Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Morning After...

The more I read about war-time, the more memories of foods my mother cooked for us come flooding back. Perhaps it was the monotony, but at the time never remember enjoying the meals very much. However, one is worth reviving because vegetable marrows are cheap enough to buy, will store for ages on a high shelf during the winter months, and today's recipes for preparing this dish are far and away superior to those my mother used (think she just made up the stuffing with onions, breadcrumbs and herbs). Many readers may have found a very large courgette (or three) in their garden that got missed the first time around, and these - being teenage marrows - could be cooked in a similar way.

An alternative way of cooking the marrow would be to top and tail, then cut the marrow into four deep rings, scoop out the seeds and membrane from the centre, and then blanch the rings in boiling water for 4 minutes before draining and filling with the stuffing. Put into a dish (this time without the water), cover lightly with foil and bake at the same temperature for 35 minutes. An alternative stuffing recipe is also given, and - as this is similar in many ways to the first - we can use either or both as a guide to adapt our own choice of filling.
Normally the marrow peel is left on with both methods of cooking, but if you prefer. the rings can have their peel removed before blanching.

Stuffed Marrow:
1 large marrow (approx 12"/30cm long)
8 oz (225g) onions, finely chopped
3 tblsp sunflower oil
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
8 oz (225g) ripe tomatoes, diced (or use a can of chopped)
4 oz (100g) shelled hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds, chopped
8 oz (225g) fresh breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper
4 tblsp creme fraiche, fromage frais or Greek yogurt
10 fl oz (300ml) water
Slice the marrow in half lengthways, and scoop out the seeds and membranes.
Fry the onion in the oil for 3 minutes, then add the celery and continue frying for 5 minutes, then removed from heat.
Put the tomatoes, nuts, breadcrumbs, herbs into a bowl with seasoning to taste, and stir in the onions and celery. When combined, mix in the creme fraiche. Use this mixture to stuff both halves of the marrow, placing these side by side in a greased baking dish of a size where they will fit without too much moving around. Pour the water into the dish (to surround the marrow, not pour over it), and bake for 40 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4 until the marrow flesh is soft and the filling baked through. If the filling/flesh is crisping up too much, cover with greased baking parchment or a tent of greased foil after 30 or so minutes.
To serve, cut in half across the middle of each to give four portions.

alternative stuffing for marrow:
6 oz (175g) green lentils, soaked then cooked
2 tblsp sunflower or olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 x 335g can sweetcorn kernels, drained
2 oz (50g) cooked rice, pref. brown rice
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
5 fl oz natural yogurt
2 oz (50g) Cheddar cheese, grated
Fry the onion in the oil for a five minutes, then stir in the garlic, celery and sweetcorn and cook for a further 5 minutes, before stirring in the cooked (and well drained) lentils, the rice, coriander, parsley, yogurt and cheese. Mix well together then use to stuff the prepared marrow and cook in either of the two ways suggested.