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Sunday 28 September 2008

I'm back. And I'm cold!

I'm back from beautiful cyprus and am wishing that I was still lounging on a lilo in the pool with a mojito, instead of thinking about going back to work and no doubt a fistful of shit landing on my desk as it always does when I've been away.

But anyway, I managed to take some food pics while I was away (and got really REEEEALLY bored of replying "IT'S FOR MY FOOD BLOG!!" everytime someone asked/ why I was taking pictures).

Pasta primavera - no cheese.

Dolmades - rice and veggies wrapped in vine leaves - SOOOO Yum!Inside shot of the dolmades

Vegetarian platter 1 - loads of grilled veggies, plus the usual side order of chips AND rice.

Vegetarian platter 2 - veggies stuffed with rice and the bestest roast potatoes in the world EVER!

Amazing local bread with cumin seeds on top and fresh hummus

Sal & Em style

Sweeties, ignoree the pink and white ones though - they had dirty gelatine in so I didn't eat those!

Some rice salad my mum made to go with the barbecue we had, with some garlic bread and spring rolls also visible.

And lastly - the stuff I couldn't leave behind: gorgeous pittas, pasta, limes, veggie stock cubes and tinned tomatoes and a tin of hummus! Never seen tinned hummus - will get back to you on whether or not it's rank!

Lastly - a quick shameless plug to say please go vote for my cupcake!! There's only a couple of days left.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an iron can ....

So here it is, my first entry into the Iron Cupcake challenge. I’ve seen this on a few blogs and it looked like so much fun I had to take part! (Details of Iron Cupcake can be found here.)

This month’s ingredient was basil. I spent ages trying to come up with ingredients that would compliment basil and not make my cupcake taste like a salad gone wrong. What I came up with was lime & ginger.

The smell of these is gorgeous but also weird because cake just shouldn’t smell of basil!! But they are surprisingly delicious and I would make them again!

I had grand ideas of a topping made from almonds but it just didn’t work the way I wanted it to, so I went with a buttercream flavoured with fresh lime, fresh grated ginger and a basil leaf dipped in chocolate and a big glob of green food colouring for good measure. I’m really happy with the way they came out!

Here is my submission:

Sal’s Basil, Lime & Ginger Cupcakes
Dry Ingredients:
2 cups plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
Zest of 2 limes
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ cup crystallised ginger, chopped
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp dried ground ginger
Wet Ingredients:
Juice of 2 limes
¾ cup non dairy milk
⅓ cup sunflower (or other light) oil
2 tbsp ginger jam
½ cup basil (not packed just lightly placed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup vegan margarine
¼ cup vegetable shortening
3 – 3½ cups icing sugar (depending on the desired consistency
Fresh lime juice (up to 1 whole lime)
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
Green food colouring (optional)
Optional Decorations:
Slivers of lime zest
Basil leaves dipped in melted, dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

Mix together all the wet ingredients, including the basil and blend with a hand blender until smooth as you can get it.

Mix together the dry ingredients, then pour the wet ingredients in and mix until just combined, don't overmix.

Pour into muffin tins and bake for around 25-30 minutes, until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Cool in the tins for at least 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack until completely cold.

To make the frosting, cream together the margarine, shortening and icing sugar with a fork. Add the lime juice a tbsp at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add the ginger and food colouring bit by bit and beat with an electric hand beater till the icing is fluffy and smooth. Pipe or spread onto the cupcakes and add a chocolate basil leaf if required.

Here’s a bonus pic as well.... I split the batter between a muffin tin and a sheet pan and cut a couple out with a square scone cutter, to make a couple of square cakes. I sandwiched these together with buttercream and then decorated the top with stars of buttercream and a chocolate basil leaf.

The winner of this month’s challenge gets prizes provided by Etsy Artist METAL SUGAR so be sure to head on over and have a look, and don’t forget to visit the sponsors of the challenge too:

HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson

Voting starts Sunday over at NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKE IN A CORNER - so go vote for me! Pretty please. And if you want to sign up for next month’s challenge go on over to
Cooking to: Chemical Brothers - Brotherhood

That’s probably it from me until I get back from holiday, so hopefully I’ll be posting pics of delicious foodz from Cyprus in just over a week.


Sunday 14 September 2008

Lazy Cow

I haven't done very much cooking this weekend, because I have been feeling lazy and just wanted to sit on my arse and watch Alias instead. And my parents took me out for dinner on Saturday. So for now, here are a just a few stored up pics from the week.

Pasta with a cheezy sauce (that's just the white sauce I used for my lasagna in this post) with some sweetcorn added. The salad was a surprise hit! It was just some blanched broccoli and frozen peas, some cherry tomatoes, butter beans and a simple flax oil / cider vinegar dressing with a bit of chilli and salt & pepper. Dress the veggies while they're still warm! yum yum.

This was dinner for me and my best friends, well actually this is the leftovers the next day that I added some mushrooms and seitan to. It was a veggie casserole done overnight in the crockpot and them some quick dumplings done the next day and baked in the oven.

For pudding I made us spiced cookie dough ice cream. I think I got the flavour spot on but I only had light soy milk and a little soya cream so the texture isn't quite there. I definitely want to try this again soon so I can perfect the recipe.

Today's brekkie: pancakes with a simple syrup made by boiling together 1/2 a cup of blackberries, 1/4 cup maple syrup, juice of a mandarin and a grating (tsp or so) of fresh ginger. Then I pushed it through a seive. It makes enough for at least 2 people - so the rest is sitting in my fridge awaiting use.

And today's lunch - minted pea and watercress soup. I was a bit disappointed with myself on this one. It was nice but nothing to write home about and definitely not worthy of posting the recipe. I might give it another go though - I think it's got potential.

I also baked some bread today. It was yummy but I can't take too much credit for it, it was a packet mix. It has inspired me to maybe give making bread a go myself.

And lastly, but not leastly, tonight's dinner. I had a harlequin squash sitting in the fridge a day over it's sell by date! They're pretty things but I got my knife stuck in the bugger trying to cut it up! It was like excalibur trying to get the damn thing out. Anyway I perservered and amazingly managed to not cut myself - and made it into a veggie curry. I was feeling way too lazy to toast and grind spices so I just used ready ground spices, a tin of tomatoes and a mini can of light coconut milk (I love those mini cans!). I served it with jasmine rice that I cooked in my steamer.

I served it as a circle of rice with the curry in the middle because that's how my mum used to dish up curry! :)

Cooking (curry) to: Stevie Wonder - The Definitive Collection

Ooh ooh - this time next week I'll be in cyprus! HUZZAH!

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Squidgy chocolate mess = love!

I have an awesomely chocolately recipe for you today - my take on brownies. They weren't exactly what I was going for but they are still fabulous!

These brownies are super squidgy and soft (even if you keep them in the fridge, there's no chopping one off and picking it up - they squidgy!), they're not too sweet but they are chocolately and delicious and with a bit of tang from the berries.

Here they are straight out the oven....

Sal's Squidgy Booze-berry Brownies

2 flaxeggs (2 tbsp ground flax seeds whisked together with 6 tbsp water)
3 tbsp Cointreau (divided)
1 small punnet of raspberries (170g)
⅓ cup / 50g vegan chocolate chips
Dry Ingredients:
1 cup / 130g plain flour
¾ cup / 150g demerera sugar
½ cup / 50g cocoa powder, sieved
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Wet Ingredients:
1 cup / 250ml cold water
½ cup / 125ml sunflower (or other light) oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.

Then, whisk together the flax seeds and the water for the flaxeggs and set aside.

Pour 2 tbsp of the Cointreau over the raspberries, mix gently until the berries are coated and then set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl (make sure you sieve the cocoa to get rid of the skanky gritty lumps).

Whisk together the flaxeggs, the 3rd tbsp of Contreau and the rest of the wet ingredients, then pour them into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Lightly spray a baking tray with sunflower (or other flavourless oil) and tumble the raspberries/Contreau in.

Pour the batter on top of the raspberries and smooth over. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and bake for 30 minutes.

The cocktail stick test won’t be very accurate as these will still be soft in the middle but it will come out pretty much clean.

Leave to cool completely in the tin. I keep these in the fridge in the tin and just spatula a bit out when I want one! You can put them into a tupperware but you’ll have to go careful when you take one out as they’re very soft.

Here's one up close & personal

Dinner for the last two days was sun-dried tomato seitan - basically, that's my variation on Julie Hasson’s sausage recipe but made into patties instead. These were sooooo good. I have posted my version at the end of the post, but credit still goes to the original recipe for proportions on gluten / liquid and cooking method.

Yesterday I lightly pan fried them and served them with some steamed mange tout, white bean mash (idea stolen from Nigella), and red pepper sauce. The sauce was an experiment, basically I used the veganyumyum recipe for the creamy tomato sauce that I love, but I used a roasted red pepper, 4 cherry tomatoes and left out the tomato puree. It was GOOD!

Today I pan fried them again and served them with some broccoli, sweet potato fries and some cherry tomatoes roasted in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then sprinkled with finely chopped basil.

My variation of the seitan (I only make a half batch as it's just me)
Good handful (about 8) sun-dried tomatoes
½ a small onion, chopped into small dice
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Dry Ingredients:
1 cup + 2 tbsp (145g) Vital Wheat Gluten
¼ cup (4 tbsp) Nutritional Yeast
2 tbsp gram (chickpea) flour
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp sage
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp cumin
Pinch (⅛ tsp) chilli flakes (optional)
Wet Ingredients:
1 cup + 2 tbsp (280ml) cold water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbs ketchup
¼ tsp liquid smoke (optional)
1 tsp vegemite or marmite
½ tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil

Pour boiling water over the sun dried toms and cover the bowl with a plate or clingfilm, and set aside.

Saute the onion in a tsp or so of olive oil for 5-10 minutes until soft and browned. Add the garlic near the end and cook for a minute or so, then set aside.

Then combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together the wet ingredients.

Chop up the sun dried toms and throw them into the wet ingredients, with the onions/garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and stir until it forms a dough. You don't even need to kneed!

Drop 1/4 cup of dough per patty into a piece of plastic wrap, smoosh them out and wrap them up. Then steam them for 25 minutes.

They taste best if you pan-fry them, until just very lightly brown, in a spray of olive oil before serving.

Makes 4 sausages (use a 1/2 cup measure) or 8 patties (1/4 cup measure).

Bonus pic - I managed to get the pics from London off my phone. They're really not that bad quality - it's just a combo of filthy windows (eww) and poor lighting!

View from my window: My giant room!


Monday 8 September 2008

Do these tacos taste funny to you?

HURRAH! Exams are over and now I can chill out and get excited about leaving for a week in Cyprus in 13 days!

I actually had a good trip to London. My hotel room was bigger than my flat (and I'm not exaggerating) and had a nice view of the London eye and the river. I took some pics on my phone, will post them when I work out how to get them off the phone!

I also had 2 good meals! TWO! And one bad one, but I'll not say any more about that. The good - a lovely italian meal, where they made me a risotto with loads of fresh greens like spinach, peas, green beans and asparagus! YUM (wish I'd taken my camera!) And then dinner at Wagamamas - one day I will manage to recreate yasai itame. One day it WILL happen!!

But back to food I cooked. Some of these are from the week before I went and some are from after I got back on Friday.

Firstly, my adventure with tacos!! I have never made tacos before and they were quite possibly the messiest thing I have ever cooked!! I bought some taco shells and some chipolte paste (awesome stuff) and decided to have a go.

I forgot to buy lettuce, didn't have any soy cheese or vegan sour cream. But anyway, I knocked up a filling made of tomatoes, spices, onions, peppers, tofu and cannelini beans, some home-made salsa and a blob of mayola. The stupid taco shells didn't stand up so filling them was interesting and getting a photo was almost impossible. This messy bugger is about as good as I could get.

They were flippin tasty though!

This post wouldn't be right without some baking! I made wheat-free lemon & poppy seed muffins for breakfasts this week. I am planning to try these again with some different flour, because they were a bit powdery and I'm not sure why yet. The flavour is spot on though - it's just the texture.

Last night's dinner - tofu & veggies in a spicy tomato sauce with cous cous. MMMMM!

Last week - I fancied pasta bolognaise, so I went for a mushroom bolognaise. This lot .....

... became this:

Saturday's breakfast! Potatoes roasted with some olive oil, oregano & paprika, with a tofu scramble that I threw some fresh tomato and basil into right at the end.

Saturday's dinner: a REALLY spicy stir fry with fresh chilli, ginger, brown rice and a peanutty sauce that I threw together. Was sooo good.

That's all for now.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Wish me luck!!

Tonight I'm going to London and tomorrow and Friday I sit my NEBOSH exams. I'm now entering panic mode and starting to worry that I'll never know everything I need to know.

These exams mean a lot to me and my job and I haven't sat exams in years. Well I have, but none this difficult or scary.

I'm trying to stay positive and hope that I can waffle my way to a pass mark if I forget things.

Wish me luck and I'll be back with food pics over the weekend. Or maybe just pictures of commiseration cocktails!!