cooking · gardening · herbs · recipe

Zucchini Slice

There are those who think that I am strange as I have always liked zucchini’s. I will state my case here and you can decide for yourselves. I’m hoping to convert some non-believers!

Zucchini’s are such a versatile (and under-rated) vegetable. They are easy to grow in either full sun or semi-shade and in the area that I live, can be grown all year round.

They are a member of the marrow family and both the vegetable and the zucchini flower can be eaten. Zucchini’s are delicious served simply as a raw, grated vegetable, added to a tossed salad, or as elaborately as the flowers being stuffed and deep fried.

The vegetables should be picked when still quite small, no more than 10cm in length. This is when they have the best flavour and it also encourages the growth of more vegetables. On average, a plant will yield up to 40 zucchini’s per season.

Zucchini’s have a rather subtle taste and a slightly crunchy texture. They should not be over cooked as this will make them “mushy” and watery.

Zucchini’s can be washed, (no need to peel!), sliced and cooked for 3-4 minutes in boiling water, tossed in butter or olive oil and served as a side vegetable. For extra crunch and flavour, garlic, soy sauce and sesame seeds can also be added.

Alternatively, zucchini’s can be sliced, sprinkled with salt and left to drain for 1 hour (2 teaspoons salt per 500g zucchini). Pat slices dry with kitchen towel and deep fry.

Knowing my affinity with zucchini’s, my mother passed on this recipe to me after it was given to her by a friend. I have enjoyed making this zucchini slice for many years. It is perfect for a light weekend lunch, at any time of the year.

Zucchini Slice

3 cups grated zucchini (4-6 depending on size)

Zucchini Slice

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 rashers bacon, finely chopped

1 cup (125 g) grated cheese

1 cup self-raising flour

Fresh parsley, basil, oregano and rosemary (to taste) chopped

Pepper to taste

1 vegetable stock cube

5 eggs

½ cup milk

Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, flour, herbs and crumbled stock cube in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and combine with milk.

Fold the egg mixture through the zucchini mixture, combining well.

Pour mixture into a large, well greased quiche plate and bake for 35-40 minutes at 180 degrees C, or until set.

Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

birthdays · cooking · dad · father · pies · recipe · traditions

Apple Pie, For My Father.

If he were here today, my father would be coming to my home for dinner tonight, to share his special day with my family.

I’m sure that there wouldn’t be any of the fuss and fanfare of a large party of any description. Dad wouldn’t have liked that. No, Dad would have perhaps gone for a walk, or a drive, to the beach, just to watch the ocean and the waves crashing on the shore. Or he may have spent some time at home, reading a book. He loved reading.

He would have enjoyed a roast dinner, with gravy. And soft bread, with a crunchy crust. We may have been able to convince him to have a glass of champagne, just for his birthday. But after dinner, he would like his cup of tea, for sure. Dad was a true Englishman.

For sure, I know what he would have wanted for dessert. Apple Pie. Dad loved my apple pie. And I loved to make it for him, because I knew how much he loved it.

Happy 90th Birthday, Dad……

Apple Pie

Pastry: 1 ½ cups plain flour

¾ cup self-raising flour

1/3 cup custard powder

1/3 cup cornflour

Pinch of salt

185 g butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons water

Extra sugar

Sift flours, custard powder and salt into a bowl. Rub in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add sugar, mix well.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add egg and water and mix to a firm dough. Knead lightly. Refrigerate pastry for 1 hour.

Roll out just over half the pastry and line a pie plate. Spread 2 tablespoons of apricot jam over the base of the pastry shell. Add the cooked and drained apples. Roll out the remaining pastry, cover pie and press the edges together firmly. Trim, decorate and cut a few slits in the top. Sprinkle the top with extra sugar.

Bake at 190 deg. C for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 180 deg. C for a further 20 minutes or until pie is golden brown.

TIP: Roll out the pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper. Lift the pastry carefully with the bottom sheet of baking paper and turn, pastry side down, onto the pie plate.

Apple Filling: 7 large cooking apples

Grated rind of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons sugar

½ cup water

Peel, quarter and core apples. Cut each quarter in half lengthways. Put all ingredients into a pan and cook, covered, until the apples are almost tender and still holding their shape, approximately 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and allow apples to cool.

cooking · pies · recipe

Delicious Chicken Pie

My family are pie people. Whenever I get the urge to bake a pie, it doesn’t matter want type of pie I choose, it is sure to be a winner.

Not only is this chicken pie absolutely delicious, it is surprisingly easy to make. The taste is far more impressive than the considerably brief amount of time it takes to prepare the filling.

The mixture is a wonderful idea if you are having a party. Just purchase small, ready-made vol-au-vent cases from the supermarket and spoon a little of the warmed filling into the cases. Place in the oven for 5 minutes to heat through the cases and voila! Finger food is ready to be served to your guests.

Chicken Pie

1 kg chicken breast fillets

Chicken Pie
Chicken Pie

60g butter

3 heaped tablespoons plain flour

1 cup cream

Salt & pepper

100g tasty cheese

220g mushrooms

4 shallots

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 tablespoons dry sherry

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 sheets puff pastry

Boil or steam chicken until tender, remove from heat and reserve approximately 1 cup of the chicken stock. Cut chicken into bite sized cubes.

Heat butter in a frying pan, add flour and stir until combined. Remove pan from heat, gradually add chicken stock and cream, stirring continually. Stir until well combined.

Return the pan to the heat and stir until the sauce boils and thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add grated cheese, chopped mushrooms, chopped shallots, chopped parsley, sherry and mustard. Stir until cheese melts.

Add chicken pieces to mixture. Allow pie filling to cool.

Line the pie plate with 1 sheet of puff pastry. Place cooled filling in dish. Top with remaining sheet of pastry. Pinch edges of pastry together and decorate the top as you wish.

Bake at 230 degrees C for approximately 40 minutes, or until pie is golden brown.

recipe · Uncategorized

Polenta Cake (With Pine Nuts, Raisins & Figs)

Whenever I see a recipe with an unusual twist to it, curiosity gets the better of me. I just have to try it out. This Polenta Cake recipe did not disappoint!

It is, without a doubt, the most unusual cake I have ever tasted. In fact, it seems wrong to call it a cake! It appears to have a rather savoury flavour at first, which is followed by a sudden burst of  “sweet” when biting into the figs & raisins.

Before trying this recipe I would recommend making sure you have the large, 23 cm cake tin required – you will need it.  A spring form tin is the best to use. This is not a small cake & would be an ideal choice for serving a large crowd of friends.

Next time I make the Polenta Cake, I will try adding perhaps just 2 tablespoons of the fennel seeds, as the aniseed flavour is quite overpowering in flavour, even for an aniseed lover like myself!

When eating leftovers, I would also recommend warming the cake slightly again, as the beautiful flavours are brought out by warmth in the cake.

Polenta Cake (With Pine Nuts, Raisins & Figs).
400 g polenta
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
60g butter
2 eggs
100g pine nuts, toasted
150g raisins
150g figs, sliced
3 tablespoons fennel seeds
4 tablespoons raw sugar
250g plain flour

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and grease & line a 23cm cake tin.

In a large saucepan, bring to the boil 850ml water & gradually pour in the polenta whilst stirring the water constantly. Lower the heat to simmer, add the olive oil & salt. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir the polenta regularly as it will become very thick. Remove the pan from the heat & stir in the butter.

Add beaten eggs & stir the mixture well. Add toasted pine nuts, raisins, figs, raw sugar & fennel seeds & mix thoroughly. Stir the flour into the mixture.

Spoon into the prepared tin & press in firmly. To smooth the top of the cake you may need to use your hands. Decorate the top of the cake with some extra toasted pine nuts, if desired.

Bake for 40 minutes, using a cake tester to make sure it is cooked through. Take out of the cake tin while still warm. Best served warm, when the flavours of the cake are most prominent.

Polenta Cake