Home Cooking

I am a newish cook, a frugal cook but most of all a homely cook. Over the past few years I've learnt that learning to cook what you'd really enjoy eating is the key to a happy kitchen and table. Simple and pretty obvious I know but its taken me a long time to realise that! Putting a pot of something on the table that fills my family with warmth is one of my favourite things in the world. Delicious but simple flavours are the be all and end all and here are a few of my favourites to share.

Zucchini Cakes with Roast Tomatoes
Such a simple later summer meal that I serve with slices of roast chicken and warm ciabatta for a filling supper, or slivers of mozzarella for lunch on a warm day. The original recipe comes from Nigel Slater's fabulous Kitchen Diaries (the best cookery book I've ever had) and my version just a little simplified if that's possible. This amount serves 2 generously.
  • Grate 3 large courgettes coarsely into a colander. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 15 mins, longer if possible. 
  • Place 6 large tomatoes in an ovenproof dish and brush generously with olive oil (not extra virgin - it smokes, mild or basic olive oil is fine) and add a tablespoon to coat the bottom of the dish too. Place in a medium hot oven (around 200C) on the middle shelf or around 30 minutes.
  • I usually pop in a couple of chicken breasts in a roasting tin with herbs and seasoning at this point. Towards the end of the cooking time, pop in a couple of part baked ciabatta rolls too, these are perfect with the tomato juices.
  • Return to the courgettes and wring them out in small handfuls and place into a bowl.
  • Fry a medium chopped onion on a med-low heat until it begins to turn transparent and loose. Then add the grated courgette, stir in and cook until it too softens and turns golden. You can add a garlic clove too if you like.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of plain flour, one at a time to the mixture. Sprinkle it in and stir gently into the mixture then add the next. Cook the flour through for a 3-4 minutes.
  • Now add a large egg, lightly beaten. Stir through for 2-3 mins. Season with salt and black pepper. Nigel Slater recommends adding chopped dill and about 100g of feta cheese here too. It sounds lovely but to keep everyone happy I make ours plain.
  • In a separate pan (I use a large deep frying pan), warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add a tablespoon dollop of the courgette mix into it and press down lightly to make a pattie and cook until it browns on one side. Flip it over using a palette knife or spatula. You need to do it quickly, they're a bit delicate!
  • I can fry six patties at a time. When done, keep them warm on plate in the oven while finishing the rest of the mixture.
  • Serve on warm plates with the tomatoes and slices of chicken breast/mozzarella/green salad/cous cous!
Stuffed Tomatoes
Life may be too short to stuff a mushroom but you'd be missing out, and stuffing tomatoes (or peppers) is quick, easy and very, very tasty. This recipe was one I cut from a magazine yonks ago and is a real winner.
Enough for two.

8 large, firm tomatoes
1 packet of cous cous (I use a spicy Morrocan version)
100g stale country bread (the remains of a baugette are good)
2 garlic cloves crushed into a paste with a little salt
bunch of finely chopped spring onions
30 g sultanas (you may find these included ina flavoured cous cous)
optional 60g anchovy fillets in olive oil (too many I think, just mash a couple of small fillets from a jar)
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley (or if like me you only have basil - use that!)
  • Heat the oven to 190C. Slice a lid of each tomato, scoop the interior out carefully into a bowl.
  • Sprinkle a little salt into the tomatoes and set upside down on a plate to drain.
  • Add boiling water to the cous cous in a saucepan and follow the packet instructions.
  • When cous cous is ready, crumble in the bread, the tomato seeds and pulp from the bowl, garlic if you're using it, anchovy fillets, sultantas, spring onions and herbs. Season with black pepper (there's plenty of salt already if you've added the garlic & achovies and salted the toms so I wouldn't add more)
  • Stuff the tomatoes using a teaspoon. I had plenty of mixture left so filled two halves of a yellow pepper too.
  • Brush each tomato (or pepper) with basic olive oil and place in an lightly oiled ovenproof dish. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve with a green salad and crunchy bread.


Karen said...

Steph I am looking forward to your recipes - there's such good things to eat at this time of year. The Kitchen Diaries is one of my favourites - I love Nigels writing. Don't forget he has a new series next Friday on BBC1. Karen x

Mum said...

It's always good to have courgette recipes if you grow courgettes and I'll certainly be trying this one.
Love from Mum

FunkySteph said...

This recipe looks really yummy. Usually vegetables are stuffed with meat, I love your option! Thanks for sharing.

Kate said...

These look greatSteph . Courgettes are one of my favourite veg but hubby absoloutely detests them so they dont feature too often in recipes here. I think i'll give these a whirl when he's away though. The stuffed tomatoes look an all round winner though, i've only ever done stuffed mushrooms before. Added to my 'recipes to try' list! Looking forward to seeing more of your cooking, K xx