Category Archives: Nuts

Savoury granola..

Apparently savoury granola is all the rage…who knew? Not me!! Apparently it’s all about creating a sweet and savoury element, hence, the recipe I read using soy sauce and maple syrup together..

Having read this in a current food magazine, I decided on a whim to make some last weekend, I always have oats and seeds and nuts of some sort in my cupboards, so it was easy to throw stuff together; however, I don’t like maple syrup or honey, and I’d rather just go for full on savoury, so I skipped any sweet element at all for my taste. 
My mix therefore included oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflowers seeds, linseeds, black & white sesame seeds, cashew nuts, fennel seeds, chilli flakes, olive oil, soy sauce & egg whites. This was all mixed well together then baked at 160C fan for 15-20 minutes, shaking & stirring it up halfway through to stop it all sticking. (Pretty much how you’d make any granola, just without the sweet sticky stuff.)

The challenge was then to leave it to cool! I have to admit that I did pick at it whilst it was warm, but the actual magic happens when it cools down as it then becomes crunchy, and the nuts harden up. 
And I liked it. It was indeed nice and crunchy, and without that excessive sweetness that often comes with granola, that puts me off it. I’ve eaten it on its own, with yoghurt, and with finely chopped apple & Greek yoghurt, and it all works. It would probably be good with salad or roasted vegetables, it’s just a case of viewing granola in a different way. 
If I made it again I’d probably add some different nuts too, maybe try leaving out the chilli flakes, add more fennel seeds and add in other warm spices. I think it would be good with my chai spice mix, or other mixes of spice seeds like caraway, anise, cumin and/or coriander. 

The possibilities, as they say, are ENDLESS! 

I wonder what Mollie and Ginger will make of my offering at this week’s Fiesta Friday

Broccoli gets a foodbod makeover..

 Lina, my fellow food blogger, is great at issuing cooking challenges – I thoroughly enjoyed the North Indian Curries challenge – and this month I took up her Creative Ingredient challenge…to those of us who responded to the challenge, Lina issued a vegetable for us to cook with. 

Yes, I cook vegetables daily, but I thought this might encourage me to cook with a vegetable I don’t often pick..and I was right: Lina gave me broccoli (Lina also gave me cauliflower, but having previously made so many cauliflower dishes – there’s been cauliflower rice, cauliflower pizza base, cauliflower wraps, marinades, dips, so many cauliflower creations, all on my recipe index- I decided not to add more to the cauliflower arsenal! It doesn’t need any further assistance from me to get even more expensive!)  I rarely choose broccoli, and when I do, I tend to prefer the stems to the tops of the ‘trees’, I think the stems hold more flavour and a better texture. That’s just my view of course 🙂 

So I decided to push myself and play with the curly tree tops, which scream ‘crumb’ to me, and this is what I came up with…a crunchy zesty crumb of broccoli, nuts and spices.. 

To sprinkle over whatever you fancy, I sprinkled mine over this salad…it added crunch as well as flavour and colour…

So, time for the details…

The crumb

Ingredients

The florets from a medium sized bunch of broccoli

3-4 small garlic cloves

A handful of roasted unsalted hazelnuts

A handful of roasted unsalted cashews 

1/2 tbsp Aleppo (pul biber) red pepper flakes

1 tbsp sumac

1/2 tbsp olive oil 

Method

Place the broccoli in a glass bowl with a couple of tablespoons of water and cover with cling film; microwave on high for 6 minutes

Remove the broccoli and place in a colander to drain and cool

Once cooled, cut off the tops and keep the stems for the dip below

Place the curly tops of the broccoli in a food processor with all of the other ingredients 

Blend to a crumb, don’t let it go as far as a paste 

Then sprinkle over anything you can think of, like I did! Or stir it into some homous..of course! Tasty!!

 
    The salad


Ingredients
 

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and washed 

Olive oil

Lemon juice

Roasted ground cumin

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped

Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

Several tablespoons of cooked quinoa

Method

Starting with the chickpeas, I put the chickpeas in a pan with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and cumin, and brought the liquid to the boil and simmered for on a low heat

I then (after eating several lovely spoonfuls from direct the pan!) left them in the pan overnight to cool and marinate

The next day I mixed the chickpeas with the chopped herbs, tomatoes and quinoa to serve 
 The dip 

Whilst I was playing around, I also put this dip together using the broccoli stems..

Ingredients 

Steamed and roasted broccoli stems

Several roasted cloves of garlic

Tiny pinch cayenne pepper

Salt

Plain homous

Plain yoghurt 

Method

I steamed the broccoli stems along with the trees for the broccolata, then roasted them with some peeled garlic cloves and a spray of olive oil 

Once they’re nicely roasted, I left them to cool then blended them with some homous I’d already made, a tiny pinch of cayenne and some natural yoghurt  

  Of course, I did then take things a step further…I decided to bake it at a low temperature and see if I could add some more crunch to it.. 

I spread the mixture in a thin layer across a baking tray lined with foil and baked for 20-25 minutes at 150c, checking constantly that none of it burnt, then turned the oven off, propped open the door slightly, and left the tray in the oven to dry out further. It worked really well.. 

It became really crispy and crunchy and zesty…and although it looks like bits are burnt, they really aren’t, the broccoli just coloured more than the rest..

and again, tasty over my leftover salad today… 

So, how’s that for something different? Possibly not what you might think of when you look at broccoli?! We know my brain works in mysterious ways….I had great fun playing with it, I hope that Lina and you like the outcome.

I did also do more with the rest of the broccoli that I bought, but I’ll save that for next time, for now I’m heading over to Fiesta Friday with my broccoli crumb and hoping that this week’s co hosts Julie, and Ashley like it 🙂  

My lunch feast: a royal dal, with ‘churma’ crumb, peanut butter chutney, and red onion & tomato curry..

  

 A couple of weeks ago, Naina brought a wonderful selection of dishes to Fiesta Friday, it consisted of several Rajasthani dishes, including a mixed lentil dal and ‘churma’, a crumb for sprinkling over the dal, almost like an Indian dukkah…check it out, it all looked beautiful…

A ROYAL REPAST: DAL BAATI CHURMA: a heavenly dish with three delectable elements from the princely state of Rajasthan, India!

Of course, it piqued my interest greatly, so I made the dal and churma this week for lunch with my lovely friend, and added a peanut butter chutney, and my own version of a gravy, plus some roasted cauliflower.  

   I’d like to share a few notes on the dishes of Naina’s that I made, as well as sharing the recipes for my ‘gravy’ and the peanut butter chutney. 

 I followed Naina’s recipe completely for the dal..

  For the churma, I did make a couple of changes..the recipe calls for ghee, which I replaced with coconut oil. The recipe also calls for sugar added to the crumb which I replaced with some ground cinnamon and a sprinkle of salt to make a savoury version which is more to my taste.  

 
  The peanut butter chutney was inspired by Mallika Basu, a food writer that I follow on Instagram. She posted a quick peanut butter chutney which I based mine on, but it then grew..basically, I started adding more things! So this is how it began…

  ..but I translated teaspoons to tablespoons and made a bigger serving, plus I added garlic paste and some chilli powder. 
It was so good over the cauliflower, in fact, I’m discovering it’s good over anything. 

  And finally, my gravy. I probably didn’t really need another dish, but I wanted some kind of sauce, plus I made enough to eat it for several more days which I always like. I do like to open my fridge and see a range of things that I’ve made that I can select from during the week. 
  Ingredients 

2 tbsp Coconut oil

2 tsp Mustard seeds

2 tsp Cumin seeds

4 Cardamom pods

1 Cinnamon stick

1 Dried red chilli

4 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped 

1 tbsp Ginger paste

1 tbsp of my curry paste (garlic, ginger, green chillies, turmeric, cumin, coriander – more details soon) 

2 tsp Ground cumin & coriander 

1 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Chilli powder

680g Passata + 1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp Amchoor powder 

 Method

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon & dried chilli. 

When the seeds start to sizzle, add the chopped red onions and cook over a medium/low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger paste and curry paste and cook for 1-2 minutes. 

Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli powder and cook for a minute, then add the passata and water and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes. 

Finally add the amchoor powder, stir through and cook for a further few minutes. 

Eat on its own or add your choice of vegetables and/or chicken. Or, like I did, throw over some of the leftover churma and enjoy.. 

 I hope my Fiesta Friday family will enjoy my lunch feast, join in the fun with Mila and Hilda and share your dishes 🙂 

Have a great weekend!

How to feed a vegetarian dinner guest..

This time of year, I see a lot of articles and posts talking about what to feed a vegetarian guest should you find one sat at your Christmas dinner table; I always find it interesting to see what suggestions are proffered and I’m afraid, I very rarely agree. So often the solutions offered are pasta dishes smothered in some sort of cheese sauce, or something wrapped in pastry…basically, heavy dishes that, quite frankly, I wouldn’t eat.  Where are the beautifully cooked vegetables in all their glory?? 

  
So, I thought I would give my view point, being as I am, the ‘vegetarian guest’.. 

It’s funny because in my world, I’m one of many; I share my virtual world with many vegetarians & vegans, and in my real world my two best friends are also vegetarian – it wasn’t a prerequisite of our friendship or anything, it just happened that way; just shows that like minded people are drawn to each other doesn’t it? But if I find myself amongst family or a wider circle of friends, then I’m the alien (throw into the mix that I prefer low or no gluten, I don’t eat any sugar or sweet things, AND I don’t drink alcohol, and I really am an island…but that’s just me, that’s not all vegetarians) but I’m really not an alien, and I’m a lot easier to feed than you’d think..

So what would you think of feeding me if I came to your house? (Let’s pretend for a moment that I don’t have a blog full of ideas…!) Would you be completely stumped? Or drive yourself crazy with worry about the dish for this one person? Or just assume I must want to eat nut loaf?? (I don’t, by the way.)

Stop. It’s easier than you think. 

Do you mind if I offer some suggestions? 

My top tip would be: 

Don’t make your life difficult! Especially if you’re making food for lots of people, don’t let the addition of a different eater at your table cause you stress. 

And don’t make assumptions: I am labelled ‘vegetarian’ by most people in that I don’t eat any meat or fish, but I do eat cheese and eggs. Not all vegetarians are the same. Best to double check with them. 

So…make life easy…

First, tell me what you’re already planning to cook..for example..last year we visited my brother & sister in law over Christmas; my sister in law Tina is a great cook and she cooked a huge roast dinner for 7 of us; knowing how much she’d already have to do, I asked if she’d like me to bring a dish for myself? She very happily accepted the offer with great relief as she had been concerned about it, and I made a small sweet potato casserole which I took with me to heat up in her oven. 

When dinner was served there was about 10 different dishes of vegetables – I really didn’t need my dish too. I would have been quite happy with a plate piled high with lovely veg, and I’d have grabbed some of the nuts and seeds she had in the cupboard and sprinkled them over the top and been very happy. Whenever I cook a roast dinner at home, I just make sure there’s lots of vegetables with it and I eat them with some homous or any dips I’ve made, like the squash below, or with some grains I’ve got leftover from during the week. It’s that easy!  

 
Butternut squash, beetroot and quinoa 

The only notes I would make here are…consider your gravy, you may need to make a vegetarian version if your guest is a gravy lover (I’m not!); and if you roast your potatoes in goose fat, it’s only fair to to let your vegetarian guest know. Or maybe on this occasion, use a non animal fat to roast your potatoes in? 

The moral of this story is..consider what you’re already making and whether you’ve actually already got an answer in your menu. You may already have a perfect solution…can you make something ahead, like these marinated vegetables, or these, that will just need flinging in the oven in the day? 

Are you doing a dish with meat that you could produce a small amount of it without meat? Could you plan it that way? Make two versions of the same chilli or casserole/tagine for example? 

Or, make a vegetable based soup and offer a platter  antipasti, crudités, bread etc along with it and allow everyone to choose what they want. 

Salads are a godsend; especially warm salads (like the one below) in the cold temperatures; buffets are even better – let your guests choose; and side dishes are often the answer – I’ve often ordered just a selection of side dishes at a restaurant. 

  Tagine

A cordon bleu creation really isn’t necessary. For me, the aim would be to ensure that that guest is made welcome and not made to feel like they are the alien at the table. I can tell you that it isn’t a pleasant feeling.

So, why not just ask me what I’d like? As one of my vegetarian friends said: “I think you’re right, people rarely ‘ask’ what you like to eat, so you can end up with a Supermarket version of what a veggie [supposedly] likes to eat, which, can often be wrapped up in a huge parcel of stodge, ie, pastry. Why do they do that?!” Yes, why do they?? For me it just shows lack of imagination.

Although…if you do fancy offering a pie or flan of some sort that everyone might fancy a bit of, how about making it a healthy, tasty option like this beetroot galette with a lovely light gluten free crust..

 Or make life really easy, and let me bring a dish. I wouldn’t be offended at all. I’d rather not give a hostess added worry and I’d definitely prefer not to be presented with a dish that I’d rather not eat and then feel rude. And I’d really hate to cause any stress or extra work! So let me help. 

Of course, I am a blogger with a list of recipe ideas so I do have a list of suggestions on this here blog in case they be of use, including a Christmas feast I made for guests last year and all of my Pimp Your Veg ideas, plus lots of healthy, vegetarian snack and Christmas cake ideas, but I’m also available if I can be of help.  

 I hope this has been of some help to you and my friends at Fiesta Friday, com hosted this week by lovely Liz and Johanne. Enjoy! 

NOTE: many of these recipes and suggestions would satisfy vegan diets and/or ideas for guests with various food intolerances. 

Disclaimer: these are only my views, not all vegetarians are the same! All the more reason to ask 🙂 

Rose harissa spiced nuts, butter & dukkah..

 Having had fun spicing up some nuts last week, I then took things a step further.. 

I whizzed up some of the rose harissa spiced roasted cashews into a very tasty butter… 

Look at that lovely rich butter! So tasty! And with a Nutribullet it takes literally seconds to turn into a butter. 

With the remaining roasted nuts I put together a dukkah of my rose harissa spice mix, roasted cashews, almonds, sesame seeds and hemp seeds. I’ve sprinkled this liberally over all sorts of dishes and it adds wonderful flavour and good fats and much needed protein in my vegetarian world…

  

I do love a good play in my kitchen!!

Spiced nuts..

 Whilst I’m on the theme of spices, I thought I’d share my recent spiced nut adventures..

This week I made roasted nuts with my rose harissa spice mix, some with the Mexican spice mix from www.spicekitchenuk.com,  some with garam masala, and finally some cashews with chilli powder.. 

To make your own spiced nuts, start with raw nuts; 

Heat the oven to 190C and spread the nuts on a baking tray in a single layer;

Roast until they start to brown;

Keep checking them and move the nuts from the outside edges into the middle and around the tray so that none of them get overdone; 

Whilst they roast, pour 1 tablespoon of olive or rapeseed oil into a bowl and stir a tablespoon of your chosen spice mix into the oil – of course, this may vary depending how may nuts you’re roasting, you need to gauge it yourself; resist the temptation to use any more oil, the oil is only to help the spices stick to the nuts and too much will make the nuts greasy;

Once they start to brown, take the tray out;

Mix the nuts with the oil and spices then put them back on the baking tray and back in the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes or until you feel they are sufficiently done. 

Depending on your tastes, you may wish to add a sprinkle of salt. 

* Don’t put the spices in right from the start of roasting the nuts or you could burn the spices and they will become bitter. 

Mexican spiced 

Chilli cashews 

Garam masala spiced 

Rose harissa spiced 

    
  I thought I was making these rose harissa spiced nuts below for me when I first made them and suddenly my boys had eaten the lot! That’s success in my book 🙂  

Enjoy!

Happy Sunday x

Liquid gold: roasted pine nut butter..

 As my brain twists and turns through the day, I am forever pondering new food ideas; I look in my actual kitchen cupboards and I look in the virtual kitchen cupboards inside my head and ponder new concoctions, and ways to push recipes and ingredients and classical food ideas; I have great fun in this world inside my head and even greater fun when I then try things out for real; not everything works out as you expect, which usually that just leads to a different outcome, nothing is ever a failure. 

And some things work wonderfully first time. This was one of them.. 

Making your own nut butters is so simple, if you have the time, inclination and machinery. Since Mum presented me with a Nutribullet last year, making nut butters has become a breeze, it does such a good and fast job. You can make cashew butter in seconds! Some harder nuts take a bit more time and some patience, but in the end they ‘give’ and it’s always worth it. 

After playing around with hemp seeds so much recently, I turned my attention to pine nuts. I prefer everything roasted so I had already roasted my pine nuts before throwing them in the Nutribullet with its ‘milling’ blade tool and whizzed it up to see what happens..

Yes. Liquid Gold. And not just because pine nuts can be expensive 😉 

They make a lovely rich butter, truly heavenly. Just grab a spoon and dig in and I challenge you not to sigh with joy..bliss on a spoon…