NCR - Noodles - We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered such scrummy noodle soup and salad recipes for this month's edition of No Croutons Required. If you missed all the fun, you can scroll down to the next post to see all the droolworthy entries.

Congratulations go out to Susan over at Holly Grove Kitchen who streaked ahead, not literally you understand, I don't want to besmirch Susan's good name, no, no indeed no, I mean in the votes.

Susan had me at the mention of mushrooms! Any of you who know me well, are well aware that I just cannot resist them. The winning dish was a Mushroom and Noodle Soup which was adapted from her dad's chicken noodle soup and a fine job she made of it too!

If you would like to enter the November challenge, then head over to Lisa's Kitchen, where my good buddy Lisa wil be hosting the next edition.

NCR - Noodles

For this month's addition I asked you to come up with a vegetarian soup or salad containing Noodles. Sit back, relax and prepare yourself for some true autumnal treats.

1. Fettuccine and Corn Pesto Salad
Astra (Food For Laughter)

Our first entry comes from Astra over at Food For Laughter. Noodles seem to be a family staple in Astra's life.

Ample bowls of pasta salad at family reunion picnics, hearty noodle kugels for winter sabbath dinners, ethereal strands of cold soba noodles, nibbled for breakfast on my Uncle's Hawaii porch, earthy whole wheat pasta bobbing alongside adzuki beans in my mother's endless vat of vegetable soup...

So she had no problem's in coming up with a pasta salad. Astra took fettuccine and coated it in walnuts, sausage-style soy crumbles, corn kernels, black pepper, parmesan, olive oil and basil. Sounds tasty doesn't it and it looks so lovely and creamy.

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

2. Vegetable Noodles Soup
Akheela (Torview)

Next up we have a hearty bowl of soup from Akheela. Carrots, pumpkin, cabbage cooked and blended, stir in some coconut milk, throw in some thin noodles, top with red pepper and spring onions, then wait for a round of applause. Mmmmmm!

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3. Chinese Style Noodles Soup
PJ (Seduce Your Taste Buds)

PJ created this rather beautiful Chinese style noodle dish in minutes, so if you are looking for a quick nutritious meal, then look no further. Moong Noodles, pumpkin, tomato, spring onions, salt and sesame oil all cooked in just 6 minutes. Who said cooking couldn't be quick and easy?


4. Asian Noodle Salad with Sesame & Peanut
Megha (Live to Eat!!!)

As Megha points out "Asian noodle salad can be made with various ingredients and they can be a healthy dinner after a long day's work". Healthy indeed. Durum wheat noodles, with mushrooms and garlic coated in a dressing made from soy sauce, honey (or agave nectar), red wine vinegar, olive oil, peanuts, pepper, chilli flakes and salt, then garnished with basil leaves and sesame seeds.

I really wouldn't mind coming home to a bowl of this after work.

Mumbai, India

5. Thai Tofu Noodle Soup
Claire (Chez Cayenne)

Don't you just love the photo? I do!

Claire is over-run with basil at the moment, so what better use for it than in a thai noodle soup. I know, I know, pesto comes to mind first, but she is going to get around to that, give the poor girl a chance.

Vegetable broth flavoured with garlic, lemongrass, ginger, coconut milk, fresh lime juice, soy sauce. Add some straw mushrooms, wide rice noodles and chewy golden tofu. Voila! Droolworthy, I think you will agree.

Houston, Texas, USA

6. Vietnamese Vegetarian Pho
Jeanette (Jeanette's Healthy Living)

Jeanette created this dish in memory of her friend Thuy who taught her how to cook Vietnamese food. Thuy died of stomach cancer in October 2007, so Jeanette would like to dedicate this soup to her. If you would like to hear the story of Thuy and how they met, head over to Jeanette's blog and read the post that accompanies this dish.

Jeanette made a flavoursome Pho broth which she topped with baby bok choy, shitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms and rice noodles, then she garnished the soup with mung bean sprouts, fresh mint, fresh thai basil, fresh cilantro, Thai chilies, scallions and wedges of lime.

Connecticut, USA

7. Pesto Ravioli Soup
AF (Homemade Aspirations)

We are moving away from the orient for this next soup. AF's husband is in love with this soup, he knew he liked pesto with pasta, but this is a new joy for him.

Vegetable broth flavoured with one and a half heads of garlic, yes you heard me right, fresh basil, red bell pepper and onion, topped with ravioli, then garnished with parmesan and toasted walnuts. I think I may be in love with this dish too!

Kansas, USA

8. Mushroom and Noodle Soup
Susan (Holly Grove Kitchen)

Well, I don't know about you, but Susan had me at mushrooms and noodles. I don't think I have to tell you any more about this dish. That's a good enough recommendation for me. Oh, ok then, here we go. Susan decided to try adapting her dad's chicken noodle soup for this challenge and personally I can't see how adding chicken could have made it any more scrumptious, but then I am probably just a smidgen biased.

Onion, leek, carrots, swede, portabellini and chestnut mushrooms, chilli flakes, vegetable stock, mushroom ketchup, fine egg noodles and parsley. Nom, nom!

Shropshire, UK

9. Asparagus, Corn and Tofu Soup with Soba Noodles
Johanna (Green Gourmet Giraffe)

I always think Johanna has a way with noodles. Believe me she has served up many a gorgeous soup with those precious little strands. What, you don't believe? Well, honestly! Go over and have a look if you must.

It was a lovely spring day when Johanna made this soup. *gnashing of teeth* What? I live in Scotland. I'm jealous ok! Anyway, back to the soup. Johanna decided to leave behind the stews of winter and start embracing asparagus and lighter soups. Shiitake mushrooms, dashi powder (you can explain this one in the comments Johanna :) ), kombu seaweed, ginger juice, garlic, firm tofu, carrots, sobu noodles, corn, asparagus, spring onions, tamari, mirin (this one too johanna) and sesame oil.

Melbourne, Australia

10. Autumnal Noodle Soup
Jacqueline (Moi) Tinned Tomatoes (not in vote)

I always seem to add noodles into my spicy, but orange soups. What I mean is soups containing, carrots, sweet potatoes or butternut squash and oh how I love them, but I wanted to try something completely differnt this time, so I opted for a more earthy soup. I started with onion, garlic and ginger, then added freshly toasted and ground cumin and coriander seeds, followed by aubergine, mushrooms and spinach leaves. I added vegetables stock, some tomato puree, aduki beans and a splash of Worcestersire sauce for that extra tangy kick, then finished it all off with some wholewheat noodles. Mmmmmm, it was good, especially on the second and third day. This soup just gets better and better as it develops.

Dundee, Scotland

11. Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Vegetables
Janet (The Taste Space)

This isn't quite what I was thinking about when I stated noodles, I was thinking more Thai or Chinese Noodles, but heck it looks heavenly and anyway, I should learn to be more specific and remember that other nations have different terms for foodstuffs. Sorry, I am wittering again. On with this gorgeous salad.

Zucchini, yellow zucchini, yellow and red peppers, eggplant, red onion, garlic, Israeli couscous (darn, why can I never lay my hands on the stuff) and parsley dressed to impress with lemon juice, zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mmmmmmmm! *smacking of lips*

Toronto, Canada

12. Spicy Lime Noodle Salad with Grilled Tofu
Valerie (City|Life|Eats

Valerie has been posting a lunch box series since the beginning of September. Initially it was only supposed to last a week, but it has taken off and is still running. This salad fitted in perfectly. (Should I depress myself by admitting to a boring cheese sandwich for lunch tomorrow? Even Cooper is having a more exciting lunch than me. You are putting me to shame Valerie. I think I had better start a the beginning of the series and work my way through, taking notes!)

Golden, chewy tofu, rice noodles, toasted sesame oil, lime juice, hot sauce (homemade), bok choy, red pepper, scallions and sesame seeds. I feel like crying. Maybe I should go to bed and finish this in the morning. I am feeling so depressed looking at all this lovely food and thinking of my cheese sandwich. My alarm will be going off in six hours. Nope, I am determined to finish this round-up! Oh-oh, wittering again.

Washington, DC

13. Fettucine Salad with Roasted Pumpkin & Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Sweatha (Tasty Curry Leaf

Sweatha made a simple pesto dressing for noodles which she made with pumpkin seeds. *slurp*

Fettucine, pumpkin, cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds, garlic, parmesan, olive oil, white vinegar. More lip-smacking! Mmmmmmmm!

Bangalore, India

14. Cha Soba Noodles Salad with Avocado and Tofu
Vanessa (Sweet Artichoke)

Vanessa is back to defend her title! She has only won No Croutons Required three times this year. June, August and September, yes she is the defending champion. So folks, this is the one you must beat to win your badge and the glory!

Japanese macha tea & buckwheat noodles, tofu, black sesame seeds, black pepper, salt, Yuzuiri shichimi spice mix, avocado and daikon, all dressed in peanut butter, soy sauce, black pepper, fresh ginger, fresh coriander, then finished of with a sprinkling of peanuts and sesame seeds. Stand back everyone. Professional at work!


And there ends the round-up. A pretty darn good one, I think you will agree? Remember to vote for your favourite entry. If the voting poll hates you, then just drop me an eamil with your vote.

Little owl would like to remind you about my giveaway. Just leave a comment on this post and become a follower of Tinned Tomatoes before the 29th October 2010. The winner can choose 1 lb of coffee or 1 lb of herbal tea blend or 1 silk scarf as a prize.

Oh and remember to visit The Food Blog Diary for all your food event and giveaway needs.

Jac xx

Autumnal Noodle Soup

I quite often add noodles to soup in the autumn and winter, it really turns them into a substantial meal. This one is is filled with mushroom, beans and spicy with noodles added to bulk it out. It's really rather good.

Autumnal Noodle Soup


1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 cm piece fresh ginger, grated
3 tsp toasted and ground cumin seeds
1 tsp toasted and ground coriander seeds
1 aubergine, diced
12 large closed cup mushrooms, chopped
1 bag/160g spinach leaves
6 cups/3 pints vegetable stock
4 tbsp tomato puree
2 cups cooked aduki beans
1 tbsp vegetarian worcestershire sauce (optional)
150g wholewheat noodles


  1. Saute the onion, garlic and ginger in the olive oil until the onion is soft and transluscent. Stir in the spices before adding the aubergine. Stir well to coat. Cook gently for a few minutes. If the onion and aubergine stick a little because of the spices, add a splash of water. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft before adding the spinach leaves.
  2. Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and reduce to a light simmer. Cover and leave to cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato puree, beans, worcestershire sauce and noodles. Cook for a further 15 minutes.
  4. As with most soups, this one is at it's best on day two, when all of the flavours have really melded together and developed.

Serves 8 - 10


Lemon Dream - Dessert in a Jiffy!

My friend Andrew was coming for dinner and I needed a quick and easy dessert. I was making lasagne for our main course with steamed vegetables and you know how much time and effort goes into making lasagne from scratch, don't you? I make my filling with bolognaise, so there is the bolognaise to make, then the bechamel sauce etc etc etc..... Then there was Cooper's dinner to make, so this dessert proved to be just the thing and we all loved it.

It was creamy and tart and then there was the slightly salty sweet crunch of the biscuit crumbs. Mmmmmmmmm, I could have eaten all four! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I do so love lemon desserts.

Lemon Dream

4 digestive biscuits or graham crackers

1 ¼ cups whipping or double cream
¼ cup caster sugar
¼ cup white wine
zest of a whole lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon

extra cream to pipe on top
cocoa powder for dusting

Crush the biscuits in a bag, using a rolling pin.

Whip the cream and sugar together until it forms soft peaks. Stir in the wine, the lemon zest and the lemon juice.

Spoon a little of the mousse into 4 small dessert bowls or glasses.

Sprinkle a layer of biscuit on top of the mousse and then top with the rest of the mousse. You can divide this into as many layers as you like.

Pop into the fridge until you are ready to serve them, then pipe or squirt cream on top of the mousse. I had some fresh squirty cream in the fridge, so I used that.

Finish off with a dusting of cocoa powder.

Serves 4

Little owl would like to remind you about my giveaway. Just leave a comment on this post and become a follower of Tinned Tomatoes before the 29th October 2010. The winner can choose 1 lb of coffee or 1 lb of herbal tea blend or 1 silk scarf as a prize.

Blueberry Loaf Cake with Lime Drizzle

blueberry loaf cake

I didn't get a chance to post this before I went on holiday at the start of September and the season has moved on so it isn't quite as relevant, but heck you can still get raspberries and blueberries in shops, even if they aren't local. This recipe is just too good to pass up.

I found this recipe over at Katiecakes and Katie, the sweet girl that she is, once again gave me permission to re-post one of her recipe in cup measures.

Katie made her original cake with raspberries. The first three times I made it with raspberries too, then I moved on to blueberries and chocolate (not in the same cake). As expected the blueberries exploded beautifully, but the chocolate cake was too dense. If I was making the chocolate cake again, I would decrease the amount of flour, when adding cocoa. I have a notion to try it as a chocolate cake studded with raspberries.

Please trust me when I say, you must try this cake. It is so quick and easy to make, so light and fluffy and the variations are endless. You could bake it plain or add raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, chocolate chips, raisins, orange juice & peel, cranberries..... You get the idea and everybody who tried it fell in love with it. I have been asked for the recipe several times.

Katie used a 2 lb loaf tin, but as I got 2 loaf cakes out of this mixture, I can only assume my loaf tins are 1 lb tins. I have never been sure about this as I inherited the tins and use the same ones for all my loaf recipes. My rule of thumb being, if there is too much cake batter, the split it into 2 cake pans/tins.

Blueberry Loaf Cake with Lime Drizzle

225g/2 sticks/1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups caster sugar
4 large eggs
zest of 2 limes
2 cups plain flour
2tsp baking powder
225g bluberries
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

juice of 2 limes
¼ cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180C. Line one 2lb non-stick loaf tin or two 1lb tins with non-stick baking paper.

Put all of the ingredients, except the blueberries, into a large bowl and beat together with an electric hand whisk or mixer, until smooth and combined. Stir in blueberries by hand.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the loaf.

While the loaf is cooling mix together the lime juice and caster sugar. Poke deep holes into the loaf using a baking skewer and spoon the mixture over the top of the cake. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out.

Slice and enjoy.

Remember to share!

An Anniversary Meal

Graham and I celebrated our 3rd Wedding Anniversary on Sunday. My parents wanted to share the celebration with us and lets face it, they will use any excuse to spend time with Cooper.

They very kindly took us out for a meal. Our choice of restaurants is limited when we go for a meal with my parents, as my dad is very old fashioned in his eating habits. There has to be steak, chicken cacciatore or sea bass and the sea bass is a new development. If we are going to a pub he will eat fish and chips or scampi and we thought it a personal break though when we persuaded him to try pizza a few years ago. Although stuck in his ways as he is it has to be Pizza Hut pizza.

Talking off which, if you like to sit back and relax with a take-away pizza and a movie at the weekend, then you may like to know that VoucherCodes are now offering vouchers codes for restaurants such as Pizza Hut. They have a new local site where you pop you postcode into a box and the vouchers appear. I can see us using that soon when we are visiting my parents, but I am havering again. So anyway, back to our night out.

Italian is always a good option for us and we had previously, pre-Cooper had a lovely night out at Bar Roma in Edinburgh, so we decided to return. We weren't disappointed.

Bar Roma is almost hidden down a side street in the West End of Edinburgh, but it is a real gem. It is an independent family friendly restaurant with the pre-requisite Italian waiters, shouting and chattering to each other in Italian and charming all the customers. You are really welcomed into this restaurant and treated well.

It is a large traditional Italian restaurant. Lots of wood, brick, small murals of rural Italy and copper pots hanging above the open kitchen, which stands in the middle of the room, along with the bar. The standard white linen graces the tables. I do so like table linen. I hate going to an eatery and being offered a paper napkin.

We decided to skip starter as we are invariably too full to finish our main course. I did eye up the caprese salad, one of my favourites, but I managed to resist. Not having chicken cacciatore on the menu, my dad plumped for Pollo Funghi e Crema (breast of chicken in a rich mushroom and cream sauce). Mum selected Rustici Porcini (pasta filled with wild mushroom & ricotta cheese in a wild mushroom sauce),
which I was particularly pleased about because I knew I would be offered a taste. Graham, true to form ordered Penne Piccante (fresh tomato sauce with a kick of chilli). I ordered Ravioloni Ricotta e Spinaci (ricotta cheese & spinach filled pasta in tomato and cream sauce) and we shared garlic & rosemary focaccia to mop up all the lovely sauce. Not posh us!

My mum said her pasta was the best tasting pasta she had ever had. My dad enjoyed his, but I could tell he was disappointed he couldn't have his reassuringly familiar chicken cacciatore. Graham enjoyed his pasta, but liked my dish better (heck, I make such a tasty tomato and chilli sauce it is hard to beat!). And as for my pasta, well it wasn't anything overly exciting, but it was really very tasty and cooked al dente.

Dessert. Of course we had dessert! I was pleased to see my favourite Crème Brûlée on the menu. It was homemade and divine. I just don't see how you can beat a good Crème Brûlée. Graham enjoyed his hot chocolate gateaux with ice cream so much he didn't even offer me a mouthful. So much for true love! My mum plumped for knickerbocker glory and scraped the glass for every last drop and my dad, well in time honoured tradition he asked for a cherry brandy to pour over vanilla ice cream and in time honoured tradition the staff had never heard of cherry brandy and couldn't find any, so my dad visits the bar and finds it under a slightly different name and everyone goes "ahh!" and my dad is happy.

No one was in the mood for coffee, but my mum and I did sip happily at a Limoncello each.

Oh and I nearly forgot Cooper. How could I? Well he had a lentil and vegetable dish in a tomato sauce we brought with us, which was warmed up in the kitchen. The waiter even took his bowl and cutlery away and washed it for us, when he was finished.

Cooper ate first, so I ordered some mushroom bruschette for him to munch away on while we enjoyed our meals. My boy does love all varieties of toast. Then a few spoonfuls of ice cream, a wander around the restaurant with his daddy and being secure in the knowledge he had charmed all the waiters and other diners meant we left with one happy baby.

The prices were on the average side for a family Italian. £13.95 for my dad's chicken dish, £11.50 for my pasta with most of the pasta dishes being £9.25 and the desserts averaged at £4.75.

The restaurant was warm, charming and low lit with candles on the tables, which makes for a lovely atmosphere, but substandard photos, so I apologise for the quality of the camera work, but hope it gives you a flavour of the evening.

Bar Roma,
39A Queensferry Street,
EH2 4RA.

Tel: 0131 226 2977

No Croutons Required - Noodles

I am back in bonnie Scotland. It is grey, it is dreich, it is generally wet and it is chilly. Yup, Autumn has arrived. Still, I cannot complain after enjoying three weeks of glorious sunshine and heat in Cyprus.

With Autumn in mind I am in soup mode again and I am anticipating my first batch of Spicy Squash & Noodle Soup. So in it's honour I announce the topic for this month's No Croutons Required is NOODLES. I am aware that some of my readers have past through Winter and are moving towards the better weather, so I give you the option of making a soup or a salad.

Post your soup or salad with links to this blog before the end of day on the 20th October 2010. Email your entry to Be sure to include:

Your name:
Your location:
Blog Name:
Blog URL:
Name of Dish:
Link to the post featuring your dish:

and please include a photo of your soup or salad. Remember the dish should be suitable for vegetarians. Dairy is allowed.

Full Details can be found here.

And now congratulations are due to the winner of the September challenge.

A big round of applause for Vanessa over at Sweet Artichoke who made us the beautifully presented Corn & Saffron Capuccino.

"I normally prepare this corn soup with corn and potatoes… and this time, I though of trying to replace the potatoes with urad daal… The result is delicious, the daal gives a creamy texture and a slightly nutty flavour, that we both loved very much."

You know you want to try it!

Last, but not least a big thanks to my wonderful friend and co-host Lisa for another brilliant round-up.
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