Allotment Week : Blending Raspberry Smoothie

It has been a little while, well OK far too long but sometimes a little "oumf" goes away and to get it back you need a little bit of help. Help this time arrived in the shape and form of a Kenwood Blend-Xtract something I always wanted, a gadget that everyone else seemed to have. It arrived just on time for Allotment Week starting on the 20th August.

Raspberry and Banana Smoothie

Living in Greenwich and though I put my name down 20 years ago, I'm still waiting for an allotment but I have the next best thing. An inspiration for an allotment. The Queen's Orchard in Greenwich Park where volunteers have help creating an amazing vegetable garden for all to enjoy. Let's push the gate:

Queen Orchard, Greenwich Park

Fruit trees are all heritage variety. Some date back to Elizabeth 1st and believe me that variety is very very bitter.

At present we are blessed with plums and tomatoes

plum tree

Pumpkins are a little shy right now but, they will have a proud place in the forthcoming Harvest Festival.

pumpkin, growing, allotment

Before leaving you but this time, not for long, let me show you one of the fruits I planted myself. Peer in the foliage and see them little things, they are cucamelons. They are very cute, the size of a grape, the appearance of a watermelon, just a tiny one and the taste of cucumber. I have high hopes for them in future smoothies.

Cucamelons, fruit growing

As for the berries, we don't have a great deal so I resorted to bought raspberries for my first smoothie, a few hundred grams of raspberries will meet 30% of your fibre needs per day

Raspberry and Banana Smoothie


Raspberry and Banana  
Ingredients

250g raspberries
1/2 banana
200ml Coconut milk

I used my Kenwood Blend Xtract to mix everything up et voila

Raspberry and Banana Smoothie

Disclaimer: I was sent a Kenwood Blend Xtract for the purpose of this post. Kenwood is supporting Allotment week -all words and opinions are my own


Beetroot Hummus : One of Your Five a Day

This hummus subtle earthy flavour is the main reason for giving it a go but, it's not the only one.

Beetroot Hummus, Pink Food

Beetroot Hummus is also an easy way to incorporate a vegetable in your five a day. It may be lurid pink but it's also smooth and totally yummy. Perfect with pita or veggies.

For this recipe, I boiled the beetroot though normally I bake beets. Baking beetroots brings the flavours out however it also takes slightly longer. A friend of mine microwaves hers and she swears by that method. Either way, you'll need a cook beetroot.

Beetroot Hummus

Ingredients

1 small cooked beetroot
250 g of cooked chickpeas (tin will do)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 or 3 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbsp tahini
virgin olive oil
Salt, pepper and if you feel advanturous a pinch of ground cumin

Method

Nothing could be simpler
In a food processor, whisk the beetroot with the garlic cloves and the lemon
Add the chickpeas, tahini and pulse
Add the oil a little at the time until you have obtained the consistency you need
Season and serve

Another unconventional Hummus Recipe from Pebble Soup

More inspirated healthy recipes with
Hijacked By Twins

Coffee Mousse– Mousse au café

Coffee Mousse



When I first arrived in London, all these years ago, ask for a cup of coffee instead of tea and you may as well have had two heads. People would whisper, “she is French, you know.” Sadly, the tea/coffee swap was not always possible. Later on, when coffee became a more familiar brew, I made do with mugs of coffee. I have to say, at times it was difficult to discern what I had been handed over, was it a mug of tea or coffee?


Enter coffee capsules, a charismatic actor, a series of brilliantly managed ad campaigns and Expresso got the wind in its sails, it becomes “The” coffee to be seen sipping. Suddenly, new machines allow cappuccino, macchiato without too much effort. The UK gets it own “Coffee Week”. Every April coffee lovers flock to their favourite haunts to enjoy what is by now a staple of modern British culture.

Coffee Mousse

The fact is that coffee is so popular that it is replacing tea in many UK households. Millenials are by far the least passionate about tea and the coffee-shop culture seems here to stay. According to a commercial survey, people aged 50-64 are the biggest coffee lovers, spending £52 on coffee each year. I can tell you that at Pebble Soup HQ, we spend 3 times that much. The growth of coffee culture in the UK goes further than just the drink as we like to treat ourselves to a slice of cake too. Tiramisu anyone.



Tiramasu Recipe


It’s great to see an industry grow so fast and not showing signs of abating but there is another side to the coin: Coffee jargon can make you feel like a bit of a jerk. Can you, hand on heart, differentiate between a Cubano, a Cortado and a Babyccino. How do you decide which coffee is best for your machine(s)? A friend of mine buys samples at the time or a different type of capsule every now and then, he tries them, notes them in a little book, marks them out of 10 before moving to the next one. That seems like a lot of work to me.

But don’t get me wrong I am not complaining, nobody looks at me like if I was from another planet anymore when I ask for a cup of coffee so, I thought this could be a good time to step it up and introduce Coffee Cuisine starting with Coffee Mousse if you want to play coffee-snob at their own games “Mousse au café”.

Coffee Mousse

Coffee Mousse – Mousse au café

Ingredients

  • 60 g caster sugar with a couple of gelatine leaves or a mix of 50g sugar 10g pectin sugar if you prefer
  • 1 small cup of coffee brewed with Gourmesso coffee capsule any of the 28 varieties.
  • Coffee Mousse
    3 eggs
  • 150 g cream (double or whipping)

Method

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mix looks whitish. Prepare the gelatine leaves if using

Add the cream and transfer to a saucepan. Cook on low heat until the mix thickens, don’t let it boil
In the meantime beat the egg whites to a soft peak

When the cream is thick, cool it for a little while, add the gelatine leaves and add the egg whites, a spoon at the time.
Pour in your chosen serving glass or return a large bowl. Keep in the fridge for 4 hours before serving


Disclaimer : This post is sponsored by Gourmesso -the recipe is my own and as usual, so are the words

City Break : Why Go Ghent?


Ghent Pictures,

The sun wasn't at the rendez-vous. On our arrival in Gent, the sky was grey and menacing but, we were ready to explore a city new to us, in search of the answer to "City Break : Why choose Gent?"
Ghent

Gent is crisscrossed by waterways, therefore one of the best ways to visit the city is to take a boat tour (7 euros for adults or use City card see fact box) the boat doesn't go very far but the guided visit gives a good idea of Gent's past.

We learnt that the older name of Ghent/Gent, Ganda, is derived from the Celtic word for "confluence". Our modern hippy-looking guide was most proud of the rich history of his city. Ghent has a reputation for going its own way – and raising the proverbial finger to any Duke, Emperor or King inclined to meddle in its affairs.


Castle of the Counts - Puzzling Statue at the Exit -

The citizens have a lively history of revolts and rebellions against the invaders through the centuries with a little help from the divine, that includes archangels fighting past and present demons.

Archangel fighting pollution
Archangel fighting pollution
We had just been in Gent for a few hours and already visitors and locals were answering the question "why Ghent?". The French family in the tour-boat was marveling at the fact that the town center was lived in. "Not like Bruges where there are only tourists and touristy spots" Lamented the woman behind me

Gent is a city with innovative architectural style built on history

Volta Ghent Amuse-bouche

Our hotel was a perfect example with its facade dated back from when brewers and other merchants' buildings lined the main waterways but, push the door and the interior was resolutely modern, absolutely nothing remained from the past, 21st century through and through. 

The same went for Volta, fine dining experience set in the shell of an old power station where a diner at the next table told us that "living in Ghent was like living in a big village".


That would be a big village for art lovers. There is so much art to take in, that a couple of days might not be enough and again the spread goes across the centuries.

Street-graffiti artists from various countries whose work can be seen all around town. As street art changes on a daily basis, you'll need to keep abreast of the locations using SORRYNOTSORRY website or download the CIRCA Culture Department app. Circa is responsible for recording graffiti and for the removal of unwanted tags and stickers.


The MSK (Museum of Fine Arts) is a good way to spend an afternoon when the sky is grey. It has an interesting collection of Flemish artists which is striking in itself as the French confiscated many of the city's art. Some are still in le Louvre to this day.

Another of Gent painting which has had a curious history of hide and display is the Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck Brother's dated 1432 now (partly) displayed in St Bravo's Cathedral. The focus of the Triptych is a mystic bleeding lamb which curiously appears to have 4 ears, a result of its hard life ( the painting's life not the mystic lamb's).

Belgium Beer

I have to confess that I got very taken by the story and followed it from its current place of residence in  the Cathedral to the MSK, where restorers can been viewed working on some of the panels in a sound and bullet proof room, via Caermsklooser a medieval friary which holds an exhibition about the story and the restoration

No trip to a Belgium town is complete without a Beer O'clock.

Though I love tucking in national dishes and, what better than a bowl of mussels 'n chips, it's equally nice to experience the food of the main communities so we head to pizza street for a Turkish pizza. However, to be fair there were many Turkish dishes to choose from too.

Turkish pizza

One more reason to visit Gent: it's the Vegetarian Capital of Europe. Gent the birthplace of the "Weekly Veggie Day on Thursday and has the highest number of vegetarian restaurants per capita and it's only 3 hours away from London by Eurostar

Fact Box

CityCard Gent













Getting There
                                                                                   


CityCard Gent is the special all-in access card to the main historical buildings, museums and top attractions in Ghent. You can also use the CityCard Gent on the bus or tram and what’s more, it also includes a boat trip. All you need to do to use this all-in package is pay 30 or 35 euros! This will allow you to explore the city for 48 or 72 hours. You can buy the CityCard Gent in: The Ghent Tourist Office (Sint-Veerleplein 5), all participating museums and attractions, all sales points of public transport company De Lijn, FNAC Ghent (Veldstraat 88) and Uitbureau Gent (Veldstraat 82B)



Eurostar offers fares to Ghent from £34.50 one-way. Standard* Premier fares from London St Pancras International to Bruges start from £92 one-way*.  * Price based on a return journey

Situated just 40 minutes from Brussels, it’s easy to reach the heart of Ghent with one easy connection, passengers will reach Ghent in approximately three hours London St Pancras International.

For more information or to book, visit eurostar.com or call 03432 186 186.

My warm thanks to Visit Gent, Visit Flanders and Eurostar for all their efforts in organising and supporting our visit.

July & August Inheritance Recipes with Linky

I am keeping the challenge in August so please continue to link your recipes below with the linky




ABOUT INHERITANCE RECIPES

Inheritance Recipes is a challenge that Margot of Coffee and Vanilla and I have started to celebrate dishes food bloggers cherish. We would love to hear about your friends and family recipes.

Recipes which have been passed down by a family member, a friend, through an ancestral culture and dishes which you would like to bestow to future generations.

Margot has rounded up June challenge, head to Coffee 'n Vanilla for inspiration

We will share your recipes via our social media channels and include them in the round-up (with pictures) at the end of the month. We will also add your recipes to the Inheritance Recipes Pinterest board (that has 2.3 K followers) and include your blog’s handle in our Inheritance Recipes list on Twitter. Don’t forget to subscribe to them both!

HOW TO ENTER

Please, link back to challenge page on both: Pebble Soup and Coffee and Vanilla blog.

If possible, display one of the IR badges on your recipe post. (Click through to open one of the badges, right-click to save it to your computer and then upload badge to your blog.)
Feel free to link up to past posts but please, update them with links to the challenge pages to qualify.

Recipe suggestions:
  1. traditional recipes or preparation methods,
  2. national recipes from all over the globe,
  3. dishes that you often prepare with your children (starting a new tradition),
  4. recipes inspired by childhood memories,
  5. dishes inherited from a family member or a friend.
Closing date is the 31th August.

Please note that entries that fail to follow “how to enter” instructions won’t be approved.

If you use Twitter to promote your recipe, please use #InheritanceRecipes, tweet it @coffeenvanilla or @solangeweb and we will re-tweet it.

And last but not least, have a look at the terms and conditions if you haven't yet done so.
We can't wait to see your recipes and read their stories.



Favourite Things Cake
Favourite Things Cake by Coffee and Vanilla 
















Healthy Mini Pizzas
Healthy Mini Pizzas by a Literary Cocktail












Gluten Free Scones
Best Ever Scones by Gluten Free Alchemist

Margot's Chlodnick
















Lentils and Bacon Salad with a Sauce Ravigote & 6 Specialities from Lyon to Try Out..if You Dare

Lyon and its culinary specialties always make me feel a little nostalgic. Don't get me wrong, I love London and since it has been my home for 3 decades, I feel more like a Londoner than I do a Lyonnaise.

I can't say immigration is easy, a little bit of me stayed behind. The little bit which likes to feel safe and is not referred to my nationality, the colour of my skin or my accent. But then, would I have stayed and I would have resented the insular mentality of a town which is known for giving the cold shoulder to anyone who is new to it.

Lyon, facade, town center

Lyon's architecture is well known for its imposing buildings with their 18th-century facades, tall windows behind which silk weaving looms worked night and day. The families lived in a "sous-pente" a kind of attic in between storeys. Last time, we went we played the tourists, stayed in a hotel overnight and ate "en terrace" in a "bouchon" cobbled street.
lyon center, cobbled street
So what can you expect from "la cuisine Lyonnaise"?

La Cervelle de canut: As its name does not indicate, it is not about offal but simply fresh beaten white cheese, embellished with shallots, chives and parsley finely chopped, garlic (optional) not forgetting the fresh cream.

The workers of silk, known as the canuts, enjoyed it during for breakfast, after their long night of work.

Quenelle: Without hesitation, we can say that the quenelle is one of the dishes that have made the gastronomic renown of the city of Lyon. It is a dough made from flour, eggs, and fish in the shape of a roll. The dumpling is poached in the water before cooking and served gratinated with its delicious sauce Nantua. Let yourself be tempted you will not regret it.

Andouillette: Andouillette is one of the dishes based on offal and tripe typically Lyonnais. Made with veal or pork, it is served hot, with white wine, breaded or in a gratin. Since 2015, the "veau rose", which was at the origin of the recipe Lyon, is reauthorize and return to almost all restaurants.

Tablier de sapeur: In fact, the name inspires nothing of gastronomy and yet ... Also part of the family of guts and offal, le tablier is similar to an "escalope of fat-double breaded", it is cooked in a pan, served hot with sauce "gribiche" (mustard based).

The Sabodet or Saucisson Chaud: The Sabodet is a cooked sausage based on minced pork head, it is cooked in water and served in slices with steamed vegetables, mustar, and gherkins.
speciality from Lyon, saucisson chaud

Tete de Veau: In the Lyonnaise line of offal and tripe. You should dare to taste the head of veal "a la Lyonnaise" with a sauce gribiche or ravigote and served with steamed vegetables or as a salad with pulse

specialty from Lyon, lentil salad, tete de veau, sauce ravigote

Lentils and Bacon Salad with Sauce Ravigote
I have adapted the tete de veau recipe to the products which can be found in the UK

You'll need grilled bacon.
Cooked Puy lentils, refrigerated for 1/2h to two hours
For the Sauce Ravigote

-2 hard boiled eggs -1 tbs mustard -2 shallots -1 tbs Capers -1 tps pickled gerkin chopped -1 tps fresh herbs (chives, parsley etc..) -6 tps oil (you may need a little more) -2 tbsp vinegar -salt pepper

Method

Peel the shallots and cut into thin slices.
Peel the hard boiled eggs.
Crumble the egg yolks and chop the whites.
Cut the capers in 2.
Chop the gerkins
Mix the egg yolks, mustard and vinegar in a bowl. salt and pepper.
Add a little oil and whisk all.
Then add the shallots, the herbs, the egg whites, the capers and the gherkins. Stir the mixture. Keep in a cool place for 15 min.
Add the sauce to the lentils and bacon and serve cold.

I've added this post to July Inheritance Recipes this month hosted by the lovely Coffee and Vanilla as it is part of my growing up food culture

Predicting The Future of Blogging

The Future of Blogging:  No doubt that 10 years ago, when Pebble Soup first post went live, the blogging world by and large was very different. To start with few people were on the scene, everyone knew more or less everyone else and companies disregarded us: "come back when you'll have a paper commission" seemed to be the universal answer.
retro style keyboard
Elretron Penna Keyboard, retro look for advanced technology demonstrate that we have to look in the past to see the future

Move forward to 2017 and blogging is a big business. Companies all want to appear on blogs, ratings are all the rage but as a follow blogger put it the other day on Twitter where is the fun gone.


Hopefully, there is still fun to be had and bloggers who are not aggressively focused on monetarising their blog still exist but will they stem the tide of money above quality? or will the marketeers take over? it's .....Crystal ball time:  

The introduction of Accelerated Mobile Pages AMP introduced by Google with a couple of its partners like Twitter, tend to point in the direction of micro-blogging. Fast search environment, snippet of info. Which shape or form will this kind of blogging take in a year or two time? is everyone's guess. The answer to this one is around the corner.  

No doubt that Vlogs will be on the increase. Story telling is as old as mankind and that's the attraction of video-logs. With voice recognition tools becoming more sophisticated, it's not difficult to imagine that in a few years time, sound will play a larger role in blogging.

Ranking can't be ignored, it's nice to blog but to sustain a blog for a long time, you need to know that you are read. Bloggers love comments because they love their readers so why so many bloggers have closed their comment box? simply because brands don't care very much for comments, they want clicks. Clicks on influential blogs.

Bloggers have become Influencers, in the future we will see more of that, no doubt. Is it a good thing? probably as it looks like despite the odds good content still reign. I think that in the future, blogging platforms will offer better quality blogs. So focusing on Domain Authority (DA) can only be a good thing though, Google doesn't make it easy by favouring sites with a huge DA.

What would you add to this list? Pebble Soup comment box is still opened ;)

Disclaimer: I've written this as part of Innovation Company's Study on what bloggers see as the future of blogging - http://innovationcompany.co.uk  As always words and opinions are my own.

Yuzu Curd : Curious Ingredients Series

Yuzu curd is a recipe for all the people who like their fruit preserves sharp and zingy with a touch of exotic. Yuzu is a fruit originally from Japan.

Yuzu Curd

Taste wise it is a cross between a tangerine, lemon and grapefruit with a strong resemblance to the latter. It used widely by chefs as it gives an element of surprise when added to any dish.

I came across it when asked to develop unusual chocolate truffle recipes. The yuzu truffles where my favourite of the lot, on account of yuzu's sharpness but also its floral undertone.

Yuzu Curd

Superfruit: I am not a fan of the terminology but, facts are facts Yuzu contains three times more vitamin C than a lemon. Kellie at Food to Glow which is my go to place when I need help on food and health has over 10 recipes using this small and orange coloured fruit. I raise my case.

How to source Yuzu is far less difficult than it was three years ago when it hit the West. It's still expensive and if you want to buy it fresh to use the zest you will need to go to an Asian supermarket. Thought, if you can get away with the juice only it's better to buy a 100ml bottle.

Having made the truffles and delighted a friend with them for his birthday, I was left with 3/4 of a Yuzu bottle so I opted for curd. It makes a nice change at breakfast time. The recipe is more or less the same as a lemon curd recipe.

Yuzu Curd


Yuzu Curd
Ingredients
80ml Yuzu juice
50g of butter, cubed
100g of caster sugar
2 egg yolks

You will also need a bowl to fit snugly in a saucepan for the bain-marie. 

Method
  1. Place the yuzu juice, cubed butter and sugar in the bowl. Fill the saucepan with enough water to go up half way of the bowl. Sit the bowl on top of the  pan and stir until the butter has melted. Make sure that the water never overflows in the bowl
  2. Add the egg yolks to the bowl and continue stirring over a gentle heat for 10–12 minutes, or until the curd has thickened to a custard-like consistency. Refrigerate. Don't worry if the curd seems a little loose as it will continue to thicken as it cools.
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