The Family Food Blog

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Category: Baking

Fall Vegetable Pastries

by thefamilyfoodblog

Last Saturday, for once, I woke up early enough to get myself to the local farmer’s market. Before starting to cook with my fall bounty, I took a moment to be artsy and take a little still life photo, adding in a pumpkin from pumpkin-picking earlier in the month and the plant that usually sits on our dining table.

Clearly I have a thing for multicolored vegetables. I bought honeycrisp apples, eggplant, a bell pepper, and the last of the heirloom tomatoes.

Cooking a variety of meals using these same ingredients made for an interesting experiment throughout the week. Thanks to sage, the standout was the vegetable puff pastries I made on Wednesday night to finish off the eggplant. The recipe below is double what I made – it makes the quantities a little more practical.

Ingredients (for 12 pastries)

  • two sheets (one package) frozen store-bought puff pastry
  • one medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • one medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • one small tomato, diced
  • 5 large leaves fresh sage, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer to thaw. Preheat oven to 430 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add in the onion and eggplant, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Allow to cook for about two minutes. Add in zucchini, tomato, lemon juice, and black pepper and cook until vegetables are slightly softened (about five more minutes). Mix in sage and cook for one more minute.

Cook vegetables over medium heat until slightly softened. (Sorry for the blurry photo!)

Cut each sheet of puff pastry into six rectangles. Spoon 1 1/2-2 tbsp vegetable mixture into the center of each and fold over, pinching around edges to seal. Arrange pastries on a baking sheet and bake at 430 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

I ate mine with ketchup, with a little hot sauce mixed in. Ranch dressing would be another good option, or perhaps an aioli.

P.S. They’re a lot more filling than you’d expect; I was pretty full after just two!

Baked Jalapeño Poppers

by Sanjukta Moorthy

I went to a chilli festival with my friend Sam and boyfriend Andrew over the Bank Holiday weekend in August – it was amazing! I did take photos, and will upload them soon, don’t worry. Stalls selling fresh and dried chillis, plants, sauces, relishes, fresh food, even ice cream and coffee – basically, everything you could think of and wish for!

Andrew and I bought a mini army of chilli plants which are doing really well in our living room. We thought they’d make a great dinner one night, and after finding an amazing recipe on Pinterest, decided to make Jalapeño Poppers!

We bought a Jalapeño plant as well as a Padron, Fresno and Thai green chilli plant – in this recipe, we’ve used fresh Padron, Fresno and Jalapeño chillis, as well as fresh Cayenne chillis and whole Jalapeños from a jar. So even if you can’t get hold of fresh chillis, you can use the ones from the jar. They won’t be as good but they’re still pretty amazing!

We baked it instead of deep-frying and it crisped up perfectly. It’s a bit fiddly to get together, but once you’ve created an efficient assembly line, you can keep making this!

You’ll need to first make the cream cheese stuffing, then stuff the peppers, dunk them in an egg wash before rolling in breadcrumbs and arranging on a baking tray – so you’ll need a lot of clean counter-space for this!

Let me know what you think. We found that this brought out the flavour of the individual chillis so much better than cooking them along with meat or vegetables would have done – and we really enjoyed the different flavours that each of our chillis brings to it.

Aside from all of that, being able to literally pick your dinner off the plant and cook it completely fresh is a fantastic experience! Our plants have grown really well and we’ve managed to do this again, with Sam, and made enough of this to feed all three of us!

Makes 18 poppers

9 chillis (a mix of fresh and preserved whole chillis. Prepare them by halving lengthwise, keeping the stalk intact on each half if possible. This makes sure that the poppers hold their structure)

150g cream cheese (we used Phildalphia Light)

50g cheddar (we used a sharp Cornish Crackler)

Garlic oil (2 cloves with a splash of olive oil, or a few tablespoons of garlic oil – we made our own, recipe to come soon!)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Oregano or dried herbs of your choice

2 eggs, beaten in a shallow bowl

1-1.5 cups breadcrumbs (either fresh or storebought, we’ve used both and there really is no difference), arranged on a plate

Mix the cream cheese, cheddar and seasoning in a medium bowl, add any dried herbs if you like. We added oregano and lemon pepper, which worked really well.

Halve and deseed the chillis, taking care not to rip the skin of the chilli. Arrange on a plate or chopping board to the extreme left of your work space, then place the bowl with the stuffing to its right.

To the right of the stuffing, place the bowl with the beaten eggs and then the breadcrumbs to its right. Line a baking tray and keep that at the very end of your assembly line, then preheat the oven to about 180C.

Carefully fill the chillis – we found about 1 tsp of stuffing fits snugly into an average-sized jalapeño. The idea is to have the stuffing level with the edge of the chilli so the stuffing doesn’t burst while it bakes.

Once it’s filled, dunk it in the egg wash and make sure the egg thoroughly coats the chilli, before rolling it in the breadcrumbs. The chilli should be completely covered in breadcrumbs, so you may need to use a spoon, or your hands to shower the breadcrumbs on.

Arrange on the baking tray – if you’re using more than one type of chilli, arrange them by type so you know what they are and can compare tastes.

Once all the chillis are filled and coated, bake them for about 20-25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs become golden.

Serve immediately – we made a simple yoghurt dip, mixed with chipotle sauce. But plain yoghurt or sour cream works really well too, and can actually be more welcome if the chillis are too spicy!

Enjoy!

Spiced Carrot Muffins

by Sanjukta Moorthy

After making a luxurious roast dinner, I had a few carrots leftover and needed to make something to take in for breakfast. I did some research and found a few carrot muffin recipes, none of which really appealed in their entirety because they either used too much sugar or too much butter. I wanted something which tasted amazing but didn’t make me feel sinful if I had a couple for breakfast.

So here’s my version, low-fat, low-sugar but amazing. Don’t be disheartened by that – believe me, I love food that actually tastes like food, and I have the same reaction you do when I hear the words ‘low fat and low sugar’. But trust me, you really can’t tell at all.

I’ve added some candied orange peel, to add another layer to the spicy, Christmassy feel of these muffins. And if you’re using more than 1/3 cup, you actually don’t need any sugar at all! But that’s upto you – enjoy!

I took them home for my family – and they couldn’t tell it was a healthier version! I thought that’s as good a taste test as I’m going to get, so here’s the recipe!

Makes 24 muffins

3 cups grated carrots (some carrots don’t need to be peeled, so I topped and tailed mine, and grated them using my amazing food processor’s grater function!)

1.5 – 2 cups roughly chopped golden sultanas (Soak these in boiling water (I prefer orange juice because it ties in with the flavours) for about 30 minutes until they’re amazingly plump)

1.5 cups plain flour

1.5-2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar (completely optional, I find that the carrots get sweet as they’re baked so you could take this out completely)

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground allspice

About 10 shaves of fresh nutmeg

2 eggs

1/3 cup candied orange peel (or peel of your choice)

2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil and it works just as well)

1 cup choppped nuts of your choice – I’ve made this a few times and used almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts – all of which work really well! Pick your favourite!

Combine eggs, sugar and oil in a large bowl with either an electric mixer or a whisk. I used a whisk since I hardly used any sugar or oil, and it’s pretty easy! Preheat the oven to 180C.

Sift the flour into a separate, medium bowl and add the salt, spices and baking powder.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, and incorporate using either an electric mixer or a whisk.

Fold in the carrots, nuts, orange peel and raisins. This doesn’t need to be done carefully, but it does need to be thoroughly mixed so keep going until you’re happy with how it looks.

Spoon the mix into lined muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool completely on a wire rack and enjoy!