Friday, 13 June 2014

Roasted Summer Vegetables and a Rosy View

There is a rose in our garden coming out in full bloom.  If you knew what bad gardeners we are you would be impressed.  A few weeks ago my husband cleared an over grown and mostly dead flower bed which had been doing a good deal of looking very ugly for the past year.  We took ourselves off to the garden centre and set about buying plants having no clue what we were doing except that we wanted a few hardy shrubs and a rose bush.  We returned home somewhat out of pocket but with a car boot full of promise.  My husband dutifully planted everything while I idled with a book in a chair offering up helpful and sometimes not so helpful directions.  He planted, we watched, we waited.  The centrepiece of our new flower bed is an English rose bush and I’m happy to report this morning there are two lovely heads in bloom.  The rosemary we bought is thriving, the fuscia is doing well.  As for the others, the less said about those the better.  You can’t win them all.  The tenuous link to this salad being that we can now sit outside and enjoy our lunch with a decent view.

I’ve been enjoying roasted vegetables in various incarnations so far this summer.  I buy whatever is in season but the main players have been fennel, courgettes, carrots, tomatoes and of course kale.  In this version I used up some potatoes and threw in an avocado but I’ve also mixed roasted veg with pasta, quinoa and even millet.  The flavour comes from the roasted veg as they caremelise in the oven, the lemon zest adds a bright note to the whole affair, toasted nuts or seeds add crunch and of course goats cheese for tang.

Serves 2
1 large potato peeled and cut in to chunks
2 carrots peeled and sliced to your liking
½ large fennel bulb or whole bulb if smaller, cut in to wedges.
8 or so small plum tomatoes cut in half or quarters if larger
1 bunch of kale or other greens
1 avocado peeled and sliced
Handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted
Goats cheese
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Zest of half a lemon
Teaspoon rosemary
Preheat oven Gas Mark 7, line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Parboil the potatoes, drain and set aside to steam.  Prepare the other vegetables.  Add the potatoes, carrots and fennel to the first baking sheet.  Sprinkle with rosemary and olive oil.  Place on the shelf of the oven.
Lay the tomatoes cut side up on the other baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and roast in the bottom shelf of the oven.  Keep an eye on the vegetables, turning occasionally.  Everything should be done after about 40 minutes.  The vegetables should be golden and the tomatoes should be beginning to caremelise.
Once the vegetables are ready add the kale to the baking tray to allow it to slightly wilt for about one minute.  Remove from the oven and grate over the lemon zest.  Serve up the roasted vegetables and kale in bowls, top with the tomatoes, avocado, goats cheese and pumpkin seeds.  Season to your liking.

Sunday, 18 May 2014


A few things...

I made Green Kitchen Stories Turmeric Breakfast Muffins.  They are very wholesome!

We took a day trip to Lewes to check out the antique shops and to stop by Harvey's Brewery.

We followed this up with a visit to Charleston Farmhouse, home of the Bloomsbury Set.  I'd definitely recommend the house tour for a little creative inspiration and the garden was stunning.

I loved these mosaic tiles

Pretty pond weeds

We've had a lot of flowers around the house lately.  Sweet Williams.

My friends bought me these gorgeous roses.

Back to food.  I've been making this veggie loaded pasta for lunch a lot lately.  I'm loving my greens and roasted tomatoes at the moment.  There's courgette, fennel, toasted pumpkin seeds, lemon zest and goats cheese in there too.

FYI just finished Blood Bones and Butter, it was a brilliant read.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Hard Drive and the Mashed Potato

Do I need to explain my absence here or shall I just get on with it?  Sweep it under the carpet, dust off the blog and carry on...well, I'll tell you this, it's very dull.  My lap top hard drive failed, it took two weeks to fix but then I badly hurt my neck while washing my hair and couldn't type for another two weeks.  That's it, told you, unbelievably dull. This cake however, is anything but.

Back in the murky mists of time or February, I received a lovely card from my friends mother and inside was the recipe for this cake torn out of the Guardian.  I love post like this!  The cake not only sounded delicious, passion fruit and lime has to be a winner, but it also included mashed potato in the ingredients list.  This had to be tried immediately.  I had heard about mashed potato in gluten free cakes before.  I've had my eye on a recipe for a lemon drizzle version on BBC GoodFood for a while.  Don't be put off.  You really cannot tell the cake includes mashed potato and it gives the crumb a lovely moist texture and also makes the cake quite springy.

Gluten Free Passion Fruit and Lime Drizzle Cake Recipe from The Guardian

150g soft butter
150g soft light brown sugar (I used demerara)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 passion fruit, pulp scooped out
Zest of 2 limes
300g cold mashed potato
200g ground almonds
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder

For the topping:
*The original recipe calls for 175g icing sugar, sifted, Juice of 1-2 limes and 1 passion fruit, pulp scooped.
I had to adapt things here as I had no icing sugar and I'd run out of passion fruit so for my topping I used 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar and the juice of two limes.  I combined these in a saucepan and heated until the sugar had dissolved.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180C, 350F.
Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs and combine.  Stir in the passion fruit pulp, lime zest and mashed potato until you have a smooth batter.  Fold in the ground almonds and baking powder.
Transfer the batter in to the cake tin and bake for 1 1/4 hours until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  If the top of the cake is getting a little too well done loosely cover with foil.  I found I needed to do this.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake is cool user a skewer to create holes in the top of the cake and pour the topping mixture over.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Cumin Spiced Carrots and Chickpeas

So I’ve finally dragged myself back in the kitchen after a very quiet month of soups and stews and nothing much to share around here.  The last couple of days the sun has been shining, there has been a lull in the torrential rain and spring flowers are starting to peak through.  I dare to dream this might be the end of winter but then I remembered last March when it snowed...

I’ve been making this dish a lot over the last few weeks.  Sometimes for lunch or as an after work dinner.  Often we have it with smoked mackerel but it’s also really good on its own.  The recipe is from the wonderful blog Narturally Ella.  Erin’s recipes are always an inspiration when I’m looking for a healthy lunch alternative.  This one really appealed to me as I love the combination of carrots and cumin.  I also love her carrot ginger rice.  Clearly I have a carrot thing going on.  

I followed the recipe exactly adding some chopped kale in for the last few minutes in the oven as kale seems to accompany most meals in this house.

Find the recipe here.

Maybe next time I’ll manage to write up a recipe.  Oh what a lazy blogger I have been of late.  I can promise a passion fruit cake with some interesting ingredients will be making an appearance around here soon.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Sticky Chocolate Orange and Prune Loaf

Things that are happening lately...
I’ve started a new job!  After 7 plus years in the same company it’s scary being the new girl again.  I’m two weeks in and surviving so far.
I no longer have a huge commute.  This is absolute bliss, quite literally.
I get an hour extra in bed.  Again, bliss.
I’ve hardly had a moment to get to grips with cooking/baking/blogging.  Things should balance out soon.  After all just think of all that time I’m saving not commuting.
I’m stuck in a lunch rut of either avocado or baked beans on toast, not together...ok sometimes together (this appals my husband).
I’ve made this apple cake but with pears 4 times since Christmas. It’s too good.
I’m desperate for warm sunny days.  Oh winter how I loathe you. 
This sticky chocolate orange and prune loaf cake over at London Bakes is a rich and decadent treat while still being on the lighter side.  I used brown rice flour to make it gluten free and skipped the liqueur as we never have anything so sophisticated to drink around here. 
Recipe here.

I hope you have a good weekend. x

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Everything in a Bowl

Well this has been a sorry state of affairs, no blog post for nearly a month and then all I have to show you is soup, and more butternut squash at that.  I’ve also caught myself in an awkward time zone.  It’s far too late to be mentioning Christmas, New Year or any of those resolution things so let’s just skip it all, talk about soup and pretend I didn’t fail to blog about any of that stuff. 

Soup has featured heavily around here lately.  Since the UK has been battered with storms and relentless rain we’ve gone in to hibernation mode, abandoning our usual routines in favour of reading books and eating anything out of a bowl, which usually means soup or stew but can also stretch to a jacket potato and baked beans.  The civility of the dining table has been abandoned for the comfort of the sofa and the odd film.  Meal times have really gone to pot around here. 

I made this soup for my Dad when he visited for a few days recently and he said it was “wizard” which I choose to take as a compliment.  It requires very little effort to pull together and lets the flavour of the roasted squash take centre stage. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup Serves 2-3
600g butternut squash peeled and chopped in to chunks *you can make them smaller than the ones in the photo for speedier cooking time.
Approx 600ml stock
1 -2 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkling of dried rosemary
1 garlic clove finely chopped
2 shallots finely sliced.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
Line a baking tray with parchment.  Place the chopped up butternut squash on the tray, toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with dried rosemary.  Roast for 40 minutes until the squash is nicely caramelised. 

About 5 minutes before the squash is ready place a splash of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the shallots for 5 minutes until soft.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute.  Remove the squash from the oven and tip in to the pan.  Next add the stock and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Leave the soup in the pan to cool for a few minutes then blend until smooth.  Return the soup to the pan and heat through.  Serve with crusty toast and toasted almonds if you like.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Man Flu Is Pretty Bad After All and Lemons in the form of Cake to the Rescue!

The last couple of weeks our house has been under the weather.  First my husband had it so I naturally dismissed it as a case of man flu...then I was felled too.  Runny noses, aches and shivers, coughs and a throat that felt like I swallowed a bag of razor blades.  I feel like all I’ve been eating is soup and the different flavours started to become indistinguishable.  Now I’m emerging the other side my taste buds and appetite are both making a small come back.  So even though I have many excellent soup recipes in my arsenal I don’t want to think about soup for a bit.  I’d much rather talk about this cake instead.

I mentioned this cake a while back and I’ve made it often this year.  For some reason I’ve never quite gotten round to posting the recipe which comes from the ever inspiring blog Sprouted Kitchen.  It’s moist, has a wonderful kick of lemon and lasts for several days if you can resist eating it all in one go.  Please don’t skip the lemon glaze.  It is a very easy extra step and really gives the cake a strong zap of lemon flavour and adds a nice crunch to the outside. 

I’m writing the recipe up here even though I didn’t change much so that you have the flours by weight should you choose to bake that way.  Enjoy.  It will brighten up the greyest of winter days!
2 large eggs
120ml olive oil
60ml plain natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
120g total demerara sugar
120g ground almonds
100g brown rice flour
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Lemon Glaze
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F
Line a 9” loaf tin with parchment paper and set aside.
In a bowl mix together the eggs, oil, yoghurt, lemon zest and juice. 
In a large bowl combine the flour, almonds, sugar, ground flaxseed, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and mix well.  Pour the mixture in to your prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 – 50 minutes.
While the cake is baking make the glaze.  Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan and cook over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.  When the cake is ready remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes before inverting the cake on to a cooling rack.  Prick holes in the top of the cake and pour over the lemon glaze.  Allow the cake to continue to cool completely as it absorbs the lemon glaze.