Tag Archives: cheat

Pea and Potato Samosas with Plum Chutney

12 Oct

The wait is over. I have finally got around to taking step by step pictures of  The Washer Up making his samosas with spring roll wrappers. I have to say that he is not happy with his “old man hands” but I took the red hue down loads as well, it must be all that washing up…. Continue reading

Avocado “Caesar” Salad with parmesan croutons

3 Jan

Sometimes inspiration for lunch is staring you right in the face. This is what we saw growing today while walking the dog…

Rows and rows of beautiful bright green lettuces growing next to avocado trees….

Some avocados were just lying on the ground so I had to rescue one. They would rot otherwise. I bought the lettuce though. I bought some lettuce hearts or little gems as they are sometimes called. An original Caesar salad is made with Cos or Romaine lettuce. The smooth avocado is the perfect contrast in texture to the crunchy juicy lettuce and the parmesan croutons have to be big. Don’t bother with those bags of smelly centimetre cubes you can buy. Homemade croutons taste so much better…

This is my vegetarian interpretation of a Caesar dressing. It doesn’t have any anchovies in it but feel free to add a couple if you like that sort of thing. You  could also make your own mayonnaise, this is my quick, cheat version using good store-bought mayonnaise.

Avocado “Caesar” Salad with Parmesan Croutons

serves 2 vegetarian

For the croutons:

  • about 10 cm of a baguette or other rustic bread cut in to 2cm cubes
  • 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • finely grated parmesan

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium high heat. Throw in the bread cubes/chunks and fry until browned on all sides (about 2 or 3 minutes). Line a bowl with kitchen paper, put the cooked croutons in the bowl, sprinkle with salt, black pepper & finely grated parmesan. Shake them around a bit to coat them in parmesan and set aside. They are best served immediately but can be kept in an airtight container for a couple of  days.

For the Salad & Dressing:

  • 1/2 a large avocado
  • 2 little gems or lettuce hearts
  • some shaved parmesan
  • 3 heaped tbsp good mayonnaise
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 or 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 or 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • parmesan croutons (see above)

To make the dressing put the mayo, lemon juice & parmesan in a bowl and blend with a stick blender or balloon whisk. Slowly trickle in the olive oil while blending or whisking until you reach the desired consistency. I like it quite thick. Taste it and add more lemon juice/parmesan/olive oil to your taste. When you are happy with your dressing cut the core end off the lettuce hearts then cut them lengthways into quarters/wedges. scoop out the avocado and slice it lengthways. Lay the lettuce wedges on your plate and place the avocado slices in between. Drizzle a good amount of the dressing all over the letuce wedges with a spoon, top with the croutons and shave over some fresh parmesan.

Enjoy!

Easy, Delicious Mince Pies with Mandarin and Ginger Cheat Ice Cream

17 Dec

I should rename this blog 101 things to do with a mandarin….! Well it is Christmas and they are everywhere and I like them.

I didn’t like mince pies until I made some myself, because the Washer Up was begging me to, last Christmas. The bought ones have a strange taste and make your teeth go funny. I thought, if I’m going to make them, I am going to make them better by adding all the Christmas flavours that I love. Like mandarins….

And almonds and hazelnuts and cranberries and Amaretto………! Trust me it makes such a difference. You get the flavour and crunch of the nuts, the sweet sharpness of the cranberries and the punch of the Amaretto. You don’t have to use Amaretto you could use Frangelico to pick out the flavour of the hazelnuts or Cointreau to enhance the orangeyness. If you don’t want to add alcohol you could use cranberry juice, you just need some liquid to soak into the dried fruit while it’s cooking. I use puff pastry because it’s lighter and crispier and you don’t have to make it!!If you’ve never liked mince pies you should give this recipe a go, it might change your mind..

Easy & Delicious Mince Pies Recipe

makes about 18, vegetarian

  • 1 pack frozen puff pastry defrosted in the fridge overnight
  • 75 gr brown sugar
  • 75 ml port or red wine
  • 400 gr mixed dried fruit
  • 100 gr dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 mandarin, zest first & then juice
  • about 50ml Amaretto (or your chosen liqueur)you may need to add more
  • a few drops of almond extract
  •  1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • about 100 -150 gr chopped nuts (I used almonds & hazelnuts)walnuts would be good too
  • 1 egg beaten with a little water
  • icing sugar for dusting

In a large pan, dissolve the sugar in the port or red wine over a gentle heat. Then add the dried fruits, cranberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, zest & juice of the mandarin and the Amaretto. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 15 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed stirring occasionally. You may need to add more amaretto if it is absorbed quickly. Add the almond & vanilla extracts, honey and the nuts. Stir well to combine everything and leave the mixture to cool in a bowl.

When the mixture is cool(very important or the pastry won’t work), preheat the oven to 210 degrees. Butter & flour your muffin tins then roll out your first piece of puff pastry to a thickness of 2mm (leave the other piece in the fridge). Cut out circles of 9 or 10 cm diameter and push them in the muffin tins you should get 9 or 10. Then fill each pastry case with a heaped dessertspoonful of the mixture. With the off cuts of pastry you can cut out Christmas tree shapes to put on the top of the mixture (or use a star cutter). Brush the pastry trees with egg wash and bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Keep an eye on them they cook quickly. Leave to cool for a few minutes then take them out of the tin. Leave the tin to cool down before rolling out your next batch.

Dust with icing sugar from a height and serve while still warm with a coffee for elevenses or whatever time of day it is…..To make them even more special you can serve them with this easy cheat ice cream. I don’t have an ice cream maker (hint hint!) so this is a great way to “improve” a tub of store-bought vanilla…

Quick Cheat Mandarin & Ginger Ice Cream

  • 1 tub of vanilla ice cream (doesn’t have to be full)
  • the zest of 1 or 2 mandarins
  • some crystallised ginger chopped finely (1 tbsp should be enough)

Take the ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften for about 5 minutes. It should be soft enough to stir but not melted. Stir in the zest and ginger until evenly distributed and put the ice cream back in the freezer to firm up until you are ready to serve it. How easy is that?

This ice cream is really good with the Mince Pies, would be a perfect accompaniment to Christmas Pudding and is also amazing with the Washer Up’s Rhubarb Crumble…Happy Christmas!!

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