Sorry if I am being too technical, but I just can’t help myself. You know me – such a tech head. Joke. Continue reading
Despite my main oven literally blowing up this past week (cue catering panic), I had a strong urge to bake. Luckily I know that my tiny conventional ‘top’ oven is a pretty efficient baker. While my workhorse fan oven gets (got) the cast iron pots of slow-cooked stews and sheets of vegetables to roast, the dinky top oven gets the oh-ah stuff, the baking. So despite jet lag, and the energy levels of a particularly lazy sloth, I gathered my baking ingredients and got stuck in. I could’ve opted for these crunchy, delicate Cashew and Three-Ginger Biscuits (store cupboard ingredients). And I knew my daughter would love me forever if I made Marbled Peanut Butter and Jam Banana Bread (alas, no bananas). But I knew it had to be bread bread.
For me travelling solo is quite a chore. Even familiar airports I find confusing, and the security stressful. Add to this weather delays and cancellations at either end – polar vortex (again) and a tornado watch – and by the time I open my front door I am ready to collapse in a messy puddle of hormones, airline food and stale clothing. If I only I weren’t so dehydrated. As I said, solo travelling is a chore. Continue reading
I was very kindly asked by Elaine over at foodbod to tell her readers about me and my blog. I have never done a reblog before but I enjoyed answering her questions and thought that some of you might like to hear a bit about why I started the blog. Elaine and I like many of the same foods too, so please go over and have a look through her archive too! Back soon with a new recipe for you x
One can buy very good bought curry pastes nowadays, but there is just something extra-bright and fresh about a homemade paste. And it isn’t hard to make: I just pop everything into the bowl of my little mini chop thingy* and press ‘on.’ It is that easy. Continue reading
Despite the clearly undisguised green of this green smoothie, I pretty much guarantee that once sipped even the the most stridently anti-greens guy or gal will at least say, ‘hmm, not as bad as I thought it was going to be.’ Score!
If they are actually scared to try it either say 1) ‘will you just get over yourself’ (my option if I’ve had no sleep), or 2) ‘I will pay you. Just try it.’ Or a combination of the two.
If it is your good self who is unaccountably afraid of the big bad green smoothie, just take a gander at the ingredients: pineapple, clementine, banana. And a little bit of spinach. The mild, baby stuff. If you can handle the more bitter end of the leafy greens – I’m talking about kale really – go for it. The more bitter the better from a nutrition and disease-prevention standpoint.
Whether a novice green smoothie maker/imbiber or not, most fruit (and vegetable) smoothies are best if at least one of the ingredients is frozen. I know you can use ice – and I sometimes do – but having a secret squirrel stash of chopped bananas and/or pineapple in the deep freeze makes it ‘creamier,’ colder and not at risk of being watered down. The matcha tea is entirely optional but I always have a tin of it (owing to a mild addiction to cold green tea with lemon, even in the winter) so tend to put it in smoothies whatever the ingredients. And the citrus enhances green tea’s anti-cancer properties.
To be perfectly honest I would not advocate having something like this every day. I think whole fruits are better because it is easier to know when you have had enough – calories and satiety. But this kind of smoothie is a great way to get green-haters to at least try their enemy and have an opportunity to like them. And homemade smoothies are completely under your control – adjust the taste and amount to your liking, and know exactly what is in it and how fresh it is. Fantastic for control freaks like myself.
So, are you in?
A cracking way to start the day – a bit tangy, a bit sweet, and a bit green. And there’s green tea powder too if you are like me and don’t do coffee.
The level of deliciousness hinges on the ripeness of the pineapple; don’t go to all the trouble of hacking up an unripe one, just opt for best quality canned or bottled. I’ve never had to do that, but perhaps I’ve just been lucky. Here’s a guide to choosing a ripe pineapple.
1 ripe banana, frozen if possible*
Double handful of baby spinach leaves, or other mild greens of choice, washed (about 2 packed cups)
1 cup diced fresh or quality canned pineapple (frozen too if you can) OR kiwi, peeled
2 clementines, mandarins or satsumas OR 1 large orange, peeled
2 tsp powdered green tea (Japanese-style matcha, not instant) – optional
1 cup almond milk or other milk of choice
5 ice cubes if not using frozen fruit
1. Add all to a blender and blitz until creamy-smooth like an old-fashioned milkshake. Drink immediately.
Note: You can leave out the banana (I’m not a big banana fan) but it does add greatly to the texture, and the pineapple pretty much neutralizes any strong banana taste. Add another banana if you like a more tropical, or sweeter, taste. Or, how about a kiwi?
“Give her a Chelsea bun, miss! That’s what most young ladies like best!” The voice was rich and musical, and the speaker dexterously whipped back the snowy cloth that covered his basket, and disclosed a tempting array of the familiar square buns, joined together in rows, richly egged and browned and glistening in the sun.” — Lewis Carroll, A Tangled Tale
Sticky, swirly, raisiny. What’s not to love about a Chelsea bun? Continue reading
It doesn’t happen often, but I have just rendered my daughter speechless. Not that she’s particularly loquacious, but she will speak her mind as necessary. And pass honest judgement on her old Mum’s cooking. More particularly my modest attempts at baking. Ouch.
When my Rachel was young I would make a good effort at donning a ‘pinny’ and doing a spot of after-school baking with her. But even then it was mostly breadsticks, flatbreads, or making something for a bake sale: we would lick the spoon and tidy the edges of course. Continue reading
Many of us make risottos, but how many of us throw convention to the wind and bake them? Until recently I had not, but as I already bake rice I just thought, what the heck. What’s the worst that could happen?
I know it is no big deal to ‘feed’ a risotto its stock and stir constantly (!), but how much easier to cover the grains in stock and just slam it in the oven? Much easier. In fact, put on a load of washing, vacuum the downstairs, unpack the dishwasher when you could be stirring rice, kind of easier. Or, if you are so inclined, to sit and watch The Big Bang Theory (my usual), uninterrupted by the task of constant stirring.
So, this method allows one to do yet more work, (or watch the telly). Point in its favour. But you may wonder about the consistency. As rightly you should. Isn’t risotto supposed to be a little al dente and quite wet? How does one control that from the comfort of one’s sofa? The short answer is one doesn’t. But if you choose the ‘right’ grains – the risotto rices or spelt – they do the work for you. Basmati rice ain’t going to cut it. Continue reading
I’ve just realised that I haven’t posted anything to tempt the sweet of tooth lately. Not a morsel. By now I really should be posting something in honour of poor, executed St Valentine. A saint with only the most tenuous links to pleasure, romantic love, and chocolate. So tenuous as to be non-existent, an invention of Chaucer, and the English.
I digress. And possibly depress. But still, I should post something chocolately. And soon.
It won’t be grand. It won’t be clever. But it will fulfil my self-imposed brief, “do no (culinary) harm.” Kind of like my own Hippocratic Oath. But with calories. Continue reading
As a thank you for reading yesterday’s ‘bumper post’ (i.e. tediously long) on Black Bean Quinoa Chili, today I give you the much shorter companion post of Simple Guacamole. This stripped-back version of the popular dip is the perfect foil for a more complex dish like chili. And a must-have for parties and Super Bowl gatherings. But guacamole is superb with – and indeed in – so many other foods. Because guacamole really needs no introduction I will just let this easy and healthy recipe speak for itself.
The only secret to a good guacamole is to use perfectly ripe avocados, a little salt and a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon. After that, it is down to personal taste. Below the recipe I give add-in suggestions, ideas for how to use guacamole, and hints on how to know when an avocado is ripe.
How do you like your guac?
2 perfectly ripe Hass avocados (see below)
½ lime (or lemon)
½ tsp good salt, like Maldon
Because you aren’t going to be making pretty slices with the avocado, the easiest way of removing the stone is to squeeze the avocado, then slice it in half lengthways – the stone loosens with the initial pressure. Remove the stone (tip of knife/spoon/fingers) and scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a bowl. Immediately squeeze in the lime or lemon juice and crumble in the salt.
Mash well with a fork or a pastry cutter (shown). Most people like their guacamole at least a little chunky so don’t be too enthusiastic with the mashing. Serve immediately, or cover with cling film/food wrap so that it is touching the surface – this helps prevent oxidation/browning.
We find guacamole – and avocados generally – are best at room temperature and used within one or two days. This isn’t a food for keeping. But then again, why would you?
¼ tsp each of garlic and onion powder (store cupboard option – what I often do)***
½ red onion, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 medium tomato, deseeded, degorged and finely chopped
Jalapeno or serrano chili, deseeded and diced
A few tablespoons of good quality salsa (or homemade, of course)
½ tsp ground cumin
A dash or two of hot sauce or chipotle in adobo
A few tablespoons of fine curd cottage cheese or Quark – to extend the guacamole or make each serving slightly lower in fat (up the seasoning too)
Watermelon, fine dice
Roasted and chopped peppers
Pomegranate seeds (very nice option)
Chopped leaves and soft stem of coriander/cilantro leaves
What to do with your Simple Guacamole. Of course it is perfect with raw vegetables and tortilla chips. But here are a few more ideas:
as a mayonnaise substitute in sandwiches (beautiful with a chicken, bacon or turkey sandwich)
to top chili and in baked potatoes
in quesadillas; on tostados and huevos rancheros
on toast with chopped tomatoes (one of our fave quick breakfasts)
mix into eggs/soft tofu for scrambled eggs or scrambled tofu (yes, really)
add to grain and bean salads
stir into pasta with extra lime and some chilli and tomatoes
mix with hard egg yolk for devilled eggs, or with chopped egg for a no-mayo egg salad.
You get the picture.
Here is a short video to help you decide if your avocado is ripe.
In addition, it is good to look at the little stem knob – flick it off and if it is yellow-green underneath it is ripe, if it is brown – give it a miss as it is already gone over. If you can’t flick it off (i.e. you have to twist it) it will usually need another day or two. Keep ripe avocados in the refrigerator until you use them. To ripen avocados (or at least try to – some never will), pop into a paper bag with another fruit. Or for a slower ripening, just set the under-ripe avocado on top of a bowl of fruit. See this link to ripening avocados for further options and explanations – and a tip NOT to try.
***Low Residue Diet-friendly option