Friday, 31 July 2015

Five on Friday

I've only recently discovered Five on Friday hosted by Love Made My Home, but my timing is terrible as this is the last one for a little while as there will be a Summer break.  I am pleased to read that it will continue in September again, but I thought it was better to start now than not at all.  So here are five things in my home that has brought a smile to my face this week
The first ones are ornamental fruit caricatures representing pineapple, orange, raspberry, apple (I think) and strawberries. I've recently rediscovered them tucked away in a shoebox wrapped up from our house move last year.  I picked them up from a charity shop in Scotland a few years back.  I sometimes use them as cake toppers.  I had completely forgotten about them.  
Two, when I moved from our rented accommodation to our new own home just over a year ago, I was sad to be leaving behind my thriving rhubarb plant (which I did actually end up digging out and putting it into our new home garden), herb patch and edible flower patch. Flowers like violets, violas and primroses, but its the violas (heartsease) that I missed the most as they were purple and white and garnished cakes and sweet things beautifully.  I have finally a new lot, in golden and autumnal colours growing in pots, but no purple violas yet. They will come. 
Three, a tasty breakfast treat.  I've been thoroughly enjoying these home-made Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Flapjack Cake slab slices.  I will share the recipe next week, but the nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon are really fragrant and send you off in a happy daze. Its sets me up in a good smiley mood.  
Four, I had recently made some Berbere - an Ethiopian Spice Blend.  I have been making the most of it, by cooking up some Ethiopian and Eritrean inspired meals at home, including one with spaghetti.  The spice blend without sounding silly is quite spicy.  I love it. 
And five, a herb pot in the shape of a elephant from a Fair trade shop, but one I have not used much as I can't seem to find herb pots that fit into it snuggly, so it has been given a new lease of life recently as a scented candle holder instead.  Please do pop on over to Five on Friday hosted by Love Made My Home to see what other blogger have shared.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Fresh Strawberry Scones of Sorts

These free form soft fruit berry scones may not look fabulous, but they were rather nice.

I made them a couple of weeks back with the last of my garden strawberries.  These as you can see are not traditional British style scones, but are American style cut into triangular shapes.  
I have to admit that I added a little to much milk, the dough was a little sloppy.  So even though it doesn't look very attractive, it was good to eat and I'd be happy to bake them again.  
For the recipe follow this link.

Monday, 27 July 2015

How Green is my Valley?

For all my gardening and vegetable growing readers, this blog post is especially for you.  I know you think that I have abandoned the roots of this blog as I no longer have an allotment plot, but I would like to assure you that I am once again growing again, this time in my garden, and more importantly my  enthusiasm for gardening is returning. albeit very slowly.  I thought I would share an up-date of how green my garden is right now.
The variety of tomatoes in the green house seem to be in the most part doing well.  We are still a couple of weeks before we get to harvest the first red or yellow ones. 
The apple tree (not shown) has a handful of apples, many have been knocked down by the strong winds and the pear tree (also not shown) has produced nothing, so we will be digging that out later in the year.  But the plum tree (above) is producing well, the plums are hard like pebbles.
This is my blueberry bush, its doing well.
I think in the next couple of days I will be harvesting my first couple of courgettes.  I am also growing a yellow variety too, but they are only just beginning to catch up. 
Here are my climbing beans, compared to my two neighbours (both two doors down) mine are halfway up the canes, whereas theirs are right at the top and covering the canes and well flowered.  I know why ours are so behind, because we put them into the ground ate.  Still hoping they will catch up and rewards us with some.  On these canes are also Borlotti beans, my first time growing them, but to be truthful I am not optimistic.
Look closely from the front is black kale aka Tuscan Kale or Dinosaur Kale, behind it are three types of broccoli, the bushy variety that I harvested last week and am seeing side shoots growing, as well as white and purple sprouting broccoli. There is also nasturtium, that has been doing well in the ground last year.  Last year, I tried to grow them in hanging pots, and they failed.  
Here we have Brussels Sprouts,they seem to be doing well.  I know I need to put the netting over it to deter the white cabbage butterfly, but the netting is so blue, that I haven't got round to it concerned that it will make the garden look ugly, but what do I want, nice looking garden or healthy brassicas - both really, but the latter mostly.  
If you look close and past the weeds, you will see some spring onions here.  
And finally Rainbow Chard,  There is more grorwing in pots, but I hope this has given you some insight into my garden vegetable growing progress.
For Harvest Monday, well other than the raspberry canes still producing, this fat spring onion aka scallion is the only vegetable I harvested at the weekend; and oh I mustn't forget some edible flowers that have been serving more as garnish than anything else.  I am sharing this blog post with Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest Mondays.  

Tamale for Breakfast with Eggs Over Easy

I make Mexican Style Tamale Pies every other month and it is perhaps my favourite weekend brunch or morning breakfast.  I often describe it as a Mexican Shepherds Pie, the bottom is made from soy mince, borlotti or pinto beans and mixed peppers and spices, and in place of the mashed potato, we have polenta.  It is utterly delicious and comforting.
I usually eat this Polenta Pie on its own with sometimes a dollop of Sriracha sauce, but then there are weekends when I want a little bit extra on my plate, I will serve it with a fried free range egg - done over easy, where the rich yolk serves as the sauce.  By the way the above breakfast plate belongs to D, I can only eat one Tamale - not D he has a much bigger appetite than me.
I am sharing these Tamale Pies with Dom over at Belleau Kitchen for Simply Eggcellent: Breakfast  Challenge: How Do you Like Your Eggs in The Morning.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Handful of Green and Red Tomato Recipes

There have been years when tomatoes from our greenhouse were plentiful, then other years when blight has struck, this year though I have to say looks a little more promising, but not on the scale as when we had an allotment and two greenhouses on it.  And of course I've made many recipes with fresh tomatoes, such as a Tomato Sauce, Tomato Soupsvegetarian Tomato Lasagne and a variety  of Tomato Chutneys.

So with the promise of fresh tomatoes this year, I thought I would share a handful of Green and Red Tomato recipes from my blog.  
I begin with these Sweet and Savoury Tomato Spring Rolls
Tomato Farinata with roasted aubergines and black olives
Tomato and Cauliflower Bake 
Oven Roasted Red and Yellow Za'atar Roasted Tomatoes
Tomato, Potato and Rosemary Bake
And finally this Green Tomato Chutney,  although I'd also recommend this Green Tomato and Coconut Curry. 
A little late in the week, but I am sharing this Tomato related blog post with The Veg Hog who is hosting a Tomato Festival - celebrating all things tomato. 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Persian Style Cauliflower Stew with Advieh

I've not heard of Advieh until quite recently.  Its a Persian  Spice Blend.  
 I don't claim this to be authentic in any way, but it introduced me to the the flavours of advieh. Although it looks like garam masala, its not spicy at all - imparting a slight sweetness, I guess from the cinnamon.  

I am looking forward to checking out some of my Middle Eastern Cookbooks for recipes that make the most of advieh,  but this dish was fine and welcomed on a day like today when the rain has not stopped, its been a continuous drizzle making you feel like a soggy sock.  Tucking into this Persian Stew made me a little radiant. 
I served it with pickled chillies and couscous instead of rice for a change. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Cherry, Raspberry and Strawberry aka Three Berry Pancakes

I made these sweet little fluffy red berries pancakes at the weekend for lunch, yes lunch.

The raspberries and strawberries came from our garden and the cherries foraged by one of my neighbours who was chatting to D in the street as he parked his car.  The neighbour asked D a leading question 'Do you like cherries?....I tell you why.....we have loads' and before D knew it, he was bestowed with more than a bowl full.  
So gloriously red berries have been on the menu pretty much every day.  
Just look at how light, fluffy and puffy they look and they tasted superb too. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Broccoli Heads, Soft Fruits and Sweet Bites

Ah yes, I do have some raspberries and strawberries to share for my Monday Harvest, but you will also be pleased to note that I have also harvested some green veg from the garden. 
My first lot of bushy broccoli heads.  These have already been consumed and enjoyed. 
Some of you may be interested in my day trip to the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmathenshire.  

I especially liked the Ghost Forest which highlights deforestation and depletion of the worlds natural resources. 
  So here are some of my homegrown Strawberries and raspberries
Our neighbours gave us some cherries that they had foraged whilst on their walks.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Shaun The Sheep in the City of Bristol

Yesterday we decided to go into the city of Bristol.  
As we walked out of the car park onto the main shopping centre, we realised that the city had been invaded by Shaun (the Sheep) in the City.  I snapped a few Shaun the Sheep, the (first one) above Shaun on the Cob was my favourite as it was shaped like a sweetcorn, there was also Jasberry Ram (Raspberry), Melonie (Melon) and even Tutti Frutti, but I didn't spot those, not that I was on the trail or anything, but you could see plenty of little ones were.    
We stopped first to have a bite to eat, not a full blown vegetarian breakfast, but something light and tasty.  We stopped at Royce Rolls in St Nicholas Market.  I had a savoury slice and D had a sausage roll.

Then we headed towards the Bristol Harbour.  It was real busy there with the Bristol Harbour Festival.  We wandered around the harbour area for a little while, but eventually winded our way back to St Nicholas Market for more vegetarian eats, this time falafels from Eat A Pitta.  I like their falafels, but this time found them a little rough around the edges that my throat felt a little scratched, still tasty enough and to say how good they are, even D enjoys them.  In the past he has averted falafels calling them 'feel awfuls', referring to the after effects of beans, but not with these, so that is a sign of approval.   

Friday, 17 July 2015

Za'atar Cauliflower, Sweet Potato Wedges with vegan Coriander 'Meatballs'

Za'atar Cauliflower, Sweet Potato Wedges with vegan Coriander 'Meatballs' drizzled with Lemon Tahini sauce and some light greens (not shown).   
This made for an interesting plate of food, although the sweet potatoes were a l little overcooked, as D ended up being on the phone longer than expected.  I served this meal with a light green salad, as you can see the vegetables had a light drizzling of lemon tahini sauce, but I was a little disappointed with it.  The flavours were spot on, it was just a little on the thin side and could have benefited from a little more tahini, but I had none as it was the bottom of the jar.  I will have a go at making it again.

I especially liked how the za'atar oil infused and got in between the cauliflower florets.  

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Vegan Aquafaba Meringue Strawberry Mess

I had a go at making some vegan meringues a few weeks back, not with an expensive vegan egg substitute but with the inexpensive ingredient of chickpea brine and by gosh they were successful on my first attempt.  The only thing, I didn't get a photograph of the perfectly formed ones for a number of reasons.  I was so darn excited and impressed that I wanted D to try them immediately and share them the following day with some friends who also happen to be vegan, as I so wanted to amaze them as much as I was, but also get their verdict and truthfully I made them late in the afternoon when they came out of the oven it was dark. It was only later that I realised that I had not taken a photograph of my first ever perfectly shaped vegan meringues.  

The only vegan meringues I had left were the ones that didn't hold well, but on reflection they were still fine looking more like vegan macarons than pancakes and had I had thought of it, I would have whipped up some coconut cream or vegan cream cheese for the sweet filling, but I did not.  Instead I decided to crumble them for what I have called Vegan Meringue Strawberry Mess hidden beneath the vegan meringues, are fresh strawberries and beneath them is Strawberry Chia Jam.
I learned about aquafaba that is chickpea brine meringues a few months back from various vegan food bloggers, who to credit first would be unfair, but I have to admit, I was totally amazed at how tinned chickpea liquid can mimic egg whites.  If your curious to learn more about Aquafaba, then here is a link to dish to Vegan Meringues - Hits and Misses.  Worth exploring regardless. 
I made my first batch and gave D a plate full, not telling them they were vegan and moreso not telling him that they were made from chickpea water.  He gobbled them all up quite effortlessly, and was super impressed when he learned that they were vegan.  I had some too, well more than a couple and oh my how delightful - how they melted in my mouth like the real thing.  I know some bloggers reported that they could taste the beany aftertaste from the chickpeas, but I have to admit I could not detect this, so I was rather pleased. They do not have a good shelf life though and perhaps are best eaten within a couple of days. 

I have to admit the only thing about making these was the time it took to whisk to a whippy texture. It felt like it took forever to whisk with my hand held whisker, but it was getting there surely, thickening slowly with every whipping whisk.  I am hoping to make these again, and I promise to share them in all their shimmering glitzy glory next time.  Thank you so much to the vegan community, though I am not a vegan, I do appreciate and adore many vegan recipes and this is such a s clever one to have in your repertoire.  My lovely vegan friends are in for a real treat.  Let the aquafaba home experiments commence.  I am sharing this with Lauren and Danielle for Fabulous Foodies Fridays #60.  

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Mexican Style Rice, Achiote Tempeh 'Steaks' and Guacamole

I made this Mexican Style Rice, Achiote Tempeh 'Steaks' and Guacamole some time last week.  What day it exactly was I cannot remember, but I know it was warm and I thought, this was a good dish to enjoy eating out in the garden.
I had been given some Recado Rojo aka Achiote (Annato) Paste a long while back by a fellow blogger.  And it is her recipe suggestion that I have followed for the marinade, she called it Pibil. 
There was something Tandoori paste like about the achiote paste, but it was not as highly seasoned, spiced or particularly fragrant.  It did however impart a fantastic muddy red saffron colouring to the tempeh.  I have used annatto seeds in the past, mostly for the vegan chorizo sausages that require annatto infused oil, of course I made my own Annatto infused oil (and in the future I will have a go at making my own Achiote Paste too).  
Tempeh has always been a bit of a hit and miss with me, but I have to admit, I had not had this brand of tempeh before and if was soft and moist, whereas tempeh that i have had in the past have been quite firm and the soy beans texture was too prominent.  

Okay, I don't have a recipe as such for this Mexican plate, but here is what I did.  For the Achiote Tempeh had been marinating overnight in the sauce: 25g of the 100g packet of achiote with 100ml orange juice, a couple of cloves of garlic, minced and a dash of lime.  Combine well, then coat the sliced tempeh slices on both side and leave to marinade.   The following day, I baked them in the oven, flipping it over halfway so both sides were cooked for 20 - 25 minute. 

I cooked plain white Basmati rice in advance and allowed it to cool down.  Heat a little oil  in a pan, then saute an onion that has been sliced and a couple of garlic cloves that have been crushed until soft.  I then stirred in some cooked black beans (left over from a previous dish), sweetcorn from a can, minced jalapenos from a jar and a pinch of red chilli flakes and lots, and I mean lots of fresh coriander until it began to smell all wonderfully fragrant, finally I stirred in the cooked rice. 
Served with home-made guacamole and optional soured cream.  It was quite good, delicious in fact.  I had some Mexican style rice left over, so took it into work for lunch the following day.  It worked well cold (room temperature) too I am sharing this with Jac over at Tinned Tomatoes for Meat Free Mondays; and also to No Croutons Required hosted this month by Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen,

Monday, 13 July 2015

National Botanic Garden of Wales

At the weekend we drove to the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmathenshire.  
So I warn you in advance, this blog post is jam packed with photographs of our garden walk,  enjoy.