Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Indian Style Brussels Sprouts Curry

The sliced carrots, cubed potatoes and halved Brussels sprouts are dyed turmeric yellow and coated in an Indian style spicy sauce.
The other reason the photograph is awash with an orange tinge is the lack of natural lighting in the evening.  The winter brings with it darkness, so it is no longer conducive for the home food blogger/amatueur photographer to take reasonable picutres for his/her blog.  Saying that though, the natural light outdoors is not good either.  Its dark when I wake up and its dark when I go to bed.    Regardless of the lighting, the dish was surprisingly okay, not delicious - just okay. 
This recipe is based on my Green Bean Salan.  I don't think I've eaten any green beans this year.  Fingers crossed next year will be different and better.  I will once again be enjoying home grown veggies, even if they are found to be growing in pots.  Oh I really can't wait to move now - we've been living under a permanent dark puddle the last few months, literally and metaphorically, surely something good must be due to happen to one of us now, if not the both of us.   
Brussels Sprouts Indian Style Curry
Serves 4
Ingredients
150g full fat butter or ghee
2 medium onions, minced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 inch of ginger, grated or minced
1 teaspoon of salt
or to taste
1 teaspoon chilli powder
or to taste
½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
2 fresh chillies, sliced

1 x 400g tinned tomatoes, chopped
Vegetable of choice: I used about 300g Brussels sprouts, a couple of carrots and on large potato, all chopped up into bite size pieces
Method
In a large wide pan, melt butter then add the minced onions, garlic and ginger and cook until transparent, add the spices and the fresh chillies and cook until the fat of the butter comes to the surface. Add the tomatoes and cook until well integrated. Then add your chosen vegetable, stir and turn heat down until the vegetables are well cooked. Keep stirring to stop the vegetables from sticking to the pan, when vegetables are cooked. 

You can either just serve it as a dry curry (best eaten with roti or naan bread); Or add 150ml - 250ml water to the pot, bring to the boil, let it simmer until the flavours have infused into the water. Serve with rice.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

New Lanark and Robert Owens Apple Dumpling Recipe

The weather at the weekend was very unkind, instead of exploring new grounds - we stayed pretty much at home, venturing outdoors only to the west of Glasgow for the farmers market where I picked up a Romanesco Cauliflower for £1, some beetroot and sprouts.  Not one of the market stalls was set up due to the weather being both wet and blustery.  In fact, most were trading from the inside of their vans - yes the weather was really that atrocious and it continues with persistent rain ... 

So here let me share with you a handful of photographs of when we visited New Lanark World Heritage Site in the summer.   
The Village Shop
The Museum
Here is Robert Owens 'Apple Dumpling' recipe.  Click on the image.
This particular image is also my entry for Susan's - Black and White Wednesday #21. This is relatively new weekly blog event set up by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. Here she encourages us all to appreciate black and white photographs once more, albeit through culinary means. 

Red Chilli Spiced Brussels Sprouts Pasta

A very easy peasy pasta dish for lunch. 

I actually liked how the sprouts supped up the flavours from the infused garlicky chilli olive oil .  This mellowed the bitterness of the sprouts making it both sweet and spicy. 
Inspiration for this pasta dish came from two fellow bloggers Mark Willis and Plummy Mummy at Chili Paper Chains who suggested using chilli with it. As a spice head, I don't know why I did not think of it and now I have a number of ideas coming my way - one obviously being a Indian curry style dish and the other - deep fried like pakoras.  I am really liking the idea of Brussels Sprouts Pakoras - maybe this weekend!    

I am sharing this at Presto Pasta Nights #242. PPN was founded by Ruth Daniels of Once Upon a Feast and each Friday night a different host posts a roundup of pasta dishes submitted by bloggers from around the world. However this week, PPN is being hosted by Ruth.

Red Chilli Spiced Brussels Sprouts Pasta
Serves 2
Ingredients
Cook penne pasta for 2 people.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide pan, then add in a medium onion that has been finely sliced.  Cook slowly stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelised.  Then stir in sprouts that have been quartered, 2 cloves of minced garlic and chilli flakes to taste.  Cook on medium heat until the sprouts are just tender and golden brown.  Season with salt and pepper.  
Stir in the drained pasta,   drizzle with extra olive oil and serve immediately. 

Monday, 28 November 2011

Bajan Gungo Pea, Squash and Coconut Soup

Whilst I was vacuuming,  I knocked down one of the paperback cookbooks hidden on the bottom shelf.  A much under-used cookbook called Lean Bean Cuisine.  I flicked through it quickly, finding myself enticed by a number of legume based recipes.

As the book was random, honest - it landed at my feet - it occured to me that I should enter this months No Croutons Required Does Random Recipes.  This is not the way I normally cook, I tend to go by what ingredients are in season and then come up with a recipe, but I was up for a new challenge, moreso as I've never done 'Random Recipes' before either.  So I closed my eyes and flicked through the first few pages and ended up on a 'Gungo Pea and Coconut Soup' recipe.  This made me smile, as I have three tins of gungo peas, also known as pigeon peas and a can of coconut milk at home.  The only ingredient I had to go and pick up was butternut squash.   
The soup was lovely and light, truly embracing the characteristic flavours of the Caribbean: coconut milk, thyme, hot peppers, and rum.  I have to point out though that the flavours of both the jalapeno pepper and rum is mild, so don't worry about it too much;  if you so wish, feel free to omit it.  I think the soup will still be lovely and will transport your mind, if not your soul to the sunset warmth of the Caribbean.
So as mentioned, this is my entry for Novembers No Croutons Required. NCR is a little different this month as Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes has teamed up with Dom at Belleau Kitchen.  to create No Croutons Required Does Random Recipes.   I do hope they like this soup as much as I did.
Bajan Gungo Pea , Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup
Serves 6 – 8
Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stick, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper
140g – 180g butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 x 400g canned gungo peas (pigeon peas), drained and rinsed
1 ½ pints vegetable stock
Optional:  2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon fresh parsley minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
200ml canned coconut milk
Method
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and jalapeno pepper.  Saute over medium heat the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes or so.  Add the squash, half of the beans, stock, rum parsley and seasonings.  Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 35 minutes until it begins to thicken, stirring occasionally.
Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the coconut milk and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes.  Transfer the soup to a food processor and blitz until smooth.  Return to the pan, add the remaining beans and reheat before serving.  Adapted from Lean Bean Cuisine by Jay Solomon.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Brussels Sprouts and Blue CheeseTart

Yes this is virtually the same Brussels Sprouts and Shallots I made about two weeks ago, albeit with some minor modifications and a little more prettier in presentation (if you can say that about sprouts), but I put my hands up in my defence -  I really did not want to make it again - more bitter and niffy sprouts - no way.  However the man in the house who doesn't mind them so much, picked up a Brussels Sprouts tree.   I think it was his sneaky ploy to get me to eat more of them.  I  plucked the tightly wrapped balls of green off the stalk and chucked them into a bowl.  I just couldn't get my creative juices flowing on the day - so it ended up being savoury tart again!

A day or two later, some inspiration starting coming to me .... as well as suggestions by number of fellow bloggers.
So I must forewarn you in advance, I'll be featuring a number of recipes this week with Brussels sprouts, not that I love sprouts but because of the Brussels Sprouts tree that was purchased.  So you may not want to come by if you dislike sprouts with a passion, though my aim this week is to try and persuade you and myself to try other recipes with these mighty green nuggets.
I am submitting a slice of this Brussels Sprouts Tart to Ren Behan at Fabulicious Food who is hosting Novembers edition of Simple And In Season.

Brussels Sprouts and Blue Cheese Tart
For shortcrust pastry - follow here for the pastry recipe.
Blind bake the pastry tart tin and set aside.
Serves 4 – 6
Ingredients for the filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and slice
2 cloves garlic, sliced
300g Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved
2 eggs, beaten
120ml milk
100g blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5.
Heat the oil in a wide pan, then add in the onions and cook slowly until soft and caramelised, then stir in the sprouts and garlic and cook for until the sprouts and shallots are just tender and golden brown.
In a measuring jug, add the milk, and beat eggs, about 80g of the blue cheese and season with pepper and a little salt to taste.
Spread the soft caramelised onions at the bottom of the tart, then top with the sprouts – either cut side up or cut side down – it is your choice. Pour over the liquid mixture, then top with remaining cheese and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes, until set and a little golden on top.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Dried Apricots and Pumpkin Seeds Flapjacks

When I was working I would often make muffins or flapjacks for the working week ahead.  These days I make them for the weekend, should we find ourselves venturing outside of home territory.  We are much more organised and will now make a flask of coffee and take small tub of home bakes.  This is our frugal and thrifty way of saving pennies and not spending pounds on a High Street latte, espresso or muffin. 

These flapjacks are made with dried apricots and pumpkin seeds, but you can easily make it with sultanas, raisins, sunflower and sesame seeds, as well as chopped nuts, almonds would be great.
 So let us see where this weekend takes us ....weather dependent of course.

Apricot and Pumpkin Seeds Flapjacks
Makes 8
Ingredients
125g unsalted butter
150g soft brown sugar
75g golden syrup
200g porridge oats
150g dried apricots, chopped
100g pumpkin  seeds
Method Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan on a low heat. Then stir in the oats, apricots and pumpkin seeds, and combine thoroughly.
Spread and flatten the mixture into a lined baking tray. 

Bake at gas mark 3 for 30 minutes, until golden brown at the edges. 
Leave to cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares with a sharp knife and turn out. 

Friday, 25 November 2011

Golden Bowl of Swede

This thick, almost velvety golden bowl of Swede Soup was made in the same manner as the Chilli Spiked Roasted Pumpkin Soup, but we didn't enjoy it the same.
Something was missing, it lacked depth.  I think this soup needs body and would be helped with a proper soup base made from onions, carrots and celery.  I know for next time, still it looked pretty good that I had to share it.  And of course it wasn't wasted.  Like it or not, we did manage to finish it with some home made machine crusty bread.
If you still want to try it for yourself, here is the recipe of sorts. 

Simply peel and chop a medium Swede into small cubes. Toss it with a little olive oil and bake in the oven at Gas mark 5. Roast for about 45 minutes or until soft and tender. Then tip it all into a food processor; or food blender, along with some vegetable stock, about 1 pint to 1½ pint and add some salt and pepper. Blend to a puree. Return to the pot and reheat.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thai Green Root Vegetable Flan

I know this sounds like an unusual recipe; and it is  - its effectively a Thai -style Green Curry in a pastry base, still I was still a little curious to try it out and see if it worked.  What's more its made with root vegetables.  This is not  an egg set flan, but a little oozy when you slice into it.
Now having made this, I am not completely convinced it works well in the pastry base, so I am not going to try and persuade you to try it, unless of course you want too.  I will say this though, it tasted okay.  I particularly liked how the Thai curry flavours infused the parsnip.  I served this flan simply with some rice and green peas. 

Recipe for the Pastry
For a 8 - 9 inch round tin
Ingredients
For the shortcrust pastry
170g plain flour
A pinch of salt
85g cold butter
2 tablespoons cold water
Method for short crust pastry
Sift the flour with the salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add 2 tablespoons cold water to the mixture. Mix to a firm dough. It may be necessary to add more water. Chill, wrapped for at least 30 minutes before using.
Preheat oven to gas mark 6.  Roll out the pastry and use to line a 8- 9 inch round dish, then back blind.  Set aside to cool. 
Now make the filling.

Thai  Green Root Vegetable Filling
Serves 4 - 6
Ingredients
2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, sliced
2 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoon plain flour
1 – 2 tablespoon Thai green curry paste
300ml vegetable stock
200ml milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 2 tablespoon fresh coriander, minced
Method
Preheat oven to gas mark 6. 
Bring water to the boil and parboil the root vegetables until just tender.  Drain and set aside to cool. 
In a wide pan, heat the oil, then cook the onions until very soft.  Add the flour to make a roux, stirring well.  Add the curry paste, the stock and the milk.  Bring to a gentle boil, until the mixture begins to thicken a little.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and then stir in the vegetables and coriander if using. 
Pour this into the pastry case and bake for 30 minutes. Adapted from Another Dinner is Possible.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Caramel Apple Cake

This autumnal 'Caramel Apple Cake' certainly looks the part.  I wish I could have taken the photograph next to some naturally sun drying autumnal orange, yellow and burnished leaves, but its rather muddy in my garden, so it had to be taken against the wooden panels in my flat. 

Upon cooking the sugar becomes sticky and caramel-like, both these elements coating and colouring the cake beautifully.  But beware when making the topping, a minute or two over and it can become a little too dark, and thus a little burnt around the edges, (a bit like this one).  For me the best part of this cake was the apples and how they became soft - apple pie like. 
I am sharing a slice of this Apple and Caramel Cake with Cook Eat Delicious - Desserts.  The theme for November is apples and is being hosted by Nayna at Simply FoodCookEatDelicious was founded by Raven at Cook Eat Delicious
Apple and Caramel Cake
Serves 8
Ingredients
For the topping
100g golden caster sugar
1 - 2 eating apples, depending on size
For the sponge
175g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
175g golden caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
225g plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
75ml milk
Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6.  Lightly grease a round 8 inch cake tin and line the base with parchment paper. 
For the topping
Put the sugar in an even layer in a heavy based saucepan and heat gently, without stirring.  When it begins to melt and turn brown, swirl the pan so it caramelizes evenly.  Quickly tip the caramel into the greased base of the cake tin and ensure it is evenly coated.  Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, slice the apples (you may not need to use up all the slices - so enjoy a natural taste of apple).  Arrange the apple slices on top of the caramel, which will have hardened. 
For the sponge
Beat together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy You can also use a food mixer with a paddle attachment for this.  Add then eggs, gradually, beating after each addition.  Fold in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon with a large spoon, then stir in the milk, mixing until you have a smooth consistency.  Spoon the sponge mixture over the apple in an even layer.  Place the tin on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 45 - 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a plate.  Adapted from Tana Ramsay's I Love To Bake.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Apple and Chocolate Chip Flapjacks

These apple and chocolate flapjacks are more like a museli or granola breakfast  bar, in that they are dry and not sticky or overly sweet.  The sweetness comes chocolate chips and the natural sweetness from the grated apples.   And of course to demonstrate the apple content, I had to press  a few apple slices to the top. 
I am sharing some of these flapjacks with Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog  and Chele of The Chocolate Teapot  for this months We Should Cocoa Challenge.   The theme for November is to create a chocolate dish with the inclusion of apples and it is being hosted by Chele

Apple and Chocolate Chip Flapjacks
Makes 6-8 pieces
Ingredients
40g butter
60g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoon golden syrup
225g rolled porridge oats
50g raisins or sultanas
2 small eating apples, grated
 40g chocolate chips
Method
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 6. Lightly grease a baking tin measuring about 8 " by 8". My baking tin measured 8 by 8 inches.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the sugar and golden syrup.
Combine the butter, sugar and syrup with the oats. Stir in the raisins and grated apples and raisins . Spread into the greased baking tin, evenly scatter the chocolate chips then pat down with a spatula.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until slightly brown. Leave to cool before slicing.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Beetroot and Gingerbread Muffins

If you like gingerbread cake, then you are going to like these beetroot and gingerbread muffins. 

I made these muffins a little while ago - in between travelling to and fro Essex and Wales from Scotland.  So I can't rant on about them as much as I would like, but I do remember them being extremely sweet and sticky and such a delight to eat.  Each bite was soft with a burst of spicy warmth from the stem ginger pieces.

A bit like Brussels sprouts, I have an aversion to beetroot.  But I must admit since starting my blog, my opinion of beetroot has changed a lot (can't say the same for sprouts!).  I am not saying that I love beetroot, no no - but I don't dislike it either.  However when beetroot is cooked like this, grated and lost in a sweet crumby cakey textures, how can you not try?!
I saw the recipe for these beetroot and ginger muffins on the Love Beetroot website.  Its aim is to share the beautiful side of this earthy crimson vegetable.  Its history, some beetroot facts, its health benefits as well as encouraging us, namely us Brits to eat more beetroot by sharing a growing collection of beetroot recipes.  Some of these recipes were familiar to me, such as: beetroot dips, beetroot salads, beetroot pancakes, and of course the recently fashionable beetroot - chocolate cake.  But alongside the familiar were a number of  new recipes such as the beetroot bread, American style beetroot pie, beetroot, raising and stem ginger pudding - and the one that tempted me was the sticky ginger and beetroot muffins.  

The original recipe uses cooked beetroot, I decided to use 'raw beetroot' which gave the muffins a slightly pleasant chewy texture.  The original muffin recipe does have a ice glazing, but I decided to give this a miss as the muffins were extremely sweet.  I am sharing some of these muffins with Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes who is hosting Bookmarked Recipes, a monthly blog event initiated by Ruth of Ruth's Kitchen Experiments, as well as to Karen's at Lavender and Lovage and Kate of What Kate Baked for the launch of their "Tea Time Treats" and a challenge of "Bonfire Treats and Ginger".  This is also linked to  Mom Trends who is hosting Friday Food.
Beetroot and Ginger Muffins
Makes 12
Ingredients
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle
150g unsalted butter
125g dark brown sugar
100g stem ginger, diced
4 teaspoon ground ginger
250g raw or cooked beetroot, grated
250ml milk
2 medium eggs, beaten
1teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300g plain flour
Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, line a 12 hole muffin tray with cases.
In a saucepan , add the golden syrup, black treacle, butter, dark brown sugar, stem ginger and both ground ginger. Warm gently until butter and sugar have melted.
Whisk the eggs with the milk, then stir in the grated beetroot and bicarbonate of soda.
Once the butter and sugar have melted, take the saucepan off the heat and add the milk, eggs and beetroot.
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and beat in the wet ingredients until they are smooth.  the  batter will be quite runny, so don't be alarmed (I was).
Fill the muffin cases with the batter - this is easier if you use a jug - and bake in the preheated oven until firm but springy to the touch. Be careful not to overcook the muffins. Remove from the tin and allow to cool on a rack.  These muffins keep really well for a few days in an airtight tin. Original recipe can be found here

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Rosewater Rice Pudding

I cannot remember the last time I had rice pudding.  I think it must have been at my parents.  Maybe I should not admit to this, but when I was a child, I remember scraping of the cooked in brown bits at the bottom of the pan, I can't see me doing that now somehow - well maybe when no one is looking.

Rice pudding is not something I make- at all in fact, as D doesn't get on well with dairy milk so much, so I avoid making too many heavily milk based dishes, until now.  The skies here are constantly overcast and I feel a bit of ice in the air too, that its got me thinking of something more rib sticking than cake - so it is time for rice pudding.  

This began as a plain rice pudding, but I enhanced it with some rosewater and rose petals.
I don't have access to any fresh roses, (duh it is November) though I do see some pink ones growing in the new neighbours garden, but I don't ask them - making do with the dried rose petals in my store cupboard.  The last time I used the jar of dried rose petals was for the Rhubarb and Rose Bread, they impart a little colour if nothing else.  If you want to see a pink shade to this Rosewater Rice Pudding to signify the rosy aspect of it, I guess you could also add a little red food colouring, but that's up to you.  I like it how it looks here.
Another reason I wanted to make some rice pudding was that I had picked up a packet of flaked rice from the supermarket.  It was okay, but I think I prefer proper rice for rice pudding, as it gives more of a chewy, teeth sticking texture. 

Rosewater (and cardamon) is a classic South Asian and Persian combination, however I know that for some of my readers 'rosewater' may not appeal being deemed either a little too feminine or perfumed (like lavender), so I  am okay with them omitting this ingredient from the the recipe.  For those of you wanting something a little more different to jeuge up your plain rice pudding, feel free to stir in perhaps maple syrup, or even for the big kids in you - golden syrup or maybe some chocolate - oh gosh the options are endless.  I am sharing a bowl of this rice pudding at SimpleLives Thursday#70 hosted by Gnowfglins.
Rosewater Rice Pudding aka Gulab Pani Ki Kheer
Serves 4 - 6
Ingredients
100g Basmati rice or flaked rice
1 litre full fat milk
4 - 6 tablespoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon rosewater or rose syrup
1 teaspoon dried rose petals.
2 - 3 tablespoons toasted almond flakes for decoration and texture
Method
Wash and soak the rice for about 15 minutes.
Drain the rice and then place in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Stir in the milk and sugar and bring to the boil.   Then lower the heat and simmer for about an hour or until you get a rich, creamy texture. 

Add the rosewater or rose syrup, and dried rose petals.  Simmer for a few minutes for the flavours to infuse, then serve garnished with the tasted almonds flakes. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Potato and Peas Frittata

Have you noticed the accidental green and creamy white theme on my blog recently?!
And just as I post this blog post, I notice that I've typed 'frittata' in the blog header, whereas it should have read 'tortilla' - a thick flat omelette made with potatoes and eggs.  Oh well, its done now. 

ThisTortilla is made with the last of my homegrown potatoes; and peas from the freezer. 
Of course, its excellent warm for Brunch, but I think it would also be very good served cold, either for a working lunch or for when you are on the move.      

Potato and Peas Tortilla
Serves 4 - 6
Ingredients
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
4 - 6 medium potatoes, thinly sliced (preferably with a mandolin)

Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of frozen peas, defrosted
5 eggs, beaten
Method
Heat oil in a frying pan measuring about 9 inches with high sides. Heat oil, add the onion and cook until soften, then add in the potatoes and cook for about 10 - 15 minutes until they are beginning to soften and turn golden, flipping them now and again. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the peas and stir for a couple of minutes to evenly distribute the peas. Gently pour in the eggs, reduce the heat and allow to set. When it appears set and no longer soft in the middle. Cover the frying pan with a plate or lid and invert the potato tortilla over onto the plate or lid. Then gently slide the upturned potato tortilla back into the frying pan. Increase the heat and cook the tortilla for a few more minutes. Transfer the potato tortilla onto a large serving plate and serve slices either warm or at room temperature.

Brussels Sprout and Mushroom Ragout

I know looking down in this cooking pot may not fill you up with much excitement, it didn't excite me either and I am the one cooking it.  But its what you serve with it.  I served this ragout  over mashed potatoes.  The shallots and the sprouts serve as the two veg on the plate, and the chestnut mushrooms - the 'meat'.  The vegetable stock also plays its part, as it simmers away it absorbs the flavours from the vegetables, becoming a good light gravy. 

If potato mash does not float your boat, then perhaps some parsley dumplings; or a cobbler topping may tempt you to try this recipe.  

Brussels Sprout and Mushroom Ragout
Serves 4
Ingredients
350ml vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 shallots, peeled
500g Brussels Sprouts, halved
2 garlic cloves, minced
300g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
350ml vegetable stock
4 tablespoons parsley, minced
Method
Heat the oil in a wide non stick pan.  Add the shallots and cook over medium heat, stirring now and again.  Once the shallots begin to brown, stir in the sprouts and sauté until they begin to soften a little.  Then add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes or so.   Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, when it comes to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes.  Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers.
For the optional toppings
For Parsley Dumpling Recipe - Follow here
For Scone or Cobbler Recipe - Follow here 

Monday, 14 November 2011

Too hard to Plot

Some of you may remember me mentioning my Dads allotment plot.  Sadly my father has decided to give up this plot.   Not for not wanting, as he really is keen on growing some of his own vegetables; and its not the hard, back-breaking work of digging and weeding that's putting him off- he was well aware of all that before taking it on. 
Its actually the location of the allotment plot.  Its at the bottom of a steep Welsh hill.  His plot is the only one down there.  He had come to terms with the fact that it was at the bottom of the hill, carrying tools back and fro.  But its the access to the water that is adding to the expected hard work of owning an allotment plot.  Even two water hoses attached together would not reach to the end of his plot.  I have to point out though, they are not allowed to use water hoses there, so you can imagine walking up and down a steep hill with bucket loads of water for a95 foot by 40foot land can only last so long; even the energetic kids have had enough of it; squirming their way out of going with their GrandPa to the allotment.  To add to this, my mothers has difficulty in walking, so has not been accompanying him to the plot either. 

My father is being realistic and envisages it getting much worse when the heavy rains and snow, making the downhill (or uphill) path slippery and therefore dangerous, so he made the decision to hand back the keys.

I also feel a little guilty - I was mean't to share and maintain the plot with him.  But my move down south has been hampered by circumstances, so he was not getting the shared interest and enthusiasm from the others in his growing ventures.  It has however dawned on me now, why these particular plots on this site were/are available - location and access to water.

Its not all bad news, he hasn't given up totally.  He did a little research and has registered with another allotment site.  Just have to wait and see when he gets a new plot; and his growing ventures begin again; and hopefully this time I will be able to be a bigger part of it.  

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Brussels Sprouts and Shallots Tart

If there is one vegetable I struggle with eating still to this day, it has to be Brussels Sprouts.  Even when I try to convince myself that they are only little baby cabbages, I get put off by the nose wrinkling wiff of them whilst cooking.  To add to that they taste awfully bitter, that no amount of brown sauce can disguise it dominant flavour.   Having said all that though, I have found way of enjoying them, such as my Christmas Brussels Sprouts Pie and Brussels Sprouts Hash. 

In this tart recipe, the sprouts bitter undertones are sweetened a little by the accompaniment of caramelised shallots and further lifted by the blue cheese.
I actually found myself enjoying this, so much so  went back for another small slice.  Its better enjoyed warm , and just about okay cold.
Admittedly the food presenter in me could have presented the tart in a more appealing manner, with green nuggets peeking through the cream and golden layer, but I wasn’t really thinking at the time.

You can just steam or boil the sprouts, but you don’t get those deep caramel flavours.
Brussels Sprouts and Shallots Tart
Blind bake the pastry tart tin and set aside. 
Follow here for the pastry recipe.
Serves  4 – 6
Ingredients for the filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 shallows, peeled and halved
2 cloves garlic, sliced
300g Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved
2 eggs, beaten
140 ml milk
100g- 120 g blue cheese, crumbled 
Salt and pepper to taste
Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5. 
Heat the oil in a wide pan, then add in the shallots and cook for a few minutes, then stir in the sprouts and garlic and cook for 6 minutes until the sprouts and shallots are just tender and golden brown.
In a measuring jug, add the milk, and beat eggs, about 80g of the blue cheese and season with pepper and a little salt to taste.
Spread the soft caramel shallots at the bottom of the tart, then top with the sprouts – either cut side up or cut side down – it is your choice.   Pour over the liquid mixture, then top with remaining cheese and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes, until set and a little golden on top.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Fruited Clementine Scone Bread

This is really a scone gone wrong recipe.  The wet mixture salvaged by pouring it into a loaf tin to create a fruited bread instead; and my oh my it turned out pretty well.
The original scone recipe from Lucy The Kitchen Maid uses an orange, but as I had a bowl of tart clementines in the fruit bowl, I decided to replace them  in the recipe.  The clementines were a tad bitter, but they worked well next to the natural sweetness from the sultanas and the delicate orange flavours in the background.
A generous wedge of this bread was sliced and toasted and then generously buttered - it was lovely for breakfast.
As requested here is the adapted recipe.  I would like to point out, I cannot find the scrap paper where I converted the cups to grams and ml, so the recipe for the time being will be in cups.
Fruited Clementine Scone Bread
Makes 2 x 2lb loaves
Ingredients 3 cups plain flour
2tablepoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup sultanas


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1generous tablespoon golden syrup
1 egg
½ cup milk
1 cup real orange juice
2 clementines, peeled and roughly chopped

Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 and line loaf tins with parchment paper.
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, then stir through the sultanas.

Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a jug, then stir in the chopped Clementine pieces.  Carefully pour this thick liquid mixture slowly into the dry ingredients.  What you are trying to achieve is a loose light batter, so you may not need all of the liquid.  When the mixture is well combined,  pour the batter evenly into the loaf tins.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden and firm on the top. Leave to cool briefly, then slice and enjoy plain or with butter. 

Adapted from Lucy’s Date and Orange Scones.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Senegalese Style Peanut Butter Soup

This is the first time I have ever made a peanut soup, albeit it with peanut butter from a jar.  I know tut tut, I should have made the peanut butter from scratch.  I hang my head down in shame as I had no excuse, I even had a large bag of peanuts in a packet.
D was a bit hesitant in trying this soup, saying curry powder and peanut butter sounded like a strange combination.  However, after the first spoonful, he was quite happy to finish it off.  He admitted though that he could not eat too much of it, as this is a rich creamy red soup.

Other than the peanuts - a main crop in Senegal, I don't know exactly what makes this soup Senegalese as this was not explained by the food writer.  I've read somewhere that 'Senghalese' should have read 'Singhalese' (cuisine from Sri Lanka), but I don't know how much truth is in that.
This soup is best eaten within a couple of days.  This is my first submission to the new food blogging event hosting by Lyndsay at Vanilla and Lemon Drops.  The theme for her November Sweet Heat Challenge #2 is ‘Spicy Soups’.

Senegalese Style Peanut Butter Soup
Serves 6
Ingredients
2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
25g coriander with stems, minced
½ teaspoon chilli or cayenne powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 x 400g can tomatoes, chopped
175g unsweetened peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
Salt to taste
Method
Heat the oil in a saucepan, then add the onion, garlic and coriander stems.  Give a stir, then cook over high heat for a few minutes to warm the onion.  Lower the heat and cook until the onion has softened, about 10 – 12 minutes.  Stir in the cayenne and curry powder.
Add the tomatoes, including all their juice and a pint of water.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Drop in the peanut butter and simmer until the onions are soft and the peanut butter has dissolved, about 15 minutes.  Season the soup with salt and serve.  Adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Spiced Root Vegetable And Lentil Stew

Well the weather here has certainly turned, I think winter has officially arrived in Scotland as I pull on my gloves, hat and scarf.  All day the air has been cold and heavy with smoky fog.

It definitely is time for casseroles, ragouts and stews, such as this one.  Its bountiful in winter root vegetables and rib-sticking red lentils.   
Although spiced, this is not a  blow your head off 'spicy hot' stew.  Its not curried in flavour either, just body warming, perfect for the weather. 

You can easily serve this stew with mashed potatoes, but I actually fancied some more herby dumplings which of course I had to shape individually into flower petals.  I think if I had guests, it would have been cool to have brought the casserole pot to the table, but hey instead I had myself to amuse - sometimes I'm easily pleased. 
The red lentils in this stew make this post suitable for My Legume Love Affair 41, the current edition of the popular, legume-centered event created by Susan, The Well-Seasoned Cook, and hosted this month by Simona of briciole.  I am also sharing a bowl of this stew with Laura who is hosting Just Another Meatless Monday #83 at hey what's for dinner mom?

Fellow blogger Ajax made a variation of this stew recently, please follow this link; and so did The Cookie Jar, please go by and check them out!
Mildly Spiced Root Vegetable And Lentil Stew
Serves 6
Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced

2 sticks celery, sliced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
700g mixed root vegetables – swede, celeriac, parsnips, potatoes, turnips and carrots, peeled and chopped in even size bites
175g red lentils
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g x tinned tomatoes, chopped
700ml vegetable stock
salt and black pepper to taste
fresh parsley, minced

Method
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions until tender, then stir in the spices and allow to infuse for a few minutes, before adding in the root vegetables and celery. Sauté for about 5 minutes, without browning, then stir in the lentils and garlic and cook for a few minutes further.  Mix in the tomatoes and stock, put a lid on the pan and leave it to simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the lentils are soft. Stir in the minced parsley.  Adapted from Rose Elliot's Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.

For the optional parsley dumplings
Makes around 8 - 12
Ingredients
110g self-raising flour
50g vegetable suet
1 tablespoon of minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Cold water to combine
Method
The dumplings need to be added 15 minutes before the stew is ready.
In a bowl add flour, vegetables suet, parsley and seasoning to taste. Add enough water to combine and make a firm, not sticky dough. Then with floured hands, break the dough into 8 – 12 pieces and roll them into rough round dumplings. Add them gently to the stew, pushing them down into the liquid. Simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the dumplings have doubled in size.