New things for new people: Clair (August)

Clair is trying a new recipe each week for the rest of this year, as well as new ingredients and techniques – see her first guest blog post for more details about her intentions along with her July recipes. Here are her August recipes. I’m pleased to see some courgette ideas as my fridge is currently overflowing with lovely courgettes from my parents’ bountiful garden.

WEEK 1

No-sugar added banana blueberry wholemeal muffins

I am very bored with my packed lunch that I take to work. I include a snack bar every day, one of the supposedly healthy ones, which is still very sugary. I’m trying to cut down on the amount of sugar I eat but I really do need something sweet with my packed lunch. I wondered if I could find some sort of cake recipe with low or no sugar and did find a few, including this one.

What’s new?

Making muffins to eat for lunch at work! Doing any baking without sugar and using oil and banana.

The recipe indicates using fresh or frozen blueberries but I saw dried blueberries in the supermarket (75g pack) and thought they would be good instead, as fresh/frozen ones do tend to contain a lot of moisture and I was worried about them lasting the whole week if they were too moist.

How did it turn out?

20160807_194930The recipe is supposed to be for 18 muffins. As I was putting the mixture into the cases I was filling them 2/3 full and was using up nearly all the batter after 10 cases. I realised that there is a fair bit of baking powder in the recipe and that they would probably rise quite a lot in just 15 minutes baking time. I cut down the batter to fill about half of each case, and filled 12 with some batter left over for another batch. The batter tasted (because I always have to try it!) worryingly unsweet, despite the banana.

Both batches cooked in just 15 minutes and the batter was very quick and easy to get together so I can imagine that they would be quick to do on a Sunday evening ready for the beginning of the working week.
20160807_202448_kindlephoto-8607245

You can see in the photo that they didn’t actually rise that much so with the leftover batter I filled 2 more cases 2/3 full (see the two on the far right). I think that’s a better idea, although I’m not sure you’d end up with 12. This is probably OK if you intend having just one or two per day.

The banana taste is quite strong; you can actually see bits of the banana and it meant that they were still moist. I think the choice of using dried blueberries was also good as it gives bursts of sweetness here and there. I must say that I really like wholemeal muffins too.

Maybe next time I would add some cinnamon or something to liven it up a bit. I think I will enjoy eating them more than I will my usual snack bar, and I certainly think they are healthier. They would also be nice for breakfast.20160807_202502

WEEK 2

Roast tomatoes

My tomatoes are the only veg in my garden that have survived the slugs and snails, and my mum gave me some of her posh ‘heritage’ tomatoes so I thought I’d try a new tomato side dish. It would go with the sausages that we were having for dinner.

What’s new?

The recipe and cooking with heritage tomatoes (some of which are stripey and yellow!).

How did it turn out?

20160810_190849_kindlephoto-8641405I had to adapt the recipe because I used different sized tomatoes and less of them so needed to reduce the amount of ingredients and the cooking time accordingly. I also didn’t have much fresh thyme available so used marjoram to complement it.

The tomatoes kind of disintegrated as I served them but it didn’t matter because they packed a punch flavour-wise, very sweet and garlicky. Larger tomatoes would make more of an impact at a dinner party or bbq but I was happy with this tasty dish!20160810_194613_kindlephoto-8655659

WEEK 3

Spaghetti with courgettes

I saw this recipe on Saturday Kitchen this morning and was inspired to make it, particularly because I had several flowers on my courgette plant (which has survived the slugs and snails but still isn’t producing courgettes). Courgettes are also in season.20160813_192328_kindlephoto-8726426

What’s new?

Cooking with courgette flowers and white (sweet) onion, which is supposed to be less strong than normal onions. I don’t think I’ve used egg yolks in this way either.

How did it turn out?

Mmm really tasty!

I was so excited to use the courgette flowers, and they do stay fairly intact so you can see them, which is pretty; they’re quite savoury too.

I hadn’t anticipated that whisking the Parmesan and egg yolk would effectively make a paste, as I hadn’t paid attention during that part on tv! But it melts when you stir it in and cook it along with the starch from the courgettes and pasta, so everything turns creamy. The white onion works well too, complimenting the dish.20160813_195439

It’s a really simple recipe but it tastes quite sophisticated and lovely for summer.20160813_200244

WEEK 4

Parmesan chicken with courgette salad

Having been looking at more recipes lately I was intrigued by the recent trend for spiralized fruit and veg, which I have never tried. Spiralized courgette is called courgetti and can be used as an alternative to spaghetti (less calories) and this appealed.

What’s new?

Eating courgetti, and I’ve never cooked chicken breasts on a baking tray before.

How did it turn out?

I was supposed to do this recipe but panicked a bit when I realised it meant you should eat the courgetti cold but really didn’t fancy it like that. Then I was inspired by Olive magazine’s best ever courgette and courgetti recipes to make courgetti served warm with pesto and pine nuts which sounded great but then I thought that would be too much parmesan when served with the chicken. So instead I just seasoned the chicken with our lovely cornish sea salt and luxury pepper (ooh I’ve just seen they have recipes on their website!) and served it with the warm courgetti recipe.

The courgetti only takes a few minutes in the microwave, and cooks in its own packaging, so it’s a quick way to get some nice healthy veg. Toasted pine nuts along with pesto is always really tasty. I had been worried that the chicken wouldn’t be cooked after only 20 minutes but it was and was lovely and moist so I think I’ll be cooking it like that again (I actually put it on greaseproof paper).

However, it really wasn’t very filling, so could have done with some little roast potatoes or something, as I only cooked some carrots to go along with it; I’d run out of time to do anything else after all my faffing!20160824_195907_kindlephoto-8685107

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