and the Winner of No Croutons Required is...

Smokey Tomato & Rosemary Soup.
Linda (With Knife and Fork)
London, UK

Congratulations Linda! Your badge is winging it's way too you, wear it with pride :)

If you would like to entry next month's edition of No Croutons Required, then head over to Lisa's blog tomorrow and find out what the next challenge is.

Tomato, Aubergine & Mushroom Curry with Cashews

Tomato, Aubergine & Mushroom Curry with Cashews

Tomato, Aubergine & Mushroom Curry with Cashews

2 tsp groundnut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 glove garlic, finely chopped
2 red chillies, finely chopped (leave the seeds in for extra heat)
3 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 Aubergines
2 large tomatoes, chopped
500g mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 400g tin chickpeas
5 tbsp tomato & coriander balti paste (choose your favourite curry paste)
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
100g roasted cashew nuts, finely chopped, plus a few to scatter on top of dish
Juice of ½ lemon
1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190c/375f/GM 5.

Bake your aubergines in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove them from the oven and leave them in a small plastic bag to cool. This will make them easier to peel. Once cool, peel and chop, then set aside.

Saute the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli in the oil until the onions are translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, before adding the tomatoes. Follow these with the tinned tomatoes (break them down with the spoon, if they are not already chopped), the tomato puree and the sugar. Next add the aubergines, cashew nuts and chickpeas. Add the curry paste, give a last stir and simmer the curry for 20-30 minutes until the tomatoes have cooked down and the flavours have developed.

Add the lemon juice and fresh coriander and season to taste.

Serve with rice and top with cashew nuts

Serves 4-6

This curry has a really rich, delicious flavour and texture is wonderful. Smooth sauce, chunky vegetables, creamy chickpeas and crunchy cashews. Mmmmm!

Graham loves cashew nuts, so this dish got 10 out of 10 from him and of course it was even better the next day.


Mayan Magic Chocolate Giveaway - The Winner

And the winner of the Mayan Magic Chocolate-Making Kit is Ricki from Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

Tart Dried Cherries and Black Pepper (just a teeny bit)

This flavour immediately appealed to me and no matter how many mouthwatering flavours I drooled over, I just kept coming back to this one, so I knew it was the winner. The combination of dark chocolate with chewy, tart, dried cherries and that little kick of pepper, is just too amazing to pass up.

There are no prizes for my top five after the winner, but I thought you might be intrigued about who made it into my list of favourites. Here they are:

1 Dark Chocolate with Apple & Ginger - Rasmus (Vegologi)

2 Pear & Ginger - Jacquie

3 Graham Cracker crumbs with a Vegan Nougat in a Truffle made with Coconut Milk - Libby (The Allergic Kid)

4 Dried Apricots and Orange Liqueur - Ikkinlala

5 Raspberry and Lemon Curd - Rose (Roses R Red)

And here is the full list of entries for you to peruse. Which flavour would you have chosen? I would happily taste them all, well apart from the bacon chocolate, that just makes me shudder (sorry Apples).

1. tart dried cherries and black pepper (just a teeny bit)
2. coconut and cardamom
3. earl grey tea and ginger
4. caramel and orange
5. dark chocolate blended with a floral-tasting honey (tupelo, perhaps)
6. caramel and peanut butter
7. dark chocolate with raspberry and a touch of lemon balm
8. orange zest with coconut cream and figs
9. hazelnut and ginger with just a teeny bit of sea salt
10. chocolate with a dulce de leche filling
11. pomegranates & sweet cream in dark chocolate
12. saffron & pistachios & orange
13. dried apricots and orange liqueur
14. raspberry and lemon curd
15. a gianduja shell with a whipped 70% cocoa filling, topped with a drizzle of the same dark chocolate
16. a bar of dark chocolate with toasted almond and apricot
17. citron and cardamom
18. rich, creamy mocha
19. dark chocolate with a hint of vanilla
20. honey milk chocolate with pistachios
21. a bacon chocolate bar
22. plain bittersweet dark chocolate with cocoa nibs
23. chai flavoured truffle surrounded by some delicious Mayan chocolate
24. dark dark chocolate flavored with sour cherry and almond
25. dark chocolate with sour apple and peanut butter
26. vanilla in a milk chocolate bar
27. coconut and white chocolate studded milk chocolate bar
28. sour cherries with a deliciously dark chocolate and a hint of brandy
29. chilies and cinnamon
30. hazelnut and sweet cream
31. hazelnut and lavender
32. -raisins
-mixed spice
-something to give a softer texture, maybe cookie dough like in Ben and Jerrys ice cream?
-and caster sugar sprinkled on top for visual effect
-sold in thick squares too!
33. sweet cream and almond paste with a sprinkle of lemon
34. coconut caramel creme
35. Rosemary and caramelized orange zest (dark chocolate)
36. apple and ginger (dark chocolate)
37. chile and tomato (dark chocolate)
38. strawberry, coconut and black pepper (dark chocolate)
39. pear and ginger
40. chili and cinnamon
41. graham cracker crumbs with a vegan nougat (to sub for marshmallow) into a truffle made with coconut milk


No Croutons Required - April Round-Up

For this month's edition of No Croutons Required, I asked you to come up with a soup or salad containing tomatoes and boy did you come up with the goods! But, there was also a twist, I also asked for a birthday menu to go along with the soup or salad.

Read on and enjoy (then vote)!

Jellied Tomato Salad
Soma (eCurry)
Texas, USA


Chilli Bean Soup with Quesadillas
Wendy (A Wee Bit Of Cooking)
Inverness, Scotland


Simplest Tomato Soup
Lucy (Nourish Me)
Melbourne, Austrlia


Tomato & Onion Salad with Feta
Holler (Tinned Tomatoes)
Dundee, Scotland

(not in vote)


Corn Tomato Salad with a Tomato Vinaigrette
A & N (Delectably Yours)
Atlanta, USA


Indian Style Tomato Salad
Lisa (Lisa's Kitchen)
London, Canada

(not in vote)


Chilled Tomato Soup
Priya (Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes)
Paris, France


Smokey Tomato and Rosemary Soup
Linda (With Knife & Fork)
London, UK


Tomato Lentil Soup
Johanna (Green Gourmet Giraffe)
Melbourne, Australia


Tomato Salad au Charles
Lysy (Munchkin Mail)
Warwickshire, UK


Spicy Tomato Cheese Soup
Sweatha (Tasty Curry Leaf)
Bangalore, India


Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato & Bread Soup)
TBC (The Budding Cook)


The winning entry will be announced on the 30th of April 2009. The next edition of No Croutons Required will be announced by Lisa over at Lisa's Kitchen at the beginning of May.

Tomato & Onion Salad with Feta

This is my dad's favourite salad, he always orders it wherever we go. Of course I have fiddled with it and added some feta cheese. I just couldn't resist!

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

If you would like to get an entry in, there is still time. Tomorrow is the closing date, but I won't be posting the roundup until I come home from work on Tuesday, so you have until 7pm, Tuesday 23 April 2009, UK time.

This month's edition calls for a soup or salad containing tomatoes, but there is something extra this month. It was my birthday when I posted the challenge, so I have asked for a birthday menu to go along with the soup or salad. It's going to be fun reading through everyone's menu ideas.

Tomato & Onion Salad with Feta

3 ripe, medium tomatoes, sliced
½ white onion, finely sliced
a chunk of feta
freshly ground black pepper


1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
a squeeze of lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

This hardly warrants a recipe, more a serving suggestion. Arrange your tomatoes on a plate, scatter over the onion slices and crumble some feta around the edge of the plate. Mix the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad.

Serves 2 as a starter or 4 as a side dish

My Birthday Menu

Saganaki Fried Cheese

Tagliatelle with Fine Beans & Mushrooms

Tomato & Onion Side Salad

Chocolate Truffle Torte with Fresh Strawberries and Devon Cream

Mayan Magic Chocolate Giveaway

OK, so who here likes chocolate?

Yep, I guessed that would be your answer! Well you are going to love this giveaway. I have a Mayan Chocolate Kit (suitable for vegetarians & vegans) to give away. But before that here are a few words from the company.

The Kit: Magic in the making
Creating delicious chocolate, made simple and fun.

The Mayan Magic chocolate-making kit is a brand new concept that gives you finest quality organic raw ingredients together with simple instructions to create exceptional chocolate from your own home.

Raw chocolate is made using unprocessed cacao powder that contains more than double the antioxidants of the processed variety and triple that of red wine.

The kit puts the fun and honesty back into chocolate, with no compromises on quality, flavour or health benefits. It is a perfect gift for children and adults alike.

So, I hear you ask, what do I have to do to win this fabulous prize?

Well, this is the easy part! All you have to do is think about what would the most heavenly chocolate bar would taste like. What would the bar or the filling be flavoured with?

Just leave me a comment before Wenesday 22 April 2009 and the best flavour wins.


Kellogg's Nature's Pleasure

I am back into the swing of eating muesli for breakfast again and really enjoying it, so when Kellogg's got in touch with me and asked if I would like to try out their new range of baked muesli, I was only too pleased to accept.

Kelloggs have developed four flavours in their new range of baked muesli, which will be hitting the shops this month. The basis of each flavour is a mixture of wholegrain oats, wheat and barley flakes, which are coated in honey and baked in the oven for a crunchy finish. To this they have added nice big pieces of nuts and dried fruits.

This is not the powdery, dry muesli we are used to, but a smoother and crunchier option.

Almond, Pecan & Cashew
I thought this would have been my least favourite and quite bland, but I was surprised. You can really taste the individual flavour of each of the nuts in this one.

Almond, Pecan & Raisin
This was the one I was least impressed with. It was quite unremarkable, mundane. It would make a lovely crumble topping, but I think I would leave it there.

Raspberry & Cherry
This was my absolute favourite. It is delicious. Big pieces of slightly tart fruit, that buzz on the taste buds at the front of your tongue, a lovely contrast to the smooth sweetness of the muesli. Yum! I will be buying this one.

Apple & Blackcurrant
Again there are lovely big slices of apple and lots of berries in this one, but I was left with a slightly floral flavour in my mouth. On my second spoonful I could detect something different. It tasted like the smell that wafts around the house when my I bake my Mum's Fruit Loaf. On investigation, I realised it was exactly that! They have added some mixed spice to this one.

This one is Graham's favourite. I don't think this box is going to last long, but still if that means he will keep his hands of the Raspberry and Cherry, then I am happy.

I will leave you with a cheesy quote from Graham.

When I asked him what he thought of the muesli he said "It's more oaty than your average cereal!" and walked off with the bowl.

Maple Cupcakes a la Ricki

I got the recipe for these cupcakes over at Ricki's blog - Diet Dessert & Dogs. They sounded so delicious that I scribbled down the recipe immediately.

I had all the ingredients I needed to make these cupcakes, but only if I converted it to a vegetarian recipe, instead of the vegan recipe that Ricki originally made. I went ahead and made the changes, I was sure Ricki would be fine about it and they turned out great.

I did frost a few of the cupcakes, but I decided they were actually better without the frosting, because they were so light in texture and had that gorgeous hint of maple syrup coming through.

Maple Cupcakes

½ cup milk
½ tsp cider vinegar
½ cup pure maple syrup
13 cup sunflower oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 13 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 180c/350f/GM4.

Line 12 muffins cups with muffin cases.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, vinegar, maple syrup, oil and vanilla until well combined. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, for at least 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk just until combined (do not over mix).

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until a tester inserted in one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Makes 12

Chocolate Maple Cupcakes Muffins coming to a blog near you soon!

Heilan Coos an' a' that!

I went on a such a good walk on Sunday.

We had glorious weather and beautiful surroundings. We went to Glen Lednock near Comrie for our walk and it was great!

Before the Highland clearances in the 18th century Glen Lednock had 21 different settlements (clans) comprising over 350 structures and 25 corn-drying kilns. There is not much left to show for it, but there is still a lot to see - the Shaky Bridge, Deil's Cauldron, the Wee Cauldron, Melville's Monument and a Hobbit Hole, oh and the coos!

Back to Top