Monday, 29 June 2015

Big Juicy Strawberries for Strawberry Slices

I seem to be sharing my strawberries with not just the usual garden birds, but also a stunning Jay bird in the garden.  The number of strawberries I've picked that have a sharp razor beak mark in them, made me smile.  I am not resenting the birds in my garden at all - there are plenty of strawberries for them and for me (its the slugs I resent). 
As well as enjoying them fresh, I've made loads of recipes with them.  However the one I am about to share had been a bit of a fail.  These strawberry slices tasted good, but were rather floppy, lacking body.  Perhaps some almonds scattered over the top or a jam layer beneath the strawberries would have made them more substantial.  If your (still) interested in trying them for yourself or even just curious to see the recipe, then follow this link for the recipe, its adapted from my Rhubarb Streusel Crumblee slices.

I am sharing these fresh big and juicy Strawberries with Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest Mondays

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Sweet Potato and Spinach Curry

I picked up some ground Trinidad Moruga Scorpion reputed to be one of the worlds hottest if not the hottest chilli pepper in the world.  With my chilli tolerance being quite high, I was just curious to try it and with a name like Trinidad Moruga Scorpion got me even more interested - a bit like Chocolate Habenero Chilli Pepper.  

It had been in my kitchen for over a month as I was unsure what to make with it, but then one evening after work I just decided to make a straightforward Sweet Potato and Spinach Curry, but this one had attitude.  
Ooh 1 teaspoon of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion would have been enough, but I got a little gutsy and added a 1/2 teaspoon more and my oh my, it was hot.  Thankfully, we could both eat it without too much hissing and reaching for something cooling like a natural yogurt.

This dish is so much better a day later though, as the flavours of the spice permeate through the texture of the vegetables.  The following day I did decide to thrown in a can of cooked chickpeas too for two reasons to tone down the chilli heat, but also to bulk it up a bit more.
I would certainly make this again (especially as I still have some ground Trinidad Moruga Scorpion to play with), but next time it will be with different vegetables like peppers, plantain, this time though I stayed within my comfort zone using vegetables that I often use for my African Sweet Potato, Kidney Bean and Ground Nut Curry, though the flavours of this sauce was completely different - proper spicy with heat on the tongue and signs of warmth on the cheeks.   

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Green Harissa Poached Eggs with Aubergines

After the success with the Turmeric Butter Beans dish, I decided to make another egg dish, this time with my home-made green harissa.  

Oh yum, yum.  It was lush I tell you lush. 
I actually made this dish at the weekend for brunch, it seems more fitting somehow.  The aubergine is optional.  It adds a 'meaty' texture, but is not essential.  You can also add whatever bean you wish, I love chickpeas, but this time added some brown lentils to the dish. 

Friday, 19 June 2015

Laverbread, Samphire and Seaweed Flakes Also Known as 'Sea Vegetable' Quiche with Perl Las

One of the prettiest Quiches I have ever made.  Strewn with samphire spears, sprinkled with sea flakes and hidden under the pillowy creamy cheese softness, you will find a thin layer of Welsh laverbread on the still crisp pastry crust. 

When I went to Swansea Vegfest we also went to Swansea Market. Swansea Market is absolutely thriving.  There is a positive vibe and buzz in the air with the jostling and bustling  - not an empty stall in sight.  I brought back home some samphire known fondly as asparagus of the sea and some fresh laverbread (known in Wales as Welshman's Caviar); and some Perl Las cheese.  I knew exactly what I wanted to make with these ingredients as a recipe for 'Sea Vegetable' Quiche has been in the planning.  
At home I  also had some  Atlantic Kelp Organic Seaweed Flakes (see below), but I had to wait for the samphire and laverbread that are not so easy to come by, even though I live in the Welsh valleys, but travel a little closer to the coastline then you have may just be able to acquire some. And the decision to add Perl Las to the quiche was well rather poetic as Perl Las translates as Blue Pearl.  Perfect and a bit corny at the same time. 

The Sea Vegetable Quiche was absolutely lovely.  It tasted of the sea, you know that taste on your lips when you have been at the beach....but I have to add it is a bit of an acquired taste.  I think most people will not mind the salty samphire and the seaweed flakes, but the laverbread - well that is where it comes to personal taste.  I don't love laverbread, but I don't mind it now and again.  I have one little regret and that is not showing you a cut slice of this gorgeous quiche, as it was very pretty inside - flecked. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Rhubarb - Rosewater and Rose Petal Streusel Crumble Slices

This time last year, I was boasting that my rhubarb was growing fantastically well, but that was while it was at our old rented home.  Since then I've dug it and planted it in its new home and i have to say - its not happy.  Understandably, it wasn't going to reward me well this year, but I had not expected to find it having been attacked quite savagely by some beetle like insects.  

A few days back my fresh leafy salad greens were doing fabulously,  then there was nothing - they had all been ravished by the slugs.  And now my rhubarb attacked by a pest that i have identified as a member of the weevil family, known to gardeners as 'snout beetle' but its official name is Rhubarb Cuculio - Boo hoo.  There were so many of them peddling up and down the rhubarb stalks and it leafy greens that they gave me the creeps.  So if any of my fellow vegetable gardeners/growers are reading, then any advice on how to get rid of the snout beetle pest, so that I have good stalks next year, would really be appreciated.
Anyway, I am thankful to the neighbour who is not that keen on rhubarb and allowed me to help myself to some stalks from his patch; and this is what I made with it.  A gorgeously pink Rhubarb streusel laced with rosewater and then adored further with dried rose petals.  To elevate it further, serve it with double cream or clotted cream; or for something warmer try custard if you wish.  Or if you really want more natural pinkness - then maybe some Rhubarb syrup!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Charred Cauliflower 'Steaks' with Green Harissa Lentils

At the weekend, I made vegan Cauliflower 'steaks'   for our Sunday Roast dinner.  It made quite a light and healthy change from traditional Sunday Vegetarian Roast dinner, not that we have vegetarian Roast dinner with all the trimmings every Sunday, but when we do - we make an occasion of it. 
In the past I've doused cauliflower steaks with red harissa, but this time it was accompanied with Puy style lentils and new potatoes coated in lush green fragrant harissa.

I enjoyed every mouth full and the cauliflower 'steak' was cooked to perfection, still holding a bit of crunch and bite.  I also liked that it was charred a little more here and there.    
We had quite a bit of the Green Harissa Lentils and New Potato salad left over, so it was shared between two lunch boxes and taken into work the following day for lunch.  For this reason I am sharing it with No Croutons Required co hosted by Lisa's Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes. 

Monday, 15 June 2015

Spicy Green Harissa

I used to make red harissa and chermoula quite a lot in my University days.  I preferred both the red harissa and chermoula on my oven baked (sweet) potato chips to the brand name ketchup, but I haven't made either in a long while.  

This was about to change when my mother gave me a bunch of coriander and from my own garden, I harvested about a small bunch of parsley - a mixture of flat and curly, just in case your wondering. 
This is a fresh, fragrant and flavour packed green harissa. Please do come on over in the next few days when I will showcase some dishes that have been enhanced with a dollop or two of this lively green harissa sauce.  I am sharing this recipe with Lavender and Lovage for Cooking with Herbs  challenge.

My tolerance of chilli is quite high (advancing to bhut jolokia aka ghost chilli), but you can be cautious and use as many or as little as you like. If your interested in trying the red devil version, then follow this link for red harissa
Spicy Green Harissa
Makes a jar 
1 bunch of coriander, including stems
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley including stems
2 - 3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 - 8 long green chillies (or more), depending on how spicy you like it- with or without the seeds
60ml olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste
Put all the ingredients into a blender (I used my super duper Optimum 9400) and process until smooth.  Taste and adjust salt if necessary and blitz again briefly before pouring into a jar or bowl. Keeps well in the fridge for a week.

Ripening Strawberries

As I wrote yesterday, its not quite summer yet, but the strawberries in my garden are beginning to reward us, ripening slowly but surely.  
Yesterday afternoon, I harvested a whole punnet.  I recently made some Strawberry Flapjacks, but always welcome recipe suggestions - sweet or savoury. 
I am sharing this Punnet of Strawberries with Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest MondaysSharing this time round made me smile a little as around this time last year I also shared Punnet of Strawberries

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Strawberry Flapjacks

Not quite summer yet, but the strawberries in my garden are beginning to reward us slowly.  I harvested a good handful a few days back.  

D was hinting that he would like something sweet in his lunch box for work to snack on like flapjacks or muffins.  Truth is I've been a bit slack making both.  I used to make them on a regular basis as neither of us has breakfast in the morning, especially on working days and this was a good way to address that gap in our diet.  Well this time round I was more than happy to to the hint.  
As I only had a good handful of strawberries, I sliced them thinly  for a couple of reasons.  To make them stretch, but also I did not want the juices to make the flapjack soggy, just add enough moisture and natural strawberry flavour.  They were simple, summery and lovely, I think though they could have done with a drizzle of white chocolate just to make them appeal to the eye more, but they were perfect for filling that hunger pang in the morning.  

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Swansea VegFest

This time last week I had come back from Swansea Veg Mini-Fest.  
We were there quite early, but it was a good sign as people were beginning to gather. 

Friday, 12 June 2015

Baby Sweetcorn, Peas and Mint Quiche

It is with some amusement I note that my past few blog posts have been rather yellow, and to add to that I have another rather yellow - bronze tinged Quiche to share.  The difference with these are that they are smaller, individual ones.  I think sometimes they just look just nicer on a plate.

I am not a fan of baby sweetcorn or cornlettes.  To me they resemble a plastic pretend decorative vegetable, only good to garnish a salad plate or such.  Frankly, I find them quite tasteless, but I will put my hand up and admit that I do sometimes add it to Thai Red Curry, and only because D doesn't mind them. I actually prefer the baby sweetcorns bigger sister: sweetcorn on the cob,  Sweetcorn with more crunch and sweetcorn with more juice and sweetcorn with more flavour. 
I had originally planned to make a Spring Green Vegetable Quiche, but then when I walked past a packet of baby sweetcorn, my mind was changed.  So what changed my mind? Another colour was required on the plate.  Once made, the sweetcorn retained its crunch and there was slight sweetness from the peas and a hint of mint. I am sharing this recipe with Lavender and Lovage for Cooking with Herbs  challenge.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Wye Valley Asparagus, Broad Beans and Mint Quiche

Lighter and brighter evenings call for light and easy to eat food.  

Over the next few days, various quiches, tarts and salads will be appearing on our plate. One of the first is this Wye Valley Asparagus, Caerphilly Broad Beans and homegrown mint. 

D is totally enjoying these leggy green spears whilst they are in season and taking advantage of when he sees it on offer, bringing some home by the bundle for me to work my culinary magic on and bring to the table.  But truth is there is not an awful lot you can do to asparagus.  I mean I don't want to mess with it too much, turning it into a soup or an asparagus hummus. 
Because of the asparagus short season, I really do think the best way to enjoy it is to simply blanch it and tuck in: dipping it into soft boiled eggs; stirred into a pasta dish or as a simple tart topping, maybe even in a risotto.  

Back to this home-made Asparagus, Broad Beans and Mint Quiche.  All the flavours were there.  The green grassy flavour of the asparagus, the burst of the fresh broad beans still in its skin and the mint was just right, not overpowering at all. The oozy eggy creamy cheesy filling was just right too, it had a little wobble which I liked; and more to my surprise this aspect remained - even on reheating.  

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Za'atar Crusty Crunchy Creamy Butter Beans

I know I am hitting you with them, but here is another bookmarked recipe. I saw these Giant Crusty Creamy White Beans on Maple Spices blog a few years back, 2009 to be more precise and at the time I did not have Heidi Swanson's book 'Super Natural Cooking'.   At that time I used to write and comment under my pseudonym Mangocheeks, but have since revealed my real name.  Anyway, Debbie's blog was one of the first vegan blogs that I raved about  on my blog and still continue to this day. If your not familiar with Maple Spice, then please do go by and check it out.

Well it may have taken me almost 6 years to make, but I have finally got round to making these Crusty Crunchy Creamy White Beans (thanks to soaking way too much butter beans for the Turmeric Butter Beans with dill and garlic recipe) and it was worth doing.  The butter beans were crusty and crunchy on the outside, soft like mashed potato on the inside.  I couldn't help picking hem out of the pan warm.  
I know I have coated them with Zaatar here, but it could have easily have been Smoked Paprika; Sumac or even (smoked) sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  

I followed the first part of the recipe in the cookbook (recipe can be found here). but stopped when it came to stirring in the garlic, onions and chard.  This is where I took it off the heat and scattered over some Za'atar herb blend.  Adapted from Heidi Swanson Super Natural Cooking.  I am sharing this with Tinned Tomatoes for Bookmarked Recipes. 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Turmeric Butter Beans with Dill, Garlic and Eggs

I have a number of vegetarian and non-vegetarian Middle Eastern cookbooks on my burgeoning bookshelf.  The most cherished and celebrated perhaps are those by: Nada Saleh, Arto der Haroutunian, Claudia Roden, Greg and Lucy Malouf amongst a handful of others.

Anyway, the one Middle Eastern recipe that  I've had bookmarked is not from a cook book, but a blog called Bottom of the Pot.  In fact I have had this Persian recipe for Spring Fava Bean (Broad Beans), Dill and Egg Stew  known as Baghali Ghatogh bookmarked for over two year ago.  I was greedily reminded of it when I was at the library and was flicking through Sabrina Gayour cookbook Persiana.  My version is visually probably more closer to Sabrina's as I was cautious with the dill, but the recipe I followed and adapted a little was definitely from Bottom of the Pot.  Dill is not a herb I use much in my cooking and was nervous about overpowering the dish with a herb that I am not overly fussed about.  
One of the reasons this recipe was on the back burner was that I was waiting for the broad beans season. Well fortunately for me, I  had picked up some broad beans from a rural market, but it was not enough for this recipe, so I  decided to substituted it with some dried butter beans, which I soaked overnight and then cooked. 

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Asparagus, Tomato and Mozzarella Easy Tart

Over the past week, we have had this Asparagus, Tomato and Mozzarella Tart three times, honest three times  in one week. 
When we know we are going to have a busy week ahead of us, I tend to cook big pots over the weekend that will last us three days at least, but if I am working weekend then this is not always possible,  So we sometimes pick up stand by ingredients that would be easy to put together for a light and quick evening meal.  In the fridge we have had fresh British grown baby Roma cherry tomatoes, seasonal asparagus spears and balls of fresh mozzarella, as well as ready rolled puff pastry, so an easy to cook and eat tart has been on the menu.  
I wold have varied the topping, but D loved the first tart so much, that he requested it again and again. The tomatoes were proper red and bursting with flavour, the asparagus retained their bite and the mozzarella made this tart feel like a healthy pizza. 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Mildred's Vegan Peanut Butter Brownies

So when I won Mildred's Cookbook  a couple of weeks ago, I knew exactly what I wanted to make first - the Lapsang Scented Mushroom Stroganoff and it was made and thoroughly enjoyed.  Next was the Peanut Butter Brownies with Hot Chocolate Sauce, that was bookmarked for a later date.  

Well that day had come.  
I have to say that these are perhaps first vegan Brownies that I have liked.  These are squishy, rich and oh so chocolatey.  I don't think the peanut butter is necessary, but it does certainly add colour.  I also think these are much better a day or two later.  As I found it rich as it was, I decided not to make the accompanying hot chocolate sauce, but you can if you wish.
If you are tempted to try these in your own home, then you will have to get your mitts on Mildreds The Cookbook.  And if you  cannot wait, then here is a link to the full recipe on-line, with the hot chocolate sauce. I  am sharing this recipe with Bookmarked Recipes hosted by Tinned Tomatoes. You may be interested to note that my fellow blogger Lisa over at We Don't Eat Anything With a Face has recently done a review of the book and if your quick you can also enter the give-away to win a copy of Mildred's The Cook book.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

June In My Kitchen

A fortnight ago, we went to Bristol city centre and took a pleasurable wander through St Nicholas Market.  I ended up treating myself to some Psycho Chocolate Chilli Salted Caramel with Naga Jolokia from the Hot Sauce Emporium.    Psycho Chocolate Chilli  is serious chocolate for serious chilliheads, it really is.  Fro those of you who read my blog, will know that I am well known for my love of savoury snacks rather than chocolate things, but this appealed to me because I enjoy most things chilli and spice.  
I had sampled a bit of the Psycho Chocolate Chilli Salted Caramel with Naga Jolokia while I was there, and within moments wanted a whole bar.  In fact I picked up 3 Psycho Chocolate Bars, (one got nicked by my nephew).  Wen I got home, I hid them as these were my treat, not D's.  Well at the weekend, I snipped open a bar, and took out a piece, put it on my tongue and allowed it to melt slowly in my mouth.  Vanilla fudge pieces, Sweet caramel milk chocolate, sea salt flakes and then Oh my Goodness the naga jolokia chilli  (ghost chilli) hits you - Boom.   Yes Hallowed be thy pain, but  it was beautifully balanced and supremely hot.  I am resisting eating the whole bar in one sitting, and I know I can finish it off, but as I only have two bars - I am enjoying it slowly - another visit to Bristol is surely due and so soon. 
I've been enjoying some Ethiopian and Eritrean style dishes at home, so have made my own Berbere Hot Spice Blend at home which has been used in a pasta dish and a Vegetable Broth.   
I found this packet of fair-trade Zamora Plantain Chips, in one of my kitchen cupboards.  It had fallen to the back.  I had bought it a while ago when I visited a Fairtrade shop somewhere or other, I can't remember where. 
Over the past week, we have had British baby Roma cherry tomatoes, seasonal asparagus spears and balls of fresh mozzarella, so an easy puff pastry tart has been on the menu three times (honest three times)  in one week. The tomatoes were truly bursting with proper sweetness. 
I have been pottering in the garden, trying to get some plants in the ground.  In relation to harvesting, there is very little.  I did pick a couple of ripe strawberries but they disappeared into someones gob before I got to take a picture.  The one thing that we have been using rather a lot in the kitchen are home-grown herbs: mint, rosemary, thyme and chives with their beautiful purple sparkle flower heads adoring salads and various other dishes.  
And finally, my lovely husband presented me with this rather unusual lapis blue coloured Italian hand-made ceramic dish described as a Sea Horse.  I like it as the amazing colour caught my eyes, but I am not too sure what purpose it serves.  I mean is it a salt dish; a soap dish or for jewellery or keys, but it has been placed in the kitchen for now - so any ideas as to its purpose would be most appreciated.   I am sharing this post with the lovely Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts In My Kitchen (IMK) series.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Eat Your Greens Round Up #12

Welcome to the Round Up for 'Eat Your Greens' #12.    
This is a monthly vegetarian and vegan cooking challenge for food bloggers to make something with a green vegetable (or fruit) each month.  
First up we have  Janet from the Taste Space with Avo-Kraut Toast. I've treated the fresh avocado as natures green butter a number of times, spread on crusty bread or a toasted bagel, but Janet introduces us here to where it is further topped up with sauerkraut and even refried beans.  
The Veg Hog shares with us Soya Fillets on a vegetable bed.  the awesome greens in this Oriental style dish are purple sprouting broccoli and pak choi. 
Next we have the lovely Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen who shares with us a pan of Spicy Chinese Greens being cooked over a Nordic Fire.  Wow, that looks dramatic, and I have no doubt the finished dish was delicious that included chickpeas too.  

We end on a sweet note with some Kale Cheesecake Surprise Chocolate Mint Cupcakes which come to us from Johanna who blogs over at Green Gourmet Giraffe.  Yes I said Kale!  Don't knock it, until you tried it.

Thank you so much to Johanna, Janet, Veg Hog and Elizabeth who shared their green recipes. If you would like to share your #Eat Your Greens recipes for June, then please follow this link for details on how to participate, the more the merrier.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Vegetable Palette: Favourite Vegetables #11

Welcome to May edition of The Vegetable Palette Round Up: natures colours - natures goodness''. 
The theme for May was Your Favourite Vegetables... and you fabulous bloggers did not disappoint, we had a bumper submission of vegetarian and vegan recipes.  (Please scroll to the bottom of the page for the new theme if you would like to take part this month).
The fist entry comes from Katie who blogs over at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter.  Katie shares with us a Zesty Courgette and Leek Soup which she describes as a light and uplifting soup when you're in a Spring - like mood but still need something warming.
We have another soup, this one comes from Camilla from FabFood4All.  Camilla shares with us a bowl of Simple Fat Free Spinach Soup.  She writes that whilst at school at a Home Economics class she was taught to eat iron rich leafy vegetables with something rich in vitamin C like a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice to allow the body to absorb more iron.  Interesting.  
Next we have a Creamy Veggie Pasta from C who blogs at Eating Enhanced  She writes that she likes both courgettes and broccoli, which made me smile as not many people I know like their greens - so its pleasing to note that C certainly does, a good example for some us for sure.