"No love sincerer than the love of food"


Nuts about Curried Pasta Salad

Photo 07-06-2013 18 11 33

I decided to take part in this months Pasta Please challenge hosted by Lavender and Lovage on a whim. Unlike lots of the food bloggers I avidly follow, I  am not adept at creating wonderful recipes from scratch, but I am a decent tweaker and if I find a basic recipe I like then I am happy to tamper with it to make it my own.

This challenge was to create a pasta dish using nuts.  Pesto was the obvious choice but I decided to go out on a limb with a curried pasta salad with lovely sweet cashew nuts.  After finding a suitable recipe to mess around with on the BBC Good Food site (never fails me) I set about making something to serve to the girls in my book group that evening.  I say book group but we normally forget to mention the book until just before we head off home and this week most people hadn’t actually bothered to read the book!  Wine and gossip my friends, that’s all it is.

A few fellow food bloggers seemed sceptical about the curried pasta salad concept but I held firm.  I love curry, I love pasta, I love nuts – it would be fine ….  surely.

I am delighted to say that it was a big hit with the girls who gobbled it all up and asked for the recipe.  It had quite a nice after-burn with the crunchy celery, cucumber and nuts working brilliantly with the dish.

Girls gobbling up the pasta

Girls gobbling up the pasta



  • 225g pasta – I used penne but I guess swirly pasta (technical term)  or bows would be just as nice
  • 4 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of curry powder ( perhaps add one then taste and add more if you need to)
  • 150g pot natural yogurt
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 2 tbsp hot mango chutney (I discovered this in ALDI, it is rather hot, feel free to use normal mango chutney)
  • 50g sultanas
  • 15g pack coriander, chopped
  • ½ cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • Great big handful of cashew nuts!


  • Cook the pasta al dente, drain and stir in a little olive oil then cool ( I find the olive oil keeps the pasta from sticking together)
  • In a bowl add the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice and mango chutney and mix well
  • When the pasta is cooled add the sauce and all of the other ingredients
  • Sprinkle over a little more coriander and serve

pasta please

1 Comment

An Alternative Lunch Box

In these austere times you will no longer find me in the queue in Pret eyeing up a deluxe bento box and a lemon cheesecake pot.  These days I trot off to work sporting a spotty lunch bag containing all the goodies I need for the day – prepared by my own fair hand that very morning.

Sandwiches are of course a lunch box staple and few would disagree that with an endless choice of fillings they are tasty and simple to prepare. Sarnies day after day can get a bit on the tedious side however and so I like to mix it up a bit with easy to prepare lunchbox alternatives.

Here are some of my favourites, why not give them a try and get out of your cheese and pickle rut!


I absolutely love couscous, partly because I am lazy and it is stupidly simple to prepare but mostly because it compliments some of my favourite flavours.  This has to be one of my favourite lunch box meals.  I often make it with left over chicken from the night before and if there is no chicken kicking about then I have also substituted  it for either avocado or tinned tuna.cous cous

Measurements are a bit vague and you can add a pinch more of this and a splash more of that depending on your own tastes.

Make couscous  according to pack instructions ( I often do this the night before and pop it into the fridge)

In the morning add the following to your cous cous (based on cous cous for two people) :  handful of pine nuts, juice of one lemon, generous glug of olive oil, nice pinch of cayenne, teaspoon of cumin, half teaspoon of cinnamon, handful of sultanas, shredded chicken and some chopped mint if you have some.

Mix it all up and pop it straight into your lunch box – honestly it takes 5 minutes.


When I’m making dinner I will sometimes pop some chunks of Mediterranean  veg into a roasting tin along with AUBERGINEgarlic and a decent splash of olive oil,  so that I can throw this lovely lunch together the following morning. Aubergine, red onion, courgette, peppers – any combo of these vegetables will do.

Make your cous cous according to packet instructions and roast your chosen veg – chopped up into good-sized chunks –  with some garlic and a generous splash of olive oil until they are gloriously sweet and sticky. Once roasted and cooled, pop into the fridge. ( I do all of this the night before)

In the morning add some chopped basil,  juice of half a lemon,  a handful of chopped olives and a good glug of olive oil to your cous cous, mix it all together and top with the beautifully roasted vegetables.


Okay okay so this is technically a sandwich of sorts but I am including it because it is super-duper tasty.  It is my take on coronation chicken.

Left over roast chicken or a couple of roast chicken fillets cut into smallish chunks, flesh from half a mango cut into small chunks, 2 spring onions, about 2 tbs of mayonnaise and one tbs of natural yogurt, a hearty pinch of curry powder (half teaspoon)

Mix well and serve in mini pitta’s with a bit of rocket to green it up a bit


I am new to cold beans.  For most of my life the concept has seemed plain odd,  and besides beans  have a weird texture – like chewing material. BEANS At least that is what I used to think.  Oddly I tried them a couple of years ago and now can’t get enough of them.  This is a simple tasty bean recipe that I often make for our lunch boxes.  You might have gathered by now that I adore food with a bit of a kick so no surprise then that there is and element of spice involved.

Tin of mixed salad beans in water, juice of a lemon, half teaspoon of cumin and a pinch of cayenne pepper, half an onion very finely chopped, the obligatory glug of olive oil, a small handful of coriander chopped. 

Mix all the ingredients together and either serve next to some tinned tuna or mix the tinned tuna up with the rest of the bean extravaganza.

As ever my own recipes are a little vague on the measurement front but these are simple throw together concoctions which can cope with variance here and there.

I am always looking for new ideas for lunches so if you have a sarnie alternative that you love – let me know?  I will give it a whirl.

photo credit: <a href=””>Mahesh Telkar</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”“>ルーク.チャン.チャン</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=””>kugel</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

Leave a comment

Souper Food


Sophisticated soup with swirls of this and shavings of that, hearty thick soups which flirt on the boundaries of stew, homely soups that transport you back to childhood, fusion soups which embrace exciting global flavours, chilled soups to refresh the palate – don’t you just love soup?

Anybody who claims not to like soup is simply talking nonsense in my opinion.  With such a range of flavours and textures available it is simply impossible not to have at least a few favourites.

Soup is bloody brilliant, not only can it taste amazing but it is almost always cheap, quick and simple to make and best of all it is light on the old calorie front. I declare soup an official Souper Food.

There are very few things in life that I genuinely think I am good at, but making soup is one of them.  I do use recipes but this is one of the few areas where I am truly comfortable freestyling.  Here are some of my favourite soups at this moment in time.


This was the first soup I ever made and I am afriad the recipe is sketchy as truth be told I have no idea of quantities, it most likely changes a little every time I make it.  It seemed rather foolhardy to embark on my first soup making attempt with no recipe book to guide me but I thought I had tasted enough lentil soup to give it a bash.

 Ingredients and Method  

Melt a generous amount of butter in a pot with onions and  one or two bulbs of garlic and then added red lentils, tomatoe puree and some rosemary from the garden.  Covered the lot with stock for half an hour or so then blend.  Voila! 

It was a lentil soup that sang.   I think the ridiculous amount of butter, lots of garlic and tomato puree give it a slightly different flavour to some others. This is a family favourite and has received a big thumbs up from all who have tried it.


I tried this out a few weeks ago for the first time when a friend popped round for lunch.  It’s taken from a recipe book but there was no coconut involved in the original.  I think my addition improves the taste and texture immensely. The book is called GI Meals Made Easy by Dr Barbara Wilson (yes I am still on that particular wagon!)

Ingredients: tbs olive oil. tsp mustard seeds, 1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 400g sweet potato chopped up, 1 red chilli chopped, 1/2 tsp fenugreek, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1tsp turmeric, 150g red lentils, can chopped tomatoes, 400 ml veg stock, can of light coconut milk, small bunch of corriander.


Heat oil in pan and add mustard seeds until they pop then add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or so.

Add sweet potato to pan along with chilli and spices and cook until you get that lovely aromatic smell.

Add the lentils and tomatoes and pour in the stock, season and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the coconut milk at the end and cook for a few minutes before blending, sprinkle with fresh corriander.


I made this soup for the first time just this week after buying an extra squash in the weekly shop.  I happened to have a bundle of sage kicking about in the fridge and reckoned that these lovely wintry flavours would compliment each other beautifully.  The result was a lovely thick soup with a gorgeous sweet flavour.  I hope I can replicate it again in the future as it is absolutely delicious.

Ingredients:  one squash chopped up, 1 onion, bundle of sage, clove of garlic (squashed), vegetable stock (mmm sketchy on the amount of stock but enough to cover everthing and an inch more).


I popped the squash, squashed garlic and sage leaves into a roasting tin with some olive oil and cooked at 180 for around an hour, until they were all roasted, browned and sticky. 

Once roasted chop an onion and cook in a little oil until nice and soft, then add the roasted squash along with all the residues of garlic, sage and lovely juices

Add the vegetable stock and simmer for around 20 minutes then blend.


Despite being a soup lover I am one of those people who in the past has always thought that soup didn’t hit the mark for special occasions or dinner parties.  However my no nonsense approach to Christmas dinner over the last few years (see Easy like Christmas Morning post) has led me right back to soup and made me realise that it can be just as stunning as any other  starter.  Just before Christmas a good friend gave me a huge bag of porcini mushrooms which her grandmother had picked and dried herself  (what a treat!!).  I was beyond delighted and decided that it would be the basis for my Christmas day starter – wild mushroom soup.

The recipe for this soup can be found at –   I only used chestnut mushrooms and porcini for this recipe which calls for a mix of wild mushrooms.  It tasted absolutely devine though and I have since wheeled it out for friends on several occasions where it has met universal approval.

I hope that you will try one of these lovely soups. I am also really keen to find out what your favourite soups are and maybe gather some new recipes along the way too.


photo credit: <a href=””>sea turtle</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=””>artizone</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=””>yumievriwan</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Leave a comment

Spicy Bean Quesadilla

As easy as it is tasty

As easy as it is tasty

Don’t you sometimes yearn for something to eat at the end of the day which sets your taste buds tingling?  Yet more often than not you have neither the time or the energy to muster a masterpiece.

My Spicy Bean Quesadillas score very high on taste and don’t entail slaving over a stove – hot or otherwise.

My hardest days of the week are those spent running around after my lovely but ever so demanding wee girl.  It is on these days, when I am virtually on my knees by 6 o’clock, that this recipe comes to my rescue.  A once-a-week favourite at The Grumbling Tummy HQ.

It started life as ‘Refried Bean Fold Over’ from my well-thumbed copy of  Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s superb  ‘River Cottage Veg Everyday’.  Although the original recipe was perfectly lovely, I have tweaked and twisted it a fair bit along the way.  Hugh used pinto beans, has no lime juice or coriander in his recipe.  I guess most importantly,  he does not give his recipe the quesadilla  treatment.

Big thanks to Hugh for giving me all the nuts and bolts of this fantastic spicy treat.

So without further ado here is the recipe:


One red onion, 3 good-sized tomatoes halved,  a large can of beans  –  Hugh uses pinto beans but I often opt for Kidney beans –  both nice, a good handful of chopped coriander, couple of cloves of garlic, half  a red chilli,  the juice of half a lime,  a pinch of cayenne pepper, soft tortilla wraps (6), cheese ( as much as you like really), sour Cream


Chop and fry the onion until soft

Add the garlic and the chilli 

Life is not too short to grate a tomato

Life is not too short to grate a tomato

After a few minutes take off the heat and grate the flesh of the tomatoes straight into the cooking pot – discarding the skins.  Life may be too short to stuff a mushroom but it is not too short to grate a tomato, so don’t be tempted to chop rather than grate.  It takes seconds! Return to the heat and cook for a few minutes until the juices thicken a little then add in your drained beans and the juice of half a limeGet a tattie masher and mush it all up – I like to leave it a bit chunky but this is personal tasteAdd a pinch of cayenne and the chopped coriander and stir

Spoon this  lovely spicy bean mixture onto the three wraps and smother with grated cheese.

Pop another wrap on top and then shallow fry for a few minutes on each side until browned and crispy.

Serve with salad and sour cream.


Smashing Pumpkins

The lovely bright orange leaves are now falling from the tree outside our bedroom window,  signalling that winter is just around the corner.

As the weather gets colder, BC’s nose is officially on snow alert (he swears he can actually predict snowfall by smell) .   For me hat and scarf weather means dragging out the soup pot to cook up some lovely hearty soups to warm both body and soul.

As the shops are full of pumpkins at the moment I thought I might try my hand at pumpkin soup.  My mum brought me an old ‘Maggie’s Centre’ recipe book just the other week and it was here that I found a fabulous fiery soup recipe to experiment with (out of pumpkin season you can make this soup with butternut squash and I’m sure it would be just as tasty).

Here’s how it’s done:

Chop up a pumpkin and boil it until soft then mash it up

Fry up an onion, a couple of garlic cloves, quarter or half a red chilli (depends how hot you like it) and around half a teaspoon of grated ginger  for  a few minutes until the onion is nice and soft.

Add the mashed pumpkin along with a splash of Worcester sauce, 1/2 a beef stock cube, a teaspoon of sugar and four cups of vegetable stock to the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes or so.  Add 1/4 of a pint of single cream a few minutes before the end.

Then liquidise or blitz with your hand blender, and voila!  A little smattering of parsley to bring it all together and you will have yourself a lovely fiery seasonal soup.

The verdict:

Empty plates all round and seconds served up for BC.  A winner set to become a staple in my winter repertoire.

I suppose the ideal scenario is to cleverly carve out all of your pumpkin flesh, leaving behind a shell from which to carve out a fabulous pumpkin lantern to delight your kids with.  At Grumbling HQ we are sadly not that clever (although it is not from the lack of trying).  We did start out with this in mind but it was a bit of a hatchet job to be honest.  So I am sadly off to Asda now to source a plastic lantern with good old battery power.

Try out the soup and have a smashing pumpkin filled Halloween


In praise of porridge

PORRIDGE: “chiefly British a dish consisting of oatmeal or another meal or cereal boiled in water or milk” (Oxford English dictionary)

GRUEL: “a thin liquid food of oatmeal or other meal boiled in milk or water.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

Remarkably similar descriptions aren’t they? Grey, glutinous, gloop. I have had a dim view of porridge for most of my adult life. And yet my family have historically been fans of this ‘breakfast of champions’.

My Grandpa ate a bowl of porridge every morning along with a portion of prunes to keep him ‘regular’ , which says it all really!. The porridge was made with water and not sweetened but instead seasoned with a pinch of salt – real porridge for real men. My Dad is also a fan of porridge. Mum routinely prepared a batch in the trusty slow cooker of an evening where it would happily gloopify all night long ready to be dished up for breakfast. Again it was a strictly water and salt affair.

Tampering with this tried and tested formula was sneered at and so I chose sugar puffs. However this blog is in praise of porridge; for despite the shaky start to my education in porridge, I am now an avid fan.

The first indication I had that porridge need not be a form of torture was during a stint working as a chamber maid in Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel, where the breakfast menu included “porridge laced with brandy and double cream”, sounded tasty.

However, it is not until recently that I have fully embraced this oaty feast, and now that I am out of ‘sneer’ shot of my family I feel free to tamper with “real man’s porridge”.

Here are my current favourite porridge combinations: Grab a couple of handfuls of porridge oats and chuck em’ in the pan along with milk, cinnamon, sultanas and a very generous drizzle of honey. Cook on a slow heat until nice and smooth (not gloopy) and pour – voila! Healthy and tasty. I often add chopped banana, a handful of blueberries or chopped nuts at the end, depending on how the mood takes me.

Not sure if it is correct to include my cold oaty brekkie in an article about porridge, but its my blog so I shall. It is adapted from traditional Swiss Bircher Museli. Before going up to bed, I throw a good couple of handfuls of porridge oats and sultanas into a bowl and add apple juice – just enough to cover. The next morning I stir a nice big teaspoon of honey and enough yogurt to give it a nice smooth (not too runny) consistency. Again, depending on what takes my fancy on the day, I finish by adding a combination of grated apple, chopped banana, blueberries and nuts.

There are lots of simple recipe ideas out there for both porridge and bircher but I suggest you just freestyle on this one, it makes breakfast much more of an adventure.

So let’s hear it for porridge – my breakfast of champions!!