Courgettes 2018 – Recipe for courgette fritters

COURGETTE SEASON 2018

So the 2018 courgette season has arrived and I’m enjoying trying out new recipes to find different ways of preparing them. I prefer to pick them when they are still quite small. That way you can use several at a time when they are at their best for a side dish rather than waiting until they are the size of marrows. There are always some that get away but I’ll slice these lengthways and give them to the chickens so that they can peck out the seeds.

FAVOURITE COURGETTE RECIPE

My all-time favourite way of preparing courgettes is to slice the small courgettes into 2cm slices. Fry them in a covered pan with some extra virgin olive oil. Turn every so often so that they lose their liquid and catch a bit of colour on each side. After 10 minutes or so, toss in a knob of butter, grind over some black pepper and squeeze over some lemon juice. Delicious.

DIFFERENT RECIPES

My challenge each year is to find some new and interesting recipes to use up the abundant crop.

The first recipe I tried didn’t salt the courgettes first which proved to be a messy mistake. In the second one I salted the grated courgette and left for an hour before squeezing the water out.

This recipe is adapted from Felicity Cloake’s “How to cook …” column in the Guardian “How to cook the perfect courgette fritters“.

The second recipe worked a lot better and I’d use this technique again in the future.

Here is the recipe.

Courgette fritters
Serves 2
A simple recipe for courgette fritters
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Ingredients
  1. 2 medium-sized courgettes, coarsely grated
  2. 1 small salad onion, finely chopped
  3. 2 handfuls of grated cheese
  4. 2 tablespoons self-raising flour
  5. 2 tablespoons polenta
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Put the courgette in a bowl, sprinkle over the salt and mix well.
  2. Leave for about an hour and then transfer to a colander and squeeze out the water.
  3. Add the onion and egg and mix well.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat some oil in a frying pan.
  6. Put in sponfuls of the courgette mixture and fry on a high heat for 3 minutes.
  7. Flip the fritters and fry for a further 3 minutes on the other side.
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The Eggstractor Homemade Autonomous Egg Collector

One of the problems with having chickens is what to do if you want to go on holiday.  Water and food are fairly easy to solve but collecting the eggs is more difficult.

Sarah designed the Eggstractor which is basically just a crate with a way of decelerating the eggs so that they don’t smash. We have been using this system for almost 3 years and it works perfectly. As far as I know it is not possible to buy one or even buy a similar product which would solve the same problem. 

Being able to see the chickens over the internet is a good idea. One time we were in a storm crossing the Bay of Biscay in a ferry and we were able to watch the chickens getting onto their perches. 

 

Gluten-free carrot cake

Gluten-free carrot cake
Serves 24
In this carrot cake recipe, polenta and ground almonds replace the flour and olive oil is used instead of butter.
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Cook Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
CAKE
  1. 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  2. 350g brown sugar
  3. 5 medium eggs
  4. 150g ground almonds
  5. 100g polenta
  6. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. 125g chopped walnuts
  9. 500g grated carrot
  10. 1 teaspoon baking powder
ICING
  1. 125g salted butter
  2. 250g light cream cheese
  3. 250g icing sugar
  4. grated zest of 2 large oranges
TO MAKE THE CAKE
  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Line a rectangular cake tin (25cm x 29cm) with baking parchment.
  3. Beat the eggs, sugar and oil together in a large bowl.
  4. Sprinkle in the polenta, ground almonds, salt and cinnamon and mix well.
  5. Add the carrots and walnuts and give the mixture a good stir.
  6. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes.
  7. Test with a skewer to check that the cake is cooked.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a baking rack.
  9. Leave to cool completely.
TO MAKE THE ICING
  1. Cream the butter in a bowl with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the other ingredients and keep in the fridge until needed.
  3. Once the cake has cooled, spread over the icing.
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Making Pear Wine

We have a large winter pear tree. Every year the pears fall onto the floor. By mid December they are almost ripe. Some of them have started to rot and the Jay birds have started to peck at them.  Winter pears are strange because if you pick them off the tree earlier in the year and store them inside they don’t go ripe. They seem to prefer being outside or they need some frost before they ripen.  About 3 years ago I decided to try and use my pear  windfall. After a while surfing on internet I found that the Roman soldiers who were stationed in Britain had no access to grapes so they bought pear trees with them and made pear wine. Roman soldiers tended to drink a litre of wine each day so they must have needed a good source of wine.

My pear wine recipe is very simple and could be very useful in a dystopian  post technological age in latitudes where there is no grapes but it is still possible to get sugar.
I suppose the Romans’ pear wine must have been pear beer because they had no access to processed sugar so the alcohol by volume must have been about 5%. (maybe they used honey)

Ingredients:
 A treeload of ripe winter pears maybe 100kg
Some yeast. I used Young’s Dried Active Yeast.
Lots of sugar.
Boiling water.
Sodium Metabisulphate

Equipment:
200 litre plastic barrel
Plastic trugs
Knives

Method:
Cutting up pears

Pick the pears discarding pears which are totally rotten.
Wash the pears in cold water to get rid of old leaves and other debris.
Cut the pears up into chunks. Maybe 1.5cm chunks. Discard all the really nasty rotten bits but keep the over ripe areas. I did not discard the cores. 

Throw the cut up pears into Sodium Metabisulphate solution and let them get covered in the solution.

Three years ago I did not use any chemicals and everything was fine but last year the whole batch of 150 litres turned to vinegar. I don’t like using chemicals but as I am using semi-rotten fruit hopefully it will stop it turning to vinegar. I got the pears out of the metabisulphate trug with my hands and put they into an intermediate trug before throwing them into the plastic barrel. 

Metabisulphate bath for the cut up pears

Metabisulphate bath for the cut up pears

The next thing to do it to pour boiling water into the plastic barrel as fast as possible. We use every available kettle and put big pans on the wood stove.  The idea is that the heat of the boing water will kill any unwanted bacteria. I don’t know how hot we managed to get the must but it was too hot to put a hand in, maybe 60C. 

Heating up water

Heating up water on the wood stove

The next thing to do is to put in a lot of sugar. I put in 22kg. It can be disolved in the water in the pans but it seems to disolve OK in the actual plastic barrel.

I used a refractometer and the sugar reading says that this has an alcohol potential of 5%.

I want the wine to be about 13.5% so I use my Chapitalisation Calculator

This is what it tells me

“You have 150 litres of must
At the moment your must has a potential alcohol volume of 5 %
You would like your finished wine to be 13.5 % alcohol.

To do that you have to add 24.23 kilos of sugar to the must.
BTW: That is 53.42 pounds

If fermentation goes OK I will add about 20KG of sugar after a couple of weeks.

It is very difficult to be scientific about the amount of alcohol because the pears are in chunks not in solution. Supposedly they have a sugar content which would be about 5% alcohol. The last bit of sugar is added bit by bit.

The yeast and Pectolase is added the following day one the liquid has cooled down.

Maybe I had beginner’s  luck with my pear wine 3 years ago. It was wonderful. The pears shrivelled and the wine cleared on its own.  All I had to was siphon it off in April.

I served it chilled to 11C and it was really tasty.

 

 

 

 

Nut roast

Nut roast
To celebrate finishing the olive harvest before Christmas, we normally have a roast meal cooked in the bread oven. As this year (2017) we had Aida a vegetarian working with us, I decided to cook the traditional roast plus a nut roast. This recipe is an adaptation of Felicity Cloake's post in the Guardian
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into chunks
  2. 1 medium-sized red cabbage
  3. 150g almonds
  4. 150g walnuts
  5. 40g butter
  6. 1 large onion, finely chopped
  7. 150g mushrooms, finely chopped
  8. 100g Manchego cheese, grated
  9. 100g brown breadcrumbs
  10. 2 tablespoons fresh sage, roughly chopped
  11. 1 large egg, beaten
  12. Extra virgin olive oil
  13. Salt
  14. Pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook the sweet potato in boiling, salted water until soft and mash.
  2. Oil a loaf tin approximately, line with foil and oil again.
  3. Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes. Run under cold water and then dry. Remove the central stalk so that they lie flat.
  4. Heat a frying pan and gently toast the chopped walnuts and almonds until they start to colour and transfer to a plate.
  5. Turn the heat down and add the butter. Fry the chopped onion and fry gently.
  6. Add the mushrooms and fry for another couple of minutes until they are concentrated.
  7. In a bowl, mix the nuts, onion, cheese, breadcrumbs, mushrooms, sweet potato, beaten egg and chopped sage. Season and stir well.
  8. Line the tin with the cabbage leaves, and spoon in the mixture, pressing it down well.
  9. Fold any overhanging cabbage leaves back over the top.
  10. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  11. Remove the foil from the top and put the loaf back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
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