Chocolate Brownie Tarts

Chocolate Brownie and pastry – why had I not thought of this before?!

One of the things I love about leftovers is that they make me use my imagination. Today I had a very ripe banana and some leftover pastry from making quiche at the weekend. In trawling Pinterest for banana recipes (saved here for a rainy day) I came across some wonderful brownie recipes and an idea was born.

My sister came to taste-test the invention, the verdict was 10/10 when warm and 9/10 when cold. Not bad!

chocolate brownie tarts

The recipe I decided to base the brownie on was a vegan one from the blog recipes from a pantry‘. I halved the recipe because I had only one banana, which also happened to be the right amount for the leftover pastry (more by luck than judgement!). I also didn’t add the additional peanut butter because I wanted the cocoa flavour to stand out. The leftover pastry was just normal ready-roll pastry from the supermarket, so the tarts weren’t vegan. If any of my vegan friends have recommendations for pastry recipes that would be fabulous!

(Update: I have now found out that ‘Jus-Rol’ shortcrust pastry is vegan.)

I have a sneaking suspicion that these would be wonderful with almond butter instead of peanut butter, along with some flaked almond. I will give it a go and let you know.

Ingredients

  • Shortcrust pastry (shop bought or homemade)
  • 1 (very) ripe banana
  • 90 g caster sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp rapeseed or canola oil
  • 1.5 tbsp almond milk
  • 1/2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 45 g plain flour
  • 1.5 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1.5 tbsp chocolate chips, dark (I used 100% cocoa chips which are supposed to be used for drinking chocolate, so very dark!)

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180oC / 160oC Fan.

Roll out the pastry and use a large biscuit cutter (mine was 88mm) to cut the pastry into rounds. Gently push the pastry into a ‘fairy cake’ tin. If you use a muffin tin (which is bigger) you will need larger rounds of pastry.

Mash the banana into a bowl and then mix in the sugar, oil, milk, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Next, stir in the dry ingredients followed by chocolate chips.

Spoon the mixture into the pastry cases. The brownie only rises a little, so you can fill them almost to the top.

If you have excess pastry then you could add jam to the remaining cases – note that you always need less jam than you think because it bubbles up! If you have excess mixture then you could use paper cases in the same tin and make some little cakes.

chocolate brownie tarts

chocolate brownie tarts

Chocolate Brownie tarts

Vegetable and Chickpea Chilli

This is the third recipe in my Basic Kitchen series. It isn’t the first vegetable chilli I have put on the blog, nor the most complex or inspired; however, it was cheap and warming and the rice was delicious. Chilli recipes can be very varied, if you fancy having a nosy at the rather different veggie chilli’s I have written up previously the links are below.

This would have been a quick meal, but I had to cook the chilli, put it to one side and then cook the rice. Chilli is always better the next day, so if I had been feeling organised (which I wasn’t) I would have made it the day before and then just had to cook rice for supper.

Vegetable Chilli

Ingredients

  • one onion
  • a small carrot
  • a couple of sticks of celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes (you can add more to taste later if required)
  • black pepper
  • half a tin of tinned tomatoes
  • a tin of chickpeas
  • a stock cube
  • rice

Method

Finely chop the onion, garlic, carrot and celery sticks. Fry in a little oil and a few grinds of black pepper.

When the onions are starting to look translucent add the tinned tomatoes. Crumble the stock cube into a mug and pour over about a half a mug of boiling water, stir and add this to the pan along with the chilli flakes. Put the lid on and let it simmer over a low heat.

After about 10 minutes taste and season if needed. At this stage I removed the vegetable chilli from the pan and put it in a bowl covered with a plate to keep it warm and washed up the pan ready to cook the rice (for those of you who have not seen my recent posts, I have pared down my kitchen to an extreme extent).

Cooking the rice. A number of people have told me that they find it difficult to cook rice; I am lucky to have spent a lot of time when I was at university with friends from Singapore and Hong Kong who gave me some good pointers.

I tend to bulk-buy rice from the international section of the supermarket – either Thai Jasmine rice or Basmati rice. It is cheaper and, I think, tastier to bulk-buy international brands of rice but it is often less processed and therefore needs more rinsing.

Approximately 1/3 cup is a good portion size. Put the rice in a pan, cover with cold water and then give it a swill around; the water will turn cloudy with the starch, pour the water off and rinse again. I find that cheaper rice needs to be rinsed a few times. After rinsing I cover the rice with sufficient cold water that when I put my index finger on top of the rice the water comes to my first knuckle. Add a pinch of salt and less than a teaspoon of oil (I like to use coconut oil for this but it isn’t currently in my store-cupboard) and cook over a low/medium heat until all the water is absorbed at which point it will be done. It is difficult to say how long it takes because it depends on the volume being cooked.

Serve with the chilli and a little cheese if you fancy it.

I cooked extra rice for this meal so that there was enough for a leftovers lunch and a meal of fried rice.

Costs

  • one onion = £0.09
  • a small carrot = £0.04
  • a couple of sticks of celery = £0.08
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes (you can add more to taste later if required) – £0.01
  • black pepper
  • half a tin of tinned tomatoes – the cost of this was accounted for yesterday.
  • a stock cube = £0.04
  • rice – six portions = £0.40
  • tin of chickpeas = £0.35

Total = £1.01

No extra utensils this time!

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli

As usual, I am starting the year cooking in a very frugal fashion. My aim is to get to the back of my cupboards and to the bottom of my freezer by the end of the month and to have spent very little on food.

Today I was very organised; I cooked my dinner in the slow cooker, using beans that I had soaked overnight, before I left for work. Those of you who have experienced my severe aversion to mornings will be very impressed!

This is very different from the way that I would usually make chilli; because I am in serious fridge-emptying mode I used the remains of a jar of spicy tomato salsa dip and finished off a bottle of peri peri sauce for the base.

The chilli was incredibly cheap to make. However, I did spend money in the co-op on some (very unseasonal) salad, wraps and soured cream (which was in the reduced section). Steve is very good at making Tortillas, I will ask him to share the recipe with you sometime.

There was enough the next day to make enchiladas – yum.

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli

Ingredients

  • Slow cooker bean chilliTwo cups Black-eyed Beans – soaked overnight
  • One cup of Kidney Beans – soaked overnight
  • One cup of Puy Lentils
  • 1/2 pot Tomato Salsa
  • approx 3rd bottle Peri Peri Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chilli & Lime Flakes (you can use chilli flakes without lime – I happened to already have this and am in using-up mode)
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Vegetable Stock powder
  • an Onion, finely chopped
  • a few cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • Water, enough to cover the beans

Method

Soak the beans the night before. Drain before using.

Put all of the ingredients into the slow cooker on it’s lowest setting. Leave to cook for at least eight hours.

Serve with wraps or rice.

For the enchiladas – put a large spoonful of the Bean Chilli into the centre of a wrap, fold two ends inwards and then roll up. Place in an oven proof dish. When you have got as many wraps as you want into the dish put sour cream on top (I didn’t measure it out, I just used the remains of the pot from the previous day) and cover with grated cheese. Bake in the oven at 180oC for approximately half an hour.

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli

enchiladas

Mushroom Soup 

mushroom soup

Autumn is drawing in, and as far as I am concerned that equals soup weather (and pie weather of course!). This one I find particularly warming, I think partly due to the mace which I very much associate with autumn and winter cooking. Mace is a truly wonderful spice; if you do not have any in your store-cupboard I highly recommend that you get some. Mace comes from the same tree as nutmeg but has a rather more savoury taste, it is fantastic in all sorts of wintry stews and I recently put it in a rather delicious beef pie.

This mushroom soup recipe is vegan;  I put soy milk in it rather than cows milk because I had some in the fridge which needed using. I have to say that I don’t like soy milk in tea or on cereal but it is really good to cook with. I am also rather fond of almond milk – it’s great to cook with and rather good in hot chocolate.

Ingredients

  • Mushrooms! I used quite a big bowl full (see picture below) which were left over from Punk Night – I don’t like to waste things! Mushrooms shrink more than you think they will, so don’t worry if they fill the whole saucepan because they will reduce.
  • A small red onion
  • Half a teaspoon of Mace
  • A teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • A couple of grinds of black pepper
  • A tablespoon of cornflour

Method

Heat some oil in a frying pan and then add the onion, mustard seeds, mace and pepper.

When the onion is nicely softened, add the mushrooms. Give it all a stir, turn the heat down and put a lid on the pan allowing the mushrooms to ‘sweat’.

Keep an eye on it;  you probably won’t need to add any liquid because a lot will come out of the mushrooms,  but if it looks like it is drying out then add a splash of hot water from the kettle.

When the mushrooms are cooked, put them in the blender along with the cornflour. Give it a good whizz, adding the soy milk (or other milk) a bit at a time.

Put the mixture back in the pan and heat slowly, allowing the cornflour to thicken.

Taste, and add further seasoning if required. More milk can be added, depending on how thin or otherwise you like your soup.

Done!

mushroom soup

 

Pickled Beetroot 

Pickled beetrootI love late summer and autumn, not least because it is pickle and chutney time!

A few weeks ago I had lots of surplus beetroot and so I went hunting around for a pickled beetroot recipe. I decided to wait until I had tasted it to share it with you, and I can now confirm that it is indeed yummy. It has been only a couple of weeks in the jar, consequently it is still rather vinegary – which is fine if you like it like that but it will mature more with patience

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/pickled-beetroot

I (mostly) used the above recipe; one of the things I like about it is that no preparation of raw beetroot is required and so it isn’t too messy. I still managed to get rather red hands though!

For twice the amount of beetroot I used the same proportion of vinegar to sugar, plus approximately 3 tbsp pink pepper corns, a few cloves  (all that was left in the jar), 2 tbsp coriander seeds,  1 tbsp pickling spice and 1 tbsp juniper berries.

I ended up with a couple of extra jars-worth of pickling vinegar, which I used to pickle some little cucumbers from my garden. I haven’t tried the gerkins yet but I’m looking forward to it;  I am going to try to be more patient because I only have one jar of them.

Bring on Autumn!

pickled beetroot

Tofu Veg Noodles

As you know, I have been cooking with the lovely Emma recently. She has been doing incredibly well and getting a lot more confident in the kitchen; I am also Really proud of her for starting a blog, which is about autism, cooking, her pets and ‘stuff’! Nice one Emma!

emmasnewme

I made Tofu Vegetable Noodles today because I can not eat meats and hard things from having a tooth out and definitely not when the hole is infected. Thank you Katherine Allcock.

My next lesson on my blog will be learning how to make my picture’s small or big.

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Kitty’s Vegetable Curry

This was rather good. I made it up on the spot but it was based on numerous other curries that I have made in the past.
As usual, there are things that you can add/ substitute if the contents of your fridge is a bit different from mine; I wouldn’t play around with the core spices too much though.
If you want this curry to be vegan then use coconut milk instead of the coconut yoghurt; the only reason that I had coconut yoghurt is that someone brought me a pot to go with a yummy pudding (thanks again Penny – I’m making it go a long way!). wp-1453118274768.jpeg

Ingredients:

These amounts would serve 2 to 3 people; I ate two portions last night (couldn’t resist seconds!) and then had the rest for brunch this morning.

  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon Vegetable stock/ 1 vegetable stock-cube
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 6 small new potatoes, halved
  • 1 large mushroom, chopped
  • 1/2 tin of chickpeas
  • 1/2 tin tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut yoghurt
  • Rice (1/2 cup per person)
  • Cardamom pods (approx 1 per serving of rice)
  • a pinch of Saffron wp-1453116265020.jpeg

Method:
Fry the onion, carrot, potatoes, garlic and spices in a high smoke-point oil (groundnut or rapeseed/canola); you need to be reasonably generous with the oil and keep a good eye on it.

After a few minutes add the tinned tomatoes, the chickpeas and about 1/3 pint veg stock. When this is bubbling nicely turn it down to a low simmer and leave until the potatoes and carrots are cooked (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Next add the chopped mushroom and coconut yoghurt; at the same time put the rice on, I use 1/2 cup per person and add a little veg stock, cardamom pods and saffron if I have it. A good rule of thumb for cooking rice is for the ‘height’ of the rice in the pan and the ‘height’ of the water above the rice to be approximately the same; then, when the water is gone the rice should be cooked (I’m sure that some of  my Asian friends would contradict me there, but that’s how I do it).

When the the rice is cooked take it off the heat and taste the curry, seasoning with a bit more salt and chilli if required.

Serve.