I have said many times in the past that I am not, and don’t ever envisage becoming, a vegetarian. However I do often cook meals without meat. I am trying hard to lose some weight and lower my blood pressure, eating leaner and cleaner is helping. Quorn is lower in fats and calories so is ideal as a #fattofitter recipe ingredient. As it acts a a flavour sponge Quorn readily takes up marinades and bastes so beloved of the barbecue chef.
The recipes posted here were created by Quorn for a recent barbecue event I attended at The London Barbecue School.
- 250g pack Quorn sausages – use your favourite flavour, if using frozen allow to defrost thoroughly.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 rounded tsp wholegrain mustard
- 2 tbsp mango chutney
- 1 red onion, cut into wedges
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded and cut into chunky dice
- cherry tomatoes
- skewer sticks – soak wooden sticks in water for a few minutes before grilling or barbecuing to prevent burning
- 1x 300g pack Quorn Meat Free Swedish Style Balls
- 3 tbsp vegetarian red pesto
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
- 2 tsps sugar
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 142 ml carton of Greek style yoghurt
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley or coriander
- 1 green or yellow pepper
- 1 red onion
- 6 cherry tomatoes and 6 button mushrooms
- kebab sticks – if using wooden kebab sticks soak in water for about 15 minutes before using.
- 2 Quorn Chef’s Selection Classic Burgers
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 ciabatta roll
- Handful of pea shoots
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 2 tbsp sliced red jalapeno peppers
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 200g sweetcorn
- 1 tsp chipotle paste, or to taste
- 1 tsp fresh coriander, chopped
Last week I was invited to attend a BBQ workshop at the London Barbecue school in Peckham Rye. It was hosted by Quorn, the healthy protein meat alternative brand.
We had the opportunity to prepare, cook and of course eat some fantastic summer dishes made using Quorn products. There were experts toguide us and we learned more about barbecue techniques such as using wood chip and charcoal for flavour. I am used to using a gas barbecue so any tips and tricks for charcoal grills are always more than welcome.
I am not a vegetarian but as a family we are making an effort to enjoy more meals without meat. The facts that Quorn has 90% less fat, 50% fewer calories and has 500% more fibre than lean meat are also certainly going to help me with my #FatToFitter efforts too.
As part of the event we were able to cook and sample four different barbecued meals using Quorn. The London Barbecue School has a fantastic location and set up. Four fabulous stations, each with a state of the art charcoal barbecue allowed us to both have fun and create wonderful dishes.
I will put the recipes in a later post and I’ll also be using Quorn to create a couple of barbecue recipes of my own. However I just thought I’d whet your appetite for now.
For those who are vegan or gluten intolerant and who cannot currently enjoy Quorn you will be pleased to know that this will change soon and both vegan and gluten free versions of Quorn are in the pipeling.
I’m going to have to apologise for this potato gnocchi recipe post. I didn’t intend to write this up but am going to as an aide memoire for my daughters. The measurements are a little vague but when making gnocchi you need to trust your judgement and the feel of the dough. The wetness of the mash, the effect of the weather on your flour and the size of your eggs will all make a difference. After all the Italian Nonnas who make this often are the masters of cooking by instinct alone.
Take an amount of leftover mashed potatoes and add in an equal amount by volume of self raising flour, along with a beaten egg. You may need a little more or a little less flour. I tend to add half of the flour first and then little by little. The resulting dough needs to be not sticky. Firm enough to roll into sausage shapes but not so firm that it feels too solid.
Dust a work surface. Roll the dough into sausages about the thickness of a thumb. Cut into 1″ long sections. You can leave the gnocchi like this or run the tines of a fork over each one to leavean impression. This gives more ridges for the sauce to stick onto.
Fill a large pan with salted water and bring it to the boil. Slide in the gnocchi, they will puff up a little and when the pop to the surface they are done. You can serve them simply sauted in butter and sage (as I prefer) but my girls love them in passata with a little mozzarella and basil.
Now I’ve made these today I’m contemplating making more gnocchi but with some other leftover root vegetables added. Carrots?. Beetroot? Sweet potato? Has anyone done this? What was the outcome?
As I used leftover mashed potato I’m linking this to Credit Crunch Munch. Credit Crunch Munch is a monthly blog hop originally thought up by Camilla from Fab Food 4 All and Helen from Fuss Free Flavours. This month the link up is being hosted by Charlene from Food Glorious Food.
I’m also going to link this up to the #NoWasteFoodChallenge hosted by Elizabeth at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.
Every now and then, well constantly actually, I feel the need for a snack. I do enjoy a piece of fruit, some raw vegetables thrill me more than others but I love, love, love popcorn. The problem is once I start I just can’t stop. I’ve tried to recitify the issue by making less. Ha, like that’s going to work. So I’ve given up trying to cut down. It isn’t that bad for you if you balance the popcorn against other foods I suppose. The popcorn is never salted or sweetened anyway. I have a microwave steam popper that is brilliant. It came from Tchibo ages ago and I love it. To that end there is quite a bit of popcorn knocking around Mintcustard Mansions, so perhaps it is time to use some in my recipes. These cranberry popcorn bites do contain sugar and butter but as I’ve said many times, no food is demonised on my journey from Fat to Fitter, the balance of foods I eat is what I’m busy changing.
Cranberry popcorn bites
1 square tin 6″ x 6″ Lined with oiled cling film.
Sufficient popped corn to fill the tin.
1 tbsp butter
1 handful of cranberries, raisins, dried mango – whatever you have. Chocolate chips, smarties, peanuts would be good too.
- Place the marshmallows and butter in a pan over a very low heat. Melt together and stir to combine.
- Tip in the popped corn and cranberries (or whatever you are adding in).
- Press into the tin and leave for an hour or so to set.
- Cut into pieces and put into a lidded container.
The lid is to stop me, not really to keep the popcorn bites fresh. It does help though.
There are days when only a curry will do. Yesterday was one of those days. Not only do I love a curry I also love all the accompaniments too. Vegetables, daals, poppodums, chutneys, breads. The list could go on and on. I would go on and on eating too. Creating #fattofitter friendly dishes that don’t compromise flavour but are lighter is my mission at the moment.
I have lightened the Madhur Jaffrey recipe by halving the recipe and making smaller naan. I still had a whole naan but a mini version. An old trick but a good one! I’ve also treated myself a little like a toddler and hidden an extra vegetable within the bread. I had some spiced onion squash left over from a salad I made earlier in the week so into the dough they went. You could use up any leftover vegetables, waste not , want not.
I have a pizza stone which I find makes perfect naan too. I heat the oven to the highest possible temperature with the pizza stone in the oven from the off.
The naan puff up and colour beautifully but a baking tray and grill would do almost as well.
I do realise that the this recipe title seems like a list of trendy foods but I’m not sorry. This was my lunch today, it was a combination of foods that needed using up in the fridge and a lovely onion squash I couldn’t walk past in Lidl! I roasted the squash with warming spices, cinnamon, cumin and ginger and griddled some onion and halloumi to add actual warmth to this salad. Grains and pulses are foods I’m reintroducing to my diet as I try very hard to eat better. If I want a food like halloumi, a medium fat and very salty cheese then I simply adjust the rest of the day’s foods to accommodate it. This seems to be working as another 1kg has been lost over the past 10 days!
Freekeh and quinoa salad with roasted squash and halloumi. (serves 1 but scale up accordingly.)
1 onion squash, deseeded and cut into quarters and quartered again.
1 tomato chopped
1 red onion root retained and cut into 8 segments.
50g piece of halloumi
65g quick cook quinoa and freekeh (I used the Love life waitrose mix)
1 L boiling water
1 tsp za’atar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ginger
oil in a pump spray
- Preheat the oven to 220c.
- Mix together the spices and the salt in a large bowl. Toss in the squash pieces and then roast for 20 to 25 minutes until soft. Spritz with a little oil before putting in the oven. Allow to cool.
- Bring the water to the boil, tip in the quinoa and freekeh and boil for 10 minutes. You can add salt to the water if you want. Drain, rince and cool.
- Using a griddle, cook the onion and the halloumi until they are soft and have griddle lines.
- In another serving bowl combine the squash, freekeh, tomato, onion and halloumi.
- Take a spoon and fork and enjoy your lunch, preferably in the sunshine.
- A lime cheek squeezed over the salad just before eating livens everything up even more.
I am adding this to the “No croutons required” vegan and veggie soups and salads link up for August 2015, which is being hosted by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes and also organised by Lisa, at Lisa’s Kitchen.
By the time I returned from a recent trip to Southern Italy you might have thought I’d be ready to eat something other than tomato bruschetta. Oh no. I love it. Sadly the miserable weather in the UK has put paid to my dreams of fresh crusty bread mopping up slicks of tomato juice and puddles of olive oil. So how to get my fix?
Bruschetta tarts, that’s how. By replacing the bread with puff pastry and by baking the tart and tomatoes I could keep the flavours I craved without giving myself a chill. The slight roasting of the tomatoes also gets over the fact that at the moment most British tomatoes haven’t seen much sunshine and are occasionally somewhat insipid. Roasting concentrates their flavours well. I used the Ischia bruschetta herb mix I bought on holiday. You could easily replicate it by using oregano, garlic, chilli flakes and salt.
Use all butter puff if you can. I popped my tomatoes on a bed of caramellised onions as I had some in the fridge. You could easily use pesto or mozzarella too. It is a great way to hide vegetables. Spinach, mushroom duxelle or a squash puree would work well. If you wanted to make a family sized one just use a whole sheet of puff rather than cutting the sheet into four individual pieces. Ideal for a picnic, canapes or as lunchtime dish. Use any and every tomato variety you like, mix colours, sizes and varieties for flavour and effect.
1 pack all butter puff pastry, ready rolled.
A variety of tomatoes thickly sliced,
caramelised onions, pesto or mozzarella to make a base for the tomatoes. You could use a variety of vegetables here.
salt, pepper, dried oregano etc to season.
- Unroll the pastry and allow to come to room temperature for 10 minutes or so.
- Preheat the oven to 200c.
- Either place the whole sheet of puff onto a parchment lined baking tray or cut the puff sheet into four equal pieces and place onto the lined tray.
- Take a sharp knife and run a line almost through the pastry 1 cm from the edge of the pastry. Use a fork to prick the base area of the tart.
- Part bake for 5 minutes and then remove from the oven. Leave on the baking tray and add the filling. Lay a base of onions and top with layer of tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Make it look as attractive as possible.
- Bake for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve with a salad and a glass of wine if you can.
I’m going to link these bruschetta tarts up to the ExtraVeg challenge, run by Helen over at Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy. This months round up is being hosted by Jen at Jen’s Food.
Now, I’m of an age to remember family members spending time on the Cabbage soup diet. No taste, no pleasure and far too much flatulence. There was an amount of weight loss but boredom quickly set in and the lure of a sticky bun often won the dieters over. Za’atar spiced pepper and aubergine soup is different. I’m determined that the soups I make are tasty. These soups are really helping me in my #fattofitter journey but taste and satisfaction are vital too.
Simply roasting the aubergine, peppers and tomatoes with a thin smear of oil and a good dust of the savoury and sour za’atar spice mix really enhances all the flavours. The aubergine gives the soup a silky smoothness too. Roasting makes the dish a little smoky also. Next time I make this I’ll add in a clove of garlic as I roast the vegetables. You can try with or without the garlic. It’s up to you.
I had some lovely homemade jelly like chicken stock which I used as a basis for the soup but a vegetable stock or bouillon would work just fine.
Za’atar spiced pepper and aubergine soup
1 aubergine, halved lengthways
1 pepper, seeded and cored, cut into large chunks
2 tomatoes, halved
1 clove of garlic
500 ml stock
1 tsp olive oil
za’atar spice blend
salt and pepper
Sour cream to serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 220c.
- Place the vegetable pieces onto the baking tray, add the oil. Scatter over a tsp of za’atar and mix well with your hands until the vegetables are well coated.
- Roast the vegetables for 25 to 30 minutes until softened and a little charred.
- Allow the vegetables to cool a little, remove the skins and place the vegetables in a large saucepan.
- Pour over the stock. Bring slowly up to temperature. Using a stick blender blitz until smooth. Taste and season with the salt and pepper.
- Serve with a spoon of soured cream if you wish and a pinch of za’atar too.
Many apologies for a lack of posts at Mintcustard. I’ve taken a little break completely as I was on holiday and given my recent health blip I wanted to go away and relax completely. The trouble with holidays are that they often accompanied by indulgence and treats. But I am trying hard to change my diet and my lifestyle. How was I going to do that and still have fun?
As I have said in the past, no food should be demonised. For me, the changes I’m making are all about balance. As we were holidaying in Ischia, the sister island to Capri that few people have heard of, there would be some challenges. At a first glance Southern Italian food might seem to be carb loaded pizza, pasta wine and gelati.
Look a little further and glorious plates of seafood appear, alongside the freshest of vegetables and simple one or two ingredient dishes in the cucina povera style.
The fact that the weather was scorching, the hotel was a third of the way up the volcano and we walked everywhere meant that we were burning up calories all the time. I kept track of both my food and my exercise via an app on my phone. I swam everyday too, so the odd pizza or cold beer wasn’t a problem.
One dish that I love and rediscovered during our trip was bruschetta. Every restaurant, bar and nonna has their own version. Each one different and every single one I tried was delicious. Some toasted the bread, others simply warmed it with garlic. One had celery and chilli added, others were spritzed with lemon. They all had the freshest, reddest tomatoes as the star ingredient. Many were straight from a garden next to the place they wer ebeing served. Tomatoes that dripped liquid sunshine and who I suspect had never been in a fridge in their lives.
Oh, an I lost another kilo whilst we were away. Even with pizza, pasta and several sorbets being consumed too!
I have a version of bruschetta on Mintcustard but I’ll be making a new twist on this as soon as the sun comes out.
Not every tomato you come across in the shops really tastes as tomatoey as it should. Roasting tomatoes is a way I find intensifies their flavour. Adding a few cloves of garlic and a sprig or two of basil adds to the flavour profile also. I’m trying out lots of soup recipes at the moment. Partly to get me to eat more vegetables and also as a way to have a nutricious lunch that can be eaten one handed. Teachers are often marking or peacekeeping with the other. Sadly the other inhabitants of Mintcustard Mansions have decided they like my soup too, having spent years telling me that soup wasn’t a proper meal! I’m having to make a larger quantity to keep everyone happy.
I’ve lost another kg too.
Garlicky roasted tomato minestrone soup.
6 good sized tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves, squashed but not peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to season
sprigs of fresh basil
1 litre of stock
75g minestrone soup pulse and pasta mix (I use the Waitrose one)
How to …..
- Preheat the oven to 220 c.
- Place the halved tomatoes, garlic, oil, seasoning and basil into a heatproof dish. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the house begins to smell sweet and garlicky.
- Whilst the tomatoes and garlic roast, bring the stock to a boil. Tip in the minestrone soup pulse and pasta mix and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes.
- Once roasted, peel the tomatoes and garlic and tip into a large sauce pan. Add in any cooking juices from the pa and the roasted basil too.
- Strain the pulses, reserving the liquid. Keep the cooked pasta and pulses to one side for the moment.
- Pop the liquid in with the tomatoes and garlic. Blitz with a hand blender until smooth.
- Stir in the pasta and pulses.
- Serve with a chiffonade of basil, or a swirl of basil oil if you have it.