Monday, September 29, 2014

Roasted vegetable lasagne with goats' cheese

It's harvest time - or at least, so the Fortnum and Mason shop window tells me (I was walking past, not doing my shopping there, I hasten to add). Living in a city, you can feel disconnected from these landmarks in the food year, these rural rituals. But even I can spot all the cheap courgettes in the market, and if you have an allotment or vegetable garden, you're probably rushing to use them before they turn into marrows.

A roasted vegetable lasagne feels like a fittingly celebratory dish, stuffed full with shiny plump vegetables - not just courgettes but aubergines, onions, peppers and tomatoes. I've been making it for years. Actually, it was probably one of the first proper dishes I made without a recipe, and I've loved it ever since.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Portuguese wine

I don't usually write about wine, but a few days ago I went to a wine tasting at a slightly unusual venue - a library. I haven't been to many Lambeth Heritage Festival events, but they cover an impressive range of topics. (There's one coming up very soon, on the evening of September 23, on London in the First World War with Professor Jerry White, an award-winning social historian).

I have to admit I previously knew very little about Portuguese wine, but this event certainly opened my eyes.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Two late summer salads

Picnic opportunities are fast running out, but I am planning to squeeze in one or two more. This weekend I enjoyed two easy dishes which celebrate vegetables, using strong flavourings to add punch to main ingredients which might seem rather pedestrian - cucumber and carrots. The winner to my mind was spiced carrots teamed with feta cheese, the spices helping to bring out the sweetness which was balanced by the salty feta. But I will certainly be making the garlicky smashed cucumber again too.

Personally, if I had these two dishes on a picnic I wouldn't need much else, though I might be tempted by the idea of some fresh bread and some home-made hummus. But it rather depends how lavish your idea of a picnic is. And if you're not picnicking, never fear - either or both of these will work well indoors, perhaps as a light lunch or side dish.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The ten best things to do with blackberries

It's been a great year for blackberries. They seem to be everywhere - not just on country lanes and in fields but in London parks and alongside railway lines, anywhere in fact, urban or rural, where they can find a foothold.

A few days spent camping in Wales recently gave me the opportunity for lots of blackberry-picking - although coastal walks became rather slow and protracted when I kept getting distracted by new patches of shiny, juicy fruit.