Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Gratin of Cabbage with Puy Lentils

This 'Gratin of Cabbage with Puy Lentils' signals for me the start of Autumn.  Not just because of the golden colours, but also because its hearty and warming .
Gratin of Cabbage with Puy Lentils
Serves 4 - 6
Small cabbage, shredded
150g Puy lentils
For the tomato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coriander, freshly ground
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
Salt and pepper to taste
Small cabbage, shredded
150g Puy lentils
A slice of stale white or brown bread, processed to breadcrumbs
Optional: 30 – 40g cheddar cheese, grated
To make the tomato sauce, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the coriander and thyme, and cook for a couple of minutes, Now stir in the tomatoes, tomato puree and season with salt and pepper to taste. Leave to simmer down to a thick sauce, stirring occasionally – about 20 minutes.
Blanch the cabbage in boiling salted water for 5 minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside.
Cook the lentils in boiling water for about 30 minutes or until tender, then drain.
Mix the cabbage and lentils with the tomato sauce, and spoon into a shallow ovenproof gratin dish.
Mix the breadcrumbs and cheese if using, and scatter the mixture in an even layer. Bake for about 20 – 30 minutes until lightly golden. Serve hot. Adapted from Sophie Grigson’s Country kitchen

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Baked Tomato Orzo

I know it don't look that pretty, but it was okay for a easy evening meal.  By easy I mean, your not in the kitchen watching this bubbling away as its baked in the oven.

This 'Baked Tomato Orzo' actually reminded me of the oven baked tomato rice I've made before. If you want, feel free to serve it with a green vegetable such as broccoli.
I am submitting this to I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights #229. 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. However this week, PPN is being hosted by Ruth.

Baked Tomato Orzo
Serves 4
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
3 – 4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 x 400g tin tomatoes, chopped
1 pint vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of basil, minced or 1 teaspoon or dried
Salt and pepper to taste
200g orzo or similar pasta
Optional: fresh slices of tomato and Cheddar cheese for serving
Preheat oven to gas mark 5.
Heat the oil over medium heat, then add onion and garlic and cook until the onion starts to brown. Stir frequently while cooking. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the orzo and cheese if using. Bring to a boil, then stir in orzo and remove from heat. Spoon into a casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring twice during cooking time. Stir before serving, Top with tomatoes ans sprinkle lightly with cheese if using. Adapted from The Vegetarian Gourmet Bobbie Hinman.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Edinburgh Botanic Garden Jungle City

We had planned to see a little more of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, but with it winding down we changed our minds and headed to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh - the other bonus was with it being Sunday car parking was free, this made it cheaper for us than taking the train there and back to the West coast.
I've been to the Edinburgh Botanics a couple of times namely related to one of my previous employment roles working in the built heritage and natural environment - a job I really loved.  I also got the opportunity to host an event at the Botanics, but today was purely for pleasure.  The Garden was hosting Jungle City.  Jungle City is a charitable event of major  conservation impact, with the aim to raise funds for these endangered animals and their jungle homes.
Jungle City Edinburgh features a host of life-sized animals ranging from Elephants, Orangutans, Crocodiles, Hornbills and Tigers. 
There were over 130 individual and brightly painted animals.  Here are some that attracted our attention.  Click on them, to see them in a little more detail. 

Gothic Hornbill

Psychedelic Tiger

Homely Orangutan

BBC Scotland featured Jungle City Edinburgh on the news a little while ago, if your interested to see more follow here. Please note that the Jungle City exhibition is not permanent and is due to move elsewhere at some point.
You know I was very impresseed with the variety of leaflets at the Garden,  I picked up three that interested me allotment by Jules Horne - a show I know I would have enjoyed watching, but sadly it now has ended; Can You Dig It? Comedy Songs About Growing Your Own by Jo Stephenson & Dan Woods - made the veg grower in me smile! I may just have to get myself a copy when funds permit; and finally Edible Gardening Project.  Shame, there appears to be nothing like this happening at the Glasgow Botanics as I know I would have enjoyed all of these immensely.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Banana Blondies Go Nuts

I've had Brownies many times in my life, but never a Blondie!

It was D's first time too.
Well these blondies so named as they are made with white chocolate, instead of dark chocolate were creamy gold and squidgy soft like fudge .  I have to admit I found them extremely sweet.  Still I ate them, namely enjoying the milky nuttiness from the chunks of Brazil nuts and hint of banana.  As for D he liked them, but not as much as he likes the traditional chocolate brownies.  So I don't think I'll be making them again in a hurry.  Our preference is definitely for the dark chocolate brownies.

I also found them quite hard to photograph, still here they are for you to get an idea of what they look like.
Brazil Nuts and Banana Blondies
Makes 12
100g unsalted butter
200g good white chocolate
2 bananas
225g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
75g Brazil nuts, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to gas mark 5.  Line the base and sides of a 8 inch square baking tin with parchment paper.
Melt the butter and white chocolate in a double boiler or heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water.  Take off the heat.
Mash the bananas in another bowl and mix in the sugar, the egg and vanilla.  Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir until smooth.  sift in the flour and baking powder over the mixture, then fold in, together with the chopped nuts. 
Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 - 45 minutes until golden on top, with a slight wobbly middle.  Test with a skewer: its should come out with a crumb, not gloopy.  Place the tin on a wire rack and leave to cool until cold. This recipe is adapted from Tamasin Day-Lewis who in turn adapted it from Dan Lepard. 

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Spicy Scrambled Eggs

When my husband is away, I like to indulge by eating this 'Spicy Scrambled Egg Curry' known as Mirchi Anda ka Salan.  I know its not the prettiest, but for me its can certainly be one of the tastiest and one of my guilty food pleasures!  If you want you can also call it 'Indian Scrambled Eggs', I appreciate I have used the descriptive 'spicy' a lot in my blog header recipes.
The reason I indulge in it when my husband is away is because for some reason he doesn't like it.  I find this awfully strange as he really likes his eggs: whether it fried eggs, boiled eggs, omelette's or just plain scrambled eggs.  But to make this even more confusing, I actually don't like traditional omelette's or scrambled eggs, but I do like eggs scrambled in this manner - spiced up.  Saying that, I do have to be in the mood for it though as its not exactly healthy, but it is relatively speedy.  I often wonder what it is about this that D doesn't like?  I think it might be the smell of turmeric that puts him off, its too 'curry powder' like and cooking aromas linger in the air for a day or two; or maybe its the way the spicy scrambled eggs looks like on the plate like scrambled brains.  I can understand that as there are times when I don't find it particularly appealing.
Anyway, its relatively quick to make, perhaps that the reason we had it most weekends as children either for breakfast; or as homely 'fast food' when there was little else in the house to eat. 

Its best enjoyed with a roti aka chapatti, but that would have been to time consuming for me, so I made do with some store bought pitta bread. There are lots of versions of this recipe, but this one is mine. And if you want to be an absolute slob about it, don't even serve it in a plate. I dare you to eat is straight from the frying pan.  If nothing else, there will be one less dish to wash.  I am linking this to the Penny Worthy Project because this dish is also good to make on a budget, therefore making it a thrifty brunch.
Spicy Scrambled Eggs
Serves 1 or 2 if you want to share
80g salted butter
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 - 2 green chillies, sliced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
Salt to taste
1 - 2 eggs
1 generous tablespoon of coriander, roughly chopped
Melt the butter in a wide frying pan, add the onions, green chillies and spices and cook until he onions have softened and turned a golden colour.  Keep stirring it to prevent from sticking.  When the onions are soft, break in the egg(s) and whisk in eggs, so evenly coated with the heavily spiced fried onions.  Stir in the coriander and serve immediately.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Black Pepper Oatcakes

Its Friday night and tonight's light nibbles are 'black pepper oatcakes', (not all of them of course!).
It's virtually the same recipe for the wild garlic oatcakes, but in place of the wild garlic I've got freshly ground black pepper to pack a sobering punch.

I have to admit I was in bit of a daze and my first attempt at making these 'Black Pepper Oatcakes' totally bombed.  Not only did they not firm up, they didn't want  to stick.  So I had to chuck the whole mix in the bin and start again, before trying for a second time it dawned on me that I was using the wrong oatmeal.  I was using pinhead oats.  These were swelling and retained some bite that would make those of us with fillings a little nervous.  They would have been perfect for Scottish cranachan, but not so good for my homely oatcakes.  As soon as I noted my error, I replaced the pinhead oats with medium oatmeal and they worked like a well oiled sewing machine.  If you had been in the kitchen, you would have heard my sigh of relief.

Well I am off to enjoy some of these oatmeal bites with some cheese.  I bid you all: old and new readers, and those just passing by a good Friday night.
Black Pepper Oatcakes
Makes about 12
2 tablespoon butter
140ml boiling water
225g medium oatmeal, plus extra for rolling
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Generous grinding of freshly ground black pepper or to taste
Preheat oven to Gas mark 5.
In a measuring jug, add the butter, minced wild garlic and boiling water. Allow the butter to melt into the hot water.
Whilst the butter is melting, put the oatmeal, baking powder, salt and black pepper into a bowl, mix together and make a well in the centre. Pour the warm liquid into the well and mix together with a knife. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes for the water to thicken the oatmeal.
Then divide the mixture into two and lightly knead each piece on a board sprinkled with oatmeal. Roll out each and cut into 5 – 6 pieces. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp and lightly golden. Best eaten within a day or two.

Dreaming of Britanny

Around this time last year, I was on holiday in South Finistere in the Bretagne region of France

Early this year, we had planned to take a camping trip around France and Brittany.  We had even purchased a book of campsites around France, but sadly with things happening outwith my control, it has got pushed further and further into the background.
 So instead I am taking a trip down memory lane of our last holiday with the nephews.
I don't think I shared some of the foodie related treats I bought back with me, so here are some: tea towels; popular Mama Goudig moulds
 A tin of biscuits; some crêpe related gadgetsr and a recipe cookbook.
D was rather taken by Mam' Goudig, so here are a number of other novelty things such as toppers, an ingredient board, salad bowl and an enamel mug for hot apple cider.  As well as Black Buckwheat flour, cider and some tiny serving cider cups.
Edible purchases were violet jam, violet syrup, rose liqueur, mint syrup and sea salt. 
I have to be honest and tell you that I still have not opened the first three.  Naughty really.  I better check out the sell by date.