Roasted vegetables with saffron dressing

I loved the whole BISH BASH BOSH concept that Jamie Oliver introduced us to in the late 90’s. He transcended the austere and seemingly grown up world of traditional TV chefs and authors, making cooking and creation more accessible for real 20 somethings like me. I loved it. Glass of wine in one hand, music on and a sense of relative chaos around the kitchen. There were sizable chunks of roughly chopped this and that, with glugs of olive oil and plenty of balsamic on the go. His recipes always turned out well and tasted great. Happy days.

Fast forward 15 years. Add pets, a husband and two children. I am now often clutching the Dyson Animal rather than the wine whilst preparing food for everyone. Some days there’s quite a bit of clutter and unintentional BISH BASH BOSHING. Other days I face culinary rejection from critics under the age of 6.

However, when there is calm and space of mind, I find complete peace in my time carefully preparing and creating good food. I have a stronger set of principles about what I eat these days. I actively look for ways to create good food that makes us feel nourished and whole. Knowing this means I enjoy the taste of delicious, well sourced food more than ever.

This recipe was adapted from my friend Natalie’s Ottolenghi cookbook. It features recipes from two bright chefs who produce beautiful mindful food.

Roasted vegetables with saffron dressing

This salad is stunning. It is vibrant, healthy and wholesome.

If you can, prepare your vegetables carefully and with love. Take time to taste the dressing. Leave the ingredients to settle a little before re-tasting and serving up. The vegetables will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days and the dressing for 3 or 4.

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For a salad for 4 try this with:

  • 2 aubergines cut into 1-2 cm slices
  • 1 butternut squash cut into 1-2 cm slices
  • olive oil to brush vegetables
  • Lambs lettuce
  • 20g toasted pine nuts

For enough dressing for above with leftovers:

  • A small pinch of saffron strands
  • 3 tbsp of hot water
  • 180g greek yoghurt
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 – 3 tbsp lemon (go by taste)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

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To prepare the salad:

  1. Infuse the saffron in the water for a few minutes. Pour the infusion into a bowl with the other dressing ingredients plus a little salt. Whisk up till you get a smooth sauce, then chill.
  2. For the vegetables, brush with oil on both sides and lay on an oven tray, roasting at 220 degrees C for around 25 – 30 minutes till golden. Let them cool before serving.
  3. Assemble either as a large salad or as individual servings.

I have served this with grilled goats cheese and roasted beetroots too. It is a very robust dressing and has enough flavour to stand up well to cheese, fish or white meat.

Enjoy x

Cranberry and orange crushes

These brilliant little bites are made with good stuff and packed with flavour.  Fruity crushes feature cranberries, orange juice and orange zest, making them a refreshing alternative to some of the previous raw food bars and balls I’ve posted.

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Let’s be honest, if you are in the mood for a four-finger Kit Kat or a bag of M&M’s, these are not going to do it for you.

However if you’re on a roll with healthy eating and want a brighter, more interesting snack, they are perfect. They’re quick to make and because they use store cupboard ingredients, you can make them as and when you fancy.

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To make 10 balls (each containing around 110 calories) you will need:

  • 100 grams of cashew nuts
  • 50 grams of brazil nuts
  • 80 grams of dried cranberries
  • 40 grams of dates
  • A squeeze of orange
  • Zest from half a medium orange
  • Cinnamon for dusting at the end

To make:

  1. Blitz up all the dry ingredients.
  2. Then blitz up the fruity ingredients.
  3. Work the two sets of ingredients together by hand before adding a squeeze of orange and the zest. The amount of orange juice will probably depend on the consistency of the mixture. It needs to be firm and hold together. If crumbly add a little more juice, but not so much that the mixture becomes wet.
  4. Divide and roll in to 10 balls.
  5. At the end dust lightly with cinnamon before putting in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up.
  6. Store in a jar in the fridge and enjoy as and when you fancy a little something sweet.

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Enjoy x

 

 

Saintly cinnamon and carrot muffins

If at first you don’t succeed…

…Then get obsessed. Give up a kilogram of oats, 8 eggs and 4 hours. Bake 43 muffins and force feed your loved ones. Over and over. Until you strike the jackpot.

And breathe.

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I saw a great recipe on the Glitter and Grey blog for spinach and chocolate chip muffins. The recipe really grabbed me, so I thought I’d have a bash. I decided to tweak it though, making it into a carrot equivalent. The result was ok, but it certainly wasn’t a crowd pleaser. My five year old squeezed honey all over his first one and said that was pretty good though.

I wanted to create something as tasty as carrot cake, but without the flour, sugar and frosted icing. Slightly ambitious I know.

However, with some patience and practice I have created a beautifully sweet, slightly spiced and moist fruity muffin. These saintly bakes also now feature extra honey, thank you Tobias.

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You will need:

  • 100 grams of greek yoghurt
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 grated carrots
  • Grated peel from 1 medium orange
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 200 grams of oats (I used gluten free)
  • 100 grams of raisins

Thank fully the process is simple:

  1. Put everything except the oats and raisins into the blender for a few seconds
  2. Then mix in the oats and raisins in a separate bowl
  3. Spoon into muffin cases (Use silicone cases to avoid sticking, there’s not a lot of grease in these)
  4. Put into pre-heated oven (180C fan or 350 F) for 15 – 20 minutes until a rich brown
  5. Leave on wire racks to cool

You will get 12 muffins from this recipe, each containing around 130 calories.

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I also made a batch of buttercream. A reward to my husband and son. They were truly impressed with the less saintly alternative muffin served with a generous topping of buttercream.

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The end result here is ultimately just a really tasty plate of cakes. Somehow, the thought, love and attention to get them spot on has made them something more special to me this week. For me this is how you take good ingredients, then carefully find the best way to serve them up with  masses of affection.

Mackerel with Sunshine Slaw

I really like this one. It’s a super healthy plate of crunchy raw vegetables topped with a simple piece of fish.

I’ve playing around with various yoghurt dressings for the coleslaw. With the final version featuring freshly squeezed orange and lime, I can happily now call this a Sunshine Slaw. It’s bright colours and zesty taste, make it a perfect clean spring salad.

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For around 500g of coleslaw you will need:

  • 400/450g crunchy vegetables – made up of grated carrot, grated beetroot, finely chopped red onion and plenty of shredded red cabbage
  • 100ml natural yoghurt  – you may choose to add a little extra once you’ve tasted at the end
  • 1 tablespoon of oil – try safflower or olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • juice from half a lime – just squeezed by hand
  • juice from half an orange – just squeezed by hand
  • Seasoning (be fairly generous – but taste to make sure it works for you)

The full batch contains around 300 calories – not a fraction of a regular mayonnaise coleslaw.

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To make the coleslaw:

  • Simply mix it all together and taste.
  • The seasoning and various elements of the dressing may need a little tweak at this stage because the vegetables, oil, yoghurt, vinegar we use are not all uniform. Just be guided by your palette and what tastes good to  you.

For the final plate:

For a small lunchtime salad serve around 100g of the coleslaw with around 80g mackerel per person. Simply pan fry fresh mackerel or serve cold mackerel. I tried and loved both but the cold mackerel option is definitely a quicker prep. If you buy pre-cooked fish just check the packet for any added extras. Most will contain some salt, but there’s no need for extra preservatives. You can easily buy this fish without.

The sustainability debate

Mackerel has been both on and off the recommended ‘fish to avoid’ list due to concerns about over fishing in the North East Atlantic. However since 2013 this fish has been on the ‘fish to eat’ list managed by the Marine Conservation Society. Line caught mackerel is by far the best way to source mackerel. Read more about the eco information.

The positive virtues of mackerel

As for the health benefits, mackerel is a widely recommended oily fish. It is rich in essential vitamins and minerals with both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It also contains protein and the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10, which is associated to the elimination of cancerous elements from cells. Read more on the health benefits.

I hope you get time to try this sunny salad.

Empty spaces and scones

There are spare seats in our kitchen today

There’s a big empty space in my heart,

I’ve always spent this day with my mum

But I can’t because we’re apart,

So today in our house – I’m the main Mummy

The day is all about me,

It sounds indulgent and bloomin’ fantastic

But it actually feels quite empty,

Well I don’t have an AGA or all your know-how

So I’ll just have to give it a go,

For today is the day that I bake in your honour,

And make scones for people I know.

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My take on Granny Lynne’s scones have been adapted from a recipe on the Good Food website. I’ve jazzed them up with some lemon, cranberries and sultanas:

You will need:

  • 350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 175ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • 80 grams of dried cranberries and sultanas
  • beaten egg, to glaze

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Here’s how:

  1. Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip the flour into a large bowl with the salt and baking powder, then mix. Add the butter, then rub in with your fingers until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Add the vanilla and lemon juice to the milk. Make a well in the dry mix, then add the liquid and combine it quickly with a knife. Add some flour onto the work surface and tip the dough out. Dredge the dough and your hands with a little more flour, then fold the dough over 2-3 times until it’s a little smoother. Pat or roll into a round about 4cm deep.
  3. I used a small cutter to make 12 scones, refolding the dough once I had made as many as possible in the first flattened dough batch.
  4. Brush the tops with beaten egg, then carefully place onto the hot baking tray.
  5. Bake for 10 mins until risen and golden on the top. Eat just warm or cold on the day of baking, generously topped with jam and clotted cream.

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I shared these with my family, some of the neighbours and friends we visited in Spain.

Happy Mothers Day to all the Mummys I know x

Market Day and a Strawberry Classic

I have been itching to post this one for a couple of days, however a ‘laptop meets floor’ incident has left me technically restricted for the back end of the week. I’m so clumsy it’s untrue.

As much as I love living in Gibraltar, escaping across the border does bring a certain sense of relief in the middle of my week. This week Finn and I went for a run on the beach and then walked back through the market in La Linea. It’s not a very salubrious town and the market is pretty simple, but the perfect place for fresh, well priced vegetables and fruit. This week I went without a list and paid the penalty of getting over excited. I struggled back over the border with more than I could carry and the pressure of working out a plan for all my purchases.

So I’ve free-wheeled a bit. I’ve played around with various fruity concoctions, including a lovely pineapple chutney a few stunning smoothies.

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The star of the market selection was the lovely fat strawberries. So I’m going to start with an updated version of a classic smoothie. I used goats milk and avocado in this one, both of which give a really creamy taste. The seeds are really not to be missed. They add crunch and texture which totally transforms the smoothie.

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You will need:

  • 400g strawberries
  • 2 x banana
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 x tablespoon honey
  • 250g goats yoghurt
  • 10g toasted chia seeds and linseed (just toast in a dry pan for 5 minutes)

This makes 2 very generous smoothies (around 330 calories each) or 3 regular glasses (around 220 each).

To make:

  • Add everything except the seeds to a blender and whizz up.
  • Stir the toasted seeds through the smoothie and sprinkle a few on top.
  • Pop these in the freezer for 10 minutes before diving in with a spoon

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Enjoy x