I took a bit of a gamble with the Slow Cooked Challenge May, choosing ‘Rice & Grains’ as the theme. It was either the start of the warmer weather or the theme itself which kept the usual suspects away from their slow cookers, so I was more than delighted with the two outstanding entries that popped up in the Linky.
Sarah at Maison Cupcake has created the most amazing dessert, it’s rice pudding but not as you know it! Let’s just say, Mars Bars and Mars Milk Protein Drink are involved – oh my goodness you need to go and visit Maison Cupcake and see this MARS BAR SLOW COOKER RICE PUDDING.
The other entry for the Slow Cooked Challenge May is also a real cracker. Lucy of Baking Queen 74 and my co-host, has come up with a beautiful SLOW COOKER SPINACH & HALLOUMI PEARL BARLEY RISOTTO, those more robust grains are really good in the slow cooker, they swell up and soak up their cooking liquid, but retain a good texture.
You can also see my recipe Slow Cooked Risotto which was made using arborio rice.
For more information and links to all the round ups with links to all the reicpes, visit the Slow Cooked Challenge page at Farmersgirl Kitchen. The new challenge will be posted on 1st June and will be open for 3 months with a mega-round up at the end of August.
Cranachan is one of the best known Scottish desserts and is usually made with Scottish raspberries. However, as my garden rhubarb is lush and abundant, it seemed a shame to buy raspberries when I could roast some stalks of rhubarb with sugar and use those instead, to make the perfect spring dessert, Scottish Rhubarb Cranachan.
I was watching Countryfile on TV the other night and there was an article about a rhubarb farm in the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle, the reason they gave for the rhubarb growing so well in that area was that it was cold and wet. That sounds familiar and our rhubarb certainly grows away by itself without much attention and produces many stalks of rhubarb throughout the summer, apologies for my dodgy lawn, the wet and cold is not such a good combination for growing grass and seems to produce more moss than grass!
- 3 large stalks of rhubarb
- 30g caster sugar
- 100g pinhead or medium oatmeal
- 50g hazelnuts, toasted
- 60g light soft brown sugar
- 200ml double cream
- 100ml creme fraiche
- 25 ml malt whisky or a whisky liqueur
- Clean the rhubarb and cut into 3cm lengths, place in a single layer in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with caster sugar. Roast for about 8-10 minutes at 180C. The rhubarb pieces should be whole but if you pierce with a knife, it should be soft all the way through. Leave the rhubarb to cool.
- Meanwhile, toast the oats on a tray under the grill (broiler), watch them carefully so they don't burn, move them around a little so that they toast evenly.
- Toast the hazelnuts in the same way or in a dry frying pan which can be easier to manage, let them cool and rub off the skins.
- Put the oats, hazelnuts and sugar into a blender and whizz them up, make sure you don't grind them to a powder you want a little bit of texture, you are looking for the texture of rough breadcrumbs.
- Whip the double cream and mix with the creme fraiche.
- Spoon into individual glasses starting with the oat mixture, the cream, rhubarb and then repeat the layers, finishing with a few of the best pieces of rhubarb and a little spoonful of oat mixture.
- You can eat it straight away, but it does improve if you leave it for up to 24 hours, as the oats soak up the moisture from the fruit and cream and soften.
There are many recipes for cranachan and many delicious cold desserts using rhubarb, here are a few from some of the UK’s top bloggers:
Iced Cranachan – Farmersgirl Kitchen
Cranachan – Tinned Tomatoes
Mini Chocolate Rhubarb Pavlovas – Tin & Thyme
Rhubarb and Ginger Pavlovas – Foodie Quine
Rhubarb and Ginger Trifles – Farmersgirl Kitchen
Hello dear readers, well here we are finally in late Spring/early Summer and we’ve even had some half decent weather in Scotland, as well as a freakish flurry of snow! I’ve been gathering up some foodie goodies on my kitchen table and weighing up their pros and cons to share with you my views and reviews.
As the weather gets warmer we start to consume more soft drinks. I am not a fan of traditional fizzy pop, but as we don’t drink much alcohol now, we do enjoy good quality soft drinks.
Newton’s appl fizzics is a golden amber apple juice blended with lightly sparkling water, it’s completely natural and contains approximately 40% less sugar than apple juice on it’s own. What’s more it contains no E numbers, hence no ‘e’ in the appl of apple fizzics.
The Verdict: I enjoyed the appl fizzics, served chilled it’s a pleasant drink but I couldn’t help thinking you could get a similar effect by diluting organic apple juice with sparkling water and it would be less expensive.
Available in 330ml bottles with RRP £1.29 and 750 ml with RRP of £2.29 from Amazon, Harrods and independent grocers, farm shops and deli’s.
Farmersgirl Kitchen Table rating: 7/10
A well stocked biscuit tin is a must in our house and we are quite choosy about the biscuits we eat. So how did the Bahlsen Choco Leibniz and Pick Up measure up to the Farmersgirl Kitchen Table challenge?
Choco Leibniz are a semi sweet butter biscuit covered in a thick layer of chocolate. They come in dark, milk and white chocolate and new flavours, orange and choco-caramel.
Pick Up is a sandwich biscuit with two crisp biscuits and a delicious filling. Most of the biscuits have a thick chocolate filling except for the Black & White which has a white cream filling a bit like an Oreo only rectangular!
The Verdict: I surprised myself as I thought I’d prefer the Choco Caramel flavour Leibniz, it was nice enough but I was a little disappointed as there wasn’t a big hit of caramel. I think I would have preferred a caramel flavoured chocolate rather than a thin layer of caramel between the milk chocolate and the biscuit. My favourite turned out to be the milk chocolate which was totally delicious. I really loved the Pick Up, they were really satisfying with a big hit of chocolate and different from our usual wafer style biscuits. I would definitely buy them again.
Farmersgirl Kitchen Table rating: Choco Leibniz 8/10, Pick Up 9/10
Available from all major supermarkets. Price: Choco Leibniz – £1.00 – £1.49; Pick Up: £1.29 for 4 x 28g
While we are on the subject of snacks, let me tell you a little about the Go Ahead range of carefully portioned calorie counted snack bars. Go Ahead healthy snacks have been around for some time however they have some new options to tempt you.
New crunchy cookies bites with chocolate chips and bursts of fruity flavour. Each pack contains six small bags of cookies. There are two flavour options: White Chocolate & Raspberry (99 kcal per bag) or Cheeky Chocolate & Orange (98 kcal per bag).
The other new flavour is the Go Ahead Cherry Bakewell Pud Bakes (141 kcal per bar), a soft baked cookie bar with a jammy cherry fruit filling.
The Verdict: These cookies and bars are tasty enough, although I could taste artificial sweeteners which I don’t particularly enjoy. I think it’s important to consider how these snacks compare in terms of calories to other cookies and bars, so I’ve listed a few below and will let you make up your own mind.
Go Ahead Cherry Bakewell Pud Bake (141 kcal)
Pick Up Black & White (146 kcal)
Choco Leibniz (141 kcal)
KitKat two finger (107 kcal)
Go Ahead Cookie Bites (99 kcal)
The Verdict: The Go Ahead range are leaders in the field of sweet calorie counted, carefully portioned snacks. I have to say that the little packs of cookies and the bars are handy to pop into your bag to stave off hunger,however if you are looking for a really healthy snack, you would be better off eating fruit or some carrot sticks. I’m not sure what it was, but I found these bars were not particularly satisfying, so I’ll be sticking to my usual snacks and treats.
Farmersgirl Kitchen Table Rating: Cookie Bites 7/10, Cherry Bakewell Pud Bakes 6/10 both retail at between £2.00 – £1.00 per box of 5
Available from all major supermarkets and many other retailers.
Although I cook and enjoy vegetarian and vegan recipes, I am also a meat eater and this box of Great Glen Charcuterie from The Carnivore Club was a real treat.
The Carnivore Club is the world’s first curated cured meat of the month subscription service. Their UK operation sources only meats made by UK-based artisans, utilizing ingredients and animals from local farms.
I sampled the April box featuring the work of Great Glen Charcuterie, a highly talented artisan company that uses wild Scottish venison in all of their recipes to create amazing Scottish food of premium quality.
The Verdict: It was fun to receive a pack of charcuterie through the post, it comes in a sturdy wood-look box. The charcuterie was of outstanding quality, the chorizo was quite unlike any that I have bought previously, really meaty with very little grisly fat as you sometimes find in pork chorizo. You get a nice long use by date on the packs so you can enjoy them over a longer period.
The Carnivore Club subscription is £32 for a one off trial box or £29 per month for monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly, a subscription would make a very handsome gift to a charcuterie lover.
Farmersgirl Kitchen Table Rating: Subscription Club 9/10, Venison charcuterie 10/10
Above are some of the ways I used the charcuterie, on a pizza, in a quick chickpea stew and in a slow cooked lamb shank casserole.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these different products, I was not paid for these reviews and all views expressed are my own.
It’s been a while since I made a batch of muffins, I had a bit of a phase of making muffins and then stopped. After tasting these Chocolate, Oat and Banana Nut Muffins it’s clear that it is time to start making more!
It was the classic tale of squidgy, blackening bananas left in the fruit bowl along with oats being chosen as they feature as the theme for the We Should Cocoa Linky this month. There are a lot of ingredients in the recipe but it couldn’t be simpler, I even baked in the evening of a work day which happens very rarely nowadays.
- 130g plain flour
- 1 tbsp coconut flour (or cornflour if you don't have coconut flour)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 40g old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
- 150g soft brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 100 g coconut oil
- 1 large egg
- 4 tbsp natural yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ripe bananas
- 60g pecan, walnut or hazelnuts (or a mixture) roughly chopped
- 50g dark chocolate, chopped
- 40g coconut flakes, unsweetened
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Melt the coconut oil in the microwave (about 30 seconds) or in a bowl over a pan of water, it won't take long. Leave the coconut oil until just warm to the touch.
- Line one muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
- Sieve the flour, coconut flour (or cornflour), baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large baking bowl. Add the rolled oats and sugar and stir to mix.
- Mash two of the bananas in a bowl and dice the other
- In a smaller bowl mash two of the bananas, mix in the eggs, yogurt and vanilla extract.
- Mix the coconut oil into the dry ingredients until well combined, then gently add the banana and egg mixture and stir.
- With a metal spoon gently fold in the diced banana, 40g of nuts and 40g of the chocolate.
- Divide the mixture between the 12 paper cases and sprinkle the tops with a mixture of the remaining, chocolate, nuts and the coconut chips.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Leave the muffins in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing to a cooling tray. Cool completely before eating...if you can wait!
Have you heard of Fika? It’s a Swedish tradition of breaking for coffee and cake but it’s more than that, as described in Fika: the art of the Swedish Coffee Break, “Functioning as both a verb and a noun, the concept of fika is simple. It is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it. You can do it alone, you can do it with friends. You can do it at home, in a park or at work. But the essential thing is that you do it, that you make time to take a break: that’s what fika is all about.”
My friend and work colleague, decided that we would start Fika Friday when we would make sure we had a break and would take it in turns to bring in the cake or pastries. The Chocolate, Oat, Banana Nut Muffins were the first treat for Fika Friday. Why not start your own Fika tradition? It’s a great way to catch up and a great excuse to bake some treats.
I’m entering the Chocolate Oat and Banana Nut Muffins for the following Linky Parties:
We Should Cocoa run by Choclette at Tin and Thyme
Bake of the Week, the weekly Baking challenge over at Casa Costello.
Here are a couple of alternative Banana Muffin Recipes from top UK bloggers:
Banochocolate Chip Muffins from Fab Food 4 All
Banana and Mincemeat Buns from Tin & Thyme
I have a new toy to play with in the kitchen, it’s a dehydrator made by those clever Froothie people. In this post I’m going to give you a ‘warts and all’ review of the Optimum P200 Dehydrator and recipes to make Sweet Potato Chips and healthy Chocolate Chia Bars.
WHY USE A DEHYDRATOR?
Dehydrating is a method of preserving food which draws out the moisture and, when stored in air tight containers the dehydrated food stuffs will keep without spoiling for a long time. Different food stuffs will keep longer than others and like all dried food, think dried herbs, they will lose their flavour eventually.
Dehydrating is a healthy option, you don’t need any salt or other preservatives as the dehydration process concentrates the flavours. Dehydrated food is considered ‘raw food’, as it is preserved at low temperatures and does not lose the nutrients that some other methods of preserving require. Dehydration results in only 3-5% loss in nutrients compared to freezing which results in a 40-60% decrease. It’s also a great way to preserve gluts of fruit and vegetables from your garden or the local markets.
The Optimum P200 Dehydrator has the following features:
Available in 2 sizes : 6 trays or 10 Trays
Equipped with a 40-hour digital timer
3-or 5-year domestic and 12-month commercial warranty
Easy-to-clean non-stick and mesh sheets
Unique custom-made cleaning brush
Access to expert support team
30-day money back guarantee – Includes return postage!
- The Optimum P200 Dehydrator is really easy to use, you just load up the trays, leaving space around each piece of food, set the temperature and time and leave it to do it’s stuff.
- You can open the drawers to check how things are going with no ill effects.
- It worked first time and, although the booklet that comes with it is a bit limited in information, the internet is full of dehydrator recipes and tips, I’ve collected some on a Dehydrator Recipes Pinterest Board, please feel free to follow.
- You can use the Optimum Dehydrator to make yogurt and also to prove bread!
- This is a big piece of kit. I have a large kitchen and plenty of shelf space but still found it tended to dominate the space. If you don’t have a lot of space, you will need to find somewhere to store it when not in use. P200 Food Dehydrator 6 Tray Dimensions: L 38.5 cm x H 31cm x D 49 cm. Tray Dimensions: L 34.5cm x H 4.5cm x D 37cm
- Drying times are generally quite long e.g. 10 hours or more. I found I needed to leave the dehydrator on overnight and the fan does make a bit of a noise.
- As the drying times are long, I was concerned about the cost of running the dehydrator for all this time. I have been told that it costs about 5p per hour to run, so I would recommend always running the machine full and thinking carefully about the value of the end product before dehydrating e.g. a full dehydrator of Sweet Potato Chips running for 10 hours would cost 50p plus the cost of the sweet potato, you can control the flavourings yourself but I’m not sure that a cost of 80p-90p is worth it.
The jury is still out on the Optimum P200 Dehydrator. The results were good, however I am still weighing up whether I will use such a big piece of equipment often enough to make it worthwhile and whether the process is value for money. I’m going to keep at it and will update you as spring moves into summer. I think that drying summer fruits will be an interesting challenge, I love the idea of making dried rapsberries and strawberries to add to bakes. I’m also keen to try making my own vegetable bouillon powder using pulverised dried vegetables.
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Slice the sweet potato into thin uniform slices (these are best cut with a mandolin to get the thinnest and most even slices)
- Combine the oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and add the slices.
- Mix well so all the slices are coated.
- Lay out the slices on the dehydrator trays.
- Set the temperature to 60C and set the timer for 10 hours, or until crisp to the touch.
- You can open the drawers of the Optimum P200 Dehydrator to check on the crispness of the slices.
For my second review recipe in the Optimum P200 Dehydrator, I decided to try something a little different: Chocolate Chia Bars. These naturally sweet energy bars have a lovely crunch from the chia seeds and were very easy to make although they do take a long time to dehydrate.
- 1 cup chia seeds
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup cacao powder
- 8 dates, chopped
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 cup walnuts chopped
- 3 tbsp agave syrup
- Soak the chia seeds in 3/4 cup of water for 30 minutes
- Blend all the remaining ingredients in a high powered blender, adding the remaining water gradually to create a paste.
- Mix together the soaked chia seeds and the mixture from the blender then leave for 20 minutes to rest.
- Spread the mixture on a non-stick sheet to a depth of about 1/2cm and place into the dehydrator
- Dehydrate for 1 hours at 60C, then mark into bars.
- Lower the temperature to 45C and dehydrate for another 8 hours.
- When you remove them this time, flip them onto the dehydrator tray removing the silicon sheet. They will be firm enough to hold together at this stage.
- Dehydrate at 45C for a further 8 hours.
Disclosure: Froothie UK sent me the Optimum P200 Dehyrator to use and review at home. I have not been paid for this post and was not required to give the Optimum P200 Dehydrator a positive write up. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links included in this post.
So it’s May, but here in Scotland the weather is still cold and wet, we even had some snow at the end of last week! I’m hoping that we will soon be seeing more sun and a touch more warmth. For this month’s Slow Cooked Challenge I have decided to go with a theme of ‘RICE AND GRAINS’. As you can see I’ve made a Risotto in my slow cooker, but you can use any grains you like as long as you cook them relatively slowly.
- 25g butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- zest of half a lemon
- 300g arborio risotto rice
- 800 ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 115g frozen peas
- 15g parmesan cheese, grated
- Melt the butter in a pan and cook the onion and garlic gently until translucent and softened but not browned.
- Add the rice and stir to coat in the butter mixture.
- Add the stock and lemon zest and season to taste
- If you have a ceramic slow cooker, oil the dish before adding the rice mixture
- Add the rice and stock mixture to the slow cooker and cook on high for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed.
- Once cooked, add the peas and the parmesan cheese and mix well.
- Serve hot.
- I have a sear and stew slow cooker which can go on the hob, this is ideal for this recipe as there is no extra pan to wash!
- This risotto is a great base, I added some cooked flaked salmon but you could add extra vegetables, or cooked chicken, bacon or ham would also work really well.
The Slow Cooked Challenge is a monthly Linky dedicated to making recipes using a Slow Cooker/Crockpot or by slow cooking in the oven, aga or other slow method of cooking. Each month there will be a theme e.g. soup, dessert, vegetarian etc.
If you would like to take part, then please:
- Make your recipe in your Slow Cooker or other slow cooking method and post a photograph and the recipe, or a link to a recipe, on your blog
- Link to Farmersgirl Kitchen and Baking Queen 74
- Use the Slow Cooked Challenge logo in your post
- If you use twitter, tweet your post with @FarmersgirlCook @BakingQueen74 and use #SlowCookedChallenge and we will re-tweet it to our followers AND post your picture on the dedicated Pinterest Board.
- A round up of all the entries will be posted on the host’s blog.
- Please do not publish recipes from cookbooks on your blog without permission, they are copyright.
- If you are using recipes from another website, please link to the recipe on the website rather than publishing the recipe.
- One entry per blog.
- Recipes must be added to the linky by the 28th of each month and a round up will be posted on the host blog.
In collaboration with Cottages.com
Bakewell Pudding is the proper name for what is often called Bakewell Tart. The Bakewell Pudding was first made in the beautiful old market town of Bakewell in Derbyshire in 1860, when the cook at a local inn accidentally put the egg mixture over the jam instead of mixing it into the pastry.
The traditional Bakewell Pudding is still sold and sent all over the world by the Old Orginal Bakewell Pudding Shop, and it’s something you really have to try when you visit the Peak District. It’s a beautiful area with lots to see and do, we visited there a few years ago and really enjoyed it. There are opportunities for walking, cycling and horseriding and historic houses, like Chatsworth to visit. Our sons enjoyed the cable car ride to the Heights of Abraham and going underground to the Blue John Caverns. I loved visiting the Denby Pottery Village where, as well as seeing how he pottery is made there are cookery demonstrations and, of course, the factory shop! You can find out more about all of these attractions at Visit Peak District and Derbyshire.
Foodies will want to think about heading to Bakewell for the BAKEWELL FOOD FESTIVAL 30th April – 1st May 2016. The festival will include over 60 stalls around the streets of this beautiful historic, riverside market town, with the focus being on food and drink.
There’s so much to see and do in the Peak District it’s well worth staying over for a few days, self-catering is a great way to enjoy the area and relax in your own space. Choose whether you want to stay in a town, village or right out in the countryside, there is a self-catering option to suit everyone at cottages.com just look at this fabulous Bakewell Barn.
What I like about self-catering is the freedom to come and go as you please, eat when you like, shop locally and enjoy the local treats like Bakewell Pudding, you might even have a go at making your own Bakewell Pudding in the cottage kitchen.
- flour, for dusting
- 500g/1lb 2oz packet ready-made puff pastry
- 150g/5oz fresh raspberries
- 100g/3 1/2 oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 100g/ 3 1/2 oz caster sugar
- 5 free range eggs
- 150g/5oz ground almonds
- a few drops almond essence
- icing sugar, for dusting
- clotted cream, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Grease and flour a 23cm/9in loose-bottomed tart tin.
- Roll out the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface to form a circle a few inches larger than the tart tin.
- Line the tart tin with the pastry, gently pressing into the edges. Trim the excess pastry from the edge of the tart tin.
- Carefully spread the raspberry jam evenly over the pastry base. Lightly crush 3-4 of the raspberries in a small bowl and scatter the crushed berries on top of the jam.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, beating each well to incorporate. stir in equal amounts of the ground almonds after you add each egg, stirring well until combined. Continue until all the eggs and all the ground almonds are used up, then stir in the almond essence.
- Pour the filling mixture into the pastry case and, using a palette knife, gently spread it evenly over the raspberry layer.
- Bake the tart on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the surface is golden-brown.
- Dust with icing sugar and serve with the remaining raspberries and dollop of clotted cream.
I’m also linking up with Perfecting Patisserie which is run by Lucy at Baking Queen 74
Roast Chicken is a family favourite, it’s easy to make and, as well as providing dinner, there are always leftovers to use for a second meal. Slow Roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken is an even easier way of roasting your chicken, you can go off and do something else for a couple of hours and come back succulent chicken falling off the bone, but with a crispy skin.
The chicken is rubbed with a lemon pepper seasoning, but if you don’t have any, then freshly ground black pepper and a little lemon zest will give a similar flavour. What makes the Slow Roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken so succulent is the ‘bath’ of water, onions and carrots, which gently steams the chicken from below, while the heat from the oven toasts the skin till it’s crisp. I use an old enamelled lidded roaster which belonged to my mother-in-law, but if you don’t have one, then simply make a tent of aluminium foil over a roasting tin to capture the steam.
- 1 medium roasting chicken
- 2 carrots
- 2 medium onions
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used Scottish rape seed oil)
- 1 tsp lemon pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 800ml cold water
- Heat the oven to 180C
- Peel the onions and quarter, wash the carrots (no need to peel) and roughly chop, place in the base of your roasting tin.
- Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, rub with the oil and cover with the lemon pepper and salt.
- Pour the water round the chicken and put the lid on the roaster, or create a tent over your chicken with aluminium foil.
- Roast at 180C for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 140C and cook for a further 2 hours.
- If you don't have lemon pepper seasoning, use freshly ground black pepper and a 1/4 tsp of grated lemon zest.
I served the Slow Roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken with potatoes mashed with a generous knob of butter and a splash of milk, shredded spring cabbage and lots of gravy made with the juices from the roaster.
This Slow Roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken is my entry for the Slow Cooked Challenge, the blogging challenge I run with Lucy from Baking Queen 74. This is the first time I’ve entered a recipe that hasn’t been made in my Slow Cooker (shocked face!) but it is the Slow Cooked Challenge, so that’s allowed. Lucy is hosting this month and has chosen the theme of ‘Spring’. I think this dish is perfect for spring, stick it in the oven and get outside into the garden for a couple of hours and your warming dinner will be cooking away and ready for you coming in.
If you would like to know more about the Slow Cooked Challenge, then visit the Slow Cooked Challenge page featuring all the challenges and Slow Cooked recipes linked up since January 2014.
I’m always looking for new ideas for sandwiches, we eat a lot of hummus but it’s nice to have something different, so this Tofu Sandwich Spread, whizzed up in my ThermoCook blender is a great alternative, and it’s dairy-free and vegan friendly.
I am not an expert with tofu, but I do know that on it’s own it has a very mild flavour. This makes it ideal to carry other flavours, my plan was to create a spread that was full of flavour, not entirely smooth but with a little texture. The Optimum Froothie ThermoCook is a brilliant multi-function blender with a heating element which has pretty well replaced my food processor and blender. You don’t need the heating element for this recipe, but you do need a good blender.
- 349g firm tofu
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 spring onions, roughly chopped
- 1 red chilli, roughly chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
- juice of 1 small lemon (approx 3 tbsp lemon juice)
- Place all the ingredients in the ThermoCook
- Set to speed 5 for 30 seconds, the set to speed 10 for 20 seconds.
- Check the consistency and if required use the pulse setting until it is as you would like. .
- If using other blenders then pulse until desired consistency is reached.
I’m really excited by the prospect of adding different flavours to this spread, I’m sure that olives, sun dried tomatoes and many other vegetables could be added to ring the changes. The texture is quite soft so it would also make a great dip with crisps/chips and vegetable crudities.
What do you think would work well with this tofu spread?
Disclosure: Froothie UK sent me the Optimum ThermoCook to use and review at home. I have not been paid for this post and all opinions are my own. Affiliate links included in this post.
These Beetroot Burgers are simply the best veggie burger I’ve ever tasted. It’s hard to believe that they are mainly chickpeas with added raw beetroot. The Beetroot Burgers are served in a toasted brioche bun and accompanied by layers of salad, gherkins and a delicious smoky chipotle mayo.
The Beetroot Burgers are the creation of the talented Elly Curshen passionate foodie and proprietor of the Pear Cafe since 2006, which was where she got her nick name ‘Elly Pear’. It’s also where she found her weight creeping up, it’s tempting working around food all the time.
Elly found that the 5:2 philosophy of eating worked for her and has created this book to share her recipes for Fast Days and Feast Days. I also follow the 5:2 diet, five days of normal eating, two days when I eat only 500 calories (600 for men). I’m always looking for new ideas for fast days, however I also loved the feast day recipes like the Beetroot Burgers.
Elly starts with some great chapters on ingredients and techniques, I loved her approach to leftovers and she even gives us helpful hints on how to shop. The book is then organised into meal based chapters, here are some of the recipes that jumped out at me:
Breakfasts and Brunches: Sweetcorn, chipotle and buckweat fritters (feast); Italian-style baked egg (fast)
Weekday Lunches and Salads: Edaname, pea, miso and ginger salad (feast), Prawn, mango and jalapeno salad (fast), Crab salad with toasted rye crumbs (fast), Chickpea curry (fast).
100 calorie packed lunch boxes: Courgette, chilli and herb salad with feta, Smoked trout with cauliflower rice salad and Canellini bean salad in little gem cups.
Soups: Yellow gazpacho with avocado salsa (fast), Chillled Beetroot Soup with wild garlic or spinach (feast).
Weeknight Dinners: Twenty minute cheat’s tagine (feast) Root veg ad halloumi fitters with frying pan flatbread (feast), Beetroot Burgers (feast), Open lasagne (fast), Kedgeree-ish (fast), Salmon rice bowl (fast).
Nibbles: Little roasted spuds with roasted red pepper sauce (feast), Smoked mackerel and horseradish pate (fast), Radishes and nori salt (fast).
Sauces, Pickles and Dressings: Golden Amazing sauce (fast), Kachumber (fast), Impatient rainbow pickles (feast), Marinated feta (feast).
Puddings and Cakes: Lemon polenta and rose shortbread (feast), Rosemary and lemon posset with Italian meringue (feast), Cranachan-ish (fast), Starwberry, lime and basil granita (fast).
Fast Days and Feast Days finishes with some sample fast day menus and a brilliant calorie index so you can find recipes to the calorie count that you need!
Who is it for: anyone looking for healthy nutritious food all year round and, of course, anyone who is following or would like to follow the 5:2 way of eating. Elly is a Pescatarian so there are many vegetarian and vegan recipes as well as some containing fish and seafood.
Pros: A well organised book with great photographs and tempting recipes, it’s a great resource for healthy eating.
Cons: If you are a committed carnivore, you won’t find any meat based recipes.
The Verdict: I absolutely love it! Elly has hit just the right combination of fast and feast recipes with the bonus that even the ‘feast’ recipes are also healthy and nutritious and not too high in calories.
Fast Days and Feast Day by Elly Curshen | Published in Hardback by Harpers Collins Publishers on 7th April 2016 | RRP £20.
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- 4 x best-quality burger buns (I used brioche buns)
- 1 x 400g tin chick peas, drained and rinsed
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for frying
- 1 tsp toasted caraway or cumin seeds
- approximately 2 tbsp toasted breadcrumbs
- a small handful of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley or coriander (include the stalks)
- 150g raw beetroot
- 1 1/2 tbsp flour
- flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- smoky avocado and chipotle mayo
- little gem lettuce
- sliced tomato
- gherkins cut lengthways into 3mm slices
- red onion, very finely sliced
- China rose radish sprouts
- Impatient Rainbow pickles
- fried egg
- cheese (any you like)
- Blitz all the ingredients for the burger, apart from the beetroot, flour and seasoning, in a food processor with the main chopping blade.
- Switch to a grating blade and grate the beetroot on top. Tip into a large bowl.
- Shape the mixture into four even burgers. Combine the flour salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.
- Dust the burgers with the seasoned flour.
- Pour enough oil into the frying pan for shallow frying and place over a medium heat.
- Add the burgers and fry for 6-8 minutes, until browned.
- Flip over and brown on the other side. Check that the burgers are hot in the middle by inserting the tip of a sharp knife into the centre for a few seconds and then pulling it out: if the blade feels cold, cook the burgers for longer. If the outside browns too quickly, turn the heat right down.
- Serve with your choice of toppings.
- Recipes for Avocado and Chipotle Mayo and Impatient Rainbow Pickles are included in Fast Days and Feast Days.
If you love burgers and want to try a few other vegetarian options, here are some great ideas from the UK’s top bloggers: