31 October 2014

16 Autumnal Veggie Soups and Salads

It's time for some soup and salad.

It's No Croutons Required time!

This month we have a rather wonderful collection of Autumnal soups and salads. I broke the rules a little and accepted a second entry from Styled Nectar as I thought everyone needs some cauliflower popcorn in their life!

Sit back, relax and enjoy!












 I hope you enjoyed the roundup. If you would like to join in this November, just pop over to Lisa's Kitchen and add your veggie soup or salad to the linky.

Thanks to everyone for their excellent entries this month.

28 October 2014

15 Lip-Smacking Veggie & Vegan Balsamic Recipes


Photo: Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary

Balsamic Vinegar

I love balsamic vinegar and seem to get through an awful lot of it. 

I like:
  • dipping crusty bread into good quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • to mix it into my favourite salad dressing with olive oil, wholegrain mustard and a good grinding of black pepper.
  • I like to dry fry cherry tomatoes until they split, then pour balsamic vinegar into the pan to make a sticky glaze that sticks to the exposed tomato flesh.  These are great on a puff pastry tart which is spread with pesto and topped with mozzarella.
  • mixing it through vegetables before they are roasted.
  • drizzling it over salads.

You may have noticed I'm giving away a bumper batch of high quality olive oil and balasmic vinegar for Gresado.

They also sent me some of their De Negris Silver Eagle Balsamic Vinegar to try.

It's a barrel aged balsamic made by artisanal producers in Modena, Italy. It has a rich and sweet flavour that ends on a sharp note. You can definitely taste the difference from a bog standard supermarket balsamic. It really does make a difference when you spend more on a vinegar like this.


Still need some ideas for balsamic vinegar?

Here are 15 of the most delicious veggie 
and vegan (v) balsamic recipes for you to try: 

figs in balsamic vinegar

Balsamic Roasted Figs  (v) - Food to Glow



Easy Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts (v) - Kosher on a Budget





Balsamic Roasted Baby Carrots  (v) - Cravings of a Lunatic
Balsamic Reduction (v) - Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary
Candied Balsamic Rosemary Walnuts -The Cafe Sucre Farine








I hope you're inspired to try out some of these 
delicious recipes and to create a few of your own.

Gresado is an online shop that provides high quality products to chefs and home cooks. Suppliers to some of London's top chef's for over 40 years, they provide high quality products, some you cannot find anywhere else in the UK. They are a small business who try to be as green as possible.

Gresado are kindly offering my readers a 10% discount on orders
via www.gresado.com during November.  No miminum spend. Just enter the code ttnov14
 
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Gresado. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

26 October 2014

Conchiglioni Pasta Salad with Sautéed Mushrooms and Goats' Cheese

mushroom pasta salad

I'm still on my hearty salad kick.

This time I decided to make a pasta salad. We often eat a cold pasta salad for dinner and have the leftovers for lunch the next day. It's just something a bit different. It's simple too but full of flavour.

The wonderful thing about this salad is the different textures. Firm glossy pasta shells coated in pesto and tossed with salad leaves,  soft peppery sautéed mushrooms, crunchy half moons of cucumber and creamy goats' cheese. I used bistro salad leaves which have lovely little strands of beetroot mixed through, but you could use any mixed leaves.

As this was a 'use what I have in the fridge' exercise, I used jarred pesto sauce, but it would be great with freshly made pesto. If you're looking for a good shop-bought veggie pesto try Sacla Organic Basil Pesto or for vegans try Mr Organic Basil Pesto. Those are the two brands we like.

Autumn Salad


This salad could also be served warm, with cold little bites from the cucumber and goats' cheese. It's every filling and super tasty.

print recipe
Conchiglion Mushroom Pasta Salad
Conchiglioni Pasta Salad with Mushrooms and Goats' Cheese
A hearty pasta salad coated in pesto and tossed with salad leaves, cucumber, sauteed mushrooms and goats' cheese.
Ingredients
  • 500g Conchiglioni (Shell) pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 50g bistro salad leaves
  • ¼ cucumber, sliced
  • 4 tbsp veggie pesto
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 50 -100g soft goats' cheese (depending on how cheesey you want your salad)
  • a good grinding of black pepper
Instructions
1. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente, then rinse until cold. This is important if you want firm glossy pasta.2. Saute the mushrooms in 1 tbsp olive oil until soft and then season well with black pepper. 3. In a large bowl toss the cold pasta in 1 tbsp of olive oil and the pesto.4. Mixed through the salad leaves, mushrooms and goats cheese. 5. Enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: Serves 6


If you're still in the mood for salads, here are my three favourite salads:

and a few more from around the web:


24 October 2014

Puy Lentil, Beet and Mozzarella Salad

Autumnal salad



I know that Summer's over, but I'm still enjoying salads. I'm eating a lot of comfort food too. Comforting bowls of soup, stew and chilli, which are great, but sometimes all I want is a salad.

On days when I'm at home and working flat out trying to get all my housework done and catching up online, I want something a bit special for lunch like this puy lentil, beet and mozzarella salad.

Some of my friends on Facebook will be laughing at that, as I admitted to having a squeezy Heinz tomato cup-a-soup for lunch yesterday. Hardly inspiring, but wonderfully quick and low in calories.

lentil and beetroot salad

My cup-a-soup may not have been inspiring, but this salad was. A mixture of salad leaves and slices of crunchy cucumber topped with roasted red pepper, tangy pickled baby beets, creamy puy lentils, fresh milky mozzarella topped with a drizzle of balsamic syrup. Just wonderful.

For convenience I used jarred red peppers and ready to eat puy lentils. My favourites are Cooks & Co Roasted Red Peppers and Merchant Gourmet Puy Lentils. In my opinion these are store cupboard essentials and are really handy for throwing together a quick meal.


Are you still enjoying salads or have you put them aside for more hearty dishes? 
 

print recipe
beet salad
Puy Lentil, Beet and Mozzarella Salad
A hearty and colourful salad for a satisfying lunch.
Ingredients
  • 50g mixed salad leaves
  • 50g ready to eat puy lentils
  • ½ roasted red pepper
  • a few slices cucumber
  • 5 pickled baby beets
  • ½ ball fresh mozzarella
  • a drizzle of balsamic glaze
Instructions
1. Slice the red pepper and mozzarella.2. Layer up your salad in a bowl. First the salad leaves, then the cucumber, mozzarella and pepper. Sprinkle over the lentils, then top baby beets.3. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. 4. Enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: Serves 1


20 October 2014

Smoked Vegetable Stew

Smoky Vegetable Stew

It tastes like a slow cooked stew, but didn't take long to cook at all.  I made it in my REDMOND Multicooker. It handily has a stew setting, which was just what I needed.

So what else does it do? 

Redmond Multicooker Review

Yes, it does have quite a range of functions. I wanted to see how easy it was to make a stew now the colder nights have set in. 

So what do I think of it?

The text in the instruction manual is teeny and my eyesight just isn't up to it. I gave up on that and just had a play with the control panel. Bigger text please REDMOND! (Since I made my stew I've discovered the manual online, which you can zoom in for bigger text. Excellent!)

There are lots of preset programs, but you can change the amount of time you want it to cook your dish. I used the stew function, which takes 40 minutes and added an extra 10 minutes. The vegetables came out tender and the gravy was tasty, but next time I think I'll add a little flour to thicken it up. Mind you Graham requested I serve the stew with mashed potato and it soaked up the gravy marvellously.

multicooker review


I thought it was a really handy and swish looking bit of kit. I also appreciated not having to fry the onions and garlic first before adding the other vegetables, I just popped all the ingredient in at the same time. I'm all for time saving, so thumb up on that score.

The Multicooker REDMOND RMC-M4502 was quiet and the outside didn't overheat. Once the stew was ready, the pot just lifts out. It didn't beep once it was ready, so I had to keep an eye on the time, but leaving it to keep warm in the cooker wouldn't have done it any harm and it also has a keep warm function if you want to leave it until you are ready.

Vegetable stew

I'm a bit set in my ways, so I can't see myself making pasta or cakes in it, but it could be useful if you have a tiny kitchen and not much in the way of cooking and baking equipment. It would actually be a really good present for a teenager heading off to university for the first time. My advice would be to try it a few times first so they know what they are doing.

smoked paprika
photo: Steenbergs
My stew featured butternut squash, carrots, aubergine and courgette in a smoky tomato gravy. A very Autumnal stew that was fabulously filling and very comforting served with mashed potato.

I gave the gravy a smokey flavour with the addition of smoked paprika. I've been using the smoked paprika from Steenbergs recently. I love their stylish, easy-stacking pots and the paprika has a wonderful flavour and a rich red colour.

fast diet recipes
A great thing about this stew is there is no fat added to it and it's pretty low calorie wise, so it's great for the 5:2 Diet and super healthy.

If you divide the stew into 6 portions it comes in at only 103 calories per portion. Divide it into a heartier 4 portions and you are still only looking at 154 calories.

  • Stew (divided into 6 portions) and 1 slice of medium wholemeal bread = 199 calories.
  • Stew (divided into 6 portions) with 1 medium potato and 38g peas = 302 calories.
  • Stew (divided into 6 portions) with Tesco Light Fresh Mash (½ pack) = 243 calories.


print recipe
vegan stew
Smoked Vegetable Stew
An Autumnal vegetable stew cooked in a multicooker.

If you don't have a multicooker saute the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft, then add the vegetables and cook a little, before adding the liquids and simmering until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables are tender.
Ingredients
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ butternut squash, cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 aubergine cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 large courgette, cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200 ml vegetable stock (2 cubes)
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • a large handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • a good grinding of salt and pepper
Instructions
1. Add all the ingredients to the pot of a multicooker.2. Close the lid securely and choose the stew function. Add another 10 minutes to the standard 40 minute timing.3. Leave it to cook while you go do something very useful or very fun.4. Serve with mashed potatoes and a smile.5. Enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4-6


Here are a few more reviews and recipes for the Redmond multicooker:



Disclosure: REDMOND sent me a multicooker to try and paid me to create a recipe for them and Steenbergs kindly sent me some spices to try. I was not required to write a positive review by either company and any opinions expressed are my own.

15 October 2014

Win a Specialist Olive Oil and Balsamic Oil Set - worth £49

 


Gresado have been supplying products to top chefs in London for over 40 years. Their top quality products are also used by home cooks and today in conjunction with them I am giving 1 lucky winner the chance to win a specialist oil and vinegar set.

This set, selected by Gresado chef Ben Tish, consists of a 5 litre tin of superior, authentically Italian Extra Virgin Olive oil by San Michele plus the Platinum Eagle gourmet balsamic vinegar. Both essentials for keen cooks.


De Negris – Platinum Eagle

250ml 
£27.00

- The classic shape of this bottle enhance the genuine qualities of the balsamic vinegar
- Platinum Eagle (65% must) Ideal for gourmet dishes, this balsamic vinegar has a high natural density. The refined and intense flavour works well with ice cream, strawberries and cheese.

San Michele – Extra Virgin

5 litre 
£29.75

- The attractive tin makes a wonderful present and would offer an authentic Italian feel to any kitchen.
- Superior category olive oil obtained directly from olives and solely by mechanical means. Light fruity taste, yellow-green colour, medium sweetness and low spicy taste.


Would you like to win this fabulous set? 

To enter leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me what your favourite Italian dish is and enter using the rafflecopter box below. There are more options for extra entries. This giveaway is UK only and will close on 31 October 2014 when the winner will be chosen.
Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


For more information on Gresado and their 'Great For Cooks' range visit www.gresado.com., Facebook and Twitter.





Disclosure: I am running this giveaway on behalf of Gresado, who sent me some of their products to try. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.
 

13 October 2014

Creamy Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup

 

I love Autumnal flavours, but I don't love Autumn at all. 

Yes it can be very romantic. Strolling through a park on a crisp Autumn day,  all wrapped up warm while crunching through leaves. Everything is golden and we still have the fun of Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night to come.

But it's all just a distraction really. A distraction from the dark nights encroaching more and more into the daytime. A distraction from the damp weather, the dropping temperatures and people sniffing and coughing all around us.

I suppose we romanticize it just to get through it all. Through the damp, cold and dark days of Autumn and Winter. Spring seems so far away.

Oh jings I hope I haven't depressed you? I've depressed myself!



Maybe I should just concentrate on what the new season brings. There's butternut squash, beetroot, aubergine and fresh crunchy apples. There's cabbage and kale and interesting wild mushrooms. There's courgettes, leeks and wonderfully sweet parsnips.

Then there's mugs of creamy hot chocolate and big bowls of soup. And there's hearty stews and casseroles and pies. Yes, let's concentrate on that!

Let's start with soup. A deeply rich butternut squash and tomato soup.

print recipe

Creamy Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup
A rich and full flavoured Autumnal soup of roast butternut squash, onion and tomatoes.
Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash, sliced, de-seeded and cubed
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • a glug of olive oil
  • 400 tin tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • a good grinding of salt and pepper
  • 1 pint/½ litre/2 ½ cups vegetable stock
Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan/425f/gas mark 7.2. Toss the butternut squash, onion and garlic in the olive and spread across a roasting pan Roast for 20-25 minutes until soft and charred at the edges.3. Add the roast veg, tomatoes, tomato puree, spices, seasoning and stock to a blender and whizz until smooth. If you don't have a powerful blender like mine, you could heat in a pan and whizz with a hand blender or heat and mash. You won't get the same smooth finish, but it will still taste great.4. Serve and enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4


photo: Food to Glow
Here are more butternut squash recipes for you to try:








10 October 2014

Green Mango and Spinach Smoothie

 

I cracked it, I made a green smoothie that Cooper likes. YAY!!!

The last time I tried to persuade him he would love one by calling it Stegosaurus Smoothie and it had limited success. He did try it, but didn't get much further than that. It's a shame really as that is one of my absolute favourite smoothies.



This time, I had a tray of ripe mangoes, but I wanted to add some green in there, so I added spinach. I know, I use a lot of spinach, but it's great stuff and so good for you. This time I added a cube of frozen spinach to my smoothie. I also added half a ripe avocado to add a creaminess to it.

Of course I whizzed up my smoothie in my Optimum 9400. I'm sure you're sick of hearing about it by now, but if you're interested in getting one yourself remember to use my link and the voucher code "Special Ambassador Offer" to receive an extra 2 years warranty free.

So this time he loved the smoothie. How did I do it? Well I poured it into his metal dinosaur drinking bottle and popped it in the fridge. I told him it was there and he just kept popping into the fridge to have some. Of course I shouldn't congratulate myself too much, he couldn't actually see it was green. 

print recipe

Green Mango and Spinach Smoothie
A frothy green smoothie, with a fruity flavour and a creamy texture.
Ingredients
  • 2 mangoes, all the flesh and juice
  • 2 apples
  • 1 banana
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • 1 cube frozen spinach or a large handful of fresh spinach
  • 1 heaped tsp baobab powder (optional)
  • 500ml orange juice
Instructions
1. Prepare the fruit. If you don't have a powerful blender like mine, cut the fruit into small pieces and use fresh spinach as the frozen spinach may kill the motor.2. Add the fruit to a blender with the baobab powder and the orange juice and whizz until smooth and well blended.3. Pour, add a straw and enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: serves 4-6


photo: Food to Glow

Here are a few more delicious smoothies for you to try:




Disclosure: I was sent an Optimum 9400 to review. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own. 

08 October 2014

New in my Kitchen #16





This is where I like to share my new kitchen discoveries 
and it's been a good batch this month, not a single bad score.



1. Dinosaur 4 Piece Cutlery Set

Cooper is still getting to grips with using a knife. He's been using one for the last year, but he's still clumsy with it.

I guess a lot of our meals like pasta, chilli and soup just don't require a knife, so he isn't getting enough practise.

I decided to try a smaller kids cutlery set and he does find them easier to hold, so I think we will carry on with them until his skills improve. He loves the dinosaurs on the handle of this Viners set.

RRP £16.00
Website £7.00

Score 9/10


2. Optimum 600 Slow Juicer

I was so excited when I heard there was a new slow juicer winging it's way from Froothie. I already have the Optimum 400 which I love because it is so powerful and it rinses clean under the tap, but the new slow juicer is even better because you can throw whole fruit and veg in.  It's seriously impressive and it also easily rinses clean under the tap, so it's perfect for the rush out the door in the morning.

RRP £329

Score 10/10





3. Waitrose Vegetarian Foodie Wine Case

I was lucky enough to try this selection of veggie wines selected by Waitrose Cookery School Head Chef, Gordon McDermott. I was very impressed. I really enjoyed them all and found a new favourite. It was great to have a complete wine selection that was veggie, without all the searching and reading of labels. Now I am no wine connoisseur, but I'll give you my impression of them.
  • Waitrose Cederberg Chenin Blanc (South Africa)

    This wine was just what I like a white wine. Lovely and dry with a good depth of flavour. Very easy to drink. Waitrose recommend a pairing with Spanakopitas.

  • Château Roquefort Roquefortissime (Bordeaux, France)

    This was a lighter tasting white which was more sweet than dry. I was surprised I enjoyed this one as it's not something I would usually as I prefer my whites to be drier and not French as I haven't had great experiences with French whites. I suppose it's knowing which to choose. The recommended pairing is a Roquefort and Endive Salad.

  • Norton Winemaker’s Reserve Malbec (Argentina)

    This one was a deep, rich red with a fruity flavour. Not my favourite of the bunch, but it was very pleasant and I did enjoy it.  A note to the wise. This one is rather strong. I felt a bit tipsy after one glass. Waitrose paired it with an aubergine ragout.

  • Cave de Turckheim Gewürztraminer (Alsace, France)

    This was the only one in the case I wouldn't buy again. It was just too florally for me. Think floral gums. Not one for me, but you may enjoy it. Waitrose teamed it with Sri Lankan Nut Curry.

  • Stonier Pinot Noir (Victoria, Australia)

    I loved this wine. This was the out and out winner for me. I do generally enjoy Australian wine so I wasn't surprised that this was my favourite.  It was rich and fruity and just generally gorgeous! Such a great flavour. It was paired with artichoke and olive puff pastry pie.

  • Araldica Corsini Barbaresco (Piedmont, Italy)

    This was another of my favourites and I'll be taking a note of this one to buy again. It's a lighter coloured red with a lighter flavour to match.  Waitrose matched it with a mushroom risotto.

    RRP £66.74  (with recipe booklet)

    Score: 9/10

     

    4. Moose Maple Butter

    When my food friend Stuart (Cakeyboi) came back from a trip to London, he brought with him one of my favourite things. A big and I mean big tub of Moose Maple Butter. This stuff is gorgeous. I know you could get quite creative with it, but I can't see beyond spreading it thickly on hot toast. Cooper is also now addicted to it too. He asks for sweet butter on toast. 

    RRP ?

    Score 10/10

     

    5. Fresh Garden Peas

    Graham and I have been sitting popping peas while watching the last series of Haven. We eat them as if they were a bag of sweeties. You just can't beat fresh peas!

    RRP various

    Score 10/10 

 

6.  PDO Viannos Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sometimes I find extra virgin olive oils really overpowering, but this one has a gorgeous green leafy flavour that is gentle and doesn't rip your tongue out. It's has a really nice flavour and is good enough to serve naked with crusty bread. A drizzle of it would be great on salad without adding anything else.

RRP: £6.50 (500ml)

£1 off in Tesco with this voucher.

Score 9/10


7. Jamie Oliver Personalised Antipasti Serving Board

What a great idea for a foodie gift this Christmas. Yes, sorry for mentioning the C word but it'll be here before we know it. I had my board personalised with my blog details, but you could add a name/s and a special date.

RRP: £29.99

Score 9/10 



8. Jumble Bee Mixed Nuts

Graham and I have also been snacking on these packs of nuts from Jumble Bee. They are also available in other flavours (raisins and cashews or fruit and nut mix with pecans), but the mixed nuts were the ones we loved the most. A tasty mix of brazil nuts, almonds, cashew nuts, hazelnuts and walnuts. Mmmmmmmm!

RRP £2.39 for 175ml (Tesco)

Score 9/10


9. Assorted glasses from IKEA

I picked up one each of these glasses and the carafe. You guessed it, for my blog photos.

  1. LÖNSAM carafe £1

  2. KROKETT light green glass £1.50

  3. FABULÖS glass £2

 Score 10/10 love IKEA!


 

 

10. Pizza Trays

My pizza trays were past there best so it was time to replace them with new ones. Two of these did the job. They are good quality and I've used them a few times now with no buckling and they wash up well.

RRP: £7 sale price £4.50

Score: 10/10


Disclosure: I was lucky enough to be sent all of the products to try for review except for the peas and glasses which I bought myself. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.