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feel good food that's good for you

spicy-peanut-butter-and-vegetable-soup // food to glowNOTE: If you are just here for the recipe, that’s fine. Scroll on down! But hopefully you are okay reading about my week living below the poverty line. :-)

My week living below the line, on £1 a day, is almost at an end.

In a weird sort of way I have almost enjoyed the experience. It has been very interesting to try and come up with ways to keep the tastebuds tempted and belly relatively full on such a meagre allowance and sparse cupboard. But I think I’ve done pretty well.

I was surprised how, once it sank in that I wouldn’t be having my daily avocado, my beloved matcha green tea, the sliver from cakes made for others – just to test of course – that I got used to the repetitiveness. I have found a comfort of sorts in knowing that I don’t have a dazzling choice of ingredients with which to play. In fact, my latent pioneer side has come to the fore when faced with my week’s rations; I can’t feel more Little House On The Prairie if I had a gingham pinafore and pigtails (and Laura Ingall’s cute freckles, at least as seen on the tv show).

But really, I am play acting. I know that at any point – and that come Saturday morning – I can have a slurpy, veg-filled tofu curry, a big-as-my-head cardamom bun (steady on girl!), brain-freezing, freshly blended frozen fruit smoothie. Anything at all.

I’ve never really had to worry too much about a budget, never mind one that is restricted to £1 a day. For a staggering 1.2 billion, this is course a daily, unremitting reality. And health and opportunities suffer – usually permanently – as a result. Me doing this exercise from the comfort of my well-insulated, safe, gas- and electricity-powered home hasn’t been about trying to pretend that I can live like the many, many people that his campaign wishes to support. It has been about me keeping these marginalised communities in my mind, and perhaps encouraging my readers, friends and those who follow me on social media to give to my chosen charity, or perhaps take part themselves. Doing this exercise has made me more aware that not only am I spoiled (I knew that) but that I need to be much more grateful to have health, money, education, stable government, access to affordable, safe food, clean water and really everything I need. If I am hungry I can immediately sort something out by grabbing a bought sandwich, picking something from my fertile (ish) garden, or filling up a shopping cart. Others don’t have that luxury – through no fault of their own.

My charity, Health Poverty Action is just one of the charities taking part in the Live Below The Line campaign. Health Poverty Action works in the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America supporting projects that tackle a range of factors affecting health: weak and non-existent health systems, communicable diseases, lack of health education (a cause very close to my heart),  harmful traditional practices, gender-based violence, lack of nutritious food and income, and poor water and sanitation. Things we often take for granted. HPA%20logo%20small

The official week of living below the line is April 27-May 1. I would be absolutely over the moon if some of you decided that you wanted to take the challenge too. Remember, it is only for one week. The campaign is about raising awareness, and of course raising money to support projects that help the globe’s poorest citizens. If you wish to donate, could you use the link on my sponsorship page. And to sign up to take the challenge, use this linkThanks so much.

Now that I have hopefully tugged at your heartstrings just a little, I’ll tell you what I got with my £5 for the week. But first, a ‘helpful’ preamble. Of course. ;-)

I bought and used only what you see below, but I did keep some money back to account for the few spices I used, and also a little cooking oil. Also, I was able to add some fresh greens into this very un-fresh diet because I grow them. I accounted for the seeds that would have been used to grow my kale, chard and burgeoning herbs. You will see that there is no tea or coffee on the list. These aren’t things I drink regularly so I happily did without, but most folk find that one or the other has to be bought and very much rationed – 1 tea bag for 3 uses kind of thing. As for salt, I used the stock cubes for any thing I wished to season. The cheap ones – 20 pence in my case – are very salty! All of my products were Tesco Value range or similar. Many of you can probably go even cheaper by buying at local vegetable markets, Aldi/Lidl, and Chinese or Asian grocers. Bargains on bread, fruit and vegetables can usually be had just before major supermarkets close for the day. If I had been able to find the baker at the Tesco bakery counter then I might have been able to get some free fresh yeast. I waited for ages but to no avail – so roti it is! Oh, and don’t expect to be able to afford dairy or any animal products other than eggs, although some folk (hello Ceri) have blagged free chicken carcasses to make stock! I am feeling very bloated and carb-bound right now, and certainly miss a variety of protein. And my beloved avocado! Like I said, spoiled.

MY MEAGRE SHOPPING LIST

Rice (1.5 kg) – 45p

Peanut Butter – 50p (it was reduced from 65p)

Baked Beans, 1 tin – 24p (I ate half as is, and rinsed the other half to add to homemade soup!)

Flour – 45p

Stock Cubes – 20p

Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1 kg; these were surprisingly good) – £1

Porridge Oats (250g) – 55p

Bananas (brown and spotty, so reduced) – 10p

Eggs (1/2 dozen) – £1

TOTAL SPENT: £4.49, leaving me with 51 pence for spices, accounting for my homegrown veg, some oil.

Next time I will post my menu for the week to give you some ideas if you fancy doing this yourself, or if you are just curious as to how anyone can make three meals a day on the above ingredients. You may be in for a surprise!

I turned these ingredients into a meal! See the next post for the recipe, and more.

I turned these ingredients into a meal! See the next post for the recipe, and more.

Meantime, here is our favourite thing I have made all week. Andrew, although he wasn’t doing the challenge with me as he was not around much this week (by design?), did have this quick and cheap version of a stew that I already make and we love. He absolutely loved it and said no one would be able to tell it was a budget soup. And the roti as accompaniment is a must. I made up the dough twice this week, twisting each portion into little snails for rolling out as I used them. One batch makes 4-6 roti/flatbreads. This is what I used for my bread, even having at breakfast with either a smear of peanut butter, or underneath a fried egg. Oh, btw, if more than one of you is doing the challenge you will obviously have more to spend and the money will certainly go further and give more variety. Club in with friends or colleagues if you wish. That is what the staff at Health Poverty Action are doing.

I hope you are tempted to give this challenge a go. It’s not easy but I have honestly found it a very rewarding week. And as my extra reward I am going to have another bowl of this soup. Slurp!

spicy-peanut-butter-soup // food to glow

Spicy Peanut Butter and Vegetable Soup with Roti

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

I made this for my week-long Live Below The Line challenge – sticking to a £1 a day budget – so the recipe reflects these restrictions. Please feel free to add beans or leftover meat to this dish for more protein. And to garnish as you please. Hard-boiled eggs, herbs, chopped lettuce and even bananas are fairly traditional toppings for this West African-style soup. The cost per serving works out at approximately 20 pence per bowl, max.

1 litre hot vegetable stock – I used a stock cube in this instance

3 cups frozen mixed vegetables – I used a value brand and it was fine

4 heaped tbsp (more to taste) of smooth peanut butter

4 tbsp oats (these thicken the soup and make it heartier)

1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, turmeric and cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or similar (optional)

Method: Add all of the ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. This tastes even better the following day.

roti-flatbread // food to glowRoti/Flatbread

I think this is the best way to enjoy bread on a very restricted budget. Make a batch and only roll out what you wish to use at that meal, storing the rest of the dough for the next day’s meal(s). Don’t skip out the “oiling and coiling” stages as this is what gives these breads their surprising flakiness. If you leave out the stock cube (my budget restrictions meant that I didn’t have salt so used stock cube to cover any salt “duties”) then these roti can be used for sweet purposes, as you would, say, toast and jam.

2 cups plain or bread flour (I used plain)

1/4 tsp fine salt or pinch of stock cube (leave out the stock cube if you wish to have the chapatis with anything sweet)

1 tbsp oil

Water

Method:

1) Add the flour and salt/stock cube crumbles( or use none at all) to a large bowl and stir. Add in the oil, stirring with one hand while you hold the bowl with the other. Open your fingers out and ‘rake’ through the flour as you stir to distribute the oil. Really drag your hand around the bowl. Then use your fingers to ‘pinch’ the clumps out, as you would for pastry.

2) Add a small amount of water  – about 1/4 cup – and stir again with your hand, gradually adding water until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Work it in the bowl until it is smooth, kneading it a few times.

3) Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a fat sausage shape, long enough to cut into 4-6 even pieces. Roll each piece to about 3 mm thickness, brush with a little extra oil and roll each up like a fat snake. Now coil each into a snail. Rest the dough for 20 minutes or in an airtight container, refrigerated, overnight.roti-flatbread // food to glowroti-flatbread // food to glow

4) Press flat each piece of dough that you wish to cook and roll as thinly as you dare.

5) Heat a heavy skillet (I used a cast iron one – brilliant) and slick with a tiny bit of oil. Lay on a rolled out piece of dough and cook on each side until bubbled and browned in places and it seems cooked through. Carry on with the remaining, and eat warm. If you are feeling decadent, brush the breads with melted butter before serving…

 

 

 

TYPE DESIGN-2Note: Posting this a few days later than I expected, but hopefully still relevant!

The tell-tale gold wrappers, fake grass and sticky fingerprints may still be around, but most of us are probably glad to see the back of the secular side of Easter. It has been weeks of indulging in hot cross buns, bright yellow Peeps, giant, over-priced choccie eggs and various fat and sugar-laden confections. And that is just the adults.

I used to adore Easter. We were pretty religious so Easter was mainly spent in church from sunrise until almost lunchtime. The passing hours on hard seats, variously genuflecting and standing in 80F + heat, had us kids deliriously day-dreaming about the Easter baskets waiting for us at home. The sermons and lessons might have been enthralling (we had a fantastic priest) but goodness me it was a long stretch for the fidgety amongst us.

Many Brits will be unfamiliar with this ritual but, for American children of my vintage era, the delicious pain of this deferred gratification was all the sweeter when, as soon as you burst through your front door you literally dove into your giant straw basket filled with hay and sweets and didn’t stop eating until you were called for lunch. I shudder to think how many calories we consumed in that one day but somehow, as most of us were skinny 70s kids with energy to spare, we used it up and were seemingly none the worse for it. The next day the basket was empty (with a little help from parents, obviously) and for me it was back to grilled cheese and dill pickles (my fave meal as an 8 year-old). There was none of this 30-day sugar-fest that seems the norm today. Maybe I am seeing this with the proverbial rose-tinted glasses but I really don’t think we had anything approaching the current level of excess that now surrounds us; due to our primitive programming most of us are pretty powerless to escape its sticky, gratuitous grasp.

Although I don’t go in for all the chocolate and hot cross bun stuff, I have been overdoing it on the dining out and wining out. So don’t think this post is aimed at you. This post is aimed squarely at me, and is a public reminder to myself to eat more mindfully and respect my body a bit more. Even just one day of ditching my green things and healthy juices and smoothies and I feel it. So, after a full week (and a bit) of nibbling and sipping with fairly wild abandon I am back on the proverbial wagon. I am making a public vow to cut out the white carbs, the empty calories (goodbye Prosecco, it was great while it lasted), the cheese board and everything else that is making me at this very moment feel like I should never eat again. Which is silly. I just need to eat the way I know feels right for me.

To get me back on track I have had a wee nosey around some delicious and health-oriented blogs to inspire me; I know they will inspire you too. I have also revisited some of my older posts and been surprised at some of the tasty recipes I have forgotten about over the years (a bit of a hazard of recipe development). I’m sharing those too.

Although I will be looking forward to trying many of these recipes, for this week I am doing the fantastic and blooming’ hard challenge, Living Below The Line. For five days this week I will be living on just £1 a day in aid of the Health Poverty Action charity. Other charities are participating but I choose HPA because 96p in every pound they receive goes straight to programmes that help the most marginalised communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. I will be checking in with you to tell you how I am getting on (probably quite badly as I am very spoiled!), the rationale behind this kind of challenge, and hoping that you will donate and/or participate yourself when the more public challenge begins in May. Here is where you can donate (and up my little fundraiser thermometer!), and here is more information on how you can get involved and maybe challenge yourself. Thanks to all who have donated so far!!

I'm #LivingBelowTheLine for Health Poverty Action. Please donate if you can. Thanks!

I’m #LivingBelowTheLine for Health Poverty Action. Please donate if you can. Thanks!

I know what to eat, you know what to eat. So let’s just do it, shall we?

12-Fab-and-Veggie-Recipes-To-Try Food To Glow

 Quinoa Bowl with Citrus, Avocado & Edamame – Food to Glow

Pad Thai Crepes (Open-Faced Omelettes) – Food to Glow

Brunch Frittata with Chimichurri – Whole Nourishment

Aubergine “Meatballs” – Deena Kakaya

Spicy Cauliflower-Cashew Bites with Buffalo Sauce – Food to Glow

Loaded Cauliflower Couscous Salad with Roasted Turmeric Chickpeas – Food to Glow

Tunisian Chickpea & Vegetable Tagine – Food to Glow

Pico de Gallo – Veggie Desserts

Super Duper Raw Power Salad – The Spicy RD

Mexican Sweet Potato & Puy Lentil Mole – Tinned Tomatoes

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Spiced Chickpeas – Natural Kitchen Adventures

Tempeh Reuben Bowls – The Muffin Myth

and, an image accidentally got left out, but I have to try Dannii’s Guac-Kale-Mole. Don’t you love the name?Guac-Kale-Mole-2-685x1024

12-Fab-and-Veggie-Recipes-To-Try Food To Glow

 Love Your Greens Soup – Food to Glow

Coconut & Lemongrass Tofu Soup – Food to Glow

Green Passion Smoothie – Food to Glow

Peach Matcha Smoothie – Recipes from a Pantry

Happy Tummy Tonic – Food to Glow

Apple, Avocado & Mint Smoothie – Tinned Tomatoes (a bit hidden in the image)

Wild Garlic Soup – Demuth’s (a bit hidden in the image)

Vegetarian Hot & Sour Soup – Smarter Fitter

Lavender and Mint Tea – The Spicy RD

Blood Orange & Berry Smoothie – Food to Glow

(Green &) Black Forest Smoothie – Food to Glow

Kale & Asparagus Asian Broth with Spelt – Amuse Your Bouche

and a little extra that I/you can’t miss Wild Garlic & Farro Soup from Bintu at Recipes From A Pantry

20000101-wild-garlic-muffin-soup-quiono-and-MS-summer-show118-1

Wild Garlic & Farro Soup from Recipes From A Pantry

This is the first time I’ve done a post like this, with collages and loads of links. It’s not perfect, but I hope you like it and click on a few of my friends’ recipes, and look around their sites for even more inspiration.

HAPPY MONDAY!! Now, I’m off to scoff a bowl of plain, water-only porridge for my £1 a day challenge lunch! I had an egg and some homegrown kale for breakfast, which filled me up to a point. I think I’m hungrier than usual because I know I shouldn’t have anything out of my budget! I’m cheating  by going to a wedding later today, and I’ll get my dinner (I can’t very well turn that down, can I?), but I’m back on it tomorrow. I’ll be posting my thoughts and menus over on Facebook and on Instagram if you want to follow me there. Wish me luck. :-)

 

 

 

 

raw-spring-vegetable-green-curry-soup by food to glowThis raw soup of fresh spring vegetables – and a strong hint of warm spice – is the perfect antidote to all of the chocolate and other indulgent foods many of us have been enjoying over the past week.

To make it you will need a powerful blender that can blitz hard vegetables into a smooth-as-silk soup. My Optimum 9400 from Froothie does this in seconds, and also heats the soup to a lovely warm temperature -just from friction alone. If you are using another type of blender, get the soup to the consistency that you wish, pour it into a pan and heat very gently – don’t boil, or even simmer, it. This way you will preserve all of those lovely nutrients and that super-fresh taste that only raw foods give. The OH (Andrew) really liked this, which I was kind of surprised about, to be honest!

I’ll be back soon with a ‘sharing post’ of great recipes from my fellow healthy food bloggers. These carefully selected recipes will help all of us step back from the nutritional precipice that was Easter eating. And no, they aren’t all raw. :-)

raw-spring-vegetable-green-curry-soup by food to glow

Spring Green Curry Soup (Raw)

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Gently heat the spice mix and oil, then add to the blender for the best taste, but you can add it straight in and not add the oil. The coconut milk powder/milk is optional and makes for a very different taste. See the note at the bottom if you are not used to eating raw foods in this way. Enjoy! xx

200g (7.3 oz) broccoli, cut into florets (include the stalk; it’s lovely and sweet)

125g (4 oz) courgettes/zucchini, sliced

1 medium carrot, sliced

1-2 spring onions, chopped (optional)

50g (2 oz) sugar snap peas or mangetout OR asparagus

80-100g (2.8 – 3 oz) young spinach

1 small thumb of fresh turmeric OR 1 tsp ground turmeric

1 mild green chilli (optional)

75g (2.6 oz) cashews OR organic tofu (cashews make a creamier soup)

1 tsp oil (optional)

1 tsp garam masala (I used a fantastic blend from Spice Kitchen – they hand blend every batch. Read more about this small family business here.) OR other Indian/Pakistani spice blend that you like

1 tbsp light (yellow) miso paste

1-2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder or equivalent crushed stock cube (or 2 tsp of stock powder instead of the miso but both together give a wonderful, balanced taste) – start with 1 tsp and only add a second one after you have blended  and tasted it

Hot water (about 1 & 1/2 cups, but it is up to you – and don’t add it all at once)

2 tbsp coconut powder or 4 tbsp coconut milk (optional)

a few basil leaves (optional)

A squeeze of lemon or lime to stir into each serving

Special equipment: powerful blender, such as my Optimum 9400 power blender, Vitamix* or Blendtec**.

1. Gently sauté the spice, blend in the oil and set aside.

2. Put half of the vegetables and cashews/tofu in the blender, along with one cup of hot water and blend until smooth and volume has greatly decreased. Add the other half of the vegetables and nuts, plus the curry powder/oil, miso and vegetable stock powder, and blend a bit more, perhaps adding additional hot water until you get the desired consistency. Be careful, you don’t want it watery. Taste and adjust the flavours as you like. Serve with lemon or lime juice and any garnishes leftover from the initial chopping (e.g. save back some asparagus tips or shaves of courgette)

Serve immediately for best nutrition and taste.

Note: for those not used to eating raw foods like this serve yourself a smaller bowl (a  quarter of the jug) than you would of a ‘normal’ soup. This is because, despite appearances, you are consuming a whole lot of veggies at once and you can feel very full very quickly!

FYI >> How the Optimum 9400 Super-Blender compares with other blenders in its class:

* Here is a link comparing the specifications of the Blendtec and the Optimum 9400 by Froothie.

** Here is a link comparing the specifications of the equivalent Vitamix with the Optimum 9400 by Froothie.

And here is a link to the comparison with the Nutribullet.spring-vegetable-gree-curry-soup-raw by food to glow

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Buying through my affiliate link will cost you no money but I will earn a small percentage to help cover the costs of running food to glow. I only endorse products that I use and love!

 

 

spring-onion-scallion-gravy food to glowGravy is to mashed potatoes what icing is to cake. Or syrup is to waffles. It closes the circle. Makes each complete. The potatoes, cake or waffles may be fine on their own, or a bit ‘so what’ and tolerable. But with the addition of said adornment, potato/cake/waffle are elevated. They may not have been much to start with, variously lumpy, dry or with freezer burn, but anointed with the right stuff, ‘meh’ can easily became ‘mmm’.

Mashed potato and gravy is what my husband calls food of the gods (not just one god – all of them). I may be a bit hasty in my assumption, but I think many men and not just a few woman feel thusly. We see it on a menu and – at least the females – hem and haw whether or not to choose it. Maybe I should have the boiled baby potato option, or the steamed broccoli? Even if you choose the other options, in your heart you wanted that bowl of mash and gravy, didn’t you? But when you do get it – at least in your average restaurant – gravy can often be a big beige puddle of congealing disappointment. How can gravy go so wrong? In a word, umami. Or lack of it.

If you have a meat-based gravy you are already there. Umami built right in. Umami, the fifth taste that food experts blather on about, is a unique and difficult to describe (but you know it’s there) “savoury taste imparted by glutamate and five ribonucleotides, including insinuate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods, including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products.” (from foodchannel.com).

All I know is that I crave it. Wild mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, soy sauce and ketchup are well-known for their umami-imparting qualities. Fan of all of them.

marmite by food to glow

love it or hate it, Marmite is key to a great vegetarian gravy

And so too is Marmite – yeast extract. Love it or hate it, it is a quintessential umami taste beloved of many Brits and British ex-pats. And now me, an ex-pat American. Used mainly to spread on hot, buttered toast or crumpets, yeast extract is absolutely vital for a flavourful vegetable-based gravy. You can chuck all of the hand-reared or lovingly purchased vegetables you want into a pan; slow-sweat them into sweet, melting submission; but without a dash of Marmite, or soy sauce, you will never have what the pleasure-centres in your brain are searching for.

Basically a good vegetarian gravy is the legal high of the food world. It fires up those neurons (or whatever) that says I want more of that. And then some more. And can you just let me pour that whole gravy boat into my mouth. Please.

There are loads of great vegetarian gravy recipes out there. Some with mushrooms, many with brown onions, some with just the full-tilt umami of soy sauce and nutritional yeast flakes. This one is mine. It is a great one for highlighting those perky and spring-fresh spring onions that are coming into their own just now. Perfect for the Easter table, Thanksgiving – any time that there are carbohydrates being celebrated.

spring-onion-scallion-gravy food to glowHere are 10 ways you can use this – or any – gravy:

1. A cheat’s mushroom stroganoff – stir up with sour cream/Quark/Tofutti, parsley and sautéed mushrooms; serve with buttered noodles or wild & brown rice

2. A saucy Chinese stir-fry – add in as you would a pour-in sauce, having first mixed with a little rice vinegar and five-spice powder

3. Rich, umami-licious soups, especially bean and vegetable ones (cabbage soup with added gravy is terrific)

4. Easy veggie pot pies – mix with lightly cooked vegetables and pour into individual baking dishes, top with pastry, mashed potato or even leftover Christmas/Thanksgiving stuffing and bake. It’s useful for flavouring veggie shepherd’s pie (shepherdess) and cottage pies – all savoury pies!

5. Veggie meatballs, gravy and rice or crusty bread

6. Poutine – not a recommendation, just an acknowledgement of fact! Ah, you Canadians. So like the Scots. :-)

7. A savoury crumble – mix the gravy with cashew cream or soft cheese and pour in an oiled baking dish. Top with coarse bread crumbs that have been mixed with butter or olive oil, plus some chunky nuts/seeds and chopped herbs. Bake and dive in!

8. Savoury bread pudding – mix gravy with beaten egg and pour over cubed stale bread. Let it soak in for an hour (press lightly to hasten the absorption) then bake until puffy and golden in places. Obviosuly eat this with LOADS of green veg.

9. Over waffles. With of without a bit of fried chicken. (again, not a food to glow recom; just being honest)

10. And of course, over mashed potatoes or any gorgeous but plain starchy carb (like bread) that you fancy. Or a savoury vegetable cake like this.

And a bonus idea – freeze it for another day!

spring-onion-scallion-gravy food to glow

Spring Onion {Scallion} Gravy

  • Servings: 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Gravy needs no introduction. It’s always useful, always welcome. Make more than you need. But I didn’t need to tell you that, now did I?

2 tbsp olive oil (not anything fancy)

1 large bunch of spring onions/scallions, trimmed lightly and chopped

Pinch of salt

1 bay leaf

1 ½ tbsp. cornflour/cornstarch/tapioca/arrowroot powder (put this in a small cup)*

450ml (2 cups) light vegetable stock

2 tsp Marmite or other yeast extract (failing that, why not try Maggi liquid seasoning or even red miso – not tried either here though)

Pepper, to taste

Soy sauce, to taste

1. Heat the onion in a skillet and slowly sauté the chopped spring onions with a little salt and the bay leaf, covered, for half an hour to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the heat on low as you just want the onions to sweat rather than colour. A little colour is fine, but just don’t burn!spring onions by food to glowspring-onion-scallion-gravy food to glow

2. Add a little cold water to the cornflour and stir until it is dissolved; pour onto the spring onions, along with the stock and the yeast extract. Bring to a simmer and let it bubble gently for 10 minutes to thicken. Taste and adjust as you see fit – adding more Marmite, or even a splash or two of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce.

3. Pour the gravy into a sieve and over a clean saucepan. Reheat gently and serve with anything!

* here is a link to all you need to know about thickening any gravy.

NOTE: 10 fab serving suggestions are given above the recipe.

gravy and savoury vegetable cake by food to glow

spring onion gravy and savoury vegetable cake by food to glow

 And for all of you Marmite fans – and not – here are some ‘fun facts’ about Marmite (I love number 4). 

beetroot-jerusalem-artichoke-gratin-boulangere food to glowPotatoes get more than their fair share of love. While not disliking potatoes, my grown up palate prefers other vegetables to this white, perfectly pleasant tuber.

I do persist in buying potatoes – keeping them cool and dark like one is supposed to – but more often than not these are the vegetables that grow eyes, eyes that plead “don’t throw me on the compost pile. Just scrape off the green and we are fine to eat.” They are lying of course. My poor husband, for whom mashed potato would be his desert island dish, usually has to get his potato lust sated elsewhere. What can I say?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not immune to the charms of the triple cooked chip, or the lure of softly creamy, garlic-scented dauphinoise. But mostly I am happy with other tubers and roots, and also to the grains and pseudo grains that fill the same hole in the diet and dish.

Maybe I am drawn to the colour of these other edibles. Perhaps I have trained myself over the (many, many) years to give potatoes the proverbial elbow, while embracing their more colourful soil-covered brethren. Maybe I am just a bit of a weirdo.

image-of-beets food to glowIn any case, other root vegetables and tubers can do all of the things that the ubiquitous potato can do. And more colourfully. Golden swede mash is delightful. Sweet potato chips are insanely good. Roasted celeriac is completely underrated. Beetroot, well, it doesn’t mash so well (it is a bit scary to be honest), nor chip up so nicely, but it certainly gratins up a storm. Or boulangeres up a storm. I’m actually confused as to how to categorise this dish. It has no cream or cheese, so I don’t think it is a gratin or dauphinoise. I am not sticking it under a roasting lamb, and it isn’t layered with thinly sliced onion, so boulangere it is not. You can decide.

Until British potatoes are coming through why not give this simple baked root vegetable dish a try? We are having this with my savoury vegetable cake, spring onion gravy (posting soon, I promise), creamed kale and these fennel and maple-roasted carrots. Well, actually we are having this on Saturday. Sunday is being spent at this fine St Andrews restaurant with family because Rachel – unbelievably – doesn’t have an Easter break: classes on Good Friday and Easter Monday. Heavens above!

I will be back next with my Spring Onion Gravy, which will be perfect for any Easter lunch. Except ours. I don’t think The Adamson has a ‘BYOG’ policy. ;) But perhaps I should just check…

beetroot-jeruslaem-artichoke-gratin food to glow

Beetroot and Jerusalem Artichoke Boulangere {Gratin}

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
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Gratin? Boulangere? Dauphinoise? This sweet, earthy and colourful baked vegetable dish is difficult to categorise, but not at all difficult to eat. It is an easily put together mélange of winter roots that is terrific not only as a side to any roast dinner, grilled fish, sausages, an omelette, but also a star in its own right with a crisp, seed-topped (for the protein) salad or on a buffet table. And of course, perfect for Easter.

Oh, and don’t be nervous of the lavender. In this amount it provides a background herbal, rather than overly floral, note. You could use all thyme leaves but the lavender really adds something special and intriguing.

Inspired by a recipe on williams-sonoma.com via kitchenkonfidential.com

1.5kg (3 lbs 5 oz) – or so – beetroot and Jerusalem artichokes. For the beetroot, try and obtain golden, chiogga (striped flesh) and red beets

5 tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil, divided use (use ghee/clarified butter for paleo diets)

75g (2.6 oz/1/2 cup) finely chopped shallots or mild onion

1 tsp chopped thyme leaves

1 tsp culinary lavender buds (more or less, depends on how strong the aroma is; mine is 2 years old and mild)

Bay leaf

A few grinds of pepper

120ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) hot light vegetable stock

Chives, to garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Oil or butter a gratin dish, heavy skillet or shallow pie dish of about 10 inches/23cm.

2. Wash and peel the beetroot then, using a mandolin if possible, thinly slice the beets into 2mm/1/16” rounds. For the Jersusalem artichokes, just scrub well and slice thinly with a mandolin, or by hand. I used many more beets than ‘chokes, but this is up to you. You could also use celeriac, carrots or swede or turnips/rutabaga in the mix too.

3. Warm the remaining butter or oil in a pan and sauté the chopped shallots slowly for five minutes, then add the herbs and pepper and sauté another minute.

4. Arrange the vegetables as you wish in your prepared dish. I tiled them in a rosette pattern(quite ineptly) but you could just layer them as you wish. Pour over the stock then pour or dab over and brush the herb and butter/oil mixture evenly over the top; tuck in the bay leaf. Cover tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the vegetable are very tender.

5. Garnish with chopped fresh chives or other fresh herbs that you like, such as chervil or parsley, and serve.

beetroot-jeruslaem-artichoke-gratin food to glowbeetroot-jeruslaem-artichoke-gratin food to glow

The rest of the Easter menu:  savoury vegetable cake, maple & fennel roasted carrots, creamed kale, spring onion gravy

The rest of the Easter menu: savoury vegetable cake, maple & fennel roasted carrots, creamed kale, spring onion gravy (recipe to follow very soon)

I am entering this over at Credit Crunch Munch (fuss free flavours, fab food 4 all, and utterly scrummy). Why don’t you enter your own thrifty recipe?? And what about adding to Karen’s Cooking with Herbs ? And every week the lovely Emily hosts the very popular #recipeoftheweek. Go and add yours and maybe you will be one of her featured bloggers.

spring-wreath // food to glowYou will have gathered from the above image that this isn’t a recipe post. But it is something natural, foraged and for the table – a natural, spring wreath.

I grew up in the US, the land of the front door wreath. While wreaths have been around since Roman times to celebrate sporting prowess, military success, love and even just to provide a welcome, modern materials and holidays have upped the ante quite a bit. Usually made from synthetic materials, today’s all-weather wreaths are often themed, ready-made and get dragged out of the attic when it is seasonally appropriate. I have some that I bought ages ago that get stuck to the front and kitchen doors every Christmas. They don’t match, they are bit tired, but it is tradition.

I am glad to notice however, a trend on Pinterest towards living wreaths, especially the gorgeous, succulent plant wreaths. A friend’s mum made one for her and I fell in love, vowing to make one myself. Which I haven’t done as yet. But I will.

While I have absolutely nothing against ‘un-natural’ wreaths as such, especially if they are used again and again and not just chucked in the rubbish when, say, Christmas is over, how much nicer to put together a welcoming cheerful orb made of living plants and found objects?

Or, if time and resources are limited, why not make a temporary, but still beautiful natural wreath?

spring-wreath // food to glowI was inspired to make this simple spring-inspired decoration by 1) a naked willow wreath hanging on a wall, 2) the beautiful wild plants I see on my walks, and 3) er, my moss-covered lawn. If we had a lawn. A lawn implies grass, which we have not. Overshadowed by a massive oak that actually obscures our house on Google Earth (I am not exaggerating), and bounded by high hedges and other trees, a fair bit of our poor garden is deeply shaded and dry, dry, dry. We are awaiting the arrival of a scarifier to exfoliate and rejuvenate our poor soil and get rid of the moss, but before it went I thought I might actually try and turn our moss problem into a project. So, here is what I did:

I got my willow wreath off the wall and gave it a wee dust. You could use something similar, or even a grass/hay one. What you really want is to have a wreath that you can tuck things into. Because you will use natural bits and bobs, a glue gun probably won’t do you much good. And we are trying to keep it low-tech.

Next came the add ons. I had gathered some pussy willow stems from a walk I went on to pick wild garlic and nettles. I must have looked quite the pioneer/mad woman with my scissors, carrier bag full of green weeds and some pussy willow wedged under my arm. Luckily I don’t care. At the time I popped the willow stems dry into a vase and just admired the fluffy buds, but when I thought about making the wreath the beautiful silvery textured stems immediately sprang to mind. We also have ivy growing over a fence or two so I went out and snipped lengths of it – the younger leaves and tendrils being the most pliable and amenable to craft work. And then there was that damn moss. To make this suitable for a dining table you would want to use sterilised, bagged moss from a craft store, but as mine is for a hall table I just got a flat trowel and lifted the rootless moss straight off the earth. Oh, and I had some leftover quails’s eggs from this recipe, so I blew them out (it is very fiddly). As you do. You could buy pre-blown ones or use artificial ones. Or not use them at all.spring-wreath // food to glow

I then took everything outside and set to creating. I shaped the moss around the wreath, tucking it in the hollows. I think it looks good with some of the wreath showing, but you could cover the whole thing. I then wrapped the ivy around parts of the wreath, including the sides – again, tucking in the ends. If you have a long length of ivy it would be nice to wrap it round and round. With the stems of budded willow I cut short, slightly irregular lengths and anchored them into the wreath’s hollows. If you don’t have willow – or you want a splash of colour – use narcissi or muscari. But these will begin to fade and wilt very quickly so is really only suitable for wreaths for a specific date or if you can renew them as the blossoms fade. If you use quail’s eggs you will need to attach them by pushing a short pin (sequin pins, if you have them) through the underside of a stem of ivy and into the egg. Or, do as I did and just lay them carefully where you want them, nestling them into the moss. If you aren’t moving the wreath around the house then just laying them should suffice. Lastly, I placed it on a white flat plate and popped in some random candles I scavenged from around the house.spring-wreath // food to glow

I made the wreath over a week ago and it still looks lovely and welcoming in the hall. I might mist it with some water to see if it lasts longer but as I have everything I need to renew and even alter the wreath I might just do that.

In truth this was something I did on the spur of the moment, and wasn’t even going to blog it. But as I had got such a lovely response on Instagram I thought I might share it with you too. I hope you like the idea, if not the slightly ‘rustic’ outcome. It is certainly a bit rough and ready but if you have a lawn full of moss and an old wreath sitting around not doing anything, you could do worse that make this up with your own spring foraged finds. I didn’t inherit my mother’s crafting gene, but I do think this is something that even the most inept of crafters (me) can get away with. Just. :-) Oh, and if you want, do follow me on Instagram for fun things that don’t show up here, like today’s kimchi (!) nachos, and general food to glow recipe development nonsense. Rarely a selfie in sight, although I do play with my food.

What decorations are you making for Easter or Passover? Do you have any crafting knowledge to share?spring-wreath // food to glow

vegan-banana-ice-cream by food to glowVegan banana ice cream probably needs no introduction. Although it has long been a vegan-community secret, suddenly, a few years ago, this creamy, dreamy concoction started zinging around the Internet and into the conscience of dessert-lovers everywhere. You may have even made it yourself.

At its simplest it is just blitzed up coins of frozen banana scooped straight out of your food processor or blender and into one’s gob. One-ingredient ice cream. Job done. But as with any simple idea it is fun to play. Take pizza. A margherita pizza is absolutely the business. A favourite world-wide. But add thinly sliced veggies, hot peppers and oil-cured olives and you take it up a notch, and pack in even more goodness. And in a fun, effortless way. That’s what I have done here. Or at least tried too. Not the olives and peppers obvs. ;-)

My still-healthy take on this fabulously, ridiculously easy way to enjoy a frozen dessert is to add protein. Not with powders, or heaven forbid, beans. No, with tahini. Or you could use any nut or seed butter you have kicking around (I will add this sunflower seed butter next time). In keeping with the slightly middle eastern vibe I have also added a touch of cardamom, and some black sesame seeds too. For added texture and a certain fudginess (a la Ben & You Know Who) I have popped in some soaked and chopped deglet nour dates after blending. And a swirl of date syrup. The latter two may be a bit over the top actually but these are options for the really sweet of tooth. The funny looking beige things on top of one dish are roasted pear pieces. I also blitzed some raw pear into the ice cream on one round of testing, but I wasn’t so keen on the result as it did change the texture. Best to stir in or top the scoops with any fruity extras.

Dear Ripe Bananas, Get out of the fruit bowl and into the freezer!

Dear Ripe Bananas: Get out of the fruit bowl and into the freezer!

Vegan banana ice cream is yet another reason to keep a stash of frozen bananas in your freezer. Why should smoothies get all the bananas?

What will YOU add to YOURS? 

vegan-banana-ice-cream food to glow

Vegan Banana Ice Cream

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
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Use the basic premise of the one-ingredient ice cream to dream up your own creamy-textured treat. You can skip all of the suggestions and literally just bung some frozen banana pieces into a powerful blender or food processor and eat it right away without it going in the freezer – quite soft but still very good. :-)

Oh, and if you like my little bowls, my dear friend Niki at unified space (contemporary homewares designer) got them for me from ceramic artist, myerhalliday.co.uk. She visited his Edinburgh workshop in the famed Coburg House collective and was spoiled for choice. She could have got anything from him and it would have been perfect.

4 bananas (or start with two for a first go at it to see if you like this kind of thing) – frozen as chunks or as whole peeled bananas, then cut

3 tbsp tahini, peanut butter, almond butter etc

Splash of almond milk or coconut milk

Extra bits…

1/2 tsp ground cardamom or cinnamon – optional

3 dates, soaked in warm water until softened, then sliced – optional

1 tbsp date syrup or maple syrup – optional (gives it a darker colour)

1 tsp black sesame seeds – optional

cacao nibs, for garnishing or stirring in – optional

1 small pear, chopped, tossed in a 1/2 tsp oil and roasted in 200C/400F oven for 15-20 minutes – optional

Special equipment – food processor (smaller bowl works best if you have options) or powerful blender.

Note: Some people find that food processors work best as it is easier to get the ice cream out of a food processor. I had no issues with my Froothie. My ‘beast’ made ultra smooth ice cream in seconds and the elongated and curved scraper that comes with it gets all the goodness out of the jug and into your bowl (or mouth, if you can’t wait!). The ultra-quick blitzing in a power blender compared to a food processor makes for an ice cream that really doesn’t need to go in the freezer before it can be scooped.

1. Put the banana pieces, tahini and a small splash of (almond) milk in your food processor or blender. Blend until you get a creamy-smooth consistency. Because the bananas are frozen they break down in stages, the first being kind of granular (and you think, oh god, this isn’t going to work!), then sticky (this is the pectin breaking down), then lumpy like hospital porridge, then et voilà – ice cream! You will need to scrape down the sides once or twice.

2. Pop the now-ice cream into a chilled container and stir in anything you fancy (see above, or your own imagination – chocolate syrup! choc chips! fresh fruit! nuts!). Freeze until solid. Top with roasted pear pieces if you made them, cacao nibs (also shown), a fruity or chocolatey sauce. As-is is perfect though: dodgy pictures of mine notwithstanding.

A few other interesting vegan frozen desserts for you to peruse:

A Trio of Vegan Ice Creams and Sorbet – simplify your health

Bountilicious Chocolate and Coconut Dairy-free Ice Cream – kavey eats

Vegan Cinnamon Ice Cream with Maple Roasted Radishes – veggie desserts

Salted Caramel Vegan Ice Cream – simplify your health

All-fruit Ice Lollies (Popsicles) – food to glow

 

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This recipe is MADE for this month’s dairy free Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge hosted by Kavey Eats.IceCreamChallenge_thumb1_thumb

This post contains an affiliate link. Making a purchase via my affiliate link will earn me a small commission but not cost you any extra money whatsoever. I affiliate with and recommend only brands and products I truly believe in.

blood-orange-berry-smoothie // food to glowNature is most surprising. At a time when nothing much is ready to eat in the spring garden (at least here in the UK), some of the brightest, most nutritious fruits are at their peak. Throughout the bleak winter months, with root crops and cold-stored orchard fruits doing their best to sustain us, citrus is one of two bright spots, the other being pomegranates. A bowl of these bold and voluptuous fruits on the coffee table not only cheers, it restores and nourishes too.

blood-oranges // food to glow

blood oranges // food to glow

not much anthocyanin-red left, but still juicy & delicious!

And now, just past the March midpoint, with spring warmth looming tantalisingly close, Spanish imports of oranges are still plentiful and cheap. All eating oranges are pretty special, but the jewels in the citrus crown are sparkling, fragrant blood oranges, with the lustiest specimens coming from their native Italy. Be quick though, they will be gone before you know it. To be honest, the best ones, picked when the winter chill has done the necessary task of producing the characteristic blood-red pigment (cancer-fighting anthocyanins), are perhaps gone as warmer weather lessens the visual and unique nutritional content. But what can still be plucked from shops and savvy markets are still worth buying.

I am buying blood oranges every few days, boxing and coxing between supermarket and small corner shop, playing a happy roulette: will that mottled ruby flesh reveal a crimson, dripping interior or standard – but still beautiful – orange? Other than the arresting colour, it is the surprising overtones – not even hint: actual overtones – of ripe raspberries. Irresistible. Utterly irresistible. Get them while you can. Or, if you are in the US, California provides your blood orange fix from May to November. You lucky so and so’s. ;-)

frozen-blood-orange // food to glow

frozen blood orange – phone snap

Oh, before I give you the recipe I must pass on a little tip I chanced on by accident. For some unknown reason I put a blood orange in the freezer. I found it a couple of days later, peeled it (easy peasy) and breeched the chilled flesh with a tentative bite. Oh. My. Goodness. Instant sorbet! The little vesicles of juice in each segment meld into one another to produce a uniform texture that mimics churned sorbet. Try it for yourself. Move over frozen grapes, there’s a new healthy frozen treat in town! At least for a few more weeks. Gah, I will be sad to see blood oranges go.

Do you love blood oranges too? Have you done anything special with them?

blood-orange-berry-smoothie // food to glow

phone snap

Creamy Blood Orange Smoothie

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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The fruit powder, carrots, hemp seeds and bee pollen are all extras, but well worth adding for a unique taste as well as nutrition boost to this already uber-nutritious breakfast smoothie. It is especially worth noting that the betacarotene in the carrots and the anthocyanins in the berries and blood oranges may help to protect cells even more than these compounds do on their own.

 What I would say is necessary is to use either a frozen banana or frozen berries (or both): adding ice to smoothies is a last-resort kind of thing, imo.

You can freeze this creamy, dreamy drink to make a gorgeous dessert, too. 

1 small banana (frozen if you like)

2 small/1 large carrot, cut into chunks

2 blood oranges

100g/1 heaped cup of (frozen) berries – I used brambles and raspberries I picked last summer near my house

2 tsp bee pollen, optional for vegans

2 tbsp hemp seeds (leave out if you don’t have a powerful blender like my Froothie, or a Vitamix)

2 tsp berry powder, such as raspberry, or something like the fantastic sea buckthorn powder I recently received from Finnberry

4 heaped tbsp kefir or unsweetened live yogurt of choice (here’s a vegan kefir recipe that is great)

400ml/ 1 & 2/3 cups milk of choice (I use almond milk)

sweetener to taste, if needed (I sometimes add a teaspoon of local Scottish heather honey, which seems to have similar properties to manuka honey, although with a caveat. But I just love it for the taste)

1. Peel and cut up the oranges, removing any seeds. Pop everything into a high-powered blender until creamy-smooth. Top with extra hemp seeds and bee pollen if you like. Enjoy!

blood-orange-berry-smoothie // food to glow

Other recipes for blood oranges

Blueberry and Blood Orange Smoothie – recipes from a pantry

Roasted Blood Orange and Asparagus – recipes from a pantry

Brown Sugar Meringues with Grilled Rhubarb and Blood Oranges – how to cook good food

10 Wonderful Ways With Blood Oranges – readers digest

Blood Orange Posset – cook sister {very indulgent!}

Vanilla Rhubarb with Blood Oranges – food to glow

Matcha Yogurt Breakfast Bowl with Blood Oranges – food to glow

Roasted Citrus, Olives, Freekeh and Grilled Romaine – food to glow

savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glowThis is simply one of the nicest cakes I’ve made – sweet or savory. And it is not just the taste, wonderful though it is.

When I was doodling ideas for this Easter recipe in my little black book I had a feeling that it would be a keeper. The deep, herbaceous freshness of just-picked nettles and wild garlic, backed up with soft, slippery spinach and hidden depths of earthy-but-not-overwhelming porcini: that’s going to be a bit of all right, no matter what. But I wasn’t expecting to fall in love. Not with something so simple and practically free. Okay, the porcini are not free, but the dried ones I used aren’t too budget-stretching. So, free-ish.

foraged-wild-garlic-nettles food to glow

Foraged wild garlic & nettles, picked in Cramond & Barnton, Edinburgh

I should have realised that I would fall in love. As I folded the wilted greens into the loose spelt batter I was pleased I hadn’t done so in my normal manner – with the arm-cramping vigour of a stout Victorian cook. Instead I gently scooped the batter around the greens in a loose figure of eight, trying to incorporate enough air to ensure good lift, and noticed it had marbled beautifully. It seemed perfect in its bumpy, swirling imperfection. And if a cake looks pretty in its infancy, before it’s had a chance to brown and beautify and actually become a cake, well that’s a good omen, isn’t it? I popped this painterly melange into the oven and went about my domestic duties. While it was in the oven I nipped upstairs to grab a pile of clothes to wash, and was stopped in my tracks at the top of the landing. The smell. The deepest waft of umami. And it was coming from my kitchen.savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glow

It will be coming from my kitchen at Easter, too. We will be having this savoury, foraged cake with these carrots, possibly some asparagus, and definitely this creamed kale (yes, I know, quite a few greens). Oh, and some spring onion gravy. I’ll post that in a couple of days. It deserves its own post, I think. Savory vegetable cakes deserve delicious gravy. And so do you.

Below the recipe I give links to other vegetable cakes suitable for the Easter table, or for any time you fancy eating cake for dinner. :-)

savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glow

Savory Spinach, Wild Garlic, Nettle & Porcini Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
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This is an easy and pretty flexible recipe. No nettles? Use all spinach. No wild garlic? Just use one small clove of bulb garlic. And of course use any deeply flavoured mushroom rather than porcini – but if you do you will miss out on the deep umami notes that porcini brings to this. Oh, I’ve given options for adding cheese, as well as olives, sun-dried tomatoes or walnuts, too. Like I said, flexible. Vegans, use your normal egg replacer and you’ll be just fine.

150g (5 oz) self-raising whole-grain (spelt) or wholemeal flour (I use Doves)*

150g (5 oz) self-raising white (spelt) flour*

½ tsp baking powder OR 2 ½ tsp if you don’t have self-raising flour

200g fresh spinach, washed

50g (1.8 oz) fresh, picked over nettle tops (the top five or six leaves from each plant)

30g (1 oz) wild garlic (about a double handful), chopped OR 1 small clove garlic, minced

20g (small palmful) dried porcini mushrooms soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, saving the soaking water**

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch spring onions/scallions, trimmed and sliced

1 tbsp Marmite or other yeast extract spread (if no Marmite or similar, try 2 tbsp dark soy sauce although it is not a real substitute)

½ tsp fresh ground pepper

4 eggs

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

200ml (6.75 fl oz) water OR liquid saved from blanching the vegetables and from the porcini soaking (I do the latter – no waste and more flavour)

Optional add-ins: 125g grated strongly flavoured cheese, such as vegetarian Parmesan, pecorino Romano, or vintage Cheddar; 75g chopped walnuts; handful of chopped olives; small handful chopped sundried tomatoes

To garnish for Easter: watercress or lamb’s lettuce/ mache + cooked quail’s eggs (Sally tells you how) or olives

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Oil a 20cm/8 inch round removable bottom tin and line with parchment paper. You could also use a 900g/2 lb loaf tin – oiled and lined, mini loaf tins or muffin tins – the latter two just oiled and lightly dusted with flour.parchment

2. Dry whisk the flours and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

3. Blanch the spinach and nettles in boiling water for 2 minutes, adding the wild garlic the last 30 seconds. Drain in a colander, catching as much of the liquid as you can to use in a bit. Run a cold tap and rinse the vegetables to cool them. Drain and press out the liquid with a spoon. You don’t want the vegetables to be soggy or it will affect the cake. Chop, blot with kitchen paper, and set aside.

4. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the spring onions, Marmite, pepper and soaked porcini (chop or snip the porcini first). Cook, stirring, until the spring onion is just soft but not golden – about three minutes. If you are using garlic rather than wild garlic, sauté this with the onions. Set aside to cool.

5. Add the eggs, soaking/cooking water, and vinegar to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then stir in the softened onions and mushrooms. Gently fold in the wilted greens and any add-ins you wish.

6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is just pulling away from the tin and the top is golden. Just to be sure, pierce the centre with a skewer or toothpick and check that no batter clings to the tip. Every oven is different so do check just before 35 minutes and judge for yourself how long to keep it in. It will also depend on if you have added extra bits to the batter. Mini loaf tins or muffin tin versions should take about 12-15 minutes.savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glow

6. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then release and remove the paper. Pop the cake on a baking rack or serving plate, and cool enough to allow you to decorate with the watercress and quails eggs, as shown. Serve with a big jug of vegetarian onion or mushroom gravy. I’m posting my spring onion gravy next, so look out for it. Serve warm or room temperature.

* can use gluten-free flour mix (such as Bob’s Red Mill or Doves), but add 50ml more liquid.

** the UK porcini picking season starts in September, depending on weather conditions. They are one of the few wild mushrooms that you can eat raw. You can freeze them (indeed buy bags of frozen ones at farm shops, and sometimes even Lidl!), and drying them intensifies their flavour. I plan on dusting off my dehydrator and drying my own this autumn. Here’s more info about picking and using porcini. And a lesson in mushroom dehydration from top forager and medical herbalist, Monica Wilde (yes, that’s her real name. Nominative determinism in action!). She has a fantastic site for all things foraged, as well as superb recipes. I’ve met her a few times and she is incredibly passionate about wild foods and shares her knowledge eloquently and generously. Here is a link to her foraging walks and courses she holds in Scotland (mainly near Edinburgh, but not always), sometimes with the fabulous (River Cottage) mycologist and raconteur, John Wright.

savory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glowsavory-spinach-wild-garlic-porcini-cake food to glowquails-eggs food to glow

 More savory vegetable cakes

Cheesy Chickpea Cake – amuse your bouche

Savory Vegetable Loaf – gourmande in the kitchen {paleo}

Savory Vegetable Cake – farm on plate {Indian flavours}

Cauliflower Cheese Cake – food to glow

Sunny Spring Vegetable Muffins – food to glow

Celeriac & Carrot Rosti Cake -food to glow

After a bit of a link-sharing drought I wish to share this with a couple of choice round-ups: the new Simply Eggcellent over at Belleau Kitchen; Extra Veg via Utterly Scrummy, Fuss Free Flavours and Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary; and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too. Go and have a look at all of the fab recipes others have shared, and feel free to link your own. :-)

 

 

 

 

lookwhatifoundWelcome to a new feature here on Food To Glow, “Look What I Found!” Friday.

I always love to know about other bloggers’ foodie finds – clever kitchen products, intriguing ingredients, homegrown produce, delectable goodies plucked from the local markets. Celia is the standard bearer for the “In My Kitchen” posts, so I hope she doesn’t mind if I join in.

Depending on what comes into my kitchen I hope to put together a monthly post combining what I’m growing (slug holes and all) and foraging, what I’ve found in the supermarkets and smaller independents/markets, what I’ve been sent to try, any gadgets that catch my fancy (and pass the ‘out and using’ test), and perhaps even tips that are making my cooking and blogging life easier. I might even try my hand at short videos if I can get my tripod to lock!

So, here goes! I hope you enjoy seeing what I have found.DSC_1408

First up, I was recently sent a half dozen of “Skinnylicious” soups from Glorious! Foods. I won’t say I was sceptical before tasting, but Scots are known as much for their soups as their baking, and I have adopted the sniffy attitude to bought of both. But I was more than pleasantly surprised. Very. Not only were all of these soups of a good consistency (not thin, like some other ‘skinny’ soups) but every single pot was a distinct globally inspired recipe, ‘peppered’ with loads of spice, and containing proper ingredients that you would expect to find in a homemade soup. The Glorious! Foods brand are all well within the FSA 2012 salt guidelines, too – which is good to know as soups are notorious for being harborers of excess sodium.

I gave some away for others to taste, and got the thumbs up from both expert testers (my MIL Ann, and neighbour Kath – thanks ladies!). I will happily buy these when I know I have an extra busy week. My favourite one? Persian Hug. Available in most larger UK supermarkets.

DSC_1382 Jerusalem artichokes, love them or not, these knobbly root vegetables are abundant in the farm shops and in most supermarkets right now. Known quasi-affectionately as the “fartichoke” (sorry if you are eating whilst reading), this prebiotic-containing tuber just loves British weather. So much so that a neighbour practically begged me to take 11 kg off her hands. I am sharing them at work next week, but have left a goodly amount for ourselves to use in this rather decadent risotto, soups and just roasted.

 

(first image) Here’s an oil I’ve been using a lot in my kitchen. I buy it from my local Marks & Spencer food hall. The gorgeous azure-blue bottle is what initially caught my eye, then I read the words ‘smoked olive oil‘ and knew I had to buy it. I’m on my third bottle… For drizzling not cooking, btw. You can also find this Spanish Arbequina olive oil through Amazon.

(middle image)The last time I was in the US I bought this grindable Sriracha seasoning by Dean Jacob’s. I know I didn’t pay full price for it – I just now found it online and KNOW I didn’t pay that price- so I think it must have been at TJ Maxx, or another discounter. If you see something similar, do get it if you like spicy popcorn, a flurry of spice on a more sober dip, or punchy poached eggs. It’s a notch up from other flavour blends I’ve tried, and it is sometimes good to have the distinctive sriracha flavour but without the added liquid.

(final image) And I love this new-to-me matcha tea from London-based company, Bloom Tea. Anyone who knows me (or follows my Instagram feed) knows of my fondness/weakness/obsession for matcha tea (cold, if you please). This pot has the perfect pick-me-up combination of matcha green tea, ginseng and ginger, but I note that there are 7 other intriguing blends to try (Brainboost has my name all over it). Love this. I bought mine at the Edinburgh Harvey Nichols Foodmarket, but you can also find it at Selfridges, Whole Foods, Planet Organic and order online through their website. My go-to everyday matcha usually comes from Teapigs or Vitalife.fresh-turmeric by food to glow

Regular readers will also know that I am a big fan of turmeric. In fact, my most popular non-cancer specific post is for  Spiced Golden Turmeric Milk. As a family we drink this very often, and not just if we feel we are coming down with something. I actually drink this more than I do hot tea or coffee (but not as much as I do cold matcha green tea). Not only does it seem to cure what ails you (only slightly hyperbolic), it tastes good too.  I keep a stash of these little roots/rhizomes in my freezer, just peeling with a teaspoon when I want to use them (no need to defrost), and finely grating. I also throw them in some smoothies too.

“But I don’t like turmeric,” I hear some of you say: If you find dried, ground turmeric too harsh or bitter, fresh is much milder in taste, with a pleasantly earthy aroma. It’s really worth finding and using in this milk, in curry paste mixes, with oily fish, to mix with olive oil and black pepper as a bread dip, to flavour and colour savoury baked goods. I even use it in sweet things too (I add it to this lemon-berry polenta cake to boost the colour). I don’t really recommend supplements for most people but I do suggest using turmeric in some way, shape or form most days. Spiced golden turmeric milk is the quickest way I know. Plus it’s an excuse to drink cardamom!productcollage1I was sent these stunning fruit crisps earlier in the year and I am ashamed to say I am only now telling you about them. They are not the cheapest of products but they literally have just the fruit that is named on the beautifully illustrated pack and a tiny smudge of oil. The result is an intense hit of the fruit and a deep satisfying ‘crisp’ crunch. The apple ones even have peel on them, as well as a few crunchy pips! My favourite flavour is the pineapple. If I had been sent three pack of pineapple crisps I still wouldn’t have any left to photograph! Perhaps it is just as well that they aren’t in supermarkets (available in many UK farm shops, and on-line).

Another nice little snack are these puffy, crunchy quinoa & seeds multigrain cakes from Kallo. I am familiar with most of the Kallo range but I spotted these attractively packaged newbies at the supermarket and, of course, had to buy them. In the interests of research mind you. They have a touch of sweetness, which is different to their mostly savoury range of wholegrain crackers. But only a little. One cake would be nice little lunchbox snack with a pot of yogurt and a dinky box of fruit.

Lastly, my favourite find of the month was not actually discovered this month, but rediscovered. I had first tasted these incredibly addictive fennel and cumin cheese sables (crackers) some time back at the Stockbridge Sunday Market. The makers, The Pea Green Boat, are a tiny artisan food company in nearby Cockenzie and have been attending various Scottish markets selling out of their Scotch eggs (they have glorious veggie ones), gluten-free brownies and tubs of these delicate, small-bite crackers. The sables are now stocked at Earthy Foods where I rediscovered their tongue-tantilising delights. It was very very hard not to scoff the lot in one sitting (they are so light, who could blame me). Now I don’t have to wait until Sundays… Fun fact: Maddy Corbin, who founded and runs The Green Pea Boat, is the daughter of Pam “the Jam” Corbin (author of two River Cottage handbooks. I have – and love – this one.). Good food is obviously in the blood.

I’ll be back soon with a recipe. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions of healthy, or healthy in moderation, products, do let me know. I can’t guarantee to cover it (especially if it isn’t available in the UK as I would need to try it for myself) but I will look at all suggestions. Thanks!

Wild Garlic (left) & Young Nettle Tops (right)

Wild Garlic (left) & Young Nettle Tops (right)

citrus-collage by food to glow

One last find – the last of the blood oranges + a fragrant bergamot lemon

P.S. There are NO affiliate links in this post.

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