I do quite like making salads using a range of ingredients. Even as it gets colder I do like a salad either as a meal in itself or as an accompaniment to something else.
This was a recent tasty salad that I made using butternut squash. I cut up the butternut squash into chunks and roasted in the oven with some olive oil.
Once this was cooked I constructed the salad. I started off with a bed of mixed leaves. I quite like butterhead lettuce you can get from various supermarkets, or the rosa verde salad bag from M&S.
To this I add cubes of cucumber, sliced tomato, slices of red pepper, sweetcorn, pomegranate seeds, mozzarella, thinly sliced radish and Serrano ham. I also used a nut and seed mix from Aldi to add some crunch.
You can dress the salad with a dressing, sometimes I do a simple French dressing, sometimes I let the natural flavours work their magic.
We tried these today. Birds Eye Green Cuisine meat-free meatballs.
Our Meat-free meatballs are super tasty combined with a home-made tomato sauce and served with pasta. They’re loaded with our signature pea protein* combined with a unique mix of herbs and spices to create a delicious meat-free alternative.
We had them plain. Trying to recreate that IKEA type meal of meatballs.
I wasn’t too impressed with them. They were easy to cook, but I was expecting a stronger flavour.
I think they would work well in a tomato sauce on top of pasta.
Though I have bought the Lidl Fritto Misto from their Italy week quite a few times, the reality is that it’s okay, but not good. It’s mainly squid, in a cripsy batter.
It can be quite challenging to cook, as some of the pieces are stuck together, making them quite large chunks and these are difficult to cook as they are large. If you try and break them apart then the batter breaks which means the pieces also don’t cook properly.
Having said that, I quite like the taste and texture.
I have had a few attempts in the past at making gluten free dough balls. I have made a bread dough using gluten free bread flour, however these were rather heavy and heavy. Not quite the Italian dough ball experience I was looking for.
I had used this mix in the past to bake focaccia bread with some success. However I have found that it works well for dough balls as well.
I follow the instructions on the back of the pack, however I don’t use the dried garlic or rosemary. I added 7g of fast acting yeast to the dry mix and then add 300ml of warm water and 30ml of olive oil. Mix until smooth. Leave for two minutes and then mix again vigorously for a further minute.
The end result is a smooth batter.
Then onto baking trays lined with baking parchment add separate desert sized spoonfuls of batter onto the trays.
If possible leave in a warm place for 30 minutes to rise, but I’ve not always needed to do this (sometimes didn’t have the time).
I baked the dough balls in a hot oven, 220°C (200°C fan assisted) for about 15-20 minutes. They should be light, crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
Remove from the baking tray and serve hot with garlic butter or olive oil or other dips.
I quite like cauliflower cheese and I have been enjoying eating this dish from Marks and Spencer’s with some recent Sunday lunches.
It’s described as cauliflower in a cheddar cheese and truffle sauce, topped with acheese, mushroom and chive ciabatta crumb.
There is plenty of caulifower and just the right amount of sauce. I liked the addition of the truffle and though I did think it needed more topping this was a personal preference, and I did enjoy the topping which browned nicely in the oven..
My son found a recipe online for cookies which we tried, though we replaced the standard flours with gluten free variants. These were nice, but they were a little too crisp and a little too sweet. He then adjusted the recipe and the result was tasty chewy gluten free choc chip cookies. What I and my son liked about them was that they were very similar in taste and texture to the fresh (non-gluten) cookies you can buy at supermarkets that he use to enjoy before he went gluten free.
When I was buying cookies from places like Sainsburys I did quite enjoy the raspberry and white chocolate versions. So I was intrigued in Aldi in their store had a pack of raspberry and white chocolate for baking. It was in their specials area, which is a pity as we quite liked the cookies and it might be challenging to find a pack again, hopefully I can find an alternative from another supermarket.
The process is pretty much the same as the process I used on the other cookies.
225g of unsalted butter
125g gluten free bread flour
125g gluten free plain flour
1 egg yolk
100g caster sugar
120g light brown sugar
1 pack of raspberry and white chocolate
One teaspoon salt
One teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Two teaspoons of vanilla essence
Melt the butter in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring frequently. The aim is to boil off some of the water off the butter. The recipe said to go ensure the milk solids got a nutty brown. I was a little wary in case of burning the butter, so didn’t probably go far enough. Once the butter melted and had turned slightly brown this was removed from the heat and cooled to room temperature.
Cream the liquid butter with the sugar, vanilla essence. The idea is to mix it until it is light and fluffy. The recipe calls for an electric mixer, ours was broken, so we did it by hand, which was hard work. Beat in the eggs until they are incorporated into the mixture.
Combine the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda.
Stir in the dry ingredients a third of it at a time until it is incorporated.
Using a wooden spoon fold in the raspberry and white chocolate.
Place six small balls, about 2-3cm across, of dough on a baking tray and bake for 6-9 minutes.
This quantity of ingredients will make about eighteen cookies.
After cooking leave on the tray and then after three minutes move to a rack to cool further.
I have a simple recipe for a gluten free loaf cake, but despite usually having no problems, I did recently have a bit of a disaster.
The recipe is quite simple and is based on the weight of two eggs
3 standard eggs
Take the same weight of two of the eggs of soft butter
Take the same weight of two of the eggs in caster sugar
Take the same weight of two of the eggs in self-raising gluten-free flour
Cream the sugar and butter until you have a smooth consistency.
Beat the eggs, add some vanilla essence.
Stir the eggs into the creamed butter and sugar with some of the flour, until the mixture is smooth and consistent.
Then fold in the remaining flour until it is combined with the rest of the mixture.
Spoon into a loaf tin and bake in a 180º normal oven or 160º fan oven for 35 minutes or until a metal skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
The main issue I had was I thought it was cooked. I used a metal skewer to see if it was cooked and after inserting into the cake it came out clean. I think that was because it was only about 25 minutes into the cooking time.
However, alas the entire middle of the cake was uncooked, so though it looked okay after coming out of the oven, as it cooled it completely collapsed in on itself.
There was no way to salvage the cake, so I started over and this time cooked it for the right amount of time, so this time it worked.
Went shopping at the weekend in Weston-super-Mare, which to be honest, is now quite a depressing experience with all the shops that have closed down, and many of these closed down even before the covid-19 lockdown.
We went into the Sovereign Centre to go to Waterstones, this is a shopping centre that has a food hall with no food places from which you can buy food! They converted the Druckers Café into this food hall, no one took up the other kiosks or stands, Druckers closed and so we were left with a food hall where you can’t buy food! Well not entirely accurate, there is a Parsons’ pasty shop in the centre, but you’re not allowed to eat in the food hall as it has been roped off!
So as we walked outside the Sovereign Centre it was a nice surprise to bump into the Weston-super-Mare food fair.
We looked around the stalls, in the end we bought some gluten free scotch eggs, which were very nice. As with the recent Portishead food fair I was slightly disappointed with the stalls, but even so it was nice to see such a busy market in Weston.