Monday, 13 October 2014

Courgette, lemongrass and coconut soup

Back in September you may remember I had rather a lot of courgettes, thanks to the generosity of a close friend. Well, basically she waltzed off on holiday and promised em free veg in return for picking her allotment while she was away. Win! This beautiful creamy soup is a fabulous way of cooking courgettes. It's certainly not authentic thai but the fragrant lemongrass and coconut adds a lovely south east Asian taste. I serve it with lightly fried strips of very spicy red peppers but it's fair to say I do like my food to have a nice healthy kick. It's just as nice with a hunk of bread or lightly sautéed strips of fresh courgette to add texture.

I got this recipe originally from my old head chef and it's fair to say he'd be utterly mortified about the addition of coconut milk. But hey, my adaptation, The fact that it is coconut milk means that despite the extreme creamy texture it's also vegan and non-dairy.

  • 500g courgette, roughly chopped
  • 200g runner beans, roughly chopped
  • 3 sticks lemon grass, roughly chopped
  • 400g can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1tblsp ground nut oil
  • salt to taste
  1. In a large deep pan sauté the courgettes, lemongrass and runner beans until softened and just starting to turn golden
  2. Add the whole can of coconut milk to the pan, mix in and then lightly simmer on a low heat for approximately 15-20 mins until the vegetables are completely soft. Leave to cool for 10-15 mins then blitz (in either a jug liquidiser or food processor) until completely smooth
  3. Pass the smooth liquid through a fine sieve to get rid of any fibrous and woody bits of lemon grass then bring to a slow simmer on a low heat. Serve as desired.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Lemon drizzle cake

Is there anything finer than a really rich, moist lemon cake? This is the perfect place to start if you are not a confident baker. A straight forward sponge cake with the heady aroma of lemons that can't fail. The recipe below suggests a loaf tin but it is just as lovely as a square or round cake or as little fairy cakes.

  • 110g/4oz butter
  • 170g/6oz caster sugar
  • 170g, 6oz self raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 80ml milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 110g/4oz icing sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4 and line a 2lb / 900g loaf tin
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy
  3. Add eggs one by one and beat until completely incorporated and smooth. In between each egg beat in a tablespoon or so of flour. This just prevents the mixture from splitting and you'll get a smoother batter
  4. Slowly fold in the rest of the flour, baking powder and the lemon zest and again, beat until smooth and fluffy looking.  
  5. Carefully stir in the milk and once smooth pour the batter into the lined tin. Bake for 35-40 mins or until the cake skewer is clean
  6. Sift the icing sugar into the pan and stir in the lemon juice over a medium heat until you have a smooth syrup
  7. Once cooked remove the cake from the oven but leave it in it's tin. Pierce the top all over and pour the lemon syrup until it covers the top. Leave the cake in the tin to cool.