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Courgette, parmesan and tomato muffins

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

Emma made these muffins, based on this recipe. One of the comments on the original post mentions how vague a 'large courgette' is as an ingredient. Since we had an enormous 'almost marrow' in the fridge, we thought that might be a bit too big. We didn't have any sun-dried tomatoes left but yesterday we bought a huge bowl of cherry tomatoes from the market so I cut some of those in half and put them in the oven for a few hours.

Courgette, parmesan and tomato muffins

Fennel and Salmon Pizza

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / pizza /

Some of the fruit and veg stalls at Coventry market sell bowls of fruit and veg for £1. We occasionally buy things like bowls of peppers but this morning we decided to also get a bowl of fennel. Now this is a vegetable which we occasionally buy from the supermarket but then it's only 1 bulb at a time. This time we have 5 bulbs of the stuff to use so we're going to need to be a bit creative.

We have a pizza book which has dozens of different recipes for toppings and sauces. One was a fennel sauce which has diced onion, fennel and garlic which is fried then simmered in tomato sauce. We gave that a go and topped it with salmon, anchovies and capers. And cheese of course. I might try it again if we find ourselves with excess fennel again.

Mackerel with Tomatoes and Capers

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Yesterday Emma bought some smoked mackerel from the supermarket in the city centre. I was looking for a suitable recipe which could be made using items we had in the kitchen. I found a recipe which looked promising. The only thing I didn't have was olives, so I left them out. I also decided to cook it in a pan instead of in the oven.

I started by frying some onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until they softened. I then added a glass of red wine and boiled it for a couple of minutes before adding a similar amount of chicken stock and half a tin of tomatoes (just the tomatoes, not the juice - I didn't want the sauce to be too runny). I added a pinch of sugar, a couple of tablespoons of capers and a sprig of rosemary and let it simmer while I boiled a pan of rice. We thought a slightly spicy rice might go with it so I cooked the rice in the rest of the chicken stock and added a generous pinch of chilli flakes.

When the rice was nearly cooked, I removed the sprig of rosemary and added the mackerel to the pan. When it was ready to serve, I grated some parmesan to sprinkle on top.

Mackerel with Tomatoes and Capers

The combination of tomatoes, fish and capers reminded me of a puttanesca sauce. The flavours were fairly intense but well balanced without anything dominating too much. The fish was quite good too, despite being from the supermarket's economy range.

Chilli Jam

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I still have a few home-grown chillies and tomatoes in the fridge and I felt like making some kind of chilli sauce out of them. A few weeks ago I came across a Chilli Jam recipe from the BBC Good Food website and I thought that might be suitable. I used to occasionally buy a jar of Tracklements chilli jam and the recipe looked like it might give similar results.

I scaled the recipe down a bit for two reasons: I only wanted to make a single jar, and I didn't have enough vinegar or red peppers. The original recipe called for garlic and root ginger, which I didn't have either so I left those out. I hope it doesn't affect the recipe too much.

I started off by weighing 150g of granulated sugar into a pan and added 100ml of white vinegar. I started warming this through gently while I chopped one red pepper and 5 small cayenne peppers and put them in the liquidizer. I peeled 100g of fresh tomatoes, popped those in with the peppers then turned the liquidizer on and blitzed everything to a fine mush. I then added that to the pan.

At this stage, I transferred everything to a small camping stove in the back garden since every time I boil up vinegar in the kitchen, the smell permeates the house and lingers for hours. I gently heated the pan until it started to simmer, then left it for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

When it had started to thicken (and had reached what felt like the consistency of a melted jam) I turned the gas off and let the pan cool slightly while I sterilized a jar by pouring boiling water over it. I emptied the jar, left it to dry for about a minute, then carefully spooned the jam into it.

Chilli Jam

I haven't tried the jam yet since it is still cooling down so I hope it works out ok.

Roast Tomato Soup

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /

Our fridge is starting to fill up with tomatoes from the garden, I seem to be harvesting them much faster than I can eat them. Emma suggested making a tomato soup and pointed me towards the Red Onion & Roasted Cherry Tomato Soup recipe in the Covent Garden Soup & Beyond book.

I have had to slightly adapt the recipe, leaving out the onions and using a tube of pureéd basil instead of fresh basil leaves, as well as roughly halving the ingredients to make it serve 2.

Place the following in a roasting pan and put in the oven at gas mark 5 for about 50 minutes, until the tomato skins start to brown slightly.

  • 1.5lb tomatoes from the garden
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Leave the tomatoes to cool for a few minutes then liquidize and pour into a pan. Add 1tsp of balsamic vinegar and 1 heaped tsp of dark brown sugar. Bring to a simmer, add the basil and some water to make it a decent soupy consistency.

Our tomatoes can be a bit bland and watery so I didn't add the full 150ml of water (I actually used slightly more than the 1.5lb of tomatoes since I picked more this morning and I added any where the skins had split). I made the soup in advance and let it stand for a few hours to let the flavours mix together properly.

Week 43: Sweet Potato, Tomato and Courgette bake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /

This recipe came from an old issue of Slimming World magazine, from October 2008. We decided to follow it almost to the letter. The only changes we made were to use sweet potatoes instead of normal potatoes, ordinary tomatoes instead of plum tomatoes, grated cheddar instead of parmesan, and a mixture of fresh parsley and dried herbs instead of a handful of fresh herbs. The intention was to follow the recipe closely but now I list the substitutions, we did make more changes than I realised.


  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced.
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced.
  • 1 small courgette, sliced.
  • 1 red onion, diced.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
  • herbs.
  • salt and pepper.
  • A handful of grated cheese.
  • 2 medium eggs.
  • 150g quark.


Fry the onion and garlic until soft. Put the slices of sweet potato into a pan of boiling water, bring back to the boil then turn off the heat. Simmer for about 4 minutes then drain.

Beat the quark and eggs together, adding the onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.

Layer half of the vegetables in an oven proof dish, then pour over half of the quark mixture. Place the rest of the vegetables on top, followed by the rest of the quark mixture. Finally sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes at gas mark 6.


The original recipe claimed it served 1 as a main course but we shared it as a side dish. Even then it was a large portion.

Some of the vegetables were still slightly firm so I next time I might cook the potatoes for slightly longer and possibly fry the courgette slices for a minute or two to soften those too.

Week 42: Green tomato risotto

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /

This was based on a recipe from the Cottage Smallholder website. It's a great way of using up unripe tomatoes. We made a few changes, such as a pinch of dried herbs and a sprig of fresh parsley to replace the 'savoury'.

Green tomato risotto with meatballs

The meatballs had turkey mince, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, finely diced chilli and seasoning.

Week 29: Tomato Soup Cake

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This weeks recipe came from the Mail on Sunday. When we first read it, it sounded unusual and interesting. Since we recently tried Chocolate and Beetroot Cake, we thought another strange vegetable cake was worth trying.

The cake came out quite moist and lightly spiced. We made a few slight changes, using allspice instead of ground cloves, and doubling the quantity of cinnamon. You couldn't tell it was tomato soup based unless you tasted carefully and tried to discern the flavour. If you didn't know, I don't think it would be obvious.

Week 24: Chicken Enchiladas

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We often make enchiladas using the kits which contain the tortillas, seasoning and sauce. This time we made it (almost) from scratch. We didn't make our own tortillas this time but used some garlic tortillas from Lidl. The sauce was a carton of tomatoes to which we added a teaspoon of jerk seasoning.

For the filling, I sliced and fried 2 chicken breasts, 1 onion, half a courgette, 1 green pepper and 1 medium sized leek. I added half the tomatoes and a handful of grated cheese.

The filling was spooned into the tortillas which were rolled up then covered with the rest of the sauce and a bit more grated cheese. We baked them for about 10 minutes at gas mark 5 until the cheese had melted.

Green Tomato Chutney

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

I decided to try my tomato chutney tonight. I think it was a success. It tasted like a 'proper' bought chutney. I hadn't followed the recipe exactly - I didn't measure out the sugar and vinegar but poured some in until it looked about right. The balance of sweetness and sharpness seemed about right. Since I used less vinegar than the recipe, it probably won't keep as long as normal chutney so I should make sure I eat it fairly quickly. Since I have two fairly large tubs of it, that's a lot of chutney to eat over Christmas.

We made turkey burgers for tonight's tea so I thought the chutney would go well on the side.

If I made the chutney again, I think the only change would be to chop the tomatoes smaller. Some of the pieces are quite big but since it was my first go at making it, I wasn't sure of the best way to do it.

Frosty Green Tomatoes

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
  1. At last, over a month after it was delivered, it was time for our recycling bin to be emptied. We filled it a couple of weeks ago and we've got enough new recycling to fill it all over again.

  2. There had been a heavy frost overnight. It took a while to defrost the car this morning.

  3. On my way to the office this morning, I overheard some women talking. I missed the start of the conversation but I think they were talking about the cold weather. I heard one of them say "But it's not even December yet!".

  4. I had lots of spare unripe tomatoes in the fridge so I decided to make some Green Tomato Chutney. I followed one of Keith Floyd's recipes from the BBC website. Chutneys are supposed to improve after a few weeks so I won't sample it yet and give it a chance to mature.

Tomato Shortage?

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

I don't know whether the tomato harvest has been poor this year or whether there has been a shortage, but I have noticed the price of tinned tomatoes has gone up recently. It is most noticeable at the 'bargain/value' end of the market, where the cheaper tins have doubled in price. Strangely the price of tomato puree has stayed the same.