Sunday, 29 January 2017

#2poundchallenge with Zamcog and Voucherbox.


Zamcog is a charity that helps Zambia's most at risk children. At the Shitima School in Zambia the charity use the money raised to educate the children and provide them with food and water to improve their lives. Voucherbox.co.uk have teamed with Julie-Anne Uggla, founder of Zamcog to bring awareness about this charity. They are doing this by presenting the £2.00 challenge. It costs £2.00 to educate and feed one child per day in Zambia, as part of this challenge I had to feed a family of 4 for one day using a budget of £2.00 per head.


When I first thought about the challenge, it made me think that it would be impossible to serve a healthy meal within this budget. However with careful planning, I have managed to come up with a balanced meal plan for my family making sure the meals were filling and nutritious so that they did not feel hungry.
With my meal plan all set, I went shopping with my £8.00 and no other money, it was rather challenging to be strict with the ingredients and not to do impulse buys. I had to search the supermarket for the ingredients that offered best value with out compromising on taste. The budget of two pounds per head meant that there was no option to purchase any treats or fruits for snacks in between meals.

It was really difficult to change the way I shop by limiting my purchases and buying single items as normally I buy in bulk all my fruits and vegetables in packs.Taking part in this challenge has certainly opened my eyes and reminded me of how much surplus foods we buy and incidentally waste. Next time I go to the supermarket I will most certainly put more thought into what goes in my shopping basket.

Our meal plan for the day was:

Breakfast 
Tea, toast with sunflower spread and a choice of either boiled /scrambled eggs or french toast (eggy bread).

Lunch 
Greek Feta Salad  made with cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onion, lettuce and feta cheese tossed with a dash of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and oregano. To make the lunch more filling I served it with slices of bread and sunflower spread and a couple of boiled eggs left over from breakfast.


Dinner 

Arabbiatta  pasta  with a side salad. I made the Arabbiatta  sauce with the onion, peppers, passata, salt, chilli flakes, oregano and a dash of olive oil. I stirred the sauce into cooked penne pasta  and served it with a side salad of grated carrots, cucumber, lettuce and peppers which were left over from making the salad at lunch time. 


Our total shopping bill came to £7.97. I did make use staple store cupboard ingredients such as olive oil, chilli flakes,salt and black pepper as I only needed a tiny bit of each.The challenge was very difficult and it really opened our eyes, making us realise how difficult it can be to live on a budget and do away with indulgent treats and luxuries that we all take for granted.

10 Teabags
 £       0.20
6 Free range eggs
 £       0.89
1 Pint Milk 
 £       0.45
Sunflower Spread
 £       1.00
1 loaf Wholemeal Bread
 £       0.50
Feta cheese
 £       1.20
1 Iceberg Lettuce
 £       0.50
1 Cucumber
 £       0.28
Cherry tomatoes
 £       0.53
Mixed Peppers pack of 3
 £       0.89
1 pack of Carrots 
 £       0.45
Penne pasta 500g
 £       0.30
Passata 500g
 £       0.35
2 Onions 
 £       0.28
1emon  £       0.15
Total
 £       7.97

I am happy to say Voucherbox.co.uk will donate £50 to Zamcog to help the charity continue their goal for each person that takes on this challenge. If you too would like to take part in this challenge you can read more about it here

I am going to nominate my friend Mina Joshi who blogs at Give me some spice to rise to the challenge.

**This post is in collaboration with voucherbox.co.uk

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes






I do like a cake every now and then with my cup of coffee, however I am not too fond of buttercream and fondant icing on the cake. I am a plain cake person with just good flavour and no topping. I love chocolate cakes and this vegan recipe with no eggs or butter is so delicious that it is one of my most favourite recipes. It is also very easy to adapt the recipe if you want to add other flavours in cake.



print recipe

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes
Moist and deliciously chocolatey cupcakes, that are egg and dairy free.


Ingredients:


     Dry Ingredients:
  • 1.5 cups Plain Flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup Milk chocolate chips 
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/3 cup Sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C 2. Line a muffin pan with cake cases.3.  In a large bowl sieve the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda three times to get lots of air in the mixture.4. Stir in the sugar.5. In a jug add the water ,oil, vinegar and vanilla essence and whisk together.6. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry and do not over mix, you want to keep the mixture as light as possible. Stir in the chocolate chips. 7.  Spoon the mixture into the cake cases and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean. Once baked remove tray from oven and wait for the cakes to cool. At this stage you can swirl butter cream on the top if desired.
Details
Prep time: Baking time: Total time: Yield: 16 cupcakes depending on size of cake cases.




For other eggless recipes do check out the posts for more cake ideas here.

Giveaway ~ OXO Bakeware set RRP £78.00

I love cooking with seasonal vegetables and one of my favourite way to cook them is to oven roast the vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil, herbs, garlic and spices. I usually roast a batch and then we use them in soups, wraps, curries, stir fries and even pulse them to make dips.
Some of my favourite dishes made from roasted vegetables are:

Roasted vegetable wraps
Roasted mediterranean vegetable tart
Spicy roasted cauliflower
Couscous filled baked tomatoes
Roasted tomato and basil soup
Paneer and vegetable skewers.





I have found that to get an even roast it is important to cut the vegetables in even sizes. The second most important thing is to use good quality roasting pans that don't buckle under the oven temperatures. I find my favourite roasting and baking  pans are made by OXO.








The OXO bakeware is Swiss-engineered and made from commercial grade heavy gauge
aluminised steel.The bake ware features a ceramicrein forced
non-stick coating  and boasts a micro textured cooking surface which ensures even
heat distribution putting an end to soggy bottoms for good.The tins have straight walls and square-rolled edges of each tin provides a secure grip for easy handling to and from the oven.
There are many other items in this range including square and round cake tins,muffin pans,loaf tins, baking tray and sandwich tins. The OXO range is available from all good kitchen stockists and also online.

**I was sent a set of OXO bake ware to use in my kitchen, all views and opinions expressed in this post are of my own experience of the bake ware.

I really enjoy baking  in my OXO bakeware as I get perfect results every time. As always I like my readers to try things that I use in my kitchen. OXO have been very generous and they have agreed to send one simplyfood reader a set of bake ware  consisting of:

1 Non-stick OXO small roasting tin: RRP £25
1 Non-stick OXO large roasting tin: RRP £28
1 Non-stick OXO baking sheet: RRP £25


How To Enter:
  •         Simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below to verify your entries
  •         Entries can be via blog comment, Facebook, Twitter etc
  •         Please read the rules they form the terms and conditions of this Giveaway
  •         Closing date – 28th Feb 12.00 am
  •         Entries open to over 18 years old and UK residents only

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  • You will need to complete the mandatory entry first – usually making a blog comment. You can do this by clicking on leave a comment at the bottom of the post and leaving your reply in the comment box. Please note your comment will not show immediately as it needs to be moderated however rest assured it will appear on the site, so carry on with rest of entries.
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  •  Go back to Rafflecopter and click the green button to tell me you have made a comment, this will unlock all the other options. All entries are checked to see that the mandatory question is answered, if its not all bonus entries will become void. 
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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Potaje de Berros ~Watercress Soup


We love the Canary Islands and have visited all of them on many occasions. The climate, terrain and the food is something we really enjoy and this is the reason we return year after year. Last year we booked through Monarch for our holiday to Tenerife. We stayed in self catering apartments as this gives us lots of flexibility and we can hire a car and drive around the island with its lovely coastline and mountain range. We enjoy stopping by at the local villages and farmers markets to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and also home made bread. The fruit and vegetables are always available in abundance and they look so natural and taste delicious.




Eating out and discovering local cuisine is also fun to do on holidays and our mission has been to find as many Canarian dishes  that we can that are suitable for vegetarians. Over the years we have discovered many dishes that we enjoy such as  Caldo de Papas y Cilantro (Potato and coriander soup), Mojo Verde (Green Mojo), Mojo Picon (spicy sauce),  Papas Arrugadas (wrinkled potatoe)s and Platanos Fritas (fried bananas).

On our recent visit, one of the restaurants we regularly visited was well known for their most amazing watercress soup known as Potaje be Berros. Unfortunately the soup on the menu was actually made with pig ribs which was not suitable for vegetarians, however after chatting to the owner he created a vegetarian version for us and it tasted amazing.

Its admirable that restaurant owners are very accommodating and more than willing to rustle up vegetarian dishes even if they are not on the menu. We enjoy chatting to the chefs and I have come away with some great recipes from my visits, especially an authentic Canarian family recipe for the Mojo Pican.


I was so impressed with the soup that I have recreated my own vegetarian version of Potaje de Berros- Water cress soup. The soup is very chunky more like a stew than soup and it tastes absolutely delicious.


print recipe

Potaje de Berros ~Watercress Soup
Hearty  and rustic soup with beans and vegetables nad peppery watercress.





Ingredients:
  • 1 Medium sweet potato diced
  • 1 Corn on the cob cut into 1 inch rounds
  • 4 Medium tomatoes finely chopped.
  • 1 Green pepper finely chopped
  • 300 g fresh watercress stalks removed and roughly torn
  • 1 Red onion finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 250 g precooked flageolet beans (white beans)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Few strands of saffron
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1000 ml water 

Method:
1. In a large saucepan add the olive oil and wait for it to heat up, then add the garlic and onions and saute until translucent. 2. Add the chopped tomatoes and the diced potatoes and sweet corn and add the water. Cook the corn and sweet potatoes until almost 75 percent cooked (approx 10 mins) 3. Add to the pan, the green pepper, precooked flageolet beans, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and simmer the soup for 5 more minutes until the potatoes and corn are fully cooked. 4. At the last minute stir in the water cress and just cook for 1 more minute until the leaves wilt. 5. Stir in the saffron and spoon the soup into serving bowls and serve with hot seeded bread. 
Details
Prep time: Cooking time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings




This post is a contribution to the Monarch Island Cookbook in collaboration with Monarch 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Giveaway Food Photography Book by Corinna Gisseman


When I started blogging about 7 years ago I had no idea of food photography. The blog was just an online space to share recipes with my family and friends. It was only after a few months of blogging and after attending a bloggers event that my interest in food photography ignited and I made the decision to self teach photography by reading books and following on line videos. After all food is a very visual, when you see a plate of food it needs to look inviting, you should be able to taste, smell and want to devour it by just looking at it. To recreate this visual impact its important to plate the food in an appealing way, taking care of portion size, colours textures and styling and presenting it in the most mouth watering and appealing way. For example, looking at the collage below, do you get the urge to want to pick up a chocolate ball and take a bite, dig into the bowl of pasta or dip the churrous into sauce and devour it???  That is what food photography is all about, to visually entice and tickle your taste buds.



I used to shot with point and shoot camera and later on I invested in my first DSLR camera. I followed many tutorials and spent many hours researching and learning how to style, shoot, use my camera and take good pictures. A lot of books I found were too technical and I was continuously looking for a book that was easy to read, had simple instructions and covered a range of photography techniques from using the camera on manual settings, styling, setting up a shoot, editing and creating a perfect food photo. My search finally lead me to a brilliant book "Food Photography" by Corinna Gisseman. Corinna is a food photographer and you can see some of her amazing work at corinnagissemann.de . I can't brag enough about the book I absolutely love it.
You can read all about my review of it below.




Food Photography by Corinna Gissemann is a wonderful book. It is the perfect beginners guide to create beautiful food photography. The book has 11 chapters covering all aspects of photography.

Chapter one gives advise about the gear you would need such as  lenses, tripods, memory cards, hard drives, tripods, artificial light sources and white balancing. This chapter is really useful and the advise given is really helpful for someone starting out in food photography.

Chapter two covers the basics of the camera such ad setting the aperture, setting the exposure time, ISO sensitivity and how the three work together.

Chapter three covers different types of lighting and the different ways you can use it in food photography.

Chapter four is a really useful chapter, here you can learn all about the different angles of photography,framing, rules of thirds, composing colours with the use of a colour wheel. This chapter also has some great tips on capturing the mood  and creating depth of focus in the food photos.

Chapter five covers styling, this is the most useful chapter and the author shares so many really useful tips and tricks.

Chapter 6  this is by far the most useful chapter . In this chapter the author shows you step by step techniques on setting up a photo shoot and styling five different set ups from start to finish. It is really detailed and clearly presented.

Chapter 7 is all about  image processing in lightroom, a great tutorial in how to edit the photos.

Chapter 8 this covers useful tips and tricks and cheats to keep the food looking perfect in your shoots.

Chapter 9 is all about home made props for the photo shoots. A lovely chapter that covers some great ideas on using household  products to create great food props.

 Chapter 10 and 11 are about boosting your creativity and finally putting everything into practice that is covered in the book.

I have found this book really useful, it is written, keeping in mind a complete beginner tackling food photography but it still covers topics for an advance photographer.

Do you like taking photos of your food? Are you one of those people who won't allow anyone to disturb the food until you have clicked some picture?? Have you had any embarrassing situations whilst taking food photos??? Do share your anecdotes in the comments below about photographing food.I would love to read all about them.

Book Details: 
Food Photography by Corinna Gissemann
Publisher rockynook
ISBN 978-1-68198-101-7
I was sent a copy of the book to review as always all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

You can check out more details of the book and where to purchase it here. I am really excited that I have a copy of the book to giveaway to one simplyfood reader.

How To Enter:
  • Simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below to verify your entries
  • Entries can be via blog comment, Facebook, Twitter etc
  • Competition ends 3rd February 2017 12.00 am
  • This giveaway is open to all readers over 18 who live in the UK,
  • The winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter (which uses random.org) and announced on this page. 
  • Prize: Giveaway Food Photography Book by Corinna Gisseman

All entries will be verified, failure to follow instructions correctly will result in participants being disqualified. Please do not cheat.

How Rafflecopter works:

  • You will need to complete the mandatory entry first – usually making a blog comment. You can do this by clicking on leave a comment at the bottom of the post and leaving your reply in the comment box. Please note your comment will not show immediately as it needs to be moderated however rest assured it will appear on the site, so carry on with rest of entries.
  • Login to Rafflecopter – click to see what the question is. Make a comment answering the question on the blog.
  •  Go back to Rafflecopter and click the green button to tell me you have made a comment, this will unlock all the other options. All entries are checked to see that the mandatory question is answered, if its not all bonus entries will become void. 
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