Recipe: Seasonal Green Vegetable Tart

A few weeks ago a colleague in the office stopped me and asked why I always make my own lunch. This turned into a conversation about how we (as in my husband and I) cook from scratch 99.5% of the time we eat at home, and rarely eat out midweek. Said colleague eats a home cooked meal maybe once a week.

 photo Green Vegetable Tart_zpsewzsyk9m.jpgAnd this made me sad – because for me there is so much joy in both cooking and eating.

In a similar vein, I had a week at work before our holiday where I was just super busy. Working late, but also several evening events. It meant that I didn’t eat at home for 6 nights in a row, and it definitely had a poor impact on my mental health. I was grumpy, I wasn’t sleeping, and I wasn’t finding the time to switch off. I was also spotty, headachey and with a bad stomach due to too much pub food.

Basically, cooking from scratch is 100% necessary for me to function both mentally and physically.

 photo Green Vegetable Tart  5_zpspwcqv2m1.jpg photo Green Vegetable Tart  3_zps62bxym19.jpg photo Green Vegetable Tart  2_zps98xufsu4.jpgAnd this recipe actually really sums that up – making it made me so happy! Taking some beautifully fresh veggies and fancy-ish cheese, then a fairly quick throw together and let then oven take care of it. The result is comforting, but also so full of veg. It feels light, particularly when eating with the herb salsa, but it’s more than filling enough to have without anything else. A definite favourite, making the most of some of this season’s finest British produce.

Inspired by a Waitrose recipe, the finished version of mine was a tad messy but just as delicious!

Recipe (serves 2 for dinner with a side salad)

  • ½ pack puff pastry (we used half of a 320g pack, ready rolled)
  • 1 tbsp milk, for brushing
  • 150g Swiss chard, stalks and leaves separated
  • 75g taleggio cheese, rind removed, sliced
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 150g asparagus, woody ends removed
  • For the salsa: ½ small pack parsley, 1 garlic clove, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp grated parmesan

Unroll the pastry, lay on a baking tray and, using a sharp knife, score a border about 1cm in from the edge, taking care not to cut all the way through. Prick the central area with a fork and glaze the border with the milk. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes whilst you prep the veg.

Boil the chard stalks for 1 minute, then add the leaves before draining immediately and rinsing in cold water. Dry on a piece of kitchen towel to ensure excess water is removed. Once the pastry is ready, layer the chard, taleggio, frozen peas and asparagus over the centre. Sprinkle over 1 tbsp water, brush a little more milk around the edges, then bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tart is crisp and golden.

To make the salsa, finely chop the parsley leaves and crush the garlic clove. Mix with the olive oil and grated parmesan. Serve the tart drizzled with the salsa, and alongside a simple side salad for some extra greens. It also goes perfectly with a glass of chilled white!
 photo Green Vegetable Tart  4_zpsgqcslpik.jpg

What makes you love cooking?

The London Diaries: A Riverside Spot

Living in London has introduced me to both a love and hate of the Thames. Love in that its pretty, there’s a buzzy atmosphere almost all the time, and it’s somehow peaceful anywhere along the river. Hate in that I often have to locate a bridge in order to get where I need to be.

 photo Picnic at the Tower 34_zpstgwmlo3c.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 7_zps6ssqddob.jpgHowever one time that I always have love for the Thames is in the evening. It’s both an oasis of calm and a hive of activity at the same time, and of course highly instagrammable. And what better way to enjoy an evening that a Riverside picnic of Pimms and Pastries (and sandwiches too, because carbs)…

Guoman Hotels invited a group of bloggers to enjoy a summer picnic on their new ‘lawn’ – an area of grass along the riverbank complete with pop-up bar and giant lawn games. We were greeted with plenty of Pimms, and I settled down to have a chat with some lovely ladies.

 photo Picnic at the Tower 12_zpsnwkegv6s.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 20_zpshcuvovcb.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 23_zpsjcznqthb.jpgDinner was served in little lunchboxes, the blogger in me slightly disappointed at lack of wicker hamper. A selection of sandwiches were yummy – though the Ham & Mustard was inedible sweet. Some non-white bread varieties would have been a perfect addition perhaps…

The second box contained a selection of pastries, along with obligatory scone. And yes, I did sit and pick the fruit out of my scones.

 photo Picnic at the Tower 29_zpswb59yv14.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 25_zpsomjxkamg.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 27_zpsmeowzdav.jpgWine followed the Pimms, and we laughed and chatted and giggled as the sun set over the Thames. A few rounds of Jenga were played, many photos were taken. Including a variety of accidental ones from me, damn touch-screen shutter!

The Lawn is a pop-up bar area, a unique setting that can be enjoyed by all. You definitely wouldn’t think you were a short walk away from the giant office blocks of the City! I’m not sure when the Lawn closes but if you fancy a leisurely riverside drink then I’d get yourself there sharpish.

 photo Picnic at the Tower 8_zpsbvruyafl.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 9_zpsfljx6sod.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 32_zpsu95jq6xe.jpgAnd with nearby views like this, why wouldn’t you?!

Where’s your favourite spot in London? I only have a few weeks left living here so please send over any must-visit recommendations!

Recipe: Chorizo & Red Pepper Quick-Quiche

I had a craving for a quiche a few weeks back, which considering I’ve never really eaten it was pretty odd. With some filo pastry needing to be used up and plenty of eggs, I took one look at the price of ready-made quiche and promptly set about creating a recipe. I used this one for inspiration, but pretty much made it up as I went along…with damn tasty results!

Chorizo and Feta Quiche3 photo d21936c6-8d64-41a4-9192-94f563d833f3_zpsgxnio0je.jpgThis was great warm for a light dinner, but then kept beautifully in the fridge for packed lunches over the following days. The pastry wasn’t as crisp but it made a change from my usual sandwiches or soup. The chorzo keeps this interesting, the feta adding creaminess, and the red peppers just break it all up to stop it being too rich. Definitely my perfect quiche.

Chorizo and Feta Quiche5 photo 30aedd8a-940e-4416-80c7-00814dbc8e8d_zpsnxsurlif.jpgIngredients

  • Half a pack of filo pastry (six sheets)
  • 1 tub of low fat cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Around 100g of chorizo, chopped
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • A handful of feta cheese

Fry the chorizo over a low heat, in a dry pan. Drain onto a piece of kitchen towel to remove excess oil, and mix with the pepper.

Make the pastry case. I didn’t realise how much oil is needed to cook filo pastry – this is by no means a low fat recipe! Brush a sandwich tin with oil, place in a filo sheet. Brush with oil, add another sheet, repeat until done. Scrunch the edges in to make the sides thicker.

Chorizo and Feta Quiche6 photo 3e245e01-ee87-4dae-95b3-d4ce87bd9676_zps6ngntsxh.jpgBeat the cream cheese in a large bowl, then beat in the eggs. Season, before stirring through the chorizo, pepper and half of the feta. Pour into the pastry case, top with remaining feta and bake at 180C for around 25 minutes – until the top is set and golden. Let cool slightly before slicing.

Chorizo and Feta Quiche4 photo ca804655-98af-4f1d-908f-9849f5030d6c_zpshlrnpdbt.jpgI found this perfect served with a simple green salad dressed with lemon juice, and sprinkled with a few seeds for added crunch. It would be perfect for a picnic or party too – and I’m tempted to use the filling recipe to make a crustless breakfast version. Yum!
Chorizo and Feta Quiche2 photo d1bd9369-9e48-414e-972f-2f8dc0433d73_zpsk912t6ga.jpg

What’s your favourite picnic food?

Weekend Antics #1

 photo 2014-03-16150744_zpsd3115368.jpgI feel so bad about posting this weekend – it became clear on Friday that I wouldn’t have time to blog (I like to keep weekend’s schedule-post free – I like a bit of spontaneity in my life!) and I don’t really like to send out a quick post just for the sake of it. Instead today I will make my excuses, and show you why I didn’t get chance to post.

Luckily my busy-ness wasn’t just down to the mountain of work I have at the moment (currently have three assignments on the go, and a three-hour ‘class test’ to revise for, and I’m expecting more coursework to be added on any day now), but because I decided to treat myself to a relatively relaxing weekend.

It was a ‘boyfriend’ weekend – as one half of a long-distance couples I see my boyfriend once a fortnight – and instead of trying to do work and getting annoyed/snappy when I couldn’t concentrate, I instead gave myself pretty much the whole weekend off. It was lovely to relax and not think about my ever growing to-do list!

 photo 2014-03-15103235_zpsad5d5805.jpgI took advantage of our lovely local butchers and bought some black pudding, which we used to make a lovely try up. I have a little leftover which I’m trying to decide what to do with – I’m torn between fritters, or adding to a carbonara!

 photo 2014-03-15105150_zps900146c8.jpgWe also took advantage of the lovely weather – I cooked some part-baked rolls and grabbed a pack of salami, and we headed out for a picnic.

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 photo 2014-03-16140944_zps3656ae74.jpgDespite being at my house, my boyfriend treated me to a lovely home-cooked meal (he did most of it whilst I was showering – I was impressed!). He made Swedish meatballs, and they were amazing. I’m going to adapt the recipe for my usual lower budget and post up soon!

 photo 2014-03-15183941_zpsfdce6b56.jpgI made the mistake of planning to cook stew (yep, on the hottest weekend of the year…), but despite it being far too warm for it, it was a damn good stew!

 photo 2014-03-13194754_zps7cca1226.jpgI also made one of my favourite cakes – caramel, chocolate and peanut butter sponge. I’ll definitely post about this soon!

 photo 2014-03-16162552_zps90534215.jpgI even got ‘proposed to’ with a hula hoop…who said students aren’t romantic?!

Sorry again for the lack of posts! What did you get up to this weekend?