Thursday, 31 July 2014

Sweet Potato falafel with Chorizo Bulgur salad

Now, those who know me on twitter know I had some issues when making these and I apologise if my language went colourful at any point..... Cooked, mashed sweet potato is a blinking nightmare to roll – its best just to use two spoons and hope for the best. However by some miracle these actually came out pretty good and were very tasty. Once I had gotten over my anger and washed my hands of their orange hue I rather enjoyed them both hot for dinner and cold in my lunchbox the following day. The bulgur salad was so tasty, my dad likes to pick me up random ingredients and this was a fine grade of Bulgur, more the size of couscous and it had a very good mouth-feel. Combined with the spicy chorizo and sweet smoky peppers it made a for a very tasty dinner both hot and cold as leftovers.

To bring you up to date with making these falafel, I have history with steamers. A few years back when they became the in thing I purchased one on sale.. and I really hated it! In theory I should of loved it, I love vegetables so much but I could never tell the accurate time on the water display and had to use separate dishes to serve at the table after of course dripping all over my feet or the counter-top’s, creating more mess.. eventually we parted ways and I have not given it a second thought about one since then… 

...roll on a few years later and obviously technology has moved on and a very nice pr lady called Dianne, representing ‘Steama’ asked if I wanted to test it out… I eat fairly healthily but do admit I er fry a lot of veg I.e. courgettes in butter and other nice things, however my health has given me a bit of a tough ride this year and I am keen to mend my naughty ways and try and explore some healthier options so decided to at least give it a try… Steaming the sweet potatoes couldn't of been easier, chopped, chucked in the tray, water bath filled, timer set and 25 minutes lately perfectly steamed sweet potatoes! The machine is rather nifty having both an extra lid and base to fit on the steamer so you can cook extra I.e. for a latter meal and just clip the base and lid on so it doubles up as tupperware! I have used it plenty of times since and its simple to use and produces great results!

For the falafel I loosely based my recipe on a bbc one, which to be honest I looked at after mixing everything and then not being able to work out why I couldn’t roll it and added a little more flour before deciding spoons were the way forward!

450g unpeeled sweet potato, diced into 1 inch chunks
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
85g gram flour

Oven – hot. About 200o.

Start by steaming the potatoes for about 25 minutes, or until tender. 

In the Steama tray
Allow the cooked sweet potato to cool for about 5-10 minutes before mashing. I used my old favourite Masha toy. Stir through the spices and gram flour to form a smooth mixture.

Line and grease a large baking sheet, spoon the mixture onto the tray into golf ball sized lumps. Bake for 15 minutes, turn over and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the outer is set and firm to touch. Meanwhile make the bulgur salad.

Chorizo Bulgur Salad

 300g fine Bulgur Wheat
1 yellow pepper, into 1cm dice
½ red onion, finely sliced
115g cooking chorizo, into 1cm dice
1 chopped tomato
1 tbsp cooking oil
2tsp Harrisa powder

Place the bulgur in a heat proof bowl, cover with 325g boiling water (I weighed it hence not being in ML) and cover tightly, allow to steam for about 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and pepper over a moderate heat for 3 minutes, add the chorizo and tomato and fry for a further 4-5 minutes or until everything is nicely browned, combine with the prepared bulgur.

Serve the cooked falafel on a mound of the bulgur salad. A good dollop of yoghurt mint dip is very welcome here!

 Many thanks to Steama for my new steamer toy!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday WC: 28/07/14

I am now gently back into the meal planning mode, and most nights its now paying off without having to do much thinking other than on the planning day, a huge relief after days currently spent endlessly filing paperwork! I did try and do most of the meal planning yesterday but after a day  on the sofa procrastinating and watching 7 episodes of 24 back to back I had to re-check it today just to make sure it made sense!

We managed 4 out of the 5 planned meals last week, Wednesday's pork meatloaves became spiced patties instead. Thursdays tuna pasta became mackerel pasta so a minor change really and it used up the packet nearing its end date! 

As ever, its a little subject to change as Tuesday is potentially switching with Wednesdays, as we have enough to stretch the ingredients I bought to 3 people but if my 4th guest decides to reply to my text and is coming, he doesn't like one of the ingredients hence the switcharoo..

When I did the big shop last Friday I bought a pack of Ox heart on a whim, partially because it was extremely good value - £1.04 for 375g and I do try to think one should eat the whole animal, to cut waste.. unfortunately B wasn't so endeared to the idea but bravely managed to eat the sauce, with the Ox bits picked out... I think I will post the recipe up shortly, see what you guys n gals think! The sauce was fantastic so overall a success....!

Ox heart ragu, tagliatelle 
Lamb kofta, spiced sweet potato cubes with, broccoli bulgar salad Mojo dressing, raita 
Prawn and smoked salmon, courgette taglioni 
Fish finger sandwiches, avocado smoosh and mini roast potatoes
Spinach and pine nut gratin 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Rum baked Peaches with Chocolate Coconut Ice cream for We Should Cocoa

Sometimes I have too much time on my hands. Okay this is rare admittedly but the old brain goes wandering, normally in the middle of doing something else and it resulted in some random googling on my phone in the kitchen (our signal booster box is worth its hassle getting it!), whilst making dinner and the outcome was a tub of chocolate coconut ice cream! I am not entirely sure what provoked me that evening other than this unrelenting heatwave that's slowly cooking me through but it was a good provocation!

Back tracking a little, with regards to one of the recipe components a few months back I posted up an article for Good Housekeeping on creating an alternative dairy and gluten free pudding, in the form of my lush Sticky ginger and Almond rice pudding. As part of its development I had received a box full of free from items, and one of those items was a hot chocolate syrup called Choc Shot…which became the chocolate part of this recipe as it was, well, er easier! *blushing with shame* It also has only 14 calories per teaspoon, 100% natural and low GI and diabetic friendly so you can really tell yourself its a healthy ice cream treat!  

Anyway, despite the heatwave it resulted in me playing around in the kitchen the other night and I decided to make a batch of coconut milk ice cream, using the syrup as a chocolate flavouring, along with some forgotten about meringue nests, after coming up with the idea of some kind of semi-freddo dessert… I managed three lots of hand churning but eventually fell asleep despite the best intentions of some inconsiderate neighbour's doing their best to keep the block awake with their incessant shouting, shrill laughter and loud music, so the next day I had to let it thaw a little for some more half hourly beatings... I think it still needs a teeny bit of work texture wise as its frankly a bugger to scoop out but it worked so well with the baked peaches and so I have forgiven it!

Next on to the baked peach part - Ohmigod where has u been all my life! I took inspiration for this quick pudding from the recent Waitrose magazine, though I pretty much exchanged all the ingredients apart from the peaches as to what we had in the cupboards! Fortunately it still was fabulous and even called for my wicked auntie to comment that I really should be the size of a barrel after sharing pictures on my facebook page! It is fruit mostly...! The sweet soft peach flesh, combined with crunchy sweet biscuit and hint of spiced vanilla rum is a heady concoction and one i feel might just become a regular dish in my kitchen!

Coconut and Chocolate Icecream

1 tin full fat coconut milk, good quality.
8 tsp chocolate syrup
3 meringue nests - not essential - mine dissolved mostly!

Place the coconut milk in a blender and blitz until smooth. Combine the syrup and crumble over the meringue nests, turn into a suitable container for freezing.

Every 30 minutes, take a whisk or fork to the mixture breaking up any ice crystals for about 4-5 times. Ta da!

Rum baked Peaches

These are so quick and easy, and entirely worth making!

2 peaches, halved
2 digestive biscuits, crushed
1 tbsp golden granulated sugar
1 heaped tsp butter
2 tbsp spiced rum

Crush the biscuits in a small bowl or pestle & mortar. 

Then add the sugar and rub through the butter – best to cut into little pieces, until you have a crumble mix of sorts. 

Spoon into the peaches and place on a lined baking tin. Drizzle over the rum and bake for 15 mins @ 180o and serve warm, with the ice cream.

I am sending my lovely pretend its healthy treat to this months We Should Cocoa, held by the lovely Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary

Monday, 21 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Last week has flown by in a sunny haze! It was kiddie central as I managed to see not only my adorable godson, my cousins gorgeous baby boy and our friends three little one's over the weekend, I don't have any of my own and I much prefer being auntie but there is something special about cuddles with them, always makes my heart melt a little! Must be getting soft in my old age! 

Anyway back to the food! Last week we actually managed to stay pretty much on plan with the exception of Friday's Baked Chorizo Spaghetti got shifted to Sunday night, as Friday started with a rather lovely Passion fruit Cocktail with a pub lunch, moved onto sour spaghetti sweets and then involved a large quantity of Rosé wine and Chinese food! Always good! I do love having weekends back now! We had some really good dishes overall, B loved the oven baked chorizo frittatta in particular:

This week's plan - 

Tonight - Aubergine Jambalaya though tweaked with added bacon!
Tues - Pancit (a Filipino noodle dish with pork)
Weds - Mini meatloaves with mash and red cabbage
Thurs - Tuna and Spinach Pesto pasta
Fri - Toad in the hole (using some posh looking wild mushroom sausages that are hiding in the freezer!)


Don't forget I have a fabulous competition to win a whole case of Organic Coconut and Date bars! You can check it out on this blog post

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Giveaway - Organic Coconut and Date Snack Bar's

Following on from my Coconut brownies post earlier in the week, as promised I am now back with a little Cocafina giveaway for you! I have not done much baking this week as its just far too hot and making dinner has been enough to exhaust me but I have been enjoying tasting some other products that Cocafina sent to me instead!

For the majority of the time I love anything coconut based – cake, macaroons, Thai curries, biscuits etc but for some odd reason I am really not fond of it in yoghurt form, I wont thank for you for that at all. No. Very odd... I am not sure why but think it vaguely reminds me of coconut shampoo that my nan always had in her bathroom..

...Anyway I had great fun playing around with the items that Cocafina sent to me, which fortunately didn't involve yoghurt in any form but instead included some delicious bars, my favourite was their Macaroon bar which was simply heavenly! Lightly toasted coconut without being too sweet and it made a great on the go treat! Well actually it was more a late breakfast if anything as I was going shopping and hadn't felt hungry at home and it kept me going till lunchtime!

So over to my giveaway - I have a whole case of Cocafina's Organic Coconut & Date Snack Bar's for one lucky winner! They are ideal as a pre-workout snack as they contain no added sugar and consist of four natural ingredients to give you a natural boost. Not that I ever work out but I do work in a very busy environment so it helps to keep me on the go!

Courtesy of Cocafina

To enter, simply fill in the below rafflecopter form! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Coconut Brownies (Dairy free and relatively healthy too!)

Going back a little while and slightly off tangent but do bear with me here - I decided to look into having my eyesight corrected, and after the initial assessment I couldn't drive for a while due to my eyes having had dye put in them, nor see very far for a short while and so I had to keep local and stumbled across a health food shop, where a lady was promoting a particular brand of coconut oil – it was the first I heard of it – and we ended up having quite a chat about its benefits both nutritionally and cosmetically and.. as it was quite expensive and I was about to part with a rather large sum of money for the surgery I didn't purchase any at the time but it was lodged in my mind ever since.. though if I recall correctly I did leave with a packet of coconut flakes which were a little more purse friendly and provided the topping for these brownies! And in case you are wondering, yes I did have my eyes 'done' and I am very happy with the results!

Coconut Brownies
Moving on, a few weeks ago I received a box of lovely coconut based goodies from Cocafina.  they have a delicious range of all things healthy and coconut based, and following this post I have a little giveaway of some coconuty treats for you so don't forget to come back soon! 

From my box of Cocafina goodies, I used their coconut nectar and coconut oil to make these bad boy brownies. Or should they be greedy girl goodies as they are technically good for you? These happen to be dairy free too so are good for certain dietary restrictions. There is also fruit in them too so you can almost pretend they are good for you, in the form of mashed ripe banana to replace some of the usual butter, in fact there is no butter at all in these – I used just 60g of coconut oil instead for the whole batch! As a result they are certainly lower in fat than regular brownies, always a win! 

To replace the sugar I used their Coconut nectar, which is extracted from the sap of coconut flower buds, its lower GI than compared to regular brown sugar – 35 compared to brown sugar at 64, so far less spiking to your blood sugars. Have I sold them to you yet?

Not really knowing how the coconut nectar was going to affect the mixture, both sweetness and texture wise as I normally melt the sugar, which is more dense – and coconut nectar is the already consistency of maple syrup, nor the coconut oil in lieu of butter, I decided to base these on my banana and rum brownies and hope for the best mostly! My oven is on the blink, and everything baked now gets cooked at what the oven dial says is 210o which in reality is about 170o or thereabouts!

For my first proper experiment they came out pretty darn good. A little fudginess to the texture, crunchy coconut flakes on top with a delicate coconut note mingled with the slightly bitter chocolate. They were popular at work and everyone was intrigued as to what both coconut oil and nectar were, I should of left a card with them I repeated myself so much! They are best left a few hours before diving in to allow the coconut on top to soften and the flavour's to mingle together.

Coconut Brownies


60g coconut oil
200mg coconut nectar
100g dark chocolate
2 large eggs
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder 
1 tsp baking powder
2 medium, ripe mashed bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 175/ 180o depending on your oven. Prepare a lined 8” square baking tin.

In a saucepan, weigh out the coconut oil, coconut nectar and heat until melted, stir in the chocolate and leave for a couple of minutes to cool slightly.

Mix together the flour, banana, vanilla, egg, baking powder and cocoa powder. Stir through the melted chocolate mixture until just combined and pour into a lined 8” square baking tin.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until it bounces to touch and the kitchen smells like you are in chocolate heaven – it’s a fine line between well cooked and raw so best to check with a toothpick – if minimal crumb comes out its ready. Cool for 15 minutes or so in the tin before placing on a rack to cool fully.

I have sent my bake over to Casa Costello's Bake of the Week post:

Many thanks to Cocafina for my delicious samples! 

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