27 February 2008

Wood Walking

Spring is on it's way, here in Scotland. Although that may be a little bit of 'speaking too soon', because it is perfectly possible for snow to arrive tomorrow! It does feel like spring though. The days are longer and at last we have some sunlight.

I wanted to share some photos with you, from our walk on Sunday in Crombie Country Park.

21 February 2008

Spicy Aubgergine & Tomato Soup

This is my entry for No Croutons Required, the new monthly soup and salad challenge, which is going to be jointly hosted by myself and Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen. When I say entry, I mean that I don't want to miss out on all the fun! Lisa and I's entries are not up for voting.

I want to say a big thank to Lisa for all her hard work in starting the event and thank you all for contributing. We have been absolutely blown away by the enthusiasm everyone has shown!

So without further ado, here is my soup.

Spicy Aubergine & Tomato Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped,
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp toasted, crushed cumin seeds
3 aubergines, chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2/ ½ pints vegetable stock
juice ½ lemon
handful fresh coriander, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

Sizzle the cumin seeds in hot olive oil and then add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook for a few minutes. Add the aubergines and tomatoes. Next add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the lemon juice and coriander before whizzing the soup in a blender. I personally don’t like it too smooth.

Taste and season.

Serves 4 – 6

The challenge is now closed for the month. Lisa is kindly letting me submit my soup a day late, I know, I know, not a good example to set!

Make sure to visit Lisa's blog to see all the entries.

18 February 2008

E is for Excellent (someday!)

My good friend Val over at More Than Burnt Toast has awarded me an Excellent Blog Award. She is such a sweetie and a good friend too. I always enjoy catching up with her hectic life and her lovely Greek inspired food. There is always something new on her blog, she is way more dilligent than I will every be and she works 3 jobs!

Now I think it is going to be hard to pass this on to just 5 other bloggers, as there are so many good blogs and good friends out there. So here is my selection, a little more than 5, ahem!

The first has to go to Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen. My partner in crime and fellow host of No Croutons Required, a new monthly soup and salad challenge. Lisa's vegetarian food is always so good, that you just want a portion immediately!

Next I would like to award this excellent prize to my 2 lovely adoptees, Ashley from Eat Me Delicious, who bakes the most amazing treats and Mary at Starting from Scratch, whose blog has been a lovely surprise for me!

My fourth award, I give to Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe, who always makes me smile!

My fifth, but definitely not my last award goes to Wendy at A Wee Bit of Cooking! I am so jealous of the lovely dogs in her life and the lovely views she enjoys. All that and gorgeous food!

The next is to Jen at Little Bird Eats, who wants me to be fat, showing me all those yummy cakes! I am really looking forward to our day out Jen!

Lucky seven goes to Peter or Sneaky Pete as I like to think of him as, from Kalofagas - Pursuit of Delicious Foods, a blog filled with Greek goodness! He is so rude sometimes, but I just love him to bits, in spite of or maybe because of that!

Next up is my good friend Deb at Deb's Key West Wine and Garden. She makes me drool with her descriptions of the wines of the world and I just love her need to try every wine that has a quirky label!

Number nine goes to Amanada at Walking the Vegan Line. I so admire her newly aquired cake decorating skills! Her vegan recipes are tops too!

Ok, so now I have to go to 10, don't I?

The last, but definitely not the least goes to D & T at Hobbits Abroad. D & T hail from sunny California, but now live in not so sunny Glasgow. I just love their take on Scotland, it really does make me laugh! See you guys soon!

I could easily give out another 10, quite happily, however, I fear this post is going on and on and on.....

14 February 2008

At last, a nut roast!

Nut roast, is something I have never really eaten or even been inspired to make, but add mushrooms to the mix and I am intrigued and inspired. Well, I had to at least give it a go!

Mushroom Nut Roast with Tomato Sauce

1 large onion, chopped
300g/10 ½ oz mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g cashew nuts
200g brazil nuts
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
salt & freshly ground pepper

Grease and line a loaf tin.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Fry until soft and then leave to cool.

Proccess the nuts in a food processor until finely chopped, but a few chunks of nuts left is always good! Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gm4.

Combine the cooled mushroom mixture, chopped nuts, cheddar, parmesan, egg, parsley and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Mix well and season to taste. Press into the loaf tin and bake for 45mins or until firm. Leave for 5 minutes, then turn out and slice. Serve with fresh tomato sauce.

 Tomato Sauce

1 onion
1/ ½ tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp dried basil or 1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
salt & freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic, cook until soft, but not brown. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato puree, 1/3 cup water and basil. Simmer gently for 20 mins until thickened. Season to taste.

Well, the meal was a good one. The only difficulty I had, was slicing the nut loaf. I don't have anything to compare it too, so I don't know if it is always difficult to slice or if it needed longer. It was tasty though! We had the mushroom nut roast with the tomato sauce, creamy mashed potatoes and green beans, yum!

I took this recipe from the Gourmet Vegetarian by Jane Price. There are lots of really good recipes in it, that I am eager to try. I got it from the library, so I had better get on with it quick!

p.s. I just realised that this is not a very romantic post, but I can tell you that Graham and I are going to have a lovely romantic meal together tonight, just for us. After all it is our first Valentine's Day as man and wife!

10 February 2008

Chickpea & Tomato Salad

I love chickpeas! I could happily just snack on them and not make anything with them. But that would be plain lazy, so I made this really fresh salad with a zingy dressing.

Chickpea and Tomato Salad

240g chickpeas
1 small red onion
1 avocado
½ cucumber
6 baby plum tomatoes (or other small, sweet tomatoes)
handful fresh coriander

Lemon & Honey Dressing

2tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt & pepper

Add all the dressing ingredients to a bowl and whisk to amalgamate.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, tip them into a bowl along with the chopped onion, and chopped avocado. Cut the cucumber lengthways, scoop out the seeds, slice and add to the mixture, along with chopped tomatoes and coriander.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix well.

Serves 4

I added feta to our second serving of the salad. It made the salad even more delicious.

04 February 2008

eat me, delicious

I wanted to tell you a bit more about my adopted blogger, Ashley. Hopefully you have visited her, aptly named, delicious blog by now and are as delighted by it as I am!

Here are a few questions I asked her recently.

1. Where do you hail from? Can you tell us a little bit about the area?

I'm from Vancouver, BC, Canada. Not really sure what to say about it aside from I really love it here and it's really beautiful.

2. How long have you been blogging and what first got you interested?

I started my blog in June 2007, though I previously had a journal where I'd just post photos of the food I made. I started a real food blog because the food blogging community was something I wanted to be a part of. Previously I would read people's blogs, mostly David Lebovitz, and it just seemed like a lot of fun. What actually was the final push for me to start my blog was discovering Everybody Likes Sandwiches. It's a great down to earth blog with a cute design.

3. Did you find much support when you started, from fellow bloggers?

There were a couple of bloggers who I knew from my food photo journal, Celine from Have Cake Will Travel and Everybody Likes Sandwiches, who helped me out either with questions or just commenting on my blog and linking to it. I think it's hard to be a new food blogger though with so many new blogs being created all the time.

4. What are the best & worst thing about blogging?

The best thing about blogging is that I get to be a part of a world where everyone's obsessed with food and can appreciate all the little things about it. Reading food blogs always improves my mood, and sometimes I think about it as "food blog therapy". And also that having a food blog has pushed me to try different types of recipes and things I otherwise would've just thought about but done nothing. The worst thing about blogging is that I don't have enough time to do it or to read and comment on other people's blogs. And also what you wrote, which is that it's too dark to take photos and I don't know how to fix dark photos to make them look good.

5. Your blog is a vegetarian blog, how long have you been vegetarian and why did you make the decision?

I stopped eating beef and pork early on in high school (because for some reason it was more okay to eat poultry and fish? strange logic) and then stopped eating all meat when I was around 17, so about 7 years ago. After working at a pet store and seeing some really horrible things happen to animals and be done to animals, I made the decision to be a real vegetarian.

6. Do you have a favourite dish or one that you have posted about that was really successful?

Last summer I discovered a recipe for french barley salad in a Moosewood cookbook that I thought was really amazing.

Another favourite food discovery is the most delicious marinated tofu, from this Asian beet & tofu salad.

And Jaden's-lemon ricotta gnocchi is phenomenal.

And I have to throw a favourite baked good in there, which is a cookie that I'm sure everyone has heard of but I'm still really in love with it, the Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookie.

Oh and I almost forgot about the incredibly tasty hummus that turned me onto hummus, something I previously didn't like that much.


I don't know about you guys, but I want those Chocolate Chip Cookies, right this minute!

Thanks for a great interview Ashley!

I you are interested in adopting a blogger or being adopted, then visit Kristen over at Dine and Dish.

02 February 2008

No Croutons Required

Myself and Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen will be hosting the No Croutons Required blog event, which is a new monthly soup and salad challenge.

Lisa is hosting the first challenge, and the theme is vegetarian soup .

The winner will receive a gorgeous badge for their blog, designed by yours truly, don't laugh, it is actually rather nice!

I hope you will join in the challenge!

Check out the rules on Lisa's blog and give it a go. If you have any questions you may leave a comment or email us at nocroutonsrequired@googlemail.com.

Have Fun!