Friday, August 12, 2011

Torta Mexicana with Char-grilled Courgette

Tortas are Mexican filled rolls, stuffed to overspilling with delicious fillings. The trick is to remove some of the crumb from the top half of the roll beforehand, in order to be able to fit more filling in (I can't believe I didn't think of that before!). Traditionally I believe the bottom half is spread with refried beans first, which sounds delicious but as this was a quick lunch unfortunately I didn't have any refried beans 'handy'. So I have just used mashed avocado as a spread. I have used courgette as the hot element to this filled roll, but other char-grilled vegetables could be used, or a fried egg, or meat lovers could use bacon or chorizo (as Thomasina Miers used recently in her mexican TV cookery show on Channel 5, which gave me the idea to make torta today). To make this vegan, leave out the cheese.

Makes 2 tortas

-2 large crusty rolls (pain rustique type), or 2 large chunks of ciabatta or rustic baguette.
-1 courgette, halved widthways then sliced lengthways 
-1 avocado
-4 slices of mature cheddar cheese, crumbled
-2 spring onions, sliced
-4-5 radishes; thinly sliced
-2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
-2 tsp chopped jalapenos
-4 little gem lettuce leaves
Cholula mexican sauce (or tabasco or similar - optional)
1 tsp sunflower oil

1. Heat a griddle or plancha until hot, then place the courgette slices on it, brushing both sides with a little sunflower oil. Grill until soft, turning regularly.
2. Slice the rolls in half then hollow out the top halves (leave roughly 1cm of crust). Move the courgettes to one side and toast the inside of the rolls on the griddle for a minute or two.

3. Scoop out the avocado and divide between the bottom halves of the rolls, mashing and spreading it out to the edges. Top with the chopped coriander, radishes, spring onion and jalapenos, pressing down. Lay some courgette slices on top followed by the cheese. At this point feel free to drizzle over your hot sauce of choice. Top with the lettuce leaves then close the roll with the top halves and press down firmly.

YUM. This is the best roll I have had in a long time! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Linguine with Courgette Flowers, Chilli and Mint

Impatience inspired this dish. I have been lovingly nurturing some courgette plants grown from seed over the last few months. Male flowers have just started to bloom, but the female flowers are still developing- so I will have to wait a while longer before I can harvest courgettes (typically, this will probably happen while I am away on holiday!). So, while I wait for the female flowers and the courgettes, I am harvesting some of the male courgette flowers and experimenting with them. More experiments to follow!

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter


-200g linguine
-8 - 10 courgette flowers, stamens removed and carefully washed
-1 courgette (obviously mine was from our veg box not the garden :-( ) very thinly sliced into lengths
-1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
-1 dried red chilli, chopped
-4 - 5 leaves of fresh mint, chopped
-200ml double cream
-100g grated parmesan or alternative
-1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook the linguine according to packet instructions (in salted water). 
2. To make the sauce, gently fry the garlic and chilli in the oil for 1 - 2 minutes. Tear the flowers into pieces and add to the pan with the mint. Fry for another minute or two, then add the cream. Simmer for 4-5 minutes then stir in the cheese and season to taste.
3. Add the linguine to the pan along with the courgette strips. Stir through then serve with extra parmesan on top if desired. 

It's been a while so I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, this week hosted by: Briciole.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spinach & Mustard Quiche

Mustard goes so well with green vegetables and also with cheese, so I think it works really well in this deep filled quiche. I served this with a salad composed of green beans (fresh from the garden! very proud), baby leaves, and walnuts tossed together with garlic, fresh mint, and olive oil. Delicious summer evening supper!

Serves 4 as a starter, or 2 as a main


-200g shortcrust pastry or 1 roll ready made
-350g spinach, cooked and drained (with as much water squeezed out as possible)
-3 eggs, beaten
-200ml double cream or crème fraîche
-150g grated cheese (I used cheddar)
-2 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
-Salt, pepper, nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a greased 20 - 23cm quiche tin with the pastry and bake blind (with baking beans and greaseproof paper) for 15 minutes. If using home-made pastry, roll out on a floured surface to a circle large enough to fill a 20-23cm quiche tin then chill for 30 minutes before baking blind. 
2. Remove the tin from the oven and remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper. Spread the mustard onto the pastry base then cover with the cooked spinach, pressing down. In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, cream, half of the cheese and seasoning. Carefully pour this onto the spinach then sprinkle over the remaining cheese. 
3. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until cooked through and golden. Serve with a salad. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Barbecued Aubergine Rolls stuffed with herbs and cheese

We had an impromptu barbecue tonight, and I made these as we had an aubergine and other bits and bobs to use up. There are so many things you can do with vegetables on the barbecue!

Serves 2 (makes 4 - 6 rolls)


-1 aubergine sliced lengthways into 0.5cm slices, salted and left for 1h in a colander
-4 - 5 chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
-2 tbsp breadcrumbs
-1 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (I used rosemary, thyme, and chives)
-2 tbsp grated cheese (I used a vegetarian hard cheese)
-1 clove garlic, chopped
-Splash of white wine
Seasoning, oil for frying

1. Fry the mushrooms in the oil until starting to brown. Add the garlic and herbs and fry for 1 minute more. Add the breadcrumbs and a splash of white wine and stir until absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Season to taste.
2. Rinse and dry the aubergine slices and brush with olive oil. Place on a barbecue and grill on both sides.
3. When cool enough to handle, divide the mushroom mixture between the aubergine slices and roll up.

Secure with a cocktail stick if needed. Serve warm - you could put the rolls on the barbecue for a few minutes to heat through if desired.