Thursday, 31 March 2011

Rocket and Roses Harissa Infused Veggies, Tofu, Lentils & Bulgar Wheat

Kitchen Play List: Vivaldi ~ The Four Seasons

This is the second recipe that I've created to use the Griddled Tofu and Aubergine Slices. (See Griddle Production Line Days/Cooking Methods for the recipe). 

Today is a very emotional and stressful day for me so I needed a meal that could be made in advance and heated up to eat later for our evening meal. I had sat down and written out the basis of the recipe yesterday so I was able to just chop veggies and relax, with some relaxing music keeping me company. Strange isn't it, the Sock Stealer stayed close the entire time I was in the kitchen, like he knew it was a tough day. Not awaiting nibblets that fell fact he ignored the one piece that did...just stayed there...and as I am typing this he is now playing with his much loved red ball, chasing it around my feet and the legs of my desk! lol. Anyway...

The results to this new creation was a beautifully coloured, tasty and filling meal. I much prefer Bulgar Wheat to CousCous, I just like the robust feeling to it, that you don't get with CousCous. I hope you try makes a lot so you could have leftovers cold the next day for lunch? Or just have it again for 

Rocket and Roses Harissa Infused Veggies, Lentils & Bulgar Wheat
(Original recipe from the Rocket and Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1 cup of Bulgar Wheat
1 1/3 cups/400ml/14fl oz of veggie stock

1 tbsp Carotino Healthier Cooking Oil or oil of choice
2 small leeks, cleaned, halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 large courgette, cut into half moons
1 red bell pepper, large dice
8 mushrooms, peeled, halved and sliced
4 slices of griddled firm tofu, cut into large dice
7 slices of griddled aubergine/eggplant, piled up, sliced lengthwise and then diced
1 14oz tin of green lentils, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup/ 100ml passata
3 heaped tsp of Harissa paste
large handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped and separated into 2 piles

In a med-large bowl add the bulgar wheat and then pour over the hot stock, stir and cover tightly with cling film. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. 

In a large skillet heat the oil and then saute the leeks and garlic for 3 minutes. Cover and leave to cook down for 2 minutes longer. 

Add in the courgettes and peppers and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir frequently and allow moisture from the lid to go back into the pan each time. 

In a small bowl stir the Harissa paste into the passata and then add it to the skillet. Stir thoroughly to combine then replace the lid and cook for 4 minutes. Stirring frequently as previous instruction. 

Add the tofu cubes, aubergine/eggplant dice and the chopped mushrooms to the skillet and stir to combine and cover and leave to cook for 3 minutes. 

Give the green lentils one last shake to make sure all water has drained away and then add them to the skillet and gently stir in. Allow to heat through for 1 minute. 

Take the cling film off of the bulgar wheat, fluff up with a fork and make sure all the stock has been absorbed. Then add it to the skillet and gently fold it into the veggie/lentil mix. Leave it warming over a low heat whilst you roughly chop the parsley and then add half to the skillet and fold in. Remove from the heat and spoon into serving dishes and sprinkle remaining parsley over to garnish and! 


The sock stealer, by the time I had finished typing this blog, had crashed out into his bed, snoring loudly! lol. Hard life, eh? lol


Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Recipe & Review

Kitchen Play List:  Bizet ~ Carmen

I found this recipe after doing a random search on the web for vegan hot chocolate. It was from and seemed to have good reviews.  So I decided to try it out as the first attempt at finding my one good Hot Chocolate recipe. For today I have made it exactly as the gent advised with one exception. I had to use regular soya milk with a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract as Vanilla Soya Milk is very expensive in England. 

It was very easy to make and the only tricky part, for me anyway, was being patient whilst the milk heated enough to serve. He was very clear to not let the milk boil. And it looked good as I poured it into my mug of choice. And on the whole it was ok but personally I could have done with a little less cinnamon. I felt it overpowered the chocolate. And as usual with soya hot chocolate I was left with 'that' after taste in my mouth which I really don't find pleasing. 

I think I will score this recipe a 2** out of the 5***** maximum. To make this again and leave out the cinnamon would make it an entirely different recipe anyway so I won't try. If I try it again using less cinnamon and an alternative sweetner than I will update this blog. 

Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon
(Recipe from

1/2 cup filtered water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups vanilla soya milk (I used reg soya milk with 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
dash of salt

In a small saucepan, add all the ingredients except the soya milk. 

Heat to a simmer on a med-high heat, stir frequently. 

Add the soya milk, heat until it's hot enough to serve.


Hot Chocolate Quest

One of the things I miss, eating a plant based diet, is a good old cup of comforting Hot Chocolate. I really do. I find that the soya chocolate milkshakes that are available,  that claim they can also be heated to make hot chocolate...are awful. They give me one heck of a headache and are just laced with so much sugar and sweetener it's not good. I wasn't the type of person that liked the whipped cream and marshmallows with my hot chocolate anyway...I leave that to my sister! lol. I just prefer not having to dig to reach my hot chocolate.  I just enjoyed a simple mug of steaming hot chocolate when I felt the need for comfort. 

So I am setting out on a quest to find a good vegan hot chocolate recipe. I shall be trying them out and then reviewing them on here. I will try the recipe out the first time as close to the original recipe then try making it my way...I can't have spoons of sugar etc. And then I will write it all up with photos for you to see. 

And if you have any recipes out there that you consider good...then please leave me the recipe to try in a comment or email me. I would welcome your input. So wish me luck as I set off on my quest...why do I feel many headaches coming my way? lol. But it would be so worth it if I could find one good recipe...

Red x

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Rocket and Roses Hot Noodles with Purple veggies and 5-Spice Plum Chutney Dressing

Kitchen Play List: Uh Huh Her ~ Say So
                                 Bowes & Morley ~ You're Drifting Away
                                 Kings of Leon ~ Use Somebody
                                 Melissa Etheridge ~ Secret Agent
                                 Jack Johnson ~ Go On
                                 Gwen Stefani ~ Cool
                                 Thunder ~ Only You Can Make Me Cry

How this recipe got started was inspiration from Vegelicious and the 5-Spice Plum Chutney I found there. I made the chutney and liked it alot. Then my thoughts drifted to a savoury use for it other than a condiment. I've been experimenting with baked or griddled tofu recently and from there the recipe came together quite easily. But please be warned this recipe is quite labour intensive. I made all the indivdual parts over a few days. You will find the dressing on here as 5-Spice Plum Chutney or and the Griddled Tofu and Aubergine on here under Griddle Production Line Days.

The name of this recipe caused me some problems because to give an accurate discription I would have had to have a 20 word name!! So I've shortened it alot but I feel the need to say that it does have broccoli in it too so it's not all purple veggies. lol. We ate this for dinner last night and was very happy with it. This will be made regulary. Hope you try really is worth all the hard work! I promise...

Rocket and Roses Hot Noodles with Purple Veggies and 5-Spice Plum Chutney Dressing
(Original recipe from the Rocket and Roses Vegan Kitchen...5-Spice Chutney recipe from

1 tbsp sunflower oil
4 sm red onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 Birdseye Hot chillies, deseeded and minced
1 small head of red/purple cabbage, hard core removed and thinly sliced
1 large head of green broccoli, cut into bite sized florets and stalk roughly chopped
4 slices of dry griddled firm tofu, cut into small strips
7 slices of griddled aubergine, cut into small strips

wholemeal chinese noodles - enough for your preference and number of people eating

1/2 cup of 5-Spice Plum Chutney 

In a large skillet or wok heat the oil and then toss in the red onion and chilli, saute until the onion is soft. 

Add in the red cabbage and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the cabbage has softened a lot. Approx 8 minutes. Stirring often to prevent burning. Allow the moisture from the lid to go into the cabbage when lifting it off to stir. This helps keep it moist. 

Add in the broccoli florets and stalks and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5 per the instruction above. 

In a small blender or processor add the chutney and blend until it's smooth. Then transfer to a very small saucepan. 

Add the sliced tofu and aubergine to the skillet and toss to combine. (I sometimes use two utensils to toss the veggies at this really does work) Cover again and repeat the previous cooking instructions.

Place the dried noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water and leave to soak as per the package instructions. I usually find 4 minutes is long enough. Drain and set aside. 

Over a very low flame heat the chutney..making sure not to burn..It will only take a couple of minutes. 

Give the veggies a final good stir/toss and then add the noodles to the skillet. Keep the veggies and noodles moving to combine and not to allow the heat to catch them on the bottom. 

When the broccoli is crisp tender. turn off the heat and scoop into bowls and then drizzle the hot chutney dressing over the noodles/veggies. Serve...

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

5-Spices Plum Chutney

Kitchen Play List: Classic Rock ~ Rock Eruption CD

I picked up a large bag of plums at my supermarket last week for the bargain price of 45p. I know I could have stewed them and frozen them but to be honest I'm not the biggest fan of stewed fruit...I would rather just eat the fruit in its fresh glory. But these plums weren't ripe enough to eat like this and I wouldn't be able to get through them all when they finally reached that stage. My Love is very loyal to the British plums so never eats imported ones. So I was sat with this rather hefty bag of bargain plums and wondering what I was going to do with them, for two days! lol. 

A few months ago I found a wonderful and inspirational site called It has the most amazing recipes and photographs and I often make meals from their extensive library. I was clicking through the pages and up popped this chutney recipe. They had served it with Tempeh and veggies which isn't to my taste but the chutney looked so tasty and as I had the plums sat waiting to be used I thought I would try it out.

The results were a very tangy, savoury, spicy and rich chutney. It was easy to make and a very good recipe. From the first taste I had many ideas for different ways to use it up. So thank you Vegelicious...once again!

5-Spices Plum Chutney
(Recipe from

1 tbsp mustard seeds
2 lb plums, pitted and roughly chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 med onion, chopped
2-3 tsp 5-Spice
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
3-4 tbsp brown sugar
dash of cayenne
dash of cinnamon

In a medium heat the mustard seeds until they change colour and start to pop. Add the oil and the onion, saute until soft. Add the chopped plums and stir well. Add the seasonings, vinegar and sugar. Cook on a low heat until the plums have softened and the mixture is thick and syrupy. Leave to cool. 


Griddle Production Line Days

Kitchen Play List:  Luke Morley ~ Loving You 
                                 The Kinks ~ Autumn Almanac
                                 Evanescence ~ All That I'm Living For
                                 Shakira ~ Eyes Like Yours
                                 Jace Everett ~ I Gotta Have It
                                 Robert Palmer ~ Simply Irresistable
                                 Shelby Lynne ~ The Look Of Love

Those of you that have been following my ramblings will know that I am currently learning to love certain foods like Aubergine, Tofu and Avocado. It's purely a texture issue as I am the same with whole cooked mushrooms. It must be the meaty texture thing! I truly am getting there with the experimenting I'm doing in the kitchen. I have found that I do like them all but only if prepared in certain ways. 

I remember watching in horror as a 'representative' vegan prepared a meal for 4 non vegans on a television show. His starter was slabs of raw tofu and avocados sandwiched together and presented on a plate. I do know people that would've sat happily and eaten it but it would have sent me running from the room which is what the non-vegans almost did. So over the last few years I've come to the conclusion that with tofu I do love it but it has to be part of something! I make fritatta's, vegan omelets. scrambles, burger, patties and use it as a binder for other recipes. All I can eat happily. 

Then I started to experiment with baking slices of tofu after having a slice of Pesto Tofu as part of a brunch my friend D put together on New Years Day. I really liked it and it inspired me to try making my own. I have baked slices from raw, after being soaked in marinates and being coated in sauces. And so far they have all been really good. So my conclusion was that I could eat tofu as long as it wasn't raw! A couple of weeks ago I tried griddling it on my stove top griddle pan and using a scant brush of oil on it, I tossed the slices on and they firmed up lovely. 

It's the same with the magnificent aubergine/eggplant. I like it cooked and not in massive quantities. I like it to be part of a dish..not the whole dish until recently, when I had griddled aubergines and they were so succulent and well cooked I finally found my aubergine love! That lead to me trying out another cooking method in a Donna Klein recipe and I was so happy to have found a mainly aubergine based dish that I truly enjoyed eating! Hooray! 

I am still working on the Avocado love. lol. Hopefully in time....

And the point to this blog is this...This week I found myself with a glut of pressed tofu and aubergine in the fridge. So I sat down and wrote down some ideas that had popped into my brain at 3am!! I got out my griddle, not at 3am, but later that morning and started a production line of griddling. Beware house had filled with smoke without me

I spent about an hour cooking the tofu and aubergine slices until my kitchen looked like a factory. The aubergine slices I cooled and then boxed them into a airtight container and stored them in the fridge until I needed them. And the tofu slices cooled down and dried nicely. I cannot eat slimy tofu so it suited my tastes greatly and was perfect for the recipes I wanted to use them for. I waited until completely cooled and I stored them in an another airtight container but left them out of the fridge and they kept just fine that way. 

The two recipes that I used them for will be posted on here in the next couple of days. I thought it would be better if I broke down the assembly of them. lol. Both turned out to be spectacular recipes so it is worth all the forward planning and work. And i have to say it was comforting to know they were all cooked and waiting to be used. It's opened up a whole new cooking realm for me to experiment in...


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Rocket and Roses Spicy Black Bean Soup

Kitchen Play List:  Lady Antebellum ~ Need You Now CD

In my recent  goal of using up the bags of 'old' dried beans I found in the back of my dried good stocks, I created this spicy and filling soup. It really isn't for anyone that hates a bit of spiciness in their meals, so please be warned. I was taken by surprise at how spicy it turned out to be. lol.  My Love threw a bag of Black Turtle Beans into the pressure cooker for me last night and I needed a soup for the week for lunches and so that's where this creation came from. 

It's easy to make and looks beautiful before and after it's blended. 

Rocket and Roses Spicy Black Turtle Bean Soup Serves 6
(Original recipe from the Rocket and Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1 tbsp Carotino Healthier Cooking oil or oil of choice
1 med onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped (with seeds)
4 garlic cloves, grated
5 cups/2lb cooked Black Turtle Beans
1 14oz tin/carton of chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp Chipotle Tabasco sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 pints/ 3 1/2 cups of veggie stock
boiled water for the blending stage

Saute the onion and the garlic in the oil for 5 minutes until the onion is soft, stirring constantly to avoid it sticking. Add in the peppers and chilli and stir to combine, cook for 5 minutes. 

Add the cumin and stir to coat the veggies, cook for 2 minutes. Then add the cooked beans and stir to combine. Add in the tomatoes, stir and then pour in the veggie stock and tabasco sauce. Grind black pepper into the pan and then stir well.

Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. With a stick blender, blitz until it's a speckled smooth texture. My soup was very thick at this point so I watered it down with hot boiling water to the consistency that I wanted. Re-season and serve.

I just wanted to add this shot of the soup in the pan before I blitzed it. I thought is was so lovely that it deserved an extra shot. I would be happy to eat it like this but unfortunately My Love doesn't appreciate 'lumpy' soups! Not even if I call them stews. lol. I have one recipe that I get away with...ah well. Enjoy at this stage or the above folks! lol

Gadgets - Magnetic Smidgen, Pinch and Dash Spoon measures.

As I use recipes from all over the world, I have a large collection of differing weights and measures. The ones I use mainly are the American cup measures because some of the best vegan recipes come from the US. Simple as that. As I am not gifted with mathematics and I'm always far to busy in the kitchen, I find it hard to convert between US and UK so I use the fastest method at my disposal and that is having the differing measures sat waiting to be used. It works for me.

I do intent to convert the recipes used on here to both, eventually, but until then if you are a Brit, you can pick up a set of US cup measures for as little as £1 from Asda and other supermarkets and Lakeland Plastics do a superb set which is what I use. (OH! OK I have the others as well!! lol) Sprung!

Progresssive Mini Magnetic Spoons

The Progressive Mini Magnetic Spoons are truly fab. They were cheap and when My Love pointed out the measurements on them, I knew I 'needed' them for my collection. Unless you are creative in the kitchen, you just can't understand how much you sometimes think "...Ooh just a smidgen of this might work in this recipe!" But how do you measure a 'smidgen'??...well now I know! lol. They are designed that the right hand round well of the spoon is for liquid measurements and the left hand oval well is for dried goods.

I tried to get a good photo of the measures but this was as good as it was getting. So here are the measurements:

Dash = 1/8 tsp    Pinch = 1/16th tsp   Smidgen = 1/32 tsp

They are also magnetic so they stay together like in the picture above. Which is quite handy. I personally have a bowl that holds all my measuring cups and spoons so I don't tend to lose them but I know others do have that problem.

They were a very reasonable £2.99 and as they are made of melamine they will last forever. I would happily recommend these to anyone who 'needs' that tricky Smidgen measure. lol.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Two of my favourite things!!

This weekend My Love and I escaped for a few hours visiting Garden Centres..(I feel so grown up!! lol) find rare seeds and seeded blue/purple potatoes to go in the veggie garden. I usually glaze over as My Love reads every packet of seeds on offer! I am always grateful for the distraction of the other side of the garden centres....the china, kitchen stuff and other random knick knacky stuff.

We didn't find the blue/purple potatoes as that seems to be an impossibility in England. But in the last garden centre of the day we did find the most amazing plant pot in the clearance section, so it was very cheap too! Always good when you are on a budget. 

Those of you that know me will know that I collect teacups and saucers and espresso sets. And have a small collection of mugs too.  I also love Gerberras...they are my favourite flowers, closely followed by white roses and daffodils. My Love had come home from work with this red gerberra plant last week and it had been sat in a plastic container waiting for a new pot. 

I wanted to share this with you as I'm starting a little section of my blog called Teacups and Smiles...and this is the first part.

The perfect pot plant holder (and colour) and the perfect plant! lol. A simple thing but it makes me smile....

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Spicy Roasted Parsnip and Carrot Soup

Kitchen Play List:   Sara Sant'Ambrogio (Cellist) ~ Dreaming

After all the parsnip recipes I have made this week, I still had six of the little blighters sat in the bowl. So I turned to the internet for one final recipe to use them up. I searched through many pages and then finally found one that sparked my interest. It was simple, looked tasty and I knew My Love would like it. So I printed off the recipe and got cracking...

The results were an easily made but decadent soup. The smell of the roasting veggies and spices took over the kitchen, my workroom and the rest of the house! lol. Once everything was blended together the soup was silky and smooth and tasted divine. A very excellent way to finish off the bargain bags of parsnips indeed. 

Spicy Roasted Parsnip and Carrot Soup Serves 4
(Recipe from GoodFood/BBC website)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 large onion, peeled and cut into eighths
2 garlic cloves
675g mix of parsnips and carrots, peeled and diced
2 plum tomatoes, quartered
1.2 L veggie stock
1 tbsp lemon juice

Pre-heat the oven to 425'F/220'C/Gas Mark 7 and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Add the oil and spices to a mixing bowl and grate in the garlic cloves and then mix again. 

Prepare the veggies and add them to the oil/spices and stir well to coat all the veggies. 

Spread the coated veggies out over the baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. 

Place cooled veggies into a blender with half of the veggie stock and blend until smooth. 

Place the puree into a large saucepan along with the remaining stock and the lemon juice. Heat the soup and serve.  

Saturday, 26 March 2011

'Old Faithful' Veggie Cottage Pie

Kitchen Play List:  Thunder ~ 20 Years and Out! Live CD 

My sister and her little ones are coming for lunch today and M is, more importantly, coming for his regular play date with My Love. They escape off into their own little world with N trying desperately to keep up. My sister and I try and catch up amongst the wonderful chaos and more recently I get in snuggles with L, my sisters newborn daughter. But the one thing I can guarantee is that I cook them all something nice for lunch and they all leave - full! 

This recipe is the first ever recipe I cooked when I left home. I left home very young but was excited that I would have my own kitchen and I could cook my own food. I cut this recipe out of a magazine and had slipped it in cover of my diary. I still have the crumpled and browned piece of magazine paper but don't need it now as I know the recipe by heart. I do believe it was also one of the first meals I cooked My Love when we met. lol. So this recipe has history for me and makes me smile at the memories that come with it. Hence the renaming of 'Old Faithful'. I hope you try it and enjoy it too. 

'Old Faithful' Veggie Cottage Pie
(Recipe from a magazine 23 years ago!!!Gulp!)

2 tsp sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 leeks, sliced
8oz parsnips, halved and sliced
3 sticks celery, chopped
8oz carrots, halved and sliced
4oz button mushrooms, halved
1 tin mixed beans in chilli sauce
1 tin of haricot beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 pt 150ml passata
1/4 pt 150ml veggie stock

1 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled
1 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled

Heat the oil and fry the garlic for 30 seconds. Stir in the leeks and cook for 1 minute. Add the parsnips, celery and carrots, stir well and cover and cook for 5 minutes. Stir well and then add the mushrooms and beans. Add the passata and the stock and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered. Stir frequently. 

Place the chopped potatoes and parsnips into a steamer and steam until soft. (Or boil if that's your choice). Mash them together until light and fluffy. 

In a long rectangular baking dish spoon in the cooked veggie mix and smooth to make even. Then place spoonfuls of the potato/parsnip mix across the veggie mix and then with a spoon smooth it out, covering the veggie mix. Drag the prongs of a fork across the top of the potato so when its baked there will be peaks of toasty potato. 

Bake in a 440'F/200'C/Gas Mark 6 oven for 20 minutes.    

 Yum! Thanks to my sister for taking this shot! lol 

Banana Crumble Slice and Custard

Kitchen Play List: Thunder ~ 20 Years and Out! Live 

The reason for choosing this pudding was simply this..I knew my sister would love it! And thankfully she did. lol 

I got it from Mmm..Yummy cakes...Vegan Cake Book that I bought from Vegan Society website in England. It's a fun little pamphlet really but has some good recipes. It was so easy to make and kept really well. We had it cold with hot custard but you could have it hot too. Yum was the general consensus of opinion...

Banana Crumble Slice & Custard
(Recipe from Mmm..yummy cakes...)

175g/ 6oz vegan margarine
190g/ 6.5oz soft brown sugar
225g/ 8oz self raising flour
125g/ 4oz porridge oats
2 med-large bananas, mashed
50g/ 2oz golden raisins

(To make this gluten free, replace it with 8oz gluten free plain flour and 1 1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder)

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/ 200'C/ 400'F and line a rectangular baking dish with parchment paper. Approx 12" x 8".

Cream the margarine and the sugar.

Sieve in the flour, add in the oats and stir until the mixture resembles rough bread crumbs.

Sprinkle half of the mixture into the baking dish and then press down to cover the base of the dish. 

Spread the mashed banana over the base and then sprinkle over the raisins.

Cover with the remaining crumble mixture and roughly level the surface. 

Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden.  

Allow to cool in the pan and then lift, using the parchment paper, the crumble out of the pan and cut into slices. Serve with soya custard or cream. 

Raw Carob/Cocoa 'Elly' Treats

Kitchen Play List:    Nat King Cole ~ The Best of...

Nak'd Raw Bars! Totally delicious and good for you. But it's a very expensive habit to feed! lol. So I have been trying to find a recipe to make something that would be just as good or even a good enough substitute. In all honesty I have struggled to do just that. My friend, D, has had more success at this than I have. But she did burn out a blender in the process! lol. About a month ago I was looking through new recipe section and had posted her recipe for these 'treats'. The Elly part comes from the shapes that she and her sister had cut them in. Very cute. lol. And it seemed like a recipe that I would like to try. So I printed off the recipe and it's been sat in the 'recipe pending' tray. lol. This Sunday I found myself a garden widow so decided to try them out. 

The results were amazing. They came together very easily and I got coated in the mixture and as anyone would, before I washed my hands I tested the dough on my fingers. lol. Oh, it was so good! I was surprised because I haven't had that much success with carob in the past but this was great! I rolled out the dough between two pieces of cling film and used a rectangle cookie cutter. Sketch had gotten 10 Ellys from her dough but using my cutter I got 12 but would have easily got 14 if My Love and I didn't need to 'test' them! lol. Obviously rectangles aren't as cute as Elly's but I can live with that! You can swap out the carob for cocoa if you really can't bear the thought of carob or you just don't like it. And also Sketch recommends using mint or orange extract instead of vanilla. And I didn't grind my coconut because I forgot to lol. 

 Raw carob 'Elly' Treats
(Recipe by

1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, ground fine (optional)
1/2 cup carob powder
3-4 tbsp coconut nectar, or other raw sweetener ( I used Agave)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Add enough water to make a dough.  (I used 1/4 cup/ 4 tbsp)

Roll out with rolling pin and cut out shapes.

Freeze until firm then store in a sealed container in the fridge. 


Friday, 25 March 2011

Leek , Zucchini, Fennel Soup

Kitchen Play List: Queen ~ We Will Rock You
                                  Sara Sant'Ambrgio ~  Summertime
                                  Thunder ~ Backstreet Symphony
                                  Baha Men ~ Move It Like This
                                  Kings Of Leon ~ I Want You
                                  Melissa Etheridge ~ Please Forgive Me
                                  Billy Ocean ~ Love Really Hurts Without You

My Love came home with a bag filled of shopping bargains this week. So much so, that I have been kitchen bound (like that is a chore! lol) trying to find ways to use them all up. Amongst the bargains were 2 large luscious fennel bulbs and 2 large leeks. 

The recipe that follows was posted by 'Anon' on one of the many websites I visit. I made a double batch as I had the ingredients to do so. The result was a very savoury and light soup. It was also very beautiful in colour. But be warned, it keeps its heat very well and I confess I burnt my mouth and my lip, trying to rush it! lol. 

Leek, Zucchini and Fennel Soup Serves 4-6
(Recipe posted by Anon!)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 whole large leek, green and white parts separated and thinly sliced
1/2 large bulb of Fennel, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped (courgettes to us Brits! lol)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
6 cups veggie stock
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil over a med-low heat, stir in the green part of the leeks, and saute for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the leeks along with the fennel, zucchini, and garlic, cover, and let cook, stirring occassionally, for 15-20 minutes, until soft. 

Add fennel seeds and stock, increase heat to medium, and cook another 10-15 minutes. 

Let the soup cool and then blend it until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 


Thursday, 24 March 2011

Parsnip and Chickpea Curry

Kitchen Play List:  Jack Johnson ~ Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
                                   Newton Faulkner ~ Feels Like Home
                                   Mr.Buble ~ Quando, Quando, Quando
                                   Abba  ~  Does Your Mother Know
                                   The Gossip ~ Coal to Diamonds
                                   Van Morrison ~ Brown Eyed Girl
                                   Martina McBride ~ Still Holding On To You
                                   Natalie Imbruglia ~ Glorious
                                   Foo Fighters ~ Stacked Actors
                                   American Dog ~ Give the Dog a Bone

I have a huge bowl of parsnips to use up. I found this recipe on and knew instantly I wanted to try it out. I love parsnips..I love chickpeas..I love curry..what is there not to love with this recipe? So this morning I set out everything for the recipe and then took my time making this curry. As I had so many parsnips to use up I made a quadruple batch. A batch for us for dinner tomorrow ( I believe in the 'curry is better the day after' theory), a batch for my sister and two for the freezer. 

It was a real pleasure to make from the very start. Prepping the veggies was relaxing then the toasting of the spices and the heady scent as they changed colour and started to pop. Then the aroma as I ground them down in my pestle and mortar. It was a very therapeutic experience for me. Then as the ingredients started to go into the curry pan I was struck by how disappointed I was by the appearance. It was exactly what the recipe said it would be except the colour seemed all wrong, to me. It looked very much like a Bean Stew I make and that felt all wrong for a curry. As it bubbled away on the stove top and I chopped up fresh coriander to go in the pot I realised I was feeling cheated. I had expected a 'normal' curry greenish brown colour. So I stirred in the coriander, turned off the heat and left it to go and eat my lunch. 

When I went back to the curry pan, to give it one final stir, I was surprised that it had darkened in colour. And once again I was hit by a fantastic aroma. So I 'got a grip' and tried a spoonful. It tasted as good as it smelt! I will be making this again...and again...and again! lol. 

Parsnip and Chickpea Curry
(Recipe posted on

2 medium parsnips
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and sliced
200g chickpeas, cooked
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 fresh chilli, deseeded and chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
12 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tin tomatoes, chopped
Handful of fresh coriander leaves

Heat a large pan with no oil. Add the cumin, coriander and fenugreek seeds and cook for about 2 minutes, until they start to pop and jump. Remove from the heat and crush in a pestle and mortar or grinder. 

Heat some oil in the pan and gently saute the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli until soft. Approx 10 minutes. 

Add the ground seeds and cook for a further 2 minutes. 

Scrub or peel and chop the parsnip into cubes. Add to the pan and stir well to coat. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes and chickpeas, stir well. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes, until the parsnip is tender. 

Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander leaves.

Serve with brown rice.   

Parsnip, Date and Banana Loaf

Kitchen Play List: Mr. Buble ~ I've Got You Under My Skin
                                  Body Rockers ~ I Like The Way You
                                  The Eagles ~ What Do I Do With My Heart
                                  The Union ~ Holy Roller
                                  Jack Johnson ~ Monsoon
                                  Slash ft Dave Grohl ~ Watch This

Yes! You have read that correctly, it does say Parsnip. A good pal who is a cake-oholic would baulk at this recipe and hasn't quite forgiven me for a Zucchini Chocolate Birthday Cake I made her a few years ago. In her opinion, vegetables have no place in the cake world. lol. We respectfully agree to disagree on this subject and as I keep her supplied with non-vegetable cakes as often as I doesn't come up. lol.

I found this recipe under a search for Parsnip recipes as I have two rather large bargain bags of them to use. I guess I could've made up plenty of bags of Parsnip Soup but I didn't want to. I wanted to find new ways of using these beautiful root veggies. And when my search came up with this recipe I couldn't resist trying it. And it's also Gluten Free so it would be good to have in the recipe library. 

The result was a very sweet, dense little loaf. Its moistness reminded me of the Bread Pudding my Mum used to make. Not to be confused with Bread and Butter Pudding!! I really liked it. And due to it's sweetness and density you only need a thin slice to go with a cuppa. 

Parsnip, Date & Banana Loaf 1 8" Loaf
(Recipe from

1 large parsnip, boiled, drained and mashed
3.5oz/100g stoned dates, roughly chopped
1 banana, mashed
1 tbsp vegan margarine
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup/ 150g gluten free flour (I used 1/2 cup Rice flour blend & 1/4 cup tapioca flour)
2 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 350'F/180'C/Gas Mark 4 and line an 8"x 5" loaf tin. 

Place the chopped dates into a small pan and add enough water to the pan to cover the dates. Gently heat and stir until the dates have dissolved into a smooth paste. Add the margarine and stir to combine. 

Add the mashed banana and mashed parsnip, stir to combine. 

In another bowl, sift in the dry ingredients. Fold this into the wet ingredients, adding a little water if the batter is too dry. 

Pour into the lined loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. 

Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Thinly slice to serve with a nice pot of tea.