Monday, 17 April 2017

Risotto with Green Beans & Butternut Squash

Risotto with Green Beans & Butternut Squash

I was looking back through my blog the other day and realised that I've not posted any risotto recipes; that's probably because my girls aren't keen on risotto.

Anyway, I recently made this dish to share with friends, which went down very well. It certainly made a change from the ubiquitous mushroom risotto!
  • 1½ cups risotto rice
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 150g/6oz green beans, cut into 2.5cm/1" pieces
  • 150g/6oz Manchego cheese; half grated, half cubed (or an alternative strong-flavoured, hard cheese)
  • 75g/3oz semi-dried or sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley or oregano chopped (or ½-1 tsp dried herbs)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped (or ½-1 tsp dried herbs)
  • olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to season
Heat the oven to 180C Fan/190C/Gas 5/375F

Roast the butternut squash (drizzled with olive oil) for around 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until soft and browned. Sprinkle with the sage before the final 5 minutes of cooking time.

Cook the beans in a pan of water for around 8-10 minutes, until just cooked; drain.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan.
Gently cook the onion and garlic until soft. Add the rice and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the white wine and stir well.
Add the stock, a little at a time, stirring occasionally. Cook for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is al dente. Stir in the cooked beans and parsley/oregano.

Gently, mix in the grated cheese and chopped tomatoes. Season to taste.

Spoon into a serving dish and top with the roasted squash and remaining cheese. Return to the oven for a minute or so to allow the cheese to melt slightly.

Vegan version: simply omit the cheese or swap the grated cheese for 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes.

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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Churro Waffles with Caramel Sauce

Churro Waffles with Caramel Sauce
These churro-style waffles are cooked in a waffle maker rather than being deep fried like traditional churros. I made mine in my trusty Sage Waffle Maker, however there are cheaper gadgets on the market. You could cook these like drop scones on a large non-stick frying pan, if you don't have a waffle maker.

Makes 4-5 large waffles
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups SR flour
  • 1⅓ cups milk  
  • ⅓ cup soft brown sugar                   
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • a pinch of cinnamon
For the cinnamon sugar, mix ingredients together.
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
For the caramel dipping sauce, heat ingredients together in a pan or in the microwave and stir thoroughly.
  • 1 cup dulche de leche/caramel condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk or double cream
Beat all of the waffle ingredients together to make a smooth, thick batter.
Heat your waffle maker or frying pan on a medium-high heat.
Cook waffles until golden brown.

Whilst warm, dust on both sides with the cinnamon sugar.

Serve drizzled with the hot caramel sauce.

Top tip: Make a chocolate sauce by melting chocolate and mixing with double cream or evaporated milk. Heat gently until you have a smooth, warm sauce.
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Thursday, 30 March 2017

Black Bean Chilli Burritos

Black Bean Chilli Burritos
Since I've been back working full time, I've had less time for both blogging and cooking, so I've been devising some really quick and easy family meals down to necessity. This recipe uses store cupboard ingredients and can be made in around 15 minutes.

Fills around 6-8 wraps
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 100g/4oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tin sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 tin black beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp. chipotle paste
  • 1 handful fresh coriander/cilantro roughly chopped
To serve:
  • a pack of tortilla wraps
  • 1 pack of Mexican-style microwave rice
  • 100g grated cheese
  • salad/salsa/avocado/jalapeños etc. to serve
Heat a drop of oil in a pan, on a medium heat.
Fry the onions for a few minutes, until soft. Then add the peppers, garlic and mushrooms and cook for a further 5-7 minutes, until the peppers are almost tender.
Stir in the remaining ingredients and warm through for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the rice and warm the wraps.
Fill each burrito with some rice, beany mixture and cheese.
Serve with the optional extras.

Vegan version: simply omit the cheese and check the wrap ingredients.
Top tips: Look for black beans in the World Foods section of your supermarket, as they're usually around half the price of the branded version.
Use the same mixture to top nachos.

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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Pasta with Aubergine & Mozzarella

Pasta with Aubergine & Mozzarella
Aubergines (eggplant) are in scarce supply at the moment, due to adverse weather conditions in Europe, and the quality has been quite variable. However, I spotted some lovely plump specimens in Tesco's the other day, so came up with this recipe to use them in.

This is a really simple, vegetarian pasta dish. The aubergine  takes a little while to cook, but everything else can be thrown together in minutes.

You could swap the aubergine for courgettes, mushrooms or whichever vegetables are cheap and in season.

Serves 4
  • 2 large aubergines, sliced thickly
  • 1 ball of mozzarella, roughly torn
  • 500g packet of fresh pasta
  • olive oil for frying
For the herby dressing:
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • a handful of fresh basil
  • a handful of fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp dried mint
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 small chilli, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
Fry the aubergine in batches until soft and brown in colour (alternatively, brush with oil and bake in the oven.). Remove from the pan and chop roughly.

Make up the dressing by whizzing all the ingredients together in a mini-blender until fairly smooth, like a pesto. Warm the dressing through, in the pan which you cooked the aubergine in, while the pasta is cooking. Do not allow the garlic to colour, as this will give a bitter taste.

Cook the pasta and drain.

Mix the pasta, aubergine and dressing together. Top with the cheese.
Pop under a hot grill/broiler for a few minutes or microwave for 1 minute, if you want to warm the cheese though.

Serve with a seasonal salad.

Vegan option: Replace the cheese with some toasted pine nuts. For extra protein, add a drained tin of chickpeas to the dressing to warm through, before combining the remaining ingredients.

Variations: For a tomato sauce, simply add a can of chopped tomatoes to the dressing. Simmer for 10 minutes, before combining with the pasta and cooked aubergine.
Swap the mozzarella for feta.

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Saturday, 18 March 2017

Saag Paneer Parathas

Saag Paneer Parathas
Unfortunately, work has been taking priority recently and blogging has had to take a back seat. I've been meaning to post for a while and finally managed to finish writing up this recipe...

Although I made it through January without a morsel of cheese passing my lips, I'm afraid to admit that cheese is well and truly back on the menu.

As street food is becoming more and more popular, I thought I'd blog another one of my favourite Indian snack recipes. The same filling could also be used to stuff chapattis, tortillas or even paninis if you prefer. I use a mini-blender to chop all of the spice paste ingredients, but you could chop then by hand if you don't have one.

Fills 4-6 parathas

For the spice paste:
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1-2 green chillis, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
For the filling:
  • 250g/10oz fresh spinach (or frozen, defrosted)
  • 200g/8oz paneer, cubed
  • 150ml/ cup passata
  • 4-6 frozen, uncooked parathas (check ingredients, if vegan) 
Microwave or steam the spinach as per packet instructions. Cool and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Chop roughly, if using fresh spinach. 

Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil on a medium heat.
Fry the paneer for a few minutes, turning regularly, then remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Add the mustard seeds to the pan, along with a drop more oil. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the onion and spice paste.
Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is just starting to colour.
Add the cooked paneer and spinach and stir though.
Add the passata and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, until you have quite a dry, thick filling.

If you have a panini press or George Forman-type grill, heat it up. If not, cook the parathas one at a time in a large frying pan on a high heat.

Take one frozen paratha and heat it for 1-2 minutes on the press/grill/pan. Turn over and fill with a generous spoonful of filling. Fold in half, or roll like a burrito and cook for a further minute or two on each side, until golden brown.

Serve with onion salad and your favourite chutneys.

Vegan version: swap the paneer for a tin of chickpeas to make a chana saag filling.
Top tip:  double the amount of passata to make a saag paneer side dish.

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Saturday, 7 January 2017

Veganuary 2017

A slightly belated Happy New Year! 
I can't believe all the festivities are over and I'm back at work already!

This year, both Miss K (now aged 15) and I are attempting Veganuary. In case you don't know, Veganuary is a campaign in association with Viva! to encourage people to go vegan for January and "Eat delicious, healthy food, save lives and help the environment."

As a long-time vegetarian (myself) and a lifelong one (Miss K), I reckon we've done our bit to save more than a few farm animals' lives between us, however the dairy and egg industry does, of course, play on our minds from time to time. It's something which I don't often blog about, as I try not to be a 'preachy' type of vegetarian; I am married to an omnivore after all.

After a week of eating a vegan diet, I've only encountered a couple of obstacles. One is that you can't easily buy vegan cakes and I haven't had time for any baking...so guess what I've been craving? The second is eating out as a vegan; this seems to be incredibly difficult if you're a strict vegan but the Veganuary website has this covered for a variety of chain restaurants.

If you've recently discovered my blog, you might like to know that I try to avoid fussy recipes and fashionable 'out-there' ingredients, as I work full time and have a family to feed, who want wholesome, tasty but not weird, vegetarian meals. I don't have time to faff around for hours, or to knit my own quinoa, goji berry and spirulina brownies, but I do enjoy cooking.

Although not all of my recipes below are vegan, they are all budget friendly, relatively low in fat and can all be easily adapted (for example, if the recipe uses Quorn or cheese, simply swap for a vegan alternative.) I hope you enjoy them. Please let me know what you think, by leaving me a comment if you do try any of my recipes.

Veganuary meal plan - week 1
Veganuary meal plan - week 2
A cheap and lower-fat meal plan for Veganuary

For an amazing array of vegan recipes, take a look at the Veganuary recipe index.

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