Thursday, 17 September 2015

Lancashire leek tart


Pastry: 4oz plain flour, 2oz butter
Filling: 3 eggs, 1 large leek, 2 tsp French mustard, 100g Lancashire cheese.

Serves: 4-6 Preparation: X

My husband loves a good tart. Fnar fnar... And he has very exacting standards, so when I say that this tart made it into the top 5 meals that I have made for him during our years together, that should tell you just how savoury and scrumptious it is. It aint so much to look at, but it really tastes like heaven.

1) To make the shortcrust pastry, cut the butter into small cubes and drop along with the flour into a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Drip in 2-3 tablespoons of cold water until the mixture quickly forms a ball. Wrap this in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 15 minutes. Once chilled, roll out and press firmly into a buttered pastry case. Bake blind for 10 minutes and set aside to cool.

2) Slice the top and tail from the leek, slice in half and then slice thinly. Sautee in a pan with a little knob of butter until soft.

3) Whisk the eggs and mustard together and crumble in half of the cheese.

4) Spoon the leeks into the tart case and pour over the egg and cheese mix, adding the remainder to the top then bake in a pre-heated oven at gas mark 5 for 30-40 minutes. The tart should be solid, rather than wobbly in the centre with a golden surface.

5) Serve hot or cold.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Gluten, dairy & sugar free chocolate cake


150ml coconut or olive oil, 50g raw cocoa powder 100ml boiling water, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 150g ground almonds, ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda 1/4 tsp salt, 200g coconut palm sugar, 3 large eggs.

Serves: (whoever you love enough to share it with) Preparation: 1 hour

Whether we like it or not, food intolerancy is a thing. A very big thing. Whether you believe that it's through years and years of poisoning our bodies with chemicalised and processed foods or some sort of voodoo, we all know far more people these days who have to be careful about what they eat.  

This recipe is adapted from a gluten and dairy free Nigella cake to make it sugar free and a little less moist than her slightly flabby flourless cake. It is absolutely DELICIOUS and the texture is FABULOUS. For any gluten free person who has made you eat a polenta cake or some other mad textured cake, do share this and tell them to put down the xantham gum because all is not lost.

1) Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3 (170 degrees) and grease a 9 or 10 inch springform tin with a little oil. I have also made this split into two mini 4 inch cake tins and it works perfectly.

2) Sift the cocoa powder into a bowl and whisk the boiling water and vanilla extract in until you have a smooth chocolate paste. Try not to eat it immediately, you get to lick the bowl after...

3) Measure out the ground almonds, bicarb of soda and salt into one bowl and the sugar, oil and eggs into another, then whisk the latter thoroughly for 3-4 minutes until you have a thickened, aerated and emulsified liquid.

4) Add the cocoa and vanilla paste and beat thoroughly, then add the almond mixture a little at a time.

5) Don't panic about the consistency, this is a liquid batter. Make sure your cake tin base is in the right way round (we've all done it but this cake is considerably less delicious when eaten off the floor of your oven...) and pour in the batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, has a bit of a wobble to it. I usually give the oven door a bit of a kick and if it wibbles alarmingly, give it another ten minutes or so. When you stick a skewer in it should come out with a few sticky crumbs clinging to it rather than a smear of batter but be warned, this cake rises up beautifully and then sinks back a bit so if you skewer it before it's ready, it's going to sink faster than the Titanic! The good news is that this cake is FABULOUS eaten hot with ice-cream, or leave it to cool in the tin until you're ready to scoff it.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Coconut grain salad


1 can chickpeas, 1 cup pearl cous-cous, 150ml coconut cream, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 can puy lentils.

Serves: 4 Preparation: 20 minutes

It is a truth universally acknowledged that coconut is one of the best things ever. In a world where I do not give my family refined sugar and limit dairy products; coconut palm sugar, coconut blossom syrup and coconut oil, water and milk are constantly on our grocery list. When I was pregnant I consumed so much coconut water that I am not remotely surprised that my son is hopelessly addicted to it. That and it tastes like breastmilk.  

ANYWAY! This salad is subtle and lovely, an extremely lazy nod to rice and peas (one of my favourite dishes at Soul Kitchen - my review here) and super quick to make. Do excuse the slight grey tone of the picture, it was a VERY gloomy day!

1) Add the pearl cous-cous to a pan along with the coconut milk, cumin and thyme.

Bring to the boil and after about 8 minutes, turn off the heat, stir through and add the drained puy lentils and chickpeas.

3) The liquid should have cooked off, leaving just a gloss of coconut but if not, drain through a sieve before serving. I like to add a little black pepper and salt 

Quinoa, chickpea, pomegranate & artichoke cream salad


Quinoa, jar of marinated artichokes, pomegranate, can of chickpeas.
Serves: X Preparation: X

Once upon a time, I was completely obsessed with artichoke cream. From slathering it on bread to swirling linguine into it, it could do no wrong as far as I was concerned. This creation was born of "oh no, lunch is in 15 minutes and all I have is a pomegranate until the market delivers my fresh produce!" panic. I always have cans of chickpeas in the cupboard (there is no emergency that cannot be fixed with hummus. It is the new cup of tea) and jars full of different grains and with this satisfying salad, I'm very glad that I do!

1) Soak the quinoa for 5 minutes and rinse well in a sieve. Depending on where you buy it, it naturally has an acrid coating called saponin which you don't want flavouring your food!

2) Cover the quinoa in slightly salted water or stock if you wish and bring to the boil for about 15 minutes, stir continually as it soaks up the water and fluffs up, then remove from the heat. Drain the chickpeas and add to the mix. 

3) Pour the jar of artichoke into a blender. Personally I prefer to drain away the oil it's marinated in first and just add a little of it, but you can in fact use all of the oil if you wish. Blitz thoroughly until a smooth, emulsified cream forms.

4) Stir some of the cream into the quinoa - just enough to dress it rather than turn it into soup! 

5) Slice your pomegranate in half, hold it over a bowl (cut side down...) and them smack it repeatedly with a wooden spoon or ladle until all of the beautiful jewels have dropped out. Sprinkle onto your salad and serve, hot or cold.

Sweet potato, black bean and kale chilli‏


1 large sweet potato, 1 can black beans, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 glass red wine, 100ml passata, 100g kale, 1 red onion, 1 stalk celery, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, olive oil, 2 cloves garlic.

Serves: 4 Preparation: 30 minutes

In the past, I have shared recipes on this blog using Quorn as a meat substitute but since I made the lifestyle choice to no longer eat any kind of processed/pre-prepared foods I have been replacing this occasional protein source with more beans and pulses and grains. Much healthier, a nicer texture, simple to prepare and utterly delicious. This chilli is the most magnificent comfort food and is wonderful served with rice, tortilla chips or in a flour or lettuce leaf burrito.

1) Peel and dice the sweet potato and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

Finely dice the onion and add it to a pan along with the olive oil. Sizzle until soft, then add the garlic (minced). Add the herbs, spices and wine and cook off the liquid.

3) Add the passata, beans and sweet potato and stir through. Remove the hard stalk of the kale, discard, then blitz the leaves in your food processor. Add to the pan and cook until softened.

4) I like my food spicy, so I like to add a couple of teaspoon of chipotle chilli paste, but there should be enough kick from the paprika for those who value the skin on their tongue...

Beetroot, olive & broccoli bolognaise‏


1 small onion, half a stick of celery, a handful of fresh or oil marinated olives - never the rubbery brined ones! 1/2 a head of broccoli, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1 small beetroot, spaghetti, red wine, 100ml passata, 1 clove garlic.

Serves: 4 Preparation: 20 minutes

I have always been rather excited by raw foodism. Partly due to OCD (the idea that I am not getting EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE nutrient from my food ALL THE TIME can be somewhat crippling during my wiggier moments) and partly because HEY SO DELICIOUS. Baby Led Weaning meant that my son had a good grounding in the individual flavours of different ingredients before he experienced more complex meals and I learned to appreciate how gorgeous simple food could be. This isn't actually a raw recipe, but it's inspired by no-fuss, simple flavours working so very well together.

1) Blitz the celery, onion and garlic in your food processor and tip into a pan. Add a little olive oil and sizzle until soft) 

Add the broccoli and olives to the food processor and blitz until reduced to the size of breadcrumbs. Grate the beetroot (I just pull out the blade spindle and add the grater blade to my food processor so it's all contained in one bowl.) and then add to the pan of softened onions and celery.

3) I like to add a little red wine along with the passata tomatoes and herbs, but this is entirely according to taste. Cook for just as long as it takes for your spaghetti to boil (8-12 minutes depending on the type of spaghetti) and drain.

4) Add the pasta to the pan and stir through. Serve hot (with a sprinkle of parmesan if you aren't vegetarian)

Pumpkin pancakes


1/2 can pumpkin puree, 1 egg, 1 1/4 cup self-raising flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1 tbsp honey, agave or maple syrup.

Serves: 4 Preparation: 15 minutes

Scotch pancakes (or American style) are a big favourite in this house. On those mornings when I have totally forgotten to put the Overnight Oats in the fridge the day before, it's great to grab an egg and just chuck in some flour, flavour, something wet and a few minutes of whisking later, the griddle is sizzling with perfect little dollops of impending deliciousness. These pumpkin pancakes are so very perfect for this time of year; Autumn is coming and comfort foods are on the horizon. They're also sugar free and low in fat. I quite often use low gluten flours like spelt or buckwheat and add a bit of baking powder instead of self-raising - get experimenting!

1) Crack the egg into a bowl and give it a whisk.

2) Add the spices, pumpkin puree and your choice of sweetness. Whisk again.

3) Add the flour and whisk thoroughly to ensure that the batter is smooth. It should be of a thick, dropping consistency, so add a little extra flour if necessary.

4) Drop a tablespoon at a time of the batter onto a hot griddle or non-stick frying pan
. When tiny bubbles begin to work their way through the batter, slide a fish slice under the pancake and flip over. Press lightly to ensure they're evenly cooked, then transfer to a wire cooling rack or stack straight onto the plate. Gorgeous hot or cold.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Raw gluten free vegan chocolate & coconut cookies


1 cup ground almonds, 1/2 cup dessicated coconut, 1 tbsp cashew butter, 1/4 cup Planet Organic chocolate coconut butter (or 1 tbsp ground cacao nibs, 1/2 cup coconut oil) 10 dates.
Serves: 24 Preparation: 10 minutes

Do you ever have a craving for something sweet? Rather than reach for some hideous, unhealthy snack food from a vending machine because it's there RIGHT NOW ALREADY, take 10 minutes to prepare these delicious, soft, nutty crumbly sweet morsels of completely sin-free pleasure. If you are dairy or gluten free or, like me, don't give your child sugar or processed foods then these will be right up your street. So quick, so simple, so so good.

1) Put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz thoroughly until sticky crumbs form.

2) Press firmly into ice cube trays or silicone moulds, then remove and eat! These are good when stored in tupperware in a cool, dark place for about a month before they start to dry out a little.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Linguine with wild garlic pesto & plum tomatoes


100g wild garlic, 100g fresh basil, 50ml olive oil, parmigiano, 1/2 lemon, 50g pine nuts, linguine, tomatoes.
Preparation: 5-10 minutes

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me recently posting about foraging for wild garlic pesto but I have finally got around to actually updating here! I love wild garlic. It's so vibrantly green and though every bit as pungent as garlic bulbs, when eaten raw it does not have that same sting of heat. When I was pregnant with The Starchild I swapped garlic bulbs for wild garlic on many an occasion to avoid getting heartburn. This dish is so fresh and glorious and ridiculously quick and simple to make.

1) Put the pasta on to boil and slice the tomatoes into quarters.

Add the basil and wild garlic to a mortar bowl and grind to a fine pulp. You can use a blender if you wish of course.

Add the pine nuts, olive oil and grated parmeggian and grind thoroughly, adding lemon juice to taste, and if you wish a pinch of salt though personally I find the parmigiano and wild garlic take care of the savoury notes.

4) Drain the pasta and stir in a few spoons of pesto, then toss with the tomatoes and serve.

Wild Garlic Pesto


100g wild garlic, 100g fresh basil, 50ml olive oil, parmigiano, 1/2 lemon, 50g pine nuts.
Preparation: 5-10 minutes

There will never be anything like fresh pesto. Grinding the basil into the pine nuts releases a sweet perfume, further enhanced with notes of citrus which is then brought down to earth with the earthiness of the garlic and tang of parmeggian. As the kitchen fills with the scent I become giddy with the anticipation of it, and it's short lived because it's so quick and simple to make. Don't buy it, celebrate every aspect of this gorgeous, fresh sauce by making it yourself - particularly now when you can still find a glut of wild garlic growing abundantly outdoors, for free!

1) Add the basil and wild garlic to a mortar bowl and grind to a fine pulp. You can use a blender if you wish of course.

2) Add the pine nuts, olive oil and grated parmeggian and grind thoroughly, adding lemon juice to taste, and if you wish a pinch of salt though personally I find the parmigiano and wild garlic take care of the savoury notes.

3) To store, cover with a thin layer of oil to protect the contents from oxidising or to serve, stir a few spoons into cooked, drained pasta, drizzle onto a caprese salad or slather on bread or pizza.

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