Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Vegetarian Chicken-Style 'Parmesan'

I was trying to think of something different to cook for dinner the other night and turned to some of my favourite vegetarian blogs for inspiration. It wasn't long before I found this lovely, simple but tasty looking recipe from Mary at Meatless Mediterranean. Mary calls this dish Mock-Chicken Patties with Parmesan, and she has graciously allowed me to reproduce an Anglicised version of her recipe using UK ingredients/cooking terms (I have also tweaked the cooking method, to one which suited me better.)

I served this dish with penne pasta; all the family loved it and have asked me to cook it again soon (and it's not often that happens!)

Serves 4

For this recipe, I used Sainsbury's meat-free chicken style burgers (which only cost £1 for 4). I also used Sainsbury's basic mozzarella cheese and economy pasta, so I reckon the whole meal for 4 of us cost about £2.50 to make from scratch. It also only took about 30 minutes to cook.
You could also use Tivall schnitzels, Quorn chicken-style burgers or any of the other mock chicken fillets you can buy either with or without breadcrumbs. 
  • 2 cups/500ml of Classic Marinara Sauce or your favourite tomato-based pasta sauce
  • 4 vegetarian breaded "chicken" burgers
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese (I used a 125g ball of mozzarella instead)
  • 2 tablespoon grated vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese, plus additional for serving, if desired
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Heat oven to 180C/170C Fan/350 F/Gas 4.

In a small saucepan, heat the marinara sauce over medium-low heat until it is warm but not boiling.
Meanwhile, place the burgers in a heatproof dish and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the burgers from the dish and keep to one side.

Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce in the bottom of the dish. Top with the burgers and then pour the remaining sauce over. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top and then finish with the Parmesan-style cheese. 
Return to the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling . 
Once cooked, sprinkle with the parsley, if using.
Serve with additional Parmesan-style cheese for topping, as desired.

Alternatives: For a vegan version use a melting dairy-free cheese and vegan Parmesan.

Not suitable for freezing.

Recipe reproduced with kind permission from 
Meatless Mediterranean.

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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Spinach, Red Pepper and Goat's Cheese Quiche

The name of this recipe has given me a headache, as I'm a bit of a stickler for apostrophes being in the right place. Should I use goat's cheese, goats' cheese or just plain old goats cheese in this quiche? I came to the conclusion that goats' cheese was correct, as the milk making the cheese must come from more than one goat, however after googling and reading this amusing article, I've gone for goat's cheese. Please do leave me a comment, if you object to this and think I should have gone for goats' cheese after all!

Easy Pastry
  • 200g/8oz plain flour
  • 100g/4oz cold block butter, cut into cubes
  • cold water 
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (or blitz in the food processor for a few seconds. Add just enough cold water to bring the mixture together into quite a firm dough (I used 4 tbsp).
Wrap in cling-film and chill for at least an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 190 C/180 C Fan/ Gas 5/375 F
Roll out the pastry on a floured board and line a greased 20cm/8" sandwich cake tin or flan tin.
Bake blind for 12-15 minutes or until it's just starting to colour.
Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 170 C/160 C Fan/ Gas 3/325 F

  • 1 red onion, cut in half and sliced finely
  • 1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded and sliced finely
  • 75g/3oz washed baby spinach
  • 75g/3oz soft or hard goat's cheese (chopped or grated)
  • 150ml/5 fl oz double cream
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • ½ tsp ground fennel seeds
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan. Add the fennel seeds, black pepper, onion and red pepper and saute until the vegetables are soft and just starting to colour. Then add the spinach leaves and chopped dill and allow to wilt for a minute or two. Remove from the heat.

Mix the eggs, cream and cheese together.

Spoon the vegetables into the pastry case.
Pour the egg mixture over.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is golden brown and set firmly.
Serve hot, warm or cold with sautéed new potatoes and salad.

Suitable for freezing.

Alternatives: You could use almost any combination of vegetables in this quiche.
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Monday, 17 September 2012

Add an extra 5-a-day to packed lunches with Nākd - A review

I've been making packed lunches for my kids for 9 years now. When the girls first started school, I went to a lot of trouble making sure they had a different lunch each day, but after a few years, the lunches had basically turned into:
  • A carton of fruit juice
  • A sandwich/wrap/crackers
  • A piece of fruit
  • A yogurt/fromage frais
  • A snack - biscuit bar/bag of crisps/homemade cake or flapjack etc.
We were asked to try some Nākd products and as I'm always on the lookout for new products which will be convenient, tasty (and reasonably healthy) to add to their lunch-boxes, I accepted. Nākd fruit and nut bars, oaty bars and flavoured raisins are ideal healthy lunchbox products, as they contain a 5-a-day (and they're vegan). 
We tried 2 of the new fruit and nut bars: Caffe Mocha and Rhubarb & Custard. To tell you the truth none of us were very keen. The natural flavours added, masked the fruitiness of the bars (so they might be good for fruit haters!) but we all agreed that the flavours weren't particularly appealing to us. I've bought the oaty bars before, and we definitely prefer those to the fruit and nut bars.

The flavour-infused raisins were a different matter though! We tried both the cola and the lime raisins and we all loved them; they really did taste like cola and lime which was quite strange, but delicious! At £7.99 for 18 x 25g bags (with free UK delivery from Natural Balance Foods) they're not cheap, but I would probably only add them to the girls' lunch-boxes a couple of times a week, which would make them last a while. 

Find more vegetarian 
sandwich and packed lunch ideas here.
Integrity Statement
I received 4 Nakd products to try. I was not required to write a positive review and the views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family.  
Image used with kind permission from Natural Balance Foods ©

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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Farewell and bon voyage!

image from istockphoto
This is a sad post for me to write. I'm about to lose one of my oldest and closest friends (I'll call her Scarlet as I think she'd like that!), as she's emigrating with her family to Australia today. Well, I suppose I'm not really going to lose her as we'll be in regular contact thanks to the modern wonders of Skype and Facebook, but that's how it feels. 

Scarlet and I met at uni many years ago and soon realised we both had a similar outlook on life and taste in music (and luckily not a similar taste in men!). 

During our uni days, we passed many a happy hour at the student union when we probably should have been studying at the library or writing assignments, and while other friends moved on to pastures new, we remained living in the same town after we graduated. Our lives changed quite drastically over the years, but we were there for each other through the highs and the lows. 

We often moaned about our jobs and 
gossiped about our respective work colleagues, either over the phone or over a cup of tea and a piece of cake. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding and my girls were bridesmaids at hers; we celebrated our 30th birthdays together and commiserated when we hit 40! 
I'm not sure if she's ever read my blog (she knows I write one, but I haven't told her what it's called!), but if you do, Scarlet, I'm really going to miss you and my girls will miss your children just as much.

To make this post slightly food-related and slightly less self-indulgent, here's a photo of the Bon Voyage cake I made for Scarlet and her family!

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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Great British Bake Off - My daughter's first ever Tarte Tatin

Last week on the Great British Bake Off, the contenstants made their own rough puff pastry for a Tarte Tatin. I vaguely remember making rough puff pastry in home economics at school many years ago, and have never attempted it again since. I'm not a big pastry maker (or eater), but those tartes looked so delicious that I thought I might have a go. However, 13 year old Miss Only, decided she wanted to make one, and who was I to turn down such an offer? 

She used Sarah-Jane's Banana Tarte Tatin recipe, but swapped the bananas for apples...

Despite never having made pastry before, she found that the rough puff pastry was actually quite easy to make, with the help of a food processor. The caramel sauce was a different matter though, as the first batch didn't work - the butter didn't mix in with the caramel at all (when she swirled the pan as directed), so she took a spoon to the mixture and ended up with butterscotch! For the second batch, I suggested she melted the butter with the sugar and water before bringing it up to the boil and this worked much better.

I think the oven temperature needed to be a bit hotter than the recipe stated, as although she cooked the tarte for the recommended time, the apples released quite a lot of juice, which didn't 
evaporate, leaving the middle of the pastry slightly soggy. None-the-less, it tasted great and the grandparents were most impressed! 

This week's GBBO featured crème caramel, meringues and tortes - all of which sounded a bit too faffy to make, so we'll wait for next week and see whether to attempt another challenge then! Pin It


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