Allotment recipes

Spaghetti with green tomatoes

Green tomatoes

I feel like I’ve been away from this blog for a long time and it’s nice to be back.

I think I might have over-egged the custard when I said at the end of my last post that my local library had reopened with a “stunning array of cookbooks”.

On closer inspection the bulk seems to be by new celebrity chefs such as Kirsty Allsop and Fearne Cotton (seriously!!!) and the old guard – Nigella, Mary, James, Jamie, Rick etc. But hidden amongst these largely style-over-content tomes there are a few more interesting books that I’ve never seen before. One called ‘The Good Carbs Cookbook’ seemed to speak to my rebellious, carb-loving self and this recipe, which promised to use up some of the green tomatoes currently refusing to ripen in my greenhouse, caught my eye.

It’s a good recipe that takes just as long to prepare as it does to cook a pan of spaghetti (about 10 minutes). So it’s perfect if you’re short of time on a midweek evening.

It’s not dissimilar to a regular herby pesto with the acidity of the green tomatoes taking the place of the usual lemon. It’s not a dish that’s going to blow you away with its complex flavours but the result is a perfectly tasty bowl of pasta that will make you feel virtuous and happy that those green tomatoes haven’t gone to waste.

Below it is the only other green tomato recipe I know – a chutney by good old Delia. It is wonderful (one of the best chutneys I’ve ever tasted) but in contrast with the pasta recipe it takes a great deal of time and effort to make and needs to mature for at least a year (preferably longer) before it’s at its very best. Not a great one then for the impatient. It’s sometimes difficult to see the advantages in putting the effort in now if the rewards are not to be enjoyed for such a long time.

Pasta with green tomatoes and fresh herbs

Adapted from ‘The Good Carbs Cookbook’ – Dr Alan Barclay, Kate McGhie & Philippa Sandall

Serves 2 greedy people or 4 normal ones

  • 6 medium green tomatoes
  • A generous handful of mint
  • A generous handful of basil
  • A generous handful of parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Half a pack of spaghetti or linguine (250g)
  • 50-100g of ricotta (I think 50g between two is more than enough)
  • A light olive oil (not extra virgin) – between 50 – 125 ml (the original recipe uses the full 125ml but I think this is too much personally)

Roughly chop the tomatoes, mint, basil and parsley and place in a food processer with the olive oil and crushed garlic. Pulse for a few seconds until you have a chunky mixture.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water until done to your liking. Purists would say it should be al dente but I prefer it a little more cooked than that. Drain but reserve a ladle full of the salty cooking water for the sauce.

Return the pasta to the pan over a low heat and add the tomato mixture. Tip in the reserved water and give everything a good stir to combine. Season well with salt and pepper to your own personal taste. I refrain from giving exact measures because I like a lot of salt and you may not.

Serve immediately with blobs of ricotta on top to be stirred in when eating.

NOTE: I think some green chilli would also be a good addition and you can play around with the quantities of herbs and oil depending on your personal taste.

Green tomato pasta

Delia Smith’s Green Tomato Chutney

Makes 8 x 450g jars

  • 1kg of green tomatoes
  • 1kg of cooking apples
  • 900g of onions
  • 6 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 450g of raisins
  • 625g of soft brown sugar
  • 25g of pickling spice
  • ½ tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • 2 level dessertspoons of ground ginger
  • ½ tablespoon of salt
  • 1.75 litres of malt vinegar

Wash the tomatoes and cut them into quarters.

Peel and quarter the onions.

Peel and core the apples – keeping them in water so that they don’t go brown.

Mince the tomatoes, onions, raisins and apples and place them in a very large pan. Now I don’t have a mincer and I don’t know of anyone that does these days. An alternative is to use a food processor and this is what I do.

Now add the garlic, cayenne, salt, ginger and sugar and mix everything together thoroughly.

Tie the pickling spice in a piece of cloth and attach the string to the handle of the pan so that it dangles down into the mix.

Now pour in the vinegar and bring to a simmer, removing any scum from the surface.

Simmer very gently for 3.5 hours without covering, stirring now and then to prevent sticking.

It is ready when the vinegar is absorbed and the chutney has thickened to a smooth consistency. The chutney should leave a trail on a metal spoon when it’s done.

Pour the chutney into 8 sterile 450g jars, filling them as full as possible.

Cover with wax sealing discs and seal with a tight lid immediately.

Store in a dark, cool place and leave for at least 3 months before eating. I have found though that this chutney is best when left for at least a year and the very best when left for 3 years!

 

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Nigel Slater’s new potato and smoked mackerel dauphinoise

smoked haddock and potato bake

As usual this blog has been neglected during the school summer holidays. Today however, I have a moment of calm as I mind the shop while my lovely sister looks after my children. This gives me the chance to quickly post this brilliant recipe from good old Nige.

As allotment holders we have a wonderful glut of ‘Charlotte’ new potatoes at the moment and so have declared this ‘Potato Week‘. This means that we eat potatoes every day (note: this is not the same as the ‘Potato Diet’ where you eat nothing but potatoes which is bonkers).

So I’ve been thumbing through my book collection trying to find new ways with waxy potatoes and found this recipe for ‘new potato and smoked mackerel dauphinoise’. I wasn’t too sure about the combination of oily fish and cream but trust me it really works.

If you like creamy things and smoked fish you will absolutely love this. It is also simple to make and smoked mackerel is easy to get hold of (I like Co-op’s the best even in preference to my fish mongers).

The dish is very rich so you will only need the simplest of accompaniments, perhaps some steamed spinach or a simple green salad.

PS. I am off to Belgium on holiday soon but will be back with a vengeance in September when the children have returned to school. I have been reading a lot of Elizabeth David over the holidays and am inspired.

Nigel Slater’s new potato and smoked mackerel dauphinoise

(From Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Food’)

Serves 2-4

  • 450g of waxy potatoes, scrapped clean (this is roughly 5 largish ones, I used Charlotte potatoes)
  • 225g of smoked mackerel fillets, skin removed (approximately 3 fillets)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 300ml of double cream
  • 200ml of milk (the recipe calls for full-fat but I used semi-skimmed and this worked fine)
  • 1 tablespoon of wholegrain mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 190oC (fan).

Slice the potatoes lengthways about 3mm thick (the thickness of a pound coin) and put them in a shallow baking dish roughly 30cm in diameter.

Flake the mackerel into bite sized pieces and toss them gently with the potatoes making sure that the fish doesn’t break up too much. Tip the potatoes and fish into your dish, flatten down with your hands and tuck the bay leaves underneath the top layer.

Mix together the cream, milk and mustard and season with salt and pepper (not too much salt as the smoked mackerel is already very salty). Pour the mixture over the potatoes and fish and bake in the oven for one hour.

Serve straight away with simply cooked greens or a salad.

A giant cabbage pasty

cabbagepasty

Trust me this is much nicer than it sounds.

I love cabbage. I’m thrilled that we currently have a glut that needs eating quickly before it bolts and goes to seed. I will quite happily eat a whole bowl full on its own (just stir fried with a little garlic or simply raw with a Japanese style dressing) but I’ve been trying to find recipes that  make this humble vegetable a meal in itself – not just a side dish. I’m also after recipes that will win over my husband and children.

This recipe (by Melissa Clarke for NYT food online) is brilliant and seemed to go down well. The real winner is the pastry which is very sturdy and easy to make. I can’t wait to try using it with other fillings. Potato and wild garlic perhaps, or maybe sausage and onion.

If you prefer learning by watching then there’s a helpful video here (by Melissa, not me).

Melissa Clarke’s Cabbage and Onion Torta

(in my own words – with some amendments – and converted from US cup measurements)

Serves 6-8

For the pastry

  • 475g of plain flour
  • 60g wholemeal flour
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 170g of butter
  • Cold water (no more than 350 ml)

For the filling

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 680g of cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar (or more to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 70g of dry bread crumbs
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of dried or fresh thyme
  • 225g of cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar and red Leicester but Melissa uses fontina)
  • 1 large egg yolk, to glaze

Measure the butter and place in the freezer for 1 hour to harden up a bit. In a large bowl measure out the flour and the salt. Remove the butter from the freezer and grate it into the bowl. Mix with a knife until well incorporated. Add enough cold water (a couple of tablespoons at a time) until the mixture comes together – you may not need the whole 350ml. Use your hands to bring everything together into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in heavy based pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (around 10 minutes).

Add another tablespoon of oil and stir in the cabbage, a handful at a time, waiting for each addition to wilt before adding more. Cook until the cabbage is tender (about 7-10 minutes). Stir in the vinegar and salt and cook for a few minutes scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add more salt and vinegar to taste if you think it’s needed.

Add the final tablespoon oil into the pan and stir in the breadcrumbs, garlic and thyme. Cook until the breadcrumbs turn golden (about 1 minute). Set aside.

Heat your oven to 220oC and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

On a floured surface, roll out your dough into a 17-by-12-inch rectangle. With the long side facing you, spread half the bread crumbs evenly over half of the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Top with half the cheese, then half the cabbage, then the remaining cheese, followed by cabbage and finally breadcrumbs.

Dab the edges of the dough with water. Fold half the dough over the filling and use the prongs of a fork to seal edges. Brush the crust with a beaten egg yolk.

Using a knife, cut several slits in the centre of the crust. Transfer the pie to your prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown (about 45 minutes).

Cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

cabbagepasty3

Pea and garlic soup

pea and garlic soup

I may be glowing with the success of my garlic crop but I don’t talk about my peas (which never even germinated). Luckily this recipe (based on a Nigella  one) uses frozen peas rather than fresh.

Don’t be put off by the amount of garlic – once roasted the flavour is mellow and sweet and not at all over powering. I’m not a fan of super creamy soups so I have reduced the amount of butter and cheese by half, and I don’t bother with double cream which I think dulls the flavour.

Pea and garlic soup

Serves 4

  • 2 large heads of garlic
  • 4 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 400g of frozen peas
  • 400ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 25g of butter (Nigella uses double this amount)
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan (Nigella uses double this amount)
  • 300ml of double cream (optional)

Cut the very top off the head of garlic so that you can just see the tops of the cloves. Cut out a square of tin foil, sit the garlic in the middle, drizzle over 2 teaspoons of olive oil and then make a loose parcel with the tin foil around the garlic, sealing at the top. Repeat with the other head.

Bake in an oven preheated to 180oC for an hour until soft.

Squeeze the soft cloves of garlic out of their skins into a food processor.

Heat the chicken stock in a pan, add the frozen peas and cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes until the peas are thawed and warmed through. Add the peas and stock to the food processor.

Add the butter and Parmesan then process until creamy.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat gently. Add salt and pepper to taste and a little cream if you think it necessary – I don’t.

NOTE: This is great served with homemade baguettes (find the recipe here)