Apparently, scientists have isolated a gene that inhibits growth of plants in cold climates. Having identified the gene, it will now be possible to manipulate it and make the opposite happen. This could be good news for gardeners in cold climates. Perhaps instead of a few courgettes, a handful of lettuce and some cabbages, we will soon be growing big, juicy tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers and all manner of veg and fruit!
Not that we are complaining about the crop of courgettes we have had this year. We did get plenty and there are still a few growing, albeit much slower now that the light is dwindling. We have been able to augment most meals with the courgette and it has even featured in main dishes such as this courgette cheese tart EP has made a few times now.
Here is the recipe more or less. I adapted it from this recipe:
For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chill again
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water
1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) feta cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated sharp cheese, like cheddar
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Make dough: Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Make filling: Spread the zucchini out over several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes; gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with paper towels before using. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the yoghurt, feta and sharp cheese, and 1 teaspoon of the garlicky olive oil together and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare tart: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet (though if you line it with parchment paper, it will be easier to transfer it to a plate later). Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the cheese mixture in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of the garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the zucchini. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze.
Bake the tart until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the tart is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the tart onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
What our wee little patch of cold soil has not yielded – fruit, for instance – we have had to augment from outside sources. Last week EP impulse bought red currants from the market. This proved to be a rather expensive impulse. But we have an exquisitely delicious (and rather priceless) jar and a half of red currant jelly. She also made a delicious red currant tart as well as a jar of red currant relish.
Our good friend BF-C kindly supplied us with a bag of homegrown apples from a friend of hers with a garden near St. Andrews. ART splashed out in the kitchen (as he is known to once in a while) and whipped up an apple crisp for us.
Undaunted and not yet uninspired by the cold autumn weather moving in, we plan to continue augmenting our garden yield (and pantry) with a trip to Craigies for plums this weekend! Preserved plums in brandy does sound like just the project!