Mushroom kebabs – homemade vegetarian shiitake mushroom kebabs

So it turns out I’ve become a bit of a cliché.

For the last few months I’ve been on a drive to save money and eat more healthily. The good news is these two aims have complimented each other nicely, as a lot of my healthier meals have been meatless. I’ve exchanged meat for a lot of beans, chickpeas and lentils, which are a lot cheaper! Apparently, this makes me a flexitarian, which is a very trendy thing to be right now. (Also known as “a vegetarian who cheats” according to The Guardian…)

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One of my favourite recent recipes on the blog was my delicious lamb kebabs. I wanted to make them again, but a “flexitarian” version. I choose shiitake mushrooms as my meat substitute because of their texture and taste. They are topped with an awesome garlic mayo and homemade pickles. Try them out – you definitely won’t miss the meat!

Ingredients (serves 2)
– 200g shiitake mushrooms
– one red onion, peeled and cut into half moons
– 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
– 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
– 1 teasoon dried oregano
– 1 teaspoon dried thyme
– half a teaspoon celery seeds
– 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

To serve:
– flatbreads (I made mine using this BBC Good Food recipe)
– roasted garlic mayonnaise (a few teaspoons of mayo mixed with a few cloves of roasted garlic
– pickled cucumbers (check out Feasting At Home for great tips on how to do this)
– a handful of parsley

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Method
1. Mix the flatbread dough.
2. Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Cook the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until softened and turning translucent.
3. Clean and slice the shiitake mushrooms. Add them to the pan along with the spices and Worchestershire sauce.
4. Cook for at least 5 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and have absorbed all of the amazing flavours.
5. In the meantime, mash the roasted garlic with the mayonnaise and cook the flatbreads.
6. Serve and enjoy!

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Oven-fried shrimp gyoza

Oven-fried shrimp gyoza

I found out something very exciting recently….

You can BAKE gyoza!

Dumplings can be cooked in the OVEN!

This is revolutionary! Up until now whenever I’ve made them, I’ve had to fry or steam them, which is quite messy (and I don’t really like frying things anyway). However, they are so easy to cook in the oven, and it’s much easier to get a crispy texture this way.

The other exciting this with this is the sauce I drizzled on them. It’s called Chin-Su and is a Vietnamese chilli garlic sauce. I found it when I was in Penang and I’m a bit obsessed with it. It’s can be a bit tricky to get hold of, but you can easily use Sriracha as a substitute.

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Ingredients (makes 24 dumplings)
– 24 gyoza skins
– a handful on spring onions, finely sliced
– 100g raw prawns
– 4 peeled garlic cloves
– roughly 4 button mushrooms
– roughly 4 pieces of baby sweetcorn
– 50g Chinese cabbage
– 2 tbsp soy sauce

Glaze: 2 tbsp each neutral oil and soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil

To serve (optional): soy sauce, sliced chilli, Chin-Su or Sriracha sauce, sliced spring onions

baked-prawn-gyoza-20-30-14Method
1. Preheat the oven to 220 C.
2. Very finely chop the prawns, garlic, mushrooms, corn and cabbage. Mix together well with the soy sauce and some freshly ground white pepper.
3. Place a small tablespoon of the mixture in the centre of each gyoza skin. Wet the rim with a little water and fold them together. Try to seal the edges as much as possible.
4. Mix the glaze ingredients together and brush the sealed gyoza with the glaze.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the skins are turning crispy and the filling is fully cooked.
6. Serve with dipping sauce and more sliced spring onions

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Chorizo shakshuka eggs – the perfect brunch!

During the week, I have getting up and getting out down to a science. I want to maximise the time I get to spend in bed, so my morning routine is as quick as possible! However, I can’t function without breakfast. I get shaky and hangry if I don’t eat in the morning, which means I need a breakfast that is quick yet filling. Every morning, just before I leave the house I make a smoothie from frozen bananas, oats and milk (with a little cocoa in for good measure!) and drink it when I get to work. It’s time efficient and keeps me going until lunchtime. I use my amazing Kenwood 3-in-1 blender to make them, which even copes with frozen bananas. Awesome!

On the weekends though, I like something a bit different. A friend introduced me to shakshuka eggs at a brunch date a while ago, and this is my twist on the recipe. It isn’t traditional, but it is a super tasty one-pan dish made with inexpensive ingredients. It makes a delicious brunch and is easy if you have guests as you can just leave it to simmer.

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Ingredients (serves 3)
– one onion, finely chopped
– two carrots, peeled and diced
– 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
– 100g chorizo, diced
– roughly 6 button mushrooms, washed and sliced
– 1 teaspoon each paprika, ras-el-hanout and cumin seeds
– 400g tin of whole peeled tomotoes
– 1 tablespoon tomato puree
– 1 tablespoon brown sugar
– 6 eggs
– salt and black pepper

– bread to serve

Method
1. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and heat the onion and carrot for 2 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, then the chorizo, then the mushrooms. Stir each one in separately and cook over a medium heat until the vegetables are beginning to soften and the oil from the chorizo is coating everything nicely.

3. Add the spices and mix in. Enjoy the smell!
4. Pour in the whole tin of tomatoes and break them up with your wooden spoon (or I usually use a silicone spatula). Stir in the brown sugar and tomato puree.
5. Leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want to the sauce to reduce, but if it gets too thick, add a little water to loosen it.
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6. Taste the sauce and season well.
7. Make a little hole in the sauce and crack an egg in. Repeat with the other eggs, spreading them evenly across the pan.
8. Either keep the pan on the hob or put it under a grill for roughly ten minutes until the egg whites are set. I like the yolks to still be runny – just cook to your preference.
9. Serve with plenty of bread to mop up the delicious sauce. You can garnish with coriander or parsley if you have some available.
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Caramelised beetroot and onion tarte tatin

Caramelised beetroot and onion tarte tatin

Tarte tatin always sounded like such a lovely thing and they always look so very pretty! But I have a real aversion to cooked fruit. I don’t like apple pie, fruit crumbles… Or tarte tatin.

But I’ve found a solution in the form of savoury tarte tatin! Beetroot and red onion caramelised with balsamic vinegar, then fanned out and topped with pastry. There are walnuts for crunch and a little bit of cheese to make the whole thing ooze together.

They’re perfect dinner party food as an elegant appetiser, but they’re also great as a main meal with couscous and a green salad. Enjoy!

Beetroot tarte tatin (8)

Ingredients (makes 4 small tarts)
– roughly 180g shortcrust pastry, rolled out
– 200g cooked beetroot
– 1 small red onion
– 1 tablespoon butter
– 1 tablespoon brown sugar
– 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 80g mozzarella
– 40g roughly chopped walnuts
Optional – 4 tablespoons of soured cream mixed with a handful of chopped parsley

You will also need what we call a Yorkshire pudding tin – a baking tray with four large, shallow indents for making individual tarts.
Beetroot tarte tatin (1)

Method
1. Peel and thinly slice the red onion into half moons. Cut the beetroot into thin wedges. Grease the baking tray well with oil or butter. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Melt the brown sugar in a large frying pan, then add the butter. Add the beetroot wedges and onion slices and cook for about 10 minutes, until they begin to caramelise.
3. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a few more minutes, until the vinegar is reduced and thick.
4. Arrange the beetroot wedges in fan shapes in the baking tray. Remember, you will tip them out and the bottom will become the top, so aim for a nice pattern! Spoon the onion slices and sauce over the top.
5. Divide the walnuts between the four tarts. Cut the mozzarella into four slices and place on top of the beetroot, onion and walnuts.
6. Finally, use a cup, glass or cookie cutter to cut circles of pastry. Aim for them to be slightly larger than the size of the tart cases. Prick the circles with a fork.
7. Place the pastry circles on top of each tart case and tuck in the edges.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven until the pastry is cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
9. Turn them out gently and serve with a tablespoon of the soured cream and parsley mix (optional)

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Easy cassoulet – sausage and bean bake

Easy cassoulet – sausage and bean bake

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Do you have one of those comforting, fail-safe recipes that you can always rely on? Whatever the mood or the weather, you can fall back on this recipe to make everything ok?

This is mine.

A simple cassoulet was one of the first things I learnt to cook. This recipe has gone through lots of adaptations (depending on what I had in the cupboard) but I’m always happy to cook it and even happier to eat it. It isn’t a traditional cassoulet, but my cooking style has never been by-the-book. Use this recipe as a base then play around with whatever sausages, beans and vegetables you like. I sometimes serve it with mashed potato on the side instead of stirring the potatoes in.

Don’t miss out the mustard though. That’s a must!

Sausage and bean cassoulet (1)

Ingredients (serves 4)
– 8 good quality sausages
– 1 onion,peeled and cut into wedges
– 2 garlic cloves, sliced
– 2 celery sticks, sliced
– 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
– 4 mushrooms, sliced
– 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
– Either 400g tin of cannellini beans and 2 tablespoons of tomato puree OR 400g tin baked beans in tomato sauce
– 200ml chicken stock
– 1 heaped tablespoon of wholegrain mustard

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the cubed potatoes in a pan of boiling water and simmer for about ten minutes until just cooked through (test with a fork).
2. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and brown the sausages all over. They don’t need to cook all the way through at this stage. Once browned, transfer to a roasting tin.
3. Add the onion to the frying pan, then stir in the garlic. After they have begun to soften, add the celery, carrots and mushrooms. Cook together for about 5 minutes.
4. Pour in the stock and beans (plus the puree if using) and turn up the heat until the stock bubbles.
5. Pour the stock, beans and vegetables over the sausages in the roasting tin. Drain the potatoes and add them as well. Place in the oven for 15 minutes (until the sausages are fully cooked).
6. Stir in the mustard, season to taste and serve.

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Sausage and bean cassoulet (2)

Star shaped tortilla bites and tangy tomato dip

Star shaped tortilla bits and tango tomato dip

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Want an impressive looking appetiser that is really easy to make?

Look no further!

These star shaped tortilla bites are delicious but are made in just minutes. You can also make them a few hours in advance – just store in a sealed container so they don’t go soft. They are baked so are healthier than most fried chips or crisps, and the accompanying tomato dip is packed with fresh flavours.

You make the star shape using a standard cookie cutter. I have this nest of star shapes, so you choose a variety of different sizes. You can also experiment with different shapes of cookie cutters. They’d be perfect for a children’s party! What about animal shapes or even Christmas tortillas?

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Ingredients
– Flour tortillas
– Zest of one lime mixed with a teaspoon of sea salt
– Star shaped cookie cutter

For the dip (serves 6)
– 1 tomato
– 200g cherry tomatoes
– half a red onion
– 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
– 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
2. Use the cookie cutter to cut out star shapes from the tortillas. If you press down firmly, you can cut through several tortillas at once.
3. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet (you may need to do more than one batch) and bake for 4-6 minutes until crisp but not brown.
4. Sprinkle immediately with the lime zest and sea salt.

To make the dip, finely chop the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and onion. Mix with the vinegar and ketchup. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Simple and delicious slow cooker recipes – take a rest and use your crock pot!

Simple and delicious slow cooker recipes

You can’t beat a slow cooker! Throw everything in the pot, leave it for a few hours, enjoy the delicious smells and then your meal is ready. I love experimenting with mine and I’d like to share a few of my recent favourites.

There are a few tips that work for all recipes. One is to make sure that everything is at least at room temperature before you put it in the pot. If it is straight from the fridge it will take longer to warm up and cook through. I always sear meat before putting it in for flavour and don’t forget to season well! Try to avoid taking the lid off during the cooking time, as it will really reduce the temperature and slow down your cooking time.

It’s worth investing in a decent slow cooker, like this Kitchen Aid one. I’ve had cheaper ones in the past and they just don’t work as well.

White chilli
Chilli con carne is a real favourite of mine, but this version uses chicken and so is much lighter and healthier. You add avocado to make the sauce feel creamy and luxurious. If you want to make your own baked nachos to go with it, there’s a really simple method here.
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Pulled Asian lamb with egg-fried cauliflower rice
I love this recipe! Slow cook the lamb in a marinade of soy sauce and lemon, with plenty of garlic and ginger. It falls apart after a few hours of slow cooking and is so delicious. You can serve it with normal rice or for a healthier (or gluten-free alternative) try egg-fried cauliflower rice.
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Roast beef in onion and red wine gravy
This recipe allows you to make an amazing roast beef dinner with a much cheaper cut of beef. Slow cooking in red wine means you don’t need the traditional roasting joint, but can choose a cut for braising. The other bonus is that the meat cooks in the red wine, making the gravy for you. One less pan to wash up!
Slow cooker roast beef and sweet potatoes (12)

Pulled pork fajitas with tomato-lime salsa
It’s the second “pulled” recipe in this list, but who doesn’t love pulled pork? This is a really easy, tasty recipe for it using ingredients you will have in your store cupboard.
Serve it with soft, warm tortillas and a zingy salsa for some really fantastic fajitas.
Pulled pork fajitas (11)

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