Category Archives: Snacks

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

Spiced coconut chips..

I’ve been play in my kitchen…nothing new there, I know…;)

This time it’s been with coconut chips. 

I don’t eat crisps or chips (whatever you call them in your part of the globe) but if you’d like an alternative option to those fried potato morsels, give this a go, if you get the flavouring right, I’d challenge you to miss your usual crisps, and you’ll have a healthier version.

It all started with a big bag of raw coconut chips, which I toasted in the oven:

I laid the chips out in a single layer on my oven tray then put it in the oven at 180C. To be honest, the oven could be set a bit lower and I think it would still have been fine. You really need to watch them, they toast very quickly so you need to stay on hand to take the tray out, move the chips around, then put the tray back in the oven and keep doing this until they’re all toasted how you want..

Whilst they’re warm, they remain soft. As they cool, they get nice and crispy, and they’re good just like that. 

However, whilst they’re warm is the perfect time to toss them with your chosen flavouring, then leave them to crisp up and take on the spices. 

I mixed some of the chips with my chai spice mix…

…some with my rose harissa spice mix…

…and (no individual photo) some with my barbecue spice mix from my previous post (which I’m very proud to say has been featured on this week’s Fiesta Friday picks).

They work REALLY well, if you like barbecue spiced crisps, this combination is a winner, the harissa ones are good too, and the chai spiced ones are a great addition to your breakfast. And if you don’t like coconut, don’t be put off, to be honest, you don’t really taste it! 

I hope you like my creations, happy Friday and happy weekend!

Pimp Your Veg part 3: crispy crunchy oven baked vegetables Β 

 Welcome to your weekend πŸ™‚  I hope you are enjoying my Pimp Your Veg series so far and have maybe tried roasting some veggies or spicing some up?  

This week I have been baking very thinly cut vegetables to create some crunchy snacks..

As you may recall this series was partly inspired by a friend of mine who is on a weight loss journey, and I know very well that given the choice of snacking on a piece of fruit or grabbing a bags of crisps, he’d want the crisps every time, so I’m hoping this might provide a healthier option…

I also know that when you make changes to your diet, one of the things you miss is a ‘crunch’ in your food; if you’ve been used to eating crisps/chips, biscuits, crackers, sweets etc when you start to replace them with fruit, salad and vegetables, you sometimes miss something to get your teeth into. So how about some sweet potato or butternut squash crisps? Or potato peel snacks? Or carrot crunchies?

Sweet potato 

Butternut squash 

Potato peels 

Carrot

The key to achieving all of these goodies is in creating thin slices; these then bake nicely into crispy pieces.  

I tend to leave the skin on the butternut squash and sweet potatoes, and the potatoe peel is literally the peelings from potatoes I was using for something else. 

For the carrots I used a vegetable peeler to create the thins strips. 

Method

Preheat your oven to 180C

Line your baking sheets with foil

Spray a thin layer of oil on the foil 

Place the slices of vegetables in a single layer and spray the tops with oil

Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through

Watch them carefully so that none of the pieces get overcooked, remove thinner pieces of that are getting too done

Thicker pieces won’t necessarily crisp up as much as the thinner ones, but they will still be tasty!  

  
The key to getting them to crunch up is in having the willpower to leave them for a few minutes once they have come out of the oven and they will crisp up For the carrots: massage some oil into the strips and bake for around 10 minutes, again, watching them carefully and agitate halfway through, then leave to crisps up before serving.

The crunchy curly pieces that this creates are great for adorning any dish and making it look ‘chefy’ or to entice children to eat carrots.

Options

You can really pimp these by sprinkling them with salt, and/or herbs and spices prior to baking..

These butternut squash slices are sprinkled with salt and chilli flakes. 

These potatoes peels were sprinkled with paprika prior to cooking, and these I actually grilled..

  Try this with parsnip, beetroot, basically any root vegetable. Just make sure to keep a check on the oven as they bake.

The ‘crisps’ will remain crunchy for long enough to enjoy them; if you have leftovers, they will soften up, but you can re-crisp them in the oven quite easily. 

I hope this provides some interesting ideas, maybe for some weekend snacks? And just for the fun of it, this is a photo of some of the roasted veg from our dinner last night..I’m bringing my vegetable crisps to this week’s Fiesta Friday, hope to see you there, have a great weekend x 

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 πŸ™‚  

Enjoy!

Happy Sunday x

Spiced spinach, buckwheat & cheese baked flatbreads/pancakes/pizza bases…

Welcome to Friday!!! Or…depending where you are, I hope you’ve had a good Friday and a good week? Let me share with you a recent creation from my kitchen..colour, goodness and flavour all in one go..

Basically, these concoctions could be used for so many things, hence the title…what they truly are, are tasty, healthy rounds of goodness that you could eat on their own or as a base for something else..

It all began with some leftover cooked buckwheat groats, a bag of spinach and some cheese…
Ingredients 

250g baby spinach

1 cup (when uncooked) buckwheat, cooked

80g mature cheddar 

Harissa spice mix – I just threw it in but probably around 2 heaped tablespoons would do – and if you don’t have this spice mix, throw in any spices that you like 

Method

Blend it all together in a food processor then place in a bowl to use immediately or refrigerate for later

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) 

Press several spoonfuls of the mixture onto silicone paper sprayed with olive oil until about 2mm thick

Bake for 15-25 mins until you start to see the edges dry out

  
  Above shows before cooking..

Below shows after cooking..
  They should happily slide off the paper or you should be able to turn out onto a plate in one piece 

I spread various dips and sauces over mine and ate them like pizzas..

But they would be good with just melted cheese, or a tomato sauce and cheese, or so many other things, or just eaten on their own..

  

  
I was so pleased with these and I had made enough of the ‘dough’ to enjoy them for a few days πŸ™‚ sometimes, leftovers make the best meals!! Plus, the flavours developed further over a few days so maybe these are best made ahead anyway? 

I am bringing these babies to this week’s Fiesta Friday, I missed last week’s, so look forward to seeing everyone this week πŸ™‚ 

What would you feed me…Shruti?

 
This week we are being treated to a lovely dish by the lovely Shruti from Cooking with SJ. Shruti is one of those lovely people we meet on our blogs, always supportive and joyful; she prepares and shares tasty, fabulous looking dishes, as well as making amazing eggless cakes; her decorating skills are stunning! Her cakes are works of art πŸ™‚ 

So, what would you feed me, Shruti?

I have made so many virtual friends ever since I started blogging 5 years back… And specially when I switched to wordpress πŸ™‚ Elaine is one of those lovely foodie-buddies. Well, despite me inviting co-bloggers over my space to do a guest-post, this is the 2nd one that I’m doing for someone else πŸ™‚

Let me introduce myself a bit… I’m Shruti aka SJ of Cooking with SJ πŸ™‚ I better describe myself as a home-chef, food-blogger and of course, a vegetarian baker!!! Now… I’m wanting to write so many things about Elaine but kinda stuck at my words. I have been following her space since last 2 years and must say, it’s as gorgeous as Elaine herself! Whenever I communicated with her through of comments or quick chats, I feel like I’m talking to someone who’s a master of flavors and healthy cooking!!! I have learnt a lot and yes, I’ll keep learning from you always πŸ™‚

The dish which I have brought here is ‘Savory Pancakes’ which has got a pancake look with a healthy Indo-Chinese touch! To be honest, this is my 1st experiment with gluten-free flour and I must admit, it was not as tough as I imagined πŸ™‚ Here is the recipe for you all to go through πŸ™‚

   

SAVORY PANCAKES

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup Quinoa Flour

2-3 tbsp Rice Flour

1/4 cup Shredded Purple Cabbage

1/4 cup Grated Zucchini

2 tbsp Green Onions, chopped

2 tsp Soy Sauce

1/2 tsp Chilly Paste

Salt, to taste

Black Pepper Powder, to taste

STEPS TO FOLLOW:

1. Take all the ingredients (except veggies) in a big bowl and make a medium thick batter by adding water as required.

2. Add all the vegetables into it.

3. Mix everything well until well combined.

4. Heat a non-stick pan and pour a ladlefull batter onto it and spread it to make a small disk.

5. Drizzle some oil on top and roast on both the sides until crisp and golden in color.

6. Sprinkle chat masala on top and serve with Soy-Lemon Vinaigrette!

  

SJ’s NOTE:

β€’ To make a regular version, you can substitute quinoa flour with plain flour.

β€’ You can add more seasonal veggies of your choice πŸ™‚

β€’ To make Soy-Lemon Vinaigrette:

Mix 2 tsp Soy Sauce, 1 tbsp Lemon Juice, 1/4 tsp Garlic Paste, 1 tsp Sugar, 2 tbsp Olive Oil, salt & pepper πŸ™‚

I love these, Shruti, thank you so very much, and great tips for mixing them up. Thank you for taking part and your lovely words πŸ™‚ xx

Wholemeal spelt & roasted cumin flatbreads and my daily loaf..

 It’s not news to you that I make fresh bread daily for my boys; for a year or so, that was the job of my breadmaker, producing perfect loaves each day. Since taking up the sourdough challenge and loving making my own loaves by hand, I’ve now started making all of my household’s bread myself each day and the breadmaker is now collecting dust. 

I use fresh yeast each day for my bread and I much prefer it to dried yeast, it’s so easy to work with. You can ask at any supermarket with an in house bakery for fresh yeast in the UK and they give it out for free, alternatively, I bought a big brick of it last week on eBay. I kept some out for immediate use and have portioned up the rest and put it in the freezer, as fresh yeast only lasts a week or so in the fridge. I defrost a portion daily, it defrosts very quickly; it may soften as it defrosts but it’s still in good working order.  
For daily use, I follow this pretty standard bread recipe which turns out a perfect loaf each time. I make this each afternoon ready for the next day; the rising time is only an hour. Should you wish to develop the flavour for longer, you could always reduce the amount of yeast and leave the dough to rise for longer. In this house, this typical, straightforward loaf is ideal for my boys and their less discerning palettes. You can play around with flours and additions. 
I use an organic strong white flour that hasn’t been bleached or played with in any way. I’ve also used the same recipe with brown flour and spelt flour (more about that later). 
This is my basic daily bread recipe:

Ingredients 

500g strong white flour

1 tsp salt

300ml warm water

15g fresh yeast

1 tbsp olive oil

Method

Put the salt in a large mixing bowl, then top with the flour. 

Melt the yeast in the warm water, pour it into the bowl with the flour, add the olive oil, and mix it all together by hand.

Turn it onto a lightly oiled surface and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until silky and smooth.

I then put the dough into a greased loaf pan and leave it to rise with a plastic bag over the top, not touching the dough.

Heat oven to 210C (fan) and bake for 15 mins; turn oven down to 180C fan and bake for a further 15 mins. 

Remove and turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool.

Done πŸ™‚  

I also often use plain or wholemeal spelt flour. Spelt flour acts quite differently; it doesn’t need to be kneaded for long, it’s happier not being handled so much; its roses quickly, half an hour will do; and it baked beautifully, with a gorgeous nutty smell. It will bake with a crunchy crust which looks and smells amazing! My boys are getting to appreciate these loaves too.  

 This week I also made my first ‘khobez’ or Arabic bread (khobez means bread in arabic). I loved this bread as a teenager living in Dubai; it comes in various sizes in Middle Eastern supermarkets, from huge thin platter-sized rounds, to smaller, thicker breads, which is what I made. We used to cut these open and fill them with onion and cheese and cook them on a barbecue on the beach at the weekend..yum!!! 

I used a recipe from ‘Palestine on a Plate‘, the writer of which, Joudie Kalla. is featured in this months Delicious. magazine. Joudie has created a downloadable app with recipes and other stuff which I purchased last week and am loving.  

Following on from making the khobez and from a comment from Linda about adding cumin to bread, I, of course, decided to play around with the breads and came up with these… 

Wholemeal spelt & roasted cumin flatbreads:

Ingredients 

200g flour (I used wholemeal spelt flour, you could use any flour of your choice)

120ml warm water

7g fresh yeast

25ml olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp nigella seeds

Method 

Put the salt in a large mixing bowl, then top with the flour. 

Melt the yeast in the warm water, pour it into the bowl with the flour, add the olive oil, roasted cumin and nigella seeds and mix it all together by hand.

Turn it onto a lightly oiled surface and knead the dough for about 5 minutes until silky and smooth.

Place in an oiled bowl and leave covered to rise to an hour. 

Once risen, knock the dough back and cut into 5-6 pieces. 

Form balls with the dough and roll out flat, not too thin or too thick. 

Heat a tawa or non stick pan over a medium heat and cook the breads in the pan for about 4-5 minutes each side, checking they don’t get burnt. 

Alternatively, you could try baking in a hot oven for a few minutes.

Eat immediately or store for a few days in an airtight container. These were almost better the next day once the flavour had developed further. I throughly enjoyed them with some of my green goodness sauce as a dip.  
I’m bringing my bread recipes to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by Loretta and Caroline – come and join the fun πŸ™‚