Thursday, 7 June 2012

Carrot Soup with Tamarind Swirl

I can't believe that its June and I am craving for a bowl of tangy soup.  Part of the reason is this crazy indecisive weather.  I don't know what its like where you are, but here in Wales it has changed from rain to shine, shine to rain within moments.  I mean yesterday, I left the house with a coat on as it was raining quite heavy, by the time I got into the town centre the sun was blazing and many people were donning T-shirts and naked legs, I most definitely felt overdressed, but not today - its very, very breezy outside.  In fact, its similar weather to that day when I lost my plastic greenhouse and compost bin.

I am so glad I don't have any physical running around to do today for my upcoming venture and can stay happily indoors.  However, this doesn't mean I haven't got loads of things running through my brain, so instead of making the most of my free day lazing in front of the computer; or TV with a DVD as I have done most of the week, I got on with a bit of cooking and stirring of pots.   
One of the dishes that I completed earlier was this sweet Carrot Soup. I know Carrot Soup, doesn't sound that exciting and I guess its not, but if I mention it with Tamarind, it may just peak your interest. I personally love the flavour of tangy tamarind, there is something just soothing about it, the way lemon soothes when you have a bit of a sore throat. 
I like this soup bowl, I got it a couple of years ago when I went to Paris for the first time ever.  It only comes out now and again; and has appeared on this blog a couple of times already.
I will happily share with you my recipe for this particular carrot soup, just ask - but you will find that there are a number already on this blog. 
Carrot and Thyme Soup
Carrot and Coriander Soup
Carrot and Potato Soup
Plus, I think most people have a good recipe of their own.  As for the Tamarind sauce - see below.  I am linking this simple recipe with Frugal Follies who is hosting Frugal Thursday.
Tamarind Sauce
Makes about 100ml - 120ml
1teaspoon tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
100ml vegetable stock
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Method Combine all the ingredients except for the tomato paste in a small saucepan.  Simmer on medium heat for a few minutes, then stir in the tomato paste.  Simmer for a few minutes more until the sauce begins to thicken.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
When cool, pour into a squeezy bottle and use over each bowl of soup.  Simply squeeze and drop a few droplets into the bowl, and then with a spoon just swirl.  Nice.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Savoury Beetroot Loaf Wrapped in Beetroot Leaves

Early this afternoon, I had decided to make some more Leafy Beetroot Bites as they were very moreish, however when I found myself in the kitchen staring at the beetroot and its leafy greens, I changed my mind and decided to make something else - a Savoury Beetroot Loaf wrapped in beetroot leaves - a bit of an experiment, shall I say. 
And I am pleased once again to report it worked out rather well.
After a taster bite - cooks treat, my first impression of this was very good.  I can only describe it as a healthy baked spicy fritter, but unlike those hand held morsels, these have to be eaten off a plate with a knife and fork. 
Then my thoughts turned to how was I to serve these, when the phone rant.  It was my brother telling me he was coming over to drop some homemade Pilau rice and minty yogurty sauce. How fortunate for me, as both these additions turned this mini beetroot loaf into a filling meal.
Its up to you if you wish to wrap them in the beetroot leaves, although it gives them a two-tone effect, I have to admit they can be a tad fiddly, so its up to you if you want to make them with or without.  As I mentioned earlier, I had the leaves still in tact, so wanted to find a way of using them, also noone can accuse me of wasting.  I can be a thrift soul when I put my mind to it.
You can easily make this recipe in a loaf tin, but as I do have mini loaf tins, I opted for individual portions. These can be served either warm or at room temperature.  I am linking this recipe to  June's edition of Simple and in Season, a monthly event created by Ren Behan at Fabulicious Food. This month it is being hosted by Laura at How to Cook. 
Savoury Beetroot Loaf Wrapped in Beetroot Leaves

Serves 6
2 - 3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus extra for greasing loaf tin(s)
1 large onion, peeled and minced
200g - 250g raw beetroot, peeled and grated
1large potato, grated
1 - 1½ tablepoons garam masala
½ teaspoon cayenne or chilli powder
6 - 10 beetroot leaves, to line the loaf tin(s), any extra beetroot leaves should be shredded
100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
Salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven at gas mark 4/180oc.  First line the loaf tin or individual tins with greased baking parchment paper.  Then coat with additional oil. Now carefully arrange the beetroot leaves into the loaf tin, its okay if it overlaps.  Then evenly spoon out the beetroot mixture into the loaf tin or between the mini loaf tins.  Turn the overlapping beetroot leaves over, so they cover the filling.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes for mini loaves; or 45-50 minutes for the larger version.  Allow to cool, before turning out and serving. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Fairtrade Banana Flapjacks

I'm ordinarily a muffin and mug of coffee breakfast kinda girl, but lately flapjacks have been finding their way on my breakfast menu, or at snack attack times.  I also have a 10 year old nephew who adores flapjacks so I partly made some to share with him and his cousins. 

I've made banana fair trade banana flapjacks before: a variation with sesame seeds and sultanas; and another with flaked coconut.   However the recipe below make a large dense variation.  One bite and you know you've been smacked in the face with a banana shake!  I mean, these are seriously bananaree - if such a word exists!?
To make these Bananaree flapjacks look a little pretty and appealing to the eyes, I decided to slice one half of the bananas and pressed them gently into the top.  This gives the onlooker an indication of what's in the oaty slab cakes too.
I am sharing some of these banana flapjacks with the Breakfast Club #22, founded and hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours. The theme this month is Fairtrade and for this recipe I have used fairtrade bananas.  I did nearly add some fairtrade chocolate to these, but then decided to keep them purely banana.
Banana Flapjacks
Makes about 16
250g butter
100g golden caster sugar
150g golden syrup
2 ripe fairtrade bananas, mashed (keep back half a banana if you wish to press some into the oaty mixture)
425g rolled oats
Preheat oven to gas mark 4 or 180oc.
Grease a medium sized baking tray.  My tin measured 8inch by 8 inch with greaseproof paper.  In a large saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, golden syrup and mashed bananas.Take of the heat, then evenly stir in the oats.
Using a spatula, carefully turn out into the baking tray and spread out evenly.  Gently press down down the sliced bananas if using. Place the tray in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the sides are golden. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool, before slicing.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Leafy Beetroot Bites

I know in the very near future I will be harvesting my own homegrown beetroot, but right now I must say I am fortunate to find beetroot with its vibrant leaves still in tact.  This beetroot comes from just across the Welsh border.  Chances are if you are purchasing from a supermarket these will be lopped off.  A shame, as beetroot leafy tops are edible and full of beta carotene, calcium and iron, which is great in salads or cooked simply like Swiss chard or spinach. 
Early this afternoon, I went a a step further and decided to shred some of the leafy tops and add them to my beetroot batter for deep frying. 

These beetroot bites are a bit like pakoras aka bhajis made with potatoes and spinach, but these do not have much in the way of spices. Feel free to add cumin, coriander and chilli if you so wish. Today I just wanted to let the beetroot flavour shine here. And they were most welcome, dipped in soured cream as nibbles. 
I know its not Friday, but with the Queen's Jubilee, lots of families are getting together for the long weekend.  So I am sharing some of these deep red morsels with Family Friendly Fridays.    June's edition of Family Friendly Fridays is being hosted by Solange over at Pebble Soup on behalf of Ren over at Fabulicious FoodThis recipe is also linked to Just Another Meatless Monday hosted by What's for Dinner Mom? and Jill at Real Food Forager who is hosting Fat Tuesday 5th June 2012. 
Beetroot  Bites
You will need a deep fat fryer for this recipe
200g raw beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated

50 g beetroot leaves (or spinach), washed and finely sliced
1 small onion, finely sliced
Optional: 2 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander (or parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste
100g gram flour
Mix the beetroot, beetroot leaves, onion and herb together. Season, then mix in the gram flour to combine. Cover and refrigerate for  30 minutes to an hour.
Stir again, heat oil.  Drop a a few tablespoons of the beetroot batter into the oil and fry in batches until golden on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.  Serve immediately.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Raw Beetroot and Chocolate Almond Brownies

Nowadays, lots of chef spout that it is their mission to re-introduce beetroot to the masses and therefore have tried to come up with inventive and innovative recipes to appeal even to the carnivorous and it certainly has worked. As over the past five years or so, the beetroot has re-emerged in a number of appealing disguises, whether its savoury such as: beetroot risotto, beetroot fritters; or sweets such as: beetroot cake, beetroot muffins, beetroot ice-cream and of course, beetroot and chocolate brownies - how can one resist?!

Well, I have to admit, I have delved into lots of beetroot recipes over the past 10 years, but have been lazy at making my own Beetroot Chocolate Brownies at home, simply because they were appearing at most eateries I frequented. However this was to change this week, when I picked up another bunch of beetroot still with red vein leaves in tact.  Sadly, the heat of the recent sunshine quickly affected the freshness of the beetroot leaves so this was discarded.  Also the beetroot skin was starting to soften too, so rather than lob it in the compost bin - I thought it was about time I had a go at making some Beetroot and Chocolate Brownies at home. Call it my laziness, but I did not bother boiling or roasting the beetroot and simply grated and added it raw to the chocolate batter. It made a wonderful difference, compared to other Beetroot brownies I've enjoyed in the past, this one not only retained its red velvet colouring, I noted that there was a bit more chew to the brownie too. I liked it.  More so my mother Loved it, so much so - she did not share her generous piece with her grandchildren and that action itself speaks volumes. 
I know many fellow bloggers are familiar with Beetroot and Chocolate Brownies, thanks namely to Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall - a food inspiration of mine since his days as host for TV Dinners, but I have to admit, I was introduced to the chocolate and beetroot combination a long while ago when trying to get my head round eating beetroot, I think it may have been thanks to a vegetarian chef called Nadine Abensur. 

Also one of the first blogs, I came across showcasing 'Beetroot in a Chocolate Brownie' was this one and the author acknowledged discovering the recipe in Cuisine Gourmande . I especially liked the fact that she used raw beetroot.   I also saw a Beetroot Brownie Cake recipe in a cookbook previous to Hugh's, unfortunately I cannot think which veggie cookbook it was, and it is simply for this reason that I decided to go ahead and make a slight variation of Hugh's recipe.
I am sharing this recipe with Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes. Jacqueline is hosting Junes Edition of Bookmarked Recipes: a monthly blog event initiated by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments. I have seen the recipe reproduced on a number of blogs, so as well as providing a link to the original recipe below, I have decided to go ahead and share it here, with my very slightly adapted alterations.
Raw Beetroot and Chocolate Almond Brownies
Makes 10 squares if you want big indulgent greedy slices; or15 pieces if your being very good.
250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
200g plain chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
250g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
150g self-raising flour (we use wholemeal self-raising)
Pinch of salt
50g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped  (optional)
250g raw beetroot, peeled and grated
Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170oc. Lightly grease a baking tin that's roughly xx. Line the bottom with  baking paper too.
Put the cubed butter and chocolate into a bain marie or heatproof bowl and melt the chocolate and butter in the bowl held over a pan of simmering water.
In another bowl, whisk the golden sugar with the eggs. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Sift in the flour and salt, stir gently, folding in  the (optional) almonds and beetroot. Pour carefully into the prepared tin.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Be very careful not to overcook the brownies. Remove from the oven, then stand the tray on a wire rack until cool enough to cut into squares.  Slightly adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls recipe here.