A sad goodbye

It’s been a fun run but I think I’m finally having to sign off. I’ve been doing this for over a year now and I have had fun looking into cuisine around the world, for different dietary requirements and just unusual recipes. But now I’m having to split my time between my new job, job applications and just general life and the food blog has been harder and harder to keep up. When I first started this I felt so sure that this would pave the way for new opportunities but all jobs seem to require a driving licence and driving lessons consume money at an alarming rate. So in the pursuit of money so I can get a job I am bidding you my lovely readers. Adieu

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Vegetarian smokey chilli

I am not a big fan of spicy food and chilli’s, while easy, full of tasty tasty lentils and usually quite cheap, are one of the meals I enjoy less for this reason. So when I found a tasty smokey bean chilli I thought it would be a good thing to try out.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetable-recipes/smoky-veggie-chilli/

Ingredients

  • 2 onions
  • olive oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 heaped teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons quality cocoa powder (an optional addition for the adventurous, I didn’t use this)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon peanut butter (an optional addition for the adventurous, I didn’t use this)
  • 1-2 fresh red chillies
  • 3 large mixed-colour peppers
  • 2 sweet potatoes , (300g each)
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander , (30g)
  • 2 x 400 g tins of butter beans
  • 3 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
  • 8 small jacket potatoes (It can also be served with rice or pasta. I had it with rice)
  • 140 g Cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 4 little gem lettuces
  • 8 tablespoons natural yoghurt (Optonal)
  • 1 x can Red kidney beans (Optional. An addition of my own because who can have a chilli without red kidney beans?)

    Method

    1. Put a large casserole pan on a medium-low heat and a griddle pan beside it on a high heat.
    2. Work in batches, starting by charring the veg on the griddle to add a smoky flavour dimension.
    3. Peel the onions and cut into 1cm dice, char on the griddle for 3 minutes, then place in the casserole pan with 2 tablespoons of oil, the cumin seeds, paprika, cocoa and peanut butter, stirring occasionally.
    4. Slice the chilli(es) 1cm thick and griddle while you deseed and roughly chop the peppers and chop the sweet potatoes into rough 2cm chunks (leave the skin on for extra nutritional benefit, just give them a wash). Griddle it all, adding to the casserole pan as you go.
    5. Finely chop and add the coriander stalks.
    6. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
    7. Drain the beans in a sieve over the casserole pan so the juices go in, then tip the beans into the griddle pan in an even layer. Have faith and leave them without stirring until they start to char and burst, then add to the veg.
    8. Pour in the tinned tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Stir well, then pop the lid on ajar and leave for 1 hour, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
    9. Meanwhile, wash the potatoes, prick, then bake for 1 hour, or until crispy on the outside, fluffy in the middle. (Or if you are have rice or pasta prepare them)
    10. Just before serving, finely chop the coriander leaves and stir through the chilli, taste and season to perfection.
    11. I you are having it with jacket potatoes: Cut a cross into each spud, pinching the bottoms so they open up, then grate the cheese and divide it between them, stuffing it in well.
    12. Pick apart the gem lettuces, and serve each cheesy spud with a good portion of chilli, some gem leaves and a dollop of yoghurt.

    This was an interesting and tasty flavour. If a hot chilli is what you are looking for I don’t think this is quite your cup of tea but it is full of flavour none-the-less. Though it was hard to tell whether the smokey flavour was all from the smoked paprika or also from the pregrilled veggies. The texture was nice and varied and it even got a big thumbs up and a ‘can I have the recipe?’ from a vegetarian friend.

    Last updated: 13/5/2017

Vegetarian carbonara

So carbonara is usually bacon so I was wondering how one of my favourite dishes fares when you take the bacon out of it.
https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/roasted-cauliflower-hazelnut-carbonara

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower (about 700g), cut into small florets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • small bunch thyme, leaves picked
  • 100g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 350g penne
  • 100g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • small pack parsley, chopped

    Method

    1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
    2. Toss the cauliflower with the oil, thyme and seasoning, and spread out on a large baking tray.
    3. Roast for 15-20 mins until starting to soften and caramelise.
    4. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the cauliflower and cook for another 5 mins until the nuts are lightly toasted and the cauliflower cooked through.
    5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta following pack instructions.
    6. Drain the pasta, reserving the cooking water, then return to the pan.
    7. Take the baking tray out of the oven and add the cauliflower and hazelnuts to the pasta, then stir in the Parmesan, egg, cream, parsley and 1 tbsp of cooking water. The heat from the pasta should be enough to just cook the egg without scrambling it. If the sauce is too thick, add a splash more cooking water.
    8. Check the seasoning and serve.

       

      All in all it was a tasty little dish and the hazelnuts added something new to the mix. I still think I like my carbonara with bacon in personally but I wouldn’t turn this down in a hurry.

    Last updated: 7/4/2017

Pulses-Student chickpea stew

Pulses are wonderful things regardless of if you are vegetarian or not. They are low in fat,  high in fibre, high in protein and they release their carbohydrates slowly which is good for  controlling diabetes and keeps you fuller for longer. You’ll all of certainly eaten at least one type of pulse in you life, the haricot bean. For those who are still unsure where they have eaten a pulse before, haricot beans are the beans that are found in baked beans. I personally love cooking with pulses but they don’t seem to very common in  westernised diets so I thought I’d look into some easy every day common recipes that you can throw some pulses in. I’ve already put pulse into the mince and the Shepard’s pie recipe I’ve put up previously so lets try and do something completely different. A student stew which is simple on ingredients but big on flavour.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/helen-s-chickpea-leek-carrot-stew/

Ingredients

  • 1 small leek
  • 1 small carrot
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 x 210 g tin of chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

Method:

  1. the leek into 1cm rounds, and trim, peel and dice the carrot.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium pan on a medium heat, add the leek and cook for 5 minutes or until softened, then add the carrots along with 200ml water.
  3. Drain and add the chickpeas.
  4. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, then reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Leave to cool slightly, then stir through the yoghurt. You can Mash until fairly smooth, with some soft lumps, or leave chunky then serve.

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Enjoy-food/Eating-with-diabetes/Food-groups/Pulses-and-diabetes/

Last updated:19/3/2017

Vegan vrs Normal: Can vegans take the cheese out of the cheesecake?

So seen as I’ve been looking at a lot of deserts recently I thought I’d delve deeper down the rabbit hole and look at how vegans do cheese cake without cheese. I was expecting vegan cheese or tofu or something but the recipes seemed predominantly nuts and syrup. God knows how this will work but I’m here to try it so you don’t have to pay for all the ingredients to find out it doesn’t work. Be warned that these do tend to need a blender though =)

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake [Vegan]

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/delicious-lemon-raspberry-cheesecake/ <img src=”http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=17228182&cv=2.0&cj=1″ />

Ingredients

Base

  • 200g almonds
  • 140 g medjool dates pipped (I reccommend chopping them up before you put them in or preblending them abit)
  •  100g coconut shredded
  • Pinch  salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)

Delicious lemon raspberry filling

  •  300g cashews
  •  160ml agave, maple syrup, coconut nectar or date paste
  •  200g coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 2 lemons and juice of 2-4 lemons (The original recipe seemed to say the equivalent of the juice of 4 lemons but oh my god is it lemony. So I recommend less for those who are like me and don’t want a strong lemony flavour)
  • 1 punnet raspberries 350g (fresh or frozen)
  • Pinch Celtic sea salt

Garnish (optional)

  • fresh raspberries
  • sprinkling of almond and date base

Preparation

Base

  1. Blend the nuts and salt in food processor until finely chopped
  2. Add dates, coconut oil and shredded coconut blend well
  3. Scrape ingredients from bowl and press firmly into cake tin
  4. Press mixture firmly into a lined cake tin and place in freezer/fridge
  5. You can also set aside a little extra base for garnishing of cake

Delicious lemon raspberry filling

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor blend until smooth and creamy (I blended the nuts a bit seperately first because they were a bit bulky)
  2. Option: You can either blend the raspberries in for a more even flavour or you can fold the raspberries through mixture to get chunks of raspberry and a nice swirling effect.
  3. Pour filling onto crust and place in freezer/fridge for 2 hours, or until the cheesecake is firm to the touch
  4. If frozen allow cake to thaw on bench for 30 minutes and cut into 8-10 slices before serving.

Why not try: swapping out the raspberries for a different fruit you like.

Last updated:19/02/2017

Vegan Jaffa cakes

This is a vegan spin on a common favourite the Jaffa cake. A friend of mine use to love Jaffa cakes but became vegan last year so I can’t get her jaffa cakes for christmas because they are only vegetarian. So rather than be detered I have gone out of my way to find a vegan alternative to my friends old favourite. This version is made with a luscious chocolate ganache.

JAFFA CAKE (VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE)

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/recipe-jaffa-cake/

SERVES: 8

COOK TIME: 55

INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 200g Gluten and Wheat-Free Self-Raising Flour
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 100ml unsweetened soy milk
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • juice of 1/2 orange

Chocolate ganache

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 3-4 tbsp unsweetened soy milk

PREPARATION

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC. Line a 7″ round cake tin with baking parchment and/or grease it.
  2. Place the dry ingredients in one bowl and combine the wet ingredients in another. Simply fold the wet ingredients into the dry, bit by bit. Pour the batter into the lined tin and bake for 32 to 35 minutes. Keep checking the cake as it bakes: if the top is looking golden, it’s probably ready. Insert a knife to make sure: if it comes out of the cake clean, the cake is baked.
  3. Cool on a wire rack.
  4. In a small pot, gently heat the soy milk. Break the chocolate into small pieces and add to the milk when it starts to bubble (after about 3 minutes). Keep the pan on medium heat, swirling the chocolate around every few seconds with a wooden spoon. Gradually the chocolate will melt and become silky.
  5. Take off the heat and set aside for a few minutes. Spread over the cake with the back of your spoon. Cool at room temperature (not in the fridge: that will crack the chocolate ganache).

My vegan friend really enjoyed this recipe. It is a very tasty desert but the base is rather dense and not very sponge like due to banana and lack of a raising agent.

Why not try: Adding baking powder to the mix. 1tsp should do the trick. i wanted to try this myself but haven’t got round to trying it out. If I get the chance to test it I’ll be sure to write up how it went.

Last updated: 01/02/2017

What are blondies

 

So what is a blondie. While it is a hair colour that is not the kind of blondie I am refering to. Blondies are suppose to be brownies without the chocolate. I’ve seen quite a few recipes that are weighed in grams boasting white chocolate blondies… but that still contains chocolate. I like my blondies chocolate free with chocolate chips (shh…) so I dug out a recipe measured out in cups and did my best to translate it into something I could weight out on the scales.

http://www.marthastewart.com/1154136/toffee-blondies

INGREDIENTS

  • 115g  unsalted butter, melted
  • 230g  light-brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 350g plain flour
  • 230g toffee bits (toffee popettes cut in quarters)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180oC. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with grease-proof paper, with a bit of an overhang on two sides. Grease the paper (this should stop the paper from sticking to the cake) and set aside.

  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth.

  3. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and salt.

  4. With mixer on low speed, add flour, and beat until combined.

  5. Stir in toffee bits by hand.

  6. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

  7. Remove from oven; cool completely in pan.

  8. Grasping the grease-proof paper, lift cake from pan. Peel off paper.

  9. cut it up and Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

Why not try: changing the toffee bits for other tasty additions like chocolate chips or dates.

Last updated: 11/01/2017

The importance of Carbohydrates

So after all that munching over Christmas and new year I thought I’d look into some of the styles of diet people go on to. While looking at different types of diet I found this one is coming more popular. Carb counting or in extreme case cutting out carbs entirely.

Veggie noodles with curried coconut sauce

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/veggie-noodles-with-curried-coconut-sauce/

Serves 2
Cooks In 15 minutes plus 30 minutes marinating (It says on the site but if you haven’t peeled the veg into noodles before hand then it’ll take considerably longer)
Ingredients:
  • 2 green courgettes
  • 2 yellow courgettes
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 can of sweetcorn
  • 200 g fresh/canned peas or mangetout
  • 1 large handful of mixed herbs, such as coriander, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme

Curried Coconut Sauce

  • 1 small banana shallot
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 3cm piece of turmeric , or 2 tesapoons ground turmeric
  • 1 lime , plus extra to serve
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 300 ml coconut water
  • 100 g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon medium-hot curry powder

Method

  1. First make the sauce. Peel and roughly chop the shallot, garlic and ginger, roughly chop the chilli. Juice the turmeric, if using fresh. Zest and juice the lime.
  2. Blitz all the sauce ingredients in a food processor until combined, then season to taste – the sauce should be smooth and creamy.
  3. Using a julienne peeler or spiraliser, cut the courgettes and carrot into long noodles. Place in a bowl with the rest of the vegetables, slicing the mangetout diagonally (if using).
  4. Pour over the sauce and mix well. Pick, finely chop and sprinkle over the herbs and reserved coconut (if using).
  5. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes, until the ‘noodles’ have softened slightly, then serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Now, while I don’t do it myself, leaving the carbohydrates of meals is an increasingly common diet. Everyone knows that carbohydrate give energy but with people being more health and weight conscious they get worried about just where these carbohydrates go if we don’t use the energy that they produce. Our body breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars/monosaccharides and any of the sugars/monosaccharides that aren’t used as energy are then initially stored as glycogen in the liver or muscles. The liver can store approximately 100g of glycogen which is used to maintain basal blood glucose levels between meals, whilst the muscles typically store 400-500g often used during movement. Once these reserves are saturated, excess glucose is converted to fat for longer term storage. Our bodies need energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins for normal functioning. Consuming more energy than we need from any of these sources results in storage of excess energy as body fat.

Nutrient % contribution to total energy intake
Carbohydrate 45-65
Fat 20-35
Protein 15-25

While the amount of dietary carbohydrate required to provide optimal health is unknown, a range of 45-65% of total energy intake was set as a likely reflection because diets high in either fat or protein can have adverse effects.  The upper limit being set to accommodate the essential requirements of fat and protein.

Low-carbohydrate diets, if followed over a consistent period of time, present a number of health concerns. Such a diet is likely to be low in fibre which may lead to digestive issues including constipation. The lack of carbohydrate in the diet means the body doesn’t have a ready supply of glucose, the brain’s primary source of fuel – this may lead to dizziness and headaches as well poor concentration. Other side effects include halitosis, insomnia and nausea. In addition to this the likely increase in the proportion of protein in the diet places an additional load on the kidneys and may lead to problems with bone-health. While the exclusion of all carbohydrates often means less refined sugar in the diet which can only be a positive benefit to health the lower limit of 45% is based on an increased risk of obesity with diets low in carbohydrate and high in protein or fat.

Sources: http://www.srasanz.org/sras/basics-sugar/digestion-absorption-and-transport-carbohydrates/

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/spotlight-low-carbohydrate-diets

Last updated:04/01/2017

German vrs English spiced cookies

So another couple of winter favourites and my question is what the difference between these two spiced cookies. So todays post I have made both and asked people what they think the difference is.

Lebkuchen:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1941/lebkuchen

PREP: 15 MINS
COOK: 15 MINS
MAKES: 30

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 85g ground almond
  • 2 tsp ground ginger Ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda Bicarbonate of soda
  • 200ml clear honey
  • 1 lemon, finely grated zest Lemon
  • 85g butter Butter
  • pinch each ground cloves, grated nutmeg and black pepper
  • 1 tsp baking powder Baking powder

For the icing

  • 100g icing sugar
  • water

Method

  1. Tip the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Heat the honey and butter in a pan over a low heat until the butter melts, then pour into the flour mixture along with the lemon zest. Mix well until the dough is combined and fairly solid. Cover and leave to cool.
  2. Heat oven to 180C/fan160C/gas 4. Using your hands, roll dough into about 30 balls, each 3cm wide, then flatten each one slightly into a disk. Divide the biscuits between two baking trays lined with baking parchment, leaving room for them to expand. Bake for 15 mins, then cool on a wire rack.
  3. To ice the biscuits, Slowly mix water into the icing sugar until  a smooth, runny icing is formed. Dip the top of each biscuit in the icing and spread with the back of a knife. Leave to dry out in a warm

Gingerbread:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/uncategorised-recipes/gingerbread-people/

  • Ingredients

    • 300 g plain flour
    • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 125 g unsalted butter
    • 100 g soft light brown sugar
    • 3 tablespoons golden syrup

Last updated on: 25/12/2016

Finnish Spice cake

So with Christmas coming up I thought Id look at winter warmers as per usual from different place in the world. When I think of winter I think of root vegetable, chillies, and pungent spices. So this Finnish cake that is flavoured with cinnamon and ginger seems like the perfect thing to be added to the Christmas bake list.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 225 grams of soft unsalted butter (melted)
  • 225 grams of raw caster sugar
  • 250ml of full fat sour cream
  • 3/4 of a teaspoon of bi-carbonate of soda
  • 225 grams of flour
  • Two teaspoons each of ground ginger, cardamom and mixed spice
Ingredients
  1.  pre-heat the oven to 200C
  2. Cream sugar and butter together
  3. Mix all the other dry ingredients
  4. fold eggs and sour cream in tthe creamed mixture of butter and eggs
  5. mix the two lots of ingredients together
  6. bake till risen and a soft brown, normaly 45min-1hr.

I’m not a fan of cinnamon and ginger but it went down a treat with my little sisters housemates. The recipe was suggested and provided by Alexander.

Last updated: 19/02/2017