We all feel like we should eat a little bit lighter after Christmas but on cold, grey, dreary winter days it’s hard for me to get excited about a bowl of salad.
I need bright colours, bags of flavour and preferably a bit of spice to warm me up from the inside!
I know a lot of people who struggle to get on board with eating tofu. I think it’s because they view it just as a meat substiute. I just view it as a protein source. I know that the flavour can take a little getting used to and that it needs a little help in that department, but that’s also why it works so well in spicy dishes.
These little crispy patties, topped with colourful, chunky salsa certainly remind me that, one day, there will be warm sunny days again!
450g block of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
3 spring onions
handful of coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch each of ground cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper
1 tsp chipotle paste
squeeze of lime juice
chili sauce to taste
3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp sweetcorn
1 small ripe avocado
handful of cherry tomatos
handul of coriander
lime juice, salt and pepper to taste
little gem lettuce leaves to serve
Mash up the tofu with your hands in a large mixing bowl. Make sure that there are no large lumps in it. Slice the spring onions and chop the coriander. Add these to the mixing bowl and mix them through with a fork. Add everything else but the panko and mix these through too, making sure that they are well distributed through the tofu. Finally add the panko and mix the whole lot. Let this sit whilst you make the salsa.
Dice the tomatoes and roughly chop the coriander and chili . Mix these with the sweetcorn, lime juice, salt and pepper. Peel and pit the avocado and dice this so that it’s a similar size to the tomatoes. Toss this in with the other ingredients.
Shape the tofu mixture into little patties, a heaped tablespoon is about the right amount. Fry these over a medium heat in a lightly oiled frying pan until the outsides are golden and crisp.
Serve the patties on the lettuce leaves with a sprinkling of the salsa and perhaps an extra drop or two of hot sauce.
Cornbread has become increasing popular in the Colonial Cravings household of late. But we’re not content to settle for standard, plain old, run-of-the-mill, common or garden varieties here. No, we like to (and actively encourage you to) play with our food here.
So this one got a makeover with the help of some jammy, sweet, roasted mini tomatoes and savoury fresh thyme. And it was scrummy! It’s like a savoury upside-down cake (secretly we all want cake for dinner) with fluffy, moist cornbread and lots of concentrated sweet tomato flavour.
makes 10 slices
185g ish of small tomatoes
handful of thyme sprigs
85g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for roasting the tomatoes)
Pre-heat your oven to 220°c.
Cut the tomatoes in half and toss them with the thyme in a little olive oil, salt and pepper in whichever tin you want to bake your cornbread in. Pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes (depending on how big they are) until they start to become soft and nicely roasted.
In a decent sized mixing bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients, so that they are really well combined and there are no lumps.
In another bowl or jug whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and olive oil. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in about half of the wet mixture. Stir it together so that it is loosely combined and then incorporate the rest of the liquid.
Use a spoon to gently arrange the tomatoes in the tin so that they will look pretty when you flip the corn bread over and then pour the batter evenly over them. Pop the tin back in the oven and bake it for about 20 minutes.
Allow the cornbread to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, run a knife around the edge of it and place a serving plate over the top. Invert the plate and you should (hopefully) be able to lift off the tin to reveal the tomatoes. Serve whilst it’s still warm.
Mr Colonial Cravings is a sucker for an eggy breakfast and he’s particularly partial to any that involve rich sticky, runny yolks. Add to that some jammy roasted tomatoes and creamy avocado and you’ve got a winner as far as he’s concerned. I on the other hand can’t bear eggs that haven’t had the life beaten out of them so this recipe is all for him. That also means that he was chief taste tester on this one but he assures me that it was yummy! If you’re having a particularly lazy day then you could do a lot worse than to kick it off with this…
handful of cherry tomatoes
salt, pepper, chili and olive oil to season.
Pre-heat your oven to 200°c.
Cut the tomatoes in half and toss them in a tiny bit of olive oil along with chili flakes and sea salt. Pop them in a small oven-proof dish and bake them for around five minutes.
Meanwhile, halve, peel and pit the avocado. If the cavity left by the stone isn’t very large use a teaspoon to hollow it out a bit more, remember you need to fit an egg in there.
Once the tomatoes have had their head start on roasting, remove them from the oven and place the avocado in the middle of them cut side up. Try to use the tomatoes to support the avocado a bit and then crack the egg in the hollow where the stone was. Sprinkle with a little black pepper and then bake for about 15 minutes, or until the egg is done to your liking. Serve with lots of hot, buttered toast for dunking in the egg yolk and smearing with creamy avocado.
Do you ever make something and then think “Why haven’t I been making this all my life…?”
Well that’s how I feel about these.
The bread is so deliciously soft and fluffy and the fillings are rich and flavourful and so easy to tailor to your own tastes. Absolutely yummy both hot and cold, these are just great for picnics or parties, they’re so perfectly portable and shareable (although once you’ve tasted them you might not want to share them).
They’re basically the same as my savoury Chelsea buns but with a lot more going on inside. The only other slight change that I made was to switch the butter in the dough to olive oil, just for flavour really.
You can fill these with pretty much anything you like. I avoid anything that will make the buns soggy though like fresh mozzarella or large tomatoes. You do need to cut the fillings into fairly small pieces so that you can roll the buns up easily. Pesto (any variety) makes a really nice base if you want something a bit different.
makes about 16
230g strong white bread flour
7g yeast (1 sachet)
1 tsp sugar
big pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil
125ml warm milk
3-4 tbsp tomato paste/pesto
handful of sliced cherry tomatoes
handful chopped olives
1 tbsp fresh chopped herbs
Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Using a separate bowl or jug, whisk together the warmed milk, oil and egg. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in about half of the liquid. Stir together using a butter knife. Gradually incorporate the remaining liquid (you may not need all of it) until you have a soft dough. Pop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about five minutes. It should lose any stickiness that it might have had and become soft, smooth and springy.
Wash and dry your mixing bowl to make it nice and warm and lightly oil it. Put the dough in the bowl and cover it with a piece of oiled cling film. Put the dough in a nice warm spot and leave it to rise until it has doubled in size, this should take about an hour.
Once the dough is ready carefully lift it out of the bowl and knead it for a minute or two. Oil your work surface, or a large chopping board and roll out the dough into a rectangle. Try to persuade it to be as big as possible so that you can maximise your surface area. You need to have the long edge of the rectangle facing you.
Spread the entire surface (right up to the edges) with the tomato puree or pesto and then evenly scatter on your other chosen fillings, finishing with the cheese.
Roll the dough up, starting with the edge nearest you and rolling it away. Cut the roll of dough into even-sized pieces, I usually make mine about an inch wide, and arrange them in a greased cake tin. Cover this again with cling film and put it back in its warm place to rise for a second time. Whilst this happens you can pre-heat your oven to 190°c.
Once this second rise is complete, uncover the tin and bake the buns for 30 minutes. They should be wonderfully golden brown once they are baked and they’ll smell delicious. Leave them to cool in the tin on a wire rack for five minutes before turning them out.
Who say’s muffins have to be a sweet treat loaded with sugar? These are packed with yummy veg and tangy cheese and are great at any time of day. They make a great brunch addition, grab and go breakfast or a portable lunch. These will probably become a bit of a breakfast staple for us at times when our American exploring warrants disgustingly early starts in the morning.
You can be pretty loose with all of the amounts for the veggies, if you don’t like olives then leave them out, if you love sun-dried tomatoes stick more of them in, it doesn’t really matter. If you do lose the olives then you might want to add a touch of salt or use parmesan cheese, I didn’t include it because I find that olives are quite salty anyway. The only one that you really have to stick with is the courgette (it keeps them nice and moist) but you can pick and choose any of the others that you like.
1/4 red pepper
1 small courgette
30g mixed olives
35g sun-dried tomatoes
150g plain flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp chopped fresh mixed herbs (I used parsley, oregano and thyme)
50g grated strong cheese
40g butter, melted
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c and line a 12 hole muffin tin with wrappers.
Dice the onion and pepper into fairly small pieces and gently sauté them in a little olive oil or butter. Grate the courgette and roughly chop the olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, herbs and pepper in a large mixing bowl. In a separate jug whisk the buttermilk, egg and butter together.
Mix about 2/3 of the grated cheese with the flour, making sure that it is well-distributed, before stirring through the prepared vegetables. Make a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir the batter together 3-4 times, don’t over mix, it should be just combined.
Spoon this batter into the muffin cases and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Bake for 35 minutes (or there abouts) until they have risen and browned on top.
Enjoy hot or cold!
These will also freeze quite well.
We’ve tried to make the most of our time living on this side of the pond and so we’ve been on a lot of road trips (I love a good road trip.) It’s become a bit of a tradition that if we have a full day of driving ahead of us we like to get off to a good start by filling up with breakfast at a Waffle House. Waffle House is a bit difficult to explain if you’re British, it’s a bit like a Little Chef crossed with a greasy spoon garnished with a lot of American character. The first one we went to was in North Carolina and the lovely woman who served us behind the counter called me ‘Baby-Girl’ every time that she spoke to me!
Obviously American breakfasts are pretty meat-centric (which I’m not) so if I don’t want syrup drenched pancakes or waffles then hash browns are my best breakfast option. I love the way that you order hash browns at a Waffle House, it’s almost like a secret code. Smothered, covered, capped – it all makes perfect sense to the guy at the griddle!
The secret to getting really crispy hash browns is to get rid of as much moisture as possible from the spuds. If you have a microwave then the ideal thing is to give them a blast for a couple of minutes to get the starches working.
No quantities here, you know better than I how hungry you are as well as how spicy/cheesy/savoury you want them to be.
oil for frying
anything else you want to add
Coarsely grate the potato, put it into a clean tea towel and wring out as much moisture as possible. Put the potato in a microwave proof dish and nuke it for a couple of minutes.
Slice the onion and fry it in little oil, preferably in a non-stick heavy-based frying pan. I like mine to be really caramelised but it’s really up to you. Dice the tomatoes and chop the jalapeno before adding them to the pan too (add any other bids and bobs, apart from cheese, that you like now too.)
Put the potato in the pan, season it and toss everything together. Use a spatula to press it together a bit and then let it brown in the pan. Turn the hash brown every few minutes so that it gets nice and crispy on all sides.
Sprinkle the cheese over the top and allow it to melt, you can place it under the grill if it needs a helping hand.
Serve immediately so that it is still crispy and gooey. An amazing way to start the day. In the words of Ron Swanson “there has never been a sadness that cannot be cured by breakfast foods.”
Avocados are just marvellous aren’t they?! They’re packed with things that can do you all sorts of favours. They help fend off LDL cholesterol, they’re packed with vitamin E to help protect your skin and even contain carotenoids that may act as an anti-inflammatory. All that and they taste pretty god too. Magic food if you ask me.
I recently read that combining avocado with tomato is especially beneficial as the fats in the avocado dramatically increase the amount of antioxidants that your body absorbs from the tomatoes. I’ve made this dish before but hadn’t previously added the tomatoes to it. I’m really glad that I did, it’s really yummy!
150g cherry or baby plum tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 ripe avocado
juice 1/2 lemon
1 small clove garlic
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs ( I used parsley and oregano but basil is also very good)
2 tbsp grated parmesan
more black pepper
enough pasta for two people (I used whole wheat thin spaghetti)
Pre-heat the oven to 190°c. Halve the tomatoes and toss them in a baking dish/tin with the oil, vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Roast these in the oven for around 30 minutes, stirring them occasionally.
Put the pasta on to cook as you would normally, so that it will be ready at around the same time as the tomatoes. Crush the garlic and mix it with the avocado and the remaining ingredients whilst the pasta cooks. You can do this in a food processor or, if your avocado is really ripe then you can just mash it all together. Keep back some cheese for the top. If you think that it may be a bit too thick then add a little drizzle of olive oil.
Once the pasta and tomatoes are cooked simply toss it all together and serve, topped with a sprinkling of parmesan and a twist of black pepper. Simple and delicious.