Oh my! Bakewell tart for breakfast!

Ok so this was a chance discovery this morning, which I got rather excited about!

It turned into an very British version of peanut butter and jelly on toast…

imageHomemade almond butter and strawberry jam on wholegrain toast- the surprise was how incredible the almond butter tastes. I’d made it a few weeks ago and left it in a Kilner jar in the cupboard, I’m not sure if that’s why the flavour has improved so much but it tastes like so super ‘almondy’.

Usually I find almonds taste ‘nice’, but lack that full flavour that you then increase with almond essence (barring the time I bought them from a market in Cyprus and they were the most delicious, sweet, almondy almonds I’ve ever tasted!) Not necessary with this stuff!

To make it I added a bag of raw, skin on almonds to my blender with a pinch of Himalayan salt and whizzed for around 5-10 minutes until it all came together, and magically transformed itself into butter. It’s as simple as that. The shop bought stuff has oil added and although this will be thicker and ‘drier’, you need less of it.

Spread it on the toast, add the jam of your choice and there you have it. You’re welcome.

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Buckwheat pancakes

imageHappy sunny Sunday! It finally feels like Spring is, well, ‘springing’…

This morning we treated ourselves to some buckwheat pancakes…they are so easy to make and delicious!

In a large bowl put some buckwheat flour- I say some…I used about 250g.

Whisk in enough milk- I used hemp- until the mixture is about the thickness of double cream.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a low-medium heat.

Ladel in small amounts of the pancake batter to the desired size- I made ours about the same size as Scotch pancakes, which makes them easier to turn over with the lack of oil.

When the top side looks as if bubbles have popped all over it, flip over for another minute or so.

Enjoy with whatever topping you fancy- we enjoyed lemon juice, Bo & Bel’s homemade blackberry jam and a sprinkle of Stevia, but these are great with savoury toppings too.

Have a lovely day 😊

Curries

imagePlease forgive me, this is the only picture I have of today’s curries- they didn’t hang around!

Here are the recipes for Mung bean korma, red lentil dhal and hot and spicy vegetable curry…

To start with I soaked mung beans and cashew nuts overnight in a bowl of water which completely covered them.

Just a quick warning that cashews contain 2.1g of saturated fat per 200g, so please remember to take this into account throughout your day…

Next I made a large batch of tomato and vegetable sauce- just like I did for the ‘Pasta day’ blog last week- but this time I had a few different veggies…

imageI picked up these beautiful baby peppers and bright aubergines from a local greengrocer, as well as the little green tindora- I’d never seen these before so had to buy a few to try, I LOVE finding new ingredients to experiment with!

The following recipe fed 3 adults and two children…

While the sauce was cooking, I blitzed (in my nutribullet): fresh ginger (a thumb sized piece, no need to peel), garlic (even quantity to ginger) fresh coriander, two small, whole hot chillies and a couple of smallish red onions with a little water to make a paste.

Once the tomato and vegetable sauce was cooked through, I set aside the amount I wanted for today’s hot and spicy vegetable curry, and blended the rest.

Next I started on the mung bean curry and red lentil dhal.

I drained the soaked mung beans (around 250g when dry), added about 1/2 of the paste to two pans (1/4 in each) on a low heat.

To the one for the mung bean korma, I added 1-2 tablespoons of korma curry powder- you could buy this ready made, or make your own.

To the other, for the dhal, I added two teaspoons of ground cumin and one teaspoon of ground coriander.

Once warmed through and I could smell the warm spices, I stirred the paste and curry powder together. If you find it hard to concentrate on both pans at the same time, start with the mung bean curry first as it takes longer to cook, then you can focus on the dhal once the mung bean curry is underway.

Next I added to the korma pan a few good spoonfuls of the tomato and vegetable sauce, the mung beans and a good glug of water, gave it a good stir and seasoned with pink Himalayan salt. I then put a lid on it and left it to simmer on the lowest heat.

For the dhal; to the warmed spices and paste, I added about 150g red split lentils, 2 teaspoons of vegan vegetable bouillon, about 300ml of water, the juice of half a lemon and also left to simmer on a low heat. The lentils will take on a lot of water and need stirring from time to time to make sure they don’t stick to the pan.

For the hot and spicy vegetable curry, I added the rest of the paste along with about two tablespoons of curry powder (I used a mild one as my paste was already very spicy) to another pan and warm through as before. Next I added the tomato and vegetable sauce I had reserved and a cheeky dessert spoonful of unrefined brown sugar- mango chutney would have been best but I didn’t have any.

While this was all gently simmering itself into curry heaven, I prepared the special ingredient…

With no coconut allowed on this diet, I opted to make an alternative- cashew nut cream. I used 200g cashews, soaked overnight as mentioned. I popped them in the nutribullet, with the water that covered them and hey presto, delicious, creamy joy!

The mung beans take about 40 minutes to cook, if any of the curries start to dry out before the lentils or mung beans are cooked, add a little more water.

Once the curries were cooked- mung beans soft, lentils soft and falling apart, I cooked the rice.

To finish the mung bean korma, I stirred through most of the cashew nut cream (I found I didn’t need it all) with the heat off (to ensure the oils in the cashews didn’t overheat).

Lastly I sprinkled fresh coriander over the curries and served…delicious and full of flavour!

Bo and Bel said they liked the dhal best and the mung bean korma second best…

 

Happy Mothering Sunday!

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I was spoilt rotten by Bo and Bel today, they’d been to my favourite jeweller and spent ALL of their money on a bespoke silver necklace, made me gorgeous cards and Bel had even made wrapping paper! I could have melted ❤️

My turn to treat my Mum… I made curries for lunch…

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…Spicy vegetable curry, mung bean korma and red lentil dhal and for dessert, chocolate orange cake…

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I’m teasing a little here as I want to tweak the recipe for this a little…if anyone would like it?

Curry recipes to follow, hope all you Mothers had a lovely day ❤️

 

This is how I start my day

I recently read an article about beating winter blues by setting your body to British summer time early…in other words…set your alarm an hour early.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m the antithesis of an early riser, in fact I’m pretty much ill comunicado for the first half hour after waking.

I’ve been struggling with making sure I ‘do my meds’ (not pharmaceuticals- my friend Nielsen and I have been reminding each other to meditate daily and have invented this colloquialism for our own amusement)…

So, I’ve managed to set my alarm 15 minutes early to allow for a 10 minute meditation session- I’m building up gradually to half an hour a day…peace of mind and summer coming early, I can give up a little time to that end…

This done, I head to the kitchen and have a glass of filtered water with fresh lemon

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Then I move onto a smoothie. Bo and I have smoothies every morning- Bel is a supreme fruit dodger and will have nothing to do with fruit in any guise- with the exception of Cantaloupe melon.

In the smoothie (Nutribullet) we have a combination of fruit and veg-any we fancy on the day with a base of spinach or kale, plus added extras-

always: Vit D, Magnesium, B12 and cold pressed, organic flaxseed oil- we blend these in as I don’t enjoy taking tablets

alternating as we like: Spirulina, Chia seeds, wheatgrass, turmeric

This was today’s

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On work days I’ll have a larger one which keeps me going until my lunchbreak, but at the weekend we subscribe to the Hobbit system of eating and often have second or even third breakfast- toast, cereals, pancakes…

 

Pasta day!

Since moving to our house in early 2013, I’d been promising Bo and Bel we’d make fresh pasta together. Why has it taken three years to make pasta you may ask…well let’s just say this house was a bit of a ‘fixer upper’. The truth is, it had never had a fitted kitchen. It’s a 1930’s semi-detached bungalow. When we moved in, the kitchen consisted of two large cupboards, one housing a twin tub and the other; the sink. You could actually go inside the cupboard, close the door behind you and wash up. The rest of the room was dominated by a vastly oversized fireplace, which had long since had the ‘fire’ element removed and all that remained was a tiled hearth and a disproportionately sized cupboard. This left space for a small table (which we could just about squeeze the three of us around) and served as the only work surface in the room. The oven was the type with an eye-level grill and came with the house.

One of the cupboards had to have the door and part of the brickwork removed, just to plumb in the washing machine. The cupboard in the fireplace did sport some fantastic printed wallpaper though…

Bit by bit I have been renovating the house- last Spring the large, rotten, single glazed windows were replaced and the large, French doors into the garden were added. Last summer the renovations started proper and I’m over the moon that I (almost) have a completed kitchen now…

So…back to pasta…

You will notice I used gluten free flour- I’m not coeliac but I’m experimenting a little with gluten free recipes. You can use 00 flour if you prefer.

You will also notice a lot of my recipes are vegan- I’m not vegan, but Bo is and my diet is close enough that it makes home cooking simpler much of the time.

For the dough

Half a bag (500g) of gluten free flour (the one I used was Dove’s Farm) -in the Magi Mix

1 pinch Maldon salt

press go

Slowly add a little warm water to bring dough together. As soon as it does-stop. The dough is done- it should hold together easily, but not be too sticky. If it is sticky, add more flour.

Turn the dough out onto cling film, wrap and put it in the fridge for half an hour, or until you are ready to use it.

That’s it!

So…you can use this for whatever type of pasta you like- we chose to make a semi-circular ravioli type. However, there was a little left over- enough for lunch- so we rolled it through the machine into spaghetti and ate it with a bit of pesto, some olives and a sprinkle of vegan ‘Parmesan’ my friend Suzie gave me (must pinch her recipe).

For the filling 

Last night for dinner I had some mackerel fillets with wilted spinach and sweet potato… The sweet potatoes were absolutely humongous- about the size of a large Guinea pig! Needless to say, I had leftovers. Perfect. Pasta. Filling.

Mash up sweet potato

mix through a dollop of vegan pesto (I will post this recipe another time), season. Done.

Making the ravioli

roll the pasta out in a sheet- I did this in a pasta machine and didn’t need to add any flour to stop it sticking, but I think you’d need to if rolling by hand. Try and get it to no more than 1mm thick-but not so thin you can’t move it easily.

We used a pastry cutter to cut circles out of the sheets,  filled them with a little of our sweet potato mixture, brushed with a little cold water, folded them over and sealed shut with a gentle squeeze. If you use too much filling and the pasta doesn’t seal, it will leak out during cooking.

I think we got about 25 of these little pasty shaped pastas-enough for the three of us for dinner.

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We covered these and put them in the fridge while we went out for the afternoon.

when we came back I made the…

Sauce

I have a few different ways I like to make a tomato based sauce- and usually there are hidden vegetables- depending on what I have in the fridge…this was today’s offering:

2 red onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, squished and chopped

1 carrot

about 6 small peppers (capsicum), various colours

a string bag full of tomatoes- about 25- medium sized

2 pink lady apples, chopped, brown parts and cores/seeds removed  (to add a bit of sweetness- added to the fact that they needed using up!)

dried oregano

1 tube tomato purée

a few basil leaves (not many left on my plant- a few more would have been nice)

seasoning

This makes a large batch- we’ve got at least 3 or 4 meals ahead of us on this batch alone.

Put a splash of water in a non-stick, large pan/casserole type.

Add onions, little salt, cook 5 mins on Med heat

Add carrots, pepper, apple, cook another 5 mins

Add garlic, sprinkle of oregano, cook for another couple of minutes

If at any time the mixture starts to stick, add another splash of water

Add the tomatoes, purée, a little more salt and black pepper

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Simmer, covered on a low heat for as long as you have time to wait- but at least 20 minutes until all the veg is soft and the tomatoes have broken down

At this point I blend in the magi-mix then return to the pan, cover and leave on the lowest heat, checking now and then to make sure it isn’t sticking

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I decided to add black olives at the last minute- we all LOVE olives!

Cooking the pasta

Bring to the boil a large pan of water- it’s important that the pasta has plenty of room to move around

When boiling, add in the little pasty pasta one by one, but quickly

They take about 4-5 minutes to cook and start floating to the top as they are ready

Drain and mix with the sauce

To serve we liked the basil leaves and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil…I added a few chilli flakes to mine too. Seriously delicious!

Hopefully it won’t take us three years until the next family pasta making session…