Saturday, 26 September 2009

Nigel Slater's Almond and Lavender Bsicuits

Nigel Slater's almond and lavender biscuits
125 gr butter
50 gr golden caster sugar
100 gr plain flour
100gr ground almonds
2 level tsp lavender buds

(I made these with organically grown lavender from my garden - you don't HAVE to do this, but I think it makes them taste better!)

Whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Set aside a couple of tablespoons, then press the rest into a dough. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Flour your hands, then break off pieces of dough the size of a walnut and flatten into tiny rounds. Lay carefully onto greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, sprinkle with the reserved mixture and return to the fridge for an hour or so.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until pale gold in colour. Allow to cool a little, then use a palette knife to transfer them to a cooling rack.

They will last in an airtight container for several days.

This is one of my favourite flower recipes - I took some to Italy to give as a present to a friend, and she really loved them!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Stuffed courgette (zucchini) flowers)

This is one of my very favourite recipes - I make it every summer in Italy. It is quite difficult to obtain courgette flowers in England, unless you grow them, so I have grown a few this summer!

Approx 15-20 courgette/zucchini flowers
135g fresh ricotta cheese
a bunch of fresh basil
1 egg
salt, pepper, nutmeg, clove of garlic

Wash the courgette flowers carefully, as they are rather fragile.

For the stufing, mix together the ricotta, beaten egg, crushed garlic, chopped fresh basil, salt and pepper. (You can also add some freshly grated Parmesan, but I don't, usually). Fill each flower with this mixture.

For the batter

200g plain flour (some recipes specify self-raising, but I prefer plain).
pinch of salt
400ml. cold water
2 largish eggs, beaten (organic if possible)
two or three tblsp olive oil

Mix together the flour, beaten eggs and olive oil, add the water gradually until the desired consistency is obtained.

Coat the stuffed flowers in this batter, and fry them gently in olive oil for a few minutes until they are golden. Drain them on kitchen paper.

Watercress Soup

30g. butter

1 medium onion, chopped
570 ml. vegetable stock
3 bunches of watercress, chopped
3 or 4 medium potatoes (These are just for thickening)
290 ml. milk ( I usually use semi-skimmed, you could also use soya milk)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter, add the onion and cook over a low heat until soft. Add the potatoes and stock and simmer for a few minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Liquidise the soup with the watercress in a food processor or blender and push it through a sieve. Pour back into the pan.

Add the milk and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Reheat, but try not to let it boil.

It looks special if you serve it with some chopped garlic chives.

( I adapted this from a recipe in "LEITH'S COOKERY BIBLE" - the original specified too many potatoes for my taste, I prefer to use more watercress and fewer potatoes).