Tag Archives: Lemon

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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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


Chicken, Asparagus and New Potato Traybake

Chicken Traybake

Why oh why it’s taken me so long to discover the wonderous simplicity of savory traybakes is a mystery?. An impressively tasty meal with minimum prep, mess or fuss that the whole family can enjoy. And great to place on the dinner table for everyone to hungrily dig in to and help themselves, which is always fun and sociable. They’re definitely the way forward to perfect family fodder in my book. Since my ‘discovery’ I have to confess to their over-zealous appearance on the Chez Foti table, but when the kids are eagerly tucking in, as without fail they do to a traybake, how can I not?!.

Jacques ChickenAnd this particular one’s most definitely my Traybake du Jour, with asparagus suddenly appearing at more reasonable end of season prices. Simply chicken pieces, new potatoes and asparagus all roasted together in a yumminess of lemon, garlic, fresh thyme and green olives. Since Jacques has recently acquired a taste for olives (bordering screaming obsession!) I seem to be adding them to everything these days; luckily his olive adverse big sister’s quite happy to pick them out and pass them over his way. And if you’ve never tried asparagus roasted with such heady flavours believe me you’re missing out. Divine. And always a bit of fight as to who gets the last spear….

Admittedly this is hardly a recipe, rather a throwing together of a few select ingredients. Traybakes are obviously open to a good deal of seasonal variation…and a handy way of clearing out your fridge! Carrots, parsnips, squash, peppers, courgettes, sweet potato and onions all roast handsomely and you could also vary your meat to pork or sausages (or leave out altogether), and of course opt for ‘old’ tatters when the newbies aren’t around. And as for the herbs, throw in whatever you have! Orange segments are also a tasty variation to the lemon, particularly with chicken, red pepper and black olives.

Made with Love MondaysNow for the challenges, as there’s plenty of thyme involved to Cooking-with-HerbsLavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday event. To Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays as it’s a made from scratch meal. And finally to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season as asparagus is unquestionably still in season!. Simple and in Season

Chicken, Asparagus & New Potato Traybake

Chicken, Asparagus & New Potato Traybake

Great for: Toddlers & Pre-Schoolers, Big Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Week-end Slowies, Mid-week Suppers

Serve with: plenty of steamed veggies

Serves: a family of four, just throw in as much as you think you’ll all eat (I always add a few extra potatoes for tasty leftovers):

600g new potatoes, scrubbed but skin left on

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 – 6 chicken pieces, I usually opt for thighs or legs, free range

1 dessertspoon fresh thyme leaves

4 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole

1 lemon, one half juiced the other half cut into 6 segments

salt and pepper (no salt for toddlers)

1 bunch of asparagus, washed

a handful or two of green olives, optional (feel free to omit if you’re not olive lovers)

Special Equipment: a large hob-proof roasting tin

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas 6.

2. Cut any of the larger potatoes in 2 or 3 and leave smaller ones whole. Par-cook them for 8 minutes in boiling water. Drain and set aside.

3. While the potatoes are boiling heat the oil in a large hob-proof roasting tin. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides and take off the heat.

4. Once the chicken’s browned throw the potatoes into the tin along with the thyme, garlic cloves, juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of salt and pepper (no salt if you’re making for toddlers). Give everything a good stir around and place in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.

5. Prepare the asparagus by bending each spear and snapping off the woody ends, discard the ends.

5. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and throw in the asparagus spears, lemon segments and the olives if using. Give everything a good stir and place back in the oven for a further 20 to 25 minutes. Take out of the oven and stir everything around a little a couple of times during this period.

6. It’s ready when the chicken and potatoes are fully cooked through and golden.

7. Place on the dinner table and let everyone help themselves. Perfect family fun fodder!

You might also like:

A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

Beef in Daube recipe

Boeuf en Daube


Smoked Salmon Fishcakes

Smoked Salmon Fishcakes

It seems like ages since I made fishcakes. In fact I know it is. Why exactly this is I’ve no idea when they’re always a huge hit with J & F, just as much as with us. Particularly with Master J who wolfed two down in breakneck speed. But then it appears, at newly three, he’s suddenly acquired a taste for smoked salmon, together with a near screaming obsession with olives….and Parmesan. The boy certainly appreciates the finer things in life and I have secret hopes he’ll be a fully fledged foodie one day. Maybe even a chef? Now how good would that be.

These fishcakes really are a cinch to make, and a fast cinch at that. And pretty frugal too if you use the considerably cheaper smoked salmon trimmings. They’re simply a matter of combining cold mashed potatoes (you could even use leftovers) with a generous amount of smoked salmon, plenty of parsley, capers, lemon zest, a couple of spring onions and a dollop or two of creamed horseradish. Then there’s the fun moulding into golf balls, dipping in beaten egg and rolling around in breadcrumbs and flattening into a fishcakey shape. So easy. You could even get the kids to make them. With their eyes shut (could be messy!). Then obviously there’s a brief shallow frying which is more grown up territory.

Smoked Salmon Fishcakes with Herby Mayo, Lemon Wedgies and Steamed PSB and Carrots.

Smoked Salmon Fishcakes with Herby Mayo, Lemon Wedgies and Steamed PSB and Carrots.

herbsonsaturdaySince there’s a handsome amount of parsley involved I’m entering my post to Lavender & Lovage’s Credit-Crunch-Munchmonthly Herbs on Saturday event, this month hosted by the lovely Anneli of Delicieux. And as these work out as a particularly frugal, but nevertheless exceptionally tasty, munch to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch challenge!. Jointly held by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All, and this month hosted by Farmersgirl Kitchen.

Smoked Salmon Fishcake

Smoked Salmon Fishcakes

Great for Toddlers & Young Children (omit the capers if they’re adverse to strong flavours), Bigger Kids, Cooking with Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Grown Ups too!

Makes 9 fishcakes (plenty for a family of 4!):

500g of Potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into large chunks

150g of Smoked Salmon trimmings, roughly chopped

2-3 Spring Onions, finely sliced

zest of a Lemon

2 heaped tablespoons of chopped Parsley

a heaped tablespoon of Capers, rinsed

2 teaspoons of Creamed Horseradish

Salt and Pepper

a free range Egg, lightly beaten and seasoned with Salt and Pepper

4 heaped tablespoons of dry Breadcrumbs or Panko or a mix of the two

Sunflower Oil for frying

Boil the potatoes in water until tender. Mash and set aside to cool.

Once cool stir in the smoked salmon, spring onions, lemon zest, parsley, capers, horseradish and a generous amount of black pepper. Taste and season with additional pepper if needed. You may want to add salt but it’s unlikely you’ll need it with the salty capers and smoked salmon.

Place the beaten egg in a bowl and the breadcrumbs or Panko in another.

Form the fishcake mix into nine evenly sized golf balls. Dip each into the egg so it’s coated all over, then the breadcrumbs, flattening to a patty as you do so. Refrigerate until you’re ready to cook them.

Heat a very fine layer of sunflower oil in a frying pan until medium hot. Carefully place however many fishcakes will fit in your pan and allow them to crisp up and golden on each side. This will only take two to three minutes on each side. Add a little more oil to the pan and continue until all the fishcakes are cooked.

Serve hot. With lemon wedges and Herby Mayo on the side, and a salad or streamed veggies. Bliss.

Smoked Salmon Fishcakes

You might also like:

Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne

Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne

Cheese & Tuna Veggie Bombs!

Cheese & Tuna Veggie Bombs!


A Couple of Fishy Dippy Dip Dips

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

To be truthful things have been a little on the busy side at Chez Foti lately. Make that insanely hectic. Way too much flitting to and from the UK for a multitude of reasons, four times in the last few weeks!. Which is all very tiring, both emotionally and physically, and has sadly meant less time to potter in the kitchen putting together new recipes and ideas. Not that we haven’t eaten well, very well indeed. But there’s been a greater reliance on those firm family favourites and the pulling together of goodies from the freezer. I’ve also been on somewhat of a mission to cook and eat my way through five enormously fruitful PSB plants, and probably been a little too reliant on my PSB Pasta and Tart recipes for quickie mid-week suppers. Plus there’s been PSB pizzas, PSB pesto pastas, PSB stir fries and PSB crostini and bruschettas a plenty!

Between the flitting and Mission PSB I’ve managed a few catch ups with friends, involving various nibbles and numerous drinkies. Nibbles at this time of year, as the weather’s happily warming up, usually means a plate of assorted Crostini (including one with the the aforementioned PSB, cooked with anchovies, garlic and chili) and a dip or two with various dipping accompaniments.

P1070766

Both these dips are made in minutes, which is always a bonus in my book. Both are very tasty indeed but I wouldn’t necessarily serve them together, possibly being a little bit too similar. And both have funnily enough been stolen from other people!. The first is a Smoked Salmon & Roasted Pepper Dip, which also makes for a wonderful sandwich filling, pate or crostini topping. It’s a recipe I ‘stole’ from a friend of mine, Anita, who nearly always turns up at social occasions with a pot of this pink loveliness. It’s a heavenly blitzed-up mix of creme cheese, smoked salmon, roasted red peppers (I use the jarred ones), a little red onion, horseradish, lemon zest and juice, and plenty of black pepper.

My second recipe is for a Tuna & Caper Dip, which I stole in idea from my big brother Julian. Again it’s wonderful in sandwiches or on crostini too.. And no blitzing required, just a stirring of creme cheese, tuna, capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice and black pepper. So so simple, and perfect for impromptu drinks parties.

And they’re not just for the grown up folk. My kids love these ‘fishy dippy dip dips’, and dips are a fine (and manipulative) way to get your kids eating more raw veggies and lots of them. Namely carrot, pepper, celery and cucumber strips. So along with my faithful hummus I make dips pretty frequently at Chez Foti. For more baby and toddler-friendly dippy ideas please do bob over to a blog I wrote last year: A Trip of Dips for Babies & Toddlers.

Since there’s parsley involved I shall be entering my blog to Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Anneli over at Delicieux.
herbsonsaturday

Smoked Salmon & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Smoked Salmon & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Smoked Salmon & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Great for Parties, Drinks and Nibbles, Starters, Picnics, Kids, Finger Foods, Grown Ups, Sandwiches, Crostini Toppings

150g of Creme Cheese, full fat, light, or extra light depending on how virtuous you’re feeling!

100g of Smoked Salmon trimmings

80g of Roasted Red Peppers – about 2 or 3  (you can make your own but I use the jarred shop bought ones for speed), drained of all oil

zest of ½ a Lemon plus a couple of generous squeezes of juice, to taste

¼ of a small red onion, diced

a heaped teaspoon of Creamed Horseradish

a large pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth and creamy texture. Or alternatively blitz with a hand held stick blender. Season with more black pepper and lemon juice to suit. Eat and devour.

Tuna & Caper Dip

Tuna & Caper Dip

Tuna & Caper Dip

Great for Parties, Drinks and Nibbles, Starters, Picnics, Kids, Finger Foods, Grown Ups, Sandwiches, Crostini Toppings

a 185g tin of Tuna, drained

150g of Cream Cheese, full fat, light, or extra light

a tablespoon of Capers, drained and rinsed

the zest of a Lemon plus a squeeze or two of juice to taste

a heaped tablespoon of chopped Parsley

a large pinch of coarsely ground Black Pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and season with more black pepper and/or lemon  juice. Eat. So so easy.

You might also like: 

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

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

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta


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


A Couple of Winter Crostini – Lovely (Cannellini) Beans and Green Olive Tapenade

Winter Crostini

Now I’m a big fan of pre-dinner nibbles in the form of Bruschetta or Crostini or whatever you care to name them, but for some odd reason I tend to favour such appetisers more in the summer months. Eaten as the sun goes down alongside a glass or two of white . They’re usually assembled to use up an glut of tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines or peppers from the garden (my Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta being a bit of a favourite). Which got me thinking, there really must be some excellent store cupboard toppings that would be equally as fabulous in the depths of winter with a glass of red.

The Lovely (Cannellini) Beans topping I’ve made many a time before, but not for many years now. It’s simply a heady mix of Garlic, Fresh Chili, Fresh Rosemary and lots of good Olive Oil roughly mashed into canned or soaked and pre-cooked warm Cannellini Beans. Quick and easy, but very substantial in the flavour department!. A posh beans on toast. The Green Olive Tapenade is a newbie on me – I put it together to clear out the three half eaten tins of green olives that were lurking in my fridge – and part followed a multitude of internet recipes. And with pretty tasty and zingy results. An extremely flavourful mix of Green Olives, Olive Oil, Capers, Anchovies, Fresh Chili, Lemon Zest and Juice, Garlic and Fresh Parsley.

Both are great just on toast or pitta bread, ‘poshed up’ on Crostini or Bruschetta or served as a dip with raw veggies and breadsticks. The Tapenade is also sublime stirred through hot pasta or as a topping for tarts (see A Couple of Tomato Tarts) or pizza and even slathered onto bread for a sandwich. And probably lots more amazingly tasty treats that I haven’t thought of!.

herbsonsaturdaySince herbs feature fairly highly in both these toppings I’m entering my blog to Karen of Lavender and Lovage‘s Herbs on Saturday bloggie challenge. And also to Javelin Warriors Made with Love Mondays as both my Crostini toppings are made with lots of homemade love!

Made with Love Mondays

Lovely Cannellini Beans

Lovely (Cannellini) Beans!

Great For: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids (though my toddler Jacques adores these beans on toast!), grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians

2 tablespoons of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus a little more for drizzling)

½ to 1 Red Chili, finely sliced (use less or none at all if you’re heat adverse)

2 cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

a 400g tin of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed OR the equivalent in soaked and home-cooked beans (I tend to cook up large batches and use them in various recipes)

2 teaspoons of chopped fresh Rosemary leaves

1 – 2 teaspoons of Red Wine Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan on a low heat. Add the garlic and chili and fry for a few moments. Once you get a garlic aroma (but before it browns) quickly stir in your beans and rosemary together with a teaspoon of the red wine vinegar and very generous pinches each of coarsely ground black pepper and salt.

Keep the pan on the heat and allow the beans to warm through and the flavours to infuse. Once hot, remove from the hob and mash the beans a potato masher. I like a fairly rustic texture so don’t go too wild on the mashing, a few whole beans here and there are perfect.

Have a taste, adding more salt, pepper and red wine vinegar to suit. I don’t normally advise this but you may need to add a fair whack of salt to do the beans justice.

Serve warm on Crostini or Bruschetta with a naughty additional drizzle of olive oil. With a glass of red. Obviously.

Green Olive Tapenade

Green Olive Tapenade

Great For: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids, grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians (if they eat anchovies that is)

200g of pitted Green Olives

a heaped dessertspoon of Capers, rinsed

3 Anchovy Fillets (canned in oil)

½ a Red Chili, sliced

a heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh Parsley

a clove of Garlic, finely sliced

Zest of ½ a Lemon plus a couple of generous squeezes of Juice

a generously large pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

50 ml of Olive Oil

No cooking required here. Simply throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you have your desired texture. Again, I quite like a fairly rustic texture here so don’t go too crazy on the blitzing. Or you could whiz with a stick blender in a deep sided dish. Taste and add more lemon and pepper if you wish; it’s unlikely you’ll need any salt.

Crostini

For the Crostini

These really are a cinch to make and well worth the effort if you have friends over for a nibble, especially as they can handily be made a few hours in advance.

a Baguette, or part of a Baguette, preferably stale

Olive Oil

a clove or two of Garlic, peeled and halved, optional

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Simply slice a baguette, stale if possible, into thinnish rounds of ½ to ¾cm thickness. Slice across the baguette for smaller and more delicate crostini or diagonally for a more generous two to three bite-fulls – my personal preference! Cut as many slices as you think you may need, plus a few more just in case.

Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil, rubbing one side with the cut side of half a garlic clove. I sometimes rub garlic in, sometimes I don’t, depending on how much the toppings already have in (and mine invariably have quite a bit in!). Place on a baking tray.

Place in the hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes, turning half way through. They should be golden and crispy when done. How long they take will depend on their thickness and how stale the bread was to start with – stale obviously being quicker to ‘crisp’ up.

Set aside to cool. They can be made a few hours in advance. Top with either of the above toppings, or anything else you so care to eat!.

You might also like: 

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

The Best Herby Garlic Bread Ever!

The Best Herby Garlic Bread Ever!


Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza

There’s been a good deal of wild mushroom foraging recently at Chez Foti. Magnificent Parasol Mushrooms have been popping up literally all over our garden the last couple of weeks and I’ve been on a bit of a picking and eating frenzy. I wasn’t too sure what they were at first but after consultation with two sets of very knowledgeable neighbours and my trusty mushroom book I was pretty excited to find they were exceptionally good to eat!. And in fact some of the finest mushrooms I’ve ever tasted. We also have ceps and chanterelles growing in our garden, but there’s been very few this year (and neither in my opinion have been as good as the Parasols).

And so there’s been no end of wonderful freebie wild mushroom dinners lately at Chez Foti. Mushroom bruschetta, tarts, pizzas and risottos a plenty. Times like this make living here pretty special, when you really can eat off the land.

Parasol Mushroom

I make a lot of pizzas as at Chez Foti. Mainly because we have an original wood-fired bread oven in the lounge of our house which bakes amazing pizzas throughout the colder months (it’s too hot to light up most of the summer). But this pizza was actually baked in my new oven, testing out it’s pizza baking capabilities. And I wasn’t disappointed, it did the wonderful foraged mushrooms the justice they deserve.

I’ve been experimenting lately with tomato-less bases or ‘white’ pizzas, well since the tomatoes finished anyway (although it seems I have half a freezer of tomato sauce to use up!) . The ricotta, lemon zest, chili and parsley base on this pizza complements the heavenly rich roasted garlic and thyme wild mushrooms. Incidentally don’t skip on the pre-roasting of the mushrooms; roasting gives them a much stronger, richer and somehow more meaty texture and flavour. Truly divine.

If you can’t forage or buy your own wild mushrooms choose some interesting shop bought ones, big or small. Ideally anything but the boring and bland button mushies anyway!.

Jacques looking pretty happy with our find

I’m entering this blog to a couple of bloggie challenges. Firstly, as there’s a fair flavouring of herbs, to the lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge, the baby of Karen @ Lavender & Lovage, and this month hosted by Blue Kitchen Bakes.

And secondly to Simple and in Season, held by Ren Behan of the fabulous Fabulicious Food blog!

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza

Serves 1 – 2 (depending on your appetite for pizza!)

One quantity of pizza dough (I usually stick to a Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get it)

175g of wild or interesting shop bought mushrooms, wiped but not washed

2 tablespoons of olive oil

20g of butter

a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half

salt & freshly ground black pepper

120g of ricotta

zest of ½ a lemon, plus a little juice

½ a red chili (or a whole one if you prefer), seeds removed and finely sliced

a heaped tablespoon of finely chopped flat leaved parsley

a heaped tablespoon of finely grated parmesan

extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil to finish

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Start by roasting off your mushrooms. Tear or cut the mushrooms into large bite size pieces. Combine in a small baking dish with the olive oil, butter, thyme, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, giving everything a good move around half way through.

Meanwhile prepare the ricotta base. Mix together the ricotta, lemon zest, chili, parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Once the mushrooms have roasted remove the garlic from the pan and finely slice. Add the garlic back to the mushrooms. Turn the oven temperature up to the hottest it will go and put your pizza stone or baking tray in to heat up.

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

Spread the ricotta evenly over the base. Scatter on the mushrooms and sliced garlic and sprinkle over the grated parmesan. Finally give the pizza a squeeze of lemon and a generous drizzling of some very good extra virgin olive oil OR if you’re lucky enough to have any (I’m not!) I’m pretty sure truffle oil would be sublime.

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.

Lots of lovely Parasols

Master J having a good look through Mummy’s Mushroom Book!

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.


Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

Last night we had our lovely friend Debbie over for dinner and coupled with the welcome opportunity of an afternoon sans les enfants I got busy and inventive in the kitchen with our enormous glut of courgettes. Don’t ask me how but I’ve ended up with nine plants this summer. Last year’s seven were excessive despite our stream of guests the entirety of the courgette season.

Yesterday afternoon I was immensely satisfied to use six of the beasts in a three course courgette dinner, and almost get on top of the growing glut. Heavenly bruschetta topped with griddled and marinaded courgettes with lemon, feta and basil to start, followed by a chicken, courgette & chard thai green curry. The curry being a very rare treat as its nigh on impossible to get most of the ingredients here in rural France, but I happened to have a sudden success in homegrown coriander and some recently imported goodies from the UK. Recipe to be blogged shortly. Dinner was finished off rather surprisingly with a green tinged, utterly delicious and moist courgette cake, sandwiched with homemade lemon curd and topped with lemon cream cheese frosting! I’d love to take the glory for the cake but in truth it’s Nigellas from her Domestic Goddess book.

By the way, just in case you hadn’t guessed it, my Veggie of the Month for July is the not so humble courgette. I’ll be reviewing all my courgette recipes and ideas later in the month in a special courgettie round up. In the meantime I’d love to hear your interesting or novel courgette recipes and if I get a chance I’ll try them out before the round up.

Anyway, back onto the Bruschetta. I’m a big bruschetta fan, and this has to be one of my favourite toppings. And so lovely to be able to not only glorify the courgette but my homegrown basil that’s finally big and grown up enough to be picked (considerably later than last year). Griddled or barbecued in lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and plenty of black pepper, marinaded in a little more oil, juice and zest and topped with salty feta and torn basil leaves this is to me the essence of summer, and an extremely tasty starter or entree. I regularly griddle or barbecue courgettes in this way, without always the further marinading, to serve as an interesting veggie side, pizza topping or pasta addition.

I’m entering this post to Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday blog challenge, held this month by the lovely Vanether at Bangers & Mash Chat.

Marinaded Courgettes

Enough for 4:

2 medium to large courgettes

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

juice of a lemon

zest of half a lemon

a generous pinch of Malden sea salt or similar

a generous pinch or two of coarsely ground black pepper

8 – 12 slices of good quality thickly sliced bread (sourdough works particularly well)

a clove of garlic

60g of feta, crumbled

a few basil leaves, torn

Fire up the barbie or place your griddle pan on a high heat.

Slice the courgettes lengthways into thin strips 2 to 3mm thick. Mix two tablespoons of the olive oil, half the lemon juice and the salt and pepper in a bowl.

Dip each courgette strip into the above marinade and place on the hot griddle. Allow to cook for two or three minutes until coloured and soft on each side. When cooked on both sides remove and place in another bowl and start up another batch until all are cooked.

Griddling

On to the cooked courgettes pour the rest of the marinade, a little more lemon juice (to taste), the lemon zest and another wee drizzle of olive oil. Give everything a good stir and leave to marinade until you’re ready to make the bruschettas.

In the same griddle pan or barbecue toast the bread until coloured on each side (this again will take several batches). Cut the garlic clove in half. As the hot toast is removed from the griddle rub the cut side of the garlic over the hot surface of the toast to impart a little flavour. Drizzle over a little olive oil. Top with a couple of slices of the marinaded courgettes, a little crumbled feta and a few pieces of torn basil and eat immediately. As if you could resist.


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