Courgette gratin

Courgette and tomato bake

Gratin is a French term for a dish that is baked and has a browned crust on top. This dish is usually made with aubergines but I think it is also very nice with courgettes and if like us at this time of year you are looking for recipes which use the courgettes and tomatoes from the garden, this dish is perfect.

Courgettes are not very nutrient dense but do contain some immune-boosting vitamin C and blood pressure regulating potassium and of course fibre. Tomatoes contain good amounts of vitamin A for eye health and immunity and lycopene which has cancer-protective properties, as well as fibre. If you are using fresh tomatoes, the nutrient level can be increased by storing them at room temperature rather than in the fridge.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large courgettes, sliced

Butter and olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and sliced thinly

350g/ ¾ lb tomatoes, skinned and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

sea salt and ground pepper

175g/6 oz cream cheese softened with 2 tablespoons of milk

4 tablespoons grated cheddar

4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs *

1 tablespoon butter

 

*the breadcrumbs can be made by grinding up a stale piece of bread in the food processor after first cutting the crusts off.

Method:

Heat a little butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan.

Add the courgette slices, enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and fry until browned on both sides.

Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Fry the rest of the courgette this way, and set them aside on kitchen paper.

In the same pan, fry the onion until golden brown. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Cook gently for 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture begins to soften.

Remove from the heat and season to taste.

Take a baking dish and put one third of the courgette and tomato mixture in the bottom.

Spoon half of the cream cheese on top.

Repeat these layers finishing with the cream cheese on top.

Mix the cheese and breadcrumbs together and sprinkle over the top of the dish.

Cook at 180°C for 30 minutes.

This can be served with meat and a potato dish, or on its own with potatoes to make a meal.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Lemon cake

Lemon cake

This is a simple loaf cake, easy to make, lemony and delicious. Perfect for Mother’s Day or any occasion (Saint Patrick’s Day?). There is something spring-like about lemons. They are refreshing and cleansing. They are the colour of daffodils. What’s not to love? I have reduced the sugar a bit in this recipe but it will still taste sweet and you can increase the fibre by using half wholemeal flour. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

8 oz (225g) butter or margarine

6 oz (175g) caster sugar

juice and zest of 1 lemon

3 eggs

8 oz (225g) plain flour (variations: use half wholemeal and half plain for more fibre, or substitute 2 oz, 50g with ground almonds)

3 teaspoons of baking powder

Method:

  1. Line a 8 x 21 cm loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4.
  3. Beat together the butter or margarine and the sugar until light and fluffy. This is the most important step.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time and if the mixture curdles add a tablespoon of the flour, with each egg.
  5. Then add the lemon zest and lemon juice and beat again.
  6. Fold in the rest of the flour.
  7. Put the mixture into the loaf tin and spread out with a pallet knife. Sprinkle the top with 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a knife comes out clean from the middle.
  9. Cool in the tin on a wire rack before turning it out.

Prawn and butternut squash red thai-style curry

prawn-curry-002

Apologies, it has been such a long time since my last blog. It has been a busy time with work, family birthdays, and Christmas preparations, but now it is time to get back on track and time for a new recipe.

This is one that I like to cook on Saturday night as it is quick and easy and comforting. It uses mostly ingredients you have in the store cupboard or freezer, but can be made extra special by the addition of some fresh coriander and fresh lime juice.

I am using brown rice to add extra fibre, because most of us don’t eat enough.

You can also use a mixture of butternut squash and sweet potato or other types of squash.

I have used the coconut cream you buy in a block as this involves less wastage (a little of this goes a long way), and less unwanted chemicals, though you can use the tinned coconut milk if you prefer (use a quarter of a tin). The fat in coconut cream and milk is mostly saturated and government advice is to not have more than 10% of your energy from this or about 20g per day. This recipe will give you roughly 15g saturated fat, so just below this.

Prawn and butternut squash red thai-style curry

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2/3rd of a mug of brown rice (dried)

boiling water

olive oil

½ onion, finely chopped

250g butternut squash, deseeded, peeled and cut into cubes

1 red pepper, washed, deseeded and cut into medium-sized chunks

a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

pinch of chilli flakes

2 teaspoons curry spices such as garam masala

cayenne pepper to taste

1 tablespoon of tomato puree

1/8 of a block of coconut cream

1 tsp of mango chutney or ½ teaspoon of sugar

200g frozen prawns

squeeze of lemon or lime juice

salt to taste

Method:

  1. Prepare the ingredients as above. Put the prawns in a bowl of cold water to defrost them a bit.
  2. Wash the rice in boiling water. Then add double the volume of water so for 2/3rd of a mug of rice add 1 1/3 mugs of boiling water. Put in a saucepan with a lid on a very low heat and leave for 20-25 mins. When cooked all the water should have disappeared, if it is too dry add more water.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for a minute, then add the red pepper, ginger, garlic, curry powder, chilli flakes and cayenne and stir fry for a few minutes.
  4. Add 250ml boiling water and crumble in the coconut cream, mango chutney and tomato puree.
  5. Stir well and bring to the boil, then add the butternut squash and simmer covered for 15 minutes or until the butternut squash is tender.
  6. Drain the prawns and run them under the cold tap to remove the excess ice. Then add them to the pan and bring back to the boil. Add the lime or lemon juice and cook for a few minutes to ensure the prawns are heated through. Taste it and add salt to taste.
  7. Serve on warmed plates sprinkled with chopped coriander and with the rice.

Beetroot and tomato salad

Beetroot and tomato salad

Around this time of year our fridge is full of beetroot, courtesy of my Dad’s allotment. If you don’t grow it yourself, beetroot is available pre-cooked in supermarkets and now is a great time to eat it. Often called a superfood, beetroot is rich in nutrients including calcium, B-carotene (which is converted into vitamin A), folate (naturally occurring folic acid) as well as some vitamin C, iron and zinc and several other nutrients. It is fairly high in sugars giving it a sweet taste but it also contains a good amount of fibre.

Eating beetroot has been associated with many health benefits such as antioxidant and immune-boosting properties, helping to maintain a healthy gut, supporting the liver and helping to reducing blood pressure.

As far as taste goes, beetroot tends to be a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it, but given that it is packed full of nutrients and it grows well in this country, it is well worth adding it to your diet in the summer.

Excellent in salads (but best kept in a separate pot if you are taking a salad to work as it will turn everything pink!), it also works well in chocolate cake and brownies. The leaves are nutritious and can be used in salads.

Beetroot goes really well with tomato which is what goes into this really simple salad.

Ingredients:

One medium beetroot per person

2-3 tomatoes per person

Handful of fresh parsley (optional)

Olive oil

White wine vinegar

Method:

Slice the beetroot.

Slice the tomato.

Arrange on a plate.

Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar (to taste).

Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with some protein and some carbs, such as bread and cheese, grilled mackerel and boiled new potatoes, or grilled chicken and jacket potato.