Monday, July 28, 2014

Courgette Pakoras

Much to my delight a small patch of paddock owned by my employers and adjacent to our offices was made over to staff allotment space earlier this year, and I have one of the plots. It is a nice size for a lazy gardener and I am delighted to see my courgette plants fruiting regularly and a few squash starting to set too. If you grow courgettes you may also be trying to deal with a glut right now and whilst one of my favourite ways to store the harvest is to make a lot of different courgette soups to freeze, these pakoras also make a great soup garnish if made quite small.
The recipe comes from a book I acquired in the late 1990s called 'Cordon Rouge' which is the recipe book of a long since closed vegetarian and vegan cafe/deli called The Red Herring, which was in the West End of Newcastle upon Tyne, close to many of the ethnic shops and was run as a quite bohemian workers co-operative.
They baked bread in a brick based oven in a bakery they had built themselves, and if I remember right it was the only place in Newcastle I could buy my much loved organic flour from Little Salkeld Watermill based in Cumbria.

But back to the pakoras. The recipe is for mixed vegetable pakoras and although I am majoring on courgette here, at other times of the year I would use a mixture of vegetables.

Vegetable mix:
175g courgette cut into short julienne* or 175 g courgettes/mushrooms/cauliflower sliced thinly
1tbs black mustard seeds
1 large onion finely chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
1-2 tbs oil for cooking vegetables

Batter mix:
8tbs gram flour / chick pea flour
2tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2tsp turmeric
3tsp garam masala
1.5tsp baking powder
0.5tsp chilli powder
0.5 tsp salt or to taste
1tsp ground black pepper

oil for frying approx 1 litre for a small fryer/pan

  1. Heat the 1-2tbs oil and fry the mustard seeds until they pop.
  2. Reduce the heat and add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is tender.
  3. Add the courgette/vegetables and fry gently for 2-3 mins until just softened.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  5. Measure all of the batter ingredients into a large bow and stir well to mix.
  6. Stir the cooled vegetable mixture into the batter mix and stir well to bind the mixture together. You may need to add a small amount of water.
  7. Form the batter into rough balls. Small for nibbles/soup garnishes or larger for substantial snacks.
  8. Heat the oil in a large pan. The oil will bubble up when frying the pakoras so the pan should be less than half full of oil. The oil is hot enough when a cube of bread cooks quickly to a light brown.
  9. Gently drop the the pakoras into the hot oil (you can cook them in batches, too may at once will reduce the oil temperature too much)  and cook until a deep golden brown and cooked through. Turn the pakoras in the oil while frying to get an even colouration and cooking.
  10. Once cooked take out and drain on kitchen paper.

First pakora just into the oil
Not quite cooked enough at this point.
Draining on kitchen paper to remove excess oil

The cooked pakoras are to my taste, best when freshly fried but they can be re-heated in a warm oven when needed, or eaten cold of course.

* A microplane style coarse grater is quite good for this.

The soup I served these courgette pakoras with was a 'curried coconut, courgette and chickpea' soup based on a recipe from the Riverford Organic Farms website. I changed the recipe to leave out the cooked chickpeas but instead thickened the soup with chickpea flour. I also pureed the soup which is just personal preference. It is a lovely spicy combination using mustard seeds, cumin, chilli, ginger, turmeric, coriander and cinnamon, and it freezes very well.
I am submitting this recipe to the Spice Trail blog challenge run by Vanesther over at Bangers and Mash who has set the challenge for July to be a recipe including lots of summer spice.
spice trail badge square

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Refreshing Pink Grapefruit and Pomegranate 'Mocktail'

So this month's Random Recipe Challenge from Dom at Belleau Kitchen  is to randomly choose a cocktail from our recipe collection, or the internet, in celebration of summer. Now I would normally be the first to be found pouring a cheeky cocktail on a summer's Sunday afternoon, but I am on self-imposed alcohol restrictions to try and lose some weight, so a 'mocktail' it had to be. Actually, I really don't like that term 'mocktail' as there is nothing of a mockery about a delicious summer drink served up in a nice glass even if it does lack a bit of kick.

So having few cocktail recipe books in my collection, and those all being of the alcoholic type, I turned to the internet and had an as random as I could browse through Yummly to find something I had the ingredients for. Now the trouble with doing things last minute is you never quite have all you need, so this is a bit of a mish-mash, but it was quite delicious and very simple.

Makes 2 drinks:

1 completely ripe pink grapefruit
1 lime
1 tbs pomegranate molasses or grenadine
1 tbs syrup from jar of preserved ginger
200ml cold ginger ale (diet version in my case)
strip of lime zest and sprig of mint to garnish

  1. Squeeze the juice of the pink grapefruit and the lime into a jug and stir in the pomegranate molasses and the ginger syrup until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Stain into a chilled jug and the add the cold ginger ale.
  3. Pour into whatever glasses you like to drink from and garnish with a strip of lime zest and a sprig of mint.
Enjoy, preferable sitting outside watching bees feed off the summer flowers.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blackcurrant White Chocolate Cheesecake Ice-Cream

You would never put a dish with that name on a menu, far too long and clumsy to say, but that is quite simply what it is, so lets not be bothered with a name.

This last week I have been reluctant to do much cooking, or at least any cooking that involves heat, but this recipe was all about chilling and very welcome too. Even when it has clouded over here in North Devon it has remained hot and humid, and not at all conducive to standing any where near a hot stove or oven. How helpful then that the July 'We Should Cocoa' challenge, this month hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary, has the theme chocolate ice cream & toppings.

Because I have been eating and drinking rather too much of late I have tried to make this a low fat ice-cream. So the cream cheese I used was a low fat version and I swapped greek yoghurt for the cream. The recipe was loosely based on this cream-cheese ice-cream from the Epicurious Recipe site. I also needed to sneak some chocolate in so instead of the sugar I used white chocolate. I also added some vanilla and lemon zest and of course blackcurrants and shortbread crumbs to complete the 'cheesecake'. This recipe does not produce the silkiest of ice-creams but it is not too sweet, not too rich and with the sharpness of the black currants really quite refreshing.

300g low fat cream cheese
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
grated zest of half a lemon
1tsp vanilla extract
100g greek yoghurt
200 g milk
125g white chocolate'
icing/powdered sugar 'to taste'

100g ripe blackcurrants washed and lightly crushed, do add more if you want a more fruity ice-cream.
100g shortbread biscuits coarsely 'crumbled' (I used a bought 'all butter' biscuit)

  1. Blend together the cream cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla and yoghurt until very smooth.
  2. Gently melt the white chocolate in the milk stirring until completed melted and smooth.
  3. Allow the milk mixture to cool until no longer hot then whisk in to the cream cheese mixture.
  4. Taste for sweetness and add powdered sugar to sweeten further if needed. Much will depend on your own taste and the brand of white chocolate used.
  5. If you have an ice-cream maker now freeze the ice-cream base according to the instructions. If not pour the mixture into a shallow plastic bowl and place in your freezer giving the cream mixture a good whisk every 30 minutes until nearly set.
  6. Once nearly set, quickly stir in the crush fresh blackcurrants and return to the freezer until ready to serve.
  7. If your shortbread was a little pale or soft I would gently toast the coarse shortbread crumbles under a grill until they are a light gold brown, then allow to cool completely before using. You want a crisp texture and toasty flavour to contrast with the soft ice-cream.
  8. To serve, place generous scoops of the ice-cream into glass sundae dishes and sprinkle a portion of shortbread crumbles on top.
  9. Enjoy in the sunshine!
This recipe is being submitted to the July 2014 We Should Cocoa Challenge run by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and this month hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary, do pop over to Elizabeth's blog page to see all the other Chocolate Ice-Cream and toppings submissions.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Barnstaple Real Food Market

I was delighted to hear earlier this year that North Devon was about to get a new monthly food market to be held in Barnstaple's rather grand pannier market on the second Sunday of the month; and I eagerly went along to the first one in June. We arrived early before the crowds, and it was really nice to have time to talk to some of the stall holders before they became too busy to stop and chat. I loved the way the space had been used to place tables down the middle for anyone to stop, sit, drink and enjoy whatever they had bought.
The market ran through until mid afternoon and with hot food as well as the usual market produce for sale it was a perfect place to shop for a picnic and just enjoy it all on the spot. As we had arrived soon after opening so our picnic was breakfast, courtesy of some amazing brownies from The Green Brownie and great coffee from Ivan's Coffee
I was rather taken with Ivan's setup and in particular the use of old band kit;
And what a neat trick for using fairy lights!
The coffee was very good too.

There were plenty of stalls to choose from and we came away with a nice loaf of bread from The Red Dog Bakery
Some freshly picked crab that tasted so sweet and fresh.
Local cheese and the so hard to find raw milk.

So the market is back on Sunday 13th July with an even bigger line up of local producers. For up to date information take a look at the market's  Facebook  page or follow them on Twitter.

The traders due to attend the next market are: Olde Forge Fish, Yetland Farm, Monty's Caribbean Kitchen, Garden Jars, Calaca Loca, Stephano's Home Made Foods, Caprine Capers, Ivans Coffee, French Kitchen, Quiet Waters/Loud Flavours, Ashridge Dairy, SeaDog, Wessex Pantry, Wood Smoked, Jakes Bakes, Bampton Game, Barton Farm, Copperhill Chocolates, Evergreen Farm, Laurel Farm Herbs, Western Morning News, The Little Pantry, Middle Campscott Farm, Bobs Eggs, Devon Caterers, Wheelwright Kitchen, KT's Kitchen, American Hotdogs, Bulldog Fish Farm, John's of Instow, The Green Brownie, Big Pot Kitchen, Glampig, Red Dog Bakery, Cranfield's Foods, West Kidland Farm, Boom Kitchen, Posh Kebabs, Norsworthy Goats Cheese.

Barnstaple Real Food