White Mushroom Lasagna

A colleague recently reminded me about the HelloFresh concept (weekly delivery of ingredients & recipes for a certain number of meals for the family) and offered for me to try a box on a *free* coupon that she had been given. I had tried the concept in July last year (read the review here) and thought that the concept was pretty good, but I didn’t like the fact that recipes/website were in Dutch only and that there wasn’t much choice when it came to the meals each week.

The good news is that they have evolved!! Although the website is still only available in Dutch or French, you do get an email that allows you download the recipes in English just before your order is delivered. AND you can choose within 10 menu’s that change weekly! (Another bonus is that I notice that their price has remained the same=> 53€ for 5 meals for 2 people)

We got an original box => 5 meals for 2 people. And I have to say that a few of those meals were portioned for 3 rather than 2… meaning that we have some soup in the freezer and HIM or I could have leftovers for lunch the next day. One of those meals was the White Mushroom Lasagna – which was delicious but very filling & rich!

white-mushroom-lasagne

I have never made a béchamel / white sauce like this before – but talk about hiding the vegetables!!

We are currently signed up for a regular original box and I am loving the fact that for a few nights each week, I don’t have to *think* about “What’s for supper?” and the ingredients/groceries required – PLUS it has allowed us to widen our repertoire of cooking (and eating) and increase our vegetable intake. Indeed… we are definitely getting our 5-a-day in now! (I also signed up for their wine box but that is another story :))

This recipe is definitely a make again AND perfect for a vegetarian!

White Mushroom Lasagna
4 portions

1 head of cauliflower
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
200ml single cream
50g cheese, grated
lasagna sheets
500ml vegetable stock
butter
6 Tablespoons flour

  • Cut cauliflower in smaller pieces and using a food processor, make into crumbs
  • Gently fry the onion & garlic & cauliflower in 2 tablespoons of butter for 2minutes in a deep saucepan. Remove from heat
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the same saucepan
  • Stir in the flour, mixing for 2minutes at a medium heat
  • Add stock slowly, mixing well with a whisk to avoid lumps
  • Bring to the boil, then add the cauliflower mix along with the mushrooms to the sauce
  • Add the single cream and 1/3 of the cheese (along with Salt & Pepper to taste)
  • leave on the heat for 2minutes
  • in an oven dish, layer the lasagna sheets & sauce => repeating until all the sauce is used up
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese
  • Bake at 200C for 20-25minutes

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Courgette Fritters

We have been so blessed in Brussels with some beautiful sunny spring/summer days. And because of this – I haven’t felt the need to settle down on the couch after putting Little Miss to bed and finishing up the chores… because the sun is still up and shining at 8/9pm at night!

Therefore, I have made a few more recipes and been able to blog a bit more – yippee!

We had a glut of courgette and I am trying to find some different recipes to try out … so when I saw this Courgette Fritter recipe on the BBC Good Food Website – I knew it was going to be on the list!

courgette fritters 1

As simple as 1-2-3 and delicious served with a side of sweet chilli sauce (I used the bottled variety as I don’t have THAT much energy 🙂 ) – and I added 50g of grated parmesan to the mix as well.

Would I make it again – yes, it took about 5-10minutes to make the batter and the same amount of time to cook the fritters – so if you are looking for a quick and easy snack/side/starter – this is it!

courgette fritters 2

Courgette Fritters

1 courgette (grated)
50g flour
2 eggs
50g parmesan
50ml milk
seasonings
oil (for frying)

  • Place flour in a mixing bowl
  • Whisk in the eggs
  • Gradually whisk in the milk to make a smooth batter
  • Stir in the courgette & parmesan and season well
  • Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan
  • Cook spoonful’s of the batter turning after 2-3minutes until golden

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Goats cheese and chive soufflé

This is probably considered a *cheat* post – but in my defense…  I had watched the same episode of Hairy Bikers making these Goats cheese & chive soufflé’s as my friend… and I was in her kitchen at the time of their making (I even beat the egg whites…before they were folded in) … NOT to mention the speedy consumption of the finished product.

But I have to confess that they were not made in my own kitchen by my own 2 hands, but instead by my wonderfully talented friend Sarah…

The recipe can be found on the BBC Good Food website here

And is a definite crowd pleaser! These were made into individual dishes (6 portions) and in my humble opinion was a better idea than in one dish… as they have a tendency to collapse after a certain amount of time – plus plating from one dish isn’t as pretty!

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Goats cheese & chive Soufflé

300ml milk
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch of thyme
300g goats cheese
50g butter
50g flour
4 eggs, separated
3 Tablespoons of chives (finely chopped)

  • Using baking parchment paper, create a collar for each of your butter greased ramekins (remember to butter the parchment paper too!)
  • Place milk with onion, bay leaf & thyme into a pot. Bring to a simmer and then leave to cool for 15min. Then strain into a jug
  • Cut the rind off the goats cheese and slice into smallish pieces
  • Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in flour and then gradually add the milk stirring between addition to create a smooth but thick consistency
  • Leave on the heat for a further 2 minutes before stirring in the cheese
  • Whisk egg yolks and stir into milk mixture until smooth
  • Whisk egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture (starting with 1 ladleful)
  • Pour into your greased ramekins & bake on a preheated baking tray for 20-25min at 220C

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Healthy Vegetable Samosas

My recipe choice is often based on the food I have in the fridge… so when my lovely Greek colleague (who saved my bacon by being my replacement for 4months while I was on maternity leave) gave me the contents of her fridge/cupboard before she returned to Athens… I decided to find a recipe to use up the Filo Pastry that was included in this goodie bag!

I have a whole range of Weight Watchers cookbooks (even if I don’t follow the program) and found this recipe in one of them (but you can also find it online here).

I adapted it slightly by using a teaspoon of medium curry powder mixture instead of their mix of cumin/coriander/chilli/turmeric… etc . And I do love the idea of oven baking as opposed to frying… and for any purists out there… I am well aware that filo pastry is not the pastry normally used for Samosas… so these aren’t traditionally Indian, but they sure do taste good!

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Would I make it again? Yes – especially when I have wonderful Sous Chef’s like M and Tabs who rolled and made the gorgeous triangles … while I only added value by making the mixture 🙂

Healthy Vegetable Samosas

2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
1 medium carrot, peeled & diced
1 onion, finely chopped
50g peas
1 heaped teaspoon medium curry powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 sheets Filo Pastry (or until you use up all the mixture)

  • Boil carrots & potatoes in a pot of water until softened
  • Drain & partially mash
  • In a frying pan, cook onion, garlic & peas
  • Stir into the potato mixture along with the curry powder
  • Cut filo pastry into strips
  • Placing a tablespoon of the mixture on one side, fold over and over to make a triangle
  • use a bit of water to seal the mixture when you come to the end
  • Bake at 160C for 30min

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Aubergine Caprese Salad

As already mentioned… our lives have changed recently with a new arrival in the family (a gorgeous baby girl… and even though we know that we are biased about her beauty… our friends & family seem to agree with us :))

But this is also means that I am on maternity leave… and learning to live with a whole new schedule… which includes being awake around 4am…

Now most of you would be encouraging me to go back to sleep… but for some bizarre reason, I can go to sleep at the same time as her at 9pm.. and back to sleep instantly after the midnight feed… but after the 3am feed, I am normally WIDE-AWAKE… so I thought I may as well make the most of this time … right??

This does not mean that I am baking or cooking at this hour… but it does mean that I can get some writing time… and I can also go through my “must make”  recipe pile!

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I found this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (July 2013 issue) – although they called theirs “melting middles aubergine parcels” with focus on BBQ cooking & eating. The only difference to my interpretation is that after constructing the parcels – I didn’t put them back on a grill to melt the mozzarella – mostly because HIM looked at me strangely and said “But Caprese salad is eaten cold??”. (FYI – Caprese salad = mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive oil salad). And of course – I used ready-made pesto as opposed to making my own (why? Because I have a 2week old baby to look after … so short cuts are my favourite thing in the kitchen at the moment :))

This is a yummy tapas, starter, vegetarian or main meal kind of dish and would definitely be made again in our house!

aubergine caprese 1

Aubergine Caprese Salad

2 aubergine, sliced long ways
olive oil
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 mozzarella balls, drained & sliced
basil leave
ready-made pesto

  • Brush slices of aubergine with olive oil and either grill or fry them (I fried mine)
  • spread a small amount of pesto onto each cooked slice of aubergine, add a slice of tomato & a slice of mozzarella and then using a toothpick – wrap the aubergine slice around & secure
  • You can either add the basil to the wraps or on the plate
  • Season with salt/pepper to taste and a good drizzle of olive oil is an added extra!
  • Serve either warm or at room temperature with extra pesto

aubergine caprese 3

Introducing… Flavour Delivered

Just before I went to South Africa on holiday, I was lucky enough to receive a spice kit from Flavour Delivered – another company that has joined the food delivery system by offering to delivery Indian spice kits (as well as the recipes) directly to your home.

The difference that Flavour Delivered offers is that there is no perishables in your delivery – meaning that you can make up your meal whenever you want to! (Obviously spices lose a bit of their taste over time, so the earlier you make this, the fresher it will be!)

The concept is pretty simple – 25€ gets you 3 spice kits (Meat, fish or vegetarian… ) delivered to your door over the space of a 3 month subscription (i.e. 1 spice kit per month over a 3month period). With each kit providing the recipe & spices for 1 Indian meal (including sides) for 4 people.

The up side of this concept is that if you love a good curry but don’t want to go out and buy 20 large spice jars … you don’t have to! You get the perfectly measured out quantities of each spice in the kit – so there is no hassle or wastage! (As I don’t cook a lot of curries from scratch – this was a huge benefit for me!)

I got sent a spice kit for a vegetarian curry dish consisting of Tandoori Mushroom, chilli-coriander naan bread & cucumber Raita:

spices

So this past Sunday – I finally had the time & energy to try it out! Starting with the Chilli-coriander naan… which took 1 and 1/2 hours of preparation – but in the end was totally worth it… as I had never made naan bread from scratch before and it was delicious!

ingredients
chilli-coriander naan ingredients
Homemade chilli & coriander naan bread
Homemade chilli & coriander naan bread – still warm and brushed with dripping butter… Mmmm

The Tandoori Mushroom dish took 40min prep time and I started it about half way through the proofing period of the naan bread

Tandoori mushroom ingredients
Tandoori mushroom ingredients
Final Tandoori Mushroom curry
Final Tandoori Mushroom curry

and of course the cucumber raita took just a few minutes of chopping, mixing, etc which was easy to do while other items where bubbling away, etc. In total – it took me 2hours in the kitchen before we sat down to eat – this is normally longer than I would normally spend making a Sunday night supper – but in the end – both HIM and I enjoyed the fruits of my labour!

curry 5

Our little coffee table was literally groaning under the amount of food (and this isn’t even all of it!!! There were still 4 more naans to be cooked and still some curry in the pot! But as mentioned – this was a meal for 4 people… not 2 (and a bit) :))

curry 2

HIM and I both thoroughly enjoyed the meal (and due to the quantity – we will happily be eating off the leftovers this week) – but we both agreed that the tandoori curry would have been “meatier” and we both would have upped the spiciness – HIM is convinced that I used the wrong type of chilli. (HIM also had a 2nd helping – which is ALWAYS a good sign!)

curry 1

Would we make it again? Yes – I would love to do this again, but as mentioned, I would make it with chicken and up the heat! I think that this is a great family or friends sharing kind of meal… a definite crowd pleaser!

Flavour Delivered offers bloggers the opportunity to try out a spice kit – (limited number per month) – all you have to do is complete the media form telling them more about your blog!

Disclosure: I feel it is very important to disclose that I did not pay for this kit – but I do promise that this a 100% accurate review of my experience & I was not reimbursed for writing this.

Asparagus Risotto

This dismal winter weather that is setting in, makes me crave comfort food!

And what better comfort food is there…than Italian!!! The cheese & carb combinations of this wonderful country make me smile 🙂 From Pizza to Pasta to Risotto (to name a few) – this cuisine choice has flavour written all over it! Taking simple (but good) ingredients and turning them into a bowl of YUM!

I re-created (& adapted) Francesco Mazzei recipe that was in the Delicious Magazine – by replacing the prosecco with white wine (it was wine from Puglia that we had bought from Olivetus – so I knew it was still QUALITY!). And I used Arborio instead of carnaroli rice.

Arborio:  is the most widely available risotto rice, typically wider & longer, & not as starchy . But the downside is that it absorbs liquid a little less well.

Carnaroli: Variously hailed as the “king” or the “caviar” of all Italian rice. It’s said to produce the creamiest risotto, yet it’s more resistant to overcooking than arborio. Normally available in specialty shops.

Would I make it again? yes…  it is full of flavour – doesn’t require a lot of work & is ready in less than 30min. It does however require your full attention during this time – as stirring and slowly ladling in stock is essential!

Asparagus Risotto

asparagus risotto 3

200g asparagus
350g Arborio Rice
1 tablespoon of olive oil
35g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
125ml white wine
800ml-1l stock (if you use chicken stock like I did – this is obviously no longer vegetarian)
Fresh nutmeg
30g parmesan – grated
1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped

asparagus risotto 1

  • Trim the tips of the asparagus off & place to one side
  • finely slice the stems
  • Heat a large pan with the dry rice – until gently warm, stirring – do not let it brown
  • In a large pot, heat oil & 5g of butter – fry onion for 4-5min until soft
  • Add warm rice – stirring until translucent
  • Add white wine & boil to evaporate alcohol
  • Add stock – one ladle at a time – stirring continuously.
  • Only adding the next ladle of stock when the previous one has been absorbed
  • after 10min – add asparagus stems
  • In another pan, heat 5g butter & little olive oil & fry asparagus tips with a grating of nutmeg until tender
  • When rice is done, switch off the pot, place a lid on top & leave to rest for 5-10minutes
  • Add rest of the butter, parmesan & herbs & give one more stir
  • Serve topped with the asparagus and little bit more parmesan (because no one said no to a bit more cheese – right?)

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Polenta and goats cheese stacks

I am not going to lie… cooking for 10 people (that you might not ever have met before) can be a harrowing experience… even more so if you are travelling the day before or on the actual day of a dinner party (or even just holding down a normal 9-5 job!). Meaning that your prep time is limited… or in my case – needs to be more of a “make-ahead” kind of recipe.

All of this could be a nerve-racking experience – but nothing in life is to be taken too seriously…. so I put on my thinking cap (aka “used google search”) and found the below recipe (which I would use as a starter) from the BBC Good Food Website. It ticked the boxes of make ahead (with the polenta/cheese stacks being able to be chilled up to 2days before use) as well as fulfilling the requirement of having a vegetarian option!

This was the starter for my recent Murder Mystery: Champagne Murders that was held through bookalokal.

Polenta & Goats Cheese Stacks

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400g creamed spinach (cooked)
1.5l vegetable stock
350g quick-cook polenta
50g butter (plus extra)
85g finely grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
200g goats cheese (round log type)
Rocket
Truffle Oil
Pomegranate Seeds
Balsamic reduction
Bresaola (an air-dried salted beef thinly sliced)

  • Prepare/cook your creamed spinach (I used the frozen version that needed to be placed into a pot with a tablespoon of water to melt the cubes)
  • Bring the stock to the boil in a large pan
  • Stir in the polenta in a fine, steady stream – to avoid lumps forming
  • Cook for 5min, stirring all the time, until thick
  • Stir in butter, parmesan, spinach, nutmeg & seasoning
  • Leave to cool
  • Slice each 100g goats cheese log into rounds
  • While polenta is soft, spoon into a large baking dish (this can be done the day before)
  • Bake at 180C for 20min, then place sliced goats cheese on top & return to the oven for a further 20min
  • Place rocket & balsamic reduction onto plates
  • Cut & serve
  • Top with pomegranate seeds, Bresaola & drizzle with truffle oil (obviously – without the Bresaola for the vegetarian)

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Baked Frittata with Broccoli and pasta (SRC June 2014 reveal)

And the June SRC (Secret Recipe Club) reveal is here!!!

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A reminder for those who haven’t seen my previous SRC postings (Apple, Cheese & Beer bread from Edisia’s Notebook, Cinnamon Swirl Buns from The Heritage Cook , and finally – Chocolate Chip Banana Bread from Tasty Gardener ) – the concept revolves around a group of food bloggers who, on a monthly basis get allocated another’s blog to look at – find a recipe – recreate it and blog about it before a certain date.

This particular date is linked to your groups reveal date… and today is the REVEAL for Group A!!

This is my 4th SRC reveal … and my 4th new blog to check out… and I loved reading about Mellissa from A Fit and Spicy Life, who describes herself as a city girl married to a country boy living in a space somewhere in between, along with their 2 dogs. She shares a passion for cooking & drinking wine (kindred souls, I tell you) plus she still finds time to workout (the latter, unfortunately, I do not… or at least I don’t “actively” try to make time for).

Looking for a recipe to recreate from her blog was easy… in fact – I had so many fantastic choices that I didn’t know where to begin… so I sat down quietly, gave it a bit of a methodical thought and finally decided to use ingredients that were in our fridge already… namely, broccoli & eggs!!! The rest, as they say – was easy!

Mellissa’s recipe for Baked Frittata with Spaghetti and Broccoli hit the nail on the head for me! It was a mid-week meal dream = easy to make, easily accessible ingredients and ready in a jiffy! I did however substitute the spaghetti for small macaroni pasta, adjusted the proportions and added more cream… and, when re-making next time – I would even add baby tomatoes & diced ham.

Baked Frittata with Broccoli & Pasta

broccoli pasta fritatta 1

6 eggs
100ml cream
2 cups cooked broccoli
2 cups cooked spaghetti
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Salt/Pepper/Mixed herbs/chilli flakes

  • Mix eggs & cream together
  • Mix pasta & broccoli together & place into a greased baking dish
  • Pour over egg/cream mixture (and add herbs/chilli flakes/salt/pepper to your own liking)
  • Sprinkle cheese over the top
  • Bake at 180C for 25-35minutes until eggs are cooked

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and check out all the other SRC reveals:

Feta stuffed aubergines and courgettes

Today’s recipe is actually so delicious – that I actually start drooling as I type about it….

It was also a recipe “created” or “adapted” from multiple sources and no reference link can be given… because I combined so many idea’s (and what was actually available)… that I can’t really give any ONE blog or website credit.

I knew that there was a beautiful purple jewel of vegetable waiting at home for me (aka – “the aubergine”)… and I also knew that there was an unopened tub of feta , one lonely courgette and a plastic container of tomato pasta sauce in the fridge. All of these became the makings of one of my favourite dishes (of all time).

One thing that I have to admit – although the recipe is quite easy, it is not what I would call a “quick” mid-week dinner… it is something that you make to impress and if you are going to do it… make enough of it… use at least 3 aubergines (instead of the courgette) and remember to give yourself enough time!

Feta Stuffed Aubergines/Courgettes

stuffed veg final

1 aubergine
1 courgette
200g Feta (sliced into finger sections & halved)
400g passatta
2 garlic cloves
half a chilli
1 teaspoon sugar
150ml stock
Olive oil….

  • to make the sauce
  • Fry crushed garlic cloves in a good glug of olive oil in a frying pan
  • Add the passatta, diced chilli & sugar and simmer away for 15-20min at low heat (stirring occasionally)
  • Add the stock about half way through – and any additional seasoning (salt/pepper) to taste
  • Place sauce into an oven proof dish
  • stuffed veg sauce
  • to make the rest
  • Slice the aubergine & courgette into long strips
  • stuffed veg aubergine
  • Place the aubergine onto kitchen paper towel, salt and leave to sit for 10-15minutes (allows the nasty tasty juices to ooze out) – then turn them over and repeat the process
  • Shallow fry aubergines & courgettes (I like using the griddle pan so that they get those beautiful dark lines across tem)
  • stuffed veg fried aubergines
  • Place one piece of feta in each sliced cooked vegetable (aubergine or courgette) and roll up
  • stuffed veg feta
  • Place into oven proof dish with tomato sauce
  • stuffed veg in tomato sauce
  • Repeat until all the veggie slices are used up
  • stuffed veg pre oven 1
  • Spoon some of the tomato sauce on top of each roll & use up rest of the feta over the top
  • stuffed veg pre oven
  • Bake at 200C for 20min
  • stuffed veg post oven

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