Monday, October 6, 2008

Flora London Marathon 2009 or go for Boston? Not on a fig, nasturtium and goats cheese salad

I am starting to get itchy feet again and I do think it is time to start thinking about my next marathon. I have given myself a few weeks off to give the old legs a well-earned rest and I am also incredibly busy getting my book ready for the December deadline, so haven't had much spare time to do any long runs.

Today I received my Good For Age acceptance form for the London Marathon in April 2009, so I have to decide between running London in April, running Boston (also in April) or running Stockholm in May 2009. I want to run with my husband and a group of friends in Stockholm, but in my heart of hearts I want to do Boston and I feel I ought to do it because I have qualified for it. I think it is really the creme de la creme of the top 5 world marathons - London, New York, Berlin, Boston and Chicago. Boston is the only marathon you have to be fast enough to qualify for. I have done London, New York and Berlin and now I have qualified for Boston maybe it would be churlish not to run it. Then I would just have Chicago to go....

I made a really special salad yesterday for lunch. Not great for endurance, but delicious, healthy and full of flavour, vitamins and protein all the same. Figs are all over the place at the moment - they are even selling them 2 for the price of 1 in Waitrose - and I am such a useless gardener my garden is overrun with nasturtiums. I think they are fantastic in a salad. They look pretty and they have a lovely strong, peppery flavour. Combined with a light cheese souffle, the sweetness of the figs and the honey dressing, this little salad works beautifully and looks gorgeous:

Salad of figs, parma ham, rocket and nasturtium flowers with a honey balsamic dressing

Serves 4

Four large handfuls of rocket leaves
4 ripe figs
6-8 nasturtium leaves
4 slices of parma ham
2 tbsp olive oil
1 dessertspoon white balsamic vinegar
1 dessertspoon honey
salt and pepper

Arrange everything on 4 plates and pour over the dressing. Eat immediately.

Twice baked goats cheese souffle - Serves 4

225ml milk
1 bayleaf
knob of butter (25g)
tbsp self-raising flour (25g)
100g soft goats cheese
2 eggs separated
lots of freshly ground black pepper
  1. Do points 1 to 8 in advance and then point 9 just before you want to eat. Heat the milk in a pan with the bayleaf, a little grated nutmeg and plenty of black pepper and bring it slowly to a simmer. Strain and leave to cool slightly.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan and make a roux with the flour. Cook it very gently until it becomes a glossy paste and then gradually add the milk, stirring all the time. Cook gently for a couple of minutes until the sauce is thick and smooth.
  3. Beat together the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks.
  4. Beat the egg yolks into the sauce mixture and then fold in the goats cheese. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the mixture very gently to keep in the air and then divide the airy mixture into 4 - 8 really well buttered ramekins (depending on their size).
  6. Pop them into the oven on a baking tray and then pour about a cm of water into the bottom of the tray.
  7. Cook for about 15 minutes at 180 C.
  8. Take them out of the oven and leave to cool.
  9. When you are ready to cook the souffles, take them out of the ramekins, place them onto a greased baking sheet, sprinkle them with extra cheese if you want, and bake them in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes, until they are puffy and crispy on the top. Serve them immediately with the above salad.

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