Tarragon Polenta with Pumpkin stuffed Tomatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 175g polenta (the quick cook stuff)
  • 2 handfuls freshly picked tarragon
  • 50g grated Parmesan
  • Half a small pumpkin or butternut squash
  • Sunflower or olive oil
  • 8 ripe tomatoes
  • A teaspoon of spicy sauce (I used Quinta d’Avó Preparado Angolano)

Method

  • Make the polenta by boiling 1 litre of water, rapidly stirring in the polenta and then continuing to stir using a wooden spoon until the polenta is thick and the granules almost gone.
  • Add the Parmesan and stir until integrated. Take off the heat.
  • Finely chop the tarragon and add to the polenta.
  • Tip the whole lot into an oiled plastic tupperware box and leave to set (once cool, put in the fridge).
  • Chop the pumpkin into large chunks (leave peel on), sprinkle with oil and bake at 220 degrees c for about 30 minutes until tender and brown in places. Leave to cool. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees c.
  • Slice lids of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and juice from inside. Discard, or pop in the fridge to use later if you are thrifty.
  • Scrape the pumpkin off the skins, put in a bowl with the spicy sauce (pumpkin is fairly bland so this is needed, but can leave out if using butternut squash) and mash with a fork or potato masher. Season.
  • Fill the tomatoes with the mash, pop the lids back on  and place on a baking tray. Brush with oil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • With 10 minutes to go on the tomatoes, take the polenta from the fridge and slice into 4 thick pieces.
  • Heat a drizzle of oil in a heavy frying pan (ridged is good) and once really hot, fry the polenta on both sides (turning once) so that is is nicely browned.
  • Serve a polenta slice with 2 tomatoes per person.

Pink and purple speckled beans

Last week there were still lots and lots of runner beans in the garden, but having steamed some, found them way too stringy and tough. So I picked them all, composted the plants, and was left with this lovely stash of pink and purple speckled beans.

Runner bean seeds

I boiled them and they were pretty good. The beans from the pods that had dried were too tough (these are the purple ones, the cerise pink ones are fresh) so I picked those out.

Once cooked (10 mins) I pondered what to make and ended up with this brown rice, bean and herb concoction which was thoroughly delicious and virtuous too.

There’s some grilled baby yellow courgettes and spring onions in there too. The herbs are tarragon and sorrel.
(Yes, I am still OBSESSED with sorrel).

Some grated Parmesan on top finished the thing very nicely.

Carrot, beetroot and apple tart

This is super easy, tastes Autumnal and looks gory. Perfect for Halloween.

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of Jus-Rol puff pastry
  • Vegetable stock
  • 8 carrots
  • 2 beetroot (cooked and peeled)
  • 1 large sharp apple
  • olive oil
  • Cheese (optional)

Method

Take a packet of Jus-Rol puff pastry out of the fridge and allow to reach room temperature for half an hour or so (this stops it from cracking).

Peel 6 of the carrots and chop them, place in a saucepan and just cover in vegetable stock. Boil, lid on, until soft and the liquid has almost gone. Purée using a stick blender and season.

Peel the remaining 2 carrots and then use the peeler to cut them into very thin slices. Once you have done that, lay them out and brush with olive oil.

Slice the beetroot into rounds. Core the apple and then slice into rounds.

Take the pastry and unroll onto a greased baking sheet. Spread the carrot purée on top and then arrange the apple and beetroot slices evenly. You could also add cheese at this stage. Something gooey would be good.

Finish by arranging the carrot peel on top, you can curl it prettily which also has the bonus of allowing bits to pop up, and it is these bits that will gently char, adding flavour and colour.

Bake in a 200 degree c oven for 20-25 minutes.

This is how it looked before going in the oven…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately I was too busy scoffing to remember to take a photo afterwards.

2 drinks using rosehip syrup

The Ramble (a post-work pick me up)
Mix a shot of gin with half a shot of rosehip syrup in a champagne flute. Top up with ice-cold Proseccco.

The mumble (a morning pick me up)
Using a stick blender, blend a ripe banana, the freshly squeezed juice of 2-3 clementines and a tablespoon or rosehip syrup. When blended (5 seconds is all it takes) pour into a glass and enjoy feeling slightly less blurry.