Autumnal Pumpkins

Autumnal Food – Don’t Waste Your Pumpkins!

Autumn is my favourite time of year, I love the colours, walking through rustling leaves, the scarf and sunglasses weather it brings, and obviously the food! With occasions like Halloween and Bonfire night to look forward to it’s a perfect excuse to make some delicious autumnal food.

It doesn’t need to be complicated food, if you’re out watching fireworks on bonfire night then a baked potato or a bowl of chilli is perfect.

I love to carve a pumpkin for Halloween, but for me the pumpkin doesn’t get wasted like so many of them do. If you’re going to carve a pumpkin, make sure you do something with it. Roast the seeds with some spices for a great snack or as a garnish to soups and salads.

A great thing to make with pumpkin at this time of year is soup. You can switch out the sweet potato in my recipe for spiced carrot and sweet potato soup for pumpkin to make a spiced warming soup. Give it a try and don’t waste all that pumpkin!

A Spicy, Tangy, Herby, Green, Mexican Kinda Sauce! (Catchy Name Right?)

Even though I’ve never been and tasted the real deal, I like to make Mexcian food. A lot. I love it, it can be both super simple and quick and it can be complex and take ages to make a perfect dish.

One simple sauce that make quite often to go with Mexican food is a coriander, jalapeño and lime sauce, maybe that’s a catchier name, oh well! I got the idea from a Jamie Oliver recipe where he says, “To make the jalapeño salsa, drain and add the jalapeños to a food processor with a splash of the pickling juice. Tear in the coriander (stalks and all) and add a splash of extra virgin olive oil. Blitz well until smooth.” – sounds simple, and it is! I add lime juice to mine for a good citrus kick. If you haven’t got a food processor or a stick blender, just pile it all on a board and get chopping! You might have to mess about with the amount of chillies if you don’t like it too hot. Try adding a few at a time and giving it a taste as you go.

Green Mexican Sauce Ingredients

It’s a seriously good sauce and only takes a couple of minutes to make, so next time you decide to make tacos or burritos, make a batch of this sauce to go with them. It’d be good as a dip for chips or roast potatoes.

It’s a good addition to my sweet potato and chickpea taco recipe too!

Cabbage and Gochujang

Quick Vegetarian Kimchi Recipe

I’m not the kind of girl to pick a pickle off a burger, give me a gherkin every time, extra if you’ve got them. I really like pickled stuff. Ok, I’ve never dared try a pickled egg, but that holds some bad memories of working in pubs having to fish the last one out of a giant jar with it looking up at you slipping out of reach in it’s vinegary bath. Probably put a few people off trying pickled eggs with that description, oh well!

Anyway, back to the pickle in question, kimchi. An ancient Korean food, consisting of fermenting vegetables, that only seems to have appeared on menus more over here in the last few years. It’s popping up as a burger topping, added to the side of rice and noodles and even put into grilled cheese sandwiches. There’s lots of different variations for how to make it and I’m no expert, but it seems to mostly use Chinese cabbage and today the fermentation is usually made spicy by adding Korean chilli flakes, gochugaru, or Korean chilli paste, gochujang. Veggies and vegan’s be careful, it’s usually made with fish sauce, so check the ingredients before you order it when you’re out!

I’ve had a read at a few recipes for making Kimchi quickly, so here’s my take on a quick, veggie and vegan friendly, kimchi recipe…

1 Chinese cabbage
3 spring onions – finely sliced
2 carrots – sliced into matchsticks or coarsely grated
3 cm piece of ginger – finely chopped or grated
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
2 tbsp Korean chilli flakes or paste – if you can’t get this use something like Sriracha.
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp salt – sounds like a lot but it’s washed off after you’ve salted the cabbage!

Kimchi Ingredients

Start by slicing the cabbage, length ways through the core, into roughly 3cm strips, put this into a mixing bowl and mix with the salt, then leave to one side for an hour. While the cabbage is set to one side get your other veg prepped and, make the paste by mixing together the ginger, garlic, chilli flakes or paste and rice wine vinegar in a little bowl. Time to read or do some chores now until the cabbage has done it’s thing.

After the cabbage has had it’s hour, tip it into a colander and rinse it under cold running water for a bit, then drain it and dry thoroughly. Add it back to the original bowl adding the carrots and spring onion too, next, mix the paste into the veg. It’ll taste good right away so you can serve some straight away, or put into a large jar or Tupperware, leave it to ferment at room temperature overnight, then pop it in the fridge the next morning. It’ll keep for about two weeks in the fridge. I’m told that the flavour will improve the longer it’s left, just waiting to find out, not sure it’ll last that long!

Quick Kimchi

Try adding it as a side to dishes or putting it in your sandwiches to give them a kick. Or you can even make kimchi fried rice, just chop it up finely and stir fry it with your cooked cold rice as you would for any fried rice dish. Think that’s what I’m going to try.

Watermelon Wedge!

A Perfect Summer Cocktail – Watermelon Daiquiri

The sun came out the other weekend, it might be hard to believe but it did. So naturally I made cocktails!

I had a watermelon sat on the kitchen side waiting for something to be done with it. A bit of a foodie trend at the moment is making “watermelon water”, basically chopping up watermelon and blitzing it in a blender. It’s delicious and refreshing, but missing something… RUM!

I decided I could make watermelon daiquiris with the watermelon water. Invented in Cuba, a daiquiri’s main ingredients are rum, citrus juice and sugar. There’s lots of variations of this seen in bars everywhere with different kinds of fruits added to this base.

Get out and buy yourself a watermelon. Grab your favourite bottle of rum, a lime and some sugar or sugar syrup. This isn’t an exact science, it depends on how much citrus you like, how boozy you want your cocktail and how much of a sweet tooth you have. So have a mess around with the quantities to get it to your liking. I did a double shot of rum, half a shot of sugar syrup, the juice of a lime and then topped up my glass with the watermelon juice and some ice. I garnished it for an extra citrus kick with a wedge of lime and added a wedge of watermelon on the side to nibble on!

It’s the perfect summer drink, just keep your fingers crossed for some more sunshine.

Watermelon Daiquiri

Aubergine Banh Mi

Sandwiches! Not Boring Ones, Vietnamese Style Ones

I love a good sandwich, I mean a really good one though. I’m not talking about a slice of cheese chucked between some wafer thin white bread. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the odd cheese sandwich, but there’s so many more exciting things you can put between bread than that. For a vegetarian the usual suspects for a sandwich when you’re out and about are cheese or egg. If you’re lucky there might be hummus as an option, slightly more inspiring but still not as good as it gets I don’t think.

Rather than sticking to the boring options, I’ve been enjoying some pretty delicious sandwiches lately. My husband still goes on about one I made over a year ago and I haven’t made it since, might have to make them again soon though. It had loads of roasted vegetables, avocado, homemade pesto, goats cheese and a few other bits sandwiched in between some ciabatta.

Anyway, to the sandwich I made last night. I decided to make one inspired by a sandwich I kept stealing bites of from my sister’s last year when she had one at a food market, vegetarian bánh mi. The name comes from the Vietnamese term for bread, it’s a small baguette. They’re usually filled with pork. The one my sister had had was with tofu, which my husband still hates, so I opted to make them with marinated aubergines. So if you aren’t a fan of aubergines then you could use tofu, if you aren’t a fan of either I guess some sort of meat substitute would work. Here’s how I made them…

Makes 2 sandwiches.

2 small baguettes or 2 portions cut from a bigger one
1 aubergine, sliced lentghways, 1cm ish thick
1 red chilli, thiny sliced
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
few sprigs of mint, finely chopped

1/4 cucumber, sliced
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1 avocado, crushed to a spreadable paste
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
handful of coriander, stems finely chopped, leave the leafy bit as it is
sriracha, or whatever sort of chilli sauce you like, mix it with mayo for a milder sauce if you don’t like it too hot

2 carrots, chopped into matchsticks
2 tsp rice wine vinegar, or some other sort of vinegar of lime juice would work
1 tsp sugar

Start by getting everything chopped. Mix all of the ingredients for the pickle in a bowl and leave to one side. Next add the red chilli, spring onion, coriander stems and a little oil to a bowl to make the marinade for the aubergine. Rub into the sliced aubergine and set to one side. Now you’ve got a bit of time on your hands while they do their thing, go read a book or dance around the kitchen for half an hour, or as long as you can be bothered to wait, it’s not an exact science, by which I mean I don’t know exactly how long I left them marinating for!

Now you’ve done reading or dancing, toast your sliced baguette, just to get a little colour on them so they don’t go soggy when you pile all the fillings in. Next get a griddle pan, or a frying pan on a high heat and cook the aubergine, you might need to do this in batches. Once all the aubergines are cooked it’s time to assemble the sandwiches.

I spread the avocado on to the baguette then loaded in the radishes, then the pickled carrots, then coriander, next was cucumber and jalapeños, then topped off with the aubergine. Not forgetting a smearing of chilli sauce on the top piece of baguette. Now attempt to get your mouth round that towering sandwich.

Aubergine Banh Mi
Messy to eat but so delicious!

Don’t ever settle for a boring sandwich again.