Tag Archives: vegetarian

Camembert Stars

9 Nov

Camembert StarsSo Halloween has come and gone and in my book that means it’s time to start getting excited about Christmas! I adore Christmas and lets face it – what’s not to love?  You get family and friends time, pressie time and most importantly to me FOOD TIME!  But with all those times happening,  the one thing I tend to be quite short on is time itself.  Enter my best friend when it comes to canapés – store bought puff pastry.  I think it’s okay to admit you don’t make your own puff pastry because let’s face it, with the exception of sweaty contestants on the Great British Bake Off, NOBODY makes their own puff pastry.

You can do wonderful things with puff pastry that are super easy and yet still manage to knock the socks off of the people you are feeding.  Take these savoury palmiers or seeing that it is almost the silly season, these melty-cheesey puff pastry stars that only need 4 ingredients.

CS INGTo make twelve stars take:

  • two sheets of puff pastry
  • a camembert round
  • a chutney of your choice (I went for an apple and walnut because it felt quite Christmasy, but cranberry or sweet chilli would also work beautifully.)
  • and an egg.

CS PrepPreheat the oven to 200°C and then dust the surface you are working on with a quick shake of flour and place one sheet of puff pastry on top.

C Egg WashBeat the egg and brush it liberally onto your pastry. Don’t throw the egg wash away -you’ll need it a bit later.

CS CheeseCut your cheese into twelve bite sized chunks. This will only use about half the round of camembert – save the rest for crackers!

CS fillingPlace about half a teaspoon of chutney on your egg washed sheet of pastry and then place a chunk of the cheese on top of that.

CS CuttingPlace the second sheet of pastry on top of the first one.  Then using a star-shaped cookie cutter cut out twelve stars.

CS Wash and toppingPlace your stars on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Use the rest of the egg wash to wash the stars and if you want sprinkle them with some sesame seeds to give them some character.

CS GBD

Bake until golden brown and delicious – about twenty minutes and then bite into the most amazing melted cheesy bit of gooey goodness. ENJOY!

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Blueberry and Pistachio Pancakes

27 Apr

BPP FinishedThe BH and I have had a bit of a trying year.  We’ve both changed jobs AND we’ve bought a house.  Add to this a missing camera charger and you have a very guilty me apologising for the HUGE hiatus in my blogging.  That said this weekend rolled around and to both of our absolute surprise and wonder, there was nothing planned.  I’m not going to lie, we were both more than a little shell shocked by this and for a while just stared at each other, not really sure what to do.  Then, thankfully, sloth instinct kicked in and pancakes and old episodes of the X-Files were the order of the day.  Now I must confess, I simply can’t resist the urge to mess with pancakes, these however are my current favourites.

BPP IngTo start take:

  • 500gms self raising flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder (you want them to be really light and fluffy)
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 gms butter
  • 1 litre milk
  • 200 gms blueberries
  • 100gm roasted salted pistachios
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla essence if you prefer)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (optional)

BPP Melting ButterMelt the butter in a small sauce pan and allow it to cool.  Then add  the milk to the butter.  Beat the eggs and add these along with the vanilla bean paste to the melted butter.  You want to make sure the butter is cool and you add the milk before you add the eggs otherwise you’re going to be eating buttery,  vanilla flavoured scrambled eggs, which I don’t think will taste as good as it sounds.

Sift BPPSift together your flour, salt, baking powder and sugar (if you’re using it) in a large mixing bowl.

BPP BatterThen slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mix and whisk until the mixture is smooth and lump free. BPP Chopped PistachiosRoughly chop your pistachios and wash and dry your blueberries.  Put these in two separate bowls next to your griddle or frying pan.

BPP FryingHeat your pan or griddle and using a paper towel, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to the pan/griddle.  Using a soup ladle, spoon a circle of batter on to your griddle pan and then top with blueberries and pistachios.  When the batter bubbles, turn your pancake over and cook on the underside.

BPP Frying 2

Sorry, I just love the colours of the pistachios on the batter, so you’re being subjected to another photograph.  Place the pancake in a warming draw or oven on a low heat and repeat the process until you have used all the batter.

BPP YumDrizzle your pancakes with honey, you can use any syrup that takes your fancy, but there is something about the pistachios and blueberries that just really works with honey, and enjoy.

 

Gluten Free Banoffee Cupcakes

19 May

Banoffee finishedI don’t usually like to post two very similar items so close together, but I have an amazing mum-in-law who is celebrating her birthday and   I think we can all agree unequivocally that ‘Birthdays = Cake.’  This is a little tricky for my mum-in-law as she can’t eat gluten.  So I’ve tweaked one of my favourite recipes for banana loaf into these (hopefully) scrummy gluten free banoffee cupcakes.  Happy birthday, mum.

Banoffee INGTo make 12 cupcakes take:

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 ripe bananas (the riper the better)
  • 125gm softened butter
  • 120gm caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla (paste, essence or extract)
  • 15ogm self-raising gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 a 379gm tin of  caramel (or use dulce de leche)

For the banana crisps: (use to decorate the cupcake, but great in homemade muesli or granola)

  • one banana
  • the juice of one lime or lemon
  • 1 Tbs icing sugar

For the frosting:

  • 125gm softened butter
  • 300 gm icing sugar
  • 1 Tbs milk
  • 1/4 cup of caramel
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • and fudge chunks to decorate

banoffee butter and sugarPreheat the oven to 180°C and then place 125gm of softened butter into a large mixing bowl and add the caster sugar.  Cream together for about 2-3 minutes until the mixture is a very pale yellow.  banoffee eggAdd one of the eggs and beat well, then add the other other and again beat well until everything is well mixed.

Banoffe mashed bananaMash the bananas together until smooth and then add with the vanilla to the butter mix.

banoffee bananaMix the flour and cinnamon together and sieve on top of the butter mix.

Banoffee flour and cinnamonFold the flour into the mix with a spatula.

Banoffee baking tinLine a muffin tin with cupcake cases and fill each to about 2/3 full.

Banoffee bakedBake for about 15-18 min until  they are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool and get started on your banana crisps.

Banoffee banana and lemonTo make the crisps first squeeze the lemon or lime, whichever you’re using, and mix in 1 Tbs of icing sugar. Then thinly slice the bananas and brush both sides with the lemon-sugar mix.  Allow the oven to cool to 100°C and pop in the baking tray for an hour.  You’re not cooking the bananas so much as dehydrating them.

banana cripsAfter an hour turn the banana pieces over and put back in the oven for another hour.  After two hours take them out of the oven and leave to cool and crisp up and then store in an airtight container until you’re ready to decorate the cupcakes.

Banoffee holesOnce the cupcakes have cooled, using an apple corer make a hole in the centre of each cupcake by pushing the apple corer two thirds of the way into the cup cake and twisting.

Banoffee caramelPlace the caramel into a ziplock bag or piping bag and fill each hole with caramel.

Banoffee butter and caramelTo make the frosting place the softened butter and 1/4 cup of caramel in a large mixing bowl and beat until light and creamy.

Banoffee with salt

Add the salt to the butter caramel mix and beat.  Then add the icing sugar and beat until all the icing sugar is combined.  (You might need to add a little more icing sugar to get the right texture.)  Then add the milk and beat until light and fluffy.

Banoffee icingOnce the icing is ready, place in a piping bag with a large star-tipped nozzle and pipe onto the cupcakes.  Then decorate with fudge chunks (these do contain wheat glucose syrup, but wheat glucose syrup does not contain gluten and is safe for celiacs) and banana crisps.  Enjoy! Banoffee cupcakes

Cheese and Sundried Tomato Palmiers

4 May

pal finished

So when a glorious three day weekend  stretches out in front of you promising to bring with it warm sun drenched days, you know that you need to make the most of it.  By making the most of it I do mean sitting in the garden with potent fruity drinks and scrumptious nibbles with friends and family.  What you don’t want to be doing is spending your whole day in the kitchen making the nibbles and that’s where this recipe will serve you well.  It has an amazingly high return for remarkably little effort. I’ve used a sun-dried tomato pesto, cheese and basil filling, but you really could use almost anything.  I’ve used sausages removed from their casings, you could try it with basil pesto and feta, a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon or jam, and I’m really interested in trying it with lemon curd, but enough of my rambling,  get out there and enjoy that sunshine!

Pal ingTo start take:

  • 1 roll of puff pastry (of course if you make your own it will be delicious, but your effort to enjoyment ratio will be greatly diminished)
  • about half a jar of sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 200gm of cheese (I used a mature cheddar, but use whatever takes your fancy)
  • a few basil leaves

Pal pastryLightly dust the surface you are working on with flour and then roll out your pastry to roughly 30m by 40cm-ish.

Pal tomatoeSmear on the sun-dried tomato pesto leaving  a 1 centimetre border around the edges of the pastry.

Palm cheeseTop the tomato with the cheese and the basil.

pal rolledTaking the length of the pastry, roll one half of the pastry to the middle and then repeat with the other side to create something akin to a book scroll. Wrap the (sc)roll in cling film and place in the refrigerator for about an hour. Then preheat your  oven to 180°C. pal sliced

Remove the pastry from the fridge and thinly slice into palmiers.  How thick or thin you slice them really does boil down to taste, but I aim for slices that are between 0.5cm to 1 cm thick.

Pal baking trayPlace your pamiers on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown!  Enjoy.

Pal baked

Cheese Souffle

12 Sep

Souffles have gotten a really bad rap.  They are supposed to have caused chefs across the land to wail and beat their brows.  They are supposed to have sent the smuggest of Stepford wives to the corner trembling.  They are supposed to have caused even that F-ing Chef to cry like a baby girl.  I just don’t buy it.  Yes, they can come crashing down faster than an Essex girl wearing platforms, but that’s really the only tricky thing about them.   I mean when you get right down to it, all a cheese souffle is, is a simple cheese sauce enriched with eggs and baked.  Hardly rocket science. Come on, I’ll show you.

To make ten individual souffles take:

  • 6 eggs (separated)
  • 100gm butter
  • 100gm sharp mature cheddar cheese
  • 375 ml of milk
  • 60 gm of all purpose flour
  • 1tsp mustard
  • 1tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 190°C.  Now melt the butter in a saucepan and use the some of the melted  butter to brush the sides and bottoms of the ramekins.  Some people like to coat the inside of the ramekins with bread crumbs, but I don’t think this is necessary. Then add the flour, mustard and paprika.  Cook the smooth paste for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the milk a little at a time and then, while constantly stirring, bring the mixture to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, allow it to simmer for a further two minutes, then remove from the heat and add the cheese.  Once the cheese has melted beat in the egg yolks.

Whip the egg whites to a soft stiff peak and then add about 1/6 of the egg white to the cheese sauce.  Mix well to lighten the sauce and then gentely fold in the remaining egg white.

Carefully divide the mixture between the ten ramekins and then run your finger along the inside rim of each souffle.  Pop into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until poofed  up and golden, but with a slight wobble to the middle.

Serve with a crispy salad to contrast the texture of the soft souffle.  See, seriously easy.

Pita Bread with Houmous

27 Jun

Bread scares me!  It really does.  It’s one of those food stuffs where the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts.   To get to the whole however,  you have to put the parts though a series of steps that have become quasi-religious with superstitions and myths.  There are just so many factors to take into account and so many places where it can go wrong; The kneading, over proving, under proving, too much salt, the temperature of the water, the temperature of the oven, GAH!  It’s enough to make you rush out to your local bakery.

But this is one fear I want to conquer. I want to fill my house with the smell of baking bread.  I want great golden crusts to take centre place at my dinner table and I want to smile smugly when people asked me where I buy my bread.  Most of all though I want to eat that first hot, butter-melted slice of bread.   I’m going to start small with this pita bread recipe and its ubiquitous companion houmous , but watch this space. I WILL conquer bread!

For the Pita Bread:

  • 225 gm of white bread flour
  • 7 gms of instant yeast
  • 1 Tbs of olive oil
  • 1/2 a tsp of salt
  • 160 ml of luke warm water

For the Houmous:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 Tbs of Tahini
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbs of lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs of olive oil
  • Cumin to taste (about 1 tsp)

Add the flour, olive oil, salt and yeast to a large bowl and mix well.  Slowly add the water a bit at a time and stir until it comes together in a sticky dough.  Place the dough onto a well floured surface and kneed the dough for ten minutes.  Time this!  It isn’t something you want to skimp on.

After ten minutes of kneading, the dough should be considerably smoother and it should spring back if lightly poked.  Place it in a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour.

After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size.  Punch it back down and then divide the dough into six to eight balls.  Cover the balls and leave them to rest for five minutes and then, on a floured surface, roll them out into flat circles.  The circles should be no more than five mm high. Cover the circles with a tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for a further thirty minutes.  At this stage, heat the oven to 230°C and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

This would be the perfect time to make the houmous.  I must apologise for not having any pictures on the houmous, but there really isn’t much to photograph.  Drain the chickpeas, but keep the liquid back in reserve.  Add all the ingredients for the houmous into a food processor or blender and turn it on.  Once it has combined, slowly add the reserved chickpea liquid a bit at a time until you get the desired texture.   Taste the oh-so-awesome,  creamy goodness and add more cumin or salt to taste.

After thirty minutes, place the dough rounds on the hot baking tray and put the tray back in the oven.  Bake the pitas for six minutes if you like a light soft crust and for ten if it’s a crispier brown crust you want.

The dough will poof up and make gorgeous pillowey pockets of dough.  Serve with houmous, or slice open the top and fill with your favourite filling for a great sandwich.

Tomato Pasta

30 Apr

At least once a year I manage to fool myself into buying a jar of pasta sauce.  Usually when I’m pressed for time.  I’ll pick up a jar and fall prey to descriptions of juicy tomatoes and fresh basil and before I know it the jar has been popped into my basket.  Then, when it comes time to use it, I’m always hugely disappointed.  The flavours never really come through.  I think the reason this upsets me is that I know how easy it is to whip up an amazing sauce  in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

If I’m really in a rush, I will literally just roast tomatoes and garlic together and then blend them with some aged Pecorino and some fresh basil.   If I have a little more time on my hands, I make this sauce.

To start, take:

  • 6-8 small ripe tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 50 gms of a hard, sharp cheese like Pecorino or Parmesan
  • 1 Tbs of tomato puree
  • olive oil
  • a splash of white wine or white wine vinegar
  • fresh basil to taste
  • coarse salt

Cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters and place, with the garlic cloves, skins still on,  on a baking tray.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and then roast at 200°C for about 20-30 mins.

Pour a good glug of olive oil into a medium pot and bring to a low heat.  Then add the finely sliced onion and allow it to cook slowly for about 20 mins until just starting to caramelize.  Now would also be a good time to start bringing a large pot of water to boil to cook the pasta.

Dice the carrot and celery as finely as you can and add to the just starting to caramelize onion and allow to cook for a further 5 mins.

While the carrot and celery are cooking, remove the roasting tin with the garlic and the tomatoes from the oven.  Once the garlic cloves have cooled slightly, grab them from the base and squeeze the garlic out of it’s skin.  Add this and the tomatoes to the onion, carrot, celery mix.  Don’t be alarmed at the number of garlic cloves.  They will have softened in flavour during roasting.

Now add the wine and tomato puree to the mix and leave it to cook for another 10 – 15 mins, until it resembles the picture above.

Add the basil and cheese to your blender and then top with the tomato sauce.  Whiz them together until smooth.

Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions and then drain the pasta in a colander and put back into the pot it was cooked in.  Top with the tomato sauce and serve with some crunchy garlic bread.  Simple and seriously tasty!

Courgette Fritters

15 Apr

The BH and I were up quite late last night, so when we finally dragged ourselves out of bed this morning we were in the mood for a something a little more substantial than the usual breakfast fare.  Something leaning more towards lunch than breakfast on the brunch scale.  I had managed to take a packet of bacon out the freezer the night before, but beyond that I had no idea what I was going to serve.  Which is why, if you had popped your head through the kitchen window of  a tiny terraced house in a leafy English suburb this morning,  you would have seen a bath-robe, slipper-clad woman staring at an open refrigerator mumbling to herself for a good fifteen minutes before grabbing some courgettes from the crisping draw and shouting EUREKA loudly enough to scare the dog waiting hopefully at her side for her to drop something.

I adore courgettes, or zucchini if you will.  They are flavourful, versatile and they really come into their own when battered and fried.  Somehow, despite this very Scottish way of cooking them, you still feel they are at least a little bit healthy. It’s probably because they’re green.  So it was settled.  We were having courgette fritters.

To make 10 fritters take:

2 medium courgettes

1 medium egg, beaten

1 heaped tsp of sweet paprika

25gm of a hard sharp cheese like Parmesan or Pecorino Romano

1/2 a cup of self rising flour

1/4 of  an onion, very finely chopped

1 Tbs of coarse salt

1Tbs of vegetable oil, anything with a low smoke point

First grate the courgette as coarsely as possible.  You can use a cheese grater, a mandolin or my personal favourite,  especially if someone else is doing the dishes, a food processor. Then line a colander with a clean tea towel and put the colander over a bowl.

Put the grated courgette, chopped onion and salt in the bowl and mix together.  The salt is suppose to help draw the moisture out of the courgette.  Leave the mixture alone for about ten minutes.  Then fold up the edges of the dish towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.    It is gob smacking just how much moisture you can squeeze out of two courgettes.

Put the now dry, or at least drier, mixture in a bowl and add the cheese, paprika, beaten egg and mix well.  Next,  fold in the self rising flour to make a really thick batter. Then add the vegetable oil to a flat  heavy pan and heat on a medium heat for about a minute or two.

Spoon about an tenth of the batter in to the pan, AND THEN LEAVE IT ALONE!   Don’t touch it.  Let it cook for at least two minutes until a golden crust has formed on the bottom.  Try to flip it any earlier and it WILL stick.  Trust me.  Don’t do it.

Once it’s cooked on the bottom, turn and cook the other side  as well.  Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen towel and then fry the rest of the batter in batches.   Once all the fritters have been cooked serve with a spicy tomato sauce.

The Greatest Sandwich EVER!

12 Feb

The BH and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s day.  Why spend a fortune telling someone you love them on Valentine’s day, when you really should be doing it everyday?  OK, maybe not everyday, but at least more than once a year.  That said, it’s also important to spoil them around this time of year, so last night I offered to make him anything he wanted from the kitchen as his gift.  You can imagine how floored I was when he opted for a sandwich, and not just any sandwich, but a VEGETARIAN  sandwich.

Most people find it hard to believe that the BH and I were vegetarians for over ten years.  We just don’t fit the pale, skinny and interesting look most people associate with vegetarians, which probably has something to do with my love for cooking with cream and butter.

It was during the Vegetarian Years that we went looking for a sandwich that would satisfy the burger craving.  Had we been in the West with ready access to quorn, we might never have discovered it. Even though we are now hardened carnivores with all the meat-eating zeal of the reformed, we still enjoy this at least once a month.  I hope you do too.

There are no exact measures on this one, so go with your gut and eyeball it, to mix metaphors.

You’ll need:

  • Aubergine/Eggplant (depending on which side of the pond you live)
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Cheese (the meltier, the better)
  • Bread
  • Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

First chop the garlic as finely as possible, pour the olive oil in a cup or ramekin and allow it to infuse for about 15 min

Preheat the oven to 200 ° C.  Slice the aubergine in 1cm thick slices an place on an oiled baking tray. Brush with the garlic infused oil making sure at least one piece of garlic finishes up on a piece of aubergine.   In Taiwan I used to use Japanese eggplant which are longer, thinner and less bitter than the aubergines found here, but with the advances we’ve made in food cultivation,  I don’t think it’s necessary to peal, salt or soak, this vegetable.  Tear up the rosemary and scatter about the tray.

Place the baking tray in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until they are soft and golden brown.

Slice open the bread and spread the SDT pesto on the bottom and then top with as much cheese as you can.  Place the hot from the oven aubergine on top of the cheese and close the sandwich and leave for 3-4 mins so the aubergine melts the cheese.

Serve with potato wedges and a green salad.

For the potato wedges, mix canola oil (or any other oil that has a high smoke point and a mild flavour) in a large bowl with a tsp of smoked paprika, pinch of salt and a tsp of dried thyme.  Cut your potatoes into wedges and toss in the oil.  Bake at 200° C for 30-40mins, until soft and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

oh.four.one.

the port elizabeth blogger

The Banting Cook

Banting recipes – low carb, sugar free and gluten free. Banting recipes I have tried - those that have failed and those that have been a success! I am not a dietician, I'm just a gal who loves to cook banting food, and keep it as good as possible! Obviously all recommendations throughout this and other posts are not intended as an alternative, treatment, or prevention of diseases, medical treatments or advice. The reader takes full responsibility for counting nutritional information such as carbs, while trying any and all recipes :-)

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