Sunday, 31 July 2016

#EatYourGreens July Round Up

Welcome to July's Round up of Eat Your Greens.  We have 6 super vegetarian and vegan recipes, all very different and all perfect for summer eating out in the garden.   
The first recipe comes from Beth who blogs over at BLT in MT with Grilled Bok Choy and Spicy Vinaigrette served with Macaraoni Yum - yes, its vegan too.  Beth has used homegrown bok choy in stir fries, but also smoothies, but she writes grilling it is perhaps her favourite way of eating it.  I will have to try this way of cooking bok choy as I never have.

Friday, 29 July 2016

5 Things I Love About Wales and Yes there will be Dragons

The National Eisteddfod officially starts today, so I thought I'd share a blog post about 5 Things that I personally love about Wales.  

Actually there are lots of things that I love about Wales I will start with 5.  
First and foremost, I love our Welsh flag, the Red Welsh Dragon standing proud on green lush land.  It is a flag that does not intimidate but boasts pride, strength and stance.  
We love our Red Dragon so much we stamp him on everything to remind you where you are just in case you forget your in Wales; and if your not - its to remind you of Wales.
I have Welsh flag bunting in my garden, in the kitchen on my apron, pint glasses and mugs I drink out of  and even a cookie cutter.
Second the fantastic and magical Castles, whether it's raining or shining, Welsh castles light up naturally against the beautiful glorious Green lush backdrop of spectacular scenery found all over Wales.  

In the past I have  shared 5 Welsh Castles: Harlech Castle, Caerphilly and Chepstow.  There are so many castles and ruins to explore in Wales.  Did you know that Wales has more castles per square than any other county in the world.
Now onto number  three: Welsh Dragons.  Welsh Dragons come in many magnificent shapes and sizes and guess what?! Some of our dragons do actually breath fire - for real!
Meet Dewi the Dragon: Guardian of Castle Harlech, Dewi is 16-foot long, 11ft high and 10 ft wide metal sculpture. 
A little while ago, I stumbled upon  the fantastical  Ebbw Vale Dragon in Blaenau Gwent.  This steely dragon was part funded by the European Union.  He is made from thousands of individual stainless steel scales.  He certainly does have a presence in the town centre, just look at those claws.

Recently Caerphilly Castle welcomed a new reptile like red and black scaled dragon which measures four metres long , he has an outreached claw and smoke flaring nostrils.   This dragon was sadly only temporary making an appearance for the Welsh v England Six Nations game, so I have not met him yet, but I haven't given up yet.
Now I introduce you to more gentler dragons that have come and gone are these Super Dragons spotted in Newport Gwent a few years back.
This is a Canary Dragon inspired by Tweety Pie a Loony Tunes character. 
I am sharing this particular photograph of a Punk Welsh Dragon with My Sunday Photo hosted by One Dad 3 Girls.

The Welsh are happy to even laugh at themselves, check out these not particularly good graffiti art sprayed dragons, but humorous nonetheless.  
Even our first money saving boxes are shaped like dragons (not piggy banks).  So you can see why I marvel at Welsh dragons. 
Now onto number 4 and one of my reasons for loving Wales: The Warm Welsh Welcome!

As I said at the beginning its the start of the National Eisteddfod.  The Eisteddford is a celebration of Wales and Welshness, of our culture, priding ourselves on our countrys achievements and of the notion of belonging  to a community.  The Welsh are the best when it comes to showing 'A Warm Welsh Welcome' and a poignant moment in history of this Warm Welcome was the way Welsh Miners in south Wales embraced Paul Robeson.  

Paul Robeson was a black American actor, singer, civil rights campaigner and lawyer who moved to Britain in the 1920s and his love affair with Wales began.  Robeson met with south Wales miners and realised that the struggle and oppression in Wales was just the same as that being endured by Black people in America. 

The Welsh, especially the miners embraced Paul Robeson's version of Land of My Fathers which he was invited to sing at the Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale, 1958.  Just listening to Paul Robesons rendition of Land of My Fathers takes my breath away. 
My interest in Hidden Black history was peaked and I was well on the way to my chosen vocation in life: Welsh ethnic and cultural diversity.  I never got to write my own book on hidden black history in Wales and the contributions of people of colour in Wales as I moved to Scotland, but am proud that one was finally published: Cymru Ddu: Black Wales: A History. 
Cymru Ddu: Black Wales: shares the hidden history of of black presence in Wales since the 16th century, the Welsh involvement in the slave trade and the emergence of minority ethnic communities at Wales many ports.   Although the majority of Wales voted out of the European Union: BREXIT,  I would still like to think that most of is welcoming, if not tolerant. 

And finally - number five,  a good Welsh Cakes - how can you not love a proper bakestone Welshcake! 
This blog post is being shared with Amy who is hosting Five on Fridays over at Love Made My Home

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Roasted Balsamic Beetroot Carpaccio with Capers and Rocket

This is a vegan take on 'Beef' Carpaccio.  The beef is replaced with floppy slithers of roasted balsamic beetroot.
I know this plate looks sparse, but this is a starter - a light teaser before you are served your main meal.
As well as the sharp tangy velvet slices of beetroot, on the plate you will also find fronds of green pickings from the greenhouse.  Gosh, I do wonder why I don't make more of an effort to grow salad greens, they are just so much more tastier and punchier than those you pick up from the supermarket. And capers, roughly chopped for piquancy.  Enjoy.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Viva Vegan Venezuelan Black Beans with Panela

One of the reasons I wanted to make this recipe for Venezuelan Black Beans was the fact that the recipe used Panela.    Panela is unrefined whole cane sugar.  Some of you may remember that I picked up a a handsome bar of Panela (see below) when I went to the Eden Project a couple of months back. 

I'm planning a few other recipes with the panela, but if any of you have any other suggestions, please do share.  
I adapted the recipe for the Venezuelan Black Beans from Viva Vegan.  I even made the sofrito with onions and green peppers.  I am not going to type up the recipe here, even with my tinkering and will just say, go on treat yourself to the cookbook Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero; or borrow it from a friend; or your local library.  
For those of you who have Viva Vegan and have made this recipe, what did you think of it?! I would like to know. 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Books and Bookshops in Hay-On-Wye

Yesterday we went to Hay-on-Wye, world famous for its books and bookshops. 
Quote from Dr Who
Here are a handful of photographs from yesterday, except for the one below, which I took that a year ago when it was raining and perhaps the reason I did not write much about it on my blog as photographs were lacking, not this time though.  
Murder and Mayhem
Reading Zone Only

Small Business's need You

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Cold Minted Pasta Salad

I hope your having a good weekend.  We went to Hay on Wye for the day today and got back an hour or so ago, so I won't stay blogging much tonight as I want to make the most of the warm bright evening.  
Instead I leave you with this this cold pasta salad that I made last month.  I made  it around the same time as the vegan summer sushi

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Chilli Chocolate Salsa with Spice Herb Baked Potato Wedges and 'Meatballs'

A lot more cooler today, thank goodness - but I still didn't really want to be in the kitchen.  

I made something relatively simple: I baked these Spice Herb Baked Potato wedges in the oven. 
I was just going to serve them with some beans, but then changed my mind after finding some ready made veggie meatballs in the freezer.  To make my life easy, I decided to throw the vegetarian Quorn* 'meatballs' into the oven with the spice herb coated wedges.   
I would normally have Sriracha and D goes for brown sauce, but  I had already planned to serve these wedges with a  Salsa, but no ordinary tomato salsa.  No these potato wedges were going to be served with Chilli Chocolate Salsa.  I was prompted to make this recipe after finding a bar of Dark Chilli chocolate, so the whole meal ended up revolving around this.  Chilli Chocolate Salsa is an acquired taste.  It was devilishly rich.

This plate is further enhanced with salad greens from my garden.   
I am sharing this Chilli Chocolate Salsa with We Should Cocoa hosted by Tin and Thyme. The theme is Anything Goes. 

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Quick and Easy Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa

I am in Wales, a land not known for the sunshine but rain rain rain, but today it felt like I was somewhere in the Mediterranean.  I stepped out of the office onto the busy streets and honestly it felt like I had walked into a greenhouse.  

Anyway, you know what hot, clammy weather means - no energy for cooking and your appetite to eat leans more towards quick light and easy bites: such as this Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa which requires no cooking at all, even better.  
I actually made this Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa at the weekend with homegrown strawberries. The strawberries take the place of tomatoes which can either be acidic or sweet.  I have to admit, as much as I wanted to make this and experiment, I was not sure that I would like it and I could see D looking down at the bowl and thinking the same. 
Then we both tucked in with our tortilla chips and were Wooed! 

This is not the first savoury strawberry recipe I have made, I have made a Savoury Strawberry Quiche with strawberries and even Strawberry Risotto before and more recently Strawberry Spinach Asparagus Salad, so don't quite understand why it has taken me a while to make this Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa in my home. I will even go as far and say, I think I prefer this  Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa to the spicy Tomato salsa.  

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Iranian Style Quorn 'Chicken' Stew with Aubergines and Courgettes

The past few weeks or so, I have made a few Persian inspired dishes inspired mostly by Iranian  food bloggers, rather than from the spate of mainstream Middle Eastern cookbooks published recently in the UK.  It started as a means to find inspirational ways of using my spices such as Advieh, Baharat, Sumac, Za'atar and ingredients such as Maftoul and Freekeh, but like any curious cook I have been lured and enticed by other recipes.  

When I saw an Iranian style Koresh tweeted by The Persian Fusion,  I just knew I had to make a vegetarian variation of it.  Something about it had me salivating.  
Koresht/Khoresht/Ghalyeh are stews or curries in Persian cooking.  They should not be compared to South Asian curries popular in the Western world.  Persian stews and curries are  quite mild.  

I substituted the chicken breasts with Quorn 'chicken' fillets and adjusted the spices to taste and the tomato sauce accordingly.  It was important to make the tomato sauce thicker to carry the texture of  Quorn fillets which can be quite dry and tough to penetrate with flavours.  In fact, I think its better to make this dish a day in advance, as the Quorn fillets became succulent by absorbing  and taking on some of the flavours from the sauce and natural ochre colour from the turmeric. Disclaimer*: I have been using Quorn products well before starting this blog, therefore this is not sponsored #Quornivore blog post, I have not been given this product free or paid by Quorn in any way.  
As recommended we ate this vegetarian Iranian stew with rice.  I liked how both the courgettes and aubergines - both rather bland vegetable in my opinion melted wonderfully in the dish, giving the dish more substance and texture.  I would be more than happy to make this again.  

Thank you Persian Fusion.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

A Bakers Dozen: Turmeric Recipes

2016 seems to be the year of the Turmeric. Turmeric boasts a number of health benefits: digestive and antiseptic, but as a person of South Asian heritage Turmeric known as Haldi has been part of my heritage and not seen as a trend.  Turmeric is traditionally used in South Asian curries, pickles, thrown into chappati's aka roti's, rice, Dals, soups, but also as a beauty treatment.  

However as a vegetarian experimental cook, even I have succumbed to the recent attention turmeric  has been getting in the foodie world.  The past couple of years has seen the rise in turmeric consumption in the Western world doused in vegan tofu scramble to give it that ochre egg yoke  colouring, stirred into breakfast oats, as well as in drinks such as turmeric lattes, turmeric smoothies and turmeric teas - all of which seem to be the rage right now.  
Today I bring you my bakers dozen: 13 meatless vegetarian and vegan recipes that make turmeric the golden star it is, not an accessory. 
It would be wrong not to start with the much beloved vegan Turmeric Tofu scramble from Post Punk Kitchen.  Tofu Scarmble has become a staple in every vegan home.  I am not vegan and I love it. 
Turmeric Garden Vegetable Piccalili made with green beans, runner beans, cauliflower and carrots.  This Piccalili is perfect next to a good home-made pie. 
This  unctuous Tangerine Turmeric Jam by Tropical Homestead is a little like marmalade, perfect for crusty or toasted homemade bread.
An awesome and original Dairy Free Turmeric Butter from Refresh.  I love the crackers too. 
A handsome Turmeric Masala Bread from the beautiful Preena who blogs over at A Teaspoon A Turmeric - a blog about Turmeric and Indian cooking. 
A change from Baked Bean, try these Turmeric Butter Beans with Dill and Garlic
Turmeric Pasta Salad with Blood Orange Chilli Oil.  The pasta is simply boiled in water infused with ground turmeric, I have also done this with New Potatoes.  
Curried Tofu with Turmeric Rice inspired by Moosewood Collective 
Fresh Turmeric Root Vegetable Curry from Archana's Kitchen.  This is an amazing vegetarian recipe.
Jamaican 'Patty' Pies with Turmeric Pastry - Here the vegan pastry is infused with ground turmeric and thyme.
Something different for when you have the munchies - Turmeric and Mango Flapjacks
Another fantastic turmeric recipe from A Teaspoon Of  Turmeric, this time its a Turmeric Til Ladoos, an Indian sweet covered in sesame seeds.  This would be so easy to make vegan by substituting the ghee with coconut butter. 
And finally, a pretty  Middle Eastern Turmeric Cake aka Sfuf, Sfoof  by Reinventing Nadine. I hope you have enjoyed this Turmeric blog post and are inspired to make it more of a star ingredient in your recipes.  Do you have any turmeric recipes that you would like to share with me.