Saturday, 29 December 2018

Some Festive Eats over Christmas

I hope my readers had a good Christmas break.  I had a good one and I must confess I am pleased as I am still on my holidays, I don't go back until after the New Year.  

So with some time on my hands, I thought I would share some homemade festive eats.
A very simple and easy recipe for pinwheels made to look like a Christmas tree.  These are green wraps filled with hummus, strips of yellow, orange and red peppers, rocket and spring onions.  
Vegan sausage roll bites in two flavours: apricot and yellow pepper; the other was beetroot and horseradish served with Smoked Paprika Ketchup.
Black chickpea and sweet potato frittata bites.

As well as the homemade chocolate 'salami', I made another festive bookmarked recipe from the Green Gourmet Giraffe, this time for Gingerbread Cookies.  This was also actually an excuse to play with my box of eclectic cookie cutters.   

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Homemade Chocolate 'Salami' for Christmas

So the festive holidays officially begin for me and I am glad of it.  

A few years back, I remembered that Johanna's from Green Gourmet Giraffe had made a very impressive Chocolate Salami at home. I admired it and at the time.  It had not dawned on me then to make it for my husband who has a thing about chocolate, but this year I was reminded of it, when I saw some supermarkets selling Chocolate Salami as part of the Christmas range.  I should also highlight that last year, I also saw a very similar recipe, but this time it was showcased as Chocolate Haggis by Foodie Quine for Burns Night. 
Anyway, this year I was determined to make a Chocolate Salami for my husband from scratch.  Here is it, I am also linking this to The Christmas Link Up hosted by Claire Justine.
I must admit, although it was easy to make, parts of it were a little fiddly, especially wrapping the clingfilm around melted chocolate and then removing the clingfilm from the set chocolate, after all you don't want to be chewing into plastic.  Then came tying the string around the chocolate salami. By the way, I did not want to pay £6 pounds for butchers string simply for aesthetic reasons and ended up using some red embroidery thread for effect instead.  

Here it a photograph of the sliced chocolate salami.

Let me end this blog post and Wish all my loyal readers, old and new a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Festive Shenanigans at Work

Work has been busy with deadlines to complete, that I find myself too tired to come home and then sit in front of the computer to blog, but I have found some energy today. 
Giant Santa Claus in Bristol
I don't have much to share in the way of cooking at home at the moment, so today I thought I would share some festive shenanigans from work.  
Here is a Christmas tree made from scratch with green paper and then decorated with mini baubles. 
Even I made an effort making a gold 3D angel topper for my Christmas tree at home. 
At work, colleagues decided to spruce up the workplace and do a cheap and cheerful challenge called Pimp your Pod.  Surprisingly, me and my colleagues came first with our simple cascading tinsel Christmas tree.  

Monday, 10 December 2018

Chestnuts and Crackers in December

Although the Christmas tree is up, its not looking overly festive in my kitchen yet.  I guess that will come with Christmas day and the festive holiday when we get to indulge and be thankful for what we have.

I have started making some bookmarked festive food in advance though, such as Johanna's Chocolate Salami and Chocolate Panforte. I have other festive recipes that I want to make, but yesterday I was hit with a stinky cold and a chesty cough. So you can imagine the last thing I wanted to do is be in the kitchen sneezing over things, instead I had resigned myself in front of the TV.
But I have found some energy to sit in front of my computer and share some new stuff in my kitchen. Let me start with a disclaimer, this is not a sponsored blog post - I say this because I seem to have amassed a number of Merchant Gourmet products in my kitchen...carry on reading and you will see. 

Firstly there are whole chestnuts.  Its the festive season and chestnuts are must in every home. 

Monday, 3 December 2018

Last of the November Tomatoes

I have been such a wimp recently, I have not ventured much into the allotment garden plot of late.  The constant drizzle is bringing me down.  I leave home to go into work in the morning and get drenched; and I get home home and I am soaking.  The joys of waiting for public transport when there is no shelter.  So come the weekend and its raining, the last thing I want to do is go out - even if it is my back garden.  Fortunately for me, my husband picked the last tomatoes in the greenhouse in November.
These were all used for a pasta sauce and a cold pasta salad for work..
Some of you may remember that from my last Harvest Monday blog post that I do still have some curly kale and black Tuscan aka dinosaur kale, and purple Brussels sprouts to harvest, but after that there will not be much else to share on Harvest Monday until Spring next year.   For now, please enjoy the last of my homegrown tomatoes that were harvested in the last week of November. I am sharing this blog post with Dave who hosts Harvest Monday at his blog Our Happy Acres.  

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Turkish Manti or Mantu

A few months ago I made Turkish Mantu or Manti.  

It started as a means to find inspirational ways of using my spices such as AdviehBaharat, Sumac, Za'atar and ingredients such as Maftoul and Freekeh, but like any curious cook I had been lured and enticed by other recipes.  Some of you will have already seen my Iranian Pearl Barley Soup known as Ash-e Jo or Ash-e-Jow, Ghorme Sabzi, Etsis Turlu and more recently a Syrian Mezze
It was my first time making Turkish Manti or Mantu which are almond shaped dumplings filled with spicy oniony minced meat, of course my version is made with vegan/vegetarian soy mincemeat. However, I have since learned that you can also use mashed chickpeas spiced with chilli flakes and cumin as a delicious filling too and the dumplings do not necessarily have to be almond shaped either. 

Manti is a derivation of the word mantu which means dumpling.  Please see here to read and learn more about Manti or Mantu dumplings and its popularity in other countries including Armenia and Russia. 
Apparently making Mantu dumplings from scratch is a labour of love as you make the dough from scratch and then stuff it with the filling, however a Turkish woman told me that sometimes out of convenience she had used wonton or dumpling wrappers.   I guess its the way some people from the Indian subcontinent and diaspora have started using filo pastry for samosa.  So I cheated as I had some wonton dumpling wrappers in the freezer.  I have to admit, it looks pretty, but I have a feeling this dish would have been better with homemade dough.  I learn for next time as I know this is by no way authentic. 

On tasting it reminded me a little of wonton pot stickers - see here.  One part steamed and the crispy, but open - unsealed - so that you could see the filling.  Its also smothered in homemade tomato sauce, the kind you would use for lasagne - again my version is by no mean authentic. 
I'd make this again, with perhaps another filling like vegetables and serve it with some greens as well as make the pastry from scratch.

I think this recipe is suitable for vegans, but I did not check if the wonton wrappers were made with egg, so cannot say for definite...sorry.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Burnt Green Cauliflower Quiche

Despite the name, this is not a Burnt Green Cauliflower Quiche. I have only used the word 'burnt' here as a descriptive to draw attention to the golden colouring on top.  

Perhaps I should have called it Autumn Green Cauliflower Quiche instead, as the colours in this quiche are reflective of the autumnal trees around me, but then that would me getting all poetic or pretentious - depending on your view - so I stick with Burnt Green Cauliflower Quiche as some of the cauliflower florets peeking out of the quiche are tinged a little from over baking. 
This Quiche was made with a whole head of Green Cauliflower - If you haven't seen what a green cauliflower looks like, then please click here to see it in the raw.   
The photograph of the Quiche was taken a day after it was made, so the glossy topping had muted overnight in the fridge.  Still as anyone who knows, Quiche is good to eat hot, warm or cold. 
I am sharing a slice of Burnt Green Cauliflower Quiche with The VegHog who is hosting #EatYourGreens this month.  There is plenty of time to join in, so please do.   
Green Cauliflower Quiche  
Serves 8 as an accompaniment 
Adapted and based on this recipe.
Blind baked shortcrust pastry lining a 8 - 9 inch fluted tin
1 medium cauliflower (green, purple or ordinary), broken into florets 

250ml milk or double cream
3 eggs
1 teaspoons grainy mustard
100g cheddar cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

For the cauliflower: steam until tender but still with a bit of bite, then drain and allow to cool.

In a bowl, pour the double cream, then whisk in the eggs, mustard and season to taste. 
Set aside
Carefully and evenly spread on the shortcrust pastry.
place the steamed cauliflower over the blind baked shortcrust pastry.
Pour over the creamy egg mustard mixture.
Then evenly scatter over the grated cheese.
Bake gas mark 4/180oc for 40 - 45 minutes or until golden. 
Allow to cool, before serving. 

Monday, 12 November 2018

Dwindling Harvest

I can't believe that its been over a month since I contributed to Harvest Monday, but you will understand why - vegetables and fruit are beginning to dwindle.

The last of the cooking apples fell from the tree to the ground over the weekend with the heavy rain and gusts of strong winds.  Here are some tomatoes from the greenhouse.  Its the longest time we have let tomatoes grow on in the greenhouse, often clearing it to sow some winter salad. Do you think that I could still sow winter salad in the greenhouse?
I  have used the late tomatoes mostly as pasta sauce.  
I got a load of pears this year from the tree.  In fact its the first year we have actually had any, so I was busy baking with them.  
From this gorgeous Pear Cinnamon Cake to preserving them in some star anise and cinnamon flavoured syrup.  Looking forward to enjoying these with warm chocolate brownies and vanilla ice-cream.
I do still have some curly kale and black Tuscan aka dinosaur kale, and maybe some Brussels sprouts to harvest, but after that there will be nothing else, but hardy herbs. So very soon, my participation in Harvest Monday will dwindle until Spring next year.   For now, please enjoy this small harvest which I am sharing with Dave who hosts Harvest Monday at his blog Our Happy Acres.  

Saturday, 10 November 2018

November Blue Fenugreek, Purple and Green Cauliflowers

I don't have that much to share this month, but here are a few vegetables and foodie related things that I did manage to photograph. 
In my kitchen were these green and purple cauliflower picked up direct from one of the growers at a farmers market.  I made Savoury Black Sesame and Purple Cauliflower Cake with the purple cauliflower; and the other was made into a Green Quiche which I will share later in the week for Eat Your Greens food challenge.
These two baby pumpkins were left over from last month.  I roasted them in a little oil and added them to a Peanut Curry.  I found peeling them quite difficult.
These are the last of the cooking apples from the tree.  Its been a good year with the fruit trees in the allotment garden plot this year. 

I made two recipes from the BBC website, Dorset Apple Cake as shown above and Dorset Apple Traybake (not shown)  and I must say, that both very delightful to eat and share.  I want to be cheeky and call it Welsh Apple Cake, as the apples were from Wales, but I better not. 

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Vegetarian Philly Cheesesteak

Yes this is a vegetarian food blog and what I share below may look freakishly like 'meat', but I assure you these are homemade seitan slices peaking out of this Philly Cheese 'Steak' or cheesesteak. 
I was looking for ways to use up my rather large batch of homemade seitan and it was whilst flicking  Mama Cherry's Soul Food in a Bowl that I stumbled upon a meat version.  I of course decided to adapt it.  I am not that familiar with Philly Cheese Steak.  Momma Cherry writes 'Cheese steaks were invented in the 1930s at Pat's Steaks in South Philadelphia fondly known as Philly.  It should have American Cheese, Provolone or Cheez Whizz (a yellow processed cheese squeezed from the bottle) on it'.  However she recommends that a grated mild English Cheddar works well, so that is what I used here, though I did later stumble across a vegan recipe for cheez wiz - this recipe can easily be made vegan.

Momma Cherry slices steak as thinly as possible to ensure it remains tender.  I of course used thinly sliced seitan to be quickly sauteed it in hot oil, but before that before that I sautéed some thinly sliced onion and green pepper to caramelise, then added the slices of seitan to it before finishing it off with a little seasoning.
The hot dog style bread rolls were sliced.  D recommended putting the cheese at the bottom as the warm seitan, onions and green pepper would add warmth and melt the cheese beneath it (it didn't by the way). I generously piled in the filling and then for a final touch squeezed over French classic yellow mustard sauce. Straight into your mouth for a bit bite - well that part is not true, as we had to take pictures!

I am sharing these vegetarian Philly Cheese 'Steak' with Soup, Salad and Sammies Sundays hosted by Deb over at Kahakai Kitchen