Sweet

simple and sophisticated bean sallad
Salad, Sweet

Simple and Sophisticated Summer Green Bean Salad

Summers on its way and this simple salad is sophisticated enough to have with your Christmas turkey, a beautiful lemony roast Bostok organic chicken or your weekend barbecue leg of lamb.  Tarragon is one of my favourite herbs, it reminds me of amazing traditional French cooking and it matches fantastically with the beans, the hazelnuts and the blueberries in this salad. Tarragon is not often seen in todays cooking but it is a beautiful and under used summer herb and not difficult to grow. If you have left over tarragon from this salad or a glut of it in your garden pop it in a sterilised  jar or bottle with some white wine vinegar and you will have tarragon vinegar for your next salad.  Leave the tarragon in the bottle with the vinegar for several weeks and then strain it off for delicious tarragon vinegar that will keep in a cool dark place for at least a year.  There are definitely more sophisticated methods for making tarragon vinegar but this has worked for me. Tarragon works well with eggs, potatoes, seafood,  poultry, and is great in creamy or lemony sauces, think about delicious hollandaise or bernaise sauces or a butter, white wine, caper and tarragon pan reduction over fish  ….. My favourite salad at work recently used tarragon vinegar, brown rice and a mix finely sliced and grated different coloured beetroot that I marinated in tarragon vinegar and then olive oil mustard and lots of seeds chervil and chives.  So […]

polenta fish in chips
Brunch, Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Sweet

Smoked Fish in Polenta Chips

Today I have a new take Polenta – an old staple with a surprising new twist.  Inspired by a recipe in The Guardian by one of my great food hero’s Yottam Ottolinghi.  This is the real deal in comfort food – smokey, fishy, spicey  (if thats what you want – I do! ), a little cheesey and to finish  some fresh herby goodness.  It involves infusing milk with aromatics from your pantry and garden, then gently poaching smoked fish in this before straining and adding the polenta to cook, then once thickened returning the flaked smoked fish cheese and herbs to the thickened polenta. Cooking like this for me allows moments to step away from the busyness of life and focus on simpler things, to take it a little slowly – be patent and let the milk infuse – go outside and find a few simple herbs tucked in the corner or sheltering from the winter under the weeds – this is not about the perfect ingredient list, just taking time to bring it together with what you have to hand.  In the end you will have something that can wait until you are ready to enjoy on your own or share with the few or the many. This recipe can be halved , doubled or tripled to suit – make it an put a slab in the freezer for later or make a great big batch for hearty snacks or dinner for a crowd. Polenta has always been a […]

chocolate breakfast cereal
Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, Sweet

Chocolate Breakfast Cereal

Todays story is about a chocolate laden, seed, coconut and nut filled – not so sweet –  breakfast cereal. This same cereal might just as easily be an afternoon snack or a sprinkle for ice-cream.  Sometimes in the depth of winter (and possibly even on a bright summer morning) we need the comfort of something that seems richer, brighter and a little naughtier. it maybe brings reminders of childhood coco pops, but just as importantly, something that will sustain us through the morning.  Knowing we all start the day with different food needs and rituals, in recent times I have become a fan of something with loads of seeds and nuts (aka My Daily Bread). This cereal offers a chance for me to change it up but still enjoy that nutty goodness. In the process of experimenting with this, I was excited to finally tried and have success with the crazy concoction called aquafaba.  This is chickpea water beaten to form a foam similar to that of beaten egg whites.  I have seen it using canned chickpeas but as I love to cook my own chickpeas I hadn’t been sure if the technique would transfer, happily it did. My method, as always, was to soak my chickpeas overnight and rinse and drain them. I then cooked the chickpeas in lightly salted water – making sure that by the end of the cooking they were just covered in water.  I drained the chickpeas and cooled the liquid before beating.  I managed to get […]

dal and roast vegetables
Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Sweet

DAL AND ROAST VEGETABLES WITH A CRISP AND SPICEY TOPPING

Dal, dhal, daal or dhal, these are all Indian words for lentils or split pulses, they can and will be be cooked differently according to region and personal taste.  This recipe is my favourite at the moment. With the days here drawing in and the thought of long evenings around the fire, bowls of comforting, flavour rich food like this Dal are starting to sound like the answer to the dinner question.  This is the first comfort food meal for the season and has left me enthusiastic for more.  I love the way these simple ingredients with warming spices make for such easy eating – almost soup like at times, or as I have made it now – more like a risotto. In this version I have made my Dal into a satisfying meal topped with a layer of seasonal roast vegetables and finished with mustard seeds, chilli and curry leaves sauted in coconut oil and poured – sizzling – over the top, then a final flourish of fresh coriander or mint, and finely sliced spring onion. The basic Dal recipe I have been making stays the same, as do the the tempered spicy topping, but the roast vegetables in-between change according to what is in my refrigerator. This is great eaten as is, but if you want more – add some naan, other indian bread or poppadoms on the side, pour a little yoghurt or cashew nut cream over top and add a cooling yoghurt, cumin seed and cucumber […]

spring green vegetable soup
Lunch, Meal, Soup, Spring, Sweet

Spring Green Vegetable Soup

Simple, elegant, soothing, green vegetable soup.  This delicious soup is made in minutes and is full of flavour and made complex with the layering of textures – lentils for substance, snow peas for crunch and lemon for zing – just before serving. Spring green vegetable soup follows on the heals of my green vegetable salad.  The weather turned snowy and I still had lots of odds and ends of beautiful green vegetables in the refrigerator and freezer.   As is mostly the case with my home cooking there is quite a lot of ad-libbing and swapping ingredients. Mint was the one ingredient I didn’t have which I think this soup gains from but it was buried under our late snowfall.  Luckily the coriander I did have gave a similar fresh feeling and a slightly Thai twist to the soup.  I think the lesson is that you can mix the herbs up, it might change the feel a bit – but it will still be delicious. This lovely soup is light, yet still manages to feel satisfying without any of the heavier soup staples such as potato, pumpkin and kumara.  I think it relies on the vegetables belonging to the family of sweeter greens, the amounts can be played with as long as you try to include at least some peas, I wouldn’t put stronger greens such as spinach or kale in this gentle brew as their flavours will overpower it.  The lentils add a lovely soft chewiness, the snow peas […]

black rice and coconut breakfast
Breakfast, Brunch, Desert, Gluten Free, Sweet

Easy and Delicious Black Rice and Coconut Breakfast

So easy and so delicious. This is creamy, chewy, sweet, and slightly exotic tasting – this is breakfast heaven.  I realise now that I am very late to the black rice breakfast idea, traditional in some cultures and popular on cafe menus, but now I have tried it I am a convert and I can see no reason why I am not going to eat this for desert as well. The black rice has an amazing flavour and natural perfume as it cooks, it is slightly sweet and even though this particular brand of rice is from Italy it is very reminiscent of Asian flavours.  I have cooked it today with cardamon as this is the flavour I had been wanting, but I love the idea of lemongrass, lime and ginger served with mango, or sweet cinnamon and nutmeg, or vanilla….  Go wild but  please let me know what  flavours you enjoy! The grains of this rice are slightly short and round with a  wonderful chewy quality that you find in brown rice, which makes it feel substantial enough to fuel your morning. I followed the rules as I read them (soaking my rice over night), this makes the rice easier to digest and faster to cook but is not absolutely necessary.  If you don’t soak the rice it will need more water and an extra half an hour or so to cook.  The cooking process is a little like risotto (but without the fuss), adding water and coconut milk […]

cashew cream breakfast jar
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Desert, Gluten Free, Snack, Sweet

Breakfast to Desert – Cashew Nut, Coconut Chia Cream

I am struggling to decide where I begin telling you about this cashew, chia, coconut cream as I am so taken with everything about it. To start with it is amazing because it tastes soooo delicious, and isn’t that where we should always begin – “healthy” or not! Then it is also amazing in its versatility.  You can keep it as thick as when first made and it is spoonable enough that you could use it as a cream filling in a cake. Or you can thin it with a little of, your choice of milk, coconut water or and a little lemon juice and you  have a great yoghurt substitute. As a totally dairy free alternative it offers all the richness, mouthfeel and satisfaction of its dairy alternatives such as cream, greek yoghurt, marscapone cheese, cream cheese etc…   I love dairy products and happily include them in my diet, but it seems to me that more and more people are telling me they are intolerant to lactose or dairy.  As someone who wants to feed everyone and enjoy the widest variety of foods, I am very excited when I find delicious alternatives.  Especially alternatives that aren’t a lesser product and that taste amazing in their own right.  Anything that expands the variety of foods we eat, offers new options in how we cook and prepare our meals has to be a good thing. Lastly (I am definitely being hasty saying lastly, but for now lastly!),  it is so […]

Breakfast, Brunch, Condiments, Gluten Free, Snack, Sweet

Everyday Nut and Seed Mix and a Clever Quick Biscuit

Here is another delicious mix to make every day better.  A comforting jar of goodness in the pantry gluten grain and processed sugar free.  This began several years ago with a recipe Kim Malcolm shared at Raeward Fresh called “The Simple Goodness Snack” it has been a favourite of mine ever since, and as with all Kim’s recipe ideas is nutritious and delicious.  This is my take on Kim’s recipe two years on. This mix is so versatile,  play around and have fun with it, here are a few of the ways it works for me and my family, an amazing breakfast buddha bowl topping, a handful of energy on your way past the pantry or in your backpack while hiking, 3 pm salvation snack, a topping for a fruity desert bowl, yoghurt and ice cream ?! add some quinoa flakes, puffed cereal and dry fruit to make it into a gluten free  muesli, use it as a crunchy as a topping to your favourite fruit muffins,  a topping for pancakes or waffles, a delicious fast biscuit base for those moments when you need to entertain in a hurry.  (see the recipe at the end of the page) It is amazingly delicious high energy and so very versatile.  I am sure you will love it, I can’t wait for you to try it and let me know what uses and variations you come up with I decided that in order to make this its nutritious best I would go the […]

Carrot Cake Muffins
Gluten Free, Snack, Sweet

A Fresh Take on Carrot Cake

I decided to make these little Carrot Cake Muffins after talking with a friend about the challenges of sugar free icing for cakes.  I had an idea I wanted to try and so here we are, with something not perfect but an idea worth remembering   This cake recipe is based on an old favourite carrot cake recipe that I have slightly adapted to suit a more modern processed sugar free and potentially gluten free approach.  Remembering carrot cakes were the original healthy cakes back in the late seventies and eighties they have always had a leaning to the healthy side, we are just lucky now to have more natural sugar alternatives.  The icing tastes great, I really like the flavour of the orange zest picking out the cardamon spice in the cake, and although it wont set hard it would also make a delicious caramel filling for raw slices.  As you see I decided to split this into muffin tins so it is easy for lunches or picnics, but it cooks just as easily as a cake. It is hard to go wrong with this recipe,( unlike a sponge, but thats another very long and unsuccessful story), I have even subbed in beetroot and cocao and turned it into a chocolate beetroot cake. You will need to think about this the day before if you want to go with this icing recipe, in order to  rinse and soak the cashews in time. Its a show of intention to friends […]

Overnight Oats
Breakfast, Sweet

Milk Kefir

  It has been a year of playing with fermented products, our house has been happily bubbling away with Kombucha, water Kefir,  Kimchi, Saurkraut …….   All of these have had their successes and failures, but they have all been happily consumed.   Recently I was given some milk kefir granules.  These it seems are the simplest of all the fermented things so far.  A simple matter of adding milk,covering, stirring and in a day or two you have beautiful slightly sour, slightly thickened Milk Kefir.  This was all very well until I realised that I needed to start eating all of this quickly accumulating milk kefir and that generally I don’t consume a lot of milk products.  Bring on second fermentation, overnight oats, light and fluffy pancakes or waffles.  At least I now have breakfasts covered. Second fermentation for me simply involves adding flavours. To date this has taken the form of a splash of vanilla essence and a couple of chopped medjool dates. This can then be left covered on the bench or fermentation halted if sour enough and put in the fridge.  This is yummy enough to be a great substitute for all those sweet store bought yoghurts with all the benefits of fermentation.  As it has been winter and fresh fruits are limited I haven’t taken this much further but I know all those summer fruits and berries will be amazing in the Kefir. My next Kefir treat was combining with oats overnight. I don’t really […]