From Thriller Writing to Growing and Cooking our own Veg

Home grown produce

Okay, so this is a little ‘off the wall’ from my usual blog BUT to deviate from writing for a change, we find ourselves at this ‘time of year’ when our vegetable patch is exploding with courgettes. So I am trying to figure out ways of using them all. From our three main plants, we seem to have more than ever this year. Picking them as we see them, we try to make the most of our crop. Yet despite our most hawk-eyed scrutiny, somewhere among those prickly leaves, there are always one or two devious subjects who manage to escape the radar, resulting in bulging appendages of marrow-sized proportions!

So what to do with the glut?

So far this year, I’ve donated nearly all the ‘marrows’ to one of our lovely neighbours to make chutney – that is apart from one. With a tough outer shell as hard as rock, it is lurking on top of our barbecue rack. I actually thought it would be useful as a club to ward off opportunist burglars…

The next category of giants are still quite young with a softer, smoother skin and an appetising yellow/green mottling. These are fine for cooking if you scoop the seeds out and great for stuffing, either with a rich tomato and herb, bolognese mince – or for vegetarians, a wholesome mushroom and nut mixture.

I have also made three cauldrons of ratatouille, which went down very well with friends and neighbours when we invited them over for an alfresco dinner party in July. It freezes well too; handy for quickie pasta recipes or a vegetable accompaniment to enjoy with sausages or fish.

So having exhausted these two applications, it is time to get creative.

The cream of the crop

At the end of August, we are still inundated with fruits but the plants are gradually fading. Within a few more weeks, our bountiful crop will be finished so I will conclude this article by describing some of the innovative recipes I discovered on Pinterest (along with one of my own.)

On my Recipes Board, I have pinned two recipes for courgetti and feta fritters. My sister served these on my husband’s birthday. Lighter than air, these delicate and delicious morsels are a joy to bit into; best served with a creamy yoghurt and mint dip, bursting with notes of garlic and lemon juice. Nice! I’m yearning for the recipe now, which she more or less made up apparently; a combination of two, inspired by Jamie and Nigella.

I also found a recipe for courgette, roasted pepper and parmesan muffins which sounds so good, it is worth buying a lump of feta cheese. Half will go in the fritters (which I plan to make this week) and then other half will be sufficient to try the muffins too. Bon appetite!

Last of all, is a recipe I invented myself which I would love to share. My husband bought me a spiralizer for my birthday and I’ve been thinking of ways to use it. I was thrilled by my first attempt at making spicy potato rostis and with an abundance of tender young courgettes at my disposal, I was inspired to try something else…

Crispy Courgetti and Parmesan Rostis

Deliciously succulent and light, these rostis make nice accompaniments to a main meal. I use this recipe to serve 2 but the quantities can be adjusted according the ingredients. This goes really well alongside other vegetables such as steamed carrots and leeks, peas and sweetcorn. The first time I created these, we ate them with herby chicken fillets and a baked potato. They have a cheesy, garliccy flavour which balances well with the more subtle flavour of the courgettes; use young ones if you can get them, the fresher the better.

Ingredients

2 medium courgettes spiralized or thickly grated
1 fat clove of garlic finely chopped
1 escallion shallot finely chopped
2 tsp light olive oil
2 tsp dried herbs (I use herbs Provence)
A grind of Course sea salt (to your taste)
40g finely grated Parmesan cheese

Method

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C, 400 degrees F, Gas mark 6.

Use a clean tea towel or kitchen roll to squeeze as much water out of the courgettes as possible. A mixture too wet will result in soggy rostis as opposed to crispy ones.

spiralized courgettes

Place in a bowl and spoon in the oil, garlic, shallot, sea salt and herbs, stirring to mix well. Sprinkle in HALF the Parmesan cheese and fold into the courgettes to give a slightly sticky mix.

Courgette rosti mix

Spoon into a cake tin or better still, 4 small batter tins. Bake in the oven on the top shelf for 20 minutes, turning half way through cooking.

Courgette rostis

Sprinkle remaining cheeses evenly over the rostis and finish under a hot grill to crisp up. Carefully slide each rosti onto a warm plate and enjoy!

Crispy Courgetti and Parmesan Rostis

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About Helen J. Christmas

I am an English author and have written a series of novels, titled 'Same Face Different Place. Beginnings is a gangland thriller set in the criminal underworld of 1970s London. The second Book 'Visions' is a psychological thriller, set in Kent; a mystery that ensnares the owners of an historic, English Country House. Book 3 Pleasures contains suspense, thrills and YA romance, set in a backdrop of organised crime and at the advent of the British rave culture. There are 2 final books in the series, Retribution (Phase One) and Retribution (End Game) where the saga reaches its dramatic conclusion.
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