Category Archives: Dips

Going green…

Once again, I put another random mix of ingredients in the blender to see what it would create!

This was raw courgette, spinach, fresh flat leaf parsley, fresh coriander, wild garlic leaves and garlic cloves, olive oil, peas, preserved lemons, ground cumin, coriander and caraway seeds, paprika powder, salt and pepper.

It was good as a dip, and even better when mixed with some leftover cooked grains later in the week. And then I took them and added some to some sourdough dough and baked it into a filled roll. Leftovers are the best!

For the sourdough details visit my site, otherwise have fun blending up whatever greenery you find.

Happy weekend!

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Lots of lovely food! Dips and salads…

I’ve been washing and chopping and blending and tasting today and thought it was way beyond time that I share some of my recent concoctions…

This morning I was very excited to discover wild garlic leaves coming up in the secret place that I found it growing locally last year. I came home from walking Bob with some fresh leaves and added them to some of today’s creations.

I didn’t weigh and measure things but I can tell you what went into them..

Roasted butternut squash and sweet potato with chopped fresh leaf parsley and coriander, baby spinach leaves, garlic cloves, chopped spring onions, ground roasted cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice

Peas, chopped fresh leaf parsley and coriander, wild garlic leaves, garlic clove, ground cumin, coriander and caraway seeds, sumac, Aleppo chilli flakes, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Lovely eaten with some grains and tahini & buttermilk sauce 🙂

A huge bag of baby spinach leaves, a couple of garlic cloves, ground roasted cumin, seasoning, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. I sometimes add spring onions this mix, and various spices

Roasted butternut squash flesh, homemade harissa, tahini and lemon juice

Peas, wild garlic leaves, tahini and lemon juice

Homemade harissa, buttermilk and tahini

All to be eaten with some lovely sourdough of course!

Have a great week 🙂

Roasted butternut squash with green sauces…

The temperatures have dropped, there’s a chill in the mornings, the grass is slowly turning back to green, and I can comfortably have the oven on again…yes, autumn is arriving in the UK! Hallelujah!

I say the same thing every year about how much I love autumn, it’s my favourite season, and I celebrated its imminent arrival this year with my first tray of roasted butternut squash of the season..

Skin on, the lightest drizzle of olive oil, and a hot hot oven!

Is there truly anything much better in life!??

On this occasion I ate it piping hot with a mixture of accompaniments..

The totally green sauce is a mix of fresh spinach, mixed herbs, garlic, spring onions, olive oil, lemon juice, ground cumin, Aleppo chilli flakes, a pinch of cinnamon, salt & pepper.

The other green sauce is fresh coriander, leaves and stalks, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and mixed roasted seeds.

And all with a buttermilk and tahini sauce.

Yep! My kind of heaven!!!

Green sauces have figured a lot in my dishes recently, they’re a variation of salsa verde really, always with added spices, all very similar, but different! This one was with quinoa, baby plum tomatoes and homous. With a sprinkling of Aleppo chilli flakes and toasted sunflower seeds.

Happy Autumn northern hemisphere dwellers!

Aubergine boats…

As I mentioned in my previous post, I love aubergines cooked whole, whether over fire on a barbecue, under a grill, in an oven or over a gas burner. The flesh becomes meltingly soft, it is truly the best way to cook aubergines.

Sometimes I remove the skin to use the flesh in a salad or dip, but I don’t like the waste, so I usually eat the whole thing.

However you choose to cook your aubergines whole, do remember to prick the skin otherwise they will explode!

If I don’t chop the aubergines up for various uses, I like to use them whole and fill them with whatever I have to hand..

This one was filled with quinoa and a sauce made of fresh spinach, garlic, almond butter, buttermilk, lemon juice and courgette, and topped with cumin seeds, Aleppo chilli flakes and sesame seeds. On the side is a grilled red pepper dip.

This one is filled with more quinoa mixed with chopped herbs, garlic, spring onions, spices, olive oil, lemon juice, and drizzled with tahini.

Whatever you fill your whole aubergine with, ensure that it is packed full of flavour and not too dry, this will then seep into the soft flesh and create a whole edible wonder 🙂

Hot or cold, whole aubergines work as the perfect carrier for my foods…happy weekend…I think it’s long overdue that I visit Fiesta Friday and say hello to my fellow bloggers….do pop over and see what great food other bloggers are sharing…

Pimping leftovers with Petra’s goodies…

I LOVE leftovers; to me, leftovers, or foods eaten a day or two after cooking/preparing them, taste vastly better than they did on day one. Flavours develop to create something so good that I pretty much always plan for leftovers and extras…

Today I had a variety of cooked vegetables and fresh herbs to use up and I decided to pimp them with some new products in my cupboard: last year my lovely blog friend, Petra, from the blog Food Eat Love, starting selling her homemade food products at her local Saturday market. She started off with amazingly pretty fresh pastas and sauces, and then expanded into sauces and crackers and jams and chutneys. Recently, she sent me some goodies to try, and I have used most of them in my dishes today. Let me show you…

These are what Petra sent me to try…lucky me! The two bottles that you can’t see the labels on are a ‘very hot hot sauce’ and a sweet chilli ginger sauce.

I’m afraid the dry tomato and coconut chutney was devoured first a little while ago, it was so good I literally ate in from the jar in two sittings..

If you can try this stuff, you really should! Included in the ingredients are cobnuts which give the chutney a great texture. But the rest I played with today…

So to today’s pimping…this was my lunch platter…

It includes…

Leftover broccoli & cauliflower, blended with yoghurt, crunchy hazelnut butter & Petra’s sweet chilli ginger sauce which added great flavour to the vegetables.

My homemade garlic mayonnaise pimped with Petra’s very hot hot sauce – perfect pimping.

Leftover roasted carrots & red onions blended with tahini, yoghurt & lemon juice…so good, the lemon juice and roasted carrots always works well together.

Fresh flat leaf parsley & coriander chopped up with my pickled garlic, spring onions, ground cumin, Aleppo chilli flakes, salt, olive oil, my homemade apple cider vinegar & Petra’s caramelised Seville orange & chilli treacle – I often add pomegranate molasses to my salsa verde concoctions and this was a great alternative.

All eaten with Petra’s Carta Di Musica flatbreads which are wonderfully thin and crunchy.

How’s that for a tasty lunch? And a perfect use of leftovers! Even if I do say so myself…;)

So a big thank you to Petra for letting me try some of her great products. I shall be sharing my concoctions with everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday, which is after all, where Petra and I ‘met’. In the meantime, do check out Petra’s Instagram page if you’re an instagram user and enjoy her beautiful pups as well as those gorgeous pastas…one day I’ll get to try some of them!

How to eat as a vegetarian…

A friend of ours has recently decided to stop eating meat. That sounds simple, but if you’ve always eaten meat, it’s not as simple as it sounds. If you’ve never really thought too hard about what you eat, it could be a complete shock to the system. Our friend is definitely finding that to be the case.

Knowing that I am vegetarian, he has picked my brain a few times, and it has made me think that it could be an interesting post for anyone making the same change to their diet.

Removing meat means losing vital nutrients in your diet, all of which are easily replaceable as long as you know what you’re doing. The main one is obviously protein, but also vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, iron, calcium and omega 3 fatty acids. These can all be easily found in vegetarian food choices. Eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds are your friends, along with other ingredients that you wouldn’t necessarily think of like beans, legumes/pulses, some grains, lentils, oats which all contain protein. Other sources are listed below:

Vitamin B12: eggs and dairy are the best options

Vitamin D: is very difficult to find as a food source; I take cod liver oil tablets which give me omega 3 fatty acids, as well as much needed vitamin D

Iron: try legumes, nuts, seeds, prunes, raisins, kale, broccoli, spinach – eat with a source of vitamin C for maximum effect as it aids absorption of the iron (sweet potato is a great option for this, as it’s packed with vitamin C)

Zinc: whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, lentils

Omega 3 fatty acids: flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, also walnuts, soybeans, olive oil, hemp oil

*Many of these tips can also be applied to a vegan diet, removing the eggs and dairy

If you’ve always eaten meat, a typical meal would have no doubt been built around the meat portion: you start with the meat, and then add the extras, vegetables, potatoes, pasta, rice etc. When you don’t eat meat, or fish, or both, you have to think differently, unless you choose meat replacement products like quorn or tofu of course. I don’t eat those things so my meals are created differently. And you can’t just replace a portion of meat with a similar size portion of cheese: imagine a chicken breast sized piece of cheese?! Heart stopping stuff!!

Vegetarian proteins are not always lean proteins like some meat, you need to be aware of portion sizes. Nuts and seeds are great and provide so much goodness, but you can’t eat great piles of them any more than you can full fat cheese without it starting to affect your waistline.

If you are suddenly introducing your digestion to more vegetables, and legumes, than it’s used to, it may cause bloating and wind. In fact, I would suggest that you expect it, then it won’t be a surprise! All that extra fibre will take a bit of getting used to.

A lack of some of the key nutrients might make you feel achey, and it may be worth at some point requesting a blood test to see if you do have any deficiencies, or low levels, of any nutrients to help you understand what you need to boost.

People think that vegetarianism, or veganism, is a way to lose weight; the opposite can often be the case. It’s very easy to end up with very carbohydrate heavy meals. Think about how you filled your plate when you ate meat and keep the amounts of carbohydrate to a similar amount and fill up on salad and less heavy vegetables. I’m told that meat protein is very filling, so your meal now needs to include different filling foods without it being all carbs.

Becoming vegetarian just takes a bit of planning and understanding until it becomes second nature, which to me is all part of the fun of it, but to others may be new and daunting. Do lots of reading and research and read great blogs (like mine!) and other people’s experiences. Our bodies are all different, but the basics will be the same.

I make everything that I eat, but that’s my choice because I have the time, the inclination, and I love it! I love knowing exactly what is in the food that I eat, and I can manage exactly what my body needs. If that is not your inclination, or you don’t have the time, there are a lot of vegetarian choices available in supermarkets and restaurants nowadays. I have no interest in eating ‘meat replacement’ foods, they’re just not my thing, but if you do want to try them, I believe they are often fortified with helpful nutrients for vegetarians.

Becoming vegetarian really doesn’t have to be hard work.

If you are worried that you’re going to be hungry without meat, or fish, it really isn’t the case. You may feel a different kind of fullness, you may even notice that you don’t feel as ‘heavy’ or sluggish after meals because your body is no longer working hard to process the meat protein. But hungry, no, I never go hungry, ever!!!

That may all seem a lot to take in, so let me give you some ideas of what I do…

*I pack out my morning porridge with flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chopped nuts as well as the oats and lots of spices

*I ensure that I include a source of protein in every meal, whether I top dishes with cheese, low fat cream cheese, goats cheese, chopped nuts, seeds or a swirl of plain yoghurt – I eat a lot of natural yoghurt because I love it which helps – whether I include quinoa, a magic grain packed with protein, whether I add dollops of homous or other dips

*I use ground almonds/almond flour in place of breadcrumbs where I can (I also prefer the flavour), or as a thickener in sauces or curries

*Tahini is wonderful! Tahini is a sesame seed paste packed full of goodness. Use it to make homous (another winner in the nutrition stakes), use it in place of cream, swirl it through soup, eat it from the pot! (Sparingly though!!)

*Homous really is your friend, it provides so much in one perfect dip. And you can eat it in so many ways, not just with carrots stick or pieces of pita bread

*Nut butters are great, again you can add them to so many recipes; for example, make a batch of bean chilli and add a spoonful of peanut butter

*Eggs baked in tomato sauces are a godsend – the perfect fast food

*Or eggs cooked in vegetable hashes (top right)

*Another idea that I’ve read but haven’t tried yet, it using chopped walnuts as a mince replacement in things like bolognese sauce or ragu

*Portobello mushrooms are noted for a having meaty texture and often provide a satisfying feel in the mouth for those missing meat

*Bacon alternatives can be made with slices of sweet potato, or indeed aubergine

*Chorizo flavours can be created with spices, particularly smoked paprika and chilli powder

If you are deciding to remove meat, and maybe fish, from your diet, I would definitely recommend to phase it out, going ‘cold turkey’ could put your body into shock and create discomfort. Maybe start by removing red meats, then poultry and white meats, then fish etc.

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you great luck, and I am always available if I can assist with any ideas…

*If you know someone who might find this useful, please do pass it on. Thank you 🙂

I am sharing my tips with everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Lily and Alisa

Herbs and nuts ‘pesto’…

I had a green day this week; I basically had lots of lovely fresh herbs in my fridge and decided to use some of them in some pastes.

I made a coriander and walnut paste that I’ve made and shared before – I’d forgotten just how tasty it is! And I also threw together a kind of pesto idea at the same time..

This is made of lots of fresh parsley and not as much coriander, several handfuls of almonds and cashews, garlic, olive oil, a little lemon juice and some parmesan. You could easily use nutritional yeast instead of the parmesan to make it vegan if you wish. 

I was careful not to overblend this once I’d added the nuts to retain some crunch. 

It was so good, and, as ever, even better the next day once it had had time to develop the flavours. All you really need is a spoon to eat something like this, but I did force myself to add it to some meals instead. 

Including adding it to bulghur wheat with lots more fresh herbs, dried barberries and grilled aubergine slices one day..

…and similar again but with a pile of grilled courgettes instead the next day…

I did also eat some with some edamame bean spaghetti too, of which I don’t have a photo, and it worked well stirred through the warm ‘pasta’. 

I do love a concoction, especially a successful one!!! 

I hope you’ve had a good week, I’m taking my green concoction to this week’s Fiesta Friday, being looked after this week by the lovely Jhuls and Monika, and for now I’ll leave you with a shot or two of the semolina sourdough loaf I have just baked…