courgetti salad

Courgetti Salad

This simple healthy courgetti salad flavoured with lemon juice and baharat spice mix makes  a perfect bbq side dish or side salad for an easy weeknight meal.

courgetti salad

This month The Recipe Redux challenged us to ‘get your fruits and veggies in shape‘.   After all, this time of year really is the best for enjoying freshly picked fruits and vegetables.  There’s so much in season at the moment and everything tastes so much better than in the middle of winter.

You don’t even need to put in a lot of effort to enjoy all the fresh produce.  This courgetti salad for example, uses spiralized raw courgette (zucchini) and it’s so quick to make that it really is worth getting the spiralizer out of the cupboard for.  But even if you don’t have a spiralizer, a simple vegetable peeler would make a perfectly acceptable substitute.

courgetti salad

This salad is a seasonal mix of courgette and spring onion, tossed with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing but with the addition of Barts baharat spice mix, which is what really gives this salad its lovely spiced flavour.

Baharat is a peppery spice mix from the Middle East that combines paprika, coriander, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cloves and nutmeg.   It’s great to add a little bit of heat to a salad dressing, lovely in a stew and delicious as a rub for foods that are going to be cooked on the barbecue.   Or in my case, inside on the griddle pan.   I’m using baharat a lot at the moment although this is just my first recent blog post to feature it.

This recipe represents quite a success in my own little world.  Mr SearchingforSpice does not like courgettes.  Even if I hide a few cooked ones in a  pasta sauce he will pick them out and refuse to eat them.   More for me!  He’s rather good at picking out vegetable pieces he thinks he doesn’t like.  Well, I fully expected him to not even try this courgetti salad but he not only tried a little, he ate rather a lot.  I just wonder how soon I can get away with making it again.   I may even be able to remake this lemon and courgette spaghetti one day!

courgetti salad

Courgetti Salad

Yield: Serves 4

A simple spiralized courgette salad with a lemon and baharat dressing.

Ingredients

  • 1 large courgette
  • 2 spring onions, sliced lengthwise and then into pieces about 5cm long
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp baharat seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

Instructions

  1. Spiralize the courgette or if you don't have a spiralizer you could slice it into thin strips using a vegetable peeler.
  2. Put the courgetti and spring onion in a bowl
  3. In a small bowl or jar mix together the remaining ingredients for the dresssing. Mix well or shake.
  4. Pour the dressing over the courgetti and toss together.
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I am linking to Fiesta Friday hosted this week by Jhuls at The Not So Creative Cook and Colleen at Faith,Hope, Love & Luck. I am also linking to No Croutons Required hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen and on alternate months by Tinned Tomatoes, linking to Eat Your Greens hosted by A Seasonal Veg Table and on alternate months by The Veg Hog. I am also joining in with Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and Cook Blog Share at Snap Happy Bakes.

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courgetti salad

 

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gooseberry ice cream

Homemade Gooseberry Ice Cream

There’s nothing better than freshly picked berries and ice cream in summer so why not combine the two with this recipe for tangy homemade gooseberry ice cream?

Gooseberry ice cream

I love summer and I love all the fresh fruit and vegetables that are around right now.  One of my favourite activities to do with the children is to go and pick our own fresh fruit and vegetables at Garsons Pick Your Own Farm, which is where I picked these gooseberries.

If you’re not familiar with gooseberries they are tart green berries about the same size as grapes. You can sometimes eat the very ripe ones uncooked and without sweetening them but usually they are too sharp and need to be cooked and sweetened before they can be eaten.

Freshly picked gooseberries

I grew up on a farm and we used to pick them in some of the hedgerows so we always had a lot of gooseberry pies and crumbles at this time of year.  I’ve made a few crumbles myself and last year I made a delicious gooseberry cobbler.   This year however, I fancied trying something a little different.  I fancied gooseberry ice cream.

I was initially thinking along the lines of a gooseberry crumble cake and I still want to make that but I need to go and pick more gooseberries first!  I was then given the idea of making ice cream. Now I love my ice cream maker in summer but it was still sitting in the cupboard since last year. I just had to get it out, especially as I keep coming across so many tempting ice cream and frozen yoghurt recipes online.

I have had my ice cream maker for a few years now and seems to be out of stock but as far as I can see it is exactly the same as this Andrew James Ice Cream Maker , which is currently the number 1 bestseller on Amazon.   It only costs £27.99 at the moment so there really is no reason not to treat yourself!

Gooseberry ice cream freshly churned in ice cream maker

I haven’t used exact quantities in the recipe as the amount of sugar needed for the gooseberries does very much depend on how tart they are and also on how sweet you like your ice cream to be.   I love tart fruits to keep their sharpness but I know that not everyone feels like that!  Add some sugar or another sweetner to the gooseberries as they are cooking and then when they are almost ready taste them and add a little more if necessary.   Once the gooseberries have been mixed into the cream then you might also need to add extra sugar.   I add icing sugar at this stage as it dissolves more easily.

You can see from the pictures that there is still some texture in the gooseberry ice cream from the fruit.   I love to get lumpy fruity pieces in my ice cream but if you want it to be smoother then you could puree the gooseberries after stewing them.   You could even then pass the mixture through a sieve to remove pulpy bits and seeds.

gooseberry ice cream

I went for a plain gooseberry ice cream this time but you could also add some spices to the gooseberries as they are stewing to get a more complex flavour.  How about gooseberry cardamom ice cream?  That’s a recipe for next time!

I found that this gooseberry ice cream kept well in the freezer and didn’t go too hard.  It was possible to scoop it as soon as it came out of the freezer without having to wait for it to soften a little first.

If you’re looking for more homemade ice cream recipes then do take a look at my other ice cream recipes:  vanilla ice cream and affogato, kiwi fruit ice cream, cardamom and pistachio ice cream and raspberry and white chocolate ice cream.

I have to say I am also very happy with my new quick release ice cream scoops and Ravenhead sundae dishes which you can see in the picture below:

Gooseberry ice cream

Gooseberry Ice Cream

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 300g chilled stewed and sweetened gooseberries
  • 300ml double cream
  • Icing sugar or sweetener (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix the gooseberries and cream together in a mixing jug.
  2. Taste and mix in a little icing sugar or an alternative sweetener if the mixture is not quite sweet enough.
  3. Follow your ice-cream maker's instructions. Pour the gooseberry mixture into the ice cream maker and let it stir it for about 15 minutes when it should be fairly stiff. Transfer to a freezer container and place in the freezer. Or eat straightaway.

Notes

I haven't given instructions for stewing the gooseberries as they can vary a lot in sweetness. I added 150g or sugar to 800g of gooseberries but it is a matter of taste. Keep tasting and adding extra sugar until they are right.

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Do you make your own ice cream?  If so then please leave a comment and inspire me with your favourite flavour combinations.

I am linking to Tasty Tuesday at Honest Mum, Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and Cook Blog Share hosted this week by Sneaky Veg.

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Homemade gooseberry ice cream
Vegan carrot cake

Vegan Carrot Cake

This yummy vegan carrot cake is delicious, full of spices, sultanas and grated carrot and so moist you’ll definitely want another slice.

Vegan carrot cake

When our local Clandestine Cake Club challenged us to make a vegan cake recently it wasn’t a hard decision to make a vegan carrot cake.  You see, my huband is not the biggest fan of carrot cakes but I love carrot cake.   This means if I’m making a cake to eat at home, I feel I should take his tastes into account.  At least some of the time.  However, if I’m taking  a cake to cake club, I can make whatever I like and still get to enjoy it!  I love cake club for this.

Bring on fruity spiced cakes!   For my first cake club I made an apple, cinnamon and caramel cake.   I still hanker after a slice whenever I’m reminded of it!   Give me that or carrot cake or possibly courgette cake (although that’s still on my to-make list!) any day over chocolate cake or a plain madeira cake.  Not that I’d say no to any cake in reality though.

Did I mention that this carrot cake is vegan?  I’m not vegan and this is my first vegan cake.  I have to admit that I was a little worried about whether it would turn out ok or whether I’d be thinking there was something missing.  I needn’t have worried.  I’d choose to make this carrot cake recipe again whether I needed to make it a vegan carrot cake or not.

Vegan Carrot Cake

The recipe is slightly adapted from a vegan carrot cake recipe on the Vegan Society website.  After all, that seemed a good place to start looking, although I know many vegan bloggers with amazing cakes on their sites and I could have gone there for inspiration too.

Maybe I cheated a little by making a carrot cake for a vegan challenge as lots of carrot cake recipes use oil anyway instead of butter.   I used rapeseed oil for this cake but I think it would be nice to experiment with coconut oil another time.

The recipe I used didn’t seem to contain any replacement for eggs but as I love chia seeds so much at the moment I added a spoonful.  I’ve been reading recently about how you can grind them to a powder or mix them with golden syrup and I do want to experiment more with these ideas but just adding them as they were worked here.   In the lemon and raspberry muffins and the chocolate chia ones I made recently the chia seeds still had quite a crunch but in this vegan carrot cake they were barely noticeable if you didn’t know  they were in there.  I’m not sure if it was the extra baking time that made them loose more of their crunch or the fact that carrot cake has a lot of texture anyway so they just stood out less.

I was also interested in experimenting with aquafaba, the drained liquid from a tin of chickpeas, which can be used as an egg replacement as well.   However, I thought I should test it out on my family first rather than adding it to a cake I was going to offer to other people.

I’d love to experiment more with vegan cakes so please let me know in the comments about your favourite vegan cakes and what replacements you use for eggs and butter.

Vegan carrot cake (2)

Vegan Carrot Cake

Yield: 12-16 slices

A moist and warmly spiced vegan carrot cake

Ingredients

  • 225g grated carrot
  • 170g sultanas or raisins
  • 280g self-raising flour (you can use a mixture of white and wholemeal)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 170g sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200 ml vegetable oil
  • 200 ml water
  • Dash of vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A little vegan margarine for greasing the cake tin
  • For the Icing
  • 170g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 85g vegan margarine

Instructions

  1. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  2. Put the first 9 ingredients in a large bowl and stir together.
  3. Add in all the other ingredients and then stir them together till there are no dry bits.
  4. Put the mixture in the cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 190C for 60-70 minutes.
  5. Let the cake cool for a short while in the tin then transfer it to a wire rack.
  6. To make the icing, mash all the ingredients together with a fork then spread it onto the cake once it is completely cooled.
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I am linking to Honest Mum’s #TastyTuesdays, hosted this week by Le Coin de Mel and to #CookBlogShare hosted this week by Snap Happy Bakes and to #RecipeoftheWeek hosted by A Mummy Too. I am also linking to Love Cake hosted by JibberjabberUK.  The theme is Garden Party and of course this cake contains carrots.

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Vegan Carrot Cake
Chocolate chia seed muffins

Chocolate Chia Seed Muffins

I really wasn’t intending to make muffins again quite so soon after the last ones.   However, sometimes you don’t get a choice about what recipe to make and sometimes what you make turns out to be so tasty it really needs to be shared.   That’s the case with these chocolate chia seed muffins.

Chocolate chia seed muffins

Master Spice and I got back home after a morning at the local soft play and I made the mistake of asking him what he wanted for lunch.   Now, you should never ask a 2 year old what they want for lunch and I will remember that next time.

Not a sandwich, not jacket potato, not chicken, not scrambled egg but…

Pink cake.   I tried to change his mind but he became even more specific.   Pink birthday cake.

Now, luckily being only just 2 his standards are not quite as high as they may become and these little chocolate chia seed muffins in pink cases managed to satisfy him, me, Little Miss Spice and Mr Searching for Spice.

We had only just finished eating the Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins that I’d made the week before and I loved those muffins so much that I wanted to try and achieve the same texture but with completely different flavours so this recipe is an adaptation of that recipe.

I was keen to use chia seeds again and although chocolate and chia seed muffins might not be a typical muffin combination they really do go well together.  Just like in the other muffins, the chia seeds give the muffins a delicious crunch while still having that lovely soft muffin texture.

chocolate chia seed muffins

I used milk chocolate in these as the chocolate pieces were actually a leftover Easter egg that I’d being hiding in the cupboard since Easter.  My children go a little bit too crazy over chocolate and don’t want to eat anything else around Easter time and so as a good mother (or bad depending on your point of view!) I end up squirreling it away so they can’t find it.   I’m sure I’m not the only one who does that and this is a great way to use it up so they can still enjoy it.

You may be thinking that these muffins look a little yellow.   This is because in a vain attempt to make cakes that were actually pink I put a small amount of red food colouring in the mixture.  I didn’t have any pink and thought maybe  a little red would end up being pink.  I was wrong and I suspect if I’d put more in  they’d have turned orange so maybe we had a lucky escape!   I doubt this affected the flavour in any way and I haven’t included it in the ingredients but just in case you’re wondering why your muffins are a different shade to mine,  that will be it.

Chocolate chia seed muffins

And in case you’re concerned about whether poor Master Spice was given any savoury food for his lunch on the day when we made these, yes he was.  However, I cannot confirm whether he ate it all.  After all, by that point he knew we were going to make cake!

If I had to choose between the two chia seed muffins I’ve made so far, I’d have to choose the Lemon and Raspberry ones but my lovely husband would definitely choose these ones. According to him, they are perfect!

As homemade muffins are a great snack to have on hand to give to the children when they are peckish and keep well for about 3 days, I am linking these chocolate chia seed muffins to my own food blogging event,  #CookOnceEatTwice.  Do come and join in with any recipes that are perfect for more than one meal.

Chocolate chia seed muffins

Chocolate Chia Seed Muffins

Ingredients

  • 190g plain flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 80ml vegetable oil (I used light olive oil)
  • 120ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 70g chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)

Instructions

  1. Put the flour, sugar, salt, chia seeds and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Put the oil, milk, egg and vanilla extract into a mixing jug and whisk together with a fork.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together to just combine. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases and fill each case about 2/3 full.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Test with a skewer to see if they are ready. Mine were ready after 15 minutes.
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As muffins are perfect picnic food I am linking these to the #FoodYearLinkup at Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen for National Picnic Week which is 11-19 June.  As I used leftover Easter egg in them I am linking to Utterly Scrummy Food for Families for the No Waste Food Challenge run by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.  These are also my #RecipeoftheWeek hosted by A Mummy Too and I’m linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum as well as Cook Blog Share hosted by Hijacked by Twins. Finally I am linking to #BakeoftheWeek over on Casa Costello and Maison Cupcake.

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Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins

Lemon and Raspberry Chia Seed Muffins

If you like lemon and poppy seeds you’ll love these lemon and raspberry chia seed muffins.   They are so morish you’ll find it hard to just eat one!  The chia seeds give them a gorgeous crunchy texture and the lemon and raspberry are a classic combination.

Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins

I normally opt for something savoury for my Secret Recipe Club choice but this month I’ve gone for something sweet and I’m so pleased I did.

I have to thank Renee at Renee’s Kitchen Adventures for the recipe as I was assigned her blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club.  Like me, Renee is a stay at home mum and she loves to cook healthy and delicious meals for her family.    I also love to cook healthy recipes and Renee’s blog is full of tasty choices.

Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins

These chia seed muffins were actually the second recipe I made.  As I love spices and I love jerk chicken,  I tried her grilled jerk chicken thighs first. I marinated them well and was really looking forward to eating them.  Unfortunately, as I was cooking them, Master Spice decided he was not going to sleep peacefully.   By the time he went to sleep a couple of hours later we’d given in and eaten them without taking any pictures!   Although there is sadly no evidence to show you, they were incredibly good.

My next choice was these lemon and raspberry chia seed muffins.  Chia seeds are very popular at the moment and often claimed to be a superfood.   They’re a source of fibre, omega 3 fatty acids and minerals such as iron and calcium.   They can be quite expensive but the price is definitely coming down and they are getting easier to find in the supermarket.   I bought a big bag recently and love to scatter them on my breakfast cereal or in yoghurt but until now I hadn’t done any baking with them.  I was just waiting to find the right recipe to try!

Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins

This was certainly the right recipe.  The muffins have a beautifully soft texture but with the crunch of chia seeds.  The whole raspberries give a burst of fruitiness every time you bite into one and the lemon goes perfectly with the raspberries.   The recipe makes 12 smallish muffins and they were a big hit with everyone in our household.

These muffins are very easy to make.   I love the fact that with muffins you don’t need to get a whisk or stand mixer out so of course there’s less washing up.   You just stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones and then spoon the mixture into the muffin cases. This means they are a perfect recipe for making with young children.  Little Miss Spice and Master Spice both helped although they were almost too keen and it was a challenge to stop them from over-mixing the ingredients!

I’m trying to get them to help in the kitchen more and more these days – they are both keen and it is difficult to let them make  a mess but it does seem to be encouraging them to at least try new foods.

If you wanted to adapt these muffins I’m sure other berries such as blackberries or blueberries would also be lovely and maybe even cherries.   Do let me know if you try them and please take a look below at the other Secret Recipe Club entries for this month.

Lemon Raspberry and Chia Seed Muffins

Lemon and Raspberry Chia Seed Muffins

Yield: Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 190g plain flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 80ml vegetable oil (I used light olive oil)
  • 120ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 170g fresh raspberries
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

Instructions

  1. Put the flour, sugar, salt, chia seeds, lemon zest and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Put the oil, milk, egg, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon juice into a mixing jug and whisk together (I just used a fork)
  3. Put the raspberries and the extra tablespoon of flour in a bowl and stir to coat the raspberries in the flour.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together to just combine. Fold in the raspberries.
  5. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases and fill each case about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Test with a skewer to see if they are ready. Mine were ready after 17 minutes.
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I am linking these to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and Cook Blog Share, hosted this week by Snap Happy Bakes.  I am also linking to Bake of the Week hosted by Casa Costello and to Tea Time Treats hosted by Lavender and Lovage this month and on alternate months by The Hedgecombers.

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mini frittatas filled with mushrooms, asparagus and goats cheese

Mini Frittatas

These mini frittatas are filled with lightly spiced mushrooms, asparagus and goats cheese.  The lack of crust and the healthy filling makes these small bites an ideal choice for a picnic, buffet, light meal or just a snack.

Mini frittatas filled with mushrooms, asparagus and goats cheese

I created these mini frittatas for this month’s Recipe Redux.   The aim of The Recipe Redux is to create healthy recipes that are still delicious.  This month the theme was Small Plates for Sunny Days.

Well, before saying any more I have to admit that when I began making this recipe I had a completely different outcome in mind and these mini frittatas are actually the result of a baking disaster.

I planned to make little filo pastry cups but I put them in the oven and picked up my phone to set the timer and got completely distracted by something on it.  Until I smelled something burning.  Maybe it’s time I actually learnt to use the timer that’s on the oven.  Please tell me I’m not the only one to have ever done that.

mini frittatas filled with mushrooms, asparagus and goats cheese

Well, that recipe may get made again once I’ve got some more filo but as I’d left it quite near the deadline  this month I had to find an alternative.  Quickly.

I considered making a healthier version of these Chorizo Cheese Straws as they make perfect picnic food but in the end these mini frittatas totally saved me, which is what frittatas often do.

Have you ever looked in the fridge without knowing what to make for dinner and seen a box of eggs and a few vegetables and ended up with a frittata?   A frittata is a great way of adding extra vegetables to your meal too as you can fill the frittata with vegetables as well as serving a salad alongside.

I served these as part of a light dinner.   We had three each plus lots of salad but they would also make ideal picnic food as they’re easy to eat with your fingers and not too messy.  They would also go down well as part of a buffet menu.

mini frittatas filled with mushrooms, asparagus and goats cheese

Mini Crustless Quiches

Yield: Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 500g mushrooms, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 6-8 spears of asparagus, boiled for about a minute
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 100ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)
  • 80g goats cheese, crumbled
  • A few mint leaves, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Gently cook the mushrooms and garlic in a little oil. Lots of water will come out. Cook them until it evaporates and they have reduced in size. Stir in the spices. Cook for another couple of minutes.
  2. Grease a twelve hole muffin tin. Put a spoonful of mushrooms in the bottom of each hole then divide the goats cheese between the quiches and top each one with a couple of pieces of asparagus. Add a few chopped herbs if using.
  3. Beat the eggs and milk together then pour into each compartment of the tin.
  4. Bake in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
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I am linking these to Treat Petite hosted by The Baking Explorer and on alternate months by Cakeyboi. As asparagus is in season at the moment I am linking to Simple and in Season, hosted by Feeding Boys. I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Cook Blog Share hosted this week by Snap Happy Bakes and Eat Your Greens, hosted by Allotment 2 Kitchen and The Veg Hog, although as this is a vegetarian challenge a vegetarian goats cheese would have to be used.

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Lamb Salad

Harissa-Marinated Lamb Salad

This tasty easy lamb salad is a perfect weeknight meal.  Made with roasted vegetables, spicy couscous and tender harissa-marinated lamb, it can be prepared fully or partly in advance and is equally tasty the next day.

Lamb Salad

First lets talk about marinades. A marinade can be complex with lots of herbs and spices or it can be as simple as opening a jar.   This marinade is almost the later.  Don’t even think of making this salad if you haven’t marinated your lamb.    It may be tempting to take a short cut but I promise you the marinade really ups the flavour in the lamb and this one is so easy it won’t take more than a minute or two the day before.  Or you could make it in the morning before going out to work.

Just a little bit of forward planning is all this salad needs.   Of course, you could roast the vegetables in advance too and even make the couscous the day before, although I have to admit I do prefer the vegetables to be freshly roasted.

You could say I’ve taken a few short cuts with this salad.   I could have made up a marinade myself rather than using harissa and lemon juice, but harissa and lemon juice makes an incredible marinade for lamb so why not?   I could also have used my own blend of spices in the ras el hanout couscous but again, the ras el hanout spice blend saves so much time and works perfectly in this lamb salad.  For midweek meals you have to make life easy for yourself!Lamb Salad

As you can see, I used lots of yoghurt (I love it but you could use less!) and although it isn’t mixed into the salad, it is the equivalent of a dressing.  I used fresh mint in the yoghurt, although coriander would also have been lovely.  You could even stir some chopped fresh mint through the couscous or sprinkle some more over the top.   I actually had some sprigs of mint in the fridge that had dried out so I just crumbled them up between my fingers and sprinkled the dried leaves over the lamb salad.

We thought  this made a really tasty filling salad and you could even cook the lamb on the barbecue in summer.

I am entering this recipe in the #LoveLambChallenge to create a tasty easy lamb recipe perfect for midweek eating.  For more inspiring lamb recipes then follow @TastyEasyLamb on Twitter or Facebook.

You might also be interested in my Tasty Easy Lamb Stir Fry, Mint and Lamb Meatballs or Lamb and Spinach Curry.

Lamb Salad

Lamb Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp harissa
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 4 lamb steaks
  • 1 aubergine, cut in half
  • 2 courgettes, cut in half
  • 2 sweet potatoes, quartered
  • 2-3 tbsp rape seed oil
  • 300g uncooked couscous
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 400ml stock (I used chicken stock)
  • 500ml natural yoghurt
  • 5 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • A few sprigs of dry mint (optional)

Instructions

  1. Rub the harissa and lemon juice into the lamb steaks and put them in the fridge to marinate for 24 hours.
  2. Put the vegetables on a baking tray and drizzle with the oil
  3. Roast in the oven at 180C for 25-30 minutes. Cut into smaller pieces after they have cooked.
  4. Put the couscous in a bowl and stir in the ras el hanout. Pour in the hot stock and cover for 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork.
  5. Mix the fresh mint into the yoghurt.
  6. Brush a griddle pan lightly with oil. Cook the lamb steaks for about 3 minutes on each side. Cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing thinly.
  7. Assemble the salad by putting a couple of spoonfuls of couscous on each plate, followed by some vegetables and lamb. Put a few dollops of yoghurt on each plate. Crumble some of the dry mint leaves in your hands and sprinkle over the plates.
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I am linking this to my own blogging event, #CookOnceEatTwice, to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, to #CookBlogShare hosted by Sneaky Veg and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

Cook Once Eat TwiceTasty TuesdaysCook Blog ShareRecipe of the week

Ricotta and Pea Tart

Homemade Ricotta and Pea Tart

I chose this Homemade Ricotta and Pea Tart to make this month for my Secret Recipe Club assignment.   With a base of crisp puff pastry and topped with homemade ricotta, peas and herbs, it is a recipe that is just as good to make for guests as it is to enjoy with your family.

Ricotta and Pea Tart

This month my assignment was the blog, Well Dined, written by Sarah, a stay at home foodie wife.  As soon as I received my assignment I was excited as Sarah had my blog last month and I’d enjoyed reading her post about making my bulgogi so I was delighted to have the opportunity to make one of her recipes.

I looked at quite a lot of recipes but as so often happens it was the very first one I checked that I ended up making.   I think it was partly the fact that I really wanted to make my own ricotta but mainly that her tart looked and sounded so zesty and green.  It was full of fresh herbs, peas, lemon and ricotta.  I wanted a slice and the only way I was going to get one was to make it myself!

Of course, I was spoilt for choice by so many more recipes as well.  I absolutely love eating pastry and I have never even considered the idea of making a crustless quiche before but I was still tempted by her Quinoa and Kale Crustless Quiche.   Another great healthy weeknight meal would be her Poached Chicken with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables.  So simple but really tasty. I also like the sound of the Lamb Stew with dried plums.  It’s full of veggies as well as a lovely mix of North African spices.  It might take a bit longer to make but I’m sure the final dish would be worth it.

I have to admit now that I have had a cheesemaking kit sitting in the back of one of my cupboards for quite some time.  A whole 2 years I’m ashamed to say.   I was given it for my birthday just before Master Spice was born and with all the preoccupations of looking after a new baby and a toddler it somehow got a bit forgotten about.
Big Cheese Making Kit

Well, recently when I was tidying out my cupboards I found it again and promised myself to use it soon.  So when I saw that this recipe used homemade ricotta, I knew I could make excuses no longer!

I will write more about it in another post as I am planning to make some more cheese as well but I will just say that it was so easy it really should not have taken me two years to use.

As well as the chance to make homemade ricotta, what really caught my attention with this recipe was how green and fresh the topping looked.  By itself ricotta is a bit plain.   It needs something to give it some flavour and as soon as the peas, lemon juice and herbs were added it was absolutely delicious.   I didn’t use all of the ricotta on the tart and the leftovers made a fantastic dip for celery, cucumber and carrot sticks.   And even spread on toast for breakfast!

And what if you’re too lazy, time-pressed or, controversially, feel you have better things to do with your time than making cheese?   Well, you could just buy a tub from the supermarket.  It would just be 45p more expensive (based on Tesco prices) than the 2 pints of milk I made this with!   But seriously, don’t feel you have to make your own ricotta to make this.  Although if you want to, follow the instructions on Sarah’s blog.

Ricotta and Pea Tart

Homemade Ricotta and Pea Tart

Yield: Serves 8

A tasty ricotta and pea tart with lemon and fresh herbs.

Ingredients

  • 320g puff pastry (I used ready rolled)
  • 250g ricotta
  • 240g peas (I used defrosted but uncooked frozen peas)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Score a rectangle into the puff pastry to make a border about 2cm inside from the outside edge.
  2. Bake in the oven at 200C for 10 minutes. Push the middle of the tart down and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
  3. Put the ricotta, half the peas, half the basil, half the mint, the lemon juice and a little black pepper in the food processor. Blitz until fairly smooth.
  4. Spread the ricotta mixture onto the tart.
  5. Mix the remaining peas and herbs together. Scatter on top of the tart.
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This tart is perfect for spring so I am linking it to Cooking with Herbs at Lavender and Lovage and to Eat Your Greens, hosted this month by The Veg Hog and on alternate months by Allotment 2 Kitchen. I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Meat Free Mondays at Tinned Tomatoes, Cook Blog Share, hosted this week by Snap Happy Bakes and Fiesta Friday hosted by Julie @ Hostess At Heart and Ashley @ Too Zesty .

Cooking with herbsMeat Free MondaysTasty TuesdaysEat Your GreensCook Blog Share

Schwartz Pulled Pork Soup

Pulled Pork and Pulled Pork Soup

I may have mentioned before that I love pulled pork.   What could be better than throwing a piece of pork and a few spices in the slow cooker, waiting  a few hours and then pulling it all apart?

A few years ago I probably hadn’t even heard of pulled pork.   These days, pulled pork is one our regular meals.   Or perhaps I should say ingredients in some of our regular meals.   Just like this pulled pork soup.

Schwartz Pulled Pork Soup

This time the pork was cooked in the slow cooker with the Schwartz Slow Cookers Bbq Pork Recipe Mix.   After being pulled apart with a couple of forks, the pork was made into a soup with lot of veggies, lime, crushed chillies and coriander to really bring it alive.

If you’re looking for something easy, healthy and tasty then you can’t go wrong with this pulled pork soup. You can make enough for just one meal or make a big batch and eat it up over the coming days. If you read or take park in my #CookOnceEatTwice challenge then you’ll know I always love meals that can be served up more than once, which is why this is my contribution for April.

You can find the recipe for this soup in a new e-book available to download free from the Schwartz website.   The ebook is a compilation of 20 Food Blogger’s Flavour Favourites and the recipes all look amazing!  For more recipes ideas using herbs and spices you can follow Schwartz on Twitter and Facebook.

As I said above, I love pulled pork as it’s so versatile and with very little effort you can create so many delicious meals with it.  It’s great for cooking at the beginning of the week and then eating up over the next few days.

Pulled Pork Schwartz

As well as pulled pork soup I also put some in  bread rolls to have simple pulled pork burgers one night.

Pulled pork sandwich

The rest was made into quesadillas with jalapenos, red onions, sliced tomatoes and of course grated cheese!

Pulled Pork Quesadillas

I am linking this to my own food blogging challenge, #CookOnceEatTwice.

Cook Once Eat Twice

The pulled pork soup recipe was commissioned by Schwartz

Tuscan lemon chicken

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

This Tuscan lemon chicken recipe is so easy to make and certainly doesn’t lack taste.   It doesn’t have many ingredients and it doesn’t take much effort but it is definitely a dish worth having up your sleeve whenever you need an easy chicken recipe.   It’s perfect as an everyday meal but delicious enough to serve to guests too.

Tuscan lemon chicken

The recipe is all thanks to Kate at A Spoonful of Thyme who was my Secret Recipe Club assignment for March.   Kate has been cooking for many years, inspired by her family and friends and loves cooking for and entertaining them.  Like the chicken recipe I chose, many of her recipes are simple but still really delicious such as Five Spiced Glazed Salmon, Spicy Chipotle Turkey Chilli and many more.  I loved the fact that she has such a range of recipes on her blog and as I love spicy food, there was certainly no shortage of recipes to inspire me.

I am currently training for a half marathon so finding time to go running as well as cook, eat, blog and all the other things I want to do in the evenings is hard work.  I really appreciate simple recipes that don’t need too much attention as they are cooking.   This Tuscan lemon chicken is exactly that.   As long as you make a really tasty lemony garlic marinade and give the chicken enough time to marinate then you can’t really go wrong.

Tuscan lemon chicken

If you are really organised you could made the marinade the day before and then the flavours would have even more time to sink into the meat.   It may be no surprise to you that I was not that organised but I did make it a few hours in advance and I couldn’t complain.

I used chicken thighs with the skin on.  The skin keeps the meat underneath really moist and I’ve recently discovered I do actually like crispy chicken skin.   In the original recipe the chicken was cooked outside on the barbecue but as there was no chance of that here in February  I baked the thighs in the oven instead.   The chicken skin still went delightfully crispy and the meat underneath the skin was really tender and moist so I’d definitely cook the chicken like that again.   Although I’d omitted the lemon zest from the original recipe, the chicken was still deliciously lemony and with the lemon squeezed over the top there was plenty of lemon for me.

Tuscan lemon chicken

The recipe is slightly adapted from A Spoonful of Thyme.

Tuscan Lemon Chicken

Yield: Serves 4

Baked chicken thighs flavoured with lemon, garlic and rosemary.

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken thighs (or a mixture of legs and thighs)
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • For the Marinade
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary (or use about 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary)
  • Pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade. Coat the chicken in the marinade and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  2. Spray a little oil on a baking tray and place the chicken and the lemon quarters on the tray.
  3. Bake in the oven at 200C for 30-40 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through and the skin crisp. If you think your oven will burn the outside of the chicken then cover it in some foil and take it off halfway through the cooking time.
  4. Let the chicken rest for five minutes after taking it out of the oven.

Notes

For a stronger lemon flavour grate some of the lemon zest and add it to the marinade.

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I am also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum, Cook Blog Share hosted this week by Sneaky Veg and to Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

Tasty TuesdaysCook Blog ShareRecipe of the week

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