Monthly Archives: July 2012

Reconstructing the Polenta

The thing about making polenta is that if you don’t have a large family or invite all your friends round you will have to eat it twice. This is not a hardship. It’s really easy to make and can be reconstucted in many ways.

We grilled some little chubby courgettes from the garden, an aubergine and the slices of polenta and then we stacked them together with slices of buffalo mozzarella and basil. Whilst that was going on the cherry tomatoes that we had tossed in olive oil were roasting in the oven.

This was all surprisingly fast and easy – we were eating the polenta that we made the day before, and it was absolutely delicious.
grilled polenta, courgette, aubergine, mozzarella and basil with roasted cherry tomatoes
Polenta is ground maize/corn and in these recipes it’s cooked like a porridge.  poshed up with parmesan cheese and butter and spread out on a tray to cool. We then slice it into wedges, rub it with olive oil and grill it on a cast iron grill pan. Its delicious eaten with salads or as a main dish.

Rainy Monday Baking Frenzy

The rainy weather is great excuse to hang around the kitchen with cookbooks dreaming up what to cook next.

This afternoons bake up involved the soft fruit from the garden and we’re making raspberry and white chocolate muffins and a summer fruit cheesecake. If they pass the neighbourhood tasting test we’ll move the recipes onto the shop. As I type this we have a small mountain of muffins – our muffin tins were obviously very small as a recipe that should have made twelve muffins actually made 24- but they’re looking good and the cheesecake is in the oven.

The muffins were made with spelt flour as we realised we had run out of ordinary flour, it turned out to be a happy accident . We invited the neigbours round for a muffin tasting session and they gave them the thumbs up. Expect to see our latest muffin addition in the shop soon!

Grilled Polenta with Roasted Beets, Carrots and the Summer Bean Salad

Tonight we ate tomato, bean and basil salad with roasted beets and polenta. Mainly because we wanted to take a photo of the bean salad. It was another very variable weather day. As soon as we installed ourselves outside, so it rained and vice versa. As soon as we got stuck inside, in the tunnels so the sun came out. This movement back and forth decided the diner menu. Whilst we were sheltering in the tunnel we pulled some carrots. Beautiful stumpy Chantenay carrots. Like bullets with intense carrot flavour. The sun came back out and I found myself on the sod sofa muching on one of these taste explosions mulling over dinner possibilities. The bright orange of the carrot led to our multi jewelled collection of beetroots . In the end I roasted the two together, earthy and sweet, and we ate them with grilled slices of polenta and yoghurt olive oil sauce. The bean salad was a very tasty side kick.  Here are the photos

Summer on a plate: Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

When you have your own vegetable garden there’s always something coming out of your ears.

Right now, with us, it’s cabbages and beetroots, which are lush and large after all the warm, wet weather. Luckily they hold quite well so we don’t actually have to eat them all at once and they are supplying a steady supply of cole slaws and beetroot salads to the shop.

When we get a little sunshine at this time of the year it really shifts things along and when it happens it’s woompf, everything ripens before our eyes.

Sunshine also has a great impact on flavour, which is why a locally grown and ripened tomato is going to taste so much better than a tomato that has been picked under-ripe and then travelled hundreds of kilometers in refrigerated trucks. Hopefully by the time that you read this, the tomatoes will be ripening at a fantastic rate and they will be available in the farmers markets and local shops. Vegetables that ripen at the same time usually make great partnerships and this months recipe is simple assembly of ingredients, French beans, tomatoes and basil, tossed with a tasty vinaigrette. It entails virtually no cooking, and is suitable for all occasions. Even if the weather is still under performing you will taste summer on your plate.

Follow the directions to cook the beans carefully as it’s important that the beans are not overdone.

Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

450g French beans

250g ripe tomatoes, any shape or size

1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced

1 clove garlic

75ml olive oil

25ml sunflower oil

1 tbs white balsamic or white wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

50g coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

a large handful basil, roughly chopped

Peel and finely slice the red onion. Rub a little salt into it and break up the rings. Leave aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe and this will soften the onion.

Put a large pot of salted water to boil. It needs to be large pot full of water so that when the beans are put in the temperature of the water doesn’t drop drastically. The quicker the water returns to the boil the squeakier your beans will be

Top and tail the beans and when the water is boiling add the beans. When the water returns to the boil cook for about 4 minutes. Test a bean by biting into one. The beans should squeak when you bite and be barely tender. If they are ready strain and plunge into cold water. This will stop them from

cooking further.

Wash the tomatoes and chop into small chunks, about a centimetre each if possible or if you use cherry tomatoes cut them into half.

To make the vinaigrette chop the garlic finely and mix together with the Dijon mustard and vinegar. Whisk in the oils in with a fork or a small whisk. Taste, and season with salt and pepper

Drain the beans and cut into roughly 5-6cm lengths..

Put the beans and tomatoes into a bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt then add the onion, basil and coarsely grated parmesan. When you are ready to eat toss everything together with the vinaigrette and serve immediately

The schedule for the autumn cooking classes is now ready and we will be beginning with a Harvest cooking class at Lettercollum on Saturday 15th September which will have plenty of simple seasonal recipes for soups, salads and easy dinners. Our website has the full autumn programme.

On a final note we would like to thank everyone that helped us to clean up the shop after the flooding earlier this month. The kitchen is now fully functioning and we’re happy to be back in business.