Lunch · Picnic

Sunny days and pool side snacks. Mango Mint Salsa.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You know summer is on the way when the heat kicks in and the only thing you can think of eating is cold or sweet. Or preferably a combination of the two… I mean it’s a match made in heaven for those long hot days. Specially when you’re lounging poolside and you just want something fresh and refreshing, a light snack that you can throw together lazily. Well this little beauty hits every nail on the head. It’s so summery and pretty and inviting. I adore the flavours and the colours in this sexy little dip. It even looks like summer.

Mango and mint are a beautiful combination that always bring a tropical vibe. And adding the sweet hit of mango to usually savoury salsa just tastes like you’re on holiday. I really adore this dip and it’s become a quick little go-to for snacks and lunch. I’ve been tending to pair it with various chips or crackers and eaten it as a dip. But I can also see this lending itself as a side dish for other meals too.

It’s quick, easy, fresh and fruity. (No sarcastic comments please). And all the ingredients can be grabbed at the Farmers market (another win).

By the way have you seen the gorgeous mixed colour peppers about at the moment. I’m in love. Complete vegetable photo fetish kicking in again…

This recipe I use to serve 2. But as you can see, it’s very easily multiplied if you’ve got a tribe wanting a nibble! It also keeps well in the fridge for a day so you can snack later too.

Recipe :

2 Mangos – I used rather large Champagne mangos (alfonso)

1/2 Red onion

1 Red Pepper

Pinch of salt

A few springs of mint chopped

1 Lime

Dice Mango, onion and pepper to similar sizes. Pop in a bowl and mix in salt, mint and the zest of the lime with a few drops of lime juice. Give everything a quick mix and leave tho sit for a few minutes to marry together.

Serve with your favourite chips or crackers or pita ๐Ÿ™‚

Enjoy!

In the Garden · Lunch · Picnic

Edible Blooms and how to use them. ๐Ÿ’›Spring is on the way ๐Ÿ’›

I don’t know about you. But I am all set for light nights, longer days and some warmth ๐Ÿ’› I feel like Florida really attempted to have a winter this year. May I just say, that is not why I moved here… I did not sign up for this. Sunshine State. Come on. Sort it out. But now that the clocks have changed and it’s not dark by dinner time I feel we are finally getting somewhere. And Spring is on its way ๐Ÿ’› my favorite time of year.

To celebrate this beautiful shift of the seasons, I’ve been back in the garden making it beautiful and focusing my attention on edible blooms. Those who know me know I love adding flowers to anything and everything. And have a penchant for drying flowers out too… (I’ve been questioned several times as to why I keep bouquets after they have died). And so edible flowers with flavours and colours are just my idea of heaven. It’s been a little ridiculous to be fair. I’m putting them here there and everywhere and it makes me so happy ๐Ÿ’›

The edible blooms I’ve been growing and buying (thank you The Farmacy) are Pansy, Marigold, Lavender, Nasturtium and Society Garlic. They just make everything look so inviting and pretty. And have been so easy to grow and enjoy. I hope you love them as much as I do. Most -bar the garlic have a mild, sometimes a little peppery flavour just like a salad leaf.

Just remember you can’t just start munching any flowers from the garden section, they need to be organic, not sprayed with chemicals and fertilizers. Which is why it’s best to try an grow your own ๐Ÿ’›

Recipe above : Spring time salad with edible flowers.

This made two bowls :

1 Large head of Romaine

1 Slice of Watermelon diced

1/2 Bell Pepper sliced

1 Cup Mandarin segments

1 Cup Peas ( I used frozen – defrosted)

A few springs of mint – separated.

Assorted edible flowers

Dressing:

Juice of a lemon

2-3 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive oil

A few sprigs of mint.

Pinch of salt.

Give everything fresh a good wash and pop all ingredients into a bowl.

For the dressing I like to give the mint leaves a good squash with a pestle and mortar just to relased some of the oils, then add lemon juice and oil. Give a good mix together and fish the rather beaten up mint back out. Season to taste and lightly dress the salad.

Another of my favourites lately is to pop the more herb like flowers into flavoured waters or lemonades. Lemon Lavender and mint is a sound favourite currently. ๐Ÿ’›

Or you know Cupcakes are never a bad move. So pretty. So natural ๐Ÿ’› Recipe coming soon for PB&J Cupcakes.

And finally I made this last weekend it’s an old faithful from the blog. Find the recipe here…

https://thelittlebluegarden.com/2017/03/01/some-days-you-just-need-a-cake-and-cuppa-butternut-squash-and-raisin-cake-with-orange-and-vanilla-bean-frosting/

I just think cakes decorated with real beautiful flowers are one of my all time favourite things. Just naturally stunning with no added artificial colours or flavours. I’m just in love with my little Nasturtiums. I urge you to give these little beauties a try, go outside and get growing. I promise you a garden is a gift that just keeps giving ๐Ÿ’›.

Dinner · Lunch · Picnic

Spring time salads! Massaged Kale and Herb Quinoa.ย 

So spring has hit in a big way in Florida! Everything is popping in colour and literally springing back into life. The Garden is in full bloom currently, with blossoms on the peach tree, flowers on the nasturtiums. Blooms on the garlic, ย and blueberries coming out in force. It’s a sight to behold and oh how I love it!

Keeping with spirit of spring and sunshine, all the abundance of fresh produce in the aunshine state right now has me in a constant state of happiness. I love when the Farmers Market are full to the brim of beautiful fresh greens and veggies. This week a particularly beautiful bunch of Cavolo Nero caught my eye. I love kale in all shapes and sizes but this has to be my ultimate favourite. And keeping it fresh and raw makes me happy in head heart and most importantly, tummy.

So let’s get started with a simple salad?

This serves two.

Recipe:

Quinoa:

1/2 Cup Quinoa

1 tbs Tahini

1/2 Tsp Herb de Provence

Salt.

Kale:

3 big Cups kale washed and chopped

Juice of a lemon

1/2 tsp Shoyu or Tamari

2 Tbs Tahini

2 Tbs Sweet Chili sauce

Toppings :

1 Pepper cut into strips

3 mandarins peeled and segmented

Edible flowers

Pumpkin Seeds

And fresh garden veggies you like.
Start by cooking the Quinoa according the the packet instructions. Mine takes about 2o minutes.

Half way through the Quinoa cooking time pop your Kale into a bowl and squeeze over the Lemon juice. Get your hands in and squish all the Kale together rubbing the leaves with the Lemon makes them lovely and tender. Massage it all together for a few minutes then rinse off the thick of the Lemon juice.

Dress the leaves with the Tamari, Tahini and Sweet Chili and mix again until it’s all covered.

By now the Quinoa should be nearly ready. Once it’s cooked and light and fluffy, drizzle in the Tahini , a pinch of salt and the herb de Provence. It’s one of my all time favourite spice blends and makes erything taste a little bit magic.

Pop the kale into bowls and top with the warm Quinoa. Add your other toppings at will.

I have to say, I just love to eat this out side!

Lunch · Picnic

Roasted Beetroot and Pear Salad.

With all of these colours all on one plate I can’t stop smiling. I love eating every colour of the rainbow. Not only does it look enticing and feel fresh , but I get a rather smug sense of virtuosity having polished off a delicious meal that my body will love too. This Salad is so easy but really rather elegant, it’s great for a lunch to share with friends…

I love Beetroot. I really do. Something my teenaged self would shudder at the thought of. Mainly because I associated it with the hideous crinkle cut, boiled to death ,pickled variety stuffed in many a sandwhich as a child. Still makes me cringe. But this wonderful little root enters a realm of its own when roasted. So sweet and earthy, it’s now up there as one of my all time favourites.

I was excited to spot the Golden Beetroot at my local Farmers Market  and couldn’t wait to get home and play with them. The colours are just so prefect, a direct contrast with each other but both hosting the same flavour. Just gorgeous. Ok. Sorry. Getting a bit intense over the whole Beetroot thing so I’ll get on with it.

This recipe served two but you can multiply it easily.

Recipe:

1 Pear

2 Golden Beetroot

2 Purple Beetroot

Oil of choice I used Avacado

Big bag of Greens

Handful of Maple Roast Pecans (recipe to follow )

Dressing

1 Orange

2 tsp Oil

1 tsp Maple Syrup

Pinch of Salt.

Preheat the oven to 400ยฐ. Wrap the Beetroot in foil. I kept the colours separate so they didn’t bleed into each other. Pop them in the oven for an hour. For the last 40 minutes of the cooking time chop the pear in half and give a little drizzle of Oil. Pop onto a roasting tray and into the oven.

Once everything’s cooked. Cool till you can handle them. Give the Beetroot a good rub with kitchen roll and then skin should just slide off. Then slice to show their  pretty little stripes.

Throw a load of Greens onto a serving dish and top with the sliced Beets. Pop your Pear on there too.

Give a final adornment of some Maple Roast Pecans.
Dressing.

For the dressing , zest and juice an Orange into a jar. Pop in a splash of oil (i used olive here ) and a tsp of Maple with a pinch of Salt. Give everything a good shake together. .

Baking · Picnic

Pea Pesto Plait Bread !

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Seeing all the different Breads at the Market the other day really had me inspired for about a million new recipes. There were all kinds of bread shapes and I couldn’t wait to get home and scribble down some ideas to play with.
I found organic flour here really quite easily too and I was always bringing “me friendly” yeast with me here. Erm hello Pizza.

So I played with this dough in hopes of making it a bit of a cross between my usual styles. I also had no measuring utensils here so it’s a pretty basic deal. I used Mugs and had already grabbed some Cheese free freshย  Pesto from the store (ultimate cheat ) thank you Italy. And a big batch of Pea pods that I had fun shelling. I’m sure frozen would work too though. I’ll try it and confirm when I’m home.

This turned out really pretty. I was quite proud of it. My Dad still wasn’t sold on the fact it had green in though. Still you can’t please them all. Everyone else liked it !
This is ideal for a picnic by the way. Or to dunk in some soup. I have to admit it was bliss tearing at it alfresco this evening.

Recipe:
2 1/2 Mugs of Flour (like an actual cup not a measuring one )
1 Mug Almond Milk (use the same mug)
1 Sachet Active Yeast
1tsp Sugar
1/4 Mug Olive oil
Salt
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Pesto :
1/ 2 tub of Fresh Pesto
1 1/2 Mug Fresh Peas
Lemon
Olive Oil

Ok. So dough first kiddos. Gently heat Almond milk to luke warm , pop in Sachet of yeast and then sprinkle sugar on top and leave it alone for 10 minutes.
Measure out flour into a bowl add a good sprinkle of Salt. When Almond milk is frothy (that is a word isn’t it ?)
Pour into flour along with your Oil.
Stir until it comes together and then start kneading a little by hand just till everything is all together and looking smooth and happy. Pop a tea towel over the bowl and leave it somewhere warm for an hour or two.
Come back and squash your dough back down to being nice and smooth letting all the excess air out. Let this rest a little while, while you make the Pesto.

I literally just chucked half a tub of pesto and all the peas into a blender with lemon zest and juice, a little extra salt and while the blender was running (it took a little while ) I added oil to make a thick paste. That’s it…

Then roll the dough out (Mine wasn’t the best as I was improvising with a wine bottle… I mean hey , it’s Italy.) Into a large rectangle paint happily with your Pesto mix. And fold in thirds.. like so

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Then cut this in two sections and roll them so the cut side is facing upward…

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Then attach them together at the top and wrap them over and under in a pattern , then connect again at the bottom.

Pop onto a roasting tray (I used non stick) and leave for another half hour to rise a little. While you Preheat the oven to 400ยฐ.
Once the oven is hot cook for 30-40 minutes until Golden on the edges.

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Baking · Picnic

Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Muffins.

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Picnic Season is in full flow in the sunshine state ! I have to say picnics are one of my all time favourite things. Any thing that combines sunshine, lying down , and food is always a win in my book. And I love coming with cute little individual servings for everyone. Keeping things portable and easily served at room temperature can sometimes be a little tricky though… But it’s all part of the fun! These savory little muffins went down well this weekend, and seemed to fit the bill. You can pile them up in a brown baggie and off you go !

Recipe :
1 Medium Sweet Potato
1 Large Red Pepper or three mini ones
Spray Oil
3 Tbs ground Flax
2 Cups Spelt Flour or Organic Flour
1.5 Tsp Baking powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Oil
1/2 Cup Milk of choice
2 Tbs Maple syrup
2ย  Tsp Paprika
1 Tbsย  Fresh Thyme (plus extra to decorate )
1 Clove Garlic
Salt

Preheat the oven to 400ยฐ. Peel and chop the Sweet potato into 1cm cubes. Chop Pepper too , spray with oil and toss with 1 ts Paprika. Pop in oven for 20 minutes or until soft through. We aren’t roasting them fully just making sure they’re soft.

Once they’re done lift out to cool and drop oven temp to 400ยฐ.
Line a muffin tin with papers.

Put flax seed in a little bowl and add 1/4 cup water and let that sit.
Put flour , baking powder and soda in a large bowl. Give it a light whisk to incorporate and remove any lumps from flour. Add in last tsp Paprika , grated garlic ,ย ย  Chopped Thyme and 1tsp Salt. Give another quick whisk.

In a seperate bowl pop oil (I used olive ) , milk (I used Almond ) and another 1/2 cup Water into a bowl and whisk in Maple syrup. At this point add this too your dry ingredients and add your flax mix too. Stir until combined , then stir through 2/3 of your Pepper and Sweet Potato mix.

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Put 2 tbs of mix in each muffin tin (Mine made 12 ).
Then top with the last 1/3 of Peppers and Sweet Potatoes and extra Thyme.

Baking · Picnic

Sundried Tomato Stuffed Foccacia

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So I don’t do alot of bread. So when I do its a treat. And today, we did it with style. A Sundried Tomato Stuffed beauty. I’m so happy with how this turned out. Just plain and simple flavors that really pack a punch. I don’t like it when things get too complicated. Simple suits me. No jokes about my ex boyfriends please.

So. Bread. It can be a pain in the ass bot to get right. But when you do , it’s so so worth it.. working with yeast is tempramental. But I start my bread a different way to others by starting the yeast first. I’ll show you what I did, it’s not then technical way of doing it but who’s going to know …. I’m not exactly inviting Paul Hollywood round for dinner.
Though I certainly wouldn’t say no…

Anyway. Bread.

Recipe:

500g Strong Flour
1 Sachet Fast Action Yeast
1 Tsp Salt
300ml Warm water
Sprinkle of Sugar

Filling recipe :
1/3 Cup Sundried Tomatoes + oil
Rosemary
Red onion

Topping :
Cherry tomatoes
Rosemary Red onion
Salt

Get 300mls of warm tap water into a jug. It needs to be warm but not hot. No kettles. Add your yeast and a little sprinkle of Sugar to get the Yeast to foam. Leave that to sit for a few minutes while you measure out your flour. ( You can use a stand mixer if you have the dough hook attachment. )
If not, we’re working by hand. Pop your salt in and then start adding your yeast mixture which is hopefully foamy now.
Stir it all together to make a dough with a spoon. Then once it forms a ball it’s going to need some kneading. A good 8-10 minutes worth !
(Though if your using a mixer it’ll probably be only half that).

Advice on kneading – you’re taking the ball of dough and your hand and using the heel of you hand to manipulate the dough underneath in one push then coming back on yourself to ball the dough up again and giving it another push. Continuously. Till your dough starts to spring back all on its own. Means all the gluten in activated.
Once you can poke a little hole in the dough and have it raise back. Your good to go. Pop it into a well floured dish and leave it to rest and rise for an hour.

When I came back my dough had exploded, it was more than double the size and that’s a good sign.
Squish all the air out and pop it onto a well floured board or surface and get rolling. Unless you’re skipping the filling step – if you’re skipping this bit , just shape as you like and decorate.

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I rolled mine into a large rectangle about 1/3 inch thick. I toppes half withย  chopped Sundried Tomatoes a little of their oil , a sprinkle of Rosemary and a few bits of red onion.

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Now this bit is important. Fold the other side , over and then under the filling side. You don’t want any seams at the side of the bread , you want them underneath. 1 ) So it doesn’t pop open when it cooks , 2) so it looks pretty and not like some weird sandwhich.
Pinch it to seal well. So it’s all hidden like this :

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Then slide onto an oiled baking tray.ย  Preheat the oven to 450ยฐ.

Now to decorate ! I make little wells with my fingers and filled them with half of Cherry Tomatoes and little sprigs of Rosemary. I then did a quick sprinkle of Red onion slices and splashed on more oil from thr Sundried Tomatoes. I added some finishing salt here too.

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Once the oven is hot , pop in for 15-17 minutes. It might need turning part way through to brown evenly.

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I served this still a little warm in large chunks.