Aha! I'm finally back writing about food.

But first a catch up on the Travelling Fair front - Mr FD decided he was going to "chill" and not get involved this year. So he didn't. And the giant Casino lorry set up well away from the gate and the post box, so we didn't need to worry. Last night (Friday) there was no noise, as, much to our surprise, the fair didn't open. And today, even though it's past 2 o'clock in the afternoon, it's all very, very quiet.* I suppose the weather isn't particularly conducive to going to the fair - grey and cool - but usually the music and loudspeakers are going by now. We won't be here this evening- we've been invited to Gilles' house for dinner - and we're staying up at l'Allée in Cathy's house tonight and tomorrow. So hopefully it won't impinge too much on us.

The dinner at Gilles' house is why I'm writing about food. We're taking the starter and Odette and Louis (other guests) are taking the pudding. So I decided to do a sort of "antipasti platter" with cold meats, olives, huomous, marinaded peppers and stuffed courgette rolls. I'll post the recipes below.

Foodwise, I've not done anything very interesting, except for a delicious spicy summer roast chicken which we had last Sunday, when it was very hot. Served with a couscous salad, it was perfect for the weather.

On Monday we had fish cakes (just past their sellby date and so free from Shopi!) with sauté potatoes, mushroom sauce and courgettes
Tuesday - rice with ratatouille and chicken
Wednesday - We were out for lunch, so had Monster Courgette soup and bread in the evening.
Thursday - fish kebabs from the market. Rather expensive, but very nice, with rice and green beans and a tomato/courgette sauce
Friday - ham, salads and hassleback potatoes.

On Sunday, we'll have something from the freezer. Served with Monster Courgette, no doubt!

Anyway, the recipes.
I used Nigel Slater's Houmous recipe from his book "Real Fast Food" **(subtitled "350 recipes ready to eat in 30 minutes") It's a good book, although many of the recipes don't, in my opinion, count as main meals - such as Guacamole, houmous, grilled mushrooms and so on. But it's a book I do turn to, again and again, for certain recipes - including the aforementioned houmous. 
(this isn't the same cover as my book...which I bought some 10 or 15 years ago!)

Mr Slater describes the houmous as "an earthy tasting purée of chickpeas that can become addictive" - and I think he's right. Every time I make this, I could sit there with a bag of tortilla chips and finish the lot!! I always leave rather too much in the food processor,(accidentally on purpose!) so I have to wipe it out with bread!

225g/8 oz tin of chickpeas
6 tbsp tahini paste (I find this is too much, and only use a scant half this amount)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Zuzz the chickpeas in a food processor, with a little of the liquid from the tin until smooth. Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, and zuzz until smooth. Season with the cayenne, salt and ground black pepper. Transfer to a dish, drizzle over some more olive oil and serve with warm pitta bread.

The Stuffed Courgette Rolls were a recipe I took from a BBC "Good Food" magazine a couple of years ago. I've made them two or three times as summery barbecue nibbles. They're a bit fiddly to make, but very delicious.

4 small courgettes, ends trimmed
3-4 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
250 tub of ricotta
squeeze lemon juice
Fresh basil leaves
50g pine nuts, browned in a dry frying pan.

1. Slice the courgettes lengthways, using a swivel peeler. For 24 rolls, you'll need 24 strips. Drizzle some oil and vinegar over a flat plate and lay the strips on top. Then drizzle more over. Cover and marinade for at least 20 minutes, but up to 6 hours.
2. Mix the ricotta, lemon juice and seasoning to taste. Then add basil and pinenuts to the mixture. Place 1 tsp of the mix onto one end of a courgette strip and roll up. Repeat until all slices are rolled. Arrange upright on a plate and grind over some black pepper. 
3. Drizzle with a little more oil & vinegar to serve.

I have no basil, so I'm adding some pesto to the mix instead, and also adding cream cheese to make it a bit cheesier. I've made the filling with a mixture of cream cheese, marscapone and crumbled feta before, and that worked well.

For the marnaded peppers, I just halved and roasted 2 red peppers until the skins were charred and blackened. Then I put them in a plastic bag until cooled, and the skins peeled off quite easily. I sliced the peppers into thin strips, and put in a shallow dish, with a sliced clove of garlic and some sprigs of fresh rosemary. Then I poured about 3 tbsp olive oil over them and left to marinade. 

I would have liked some yellow peppers too, to make the dish more colourful, but there weren't any in the market yesterday.

* At 14.54 the music finally started. I think I'm quite glad, as it means they are getting some custom...I'd end up feeling bad for them if they got nobody turning up!!

** If you click on the link, which takes you to the Amazon page, you can then "click to look inside"'s quite interesting to read Nigel Slater's introduction to the concept behind the book. He says "many of the snacks in this book can become a complete meal by serving them with a salad and following them with cheese and fruit. I cannot think of a meat or fish dish that I would not accompany with a salad of green leaves" Perhaps I haven't quite taken this on board when I complain that  "many of the recipes don't, in my opinion, count as main meals" ...Maybe I should reconsider several ofthe recipes with Nigel's words ringing in my ears...

And finally, don't forget to join in my Giveaway, over at this page. I haven't decided on a deadline yet, so I'll keep reminding you!


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