Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Farmer's Market Courgettes and a Trip to Witley Court

I suppose I am not the only person who thinks this, but where has the year gone? Seriously.
I can't believe that it is August and that we are well over half way into the year and that the nights are slowly beginning to creep in again. Sorry to start with such a depressing tone, but looking out onto the restaurant courtyard, I notice the earlier darkness each evening.

I am making a point of enjoying the summer days while they last.

On Saturday, the Farmer's market came to Hightown. I know it comes twice a month, but I don't keep track of the dates so that when I find it again it is a wonderful surprise. We have a variety of stalls but I just can't keep away from the fruit and vegetable stalls. This weekend I picked up five varieties of courgette for £1. I practically had to be restrained from buying anymore. Courgettes are my favourite vegetable. I am more than happy to use them in every conceivable way and devour the results in moments. I hope this love rubs off on M, but she seems to have a spinach fetish instead, so I suppose I shouldn't be too picky.

This weekend we enjoyed a day out to yet another ruin. This time however, rather than being a ruined castle, we went to a ruined stately home. Witley Court near Worcester is a very grand Georgian house that burned down in 1937 after a kitchen fire. Now all that stands is the empty shell and recently restored gardens.

L helped me to pack up a picnic on Sunday morning and we sat on the grass and ate it with R, H and of course M, who tried to dip as many crudites as she could into as many dips as possible whilst running off towards the restored fountain and the few dogs that came into sight. It's so exciting to see her running around already.

Multicoloured Courgette, Tomato and Rice Tart

For the pastry
300g plain flour
100g softened butter
50g Trex or other vegetable fat
Cold water to bind
For the filling
200g precooked Arborio rice
2 tomatoes
Half a yellow ball courgette
Half a long green courgette, I used Striato di Napoli
Fresh thyme
Olive oil

Prepare the pastry by sieving the flour into a bowl with some salt and pepper. Dice the butter into the flour and use your fingertips to rub the ingredients together until they look like breadcrumbs.
Add a tablespoon of water and bring the dough together with your hands. Use more water if necessary.
Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for 30mins.
Grease a 23cm loose bottomed flan tin.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 5mm thick and transfer carefully to the flan tin using the rolling pin. Carefully push it down into the corners and trim to fit. Place in the fridge for a further 10mins to help it not shrink during cooking.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5.
Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and pour baking beans into it.
Cook for 15 - 20mins until just golden.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before returning the baking beans to their tub to cool. Remove the greaseproof paper.
Spread the rice over the pastry case then drizzle a little olive oil over.
Thinly slice the tomatoes and courgettes and arrange as you wish over the top before scattering some thyme leaves and seasoning over this. Drizzle with a little more oil, season and return to the oven for 30mins until the vegetables are just golden and beginning to turn up at the edges.


  1. I hear you on "where has the year gone"? Every week seems to be ending at an blink. Btw, that rice tart looks delicious!

  2. How beautiful! I have really been wanting to try a tart like this. The farmer's market is coming to my neighborhood today, so maybe tonight's the night? Thanks for the inspiration!

    I am totally with you about the year slipping away. Where in the world has it gone?!?! I know it's been a good year, but man... Did it have to go by so quickly?