Wednesday, 24 June 2015

My Little Bucket Garden: Lush green leaves...

Rocket & Roses Garden Play List:

Beethoven Adagios

Indulge me a little please as I give you an update on my garden project. Kitchen time has been very little but hopefully that will change very in the meantime this is what I have been up to..

A little garden decor...

I just happened to have a couple of old nails in my garden wall and I found these hanging ornaments for £4. I like them very much. The yard is a little shabby right now but I have plans to brighten it up. And these ornaments are just the start...

This is the space in which I have to work...not tiny I know but just the perfect size for me

The five orange buckets along the back wall are all my courgettes and squashes. We are going to build a frame for them to grow up. They are thriving and can't wait to create some new spaghetti squash recipes. 

Flourishing bell pepper centre

I'm hoping that I can successfully grow some bell peppers. Some are doubtful because of the typical English weather we're having. But I remain hopeful as they seem to be growing despite the lack of heat..

Beetroot buckets...the two larger buckets have Rainbow Beets & Stripey varieties

We have a very boring selection of beetroot available here. So I knew I needed to try and grow some other beautifully coloured types...very excited about these as I am a beetroot fan. 

My first strawberries!

I made a choice not to grown fruits this year as I already have an established apple tree and cherry tree on the property. However I couldn't resist this hanging strawberry plant and the first fruits are already beginning to ripen. I know I won't have enough to cook they are going to be my gardening 'snack' treat...unless the birds beat me to it..

Marigold's make for good pest my french beans should be safe...

Years ago we found an old Irish sink at the bottom of the garden and we dragged it up to the yard. Now it is planted with some french beans and marigolds. The french beans will hopefully grow up to cover the wall...

Industrial shelving project...

We picked up these industrial shelving on sale and they have been fantastic. Our yard tends to be a wind tunnel so we needed something sturdy. It holds a grow bag with tumbling tomatoes and tumbling dwarf beans on the top. The other shelves are used for protecting seedlings until ready to be planted up and some of my herbs...

Two troughs of radish and some sunflower (Russian Giant) seedlings

As with beetroot we don't have a lot of choice when buying radishes. Recently we have been able to buy Mooli/Diakon as a weekly veg but rainbow coloured and anything more exciting just isn't an option. So I have two types growing and this one my Mum is eagerly awaiting to harvest. I am growing some Russian Giant sunflowers to give the yard some colour. I did have more than three pots...until my lovely nieces decided to liberate a pot each..

My herbs pt1

My first planted out herbs were fennel, parsley, lemon thyme, common thyme, oregano and chives....but that didn't quite satisfy my needs so...

...this happened. My herbs pt 2

A recently purchased washing up bowl (which turned out to be too big for our kitchen sink...) was filled and then Vietnamese coriander, dill, sage and tarragon were planted. And in my one remaining bucket I have a thriving common mint and a lemon mint. And now I also have an Apache chilli pepper plant on my kitchen windowsill..with an abundance of chilli buds.

It's been a very hospital dense time so I have been taking great comfort in my little garden. I take a moment in the afternoons when the sun is warm to sit out with a drink and soak in some much needed VitD. Happy moments can happen wherever you are if you allow them to happen...

Thanks for loyally stopping by everyday folks...I will be back with a recipe posting very soon. 


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Moosewood's Sweet and Sour Lentils (vegan and gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Cole Porter ~ You Are So Nice To Come Home To
Keith Urban ~ You'll Think Of Me
Soul Asylum ~ Just Like Anyone
Black Stone Cherry ~ Fade Away
Uh Huh Her ~ Run
Shakira ~ Donde Estas Corazon
Evanescence ~ The Only One
Garbage ~ Queer
Count Basie ~ There Will Never Be Another You
Black Stone Cherry ~ Hell Or High Water
Eric Clapton ~ Wonderful Tonight
The Zutons ~ Remember Me
Don Williams ~ Love Me Over Again
Kevin Kline ~ La Mer

Finally...a recipe post...I hear you say. No I don't because you folks are endlessly patient with me and I cannot thank you all enough. I haven't been in the kitchen at all over the last few weeks...a break away and medical blah blah being the reasons. So this recipe is brought to you by the combined efforts of ML and myself. I sat at the dining table chopping and 'supervising' whilst ML run the kitchen side of things. Thankfully we work extremely well as a team...

Now when blogging the recipes tested from Other Peoples Kitchens I try to not consecutively post recipes from the same book unless I'm actually writing a review. However there are occasions where I make a dish and it is so good that I make an exception to that rule. Today's posting being one of those very recipes. It comes from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites cookbook. My recently bought extremely abused used copy of this book has been a marvel. Packed with really good, healthy recipes. A £1 well spent I'd say...

At the weekend I was craving lentils. I have these days where nothing else but a steaming bowl of lentils or cold/warm lentil salad will do. I feel intense guilt when I'm unable to cook meals for myself and therefore hate having to ask ML to make something labour intensive just for me. (ML suffers from an Auto-immune condition so we eat polar opposite foods. ML's being mainly white rice, potatoes, some fish, chicken and beef) A lot of the foods I crave can make ML very ill. So when I find a recipe that is simple in making and won't maim ML its a very happy find. 

For years my only experience of sweet and sour was of the MSG filled take out varieties. Gloopy, sticky, unbearably sweet and filled with artificial colourings. Not great. Until I made my own I considered this dish repugnant. Now I really like it as I can control what goes into the ingredients. So when I flipped the pages of the cookbook and found Moosewoods Sweet and Sour Lentils I knew it was the recipe for that particular craving. 

It couldn't be more simple to make. The brown lentils are cooked in a mixture of apple juice, water and fresh ginger. The additional veggies have a brief time in a skillet and then are mixed in with the lentils. The only changes we made was to sub soy sauce for Braggs but you could also use Tamari to keep it gluten-free. I cooked it for a little longer at the end after adding the Braggs and rice vinegar. There was a lot of liquid at the end but as we made ours in the morning and I didn't eat mine until the evening it had soaked up the juice and made the lentils plump and juicy whilst the veggies still had a crispness to them which delighted me. The flavour is subtle but very enjoyable. I served mine with sides of brown rice and fresh garden peas. This dish may not be a looker but what it lacks in appearance it sure does make up for in taste and textures. I know this will be a regular dish in my kitchen...

Moosewood's Sweet and Sour Lentils (vegan and gluten-free)

Moosewood's Sweet and Sour Lentils       Serves 4-6
(Recipe from Moosewood's Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites Cookbook)

1 1/2 cups brown lentils
2 cups unsweetened apple juice
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cups water
1 cup chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
2 tsps canola/rapeseed oil
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 courgette, diced
1 tomato, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce (I used Braggs)
2 tbsp rice vinegar 

chopped spring onions to garnish

Rinse the lentils. Combine them in a saucepan with the apple juice, water and fresh ginger. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add a little more water towards the end of cooking if necessary to prevent sticking.

While the lentils cook, saute the onions, garlic, and carrots in the oil for about 5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.  Add the pepper, courgette and tomato, cover, and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, until just tender. Stir in the soy sauce and rice vinegar.

When the lentils are ready, combine them with the vegetables. (Reds note: This is where I allowed mine to cook for another 5 minutes then removed them from the heat to mulch. ~R~)

Serve with rice and garnished with the chopped spring onion.


Thanks for stopping by and I hope your day is sunny as mine..


NB: This recipe is not my own and therefore take no credit for it whatsoever. It is the hardwork and creation of the folks at Moosewood Collective and theirs alone. I thank them for a great cookbook. ~R~


Thursday, 11 June 2015

My Little Bucket Garden: I have seedlings!

Rocket & Roses Garden Play List:

Chopin Nocturnes 

It has been very heavy on the medical front here so I am taking solace in my new project...My Little Bucket Garden. I have a sizeable yard right outside my kitchen window and I have been thinking and plotting for some time about utilising the space to grow some of the vegetables that I find it hard to buy around here. Spaghetti squash, rainbow radish, chards and an array of kale for example. I am on a extremely tight budget so buying the suggested containers that all the specialists recommended was definitely not going to happen. Then just by chance we were visiting a local DIY store and in the front of the store were hundreds of bright orange 'container' sized buckets and they were being sold off at £1 each. Perfect! And I loved the bright orange which really cheered up the yard. I also picked up a large red box for my carrot experiment at a good price and then some smaller troughs at various budget stores. I have to confess when I first started pricing up the containers I nearly passed out...for a brand new trough in the smallest sizes...£5! I haven't spent that collectively on the troughs I needed. Geez. 

I have to say now that I know bucket/containers aren't ideal and in a perfect world I would 1. Be well enough to take over the substantial vegetable garden ML started a few years ago..although it's buried under a neighbours Willow tree now and therefore deadly to ML 2. Buy stoneware containers that are more eco friendly. But sadly that is not my buckets it is. 

I've been delighted with my make shift green house (in my bathroom window!!) and I have been extremely excited to watch my Fizz Kale seedlings grow from tiny little green specks into sun and water hungry shoots. This weekend they will be thinned out and planted out into buckets. I also have Shiso seedlings and oregano seeds in my 'green house'. I know, I know I did promise I wouldn't turn into a gardening bore but a little update now and then can't hurt, eh? Oh hush now...I'm happy..

My little babies seedlings....Fizz Kale....11/6/15
In the garden I now have various radish seedlings, other kale seedlings, yellow courgette seedlings, spaghetti squash seedlings, various beetroots and finally some signs of life from the carrots. My herb garden is coming along nicely with beautiful lush greenage from thyme, curly parsley, oregano, fennel, chives and mint. I hope to add some borage to that mix but I've never grown it before so I'll have to be patient and wait and see if the seeds take. I'm loving this project...

ML used to spend a lot of time down in the garden and I would try and understand the peace it used to provide in our chaotic world. But now I can say I understand completely...although the actual work is exhausting to me...I do enjoy every single second of being out there..soaking up some much needed VitD. I sit at the old table, that we rescued and stripped down and made good again, with my afternoon coffee and feel such a sense of relief. Although it's been very confusing for the four-legged fella who cannot understand why we have moved everything around and brought such stinky plants into his little world. 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope that I can bring you a food based blog in the next couple of days...

~Red~ the green fingered...who knew? :-)

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Catch Up Time: holidays, lurgys, food carvings and James Rhodes appreciation

Hello there folks...I cannot believe its been so long. That said I thought I would update you about recent goings on at R&R HQ. So here goes....

Kessington Sands (shingle), Lowestoft. Photo courtesy of Ann
Our break away by the beach was a peaceful time. We stayed in accommodation 2 minutes walk from the beach although it was one I was unable to do so Ann took a few photos for me. Isn't this one great? But it was nice to be near the beach and we enjoyed a couple of days out exploring. Our friend Bev suggested nearby Southwolds and it was just lovely.  We ate at a fab little cafe who were vegan friendly and I devoured delicately ate...ahem...a plateful of mixed salads. Roasted fennel, artichoke, pepper & asparagus being my favourite of the offerings. ML & Ann also had great meals and although it was extremely busy in No 51 the atmosphere was very relaxing. I just wish we had found it earlier in the week...ah well. Should you be visiting Southwolds any time soon..check it out. 

I found an almost zenlike moment of peace sat in the gardens of Framlingham Castle whist ML and Ann took the tower walk. Warm sunshine on my skin, peaceful surroundings and that feeling you get when you are sat somewhere drenched in history.

The week away was nice and ML and Ann both got the space and healing time they needed. I struggled though..the pain was bad so I slept little and by midweek I was bouncing off the walls with sleep deprivation and pain overload. But I was happy to be there and enjoyed sitting by the window watching the sky as the weather was extremely changeable and intensely beautiful. On the final day I started to feel odd and by the next morning as ML and Ann were packing up the car I was in full on lurgy mode. 

Yep...I went on holiday and came home poorly! Go

The drive home was long and hot and I was an incubator for the germs I'd picked up. I managed a quick visit with my sister and little ones (all gifts loved and approved..Auntie points 10/10 lol) and then I crawled into my bed...and never made it out for a whole week. The lurgy completely floored me and it was nasty. But made bearable because of ML's TLC. Who when not making nutritious homemade soups for me to eat was found on the bed next to me administering hugs and playings games to keep me rested. And luckily didn't catch the lurgy from me...bonus. I was determined to get through it without medications and I am proud to say I did. Took some time to feel even remotely human but I stuck it out and now my body doesn't have to recover from a serious dose of anti-bios. I'm still a little shaky but I'm lurgy free...wehoooo. 

Cucumber carvings...hush..they were my first attempt...I will keep practising lol

So what does a person on rest, do on holiday? Well take up the practise of Japanese food carvings of course. I picked up a bargain copy of The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carvings by Hiroshi Nagashima shortly before we left for our holiday. It is a great book with clear instructions and inspirational photos...I say inspirational because they make the art of food carving look easy. It isn't...believe me. 

And now for the radishes and carrot needs practice...
Sorry about the quality of the photos...oh and the crude carvings...but I am committed to keeping up the practice. I found it to be challenging at times...but all consuming and it took my mind away from the pain and frustrations that come with it. It was this space...

My little garden....
We recently made the decision the take our house off of the market and stay for a while. The reasons are many...but the outcome has brought us some peace of mind. We are happy with our decision and therefore making plans based around it. We are taking up some home maintenance jobs around the house that we will work on ourselves and I am very much up for that challenge even if I only manage 30 minutes a day. I love doing 'jobs' around the house and have missed doing them greatly so I can't wait to get started but obviously my body isn't keeping up with my heart/mind. But I am determined and so is ML so it's all good. One of the main things I wanted to get started was a reorganisation of the gardens. Our property has a substantial garden area. Thankfully divided up into sections...the majority of the garden which ML was responsible in the past (no longer due to major reactions to anything green and natural..) we are going to offer up for someone to make into a fully functioning allotment. But the large yard directly outside my kitchen window we have cleared and I have made a 'container' vegetable garden. I have no idea if it will work but I have researched everything I needed to and I'm very enthusiastic that it will. With the helpful advice from ML I am hoping to have an abundance of veggies in a short while. Planted as follows:

Spaghetti squash
F'Atena Yellow courgettes
Junona squash
Tumbling Tom cherry tomatoes
Orinoco Dwarf Beans
Bell Boy Bell Peppers
Californian Wonder Bell Peppers
Marconi Pointy Peppers
Rainbow Beetroot
Chioggia Beetroot
Bright Lights Swiss Chard
Black Magic Kale
Fizz Kale 
Rhubarb Beet Leaf Beet
Dragon F1 Hybrid Radishes
Rainbow Mixed Radishes

Still to come shiso leave seeds. And an abundance of herbs...

I have chosen many veggies for the simple reason that I can't buy them in my area of England. So I am very happy to be starting this project. Once there is something to see I shall post some photos but I promise not to turn into a garden bore. Hopefully... I have a new addiction. Although I am and will always be an espresso gal. I have to admit that caffeine doesn't suit my body anymore. I have my adored machine waiting for the days when I allow myself the espresso hit. I have unsuccessfully been trying to find a good decaf coffee for years. I have tried many...some worse than others but always a let down. Its frustrating because sometimes I just need a black coffee instead of my beloved green teas and the like. 

A really good Fair Trade decaf instant coffee

I don't know what dragged me down the coffee aisle of the supermarket whilst away on our holiday. But before I knew it was scanning the instant coffee offerings. I am by no means a purest when it comes to regular coffee. Espresso...oh yes but regular cuppa joe...oh no. Yes I prefer the filtered kind...but if I can find an instant than I am happy. Percol have never even blipped on my radar until that day. Something drew me in and I had stashed a jar of this decaf coffee in my trolley. And I couldn't be happier about it. ML made me a cup when we got back from the shopping trip and from the moment the jar was opened I knew it was going to be a good one. The aroma assaulted my senses and brought me back to all my most loved coffee drinking memories. I almost didn't want to take a sip and face the disappointment but the swirling blackness worked its magic and I took my first taste. Smooth, strong and a great depth of flavour...aside from the jolt you get with regular just wouldn't know it was a decaf coffee. I now look forward to my afternoon coffee moment...and its Fair Trade too! Thank you Percol! If you have to have decaf or just simply choose to drink decaf...try this coffee I beg you. After all there are worse addictions to be had, eh? 

And lastly...and by no means least...Mr James Rhodes. I confess I had never heard of the chap until very recently. I was checking in with the Hay Festival via iPlayer and happened upon an interview between Stephen Fry and James. From the first answer to Fry's question I was taken. James Rhodes life story is at times brutal but not in a 'misery for money' way. He is honest which above all else I respect. And found myself ordering his autobiography for my Kindle a few days later. The impression he made stayed with me. 

The autobiography that almost never happened....

You only need to Google his name to read about the battle he has been through to get to publish his book. It was long, tortuous battle but despite this he remains loyal to his truth. Where lesser people would have given up and limped away..he with the support of his wife, family and good friends kept going. And I for one am so happy that he did because I have been so emotionally touched by this book...his life...his words and the way he looks at the world. I hate that the man who hurt him as a child got away with it and it would eat me alive but he has managed to move on. It still has an effect on him but he deals with it. I have a huge amount of respect for this man and should I ever have the chance to meet him I would tell him so although he would probably light a cigarette and tell me to hush. This book isn't doom and gloom and woe is me. This book is an honest account about one mans childhood and adult life so far. And filled with far more positivity and honesty than anything I've read in a long time. To quote an old cliche...I am forever changed by reading this.

I enjoyed the play list that comes with each new chapter and I added the Instrumental suggested play list by James onto our Spotify account. Each chapter starts with a suggested piece of music and a short paragraph about the composer. Did I forget to mention that James Rhodes is a fantastic piano player and tours the world doing so. I've listened to some of his CD offerings and being the classical music fan I think I am..I am ashamed that his work has slipped by me. That is now rectified. I recently watched his documentary on Channel 4...Notes From The Inside: James Rhodes. Having had some time in a locked ward himself..he takes a Steinway piano into a hospital and personally selects 4 pieces of music for four patients to try and make a connection with them as music has been a safe haven for him. It is a good documentary and at times raw. But to have the chance to listen to him play and see the emotion he pours into every note and know all of the hidden struggles he faces as he sits there playing...I was humbled. 

Mr James Rhodes: Brief clip from the Hay Festival talking about Chopin then performing
I have respect for this man. Not in the seedy groupie way..for goodness sake. But respect for his words, notes and the way he has survived the ordeals of his life. His love for his wife, son and his family and friends. But mainly his honesty...the fact that he admits he can to quote " such an asshole..." but then can wax lyrical about real love. He is flawed but then who isn't. He is honest...not that many people are so for me it was a refreshing change. And he is close mates with Ben Cumberbatch...whats not to love about that. I look forward to many hours listening to James music and hopefully a book or two alongside. Thank you Mr Rhodes for leaving an impression...

Anything else...well our much loved 'road tripping' car finally died. It was a very sad day in R & R HQ but we have many fantastic memories of travels in Carmen to enjoy.

Right that is us all caught up. I am feeling stronger each day so hope to be back in the kitchen very soon. But in the meantime don't forget the extensive archive of recipes on offer. Just please forgive the photos if you go..way back. I was an absolute beginner back then but the recipes are good. 

I hope you are surrounded by sunshine and happiness folks...and thank you for stopping by. 


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Moosewood Tofu Vegan Dumplings in Garlic/Miso Broth (vegan with gluten-free options)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Audioslave ~ Bring Em Back Alive
Tina Dico ~ Private Party
Airbourne ~ Rattle Your Bones
Dead Sara ~ Some Have It Bad
Paulo Nutini ~ Scream (Funk My Life Up)
Nerina Pallot ~ Alien
The Virginmarys ~ Bang Bang Bang
Debussy@ Reverie L 68
Julia Macinally ~ Sallianne
INXS ~ Listen Like Thieves
Bizet: Bel Officier (Carmen, le remendado la dancer)
Beth Hart ~ Better Man
Crowded House ~ When You Come
Halestorm ~ Don't Know How To Stop

I love a bargain and I have to say the recipe book that I found these recipes in was certainly that...1p! Yep! The book is quite ravaged and well used but a quick tidy up of the cover and pages and it was good to go. The cookbook in question is Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites. As a vegan/veggie cookbook junkie I have been aware of their abundance of  mostly veggie recipe based cookbooks. But I've always selected veggie/vegan cookbooks over theirs when buying a fresh and new book for my collection. I have to say that I may have been unwise in this because the recipes I found between the covers of this book have been plentiful. This is the first I've actually made from the long list I have written down for testing. 

I chose this one because it fitted the food style I am testing right now. Japanese or Chinese dumplings are intriguing to me. Now don't be daunted by the list of ingredients...every one is worth it and it's not really a rocket scientist recipe. Once you get started its quickly put together and when sat back at my dining table with the filling and wrappers I found myself reaching a Zen moment as I stuffed and rolled the dumplings together. My first experiences were not so calming! Believe me but perseverance is the key to these little beauties and one day you will find yourself sitting at your counter or table happily spooning in filling and playing with new shapes. Honestly...I promise. 

The Garlic/Miso Broth was suggested as a complementary dish to go with the dumplings and I was very interested with the cooking method. Quickly roasting garlic cloves and then blending with miso (I used white miso this time) and water and then heated up with low-sodium veggie stock...beautifully simple. I knew I had to try it and I wasn't feeling the dumpling dip love the day I made them. So a good, healing and nourishing broth seemed the way to go...

I made one adaption and that was the amount of shitakes used. I used 2 caps which is far less than the recipe asks for. But that is simply my issue with mushroom but you folks who love those darn fungi will just devour the correct amount I'm sure. I wanted a hint of the taste but not the texture. I used the dumpling cooking method of steaming for 10 minutes this time so I can warn you they will stick together and to the steamer tray which was an interesting moment. But next time I will try cooking them directly in the Garlic/Miso Broth. Also the amount of garlic I used was much less but this was because I read the recipe as 1 head of garlic and quickly grabbed a bulb and got peeling. However when I re-read the recipe later I see that Moosewood suggested 20 cloves. I only used 8...that was plenty for today but I will try it with the correct amount next time. Yep I am a garlic lover...

The results...well hell...they were so good. The dumplings were packed with flavours and textures and they were tender and still a little chewy which is just how I like them. The Broth was everything a good miso broth should be. So good that I would just sit and sip it as a hot beverage. The dumplings and broth combined with a scattering of a few fresh veggies made for a great lunch. Not wanting to repeat myself but the words nourishing and healing come back to my mind. 

And finally...the dumpling wrappers were made with wheat flour this time. Believe me when I say I wasn't overly happy with this and I found them dense and filling because of this fact. But I am still experimenting with vegan and gluten-free wonton/dumpling wrapper recipes and when I finally find one or create one that actually works...I will be shouting it out from the blog tops! I look forward to that if you have a recipe you would like me to test...hit my email

Tomorrow I am taking a break for a week as I am heading out for a holiday with My Love and our good pal Ann. We are hoping to relax, breathe and heal the soul for a while. Something all three of us need badly. We are road-tripping down to the coast and I don't care if it rains the entire time...its a holiday for which I am extremely grateful. 

Moosewood Tofu Vegan Dumplings in Garlic/Miso Broth (vegan with gluten-free options)

Moosewood Garlic/Miso Broth              Makes 6 cups
(Recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourite Cookbook)

1 large whole head of garlic (approx 20 cloves) see note above
1/4 cup miso (use miso of your choice)
3 cups of filtered water
3 cups of low-sodium veggie stock 

Pre-heat your oven to 200'C/400'F/GM6. Peel the garlic cloves and place onto a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Your garlic cloves need to be golden brown not dark brown.

Place the baked garlic cloves in a blender with the miso and water and blend until smooth. Add this to a med sized saucepan with the veggie stock and gently heat through when ready to serve. Never allow it to boil. 

Moosewood Tofu Vegan Dumplings     Makes 48
(Recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites)

1oz dried shitake mushrooms (I used 2 caps)
2 cups boiling water
6 garlic cloves, micro-grated
1 tbsp fresh ginger root, micro-grated
1 tsp ground anise
1 cup peeled and grated carrots
2 cups fresh mushrooms, minced (I used Enoki)
1 cup Chinese cabbage, minced
1 tsp rapeseed/canola oil
4oz pressed tofu, crumbled
3 tbsp soy sauce/tamari or Braggs
2 spring onions, minced
1 tbsp Hoisin sauce (optional)
1 tsp chilli paste

1 packet of wonton or dumpling wrappers (GF if able)

Place the shitake mushrooms in a bowl and cover with the boiling water for at least 20 minutes. When the mushrooms have softened, drain them and finely mince the caps. You can save the strained water and use as a stock if you wish. 

Put the shitakes, garlic, ginger, anise, carrots, fresh mushrooms, cabbage and oil. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stirring frequently. Place the tofu, Hoisin sauce, chilli paste, spring onions and soy/tamari or Braggs and stir very well to evenly distribute the sauces in the tofu crumbs. Add this to the saucepan and stir in. Cook for a further 3 minutes and then remove from the heat. Set to one side. 

Set up your dumpling rolling station as follows. Small chopping board in front of you. Large baking sheet to one side and the saucepan with the stuffing on a trivet to the right. Small bowl of water and a smaller bowl of brown rice flour. And here goes....take one wrapper and using your finger, brush water around the outside edge of the wrapper. Place a heaped tsp of stuffing in the centre of the wrapper and then quickly bring the edges together. I played around and ended up with fours shapes. But the basic and most quickly done is simply bringing the two edges together and press them to seal, leaving you with half moon shaped dumplings. If this is your first time...I would go with that shape. Place the shaped dumplings onto the baking sheet but do not allow them to touch and when all are done cover with cling film and place into your fridge until ready to cook. You can freeze some very easily at this stage. Line a box with baking parchment and place a layer of dumplings (not touching) into the bottom. Repeat this until your box is full and then freeze and they will stay good for at least 4 months. 

Cook the dumplings in one of the following ways: 

Gently simmer the dumplings in water or broth for 5 minutes. 

Saute them in a skillet prepared with 1/2 tsp of oil for 2 minutes on each side. Pour in 1/4 cup of water, cover, and steam for 4 minutes. 

Steam the dumplings in a steamer basket or sieve over boiling water for 7 to 10 minutes. 

Gently heat the Garlic/Miso Broth and place 5 of the dumplings in a bowl and then pour over a ladle of the broth. Scatter over a few fresh veggies of your choice and serve while its still hot. 

Although the dumplings are also good served at room temperature with the following sauce:

2 tbsp soy sauce/tamari/Braggs 
2 tsps rice wine vinegar
1 minced spring onion      Simply whisk together folks


Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a splendid week and I will be back with your all soon....right time to pack and hit the road. 


NB: These recipes are not my own and therefore I take no credit for them whatsoever. They are the hard work and creation of the folks of The Moosewood Collective and theirs alone. I thank them for sharing such great recipes...~R~



Friday, 1 May 2015

SUMA: Rocket & Roses Black Bean Feast (vegan & gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Kitchen Play List:

Beth Hart ~ Rhymes
Otis Reading ~ Pain In My Heart
Chris Cornell ~ Today
Louis Armstrong ~ La Vie En Rose
Live ~ I Alone
Alter Bridge ~ Ghosts Of Days Gone By
Alison Moyet ~ Invisible 
Norah Jones ~ Don't Know Why
Billy Joel ~ Honesty
Black Stone Cherry ~ Blame It On The Boom Boom
Prince ~ Nothing Compares 2 U
Terrorvision ~ What Makes You Tick
The Puppini Sisters ~ Sway
Brandi Carlile ~ The Story  

Rocket & Roses Black Bean Feast...savoury and sweet. (vegan & gluten-free)

There aren't words for how much I enjoy being part of the SUMA Wholefoods Bloggers Network. From receiving the latest catalogue, selecting the ingredients through to slaving over scribbled notes of inspiration and that final moment of taking the photographs...I love it all. The challenge is one I need at the moment with the health issues being at an all time low...the mental stimulation is a welcome relief. And although I had to accept much needed help from ML and my lovely Mum I still got the thrill as the recipes came to life...and tasted good. Always a...phew!..moment. 

SUMA have started selling tins of Organic Black Beans and as they are one of my favourite beans I decided to use them as my focus for this posting. I love the versatile nature of these little black gems and use them as often as I can in my cooking. I had quite a list of recipe ideas once inspiration hit and short listing them was quite hard. So I decided to make a new version of three of my favourite savoury forms and have a go at making a sweet treat too. Yes...a sweet treat. 

First up was the stuffing recipe. I wanted a succulent roasted butternut that was filled with a smokey spiced bean and vegetable stuffing. I used a whole dried Chipotle chilli to provide both the smokiness and heat. SUMA Black Beans, cooked quinoa and a selection of vegetables made up the texture of the filling. Added depth of flavour came from a good veggie stock and sun-dried tomato paste. Garnishing with fresh coriander leaves and a squeeze of lime juice finishes the dish to make for one flavour packed meal. The smokiness works perfectly with the sweetness of the butternut. And any leftover stuffing is really great as a filling for a sandwich or wrap. 

Next up was a black bean soup. A soup that is both light on the tum but packed with goodness. I wanted layers of flavour but not a long list of ingredients. I wanted a soup that could be made very easily. One of my favourite soup ingredients is the humble leek. I find great comfort in their flavour but enjoy their light texture when cooked. As a stand alone cooked veggie offering I'm not that fussed but as part of a dish I enjoy them very much. For me the combination of black beans and lime are divine so it wasn't a surprise to find myself juicing up some limes to add to the layers of flavour. Now when I made this dish I fully processed it to a smooth silky consistency which was nice but next time I will part blend the soup as I really am a chunky soup kind of a gal. The choice is yours. The results were a gentle soup that had a good layer of flavour from the earthiness of the leeks (not a literal layer of earth!) and wholesome beans and then the slight citrus sharpness bringing the soup up to another level. It's a quick and easy to make soup...and also turns out a light purple in colour so is quite pretty if that is your thing. 

Next up was a salsa. I have only recently found my salsa love and have been experimenting like a mad thing. This I have come to know...for me to enjoy salsa it has to be raw onion free. I've tried every method of 'treating' the onion before use from steeping in boiled water or vinegar to hopping on one foot and shouting to the moon! I just have to accept that raw onion and I are never to be friends. I can however digest a scant amount of minced spring onion in it. For this recipe I wanted nutritional goodness and a freshness with each mouthful. I adore vine-ripened tomatoes and love to keep a watch on them until they are at their perfect ripeness. Sliced simply in a sandwich with a lot of freshly cracked black heaven. So some chopped vine tomatoes were the base for this salsa along with an avocado, spring onion, SUMA Black Beans, freshly cooked corn on the cob, fresh coriander. The dressing was simplicity itself...the juice of one fresh lime and one fresh clementine. Wow..what a salsa this one turned out to be. It smelt great just sitting in the bowl and the flavours and textures mixed perfectly. A healthy salsa that could easily become have been warned..

And lastly....a black bean sweet treat. Yes...a sweet treat that isn't packed full of nastiness. No refined sugars in the fudge itself as I used medjool dates for the sweetness. I could have just served this black bean recipe up as it was which would have been a treat in itself, but I had a bag of SUMA Sour Morello Cherries which I was desperate to open. I love the combination of dark bitter chocolate and sweet cherries. The dried cherries weren't perfect as they did include sugar and sunflower oil in their ingredients which isn't my preferred choice but I couldn't argue that their flavour wasn't out of this world. They were juicy, sweet and full of cherry flavoured goodness. If you dislike glace cherries as much as I do because of the fake flavour and nasty texture...these could not be any further apart. As a treat every now and again these dried cherries are worth the little amount of sugar and sunflower oil. I decided to blend some into the fudge mixture itself and then use one as a topping for each piece of fudge. A little goes a long way with these sweet treats as they are intensely rich. One eaten with a bitter dark shot of espresso would be a great combination. And combined with the fact that these are 'healthier' treats...just makes them a food to be savoured indeed. 

So...let's get this black bean feast started....

Rocket & Roses Smokey Black Bean Stuffed Butternut (vegan & gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Smokey Black Bean Stuffed Butternut
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)       Serves 2

1 lb baby butternut, halved, de-seeded 

1 med red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, micro-grated
1 2" piece of fresh ginger, micro-grated
1 med carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup kale leaves, finely chopped
a handful of fresh coriander leaves, minced
1 whole dried chipotle chilli
3 tbsp boiling water
1/2 cup of low sodium veggie stock
2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
1 tin of Suma Organic Black Beans, rinsed and drained
a good pinch of dried cinnamon
freshly grated black pepper to season to taste
extra fresh coriander for garnish
lime slices to garnish and juice

Pre-heat the oven to 350'F/180'C/GM 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set to one side. Take the prepared butternut halves. Carefully extend the cavity of the flesh up to 1cm from the top of the butternut. Place flesh side down onto the baking tray and place into the hot oven. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Turn over so the flesh is facing up and put the tray to one side. 

Put the dried chipotle in a small bowl with the 3 tbsp boiling water and leave to soak whilst making the filling. 

Water-saute the red onion until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, green bell pepper and carrot and cook for 5 minutes. Put the sun-dried tomato paste into the hot veggie stock and stir until it has dissolved. 

Mince the softened chipotle and put it and its soaking water into the veggies along with the veggie stock mix. Stir well and then add in the cooked quinoa. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the kale and minced coriander and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the ground cinnamon. Season with black pepper. Cook until the stock has dissipated and the stuffing is thick. Remove from the heat. 

Firmly pack the butternut with the stuffing and press in to fill the cavity. Then mound up extra stuffing to your personal preference. Place the tray back into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the butternut is tender. Serve sprinkled with more chopped coriander and lime slices to squeeze over. 

Enjoy! And don't forget the leftover stuffing is unbelievably tasty as a sandwich/wrap filling the next day. 

Rocket & Roses Leek, Black Bean & Lime Soup (vegan & gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Leek, Black Bean & Lime Soup  Serves 6-8
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)

5 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
5 cups low sodium veggie stock
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 bayleaf
2 15oz tins of SUMA Organic Black Beans
freshly grated black pepper
fresh coriander leaves

Water-saute the sliced leeks until softened. Take it slowly as you don't want them to brown. Add in the garlic slices, bayleaf, veggie stock and lime juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Add in the black beans and season with a generous amount of black pepper. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat back to a simmer and cook until the leek is very tender. 

Remove half of the soup and blend until smooth and add it back into the remaining half and stir well to combine or completely blend all of the soup until smooth. Bring back up to a gentle simmer and serve with freshly torn off coriander leaves.

Enjoy! I've enjoyed this soup silky smooth but my preference is by far part blended. I'm just kooky that way...

Rocket & Roses Citrus Fresh Black Bean Salsa (vegan & gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Citrus Fresh Black Bean Salsa   Yields 2 cups
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1 med/large avocado, flesh chopped into 1/2" cubes
2 med/large vine ripened tomatoes, finely chopped
1 spring onion, minced
1/2 tin SUMA Organic Black Beans, rinsed and drained well
1 fresh corn cob, cooked and cooled
1 handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
juice from one lime 
juice from one clementine

In a bowl place the avocado, tomatoes, spring onion, black beans, coriander leaves and stir well. Strip the corn kernels from the cob and add to the bowl and stir in. Whisk the freshly squeezed juices together and pour over the veggies. Stir well to coat evenly. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. Or devour freshly made. 


And now for the sweet treat....

Rocket & Roses Black Bean Morello Cherry Fudge Pieces (vegan & gluten-free)

Rocket & Roses Black Bean Morello Cherry Fudge Pieces
(Original recipe from the Rocket & Roses Vegan Kitchen)            Makes 24 pieces

1 tin of SUMA Organic Black Beans, rinsed and drained well
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
4 medjool dates, de-stoned and roughly chopped
1/2 tbsp good quality vanilla extract
2 heaped tbsp smooth cashew butter
1/4 tsp salt
5 heaped tbsp good quality cocoa powder
20 SUMA Sour Morello Cherries
tiny amount of filtered water 

24 SUMA Sour Morello Cherry pieces, to top

Place the beans, dates, cashew butter, salt and cocoa powder into a food processor. Pulse until it has broken down a little. Add in the melted coconut oil and vanilla and blend again. If the mix is dry add the small amount of water to loosen it off. When it is whipped and smooth add in the cherries and pulse until they are very well combined. 

Using a silicone mould, brownie tin or other flat shallow baking dish smooth the fudge mixture into it and smooth off until level. Press the 24 cherries into the fudge so that when you cut out the pieces a cherry will be in the centre of each piece. Place into the fridge for 4 hours to firm up. 

Gently press out the fudge pieces if using a silicone mould and cut each square into four pieces. If using a tin or baking dish, make cuts to make 24 pieces and then gently lever out each piece. Serve with bitter hot coffee for a great balance. 

Store leftover pieces in an airtight container in the fridge and they should stay yummy for about a week....if they last that long!!

Gratuitous foodie close up...its need to thank pleasure folks.

Enjoy the black bean feast folks and I hope you swing by the folks at SUMA Wholefoods and check them out. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you all are enjoying the sun and finding many reasons to smile today...


NB: These recipes are my creation and mine alone. I have no problem with you using them or sharing them. I simply ask that you give credit where its due and provide links back to this posting as I always try to with others. Many thanks to Amy and SUMA Wholefoods for giving me the chance to be part of the SUMA Bloggers Network. Namaste...~R~