Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Chocolate Chai Masala Fairy Cakes – The Great Chocolate Bake

5 Star, Cupcakes, Tea | 6th October 2013 | By

Despite many attempts to oust it in popularity, it seems the cupcake is here to stay. To celebrate its Fine Cooks’ chocolate range, Dr Oetker have issued a new cupcake challenge – The Great Chocolate Bake. Apart from the fun to be had in creating your own cupcake design, there is quite an incentive to win. The prize is a trip to the home of the cupcake itself, New York. You have until the 17th of October to make some sort of chocolate cupcake and enter it on the Dr Oetker Facebook page by submitting a photograph of your masterpiece.

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Granny’s Shepherd’s Pie

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

If ever anyone asks me what my favourite dish is, I am most likely to say Granny’s shepherd’s pie. This, a true British dish, has become a legend in our family and often comes up in conversation at family get togethers. It’s been many years now since I’ve eaten it; my grandmother is no longer alive and I’ve been a vegetarian for the last twenty years or so. I don’t even know how she made it, except for one thing, Granny always added baked beans to her pies. This is the legacy she has left, so although I make my shepherd’s pie with lentils rather than lamb and tend to use whatever vegetables I have to hand, I always add baked beans.

I’ve not made a shepherd’s pie for quite a while as it is not a spring or summer dish; now autumn is upon us, it feels like the right sort of time for something warm, comforting and bathed in nostalgia. As it is now British Food Fortnight which celebrates the glory of good British food and runs from 21 September to 6 October this year, I give you my take on Granny’s Shepherd’s Pie. My magic ingredient is … chocolate.

OXO Good Grips

As always, it’s good to get tooled up for the job. Our tin opener has been faltering of late and I have never had a decent sized serving spoon. Luckily, OXO have come to the rescue – just in time to make this dish. The OXO Good Grips range of utensils are specifically designed for comfort and ease of use. I needed the tin opener for the baked beans. What a joy to open the tin without a hitch. It was easy to use and to quote OXO has “an oversized knob” which does indeed turn with little effort. The handles have a particularly comfortable grip too. The large spoon was perfect for scooping out a whole portion intact and it dished up the pie beautifully. The stainless steel makes it particularly durable and again the handle is very comfortable. Both implements are sturdy and stylish and are welcome additions to my kitchen utensils.

Rapeseed Oil

As well as a large plate of cake, I came away from our Clandestine Cake Club meeting last week, with a bottle of Mrs Middleton’s Oil. Our CCC organiser, Ellie Michell, has many strings to her bow and this cold pressed rapeseed oil, grown on the family farm in Bedfordshire, is one of them. It is nutty in flavour and has a beautiful golden colour. It’s fabulous used as a salad dressing or as a simple dip for bread. I was certainly happy to use it in my shepherd’s pie.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Oh, this was so good, I can’t tell you. It gave the two of us three substantial dinners and if we weren’t so greedy would have done four. Last night, I arrived home from work, soaking wet, tired and hungry. CT had the mini version in the oven and the smell when I opened the front door was not only mouth-watering but so comforting too. My mood quickly changed from despondency to delight. The chocolate is not detectable as such, but it adds richness, thickness and colour which turns a good dish into an exceptional one. A mouthful of this takes me right back to Granny’s house and I can’t help feeling that my shepherd’s pie is nearly as good as hers.

Of course being British, you’d hope that most of the ingredients involved would be not only British, but as local as possible. Whilst I can’t claim that the lentils are British, most everything else was either grown in Cornwall or bought from small local shops. I buy the lovely organic milk I use from our local market and it comes from Ayreshire cows from Helsett Farm on the north coast of Cornwall. The potatoes, garlic and courgettes were grown by my own fair hands, so you can’t get much more local than that. I am thus submitting this to Shop Local over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen.

As I used sprigs of fresh thyme from the garden as well as bay leaves, I am entering this into Cooking with Herbs hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.

Family Foodies is a new monthly challenge to showcase food that the whole family will enjoy. Hosted by Louisa of Eat Your Veg and Venesther of Bangers & Mash, this month’s theme is week-end slowies.

 

National Vegetarian Week runs from 19th to 25th May 2014. Betta Living are running a recipe competition to win £750, so as this is such a classic I am entering it in the hope of winning. #BettaRecipe

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Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
Granny’s Shepherds Pie
by Choclette October-3-2013
This is a vegetarian take on my grandmother’s excellent shepherd’s pie. I add whatever vegetables I have to hand. Dark chocolate is added for extra richness and colour.
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz Whole brown lentils
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 large Carrots – chopped
  • 1 large stick Celery – chopped
  • 3 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • 1 Onion – chopped
  • 1 Courgette – chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 8 Chestnut mushrooms
  • several sprigs Fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp Shoyu (soy) sauce
  • 1 tin Baked beans
  • 20g Dark chocolate (I used 100%)
  • 5 large Floury Potatoes – scrubbed and chunked
  • 4 tbsp Milk
  • 120g Cheddar Cheese
  • to taste Salt & Pepper
 
Instructions
1. Soak the lentils for a few hours in cold water or for 1 hour in hot water. This reduces the cooking time. Wash well and just cover with water. Add the bay leaves and bring to the boil.2. Add the carrots and celery and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the lentils are soft.3. In a separate pan, fry the onions in the oil for a few minutes. Chop two of the garlic cloves and add to the pan. then add the courgette followed by the mushrooms. Fry for about 10 minutes.4. Add the fried vegetables to the lentils together with the thyme, beans and soy sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.5. Simmer for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Stir well and pour into a large casserole dish or two smaller ones.6. Boil the potatoes in slightly salted water with the remaining clove of garlic for about 15 minutes or until soft.7. Drain the potatoes, add the milk and mash. Add 100g of cheese and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.8. Spread the mash over the lentils. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake at 180°C for about 20 minutes when the lentils are bubbling and the mash has browned a little.
 
Details

Yield: 8 servings

Win a £75 Gourmet Experience Day Voucher – Giveaway #36

Giveaway | 1st October 2013 | By

When I was asked if I’d like to review an Experience Day, I was quite excited. Going out for a posh afternoon tea or having the chance to attend a chocolate course are the sort of things that top up my joie de vivre. Sadly, when I checked out the website, there was nothing particularly local to me in the far flung region of Cornwall and at that time, I wasn’t really in the mood to travel far. So – I’ve decided to offer up the opportunity to one of my readers instead.

A chocolate course I attended in 2012

Reading the various chocolate experiences on offer now, I can’t quite believe that I turned the opportunity down, what was I thinking of? The Chocolate Workshop Experience, for example, starts with a history of chocolate, which I find fascinating, involving as it does all sorts of bloodthirstyness, plots and intrigue. You then get to try a range of chocolate – that in itself ought to be worth a trip. Next up you make and decorate lots of truffles which you then take home with you, all wrapped up and looking lovely – whether they’ll last the journey is entirely up to you. The nearest location to me was Bristol or Bath but there are eight others to choose from. This one is currently on offer at £50 (although there are no guarantees it will remain at this price) so if you won, you could always top up with another £25 and take a friend with you. Alternatively, there is a retro chocolate making workshop in Bristol for £75 where you can make those chocolates from yesteryear which are just so hard to find nowadays.

If making chocolates and truffles is really not your thing (though I’m not sure I can believe it), there are plenty of other food experiences on offer. Other workshops include cake making, barrista training and patisserie. If you’d rather just eat the food than learn how to make it, there are a number of leisurely dining experiences including afternoon tea for two, dinner for two and a classic Thames lunch cruise for two.

Giveaway

Experience Days have generously offered a £75 gourmet gift voucher to one lucky Chocolate Log Blog reader.
To be in with a chance of winning, please fill in the Rafflecopter below. You will need to leave a comment on this post which then gives you additional chances to enter if you so wish. Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random from the entries received. Please give me some way of identifying you in the comment section as I will be verifying the validity of entries and will always check back to the comments to ensure that part has been done. Any automated entries will be disqualified. This giveaway is only open to those with a UK postal address. You need to be 18 or over to enter. Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted. Failure to do this may result in another winner being picked.
Prizes are offered and provided by Experience Days and Chocolate Log Blog accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of said third party.
If you need some help using Rafflecopter, here’s a quick clip to show you how.
Closing date is Wednesday 30 October 2013

You might want to take a look at my giveaway page to see if there is anything else you would like to enter.

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