Green goodness sandwich

Green goodness sandwich

I really love a good sandwich. As a lunch staple, they often become overdone, uninspired and generally dull. It makes me sad to see housemates slap a couple of pieces of ham between two slices of white bread because there’s a sort of magic in a sandwich. It’s like a contained salad: fresh veg or cooked with oozing cheese, by holding everything together in a single handful, it’s like an entire meal in each bite. Unless you’re like my dad, who part of each component onto his meal into a single forkful, resulting in an unappetising sludge, there’re few other foods where you can enjoy such a range of tastes and textures in a single mouthful. So in the next few weeks, I will offer some inspiring sandwich recipes – from healthy lunches to decadent cheese toasties – in the hopes they will encourage you to branch out with your creativity next time you need to pack lunch…

To kick it all off, we have my Green Goodness sandwich, inspired by The Bojon Gourmet’s Green Goddess sandwich.

For one sandwich…
Half a ripe avocado
1 teaspoon natural yogurt
half a teaspoon tomato puree
half a teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

2 slices of fresh walnut bread (or other bread of choice – best something earthy with seeds in!)
A handful of wild rocket
2 thin slices of bramley apple

Start by mixing the first group of ingredients into avocado mash.
Spread this on one slice of bread, top with rocket and apple and final bread slice.
Simple. Healthy. Utterly delicious.

Green goodness sandwich

Green goodness ingredients

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Time for tea: more recipes

Tea is more than a drink: it’s a culture, a history. Here are all the recipes in my time for tea series along
with some other fantastic tea recipes and posts. Enjoy!

Lapsang souchong pulled mushroom gyoza
Lapsang souchong pulled mushroom gyoza
Rooibos chilli chocolate ice cream
Rooibos chilli chocolate ice cream
Traditional Welsh Bara brith
Traditional Welsh Bara brith
Green tea miso bowl
Green tea miso bowl
Earl grey lemon drizzle fairy cakes
Earl grey lemon drizzle fairy cakes
Chamomile cake with honey frosting at A Cozy Kitchen
Street-Style Chinese Tea Eggs at Food52
Earl grey ice cream with blackberry swirl at Food52
Duck with saltanas and jasmine tea from the Telegraph
Tea rituals around the world from Condé Nast Traveler

Time for tea: Green tea miso soba bowl

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For me, there is little that feels more comforting and nourishing than a big bowl of noodle soup. Green tea is often touted for it’s health benefits, so why not add another level of warmth to this delicious broth.

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Green tea miso soba bowl

90g soba noodles
1 heaped teaspoon green tea
90g miso paste
50g frozen peas
2 large spring onions
Black pepper to taste
1 egg

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the noodle. Cook for 2 minutes and drain.
Steep the green tea in 400ml of hot water for 3 minutes and strain. Add the miso paste to the tea and mix to dissolve.
Finely slice the spring onion.
Add everything back to the pan except the egg. Stir and bring to a simmer.
Make a dip in the noodles – a little cradle for the egg. Crack the egg in and place a lid on the pan. Keep on a low simmer for 4 minutes, until the white is cooked.
Serve.

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Time for tea: Pulled mushroom gyoza

Lapsang souchong pulled mushroom gyoza

Lapsang souchong was first introduced to me by a friend as “bonfire tea”. I was immediately caught by the name. Food can be smoky, but tea like a bonfire? A single sip and I was blown away. The smell alone is enough to get the idea. Lapsang might not be to everyone’s taste. Personally I can’t drink more than half a cup before I feel as though I’ve actually been smoking. This unique flavour is acheived by actual smoking over pinewood. Even if the tea isn’t to your taste, it adds an amazing depth, warmth and, dare I say, smokiness to recipes.

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Gyoza wrappers
I measure this by volume: just use 4 times flour to water. This makes it really easy to scale the measurements up and down.

2 cups plain flour
0.5 cups boiling water
pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix to combine.
When the dough forms a ball, tip it onto a clean work surface and knead until elastic. Add a little more boiling water a tbsp at a time as necessary.
Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Filling

300g closed cup mushrooms
1 mug Lapsang Souchong, strongly brewed (4 minutes)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tsp mirin
Tbsp groundnut oil
2 spring onions
2 clove garlic
thumb sized piece of ginger

Additional tbsp groundnut oil

Heat the oven grill/broiler to 200°C.
Remove the base of the mushroom stalk. Halve the mushrooms, top to base, and place on tin foil. Place these under the grill for 5 minutes until beginning to brown but do not allow to burn. They give off a lot of water so I’d advise leaving the oven door ajar when you take them out to allow some to evaporate.
Place the mushrooms on a chopping board and use two forks to tear the mushroom into strips as you would pull pork.
Set the mushrooms in a colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to allow some excess liquid to drain.

Set the tea in a small pan and boil for about 3 minutes to begin reducing. Add the soy, sweet chili and mirin and allow to simmer for a further 2 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large wok. Finely slice the ginger, spring onions and garlic and add to the wok. Stir fry these for 30 seconds then add the mushroom. Keep everything moving in the wok as you cook by stirring. Cook the mixture for a further minute then add the tea mix. Cook until the excess liquid has evaporated.

Roll the dough into a 1 inch log and cut them into 1 inch sized cubes. Roll each of these out until they are thin enough that you can see light through them, then use a 8cm diameter cookie cutter to cut into a perfect circle.
Place 1 1/2 tsp filling into the centre of each wrapper and fold the wrappers in half, bringing the edges together, fold into crimps.

Brush with a very fine layer of oil and place in a steamer. Place the steamer over a pan of boiling water for 12 minutes.

Add the additional to a frying pan and heat. Once the gyoza has finished steaming. Place it in the pan and fry for 2 minutes or until the base is crispy.

Foodie Finds: The Hairy Fig

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This week’s foodie find is not simply an item, but a favourite little deli and café of mine. The Hairy Fig is a “purveyor of fine fodder” in York. When I first walked past the windows of the little shop, it took me a moment to realise I was looking into a food shop. It is formed of two sections in adjacent shops. One is a unique delicatessen selling an array of hard-to-find fresh fruit and veg and home-cooked delicacies common in the north: pies, pasties and sausage rolls.IMG_1490The other half is more difficult to identify. At first I thought I’d found myself in a tiny emporium of wonder. In fact, it is a sweet and treat shop cross café. The shop sells tea, coffee and chocolate as well as specialist liquors. It feels as though each time I enter, there is something new on the shelves to greet me.

IMG_1491IMG_1493The tiny café at the back has only four tables. On the way in you pass a coffee table with the day’s selection of cakes. Behind you on the wall, a scattering of chalk boards offers the limited but delicious sounding menu. Visiting with a friend, I ordered a pear, walnut and gorgonzola toasted sandwich, served with salad and sweet tangy chutney.

But perhaps the pride of this little place is the liquorice. Shipped over from Europe and presented in glass jars just like an old-fashioned sweet shop, liquorice is present in shapes and flavours I never even knew existed.

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Today, I made it my mission to try something new so I selected 3 unfamiliar types…

Dutch School Chalk liquorice looks exactly like a piece of white chalk. In fact, the outside it a crisp outer sugar coating. Biting into it, the sweet was softer and chewier than I expected, the inside something like dense marshmallow with a lightly salty, aniseed taste. Surprisingly, it left a fresh feeling in the mouth, almost breath-mint like.DSC_0236

Belgian Liquorice and Ginger was much chewier, like a gummy sweet. It also had a much stronger flavour. Though the liquorice was still there, it has a definite heat from the ginger, reminding me of ginger wine.

By far my favourite was the Citrus liquorice. It had a thick, melting outer layer which reminded me of condensed milk. Inside was a large, dense piece of liquorice. Since the outer is something like a rich, citrus/white chocolate truffle, it sits beautifully with the salty, tangy liquorice, which brings out and compliments the rich sweetness.

Not only will you find unique treats here, but the owners are wonderfully friendly and eager to share their experiences with the curiosities on offer. If you ever find yourself wondering the streets of York, it’s certainly worth a visit.

Time for Tea: Rooibos and chilli chocolate ice cream

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Rooibos/Red Bush tea is a south African herbal tea. It is usually grown in mountainous regions of the Western Cape province. It’s said that traditionally, local people would climb the mountains on donkeys to collect the tea, then bruise the leaves with hammers and leave them to ferment in the sun as is done with black tea. Later, when Dutch settlers arrived in the area, they began to drink it in place of expensive black tea.

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Rooibos and chilli chocolate ice cream

1 rooibos teabag
300 ml semi-skimmed milk
100 g dark chocolate
85 g sugar
3 egg yolks
300 ml whipping cream
1 tsp crushed chilli

Place the milk and teabag in a pan and heat gently for 5 minutes to allow the tea to infuse.

Remove the milk from the heat and take out the teabag. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the still hot milk, swirling until all of the chocolate has melted.

Beat the sugar and egg yolks together in a separate bowl until frothy.

Allow the milk to cool slightly before stirring it in to the egg-sugar mix. Don’t worry if there is chocolate sediment left in the pan. Keep stirring until fully mixed.

Strain the mixture back into the pan and heat gently, stirring all the time. Allow the mixture to thicken until it coats the back of a wooden spoon: about 8 minutes. Once you have reached this point, remove it from the heat and set aside.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, then fold it in to the chocolate mixture.

Place in a freezer safe contain in the freezer. Unless you have a snazzy ice cream maker, you will need to churn it every 1/2-1 hours. Stir it well to break up any ice crystals. You will need to do this for 4-5 hours. Add the crushed chilli about half way through this time. It’s rather a laborious task, but for smooth, creamy ice cream it’s necessary I’m afraid. Believe me though…it’s worth it.


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Foodie Finds: Nuts in honey

Though most of the Greek islands I visited this summer were away from the major tourist destinations, the supermarkets had the usual selection of tourist items. Skimming the postcards, map-shot glasses and cheap jewellery, one thing that did catch my eye were the jars of honey. Several of the islands seemed to sell their own but most beautiful were those jars with chunks of honeycomb, dried fruit, and nuts suspended in the golden liquid.

Just by chance, half a year later I stumbled across similar jars in the international supermarket just down the road from me. More intriguing still were the swirled jars of crushed and coloured nuts in syrup so I finally gave in to temptation and treated myself.

nuts

The ingredients are fructose syrup, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachio, and almonds. On opening the jar, I was a little disappointed to see that only the outside has the beautiful swirled pattern. Inside, it looks a little more like crunchy peanut butter.

DSC_0222Spoon some out and you find it is thick and syrupy. It’s as rich and sweet as you’d expect: tasting just like the inside of a snickers bar. There goes my spreading it, guilt free, on toast for breakfast. It’s closer to caramel sauce than peanut butter. Try it over fruit and yogurt for added sweetness. I can imagine spooning it over pancakes or ice cream. I also want to try mixing it into melted chocolate and leaving to set for a naughty little after dinner treat.

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With a little bit of research, I’ve found the company that makes both this jar and others with beautiful whole nuts and figs. Find them here.

Time for tea: apricot and tamarind Bara Brith

Traditional Welsh Bara brith

In part one, I spoke about the introduction of tea both as a drink, and as a fashion in Britain. It wasn’t just a drink for the upper classes. Tea soon became a staple for the working classes too. But the light afternoon tea was not something that would satisfy the hard-workers at the end of the day. Around six, when workers would arrive home, they needed to refuel with something warm and hearty. This was high tea, named for the high, hard chairs the working classes used. High tea was more like an evening meal. It would often include a hot meal followed by cakes, bread, butter and jam.
This recipe is a traditional Welsh tea time recipe with a few additions. It’s very dense and moist with sweet fruit, tangy, bitter tamarind and earthy wholemeal flour.

Bara Brith

600 ml black tea
200 g dried apricots, roughly halved
100 g dried figs, roughly halved
150 g raisins
1 egg
1 tbsp tamarind paste
50 g caster sugar
400 g wholemeal self-raising flour

Mix the fruit in a large bowl and pour over the tea. Leave this to soak overnight

The next day, preheat your oven to 120 degrees C and line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
Beat egg, sugar and tamarind in a bowl.
To this, add the fruit and flour and combine.
Add the tea and beat to a thick batter. Pour this into the tin and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.

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Foodie finds: Golden plum candy

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I love cooking and part of the thrill is coming across something new. I get such a thrill from wandering aimlessly around unusual food shops, independent delis and international supermarkets. Dun dun DUNDUN, I am introducing Foodie Finds: my adventures in food.

I am lucky enough to have an awesome oriental supermarket just down the road and it was here I came across my first Foodie find: Golden Plum Candy.

DSC_0186These are beautiful, if somewhat odd-looking sweets: Individually wrapped hemi-spheres of beautifully golden caramel. Suspended within is a dried plum. I placed one on my tongue and was immediately amazed. The caramel is intensely, meltingly sweet, inside, the plum is tangy and salty. The combination is wonderful, though the hard pip of the plum was something of a surprise in the centre. I’ve never come across anything quite like these! They are definitely one to try. You can buy them online here!

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