Courgette Fritters

These Courgette Fritters are so quick and easy to whip up and make a delicious side dish to accompany any number of dishes!  They’re also pretty good as a brunch option with poached egg and bacon!

Courgette Fritters

They’re pillowy soft and have a nice crisp to the outside.  I absolutely adore them!

Courgette Fritters

I love that such relatively simple ingredients can come together to make something so tasty!

Courgette Fritters

I also love how quickly I can whip these up.  Especially if I already have courgettes grated from making say, a Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake!

Courgette Fritters

Makes 6-10 Fritters (Depending on the size of your courgette, its moisture content and the size of your fritters!)

1 large ish courgette, grated (Use the food processor attachment if you have one!)
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain flour

  • Place your grated courgette in a sieve over a bowl or sink and springle with salt.  Leave it for 5-20 minutes.
  • Gently press out any liquid.
  • Combine the courgette, egg and pepper in a mixing bowl, give it a good stir!
  • Add the flour and mix until well combined.
  • Heat a few tbsp oil in a heavy frying pan (cast iron is great).
  • Add a few spoonfuls of your mixture, well spaced, and press down slightly to level.
  • Cook for a few minutes until crisp and golden brown then flip over and cook for another few minutes until golden brown on the bottom and feeling solid when pressed in the centre.
  • Place on paper towel on a plate and leave in a warm oven while you repeat with the remaining mixture.
  • Enjoy as a side to a main meal, serve for an unusual brunch, take on a picnic, whatever takes your fancy!

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Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake

It’s a familiar refrain at this time of year among those who like to grow their own veg… “Would you like some courgettes?” I have been lucky this year and I too can join this ritual with a bumper crop!  So what to do with this glut of courgettes?  Well, courgettes are one of my favourite vegetables.  So it was only natural that eventually I would put them in a cake!  This Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake is deliciously, deeply chocolaty and ever so moist!

Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake

The spices add a different dimension to this chocolate cake.  They’re not overpowering but instead add a warmth and depth to this rich chocolate cake.  I was inspired by Green & Black’s Maya Gold Chocolate, one of my favourites as the spices are just so good there!

Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake

The icing is beautifully smooth and silky and the hint of orange complements with spiced wonderfully.  I cut back on the amount of sugar in this recipe too as I just don’t think you need as much sugar as we’re used to putting in cakes.  Overall I feel happy calling this cake almost healthy!  It’s probably one of your five a day anyway!

Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake

While you can definitely see the courgette in the uncooked mixture by the time it is cooked it has vanished like magic!  I honestly don’t think that anyone would know it was there if you didn’t tell them.  The crumb isn’t too dense either even though the cake is gloriously moist but without ever approaching brownie territory.

Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake

Makes 1 x 23cm cake

2 medium sized courgettes, grated (500ml in a jug is what you need YMMV on the courgettes required!)
175ml sunflower oil
300g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
350g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp mixed spice

250g dark chocolate (I used a mixture of 50-80% as that’s what I had in the cupboard!)
25g butter
125ml orange juice

  • Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C  and grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.
  • Grate your courgettes (if you have a food processor attachment then use this, its much easier and quicker!)
  • Put your courgettes in a sieve or colander and gently press to squeeze out some excess moisture.
  • Place the courgettes in a large jug, you need to have about 500ml of them.
  • If your jug is big enough (I use a 1l pyrex jug) then add the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla straight to this.  Give it all a good mix.
  • In a large mixing bowl add your flour, cocoa powder and mixed spice and mix it all together.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir thoroughly until all the pockets of flour have disappeared.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 45-60 minutes.  This cooking time will depend very much on the moisture content of your courgettes.  Check it at intervals, it’s done when there is no wobble left and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.
  • To make the icing melt your chocolate and butter together in a bowl.  I use a microwave but you could do it in a bowl over a pan of boiling water if you prefer.
  • Add the orange juice and give it all a really good beating to combine everything together into a smooth icing.
  •  When the cake is cool remove it from the tin and unpeel the paper.
  • Spread the icing evenly over the surface of your cake and enjoy!

 

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Anna’s Solo Camping Tips and Tricks

I love camping!  I grew up being taken off to France for 2 weeks of camping every summer.  As we grew older the experience refined itself rather (from cabin tents and air beds to air conditioned mobile homes!) but the essential experience remained the same.  Two weeks of living outside, running wild on a campsite and  soaking up the sun.  As an adult I have missed that and last year a friend and I headed south to spend a week camping in the Ardeche.  It was amazing!  This year, however, I lacked both funds and company.  I wasn’t going to let that stop me though!  A few weeks ago I headed off to the Lake District for a quick break to get some fresh air in my lungs!

Solo Camping

This tent has now been ebayed as it pitches like a drunken frigate!

Now as a solo female camper I see no reason at all not to indulge myself.  I try to keep it within reason and not fill the whole car but at the same time, why rough it more than you have to?

The Set Up: First off, you’ll need a tent!  If you’re camping in England like me then go for one with a high waterproof rating.  2000 should do you nicely.  This is a 3 man tent, which has plenty of space for one or even two.  I also like a little windbreak, one for actually being a wind break (this is England!) and two it also provides a little measure of privacy that can be very welcome depending on your pitch.  I also bring the folding picnic table so I can sit up and also use the table like a grown up!  And if you’re bringing a table then why not bring a pretty oilcloth table cloth?

Security: Before I go on, a quick word on safety, obviously trust your own instincts in any situation but as a solo female camper I take a few precautions no matter where I camp.  I keep a personal attack alarm handy by my bed and I have a small padlock on the tent door.  Small measures but they make me feel a lot safer.  I’ve never had reason to need either one, luckily!

Solo Camping

Sleeping: Yoga mats on the floor under the air bed and in the centre provide much more padding than you might think.  They definitely take the edge off any rocky Cumbrian ground you may be pitching on!  I have a teddy bear fleece fitted sheet as well as a normal fitted sheet on my air bed and a 13.5 tog duvet.  Extra fleece blankets can be added if you need the insulation.  Darcy has his own little bed!  If you are camping and it’s a little colder you can add one of those reflective emergency blankets between the airbed and the groundsheet, which stops you losing heat that way.  Air beds can be cold like that but I find them much more comfortable than anything else.  If it’s really cold you could even place one between the inner and the rain fly if it won’t block any vents.

Solo Camping

Stuff: I have one box full of camping bits and pieces that can just be slung in the car as needed and another box for food and drink.  I really didn’t need half the stuff I brought with me for this trip but I’ve never knowingly packed light in my life! I’d rather have more than I need than not enough!  Some essentials for this box: binbags, duct tape and tissues.  You never know how well supplied a campsite bathroom may be and tissue packets are a lot more genteel than wandering round with a loo roll!  I also bring a portable battery charger so I can recharge my phone and tablet while away from mains power.  This way I never need to worry about whether there’s a hook up or not.

Solo Camping

Kitchen Box: Within the box of camping bits I have smaller boxes with different things in so I can grab that box as needed.  The large spotty box has my “kitchen” bits: mugs, plates, bowls, pans, chopping boards, tin foil etc.  (Never go camping without tin foil! In this instance I used it to make sure the grass was protected from my little campfire as well as more normal uses!

Solo Camping

Utensils: The smaller boxes have things like the cutlery and utensils in.  I cannot recommend the Children’s department in Ikea highly enough for basic but highly servicable cutlery, plates, bowls and even mini utensils!  They do this brilliant set of tongs, ladle, scoopy thing, spatula and whisk that fit perfectly in the boxes I use.  I imagine if you’re into backpacking where every bit of extra weight counts these might just be a godsend!  And don’t forget the bottle opener/tin opener!  Vital piece of camping kit, that! Also make sure you pack at least one good sharp knife.

Solo Camping

Washing Up: I also have little boxes for washing up with washing up liquid in a travel shampoo container, more on those later, and a universal travel plug, which is a very handy thing to have! The other boxes are for Fire (fire lighters, matches, lighter) and Useful Bits like a washing line, peg extractor, bulldog clips (which are invaluable while camping for all sorts of things!) and a lollipop stick for deflating the air bed.

Solo Camping

Condiments: Now, about those travel shampoo bottles!  They are perfect for taking condiments for short breaks.  They’re designed to hold liquids and not spill.  I take ketchup, oil, mayonnaise etc in these.  I also use the little screw top tubs for salt and pepper.

Solo CampingSolo Camping

Cooking: Now, food is what we’re about here and I think I manage very nicely with my trusty little gas hob.  I could get a bigger one with a toaster and 2 rings but I have managed to resist because I really don’t need it!  A little folding wind break is highly recommended though.

Solo Camping

I’m not so good at campfire cooking so I leave the campfire experiments to dessert until I get a better feel for it!  Once it’s on fire it’s probably done, right?

Solo Camping

 

 

 

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Grilled Salmon and Miso Soba Noodles

A recipe with a bit of a Japanese twist today!  This Grilled Salon with Miso Soba Noodles is quick (about 10 minutes to cook), simple and delicious!  What’s not to love about that? Oh and it’s super healthy for you too! Grilled Salmon with Miso Soba Noodles

You marinate the salmon the night before (or even for a few days, it won’t spoil it!) and then simply pop it on the grill while you cook your noodles.  10  minutes, done and dusted!

Grilled Salmon with Miso Soba Noodles

I actually made this for my lunches during what I knew was going to be a hectic week.  I needed good quality food, full of nutrients that would tempt me to actually stop and eat rather than grabbing something worthless on the fly.  This dish is delicious either hot or cold.  If you haven’t had cold noodles during a heat wave I urge you to give it a go, they’re divine!

Grilled Salmon with Miso Soba Noodles

 

2 salmon fillets
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 bundle soba noodles
1 sachet tofu and wakame miso soup
edamame to serve

– Place your salmon in a sealable watertight bag and add the soy sauce and mirin.
– Leave in the fridge to marinate overnight or longer.
– When ready to cook simply place the salmon on a health grill or in a frying pan.  If cooking in a pan remember to flip over then the colour has changed half way up.  Pour the marinating liquid over the top (being careful of run off for the health grill!)
– Prepare the soba according to packet instructions (usually cook for about 4 minutes in boiling water).
– Drain the noodles (don’t be too thorough) and then add the miso paste and dried wakame and tofu bits.  Add a little splash of hot water to slacken.
– Stir well to coat the noodles in miso.
– Serve with edamame if you fancy them!

 

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Effortless Afternoon Tea

Effortless Afternoon Tea

I have a real love for Afternoon Tea.  To my mind there’s something deliciously civilised about sitting down with a friend to eat cake, drink tea and just chat about the world.

Effortless Afternoon Tea

The ritual of setting out the cakes and making tea is so very soothing.  It sets aside this time for you and your considerations.  The world around you can wait.  You have tea and cake to focus on!

Effortless Afternoon Tea

I love preparing for an afternoon tea.  My Fruit Scones are quick and simple to whip up and are always a delight.  I can spend hours fussing over making little dainty sandwiches and tartlettes.

Effortless Afternoon Tea

But what if you have no time? What if your oven has broken? What if you just can’t bake?!

(You can, if you can read a recipe you can bake a cake.  You only need to believe in yourself and have a go, make a few biscuit cakes (wrong flour, oven too hot) and do your best!)

Effortless Afternoon Tea

Well, my friends, even I have found myself in these circumstances.  Sometimes you need the ritual of afternoon tea to step away from your hectic, chaotic world without the chaos of hours of prep in the kitchen.  Here is my advice: You Cheat.  Mr Kipling is your friend.

Effortless Afternoon Tea

Even if you have a reputation as a superb baker no one will mind if you have cheated.  It’s taking the time to sit with friends with a little something sweet and a relaxing cup of tea that is important.  With a nice cake stand and some pretty china (charity shops are a gold mine for this stuff!) take the time instead to lay a pretty table and forget about the stress of baking for a while.  Sometimes it is simply the more civilised thing to do!

 

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Herby Roasted New Potatoes

This recipe is a nice, easy, way of pepping up your potatoes a little.  For very little effort you get a whole lot of flavour and an absolutely gorgeous texture you usually only get with twice cooked chips!

Herby Roast Potatoes

The smell of the roasted herbs is amazing too!  These were cooked alongside a roast chicken and the whole kitchen smelt so good!

Herby Roast Potatoes

– Take a bag of new potatoes and place them in a nice oven dish.
– Drizzle with olive oil (3 tbsp at least, be generous!)
– Sprinkle with a pinch sea salt.
– Scatter with sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme.
– Put in the top of the oven for 1 hour at gas mark 5.
– Done! Potatoes!

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Tequila Shrimp Tacos

I’m British, I don’t really like to blow my own trumpet but let me just start by saying BY GOD I’M GOOD! These Tequila Shrimp Tacos were one of my proudest culinary inventions.  They rocked my world!

Tequila Shrimp Tacos

Ahem, sorry about that.  But you see they had sprung from the idea of a craving.  I’d never had shrimp tacos before, I think I’d only ever eaten tacos once before actually, when I was about 17! But I had this idea.  And this idea grew on me and developed and matured until I just had to make them.  And they were everything I had dreamed!

Tequila Shrimp Tacos

The shrimp were deliciously meaty and briney, the limes added that fresh ZING! that cut through and enlivened everything.

Tequila Shrimp Tacos

The Lime Chipotle Creme Fraiche, OH MY GOD! THE LIME CHIPOTLE CREME FRAICHE! I could write sonnets to this little dish, I really could!

All in all I was so so happy with this dish and I hope you will be too!

Tequila Shrimp Tacos
300g King prawns
1tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp chipotle chilli powder
1 tsp coriander leaves (fresh or dried)
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp tequila

100g creme fraiche
1tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp chipotle chilli powder

1 ripe avocado
2 salad tomatoes
1tbsp lime juice
Pinch salt

Taco shells (Could use tortillas if you can’t get the taco shells)

Shredded lettuce

Limes!

– Heat a small splash of oil in a pan and add the king prawns, lime juice, chipotle chili powder, coriander, garlic and cumin to the pan.
– Cook until everything is nice and fragrant but no so long that the prawns shrivel.
– Add the tequila and simmer until reduced to a thick sauce.

– Stir together the creme fraiche, lime juice and chipotle chili powder in a bowl and set aside.

– Dice the avocado and tomatoes into chunks, add the lime juice and a pinch of salt, mix and set aside.

– Assemble your tacos with the lettuce and a good squeeze of lime on top.  Since you’ve got the tequila out already why the hell not, eh?

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Filed under Easy, Mains