Thursday, 19 December 2013

Asian Broth with Crispy Sea Bass

This is so simple, packed with a punchy heat and flavour, and the perfect antidote to the rich food we'll all be gorging on over Christmas. I often make a spicy broth at the end of a long day in the kitchen as it feels incredibly cleansing, takes minutes to make and can be easily adapted according to what is lingering in the fridge. Tonight I splashed out (excuse the pun!) and picked up some sea bass to make a more substantial but super healthy supper.

Serves 2

For the basic Asian broth:

  • Place a casserole dish on a low heat and melt 2 tbsp Coconut Oil. Throw in 1 Shallot, sliced, and gently cook until translucent. Next add in 1inch of sliced Ginger, 1 sliced Chilli (more or less depending how hot you like it), 1 bruised and chopped Lemongrass stalk and 1 large sliced Garlic Clove. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add in the chopped, bulb end of 4 Spring Onions, reserving the tops for later. 
  • Pour in 1 lire of Chicken Stock and bring to a simmer. Add 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce, 2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar, 1 Tbsp Fish Stock, 1/2 Lime, juiced, and 1 Tbsp Honey.

And endless additions...

Greens like Pak Choi, Edamame, Spinach or even Sliced Fennel, along with the Spring Onion tops.
Any type of noodle
Strips of Organic Chicken added at the end take minutes to cook.
Crispy Skin Sea Bass or Salmon: Season and cook, skin side down, in a very hot pan with 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil for roughly 4 minutes (until the flesh is almost cooked), pressing it into the pan to get the skin very crisp. Squeeze half a lime onto the fish and then flip over and cook for 1 minute more. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Mostly eating: A poached egg on avocado toast...with marmite

This is so boring, I know, but a thing of beauty to me and my addiction. I never have much food at home but will always have at hand some nutty bread in the freezer, a box of free-range eggs (clarence court eggs have the goldest, richest yolk you can find outside of a farmyard) and some avocado - usually a quarter wrapped in foil in the fridge which my never ceases to weird-out my housemates! I add a, somewhat controversial, smear of marmite on my toast before the avocado. Trust me, if you love marmite, it is a heavenly combination. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Raw Brownie

These beauties are amazing. At this time of year I crave chocolate and can easily eat my way through a dark slab, convincing myself that the high cocoa content will ward off a cold when in fact I just end up feeling lethargic. Not willing to surrender my chocolate habit, a change of tack was needed i.e. raw cocoa or ‘cacao’. Cacao gives you the same chocolate hit but with all the nutrients which haven’t been stripped by the heat in the process of making chocolate. Of course, pure cacoa is bitter like cocoa but when combined with sticky dates and nuts in this recipe it tastes as good (if not better) than a baked brownie: nutty, fudgy and very rich.

My recipe is adapted from Sarah Britton’s fab blog mynewroots,org who explains the health benefits of cacao brilliantly.  I added cashew nuts, almond butter and a slice of avocado for added creaminess to mine, but also toasted the nuts with salt which probably goes against the laws of raw but you get that delicious salted caramel effect. I also served it with yoghurt and then cacao nibs as I found their bitterness was the perfect counteract for the intense sweetness of the brownie.

Makes 12 large squares
  • In a food processor blitz 120g Cacao Powder with 200g Ground Almonds. Slowly add in 400g pitted Medjool Dates, 1 tbsp Almond Butter and 1/3 Avocado. The mix should make a course crumb which sticks together easily.
  • In a frying pan toast 120g chopped mixed cashews and walnuts with 1 tbsp Coconut Oil and 1 tsp Sea Salt. Cool, and mix into the cacao mixture.
  • Press into a rectangular dish lined with cling film. Refrigerate or place in the freezer which will make it easier to cut cleanly. Serve with cacao nibs, yoghurt or crème fraiche and a dusting of cacao powder.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Lobster Rolls

This weekend I went home to the countryside and was greeted by dad flourishing two cooked lobsters from his backpack – he does not habitually wear backpacks, but is a MAMIL, and treats cycling the 60 mile round trip to Portsmouth fish market like a trip to the corner shop!

In the summer there is nothing better than a lobster salad with the best mayonnaise, but the cold weather required comfort i.e. pillowy brioche to make New England (via Paris) -style lobster rolls.  Brioche dough is easy to make with a freestanding mixer and the only hassle is it needs to prove overnight in the fridge (which only meant waiting longer for the lobster!).  For the filling, I made a thousand island dressing, to keep with the American theme and gave diced avocado, old-school lettuce and vine tomatoes for everyone to build their own. The best sandwich ever??

Brioche Rolls
Adapted from Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets

300g Strong White Flour
7g Fast Action Dried Yeast
4 Eggs
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Caster Sugar
50ml Milk, warmed
250g Unsalted Butter at room temperature, diced into 1cm squares

  • Whisk the yeast into the milk and leave for a moment to bubble.
  • In the bowl of  a free standing mixer with a dough hook place the flour, salt and sugar. Mix on a low speed and add the eggs to form a dough.
  • Slowly pour in the yeasty milk and mix for a few minutes.
  • With the mixer running, add in the butter one bit at a time, making sure the butter is fully incorporated each time. This takes a while – up to half an hour. By the end you should have a glossy dough.
  • Cover with cling film and leave to prove in the fridge overnight. In the morning take out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. This should take 1 ½ hours.
  • Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and roll each into a ball. Place widely apart on a well-floured baking tray and leave to prove for another hour.
  • Brush with egg wash and cook in the oven until golden and hollow when tapped – about 20 minutes.

Thousand Island Dressing

  • Grill 1 Yellow Pepper and 1 Red Pepper on all sides until blackened. Place in a bowl and cover with cling film. After ten minutes peel off the charred skin, remove the seeds and cut into small dice.
  • In a bowl mix 6 tbsp Mayonnaise, 1 tbsp Tomato Ketchup, a splash Worcestershire Sauce, a splash of Tabasco (to taste), the juice of half a Lemon, 1tsp Paprika, a pinch Cayenne Pepper and plenty of ground black pepper. Stir in the diced peppers and serve.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Beetroot & Pecorino Spelt Pizza with Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto

This is a delicious alternative to my favourite homemade pizza. Saying that, it is actually a completely different, more virtuous beast. Wholesome, nourishing and full of wintery autumn flavours, each slice is packed with health to fight the cold-weather bugs coming our way: a kick of iron from the parsley, vitamin C from plenty of garlic in the pesto and beetroot to cleanse the system.

For the spelt base
In a bowl combine 500g Organic Spelt - I used Sharpham Park's Seeded Spelt Flour, 2tsp Salt and 7g Instant Active Yeast. Stir in 300ml Warm Water and bring the dough together. Knead on a floured surface for a few minutes. Place in a clean bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place for for 1-2 hrs.

For the beetroot
Preheat the oven to 180C. Wash and slice 6 large Beetroot into quarters. Toss with 2tbsp melted Coconut Oil, Salt and Pepper and place in a baking tray. Cover with foil and roast for an hour or until soft.

For the parsley, walnut and anchovy pesto
In a food processor blitz together: 1 large bunch of parsley (with stalks), 1 large clove of Garlic, a handful of Walnuts, a handful of grated Pecorino cheese, 6 Anchovies, 1tsp Coconut Oil and seasoning.

To finish
Preheat the oven to 200C. Punch back the dough. Divide into two, and freeze one for another day. Roll the dough into a thin circle or rectangle and place on a baking tray. Spread generously with the pesto, top with the beetroot and shavings of pecorino cheese. Drizzle with oil. Cook for ten minutes until crisp and the beetroot has caramelised.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Buttermilk and Sage Pork Schnitzel with Pickled Cabbage and Potato Salad

Recently I was given a snazzy Lumix LX7 camera. As I haven’t a clue what all the buttons do so I had planned to experiment outside today but the weather was far from ideal: see below my very wet donkeys! At the moment my skills do in no way match such a camera but here are a few attempts:

Nevertheless the duvet-day weather did dictate today’s lunch: Schnitzel. This is my ultimate comfort food and something I could eat over and over again. The idea for marinating the pork comes from the food writer Jane Lawson, and it makes the meat meltingly tender. The addition of almonds into the crust also makes this incredibly moreish and I love the combination of the crispy meat with the smooth comforting potato salad and sharp, caraway-spiked cabbage. It isn’t the prettiest of foods but the taste takes me straight to the snow-capped mountains of Austria!

Serves 6
Taken from Snowflakes and Schnapps by Jane Lawson

  • Thinly slice 1 Green Cabbage. Place half in a large non-metallic dish and sprinkle with 3 Tbsp Sea Salt. Cover with the remaining cabbage. Massage the salt into the cabbage until it begins to release water. Mix in 1 tbsp Caraway Seeds, 1 tbsp Juniper Berries, crushed, and 2 Bay Leaves, crumbled. Cover and leave for 24 hrs.

  • With a meat mallet, bash 6 Pork Escalopes until very thin. Place in a bowl and cover with 200ml Buttermilk, 1 Tsp English Mustard, 2 Garlic Cloves, crushed, and some chopped Sage. Cover and leave for a minimum 2hrs.
  • Melt a knob of Butter with 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil in a large sauté pan. Gently fly 1 Onion, sliced until golden. Rinse the cabbage and take out the bay and berries. Squeeze out the excess moisture and add to the onion, season and cook gently for 20 minutes.
  • Mix 200g Ground Almonds with 150g Breadcrumbs. In a separate dish whisk together 3 Eggs. In another dish have ready 200g of Flour, seasoned. Wipe of the majority of the marinade and dip each escalope first in the flour, then the egg, then the almond mix. Chill until ready to cook.
  • Heat one or two pans to medium high with 1 tbsp Olive Oil and 1 tbsp Butter. In batches, fry the schnitzel for 3 minutes on each side.
  • Add 80ml White Wine Vinegar to the Cabbage and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Serve the schnitzel with the cabbage, crispy sage leaves, a parsley-heavy potato salad amd lemon wedges. Guten Appetite!