Well, the title says it all, so if you don’t deep fry or don’t eat fried food, then this one is not for you…
(You could try Natalies beautiful Baked Courgettes instead and check out her fantastic blog which is packed full of amazing vegetarian recipes.)
But you can still enjoy this photo of some super fresh vegetables bought round for us from our lovely neighbours who picked our tomatoes while we were away. From the field to our plates in less than a couple of hours…how wonderful is that?!
When we are Down by the Sea, a local Italian restaurant does a side dish of deep fried courgettes. I used to order them and gorge on a portion myself, safe in the knowledge that Big Man was not a big fan of this gorgeous vegetable. Of course, the day finally came when he decided to give them a go and unfortunately for me, I now have to share. Must remember to stop saying “go on, try them, I think you’ll love them”. Sometimes you get what you asked for.
One courgette cut into thick batons
A little milk
A few tablespoons of flour seasoned with a little salt and pepper
Oil for deep frying
Dip the courgette pieces first in the milk, then the seasoned flour and deep fry in very hot oil for a few minutes until lightly browned. Drain, sprinkle with coarse salt and serve. Alioli or garlic mayonnaise is great with them.
Make double if you run the risk of having to share.
A recent discovery is that our local “Big” supermarket sells packs of thin beef steaks. Ok, it may not be a patch on what we can get in England, but for dishes that require quick cooking, it’s tender and surprisingly tasty.
You may recall I recently made the “acquaintance” of Mr Gok Wan and his cooking and his book travelled back with me to Spain. Sudden temperature highs of around 30 degrees mean it’s time for food that is quickly prepared and cooked.
I served this beautifully fragrant beef dish with pak choi (or bok choy), but more of that another day. If you invest a few minutes (or ten) in getting everything ready, the cooking is quick and ready to serve in just a few minutes. I had to make some adaptations, as ever, and Big Man asked if this was “Cocina Ibero-Chino” (Spanish-Chinese Cooking). I am sure that if had used sesame oil and carrot (which were the things I had to substitute) it would have been even more delicious, but as we didn’t have a scrap left over, I think it was a success!
To serve 2
About 4 tablespoons of cornflour
Salt and pepper (the recipe calls for white, I used black
About 300g steak (the recipe calls for sirloin, I think mine is called “flash fry)
Oil for frying (original recipe says groundnut, I used olive oil)
4cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
1 medium carrot peeled and cut into matchsticks (I used a small courgette)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil (I used olive oil)
1-2 teaspoons rice or cider vinegar
Coat the meat strips in the cornflour and seasoning and fry in a hot wok or frying pan until browned. I did this in batches. Remove and place on kitchen paper.
Wipe the pan and add a little more oil then add the ginger, garlic, spring onions and carrot. Fry on high for a minute or two until the edges of the onions start to brown a little. Add the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, vinegar, a pinch of pepper and about 3 tablespoons of water and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust the flavours to your liking (I added a little more vinegar as I found it quite sweet).
Add the beef into the pan and gently mix into the sauce. Remove from the heat and (optional) garnish with chili flakes.
A beautiful dish, aromatic and quick to prepare.
For another beautiful Chinese Beef dish, check out Mandy’s Shanghai Steak over at The Complete Cookbook.
Now that we are starting to have a little drop in temperatures during the day, and a nip in the air first thing in the morning and last thing at night, we know that autumn is just around the corner. While this means saying a gradual farewell to summer, it also means an autumnal welcome to the next season and the food and change in cooking it brings.
Off out for a busy morning and knowing I was not going to be in the house while it was still relatively warm, prompted me to cook the first casserole for a long time. We came home to delicious chicken, vegetable and brothy smells and apart from opening the wine and grabbing the loaf of bread left for us earlier that morning on the gate by Bread Man, there was nothing more for us to do other than set the table and enjoy lunch.
The dish was a celebration of almost the last of many of our summer vegetables. The bobby (french) beans finally started producing yellow as well as green beans, with kilos of them stored in the freezer for the months ahead. The green peppers are still doing well, we´ll see how much longer they last. Our onions have dried out nicely and are sweet and delicious and I had been hoarding the last handful of potatoes we had left from our first ever potato crop.
Into a big pot went two large legs (drumstick and thigh) of our free range chicken, some chopped peeled potatoes, large chunks of courgette given to us by a neighbour along with some whole unpeeled garlic cloves. A few chopped green peppers, a roughly chopped onion, a few handfuls of green beans and some seasoning finished off the ingredients. I covered everything with water and bought it to the boil then put a lid on the pot which then went into a very low oven for about 5 hours. You could, of course, cook it much more quickly on the stove top with equally good results if you´re not off out shopping for the morning!
And that was it…memories of summer and anticipation of autumn all in one delicious bowlful.
Am off to London to visit my family tomorrow for a week. Will try to keep up with all your lovely blogs and posts, but apologies if I can´t always comment. Looking forward to a proper catch up when I return!
What do you do when your Big Man comes home with about 15 mammoth courgettes and you´re the only one in the house who really enjoys them? Well, you have to give a few away to a courgette loving neighbour, and then get creative.
The courgette loving neighbour gave me a recipe for her courgette bread which looks delicious and rather like my Banana Bread recipe. As soon as I´ve made it I´ll let you know how it goes. Then I made some little courgette pancakes, but more of those another time. And then I thought it was time to tackle some pickled courgettes.
These remind me of special Italian family meals when I was younger – lots of salamis and pickled vegetables as a big Antipasto. It´s been years since I made them, and I used mustard powder and turmeric which is not so Italian, I have to confess.
500g courgettes, very finely sliced (I used a mandolin slicer)
500ml white wine vinegar
140g brown sugar
1 tsp mustard powder (I used Colemans English Mustard)
1 tsp mustard seeds
4 dried cayenne chilies, crumbled (use less if you like)
1 tsp ground turmeric
Sprinkle the courgette slices with salt and then cover with ice cold water and leave for an hour. Drain and pat dry. Meanwhile put the rest of the ingredients into a saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar and leave to bubble for a couple of minutes.
While the pickling liquid is cooling down a little, pack the courgettes into two sterilised jars, pour the liquid over and seal tightly.
The recipe says to keep them in the fridge and that they will keep chilled for a couple of months. I have them in the larder which is cool. They will taste great in a few days, but I had a few slices that wouldn´t fit into the jars which I covered with a drop of the pickling liquid and ate that evening…and they were delicious!
It´s the end of May and we only got round to planting out all those little plant plugs on 21st May, shame on us. We´re usually at least a few weeks earlier, but never mind. The weather seems to be turning to summer, and I took a little look around this morning to see how things were doing. Five days on, and I couldn´t believe my eyes. Fortunately things catch up quickly here and I know, at least if the weather stays fine, we´ll be eating most of what we´re growing now into November.
The runner beans seem to be growing a few cm each day. Luckily we have plenty of canes for them. We had to put down some slug pellets, not really in keeping with our organic aims, but there seems to be a plague of slugs and snails this year.
The broad beans are still in full production, the freezer is also well stocked for when they do die off in a few weeks.
We´re very excited about our potatoes as we´ve never grown them before. Big Man was reluctant as they do take up a fair amount of space. However, they´re drying out now and will be ready to dig up soon, then once we´ve dug over the soil and given it whatever (organic) feed it needs, we´re going to put other things in. I have seeds for dwarf runner beans (including some very funky yellow ones, which I´m quite excited about). We´ll definitely put some radishes in as they grow so quickly, and then some lettuces as choices here in the shops locally are mainly limited to lettuce hearts or iceberg.
Last year a neighbour gave us some little cucumber plants which he had grown from seeds of his previous year´s crop. They went crazy and we had loads of delicious little cucumbers all summer long. We took his advice and saved the seeds from one cucumber which we let grow fat and sad looking. We planted them 5 days ago, and despite Big Man being convinced that nothing would come of them, this morning we found lots of little sprouts…we´re so proud!
Our artichokes continue to flourish, but we will put some new plants in this year as the current ones are now three years old and getting tired.
Our tomatoes, peppers and aubergines have taken root well.
Big Man hates aubergines (or eggplants) with a passion. I, on the other hand, adore them. Sometimes I sneak them into dishes without telling him and he cant always tell. I love Melanzane Alla Parmigiana, and make this as a treat all to myself so we have planted a little row of them to keep me happy.
And our lovely little lemon tree seems to have found its pace and keeps us supplied with juicy fruit for squeezing over grilled meats, making dressings and slicing into our “sun downers”.
And just to prove that it´s not all about veggies, here´s a gratuitous shot of one of our roses…
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....