Saturday, 24 January 2015

Ready - Steady - Cook! (Home Edition)

Do you remember that show? Hosted by the ever so charismatic Ainsley Harriott, no less!

I recall when I was younger and living in Norway, BBC Food was one of the few British channels we had and so I ended up watching it, a lot.... It was so fascinating how these chefs could make 5-6 dishes using just a small bag of key ingredients.

So, a friend and I decided to do a home version of this. Two parts, and the "gourmet" budget of £10.

One of us bought ingredients, and the other one had to cook something with it. On the second night we swapped, so that the other one bought in ingredients and the other one had to think of something.
We had pre-decided that anything else we had in out pantry could be used, and that the end result had to consist of a two-course meal. Both of us went for the combination of a starter and a main, and surprisingly enough, despite having no recipes - it all turned out delicious!

I'll feature a few photos from the evenings, and then... I am going to need your help!

Because if there is a bit of friendly competition, there should be a winner, right?

So, one of us got these ingredients:

Large mushrooms, lime, red pepper, vegetarian pepperoni, flaked almonds, smoked cheese, baby sweetcorn, one red onion, giant couscous, and papaya.

This resulted in these two dishes:

A starter of stuffed mushrooms with vegetarian pepperoni and smoked cheese, an eggy red pepper with a papaya and lime purée.

As a main, a creamy cous cous risotto was made, packed-full of sweetcorn, onion, pepperoni and whatnot. It had a lovely texture, and was really hearty! Let's call this team the Red Tomato, shall we?

Second up we have the Green Pepper!

Oyster mushrooms, gnocchi, red onion, Mediterranean spicy tomato "umami" paste, river cobbler (which neither of us had ever heard of before...), parsnip, carrot and bird eye chilli (flippin' wild by the way!).

Whiiiiich turned into:

A spicy carrot and parsnip soup with coconut, this tasted a little Moroccan actually!

And then the main consisted of lime- and panko-crusted river cobbler with buttered oyster mushroom gnocchi.

We have decided that whoever wins this competition will be treated out to a meal by the opponent... It's getting intense!

As Ainsley would say: Will it be the Red Tomatoes, or the Greeeeen Peppers that will end up winning this? It's all up to you! I will hold the post open for votes for a week from now, and then I will count the end results and draw a winner.

Stuffed cheese and chorizo mushrooms and eggy peppers with a fruity purée followed by a main of a luscious cous cous "risotto" with chorizo (vegetarian and all), onion, garlic, and other goodies VS a spicy carrot and parsnip soup for starters and a breaded river cobbler served with gnocchi and mushrooms.

Take into consideration the ingredients we were given, and the final outcome. Next time... we might up the game a little and lower the budget, making it even more of a challenge! It's all down to you know. So please vote!

Have you ever had a cooking competition with friends before? If so, I would love to hear about it!

- Jules

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Corn Broth with Tuna (or Crab!) for Two

Hello and a wonderful Wednesday to you! Have you had a good day so far?

Here is a second recipe from one of my new Thai books (gotta make the most of them!)

This here soup is a delicious broth mixture, thickened slightly with the help of an egg. In the original recipe, it called for crab, but I tried with canned tuna instead and it worked a treat!

Use 1 tin (about 120g) per person for a main meal or 1 tin for the whole batch for a nice lunch.

Corn Broth with Tuna (or Crab!) for Two
(Serves 2)

1 tbsp soy oil or 1 tbsp oil plus 1 tsp soy (add the soy later)
1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cm fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped (or 1-3 tsp dry ginger)
400ml stock (vegetable or chicken)
200g corn (from tin works perfectly fine)
1-2 tbsp fish sauce
1 or 2 tins of tuna or white crab meat, depends on how hungry you are!
1 egg
Good pinch of salt
A dash of pepper
To garnish:
A drizzle of smoked paprika
Freshly chopped coriander or parsley

- Start by heating the oil in a pan and adding the garlic, fry for a minute before adding the ginger. Stir for a little bit until fragrant and add the stock, corn, fish sauce, and tuna/crab. Heat through for about 5 minutes, adding a little salt and pepper, plus soy sauce if using normal oil.

- Now, add the egg, turn off the heat and stir well for about half a minute/a minute until the egg is cooked and incorporated into the sauce.

- Divide the soup between two bowls and sprinkle with paprika and chopped fresh herbs, and enjoy!

Today so far I have had a leisurely one, as it has been my day off. I met up with a friend for lunch, and we had a lovely lunch and coffee (a complimentary piece of millionaire shortbread on the side!) at Naked Soup, just off Great Western Road. We were quite sleepy after an hour and a half of catching up, but decided to go charity shopping regardless. I came home with a couple of nice things, and a DVD, and somehow, despite lack of energy - we got really quite hyper and started talking gibberish. I love whenever you hang out with close friends and just get to goof about!

Later on, I will have a friend over for a little "Ready-Steady-Cook" event, so he will bring the ingredients, and I have got to come up with a two course meal that I have to make for us - this will be a bit of a challenge, as I usually depend on recipes... But I cannot wait to see what the result is. There's a take-away just down the road from me should it go awfully wrong, but I will try my best! Wish me luck, and have a lovely rest of your day! Any plans?

Original source:
Den Lille Kokebokserien: Thai, p 52

- Jules

Monday, 19 January 2015

Sunflower Pancakes

Hello and top o' the morning to you! Had a good start to your week? I hope so! Either which way, pancakes always make you feel pretty spiffing, don't they? Have you tried adding different seeds to the batter and see what happens? They add a bit of crunch as well as flavour, which - let's be honest - isn't a bad thing!

Originally, sesame seeds were used in this recipe I found, but I only had sunflower seeds so I used them instead, and it worked a treat!

Sunflower Pancakes
(Makes 2)

For the pancake batter:
1 egg
5 heaped tbsp wholemeal or gluten-free flour
1/2 cup milk (125ml)
1 tsp oil such as sunflower or rapeseed
1 tbsp syrup (maple, agave etc) plus more to serve

Juice of 1/2 lime (or lemon)
2 bananas
2 tbsp sunflower or sesame seeds
1 tbsp oil (neutral, like sunflower oil)

- Start by mixing together the ingredients for the pancakes, and leave to set for about 5 minutes.

- In the meantime, squeeze out the citrus juice into a small bowl, slice the bananans - and dip them into the juice. Make sure it is all coated slightly, and set aside.

- Now, heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and add 1 tbsp of the seeds in, lightly toast for about a minute, before pouring half of the pancake batter over it, using a ladle. Swish the frying pan around a few times so that the whole bottom is coated and the edges are even. Cook until you can see it is cooked through (when the batter is set in the middle), this should take 3-4 minutes. Flip over and fry until slightly golden. Repeat with the remaining half.

- When the pancakes are done, simply serve with the citrus banana, fold over and douse with 1 tbsp syrup each, and enjoy!

On another note, the other day when I was at some friends' for a clothes-swap (so much fun! Ever done it?), I got a jar of homemade chutney! (you know who you are!)

I have already demolished half of the jar-ful of the chutney, and it was delicious! Especially with a bit of cheese. But check out the beautiful colour!

Presents like these really make me warm and fuzzy inside!

Have a lovely Monday - and practice making pancakes for the National Pancake Day, less than a month to go! x

Original source:
Friske Vegetarisk Oppskrifter, p. 212

- Jules

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Citrus, Ginger & Coconut Smoothie

I came across this recipe over at NITK and after having just bought an extra large piece of ginger (I always feel kinda bad when I only break off a little bit....) it seemed like the right thing to use some of it for!

This smoothie contains two of your five a day, and is a great way to detox your body a little. It's zingy, sweet and fresh - perfect when you need a little something to wake you up!

Citrus, Ginger & Coconut Smoothie
(Serves 1)

1 cup (about 130g) peaches (can also use apricots or pineapple, or a mix!), choppped
Optionally a few icecubes (or just freeze the fruit overnight)
1 cm ginger, grated
200ml coconut milk from a carton, not tin
1 tbsp coconut cream (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon or 1 1/2 lime
5 drops stevia

- Simply have all the ingredients in a blender or process with a stickblender until smooth, and serve!

The sunshiney-colour just wakes you up a little instantly!

Do you have any favourite smoothie combinations?

Original source:

- Jules

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Golden Potatoes & Almonds

A recipe that is good for your muscles as well as your bones, imagine!

I had never tried saffron in any savoury dishes until I made this. But it works really well! Normally, I use it for St. Lucia "lussekatter" the 13th December, I am glad however - that I stumbled upon this recipe *smiles*

You can serve it as lunch, breakfast, or a side with any main you see it fit for really! And even though it features potatoes, it doesn't take long to cook, promise.

Golden Potatoes & Almonds
(Serves 2)

1 tbsp olive oil
A pinch of saffron
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
500g potatoes, finely diced
Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
500ml vegetable stock (1 cube)
25g almonds

Optionally: Bread for mopping

- Heat oil in a casserole and fry the almonds until they're dark golden. Set aside.

- In the same pan, add the potatoes, and stir for a few minutes. Add the saffron, garlic and parsley (if using), and fry for a minute before adding the stock. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

- Once the potatoes are done, add the almonds and serve!

Have you ever tried saffron in savoury dishes before, and have any hints and tips for me?

This week has been interesting; some customers at work who had their photo-shoot in one of our rooms insisted that I had a couple of photos taken, despite me not having the best of days having braved the weather on my way to work earlier that morning, but it was something else I suppose, haha!
Now I've got my feet up and am ready for two days off. Tomorrow, I'll be going to a few friends' for a clothes swap, and on Saturday evening I'll be making sure to see some lovely faces too. In between, I'll try and cook up a few tasty dishes and cross my fingers and toes that the weather will get better. It has been brutal the past few days with storms and rain, brrrr!

Original source:
Friske Vegetariske Oppskrifter, p. 233

- Jules

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Crumbly Oat & Cranberry Cookies

Oat macaroons is one of the infamous "seven kinds" in Norway to make for this festive season, I decided to put a bit of a spin on it, and so these came to be!

I swapped the butter for coconut oil, which means the dough will be a little sweeter and contain plenty of healthy fats, and then instead of water and sugar, I swapped it for agave - but you can also use maple syrup. I thought that I'd use cranberries instead of raisins as well, as I simply love the colour of them, and they're at least as delicious as their not too distant berry cousin, so...there's that!

Crumbly Oat & Cranberry Cookies
(Makes 7-8 small ones)

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup (spelt) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp maple- or agave syrup
A good handful and a bit of dried cranberries

- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

- Mix all the ingredients together well and stir to combine, making sure that the coconut oil isn't lumpy (optionally melt it a little before mixing it in).

- Shape little walnut-sized balls with your hands and place on a baking tray with baking paper, and bake them in the middle of the oven for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving.

So far this week, I have been up at 6am so that I had enough time to get ready for the opening at work. Chilling like a villain in the evening, reading a Norwegian crime book (makes a change from fantasy fiction!), I hope you have had a good week so far, been up to much? x

Recipe by yours truly inspired by these.

- Jules

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Silky Smooth Avocado Soup

Avocado in guacamole - of course, avocado in chocolate mousse: sure! Avocado in....soup? Why had this not ocurred to me sooner, until I saw it in a book somewhere? Because you know what? It really works!
Using avocado gives the soup a silky smooth consistency, and you can throw in some leftover greens you have in your fridge such as bell pepper, half a head of lettuce, a handful of spinach, it'll work a treat. I made a few changes to the recipe I had at hand, and this is how it turned out *smiles*

Silky Smooth Avocado Soup
(Serves 2)

1 large, ripe avocado
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/2 head lettuce OR 1/2 cucumber, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
Small sprig of mint (about 8 leaves)
500ml vegetable stock
Good, crusty bread to serve

- In a medium pot, start by heating up the onion, lettuce/cucumber and green bell pepper.

- Then, cut the avocado in half, take out the stone and remove the flesh. Chop up, and add to the casserole, swish around for about a minute before pouring over the stock. Simmer for about 10 minutes, before adding the mint. Take the soup off the heat and blend smooth.

- Add salt to taste (I didn't think it needed any), toast some bread, or serve this soup with crutons. It can be enjoyed either hot or cold!

Soup post-bread attack

The weather over the past week here in Glasgow has been well...less than sunny to say the least, the rain pouring down sometimes accompanied by sleet... It's a very mild Winter for sure, but I think I'd take snow over this if I'd had to choose. Perfect soup weather though, for sure!

I have just had a couple of days off, recuperating - seeing friends over lunch, went to a dinner at a colleague's (she and her flatmate makes badass pizza with roasted vegetables!) and reading a little. Today, it's back to work - bring it on! Whatever have you been up to over the weekend?

Recipe by yours truly,

- Jules