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paul collins aug 2
So here we are, at the end of the summer holidays, on another absolutely stonking day. It’s been an unbelievably gorgeous August hasn’t it?

This is the weekend to get friends round, crack open a good bottle of wine, get into the garden and cook something really relaxed but special. No need to flick through your cookbooks though,  Ex-Dalesford farm head chef Paul Collins has created a special menu for Muddy readers to take advantage of the weather. Enjoy the last weekend of summer in style. x


I often get asked what to do with gluts of veggies form the garden at this time of year so I have created a few recipes / dishes exclusively for Muddy readers to show how to best use these up.

The first dish, Toasted Cous Cous and Baby Courgette Tempura,  is simplicity itself. Take whatever seasonal vegetables are in the garden and prepare a real showstopper as a first course on a dining table or as part of an al fresco feast.

The second dish is a baked dish of courgettes and tomatoes baled under a handful of garlic breadcrumbs. Again, this dish could sit on its own or be part of that feast or even at a BBQ. Courgettes and tomatoes are at their best right now and are perfect partners.

I hope you enjoy the recipes – let me know what you think (good and bad!) in the comment box and I’ll try to answer any questions as soon as possible.


Toasted Cous Cous and Baby Courgette Tempura

paul collins cous cous salad

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

160 g cous cous
10 g linseeds
2 tbsp. of flax oil / pumpkin oil
100 g cherry tomatoes
½ red onion
1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in ½
2 baby courgettes with flowers
Mixed herbs, thyme, tarragon, chives ( keep some back for adding to the cooked cous cous)

How to make it:

1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, top with a little slice of garlic and some thyme, drizzle over a little olive oil and place them in the oven on 100c for 1 hour.

2. Place a non-stick frying pan in the stove and add the cous cous and the linseeds to the dry pan. Season with salt and pepper, add the sliced clove of Garlic and ¾ of the chopped herbs. Toast them off until lightly browned off all over and then remove from the heat and place in a heat proof bowl. Add the Flax oil and you’re now ready to add the boiling water.

3. Add 150 ml of boiling water and cover immediately with cling film ensuring it is air tight.

4. After 5-10 minutes the cous cous will be cooked, so take off the cling film allow to go cold. Mix in the remaining fresh herbs, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.

5. Slice the courgette very very thinly length ways and place into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and add a small spoon of Flax Oil.

6. Once you have chosen the dish you are going to serve it on, spread the Cous Cous over the dish and add the very finely sliced red onion. A lovely gnarled chopping board (as I’ve used here) or a piece of bark looks particularly good.

7. Now add the finely sliced courgettes and the slow cooked tomatoes.

8. Once this is done you can cook the tempura of the flowers off of the courgettes – these will take 1 minute in a pan of oil. Once cooked remove with a slotted spoon onto a dish with a piece of kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil, season with salt and add to the rest of the dish.

 For the Tempura Batter:

30 g Flour
20 g Corn flour
10 g Baking Powder

1. Mix all of these together and keep in a sealed jar until required.

2. Just add water to make a paste and use straight away, dipping whatever you want (veggies or fish) in the mixture to make the tempura. Drop the pieces into hot oil one at a time, ensuring they don’t touch. They will immediately sink to the bottom so use a long handled utensil to keep them moving to allow them to cook evenly on all sides. A couple of minutes should do it. Then remove from the oil and place on a few layers of paper towels to allow the remaining oil to drain.

3. Give them a light sprinkling of salt to taste.

4. Serve the dish immediately with a big bowl of fresh salad from the Garden


Courgette stuffed with tomatoes

paul collings aug 3

Both these vegetables are incredibly versatile. With courgettes, use them as crudites as soon as the first flowers appear. Let them grow a little and take a second batch for grilling or use in a ratatouille. Then when they get really big, they make the perfect creamy soup.

With tomatoes, the challenge is to get them perfectly ripe off the vine for a salad. But of course, all the “ugly” bits can get juiced, souped or confitted in the oven for 1 hour and then kept in olive oil and used in salads.


4 courgettes
4 tomatoes
2 shallots
4-tbspn olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 tspn thyme leaves

 How to make it:

1. Cut the courgette in half lengthways, then cut each ½ across the middle so you end up with 4 quarters per courgette.

2. Turn each piece flesh side up in your hand and remove some of the white flesh with the tip of a teaspoon.

3. Blanch these in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Place into ice cold water. Allow to go cold then drain upside down on kitchen paper.

4. Keep the water to blanch the tomatoes in. To blanch the tomatoes, criss cross the base of the tomato and remove the “eye”, then blanch in the boiling water for 10 seconds. Then also refresh in the ice-cold water.

5. Allow to go cold and remove and drain. Cut in to quarters and remove the seeds, cut the flesh into a small dice, and reserve until required.

6. Cook the chopped shallots in the olive oil until they are softened but without colour.

7. Add the chopped garlic and thyme leaves, then add the chopped tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then put to one side off the heat.

8. Now fill each of the Courgette quarters with the tomato mixture and cover with the breadcrumbs.

9. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes at 180 0 c

10 Serve with tapenade and or aioli. And if you happen to have a few pea shoots to hand use those as well.

paul collins aug 2


Slow roasted tomatoes

Oven Roasted Tomatoes - Food Potraiture

Ingredients: (serves 4)

Olive oil
Thyme / rosemary / oregano / marjoram (all or a combination of your favourites)
Salt and pepper

How to make it:

1. Use as many tomatoes as you need to slow roast. Cut in half and place on a tray ready for the oven.

2. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Pick the herbs you are using and scatter liberally over the tomatoes.

4. Slice the garlic very very thinly and place one piece of garlic on each tomato (this is optional if you don’t like garlic.)

5. Pour with olive oil and place in the oven.

paul collins aug 4

6. Cook at 100c for 1 hour for cherry tomatoes, longer for larger tomatoes.

This is delicious served with braised lentils, or used in a quiche, with pasta, or as part of antipasti. You can also put it in a jar and cover with olive oil – it will keep in the fridge for up to 10 days.

paul collins aug 5


Paul Collins is a bespoke private chef living in Oxfordshire. Tel: 07774866902/01844 279461. 
Photos courtesy of Tory McTernan







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