Posts Tagged With: good fats

Avocado and Basil Cheese

Avocado and Basil Cheese

Avocado and Basil Cheese

The idea for this little wonder came from the venerable Paul Gayler, a man who is a top, top chef and also creates magic vegetarian food.  We had his book out of the library ‘Pure Vegetarian’ and it was refreshing to read such inventive vegetarian dishes created by a chef who is not actually vegetarian himself.

I wrote down quite a few of the recipes, but this one stuck in my mind and I’ve been going on about it ever since, ‘Jane we must make that avocado cheese’ was becoming a daily muttering as I opened the fridge.  Finally, I got around to it and it was worth the wait.

Somethings are just meant to go together, and creamy cheese, avocado and lemon is a match made is tasteville.  I added some Basil because we have a profusion (I have no idea where Jane is getting it all from!)

Preparation is simple here and for a vegan alternative, try it with silken tofu or cashew cheese.  If you are not a huge fan of feta (surprisingly some people are not) try ricotta instead.  You’ll be downgrading the flavourful, salty tang of the feta, but the most important thing is that you try this recipe!  In fact, it could be called more of  technique, mashing avocado with different delicious ingredients.  Hmmmmm, this could become a hobby of sorts.

Here it is, in all its glory and simplicity.  Green cheese!

The Bits 

1 avocado (Haas is best), 1 block of good feta 200g (or tofu/ ricotta), 1/2 lemon (juice only), 10 basil leaves (finely shredded)

Avocado cheese in the mix

Avocado cheese in the mix

Do It

Two ways- for a chunkier finish to the cheese, place all ingredients in a bowl and mash together using a masher or a fork.  This is a nice hands on way of getting it together.

Alternatively, for a smoother cheese, pop all ingredients in a blender and whizz up until well mixed and all is green and smooth.

 

If you are using tofu or ricotta, you may need to add a pinch of sea salt to the mix.

Tip – When scraping out the avocado (this is true for most fruit and vegetables) make sure to scrape out the parts closest to the skin, if you can, use the skin.  This is where the highest levels of nutrients are found.

Serve

We had ours simply lathered on celery sticks but I’m eating an oatcake now drowned in this glorious creation and it seems really good on anything.  Use in salads or on pan fried/ steamed vegetables.

Avocado and Basil Cheese

Avocado and Basil Cheese

We Love It!

This will be a regular in our fridge this summer, it will not keep for long with the avocado turning brown quickly, but it wont last long anyway!

Foodie Fact

There are always odd facts and advice about food.  Avocado got a bad name previously for having high fat, but its good fat, natural fat.   These fats regulate your blood sugar levels and boost levels of good cholesterol.  Avos contains all of the amino acids which are absorbed into the body via the high fibre content of avocado.   They are also high in carotenoids which are high in vitamin A (and normally associated with carrots) A is a great vitamin for protecting the body.

Categories: Cheese, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Indo Coco Curry (Raw)

One bright day in June (the bright day in June), our picnic spot, above Beddgelert

So the raw food lifestyle is continuing in the Beach House, this is a good sign.  We have been feeling good and loving experimenting with raw foods, so we are rolling on raw well into July.

Our aim is to eat a lot of raw food, but soon start cooking again.  I cook alot at work, but its not the food that excites me, it seems a strange idea getting the pots and pans out again at home.  The oven, instead of the food processor.  I’m sure it will happen gradually and at the right time.  I still haven’t drank a coffee or any wine, again, it just seems like a strange thing to get back into now.  Those of you who have been on a raw diet will know how I feel.

It has been an atrocious June for weather, we’ve had a fire on most nights and the rain and wind has lashed down on our poor little seedlings.  Even with this wintery weather,  Jane and I have been perfectly happy with salads and cold food.  I think a full raw food diet (ps – when I say diet here, its not like a weight loss diet, just what we are eating) in winter is a possibility, whereas before I would have not considered it.  No hot soups!

One spoonful of this curry and we both exclaimed “This is the best yet!” Which is always a nice thing to hear about something.  This coconut curry has a lovely sweetness, the smooth richness of the creamed coconut and the gentle warming hint of garam masala.

We have not been eating a great deal of spice of late, the raw diet it not overtly anything really (bar amazingly healthy food). This dish added so much needed spice back to our lives.

I think this curry is a real winner this summertime. Raw food is, of course, perfect for a sunny day (which are rare in these parts, but hopefully on their way).  Summer is the ideal time to dabble with raw food and this Coco Curry would make an interesting salad to serve as a side dish at a barbecue or take for a picnic to a beauty spot.  It keeps well and is nice and quick to get together.

If you’re not a raw one, this will go very nicely with something like a cold rice salad.  You can even heat it up!  The flavours will still be amazing.  It can be thinned down for a lovely soup (just add a little stock or water)  and used as it is for a dipping and spreading.

The original inspiration comes from the brilliant British raw food book “Eat Smart, Eat Raw’ by Kate Hill, but I have dabbled with the recipe to bring it more into line with our taste.  That means more spice, more garlic, more ginger……..we like a big and bold flavour in the BHK.

Cauliflower can be used as a substitute for rice in the raw food world.  You just need to chop it up very finely, or stick it in a food processor, and it resembles rice but without the stodge factor.

The serving here is enough for four strapping individuals.  Jane and I saved some for lunch the next day.

The salad base, as you can see, we like ours chunky!

The Bits

Sauce – 1/2 tin of organic coconut milk, 1/2 a big avocado, 4 dates (pitted), 4 tomatoes, 1 carrot, 1 medium onion, 2 tbsp tamari (or soya sauce), 1 tbsp garam masala, 1 tbsp turmeric, 1/2 red chilli, 1 inch cube of ginger, 2 cloves garlic, 150ml water.

Salad/ Filling – 3 tbsp raisins, 2 handfuls of green lentil sprouts, 1/2 handful of chopped coriander (with a little saved for topping), 2 handfuls of spinach, 2 sticks celery (finely chopped), 1 carrots (finely chopped), 1/2 cauliflower (finely chopped), 1 handful of mangetout, 1/2 butternut squash (chopped into little cubes), the rest of your avocado.

The Coco curry pre-mix

Do It

Salad – We use a food processor, because it is so easy.  You lose the individuality of hand chopping, but it saves alot of time, especially when you’re eating raw foods and most of your days could be spent peeling and chopping veggies.  Most of these contraptions have a chopping and grating blade as standard that can come in very handy.  However on this occasion we hand chopped, just to be awkward!

So, put carrots, celery and cauliflower in food processor.  Chop up your butternut squash and avocado into small chunks and mix all of these with the other ingredients in nice big bowl.

Sauce – Chop all vegetables into manageable chunks for your food processor.  Ginger, garlic and chilli should be finely chopped.  Put it all into the food processor and give it a whirl.  Make sure you hold the lid down firmly to begin with, if its a small one like ours, it tends to jump around a little.

Indo Coco Curry (Raw)

Serve

Sprinkle on left over coriander, raisins and grated coconut (dessicated coconut is fine).  We ran out of coriander and forgot the coconut!  It would look grand though, you’ll just have to use your imagination.

We rarely have time for presentation touches as we are such scoffers!  In the bowl, quick pic then get stuck in!  Tends to be the order of eating affairs in the Beach House.

You could try it with some cauliflower rice (see above), it makes for an interesting change.

Foodie Fact

You may have heard that coconut is full of fat, well it is, but they are great fats!  Avocado, nuts, seeds etc do contain a high proportion of fats, but they do not harm your body like the fats in processed foods or donuts!

The fat in coconut does not raise your cholesterol levels like saturated fats in animal products.   It is actually the most health-giving oil available, you can buy coconut oil for cooking.  The make up of the fats is similar to mothers milk, the lauric acid (a fatty acid in mother’s milk) has antibacterial qualities.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Black Olive Tapenade with Beetroot and Red Onion Salad

Beetroot and Red Onion Salad with Black Olive Tapenade

Tapenade is one of those things that we don’t eat enough of.  Everytime we have it, we say the same thing, “Why are we not eating more tapenade!”  It is delicious and is one of those classic summer dishes that reminds me of holidays in Greece and France.

I ate alot of tapenade at break times whilst picking grapes in Beaujolais.  We’d have it spread over warm baguettes, with local cheese and lashings of whatever wine was in the bucket (purely medicinal, it helped to dull the back pain you see).  I believe that the intense satisfaction I got from munching the tapenade pulled me through those back breaking times.  The wine was certainly nothing to get excited about, unfortunately.

This is a wonderful concoction of flavours that I’ve had a little play with (of course) and omitted the use of capers due to a forgetful moment at the shops.  The unique caper-ness has been replaced by the gorgeous sun-dried tomato.  Not a bad substitute!  I have also added raisins to add a little sweetness, the black olives can be a little bitter in these parts, Wales not being high on the olive producing charts.   The rest is fairly classic tapenade, forming a delectable black paste that can be spread or dipped as you choose.  I love this type of food, which is greater than the sum of its bits.

I normally think of Tapenade as being a Greek dish, but it actually hales from Provencal in France.  Traditionally this puree contains caper, anchovies, black olives and olive oil.  The French would normally serve it as an hors d’oeurve or stuff it into a steak.

Tapenade is alot like pesto (see our ‘Hazelnut Pesto‘ post) in that it is a joy to behold sitting in the fridge door.  It just hangs around and marinates, getting better and better.  It goes well in so many things and mixed with some oil, makes for an instant wonder dressing.  The best part is that it has a gourmet flavour with very little needed in way of preparation.

The way you chop up your veg has a major effect on the presentation and texture of a salad.  Have a little think before you begin to chop about what type of effect you’d like to create.

If you spend a little more on good quality olives here, it is well worth it.  The black variety are normally a little cheaper and in their own way, just as good as some of their greener brothers and sisters.

The Bits

Tapenade – 1 cup black olive, 6 sun dried tomatoes, 2 cloves crunched garlic, 1/2 red onion, 1/4 cup raisins, juice of 1 lemon, handful of chopped parsley, sprig of rosemary, pinch of thyme and oregano, glug of olive oil, cracked black pepper and sea salt (to taste), glug of olive oil (if needed)

Salad – 1 nice red onion (thinly sliced), 4 small beetroots (cut into eighth’s), 2 cups of spinach (chopped), 3 carrots (grated), 2 stalks celery (chopped), 1 cupful of sprouts (we used green lentil sprouts)

Black Olive Tapenade in the mix…..

Do It

Tapenade – Add all ingredients to a food processor and begin to whizz.  As it becomes sticky, trickle in some remaining olive oil to create a beautiful, shiny puree.  Keep in a sealed container in the fridge overnight for maximum marination (new word for you there!).

Salad – We put the red onion and carrot into a food processor and grated, then chopped the celery, spinach and beetroot separately.

Serve

Thin out some tapenade by adding the same quantity of good olive oil and whisking well.  You can lower the amount of tapenade if you’d prefer a lighter dressing.  Pour the dressing over the salad and give a good mix in.

Place in your favourite salad bowl and top with a handful of green lentil sprouts (see our ‘sprout‘ post for how to sprout your own, its quite simple).  Then spoon on some tapenade.

We have also used it to flavour soups and stews and of course in post June days we’d have it lathered on some warm oat bread.

We Love It!

This tapenade has a great balance of bitter and sweet, with the beautiful silky texture of pureed olives.

Foodie Fact

Olives are one of the oldest foods known, dating back 7,000 years.  Black Olives are left to ripen for longer on the trees, green ones are picked earlier, they generally have a milder flavour.  Olives are a good source of iron (which helps to carry oxegen in our blood) and are low in calories with plenty of good fats.  They do however contain a decent amount of sodium and should be eaten in moderation if you’re keeping an eye on salt intake.

Twelve black olives provide 1.8mg of iron.  Interestingly women need 18mg of iron per day and men only 8mg.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Dressings, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Raw Apple and Peach Crumble

Raw Apple and Peach Crumble

Jane is out at ukulele club, so I thought I’d whip up a dessert for when she gets back.

This is a sweet thing that I didn’t imagine I’d be eating this month.  Apple Crumble was a winter special in my house, smothered with custard. Custard is also possible on a raw diet, but I thought it was step too far, it required more cashew nuts (plus dates, banana and vanilla extract, I may make it soon).

This is a rich and hearty dessert and the oats provide the crumble with some serious substance, add to that the nuts and you have a hearty topping fit for any fruity base.  The tantalising combinations are almost endless….

Many of these raw food recipes will be staying in our diets and this is one of them, we are both learning new techniques of cooking (or non-cooking) and of course, we are now ace salad makers!  This will be a key skill with the summer allegedly on its way/here.

We soaked our almonds and raisins overnight to make them softer and easier to blend, we then used the juice of the raisins to sweeten the crumble.  Walnuts or pecans would also be a great addition to this crumble.

Below is a picture of the kind of nutters we are!  Our nut selection of nuts and seeds is comprehensive, but essential for our playtime with this new lifestyle.  Jane and I both lost a little weight when we started the diet, but with all these gorgeous desserts filled with nuts and dates, we are filling out again in all the right places.

This recipe is a doddle as most of the measurements are the same, you can use any vessel (or hand) and just keep things consistent.  A great one to just throw together for a quick dessert.

The nut stash

The Bits
Makes enough for eight people (or four hungry folk)
Crumble – 125g almonds, 125g cashews (or walnuts), 125g oat groats (soaked overnight) or rolled oats with a glug of hot water added (if you aren’t a raw-er), 80ml of raisin juice (the soaking water)
Filling – 125g raisins, 1 kg apple, 2 peaches (de-stoned and chopped), 2 teas cinnamon

Crumble in the mix

Do It

Add all of your filling ingredients to a good blender and give it a whizz, we like chunks, leave a few in if you prefer.  Set aside in your serving dish.

Give the blender a quick wipe out and then add all of the ingredients for the crumble.  Blend until it has all come together and is nice and thick.  It should be a little damp, it will set when spread out.

Using a trusty spatula, spread out the crumble onto the fruit filling.  Be gentle here, it can get messy!

This will keep overnight in a fridge, but is best eaten on the day.  It won’t last long!

Serve

We had ours with a little soya yoghurt (greek yoghurt would be amazing also).

We Love It!

These amazing raw dessert recipes are coming thick and fast, I’ve just made some chocolate brownies that are a real knockout.  Whoever said that raw food was be boring!

Foodie Fact

An apple a day keeps the dentist away.  Apples won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing apples stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.

 

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Desserts, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Raw Food, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Apricot, Avocado and Kiwi Smoothie

Apricots

Today’s smooth one came out rather nice. The richness of avocado and the zing of kiwi, with the touch of sweetness from the apricot. A well-balanced cup of goodness.

Jane and I had just taken a long walk down to Trigonos Organic Farm in the nearby Nantlle valley.  It has been an absolutely stunning day in the hills.  We popped down to see Pete and the gang and also managed to pick up some delicious little onions, carrots and potatoes.  Pete grows some really interesting, rare varieties.

Down on the farm, Trigonos (taken in April with snow on the hills)

It is all go down there at this time of year, as it is in our own garden and we are picking up many tips from the wise bunch at Trigonos.  Today we learnt to always water your seedlings at night, especially when sunny.  There seems so many do’s and dont’s when it comes to gardening, I have just been sticking seeds in pots and the earth and hope for a bloom.  We shall see…

Nantlle Valley and a black pony

So smoothies.  We needed something filling, I was shooting off to work , so this is a nice thick one, reminiscent of a milkshake with its creaminess, but without all that fat.  Avocados are excellent for this, creaminess without the cow.  I’m sure all vegans will agree!

Happy blending!

The Bits

Makes enough for two cups:

1 avocado (seeded and scooped out), 4 apricots (de-stoned), 2 kiwis (peeled and quartered), 1 cup of soya milk (or milk of your choice)

Do It

In the blender, blitz for a short time until smooth.

Serve

In the nicest glasses available, will also make a delicious smooth topping for a fruit salad or dessert (ie CAKE!), you may need to add a little something sweet to the mix, maybe honey or dates would be nice.

Foodie Fact 

Avocados are technically berries and are sometimes called alligator pears.  They contain a wide range of vitamins and fat (good fats, they’re full of fibre), which is actually a good thing for raw foodist.  We will be needing alot of avocados in a few days (see raw June)!  Avocados actually help your nutrition absorption by up to 300-400%.

Apricot, Avocado and Kiwi Smoothie

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Desserts, Garden, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Local food, Raw Food, Recipes, Smoothies, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rainbow ‘Slaw and Rosehip Tea

Beets and 'Rots

Today the sky is the deepest of greys, the washing nearly blew away and Jane poured a pint of water all over her computer.  We both held the stricken machine in our hands, then noticed the water pouring out of the side with the plug still in the wall…the penny dropped…we placed it in-front of the fire and thanked our lucky stars for not getting frazzled.

We put on some Vashti Bunyan and started to make lunch……….

Out of this peaceful state came this wonderful combination of vibrant colours and flavours.  The salad is an old friend from past summer days, the beetroot, carrot and orange is a tantalising combination and packed full of good things.  Preparation could not be easier, this is a real raw food delight.  The tea is fairly straightforward also!

From a potential near-death experience, to a rainbow lunch and ‘Rosehip November’ (in April).  Happy days at the Beach House.

The ‘Slaw

The Bits

1 large beetroot, 1 large carrot, 1 large chunk of butternut squash (optional, just increase the carrot by one), juice of half an orange, handful of chopped coriander.

Do It

Grate all veggies, we used a hand grater, or plug-in your food processor.  I appreciated the exercise actually.  I peeled the beetroot and the squash.  Squeeze in the OJ and throw in the greenery.  Add the finely chopped pith of the orange for even more of a citrus POW!  Mix up and leave at room temp for a while, let the flavours mingle a little.

Serve

We made a lunch out of it with some toasted leek oatbread (recipe soon to appear on the blog) and cucumber raita.  This is a versatile ‘slaw that will brighten up any plate.

We spiced it up with a couple of pinches of Ras El- Hanout spice and a splash of olive  oil.  Our raw life starts in June, why not live dangerously for a while!

The Tea 

Clipper Rose hip (and Hibiscus)

It’s a Clipper Tea.  An organically grown infusion, fruity, with a deep colour and plenty of vitamin C.  The good people of Clipper are in all of our supermarkets in the UK and always good value.

They use unbleached bags and have an awesome range.  Their black tea is a winner with a splash of soya milk (and lashings of honey, B.H.K style).  We have also tried the tasty Dandelion and Burdock Tea, which took us back to our childhood days, drinking the fizzy sweet version out of glass bottles in bracken, near streams.

Buy the Rose hip tea here:

http://shop.clipper-teas.com/teas/fruit/organic-rosehip-infusion

And check out the new Clipper Green Room, for offers on the range of teas and loads of top giveaways:

http://www.clippergreenroom.com/

Foodie Fact

Rose hip has been used for years for its health properties, the fruit of the Rose is especially good for the joints.  The Vikings used it on long sea voyages to ward off scurvy, its packed with Vitamin C.  It also contains most of the B vitamins and the mighty vitamin K, with antioxidants and rich fatty acids surely making this a real superfood.

Rosehip November/ April

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Infusions, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Organic, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Tea, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Miso and Tahini Dressing

A punchy little number with a good health kick to it.

This makes for a nice thick dressing with a tangy flavour like no other.  The first time I read the recipe I knew it would be an interesting flavour and it’s turned out to be a real favourite at the B.H.K.

It goes perfectly with roasted root veg and potatoes, maybe with a veggie sausage thrown in.  We have it as a substitute to a classic meat-based gravy, good served hot or cold.

I use brown miso paste but experimenting with different miso would work well also.

Warning!  This can get quite salty so use sparingly and taste before serving, balancing flavours accordingly.  Use more date and lemon to balance the saltiness.

The Bits

1 tbsp Brown Miso Paste, 2 tbsp Soya Sauce, 2 tbsp Tahini, 2 tbsp olive oil, 4 dates, 1 squeeze of lemon juice, 2 tbsp filtered water, 2 tomatoes, 1/2 onion (or leek, a mellow white onion would be best here), 1 clove garlic.

Do It

Put all ingredients into a blender and whizz until a smooth sauce is formed

Serve

As a dip, over a veggie burger or sausage, or as a dressing.  We had it cold mixed into roast vegetables and also as a beetroot and carrot salad dressing.

We Love It!

This dressing has a rich almost alcoholic flavour.  A great substitute to a sherry gravy!   Healthy food that tastes amazing, you can’t beat it!

Foodie Fact

This dressing has some great raw components, packing a real health kick.

Miso is fermented soya beans, which can have grains (ie rice or barley) added for different flavours.  Fermentation is possible due to nifty micro-organisms that have been used in this way in China and Japan for thousands of years.  Food fermented using these micro-organisms are referred to as ‘Koji’.

You may have tried Miso Soup, but Miso has many other uses and is a healthy substitute to salt.

Young Miso is normally white and darkens the longer it matures, which can be years.  The longer the fermentation, the stronger the flavours.  Miso is available in many colours including green and red.

Miso is high in sodium, but does not affect our system the same way as normal salt, having less impact on blood pressure etc.  After tests is Japan, scientists still do not fully understand why this is the case.

Miso is full of antioxidants (like manganese and zinc) and like other soy based foods it contains the super phyto- nutrient antioxidants (phenolic acids).  Miso is also a good source of dietary fibre and protein and benefits the digestive tract.

Mighty Miso

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dressings, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Sauces, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

El Limonar Stew – A Taste of the Spanish Sun

The 'El Limonar'

The ‘El Limonar’ is not an everyday stew.  It reflects the culture and produce of a special little corner of Spain, the Costa Calida.

This dish that would suit any occasion this summertime, especially a special time when you are eating outside in the sunshine with the people who you love, a time when you are planning to open a few bottles of good wine (it is a Spanish stew after all!) and let the world just pass you by.

‘El Limonar’ is the name of the place my parents have in Spain, its near Cartagena, Murcia, for me it is one of the worlds most beautiful and relaxing places.  The lifestyle in Spain is slow, steeped in history, with much fiesta and siesta.  Relaxing is a way of life and food and drink play a major role in everyday life and traditional celebrations.

When I am in Spain, more than anywhere else in the world, I can happily revert to the wise words below:

‘Sólo un idiota puede ser totalmente feliz.’

‘Only an idiot can be totally happy.’

Mario Vargas Llosa

The Mediterranean sun brings life to the dry red earth.   Murcia is the hottest and driest region in Spain, but the local farmers use a lot of new technology and plenty of old world know-how to make the most of the parched land.  The area is covered with lemon, almond and olive trees, many old and gnarled.  A whole host of incredible local produce blooms with stunning flavours.  This stew combines many of these treats, most notably the sweet and smoky local pimenton (paprika).  We use Coato Paprika, an excellent local co-operative (http://www.coato.com/en/about-coato/).  The figs and almonds reflect the Moorish (North African) influence who were here for hundreds of years.  You can hear the sound of North Africa in every flamenco song.

Being a veggie in Spain is tough, we eat at home most of the time, using the produce from the local markets.  Old men and women gather every Sunday in a car park down at  the port and sell their crops.  We have our favourite olive lady, pepper man, spice mama, knife gypsy, Moroccan mint seller etcetc.  There are an array of characters and smiles.  I love to browse a good market.  It is also very cheap, which makes it that touch more satisfying.

The occasion for the ‘El Limonar’ was a visit from Rob and Linda.  They are super foodies who we met in a local cafe.  These shiny people deserved a treat so I put together this deluxe version of one of my tried and tested simmered chickpea recipes.

The technique is to simmer the chickpeas down until only a little stock remains (chickpea stock is delicious, almost beefy!) then begin to add the ingredients.  I find this retains a lot of flavour and gently cooks everything.  This stew did have some added roast vegetables, but it was most definitely a special occasion.

The best way to recreate this is in a colder country is to buy as much organic produce as possible.  Beautifully ripe tomatoes and a good quality Spanish paprika will give this dish a real taste of the Med!

Local Murcian Pimenton from Coato Cooperative, Totana

This is enough for 4 with plenty for lunch the next day (we are bulk cookers at  the B.H.K).

The Bits

5 cups of fat chickpeas (pre-soaked overnight), 1 bay leaf, good veg stock (enough to cover the chickpeas in the pan by 1 inch, maybe 1 litre), one big red onion (all veg chopped into interesting looking chunks), 1 large sweet red pepper, 1 aubergine, 1 courgette, 5 sweet tomatoes, 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, 6 sundried tomatos, 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), 2 tbs Coato paprika, 1 big glass of Spanish red wine (for authenticity), 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 teas of thyme, zest and juice of one large unwaxed lemon, 2 smoked dried peppers (if you can get your hands on them), 1 handful of roasted unsalted almonds (soaked overnight), 1 good handful of chopped dried figs, 1 good handful of pitted green olives (preferably manzanilla), chopped mint, coriander and parsley, s + p, olive oil to start and finish.

Do It

Most of these steps can be done beforehand and kept in the fridge overnight, the flavours will intensify.  Even better, cook everything for a little less time, get the stew together and re-heat it on the day. 

Add your pre-soaked chickpeas and one bay leaf to a pan of good veg stock, it should cover them by 1 inch.  Bring to a gentle boil then simmer until tender, normally 1 hour.   Skim of white froth regularly.  If the stock evaporates too quickly, put a lid on it.  After cooking the chickpeas should be just poking through the stock.

While they are simmering, chargrill in olive oil your large chunks of aubergine (should be well coloured and gooey inside), pepper, onion and courgette in a frying pan or griddle.  Best to do in batches and keep warm in a covered plate.  I chargrill my cherry tomatoes quickly to give them a little colour.

Add the paprika to the chickpeas and stir in well, then the tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and thyme, put the heat up and before it reaches a boil, add the rest of the ingredients except the wine, which you add just before the stew is about to boil.  Season.  Little finesse here, but maximum flavour!

Once the stew has reached a very gentle boil put the heat down to low and leave simmering, covered for one hour letting the flavours infuse nicely.  Check that the sauce has thickened and is not too thin, if so, turn the heat up and cook down.  Do not boil, this kills flavour.

Just before serving, check seasoning, add a glug of olive oil for shine and richness (or a glug of oil from your jar of sun-dried tomatoes as I did), the lemon juice and most of the chopped mint, coriander and parsley, mix gently in.

Serve

I topped it with a splash of olive oil, some of the left over herbs, finely sliced dried fig and a fistful of crushed almonds.

We ate our stew under the stars, over halved roasted butternut squash with brown rice, a spinach salad with a lemon and honey dressing and a cucumber and local spring onion (like wild garlic) yoghurt.  I think Rob and Linda were amazed at how much we eat!  It’s difficult for me to not get carried away with a kitchen full of amazing produce.

Jane having our 'millionare lunch' (which cost 8 euros)

Foodie Fact

Good old Christopher Columbus got his greedy hands on the pepper plant in South America and like everything else he found of value, brought it back to Spain (I’m not a huge fan of the behavior of these old explorer/conquistador types).

Paprika is made by grinding dried peppers, different paprika uses different peppers and can be sweet, smoked or spicy.  Paprika is used extensively in the cooking of Spain and also quite randomly, Hungary.  Good Goulash would be lost without it.  The name ‘Paprika’ actually comes from the Hungarian word for ‘Pepper’.

Paprika has a high sugar content which must be considered when cooking with it.  It burns easily.

By weight, Paprika contains more Vitamin C than lemon juice.

Boozy Bit

I haven’t had the chance to write about wine in a while.  Thank you Spain for giving me the excuse!

This is best with a wine from the south of Spain.  The stew incorporates many of the flavours of this evocative land, therefore the local wines compliment it perfectly.  We went for a young ‘Casa De La Ermita’ Organic Monastrell from Jumilla (a local wine region), with ripe fruits, lovely vanilla scented oak and dark violet colour.  Monastrell is generally a concentrated wine with good structure and this one held its own with this blockbuster stew.

Casa De La Ermita is a wondeful winery and you can buy the wine in the U.K., I think I even saw it in Tescos.  The Crianza is a very stylish example of the quality of wine now produced in Jumilla, formerly a very ‘rustic’ wine growing region.  They also make a great white and an interesting Petit Verdot.

Here’s their site:

http://www.casadelaermita.com/vinos/casadelaermita_tintoecologico.php

'Casa De La Ermita' Crianza, fine wine from Jumilla, Spain.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Organic, Photography, Recipes, Relax, Special Occasion, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wine and Booze | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Midnight Biriyani

We had just got in from a long day travelling back from Spain (via the gnarled maze that is Manchester), the cupboards were bare and our bellies empty. I managed to dig out some potatoes, onion and garlic and whip up this tasty little comfort dish. It is simple enough to get together after a long journey, or night out and really hits the spot.
Biriyani is a staple in Northern India and its quality and complexity varies greatly. This is a simple attempt based on getting it hot and into your belly with minimum fuss. It reminds me of the Biriyanis served in Indian train stations, ladled out of giant metal pans on a dried palm leaf.  They were always a blessing after many hours rocking around in a grotty train carriage.
Good ghee will make all the difference to this dish, it adds  and shine. We are using ‘Pukka Organic Ghee’, which has a lovely dark colour and deep flavour.  In fact, one teaspoon of this ghee matches the richness of three teaspoons of my homemade ghee, meaning less fat in the dish.

Pukka Organic Ghee

Pukka Ghee

http://www.pukkaherbs.com/ghee.html

This recipe fed two very hungry travellers, with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

The Bits
4 small potatoes, 2 red onions, 4 cloves garlic, 2 heaped teas chopped ginger, 2 heaped teas good curry powder (or your prefered mix), 1/3 teas of powdered cinnamon, 2 good-sized tomatoes (chopped), 1 clove, 2 cardamom pods, 1 teas carraway seeds (optional), a handful of raisins, a handful of cashews (if your feeling decadent!), 2 cups of rice (white is traditional, brown is better for the body), 1 tin of drained chickpeas, 2 teas Pukka Ghee, s+p.  Jane is not a fan of chilli, but I would add one.

Do It

Heat a large non-stick saucepan with a dash of oil and the ghee on a moderate heat.  Chop potatoes into chunks, add to pan, chop onions finely, add, chop garlic finely, add, then the ginger and cashews, fry for a couple of minutes.  Season.  When the potatoes have taken a little colour and the onions softened, add your spice, clove and cardamom, heat through, stirring regularly.  Add your tomatoes and raisins, then the rice.  Stir well for a minute, all should be shiny.  Add enough water to cover all by 1/2 inch and bring to a gentle boil.  Cover well and turn to your lowest heat setting.  Leave for 45 minutes, without lifting the lid (very important), the trapped steam is doing all the cooking and must be trusted!  When the rice is cooked, fluff up with a fork, adding the chickpeas, then leave for a few minutes to let them warm through.

Serve
Initially we had it straight from the pan, with spoons, nice and warm.

We have had this dish since with a basic 4 egg omelette, chopped up and mixed in or if you really want to push the boat out, mix in lemon juice, yoghurt and chopped coriander and mint leaves, adding another handful of cashew nuts.

We Love It!

Biryani is a real taste sensation!  All those spices with sweet onion and raisin and the richness of ghee and cashew.  This recipes is super versatile and can be added to, making it a real show stopper of a dish or simplified to make it real quick and satisfying.

Foodie Fact

Ghee is much more than just clarified butter, it is used in many religious Hindu ceremonies and is truly the stuff of legend!  Many myths extol the virtues of this golden butter.  It is used widely in the ancient systems of Ayurveda.

Ghee burns at high temperature and the flavour will intensify the longer it is heated.  It contains hydrogenated fats, making it healthier than normal butter and it also contains no lactose, making it suitable for those who are lactose intolerant.

Ghee will stimulate stomach acids and will help to soften your skin and brighten your eyes.  It contains anti-viral acids and may have medicinal qualities, but these are still unconfirmed.

It is basically like butter, but better!

Shimla Toy Train

Categories: Ayurveda, B.H.K Reviews, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Gluten-free, Lunch, Nutrition, Photography, Recipes, Travel, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Butter Bean and Celeriac Hummus

I loveto make hummus and pastes.  They are so rewarding in their creaminess and intense flavours.  Hummus is normally full of salt and saturated fat if you buy it at the shops, best homemade.  This hummus is rich, but nice and low in oil.

Just using a blender (I’m quite old-fashioned so this is a relatively new thing) is a real treat.  So quick and clean.  Although we do miss out on the old muscle-building mash-up.

Butter beans (or Lima Beans) are a real gift, when puree’d they are so creamy and have a lovely subtle flavour.  Adding certain beans to stews and soup, can add creaminess, without using dairy.

Jane recently went to Panama and I asked for some beans.  We now have a fine stash of the tasty legumes in the cupboard, some of the varities I’ve never even seen before.  I’m looking forward to some experimenting.

But why call it hummus?  Its one of those things, it’s not technically a hummus, but paste sounds so bland.  Dip doesn’t really do it justice either.  I’m sticking with hummus, it’s a great word and more will follow…

I thought that the light, sweet celeriac and a hint of lemon would make a cracking hummus.  Spread on warm oat bread (see Beetroot Oat Bread recipe) it was a real hit.

I used Halen Mon Celery salt (http://www.halenmon.com/) here and it added to the flavour.  It’s local salt and excellent quality.  I’ll be writing more about it in the future.

This recipe will make a nice big bowl full of whipped up beans.

The Bits

2 cups of cooked butter beans (or two tins, dried beans are always better and cheaper), 1 1/2 cup of cooked celeriac (chopped), 1/4 cup of good olive oil, zest of 1 lemon (chopped), 2 tbs fresh thyme, s+p.

Do It

Soak beans overnight, cover with water (1cm above) and bring to the boil, add two bay leaves then cover and cook for 45 minutes, until tender.  Allow to cool a little.  (It’s good to make hummus and dips when the ingredients are still warm, it helps the flavours blend).  Drain the beans and keep around 1/2 cup of the cooking juice, save the rest for soups or stews.  Bean juice packs loads of flavour (top tip!).

Heat a pan, add some oil and gently fry off the chopped celeriac, until slightly coloured and soft.

Add all to a blender, including the reserved bean juice.  If you don’t have a blender, roll your sleeves up now!  Blend until creamy.  Check the seasoning and lemon levels, the lemon flavour will fade a little with time and the hummus will dry slightly in the fridge, so make it slightly too runny.  However you like it!

Serve

This hummus will add richness to stews and soups and can be used in all the other ways of the hummus.  I normally add a splash of olive oil to get it going again, try not to eat it straight out of the fridge.  Let it warm up a little first, get the flavours going.  Grab a carrot or some warm bread, add to a glorious sandwich.  Relax.  Enjoy.

We Love It

Butter beans are one of our favourites.  Especially when Panamaian.  This hummus is so creamy and should have a nice hint of thyme and lemon.  It’s rich, without gallons of oil and the celeriac makes a great mash and adds its unique flavour to the mix.

Foodie Fact

Butter beans, like all legumes are high in fibre, which helps the digestive system, stabilises blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol.  They are also a great source of fat-free, quality proteins.

Butter beans contain almost all of your daily ‘Molybdenum’ needs, an enzyme that neutralises sulphites.  With more sulphites being added to our foods (especially deli salads, bagged supermarket salad) more people are becoming sensitive to it.  Eating these beans will help to sort that out.

Panamanian Beans

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Omega Seed Sprinkles

Or what my Dad calls ‘bird food’.

Not really a recipe, but a necessity for our kitchen and definitely a Beach House Favourite.  These sprinkles will crunch up any salad, yoghurt, cereal, bread, etcetcetc there are so many uses for these wonder seeds.  I normally nibble them, sparrow-like, throughout the day.  They are a lot cheaper than nuts and have bags of energy, nutrients and omega oils.

Seeds are one of those things that, if eaten regularly, are best bought in bulk.  The small packs you are likely to find are normally quite costly.  Have a look online, you can get bulk bags of seeds, rice, pulses etc and the delivery is normally free (if it’s over a certain amount).  Order for a month.

It saves so much time and resources, when you consider the driving to the shops and time wasted standing aimlessly pondering a desirability/cost = happiness equation for a packet of Moroccan spices.  I do this.

I struggle with British supermarkets on many levels, but the myriad choices of everything is incredible.  I go into a cold sweat as I approach the muesli section!  We are such a refined consumer society.  I can tell you, it’s very different in Spain!  No muesli for a start.

If I ever have the distinct displeasure of visiting a hyper-market environment, I go into some sort of consumer trance.  Like a zombie, occasionally grabbing a shiny product.  I do like wine sections though.  It’s like travelling, in bottles.

These sprinkles will work with most seeds and if you feel like nuts, stick a few in.  The linseeds and flax seeds don’t add a huge amount of flavour, but are very, very good for you.  They are all toasted together to give a richer flavour and add a bit of crunch.

You can blend these seeds up, add a dash of water and make a brilliant seed butter (this is a real winner).

You will need a frying pan full of seeds, just enough to cover the bottom.

The Bits

Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds and flax seeds

Do It

Heat the frying pan on a medium to low heat, add the sunflower and pumpkin seeds first (or larger seeds/nuts).  Heat and toss for around ten minutes, keep them moving, don’t hurry them.   Then add the flax and linseeds and heat for another couple of minutes.  They may pop a little and will darken in colour.  The key is not to burn them, if they are getting too hot and dark, tip them onto a large plate and spread them out to cool.

Cool fully and keep in a jar.

We Love It

They go on anything and are a great, nutritious snack on their own.

Foodie Fact

These little gems are packed with super omega oils and energy.  Russia is the leading producer of sunflower seeds globally.  One sunflower head contains hundreds of seeds.  They are full of energy in the form of poly unsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats which can lower cholesterol.  They have one of the highest levels of complex vitamin B group and vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant)…….These little beauties are will keep you shining.  Put them on everything!!!!

Categories: Budget, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Salads, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rhubarb and Custard Cake (Vegan)

One for now, one for later

I loved the cartoon, ‘Roobarb and Custard’, when I was a little nipper.  The very irritating soundtrack was like cartoon punk rock to my innocent ears.

This is not everybody’s idea of a cake, it’s not very sweet or rich.  But it is chewy and tasty, for those who want to ‘have their cake and eat it’ (from a health and nutrition point of view).

Mum used to make us rhubarb crumble using the wild rhubarb growing in and around our garden.  I must admit, I got a bit sick of it as a child, but now, I love the stuff.   Why is it now so expensive to buy?  I shall look into this.

Have you heard of the ‘rhubarb triangle’ Brits?  It’s in 9 sq mile triangle in West Yorkshire ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhubarb_Triangle), the heartland of all things rhubarb on our fair isle.  I think rhubarb season is up there in importance with asparagus season!

This is another vegan cake and can be easily made gluten-free, by swapping oats for flour (expect a nice chewy slab and less rising!).  Its super simple and once you know the method, the ingredients can be chopped and changed, with different combos of fruits (or vegetables), nuts, seeds, dried fruits etc.

The method is the same as ‘Abigail’s Pumpkin Cake’ from before, but this one has the lovely combo of bitter rhubarb and sweet banana.  Only when you give up sugar for a while, do you realise just how sweet a banana is.  If you normally eat sweet cakes, maybe add a few tablespoons of honey to the mix.

The cake is quite dense and moist and is a real find.  You can eat loads of it and feel great afterwards!  There are no hidden baddies here!  Its filled only with nutrition.

This amount will make one round cake and a loaf (we have a busy week of cake eating ahead).  Half the quantities if you would like just one decent sized cake.

We couldn’t get fresh rhubarb, so we used a can.  I would stew the rhubarb until soft, if using fresh.

These cakes are simple and wholesome, some would say, just like me!  It should be nice and crisp and brown on the outside and gooey in the middle.

The Bits

3 bananas (chopped), 3 stems of rhubard (chopped or one can, drained), 1/2 cup of coconut cream, 6 dates (pitted and chopped), 2 tbs flax seeds, 3 tbs roasted sunflower seeds, 2 teas vanilla extract (a nice one), 2 cups wholegrain flour, 1 cup of oats, 1 tbs tahini, 1 teas bicarb of soda, 1 teas baking powder, 1/2 teas cinnamon, 1/2 teas all spice, 1 cup soya milk.  Keep 1/2 banana and some sunflower seeds for the topping.

Do It

Heat oven to 180 0C.

In a small bowl mix the bicarb and b.p. together to make a paste, no lumps.

Add 2 bananas, 2 stems of rhubard (2/3 of the can), coco milk, almond extract, half the dates, tahini, bicarb paste, spices and soya milk to a blender.  Blend smooth.

In a large bowl add the rest of the ingredients (including the rest of the chopped fruit, these will form nice moist chunks in the cake), then the wet ingredients and stir until a sticky batter is formed.  If it’s too runny add more flour, too dry, soya milk.

Oil two baking trays, I used a loaf tin and a shallow round tin (like a quiche tin).  Make sure you oil the base and sides well.  Spoon in the mix and spread to the corners.  About 1 1/2 inch of mix (or a little more) is good, it will rise around double.  Decorate the tops of your cakes with some creatively sliced banana and sunflower seeds.  Press banana into cake to ensure it doesn’t overcook.

Cook for 45 minutes, checking after 30 mins.

When testing the cake, it has oats in, so it will be stickier than a pure flour cake.  If a pointed knife comes out just a little sticky, its ready.  Turn out of trays (gently does it) and cool on wire racks.

Serve

Custard might be a good idea!  We had it with a little greek yoghurt and some plum compote.  If you stick it in the microwave for a minute, it gets better.  Jane has even spread some butter on a hot slice, which I hear was rather pleasant.

We Love It

Unlike most cakes, there are no hidden baddies here, only hidden goodies.  The rhubarb and banana go really well together.

Foodie Fact

The redder the rhubarb the more Vitamin A, benefitting your skin, eyes and, the less than appetisingly named, mucus membranes.  It is also rich in complex B Vitamins and the rarely mentioned Vitamin K, which is nice to your brain and bones.

Stack 'em up

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, Gluten-free, Healthy Eating, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Abigail’s Apple and Pumpkin Vegan Loaf

The heavyweight cake

This is cake in loaf shape.

If you’re looking for something that goes well with a cup of tea, tastes amazing and does your body some good, this fruity loaf’s for you.

I took this recipe from Abigail’s blog http://tofuandflowers.blogspot.com/ which has a lot better pictures than mine and importantly, the loaf seemed to have turned out well.  Although I did change and add to the original.  As you can see, my didn’t rise particularly well, I put it down to not having baking powder!  Otherwise, this is a very simple cake recipe and very tasty.

This loaf really packs a punch!  It’s a heavyweight and really feels like ‘food’, not just a dessert.  Its packed full of fruit and nutrition, no dairy and only has a little added sweetness.

I used honey instead of agave, which I prefer.

With this amount of mixture, I made one big loaf and six small muffins, although Abigail seemed to have fed the five thousand!!!

The Bits

Dry Ingredients: 1 c. oatmeal (plus more to sprinkle on top), 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1/2 c. white flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2  tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. chopped apple (about 1/3 of a large apple; use the rest with the wet ingredients), 1 c. chopped walnuts (or hazelnuts)
Wet Ingredients: 1 1/2 c. roasted pumpkin, 1 banana, 1 1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger, 1 c. chopped apple (about 2/3 of a large apple, what you have left over from the wet ingredients), 1/2 c. agave (or 2 tbs honey), 3/4 c. coconut milk (half of a can), 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.

Do It

Get your pumpkin nicely soft and coloured in a pan and set aside, then:

1. Preheat oven to 200oC. Oil and flour a large loaf tin and muffin tray.
2. In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients except the nuts and 1/2 c. chopped apple.
3. In a blender, blend together all wet ingredients (including the 1 c. chopped apple).
4. Mix the pumpkin into the dry ingredients. Once almost completely combined, add the chopped walnuts and apples. Mix up with a nice wooden spoon.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pan and muffin tray. Sprinkle oatmeal on top of the batter and press the oats into the batter a little.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  The loaf will take longer than the muffins.
7. Remove from oven, and cover loaves (still inside their pans) tightly with foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove foil, and turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Serve

With a dollop of creamy yoghurt.

We Love It

This is a lovely moist spiced nibble at this time of year.  Its pretty much guilt free (if you get guilty about eating food) and is almost a meal in itself.

Foodie Fact

Cinnamon, originally from Sri Lanka, is a wonder bark.  It  has the highest levels of anti-oxidant strength of all foods.  Cinnamon is also anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, rich in minerals and is proven to be soothing.  In Ayurveda, Cinnamon is used to treat diabetes, colds and indigestion.

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sweet Cashew Nut Butter

This is another Mum special.

I love nut butter.  It’s a delicious and easy.  Dairy free and as good as cream or butter, but much, much healthier. You can follow this recipes with peanuts and almonds.  Any other nuts?  Probably (let us know).

Organic cashews are already nice and sweet, you may exclude the honey unless you are a real sweetie.

The Bits

1 cup of cashews, 1/2 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of honey

Do It

Blend all ingredients until smooth.  Store in a sealable container, will keep nicely for a week.

Serve

Spread on toast, added to cereal or even added to tea!  I like to use nut butters to add a little extra to sauces, roasted veggies or soups.

We Love It

Any recipe with three ingredients (one being water) is fine by me.  Its a great little tub to have in the fridge, adding a bit of richness and luxury to vegan foods.

Foodie Fact

Cashews are rich in healthy monounsaturate fats, that help to keep the heart and blood vessels healthy.  They are also rich in energy, antioxidants, minerals (zinc, copper, selenium) and vitamins (vitamin B-5 and 6, riboflavin, thiamine).  They are high in calories and health promoting phyto-chemicals.

Cashews are surprisingly from the same family as the mango.  When eating nuts, I often think how precious they are.  One whole fruit from the cashew tree only produces a single nut.

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Raw Food, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pumpkin and Almond Tagine

Tagine Market

I love Morocco, the sleepy mountain villages and endless desert sands.  I always made time for the local spice markets, checking out the intoxicating mix of aroma and colour.  I shipped many bags of the stuff back to Spain, running the gauntlet of some very suspicious customs officers and barking Alsatians.  Apparently my bag smelled like a vagrant (must have been the intense cumin?!)

The variety and freshness of these spices make a tagine.  It’s a bit like Guinness and Ireland, something is lost when eaten anywhere outside of its Motherland.

Add fistfuls of dried fruits, olives and ras el hanout and you have a perfect expression of Morocco’s incredible produce.  This is one of those evocative dishes that can sum up the spirit and atmosphere of a diverse country, on one platter, better than a lengthy commentary or travel article.  It’s basically Morocco on a plate.

Having said all of this, due to financial constraints (being a skint traveller), I rarely ate in decent restaurants during my stay there and have had better Moroccan food in London than Marrakech!  My Moroccan diet mainly consisted of triangles of manufactured cheese, handfuls of figs and the ubiquitous flat bread.

However, I was lucky to meet some truly amazing and hospitable folk, who invited me into their homes (the finest place to sample true culture and food worldwide).  I especially remember a chap named Khalid, staying in his family home in Taroundant made me understand the importance and pride attached to the traditional of the tagine.

I met Khalid in a spice market and immediately realised he was the kindest of sorts.  He showed me around the old city for days, but one afternoon he took me, with a big gang of friends and family, to an oasis where we sat under a fig tree and shared a delicious lunch.  We ate straight from the dish, with hunks of bread and greedy hands.  It contained a few spices, vegetables and a whole lot of care and pride.  It was not a tagine strictly speaking, we cooked it in a heavy pan with a good lid, as we do in the B.H.K (we’re tagine-less, hence the generic tagine pot picture), but it’s almost as good.  Only the name changes, its called a ‘Gimb…….’ something or other.  The results are very similar, but you just lose some of the mystique and authenticity.

Tagine is named after the earthenware dish used in the cooking.  The dish is normally cooked slowly and captures all the condensation, making the dish moist.  It’s an easy and healthy way to cook vegetables.

This recipes is slightly more complex than Khalids, and not completely traditional.  It’s another one of my Mum’s favs.  We are lucky here that we have a wonderful organic farm, just over the way, that grows brilliant pumpkins.  Good pumpkin is as important, as the spices.  Use fresh spices and keep all opened spices in a cool place in a tightly sealed container.  Being tagines-less at the moment we opt for a thick bottomed pan or a casserole pot:

Makes one big tagine or pan full, enough for four.  Like all stews, it is better left a while in the fridge to infuse and serve the next day.

The Bits 

Handful of dried apricots (chopped into large chunks), juice of one lemon (add rind finely chopped for more zing), 1 inch root ginger (chopped), 2 tbs tomato puree, 3 cloves garlic (chopped), 2 tsps smoked paprika, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 2 cardoman pods (split or bashed), 2 tsps ground cinnamon, 1 small pumpkin (chopped and roasted, skin on), 1 carrot (chopped into chunks and roasted), 1 tin chickpeas (drained), 5 tomato’s skinned and chopped (or a good tin of chopped tomatoes), 1 tbs honey, handful of fresh coriander (chopped), 2 red peppers (roasted and chopped), salt and pepper, handful of unpeeled roasted almonds.
(If we could get hold of some ras el hanout, we may substitute that for all the spices except paprika.  A handful of pitted olives can add an extra tang to the dish.  Especially good when feeding carnivores for a bigger flavour.)
Do It
Start by frying off you pumpkin chunks, carrot and pepper in a pan with olive oil.  Cook quickly, until coloured nicely, then set aside in a covered dish.
Heat the olive oil in a casserole and stir in the lemon juice, tomato puree with the spices.  Season with s/p.
Add chopped tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots and peppers, cover the dish.
Cook over a very gentle heat, stirring occasionally for about 20-30 mins.
Stir in the almonds, apricots, ginger and garlic and cook for another 15 mins.
When the pumpkin is good and soft, add the chick peas giving a good mix.
Cover and cook about 15 mins until everything is tender, then stir in the honey.
The tagine should be checked regularly and water topped up if required.
Serve
With an extra splash of olive oil, the chopped coriander and a generous dollop of creamy yoghurt and a scattering of almonds and seeds.  Accompanied traditionally by a nice warm flat bread or cous cous.  We made it gluten-free and opted for some quinoa.  ‘As you wish, you are free’ as many of my Moroccan friends would say.
We Love It
Moroccans make some of the finest stews, they are so blessed with amazing local ingredients.  As I said, this is really Morocco on a platter and that makes it a glorious thing.  It’s the perfect winter stew, bursting with spice, flavour and bright colours.
Foodie Fact
Pumpkin, and most very orange veggies, are packed with the important anti-oxidant beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into Vitamin A.  It’s also a good source of fibre, Vitamin C, K and E and loads of different minerals.   Even its seeds are packed with goodness, especially omega 3 fatty acids.
The big orange beauty is a member of the cururbitaceae family, making it a relative of the cucumber and can grow to be 25 kgs in weight.

The Djem El Fna, the mad Market Square in Marrakech

Categories: Dairy/ Lactose Free, Dinner, Gluten-free, Lunch, Photography, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ensalada de Kami – Coconut and Peanut Salad

Ensalade de Kami

This salad will shine all over the mid January slump.  Peanuts for energy and coconuts to remind you that Pina Coladas do still exist.

It comes straight from Panamanian jungle, via Jane’s lovely friend Kami.  Jane popped over to see Kami for a couple of weeks recently and came back all shiny and radiant, all down to Kami’s raw food and salads.

The fruits aren’t quite as good as Panama in North Wales, but we have continued the trend and I must say that a day started with this salad is a brighter place to be!

Lovely and crunchy, an interesting mix of veggies and fruit, with a smooth peanut and coconut sauce, its tastes amazing and will get your system buzzing first thing.

This is a versatile little number, you can also use it as a conventional salad for lunch or dinner.  We make a job lot in the morning and it keeps us going until late,  sometimes making two days dressing in advance (saves on washing up!).

This is most definitely a Beach House favourite.

Makes two big bowls.

The Bits

We tend to use what we have fruit and veg wise, it can change daily, but here’s an idea.

1 orange, 1 apples, 1 pear, 2 large carrots, 1 stick of celery, chunk of cucumber, bit of exotic fruit as a treat(we used a bit of pineapple today, or papaya, mango etc..) all diced into pleasant shapes of your liking.

For the sauce – 3 tbsp coconut milk, 2 tbsp organic peanut butter, 1 orange, pith off and chopped, 1 apple, 1 large carrot, both chopped, dash of water (to get it going)

Treat version – Sometimes some chopped walnuts, or finely diced dates (not too many).

Do It

Easy as pie…….

Chop up the fruit and veg.

Add all the sauce bits to a blender and pulse up, leave it a little chunky if you like.

Pour over salad and mix in.

Serve

We put it into our finest big bowl and enjoy looking at it all day.  I sometimes add a little muesli and yoghurt, or roasted sunflower seeds add even more crunch and energy.

Makes a great side dish to a slightly exotic main course, Thai or Indian food for example.

We Love It

The odd sweet burst of a date and the all over fresh crunchiness and vitality.

Foodie Fact

We stay clear of bananas with this one, sugary fruit and acidic fruit ferments in your belly, which is bad for people with sensitive stomachs.

In Ayurveda, fruit is meant to be eaten before a meal, never after or with, as it putrifies (nice word) in the stomach.  Sugary fruits also react with cereals, but sometimes, I live dangerously!

Thanks Kami

Categories: Breakfast, Gluten-free, Lunch, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Snacks and Inbetweens, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Super Spinach Smoothie

A shot of pure green goodness

This smoothie will kick any day off with a natural sugar hit and good dosing of iron to wake you up and feed your sleepy body.  Sweet and smooth with an iron fix.

It is so simple and quick to make and is Janes favourite morning booster.  You won’t be craving biscuits for elevensies either, the banana will see you through!

The Bits

1 1/2 bananas per person (ideally, I have two because I’m like a sloth in the morning)

2 tbsp coconut milk

One good handful of spinach

A splash of water (to get it all blended nicely)

Need balast?  Add a handful of oats.

Do it

Stick it all in your blender and whizz until smooth.

Serve

Jane eats it from a bowl with a spoon, topped with some finely sliced veggies, celery is nice.  I glug from a glass, which is scrapped out after with a spoon.

We Love It

Its so easy and nutritious and its very green!

Foodie Fact

Spinach is famous as a good source of iron, but surprisingly not as good as much as most beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.  Even a dried apricot has more iron!.

Bananas are packed with natural fruit sugar (frustose), the highest of any fruit by a jungle mile.  This is still relatively low compared to most maufactured sweet foods.  They are great for the digestive system, with lots of fibre and also rich in Vitamin C and Potassium.

Categories: Breakfast, Dairy/ Lactose Free, Gluten-free, Raw Food, Recipes, Smoothies, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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