Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Insta-Honey & Ginger Scones

Recently my blog has been feeling very left out. I have discovered instagram – the lazy blogger’s get out free card (of composing half decent prose that is). While poor blog here requires time, patience and a little bit of skill (all of which I am somewhat lacking), on instagram I can upload a picture of my cooking straight away with a sentence, nay, a word to accompany, plus some hashtags so that like-minded instagrammers (is that even a noun now?) can find me. Of course, you don’t get all the ramblings that come with a blog or the most important part which is the recipe of course. However, much of my cooking is so simplistic and relaxed that it barely needs explaining.

But, I still do love the process of writing. It is calming, even therapeutic, and settles a recipe or idea in my head more so than the instantaneous but ephemeral-feel of a photograph. So to touch base here is the recipe for some scones I posted on instagram yesterday.

When it rains in England we naturally revert to tea and cake. Yesterday it poured so there was nothing to do but whip these up. Scones are never going to be healthy (they are basically a vehicle for clotted cream no?) but this recipe, adapted from the clever Harry Eastwood, replaces much of the butter with grated carrot and the wheat flour with spelt which is so much easier to digest. The result is a denser but more satisfying scone which has a lovely warmth from the addition of grated ginger. Harry also adds in sunflower seeds, but I wanted mine plain and simple so as not to detract from lashings of clotted cream, jam and fresh raspberries. I also made some plain scones for the traditionalists.

Honey & Ginger Scones
Makes 8 - 10
adapted from Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • In a food processer mix 180g Wholemeal Spelt Flour, 40g Rice Flour, 2 tsp Baking Powder, ½ Bicarbonate of Soda and 200g peeled and finely grated Carrot.
  • Add 20g peeled and grated Ginger and 2tsp Honey and mix until the mixture comes together.
  • Tip onto a lightly floured surface and roll delicately to a thickness of 4cm. Cut out rounds with a 6cm pastry-cutter. Re-roll and cut again (the second roll is never as good so try and get as many out of the first roll). You should end up with 8 scones.
  • Place on a baking tray lined with parchment and bush with some beaten egg.
  • Bake for 17-19 minutes. Serve warm. 
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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Miso, Garlic & Chilli Chicken with Quinoa & Spinach

This week I decided to quit sugar for a month to see what happens. By this I mean I am not eating refined sugars but am allowing natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey. So far I’ve found it not that hard; it’s so much easier to say no to a slice of cake when you have a whole ingredient you’re avoiding rather than just ‘trying to be healthy’ in general. Plus I actually love using maple syrup and honey in my cooking as they have so much more flavor than the white stuff. Since starting I’ve had to crank up my cooking a notch so I don’t crave what I’m missing (i.e. my work’s infamous Malteser Munch, ahem). The Soy Maple Salmon I blogged about has been a life-saver and my supper tonight was so delicious, that I had to share the recipe. It’s more of a placing together a myriad of healthy ingredients than anything else, the lengthy title belies it’s simplicity and it is very open to adaptation.

Miso is one of those ingredients that makes everything taste better and actually has a sweetness that comes purely from the fermented soybeans, so far so healthy. Paired with chili, garlic and olive oil, it makes a dreamy chicken marinade. With this I did a simple quinoa and spinach mix with the amazing sauce the chicken produces. I ate it with guacamole, humous, China Rose spouts and black sesame seeds for taste and healthiness.

Miso, Garlic and Chilli Chicken with Spinach Quinoa, Guacamole, Humous and China Rose Sprouts
Serves 2

For the chicken:
Preheat the oven to 190C

  • Mix together 2tbsp Brown Rice Miso, 2 tbsp Coconut Oil, 1 tsp Fish Sauce and 1 sliced Red Chili. Add 4 Chicken Thighs and leave to marinade for 20 minutes.
  • Put 6 whole, unpeeled Garlic Cloves in a baking dish and place the chicken, skin side up on top, along with it’s marinade. Bake for 25 minutes.

For the Quinoa
  • Place 100g Brown and White Quinoa in a pan with double it’s volume in water. Cook until all it’s liquid is absorbed and then stir in a few handfuls of spinach with the juice from the cooked chicken.
  • Serve with homemade guacamole, humous, sprouts and black sesame seeds. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Smoky Chicken and Tempeh, Tomato Pesto, Herb Salad & Heritage Radishes

Cooking at this time of year calls for plenty of herbs, plenty of colourful summery vegetables and quick cooking. I picked up some beautiful organic radishes at the Parson Green farmers market today. Thinly shaved they are beautifully translucent but still pack a peppery punch (and crunch).  They were also selling huge bunches of herbs, so I picked flat-leaf parsley and mint to turn into a chopped herb salad.

Tempeh is something I’m new to and came across through Sarah Britten’s blog My New Roots. It’s basically a fermented soy ‘cake’ full of protein and with a low GI carbohydrate so a great alternative to meat or conventional carbs. The taste is quite earthy and is delicious when sliced thinly and baked with a marinade of maple and soy – especially alongside some tender chicken. I also made Britten’s sundried tomato pesto, a great healthy rift on basil/pine nut/parmesan which complements the tempeh perfectly with its toasted sunflower seeds mingling with garlic and the intense tomatoes.

Smoky Chicken and Tempeh, Tomato Pesto Herb salad and Heritage Radishes
Serve 2

Herby Salad:
  • Finely chop 1 large bunch of Parsley and a handful of Mint Leaves. Place in a bowl and add 4-5 chopped Cherry Tomatoes, 1 tsp Maldon Sea Salt, a squeeze of Lemon and lots of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Smoky tempeh and chicken, adapted from Sarah Britten
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Take a 200g packet Tempeh and 200g Chicken Thigh. Slice the Tempeh lengthways into thin rectangles and place in a dish with the chicken. To this add, 2tbsp Soy, 2 tbsp Maple Syrup, 1 tbsp Coconut Oil and 1 tsp Paprika. Toss to coat and place in the over for 25 minutes.

Pesto adapted from Sarah Britten
  • Soak 6 sundried tomatoes in enough hot water to cover for half an hour. Meanwhile toast a handful of Sunflower Seeds. Drain the tomatoes (saving the water) and blitz in a food processor with the seeds, 1 Clove Garlic, salt to taste and enough of the tomato water to make a loose paste.

To assemble:
  • Spread the tempeh with the pesto and layer with the chicken and salad alternately. Finely slice some Heritage Radish over the top and finish with a drizzle of Olive Oil.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Smoked Haddock, Buckwheat Noodles & Chard with Coconut

While smoked fish is commonly associated with Scandinavian cooking, it adapts amazingly to eastern flavours. It’s strong salty flavour makes it stand up against the gentle spicing of a kedgeree, say, and the Thai pla grop (fish smoked over coconut husks) is delicious in Asian broths and stir fries.

This recipe is a take on a ramen-style dish and a collation of things in my fridge. I’m mad about coconut at the moment, and poaching the fish (and cooking the noodles) in coconut milk makes it a very simple dish. With a dash of fish sauce, soy and rice wine vinegar, the poaching liquid becomes a deliciously intense broth.

I added garlicky swiss chard for freshness and the toasted coconut flakes are wonderfully crunchy against the soft flakes of fish.

Serves 2
  • In a saucepan bring 1x 400g can coconut milk and 400g water (or 2 sachets coconut cream with 800ml water) to a simmer. Poach 2 Smoked Haddock fillets in the liquid until opaque and cooked through (6-8 minutes). Remove from the liquid and keep warm.
  • To the liquid, add 1 tbsp Fish Sauce, 1 tbsp Soy Sauce and 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar. Taste and simmer for a few minutes or until the flavour has intensified.
  • In the broth cook 200g Buckwheat Noodles until soft. Drain, reserving the broth. To this add 2 tbsp chopped Coriander and a squeeze of Lime. Keep warm.
  • In a frying pan toast 50g Flaked Coconut.
  • Remove the Coconut and, in the same pan, sauté 1 Garlic Clove, chopped, for a minute. Throw in 2 handfuls of roughly chopped Swiss Chard and stir fry for 5 minutes until wilted.
  • To serve, flake the Haddock and add to a plate along with the Chard and Noodles. Ladle over the hot broth and top with the Coconut Flakes and more Coriander if liked.
n.b. for a spicy version I would add some chopped Chilli and Ginger to the broth.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Crab, Turmeric & Sweet Potato Patties

These sweet, salty and spicy beauties came from a bit of experimenting in the kitchen. Having bought some crab meat with a chilli and crab linguini in mind I then found a sweet potato at home and some beautiful fresh turmeric which I thought would work well in some Thai-style fish patties. Fresh turmeric is seen very rarely in England so is a bit exciting. Apparently it’s great for cleansing the liver and as an anti-inflammatory so I’ve been adding it to hot water and honey, throwing into smoothies and grating into curries or on salads. It gives everything a beautiful colour (including your hands so be careful!) and has a strong, earthy taste so a little goes a long way.

I have never forgotten the crab cakes we made at Ballymaloe. The Asian flavours brought out the crab taste and cut through the richness – so I was aiming for a twist on this recipe. The sweet potato in the mix creates a lighter and looser mix so they are trickier to cook, requiring spooning like fritters into a hot pan and a gently flip. To eat with, all they needed was a simple and refreshing avocado and tomato salsa.

Crab, turmeric and sweet potato patties
Serves 2 (makes 6)
  • Bake 1 large Sweet Potato in an oven at 220C for 45 minutes until soft. When cool enough to handle, slice down the middle and spoon out the flesh into a bowl, discarding the skin.
  • Finely chop 1 Garlic Clove, ½ Red Chilli (depending on how much spice you like) and a handful of Coriander and mix into the potato with a handful of chopped spinach, 1 tbsp Fish Sauce, 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar and 50g Ground Almonds/Flour/or Breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in 100g of crab meat (half white and brown). Taste and season.
  • Heat 2 tbsp Coconut Oil in a frying pan. Drop 2 tbsp of the mixture into the pan and cook for a few minutes until the bottom has crisped up and you are able to flip it over.
  • Serve hot or cold with a salsa of chopped Avocado, Vine Tomatoes and Red Onion.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Fresh Pesto Courgette Ribbons

This is about as simple as you can get, delicious with steak hot off the bbq and it makes a refreshing, more substantial change to salad leaves. The courgette is virtuously raw but almost ‘cooks’ in the creamy pesto. Of course, the secret to all simple dishes is to use the best ingredients and this means making your own pesto – a cheap jar from the supermarket just won’t cut it as the sauce is better slightly chunky to add texture and it will have a much punchier flavour if fresh. I always eyeball my pesto and go on taste but below is a rough recipe.

To serve 4 as a side

  • For the Courgette: Top and tail 2 large Courgettes. Using a potato peeler or mandolin, cut lengthways strips. Place in a large bowl.
  • For the Pesto: In a blender mix 1 handful Pinenuts, 1 handful Basil Leaves, 1 peeled Clove Garlic with 50ml Olive Oil to a rough paste. Put into a bowl and stir in 50g finely grated Parmesan. Season to taste and drizzle in more oil until you have a thick dressing.
  • Add the pesto to the courgette and toss  with  handful of Rocket until the veg is evenly coated.