Zucchini (Courgette) Soup

I am waiting for the second wave.

No, not that one.

The second wave of zucchini!

Yes, it is that time of year where many gardeners find themselves inundated with zucchini. My first wave hit at the end of June. And continued until early July.

Since then a steady stream of smaller ones have made it more pleasurable and less stressful! I made large quantities of soup. Twice. With some in the freezer too. And stuffed zucchini is also a regular at the moment.

 

My soup has been a big hit. I think the key to adding flavour is plenty of garlic. I will have to try growing my own garlic one day as we consume an awful lot of it. 😉 A good vegetable stock, a potato and some (surprising?) seasoning make it delicious. Here is the recipe. I wrote it down the first time I made it and liked it so much that I have been using it since:

Zucchini soup

  • 1.25 kg (2.75 lbs) zucchini, roughly chopped into cubes
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 potato, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • a little olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 250 ml almond milk

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sautée the onion until soft. Add the garlic, zucchini, potato, all the herbs and spices and the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat until the zucchini and potato are soft. It will only take a few minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Add the almond milk and then blend until smooth and creamy. 😃

(And if you like garlic as much as we do, this tastes great with garlic bread. 😉)

Zucchini Soup

 

Oh dear, now I am hungry!

Are you enjoying vegetables from your own garden this summer?

xxx

Lovely Lemon Verbena

Herbal tea is really popular in Germany, but there is one sort I will not buy from a store or market. Lemon Verbena. Or Vervain. It simply does not have that gentle rounded flavour you get when you grow your own. So some years ago I started growing my own.

Lemon Verbena, also know as Lippia citriodora or Aloysia triphylla, is sadly not hardy enough for our climate, so I grow it in pots. In a sunny and sheltered spot, with some shade from the strong afternoon sun, it thrives. I have managed to harvest enough to last me through the winter already this year. (I drink one cup a day). So my next harvest will be for gifts, especially for my niece who also appreciates this lovely tea.

Harvesting is simple. Just snip fresh growth, shaping the shrub as you go, and taking care not to shorten it by too much as to weaken the plant. I cut mine by about a third (in autumn by about half). In spring and summer it will start producing new stems and leaves immediately.

Drying the leaves thoroughly is very important if you want to store them. I strip them from the stems, spread them out on a baking sheet and leave them in an airy place, out of direct sunlight, turning them every day. Within a few days they have withered completely and can be stored in an airtight container for up to a year. (I always add a piece of pasta to absorb any possible remaining bit of moisture).

If I have some strong healthy plants in autumn I will overwinter them in my stairwell, which is very light but not heated. I will water very very sparsely and most of the leaves will turn yellow and drop. But as soon as the plants are given some warmth and water in spring, they start regenerating. By the middle of May they can go back outside and be gently acclimatised to sunny conditions. From my experience night-time temperatures shouldn’t be below about 10°C. However, I always order new organic plants for the Spring in case mine don‘t revive. I can never have too many! 😉

Do you grow Lemon Verbena? Perhaps you have some tips I haven‘t mentioned?

Here are a couple of links to some recipes using this herb that I have posted in the past.

Lemon Verbena/Lemon Verbena Sorbet (vegan)

Lemon Cake (not vegan)

Or simply add a couple of leaves to an iced drink.

They smell wonderful. 😃

Now, talking of iced drinks…

Stay cool! 😉😎☀️

Elderflower Pancakes (vegan)

If Elder (Sambucus nigra) grows in your part of the world you may be seeing the frothy white flowers this week or even enjoying a whiff of the heady fragrance. For us the elderflowers are a little earlier than usual. Time to make cordial, perhaps some sorbet, and definitely pancakes. ‘Hollerkiachl’ as they are called in Bavaria. 😃

We are lucky and have several trees/shrubs directly on our doorstep and in our lane, away from traffic and foraging passers-by!

First I made the pancake batter. Here is my recipe for about 8 small pancakes:

  • 200g (1 3/5 cups) flour
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • 2tsps sugar
  • 425 ml (1 4/5 cups) almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 ‘veg eggs’ or 1 large tbsp soya flour mixed with a little water

Whisk all the ingredients together to make a smooth batter. Leave to stand while you cut your elderflowers.

The best time here to cut elderflowers is late morning on a still and sunny day. The aroma seems to be at its peak then. You will need about 8 -10 flowerheads, one for each pancake. (It depends on their size so cut a few extra if you aren‘t sure.) Shake off any flies and beetles. Bring them indoors and shake again over the sink, then place on a yellow surface. This attracts any remaining tiny flies to crawl out.

Heat a little sunflower oil in a pancake pan. Dip an elderflower head in the batter, holding it by the stalk, and drop it in the pan with an extra tablespoon or two of batter.

You can now cut off as much of the stalk as possible so you can turn the pancake once you see little bubbles forming. Fry until golden brown on both sides, and sprinkle with a little sugar. Continue until you have used up all the batter.

Enjoy!

 

Store Cupboard Recipe 5: Jam Tarts

As restrictions are slowly in the process of being removed in most parts of the world, this will be the last of my vegan store cupboard recipe series for a while. It has been an interesting exercise in seeing how long I can eat a varied diet without popping to the shops regularly. However, I do hope we will all be able to return to our usual routines soon!

The ingredients for these tarts are bound to be in anyone‘s store cupboard or refrigerator. And when that craving for something sweet grabs you, why not whisk up a batch of these! They are very quick and easy, and go beautifully with a cup of tea. Just in case you have never made these before, here is the recipe.

Jam Tarts

For approx. 18 tarts you will need:

  • Some muffin or patty tins, greased, and a cookie cutter
  • 250 g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 125 g (1 stick and 1tbsp) very cold margarine or vegan butter, cut into small chunks
  • a little cold water
  • Jam of your choice

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)

Make shortcrust pastry by rubbing the margarine into the flour with fingertips until fine and crumbly. Add just enough cold water to bring the dough together into a ball. (Tip: shortcrust pastry freezes really well – I only made 12 tarts and froze the remaining pastry for a rainy day. 😃)

Roll out on a floured surface to about 3mm (about 1/8 inch) and, using a cookie cutter that fits your patty tins, cut out shapes and place in the tins. Add a heaped teaspoon of jam to each. I used several different jams – strawberry, apricot and blackcurrant.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the pastry starts turning golden and the jam is bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing from the tins.

Enjoy!