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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Thorsten, a nice guy from Germany tries my courgette bake, lamb chops and mint sauce.

It seems romance is in the air for my young friends Thorsten and Immi as Thorsten Feldmann is currently over in the UK (from Germany) to spend time with his English girlfriend Immi. I took the opportunity to invite them over to my house for lunch. We met outside the Theatre Royal and travelled to Ruddington on the upper deck of the Number 10 bus. Apparently the view out of the top level front window makes passengers who are drivers think they are going to crash! Also the very polite Thorsten was most surprised that we English say "Thank you" and "Cheers!" to the bus driver when getting off the bus. On the journey Thorsten said that he has already tried Scotch Eggs and Mushy Peas but not together – and he seemed up keen to try out another British food item – mint sauce. I organised the pouring rain so that Thorsten could experience real English weather.

So as these nice social events rarely occur I put together a special courgette bake or tian. Essentially one buys a silly amount of courgettes (I.5 + kg), slices them thinly and painstakingly fries them in olive oil so they turn a light shade of brown. Years ago, when I first tried making this dish from Dorling Kindersely's super book about French Country Cooking -Anne Willan's Look & Cook French Country Cooking – I used to over cook the courgettes. The tian is just one of over forty recipes from the book which includes tapenade, terrines, meat and fish courses, vegetables au gratin, fruit tarts and ices. Nowadays I don't think the courgettes need to be such a crisp golden brown colour. They tend to taste burnt and soak up too much olive oil in the cooking.

The cooking process can't be hurried and frying pan after frying pan of courgette frying does take time. However, from a practical sense and, to hurry up the process a little, I discovered that using my wok to par fry a couple of handfuls of courgette slices whilst the main frying pan's worth cooked away, did speed things up. Being aware that the cooked courgettes would need to be chopped finely, I left them to cool in a colander. After all the courgettes had been cooked I quickly fried off a chopped cooking onion and two garlic bulbs and added them to the courgettes.


The next major thing that needs done is to boil up around 600g of long grain rice (Basmati is good too) then drain. The previous evening, to save time, I had taken the leaves off three small Supermarket bunches of flat leaved parsley. These are the ones on the fruit and vegetables stands that cost about 70p. Now is the time to push all the ingredients together on a chopping board and chop away until all the courgettes and onion/garlic mix is finely chopped. Place in a big mixing bowl and add the cooked rice and the parsley. Mix in approx 200g of grated parmesan cheese and finally four fresh eggs.

The pre-cooking mix looks a bit sloppy but when placed in pre-greased baking dish and cooked on a medium heat for forty minutes it will be fabulous. To accompany the tian we enjoyed pan fried English lamb chops and a light salad of Cos lettuce, on the vine tomatoes, radishes, spring onion, feta cheese and a few black olives. A bottle of Kentish beer each went well with the meal too.

And what did Thorsten think of the mint sauce? Hmm, the jury is still out on that one. When we went into Shane Ginty's Ruddington butcher's shop Thorsten did seem rather taken with the idea of pork scratchings though and he loved my English lamb chops marinated in fresh mint and rosemary from the garden. Bananas and custard next time Thorsten. Lecker! Delicious!

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