About Corina

Food blogger at Searchingforspice.com

Mauritian Chicken Daube

Mauritian Chicken Curry

It’s quite a while since I’ve written about a curry on here.  Far too long in fact, especially considering I would be quite happy to live on curries and spicy stews if I had to choose just one type of food.

Chicken daube is a traditional one pot meal in Mauritius made with chicken, potato and spices.  It’s like a cross between a stew and a curry – all the lovely flavours of a curry but with the consistency of a stew.  Although a daube is traditionally a French stew made with beef, wine and vegetables,  this adaptation has become just as much a traditional Mauritian dish.

If only I could actually go to Mauritius…

I may not be able to travel around the world at the moment and I haven’t even left England during the last three years so trying different spices and cooking up meals like this is the closest I can get to travelling.  Eating this also reminded me of just how much better homemade curries and stews are than anything you can buy and I really really need to make them more often.

I normally like to mix my own spices together but this time I tried a spice blend, Mauritius Massalé from Seasoned Pioneers.   It has a warm peppery flavour and a lovely smell of cinnamon and cloves.   Of course you could use another curry powder or even miss it out altogether and this would still be delicious.   Maybe just add a few cloves and cinnamon. Definitely don’t let not having the right curry powder stop you.

If you do love to try different spices and spice blends and don’t want to mix up your own spices, Seasoned Pioneers have a huge range and it’s worth having a look at what they’ve got.  I’ve recently made a lovely peri peri chicken using their spice rub.

Ingredients – Serves 2

I onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Small piece of root ginger, grated

1 green chilli pepper, finely sliced

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp Seasoned Pioneers Mauritius Massalé spice blend Or curry powder

200g chicken

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 potato, cut into about 8 pieces

Handful of coriander leaves

How to Make Mauritian Chicken Daube

1. Put a little oil in a saucepan and fry the cumin seeds for about 30 seconds.  Then add the onions, ginger, garlic and chilli pepper and cook until soft.

2. Stir in the curry powder and then add the chicken.   Cook and keep turning until the chicken is sealed on all sides but not cooked through.

3. Add the potato, most of the coriander and chopped tomatoes.  Add a little extra water if necessary to just cover the chicken and potatoes.   Bring to the boil and then lower to a simmer for about 40 minutes.

4. Serve with rice and topped with a little of the reserved coriander.

 

 

 

Roasted Vegetable and Harissa Pasta

Roasted vegetables, harissa and pine nuts served with pasta

I quite often stir a spoonful of harissa into couscous or rice to give it some flavour so why not pasta?   It’s also quite normal to just stir a spoonful of pesto into a bowl of pasta so why not harissa?  Exactly.

I had been planning to make this pasta all month long.  I made it last month but a really simple version with just harissa and pasta.   It was one of those days when I didn’t feel like cooking but just wanted to make something quick, easy and tasty.  I was surprised by how much liked it.

This time I made it I wasn’t feeling quite so lazy as before and I also wanted to make the dish a little more interesting and so added some roasted peppers and onions as well as a few pine nuts.   That was all.   You don’t need to do anything else, although if this is too simple for you, I’m not stopping you from making your own harissa.  Whether you do or not, this pasta recipe is really easy and perfect for a lazy week night.  It’s hot and spicy from the harissa and if you love hot pasta sauces I promise you, you’ll love this.

Well, back to my inspiration for this dish, a couple of months ago I made a lovely olive and dukkah pasta for the Secret Recipe Club from Rachel Cotterill’s blog.   That dish was probably the dish that got me thinking about mixing up Middle Eastern and North African flavours with pasta and that led me to using harissa on the pasta dish I mentioned earlier.   When I saw that Rachel was hosting this month’s Pasta Please and that the theme was fusion, I felt I had to take part.

Ingredients – Serves 2

200g pasta

1 red pepper, sliced

1 red onion, cut into 8 chunks

2 tbsp pine nuts

2 tbsp harissa paste

How to Make Roasted Vegetable and Harissa Pasta

1. Put the onions and peppers on a roasting tray and drizzle on a little olive oil.   Roast in the oven at 200c for 20 minutes.

2. Put the pasta on to boil.  At the same time put the pine nuts in another pan and heat them gently so they brown slightly.

3. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan with a little of the water.    Add the roasted vegetables and harissa and heat through.

4. Serve the pasta with the pine nuts sprinkled on top.

This month Pasta Please is hosted by Rachel Cotterill and is run by Tinned Tomatoes.

Pasta Please

Vegetable Chilli Stuffed Marrow

Baked Marrow stuffed with vegetable chilli

Marrows marrows marrows. Marrows have been my discovery of the season this year. I’ve gone from imagining they were boring and bland to absolutely loving stuffing them to make healthy and delicious meals.  If only I’d discovered them a few years ago I could have been a marrow recipe expert by now!

What’s that?  You don’t share my love of marrows?   You might be scared of coming to my house in case I serve you up three courses of marrow?    Hmmm, I think that might be a good idea.   Maybe I could serve a marrow ratatouille on crispy bread with fresh herbs and olive oil for a starter, followed by one of my delicious stuffed marrows and then for dessert I could concoct a yummy moist chocolate cake with marrow in it.   I’m sure you’ve had carrot cake so don’t turn your nose up.

To tell you the truth, I haven’t made a marrow cake yet and I think it might be a  bit late now but the idea is brewing.   I WILL get back to you about that one.

But, going back to this recipe.   It’s basically just a vegetarian chilli  inside a marrow.   Nothing could be simpler.   What you do need is good hot chilli peppers, if you like your food hot that is.   Use whatever your favourites are or even just use some hot sauce instead but it is important that the chilli has lots of flavour.   The flavour will then soak into the marrow and make it just as delicious.   I loved the cheese on top too.   Cheese goes so well with tomatoes and chillies and makes this a really comforting dish too.   I didn’t have any coriander when I made this but if I’d had some, a little fresh coriander stirred into the chilli just before putting it in the marrow would have been lovely too.

Ingredients – Serves 6

1 marrow (overgrown zucchini)

1 red onion, finely diced

2 green chillies, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 peppers, sliced

1/4 aubergine, diced

400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed

400g tin chopped tomatoes

Black pepper

Olive oil

A little grated cheese to serve (optional)

How to Make Vegetable Chilli Stuffed Marrow

1. Cut the marrow in half and scrape out all the seeds from the middle.  Place on a baking tray, season and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake in the oven at 180C for an hour.

2. Put a little oil in a saucepan.   Cook the onion, chillies and garlic gently until soft then add all the other vegetables including the kidney beans and tinned tomatoes.   If it is a little dry, add a little water too and then leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

3. Spoon the  chilli into the marrow and return to the oven for 20 minutes.

4. Serve with a little grated cheese on top.   Any leftover marrow can be frozen.

The marrow was picked at Garsons, which is my local Pick Your Own farm and so I am linking this to Shop Local at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.  I am also linking to Simple and in Season hosted by Ren Behan. Finally I am linking to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted by A New Addition, as picking your own vegetables is much cheaper than buying them in the shops. Credit Crunch Munch is run by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food for All.

Shop Localsimple and in SeasonCredit Crunch Munch

Salmon Miso Soup with Soba Noodles

Salmon miso noodle soup

This is the type of meal you want to make if you are trying to be super healthy.  Just eating, even slurping it makes you feel good.   Healthy salmon, green vegetables and brown soba noodles in a miso broth.  Of course, you could use rice noodles or egg noodles instead but there’s something about brown carbs that just makes you feel virtuous – brown pasta, brown rice, chocolate cake.  Sorry, not all brown carbs, not chocolate cake, chocolate biscuits or treacle tart.  Or anything with caramel in come to think of it.

Oooops.  Now I’m stuck thinking about the wrong kind of carbs. If only they had a different name.  Well, it’s not really a problem for me, I’ve already eaten this lovely soup.  I was virtuous at the time.  It’s you I’m worried about – I don’t want to ruin any healthy eating plans you’ve got before you’ve even started.

For me, this soup was a new challenge.   I’ve made a lot of noodles soups in the past but usually with lots of chilli and garlic in.   This time I left the chillies in the fridge and decided to experiment with miso as I had a jar of Yutaka Oraganic Miso Paste I wanted to try.  I’m definitely not an expert at Japanese food.   It’s probably one of the cuisines I know least about. I rarely cook Japanese food and I don’t eat out at Japanese restaurants very often.   This means I haven’t had many miso soups and so I didn’t want the miso flavour to be overwhelming.

I don’t often do subtle flavours but that’s what I wanted this time so I just used 1 tablespoon of miso paste but you could use more or less depending on how gentle a mood you are feeling in.   I couldn’t be altogether meek and mild though and couldn’t resist throwing in some ginger and garlic and a little sesame oil on the noodles which also added extra flavour.   As I said at the start, you do feel healthy eating this soup, the miso flavour is subtle but it’s still a flavourful soup.  It might have been my first miso soup but it will not be my last.

Ingredients – Serves 2

1 tbsp Miso paste (I used Yutaka Organic Miso Paste)

1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder

Small piece of root ginger, finely diced or grated

1 clove garlic, crushed

150g piece of salmon

5 or 6 mushrooms, sliced

2 large handfuls spinach

Soba Noodles

2 tsp sesame oil

How to Make Salmon Miso Soup with Soba Noodles

1. Put 600ml water from the kettle into a saucepan.   Add the stock powder, ginger and garlic and bring back to the boil. Lower the salmon gently into the water and simmer until the salmon is just cooked and begins to flake when you touch it with a fork.

2. At the same time cook the soba noodles according to the pack instructions.  When they are ready, drain them, toss them with a little sesame oil and put them in the bottom of the soup bowls.

3. Lift the salmon out of the water.   Add the mushrooms and spinach.  Cover the pan and cook for a couple of minutes.

4. Divide the salmon between each bowl. Ladle some of the soup and vegetables into each bowl

I am linking this to Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and also to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Souper SundaysTasty Tuesdays

Disclosure: I was sent a free sample of the Yutaka Oraganic Miso Paste

The Ultimate Halloween Cake

Red velvet halloween cake with cream cheese icing and chocolate ganache coating

I love reading, or if not reading at least flicking through all the supermarket food magazines.  I’m often tempted by the pictures first and that was exactly what happened with this Halloween cake.  It’s the cake that was pictured on the cover of this month’s Waitrose Kitchen magazine.   Every time I caught sight of the front of the magazine I wanted to make this cake.   Well, I wanted to eat it, and if I was going to have a chance of eating it, I had to make it first.

How could I resist it?   Three layers of chocolaty red velvet cake sandwiched together with sweet cream cheese icing and smothered in a dark chocolate ganache.   It sounded as wonderful as it looked.   Normally I just don’t have time to make these type of cakes. I need to be seriously seriously tempted and that is exactly what I was, plus some friends were coming round for lunch and that is always an excuse for cake.

I can’t help saying this but every time I make a cake with any kind of decoration on at all I have such a good time and immediately want to make another cake just so I can play with decorating it.   This cake gave me the chance to  pipe with chocolate for the first time. I’m glad it was just a spiders web as I know it would have been impossible for me to pipe anything that needed a more controlled design.  The chocolate came out really quickly so I just needed to move the piping bag round and round.   My web does look a little more spindly than the one in the magazine but it was fun to do and I was impressed by how good the cake looked in the end.  Maybe if I’d been a little more ambitious I would also have tried piping a spider climbing up onto the cake but I didn’t want to ruin what I’d done.

Yes, the cake looked good and I was a little proud of myself but it also tasted good.  The cake was moist, not just in the middle but all the way to the edges, the icing in the middle was lovely  but not too thick and the chocolate ganache coating was like eating chocolate truffle.   The only thing that I was slightly disappointed about was that the red velvet colour was very very subtle.   I think you’d only know it was red velvet if someone told you.  Well, at least that is only cosmetic.  Apart from that, this is possibly the best tasting cake I’ve ever ever made.  If you have time before Halloween to have a go then do, and if not, why not make it after Halloween anyway.

Ingredients for the cake

350g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2.5 tsp cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

200g butter

375g sugar

3 eggs

1.5 tsp vanillla extract

284ml buttermilk

1tbsp white wine vinegar

20g red gel food colour

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Icing

120g butter

120g cream cheese

120g icing sugar

Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache Icing

300ml double cream

250g dark chocolate

1.5 tbsp liquid glucose

50g white chocolate

How to Make the Ultimate Halloween Cake

1. Put the oven on to 170c to preheat.  Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin.

2. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt.

3. Cream together the butter and the sugar.   I used an electric food mixer.  Beat for about a minute.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time and keep beating after each one. Then add the vanilla.

5. Add about 1/4 of the dry ingredients.  Beat together then add 1/3 of the buttermilk. Repeat until you have beaten all the dry ingredients and the buttermilk together.

6. Finally stir the food colour and vinegar together and add them to the cake mixture.  Beat in until the mixture has all turned a pinky red colour without any streaks.

7. Pour the cake mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for about an hour.  It is ready when a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

8. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

9. Make the cream cheese icing by beating together the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar.

10. Take the cake out of the tin and slice into three layers horizontally.

11. Spread the icing on top of the bottom and middle layers.  Put the layers back together and put the cake in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes for the icing to set.

12. To make the chocolate ganache icing put the dark chocolate, cream and liquid glucose in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.  Keep giving it a stir until all the chocolate has melted.  At the same time melt the white chocolate in a different bowl.

13. With the cake on a wire rack, pour the dark chocolate icing over the cake and use a palate knife to smooth it over the top and sides of the cake.

14. Put the white chocolate in a small piping bag or a plastic food bag. Snip off the corner and starting in the centre of the cake, pipe a chocolate spiral onto the top of the cake.

15. Using a cocktail stick or a thin knife, drag it through the chocolate starting in the centre of the cake.

16. Put it in the fridge to set.  Before serving, take the cake out of the fridge to come to room temperature.

I am linking this to Chocolate Log Blog’s We Should Cocoa, hosted this month by Honey & Dough.  I am also linking to Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

We should cocoaRecipe of the 'WeekTasty Tuesdays

 

Review of Gousto

Although I usually revert to a takeaway at least once a week, I love to cook most of our meals myself at home, avoiding ready-made sauces and using individual herbs and spices to get the flavours I’m looking for.

Gousto logo

I was recently asked if I would like to try Gousto, a company that delivers weekly meal kits containing everything you need to cook three dinners from scratch at home.   I received the ingredients to make Chicken Pad Thai, Persian Lamb Couscous and Parmesan Crusted Pork.  Everything came in just the right quantities to cook dinner for two people, although you can order the dinner kits for 4 people too.   There were icepacks in with the meat and refrigerator items so they stayed cold and everything, including the herbs looked very fresh.  I was even impressed by the reusable and sustainable wool packaging.

full gousto box contents

The pack included clear step by step instructions with pictures including exactly what to do at each stage of making the meal.  Even as a more experienced cook I found them useful and feel that they would really help a more novice cook feel confident about cooking the recipes.   The fact that everything comes in just the right quantities is also fantastic for someone who may want to have a go at say a pad Thai but not have ingredients like tamarind paste or fish sauce at home.   This way you don’t need to buy a whole bottle or jar which may end up going to waste later if you don’t use it up.

Of course, the most important thing is the taste.   Are the meals any good?   Well, I was impressed.   I especially liked the Pad Thai and the Persian Lamb Couscous.  I followed the recipes exactly and the pad Thai contained more sugar than I normally put in it but I actually liked the sweetness.   The only thing it lacked was a few crushed roasted peanuts.   Of course, I could have added a few from my own supplies if I’d really wanted.

Gousto pad thai

The Persian lamb was very easy to make.  I loved the flavours in the baharat spice mix and the crispy bits on the lamb mince.  It’s definitely something I’ll be making again at home and using this method but varying the types of mince and seasonings.

gousto persian lamb couscous

The final dish was the parmesan crusted pork and this was good too, but it wasn’t something I’d rush to make again.  This was the last dish I made and I made it on the ‘enjoy by’ day.   I found the parsnips had gone a little soft and bendy but they still tasted fine as mash.    The other vegetables and herbs were fine.

gousto parmesan pork

So overall, the pros were:

  • Great tasting meals that were full of flavour as well as balanced and relatively healthy
  • Easy step by step instructions
  • Quality ingredients including organic vegetables
  • Exact quantities are provided so there’s no food waste, no need for weighing or measuring and of course no need to go shopping for everything yourself
  • 10 varied meals to choose from each week, including vegetarian options
  • It encourages home cooking as once you’ve bought the meal kit you are less likely to resort to a ready meal or a takeaway

The cons:

  • If the week turns out to be busier than you expected, you might not have time to cook the three meals before the best before date.
  • It could work out expensive, although there is an introductory offer so you save on your first box.   The website claims that it is cheaper than using a supermarket but I’m not sure how this has been worked out.
  • You still have to be willing to spend time preparing the meals including washing and chopping up the vegetables.

Would I use it again?

Well, I’ve looked at the choices for this coming week and there are three things I would love to eat: Baked Chicken Tikka, Ras el Hanout Chicken and Mexican Beef Tacos.   So am I going to?   Well, as a food blogger I also have lots of other food plans so I know I just wouldn’t have time to eat these as well. I also have a fridge and cupboards full of half-used jars and seasonings which I enjoy experimenting with.  However, were it not for this, I would be seriously tempted.

If you’d like to win a free Gousto box then Gousto are running a selfie competition at the moment.  Just tweet a foodie selfie using the hashtag #GoustoGorge

Gousto box

Spiced Pumpkin Cookies

soft cakey pumpkin biscuits

I picked a pumpkin last week and I think I might spend all of October eating it.   I carve a bit off and it still looks almost as big as it was before.  It wouldn’t be so bad if the rest of this household loved pumpkin but at the moment it seems that me and Master Spice are the only ones who like it, and Master Spice only began eating a week ago so I can’t rely on him to eat much.

Although I love pumpkin and would like to make lots of roasted vegetable dishes I think I might be the only one eating them.   My lovely husband was not quite as lovely as normal the other night when he actually refused to eat my delicious pumpkin creation and went and got a pizza out of the freezer.  Well, more for me, although pumpkins are pretty big so that means a lot lot more.

It seems I’m going to have to disguise the pumpkin and add it to cakes and biscuits instead of savoury dishes.  Rather appropriately, this month’s Random Recipes at Belleau Kitchen has the theme, ‘something sweet’ and instead of using a recipe book we have to pick a random recipe from an internet recipe search.  Even without Random Recipes I would probably have resorted to the internet to find a pumpkin cookie recipe.  With this in mind I decided to search the internet for ‘pumpkin cookies UK recipe’, as I knew lots of US recipes would come up and I’m lazy and didn’t want to have to convert cup measurements.  This was the first recipe in the list and is from All Recipes.

I admit that I did adapt the recipe very slightly.   I used half the amount of sugar as it looked like it would make very very sweet cookies.  I also used mixed spice instead of individual spices.  Even with half the sugar, the cookies were still sweet enough for me and if you put a little icing on the top it makes them even sweeter.

I was hoping the recipe would give me lovely moist maybe slightly chewy cookies. What I got was lovely moist light cakey cookies.  The consistency was definitely more cake than cookie.  Now, that wasn’t a problem as I love cake and even if it comes in the disguise of a cookie, I won’t complain, but I do feel it’s fair to warn you, in case you also have two thirds of a huge pumpkin staring at you across the kitchen.   And just in case you are rather particular about the consistency of your cookies.

As you can see, I attempted to make a spider’s web decoration with the icing on top of some of the cookies.   If you want, you could try and decorate these for Halloween, but I’ll admit that I ate most of them plain.

Ingredients

300g plain flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 tsp mixed spice

150g caster sugar

125g butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

250g pumpkin puree

To decorate (optional)

Icing in a tube

How to Make Spiced Pumpkin Cookies

1. Turn the oven on to 180C.   Line 4 baking trays with baking paper.

2. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice in a bowl.

3. Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream together.   Add the egg, vanilla and pumpkin puree.   Beat together.

4. Add the bowl of dry ingredient to the bowl of wet ingredients and mix together.

5.  Using a tablespoon, put spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking trays, leaving a  gap around each cookie as they will spread in the oven.

6. Bake for 15 -20 minutes.   Mine were ready after 15 minutes.

7. Leave the cookies to cool on a wire rack and if you want, decorate them.

As well as Random Recipes I am also linking these to Treat Petit at The Baking Explorer and on alternate months by Cakeyboi, Tea Time Treats hosted by Lavender and Lovage and on alternate months by The Hedgecombers and also to Lets Cook for Halloween at Simply Food.

I am also entering these into a Halloween baking competition that Cakeyboi is running along with Kleeneze.

random recipes new logoTreat PetitTea Time TreatsLets cook for Halloween

 

Cauliflower Tabouli

tabouli made of raw cauliflower, herbs and sundried tomatoes

Some vegetables are most definitely underused in my kitchen.   One of them is cauliflower.   I admit I don’t really like it.   To me, it’s the lamb of vegetables i.e. it needs to be flavoured with something more palatable before I’ll happily eat it.  Cooked cauliflower can represent all that is bad about stereotypical British food. Wet, soggy, tasteless and bland with a nasty aftertaste.   If that’s what you think too, just give it a chance raw.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

This cauliflower tabouli is made with raw cauliflower and raw cauliflower is a completely different vegetable.  Yes,  it is.   Raw cauliflower is crisp, tasty, perfect in salads or just on it’s own for a healthy vegetable snack.  That’s right, I like raw cauliflower, I just don’t use it enough.

I saw this recipe in Delicious Magazine and it jumped out at me straightaway.   I’d been wanting to make a cauliflower tabouli for quite a while, but as I rarely buy cauliflowers, it’s not something I often have the ingredients for at home.  This time though, I’d picked a small cauliflower at the pick your own and was actually looking for ways of using it without cooking it.

Blitzed up the cauliflower is a good substitute for bulghur wheat.   It’s not the same, but as long as you’re not expecting it to be, that’s fine.   I loved the little grains of white cauliflower amongst the fresh herbs, garlic and the punchiness of the sundried tomatoes.   It’s definitely a reason to buy a cauliflower, even if you’ve avoided it since being an adult.

Of course, you could make this tabouli with bulghur wheat or couscous instead but the cauliflower makes a nice change and is a good way of getting some extra vegetables in your diet.   Or your family’s.

The recipe is from My Petite Kitchen Cookbook by Eleanor Ozich.

Ingredients – Serves 4

1/2 cauliflower

Large handful of mint

Large handful of basil

Large handful of parsley

1 clove of garlic, crushed

70g sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

Black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

How to make Cauliflower Tabouli

1. Put the cauliflower and garlic in a food processor and blitz until the grains are about the size of grains of rice.

2. Add the herbs and blitz again until all the herbs have been chopped.

3. Put the mixture from the food processor into a bowl and add the lemon juice, sundried tomatoes, black pepper and olive oil.   Stir together.

I am linking this to Extra Veg, hosted this month by A Mummy Too and started by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy. I am also linking to No Croutons Required, hosted by Tinned Tomatoes and on alternate months by Lisa’s Kitchen.  I am also linking to Tinned Tomatoes‘ Bookmarked Recipes, hosted this month by Feeding boys and a Firefighter.

Extra VegNo Croutons RequiredBookmarked Recipes

 

Howdah Gourmet Indian Snacks

Review of Howdah Onion Bhaji and Bakarwadi Bites

I’m not the biggest snacker in my house.   I love snacks but I try not to eat too many of them.   I can open a packet of something, eat a third and then seal it up to finish later.   The same cannot be said for my husband.   The concept of just eating half a packet of something is completely foreign to him.

That’s why when I received two sample packs of Howdah Gourmet Indian snacks I was quite tempted to hide them so I could eat them all by myself.  Howdah produce 6 different vegan and vegetarian snacks, all without additives and preservatives.  Some are gluten free too.   I love the fact that each snack says on the packet which region of India it originates from.  Not only that, the snacks are made in India too, which enables them to contain locally sourced ingredients that are not readily available here in the UK.

The first packet we opened was the onion bhaji ones.  They are crispy and spicy with a sweet onion flavour and a good kick of chilli that lingers on your tongue.  Despite the strong spices you can still taste the onion.   I liked them and did not protest when my husband was not quite so keen on the onion flavour.   More for me of course! True to my snacking form, I enjoyed them over a few days.

The other packet that we received was the Bakarwadi Bites.  They are crispy little rolls with a crunchy pastry-like layer rolled around a spicy filling.  They are sweet but savoury, full of aromatic spices with a taste unlike any other similar snacks I’ve ever had.  They are thoroughly addictive.   These are the ones we both found hard to stop eating.  Yes, even me, especially me.  Just one more.   And another.   And another. They are definitely something I would love to have again. In any form – I’ve already been looking up bakarwadi recipes online so watch this space.

Howdah gourmet indian snacks

Disclosure : I received free samples of the snacks to try but the views expressed here are my own.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Pasta with Sage Brown Butter

Pasta stuffed with butternut squash and spinach and served with a drizzle of sage brown butter

Last week I went vegetable picking at the pick your own again.   In summer when I used to go it was full of people, most of them picking strawberries and other berries.  This time it was deserted.  Little Miss Spice, Master Spice and I were the only ones there gathering squash and brassicas.  It was strange, but in a good way.   We came away with cauliflower, cabbage, butternut squash, a pumpkin, a marrow and a kohlrabi – enough to last a couple of weeks.

The only decisions now are how to cook and eat all these lovely local vegetables.  At the time I was also searching through my assigned Secret Recipe Club blog, Flavours by Four.   I was torn between sweet and savoury – red velvet chocolate chip cookies or Greek pizza.   Just to make the decision more difficult for myself,  I decided to search my assigned blog for recipes using the vegetables we’d picked.  I came across these yummy looking stuffed pasta shells and my decision was made, well after considering the sausage and butternut pasta bake too!

I easily found all the ingredients I needed except the pasta shells.  Could I make it without pasta shells?  What about lasagna?  Well,  it would taste the same but could I get the right look?   I ambitiously decided that maybe I could fold the lasagna sheets around the filling to make them look like shells.

I cooked the lasagna sheets and then began to try and fold them around the filling.   I needed more hands.   As soon as I moved onto another shell the one I’d just arranged would begin to fall apart.   I gave up.   I’m sorry, I know it is possible but today was not going to be that day.   I decided to just roll the lasagna sheets around the filling like cannelloni.   Perfect.  I also put a little of the filling on top of the pasta to make it as similar as possible to the original recipe.   It may not look quite the same but trust me, it is and it definitely worked.  The roasted butternut squash, spinach, lemon and sage are a delightful earthy but sweet combination of autumn flavours.  It’s probably not the healthiest of dinners but it is very comforting and perfect as the nights begin to get longer and colder.

Butternut squash cannelloni

Ingredients – Serves 4

1 butternut squash (mine was on the small side), peeled and cut into cubes

Olive oil

2 large handfuls of spinach

280g ricotta

1 egg

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Zest of 1 lemon

3 tbsp grated parmesan

Black pepper

8 sheets of lasagna

About 16 sage leaves

knob of butter

How to Make Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Pasta with Sage Brown Butter

1. Put the butternut squash in a roasting tin, season with salt and pepper and then drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

2. Put the spinach in a saucepan with a little water and let it wilt.  Take it out and leave it in a colander to drain.   When it is cool enough to handle, use your hands to squeeze the excess water out and roughly chop.

3. Cook the sheets of lasagna.  When they are ready, put them in a bowl of cold water so they don’t stick together and so they are not too hot to handle.

4. In a large bowl beat the egg.  Add the ricotta, garlic and lemon zest and beat together with a fork.   Add the spinach, butternut squash and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan. Season with black pepper and stir to combine all the ingredients.

5. Coat an oven-proof dish with a little oil  Mine was approximately 20cm x20cm.

6. Take one sheet of lasagna and spoonful of the filling.  Put the filling at one end and roll up the lasagna sheet around it.  Put the filled pasta in the oven-proof dish and repeat until all the sheets of lasagna have been filled.

7. Spread any extra filling over the top of the pasta and sprinkle on the extra tablespoon of parmesan.

8. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 180C.

9. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the sage leaves.  Cook until the butter begins to turn brown and the sage leaves are going crispy.   Spoon a little of the butter and sage leaves over each portion of the pasta as you serve it.

9. Serve with some more green vegetables.

To see what other SRC participants have made, click on the link below:

 

I am also linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Tasty Tuesdays