Saturday, 31 May 2014

Cheat's Patatas Bravas

Cheat's Patatas Bravas
This is another one of my non-recipes, which seams almost too simple to be worth blogging, however it makes a cheap, quick and super-easy vegan meal which can be cooked in about 20 minutes.

Patatas Bravas should really served as a tapas dish, however, it makes a great camping/festival meal and is also good for an end of the week/month dinner, when the cupboards (and purse) are bare!

Serves 4
  • 2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil 
  • 1 kg/2lb bag of frozen potato cubes, almost defrosted 
  • 1 large jar of tomato and chilli pasta sauce 
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan/baking dish. Shallow fry or roast the potato chunks until cooked, crisp and golden brown (about 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally).
Throw in the jar of tomato and chilli sauce and any extras (see below) and heat through for a further few minutes until piping hot.

Serve with bread, olives and salad.

Alternatives: To bulk this out, add some extra veg/protein along with the tomato sauce (eg: a tin of drained beans/chickpeas/sweetcorn/sliced mushrooms/veggie salami/chorizo etc...anything ready cooked.). You could also swap the potato cubes for frozen chips, wedges or even hash browns.
For a cheaper version, use 'real' potatoes and a home made tomato sauce
Make individual portions and serve as a tapas dish whilst watching Spain play in the World Cup!

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

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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Salt of the Earth Rock Chick Deodorant - A review and giveaway

 Rock Chick natural deodorant
Crystal Spring, who already make the award-winning Salt of the Earth natural deodorants have just launched a new 100% natural deodorant for girls, called Salt of the Earth, Rock Chick.

Both deodorants are unscented, long lasting and good value for money. They are suitable for vegans and obviously are not tested on animals. They both contain naturally-occurring potassium alum and are suitable for young skin too (so are great for young adolescents, who might not need a strong antiperspirant). The Rock Chick solid crystal deodorant (priced at £4.96) is attractively packaged in purple and silver. My girls, who aren't particularly sweaty teens, found it easy to use and effective. 

They weren't as quite as keen on the 
Salt of the Earth Spray, as it goes on wet and takes a little while to dry, but they thought it smelt pleasant as a body spray. Although it has no added perfume, it contains  honeysuckle flower extract so smells faintly floral. I think it would work well as a body-freshening spray at festivals or during camping trips, when daily showering isn't always possible.
Salt of the earth deodorant
"A little bit of girl-power confidence for those who are starting to notice changes with body odour. Long lasting and great value, Rock Chickis kind and gentle to skin and kind to clothes. Being unfragranced it will work without anyone knowing it is there..." 
I have a set of Salt of the Earth deodorants (including one unscented full-sized spray, a travel spray and a Rock Chick, crystal stick) to giveaway, simply use the Rafflecopter widget and leave me a comment below, telling me your favourite smell! Closes Midnight 7th June UK only.
Integrity Statement
I received complimentary products to review and giveaway. The views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family.  a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you're not lucky enough to win this prize, Crystal Spring are currently hosting a giveaway for their new scented Salt of the Earth deodorant. Competition closes Sunday 8th June.
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Friday, 23 May 2014

Chana Korma - Mild Chickpea Curry (Vegan)

Chana Korma (mild chickpea curry)
It's a little late, but here's my post for National Vegetarian Week:

I often add chickpeas (chana) to my veggie curries or make a chana masala side dish, but I don't generally use them in a main dish curry. This korma recipe is tasty and filling enough to eat as a main dish, but can also be served as a side dish along with a paneer or vegetable curry. 

Don't be put off by the long list of can always use a ready-made curry paste to save time.

Serves 4 as a main course; 6-8 as a side dish
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cinnamon stick, broken.
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, ground
  • 1 large onion, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp chopped chilli (optional - leave out for a very mild, child-friendly curry)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 or 3 curry leaves (optional)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tins chana/chickpeas (I use the East End or KTC brands)
  • 1 cup/250ml of coconut cream or 2oz/50g creamed coconut (block) mixed with 1 cup/250ml boiling water
  • ½-1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp garam or korma masala
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
Heat  the oil in a large pan; and add the cinnamon and ground fennel seeds. Cook for a minute or so before adding the onion. Cook the onion on a medium heat until just starting to brown.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes.
Mix in the remaining spices (except the garam/korma masala) and tomato puree and cook for 2-3 mins.
Add the chickpeas, coconut cream and sugar, simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on, adding a drop more water if needed.
Stir in the garam or korma masala and simmer for a further 2 minutes.
To serve, garnish with the chopped coriander leaves.

Serve with rice/naan/chapatti for a cheap and filling meal.

Alternatives: If you don't have a good range of dried spices, simply omit the tomato puree and dried spices and replace them with korma curry paste. 
Add some fresh or frozen spinach, or sliced mushrooms along with the chickpeas.

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Friday, 16 May 2014

Vegetarian Chilli in Tortilla Bowls

Vegetarian chilli is a popular meal in my household, but it gets a bit boring after a while. After spotting various meat-based taco salad and Tex-Mex tortilla bowl recipes on Pinterest, I thought I've have a go at making a veggie version...

Serves 4

For the chilli, rice and bowls
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup vegetarian/vegan mince
  • 2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp finely chopped red chilli
  • A good pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ can red kidney beans or other beans, drained
  • 1 small can sweetcorn, drained
  • 250ml passata
  • 1 packet of microwave Mexican rice or ½ portion Mexican rice
  • 4 large tortillas
  • ½ lettuce, finely shredded
  • 1 green bell pepper, halved and finely sliced
  • 1 chunk of cucumber, halved, de-seeded and sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
Salad dressing
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp chopped coriander
  • 2 tbsp, chopped pickled jalapenos
  • ½ cup salsa
  • ½ cup guacamole
  • ½ cup mature cheddar cheese, grated (or vegan alternative), and/or soured cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
First make your tortilla bowls. I used this tutorial from The Yummy Life, but found they needed a little practice to get the timings right and that I needed to microwave them first for around 15 seconds, to soften them, before baking. If I was going to make these regularly, I'd invest in a set of Tortilla/Taco Salad Pans.

Fry the onion in a little olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minutes or two.
Stir in all  the spices and the oregano, then add the veggie mince.
Pour in the passata, beans and sweetcorn, and simmer for around 15 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the salad ingredients, mix the dressing together and set to one side.

To serve, heat the rice and divide between the tortilla bowls.
Spoon the veggie chilli over the rice.
Top with your choice of salsa, guacamole, grated cheese/vegan cheese and soured cream.
Sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve with a side salad. 

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Monday, 12 May 2014

Fragrant Heart: A Tale of Love, Life and Food in South-East Asia - A review

 Fragrant Heart
Food and travel are two of my favourite things, so when Miranda Emmerson, author of Fragrant Heart, asked me to take a look at her latest book (a memoir guessed and travel!), I was very happy to do so. I received my copy just a few days before going on holiday to Portugal, so I read the book lying under the Portuguese sun. A perfect combination!

Fragrant Heart tells of Miranda and partner Chris's travels through China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia during a 'gap year' which they decide to take before settling down to start a family (they've since had two children). Miranda, a  regular contributor to BBC Radio 4, interweaves her exotic travelogue with tales of her family background, her relationship with Chris and her worries of renting her house out, back home in Wales. 

The book takes the reader on an adventurous journey through S.E Asia, painting a picture not only of the sights of interest, but also of the culture, history, art, politics and cuisine of each region. Some parts of the book are touching, some fascinating and some are laugh-out-loud funny. 

Miranda, a long time vegetarian, struggles to find 'safe' food in countries which regard meat and fish an essential part of any meal...
"Are you a vegetarian? Want some advice? Don't go to China. No. Wait. Scrub that. Do go to China. Just don't try to be a vegetarian once you're there."
Detailed descriptions of the foods they discover on their travels are so vivid that you can almost smell the food cooking and taste the flavours as you read...
"Bolou fan is a sweet and sticky and imparts a feeling of childish decadence to any meal. A whole pineapple is served to the table stuffed with berry-black, steamed short rice. Lifting the spiky lid you uncover a pirate's chest of delight. Candied peel curls in little crystalline caterpillars on top of glistening, sugary delight."
Although not a cookbook, each chapter ends with one or two recipes from the region with both a meat-based and a vegetarian version of each recipe. I tried out the rather confusingly named fish-fragrant aubergine, which contains no fish at all! Fish-fragrant apparently describes the combination of seasonings which would traditionally be served with fish, but work equally well with vegetarian and vegan dishes:

Yuxiang Qiezi or Fish-Fragrant Aubergine (Vegan)
Sichuan cuisine is full of different preparations, ways of cooking things and sauces to cook them in. Fish-fragrant is a description given to this particular sharp and sour sauce classically served over aubergine. There are no fish products used in it. It is very spicy, so cautious first-time cooks might want to halve or even quarter the amount of chilli bean sauce they put in. Served over boiled rice with a handful of chopped spring onions and maybe some nuts on top, I think it makes the perfect winter lunch.

Serves 2 
Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
  • 5 Sichuan peppercorns 
  • 2 small aubergines 
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil 
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 2-cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine 
  • 2 tbsp Chinkiang black rice vinegar (available from most Asian grocers)
  • 2 tsp sugar 
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce 
  • 2 tbsp chilli bean paste (this can be found in Asian grocery stores and some supermarkets, under the Lee Kum Kee brand) 
  • 3 tbsp vegetable stock 
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
Toast Sichuan peppercorns in a dry frying pan for a minute and then crush. Set aside.
Make the sauce by mixing the rice wine, vinegar, sugar, soy sauces, chilli bean paste, stock and cornflour together in a small bowl.
Cut aubergine into bite-sized cubes.
Heat the groundnut oil in a wok over a medium to high heat. Add the aubergine and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until the outsides have browned. Add the garlic, ginger and reserved ground peppercorns and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Pour the sauce over the aubergine mixture and cook on a medium heat for 4 minutes, until the sauce has started to thicken.
Remove from heat and serve with spring onions sprinkled over.

I couldn't find rice wine, so left this out. The resulting dish was amazing, if a little on the spicy side, as I used the full 2 tbsp of chilli bean sauce; I made 2 versions: one as above and one with Quorn and mushrooms, which were equally tasty. Miranda recommend using different combinations of vegetables depending on which you prefer.
Fragrant Heart: A Tale of Life, Love and Food in Asia by Miranda Emmerson is published by Summersdale and is available from Amazon  and all major bookstores. 
I have a paperback copy of the book to give away. Just enter the Rafflecopter below by Midnight on 22nd May:

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Friday, 9 May 2014

Money-Saving Meals with Morrisons

Morrisons have always been known for their special offers, but they now have an I'm Cheaper price promise and a brand new online shop. I've sometimes used my local Morrisons as a 'top up shop' as it's local, however I very rarely used it to get my whole week's food shopping; as it's quite a small shop. I have recently tried shopping online with them, which worked out really well, as I found a much wider range of products at great prices.

I was lucky enough to be chosen by Britmums as a #MorrisonsMum to review the Morrison's shopping experience and shop for our Bank Holiday food. This was the first time I'd done a 'proper' shop in my local store and I was impressed at the range of products they now offer in store. I even found they stocked curry leaves, which have been eluding me for some time!

I planned my weekend shopping to include ingredients for:
  • Mexican taco/tortilla bowls with vegetarian chilli
  • Mushroom biryani, chana korma, paneer tikka kebabs and naans; fresh fruit salad
  • Vegetarian barbecue; mini strawberry shortcakes (recipe from Morrison's magazine)
I bought a wide range of foods and drinks including fresh fruit and veg, cheese, frozen foods and packet foods (including a bargain pack of dried spaghetti at only 23p for 500g!). As it was a bank holiday, I also splashed out on some rather nice wines, both on special offer (including a Fairtrade white) and some beer...

I was really pleased with both the quality of the produce and the prices. Quite a few items on my list were either on special offer or on a price promise, which made my shopping comparable, if not cheaper, than what I would have paid at any of the other major supermarkets. All the fruit, vegetables and fresh herbs that I needed were in stock and those which were left over after the weekend, have lasted well.

While I was there, I picked up a copy of the free Morrisons magazine and was pleasantly surprised at the number of tasty veggie recipes in it, alongside a feature on National Vegetarian Week. 

Miss K liked the look of the strawberry dessert page and soon whipped up a batch of mini strawberry shortcakes on her own. The recipe was simple to follow and tasted delicious, filled with Morrisons strawberries and cream. 

My shopping experience at Morrisons has made me more likely to shop there again (especially online) as I now know that it can compete with the other main supermarkets on both quality and price.

Vegetarian Sausage Kebabs (makes 4)

This veggie sausage recipe is super-easy and quick to make (makes a great camping meal too!).

Total cost = £2.67 or 65p per kebab
  • Quorn sausages (half price) £1.12
  • Bell peppers (half a pack of Morrison's bumper pack) 80p
  • 1 onion 10p
  • 1 pack button mushrooms 65p
Defrost the sausages slightly and soak the skewers in water.
Cut the sausages into thirds and cut the peppers and onion into chunks. Wipe the mushrooms.
Thread the sausages and vegetables onto skewers alternately and drizzle with a little oil or bbq sauce. Barbecue for around 10 minutes turning once or twice.

Integrity Statement
I received complimentary Morrisons vouchers to pay for the goods for this review. The views expressed are genuinely those of myself and my family.  Pin It


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