Stunning Summer Salad

Well that was our brief a few days ago for our “K for Kitchen” demonstration, and I think it hit the brief!! So this salad is a combination of chicken, red pepper, cucumber, mango a few green leaves and some of those oriental flavours you know we love to use.  I have used the mango in two ways, sliced in the salad itself and in the dressing which helps to thicken the dressing so it really coats all the veg and helps to soften them a little.  To add that extra crunch and pizzazz I have deep fried some vermicelli noodles to put on top.  So that’s it!  Now the sun is shining you have no excuse but to  give it a go and let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

 

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Oriental Chicken and Mango Salad

Serves 2/3

 

2 chicken breasts flattened

1 red pepper thinly sliced

2/3rds of a mango peeled and thinly sliced

½ Cucumber peeled, seeded and thinly sliced lengthways

2 spring onions thinly sliced lengthways

½ bag of watercress, spinach and rocket salad or ½ bag lambs lettuce

A handful of cashew nuts

20g crispy vermicelli noodles deep fried in a little oil (optional)

 

For the marinade

1 clove garlic finely grated

1tsp ginger finely grated

1tsp sugar

1tbsp Mirin

1tbsp Soy sauce

1tsp Sesame

 

Dressing

½ clove garlic

1/3 mango

½tsp grated ginger

2tsp soy sauce

1tsp sesame oil

30ml light olive oil

¼ tsp sugar

Juice of ½ lime

20 ml water

 

Method

Start off by putting all the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Flatten your chicken breasts so they are of an even thickness then cut into thin strips. Put the chicken into the marinade and set aside.

Meanwhile, peel and slice 2/3rds of the mango and put it into a bowl along with the sliced red pepper, cucumber and spring onions.

Make your dressing by putting all the ingredients into a blender and whizz up until it is a smooth emulsified dressing . Pour onto your prepared vegetables and coat thoroughly.

Heat a wok with a little oil and pour in the chicken along with the marinade. Stir fry for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked, adding some water if the wok becomes too dry. When the chicken is ready remove from the heat and rest for a couple of minutes.

When ready to serve mix the chicken with the vegetables, add the watercress, spinach and rocket salad and top with the vermicelli noodles.

 

A beautiful bowl of bircher!

I don’t know about you but I tend to get rather bored of my breakfast. It’s difficult to find something that is more exciting than a bowl of bran flakes but, at the same time, is doable whilst busily trying to get the children fed and ready for school. I think I have found the answer! A bowl of something really tasty that is popped in the fridge to soak the night before. It comes under the name of Bircher Muesli. For the uninitiated, Bircher was originally the creation of Maximimilian Bircher-Benner, who developed it for his patients at his Swiss hospital at the turn of the last century. He believed,amongst other things, that apples had huge health benefits and this was a way of getting people to eat them. In fact, all his patients would start each meal with a bowl of this muesli. Coincidentally, I read in the paper the other day that it is still believed that an apple a day has huge health benefits. Something to do with huge amounts of soluble fibre blasting abdominal fat, and the benefits of ursolic acid found in the peel. I won’t bore you (google it if you want to know the finer details!) The main point here is that apples are great!

As with all these things, there are many different versions which have been tweaked over time…adding fruit, seeds, nuts etc.. It really is up to you, but I thought I would share my basic version with you and then you can do with it what you wish.

It is a really lovely start to the day. As you have the oats to keep you going but as they have been soaked over night in yogurt and apple juice, they are creamy and sweet. Yum!

I appreciate that the photo below is a little large, but I thought it enabled you to see the individual components more easily! i.e. oats, grated apple, seeds etc etc….

 

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Bircher Muesli

A generous single portion.

40g oats (mine were gluten free but they obviously don’t need to be!)

60g natural yogurt

45ml apple juice

1/4 apple, grated

1 tsp water

15g raisins

Mix all of the above and leave in the fridge overnight.

Here I added toasted seeds and raspberries, but you can add anything you like or nothing at all!

Easter Breakfast Bagels with Smoked Salmon and Avocado

So Easter Day is nearly upon us and if you are anything like me you are knee deep in cooking;  trying to get ready for all the friends and family that are visiting over the Easter period…but do you know what, I love it!! So today’s recipe is what we will be having for breakfast on Easter Day.  I know some of you baulk at the idea of bread making but it really is much easier than you think, I promise!  Now the recipe is made much easier if you have an electric mixer like a Kitchen Aid with a dough hook..if not don’t worry get the kids involved with the kneading it only takes 5 minutes.  I serve them warm with smoked salmon and avocado, a squeeze of lemon and a good grind of black pepper.  A great way to start Easter off before tucking into the inevitable chocolate.  Happy Easter to you all!pickerimage

Bagels

Makes 5 to 6 bagels

250g Strong white bread flour

4g dried yeast

1/4tsp sugar

150ml luke warm water

Pinch of salt

Pre heat oven to 200C

Method

Measure the yeast into a small bowl add the sugar and the luke warm water. Leave to stand for 5 minutes until slightly frothy.

In another bowl measure out the flour and mix in the pinch of salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture. Whilst turning the bowl with one hand use the other to gradually incorporate all the flour into the liquid. Turn out onto a clean surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If it starts to stick rub some oil onto the surface. *This can all be done in an electric mixer using the dough hook.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size. Knock back and divide the dough into 5 equal sized balls and form each ball into a ring by inserting a floured finger into the centre of each one. Stretch and widen the hole until it is about a 1/3rd of the bagels diameter. Place on an oiled baking sheet, cover and rest for 10 minutes.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Carefully lower the bagels in and simmer for 30 seconds or so on each side. Transfer to an oiled baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until golden.

Steak and chips…what more can I say?

Firstly, many apologies. To the more observant amongst you, you will notice that the usual Thursday post is a day late. I don’t want to lay blame on anyone, however the fact that all three children have broken up  is definitely a factor! Is this because every blissful, carefree day runs into the next so I lose track of what day it is as the week flies by, OR that getting through each day is completely exhausting and any attempt to get near my computer to get on with some admin is interrupted with a shout of MUM…!!!!!

Anyway, I’m here now and with a real cracker of a recipe. It is essentially steak and chips, but with a slightly more up to date twist. The twist being that I’m using a lesser known cut of meat. Well, I say lesser known, but it has recently become very popular. It is skirt, which is actually the diaphragm muscle , located in the area just below the ribs of the cow. The meat is put in a marinade for a number of hours and then cooked quickly on a very hot griddle. The meat is meant to be served rare, and it is essential that you cut the meat against the grain (otherwise it is a bit chewy.

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The picture above (rather amateur with my finger on the edge!) shows the steak served with parsnip chips. These are actually less labour intensive than they look and taste delicious.

Marinated Skirt Steak with Parsnip Chips

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 220C

750g Skirt Steak

 

Marinade

80ml soy sauce

50ml red wine vinegar

Juice of lemon

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2tbsp Worcester sauce

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1½ tbsp Dijon mustard

25ml oil

3 red onion, cut into segments

8 parsnips

2 tbsp coconut oil

Method.

Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and put in a plastic bag. Add the meat and put in the fridge for up to 5 hours. If the meat looks quite thick, you can flatten it between two sheets of cling film a little. This will, of course, mean it will cook quicker too.

Peel and cut the parsnips into thin matchsticks. Heat the coconut oil and then toss the parsnip chips so that they are coated with the oil. Roast for 20-30 minutes until turning crispy.

Take the meat out of the fridge to let it come to room temperature. Remove the meat from the marinade. Heat a griddle pan as hot as possible. Cook the steak for three minutes either side. Once cooked, let it rest for approx 10 minutes. Then, cut against the grain (sorry, had to mention it again as its so important!) into strips.

Pour the marinade into a small pan along with the onions, make sure you bring it to the boil for 5 minutes and then simmer for a further 5 minutes until the marinade has reduced and the onions have completely softened. Serve alongside the steak.

Light Moroccan Lamb Filo Pie

Wow this weather is great! It makes such a difference to the way we all feel….bring it on! So as spring is definitely in the air I start to think of all the dishes that remind me of this time of year. Lamb is the first meat that springs to mind , pardon the pun. It is such a fantastic meat that can take on a huge amount of flavor. Whether it be a slow cooked tagine or pulled leg it is definitely a favorite of mine.   The way I would describe this dish is quick easy and light.  Yippee I hear you all say! It uses minced lamb, a yummy blend of morrocan spices called Ras El Hanout and is topped with filo and feta. What’s more to like give it a go and let me know what you think!

 

Serves 2/3

500g Minced lamb

1 garlic

1 red onion

250 ml vegetable stock made up of 1tsp stock powder and 250ml water

1 tin of tomatoes

2 tbsp Ras el Hanout

½ tsp whole cumin seeds

large pinch of ground cinnamon

1 tsp sugarIMG_1468

1tsp salt

75g Feta

50g pine nuts toasted

5 cubes frozen spinach

4 sheets of filo pastry
Method

Pre heat oven to 180

Start by putting the peeled onion, garlic, tin of tomatoes, stock, salt and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth.

Heat a sauté pan, add 1tbsp of light olive oil and fry the minced lamb until browned. Add the ras el hanout, cumin seeds large pinch of cinnamon and stir thoroughly. Add the tomato mixture and allow to come to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the 5 cubes of defrosted spinach and the toasted pine nuts, mix well and transfer to a baking dish. Lightly paint the filo sheets with light olive oil, scrunch up and place on top of the meat. Sprinkle some feta on top and amongst the scrunched up filo. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes until the filo is golden.IMG_1469

Goodness, gracious, great balls of yumminess!!

I know that you’re going to just love these!

Before I go on, I understand that there is a risk of healthy eating overload at the moment. Lots of chat about vegan diets and the benefits of eating a mountain of kale everyday (plus a couple of our posts!) Although, I’m not ready to commit to this totally and would struggle to give up my weekend wine consumption, I do believe there are benefits of having some healthy sweet treats in your kit bag for when you feel your sugar intake may have exceeded its healthy level. Now, I must come clean and admit that I can’t actually take credit for this recipe. It was created by my 16 year old daughter, Isobel * but I think they are so delicious and easy to make that I want to share it with you. Anyway, back to the task in hand. Time to show you that it is possible to create a sweet, satisfying snack that has no refined sugar in it! Here we go..

Apricot and Date Balls

Makes about 22

90g Cashews

img_309790 Pecans

100g Dried Apricots

100g Dates, stones removed

1 tsp cinnamon

25g cacao nibs

Pinch of salt

Toppings

Bee Pollen (considered one of nature’s most completely nourishing foods, containing nearly all the nutrients required by humans.)

Chia Seeds (loaded with fibre, protein and Omega 3, they are considered among the most nutritious foods on the planet!)

Cacao Powder (has nearly four times the antioxidant content of regular processed dark chocolate)

Method

 

img_3104Put the nuts in a food processor and blitz until they are finely chopped. Add the fruit, cinnamon and salt and process until all the mixture forms a paste. Remove the mixture from the processor and combine thoroughly with the cacao nibs (its almost easier to use your hands for this.)
Take small amounts of the mixture and roll between your hands to form smallish balls. Roll the balls in whichever of the three toppings you fancy, and then place in the fridge for a while to firm up.

Delicious and incredibly satisfying!

* Courtesy of  http://instagram.com/isobel_grace

 

 

 

Pancakes are not just for Shrove Tuesday!

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We often forget how simple and quick  it is to whip up a batch of delicious pancakes. After all, we only need three ingredients to make a basic pancake mix and then add whatever flavour takes your fancy. Whether it be Nutella (a particular favourite of my 15yr old) bacon and maple syrup or simply lemon and sugar they are always great crowd pleasers and why should we wait until Shrove Tuesday for an excuse to make them?  I have decided to share my recipe for yummy American style blueberry pancakes which unlike the French crepes are smaller and fluffier. They do have a few more ingredients than the basic pancake mixture but hey it’s well worth the extra effort. They are made using self raising flour instead of plain and a little baking powder to give a extra lift. I have topped them with a dollop of Greek yoghurt some toasted coconut flakes  and toasted almonds for that extra crunch and sophistication!

Blueberry Pancakes

makes 8

100g self raising flour

100ml milk

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp baking powder

1tbsp honey

75ml water

65g fresh blueberries

Method

Measure out the flour into a bowl with the baking powder. Make a well and add the milk, water, egg, honey and vanilla essence. Using a whisk gradually mix in the wet ingredients to form a thick batter. Fold in the blueberries and set aside. Heat a non stick frying pan and using a paper towel wipe it with a little butter. Pour in a small ladleful of the batter and cook for a few minutes on either side until risen, brown and the blueberries have started to bleed slightly. I have served them here with a dollop of Greek yohurt, some extra blueberries and some toasted coconut flakes. Yum!

 

 

Poach a pear today!

Whether or not you are still trying to fight the desire to slip your hand into the biscuit tin, I do think its quite handy to have a recipe for something sweet which isn’t going to fuel your body with the fateful sugar!! Now I understand that the concept of poaching fruit may not leave you feeling excited and dying to hit the kitchen, but bare with me, these are good. And, pretty healthy! Pears in their own right, provide a healthy dose of vitamin C – always handy at this time of year with the multitude of germs around, and vitamin K which is very good for general bone health. Along with being a good source of fibre. There you go…whats not to love? Once poached, the pears have a slight sweetness with the added subtle flavour of star anise, vanilla, and a slight hint of cinnamon! In fact, I put them in a bowl topped with a  little coconut yogurt and homemade granola and the whole lot was wolfed down by two of my daughters!

So, this is what I did…

Poached pears

4 medium pears (the riper the better – mine were rock hard so I just simmered them for longer!)

1/2 tsp vanilla paste

3 star aniseimg_3021

1 tbsp honey

1 cinnamon stick

200ml water

Put everything apart from the pears in a small saucepan and simmer for around 3 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the pears, remove the cores, quarter and cut into thin strips (this isn’t necessary but I just thought they looked nice!)

Add the pears to the cooking liquid and simmer for around 9 minutes. There’s no hard and fast rule on this, if they are very firm they will need longer than if they are very ripe.

When the pears are cooked to your liking, remove and then bring the liquid to the boil. Let the liquid boil so that it becomes a little more syrupy. Return the pears to the pan, and then serve. Delicious on their own, with yogurt, with porridge, on pancakes….whatever takes your fancy!IMG_3046.JPG

Warm Winter Beetroot and Goats cheese Salad

Are you still on track with your healthy start to the year?  We all have this great intention of becoming a healthier, fitter version of ourselves in January but if you are anything like me, by mid Jan you are definitely wavering!  Fed up with quinoa and kale (although I must say I do have a particular penchant for the green stuff, only a couple of handfuls in this though!) I’ve decided to create a recipe including purple sweet potatoes.  Purple I hear you say, well yes, purple!  You must have heard the hype?  These vibrant coloured spuds are purported to stave off illnesses due to the huge number of anti oxidants in them. The Okinawans in Japan apparently consume a kilo of purple sweet potatoes a day and live to be over 100! Now I am not entirely convinced the ones in Waitrose are the same and I am not suggesting you consume a kilo a day but there has got to be some similarity as it is the purple colour that holds all the goodness, rather like blueberries.  So this recipe is not only going to give you a good serving of purple sweet potato goodness but I also have included beetroot for a double whammy of the stuff and goats cheese for its sheer yumminess! Give it a go and let me know what you think!

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Warming Winter Salad of Beetroot, Goats Cheese and Giant Wholewheat Couscous

2 medium sized beetroot

200g purple sweet potato

150g giant wholeweat couscous

2 handfuls of kale, picked over to discard any tough bits

75g goats cheese thinly sliced

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for the potatoes

½ tbsp. honey

Black pepper

Sea salt

Handful of toasted almonds to serve

Method

Pre heat oven to 200C

Start by putting the beetroot into the pre heated oven for 40 minutes until just soft. Meanwhile peel the potato and chop into 2 cm dice, cover with a little oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Put on a baking tray in the oven for 30 minutes. (I put the beetroot and potato on the same tray just 10 mins apart)

Measure out the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and honey into a large bowl. Add the kale a little sea salt and black pepper. Set aside to marinate. When the beetroot and potatoes are ready take them out of the oven add the potatoes to the kale and when the beetroot is cool enough to handle, peel and chop into 2 cm dice and add to the kale as well.

Cook the couscous according to the packet instructions drain and add to the salad. Toss to get all the flavours to combine thoroughly. Check the seasoning then place in a large salad bowl and top with the thinly sliced goats cheese and toasted almonds.

Lets try this again shall we?!!

So, ok, I sent a blog before it was finished but worse things happen! Hopefully, it has inspired you to think about juicing and you’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this completed post! If not, I’m going to try and convince you otherwise. So I will continue where I left off, this time with spellings corrected and recipes completed…..

If you are anything like me, an important aspect of embracing the Christmas period is by whole heartedly consuming every delicious morsel that is available to eat and drink! Sadly, that leaves me now feeling bloated, with my waistband somewhat tighter than a few weeks ago! So, as a little kick start, I am going to try and replace the mince pies with a juice!! It may take a while to adjust, but I am hoping it will give me an immediate sense of cleanliness. Sipping a glass of goodness has got to be an improvement on the endless sauvignon blanc that has found its way down my throat over the Christmas period.

Although this may cause you to groan, juices don’t need to be all kale and cucumber (although I have managed to sneak these in). It is actually possible to make something that is not only good for you but also quite enjoyable!

So, I have two offerings to share. The first includes three ingredients which are known for their cleansing qualities…call it a detox juice if you must. Secondly, an energising juice to help with those mid afternoon slumps that will occur as we attempt to rid our bodies of the sugar mountain that has built up.

The Cleanser

2 small beetroot

img_29732 carrots

1 apple

1 pear

1 inch ginger

Cut up and feed through the juicer. Stir and enjoy!

I won’t bore you with too much detail, but basically beetroot is an excellent cleanser of the digestive-tract, carrots are excellent at boosting the liver, kidneys and digestive system and apples provide more than 10% of our recommended daily fibre intake. There, I’m done!

The Energiser
160g pineapple

1 pink lady apple

1/2 cucumber

1 handful of mint

1 large handful of kale

1/2 lime

Again, cut up and feed through the juicer. Stir and enjoy!

So, a short bit of blurb to make you realise why you should drink this! Pineapple is a great source of magnesium which is used for energy-making enzymes, apples are packed full of vitamin C which helps to perk up energy levels. The high water content of the cucumber and lime juice help to rehydrate the system which is essential for energy levels. Finally the kale! Well, I thought I’d sneak it in there as you can’t taste it due to the sweetness of the other fruits and 1 large handful can provide you with your recommended daily intake of Vitamin K which is essential for bone development health. Whats not to like?

So, give it some thought and decide whether 2017 is the year to introduce juicing into your life!

Juicing or not juicing, have a happy and healthy 2017 x