Category Archives: Sugar Free

It’s in the pan…

I like nothing better than a big pan full of lovely vegetables, the more the better! I often start with a base of red onions, garlic and red peppers, cooked in coconut oil and then I add whatever takes my fancy….and then I grab a spoon and eat it straight from the pan.

Which is exactly what I did this evening…this began with my usual trio, chopped red onions, red peppers and garlic, all cooked in coconut oil, to which I added several spoonfuls of my harissa, lots of chopped parsley and spring onions, toasted mixed seeds…

 …and adorned with several dollops of harissa tahini sauce…

See what I mean? I do love a big pan full of vegetables. 

As you might have seen before, I often add eggs to the pan, and avocado and chopped chillies…

This was one my lunches last week. 

And this one was pimped with one of my many sauce concoctions and goats cheese..

These are the type of dishes I happily devour ona regular basis as I always have an excess of red onions, red peppers and garlic in my kitchen 🙂 

There’s been lots of new things being cooked up in my ‘office’ this week too, which will no doubt feature on the blog soon. (I am currently reading about The Victorian House and have discovered that the working rooms of the house, like the kitchen, pantry, and bathrooms, were called offices. So my kitchen is now officially my office!) 

Happy weekend! Now let’s pop over to Fiesta Friday with the lovely Jhuls (lover and maker of harissa tahini sauce), and Su, who are co hosting this week…

Shatta inspired meals…

It all began when I saw someone talking about ‘shatta’ sauce on Instagram; I, of course, immediately looked it up, and discovered that it’s a middle eastern chilli sauce. I had never heard of it before; I read various recipes and versions of it, then had a play at making a version. 

And boy it was hot! In fact I made two versions, one with red jalapeños (from a jar), and one with milder long red fresh chillies; the one with the jalapeños was the killer! So I added a few other ingredients to flesh it out and take down the rawness of the flavour. In fact I played with both versions and this is what I got…

This one is red jalapeño chillies, fresh parsley & coriander, roasted pumpkin seeds, garlic, dried tomato flakes, cumin, salt, pepper, tomato puree, olive oil & lemon juice.

And this is chopped parsley & coriander, garlic, long red chillies, cumin, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar and olive oil, which I added to mashed white beans.

As the week has gone on, the flavours have developed nicely, and I’ve used both concoctions in various ways…

This was a salad of chopped parsley & coriander, bulgur wheat cooked in goats whey, chopped spring onions & chillies, and mixed roasted seeds, with the red jalapeño sauce stirred through it. And serviced with some of the sauce mixed with my red pepper ajvar sauce.

Let’s talk SERIOUS leftovers! This is bulghur wheat, cooked in the whey from making goats curd, and mixed with leftovers of 3 sauces: the red jalapeño sauce; a sauce made by mixing the red jalapeño sauce mixed with some of my red pepper ajvar sauce; and a roasted tomato and chilli ajvar sauce; all stirred together and left to develop lots of flavour. So good heated the next day.

And this was roasted butternut squash wedges filled with a mixture of leftovers of the mashed bean salad mixed together with leftover zaalouk.

So you can see how one idea can lead to so many outcomes, especially in my hands! I know I’ve said it before but I do love chucking stuff together 😉 

Happy Fiesta Friday everyone, and happy weekend x

Ajvar sauce and friends…

It’s not news that I like making and eating sauces and dips and pastes, there is currently 10 jars of different ones in my fridge right now, and this week I’ve made a few new concoctions to my collection. As one lead to the development of another, then another, and so on, I thought I’d share them all at once. I’m also co hosting the weekly Fiesta Friday blog party this week with my lovely friend, and her great blog, Jhuls, so please do join us and see what everyone is bringing to the table this week..

So my saucy week all began with ‘ajvar’. Ajvar is historically a Serbian ‘salad’ made with roasted red peppers and aubergines, garlic and sometimes chilli; I realised I’ve virtually made this previously without realising that I was making somehing that exists with a name, I was just chucking things together one day…like you do! Then I saw this on Instagram and looked it up and decided to make my version of it.

The inclusion of the aubergine flesh to the sauce adds more texture than flavour – I have found this in some of my experiments, roasted aubergine flesh often adds a ‘whipped’ lightness to a sauce or dip, and of course adds a healthy fresh addition too 🙂 the sauce therefore tastes more of the lovely sweetness of the red peppers, and the finished texture is quite thick so can be used in a variety of ways: on toast topped with goats cheese screams out to me! 

Also, all of the recipes I read called for roasting and peeling the red peppers, which I did here, but next time I make it I will leave the skins on; I have found that the skins often add an almost emulsifying effect to sauces that I like. 

Ingredients 

4 red peppers (i used 2 long red and 2 red bell peppers because that’s what I had!)

2 small/medium aubergines

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Olive oil (some recipes have said 1/3 cup, I just poured a decent amount in, but probably not as much as that)

Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar 

Salt to taste

Chilli flakes (optional)

Method 

Heat oven to 200C

Place the peppers and aubergines (prick the skins first) on a baking tray and roast until the skins of the peppers are charred and the aubergines are completely soft to the touch

Place the peppers in a plastic bag to cool and sweat, this makes it easier to remove the skin

Once the aubergine and peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and stalks of all of them, and the seeds of the peppers

Add them to a blender with the garlic, a good amount of olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and a pinch of salt, and blend until smooth

Transfer to a saucepan and simmer over a very low heat for 20-30 minutes until thickened

Add salt to your taste. 

Add chilli flakes/powder as it cooks if you choose 

Either use it warm as a sauce, or transfer to a jar and allow to cool

NOTE: Mine definitely benefitted from developing its flavour more overnight and being used the next day

Of course, making ajvar started a range of ideas bubbling in my mind, and as I had a lot of carrots that needed using, I peeled and roasted them all, ate some with my dinner, and used the rest in some sauce ideas. Like this one, above, which basically followed the ajvar idea and quantities, just with carrots instead of peppers.

It is made of roasted carrots, roasted aubergine, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, Aleppo chilli flakes & a pinch of salt, again left overnight to develop the flavour, and it worked very well! The aubergine flesh really lightens up the density of the root vegetables, and a squeeze of lemon juice is always good with carrots. I keep dipping a spoon into it quite happily 🙂 

As I had so many roasted carrots, I also created this sauce by blending roasted carrot, roasted red onion, roasted garlic, olive oil and some of my own harissa. 

And this one, which is made up of roasted carrots, roasted red onions, passata, olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, and a spice mix of ground roasted cumin seeds, roasted caraway seeds and roasted coriander seeds. 

I blended this with some added water but still kept it quite thick and ate some heated and topped with goats cheese, alongside some sweet potato wedges. I aim to use it as a sauce or spread, I’m sure it would make a tasty soup with added liquid. 

And so ends my collection of sauces from this week, I hope you have found one or some of them interesting. It’s just a case of chucking things together and seei what emerges really! 

Happy Friday and happy weekend 🙂 

Right, I’m heading over to Fiesta Friday to start reading as soon as it kicks off…

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

Savoury buttermilk scones or ‘biscuits’…

I’ve seen many of my US blog pals post ‘biscuits’ and I’ve been curious to try them for a while. Jess, Suzanne and Gretchen, to name a few, have all posted recipes for biscuits. My understanding is that these are eaten with a main meal, which makes them even more interesting, and something completely new to me.

In the U.K. we’d call these scones, a savoury, non sweet version of scones, made with buttermilk and NO sugar…consequently, when I finally made these, my savoury loving boy LOVED them, but my sweet toothed husband couldn’t even contemplate trying one! To him, a scone is sweet and eaten with jam, not something dunked in soup or a stew, or used to house a burger!

They are incredibly easy to make, and as you’ll see, very easy to add various cheeses or other ingredients to. I’ve now made them three times in the last few weeks, and the boy has eaten them with relish. I’ve made them plain, with a mixture of cheddar cheese and Red Leicester cheese, with strong cheddar, and with smoked cheddar: all got a thumbs up 🙂 

Ingredients

350g self raising flour

85g butter, cut into chunks

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Tiny pinch of salt

284g pot of buttermilk 

Method

Preheat the oven to 200C fan. Line a baking sheet with parchment or greaseproof paper. 

Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and butter in a bowl.

Using your fingertips, or using a food processor (as I do), rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Pour in all of the buttermilk and mix lightly to form a soft dough – this takes very little time. If using a food processor, mix until it has just about come together, then turn out and finish bringing it together to form a soft dough with your hands. 

If you are adding cheese, add a couple of handfuls of grafted cheese now as you bring the dough together. 

Knead the dough very briefly, then on a lightly floured surface, roll it out to about 2cm thick.

Cut out as many rounds as you can using a 5cm cutter. Keep bringing the leftover dough together and flattening to use it all up but handle it as little as possible. 

Place the rounds on the baking sheet with a little space in between each one, and bake for 12-15 minutes – mine have been taking about 13 minutes. 

Leave them to cool….OR just grab one and give it a try!!!!! 😄😄😄
They’re good immediately, or after about 3-4 minutes to save burning your mouth. They also store well in an airtight container. 

I haven’t brought anything to Fiesta Friday for a couple of week’s, so I’m bringing these along this week and I hope the party goers enjoy my biscuits 🙂 Join co hosts Diann and Monika to see what goodies are on offer..

Happy Weekend! 

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!

My BBQ spice mix: all the flavour, none of the sugar…

If you buy any barbecue spice mixes or rubs or seasonings, they will include a smoky element, maybe a spicy element, usually a lot of salt, and pretty much always a HUGE amount of sugar. That mix of flavours epitomises BBQ seasonings, and aids the caramelisation of whatever is being cooked with it. 

If you search up recipes to make your own, you will find a similar story. But by choosing to make your own, you can amend the recipe to suit your tastes and preferences. If I make a barbecue based sauce or marinade for my boys, I will typically use honey or maple syrup, and I use a lot less than recipes suggest…I’ve never made a barbecue spice rub because I just couldn’t get my head round all that sugar, until now…

If you have seen my previous two posts, for my chilli cause and my salsa, you will have seen that I used ground freeze dried pineapple as the sweetnener. It intrigued me whether this could be used in a spice mix in the same way, or would it just burn when cooked? Pineapple caramelises if you grill it, so what would the freeze dried version do?

Well, I’m here to tell you it works very well. So, I introduce MY BBQ spice mix…

The photo above shows the freeze dried pineapple as it comes, plus some that I’ve broken down, as well as the finished mix 

I have so far used this spice mix to flavour a dip (very nice!), I used it as a rub on chicken which I grilled for the boys (thumbs up from both), and today I used it to roast some cauliflower…

I cut the florets into halves and quarters, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, sprinkled with a couple of teaspoons of the spice mix and mixed it all well. I then roasted it at 200C (fan) until it was all nicely cooked and bit crunchy…

And served it on a bed of homous…

What looks like burnt bits isn’t, it didn’t taste burnt, merely crunchy and tasty. I think if I’d cooked it any longer, it would have taken it too far. 
But the fact is, it works! I’m so chuffed 🙂

This is what I mixed..

4 tbsp ground freeze dried pineapple (for my tastes, I could happily use only 2 tablespoons, so you need to experiment)

2 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground roasted cumin

1 tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes

1/2 tbsp ground black pepper

1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder 

1 tsp dried oregano 

I mixed it all and ground it to a fine mix, but you could keep it more textured if you wish. 

The mix stores well in a sealed glass jar. If it clumps together just break it up before you use it – any mix using garlic powder tends to clump as it’s quite moist. 

The mix of flavours is so good, it’s still not as sweet as store bought mixes would be, because that’s my choice, but you could play with that. Do keep in mind that the pineapple is very sweet, so you may not need as much as you think. 

So, success, I think? What do you reckon…?

I hope that everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday like my creation 🙂 this week, the lovely Petra and Ai are co hosting, pop over and have a visit…happy weekend!