12 Meals of Christmas – Day 12 – Croissant and Apple Butter Pudding

To celebrate Christmas, I’ve launched a brand new blog series covering the twelve days of Christmas with the 12 Meals of Christmas. Each day you’ll be getting an exciting christmassy recipe to help you save money and your belly for the big day.

We’ve saved the best until last. The mighty croissant and apple butter pudding.

What separates this from a normal bread and butter pudding? The buttery croissants and apple pieces create a soft, sweet texture and flavour that will have you coming back for more. Additionally, this dessert can be enjoyed for breakfast throughout this festive weekend and it doesn’t cost the earth.

Before we get down to the recipe, I want to say a huge thank you to all of you who’ve read and supported the 12 Meals of Christmas. I have some ideas in the pipeline for 2018 that I think you’ll enjoy, but for now – grab yourself some croissants and have a go at making this beautiful dessert. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

Croissant, Apple and Butter Pudding (Serves 4)

Four croissants, cut in half

75g of raisins

Two apples, peeled cored and sliced

400ml of milk

200ml of water

Three eggs

70g of caster sugar

Three heaped tablespoons of cornflour

A teaspoon of vanilla essence

A teaspoon of cinnamon

A sprinkling of caster sugar

Turn the oven to Gas Mark 5/180C. Into a saucepan on a medium heat, pour in your milk and water. Crack in your eggs, then begin to whisk the ingredients together. As you do so, drop in your vanilla essence, caster sugar and the three tablespoons of cornflour. Whilst you whisk, make sure that the ingredients aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the custard begins to thicken to a consistency similar to single cream, remove it from the heat and start work on the croissants.

Taking an ovenproof dish, arrange your croissant pieces inside. Layer over your apple pieces, cinnamon and raisins before pouring over the custard. Finish this stage by scattering over a little caster sugar before popping in the pudding for the exciting part of the recipe.

Bake the pudding for around 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and the croissants have soaked up a good deal of the custard. Serve immediately with fresh cream for a delicious treat whatever the time of day. You can also keep a supply of pudding throughout the christmas period by storing it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

That’s a wrap for the 12 Meals of Christmas! If you enjoyed this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to look back at all of the recipes featured.

 

12 Meals of Christmas – Day 8 – Stuffed Peppers

To celebrate Christmas, I’ve launched a brand new blog series covering the twelve days of Christmas with the 12 Meals of Christmas. Each day you’ll be getting an exciting christmassy recipe to help you save money and your belly for the big day.

In my vegetarian Christmas dinner, stuffed peppers are often the main event. For those of you who have never had them, they don’t sound all that filling – yet, after you’ve devoured one pepper, you’ll soon realise just how deceptive this dish can be. The beauty of stuffing any vegetable is that you can change your filling from day to day. It’s also really easy to do, making stuffed peppers the perfect dish for a midweek meal. Make batch of these and you can enjoy them right up until Christmas, saving yourself some money and time too.

Here, I’ve created a mix of colours to add a touch of extravagance to your winter afternoon. I’ve used vegan cheese to top these peppers, but cheddar, parmesan and Stilton will all do the trick just fine. If you are using dairy cheeses, pop the peppers back into the oven once you’ve grated the cheese on top and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the cheese is properly melted.

Stuffed Peppers (Serves 2) VG (Without dairy cheese)

Three peppers, halved and de-seeded

Half of a courgette, chopped into small chunks

One onion, diced

A clove of garlic, crushed

Three florets of broccoli

A teaspoon of rosemary

A teaspoon of paprika

A couple of handfuls of vegan parmesan
or 25g of grated cheddar/crumbled Stilton

A couple of lugs of olive oil

Seasoning

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5/180C. Taking your pepper halves, arrange on a baking tray and dash over your olive oil, seasoning and a teaspoon of rosemary. Pop the peppers into the oven once it’s hot enough and then start preparing your filling.

Pop another lug of olive oil into a saucepan and turn the hob onto a medium heat. Slide in your onion first, and then a couple of minutes later slide in your courgette. Fry the vegetables until they start to turn brown before removing from the heat.

Once the peppers have been cooking in the oven for around 20 minutes, take them out and start filling them with your onion and courgette and then the crushed garlic. Slide your baking tray back into the oven for a further 10 minutes, to give the onion and courgette a good colour. If you’re adding dairy cheese, grate your Stilton, parmesan or cheddar over the tops of the peppers once the 10 minutes are up, before returning the peppers to the oven until the cheese starts to brown.

If you’re doing this the vegan way, go straight to adding the grated broccoli. You want to put the florets through the smaller holes as this will create a beautiful, slightly crunchy topping. Finally, add your vegan parmesan. This combo works fantastically with the roasted peppers and flavoursome filling.

If you’re doing it the dairy way, slide your peppers out of the oven. Pop them onto a work surface and grate the broccoli over the top as a garnish.

Serve with a simple salad and dressing for the ultimate, healthy experience. You can also add fresh herby potato wedges if you want to be naughty.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more from the 12 Meals of Christmas. If you enjoyed this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with all of the meals featured.

12 Meals of Christmas – Day 2 – Leek and Kale Curry

Christmas and curry: two of our greatest inventions. So, it only makes sense to combine them. In fact, curry – with it’s colour, spicy flavours, warmth and wholesome goodness – could fit into the Christmas menu very well if you can part with your turkey. This applies to those vegetarians out there who might be stuck between two big meat-eaters (I feel for you).

To celebrate Christmas, I’ve launched a brand new blog series covering the twelve days of Christmas with the 12 Meals of Christmas. Each day you’ll be getting an exciting christmassy recipe to help you save money and your belly for the big day.

See the first festive recipe here.

Using two hardy wintry vegetables, kale and leeks, in this curry makes it the ideal comfort food – with the best bit being that you won’t pile on the pounds after two helpings (a very likely outcome once you get a taste of the first mouthful).

And below, you can follow my winter-warming recipe and make your very own fantastic leek and kale curry:

Leek and Kale Curry (Serves 3) Vg

One leek, chopped

Two handfuls of kale

One chilli, chopped and de-seeded

A teaspoon of cumin seeds

A teaspoon of paprika

A teaspoon of turmeric

A teaspoon of garam masala

25ml of soya or dairy yoghurt

Seasoning

 

You want to start by grabbing a saucepan and heating a dash of oil over a medium flame. Pop in your slices of leek and fry these for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. As the leek fries, slide in the cumin seeds, seasoning and turmeric. Follow this with a crushed clove of garlic, chopped chilli pepper, the paprika and the garam masala. Fry the dry ingredients until the leeks begin to brown, making sure that you continue to stir as you go, adding a little water as you go.

When the leeks are beginning to brown, pop in your kale leaves. Drop in a little extra water, turning the hob down to a low heat and placing a lid over the saucepan. Leave the kale for around 5 minutes to wilt.

In the meantime, set up your rice to boil. Using your hand to measure out a portion, drop into another saucepan as much rice as you might need – Pour over boiling water and turn the hob onto a high heat for around 5 minutes, or until the water is steaming. Once the water is bubbling, remove the rice from the heat and place a lid over the top, leaving the grains to soften up for around 10 minutes.

Remove the lid from your curry saucepan and taking your 25ml of yoghurt, pour this into the other ingredients. Follow this up with the additional garlic, give everything a good stir and place to one side until the rice is cooked through.

Once the rice has softened, drain and serve. Be generous with your curry as it really is something!

Stay tuned tomorrow for more from the 12 Meals of Christmas. If you enjoyed this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with all of the meals featured.

 

12 Meals of Christmas – Day 1 – Roasted Leeks and Parsnip Mash

We all fancy ourselves as a cooking pro, right?

Of course, not all of us have the time, equipment or the money to be a gourmet god. Or perhaps we do?

To celebrate Christmas, I’m launching a brand new blog series covering the twelve days of Christmas with the 12 Meals of Christmas. Each day you’ll be getting an exciting christmassy recipe to help you save money and your belly for the big day.

All of my meals are veggie, as I am a vegetarian. However, you can add meat to dishes such as today’s offering. In fact, this leek and parsnip mash dish is highly versatile – add roast potatoes and vegetables and you have yourself a far healthier version of a meaty feast, or leave it in.

When buying your ingredients, grab an extra leek, yoghurt, paprika, cumin, tumeric and garam masala for tomorrow’s recipe!

Roasted Leeks and Parsnip Mash (Serves 1)

One leek, halved

A tablespoon of honey

A dash of vegetable oil

Three parsnips, peeled and chopped

A tablespoon of magarine

A teaspoon of cumin seeds

Two pinches of rosemary

25ml of soya or cow’s milk

Seasoning

Whack the oven onto gas mark 6/200C. Taking a baking tray, lay out your two leek halves. Drizzle vegetable oil, a dash of rosemary, honey and seasoning over the leeks before placing them into the oven for around 35 mins.

Into a saucepan, drop in your parsnip chunks. Cover these with boiling water and turn the hob onto a medium heat. Add your cumin seeds, before placing the lid over the parsnips and cooking them for around 20 minutes, or until the chunks are fairly easy to slice through with the knife.

Once this is done, remove your parsnips from the boil and drain. Taking a masher, begin to combine the margarine, seasoning and the soya or cow’s milk in with the parsnips. Once the mash is smooth, set to one side.

Take the leek halves out of the oven and serve up. Add your parsnip mash on the side and finish off by making gravy. This recipe can be adapted for roast dinners and more – make it as big or as small as you like. More importantly, sit back and enjoy your moment of gourmet godliness.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more from the 12 Meals of Christmas. If you enjoyed this recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment below!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with all of the meals featured.

 

Macaroni Cheese with Butternut Squash Makes Squasharoni Cheese

Squasharoni Cheese. There it is, I’m coining it.

What more could you want from the winter than a dish of pure stodge? With the addition of butternut squash, onion, a nice bit of garlic and some herbs, you have a much healthier version of the popular classic though. And wait until you see just how orange and vibrant the squasharoni looks when it comes out of the oven!

I enjoyed this squasharoni cheese for dinner and for my work lunch the day after, saving me all that money on meal deals and expensive subs. Follow the recipe below to make your very own meal of cheesy indulgence:

Squasharoni Cheese (Serves 4)

Half a butternut squash

A couple of cupfuls of Macaroni

One onion, chopped

Five mushrooms, finely chopped

50ml of milk (soya or cow)

Bunch of fresh basil, chopped

Two cloves of garlic, crushed

Seasoning

Begin by turning your oven onto gas mark 6/ 200C. Taking the squash half, carefully remove the skin and de-seed. Chop into thin chunks and place these into the top of a steamer, or into a pan with boiling water. Into the bottom part of the steamer or into a separate pan, pour in your couple of handfuls of macaroni. Cover the pasta with water, place a lid over the top and turn the hob onto a medium heat. Leave the pasta and squash to simmer for around 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through and the squash is soft.

Into a large mixing bowl, drop in your cooked squash. Taking a blender, blitz the squash until smooth. Next up, add the sliced onion and mushroom, along with the basil, garlic and seasoning too. Stir in the 50g of milk then grating the cheese into the bowl. Finish by adding the macaroni pasta, and combining everything thoroughly.

Pour everything into an ovenproof dish, grating a little extra cheese over the top so that it’ll brown up nicely. Place into the oven to bake for 35 minutes or until golden on the top. Once this is done, serve up and tuck in.

I’ll be running the 12 Meals of Christmas to help you keep save money and that belly for Christmas. Make sure you follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date!

 

Apple and Hazelnut Pastries

Thanks to everyone who voted over on Instagram! Here is the apple and hazelnut pastry as requested. I want to hear your thoughts – drop them in the comments below. Happy baking.

The best recipes are often accidents. In fact, over 50% of the food that I cook is improvised and, as such, doesn’t always turn out the way I wanted. Yet, in the case of these tarts, this was happy accident indeed.

Taking my spare puff pastry sheet I had in the fridge, I decided to slice up homegrown apples and arrange them on top. And what a result! These pastries are best enjoyed as a light snack, or why not eat them fresh and cover them in custard?

Apple and Hazelnut Tarts (Serves 12)

A sheet of ready-made puff pastry

Two tablespoons of caster sugar

Two apples, cored and peeled

A couple of handfuls of chopped hazelnuts

Cinnamon

An egg, beaten

Honey

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200C. Next, grease a muffin tray ready for your tarts.

You want to slice your apples thinly lengthways to begin with. Set these aside and grab your ready-made pastry sheet. Before you begin cutting, take your two tablespoons of caster sugar and sprinkle them over the top of the pastry. Lightly, taking both palms, press the sugar into the top of the pastry. Using the bottom of a glass, cut out several circles and placing these into your tray, gently press them into each case.

You’ll find that you’ll have a little bit of pastry left over. Use this to line the tops of each case. Finish the pastry by glazing it with a brush and the egg yolk. Make sure that the whole tart is covered as this is what will give it that golden look later on!

Next, arrange your apple slices over the top of each tart. Scatter cinnamon, the chopped hazelnuts and the honey over the tarts before placing them into the oven for around 20-30 minutes or until golden.

Once the pastry has puffed up and the tarts look golden on the top, remove them from the oven. You can either serve them up immediately as a delicious dessert with fresh icecream or custard, or place them into an airtight container and store for up to 3 days.

 

Stay tuned for more chances to vote on the next recipes by following me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I hope you enjoy these tarts as much as I do!

 

Goats Cheese, Butternut Squash and Leek Pasties

Whenever I head home, the sight of a takeaway is rare. And this is where my love for homemade food comes from. With my stepmum also being a vegetarian as well as an advocate for Riverford veg boxes, the food is rich with variety and flavour. On a recent visit back to my hometown, I came away with some gorgeous roasted vegetable pasties, and this is what has spurred me on to try my own.

Boy, were the results worth it!

First of all, there’s something about combining squash and goats cheese that takes you to another level of happy. But then, by putting this into wholesome shortcrust pastry along with onions and leeks makes it even better.

Perfect for having anytime of the day (yes, even breakfast if that’s how you roll), these pasties will keep in an airtight container for three days, meaning easy work lunches too.

Goats Cheese, Butternut Squash and Leek Pasties (Serves 2)

Ingredients

Half a butternut squash, de-seeded and with the outer skin removed

Readymade shortcrust pastry

An onion, diced

One small tub of goats cheese

A leek, chopped

Pinch of cumin seeds

Olive oil

Pinch of rosemary

Seasoning

An egg yolk

Set your oven to gas mark 6/200C. Lay the squash onto a baking tray and drizzle over the olive oil. Scatter your salt and pepper over the chunks and top this by adding some fragrant cumin seeds. Slide the baking tray into the oven for around 30 minutes. In this time, lay out your shortcrust pastry and, using a bowl, cut out three or four circles. Lay these onto another baking tray.

Once the squash has roasted up nicely, remove the tray from the oven and start placing your slices onto one half of each circle. Layer your diced onion and leek on top of this and finish with a hint of rosemary and a good dose of goats cheese. After the filling has been prepared, take the other side of your pastry and roll it over the filling, pressing down the close with a small roll of extra pastry.

Taking a brush, cover each pasty in a thin layer of egg yolk. When all of your pasties are covered, place the baking tray back into the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the pasties are golden.

Serve these wintry delights up with a green leafy salad and some wholesome boiled baby potatoes for the full effect.

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Did you enjoy this recipe? I’d love to know what you thought – hit me up in the comments below.

youngground reviews: The Royal Navy Volunteer

You don’t need a lot of money to have a great foody time. By putting down the lunchtime meal deal and making your own food throughout the week, the weekend can be the time that you truly indulge yourself on some fine food.

Being a vegetarian, it’s a given that I only review the alternative options on menus. However, I should say that I do sit down to eat with many meat-lovers and pay close attention to their satisfaction of the meal too. Even so, I often find that a restaurant can be measured well on the innovation and the inspiration behind its alternative dishes.

Continuing my exciting (but affordable) culinary journey through Bristol and beyond, this week I’m reviewing the brilliant Sunday lunch menu at the Royal Navy Volunteer, located along the timeless King Street in Bristol.

If you’re an experienced Bristolian, or you visit regularly, you’ll know that the city is full of innovative, inspiring and beautiful food. Every corner holds a new foody treasure and King Street is no exception.

As soon as you arrive into the Royal Navy Volunteer you get a sense of true pub authenticity. The Volley’s interior is deceptively large: each little corner is full of life – and this is particularly true on a Sunday. Across Bristol, people arrive at the quaint pub to sample its roasts. They know as I, too, found out that the pub’s roast has garnered quite a reputation.

As a vegetarian, I often judge the quality of a menu on its options. Although I’m quite satisfied with a spread of vegetables, I do enjoy something a little more filling to compliment them. The Volley menu did not disappoint on this occasion, and I chose the intriguing option of a lentil roast served with the classic trimmings.  My Sunday lunch buddy, who is 100% carnivore, chose the lamb roast.

I felt a very strange sensation when the food arrived, one that I haven’t felt for quite some time. More often than not, when I go for a roast I find that the plate can often lack the colours and the flavours of its meat counterpart. Yet, here I was presented with food that filled, and almost spilled, off of the plate. More importantly, the entire thing was soaked in a rich gravy; something that many other vegetarian roasts miss.

Then, with knife and fork in hand, another strange-but-brilliant sensation overcame me: I was lost in this bounty of delicious food and had no clue where to start. However, once I’d worked out that the crispy potatoes would be my first destination, I devoured them quickly. Roast potatoes are easy to make but difficult to make well. As I crunched my way through the crisp, beautifully textured skins and into the glorious fluffy middles, I felt complete.

Looking over at my Sunday lunch buddy’s choice, the lamb roast itself was so large that it could’ve been put on its own plate. Again, the bed of vegetables was cooked to perfection and the whole thing looked straight out of an advert.

Onto the vegetarian lentil roast, and the passion that had gone into creating this soft, meaty, wonderfully flavoured meal won me over immediately. In fact, every element from the spongy Yorkshire pudding to the freshly steamed kale and the depth of flavours noted in the gravy created a meal that truly celebrated the end of the week.

The Royal Navy Volunteer isn’t just an innovative restaurant, of course. As a rustic and authentic pub, the Volunteer celebrates the Bristol craft ale scene, offering a wide selection of different beers which round off any roast or other meal perfectly. I enjoyed a dark porter with my food. With this palette of hops combined with the smoky flavours of the lentils and the rich gravy, I had a few moments in food heaven.

If you really want to round off your week with a Sunday roast, I urge you to pay The Royal Navy Volunteer a visit. Sit yourself down in the warm, immerse yourself in the food and forget about the working week ahead.

How to Grow Salads Without a Lot of Space

Want to grow your own food but you haven’t got a garden? You don’t need one.

Behold the windowsill garden plan:

Continue reading How to Grow Salads Without a Lot of Space

Easy Sunday Comforts: Apple and Lavender Tart

Sundays are great. Although Sundays signify the last part of the lazy period – the wholesome feasts of food you’re likely to have at the end of the weekend are the best. This week, why not have a go at something a little different with my recipe for apple and lavender tart? The lavender gives this dessert a little more fragrance, making it even better alongside custard!

Continue reading Easy Sunday Comforts: Apple and Lavender Tart