Taste & Create XXXIV

It has been such a long time since I took part in Taste & Create, years in fact, but as it is the three year anniversary I decided it was time to join in again. There is not usually a theme to these challenges, but as this is a special occasion we have a topic to stick to. Desserts. Well, I'm in!

For this round I was teamed up with Kimberley who has a rather lovely blog called Rhubarb and Honey. There isn't much in the way of desserts to choose from but there are some lovely recipes such as Gooey Jalapeno Poppers, Parmesan Spinach Cakes and Crispy Kale Chips.

I finally settled on Maple Pecan Popcorn. Dessert? Heck yes! We are having it for dessert tonight. I think it calls for snuggling up on the sofa and watching a movie, that's if Graham hasn't finished it all before then. He keeps going back for just another piece and another piece. I have threatened to chop his hands off if he goes back into the conservatory again. We haven't even had dinner yet.

Fresh popcorn and toasted pecans coated in homemade toffee made from butter, a little salt and lots and lots of maple syrup. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!


Carrot & Egg Tiffin Salad with Caesar's Dressing


Carrot & Tiffin Salad with Caesar's Dressing

Tiffin Eggs

7 large eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 mediun carrots, grated
2-3 heaped tbsp curry paste
4 slices wholemeal bread, whizzed into crumbs
1 heaped cup roasted cashews, finely chopped or whizzed


a mixture of salad leaves
3 medium carrots peeled into strips with a potato peeler
handful fresh basil leaves

(from Lisa's Kitchen)

½ cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ garlic glove crushed or finely grated
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil
1 cup of fresh vegetarian parmesan, grated


Heat the oven to 190c/170c fan/gas mark 5

Put 6 of the eggs in a pan of cold water and bring them to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then cool quickly in cold water. Carefully shell.

While the eggs are cooling, heat the oil, fry the onion for 5 mins, then add the carrot and cook for 10 minutes until soft. Stir in the curry paste and breadcrumbs. When the mixture is cool, beat the remaining egg and stir into the mixture.

Divide the mixture into 6 and flatten each portion with your hands (wetting them makes this a bit easier), then wrap around each egg - the mixture will seal well as you press it together. Roll the eggs in the cashews and chill until ready to cook. The prepared eggs can be kept in the fridge overnight.

Bake the eggs for 15-20 mins. Set aside to cool.


Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, mustard and pepper in a bowl. Whisk until well blended.

Drizzle in the oil and whisk in the cheese.


Fill a bowl with mixed salad leaves. Mix in the strips of carrot and basil. Toss together.

Place a handful of the salad on each plate. Drizzle some dressing over the salad and top with tiffin eggs that have been sliced in half.


Serves 4-6


Lentil Soup

What can I say about this soup. It is warm, comforting and so good for you. It's the perfect basic recipe to turn to when you need a quick meal. I just love it. I served it up with some of my Yoghurt & Cheese Scones. Bliss!

Lentil Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
½ tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ground cumin
4 large carrots, grated
3 pints/7 cups vegetable stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups red lentils
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Saute the onion, garlic and ginger in the olive oil until the onion is transluscent. Mix in the cumin and chilli powder before adding the grated carrots. Pour in the vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes and lemon juice. Next add the red lentils. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whizz the soup with a hand blender until you reach your desired consistency. I don’t like it completely smooth. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 6 – 8


Chilli Bake

It's another dreich day here in Scotland. We were lucky enough to enjoy some sun at the weekend, but we are back on track and the rain is pouring down. Just the weather for ducks and comfort food. To heck with salads today!

This recipe is more of a serving suggestion, than a recipe, but I can guarantee you will enjoy it.

* First of all I baked some large potatoes.
* While the potatoes were baking I made a batch of veggie chilli.
* Once the potatoes were cooked, I cut them into wedges and put them back in the oven to crisp off.
* Then I filled a large ovenproof dish with potato wedges, covered the potatoes with a generous layer of chilli and then a layer of grated mozzarella.
* I popped the dish back in the oven for 20 minutes until the cheese had melted and was lovely and golden.

Serves 4 - 6

Serve with lots of lovely vegetables or salad and garlic bread.

Veggie Chilli

1 tbsp olive oil
I onion, cut in half and sliced into half moons
2 red chillis, sliced finely, keep seeds in for heat
2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
2 tsp cumin
500g mushrooms, sliced
454g frozen Soya Mince
1/2 pint vegetable stock
3 cans chopped tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed
1 can cannellini beans
1 tube tomato puree
3 tbsp Green & Blacks Cocoa
1 handful fresh coriander, chopped

Saute the onions in olive oil, then add the chilli peppers, chilli flakes and cumin.

Next add the mushrooms. Once they are soft, pour in the soya mince. Give the mince a good stir, so that is is well coated in the oil and any juices from the mushrooms, then pour in the vegetable stock.

Add the chopped tomatoes, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the beans, the tomato puree and the cocoa powder. Cover and leave to cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and add the fresh coriander.


* in a chilli bake
* in tortilla wraps with salad leaves, sour cream and cheddar
* with rice, guacamole and sour cream
* in a baked potato topped with grated cheddar
* with mashed potato and vegetables (it's a Graham thing!)
* with nachos/tortilla chips, guacamole, sour cream and cheddar
* on a veggie burger in a roll, topped with cheese and eaten very carefully
* mixed through pasta

So, you don't need to worry if you have chilli leftover, once you have made your chilli bake. It can be kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen.

Strawberry & Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

3 lbs strawberries
1 lb rhubarb
juice of 2 lemons
4 lbs caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 knob of butter (this helps to eliminate the scum that floats to the top)

Wash the strawberries and rhubarb. Slice the strawberries in half and the rhubarb into 2cm long chunks.

Place the sugar in a heatproof bowl and pop in a moderate oven for 10 minutes to heat up.

Put a saucer in the freezer to test the jam.

Place the fruit in a large, heavy based saucepan with the lemon juice and heat up to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Slice open the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the bowl containing the sugar.

Add the warm sugar and vanilla to the pan, stir to dissolve and bring to the boil.

Boil for around 10 minutes over a high heat, stirring regularly (my jam took 20 minutes, but this was because I used frozen rhubarb, so it produced a lot more liquid as it cooked, fresh rhubarb & strawberries should only take about 10 minutes, but just judge it as you go).

To test the jam, put a spoonful on your cold plate, leave to sit for a few seconds and then push your finger through the jam, if it wrinkles, it's ready.

Remove from the heat and pour into sterilised jam jars (I sterilise my jars in the dishwasher).

The jam will set as it cools.

Makes around 6 lbs of jam. I filled 6 x 400g jars and 1 x 500g jar. I use a mixture of bought and collected jars.

We are really enjoying this jam. You can taste the rhubarb, but it is quite subtle. I think I will change the quantities next time, so there is more rhubarb and less strawberries.

Here are some thoughts on how to use your jam, other than smearing it onto buttered bread.

* Smeared onto warm Blueberry Scones.
* Loaded on to Delia's Scones with a dollop of rich clotted cream.
* A squidgy surprise in the middle of fresh, sugary Doughnut Muffins.
* Spread in the obligatory Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwiches.
* Smeared into the middle of The Caked Crusader's Coconut Sandwich Cake with Coconut Buttercream.
* Sandwiched in the middle of Lucie's Coconut Slices.
* Blended into Chele's Strawberry Jam Bread.
* Drizzled over Nic's British & American Pancakes.
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