Stuffed Marrow

Cultivated in England and closely related to the courgette, marrow is a large, slightly oval, green summer squash which can grow to the size of a watermelon. Think of it as a monster courgette.

The flavour is subtle, yet often described as bland - thin slices gently steamed as a base for fish, or for layering in a Cottage Pie will show off their flavour, but all too often it is regarded as bland and so stuffing with a flavoursome meat sauce is a really good way of enjoying this food.

Let's get stuffed ...

Make up a flavoursome meat sauce by simmering ground beef, lamb or pork with onion, garlic, generous spoon of tomato puree and chopped mushroom, maybe a splash of Worcestershire Sauce, or simply enhanced with a little anchovy paste. The meat should be ready to eat and as much liquid removed as possible before stuffing the marrow.

Cut the ends off the marrow and using a long knife scoop out the middle to make a fat tube.

Place one end back on and hold it in place with tin foil.

Up end the marrow and fill it with the meat packing it down as you go.

Place the other end on, hold it in place with tin foil and then cover the middle with tin foil also.

Bake in an oven set to 180C for 20-30 minutes depending upon the size of the marrow and thickness of the walls.

Remove from the oven, cut into slices a couple of inches thick and present on a long plate with a few spoons of soured cream over the top. Accompany with some fried tubers - parnsip chips are great!

If you are particularly dexterous, you could do this with a couple of large courgettes.


Cauliflower Stalk Soup au Pistou

Cauliflower stalks need not be discarded to the compost heap or simply fed to the pigs!

A simple, delicious and nutritious soup can be made by simply simmering chopped stalks with onion in bouillion. Served with a pistou for a punch of flavour - gorgeous!

Let's get pistou'd up ...

Pistou? Don't you mean pesto? No! I mean pistou - the French blend of garlic, basil, extra virgin olive oil and a little salt. That's how you make it - quick and easy! Use lots of basil and a good number of cloves of garlic, blending together while pouring in extra virgin olive oil, salting to taste.

That's the pistou ... now the soup.

Clean up the cauliflower stalks, trimming the leaves to about half an inch either side of the stalk for the outer stalks and leaving the inner stalks intact with leaves. Chop the stalks into really thin slices.

Slice an onion into really thin slices and add to a pan of hot bouillon along with the cauliflower stalks.

Bouillon? Oh, come on ... what's wrong with salted water? Well, a bouillon is a broth made from a simmering of mirepoix, bouquet garni and some bones. Mirepoix? Bouquet garni? Now you're really taking the pistou! Here's a cheat - you can buy powered bouillion which only needs a generous tablespoon in a litre of water. If you wanted to make up your own, it's onion, celery and carrots (the mirepoix), thyme, bay and sage tied together (the bouquet garni), some bones and water - simmer for a few hours to extract all the flavour, freeze excess as appropriate.

Anyway, to get back to the point in hand ... simply simmer the onion and cauliflower stalk for a few minutes until softened, while retaining a little crunch.

Serve into a wide bowl and drop a generous spoonful of pistou into the middle.

C'est si bon! Non?