When in Rome………or Spain!

One of my favourite things to do on holiday is to go food shopping.

Three out of four of our contingent is vegetarian, so with the best will in the world, some meals have to be self catered.

Vegetarians get a raw deal in the UK, however we always come home from our holidays grateful that at least most places here have a vegetarian option.

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During our recent trip to Spain, we found a particularly lovely Carrefore supermarket.

It was clean and airy with a vast range of everything we could possibly need. It was easy to navigate and even the girls didn’t mind visiting.

There was an abundance of choice of everything that we could possibly want to eat.

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We were particularly taken with the produce section.Just look at those tomatoes and aubergines – wonderful!

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As you would expect, the Tapas section was huge.

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We enjoyed the feasts we created from our finds!

imageOne of my many guilty pleasures is crisps and we all giggled when we saw this packet with my name on ha!

Am I alone in this slight obsession with foreign supermarkets  because don’t every get me started on Publix in America, my favorite ever!

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Have a lovely day!

 

Spinach and Cream Cheese Lasagna – slow cooker style!

 

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We had picnic plans for Saturday so, on Good Friday I thought I would try to make a lasagna in the slow cooker, so it would be ready for when we got home on Saturday evening.

I have seen various recipes on the internet but ricotta isn’t terribly popular in this house, so I thought I would just wing it. Thankfully, it turned out well!

You literally just build the lasagna and let the slow cooker do the work – perfect!

 

Ingredients 

Olive oil to grease the inside of the slow cooker pot

I  bottle of tomato pasta sauce or passata – I made my own*

450g approximately of spinach – washed

400g cream cheese

1 teaspoon freshly grated  nutmeg

500g dried sheets of lasagna sheets – you may not use them all

100g mature cheddar cheese or mozzarella

Method

1. Grease the inside of your slow cooker dish – you will thank me afterwards!

2. Place a thin layer of  the tomato pasta sauce on the bottom of the dish

3. Add a generous layer of spinach and add random spoonfuls of cream cheese to the layer

4. Add about a 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg to sprinkled over the spinach and cover with pasta sheets, don’t worry about overlapping, it doesn’t matter

5.  Repeat until you have used up all the ingredients, finish with a layer of pasta and sprinkle the grated cheddar or mozzarella on top

6. Place in the slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours, serve with garlic bread and salad

 

Enjoy!

 

* To make tomato pasta sauce:

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 onion

1 clove of garlic – crushed

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

250g vegetable stock

1 teaspoon of oregano

1 teaspoon Basil

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Method

1. Soften the onion and garlic in the olive oil for a couple of minutes

2. Add tin of chopped tomatoes, stock, herbs and sugar

3. Simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes until it reduces slightly

4. Taste to check for seasoning

Enjoy!

 

 

Crustless Quiche

 

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A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to try to recreate a pie that myself and Miss Glade had enjoyed on Mother’s Day.

This is my version, a Crustless Quiche. It is actually a bit of a staple in this house but this is the first time that I have added broccoli, it’s another of those versatile dishes that you can make with any seasonal vegetables.

I think it is best served piping hot with new, buttered potatoes and a crisp salad. Oh! a bit like the one in the picture.

Delicious and as always, minimal effort!

 

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 head of broccoli prepared into spears

I red pepper cut into chunks

4 eggs beaten

100mls milk

200g  grated strong mature cheddar

1 teaspoon of chives

Method

1. Pre heat the over to 160 degrees.

2.  Heat the olive oil and sweat the onions until they are quite dry.

3. Add the broccoli and keep it moving so it doesn’t catch the bottom of the pan.

4. Add the red pepper and keep all the vegetables moving for about 5 minutes.

5. Add the beaten eggs, milk and chives to the pan and sprinkle on the cheese.

6. Transfer to an oven proof dish and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the top is browned and the liquid has been absorbed.

7. Serve immediately.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Have a lovely day!

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The Egg!

Apparently it is National Vegetarian week, so to celebrate I thought I would show you one of my favourite vegetarian places .

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The Egg cafe is in Liverpool City Centre, just off Bold Street. It is in the loft space of an old Victorian warehouse. Therefore, the journey up the stairs is not for the faint hearted!

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When you finally reach the skinny purple door, an airy space is revealed. The decor is bohemian in style, which is fitting because the cafe also acts as an art gallery.

In the daytime there are great views of the city and in the evening, it twinkles by candlelight.

Students, artists, families, young old professionals, well just about anyone, can be found sitting at the tables, eating or wiling away the hours. I love this place because it is so relaxed, the staff usually have an air of mañana about them!

There are a selection of hot and soft drinks available but they do not have a licence for alcoholic beverages.  Don’t panic though because you can take your own!!

That was embarrassing, clinking through the few shops we visited beforehand.

imageThe counter is well stocked with seasonal dishes. On Saturday evening, there were a number of freshly prepared specials available and they were all served with a mixture of  salads or rice.

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This is Miss G’s  spicy bean burger, I had the Leek and Mushroom bake and himself enjoyed The Red Dragon Pie, but neither of ours were as photogenic in the candlelight.

Whilst it’s my favourite place to go, I do have one issue in that my choice is sometimes cold in the middle. However, I usually asked for it to be heated again and it is returned to me piping hot with a sincere apology. On Saturday, I  was too hungry and just ate the cold parts, it did give me a bit of a heavy tummy.

However, this does seem to be unique to me because himself and the youngest polished theirs off in super quick time and both were fine. Perhaps I’m sensitive!

We were all too full for desserts but as always there was a huge array of homemade cakes available.

It is a great place and worth the climb up the stairs, even if you just go for coffee and cake, the people watching opportunities are abundant! Give it a try if you are ever in Liverpool and let me know what you think.

Have a lovely day x

 

Lentil and Mozzarella bake!

 

 

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Is it very obvious that this is a “I have not been food shopping yet, so let me see what is in the cupboard” bake?

I used mozzarella this time but will probably use mature cheddar next time, because that is what I usually have in the fridge. So basically use what you have and don’t let the list of ingredients put you off, just substitute away!

Ingredients

1 glug of olive oil

2 small onions or 1 large one

2 sweet potatoes

1 large white potato or 2 small ones

2 large or 3 medium carrots

handful of frozen peas

handful of frozen sweetcorn

150g of red lentils

1 teaspoon of dried Italian herbs

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 can of tinned tomatoes

1 tablespoon of tomato puree

1 litre of vegetable stock

250g grated mozzarella

4 slices of bread made into bread crumbs

Method

1.Saute the onions in the glug of olive oil until translucent

2. Add the potatoes, carrots, sweetcorn, peas, lentils and herbs to the onion mixture and saute for five minutes

3. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and vegetable stock to the pan and bring it all to the boil

4. Pre heat the oven to 180c

5. Simmer the contents of the pan for about 20 minutes

6. Transfer to an oblong casserole dish and add the bread crumbs and cheese

7. Pop in into the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes

8. Enjoy!

Minestrone soup Eastham style!

image If you are expecting a recipe for the ‘proper’ Italian version, you may be disappointed. But bare with….. This might be worth a try! This is my version of a lot of different recipes that have morphed together over time. I’m not sure where I got each bit – it’s been so long.

If you think you recognise it, please let me know and I will link it appropriately but I am pretty confident it’s a mash up.

It is a really simple soup to make and don’t be put off by the list of ingredients, they are mostly store cupboard staples.

I make this in a slow cooker, I can just throw it all in and then pop out, usually for a walk and return to a wonderfully smelling kitchen. image Ingredients

1 glug of olive oil

2 chopped red onions

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

2 or 3 cloves of minced garlic (depends on your taste)

2 or 3 diced carrots (depends on size)

2 sticks of diced celery

1.5 litres of vegetable stock

1 or 2 table spoons of tomatoe purée

1 can of chick peas  (you could use cannelloni beans if you want to make it a bit nearer the Italian version)

1 or 2 bay leaves (depends on taste)

75g of macaroni pasta shapes

Method

1. Add the onions to the heated oil in a pan and sauté for about 5 mins without letting them brown

2. Add the dried thyme to the onions sauté for a couple of minutes

3. Add the carrots, celery and garlic to the onions and sauté for 5 minutes image 4. Add the stock, tomato purée , chick peas and bay leaves to the pan and bring to the boil image 5. Transfer it all to a slow cook and cook on high for about 2/3 hours

6. Add pasta to the slow cooker about 30 minutes before you want to eat

7. Enjoy!

 

Do you have a vegetarian option?

Having been a vegetarian since 1990, I am still shocked that it isn’t a given that there will always be a vegetarian option.

Three out of the four members of our family are vegetarians-there is a lot of it about.

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Therefore, the savoury recipes will be vegetarian. Before you ask, because invariably we are asked, yes we do eat diary because we are not vegans!

If your not a vegetarian, why not give meat free Mondays a go? You never know you might just enjoy it! But if you don’t, I am sure you could pop any meat of your choice into most of the recipes I will post.