Oh, how I wish I could title this post Kielbasa and Kabbage! We’ve had a Mleckzo Polish delicatessen open up in Croydon recently and I am in awe at the selection of kielbasa (Polish sausage) that is available – there must be at least 50 different kinds in their refrigerated display cabinet! They’re all different colours too – some more reddish, others darker and possibly smoked. Some are pork only, others are beef, still others are pork and beef or turkey. Anyway, I have no real idea how to use all of them but I do know that a lot of them will work well cooked with cabbage.

I don’t claim that this is a particularly Polish recipe – I just put it together based on what I had to use up in the house. And it tasted great! I love the combination of the strong sausage with the cabbage – I love cabbage in stews. I’ve tried this now with a couple different types of cabbage and a few different kielbasas from the display. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the different types as they are all labelled in Polish, which I don’t read! Ah well.

Kielbasa and Cabbage

Kielbasa and Cabbage
serves 2

1 length of Kielbasa – about 25cm
1 small cabbage – green or Savoy
1 large onion
olive oil
200 ml cider
1 tsp caraway seeds
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut up your onion and soften it over medium heat in a little olive oil in a large saute pan. Slice the kielbasa into bite sized slices and when the onion is soft, add them into the pan with the caraway seeds. When they have browned a little, pour in the cider and let it all bubble.

Get your cabbage cut up into bite sized pieces, leaving the core. Add them to the pan, stirring through and adding a little more water if it’s looking dry. Cover and reduce the heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is cooked to your liking. Season to taste.

Serve hot with a little bread on the side – rye is a good choice.

I returned from that trip to Arundel with a slight obsession with cheese scones. We had them twice there – a sturdy savoury one at Motte & Bailey Cafe and a tender flaky one at Belinda’s. Both were served warm and with plenty of butter. Hot savoury salty strong cheesy scones with cold butter… I fell in love.

Alas, we still don’t have an oven at home but I discovered, after a bit of searching, girdle scones… a Scottish type of scone that’s cooked on a girdle, i.e. a griddle. Perfect! Essentially all I’d need is a flat surface over heat – I had that at least! It’s exactly like a scone – simple ingredients, minimising handling of the dough, quick cooking. And even if you do have an oven, with this recipe, there’s no need to preheat it! The scones I made were perfect and puffed up nicely over the heat. Flaky, savoury…. oh boy, time to make another batch.

Cheese Girdle Scones

Cheese Girdle Scones
Makes 8 (serves 2-4)
Adapted from a recipe from Sunday Hot Pants

1 cup plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tbsp cold butter
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup grated mature cheddar
A scant 1/2 cup milk

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt well. Cut in the cold butter until the butter pieces resemble rolled oats. Stir in the cheese.

Add the milk a little at a time, mixing it in each time – you may not need all of it. If it feels too wet, add some flour. But don’t overwork the mixture; use a light hand. Form the soft dough into a round about 1.5 cm thick. Cut this round into 8 wedges.

Heat a frying pan (I used nonstick but I think cast iron would be good too) over medium low heat. Place the round into the pan, keeping the wedges tightly together. Cook them on both sides until they are cooked through and golden brown on their sides. This will be about 5-7 minutes per side. If you’re concerned about the centre not cooking through, you can also put their cut sides directly over the heat.

Serve warm with butter!

For a sweet version, skip the cheese and add some sugar and currants. I reckon these can be easily customised.

Tamarind and Thyme: The Soup Era. We’ve been making and drinking quite a lot of soup. This recipe was suggested by my food-loving French colleague and apparently it’s quite the classic in France. I’m a big fan of both courgettes and La Vache Qui Rit (that’s Laughing Cow here in the UK) and it sounded right up my street. And it was! It was very comforting and ridiculously easy to make.

My courgettes are all gone now – I’ve just ripped up the plants – but I’ve noticed lots still in the shops that would be perfect for this.

Courgette and Le Vache Qui Rit Soup

Courgette and La Vache Qui Rit Soup
serves 4.

About 800g of courgettes
800ml water
1 tsp vegetable bouillon
4 triangles of Laughing Cow cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

This one’s easy! If you feel the courgette skin is too bitter, peel some of it off; I left mine and my soup turned out fine. Cut up your courgettes into small chunks and dump them into a pot. Cover with 800ml water and the bouillon and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the courgettes are tender.

Add the cheese and stir through until incorporated. Whizz the soup with a blender until smooth and then salt and pepper to taste. Keep hot until ready to serve.

Did you watch the most recent Rick Stein series – From Venice to Istanbul? There was one episode somewhere in Turkey where Mr Stein watched a tomato and lemon fish stew being cooked by a woman. I think perhaps the recipe was so simple that no one even bothered to write down the recipe as it’s not on the BBC website. A similar recipe is provided, cooked by a fisherman (in another episode, I think) but I wanted *that one*.

I had my doubts whether the recipe as presented would even work. All the ingredients, including a whole fish, are dumped into a large saute pan, it’s covered and then set onto the heat. But somehow it did work as various juices were exuded from the tomatoes, lemon and fish and this all mingled together and created a delectable fish stew. It’s stupidly easy and I highly recommend it! I reckon there are plenty of fishy combinations that will work when cooked in this way.

Turkish Fish Stew with Tomato and Lemon

Turkish Tomato and Lemon Fish Stew
serves 2.

Two sea bass (I used small individual serving sized ones), cleaned
1 large onion
3 large tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 lemons
salt
extra virgin olive oil

Peel and slice the onion and spread the rings in the bottom of a large saute pan (that has a lid). Sit the fish on top of the onions. Peel and dice the tomatoes (pour boiling water over the tomatoes in a heatproof bowl, leave for a minute, and the skins should just slip off) and scatter them over the fish. Peel the garlic and cut into large chunks and also add this to the pan along with the chopped parsley.

Take one lemon and slice off the peel. Slice the now naked lemon into slices and dot the top of your fish mixture. Take half of the second lemon and squeeze the juice over. Season with salt and drizzle over a very generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.

Cover the pan and set it over medium heat. In about 40 minutes, the fish should be cooked through and everything else should have cooked down, leaving you with a lovely fish stew. Serve with lots of bread for mopping it all up.

Is it an Indian summer now? It’s certainly sunnier and warmer than I would have expected it to be, seeing how cold and wet September entered. But thanks to the cold at night and a general unwillingness to turn on the central heating any more than we already are (we’re in a bit of denial that summer’s over), I’ve been making a lot of soup. I mean, look, second soup recipe in a row!

This Turkish red lentil soup, mercimek çorbasi, is currently one of our favourites, it being super easy to put together in very little time. While it’s simmering away (and an extra 10-15 minutes doesn’t hurt), you can go off and do something else. And the flavour! By itself the soup is fine but it’s when you add the lemon and mint that things pick up. And the chilli butter! If you’re looking to keep preparation all down to only one pot, dusting the top of the soup with a little Turkish dried chilli flakes (pul biber) is delicious too.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Turkish Red Lentil Soup
serves 2 as a light meal or 4 as a starter.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small or 1/2 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 cup of split red lentils, washed
5 cups of water/vegetable stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt

1 tbsp butter
dried Turkish chilli pepper flakes
fresh mint, chiffonade
lemon wedges

Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil and onion. Cook until soft and translucent. Add the carrot and stir for another minute. Add the lentils, water/stock, tomato paste and cumin and stir through. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let simmer until the lentils and carrots are soft – this is usually 20-30 minutes. Blend the soup (I use a handheld blender) until smooth. Salt to taste and dilute too if it’s looking too thick. Keep hot.

In a small pan, melt the butter and add about a tsp of dried chilli flakes. Keep over a low-medium heat until the butter turns a beautiful reddish colour.

Serve the soup in bowls, drizzled with a little of the chilli butter and topped with fresh mint and serve with lemon wedges.

When I found fresh corn cobs at my supermarket recently, I jumped with joy. I love corn! I had a revelatory moment as a child when I first tasted corn kernels smothered in butter – I’m pretty sure I downed that dish, the sweet nubs of corn swimming in butter. Butter. OK, so maybe I fell in love with the butter.

But what I’m trying to say very poorly is that corn and dairy tend to go well together brilliantly. And what better way to join them together in holy matrimony than in a soup – in particular, corn chowder. Creamy, creamy corn chowder. This made for a brilliant dinner one cold September night.

Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder
Serves 2-3 as a light meal.

1 tbsp olive oil
A small onion, finely chopped
A small handful of chopped bacon or lardons (obviously, leave this out if you want the soup to be vegetarian-friendly)
Corn kernels cut from 3 fresh ears of corn
1 large starchy potato, peeled and diced
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
A sprig of fresh thyme
About 150 ml single cream
1-2 spring onions, finely sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a medium size pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and the chopped onion. Fry until translucent. Add the bacon and fry until cooked. Add the corn, potato, stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the potato is soft. Fish out the thyme.

Add the single cream and bring back to a simmer. If you’re looking for a slightly smoother texture, go ahead and blend some of the soup; I stuck in a stick blender and gave it a bit of a whiz to give it just a little thickness and body but still with lumps. Add the sliced spring onions and stir through until wilted. Season to taste with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Serve hot with lots of hot bread on the side.

Nuh uh, I don’t have a glut. We only have two courgette plants but together, they pump out enough courgettes to keep us feeling like we’re eating courgettes at every meal. Some days it’ll be a massive one the size of my forearm; other days I’ve got a handful of baby courgettes to use up. But a glut? Nah, surely that’s when you have more courgettes than you can use, right? Because we’re using up all our courgettes so far!

And anyway, they are succumbing to powdery mildew now and I’ll make a note that next year, I should stagger the plantings for a longer courgette season!

This recipe used up some courgettes and some of our chard as well; the latter is also pumping out leaves at a phenomenal rate! It’s a very versatile recipe – we ate it as it is or let it cool and mix with beaten eggs and turn it into a big omelette. Or even stir it through some pasta. It’s the garden in a pan!

Courgette and Rainbow Chard

Courgette and Chard Sauté
Serves 2

2 courgettes
A small bundle of chard
Olive oil
A handle of pine nuts
Shavings of pecorino Romano or some other hard cheese
Salt and freshly black pepper

Cut the courgettes and in a large sauté pan, cook them in a little olive oil over medium heat, stirring once in a while.

Meanwhile, clean your chard and separate stems from leaves. In a small pot of boiling water, blanch the stems and after a couple of minutes, add the leaves. Drain after a minute or two. Add the chard to the courgettes (which should be colouring by now) and stir.

Empty the small pot and put back over the heat. Add a little olive oil and toast the pine nuts, pulling them off the heat when they start to colour – the residual heat with continue to toast them.

Stir the courgettes and chard together and when all heated through, season. Stir through the pine nuts and plate, scattering the shaved cheese on top.

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