Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Eve, eh? lol Where did the year go?...

New Year Play List: Abba ~ Happy New Year
                                         Pulp ~ Disco 2000
                                         Jimmi Hendrix ~ Auld Lang Syne
                                         Pink ~ Let's Get The Party Started
                                         (OK..OK..I was reaching by the last's harder
                                                   than you think to find New Year ~R~)

Does the thought of the New Year fill you full of woe? Or does it refuel your tanks and leave you feeling positive about a fresh new start? For me it's a little of one..but this year, more of the other. My family lost my Grandad on Jan 2nd so for me I'll always be a little sad when that date rolls around. So tonight I will have a drink in his honour and remember all the good times we shared and all the things I learnt from him. And most importantly the times spent dancing and laughing with him. So with the twang of sadness around my heart I shall remember the gent that was my Grandad.

There are people in my close circle of family and friends that have a hard battle to face in the New Year so my thoughts will be with them too, as they ready themselves for the hard times ahead. And I will do whatever it takes to support them...

So what does the New Year mean to me this year? Hope! I have to have that or really what is the point.

Happy New Year to one and all! I love fireworks and just wanted to
I am tempted to sit down and write out a long list of resolutions as I have every year in the past but that just leaves me feeling an utter failure a month down the line...You know 'that' list and 'that' feeling, right? I feel a change is needed for 2012 and I'm done with all the pressure that we put ourselves under, to achieve all the things put down on a piece of paper. I want 2012 to be the year where I take back my the things I want to do..not what is expected of me by others. I think it's particulary poignant that's it's my 40th birthday coming up. Yes folks I finally reach the big 40! So maybe I'm thinking things through more deeply than other years. It really is a landmark...isn't it? lol

A list is a a list, yeah? lol But my Hopes for the New Year are very simple and this...

Continued work on achieving better health...making good choices with eating, taking exercise and enjoying sports. A constant work in progress...but a vital one.

Cherishing the relationships in my life...My Love, my family that consists of actual family and friends.

Continued works towards a successful career. All the hard work that entails, I'm sure gonna be busy. lol.

Chosen mantra: If it isn't fun...doesn't make you fit..doesn't make you feel ain't doing it Red!

Oh and I hope that I can take up Archery as I tried it for my birthday a couple of years ago and fell in love with the only targets were the round kind pinned to a stand. Not and absolutely never the hunting kind!....Ever!

And maybe take those fabulous holidays with My Love...No?...Not this year? OK well a gal can dream, right? lol

So I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year and whatever your celebration plans are, if any, that you enjoy every second of them. We shall be seeing the New Year alone with a bubbly drink and raising a toast whilst sat in our garden watching everyone elses fireworks.

Thank you for your support and blog reading this year...and I hope to continue to entertain you throughout 2012 too! lol

Best Wishes!
Red & the Webmaster..aka..My Love x

Friday, 30 December 2011

Cashew Nut Loaf with Parsley Stuffing

Kitchen Play List: Thunder ~ Only You Can Make Me Cry
                                     Dizzee Rascal ~ Dirtee Disco
                                     Martina McBride ~ Some Say I'm Running
                                     Simply Red ~ Something Got Me Started
                                     Slash ft Fergie ~ Beautiful Dangerous
                                     The Beach Boys ~ Do It Again

I left the decision for our main Christmas meal up to My Love this year...and very quickly the reply came back with this loaf. I wasn't disappointed either. For those who are familiar with the British cook book author Rose Elliot you will probably have tried this loaf. Or maybe not? lol. It's from Vegetarian Christmas

I first made it about 5 years ago for the first Friends' Christmas Gathering and it went down a storm and we both loved it too. It isn't hard to make once you get started and smells so good baking in the oven. My Mum was here when I made the festive loaves for the holidays and she was practically drooling as this one baked. lol. 

The flavour is very savoury and it has a beautiful creamy texture. And looks very good when sliced and served, due to the parsley herb stuffing layer that runs through the centre. I serve it with low fat roast potatoes and parsnips, steamed carrots and sprouts and sometimes broccoli. And always have a boat of veggie gravy for those weird gravy loving folks! ;o) lol 

Now I'm not the biggest lover of white bread and rarely eat it. But this recipe does need white breadcrumbs. I have tried it with wholemeal and it loses that's why this loaf is a 'High Days and Holidays' dish. I hope you give it a try and as always I would be happy to hear how you got on...

Cashew Nut Loaf with Parsley Stuffing ~ How lovely does it look, eh?
Cashew Nut Loaf with Parsley  Serves 6
(Recipe from Vegetarian Christmas/Elliot)

Herb Stuffing
1 small onion
25g/1oz/ 1/2 cup of fresh parsley
125g/4oz/2 cups white breadcrumbs
50g/2oz/4 tbsp softened vegan margarine
1/2 tsp dried marjoram and thyme
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

50g/2oz/4tbsp vegan margarine
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
225g/8oz/1 3/4 cups unroasted cashew nuts
125g/4oz white bread, crusts removed
2 large garlic cloves
200ml/7 fl oz/scant 1 cup water or vegetable stock
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
grated nutmeg
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 quantity of Herb Stuffing

Make the stuffing first...Peel and grate the onion. Chop the parsley. Place the onion and parsley in a bowl and add the softened butter, dried thyme and marjoram. Season with salt and pepper, then mix all the ingredients together well. Set to one side. 

For the loaf...Set the oven to 200'C/400'F/Gas Mark 6. Prepare a 450g1 lb loaf pan. Fully line the tin with parchment paper. 

Melt most of the remaining margarine in a medium sized pan, add the onion and saute for about 10 minutes until tender but not browned. Remove from the heat. 

Grind the cashew nuts in a processor with the bread and garlic, then add to the onion together with the water or stock, salt, pepper, grated nutmeg and lemon juice to taste. 

Put half of the cashew nut mixture into the prepared tin, top with herb stuffing, then spoon the rest of the nut mixture. Smooth over. Dot with the remaining butter...(I don't! ~R~) 

Bake for around 30 minutes until firm and lightly browned. Cover the roast with foil if it gets too brown before then. Cool for a minute or two in the tin, turn the nut roast out onto a serving dish and then carefully peel away the paper. Garnish with sprigs of parsley and/or slices of lemon. Serve. 

Our Cashew Nut Roast nestled in amongst our Love that green from the stuffing.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Rustic Pear and Chocolate Cream Galette

Kitchen Play List: Bowes and Morley ~ Illogical Love
                                     Bing Crosby ~ I Love You Samanta
                                     Bowes and Morley ~ Dancing the Night Away
                                     Terra Naomi ~ Not Sorry
                                     The Kinks ~ Tired of Waiting for You
                                     Jace Everett ~ Bad Things

A request was made from My Love for an alternative Christmas Day dessert. Usually we keep to tradition and enjoy a Christmas Pudding filled with dried fruits, alcohol and nuts. But as dried fruits are now on My Loves 'Death Foods' really wasn't going to work. Pears are Low on the Salicylates list and my initial thoughts went to little pastry tarlets with a dark chocolate creme filling with a poached pear cut and splayed decoratively on top of the creme. Then I was capitivated by this recipe whilst leafing through Kris Holechek's cookbook 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes

Rustic Pear and Chocolate Cream Galette
I really enjoyed making this galette...I usually make my own pastry using my preferred recipes but this time I made the pie crust recipe that was suggested. It came together very simply and I left it in the fridge whilst I made fillings. Again this was very simple too...peeling and slicing gorgeous dessert pears and leaving them to sit in a spritz of lemon juice and a tsp of sugar. The chocolate part comes from melting down 1/2 cup of dark of a minute! The cream comes from a cornflour, milk, sugar and vanilla extract mixture which comes together and thickens more quickly than you would The assembly is just as easy. 

Rustic beauty! lol The Galette straight from the oven..
The results were just awesome...we were both bowled over by this galette. It's suggested that you leave it to cool and then chill which is exactly what we did. The pastry is melt in your mouth heaven. The chocolate layer gives it texture and bite..the vanilla cream blends into the cooked pear and the three elements all come together to make one heck of flavour. It's not too sweet and it's light so you can enjoy it without feeling too full. I know I'll be making this again and I'll be playing with the recipe and trying out other variations. But this is one great recipe and I'm very pleased I found it. Thank you Kris. 

Succulent cooked pear infused with the vanilla cream, sat on dark chocolate and surrounded in 'melt in your mouth' pastry...what's not to love??
Rustic Pear and Chocolate Cream Galette Serves 10
(Recipe from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes/Holechek)

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup cold margarine, chopped into chunks
1/4 to 1/2 cup cold water

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
4 peeled firm pears, cut into 1/4 " slices
1/2 cup dark chocolate, melted

Milk for brushing
Sugar to sprinkle

Using a food processor pulse together the flour, salt and sugar to mix and then add the margarine and pulse until you have a crumby texture. With the motor running add cold water until it clumps together and you have a large dough. 

On a floured surface mould the dough and then cut it into two pieces...cover one and place in your freezer for future use! The remaining half cover in cling film and place in the fridge for at least one hour. 

Pre-heat the oven to 375'F/190'C/Gas Mark 5 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set to one side. 

In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in milk and cook over a med-high heat, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble, approx 7 minutes. Lower heat and continue  to stir. Let simmer for 4-6 minutes, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon without just dripping off. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. 

In a medium bowl, sprinkle lemon juice over the pears. Add sugar and gently mix to coat. Cover until ready to use. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough to about 10-11 inches in diameter. Transfer dough to the prepared baking sheet. Spread the melted chocolate in the centre of the dough, leaving a 2 " border around the edge of the crust. Pour the vanilla creme mixture over the chocolate and smooth over. Layer the pears on top of the filling (Don't panic if there seems to be a mountain of pears...they cook down beautifully ~R~) Gently begin to bring the edge up and over the edge of the pears. Crimping to secure the pastry crust. Brush the edges with a little milk and then sprinkle over with a pinch of brown sugar. 

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and let cool at least 25 minutes before serving. Best if cooled completely. Store leftovers covered in the fridge. 

The galette gets better and better with time so it would be great as a forward planned dessert. We served ours with Vanilla Soya Ice Cream but it would work well with cream...or just on it's own with a dessert fork! lol.   


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Rocket and Roses Super Rooty Soup

Kitchen Play List:  Nickelback ~ The State Album

Some of my best creations come from me just grabbing ingredients and winging it. That is true for this soup recipe. I needed to prove to myself more than anything that I could create a Salicylate Low or Free recipe and it would be tasty and a recipe I would want to make again. I am slowly..very slowly getting my head around this new necessary food change in our lives. I am still going to cooking a dual menu come the New Year but it would also be great if I could make some recipes that were good for both of us. 

For the last couple of years we have following the Eat to Live eating plan in which starches are very restricted..1 cup a day. And it worked for me..I quickly felt better and so did for My Love it seemed. But not on the inside apparently as all the fruits and vegetables we were eating in great quantities each day were slowly doing My Love's system a lot of damage. So now pretty much the only veggies that are 'Sally' Low or Free are roots. Getting used to cooking with root veggies (These are starches on the E2L Plan) has been a shock to the system and although they are great for My Love...they are not so good for me. *sighs* lol. 

Here's the rub though..I do love root veggies and all the different ways of cooking them. So constantly cooking them for My Love and not partaking should be interesting in the New 

This soup came to be after I was given 2 small Swedes to use up. My Love had picked them up from a Reduced Bin for 2p each. And although they weren't the prettiest specimens they were still in a good state. I decided to go all out and come up with a soup that was packed with veggies and flavour. As I can't use any spices, most herbs, stock or black pepper felt like a huge challenge. 

I was soon in chopping nirvana..I know..but I find chopping veggies very And I was pulling root veggies from every corner of my kitchen and throwing them in the pot. I had the strangest reaction to cooking this soup..I found I was grinning from ear to ear. Why? Well the sensory memories had kicked in big time. I had forgotten just how truly pleasing the smell of cooking roots could be. It sent me straight back to my childhood and the veggie stews that my Nan and my Mum had cooked for me. All that was missing was some little dumplings and some sprinkled on curry powder at the end. lol. At the end of the cooking time I must confess that I pulled out one piece of each root I had used and stood in the kitchen blowing on them to cool them..and I devoured each cube and felt like a small child again. lol. Ah memories,eh? lol It was almost heartbreaking to blitz it smooth. After all, this was a soup for My Love's lunches this week and it would've been considered way too chunky! lol I reluctantly got my stick blender out and got blitzing. 

The soup tasted divine and was packed with flavour. The smell in the kitchen was quite heady and my windows were steamed up as they should be when cooking roots in winter. lol. It made 7 good servings and it could've been thinned a little more and it could easily serve 8-9 people. It's a great recipe for the deep freeze. 

It's also given me a little more confidence that I can come up with some 'Sally' Low or Free Recipes for My Love. After all what is a cook without her muse to create for...Yikes does that sound as soppy as it reads?? lol. get on with the 

Rocket and Roses Super Rooty Soup ~ Delicious!
Rocket and Roses Super Rooty Soup Serves 7-9 
(Original recipe from the Rocket and Roses Vegan Kitchen)

1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 stick of celery, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 sm swedes, peeled and small dice
4 lg potatoes, peeled and small dice 
4 lg carrots, peeled and small dice
4 lg parsnips, peeled and small dice
1/2 cup of loosely packed flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1600ml/7cups of boiling water
low sodium salt to season to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pan and add the onion and celery and stir well. Cook for 5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. 

Add the roots and stir to coat in the onion mix. Add the parsley and stir once again. Then pour over the boiling water and stir well to combine. Turn the heat up to high and cover the pan with a lid and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, recover and then cook until the roots are tender. Season with salt to your own personal taste. 

Using a stick blender blitz the soup until smooth. 



Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Festive Desserts enjoyed over the last few days...

Sorry for the last posting today but I have been visiting with a good pal and his family. I am home now and quickly trying to remember the desserts we have served. I say served because I haven't eaten all of I'm starting with the Friends Christmas Gathering and then the dessert I made for me and My Love for Christmas Day. Usually we would enjoy a Vegan Traditional Christmas Pudding with custard..we are English! lol. But as dried fruits are now on My Love's Death Food list I offered to make something different. 

Chocolate Lover's Pudding Tea Cups with Physalis Fruit
Those of you who follow regularly will know that I collect tea cups and saucers and espresso cups etc. In one our local £1 shops I found these little silicone cupcakes cases with plastic saucers. I love them...and they also work well as dessert cups. I made the pudding and filled each cup then stored them in the fridge until needed. Once topped with Physalis fruits as a contrast to the dark bitter chocolate they were a huge hit! lol. 

Pineapple Upside Down Dessert Slice
This was the second dessert option at the Friends Christmas Gathering. It was a little more dense than an Pineapple Upside Down Cake as it is dredged in juices and left to chill before serving. I enjoyed this a great deal..but sadly My Love is Pineapplephobic and wasn't as impressed. lol. Ooops. And this dessert got better the longer it sits. I had a small piece whilst typing this post and it was much better than on the 23rd! Good to know for forward planning desserts. 

The next dessert wasn't technically a dessert but it was what was made and eaten after lunch for the Little Ones' Christmas Party. I made up a batch of simple vanilla sugar cookie dough and split it between the three of them and gave them the cookie cutters and let them go! lol. They had a blast and when it came time to topping them I glazed them with a very thin layer of water icing and let them get It was mad but fun! I think they did a good job!

M's Christmas Cookie Creations
M favoured the Father Christmas and Christmas Tree cutters and loved the mini chocolate coloured drops toppings. I thought they looked great...

J's Christmas Cookie Creations
J favoured the Christmas Bell and the Turkey cutters...and for his toppings went with coloured sugar strands and then snowed chocolate strands over the top of them! Nice.

N's Christmas Cookie Creations
N was set on having Christmas Angels and then cut out a couple of Christmas Trees at the end. She was also crashed out asleep when it came time to top them so I hope she appreciated my pink sugar crystal and pink heart toppings I did for her. 

And finally....the dessert I came up with for our Christmas meal. Pear is probably one of the only fruits left for My Love to enjoy and I had come up with the idea of a simple tartlet with a chocolate creme and poached pear splayed in the centre. Then found this recipe and went with it. lol. I will try my version in the future but I have to say this was one of the most delicious desserts I've ever eaten. It was light, not too sweet and the pastry melted in your mouth. The melted dark chocolate layer, vanilla creme layer and pears were a delight to eat. I will most probably be posting this recipe in the next couple of is a keeper. 

Rustic Pear and Chocolate Galette Slice with Vanilla Soy Ice Cream
Perfect! And quite simple to make and as with the Pineapple dessert it is completely chilled before serving and gets better the longer it is sat. Bonus. 

Although it has been lovely having all this formal food and rich offerings....I am looking forward to getting back to normal now. Although I suspect My Love isn't as the New Year bring the Elimination Diet part of the 'Sally' it will be white rice and garden peas for each meal for a few weeks! 

So tomorrow I will be back with regular recipes and musings. I hope the holidays are being kind...


Monday, 26 December 2011

Festive Savoury Meals enjoyed over the last few days....

As we're still in the Holiday period over here in England. we are celebrating Boxing Day..I am offering you a pictorial blog posting of all the savoury courses of the meals we've enjoyed over the last three days. I start with the dishes served at the Friends' Christmas Gathering..then the Christmas Dinner that My Love and I between these formal dinners we lived on various hardship at all. lol. And we do realise how fortunate we are to have this lovely food filling our cupboards and fridge. Tomorrow I will do a similar post with the desserts that we served. I will post up the recipes of the ones you haven't seen before but some of them you will recognise from recent postings. And if you want to try a dish before I post the recipe then feel free to email/message me and I'll provide you with the recipe straight away...

And please note that these aren't my best photographic of them were taken in seconds...on my kitchen work surface before some helpful person took them to the table to serve..ah well. It's the thought that counts please ignore shadows 

Hoping the holidays have been kind to you and you are all safe and well.. ~R~ 

D's Battered Tofu slice with Maple/Vinegar Drizzle served on Thai Rice with a Cabbage & Parsley Salad. 
This starter was created and made by my pal was visually beautiful and tasted even better. I have never eaten tofu cooked this way and was completely won over and shall be trying it myself very soon. I will be posting the entire recipe with extra photos soon. Thank you D for getting the Friends' Christmas Meal off to a very good start. 

Susan V''s Thanksgiving Loaf with Roast Potatoes and Parsnips
Believe me...there is a loaf buried under the potato and parsnip mountain..somewhere. I have made this loaf a few times now and it's always greatly received and enjoyed. I always roast plenty of potatoes and parsnips for the pals as they are devoured! lol. This was one of two choices for the main meal during this meal. 

Rose's Christmas Galette ~ Goodness me..shadowstastic! lol
This was the second option on the table. This galette is a simple wholewheat crust that has a filling of sprouts, carrots, leeks, shallots, cox apple and cashew nuts which are cooked then mixed with a 'blue cheeze' style sauce. Then put into the cooked shell and baked until hot. It's really very tasty. I think everyone had a piece of each 

The table is also filled with an abundance of steamed veggies...sprouts, green beans and I think carrots. I also served up a large dish of Festive Red Cabbage which is another of Rose's recipes. Slow casseroled red cabbage cooked in red wine and garlic until tender. Another popular dish. I also had a bowl of homemade Cranberry Sauce and a boat of veggie gravy. 

We had a great night and although it was a smaller gathering this year it was just as enjoyable and I'm already looking forward to next year's. And it would be remiss of me to not show you one the main highlights of the night...A's fantastic Christmas Hat that she made herself and looked splendid. 

The stars around the band flashed constantly and the rim and top were covered in christmas cake really was a sight to
So that was the savoury part of the onto the Christmas Eve Little Ones' party. I have no photos but we did serve them Cheezy Pasta with Garlic Bread with a Pepper and Tomato Salad..all which was devoured. They had Christmas Orange Jelly with Mandarin Oranges set in it for dessert and then we baked Christmas Cookies but the photos for that come tomorrow. 

Christmas Day dinner was a quiet affair after all the formal dining. We ate comfortably on our laps watching the Christmas Top of the Pops Show...because we could! lol 

Rose's Cashew Nut Loaf with Parsley Stuffing filling.
We had a Cashew Nut Roast with Parsley Stuffing filling with Hassleback Roast Potatoes, Roast Parsnip, Festive Red Cabbage, Sprouts, Carrots and Broccoli.

Christmas Dinner 2011
Today we have a friend F joining us for dinner and we shall be having the traditional Boxing Day dinner of leftovers with pickles and other various treats. Gotta love 

So that's the savoury update and remember if you want the recipes just get in touch. Tomorrow I'll post the dessert part of this be warned for the drool 

Happy Holidays...

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Thoughts....and plans 2011

This is the photo on my personal FB page..I found it on a random image search and take no credit for it's creation. Whoever you are..thank you. This has made me smile many times ~R~
Like it or not the holiday season is upon us. And although I am a person without faith I embrace Christmas and celebrate it with my family and friends. The family that I grew up in wasn't a family that believed in any religion except for being good to each other. Christmas was always a time for family and enjoying being together. My Grandad would dress up as Father Christmas every year and give me and my cousins a present each on Christmas Eve and then the family would just enjoy the holiday week. It was about being together..putting aside the differences..enjoying good food, games, alcohol (adults not kids..obviously! Sheesh! lol) and music. And the music had to be fun! So I have great memories of Elton John, Shakin Stevens and Slade rocking me into Christmas. lol
Obviously as a child you don't realise the hard work that everyone went through, to have this lovely Mum and Nan with the cleaning, cooking and baking. My Grandad working long hours to pay for it. We weren't a house that gave in to the commercial side of Christmas..we had just..enough. Christmas was a family holiday and it was always fun. Maybe that is the way my brain remembers it all but that is the blissful small child glow on things..don't you think? That ended for me at 9 and I guess I've been striving for that Christmas 'family' feeling ever since. 

Our plans this year start with with a small ( have to economise this year!) gathering of our closest (local) friends and I cook a meal for everyone and we will play board games and enjoy some festive spirit in the form of wine. lol. I love these evenings...Friends...that are family! Christmas Day we will visit my sister and her family and give the little ones their gifts and stay for a while. Then it's back home for me and My Love and we eat alone and enjoy some downtime. Boxing Day we are spending some time with another good pal who is down visiting other friends. Not sure if I'll see my Mum over Christmas which is very sad. And hopefully my little brother is stopping by for a visit. And we have plans to catch up with other friends through the Christmas week.

There is a new event this year..the little ones are now old enough to really get the 'Christmas Fun' and as Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday this year they are still coming over and we are being joined by the other little one J and we are hosting a Christmas Eve party for them. Christmas Pass the Parcel, Pin the Ivy on the Xmas Pud, Christmas musical chairs...and bumps at J's request. lol. They are also decorating Christmas cookies to take home with them. I'm making a huge Mac & Cheese for lunch as that's one of their favourite meals..served with garlic bread..another favourite..and a tomato and pepper salad..also a favourite. Then no doubt there will be the watching of Ice Age Christmas Movie. And then we'll wrap them up and send them home with their parents...and My Love and I will collapse in a heap..

So as I am no doubt currently buried in the kitchen making all the lovely food for the coming days...I thought I would share with you the Sprout Wreath as I love it so much and a brief thought or two about what the holidays mean for me. I'll be back tomorrow with recipes and photos...I hope whatever you are doing are safe and well...


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Thrifty Thursday ~ Festive Carrot Soup with Sesame Stars

Kitchen Play List: Dean Martin ~ Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
                                     Nat King Cole ~ Frosty the Snowman
                                     Peggy Lee ~ Santa Claus is Coming to Town
                                     The Scaffold ~ Lily The Pink
                                     Bobby Helms ~ Jingle Bell Rock
                                     Alma Coogan ~ Never Do a Tango with...
                                     Mr.Crosby/Mr.Bowie ~ Little Drummer Boy

I first made this soup two..well maybe three years ago (where does the time go?) as the starter course for our Friends' Christmas Gathering. And it went down a storm apart for the one pal who didn't like sesame seeds. But in my defense and hers..we hadn't communicated this fact. lol. It comes from Rose Elliot's festive cookbook Vegetarian Christmas: Essential Vegetarian Collection.

I had to veganise it but it really wasn't rocket science. I also adapted the recipe from the off instead of making it as suggested by Mrs. Elliot. In the cook book it's called Cream of Carrot Soup but I am not the biggest fan of creamy soups. So I simply just left the cream out. I don't mind if they are naturally creamy and smooth due to the veggies used but don't like adding extra creams or milks. I also left out the squeeze of lemon juice too. And when it came to the croutons..and if I'm honest they were the real reason I first tried this didn't want to use the full 4 tbsp of marg to coat them so reduced it to 1 tsp and thinly scraped margarine onto each crouton..just enough to get the seeds to stick. And they baked and toasted just fine. 

This soup is very tasty, cheap to make and beautiful in colour. We eat it as a lunch during the festive period and it's a refreshing break from all the rich foods on offer. Served in small bowls with a single crouton as a starter it's very enjoyable and a crowd pleaser as it's not heavy on the tum. Served in a regular bowl with a few croutons this soup is a satisfying lunch. It's impressive while costing hardly anything to make which is why I chose it as my Festive Thrifty Thursday Recipe. There really isn't a wrong time to serve this 

I've made the croutons without the sesame seeds and they're very tasty too. The soup is naturally GF and if you are Gluten Free using GF bread would work just as well. But I don't add my croutons until the soup is served and I let my guests float them for themselves. Especially after the first serving of this...I try and learn from my mistakes really! lol. 

Costings for this soup come at the end of the recipe as usual. And thank you to Rose Elliot for a lovely recipe. 

Festive Carrot Soup with Sesame Star Croutons
Festive Carrot Soup with Sesame Star Croutons Serves 4-6
(Recipe from Vegetarian Christmas/Elliot)

1 tbsp vegan margarine 
1 tbsp rapeseed oil or oil of choice
700g/1.5lb carrots, sliced
225g/8oz/1 3/4 cups potato diced
1.5 litres/2.5 pints/6 1/4 cups water
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
grated nutmeg

4 tbsp sesame seeds
6 slices of bread of your choice
1 tsp vegan margarine

First make the sesame stars, which can be done in advance and kept in a tin for a few days. Set the oven to 150'C/300'F/Gas Mark 1. Sprinkle a plate with half of the sesame seeds. Cut out the star shapes by hand or with a star shaped cookie cutter, then spread margarine on both sides of the stars and then press them lightly onto the seeds to coat both sides. Place on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven until golden brown and crisp. Approx 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

In a soup pan heat the oil and margarine and then saute the onion for 5 minutes until softened but do not brown. Add the carrots and potatoes and stir well to coat and then cook for 10 minutes until softened. Do not allow to brown. Then add the water and stir well. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for approx 20 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Then season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Then using a hand blender blitz until smooth. Serve hot with sesame croutons on the side. 


Thrifty Thursday Recipe

Sea salt
Black pepper
Sesame Seeds

Per person

Not shabby for a beautiful starter, lunch etc over the festive period or anytime of the year! 

If you try it...let me know how you get on? Happy to hear from you...

Save those pennies folks!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Chocolate Cupcakes

Kitchen Play List: Bing Crosby ~ White Christmas
                                     Nat King Cole ~ The Christmas Song
                                     Dean Martin ~ Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
                                     Peggy Lee ~ Winter Wonderland

Christmas Chocolate Cupcakes
Ah cupcakes..there is always an excuse to make some, isn't there? I especially like making them when asked to do so for a gathering. And that is exactly what these were made for. My Love's colleagues were having their Christmas office gathering and everyone was asked to bring something and I was asked to make some cupcakes. And there was an extra request that they be chocolate. I always use the same recipe for chocolate cupcakes and it's a no brainer really..I always turn to Isa and Terry's wonderful cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World 

I have never been let down by this always delivers and everyone always loves it. Even people who aren't the biggest chocolate cupcake fan (Myself included!) seem to enjoy them. I kept it really simple and made a chocolate topping of icing sugar, cocoa powder and water..I mixed and added until I got my preferred consistency. And then topped them with a simple fondant star with a green ball. That's the Christmasy part..don't ya know! ;o) lol 

I think I inhaled more icing sugar and cocoa powder than I put in the topping..*cough cough* This is why I usually get My Love to mix the 

Aren't they pretty? I love
Christmas Chocolate Cupcakes Makes 12 
(Recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World/Moskowitz&Romero)

1 cup soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp chocolate extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda 
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350'F/180'C/Gas Mark 4 and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla & chocolate extracts to the curdled soya milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add in two batches to the wet ingredients and beat till no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are okay) 

Pour into liners, filling three quarters of the way. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. 

Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. 

Could not get this angle right..but wanted to show how they looked in the cupcake caddy and how they were displayed.
Top with a simple cocoa powder, icing sugar and water icing. Then using vegan fondant icing..cut out some stars and press a green ball decoration into the centre and then press down gently on the top of each cupcake. Leave to set. 

Once again a huge Thank You to Isa and Terry for a fantastic recipe and cookbook..~R~