Saturday, 12 June 2010

After a Day in the Garden...

As we spend more and more time in the garden through the spring and summer the challenge to produce tasty but quickly-made food ensues. A favourite standby is any variety of tortilla, this is the Spanish version of omelette, but much easier to produce.

Basically anything available in the fridge or kitchen garden can be used to create Spanish tortilla. Last night we used some bacon, mushrooms, herbs and cheese; and the whole process, including a green salad, took just 20 minutes.

Fridge and Plot Tortilla
Serves 2
a glug of light olive oil
1 thick (or 2 thin) rasher of bacon, diced
5 large chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
4 eggs, beaten with a little cream or milk and salt and pepper
2 ozs strong Cheddar, grated
a few chives, chopped

Heat a small, heavy bottomed frying pan (about 6"-8" diameter) add the oil and the bacon. After a few minutes add the mushrooms and continue frying until the bacon is cooked. Meanwhile make the green salad and heat the grill to maximum temperature.

When the bacon and mushroom mix is cooked, add the eggs and mix gently. Leave to cook until the eggs are set around the edges, this should take only a few minutes as the pan is hot.

Spinkle the chives and grated cheese over the tortilla and then place under the hot grill. The tortilla will rise like a souffle and when the eggs are set and the cheese is golden remove from the grill and serve with the green salad and a good bottle of wine.

Note: The filling for the tortilla can be varied according to what you have available and vegetarian versions are simple. Other fillings we've tried include combinations of: spinach, red and green peppers, onion, chunks of cooked ham, leftover chicken; topped with almost any cheese you can think of!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Food with Family

Two of my nieces, G&V, came to stay for a few days last week. They are city girls so a few days in the countryside proved a novel experience. The weather was very kind to us and we made the most of it with garden games, a BBQ, a picnic and a trip to our county town for some retail therapy.

Then on Sunday we were joined by their Mum and Dad - J&J - and their sister, O. This called for some lunch for the family. My sister and her family are vegetarian so I decided to try a new tart recipe - Kale, Olive and Gruyere tart. However I had no kale and no gruyere, so a variation was concocted - Spinach, Olive and Mozzarella Tart. The spinach, chard, sage and garlic used in the recipe came from HG kitchen garden and the tart was served with a green salad of lettuce, rocket, chives and sorrel from the HG herb beds.

Dessert was a classic Eton Mess (with a few raspberries added to the usual strawberries) from Delia's Puddings cookbook.

It must have been okay as we had no leftovers!

Before Baking

Spinach, Olive and Mozzarella Tart
Serves 4
8" tart case made with shortcrust pastry (I cheated and bought mine from Morrisons for 87p)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
200g spinach and chard, washed and coarsely chopped
2 or 3 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 egg, beaten
half a dozen olives, quartered
150g grated mozzarella (or 100g mozzarella and 50g soft blue cheese cut into small cubes)
grated parmesan to finish

Put the onion in a large,deep frying pan with a good knob of butter and cook gently until softened. Add the garlic, sage and spinach and cook for a few minutes until the spinach is wilted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Add the cheeses (not the parmesan), olives and the egg and mix well. Put the mixture into the pastry case and sprinkle over the parmesan. Put on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven at 190C for 20-25 minutes.

Out of the Oven

Serve warm or cold with a green salad and some simply boiled new potatoes.
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