Mmmmm mmmm.. Courgette flowers! Pretty little things but super scrumptious as well. When I was younger my mum used to pick them from her garden and we’d simply cook them into an egg scramble with a little chopped tomato. Simple but delicious.
Walking home last week I picked up some courgette flowers and eggs at a local farmers market. I’d forgotten what a delicious dish this was. Such fresh young ingredients you don’t need to mess around with too much to get a great tasting meal. The freshness and seasonal quality of the produce really shines through here. I really like these little courgettes only just cooked so they’re still nice and crunchy and full of flavour
You’ll see courgette flowers still attached to their courgette through the summer in farmers markets. If you see them, snap them up as they’re a real summer treat, better still, grown them yourself! I would cook them as soon as possible after buying or picking because they won’t keep for long.
Courgette and squash flowers also great for stuffing, you can see my recipe from last year for stuffed flowers here :
Courgette Flower Scramble
4 Baby courgettes with their flowers attached
1 plum tomato
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
a few sprigs of fresh oregano
a few sprigs fresh mint
salt and pepper
chili flakes (or fresh chili, sliced and added with the garlic)
Cut the courgette from the flower and cut the stem into ½ inch chunks.
Then to prepare the tomato, using a sharp knife lightly cross the top of the tomato, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds. Take out and the skin should slip off easily. Quarter the tomato and scoop out the seeds the cut the flesh into small chunks.
Prep your garlic, pick your herbs and roughly chop. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly with some salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy based (non stick preferably) fry pan on medium heat. Add a heaped teaspoon of coconut oil or ghee, add your courgette, courgette flowers, garlic, and tomato and cook for a couple of minutes, pour in your eggs and gently fold the mixture together, into a rough until the eggs are just cooked.
Serve up straight away with some fresh bread or extra vegetables.
I’ve been experimenting a lot more with vegetables recently. Okay, yes, I know I have always done this, but there are actually only so many vegetables out there (and readily available). So I’ve been finding new ways to make interesting and different dishes with similar core ingredients.
Luckily I’ve been buying these core vegetables at very good markets, particularly Borough Market where they have a vast range of delicious, different and seasonal produce. Any good farmers market or local grocery store should have some different types of courgettes at this time of year. The Lebanese courgettes you’ll see in Middle Eastern shops, in particular Green Valley off Edgware Road will have them for sure! These are a little bulbous looking, and pale green.
First up I have to admit, when I made this for the photo shoot I didn’t have the Lebanese courgette at hand so I just used the two courgettes, the mixture of these three courgettes I used the first time experimenting, when I came up with the recipe. You can mix it up as you like, but it’s nice to have a couple of different types at least because they do have subtly different flavours.
The yellow is a little sweeter, and is really delicious raw and lightly cooked. The trompette courgette has a delicate slightly sweet delicious flavour.
In the salad I grilled the courgettes and used them raw. The flavours are so delicious raw it almost seems a shame to cook, but the added grill flavour and different textures brings a lot to the salad and is what helps make it interesting and different.
Asparagus is still sweet and delicious at this time of year and you can find the baby violet artichokes quite easily too. These are really easy to prepare, they’re still young so you don’t need to scope out the choke and the leaves are less tough than the larger artichokes. Just trim the tough stalk off, pull off and trim away the tough outer leaves. Quickly plunge into lemony water to stop them discolouring until you’re ready to use.
1 Yellow courgette
1 pale skin/Lebansese courgette
1 trompette courgette
4 baby violet artichokes
5 thick asparagus spears or 8 thinner
20g tarragaon, picked and chopped
20g basil, picked and chopped
20g coriander, picked and chopped
20g chervil, picked and chopped
2 lemons (including lemon for the artichoke)
1 - 1 1/2 tbsp white balsamic
1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
Once your artichokes are trimmed and ready, I rub them with lemon and steam with a little water in the pan, place them standing on the leafy end, cook with the lid on. Steam for about 5 minutes, use a small knife to check they’re done, which should go in easily and feel tender.
Once done, cut into quarters and place in a bowl with a little of the white balsamic.
Snap the woody end off the asparagus and trim diagonally into 1 inch pieces. Lightly cook in a wide pan with a splash of water (*steam frying with out oil!). Cook for a minute so they’re still crunchy, and plunge into ice cold water to stop cooking, take our and drain.
With the courgettes, thinly slice half of each using one of the thinnest setting on the mandolin. If you don’t have a mandolin, you can you a vegetable peeler to make strips instead of rounds. The other half of each cut into ½ cm round. Heat a grill pan until smoking hot. Grilled on both side for a minute, just so you have the charred stripes.
Place all your vegetables, herbs and spices now into a big mixing bowl and dress with a generous squeeze of lemon, a tablespoon of white balsamic and the olive oil, season and taste, adjusting any seasoning as you wish. If you’d like a little more acidity add a squeeze of lemon, the white balsamic is quite sweet so if you like’d a little more sweetness carefully drop on a little more of this.
Serve and enjoy!
*steam frying is cooking in a little oil and a little water, a low fat way of frying and sautéing
This is the recipe for the starter we had at our most recent supperclub and it’s right up my street.. I love sesame, chilli, seaweed and SQUID!!! Yummmmmm…
So although this is crispy squid with aioli, there are nice healthy wonder elements to it so as long as you’re using good quality ingredients, you can definitely feel good about eating this!
By mixing corn flour and polenta for your coating you have a super light, crunchy coat. The sesame, chili and the nori sprinkle bring a great combination of flavours. Adding some wakame & herbs into the mix makes the aioli a little lighter and the wasabi gives it a kick! The seaweed salad I’ve kept very simple, I think something simple, clean and fresh works well with the other elements of the dish here.
I’ve talked about the health benefits of seaweed in my past post and recipe on Sesame, Seaweed and Sprout salad .. You can check it out here.. http://bit.ly/1pdhTYf
But a quick recap on why it’s so good..
Seaweed is great for digestive health. Alginate, a substance in brown seaweed, has been found to strengthen gut mucus, thus protecting the gut wall. It slows down digestion, so keeping you full for longer, it helps the energy release more slowly from your food and it’s also high in fibre.
Seaweed is packed with minerals, a great source of calcium, iodine, folate and magnesium, rich in B vitamins, sprinkling a little nori or adding some wakame into your soup will boost you’re the minerals and trace elements (and flavour!) in your food no end.
Seaweed also helps detoxify the body, it acts as a tonic to the body, reducing swelling, encouraging urination, thus flushing out toxins, and it has been said to even be a hangover cure!
Chili Sesame Squid with Wakame Aioli and Nori Sprinkle
Wakame & Wasabi Aioli
1 tsp djion mustard
1 tsp cider vinegar
½- 1 tsp wasabi powder
2 clove garlic, crushed
small bunch coriander, chopped
Juice half lime
300ml – 500ml rapeseed oil
malden sea salt
Nori flakes to finish
8 g wakame, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes and squeezed out
Put the egg, mustard, vinegar, lime juice, garlic and wasabi into a food processor with a generous pinch of salt. Slowly trickle in the oil until a thick mayonnaise consistency is formed.
Taste for seasoning, add more lime or wasabi if you like.
Chop the drained wakame and mix through through the aioli.
Wakame and Radish Salad
1 tbsp mirn
1 tbsp mixed black and white toasted sesame seeds
1tbsp sesame oil
generous pinch sea salt
Thin slices of mooli for garnish.
Soak the wakame in water for 10 minutes and drain thoroughly, patting with some kitchen roll to get rid of any excess water.
In a large bowl mix through the mirin, sesame oil and add the salt to taste.
Crispy Chili Sesame Squid
25g Black and White sesame seeds
400g cleaned squid,
4tbsp corn flour
4bsp fine cornmeal
Oil for frying
Ichimi togarashi (Japanese Chili flakes)
Remove the tentacles, slice open the sqid and score the inside, slice into inch thick pieces. In a wide deep pan fill three quarters with sunflower oil over medium high heat. Test the oil is hot by dropping in a bit of cornmeal, if it sizzles straight away the oil is ready.
Pat the squid dry and shake through the flour, carefully drop in the squid, cooking in small batches for a minute until crispy and almost golden.
Using a slotted spoon remove the squid onto some kitchen paper to drain off excess oil. Dust with salt and the chilli flakes.
Arrange the element on the plate together, and sprinkle with black sesame salt, nori flakes, ichimi togarashi and serve with an extra wedge of lime.
I have actually already written a post on taramasalata, it’s a very early post and I do think the blog is looking a little brighter than when I started. I’ve tweaked the recipe as well, so I thought I’d post again because it was sooo long ago and it’s such a great dip! One of my favourites..
It’s not the obvious dip choice in England, not a firm favourite like humous, guacamole or sour cream and chive.. ahem. But I grew up eating taramasalata, with fond memories of eating the ‘real’ stuff in Greece. I love the pungent saltiness of it, no surprises there, pungent, salty, tangy.. Mmmm. With fresh warm pita and olives, it’s a winner, but on the lighter side try with crudité, or both! Pictured here I have radishes, something I’m eating a lot of at the moment, a great dipping vegetable, and super good for you too.
As part of the brassica family, along with broccoli, cabbage etc, radishes are thought play a part in slowing or stopping certain types of cancer by prompting the body to make higher levels of detoxifying enzymes and eliminating cancer causing free radicals in the body. They’re also high in vitamin C as well as phosphorus and zinc, and being high in water content, keep you hydrated too!
I also have some raw beetroot that goes really well, roasting it would also make delicious combo. I’ve been pickling vegetables too which is also great for dipping!
And so onto the recipe..
120g Smoked Cods Roe
2 large slices white bread, crusts removed
milk for soaking
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp onion powder*
pinch white pepper
¾ - 1 cup Olive oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons
Peel the skin off the cod’s roe and scoop out the eggs into a food processor. Soak the bread in milk and squeeze it out, add this to the food processor along with the garlic, onion powder and white pepper. With the machine running drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture loosens and becomes a thick creamy consistency squeeze in one lemon, mix this through and taste, adding more lemon juice if needed.
Chill the dip until your ready to serve. As I mentioned, taramasalata is unreal with warm fresh pita, but to keep things lighter cut some crudité, some olives and enjoy with drinks, as an appetizer or as part of a mezze selection.
*I don’t usually use onion powder but for this I didn’t want any chunks, even small ones, so this gives the flavour, keeping a nice smooth constancy.
Soo… I’m late, again. But I think I’m getting better, after a crazy busy past year I’m trying to get these blog posts back to being regular! And here, following from our last Thai-esque noodle salad we’re gearing up for Spring, and all those tasty treats that come with it..
This salad I actually made a variation of a while back and is now only just making it onto my blog with a recipe,The upside of this is that now asparagus is in season! So really, it’s almost perfect timing. :D
Here we have salty halloumi, my all time favourite cheese, the cheese I grew up on. Dusted with paprika, a trick I learned more recently and topped with a sweet and sharp, crunchy, fragrant spicy salsa, laid on top of some welcoming asparagus. Although asparagus has a delicate flavour itself, it can take on strong flavours and they compliment it so well.
This is a dish to get your senses going, a great to start a meal, as part of a larger spread, or as a treat, just for you.
The combination of all these delicious ingredients also means that you have a nutrient packed dish. Asparagus is loaded with antioxidants, containing plenty of fiber, its good for your digestion, it helps with blood sugar regulation, and is an anti inflammatory, so many factors working together to keep you healthy.
Pomegranate and grapefruit are also packed with antioxidants, and high in vitamin C boosting your immune system and helping your body heal.
I steam fried* the asparagus here, but grilling on a very hot grill would also be delicious. These are my preferred ways of cooking asparagus. You keep the flavour of the asparagus, instead of losing it in a pool of boiling water, and there’s also less risk of over cooking it.
Paprika dusted Halloumi with Pomegranate Grapefruit Salsa and Spring Asparagus
250g packet Halloumi, sliced into 1cm slices
sweet Smoked Paprika
2 tbsp avocado oil
1 bunch asparagus
Pomegranate and Grapefruit Salsa
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ small red onion, finely chopped
½ jalapeno, finely chopped
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
20g mint, finely chopped
10g Thai basil, finely chopped
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
1 red grapefruit, pith removed, segmented and diced
salt and pepper to taste
Start by making the salsa. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, onion, jalapeno, honey, vinegar, olive oil, herbs, pomegranate seeds and grapefruit.
Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.
Trim the ends off your asparagus, the ends are usually woody and stringy to eat. You can feel where they become good to eat by feeling where they snap easily.
Heat a large pan fry pan, add a 1 tbsp avocado oil, and splash of water, add the asparagus and cook until just tender, I like my asparagus with bite but you can cook it a little longer if you like. You can also grill your asparagus on a hot griddle pan.
While your asparagus is cooking, dust the halloumi pieces with the paprika. Remove the asparagus from the pan, add your remaining oil, and the halloumi and cook about a minute on each side until golden.
Plate up individual starters, splitting the asparagus and Halloumi between each plate topped with a little salsa or server in large flat dish for sharing.
Garnish with herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.