Friday, 27 March 2009

Fathers day cake of the chocolate and orange variety

This was a rapido(fast fast) cake I made for my love as it was fathers day...
I should have written papi ,but no, I wrote popi(the equivalent of daddy or doddy)...
Endless designs, symbols and words are possible on this cake...
Just remember to spell properly...

Preheat the oven to 180c...
Grease a baking tray(6x10 inches)

Mix together..

300g white organic flour
25g soya flour
60g maize flour(semolina)
20g baking powder
200g sugar

Have another bowl ready for chocolate mixture

Mix the liquids
300ml sunflower oil
150ml soya (or other) milk
200 to 250ml water

Add dry ingredients to liquids..
Beat well.

Separate a portion of cake mixture to the awaiting bowl and add cocoa powder(a good dutch or 75% cocoa gives a fuller flavour) to taste and maybe with a bit of vanilla essence or choosen alcohol.
The larger portion of cake mixture add juice and rind of one orange(I used a natural organic orange essence instead...if using juice cut back on the water )
Pour orange mixture into the tray and smooth out to the edges...
Then with the chocolate mixture write your choosen words...
examples..hearts,love,some ones name,or abtract like a pollack painting...
Back for 25 minutes doing the skewer test as I,ve mentioned in previous cake recipes...

As with all vegan(egg free) cakes let cool completely before attempting to cut it.
The mixture needs to be quite liquidy dont worry if it seems like a lot it will turn out perfectly
You could always change the flavours...
Just keep the mixtures different colours or tones..

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

puy lentil,potato and parsley salad

Happy springtime people!

I love puy lentils.I love their nutty earthy flavour.I love that they cook quickly and keep their shape.This is a fairly poderoso(powerfull) salad and super healthy.Pity about the picture(says perfectionist and self critical Jean)but heh its a new blog and I,m learning.I love parsley with this salad...its pure earth pleasure...

the vinegrette..
olive oil
white wine vinegar
dijon mustard
pinch of dried parsley
bigger pinch of dried tarragon
salt and pepper

Sweat some leeks finely diced in a wee bit of olive oil and a dash of water.
Finely dice carrots(organic or local with real flavour)and add to leeks.
Finely dice celery and add to leeks.
Meanwhile cook and cool lentils.
Same with potatoes cook and cool.
Stir in vinegrette with loads of fresh parsley.

I didn,t put exact measurements ...if anyone needs them just ask..
The salad can be served hot,cold or warm...

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

super rapido postre(super fast desert)


In the space of two minutes...or less.
Place granola in a bowl.
Mix unsweetened greek yoghurt with ginger syrup(or syrup of choice).
Spoon yoghurt mixture on top of granola with some chopped fresh mango on top.
Consume in one minute or less and lick the bowl.

Monday, 23 March 2009

cute cubes

okay...4 pictures of the same thing is quite a lot but I couldn,t choose.I think they are all so cute!
It,s baby food for my 9 month old daughter that I freeze when I make too much...then I can defrost the quantities I need after.I know fresh is best..but some days you cant cook just 3 spoonfuls of rice or 1 spoon of lentil stew.
On days when you don,t have time Mamas freezing baby food in ice cube trays is fantastic.You can freeze stews,soups,stock,fruit and veg purees,cooked rice,millet,quinoa,buckwheat....then mix and match what you need for your baby.
It doesn,t just have to be for baby either, if you need a wee bit of buckwheat or rice to stuff a vegetable just defrost what you need.
The three cubes above are brown rice,leek soup and lentil stew.Anouk particularly loves lentils(full of protein and iron) and I mix this stew with millet,polenta,mashed potatoes(which for some reason do not freeze well)..maybe with some fresh parsley which another superfood full of calcium and vitamin c.
These cubes are for babies over 9 months...for younger babies you can freeze fruit purees and pureed sweet potato,brocoli,pumkin or pureed rice or porridge.
They are also much better for your baby than any ready made jars which I wouldn,t trust with a bargepole...(not counting organic or wholefood jars...which I want to trust)....
They are salt,sugar,preservative and colouring free...oh I could go and on...and I intend to..but another day...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

planting seedlings

These are garbanzos or chickpeas...its a little experiment.I,ve never planted these before.They are so pretty and delicate.

Heres the warmest room in the house...
the winners so far.. in growing the quickest is the cilantro(coriander)
closely followed by basil.
we have a sick aloe vera who got an attack of frost but is recuperating...if anyone has any advice on nursing it back to help please let me know.
I love the light in this room warms the heart that spring is here.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Coriander and almond pesto

Take one bunch of coriander,one clove of garlic,half a handful of almonds(raw if you want a smooth paste-toasted if you want some texture),squeeze of a lime or a lemon,chopped and seeded red chilli(about a thumbnail size),olive oil (about a tablespoon).Liquidize until you have a smooth paste and salt to taste(or more lemon,chilli or,s all about playing folks...see what you like)
I make this always as a thick paste with a layer of olive oil on top will keep for weeks in the fridge.its greated oiled down as a dressing,or on pasta,or on crostini,or in thai curries,or,or ,or....

parsnip pilaf

When I was small I never liked parsnips because we always had then boiled and I thought the taste was too overpowering...until I tried them roasted,now thats another story altogether(meaning its so good-it rocks).They turn milder,sweeter and less earthy.

Get 4 or 5 parnips (organic if possible )give them a good scrub ,top and tail ...then cut into bite size cubes.If they,re not organic you,ll have to peel them as all the pesticides get trapped just under the skin..but unfortunately all the vitamins too hang out by the skin(the choice as always is yours señores y señoritas)
Pop then into the oven18oc with a wee bit of olive oil and roast until soft.
Fry 1 or 2 onions diced finely in olive oil until transparent and soft.
Add dried thyme,tarragon(I,m still playing with it),dried parsley-all to taste.
Add crushed garlic and cook for a minute or so.
Then throw in a handful of chopped walnuts,the roasted parsnips and some cooked brown rice.
Salt it and pepper it ,then scatter some fresh chopped parsley on top...

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Banana cake and confession time

Apart from the first few recipes of this blog(choc chip cookies,cheesey quiches, more cookies),I,m actually(don,t like that word)a quite healthy person.
I have something to admit...
I,ve changed from Vegan back to Vegetarian.
To any vegans out there this is a strange concept...maybe it seems like a sell out,cop out...or that I don,t care.But using these pages I,d like to explain...maybe to myself and certainly to all vegans out there.
I grew up in a farm in Ireland and at the age of 12 or 13 I decided to go vegetarian.I remember seeing a dog on the telly and for some reason I burst out crying ,ran down to my room and told my mum that I couldn,t eat meat anymore.
Cows for me were like the dogs or cats we had.They were my childhood friends each with different names and personalities.And when one disapeared,and I,d ask what happened they,ed say it died.So I,d look for the grave on our small 80 acre farm ,wouldn,t find it but instead find the freezer full...the penny drops.
In secoundry school few (if any?)were vegetarians and trying to explain to people why I was,was hard.Afterwards in college I went thru my punk phase...the idealistic hippyside of punk...I became interested in what the large multi nationals were doing(many destroying)to this beautiful planet.I read about the horrors of factory farming and animal testing.My idealistic bubble that I was in was now completely burst.
I tried to change the art work in college was all about teaching the world...protesting against fox hunting...and hare coursing...
At the same time a good deal of my friends were veggie and vegan.I learned of making cakes without eggs,icecreams with soya milk,vegan pancakes...really I learned how to cook.and because of being vegan and wanting to change peoples eating habits I tried not to just make cakes or food the same as orginal recipes but better.
Eating beliefs maybe are like a type of religion,until you begin to question it.I almost became fruitarian at one stage after reading that trees give out shock waves of warnings to other trees when someone is cutting it down.The argument of feelings ,of feeling pain is doesn,t justify eating without considering this...but I can,t judge anyone, nor do I have the right to,nor do I want to.Judging is to me ugly and unfair.

Anyway back to why I changed again...I,ve been living here in catalunia for 7 years Barcelona there is an abundance of food...but compared to Ireland or England few vegan options in cafes or restaurants.Then with my move to this small village even less options...i.e. pan con tomate,pan con tomate or pan con tomate(bread with crushed tomato and olive oil).Don,t get me wrong I like pan con tomate but not everyday everywhere.And now for some reason almost everyone I now know eats meat and in spanish it gets tiring trying to justify ones beliefs.
I think with the birth of baby Anouk all has changed in my world.I want to teach her to enjoy food,be conscious of where it comes from,whats good for her.I maybe selflessly want my bones to be okay.I was okay during pregnancy ,vegan and healthy .I had cravings for tofu and seaweeds.I believe in listening to your body for good and bad cravings.But recently I got continuous cravings for cheese ..more and more.I,d take a curious nibble shocked that I,d even consider the idea.And then one day I declared I wanted to change and did.I still don,t quite get it,understand why but I like it.I now eat cheese but organic and from small farms and free range local eggs...I enjoy it and feel like I,m discovering food all over again...theres so much I haven,t tried.
Now two months later I,m eating probably 90% vegan but still happy with my decision...sorry for my rant ...I think I might have to continue this on a later date ...if anyone has been in a similiar situation I,d like to hear.
But for now I,ll frivolously give you this banana cake recipe and hope someone enjoys it.
Banana cake...
300g white organic flour
25g soya flour
40g polenta(better to use maize or semolina flour-I ran out)
20g baking powder
1 teaspoon vanillla sugar
50g brown cane sugar
400g banana
100ml sunflower oil
50ml olive oil
150ml soya milk
200ml water
Mix all the dry ingredients together .
Blend half of the bananas with the oil and water.
Chop the other half of the bananas into small cubes.
Mix liquids and dry ingredients together ,then fold in cubed banana.
Pour into 2 small loaf tins..or two 8 inch sandwich cake tins....bake until well risen...browned on top and do the skewer trick...
Place skewer into cake if it comes out clean its done.
I made this cake for a mamas and babies meeting thats new in the village.
I tried to put as little sugar as possible and it was still sweet enough with the bananas.

fennel salad

Pick a beautiful spring day...

Slice two small delicious bulbs of fennel as thinly as possible.

Combine lemon juice and olive oil with a wee bit of sea salt and black pepper.

Eat and enjoy...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Getting the garden ready for planting

Work started in January to be honest,pruning hedges and cutting off branches of the lime tree...we shall let the light in this year!we had to cut alot of one tree(type unknown)because it had earth and water inside, poor bunny hopefully the amputation will make it healthier..

I,ve been very busy as of late.Cleaning(its spring),Facebooking (my new addiction) and getting the garden ready for planting....that means looking for caca or or cow is the best.Also from the compost bucket which I works...and you know exactly whats going into your soil and veggies.
Here,s what we planted ...
Basil big leaf
Basil small leaf
Purple Basil(milder with an almost minty hit)
Orange scented thyme
Aloe veras
And there will be more...half are outside in the greenhouse that my better half made and half are inside in the warmest sunniest room.I,ll write more about the garden as a way of learning what works and does,nt...oh God I cant wait for peppers and fresh basil....

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

wild rosemary

My days of buying rosemary are long gone...a five minute walk to the mountain...

roast artichokes with lemon dip

This is one of the simplest and most delicious ways of eating artichokes.Roasting enhances the flavour and the bottom of the artichoke becomes wonderfully caramely and crunchy..

First remove extra leaves on the stalks.
Cut the very tip of the stalk.
Cook artichokes in boiling water untill you can sink a fork between the base and the stalk.
Remove and drain of water.
Cut off stalks.
Place artichokes bottom side down with stalks alongside(they are so yummy)on a oiled(olive)baking tray with a chunk of lemon tucked into the top and a few garlics( with skin on) thrown around artistically.Awee bit of coarsely ground sea salt and pop into a hot oven..200c untill the bottoms are well brown (see photo above)
Take out the garlic when soft,this might be earlier than the artichokes or not.

Beat lemon juice and olive oil with a wee bit of salt and pepper.(and roast garlic if wished)

Gingerly stare off leaves, dip in the lemon mixture and thank the universe for artichoke season and their existense..

Monday, 9 March 2009

sweet and spicey fonio cake

Fonio is a type of millet from West Africa.It has all the 8 amino acids,is high in B vitamins ,calcium,iron,folic acid,zinc,magnesium and potassium...It is one of those superfoods that I,m going to harp on about quite a bit....
This cake was deliciously moist with relatively low sugar due to the carrot and apples and its vegan and its healthy...yeah!

preheat oven 180c ...

307g wholewheat flour
27g soya flour
60g maize flour(semolina)
1og dessicated coconut
87g raisins
20g baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar
100g sugar
1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/8 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/16 teaspoon nutmeg
1/32 teaspoon of love

mix the dried ingredients above together then add..

270g cooked fonio or millet(cold)
80g grated carrot
130g grated apple
300ml sunflower oil
150ml soya milk
200ml water
1 dessertspoon plum(or other) jam
rind of 1 lemon

Mix all ingredients together,beat well and fill a rectangular baking tray(10x15 inches) or two 8 inch cake trays.Bake for 25 minutes or until you pinch it with a skewer and it comes out clean.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Aubergines stuffed with quinoa,smoked tofu and black beans.

This was one of those quicky dinners turned good...
For two...
Cut two aubergines in half ,place on a baking tray with a dizzle of olive oil and whack them into a hot oven(250c),turning occasionly until soft and browned underneath...
Meanwhile defrost tomate sauce(see January blog)and a hand full of frozen black beans(or fresh or other cooked beans)and let them simmer in a saucepan.
I added a wee bit of dried tarragon because I,m growing it this year and need to start playing with it, as I know little or nowt about this herb. The only way to get to know a herb is by experimenting and tasting.

In a frying pan I fried some diced smoked tofu until crispy.At the end I put a splash of soya sauce,put a lid on it for spatter relief and let it cook for a minute more.(this soya smoked tofu is great for pizzas rissottos et al)

In another saucepan I cooked some quinoa.Wash it well first then boil in ample water until soft.I saved some for my wee baby(9 months old on the 3rd)as its high in protein,calcium and iron.
Mix the tomatoe beany mixture with the tofu,
quinoa,some chopped parsley, fried garlic and a splinkering of smoked paprika.

When the aubergines are done...scoop out a small bit of the flesh...mix with lemon juice(a squeeze),crushed garlic(to taste),coriander powder(a pinch), tahini(as you wish) ,olive oil,water, salt and pepper.This is the sauce done.hurragh!

Spoon the quinoa tomatoe mixture into the aubergines and serve with the above sauce.ummm
We ate these with a simple mixed leaf salad with balsamic vinegar,olive oil salt and pepper...also ummmm

village window

This why I love living here.Theres a sense of timelessness...I,ll throw in a few photos every now and then of Catalunya and village life....maybe a collection of doors and windows..

Sunday, 1 March 2009

tortilla de spagetti or spagetti omlette filled with tapenade,borlotti bean stew and parmesan

One of my favourite things to do is make something delicious out of nothing...or leftovers.Leftovers always form part of the following days food.The word" leftovers" does not sound appetizing but I think every cookery book should have a section for leftovers and what to do with in honour of that great word I give you the spagetti omlette......

step one.. remove cooked spaggetti from the fridge
other steps...heat frying pan -throw in a splash of olive oil-then spaggetti(roughly a plateful)for a few seconds..
throw in 2 beaten eggs (with a splash of milk and salt and pepper)...
lower heat,flip over when cooked underneath and brown otherside..

There you have it.

I filled mine with homemade tapenade ,a borlotti bean stew (also leftover) and a wee bit of grated parmesan