Red Wine Runner

A Scottish Running Blog

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Recipe – Courgette and Cheddar Soup

The recovery from the flooding which devastated our town in December 2012 has been a long one, however  we have been able to take one small silver lining from it. Our vegetable garden has been producing a record crop since being flooded and we put this down to the incredibly rich mud which everything was coated in after the waters receded!

Back Garden

Back Garden

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Our crop of courgette have been out of this world – they are the size of marrows and we cannot eat them up quick enough. I’ve been trying to find new recipes to use and enjoyed this soup so much I’d like to share it with you. It’s adapted from BBC Good Food.

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Courgette, Potato and Cheddar soup

500g potatoes, unpeeled and roughly chopped
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 vegetable stock cubes
Tablespoon garlic pesto
1kg courgettes, roughly chopped
bunch spring onion, sliced – save 1 for serving, if eating straight away
100g extra-mature cheddar grated, plus a little extra to serve
good grating fresh nutmeg, plus extra to serve
Paprika to serve

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Fry the onions in the base of a large pan, using butter or olive oil. Put the potatoes in the pan with just enough water to cover them and crumble in the stock cubes. Bring to the boil, then cover and cook for 5 mins. Add the courgettes, put the lid back on and cook for 5 mins more. Throw in the spring onions, cover and cook for a final 5 mins.

Take off the heat, then stir in the cheese and season with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. I used a whole nutmeg clove for this. Stir in your pesto – either make your own or use store-bought. This isn’t essential but I liked the extra depth of flavour that the garlic and basil gave.

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Whizz with a hand blender to make a thick soup, adding more hot water until you get the consistency you like. Serve scattered with extra grated cheddar and spring onions, and a sprinkling of nutmeg, black pepper and paprika. The paprika is mainly for aesthetic purposes but also because I bought some in Hungary and wanted to try it!

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The soup will freeze for up to three months – I am stock piling my freezer for lovely winter  post-long run weekend lunches with crusty bread and lots of cheese! It’s not the healthiest soup you can make, but the perfect thing to treat yourself to after a few hours outside if it’s cold.

RECIPE: Haggis Cannelloni

Two weeks ago on the 25th of January it was a very special day; not only was it Burns‘ night, but it was also the birthday of my darling betrothed. With the confluence of these two great annual events came the opportunity to showcase my dazzling culinary skills and create a delicious birthday meal for Kynon. Both of us love Haggis (I stick with the vegetarian option of course), so I decided to make a Haggis based dish with an unusual twist and decided to make Haggis Cannelloni.

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My Mum first made this dish for me years ago, and inspired by it I have since experimented with haggis as a mince substitute on a couple of occasions, creating haggis lasagne and haggis tacos. It’s really quite a simple recipe but it just takes a little time to prepare the various components before assembling the dish for baking. It can be incredibly healthy as well (depending on how much cheese you put on the top), and can be made vegan by exchanging the ricotta for a vegan soft-cheese substitute.

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Vegetarian Haggis is made with lentils, grains and beans so is a great protein-packed food for vegetarian athletes. Lots of spinach also adds a nutritional punch as well.
This recipe will give you 4 hearty servings, or you could stretch it a bit further if you’re serving with accompaniments such as bread and and salad.

Haggis Cannelloni by Rhona Mitchell

Prep time: 20 mins, bake time: 40 mins

Ingredients
250g vegetarian haggis
Box of dry cannelloni
150g fresh baby spinach
40g fresh basil (chopped finely)
150g mushrooms (chopped finely)
2 cloves garlic (crushed and chopped finely)
125g ricotta cheese
Large jar of tomato pasta sauce (I used 660g Lloyd Grossman Tomato and Basil)
Bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
1tsp olive oil

Method
1. Set your over to pre-heat to 200C. Cook your haggis as per the packet instructions and set aside in a bowl to cool.

20130125_1752512. Finely chop basil, garlic and mushrooms

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3. Heat the oil in a large wok and saute the garlic, mushrooms, basil and spinach until the spinach is completely wilted.

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4. Add the sauteed vegetables and ricotta cheese to your bowl of haggis and mix thoroughly.

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5. Blanch cannelloni in salted water and set aside out of the water to cool.

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6. Fill the cannelloni with haggis mixture using a blunt knife – push the mixture to the middle first of all then stuff each end til they are full.

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7. Place filled cannelloni in a greased baking dish. Fill as many as you like – just make sure you have enough tomato sauce to cover them! I did two layers.

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8. Cover the cannelloni in sauce, making sure no pasta edges are peeking out.

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9. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 25 minutes, then add your shredded mozzarella and cook until brown and bubbly – probably about another 15 minutes.

Leave to cool for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven, then serve and enjoy with lots of wine and bread!

Minor Progress and a Recipe

I do apologise for the large periods of silence around these parts lately. I’ve been stretched rather thinly in the real world so unfortunately when that happens blogging tends to be put on the back burner, but I’m happy to report that all is well and it’s good busy, not bad busy!

I’ve been having minimal trouble from my knee and ITB issues. I really think the sports massage treatment I had last week did a great job – what exactly it did I am not sure, but I’m certainly feeling the benefits. I went out on Sunday with the intention of doing 6 miles along the Deeside Railway line, but I felt so relaxed and happy that I decided to keep going and in the end ran 11 miles in 1:35. That’s 8:40 pace!! It was one of those runs where I completely found my groove and was able to push out mile after mile at a decent clip. The weather was a little odd however – I was wearing a tank top and shorts with sunglasses as it was sunny when I left. At mile 9 when it started pelting hail and snow, I began receiving some very odd looks from dog walkers and other people hurrying home…

We’ve been plagued with really bad weather recently and I have to admit my shorter runs have suffered – it is not possible to squeeze in short runs in between day and evening work when it is pouring with rain. I frequently work front-of-house at concerts so looking presentable is a must – not easy to do after taking an alfresco shower in the great outdoors.

I think I may have lost some of the blinding optimism of my last post – Baker Hughes is now only 9 days away and the prospect of knocking out six sub-8 miles on the trot is as scarey and alien as ever, but perhaps not completely out of reach. I am mindful of the fact that there is another 10k shortly after Baker Hughes (The Running Shop Beach 10k, on 12th June) which is entirely flat and without the crowds of Baker Hughes so that may well be a better bet for me to achieve my sub-50 goal, but I am still out to destroy my PB of 52:36 on May 20th and celebrate the start of my 3rd year of racing with a strong race.

It’s been some time since I’ve posted about food on the blog, so to make a change from endless narcissistic chat about my 10k training I’d like to share this recipe with you which I created and enjoyed this week. As a vegetarian ‘athlete’ I get asked quite frequently what on earth I eat to fuel my running, and honestly the answer depends on what I’m training for. In general however, I try to eat a diet as full of as many different fruits, vegetables, grains and pulses as possible, I tend to steer clear of dairy and eggs as much as I can (although I am not vegan) and am concious of sneaky added salts and sugar that can creep in to my diet when I’m not looking.

Processed food in general is a no-no for me, and instead of buying ready meals to eat throughout the week when I’m short on time, I prefer to make a big pot of something at the start of the week which will last a few dinners. This particular dish is a prime example of a typical meal which I enjoy; except this was given an unusual twist when I got the chance to use a somewhat unusual ingredient…

Last weekend my gentleman friend and I were enjoying some unnecessary and indulgent food shopping around some of the boutique specialist premises in the West End of Aberdeen and we came across this Garlic Beer. My love for unusual alcoholic beverages is well documented here, so unsuprisingly I picked up a bottle of this when I saw it on the shelves at Hammerton Stores. When I took it to the till (alongside bottles of Brewdog Paradox Jura, Bitch Please Islay Cask, several smelly cheeses, vegetable pates and a loaf of locally made bread…) the server asked me if I was going to cook with it! The thought hadn’t crossed my mind, but then later in the evening when we tried the beer it seemed like quite a good idea.

I poured a small glass to try it – it’s very, very aromatic and smells just like freshly crushed garlic. It tastes immediately like a hoppy IPA but follows with an intense garlic flavour which sticks around in your mouth for some time. It is certainly not a session beer! I have to admit I struggled to finish the small glass and immediately got to thinking about how I could use the rest.

Garlic Beer and Vegetable Stew

Ingredients:

  • Box of chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 x medium onions
  • 1 x pepper
  • 1 x large courgette
  • Bag of quorn chunks or similar (I used Asda’s own brand)
  • Half can of Chickpeas (drained)
  • Small can of sweetcorn
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 pint of GARLIC BEER!
  • 300ml Vegetable stock

Method:

Heat a decent swig of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and lightly fry onions until soft.
Add chunkily chopped mushrooms, courgette and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
Gently add half of the beer and the vegetable stock and cook for further minute or two.
Add can of tomatoes, sweetcorn, chickpeas and quorn chunks, stir well, add spices and allow to simmer for around 10 minutes.
Add remainder of beer and simmer until desired sauce thickness is reached.

Spices

This recipe is fairly adaptable in that you could season it in many different ways – I went for a spicy Cajun flavour but you could as easily add a blend of Indian, Middle Eastern or Italian spices to creat a completely different dish. I mixed approximately 1tsp each of garlic powder, paprika, cumin, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, chilli powder and thyme into the pan, alongside a couple of dashes of liquid smoke. Being a huge hot-head I also used around a tablespoon of my current hot sauce of choice, 100% Pain.

I served this with cous-cous and wholemeal pitta bread. It was amazing and this pan gave me two more dinners. You could easily replace the Garlic beer with your favourite Stout or IPA perhaps, if you can spare some that is. I will certainly be trying beer in more of my recipes – it gave the stew a unique flavour and depth which was very enjoyable!

Vegan Power Fuel

After a brief hiatus, I’m back!  This time of the year at work is incredibly, incredibly busy for me and in between long days and long sessions at the gym I’ve not found the time to blog (for shame!). I’ve been formulating a couple of posts in my head which will go up in the next couple of days, but for tonight I’ve got an awesome recipe which I’d love to share with you!

Now, first thing’s first: I’m no food blogger. I read the beautifully crafted posts by the ladies behind my favourite healthy living blogs such as Emily at the Daily Garnish, Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point, Meghann at Meals And Miles and my friend Angharad over at Eating for England, and I wonder how on earth they can put together and blog about such aesthetically appealing dishes, whilst keep their kitchens so neat and maintaining their sanity and inspiration! Mad props to them and everyone else on my blogroll who writes about food as creating this one post has  taken over my entire evening. Anyway; the long and short of it is – my kitchen’s a tip, my presentation is nothing special and the photos are a bit dodge; but the recipe’s a cracker so give it a shot!

So – what are we making tonight? Well it’s a recipe from my tried-and-tested, failsafe post-workout refuel menu. I go to the gym/fitness classes/for a run straight after work and usually end up back home around 7.30pm; close to 12 hours after I leave the house in the morning. When I get in I am always starving, but since it’s late in the evening for eating on a week night (I usually hit the hay around 10pm) I like to eat a fast, nutritious meal that’s going to refuel my aching muscles but doesn’t consist of anything too heavy. I’m talking about grains, pulses, nuts, steamed vegetables, tofu, faux-meat products etc etc – usually all in a bowl. I like eating out of a bowl, I find it oddly comforting.

I don’t have a name for this creation, but I announced it on Facebook last night as ‘Amazing Vegan Power Dinner’ much to the amusement of my carnivorous friends who stated the name itself was a contradiction in terms. Vegan? Power dinner? In the same sentence? Well have a read of this and the nutritional information at the bottom and maybe I’ll prove you wrong!

First here’s me in the kitchen after a typical sweat-fest in the gym, repping my Alma Mater on my t-shirt. The first thing I do is get my drink on – I absolutely love chilled sparkling flavoured water after the gym – 0 calories, none of the chemicals of fizzy drinks and very cheap!

First can I suggest you put some tunes on while you gather your ingredients? I recommend Planet Rock if you have a DAB.

This is what you need to get (right to left):

  • 200g firm tofu (Cauldron is good – I use half a pack)
  • Olive oil (2tbsp)
  • Soy Sauce (2tbsp)
  • Oyster mushrooms (half a box)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Broccoli
  • Black Beans (1/2 a can)
  • 1/2 an onion
  • Bag of baby spinach
  • Minced garlic (1tsp) Or use fresh stuff if you’re so inclined and have the time.
  • Minced ginger (1tsp) As above.
  • Large red chilli
  • BBQ sauce/marinade (a good squirt – I like Maxchup brand, found in Chinese/Thai supermarkets)
  • Tikka masala powder.
  • Chopped walnuts (missing from picture! Oops)

Whilst rocking out to some ageing rock music, the first thing you need to do is press your tofu. I learned this from the blogging world – I could never work out why my tofu fell to bits when I cooked it!

Grab your whole lump of drained tofu and a clean, dry glass cloth.

Wrap that little bad boy up like a parcel and find yourself a heavy tome. I find that the Littlewoods catalogue works wonders. Also, my cocktail bible which is suffering from a lack of use recently due to No-Booze-January. (I’m doing well by the way – 18 days! But more on that later)

Balance your books on top of the tofu and leave it whilst you continue to rock out and prepare your feast.

Next – get your olive oil in the wok on the hob at a very high temperature. You’ll know when the oil is really hot and ready when it’s smoking. Also – chop up your onion nice and small. Next? The chilli.

Now – I’m really not interested in any noise about missing the chilli out as you don’t like hot food, or you’re scared of chillis or any of that rubbish. Look at this beautiful thing; vivacious, red and ripe, and ready to give your dish a wonderful kick. Relax – it’s not going to kill you. The hotness calms the longer you cook its flesh so stick it in at the start if you’re a wuss – or just sear it in the pan at the end if you’re real hot head like me.

Chop it like so – take the top and tails off and cut neatly down one side. Open it up like a book and give it a good smell; pause a second and respect the chilli – have you ever seen a more beautiful shade of red? Now with a sharp knife gently remove the white flesh and the seeds from inside.

Then slice as you wish – I prefer thin semi-circular slices but whatever. Now – go and wash your hands! I’m serious! Go and do it, now. You can do so much danger to yourself and others with chilli residue on your hands – I got some stuck down the back of my nail last night and it felt like someone had stuck a needle down there all today

Next: the Oyster mushrooms. I prefer these to ordinary mushrooms for stirfries as they have such a lovely velvety texture and add a slightly nutty taste to any dish.

You can just tear the big ones apart and leave the small/medium sized mushrooms as they are. Avoid cutting these up in any dish as you’ll loose their special flavour when you cook them.

Your final vegetable is broccoli – my reigning favourite! Use as much or as little as you like – we’re going to give this a quick steam in the microwave to loosen it up first. I used about half a head of broccoli, but then how big is the head? How long is a piece of string.

So there’s your vegetables prep’d. To steam your broccoli you don’t need anything fancy – I just use an old take away carton with a splash of water, and then cover the top with the lid loosely. Easy.

I steam it for 1min in a 1000W microwave, so adjust accordingly for your machine. Whilst that’s on the go you can fix your tofu. Unwrap it and it should look a bit like this:

Cube it, and then scatter your Tikka Masala curry powder over the top.

Give it a good (gentle) rub with your hands to make sure every surface is covered.

I love this spice mix – it’s such a great time saver and gives a great light curry flavour to many things I cook. I’m a real spice fiend, and as mentioned above; a total hot head.  I mean; have you seen my spice rack shelf?

I’m a firm believer in avoiding packet sauces for oriental meals – they are always full of sugar/salt and MSG. I really enjoy creating my own spice blends and finding unusual hot sauces in pokey little international supermarkets. See that bottle of Sriracha on the right with the green lid? You can’t get that in Aberdeen, so the last time I was in Newcastle I took a trip to the Thai supermarket and bought three 750ml catering sized bottles to take home with me. That’s right – a litre and a half of sriracha. That was just under a year ago and it’s about time to stock up again 🙂

Anyway – time to stick it all in the pan. The oil should be smoking by now, so chuck in your onions and stir briskly. Then put in the tofu and any leftover masala powder.

Add chopped chilli’s, mushrooms and walnuts and stir for another minute or two.

There should be a little bit of juice going on in the bottom of the pan – to this add a teaspoon each of minced ginger and garlic.

Stir stir stir. Make sure everything is mixed nicely, and then get the steamed broccoli and black beans in as well. Drain the black beans first.

Next comes seasoning.

The assorted flavours of the ingredients themselves prevail in this dish – the nutty mushrooms, the strong onions and tasty broccoli, so you don’t need to add very much at all. At this point I put in a swig of BBQ marinade and a few drops of liquid smoke to give it a lovely hickory flavour (which compliments the chilli wonderfully). Add soy sauce to taste – I use this instead of salt, usually about 2 tablespoons.

The pan should be steaming up a storm now, so it’s time to add the last ingredient; the spinach.

There’s no need to be delicate about it – just bung the whole bag on top of the vegetables. It might look huge but spinach reduces about 1000% once it’s cooked so just fold it in to the mixture until it starts to wilt.

A good grind of black pepper and we’re done!

Served in a noodle bowl of course. I garnished with a swirl of Sriracha as well but that’s perhaps just my taste. Next? sit your tired ass down on the couch and fill your face whilst watching crap telly.

The end result is a myriad of flavour and textures – soft tofu, delicate mushrooms, crunchy nuts and a spicy kick. 5 portions of vegetables and totally vegan. Boom.

Nutritionally what’s the score? According to Dailyplate.com:

Kcal – 692, Fat – 30g, Sodium – 1420mg, Carbs – 62.3g Fibre – 18.4g, Protein – 45.17g, Sugars – 15.2g.

I’m not a nutritionist so I won’t make any wild claims, but the dish packs a hell of a lot of protein – roughly half of the daily recommended intake for an adult female. One of the first “bingos” that vegetarians and vegans have to deal with it “Where do you get your protein?!” which stems from the belief that the best source of protein is meat.  This is not the case obviously – a plateful of this packs double the amount of protein in your average steak (23g) and also more than an average chicken breast (36g). It also has zero cholesterol, and the fats come mainly from the walnuts which are packed with essential omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins.

That’s all I’m going to say on the subject of vegetarian/veganism for now – I don’t believe in preaching about my choices, but rather encouraging people to learn about their food and make informed decisions for themselves. Maybe some readers will have learned something about typical vegan food from this post – I only wish I could have let you try it!

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