Nutribullet gazpacho

I think I am fairly late to the Nutribullet party. I bought one this summer, long after people started telling me how good they are. I’ve been happy with my juicer and blender, so I wasn’t sure I needed one.

Fool me. This thing is awesome. It’s both nifty and neat. Nifty, with patented powerful blades that make light work of hard vegetables and nuts. Neat, due to its ergonomic design. Thankfully you don’t need to consider a kitchen extension to accommodate all the gear that comes with it.

I can’t step away. I’ve been trying out new recipes every day, including fruit and yoghurt based breakfasts to leafy green lunch drinks.

This golden gazpacho is a complete doddle and absolutely perfect if you’re after a light and healthy summer lunch.

Gazpacho_3

For 2/3 servings you will need:

  • 500g tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 1/2 a white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 small sweet peppers, chopped (I used a mixture of colours
  • 1/3 of a large chunk cucumber, sliced
  • Sea salt and white pepper
  • 100 ml water

Simply:

  1. Place all the ingredients (excluding water) in a baking tin and roast for 30 mins on a moderate heat. This just ensures you to get the best flavours, especially from the tomatoes.
  2. Once cool, add the ingredients to the Nutribullet along with the water. Whizz up for a few seconds until the soup is smooth.
  3. Allow to settle in the fridge overnight, or at least for a few hours. This is important to ensure the flavours develop.
  4. Serve by adding whatever toppings you prefer. It’s traditional to add cucumber, peppers or tomato. But the toppings vary in different parts of Spain.

Make the soup your own, by tweaking the ingredients to your own tastebuds. Just make sure that the vegetables are in good condition and taste good before you begin. With so few additional ingredients, this one really does need robust flavours from fresh vegetables.

Delicious and very virtuous.

Enjoy x

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.

Saffron_1

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

Saffron_2

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

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.

mac2

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.

Mac1

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.

Mango chutney

I have procrastinated about making mango chutney for some time. I’m a massive fan, but when I look at recipes out there and see ‘1 kg of sugar’, I shudder a bit and shelve the thought for another time.

It was the mangos that led the way though. I found a greengrocer selling ripe mangos and felt I had to face up to it. So with a little experimentation, I have made my first, very lovely, honey sweetened mango chutney.

mango_1

mango_2

I like mango chutney with curry dishes, but I’m also partial to a generous helping on salads or with some pan fried fish. On this basis I’ve developed a mildly spiced but softly sweet chutney, one that compliments rather than over powers.

salad_2

To make the chutney jar shown I used:

  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil (or your preferred oil)
  • ½ teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 250 ml white wine vinegar
  • 100 ml honey

How to do it:

  1. First peel the mango and chop as much flesh from the fruit as you can. Put in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and cover in cling film overnight.
  2. The next day sauté the onions in oil. Take your time over this, you want the onion really soft.
  3. Pop the garlic into the oven whole to roast for 15 minutes. You can then just squeeze out what you need as a soft pulp. It’s perfect in this form for a chutney.
  4. Add the garlic and spices, keep on the heat. If the onions and spices start to stick to the pan at the bottom just add a little water. You want to take up to ten minutes on steps 3 and 4 together.
  5. Add the mango, honey and white wine vinegar, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat right down to a gentle simmer. Don’t put a lid on the pan. Also don’t be put off by the smell of vinegar.
  6. You have to be patient now and over the course of an hour to an hour and a half keep visiting the pan and stirring gently. You want to reduce the liquid till it’s sticky and soft.
  7. Once it has reduced down, leave to cool, then check seasoning and add to a jar. (I didn’t add any more salt to this than the original sprinkle to the mango).

The taste really develops as this cools and then again intensifies once added to the jar.

Try it with…

The salad shown works amazingly well with the chutney. It’s just a simple lambs lettuce salad with white balsamic, feta, chickpeas, pine nuts and chia seeds.

salad_1

I hope you get time to try and enjoy.

One egg wonders

I bought these lovely little pans on Monday and have spent the week making dinky dishes for the children and I. I’ve made some mini tapas style dishes and lots of mini omelettes. In fact once I started down the egg path there was no turning back. We’ve loved these hot from the pan and sometimes left to cool and eat as a tortilla.

pans_1

The great thing about eggs

Eggs are quite incredible really. Each little 70 – 80 calorie egg contains 13 essential vitamins and minerals plus antioxidants. They also contain every type of B vitamin, including choline, which is really valuable for healthy brain function. We’re supposed to have around 300ml choline a day. One egg provides a third of this in one small calorie hit.

They’re also an excellent source of high-quality protein. Importantly they contain the essential amino acids in the right ratios, so our bodies can make full use of all the protein in them.

Ultimately a single egg will fill you up more than the equivalent calorie intake in most other foods and work harder to give your body the important stuff it needs.

I am all over the goodness of eggs this week!

Making a good omelette

My technique for a great omelette is to use the hob to cook the bottom and the grill to finish the top. I use a non-stick pan on a high heat with a little oil (I used coconut oil for these recipes). For me a good omelette should be nicely crisp and brown on the bottom with a soft and fluffy (not rubbery) texture inside. Don’t underestimate the importance of mixing up the egg thoroughly before you cook it. Giving it a good whisk with a fork combines the egg yolk and white but also traps in air to give the omelette a little rise with the heat.

The great thing about these mini pans

These pans are perfect because they allow you to pack everything you need into one dish that retains its heat. You don’t suffer the consequence of an oversized omelette that won’t fold without breaking, or one that needs so many eggs to fill the pan that the omelette is over facing to eat.

Here’s the top 3 from the week:

1, Courgette, carrot and super seeds

I love grated vegetables, I sneak them in all over the place. I like the texture and the way they allow for an even distribution of flavour.

carrot and courgette_2

To make these gorgeous omelettes you will need:

  • A teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 1 large free range egg
  • A generous tablespoon of grated carrot,
  • A generous tablespoon of grated courgette
  • A tablespoon of red onion (grated or chopped finely)
  • Some pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and a teaspoon of paprika for the top
  • Seasoning
  1. Mix the ingredients really well (I like to add some black pepper at this stage too).
  2. Add to your pan with hot oil when ready and allow the egg to cook for around 3 minutes.
  3. Check the bottom, once it is brown and you can see that the bottom half of the egg is cooked, transfer to a hot grill.
  4. Allow the omelette to cook for 2 – 3 minutes before sprinkling the topping ingredients.
  5. After around 5 further minutes under the grill you should see the seeds turn colour and the egg should now be firm.
  6. Serve on its own or with lambs lettuce / other soft greens.

2. Smoked salmon and greens

The classic combinations in this omelette make it fail safe. Such a lovely plate, best served with a simple soft salad.

Smoked Salmon

You will need:

  • A teaspoon of coconut oil
  • A large free range egg
  • 50g smoked salmon
  • Around 30g spinach
  • Chopped coriander and mint for the top
  • Squeeze of lime
  • Seasoning

To make a start, wilt your spinach in the pan to reduce the volume before mixing the ingredients together. Then follow the same approach as above, but don’t add the squeeze of lime and fresh herbs until the very end.

3. One for my babies – simple spanish omelette

My children adored these for tea this week. It’s a great way to get a good mix of fat, protein and carbohydrate into their plate. I don’t think the picture does justice to how good these smelt and tasted. Perhaps the empty plates would have been a more fitting way to sell these in.

spanish omelette

For 2 little omelettes you will need:

  • 2 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of chopped potato (I cooked earlier in the day so it was quicker to cook)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of roasted pepper (I roasted a whole pepper earlier in the day then peeled back the skin to use the flesh I needed)
  • 2 tablespoons of cheese grated for the top

Follow the same technique, but it’s the cheese you’ll add on at the grilling stage this time. A sprinkle of coriander would be great at the end, it’s just not something my children like to eat.

A good egg is a great egg. However a poor quality egg or a badly cooked egg can be enough to turn your stomach. I hope these 3 one pan wonders have reminded you of the glory of a simple egg done well.