Saturday, 16 February 2013

Expert Blogger Awards- are you a winner?

Sometimes just commenting on a post you're impressed with doesn't seem enough, so I created the "Expert Blogger Award". This award is for bloggers who not only have attractive and interesting blogs, but are real experts in their field; those cooks who can tell you all the correct techniques and who have so much knowhow about ingredients from many different cuisines, who take fantastic pictures and often include tips and step-by-step instructions. Or just any blogger who is a great writer, photographer and is knowledgeable and informative about their subject, whatever that may be. Those bloggers I have awarded are:

  • Anisha of Flavours, who really knows her stuff on veganism, yoga and health, and is becoming an expert photographer too.
  • Gauri, the Runner Girl in the Kitchen, who has  impressed me lately with her detox/ diet knowhow and running expertise.
  • Inside a British Mum's Kitchen- Not a vegetarian blog, but she does post a lot of vegetarian recipes. Mary's technical expertise in cooking is awesome, if her lovely photos are anything to go by! And I know that she is also involved in online cooking classes too.
  • Foodomania: This relatively new blog has grown so rapidly due to Kavitha's hard work and blogging expertise that she is fast establishing herself as a culinary authority in the blogosphere due to the wide scope of her recipes, which span many cuisines, and her great informative pictures. She's also doing a wonderful job of promoting vegetarianism!
  • Kitchen Queen at Home Cook Food-  I'm just getting acquainted with this blog, but already it's becoming one of my must-reads. There's no telling what she will rustle up next and it's all so expertly put together.
  • Mel Makes: This is not a food blog, but Mel's technical expertise in sewing and crafting makes her blog stand out a mile; it's clear by her beautiful presentation and photos that she is a true artist! I will probably never make any of her creations, (two left thumbs when it comes to sewing machines.!) but I love reading about them, and also about the adventures of her cat Boris, whose "help" is also very entertainingly documented.
  • My Culinary Trial Room : I love anything with an experimental twist, and this blog is a great one for that. I admire Vimitha's sheer pluckiness in attempting (very successfully, I might add) so many new dishes and putting a new twist on old ones. She surely rates as an expert innovator in the kitchen! 
  • Post-Punk KitchenSimply a great place for vegan cooking! This space deserves all the recognition it gets for the sheer variety of vegan goodies it offers and the use of really health-giving ingredients.
  • Prema's Culinary: Premalatha has based her whole blog on sharing her expertise, especially the beautifully-decorated cakes. She shows you how really well with detailed step-by-step illustrated instructions. She is truly an expert!
  • Cuisine Delights: Chandrani is not only an extremely knowledgeable cook, but also an expert in hosting events, where lots of different bloggers can link up their recipes on a theme to make a collection, which is then shared in a roundup as well as on the original event announcement post. It's a great way to find new blogs to read and to get your blog read by more people too.
If your blog doesn't appear here, please don't think you are not appreciated! There is something amazing about all the blogs I follow (that's why I follow them!) so over the next few months I'm planning to make more awards.
If you have won an award this time, I will also notify you in a comment on a very recent post of yours. Please feel free to pass this award on to as many bloggers as you like who fit the description- there's a lot of talent out there that deserves to be recognised! (Note: Please link to their blogs and reproduce the award logo so we can all share it!) 

Friday, 15 February 2013

Mexican Recipe Collection!

Enchiladas with refried beans and guacamole

I have linked the  following recipes from this blog up with this event by My Food Treasures and Erivumpuliyumm: can't wait to see all the other yummy submissions...

  • Enchiladas 
  • Seitan Fajitas
  • Tangy Lime Guacamole
  • Chocolate Avocado Semifreddo
Just follow the links above to the event to see the recipes with all the others!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Love Your Heart Tart- gluten free vegan tomato flan

Sort of a crustless flan or savoury clafoutis... but tastes good, whatever it is!

Tomatoes are good for your heart-it's official- see here for details of their benefits. Not only that, but this tart has no pastry and no dairy products either. It is a kind of savoury clafoutis, I suppose;  low in carbs and high in protein and gluten free too. We just had to invent something that was healthy for Valentine's Day, but after a slice of this with a selection of salads perhaps, you can feel free to indulge in some chocolatey treats!  The amounts in this recipe serve 4-5 people. (4 if they're especially hungry.)

1 cup (250ml) gram (aka chickpea/ garbanzo/ baisen) flour
1 tsp seasalt
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1/2 tsp compound hing*      *check it is made with rice flour not wheat flour if you are using this.
1 tsp each dried basil and oregano
a pinch of coarse black pepper
1 tsp gluten free baking powder (such as Dove's Farm/ Barkat brands)
350ml soya milk
12 black olives, stoned and halved
1/2 a bell green pepper, chopped finely
150-250g (depends on size) cherry or cherry plum tomatoes, halved. (If some or all of them are yellow, you can omit the turmeric to show their colour off.)

  • Saute the bell pepper until soft and set aside.
  • Whisk together all the ingredients in a large bowl except the gluten free baking powder, gradually adding the soya milk last to avoid lumps. 
  • Stir in the gluten free baking powder.
  • Pour into a damp silicone mould or oiled shallow heatproof dish and place the tomatoes in the batter, cut side downwards so as to give a studded effect. If they are very small you will have to make sure your dish is large so the batter is not so deep that it covers them.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 200C until set but not overcooked on top. (Test with a skewer.)
If you'd like to make your Valentine a gluten and sugar free sweet treat, try this recipe for hazelnut cookies .... and have a lovely day!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Cherry Almond Chocolates for Valentine's Day- vegan

These rich, indulgent chocolates make the perfect Valentine's treat!
We have finally bought a microwave, now that we're sure technology has moved on sufficiently to make them safe (and even if not our phones are probably radiating the stuff at us anyway), so melting the chocolate for these was a breeze! If you don't have a microwave then use the classic method of melting your chocolate in a double boiler/ bain marie (basically a heatproof bowl sitting over a pan of hot water). Whichever method you use, though, be sure not to overheat your chocolate as it will spoil the texture and shine. With Valentine's day looming on Thursday, if you want to make your loved one a sweet treat full of the antioxidant and theobromine-rich qualities of cocoa, then these quick and easy chocolates are for you!

For best results use little silicone chocolate moulds; they peel off the set chocolate easily and without damaging it.
This recipe made enough for 8 little chocolates and 3 big ones made in heart-shaped silicone mini muffin cases. If you have enough small moulds, you could make 16 or more of the little ones.
200g dark cooking chocolate (I used Lindt as it was on offer at my local supermarket)
25g glace cherries (about 5 or 6)
50g almonds
1 tab coconut oil
1 tab golden syrup
1 tab cocoa powder
  • Using a bain marie or microwave, melt about 1/3 of the chocolate and line the moulds. Leave to set. Hint: To get a thin and even layer, use a small pastry brush or clean paintbrush. If you're in a hurry, like me, a teaspoon will do!
  • Meanwhile, crush the almonds in a bag with a rolling pin and chop the cherries as finely as possible.
  • When the chocolate linings are set, fill them about 1/3 full with the cherries and almonds.
  • Now melt and mix together the cocoa, coconut oil and golden syrup together with another 1/3 of the chocolate and top up the moulds with this. 
  • Melt the remainder of the chocolate and use it to cover over the last layers of each chocolate. Level them off if you can, as when they're set they will stand up nicely.
  • Leave to set. Don't be tempted to put in the fridge or freezer, as the abrupt change on temperature will take away the glossiness of the chocolate and may even cause an unsightly white "bloom" on the surface.
I'd love to send this off to a Valentine's event, so let me know if you know anyone who's hosting- thanks!

This goes to Sweet Luv event at Cook's Joy 

...and to Cooking with Love at Hema's Adugemane

...and to Valentine's Treat from Indrani, hosted by Cuisine Delights

Sunday, 10 February 2013

How-to 9 : Make Chapattis the Easy Way

Leave plain or brush with a little olive oil (or ghee/ melted butter if you are not vegan).
Chapattis make an excellent change from rice with a curry, but are even more versatile than that: made thin, they can be tortillas for Mexican dishes such as enchiladas, fajitas and quesadillas, and made slightly thicker, they form a great base for an instant pizza- just add your choice of toppings and pop under the grill. Many of you will be well-versed in the art of making chapattis -or rotis as they are also called- and will have your own way of making them; purists, look away now- this is our way, which we have refined over the years so that it is as simple as possible and needs no special equipment. It's not quite the traditional way, but it does give good results quite easily. These wholemeal chapattis are made with ordinary wholemeal bread flour rather than atta, and are really economical to make. Some people add a little oil to the dough to make keep the chapattis soft, but if you get the water content right this shouldn't be necessary. You can puff the chapattis under the grill or over a flame using a special wire mesh on a long handle or tongs, but we find that if you are careful you can puff them in the pan. Here is the ingredients list, followed by step-by-step pictures with instructions.

To make 6 chapattis:
200g wholemeal bread flour
a pinch of salt
just under 150ml water

1: You can use either an Indian tava or an ordinary non-stick frying pan.

2: Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, and add the water gradually, stirring to make a firm dough- not too sticky, but not too hard either.
3: Change to using your hands, and knead lightly for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and quite elastic.

4: Divide the dough into 6 and roll into balls. Flatten a ball with the heel of your hand to make a disc; this helps  you to get the chapatti circular when you roll it out. Some people also make a thumbprint or twist in the centre- we don't generally bother.

5:  Roll out the disc into a thin circle- but not so thin that you can't lift it from the work surface. We tend to use white flour for dusting when rolling, as the bran in wholemeal separates out and doesn't stop the dough sticking so easily.

6: Don't worry if you can't make perfect circles at first- they will still taste just as good. If you are worried, however, you could always cut round a plate!

7: Knock off the excess flour from the uncooked chapatti before you put it in the pan or tava , or it will burn in the pan. Do this by patting it from hand to hand. (Hard to photograph, sorry!)
8: After a few seconds on the heat, the chappati will "set" and small blisters will start to form.  Don't turn up the heat too high if the chapatti is very thin, or it will scorch before it puffs up. Go for medium-high heat, and preheat the pan before the first chapatti goes on. If you find they are browning too fast, just turn it down a little.

9: We find the secret to puffing chapattis in the pan is to turn them frequently. Use a spatula, tongs or your fingers (carefully!) Soon the blisters get bigger and the chapatti begins to brown...

10: ... until finally it puffs right up! Be careful not to scorch the parts that are still in contact with the pan, though. Some people push the chapatti down to keep it touching the pan. Don't worry if it doesn't puff up completely, or it just forms lots of smaller blisters; it will still cook through.

11: When fully puffed and flecked with brown, remove from the heat.

12:  The chapatti will sink quickly once out of the pan. Keep them stacked  and wrapped in foil until they are cooked and you're ready to eat them. They can be re-heated over a gas flame if you need to. You can be cooking a chapatti while rolling the next one if you concentrate. With practice, they take less time to make.