On a beautiful evening in early August, we were delighted to welcome a select group of diners to our inaugural supper club held at the Bandstand Beds garden which has been mentioned in previous posts on this blog. Seventeen diners joined us for an evening of freshly cooked seasonal vegetarian dishes sourced from the garden itself and from the surrounding area of the common helping to raise funds for Bandstand Beds campaign to create better access to the fast growing plot aiming to further their skills sharing mission statement.
The evening was immensely enjoyable for all and sundry and managed to raise £425 for the project – a significant contribution to the £5,000 target. However, there is still a significant way to go before we have the full sum to get work under way so please don’t feel shy and donate to this very worthy cause that will allow more people to learn from this fantastic skills sharing project.
As ever, we have a little something to wet your appetite with two of our recipes from the evening: ‘Persian’ Ratatouille and Great Grandma’s Welsh Cakes (which were served with a delicious compote foraged from Clapham Common’s fruit trees). Both of these were a hit; so simple to do at home and make for an ideal weekend treat. Adapted recipes for your convenience and enjoyment.
‘Persian’ Ratatouille (serves 4 with rice)
Only ‘Persian’ in the loosest of terms with the addition of saffron and currants adding an extra dimension to a traditional staple of French home cooking. On the day we served this with Thadig, a method of cooking rice common to many areas in the Middle-East and beyond but it would also be equally well accompanied by boiled basmati.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 white onion, finely chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 pinch saffron
1 handful of currants
Sliced vegetable, including: red onions; pattipans; courgettes; squash; tromboncini (so long as you have enough to create the circular layered pattern pictured, roughly one of each of these vegetable and 2 of the red onions)
Salt and pepper to season
Toasted flaked almonds
Preheat your oven to 200C.
Take an ovenproof sauté pan, frying the crushed garlic and chopped white onion in some olive oil over a medium heat. Once they have become soft and appear glassy, add the tomatoes, saffron and currants and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring to allow the saffron and the sweetness of the currants to infuse into the sauce. Take care that the sauce doesn’t burn, stirring at regular intervals to ensure that the base for your ratatouille doesn’t catch.
Season the sauce to taste and remove from the heat. Ensuring that the sauce is evenly distributed around the base of the pan, begin placing the sliced vegetable around the edges of the pan in a circular pattern so that they stand upright and create a stacked effect – this will allow the vegetable to cook and their exposed edges to crisp and caramelise for additional flavour once in the oven. When the pan is full, place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp on the top but cooked in the middle.
Serve with a handful of chopped coriander and toasted flaked almonds.
Great-Grandma’s Welsh Cakes (makes about 18)
A long time favourite, Welsh Cakes have been given a make-over in recents years, with recipes being circulated by renowned food writers and even being stocked on the shelves of Marks & Spencer. However, none are quite so good as this recipe passed down from my great-grandmother, born in lovely Rhondda Fach.
Once chilled, roll out the mixture on to a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1cm (you may have to cut the dough in half to fit it onto you counter) and use cookie cutters to create perfectly round welsh cakes. Stack your Welsh Cakes on top of each other adding flour between each one to make sure they don’t stick together if necessary.
Take a heavy non-stick frying pan, or a traditional bake stone if you are lucky enough to own one, and place over a medium heat. Place a small amount of butter in the pan, ensuring a thorough coating before wiping away any excess with a paper towel to minimise the likelihood of ‘dodgy first batch’ syndrome.
Place the Welsh Cakes in the pan in batches of four or five at a time and griddle for approximately 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Once cooked they should still appear to have a thin line of moist dough still running through the middle but not be completely raw inside. Once out of the pan scatter with caster sugar and allow to cool while moving onto the next batch.
Repeat till all the dough has been used up and enjoy still warm with a well earned cup of Glengettie tea or save for later.