Wednesday, 12 October 2011

spicy marrow chickpea torte and big budget update

so, as you all probably know by now we have an allotment. it's first year was incredible, it did spectacularly well actually, and everyone was jealous of our beautiful plot full of tasty fruits and veggies. nowadays it's in need of a little TLC, a seroius weeding session to allow the plants attempting to bear fruit to thrive. but in the meantime we're still eating lots of fresh mint, carrots, tomatoes, courgettes (zucchini) and marrow.

the marrow is that massive bright yellow thing, of which we have had 5 so far, and will continue to gain another few if we are so remiss in getting up to do some harvesting at our little plot. the other one is a spaghetti squash - i'm looking forward to cooking that humongous whopper!

so the question is, what on earth do you make with marrow? it's really just a courgette that's grown too big for it's own boots, and has huge seeds and a watery texture.

i did some serious googling for recipes and the usual things came up - stuffed marrow (this seems to be the most popular way to eat it, though i've never tried it), marrow and ginger jam (we still have some in our fridge from when we had the same crisis last year and i made a big batch), marrow curry seems also to be an option and some sort of curd like spread called marrow cream (which sounds wonderful).

the thing is that they do store pretty well, so there's not problem there - they develop a pretty tough outer casing, after being left to 'air'. so you can keep using them for a couple of months and you don't have to eat them ASAP.

but, we don't have lots of storage space in our house, and so, we must find a use for it. and once you cut one, you sort of need to use it.

so, along comes a bright idea. i'll make some marrow pakoras! sounds like a brilliant idea doesn't it? and a great way to start using my extra large bag of gram flour i purchased really cheap at Tesco's!

well, it would have been awesome... if it was courgette. unfortunately marrow is far too watery, and even after soaking and squeezing the grated marrow the mix was all soupy. so, instead (because 'waste not, want not' and all that) i decided to throw it in a flan dish and see what happened after some time in the oven.

thankfully, something amazing happened in there.

and ta-da, a wonderful tasty and spicy savoury torte! picnic perfection and great for lunchboxes - vegan, gluten free and dairy free, and cheap - yippee :)

spicy marrow chickpea torte recipe
makes 8-10 servings

2 cups grated marrow (do not squeeze)
1 T olive oil
1 cup gram (chickpea) flour
1 tsp sea salt - i used Maldon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp coriander
a dash of dried chilli flakes
a pinch of cumin and black pepper
1 tsp ground flaxseed

combine all the ingredients together (apart from the flaxseed) and leave for 10 minutes on the side. this enables the marrow to release some of it's juices and turn the mix into more of a batter. then add the flaxseed. stir in gently and then pour into a lightly greased or lined cake tray.

bake in a preheated moderate oven (180c fan) for about 30 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. a knife should come out clean. leave to cool, then slice and serve, or freeze.

cook's notes: at the family picnic, i introduced this as "no-corn cornbread", as it does bear a striking resemblance to it! but i think savoury torte is a nicer description?

so that's another marrow recipe to add to your collection. i've already made it twice, and realised the importance of using a shallow cake pan, instead of attempting to make a 'loaf' type shape with it - though i managed to save it by slicing and rebaking til firm. there's quite a bit in the freezer now, wedged in between heaps of bags of blackberries.

and now for an update on the big budget challenge:

all in all, we're doing really well!
  • we've managed to save over £50 already, without even really trying. and i've got all the bulk household item's we'll need for a month. it's funny how when you put your mind to something, you can acheive it so quickly.
  • i've discovered a love for a really good bargain. i've been to most of the local stores seeking out the best value produce. actually in season organic veg is pretty reasonable from the market, and Lidl is also great because they mark things down when they're in season (none of this 2 for 1 rubbish either, proper discounts!)
  • i spend every Tuesday chatting with local producers and dreaming of new food combinations at the local markets.  i was literally buzzing yesterday when i came back from town! though i think i probably bought a little too much than was really necessary. i console myself with knowing that i only took out one ten pound note to spend...
ps. the 6 knives were dinner knives i found at the antiques fair on an 'everything £1' table! the current set has only 4 knives left, and it was getting to be frustrating washing them up each time. i was so thrilled we didn't have to spend £12 on a brand new set of cutlery!
  • i've been blackberrying three times, and collected enough to fill 6 freezer trays and bags. we also went scrumping (wild apple picking) and ended up with one full backpack and 2 long life produce bags full of tasty wild apples -though i have yet to sort through them and wrap them up in paper for the winter.
  • i still haven't bought any clothes! yahoo! though i was sorely tempted in town yesterday, i resisted the urge until i've freed up some space in my current wardrobe. i've got a couple of things in mind to list on ebay - but a full clean through might be necessary.
  • we are all enjoying yummy vegan recipes - we've eaten quite a bit of lentil dahl and barley flatbreads. and i'm experimenting with traditional street foods from around the globe! can't wait to share my tastiest finds with you all...
  • i found dried beans and coconut milk were cheapest (by basically half) in Tesco
  • my hair is still growing, and whilst i can't actually tie it in a proper sidebraid yet, i'm so looking forward to being able to by Christmas!
  • because we're all trying to save money, we've been liftsharing too - which has the added benefit of spending more time with family and friends, which makes life so much better!
  • as well as discovering new recipes, i've re-discovered some old classics too - like homemade tortillas (with barley and buckwheat), swedish pea soup and barley bannocks.


  1. That recipe sounds great! Would it work with a courgette if a little water was added do you think? Glad the budget challenge is going well, I will share this link. I'm going to have to check out tescos for dried beans and nuts me thinks!

  2. That vegan tortilla looks delish I gotta try that x x

  3. oh my goodness, this torte looks absolutely incredible! adding it to my to-make list. thanks for the recipe!

  4. It is great to hear about your progress! Marrow must be a British thing - I have never heard of it until recently.. but I have heard of monster zucchinis! ;) The chickpea torte looks great!

    I am totally jealous of your homegrown squash. My home was not as productive.. we couldn't even get zucchini to grow (although we planted it in the darkest corner of the garden, oh well).

  5. You are doing great.

    Skill trading is good fun. I help a hairdresser's daughter with maths homework and she cuts the whole families hair in exchange. Have swapped other skills too. A friend in Yorkshire even runs a trade bank where people register their trade and get paid trade hours which they exchange for other peoples trade hours that way it's not necessarily a direct swap. I traded basic cooking classes for child entertainments a few years ago too. That worked perfectly as I was running out of ideas to keep the toddler out of trouble.

    We've found loads of wild fruit this year, glad you found blackberries. We're still finding apples on the trees on the common.

  6. Thanks for the marrow recipe - I got one in the organic box and have no idea what to do with it! Going to give your torte a try as I also have, ahem, a few bags of cheap garam flour!


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