Tag Archives: Courgette

Halloumi and Roasted Veggie Kebabs

Halloumi Kebabs

We’re truly in the throws of one hot summer here. And for once the UK seems to be matching the glorious South of France climate too, hooray …. but please may it last through to August when I shall be descending on the homeland to, fingers crossed, bask in the delights of an English summer for the first time in many years!. Unlikely, but one can live in hope.

I’d like to say the fabulous weather has brought on a spate of barbecues at Chez Foti but to be honest there simply hasn’t been the time with everything else that’s going on. But we did manage a lovely one last Saturday with an assortment of Kebabs, Satay Sticks and Salads. Very much enjoyed by all and both kids happily munched away.

I LOVE Halloumi on a barbie and it makes for a fab veggie kebab. And as I recently discovered my kids like it too it’s sure to become a bit of a regular round here, though they’ll have a fight on their hands for it with me! Since Halloumi doesn’t take long to ‘cook’, more like brown, I suggest you either bbq it with quick-to-cook veggies like cherry tomatoes, finely sliced courgette ribbons and mushrooms OR like me with a pre-roasted selection of slightly longer-to-cook veggies, namely red peppers, aubergine and thickly cut courgette. Obviously the roasted veggies can be prepped in advance, so all you need to do pre-barbie is thread them with the Halloumi on to skewers.

fsf-summerCooking-with-HerbsSeeing as I’m hosting this month’s Four Seasons Food with a Barbecue and Barbecue Side theme I shall of course be entering this post! Also to Karen’s Cooking with Herbs Challenge.

Roasted Veggie & Halloumi Kebabs

Halloumi & Roasted Veggie Kebabs

Great for Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Barbecues, Barbecues Sides, Outdoor Eating, Vegetarians

Notes: Feel free to vary your choice of veggies as to what you have in, or your kids will eat

Makes 6 – 8 Kebabs Sticks

1 small courgette

½ aubergine

1 red pepper

1 white or red onion, large

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt & pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon oregano leaves, roughly chopped

1 pack Halloumi cheese, 225g or 250g

Pre-soaked bamboo kebab sticks or metal skewers

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

2. Slice the courgette into 6/7mm slices and cut the pepper and aubergine into similar sized chunks. Cut the onion in half, then each half into quarters. Half each of the quarters and separate the layers to roughly match the thickness of the veggies.

3. Place all the veggies in a roasting tray. Stir in a tablespoon of the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper (go easy on the salt for littlies). Bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes.

4. Mix the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon and oregano in a bowl big enough to easily house all the veggies.

5. After 20 minutes remove the veggies from the oven and place in the bowl with the marinade. Ensure they have an even coating and leave to marinate until you’re almost ready to barbecue.

6. Cut your Halloumi into similar sized chunks to the veggies.

7. When you’re ready to barbecue thread the veggies and Halloumi onto your pre-soaked bamboo sticks or metal skewers, alternating between each component.

8. Cook the kebabs on a hot barbecue (or under a hot grill) for 4 to 5 minutes turning frequently. The cheese should be golden.

One very excited wee boy about the prospect of a barbie!

Jacques for once without a silly face. But very excited about the prospect of his forthcoming barbie fodder!

Roasted Veggie & Halloumi Kebabs

Never much time to snap a photo before little hands start grabbing!

You might also like:

Griddled Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta

Griddled Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta

One Pot Ratatouille

One Pot Ratatouille

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Roasted Tomato and Feta Risotto

Roasted Tomato Risotto

This was actually a fabulously tasty dinner borne out a random fridge emptying operation!. You know those times when there doesn’t appear to be anything too interesting and you rustle up what there is anyway, and hope for the best. And actually it was really rather good and has since been made a couple of times, and not just when I’m in fridge clearing mode! What’s more the kids ate it, Jacques in the main because it contained an ample amount of his beloved olives (especially taking into account his sister’s discarded ones), and Francesca who claims to not like tomatoes happily ate these sweet roasted ones. Result. And us big people loved it too, so a perfect family dinner all in all.

Jacques eating Roasted Tomato Risotto

One happy Jacques with his olivey risotto!

To be fair I probably wouldn’t be feeding this risotto to an Italian or Risotto Aficionado. I mean feta in a risotto?. It’s all a bit wrong really. But hey this Greek/Italian fusion worked for my lot and interestingly, while I was stirring away, as you do with a risotto, I couldn’t help but think it all looked a bit like a hot greek salad. And besides, since it has no cow’s dairy but sheep’s milk Feta it’s something I can happily give to Jacques who appears to be dairy intolerant.  It’s certainly one of my healthier risottos and a fab way of getting lots of the good stuff into little (and big) tums!

Even Francesca enjoyed it, tommies and all!

Even Francesca enjoyed it, tommies and all!

Simply oven roasted cherry tomatoes (with fresh thyme if you have any), roasting while you make the risotto. Then stirred into a super-healthy risotto of  red pepper, courgette, olives (black or green) and blasphemous Feta cheese. De. Lish. Ous.

Since there’s fresh thyme involved I’m entering this post

Cooking-with-Herbsto Karen of Lavender & Lovage Cooking with Herbs challenge. Also as it was a genuine fridge-clearing concoction to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours and this month by Sian at Fishfingers for Tea. To to Javelin Warriors Made with Love Monday’s event, as this is a made from scratch meal. And finally as tommies are now in season to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season challenge. Phew that’s quite a few entries!Simple and in Season

Made with Love Mondays

Credit-Crunch-Munch

Roasted Tomato & Feta Risotto

Roasted Tomato & Feta Risotto

Great for: Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Risotto Fans, Vegetarians. Not for Risotto Aficionados

Serves: A Family of 4

Total Cook Time: 45 minutes

450g cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt & pepper

a few sprigs fresh thyme. leaves removed

small onion, finely diced

1 small red pepper, cut into fine strips

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

220g arborio risotto rice

large glass white wine

700ml hot vegetable stock, I use Marigold

1 small courgette, diced

60g green or black pitted olives, halved, optional

120g Feta cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat your oven to 200ºC

2. Place the halved cherry tomatoes cut side up on a large roasted tin. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt, black pepper and the thyme leaves. Finally drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the hot oven for 25 minutes.

3. Whilst the tomatoes are roasting, prep the risotto. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Sweat the onion and red pepper strips for 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring every now and again and adding a splash of water if the veggies look a little dry and are sticking.

4. Stir in the garlic and allow to cook for a moment or two before stirring in the risotto rice, ensuring the grains get a good coating of the oil. Poor in the wine and stir.

5. Allow to simmer (uncovered) on a gentle heat until most of the wine has evaporated/absorbed then stir in a ladleful of the hot stock together with the diced courgette and olives (if using). Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of stock every time the last one’s almost absorbed.

6. When the rice is tender stir in the roasted tomatoes, together with any juices from the tray, and the crumbled feta. Place the lid back on the pan and allow the flavours to rest and mingle for a couple of minutes.

7. Taste and season to suit. No added salt for littlies. Serve as is or with a sprinkling of grated fresh Parmesan.

You might also like:

Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Roasted Mushroom Pearl Barley Risotto

Roasted Mushroom Pearl Barley Risotto


Smoked Salmon and Courgette Carbonara

Smoked Salmon & Courgette CarbonaraAs regular readers may know we’re rather partial to a carbonara in our house. In the main because we always have a steady supply of eggs, albeit a dwindling one these days as our ladies are getting quite frankly a bit old. The kids love it and it so happens to be one of the quickiest and tastiest dinners EVER. In essence Carbonara Rocks. And I do love a pasta dish that can be prepared in the time it takes the pasta to cook. We very rarely have the standard bacon and egg version, as ever feeling the compulsion to ‘veg’ things up somewhat. A popular permutation is my Sausage & Courgette Carbonara and in the Autumn a Roasted Pumpkin Carbonara, but for you today I have a pescatarian and seasonal Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara.

swallow-recipes-for-lifeWith Jacques’ adoration of all things smoked salmon and Francesca’s recent approval of it we’ve been eating this quite a bit lately. So when June’s Recipes for Life ingredients were announced to be Salmon, Pasta and Courgette I was delighted to be able to blog another Foti family favourite. To recap on my previous Recipes for Life posts, this is a challenge run by Vanesther of Bangers & Mash on behalf of the Somerset based charity SWALLOW. Each month three ingredients are picked and bloggers are invited to concoct wholesome, easy and tasty dishes that use them.

Simple and in SeasonAs courgettes are now gloriously in season I shall also be entering my recipe to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. And since this is actually a pretty frugal dinner using smoked salmon trimmings to Credit Crunch Munch, co-hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours and Camila of Fab Food 4 All. And this month Anneli over at Delicieux is taking up the hosting.Credit-Crunch-Munch

Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara

Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara

Great for: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Bigger Kids, Growns Ups, Family Dinners, Grown Up Dinners, Quickie Mid-Week Suppers, Carbonara Addicts, Smoked Salmon Fiends (like Jacques – smoked salmon is his new best thing)

Serves: A Family of 4

200g of dried pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 smallish courgettes, sliced lengthways then diced across into 2/3 mm slices

130g smoked salmon trimmings

3 free range eggs, medium

2 tablespoons finely grated Grana Padana or Parmesan cheese

black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Cook the pasta to packet instructions

2. While the pasta’s cooking heat the oil in a (lidded) saucepan and cook the garlic for a minute. Throw in the diced courgette and give everything a good stir. Place the lid on and allow the courgette to sweat for the time it takes your pasta to cook. Stir every now and again and add a splash of water if they’re looking a little dry.

3. While the courgettes and pasta are cooking, lightly whisk together the eggs, then stir in the cheese and a generous pinch of black pepper. Set aside.

4. Once your pasta’s cooked and drained and the courgettes are soft combine them both together and stir through the egg and cheese mix, together with the lemon juice. But don’t put the pan back on the heat or your eggs will scramble!. What you want is lovely glossy eggy coating.

5. Taste and season with more black pepper and/or lemon juice.

Smoked Salmon & Courgette Carbonara Recipe

You might also like:

Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone

Garden Pasta with griddled courgettes, cherry tomatoes & feta

Garden Pasta with griddled courgettes, cherry tomatoes & feta


A Couple of Summer Crostini for the Four Seasons Food Challenge!

Summer Crostini Recipes

I’m a huge fan of Crostini and Bruschetta, well anything tasty on toast to be honest. Little niblets of loveliness to gobble down between sups of vin blanc on balmy summer evenings (of which admittedly we’ve had precisely one so far this year!). And they don’t just have to be for grown ups, Jacques in particularly gets very excited about crostini, though Francesca’s a little more cautious, as ever. Whenever we have friends over I can’t resist a few toasty offerings and these are my favourite toppings of the moment.

Firstly a Wild Garlic and Cannellini Bean Crostini, a simple mix of cannellini beans, lemon zest and juice, a small bunch of wild garlic leaves and bulbs , a little green chili, olive oil and seasoning. Plus a sprinkling of parsley to finish. No cooking (bar the crostini toasts) just a simple assembly job. And it so happens to double as a deliciously morish dip, which I find requires considerable restraint to not polish off in a single session.

Secondly there’s my now-favourite topping of all time. Homemade Pesto, Lemony Griddled Courgettes and Feta Crostini. Admittedly this is a little more faffy, but so so worth the effort. And exceptionally crowd pleasing to all ages and tastes. And since all the elements (like the Cannellini Crostini) can be made in advance you don’t have to be faffing when your guests arrive.

fsf-summerI shall, of course, be entering this post to my brand new Four Seasons Food blogging Simple and in Seasonchallenge, co-hosted my myself and Anneli of Delicieux. This month Anneli’s hosting and the theme’s Summer Outdoor Nibbles and Picnics. Cooking-with-HerbsAnd as the ingredients are all in season to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. And last but most certainly not least to Lavender and Lovage’s lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge.

Cannellini Beans & Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic & Cannellini Bean Crostini

Great for: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids, grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians, wild garlic foragers, dipping

Notes: Substitute the wild garlic for a crushed clove of cultivated garlic if you can’t forage or source

1 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 lemon, plus a generous squeeze of juice

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 small bunch of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped or 1 clove of cultivated garlic, crushed

½ green chili, finely chopped, optional

salt and pepper

1 dessertspoon finely chopped parsley for the top

crostini toasts – see recipe here

1. Simply mix together the beans, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, garlic, chili (if using) and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. If you’re making for little people avoid the chili (unless they like it) and salt.

2. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt or pepper to suit.

3. Serve spooned onto crostini with a little chopped parsley on top or as a dip with crudités or breadsticks.

Summer Crostini Toppings

Homemade Pesto, Lemony Griddled Courgettes and Feta Crostini:

Great for: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids (though Jacques at three adores these!), grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians, courgette growers, pesto fiends

Notes: This recipe makes enough for about 12 crostini, feel free to substitute the homemade pesto with shop bought, but homemade is a cinch to make and truly sublime on this recipe, particularly parsley pesto (made with any sort of nut)

Special Equipment: A griddle pan or heavy based frying pan

1 large or 2 small courgettes, washed

2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil

½ lemon, juiced

salt and pepper

12 crostini toasts – see recipe here

2 – 3 tablespoons of homemade parsley pesto, or you could make your own recipe using these mix ‘n match ideas

100g of feta cheese, crumbled

1. Slice across the courgettes into diagonal 2mm thick strips

2. Heat a griddle pan or heavy frying pan until very hot

3. Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

4. Fill the hot pan with a single layer of courgette slices and cook for a minute or two on each side until char-grilled. Remove the slices from the pan and place in the bowl with the oil and lemon mix.

5. Continue with more courgette slices until they’re all fully cooked and charred. Stir them all around in the bowl with the olive oil and lemon, cover and set aside to marinate until you’re ready to assemble the crostini.

6. When you’re ready for crostini assembly take each crostini and spread on a generous layer of pesto. Top with a small pile of the courgettes and finish with a crumbling of feta.

7. Serve. Eat. Divine with vin blanc.

Summer Crostini Recipes

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade

A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade


A very retro Sweet ‘n Sour Pork

Sweet & Sour Pork Recipe

So we’re now in the third month of the Swallow Recipes for Life Challenge and the chosen three ingredients were a potentially tricky Pork, Sweetcorn and Tomato. I have to admit to pondering for quite some time before coming up with my Retro-tastic Sweet & Sour recipe. And my sincere apologies now for the absence of any authenticity, and if you’re likely to be offended please look no further!. But I can nevertheless assure you it’s a pretty tasty dinner.

Admittedly not a dish I’m usually a big fan of, and I’m always a bit sniffy of the take-away version, but this homemade recipe was a bit of a hit in the Chez Foti household. The kids happily chowed down and successfully consumed a healthily pleasing quota of veggies, but then anything inclusive of fruit and/or sweetcorn and served with rice is usually onto a winner with them. I really should confess to very much enjoying it myself too, way more than I thought I would, though I did perk mine up somewhat with an additional (very) hot chili. And it proved a delightful and worthy use of the very last of my Homemade Tomato Ketchup.

swallow-recipes-for-lifeJust in case you missed the earlier challenges, the lovely Vanesther of Bangers and Mash Chat has tasked fellow bloggers to come up with wholesome, delicious and easy-to-cook recipes using three key ingredients, that members of the Swallow cookery club can cook themselves. Swallow is a Somerset based charity that help adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives, including the running of cookery courses and the preparation of meals for themselves.

Sweet & Sour Pork

Sweet & Sour Pork

Great for: Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Tomato Ketchup Fans, Family Dinners, Grown Ups, Mid-Week Suppers, Retro Foodies

Enough for a Family of 4:

For the Sauce:

a 227g tin of Pineapple Slices in Natural Juice, drained and juice retained, slices cut into chunks

a level tablespoon of Cornflour

2 tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup, Homemade or bought

2 tablespoons of Soy Sauce

2 tablespoons of Chinese Rice Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar

a dessertspoon of Honey

For the Stir Fry:

2 tablespoons of Groundnut or Sunflower Oil

300g of lean Pork loin or fillet, cut into fine inch long strips

a small Onion, diced

a Carrot, sliced into very fine inch long strips

a Red Pepper, large dice

a clove of Garlic, finely sliced

a thumb sized piece of Ginger, grated or finely chopped

0 – 2 Red Chillies, finely sliced (depending on your heat tolerance)

a Courgette, sliced into inch long strips

a 150g tin of Sweetcorn (or you could use a handful of Baby Sweetcorn)

Start with prepping your sauce. Mix the cornflour with all the retained pineapple juice, then stir in each of the other ingredients. Set aside.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large sauce pan to a very high temperature. Carefully add the pork to the hot fat and cook for a two or three minutes, moving the pork around regularly so it cooks on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Into the hot pan add a further tablespoon of oil and carefully add the onion, carrot, red pepper, garlic, ginger and chillies (if using). Cook for three minutes on a very high heat, continuously moving everything around. If the veggies are sticking to the pan throw in a splash of water. Stir in the courgette and continue to c0ok for a further three minutes.

Finally stir in the set aside pork strips, pineapple chunks, sweetcorn and the sauce. Stirring regularly allow to bubble away for a few minutes and take off the heat when you have your desired state of veggie tenderness. I personally prefer a healthy crunch to mine but the kids favour their’s a little on the softer side. So I settle for somewhere in the middle.

Chow down with noodles or steamed rice. Maybe a cheeky prawn cracker or three on the side.

Sweet & Sour Pork

You might also like:

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

Noodles with Pork & Veggies

Noodles with Pork & Veggies


Double Rocket Pizza!

Rocket Pizza

Oh I’m so into this pizza these days, it’s a really tasty little gem and one of the finest veggie pizzas that I can recommend. And handily happens to satisfy my current lust (or obsession) for all things pesto. As regular readers will well know I’ve been on a bit of a pesto bender lately trying out many a permutation of the goodly green stuff. If you didn’t catch them there was my Pic n’ Mix Pesto and Stilton, Parsley & Walnut Pesto blog and the earlier Parsley and Almond one too.

Rocket Pesto happens to be up there with my favourites, made fairly classically with a couple of large handfuls of fresh peppery Rocket, lightly toasted Pine Kernels, Parmesan, Garlic, Olive Oil, plenty of Black Pepper and a handsome squeeze or two of Lemon Juice. Wonderful on pasta, but even more sublime smothered on a homemade pizza base then topped with fine slices of Courgette and crumbled Feta, baked and finished off with a scattering of fresh rocket and a drizzle of good olive oil. Oh joy. And just what I need to set things right at the end of yet another topsy-turvy day, of which seem to be happening way too frequently these days! But more on that in a later blog….

Rocket Pesto Recipe

You could obviously use any variation of homemade or shop bought pesto for this pizza, you don’t have to stick with the rocket. But as per all my other homemade pesto blogs, if you’ve never made your own pesto then I urge you to try. It’s ridiculously quick and easy. And you’ll never ever buy another jar again.

Presuming that Rocket is considered a herb (?) I’m most delighted to be entering my Rocket Pizza to Karen of Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday event. And as my pizza’s a made from scratch munch to Javelin Warrrior’s Made with Love Mondays challenge.

herbsonsaturday

Made with Love MondaysDouble Rocket Pizza

Double Rocket Pizza with Courgette & Feta

Great for Pizza Nights, Girly Nights In, Bigger Kids and Grown Ups, Family Suppers, Week-end Slowies, Vegetarians, Pesto Fiends

For the Rocket Pesto (Enough for 2 pizzas or 4 servings with pasta):

80g of Rocket, washed and dried

a clove of Garlic, finely chopped

40g of Pine Kernels, lightly toasted for a few minutes in a dry frying pan

40g of Parmesan, finely grated

80ml of Olive Oil

a generous squeeze or two of Lemon Juice

Salt & Pepper

For the Pizza (Enough for 2):

One quantity of Pizza Dough, I use Jamie’s recipe

2 tablespoons of Pesto, Homemade Rocket or any other homemade or shop bought

a small Courgette, sliced across to the approx. thickness of a pound coin (or euro)

100g of Feta Cheese

Salt and Pepper

A squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice

a handful of Rocket Leaves and good quality Olive Oil to serve

Special Equipment: a pizza stone, pizza baking sheet or an ordinary baking tray/sheet

For the pesto place all the ingredients bar the salt, pepper and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse a few times. If you don’t have a processor use a deep sided bowl and a stick blender or a pestle and mortar. I prefer a fairly coarse texture so you might not want to go too crazy with the blitzing. Once you have  your desired texture, taste and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to suit.

Pre-heat your oven to the hottest it will go and pop your pizza stone or baking tray in to warm up for a few minutes.

Roll out  the pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on the hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Evenly smother over the pesto, followed by the courgette slices then crumble on the feta. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper plus a generous squeeze of lemon juice.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp and golden. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes and the oven at it’s hottest around 10.

When the dough’s golden and crispy on the underside and the courgettes cooked remove from the oven and scatter over another handful of rocket leaves and drizzle with a little good olive oil.

Slice. Eat. Enjoy. You could  always go Treble Rocket and serve with a Rocket & Parmesan Salad on the side.

And here’s some of my other pizza faves:

Pizza Puttanesca

Pizza Puttanesca

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza

Chorizo, Potato & Rosemary Pizza

Chorizo, Potato & Rosemary Pizza


Courgette Soup with Parsley & Parmesan

There’s certainly still plenty of courgettes and marrows to be getting through at Chez Foti and I’ve now turned to soup making to attempt a dent on the mountain. Without blowing my own trumpet, or courgette, this is the nicest courgette soup I’ve ever tasted. I’ve been making it with both courgettes and marrows or a mixture of the two, and all are equally as successful so just use whatever you have a surplus off. It’s a great recipe for gluts. And if you don’t have a glut, just go halves on the quantities and make a smaller amount.

It’s probably not entirely soup weather yet at Chez Foti, but there’s a definite Autumnal crispness in the air early mornings and evenings, which is pretty welcome after all the heat of July and August. And besides I’m trying to loose a stone by christmas (a ridiculously tall order me thinks but I’m going to give it a whirl anyways) so soups are most definitely on the menu for me these days. Barely a day’s gone by since returning from our jolidays last weekend that I haven’t been busily rustling up some sort of soup or other. And the kids always love them, whatever the weather. By including a fair whack of creme fraiche (albeit I do use a half fat version) and Parmesan (or Grana Padano it’s cheaper cousin) this admittedly is a considerably more indulgent soup than my usual, but is oh so good and worth it. Though if you’re serious about dropping calories it’s still very good without any dairy additions.

I’m entering my recipe to Karen at Lavendar and Lovage’s September Herbs on Saturday blog challenge. I’m feeling rather lucky after I won the August competition with my Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces recipes. My first ever bloggie win!.

Courgette Soup with Parsley & Parmesan

To make 8 servings:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 onions, diced

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 kilos of courgettes or marrows, diced

a litre of chicken or veggie stock

a heaped teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

25g of flat leaved parsley leaves and stalks, roughly chopped

2 heaped tablespoons of creme fraiche, half or full fat

75g of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, finely grated

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stockpot on a medium heat. Throw in the onions and cook for 10 minutes, stirring at intervals. Add the garlic and cook for a moment or two more before tipping in the diced courgettes or marrows.  Cover and allow to sweat for a further 10 minutes, stirring every now and again.

Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 15 minutes until all the veggies are perfectly tender and soft. Once cooked stir in the parsley and take off the heat.

Thoroughly whiz with a stick blender or in a liquidiser or processor; I personally prefer the former as there’s less washing up. Stir in the creme fraiche and Parmesan or Grana Padano. Et voila. Final taste check and you’re done. There shouldn’t be any need to add further salt as there’s plenty in the stock. This makes a pretty thick soup (which I happen to prefer) but can be thinned down to your desired consistency with more stock, milk or water.

How about trying some of my other soupy recipes? Cream of Veggie Super Soup, Pumpkin & Bacon Soup, Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons or Caldo Verde (Portuguese Greens Soup)


Back from our Holidays, and a Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

Well we’re back from our jolidays in the UK, back home to a gloriously hot and sunny September here in France. It’s been a fab time away though and even the weather managed to hold out at it’s best for us. We primarily went for my Big Brother Si’s wedding to Meilee up in Peebles, Scotland (which admittedly was wet and a little on the cold side!) and a fab time was had by all. An amazing hotel (The Cringletie House) and totally stunning food.

Not the most pro or conventional of wedding photies but a fun one of all my family at my Big Bro Si’s wedding, that’s him on the left then my Mum, the bride Meilee, myself (in the flowery dress), Mr F at the back with Master Jacques, my Dad with Miss Frannie, Sis in Law Shelly, and my other brothers Ben and Julian

We also managed to catch up with lots of friends around England that we don’t get to see too often, and had a good few days of chill out time at my Mum and Dads in Herefordshire. Even Mr F came along for the trip, and he really doesn’t ‘do’ holidays or anything that involves leaving Chez Foti really. The doggies and  chickens were left in the good hands of my brother-in-law for the first week then our friend Debbie. A huge thank you to you both for housesitting and leaving us with an impeccably clean and tidy house and happy animals, and to Debbie for the lovely fishcakes and a greengage & blackberry crumble (picked from the garden) to come home to. We really should go away more often!

I hate to say it but the tomatoes are still rather prolific at Chez Foti. Several kilos each and every day. My Tomato Veg of the Month is very much continuing into September, and I’ll be doing a huge round-up at the end of the month…..so there’s still time to forward me your favourite tomatoey recipes to try out. And as for the courgettes/marrows, I thought they were on their way out before we left but clearly not:

Some of my post-holiday Veggie Haul!

Not only has Mr F been warned of our impending vegetarian status for the next few weeks, but I feel it’s only fair the kids do their bit too. My Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding happens to be one of their favourite veggie dinners, and one that they can be expecting to be eat on a pretty regular basis over the next few weeks!. The savory bread and butter pudding is actually an idea I’ve adapted from Annabel Karmel, and seems to be pretty pleasing to most littlies as well as grown up folk. Perfect for a quick to assemble mid-week family supper, or for just the kids.

Cheese, Courgette & Cherry Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding

Toddlers & Y oung Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Grown Ups

Enough for a family of four:

a tablespoon of butter

3 thick large slices of white or wholemeal bread

½ a small red onion

a small courgette

15 cherry tomatoes

90g of mature cheddar cheese, grated

3 eggs, free range

260ml of milk

a heaped teaspoon of dijon mustard

a pinch of black pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.

Start with buttering a small ovenproof dish. Then butter the slices of bread. Cut each of the slices into six to nine pieces.

Prepare the veggies. Finely slice the onion. Cut the courgette into four quarters lengthways, then finely slice. Quarter the cherry tomatoes.

Line the bottom of the buttered dish with half the bread pieces. Follow with a scattering of half the onion, half the courgette slices, half the tomatoes and half the grated cheese. Then repeat with the remainder of the ingredients but not the cheese.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard and pepper. Pour evenly over the pudding. Top with the remaining cheese.

Place in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes until puffed up and golden on the top.


One Pot Ratatouille

Baby Foods & Weaning 7-9 Months plus, Toddlers & Small Children, Older Kids, Grown Ups

We love ratatouille at Chez Foti, and it’s a regular feature on our dinner table throughout the summer. Originally from Provence, it’s a classic Southern French veggie side dish, and made with good quality (preferably organic) tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines it’s utterly delicious and bursting with vibrant summer flavour. My kids have always loved it too, they eat it these days on a bed of pasta or couscous with a few cheesie sprinkles (they LOVE their sprinkles!). Last summer when they were considerably smaller (and fussier) I diced all the veggies to a smaller size, as large chunks seemed to put them off. And when Jacques was really tiny and weaning I whizzed up my ratatouille with a stick blender and served it to him with baby pasta stars. If you’re making for babies or little kids do not add any salt.

Us grown up folk prefer to eat our ratatouille in a large shared bowl (with a luxurious drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top) with plenty of fresh bread and maybe the odd sneaky merguez sausage on the side. It’s great served as a veggie side dish to a roast or cold cuts too, or with pasta or couscous like the kids.

My ratatouille recipe is probably somewhat old school now, in that it’s made as I’ve always made it with all the veggies in one big pot. It seems that most modern recipes call for the roasting or sauteing then layering of each of the veggies separately and diss my old fashioned all-in-one stew method. I personally like it both ways, but Mr F (who’s a big ratatouille fan) and the kids prefer this one pot wonder way….which is also quicker and requires less washing up!

Like all our dinners over the summer the veggies were all freshly picked from the garden, though admittedly I had to buy some peppers as mine are very slow to fruit this year. The courgettes, tomatoes (well obviously!), aubergine, garlic, onions, thyme and bay were all Chez Foti. It really is rather special being able to walk out of the front door and pick all your dinner’s ingredients, and after a year and a half of growing my own the novelty most certainly isn’t waining. And I hope it never does.

I’m entering this blog to the lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge, held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

Ratatouille

Enough as a main for four big people, or several more as a side dish:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

a very large or two medium white or red onions, medium dice

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large aubergine or two small

2 peppers (preferably a red and a green one, or two reds)

2 courgettes

a small glass of white wine (optional)

700g of fresh chopped tomatoes (3 or 4 very large) (OR 600g of good quality tinned chopped tomatoes)

3 bay leaves

several sprigs of fresh thyme (be generous!)

a teaspoon of sugar

salt and pepper

Dice your veggies. If cooking for bigger kids and adults try to cut the peppers, aubergines and courgettes to a similar 3 cm ish slice size. I slice the aubergines into rounds (of about 4 to 5mm thick) then quarter the slices (or eighth if very large). The courgettes are sliced to the same thickness then cut in half (or quartered if very large). If making specially for babies (that do lumps) or toddlers cut to a much finer, more acceptable to them, dice.

Make a small bouquet garni of the herbs by tying together the bay leaves and thyme sprigs with string.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onions and saute on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and allow to cook for a further minute. Next throw in the aubergines and peppers followed by the courgettes about 5 minutes later. Stir frequently so nothing catches.

Pour in the white wine (if using) and allow to simmer for a few minutes until much reduced. Now stir in your chopped tommies, bouquet garni, sugar, a generous amount of back pepper and salt (go easy on the pepper and no salt for babies and small children). Bring everything to a simmer, stirring from time to time, and allow to cook on a fairly gentle heat for about 45 minutes partially covered with the lid. The veggies should be very tender and tomatoes much reduced.

Have a final taste check, adding more pepper, salt and sugar to taste (no added salt for babies or small children though). Fish out the bouquet garni and serve hot or cold.

Eat and enjoy as you so desire!

How about trying some of my other summery recipes? Garden Pasta, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, Paella, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow or A Couple of Tomato Tarts?


Garden Pasta

So named ‘Garden Pasta’ as most people who grow anything themselves tend to grow tomatoes and courgettes at the very least, it’s two chief ingredients. A quick and simple pasta dinner using griddled and marinated in lemon and olive oil courgettes, cherry tomatoes, feta and basil, no more complicated than that. We’ve been eating this pretty frequently at Chez Foti lately, it’s a tasty little number that handily makes a dent into some of the enormous glut we’re accumulating!. If you’re not a regular reader courgettes were my ‘Veg of the Month’ in July and this month it’s most definitely the turn of the tomatoes. 64 plants and INUNDATED, cherries, beefs and plums. I need to dump my husband, kids and life in general and dedicate my being to the tomato cause…or battle. Which is also why we seem to be having plenty of quick pasta suppers these days, freeing up a little evening tomato factory time. Here’s the basket I picked this morning, just an average day:

I’m entering my recipe to Ren Behan’s Fabulicious Food August Simple and in Season blog challenge, as you can’t really get much more simple or seasonal than this Garden Pasta supper.

Enough for 2 big people: 

a tablespoon of lemon juice

3 tablespoons of olive oil plus a little extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

salt & pepper

2 courgettes, sliced lengthways into 3mm strips

180g of penne (or any other pasta that takes your fancy), cooked to packet instructions

150g of cherry tomatoes, halved

a handful of basil leaves, torn

80g of feta, crumbled

Combine the lemon juice, oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a bowl.

Heat a griddle pan or frying pan to a very high temperature. Dip each courgette strip into the above marinade and griddle or fry in a pan on both sides until cooked through, coloured and soft. Once cooked set aside in another bowl. Once all the strips have been cooked drizzle over any remaining marinade juices.

Cook the pasta to packet instructions whilst you’re griddling the courgettes. Once cooked, drain and put back in the pan and stir through the cherry tomatoes and marinated courgettes. Place back on the heat for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes are just starting to soften.

Take off the heat and stir through the feta and most of the basil. Retain a few torn leaves for garnish. Taste and add a little more lemon juice, salt and pepper to suit.

Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top and the rest of the basil leaves.

How about trying some of my other tomato or courgette recipes? A Glut of Tomatoes Pasta Sauces, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow or Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta or Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto.


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