Category Archives: Veg of the Month

October and November Veg of the Month: Pumpkin and Squash

We’ve had quite a harvest of pumpkins and squash this year and they should see us through to spring next year, if they’re able to keep good that long. Such fun veggies to grow and easy too. I rarely watered the plants nor gave them any attention at all past the seedling stage, and they happily brought themselves up and just got on with it, fruiting gloriously all over the patch. If only my children were as easy! And like everything here they’re totally organic. A wonderful veggie to grow for a beginner, albeit you do need quite a bit of space…and dare I say it, sunshine.

Pumpkin Tower

They also happen to be one of my favourite veggies to cook with, being so incredibly versatile as they are. Virtually every dinner  or snack has some form of squash or pumpkin in these days at Chez Foti, even the cakes and muffins!. My Chocolate Pumpkin Cake is always a big hit with the littlies, both to bake and eat. And the fact that it contains one of your five-a-day is a happy bonus. Jamie’s delightful recipe for Butternut Squash Muffins with a Frosty Top have also proved popular as are my savoury Pumpkin, Cheese & Red Onion Muffins.

Chocolate  Pumpkin Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Butternut, or flavoursome pumpkin, make a wonderful tart too, especially when combined with a little salty cheese like feta, Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme. And it’s equally as tasty on a pizza, I’ve made several of The Garden Deli’s Autumn Pizzas now, and this has to be one of my favourite pizza combinations ever now, thanks Sarah!.

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Pine Nuts and Thyme

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Pine Nuts & Thyme

Obviously you can make super soups with pumpkins and squash though I’ve yet to experiment with any new recipes this year. Last year I blogged the simple Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup then paired it up with a little bacon for my Pumpkin & Bacon Soup and Chorizo for one of my favourite soups ever in my Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo CroutonsI recently made a fabulous and health inducing Roasted Pumpkin Mulligatawny Soup, thanks to a recipe I chanced upon from Gastrogeek.

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons

This magical duo also go superbly well in a curry, one of my favourite recipes being a veggie curry I blogged last year, Aloo Gobi Kaddu (Potato, Cauliflower and Pumpkin Curry). I also happened upon a wonderful recipe from my beloved Mr HFW for a very tasty Butternut Squash Curry which I’ve now made a couple of times. It’s also a fab veg to add to a stir fry, squidging down and soaking up the flavours, and has been happily added to my Noodles with Pork & Veggies  recipe many a time. I also have my eye on trying Shabby Chick’s Noodles with Squash, Chard & Prawns some day soon.

Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry

Aloo Gobi Kaddu, Potato Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin and squash are a fabulous base vegetable for most stews and casseroles, adding a subtle sweetness which my kids particularly favour, one of their favourites being my recently blogged Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew and last years Pork, Pepper & Pumpkin StewI also add plenty of finely diced pumpkin to my Cottage Pie and Kids Bolognese recipes, loving the way it melts down into the sauce.

Chicken, Borlotti & Pumpkin Stew

Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Stew

And if this isn’t enough cucurbitas in your diet, then you can always happily add them to many a pasta dish too!. Favourites in the Chez Foti household happen to be Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese and Pumpkin CarbonaraAnd then there’s always risottos, my Butternut & Sage Risotto recipe will be coming shortly.

Pumpkin Carbonara

Pumpkin Carbonara

I’ve also been serving up pumpkin or squash as a veggie side dish to a sunday roast. Either chunked and roasted with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper or with a pinch of cumin and coriander too. Pumpkin’s also totally divine roasted with a few bacon lardons and sage.

And don’t forget the glorious seeds and skin. Both squash and pumpkin seeds can be roasted in a frying pan or the oven with just a smear of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Great tossed into a salad or served as a snack with drinks. After watching Nigel Slater recently I’ve started roasting off strips of Butternut skin to make lovely freebie crisps, and also noted Shabby Chick’s Pumpkin Crisps blog.

Other squashy ideas that have grabbed my attention are Fishfingers for Tea’s Butternut Squash Falafel recipe, which no doubt would go very well with the Roasted Pumpkin Hummus that I made last year (and should really get around to blogging!), and Lavender and Lovage’s Roast Pumpkin Salad with Panchetta, Grana Padano & Pumpkin Seeds. And I couldn’t not mention Anneli of Delicioux’s Super, Sexy, Strange: Spaghetti Squash recipes. I can’t wait to get my hands on one!

Well that’s it for this month’s round up, other than to say PLEASE do have a look at the fabulous array of squash and pumpkinie recipes in October’s  One Ingredient Challenge and We Should CocoaPrepare to be amazed! And my December Veg of the Month is the humble Parsnip, and we’ve got quite a few of those to get through too at Chez Foti. I’d love to hear of your favourite recipes to try out!,

Louisa

August & September Veg of the Month: The Tomato

July Veg of the Month: The Courgette

June Veg of the Month: Swiss Chard

The first pumpkin of the year!

The first pumpkin of the year!

Chez Foti Pumpkins and Squash

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August and September Veg of the Month: The Tomato

There’s been no getting away from the summer of tomatoes at Chez Foti. A ridiculous amount. An obscene amount for a family of four. At my last count there were 72 plants, with self-seeded newbies appearing every day all over the plot, like some tomatoey horror B movie. I need to stop counting them! They’ve taken over my life these last few months with many an evening spent chopping, blanching, saucing, souping, chutneying or drying. Chez Foti’s been a bit of a tomato processing plant at times. The new and especially purchased chest freezer is now full to the brim. But luckily the harvest’s finally starting to subside, and will totally subside when the frosts start, probably very soon. And then it’ll all be over, bar a mountain of green tomatoes, until next year. And next year, mark my words, I will not be growing so many. No where near as many.

Of all the veggies (or indeed fruits) to have a glut of, tomatoes have to be the most versatile and useful, and can handily be cooked down to make all manner of wonderful sauces and soups to bring out all year round. And believe me I’ve made a few!. Here’s my favourite recipes for a glut:  A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces (so useful to store in the freezer for pasta or pizza sauces), Homemade Sun Dried Tomatoes (I urge you try to these if you’ve a few tommies going spare, they’re truly sublime beyond sublime!), One Pot Ratatouille (can handily be frozen too). I’ve also been making many a tommie soup, though as yet haven’t blogged any recipes. One of my favourite recipes is Felicity Cloake’s Perfect Tomato Soup from the Guardian website. To be honest I reckon most people would struggle to beat this recipe, it’s totally the most perfect tommie soup you could wish to eat, aside from Heinz obviously.

Homemade Sun Dried Tomatoes

A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces

One Pot Ratatouille

Tomatoes have featured in pretty much every evening meal we’ve eaten at Chez Foti over the summer. And indeed many a breakie (tommies on toast!) and many a lunch (think soups, sandwiches, salads, tarts). Here’s my favourite dinner time tommie treats: Garden Pasta, Spaghetti alla Puttenesca with Fresh Tomatoes, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, A Couple of Tomato Tarts, Roasted Veggie Lasagne, Couscous with Roasted Veggies & Feta, Cheese, Tomato & Courgette Bread & Butter Pudding.

Garden Pasta with Griddled Courgettes, Cherry Tomatoes & Feta

Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

As for the umteem of tomatoey salads dished up at Chez Foti, we’ve been munching our way through many a simple Tomato & Red Onion Salad through to my favourite Greek Salad and Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Salad a plenty. Then there’s been the lightly more sophisticated Salad Nicoises and Roasted Tomato Salads and I’ve regularly thrown in a few homemade Sun Dried Tomatoes to liven up a plain green salad.

I’ve been pretty busy trying out fellow blogger’s tomatoey recipes too. There’s been the delicious Stuffed Tomatoes with Herbs and Oats from Karen @ Lavender and Lovage, I’ve now made these many an evening. I’ve also been baking and stuffing tomatoes with pork or lamb mince and just a simple and divine oozy goats cheese (thanks to Mr Nigel Slater!). Mr F’s is a huge fan of stuffed tomatoes in any form, so he’s one happy husband these days!.

Lavender and Lovage’s Beef, Herb & Oat Stuffed Tommies

I’ve been making several loaves of Kitchen Ninja’s delicious Tomato, Courgette & Basil Bread which is oh so perfect with tommie soup. I urge you make this!. The Tomato Gratin from Laura @ How to Cook Good Food is wonderful, served simply with some fresh french bread on the side, as is the heavenly Goats Cheese & Oven-Dried Tomato Pappardelle from Keith @ Reluctant Housedad. And I have to mention the divine tomatoey heaven of Vanesther’s  Slow Roasted Tomato & Oregano Pizza from the award winning Bangers and Mash Chat blog. Last but not least I have to mention the deeeelicious Tomato Relish from A Wee Bit of Cooking, just perfect with my Barbecue Burgers or even in a cheese sandwich (goats cheese in particular!).

A Wee Bit of Cooking’s Tomato Relish

So that’s it for my rather long Tomato Veg of the Month round up blog. Believe me I still have a list of tomatoey recipes as long as my arm to make, blog or try and I haven’t been nearly as inventive as I’d wanted to, but time as usual has got the better of me. It’s been a hectic couple of months of school holidays, holidays to the UK and rentree back to school (for both littlies, eek!). I’m hoping though to bring a few more tomato treats to you before they’re finished for the year (and even then I’ve an entire freezer full to blog about!). I narrowly missed entering July’s One Ingredient Tomato Challenge (held jointly by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and Nazima at London Working Mummy) waiting for mine to ripen, but there’s a whole host of wonderful recipes to try, and wonderful blogs to peruse.

October’s all about the squash and pumpkin.…as we’ve more than a few of those too! I’d love to hear your favourite uses, ideas and recipes.

Did you catch my other Veg of the Months? July Veg of the Month: The Courgette, June Veg of the Month: Swiss Chard.

Louisa

Felicity Cloake’s Perfect Tomato Soup with Kitchen Ninja’s Courgette & Tomato Bread


July Veg of the Month: The Courgette

It comes as no surprise that this month’s Chez Foti ‘Veg of the Month’ is the far from humble Courgette. Since my first picking of one on the 21st of June we’ve chomped our way through a considerable number (I’d love to know how many) and in quite an array of meals…and cakes! Barely a meal’s gone by without some sort of courgettie addition or side. It’s a good job I love them so much, which is more than can be said for my husband (his loving or rather non-loving of courgettes I meant). Though I should point out that considering he isn’t exactly their number one fan he’s been exceptionally tolerant of the whole Courgette Situation.

As I said in earlier blogs I didn’t intend to have NINE plants, I was aiming at four, but there was some sort of mix up in the seed planting. Luckily we’ve had people staying most of the last month who’ve helped in the Courgette Cause and I’ve also managed to palm quite a few off on any unsuspecting dropper-byers. So we’re almost on top of the situation, at least for now.

Courgettes are a virgin veggie growers dream. Easy to germinate,  quick-growing (though maybe not this year in the waterlogged UK), free from most diseases and pests and extremely fruitful. Give them a go, you won’t be disappointed.

Courgettes are so incredibly versatile in the kitchen and a wonder veg to cook with. And this last month I’ve certainly challenged their versatility to the max in the Chez Foti kitchen. They’ve been liberally adding to many a gorgeously fragrant Thai Green Curry (they really do work amazingly well in all curries), Ratatouile (recipe soon!), Risottos, Paella, various Omelettes and Tortillas, each and every Stir Fry I’ve made, an assortment of pasta dishes including Courgette & Sausage Carbonara (and also with bacon), my Garden Pasta (recipe coming shortly) and Courgette & Pesto Pasta.

Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

The 3 Cs, Chicken, Courgette & Chard Thai Green Curry

Courgettes have also featured in all our Barbecues (and we’ve been having quite a few this month), they’ve been dipped in lemon, olive oil, sea salt & pepper and barbecued (or on the stove in a griddle pan) in strips as a veggie side or served like this on Bruschetta with Feta & Basil. They’ve been kebabed with other veggies marinated in olive oil and thyme, lemon thyme, oregano or rosemary and made into Veggie Kebabs or Greek Stylie Pork Kebabs.

Veggie Kebabs, marinaded in olive oil, a little lemon & Lemon Thyme

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

The neglected ones have been successfully utilised in my 70s Throwback Stuffed Marrow and when we got really bored of eating them they were amazing in Nigella’s Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd and Lemon Frosting. The kids have loved them in Mamacook’s Courgette & Feta Bites (actually so’ve we, three batches made so far!) which are great for lunches, picnics or afternoon snacks. They’ve even been enjoyed raw in Bangers & Mash Chat’s Courgette & Oregano Flower Salad (quite the prettiest salad I’ve ever eaten) and in HFW’s Curried Courgette Salad (actually I ate this at a friend’s house and I must get the exact recipe).

Mamacook’s Courgette & Feta Bites

Bangers & Mash Chat’s Courgette & Oregano Flower Salad, though hers was considerably prettier than mine!

With so many guests staying this month I actually haven’t got around to trying half as many recipes that I wanted to so here’s a few more ideas that I’m hoping to make before the courgette season’s out. Firstly there’s It’s Well Seasoned’s Lemon Courgette & Minted Feta Salad which I’ve been meaning to make for weeks, Kitchen Ninja’s Courgette Bread (actually Zucchini Bread, it’s American) that sounds divine, Riverford’s Chocolate Courgette Cake (from my Riverford Farm Cookbook), a Feta & Courgette Filo Pie that my mum’s been making for years from Bill Sewell’s From the Place Below book, Fried Courgette Flowers (in the two years since taking up gardening people have ALL asked me if I’ve tried making them, I MUST MUST do it!). Last but most certainly not least I’m seriously considering making Marrow Rum, though as it takes a year in the making could be a serious test of my normally-lacking patience!

So that’s it for this month’s round up, but I’d love to hear your favourite courgette recipes, ideas and uses. I’m certain we’ll be having plenty more courgettes yet this summer and I’m always game to find new and exciting ways of using them!. Whether I’ll still be married by the end of the summer is however not so certain 😉

My August Veg of the Month is to be the Tomato. With 58 plants (cherries, beef and plums) all fruiting I’ll be needing your help in Project Tomato!. Please share with me your recipes and I’ll gladly try to make them over the course of the month.

Thanking you kindly for all the courgettie inspiration!

Louisa

June Veg of the Month: Swiss Chard

I thought I’d end on a sweet note with this extroadinarily moist Courgette Cake


June Veg of the Month: Swiss Chard

As my veggie patch, or potager as they’re known here in France, is coming into its full glorified bloom and all my hard work’s paying off with a freebie larder of veritable goodies, I’ve decided to start something new on the blog, A Veg of the Month round up. Each month I’ll be choosing my most prolific in season veggie and blogging all the ways I’ve used and cooked with it, and asking readers to contribute their own recipes and ideas. This month I’ve chosen the humble yet magnificent Swiss Chard, not the most obvious choice for a June veggie I know, but along with the more popular spinach it’s been one of the first abundant veggie’s of the season at Chez Foti.

It’s a fabulously easy veg to grow, readily germinates, takes up relatively little space, seems to require little or no additional watering, grows quickly and profusely with individual plants lasting up to a staggering 18 months (and mine have) and is pretty darned hardy to boot!

Interestingly it’s been a veggie generally unknown to most folk, myself included, apart from the allotmenteers and grow their owners, until the recent advent in popularity of the organic veg box schemes. Being such an easy crop to grow it’s no wonder it’s became a regular feature of the boxes. Chard is also a particularly heathy green leafy veg having high levels of vitamins A, K and C, and rich in minerals, dietary fibre and protein.

Freshly picked chard and the first potatoes of the year

Not only is it my wonder veg to grow it’s fabulously versatile in the kitchen too, and can be used a lot like spinach. The leaves can be picked young and small and eaten whole and raw in salads (which admittedly I have yet to do, as they seem to grow so quickly here!). Or they can be left to mature and the leaves separated from the stems. The stems are a little like celery and require slicing and cooking for a few minutes longer than the green leaves which are pretty much the same as spinach (though with a wee bit more oomph in the flavour department).

As a veggie side chard is great sautéed for a few brief minutes in garlic and plenty of olive oil, adding a wee squeeze of lemon and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper at the end. Throwing in a tinned anchovy or two with the garlic and/or a finely sliced chilli works a treat; chard takes particularly well to strong salty flavours.

Last week I made a delightful Chard & Broad Bean risotto (using my recipe for Lemon, Pea & Asparagus Risotto but switching the veggies). Earlier in the month I made Ewan Mitchell’s Pasta with Chard which provided us a very tasty mid-week supper in minutes.

A very successful mid-week supper of Pasta & Chard

And I spiced it up in a wonderful Chochori, a Chard and Potato Curry courtesy of Nisha Katona’s Curry in a Hurry video. I’ve also added it shredded (at the last minute) to Frugal Feeding’s fabulously aromatic Slow Cooked Beef Curry and my own Prawn Thai Green Curry (recipe to follow).

A wonderfully spiced Swiss Chard & Potato Curry

I’ve been adding Chard a plenty to my Chicken, Egg and Veggie Fried Rice or more often than not ditching the meat for a vegetarian freebie alternative (which the kids adore equally), throwing bundles of it into Pork & Noodle Stir Fries (and again various meat free versions), Kids Bolognese and Super-Vegged up Chillies. It’s also been a welcome green in many a soup, including my Cream of Veggie Souper Soup and Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup) and blitzed into a super nutritious Kids 5-a-day Pasta Sauce.

Noodles with Pork & Veggies

So that’s it for my first ever Veg of the Month Round-Up. Feel free to join me in my celebration of the Chard Wonder Veg with your comments, ideas or recipes! I think we’ll be having chard in surplus supply for a good while yet so I’m looking forward to trying out some new ideas.


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