I love to cook. Simple as that. I don’t think I am an amazing cook – pretty competent is how I would describe myself.
Whereas my husband maintains he has never cooked a bad meal – easy when you have only cooked about 10 in your life – I will admit to failures, so-so dinners and some great successes. I am keen to try new things though. Happy to try jams, ice creams, exotic salads, cakes, bread etc. I am not so keen on the boring day-to-day stuff – the fill the kids up stuff. All that shopping and cooking for a quick meal. Although I am my own worst enemy because I do make everything from scratch – we do not buy ready-made meals, except the odd soup and custard. My food philosophy is ‘good food cooked simply’ and to that end having the kitchen garden has been wonderful.
One of the joys of having the kitchen garden is that I can pick a vegetable and have it on the table within 20 mins. One of the challenges is to be a bit creative in order to cope with the gluts – courgettes, tomatoes, lettuce, beans etc. So I thought that I would share a couple of my coping recipes!
My way of coping with the tomatoes is to make and freeze passatta, roasted tomatoes soup and to make relish. I think a green tomato chutney is definitely on the cards too as I have a hunch that some of the tomatoes will never ripen. The passata recipe came from the amazing Good Food website – it’s a great resource and the hints that are left in the comments section are really helpful. The recipe can be found here. The quantity made enough for at least 2 dinners for 2 people – I used a couple of extra tomatoes. The baby tomato and onion relish recipe can be found in ‘Jams & Chutneys’ by Thane Prince. I think its a good all round book for, well, jams and chutneys!
My favourite recipe for beetroot is beetroot humus from Amelia Freer’s Nourish and Glow – the 10 day plan. Basically you roast a couple of beetroot until done, then peel them when cool, whizz up with a can of chickpeas, 3 tbs of tahini, clove of garlic, some fresh dill, zest and juice of a lemon and half a teaspoon of salt. Done. Her blog is full of great recipes and advice and in my mind she can do no wrong. A link to her blog page on beetroot can be found here.
Courgettes – there is of course ratatouille, – that also takes care of the tomatoes! But more appetising is the pasta and fried courgette salad recipe in Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’ book. The link to his site is here . I actually add other vegetables depending on what is available – fresh peas, asparagus, baby onions etc. It’s good hot or cold and goes with most things – salmon, lamb, chicken….
Other books that I like – anything by Bill Granger – an Australian chef, simple, few ingredients, always work! Delia Smith – perhaps not very trendy but solid recipes that are great standbys. Nigel Slater – great mix of flavours – often very simple – very much my view of cooking. Theo Randall for anything Italian, Rick Stein and James Martin. Websites are a favourite of mine – especially Delicious and Good Food. When we lived in South Africa I bought the Taste magazine – it’s the in-house magazine of Woolworths out there, which bares a striking resemblance to M&S – great seasonal recipes – often with a twist – they have a website where you can access the recipes on-line, and being South African a lot of the chefs were unknown to me and it’s always good to find new inspiration from a different continent.
I’m also keen to just throw ingredients together – and if they are fresh and of good quality I don’t think you can go far wrong. I picked some patty pan squash, courgettes and onions and threw them into a pan with some garlic and olive oil and wacked them into the roasting oven of the AGA. They were delicious!
One of the reasons I started ‘Renovatingmum’ was to challenge myself to try new things. So to that end I am going to pick a cookery book at random each month and cook from it. Hopefully it will mean learning new skills, widen my repertoire, venture into more ethnic cookery and if nothing else be a good excuse to by more books!