Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Banana, Date and Yoghurt Smoothie

This made my morning! Inspired by Waitrose Kitchen Magazine, I adapted their recipe to make this easy, scrumptious and filling breakfast smoothie. To find out my recipe for homemade flaxseed, check out my previous posts.

Ingredients (serves 2)

- 1 large banana
- 4 medjool dates
- 30g plain oats
- 100ml plain yoghurt
- 100ml apple juice (I used Cawston's Apple and Carrot Juice as that's all I had)
- 1 tbsp homemade mixed seed flaxseed 

1. Simply whizz all the ingredients together in a tall blender until they are at the right consistency. Add more apple juice to make it more runny, or more yoghurt to make it thicker. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Seeded Rye Soda Bread

This soda bread recipe couldn't be easier! It is conveniently placed above my Homemade Seville Marmalade post below. Baking bread is often quite tedious, which is probably why I never make it; but this recipe allows you to make a delicious loaf without all the faff of kneading and resting.

Ingredients (roughly 14 slices)

- 8oz rye flour or brown flour
- 4oz white flour
- 2oz oatmeal
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- half a 500ml natural yoghurt pot (250g), the rest filled with milk to the brim
- a handful of mixed seeds (like pumpkin, sunflower and linseeds)

1. Start by pre heating the oven to 205°c.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then add the yoghurt and milk. Stir well until fully combined.

3. Pour the mixture into a large-ish greased loaf tin (I use a non-stick plastic one), and cook at 205°c for 10 minutes.

4. After 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 185°c and cook for a further 35 minutes. 

5. To check that the loaf is ready, tap its top. If it's firm, remove it from the tin, and pat its bottom. If the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, its ready to cool down on a wire rack and serve as and when you want it. 

It's delicious toasted in the morning with homemade jam, or sliced and served with houmous and cheese.

January Seville Marmalade

I have always relied on my mum to make delicious marmalade, but I thought it was about time I attempted my own. It's safe to say now that it's not as easy as it looks! Don't expect it to be the same process as other jams, it's a tedious and long journey...but so worth it in the end. If it's your first time (like me), don't rush it, or the marmalade won't set properly. I'm not going to lie, that's what happened to this batch - it wasn't fun! I will now cherish every pot of homemade marmalade like it's gold. I owe this post to my wonderful mother for teaching me the ways of marmalade making.

Ingredients (makes roughly 6 odd sized jars)

- 1kg seville oranges
- 3 large lemons (100g each)
- 2.3kg cold water (equal quantity of water to fruit)
- 2.6kg granulated sugar (double the quantity of fruit)
- 6-8 suitable jam jars, clean and hot
- jam jar wax discs
- cellophane jam pot covers and elastic bands or jam jar lids

1. Start by turning on the oven to 130°c for your clean jam jars later. Place the oranges and lemons into a large pressure cooker (preferably stainless steel). Cover the fruit with the measured water and place on the hob on a high heat with the lid on. When the steam vent starts spinning round, turn the heat down to very low and simmer for 10 minutes. Take it off the heat after 10 minutes and spoon out the fruit, preserving the citrus flavoured water.

2. Now for the tedious process of dealing with the fruit. Start by cutting each piece of fruit in half and spooning out the middle. Put the middle pulp into a sieve on top of a measuring jug or bowl and place the skins aside into another bowl. Gradually pulverize the pulp through the sieve using a spoon, until you've got all the juice out, and then throw away the contents of the sieve. Continue this process until you have dealt with all the fruit.

3. Before you go any further, you need to put your clean jam jars (N.B. these can be made clean in the dishwasher) in the preheated oven to warm up. It's time to cut up the fruit skins into small pieces or to your desired size. Some people use a mixer to cut up their orange peel, but mum has always advised me to do it by hand.

4. Measure out the fruit pulp and top it up with the fruity water until it measures the right amount (equal quantity of water to original fruit - in this case 2.3kg).

5. Pour the pulp, fruit water, orange peel pieces and sugar back into your large pressure cooker. Heat the ingredients slowly on a low heat (without the lid) until the sugar is dissolved, and then turn the heat to full. 

6. Cook the marmalade on high, stirring frequently so that it doesn't stick to the bottom, for about 20-25 minutes after it starts bubbling. Make sure you don't try to take it off before it's set, otherwise you'll have to re-cook it all! To see if it's properly set, stick a wooden spoon in and lift it up so you can see it drip. The very last drip should start to drip but rest half dropped. You should be able to waggle the spoon without the half drip dropping off. The marmalade should also be darker in colour than at the beginning. If you're like my uncle, who likes his marmalade very dark, just cook it for longer.

7. Take the jam jars out of the oven, and remember to be wary, as they're very hot! Carefully pour your marmalade into a plastic measuring jug so it's easy to pour into the jam jars. Make sure you do this slowly, or it might splatter everywhere. 

8. Now you can pour the marmalade into the hot jam jars. Make sure you fill each jar to the top, otherwise it'll go off rather quickly. It's inevitably going to spill a bit, so have a wet cloth nearby to clean the jar sides. 

9. It is important to cover your marmalade jars as soon as possible. Place suitable sized wax discs on top of the marmalade. If you're using jam jar lids, make sure they are clean and dry, and screw them on tightly. If you're using cellophane jam pot covers, wet them one at a time, individually with a cloth before stretching them over each jar. Use a rubber band to secure them and pull the cellophane tight to form a flat lid. 

You can either leave your marmalade pretty and natural, cover the lids with round pieces of material, or make special labels.

Homegrown Roasted Beetroot with Runner Beans, Almonds and Chilli

Winter doesn't scare me when it comes to salads, I eat them all year round. This is a very late post as I actually concocted it up in September, before I went to India. There's something very therapeutic and rewarding about picking your own vegetables. Last year, we had masses of runner beans - I think I picked them at least 6 times. 

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

- 4 baby beetroot, chopped into quarters
- 10 runner beans, chopped
- a handful of almonds
- a sprinkle of chilli flakes (I used a grinder and ground a pinch in)
- 1 tbsp good quality olive oil
- juice of 1/4 lemon

1. Start by heating the oven to 200c. Once the oven is hot, put the chopped beetroot quarters into an oven tray and coat with vegetable oil. Cook them for 40-45 minutes, until soft and tender. (N.B. I cooked my beetroot the day before, thus giving me leeway to experiment).

2. Boil some water for the runner beans, and cook them for 3-5 minutes until tender and light green in colour.

3. Add the beans, beetroot, lemon juice, oil and chilli flakes to a bowl, and toss a few times. Finally, sprinkle over the almonds and season with salt and pepper. 

Serve this salad on it's own, with cheese and biscuits, or with a selection of other salads.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Easy Peasy Apple Tarte Tatin

I'm not sure where this recipe originated from, but I've been using it ever since I can remember. This time, I added one teaspoon of cinnamon and it definitely added something extra.

Ingredients (serves 8)

- 5 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced into half moon shapes
- 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 50g unsalted butter, chopped into pieces
- 250g pack of puff pastry

1. Start by setting your oven to 180°c.

2. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon into the bottom of a round medium-sized flan dish. Then add the chopped butter evenly on top it. 

3. Arrange your apple pieces beautifully, working from the outside in. Remember, the tart is going to be turned upside down once it's cooked, so make the first layer look pretty.

4. Once you have covered the dish with apples, place it in the oven for 5 minutes to soften up a little.

5. Meanwhile, you can roll out the pastry onto a lightly floured surface to roughly 1cm. Not too thick and not too thin. 

6. Remove the apples out of the oven and lay the pastry on the top of the dish. Cut around the top of the dish so that the pastry fits neatly on the apples. 

7. Place the tart in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry turns golden brown.

8. At this stage, you'll probably just want to tuck in, but you must wait a few minutes before turning the tart upside down. Scrape around the edges of the dish with a knife or spatula to unstick any excess pastry. Then place a large plate (bigger than the dish) over the pastry and turn the tart back onto the plate.

This pudding is best served hot, so either eat is straight away or bang it in the microwave to warm up for a minute. Don't over do it though, or it'll go soggy. Enjoy with yoghurt, ice cream or creme fraiche.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Paprika Potato Salad

Ingredients (serves 4)

- 8 potatoes (I used homegrown ratte potatoes), cut in half or quartered
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
- juice of half a lemon
- a handful of mixed seeds
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 1 handful of chopped parsley or coriander
 - 1/2 tsp ground chilli flakes 
- pepper

1. Start by mixing the mayonnaise, lemon juice, paprika and seasoning together in a bowl. 

2. Add the potatoes, mixed seeds and spring onions to the bowl and stir well. 

3. Finally, sprinkle over the seeds and top with the chopped parsley.

Friday, 24 January 2014

My Alternative Houmousy Dip

I have come to love using peanut butter instead of tahini for my homemade houmous as I find it gives a sweeter taste and I always have peanut butter in the larder. The greeny coloured dip is one I put together yesterday -sweet and super healthy, it's delicious (if I say so myself)! 


for the plain houmous -

- 1 400g tin of boiled soft chickpeas
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 tsp smooth peanut butter
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper (I only use pepper)

for the green houmous -

- 1/4 of the plain houmous mixture
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 handful of mixed spinach, watercress and rocket (or just a handful of which ever you prefer)
- 1 medium tomato, chopped in half
- 2 medjool dates, de-stoned

1. Start by making the plain houmous as you'll need 1/4 of it to make the green one after. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz to form a smooth paste. If the mixture is a little thick, it might need more olive oil.

2. Once the houmous is ready, remove 3/4 of the mixture and place it in a suitable bowl. There's no need to wash the machine, just add all the green houmous ingredients into the processor. Blitz one final time to form a deliciously sweet, unique dipping sauce.

Top it with some seeds to make it look pretty...

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Extremely Light and Healthy - Gluten Free Lemon and Almond Cake

This one's an old favourite. Passed to me by a dear friend who is gluten intolerant, it always gets great feedback. I made it for my parents to take on a shooting weekend, hence the flying bird. Sadly there was none left for me...

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

for the cake -

- 6oz almonds, blitzed in a food processor to your required consistency (I like to leave them slightly crunchy and not like breadcrumbs) or ground almonds
- 5oz caster sugar
- 4oz butter
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp almond essence (pretty essential)
- zest of 2 lemons

for the icing -

- 3oz icing sugar
- juice of 1/2 a lemon

1. Heat the oven to 170°C.

2. Beat the butter and the sugar together in a bowl or food processor and then add the eggs one at a time. 

3. Finally, spoon in the ground almonds, lemon zest, and essence to form a good cake consistency.

4. Pour the mixture into a cake tin and bake in the oven at 170°C for 25-30 minutes, until it is cooked right through.

5. When the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool for a few minutes. Place it onto a large plate, or straight into a cake tin and pour on the icing (juice of half a lemon added to the icing sugar) while the cake it still warm. 

6. Serve either cold or hot.

Dairy-Free Carrot Cake

I've made this cake a few times and it's super scrumptious. Usually I top it with a yoghurt glaze but I wanted my dairy-intolerant friend to be able to eat it. This is a tweaked version of a recipe my mum found.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

for the cake -

- 6oz caster sugar
- 6oz vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 5.4 oz plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/3 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 12oz grated carrot, roughly 3 large carrots
- 1oz walnuts (or more!)

for the icing - 

- half cup thick soya yoghurt or Total yoghurt for those that can eat dairy
- 2 tsp golden syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1. Heat the oven to 170°C.

2. Mix the sugar and the oil in a bowl and then add the eggs one at a time. 

3. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon into another bowl and mix well. Add the flour mix to the egg mix and stir until combined.

4. Then fold the grated carrots and walnuts into the cake mix and place in a suitable round cake tin. 

5. Cook the cake at 170°C for 25 minutes and then turn the heat down to 160°C and cook for a further 20/25 minutes.

6. This cake is delicious with or without icing, so it's up to you. If you're opting for icing, put the yoghurt, syrup and essence together and leave it in the fridge until the cake is ready and has completely cooled. It is important to leave the cake to cool, otherwise the yoghurt will melt on top of it.

7. Cover the cake with the icing and decorate with a sprinkle of cinnamon, walnuts or grated carrot.

It is however perfectly good without icing, and much healthier! The plain version would serve as a great tea accompaniment. 

Popeye Inspired Smoothie - Spinach, Satsuma, Banana and Homemade Apple Juice Booster

 I don't usually like posting smoothies and juice drinks as they're so simple to make and require very little culinary expertise. This one however, was too good to exclude. As always, dairy-free and gluten-free...just pure goodness!

Ingredients (makes 3 small glasses)

- 1 1/2 bananas
- 3 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
- 1 satsuma or orange
- 6 tbsp healthy apple juice (I used 'Diana's Discovery' - apples picked by myself and my lovely mumma)

1. This shows just how simple delicious homemade juices can be. Wack all the ingredients into a tall blender or food processor and whizz until smooth and liquidy. If you want the drink to stretch further, either add another satsuma or a couple more tablespoons of apple juice.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Apple, Cinnamon and Apricot Porridge with Soya Yoghurt and Blueberries

I can't get enough of this porridge!

Ingredients (for one)

- 40g plain porridge oats
- 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 - 2 tsp dark brown sugar
- 1 apple, chopped into similar sized pieces (skin is optional)
- a handful of blueberries or chopped banana
- 4 apricots, chopped
- 1 - 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (depending on taste)
- 2 tbsp water
- milk

1. Start by melting the butter in a saucepan, then add the chopped apple and cook for one minute. Put in both the sugar and cinnamon and stir continuously until the apples start to soften. If they are starting to burn, add a little water.

2. Pour in the porridge oats, water, and cover them with milk. Keep stirring and adding milk (if needed), until the porridge oats are fully cooked and at your desired consistency. Then add the chopped apricots and stir a final time.

3. Finish it off with a spoon of yoghurt (and 1/2 tsp brown sugar if you've got a sweet tooth), a sprinkle of cinnamon, and any desired fruit.

Simple Wintery Soup - Parsnip, Turnip and Carrot - Vegan and Dairy-free

Hello 2014!! It's time for some more recipes.

Ingredients (serves 4)

- 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 turnips, peeled and chopped
- 2 onions, peeled and chopped into quarters
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 1 1/2 litres vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper

1. Firstly, preheat the oven to 190°c and make sure all the vegetables are chopped into similar sized pieces. Place all the vegetables into a large baking tray and coat with the oil, spices and seasoning. 

2. Cook the vegetables for 30-45 minutes once the oven is hot, and remove them when they are soft.

- Usually I just use stock cubes because it's easy, but this particular evening I was making carrot, potato and parsnip mash at the same time as the soup, so I already had some delicious homemade stock available. I would definitely recommend using homemade stock if you can.

3. Start whizzing up the vegetables in a food processor once they have cooled down slightly, and slowly add in the stock. Keep adding the stock until the soup is at your preferred consistency. Finally have a taste and season with salt and pepper.