Wednesday, December 26, 2012

mushroom and rice bake

I recently made Nigel Slater's Baked Mushrooms and Rice dish. It was a hit and has been made again and again since. Very simple to make, it is a great vegetarian alternative to a Sunday roast.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

kale crisps

Back in April, tempted by the farmer's warning that this was the last weekend for kale, we bought as much as we could carry. Returning home, we soon realised that we had been a little over enthusiastic and so after searching through some of our favourite websites discovered a recipe for Kale Crisps  over on My New Roots.

This recipe is the perfect way to eat this superfood. All you need is a few simple ingredients (lemon, maple syrup, sesame seeds, olive oil, salt and tamari) and a big bunch of kale to make a delicious and healthy version of Britain's favourite snack.

The key here is the massaging of the kale, as this breaks down the structure of the leaf which is notorious for being tough.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

lentil soup

Recently we tried this Coconut Red Lentil Soup recipe from 101 Cookbooks and it became an instant favourite. Over the past few weeks we have made this at least two nights a week, and made a version of it many times while on holiday in Scotland recently. It is a great dish to adapt depending on what you have at hand. It can be stripped right back to just lentils, tomato puree and some spices or can be made more elaborate. Variations have included using puy lentils and omitting the coconut milk, adding more tomato puree and celery, adding brown rice or barley - the options are endless. It is very filling and really holds heat, so is perfect for the extended winter weather here in London (just be careful not to burn your tongue like we seem to do every single time).

stewed apples

We pick up a bag of apples or two at our local farmer's market most weeks. Sometimes we buy more than we can eat raw, so we stew them with cinnamon and use them throughout the week with breakfast, as snacks, or as a base for desserts. I like to take a small tupperware container of stewed apple mixed with almonds to work. It also tastes lovely warmed up on the stove and served with some fresh yoghurt, seeds, nuts and honey.

Monday, April 2, 2012

spiced butternut squash and chickpeas

This is a version of the Spiced Sweet Potato and Chickpea dish from Sprouted Kitchen but with butternut squash replacing the sweet potatoes and leeks added. It is a really warming bowl of food, and fills you up very quickly. It would also be great in summer served cool, perhaps alongside some rocket drizzled in lemon juice or fresh avocado.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Most weeks we make a curry. Usually we use cauliflower with peas and onion, served with brown rice and seeds (sunflower, sesame, linseed). Sometimes we use aubergine and tomatoes. It is a really versatile meal, and you can always add or subtract vegetables depending on what is in season or what is left in the fridge. Our way of cooking it is probably not very traditional or typical, and is perhaps closer to a stir fry, but it tastes good, is thrifty and pretty healthy too. The great thing with this kind of dish is you can make a lot and it will just get better the next day.

For a while we would used standard pre-mixed curry powders for flavouring, but recently decided to make our own curry paste. A quick google search mid-cook led to Jamie Oliver's Easy Homemade Curry Paste recipes. All are very simple, based around standard ingredients such as garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, oil, perhaps a dash of almond meal, tomato paste or shredded coconut... anyway you get the idea. This is a perfect mid-week recipe and the leftovers make for a cheap, delicious, filling lunch the next day. Beat's Pret every time.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

black bean enchilidas

This is a quick, simple and tasty meal. We made our own enchilada sauce using olive oil, a touch of plain flour, chilli powder, cumin, tomato paste, garlic and sea salt. Combine pre-soaked black beans, 2 grated carrots, 1 grated courgette, 1/2 sliced onion with half the sauce and mix. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture onto your base - we used rye mountain bread. Roll up in baking pan and once they are all done cover with half of the leftover sauce. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 180 degrees, adding the rest of the sauce halfway. Goes really well with ginger beer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

roast winter veggies

Really simple, but really packs a punch. Butternut squash, red onion and whole garlic cloves with parsnip and some new (to us) kind of broccoli we found at our farmers market (broccolini?). Cut, brush with oil and a little sea salt to taste and roast for a bit longer than you think is necessary, those extra few minutes can really bring out the sweetness in the squash.

Best served alongside fresh flowers.

butternut, mushroom and sage lasagna

This is a delicious recipe I got from a fellow expat colleague, takes a while to get all the bits together ready to cook but well worth the time you put in. I roasted the squash in oil, fried some mushrooms in butter and garlic and boiled some spinach. To make the white sauce I infused the milk (I used goats milk) by simmering it with half an onion and a few sage leaves before adding white flour and some salt. For next time I would triple the amount of white sauce as it's the means of softening the pasta sheets. Put it all together and into the oven.

Perfect with a hearty aussie shiraz!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

soy and ginger tofu

Another Plenty recipe - the best one yet. Black Soy Tofu served with brown wholegrain rice, honestly the best tofu we have ever tasted.

Recipe summary: Take some firm tofu and coat with flour (cornflour works best but we just used plain). Fry in batches until golden and set aside. Fry sliced ginger and shallots in butter until done and add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, honey, sea salt and pepper. Add tofu to the mix and coat in the sauce. Sounds very humble, but it was truly amazing.

sugar-free apple cakes

After recently cutting out sugar, I've been looking for some healthy dessert options. One of my favourite bloggers (and soon to be nutritionist) Vliin came to the rescue with an excellent apple cake recipe. See the original here.

Mine was a mish-mash version using whatever I had on hand (which surprisingly was almost everything the recipe required, yay for a well stocked pantry). I combined an organic, free range egg with almond meal, coconut oil, marmalade, baking soda, cinnamon, (real) butter, one chopped up apple, some stewed apple I had leftover, some vanilla essence, cranberries and a touch of honey. For quantities I vaguely followed Vliin's recipe and then just trusted my instincts. They turned out to be really delicious, moist, muffin-like cakes that were even better the next day. A quick and easy way to satisfy any junk-food craving.

pasta and courgette salad

Dinner from last Thursday. Again, a recipe from Plenty but with a few slight changes. Ottolenghi has the best flavour combinations, but his recipes often require a long list of spices and other additions. Most of them we have on hand, but sometimes we choose to substitute alternatives to save money or to make the meal a little healthier. In this case, we used spelt pasta rather than white pasta and reduced the amount of cheese.

Recipe summary: Fry thinly sliced courgettes until golden brown and drizzle with red wine vinegar, set aside. Blanch some frozen edamame beans and add to courgettes. Put some fresh basil and parsley with a touch of sea salt and drizzle of olive oil into a food processor and mix until you create a pesto-like sauce. Set aside. Cut up some cheese (we used home-made goat's milk ricotta, recipe in previous post, but Ottolenghi recommends buffalo mozzarella) and set aside. Cook pasta, drain, and add the courgettes, edamame beans, pesto, cheese and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Essentially this is just a fancier version of regular pesto pasta, but as each stage is isolated it is very simple to make. Also keeps well if made ahead.

butternut squash patties

Last week we made our own version of a Sunday Roast by adapting Ottolenghi's Sweet Potato Patties recipe from Plenty to take advantage of the wonderful butternut squash available at our local farmer's market.

Recipe summary: Roast butternut squash then mash with some flour and chives and some olive. Form into patties and cook in a frying pan. Great as a side or as a main served with green vegetables (we chose blanched sprout tops and roasted organic free-range chicken breasts, all from the farmer's market). Ottolenghi suggests serving with sour cream, but we omitted that and it was still very delicious.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

goat's milk ricotta

Recipe from My New Roots

Last Sunday we made goat's milk ricotta for the first time. It was really easy once we heat the milk enough to make it curdle, our first attempt saw the liquid drain straight through the cheesecloth. The ricotta went very well with roasted pear and grapes, drizzled with some honey, sea salt and black pepper, and kept in the fridge for a few days afterwards. Definitely a new staple.