Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Rocket and Roses Blissful Dark Chocolate Dipped Physalis, Strawberries and Banana

Kitchen Play List:  Lenny Kravitz ~ Are You Gonna Go My Way Album

This morning I had some real messy fun in the kitchen. lol. I had a bag of Physalis or by their other name Cape Gooseberries...the lovely little orange coloured fruits that pop in your mouth with a sharp citrusy zing and come encased in leaves...some plump vibrantly coloured British strawberries and a perfectly ripe banana. Perfect just as they are in this form...but I had a rather delicious block of 70% Dark Chocolate and suddenly my mind went to the decadent place of these natures gifts dipped and rolled in melted chocolate. How could I ignore such a thought?? Seriously? lol 

So in a pyrex bowl over a slow simmer I patiently (Yes me...patient...I know! lol) let the broken chocolate block melt into a seductive sauce. I didn't add any other ingredients..just the chocolate...more perfection in it's own right! I prepped the strawberries by rinsing them and leaving them to drain....the Physalis by gently unpeeling the leaves and pressing them back to use as a handle and gently wiping the fruit...and the banana by peeling and chopping into generous chunks. I lined a large tray with parchment paper and then rolled each piece of fruit in the melted chocolate and then placed them on the papered tray to set. It didn't take very long for them to set as it's quite chilly here today. So after the photos were taken My Love and I sat with a couple of each and taste tested them for you...it was such a hard job...lol. 

Strawberries loving the spotlight..the Physalis hid behind their leaves..lol
The strawberries were amazing...juicy, full of flavour and combined with the chocolate -Wow!

Hmmm...not the greatest angle..but you can still see the lovely fruit lol
Physalis or Cape Gooseberry...tart and delicious
The Physalis were complimented beautifully by the dark chocolate. You still got the sharpness but followed by a mellowness...

Strawberries with the Banana pieces...is your mouth watering yet? lol
The bananas were divine...the banana was perfectly ripe as I mentioned above and the chocolate had covered them completely so it was like eating a chocolate from a luxury box...only give me these anyday of the week! Fabulous. 

The perfect chocolate....lol.
Ah well...all good things must come to an end. But I really did have fun making these and testing them afterwards. Some may call dipping strawberries a throwback to bygone times..but I say 'an oldie but a goodie!'. I shall be making these many times in the coming years...and why not. The fruit is good for us and the chocolate I use is of high quality and not packed with preservatives and junk, I only allow a thin layer....better these than a box of chocs, eh? I hope you try them out...

Have kitchen fun! ;o) 


Rocket & Roses Beetroot & Carrot Soup

Kitchen Play List: Robert Plant & Alison Kraus ~ Stick with Me Baby
                                     Damien Rice ~ Cannonball
                                     Billy Joel ~ Piano Man
                                     Doris Day & Jonnie Ray ~ Just The Two of Us
                                     Rogue Traders ~ Voodoo Child
                                     Skid Row ~ Monkey Buisness 

This house is a beetroot loving house. I love it all ways; pickled, natural, raw, grated, roasted and in things. My Love is not a fan of the vinegary kind. But it was a great joy this week when I was given 3lb of organic beets for my mystery ingredient. The supermarket had them marked down to £1.35 for the 3lb instead of the £5.40 they should have been. Bargain!! 

I had looked at making some salads with it....nice but it wasn't hitting the spot. I thought about roasting them and slicing them for sandwiches...again good but still wasn't feeling it. I kept getting drawn back to the glorious beetroot soup. But all the ones I've made in the past have been a pain to make..with all the 'must do this' to make it authentic. But I'm not after that...I just want a simple beetroot soup that tastes good and is easy to make. 

So I set to with the beetroot mountain and 'gloved up' and this is the recipe that I came up with. My sister was here for lunch so the three of us sat down to test it. The soup was a good texture...the taste was sweet as you would expect for a beetroot and carrot soup but also had that savoury hit that it needed. We all enjoyed it...and the colour was beautiful...however I was glad we wasn't serving it to the little ones..lol. 

Rocket and Roses Beetroot & Carrot Soup
Rocket and Roses Beetroot & Carrot Soup 8 servings
(Original recipe from the Rocket and Roses Vegan Kitchen)

3lb beetroot, peeled and diced
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
 1 tbsp olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, grated
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2.5 litres veggie stock
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
4 bayleaves
salt and pepper to season, to taste

In a large soup pan heat the oil and saute the onion for 5 minutes. 

Add the beetroot, carrots, garlic to the pan and saute for a further 5 minutes. Stirring frequently. 

Add the stock, lemon zest, juice and the bayleaves to the pan and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the beetroot is tender. Then remove the bayleaves and blend until smooth. Re-season if this is your wish and serve. 

Enjoy! ~R~

Monday, 30 May 2011

Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream

Kitchen Play List: Chuckles and giggles

We had the pleasure of the little ones in the kitchen on Saturday. We made home made pizzas and M had requested a 'green' ice cream this week. However he did look horrified when My Love suggested Spinach Ice Cream lol. So I looked up various recipes and veganised this one. 
The results were a fabulous hit of mint followed by the creamy ice and then the yummy choc drops that melt in your mouth. The little ones had great fun 'whisking' and using a few drops of green food colouring gave us a lovely minty colour. And I am grateful they didn't splash it everywhere. lol. 

Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream or Princess Fiona Ice Cream! lol 
Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream Makes 2 x 1 pint tubs

1/2 pint/330 ml soya/dairy milk
1/2 pint/300ml soya cream/double dairy cream
3oz/75g caster sugar
5oz/150g plain chocolate/1 pkt dark choc drops
1 tsp peppermint extract
A few drops of green food colouring (optional)

Dissolve the caster sugar in the milk over a low heat. Remove from the heat and leave to go cold.

If using block chocolate grate and leave to one side. 

Stir in the cream, peppermint extract, chocolate of choice and food colouring into the milk. Pour it all into an ice cream maker and leave to churn. 

Scoop into freezable tubs and leave to finish in the deep freeze. 

Serve...Enjoy! ~R~

Homemade Muffin Pizzas

Kitchen Play List: Utter chaos! lol

We had a busy morning in the kitchen with the little ones on Saturday. Last week I had promised them that we could make pizzas for lunch. And I was going to make the bases and then life happened..a lot of it. I was thinking it through and thought about the size of pizzas I would need for them and I was drawn to the idea of using English muffins as the base instead. So that is exactly what I did and they were a huge success. The little ones enjoyed chopping and squishing their toppings and I even got M to eat onions! And usually they don't get anywhere near his food!

I laid out the bases on a baking sheet and in a bowl I squeezed some tomato paste and with a mini whisk I got N to stir as we grated some garlic into it. Then we measured in some oregano and she stirred again. My Love had M busy slicing mushrooms and choosing peppers. I thinly sliced a small red onion and M was eager to have some of the 'circles' on his pizza and he also wanted mushrooms too! So with the topping ready, we let them choose what they wanted. I had some mozzarella 'cheeze' (soya cheese) to go with them too.

M chose tomato base, some cheeze, onion circles, mushrooms, red and green pepper, slices of tomato and a little more cheeze.

N chose tomato base, some cheeze, onion circles, mushrooms, slices of tomato and a little more cheeze. She's not a fan of peppers like her Mum. lol.

My Love had the same as M and my sister had the same as N. So big kids and little kids were satisfied. lol

I then baked them in the oven at 350'F/180'C/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes.

They were devoured!! lol.

Little Ones Pizzas...4 on the left with pepper..4 on the right without. Everyone was happy. 
I was really pleased that they enjoyed them as much as they did. Was chaos but very happy chaos. lol

Sunday, 29 May 2011

A perfect Sunday Brunch ~ Omelette with Marinated Grilled Asparagus, Sauted Mushrooms and Tahini-Miso Dressing

Kitchen Play List: Radio 2 ~ Steve Wright's Love Songs    

Sunday Brunch Breakfast Tray
We have a very busy afternoon and evening ahead so last night we decided to sleep in and then make a lovely Sunday Brunch. I usually only do 'brunch' when we have friends or family staying. But My Love deserves a treat and asparagus are a firm favourite. We picked up three large bunches of British asparagus at the supermarket the day before. They had just been reduced to 40p a bunch! Super bargain! lol. And they were a good colour and fresh...no idea why they were reduced. 

So on the tray above is a good mug of decaf coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, Tofu Omelette with Marinated Grilled Asparagus, Sauted Mushrooms on Wholemeal Toast and a drizzle of Tahini-Miso Dressing. Just delicious....

Most weekends we have an omelette with various fillings. The recipe I found on Susan V's FatFreeVegan.com. I have never eaten eggs but my Mum loves omelettes and I spent years admiring the concoctions she came up with. So when I found this recipe I printed it off and had to try it. It took a couple of makings before my head would believe it wasn't eggs I was eating lol But that wasn't just me..My Love who shares my dislike of eggs had to have a few of them before the 'egg' issue left too. lol. So here is the link to the recipe on Susans site...


The Marinated Grilled Asparagus and Tahini-Miso Dressing recipes come from a very much loved and used cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz Vegan Brunch

I strongly urge you to buy this book if you love brunching and the recipes are all good. We haven't tried one yet that we didn't like lol.

A thing of beauty...lol Thank you Susan V
Marinated Grilled Asparagus
(Recipe from Vegan Brunch/Moskowitz)

1lb Asparagus, woody ends trimmed off
1/4 cup/4tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup/4tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, grated
freshly cracked black pepper
pinch of salt

Marinate the trimmed asparagus in the remaining ingredients, in a lidded container for at least an hour or overnight. (We marinated ours overnight)

Grill the asparagus on a preheated gril; or griddle pan for about 8 minutes, turning once. They are better for having a little bite to them. (Or is that just me? Don't like them soft and slimey!lol) Divide amongst the omelettes and drizzle with the Tahini-Miso Dressing. 

Tahini-Miso Dressing   (This is half of the original recipe as it makes heaps!)
(Recipe from Vegan Brunch/Moskowitz)

1/4 cup/4tbsp tahini
1/4 cup/4tbsp water
1/2 tbsp miso
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Combine everything in a blender and go to town. Blend until thoroughly combined. Drizzle over things...lol. 

Thank you Isa! Your books rocks! 

So that was our brunch today and we felt very spoiled after we had finished but you have spoil yourselves sometimes, eh? I wish you all a lovely Sunday...

Enjoy! ~R~

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Oodles of Noodles ~ Tradewinds visit

In the next largest town from the one I live in, is a shop called Tradewinds. It's an Asian store and it has a great feeling as you step inside. The lady, that seems to live behind the counter, is a very funny woman and I could chat with her forever. Before meeting My Love I lived in that town for 18 months and every week I would make a point of going in and soaking up the atmosphere. On the counter there was always a large bowl of fortune cookies and it became a weekly ritual to go in and buy one. I love this shop but hardly ever get there these days, as we usually go to the nearest city as that's where our closest friends live and the best shops are. So I was very excited about going back to visit Tradewinds. 

It very nearly didn't happen as a catalogue of events seem to happen to prevent it but finally we managed to get in the car and go. And everything was exactly as I remembered it to be. We slowly perused every item on the very full shelves and filled a basket with products we couldn't find anywhere else. It was a truly relaxing experience...if I was being dramatic I would go as far as saying it was spiritual. lol. One very exciting moment was when we turned a corner and almost walked into the 'new' noodle wall. It's quite hard to find vegan noodles so when recipes call for them I end up using the same old wholemeal noodles from the supermarket...and to be honest...they aren't that good. So I gazed longingly at the colourful packaged noodles and thought..."Yeah right...they are all gonna be full of eggs or milk!". I picked up a package and read the ingredients to prove myself right....and was so WRONG! Every pack I picked up was vegan! So five different packets of noodles later I was a very happy woman! Oodles of noodles we remarked as we went on to the next section of the shop. 
Tradewinds stash...Oodles of Noodles and lovely stuff! lol 
As an addict knows...it's a constant mistress...so when we walked into the 'crockery' section I was a positively giddy fool. And the products on display were just beautiful in some places...and hideous in others! The prices were laughable but tucked away on a bottom shelf I found some delicate and very beautiful rice bowls. They spoke to me...lol. So I picked one up and braced myself for some ridiculous price and was shocked to find they were £1.50! Bargain! So two got stashed in the basket and we made our way to the counter. 

My Tradewind beauties
Truely divine...I know there should be a help group for me...lol
And in keeping with tradition we bought our fortune cookies at the counter and hastily opened them when we were sat in the car. We don't actually eat the cookies as they aren't vegan but we save them for the Little Sock Stealer as he likes to devour them! 

My fortune cookie
Now I was quite excited when I opened mine and read out aloud...'Luck is coming your way!'. Great I thought...I could do with some of that...until I realised it didn't actually specify good luck! Yikes...lol. So I am going to hope that it's good luck....

My Loves fortune
Now some people may whoop at this fortune! You will inherit a large sum of money. And who couldn't use a large sum of money, eh? But for My Love to inherit someone would have to die and that just stinks. We both agree that we would rather people be alive and happy..thank you very much. So we consider this fortune a 'dud'. Just the way we feel folks...

So we had a lovely escape yesterday and enjoyed many things. We also bumped into an old friend and spent a few hours catching up...it was a good day!

'Sweet' Memories

Just wanted to share with you the beauty of these lollies. We found them in the most bizarre shop and instantly I was transported back to my childhood. As a very rare treat I was allowed one of these and enjoyed them greatly.

I bought them and was going to use them as a decoration and then My Love read the ingredients on the tub and to both of our surprise they were vegan! Who knew! My poor teeth. lol

Anyway just wanted to share these little sugary treats and wish you all a lovely long weekend....~R~

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Simple Supper for One ~ Rocket and Roses Goodness Bowl

Kitchen Play List: J-Lo ~ The Remixes Album

My Love was working away yesterday and was in Birmingham attending the Waterways Renaissance Awards...winning the Partnership award and coming 1st runner up in Innovations. Wehoo! My Love! lol But that meant I was home alone for the night and cooking for one is never as much fun...but I promised myself that I would make an effort instead of reheating something from the freezer stores. 

I was still craving comfort (dammit) so I pulled a bag of frozen brown rice from the freezer. I have a rice cooker which is fabulous and I recommend to everyone that they get one..makes it so much easier. I cook up a large quantity of rice...cool it quickly...and then bag it up in 1/2 cup measures. I flatten the bags as I seal them and they store perfectly in the freezer. 4 minutes in the microwave and you have perfectly cooked rice without the fuss. Anyway....lol

I just pulled things from my stocks; a red onion, garlic, red chilli, courgette, aducki beans, baby plum cherry tomatoes, soy sauce and some red wine vinegar. The rice rounded it out. It was filling, good tasting and the right level of comfort...I like my courgettes on the 'al dente' side so there was the softness of the rice and beans then the slight crunch of the courgettes and the pop of flavour from the plum tomatoes. The soy and the red wine vinegar worked well together to add that other level of taste with the heat from the chilli. Thrown together at the last minute...and delicious. 

Simple Supper for One ~ Goodness Bowl
Rocket and Roses ~ Goodness Bowl
(Original recipe from the Rocket and Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp Rotina Healthier cooking oil or oil of choice
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 med courgette, sliced in half moons
1 'hot' red chilli, finely chopped
10 baby plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 14oz tin of Aducki beans, rinsed and drained. Use as many as you choose!
1 1/2 cup bag of cooked brown rice
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce/tamari if GF
1 tbsp red wine vinegar 

In a medium skillet heat the oil and saute the onion until turning brown then toss in the garlic and chilli. Keep stirring as it will catch otherwise. 

Add the courgette and tomatoes to the skillet and saute for 4 minutes. The tomatoes will begin the wrinkle and the courgettes will colour. Add the aducki bean and the soy sauce and red wine vinegar. Keep stirring. 

Heat the rice in the microwave for 4 minutes and when cooked add into the pan and stir to combine. Cook for another 2 minutes and then serve! 

Enjoy! ~R~

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Creamy Soya Bean & Black Bean Hummus

Kitchen Play List:  Billy Joel ~ She's Got A Way
                                      Thunder ~ Yesterdays News
                                      Slash ft Iggy Pop ~ We're All Gonna Die
                                      Madeleine Peyroux ~ Careless Love
                                      Shakira ~ Don't Bother
                                      No Doubt ~ Underneath it All

I firmly believe that you can never have too many Hummus recipes. And as I probably have about a hundred of them..it's a good belief! lol. I haven't always liked hummus but to be honest I hadn't even heard of it until about 10 years ago. It was during my first visit to My Love's parents house that I tried it. Instantly I was hooked and I couldn't understand why I hadn't tried it before. But I wasn't brought up in a 'hummus' household...if you know what I mean. My Mum experimented with lentils and soup mixes in stews and soups but lentil/bean dishes weren't part of household eating style. When I left home I experimented more but somehow the simple hummus slipped by me. Not now! I am now a card carrying paid up member of the chickpea fan club and enjoy all types of hummus. One of my favourites is made with pinto beans..not a chickpea in sight. lol. I use many different types as toppings for my lunch time salads and never tire of them. 

A few years ago I started to react badly to the preservatives in pre-made/produced foods and unfortunately hummus was one of them. So I make all of my own hummus now and if I do have a pre-made shop bought one, I find them too acidic and I never feel good later. 

So today I didn't have a topping for my salad and I'm still craving the comfort that I was seeking on Monday. Weather/hormones/My Love being away...yada yada yada. lol. I would love to say this is entirely my creation but it really isn't. I adapted the Black Bean Hummus from Joanne Stepaniak's wonderful Vegan Deli. 

The results were a deliciously creamy and light hummus. The flavours were subtle on the whole and then you pick up a little heat from the cayenne pepper. And it brought out the wholesome flavour of the salad ingredients. 

It doesn't look that great as it's beige, with flecks of black but what it lacks in appearance, it really does make up for it in taste. I hope you try this for yourself...

And I feel I should take the oppurnity to say thank you to my In-Laws for introducing me to the lovely stuff! lol

Creamy Soya Bean & Black Bean Hummus
Creamy Soya Bean & Black Bean Hummus
(Recipe adapted from Black Bean Hummus in Vegan Deli/Stepaniak)

1 14oz carton of Soya Beans, rinsed well and drained (Sainsburys sell them!)
1 14oz carton of Black Beans, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp tahini
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce/tamari
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Put the drained beans into a processor and pulse until broken down. Add the remaining ingredients and leave to blend until it is a smooth paste. You may need to get the spatula out and push everything down a couple of times but it's worth the effort. Store in a airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Enjoy! ~R~   

Green Smoothie Catch Up No 2

If you have been following my blog then you will know that My Love and I have been having Green Smoothies for breakfast Monday through Friday. And some of the reactions have been similiar to my sisters on Saturday...one of shock and then followed by a "Yuck..." or "euwww.." lol. To be honest four weeks ago that was our reaction. But not now...we are enjoying the green gunge for breakfast. For reasons that I mentioned on Mondays blog we didn't have them and resorted to cereal and blimey did we miss them..We are so used to the 'lightness' you have with a smoothie breakfast so much so that the cereal felt like a brick sat in our stomaches. 

So Tuesday morning bright and early we welcomed the green gunge and drank every mouthful quite happily. lol. As we are still getting to grips with the whole regime the recipes are still from Victoria Boutenko's wonderful Green Smoothie Revelution. 

There are so many recipes in her book that unfortunately we won't be able to try because of pineapple or mango issues on our part, that I can't recommend this book to you enough. Buy yourself a copy...it's worth every penny. 

P-P-Papaya Smoothie
(Recipe from Green Smoothie Revolution/Boutenko)

2 cup of spinach
1 fresh papaya, seeds removed
1 banana
1 cup of water

Prep the veggies/fruits and blitz until smooth in the blender.

Lovely Green Goodness Smoothie
(Recipe from Green Smoothie Revolution/Boutenko)

2 bananas
1 Royal Gala apple
1 Bosc pear
1 cup kale
1/4 cup water (My Love needed 2 cups of water...)

Prep veggies/fruits and blitz until smooth in the blender.

Enjoy! ~R~  

Monday, 23 May 2011

Rocket and Roses Pesto Couscous with jumbo chickpeas and cherry tomatoes

Kitchen Play List:  Guns and Roses Greatest Hits Album

It's May right? Well you wouldn't know it here..lol. Outside my workroom the sky is covered in clouds, wind is blowing a gale and I am actually quite chilly! We've had a busy weekend helping good pals move houses. Poor things were so stressed out and tired that when we left at 11 last night, we felt guilty leaving, knowing how much they still had to do in such a short time. So with our weekend full I hadn't had my usual time to prepare for the week (meaning salad box making and soup for lunch today) And as I had so much paperwork to do this morning I didn't have the time to catch up either. 

So with tiredness and the lack of sun, I really craved something comforting for my lunch...so I gave into it.  I opened the fridge and looked at what I had in. The first thing to catch my eye was a little pot of leftover homemade Pesto from Saturday...good start..then another pot that held 6 ripe little cherry tomatoes. I then went to my stocks and literally a bag of couscous fell into my hands as I opened them...so I took that as a sign! lol. This was all looking good..and then I remembered I had a tin of Jumbo chickpeas left in the other cupboard. And it came together as simple as that....lol. 

I can report back that the couscous was delicious and all four ingredients worked so well together. So tasty...so comforting...and guess what? The sun has just come out and is shining so brightly through my window..it's almost blinding! lol Nice..

A little bowl of happiness and comfort!
Rocket and Roses Pesto Couscous with jumbo chickpeas & cherry tomatoes  Makes 4 servings
(Original recipe from the Rocket and Roses Vegan Kitchen)

7oz cous cous (although I think bulgar would work too. And quinoa for the Gluten Free folks out there!)
10 fl oz hot veggie stock
2 dsp pesto,
1 14oz tin of jumbo chickpeas, rinsed and drained
6 ripe cherry tomatoes, rinsed

In a large bowl combine the couscous with the veggie stock, stir well and then cover with cling film. Leave to 'cook' for 10-15 minutes. 

Heat the chickpeas and have them drained ready to add to the couscous. 

Chop the cherry tomatoes into eighths. 

When the couscous is ready, remove the cling film and fluff it up with a fork. Then spoon the pesto in and stir through. Then toss the chickpeas and tomatoes in and fluff them into the couscous. 

Season with salt and pepper if you choose. 

Serve and enjoy! I did! lol 


Rocket and Roses Hot Red Cabbage 'Noodle' Soup

Kitchen Play List:  Shakira ~ She Wolf Album

NB: This is a post from a couple of weeks ago that I forgot to post! Oops...I blame the lurgy! lol 

In the spirit of ridding our bodies of this lurgy I have been throwing everything I possibly can at it. Today was the turn of the good old chilli and blimey did it clear the nasal passages..lol. Too much information? Oops sorry. lol. The thought of Hot & Sour Soup and Healing Noodle Soup were stuck in my head. But I didn't want to use noodles or mushrooms...I wanted to use Red Cabbage...stay with me...lol...in place of the noodles. I quite often substitute the noodles in soups for strings of greens or cabbage. Trust me...it does work. So I got out my soup pan and started chopping and this is what I came up with. 

It may not be the most attractive of soups but it was definitely tasty...and very hot! So if spicy heat isn't your thing...de-seed the chilli. We couldn't feel our lips after we had finished our steaming hot bowls but it was worth it. But we could breathe...lol.

Ugly but very tasty soup indeed! lol
Rocket and Roses Hot Red Cabbage 'Noodle' Soup
(Original recipe from the Rocket and Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1/2 med Red Cabbage, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp oil of choice
3 small red onions, peeled
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 red chilli, stalk removed
1/2 tsp oil of choice - that's two 1/2 tsps oil
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried mint
1 bayleaf
Black pepper to season
1 litre of veggie stock
1/2 14oz tin of Aducki Beans, rinsed and drained

Roughly chop the red onions, garlic and the red chilli and then put them into a mini blender or mini processor. Add the first oil into the blender and blitz until they are a smooth paste. If you havent got a blender, mince all three and then put them into a pestle with the oil and pound until they are a paste. 

In a soup pan heat the second dash of oil and then add the paste to it and stirring constantly for 3 minutes or until the paste is fragrant and the oil has been absorbed. Add the stock to the pan with the herbs and stir thoroughly. 
Bring the stock to a boil. 

Take out the large stalks from the red cabbage leaves and then place a few of the leaves on top of each other, roll them up and then thinly slice them so you have strips of cabbage. When all leaves are done...drop them into the boiling stock. Bring the stock back up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for 8 minutes. 

Add the drained Aducki Beans to the simmering soup and heat for a further minute. Discard the bayeaf. Season with black pepper. Serve...with napkins! 


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Strawberry Ice Cream

Kitchen Play List: Laughter and giggles from the little ones & shrieks from the bigger kids! lol

Strawberry Ice Cream
We had the pleasure of a visit from my sister and her little ones..always good to see them. The last time they were here I promised M & N that they could help me make some strawberry ice cream. Fun! So this morning they turned up eager to make the luscious treat. My Love had bought two large punnets of British Strawberries and it almost made me and my sister cry at the thought of the beauties being squashed and blitzed. Ah well. lol. I will confess that this isn't the healthiest of recipes but it's saving grace is that it isn't choc full of the nasty preservatives that the shop bought ones are. 

So I set out two bowls and divided up the strawberries and let the little ones 'get squishing'. lol. Messy work but so much fun. We then helped them to squeeze the lemon and then put everything into the blender and they stood with covered ears as it all blended to the bright pink mush. My Love poured the mush into the ice cream maker with the 'help' of M lol. Then both M & N stood over the ice cream maker as it churned. lol. Rather like little ones or animals watching the washing machine going round. lol. Then I mentioned lunch and making star shaped sandwiches to go with their Matoes and Peppers lol. N is a Matoe munchers and M can't get enough Peppers, much to his Mums disgust. lol. 

So lunch was had and in the meantime My Love had scooped the ice cream into two tubs to finish in the deep freeze. After a little play time it was decided it was taste testing time. So they all sat there with their bowls of strawberry ice creams with extra strawberries on top and enjoyed every mouthful. Even little L who had a tiny taste on her Mums finger enjoyed it. lol. A great success I think. There was even enough left for them to take home a full tub to enjoy later. 

Next week I have been asked if we can make a green ice cream....My Love suggested spinach..but somehow I don't think that will happen..lol. 

M's Ultimate Big Chill & N's Princess Ice Cream!

Strawberry Ice Cream Makes 2 pints of Ice Cream

1lb/500g ripe fresh strawberries
1/2 pint/300ml soya cream/double dairy cream
4oz/100g white caster sugar
Juice of one lemon

Mash the strawberries or puree them in a blender. Mix the sugar, cream and lemon juice into the puree. Blitz together and then pour into an ice cream maker. Churn for approx 20 minutes and scoop into a freezable container. Serve and enjoy! ~R~

Minestrone Soup with Pesto

Kitchen Play List: Queens Greatest Hits

My sister and her little one are here for lunch today and I always like to make her something nice as the little ones are always happy with sandwich and veggies. I made this soup for her a few years ago and she enjoyed it so much, I made it for her many times after that. And today just felt like a Minestrone day. 

I apologise for the photo...my old camera is dying very quickly and I'm still learning how to use the new one...but this photo has made me more determined to master it! lol

A very dark and moody Minestrone Soup with Pesto and baguette..lol
Minestrone Soup with Pesto
(Recipe from Vegetarian Pasta/Paragon)

1 1/2 tins cannelini beans (14oz tins), rinsed and drained
2.5 litres/4 1/2 pints/ 10 cups of veggie stock
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced very thinly
2 carrots, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 courgettes/zucchini, trimmed and sliced thinly
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
90g/3oz small pasta (I used baby shells)
salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp pine kernels
5 tbsp olive oil
2 bunches basil, stems removed
4-6 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tbsp soya parmesan

Bring the stock and the beans to a boil in a large soup pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the onion, leek, celery and oil. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes, potatoes, courgette, pasta and seasonings. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until very tender. 

Meanwhile in a blender or processor make the pesto. Fry the pine kernels in one tbsp of the olive oil until pale brown then drain. Put the basil into the processor with the nuts and garlic. Process until well chopped. Add in the cheese and blend until almost smooth. 

Stir 1 1/2 tbsp of the pesto into the soup until well blended. Simmer for a further 5 minutes and adjust the seasonings. Serve very hot. 

Enjoy! ~R~

Friday, 20 May 2011

Rhubarb Ketchup

Kitchen Play List:  Jack Johnson ~ Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
                                     Sarah McLachlan ~ Possession
                                     Stone Temple Pilots ~ Plush
                                     Shakira ~ Donde Estan Los Ladrones
                                     Destiny's Child ~ Soldier
                                     Ashanti ~ Only You
                                     Truth Hurts ~ Addictive

This week we bought our first batch of Rhubarb and it looked so good with its deep redness and green colours. I know My Love silently hoped that it would be used in a crumble or a pie...and I was tempted. But I wanted to make something other than the two usual recipes we all make during the winter. I looked at making it into smoothies or other desserts like a Rhubarb Fool. Again tempting but I'm trying to make luxury desserts, cupcakes and cakes for special occasions only. And if I'm really honest I cannot stand stewed fruits of any kind...I know it's a 'healthy' dessert but I find them acidic and I would rather not bother at all. It's just my personal opinion folks...I know there are many lovers of this dessert..My Love included! lol. 

In a moment of inspiration I thought back to the Plum Chutney I made to go with aubergine, tofu and rice. And I ended up doing a search for Rhubarb Chutney and found many recipes that were all lovely but loaded with ingredients I didn't want to use. Until I found this Ketchup recipe on kitchengarden.com. It had basic ingredients and sounded more like the kind of thing I was looking for. So I printed it off and this morning I made it. 

To be honest I don't know what to make of it. All the way through cooking I kept wanting to add some liquid but after rechecking the online recipe (a couple of times lol)  which confirmed no other liquid other than soy sauce..I carried on.  It certainly didn't cook in the time given and my rhubarb took a long time until it started to soften. And at the end stage I was left with a pan of glup. I seriously wasn't feeling the Rhubarb Ketchup love. So I carried on with the recipe and left it to go cold then blitzed it until it was smooth. At which point it looked like baby food...lol. As you can see on the photo below. I taste tested it and was really shocked at how savoury it was. I should imagine if you are vegetarian, having this smeared on a sweet cheese sandwich it will be brilliant. And in my vegetarian days that is exactly what I would use it for. But in all honesty I am a little unsure how to use it now I've made it! lol. I would welcome ideas....or if you try it yourself please let me know how you used yours...

I will update this post when I have decided how to use it...~R~

Rhubarb Baby f....Oops sorry...lol Rhubarb Ketchup!
Rhubarb Ketchup
(Recipe from kitchengarden.com)
4-5 sticks of rhubarb, cut into 1cm pieces
1 med onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce (Tamari is GF)
1 tsp coriander
1 tbsp olive oil
Tabasco sauce ~ to taste

Using a wide shallow pan, begin to brown the onion in the olive oil over a moderate heat. 

After a minute or two add the garlic and ginger. Reduce the heat and keep the ingredients moving until softened. 

Add the rhubarb, continue to stir. The rhubarb should begin to soften quite quickly. (Or not! lol)

When the rhubarb has softened, stir in the soy sauce and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. 

Stir in the coriander and Tabasco. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes. 

Remove from heat, allow to cool, then puree in a food processor.

If you'd like a thicker ketchup (I so did not need to do this! R) return to the pan and reduce, stirring constantly. 

Cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge until required. 

Good Luck folks! ~Red~   

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Nigel Slater's Spring Greens and Lemon Soup

Kitchen Play List:  Beverley Knight ~ Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
                                       Melissa Etheridge ~  Please Forgive Me
                               Rainbow ~ Since You've Been Gone
                               Bowes & Morley ~ Drifting Away
                               Kings of Leon ~ Be Somebody
                               Thunder ~ Stand Up
                               Queen ~ Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy

I bought a bargain bag of spring greens at the weekend. I have no idea why because they are my least favourite of the green leafy family. I know I should like them...I want to like them...but somehow I never quite reach that place. I did buy some when we were on holiday in Wales and enjoyed them but trying to eat them back home...nope. Aren't taste buds strange? lol Anyway in the spirit of economising I couldn't argue that this large bag of leaves, for 69p, weren't good value. So I put them in the trolley and home with us they came. So I did a search for Spring Green recipes and one of the first ones that came up was this one by Nigel Slater. He is one of the few TV chefs that I can watch...even though his recipes are hardly ever vegan...he just seems like a nice chap..so much so that I bought his autobiography Toastand really enjoyed it.

This recipe was virtually vegan and to make it so, all I had to do was sub the butter listed for olive oil. It was a straight forward soup recipe and the only labour was checking over the greens for little guests and then washing them. I think it's the smell of greens as you chop them that I don't like..anyway that was the hard part. It did smell good as it was cooking. However Nigel serves his as is..and quite frankly even I found it too 'full' and I'm the one who likes chunky soups. So I compromised and half blitzed it which left it with a very lovely speckled green colour and just enough bite to call it 'chunky'. lol.

This soup is very good and the lemon with the spring greens..very tasty. I think this will be my go to Spring Greens recipe now lol. Thanks Nigel! 

Nigel Slaters Spring Greens & Lemon Soup
Nigel Slaters Spring Greens & Lemon Soup
(Recipe found online but listed as Nigel Slaters creation)

4 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced thinly
1 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
1 litre of veggie stock
2 bayleaves
4 handfuls of spring greens, washed and thinly sliced
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

In a large soup pan add the oil and the leeks and stir to combine. Cover with the lid and leave to soften over a low heat. They should not colour. 

Once softened add the carrots and celery to the pan. Pour over the veggie stock and add the bayleaves, salt and pepper to season. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes until the veggies are soft but the colour is still bright. 

Add the grated lemon zest and the greens to the pan. Stir thoroughly. Add the lemon juice gradually to check for preferred 'sourness'. (I just put mine in and it was fine!) Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the greens are just tender. 

Check the seasoning...and serve. Or...half blitz if the soup it too 'full'. It doesn't effect the flavour of the soup. 

Enjoy! ~Red~