Zucchini bake with olives, sundried tomatoes and feta

A colleague of mine who is a keen gardener and has an allotment, turned up to work one day with what he called “mutant zucchini”,  offering them to anyone interested. I asked him why they were named so and if one should be eating them given they were mutant. Apparently they just grew really rapidly and doubled in size overnight, thus making them mutant. Convinced that I wasn’t going to be eating anything toxic, I brought home 1 giant yellow and 1 giant green zucchini.

That was the easy bit. The hard part was to figure out what to do with them. Zucchini bread maybe – but I didn’t ave the patience or the time  to knead and allow the dough to rise. Zucchini cake – I didn’t think vegetable cakes would go down too well and I would end up with most of the cake in my belly. So I did the usual thing of querying fellow wordpressers for some ideas. Lots of great stuff out there but I settled on this one for proportions http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/zucchini_breakfast_casserole/. As with most recipes, I added my own things to it and removed things I didn’t feel like using.  I served my zucchini bake with a tomato chutney (that I will provide a recipe for) and some rosemary bread (thank you Waitrose!) . Hope you like it.

Zucchni bake with tomato chutney and rosemary bread

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Summer holiday series: 3. Summer spaghetti with zucchini and cherry tomatoes

Having polished off the Red Capsicum-Tomato dip and walnut bread very quickly, we got to work on the main and dessert. This recipe for summer spaghetti is one I made up as I went. My partner and his mum physically put this together so I won’t take credit for it. My contributions were the the roasting of the vegetables and calling out the ingredients off the top of my head while beating egg whites for dessert. It was a lot of fun working together in the lovely kitchen and the end result was yummy!

While one would typically grate/shave parmesan over spaghetti, we thought we’d use the local cheeses Cabecou and Rocamadour instead.They are little, round, lovely sheep and goat’s milk cheeses. Easy to digest and very very tasty – better still, we bought it straight from the “Fermier” or farmer at the local market. You can have it on your sandwich, in an omlette, over pasta or just on its own. I’ll have to go on a hunt for some in England – Maybe Ocado will have it !

I’ll stop my banter now and give you the recipe. Hope you try it and if you like it, do let me know at canwehavesomerasam@gmail.com 🙂

Summer spaghetti…

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My take on a vegetarian moussaka

Those who have seen “My big fat Greek wedding” might remember the scene when the other kids in school mock Nia Vardalos’ lunch calling it “Mous-ka-ka”. I thought it was hilariously cruel (it’s easy to make me laugh at silly things shall we say). So I decide to run around the house on evening announcing that I was going to make a Vegetarian mous-ka-ka and my partner looked at me like I’d lost it. Clearly, he hasn’t watched the movie.

This Greek dish has forever eluded me as I can’t say I’ve come across any restaurant posing a vegetarian moussaka.So I decided to take matters into my own hands and create one for dinner. First stop – the interwebs. Thanks to my fellow wordpress-ers  or wordpress-ites, I found some rather good recipes. My recipe is mainly inspired by the following two recipes http://www.culinaryadventuresinthekitchen.com/2012/02/08/785/ and http://oolongrouge.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/my-big-fat-vegetarian-moussaka/. I’d made pizza for dinner the day before mousakka Sunday so I decided to salvage some of the leftover vegetables into the dish.

Hope you like it!

Vegetarian moussaka

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Cheat’s vegetable Malaysian curry laksa

Notice I say “vegetable” and not “vegetarian” laksa ? Well, there’s a reason for it and I wouldn’t want to lie. While I am a full-time vegetarian, there are some things for which I shift the Vegetarian line a little. Fruit jubes are one such item – it is a well known fact that they have gelatine in them but they are so yummy I cannot resist. My mother who is quite often a proselytizing (ha ha , big word ! It means the act of trying to convert others) vegetarian has a soft spot for fruit jubes. Of course, these days, pectin is used as a substitute but a couple of decades ago, it wasn’t so common, not even in India.

Curry laksa is another dish for which I slightly modify the definition of “vegetarian”. Those who have eaten laksa will agree with me that it is this amazing taste explosion. Once you’ve had a good laksa, you will crave for more. One of our favourite hangouts in Melbourne was a place called “Coconut curry house” that made some pretty awesome curry laksa. If you are ever there, you must try some. More recently, a Malaysian colleague of mine brought us over some authentic curry laksa. Her mum made the paste and she put it together. We thought it was super fantastic  and ever since that day, I’ve been wanting to make some myself. I am currently working on getting her to give me her mum’s recipe but it isn’t so straightforward. In a desperate attempt, I went to the one Malaysian store in this town to buy some laksa paste.

Turning the packet over for ingredients is something I do out of habit. Sure enough, in decent sized letters were the words “shrimp paste”. Of course, I went through the internal dialogue and emotional turmoil of “should I, shouldn’t I” and did look for a vegetarian version of the paste. I had no luck finding a vegetarian version and my craving won so I came back with the paste, some fried tofu, slender eggplants, bean sprouts and bok choy (Chinese cabbage). If I have offended you at this point, please don’t read on. My next recipe will be a 100% vegetarian I promise.

For a packet laksa, it turned out pretty well but given it is from a packet, it is a “cheat’s” laksa. The paste make a LOT of laksa sauce so be willing to share with friends and neighbours. I have two boxes frozen down for a rainy day. The current English summer is giving us plenty of rainy days so it shouldn’t be hard to find an occasion to eat more laksa.

Vegetable Malaysian curry laksa

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Moroccan inspired roast vegetable soup

I know it is summer in the Northern hemisphere but England hasn’t shown many promising signs of it yet. So, soups are not quite off the menu. My soup recipes are usually inspired by something I have tasted at a cafe/restaurant or by what’s leftover in the fridge before the next grocery delivery. This one falls into the latter category.

I usually have roast vegetables with a green salad and cheese but as I said, the fridge was yet to be restocked and feta wasn’t to be found. In addition, I’d just returned from a work trip to Norway where I’d overdosed on their cheese (Brunost) until my belly hurt. So I was intentionally avoiding cheese. In addition, it was yet another rainy day in England and soup seemed like just the thing for dinner. Ras-el-Hanout (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ras_el_hanout) is the main flavouring  in this soup as I wanted to make something not spiced with chilli but still flavoursome.  You can change the spices used to suit your taste. Also, I really don’t like using stock to make soup as it takes away from the natural taste of the vegetables used.

When I say “Soup for dinner”, the usual response I get from my partner is “as a starter right ?”. I think we both agreed at the end of dinner that a roast vegetable soup is more than just a starter. Hope you try it and like it!

Moroccan inspired roast vegetable soup

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