Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Courgette Cake (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)


I have written before about Bear Bear, my second daughter’s prized toy. However, I only found out recently that Bear Bear has a birthday.

A few weeks ago, in the crazed, tense half hour that precedes dinner arriving on the table, the children were circling around me in a hungry pack. I had assumed my usual fixed expression, intently stirring, gently pushing small people out of the way, trying not to get irritated, and struggling to work out how much spaghetti feeds a family of six.

My eldest was leaning on the edge of the work surface, drumming her fingers in boredom. Her eyes were casting around for something to amuse her, when she spotted it,
‘Mum, can I look at my baby journal?’
‘What? Ummm, err – so if 100g feeds a small child, how much do I need for an adult…yes, yes you can’.All the others looked up with interest and surprise,
‘Mum! Mum! Can I look at my baby journal?’


With a sigh, and the usual frustration of never being able to finish a job without interruptions, I handed them the baby journals, and they seated themselves around the kitchen table.

These journals came into being when I was pregnant with my first baby. She came late, so I had lots of time on my hands, and started writing the grandly named ‘Baby Journal’. I now struggle to keep the FOUR baby journals I have, up to date. Please don’t mistake me for a supermum at this point. I write them because I have many questions about my own childhood, and unfortunately there is no-one left to ask. I would have loved a little book that told me salient details about my early life.

The journals consist of photos, train tickets, hospital tags, plane tickets, sketches and writing. The writing is about their lives. When they were born, what they do, what they say, their personality traits, funny things that happen, long-drawn out apologies from me for not being as good as I’d like to be, that sort of thing.

Now, my children normally love the idea of being mentioned on my blog for ‘the whole world to read’ (bless their deluded hearts), but they have drawn the line when it comes to Baby Journals. They don’t mind me recounting anecdotes, ‘but no names Mum, no names’.

Suffice to say that they giggled heartily the other week when they read of how one constipated baby finally consented to poo – after a 10 day hiatus – at 3am one dark morning. They listened agog as the journal told them that Mummy ran out of nappies to catch all the poo. They heard how Daddy stumbled off to get another nappy, and still the baby wanted to poo. They filled the kitchen with cries of horror as they read that in her 3am state, whilst changing the baby on the marital bed, Mummy held out her hands to catch the poo rather than have to wash all the bedding.

They were literally rolling on the floor when they heard of how one cheeky minx ran to me when she was small, demanding scissors. After careful maternal questioning as to the proposed use of the scissors, she lied, and thus managed to procure a pair. She ran quickly from the room, with Mummy in silent, suspicious pursuit. They cackled and cackled when they heard that the cheeky girl was creeping, scissors aloft, towards an older child who was reading a comic. They were gleeful as they realised that the minx was going to cut through the comic, and they groaned when they learnt that Mummy spoiled the fun.


They thought it hilarious that one child’s first attempt at a sentence was,
‘Bash you on the head, shall I?’ and that one of them told me very seriously that Jesus was born in ‘Bethkneeheaven’ and that angels sang, ‘Hal-nay-nooonia’.


Perhaps the most important thing we learnt, however, is that Bear Bear has a birthday. I had not realised that I’d written down the day we bought her, but my little girl found this a very exciting fact. Especially when she realised that August 23rd is Bear Bear’s birthday, and ‘shouldn’t we have a party?’
 I drew the line at a party, but thought a cake might be in order. And why not a courgette cake? I have heard the cries from fellow bloggers who have a surfeit of courgettes and so providing a courgette recipe seemed a sensible thing to do.


So, for Bear Bear and for all those with too many courgettes, this cake is for you.

Bear Bear’s Courgette Cake (Click here for tips on how to avoid cross-contamination)

This is a babe of a cake, really moist and tasty, and a very good way to hide courgettes from children. I’ve made it with wheat flour and Gluten-free flour and it works a treat with both. There is no need to add eggs to this recipe.

For a gluten-free cake:
275g grated courgette
3tbsps ground linseeds mixed up with 4½ tbsps rice milk
195g sugar
0.5tsps nutmeg
1.5tsps mixed spice
105ml vegetable oil (I used Sunflower)
75g raisins
45g dried, sweetened cranberries
30g rice flour
¾ tsp xanthan gum
1.5tsps bicarbonate of soda
4 - 10 tbsps rice milk
For a wheat flour cake:
Use the first 8 ingredients above, then:
225g wholemeal wheat flour
2tsps baking powder
1½ tsps bicarbonate of soda
3-4 tbsps rice milk
For the icing and filling:
300g icing sugar
1 tbsps cornflour
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon 
  • Mix the ground linseeds with the rice milk and set aside
  • Heat oven to 160 degrees celsius, gas 4. Grease two 20cm round cake tins, and line the base with baking parchment
  • Grate the courgettes and squeeze them to remove the juice, you could do it in a tea towel if you can bear to wash it afterwards.  Set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, put the sugar, oil, and linseed mix and stir. If making a gluten-free cake, add the xanthan gum
  • Add the dried fruit and grated courgettes
  • Add the flour (either wheat flour or gluten free flours), bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and spices. Mix well. Add the extra tbsps of rice milk, more or less as you see fit. You are aiming for a mix that will fall slowly from a wooden spoon
  • Divide the mix between the two cake tins, smooth the tops with the back of a wooden spoon, and place in the centre of the oven
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, but do keep checking (all ovens are different). The cake is done when it has risen, is golden and springy to touch. A skewer should come out clean
  • Allow the cakes to cool in the tins, then turn out onto a cooling rack. You can keep them overnight well wrapped up
  • To make the icing, put the dairy-free spread into a large mixing bowl. Add the zest from the orange and lemon
  • Seive in the icing sugar and cornflour and mix well to combine. Add more icing sugar if you like
  • Place one of the cakes, top down, onto your serving plate. Smear half of the icing over it, and sandwich the other cake on top
  • Cover the top of the cake with the rest of the icing, spread it out using a palette knife (or a regular knife will do).  Then use the back of a metal spoon to make little peaks, dab the spoon onto the icing then quickly pull it up and it should make a point 
  • Eat huge slices of it, it's yummy, and pretty healthy (ish) too


The pictured cakes are the gluten free versions
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007



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Monday, 27 August 2007

Ta-Daaaa!

Now I am one tardy Pig when it comes to thanking the lovely Akelamalu. She has not only given me this v. pretty award...

...but a while ago she also gave me this one.

I plead ditzy computer ignorance for not attaching them before. She had to send me a kindly email telling me how to do it. I may be able to cook but I can't turn my cursor into a butterfly like she can. (Perhaps she should be at Hogwarts? In Gryffindor you understand, not Slytherin...)
Anyway, I'm supposed to scatter these awards freely around the blogosphere...but is it ok if I don't?
I am going to leave them open to anyone who would like to pluck them from my blog...but please let me know so I can come and see them displayed on your blog mantlepiece.
And you should definitely pop over to Akelamalu's pad, she plays groovy music, it's a multi-sensory, happy place to be.
Pigx




Saturday, 18 August 2007

Hot Chocolate with chilli (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)



When the lovely Mike Thomas asked to interview me about my blog, of course I was delighted. As he is from the USA, I had hoped that might mean an all-expenses trip to New York. Alas, he was already in London and offered to pop over.

On the day of his arrival, I left nothing to chance. Having been up until the small hours cleaning the house, I dispatched my husband and all children off for the day. They were not permitted breakfast, and as I shooed them away, ‘Go to a farm or something’, I’m not entirely sure that they were all dressed. Never mind, dear hubby is always bemoaning his long business trips, some good quality bonding time was in order.

The house empty, I pondered what to wear. When I left Paris in July, I packed for a slobby summer in the country. A rifle through my wardrobe confirmed that the only possible option for the interview was a short, brightly patterned skirt, a skimpy vest and a pair of wedges.

Now, you will be aware that first impressions are key, and I had given the moment of our meeting careful thought. As he swept up our long drive, I decided I should be in the garden, artfully gathering roses. I opened the door and my breath was taken away. Not by the arrival of the handsome Mr Thomas, but by the wind,
‘Cook me it’s cold’ I thought.
A glance at the swimming pool confirmed that a gale had blown up; there were waves lapping against the sides. A further rummage in the wardrobe produced a floaty wrap, I figured an Animal hoody wasn’t the look and feel I was after.

So, hiding my goose bumps with the wrap, I arranged myself by the rose bush. Trying to hold a wrap, cut roses, not get scratched and look alluring is no mean feat when it’s blowing a gale. As I heard wheels approaching I would assume my pose, but time after time the pouting, meaningful look I tossed over my shoulder, (think Mother Theresa crossed with Gisèle), fell on a red-eyed bleary farmer driving a John Deere and scowling at me. The farmers are bleary at the moment because they are spending every waking hour transporting straw bales, ploughing and furrowing. They are red-eyed and scowly because I am yet another outsider pushing up the house prices and dressed in ridiculous clothes to boot.

Of course, as Murphy would have it, at the crucial moment of Mike’s arrival, the wind had blown my basket of roses over and I was bending over to retrieve them. No man should have to view the Pig’s rear in a ruched up mini without a good thick pair of beer goggles. I brushed off this poor start, beamed and shook his hand. The poor man had obviously been expecting summer, he was clad in a short-sleeved shirt and was almost frostbitten.

He made lovely comments about our beautiful Norman longhouse – tactfully not mentioning the weedy drive – and was in raptures about the old wooden beams, the beautiful floor and the delightful wood burner. In fact I had to quickly light a fire to warm the poor man up ( he declined the Animal hoody), and instead of offering him the fruit punch I had prepared, I handed him a cup of my delicious hot chilli chocolate. He made the correct orgasmic noises, and the interview was off to a good start. We spent a lovely hour chatting, the only shame is that he didn’t bring a photographer.

Now, in the manner of John Fowles in the French Lieutenant’s Woman, I’m going to let my (other) authorial voice have a word, and give you a choice of endings.

Reader, did you enjoy that story? It’s a heart-warming tale isn’t it? You may like to keep that story, or you may prefer the version where the lovely Mr Thomas sent me an email and asked me to submit my own interview online. You may even wish to believe the ending where I leave my husband and children and drive off into the Normandy sunset with Mr T, just stopping to drop his hire car back at Avis. Or indeed, the one where I shoot to fame and fortune and only ever wear mink again.

Whichever version you choose, I urge you to try my hot chilli chocolate in these wintry August days, it will heat you and soothe you. And please, have a read of our interview.


I do so love The Silly Season.
Hot Chilli Chocolate
When I was breastfeeding my fourth (allergic) baby, I embarked on a vegan diet in order to remove all the allergens that triggered her eczema and hives, from my diet. I remember evenings standing in front of open cupboard doors, gazing hungrily at food I couldn't eat, and trying to find a way to satisfy my empty stomach. (Note, it's a fantastic way to lose lots of weight). I came up with some mad, hybrid drink that involved cocoa powder and Bird's Custard Powder. This little tipple is sooo much better. If you are feeling particularly blue, you might want to up the chocolate content.
270 ml rice milk
125g gluten-free dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
1 tbsp gluten-free cocoa powder
1-2 tbsps Cointreau (optional, but why wouldn't you?)
Sugar to taste
Dried red chillis, ground up to make flakes, you'll only need a sprinkle (here's the kind I mean)
  • Put the rice milk and dark chocolate into a saucepan. Over a very gentle heat, stir until melted, all the while inhaling the beautiful fumes
  • When the mix is good and thick (add more chocolate if you want thicker), add the cocoa powder and stir until it is all combined
  • Put the Cointreau into your waiting mug, and a cube of sugar if you desire
  • Pour the hot chocolate into the mug
  • Stir
  • Grind the red chillis in a blender or mortar and pestle. Sprinkle over the top of your chocolate, careful, they really burn
  • Curl up somewhere snuggly and sip in a kittenish manner. Put on your mink coat if you desire.
  • That sounds so delicious I'm going to make one right now. I think you should too
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007




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Thursday, 16 August 2007

Roasted Tomatoes with Rosemary (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)


The morning after The Morning After is a great day. You awake to a clear head and a huge surge of relief. The sky looks bluer, the grass a shade greener, and the world is for living in, not enduring.

Such was my experience last Sunday morning. My dear best friend had arrived on Friday night, not – as I had foolishly believed – to spend a quiet weekend in the country, but apparently with the sole intention of drinking me under the table. How your friends can turn on you.
Saturday was spent in a foggy blur, with us grunting at each other, and my clear-headed husband occasionally reminding us of something we had said or done the night before. A brisk walk around the fields did not revive us much, and we only managed two hairy dog glasses of red in the evening.

But on Sunday, I was ready to live again. My dear children dragged me out of bed later than usual, and as they slumped in front of the telly, I amused myself in the kitchen. I first set to work on some pancakes. I posted a recipe for pancakes in March, but the photo really wasn’t up to scratch. So I killed a few birds with one pancake mix, took a better photo, and also tweaked the recipe and made it better. Do feel free to take a look.

As I doled out pancakes to my children, everyone was satisfied. My son in particular, was a very happy bunny. He cantered around the kitchen in his boxers, his skinny body in sticky maple syrup rapture,
‘The next one is for me! I LOVE maple syrup!’
It was through the fragrant pancake and coffee fug that I happened to notice the time. With breakfast still in full swing, the time was coming up to about 1130. My house guest appeared, ate her pancakes, and I took a snap decision. This was no longer breakfast, it was rolling brunch.

I forged on, still clad in my pyjamas, and as everyone dispersed for a while, I clattered about the kitchen preparing the next course. As long as the children are calm, happy and – crucially – elsewhere, I do find myself very content to be pottering in the kitchen. I peeled, and cracked and thought, grated and plucked and bustled. I sipped some strong black coffee and when the roasties went into the oven, I finally took a shower, emerging just in time to baste the potatoes. It was a slickly executed shower-and-baste manoeuvre.

We sat down to a rather late brunch, but everyone ate, drank and was happy. Highlight of the Brunch – to my mind – was my roasted tomatoes with rosemary, garlic and mushrooms. I think Rosemary could become my new best friend; at least she won’t give me a hangover.
Rosemary's Roasted Tomatoes
I don't often roast whole garlic, but thought I would give it a try. It has a lovely nutty texture, a bit like roasted chestnuts. It is a shame that garlic gives you dragon breath, but don't let that stop you making this.
T0 serve 3 grown-ups:
20 small vine tomatoes
16-20 button mushrooms
A head of garlic
A good bunch of fresh rosemary
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
  • Heat oven to 190 degrees C
  • Wash the tomatoes and wipe the mushrooms
  • Peel the garlic head, you want 8-10 cloves (or more depending on taste)
  • Arrange the tomatoes and mushrooms prettily in a small roasting tin. I attempted a repeating pattern, but it didn't really work
  • Slot the garlic in randomly amongst the toms and mush and scatter fresh rosemary over the top
  • Drizzle well with olive oil, and cover the tin with tin foil (to stop burning)
  • Place in the centre of the oven for about 15 minutes. After 10 mins inhale the smell of Rosemary, gorgeous
  • Check after 15-20 mins, if it seems almost cooked (mushrooms giving off juice, tomatoes soft with wrinkly skins), remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes to brown everything off. Keep checking, you don't want it to burn
  • Remove from oven, sprinkle more rosemary over the top and add salt and black pepper if you wish
  • You can reserve some of the cooking juice to use as a 'dressing', it goes well on roast potatoes too
  • Serve to clear-headed friends
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007



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Monday, 6 August 2007

Gazpacho (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)

In many ways I feel a great affinity with Joan of Arc. I, like her, possess elfin features, an absence of subcutaneous fat, and look like a teenager. I too see visions - not of angels - but of many people lauding me for my allergic little creations. As did the mighty Joan, I have been known to sleep fully dressed - not to preserve my modesty in a male army barrack - but to claw back a few minutes of sleep the following morning.

Sadly, as Joan, I know what it is to feel persecution. I know the pain as the table turns against me. I feel the heat of my dining companions’ wrath when my faddy, time-consuming diet causes the chef to burn their steak.

I am of course talking about being a Vegetarian in France. Could there be a smaller, more hated minority? As Sarkozy steams ahead with reforms and cozying up to Bush, I fear that Vegetarians in France may soon feel the force of his tractor beam; how long until the deportations?

Talking through a menu with French waiters is like receiving a lesson in culinary Luddism. It is as though I am lost somewhere in the Fifteenth Century as these formidable men struggle to understand the concept of another way of life:

Yes, Good Evening, I’ve looked through the menu, and – err- I’m vegetarian and there’s nothing for me to eat”.

Big Gallic shrug, Neanderthal grunting and shaking of head as Early Man tries to understand,
“Et alors?”

Or,

“Hello, umm, I’m vegetarian and I’ve had a look through the menu, but there’s nothing I can eat”.


Suave and cocky, this one,
“Well, you can at least finish your wine before you go”,
looks around grinning, he is pleased with his sharp, incisive wit.

“Ha ha, yes, very good, well, would the chef do me an omelette?”

Serious now, this a grave and delicate subject,
“Ah non. Chef says that if you want an omelette, then you cook it at home”.
I do think of the French as equals, really I do. No matter that we won the Hundred Years War on aggregate, that’s all in the past. Or that if it weren’t for us they’d all be speaking German. We should put all of this to one side and rejoice in our EU one-ness.

Yet – given that this IS the 21st Century – I do confess to some puzzlement. How can the rest of the world have embraced new tastes, diets and ways of eating, yet alive and well here in the Hexagon, there are many many eaters of frogs thighs and snails, who snigger at the notion of being vegetarian? And I’m not talking country inbreds, I mean chic Parisians. It really is a conundrum.

My husband and I were once invited to dinner with his ex-French boss. His wife was determined to rise to the challenge posed by her strange guests. With great enthusiasm she described what she would be serving. I showed polite interest and asked pertinent questions.

“You see,” she said,
“Gazpacho is full of vitamins. (Clearly lacking in our restricted diet) Tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, olive oil, it’s all extremely good. There are only good things in my Gazpacho.
Pause.
It’s especially good for people like you”.

She cocked her head on one side and gave me a pitying look, of the kind they used on wrongly accused Joan of Arc, as the flames started to lick around her feet.

Plus ça change…


Gazpacho (Serves 4-6 adults)

I struggled with the notion of cold soup for quite some time, until of course it was placed before me with a flourish chez Le Boss. But I am a convert, it's very yummy and great for hot summer days. You remember those, don't you?


10 big vine tomatoes
1 large cucumber
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 small green pepper
5 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
200ml passata
0.5tsp sugar
Salt and black pepper to serve (not white pepper if serving this to Coeliacs, some white peppers use a wheat starch as a 'filler')
Ice-cubes to serve
  • Place the tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Boil the kettle and pour the boiling water over the tomatoes until they are submerged. Leave them for about 10 minutes, then prick them with the point of a sharp knife. The skins should burst open. Pour off hot water, then, using a knife, spend a fiddly 10 minutes peeling off the skins. If you're like me and fussy about tomatoes, you might want to cut out their hearts too
  • Put the skinned tomatoes into a liquidiser jug and set aside
  • Roughly chop the green pepper and cucumber, skin the garlic cloves and add to the tomatoes along with the olive oil, vinegars and passata
  • Whizz it all up until all the lumps are gone
  • Taste, and if it's slightly acidic, add the sugar, you may prefer it without. Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours (can easily be made the day before your chic summer dinner party)
  • When ready to serve, dole out into bowls and drop in some ice-cubes
  • Send up a little prayer for Joan. Enjoy your meal
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Courgette Tart (egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free)


So this is a tale of the bike ride, the neighbour, the enormous courgette and the curious twists that life can take.

In a bid to salvage a morning of squabbling, bored children and mild maternal depression, I brightly informed my small ones that we would be going on our bikes to fetch bread from the shop. In fact I didn’t present this fait accompli, I made the mistake of floating the idea with the assembled children, whereupon three agreed and one violently disagreed. I really should learn; never allow choice, always dictate. As the three in favour gaily assembled their bikes and helmets on the drive, I fed the dissenter some chocolate and hissed that he would be in an awful lot of trouble if he whinged all the way there and all the way back. What a lovely sunny vision of family harmony and perfect parenting.

Off we went, with whingeing coming from all directions. Ahead, from the one who couldn’t pedal properly. From the side, from the one who fell off and scraped her knee. Behind, from the small one whose helmet was over her eyes, and also from me, as yet another persisted in riding on the wrong side of the road. By the time we reached the shop, the mild maternal depression was crying out for a year’s supply of SSRI’s. I almost did break down when I noted that the shop was closed on a Wednesday. It was Wednesday.

With that familiar ‘what-a-crap-Mother-you-are' feeling welling up inside me, I turned my cavalcade around and we headed back up the lane. The mood brightened slightly as we stopped by a field of wheat and listened to the sound of chewing. After some non-scientific tests (kicking the area of wheat that was being chewed to see if the noise stopped), we concluded that many mice were having their lunch.

Our experiment was interrupted when one of our neighbours, Mme Hamelet, appeared with her two grandchildren. We chatted politely, then both watched in surprise as my eldest started to chat to the grandchildren who are of a similar age. I did not know that my clever girl could converse so capably in French, much less introduce her siblings, ask names and ages and generally be rather engaging. The neighbour asked whether my girls would like to come and play after lunch.

Oh how lovely to be given a focus for the day! We all pedalled home as fast as we could, rushed through our lunch, quickly baked some cookies to take (I can be a good Mum sometimes), and duly returned for our 2pm rendezvous. I waved them good-bye and the girls ran off for their full-immersion (free) French lesson.

When I came back to pick them up, they were not best pleased to see me. The Anglo-French encounter had gone extremely well and they managed to wangle an extra half hour, with Mme Hamelet agreeing to drop them back a bit later. We returned the play-date the following day, and everyone is very satisfied with these burgeoning friendships.

Mme Hamelet gave me an enormous courgette from her garden. It was so huge I enquired about the fertiliser she uses; I have a sneaking suspicion it could be radioactive. Plutonium or no, the courgette was very delicious, especially when teamed with cherry tomatoes, garlic and some Dijon mustard.

Vive la France et bon appétit!
Mme Hamelet's Courgette Tart
Pastry:
If you can eat wheat flour, but are avoiding dairy, use:
300g wholemeal flour
a large pinch of mixed dried herbs
  • Rub the spread into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre, add 3 tbsps cold water and mix with a spoon to make a workable dough. Squidge together with your hands. Add a little more water if it seems too dry, and a little more flour if it seems too wet. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 mins. See below for rest of method.
For Gluten-Free Pastry
200g sweet potato, (peeled, cooked, cooled and mashed)
125g rice flour (+ up to 5 extra tbsps)
Good pinch of dried mixed herbs
Some baking parchment
Some dried rice(about 100g)
For the filling:
3-4 tbsps olive oil
the innards of 2 medium tomatoes
1/8 of a tsp of ground red chillis (or chilli flakes from a jar)
20 cherry tomatoes
a large courgette
2 cloves garlic
2-4 tbsps Dijon mustard
Salt and black pepper
Good pinch of dried mixed herbs
If you can eat cheese: approximately 100g gruyere cheese (or cheddar)
  • Up to 36 hours before, cook the sweet potato by steaming or boiling, then mash it until smooth. Spread it out over a plate and chill in the fridge. The pre-requisite for using the mashed potato is that it be very cold, so you need to do this part at least 4 hours before starting the pie
  • Put the rice flour, xanthan gum, herbs and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and mix together. Add the dairy-free spread and rub it into the flour mix until it looks vaguely like breadcrumbs. It won't look like very fine breadcrumbs, but don't worry
  • Add the sweet potato mash and using the back of a metal spoon mix and squidge it all together until it forms a dough. It could be that the dough is too wet and sticky to work with, so add more rice flour, tablespoon by tablespoon. Mix after each addition until you get a soft, pliable dough that isn't sticky. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
  • When ready to make the tart, heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / Gas 4
  • Remove your pastry (gluten-free or otherwise) from the fridge. Roll it out to a thickness of about 3mm, this amount will easily fit a fluted tart tin of 26cm, possibly one a little larger (note if your tart tin does not have a removeable base, you might want to grease it, or line it with a circle of baking parchment)
  • Gather the pastry over your rolling pin and lay it over the tart tin. Push it gently down to fit the tin. Using the back of a knife, trim off any excess that is hanging over the side. Stab the base of the tin all over with a fork ( a nice cathartic exercise if arguing with your loved one)
  • Place in fridge and leave to cool off...(also a useful technique when arguing with said loved one)
  • Finely slice the courgette and place into a rectangular lasagne dish / roasting tin or other rectangular receptacle suitable for coating vegetables with oil
  • Cut all the cherry tomatoes in half and place in dish/tin/receptacle. Finely chop garlic and set aside
  • Cut large tomatoes in half and squeeze all juice and pips into dish where courgettes and cherry toms are residing. Add the 3-4 tbsps olive oil, salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Using your hands mix everything around, until all veg is coated. Leave to marinade whilst you move onto the next step
  • Remove pastry-lined tart tin from fridge. Cover with baking parchment, and pour the dried rice into the centre of the baking parchment. Gently smooth out rice so that the base of the tin is covered. Trim off any excess baking parchment
  • Place in the centre of the oven and bake like this for 10 minutes. Check after 5 mins, if the edges of the crust are looking too brown, reduce oven to 160 degrees. After 10 mins remove tart from oven, remove baking parchment and rice, and return to oven but only for 1 minute (to try and dry off the base)
  • Remove tart from oven. Let it cool for about 10 minutes if possible, but if not, forge on
  • Spread Dijon Mustard over the base of the tart using the back of a spoon. Then cover the base with courgette slices. Arrange half the cherry toms over the courgette slices, and sprinkle half the garlic over it all. If you can eat cheese, sprinkle over half the cheese at this point
  • Repeat this process again. Sprinkle the dried mixed herbs all over the top. You could also use a tbsp of the marinade and baptise the tart, alternatively preserve the marinade and put it on the table when you serve the tart, I didn't find this 'dry', but some might like extra juice
  • Cover the pretty tart with tin foil and place back in the oven at 180 degrees C for 15-20 mins. Remove the tin foil and bake for approximately 10 more minutes. (If the cherry tomatoes start to get too brown during this time, cover again with tin foil)
  • Serve this with a green salad (if you wish, but don't be bullied by me, do as you please). This tart is also good the following evening after a run, taken cold from the fridge and eaten on a garden bench with a good big glass of rose...
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007