Monday, 31 January 2011

Bulgarian Musaka

Kitchen Playlist - Addicted to Love ~ Robert Palmer
                               Do You Know ~  Enrique
                               Addictive ~ Truth Hurts
                               Oba, La Vem Ela ~  Jorge Ben
                               Staple It Together ~ Jack Johnson
                               Don't Bother ~ Shakira 
                               Two Sleepy People ~ Bob Hope & Shirley Ross
                               Dirty Dream  ~ Thunder
You have to love IPod shuffle Lol

My Love has flown out to Ankara this morning and will be gone all week. When these work duties call I find myself a little lost. So now I plan ahead and invite friends and family to share the evening meal with me. And this week is no different. Tonight I am joined by my Mum and we rarely get to spend time together alone so I'm very happy. When I asked her if there was anything in particular she would like to eat, she answered, "Oh anything beany and hotpotish...", thanks Mum Lol. So I decided to take the opportunity to use one of my favourite cookbooks, A Vegan Taste of Eastern Europeby Linda Majzlik. When I first became vegan I searched for some inspiration and Linda's Vegan Taste Of series was one of the first I found and I now proudly own copies of 13 of her cookbooks! And I use them all the time. In fact they are looking a little worn around the edges now. lol. If you new to vegan life...check them out. They can be easily bought on and they average at £5 a book. 
The Bulgarian Musaka (not to be confused with Greek Moussaka) recipe that follows is my version of the original recipe by Linda Majzlik. The original can be found in her Eastern Europe cookbook.

Bulgarian  Musaka Serves 4 - 6
(original recipe by Linda Majzlik)

1 med yellow pepper, chopped
1 med red pepper, chopped
1 sm green pepper, chopped
4oz/100g shelled peas or frozen peas
4oz/100g thawed, frozen spinach, finely chopped
5 med closed cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
2oz/50g natural minced (small) textured vegetable protein
1 15oz tin of Haricot Beans, rinsed and drained
1 onion, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
10fl/oz vegetable stock
500g carton of tomato passata
1 tsp paprika, heaped
1 rounded tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 rounded tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
1 bay leaf
black pepper to season

1 1/2 lb/675g potatoes, peeled and finely diced
4 rounded tbsp of plain soya yoghurt
1 oz/25g wholemeal breadcrumbs, fresh

Soak the vegetable protein in the vegetable stock for approx 20 minutes. Fry the peppers, onion and chilli in the oil for 5 minutes, then add the vegetable protein, spinach, mushrooms, peas, haricot beans, tomato passata, paprika, parsley, basil, and bayleaf and season with pepper. Stir well, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat slightly and let simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon the mixture into a baking dish and smooth across. (I use a large pyrex rectangle dish)

Steam the potatoes until just soft. Then arrange them evenly over the vegetable mixture. Spoon the yoghurt over the potatoes  and spread to cover. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top. Cover loosely with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 180'C/350'F/gas mark 4 for 30 minutes. Uncover and then bake for a further 5 - 10 minutes or until the breadcrumbs have turned a golden brown. Serve with steamed green vegetables or a salad. 

Happy cooking, R 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Banana & Nut Butter Breakfast Burrito

As today is a very busy day for us, we are feasting on lovely leftovers for lunch and dinner. And for our breakfast we had to forgo our usual hot breakfast/brunch choices. We needed something quick, filling and nutritious that we could eat on the run. So I turned to an old favourite of ours, Banana &  Nut Butter Breakfast Burritos. In all honesty the Burrito is the end result of trying many different recipes for this filling. Many suggest frying the banana slices in a little vegan marg/butter and a little cinnamon, which is lovely but time consuming and not a very healthy option. But I do advise trying it sometime. This Burrito is very simple to put together and to be honest I really did wonder whether to blog about it. But it is its simplicity that makes me want to. So below is the recipe and I hope you give it a try. Create your own fillings...I hear that chocolate spread with it is also very nice. But I haven't tried that one...yet. Lol Enjoy!

Banana & Nut Butter  Breakfast Burrito 
Serves 1

1 wholemeal tortilla or tortilla of your choice
1/2  banana,  sliced
1 tbsp nut butter of your choice

So simple....spread the nut butter over the  tortilla and then spread out the banana slices.  Fold the tortilla  by folding in the sides and then rolling upwards. If you would prefer a warm burrito? Microwave it for 45 secs - 1 minute on High. Eat immediately.

If you experience solid nut butter...and lets face it...who hasn't. Microwave the opened jar for 1 minute and that should do the trick. 

Sorry no photo to  go with this  recipe . They are never around long enough! lol

The Little Sock Stealer

I just wanted to add a quick note today about the four legged critter that shares our home. We've had him since he was a little white ball of fur with two floppy ears. He was a star from the moment he came into our lives. He definitely has a personality although I don't hold with humanising our four legged friends. After picking him up from the breeders to bring him home, he travelled all the way back, snuggled up inside the front of my sisters fleece jacket. From that very moment he developed a love for fleece material and take every opportunity to curl up in a ball and sleep on it..whether its a fleece blanket or on a person's body. You are very popular in this house if you walk in wearing a fleece lol.  Soon after he arrived he developed a playful relationship with my sister who was staying with us then. She would jump forward in her socks and he would run rings around her feet and nip at her sock ends. Little scamp. This has lead to a sock fetish for our dear pooch. We were fortunate that we never had the experience of a puppy eating the furniture or expensive shoes. But we did suddenly find ourselves missing many socks, to find them in little piles, stashed behind things. And to be honest we didn't ever try and change this as it was what made he earn his title of Lord  A Stealer of affectionate nickname My Love came up with one morning, when faced with trying to find two matching socks! I thought t could've been  a lot worse! lol So for the purposes of this blog he will be known as Sock Stealer. It was a nick suggested to me by a dear chum for this purpose and I think it is perfect.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Spiced Lentils

We were fortunate the other day whilst cruising the fresh veggie aisles in one of our local supermarkets, to find 2 marked down Acorn Squashes. So they were very quickly added to our trolley and we were very happy shoppers. A couple of years back I had found a recipe on one of my most favourite blogs (the creator Susan V is a genius) for Miniature Pumpkins stuffed with Spiced Lentils. And waited for the chance to make it. We don't tend to get such a good selection of squashes here and if we do they are quite pricey. So I stashed the recipe in my ever growing collection and waited. It was when we were away on holiday in Wales that we found the most amazing collection of squashes and pumpkins. We came back from holiday, not with trinkets but with a bag of various pumpkins and squashes. We were very happy. One of the first things I cooked when we got home was this recipe. Slightly different to how we've done it today, for one the Carnival Squashes were quite a bit larger than our 'budget' buys. They were such splendid specimens that we simply rinsed them and roasted them whole. Today we have one medium sized one and one small so we went with halving them and roasting instead. The first time we cooked this we filled them with the lentil (which I highly recommend as its delicious) stuffing and sat them on a finely sliced red cabbage base. So proud were we that we took photos and I wasn't blogging then. Now its nice to have the excuse to take the photos and display them. Blogging can come in handy sometimes, ”I'm not sad...I'm doing it for the good of the blog!”, will be my war cry now. Lol So following this, is the recipe and I urge you to try it. It's so tasty and smells so good when its cooking. Make friends with squash!

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Spiced Lentils Serves 4 or 6
(recipe found on Submitted by SusanV Recipe by Smirk)
4 sm/med pumpkin/squashes or 6 tiny pumpkin/squashes
1 medium onion, sliced
1 8oz can of tomato passata
1 tsp of sugar
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups of brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
3 ½ cups veggie stock
1 tsp salt (omit for low sodium diets)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 325ºF, 170ºC or Gas Mark 3. Fill a 9x13 baking pan with 1 inch of water. Set the whole pumpkins in the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes for miniature pumpkins and 55 for medium or until a blade of a knife penetrates the flesh easily. (or microwave: poke holes in the pumpkins. Wrap each one with micro safe cling film and microwave on High for 7 minutes. Rotate the pumpkins and microwave 4 to 5 minutes longer) Let cool and then carefully remove the tops to make a lid. Scoop out the seeds.

While the pumpkins are baking, in a large saucepan, heat non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, sugar, cumin, paprika and cinnamon. Add the lentils and broth. Cover and cook until the lentils are tender, 40-45 minutes. Drain into a colander. Season lentils with salt and cayenne to your taste.

Fill hollowed pumpkins with equal amounts of hot lentil stuffing. Cover each pumpkin with its lid and serve at once.

Hope you try it...maybe not today...maybe in two years like I did! But it will be worth it. I know we will be enjoying our dinner tonight. R

Let me introduce myself..

Welcome...come on in....thank you for stopping by. For my first blog I thought I'd better tell you a little bit more about me and my life and then after that it will be mostly about the food. As I've said before I share my life with 'my love'. And our little Westie A. I have a passion for cooking and creating new recipes. I am an avid collector of cookbooks, teacups & saucers and espresso sets. Strange? Maybe, but that's me. I couldn't bear a life of the same recipes every weekday, over and over again. I try to make every day a new food adventure.
I am very fortunate to share my food with my love and our family and friends. I love cooking from the prep to the serving of it...but not the clearing up! Does anyone? Lol. I am very grateful to friends who come to stay to attend events, and their help in the washing up chore. But they are always repaid with cake so I can sometimes get away with it. My other great passions in life are writing, music and reading. Our house sometimes looks like a library as books are a passion I share with my love. And there is always music. All kinds. Although that is something my love and I differ on greatly. Lol But we manage to find a middle ground...sometimes.
My family and friends are a very important part of my life. I don't have the money to spoil them financially but I can provide them with food and cake. Everyone of their birthdays is celebrated with a cake or cupcakes of their choice. Its a pleasure and I hope it is for them too?! Lol I'm hoping that they won't mind me mentioning them in this blog as my food tales are always based around them. A celebration...a commiseration...a chance visit...and 'just because' moments. I hope to share the menus and recipes with you. And maybe you'll share them with your loved ones...or not. Your choice.
The food I cook is always vegan and recently I have started venturing into the Gluten Free world as good friends are gluten intolerant. It's been an adventure. I have been a vegetarian since I was a very small toddler. I may have eaten the odd piece of chicken breast and corned beef sandwich but as soon as I was able to protest and form my own opinions I have never eaten meat, poultry, fish or eggs out of choice. I have been made to eat it by a rather nasty dinner lady at school once and two very silly adults who came into my later childhood. But I have to say my Mum never forced the 'meat' issue on me and fully supported my veggie ways. She inspired me as a child as she made cooking and baking fun. However I have to say I did eat cheese for a long time. And one of my most missed and favourite meals from my childhood was a bowl of crisp cut up apple with cubes of cheddar. See, I was easy to please. Although I'm fairly sure my friends parents wouldn't agree. Many times I was served the vegetables that I asked for and then they would smother these beautiful things with beefy gravy. Not good times. Poor things...I just couldn't make them understand. And I would like to say that has changed over the years, but I have had more than my fair share of avid meat eaters who, upon learning that I was veggie/vegan, they felt the need to tell me how much they love meat and just talking to me made them crave a bacon sandwich! It used to make me cross but now I smile at them and nod my head and explain that I don't judge them for their eating choices...they're just very different from mine. I just wish it didn't seem to threaten them on some level. I'm not trying to preach or recruit anyone to the vegan cause. I'm not that political about it as there as far better people on this planet to do that. For me, it just never sat right with me. Eating animals, their by products just never, on any level, felt right. I don't think it's necessary. I believe in a plant based eating existence. I hope the recipes will show that its not all tofu slices, steamed rice and veggies. And as for the cakes and treats...well just try them before you form an opinion? My love is a meat eater and when away on work trips or just meeting pals for lunch, indulges in the meaty meals. And thats ok...although I did cringe at finding out about the Steak Tartare incident...but that's because its raw and yuck! Lol But we muddle along quite nicely together. The kitchen is my space and I have 100% support on our home being a vegan home and all guests coming to stay respect this and understand this. I've only ever had two people who have questioned this...and now they don't come to dinner or stay and that suits both parties just fine. Turns out I don't need father figures anyway. Who knew?
So to sum these ramblings blog will be about the food, the recipes, the kitchen, the music and most importantly the events and the people who I share this all with. So once again welcome. And I hope you visit regularly and find enjoyment here. And hopefully many laughs with me along the way. Thank you for your time. R x