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

Ricotta Gnocchi – with lemon, parsley and chilli

One of the purchases which made up my £10 budget for this week was a pot of ricotta from the reduced section of the supermarket; 250g of ricotta cost me 86p. I hadn’t decided what to do with it when I bought it, but a bit of googling and I had the answer – it was time for me to learn how to make gnocchi! I used the basic recipe from this website – for the simple reason that it used the amount of ricotta that I had and I didn’t want to do any maths! I added fresh parsley from the garden to the mixture and used cheddar cheese because I had no parmesan, apart from that I followed the recipe pretty faithfully.

This isn’t the most camera-friendly dish I have ever made, but it was truly delicious.

Ricotta Gnocchi

Ingredients

  • 8 oz / 250g Ricotta Cheese
  • 3/4 cup / 75 g freshly grated parmesan cheese (I substituted in cheddar cheese)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup / 110 – 150g plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • A splash of lemon juice
  • Black pepper

Method

Combine all of the ingredients – except for the flour – in a bowl and mix together. Add the minimum amount of flour to the mixture and combine until it makes a sticky soft dough. Add the remaining flour a tablespoon at a time, until you have a consistency that you can work with.

Turn it out onto a work surface which is lightly dusted with flour, sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on top then pat it down to a disc about an 2.5cm thick. Cut it into 8 pieces. Next, roll a piece into a log about 1.5 cm in diameter and then cut this into 1.5cm pieces. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

Ideally, the gnocchi should go into the fridge for about half an hour at this stage. It can keep in the fridge a day or more if you want to be organised and make it in advance.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Tumble the gnocchi in and cook for a couple of minutes, or until the gnocchi is floating on the surface for around 30 seconds.

Once the gnocchi is drained put some butter, pepper, chilli flakes and lemon juice into the pan and then return the gnocchi to the pan for a couple of minutes. Alternatively the gnocchi can be served with a pasta sauce, such as this favourite of mine (which is the first recipe I ever shared with you!).

Cost

  • 250g Ricotta – £0.86
  • 75g Cheddar Cheese – £0.40
  • 150g Plain Flour – £0.06
  • 2 Eggs – £0.31
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes – £0.01

Total Cost = £1.64

Ricotta Gnocchi

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!

Spicy Tomato Pasta

This was a very quick, cheap and delicious midweek meal – the chilli was a bit wicked though! I’m not sure that the picture does it justice, I find pasta particularly difficult to photograph (any tips welcome!).

This served two people, with extra for a lunch.

spicy tomato pasta

Ingredients

  • a red onion
  • a large clove of garlic
  • a large red chilli
  • a small handful of olives
  • a teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • a teaspoon of dried basil
  • a generous grind of black pepper
  • a splash of white wine (not compulsory, I just happened to have some open)
  • half a tin of tomatoes (the other half was used in curry yesterday)
  • three tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • a few handfuls of wholewheat pasta
  • grated parmesan

Method

Finely chop the onion, garlic and chilli and fry in a little olive oil along with the mustard seeds, basil and pepper. Chop the olives and add these to the pan along with a splash of wine.

When the onion has softened add the tomato, rinse out the tin with a little hot water from the kettle and add this too. Put the pasta on to cook. Allow the sauce to simmer slowly while the pasta is cooking, adding more water if it looks like it is drying out.

When the pasta is cooked drain it and stir it into the tomato sauce along with the creme fraiche. Serve with grated parmesan on top.

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

Norfolk Marrow Tart

You may have gathered from the previous couple of posts that I have quite a lot of courgette and marrow to get through! I rather like having a glut of a fruit or vegetable because it tends to lead to the invention or discovery of new and exciting recipes.

I found this recipe in one of my mother’s 1970’s cookery books. I was a little sceptical but thought I would give it a go – it’s delicious, my new favourite thing! The cooked marrow and egg makes a kind of egg custard, and the nutmeg gave it a wonderfully autumnal feel which reminded me a little of American pumpkin pie (although friends who tried it thought it was apple!). I have made it a couple of times now and intend to make it a few more times as I try to get to the bottom of the pile of courgettes and marrows.

Norfolk Marrow Tart

2017-09-18 11.15.26

I find that older recipes tend to assume that you know what you are doing, so I add the following clarifications:

  • You can buy shortcrust pastry but it is pretty easy to make. I tend to use a recipe from another of my mum’s old books, where the proportions are 8oz flour, 4oz fat (half lard half margarine is best) and 2 tablespoons of water. I am very lazy and bung it in a food processor; this time I was even more lazy because Steve made too much pastry the previous day (he is renowned for his pies).
  • It works best if the marrow is mashed while it is in a colander or sieve, so as to get as much liquid out of it as possible. The first time I made it it didn’t look like it would set; I took some beaten egg, added some more sugar and nutmeg and put this as a layer on top of the tart and cooked it for another five to ten minutes which rescued it nicely.
  • The recipe doesn’t say what to do with the sugar; I sprinkled demerara sugar on top of the pie which made it nice and caramelised.
  • I used quite a small, deep dish because I like thick flan filling; this is a matter of taste.
Norfolk Marrow Tart

Marrow stuffed with vegetable chilli

Ahh marrows – if you have one you have a hundred! I have inherited my mother’s glut of courgettes and marrows because she is away on holiday (not that she would have had a hope of getting through them anyway) so I have been putting them in everything. Some I have ‘hidden’ – grated into curry sauce, thinly layered in lasagne, used to make an egg custard (no, really!). Others I have fried in butter and garlic as a delicious side dish, sometimes with added leeks or mushrooms. This one I stuffed.

Am I bored of courgettes and marrows yet? Certainly not!

stuffed marrow

There are many variations on stuffed marrow; I remember my mum stuffing them with minced beef when I was younger which was rather nice. This particular version was vegetarian, and included some good using up of leftovers as well eating into the glut of marrows.

I had cooked far too much rice to go with a curry I had made the previous day (the curry of course had grated courgette in it…), and also had a part pack of cooked lentils and kidney beans in the fridge from a previous meal. I added this to fried onion, garlic,  fresh chillies and a couple of tomatoes to make the filling.

While the filling was cooking I cut a marrow in half longways (one marrow is more than enough for two people), scooped out the middle, and then put them skin-side-up on a lightly oiled baking tray. I then put them in the oven (preheated to about 180oC) for 10 to 15 minutes. When I had tasted and seasoned the filling I took the marrow out of the oven, turned them over, filled them and then covered with grated cheese. Another 20 minutes or so in the oven and they were done.

Delicious, cheap, and incredibly filling!