Saturday, 22 December 2012

Mini Halloumi Tarts

mini halloumi tarts in a mini muffin pan
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Here's my next Christmas canapé recipe. These little halloumi tarts can be baked in advance and frozen until needed. Defrost for a couple of hours then warm up before eating...et voilà!

Makes approx 24 mini tarts.
  • 8oz/200g halloumi cheese grated
  • 4 fl oz/100ml Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium egg
  • ½ tsp dried oregano plus 1 tsp chopped, fresh dill 
  • 10oz/250g (½ pack) ready-made shortcrust pastry
Preheat the oven to 190C/180C Fan/Gas 5/375F.
Mix the grated halloumi with the yogurt, egg and herbs.
Roll out the pastry on a floured board, to around the thickness of a one pound coin (about 3-4 mm or a 16th of an inch).
Lightly grease a 24 hole mini muffin pan.
Cut out 24x3.5"/9 cm circles...you may need to re-roll the pastry scraps for the final few!
Pop the pastry circles into the pan and press down (I used the end of my rolling pin for this, but you can buy this nifty little gadget from Amazon which is purpose made for the job!)
Generously fill each pastry case with the cheese mixture. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the pan. Serve straight away or cool and freeze until needed.

Top tip: Grate the halloumi with a food processor or use a hand grater and chop up any bits that don't make it through the grater!
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Mini Courgette and Potato Quiches

mini quiches
©
I'm in the midst of baking canapés for Christmas, so I thought I'd share a couple of recipes with you. These little vegetarian quiches can be baked in advance and frozen until needed. Defrost for a couple of hours then warm up before eating...simples!

Makes approx 24 mini quiches.
  • 4oz/100g potato, peeled and grated
  • 4oz/100g courgette (zucchini), grated
  • 1 medium onion, diced finely
  • 4 fl oz/100ml double cream
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2oz/50g vegetarian Parmesan cheese or mature cheddar, grated
  • 1 tsp chopped. fresh basil or parsley
  • black pepper and nutmeg to season 
  • 10oz/250g (½ pack) ready-made shortcrust pastry
Preheat the oven to 190C/180C Fan/Gas 5/375F.
Heat a drop of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onions for a few minutes until softened.
Add the grated vegetables, herbs and seasonings and cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Beat the egg and cream together in a jug.
Stir the grated cheese into the cooked vegetables.

Roll out the pastry on a floured board, to around the thickness of a one pound coin (about 3-4 mm or a 16th of an inch).
Lightly grease a 24 hole mini muffin pan.
Cut out 24x3.5"/9 cm circles...you may need to re-roll the pastry scraps for the final few!
Pop the pastry circles into the pan and press down (I used the end of my rolling pin for this, but you can buy this nifty little gadget from Amazon which is purpose made for the job!)

Add a teaspoonful of the vegetable mixture to each pastry case and top up with the egg and cream mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the pan. Serve straight away or cool and freeze until needed.

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Monday, 17 December 2012

Quick and Easy, Food Processor Marmalade

jars of home made lemon marmalade

I often make pickles and chutneys, but up until now I hadn't attempted home made marmalade, mainly  because I thought it would be a messy and time consuming process. However, I thought it would make a nice addition to the home made hamper gifts which I am planning to give to some of my close friends and family for Christmas, so I dusted off my mum's old recipe and had a go. 

Now, this recipe isn't a fancy one which requires you to slice the peel into slithers, so it doesn't look quite as pretty as some preserves. But it tastes great and that's the main thing! 
It's actually surprisingly easy to make, only takes about an hour and costs around £3.50 to fill 3 x 1lb/450g jars. Use smaller jars to make more presents!
  • 1lb/450g unwaxed lemons (or any combination of lemons, limes, Seville oranges or grapefruit)
  • 2lb/900g preserving sugar
  • 1½ pts/845ml/3½ cups boiled water
Wash the lemons. Cut in half and juice into a bowl. Strain the juice to remove the pips.
Cut the lemon skins in half again (picture 1).

Put the lemons, juice and ½ pint/275 ml/1cup of the water into your liquidiser jug/food processor and pulse to chop up the fruit. Do not purée until smooth - you want to be able to see small chunks of peel.
Pour into a large pan and add the remaining water. Simmer for around 30-40 minutes, or until the peel has softened and the liquid has reduced by about half. Stir occasionally. (picture 2).
4 pictures showing the stages of making marmalade
Add the sugar and stir on a low heat until dissolved. Then bring to the boil and boil for 10-20 minutes or until setting point. You can check the setting point by putting a teaspoonful of the marmalade onto a cold plate. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles and looks a bit jellified, it's ready (picture 3)! 

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Stir and then pour (carefully!!) into sterilised* jam jars. I used a nifty jam funnel, which I recently bought from Lakeland, but you could use a sterilised jug instead (picture 4).

Add a wax disk to the top of each jar and then seal with the lids. Re-tighten the lids as the jars cool. Store unopened jars in a cool dark cupboard for upto a year.

Just in case you're worried that I might spend Christmas in jail after breaking the new EU jam jar law, here's the technical bit from food.gov.uk!
There have also been recent reports in the media claiming that the FSA / EU had banned the re-use of jam jars and that this would adversely impact on charities and voluntary events. This is incorrect. An individual can reuse jam jars for occasional events. In doing so, they obviously need to ensure proper sterilisation and good hygiene in preparation. 
*Sterilise jars by washing on a hot wash in the dishwasher, or by putting clean jars and lids in a cool (110C/Gas ½) oven for 5 minutes.

I have entered this post into this month's festive NCR (if I'm not too late!)
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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Vegetarian Christmas on a budget

Well, it's less than two weeks until the big day, so you've probably bought and wrapped your pressies and ordered your food shopping. Or if you're like me...maybe not! If money is tight this year, I've got a few hints and tips to help you save money before and after Christmas without scrimping too much...

Gifts and decorations
Good, old fashioned paper chains and snow flakes are fun to make with the kids, look pretty in a fashionable, vintage way and cost next to nothing. Older children can make some beautiful felt decorations, which are pretty enough to give away as gifts. Cinnamon and apple sauce decorations are also lovely to make and smell gorgeous.

Make cards for your nearest and dearest, such as these pretty teabag folded Christmas tree cards, instead of buying them, using cheap card and paper from pound stores.

If you can't afford to buy presents for anyone other than close family and friends, but would like to give others a 'little something', make some home made hamper treats. Wrap in cellophane or cover jam jar lids with pretty material, and the gifts will look far more expensive than they really are. Fill cheap, pretty mugs with home made truffles or pound store stationary and wrap in cellophane for another budget friendly gift

Christmas Dinner
Whether you're vegetarian, vegan or just thinking about cooking a veggie Christmas dinner, you're already well on your way to saving a packet. According to The Guardian, the average price for a UK family Christmas dinner is a whopping £129.47 (a huge 14% increase on last year!). Of that, the turkey costs around £17. Swap the turkey for a nut roast and you save instantly! Smoked salmon is also very expensive this year, so swap that for goat's cheese tarts, or maybe a vegetarian pate with Melba toast and the savings start to mount.

Make a meal plan for the whole of Christmas week so you know what to buy in and so you don't waste money on things you really don't need. Think about breakfasts and lunches, snacks and puddings, as well as main meals.

Do your grocery shopping online through My Supermarket which automatically finds the cheapest store for you to shop with, depending on which items you need. Then send your trolley to your preferred retailer and book your Christmas week slot ASAP. You can always amend the items you need before your shopping is delivered, but try not to be tempted by too many 'special offers'. Alternatively, try Aldi, which is usually cheaper than the major supermarkets, although their vegetarian chilled and frozen food ranges are limited. You might also like to check out Approved Food for end-of-line and out-of-date products which often includes premium brands and some luxury foods well below RRP.

Although supermarket 3 for £5 deals sound good value, when you realise how many canapes you can make with a pack of puff pastry, a bit of cheese and a few vegetables, you might think again. So, m
ake some of your buffet foods for Christmas and New Year in advance and freeze until needed. Make your own dips on the day too/night before...they're really easy, so even the kids can help.

Left overs
Don't through away Christmas dinner leftovers. 
Save all of your left over Christmas dinner vegetables (including roast potatoes,parsnips, sprouts etc.) and gravy in air tight container and pop in the fridge or freezer until needed. Fry a chopped leek or onion in a little oil, then add the diced, left over cooked and raw vegetables and some extra stock (I use 1 litre of stock in a soup to feed 4 people) and simmer for around 20 minutes, then blend to make a delicious soup. 

Sliced, cold nut roast tastes great on Boxing Day with salads, a batch of home made chips (fries) and pickles. You can also use it up as a pate in sandwiches or on crackers if you're peckish later on!

Food between Christmas and New Year
After you've used up all the Christmas left overs, go super-budget and use store cupboard standbys for a few days. That way, you should be able to afford to put on a good spread for New Year's Eve/New Year's Day without blowing the budget.

For some more veggie Christmas meal ideas, please take a look at the Vegetarian Society Christmas Menu

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PKTMNY: A new way to manage your children's pocket money

Money has been a bone of contention in the Onykahonie house lately...mainly regarding a certain 14 year old  fashion-enthusiast with shopaholic tendencies and a busy social life! So when I spotted the opportunity to test out a new website, which allow parents to set up an account for their children and manage their pocket money online, I thought it would be well worth trying. 

PKTMNY is aimed at children aged 8 to 16 years old and allows them to keep track of their savings and manage their own money, rather like online banking. The children even get a real Visa card which they can use both online and in the high street. 

After setting up an account each for Miss Ony and Miss Kahonie, I deposited an initial cash sum for each child, added a set amount of pocket money to be added automatically each week and then decided on some specific chores with 'wages' that they could earn in addition to their basic weekly pocket money, e.g. £2 for cleaning their bedrooms and changing their sheets once a week. I then discussed this with the girls, so they were aware of just how to earn extra money and save for specific targets. There is fee for the service (£5 to join and a monthly £1 fee), but if it means that I'm not constantly handing over cash to my girls, this may well be worth the price, and could even save me money in the long term!

Having this in black and white seems much more of an incentive than just a verbal agreement as they can now do their chores and see the money go straight into their accounts.

I'm hoping that PKTMNY will encourage both girls to earn and manage their own money and stop asking for quite so many 'handouts'. I'll post again in the new year, with an update on whether this has worked or not!


Sponsored post: This post is part of a project with BritMums, sponsored by PKTMNY, highlighting it's launch. The new tool allows parents to easily pay and monitor their children's pocket money online, whilst allowing their children to earn, save, spend and manage their money in a totally safe and fun way. We have been trialling the service and all thoughts and opinions are our own.

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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Savoury Puff Pastry Tartlets

©
I'm testing out a few Christmas buffet and canapé recipes at the moment. These little bite-sized tartlets can be filled with your choice of vegetarian or vegan fillings. I have added a few suggestions below, but you can use pretty much anything you fancy.
  • 1 block of ready-made puff pastry
  • Your choice of fillings
Grease a tartlet/mini muffin/bun tin and preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/425F/Gas7.
Roll out the puff pastry until it is fairly thin. Using a cutter just bigger than the top of your tartlet or bun tin (holes wells indents...what do you call them?), cut out circles of the pastry, as close together as possible, so that you don't waste too much pastry. 
Pop the pastry circles into your tin and press down in the centre to make space for the fillings.
Fill and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until well risen and golden brown. Only add a little filling to each tartlet as the pastry will rise quite a lot. 
When cooked, remove from the tin and serve hot or warm.

I filled mine with 3 different combinations:
  • Greek (pictured left) - chopped olives, roasted red pepper and sundried tomatoes. Top with a little feta cheese and a sprinkle of dried oregano.
  • Roasted piri piri vegetables (pictured centre - vegan) - finely chop some bell pepper, courgette, mushroom and onion and fry in a drop of olive oil for around 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tbsp piri piri sauce. 
  • Roasted squash and goat's cheese (pictured right) - cube the squash and roast with some ground fennel seeds for about 15 minutes. Top with a little goat's cheese.
Suitable for freezing

If you wish to make these in advance, slightly under-cook them (so the pastry is firm but still pale). Cool and freeze. Defrost and reheat at 180C/170C Fan/350F/Gas4 for around 5 minutes.

Other ideas include: chopped tomato, basil & mozzarella, blue cheese & mushroom, roasted vegetables & pesto, garlic mushrooms, refried beans and salsa etc. Just remember to cook raw vegetables lightly first, to remove some of their juices, otherwise your tartlets will have soggy bottoms!
If you want to make mini quiches or add sweet fillings (including chutneys), use shortcrust pastry instead, as puff pastry will not hold these fillings well. 
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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Oaty Florentines

Oaty Florentines, vegan
I had some crunchy oat cereal to use up, so I thought I'd experiment with it, to make a budget version of Florentines. I also made a dairy-free version, as I wouldn't want my vegan friends to miss out on such a tasty Christmas treat! This recipe can also be made nut-free if needed, depending on which cereal you use.

Make these a few days before Christmas to add to your home made hamper, or wrap in cellophane as gifts for friends, family or teachers. 
  • 1 ½ cups of crunchy oat cereal/granola, crushed with a rolling pin if needed 
  • ½ cup chopped dried fruit and/or nuts
  • 4oz/100g soft brown sugar
  • 4oz/100g butter/dairy-free spread
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 8-10 glace cherries, chopped
  • 4 tbsp double cream (substitute for golden syrup/maple syrup for vegan option)
  • 8oz/200g chocolate/dairy-free chocolate
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/170C Fan/ Gas4/350F.

Melt the butter and sugar together in a saucepan on a low heat.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cream or syrup.
Mix in the flour and stir until you have a smooth mixture.
Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add a little more cereal if the mixture seems too runny.  

Place small spoonfuls of the mixture on greaseproof/parchment paper on a baking tray. Space well apart (5 or 6 per tray) as they WILL SPREAD!
Bake for 7-8 minutes, then remove from the oven.
Using a palette knife, gently neaten up the shape of the Florentines, by pushing the edges in a little, to make them round. 
Return to the oven for a further 1-2 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to harden for about 5 minutes, before removing from the tray and cooling completely on a wire rack.

When cold, melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl oven a pan of boiling water.
Spread a teaspoonful of melted chocolate onto the back of each Florentine and allow to set for around 10 minutes. Before it has completely set, make wavy lines in the chocolate using the back of a fork.

Not suitable for freezing. Will keep for up to a week in an airtight container. 

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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Living Kitchen: a cookbook review, a recipe and giveaway

Front cover of The Living Kitchen vegetarian cookbook
I'm an avid collector of vegetarian cookbooks, so I was delighted to be offered a copy of a new cookbook by Jutka Harstein, called The Living Kitchen: Organic Vegetarian Cooking for Family and Friends (published by Floris Books). As always, I had a good look through the book and tried out a few recipes, before I wrote up my review.

When I first received the book, it reminded me of a book I already had, but I couldn't remember which one. After reading the introduction, it became clear that it was The Moosewood Cookbook, and that this book had partly inspired Jutka to write her own cookbook.

The Living Kitchen is quite different from most other cookbooks as it not only details some delicious, organic, vegetarian recipes, but it also tells a story...
"Jutka has run the restaurant at the Harduf Kibbutz, Israel, for twenty years. This wonderful cookbook was born from her philosophy of sharing her recipes whenever asked, and the enthusiastic demand of her customers. The dishes are interspersed with captivating personal anecdotes telling of the inspirations behind her nourishing cuisine and her Rudolf Steiner-inspired philosophy of food.
The Living Kitchen offers colourful meals for children, feasts for family and friends, warming winter soups, fresh summer salads, meals for the week using seven different whole grains, plus advice on nutrition and on planning balanced meals that will nourish body, mind and spirit.
All the recipes are kosher and vegan recipes are indicated."
I found the book a little 'hippyish' in places, but not in a bad way! It contains a varied and eclectic mix of recipes, from Hungarian to Indian, which are listed by cuisine or menu rather than course or the main ingredients used. I initially found this a little strange and confusing, when I was looking for particular recipes to try out, but it does fit in with the narrative aspect of the book.

The recipes use easy-to-find ingredients and are all simple to follow with straight forward instructions in metric and imperial/cup measurements. Due to the organic nature of the book, all of the ingredients used are fresh, so some of the recipes might take a little longer than normal to prepare, if you're used to using convenience products. I would recommend the book to existing Moosewood and whole-food fans, plus anyone who receives an organic fruit and vegetable box or grows their own fruit and veg. 

Visit The Living Kitchen Blog for more recipes from the book. You can buy the book from Floris or n Amazon. I also have a copy of the book to give away, so if you like the sound of it, be sure to enter the competition below.

Here's one of the recipes I tried (and the whole family enjoyed):  Peppers stuffed with feta and ricotta*...
© Peppers stuffed with feta and ricotta

Preheat the oven to 150C (300F)

  • 2 medium onions, chopped or 2 leeks, finely sliced
  • 100g/3oz mushrooms sliced
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 1 large courgette, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Fry the onions or leeks for 5 minutes. Add the other ingredients and keep frying for 5 more minutes.
  • 200g/7oz feta cheese, grated
  • 300g/10½ oz ricotta or labane
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • half a bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • 6 red or yellow peppers
Mix [above ingredients] in a bowl. Add the fried vegetables to the mixed cheese and eggs.
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and take the seeds out. Fill the two halves with the cheese vegetable mix and place on an oiled baking pan or tray.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling turns golden brown.

*This recipe is from The Living Kitchen by Jutka Harstein, published by Floris Books.

ONE lucky reader will win a copy of The Living Kitchen by Jutka Harstein. To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter entry form below and remember to leave a blog comment to make your entry count.(UK ONLY)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Integrity Statement
I received a copy of The Living Kitchen to review and 1 copy to give away on my blog. I did not receive payment, and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family.
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Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Winter vegetarian meal planner

©
I thought it was about time I blogged another seasonal vegetarian meal plan and this time I decided to combine some of my own warming winter recipes with a round-up of dishes from some of my favourite vegetarian blogs. Most of these meals are cheap and simple to make, using readily-available ingredients.

Do you like my cute magnetic meal planning board by the way? I bought it from Poundland, but unfortunately the magnets are so weak, it drops off the fridge every time I open the door!


Week 1
Tomato soup with basil gnocchi dumplings (Veg Hot Pot)
Veggie sausages (ready-made), baked beans and mashed potatoes
Penne Puttanesca (Meatless Mediterranean)
Cauliflower and broccoli cheese bake (plus 2.4)
Reggae Reggae chickpeas with rice
Turkish vegetable casserole with cous cous
Cheese and lentil loaf with roast potatoes, gravy and seasonal vegetables (Life is Delicious)

Week 2
Minestrone soup with home made bread (The Full Fridge)
Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower curry) with chapatis (Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen)
Vegetarian meatballs (ready-made) with tomato sauce and pasta
Mushroom and spinach risotto (Tinned Tomatoes)
Roasted vegetable lasagne
Butternut squash and chickpea stew with rice (The Vegetarian Experience)
Veggie roast dinner with seasonal vegetables and Yorkshire pudding
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Saturday, 10 November 2012

Savoury Cheese Muffins

savoury muffins
©
These savoury muffins take just minutes to make, and taste delicious served warm with home made soup. They are also a great addition to packed lunches and picnics.
  • 2 cups hard, tasty cheese (e.g. extra mature cheddar, hard goat's cheese), grated 
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 level tsp paprika
  • 1 level tsp English mustard powder
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ cup chopped vegetable anti-pasti (e.g. olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers)
Mix the eggs and milk together.
Put all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the egg and milk mixture. Stir gently to combine. 
Spoon mixture into a well greased muffin tin. 
Bake at 200C/190C Fan/Gas 6/400F for 12-15 mins, or until firm and golden brown. 
Leave to cool for a few minutes and then loosen around each muffin with a knife before turning out and cooling on a wire rack.
Best eaten warm on the day you've made them.

Suitable for freezing.

Alternatives: Bake mini, bite-size muffins for parties. Reduce the cooking time to 8-10 minutes. 
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Friday, 2 November 2012

Approved Food - a review

©
I was lucky enough to win £100 to spend on products from Approved Food, after submitting my budget family food ideas to a Tots100 competition. If you haven't discovered them already, Approved Food sell a wonderfully random selection of foods and other products which are either end of ranges, approaching their use-before date or past their use-before date. As someone who is happy to eat products a little after their eat by date, this was great, but I know other people maybe slightly more wary!

The Approved Food website is easy enough to navigate, although not as user friendly as the major supermarkets' websites, mainly because the categories are more limited and the product availability changes frequently depending on is in stock. For example, you might see a great bargain one day, add it to your trolley and come back the next day to find that it's out of stock. I found the best way to shop was to go through each category picking what I could use to make different meals, plus adding a few random products just to try, or ones which I knew would keep for longer such as dried pasta, rice and kitchen products. You then need to check out that day to ensure the goods remain in stock. 

One other point worth mentioning from a veggie view point, is that there were lots of dried pulses, pasta and grains, plus some eco, organic, vegan and gluten-free products available when I placed my orders, which would cost significantly more had I bought then in a supermarket or health-food store.


I was slightly confused by the checkout process, as I expected to be able to select a delivery day/time. Instead, after checkout I was emailed with an estimated range of delivery days. I was then texted with a day (no time as yet) for my delivery, and at this point I could choose to select the allocated day or one of the following two days. After that, I then received a further text and email confirming a one hour delivery slot, which again I could choose to change if not convenient. I had already specified that I was happy for the delivery driver to leave my delivery in a specified safe place if I wasn't in, so I was happy with the time slot offered. There was also a useful delivery tracking button, should your parcel not arrive as expected and a helpful
 approved food forum, where you can ask questions about different products, delivery times etc.

My deliveries arrived on time and in good condition. Everything arrived well packaged in cardboard boxes, with each glass jar or bottle individually wrapped in bubble wrap. Taste-wise, everything was fine. Some of the out-of-date biscuits I bought were a tad soft, but not enough to spoil their taste.

On my first shop I spent just £27.73 (including delivery) on mainly packet, tinned and bottled products which should have retailed at £86.62, saving me £58.62. I spent 23.26 on my second shop, saving £44.53 compared to the RRP. However, a saving isn't really a saving unless the products are used, so I would suggest that you meal plan as you shop and don't get too tempted by the array of discounted chocolate on offer!

Integrity Statement
I won £100 to spend at Approved Food. I was not asked or required to write a review and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family. The link provided is a referral link. Pin It

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Perfect Honeycomb/Cinder Toffee

perfect cinder toffee
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Miss K and I decided that we wanted to have a go at making some honeycomb (also known as cinder toffee, Crunchie and hokey pokey depending on where you live). I've tried making this a couple of times before with varying degrees of success, so I scoured the internet looking for the 'perfect' recipe. I found that some recipes used vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, while some just used the bicarb; some recipes included butter and some didn't and some required a sugar thermometer while others didn't! So in the end, I settled on one of the most simple recipes I could find, after googling 'perfect cinder toffee', which was on  a blog called Cream Until Fluffy...which sadly no longer exists.


perfect honeycomb
©
After reading the comments, I decided to use a sugar thermometer (I boiled the sugar and syrup to between 140C and 150C or  between the 'soft/'hard crack' stages - the colour is a good indication if you dont have a sugar themometer) and I reduced the amount of bicarb by half (2 level tsp). Apart from that, I followed the recipe and method exactly. 

The only problem I encountered was getting the stuff out of the tin after it had cooled. I thought I had greased my (non-stick) tin really well, but obviously not well enough. It took me some time and determination to chisel the honeycomb out, but most of it did come out of the tin eventually! I would recommend greasing the tin, really, really well...or maybe line the tin with greased parchment paper.


As you can see from the photos, the honeycomb looks good and I can tell you that it tastes even better!

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
8″ square tin, well buttered.
 .
Combine the sugar, water and syrup in a saucepan. Put the saucepan on a low-medium heat and allow it to dissolve, stirring occasionally.
Turn the heat up slightly. Do not stir at all.
Allow it to simmer for 3-4 mins until it darkens a little – no darker than maple syrup though.

Take the pan off the heat and quickly beat in bicarb. for a few seconds. Pour it into the well greased tin and leave to cool and set. Something in the region of 3 hours. Chop, splinter and cut with a knife. Store in an airtight tin.

Recipe and method reproduced by kind permission by Anna of Cream Until Fluffy.
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Thursday, 25 October 2012

Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Burgers

vegetarian burger in a bun
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These veggie burgers take a little while to make, but I think they're worth the effort as they have a good flavour and texture and are packed full of vegetables. I used my trusty old Lakeland burger press to make them. If you make burgers regularly, it's worth getting one, as they squeeze all the air out of the mixture, leaving you with a good, solid burger which can stand up to being turned in the pan.

Makes 6-8 burgers

  • 1 cup of cooked & drained puy/green lentils
  • 1 small onion, diced 
  • 4-6 chestnut mushrooms, chopped roughly
  • 2 small/1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 150g/6oz sweet potato peeled and cubed
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 2 slices of bread, made into breadcrumbs
  • 100g grated halloumi or paneer cheese (or vegan cheddar-style cheese)
  • 1 small egg/1 tsp Orgran no egg mixed with 1 tbsp cold water (or similar egg replacer)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp English mustard powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or mixed herbs
  • Black pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/170C Fan/Gas 4/350F
Put all of the vegetables and the whole, unpeeled clove of garlic in an oven proof dish. 
Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and roast for around 20-25 minutes until softened and starting to colour.
Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then remove the clove of garlic and squeeze the cooked garlic out from the peel, onto the vegetables.

©
Transfer the roasted vegetables, lentils, grated cheese, seasonings and egg/egg replacer into the food processor.  
Blend/pulse for a few seconds, to break up and mix the lentils and vegetables, but not do not purée them. 
Add enough breadcrumbs to make a firm dough-like mixture. 

Allow the mixture to to stand for about 30 minutes.
Divide into 6-8 portions and using your hands or a burger press, shape into burgers.

Fry the burgers in a drop more olive oil for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Serve in bread rolls with your favourite burger toppings.

Alternatives: For a spicy bean and veggie burger, swap the paprika and mustard powder for 2 tsp mild (or hot!) chilli powder and swap the lentils for a cup of drained, tinned kidney beans. 

Suitable for freezing (before coking). Layer between sheets of grease-proof paper and wrap in cling-film.
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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Jack Daniel's BBQ Sauces - A review, a give-away and a recipe!

I was a little surprised to be asked to review the range of Jack Daniel's barbecue sauces, as they're a brand I would associate with meat-based rather than vegetarian meals. Never-the-less I was happy to try them out and see how well they would go with veggie food, as all of the sauces in the range are vegan.

I opened all the bottles and had a good sniff. I must admit that the smell wasn't particularly appealing, as they had quite a strong smoky aroma. The initial taste of the sauces was of the artificial smoke flavour, but after that, the sweet and spicy flavours came through. The one sauce that I really wasn't over-keen on was the Full Flavour Smoky, as the smoke flavour was overwhelming and masked the flavour of the other ingredients. The other sauces were more subtle, but I didn't feel that they tasted sufficiently different from each other to make it worth buying them all, when just one would do the job!

The sauces worked well with veggie burgers and sausages, and the Smoky Sweet Glaze tasted good roasted vegetables. After trying out a few different recipes with them, I decided that my favourite was the Hot Chilli Sauce (which was spicy rather than hot!), so that's the one I used in this dish. This recipe would work well as a Halloween or Bonfire Night meal. Just double or treble the ingredients to cook for more people.

Sausages and Beans Baked in BBQ Sauce (vegan)
Serves 4
  • 1 or 2 firm vegan sausages per person
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut in half, de-seeded and sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery, sliced
  • 1 tin of baked beans or mixed beans in tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 125ml/½ cup of bbq sauce (I used Jack Daniel's Hot Chilli Sauce)
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Pre-heat the oven to 180C/170C fan/350F/Gas 4.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in an oven-proof dish.
Add the vegetables and sausages and cook for 10 minutes.
Mix the tomato purée, vinegar and BBQ sauce together in a bowl or jug, then stir in the beans.
Pour the sauce and beans over the sausages and vegetables and stir together.
Reduce the oven temperature to 170C/160C Fan/325F/Gas 3.
Cover the dish with foil or a lid and bake for a further 30 minutes.
Serve with jacket potatoes and corn on the cob.

Alternatives: Place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook for 3 hours on high or 7 hours on low. You may wish to brown the sausages off first.

The Jack Daniel's range is now available to buy in all major supermarkets.

For more information, recipes and regular competitions, visit the Jack Daniel's BBQ Sauces website.


Integrity Statement
I received a set Jack Daniel's BBQ sauces to review and 5 sets to give away on my blog. I did not receive payment, and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family. Pack images courtesy of Jack Daniel's BBQ sauces.


FIVE lucky readers will each win a set of four Jack Daniel's sauces. To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter entry form below.(UK ONLY)
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Monday, 15 October 2012

The Spice Tailor curry sauces from Anjum Anand - a review


I'm ashamed to say that National Curry Week passed me by last week, without me hearing anything about it, so this week I'm making up for it by cooking three different vegetarian curries using three of the new curry sauces from The Spice Tailor. I regularly cook curries from scratch, so I was surprised to read that a recent survey by The Spice Tailor, found that despite tikka masala being Britain's favourite curry, only 25% of us have ever tried cooking it at home.

Celebrity chef Anjum Anand has develop her own range of sauces which makes cooking a curry at home, faster than ordering one from the take-away! There are seven sauces in the range, most of which come with a sachet of dried spices, a base sauce and a curry sauce. Recipe tips and suggestions for extra ingredients are included, but basically you fry the dried spices (with or without the optional dried chilli) in a drop of vegetable oil, then add your choice of paneer, pulses and/or vegetables (or meat/fish, if you're not vegetarian!), followed by the base sauce. After a couple of minutes, you add the curry sauce and leave to simmer for about 8 minutes.


©
I tried out three of the sauces: the Tikka Masala (which I added paneer and mushrooms to), the Punjabi Tomato (with added chickpeas and aubergine) and finally the Spiced Spinach (with added potatoes and green pepper). I pre-cooked all of the vegetables, except the mushrooms, before adding them to the curry sauces, as I knew that they wouldn't cook through in 8 minutes, however paneer, tinned pulses and meat substitutes such as Quorn would all work well and cook in the stated time if you were in a hurry. I added the whole chilli to all of my curries and fished it out before serving...we're all used to eating medium curries and I would say, even with the added chilli, all of the curries were on the milder side of medium. Some of the other whole spices needed removing before serving too, such as the whole cardamom pods and the curry leaf. You could, of course, leave them in and play 'find the spices' at the dinner table with the family!

Each of the curries looked and tasted very different from each other and the smell in my house was amazing! We all like the flavour of the Punjabi Tomato curry best, followed by the Tikka Masala. A word of warning though...the Tikka Masala didn't taste anything like a British restaurant tikka massala; it tasted strongly of cardamom and wasn't sweet and creamy. Not a criticism, as it tasted very aromatic, just not how I expected it to taste! The Spiced Spinach curry was our least favourite as it tasted a little bitter and the spinach flavour dominated the dish. I would have preferred to add fresh spinach instead. I found the sauces very simple to use, and good value for money. Although each sauce was supposed to serve two, I found that by adding extra vegetables and pulses, each one made a curry big enough to feed my family of four.
If you want more tips on cooking curries at home, tune in to Cookalong with Anjum on ‘Spice Nights’, when Anjum will be showing how to cook simple and delicious Indian dishes in just 15 minutes, using some cheats and lots of scratch cooking.  Spice Nights airs weekly on Tuesday evenings at 7.30 pm from now until 6th November. Register to watch at www.thespicetailor.com.

The Spice Tailor range is now available to buy online at www.thespicetailor.com and in Waitrose stores.

Integrity Statement
I received 3 Spice Tailor curry sauces to review and 3 to give away on my blog. I did not receive payment, and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family. Pack images courtesy of The Spice Tailor.

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My second blogoversary

Well, it's that time of year again. My blog is almost 2 years old, and to celebrate, I'll be hosting not one but two fab foodie give-aways this week. It'll be my first attempt at using Rafflecopter, so do bear with me and let me know if you find it doesn't work!

This year, other than my usual recipe and review posts, I linked up with a charity called Deki, and loaned some money to a woman called Leontine from Togo, who wanted a loan to expand her food stall business. Her loan was fully funded and the great news is that she has already paid back £130 of the £390 she borrowed. 

One last thing I must just mention...This year, I was very excited to find my blog mentioned on Red Online as one of their best vegetarian food blogs (alongside Ellen!). Not bad for some one who wondered if anyone would read her blog when she first started blogging.

Thanks for all the likes, follows, tweets, comments and competition entries over the past year...I really do appreciate them. Keep a look out for my next give-away and remember that you've got to be in it to win it Pin It

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Stuffed Butternut Squash

stuffed butternut squash on a plate with garlic bread
I love butternut squash, and as it's in season and cheap at the moment, I thought I'd experiment with a new recipe. This stuffed squash makes an impressive main course suitable for a dinner party and would also be lovely as an alternative to nut roast at Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Serves 2
  • 1 small butternut squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small red onion, diced finely
  • 50g/2oz sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 100g/4oz chestnut (or mixed) mushrooms, diced finely
  • 50g/2oz feta or hard goat's cheese, crumbled or cubed
  • ½ tsp ground fennel seeds
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 180C/170C Fan/Gas 4/350F

Cut the squash in half and scoop the seeds out using a spoon. If the cavity isn't very big, scoop out a little of the flesh too.
Drizzle the squash with a little olive oil and season with half of the ground fennel and some black pepper.
Place on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes. Turn over and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and the skin is starting to brown.

Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan.
Add all of the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, and cook gently for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly while the squash is cooking.

Remove the squash from the oven.
Stir the cheese into the stuffing mixture.
Fill the cavity of each squash with the stuffing, packing well and pressing down with a spoon.
Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes.

Serve with a tomato sauce, seasonal vegetables and your choice of roasted potatoes, pasta or garlic bread.

Alternative: For a vegan version either omit the cheese, or swap it for some chopped green olives, or vegetable antipasti.
If cooking as a vegetarian option for Christmas dinner, roast the squash (for 30 minutes) and prepare the stuffing the day before, but don't fill the squash. On Christmas day, fill the squash with the stuffing and re-heat. 

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