine
- A jar of pitted green olives in brine
- Juice of a lemon
- Two cloves of garlic
- A bundle of mint leaves
- Olive oil
Drain and rinse the olives, peel the garlic. Chop the olives, garlic and mint finely and put them in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, enough olive oil to coat everything, some salt and a lot of pepper.
We had it with some wholemeal spaghetti and the result was intense and delicious. The biggest problem was that the "sauce" didn't adhere to the spaghetti, so next time I make this I want to try running it through a food processor.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
I was never much of a salad person before I started going out with Dave. I would put some lettuce and a tomato on the side of the plate if I was making something otherwise unhealthy, but that was getting fancy. It took his continental approach to make me a true believer. This is (a) ironic, since I'm the vegan one and (b) why I'm writing an En Guete! entry about two meals I didn't actually cook. I wanted to praise his salad-making skills.
The first (shown in the terrible picture) is a potato salad created to play with a tahini-based salad dressing. The salad itself contained steamed potato chunks, black olives, cherry tomatoes, radishes and red kidney beans. The dressing was made up of:
- lemon juice
- garlic paste
- salt and pepper
- a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- water to thin it
It was delicious, filling but not stodgy, thanks to the hidden protein from the tahini and the freshness of the radishes and tomatoes.
The second salad (in the nicer picture) was based on wholemeal pasta shells, cucumber and tomato. It also contained black olives, spring onions, cornichons and mint leaves from a pot in the kitchen. The dressing was made from:
- vegan mayonnaise
- salt and pepper
- olive oil and balsamic vinegar
I love this salad and we've had a version of it several times this summer. The only problem with it is that, with so many different flavours, I'm constantly compelled to have just one more forkful...