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Food & Drink

Courgette (Zucchini) Soup with Brie Recipe

September 5, 2012
Zucchini (Courgette) Soup

Zucchini (Courgette) Soup

This is a revamped blog post from a couple of years ago that is a favourite recipe in our house and a great way of using up lots of courgettes or zucchini as they’re known in most other parts of the world. It originated from The New Covent Garden Food Co Book of Soups.

Without the added Brie the soup is tasty (though on the thin side) and makes a quick lunch which my children often ask for when they spot a courgette laying on the counter top. We often leave out the cheese as it’s not an ingredient that’s generally in our fridge unless it’s been written down on the shopping list. However, if you’re looking for a thicker soup with that *something* extra to share with friends, do add it as it makes all the difference.

In the photo above the Brie was omitted and Parmigiano cheese added to the soup after it had been blended, along with a shot of cream (which for the life of me I can never get into that pretty swirl that chefs seem to manage! Mine resembles a distorted map of America!)

Recipe Serves 6

450g (1lb) sliced courgettes
1 onion, peeled and sliced
knob of butter
350g potatoes (about 2 medium)
1.2 ltrs vegetable stock
freshly grated salt and pepper
*optional 225g Brie, peeled and rind removed, or grated Parmigiano

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the chopped onion, cooking until it’s soft and slightly caramelised. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and simmer gently for around 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. If using the Brie, stir in now and cook until it’s melted. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree in a liquidiser if you have one. Remember not to put the cap over the lid if blending hot liquids as it’s like to explode! Instead fold a cloth and cover the top.

Serve up the soup with lots of bread and grated cheese of any description if you’re not using the Brie.

What’s your favourite home-made soup?

Food & Drink

Recipe: Chocolate Courgette Cake

October 15, 2011
Chocolate Courgette Cake Recipe

Credit: photo credit: Wurz via photopin cc

The original recipe for this chocolate courgette cake came from the BBC Good Food but feeling impatient and not having all the ingredients in the press, it’s been adapted (and worked).

Today’s cake baking was saved for school home time knowing how much the girls like to help. Today our youngest came running in the door to see what I was up to and immediately put on her apron full of delight at the prospect of helping mum … the delight was short-lived and the smile quickly turned into a frown…

She spotted the courgette that was waiting to be fed to the grater in the food processor “ahh no – we’re not putting THAT in a chocolate cake!!” She loves cracking eggs and sieving flour however, so was persuaded to stay and give it a go. A few hours later when her big sister returned home she excitedly dragged her into the kitchen … “you have to try the chocolate cake – it has courgettes in and its DELICIOUS!”

She’s right, so here it is…

Chocolate Courgette Cake Recipe

Cake Ingredients (my version)

350g self-raising flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp mixed spice
175ml olive oil
375g caster sugar
3 free range eggs
a few drops of vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
500g grated courgettes
140g roasted pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

Ingredients For the Chocolate Fudge Icing

100g dark chocolate 70%
75ml evaporated milk
75g granulated sugar
40g butter
few drops vanilla extract

Cake Method

Heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 24cm deep cake tin.

1. Place the flour, cocoa powder, mixed spice and salt into a large bowl and combine.
2. In another bowl combine the sugar, eggs, olive oil, vanilla extract and grated courgette.
3. Mix the dry and wet mixture until almost combined then add the pistachio nuts.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for approx 50 min’s (use a skewer to ensure its cooked)
5. Cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and cooling.

Chocolate Courgette (zucchini) Cake Recipe

Chocolate Fudge Icing Method

Put the sugar and evaporated milk into a heavy based saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil then simmer without stirring for 6 min’s.

Remove from the heat, add the broken up chocolate pieces and once fully incorporated, stir in the butter and vanilla extract, stirring until smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and once cool place in the fridge to thicken.

Spread the chocolate fudge over the cake and enjoy!

Have you tried eating vegetables in your cakes? If so, what’s your favourite?


Food & Drink

Courgette Chutney Recipe

August 24, 2011

Courgette Chutney RecipeWe were talking about pickles and chutney at Goresbridge Community Garden this morning and I was reminded of this delicious chutney recipe that I made last year. It was passed on to me by Yvonne Carty from Hey Pesto .

Easy to throw together, it makes a great accompaniment to salads, eaten with crackers or even on the side with a chilli or curry.

Because we had/have so many courgettes the quantities given below will make a lot of chutney so make sure you have several sterilised jars ready or reduce the amount of ingredients.

Courgette Chutney RecipeCourgette Chutney Recipe

Put all the following into a large pan:

2 onions, chopped
500g tomatoes, chopped
500g courgettes, diced
200ml white wine vinegar
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
250g brown sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2.5cm piece ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, crushed

Bring everything slowly to simmer, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking. Simmer uncovered for two hours until thick and ‘chutney’ like.

Pour into sterilised jars and leave for 2-3 weeks to mature before serving.

Food & Drink

Courgette (Zucchini) Fritters Recipe

August 17, 2010
(Courgette & French Beans)

Do you have a courgette glut? 

Our giant plant inside the polytunnel is producing, on average, a courgette every two days.  Only Ian and I eat them (unless I chop them up small and add them to a Bolognese sauce, in which case the family unsuspectingly eats them).

I’m always on the lookout to find recipes for this lovely summer vegetable (hence the courgette cake written about in June).

Today I was checking the updates on Twitter and came across this post from (@dinnerdujour).

“If you tell kids these zucchini fritters with feta and dill are pancakes instead, they’ll gobble them up”

Courgette at Goresbridge Community Garden

My attention was instantly grabbed so I checked the link and found a recipe full of ingredients that happened to be in my fridge.  I was missing the dill so substituted it for fresh basil instead, et voilà, a few minutes later my pan was full of delicious tasting fritters.  It really was that quick.

Sadly my children obviously aren’t as adventurous as the girls from Dinner du Jour, but Philippa, my lunch guest and I loved them and hopefully the few that are left will be enjoyed by Ian when he arrives home this evening.

So thanks girls!  I’ll be adding that recipe to my collection.

Food & Drink

Courgette Cake with Lime Curd & Pistachio ~ Recipe

June 20, 2010

Courgette Cake with Lemon & Lime Curd & PistachioWe haven’t baked cakes here for ages and like the No 10 bus, they all come along at once! As a result I’ve been trawling through the recipe books trying to find ways of cooking courgettes (known as zucchini in several parts of the world) differently. I love them chopped and fried in loads of garlic and served with pasta and cheese sauce, Mr G isn’t that fussed about them one way or another. Our son claims to like them but is always full when it comes to eating them so they’re the last item left on his plate. The girls refuse to eat them point-blank.

Courgette (Zucchini) Cake RecipeCourgette flowers are like a burst of sunshine in the garden but the plants themselves can be very heavy producers and take up a lot of space. The flowers are edible (we’ve yet to fry them in batter as suggested) but if you pick them all, you may find yourself with no courgettes!  It’s recommended to place the plants a metre apart but ours is taking up well over that space at this stage.

Yesterday I harvested three courgettes and today another four are ready, hence my search for recipes.

So here it is. The ultimate courgette recipe that keeps everyone in our household happy:  Flora’s Famous Courgette Cake recipe found in Nigella Lawson’s “How to be a Domestic Goddess”:

Courgette (Zucchini) Cake recipe(Preheat oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4)

Courgette (Zucchini) Cake with Lime Curd & Pistachio Recipe

For the cake:

60g sultanas, optional (but tasty)
250g courgettes (2-3), weighed before grating
2 large free range eggs
125ml organic rapeseed oil
150g caster sugar, sieved
225g self-raising flour
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
half teaspoon baking powder

2 x 21cm sandwich tins, greased and lined

If you’re using sultanas, put them in a bowl and cover with warm water to plump them up.
Wipe the courgettes with kitchen towel (don’t peel them), then grate.  The coarse side of an ordinary grater is best as anything finer or smaller can make them mushy).  When the courgettes are grated turn them into a sieve over the sink to remove excess water.

Put the eggs, oil and sugar in a bowl and beat until creamy.  Sieve in the flour, bicarb and baking powder and continue to beat until well combined.  Now stir in the grated courgette and add the drained sultanas.  Equally pour the mixture into the tins and bake for 30 minutes until slightly browned and firm to the touch.  Leave in the tins on a rack for 5-10 mins then turn out and allow them to cool until you’re ready to fill and ice them.

For the lime curd filling (or buy one from the shop but it’s very easy to make)

Makes 350ml:
75g unsalted butter
3 large eggs
75g caster sugar
125ml lemon and lime juice (approx 3 limes and 1 lemon)
zest of 1 lime

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add all the other ingredients and whisk to a custard over a gentle heat. If it’s allowed to get too hot the egg will curdle which isn’t a problem but will explain the lumpy bits.  Let the curd cool before filling a steralised jar – or a cake – with it.  Keep in the fridge.

For the lime and pistachio icing:

200g cream cheese
100g icing sugar, sieved
juice of 1 lime, or more to taste
2-3 tablespoons chopped pistachio nuts

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth, add the icing sugar, beating well to combine, then stir in the lime juice to taste. Sprinkle the pistachio nuts over the top.

courgette (zucchini) cake with lemon and lime curd & pistachioThe Verdict

We loved this cake.  It’s a bit like carrot cake, light and moist and very easy to make. I also tried it out on a neighbour this afternoon who politely tried it though I could tell it was the last thing she wanted to try, but was then very complimentary and devoured every last crumb.

If you like the idea of making cakes with courgettes, here’s a chocolate and courgette recipe that we had a go at too. If you’d like some other ideas for using up a glut of courgettes from fritters to soup, you can find some here.

Dr How’s Science Wows wrote a series of blog posts about using vegetables in cakes that makes for a very interesting read. I can’t wait to try the spinach cake that Naomi’s children claimed to enjoy the best!


Courgette Cake RecipeThis weekend I was catching up on blog reading when I noticed that Mona Wise had mentioned courgette cupcakes in a recent post. I had all the ingredients in my cupboard to make the cake above, as well as the usual summer glut of courgettes but couldn’t face tackling my exploding cupboard to root out a cake tin. I therefore decided to give the cupcakes a go.

Using the same method and ingredients as above, instead of turning the mixture into a cake tin I divided it into bun cases. This also cut the baking time down to 20 to 25 minutes, even better for hungry mouths!

When the buns were cool I removed them from their paper cases, cut them in half and spread the icing in the middle, before replacing the top. I then poured over the lime curd topping and grated some pistachios on top. Today’s toppings varied slightly from the original above as I had didn’t have enough lime so made a mixture of lemon and lime. The result was still scrummy!

Do you have any cake recipes that you make using vegetables? I’d love to hear about them.


Food & Drink

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

November 15, 2015

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

One of the considerable joys of community gardening is talking about food and swapping recipes. During tea break in the Outdoor Vegetable Crop production course I was facilitating, a student brought in a loaf of her homemade Irish soda bread so that we could taste the courgette and ginger jam she’d made. She also brought in copies of her bread recipe which I’m sharing with you now.

Easy Bread Recipe

Irish Soda Bread RecipeI don’t recall eating soda bread in the UK, but soon discovered how tasty it is with a chunk of cheese or a bowl of soup when we moved to Ireland; as a result of Colette’s recipe I also learnt that it’s incredibly easy to make. There’s no kneading or waiting for the bread to rise, just throw all the ingredients in a bowl, transfer to a loaf tin, pop in the oven and it’s done. The traditional Irish bread soda recipe contains just four ingredients – flour, salt, buttermilk and bread soda but a few more bits and pieces have been added to this recipe.

Like many hand-me-down recipes I’ve adapted Colette’s to suit the ingredients in my cupboard, adding various seeds and nuts and as a result it’s almost a meal in itself. You can leave out the seeds and add a small amount of wheat germ or oat bran if you prefer, making this easy brown bread recipe your own.

Nut & Seedy Irish Soda Bread


Irish Soda Bread Recipe285g/10oz wholemeal flour
170g/6oz strong white flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp bread soda
2 tsp soft brown sugar
375ml/15fl oz buttermilk
1 free range egg
2 tbsp sunflower oil
50g/2oz walnuts
50g/2oz sunflower seeds
25g/1oz chia seeds
50g/2oz pumpkin seeds


  • Oil a 1lb bread tin (22 x 12 x 7 cm) and pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF.
  • Place the flours, salt, bread soda and sugar into a large bowl and mix until evenly combined.
  • In another small bowl, add the egg, buttermilk and sunflower oil and whisk until fully mixed.
  • Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet, stirring with a wooden spoon or fork until fully combined, then add the seeds and nuts. The mixture will be quite sloppy.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, run a knife along the length of the mixture, scoring it, then sprinkle the remaining pumpkin seeds over the top of the loaf.
  • Place in middle of the oven and bake for 60 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

If you’d like to try making the green tomato and chilli chutney recipe that we enjoy tucking into with this Irish soda bread, you can find the recipe here.


Food & Drink

Beetroot Chocolate Cake Recipe

August 3, 2013

Beetroot Chocolate Cake Recipe“Now what would you be doing putting a perfectly good beetroot into a cake..?”

A good question from a man who loves his beetroot roasted. Why would you put vegetables into a cake?

I’m not a food scientist in any shape or form but having baked and eaten several courgette, carrot and green tomato cakes over the years, I’ve observed how moist they are, that you don’t need to add as much flour and that there’s no hint of the usual vegetable flavour in them. What better way of using up a glut of vegetables too! Most of us enjoy eating a moist sponge and once someone has been told they’ve just demolished a cake full of vegetables it might perhaps be enough to encourage them to try eating the real thing. It’s worth a try isn’t it?

Once grown and eaten, beetroot becomes a super food, jam-packed full of healthy vitamins. It’s easy to grow too – just pop the seeds directly into the soil about 2cm deep and three months later voilà! We usually bake the roots and steam the tops but now and again it’s nice to try something different and I’ve been really looking forward to baking a chocolate beetroot cake ever since I tried a slice last year.

Beetroot Chocolate CakeChocolate Beetroot Cake

After much searching, the recipe I finally settled on is one adapted from a Nigel Slater ‘Dish of the Day’. This isn’t a cake to be rushed. Continue Reading…

Food & Drink

The Prince of Squash – Soup Recipe

October 31, 2012
Crown Prince Squash Recipe

Winter squash harvest

This week we carved five squash/pumpkins to celebrate Hallowe’en – one of which was one of my precious Crown Prince squash varieties.

Grown this year from seed, I’ve watched three grow and develop and there’s a part of me that didn’t want to slice and bake the tasty fruit. Although the skin is a grey/blue, the flesh inside is a rich orange in colour and once roasted is one of the tastiest squash we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. It develops a deliciously sweet chestnut flavour and when made into a soup is simply divine. As we were scooping out the flesh the scent of melons filled the kitchen, reminding us of the Crown Princes’ relationship with the rest the Cucurbita family.

Crown Prince Squash Recipe

Crown Prince Squash

If you’ve yet to grow a Crown Prince, I heartily recommend you try it next year as they’re easy to grow (instructions here) and are great for winter storage. If you haven’t grown them, try sourcing them in a farmers market – I bought my first one last year from a local organic farm gate.

This is my third squash or pumpkin soup recipe on the blog and the tastiest yet. The reason I keep posting them isn’t for their amazing flavour – pumpkin can be quite bland on its own, more that I’m hoping it’ll encourage you to use the flesh!

In my previous life before children, I’d scoop out the seeds and flesh before carving pumpkins and composting them. That was it. I was too scared to try cooking them and didn’t have a clue what to do with the flesh. In fact I have a vague recollection of thinking what a waste of food, there must be something I could make with it, but it wasn’t until I became a budget conscious mum and starting cooking more than mushroom curries that I found out what to do with it.

Given that there’s only so much squash soup a family can make, this year we’ll also be making pumpkin muffins based on the courgette cake recipe and will be roasting some of the seeds. I spotted this recipe for cocoa roasted pumpkin seeds on twitter from the Food to Glow blog and will be giving it a go.

Crown Prince Squash Recipe


Diced flesh from a Crown Prince squash
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1.5 ltrs vegetable stock
25g butter
Lots of finely grated nutmeg to taste
freshly ground salt & pepper
150 ml milk

Carefully cut the top from the squash and scoop out the seeds and fibrous contents. You can’t save and plant the seeds from a squash such as Crown Prince as it’s an F1 variety (meaning that whatever you grow wont be like its parent). Rinse and place the seeds to one side so that you can make the cocoa roasted snack when the oven’s hot. Using a spoon, scrape out as much flesh from the squash as you can without damaging the outer shell. Place the empty shell to one side ready for carving. Spread out the pumpkin flesh on a roasting tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 175ºC for about an hour.

Once roasted, melt the butter and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes in a covered saucepan, without colouring.  Add the potato, roasted squash and vegetable stock.  Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 mins until the vegetables are tender.  Cool a little, then purée in a liquidiser.  Return to a clean saucepan and stir in the milk, grated nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the soup into the empty shell for serving if you’re not planning on carving it.

Do you have any favourite squash recipes or links you’d like to share?

Crown Prince Squash

Crown Prince Squash