Maybe they are not quite a ‘looker’, but they are super easy to make and super healthy to eat. Enjoy your cake for breakfast and feel good about it.
APPLE, CARROT AND CHIA SEED MUFFINS
(Adapted from Tesco Real Food)
100g apples, coarsely grated
75g carrots, finely grated
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lemon, finely zested
3 tbsp chia seeds
100g light brown sugar
75ml mild olive oil or vegetable oil
120g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 teaspoons brown sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. (However, I have to point out, I never managed to get 12 muffins out of it, only 9 maximum.)
- In a large bowl, mix the grated apple and carrot, cinnamon, lemon zest, chia seeds, sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, oil and eggs, until combined.
- Set aside for 5-10 minutes, or until the chia seeds have expanded a little. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a separate bowl.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the carrot mixture, mix well to form a batter. Divide evenly between the muffin cases, and then scatter over the brown sugar, if using it. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to sit for 5 minutes, before removing the muffins on a wire rack to cool completely.
It is one of the simplest but most comforting soups. There’s no waste with this soup. Use the whole broccoli head, including the stalk, to really make the most of this valuable vegetable. Top it up with crumbled blue cheese or a mature cheddar, or it is just as good on its on with crusty buttered bread.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 potato, diced
approx 1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock
1 big head of broccoli, finely chopped
100g any cheese you prefer, for serving (optional)
- Heat the oil and the butter in a large saucepan and then add the onions. Cook on a medium heat until soft. Add a splash of water if the onions start to catch.
- Add the leek, carrot and potato. Allow to sweat for 5 minutes under the lid.
- Then pour in the stock and add any chunky bits of broccoli stalk. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft.
- Now add the broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Carefully transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Taste for seasoning and serve.
- Serve with any cheese on top or just as it is.
I mentioned before how much I liked the recent Nigella transformation, her new TV show and updated recipes. I even bought the book and already cooked 1/3 of its content and wasn’t disappointed with any of the recipes. No fuss, lovely ingredients, full of new ideas and new takes on classics.
One such recipe is a Stir-fry with double sprouts (Brussel sprouts and bean sprouts), chilli & pineapple. It’s good enough on its own, but even better with some pulled ham hog. I also didn’t have beansprouts this time, which makes my version ‘single sprout’ one.
BRUSSEL SPROUTS, CHILLI, PINEAPPLE AND HAM STIR-FRY
250g Brussel sprouts, trimmed, thinly sliced
3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
3cm fresh ginger, grated
1 fresh chilli, finely chopped
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
150g fresh pineapple, chopped into cubes
250g cooked and cooled brown rice (or any other rice of your choice)
250g cooked pull ham hog (optional)
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
chopped fresh coriander to serve (optional)
- Prep and chop all ingredients beforehand.
- Heat up a wok, add groundnut oil. Add the Brussels sprouts, chilli, ginger and spring onion and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
- Then add the rice and pineapple chunks, stir-fry for 3 minutes or so, before adding the ham hog pieces, season with soy sauce and lime juice. Stir-fry for another minutes or until everything is hot, sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve immediately.
A kedgeree is often thought of as breakfast here in the UK but I prefer mine as a main course. Lots of kedgeree recipes use cold smoked haddock – which is delicious – but I had only smoked salmon on hands, and this substitution didn’t disappointed. It’s a quick dish, it’s easy, it’s filling … but most importantly it’s delicious and good for you.
300g cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
200g frozen peas
225g smoked salmon, cut into chunks or flaked
4 spring onions, finely shredded
bunch of fresh coriander/parsley, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime
- In a frying pan, heat up the oil, butter and add the onion. Fry for 5 minutes, then add the spices and fry for a further 3 minutes.
- Add cooked rice and peas, splash of water (if required), cover with lid and cook for 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the peas are cooked.
- Meanwhile cook the eggs how you like them (I personally prefer soft-boiled or poached).
- When rice is done, mix in the salmon, spring onions, coriander and lime juice. Taste, season it and top with the halves soft-boiled eggs.
Lately I felt a bit under the weather. Our office at work is a hive of stinky cold germs at the moment, with every other person being sick, it’s hard to stay untouched by the seasonal bug. I’m trying to fight it in my own way, hot baths, plenty of liquids (whiskey & Hot Toddy counts too) and also some nourishing soups. This was one of them, super easy to prepare, full of spices and with a kick of ginger.
I used canned green lentil this time, because I needed to eat something quickly. Alternatively you can use a dry lentil of your choice and just cook it longer.
ETHIOPIAN – INSPIRED LENTIL SOUP
(Adapted from The Kitchn)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 green chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped
2-3 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic
2 cans of green/puy lentil
2 stock cubes (veggie or chicken, whatever you prefer)
about 2 litres of water
about 200g baby spinach
juice of one lemon, plus more lemon wedges for serving
- Sauté the onion in a pan until it starts to brown.
- Add all the spices, cook it for 2-3 minutes, then add chilli, ginger and garlic, stir and sauté for a further minute.
- Add the lentil, stock cubes, water, bring up to boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer for further few minutes.
- Then add the spinach and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
- Add lemon juice, check for seasoning and serve with extra lemon wedges, if you like.
This salad combines all my favourite ingredients. It is perfect for this time of year, as the courgettes are at its best at the moment. You can also leave the vegetables to marinate for a couple of hours before serving, but always fry halloumi at the last minute, as it is best served warm.
CARROT, COURGETTE AND HALLOUMI SALAD
(adapted from Waitrose magazine)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 large carrots
50g cashew nuts
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
250g halloumi, cut into 1cm slices
- To make a dressing whisk the oils, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and ginger together in a large bowl. Using a vegetable peeler or a spiraliser, peel ribbons of the courgettes and carrots into the bowl with the dressing, toss it all together, set aside to marinade while you prepare everything else.
- In a large non-stick frying pan toast the cashew nuts for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat until golden, set aside. Next toast the sesame seeds for 2-3 minutes, set aside with the nuts.
- Fry halloumi for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden.
- Lift the vegetables from the dressing and put on a plate. Top with the halloumi and scatter over the nuts and seeds. Serve immediately while the cheese is still warm, spooning over a little extra dressing, if you like.
Here is the one of many versions of the traditional dish from your local Chinese takeaway. Chicken breasts are coated in a light batter, then fried along with any vegetables of your choice, before being served with a tangy lemon sauce. Serve with rice or noodles.
LEMON CHICKEN STIR-FRY
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
2 skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 2 cm pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen sweetcorn
1 yellow pepper, diced or sliced
3-4 spring onions, chopped
sesame oil, for drizzling over (optional)
- In a bowl zest 1 teaspoon lemon zest, juice the lemon and whisk 3-4 tablespoons of the juice with water, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add sliced pepper, cook for another 3 minutes, add sweetcorn, continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.
- Whisk the sauce mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spring onion at the end of cooking and serve with rice or noodles.
Happy Chinese New Year 2016 to everyone who celebrates! Best wishes to all!
Beans are one of the staples of Mexican cuisine and they come in dozens of varieties. The simple recipe of cooking them gently with onion and an aromatic herb is, perhaps, the most common method of preparation for any beans.
BLACK BEAN SOUP (SOPA DE FRIJOL)
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
250 g black beans, soaked overnight
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 white onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
about 100 g cubes of Feta cheese
handful spring onion and parsley, chopped
In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and peppers and cook until tender about 5-8 minutes. Stir in oregano and cumin, toss to coat vegetables. Pour in stock and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the beans are tender and cooked. Puree half of the soup in the blender until smooth and stir back into soup pot. Check for seasoning. Serve hot with garnishes.
Many years ago, I had the privilege to share a house with the most wonderful lady – Vicky, whom I’m honoured to call my friend. She is an incredible baker/cook, that can make a proper feast form a few leftovers. Her quiches, pies and lamb roasts are the stuff of legends, but for me there is another thing which I am very fond of. It is a celery and cashew nut soup! The first time I tried this soup of hers I was completely smitten. I never thought of cooking with celery and to be honest, 15 years ago, I maybe wasn’t very familiar of it either! For me, it wasn’t on my shopping list back then and the same goes for cashew nuts. They were more of a rare treat. However the combination of the two is a surprise match made in heaven, and is both creamy and wonderful.
Vicky would normally cook it based on a vegetarian stock if I remember it right, but I had a really nice chicken stock I made earlier, so I used it.
Mark also hadn’t heard of this soup before either, but now he’s a big fan! 🙂
Thank you, Vicky!
CELERY AND CASHEW NUTS SOUP
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
300g celery, washed and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
50g cashew nuts
1 1/4 pints chicken (or vegetable) stock
3/4 pint milk
salt & pepper
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan.
- Saute the prepared vegetables gently until the onion is transparent.
- Add the cashews and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the milk and allow to cool slightly.
- Tip the soup mix into a blender and purée until smooth.
- Season with the salt and pepper and serve.
This is one of the simplest and fastest Indian dishes you can do with homemade Paneer.
I will often vary the vegetables depending on what’s available and what we are in the mood for.
This recipe is versatile!
STIR-FRY WITH PANEER AND PEPPERS
5 tablespoons clarified butter or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seed, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon paprika
2 medium onions, finely diced or grated
1 fresh green chilli, chopped, with or without seeds
2 large yellow bell pepper, cut into cubes/thin strips
2 courgette, cut in halves
200g cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 tablespoon fenugreek powder (or fresh leaves, if you wish)
250g paneer, cut into cubes
Juice of 1-2 limes, to taste
- In a saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of ghee on medium heat. Add coriander seed and paprika. Stir and cook for thirty seconds.
- Add the onions and green chilli and fry for 5–6 minutes, or until the onions are just softening but not browned and still have a little crunch. Add the peppers, courgette, salt and fenugreek powder, and fry for a further 3–4 minutes.
- Lower the heat, add the paneer to the pan and gently stir everything together for about five minutes, then add the tomatoes and heat through. Stir in the lime juice, check seasoning and serve immediately.