29 April 2011

Marinated Mozzarella Ottolenghi Style


Just a quick post today. With a simple little salad or side-dish, whichever you wish it to be.

One evening when my brother-in-law was over for dinner I decided just to make a help-yourself sort of meal. A large bowl of lovely dressed mixed salad, a bowl of homemade potato and dill salad, a small bowl of homemade hummus, crusty bread, marinated mozzarella, pizza, a small bowl of beetroot and one of sweetcorn. It was wonderful. I should really do this more often. My mum, Graham and I then enjoyed leftovers the next day for lunch.

The marinated mozzarella recipe came out of a fabulous book by Yotam Ottolenghi called Plenty.

The marinade was made up of fennel seeds, oregano (fresh was called for, but I just used a little dried oregano), basil, garlic, lemon zest, extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil, salt and pepper.


The marinade is poured over the torn mozzarella and left for half an hour for the flavours to develop. Ottolenghi served his mozzarella with tomato wedges drizzled with olive oil, but as I was serving mine alongside a mixed salad, I didn't bother.

The flavours were good, but subtle, I think I would add more fennel next time and perhaps experiment with other spices. I did really enjoy it alongside all the other dishes.

On another note, please vote for your favourite soup or salad in this month's No Croutons Required. The chance to vote is drawing to a close and the winner will be announced tomorrow.

24 April 2011

The Easter Bunny? No, Much Better!


It's Easter Sunday and while others have been visited by the Easter Bunny, I have been visited by the Fairy Hobmother. You may not have heard of this mythical creature before, but it does exist.

I was visiting Nic over at Cherrapeno and she was talking about having a visit from the Fairy Hobmother. She had made a wish and been granted an new electric hand mixer. She was overjoyed as hers had died a slow and painful death. I left a comment and before I could blink the Fairy Hobmother had granted my wish too!

The Fairy Hobmother lives in a rather excellent website called Appliances Online who sell white goods and cookers, but his reach is much broader than this and you can also wish for other kitchen goodies.

I wished for a stand mixer. I have never actually had one before and was put off by lack of space, but the mixer I was granted is so gorgeous, that I will be leaving it on display when I am not using it.

I still can't get over it. I was so excited when I found out.

If you would like the Fairy Hobmother to grant you a wish, then leave a comment to say what you would wish for and why. You never know, your wish may be granted.

22 April 2011

NCR - The Birthday Edition Roundup

I would like to say I held off posting this roundup until today because today is Tinned Tomatoes 4th birthday and it ties in with the theme this month, but alas I cannot. Spring cleaning and gardening left me shattered last night, so I just had to give in and go to bed. I hope you will all agree the roundup is well worth waiting for.

This month I asked everyone to choose their topic from their birthday month from the No Croutons Required archive, so the entries are a lovely varied bunch. So have a browse and vote for your favourite. I will be announcing the winner of the Hotel Chocolat egg I had up for grabs, so do continue on to the end of the post.

1. Rosemary and Walnut Soda Bread
Susan (Holly Grove Kitchen)
Birthday Month: July
Theme: Bread to compliment a Soup or in a Salad (NCR 2010)


Doesn't that look great? I have never seen soda bread look so exciting. I want to bake it and eat it right away. Can you imagine a chunk of that with some homemade soup? And it is so easy too, no kneading required. Just flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, chopped walnuts, sprigs of rosemary and yoghurt and a bit of know-how courtesy of Susan.

Shropshire UK



2. Brazilian Black Bean Soup
Janet (The Taste Space)
Birthday Month: June
Theme: Legume Soup or Salad (NCR 2008)


This soup packs a punch of flavours, in fact Janet says "this soup is like a Brazilian party on your tongue". If that doesn't get you interested, then look at this list of ingredients. Black beans, kombu (I had to look this one up, it's a type of kelp), onion, red bell pepper, carrot, garlic, mango nectar or juice, passata, agave nectar (or maple syrup or sugar), ground cumin, dried thyme, ground cloves, Aleppo chili flakes, black pepper, cilantro, scallions, cinnamon stick, bay leaf & cider vinegar. Sounds really good, doesn't it?

Toronto, Canada



3. Red Lentil Soup
Corina (Searching for Spice)
Birthday Month: March
Theme: Spicy Soup (NCR 2008)


Poor Corina had a stinking cold and was feeling dreadful when she made this soup, in the hope that is would help. It definitely helped and why wouldn't it, it sounds great, lovely and spicy. Red lentils, red chilli, garlic clove, fresh ginger, ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, cinnamon, lots of curry leaves and dried coriander leaf.

London, UK



4. Gazpacho - Chilled Spanish Tomato Soup
Adam (Yogi's Kitchen)
Birthday Month: April
Theme: Tomato Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)


When Adam worked at the Manna Restaurant in London, this soup was a great hit. He didn't really appreciate chilled soup back then, but did appreciate that this was an easy to soup to knock up when they were busy. Well you can certainly understand why chilled soup isn't appealing when you live in the UK, as most of the year it is cold and driech here. Hot soup is definitely the thing to have. However, times change as do tastes and now Adam rather enjoys chilled soups. I my opinion it has more to do with living in a hot country (oh the jealousy!) rather than a change of taste. It does sound lovely and fresh though. Tomatoes, bread, cucumber, red pepper, celery, tomato paste, sherry vinegar, sugar, oregano, stock, salt, pepper and good quality olive oil.

Tarifa, Spain



5. Spring Minestrone Soup
Dom (Belleau Kitchen)
Birthday Month: September
Theme: Mediterranean Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)


Dominic, to give him his Sunday name, is new to No Croutons Required, although he isn't sure why, because he loves making soup and his famous among his friends for it. Well, I for one am glad he decided to join in. I started drooling as soon as I saw the photo of this soup and it happened again when I looked at the photo tonight. Oh and I loved Dom's description of this soup "minestrone means 'the one with many ingredients' so go crazy!".

Lincolnshire, UK



6. Indian Salad with Fresh Herbs and Blackeye Beans
LovingFood (Humble Home Cook)
Birthday Month: March
Theme: Indian Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)


Red chilli, garlic, Dijon mustard, lemon, fresh mint and coriander, freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste for the dressing, well i'm in.

Red onion, sweet cherry tomatoes, cucumber & blackeye beans, yes indeedy!

A fabulous first entry from LovingFood and I don't mind if it is indian inspired rather than authentic as she suggests, it still sounds fab.

Yorkshire, UK



7. The Best Mushroom Soup
Claire (Chez Cayenne)
Birthday Month: April

Theme: Mushroom Soup or Salad (NCR 2008)

Claire's birthday is this month too, so let's all wish her a happy birthday. Then let's look at her soup an think how much we would like a bowl of it. It's made with a ton of dried mushrooms, so you know it is going to be special and that's before you read all the other yummy ingredients. Claire made this when she got back from holiday. I really do love the sound of Claire's holiday, she bought a book about wineries, so their next journey took them to a winery. I wonder if that would work for me too?

Houston, Texas, USA



8. Tricken Rice Soup with Celeriac
Johanna (Green Gourmet Giraffe)
Birthday Month: January
Theme: Nourishing Soup (NCR 2009) & Rice Soup or Salad (NCR 2011)


Johanna made this soup in tribute to chicken soup, of course veggie style. It was more the comfort element she was going for as opposed to replicating chicken. The comfort levels are met in this soup courtesy of the celeriac and fried tofu. It's really funny, Johanna's little girl Sylvia was desperate to go shopping for the tofu, but cried when she tried it from the soup. I think the rest of us would only cry in a good way when tasting this soup.

Melbourne, Australia



9. Quinoa with Vegetables
Akheela (Torview)
Birthday Month: July (I am guessing, but I may be wrong)
Theme: Grains Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)


I'm loving quinoa at the moment, so I was glad when this entry dropped into my inbox. Quinoa, soup cube, carrots, beans, celery, cabbage and chilli powder to taste.
Sounds good right and healthy to boot! Thanks for your entry Akheela.

Ontario, Canada



10. Chunky Carrot & Beets Soup
Priya (Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes)
Birthday Month: August
Theme: Carrot Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)


Isn't this a real pretty soup? The colours are just beautiful. I loved the idea of adding beets to a carrot soup. A lovely contrast in colour and flavour. Priya added cream and thyme leaves to this simple, yet delicious soup. She made it in a swift 15 minutes in her pressure cooker. I would be tempted to buy one too, but I am too scared of the darn things.

Paris,France



11. Smoky Aubergine and Red Pepper Couscous Salad
Michelle (Food, Football & A Baby
Birthday Month: September
Theme: Mediterranean Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)


Michelle made this in the middle of a cleaning frenzy before her in-laws arrived for a visit. She is a girl after my own heart. Her house looks lovely and tidy, but beware opening drawers and cupboards, hehe, that is just like me, I never get around to tidying out those drawers, well hardly ever any way. I am sure glad she took the time to make this salad for us. It is just what I would enjoy eating. She is one talented lady.

Edmonton, AB, Canada



12. Verdant Salad with a Hint of Red
Sweatha (Tasty Curry Leaf)
Birthday Month: August
Theme: Peppers Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)


That sounds so poetic, doesn't it? But that isn't the only thing I loved about this salad. I really loved the creamy avocado dressing. This is a modern take on a coleslaw, but much healthier. The slaw consists of cooked beans, cabbage,
green pepper, red pepper and cilantro. All bound up in a dressing made of avocado, yoghurt, green chilli and shallots. Mmmmmmmm!

Bangalore



13. Chickpea Salad/Hummus
Lisa (We Don't Eat Anything With A Face)
Birthday Month: March
Theme: Chickpea Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)


Lisa makes her hummus simply and like it like I do with lots of lemon. I love hummus and have been eating a lot of it lately, although the last batch I made, I used a new extra virgin olive oil and it was just too overpowering, so I will stick to a milder oil next time. Lisa makes her hummus with chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, grated zest (i'll try this next time) and juice of ½ a lemon, tahini paste, ground black pepper, cumin, paprika and extra lemon juice.

West Midlands, UK



14. Curried Barely Green Peas and Mixed Vegetable Soup
Swathi (Zesty South Indian Kitchen)
Birthday Month: June
Theme: Legume Soup or Salad (NCR 2008)


Swathi had a bit of an argument, or should we say discussion with her husband about this soup. He thought it was more like a curry, but when Swathi asked if he would like it served on a plate with rice, he admitted defeat and agreed it was a soup. It does sound exceptionally tasty, all those vegetables flavoured with chilli powder, black pepper and garam masala. Healthy too and if you pop over to her blog, Swathi will explain. I loved the step-by-step photos the best.

Texas, USA



15. Cashew Chive Mayo Pasta Salad
Cashew Chive Mayo Pasta Salad (Gluten-Free, Vegan, Soy-Free)
Valerie (City|Life|Eats)
Birthday Month: October
Theme: Frugal Soup or Salad (NCR 2009)


Valerie packs a mean packed lunch and I mean that in the sense of sensational and not miserly. When I looked at Valeries photos, I just felt so ashamed of my excuse for a lunch on a daily basis. Hers just look so inviting and exciting, whereas mine usually just consist of a sandwich with fruit and yoghurt for break times. You really have to go over and have a look at her blog. This is what Valerie calls a frugal pasta salad. Well, if that is the case, I would go for frugal every time.

Washington, DC, USA



16. Quinoa Salad with Mushrooms (not in vote)
Jacqueline (me)(Tinned Tomatoes
Birthday Month: April
Theme: Mushroom Soup or Salad (NCR 2008)


Well after announcing my birthday and the theme, I bet a fair few of you looked at the themes for April and knew instanly which one I would choose. Predictable, huh? Yeah, yeah, if you have been around here much you will know how I love mushrooms. So it was an easy choice really. I did mean to make this salad with couscous, but couldn't lay my hands on any in the house, so I decided to use quinoa instead. I am glad I did, as it brought a lovely nuttiness to the dish and a bit more texture than couscous would have brought to the party. I parceled up a few portions for Cooper too, but I added some peas to his.

Dundee, Scotland, UK




17. Pink Power Salad
Torwen Baus (Torwen's Blog)
Birthday Month: December
Theme: Quinoa Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)


Torwen, like myself decided to go for a quinoa salad. We both coloured our quinoa, which makes it quite eye-catching. I mixed mine with a freash herb dressing, which turned it green and Torwen turned his pink with the help of some beets. Very pretty. As well as the recipe, he also reminds us of the health properties of this powerhouse of a grain (well pretend grain). It is high in iron, zinc, and calcium content it is also a very good source of essential amino acids.

Germany




18. Chickpea Salad with Tamarind Dressing (not in vote)
Lisa (Lisa's Kitchen)
Birthday Month: March
Theme: Chickpea Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)


Lisa came up with this colourful and tasty salad, then went the extra mile and made a sweet and sour dressing using tamarind paste. An ingredient, I myself haven't used before, but I trust Lisa's jusdgement, so I would be willing to give it a go. And I loved that fact that Lisa garnished her salad with among other things coconut. I thought that was such a good idea. It is just a pity that Lisa's salad can't be in with a chacnce to win.

London, Ontario, Canada



So, now you have seen all 18 entries and varied they are, so I am sure it will be a hard decision, but I am asking you to please vote for your favourite. You can use the poll to vote, leave a comment or email me.

And now on to my competition winner, who will recieve a rather wonderful thick and lush easter egg from Hotel Chocolat. The You Crack Me Up Egg to be precise.

My wee independent adjudicator was a tricky customer tonight. He was more interested in bringing us books to read, than pulling out an entry. It took a lot of persuasion, but once he got going he didn't want to stop and had grand fun with is daddy, opening up all the folded up pieces of paper and having the name read out. Then they used it like confetti, which got a lot of giggles.

Anyway, on to the winner.




20 April 2011

A Quick Supper for Toddlers










Cooper loves veggie sausages or veggie burgers with beans. He doesn't have it often, but it is sometimes a nice change for him. I was looking at some falafel in the supermarket and thought, "oh, he might like that too!". He doesn't mind eating spicy food and falafels are quite gently spicy. I bought him Cauldron Falafel, which are quite low in salt and lovely they are too.

And so I concocted this storecupboard supper, which he gobbled up. He just loves it! Of course I had a wee try and you may want to try it, it's tasty stuff.

Falafel, Peas & Beans

6 falafels, baked according to the packet instructions (or homemade if you have time)
1 x 400g tin baked beans (low sugar & low salt)
½ x 400g tin giant chickpeas, rinsed well
½ cup frozen peas
4 tbsp water
2 tsp tomato puree


Simply warm up all the peas and beans with the water and tomato puree and serve with the falafel.

Makes 3-4 toddler portions

Such an easy but nutritious dish. The falafel are packed with protein, complex carbohydrates & fibre. There is calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, vitamin B, and folate from the chickpeas. Protein, fibre, iron, calcium, low GI carbohydrates and lycopene from the baked beans and protein, folate, iron, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and thiamin from the peas.

17 April 2011

Herby Quinoa Salad with Mushrooms


This is my entry for this month's No Croutons Required and my lunch today.

I was going to make this with couscous, but goodness knows what I have done with it and I am quite glad I couldn't find it now, as the nuttiness of the quinoa really well in this salad.

This recipe is simplicity itself, just adjust the quantities and additional ingredients to suit yourself.


Herby Quinoa Salad with Mushrooms

Quinoa

150g quinoa
300g/1½ cups boiling water


Dressing

2 good handfuls of mixed fresh herbs (I used basil, parsley, chives and a little mint)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ clove garlic
freshly ground black pepper


Mushrooms

½ tbsp olive oil
2 large flat mushrooms, chopped
freshly ground black pepper

Finish

a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
a sprinkling of roasted and salted cashew nuts

Rinse the quinoa well, then add to a pot with the boiling water. Bring back to the boil and then simmer until all the water has evaporated and the quinoa is cooked. The quinoa should be nutty, but a little soft. Add more water if you think it needs it. Set aside.

Rinse your herbs and whizz in a food processor with the garlic, olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. I have a mini food processor that is just wonderful for jobs like this.

Saute the chopped mushrooms in a little olive oil until the mushrooms are soft, then season with black pepper.

Mix the herby oil and the mushrooms through the quinoa, reserving some mushrooms to finish the dish.

When serving, top the quinoa with a few mushroom pieces, a handful of nuts and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

This salad is lovely served warm rather than hot, but good cold too.

1 adult serving and 3 toddler servings
or
2 adult servings and 1 toddler servings
or
5 toddler servings


I lightly cooked some frozen peas and add these to the servings for Cooper, but you could add anything you liked really. Cooper loves couscous, so I am hoping he will enjoy this too. I was careful not too put too much garlic in.

You still have time to enter this month's No Croutons Required. Entries are supposed to be in by the 20th of April, but I doubt I will get the roundup done and up until the Thursday evening. So if the round-up hasn't been posted, then go ahead and email me.

Here are a recap of the rules:

Find your birthday month and choose from the themes listed below. Make a vegetarian soup or salad. Post your soup or salad and email me by the 20 April 2011 to nocroutonsrequired@googlemail.com

* your name
* your location
* your birthday month
* your choice of topic from that month
* name of your blog
* blog url
* name or your dish
* post url
* a photo of your dish

Here are your choice of themes, just choose your birthday month:

January - Nourishing Soup (NCR 2009), Thai Soup or Salad (NCR 2010), Rice Soup or Salad (NCR 2011)

February - Veggie Soup (NCR 2008), Potato Soup or Salad (NCR 2009), Copycat Soup or Salad (choose a soup or salad on the menu of your favourite restaurant and recreate it) (NCR 2010), Creamy Soup or Salad (NCR 2011)

March - Spicy Soup (NCR 2008), Indian Soup or Salad (NCR 2009), Chickpea Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

April - Mushroom Soup or Salad (NCR 2008), Tomato Soup or Salad (NCR 2009), Onion Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

May - Cheese Salad (NCR 2008), Berries Soup or Salad (NCR 2009), Mexican Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

June - Legume Soup or Salad (NCR 2008), Leafy Soup or Salad (NCR 2009), Courgette Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

July - Herb Soup or Salad (NCR 2008), Grains Soup or Salad (NCR 2009), Bread to compliment a Soup or in a Salad (NCR 2010)

August - Dressings for a Soup or Salad (NCR 2008), Peppers Soup or Salad (NCR 2009), Carrot Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

September - Fruit Soup or Salad (NCR 2008), Mediterranean Soup or Salad (NCR 2009), Corn Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

October - Hearty Soup (NCR 2008), Frugal Soup or Salad (NCR 2009), Noodle Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)

November & December - Pasta Soup or Salad (NCR 2008), Root Vegetables Soup or Salad (NCR 2009), Quinoa Soup or Salad (NCR 2010)



Head over to The Food Blog Diary to catch up on other foodie challenges, competitions and giveaways. The diary is updated continually as the month progresses so visit regularly for all the latest news.

14 April 2011

Easter is Coming, the Eggs are Getting Fat!



Well, they are over at Hotel Chocolat, where they sell a fabulous range of Easter Gifts, including the thickest, most glorious Easter eggs ever!

This year, when I got the choice, I decided to try the You Crack Me Up Egg. I just couldn't resist those cheeky little faces.

The egg is as thick as ever, which I think you will agree is a good trait in a chocolate egg. This one is 40% milk chocolate, but one of the egg halves has a wash of white chocolate over it, which I thought was a really nice touch.

I loved the wee smiley faces inside, especially the the orange praline and the strawberry mousse. I always go for the fruit flavours. If we were to share a box of chocolates, then I would want to eat the fruit creams and would happily leave you the chocolate with nuts.

There was also milk praline fried eggs, cocoa pod bunnies, chirpy chicks and a selection of wee faces in chocolate brownie, smooth praline, vanilla butter cream and crunchy praline. Funnily enough I like the nuts in praline, but then they aren't so overpowering.

If you would like to try this eggful of luscious, thick chocolate, with a generous selection of cheeky chocolates then you might like to take part in my giveaway.

Hotel Chocolat have kindly given me a You Crack Me Up Egg to giveaway to one lucky reader. One UK based winner only, I am afraid.

To win the You Crack Me Up Egg 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 Hotel Chocolat Facebook Page.

The giveaway is open until 21 April 2011.

Good luck everyone!

10 April 2011

Strawberry & Banana Muffins


I had to make these muffins as soon as I saw them over at For The Love of Cooking. Aren't they gorgeous?


Right away I thought they would make a lovely healthy snack for Cooper. He did enjoy them. I did too! They are slightly dense, as banana muffins often are, but the lovely little bites of fresh strawberries are wonderful. Although my friend Andrew wouldn't agree. He hates strawberries. Strange boy!


I won't publish the recipe as I haven't asked for permission, but you can find the recipe here.

Baked & Delicious - The Sequel & A Nomination

Well, Lisa is a lucky lady. She won the same competition with the Caked Crusader, so it was lucky we forgot about the bowl full of names and that it was still sitting on the window of the conservatory where we left it last night.

So this morning, my wee independent adjudicator was put to work once more. Scroll down to see if you have won.

ps Be sure to buy a lottery ticket today Lisa!





On another note, Michelle over at Food, Football & a Baby nominated me for Babble's Top 100 Food Mom Bloggers. Thank you Michelle!

If you would like to vote for me then pop over to Babble, click on the alphabetical tab and I am on the third page under Jacqueline - Tinned Tomatoes. You just need to click Like.

And on the subject of thank you, I would also like to thank Sophie who presented me with a Versatile Blogger Award.

09 April 2011

Baked & Delicious - The Winner







































































Congratulations to Lisa Shannon. My Wee independent adjudicator pulled your name out right away and handed it to his daddy. If you could email me your details to tinnedtomatoes@googlemail.com I will have your prize sent out to you.

Lisa wins a set of Baked & Delicious magazines, issues 2-5 along with a rather gorgeous set of silicone bakeware.

Baked & Delicious 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.

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