27 July 2014

Stuffed courgette flowers

I recently wrote a blog about growing courgettes. One of the great bonuses of courgette plants is a steady supply of courgette flowers. You can sometimes buy the flowers in season, but they are usually rather expensive. The flowers are great raw in salads, but they also make a great antipasto stuffed with ricotta and an anchovy fillet and deep fried. Courgette flowers usually open in the morning, and close later on in the day. If you pick the flowers late in the day you will have to tease them open carefully. I use semolina flour when I deep-fry courgette flowers, which gives a light and crispy coating.

16 July 2014

Courgette, mint and chive salad

Courgette plants are one of the behemoths of the vegetable plot - huge spiny-leaved monsters, which produce an abundance of tasty fruits. I usually forget how large they grow, and for some reason lost in the mists of spring, this year I planted four plants, which seem to be rapidly taking over my small veg plot. The courgette is however a very versatile vegetable, which can be used in a myriad of ways. I could eat them nearly every day, and frankly with four plants probably will have to over the next few months.

6 July 2014

Strawberry risotto

Last year my wife went to Rome as a friend's plus one at a wedding. I stayed at home and laid a patio with my brother in the late-summer rain. Rome is one of my favourite cities, and my jealousy knew no bounds. I had to cheer myself up with some new-season grouse. There's nothing quite like a plate of roast grouse to warm the cockles after a day of wet landscape gardening. What has this got to do with strawberry risotto I hear you ask. Well, my wife returned from sunny Rome with tales of prosecco and an amazing strawberry risotto that she had eaten.

4 July 2014

Mange tout

Allotmenteers always bang on about how much better everything tastes when home-grown. To be honest, this isn't always the case - I've eaten a fair few stringy beans and woody radishes in my veg-growing career. If there is one vegetable which absolutely does taste better when home-grown, it is peas (including mange tout). Home-grown mange tout always taste better than their shop-bought equivalents. Peas have a relatively high sugar content, but once picked the sugars deteriorate and become starch. This is why frozen peas often taste better than shop bought fresh ones, as the sugars are preserved by the freezing process, and why producers of frozen peas work so hard to minimise the time between picking and freezing. Botanically there is no difference between peas and mange tout - mange tout are simply a cultivar where the whole pod can be eaten.