Saturday, 31 May 2014

Extra Veg Round Up hosted by Shaheen

As host of Extra Veg Challenge for May 2014,  I asked you to share a savoury vegetarian or vegan dish.  And I am pleased to say that many of you did, before I kick off with the recipes, I would also like to thank  Utterly Scrummy Food and Fuss Free Flavours for giving me the opportunity to host Extra Veg as it has introduced me to some new fellow bloggers. 
#Extra Veg Blog Challenge May 2014

        Here are the 19 Veg-tastic contributors.
Green Vegetables with Halloumi Cheese by Mark's Veg Plot.
Black Bean and Sweetcorn Chilli by Onion and Paper.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Vegan Rhubarb, Vanilla and Pomegranate Tart

Remember the rhubarb that I harvested from my garden early this month?  Well, here is one pretty awesome dish that I made with some of it - Rhubarb Vanilla and Pomegranate Tart.  I am really really chuffed with it. 

Once the tart had cooled down and removed from its fluted tin, I thought it looked pretty plain and required something more to make it visually appealing.  Fortunately for me I had some pomegranate seeds in the fridge.  I decided to scatter some over the creamy vanilla tofu topping.  It gleamed and shimmered like edible rubies and looked absolutely beautiful.  But we all know that beautiful looking tarts, and a vegan one for that are not there just for the admiring, this tart had to be sliced carefully, first to see if it had set and yes it had.  And secondly for the taste test.
And I have to say, hand on heart it was very very good too.  My spoon hit the creamy vanilla tofu topping, then the soft rhubarb and then the hard crust. The rhubarb sitting at the bottom, did not make the pastry base soggy at all.  All in all the flavours and textures came together wonderfully.   

Monday, 26 May 2014

Vegan Orange and Lemon Poppyseed Cake Again

I've made vegan lemon and orange poppy seed cake many times in the past, see here and here; even Orange and Poppyseed Waffles.  So why on earth would I make the cake again?
because I'm need more zingy citrus inspiration.  In stead I find myself following some trusty old recipes.  Still these were very enjoyable to eat.  
   The only thing missing, was a bit of icing drizzle - maybe next time. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Vegan Savoury Croissants

D likes traditional croissants more than I do.  I can take them or leave them.

So what made me decide to go ahead and make a savoury version.  Well the truth is that I had some green  filling left over, and instead of lobbing it in the bin, I decided to slather some unbaked supermarket croissant dough with it.  Then baked them according to the packet instructions until puffed and golden.  
The savoury croissants were a hit with him, he requested that I make them again. I did.  
Only thing,  (I criticise myself too you know), I need more practice to master rolling the croissants into proper croissant shapes, so that they resemble those croissants you see piled high at French bakeries. 
But my excuse is that I covered the whole dough with the savoury filling and then rolled it up.  It was a fatty, making it more pigs in blanket, albeit a vegan version, than the elegant croissants that we are all used too.  Yes, I know not good enough excuse - yes Miss.  I will try harder next time round.  

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Crisp Crumbly Cocoa Biscuits

Unlike my husband who really really likes sweet things: biscuits, cookies, chocolate bars.  I don't reach out for sweet things, it tends to be savoury nibbles until of course I find myself in the biscuit section of the supermarket aisle, then sometimes, I emphasise sometimes I do get tempted by Mr Kiplings Viennese Whirls, a (not so) secret guilty pleasure, so last month when I saw Chocolate Viennese Biscuits on Lisa's blog I immediately bookmarked the recipe to make in the near future, well that day came much sooner than I expected.   
One of the little nephews requested some chocolate cookies.  And his wish my command, well an opportunity for me to try them out too. 

Every one who took one, took another nodding their approval.  Not too bothered that they were vegan.  The only comment I got from the littlest of my nephews, the one who had originally requested them was that 'they were too cocoa'.  Still, that did not stop him from scoffing three in on sitting.   

Savoury Nettle, Ground Elder and Spinach 'Eccles' Cakes

I've written about Eccles cakes on my blog in the past, but for those of you may not be familiar with Eccles cakes - I am happy to write about them again.  Eccles cakes are a particular kind of English cake. Individual flaky pastries filled with either currants or raisins, glazed and coated in crunchy sugar grains.   Eccles cakes are believed to have originated in a little place called Eccles, formerly within the Lancashire boundary but this has been debated by some food historians who argue that similar types of sweet patties were being made elsewhere in England.  To add to this, these sweet patties are known by different names. I’ve known them to be called Squashed Fly Cake, and even a Fly's Graveyard.  I’ve been told that they also exist in Scotland, but in a very different guise: simply as a fruit slice.  Something else of interest though, the word ‘eccles’ actually means church and is derived from the Greek word ‘Ecclestia' - Interesting, don't you think?!  

Well here is a savoury take on the sweet variety: made with Stilton cheese and my hedgerow scrummage of nettles and ground elder.  I also stirred in some spinach to the mix, only because I had some in the fridge.  The other reason, I highlight spinach it, if you don't have the opportunity to forage for some free wild foodie greens like nettles, wild garlic, mustard garlic or ground elder - then spinach will be a good alternative.    Anyway, back to this particular  savoury 'Eccles' cake - the pastry was light and flaky, (sometimes ready made comes in hand - yes even for me); and the filling was creamy and salty from the cheese, and silky from the sauteed robust greens. 
My preference for eating these savoury 'Eccles' cakes if definitely warm, but they would work well cold too, especially at room temperature. So perfect for taking to work for lunch or summer time picnics for those of you blessed with sunshine.  Talking of weather, the rain has been pelting down all day and the skies have been proper dark, even though its day-time, its feels like the evening.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Vegan Ginger Chocolate Cake

I've made this cake many times.  I actually remember the first time it passed my lips.  The texture was airy light, almost mousse like. However, a day later, the texture firmed up a little, still very tasty. 
The ginger in the cake certainly kicks you in the mouth on first bite; and wakes you up, just in case you were a tad tired.  Because its such an easy cake to knock up and affordable to make, especially as most of the ingredients are to hand in my kitchen store-cupboard, I am sharing this lovely vegan Ginger Chocolate Cake with lots of bloggers - virtually of course!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Plant sales

Whenever D and me go out for our adventurous exploratory drives every other  weekend, we pass by places with signs promoting community plant sales, but they are never open when we drive by.  

I somehow always feel like we lost out on something, but the truth is the garden plot is filling up slowly, that we won't really have space to accommodate other plants (unless put into pots), still I like looking - just to get inspiration. 
This picture was taken in Cowbridge, Wales a little while back. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Easy Peasy Asparagus and Courgette Pesto Tart

I made the most of what i had in my fridge a few days back.

The result an Asparagus, courgette and pesto Tart.
The asparagus was lightly steamed, then drained and put into a large bowl with sliced courgettes and a couple of tablespoons of green pesto.  Then the coated vegetables were carefully placed upon the uncooked puff pasty.  Just before being placed in the oven to be baked, you have the option of scattering over some grated cheese.
After 20 - 25 minutes, dinner was made.  This simple tart was served with some sauteed new potatoes. 

Monday, 12 May 2014

Rhubarb Revival

Just a short post as I have a few distractions this week and need to get my serious head down in preparation for them.  

I mentioned last month that my rhubarb was growing fantastically well, and here is the proof - Just look at these thick long stems shimmering in white, pink and lime green. I am so, so pleased.  Last year, I did not get to harvest many stems and they were also on the skinny side.  This year I have been bestowed with an armful and there is much more to come!  So excited, and I am not that much of a rhubarb fan, finding it a little too astringent, but D loves the stuff - so for him, I will be doing some cooking and baking. 
I don't know if I will be able to get through these just between the two of us, so some stems are going over to my family: for the nippers; some being turned into crumble tonight; some transformed into a preserve of sorts and some chopped up for the freezer.  

I am also always looking for new recipe ideas, so please if you have any suggestions they would be most welcome - sweet and savoury.  I am sharing this post with Daphne and Dandelions who is hosting Harvest Monday. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Caerphilly 'Just Like That'

The weather was predicted to be wet, windy and wild, yet that did not stop us from venturing out.  We decided to go into Caerphilly for the Caerphilly Food Festival.  I have to apologise in advance as I do not have many food related pictures.  Every time I would point the camera, the rain and wind would conspire against us, but that was nothing to what the stall holders had to endure.  It was quite horrid for them as the wind was really whacking, it was really strong with many stall holders holding onto the canopy sheltering their goods from every gust.  My heart went out to many of them, as they were looking really stressed.  

Despite being there early,  I somehow seemed to miss the food demonstration by The Great British Bake Off 2013 Winner Frances Quinn, but I did get a glimpse of her as she was busy talking to fans and signing autographs.  
Still, you'll be pleased to know that I did sample some lovely samples from the food festival, but don't have anything to show you - sorry. 
For those of you who follow my blog, know I like a bit of graffiti art, so I was excited to see this stunning  Green Goddess on the side of the building.  I wonder how many people look up?!  If you don't, it's so easy to miss.
I missed this 9 foot bronze statue of Tommy Cooper the last time I was in Caerphilly, silly really especially as its located opposite the castle, not this time though.   For those of you who may not be familiar with Tommy Cooper, he was born in Caerphilly and was a popular comedian and magician.  The statue was unveiled by Anthony Hopkins, another Welsh legend.
After walking through the High Street, we wandered around Caerphilly Castle.
Follow this link for photographs of Caerphilly Castle on a much nicer day. 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Rustic Asparagus and Purple Sprouting Broccoli Quiche

The asparagus season is so short, so for those of you who like them with a passion, you better get some soon.

Well my husband did not hesitate and picked up some at a reduced price at a supermarket and gave me a big hint to make a cheesy Quiche with them.  Who said 'real men don't eat Quiche?!1 Because I would strongly disagree.  It got me thinking when it was the last time I made Quiche at home, and I really couldn't remember.  So a quick blog search revealed that the last one I shared on my blog was  Summertime last year and it was a Caramelised Red Onion Brie Quiche made with home-grown strawberries. 
So his request albeit through a hint was accommodated.

Not only does this Quiche have asparagus, I also added in some blanched Purple Sprouting Broccoli. showcased In My Kitchen blog post.  

I couldn't be bothered to trim off the excess cooked pastry and in some places it had shrunk a bit, so I left it and decided to call it rustic - works, don't you think.  
Not only did this make for a good meal, there is plenty left over for him to take into work tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Savoury Jerusalem Artichoke Rice

The weather has been so changeable recently, one day the sun is shining and I am out in the gardening - sowing seeds, transplanting plants into the ground, building climbing frames for my legumes, the next its pouring with rain and I'm reaching out for my hot water bottle (yes, sometimes I can be a real wimp!).    And guess what, today its been drizzling.  

The last couple of times when its been wet and windy, I've come home and made Risotto, first Smoked Paprika with white PSB and and then Fennel and Black Olive Risotto.  It could have easily been another Risotto with the last Jerusalem Artichokes of the season, but I've made Jerusalem Artichoke and Parsley Risotto in the past and wanted to try something different, but it still had to be rice.  So I opted for a Pilau/Pilav style rice dish.
I know its not the most well presented dish, just dished up on the plate - but this is how real homely food is served and today, I am not in the mood for faffing about, as well as the fact that the natural lighting is just not conducive for food photography. 
This savoury rice dish is my take on a Pilau rice dish that my mother would make, I have just changed the ingredients in it.  I must say, my mother would just *throw in all the whole spices into the pot to infuse the rice.  It was quite normal for us to be pushing the cassia bark, cinnamon sticks to the side of the plate; or picking out the cloves and peppercorns, so the appearance of these inedible whole spices don’t bother me.  However, I understand not everyone is like me and may find them unsightly, even off putting.  So with the exception of the coriander and cumin seeds, you may wish to tie the spices in a muslin cloth whilst cooking and then remove it when serving up. 

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

In My Kitchen: Pot Stand

Last month I gave you a glimpse of some Welsh things in my kitchen, today I would like to share a handful of things: mostly edible.  But first this tall handsome pot stand, that D picked up for the  kitchen from a charity shop.  I like it, even though its for the kitchen, its actually not in the kitchen as there is no space there - its in the extension conservatory bit.
Next onto, edible things.  I haven't had coffee for a couple of weeks now, I have to say I am feeling a bit better for it.  In its place, I have been drinking low caffeine tea and lots of herbal Teas.  I've gone through the whole Clipper Fruit Infusions range in the last two months, (sorry no photograph) my favourite being Apple and Ginger; Orange and Coconut;  and Rosehip.  Now all I have is this Zen Again and a tub of Hot Chocolate too, for when the evenings feel a bit nippy. 
At the weekend I picked up some real bread from perhaps my favourite baker in South Wales Tortoise Bakery.  I treat myself every fortnight to a loaf of fresh hand-made bread, but this week it was two.  Olive Ciabatta and a Sourdough.  
I also picked up some purple sprouting broccoli - last of the season.
During the Easter weekend, we went into Bristol and stopped at an Oriental supermarket.  I wanted some silken tofu and D wanted Nori Wasabi coated peanuts (see below).  I also picked up some new things to try: Spicy vegetarian 'tofu' meat. 
And coloured Tapioca Pearls - I have one or two ideas what to do with them, but would appreciate if you have suggestions to share.
Finally, I have a tin full of raw chocolate that I made from scratch a few days ago when I attended a Raw Chocolate class.  Follow this link if you want to read more about it.  
In My Kitchen Series is hosted by Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  It is an opportunity for worldwide bloggers to share what is happening in their kitchen.  Please do go by and read about the other bloggers sharing what's going on in their kitchen - the heart of many homes!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Making and Eating Raw Chocolate

I've been feeling under the weather the past few weeks, and needed some natural up-lifting.  Well, a few days ago, D encouraged me to go and do something just for myself, something that would be a good distraction from the lows bringing me down.  

For those of you who know me through blog-reading, will know that I am not a chocolate fanatic, I' enjoy small morsels now and again, when the mood takes me.  However, I had recently read about raw chocolate classes and it got me kind of curious.  I've eaten raw chocolate in the past, I have to admit I wasn't that keen on it at first, but then with every small bite I developed a taste for it.  Still not mad about it, but like it enough to try and attempt making my own.  Well before I knew it I was at a Raw Chocolate class being taught on a one to one basis.  Raw chocolate base is made from raw cacao and cacao butter.  I was also introduced to lots of new ingredients, like mesquite powder (white carob), lucuma, purple corn flour, maca root powder, baobab powder and a number of others that escape my head. 

As well as coming home smelling sweet like chocolate, I came home with this impressive selection. You should have seen my reaction when the chocolate fell out effortlessly from the moulds. Totally amazing.  They are definitely an acquired taste, none of my nephews or nieces liked them, saying that they were too bitty.  I didn't mind them, nor did D - so plenty for us to enjoy over the next couple of weeks. 
Above heart-shaped coins enhance with lavender buds, purple corn flour, cacao nibs, carob powder, vanilla and maple syrup
  These shaped into butterflies and a flower have lucuma fruit powder and vanilla extract
 Sea shells with a hint of Himalayan Rose Pink Crystal Salt
And finally, Mint extract, some kind of seaweed powder (sorry can't remember the name at the moment) and carob powder .  
I am planning to go back in a month or so as it was a lovely distraction for the day. And I am planning to take along a stash of chilli flakes as I would like to make some red chilli and cacao raw chocolate. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Snail and slug trails

I mentioned in my last gardening post that its not all been good in the greenhouse, we have had slug problems.  We didn't have shelving/staging in the greenhouse, so most of the seedlings were set on the ground, I know we were asking for trouble but we had no other choice at the time.  

Well many of the seedlings on my Sowing the Seeds page, no longer exist (even those bestowed upon me by fellow bloggers), where their was once a seedling beginning to germinate, there is now a silver streaky trail eek

Yes, many of my seedlings including the sunflowers have been got at, by the slimey slugs and snails - I am ever so mift.  I was already three weeks behind on the growing front due to the house moving, now I have been pushed back a further three- four more weeks.  
Hand-crafted snail from Welsh coal
So as well as picking up mesh shelving, some slug pellets, I put my hands up and admit I am cheating as have also picked up some established vegetable plants like courgettes, squash, black kale, curly kale, tomatoes, borlotti beans, purple french beans and a number of others that escape my mind. 

I know some serious vegetable gardeners will shake their head, but I know most of you will understand.  So this year will be a mish mash of seedlings home-grown and not home-grown, but its got me started.  I don't want to be defeated by the slug trailers; and yes, I will still sow some of my own seeds - starting tomorrow, the garden nursery vegetable plants will just give me a head start.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

#Extra Veg Challenge May 2014 - Savoury Vegetarian

Early last the month, we were all being told that our 5 a day fruit and vegetable portion should be increased to 7 a day.  Well, I have to put hand on heart and say, even though I am a vegetarian, I don't always hit the 5 quota a day, sometimes not even the 3, but then there are days when I hit 10.  

Anyway, no preaching here.  I would like to announce today that I have the pleasure of hosting #Extra Veg this month.  Extra Veg challenge was launched by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours to encourage us to eat extra vegetables. 

#Extra Veg Blog Challenge May 2014

As my blog is 100% vegetarian, I would like to challenge you to come up with either a vegan or vegetarian savoury dish. This particular dish could be a tart, a quiche, a curry, a stew, a salad - anything as long as its Savoury and Vegetarian.  

For the Round Up Please Follow this Link.