A Scandinavian-influenced coffee cake marbled with a deliciously crunchy mixture of pecan nuts, warm spices and dark brown sugar, and kept soft with chestnut puree. This fairly healthy cake is easily gluten-free. Mums deserve homemade.
I have recently found out that I am a good bit Scandinavian; I rather suspected this. Not only am I blonde-haired and blue-eyed, I also have a love of being cosy, a liking for clean design, and a well-documented fondness for heady, strongly aromatic cardamom. Stereotypes, yes, but pretty true.
Even if you are not a scintilla Swedish or drop of Danish, most of us love the warmly spicy and citrussy flavour of cardamom. In fact it is extensively used in sweet and savoury East European, Southeast Asian and Indian subcontinental cooking. So, even if you haven’t knowingly had cardamom, chances are its been at least a haunting note in a curry you have eaten or a bun you have nibbled. Continue reading
A little taste of Turkey lurks in this deceptively simple, but deeply-flavoured vegetarian pasta dish. Make more onions than you need and add the remainder into dishes for days to come.
The aroma of slowly cooked sliced onions draws my family to the kitchen faster than a cake pulled from the oven. And I don’t think this is a reflection on my baking. Or at least I hope not. When a pan of onions is patiently evolving from crunchy-raw to slippery-sweet I will often hear a shout from up the stairs: “What’s that you’re making?” Or a head will lean over my shoulder urgently saying, “When is it ready?”
Although consistently overshadowed by “showier” vegetables, such as aubergines and cauliflower (the latter having a dramatic recent turnabout in the the food fashion stakes), onions are the backbone of many a dish. Nearly any savoury recipe will be enhanced by this most humble of vegetables.
Assertive when raw, deeply sweet when cooked, onions are a vegetable most definitely more than the sum of its parts.
I have become increasingly obsessed with breakfast, my favourite meal of the day. As soon as I wake, and sometimes before I go to sleep, my thoughts are of what to have for the first meal of the day. As I fill my old stovetop coffee maker with scoops of espresso (sadly now decaf) and cold, clear water from the tap; and mark time as I wait for the telltale hiss and splutter, I survey the innards of my fridge. Is today a plump berries and creamy yogurt day? Or, – more likely – that Instagram cliche, #avocadotoast, built to height with glowing, orange homemade kimchi and a flurry of sprouts?
There are so many ways to go with breakfast. Sweet or savoury. Simple or leisurely. Alone or shared. Virtuous or vice-ridden (avo toast v. cigarette and hair of the dog). I love all of the options that breakfast invites.
You might have to trust me on this, but white fish goes amazingly well with the minerality of the kale and sweetish tang of the seasonal blood oranges, while the rosemary and crispy capers tip it over into restaurant territory (at least we think so!). Prepping to plating up takes all of 20 minutes too. Easy, healthy, Mediterranean-inspired midweek supper sorted.Continue reading
Sumac, smoked paprika and dill are the the little extras that amp the flavour in this creamy-textured cauliflower and white bean soup. If you have time, roast the cauliflower for a beautifully nutty, rounded taste. This is a perfect vegan, whole food soup to serve family and friends alike. It even tastes good cold with shards of toasted pitta for dipping.
This past week has been a bit of a social whirl for me and Andrew. Normally ones to be very content in our own boring quiet company, we have twice been out with friends (to the excellent Kenji for sushi; and to my current fave, New Chapter for seriously top-notch Scottish/European dishes – check the five star Trip Advisor ratings).
We have also had two lots of friends round for dinner. Well, tonight will make twice. I am in the midst of prepping a mini Middle Eastern feast (see below), as well as making food for my cancer and nutrition class.
But before I get immersed in dips, marinades and mandolining (for my pineapple carpaccio) wanted to take time to quickly post this soup while I remember. And before winter completely slips away and we can’t face any more cauliflower! It all feels a bit crazy-busy for this homebody, but exhilarating at the same time. If I start washing the walls and scrubbing the grout work, then I know full-blown spring fever has set in.
Easy, decadent and perfect for dessert, these Chocolate Granola Pancakes are a Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday), or any day, treat. Easily adapted for gluten-free and dairy-free.
I have lived in the UK for many years, adapting my palate to my adopted island’s produce and serious love of global cuisines – the latter about the only good thing coming from its colonial past. Other than the rich and complex curries, one of the first things I appreciated here were the thin, crepe-like pancakes. It took me ages to get my head around producing these light, foldable pancakes: Getting them on the plate without tears (in both senses of the word) was quite a feat for a klutz like me. It took me slightly longer to appreciate the whole lemon and white sugar thing. No maple syrup. No side of eggs and bacon (which now seems seriously weird to me). Continue reading
Despite being quite evangelical when it comes to home-cooking, a girl needs a break sometimes. While my preference is to go out, sometimes I really can’t be bothered making the effort, especially if it involves getting out of cosy pajamas (which I may put on as early as 4 pm in the dead of winter) or finding a hairbrush. So, in order not to eat yet another kimcheese, or have popcorn as dinner, in extremis we will have a rummage through our little folder of takeaway menus. I always feel slightly guilty yet excited at the prospect of a plastic bag of plastic containers coming into the house, filled with an array of dishes I have had nothing to do with other than order them. It doesn’t often happen, so I don’t feel too badly about it.
When the takeaway menus come out, pizza is always last on my list. Not because I don’t like pizza – I LOVE it. I’m not completely mad – but because, with very few exceptions, it is rubbish.
Mega doughy, chewy cheese, too heavy on the toppings, and not worth the calories. Continue reading
A perfect winter into spring salad for when you are craving fresh, healthy flavours, jewel-like colours and snappy textures. Blood orange, massaged kale (yep, it’s still around!), creamy avocado dressing and toasty, smoky coconut bacon are what you want right now. Vegan and full of nutritious but luxurious tastes.
This is just the sort of the thing I crave as winter elides into spring. It’s not warm enough for “salad-salad” but all of the hot foods – soups, pastas, bakes – are getting old. Even if they are new. Do you know what I mean?
The vegetable section of the supermarkets are really struggling with salad stuff anyway. The rain in Spain has well and truly fallen on the plains in horticultural hotspot Murcia, decimating winter-grown tender crops that we in the UK have grown to expect. No pun intended. I’ve not seen the rationing that was reported recently in the press, but I have seen swathes of empty green crates lining the chilled produce aisle where courgettes, broccoli and lettuce would normally be. It’s like reliving the dreaded, but happily non-event, Millennium bug, but with veg instead of canned goods and bottled water.
This salad, like other salads of mine over the winter months in years past, majors on what we can easily get at its best. Continue reading
A lower sugar, dairy-free and gluten-free soft oat cookie containing a sneaky special ingredient. Munch on a couple for a post-workout, at-work or travel snack. These energising bakes are also great as an on-the-go breakfast with a piece of fruit and a small carton of yogurt. You can easily make them child-friendly by nixing the espresso and adding some raisins in its place. For a nut-free version, use delicious sunflower/sun butter.
Reaching in the cookie jar shouldn’t be a guilt-making experience. Certainly not if they are made with rolled oats, puffs of quinoa, freshly made peanut butter and just a smidge of sugar. Heck, you could even have a couple for breakfast and feel like you’ve done something kind to yourself, and your body. These fiber-filled treats not only have a good whack of ground espresso, but a goodly amount of immune-stimulating, anti-inflammatory anti-cancer, chaga.
Espresso nut and seed butter is the perfect way to wake up your breakfast routine. Spread it on toast, swirl it in your morning oatmeal, slather it on apple slices, mix it into baking – eat it straight off the spoon! Easy to prepare and keeps well. You can even make it decaf.
This is a nutty way to eat coffee, for sure, but oh so good!
Espresso nut butter isn’t an invention of mine. Oh how I wish that it were! The literal melding of roasted nuts and seeds with proper, home-ground coffee is food the gods. Spreadable happiness. Comestible joy.
Actually I saw espresso nut butter for the first time on my last visit home to Florida. It was not what I really wanted. Or didn’t think I wanted. Continue reading