r o a s t b e e t s & a s p a r a g u s s a l a d

June 9, 2011

This is one of my favourite recipes – adapted from Bill Granger’s ‘Bill’s Sydney Food’ book – and I’ve been making it for years. It’s a great veggie option to impress your friends with at a dinner party in the warmer months. For a vegan alternative, swap the goats cheese for some griddled polenta. Easy to make and fuss free, but looks impressive and tastes amazing. I can’t think of a better combination than beetroot, asparagus, and goats cheese.

 

 

L E N T I L S A L A D

500g dried puy lentils

extra virgin olive oil

lemon juice

6-8 vine tomatoes

1 large red onion

2 cloves garlic

bunch fresh mint leaves

maldon sea salt

cracked black pepper

 

R O A S T E D B E E T R O O T

6-9 raw beetroot

balsamic vinegar

maldon sea salt

extra virgin olive oil

 

A N D

2 bunches asparagus

2 rounds of goats cheese

small handful fresh mint leaves

 

Firstly, get your oven nice and H O T , about 210°C.

Wash your beetroot, and top and tail them to get rid of the stalk and straggly bits. Halve each beetroot. Drizzle a R O A S T I N G tray with plenty of olive oil. Then place the beetroot in the tray and brush with enough oil to make sure they’re covered. Sprinkle with maldon, and drizzle a bit of balsamic over them. Put in the oven for 40-60 minutes, turning them over half way through. If they look like they’re shriveling up a bit, or drying out, just cover the tray in foil for the last 20 minutes and that will prevent them burning and it keeps the moisture in. Once cooked, remove from oven and leave on the side til needed.

M E A N W H I L E , dice your tomatoes, chop your onions finely and chuck both into a large bowl. Chop a handful of mint leaves and add to the bowl.

Wash your lentils in a sieve or colander and them chuck them in a saucepan with cold water, enough to cover them a few inches. Put on a medium/high heat and get to the boil. Then S I M M E R for roughly 20 minutes. You don’t want them to be soft or mashable, they need to be tender enough, but still keeping a firm shape. Once cooked, strain, rinse and add to the large bowl.

In a jug make a dressing with lemon juice and the extra virgin olive oil. I generally use 1 parts lemon to 2 or 3 parts oil. Say, 50ml lemon juice and 150ml olive oil. Add finely diced garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Give it a good W H I S K with a fork and pour enough dressing over the lentils to coat the salad well (pretty much all of it!). Mix well with a big spoon!

Prepare your asparagus, by snapping off the woody ends. Cook your asparagus however you fancy. I prefer to steam mine for about 3-4 minutes over some boiling water. Once cooked, run some cold water over them to prevent them wilting.

You’re almost there! It’s just the A S S E M B L Y part from here.

Line up your plates and put a good couple of S P O O N F U L S of the lentil salad on the center of each plate. Place some asparagus (3-5) on the salad; then arrange about 3 slices of goats cheese across the asparagus in a line. Top with 3 pieces of roasted beetroot (it becomes a balancing exercise at this point!) and decorate with a few fresh mint leaves.

It’s nice when the beetroot is still warm and starts to melt the goats cheese underneath. I always make enough lentil salad and beetroot so there’s some leftover, it’s great for lunch the next day.

Serves 4

 

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s a u s a g e r o l l s

April 12, 2011

Sausage rolls are up there with my favourite nostalgic childhood treats. A big bowl of them with heaps of ketchup. There’s nothing better! I was a vegetarian for 14 years (I recently started eating meat again) and OH how I have missed these delightful pastry morsels! I used good quality pork sausage meat from a local organic butchers and they turned out really well. Add your favourite herbs or use different vegetables in the mix; it’s completely up to you.

 

 

S A U S A G E R O L L S

1 tbsp olive oil

600g pork sausage meat

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

2 packs ready-rolled fresh puff pastry, halved lengthways

1 large fennel bulb, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

small handful each of fresh sage and parsley, chopped

pinch nutmeg

1 egg, lightly beaten

fennel seeds

salt & pepper

 

Preheat oven to 200°C.

L I N E enough baking trays with greaseproof paper.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and  then S W E A T the fennel and onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a few more minutes until the fennel is soft and the onion translucent. Set aside to C O O L .

In a large B O W L combine the sausage meat, fennel mixture, breadcrumbs, fresh herbs and nutmeg. Season lightly with salt and pepper and get your hands into the bowl and S Q U E L C H it up well.

Spoon the mixture into a P I P I N G bag without a nozzle, and pipe the filling down the centre of each length of pastry. Use your own judgment regarding how thick you want the sausage rolls to be, but make sure there is enough pastry on either side of the filling to fold over and seal the edge. A 10 pence piece in diameter for the filling should be about right. Brush a little egg along one edge, roll it up and gently press to secure.

Using a S H A R P knife, slice each roll into smaller sausage rolls, about 4cm wide. Place them on the baking tray with space between each, and brush with the beaten egg. Make sure the rolls are seam side down to hide the ugly bits and prevent them splitting open when baked. Sprinkle with a few fennel seeds.

C H I L L the trays of rolls in the fridge for about 15 minutes then pop into the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.

Makes about 25, but we ate them so quick I couldn’t keep count!

 

 

 

p e a n u t b u t t e r c u p s

March 1, 2011

I found a recipe for peanut butter cups posted on design*sponge a week or so ago and I just HAD to make them. It never occurred to me that they would be so simple to make, not to mention fun! So here is my version, adapted from Ashley English’s recipe. They taste delicious.

 

 

P E A N U T B U T T E R C U P S

200g dark belgian chocolate

200g milk belgian chocolate

2-3 plain digestive biscuits

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/2 cup vanilla infused icing sugar, sifted

generous pinch Maldon sea salt

 

L I N E a muffin tray with 12 paper cases.

Take 100g dark and 100g milk, and C H O P into pieces. Place in a double boiler and melt the chocolate stirring it well to combine.

Pour a tablespoon of M E L T E D chocolate into each paper case and roll it around the sides by tilting each case in your hands, or use a pastry brush to get the chocolate about two thirds up the sides. Cover the tray in cling film and put in the fridge for about 15 minutes or until set.

Place your biscuits in a ziplock bag and S M A S H them with a rolling pin until they form fine crumbs. Put into a large bowl with the icing sugar, peanut butter and salt. Combine well and use your hand to help bring it all together into a smooth ball. Cut into 12 equally sized  pieces, and roll each one into a small ball.

Take the tray out of the fridge and D R O P a ball of filling into each case, pressing gently to flatten a little.

Now get the remaining chocolate, and M E L T in the double boiler as before. Once melted, and stirred well, pour a little over each cup until you’ve used up all the chocolate. It should cover the filling so you have none poking through the surface. Give the tray a gentle shake from side to side to knock out any air bubbles. Cover the tray in cling film and place it flat in the fridge for about an hour to set.

Makes 12. Lasts about 12 minutes.

 

s p a n a k o p i t a

February 20, 2011

 

This is a family recipe and one that I remember from my very early childhood. If you want your kids to eat spinach, this is the way forward. When I was a kid, my mum would ask me and my brother what we wanted for dinner on our respective birthdays, and 9 times out of 10 we’d shout “cheese and spinach pie please!”. It’s probably evolved over the years, but this is the version I have scribbled in my notebook at the moment. A seriously tasty dish, it’s about time I shared it on here.

 

cheese and spinach pie

 

 

S P A N A K O P I T A

500-600g fresh spinach leaves

5 large free range eggs, beaten

2 packs feta cheese, crumbled

2 packs filo pastry (about 8 sheets)

5 spring onions, chopped

450ml sour cream

butter, melted

nutmeg

salt & pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Firstly, W I L T the spinach with a tiny splash of water in a big pot on a medium/high heat. Keep the lid on, and turn the leaves over once or twice to wilt them evenly. As soon as they’re wilted, remove from the heat and leave to cool in a drainer. Once cooled sufficiently, squeeze out the excess liquid as much as you can and then chop roughly.

Prepare the F I L L I N G by combining the beaten eggs, feta, sourcream, chopped wilted spinach,  and spring onions in a large bowl. Using a fine grater, grate a good 1/2 tsp of nutmeg over the mixture. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, but not too much as the feta is quite salty. Mix well.

B R U S H a large square or rectangular overproof dish with some melted butter, just enough to coat the base and sides. Take one sheet of filo, brush it all over with butter, and layer it into the base of the dish, with a good third to half of the pastry hanging over the side of the dish. Repeat with another sheet of pastry, but position it so it hangs over the other side. Use about 5 or 6 sheets for the base, positioning them so every edge has some pastry hanging over. Remember to brush each layer with butter as you go!

F I L L the dish with the mixture. Then, one edge at a time, fold the overhanging layers of pastry over the top of the dish, like a parcel. Get one more sheet of pastry, butter half of it width-ways, and fold in half so the butter sticks it together. Butter it again and lay it on top of the pie to give it a tidy surface. Using the pastry brush, poke the edges into the side of the dish. If one sheet halved is not enough to cover the top of the pie, just repeat. Drizzle a little butter onto the top, and brush it all over. this will give the pie a lovely crackly golden top.

Put in the oven and B A K E for about 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, turn the oven off and leave for a further 10 minutes. This will help the filling to set a bit.

Makes enough for about 4-6 people, depending on how greedy you are…. Serve with a big fresh salad.

 

cheese and spinach pie 2

 

e g g y c r u m p e t s

November 7, 2010

 

I have to admit, crumpets are up there with my favourite foods of all time. Since I was a kid, I’ve eaten them with lashings of butter, golden syrup, or even vegemite (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it). I couldn’t contain my excitement when I read a Jamie Oliver recipe which made french toast out of the humble crumpet. G E N I U S ! I’ve made these a few times, and you could go in a sweet or savoury direction with them, it’s really up to you. This time I decided to serve them with crispy pancetta and maple syrup (sweet, and savoury on this occasion then!).

 

 

E G G Y C R U M P E T S

4 crumpets (the quality spongy ones!)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

4 strips of lightly smoked pancetta

maple syrup

maldon salt

pepper

vegetable oil

salted butter

 

Prepare the crumpet B A T T E R by seasoning the beaten eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper. Turn on the G R I L L and lay each strip of pancetta out on the grill tray and pop into the oven on a high shelf. Keep an eye on them, they’ll only take 3-5 minutes. Once they look autumnal in colour, and are starting to crisp up, remove and place on kitchen towel.

Heat a skillet or fry pan over a medium-high heat and add a tablespoon or so of oil. Once it’s quite hot, add a small knob of butter. One by one, S O A K each crumpet in the eggy batter flipping them over and making sure every nook and cranny is covered. Place in the pan, porous side up. Repeat with the remaining crumpets. If there’s any batter left over, drizzle it over the crumpets, into their holes. Once G O L D E N on the underside – a couple of minutes – flip over and fry the other side until the same colour is achieved. Remove from heat.

To S E R V E , stack 2 crumpets on each plate and place two pieces of crisp pancetta on top. Drizzle with maple syrup and eat warm, with a big pot of coffee on the table. A perfect lazy sunday brunch. Serves 2.

 

 

 

s u s h i a n d t e m p u r a

August 11, 2010

 

 

I made another lot of sushi on the weekend, and managed to take one or two pictures, although completely failed to collect any evidence of my first attempts at tempura which actually turned out pretty good. I’m terrified of hot vats of bubbling oil, and i’d already had a tsingtao or two, but they turned out crispy and delish! I cooked up batches of eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, butternut squash, and shiitake mushrooms. I think the secret of my success was in the preparation. Chilling the flours, soda water and vegetables well in advance gives the light and delicate batter that’s essential for a good tempura. Not a bad first attempt!

For the sushi I made a bit of everything. A variety of nigiri, including my favourite, tamago nigiri. I also made red pepper nigiri, by roasting red peppers and peeling the blackened skins off before assembling slices of the pepper onto the prepared nigiri rice bases. A bit of wasabi applied to each topping helped adhere the topping to the base.

We had veggos and vegans in the mix so I procured some marinated tofu pouches which taste really yummy lined with toasted sesame seeds and filled with rice. I also made some tofu hosomaki and futomaki, using some strips of marinated and fried tofu. The inside out roll was a particular hit, half rolled in toasted sesame seeds and filled with a variety of fillings. Fillings included crab sticks, cucumber, asparagus, tamago (japanese egg omelette), carrot, and butternut squash.

 

 

a p p l e s a n d t h i n g s

March 30, 2010

 

Well it’s been a crazy busy month, so I have had to neglect my blog somewhat over March. Lots of new and exciting things happening, check out the ETSY link to the right hand side of the main page for a link to mine and Andrew’s new Lost & Found shop, selling all sorts of vintage goodies. We’re adding more and more things, so keep checking back!

Fortunately for you lovely folk, I will have a huge backlog of recipes to put up on here over the next week or two, and quite a few of them will be vegan! I’m hosting a dinner party this Good Friday and the menu is expansive and caters for vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores! So expect a flood of recipes to hit you after Easter, to make up for the previous weeks!

And to wet your taste buds, here’s a picture of one of the recipes to come; a vegan apple pie cake.

 

 

s h i i t a k e a n d f e n n e l q u i n o a

February 26, 2010

I love quinoa. It has a great nutty flavour and is so versatile. But I very rarely cook with it, and I don’t know why! So here’s a great vegan recipe I found that uses quinoa and fennel, another ingredient I neglect far too often. The soy in this dish is very subtle, and this could quite happily sit as an accompaniment to most dishes and cuisines. 

 

 

Q U I N O A S A L A D

2 cups dried quinoa

1 Litre water

maldon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

5 cloves garlic

1 large fennel bulb

1 punnet fresh shiitake mushrooms (200g)

4-5 spring onions

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

2/3 cup roasted salted cashews

1 large handful of coriander

1 large handful of flat leaf parsley

1 lime

 

Prepare the Q U I N O A by rinsing thoroughly in cold water, and draining with a fine sieve. Add to a wok on medium heat, and stir well for a few minutes until the grains are dried and very lightly toasted. Remove from heat.

Heat the water in a saucepan and add a pinch of salt. Once it comes to the boil add the quinoa, reduce heat and S I M M E R gently – stirring occasionally – for about 10-15 minutes, or until grains are just cooked. Their little tails should sprout out of the grains when they’re ready. Drain them in a sieve and set aside.

Meanwhile, P R E P A R E the vegetables. Chop the garlic finely, slice the fennel thinly, slice the mushrooms thickly, chop the spring onions, chop the herbs finely and zest and juice the lime.

Clean the W O K and add a splash of oil. Put on a medium heat and then add the garlic, stirring well for about 1 minute. Transfer the garlic to a large bowl, and add another dash of oil to the wok. Now add the fennel to the wok and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to the bowl with the garlic. Add a bit more oil to the wok, followed by the shiitake. Fry for several minutes before adding the spring onions. Cook for a minute more, then stir through the soy sauce and vinegar. Transfer to the same bowl, along with the chopped herbs, cashew nuts, lime juice and zest, and finally the quinoa. Turn it through well. Check for seasoning, and serve whilst warm. Serves 4. 

Nb. Being the naughty non vegans that we are, me and Andrew had this with battered king prawns on top. It’s a very substantial dish without though, so would be perfect on its own!

 

 

 

r e d v e l v e t c a k e s

February 22, 2010

This is the recipe I used for the cupcakes I sold at the ShOP Valentine’s Day Baking Extravaganza I posted about earlier. This is a teeny bit more complicated than your standard cupcake recipe as there are a fair few ingredients and it calls for silly amounts of red food colouring (which ends in silly amounts of mess!). Typically red velvet recipes require buttermilk which is not an easy ingredient to obtain! So instead I am using a mixture of vinegar and milk which works as a perfect substitute in this case. I kept it simple, icing them in white vanilla butter frosting. The contrast of the white against the deep red sponge is gorgeous and works so well! 

 

 

R E D V E L V E T C A K E S

250g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

1 tsp maldon sea salt

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 bottles red food colouring (78ml)

115g butter

375g caster sugar

2 large eggs (or 3 small)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

1 Tbsp white cider vinegar

1 tsp white cider vinegar

 

V A N I L L A F R O S T I N G

200g softened butter

200-300g sifted icing sugar

vanilla extract

milk

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line muffin trays with paper cases. Firstly you need to prepare the buttermilk S U B S T I T U T E. In a jug, add 1 Tbsp of the cider vinegar, and top up with the cup of milk. Leave it on the side for at least 10 minutes. It will thicken and look a bit lumpy, a bit like cultured yoghurt. This is OK.

Meanwhile, start to make the cake B A T T E R by sifting the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Gently combine the red food colouring and sifted cocoa powder together in a separate smaller bowl til smooth.

B E A T the butter and sugar til light and fluffy in another large mixing bowl. Gradually beat the eggs into this mixture, followed by the vanilla extract and red cocoa paste. Once combined, add a third of the flour mixture and mix well. Then add half of the milk and vinegar concoction. Stir well, then add another third of flour. Mix, then add the remaining milk. Finally, add the last of the flour and mix well to incorporate. 

 

 

Lastly, combine the tsp of baking soda with a tsp of cider vinegar in a cup, and once dissolved stir this into the cake batter. F I L L the paper cases about two thirds of the way up, and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. You can test whether they’re done by pushing a toothpick or kebab stick into the centre of the sponge. If it comes out clean, they’re ready. These cakes do take a little longer to cook than conventional vanilla cup cakes!

C O O L the cakes in their tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 20. 

To make the F R O S T I N G , beat the butter in a bowl until it’s as white and smooth as you can possibly get it. This is a good time to be the proud owner of an electric mixer (Woe is me! ). Then sift in the icing sugar, a bit at a time, beating to incorporate it. Add a tsp of vanilla and beat it in until you reach a smooth spreadable consistency. If it’s too runny, add more icing sugar; if it’s too stiff, add a splash of milk.

To D E C O R A T E , pipe icing onto the cooled cakes. Then decorate with any candy you can find! Hundreds and thousands, shavings of chocolate, sprinkles, jelly beans, smarties etc… I cut little hearts out of layers of licorice all-sorts and used them to decorate the centre of each cake. The world is your cupcake! 

 

S h O P b a k i n g e x t r a v a g a n z a

February 22, 2010

A couple of weekends ago I took part in a wonderful Valentine’s Day event at ShOp on the Christmas Steps in Bristol. I brought down a selection of cupcakes to sell in ShOp, and Jayne who runs ShOp, had her mum Linda in to kindly spend the afternoon doing baking demonstrations and encouraging everyone to muck in and make some treats to take home! We made peppermint creams, shortbread, and scones. It was a huge success and by the end of the day we managed to get icing sugar and flour in almost everyone’s hair. The mark of a good baking session i’d say!

 

p e p p e r m i n t c r e a m s

 

I sold three varieties of cupcake including vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, red velvet cake with vanilla frosting, and vanilla cake with zesty lemon frosting! All individually iced and decorated, and boxed and tied up with a ribbon for those unsuspecting significant others on V Day! I’ll include the new recipes in my next blog update. For now I’ll just share a few pictures from the day.

 

v a n i l l a f r o s t e d c a k e

 

Jayne and Emma making peppermint creams.

 

p e p p e r m i n t c r e a m s

 

t h e c u p c a k e s t a l l

 

b a k i n g t o o l s

 

p e p p e r m i n t h e a r t s

p e p p e r m i n t h e a r t s

 

Emma and Linda making peppermint creams

 

It was a fantastic day and we hope to do something similar in ShOp again soon! So watch this space, as you’ll be the first to know about any future cooking events there! Don’t forget to check out their website at http://www.shoptheshop.co.uk/