31 July 2008

July's Winner - No Croutons Required

A big congratualtions to Jackie over at Jackie Vetter's Kitchen.

Jackie has won our July challenge, showcasing a herb in a soup or salad.

There were some really delicious entires, so it was a hard choice to make, but Jackie's soup was way out in the lead with 23 votes.

Jackie introduced us to a new herb, well, new to me anyway, Savoury (an aromatic plant related to thyme and rosemary). Jackie added savoury to her Peasant Soup. Lucky Peasants!


I have to give a mention to the salad that came in second place. A gorgeous Caprese salad by Psychgrad from Equal Opportunity Kitchen. Lovely fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil. A simple but gorgeous meal. It was a close run thing for a while there and this is defintely one of my favourites. Thank you Psychgrad :)

Skip over to Lisa's blog tomorrow for the August challenge. Thank you to all of you who took part and everyone else for giving us such good support. It means a lot to Lisa and myself :)

27 July 2008

Curried Lentil Soup with Lime





























It's time to do some shopping. I looked in the cupboards and fridge and I wasn’t very inspired by what was left. I knew there had to be at least a soup there. I had one carrot, 2 potatoes and the last of my celery (I have been eating cheddar & celery sandwiches this week). Not much in the way of vegetables, I admit, but enough to make the base of a good lentil soup. I added some spices to pep up the flavour and finished it off some freshly squeezed lime juice (left over from a rather delicious Margarita).

Curried Lentil Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes, finely chopped
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
4 cups/ 2 pints vegetable stock
juice of half a lime
salt & freshly ground black pepper


Saute the onion, celery, garlic and ginger in the olive oil until the onion begins to soften. Add the spices and a dash of water. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the carrot and potatoes to the pan and mix well. Next add the lentils and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 – 40 mins until the lentils are cooked. Pour in the lime juice and stir well, then season before serving up the soup. I didn’t blend it, because I prefer some chunks of vegetables in my soup.

Serves 6

24 July 2008

Taste & Create XII
















This is my entry for Taste & Create which is now is now 1 year old.

I have been teamed up with Grace, a southern girl who lives in New York and has a tasty little blog called Southern Grace. It is always lovely to make a new friend and it doesn't hurt when your new friend has tempting delicacies like this on her blog.


















Magnificent Mint Truffles

8oz/ 200g cream cheese, softened
3 cups icing sugar (extra for rolling)
3 cups/525g semisweet chocolate chips, melted (I used dark chocolate)
1 teaspoon mint extract


In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually mix in the icing sugar until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate and mint extract. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shape into balls, roll in icing sugar or cocoa and place back in the fridge.

These truffles are rich and gorgeous. A real chocolate hit! If you are using dark chocolate like me, then you may need to add a little more mint. Taste the chocolate as you are adding the mint.

21 July 2008

No Croutons Required - July Roundup

The Herb Garden is Open

July’s No Croutons Required challenge was for a soup or salad featuring a favourite herb or trying out a herb that was new to your kitchen.



Here are all the lovely entries:

The first entry is a Cilantro and Spice Infused Sauteed Eggplant Salad made by the lovely Astra over at Food For Laughter. This is a firm favourite in her household and brings back memories of watching her dad cook supper. The eggplant or aubergine as we like to call it here in Scotland, is cooked with honey, spices and cilantro. Now that has to be tasty!

Herb: Cilantro (Coriander)

(Deep South, US)



Next up we have the amazingly tempting Grilled Pizza with Pesto Sauce & Herb Salad. Val from More Than Burnt Toast, whipped up this bbq pizza topped with herb salad before heading for the beach. I don’t know about you, but I wish I had been there!

Herbs : Basil, Chives, Chervil, Tarragon & Dill

(BC, Canada)



Ivy from Kopiaste…..to Greek Hospitality has made us a salad using omega 3 rich, purslane. This is not a herb I had heard of before, but it is well known in Greece and Ivy has described it for us perfectly in her post for Purslane Salad (γλιστιρίδα) with Carrot Tzatziki.

Herbs: Parslane, Parsley, Thyme & Oregano

(Athens, Greece)



We are visitng Ohio next for a Grilled Corn Salad courtesy of Ohio Mom over at Cooking in Cleveland. Ohio Mom headed down to her local farmer’s market to buy the ears of corn for this salad. Her first instruction was to shuck the sweetcorn. Well I hadn’t heard of that before, but I thought it just rolled of the tongue and after I looked it up in the dictionary, I decided I would use that phrase from now on. Brilliant :)

Herb: Cilantro (Coriander)

(Cleveland, Ohio, US)



Allie from Yum in Tum was craving La Madeleine's Tomato-Basil Soup, but instead of buying it, she decided to recreate it herself and it does look rather delicious. So here we have Allie’s Tomato Basil Soup and I know which one I would rather have!

Herb: Basil

(Houston, Texas, US)



Rebecca from Foodie with Family really went to town or should I say farm, with her recipe for Herbed Handmade Chevre and Roasted Beet Salad. Her excitement over the dish is evident and who can blame her. Here is what Rebecca had to say about her entry “I was really excited about this particular recipe because I'm crazy for homemade cheese, especially chevre, and beets. It is such a eye and taste-bud thrilling classic combination, but it's even more exciting when the lettuce, herbs and flowers are from your own garden and the cheese is made by you.”

Herbs: Chives, Parsley & Chervil

(U.P. Michigan,US)



NCR regular, Kevin from Closet Cooking has made us a glorious Asparagus & Zucchini, Farro Salad. Kevin was looking for a new way of using his homemade pesto, when he came up with the idea for this salad. Zucchini, asparagus, chickpeas, walnuts and farro combine to make this a really innovative dish.

Herb: Basil

(Toronto, Canada)



Jackie from Jackie Vetter’s Kitchen has come up with a rather unusual herb that I hadn’t heard of before called savory. According to Wiki, savory is an aromatic plant related to thyme and rosemary. Jackie sprinkled some into her Peasant Soup and says it made the soup “intensely rich and flavorful". Jackie recoomends we serve her soup with crusty bread or cornbread.

Herb: Savory

(Georgetown, Indiana, US)



Bookseller Rachel from The Crispy Cook has whipped us up a Yellow String Bean & Tomato Salad. Rachel plucked string beans from her own garden and teamed them with tomatoes and fresh thyme to make this lovely summer salad.

Herb: Thyme

(Saratoga County, US)




Psychgrad from Equal Opportunity Kitchen has made us one of my favourite salads using my favourite herb. This is definitely a winner in my book! And what is this heavenly salad I hear you ask? Why, it is Caprese Salad. Lots of lovely fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, drizzled with a pseudo pesto dressing (skip the parmesan and pine nuts). Yum!

Herb: Basil

(Ontario, Canada)



Next we move on to a Savory Carrot Salad with Toasted Nuts & Fresh Oregano made by Kimi over at The Nourishing Gourmet. Kimi added toasted nuts and celery to her salad for crunch and fresh oregano from her garden, which she says is much better than the dried variety. She then tossed the salad with a vinegar based dressing.

Herb: Oregano

(Oregon, US)



Usha over at Veg Inspirations has made us some supreme comfort food with a Tomato Basil Soup. Usha added cinnamon basil, which she has been growing in containers, to her soup. She assures us that the cinnamon basil, does not in fact, taste like cinnamon, but has a stronger and more fragrant flavour than regular basil.

Herb: Cinnamon Basil

(North Carolina, US)




I made a simple side salad with my choice of herb. Carrot & Orange salad with a Brazil Nut & Coriander Dressing. I had a big bag of juicy oranges, just calling out to be made into something and I thought the spiciness of coriander would be a good contrast to the sweet flesh of an orange. It worked really well, but I would grate the carrots finer next time.

Herb: Coriander

(Dundee, Scorland)




Lisa, my fellow host in this challenge, from Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen has come up trumps as usual with an absolutely scrummy looking Salad with Warm Goat Cheese and Basil Sauce, served on lovely crusty, toasted bread, rubbed with a garlic clove. All I can say, after I stop drooling, is yes please. Now to disappoint you all, Lisa’s entry is not up for the vote, nor is mine.

Herb: Basil

(Ontario, Canada)




We are staying in Ontario for this next salad. Ricki from Diet Dessert and Dogs has made us the most colourful Minted Peach and Corn Salad. At first I thought it was a very unusual combination but when Ricki described the flavours, “The peaches are tart and luscious; the cucumber is cold, watery and mild; the corn is crisp and sweet; and the mint is pungent and peppery”, well, then I was hooked.

Herb: Mint

(Ontario, Canada)




Next up is Lauren, showcasing her brand new blog Harmless Foma. Lauren has submitted a mouthwateringly gorgeous Italian Gazpacho which she made for some very lucky friends.

Herb: Basil

(New Brunswick, Canada)




Lucy from Nourish Me has delivered up a gardener’s delight. Parsley Soup. Isn’t it the most gorgeous green, it makes you feel so healthy, just looking at it! Can you believe that Lucy named this a frugal soup? She is a very modest girl, our Lucy!


Herb: Parsley

(Melbourne, Australia)




Wandering Chopsticks (isn’t that a fabulous name for a blog) brings us a Watermelon, Feta and Basil Salad. Deliciously refreshing, don’t you think? We can all pretend we are having a gloriously hot summer, well those of us in the UK anyway. We have to have a very good imagination sometimes, but salads like this definitely help!


Herb: Basil

(Southern California, US)



Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything has made us a Tabbouleh Salad and topped it with the most gorgeous falafel! How could anyone resist? I couldn’t, that’s for sure! Beautiful photos as ever, Haalo :)


Herbs: Parsley & Mint

(Melbourne, Australia)




Lysy is up next. Lysy writes Munchkin Mail and went out into her garden to create this salad. This month’s challenge has been the inspiration she needed to use her lavendar plant. Lysy has made a Simple Lavender Salad. Tomatoes, mixed leaves and spring onions, dressed in a heavenly dressing made with orange juice, honey, olive oil, thyme, marjoram and some pretty little lavender flowers.

Herbs: Lavender, Thyme & Marjoram

(Warwickshire, UK)



Next up is a simple, but very fresh Baby Tomato Grape Cucumber and Mint Salad made by Srimathi over at Few Minute Wonders. Srimathi filled pitta pockets with her salad, falafel and a yoghurt garlic dressing. Mmmmmm :P

Herb: Mint

(San Diego, US)


Wow, look at the dressing Jen from Little Bird Eats has made to go with her Butterbean and Parsley Salad I have to have some of that :)

Herb: Parsley

(Ireland)



Our last entry comes from Chow over at Chow Vegan. Chow has made the first fruit salad of the challenge and I am really pleased that Chow thought of doing one. It is very appropriate as our last entry, it can be our dessert. So without further ado, here it is, Minty Summer Fruit Salad.


Herb: Mint

(SF Bay Area, US)



Please vote for your favourite in the voting panel. The winner will be announced at the end of the month. Lisa will announce the next challenge at the beginning of August.

19 July 2008

Melon, Peach & Red Wine Sorbet






























I am still on the sorbet trail. I am just loving it and I just don't fell guilty about it as a dessert. A few spoonfuls of sorbet is enough to get your sweet fix, without the fat, but lots of vitamins.

Melon, Peach & Red Wine Sorbet

1 melon, scooped out,
2 peaches, halved, stoned and peeled
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup red wine

Whizz up all the ingredients and either blend in an ice cream machine or freeze in a container and whip up every few hours.





























Another gorgeous sorbet. I like the fact that they are so quick to whip up. I have to admit that my sorbet didn't come out with much colour. I thought the red wine would make it lovely and pink, but it didn't, so I cheated and put a couple of drips of veggie approved, red food colouring. It seemed even more appealing when it was a beautiful pink colour.

17 July 2008

Carrot & Orange Salad with a Coriander & Brazil Nut Dressing















The title of this post makes this salad sound a lot fancier than it actually is. It is merely a simple side salad that includes some lovely flavours. It would be good bulked out with some salad leaves and sprinkled with feta, but on this occasion I just wanted something simple and fresh. The navel oranges were juicy and so so sweet, gorgeous!

Carrot & Orange Salad with a Coriander & Brazil Nut Dressing

2 oranges, peeled and segmented
2 carrots. peeled and well peeled
1 handful coriander
6 brazil nuts
a glug of olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 green chilli
freshly ground black pepper


Whizz up the coriander, brazil nuts, olive oil, garlic and chilli, then season. Drizzle the dressing over the carrot and orange.


This is my entry for this month's No Croutons Required. If you want to submit a recipe for a soup or salad featuring herbs, then post and submit your entry before midnight on the 20th July. The rules are here.

I hope you join in :)

14 July 2008

Tagged: Top Ten Photos

My good friend Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe was tagged to to a Top Ten Photos Meme. She has left it open, for her readers to take up the challenge and I thought, "Yes, I would like to do this meme!". Usually I just don't know what to say in a meme about myself, but my food photos, well they are much more interesting than I am, any day!



















1 Raspberry, Carrot & Basil Smoothie

I made this smoothie with frozen fruit, but now that berries are in season again, there is no excuse not to make this again with fresh fruit.















2 Truffle Torte

Something a little less healthy and a little more wicked from the gorgeous James Martin. Boy do I love the twinkle in that man's eyes and he also does a mean dessert! This is my 'take along to parties' recipe, everyone loves chocolate and this is torte is unctuous!















3 Spicy Tiffin Eggs

It's picnic season and what could be better to pack in your hamper than these vegetarian scotch eggs?

I am trying to be very positive about the weather, in order to give it a bit of a push. It has rained and rained and rained, here in Scotland, but it should be picnic weather, so cross your fingers for us!




































4 Beetroot Salad

Picnic food!
















5 Spinach & Feta Triangles or Spanakopita as they are known in Greece (Peter?)

More Picnic Food!!!!




































6 Rhubarb & Orange Jam

Last Autumn, I really got into making preserves, so come March when rhubarb was beginning to appear, I just had to make some jam with it.

I am trying to ease Graham into liking rhubarb after a life long hatred of it and this jam certainly helped. I also sneaked some rhubarb into a Strawberry Fool with Rhubarb Goo, Strawberry & Rhubarb Crumble and Potato Salad with a Rhubarb & Balsamic Dressing. The potato salad has to be my favourite way to use rhubarb. It tastes so good, you have to try it!

OK, I am wittering! I knew this would happen, I do apologise :)















7 Pea Pesto.

This pesto recipe has become a firm favourite in this household and my yoga friend Hilary, is now addicted to it too! It is great on pasta, so I entered this recipe into Ruth's weekly Presto Pasta Nights, which is a fabulous line-up of pasta recipes, which are showcased every Friday night.
















8 Mushroom, Potato & Aubergine Curry

Or curry in a hurry, as I like to think of it! This is the recipe I turn to if I want to make a quick, but satisfying meal and I just don't have time for grinding and toasting spices. I do so love mushrooms! I had to get a mushroom dish in here, somewhere :)
















9 Chocolate & Pecan Cookies with a surprise inside

I obtained this recipe,*ahem* from Fruit Tart and they are amazing! They are officially my favourite cookies and my work colleagues love them too. Well, all except David the chocoholic! So,why is he in despair? Well, I keep forgetting to make a batch without nuts for him and he hates nuts in chocolate, whoops :P

I nearly forgot to tell you what the surprise inside is! It is a gooey caramel filling, courtesy of Nestle's Rolos. Of course, I keep my last Rolo for Graham.




































10 Spicy Orange Soup

Or if truth be told, it is Spicy Butternut Squash Soup. I called it Spicy Orange Soup because of the beautiful colour, but on reflection this was just confusing for everyone!

This is my favourite and last photo, so now I will tag a few of the bloggers, whose photos I particularly admire.

Lucy at Nourish Me
Katy at Sugarlaws
Peter at Kalofagas
Wendy at A Wee Bit of Cooking
Ashley at Eat Me Delicious
Ricki at Diet, Dessert & Dogs
Spaghetti at A Forkful of Spaghetti

12 July 2008

The Great Big Veg Challenge

Take one mum and a seven year old boy, who won't eat his vegetables, put them together, with a idea for a blog, an alphabet of vegetables and a cup full of hope and what you end up with is The Great Big Vegetable Challenge!


In November 2006, Charlotte Hume had a eureka moment. She had lost all hope that she would ever be able to persuade her seven year old son, Freddie, to eat his vegetables. It was the archetypal dinner time debate that goes on across the land, "If you eat your peas you can have some pudding!".

Charlotte decided enough was enough and that another approach was needed. This is when she had the idea of starting up a blog charting her family's adventures through an alphabet of vegetable recipes. Charlotte appealed to bloggers around the world to send her recipes for each letter, which were tried out, photographed and posted with a score out of 10 from Freddie.

I have really enjoyed tuning in to see what new adventure Freddie and Charlotte had immersed themselves in. The posts were a joy to read and the vegetable stories were quite hilarious at times. There was the case of the stolen pumpkin, the naming and shaming fridge and my personal favourite, the post about horseradish and paintball commandos!

Alas, Charlotte and Freddie have come to the end of the alphabet and I don't think I will be the only one in mourning. However, all is not lost and we can still get our daily fix. I am getting to the good bit now! Charlotte and Freddie's adventures are 'on sale now, at all good bookstores'! Yay! I have my order placed and I think everyone should have their own copy of the Great Big Veg Challenge!

And now for a spot of fun!

Last year, Charlotte and Freddie challenged us to create a Vegetable Face and the results were posted as a slide show. Very amusing it was too! Well, now it is time for us all to contribute another vegetable face, this time to celebrate the end of The Great Big Vegetable Challenge. So let's all join in and give Charlotte and Freddie a good send off!

Post your Vegetable Faces, link here and email Charlotte with a picture of your vegetable face, your name and location and you may win a copy of their fabulous new book.

This is definitely not my area of expertise, however I have put together a little owl for your amusement!

07 July 2008

Mango, Rose Wine & Cinnamon Sorbet

I have a new kitchen gadget, courtesy of Lakeland.

I just can't resist that shop! I visited it last weekend and bought a set of spotty salad servers, an 8 inch loose-bottomed cake tin and liners, an avocado slicer and a mango splitter. The mango splitter is great, it saves so much faffing about slicing the skin off! You just push it down from the top to the bottom and voila, two halves ready for cubing.



Mango, Rose Wine & Cinnamon Sorbet

2 mangoes, cubed
1 cup rose wine
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon


Whizz up all the ingredients until smooth and blend in an ice cream maker for 30 minutes. You will have a soft sorbet at this point. Spoon into a freezer proof container and freeze until ready to use.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, you could put the blended mixture into your container and freeze. Whip up the mixture every hour, do this about 4 times, you will feel a difference in the texture. The sorbet will be ready a few hours after freezing.

I am entering this sorbet into You Scream, I Scream, We all Scream for Frozen Desserts, a blog event set up by Mike at Mike's Table, who wants us to put our creativity towards cooling off with something sweet this summer. I am all for that, it should be a good roundup!

06 July 2008

Patina Restaurant

I am sitting here looking out onto my garden. It is chilly, there is a strong wind rippling through the trees and the sky is white. Now that can't be good! Oh how I long to be back in Cyprus, in the sun, with the blue, blue sky.


So much free time to read and swim, to have a drink whilst watching boats glide by in the harbour and going out for a lovely meal in the evening. Harrumph! Oh, well I can tell you about one of the lovely restaurants we visited.

One balmy night, we went to The Patina Restaurant We phoned ahead to book and mentioned there would be 2 vegetarians in the party. They are great meat-eaters in the north of Cyprus and there is not always much on the menu for us veggies.



The restaurant must have been a pretty good sized villa at one time, but had been converted. The restaurant inside and out was beautifully furnished and the grounds were lovely. It was actually one of the few places where we saw lush grass. We were greeted as we came out of our car by the manager, who guided us in to a relaxed seating area outside, to have drinks, served with a variety of nuts and olives, while we perused the menu.

We moved to our table on the terrace and sipped our drinks while we awaited our meal. I have to say the service was very good, we were served each course by two waiters accompanied by the manager, who was always ready to have a chat. First we were served some bread, olives, olive oil and two dishes to share of soft cheese with bread sticks. I really liked the cheese dish, which was beautifully presented. I wish I had taken a photo. There were three rounds of the cheese, which seemed to be feta cheese mixed with soft cheese and basil and then seasoned. Yum.

I decided on the vegetable & halloumi stack for a starter, as did Graham and his mum and it turned out to be as good as it sounded. Stacks of chargrilled aubergine, halloumi, courgette, avocado and carrot, served with mustard and balsamic vinegar.
Graham's dad bucked the trend and plumped for Kalamari.

For our main course, Graham and I had a bit of a dilemma. There were no veggie main courses, but we had been told that we could adapt any of the main courses. We decided to have the tagliatelle in a creamy mushroom sauce. It should have included salmon, but we asked for it without. At this point the manager came over to listen to our order and said "But no!" and disappeared. We thought, "Can we not have the tagliatelle?".

He came back with two skillets to show us. On hearing that vegetarians were coming for dinner, the chef had whipped up something especially for us.

We were served a sizzling skillet with vegetables cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, topped with mashed potato, then mozzarella. It was really tasty and we so appreciated that they had gone to the trouble of preparing something for us in anticipation of our arrival.

But, it doesn't end there, they also served us a side plate of the tagliatelle we had ordered as well, which was hard to resist as it was packed with mushroom flavour and cooked to perfection. So we all dug in!

Graham's dad choose a lamb dish and Graham's mum had a chicken dish.

We had a good break after that, thankfully. We were entertained by an owl doing aeronautics above us and insects chattering in the trees and bushes. But, we decided to have dessert anyway, maybe an unwise move after so much food, but it looked so good! Graham had the cheesecake. I loved the presentation. Isn't that flower so cute?

I just wanted something to cool me down. It was still so hot and I didn't think the other diners would appreciate me diving into the pool fully clothed while they were trying to have a nice meal, so I ordered some ice cream.

The meal finished with the obligatory coffee and liqueurs on the house. We decided on some mint liqueur, which was a lurid, lurid green, which I am sure I would never contemplate drinking at home, but sitting here on a beautifully evening, it tasted delicious and seemed like the perfect end to a truly lovely meal.

Roll on our next holiday!

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