Showing posts from September, 2010

Courgette Jam and the Sorry Tale of Asparagus Peas

I suppose that it's about time to gather in the summer harvest before finally having to admit that the autumn is here.  I feel like I’ve eaten every courgette dish imaginable and I’ve made plenty of chutney but the courgette plants are still producing. So I've used a few of the spare courgettes to make this simple but pleasing jam. Actually, calling it a jam is a bit misleading since it's based loosely on a French confiture de courgettes and is intended for serving with cheese, pâté or other savoury bits and bobs. Of course, there's nothing stopping you spreading it on your toast in the morning; after all breakfast in France is just a small lunch. You can use up any overgrown marrow-like courgettes in this jam, but only use the fleshy outer parts and discard the seedy core for best results. You can vary the mix of dried fruit as the mood and market takes you, but a few figs are particularly nice. The amount given here should make 3 standard jars. 900 g coarsely grat

Courgette and Herb Soup

I'm willing to admit that this soup comes as an attempt to use at least some of the bumper crop of courgettes and herbs from the garden, but I think it tastes pretty good too.  Courgettes are good with other herbs like basil too if that's what you have to hand and if you don't have sorrel, then add a little more lemon juice instead. This soup will work either hot or chilled, but if you're serving it chilled then you may want to increase the amount of lemon or sorrel for that refreshing sharpness on a warm day. Instead of reaching for the olive oil as I usually would, I used a little extra virgin rapeseed oil. These oils have a very pleasing nutty and slightly grassy flavour which works really well with courgettes. The one I used was Hillfarm extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil   but I've also been using Farrington's Mellow Yellow cold pressed rapeseed oil and that's an excellent product as well. Both these oils work very well in courgette cake too (

Blackberry Vinegar

It's the time of year to wander around the hedgerows, assuming that you can still find any, collecting blackberries – I suppose I should say brambles really. There’s nothing original about how I make blackberry vinegar but I find it's really useful throughout the year and especially during the winter to come. I use it in dressings, marinades and dishes like red cabbage . The first time I made this I couldn't quite believe the amount of sugar that's traditionally added, but when you realise that this is more of a flavouring syrup than a vinegar then it makes sense. All you need is white wine or cider vinegar, sugar and blackberries and this is all you do…… Wash and pick over the berries, getting rid of any foreign bodies and other nasty bits and weigh them once they've drained thoroughly. Put the berries in a deep, non-reactive bowl. Traditionally you now need to add 1 pint of vinegar for every pound of berries – I'm a bit generous with the vinegar and add a