Holy Guacamole

You'd have had to live with a 5p plastic bag over your head not to notice that the price of avocado has shot up in the past year. it's a matter of high demand and meagre harvest though a single California Hass Avocado tree can produce 500 fruits (by the way avocados are fruits not veg) this year the harvest was poor and the demand has not dropped on the contrary there has been a spike.


Once reserved for the rich since the not so rich have discovered how good and how tasty avocado is the supply is struggling. Like most people, I have a penchant for this lovely egg shaped fruit. Unlike some, who I won't name, when I mash an avocado on a toast, I do it quietly. There is no point of making a fuss about such thing but....

Since Pebble Soup won a prize for a perfect Come 'n Dine With Me menu which included Guacamole as a starter. I've meant to share the recipe for this delicious and healthy dish. Each family has its own recipe. I do mine using a food processor with the pulse button, it's chunky but the on button would get it to a smooth paste if that's your preference.


I throw in all that can be added, that way it reminds me of my travels in Mexico where we mostly lived on street food. I found a recipe which matches exactly my requirements in The Ideas Kitchen, a Panasonic Kitchen site whose ambassador is one of my favourite chefs, Tom Kitchin. Serendipity.

Mexican Guacamole Recipe

Serves 
  
2 Avocado 
1 Lime
1 Tomatoes
1 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Red Onion 
1/2 bunch Coriander
To taste Salt
To taste Black Pepper
1/2 Green chili 
1 tbsp Olive Oil

Directions
SHARE
This Mexican Guacamole will have everyone at the table scraping the bowl with their nachos! This delicious dip is perfect with nachos, dolloped atop a chili con carne, or inside yummy tacos and quesadillas!
So easy to make in the food processor! Simply blitz up a couple of ripe avocados, olive oil, red onion, garlic, tomato, lime juice, and some green chili if you like a kick! Season to taste and enjoy!

Steps
1
Peel and de-stone the avocados. Add to the food processor with the olive oil.
2
Squeeze in the juice of the lime.
3
Chop the tomato and add to the food processor.
4
Add the chopped onion, garlic and chili.
5
Season to taste.

For more info and disclaimer :  all words and opinions in this post are my own The post is sponsored by Panasonic. To know more about  Food Processor recipes  click on the link

Spreading the guacamole with CookBlogShare

Book Review: Veggie Desserts + Cake By Kate Hackworthy & Recipe: Cauliflower, Lime & Cardamon Cookies

A new book from a fellow-food-blogger is wonderful enough to quickly become an event. Veggies Desserts + Cakes by Kate Hackworthy is no exception. I have been following Kate's blog since she started and interacted a little with her on Twitter. 

Last year, in my January food column for the local newspaper, I mentioned the rise of all things "vegetable and sweet". That was after noticing the number of hits on my Choufleur Cake and then Kate comes along with a whole book which goes far beyond carrot cakes.

There is a method to her madness too. She explains that, "Veggies bring moisture, natural sweetness and, in some desserts, vegetable purée can replace eggs"

So what can you expect from Veggie Desserts + Cakes? 60 recipes never seen anywhere before: cakes, cupcakes, cookies, tray bakes, pies, frozen desserts and a whole section of "More Sweet Things" the Chocolate Beetroot Baked Doughnuts with Blueberry Glaze seen on the cover belong to the later.

It also seems to be a very personal cookbook. Kate tells of her growing up in Canada which has inspired her pumpkin desserts, of her kids who have had the most unusual birthday cakes that a crazy-about-veggies-mummy can make.

By now you'll have noticed that I like this book. I like it for one, no two, reasons; the unusual flavour combinations such as Kale and Chocolate, who would have thought? The cauliflower, Lime and Cardamon Cookies I tried are simply divine. It should have been Romanesco but never the less, the lime and the cardamon compliment ever so well the mild, nutty taste of any Brassicaceae. 

The other reason may look simple but....
The recipes work, there are no hanging ingredients, measurements are precise. The work of a pro.

And now for my effort at replicating what should have been romanesco but was...


Cauliflower, Lime 'n Cardamon Cookies
Ingredients
100g unsalted butter, softened
150g cauliflower
1 Lime, zest and juice
Pasta 'n grains
  • 100 g Porridge oats
    Baking 'n spices
    • 8 Cardamom pods crushed
    • 125 g Self-raising flour
    • 100 g Granulated Sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with parchment.
    2. Finely grate the cauliflower or whiz it in a food processor until it resembles fine crumbs. Heat it in the microwave, or in a dry pan on the stove, for 2 minutes to dry it out slightly. Allow to cool.
    3. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix well.
    4. Stir in the cauliflower, oats, flour and ground cardamom and combine.
    5. Roll the batter into balls, place on the prepared baking tray and press down lightly with a fork.
    6. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly on the tray and then cool completely on a wire rack.
Recipe reproduced from Veggie Desserts 
If you'd like to read more reviews click here another clever idea from Kate, A virtual launch

Inheritance Recipe August Round-up

Summer was slow blogging time and though we didn't get many recipes, Inheritance Recipes Challenge received recipes from cultures which were not featured before and some nifty ideas such as our to celebrate failure.

From left to right

Street food with Carolanne Johnson and her Mini Pizza's. 
Best Ever Gluten Free Scones with a lovely story from Kate's teenage years.
A Favorite things Birthday Cake to remember for Margot's gorgeous daughter along with a very colourful Easy Choldnik
I will let you discover what an African Kaklo is
Finally, I added my Dark Glacé Cherry Biscotti

We hope to see you in September under Margot's beautiful Inheritance Recipe's banner

Fresh and Dandy : How to Redecorate a Box-Room

Blue Bell Gray Wall Paper

Redecorating once is a joy but I have mixed feeling about redecorating the same room twice. When we took on our Victorian ex-brothel-com-new-home as a project, I started enthusiastically. First, I tackled the spare room. I delicately stencilled feathers on the wall, to make the room cosy for our visitors.

Spare Room before
But since life is not a bed of feathers, a combination of the room facing the wrong cardinal point, a monster tree growing in an uncaring neighbour's garden, freak weather and a battered gutter, a list of unpleasantnesses of which I'll spare you the details lead to that room becoming sordid with its neglected look and peeling plaster.

Years later, round 2. Now we have much more experience, we were more aware of what was required: A paint which you could rely on is a must. A top trade quality paint for domestic use. Slapping on any brand would not do. Little Greene Intelligent Eggshell is water based eco-friendly paint with good reviews so I decided to give it a go. It contains some clever water resistant acrylic.

Little Greene Paint

The first thing we noticed was the lack of smell which is a plus when you have friends arriving within a few days. The application was easy (or so he tells me) and since it promises to be water-resistant it may be that it will also prove resistant to the leaky gutter freak incidents. Hopefully, peeling plaster will be a thing of the past.

Now for colours: I picked White Lead. How many times have I heard, "a white is a white and all whites look the same". I beg to differ. Little Greene has worked closely with English Heritage for 7 years to produce (via combined research) a range of historic colours authentic to key design eras up until the 1970s.

The range makes for an interesting choice.

As a whole, a white only room can be a little sparce. One face of the room got the Blue Bell Gray treatment. I love this designer's hand painted wall paper, the result is amazing. Take a look at the reclaimed and reloved spare-room

Blue Bell Gray Wall paper
Tips and Tricks to Decorate a Small Room

  1. Wow with White White will maximise and reflect the light
  2. Stick to a limited palette Before the room had two colours blue 
  3. Don't be afraid to use bold designs They will detract from the room size
  4. Keep storage to the minimum
  5. Look into furniture for boats We found small size double sofa/bed in a shop which specializes in furniture for barges. It arrived flat-pack so it went through the door easily where all other double sofa-beds couldn't get in.
Blue Bell Gray Wall paper

Disclaimer: All words and opinions are my own. I received paint samples to create this post.

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
















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