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Archive of ‘Food’ category

Venison and Chorizo Casserole

Winter is coming and that means the slow cooker is getting dragged out.  It turns out that Christmas dinner will be hosted at Spinne haus this year, therefore I’m trying to use up whatever is in the freezer in order to make room for everything.  Turns out I had venison and chopped butternut squash already in (courtesy of the Whoops aisle) as well as everything else.  The chorizo was acquired from Aldi’s for less than £2.  Basically I finished work one morning (I work nights), shoved this in the slow cooker, threw some dumplings in once I’d woken up (also from the freezer – I had leftovers from a previous recipe) and then cranked the heat up. Totally easy to do and delicious.


Venison and Chorizo Casserole (Serves 3)


  • 300 Grams Venison Diced and dried with kitchen roll
  • 2 Tbsp Plain Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 75 Grams Chorizo Diced
  • 1 Onion Chopped
  • 2 Clove Garlic Crushed
  • 2 tsp Spanish Paprika
  • 250 ml Beef Stock
  • 250 ml Red Wine
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 200 Grams Butternut Squash Peeled and chopped


  • Cover the venison in flour, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the venison and brown all over.
  • Add the onion and garlic and stir until the onion softens.
  • Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker, season and cook on low for about 6 hours.
  • If adding dumplings to the mix, add them with an hour or so to go and turn the heat up to high.

Bish, Bash, Bosh.

Oh My Stars…

Why hello there my poor neglected blog.  Yes it’s been a while… almost a year in fact.  It’s been one hell of a year as well.  A lot has happened and I have lots of stories to tell so do keep your eyes peeled.

I’m currently in the middle of a serious downgrading of possessions, kitchen ingredients included.  Mealtimes are starting to get interesting that’s for sure.  Knowing how much of a sweet tooth I have, especially whilst at work, I decided to have a play about after seeing various recipes online.  I’m rather impressed if I’m honest, especially since I already had everything in and that there’s no cooking involved.  Enjoy.


Coconut And Spirulina Bites

  • 180g dates (I had dried pitted ones)
  • 130g cashew nuts (but you could substitute these with any other unsalted nuts)
  • 2 large tsp of coconut oil
  • 3 tsp of spirulina powder
  • 2 tsp of matcha tea
  • unsweetened desiccated coconut (I just added a bit at a time)

Firstly soak the dates in water for at least 30 minutes.  Whilst they’re soaking, blitz the cashew nuts in a food processor for about 45 seconds.

Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor, except the desiccated coconut.

Rinse the dates, add to the food processor and blitz until everything is combined and essentially resembles a large sticky ball.

Fill one bowl with water and one with the unsweetened desiccated coconut.  With wet hands (it stops the mixture from sticking to you), pinch off pieces of the mixture and roll into balls (about the size of an average cherry tomato).

Roll each ball into the desiccated coconut until evenly coated.

Place on a plate and then refrigerate for at least another 30 minutes before consuming.  These are best stored in an airtight container and will last about a fortnight at the most.

They’re really foolproof, vegan and best of all you can add or substitute the majority of the above ingredients with whatever you have in at the time.  Next time I make these I may add different nuts, dried apricots, cacao nibs, flaxseed etc.  The possibilities are endless.  If you try these and you come up with any awesome combinations then please let me know.

Make Your Own Houmous…

I love houmous/hummus.  I can sit down with a tub of the stuff along with some pitta/carrot sticks/celery and quite happily munch away until my heart and tummy is content.  It’s so bloody easy to make too that I have no idea why I even buy the stuff anymore.  It works out a lot cheaper to make your own too, if you go by weight. Below is my easy go to recipe.  There are no measurements as such as it’s the kind of food that everyone has different preferences for.  Some like it smooth, others lumpy, some like lots of lemon juice etc etc.  My advice would be to have a play and see what works the best for you.  If you end up with something that tastes and resembles houmous at the end then well done.


The main ingredient of houmous is chickpeas (or garbanzo beans).  I never buy tinned if I’m honest.  A tin of ready soaked costs 55p.  I can buy a lot more chickpeas for my moolah if I buy a 500g bag of dried for £1.10.  I normally go by the 1/2 a cup of dried = 1 tin of soaked ratio too.  The only downfall to buying dried however is that you need to prepare them in advance but it’s easy when you know how.  I normally just measure as many cups as I can get out of a 500g bag, soak them overnight and then stick them in the slow cooker the next day.  Once cooked I’ll then measure them out in equivalent of tins and freeze in individual freezer bags until required.  I do the same with the majority of my dried beans and pulses too.  I have heard stories of people sprouting them for additional nutrients but I’ve never tried that myself I must say.


When it comes to making actual houmous I normally grab one or two freezer bags (remember these have been measured to be the equivalent of a tin each) bring them to the boil just to defrost/make sure that they’re properly cooked, bung them in a food processor with a little bit of the water, some garlic, some salt, pepper, ground cumin, lemon juice, tahini and olive oil and blend it until it resembles the consistency/taste that you require.  It keeps for a few days in the fridge and if you’re feeling adventurous you can add any extras to it, such as chilli or roast veg.  In my view there really isn’t a set of concrete rules with this.  I’ve used limes when I’ve had no lemons, flaxseed oil instead of olive oil etc. etc. and as long as it tastes great to you then that’s all that matters.


I hope this has helped and if you discover any good flavour combinations then please let me know.  Also if you know the reason behind the different spellings of houmous/hummus then let me know too.




Vegan Friendly Pancakes…

I love pancakes.  I don’t think I’ve ever turned my nose up at them.  I like them sweet, I like them savoury, I like both sweet and savoury (bacon and maple syrup in my meat eating days f0r example).  Although I’m not vegan (just a veggie) I do eat and try to eat a lot of vegan friendly food and to be honest I feel as if it’s a waste of egg  if I use one whilst baking so I never bother and use substitutes instead with great success so far.  Anyway I was really pleased with this pancake batter recipe.  I’ve tried it with both plain and self raising flour and plain definitely made the better pancakes.   They’re seriously easy to make and you can have a plate of them in about 20 minutes.


Vegan Friendly Pancakes


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup soya milk (could use any other dairy free milk or even water at a push)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

To be honest there’s not much needed in terms of instructions.  All I did was stick my frying pan on the hob (the hotter the pan the better the pancakes), whilst I mixed all of the dry ingredients together and all of the wet ingredients together.  Once I’d done that I whisked everything together until my pancake batter was nice and silky smooth.

I didn’t want huge pancakes as small and thin seem to come out better in my experience so I used about 1/3 of a ladle per pancake (this made tea saucer sized pancakes which were perfect).  Once bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, flip it over to cook on the other side for a few minutes.  It’s that simple.  I got about 8 pancakes from the above measurements which easily served 2 hungry people for breakfast.  We had these with chopped banana and maple syrup.  I’m rather tempted to make another batch now.

Mental Lentils…

I really didn’t know that a Dahl would last up to a week in the fridge until recently and since Im trying to be careful with regards to what I eat/buy I figured it may be a good idea to always have some on standby just in case.  Plus the fact that they tend to be high in protein but low in carbs and fat pretty much makes it the perfect food for whenever you can’t be arsed to cook anything.  I found the following recipe here but amended it slightly.


Detoxifying Lemon Dahl


250g Red Lentils
1 tin of chopped tomato
2 teaspoons of Turmeric
1 teaspoon of Hing (Asafoetida)
1 green chili (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 lemon
Coriander leaf to garnish (optional)



In on pan boil the lentils with the tinned tomato and double the amount of water (2 tins worth).  In a separate pan, heat a tablespoon of oil and when hot, add the cumin seeds. They need to crackle and turn a little brown. Now add your chopped chili and take off the heat until your lentils are tender and cooked.  Add the fryed cumin and chilli to the lentils along with the turmeric, hing (I added this because I found out it helps prevent farting and well everyone can agree that flatulence isn’t “a very ladylike practice” despite us all doing it) and salt.  If you want to make this more of a soup then add more water or reduce to make it thicker .   Towards the end when the dahl is a nice yellow paste, add the juice of one lemon and possibly the rind if you like (I did but I thought it was a bit too much).  Add chopped coriander as a garnish.


More Foodie Delights…

Seems all I talk about on here lately is food.  I’m guessing that it’s because I’m off work so I have extra time to cook up some delicious noms compared to normal.  Anyway this is not only for all you coconut fans out there but also for those amongst us (like me) who still need a little gentle persuading.

Coconut Cupcakes


Truth be told I fucking hate desiccated coconut but I don’t mind the “real” stuff which is what I’ve used in these and bloody hell they’re good.  I haven’t even bothered telling anyone that they’re Vegan and well no one’s asked so shhhhh! *wink*


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I used the tinned stuff as I had some in the cupboard).
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

For the icing:

  • 1/4 cup margarine at room temperature. (I used Vitalite but I had a tiny bit of Tofutti cream cheese to use up so I added this in too).
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (from the same tin as above)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut


Preheat the oven to about 350 degrees F and line a twelve-muffin tin with paper cases and set aside.  Sift together all of the dry ingredients and then add all of the wet ones and mix until everything is combined and then some.  Fill each paper case to about two-thirds full and stick them in the oven for about 25 minutes.  I did think I was starting to burn them as they browned but a quick prod with a skewer will confirm when the cakes are cooked.  Remove from the muffin tin and place on a cooling rack.


Whilst the cakes were in the oven I made the frosting.  To do so I added all of the wet ingredients together and slowly added all of the dry ones until I’d reached what I thought was perfect consistency and popped this into the fridge until my cakes had cooled down.  Once they had I basically dolloped a good amount of frosting on each cake and smoothed with a palette knife.

I started a diet this week so I’ve had one which I thoroughly enjoyed and I’ve been brave and given the remaining 11 away otherwise I would have eaten them all.  Seriously beautiful with a cup of tea.

Recent Noms…

I stumbled upon Smitten Kitchen last week and the next day made this for dinner.  It seems that a lot of the ingredients used are relatively easy to come by and also cheap to make and I’m that impressed I’m considering buying the cookbook.  It’ll be getting made again at some point soon.

I also tried to make sourdough bread with the culture I started a few weeks ago and it flopped.  I ended up using the flat dough for chapatis.  All in all, not an experiment I’ll be repeating.  Never mind.

Last week I also stumbled upon this by the Hairy Bikers on the TV and quite intrigued I made it.  I wish I’d halved the ingredients as the recipe made much more than for just 4 people.  It was ok but I doubt I’ll make it again.  I have the remnants in my freezer for next time I fancy something sweet.

I’ve also realised that I have more or less a freezer full of food so I’m on a food shopping ban until it’s a lot more controllable.  I think it’s going to be pretty amusing to see what I can come up with at mealtimes in the meantime.

Culture and Potatoes…

Today it occurred to me that I still hadn’t started that Sourdough Culture that I said I was going to do ages ago (and even went to the trouble of buying some really posh flour from mmm… for this exact purpose) and that I also had rather a lot a) potatoes and b) onions that needed using up before too long so this evening has been spent in attempts to rectify all of the above.  Starting a sourdough culture seems relatively easy.  I’m using the information from this site.  It should be ready to use come Monday/Tuesday so expect an update around then.

When it came to the glut of potatoes and onions scenario I was a bit more confused.  I have no idea how I’ve came to own so much of both vegetables and I had no idea as to what I was going to do with them.  A quick google search that included the words “potato, onion, vegan” and I’d stumbled upon this beauty from the Post Punk Kitchen.  I should have known really considering I own quite a few of Isa’s books.  Anyway it took all in all nearly 2 hours to make but excluding tonights tea (it was delicious btw) I now have the equivalent of 4 more meals in my freezer and since all the hard work is done all I need to do is boil a pan full of water and chuck em straight in, similar to gnocchi.  Until today I’d never made Caramelised Onion too, never mind know that you could freeze it.  Jobs a good un.

Meat Free Mondays: Vegan Chilli.

This is perfect for this time of year (it’s definitely getting darker and colder).  It’s perfect because you can use whatever vegetables you have in the kitchen too.

Serves: 4-6 adults. 


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 3x 400g tins of chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained (or ½ cup of dry kidney beans that have been soaked overnight)
  • 1 red chilli pepper (de-seeded if you like) or 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 200g of mushrooms, sliced
  • 200g of mixed veg e.g. courgette, sweet potato, butternut squash or peppers  – but anything will work.
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 300g basmati rice


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion over a gentle heat for 2–3 minutes, or until it has softened slightly. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, kidney beans and chilli, bring the sauce to the boil, then lower the heat so that it simmers gently.
  3. Add the chopped red pepper, sliced mushrooms and mixed vegetables and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet.
  5. Add the cumin, coriander and paprika to the chilli and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Season to taste and serve with the rice.

Cook’s tips

  • As the chilli was simmering I still felt it needed a bit more *umpf* so I added a teaspoon of chipotle chilli paste and some dried chilli flakes too.
  • Leftover chilli tastes much better the next day – simply wait for it to cool, then keep it in the fridge in a container with a lid, and reheat it thoroughly in a saucepan. Or you can freeze it, but make sure you defrost the chilli completely before you reheat it.
  • I made my chilli today with carrot and courgette.  It was rather delish. 😀
  • Also for all of you who think that vegan food is expensive then think again.  I’ve just worked it out on Sainsbury’s online and this meal would have cost about £4.89 to make and that’s for anything between 4-6 people depending on how hungry they are.  I went to my local greengrocers as well so it probably cost me less in honesty.

Meat Free Monday: A glut of carrots.

I had a load of carrots that needed using up before they went off and let’s face it *everyone* loves Carrot & Coriander soup, plus with Autumn poking it’s head around the corner making and freezing portions of soup means you can have a homemade, comforting bowl of soup whenever you feel like.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 450g/1lb carrots, sliced (I left the skins on)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 pints of vegetable stock
  • large bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onions and the carrots. Cook for a few minutes until they start to soften.
  • Add the ground coriander and cook for 1 minute.  Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the coriander and then whizz everything up with a hand blender/blender until smooth.

Lime & Gin Marmalade…

I’ve been on a bit of a preserve kick as of late.  In this last week alone I’ve utilised all of the jam jars I’ve collected/had donated from friends and family and am on the hunt for more (I don’t believe in buying jam jars.  It’s much more environmentally friendly and cheaper to rescue those destined for the recycling bin). So far in the last week I’ve made a batch of Lime Pickle (It’s hotter than Hades, or as my boyfriend puts it “like hay fever in a jar”) and have also had a bash at making Strawberry Jam for the first time which is tasty but didn’t set properly due to a combination, I feel, of not enough lemon juice/heat.  I know for next time.

Since I still had loads of limes left after I’d made the pickle (I still do actually) and since Gin and Limes go together perfectly I figured I’d conduct an experiment.  I looked online and I found a lot of recipes for grapefruit and gin preserves but not one for a lime based one so I decided to have a crack at making my own.  The results are fabulous even if I do say so.  I have no idea if it’s safe to eat if you’re driving or not (I figured the alcohol will have probably evaporated what with the temperature of the marmalade but I’m not 100% sure and quite frankly I’m refusing to take responsibility for anything you do whilst under the influence of said preserve.

Lime and Gin Marmalade

  • 1 kg of Limes
  • 1 Lemon
  • 3 litres water
  • 1.5 kg white sugar
  • 100 ml Gin

This will fill about 4 1lb jars, but it is good to have a couple of spare ones just in case or a selection of big and small jars.

First of all wash the rinds of all of the fruit to remove the wax.  Cut all of the fruit in half and juice them.  Cut the remains into small strips and place, along with the juice, into a big pan, along with the water.  Some recipes tell you to remove the pith from the fruit and to put any pips into a muslin bag (as they contain pectin) but I didn’t purely because I knew that the pith would dissolve and I only got a total of 2 pips out of all of my fruit so I decided not to bother.  Bring the contents of the pan to the boil and then simmer gently for about two and a half hours. By this time the fruit should be soft and transparent and the liquid will have reduced by a third.  Skim the scum from the surface every now and then.

Take off the heat and add the sugar. Stir and allow to sit for a moment to dissolve. Whilst doing this, set the oven to 150C (gas mark 2). Wash your jars in hot soapy water then rinse and place the jars upside down in the oven for 30 mins then switch the oven off (I normally leave them in the oven until it’s time to use them.

Give the fruit a good stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil and then allow to simmer. You now need to watch out for the setting point. It’s difficult to put an exact time on this as it depends on the size and shape of your pan and how much you are making but if you have a sugar thermometer use this and look out for it reaching 106C.  If you don’t have a thermometer just test for the setting point every few minutes by placing a drop of the liquid on a chilled saucer, place the saucer in the fridge for a moment and then push your finger through it. If it crinkles then it’s done.  Once setting point has been reached, take the pan off the heat immediately and after it’s cooled for about 20 minutes, stir in the gin.  Pour and seal the marmalade into the jars immediately (be careful as this will be like molten lava).  Allow to cool, then store in a cool, dark place.

No idea if I’m going to keep these for myself or give them away as presents.  A lot of friends have said I should sell them but I’m not sure.  Any suggestions?

Foodie Pen Pals: May 2012.

Back in April I was shown a site for Foodie Pen Pals by one of my friends who knows how much I enjoy cooking and baking.  Thinking it would be a lot of fun I signed up.  I was told who I had to send a parcel for, I stalked her blog/twitter for inspiration, bought some treats and sent them off along with some home made goodies.  I then sat back and waited for my parcel to arrive, only 2 weeks later and nothing.  I’ve tried emailing my sender in case she’s ill or if it’s gone missing in the post and yet again, nothing.

I would have loved to post a blog entry with loads of photo’s of awesome goodies like what my recipient did but I doubt I’ll get the chance as my gut feeling is telling me to give up as it’s just not going to happen.  The whole experience has left me feeling pretty upset and bitter truth be told.  I work part time for minimum wage and my parcel, along with p&p cost over £18.  It’s not Carol Anne’s fault as she’s been trying to chase this up as well and it’s certainly not Emma’s either.  The last remaining glimmer of hope is thinking positively that something good happens in the next few days otherwise I doubt I’ll be willing to contribute towards future months.  I just can’t afford to do so, both mentally and financially.