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Flora Shedden's 'star' courgette cake, and other glorious bakes for vegetable gluts

This is the first year I have not spent the summer at home.

This is the first year I have not spent the summer at home. Normally I would return from wherever I was working or cooking to find Dad watering the tomato and chilli jungle he had been cultivating. There was always a bounty, and it would always come at once.

I spent plenty of my time looking for recipes to preserve it all – tomato chilli jam and fennel-pickled cucumbers being favourites. I admit, I took it all for granted. Now that I live in the flat above ARAN Bakery, I no longer have the luxury of grabbing half a kilo of cherry tomatoes from the next room. Instead, I have been receiving little deliveries from Mum, and top them up with the one tomato we grow a week on our window sill.

From home.

A post shared by Flora Shedden (@sheddenflora) on Aug 31, 2017 at 11:55am PDT

A few weekends ago, Dad had an excellent run at the local horticultural show and scooped up four firsts and a second. I suspect, knowing my dad, that this could may well have been the most exciting day of his life. This made me think of the glut of vegetables that often arrives at this time of year and requires immediate attention.

They had stalls selling their bounty, and host produce competitions, including ones for the longest tattie peel and best ‘veg head’

How do we cope with a bounty? As much I would wholeheartedly recommend preserving it, there is only so much vinegar and sugar you can sweep off the supermarket shelves before people raise eyebrows. I propose, then, a menu based solely around veg – and lots of it. Heck, you could make a feast night of it.

Last week I spent an afternoon up at The Field in Dunkeld, a community-based project that grows delicious organic fruit, vegetables and flowers. It is run entirely by volunteers, which makes the quantities they produce all the more impressive.

They had stalls selling their bounty (perfect little pink spring onions that would look delicious flecked through a salad with pomegranate seeds, and kale like dark green velvet). They also host produce competitions, including ones for the longest tattie peel and best ‘veg head’.

As I’m no longer classed as an amateur, I am no longer allowed to enter the baking competition (which requires a vegetable as a main ingredient), but it did remind me of courgette and lime cake that I love so much. Not unlike a carrot cake in terms of technique, it is a moreishly soft sponge loaded with refreshing lime or lemon curd to offset the sweetness.

flora shedden USE THIS ONE

So today I give you a dinner menu with a difference, which should please vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Gluts and bounties should never be wasted – no excuses.

This will be my philosophy for all ingredients at ARAN Bakery: good produce, used seasonally. And hopefully this menu will give you a little bit of inspiration when it comes to harvesting the vegetable patch.

But most importantly I give you my courgette cake, because I think that is the star of the show.

Flora’s cookbook, Gatherings: Recipes for Feasts Great and Small (Mitchell Beazley, £25) is available from books.telegraph.co.uk

Courgette cake

Credit:Charlotte Tolhurst

SERVES

8

INGREDIENTS
  • 200g courgette
  • 200g sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing the tin
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • Zest of 1 large lime
  • 200g marscapone or cream cheese (you could use half and half)
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon curd
METHOD
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  • Grate the courgettes. Beat the sunflower oil and caster sugar together in a bowl until combined. Add the self raising flour and the eggs and beat again until smooth. Fold in the courgettes along with the grated lime zest.
  • Once fully incorporated pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
  • For the topping beat the mascarpone or cream cheese (or both if using half and half) with the icing sugar until smooth and spreadable. Spread on top of the cake.
  • Spoon the lemon curd on top and use a round-edged knife to swirl into the mascarpone, creating little pools of the curd to decorate.
  • Roasted carrot hummus

    Credit:Charlotte Tolhurst

    SERVES

    6-8 as a snack or starter

    INGREDIENTS
    • 300g baby carrots
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • Olive oil, for drizzling
    • ½ tsp cumin seeds
    • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 2 tbsp tahini
    • Natural yogurt to serve
    • Roasted hazelnuts to serve
    METHOD
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
  • Scrub the baby carrots, leaving skin on (ideally they should be organic). You can also leave their little green trimmed stalks on. Lay out on a baking tray then drizzle with the honey and a little olive oil. Season, then scatter over the cumin and thyme.
  • Toss together then roast for 20 minutes until soft (larger carrots they may take longer).
  • Allow the carrots to cool then place half of them (stalks now trimmed) in a food processor with the chickpeas, lemon juice and tahini. Season this lightly then blitz until smooth.
  • Spoon the hummus onto a large serving plate and swirl it around with the back of a spoon. Top with the remaining whole roasted carrots then drizzle with a little yogurt. Decorate with the hazelnuts, more olive oil and some black pepper. Serve with good bread.
  • Beetroot tarte tatin

    Credit:Charlotte Tolhurst

    SERVES

    6

    INGREDIENTS
    • 50g butter
    • 50g brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tsp ground corriander
    • 400g cooked beetroot
    • 150g halloumi
    • 500g puff pastry
    • Flour, for dusting
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 40g feta, to garnish
    • 40g mint
    • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
    METHOD
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
  • In a large ovenproof and ideally non-stick frying pan (mine is 25cm diameter), heat the butter, sugar, balsamic and coriander together until foaming.
  • Slice the beetroot into thick discs (roughly 1-2cm thick) and arrange them in the pan in slightly overlapping concentric circles so you cover the whole surface. Cook for a minute or so then remove from the heat.
  • Grate the halloumi all over the top of the beetroot.
  • Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to form a circle a little larger than the pan. Place on top of the halloumi. Brush the pastry with beaten egg then use a knife to make a few holes in the surface.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden and has crisped up nicely. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • To remove from the pan place a larger plate over the top of the pastry then in one swift movement flip the pan over 180 degrees. Remove the pan – if the beetroot is sticking tap the pan vigorously.
  • Crumble some feta over the tart. Place the mint and olive oil in a jug then use a stick bender to whizz together until very smooth. Spoon the bright green mint oil over the tart just before serving.
  • This is good with a little crème fraiche, watercress and lemon juice.
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