Saturday, 17 January 2015

Recipe: Kale & Basil Soup


Des and I have got into the habit of visiting our local supermarket at around 9-10pm to hunt for reduced bargains. As he is currently writing up his PhD and my business is still in it's early stages, our food budget is pretty tight. 

Despite living well within our means, we have found that a varied and healthy diet is definitely possible if we are willing to keep waste to the minimum and be flexible with our ingredients.

Often in the reduced section there is a multitude of vegetables at ridiculously low prices, as they have usually reached their sell by date. With a little common sense involved in their storage, most vegetables usually keep for up to a week longer than stated on the packet, just check before use for any mould or rot.

The caveat here is - buying these items is all well and good, though only worth it if you intended to use them. It's not only a waste of money, but also a waste of resources if a week later they can be found stuck to the back of your fridge, destined to go straight into the bin. (I'll make allowances if you end up composting them, though it's an expensive way to generate it!)

Whilst you are never guaranteed the selection of your choice, this method of buying food has certainly added variety into our cooking routine. Soups are a great way of using up veg, as you can experiment with an unusual combination of things and freeze any leftovers for another day!

Earlier this week I was confronted with the question of what to do with bags of 10p kale, 2p basil and 1p potatoes. 

The obvious answer was of course, soup! I was slightly hesitant about how this would turn out, as i have never made a soup with kale before, however the result was light, aromatic and delicious. The only thing I found was that the texture remained slightly chunky, as kale is pretty fibrous. 

It may be pretty self evident, but this is also one hell of a healthy meal!


Ingredients

1 Red Onion, finely chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp Rapeseed or Vegetable Oil
200g Kale (Spinach would also work wonderfully!)
30g Fresh Basil, finely chopped
300g Potatoes, chopped into small 2cm chunks
600 ml of made up Vegetable Stock (I use Bouillon powder)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method 
(I used a soup maker, however this can easily be made on the stove with a hand blender)

1. Heat up the oil in the bottom of your cooking vessel on a medium heat (on the hob I like to use a big stockpot to made huge vats of soup!)

2. Add the onion and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes until they are beginning to become golden. Then add the potato chunks and fry together for another minute or two. This is a good point to make up the vegetable stock.

3. Add the stock to the onion/garlic/potato mixture and bring to a low simmer. Slowly start adding the kale, waiting for each handful to wilt before adding another. Salt and pepper the dish to taste. (I added 1tsp salt and a LOT of pepper)

4. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat with the lid on.

5. Blend after this time is up and serve! Alternatively, tub it all up, wait for it to cool and then freeze.


I hope you've enjoyed this little insight into my bargainous ways! 

Does anyone else shop in the reduced sections? Maybe you have some top tips for getting a food bargain that you want to share! Or your go to recipe for using up leftover veg?

Bethan


Thursday, 15 January 2015

"You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful"


Now I understand this post may be going slightly beyond my remit as a food blogger. I have spent the last week or so though with this post going round and round in my head, unwilling to be shifted.

I have come to see this space, this blog, as my space in which to exercise my freedom of speech. I think this view is probably shared by thousands of other bloggers, especially in a world where an individual is facing corporal punishment for publishing a blog.

Though I do not cover politically or socially contentious subjects, I do use this space to express opinions, to give an example, my thoughts on the ethical choices we can make when buying food.

Maybe it's the upcoming election here in the UK, combined with the terrible attacks in France, that has made me want to state my belief in democracy, in a global community built on mutual understanding and cooperation. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of this.

I feel as if there is a spectre across Europe, the world, the ghost of the early to mid twentieth century. A time in which the political and ideological right used a populations fears (economic, racial, social) to manipulate them and as justification for committing terrible atrocities.

The limitation of freedom of speech is part of a wider attack on the freedom of the individual. This freedom is an essential human right which we are all entitled to, regardless of sex, race or religious beliefs.

The only caveat I would add would be that words are a powerful tool and this power should be acknowledged and respected. Freedom of speech should not be used to limit someone else's freedom or impinge on their human rights.

If anyone has seen Charlie Chaplin's 1940 film, The Great Dictator, they will undoubtedly remember the speech given at the end of the film. To me, much of this speech still has resonance today.

We, individuals, are powerful together, as a team, working towards an improved world. A world in which tolerance for others and their right to a difference of opinion is the default mode.

I will leave you with my favorite section of the speech:

"Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will.

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world - to do away with national barriers - to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness..."

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

My Simple Breakfast Routine (AKA, the best smoothie ever.)

I have just discovered a very, very good thing and thought I would do a super quick post to share said good thing. Because after all, we are in this together fellow foodies! I have already previously spoken about my love for breakfast, which in my opinion is possibly the most enjoyable meal of the day.

I recently have been trying to eat more mindfully and as a result have noticed that I often don't wake up very hungry, it can take about 2-3 hours until I am ready for a meal.

I still think it's a good idea to get going with something in my stomach though - that's where this smoothie comes in.


There's no real recipe to it, basically I blend 400ml almond milk and a banana with a tsp or two of peanut butter. If I'm feeling fancy, I add a tsp of nutella, which is divine.

As I've said before, I only buy peanut butter which is palm oil free or uses palm oil from a sustainable source.

Anyway, give it a go (you can thank me later!) But be warned - it's bloody addictive...

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Recipe: A Very Hearty Sausage Stew (and a food resolution)


I literally can not believe that we are already 11 days into 2015! Does anybody else feel like this is extremely disconcerting?! It feels like just a minute ago we were moving into our new home and putting up our, admittedly rather sporadic, Christmas decorations. The New Year is a watershed moment for many, myself included, allowing us to leave the trials of the past year behind and start afresh.

Resolutions are a point of contention for many - Some people use them to change small details, e.g. "I will switch to ecologically friendly washing detergents." Others work on the macro big picture stuff, which has the potential to change their life, "I will lose 100 pounds, quite my job and become a freelancer, pursue a vegan diet, etc."

I personally think that whilst both have their virtues, especially if they provide the motivation you need to really do something, the former is better than the latter. This year I decided that my resolutions needed to be defined and S.M.A.R.T

Amongst a rather large list of goals for 2015, one resolution which is particularly pertinent to changing my life on a daily scale is the commitment to cook at least one meal a day from scratch

Last year I was definitely guilty of relying too much on eating out, especially during the house move. There is a well known reason why food in a restaurant tastes so good - added fat and salt, the key weapons in a chef's arsenal. Preparing food at home means that I can control both of these additions and keep them to the minimum, along with other additives and preservatives.

The recipe below is my stab at something delicious and warming for the winter months that can be made at home with ease. The stew has a rich smoky depth provided paprika and red wine, along with a pleasant buzz from the chillies. 

Please do be aware when buying the meat items, (sausage, chorizo and pancetta) I would urge you to go for high quality over quantity and to pick items which have the least added artificial ingredients. 

In a midnight dash to the supermarket for yogurt (we are wild on a Friday night I tell you) we managed to pick up a pack of Venison Sausages for 60p (!!!!), which worked a treat in this recipe. Regular high quality pork sausages are wonderful too though in this context.

This is the sort of recipe you can throw together using up any tins of pulses/chopped tomatoes that you might have languishing at the back of the cupboard, along with any miscellaneous veg you have to hand. Substitutions can easily be made - if you don't like a type of bean, swap it for another or just add an extra tin of one that you do enjoy. Reduce the amount of chilli if you like a milder dish.

Ingredients
Serves 6

4 to 8 hours in a slow cooker / 1.5 hours in the oven

  • 1 tbsp Rapeseed/Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 3 small Chillies / 2 medium sized Chillies
  • 1 Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g / 1 pack of Pancetta
  • 100g Chorizo, chopped into small chunks
  • 6 Venison Sausages / high quality Pork Sausages, each chopped into 4 chunks

  • 1 tin of Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 tin of Cannellini Beans
  • 1 tin of Butter Beans
  • Any misc veg you want to add, make sure this is chopped into bite size chunks to keep the texture of the stew consistent. (We used carrots, but mushrooms, peppers, most veg really will work!)
  • 3 tins of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 250ml Red Wine
  • 3 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • Pepper to taste

To serve (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Natural Yogurt or Creme Fraiche
  • A handful of chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Cooked Couscous or Bulgur Wheat

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan until sizzling, add the chilli, garlic and brown sugar and cook on a medium heat for one minute.

2. Add the pancetta, chorizo and red pepper and sausage chunks. Lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes until everything is golden brown, whilst continually stirring to ensure even cooking.

3. Get ready your slow cooker or large casserole pan. After the above step is completed, move the contents of the frying pan over to your chosen cooking vessel.

4. Add the beans, chopped tomatoes, red wine, any veg, smoked paprika and seasoning. Give this all a good stir to make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

5. Slow Cooker - cook for 4 hours on the high setting, 8 hours on low. Stir occasionally.
    Oven - Cook for 1.5 hours on 180C, stirring occasionally

6. I served mine with a dollop of natural yogurt to balance the heat from the chilli and couscous


I hope you enjoy this recipe, please do let me know if you try it out yourself

Also if you have any S.M.A.R.T resolutions, I would love to hear them! I'm thinking of possibly doing a full post on mine later on this month, especially as I can let you know then if I have kept them.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Wanderlust: What to Eat in the Netherlands

Still Life with a Gilt Cup, Willem Claesz. Heda, 1635. oil on panel, h 88cm × w 113cm. 
Above is a 17th century still life which basically proves, in my opinion, that the Dutch invented the tablescape scene, an image which is now a staple of the food bloggers photographic repertoire. 

Having lived previously in the Netherlands, I am not a complete stranger to Dutch food in the present day. I think it's fair to say that the country is not a famous culinary destination, though I'm hoping I can show you that it certainly does offer some delicious and interesting things to feast on!

So if are thinking of travelling to Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht or anywhere else in the Netherlands, this is the culinary guide for you! 

Much of this guide is inspired by my recent trip to the Netherlands last November (which you can read about in more general terms here) It is all based on my experience of living and travelling around the country and for this reason much of the focus is on street food, all of which can be found in the major cities.

Coffee

The Dutch actually were the first european nation to obtain live coffee plants for cultivation from Yemen. They quickly gained the monopoly on coffee cultivation in their overseas colonies and exported this back to europe. The Dutch remain passionate about coffee to this very day, with a well established culture of coffee houses (different to coffee shops!) and cafes, all of which in my experience are very good in terms of quality.

The Netherlands is actually where my love of coffee began and is the reason why I started my own coffee company shortly after graduating!

I really would recommend enjoying a coffee in an independent cafe, of which there are many. Such places also often turn into bars later on, enabling you move swiftly on to a bottle of belgian beer! Always a bonus...

There are also some good Dutch coffee chains, so there's no excuse to not leave Starbucks behind when travelling here! My recommendations would be:

Coffee Company - Very trendy, full of very good looking men, (in my experience!) lots of drink types and a choice of beans for connoisseurs.

Douwe Egberts - A bit more traditional and less hipster, though the coffee still is very good. The hot chocolates are also worth the visit alone!

 Broodjes

Basically the Dutch answer to sandwitches, broodjes are readily available in numerous incarnations and filling variations. I personally enjoy a good broodje kaas - or cheese roll! They are a staple in the Dutch breakfast/lunch routine and make a good grab and go meal. 

Source -  Shown here: Freits and Satay Sauce from Miss New Foodie
Friets and Fritessaus

Stands selling chips (friets) can be found pretty much everywhere in the Netherlands. This is a really cheap lunch option if you are out and about in a big city and usually very popular with the locals too!

The friets are usually served in a cone and can be accompanied with fritessaus - a low fat mayo substitute. Alternatively you can go for ketchup, currysaus (spiced ketchup,) satay sauce, or Patat Oorlog (a combination of satay, raw onions and mayo.)

I'm a satay kind of girl, if you were wondering: peanuts for the win.

 Automaat: Krokets, Frikandellen, Hamburgers, Kaassouffl├ęs

Welcome to the land of the automatic snack! This is a pretty genius idea - think hot, cheap snacks, available pretty much everywhere, usually in busy areas such as stations and city centres. The vending machines are often part of a larger kiosk with a staffed counter from which you can purchase drinks and frites. 

The vending machines are very simple - all you have to do is decide what you want, insert a few euros and bam! There are usually several things to choose from in the automats:

Krokets: Fried food rolls containing mashed potato and beef, also known as croquettes.

Frikandellen - Minced meat hot dogs, the absence of skin means that there is a debate over whether to consider these guys sausages or not (either way, they are pretty delicious!)

Hamburgers - Pretty much the standard minced meat burger

Kaassouffl├ęs - A whole lot of melted cheese inside a thin dough-based wrap which has been breaded and then deep-fried. They may well be little heart attacks in a vending machine, however they are so so so good for the soul.

 Bitterballen

Very similar to Krokets and another type of snack food, these little balls of ground meat are deep fried and often served with mustard or mayo. We ordered ours to share with friends over a couple of beers.

Sweet Goods In General

From what I can gather, Dutch cuisine seems to specialise in delicious food which is also insanely bad for you (the keyword here is: fried.) It's therefore no surprise that when it comes to sweet treats, the Netherlands has some serious game going. Here are some specialities to watch out for:

Poffertjes - These little round pancakes are much lighter and fluffier than their British or American counterparts and come served with powdered sugar, butter and sometimes syrup.

Pannenkoek - Dutch pancakes are large and thin, similar in shape to crepes but without the butter enriched batter. Eat at a Pannenkoekenhuis for a range of both savoury and sweet options! 

Stroopwafel - These waffles are made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. They are best served warm straight from a street vendor in my opinion, however packs of the waffles can be bought in supermarkets.

Oliebollen

These guys literally translate into english as "oil balls"but don't let that put you off! These deep fried dumplings are very similar to doughnuts and can often be found served from street stalls around the Christmas period, as they were traditionally consumed on Christmas Eve. 

Oliebollen (oliebol in the singular) are usually dusted with icing sugar and can sometimes come in different varieties, including fillings such as apple and chocolate. 


Soused Herring: Broodje Haring

Raw herring is very much a dutch delicacy and again is another example of street food in the Netherlands. Usually served from kiosks, soused herring is marinated and can be served on its own or with chopped onions. It can also be found in a sandwich form as "broodje haring." I would argue that this is a pretty nutritious snack, though maybe not for the faint hearted!


Kibbeling 

Another excellent example of street food at it's best, Kibbeling is one of my personal favourite indulgences. It consists of pieces of white fish, usually cod, coated in batter then fried. It is often served with garlic mayo.  

Kibbeling" is a corruption of the word "cod cheek." The cheeks were separately excised and were once offered as "fried fish". The original cod cheeks have a very distinct taste and texture and are incomparable with the usually offered as a snack (fake) kibbeling.

I hope this post has been interesting/of use for those who are looking to travel to the Netherlands! 

Are there any Dutch foods that you particularly enjoy? Have I missed anything out? Do you have any recommendations for places to eat in Amsterdam or further afield that you want to share? - If so, let me know!

Bethan

P.S Don't forget to enter my first giveaway to win a selection of Vincent's Coffee! It's running until the 10th January, you can enter here.

For more food adventures, find AoF on Twitter and follow on Bloglovin

Sunday, 28 December 2014

My First Giveaway! Featuring Vincent's Coffee


In order to mark the new year and to give something back to all my readers and supports, I am delighted to announce my first giveaway.

I really wanted to share some products that I dearly love and am extremely passionate about - because after all, I put my all into creating them. The past year has seen Vincent's Coffee go from an embryonic concept with a test product to fully fledged and refined coffee blends.

I was really grateful for all the feedback on my last post about my business, Vincent's Coffee - "Honest Lessons I have Learnt Whilst Setting Up a Business" When you have a product, feedback from everyone, especially customers, is the most valuable thing you can get. So if anyone has any thoughts on Vincent's - the brand design, labels, packaging, including constructive criticism! Please do drop me an email at audacityoffood@gmail.com.

2015 is going to be a big year for both the blog and business, I have lots of exciting content for you guys planned here at AoF and even more exciting Vincent's developments will be announced shortly! 

In order to mark the beginning of a new and exciting year, I will be giving away a selection pack featuring three bags of different Vincent's blends, including our latest organic release (the winner can specify whole bean or ground.) 

All you need to do to enter is to leave a comment sharing your favourite way to prepare coffee! Perhaps you have a trusty old moka pot, or prefer using an espresso machine? Additional entries can also be gained, for example by following myself (@audacityofood) or @vincentscoffee on twitter.

Unfortunately this particular giveaway is for UK addresses only, however I'm hoping to hold an international one in the near future, so keep checking back!

Good luck guys and thank you so much for your continued support! I would be so grateful if you shared this contest as much as possible.

If I don't post before the 31st, have a great NYE too!

Bethan

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Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to quickly say that I hope you all are having a wonderful day, ideally filled with lots and lots of delicious food!

We had a pretty decadent roast goose feast and I am now well and truly stuffed.... we haven't even had the Christmas pudding yet (thank god for pudding stomachs eh.)


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