Sunday, 31 July 2011

Black Bean and Chocolate Chilli

I know there are lots of fruit and vegetables to choose from right now, yet I'm still making hearty grub with store cupboard ingredients, but its not all jumping beans, there are some peppers in this.

This Black Bean Chilli was gorgeous, the black beans just melted in your mouth and the peppers still had some bite.  I especially liked the red sauce that was surprisingly neither sweet or spicy, then it all changed - the chocolate went in altering the aroma, taste and look of the sauce completely.  It became somewhat meaty, a tad bitter and looked like thick glossy gravy. Perhaps it is meant to be this way, reminisce of Mexican mole sauce, or maybe the chocolate I used which contained cocoa nibs was too strong for the dish, regardless I've decided that I won't be making this particular recipe in a hurry, well at least not with the chocolate as I found its addition too rich for my liking.  We mellowed the rich flavour by topping it with some grated cheddar cheese and serving it with some plain boiled rice.
This does not mean that the 'Black Beans and Chocolate Chilli' won't be to your taste, you may find that you like its depth of flavour and richness. If not, you can also make this without the chocolate if you wish, I know that is what I would do.  I am sharing this recipe with Seasonal Sunday.
Black Bean and Chocolate Chilli
Serves 4 - 6 as an accompaniment
270g black turtle beans, soaked overnight. 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 small red chillies, sliced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 x 400g can of tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
40g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Lemon juice to taste
Optional: Spring onions, chopped for garnish
In a wide pan, cook beans in water until tender.  Drain and set aside.
In a saucepan, warm the oil on medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions become soft.  Add the celery and chilli, then cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat and stir in the cumin, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, corainder, pepper and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook until the peppers begin to soften.  Stir occasionally to keep the spices from burning.  Then add in the tomatoes and soy sauce cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in the black beans and cook for 10minutes.  stir in the chocolate.  When it has melted, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and add lemon juice to taste.  Garnish with chopped spring onions and serve.  Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Barras Market and Glasgow Green

Last week when we went into Glasgow city centre, it was hosting its annual Merchant City Festival, today  it was promoting the Glasgow Show at the Glasgow Green, the oldest of the city's parks.

We had no plans to go to the show, as we are watching our pounds and pennies, so it was just a wander to The Barras.
The Barras is a major street and indoor weekend market in the East End. The term 'barra' is Glaswegian dialect for 'barrow', relating to the market's early years, where traders sold their wares from handcarts.
The painting above displayed at the People Palace is a pretty good depiction of the hustle and bustle of the market, full of character and 'characters', some selling bootleg cigarettes and tobacco in a very distinct Glaswegian accent.
This piece of artwork was inside on of the buildings.
This photo was also taken last year at the People Palace and depicts the distinctive animated neon sign found on the front of the Barrowland building - not during the day though.
The Barrowlands originally known as The Barrowland Ballroom was a major dance hall, nowadays thought it is used primarily as a concert venue. I've seen a handful of bands there. If your an Amy Macdonald fan like me, on her album This is the life has a song where she mentions the Barrowlands. Heres a link to the song if you'd not heard it.
After mooching around the Barras, we walked past the Trongate and the area known as The Salt Market only to stumble across the Glasgow Show Parade on their way to the Glasgow Green to formally open the Show.
By no means is it anywhere near Notting Hill Festival, but it does its best with pipe bands, clowns and some vintage transport.
The parade was led by the Lord Provost.
followed by some Space Troopers!
As the sun was shining, we took a little wander towards the People's Palace.  But we chose not to go in, as we had been there not that long ago - see here.

I don't remember seeing this at the foot of the entrance though - The People's Palace belangs to the Glesga' Folk.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Borage and Bees

One of the first edible flowers we grew in the garden plot was borage, little did we know that it would self seed and come up blooming blue every year.  And without failure, here they are again growing amongst the potatoes.
The bees love it though, and I now and again get to pretty up a salad plate with the edible flowers and the baby leaves, which taste like cucumber.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Plum Tomato and Rosemary Risotto

I used to make this herb-scented cherry tomato risotto quite a lot.  First, it was such as easy dish, pretty much hands-free and secondly, unlike traditional risotto dishes that require your full attention and time slowly stirring the rice and ladling in the stock, with this one you simply add all the ingredients to a large roasting dish and bake it in the oven.

The reasons I haven't made it recently is the lack of homegrown tomatoes, a couple of years ago tomatoes were falling at our feet - literally.  The other reason, I have plenty of time on my hands to make more of an effort with out meals, so quick supper recipes have been put on the back burner for now.  However, I had a request from my nephew if I could make some risotto and with us entertaining him of sorts, I was happy to make this hands-free tomato risotto.  Another part of this recipe that I really like is the garlic, it is baked in the oven in its skin.  The garlic cloves become soft, sweet and almost caramel like - all you have to do is squeeze it from its skin. Also if your not that keen on rosemary, you can replace it with either fennel herb or thyme.
I normally make this risotto with cherry tomatoes, but today decided on using baby plum tomatoes and now having tried them, I have to say my preference is definitely for the cherry variety.  The plum tomato skins failed to burst upon cooking in the rice and when you came to cut into one with your knife, the hot tomatoey juices burst out - a real worry if you were feeding small ones. In spite of this, it was still good to eat - especially as I didn't have to do any ladling and stirring. 

I am sharing this post with Simple Lives Thursday#54 hosted by gnowfglins; and Full Plate Thurasday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage; and finally Girlichef who is hosting Friday Potluck.
Oven-baked Plum Tomato and Rosemary Risotto
Serves 4 (or 3 greedy people)
250g baby plum or cherry tomatoes
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 - 6 garlic cloves, with skin
300g risotto rice such as Arborio or Carnaroli
800ml vegetable stock
2 sprigs of rosemary or substitute with thyme or fennel herb
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to gas mark 6. Place the cherry tomatoes and garlic in a large baking dish, scatter over the red onion. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 10 minutes. Add the rice, stock, herb and seasoning and return to the oven for 30 - 35 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has almost been absorbed. Whatever you do, do not be tempted to stir the rice at any point.  Serve at the table immediately.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Scottish Macaroni Cheese Pies

I made these little macaroni cheese pies a little while ago. I wanted to create a homely version of those you find at this High Street low cost bakery in the U.K, especially in Scotland.

Its not that far removed from the Caribbean 'Mac'n'Cheese, except in Scotland, the macaroni pie is made from hot water crust pastry, that is filled with macaroni cheese and then baked in the oven. I'm not that keen on them, but I have to admit that whenever the hunger pangs strike and I am near this bakery, I would indulge in them for two reasons. They are cheap and cheerful - value for money, and secondly, this was the best of a bad batch in the way of vegetarian options  The other being a greasy cheese and onion pastry that lacked onions; or a cold congealed pizza slice.

Anyway, a couple of months ago, I thought I'd have a go at making my own version of the Scottish Macaroni Pie.  Although I was happy with my pies.  The filling was creamy and the cheesy topping golden crisp, they were far from perfect.
The hot water crust pastry still needs a bit of tweaking, hence the reason I had not posted this earlier.  But for those of you who can't wait for it here are two pastry recipes.  Follow this link for hot water crust pastry and the other is below, but be warned this recipe still needs improving.

Scottish Macaroni Cheese Pies
For the macaroni pie pastry crust
Makes about 12
200g plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
140g butter, chopped into cubes
1 egg yolk
60ml cold water
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add in the cubed butter and rub in with flour until the mixture begins to resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Then gently add in the egg yolk and enough water to make a dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Now make the macaroni cheese filling
Macaroni Cheese
Fills about 12 individual pastry cases
75g butter
1 medium onion,  peeled and sliced
75g plain flour
800g milk
200g cheddar cheese, grated, plus extra for topping
salt and ground pepper
250g macaroni pasta
Melt butter in a saucepan, add the chopped onions, cook gently until soft.
Stir in the flour and cook for a minute, then gradually add the milk, whisking all the time and then whisk in about three-quarters of the cheese and allow to melt into the sauce. Season to taste.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions with a teaspoon of salt until soft.
Drain and then stir into cheese sauce.  Set aside while you roll out the pastry.
Lightly grease a 12 muffin pan.  Then roll out pastry dough thinly on floured surface. Then using a cookie cutter measuring about 3½ - 4  inch rounds and cut out 12 rounds. Gently press these pastry cases into the greased muffin pan.
Then spoon the cooled macaroni filling into the pastry cases and sprinkle them with the remaining cheese.
Bake in oven Gas mark 6 for 20 - 25 minutes until golden. Allow to cool before removing from the tin and serving.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Chocolate Cola Cake

I've had these cola bottle sweets (dare I admit it) for almost a year.  I picked it up when I was in Nairn last year.  Every time my nephew has come up, he has asked if he could eat them.  I've told him no, these were a lot most pricey than those fizzy cola bottles in the High Street.  You see these do not contain animal gelatin making them suitable for vegetarians and vegans. 

He asked again could he eat them and why not they've been sitting there for a year?!  He was right.  I reminded myself why I had bought them in the first place.  Despite having fond memories of eating the fizzy cola bottles as a child, these were not purchased to remind me of the good old days. These were purchased to decorate a Chocolate Cola Muffins when the opportunity presented itself.   He then asked if I would make him the 'Chocolate Cola Cake' and I was instantly reminded of the last time I made it for him.  The cake batter all leaked out because the cake tin was warped.  I suddenly felt all guilty and agreed to make him another Chocolate Cola Cake, as well as promptly use the cola bottles that were surprisingly still in date.
The cake does not disappoint, it is sweet and moist and the cola is very subtle.  I especially liked the icy chocolate sauce that sets on the top.  Something about this cake reminded me of those you find at school fairs or charity fundraising events - it was homely - nothing fancy about it at all, well not my version anyway.  And as children do (and some adults) whenever either one of us walked past the cake, one of the cola bottles would disappear - naughty I know!
This particular cake comes from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess.  I deliberately haven't posted the recipe on my blog as you can find the original, plus variations of it on blogosphere.  I am linking this recipe to Tasty Tuesday Party hosted by Nap Time Creations; and Tasty Tuesdays hosted by Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Baked BBQ Black-Eyed Peas and Rice

My memories of home BBQ's are probably similar to yours - where the menfolk in the house (in my case my father) took over the cooking.  As my father set alight the garden grill, the dramatics commenced.  The rising flames were marvelled and welcomed by our childish woos and ahhs, all of us waiting patiently for the first bite. 

My nephew asked a question a couple of months ago, when he learned that we could be moving closer to family in Wales.  I can't remember his exact words, but it was something along the lines of 'When Nana (Grand Pa) has a family BBQ what are we going to make you and D?'.  I told him it wouldn't be too much of a problem.  D's a demi-vegetarian by association so will eat fish and seafood now and again; and me -I may seem difficult to cater for but I actually think I am not.   I told him not to worry his little head, as I am sure I will be making a veggie contribution towards the family BBQs in the future - what it will be, well that is something we will both have to wait and see.

But back to present day Scotland, where the sun is still blazing - there is no meaty or veggie BBQ taking place in my little garden, however there are some Baked BBQ Black-Eyed Peas and Rice on the table.  The flavour of these beans sure are smoky, with a sweetness from the agave syrup.  The black-eyed peas are so soft that they just melt in your mouth like butter.  The tempeh gives this dish extra texture in the form of bite. I just wish I had served it with some greens on the side.
This recipe comes from Vegan Soul Kitchen and is described by the author Bryant Terry as a remix of Hoppin' John, a dish that is eaten throughout the South in America.  Hoppin' John is especially eaten on New Year's Day when it is thought to bring the eater good luck.

The recipe does not stray that far from the original. But I did have to make a few changes.  I replaced the kombu with bay leaf, omit the lime juice - only because I didn't have any citrus fruit in the flat.  Chipotle in adobo sauce is quite expensive in the U.K, so I just re-hydrated some dried chipotle peppers in hot water and added them to a blender with the tinned tomatoes and other ingredients.  I also increased the brown rice ratio.
This post is linked to Just Another Meatless Monday #70 hosted by What's for Dinner Mom?; Meatless (Vegan) Mondays hosted by Veggie Converter. 
Baked BBQ Black-Eyed Peas and Rice
Serves 4 - 6
280g dried black eyed peas, sorted, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
2 bay leaves
100ml plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)
120ml tamari or soy sauce
200g tinned tomatoes
2 medium or 1 large dried chipotle chile, re-hydrated
60ml agave nectar; maple syrup or other sweetener
1 generous teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme
250g - 280g tempeh, diced
In a large pot, add the soaked and drained black-eyed peas, bay leaves and cover them with enough water.  Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for 50 minutes or until tender.  Drain the beans, reserving the cooking water.
While the beans are cooking, combine 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, the onions, garlic and pepper in a wide pan over medium heat. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5
In a blender, combine the vinegar, lime, tamari, tomato, chipotle chile, agave, cumin, cayenne, thyme, and 250ml of the reserved bean water and the remaining olive oil. Puree until smooth. Combine the cooked beans with the sauteed vegetables, BBQ sauce and tempeh pieces, then stir well. Transfer mixture to an ovenproof casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
While the beans are baking, make the rice.
Brown Rice
200g long grain brown rice, rinsed
400ml water
In a medium pan, combine the rice and the water.  Bing to the boil.  Then reduce the heat an simmer for 40 minutes, until tender.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
In the last 30 minutes of the beans baking, stir in cooked rice and return to the oven.  Serve at room temperature.  Adapted very slightly from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Orzo with Broccoli and Olives

Amazing stuff, not a cloud in the skies - today it really does feel like Summer in Scotland.
Some people throw away the broccoli stalk, but I really like the lime coloured stalks.  I prefer them much more than the broccoli  bushy green head, so always include them in my cooking for extra crunch.  Although I used green olives in this orzo pasta salad, I think black olives would work well too.  This makes for a colourful and light lunch - perfect to eat out in the garden, under the perfect blue skies.

I am submitting this to I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights #224. PPN was founded by Ruth Daniels of Once Upon a Feast and each Friday night a different host posts a roundup of pasta dishes submitted by bloggers from around the world. This week PPN is being hosted by Anu of Truly Personified.
Serves 4
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 - 3 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large head of broccoli
160ml vegetable stock
250g orzo
1 large tomato, chopped
20 olives, green or black, pitted and sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Separate the florets from the broccoli and chop into bite size. Remove the hard skin from the stalks and then chop down into bite size pieces.
In a wide pan, heat 2 tablespoons the oil over medium heat and add the shallots and garlic.  Then add in all of the broccoli.  Cook the mixture for a couple of minutes, before adding in the vegetable stock.  Let the vegetables simmer until the broccoli softens slightly and most of the water has evaporated.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  Add the orzo, and boil the pasta stirring occasionally, until it is just tender.  Drain it, and keep it warm.
Add the tomatoes, olives, thyme and the remaining olive oil to the bowl of the broccoli.  Add the orzo and combine well.  Stir in the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste and extra drizzling of oil if necessary.  Spoon the mixture onto plate and serve.  Adapted from Vegan Planet.

Merchant City Festival and Panopticon Musical Hall

Yesterday morning we visited Glasgow where the city was hosting its annual Merchant City Festival as well as a Continental Market.  The MCF is a celebration of Scotland's theatre, music, dance, comedy, visual arts, Literature, film and fashion in Glasgow's trading and cultural quarter. 

Here are a handful of snaps that we took.
This vivid pink creature was part of The Invasion Project by the Ljud group which has travelled from Slovenia to perform at the event. In relation to street theatre, I think they may have stolen the show.
This Police Telephone Box has nothing to do with the festival.  Its a permanent feature in the streets of Glasgow.  Some of you may be familiar with the one called the Tardis from the Dr Who series.  Sometimes you'll find it wrapped in a knitted scarf where its been yarn bombed, but not today.
After wandering round and round the Merchant City area we wandered towards the Trongate on Argyle Street and noted this man dressed like Gary Oldman from the 1992 version of Dracula. He was standing at the entrance of a long dark lane that once used to be the path to the Glasgow Women Library, but has since relocated.
Today the doors to the conservation building known as the Britannia Panoptican Music Hall were open and this man was encouraging people walking by to visit.  This marvellous building  is reputed to be the oldest surviving music hall in the U.K.  I have often visited the Panoptican Shop on the High Street, but never the theatre itself so was quite excited. 
I have to admit, I really liked it; and dare I say it?!  I personally enjoyed it more than the MCF.
Not only is it a fascinating building, it is steeped in rich history.  Sadly the Panopticon Music Hall is not open to the public on a daily basis.  It was open today in conjunction with the MCF festival, however if you wish to visit it check out its website as its supporters do hold various events there.  I had intentions of going  back in the evening to watch Tod Brownings 'Freaks' at the auditorium, but got distracted with other things at home.
Stan Laurel, one half of the Laurel and Hardy Show made his debut at the Panopticon in 1906.

The building was also hosting a Vintage Fair. 
I didn't buy anything, but my nephew came out with a flower brooch for my mother, his grandmother.