Zucchini Garlic Soup

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By accident, I found out a close enough version of the zucchini soup I used to ate at the university’s research centre canteen. Many years and canteens after, I now realise how much love and care was put into it. It was probably the most homely food away from home I ever had…

Zucchini Garlic Soup (adapted from a recipe found in The Kitchn)

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 8 to 9 large cloves of garlic,  peeled and crushed
  • 4 medium zucchini (about 750g), peeled
  • 1L of  chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 thumb of ginger, grated
  • Salt and pepper

Methods

Melt the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. When it foams, add the onions and cook on a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes,  until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the crushed garlic and ginger. Fry for a couple of minutes more, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown.

When the onions and garlic are done, add the zucchini and cook until soft. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer at a low heat for about 45 minutes.Taste and season with freshly ground salt and pepper.

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Baked stuffed zucchini

Another recipe with minimal verbiage. I happened to have all these ingredients in the fridge. A few google searches after, I found this baked stuffed zucchini  on All Recipes. A few tweaks after, dinner was served.

Baked stuffed zucchini 

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini
  • 2 firm tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp dried mint (fresh mint would have been better, but I had none left)
  • 450g g minced meet (pork and beef)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g tomato sauce (I used tomatada, but  passata or a lightly diluted tomato sauce could also work well)
  • 1 spring chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tbsp Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method
Preheat the oven to 190°C (gas 5). Cut each zucchini  in half lengthways and scoop out the pulpy centre with a teaspoon, leaving an outside shell, 1cm thick. Reserve the pulp, and chop lightly.

Place the zucchini in a shallow baking dish or roasting tin, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes or until tender – they should pierce easily with a fork.

Mix the eggs with the chopped plum tomatoes, mint,  and pepper to season. Set aside.

Fry the minced meat over a medium heat until browned. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a further 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Stir in the tomato sauce,  reserved zucchini pulp and rosemary. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10–15 minutes. Stir in the egg mixture and mix together.

5. Spoon the stuffing mixture into the zucchini boats and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden and crispy on top. Serve immediately.


Crushed courgettes and roasted chicken

In a couple of weeks, courgettes’s season will be almost over.  But, for the time being, we still can find them at the supermarket screaming to be cooked with loads flavors to soak up. For example –  garlic, thyme and mint, as in this crushed courgettes dish Yotam Ottolenghi created for The New Vegetarian.

To go with the courgettes, nothing better than a roasted chicken. For this one, I used a very basic recipe I saw on Masterchef Australia (with a couple of tweaks).

Crushed courgettes

Ingredients 

  • 3 large courgettes (750g), cut in half lengthways and then into 6cm pieces
  • 1 whole garlic bulb, separated into unpeeled cloves
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1½ tsp coarse sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 70ml olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1½ tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

 Method

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Put the courgettes and garlic cloves in a bowl and add the dried mint, thyme, salt, some black pepper and the oil. Mix everything together and transfer to a medium baking dish – make sure the courgette pieces overlap a little, cut side up, and form a single layer. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the courgettes have softened and taken on some colour.

Transfer everything to a colander, pressing the courgettes so they start to release some of their liquid, and leave to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Transfer the contents of the colander to a mixing bowl, and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins (discard the skins). Mash everything together with a fork (if the courgettes’ skin is on the tough side, you may have to chop them with a knife). Stir in the remaining ingredients and set aside for an hour before serving.

Roasted chicken 

Ingredients 

  • 1 chicken, broken down into legs & breasts still on the bone
  • 8 sprigs of rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven at 220oC

Cover the  bottom of a roasting tray with olive oil.  Put the chicken into the tray skin, with the side up in one evenly spread layer.

Pat the chicken skin with a paper towel until it is dry.  Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper  and drizzle with olive oil. Put the rosemary on top of the chicken pieces.

Put the tray into the oven, and  cook the chicken for about 35min.


Beef stew with mushrooms and vegetables

A dish with no history and minimal verbiage. I happened to have all these veggies in the fridge and Mr Caramelised brought home a cut of beef that screamed for stew. Forty-five minutes later, dinner was served.

Beef stew with mushrooms and vegetables 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut in half-moon slices.
  • 1 garlic clove, grounded
  • 250g of button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), sliced
  • 2 red peppers deseeded and sliced in fine strips
  • 3 zucchini (=courgette) cut in slices
  • 500g of stew beef cut in cubes
  • 50g of flour or Maizena
  • 100ml red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 thyme springs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250ml of vegetable stock

Method

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmer. Toss the mushrooms. Let them fry until soft and fragrant. Reserve.

Clean the frying pan with a kitchen paper, put more olive oil and heat it until it shimer. Put the red pepper in, and let it fry until soft. Finally, add the courgette in the pan, and let it fry for a few minutes until soft . Reserve  courgette and red peppers, together with the mushrooms.

In the meanwhile, place beef cubes and flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Shake off excess flour. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until it shimmer.  Add half the floured meat and fry until sealed and meat has begun to brown. Be careful not too put too many pieces in the frying pan. Instead of frying, the meat will boil to death, with rather unpleasant results. Reserve the meat.

In the same frying pan, put the onion and fry until caramelised, stirring occasionally (it must be soft and translucent. It will take about 15minutes). Add the grounded garlic and the reserved flour and panfry, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in approximately 100mL of red wine stir well to combine and deglaze the frying pan. When the sauce starts to thicken, toss in the meat and reserved vegetables. Mix well to combine, and then add the vegetable stock. Add the bay leave and the thyme.

Let simmer for about 15min, until the stock reduces to half and the sauce is a bit thick. Take out from the stove and let it rest for a bit.


Coconut and zucchini bread

I saw it on Canela Moída, whom had seen it on The Novice Housewife, whom had seen it on Thru The Bugs On My Windshield, whom had seen it on Meet the Swans whom had seen it on Cooking Light Comfort Food Cookbook.  Somewhere along the way, the bananas in the original recipe were replaced by an equivalent amount of zucchini (= courgette=calabacin). The combination of flavors sounds a bit iffy – Zucchini? in a cake?? with coconut???  But, have not prejudices: the result is scrumptious. Not only it passed the 11-year old test, but also the 8-month eat it all with gusto and impatience. If he only knew those green dots belongs the same family than the green soups he spits all over himself…

Some bloggers made a Coconut Rum Lime glaze to put on top of it. I am not a big fan of sugary things and excessive ornamentation of cakes, and skipped it. Keeping on sugar matters, this cake is not at all sweet. If you have a sweet tooth, you might want to add more sugar than the quantity I used. Or replace the zucchini by an equivalent amount of bananas.

Coconut Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter (about 60g)
  • 1 cup sugar (about 200g. You might want to increase the amount, if you like yours more sweet)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups ripe zucchini, grated (about 1 medium size 2 zucchinis,  app 120g)
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used a whole small pack, with about 180g, minus 1 table spoon))
  • 1 teaspoon rum (I used Malibu – maybe a little more than a 1 teaspoon)
  • The seeds of a vanilla pod (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
  • 2/3 cup grated coconut (about 100g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour (about 250g)

Methods

Pre heat the oven to 180 oC . Grease a loaf pan with butter and powder it with flour.

Cream butter and sugar until the mixture is white and fluffy.  Then beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well.

Add the zucchini, the yogurt, the vanilla seeds and the rum. Beat until well blended.

Fold in the coconut and all the dry ingredients,  and mix until just blended (do not over stir).

Spoon the  batter into the loaf pan previously buttered.

Bake for about an hour, or until toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the bread.

Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer to serving plate.

Coconut Rum Lime Glaze

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sugar
  • The seeds of a vanilla pod (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)
  • 1 teaspoon of  rum or rum extract
  • 3 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Milk as required to get the glaze to the right consistency (you can use coconut milk, in case you have that in hand)
  • Roasted coconut to taste

Method

Mix all ingredients except the milk in a medium bowl. Add milk until it becomes a thick but smooth glaze. Set aside.

Toast coconut under the broiler until just browned. Set aside.

Drizzle glaze over bread. Top with toasted coconut and lime zest.


Courgette and feta fritters

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Other than his very popular New Vegetarian column at the Guardian, Yotam Ottolenghi also writes for Here Is The City News. And, he doesn’t hesitate to use recipes the editor of the Guardian didn’t see fit to publish. This one had to be dropped from a section on quick and healthy breakfasts. Having tried it, I can certainly understand why. It took me a couple of hours and a dishwasher load to have it ready. It might be delicious, but it is not exactly what you need to to start the day… Unless you go to Nopi’s and order it from the menu.

Courgette and feta fritters

Ingredients 
Sauce:

  • 200g soured cream (I replaced it by lactose free yogurt)
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 70ml sunflower oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and black pepper
Fritters
  • 3 medium courgettes
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped (but very very finely, otherwise you will feel you are chewing onions)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Grated zest of 2 limes
  • About 60g self-raising flour
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 150g manouri cheese (or feta)
Method

In a small bowl, mix the cream, chopped coriander, half a teaspoon of ground cardamom, two teaspoons of oil and the lime zest and juice. Season to taste, cover and chill.

Chop off the ends of the courgettes, then grate the flesh into a bowl. Sprinkle with half a teaspoon of salt and leave for 10 minutes so they release their juices. Squeeze the courgettes to remove most of the liquid, then add the shallots, garlic, lime zest, flour, eggs, ground coriander, the remaining cardamom and a pinch of pepper. Mix to form a thick batter (add some flour if it’s a bit runny), then fold in the manouri.

Heat 2-3mm of oil in a large frying pan and add heaped dessertspoons of the batter (in batches, if need be), flatten a little and cook on each side for around three minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. (larger portions than a tablespoon will give very messy fritters. Do not forget to flat).

Serve three fritters per portion with a generous dollop of the sauce.