26 March 2011

Slow Cooking - The Roundup & The Winners

I recently got a slow cooker and realised I didn't have a clue what to cook in it, so I set up the Slow Cooking Challenge. It was a little bit special, because I had two amazing prizes to give away. A 4.5 Litre Flavour Savour Slow Cooker courtesy of Morphy Richards and a copy of Market Vegetarian by Ross Dobson, courtesy of me.

I had high hopes of a great roundup of recipes, but my challenge didn't inspire many of you, however the fabulous few it did inspire came up with some pretty darn tasty recipes.

I should have decided on the winners last weekend, but there were two dishes in particular I couldn't decide between, so I needed some time to think about it. They were both very different and I loved them both, but I managed to decide on my winners in the end.

Slow Cooking

1. Slow Cooked Lentil Curry
Rose (Now & Then Delicious)

I was very impressed by Rose. As well as coming up with a really delicious recipe, she also give the recipe instructions for cooking the curry in both a pot and a slow cooker. This is one dedicated blogger.

Rose chopped tomatoes, spring onion and coriander and popped them in the fridge until she needed them, then she slow cooked the lentils with spices, wine, stock, tomatoes, vinegar and lime juice. She finished of the curry with a stirring of yoghurt before mixing in her tomatoes, spring onions and coriander. I thought it was a great idea, to have softly cooked ingredients alongside some crunchy fresh ones.

Edinburgh, Scotland


2. Chickpea Squash Stew
Michelle (Food, Football & a Baby)

Michelle's dish is inspired by a similar dish her friend DS used to make. She said it was always perfectly cooked and beautifully spiced. When she couldn't find the recipe, Michelle decided to come up with her own version.

Butternut squash, potatoes, chickpeas & spinach, flavoured with garlic, ginger and chilli, spiced with madras curry powder and finished off with some coconut milk. What's not to love?

Edmonton, AB, Canada


3. Rasagulla
Harini (Sugar 'n' Spice)

I will quote Harini, as I have never come across a dessert quite like this one. I was very intrigued to read the recipe. "Rasagulla's are spongy paneer balls soaked in sugar syrup. It is a popular sweet in Northern India."

Milk, lemon juice, water, sugar, sugar candy (or boiled sweeties for those of us in the uk)- one for each rasagulla and cardamom powder.

This is why I love challenges so much. You always meet some great new bloggers and get some great ideas.

USA


4. Slow Cooked Tamarind Vegetable Pot with Cumin Dumplings
Mangocheeks (Allotment 2 Kitchen)

Mangocheeks based her dish on the South Asian dish Gol Guppay, which is a puffy crisp pastry shell filled with tamarind flavoured chickpeas and potatoes. Instead of making her dish in a pastry shell, she turned it inside out and cooked the ingredients as a stew and topped it with cumin speckled dumplings.

Potatoes, carrots, onion, peas and chickpeas, spiced and flavoured with coriander seeds, cumin seeds, garlic, red chillies, fresh ginger, turmeric and vegetable stock. Mmmmmmmmm :P followed by *drool*. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

West of Scotland


5. Slow Cooker Vegetable & Halloumi Stew
Jacqueline (Tinned Tomatoes)

This was my first attempt at using a slow cooker and I was suitably impressed, although I was disappointed I didn't get that second day taste, on the day of cooking. Unfortunately, you still have to wait until the next day to appreciate the full flavour of the dish. I am pleased to tell you that day two it was brilliant. There is only one change I would make. Next time, I would cook the halloumi separate and add it in the end. It went very soft in the slow cooker and I wasn't keen on the texture.




















Slow Cooker Vegetable & Halloumi Stew

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds (toasted and crushed)
1 tsp coriander seeds (toasted and crushed)
4 carrots cut into 2 cm chunks
1 courgette, sliced lengthways and cut into chunky half moons
1 aubergine, cut into chunks
1 cup vegetable stock (2 stock cubes)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes & a pinch of sugar
6 Anya potatoes cut in thirds
½ cup red wine
1 x 400g tin chickpeas
1 x 400g tin green lentils
1 x 250g halloumi


I used my slow cooker's short browning cycle to saute the onion and garlic in the oil and spices, before adding the other vegetables and sauteed them until the end of the cycle.

Next I add the tinned tomatoes and stock. Then I added in the wine, chickpeas, lentils and halloumi. (I added the to the stew to cook, but next time will cook it separately and add it at the end).

I then set my slow cooker to cook gently for 6 hours.

I served this stew at the request of my husband, with mashed potato, but it would be good with rice too.

Serves 4-6

And now onto my winners.

My first winner is Michelle from Food, Football & a Baby with her Chickpea Squash Stew. This stew just sounded so warm, spicy and comforting. I just loved it straight away and Michelle used ingredients that are some of my favourites. Michelle wins the Market Vegetarian Cookbook. I just hope she enjoys it as much as I do. I would really love to give Michelle a slow cooker, but unfortunately she now lives in Canada, so it is impossible.

My second winner and winner of the Flavour Savour Slow Cooker is Mangocheeks who blogs over at Allotment 2 Kitchen. I loved that Mangocheeks thought to add dumplings to her wonderful Slow Cooked Tamarind Vegetable Pot, near the end of cooking time and flavouring them with cumin was a neat idea.

So congratulations to my winner and a huge thank you and round of applause to Rose and Harini whose dishes were also wonderful. It was such a hard decision to make, I just wish I had a prize for each of you.

You can find out more about the Flavour Savour at Home of the House Proud and for more food challenges, giveaways and competitions you need look no further than The Food Blog Diary.

20 March 2011

Baked & Delicious - Choux Pastry & A Prize

There is a new magazine in town. It's name is Baked & Delicious and the recipes inside certainly are.

The magazine comes out twice a month on a Thursday. The first issue is available at the special price of 99p and comes with silicone cupcake cases, but as the series goes on you can collect a brush & spatula, a loaf pan, a quiche case. heart shaped moulds, mini muffin cases and petit four cases. The second issue comes in at £2.99 all the issues after that are £4.99.

I was really impressed with the recipes in the first issue and all the lovely photos. I especially love the step-by-step guides. There is a step-by-step for a Gâteau St. Honoré, which is basically a layer of shortcrust pastry, a ring of cream filled, caramel glazed choux buns topped with caramel shards. Oh boy, oh boy, it looks good! *drool*

There is also recipes for Iced Vanilla Cupcakes, Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia, Macaroons, Mediterranean Tartlets, Lebkuchen, Dundee Cake, Bitter Chocolate Puddings and a recipe for Choux Buns.

I decided to start easy and try the choux buns. I have always been a bit scared of making choux pastry, so I have avoided it like the plague. Then I saw Raymond Blanc making some choux pastry on tv and he made it look easy, so when I saw the recipe in Baked & Delicious I decided to give it a go. And, amazingly, they were easy to make. I made small choux buns, using a teaspoon to dollop them onto the tray, instead of piping them, but when they came out the oven they were monsters.

I am going to fill them with cream and dip them in chocolate to turn them into profiteroles, but I have lost my light for taking any decent photos. So, I will leave you with a few photos of my choux buns in preparation and post the recipe and more photos another day.

If you would like to try some of the recipes from Baked & Delicious, then why not enter my giveaway. I have 1 set of Baked & Delicious, issues 2 to 5 to give away, along with the free silicone bakeware that come with them, which is a spatula, pastry brush, loaf pan, quiche pan and two pretty heart shaped moulds.

To win the set of magazines just leave me a comment.

For extra entries:

1. Follow my blog and leave a comment to say you have done so.
2. Follow me on twitter (@tinnedtoms)and leave a comment to say you have done so.
3. Tweet the competition by clicking the twitter button at the end of this post and leave a comment to say you have done so.
4. Like the Baked & Delicious Facebook Page

This giveaway will be open until Friday 8 April 2011 and is open to UK residents only.


I had also planned to post the winners of my Slow Cooking Challenge today, but I feel I need a bit more thought before I decide. I will update you on the winners in a couple of days. I think I am going to try a couple of the recipes that I cannot decide between first.

And to continue my theme of not getting anything finished. I would like to send my apologies to my good friend Lisa for not getting a recipe done and posted for this month's No Croutons Required. You will be able to catch up with the more productive bloggers, who actually submitted a recipe tomorrow, over at Lisa's Kitchen. Remember to vote for your favourite.

18 March 2011

Tomato, Couscous & Bean Stew


















 This is a simple stew, if you would call it that, that I made for Cooper. It easy to make and very tasty. It's a great dish for babies and toddlers, but also makes a tasty lunch or side dish for mum and dad too. It's one of those dishes, that I always have the ingredients for.

Cooper is a bit poorly just now. He has a stinking cold, but he still enjoyed this for lunch. He wolfed down his porridge today too, so that is a good sign. He was more off his food before the cold arrived. Mind you, he is teething just now and a cold quite often seems to come at the same time as his new teeth. It's no fun being a baby, sorry I meant to say toddler. I must stop calling him a baby now he is one and walking.

Anyway, here is the recipe.


















Tomato, Couscous & Bean Stew

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely sliced
2 large flat mushrooms, chopped
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin mung beans
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 cup couscous
1&frac12 cups/ ¾ pint vegetable stock (I used Heinz Organic Vegetable Stock Cubes as they are very low salt and suitable from 4-6 months onwards.)
freshly ground black pepper
a handful of fresh basil, torn or chopped


Saute the garlic and shallot in the olive oil until the onion is tender and translucent.

Add the mushrooms and cook gently for a few minutes until they too have softened.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes, well rinsed mung beans and the couscous.

Add the vegetable stock and tomato puree and stir well.

Simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once the couscous has fluffed up and the stew has thickened, season with black pepper. Don't add salt if this dish is for a baby or toddler, but you may like to add a little if you are making it for adults.

Makes 3-4 adult portions
6-8 baby or toddler portions

Lastly add the fresh basil.

13 March 2011

Yoghurt , Blethering and a Rant

























There are a few things you will always find in my fridge. Milk, mature cheddar, parmesan, halloumi, salad leaves, cucumber, baby plum tomatoes (the other tomatoes sit on my windowsill ripening), lemons, limes, wholegrain mustard, jam, unsalted butter, fruit juice, berries and Total Greek Yoghurt. Other things do reside there too, but they change as the days pass.

You will see I was very specific about my yoghurt. The other regulars change in type and make, but I always buy Total Greek Yoghurt. I just don't think you can buy a better yoghurt. It is so rich and creamy, even the 0% one, although I only buy the regular as Cooper eats it too and drinks it in smoothies. It is important for him to eat full fat dairy. He needs the calories, especially now he is walking.

As I often do, I am blethering again. I was meaning to get to the point and tell you how pleased I was when Total sent me some new spilt pots to try. It took three tries for them to get here. (I have to say I no longer have any faith in Royal Mail's ability to get my mail to me as so many of my parcels have gone missing. I am starting to think there is a lot of theft going on as it is only the good stuff that go missing, never my bills and I am getting sick of it! The final parcel did arrive, but it came by another service. OK, rant over!)

There are 4 new flavours. Blueberry, strawberry, tropical fruit and honey. The yoghurt in the pots is 0% fat, although you wouldn't notice a discernible difference in the taste. I found the fruit purees to be to sweet for my taste. I think this may be because I usually eat fresh fruit with my Greek yoghurt. I have to say though, I did love the honey split pot.

After being in the fridge, the honey thickens until it is more like caramel. Mmmmmmm, lovely! I think I will skip the others, although Graham proclaimed the strawberry spit pot, the best yoghurt he had ever had. So I can see us buying more of those. For Cooper I will be sticking to their regular yoghurt.




Since we are talking of yoghurt, I thought I would give you a few foodie ideas.

1. Yoghurt Scones with a trio of cheese - Tinned Tomatoes















2. Heart Tarts - Tinned Tomatoes











3. Yoghurt & Blueberry Muffins - Fuss Free Flavours














4. World's Best Tzatziki - Kalyn's Kitchen














5. Best Ever Mushroom Sauce - Lisa's Kitchen











6. Shahi Egg - Lisa's Kitchen











On a totally (please ignore the pun) different note, just a reminder that you still have time to enter my slow cooking challenge for which I have a slow cooker and a cookbook up for grabs. You have until the 20th March 2011. It can be a main meal or dessert. As long as it is slow cooked and vegetarian. You may even cook your dish in the oven or a pot.

09 March 2011

We Love Tapas


























Tapas are something I have never really indulged in before. I always thought they wouldn't be very exciting for vegetarians, leaning more towards meat and fish. Well how wrong was I?

* Marinated Spanish Olives
* Rustic Breads with Aioli and Tomato Chutney
* Spanish Cheese Board
* Sliced Vine Ripened Tomatoes with Shallots, and Warm Goats Cheese
* Sun Dried Tomato, Feta and Olive Salad Bowl
* Goats Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pizza
* Roast Peppers, Grilled Aubergine and Sun Blushed Tomato Pizza
* Tomato and Four Cheese Pizza
* Patatas Bravas: Crisp Potatoes, Spiced Tomato Sauce and Aioli
* Gratin Potatoes flavoured with Parmesan and Garlic
* Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables with Garlic, Thyme & Aged Balsamic
* Cauliflower Gratin with Manchego and an Almond Crumb
* Thin Beetroot and Feta Cheese Tart with Roquette and Spiced Beetroot Chutney
* Garlic and Truffle Mashed Potatoes


Are you salivating yet?

We were, once we read the menu!

Graham, Cooper and I took a trip to Glasgow to visit the new Tapas restaurant - Tapela. It was a lovely day for a drive and we were really looking forward to our day out, after all the rain we have suffered lately.

We parked in a city centre car park, feeling slightly dizzy at the thought of how much it was going to cost us for the privilege of parking there and set of in our hunt for the restaurant. After declaring ourselves no nearer to finding it, we popped into a shop to ask for directions. There was some debate over which way to go and the final piece of advice was to take a number 77 bus. "oh, it's quite far then?" we asked. "Yes, it will take you about 15 minutes to get there". What's wrong with people in Glasgow, have they no feet or are they just extraordinarily lazy? Anyway, we set off and found it wasn't too far to the restaurant. Cooper enjoyed spotting all the buses on the way.

We were very impressed when we arrived at the restaurant. Some lovely latin music was piped into the stairway to welcome us in and get us in the mood for our tapas.

The restaurant was very stylish. Muted colours, pale wooden floors and lots of black and chrome. There were flashes of colour with red splashed panels that Jackson Pollack would have been impressed with and some lovely orange lamps. I particularly liked the carved wooden bulls and Cooper loved the water feature in the stairway.



























































The staff were very welcoming and quickly brought us some drinks and a wooden plate piled with rustic bread and dips. Just the thing to get Cooper onside. He loves all things baked.

It took us a while to decide on what to have as it all sounded so lovely and there was so much to choose from. As well as the tapas, they had a main menu too with temptations such as Vegetable Paella with Chickpeas and Aioli and a Thin Mushroom and Picos Blue Tart with Chargrilled Courgettes. Mmmmmmmmmm! They also had a lunch menu with 2 courses for £9.99 and 3 courses for £13.95, but we decided to share a selection tapas before plunging into the dessert menu.

We selected the Patatas Bravas, the Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables with Garlic, Thyme & Aged Balsamic, a Goats Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pizza and the Thin Beetroot and Feta Cheese Tart with Roquette and Spiced Beetroot Chutney.

The Patatas Bravas were liked spiced little morsels of roast potato. I could have happily eaten the whole bowl of potatoes myself.

The Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables were full of flavour and still had a bit of bite to them, which I like.

The Beetroot and Feta Cheese Tart which I was really looking forward to was subtle after the punch of flavours in the other dishes. It was beautifully presented, but a bit bland. I think I would have enjoyed it better on it's own with a salad, rather than fighting for place with the other tapas dishes.

And now onto the pizza. Well, we nearly came to blows over the pizza! A lovely freshly baked thin base with sweet and rich caramelised onions and a lovely goats cheese that wasn't overpowering as it sometimes can be. We all declared it the best pizza we had ever had. Well Cooper contributed his opinion by smiling lots and asking for more.

We shared two desserts. A Vanilla Cheesecake with Berry Compote and Raspberry Sorbet and a Smooth Lemon Posset with Pistachio Shortbreads.

Oh my god, they were good! The cheesecake was deep and oh so creamy, but not too sweet. The sorbet was slightly tart as was the berry compote. Just gorgeous!

The lemon posset was really thick and rich, but the lemon flavour was not overpowering. You could taste the lemon to begin with, but then the flavour is handed over to the vanilla seeds that are nestled through it. The pistachio shortbread was melting and as light as air. I am pleased as punch to say I came away with the recipe courtesy of their head chef - Gordon Stewart.

Although the restaurant isn't geared up for small children, the stairs which are too steep to contemplate taking a pram or buggy down and the lack of highchairs. The staff made us very welcome and didn't mind having a wee toddler toodling about. They even tried to get us a highchair from the bar next door. The prices are reasonable too. The vegetarian tapas are between 3 and 5 pounds and the desserts around about 5 pounds each. We will definitely make a return visit the next time we are in Glasgow.

Tapela
104 Bath Street
Glasgow
G2 2EN

0141 332 6678
info@tapela.co.uk

Food served all day
Sunday to Thursday: 12am to 10:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 12am to 10:30pm

04 March 2011

Chocolate Whoopie Pies



















I got my first whoopie pan and book last week. I was very, very excited. I have never experienced whoopie pies before, but I just knew they were going to be good. They are supposed to be the next big thing after cupcakes. Well, in my opinion after trying this batch, they are far superior to cupcakes. I am tempted by cupcakes as often as everyone else, but am rarely anything but disappointed.

And the filling, that amazingly gooey pillow that is sandwiched between the puffy chocolate sponge. Oh, wow! I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I tasted it. It is the most amazing filling I have ever tasted. I was tempted to forget the party and just sit there with a spoon and make a pig of myself.

Oh yes, the whoopie pies were being made for a one year old's birthday party. I made some pies freehand on greaseproof paper and some in the specialised tray. They both came out great, but the freehand ones varied greatly in size and shape. I think I am going to buy another tray. You have to leave them to cool completely in the tray, so it is no use just to have one tray and the filling would look a lot better piped rather than slathered on too. As you can see I didn't have much time to take a photo. It was a quick shot at the party, but it gives you an idea.

The book I bought to try out is The Whoopie Pie Book by Claire Ptak. Claire owns Violet, a cake company in East London. She is also a food stylist. You should see her work, it is amazing. It you have Ottolenghi’s Plenty, then you will already be familiar with it. I'm telling you, we could all learn a thing or two.

Anyway, enough of the rambling and on with the recipe, which I changed into cup measures.



Chocolate Whoopie Pies

1½ cups plain flour
1 cup cocoa
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
125g/1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk (or if you can't get any, use milk with a few squeezes of lemon juice, set aside for a few minutes to thicken.)
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4.

Grease your whoopie pie tin or line baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbs into a bowl. Sprinkle in the salt and mix through.

In a large bowl whisk the butter until lovely and soft and then cream with the sugar until light and creamy. I like to use an electric whisk. Next add the egg and beat in, then add the vanilla extract and the buttermilk. Add the powder mixture a cup at a time until it is all Incorporated. Chill for a while in the fridge before baking.

Scoop ¾ heaped dessert spoonful of mixture onto your prepared trays. If you are using baking tray, leave plenty of room for them to spread. Bake for 10 minutes until they are springy to the touch. Cool completely in the tin.

Sandwich two cakes with a creamy marshmallow filling.

Makes about 16-20 pies (I will be able to give a more accurate number once I make them all on the same trays)


Marshmallow Filling

3 large egg whites
¾ cup caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup (I used pecan maple syrup, which may be why the filling was so delicious. You could use plain maple syrup)
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place a large glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, be careful to make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Add the ingredients and whisk continuously for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and use an electric whisk to froth up until it is very opaque white, thick and stands up in peaks like meringue.

Sit in a comfy seat and eat with a spoon! Spoon onto your cooled cakes. Don't worry, there will be some left over to savour. Don't share!

Disclosure Statement: I did not receive this book free from the publisher to review, this is my own copy. The opinions I have expressed are my own.