Hello there !!
Here we are with another year come around. I have to say, after the trials of 2017 (shared it seems, by just about everybody else) I’m quite happy about it. A wonderful chance to wipe the slate clean, reset ourselves and head of in the direction of where we want to go. For me ? I want a less crazy, let me live and eat a little more simply and more seasonally. And this is the vein in which we are starting out…..
If you happen to live in Australia, then you are almost bound to be over run with zucchini. Tis the season.They grow and double in size overnight, they are prolific, and they’re cheap (because there are so many of them!) and if you turn your back on them, they will take over. They are something I can grow, but also my little market garden stall is almost giving them away. Now beyond Zucchini Fritters (Wholefood for Children), Zucchini and Sultana Loaf (Wholefood for Children), stuffed zucchini and the ever brilliant Zucchini Slice (made famous by the Australian Womens Weekly, but to which I add heaps of other veggies), this bake is a super simple (meaning crazy easy and oh so quick) and wildly delicious option.If you are into raw zucchini noodles, then now is the time and place (not in the dead of winter) – now is their time to shine and zoodle like there’s no tomorrow. But, back to our bake… it’s a mish – mash of two things – Mum’s tomato pie (tomato, onion, breadcrumbs, dot butter on top) that we always had in summer with a roast, and the classic Tian of summer vegetables.
But, in truth the whole dish started when I discovered that the red onions I’d planted, and thought were not a great success, apparently got it all together and became big fat bulbs of oniony goodness. I also had a glut of tomatoes courtesy of my niece, and said zucchinis. When I cut into those onions, oh my they were just begging for a bit of heat so those sugars could caramelise up and become something quite stupendous.
So before I get to the recipe, there is one super important thing that makes the world of difference. The dish. A tian (a bit like a gratin) is all about the dish. It needs to be shallow – and classically shapes outward (this helps the juices reduce and become oh so good) you can see that clearly in the dish I used. But you need something that is going to get hot. I mean really hot. My preference is for cast iron, and failing that enamel coasted tin. What this does is caramelise the vegetables and the juices along the edges, which totally changes the flavour. So in a few words, if you can – shallow, sides flanging outwards, enamel coated tin or cast iron.
This would make a brilliant lunch with a green salad and some good cheese (goat preferably) if desired. Or perhaps a wonderful bean salad. It makes a great partner for a meat or fish main too. It begs for a glass of great reddish wine. It is totally not averse to pesto (Coming Home to Eat or Wholefood for Children), or a tapenade (I would suggest the Arame Tapenade from Wholefood From the Ground Up) – all in all it is a plant focused winner and workhorse. I hope you love it as much as I do….
I wish you a wonderful 2018, filled with good things, and if trials come along the fortitude and ability to bear them, quiet moments filled with calm and satisfaction. May there also be much joy and deliciousness at your table and in your life.
Until next time… x Jude
PS….Seasonality and what to cook with all that produce is a big theme for me this year, and a focus of my newsletter. If you’d like to join me there, I’d love to share it with you…. you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.
All these gorgeous photos ©Harriet Harcourt
Mama Lucie Tomatoes Ready For the Oven (above), with Green Zebra and Generic Reds added (below)
Annie’s Wedding Cake Trial Testing
I thought I’d catch you up with what’s been happening in my kitchen of late… my daughter Nessie has been making the most of the late summer tomatoes from our garden (you can see how pretty they look above – the red onion, garlic and herbs are all ours too), supplemented with a box of bought ones (the red ones above). I bought a new book at the beginning of summer River Cottage Handbook No.2 – Preserves, by Pam Corbin. Interestingly enough, about the same time I had bought it (and was loving it), Heidi Swanson on 101.cookbooks.com was loving it also – you can read about that here. I was in Preserving mode, and thought I’d try the Roasted Tomato Passata – it was brilliant, and easy. I played with the recipe a bit, but it’s such an easy way to get a great concentrated, gorgeous flavour as a result. Good on you Pam Corbin.
My neice Anne is getting married in April, and I’m lucky enough to be doing the wedding cake. Obviously we had to test, so with the bride to be, bridesmaid, my best friend, daughter Nessie, cousin Jo and Sophie, we got together for the task at hand … it is a layering of hazlenut genoise, hazlenut meringue, chocolate ganache, white chocolate butter-cream and raspberries, all iced with white chocolate butter-cream. The colours are earth based colours from Dancing Deer that I am lucky enough to have bought back from the U.S – all in all, the verdict was DELICIOUS!!! It will ultimately be a 3 layered cake.
The recipe is really too simple, and I’m going to describe it rather than list it in a traditional recipe format.
Take your tomatoes, cut them into good size chunks, leave small cherries whole. Add to a roasting dish, do not, repeat, do not crowd them – they will steam rather than roast. Have a hot oven – about 190c, sprinkle them with a bit of salt, add some onion (I’ve used red for some batches, and shallots for another as that’s what I had), 2 – 3 cloves garlic left whole. Sprinkle with a little (tiny bit) of rapadura sugar, or a bit of apple juice concentrate, and a good lug of olive oil. Massage that all in gently, sprinkle with herbs, though Nessie likes lots of herbs. Roast for about 1 hour or until the skin is a bit wrinkly and some are nicely coloured. Remove and let sit until cool, then go along and slip off the skin and discard. Use as much of the herbs as you want, and discard what you don’t.. add everything to the food processor or mouli and process. You should now have a delicious, thick tomato passata.
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- Meals from my Garden
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- Seasonal Cooking
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- Sustainable Fish
- Wedding Cake
- Whole and Natural Foods Chef Training
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