Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Spiced Roasted Summer Vegetable Salad with Millet, Peas and Lentils

We've been blessed with a good summer this year and my how we needed it after seven months of solid rain. Along with the good weather comes the picnic season. Eating outside with simple food that hasn't meant hours spent in the kitchen is what many of us are after - I know I am.

In a timely fashion, Clearspring has come up with a range of quick cook grains and pulses to enable meals to be prepared quickly and easily. All of them are organic and certified by the Soil Association, which, as many of you know, is the certifying body I trust the most. Clearspring kindly sent me the range to try out along with a bottle of tamari and a bottle of flax seed oil. Tamari is no stranger to this household. It brings out the flavour of whatever you are cooking and the umami boost it gives turns an ordinary meal into something delicious. Unlike shoyu or other soy sauces, it is wheat free, so suitable for those with a gluten intolerance. The flax oil is also organic and cold pressed. It comes as a blend consisting of 78% flax along with walnut, sunflower, olive and pumpkin oils. I've long heard of the wonders of this oil, but have not tried it until now. It contains various omega fatty acids which are said to help maintain a healthy heart and reduce blood pressure. It has a robust flavour that takes a bit of getting used to but is ameliorated by the walnut and other oils. It gave a good account of itself in a morning chocolate smoothie (recipe to follow in another post) and I can see it working well as a salad dressing too.

Slow food is all very well, but sometimes, life being as it is, fast food is welcome. All of this range fits the bill on that score, cooking as they do, in only ten minutes. The nice people at Clearspring have pre-cooked them for us - very handy. So far, I have used the 5 Grains Quick Cook to accompany another version of fasulye. This contains emmer wheat, barley, long grain brown rice, kamut Khorasan wheat and wholegrain oats. It was slightly chewy, but really rather nice we thought.

So, what about this picnic I mentioned earlier? Well, I decided to liberate the Quick Cook Millet, Peas and Lentils to accompany some roasted vegetables grown on our plot. This seemed like a nice way of getting a balanced nutritious meal with complete protein, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Talking of healthy balanced ingredients, no meal is complete without its quota of chocolate. My trusty bottle of spiced chocolate balsamic springs into action in moments such as this. The vegetables were tossed in it along with some sesame oil, tamari and Steenbergs hawaij spice mix. Then they were roasted and finely mixed in with the cooked grains and pulses. Packed into individual containers, they were transported to the site of the picnic and consumed with gusto. CT made appreciative noises and although he's not keen on being interviewed whilst eating, he described it tersely but sincerely as delicious.

This month's Vegetable Palette is all about the colours yellow and orange. As carrots are the main vegetable used here, I am sending this off to Shaheen over at Allotment 2 Kitchen.

Vanesther over at Bangers & Mash has given us free rain to use what spice we like for The Spice Trail as long as the finished dish is suitable for Beach & BBQ. Well this one is suitable for both.

If you're fast and your carrots aren't too dirty, you can just about make this in 30 minutes, so I'm also sending this off to Sarah at Maison Cupcake for Speedy Suppers. Happily, the theme is picnics.

The addition of chives means I can send this off to Karen of Lavender and Lovage for her Cooking with Herbs event.

print recipe
Spiced Roasted Summer Vegetables with Millet, Peas and Lentils
Summer vegetables tossed in spices, sesame oil, tamari and chocolate balsamic, then roasted and combined with cooked grains and pulses. Ideal picnic fare.
  • 6 carrots - scrubbed & cut into 4 cm batons
  • 2 handfuls French beans - trimmed & cut into 4 cm pieces
  • 2 courgettes - washed & cut into 4 cm batons
  • 4 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  • 1 red hot chilli - finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chocolate balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp tamari
  • 1 tsp hawaij spice mix
  • 10 chive leaves
  • 250g 250g Clearspring Quick Cook Millet, Peas & Lentils
1. Toss the vegetables, garlic and chilli in the oil, balsamic, tamari and spice, then roast in the top of the oven for 15-20 minutes at 200℃ until done.2. Cover the grains with about double the volume of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes and leave the lid on whilst waiting for the veg.3. Combine the two. Allow to cool, divide into four portable containers and snip some chives over the top. Or eat immediately whilst warm.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Rich Chocolate Scones

It's International Scone Week over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Now in it's fifth year, I'm quite shocked to find that I haven't participated since 2012. If you ever need a scone recipe, Celia's annual round-ups of all sorts of scones from bloggers around the world is a must.

Having only found out about the dates last night and with only a day to go before the deadline, I had no time to lose. W'd been planning to visit my mother today to check on the bees and to deliver a Welsh cast iron bakestone from CT's great grandmother. Well the weather is set to be fair, so a cream tea in the garden seems like a jolly good idea. I've made quite a few chocolate scones over the years, but I haven't yet used actual dark chocolate; cocoa yes, chocolate chips yes, white chocolate yes - time to complete the set. I've adapted my basic scone recipe, which is the one I grew up with, so apologies that the measurements are in ounces rather than grams.

A pre tea sampling session was in order - for quality control purposes of course. The scones are quite scrumptious. They're soft, not dry and richly chocolatey and they go fabulously well with blood orange curd. I don't like to blow my own trumpet too much (really), but these scones are an absolute triumph and the best I've tasted in a long time. Off we go!

PS - of the two accompaniments I took the blood orange curd was voted the favourite combination, but the blackcurrant and chilli jam was also popular. You can see this year's International Scone Week round-up here.

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Rich Chocolate Scones
Soft rich dark chocolate scones make an ideal base for cherry jam, blackcurrant jam or orange curd. Delicious warm or cold, but best eaten on the day they are made.
  • 8oz flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 oz salted butter
  • 3oz dark chocolate 70% - whizzed to a powder or grated very finely (I used Mortimer's Chocolate Powder)
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • 2 tbsp natural yogurt
  • about ¼ pt milk
  • 1 tsp maca powder (optional)
1. Rub the butter into the flour, raising agents and maca (if using) until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.2. Stir in the chocolate powder.3. Make a well in the centre and add the cream, yogurt and most of the milk (reserving some in case it is needed). Stir with a knife from the inside to the outside until the ingredients are just combined and form a dough - you may need to use the rest of the milk to get the right consistency.4. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1" thick then cut into rounds with a 2 ½ (6cm) cutter. You'll need to re-roll the cut out bits a couple more times.5. Place on a lined baking tray, brush with a little milk, then bake in the top part of the oven at 200℃ for 12 minutes. Place on a cooling rack.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Raspberry and White Chocolate Blondies

Tart juicy raspberries work exceedingly well when combined with sweet vanillary white chocolate I've found and this combination has become a particular favourite. When I was tasked recently with finding a recipe to make from Baking Mad, I was looking for a picnic recipe for a little jaunt to the beach. As soon as I saw the recipe for white chocolate and raspberry brownies, I had to look no further.

All that was needed was to buy some Cornish raspberries from our local greengrocer - mmmm. As I'd been sent some flour and sugar for the event, I tried to do as little tinkering as possible. So instead of using wholemeal flour as I normally would for brownies, I used plain white Allinson flour instead. My eggs were duck eggs, so larger than the eggs meant for the recipe, but extra egg is by no means a bad thing in a cake. I'd been sent some Billington's golden caster sugar, which is the standard one I use anyway, so felt justified in using the vanilla sugar I always keep on standby (a couple of vanilla pods in a jar of golden caster sugar, that gets refilled as soon as it is used). The only real change I made was to the name. In my book, brownies are made with dark chocolate not white. These cakes, made with white chocolate and including white chocolate chips too, are most definitely blondies.

This is how I made:

Raspberry and White Chocolate Blondies

  • Melted 115g unsalted butter in a pan over gently heat.
  • Turned off the heat and added 100g of chopped vanillary white chocolate (I used G&B). Stirred until more or less combined.
  • Whisked 2 duck eggs (can use large hens eggs) with 115g vanilla sugar (golden caster) until thick and frothy.
  • Folded in the chocolate mixture followed by 125g of sieved plain white flour.
  • Gently stirred in 125g raspberries and 60g white chocolate chips.
  • Scraped the batter into a 7" sq. silicone cake mould.
  • Scattered 40g white chocolate chips over the top and placed 12 raspberries onto what I imagined the middle of each future piece was going to be.
  • Baked for 30 minutes at 180℃ until the cake was risen, golden and firm to the touch with just a slight wobble underneath.
  • Allowed to cool in the mould then cut into 12 pieces.
Oh my days, these were good. They were perhaps a little cakier than I normally like my brownies and blondes to be, but robust enough for transporting to, and eating at, a picnic. As predicted the tart raspberries provided a delightful contrast to the sweet vanillary cake and the crunchy bits of caramelised white chocolate just added to the fun.

When choosing this recipe, I also had Tea Time Treats very much in mind, which is all about picnics. This month's theme was chosen by Karen of Lavender and Lovage. This blogger event is co-hosted by Janie of The Hedge Combers.

Using local Cornish raspberries in these blondes makes this post just right for Shop Local over at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.


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