Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The strangest biscuits I ever did bake...

I had a strong urge to bake yesterday.  But no eggs in the fridge.

It was raining.

I decided to get my google on and check out some "eggless recipes".  I came across this recipe for Treacle Cookie Biscuits.

I assumed they actually meant Golden Syrup - because Treacle is black, those biscuits are very brown.

Off I pottered to make them.

Oh What A Mess I Made.  Biscuit dough stuck to the worktop.  Biscuit dough stuck to my fingers.  Biscuit dough stuck to the cutter....

Yeah, you get the picture - veeeery sticky.  I added more flour.

And more flour.

Then even more.

It didn't help.

I baked them anyway, all six strange, biscuit type things.  I'm particularly proud of the misshapen middle one on the second row...a piece of art no-less.

Needless to say I shan't be baking these again.  They were very, very, very crunchy.  And floury.  Overcooked on my part - they didn't look brown enough at 20 mins so left them in a further 5 mins.

I almost broke a tooth eating the last one today...

Have you had any biscuit bungles?  

Monday, 30 May 2011

Meal Planning Monday - 2

Due to illness I didn't plan any meals last week, other than my menu for my flatmate to be SG to come dine with me.

Going to be much better this week, plan my meals and get back to the gym!  I've already read a couple of meal planning Monday posts so I'm feeling quite inspired.  Other people don't seem to put which days they're eating what on - maybe not as anal and stupidly regimented as me?

Monday - I have no clue what we'll have for tea tonight - probs a freezer forage
Tuesday - Prawn stir fry 
Wednesday - Chicken/ Mushroom Supreme
Thursday - Country Vegetable Soup
Friday - herb crusted fish, sweet potato wedges
Saturday - Curry (of some description)
Sunday - Roast Beef

Sunday is probably the day I'm least looking forward to, if I put anything other than roast beef down would mean that I would have to cook, and I'll be doing Weds, Thurs and Fri.

Spicy Bean Chilli

1 tin kidney beans
1 tin broad beans
1 tin chick peas
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp chilli powder
1 carton passata
couple of squeezes of tomato puree

That's a lot of 1's there...

I chopped the onion and the garlic and cooked them off while I chopped up the peppers into medium chunks.

I added the peppers to the pan and let them mix in with the onions and garlic and then added the kidney beans, the chick peas and the broad beans.

I added the tinned tomatoes after that, and then the passata.  I threw in some chilli powder to give heat and then left to simmer for 15 mins.

I added the tomato puree after 15 mins and let it cook for a further 3 mins.

I served with rice.  We both enjoyed it, although I served up gigantic portions, and it was quite spicy.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week (NVW) Recommended Recipe

This recommendation came from @jayneydodge and if I'm honest takes me right out of my comfort zone.

Sesame Baked Tofu

I'll let you into a little secret - I've never tried tofu.

Are you shocked?

It's just never appealed really, and because I don't know how to cook it, I've never used it.

I don't even know where abouts in the supermarket to get it!  I'd love to do this recipe because I know I like all the other ingredients, so I need to break free of my meat eater constraints and buy me some tofu!

Thanks Jayne for this recommendation!

National Vegetarian Week Round Up

Well I haven't got round to having any tofu, but I have managed to eat some delicious veggie meals.

On Friday R made me a chickpea curry, and last night I whipped up a mixed bean chilli.

Both dishes were lovely, but both a wee bit too spicy!  I've eaten quite a lot of cheese this week, I made goats cheese bruscetta as a starter last night, which was gorgeous, and earlier in the week I made a pitta bread pizza for lunch.

When I did my shout out for veggie recipes I had a huge response, and although I managed to schedule a recipe for each day I had some others to share too.

Clare - @LoveToLiveToEat favourite veggie dishes are Veggie Lasagne and Aubergine Bake.

Gary - @TheFoodNut recommended his Mixed Bean Chilli.

Both Gary and Clare have great blogs, check them out on twitter then check their blogs out!

One of my favourite Leeds shops @MilliesLeeds linked me to Cauliflower & Potato Curry with wild rice.

Wendy - @wandapops sent me a lovely email with links to recipes, and a tip about dealing with veggies:

Nigella's sesame noodle salad

Rick Stein's blue cheese and tomato tart http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/529797

I also like asparagus, peppers and tomatoes tossed in olive oil and oven baked. Balsamic glaze over the top, served with grilled haloumi slices and salad. Mmmmm!

The only tip I'd give when feeding veggies is to not make a fuss- make them feel normal rather than awkward. Sometimes people apologise to us as if it's not our choice to be veggie!

I love @MsMarmiteLover 's approach - her supper club is veggie (sometimes with fish) but she never advertises it as a veggie place - she just makes the menu unusual enough to keep people interested so they don't miss it. I love that approach - it forces people out of their comfort zones without realising it!

And lastly @illbefrancoise got me salivating over thoughts of quorn stroganoff, and linked me up to a great stuffed marrow recipe.

I don't think I'm ready to hang up my meat eating ways, but this week has certainly got me loving veggie recipes again, and I promise that I will try tofu soon!

Thank you to everyone who contributed this week!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week (NVW) Recommended Recipe

The wonderful @tokaipenny has sent me a recipe for today's recommendation that's suitable for NVW 2011 but is actually vegan.

Vegan Lasagne

I don't have a written down recipe for this, so I'm going to have to wing it - the quantities may vary depending on the size of your oven dish. Feel free to edit away, it's all coming straight out of my brain and I don't have much of an internal editor when it comes to writing things down, I tend to ramble.

Vegans don't eat any living thing, or the products of any living thing. So no meat of any kind, and no eggs or dairy. If it's processed then more often than not they can't eat it as so much processing uses eggs and/or milk (would you believe most crisps contain milk or milk proteins?).

It's tricky having carnivorous foodie friends round for a meal when you live with a vegan. I've pretty much spent the last four years hoarding recipes that will mean nobody has to feel as if they're being deprived (and so that I don't have to bother cooking two separate meals!)

This lasagne is definitely one of my favourites, it tastes really indulgent. It's super high in protein due to the veggie mince and tofu, yet it's incredibly healthy, with loads of vitamins in and very little fat, unlike even the healthiest of normal lasagnes. If you've got time and are trying to be *really* healthy you could substitute some or all of the pasta layers with vegetables (courgettes, aubergines) sliced wide and thin and griddled with balsamic vinegar.

Nb. Tofu is a complete protein!


-Lasagne sheets (I use wholewheat but you can use the normal type)
-2/3rds of a pack of supermarket veggie mince (NOT Quorn if you want it to be vegan, sadly it has egg in! I tend to use Morrisons or Asda vegemince which is in the freezer section)
-2 chopped red onions
-4 large cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
- Tin of good quality chopped tomatoes
-Half a tube of concentrated tomato puree
-approx 200g of Tofu, drained and chopped into small chunks
-approx 1 cup of soy milk (preferably not Alpro - just any unsweetened supermarket type, you can get it everywhere now)
-Big bag of spinach
- 2 tbsps of nutritional yeast (available from most decent health food shops - tend to get mine from Out Of This World in Leeds)
-Basil (fresh is best)
-Glass of red wine (vegan if you can, or just use water if that proves difficult)
-Balsamic vinegar
-Olive oil for frying
-Salt and pepper

First preheat the oven to 180 degrees

For the ragu....

Fry the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, then add the vegemince and the chopped tomatoes. Squeeze in the tomato puree and gradually add the red wine/water, turning it down to a simmer. Throw in a hefty splash of balsamic vinegar (extra if you skipped the wine). Watch it and keep adding a little boiling water if it the sauce starts to get too thick - the vegemince has a habit of sucking up moisture as it cooks. After 10-15 minutes it should be nearly there. Turn it right down to the lowest heat and keep an eye on it - add more water if needed.

For the white sauce....

Wilt the spinach by chucking it in a colander, putting it in the sink and pouring a full kettle of boiling water over it. You may need to do it in two batches depending on how big your colander is. Put the wilted spinach in a blender with the tofu, the nutritional yeast, soy milk and a little seasoning. Blitz it all together - it should be quite thick, and an exciting colour (definitely not white, but I digress)

Now back to the ragu. This should be ready now. Season with salt and pepper and throw in a good handful of torn up basil leaves. Stir it up.

Line the bottom of your ovenproof dish with a layer of lasagne sheets. Spoon on the ragu, then a layer of the white sauce. Add another layer of lasagne sheets, another layer of ragu and another layer of white sauce. Keep going til you've used most of it up but a hold back a little white sauce. Finish with a lasagne sheet and spread a thin layer of the white sauce on top, stick a few basil leaves on (art!) and I sometimes put a few triangles of vegan cheese slices on top if I'm feeling fruity but it's completely non-essential.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes, then remove the tin foil and bake for approximately another 20 minutes to brown the top. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

It sounds like a lot of work but I promise it's not all that  - plus it's worth every second at the end! I'm a pretty lazy cook and if I can pull it off then anyone can :)

I'll have to wait until I've gotten over my fear of tofu before trying this, but I think it's a fantastic recipe, big thank you to Penny for this one!

Friday, 27 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week (NVW) Recommended Recipe

This recommended recipe is courtesy of @Artemisfoul1812.

Elizabeth's Mediterranean Lentil Stew


Brown lentils
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - crushed
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons capers
Handful chopped black olives
2 large ripe tomatoes - roughly chopped
Tin chopped tomatoes
Handful mint - chopped
Feta - chopped


1. If using raw lentils boil for around 20 mins till tender. If using tinned just drain and rinse
2. Heat oil in another pan, add onion, garlic and chilli flakes. Cook until onion softens
3. Add both types of tomatoes, capers, lentils and olives. Top up with a little water. You don't want too much. It's a stew so should be quite thick.
4. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins.
5. Add mint. Cook for a further 5 mins.
6. Serve in bowls with feta crumbled on top and a nice chunk or two of crusty bread

This recipe is right up my street, I adore feta cheese, I'm planning on making this tomorrow, I have the girls coming over for tea and they'll both love it!

Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your recipe!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week (NVW) Recommended Recipe

In another of my recommended veggie recipes posts @_jonb recommended a Cream of Carrot Soup by Anna Thomas.  Click the link to go through to the recipe.

Now this soup comes highly recommended to me, I don't like carrot soup, but Jon tells me he didn't either - until this one... So I can't let myself go another year hating carrot soup, when I love raw carrots and detest bolognese without carrot....

So I'm aiming to make this on Sunday/Monday and will report back!  Thank you Jon for the recommendation!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week (NVW) Recommended Recipe

Having had an unfortunate injury of late the poor @decknologist has been on a soup diet.  He recommends a Curried Aubergine Soup recipe from 200 Super Soups by Sara Lewis, but with minor amendments to use more garlic (I've doubled it in the listing below) and to make your own curry paste.

1 onion
2 aubergines
4 garlic cloves
4 tsp curry paste
1inch piece ginger, grated
2 potatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
75g red lentils
1.5 L veg stock
1 can chopped tomatoes

Fry the onions with the aubergine till the aubergine is browned.
Stir in garlic, curry paste and ginger.
Cook off for 1 min then add potatoes, carrots and lentils.
Cover with the stock and tomatoes and simmer for 30 mins.
Puree the soup and serve with some fresh coriander.

I love the sound of this soup and can't wait to give it a try - big thank you for this recommendation!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week (NVW) Recommended Recipe

As I mentioned yesterday I asked for recipes for vegetarian food on Twitter, and have lined up one for each of the days of NVW 2011.

First up is recommended by @AmalieBee a Butternut Squash and Pinenut Lasagne which can be found online here.

I really like the look of this recipe, I often find the white sauces of lasagnes too heavy, so I'm really intrigued by this one using Soya Milk.  I think I'll wait to give this a go myself until I move.  I'm the only one in my household that likes butternut squash so it's useless me making this one now, but it looks like a good one to make and then batch up for the freezer.

Ama tells me she's veggie because of the animal welfare issue, but that she doesn't feel the need to batter other into believing it too - and will even cook meat for others, which I think is very good of her.  Thank you for this recommendation, I look forward to trying it!

Monday, 23 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week (NVW)

So this week is National Vegetarian Week, a week to promote inspirational vegetarian food, and the benefits of a meat free lifestyle.

If I wasn't poorly, I have laryngitis - I think, purely self diagnosed, but I have no voice so all the signs point to it, anyway I'm rambling - if I wasn't poorly I would have embraced the week better than I have.  I've failed already by having spaghetti bolognese, with beef mince for tea.  I wasn't cooking it, and didn't feel able to turn it down without causing offence, having not already declared I was going to eat only veggie food this week.

Other than today's fail, I am going to be meat free for the rest of the week.

Anyway, so having a good nosey at the National Vegetarian Week website I think the biggest things that jump out at me on the Quick Veggie Facts page are the Environmental and Animal Welfare sections of the page. I personally found the Health and Nutrition bit the weakest part. 

I didn't realise that vegetarians don't eat fish - because I've met people who regard themselves as vegetarian who do eat fish.  Conducting a quick survey on twitter shows the same really, some people who identify themselves with being veggie eat fish, some don't.  I'm told it should be called Pescetarianism if you do eat fish, so I guess everyone has differing thoughts on it!

This evening I also tweeted out a call for vegetarians/ veggie recipes to get some recommended recipes for this week.  I've had a fabulous response and have filled the whole week with recommendations.

Today @monkeyson's veggie tip is about mixing proteins, Phil sent me this link: http://www.bodyforlife2.com/incompletprotein.htm which will give you some more info on combining vegetable proteins to make the equivalent amount of animal protein.  An interesting read!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Nigel Slater's Ricotta Pancakes

I made this for R on Friday, as a bit of a fancy brunch rather than do a fry up.  It wasn't a great success but I'll share it anyway...

I made a slight variation on Nigel's recipe, because I couldn't be bothered with the orange zest, and used summer fruits rather than just raspberries.

You can find the original recipe here.

250g ricotta cheese
4 tbsp caster sugar
3 eggs, yokes separated from whites
2 tbsp melted butter
50g plain flour
half a tub of frozen summer fruits

I mixed the ricotta, sugar, egg yolks and melted butter in a bowl and then added in the flour - if R had a sieve I would have sieved it in, but he doesn't so I tried to add the flour as gently as I could!

I whisked the egg whites until stiff and then folded them into the rest of the mixture.  Lastly I added the fruit, carefully combining it to try and avoid knocking all the air out of the whites.

I fried little dollops of the mixture until brown, then unsuccessfully attempted to flip them over.  I literally only got one right.

Doesn't look very appealing does it!

I'd certainly have another go at doing these, probably with some lemon zest added to them and blueberries as the fruit.  R was very polite about them and said they were OK - I wasn't very impressed though - but they were my first attempt at it.

Has anyone else had a go at making these?  The recipe is one from the Kitchen Diaries book, a bedtime favourite of mine - does anyone else read recipe books before bed? I find them really calming!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

An adaptation on Nigella's Flourless Chocolate Brownies

 I made these brownies on Thursday as a practise run for Chrissie's Bake Sale - which due to volunteering at the Hepworth Gallery opening today and being ill I'm unfortunately not attending now - or even able to get any baking over to Bingley.

Anyway - you can find Nigella's recipe here I used the same quantities of ingredients with the exception of the nuts, I substituted them for some Cadbury's Buttons.

I also melted the chocolate and the butter in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, rather than directly using a pan - that's mostly because I didn't bother to properly read my recipe book and just assumed you'd do it that way to avoid the chocolate burning!

I added the buttons at the end, hoping they may sink into the mixture - but they didn't.

After making them I've decided I'm actually not a fan of these brownies - I found that not using flour made them too squidgy, impossible to cut and very undignified to eat.  I'm not sure if the chopped nuts may make the mixture stand up to being cut and eaten better?

Have you made these brownies before?

Friday, 20 May 2011

Simpleton Supper - Chicken and Chorizo Pasta

I whipped this up for tea on Thursday in place of the stew I had planned, I didn't fancy potatoes and had a hankering for pasta...

1 Chicken breast
2 small red onions, roughly chopped
2 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
tinned tomatoes
fresh basil leaves
pasta (heart shape optional)

I chopped the chicken, the onions and about a third of the chorizo and then fried all that for five minutes and added the tinned tomatoes, a generous amount of paprika and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I left that to simmer gently while I cooked the pasta for 12 minutes.

When the pasta was done I drained it, took the chicken and chorizo pan off the heat and dished up.  I added the fresh basil at the end to give a bit of green to the dish, and add some aromatic herbyness.

A really simple but tasty meal.  If I did this again I'd probably add some garlic in too, and maybe some dried chilli's for a bit of extra heat.

My heart shaped pasta is from Millies Fresh and Organic in Leeds.

Monday, 16 May 2011

My first Meal Planning Monday

I've been following At Home With Mrs M for a while now, and always enjoy seeing her meal planning monday posts - this week I thought I'd join in for myself.

Week commencing 16th May:
Monday - Spag Bol
Tuesday - Stir Fry
Wednesday - Date Night - eating out
Thursday - Spanish Chicken & Chorizo Stew
Friday - undecided
Saturday - Sweet potato and chilli soup
Sunday - Roast Chicken, cauliflower cheese, green beans, roast potatoes

I'm a volunteer at the opening of The Hepworth Wakefield this weekend, I'm not sure if I'll be on a shift starting early or late on either of the days - or even what I'll be doing yet!   If I'm a late starting shift then I'm hoping to go on another date on Friday, if I'm in early then I'll be stopping in.

If I'm able to I'm hoping to crack out some baking on the Saturday night, and hotfoot it to Bingley on Sunday to drop off - I've mentioned it before, but there's a Charity Cake sale on for the MS Society in Bingley - more details here.  If it's not possible for me to make it then I'll be making a donation instead.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Jaipur, Armley

On Friday night I went to Jaipur in Armley, it was my second visit to the restaurant, but I've also had a few take aways from there since they opened last year.

The first time I went to the restaurant I absolutely loved it, so I went on Friday with high expectations.

Upon being seated we were immediately given some poppadoms and pickles, which I do like Indian restaurants doing and then being able to order more if wanted.

For my starter I ordered the Paneer Tikka, to plot it against the one I had at Aagrah a couple of weeks ago.

Although it was a little bit more burnt than I'd have liked I did enjoy it, and I do think that the quality of the paneer cheese was better than the Aagrah one.  My friend had Mushroom Pakora's, which were also nice.

For main I opted for King Prawn Masala, and R had Chicken Masala, from the Old School Favourites section.  I have to say that I love that Jaipur do that, they have their mains listed but if you want a particular curry they'll make it with chicken, lamb, prawns or vegetables.  We opted for naan breads rather than rice, and decided against side dishes with us having had starters.  I had a cheese and onion naan, R had a garlic and coriander one.

We had a short wait on R's naan bread, when it was brought over by one of the owners he explained it was because it had burnt a bit, and they weren't prepared to send out burnt food - you can't say fairer than that.

For my curry itself, if I'm honest I wasn't blown away with it.  When I went for the first time I had the Lamb Saag, which was delicious, and the person I'd gone with had ordered a fish curry - which was out of this world.  I think on this occasion I picked a boring dish, I should have pushed my boundaries a little.

The service at Jaipur is excellent, although R found them a little too attentive, for me I didn't mind it at all, I liked chatting to the owners - a brother and sister team.  They're lovely people who can't do enough for you.

There's even a chap outside on the car parking area, making sure people get parked OK.

All in all I enjoyed my latest visit, although I was disappointed with my food choice.  The bill came to around £37 for 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 naans, a diet coke and a pint of lager.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Leeds Best Blogs

I was gobsmacked when I saw a tweet today saying my blog was in Leeds Guide's best blog's feature!

Go have a look for yourself and see if you find any Leeds blogs you didn't know of before:


I need to get a print copy now too!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Aagrah - Leeds City

I went to the Aagrah on the evening of the Royal Wedding, after quite a few drinks in the Palace...

To start we shared some poppadoms and a pickle tray.  They weren't anything special, but just what the doctor ordered to start soaking up some booze.

For starter I had Paneer Tikka, and from looking at the picture I think my friend had Onion Bhaji's...I'm a little hazy on the details...

My Paneer was OK, I've had a much better version of this starter at Jaipur in Armley - if I'd never had that I wouldn't know that this was of a lower standard though.

For main I had Saag Gosht, Lamb with Spinach, and I'm not entirely sure from the picture what my friend had - anyone care to hazard a guess???

My Saag Gosht was spicier than I'd thought it would be, so I didn't eat much of it.  I did get a Cheese and Onion Naan though - which was delicious, so I was able to dip that in the sauce and eat it.

The bill for the two of us, plus a beer and a diet coke came to just under £40.

I'd go again if I was in the City Centre, it was clean, the staff were friendly, the food fresh and nice - but it just isn't the same standard that Jaipur was when I went there the week it opened.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Teriyaki Salmon

I used a recipe from BBC Food to make this, having never made it before.

I couldn't find maple syrup in Morrisons, well I could but it was £4 for a bottle of organic stuff, I couldn't see me using enough of it to warrant the price - so I used honey in place of it.

I chopped the garlic, ginger and chilli and then fried in fry light while my salmon was frying in another frying pan.  I like my salmon crispy so cooked it for longer than the recipe suggested.

While that was cooking I zested my lime and then added that to the ginger, garlic and chilli, then chopped it in half and squeezed in the juice.  I threw in the soy sauce (I just added a big glug of it, didn't really pay attention to how much) then added in 2 tablespoons of honey and left it to reduce down.

I cooked the salmon skin side down to start, for 4 minutes, then turned it over to the flesh side for another four minutes.  When that was done I added it into the sauce mixture to cook with that for a bit longer, and spooned the sauce over it to coat it.

While all that was going on I cooked the noodles.  When the sauce had reduced down quite a bit I turned the heat off and served.  I forgot to add the extra bit of lime juice, but I don't think it made a difference.


I think my sauce was probably too runny, so I'd add more honey and less soy sauce next time I do this!

Have you made Teriyaki Salmon before?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Nigella's Potato and Mushroom Gratin

A few weeks ago there was a bit of debate on Twitter about if you should post recipes from books on your blog.  The Hummingbird Bakery were getting a wee bit fed up of people posting theirs - especially when they posted them incorrectly.  I have to agree with them that it is unfair for people to pay full price for the books, when others are googling the recipes and using them for free, but then recipes are there to be shared on the other hand...

I'm in two minds about if I should post recipes I use from recipe books - I use a lot of internet recipes, so I don't mind linking back to them.  I think while I'm undecided then I won't - but if you'd really like the recipe then you could always email me and I'll send you it!

So the recipe I used is from my Nigella Express recipe book, I have the hardback one that is currently £16 new or £6.99 used on Amazon, well worth the price of the used one in my opinion.  I did make a revision to it though, the recipe called for full-fat milk, I always prefer skimmed, so I also added a wee bit of cornflower mixed with some more milk to thicken it.  I added much more wine than the recipe stated too...  I'm not drinking at the moment, but I think that having it in food will be OK!

As you can see mine was a wee bit on the burnt side - but I like crispy bits!  I have to say that if I made this for a dinner party I'd use cream, or full fat milk, it was on the runny side really - but for a family of fatties the less cream the better at the moment!

What are your thoughts on posting recipes from books?