Archive for the ‘Courgettes’ Category

Even Better Courgette & Almond Soup

A year ago I posted a recipe for Courgette & Almond Soup that’s had quite a few hits. It was delicious…..however, I’ve improved the recipe.  I’ve made this a few times recently with small, young courgettes from both the tunnel and outside.  It’s a richer affair and would be a perfect starter  in an elegant, shallow bowl served at a summer dinner party.  It could in fact be called courgette, white onion & almond soup since the flavour of new season onions makes a huge difference to this recipe.  I’m talking about onions that haven’t developed a crispy russet skin in storage, but still have a soft cover and taste really sweet after sweating in butter.  I’ve seen some for sale in bunches in the local veg shop.  The amazing thing about this creamy soup is that it can be made completely vegan if you substitute a vegan cooking margarine or olive oil for the butter. Try to get small courgettes that haven’t travelled too far and only make this soup in summer – it really shows off the youth and freshness of the courgette at this time of year.

Even Better Courgette & Almond Soup 

For 4

2 tbsp butter

2 medium white onions

2 cloves garlic

8 small courgettes

4 tbsp ground almonds

800ml – 1 L very light vegetable or chicken stock

salt & pepper

Heat the butter in a saucepan to melt.  Chop the onions roughly and add them to the butter.  Sprinkle with sea salt, cover with a lid and leave to sweat over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the onions are lovely and soft add the garlic – finely chopped and the courgettes – chopped into even pieces.  Cook for 5 minutes with the lid off.  Sprinkle with a little more sea salt and add the light stock – enough to cover the vegetables.  Bring to the boil and simmer until the courgettes are just tender – 10 minutes or so.  Be careful not to overcook so that none of the vibrant green colour is lost.  At this stage stir in the ground almonds and remove the pot from the heat.  Blitz the soup to a puree – taste and season with salt and pepper.  If it’s too thick add a little more stock.  If it doesn’t seem creamy enough, try adding a little more ground almonds. Heat gently to serve.

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Stuffed Courgette Blossoms

As promised – to myself and to my blog – this is the year I would stuff courgette blossoms, batter them, fry them and eat them. Last weekend looked like a day we had enough to justify the energy required to heat the oil.  There are blossoms attached to courgettes that seem to last only until evening once they’ve reached their peak – in size, openness and glamour.  Then there are those attached to a narrow stalk – these weren’t as easy to separate and stuff as the very fresh blossoms attached to the vegetable.  It’s important, then, to strike while the iron is roasting and make the most of these delights quickly.

Courgette Plant Flowering

I looked to a recipe in Dennis Cotter’s fabulous vegetarian cookbook – The Cafe Paradiso Cookbook – where I knew he had set about the same task.  It was mainly method I was looking for, as I had a different set of ingredients for the stuffing.

My stuffing was:

1 small red onion

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic

4 tbsp fresh herbs, finely chopped – parsley & chives

30g parmesan cheese, finely grated

1 – 2 tbsp mascarpone cheese

pinch each of nutmeg & cayenne pepper

salt/freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil and sweat the onion gently for 5 minutes without allowing to brown.  Transfer to a bowl and cool slightly.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients, check seasoning and set aside until ready to stuff.

I picked the courgettes at this point and brought them to the kitchen.  I’m not sure if the blossoms are generally left attached to the courgette but I did this with half of them as I saw it in the cookbook and it looked nice.

Method for stuffing them is quite delicate and I was glad to have an extra pair of hands in my husband around!  Very gently, open the flower without tearing the sides all the way down.  With one finger down in the blossom, break off the stamen and remove it.  Next, with the help of a small spoon and narrow butter knife, stuff each blossom with 1-2 tsp of stuffing.  Twist the top gently to seal in the stuffing and set aside to batter.

The batter I used was from this cookbook, but I imagine you could use any similar consistency batter:

200g plain flour

salt

1 egg yolk

300ml water

Each stuffed courgette blossom is dipped in the batter and deep fried in hot oil (at 180°C).

Deep frying courgette blossoms

Serve immediately with something tasty to dip into – I had fresh basil pesto, it was yum!

Stuffed Courgette Blossoms

Stuffed Courgette Blossoms with Courgette Attached

So how did they taste?  Amazing!  The stuffing itself is quite tasty of course – but there is also huge mouth enjoyment in the tip of the flower.  The texture was great and it had lovely delicate flavour.  A much more interesting way to eat the blossom instead of tearing into a salad, for example.  With or without the vegetable attached?  The courgette tended to be a bit soggy deep fried like this so I would much prefer to see this as a crunchy addition to my salad.    I can see why people go to the trouble, but take my hat off to anyone serving these in a restaurant situation as they are quite fiddly to make.  Maybe someone knows an easier way?

First Courgette!!

We’re a little behind on the courgettes here – a late frost got some of our plants in early May but once they start there’s no stopping them!  This guy is the first to appear in the tunnel.  The outside plants are in, but will need more time.

First Courgette

Lots of seasonal cook books suggest stuffing the courgette blossom and I’m looking forward for the opportunity to do this – I really don’t see any other way of obtaining the blossoms around here other than growing them, stuffing them and then stuffing yourself.  I’ll let you know how the tasting goes!