Recipe: Lockdown Courgette Quesadillas Two Ways

I cooked with courgette a lot during lockdown, as it’s such an inexpensive versatile vegetable. And it turns out, it really works in bulking out your quesadillas.

I made the first version, with fried courgette and coriander, served with soured cream and guacamole, when I was alone in London and liked them so much I made a similar version for lunch a few weeks later.

But this time I also added some ham, spring onions and fresh coriander, simply because I had it to hand, and served the quesadillas with a yummy sauce with creme fraiche and basil I made up on the spot, and lime wedges on the side.

Both versions are equally delicious so why not try both and see which you like better?!

Also, a note on frying quesadillas. For an every day lunch I prefer to fry them in a dry pan, as I think the addition of butter is then too much. But if you make quesadillas as nibbles for a party, when you eat much less of them, they’re wonderful fried in butter (and drained on kitchen towel to stay crispy!).

Courgette and coriander quesadillas with guacamole, serves 1

2 tortilla breads, either corn or flour

1 small courgette, cut in half lengthways and sliced

1-2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp olive oil for frying

salt and pepper

75 ml grated cheddar

To serve:

guacamole (scale down to 1 avocado)

a large dollop soured cream

a few drops hot sauce

Fry the courgette until soft and golden in the oil on medium heat for approximately 5-10 minutes. Add the coriander and chilli flakes towards the end of cooking. Season well and set aside.

Place one tortilla bread on a flat surface and scatter half of the grated cheese on top. Add the fried courgettes and top with remaining cheese. Place the other tortilla bread on top and press down to flatten with your hands.

Heat up a clean frying pan on medium heat and add the quesadilla. Fry until side until golden brown while pressing down with a spatula. It only takes a few minutes! Flip the quesadilla over and fry the other side golden brown. Make sure the cheese inside has melted otherwise lower the heat and fry for a bit longer, making sure it doesn’t burn. Remove to a chopping board and cut into six triangles. Serve immediately with guacamole, soured cream and a little hot sauce.

Courgette, coriander and ham quesadillas, serves 3

6 tortilla breads, either corn or flour

1 1/2 medium courgettes, cut in half lengthways and sliced

1-2 tbsp olive oil for frying

salt and pepper

1/2 bunch fresh coriander

3 spring onions, chopped

2 slices cooked ham, chopped

200 g grated cheddar

To serve:

3 lime wedges

creamy basil sauce (recipe below)

Fry the courgette until soft and golden in the oil on medium heat for approximately 5-10 minutes. Season well and set aside.

Place three tortilla breads on a flat surface and divide half of the grated cheese between them. Add the fried courgettes, coriander, spring onions and ham and top with the remaining cheese. Place the other tortilla breads on top and press down to flatten with your hands.

Heat up a clean frying pan on medium heat and add a quesadilla. Fry until side until golden brown while pressing down with a spatula. It only takes a few minutes! Flip the quesadilla over and fry the other side golden brown. Make sure the cheese inside has melted otherwise lower the heat and fry for a bit longer, making sure it doesn’t burn. Repeat with the other two quesadillas. Remove to a chopping board and cut into six triangles. Serve immediately with lime wedges and the basil sauce (recipe below).

Creamy basil and lime sauce, serve 4

200 ml soured cream

finely grated zest from 1/2 lime

2 tbsp roughly chopped basil

salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together with a bowl. Season to taste.

Recipe: Lockdown Chicken and Courgette Pasta

Cooking every single day is in a way easier than cooking a few days a week like I usually do. Cooking every day gives you a different continuity and it makes it a lot easier using up leftovers. In my regular life I sometimes have to throw away leftovers I had planned to use up because plans changed and they got too old. I really don’t like that. But London life is (usually) fast pace with drinks here and dinners there and impromptu plans. Which I love. It’s less conducive to meal planning though. But I do utilise my freezer as much as I can even in normal life.

But using up leftovers has become a sport of mine in lockdown. I don’t want to throw a single little thing away. I keep parmesan rinds in the fridge until I can throw them into a béchamel sauce, and add the leftover grated carrot from a carrot cake baking session to a salad. If some vegetables need using up they get used in a soup, quesadillas, salad or frittata.

And this chicken and courgette pasta is one example of using up every single little bit of chicken meat. One night we had a roast chicken with potatoes, gravy and vegetables. Two days later I reheated some of the leftover chicken pieces for lunch and made a potato salad with some already cooked new potatoes. After that there weren’t that much meat left, even though I picked every last little bit off the carcass before it went into the stock pot. So the obvious answer to how to use up the rest was of course pasta. Mixing proteins with carbs and some veg and lots of grated Parmesan is one of the best magic tricks of the kitchen craft.

This one, with lemon, soft courgette, plenty of olive oil and said parmesan felt very appropriate of spring but I could myself eating it on a sunny patio with a glass of ice cold pale rosé too.

Lockdown chicken and courgette pasta, serves 3

300 g tagliatelle

1 medium courgette, cut in half lengthways and sliced

approx 100 g leftover roast chicken

50 g parmesan, finely grated

lemon zest from 1/2 large lemon

50 ml olive oil

25-50 ml pasta cooking water

salt and pepper

Add a little olive oil to a roasting tray and add the courgettes. Toss in the oil, add salt and pepper and cook in 200C for 10- 15 minutes, until soft and a little browned.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions in saucepan.

Add the chicken pieces to the courgette to heat up and add more olive oil. Add the lemon zest and some of the parmesan and mix. Add the cooked pasta. Reserve a mug of pasta water and pour some into the roasting tray with the pasta. Add more parmesan and put the roasting tray on medium-low heat. Stir the pasta with tongs until it has the sauce consistency you like (a little gloopy). Add more pasta water if needed. Adjust the seasoning and divide between bowls. Add more grated parmesan to finish.

Recipe: Scrambled Eggs with Parmesan and Crispy Chorizo Crumbs

Sometimes I have breakfast quite late in the day. I’m not a morning person so sometimes I have my eggs in the afternoon and sometimes I have breakfast for supper, just because I like it.

In those cases I usually want the eggs to feel a little bit more special than my regular breakfast. I love scrambled eggs and toast but with the easy additions of grated parmesan (some in and some on top of the eggs), crispy chorizo crumbs and tomatoes this breakfast dish suddenly seems more appropriate as supper or a late lunch.

I like the crispy chorizo for flavour and texture and instead of thick slices I like these little nuggets in every mouthful, but you could of course go heavier on the chorizo if you prefer!

Scrambled eggs with parmesan and crispy chorizo crumbs, serves 1

2 eggs

5 tbsp cream

salt and peppar

1 tbsp butter

approx 3 tbsp grated parmesan

1 piece of cooking chorizo, 5-10 cm long

1 tbsp vegetable oil

To serve:

cherry tomatoes, halved

chives, chopped

buttered toast

Start by peeling the skin off the chorizo and chop it into tiny pieces. Heat up oil in a small frying pan on medium heat and fry the chorizo crumbs until crispy. Set aside while you make the eggs.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and cream and season well (approx 1 tsp sea salt flakes and a good grinding of pepper). Heat up the butter in a non-stick frying pan on medium-low. Once the butter has melted pour in the eggs and push them around with a plastic spatula or whisk while they slowly thicken, once they look like a custard with bits in set aside (it cooks further in the hot pan). Stir half of the parmesan into the eggs and adjust the seasoning if needed. Heat up the chorizo crumbs if needed and plate up. Scatter the eggs with the remaining grated parmesan. Scatter with chives and add the chorizo crumbs and tomatoes and tuck in.

Recipe: vanilla crème brûlée once again

It’s great fun hosting dinner parties together with mamma, because that means we share the cooking! At a dinner party at home in early January I made two types of crostini to start off with it. The main course (which mamma was in charge of) was rather substantial so we opted for nibbles and bubbles on the sofa instead of a starter at the table. Mammas slow-cooked was absolutely wonderful and this very classic pudding was a perfect end to our dinner. I made the vanilla creme brûlée I’ve made for years, but I realised it was quite hard to find on the blog, so wanted to highlight it again.

The original recipe, courtesy of Swedish chef Tina Nordström, had cardamom in it, which I removed but in essence this is her recipe and the only one you will ever need for creme brûlée. I have adapted it a few times too, here is a delicious Amarula Cream version and here is a summery elderflower adaptation.

Vanilla creme brûlée, serves 4-6

5 egg yolks

100 ml caster sugar

350 ml double cream

150 ml whole milk

1 vanilla pod

2 tbsp caster sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 110C. Bring the cream and milk to a boil in a saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthways and add it to the cream mixture. Stir the egg yolks and the sugar together in a bowl – no beating required. Pour the cream mixture into the egg mixture and stir (don’t beat or whisk) until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the vanilla pod. 

Pour the mixture into crème brûlée dishes and bake for 35-40 min (my oven needed about 1 hour). Remove from oven and let cool in room temperature. Sprinkle the caster sugar on top and caramelise it using a blow torch just before serving.

Recipe: Slow-Cooked Short Rib with Caramelised Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This comforting hug of a dish was a real hit! Both to cook and, of course, to eat. Cooking wise the oven does most of the work for you; tenderising those short ribs so that they completely fall off the bone when you try to pick them up. Together with the caramelised garlic for the mash, also cooking in the oven at the same time, the scents in the kitchen were a pure delight, and a good indicator of how nice our supper would be.

And indeed it was! Is there anything more joyful than a comforting plate of food that just fits together like peas in a pod?! Soft succulent umami full short ribs marriages so perfectly with the velvety and fluffy mashed potatoes with a lovely hint of earthy and sweet caramelised garlic.

The short rib recipe is courtesy of the brilliant What’s Gaby Cookinghttps://whatsgabycooking.com/garlic-red-wine-braised-short-ribs/, although a bit modified, but the caramelised garlic mashed potato recipe is all my own.

Red wine braised short ribs, serves 2-3

Adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking’s recipe.

900 g bone-in short rib of beef

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1/2 celery stalk, chopped

1 tbsp plain flour

1/2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 -1 bottle red wine

a few sprigs each of parsley, thyme, oregano and rosemary

1 bay leaf

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

400 ml beef stock

Preheat oven to 180C. Season short ribs liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a casserole dish on medium-high heat. Brown short ribs on all side and transfer to a plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add the short ribs back in. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

Cook until short ribs are tender, approx 2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Strain sauce from pot and spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on a pillow of caramelised garlic mashed potatoes.

Caramelised garlic mashed potatoes, serves 2-3

2 heads of garlic

650 g King Edward or Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into similar sized pieces

3 tbsp salted butter

approx 50 ml whole milk

salt and pepper

While the short ribs are cooking, cut the top off the garlic heads and wrap in tin foil. Place them in the oven until soft, approx 40-60 minutes. Remove until needed for the mashed potatoes.

Boil the potatoes just about covered with salted water on medium-low heat until soft, approx 15-20 pieces, depending on the size of the potato pieces. Drain water and let them sit uncovered for a minute. Add butter and some of the milk and either mash with a masher or beat with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add more milk as you go. Take the foil off the garlic heads and squeeze out the caramelised garlic into the mashed potatoes. Stir well and add more as you taste. Season well and serve with the short rib.

Recipe: Baked Alaska with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce

For me a baked Alaska feels really festive, in a retro sort of way, and it’s the perfect excuse for using sparklers! My mother often makes a baked Alaska for New Year’s Eve too, but hers is with a thicker oat cookie base and she uses regular meringue and cooks her in the oven whereas I prefer Italian meringue and a blow torch.

I also think it’s fun to make individual ones, but only if there aren’t too many of you. This year (I have made this pudding before but with different flavours) I used vanilla and dulce de leche ice cream and served it with a strong dark chocolate sauce. I think it worked really well like this and it’s a joy to eat!

Baked Alaska with dulce de leche and vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, serves 4

4 oat crisps for the base (but make a whole batch – they’re scrumptious on their own too!)

4 large scoops no churn dulce de leche ice cream (recipe below)

4 large scoops no churn vanilla ice cream

1 batch Italian meringue

To serve:

sparklers

chocolate sauce

Place an oat crisp on each plate. Place the ice cream on top trying to make a dome shape. Cover with the meringue using a spatula. Using a blow torch, scorch the meringue until golden brown all around. Serve with sparklers and chocolate sauce.

No churn dulce de leche ice cream

Translated from Fridas bakblogg’s recipe.

500 ml double cream

4 egg yolks

40 ml light Muscovado sugar

1 tin (400 g) dulce de leche (Nestlé caramel)

2 egg whites

Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks and the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the dulce de leche and beat some more. Whip the cream in a separate bowl and fold it into the dulce de leche mixture. Beat two egg whites until stiff peaks in a separate bowl and fold into the dulce de leche mixture. Pour into a Tupperware box and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

Recipe: Fillet of Beef, Pommes Anna, Mushroom Sauce with Cognac and Charred Spring Onions

New Year’s Eve feels so far away. Was it only three months ago?! But I still remember the lovely evening we had, and the food I cooked of course.

After plenty of bubbly and nibbles we had lobster with beurre blanc, and after that we had fillet of beef with pommes Anna, mushroom sauce with cognac, broccoli and charred spring onions. So yummy!

I cooked the fillet of beef whole, giving the end bits to Emma who prefers her more cooked, the medium pieces for the boys and the rarest for me. My guess work worked out well but I suggest you use a thermometer to get it just right.

I made the sauce the day before and heated it up while the rest was cooking but the rest I did the same evening. Luckily my friends have an open plan kitchen dining room so it’s easy to cook and be sociable at the same time.

Fillet of beef, Pommes Anna, mushroom sauce with cognac, broccoli and charred spring onions, serves 4

800-1000 g fillet of beef

butter and oil for frying

salt and pepper

1 kg maris piper (or similar firm potatoes), peeled and thinly sliced

150 g salted butter, melted

salt and peppar

300 g tenderstem broccoli

1 bunch spring onions, washed and trimmed

Mushroom sauce:

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp neutral oil for frying

100 g fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced

30 g dried black trumpet mushrooms (porcini works too but then you probably need a bit less)

400 ml double cream

1/4 vegetable stock cube

1-2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp cognac

salt and pepper

Start with the potatoes as they need the longest time to prepare (and can be kept warm if needed). Add some melted butter to a cast iron (or oven proof – if you haven’t got one, use a springform) frying pan and cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of potato slices. Add more melted butter, salt and pepper and continue to layer (each slice overlapping others) until it’s full. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top and add something heavy and oven proof as a weight on top. Place in 200C oven for approx 15 minutes, then remove the weight and the paper and cooked until golden on top and soft in the middle (pierce with a pairing knife), approx 45 minutes all together. If it’s getting too brown cover with tin foil. Can be kept warm until needed covered in foil on a 150 C heat.

Next brown the beef on all sides in butter and oil on high heat. Add salt and pepper and place on an oven tray covered in oil. Add garlic and maybe some herbs and place in a 200 C oven until a few degrees shy of the temperature you want. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into 1cm though slices. If you want your beef really rare, brown it early but don’t put it in the oven until the potatoes and the sauce are well on their way. You can cook the vegetables as the meat is resting.

For the sauce, cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water in a bowl for a few minutes. Fry the onions and garlic until soft in butter and oil. Remove from pan, add more butter and oil if needed and fry the fresh mushrooms. Season and add it to the fried onions. Lastly, fry the rehydrated dried mushrooms and season. Add the other mushrooms and the onions back to the pan and lower the heat. Add the cream and stock cube and bring to a gentle boil. Add the dijon mustard and cognac and season to taste. If it’s too thick add a little water or fresh cream to make it thinner. Keep warm or reheat just before serving.

Boil the broccoli for approx 3 minutes, until it’s softened a bit but is still a bit crunchy. Drain and cover with kitchen towel. Fry the spring onions in a fry frying pan on high heat until charred.

To plate, cut the Pommes Anna into wedges, add the sauce, vegetables and the meat on top. Add some extra salt and pepper and enjoy!