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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Update: A New Look and a New Chapter for my Blog


A very Happy New year to you all.

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.” ― Taylor Swift “

"No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!” 

― C. JoyBell C. 

Friends : My blog is being updated.   Still with the same name but a new look.   I hope to reveal my New Look soon...  Any hints or tips on improving it will be appreciated by leaving me some comments or by emailing me at givemesomespice@gmail.com


MJ




Sunday, 15 December 2013

Vegetable and Nut Wellington for a vegetarian Christmas



A recent survey of 500 vegetarians by Waitrose has revealed that Christmas dinner can be far from a gourmet experience for non meat eaters. The findings found that  many vegetarians are thoughtlessly served meat or have just  overcooked, soggy and even burnt vegetables and side dishes to look forward to on the big day. One participant had even been given a pot noodle for Christmas lunch!     

Last week I had a similar experience.  I went for a team Christmas dinner at a local restaurant.  We had warned them that one of the members of the team was a vegetarian and the restaurant promised to have something vegetarian on the menu.  However, I was served a non vegetarian lasagne!! Plus the side dishes such as sprouts were garnished with bacon and the potatoes had duck fat!!   Christmas meals are always expensive and I really felt disappointed and cheated.  It ruined my meal and I decided that I would not be going for any more Christmas meals again. 

 Here are some of the findings from the Waitrose survey:
  • 1 in 5 vegetarians have thoughtlessly been served meat on Christmas day
  • Over a quarter (28%) of vegetarians questioned had never been asked what they would like to eat on Christmas day
  • 1 in 4 (25%) veggies prefer to cook for themselves at Christmas to ensure all the elements of the meal are vegetarian
  • 37% of vegetarians voted a meat substitute such as Quorn as their ‘usual’ Christmas dinner option
  • The traditional nut roast was voted the top vegetarian Christmas dinner  
  • The ‘usual’ suspects Vegetarians opt for at Christmas include – ‘A meat substitute such as Quorn’ (37%), Nut Roast (26%), A vegetable pie/pastry dish (23%) and stuffed butternut squash (7%)
  • Over a 1 in 3 (36%) vegetarians questioned said they would like shops and restaurants to be more creative with their vegetarian offering at Christmas time
According to the survey the Mushroom Wellington was voted amongst the Top 6 Christmas dinners.  

This lead me to create a recipe for vegetarian Wellington which would be tasty as well as rich in protein.  Christmas meals can be exciting for vegetarians too and this dish can be served with the Christmas vegetables such as brussel sprouts, potatoes, parsnips and cranberry sauce.  This dish can also be pre prepared ready to serve on Christmas Day.   I decided to create this dish by layering different vegetables, nuts and cheese.  Each layer has different flavours which all create a perfect  balance by the addition of cheese and nuts. I used ready prepared frozen vegetables to save time.  

Note: Quorn is a brand name for foods are made with Mycoprotein. Mycoprotein is a nutritious quality meat free protein, a member of the fungi family, and naturally low in fat and high in protein and fibre. More information about Quorn is at their website

NB: This post and recipe are also featured on the Christmas Dinner page of Waitrose's website under the section entitled 'It's Not All About the Meat...'. Click this link to see more! 


Ingredients for 8 servings:

Layer 1:

2 cups frozen roasted Mediterranean Vegetables (courgettes, onions, cherry tomatoes, aubergine, peppers) 

Layer 2:

6 cups of mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, green beans and sweetcorn) ½ tsp salt ½ tsp turmeric ½ tsp coriander powder 

Layer 3:

2 cups Quorn Mince
½ cup pasatta
1 tsp bouillon powder 
1 tbsp olive oil 

Layer 4:

6 cups frozen chopped spinach 
2 cloves garlic- minced 
1 tsp grated fresh ginger 
1 tsp finely chopped green chillies 
½ cup ricotta cheese 
salt and pepper to taste 

Layer 5:

Sliced Mozzarella cheese 

Layer 6:
1 cup mixed nuts chopped finely 

PLUS:
2 packets of ready rolled puff pastry sheets and a tablespoon of sesame seeds

Method:
  • Layer 1 : Line a baking tray and cook the Mediterranean vegetables in the oven at 170 degrees for 20 minutes. (If using Mediterranean vegetables, cut them all into small pieces, transfer them to a plastic bag, add 1 tbsp of oil, salt and pepper to taste and seal the bag and shake them well and cook them in the oven at 190 degrees for 20 minutes).

  • Layer 2: Transfer the frozen mixed vegetables to a frying fan and add the spices listed above in the ingredients to the mixture and cook until soft.


Layer 3: Marinade the Quorn in the passata and bouillon powder for 30 minutes and then stir fry in Olive oil until cooked. This should take about 10-12 minutes..






  • Layer 4:  Cook the frozen spinach by adding all the herbs and spices listed in the ingredients list above.   Tip: If the spinach is too runny add a couple of teaspoons of bread crumbs to it.  Leave the ricotta cheese to add to the spinach when it is cooked.



  • Layer 5:  Chop the nuts finely, add a teaspoon of butter to them and cook them in the microwave for a minute. This helps to release all the nutty flavours.



2.  Once all the toppings are ready you can start layering the Wellington using the ready rolled puff pastry sheets.




 3.  You can either make it like a loaf or a plait.  Instruction for both are below.


4.  For the loaf version: - Line a bread tin with parchment paper and then line it with the pastry roll.  Add some sesame seeds to the pastry.



5.  Start layering it with one layer at a time, lightly packing it with a spoon so that there isn't too much air in the Wellington. You can decide which order you would like to layer your Wellington.  I started with the spinach, then roast vegetables etc... with the mozzarella cheese in the middle of the Wellington. This ensures that the cheese doesn't ooze out when it melts.



6.  Seal the top well.  I poked it lightly with a knife to allow any air build up to escape. 


7.  If you have any pastry left over - you can be creative to give it a festive look.



8.  For the plait look - roll out the pastry and cut it diagonally as shown below allowing some space next to the toppings to enable you to wrap the pastry over the fillings.
  







9.  Once you have done the layers, cover the top and bottom with the puff pastry.  Taking each strip bring it over the fillings alternatively to cover the filling forming a plait. 







10.  For the festive look, I coloured the left over dough to added some strips to the Wellington. 






11.  Cook the Wellington covered in parchment paper at 170 degrees for 20 minutes.   After 20 minutes, remove the paper and allow it to brown for 10 more minutes.

12.  Allow it to cool on a wired tray for 10 minutes before cutting it to serve with any vegetables of your choice. 



13.  We served it with Brussel sprouts and herbed mash potatoes. My husband had seconds and gave me the best compliment when he said that he enjoyed the flavoursin the Wellington and it was the best one he has ever had.


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Sponsored Post: This post was created to promote Christmas recipes for Waitrose - in particular the Vegetarian Wellington. I was re-imbursed by Waitrose to cover my expenses to create the meal. This review was conducted honestly without bias.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Orange Flavoured Paneer Stuffed in Parathas


My sons  loves paneer so this recipe was created at their request.  They asked me to flavour the paneer using their favourite juice - freshly squeezed orange juice and spices.  Surprisingly - the orange flavour was a hit and now it's a dish I make regularly for them. 

Ingredients for 8 Parathas: 

2 cups or 250 grams of home made paneer (if you are using ready made paneer - get a softer version so that it can soak up the juice and spices. Plus - it's easier to stuff into parathas)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice ( if using ready made - use a good make)
1 tsp salt
½ cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp ginger, garlic and green chillies mixture (all blended into a paste)
1-2 cups cooking oil ( for the frying and adding to the dough).

For the dough: 

2 cups of chappati flour
pinch of salt

Method:

1. Chop the paneer into small pieces and soak them in the orange juice for an hour.


2.  Take a tablespoon of oil and add some cumin to the oil.  Once the cumin browns add the paneer, the salt, and turmeric and cook it and mash it as you mix.  The idea is to try and make it a dry mixture.


3.  Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste.


4.  Keep stirring until its all dry to enable you to stuff inside the paratha.


For binding the dough please see this recipe for potato stuffed paratha. 

5.   Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt and two tablespoons of oil to the flour.  Bind the dough  by adding some warm water to the flour.  Keep adding small amounts of water until it comes together as a soft dough almost like play dough.  Knead it well and let it rest for half an hour.

6.  Divide the dough into 8-9 small balls smaller than golf balls.   Also divide the paneer into 8-9 small balls.  Roll out the dough into a small circle, dab a bit of oil in the centre of the rolled out paratha  and keep the paneer on top.

7.   Fold the paratha over the paneer - like a square parcel.


8. Dust this with some flour and roll out a squarish or roundish paratha.


9.   Roast the paratha on a hot griddle/tawa or frying fan.  Once roasted - just brush some oil on both sides and let it cook.


10.  Finish making all the parathas and serve them hot with your favourite curry.



For ideas on making different parathas - check out this recipe for pizza paratha.

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Monday, 2 December 2013

Naan Bread Spicy Pizza (Naanza)



We had been out for a meal at lunchtime but I was hungry by the time we finished our shopping and got home.  I am one of those people who can not wait for something to be cooked when I get hungry and often end up having a simple cheese sandwich which I moan about if it's too bland.  My hubby has been watching a lot of food shows lately  and is always ready to help me make great tasting ,quick and easy meals using every day ingredients.  This is one such dish which took him less than 30 minutes to make and we called it Naanza .   You can use any topping you like on your pizza all depends what you have in your fridge or freezer.  If you do not like spicy food, please reduce the use of chilly powder and green chillies.

Ingredients for 2 servings:

Shop Bought Naan breads: 2  large naan and 2 Mini naans
1 onion - grated
1 grated garlic
1 capsicum/pepper - chopped into small pieces
½ cup tinned tomatoes
½ tsp salt
½ tsp chilly powder
½ tsp dhana jiru (mixture of coriander and cumin powder)
1-2 green chillies chopped
2  cups grated cheese
2 tsps oregano
1 tbs oil

Method:

1.  Heat the oil and add the grated garlic to it.


2.  Once the garlic softens, add the onions, green chillies and green peppers.


3.  Add all the spices - salt, chilly powder and  dhana jiru.


 4.  Cook until all the vegetables are cooked.


5.  Add the tomatoes to the mixture and stir until it's all blended well.


 6.  Once the topping is cooked, spread it on your naan bread leaving the edges clear to give it a bit of a pizza look.


7.  Sprinkle some grated cheese on the top and cook them in the pre heated oven at 170 degrees for 10- 15 minutes depending on how cooked you like your cheese.




8.  Sprinkle some oregano and serve the Naanza/pizza hot
.

I have used a similar style of filling on Jacket potatoes too and they taste great.

For recipes on home made Pizza please click here and here

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Spicy Couscous with potatoes and nuts (bateta couscous)



It was Sunday morning and I wanted to make a quick and easy brunch. I often make bateta pawa for brunch but thought I would use the same recipe but use couscous instead of pawa (flaked rice). I got introduced to couscous by my son. He told me that he often takes a mixture of couscous and boiled vegetables for his lunch when he is at Uni but finds it quite bland so we tried this recipe and managed to come up with ideas to spice up his lunch too!!

Ingredients for 4 servings: 

1 medium sized potato diced
¼ cup sweetcorn (I used tinned sweetcorn)
1 grated onion
handful of almonds and peanuts
2-3 chopped green chillies
1 cup of couscous
1 tsp salt
½ turmeric
1-2 tbl lemon juice
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds or cumin seeds
A few curry leaves, coriander and chilly powder for garnishing (optional)


 Method 

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add mustard seeds to it.

2. Once the popping stops, add the onions, green chillies, nuts and stir.


3. Add the salt, turmeric and sugar.

4. Cook the onions for a couple of minutes.

5. Now add the diced potatoes and sweetcorn and cook this until the potatoes soften. This should take about 5-7 minutes.


6. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, soak the couscous in room temperature water. For one cup of couscous, you will need two cups of water. The water will get absorbed by the couscous and within two minutes - the couscous will swell up and look cooked.





 7. Once the potatoes are cooked, add the couscous to the mixture. Using a large pronged fork, lightly mix in the couscous so that it fluffs up and blends in and takes the flavour of the spices in the potatoes and sweetcorn.


8. Add the lemon juice, sugar, coriander and curry leaves and allow the mixture to cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes. If it looks too dry, just add a couple of tablespoons of water to it. 


9. Sprinkle some chilly powder to the spicy couscous and serve it hot with plain yogurt.



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