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.
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
- 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
Roasted carrot hummus
6-8 as a snack or starterINGREDIENTS
- 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
Beetroot tarte tatin
- 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