Monday, 15 August 2016

Very Green Salad with Rocket & Watercress

Salad with Rocket & Watercress
As you may have noticed from my previous post, I've been growing my own fruit and vegetables in raised beds this year, in an attempt to avoid the destructive deluge of slugs and snails. I must say, it's been pretty successful and I haven't had to buy any salad leaves for quite a while. As I'm now over run with rocket (arugula), I've been adding it to every salad I make, but haven't really allowed it to be the star of the show.

This very green salad is a great way to use up a glut of rocket and is a good source of vitamins, iron and calcium. The quantities are deliberately quite fluid, as you can use a mix of any salad leaves you have to hand, or need to use up.

Serves 4 as a side salad
  • 2 handfuls/cups of bitter salad leaves (rocket, watercress etc.)
  • 1 handful/cup of sweet salad leaves (lettuce, spinach etc.)
  • ⅓ cucumber, sliced
  • ½ green pepper, sliced
  • 50g/2oz green olives
  • 50g/2oz walnut pieces or pine nuts
For the dressing - mix these ingredients together in a cup or small bowl.
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (I used my Cretan Olive Oil from Arnaud Gillet)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
 NCRWash the salad leaves and blot dry.
Toss all of the salad ingredients together in a bowl.
Pour over the dressing and turn lightly to coat the ingredients.

Chill until needed. 

Keeps for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the fridge.


I'm entering this recipe to this month's No Croutons Required Challenge, co-hosted by Jacqui at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen

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Friday, 5 August 2016

My Kitchen Garden

This summer I've created my own kitchen garden in raised beds. I bought the raised bed kits from Wickes and built them myself; OK, with a little help from Mr.O! I filled the beds with a lasagne (layers) of peat-free bought compost, soil from the garden, garden compost and barbecue and bonfire ashes.

In an attempt to thwart the millions of rampaging slugs and snails which inhabit my garden, I surrounded each bed with about 20-30 cm of gravel. This does seem to be doing the trick, but I still need to pick out the little blighters which do make it across.

I'll admit that I've rather overcrowded the beds this year, but everything still seems to be growing well. I've planted just a few plants each of: runner beans, green beans, broad beans, courgettes, butternut squash (grown from seeds which I dried and saved from a shop-bought squash), tomatoes, herbs and chillies.

I've also been growing mixed salad leaves including lettuce, rocket and watercress.
As we eat a lot of salad and I like a bargain, I've come up with a thrifty way to grow salad leaves for the price of a couple of bags of shop-bought leaves.
  • Lettuce: Buy a 'growing' pack of mixed lettuce for £1-2 from your local supermarket, split them up and plant them out, you can start picking the leaves within 7-14 days and can be harvested for over a month if you keep them well watered.
  • Watercress: Just plant a few odd sprigs of left over watercress from a bag of salad. Look out for the pieces which have little roots attached to the base of the stems. Again, with a few weeks, they'll have spread and will be ready to start harvesting. I was quite amazed that watercress doesn't need to be grown in water!
  • Rocket: This is really quick and easy to grow from seed. Just sprinkle a row of seeds every couple of weeks and pick the larger leaves off as soon as they're ready.
My courgettes have just started fruiting and my runner beans won't be far behind, so look out for more recipes featuring my kitchen garden harvest.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Baklava (Vegan) - Suma Blogger's Network

For this month's Suma Blogger's Network post, I thought I'd make something sweet. As we're off to Greece for our holidays soon, I decided to make some baklava.

Baklava is a very indulgent Greek and Middle-Eastern treat, which usually contains copious quantities of butter and honey, but I've found that it's simple to veganise without losing any flavour.
  • 150g/6oz almonds
  • 150g/6oz walnuts
  • 75g/3oz hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pack filo pastry
  • 75g/3oz dairy-free spread/butter
For the syrup
Roughly grind all of the nuts in a food processor and mix in the ground cinnamon.

Grease a baking tin with some of the melted butter.
Line the tin with a sheet of filo, letting it drape over the sides of the tin. Baste with more butter and repeat several times until you have used half of the pastry.

Tip in half of the nuts and spread out over the pastry. 
Fold a couple more sheets of pastry and place them over the layer of nuts so they fit snugly in the tin. Baste with more butter.

Cover with the remaining half of the nuts.
Layer the remaining sheets of pastry over, basting with butter each time.
Finally fold the over-lapping sheets in to fully enclose the nuts.
Baste the top with the remaining butter.

Cut the 'pie' into small squares or diamonds, using a sharp knife, cutting through all of the layers carefully.
Bake in a pre-heated oven  at 180C/170C Fan/350F/Gas 4 for approximately 45 mins, or until the surface is crisp and golden brown.

Meanwhile make the syrup.
Mix all the syrup ingredients together in a pan and allow the sugar to dissolve on a low heat, stirring occasionally.
Suma Blogger's NetworkBring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

When the baklava is cooked, remove from the oven and poor the cool syrup all over the hot baklava.
Allow to cool in the tin at room temperature. Leave to soak in the syrup for several hours, before serving.


Integrity Statement As a member of the Suma Blogger's Network, I will receive a selection of complimentary products from Suma every two months, to use in recipe development, and will blog an original recipe for the Network.   
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Monday, 18 July 2016

Terre2Crete Olive Oil from Arnaud Gillet - A Review

Olive Oil from Arnaud Gillet
Well, I can tell you that it's not everyday that I 'm contacted by a French olive oil producer who lives in Crete and wants me to try his extra virgin olive oil, but that's exactly what Arnaud Gillet of Terre2Crete Olive Oil did! 

Ironically this was just after Brexit was announced, which made reflect on the number of European ingredients and cuisines we now enjoy in the UK, compared to pre-EU times. 

Regular readers will know that I use a lot of olive oil in my recipes and that I blog quite a few Greek recipes, so of course I was happy to oblige...
"My name is Arnaud Gillet. I am a producer of olive oil and I live in Heraklion, in Crete, with my Greek wife and our two children. Our olive trees grow naturally requiring only a minimum of maintenance. My work in the grove is to prune the trees and harvest the olive fruit. Our family olive oil is bottled in a certified facility here in Crete and then dispatched and stored in a storehouse in France. It is then delivered to your doorstep in just a few days by mail."
I was very impressed at the speed of delivery and the rustic and authentic packaging. The olive oil is also a good price for an artisan product, at just €10 per litre plus postage. When it came to the taste test, I tried the oil out on its own, in a salad dressing and in my cooking. As you'd expect from an authentic Greek olive oil, the Terre2Crete product was of a very high quality with a vibrant colour and a good pungent flavour. It was delicious on its own with some fresh, crusty bread to dunk in and was equally good in Greek dishes such as Boureki.

Arnaud also sent me some of his lovely olive oil soap and Greek oregano to try out, both of which matched the quality of the oil. The flavour of the oregano took me back instantly to my holidays in Greece!

For more information, or to place an order, visit Arnaud's website at My Olive Oil UK. 

 Integrity Statement
 I received the products pictured in consideration for a review . All views expressed are genuine.
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Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen - Review & Give-Away

New Holland Publishers
I don't actually blog many Italian-inspired dishes, but I do cook quite a few simple and rustic Italian dishes at home. That's why I was quite excited to receive a copy of The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen by Italian born author and journalist, Veronica Lavenia. This book isn't full of fancy ingredients and celeb-chef anecdotes. It's a book written with a passion for simple, healthy and easy-to-prepare vegetarian food.
"The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen represents the true contemporary culture of Italian homemade cooking that is both healthy and affordable for everyone."
The book is arranged in seasons, so is great for anyone who receives an organic vegetable box or has a kitchen garden or allotment. Not every recipe is illustrated, but each recipe is made from wholesome, fresh ingredients. Some of the specialist pasta shapes might be hard to come by in the UK, but I don't see why they can't be swapped for a penne, spaghetti or macaroni, if that's what you have in the cupboard!

Some recipes are vegan (or can easily be adapted by omitting the cheese!) and gluten free too, although, unfortunately, the recipes don't indicate this. Another small gripe, is the inclusion of non-vegetarian cheeses, such as Parmesan, but again, these are easy to substitute.

As usual, I had to try out several recipes, before posting my review. I really enjoyed eating the carrot and dried fruit salad as a side with the baked oven anellini. Both really easy to prepare using seasonal ingredients, but very tasty too.

If that's whet your appetite, I have a copy of The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen, published by New Holland Publishers, to give away.

Just enter your details on the Rafflecopter widget below and leave me a comment, telling me your favourite Italian dish. Competition closes at 12.00 am on Sun 10th July. UK ONLY.

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Tear 'n' Share Garlic Bread

Tear 'n' Share Garlic Bread
This garlic flat bread is really cheap and easy to make. It's great to share at buffets, parties and barbecues and can be easily adapted include your favourite toppings. I've included a vegan version, for anyone who prefers a dairy-free option.

For the dough
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3 cups strong white bread flour
  • 1 sachet fast action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
For the topping
  •  4 tbsp butter or dairy-free spread, softened
  • 1 tbsp fresh, chopped herbs (I used rosemary, oregano and parsley) 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan-style hard cheese (omit for vegan version)
  • A little coarse sea salt (optional)
If you have a bread maker add all of the dough ingredients to the pan and set on the dough setting.
If you don't have a bread maker, mix all the ingredients (except the oil and water) in a large bowl. Add the water gradually until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, until doubled in size.
After the dough has risen, divide into 2.
Stretch or roll the dough into two large, flat ovals and place on greased baking trays.
Brush a little more oil over the dough and sprinkle with a good pinch of coarse sea salt.
Using a pizza wheel, cut parallel lines across the dough, leaving a 1-2 cm border to hold the dough together (see picture)
Leave to rise for a further 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the garlic butter by mixing the butter, garlic and herbs together - reserve this for later.
Bake in a preheated oven at 220C/200C fan/Gas 7/425F for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Removed from the oven and spread half of the softened garlic butter across each flat bread. Sprinkle with the cheese, if using.
Return to the oven for a further 2-3 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tray and serving.
If freezing or re-heating later in the day, remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack.

Best served warm.

Suitable for freezing. 

Top tip: If you prefer to use fresh yeast, swap the dried yeast for around 15g/½ oz fresh yeast . Increase the flour to 3½ cups.

credit crunch munch
I'm entering this recipe to this month's Credit Crunch Munch , hosted by Tasty Appetite and founded by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours.


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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Ratatouille with Sautéed New Potatoes

Ratatouille: Provençal Vegetable Stew
I've only just planted out my courgette plants, but I'm already trying out some new recipes to use up the inevitable glut which will soon be on its way!

I've got to admit that I'm, generally not a big fan of ratatouille. Mainly because the vegetables are often stewed together, so some get over cooked and mushy, whilst others are still al dente. My version, takes longer to cook than most British versions of the recipe, but this more traditional way of cooking the dish gives it a better texture and taste.

Serves 4
  • 1 medium/large aubergine, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 medium courgettes, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, de-seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped or crushed
  • ½ tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh, chopped thyme
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh, chopped fresh parsley
  • black pepper, to taste
Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat.
Cook the aubergine for around 10 minutes, turning regularly. When the aubergine is soft, golden brown and releases its juices when pressed, it's done! 
Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen towel.

Add a further 1 tbsp of oil to the pan and repeat the process with the courgettes. They should take around 5 minutes to soften and brown slightly. Remove from the pan, as before.

Heat a further 1 tbsp of oil in the pan and repeat with the peppers. Cook for around 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and garlic along with another 1 tbsp oil. Sauté for a further 2-3 minutes.

Now add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
Throw the aubergine and courgettes back in and stir to combine.

*At this point, you can remove from the heat and chill until needed.

Continue to simmer, with the lid on for 15 minutes. 
Remove the lid and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until most of the tomato juice has evaporated and the vegetables are tender, but not mushy. 

*If reheating from cold, place in a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 30-40 minutes in a medium oven 160C/150C Fan/Gas 3/320F, until piping hot.
 meat free Mondays
Serve warm or hot with sautéed or boiled new potatoes. 

Top tip:  This makes a great vegetarian lasagne filling too.

I'm linking this post to the Meat Free Mondays round-up over at Tinned Tomatoes.

Take a look at these recipes from some of my fellow food bloggers, for more delicious courgette (zucchini) based dishes:

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
It's National Vegetarian Week once again, so here's a quick and easy recipe to show you that being veggie isn't all about lentils, and that life certainly is not too short to stuff a mushroom!

These stuffed mushrooms can be eaten as a starter, lunch or main meal, depending on the portion size and what you serve with them.

Serves 3-4 as a starter or lunch (2-3 mushrooms each, depending on size).
  • 8 or 9 large flat mushrooms (Portabello type)
  • 200g/8oz fresh spinach, washed
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  •  a little fresh nutmeg
  • 50g/2oz vegetarian Brie (rind removed), roughly chopped
  • 50g/2oz grated Parmesan-style hard cheese 
Put the spinach into a large bowl. Do not add any water!
Cover with cling film and microwave for 2-3 minutes on high, or until cooked. Allow to cool, then squeeze as much moisture out as possible, and chop or blend roughly.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan or griddle and preheat the oven to 180C/170C Fan/Gas 4/350F.
  
Peel the outer skin from the mushrooms and remove the stalks.
Drizzle the mushrooms with a little olive oil and cook for around 5 minutes on a medium-high heat, turning occasionally. Remove from the pan and place in a dish or on a baking tray.

Chop the mushroom stalks finely.
Gently fry the onion and mushroom stalks in a drop of olive oil for a few minutes, then add the garlic, nutmeg and parsley. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Then add the cooked spinach and cheeses and stir well to combine all of the ingredients.

Top each mushroom with a tablespoon of the spinach mixture (at this point you could chill the mushrooms and re-heat later).

Pop into the oven for 5-10 minutes to heat through.


 meat free Mondays
Serve with salad and bread. Not suitable for freezing.

Top tips: Cook the mushrooms on a barbecue. Top with the pre-made spinach mixture and warm through. These mushrooms would also make a tasty main course served pasta.

Vegan version: Swap the dairy cheeses for your preferred vegan cheese alternatives.

I'm linking this post to the Meat Free Mondays round-up over at Tinned Tomatoes.

 NVWVisit the Kitchen Table!
Celebrate your food, stories and traditions.
National Vegetarian Week 16 - 22 May 2016

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Sunday, 8 May 2016

Freekeh Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing - Suma Blogger's Network

Superfood Salad
This is my first attempt at a superfood salad, and I'm pretty pleased at how well it turned out... It's packed full of protein, fibre and vitamins, but still tastes great!

Thanks to the Suma Blogger's Network, I get to try out lots of weird and wonderful, new vegetarian products. This time, freekeh and pomegranate molasses were amongst my picks. For those of you who don't know, freekeh, pronounced free-ka (young, green wheat which is cracked and roasted), is considered both an ancient grain and a super-grain. It has a high fibre and protein content and is very versatile as it can be served hot or cold in place of other grains such as rice or quinoa.
Pomegranate molasses was a revelation to me, as it was far more tangy and flavoursome than I anticipated (I thought it would be sweet!), and gives a great sweet and sour flavour to a dressing.

Serves 4 as a lunch or side salad; 2 as a main meal

For the salad

  • 1 cup freekeh from Suma
  • 2 cups veg stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ teaspoon lightly toasted cumin seeds, ground, more to taste
  • 2 bell peppers,deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups of butternut squash or sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup of button mushrooms, halved
  • 4 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • a small bunch of chopped, fresh mint
  • ½ cup crumbled feta (optional)

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses from Suma
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6/400F

Put the peppers and squash into a roasting pan and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil.
Roast for 20-30 minutes until softened and starting to brown.
Add the mushrooms, chickpeas, pine nuts, cumin seeds and crushed garlic and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for around 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the freekeh and stock into a large pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Simmer, with the lid on, for 20-25 minutes, or until the grain is soft and just starting to break up.
Drain well and allow to cool for around 15 minutes.

Mix the dressing ingredients together and stir into the warm freekeh.

When the freekeh and vegetables are still just warm (but not hot!), mix together to combine.
Add the mint and feta, if using.


Suma Bloggers' Network
Serve warm or cold.

Keeps for up to 3 days in the fridge; not suitable for freezing.

Vegan option: Omit the feta or swap for vegan feta or halved olives.

Integrity Statement
As a member of the Suma Blogger's Network, I will receive a selection of complimentary products from Suma every two months, to use in recipe development, and will blog an original recipe for the Network. 


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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Fattoush Salad

Fattoush Salad
I've been cooking a lot of Greek and Middle-Eastern food lately, and after a delicious meal out at a Lebanese restaurant, I thought make a maza (a selection dishes to share). This was one of the dishes I prepared, which makes a nice change to a traditional salad.

Serves 4
  • 1 cos or 2 little gem lettuce, shredded
  • a good handful of rocket
  • ½ cucumber, de-seeded and sliced
  • 2-3 ripe tomatoes de-seeded and diced
  • a handful of radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 spring onions (or ½ red onion), sliced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • a small bunch each of fresh parsley and mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small pittas
  • sumac
dressing
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp sumac
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
Brush the pittas with olive oil; and sprinkle with sumac.
Grill or bake until crispy and golden, then set aside to cool. Break into pieces when cold.

 NCRMix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Add in the prepared tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, spring onions and herbs. Stir well to coat. These ingredients can be set aside and chilled until needed.

Before serving, mix in the salad leaves and the roughly crushed, toasted pittas.

Top tip: To make this into a delicious, healthy lunch, simply mix in a tin of drained chickpeas and serve with pitta and your favourite dip.

I'm entering this recipe to this month's No Croutons Required Challenge, co-hosted by Jacqui at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen


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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Hummus - Middle-Eastern Chickpea Dip

I am a little ashamed to admit that I've never made traditional hummus, using dried chickpeas before. Having made this version for my blog, I've been converted! It really does taste better (and is far cheaper) than making it with tinned pulses. Yes, it takes longer to make,but you can make a large batch and freeze in small portions to make it even more economical.

Serves 8 as a starter or meze dish
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked over night with a good pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • a large pinch of salt
  • juice of 1 lemon (plus the zest for a more lemony flavour)
  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 tbsp cooking liquid, or more if needed
  • paprika and a glug of extra virgin olive oil to garnish
Drain the soaked chickpeas and put in large pan. Cover with boiled water and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda and bring to a simmer. Simmer, in a covered pan, for 1 hour on a low heat.
When tender, drain the pulses, reserving the cooking liquid.

Whilst still warm, place the chickpeas in a blender with all of the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to make a smooth, spreadable paste. 
Taste and add more seasoning and/or garlic, if needed.
Spoon into a bowl and chill until needed.
Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.

Serve with fresh bread, olives and salad.

Suitable for freezing; keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Top tips: Double this recipe to make enough to batch freeze. 
If you don't have the time to make hummus using dried pulses, try my quick and easy recipe instead. You might also like my mixed bean and basil hummus.

Flavour options: Omit the cumin and add some extra ingredients into the blender, along with the chickpeas to make these different variations...
 NCR
  • Red pepper and sweet chilli: Add ½ cup of chopped, roasted red peppers (from a jar) and 1-2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce.
  • Piri piri: Add 1-2 tbsp of your favourite piri piri sauce. 
  • Caramelised onion: Add 2 tbsp of caramelised onion chutney.

I'm entering this recipe to this month's No Croutons Required Challenge, co-hosted by Jacqui at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen

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Saturday, 27 February 2016

Leon, Birmingham - a review

Leon fast food restaurant Birmingham
Although I'd heard of Leon as a brand, I'd never visited one of their restaurants before, so I was quite excited to be offered the chance to experience their take on 'naturally fast food' at their new branch at Birmingham New Street Station.

The Leon restaurant chain was designed to offer something a bit different to other fast food establishments...good, healthy food with Mediterranean flavour.
"...we asked ourselves: why can't fast food be good food? We opened Leon because we wanted to prove that it was possible to serve food that both tastes good and does you good. We want to make it easy for people to eat well on the high street. When we looked around for inspiration, we were drawn to the richness, flavours and natural healthiness of Mediterranean cooking. We base our food around the Mediterranean diet, meaning our menu focuses on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds and unrefined cereals." 
sweet potato falafel hot box
Although they only offer a few vegetarian options (including a couple of vegan choices), they all appealed to me. I was particularly pleased to see that they also offer a healthy vegetarian kids' meal, which is a rare occurrence in fast food restaurants. I went for the sweet potato falafel hot box and Miss K opted for the halloumi wrap.

Within a few minutes of ordering, our food was ready. Mine was presented in an attractive box and Miss K's was wrapped in foil. My falafel were topped with grilled red peppers, served on a bed of rice and accompanied by a fresh, herby salad. Miss K's wrap was packed full of grilled halloumi and tasty salad with aioli dressing. We also tried some baked lattice 'fries' and had a bottle of zingy, still lemonade to drink.
Service was polite, friendly and efficient and the restaurant was very bright and clean. The only negative was that the door was left propped open the whole time we were there, which made it quite chilly on a cold, wet day in February!

Leon menu
Of course, using healthy and fresh ingredients costs more than 'junk food' but our two meals with a side and soft drink each, still came in at under £20, which I feel was reasonable for the quality and portion sizes of the food. Our overall experience was very positive. For fast food, our meals looked and tasted really good and both Miss K and I said we would certainly eat there again.

Integrity Statement
I was offered two free meals at Leon, in consideration for a review . All views expressed are genuine.

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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Gemista; Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers with Potatoes

Gemista, YemistaGemista (pronounced yemista) is one of my favourite Greek vegetarian dishes. It normally consists of a large tomato and a pepper stuffed with a herby rice mixture and baked in the oven. However, it sometimes contains minced beef or pork, so be sure to check before ordering this dish in Greece!

My version is vegan, but it is traditionally served sprinkled with grated cheese.

Serves 4-8 depending on appetite. 

For the peppers
  • 8 small-medium bell peppers
  • 1 cup risotto rice
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup water/stock (plus more to top up)
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp each of dried oregano and dill
  • 2 tbsp each of chopped fresh parsley and mint
  • a good pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper to season
For the potatoes
  • 10-12 small-medium potatoes, peeled and cut into haves or quarters, depending on size
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped or crushed
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup water/stock
  • ½ cup Kalamata or Halkidiki olives
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/170C Fan/350F/Gas 4

First prepare the peppers, by slicing the tops off (reserve these) and de-seeding.
Place in a large, deep, heat-proof dish.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in pan.
Sweat off the onions and garlic for a few minutes on a low heat.
Add the rice and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add all of the remaining ingredients and stir well.
Simmer with the lid on for around 7-10 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is half cooked. 
Spoon the rice into the raw peppers (they should be about ½-¾ full).
Fill each pepper to just below the top with boiling water or vegetable stock and pop the 'lids' back on the peppers.

Prepare the potatoes and scatter randomly amongst the peppers.
Top the potatoes with the chopped tomatoes and other ingredients.  
Drizzle the peppers and potatoes with the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour. 
Check after an hour to see how tender the potatoes are; turn the potatoes carefully and if not tender, recover and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.
When the potatoes are soft, uncover and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, to colour up.

 Cooking with HerbsServe with a seasonal salad.

Top tip: This recipe is easy to scale up  to serve a large crowd and can be prepared in advance and cooked when needed.

Not suitable for freezing.

I'm linking this post to Karen's latest Cooking with Herbs linky at Lavender & Lovage. 

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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Warming Winter Vegetable Soup

Warming Winter Vegetable Soup
This warming, winter, vegan soup is packed full of seasonal vegetables and cold-busting ingredients! It's a lovely acid-green colour and tastes great with fresh, crusty bread.

Serves 4
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped 
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • half a head of broccoli (inc. stalks) chopped
  • ½ chilli, de-seeded and sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh/frozen ginger
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp of garam masala 
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
Prepare the vegetables and cut into large chunks.
Sweat the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil for 3-5 minutes.
Add the spices and cook for a further minute.
Add all of the remaining vegetables.
Cover with the stock and bring to a simmer.
Simmer with the lid on for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
Add the coriander leaves and blend to desired consistency.

Garnish with a little extra coriander to serve.

 Credit Crunch MunchSuitable for freezing.

I'm entering this recipe to this month's Credit Crunch Munch , hosted by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours.



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Sunday, 3 January 2016

Packed Lunch Pizzas

So, it's back to school tomorrow, and as Miss K isn't too fond of sandwiches any more, I've made a batch of mini pizzas for her packed lunches.

I've recently been converted to baking with fresh yeast as it makes a softer bread, which stays fresh for longer; I buy my fresh yeast, from Ocado and then freeze it (you might be able to buy it from your local bakery or supermarket), but you can easily substitute it for dried.

Makes 8 small pizzas (each pizza serves two young children or one teen/adult)

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 cups strong white bread flour
  • 1 cup strong wholemeal bread flour
  • 12.5g fresh yeast or ½ sachet dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar

Toppings

  • tomato puree
  • dried herbs/oregano
  • grated mozzarella
  • olives
  • finely chopped/sliced vegetables

Put all of the dry ingredients in a bowl (or bread maker) add the wet ingredients
Mix well until you have a smooth dough (on dough setting in bread maker).
Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Cover the bowl and allow to rise in a warm place for 30-60 minutes (or allow dough cycle to run).

Preheat oven to 220C/200C/Gas 7/425F

Divide dough into 8 pieces. Flatten into 7" circles, spaced well apart on greased baking sheets. Spread with tomato puree and sprinkle with dried herbs. Add cheese and toppings and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Place onto a wire rack to cool.

When cool, pack into a freezer bag and freeze until needed.

Simply remove one or more pizzas as required, defrost for 15 minutes at room temperature, slice and pack in your lunchbox.

Vegan option: Swap the mozzarella for your preferred dairy-free, melting cheese.

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