Saturday, 28 February 2009

Baked mexican eggs in tortilla cups

Here are some products I purchased from the Fairtrade event held at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. I decided not to purchase the usual suspects of chocolate and coffee as I get these all the time, so decided to spend my money on these Streetwires key rings: chilli pepper, strawberry and a ladybird - all made in Cape Town, South Africa. But me being me, have decided to use these as Christmas decorations, instead of sticking them with my clunky keys.

Yes, I know Fairtrade products are expensive, but that is the point - its about fair wages.
As you would expect there were many stalls there, including a Cooperative called Greencity. I often see their products being sold at Roots and Fruits. I tend to buy in bulk and could easily spend lots of pounds there, so asked the lad could I come along and make some substantial purchases. But the lad at the stall said they only deal with traders. Surely the point is to widen ordinary peoples knowledge of ethically sourced products and encourage them to eat more wholesome and healthy food, it left me feeling that it was not very welcoming to the ordinary person on the street. So what was the point of them being at the Faritrade where the majority of people their are individuals with families who were not permitted to shop at Greencity, should they not be at a Trade Fair?

Something else struck a chord with me as well, the Green Party were there too with a petition questioning whether Glasgow City Council really warranted having its fairtrade status. But more thoughts on that later.

Anyway, after wandering the streets of Sauchiehall, I came home and made a Mexican Themed breakfast which D named Baked Mexican eggs in tortilla cups. Fancy name eh? A friend of mine, who now lives in America made these for me one time. I tried to memorise the ingredients, the sauce is not authentic, it should be chipotle sauce, but I don't have any of that, so I used some red hot sauce I made a few days ago.
Ingredients (Makes 6)
For the red hot sauce
400g can tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
A few slices of picked jalapeno chillies
1 tablespoon jalapeno chilli juice from a jar
1 teaspoon of red chilli powder
Salt to taste

Place the sauce ingredients in a small pot and bring to the boil. Simmer very gently till reduced and thick. Allow to cool.

For the tortilla cups
Olive oil
3 large/medium Tortillas, each cut into 4 wedges
6 eggs
75g Mature cheddar, grated
3 spring onions, sliced
1 teaspoon smoked cayenne pepper

Heat the oven to gas mark 6. Generously oil 6 of the non-stick muffin tin holes. Use two wedges to line each muffin hold (overlap them so that the pointy end lay on top of the other, flat across the base). Brush the tortilla with olive oil, then spoon in a generous tablespoon of red hot over the bottom of each and crack in an egg. Top with the grated cheese and spring onion, then lightly dust with smoked cayenne.

Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or until the egg is set to your taste.
Serve salad and extra red hot sauce on the side.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Whatever happened to Salsa and Mesquite Kettle chips?

Friday nights was popcorn or kettle chips night. I could eat a whole bag in one sitting. Oh how I loved eating them. Potato crisp covered in thick red spices.

Salsa and Mesquite Kettle chips had been my one and only favourite savoury snack for years, bursting with full flavour. But they stopped making them about three, four years ago!

Although I developed a liking for Mango and Chilli, it was no substitute for the salsa mesquite, but then I noted that these were also no longer available.

I have tried the other flavours including Honey BBQ and Sweet Pepper Chilli, but they are not the same. I have stopped buying the brand now, and now snack on home made popcorn or a cheese plate on my Friday nights.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Back to seeds

About three years ago, I planted some Victoria Rhubarb seeds, only one germinated. That lonesome Rhubarb plant is now starting to emerge from the soil in all its pink glory tinged a little in lime green. I have an old bin that was collecting rainwater, but I have decided that I am now going to put over it in anticipation of forced rhubarb. I have never done this before, so will be a good experiment for me.

The more organised of my fellow allotmenteers already have garlic shoots emerging from the ground, and have their potato seeds in egg trays chitting away in their dark sheds. Other than planting my 100 stutgart onion seeds early this week, I am still looking over what I had left over from last years stash of seed packets and getting my head round Crop rotation. Anyway here is my list of what I already have.

Cabbage: Greyhound; Marner Early Red; Vertus
Broccoli: Calabrese F1 Arcadia; Purple Sprouting Early
Cauliflower: Snowball A
Kale: (Borecole) Dwarf Green Curled
Brussels Sprouts: Bedford Fillbasket; F1 Silverline
Sweet Lightning Pumpkin
Courgette: Albarello di Sarzana
Peas: Cavalier; Ambassador
Runner Beans: Hestia; Scarlet Runner
Climbing French Beans: Neckar Gold; Blue Lake; Blauhilde
Broad Beans: Super Aquadulce
Parsnips: White Gem
Carrots: Kuttiger; Autumn King; Baby; Chatenay
Fennel: Finale
Spring Onions: Red Beard
Lettuce: Lollo Ross; Red Salad Bowl;
Salad Mix: Oriental Mix; Spicy Mix,

Strawberry Spinach
Good King Henry
Lovage; Dill; Garlic; Chives
Basil: Lemon; Dark Opal
Sunflower: Russian Mammoth; Autumn Beauty
Nastitium: Tall Mixed; Peach Melba

I have loads of Gardeners Delight TOMATO seeds, as well as Tigerella and Gartenperle.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Fairtrade Brownies

As you know this week marks the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight 23 February to 8th March 2009.

I used to work in the Scottish heritage and environmental sector and was aware that Paisley, Bishopton and Lochwinnoch had Fairtrade town and village status, but only recently learned that last year Renfrewshire had been officially named as Scotland’s newest Fairtrade Zone following a hugely successful campaign by Renfrewshire Council, local voluntary organisations, schools, churches and businesses. Change comes from a mobilised grassroots. The impact ordinary people can make is huge. This is the link to the other places in Scotland that now have fairtrade status

I often get to visit some of these places, especially when I have family up from England and Wales. This gives me an opportunity to visit some of these fair-trade shops.

Throughout the year like many I play my small part in supporting Fairtrade initiatives. I like many buy fair-trade bananas from the local supermarket. I will visit the One World Shop which opened in 2002 in Glasgows West End and buy fair-trade Palestine olive oil (so delicious dipped with crusty bread or dribbled over some salad leaves), dried mango and papaya pieces; and from Oxfam I will get my large tub of cafedirect coffee, cocoa powder for baking, chocolate bars, as well as some Traidcraft products.
Anyway, these homemade brownies are made from the fair-trade chocolate above.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

St David aka Dewi Sant of Wales

This coming Sunday, it is St David’s Day (Dewi Sant), the patron Saint of Wales who died on the 1st March 589AD.

As a child growing up in Wales, at school we would make a big deal of St David's Day, by dressing up in Welsh national costume which if you were a girl consisted of a tall black hat, white frilled cap and long dress and participating at the schools Eisteddfod (assembly of competitive singing).

You would see the national flag of Wales, depicting a red Dragon Y Ddraig Goch against a green and white background being flown. Both the daffodil and leeks are regarded as Wales national emblems, but I would only see the daffodil being worn by adults on their outer garments, I rarely saw a person have a leek pinned to their lapel, then or even now.

I know since leaving Wales for University, there has been a major revival in celebrating St David’s Day in Wales, the way the Scots celebrate St Andrews and the Irish, St Patrick, with there now being many more street parades than before. Part I think is to do with the awakening of Welsh national pride, the revival of the Welsh language now being taught at Primary school, and part to do with tourism. For example, in hotels around Wales, you may now be expected to be served with some traditional welsh treats. For breakfast – Laverbread with cockles or a Welsh Rarebit (upmarket cheese on toast); Afternoon tea can be served with Bara Brith (translated speckled bread a traditional welsh fruit bread) or picen ar y maen Welsh cakes which are best served warm, they are meltingly delicious; and the traditional dinner in the evening would be a dish of cawl (lamb broth with leeks), followed by Welsh Lamb. These welsh foodie delights were never part of my childhood, not at home and not at school.

Anyway, now as a Welsh woman living in Scotland, this year on the 1st March I intend to make some Welsh delights with a vegetarian spin at home. I may get lucky and a family member may shlep over some tinned laverbread also known as bara lawr in welsh to me via the post. Laverbread is a cooked puree of seaweed often found on the shores of western Britain. Apparently, the Japanese seaweed known as nori is from the same family. You are very unlikely to purchase Laverbread outside of Wales, unless its from a specialist store or via the Internet. I have had laverbread a few times, it is an acquired taste. If you have ever had the Indian dish saag made with the authentic ingredient mustard leaves, not substituted with spinach, saag is the closest taste of what laverbread reminds me of.

I will have to visit my allotment plot this weekend, to see if some of my daffodils are wide open so that they can adorn my table this Sunday, they did look very promising. I will also pull out some of my dwindling supply of leek crop for a warming starter of leek soup, if no laverbread appears on my kitchen table between now and Saturday.

If you come on over to my blog this Sunday, you may get to see on the menu
Starter: Laverbread rissole or Welsh rarebit
Vegetarian Main: homemade leek soup, followed by Glamorgan Sausages made with Welsh Caerphilly cheese
For dessert: Bara brith and welsh cakes, washed down with something warm inside my welsh mug, with its missing handle

PS You might be interested to note that St David was reputed to have been a vegetarian, mainly living of bread and herbs.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Worst allotment site

Alongside some of my ramblings, the intention of my blog is to share good things grown at my plot then taken home to my tiny kitchen to be turned into tasty bites, and I will continue to do this. But right now I wanted to share some of my frustrations and disgust at the way the allotment site my plot is situated on is managed, as concerned voices including my own do not seem to have an impact on those who can take real action.

As you enter this privately owned allotment site, you are immediately welcomed by what can be described as nothing else but a permanent health hazard made up of dumped planks of wood, broken slabs of paving and window frames from which the glass has been shattered into a million pieces, all scattered at the entrance. Some of the rubbish has been there for over two years now, and I am not exaggerating. We have a number of young families working here, and many of them have children, I am surprised none of them have been injured yet. Anyway, as I walk towards my plot which is situated in the centre of the allotment site, I walk past three, maybe four of the most unsightly, ugliest overgrown and unkempt plots I have ever seen with dumped items of all sorts. I have been here for three years now, and I have never seen anyone work these plots.

In the UK, we have a great demand for plots and there are many people on council lists waiting for plots, yet here some of these plots are hogged by people who do not grow anything. They are able to keep the plots as a dumping ground and nothing is being done to challenge or evict these individuals. No one seems to have the power or authority to do anything. Apparently there is also the belief that this private land could cost millions, if sold to property developers, so some of the people you never ever see working or tilling the land, are holding on to the plots in the false belief that they will get a chunk of the profits. In addition to the ugliness of the allotment site, there are also a handful of people who spoil it for the others with their drunken behaviour, harassing young women in the evenings. The women grumble to each other, but do not report it formally. The thieving has also increased, not by outsiders breaking in, but by other plot holders - some new some long term, but that is another story. I so wish this allotment site was owned or taken over by the local council, and the plots given over to people on the councils waiting lists willing to work and maintain the land. I am really fed up with all this nonsense and so are many other people, but nothing seems to happen.

The majority of the people at the site are good hearted and want these plots worked on. They want this space to be an idyllic haven of busy bees, sweet smelling flowers and loveliness to the eye, and their own plots their private oasis. But the few continue to spoil it for us, and nothing seems to improve, in fact things seem to get worse with some having drunken gatherings in the evening at the allotment then discarding their empty lager cans wherever they wish. This is a time when we should all be looking forward the new growing season, but unfortunately this nonsense starts to overtake the joy.

If I had known what I know now about this allotment site, I would never have taken the plot, but now, I have worked hard here, invested quite a lot of time, energy and money on bringing my plot up to scratch, so to put my name down at another site does not often cross my mind. I would be like the many others waiting on a long waiting list for a plot. So I put up with this nonsense.

I had an older man come and speak to me yesterday. He’s no gentleman, as he is quite foul mouthed, but his heart is in the right place. He was saying to me that he was ashamed to invite his pals over. I said he should, we should really show people what the allotment site looks like and name and shame it as perhaps the worst allotment site in Scotland, if not the UK. In the next coming weeks I will be gathering some evidence to show you the state of this allotment site.

Carrot and raisin muffins

I often make a batch of muffins or flapjacks for the working week ahead. These are from Vegan with a Vengeance (VWAV). Very sticky, very moist and very tasty.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

No Purple sprouting broccoli

This was our first proper working day at the allotment. The good weather also brought out a lot of the other plot holders, all digging over their plots.
This sunflower plant that grew over 10 foot, was finally pulled out. I dug over some more of the plots, mainly the brassica plot. My PSB did not do too well, I am so disappointed. It had become a favourite vegetable of mine. I am not too sure what went wrong. They grew, but did not sprout. I planted out some Stutgarter onion seeds and in pots Aquadulce broad beans. D dug out the old soil from both the greenhouse and the carrot box, later replenishing these with fresh compost.
I harvested some more Jerusalem artichokes and my very own winter salad, one of the benefits of having a greenhouse. The salad leaves smell fantastic, very peppery.

Progress: My daffodil seedlings seem to be doing very well. They will soon be in bloom - hopefully in time for this welsh girl in Scotland to celebrate St Davids Day.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Roasted sweet potato and french bean pastries

D and myself spent most of the morning wandering through Glasgows West End and visiting some of our favourite second hand book shops, namely Voltaire and Caledonian. I really like visiting Voltaire, and it never disappoints I always manage to come out with another cookbook, not necessarily vegetarian. Voltaire is a shoddy, but great second hand book shop. If you are ever in Glasgow I really recommend a visit, just for the novelty factor if nothing else. The books are always either cluttered or stacked up high to the ceiling, and in no particular order. You go to reach a book that takes your fancy, and four tumble down and no one blinks an eye.

We also stopped at IJ Mellis, Glasgow West Ends most reputable cheese monger and picked out a few cheeses to nibble on this evening with some oatcakes. Cheese is one temptation that stops me from becoming vegan.

Anyway, when we got back home we noticed that the lad at the cheese shop forgot to label our cheeses, tut tut and we can't remember what the names are either. D said well we will just have to enjoy them for that they are. I know one of them is Cooleney, but which I could not tell you which.

We were also going to stop and have Brunch at The 78, Kelvinghaugh Street, but at the last minute changed our mind, and decided to save that pleasure for another day, especially now that we know where it is. Instead we went home and had these Roasted sweet potato and french bean pastries

Makes 10 – 12
Ready made spring roll pastry. I use TYJ Spring Roll pastry
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium sized sweet potato, pricked with fork and roasted in oven for 30 minutes until tender 1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon oil
½ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
½ chilli powder
¼ turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
125g French beans, cooked and chopped
100 ml vegetable stock or water
1 small egg to seal and glaze (optional)
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds to sprinkle
Salt and pepper to taste

Gas mark 6

First prick sweet potatoes and roast in oven with skin for 30 minutes until tender. When cool to handle remove the skin and put into bowl and break up gently with fork.

In a pan, fry onion and garlic in the oil until soft.Add ginger and all the spices and stir
Add the beans and stock or water and cook until beans begin to cook

Allow the mixture to cool and then add to the sweet potatoes. Mix and season well
Mix egg in a small bowl.

Place cooled filling on spring roll sheet and either roll into spring rolls or samosa triangle style, sealing and glazing with the egg mix(optional).

Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Place on baking tray and bake in oven for 20 to 30 minutes till crisp.

Serve with green salad and blue cheese dressing.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Baa - Tartan sheep

Sometime last year, I cant exactly remember when, I managed to get a lift to Edinburgh for a meeting. On route, I had observed sheep sprayed blue and on the other side of the road sheep sprayed pink. Apparently it was part of some art project. Then I saw these...

so called Tartan sheep at Auchingarrich Wildlife Park, Crieff, Perth.
I wonder if they use natural colour dyes?

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

suitable for vegetarians

Some of you know about my non-vegetarian experience yesterday. What I thought was a bowl of vegetarian soup from the Canteen happened to contain bits of ham I think. As a vegetarian this experience for me was not new, and I probably would have let it go, but now a little bit older and more confident in my skin I felt I had to do something, and raise further awareness. For example, what if it had been someone who had religious obligations, Hindus cannot eat beef and Muslims do not eat pork and only eat halal meat by products and Jewish people donot consume pork. So the consequences could have been much worse than my laid back approach. So this morning I decided to write them a letter of concern.

Later in the afternoon, the Manager came and met with me in person and apologised profusely. She agreed that they will now begin to label the soups as suitable for vegetarians and not suitable for vegetarians. She also told me that noone had notified her of my alarming experience yesterday, so I was even more glad that I had written the letter.

Small steps that can benefit others in the workplace.

Rosehip syrup

Even though I think I am competent in my recognition and knowledge of different fruit and vegetables from the UK and from around the world, I am not completely confident when it comes to identifying and picking wild food from Mother nature. This is something I would like to develop. Maybe this autumn I will actually go on one of these wild mushroom hunts in some Scottish forest and learn to identity fresh morels and chanterelles. but this is not about mushrooms, its about rosehip.

What counts as rosehip? I saw a bottle at Grassroots: a vegetarian health store in Glasgow and it cost about £3.50 for a tiny bottle. Surely I can make the syrup at home for a fraction of the price, if I only knew for certain what rosehip looked like. After all the last thing I want to do is poison myself. I feel I still have so much to do, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Zingy perpetual spinach and mung bean casserole

One thing you will learn about me is the food I like to cook and eat is not necessarily pretty or photogenic. You will not find me presenting it like an artists palette, well not yet anyway, and I will never ever become a food photographer, but I can pretend now and again.

I still have some perpetual spinach growing in my garden plot. Perpetual spinach is a close friend of the swiss chard. So this is what we had today. It is a slight variation from Bill Sewells Food from the place below. It uses really simple ingredients producing a delightfully delicious and zingy dish. One to perk you up if your feeling a bit under the weather. We had it with plain boiled Basmati rice from Pakistan.

Serves 4 - 6

225g dried mung beans
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
400g tin of tomatoes, chopped
400g of perpetual spinach or baby leaf spinach, washed and roughly sliced
Zest and juice of two limes
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the mung bean in water for about 45 minutes, until tender, then drain and leave to cool.

Sweat the onions and garlic until soft.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes, then add the spinach and simmer for 10 minutes more, until the spinach is cooked.

Then add the cooled mung beans.

Now add the zest and juice of one lime NOTE Taste it before you add the juice of the second lime. I like it quite zingy, so add the juice from two limes, but if you don't want the zingy dominating, taste before deciding to add further lime juice.

Stir and heat through before serving.

Check the seasoning

Vegetarian Soup…or maybe not

Yeah some of you may laugh, others will be a bit more understanding.

I do not often visit the works canteen as it is not always vegetarian friendly, usually chips, pizza and quiche. But the one thing I will get now and again as a quick filler is a buttered bread roll and vegetarian soup. They always do two types of soup: one is always vegetarian, the other is not. The vegetarian soups are never that exciting, it either tomato, carrot and lentil or vegetable with barley. But they are always made from scratch with fresh ingredients, which I think can only be a good thing

Today, as I had not prepared my lunch for work, I was reliant on canteen grub. Well I sat down with bread roll in hand, and took a mouthful of carrots and barley. Very strong, I thought to myself, although it looks vegetarian, it tastes almost meaty. I took another mouthful, and then a texture, what I wished was just a chewy barley grain, but in my head was certain it was a piece of meat. Surely not. I got the spoon and twirled it in the thick soup, and found another sinew of fleshy animal substance. Now I was convinced that I picked up the wrong soup. I walked back over to the canteen and told them I had poured in the wrong soup into my bowl, and could I exchange it for the Vegetarian one (as I had paid for it). The woman behind the counter, always pleased to help me, told me that she thought today both soups contained meat. She said someone had made a mistake today and put meat in both soups. She apologised profusely. I was too hungry to be mift. Unfortunately, as a vegetarian you have to expect these kinds of things.

Anyhow, the chef being the scenes replaced the meat flavoured vegetable soup with what they guaranteed was a vegetarian soup.

Err the taste is still lingering in my mouth.

Cup of coffee to wake you up

I really don’t drink that much coffee. But it is ritual for me to have a good cup of coffee in the morning to get me wide awake for the day ahead. I don’t use milk or cream in my coffee, but use a super market brand coffee whitener. Over the past 6 months I had noticed the price of this coffee whitener was going up slowly first by pennies, and then suddenly it was double the price. I decided enough was enough no way, was I going to pay that much, I decided to cut down on the coffee I was drinking and switched to another brand of coffee whitener in order to be thrifty. For goodness sake I have even started drinking tea now and again.
But now three months later, moaning at the look of the cup of coffee in the morning with floaty white bits and tasting like vegetable fat. Ugh. I have just not been enjoying drinking my morning cup of coffee. So I have reevaluated my decision and have decided to begin purchasing the coffee whitener again, and stomach the cost of the coffee whitener. Sometimes in life, taste matters. Another justification for me to go back is I honestly don’t drink that much coffee, so the one cup I do have should really be a good cup of coffee that I enjoy.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Spiky head

Fellow allotmenteers kept insisting that this purple spiky head plant that is also affectionately known as Partick Thistle in the West of Scotland was a Globe artichoke, but I had my doubts whether it was actually a globe artichoke. It was far more jaggedy. Then a good eight months later, I found out directly by the person who had given the plant to my plots original owner, that it was in fact a cardoon, not a globe artichoke.

Cardoon is a close relative of the globe artichoke, so you can understand the confusion, but the Cardoons head which resembles the globe artichoke is not edible. The edible part of the cardoon is its stalk, when stripped and cooked. I had not done much to the cardoon, other than let passers by touch its prickly head and admire it.

But now while its winter and in it's dormant state. I have parted the one plant into 6 and have replanted them in a nice neat line. Hopefully they will be okay, grow and be even more dramatic and welcoming to the eye. We shall have to wait till the summer to see.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Carrot and parsley risotto

This is a variation from Cranks Fast Food. I know this recipe of by heart now. Its another afterwork staple in our house.

3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g carrot, thickly sliced
small bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 pints of vegetable stock made with 2 teaspoons of bouillon powder
350g risotto rice
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons of vegetarian Parmesan (optional - omit if vegan)

Heat the oil in a wide, heavy bottomed pan. Add onions and garlic and fry until soft. Then add the carrots and saute until they begin to soften a little. Be careful not to overcook, you still want the carrots to have some bite.

Now add the rice and stir over a low heat until it becomes translucent.

Add the stock, a couple of ladlefuls at a time, stirring frequently until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is rich and creamy. This should take 20 to 30 minutes. The carrots should be soft, but still retaining their shape.

Stir in the Parmesan if using, parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Sweet lightning

This is the last of my baby sweet lightning pumpkin. I am so loathed to cut into it, but it must be done.

I do intend to grow these little pumpkins again this year. They were absolutely delicious. I baked them and served them with feta cheese, as well as turned them into little tarts with gorgonzola and goats cheese. Yum.
As delicious as these baby pumpkins are, they are so hard to cut into. So be very careful.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Parsnip and wild rice mulligatawny

I really enjoy making Jane Grigsons Curried Parsnip soup, but decided on a change.

This soup is called Parsnip and wild rice mulligatawny soup. It's the first time I have made this recipe. It is adapted from Paul Gaylers Vegetarian Cookbook. Paul Galyer uses coconut milk to give the soup an added flavour. I chose not to do this, as I found the soup quite creamy as is and it was quite flavourful. The wild rice gave it an added texture. Chewiness.
Parsnip and wild rice mulligatawny soup

50g wild rice
50g butter or substitute with olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g parsnips, diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons of curry powder
2 pints of vegetable stock made with 1 teaspoon of bouillon powder
4 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves
salt and pepper to taste
MethodPlace the wild rice in a pan. Add 450ml of water to cover the rice, bring to the boil, then reduce heat, and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes until the rice is tender. Drain. Or if using quick cook wild rice, cook according to packet instructions.
Heat the butter in a separate pan. Add the onion and garlic and fry over a low heat for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the parsnips, turmeric, and curry powder, and cook for a couple of minutes, to allow the spices to mingle and release their fragrances.
Pour in the stock. Stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and allow to simmer for 40 minutes, or until the parsnips are tender.
Blend the cooled ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Season to taste. Return the soup to the pan, bring to a boil, stir in the wild rice and coriander. Serve in bowls.

Monday, 9 February 2009

I'm a little tea pot

No I am not.

This is neighbours 'golden' teapot borrowed to model my the finished article from my knitting class - my very own tea cosy.

I completed the tea cosy about two weeks ago, but did not have a teapot to show it off in all its glory. So here it is. SO PURPLE.

Yes, I know the wool given to me was a grey/blue, but as a beginner I was struggling to see whether I was purling or doing a knit stitch, so changed the wool colour. So much more vibrant.

And the top looks so pretty...Now who wants tea?

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Jerusalem artichoke and walnut parcels

I have some Jerusalem artichokes left from last weekends visit to the allotment, so decided to make this recipe: Jerusalem artichoke and walnut parcels. This is a variation from Paul Gaylers book called Vegetarian Cookbook. The original recipe uses brown rice, but I don't have any, so I have substituted it for white rice, which doubles on the quantity. Good if you have a crowd coming over, and I do have some special guests flying over from Wales to stay with me for the week. Its a good dish to prepare in advance.
Jerusalem artichokes and walnut parcels
150g long grain white rice
25g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 leek shredded
175 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
100g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon thyme
100 g fresh breadcrumbs
50g walnuts, chopped
100g cheddar, grated
2 eggs beaten, plus 1 to seal and glaze
2 x 450g Ready rolled puff pastry
flour to dust
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the rice until cooked and drain. Place in a bowl and leave to cool.

In a separate pan, melt the butter, add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Add the leek, mushrooms, artichokes and thyme. Saute for about 5 minutes until golden. Leave to cool.

In the bowl containing the rice, add the sauteed vegetables, breadcrumbs, walnuts, cheddar and two eggs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roll out one sheet of puff pastry on a lightly, floured work surface. Cut into 6 even sized squares.

Then do this again with the other sheet of puff pastry. so all together you should have 12 squares.

Form the rice mixture into balls, place in the centre of the pastry square and then form parcels. Please look at the photos, as I would be terrible explaining this.

Brush the outside of each parcel with egg glaze and leave in fridge until ready to bake, which is what I will do when my guests arrive.

Then all you have to do is bake in oven gas mark 6 for 20 - 25 minutes until golden.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

feta souffle with red onion and artichoke coins

The richness of the feta souffle goes very well with the savoury artichokes and sauteed onions.

IF YOU DO DECIDE TO COOK THIS DISH make sure the Jerusalem artichokes and red onion are cooked a few minutes before the souffle is ready to come out of the oven.

The feta cheese souffle is an adapted recipe from Nadine Abensurs Cranks Fast Food. And the Red onion and artichoke coins is an recipe adapted by Catherine Mason Veg. Both books I strongly recommend.

Feta souffles
Serves 4
30g butter
30g plain flour
150ml milk
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
125g feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon of grated vegetarian Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4. Butter 4 ramekins.

Melt the butter in a small pan. Stir in the flour and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk. Return to low heat, whisking constantly until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks and cheese.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gently fold them into the warm sauce. Spoon into the ramekins, sprinkle over the grated Parmesan cheese and bake in a bain marie in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen.

Sauteed Red onion and Jerusalem artichoke coins
Serves 4 as a side dish
4 small red onions
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of fennel seeds
400g Jerusalem artichoke, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch coins
4 tablespoons of water
salt and pepper to taste

Peel the onions and cut them into quarters lengthways, leaving enough of the base to keep them connected. In a wide pan, warm the oil over medium heat and saute the onion quarters with the fennel seeds. After about 8 minutes, add the artichoke coins and continue cooking over high heat
until starting to brown.

Add 4 tablespoons of water and season. Bring it to a boil, put the lid on and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender, but not disintegrating. Do check after 15 minutes as you do not want the water from drying out. If this does happen add another tablespoon of water.

When the artichokes are tender remove the lid and add further seasoning if necessary. Serve.

Dip the artichoke pieces in the souffle.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Not so nobbly

These Jerusalem artichokes tubers are not so nobbly. I also think the flavour is not as robust and earthy as its sister.
I did not have the sunflower like flowers on mine, not sure why. Other people on the allotment did. Maybe because it’s a different variety fuseau.

This was our dinner a little while ago. Winter vegetables simply roasted in olive oil and sea salt.
Roasted winter dish included pototoes, turnip, jerusalem artichokes, carrots and brussels sprouts all dipped in brown sauce.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

mighty green nugget

Otherwise known as Brussels sprouts

Although one of my vegetable plots was pretty much dedicated to Brussels sprouts, I must confess that I really do not like them, and only grew them for D.

Every year, on my Christmas dinner plate or Veggie Roast Dinner plate, I always stipulate to D that I only be served 6 sprouts, which I then proceed to cover with veggie gravy and eat slowly with great difficulty. But I have not given up on the small green nugget with the mighty flavour.

One of the benefits I have discovered about being able to cook is that you can be creative and I have learned that there are now three ways, that I can tolerate the taste of Brussels sprouts. These are to turn it into a soup, nothing special there I know. Turn the sprouts into little veggie pies or roasted in the oven with a bit of olive oil and sea salt. The sprouts flavour is completely transformed into something rather tasty, and dare I say it - gorgeous. Not at all the flavour you associate with cabbage or baby cabbages in this instance.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Dietary needs

I was in Leith, Edinburgh all day today for a meeting. A complimentary light buffet was laid on for the small group including myself. Hey, as long as its vegetarian or vegan - I will eat anything. Anyway, alongside the usual meat and vegetarian sandwiches, which I must add were mixed in with the tuna sandwiches - deemed by the caterers as vegetarian! There was also vegan and gluten free options.

At this meeting there were also three women from religious backgrounds. The two Muslim women, although meat eaters were quite content with the vegetarian option, not insisting on halal food, but the Jewish woman was extremely unhappy, stating that the voluntary organisation should have ordered in a kosher lunch especially for her, as the kitchen in this building was not kosher, therefore she could not consume anything it had made.

I had a banana in my handbag, which I offered to her. She declined my offering thanking me and adding Bananas are kosher. Obviously I knew that, I would not have offered it to her otherwise, but I think she was trying to make a point.

After the meeting, on my way to Edinburgh Waverley train station, I did manage to briefly stop at Valvona & Crolla and sample some good bread dipped in balsamic vinegar; and Real foods: A Vegetarian wholestore, where I picked up a few ingredients: lexia raisins, wild rice and spelt. You will have to wait and see what I do with them.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Roasted artichokes, potatoes with lemon and coriander

As you know I dug a load of jerusalem artichokes from my plot this weekend, about 2kg. Now we have to eat them. I for one am not looking forward to the after effects. You know why? Flatulence!

Anyway, onto cooking - I remember watching Neneh and Andi Dish up were they made a Nigel Slater recipe that included lemons with jerusalem artichokes. I could not find the recipe. So I decided to experiment with the same combination, but with a few added extra ingredients. The result was actually quite good. I call it Roasted artichokes, potatoes with lemons and coriander.
Serves 2 - 4
2 tablespoons of olive oil
250g desiree or other roasting type of potato, peeled and cut into wedges
250g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced length way in half
6 cloves of garlic, kept in its skin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 unwaxed lemon, sliced into rounds
40g black olives, pitted and cut in half
4 tablespoons of coriander, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to gas mark 6

Put the potatoes in a large roasting oven dish with the olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.

Then add artichokes, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper and mix well. Return to the oven for 20 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the artichokes as they will disintegrate.

After 20 minutes, add the black olive halves, mix and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir in chopped coriander. Serve.

I don't know what would have been a good accompaniment with the dish, as we ate them as is. Not bad at all.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Snowballs, snow flakes and a surprise

The snowfall although beautiful to watch when your in the warmth of your home, or if your a child, but it is not so fairytale like when you have to drive or walk to and from work in it. Chilly.

Anyway, I am so pleased that I went over the allotment yesterday and got some good work done. Here are a couple of photos from the plot yesterday and a surprise for you. Keep reading.
My daffodil seedlings coming up. Oh I wish I had planted some at home.
Last of the dwarf curly kale -now all gone.
Great colour! Winter roast vegetables: parsnips, swede, carrots, potatoes, leeks and garlic. This was simple and really good.
I have so much winter harvest at home: parsnip, beetroot, jerusalem artichokes, kale and leeks that I seriously have to think how to cook them creatively, especially the million of sprouts. Otherwise they will just go limp and long for the compost bin, and I cannot have that. What kind of grower would I be?
Okay the surprise - yesterday I forgot to upload this film D made of my allotment plot, so here it is. It took ages, ages, ages to download (over an hour!). So please sit back and enjoy!

It has changed a bit since filming, the netting is all gone and those plots have been dug over by yours truly.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Not pork pies, but veggie pies

What a long day its been.
All morning at the allotment - no one there but me and D. Quietly we worked away.

I harvested the last of the curly kale and all of the sprouts - many of which had blown.

I harvested the last few parsnips and beetroot. The celeriac did not do too well. After harvesting and clearing the plants, many of which went into compost bin. I began digging.

Busy digging the root plot, digging the kale plot, digging the sprout plot.

More digging...Until it was time to go home.

I love sprouts - No I don't.
What am I going to do with so many sprouts?

Most of the afternoon, I cooked away.

I decided on making these veggie pies, that I've dubbed as not 'pork' but 'snork pies', maybe even 'vork pies'. Whatever you choose to call them, its something that takes time to do, so make sure you have the phone off the hook when you begin the pastry process, you don't want someone disturbing you while your moulding the pastry with your fingers into the muffin tins, a process that is quite fiddly and took me a while to perfect.

I often make a batch of these pies with variation on the vegetables and freeze them for the coming working week meals. 

The recipe was inspired by the Vegetarian Society's spinach, corn and nut raised pie from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.

This is the vegetable fat I use for the pie crust.

You will also need two muffin tins or use two 7 inch cake tins. If cooking in 7 inch cake tin, it will take about 40 to 50 minutes to cook. Or you can half the recipe to make 8 individual pies or on 7 inch pie.
Not Pork Pies
Makes 16
For the filling
1 onion, finely sliced
375g Brussels sprouts, sliced into 3 to 4 pieces.
125g carrots, grated
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
150g Brazil nuts, ground
100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
280ml vegetable stock made with 1 teaspoon with bouillon powder
salt and pepper to taste

Hot Water Pastry
650g plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
200g vegetable fat - I use Trex
350ml water

1 whisked egg to brush over pastry or use olive oil to keep it vegan

Fry onion in the oil until soft and golden, add the sliced sprouts and cook until cooked through, but with a little bite. Add grated carrots and thoroughly mix. Leave to cool.

Mix together all the remaining dry ingredients for the pie filling, add the tamari or soy sauce and sufficient stock to combine with the sprouts and carrots till it is moistened through.

Salt and pepper to taste

For the hot water pastry, mix together the dry ingredients.

Melt the fat in the water and heat until about to boil.
Add the liquid to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed.

Now you have to work very quickly with your hands, as the dough will get cold and be tough to work with.

With your fingers mould a ball of pastry into the shape of the individual muffin holes leaving a bit of the pasty overlapping over, but not too much.

Then fill with the cooled filling, press in well.

Roll out the remaining dough, and using a cookie cutter about the size of the muffin hole, cut out required number of lids.

Place over the pastry filling tops, push over the overlapped pastry and gently fork so seal the casing.

Brush with egg wash or oil and make a small steam hole in each pie.

Bake in preheated oven Gas mark 7 for 20 to 25 minutes till golden.

Allow to cool before freezing.

To cook from frozen, cover in foil and bake in oven for 25 minutes gas mark 5.

These pies are very rich and flavoursome. They are good served with roast potatoes.

I will cut one open next week, so you can see what they look like on the inside. Promise.