Saturday, 30 August 2014

Courgette Spaghetti

Really simple to make. Almost therapeutic. And you do not need a spiraliser unless you are really, really uptight about getting even strips.

Wash, dry, top and tail your courgette. Try get a straight one. A curly one makes life much more difficult. So we are talking supermarket perfection here.

Use a potato peeler and peel strips. Work until you hit seeds and turn the courgette over and work on the other side.

Using a cook's knife cut into strips as evenly as you can manage and to your preferred thickness.

Put a big knob of butter and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into a pan with a small clove of garlic crushed and finely chopped. Heat gently. Add courgette and toss around for about 4 minutes. Add some freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sea salt.

You could also toss through some pesto.  Or a cherry tomato cream sauce.

Either way it's a revelation. I'm not sure why but it is amazing.

Another serving suggestion - chicken stuffed with pesto, goats cheese and wrapped in proscuitto with purple sprouting broccoli. Summer is almost over so make the most of summer veg before cold autumnal evenings draw in. 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Blackberry Vinegar

To begin with it helps to save a few vinegar bottles. I find the SuperValu range very good as the shaker thingies come out easily for cleaning. Also the labels are easily removed. There is nothing more annoying than labels that you have to scrape and soak in hot water to get off glue.

I followed a River Cottage recipe (roughly) but halved the sugar.

250g blackberries
300ml red wine vinegar

Put the blackberries in a bowl and pour the vinegar over. Cover loosely and leave for 4 or 5 days.

Strain the vinegar mix through a double layer of muslin. Gather up the muslin and give it all a good squeeze until you extract every last bit of the liquid. Measure the liquid. Pour into a saucepan and for every 600ml add 200g sugar (the RC recipe adds 454g sugar). I got exactly 600ml out of the above quantities. Heat slowly stirring to dissolve the sugar and bring to the boil. Cool and pour into the cleaned and sterilised bottles. Label and store for a few months.

I had a small quantity leftover and used it immediately in a salad dressing (1 part to 3 parts extra virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and seasoning) and it was delicious but it will mature and the flavour will improve.

I also made one batch with half and half blackberries and blackcurrants and followed the method above. If you like you could add a bit of extra sugar to the blackberry and blackcurrant vinegar.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Squid Ink Pasta with Seafood and Samphire

Lidl are apparently selling squid ink pasta at the moment. I had also got some fresh seafood bought for me in a fabulous fish shop in Navan by the chef. Sometimes he does nice stuff for me. So what to do only throw it all together. Apart from being disorganised and using every pan in my kitchen, it was made in minutes and was really fabulous.

1 packet 250g of squid ink pasta (here it fed two of us)
2 slices of thick cut smokey bacon
1 clove of garlic
1 red chilli not deseeded but just finely sliced
fresh prawns (I used about 5-6 per person)
fresh squid (same)
Samphire (handful)
fresh herbs, I used parsley and thyme
Salt, pepper
Oil for frying
some retained pasta water
splash of white wine

Put the pasta into a pan of boiling salted water and cook for four minutes, after two minutes add the samphire. Drain but reserve a few tablespoons of the water.

Fry the bacon until crispy. Cool, remove and cut into pieces. Add the garlic, chilli to the pan and deglaze the pan with some white wine. Add the herbs. Remove from heat and set aside.  In another pan add some oil which can take high temperatures (rape, sunflower or lard). When pan is smoking add the squid and toss about quickly (do not overcook or it will turn rubbery). Add a ladle of the pasta water. Transfer the squid into the pan with the garlic, herbs etc. Repeat with the prawns until they turn pink. Remove and add to squid mix. Add the bacon. Heat the whole mix up quickly and add the pasta. Add more of the retained pasta water if it appears dry. Toss it around to reheat it. Serve immediately.

Serve with a chilled crisp white such as Sauvignon Blanc.