Time for a spot of cooking! It seems ages since I last shared a recipe over here so when The Happy Foodie asked me to take a little culinary challenge, well I simply couldn’t resist, dear Reader!
As anyone who knows me well knows, new cookbooks are pure heaven to me. I simply can’t resist flicking through tantalising recipes, thinking of occasions that I might try one out – some of them are even to be found on the bedside table for just before bed reading! So when I came across Rosie Ramsden’s new cookbook, The Recipe Wheel, I was intrigued to find something rather more exciting than a collection of delicious treats to cook and serve up.
The concept is simple but innovative at the same time. There are series of mind maps – one basic recipe at the centre of the wheel which can be adapted to suit any occasion, mood or variety of ingredients: Cooking for Friends, something for a Night In, creating a dish to Impress, hassle-free No Frills recipes and even ideas for what to do with those Leftovers. The core of one recipe ‘mind map’ could be Roast Chicken and then with Rosie’s creative recipe wheel, this basic recipe is translated into a Chicken and Mango curry for a Night In or a delicious dish to Impress like Chicken salad with Blood Orange. No hard and fast rules which allows the cook to mix and match ingredients and be creative with a dish. Sounds brilliant, doesn’t it? Perhaps one of the best things about the recipe wheel is that it gives great ideas for leftovers too.
Inspired by Rosie’s recipe wheel idea, I wondered if I could have a go at creating my own wheel using an ingredient at the centre of the wheel rather than a dish. Take the humble courgette – there always seems to be one or two lingering at the bottom of the vegetable drawer in our fridge and I’m always trying to think of new ways to jazz up the way I use it. You know that this Margot loves all things foodie, dear Reader! The garden is certainly showing signs of there being tons of them in our little veg patch before long and so Rosie’s recipe wheel revelation couldn’t have come sooner! With a little bit of thought and to kick off Margot’s new Kitchen blog post page where I’ll be featuring recipes of all sorts, I created my own wheel with a little illustrative help from Primrose (aged 5, she draws courgettes and everything else so much better than I do):
All of my recipes are courgette based, some using a little to add background flavour, some where it is the star of the show and some fancier than others but, just like Rosie’s fab recipe wheel idea, each dish suits a particular mood or occasion. Jerry certainly hasn’t complained about my 5 new ways with courgettes and he’s a self-certified carnivore.
Friends: Courgette and feta fritters with lemon and mint dipping sauce
Night in: Almost Ratatouille (my very own take on that fab Provençal number)
Impress: Courgette, sorrel and pea risotto served with zucchini fritti and basil oil
Leftovers: Arancini with roasted tomato sauce
Bitten by the bug, I’ve been thinking of recipe wheel ideas ever since and have already tried quite a few dishes from The Recipe Wheel. It’s amazing that no one has thought to put together a recipe book like this before. No more endless thumbing to the index to work out recipes using up the ingredients in the fridge, no more wondering about how you can elevate a recipe you’ve been churning out for years – Rosie’s done that all for you! She’s certainly given me lots of new ideas.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourites from this week – Get Creative: Smoked salmon bruschetta with sweet courgette relish. A perfect dinner party starter that allows you to spend your time with a chilled glass of rosé rather than slaving over the stove when your guests arrive.
Sweet courgette relish (makes enough for a dinner party starter for 4)
1/2 courgette, grated
1 spring onion, chopped finely
1 1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp runny honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or apple balsamic vinegar
black pepper and salt
a good handful of fresh dill
Couldn’t be easier….. Into a mixing bowl, grate the courgette and add the finely chopped spring onion. To this, add mustard, cider vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Using a little whisk, whisk the wet ingredients into the courgette and spring onion and taste. Now add a handful of chopped fresh dill and leave for 1 hour in the fridge in a jam jar for the flavours to infuse.
Bruschetta part: Make some rough croutons using French bread sliced on the diagonal, drizzle over some olive oil and bake in a hot oven (180 degrees centigrade/350F/gas mark 4) until golden. Leave to cool.
To 2 heaped tbsp of crème fraiche, add 1 tsp of horseradish, a squeeze of lemon and a tiny pinch of salt – mix well. Using a teaspoon, place a small amount of the flavoured creme fraiche onto your toasted croutons, add a piece of smoked salmon to finish. Garnish with more fresh dill and serve with the sweet courgette relish on the side.
Now all you need is someone to pour you a drink - summery heaven! Long may this glorious sunshine last!