Colour and flavour fills my lunches…

 I’ve been having a play this week; I’ve been throwing ideas round my head and using some different ingredients to see what I can create for my lunches, so today I am sharing a couple of them with you and the partygoers at this week’s blog party extraordinaire: Angie’s Fabulous Fiesta Friday – THE only blog party to join week after week – I hope the guests enjoy them :)    

I bought some gorgeous cherry and baby plum tomatoes at the market earlier in the week. After washing and draining them, I cut them all in half and laid them all cut side up on my biggest ovens trays, sprinkled with chopped garlic, seasoned and drizzled with olive oil, and roasted At 190C until they looked GOOD and tasted GREAT!!

  

These are so good just on their own, and the juice makes a lovely dressing. I ate a bowl of the tomatoes with some soft goats cheese which was just heavenly; I used most of them to make fresh harissa; and I used the rest for this lunch… 

The tomatoes sit atop mashed avocado and an experiential pattie/flatbread idea…this is made up of leftover roasted cauliflower, chopped in a blender, mixed with almond flour, coconut flour and natural yoghurt, cooked slowly on a tawa over a medium heat. It worked well and tasted great :) 

  

I followed the tip for saving half the avocado for the next day from Selma’s Tips and Tricks page (this is VERY useful as I could have very easily eaten the entire huge avocado in one go – like I usually do). 

I also discovered how to ripen hard avocados this week – I’d bought two that were rock hard so I put them each in a brown paper bag and they ripened themselves in a day! Note to self: do one at a time next time!  

  I finished up the avocado the next day with these beetroot ’rounds’. 

I used up some cooked beetroots by whizzing them up in my small bowl food processor and mixed them with almond flour, coconut oil, ground cumin, ground coriander, water, an egg. I put it all together and put it in the fridge to firm up into a dough but it remained pretty sloppy as I didn’t give it very long. I then took handfuls of the ‘dough’, formed them into balls and again, cooked them on a tawa over a medium/heat, flattening them in the pan.  

I piled the avocado on top of a pile of the rounds and tucked in.. 

..and made a kind of sandwich with the rest… 

And it was very good!!! And fun! I had fun playing around and trying out ideas – isn’t that all part of being in the kitchen?? 

I hope you like my inventions? And I hope this week’s co hosts, my lovely friend Mollie (do click on her name and check out her blog) and the talented Dini at Fiesta Friday enjoy them – have a great Friday and a fab weekend xx 

 

What would you feed me…Krystina?

 

This week I bring you the Greek Connection: Krystina from Kouzounas Kitchen..Krystina and I met via our blogs very early on and she has always been so friendly and so supportive. She is a great cook and amazing pastry chef, check out her Instagram feed for mouth watering creations! 

As you will see from Krystina’s story below, she is driven by her love of her Greek heritage and she shares lots of Greek and other recipes. She also posts about the fabulous pastries that she makes and sells, sadly over in the US, but it’s great to see how her business is building. I hope you enjoy Krystina’s simple, tasty recipe..for more, check out her blog..

So, Krsytina, what would you feed me….?

Growing up in a Greek family, I was always watching my family make amazing Greek dishes in the kitchen. My fascination with spanakopita started at an age of 8 years old, I loved phyllo dough, and watching my mom master spanakopita was so interesting to me. I would be her little sous chef, and help her prep the phyllo. I started cooking at a young age, and would try to duplicate many Greek recipes from my grandmother, and my parents. The story behind these zucchini fritters is one I will not forget….

I was in Athens back in 2009 and I remember eating at a taverna. The server recommended this mezes, and I said okay I will give it a try. Oh my, this was the best appetizer I have ever had. I enjoyed the zuchinni fritters with tzatziki and some nice retsina wine. When I came back to California I started making this appetizer; I like to combine tradtional and modern Greek recipes together.

I met Elaine while searching other food blogger’s recipes on WordPress a few years ago. I immediately connected with her on her blog, and loved her recipes. My dad’s family all passed from cancer and when I read Elaine’s ‘about me’ section on her blog, I knew right away we had a few things in common. (We both lost family and friends to cancer.) Ever since I lost my grandparents, uncles, and godfather to the horrible cancer, I became very interested in healthy Greek recipes. I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu as a pastry chef back in 2008 and I decided to branch out into the whole entire culinary field.

Nowadays I do catering, and three farmers markets in the Sacramento area. I specialize in Greek pastries & appetizers. I like to bring “fresh” Greek specialty items to Northern California. 

 I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. 

Thank you very much Elaine for featuring me. It is an honor to be able to share my recipe on your blog. :) 

  

 Zucchini Fritters (Κολοκυθάκια τηγανητά) Recipe

Ingredients:

• 3 zucchini, well-rinsed

• ¼ cup sliced white onion

• Pinch of fine sea salt

• 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

• Pinch of cumin

• Pinch of freshly chopped dill

• Lemon (reserve juice)

• 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Directions:

1. Rinse your zucchini well and pat dry. Use a sharp knife to cut zucchini in very thin slices.

2. Pre heat your olive oil in a deep pan; make sure the pan is big enough to fit all the zucchini slices.

3. Add the zucchini and onion to the pan over medium heat and sauté for approximately 5 minutes on each side.

4. Once zucchini has a nice golden color to it, remove from heat.

5. To serve: Add the cumin, sea salt, pepper, and lemon juice to toss over zucchini. Plate with fresh dill.

6. These fritters are perfect with tzatziki dip.

Enjoy~

 
 

What a lovely plate of gorgoeus courgettes, another perfect dish for me, thank you so much Krystina – and thank you for sharing the story of this dish too xxx 

 

Handmade bread, focaccia and fresh yeast..

  I’ve been making bread daily for my boys in our breadmaker for the past couple of years, but you’ve all seen me making sourdough bread recently, and thoroughly enjoying myself, so now Ben demands sourdough EVERYDAY and the breadmaker has been collecting dust…but my husband doesn’t like sourdough fresh, he only likes it toasted, so I’ve decided it’s only fair to make sourdough alternate days and standard loaves inbetween, and with all the sourdough bread I’ve been making by hand, I wanted to now make non sourdough loaves by hand too. You know me, always liking a challenge, I decided it’s time to try out using fresh yeast too. 

This month, Delicious magazine included a recipe for a lovely looking handmade loaf…

   …which I decided to try out. At this point I only had dried yeast…

…but it still worked perfectly…I even replicated the photo in the magazine as I egg washed the dough…    …and the slashes…

  The loaf came out perfectly and as the recipe includes milk and egg, it makes a lovely rich loaf, almost like brioche minus the sweetness. 

  
Then it was time to try out fresh yeast. 

You can get fresh yeast from your local supermarket if they have an internal bakery – at Tesco they don’t charge you, they just give you a ‘cake’ of yeast :) I split it into 15g portions and froze what I didn’t use as it only keeps for a couple of days in the fridge. I can then defrost the portions as I need them.

Note: the rule of thumb that I’ve read is that whatever weight of dried yeast a recipe asks for, you double it for fresh yeast. So replace 7g dried yeast with 14 – 15g fresh yeast. 

This was cake of yeast I was given, it almost looked like a cake of soap! 

  I made the magazine loaf again and it doubled in size with the inclusion of the fresh yeast, it was great to watch it grow! However, I do not have any photos for you, it got eaten too quickly!!! I decided to try the fresh yeast again and finally make some focaccia, I’ve seen so many of you make wonderful looking loaves of focaccia and after reading Sally’s post the other day, I decided yesterday was the day. I know that Ben likes rosemary and sea salt so decided to use those flavours in my first attempt. 

Once again, the dough grew really well and really quickly – I’m loving the fresh yeast!!! What great stuff! 

My Focaccia

Ingredients 

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for kneading 

300ml warm water

1 tsp fine salt 

15g fresh yeast or 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast 

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing 

1 tbsp dried rosemary & chunky sea salt 

  

Method 

1. Crumble the yeast into a small bowl and mix with 50ml of the warm water. Stir to melt the yeast and create a milky solution.

2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in the yeast solution and gradually mix in the remaining warm water plus the oil until the dough comes together – add a dash more water if it seems dry. 

3. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes, until smooth. (The dough was quite sloppy and moist so I needed to keep adding some more flour to the table but it didn’t affect the texture of the bread.) 

4. Put into a large oiled bowl, cover with cling film and prove for 1 & 1/2 hours at room temperature. 

5. Knock out the air, shape into a large circle/oval depending on the shape and size of your tray, and put on an oiled/silicone paper lined baking sheet. Cover with oiled cling film and prove for 45 minutes. 

6. Press fingertips into the dough all over, stretching the dough out slightly as you do, drizzle with oil, scatter with sea salt and rosemary, then bake for 25 minutes. 

7. Drizzle with oil and serve warm.

Note: when ‘oiled cling film’ is required, I use spray olive oil or Lurpaks Cooks Range Cooking Mist – I use this a lot, it’s a light butter spray. I use it to ‘oil’ the bowl too. Selma reviewed the new Lurpaks Cooks Range recently and I’ve used it ever since, it works well for frying eggs too. 

 

   

  

 The verdict was thumbs up all round! Ben and Graham tucked into it last night and loved it. I rarely eat the bread I make, but today I decided to try some of my creation and made a focaccia sandwich with goats cheese and some baby plum toasties that I had roasted yesterday with garlic and olive oil…absolutely heavenly!! Definitely worth the bloated belly I am now sporting!  Bring on the bread making :) 

I’m sure I’ll be experimenting with even more bread recipes this week, I just love making my own bread and watching it develop, the sense of achievement is massive, and I have such appreciative taste testers, it’s a joy to make it, so if you’ve got any recipes you think I’d like, do send me your links, or share them in the comments section for everyone to see. 

I hope you are all having a good weekend :) x

PS There has of course continued to be endless sourdough making too, this was today’s loaf…. 

      

Roasted radishes, ras el hanout mushrooms, za’atar aubergines & tahini drizzle..

  

This evening I am sharing my super tasty lunch from earlier today! Not exactly a recipe, but hopefully an inspiration :)

 
I’ve never been a radishes fan but since Naina used them in her dish for me, and I’ve seen other people roasting them, I thought it was time to give them another go…and when I went to the market yesterday, there was a huge tray of fresh bountiful radishes…

  

…so I gave them a go. 


I just chopped the biggest ones in half and left the others whole and threw them all in a pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted them. They cooked quite quickly, and as they did, they became lighter pink.. 

  

 

At the same time I quartered some mushrooms, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled with ras el hanout spice mix and roasted them in another pan, then chopped some aubergines into wedges and drizzled them (again) with olive oil and then threw a load of za’atar over them and roasted them in yet another pan! I left all the pans in the oven to do their magic until they were all wonderfully roasted, then piled them into a bowl and drizzled with lovely tahini… 


What a lovely collection of flavours :) the radishes were an interesting addition, they become very soft and their flavour really mellows. I’m glad I tried them, finally.  

 

I’m bringing my lunch to this week’s blog party supremo, Fiesta Friday,  co hosted this week by the lovely Juju and Amanda, do pop over and check out all the fab recipes. Enjoy!

Just to tickle your tastebuds, here was my lunch from yesterday, my favourite roasted marinated cauliflower dish.. 

 
Have a great weekend xxx

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Loco for coco…nut flour? or… How to Bake with Coconut Flour and try some tasty recipes

Elaine @ foodbod:

Great post about using coconut flour…

Originally posted on The Veggy Side Of Me:

789b5723cdf05e04I must confess, I’ve always had a sort of rejection towards coconut when younger! I didn’t like its smell/flavour, too strong for my taste buds, I suppose. But growing older and becoming vegan made me reconsider it! I started using coconut milk (baking, Thai recipes, curries etc…), then coconut butter (pancakes, to make instant creamy tomato sauces, vegan mayo…). My second try was tasting coconut water and I fell in love with it (have you ever tried a glass of fresh coconut water after a long jog? So refreshing! A real quick energy fix!!) ….and finally I tried to bake using coconut flour and the results were pretty amazing, and so tasty!
I started to use it recently, not because I’m on a gluten free (..paleo) diet, nor due to inflammation issues but just because I like experimenting and trying new ingredients when I cook.

Coconut flour isn’t a conventional flour…

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What would you feed me…Jhuls?

  

This week I bring you an guest post from a lady that I know lots of you know and love in our blog world: the wonderful Jhuls from The Not So Creative Cook. Fabulous, funny, quirky Jhuls, who is SO creative that I think she needs to rename her blog! 

For me to invite Jhuls to take part in this series was a real challenge for her as she and I are dietary opposites, but she jumped at the chance and really got to grips with it. She took the time to question me about what I like and worked hard to produce a post that she felt proud to send me. I’m so glad that Jhuls has joined this series and even more, that she enjoyed it! 

So, Jhuls, what would you feed me? 

Hello, everyone!

No, you are not dreaming. I am really at Elaine’s blog. This girl who is so fond of eating sugary stuffs and no health restrictions at all is really here. :D

Doing this for Elaine is fun and challenge at the same time. Let’s just say me and Elaine are somewhat like on the opposite sides. Elaine is completely famous with her Middle Eastern dips/sauces and mouthwatering vegetarian foods.

It’s funny how many questions I asked Elaine before making something for her. She requires healthy, gluten-free, sugar-free and vegetarian. Eggs and dairy are okay. I even bothered Selma to ask a question. :D And this is a secret, I stalk Elaine’s blog for days just to see if she eats this or this or that. I don’t want to disappoint her, you know.

Being a person with no health restrictions at all, I haven’t tried searching for vegetarian dishes until Elaine asked me to feed her. I was really amazed by how many recipes I found and my brain just malfunctioned. I did not know what to make – I can’t stick to only one recipe. I told myself I need to make up my mind before I lose it. :D

I love tomatoes, I love eggs, I love beans. I guess that would explain why I chose to make Spicy Baked Beans and Eggs for Elaine. The thing I should make an experiment to sub the sugar as a sweetener, but I ended up putting all the caramelized onion to the dish. It came out tastes like tomato-ish, but I just loved it.

I hope you like it, Elaine. I hope your readers will like it, too. :)

  
Spicy Baked Beans and Eggs

Ingredients:

• 1 can 400 net weight grams of white beans

• 1 500 grams of chopped tomatoes (I used Pomi)

• 2 cloves garlic, chopped

• White onion, sliced (for caramelizing)

• Onion, chopped (for sautéing)

• 1 tsp. dried chili flakes

• 1 tsp. paprika

• Salt & pepper, to taste

• Olive oil

• 2-3 eggs

• Honey, as sweetener (if desired) 

 Instructions:

(Skip steps 1-3 if you don’t want caramelized onion topped as a sweetener. Alternatively, honey or date syrup can be used as a sweetener. The measurements depends on your taste.)

1. If preferred to caramelized onion rather than sautéing, get a stainless steel skillet.

2. Heat to low-medium. Add olive oil. Add the sliced onions and keep on mixing with a wooden spoon until caramelized (brown). Be careful of burning them. This will take up to 30 minutes.

3. When the onions are caramelized, add 1 tbsp of water and stir again to get the browns from the sides of the skillet. Set aside.

4. In a pan, heat olive oil. Add garlic, onion and chili flakes. Cook until fragrant.

5. Add the drained white beans and tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. (if using honey as a sweetener, it can be added at this step.)

6. Add paprika, salt and pepper. Do a taste test.

7. Crack 2-3 eggs on top of the beans (depends on how many you like).

8. Cover to cook for about 2 minutes. (Alternatively, eggs can be cooker under an oven broiler or bake. However, this is the easiest and quickest way to cook the eggs.)

9. (If you follow steps 1-3, top with caramelized onion just before serving.) 

 

After this guest post, I am inspired to try more vegetarian recipes. Yay! I feel so excited! Thanks, Elaine. I hope to do another guest post for you. ;) This is really an honor. Love yah!

Jhuls, thank you so much for your fabulous post, I LOVE caramelised onions and the dish looks so tasty! And I love all of the effort that you made, thank you xxx

Wild garlic flowers, tahini and yoghurt dressing & za’atar roasted butternut squash..

  

Can I be honest? I love this photo (above), I think it has to be one of my all time favourites, assisted by the fact that it’s a dish full of flavour! 

Having played with wild garlic leaves recently, I wanted to use the flowers as well; the flowers have a lovely flavour, a bit stronger than the leaves, but still not as strong as a bit of standard raw garlic. I chopped up some butternut squash, skin and all, sprayed it with oil and sprinkled with za’atar, and put it into the oven at 200C to roast.

I then made a dressing using the wild garlic flowers with tahini…(don’t the flowers look lovely swimming in tahini? I’d love to swim in tahini….!)…

   

…plus some greek yogurt, lemon juice and water, as needed…

  
 

Mine was quite thick, probably more akin to a dip, you could add more water to thin it out. Once my butternut squash was roasted and lovely…

   

  

…I drizzled and plopped it all over the dish..

 

Yum yum yum!!!!!!! This is literally a bowl of heavenly flavour as far as I’m concerned; it’s what I typically eat for lunch on any given day; I do love my own food ;) 

Happy Sunday from a beautiful sun shining UK – there really is little more beautiful than English countryside in the  sunshine. This is the view from my kitchen window right NOW…