Rhubarb and ginger jam

We had a drizzly weekend, so it was time to raid the freezer and make jam! I have quite a stockpile of apples and rhubarb. The rhubarb from my front garden and the apples come from our neighbours tree.

If you’re looking for something effortless to grow in your garden, get yourself some rhubarb. If, like me, you struggle to find time to water your garden evryday, rhubarb is an easy choice. You can pretty much get away with ignoring it most of the year. Watering it once or twice a week in spring and summer will give you plenty of thick stalks. One plant will yield plenty – enough for me and family give-aways.

Last year I made quite a few crumbles…so I wanted to do something a little more versatile with the rhubarb this year. I thought a jam would be useful for creating different kinds of breakfasts and snacks. I had it with some cereal and yoghurt this morning. I’m looking forward to having it with porridge, as autumn and porridge time comes round again.

Rhubarb and ginger jam

  • 540g rhubarb, chopped into 1-2cm pieces
  • 110g sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger

Put the rhubarb, sugar and ginger into pan and simmer on a medium heat for 10-15 mins. Stirring towards the end, until the rhubarb becomes a soft pulp.

If you want a smooth consistency, pop it in the blender.

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Roasted cauliflower salad

Since getting back from a recent trip to Vienna, I’ve been craving roasted cauliflower. During the trip I ate out at a few places, most notable by far was Miznon. A bustling little place which does self-service Israeli food. It’s a trendy looking place. As soon as you step in you’re faced with a lot of shouting, clanging and banging from the kitchen area, which is open for all to see, just behind the serving counter. It had the feel of a street food stall upgraded to a permanent venue. Fragrant smells wafted from the kitchen and a throng of people mingled by the bar. There was a feeling of general disorder, and for that I admired the boldness of the owners.

I enjoyed the frenzied atmosphere, but the best part was the food. I had a pitta stuffed with a sweet and spicy ratatouille, shredded hard boiled egg, humus and some kind of green pickle. It was messy, hearty, food – my favourite kind. My companion had the same, minus the pitta. Nosing around as we came in, we noticed that everyone was eating whole roasted cauliflower, so we followed suit and ordered the cauliflower. When it came it was almost burnt, and utterly delicious. In fact I particularly enjoyed bits that were really burnt.

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Ever since I’ve been meaning to recreate the almost-burnt cauliflower at home. I’m not brave enough to imitate Miznon’s mighty statement whole cauliflower, but I found salad recipe which has now become one of my favourite meals!

Roasted cauliflower salad

Adapted from BBC Good Food

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  • 1 cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • small bunch dill, chopped
  • 3 tbsp toasted, flaked almond
  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil, season and roast for 15 mins. Stir in the red onion and carry on roasting for a further 10 mins.
  2. While the cauliflower is roasting, mix the vinegar and honey with some seasoning.
  3. When the cauliflower is done, stir in the dressing, dill, almonds and spinach, and serve.

Walnut pesto

So, it’s been a while. What can I say? It’s been an eventful couple of years! Time always seems to be running away. Well, I’m still growing things in the garden, trying out new vegetarian recipes, and looking for more food inspiration. Having the opportunity now to look back I think it’s interesting to see how my food habits and tastes have changed. Even over the last year, I can pinpoint new discoveries (and obsessions). Anyway here is a renewed effort to keep track of them all.

We made some pesto with walnuts last night and it was just too yummy not share it. Initially I thought it might be a nice, cheaper substitute for pine nuts, but actually it turned out just as good, if not better for being different. Walnuts have a slightly muskier taste, and I thought We had it simply with some pasta and halved fresh cherry tomatoes.

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Walnut pesto

  • 50g basil
  • Walnuts
  • Parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove

Blitz everything together in a good processor!

Strawberry Summer Pavlova

My mum keeps buying strawberries. A new punnet appears in the kitchen every day. She simply can’t get enough of them! This isn’t really a problem, as they usually disappear very quickly, and nothing really says summer like the delicious taste of fresh strawberries, but in the back of my mind I do sometimes wonder if its too much…

So, in celebration of this wonderful summer fruit (and in an effort to satisfy my mum’s addiction), here is a lovely recipe for a praline meringue, covered in cream, strawberry sauce and topped with some of those fantastic strawberries!

I’ve made two of these already this summer, one at home, and one for my brother’s house warming party. Let me warn you, there is enough to feed at least 15 hungry people. Once you put the cream on, it won’t keep very well – so bring it to a party or have some friends round to help you consume it!

Strawberry pavlova

Strawberry Summer Pavlova

Adapted from BBC Good Food

  • 175g whole almonds
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 225g muscovado sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 750g strawberries, halved
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 568ml double cream

Turn the oven to 140°C , and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Toast the almonds in a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat, for 2-3 mins, until they start to colour. In a food processor whizz around two thirds of the almonds until finely chopped (not ground). With the remaining third, roughly chop with a knife.

In a bowl stir together the two sugars. In a separate bowl beat together the egg whites, using an electric whisk until stiff. Sift the sugar into the bowl in three batches, ensuring that you beat the mixture until stiff again in between each addition. Add the cornflour and vinegar and beat the mixture for a further 3-4 mins until glossy and heavy.

Fold in the finely chopped nuts, and divide the mixture between the two baking trays. Spread out into a rough 20-25 cm circle, and scatter over roughly chopped nuts. Bake in the over for 1 hour, and then leave in the oven for a further hour after turning it off.

In a food processor puree 500g of the strawberries wtih 2 tbsp of the icing sugar.

Add the remaining icing sugar to the double cream, and whip until thick, and carefully swirl in half the strawberry sauce.

To assemble, place one meringue on a serving plate. cover with half of the strawberry cream. Place the second meringue on top, cover with cream, drizzle with remaining strawberry sauce and scatter strawberries.

 

Leftover apples

One of my pet hates is wasting food. So whenever I have apples that look like they’ve seen better days and gone slightly soft. I always think about how they could be used to make a srummy dessert. The same goes for overripe bananas – I always have banana cake on my mind! I don’t usually buy cooking apples for baking as there always seems to be an excess of snacking fruit in the house. I also find they need more sugar to counteract their tartness. When using eating apples I usually reduce the amount of sugar used in most recipes as the apples are naturally sweeter.

I like to make crumble a lot, but I thought it would be nice to make a pie for a change. Made this last Sunday with some vanilla custard. The recipe for the custard makes a small amount for about for 3 people. So if your keen on custard, like me, double the portions!

Apple pie May 2014

Apple Pie

Adapted from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook

  • 155g plain flour
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 140g butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 8-10 apples
  • 45g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 200°C . Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Take 90g of butter, cut into small pieces, and add to the bowl. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until it has a crumbly texture. Stir in the water and press together to form a smooth ball. Place in fridge for 20-30 mins.

Peel and core the apples and cut into pieces. In a small non-stick frying pan melt the remaining butter with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Once the sugar has dissolved add the apples and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The apples should be soft, but hold their shape.

Take the pastry from the fridge, and roll out on a lightly floured surface, to cover a 23cm pie dish. Place the apples in the dish and cover with the rolled pastry, pressing down the edges lightly. Bake for 35mins.

 

Vanilla Custard

Adapted from BBC Good Food

  • 290 ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

Slice the vanilla pod open length-ways. Heat the milk with with vanilla pod, bringing it almost to the boil.

Beat together the eggs with the sugar in a bowl.

Pour the milk infusion gradually over the egg yolks while whisking. Once the mixture is combined, return to the pan. Stir over a low heat for around 5 mins, until it thickens.

Spinach and Roasted Tomato Quiche

Hi there,

It’s been a hectic few weeks. I have unfortunately come down with a chest infection, and I am close to going out of my mind with boredom. Sitting in my dressing gown with my fifth cup of tea of the day, I realised that as the days have gotten busier over the last year, unfortunately food has taken a blow. Most days I am out of the house for at least 12 hours, and would love to just eat immediately when I get home and not bother with the hassle of cooking anything too complicated.

So, being ill has given me a small peek into my student days (which were less baked beans on toast and more home-made bread), when I had the time (and energy) to put together a weekly meal plan. I am not sure how most of you feel about planning a weekly menu. I used to feel that it wasn’t something for me. I had big ideas about food needed spontaneity and thought that planning would somehow conflict with the flow of creative juices in the kitchen. But what I actually found was that instead of making way and allowing for uninhibited creative masterpieces to flourish, I usually bought the same ingredients over and over again. These last two days at home have been a good reminder for myself. I have been so swept away with everything else and I have forgotten some of my hidden kitchen gems.

Yesterday I had a look through my old meal plans, I usually keep them for reference and ideas for the days when you simply wish that organised plans would just materialise before you. I also tend to make something delicious one day and then completely forget about it the next week. Anyway, I spotted this recipe for Spinach and Roasted Tomato Quiche, and thought I can’t remember the last time I made a tart! After having this dinner I remembered how easy and quick it is, and have vowed to renew my efforts in the kitchen!

Sorry there is no picture – we gobbled it up before there was any time! But please do give this a try, it is really good.

 

Spinach and Roasted Tomato Quiche

Adapted from BBC Good Food

  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 100g spinach
  • 50g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)
  • 2 eggs
  • 284ml single cream
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 280g plain flour
  • 140g butter

Preheat the oven to 2ooC. For the pastry, mix the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together with your finger tips. Add 4-6 tablespoons of water and combine the mixture into a ball. Wrap in cling-film and place in fridge for at least 20 mins.

Once the pastry has been chilled roll it out on a lightly floured surface into the shape of your tin. I use a 27 cm round quiche tin. Place the pastry in the tin, making sure that you push in all the corners. Cover with greaseproof paper and spread baking beans on top. Place in oven and blind bake for 20 mins.

In the meantime beat the eggs in a small bowl, whilst mixing pour in the cream. Stir in the basil and season well.

When the pastry is ready, remove the tomatoes as well. Scatter half the cheese and spinach at the bottom of the pastry. Then arrange the roasted tomatoes on top. Finally pour in the egg and cream mixture and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until set and browned on the top.

Winter walking

I absolutely love Indian food. I am sorry if anyone disagrees, but I personally think that it is the best food ever! And I mean ever.

I am living with my parents at the moment, which naturally has its ups and downs. We get along as well as our cats and dogs do, and like any family household, there is the occasionally need to scream into a pillow, or out of a window. The biggest point of contention in the kitchen, by far, is spice. My parents, being of Polish origin, are not accustomed to any eye-popping spices. In fact, even a single chilli is enough to send the whole house into uproar. And so, since moving back home last year, I find myself having massive pangs for a nice hot curry.

Recently I went to dinner party at a friends house (yes, we are now officially old enough for dinner parties to be an acceptable Friday night activity).  Ciara and Dan made the most fabulous butternut squash and chickpea curry creation, and I will have to ask for the recipe next time my parents are out. It reminded me of days that my boyfriend, Pete, and I would feast on Indian food back when we used to live on our own. I am always keen to learn and share recipes of my favourite kinds of cuisine, so please let me if you have a favourite of your own.

At the moment I am also missing the Scottish mountains.  We went to the Cairngorms last week and had a glorious holiday in the snow. I had a fantastic time with some great friends. We did some nice walks and even managed to get some skiing in at the end – in Scotland, who knew! We were there as part of a larger group trip and met some lovely fellow walkers/adventurers. Also got some good practice naving in white out conditions, nobody walked off a cornice or died in an avalanche, so all very happy with that.  I managed to survive walking in wind speeds gusting at 85mph. Some of us were thankful to be alive; so all in all a cracking holiday!

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A sneaky shot of me and my half hidden friend Maddi (she had a bad cold) in a rare moment of visibility.

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Great view from the summit of Cairnwell – sadly our only Munroe of the trip.

Along with the mountains, I also miss the food we ate. We stayed in some luxury  log cabins, and each took it in turns to cook for our group. The cabins were luxurious by our usual standards anyway – most of us are happy with a roof over our heads in the form of a draughty barn, sometimes sleeping along with resident animals. Anyway we had some proper big feasts to fill us up for ‘hard’ mountain days (at least that is what we told ourselves anyway). At the end of the week the guy we rented ski stuff from asked how much we each weighed (for the fitting the ski bindings, not some bizarre pick-up line) and I had to make some quick calculations taking into account the sheer volumes I  had eaten. You are probably thinking that this mountaineering stuff sounds like quite a soft ‘sport, and I think you would be right. The way I see it, mountaineering is all about great company, lots of food, and a bit of walking on the side.

Anyway, for my meal I made my take on the classic sag aloo with a red lentil dhal. I served it with some naan bread and rice.  So, without any further ado, here is one of my favourite recipes for spinach and potato curry. Just what you need after a long winter walk (or a hard day at work!).

Spinach and Potato Curry

Adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cook

  • 300g new potatoes
  • 300g fresh spinach
  • one onion, halved then sliced finely
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 chilli
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 tsp gram masala
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • tin of coconut cream
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of half a lemon

Cut potatoes in half and parboil for 8 minutes. When ready drain and leave to one side.

Meanwhile heat oil in a large heavy-base pan (I usually use a wok) fry the onion, for a few minutes before adding tumeric, coriander, gram masala, chilli, garlic and splash of water.

Add the cooked potatoes and fry on a high heat for another 6-8 minutes. Wait until they brown slightly before stirring. Finally add the coconut milk, cook for a further 10 minutes until it has reduced. Add the spinach at the very end, let it wilt slightly before stirring it in.

Add lemon juice, season well, and serve with naan bread or rice.