Tag Archives: courgette

Yellow courgette, basil chutney and Halloumi cannelloni

13 Nov

Yellow courgette, basil chutney and Halloumi cannelloni

I am time poor these days and the guilt mounts. The self-bashing about my overactive and restless mind that wanders off as my two year old speaks about the humungous spider we trapped in a cup, on the stairs for the nineteenth time. The let-down from not spending enough time with my husband in the evenings and cuddling text books instead. The inner sighs at not listening to my parents for long enough to hear what is troubling their ever flailing health right now. The promises to myself; I have in fact made a list for all the compensating I need to do. I am blessed that none of my loved ones punish me; I am the only one who does that to me. Since when does seeing my best friend feature on a list?

Yellow courgette, basil chutney and Halloumi cannelloni by Deena Kakaya

So I am cutting corners where I can. I am choosing reading books and number-puzzles over fussy and unnecessarily complicated cooking, shopping, and general life. I am choosing to pick up the phone to say congratulations or ‘sorry you aren’t feeling well’ rather than use social media. And in tune with this, I share with you a ridiculously easy and scrumptious recipe today.

Yellow courgette, basil chutney and Halloumi cannelloni by Deena Kakaya

For this time of year, the Riverford box we received this week was refreshingly green; masses of kale, thick pillows of spinach, and a whack of fresh basil all in pristine condition. We received massive and fairly young garlic that was not overpowering in aroma and almost nut like in texture. For me there is usually a star of the box I receive, something stands out to me as most exciting and frankly this is often a personal choice and mine this week have got to be that basil and garlic.

I have to confess that this recipe took me all of 15 minutes to prepare and I gave it another 15 minutes in the oven. It’s absurd isn’t it? But just look at it. The basil chutney has a good whack and the courgettes don’t turn soggy. The Halloumi is heated all the way through and let me tell you, this is a recipe that is very, very easy to eat.

for the full recipe head over to great british chefs

Courgette and gram flour dumplings in broccoli soup

11 Mar

 Courgette and gram flour dumplings in broccoli soup

Her grass is so much more luscious

I’ve learned, over time and with some stumbling, to count my blessings more deliberately, more appreciatively, knowingly and openly.  When anyone tells me how lucky I am in a discussion that ultimately leads to my being lead to sympathise with their heroism in coping with the comparatively (and self-declared) unlucky (rather than of course apathetic) position that they are in, I say ‘thank you’.

This week, I have been told that I am ‘lucky’ that I have just one child and not a crowd of three. One, mother-infatuated child is a doddle apparently, even though my husband is off on his fourth international trip this year and my family is a couple of hours away. I say, thank you because I am blessed to be a mother.

The next thing I am ‘lucky’ for this week is opportunity to work with a new food brand who sought out my freelance support to reinvigorate their brand by creating some youthful and energising recipes for them. I nodded at my banker friend, who brings home a guaranteed, fixed income each month on a permanent contract. She tells me how she toils over each accomplishment in her career. I wondered whether to send her a cheeky ‘hello’ text message at 1.30am when I was wearily churning inspiration into submission. Instead I say thank you, because I am grateful that a new brand understood and appreciated my style of cooking, had faith in me to deliver something exciting and innovative for them and that that I feel fulfilled.

Also, I was made aware of how ‘lucky’ I am to be in a position where I have career options. I think this is the one that set of expletives in my head. Options. It has taken me three years of loosening my grip on that rope which bound me and the world of security and sort-of-positive-affirmation of capability through my ascent into corporate middle-management, then nursing my wounds of confusion and lack of direction and eventually finding my real inclinations and talents and then turning them into some sort of purposeful and meaningful reality. Instead I said thank you, for if it weren’t for this slogging and striving, I would not have the hope that I do today.

Courgette and gram flour dumplings in broccoli soup

On the subject of green grass and positive notes, my broccoli soup with gram flour and courgette dumplings has been a total joy to eat. It’s very lean because the dumplings contain no oil whatsoever and the green; well that’s just a healthy colour isn’t it. It’s mellow, kind, lightly sweet. It’s juicy and the dumplings are dense and spongy with the courgettes keeping the dumplings moist. This is again a very easy recipe to whip up. We ate it with some fresh apple and spice bread. Now if I hadn’t finished off with a cheeky lemon curd biscuit, I would have been very ‘lucky’ to have cooked and eaten a gratifying bowl of goodness.

Courgette and gram flour dumplings in broccoli soup

Ingredients

300g broccoli florets

One large onion, coarsely sliced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1200ml vegetable stock

1 tsp. chilli flakes

1 tsp. cumin seeds

2 tbsp. cooking oil

For the dumplings

225g grated courgette

¾ tsp. caraway seeds

125g gram flour

Salt to taste

½ tsp. chilli powder

1 tsp. coriander powder

¼ tsp. ground turmeric

Method

  1. To make the soup, heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle before stirring in the onion. Sauté the onions until they soften lightly before introducing the onion and sauté until the  onion has softened down and caught light colour.
  2. Mix in the broccoli and then the vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a simmer before sprinkling in the chilli flakes.
  3. Simmer the soup for 5-6 minutes or until the broccoli is tender before blitzing it smooth.
  4. Whilst the soup is cooking, mix together the grated courgette, caraway seeds, salt, coriander and turmeric and chilli powders before mixing in the gram flour. It should form thick slightly sticky dough.
  5. Whilst the soup is simmering on a medium flame, gently drop in 50p coin sized amounts of the dough into the soup and cook them for 8 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked through.
  6. Serve hot so that the dumplings are moist and tender all the way through.

 

 

A Diwali breakfast of courgette and butternut squash savoury gram flour pancakes with a honey and mustard yoghurt dressing – recipes vegetarian

2 Nov

Start the day as you mean to go on.

A Diwali breakfast of courgette and butternut squash gram flour pancakes with a honey and mustard yoghurt dressing

So, I start my day as I mean to go on and a savoury Diwali breakfast is more important that the day before. The whole of the festive period is spent eating. Mithai (indian sweets) , fried samosa, sweet dumplings in a crispy flour case, or pakora or crunchy rice and lentil wheels. So then, it doesn’t make sense to have cereal or toast for breakfast, does it. Have something special and utterly full of flavour  and filling for breakfast on Diwali, of course it should be spicy.I started to think about things that I was grateful for. My good health, my loving family, I’m reasonably smart, I have talents. There were lots of good things that I had seen, experienced and achieved in my life and for that I was grateful. Now, when I wake up and I’m confused about my thoughts…I bring myself to the here and now and think of good things.

Now I’m not a huge fan of butternut squash. I’m not keen on very sweet vegetables. But in this dish it adds moisture and a little sweetness without it being overwhelming. Don’t worry if the pancakes feel very moist inside when to first bite them; that’s all part of the charm. They’re spicy, they’re fluffy, they are moist, deep and lasting. Go on…

If Diwali makes you happy, if talking, smiling, eating, being around loved ones makes you happy…the keep doing it.

Ingredients

For the pancakes

100g grated butternut squash
75g grated courgette
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
salt to taste
2 tsp baking powder
One green chilli, chopped finely
One small red onion, finely diced
100g gram flour
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
200ml water
3-4 tbsp oil for frying

For the dressing

1 tbsp sesame oil
5 curry leaves
One tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
250g whipped Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp honey
1 green chilli

Method.

1. To make the dressing, heat the oil in a non-stick pan and cook the curry leaves and mustard seeds for 1 min. Stir in the chilli, turmeric and ginger, then cook on a low heat for 2-3 mins. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely. Stir the cooled spice mix into the whipped yogurt along with the honey, then chill until you are ready to serve the meal. Can be made a day ahead.
2. To make the pancakes, combine the courgette, butternut squash, ginger, garlic, chilli, salt and spices together with onion and mix well. Add the gram flour and mix thoroughly before adding the water and combine until the gram flour lumps are removed.
3. On a non stick pan, heat 1-2 tsp oil and add 1/3 cup per pancake and fry until golden brown and then flip it over and repeat.

Serve hot and fresh.

I am joining in with Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month at Dinner With Crayons  thanks to Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All

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Kiddy friendly, baked paneer and courgette spring rolls

3 Sep

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Kiddy friendly, baked paneer and courgette spring rolls

Feeding my little one is obscenely challenging.  I am not over reacting.  Here are some of the useless and aggravating comments made by people who think that they know better.
1. Leave him.  This is on the top of my list for a very good reason! Yes, tried that.  An entire day can pass but if the food doesn’t do it for him, it’s not going into that little tummy.  He will, if slept, take an interest in foods that he wants to take an interest in.  He touches everything to his lips.  Even if it has been hours and hours since he last ate, it has to pass that taste and texture test!
2. Let him play with and explore the food.  Yes, of course I’ve tried that..come on.  My child is very good at throwing; ask my walls, floors and the ants that he attracts.  He’s also very good at squashing, squashed courgette pakora make interesting patterns on white clothes, I’ve learned.
3. Give him a sandwich.  My child is the reincarnation of an indian villager.  He will eat a spinach curry in a chappati but he won’t eat a sandwich.
4. Give him what he likes.  Should I just laugh at this one?
5.  Turn the telly on.  Even with help of special agent OSO, Ra Ra the noisy little lion, Curious George, or my personal favourite of Charlie and Lola, he still knows what he wants and doesn’t want.
6. He won’t starve, he has stores.  Sigh. Yes, but if we can get through the day without hunger strikes and some down time (naps happen when tummies are full ish) I could see fields of green, skies that are blue, red roses too…
7. He will probably never be an eater.  This is what a health visitor said to me. It was like being back at school when that horrid teacher decided to publicly announced his predictions of each class members GCSE grades and their future careers.  I remember internally screeching, ‘don’t tell me what I’m going to be! I will carve that out!’
So I composed myself, shut down the expletives that were exploding in my mind and said, as calmly as I could, ‘my parents tell me that I was absolutely worse than him, but look at me now’
Are you sensing the exhaustion? Do you have it too?
All of the above said, I do have to set some boundaries.  We don’t spend infinite amounts of time in the high chair.  There is no forcing.  I don’t wedge his mouth open amidst screams and shovel food in.  He does not get a bag of crisps to replace a meal, just because he likes it.  We just move on, smile and hope for better the next time around.  I want my little monster to see food in the way I do; pleasure-giving and satisfying.  I want him to explore his senses and creativity through food. It’s so uplifting isn’t it?
I don’t think I have ever been so tested as a food writer.  My son, without doubt, is definitely the toughest person ever to please.  I’ve devised an array of recipes that have been super hits…but alas, phases pass so I keep creating! I will share them with you however, in case you find yourself flopped on the chair asking your little one, ‘so what will you eat eh?’.
I learn as we grow together, my boy and I. Things that may seem obvious to the more experienced mum, I just learn…gradually. For example, my boy never took to purees.  Of all the babies that I had come across, I’d never seen a baby that wouldn’t eat a purée.
Anyway, after a good couple of months of trying, someone said to me, ‘well he’s been tasting what you’ve been eating since he could taste in your tummy till now, why would he want to eat boring bland stuff’. I mean, isn’t it obvious? Why didn’t I think of that? So I did a mild, salt-free dhal. Bingo.
My boy then wouldn’t accept a spoon. Not accept a spoon, who does this?! So I gave him breadsticks, melon, green beans..and he would chomp on it.  But this felt like diet food, just  like the mush they call baby food in the supermarket aisles.  No butter, no cheese…so I have him bread with soft cheese it or buttered chappati.  As you can imagine, he quickly grew bored.
Amusingly, when we would eat out as a family, my boy would go for the onion fritters, samosa, Chinese rice, pasta, spicy chappati…anything that tasted flavoursome.  I think it can be a misconception that little mouths like plain and simple food…so many kids I know love garlic bread, that’s hardly a subtle taste is it?
So, the challenge was to make foods that my little one could hold and that contained something valuable to his growth and then just let him do his thing, calmly.   Here’s one that seems to be working really well at the moment.  My little one loves crunchy textures and spices and you can change the filling to suit what your child likes.  You could of course make a few grown up spring rolls just by adding salt to your own stuffing, so that you can all enjoy rating the same food together,
Kiddy friendly, baked paneer and courgette spring rolls
Makes 20 rolls
Ingredients
One small red onion, finely diced
One medium courgette, grated
Quarter tin of chopped tomatoes
A knob of unsalted butter for frying
 10 sheets of spring roll pastry
125g paneer, grated
1tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Method
1. Heat the butter and add cumin seeds for a minute, then the onion and soften until transparent
2. Stir in the paneer and the courgette and then the spices and seasonings.  Mix well, then add the tomatoes.  Cook until the courgette has softened enough for you to break between your fingers.
3. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then blitz it together into a coarse texture.
4. Cut a spring roll sheet in half and then place about half a tablespoon of stuffing at the bottom of the sheet, leaving an inch of space. Fold in the sides by. 2-3cm and simply roll
5. Lightly coat the spring rolls in oil and then bake until they are crispy and lightly golden.

A soup is not just for winter – Deena’s emerald summer soup with Thai basil

14 Jul

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Who said that soups are for winter?Who even suggested that soups are synonymous with hibernation, runny noses or sore throats, debates about kids names on daytime TV, blankets on the sofa, cozy socks and growing heating bills? Are soups all about stoking the internal heating with heavy potatoes and creamy tomatoes?
Summer…sitting in the park, day dreaming or simply thinking.  Running your fingers through the quenched green grass with the heat on your back.  Children giggling, birds singing, ice cream melting, the breeze flirting with skirts.  All sounding a bit poetic and cliched now, but you see what I mean.
In the summer months…no wait, that’s perhaps a bit optimistic.  In the summer moments, I keep being told ‘I just want to eat something light and tasty’.  I have to say, I feel the same.  Picking is far more fun in the sun, partly because it leaves room for lollies and ice cream.  I’m sharing with you a recipe that is full of the seasonal emerald edibles and tastes light and healthy…bloated tummies are no fun in any season.
I’ve been working on spring time recipes for some of the magazines and I’ve picked one of the recipes and given it a summery make over.  It’s another easy recipe that requires just one pot, so more time to spend outdoors having fun! This recipe comes with a warning…I love lashings and lashings of this soup and I’m sure you will too.  Just watch that white t-shirt, don’t go out with the evidence of this soup splattered over you will you.
Ingredients
1.5litres of vegetable stock
One large red chilli
2 cloves of garlic
100g broccoli cut into small florets
One courgette diced into bite sized pieces
100g leek, cut into bite sized pieces
50-75g spring onions
75g petit pois
125g Capelli d’angelo (angel hair pasta)
2-3tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp Thai basil paste
1. Mince together the chilli and garlic
2. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and then add the garlic and chilli paste and fry them for a minute before adding add the vegetables.  Mix well before adding vegetable stock.  Bring the soup to a simmer and then cook for 3-4 minutes
3. Add the Thai basil paste and the pasta and cook for a further 4minutes.
4.  Add any seasoning if you wish, but only after tasting.  I didn’t add anything as the stock contains salt.
Cooks note: I bought the Thai basil paste for Sainsburys, it’s their own product.

Smoky courgette ribboned quesadilla

2 Jul

ImageImageSmoky courgette ribboned quesadilla

I haven’t got time to cook. That’s what a lot of us say isn’t it?
Too tired, too busy, too active, too much work, too much kiddy mayhem, too fat so need to go the gym, too single so what’s the point, too expensive so what’s the point, too boring, too hot outside, too cold outside, too reliant on my mum…what have i missed?
I have to agree…kind of. The other day for example, I made onion and spinach bhajia for breakfast because my 16month old refused to eat anything else.  For lunch I made us mixed veg in dhal with rice and for dinner my little indian villager had a spinach, pepper and cheese dosa whilst the grown ups had full on salad with my beloved chargrilled artichokes amongst other gems like gentle mozzarella, sweet plum tomatoes and roasted red peppers.
Now, I love cooking..but if you team that up with the cleaning up that results, I could really have more time on my side.  Lets remember that the clearing up includes food chucked about and squashed into the highchair.
There is this kind of romantic and augmented nostalgia that repeats in the summers of my mind, you know the one where you’ve been running in and out of the kitchen for what seems like hours as a child..playing various ball games or hide and seek…and the whole time there’s something gorgeous smelling, bubbling away at the cooker or there’s some kind of chaos on the table that looks colourful and utterly edible.  Bits of cauliflower fall on he floor, grated carrots spread and flecks of turmeric threaten immediate stains.
But of course, that’s all too knackering.  I want to call our infrequent cleaner whilst just thinking about it. So here is a minimal cooking recipe.  It’s brilliant because courgette ribbons taste best when they are practically raw.  The spices are simple and few. The taste is, well delectably ‘ pow’.  I don’t even like that word, but you know what I mean.  These quesadilla taste smoky, spicy and crunchy..good huh? Not much to do really…have a go.
Ingredients for 4-5 quesadilla
2 courgettes with the skin peeled and then use the peeler to make ribbons
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt to taste
A generous squeeze of lemon
One red onion, slices
1 tsp cumin seeds
Chipotle paste.  I’ve used 2 tsp because, of course, I like it hot.
4 handfuls of grated cheese
4-5 plain flour tortilla
Method
1. Heat a 3 tbsp of oil add the cumin seeds allow them to sizzle before adding the onion to shallow fry until the onion browns.
2. Add salt to taste, the paprika, garlic and lemon juice and stir well.
3. Add the courgette and chipotle paste and stir and cook for 2-3 minutes before removing from the heat.
4. Spread a thin layer of oil onto a non stick frying pan. Take a plain flour tortilla and on one half spread some cheese, then a 3-4 tbsp of the courgette mixture, then some cheese again.  Fold the tortilla in half and then place onto the pan.  Cook for a few minutes and gentle lift it with a spatula to see if it has Browned.   Once browned, gently turn it over and brown the other side before removing from the heat.
See, told you it is easy.

Cheating on chilly nights

24 Feb

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Cheating on Chilly Nights

When the skies released fluffy white flakes again this week, smiles fluttered across my face as well as my boy’s, again.  Then I thought of all the inconveniences we would have to endure, again. And frankly, I’m quite sick of wearing tights. 

We stood looking out at it, gluing our foreheads to the window and chilling ourselves unnecessarily.  I forgot to talk at times and I always feel guilty about that, must keep talking to my boy.   I got busy thinking about how overcrowded the supermarkets would be. Because of course, everyone behaves as though the world is going to end and ritually go and pack the aisles of supermarkets up…just in case.  Even my parents do it and they’re supposed to be the educated bees! It always makes me chuckle how proud some people are for braving the stampede in the shops.

You know what I am going to say, don’t you?  I didn’t go and join the packs.  Yes I stocked up, but I also had few recipes up my sleeve. Ones that you can whip up with store cupboard ingredients.  Ones that bring colour to days that remind me of the Narnia before bad stuff happens. Ones that you can eat whilst hugging the bowl and tucked under a blanket, or perched by the window (forehead peeled off, of course).

You know I like cheating now and again.  As long as it is worth it, in terms of the quality of what is used.  There are days for creating lots of clever mess in the kitchen whilst singing and chattering or quietly experimenting.  Then, there are chilly nights where the blanket beckons.  That’s what this recipe I am sharing with you is for.

To me, there is nothing like some chilli to kick start the insides on a cold day, but if it doesn’t turn your internal furnace on then leave it out or moderate the usage. Use this recipe flexibly…you can use vegetables other than what I have; you could use pasta instead of gnocchi.  That’s my cheat-ready-made gnocchi.  Oh, and the Harissa paste. Oh and sometimes I use miso soup sachets instead of vegetable stock. Use some good quality, ready-made gnocchi and get a spoon in that broth…quickly!

Red Lentil,  Veg and Harissa Broth with Gnocchi

Ingredients to serve four

One large onion, diced

150g butternut squash, diced into bite sized chunks

4-5 leaves of Savoy cabbage, shredded

500ml of water or vegetable stock

Half a courgette, diced into bite sized chunks

Harissa paste to taste.  I used 2 tbsp

Spices; salt and pepper to taste, 1/2tsp cumin seeds, 1/4tsp turmeric

100g red lentils

400g gnocchi 

Method

1.  Cook the red lentils in plenty of water, until they are mushy in texture.  His should take about 15minutes

2. In meantime, heat 2tbsp of oil in a deep bottomed pan and add the cumin seeds and turmeric.  When the seeds crackle add the onion with the salt and soften the onion.

3. Stir in the butternut squash, savoy cabbage and courgette Cook fora couple of minutes before adding the red lentils and water. Season with pepper.

4. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked then stir in the Harissa paste.

5.  Cook the gnocchi per the packet instructions and serve into bowls before bathing them in the broth. Serve and devour immediately. 

 

 

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