Wednesday, 11 December 2013

eggs sunny side up and pecan apple yogurt

hi all, today's post is a sum up of some of my most recent breakfasts... i love a good breakfast.

oat drop scones, drizzled with tahini and honey, sprinkled with pecans. i made the mix the night before, left it in the fridge and it was good to go on an early morning. it tasted delicious topped with homemade applesauce, and a side of rooibos tea.

breakfast for two. smoked salmon, avocado, salad greens, fresh tomato, horseradish sauce, a fried egg and a cappucino with soya milk from Coffee #1 down the road.

eggs easy over and sprinkled with dill, with fried mushrooms on a slice of sourdough. and the choice of a tiny, fruity little yeo.

breakfast for two. homemade speciality coffee from Has Bean, with little yeos, fried eggs, cucumber, houmous and salsa. delish. (and loving our new Christmas candle from Ikea!)

organic greek yogurt, pecans and homemade apple sauce. a simple breakfast after a heavy dinner the night before. loving the new crochet blanket i picked up at a local charity store.

more fried eggs. i love them! i love eating round the yolk, then popping the whole yolk in my mouth at once, like my great grandfather used to. with a side of homemade rhubarb flapjack.

i hope you are all well! thank you for reading.

currently listening to: soul cake by sting - one of my favourite Christmas songs, if not my actual top favourite.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

stirring it up on sunday

good evening everyone! guess what? it's a month until Christmas! i must admit to being one of those people who do actually still get excited about this time of year, even though i'm 26. cynicism has not taken over yet, and i still believe that this time of year is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, enjoying time with family (however much driving is involved) and showing love by giving gifts.

in line with the fact that Stir Up Sunday was last weekend, the lovely people at Yeo Valley asked me if I'd like them to send me the ingredients to make a traditional Christmas pud. of course, being the blogger that i am, i leapt at the chance, and fortunately received this beautiful package on my front door a few days later...

i actually wasn't planning on a pud this year - i'd never done it before, and given that i can't really eat it, it had not really crossed my mind. however, i love making new traditions, and even though i won't be able to have a slice, everyone else can! and i'll probably still have a little taste with a smidgen of hot custard.

so whilst visiting my grandparents, we popped on ClassicFM and got all the ingredients out... 

they not only sent me the ingredients & a recipe, but also a beautiful blue and white Cornishware pudding bowl to put it in. i shall treasure it forever. and if this goes well, perhaps make my Christmas pud in it each year!

there's no real way to make this much healthier if you want to store it until Christmas. my only switch was to add in wholemeal breadcrumbs instead of white. but i did keep in the same amounts of fruit, sugar and black treacle...

then all you have to do is stir it up...

and make sure as many family members have had a chance to stir it up too!! here goes my husband and my grandmother...

and my grandfather...

and then pop it in a pan to steam for 3 1/2 hours... after having made a fantastic contraption out of string for getting it in and out.

once you've steamed it, you'll need to take it out, let it cool and then store it in a cool, dark place until Christmas! i popped mine in a Christmas-y tin and then popped it with the bowls, where it will wait patiently...

so there you go, my first Christmas pud! if you'd like to make one too, there's still time! (essentially they just get better with time, but you can make them at any point from now until Christmas.) here's the Christmas pudding recipe for you - i'm sure you'll have fun making it!

thank you for reading - check back soon for more lunchboxes and foodie inspiration...

currently listening to: cool yule by louis armstrong & the commanders (arguably the best Christmas song ever?!)

Monday, 18 November 2013

autumn rhubarb flapjack

is there anything more comforting than a rectangle of flapjack?

perhaps it's because my grandmother always used to make it. her kitchen would smell of hot golden syrup, and there was always a tin full of crunchy flapjacks on the side. we would sit and enjoy it by the coal fire after cold walks in the Dorset countryside.

today's very delicious recipe is a variation on the prune flapjack recipe that appears on p107 of my breakfast cookbook, but is perhaps more perfect for this time of year, and will certainly be appearing in the second edition of the book! it's much healthier than my nanna's original as there's no refined sugar...

rhubarb flapjack
makes 12 pieces

1 cup (220g) stewed rhubarb
1.5 cups (175g) porridge oats
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp molasses
100g butter
pinch salt

1. preheat the oven to 180c. grease and line a small baking tray.
2. melt together the honey, molasses and butter on a low heat.
3. add in the salt, oats and stewed rhubarb, mixing well.
4. place the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing over with a spatula or the back of a spoon to ensure even baking.
5. bake for about 30 minutes, until crisp at the edges.
6. leave to cool in the tray for 30 minutes, then use a knife to cut the flapjack into rectangles, and leave in the tray to cool completely. remove from the tin and store in an airtight container in the fridge, or wrap individually in parchment ready for travel.

cook's notes:

  • i stewed a big bag of frozen chopped rhubarb with the seeds from half a vanilla pod for my sauce. you could also substitute other fruit pulps to change the flavour.
  • i used my own porridge mix instead of just oats, which includes dessicated coconut, oatbran, quinoa flakes, buckwheat flakes, oat flakes and spelt flakes.
  • if you're dairy free, substitute in the same amount of coconut oil, about 2Tbsp.
  • you could add in other flavours to spice it up a little, but i love the taste of the rhubarb in this.

the perfect thing to eat when you're doing a little stitching...

this would go so perfectly with a cup of coconut milk dark hot chocolate with a dash of cinnamon. warming and divine. or a hot mug of vanilla rooibos tea...

thanks for reading! i hope you enjoy making these.

currently listening to: merry go 'round by kacey musgraves

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

hot samphire salad and mizuna flowers

hello lovely readers, happy wednesday!

today i have some of my latest eats for you - by way of hopefully inspiring your dinner times out of the ordinary:

chunky vegetable soup with thai red curry paste is a good thing. even better with mashed avocado on rye crispbread (takes me back to my time in Oz) - the perfect working lunch.

hot chicken and vegetable salad with roasted sweet potato, green beans, a thousand other veg and a side of fried samphire. covered with a beautiful drizzle of our favourite French's mustard.

chickpea salad with tahini dressing, mizuna flowers, raw homegrown courgettes, radish, sultanas and homegrown salad leaves (i use a mix from work, specially made for Autumn). this is my go-to lunch when i am working from home.

you may have noticed that i adore chocolate by now? well, i tried this new handmade raw chocolate called lovechock the other day (i had the almond/fig flavour). i think it would make the perfect introduction to raw chocolate for someone who is used to eating milk chocolate candy bars, and would make a lovely pressie for christmas, and at £2.78 for 40g it is a treat, but well worth it!

i also tried out some kale chips for the first time. baobab and onion may not have been my best choice of flavour, but the saltiness and texture were so crispy, they were addictive. i think next time i'd like to try something sweeter, and see how they were - the raspberry maca ones sound awesome. a perfect diabetic snack :)

cooking for Pete can be tricky - he loves lean protein, and we always have to make sure we get our 20-25g of protein at each meal. but it gets boring to have chicken again and again. so one day i decided to schnitzel it. surprisingly simple - all i did was bash a couple of breasts with a mallet and cover with spicy ground almonds, then fry in coconut oil. perfection with sweet potato fries and griddled asparagus. one of our favourite dinners.

thanks for reading!

currently listening to: the last episode of the Great British Bake Off - so happy with the winner, though I sort of thought they all deserved to win!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

courgette flowers and cherubim chocolate

good day! i hope you are well.

this weekend was our first wedding anniversary :) Pete did a lovely job of spoiling me - he took me for dinner at the Chesil Rectory in Winchester, and to a wine tasting space called The Black Bottle. then the following day we went for amazing breakfast (a proper veggie fry-up), and a walk along the beach front at Mudeford - the sun shone tremendously and i breathed in every ounce of fresh sea air.

unfortunately, there aren't any photos. but i do have photos from my week, which i hope makes up for it! so here are my latest eats and treats:

a simple, delicious and nutritious breakfast - spinach and a little homegrown sorrel, eggs, avocado and a tiny slice of toasted sourdough - perfection.

a simple dinner - smoked salmon, defrosted frozen veg, and bread for the husband - all sprinkled with a little dukkah (it just makes everything better)

cherubim chocolates - i came across Cherubim when we were on holiday, and then had more sent to me to test out the flavours. it's beautiful raw chocolate - with added carob and lucuma, which give it an amazing taste, and sweetened only with agave. i can't decide if i prefer rose otto with crystalised rose petals or pepperment with cocoa nibs. yummy! these are definitely added to my christmas list (for me as well as my family!)

bean burgers are the perfect dinner - i made these with a little grated courgette and some smashed crackers - so easy and so tasty (fancy the recipe?)

we've still got some courgettes and courgette flowers from our borders - i love the flowers ripped up on top of salads to give a little extra sunshine.

i'd like to grow a few more things next year. i have to say though that i'll stick with low maintenance plants... courgette, herbs and salad leaves have been productive and tasty this year with very minimal effort :) do you have any suggestions?

just in case you aren't a subscriber on my YT channel, i thought i'd add in my latest video, which features my favourites things from September, including the delicious Cherubim Chocolate!

thanks for watching and reading!

currently listening to: silver lining by kacey musgraves (i heard her sing on the Jools Holland show and thought her voice was gorgeous)

Monday, 30 September 2013

coconut milk panna cotta with agar agar

i have a very simple, delicious and healthy recipe to share with you all today... it's coconut milk panna cotta made with agar agar flakes. it's so easy to whip up for dessert, that i keep a small jar of agar agar flakes (which you can get from most supermarkets - i have used the Sanchi brand) in the cupboard, along with a tin of coconut milk for any time i fancy something a bit "treat-y".

you can soften the texture with some yogurt, or extra coconut cream if you like. the recipe is basic, leaving it open for you to get creative, add in flavourings that you love and top it with whatever you enjoy!

you can easily place this in moulds and then turn it out and drizzle with a delicious berry sauce and make it look incredibly elegant! all i did was place it in some pretty bowls and eat the entire thing straight away - oops. it still looked beautiful though...

coconut milk panna cotta
makes 4 small desserts

1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp agar agar flakes
1 tbsp honey

1. place the coconut milk and agar agar flakes in a saucepan, and let sit for 15 minutes.
2. whisk together and then bring to a simmer - stir constantly.
3. keep whisking on the heat until the agar agar flakes have completely dissolved - about 5 minutes.
4. leave the pan to cool for 15 minutes, then whisk again and divide into your serving bowls. cool these at room temperature for half an hour, and then pop them in the fridge to harden up for 4 hours.

cook's notes:
  • these have a tendency to separate, depending on the brand/type of coconut milk you use. to reduce the changes of creating two layers in your dessert, choose the best quality coconut milk, add in some extra yogurt or coconut cream, and follow the above steps, making sure not to boil the mixture.
  • the recipe is inspired by the one on Camille Styles blog
  • this is a great body cleanser - this seaweed is fantastic for digestion (see full health benefits and uses on Web MD - love discovering new ingredients)!
this was so good i made it 3 times in a week! it's good with raspberries and fresh mint, or a sprinkle of ground flaxseed, and works well with cinnamon and fresh vanilla seeds. i've also added coconut palm sugar as the sweetener but that makes it a little too brown in colour and therefore not totally appetising.

thanks for reading! i hope you're all enjoying the beginning of autumn i'm loving the colours begin to change in the trees...)

currently listening to:  the other side by jason derulo

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

cream teas, clovelly and crab sandwiches

guess what? we've been away on holiday! since getting married, we've not had a proper holiday, and so we took a week in Devon in a gorgeous self-catering cottage near Halwill Junction... time to relax, cook, read, watch movies together and sleep. it was sublime.

i adore holidays in our own country. we've got such a diverse countryside, with ever changing communities as you drive through fields and forests across county lines - and there's still so much of our own country that i want to explore! i made a mental note a few years ago to try and explore the UK before i tried to discover the rest of the world again, because i felt like i didn't really know it as well as i should. i suppose this is the first step towards this exploratory mission...

anyhow, onto some holiday snaps:

breakfasts in pj's in bed is important from time to time on holiday. it was so fun making our own breakfasts each morning, at whatever time we liked and with the best Waitrose supplies. we had eggs, veggie fry-ups, fruit, coffee, all things we wanted. i even read through my own book for inspiration and we had mexican style baked eggs one day - yum!

we made sure to walk every day, whether that was around shops, by the seaside, along a river or in a forest. we even rented cycles along The Tarka Trail one day - which was perhaps my favourite day, even though i ended up with a sore behind. we stopped for lunch in Fremington Quay, and ate delicious fishcakes and scrummy lemon polenta cake.

it's also very essential when in Devon/Cornwall to make sure you get a good cream tea, and we made sure that the one cream tea i had was the best! we went to The Coffee Room in Bude, where the scones are made by the father of the woman who runs the place, and who also runs the bakery down the road (which make amazing pasties - better than Pengenna).

don't forget to put the cream on after the jam if you're in cornwall, and cream before jam if you're in devon!

ostler's cottage was gorgeous - it's a classic cottage, and as such was perfectly well appointed - we were even greeted with red roses and homemade cherry sponge on arrival. the gardens were phenomenal too - inspired by Sarah Raven (who I work for!) and brimming with colour. a little touch of paradise.

going on holiday in blackberrying season is awesome. we spent the whole week trying to find the biggest, juiciest, tastiest ones, and swapping our best finds for taste trials. i love blackberry season, so it was good to finally get out and try a few. 

we did our fair bit of sightseeing - bude, padstow, and clovelly to name a few towns we discovered. bude is my favourite, with random shops and cafes. at padstow we ate some amazing local fish, and went for a walk along the cliff path which was blustery but brilliant. clovelly is a very cute little town - you have to pay to get in, but it's worth it...

we ate a crab sandwich from the seafood shop at the bottom of the hill, and then we ate lunch at the New Inn at the top of the hill - totally unassuming place, but the food was just perfect. i had a veggie lasagne, and Pete had the seafood platter.

so there you go, a little glimpse into what we got up to! hopefully i'll be back soon with a couple of delicious recipes and lunchbox photos for you all. i hope you're enjoying the beginning of autumn too!

currently watching: breakfast on bbc1 - very important to catch up on what's been happening in the world whilst you've been away!

Monday, 12 August 2013

lazy summer days by the sea

summer days, drifting away.

i've loved our heat wave this year in england. for so many reasons. but mostly because it makes everyone cheery and smiley. i can walk around my little city suburb and feel a buzz of energy. creativity and ideas spark, and very little can be wrong when the temperature is peaking at 30c.

of course, nature is stunning, the garden is full and fresh produce is glorious now too.

here are some of my latest eats and journeys...

porridge with quinoa, topped with ground flaxseeds, St Dalfour marmalade, cinnamon and raisins, as well as a drizzle of homemade almond cream.

we visited the seaside on a sunny weekend, trampling across rocks, stumbling across British summer fĂȘtes, taking water taxis and breathing in the beautiful fresh sea air. 

chickpea pizza is both filling and light, and perfect with fresh asparagus. it's a regular staple in this house, and is always made with different toppings every time (i still love the florentina).

pasta and summer go together perfectly. i was addicted to tortelloni at university, and it was lovely rediscovering it this summer. perfect pre-cycle food for Pete, and a lovely treat for me, especially with homegrown basil, ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil.

more pea and pesto soup for lunch, with feta and dukkah and sesame crispbread...

looking forward to the rest of our summer days. more lazy weekends, time in the gardening, reading outdoors and picnics in the garden...

how are you enjoying your summer?

currently listening to: wonderful by angel

Friday, 19 July 2013

moroccan lamb stew with ras el hanout

today i want to bring a simple recipe to you. it's the sort of thing we have very often in our home - it's tasty, it's easy, it's healthy and it's inexpensive. literally this is the sort of thing i like to make in a morning, leave in the slow cooker and come back to after work.

i actually have quite a few variations of things i make in our slow cooker - it's such a handy thing for a busy household. i recommend getting one to all our friends (and most of our family already have one!). ours is a beautiful red one by morphy richards which we had from our wedding list. it works perfectly.

trying to think of summery things to do in the slow cooker isn't always simple - i tend to associate stews and soups with the colder months. but there's only so many salads i can eat before i need to have something more substantial and filling. so curries, chillies, moroccan stews, risottos, lentil dals are all perfect when it's warm out, and very very tasty indeed...

it goes perfectly with a side of cooked broccoli, and topped with feta, barberries, dukkah and maybe a drizzle of garlic infused olive oil, if you're feeling very European...

if you don't recognise some of the ingredients here, just go on to Google and do a little search. i've got really into middle eastern ingredients and foods since mum bought me 'jerusalem' by yotam ottolenghi. the flavours are so delicious and new to me, and i can purchase most things at my local international food store... (if not Sainsbury's!)

moroccan lamb stew with ras el hanout
serves 4-5

750ml chicken stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 Tbsp ras el hanout
4 lamb chops
2 onions (white/red), sliced
black pepper
2 celery stalks, chopped into chunks
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
1 aubergine, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup green lentils
1 red pepper, chopped into long slices
dukkah, feta, fresh mint, barberries & spring onion, to serve

1. add the chicken stock, chopped tomatoes, chopped garlic, preserved lemon and ras el hanout in your slow cooker, mix with a wooden spoon and turn it on to max heat.

2. put a frying pan on a high heat and once hot, brown off the lamb chops on both sides. then add these to the slow cooker. saute the onions on a gentle heat in the frying pan, and once soft, add these to the slow cooker also.

4. add the celery, carrots, aubergine, lentils and peppers to the slow cooker, and leave to cook for the day or overnight. taste it after 8 hours and add any more seasoning you require. 

5. serve it sprinkled with barberries, dukkah, fresh mint, chopped spring onion and chunks of feta.

cook's notes:
 - trade in any of the veg for whatever you fancy, but be sure to chop it up in big chunks.
 - great served with homemade flatbread or wholemeal pitta.
 - use good quality stock - i say this all the time, but otherwise you end up with processed, flavoured salt, rather than anything beneficial for you. the Sainsbury's sachets are my favourite (see my borscht recipe!)
 - this only gets better with time, so make it ahead, freeze it or pop it in the fridge for the next day - DEE-licious.
 - Vegan/Vegetarian? you could totally make this without meat, simply leave it out, and add in an extra cup full of lentils.

meanwhile, have you seen how our herbs are growing this year? my city garden isn't doing too bad! so nice to have our own fresh mint on our salad and stews this season...

thanks for reading! hope you're all out enjoying the sunshine.

currently listening to: my songs know what you did in the dark by fall out boy (the new album is awesome! great driving tunes.)