Wednesday, 22 April 2009

pink soba noodles

Beetroot adds a magical colour to everything it touches..hands,tabletops,cutting boards...but I love the transformation it adds to the brown noodles and especially the mushrooms(pink mushrooms!).I think colours of food effects us tremendously...when you don,t want brown it up a bit with pink!

Cook soba noodles.
Rinse in cool water ,drain and leave to one side.

Prepare the vegetables.. Slice mushrooms,carrots,fresh beetroot,asparagus and garlic. In a small pan toast sunflower and pumpkin seeds...until they brown slightly..then remove from the pan. Heat up a wok to a very high temperature. Add some oil. Immediatly throw in vegetables... stirring constantly for a couple of minutes. Throw in a spoon of sundried tomato purree and some water when it seems too dry(the steam from the water cooks the vegetables fast but don,t put too much in..just enough to stop from burning). Enjoy the lovely pink colours of the vegetables. Add the noodles and stir well adding more water..again just enough to stop from burning. Plate up and springle liberally with seeds.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Whiskey leek rolls...with a walnut ,apple,potato salad and goats yoghurt dressing

We went to visit friends the other day in their Masia(Catalan gorgeous stone farmhouses)and when leaving we were given a pressie of two fat leeks and loads of asparagus.The asparagus was grilled and eaten with alioli...and this is what happened to the leeks ....

Cut the green part of the leeks and bottom part .
There before you ,you,ll have two white rolls of leeks.
Insert a sharp knife in one end and rotate and twist the same at the other end until you have a hollow in the centre.

Now for the filling...
Saute finely diced green peppers,red peppers,a wee bit of courgettes,a wee bit of onion and garlic and black olives(all choped small) in olive oil until soft.
Add a sprinkle of fresh thyme.
At the end of cooking put up the heat and add a gurgle of whiskey .
The heat evaporates the alcohol but leaves that lovely flavour.

Wrap the leek rolls in tin foil with some stock and olive oil inside.
Place on a baking tray and cook in the oven (180c)until soft.

The salad...
Wash and chop...lettuce greens and apple.
Add diced cooked and cooled potatoes.
And walnuts(freshly shelled).
Mix a good few dollops of organic goats yoghurt with a few splashes of white wine vinegar.
Salt and pepper it.
Scatter with chopped chives.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Pumpkin,coconut and almond soup

Saute two onions finely chopped in olive oil.
In another saucepan heat up some olive oil and pop in some chopped red peppers, cover and let them brown up slightly until soft(alternatively you could use roasted peppers).
Add chopped celery and carrot to cooked onions...then cooked peppers...then roasted pumpkin(I had some could use fresh).
With just enough stock to stop from burning...let the vegetables cook until soft.
Add a can of coconut milk and enough almond milk to give it the consistency you want...salt and pepper to taste.

I cook my vegetables separately alot of the time because I like to respect their true nature..sounds pretentious I know...but believe me its true...
Adding fresh peppers will not give you that lovely sweet flavour...same goes for the fresh pumpkin.The almond milk gives it an added bonus prize of calcium for all....

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Lentil Dhal for Cami...

Little lentil loving....

This was the filling for the stuffed potatoes.I don,t ever weigh vegetables or spices for curries...because I think it depends on the personal taste of who you,re cooking for...or your mood on a particular day....if I had my way I,d overload on cumin and chillies(dry or fresh)....

Chop and saute onions...until translucent.
Add two or three chopped garlic cloves and chopped fresh root ginger.
Dice carrots,a wee bit of celery,red peppers,courgettes and continue to saute.
Add cumin seeds,coriander seeds and crushed cardamom....and curry powder(garam marsala or blend of choice)
Add a cupful of red lentils.
Pour some chopped diced tomatoes(or organic tinned tomatoes) and some vegetable stock....enough to cover the lentil and veg mixture.
Cook until lentils have softened completely.(if nessesary add more liquid)
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes on dhal making...
Loads of onions are essential ...Cook them well before you add the other ingredients.
The amount of garlic and ginger depends how much spices you add....look for a balance of flavours.
You can of course use other lentils,brown,split peas (and at the end throw in cooked chickpeas or cooked red kidney beans)...but I prefer red lentils as you don,t need to soak them and they cook quickly.
If you toast the spices whole in a dry frying pan the heat releases their natural oils and flavours much more than adding them directly to the curry...crush in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar...........and note gigantic difference of taste!
At the end of cooking you can blend half the mixture if you like a creamier dhal.
I personally love cumin and cardamom...without them my dhal would not be complete...look for your favourite spices....go to your nearest Indian shop and try adding black onion seeds,curry leaves,cinnamon,fennel,tumeric for colour,cloves...etc...etc..
You can always change the vegetables...but I like a sweet combination.
Try add coconut milk or powdered almonds at the end of cooking.
I cooked in a resaurant once with an Indian chef Kumar -which was brilliant...I never stopped asking questions and I never added enough salt....I think it needs a fair bit of salt to balance the spices and strong flavours.
I like to add mango chutney(available in Indian stores)which adds a hot kick and keeps for forever with a layer of oil on top.
Look for " Pataks"I think thats the brand..for kormas,chutneys and other sauces.

Serve with lots of basmati rice,popadums,a raita of your choice,mint chutney,aloo gobi,sag aloo,pakoras,samosas......must write more Indian recipes.ummmmmmmmmm..especially onion bhajis.........ummmmm
If anyone wants a more exact recipe I can try and be good and note down the quantities....Happy Dhal making!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

potato boats ...retro city

Potato love boats...
One thousand and one ways with spuds(potatoes)...hey I,m Irish
its in my blood

Hello!Long time no blog...
excuses I have many...teething baby.....easter weekend....
But these are all excuses ..sometimes I can,t take photos of everything I eat(even though I wish I did) but this blog is for enjoying and I ain,t a super mama ...yet.
The other day I made these stuffed potatoes.They looked as if they popped out of a magazine from the 80,s but they were delicious retro tasting none the less...

Boil or steam potatoes.(cooked earlier in day and ready for nighttime)
Cut in half lenthways,scoop out a hollow,mash scooped out part with salt and pepper.
Place on baking tray..maybe with garlic and a wee bit of olive oil.
I blasted them in a v hot oven to brown them up quickly(super mum needs time)
Fry onions rings in a wee bit of oil until browned(made earlier in day when there was time)
I filled them with a lentil dhal (well Adrian did and popped a chunk of fresh mozzarella in each one...which was surprisingly good)and topped them with the browned mashed potatoes and onions on top!

P.S. You could also fill them with a bolognese sauce...or what ever your heart desires.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

quinoa pasta bake

It,s easy these days not no overdose on wheat...especially in the dried pasta world...theres so many delicious wheatfree types.Don,t get me wrong I love pasta but every now and then our bodies need a break from wheat.
My gorgeous other half finishes work at different hours every day so I never know when to start cooking...This bake is handy as you can prepare it beforehand and pop it into the oven to warm it up in 5 minutes.

Fry onions in olive oil with some rosemary.
After a few minutes add chopped mushrooms and chopped garlic.
Cook and leave to one side.
Boil Quinoa pasta ,drain and place in a cassarole dish.
Add a splash of soya milk,olive oil,nutrional yeast,and grated cheese and mix well with the pasta.
Top with the mushroom mixture,toasted sunflower seeds,hazelnuts,chopped parsley,bread crumbs (wholewheat and white...its what I had at hand )and grated hard cheese of choice,some black pepper and another drizzle of olive oil y esta!

Heat up in oven until cheese melts and the pasta is heated thru.Alternatively you could just place it under a grill(we are without one at the moment)

Notice that I didn,t add any salt?I,m learning because of little anouk my daughter to cut out or cut back on salt so she can try a little bit of my food..and I won,t feel guilty.
I served the pasta bake with a simple green salad with kitchen grown fresh cress sprouts(umm spicey)and a dressing made with ume plum seasoning,olive oil and a drop or two of balsamic vinegar.
Ume dressing is salty but very alkaline and a good alternative to vinegar...It may be more expensive but a little goes a long way.
Also the parmesan or cheese in the recipe adds the salt it needs.
But if not for kids add the salt you like and enjoy...

When heating it up again I added a spoon full of sundried tomatoe paste ....yummy.

The salt topic for babies and kids is this...guidelines suggest no more than 1.75g a day(for adults 6g a day)
I got out my weighing scales to see what it looks like.
Theres a lot of hidden salt in breads,cornflakes,cheese and theres no harm in having a peek at food labels or better still making your own.For instance cornflakes or rice crispies have more salt than ready salted crisps! Look in healthfood shops for salt free or low salt varieties)
Food packages put sodium on the labels ...if you want to calculate salt content muliply the sodium figure by 2.5

Too much salt puts pressure on your kidneys...which can lead to calcium excretion and therefore more risks of osteoporosis in later life.
Becoming a mum makes me want to look for more salt alternatives and use less because lets face it babys and kids are sponges they learn there eating habits from us.
Ah, but also I feel its good to relax and not get too obsessive...a balance of pleasure and health and all is good.
Also when you feel like salty popcorn eat it ...
or extra sprinkles of sea salt..
just if possible cut down for the kiddies.

I don,t want to bore people on this topic but I,ve been experimenting- before when I cooked pasta I always threw a good whack of salt in I add at the end (and dont notice the difference)..
same goes for potatoes,rice..grains.
A lot of the time its just habit.

For Pasta Alternatives try...quinoa,corn,rice,buckwheat,spelt...or others.......... look in wholefood stores or oriental shops.....enjoy!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


Flowering Rosemary
Friends kids surrounded by rosemary

Theres just so much of it growing here in Catalunya that I feel I have to write about it.
Here it flowers in spring...with colours rangeing from blue,white,purple and pink.
Also I,m a facts nerd...I love cookbooks with the history of a plant or dish or nutritional information...
So in a moment of clarity I intend to do just that.(It gives me an excuse to search for facts and recipes)
Rosemary,s home is in the mediterranean...Hallilujah says literally grows everywhere!

These are a few of my favourite ways of cooking with rosemary..
Try rosemary when roasting pototoes or mixed mediterranean vegetables or mixed root vegetables with olive oil,garlic and coarse sea salt.
Rosemary oil is another classic...add a fresh sprig to extra virgin olive oil(with a few dried chillis and peppercorns)or hans solo (alone)for a few weeks then remove stalks to stop spoiling.
Rosemary flowers are beautiful scattered on top of salads or dishes for a blast of colour.
In b-b-qs use rosemary,s long stalks as skewers for veggies(careful not to burn the rosemary as it gives off a slightly bitter taste)
On top of foccacias and pizzas.
In tomatoe sauces.
In hearty winter bean soups.
Making herby rosemary croutons for salads or on top of thick creamy wintery soups.
It is wonderful with stuffed and roasted pumpkin.
And no self respecting mushroom gravy should be without some.

Ways I,d like to try to use rosemary and intend to in the future...
in scones
with chocolate.

In a garden rosemary is well planted beside carrots,cabbage, beans and keeps at bay carrot flies,bean bettles and cabbage moths.
Wild rosemary tends to be drier than home grown.If you wish to borrow a plant from the wild and replant it in your garden it is best to do so in january(when theres no growth to give it time to adjust to it,s new home).
It is a member of the mint family and my family.