I have recently developed a passion, no obsession, with Pick Your Own Farms. Following my new fad of preserve making (chutney blog to follow) I have discovered the breadth of fresh produce available to pick yourself , allowing for careful selection for ones culinary requirements and desires at a ridiculously low price. The produce in the picture (most picked with my very own hands, some from the farm shop itself) came to a little over twenty pounds! The variety available at british farms surprised me, with our lack of a summer affecting crop growth I was not expecting great things. However, the sheer size and quality of the veggies were second to none, with the gargantuan courgettes we picked leaving their supermarket equivalents looking like tiny matchsticks to full size cricket bats. So, with a larder full of fresh fruit and vegetables my sister and I have set ourselves a challenge, which from hence forth shall always be referred to as ‘Veggie Fortnight’. For two whole weeks, fourteen nights, every meal we consume will be entirely meat free. As die hard carnivores we know it will be a challenge. But, what with our wealth of fresh fruit and veg, courtesy of the fields of Stanley’s farm (www.http://www.stanleysfarmshop.co.uk/), the challenge should bring a collection of new recipes to our repertoire and maybe even show us the error of our meat eating ways.
Night one’s meal involved entertaining some guests, a normal meal at the Moran household during such occasion would definitely involve some form of meat or fish, and with a fear of leaving our guests with rumbling stomachs when faced with just a side salad, saw us delve deeper into our culinary imaginations. On the menu for numero uno was Courgette and Goat’s Cheese Tart, with a mixed tomato salad all served with fresh, home made bread.
Courgette and Goat’s Cheese Tart
1 large courgette (grated)
150g of Goat’s Cheese, hard with rind (this is extremely generous!)
4 eggs (medium-large, free range of course.)
75ml of double cream (or lacto free as we used)
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Pastry;
I used the half fat method,
so 4oz (roughly 110 grams ) Salted Butter to 8oz (225 grams) Plain Flour, pinch of salt and enough water to bind.
1) The easiest and quickest (laziest) way to make pastry is in the food processor, Bung everything in, whizz it up, add enough water to bind and whack it in the refrigerator. By letting the pastry rest in fridge you are letting the gluten ‘relax’ as well as keeping the butter in it cool enough. When the pastry is rolled out it melts the butter, by cooling it down to start with your pastry will retain its texture and integrity.
2)Once the pastry has rested in the fridge for a while, you can roll it out to around about half a centre meter thickness, maybe slightly thinner depending on the shape and size of your tin. Then it needs blind baking, for around 10-15 mins till just shy of golden brown, remove the baking beans and bake for another five to avoid what Great British Bake off deemed ‘a soggy bottom’.
3) Once the courgette has been grated ensure you remove as much as the excess liquid (dabbing with Kitchen Towel is the best method), place the courgette on the base.
2) Beat the eggs, mix with the cream and season to taste, pour this mixture over the courgette. Slice the goats cheese leaving the rind on and place on top of the tart.
3) Bake at 200 degrees/ gas mark 6 for 35 minutes until the goats cheese is golden brown and ready to serve!
Mixed Tomato Salad.
This tomato salad can use any variety of tomato, I used vine cherry tomatoes, tigerella tomatoes and meli melo tomatoes. Chop up into desired size and place in a bowl. Rip up some basil leaves, pour over 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 2 of olive oil and season well. Left for a while to rest the flavours will start to infuse into the tomatoes, best served with rocket or (like myself, as I was short on the spicy peppery favourite) any old form of salad leaf.
This was served with a plaited loaf, although not my finest hour as I left it too long and it over-proved, leaving the plaited design more like a few lines on a normal loaf. However, it was flavoured with onion salt and rosemary and still looked pretty good and when dipped into olive oil and balsamic vinegar the lack of definition in its shape was soon forgotten.
Possible the most famous Vegetarian (and the first one to jump to my mind) would be Paul McCartney, seems fitting to listen to Hey Jude whilst chowing down on some vegetarian fare…
Day one was pretty successful, but its early days, bring on the next 13 days of veggie delights to see whether we’ll be converts!