Monday, 31 July 2017

Zucchini - Courgettes come in all shapes and sizes

I have been harvesting mostly courgettes aka Zucchini since my last Harvest Monday blog post, but I am pleased that they are all different in shapes, size and even colour  - makes for more variety and interesting eats.  
Nestling in the trug are Courgette Gold Rush F1 ; Courgette Tristar  and Courgette Squash Striato di Napoli  which  think is more marrow than squash; and Courgette Tondo di Piacenza.  I am also growing some patty pans and hope to share them with you next week. 
Recipes made this month with courgettes aka zucchini
Roasted Courgette Layered 'Lasagne'
Courgette Zucchini, Apricot and Pistachio Bread 
Oven Baked Lemon Zucchini and New Potato Salad
Zucchini Chocolate Brownies
Zucchini Broad Beans and Peas Soup
Australian Zucchini Slice
Zucchini Frittata is made with  Courgette Tondo di Piacenza
I also harvested a good handful of French Beans Climbing Purple Cascade
and Runner Bean Relay
We also harvested two potato plants, the yield of 7 potatoes was disappointing though, still enough for two meals and the ground looks good.

I am sharing this with  Harvest Monday hosted by Dave over Our Happy Acres.  

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Tondo di Piacenza Zucchini Potato Frittata

This Zucchini Frittata is made with  Courgette Tondo di Piacenza - a round  globe variety from the garden plot.

You can see some  harvested Courgette Tondo di Piacenza  in the photograph below.  I used my mandolin to slice them thinly, so the finished Zucchini Frittata looked a little more impressive and pleasing to the eyes before it was sliced into triangles and shared. 
This may look like an ordinary Zucchini Frittata but it is very flavoursome, as it has been magically transformed by a generous sprinkling of Outback Spirit Tasmanian Pepper Salt that I got sent by fellow blogger Johanna who lives in Australian.  The Outback Spirit Tasmanian Peppercorn Salt really enhanced the Zucchini frittata slice making it super tasty. 

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Oven Baked Lemon Zucchini and New Potato Salad

This is a simple oven baked potato salad making the most of home-grown zucchini. 

Zucchini aka Courgettes in the UK as you all know are pretty bland and that is the reason I doused these with some zingy lemony oil.  

Friday, 28 July 2017

Zucchini, Apricot and Pistachio Bread

D moved my bread  loaf tins somewhere and could not remember where he moved them.  I have looked in all the obvious places. I told him many times, if he is unsure where to put kitchenalia to let me know and I will put them away.  He has done this to me a few times and it makes me frown when I go to look for whatever it is, even some of the ingredients for shopping are put away in wrong places. Grrr
He looked everywhere he would put them and he could not find them either. so over the weekend, we went shopping in Cardiff and I picked up a decent loaf tin as I wanted to make Zucchini Bread.  

Ah if this is all the grief he gives me, then I am in a happy relationship.  I know I am blessed and very very lucky.
The Zucchini Bread was very nice by the way.  D of course had his with a bit of butter, I don't think it needs it, but it definitely does need a cuppa of some sort with it to wash it down. Apricots are optional, but they are in season and I had some in a bowl that were not very juicy, so i used them in the loaf, but dried apricots will do just nicely too. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Australian style Savoury Zucchini Slice

The joy of food blogging is you will find some like minded people who share recipes that truly inspire you that you really want to recreate at home.  It is one of the reasons I continue to blog.

This Australian Zucchini Slice recipe comes from Johanna who blogs over at Green Gourmet Giraffe.  Apparently it is one of the most popular recipes in Australia and may have been brought to Australia in the 1950s by an Italian migrant. Whatever its background, Zucchini Slice also happens to be one of Johanna's childhood favourites and its a recipe that I have had bookmarked since 2012 to make.  
Johanna actually has two Australian Zucchini Slice recipe, a vegetarian version made with facon bacon and a vegan version made with chickpea flour and tofu bacon. I did not have any facon bacon either home made or shop bought, though I could have made some over the weekend, but was impatient and the courgette harvest pile from the garden was mounting higher and higher each day. Plus what to make for dinner.

So instead I tried to mimic the smoky facon 'bacon' flavours with liquid smoke and smoked paprika, but the balance was not quite right as these additional flavours did not come through strong, still it made for a tasty side - very tasty in fact as D said it was delicious. Its savoury, light from the courgettes and rich in flavour from the cheese. 
One of my favourite vegetarian food writers Celia Brooks in her World Vegetarian Classics section of Australasia also shares a recipe for Zucchini Slice and writes' its a classic from  Australian Women's Weekly, an institution of great home cooking championed by generations of housewives'. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Birmingham: Brum Yum Yum Vegetarian Places and The Oasis

On a recent trip to the city of Birmingham for a short break, not only did we go sight seeing, checking out graffiti art, we also ate out which for me is a bit of a treat as we rarely eat out.

I have to say I thought there would be more exclusively vegetarian/and or vegan eateries in a city like Birmingham, but there were not as many in the city centre.  In fact I think Cardiff may be able to rival Birmingham with its vegetarian offerings, regardless it did not disappoint. 
I had booked a table at The Warehouse Cafe.  I n a previous life (work related) I had visited The Warehouse as it was and still is the home to Friends of the Earth and Black Environment Network.  
We both knew exactly what we wanted from the Warehouse Cafe menu.  We actually both chose exactly the same starter and the same main.
For starters we had broccoli balls in a vegan hollaindaise sauce served with salad.  
And for main we had Halloumi 'Fish' and chips.  The halloumi 'fish' were  in a mild wasabi breadcrumb batter.  It was served with some pickled gherkins, piccalilli and ketchup.  It was good and we were proper stuffed, that we had no room for dessert. 

After eating, my heart warmed as I reminisce about my own past vegetarian adventures and feeling proud of what I had achieved.  D touched my hand and I knew he was proud of me too. On days I do miss cooking fancy grub for crowds. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Birmingham Digbeth and Custard Factory Graffiti Art: Part 2

On a recent trip to the city of Birmingham for a short break, not only did we go sight seeing - we also went looking for graffiti art.  

This is part 2 of a selection of what we saw in the city of Birmingham, mostly in Digbeth and in and around the Custard Factory.    To view part one, go to the end of the blog post. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Birmingham Digbeth and Custard Factory Graffiti Art: Part 1

If your a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I do like graffiti art.

Well on our recent trip to the city of Birmingham for a short break, not only did we go sight seeing - we also went looking for graffiti art.  

Here are a selection of what we saw Birmingham, mostly in Digbeth and in and around the Custard Factory.    
Yes Indeedy I wrote graffiti 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Birmingham Places of Brum

We told a few of our work colleagues that we were going to Birmingham for a break and they all looked at us for with dismay, well Birmingham these days is a city break location and actually has lots to offer as a tourist destination.

I have been to Birmingham many times with my family and through one of my previous jobs at  time when they were still revamping The Bullring, but D had never been there except through it on the train when travelling to see family down south from Scotland on the train.  

Birmingham is the UKs second largest city.  Like Cardiff it has changed dramatically over the past decade.  
Library of Birmingham affectionately known by some locals as 'The Cake'.
The glitzy disco ball dome like Bullring.
The famous Birmingham Bull. 
We did not go into the Birmingham Bullring as I had no desire to shop and only admired it from outside, 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Roasted Courgette Layered 'Lasagne'

What is amazing about this recipe is that it uses zero pasta sheets, the courgettes are sliced thinly with a mandolin into thin sheets to replace the traditional pasta sheets.
It was really good.  I have never really been a fan of ricotta.  I had a pie once and the ricotta just tasted congealed to me and dry, but this was really nice and quite light to eat, compared to pasta based lasagne's that can sometimes be stodgy, but also a great way to use up those courgettes. 
This is one of those recipes you make when you have time on your hands and perhaps over the weekend when its raining and it certainly was.

I followed the original recipe which comes from Donna Hay with very few tweaks.  Round courgette for the tradition courgettes, Tuscan Black kale for spinach and kale  and cheddar cheese for the topping in place of mozzarella.  Just make sure you drain excess liquid from the vegetables otherwise it will exude a lot of liquid whilst cooking and you don't want a soggy lasagne.  The recipe states it serves 4, but I think could easily be stretched to 6 people with a salad on the side.
I am sharing this RoastedCourgette Layered 'Lasagne' with Eat Your Greens challenge hosted this month by The VegHog - You still have time to share your #EatYourGreens recipe with the VegHog, so go on what's stopping you!?. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

My Little Courgette Chocolate Brownies

One of my nephews has been calling me my little courgette because of my moss green rain coat, its term of endearment and affection, but its also a cheeky little request to make him a Courgette Cake, I promised to when courgettes were in season and indeed they are now. 
Courgette brownies are not new and nor are courgette cakes, they have been around a while - in fact throwing vegetables in sweet recipes including cakes, biscuits and rice pudding is not a new idea at all, even if some people think and convince themselves and those around them that they were the first to introduce the social media generation to this idea. Sadly I think its the same people who fall for fake news, which also is not new.  The world is indeed shrinking and everything according to them can be answered by google. 

One of my lecturers at Glasgow University, now a Professor Greg Philo teachings impacted and completely changed the way I viewed the mass media a.  I still have a copy of  his original publication Seeing is Believing: The Influence of Television,  which was gifted to me as a student. In the book, Greg Philo focuses on how the media has the power to influence and instil in the viewer negative and bias viewpoints.  One example of this was the way Arthur Scargill, a prominent British Trade Unionist during the British Miners Strike in 1984 - 85 was vilified by the British media. I remember as a child growing up in Wales also being duped by the popular media publications demonising this man and the protesting miners being portrayed in extreme negative light, after all the media could never lie (I am being sarcastic here).  A decade ago it was  bogus asylum seekers and refugees, today its around other migrants veiled under BREXIT and then we must not forget the Other as we see a rise in hate incidents towards the visible muslim community.   Since having both my eyes and mind opened to the power of the media to propagate misinformation and bias, I have always been sceptical of media portrayal around most things and this has extended nowadays to social media, therefore I am very selective in what I read these days even so called high ranking food blogs, as people put financial gain and popularity before ethics these days.  I could go on, but I will stop as it will become a rant, and this is a food blog after all.
So here are some slices of Courgette Chocolate brownies which I am sharing these with Tin and Thyme for We Should Cocoa and with Treat Petite hosted by The Baking Explorer and CakeyBoi.

Other Brownie Recipes on the Blog
Raspberry Brownies
Red Dragon Chili Brownies
Strawberry Cream Cheese Brownies
Sweet Potato and Cranberry Brownies
Vegan Hot Chocolate Marshmallow Brownies

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Zucchini, Broad Beans, Peas and Mint Soup

I am giving my readers advance warning, that the next few blog posts for the next few weeks will be packed with courgette aka zucchini recipes.

So if you have an aversion to this mild, yet versatile vegetable then don't visit - but let me tell you there will be sweet and savoury zucchini recipes, some new, some interesting and some traditional.
Here is the first of many...Zucchini, Broad Beans, Peas and Mint Soup - all the fresh green ingredients have been grown in my garden plot and were picked at the weekend.  
I know its warm, so why on earth would I make soup?

Monday, 17 July 2017

Meet Selwyn and Carys - The Scarecrows on the Allotment Plot

Since my last Harvest Monday blog post, the red from the roses and the strawberries has faded replaced with shades of orange from nasturtiums and greens, mostly from courgette.
But before I share with you my hefty green harvest, let me introduce you to Selwyn and Carys - (traditional Welsh names), my new scarecrows gifted to me by The  Waltons
Selwyns hovering above the courgettes and marrow plants. 
And Carys watched over the higgledly piggeldy brassicas, 
I was pleased to see some patty pans growing, I have never grown them before so am pretty excited.  I had run out of room on the plot and gave some of the extra plants to my neighbours who is growing hers in pots.  
I  harvested a whole trug of misshapen courgettes, some in the shape of gourds, some truncheon and some round. 
 Tucked under the courgettes and marrows are some peas. 

Oh and if you look closely, there is my first purple climbing bean.
A few weeks ago, my marigolds were in a sorry state that I thought they were dead, but this week they seem to have burst back into life with vigour and I am pleased, and so are the bees.
I  am sharing this with  Harvest Monday hosted by Dave over Our Happy Acres.  

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Swansea VegFest at Brangwyn Hall

This morning we took a drive to Swansea for the Swansea VegFest 2017.

The last Swansea VegFest I attended was in 2015 at the Swansea Environment Centre
Swansea Vegfest for the past two years has been held at Brangwyn Hall. 
We had arrived in Swansea way to early as it was still an hour to doors opening at 10.30am to the VegFest event, so we walked into the city centre and Swansea Market.  It was not a great day to be exploring a city still new to me, as the weather had turned dramatically with heavy rain that we got proper wet, even with out waterproofs.
We returned at around mi-day when the Swansea VegFest was in full swing and super busy, making it a little difficult to check out some of the stall, but as we were in no rush to head back home, I walked round and round until I got to see most of the stalls, especially those that were new to me. 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Guacamole Spaghetti

I made this Guacamole Spaghetti Pasta not that long ago, when we came in from work wanting something relatively quick and easy to eat. 

I have made pasta with avocado in the past and enjoyed it such a Jalapenos, Coriander and Avocado Pasta Salad  and Avocado Coriander Chilli Spaghetti, so thought why not try this combination.
Even though we cleaned the plate mostly out of hunger, I have to confess that I found eating the Guacamole Spaghetti pasta a bit weird.  I think I will in future reserve guacamole for my tortilla chips rather than for coating pasta.
The recipe for this Guacamole Pasta sauce also is not the way I make guacamole.  This was a lot more sloppy because of the tomato juices flowing from the quantity of fresh tomatoes.
Something I had not thought about before is my preference for avocado.  

Oh my goodness can someone have a preference for avocado type.?  I hear you shout.    Yes I do and so does the Zimbabwean man who was standing next to me picking some avocado advising me to pick the prickly ones.  I now have discovered that I prefer Hass avocado as opposed to the smoother skinned ones. I will tell you why maybe some other time.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Red Rose Petals and Strawberries

I mentioned in my last Harvest Monday blog post that the weather in the UK is glorious.  It truly has been weather of Mediterranean climes, but some of the plants have not appreciated it.  
First my lovely red roses are scorched and dry from the blazing heat, and those rose that were still clinging on are now fallen petals.
The strawberries started off very well and looked promising, but have stopped fruiting - unless of course the birds have got to them all. 
Last year the strawberry plants yielded lots, this year maybe enough to fill four small punnets.  

Monday, 3 July 2017

A little bit of Australia in my kitchen

In my kitchen are some Australian gifts which come courtesy of Johanna who blogs over at Green Gourmet Giraffe.  

Johanna was one of the first bloggers I got to know when I started blogging and although we have never met, I feel like we have become good friends.
Laying on top of the Australian tea-towel are all my foodie gifts.  first some Outback Spirit Tasmanian Pepper Salt and a souvenir Australian dollars notebook - all of which I will use as bookmarks for my many cookbooks.  This idea of Australian dollar bookmarks got me thinking as to how many vegetarian or vegan cookbooks I have that are from Australian cooks and chefs? Perhaps Johanna can name me some other than Amy Chaplin and Kurma Dasa, as I am really not that sure. Or perhaps this can be a future blog post for her, if she wishes to accept.  
I am proper excited to try these Vegemite Bagel Crisps and look forward to ripping the bag open when I return home from my short holiday. 
Crafted Blends Greens, Pumpkin Seed, Spinach and Chickpeas has me curious as it sounds like a savoury bar.  The Milo protein clusters made me smile.  Johanna mentioned that Milo products are a little sentimental to her as it reminds her of her childhood.  
Some golden apricot bites and a couple of interesting bars: Apricot and a Cacao and Orange. I have not tried any of these yet, but as I have alluded above we will be away for a short break, driving to our destination tomorrow for a few days - so all these treat bars will be consumed on our road trip and I may up-date this blog post on my return for those curious as to how these Australian treats taste.
I do like my herbal teas so look forward to trying this Dandy Chai Blend with Roasted Dandelion Root
And spices.  Johanna on her blog has mentioned Herbie's Spices many times, so I was pretty chuffed to find these in the cotton tote bag (featured above).  Lemon Myrtle Leaf and Balmain & Rozelle Spice Blend, neither of which I have ever used.  I had heard of Lemon Myrtle, but not Balmain & Rozelle Spice Blend, but on a little bit more digging I learned that this spice blend was created to celebrate Australian broad food heritage.  I will be using it very soon as a marinade for a Summer vegetable bake, unless some of my Australian readers can give me recipe suggestions to use both spice blends.

I was also sent a chocolate bar of Freddo frog - one of Australia's popular children characters but with the hot weather got to him an d was more melty the frog, but I did still enjoy it with a cuppa tea.  Thank you so  much Johanna for your warmth, kindness and generosity.  

I am sharing this with Sherry Pickings for In My Kitchen series.  its one of my favourite blog events and one I have encouraged other fellow bloggers to join in too as its a way I could have a good cheeky nosy not only into their kitchen, but other peoples kitchen too, please do join in.