Seedy Maple Granola

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After discovering a few months ago (after literally a lifetime of avoidance) that I’m not allergic to seeds I have been trying to eat them more often. This granola seemed an interesting addition to a breakfast repertoire which could do with a few more options.

I have to confess that despite oats supposedly being so good for you and porridge being fashionable and all, I just don’t get on with porridge, it’s not my thing (well, certainly not at the moment!). So this was a way to add oats too.

This recipe comes courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall whose recipe books I am very much enjoying at the moment. He has a way of making things seem approachable and I like that. It’s from River Cottage Light and Easy which is a book I’d actually put off buying for a while, thinking there would be nothing that appealed. This isn’t true but it took WHSmith having the book for only £6 (bargain!) for me to actually buy it.

You can probably find the recipe in a google books preview but here is my variation:

Seedy Maple Granola
Mix 120g porridge oats, 40g chopped cashew nuts, 20g pumpkin seeds 20g sunflower seeds and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add 15g light olive oil and mix well. Add 50ml maple syrup and 25ml water with a tsp vanilla extract and mix again. Tip onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 40-50 minutes at 150C. Remove and allow to cool when it smells toasty and delicious. When cold store in an airtight container for apparently up to a month.

I served mine with a chopped cox’s apple (so delicious at the moment) and some limited edition Yeo Valley spiced apple and quince yogurt (more new things to try!). I really enjoyed the granola as an added texture and flavour in my breakfast. It wasn’t as crunchy as I’d thought but bear in mind I’ve never eaten commercial granola. The warm toasty oaty, nutty flavours were great. The yogurt was good too, I’d recommend it.

Seedy Maple Granola

Miso Noodle Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

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A quick and easy lunch for one. Continuing my recent theme of trying new things, miso was next on the list (this post has been in draft so long that I’ve already published something else with miso; I think it’s safe to say I like miso!). In the same spirit I decided to combine things I had available and that I also wanted to eat (hence two kinds of noodle!) into a soup for lunch one day. I have to admit I’m not a big soup eater at all, certainly not for a main meal. But actually, this was really enjoyable and worked well for lunch.

Amounts are clearly to taste, and are more of a record for me of what I did than a suggestion to you as to how to make a definitive miso noodle soup. But if you want to follow them that’s ok too!

Miso Noodle Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 sachet vegetarian miso noodle soup paste (what a cheat!!!) I used ‘Itsu’ – it was on offer in one of the big supermarkets a while back.
20g brown rice udon noodles, 10g buckwheat noodles
Few small florets broccoli, tbsp frozen peas (10g), small carrot, peeled and sliced finely on the diagonal, small amount of yellow pepper, finely sliced, very small amount of fresh chilli, finely sliced.
Good splash of soy sauce, squeeze of lemon juice and toasted pumpkin seeds (about 5g)

Bring water to the boil, add the noodles (follow packet instructions, mine said 5-6 minutes). Add veg (earlier for softer, later for more crunch). In the meantime, toast the pumpkin seeds and make up the miso sachet (I added 150ml water but might add a little less next time).

Drain noodles and veg, add to miso soup, add soy sauce, lemon juice and pumpkin seeds.

Enjoy the umami of the miso and the freshness of the vegetables with the slippery noodles and crunchy seeds. Delicious.

Miso Noodle Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Gingered Miso Aubergine Noodles

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A fairly quickly idea for a tasty meal. I have long known that I am a salt fiend – I love soy sauce, olives, feta cheese and many, many other salty, tasty foods. To me, miso has a similar appeal and checking the packet confirms that it is in fact, high in salt. Yum. Miso is a recent discovery for me and therefore a current love. I cheated and bought some miso soup sachets which are a paste rather than a powder. I bought them a while ago and realised they are approaching their ‘best before’ and therefore needed to be used sooner rather than later. Not particularly a hardship! Another item in my kitchen in need of using up was an aubergine – it was beginning to go wrinkly and the stem end was definitely not good. In the interests of not wasting the whole thing I chopped that bit off and used the rest which was still surprisingly firm and good to use.

It’s a revelation to me that aubergine can be used in anything but ratatouille. That’s certainly the only way I had it before I left home many years ago. But it pairs so well with these flavours and becomes meltingly tender and delicious. I will definitely be making this again. The only thing I’ll change is to add some fried tofu for a protein component – I realised after making this that it was a little lacking in that department. A very successful combination of warming ginger, salty miso, melting aubergine, slippery noodles and fresh broccoli.

Gingered Miso Aubergine Noodles (based on this recipe)
Soften half an aubergine, chopped into pieces in about a teaspoon of oil. In the meantime, bring a pan of water to the boil for the noodles and broccoli. Mix a miso soup sachet with a small cube of ginger, grated, a teaspoon of mirin, half a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vinegar. An Asian style vinegar would be best but I used apple cider vinegar because that’s what I had. Add some boiling water and mix well. When the aubergine is tender and coloured, add the noodles to the boiling water and the miso mix to the aubergine. Simmer the aubergine while the noodles cook, adding the broccoli so that it’s tender when the noodles are done. Drain noodles and broccoli, add to aubergine mix and serve.

I’m going to share this with the no-waste food challenge. I am generally a bit rubbish at using things up so I was quite pleased to have rescued the aubergine in particular from the fate which would usually have befallen it, namely the bin (sadly there is no food-waste collection where I live).

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I’m also going to share it with Jac for her Meat Free Mondays. This was a great light lunch but with some tofu would make a more substantial dinner.

Gingered Miso Aubergine Noodles

Golden Syrup Ginger Cakes

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These were made as a thank you, to be given away. However, I am incapable of being truly altruistic so not only did I make cakes to a recipe that appealed to my cake-tastes, I kept a couple back, for testing purposes of course! The recipient may (or may not) read this blog but if they do, I think that they’d be pleased to know that I kept some back to test and thoroughly enjoyed eating them!

Anyway, I adapted the recipe from this one on the Lakeland website (it may become apparent in a future post as to why I was on the Lakeland website for inspiration…). The recipe makes 24 and I didn’t think that myself and the recipient could get through quite that many so the recipe amounts below are essentially half of the stated ingredients but with a couple of minor alterations. I was intending to do the orange flavoured icing as stated but have mislaid my orange essence so went with vanilla bean paste, full of tiny little seeds and packed with vanilla flavour. It was a good choice.

Golden Syrup Ginger Cakes
90g butter
90g light muscovado sugar
80g golden syrup
100ml milk
1 egg
165g self raising flour
1 1/2tsp ground ginger (I like ginger, so this is not half of the stated amount)
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the buttercream: Cream 75g soft butter with 150g icing sugar, a tsp of vanilla paste and a little hot water to loosen if necessary.

– Preheat the oven to 180C (just noticed that the recipe states 150C, well I used 180!). Line a muffin tin with 12 liners.
– Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the syrup and mix well.
– Add the milk, egg, flour, ground ginger and bicarb and beat until well combined and light in texture.
– Divide between the cases and bake for around 20-25 minutes until risen and golden. The syrup seems to make them colour quite quickly.

When cool, pipe on the buttercream icing and enjoy.

These were much, much lighter than I was expecting. For some reason I always think of cakes made with syrup being quite heavy and moist but these had a beautiful light, airy texture yet were still moist. The unmistakeable flavour of golden syrup came through well, and combined with the ginger to make these very enjoyable. I think they’ll also be good with custard for dessert and that will hopefully be the fate of the one which didn’t get any buttercream and is currently in the freezer.

I’m entering this into a couple of blog challenges: Tea Time Treats, hosted this month by Karen of Lavender and Lovage (and on alternate months by Janie at The Hedgecombers). The theme this month is Muffins, Fairy Cakes and Cupcakes. These fit in perfectly. I’m also entering it into Bake of the Week, hosted by Casa Costello.

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Bake-of-the-week

Golden Syrup Ginger Cakes

Pork and Pear

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I haven’t been a big meat eater historically. In fact there have been many periods of months at a time when the only non-vegetarian thing I’ve eaten has been parmesan cheese. But I’m not vegetarian and as I’m trying to broaden my eating habits and diet, more meat is inevitably going to be consumed.

It feels wrong when the majority of the population are cutting down on meat consumption to be increasing my own but there we have it, and it’s not like I’m eating meat at every meal, or even every day.

But this was dinner today. Soften a sliced onion and a sliced (small, hard) pear in a little oil. Get a pan of water boiling for the rice and veg (what can I say – I cook them together because I’m a lazy cook and have to do my own washing up!). When the onion and pear are starting to soften, add sliced pork (mine was simply sold as trimmed medallions) and seal both sides. Start the rice cooking, add the sour cream (I used 50g) to the pork and simmer, adding seasoning to taste. I added a little slaked cornflour to thicken but I’m not really sure it did! Add a little water if necessary. Add the veg about five minutes before the rice is done.
Serve and enjoy!

Pork and Pear

Maple Banana Cakes

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Caroline at Caroline Makes has a relatively new blog event – ‘Formula 1 Foods‘. She found that weekends in her household were revolving around the Grand Prix race and decided to take advantage of this and make something from the country where the race that weekend is being hosted. I’ve been watching the challenges, meaning to join in but not quite making it, or the country has been a little too challenging.

As a child our family calendar was partly dictated by the Grand Prix schedule too – Sunday lunch occasionally got shifted a bit, results of early morning races were to be avoided and the curtains in the room with the television (when families generally only had the one television!) were drawn and talking was forbidden. Woe betide you interrupting the commentary… So this challenge resonated with me!

I’m afraid this is not a Canadian dish, but the maple syrup is definitely a Canadian ingredient. The recipe came originally from a Sainsbury’s magazine calendar I think. I’ve never had the fortune to travel to Canada, but I would dearly love to one day; it seems like an amazing country.

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Maple Banana Cakes
50g salted butter
80g light muscovado sugar
105g self raising flour
40g maple syrup
1 egg
1 overripe banana (about 75g peeled weight)
30g raisins

Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180C. Grease a six hole muffin tin well with butter. Cream the butter and sugar together. My butter was soft enough to cream by hand – no mixer to wash up! The add the flour, maple syrup, egg and banana and beat well to combine. Fold in the raisins. Divide between the prepared holes of the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes (my timings are still based on a tiny oven – take care with your oven timings and just check).
When baked, turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

Just as moist and sweet as I remember, the cakes are close textured and delicious and the chewy raisins are great.

I’m linking up with Caroline Makes for the Formula 1 Food Challenge where this weekend the race is in Canada. I’m linking to Dom for Simply Eggcellent (anything goes this month). I’m linking to the No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary (thanks Elizabeth!) and finally to Bake of the Week at Casa Costello.

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Maple Banana Cakes

Smoky Bacon, Bean and Tomato Sauce

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This sauce made a nice, filling lunch one day, served with some very crunchy sourdough toast.

Smoky Bacon, Bean and Tomato Sauce
Soften 1/4 finely chopped red onion in a tsp oil. Add 1 rasher smoked back bacon, chopped into small pieces and leave to colour for a minute or so. Add 120g tomato passata, a good shake of smoked paprika and half a drained, rinsed 200g tin of butter beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for a few minutes while you toast the bread.

Serve! I like my sauce separate from the toast, that way the toast stays crunchy for longer.

Smoky Bacon, Bean and Tomato Sauce