Raspberry & Rose Financiers

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Financiers are just gorgeous! They can be dressed up for an occasion or paired with fruit to match the mood of the season. I recently made these for a 60th birthday party as dessert trinkets/bites along with the grand birthday cake. They would also be perfect for a high tea on a summery day. They really are a special wee treat when you’re looking for something a bit fancy but not over-the-top. And the amount of work required is really quite small when you think about just how good they look and taste!

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Financiers are almost a little bit magical for me. The moist and buttery centre is offset by the tangy freshness of the raspberries just dotted through the mix. And the nutty golden crust is indescribably amazing, especially when straight out the oven.

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This recipe is high in fat and sugar however I like to keep in mind the fact that they are just a wee treat, enjoyed as part of a special occasion and definitely not eaten all in one go!

These keep very well, staying moist for up to 5-6 days when stored in an airtight container…. But by then I’m sure they’ll be long gone!

RECIPE:
makes 10 small muffin sized cakes/financiers

250g butter, melted until milk solids are golden brown (beurre noisette)

375g sugar

10 egg whites

45g flour

250g ground almonds

2 tsp rosewater

100g fresh or frozen raspberries (about 30 individual berries)

To garnish: 50g cream cheese, poached or fresh fruit (I used poached quince pieces (see in recipes), blueberries and fresh flowers)

Method: 

  1. Begin by lining 10 mini muffin moulds or small financier/friand moulds. Spray with a cooking oil spray or brush with butter and then dust with almond meal to create a really nice non stick coating.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius, bake setting.
  3. Combine the sugar, egg white, flour, ground almonds & rosewater in a large bowl.
  4. Add the melted butter, slowly ensuring it is well mixed.
  5. Put the mixture into a container or piping bag and refrigerate until it becomes a bit more solidified. You can miss this step out however it is handy to know that you can keep the mix in the fridge until you need to bake it, and it does make it easier and is nice and tidy when you fill the moulds with a chilled mixture
  6. Fill the moulds 3/4 of the way and push 3 frozen raspberries into the centre of each mould. (Try to avoid letting the berries touch the side of the moulds as this can cause the cakes to stick to the sides, tearing when it comes to removing them).
  7. Once you have filled your moulds, place in the centre of the oven and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. If you are baking on fan bake, they may take slightly less time to bake.
  8. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before garnishing with cream cheese and fruit. Dust with a little icing sugar.
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Creamy Cauliflower soup with toasted sesame, rosemary & buckwheat crumble

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I’m not usually a fan of cauliflower. I don’t hate it, but I just don’t love it. I’ve been trying out a few recipes with cauliflower lately because it is so darn cheap and always easy to find. I recently tried some cauliflower rice (a raw cooking substitute often used in salads or raw sushi) but it didnt really grab me… which has led me to the conclusion that the accompanying flavours need to be paired extremely well with cauliflower; not overpowering, but simply allowing it to shine….

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Today I really wanted to make the most of the gentle flavour from the cauliflower; I cooked it slowly in vegetable stock and milk with a little leek and garlic, then at the end pureed it with creme fraiche. To pack in a little punch I created a toasted crumb for the topping. The buckwheat, sesame & rosemary give an intense nutty flavour which only comes through in the bite after devouring a silky spoonful of the soup. The result is a dazzling combination; a delcious buttery texture for the palate and a lovely fragrant aroma which fills the house.

Recipe:

(makes 4 serves)

For the soup:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 leek, white part only, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1/2 white onion, diced

1/2 head of cauliflower, washed & roughly chopped, leaves removed

1 bayleaf

300ml strong vegetable stock

300ml milk (full cream, or skimmed, whatever you prefer for your waistline)

3 white pepper corns

100 g creme fraiche

salt and pepper to season

For the crumb:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 red onion, very finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 Tbsp sesame seeds

3 Tbsp buckwheat groats

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

To serve:

Olive oil & fresh rosemary leaves, warm turkish bread or ciabatta

Method:

  1. Begin by making the soup: heat the olive oil in a soup pot and gently fry the leek, garlic & onions until soft and translucent.

  2. Add the chopped cauliflower, bayleaf, vegetable stock, milk and peppercorns.

  3. Bring to the boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Place a lid on top and cook gently until the cauliflower is completely soft.

  4. Remove from the heat and add the creme fraiche.

  5. Blend using a stick blender or food processor until smooth and silky.

  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the crumb:

  1. Prepare while the soup is cooking.

  2. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat.

  3. Add the onion, rosemary and garlic and cook until translucent.

  4. Add the sesame seeds and buckwheat groats and continue to cook until the onion turns crispy and the seeds turn golden brown.

  5. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place in warm soup bowls, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle crumb and rosemary leaves on top.

Enjoy!

Fresh Salmon, Samphire, Dill & Basmati salad with grilled lemon

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Crispy skinned salmon fillets, salty samphire, fragrant dill rice & tangy rocket leaves. Feeling summery!

This salad is perfect for when you’re in a light summery mood and craving some lovely fresh fish. Its really a throw together; the individual flavours do the talking and you can easily adapt it to be low in FODMAPs.

Its been a while in-between posts so I apologise for that! I’ve really just been eating my way around London while I’m locuming as a Cancer Dietitian in Essex. Living in hospital accommodation really limits my cooking opportunities when you’re sharing a kitchen with 8 others! But on the up side, I’ve learnt to cook some amazing Indian dishes.

Samphire or sea asparagus is really gaining momentum on a lot of restaurant menus, and rightly so… because it is delicious! I’ve paired it with seafood which is a typical combination, it has a nice salty flavour and a tender texture. In this recipe I’ve lightly steamed it on top of the rice to preserve its bright green colour.

Basmati rice has a nice and low GI and cooking it in a pilaf style ensures it is nice and loose whilst being flavoursome. If you are following a low FODMAP diet, cut the onion in half only and put the garlic cloves into the rice mixture whole. Continue to cook as per the instructions but remove the onion and garlic before serving.

Picnic time! Salmon, Samphire & Basmati salad

Picnic time! Salmon, Samphire & Basmati salad

Recipe (serves 4):

4 small fresh salmon fillets (about 400g total)

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 Tbsp oil

1 Cup basmati rice

4 handfuls chopped fresh dill leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Cups hot water

4 Handfuls fresh samphire (approx 50-100g will be plenty)

200g rocket leaves

1 avocado

1 telegraph cucumber, seeds removed and sliced diagonally (5mm thickness)

2 baby gem lettuces

2 lemons, cut in half

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Method:

  1. Begin by preparing the basmati rice. In a large pot, fry the onion and garlic in 1 Tablespoon of the oil over a low heat until translucent. Add the basmati rice and stir over the heat for 1 minute. Add 2 of the handfuls of roughly chopped dill leaves and 1/4 tsp salt.
  2. Add the hot water, stir gently and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Allow to cook gently for about 10 minutes before lifting the lid.
  3. Stir again gently and place the samphire on the top of the rice. Cover again and continue to cook for another 2-4 minutes until the rice is just tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. While the rice is cooking, heat 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a non stick pan. Season and then fry the salmon fillets. Begin by searing, skin side down over a medium to high heat. Turn, searing the top and bottom until you have reached your desired level of cooking (I like mine so that it is just cooked and can be broken apart in flakes, about 3-4 minutes per side (depending on how thick your fillets are). Remove the salmon from the frying pan and rest.
  5. Next, add the lemon halves to the frying pan, cut side down and fry for 3-4 minutes over a medium to high heat. Once done, remove and rest cut side facing up (to retain the juices.

Assembly: 

  1. Once the salmon and rice have cooled down hand are just warm, flake the salmon into large chunks and toss with the rice, rocket, chopped avocado, cucumber and extra handfuls of fresh dill..
  2. Arrange on top of the baby gem lettuce leaves and serve with the side of grilled lemon. Squeeze lemon all over salad to dress.

Cheats spiced duck confit (reduced fat & salt recipe)

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I’ve been meaning to pop this recipe into the blog for a wee while. It is one of those recipes you have to plan to make a little bit in advance just to source yourself some duck legs and make sure you have enough time at home to hang around with the oven on. I think its pretty achievable if you’re a stay at home mum (and things aren’t too hectic!) or working from home. The salting process the day before means that you’ve got dinner already sorted for the next day! I like to have a little bit of organisation in my life sometimes. 😉

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When ever I go out for dinner I’m a real sucker for three types of menu options: pate/terrines, confit duck, and absolutely anything containing truffle. I’ve set myself some rules that I have to try the “weird” thing on the menu, or just something I haven’t tried before. It works pretty well and I can’t say I’ve been disappointed. Sometimes I’ll get the weird thing as well as the pate or make the bf share if I just can’t resist!

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Salting process, skin up view

I’m not saying that this is a completely healthy recipe as you can see that you leave the skin on the duck legs which of course is high in fat. In a traditional duck confit recipe, after curing the legs you then submerge in melted low temperature duck fat. So you are essentially cooking the legs very slowly in fat. Another method that is now used in restaurants is to vacuum pack the cured legs with your spices and a little extra duck fat and cook sous-vide or in a steam oven at a low temperature overnight.

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Salting process, skin down view

I’m not going to bother with much of that hassle. At home I don’t have that equipment so I’ve gone for a cheats version which in my opinion still tastes bloody amaze-balls. I cured the legs overnight in less salt (so I didn’t have to wash it off with all the yummy spices), then I seared the legs in a very hot non-stick frying pan until the skin was golden brown (as much colour as I could achieve without too much cooking). Then I placed the legs in an oven dish and roasted, nice and slowly. Finally after cooking, I quickly (and gently) seared again so the skin was extra crispy. So all fat came inherently from the legs themselves. An improvement I think. If it all sounds confusing, hopefully the recipe will speak a little clearer.

Seared legs baking in the oven. As you can see they release a lot of fat during the searing and roasting process.

Seared legs baking in the oven. As you can see they release a lot of fat during the searing and roasting process.

Spiced duck confit  (serves 2) 

Recipe can easily be doubled for 4 people +, just multiply ingredients and aim for 1 leg per person.

1/2 Tbsp coarse sea salt

2 bay leaves, crushed into small pieces

1 Tbsp star anise seeds (not pods)

1 Tbsp coriander seeds

Few grinds black pepper

2 Duck legs, whole, skin intact

Method:

  1. Begin by preparing the salt rub. Combine the salt, crushed bay leaves, black pepper, star anise and coriander seeds in a small bowl. Toss to combine.
  2. Lay the duck legs on a flat plate and sprinkle the salt rub evenly over both sides of the legs.
  3. Place the legs into a ziplock bag or container along with any loose salt rub. Seal and place flat in the refrigerator for 1 day.
  4. Once the legs have cured, preheat your oven to 130 degrees Celsius. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat.
  5. Place the legs into the frying pan, skin side down and fry quickly until the skin crisps up. (It is difficult to get this done evenly because of the shape of the leg, the main purpose is just to render down the fat a little)
  6. Place the legs (skin side up) and any loose spice mix in to a small flat baking dish. Using a spatula, scrape out any fat which is remaining in the frying pan, over the legs. Cover with aluminium foil.
  7. Place the baking dish with the legs in the centre of the oven and roast for 3 hours.
  8. At this point, if you turn the legs over, the meat should be soft and falling off the bone, but the leg should still be holding it’s shape.
  9. You can now crisp up the skin by either frying the legs again (skin side down) in the frying pan, or removing the aluminium foil and roasting the legs at 200 degrees Celsius until the skin is just crunchy. The risk with roasting is that the meat is more likely to become dry.
  10. Once the skin is crispy, you’re ready to serve! I served mine with savoy cabbage pancakes, poached quinces (see condiments section) and a side of salad. Deeelicious!

I hope you enjoy it!

Wholemeal cracked linseed & sesame loaf

Topped with Feijoa chutney, dutch cheese, cucumber, basil & microgreens

Topped with Feijoa chutney, dutch cheese, cucumber, basil & microgreens

This is one of my favourite recipes. I love it because its just SO simple. Baking your own bread requires a certain amount of dedication, forethought and planning. This recipe however is just so simple that you can throw it all together, skip the need for equipment and kneading of the dough, sit back and relax while it does its own thing.

I’ve experimented a lot with this recipe by using different flours, grains and adding some crazy ingredients at times. What I love is that it always works. Whether you want fresh buns or a loaf, it is quick and easy with a supple density and a hint of sourdough flavour which is achieved via the two step process (see recipe below).

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In the past, I’ve trialled the recipe using 100% wholemeal flour which still works well but results in a very dense loaf which can have the tendency to crumble slightly more. This recipe is a combination of white and wholemeal flours which gives a nice balance between the extremes of fluffy and dense. I have come to loath fluffy supermarket breads which don’t even touch the sides when you’re hungry! I love a bread that is dense enough that I can slice it thinly for toasting without it crumbling to pieces, fills me up and of course tastes delicious! I’ve added a little less salt than you would find in standard bread recipes – so its heart healthier!

If you’re short of time, throw the dough into the refrigerator between stages & the yeast will continue to work, albeit more slowly. If I’m wanting some fresh bread for the next day, I often leave it to work its magic overnight in the refrigerator. In this recipe’s case, time only makes it better.

The two step process does initially sound a little confusing: In the first stage, you are making a starter dough, in the second stage you are essentially repeating the process by making another dough mixture.Then you add the two dough mixtures together and allow them to rise. If your seeds are distributed evenly throughout the final dough, you know you have mixed it well enough. Its a little tough on the arm to mix, but only for a brief moment, I promise!

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Starter dough added to second dough.

Recipe:

For the first dough stage:

140g tepid water

2g dried yeast

140g strong white flour

50g cracked linseeds

50g white or black sesame seeds

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, measure out the tepid water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and leave to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir to dissolve the granules in the water, then add the flour and seeds.
  3. Mix well until there are no obvious big lumps of flour. The mixture should be more like a thick paste.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and place at room temperature until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. Alternatively, place in refrigerator until required (e.g. overnight).

For the second part (once the initial dough has doubled in size):

190g tepid water

4g dried yeast

180g wholemeal flour

90g strong white flour

5g iodised salt

Method:

  1. In another large bowl, dissolve the yeast again in the tepid water just as you did for the starter dough.
  2. Stir through the flours and salt until mixture is smooth.
  3. Now stir both dough mixes together until well combined. The dough should be stretchy and smooth.
  4. Allow again to double in size, about 2-4 hours (depending on how warm your house is), or leave overnight in the refrigerator.

To Bake: 

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius on bake setting or 200 degrees Celsius on fan bake setting.
  2. Dust your work surface with a little flour and scrape the dough out onto the bench.
  3. Roughly cut into rolls or shape the dough slightly into a long log. You do not need to knead the dough as it is already nice and stretchy.
  4. Bake fist sized rolls for 20 minutes and whole loaves for approximately 40 minutes. The bread will be ready when it has a nice colour on the outside, has risen and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Leave to cool before cutting, or serve rolls warm with a delicious soup.

Poached Quince with rosewater & aromatic spices (reduced sugar recipe)

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Today I’ve embarked on a “quince mission”…. I spotted these beauties at the veggie shop and have delved into production kitchen mode, preserving these lovely, fragrant fruits.

I’ve opted to make reduced sugar versions of both poached quinces and paste. In the past I used to make it a lot, usually with the more furry varieties of quince. As you can see from the picture above, my final poached quinces aren’t particularly pink or ‘rosey’ in colour as they should be. I’ve done quite some research about this on the web, trying to determine if indeed, my reduced sugar varieties are to blame for the lack of colour.

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Smooth quince variety

There are 5 factors which are usually discussed when it comes to final quince colour:

  1. Quince variety (perhaps mine below are more of a ‘white’ variety).
  2. Sugar content of the recipe.
  3. Lemon or acidulator added to recipe.
  4. Length of cooking time.
  5. Use of cartouche (baking paper lid directly on the surface of the quinces as they cook)

I found this amazing write up about quince science: for those who have trouble with ‘beige’ quince products…..

http://www.woolfit.com/wordpress/2011/06/13/quince-science/    Or:

https://puttingby.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/quince-jam/#comment-816

Apparently there is a chance my poached quinces will turn pink in the jars with time. Perhaps I did not cook them for long enough or it is because I used the lid of the pot to cover, rather than a cartouche! My paste however is another story; I cooked it for at least 1.5 hours (once it was in paste form) and it didn’t turn pink! Perhaps this is because I only used 1/3 of the weight as sugar (rather than an equal ratio of puree:sugar).

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Regardless of all the quince colour research out there, the quinces were delicious! With less sugar they were still fragrantly sweet, if you’re wanting a healthier version this is a good option!

Poached quince is absolutely delicious with rich salty meats such as pork belly or confit duck or serve on top of yoghurt & muesli for a delicious fruity breakfast.

Recipe:

1 Litre water

150g Sugar

1 Tbsp Rosewater

2 star anise pods

1 cinnamon stick

3 cardamom pods

1 bayleaf

1 lemon, peeled and then sliced, seeds removed (use both peel and slices in the poaching stock)

4 Quinces (approximately 800g weight before peeling)

  1. Place all the ingredients apart from the quinces in a large pot. Heat over medium-high heat to bring to the boil.
  2. While the sugar stock is heating, prepare the quinces. Top and tail the fruit and use a speed peeler or sharp knife to peel off the skin.
  3. Cut each quince through the core into quarters. Remove the core with a sharp paring knife, being careful not to cut yourself as the flesh is very hard. At this point you can decide if you want to keep the quince in larger pieces (such as the quarters you now have) or you can choose to cut each quarter lengthwise again for smaller segments (8ths)
  4. Once you have prepared the quince, plunge into the sugar stock.
  5. Cover with a lid (containeing a steam vent) and reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer. The slower you can poach your quinces, the faster you will achieve a pinky colour. They will however get pinker as they are stored.
  6. Cook quinces until tender: approximately 20-30 minutes for eighths and 45-60 minutes for quarters. Test using a sharp knife to determine if they are ready.
  7. Bottle in sterilised jars or store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Tofu & zucchini cakes w fresh basil & tomato vinaigrette

Tofu & Zucchini cakes w/ sauce vierge

So I’ve landed back in Amsterdam to start up a new project; a cafe which will help to rehabilitate victims of human trafficking. The cafe will have a dedicated training kitchen to allow victims to gain the skills they require to enter the normal workforce (hospitality sector). At the cafe they will recieve formal training sessions, beginning with learning some basic kitchen skills and hopefully progress to a point where they can join me in the commercial cafe kitchen. An exciting project! At the moment, I’m only up to designing the kitchen layout and what equipment is needed, and have partly written the menu…. eek! But exciting things to come never-the-less.

Tofu cakes

My senses are indeed feeling messy; a combination of jetlag and clash of a beautiful summer just had in New Zealand with the bitter cold of Amsterdam (please warm up!) So I’m still inspired to cook something light & vibrant with a punch of flavour despite being in the colder northern hemisphere!

Sunny Amsterdam

Over the years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Tofu and in particular Soy. From a nutrition perspective it is an excellent source of protein & calcium, a vegetarian staple which is usually well tolerated (even if you have irritable bowel syndrome). Per 100g, tofu has more than twice the amount of protein & calcium as quinoa or kidney beans. In terms of iron content, quinoa does win; but lets be realistic here… it is much easier to eat 100g of tofu than it is to eat 100g of quinoa!

Tofu cakes

I usually choose a firm tofu as I find this is the most versatile & it holds it’s shape well. Making tofu delicious requires a bit of love. It absorbs flavour well and it is important to remember that a piece of tofu is as good as the accompaniments you match it with. Traditionally capers are used in Sauce Vierge however I used chopped caperberries today to add a bit of extra bite and texture against the creamy texture of the tofu. I hope you enjoy it!

Tofu cakes without spice dusting

Recipe:  

(makes 6 small cakes/patties (2 portions). Can be easily doubled to make 4 portions.

100g firm tofu

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1 handful chopped italian parsley

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/4 red onion

1/2 medium garlic clove

To dust on patties prior to frying:

1 tsp dried garlic or celery salt,

1/2 tsp each whole coriander seeds, ground cumin

Salt and pepper to season

Olive oil for frying

Sauce Vierge:

1 roma tomato, roughly diced

1/2 cup picked and shredded basil leaves

1/4 cup shredded italian parsley

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup caperberries, stems removed and thinly sliced

salt and pepper to season

Rocket leaves & whole caperberries to serve.

Method: 

  1. To begin, toss the shredded zucchini with a few pinches of salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.

  2. To make the patties, blend all the ingredients together (except the zucchini). A handblender is particularly useful. Taste a small amount of the mixture and season as required.

  3. Squeeze any liquid out of the zucchini and combine well with the tofu mixture.

  4. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and roll into balls. Flatten slightly into desired shape. The mixture should be wet and easily form balls.

  5. At this point you can coat the patties in your favourite spice mixture (Today I used dried garlic & toasted coriander seeds).

  6. Over a medium heat, fry the patties in a little olive oil until golden brown on each side.

  7. While the patties are cooking, you can make the Sauce Vierge. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season well.

  8. When the patties are cooked through, assemble on a bed of rocket leaves, dollop the sauce on top and allow the juices of the tomato & herbs to run down over the patties.

  9. Serve immediately for the most delicious result.

DIETARY MODIFICATIONS

Irritable bowel syndrome: Omit the onion and garlic. Jam pack the tofu mix with fresh herbs and the green part only from a spring onion. If you are sensitive to wheat, swap standard breadcrumbs for gluten free, or substitute rolled oats or rice flakes in place of breadcrumbs.

Salicylate intolerance: Swap the red onion for the green part of the spring onion. These cakes are better enjoyed with a herby greek yoghurt rather than Sauce Vierge to minimise your symptoms. Zuchinni contains moderate levels of salicylate therefore if you are particulary sensitive you could swap this for choko or chickpeas to add texture.

Gluten free: Swap the breadcrumbs for a gluten free option or use rice flakes.

Raw red cabbage sauerkraut with ginger, caraway & fennel

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Wow! I’m amazed by how delicious homemade sauerkraut is! I thought that perhaps the fermentation process would be a little off-putting, and I’m glad that many people are actually starting to embrace this way of preserving now. A wee word of warning though: If you’re suffering from Irritable bowel, cabbage is high in FODMAPs, therefore it is not advised if you are struggling to control your symptoms!

If you’re like me, you buy a whole cabbage for a super-cheap price, use half and then more than often it ends up getting slightly wilty hanging around the veggie draw in the fridge. After a while when you have that ‘lightbulb’ moment one evening to make a ‘scraps from the fridge’ quiche or stirfry, that cabbage finally gets another chance!

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I’ve decided that its worthwhile getting involved with the hefty cabbage. Its pretty delicious steamed in blocks with a few juniper berries and herbs in the steaming water, then drizzled with a nice olive oil or butter and sprinkled with a touch of salt & pepper. Equally delicious is raw cabbage wedges, dipped into wasabi or miso mayonnaise. Or massage whole leaves with a little salt to soften, rinse & use to make healthy wraps full with veges and all sorts of goodies.  Getting hungry now!

Anyhoo, I thought I’d share this nice sauerkraut recipe. I love making my own because it is more crunchy than canned varieties. You can leave it to ferment for as little as 3 days, and as long as 2 weeks. It really depends on how much sour flavour you like. Pair it with a nice German sausage in a hot dog or with some potatoes tossed in herbs. For the less-fermented kraut, this is superb in salads to lend a bit of crunch and amazing colour & flavour.

kraut production (2)

Ingredients:

1 head red cabbage

2 tsp sea salt (not iodised)

2 tsp caraway seeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 cm knob fresh ginger, finely grated

Method:

  1. Shred the cabbage as thinly as possible. The thinner you slice it, the softer it will become when massaged with the salt. Place the cabbage in a large bowl or pot (as photo above)
  2. Add the salt and massage into the cabbage for about 10 minutes using clean hands so that the salt crystals begin to dissolve.
  3. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes, then return & continue to massage until the mixture becomes nice and juicy. Depending on how big the salt crystals are, you may need to massage & rest the mixture several times. You want it to be nice and juicy to allow the cabbage to soften.
  4. Add the caraway & fennel seeds. Combine well. (Ginger gets added at step 10 as it can prevent/delay the fermentation process)
  5. Prepare a clean, large glass jar (I used a large gherkin jar) by boiling water and filling to the brim. Leave to stand until the water cools back to a warm temperature and then tip out. This acts to sterilise the jar from any nasty bacteria that may have been present.
  6. Pack the sauerkraut & liquid into the jar, pressing down firmly so that the liquid brims to the surface.
  7. Next, you need to prepare a weight for the top of the kraut, to ensure it is packed down firmly and the liquid can cover the kraut for the fermentation process to be even. I chose a small jar or sealable bag which fits in the opening of the large jar. Fill with water to act as a weight. Sit on top of the sauerkraut and seal around any opening with plastic wrap or a bag to keep fruit flies out!
  8. Place the jar on a windowsill or space in your house out of direct sunlight. It does not necessarily need to be in the dark.
  9. Allow to ferment for 3-15 days. After 3 days you will be able to smell the souring aroma. How far you ferment is up to you!
  10. When you’ve fermented the kraut enough, stir through the grated ginger and pack into smaller jars and pop into the fridge. It will keep for months! (If you don’t end up devouring it all before that 😉 )

Garlic & Lemon Hummus with toasted Caraway, Cumin, Cashews & Black sesame

Hummus

I love cooking from scratch. Not only do I know what goes into my food, but it saves me a lot of money. It doesn’t necessarily need to take a lot more time to cook from scratch; you can use canned/frozen produce (e.g. canned chickpeas in this instance for those people on a busy schedule) or you can soak and cook your chickpeas yourself. Either way, you’re probably going to reduce your intake of sodium, preservatives and additives. Planning ahead is key; this can just be a little forethought before heading to the supermarket, or making a wee list at the beginning of the week to plan ahead.

A rough approximation of this recipe is that it cost me about $2.50 NZD to make 500g worth of hummus. Compared to supermarket varieties I saved about $5.50 NZD. With rising food prices and many people feeling the pinch to afford quality groceries, I think this is a pretty good save. Its food for thought 😉

Garlic & Lemon Hummus w/ caraway, cumin, cashews & black sesame

Garlic & Lemon Hummus w/ caraway, cumin, cashews & black sesame

The humus base in this recipe is rather plain, but the nuts, spices and a lovely fruity olive oil can really dress it up. You can tailor the spices to suit your tastes of course. I always dry roast my spices in a saucepan over a medium heat until they are just starting to smell fragrant. This really freshens them up, making their flavours bolder and creates a delicious crunchy texture.

Hummus & Grissini

Ingredients: (makes about 2 Cups Hummus)

400g can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 garlic clove

1 lemon, zested and juiced

3 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp tahini or peanut butter

5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (2 Tbsp will be for drizzling on top of the hummus)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 Tbsp black sesame seeds

2 Tbsp cumin seeds

2 Tbsp caraway seeds

1/4 cup cashew nuts, roasted and roughly chopped

Method

  1. Place the chickpeas, garlic, lemon zest and juice, water, tahini and 3 Tbsp of the olive oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Add some more water if needed to achieve a nice smooth consistency.
  2. Season well with salt and pepper. Place in a serving dish and smooth over with a spatula
  3. While you are preparing the hummus, place a frying pan over medium heat (without oil) and heat for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Place the cumin and caraway seeds into the pan and dry roast for 5 minutes or until they become fragrant. Be careful that they do not burn.
  5. To serve, drizzle the olive oil over the hummus and scatter the cashew nuts and seeds over the top. Garnish with microgreens or sprouts and a little coarse sea salt.

Summer grilled veggie salad w/ marjoram, basil & blue cheese

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This is a gorgeous wee salad. The intense colours make it a stunner and the combination of sweet and salty is soooo yummy. It’s super easy as well. If you’ve got no time on your hands and want something a little fancy without going to too much trouble this salad is a winner. I left the skin on the beets and carrots because these are such a great source of fibre and it’s time-saving!

I’ve grilled the veggies at a really high heat because it is a really quick method of cooking and you can just focus on getting some nice caramelisation going on. The veggies have a lovely tender texture on the outside whilst staying deliciously crunchy inside. The quick flash of heat softens the ginger so it can begin to marinate in the juices of the veggies.

Once your grilled veggies have cooled, toss in plenty of fresh fragrant herbs and crumble over your favorite creamy blue cheese! The salad is essentially self-saucing! What could be easier? Divine.

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Recipe

(Serves 4 people as a side)

For roasting:
3 large red beetroot, ends trimmed
2 large orange or purple carrots, ends trimmed
2 red peppers, seeds removed
2 Tbsp (2 thumb sized knobs) finely diced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp liquid honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the salad:
1 handful picked fresh marjoram leaves
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 Cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
100g creamy blue cheese (use up to 200g if you’re a big blue cheese fan)
2 spring onions, sliced
1 small red onion, finely diced

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees on fan grill or grill setting.
2. Begin by washing and cutting the veggies. Chop the beets, carrot and red peppers into 2x2cm cubes.
3. Place the veggies in a bowl and toss with the ginger, hon6. ey & olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Lay veggies out on a baking tray (with an edge) and roast on one of the highest racks in the oven, close to the grill for 10 minutes.
5. Pull veggies from the oven and toss with a spoon to turn over. Grill for a further 5-10 minutes until just seared and edges turning golden brown. Cook a little less if you like crunchier veggies.

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool
7. Meanwhile, toss the remaining ingredients (except the blue cheese) in a large salad bowl. Once the grilled veggies are cool, you can add these in too. Scrape in any juices from the pan into the salad.
8. Lastly, crumble in the blue cheese in large chunks and toss gently.
9. Serve with crusty garlic bread or alongside a juicy steak.