Aubergine and tomato gratin

Diced aubergine, chopped fresh tomatoes, red onions and garlic, drizzled with olive oil and strewn with sea salt, bruised thyme and black pepper, roasted at 180C for 35 mins then finished at 200C for 10 mins.  Served with torn fresh basil and Caroline’s home-made pan-bread (she loves the burnt bits best) or with brown rice spaghetti for me.

Cheese and tomato tarts

Puff pastry tart with pesto, tomato slices, cheese, more tomatoes, more cheese, herbs, sea salt and anchovy fillets.  Baked 15 mins at 220C.  Served with glazed carrot batons and French beans, both straight from the garden, crushed peas, butternut squash roasted with caraway seeds, steamed spinach, also from the garden, and (missing from the photo..) mashed, buttered parsnips, a thick Hollandaise sauce and a parmesan crisp with crushed pepper and smoked paprika.

Tomato and celery soup with potato nests

Onions, celery, diced carrot and red pepper, fried in olive oil until the onions were golden. Six cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped, added along with chopped thyme, black pepper and sea salt and fried gently for a minute. Added a glug of white wine, then a couple of pounds of Caroline’s cherry tomatoes.  Topped up with stock, simmered for 15 mins, then blitzed with a stick blender.

Potato strings made with my Spirooli, salted and deep-fried until golden, then dropped into the soup with a sprinkle of shredded basil.

Roasted butternut soup

Butternut squash, peeled and cubed then tossed in olive oil, sea salt, pepper and chopped rosemary and roasted for 40 minutes until browning nicely. Onions, peppers, celery and carrot, sauteed with a little olive oil.and chopped thyme until the onions were golden. Added the roasted squash and topped up with stock. Simmered for 5 minutes, then blitzed to a creamy consistency.  Served with shredded basil and smoked paprika.

Vegetable curry with rice noodles

Sort of a Rogan Josh without the lamb or any vestige of authenticity.  Just fancied something to remind me of when I lived in Birmingham, next to Sparkbrook and Sparkhill, centre of the Balti universe.

Roasted and fried spices, ground dried chillies, chopped fresh red chilli, browned onions, oil, carrot, celery and red pepper. Bit of stock added then reduced to stickiness.  Roughly-chopped beefsteak tomato thrown in at the last minute with chopped parsley. The noodles are actually organic rice spaghetti.  Boiled for 11 mins, then tossed with a little butter and some chopped herbs.  The chillies really came through, lots of flavour as well as serious heat.


Roasted butternut and carrot soup

Butternut, carrots, red onions and red peppers, drizzled with olive oil and roasted on a bed of fresh rosemary sprigs until browned. Chopped the vegetables, fried the roasted onion for a few minutes, then added the vegetables with light meat stock.  Simmered 15 minutes, then finished with a knob of butter, blended, seasoned and served with a splash of cream and chopped parsley

Walnut and lentil Wellington

Green lentils, simmered in vegetable, stock drained and cooled.  Mixed with chopped walnuts, chopped parsley and marjoram, black onion seeds, ground coriander, chopped root ginger and a double-yolk egg.  Seasoned then wrapped in puff pastry, seams glued with beaten egg, crimed and folded underneath. Marked the pastry with diagonal slashes, then glazed with more egg-wash and baked for 35 minutes at 180C.

French beans with tomatoes

French beans from the garden (well, the freezer…)  boiled for a few minutes in salted water, then tossed in a little butter to glaze.  Chopped onions and chilli (still using the crop from three years ago), fried in olive oil until browned.  Added chopped garlic and a good handful of thyme and marjoram fresh from the garden.  Lots of cherry tomatoes from the freezer, a dollop of tomato puree, salt and pepper, plus a little bit of a vegetable stockpot.  Simmered in a covered pan until the tomato mix was gooey.

Caroline wanted chips.  Ever willing to oblige, I provided chips…