Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Beetroot & Goats Cheese Baked Frittata

Hope you've all had a fabulous Christmas and are gearing up for an equally exciting new years! Wishing you all good health and happiness for 2015!

Although I'm meat and dairy free the majority of the time I'm not always particularly strict, especially at this time of year. I think it's important to be happy as well as healthy and sometimes limiting yourself can be dispiriting. So I like to embrace most things even if it's just once in a while! In this spirit I'd like to share with you this recipe for my Beetroot & Goats Cheese Baked Frittata... now although it's certainly not going to be winning any beauty contests it really is delicious and I'd love for you to give it a go. 

This is a really interesting dish. Seriously light and fluffy with a beautiful earthiness from the beets. Contrasted with the creamy and slightly tangy cheese it's delicious! 

For 4 servings you will need:

5 medium-sized Eggs
130ml Double Cream
2 large (fresh) Beetroots
1 tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
125g Abergavenny Goats Cheese 
Mild Olive Oil for greasing
Salt and Pepper to season

Firstly set your oven to 200°c and grease a deep baking dish with olive oil.

Top and tail your beetroots. I usually reserve my beet tops for juicing or smoothies as they are full of goodness - they actually contain more Iron than spinach! I've included a juice recipe below if you fancy trying it! Peel the beets then grate into a bowl and set aside.

Crack the eggs into another large bowl. Whisk together well then add the cream, mustard and a good helping of salt and pepper. Mix together well before adding the grated beetroot. Combine then pour into the baking dish ensuring the beets are evenly distributed. The vibrant pink at this stage is fantastic!

Break up the goats cheese into pieces. It's a soft creamy cheese but does retain it's shape. Scatter the cheese over the frittata pushing pieces down so they are not protruding out too much. Grind over a little more black pepper then pop into the oven for 30-35 minutes. Easy peasy!

Once removed from the oven it should be risen and lightly browned all over. The texture is super light and fluffy! I served mine on a bed of rocket with a light drizzle of lemon juice plus some pickles, which are a great match to beetroot. 

This is a recipe for all seasons. I'd love to add in Spring Onions in the summer, or maybe a little Thyme or Rosemary for winter. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did... here's my juice recipe:

Juice Recipe (for 1 large glass): 

Beet Tops (Stalks and leaves) of 5 beetroots
1⁄4 of a Red Cabbage
4-5 small Carrots
3 large Oranges
1 Lemon
Small handful of Mint

Using a juicer throw the leaves, stalks and cabbage through first. Followed by the citrus... the juicier ingredients will carry through any residue and vital nutrients. Serve with ice and enjoy!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Pumped-up Pear, Cinnamon & Date Porridge

This is my latest post for Suma Bloggers Network. And I've made a super-comforting and power-packed festive brekkie! The products I ordered from Suma are: Rude Health Organic Sprouted Porridge Oats, Organic Linusprout Cinnamon, Zaytoun Palestinian Medjoul Dates, Suma Organic Pumpkin Seeds and Suma Organic Dried Sweetened Cranberries.

This porridge is the bomb. I know that nobody has said that since like 1996 but it's true. It really is. It's uber festive and pumped with nutrition. It's comfort food at it's absolute best, especially for this time of year. And as well as being dairy-free, it's also gluten-free too! 

Now, down to business. Sprouted Oats are going to be THE THING for 2015. I hate silly food fads, I really do, but this trend could really be the start of something. I could try and re-hash the information for you, or I could just let you know what Rude Health say (because let's face it, they know best):

"An unsprouted grain is dormant, waiting for the right time to germinate. It's nutrients are locked up and well protected, making dormant grains harder to digest... When soaked in water, the grain wakes up and starts to sprout. Enzyme activity breaks down growth inhibitors, transforming and multiplying nutrients into their more easily digestible forms... The sprouted grain is slow dried to preserve it's valuable nutrients."

So there you have it. Along with the Sprouted Oats I've also added Linusit's Organic Linusprout with Cinnamon. It's Organic Flaxseed Powder which has also benefited from being sprouted and has Organic Cinnamon included. Flax is a great source of plant protein, Omega 3 and fibre. Suma have a really great selection of products with high nutritional value and source only the best. 
To serve 2 this simple and tasty porridge you will need:

1 cup Rude Health Sprouted Oats
1½ cup of Rude Health Brown Rice Milk (or any dairy-free milk you like)
1 tbsp Organic Linusprout Cinnamon
1 Pear
2 tbsp Agave Syrup
2 Medjool Dates (diced)
Good grating of fresh Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
Pumpkin Seeds & Cranberries to garnish

Firstly put your oats in a pan with the milk. On a medium heat bring them up to heat, once they've started to bubble lower the heat a little for a gentle simmer. Cook for 12 minutes stirring regularly - if at any point the porridge is starting to get too dry add a drop more milk.

Meanwhile peel and roughly chop your pear. Put in a pan with the agave syrup and set to a medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes until bubbling and the pear is starting to soften. It should be releasing juices and getting syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside.

After the 12 minutes your porridge should have a lovely creamy consistency. Take off the heat whilst you add the pears and syrup, the linusprout, dates, nutmeg and salt. Mix together well then pop back on the heat for another 2-3 minutes. Then you're ready to serve...

Add to a bowl then top with pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. A little squeeze more of agave (if you like things extra sweet) and another light grating of nutmeg to finish. Perfect!

I hope you're all ready for Christmas and getting into the festivities. It really is the most wonderful time of the year! Merry Christmas to all & all the very best for 2015!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Miso Broth with Shiitakes, Pak Choi & Soba Noodles

It's that time again! Another delicious recipe for Suma Bloggers Network... this time it's one of my absolute favourite dishes. A regular go-to in our house, especially if you feel like you need a boost. I adore Clearspring products and Suma Wholefoods have gathered together the best bits of their range. These are the products I have chosen...

(L-R: Clearspring Organic Brown Rice Miso, Kallo Organic Mushroom Stock, Clearspring Japanese Organic Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, Clearspring Organic Tamari Soya Sauce, Clearspring 100% Buckwheat Soba Noodles)

With such amazing ingredients you'd be hard-pushed not to be able to create something delicious. Miso soup is a Japanese staple and this version is packed with goodness. Warming and hydrating with an immense depth of flavour, mMiso Broth with Shiitakes, Pak Choi & Soba Noodles is incredibly satisfying. The pak choi delivers a fresh element in contrast to the richness of the broth and the whole thing is just plain mouth-watering.

To serve 2, you will need:

1 medium White Onion
1 tbsp Coconut Oil
1/2 Celery Heart, with leaves
25g Clearspring Japanese Organic Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
500ml Kallo Organic Mushroom Stock 
1 med/hot Chilli 
2 x Pak Choi
80g Soba Noodles
Splash of Clearspring Tamari Soya Sauce
1 tbsp Clearspring Organic Brown Rice Miso

Firstly soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes. Whilst they're soaking finely dice the white onion and celery heart. Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep pan and add the onion and celery. On a medium heat sweat for 7 minutes. 

Use your personal heat preference in choosing your chilli. I like to use a scotch bonnet in this recipe but a large med-hot green chilli will do if you want to keep it to a more manageable heat. Finely slice your choice of chilli, removing the seeds if you wish, and add to the pan. Cook with the onion and celery for 3-4 minutes. 

Drain the shiitakes and slice some of them up. I like to leave some of them whole. Add to the pan and mix everything together, cooking for 3 minutes. Make up 500ml mushroom stock and set aside.

Add the miso to the pan and ensure everything is coated then add the stock. Mix together and bring to the boil very briefly. Set at a medium heat and cook for 5 minutes. In the meantime bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the soba noodles for 7 minutes. 

Halve the pak choi's and lay on top of the broth. Put the lid on and cook for 3-4 minutes until they are wilted but will still hold some crunch at the core.

Drain the soba noodles and share between 2 bowls. Throw a splash of soya sauce onto the noodles. Using a ladle to top them with the pak choi then pour over the broth. 


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Roasted Harlequin Squash with Miso, Shiitake & Chilli Lentils

Despite the warm September weather I've started to feel brilliantly Autumnal! Heading into October it's lovely to see the leaves starting to change colour... such beautiful oranges and reds, I feel totally spoilt by nature. Autumn is all about starting to cosy-up, layer-up and put some good old comfort food on the menu. I think this one is really my definition of comfort food. Warm, filling, full of flavour and seriously satisfying. As I write this it's raining hard outside and a bowl of this would be amazing!

I'm a little bit obsessed with Miso right now, trying to sneak it into all sorts of dishes. And it seems to work, with everything!! A deliciously deep, umami flavour that adds another dimension to dishes. Being soy-based it has a great natural saltiness so you won't need to add any salt. And fermented foods are so great for you - the fermentation process creates beneficial enzymes that preserve nutrients and breaks them down into a form that's easier to digest. The crispy sage was also a total revelation. For some reason I've never really given sage a chance but now I want to eat it crispy with EVERYTHING! 

For my Roasted Harlequin Squash with Miso, Shiitake & Chilli Lentils to serve 2, you'll need:

½ Harlequin Squash
1 Garlic Clove
4 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Red Onion
1 Cayenne Chilli Pepper (or medium-hot chilli of your choice)
100g Green Lentils
5-6 Shiitake Mushrooms
1 tbsp Organic Brown Rice Miso - I use Clearspring
70 ml water
Black Pepper
6 Sage Leaves

The picture's not great, what with the lack of evening light, but trust me this dish was delicious - my best friend was bowled over by the flavour, and she usually hates mushrooms!

Firstly set your oven to 210°c. Peel the Harlequin Squash & cut into wedges. You can use another type of squash here but the Harlequin has a lovely, gentle flavour if you can get one. Throw into a bowl with 1½ tbsp olive oil. Crush the garlic and add to the bowl with a few grinds of coarse black pepper. Shake the bowl well until all the wedges are coated. Lay a sheet of baking paper out onto a baking tray and lay out the wedges. Drizzle over all the oil and garlic left in the bowl. Put into the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes. They should sizzle and brown nicely!

Now cook the green lentils in a pan of boiling water, as per the instructions on the packet - about 25 minutes. I like mine to be just-cooked so that they do not go stodgy. 

Meanwhile finely dice the red onion, slice the cayenne chilli and finely chop the shiitakes. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and sweat the onions on a medium heat for around 8 minutes. Then add the chilli and shiitakes and cook for a further 10 minutes. If your squash is now cooked then remove from the oven and cover until needed. 

Drain the lentils and add to the frying pan with the miso. Mix together thoroughly, making sure there are no lumps of miso present, and add the water. Turn up the heat and let this sizzle for a minute, continuing to mix. Remove from the heat. 

In a little frying pan heat the remaining olive oil to high. Plate up the lentils and top with the squash wedges. To crispy-fry the sage add to the pan and within a few seconds the leaf will crisp up. Remove quickly with tongs before they turn brown and add to the dish.

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Earthy Mograbiah with Kale, Mushrooms & Asparagus

Mograbiah is one of my absolute favourite things to have for a wholesome weeknight dinner. It's a type of couscous made from Semolina and has the most interesting texture. Slightly chewy and quite dense, unlike the lighter giant pearl couscous, it's a delicious filler. Best of all it goes with pretty much anything and cooks in just 15 minutes. Easy peasy! I tend to get mine from Ottolenghi online as I've not found anywhere selling it locally, but I'm probably not looking hard enough - Nottingham has such fantastic diversity I'm sure it's available!

This recipe for Mograbiah with Kale, Mushrooms & Asparagus is so deliciously earthy and satisfying. The Truffle Oil is a must here as it really enhances the other flavours. White Truffle Oil is quite mild and if you are substituting this with Black Truffle Oil I would suggest halving the quantity. To serve 2 you will need:

200g Mograbiah
2 tbsp White Truffle Oil
1 tbsp Olive Oil
4-5 Brown Chestnut Mushrooms
80g Kale
10 Asparagus Tips
1 tbsp Pine Nuts
Black Pepper
Salt Flakes

Firstly bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the mograbiah. Cook for 15 minutes, or as directed on the packet. 

In the meantime cut the woody ends off the asparagus, leaving approximately 4 inches of tender green tip. Slice the mushrooms and kale - leaving out any thick kale stalk.

Heat the truffle oil in a deep frying pan on a medium heat & add the mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes then add the kale to the pan with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper. Put the lid on and cook for another 5-6 minutes, mixing throughout to stop anything from sticking. The idea is to fully wilt the kale and brown the edges slightly.

While the kale is cooking heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot add the Asparagus to the pan with a sprinkle of black pepper. Cook with the lid on for 6-7 minutes whilst giving the pan a regular shake to keep the asparagus moving around.

Drain the Mograbieh and put back into the pan, off the heat. Add the mushrooms and kale, with any remaining oil from the pan, then mix well. Taste then season with salt flakes and pepper. Plate this mixture then top with the Asparagus. 

On the hob, heat a small pan to high and throw in the pine nuts. They will take no more than 1-2 minutes to toast. Keep them moving and make sure not to burn them - this can happen in a second! As soon as they start turning brown pull them off the heat and sprinkle them over the dish. 


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Suma Bloggers Network : Raspberry Coconut Macaroons

This post is a bittersweet treat in conjunction with Suma Wholefoods. As a member of their Bloggers Network I always look forward to whipping up a recipe bi-monthly using a selection of their great products. When I received their last catalogue I was thrilled to see a number of new Suma own-brand coconut-based products on offer. They're all organic too which ticks another box! Brilliant! These are the products I chose:

(Suma Organic Coconut Sugar, Suma Organic Cacao Nibs, Suma Organic Coconut Flour & Divine 85% Dark Chocolate)

I've made Raspberry Coconut Macaroons before but I wanted to spruce them up a little bit. Dark Chocolate and Cacao Nibs are great additions - I love the bitterness, especially when balanced with something fruity and sweet. The cacao nibs are also full of goodness, jam-packed with antioxidants, plus magnesium, fibre and iron! 

Having never used Coconut Sugar before I was extremely impressed. It's a deep brown colour with a Demerera-like depth of flavour. Unlike normal sugar it retains more natural nutrients during processing and while I'm not suggesting it's a health food I'd definitely say it was the lesser of two evils! I did not use the Coconut Flour in this recipe but I'm experimenting and will hopefully have a recipe up on my blog soon including this.

To make approximately 16 macaroons you will need:

150g Raspberries
170g Desiccated Coconut
2 tbsp Suma Organic Cacao Nibs
3 tbsp / 60g Suma Organic Coconut Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 eggs equivalent of Orgran Egg Replacer
100g Divine 85% Dark Chocolate
Couple of pinches of Salt
Dried Rose Petals (optional)

Firstly set your oven to 190°c and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

In a large bowl bash up your raspberries lightly with the side of a spoon so that the chunks vary in size. Try not to over do it otherwise you'll end up with more of a raspberry paste. Add the coconut to the raspberries with the coconut sugar, baking powder, cacao nibs and a pinch of salt. 

In a measuring jug mix together your egg replacer with the required amount of water and whisk well. You can of course use eggs here - I'm sure 2 whisked would do the trick. Fold the egg replacer into the mixture gently until everything is combined. Now time to get your hands dirty - get stuck in with around a tablespoons worth of mixture per macaroon. Gently roll the mixture in the palms of your hands to create balls. These can be as neat or as messy as you like. If they are squeezed together too hard they will come out too dense. The aim is to create a macaroon which is slightly crunchy on the outside and deliciously soft within, so be gentle.

Lay the macaroons onto the baking sheet. They will not rise so don't worry too much about spacing. Put into the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until they have an even browning on the outside.

Remove from the oven once the outside is fully toasted. Try to remove them gently from the baking sheet as soon as you can, to prevent them from sticking as they cool, and lay out on a cooling rack.

Once they have cooled fully lay them out onto a plate or another suitable surface. Heat a small saucepan of water on the hob. Break up the Dark Chocolate into a glass bowl with a pinch of salt then sit this on top of the saucepan. Keeping the hob at a low-medium heat melt the chocolate slowly. Once you have a bowl of molten chocolate remove the bowl from the heat and use a spoon to drizzle it over the macaroons. Nice opportunity for a spoon-lick or two here!

If you're using them rip up some dried rose petals and scatter over the macaroons while the chocolate is still wet. Then pop the macaroons into the fridge for 30 minutes or so to let the chocolate set. You can keep them in tupperware for a few days at room temperature, I don't like to keep them in the fridge as they become too hard. 

Head to Suma Bloggers Network to see the other brilliant bloggers who are part of the network! There's some amazing vegetarian and vegan recipes available!


Friday, 15 August 2014

Fennel, Courgette & Chilli Risotto

As it was my birthday on Monday I had a long weekend of celebrations. It was an excellent time with excellent friends. I ate terribly, drunk wayyy too much and felt pretty shoddy by the end... but that's what birthdays are for, right??? This week I have needed good old comfort food to get me back on top. Lots of fruit, veggies and plenty of hydration. The temperature has also dropped which has meant a good chance to indulge in cold-weather favourites including soups, broths and risottos. Happy days!

This Fennel, Courgette & Chilli Risotto was thrown together with random bits left in the fridge and is just so satisfying. Also, I managed to keep my inner chilli fiend locked up and so it's warmth is manageable for most. Well done me. 

I adore Risotto and the key is to keep it moist and keep everything moving. Don't rush the process, just take it easy. I also really love al dente rice, so it is 'just' cooked and therefore not at all stodgy, but you can cook it whichever way you like it!

To serve 2, you will need:

1 tbsp Dairy Free Spread (feel free to use Butter if you are not dairy-free)
1 large Fennel bulb, finely sliced (reserve Fennel tops for decoration)
1 medium Courgette, roughly diced
1 large Red Chilli (medium heat), finely chopped
180g Arborio Risotto Rice
Juice of 1 Lemon
500ml Organic Vegetable Stock
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
½ tsp Black Peppercorns
Salt flakes
Small handful of Parsley

In a heavy-based deep-sided frying pan, heat the Dairy Free Spread until melted then add the sliced fennel. Cook at a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring throughout, to soften. Turn the heat up to full for 2 minutes following this to get a little browning on the fennel.

Turn the hob back down to medium heat then add the diced Courgette. Cook for 5 minutes then add the chilli. Mix together well then cook for a further 5 minutes. In the meantime crush the fennel seeds with the black peppercorns and add to the pan, then make up 500ml vegetable stock in a jug.

Add the rice to the pan and coat fully by mixing well, then squeeze over the lemon juice. Let this sizzle away for a minute or two, keeping everything moving, then add the first 100ml of your stock. The aim is to let each bit of liquid get absorbed fully before pouring in the next. So gradually add the stock bit by bit over the course of 20-30 minutes until the rice is cooked to your liking. If you need more liquid add more stock or even water straight from the kettle.

Once the risotto rice is cooked to your liking remove from the heat. Taste and then season with salt accordingly. Finely chop a small handful of Parsley leaves and mix through. Then serve ripping up the Fennel tops to use as a garnish for the top. 

The great thing about the use of courgette in this recipe is that some pieces stay whole and even relatively firm. Whilst other pieces soften and get mixed through to create an almost creaminess. Overall the Risotto is really fresh-tasting, with a lovely aniseed warmth from the fennel and a definite zing from the lemon and chilli. I hope you enjoy!

Watch this space for my next blog post for Suma Wholefoods coming soon! It's a fruity delight!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Aubergine & Courgette Tagine

One thing that my husband has really missed since going meat-free at home is those long, slow-cooked meaty dishes. The boeuf bourguignons and Sunday casseroles. This rich veggie tagine is a great meat-free alternative to those dishes. And we just adore the sour kicks you get from those lush Moroccan flavours! 

In our house we can't manage particularly large portions but dishes were practically licked clean after this. After I posted a photo of the meal on Instagram, a friend asked for the recipe and so I thought I may as well share it here too! It's a corker. 

To serve 2, you will need:

5 baby Courgettes, sliced
2-3 baby Aubergines, sliced
1 large White Onion, roughly chopped
10 Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
500ml Veg Stock
1 Cinnamon Stick
Bulb of Garlic, separated into cloves
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Coriander Seeds, ground
1 tsp ground Turmeric
1-2 Preserved Lemons, finely chopped
10 Kalamata Olives (stone in)
Handful of fresh Coriander, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper

Heat oven to 190°c. In a large deep pan (or casserole dish you can put on the hob) heat a glug of olive oil and sweat onions for 7 minutes. 

Keeping on a low-medium heat, add all the spices, cinnamon stick and whole garlic cloves. Mix well then add the Courgette and Aubergine slices, followed by the Preserved Lemons and Olives. Coat everything well in the spices then throw in the Tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the stock and season with salt and pepper.

Mix well, bring to the boil then decant into a casserole dish (no need to decant if you used casserole dish from the beginning). I used a tagine but I don't like to use it on the hob. Put in the oven and cook for at least 90 -100 minutes, stirring a couple of times during. Cook for longer to thicken sauce, I tend to remove the lid for the last 20-30 minutes of cooking to do this.

Once ready check the seasoning, remove cinnamon stick and mix through fresh coriander. I served with couscous with black pepper and coriander mixed through - lovely jubbly!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Roasted Baby Turnips with Black Quinoa & Samphire

Yesterday was a strange day. We were awoken at 5.55am by a huge Sycamore tree falling into our backyard. I thought the crash was part of my dream. But once the dust had settled I found myself lamenting the loss of this beautiful old tree. The creatures that lived there; thrushes, squirrels, insects... a habitat lost. I will definitely miss the bunches of sycamore keys hanging in the sun, the dappled light it cast and the bustling life inside. 

Nature is something beautiful to be cherished. A massive part of our day-to-day connection with our planet. And that's another reason I love the plant-based lifestyle. It just makes sense.  

I love simple ingredients that take the best of natures goodness. Things can be so easily over-complicated when most of the time, it's the simplest things that are the best. This recipe for Roasted Baby Turnips with Black Quinoa & Samphire is lovely and barely-seasoned. The saltiness from the Samphire, pepperiness from the Turnips and just a little Lemon and Parsley to bring it all together.

To serve 2, you will need:

150g Black Quinoa
10 Baby Sweet Turnips
90g Samphire
Juice of 1 Lemon
Handful of Parsley
2 tbsp Olive Oil
½ tsp Black Pepper
½ tsp Salt Flakes

Firstly preheat your oven to 200°c. Halve the turnips and chop off most of the stalk. Place them face down in a small baking dish. Pour over 1½ tbsp Olive Oil, sprinkle with the salt and bake for 30 minutes. Turn at least once during baking to ensure even browning.

While the turnips are cooking bring a pan of water to the boil then add the Quinoa. Simmer steadily for 20 minutes (or as per packet instructions). Drain and set aside.

Once you have cooked the Quinoa put the remaining Olive Oil into a frying pan on a high heat. Throw in the Samphire and sprinkle over the Black Pepper. Cook for no more than 2 minutes moving around the pan frequently with a wooden spoon.

Put the Quinoa into a bowl and squeeze in the lemon juice. Add the samphire, turnips and parsley. Mix together then serve.

This is such a delicious summer dinner. Ready in just over half an hour as well. Simplicity rules!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Sunshine Smoothie ☼

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I really love smoothies. I just can't get enough of them. Breakfast, lunch or supper - smoothies kick ass! You can pack them with as much or as little goodness as you like. Mine are always dairy-free and usually super-fruity with added nutrition! They're pretty hassle-free and you can make them the night before to store in the fridge if you don't have time to make one in the morning. This one (and variations of) comes up time and time again, because it's just sooo delicious! 

For this recipe I find it best with super-fresh bananas. I like mine when they're still green which gives the smoothie a great base and added vitality. This recipe serves 2:

2 ripe Mangoes
2 green Bananas
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
2 tsp ground Turmeric
Large piece of Ginger
400 - 500ml Coconut Water
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
Handful of Ice cubes
Handful of Raspberries, for topping

Optional ingredients: Kiwi's, Passion Fruits, a Lime... whatever you have in your fruit bowl basically!

Firstly peel and slice the mangoes and bananas and throw into the blender.

Peel the Ginger then fine-grate directly into the blender - try not to include the tough, stringy fibres within.

Then add the Turmeric, Chia Seeds, Lemon Juice and Ice Cubes. Add the Coconut Water little by little as you blend - I like my smoothie really thick so I try not to go OTT at this stage!

Blend well for 2 minutes to ensure it's extra smooth. Serve in glasses or bowls topped with the Raspberries. Easy peasy lemon squeezy - enjoy!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Suma Bloggers Network: Moroccan Pearl Couscous Salad with Charred Aubergine

I'm really pleased to announce that I've become part of Suma Wholefoods new Blogger's Network. It brings together a crack team of vegan and vegetarian bloggers who will contribute recipes to the Suma site bi-monthly. I feel really privileged to get to be a part of this network and hope you will all enjoy the dishes I have to offer!
As some of you will already know, Suma have an incredible product range. If you adopt a vegetarian lifestyle or simply like to eat natural, healthy or organic products you're in the right place. I'm here to pick out some of my favourites and show you how to cook up a storm with them. Check out the Blogger's Network by following the link to the right!

As we are getting into the swing of summer I thought a lovely morocco-inspired salad would be a wonderful place to start. These are the products I chose from Suma:

(Clockwise from top: Artisan Grains Pearl Couscous, Gaea Kalamata Olives, Al'fez Preserved Lemons, and Biona Smoked Garlic Paste)

I can't resist flavours that pack a punch so I guess that's why I love Moroccan food! Such depth of flavour with sour notes, zing and a great deal of freshness. This dish, a Moroccan Pearl Couscous Salad with Charred Aubergine, is a real treat and full of flavour. It is lush on it's own, with a little garlic flatbread, or as part of a summer buffet. To serve 2, you will need:

¾ of an Aubergine
½ a pack of Artisan Grains Pearl Couscous (125g)
1 - 1½ Preserved Lemons, finely chopped
16 Kalamata Olives
Large-pea-sized piece of Biona Smoked Garlic Paste
3 tbsp good quality Olive Oil
1 tsp Coconut Oil
tsp Salt Flakes
1½ tsp Black Peppercorns, coarsely crushed
Small handful of Mint
Large handful of Parsley

Firstly slice your Aubergine into rounds about 1cm thick. Lay out on a chopping board and sprinkle with ½ tsp salt flakes. Cover with a dry tea towel and leave for at least 15 minutes.

In the meantime bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt and the coconut oil. Add the pearl couscous and cook for 10-12 minutes. I prefer the couscous cooked for no more than 10 mins to keep a little bite but it is up to your personal preference. Once cooked drain and set aside.

Next pour 2 tbsp of the olive oil into a ramekin and brush over the aubergine slices until lightly coated all over. Heat your griddle pan to high for a couple of minutes then add the aubergine slices. Press them down onto the griddle to ensure they char as they cook. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes per side - they will start smoking but this is a good thing and will add enormously to the flavour. I need all my doors and windows open for this!! Once cooked and nicely charred remove from the pan and set aside.

Put the couscous into a bowl and fluff up with a fork. Mix the remaining olive oil with the smoked garlic paste then add to the couscous. Add the preserved lemon and olives to the bowl and mix well. 

Remove the stalks from your herbs, roughly chop and add to the bowl. Mix well and taste then season accordingly with the remaining salt and pepper. Now you're ready to serve!

This dish is lovely warm or cold and perfect for a summers day in the garden, now we just need to keep our fingers crossed for sunshine! 


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Herby Mushroom Pâté with Za'atar

If I were to have a perfect food day it would be full of nibbles. We really love a good graze in our house. Those who know me well understand my past love of a good cheeseboard but my wellbeing and waistline definitely appreciate my newer vegan approach. And nibbling on things that are actually good for you is a win/win situation - hurrah!

I made this Mushroom Pâté on a grazing day not long ago and it was just so deliciously satisfying I knew it had to be a blog post. There is an abundance of herbs and the earthiness of the za'atar really compliments the mushrooms. If you haven't tried za-atar before I definitely recommend it. There are a couple of versions and I use the darker Palestinian variety. It's a lovely blend of roasted Sesame, Thyme and Sumac. The flavour has a real depth and you do not need much to make an impact. Since first buying last year it has become one of my store cupboard staples.

I used a combination of large flatcap and brown chestnut mushrooms although in the past I've used more exotic varieties to deepen the flavour. Try to avoid using a variety which tends to leak moisture when cooking (such as the flatcaps!) but buy your favourites and I'm sure you can't go far wrong!

This recipe would be a great starter to serve 4 with some dippers of your choice. You will need:

310g Mushrooms
100g Vegan Cream Cheese Alternative (I use Tofutti Soya Alternative, which is dairy and gluten free)
Small handful of Basil
1 sprig of Rosemary
Large handful of Flat leafed Parsley
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Za'atar
10 Black Peppercorns
2 tsp Salt Flakes
Juice of ½ a Lemon

First roughly slice all the mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. Mushrooms generally respond well to a good charring so turn up the heat and get them sizzling! Move around the pan with a wooden spoon frequently as they cook. If they leak liquid then simply drain this half way through cooking then continue to brown. After 8 minutes remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Remove the leaves from the herbs, discarding the stalks, and finely chop. In a pestle and mortar crush the peppercorns coarsely.

Put the mushrooms in a food processer then add the cream cheese, lemon juice, chopped herbs, za'atar, salt and crushed pepper. Blend on only a few rotations to prevent over-processing the mixture. Leaving small chunks of mushroom throughout gives it a great texture.

Divide the mixture between your serving receptacles, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. If you have time to make these the day before you need them then they definitely benefit from leaving to chill overnight. They will last for a few days covered in the fridge.

Although this is not exactly what you would call a health food it's very tasty and just rich enough to be satisfied with small quantities. I love spreading on crispbreads and dunking raw carrots - poifect!

On another note, this week is National Vegetarian Week in the UK and a great time for you to seek out your local veggie cafes, restaurants, shops and markets. It's also a great time of the year for British produce so don't miss out.


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Nut-free Carrot Cake Cookies

Last week was Allergy Awareness Week and as someone with a nut allergy I can tell you it doesn't half make life complicated at times. Especially when food producers cover their backs by stating "may contain nuts" on pretty much everything from pasta to fruit juices. Common sense is key. Despite one trip to A&E a couple of years ago (looking like the Rugby ace Martin Johnson, according to my lovely husband!) I believe my allergy to be relatively mild. My frustration is that I was not always allergic to nuts so I know how wonderful they are - i miss Bakewell tarts, dry-roasted Peanuts and the fiddly process of de-shelling Pistachios. But alas I can only dream. 

I'm on a constant journey trying to create nut-free sweet treats that really hit the spot. Seeds are a great nut-replacement and there's such a massive selection to try. These cookies are not only nut-free but also dairy-free and very low on sugar. As a result they work out at only 60 calories per cookie and the contents are great to give you an energy boost. 

To make 12 small Carrot Cake Cookies you will need:

1 Carrot, finely grated
1 over-ripe Banana, mashed
2 tbsp desiccated Coconut
3½ tbsp Organic Wholegrain Spelt Flour
2 tbsp golden granulated unrefined sugar
½ tsp ground Cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
1 tbsp Agave syrup
1 tsp Chia seeds
2 tsp Sunflower seeds
1 tsp Poppy seeds
1½ tsp Pumpkin seeds
1½ tsp Raw Cacao Nibs

The banana is a great binder and allows for the avoidance of egg-replacer, which I try not to use too often. I opt to keep my ingredients natural, organic and fair-trade wherever possible.

Set your oven to 180°c. In a large bowl mix together the carrot, banana, coconut, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and agave then mix together well. Add the seeds, cacao nibs and spelt then combine well ensuring all of the ingredients are well distributed. Each bite should have a good range of seeds and nibs for crunch. The mixture should not be too wet or sticky so add more flour if you need to.

Using a teaspoon scoop up a little of the mixture and roll gently into a ball in the palm of your hand. Lay the balls around an inch apart on a sheet of greaseproof baking paper on a baking tray. When you've laid them all out take a fork and gently press them down flat.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cookies are well browned. 

Unlike conventional cookies I would definitely suggest that you allow them to cool fully before tucking in. They are all the crunchier and chewier for it. 

The combination of seeds with the bitter hint of cacao are a lovely replacement for the walnut flavours in traditional carrot cake. The banana keeps them moist and soft in the middle but is not overpoweringly banana-flavoured. And the shredded carrot is delicious with the hints of cinnamon and nutmeg throughout. Lush!

You can store the cookies for 3-4 days in an airtight container but they are definitely tastiest in their first 24 hours. They are also perfect for making cookie sandwiches with dairy-free ice cream or cheesecake-style vegan cream cheese.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Celeriac Soup with Kale & Truffle Pesto

I officially declare this the last soup recipe of the season. Now that the evenings are getting lighter and the weather is perking up a little, we won't need their warming qualities much longer. But this one was so good that I just had to share!

The soup itself is smooth, velvety and has a delicious depth of flavour. Celeriac is a corker of a root and I love it both cooked and raw. It'll be perfect for slaws and salads going into Summer! My Kale pesto is tinged with Truffle oil which gives it a real earthiness. This pesto recipe made just over a ramekin of pesto, this was enough to garnish 2 soups and also dress pasta the following night.

To serve 3 comfortably, or 4 as a starter, you will need:

For the soup:
1 large Celeriac
1 large white Onion
2 sprigs of Thyme
2 Celery sticks
1 litre Mushroom stock
Smoked salt (optional)
Black Pepper
1 tbsp Coconut Oil

For the pesto:
Handful of Kale leaves
1 small clove of Garlic, crushed
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp Pine nuts
2 tsp Truffle oil (optional)

To garnish:
1 tbsp Pine Nuts (toasted)

First roughly dice the onion and slice the celery sticks. Melt the coconut oil in a deep saucepan set on a medium heat. Add the onion and celery to the pan, mix through the thyme leaves (no stalks) and let soften for 10-12 minutes. You are only looking to soften the onions, not to brown them.

Use a large knife to cut away the rough outer of the head of Celeriac. Chop roughly into inch-wide cubes and add to the pan with the onion and celery. Mix together and cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly. 

Make up a litre of stock - I like to use Mushroom stock as it's not at all overpowering and the slight earthiness works well in this soup. You can use any vegetarian stock you like to use. I try to make my own vegetable stock regularly to freeze but when I run out I use 'Kallo - Organic Mushroom Stock' as they're the best shop-bought stock cubes I've tried. Add the stock to the pan and bring to the boil then let simmer for at least 30 minutes. Take off the heat and blend well using a hand blender. I often like a chunky soup but this one suits being super-smooth.

Now for the pesto! Put all of the ingredients into a mini blender and blitz until you have a coarse green paste. You can also do this in a pestle and mortar if you fancy using a bit of elbow grease. 

Before serving season the soup with a little salt and pepper. I used smoked salt but normal salt flakes or celery salt would be fine. The faint hint of smokiness worked well with the other flavours and if you haven't tried smoked salt before then I urge you to - it's a dream with some mashed avocado, or many other things for that matter.

Serve the soup with a dollop or swirl of the pesto - what's your style? I'm a swirler, for sure - with a few toasted pine nuts to finish. You can use the grill or a small pan to toast the pine nuts in no more than a couple of minutes.