NCR - The Copycat Round Winner

Congratulations to Johanna over at Green Gourmet Giraffe, who won with her rather sumptuous Parsnip Soup with Walnut Ravioli and Carrot Cream, inspired by the soup of the same name on the menu at my favourite restaurant - David Bann's in Edinburgh. Your winning badge is winging it's way to you Johanna.

For details of the next challenge, visit Lisa's Kitchen.

NCR- Mini post (the lost entrant)

OK, now for some humble pie! I completely missed out an entry for this month's challenge. I don't know what happened, it could be old age, failing eye sight or baby brain, I just don't know, but none of these are a good enough excuse. And... it is such a droolworthy salad too and so thoughtfully written. So please accept my apologises Kizzy.

Culinary Annotations
New York, USA

A Cold Vegetarian Noodle Salad (Dan Dan Noodles)

Flour Bakery + Café,
owner - Joanne Chang
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

My friend and I were on a trip to watch Fall season colours in New Hampshire. While we driving around the nature, the sun had set and the colours disappeared with the sun. What we were left with was hunger and a desire to follow food where it took us. It was about 10 P.M. on October 21, 2008; we decided to drive down to Boston knowing well that by the time we get there, the restaurants would have been past their last call. Most of them were. But there was a light of hope in a corner where neon lit sign read ‘Flour Bakery + Café’ by Joanne Chang.

We had been planning to visit her restaurant for some time now, to find out how a graduate in Applied Mathematics and Economics from Harvard college followed her heart into food business. So when we arrived late that night, we quickly warmed ourselves by the chef station and asked them to serve us with what they had left fresh at the end of the day. One of the first dishes to be served was this satiating “dan dan noodles”. Though by no means was this the traditional, authentic Sichuan noodles served by the peddlers’, this night it was all the comfort needed on a cold winter.

No Croutons Required - The Copycat Round-Up

For this month's No Croutons Required I asked you to look at restaurant menus, find a soup or salad that is suitable for vegetarians and makes you think "Mmmmmmm!" and then come up with your own recipe for it.

We only have a few recipes this month, but as you will see, they are all pretty darn great.

The Ordinary Vegetarian
Aurora, IL

Smashed Pea and Barley Soup

California Pizza Kitchen

"My soup is an imitation of the Smashed Pea and Barley Soup at the California Pizza Kitchen . A chain restaurant in the US that is surprisingly forward thinking, with several options for vegetarians and vegans (details on their site). Their soup servings are surprisingly small unfortunately, and the small taste I had of the Smashed Pea and Barley Soup left me wanting more. Two days later I created my own."

Green Gourmet Giraffe
Melbourne, Australia

Parsnip Soup with Walnut Ravioli and Carrot Cream

David Bann
56-58 St Mary's Street,
EH1 1SX,

"Jacqueline had suggested checking out menus online at favourite restaurants. The one I first thought of was David Bann, the wonderful vegetarian restaurant I visited in November on my trip to Scotland."

"So I went back to Bann’s menu online expecting to see ‘soup of the day’. I was delighted to see a dish called ‘Walnut tortellini and parsnip soup’. It even had a description: ‘Homemade pasta filled with toasted walnut and our own cheese curd, served with a lightly spiced parsnip soup and carrot puree’. I looked no further. This sounded wonderful. This would get me out of my soup rut."

A Homemaker's Diary

Morocco Inspired Broken Wheat Salad with Grilled Vegetable and Tofu

Olive Bar and Kitchen

"I tasted couscous salad first in Olive Bar and Kitchen and was completely hooked, so with my Moroccan theme dinner party thought of doing this my way. I wasn’t having couscous in my pantry and neither Spar Super market nor Spencer was able to supply me this. Thus I decided on broken wheat or Dalia and am glad that I did. It has come out so good that even today we made it again for dinner. This time I served it with fried tofu and poached egg, and we again fell in love with the dish. It’s a complete meal in a platter that serves you carbohydrate, protein and vegetables. It’s truly an amazing dish, which could be whipped up in 30 minutes and therefore makes it perfect for weekday’s dinner too. Guess this will make good lunch box option as well."

Munchkin Mail
Warwickshire, UK

Earth Cafe Redux Spinach and Lentil Soup

Earth Cafe
16-20 Turner Street,
M4 1DZ

"Definitely the best soup I've eaten in a cafe or restaurant in years though was the spinach and lentil soup from Earth Cafe in Manchester which I already blogged about. When I tried to recreate it that time I put mushrooms in it, and made a nice soup, but not that like the original. But I have to admit that I have a cheat now. The soup was so amazing that I emailed the cafe afterwards to tell them, and to ask if I might possibly be able to have the recipe. Lovely people that they are, they estimated a recipe based on four people and sent it back to me. I don't like to reproduce it directly since they were so nice as to pass it on, but the copycat theme made me think to make a variant on it this week, based on what we had in the house. It was pretty much as good as the one I had at the cafe if memory serves correctly - thick and earthy and pleasingly green. The original recipe called for quite a lot more lentils than I used, but I made mine to eat the next day and it thickened up lots. If you're eating it straight away I'd think about adding some more."

Jacqueline (me) - not in vote
Tinned Tomatoes
Dundee, Scotland

Salad of Watercress, Beetroot and Goat's Cheese

David Bann
56-58 St Mary's Street,
EH1 1SX,

"If I had to choose my favourite restaurant, I would choose David Bann's in Edinburgh every time without fail. I love visiting Edinburgh and it is a such a treat to eat in a vegetarian restaurant. Having said that, I would visit Bann's wherever it was. It draws you in with it's sophisticated decor and constantly changing, ecclectic menu. So, I knew immediately where to go to find a salad that would inspire me.

I took the title of this salad and kept it quite simple, leaving out the radish and green beans they had included in their dish. I am sure it is good with these added ingredients and I bet the presentation of their salad was very artisic and not thrown together like mine, but I was very pleased with my salad. Such a good mixture of flavours and textures, which makes this recipe a keeper."

London, Ontario, Canada

Cucumber Salad


"This is a quick and easy salad that I ate for all the years that I patronized one of the then, many, Hungarian restaurants in Toronto. The place has since closed down, but I miss this simple salad. The Korona, a Hungarian restaurant served a delightful cucumber salad."

Lisa (not in vote)
Lisa's Kitchen
London, Ontario, Canada

Tomato Corn Chowder

Under The Volcano
215 Piccadilly Street,

"My contribution to the copycat round is this tomato corn chowder that I would always order when I visited Under the Volcano here in London Ontario. Unfortunately, this delicious soup is no longer on their menu, but thankfully, I was able to get a basic idea of the ingredients thanks to my friend Mike and have come up with my own creamy version. I have made it before, but this time I was able to replicate this Mexican soup more to my liking."

Please vote for your favourite in the voting poll. If you have any problems voting, email your vote to

The winner will be announced on the 28 February 2010.

NCR - Salad of Watercress, Beetroot, and Goats Cheese

For this salad I went straight to my favourite vegetarian restaurant, which is David Bann's in Edinburgh. I would like you to remember I have a demanding new baby, so when I say went, I meant virtually. I headed straight for their website and I was easily able to choose a salad I loved, to recreate. It is a very simple salad, with good earthy flavours.

Salad of Watercress, Beetroot, and Goats Cheese


½ bag watercress, washed and dabbed dry
4 beetroot, roasted, peeled and sliced
½ cup cashew nuts

Goat's Cheese Toasts

4 slices of crusty bread (I used a white bloomers bread)
olive oil to brush onto the toasted bread
1 clove garlic
4 slices goats cheese


1 tsp pesto
1 tsp white wine vinegar
3 tsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Wash your beetroot, to remove any of the garden that is still clinging to it. 
  2. Trim down the beetroot, so that there is a little stalk and root left on before wrapping each beetroot in tinfoil. Place on a baking tray and cook in a preheated oven (180c/350f/gas 4) for 1 hour. 
  3. Allow the beetroot to cool in it's foil for 10 minutes or so before peeling the beetroot and slicing. 
  4. If you want a quick alternative, there is no reason not to use the ready cooked beetroot available in vacuum packs in any supermarket, although the roasting does bring a lovely flavour.
  5. Scatter a handful of watercress on each plate. Top with slices of beetroot and scatter some cashew nuts across the salad.
  6. Brush the slices of bread with olive oil before toasting lightly. Rub a cut clove of garlic across the surface of each toast, top with a slice of goat's cheese and return to grill, until the cheese is warm, soft and golden. Place a toast on each salad.
  7. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and season, then drizzle across the toasts and salads. Serve while the toasts are still warm.

Serves 4

This makes a great starter and even though it is very simple, the flavours really stand out.

David Bann
56-58 St. Marys Street
Edinburgh EH1 1SX
0131 556 5888

You still have time to enter.

Just list the name of the restaurant, location and a url (if they have a website), along with a sentence or two talking about the restaurant or your choice of dish, then add your photo, a link to your post and your own location and email it all to me at by end of day on the 20th of February 2010, although I won't be posting until Sunday evening, so if you are running late and the post isn't up, then please do send it. We are running on baby-time here.

Have fun!

Katie's Cheesecake Brownies

I was very excited when I saw these brownies on Katie's blog - Katiecakes.

They more than lived up to my expectations. The sweet, milky cheescake topping is a lovely contrast to the rich chocolate flavour of the brownie base.

Oh, I must go have another slice just now, I will just have to carefully and slowly move the baby off my lap, so I don't wake him. Wish me luck!

Aren't husbands lovely? One slice of yummy brownie, a glass of raspberry milkshake and a still-sleeping-soundly, cute little baby on my lap. Life is sweet!

OK, back to business. I converted the recipe into cup sizes, but you can see the original metric recipe over at Katiecakes. If you do head over there, you will notice that Katie's brownies are not as deep as mine. There is a good reason for that. I didn't have enough plain flour left, so after a bit of research I found out that some brownie recipes call for self-raising flour. I decided to go for it and see what happened and they turned out great! Perhaps more sticky cake-like rather than intensely fudgey. So if you like a cakey brownie, use self-raising flour and if you like your brownies more fudgey, then use plain flour.

Katie's Cheesecake Brownies

Brownie Base:

175g/1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
3 tbsp cocoa powder

Cheesecake Topping:

1 cup ricotta
¼ cup caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180C/350f/gas mark 4 and grease a 30cm x 18cm brownie pan.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over a low heat. Once melted stir in the cocoa powder and sugar, combining till smooth.

Add the egg, beating the mixture till fully incorporated before adding the flour. Stir through until smooth and add to the prepared pan.

To make the cheesecake mixture combine the sugar, cheese and egg and beat until smooth. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture on top of the brownie base. Take a sharp knife and run it through the batter creating a marbled effect. (Just add a little at a time for a nice marbled effect. I used the whole amount and ended up with a cheesecake topping, but not much in the way of marbling. Check out Katie's post to see how good they can look, when done properly.)

Put the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes. Testing regularly with a cake skewer.

Thanks for the recipe Katie, I will be enjoying this one again and next time, I will try making it with plain flour, so I can decide which style I prefer. Hopefully my marbling will improve next time.

Rolo Cake Topped with Gooey Snowballs

Let me paint the scene! A get together of good friends, their partners/husbands and children. The promise to bring a cake. The need to try something new and exciting. I know who I turn to first, dah, dah, dah - The Caked Crusader!

And was I disappointed? Heck, no! I was spoilt for choice, as I knew I would be. I decided chocolate was the way to go and I wanted something pretty spectacular, so I plumped for The Caked Crusader's Rolo Cake. It is a moist chocolate cake, with rolos baked into the cake, smothered in chocolate frosting, topped with more rolos and gooey Tunnock's Snowballs or on The Caked Crusader's cake, hedgehogs. Yes, I did say hedgehogs!

I am posting the recipe in cup measures, but if you want it in metric and you do want this cake, believe me, then head over and have a look at The Caked Crusader's original cake. You will soon be drooling over all the gorgeous photos!

Rolo Cake


For the cake:

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1⁄3 cup caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ cup self raising flour
2⁄3 cup cocoa powder
100g Rolos, halved

For the buttercream:

1 cup icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder

To decorate: I used Tunnock's Snowballs and a few more rolos, but The Caked Crusader recommends crushed Flake, chocolate vermicelli, chocolate caramel curls or whatever takes your fancy!



Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Line a 20cm springform round tin with baking paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the eggs a little at a time and add some of the flour if the mixture starts to curdle.

Gently stir in the flour and cocoa, before stirring in the rolos.

Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly. The cake will settle on cooling but this is because it’s so rich and squidgy.

Leave to cool in the tin, on a wire rack.

Buttercream Frosting

When cool make the buttercream: cream together the icing sugar and butter until smooth. (don't have baby head like me and throw the icing sugar and butter into the bowl together and then try to blend or you and the kitchen will be covered in a thin layer of white powder. No, please think this through and blend the butter first, until soft and creamy and then add the icing sugar a little at a time)

Beat in the vanilla extract and cocoa powder.

If the mix is a bit solid, add a dash of milk to soften and slacken.

Spread over the cake and decorate as required .

And... this is how it looked after it had been plundered! Look at all that gooey mallow oozing across the top of the cake. Mmmmmm, sugar high!

And now for some shots of how the professional does it.

Doesn't that just look fabulous? And aren't those hedgehogs so cute? And look, smooth buttercream frosting. I bet that kitchen didn't experience a snow storm of icing.

Thank you so much for continuing to make my day, every day I visit your blog CC. You are a baking superhero!

No Croutons Required - The Copycat Round

It's a new month and a new challenge here at No Croutons Required.

I have named this round the Copycat Round, because I would like you to look at restaurant menus, find a soup or salad that is suitable for vegetarians and makes you think "Mmmmmmm!" and then come up with your own recipe for it.

You may recreate a dish you have tried in a restaurant that has left a lasting impression, go online and check out the menus at your favourite restaurants or if you are enjoying a meal out, then pay close attention to the choices available. If you have a memory like a sieve, as I do, then scribble down the details of your soup or salad, while you are reading the menu and pop it in your bag, before you start chatting, enjoying the wine and forgetting all about No Croutons Required!

To enter, list the name of the restaurant, location and a url (if they have a website), along with a sentence or two talking about the restaurant or your choice of dish, then add your photo, a link to your post and your own location and email it all to me at by end of day on the 20th of February 2010.

This should be such fun, I just cannot wait to see wait everyone comes up with.

Let the games begin!

I would also like to take the opportunity to wish a big congratulations to Mangocheeks over at Allotment to Kitchen for winning the first challenge of 2010 with her yummy Thai Butternut Squash Soup with Tofu Croutons.

I hope this goes someway to giving you some joy after such a terrible week, Mangocheeks :)
Back to Top