Sunday, 16 February 2014

Happy carrot salad

Mood food, that's what this is. You know those recipes that give you a giggle just thinking about their name? Bubble & Squeak, Spotted Dick, Toad in the Hole...
It's a big claim I know, but somehow this simple little salad - with its sticky sesame, crunchy carrot and squidgy sultana and spicy surprise - scores every time.
So what's so special about this happy little helper?

Well, apart from the 'fabulous five' tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (my new favourite word, it's Japanese and describes the pleasant taste that you can't quite put your finger on)), it has these healthy benefits too:

Carrots are filled with beta carotene, an important antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and strengthens your immune system.
Sesame seeds are a valuable source of manganese, which is needed for bone structure and proper digestion.
The fresh Coriander is filled with detoxifying chlorophyll and antioxidants.

Happy Carrot Salad (adapted from the LEON Ingredients book)

3 large British carrots, grated.
2 oz toasted sesame seeds.
Good handful raisins.
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce, or 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 a red chilli.
Juice and zest of 2 limes.
1 tbsp sesame oil.
1 large handful fresh coriander, chopped finely. You can also add parsley or mint.

1. Combine all the ingredients into a big bowl and mix thoroughly. Add salt to taste. It tastes even better when it's been left to macerate overnight.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Super green smoothie

If like me you've been wondering what all this juicing talk is all about anyway, let me let you into a secret: It's a game changer.
If you've been feeling sluggish in a morning, veggie juice is a great way to ease your body into the day ahead. Filled with phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, it's the perfect way to eat your veg quicker than you can say five a day.

This one is super green and super good for you. I made it after a long day's travelling as a pick me up and just couldn't resist this fabulous enamel mug to welcome me home. You can find similar ones here. Enjoy!

Oh and if you feel you need some extra protein in a morning, try adding a hemp based protein powder - it really helps to balance your blood sugar levels out so you won't suffer that 3pm slump.

Or if it's fibre you need, just use a blender and eat the pulp too. Delicious thank you very much.

1/2 a braeburn apple
1 stick celery
1 medium sized carrot
2 inches of cucumber, skin on
1/2 knuckle fresh ginger, chopped
1 tbsp chia seeds
handful fresh parsley
juice and zest of half a lemon
handful sprouted seeds
3/4 pint boiled water

Add all ingredients into a blender, strain through a sieve and enjoy the juice!

Much love

Friday, 24 January 2014

Photoshoot - Miss Friday Bakery

A friend asked me to help her style and shoot for her bakery business. Brownies, glamorous Italian style meringues and romantic, indulgent wedding dessert tables: What's not to love?
You know when you just get it with someone - creatively that is? Well we had a blast. Hope you like the pics as much as we had fun taking them. 

Watch this space at

Sunday, 29 December 2013

How to make raw chocolate, a picture post

Making raw chocolate is as easy as one, two, three, four. You can get the ingredients online or at good health food shops. It's packed full of antioxidants, none of which are wasted by overheating or roasting. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
100g raw cacao butter
10 tbsp raw cacao powder
2 tbsp agave syrup
Pinch salt
To flavour the chocolate:
Dried rose petals and rose syrup
Whole almonds, roasted

1. Melt the cacao butter gently in a bowl placed over a slowly simmering pan of water.
2. Once all the butter has melted, whisk in the raw cacao powder.
3. For the almond flavoured chocolates, place a whole roasted almond in each section of an ice cube tray.
4. Leave some mixture if you're making rose scented chocolate. Add in 2-3 tablespoons rose water and mix. Place some rose petals in the remaining sections of an ice cube tray. Freeze or chill for 10mins before knocking out of the tray to serve.

Monday, 23 December 2013

My Asian style salmon

If you’re feeling in need of some healthy winter nourishment, this Asian style salmon is just the ticket.

The meaty, poached salmon and its warming, spicy broth make a light but wholesome dish. Salmon is full of Omega 3 fats so it’s good for your skin too.

The broth is made with Thai ‘nam pla’, or fish sauce, which has a salty, punchy flavour that tastes like you’ve been slaving over stock for hours.

If you want a real detox, you can make this gluten and egg free by using soba noodles, which are made with buckwheat. Though rice vermicelli noodles or egg noodles work equally well.

Serves 4
4 small–medium salmon steaks

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

½ red onion, sliced finely

1 pint water

Large handful fresh parsley, chopped

Large handful fresh coriander, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Knuckle fresh ginger, skinned and chopped into matchsticks or grated

3 tbsp Thai fish sauce

4 tbsp Tamari (gluten free) or normal soy sauce to taste

2-3 tbsp Swiss Bouillon (gluten free), or vegetable stock

1 pack Soba (buckwheat noodles) / 1 pack Rice vermicelli noodles.

1. Prepare all the chopped and grated ingredients. Heat up two large saucepans with about a pint of water in each on a medium heat (one is for the noodles, one is for the salmon and broth).

2. In saucepan 1, once the water is on a slow simmer, add half the garlic and ginger and the bouillon stock. Then add the salmon, making sure there’s enough water to cover the steaks. Add the noodles to saucepan 2 and bring to a boil..

3. Keep an eye on the noodles to make sure you don’t overcook them. When the salmon is nearly ready (depending on how you like it this should take about 4 minutes on a slow simmer), add in the rest of the fresh ingredients, and take off the heat. Drain the noodles and set aside. Add in the tamari/soy sauce and Thai fish sauce to taste.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Top tips for cooking with pheasant, from a Masterclass at jamie's hq

If you’re really serious about eating organic, wild and seasonal food, then pheasant should be on your shopping list.

As a farmer’s daughter, I grew up on pheasant casserole in Autumn and Winter. So when the invitation to Jamie Oliver’s HQ for a Pheasant Masterclass landed at my door, I couldn't resist.

Jamie’s trusted right hand men Gennaro Contaldo, Andy Appleton and Jon Rotherham were there to guide me and other keen bloggers through their ideas for this fabulous fowl.

Andy Appleton, Head Chef at Fifteen Cornwall 
So what did we learn? Here are their top tips for cooking with pheasant:

1.Pheasant either wants cooking very quickly or very slowly. Nothing in between.
2.Hen pheasants tend to have more fat on them and are generally more tender.
3.Try to get pheasants that haven’t hung for more than four days if you’re not keen on the gamey flavour.
4.Pheasant meat has B vitamins, potassium, readily absorbable iron and protein, zinc and vitamin C.
5. For cock pheasants, a top tip is to look at the spurs on their legs – if they’re big the pheasant is older and will need cooking longer (thanks Dad for this one).

Gennaro Contaldo, the animated Italian chef often seen with Jamie on the telly, did a delicious pheasant breast dish. The breast was duly bashed to tenderise it (although as he showed us it was incredibly tender to start with), then stuffed simply with half a red chilli, half a garlic clove with skin on and a verdant sprig of rosemary.

This one was all gluten and dairy free and so simple. The result was really delicious and you can easily imagine doing it after a busy day at work; in fact the bashing would be good relaxation.

He also showed us a trick to sear the meat while in the pan - you can use a brick but here he uses a bowl to make sure the meat is crispy.

Jon Rotherham, the head chef at Fifteen London, then went on to cook a pheasant and pork sausage with kale, pickled quince (delicious) and game chips.

Sicilian Caponata cooked by head chef at Fifteen Cornwall Andy Appleton was amazing. It included seasonal squash, soaked raisins and caramelised onion. It was an excellent fruity-sweet side to the pheasant. Because of this it would go equally well with other game, including venison.  

How do you cook your game? I'd love to know.

Thanks to Merlin, Jim and the chefs for a wonderful evening. If you'd like to get some great game recipes, try here. And if you want to find out where to buy game online, try here.

p.s. For some other pheasanty posts, try these blogs too:
The lovely Ren Behan and Layla Kazim also Rachel at The Food I Eat 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Five things you learn on a yoga retreat

If you’re in need of some rebalancing, have an open mind and already enjoy practising yoga every now and then, a yoga retreat could be just your thing.

A friend and I decided we needed all that and more this Autumn, and after much googling, we found the KaliYoga retreat in Spain.

About an hour from Granada, this little oasis of calm is nestled in the stunning mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Welcoming us was expert yoga teacher and lifelong Buddhist, Tashi Dawa. Her teaching was faultless, with so much background knowledge to share on how the human body and mind interact for our health.

The other thing about this retreat was its focus on treatments. We were pummelled with thai yoga massage, which the monks in Thailand are purified with (once you’ve had one you’ll know why - it involves a lot of pulling, stretching and massaging of both your body and your energy channels, so you come out feeling totally refreshed in both body and mind). Reflexology and foot reading were also on the menu, as well as a weird sounding but absolutely amazing MAT treatment – a kind of massage for your digestive system.

'So what about the food' I hear you say.

Friends were horrified when we told them there was no meat, no alcohol and no coffee (unless you're desperate). The food is mainly gluten free, can easily be dairy free and many dishes served are vegan. However you never feel hungry and the food is inventive and delicious every time. Think tahini dressed aubergine, chocolate dessert made with avocado and raw cacao (better for you and full of antioxidants). In fact here's a sample menu of the day:

Five things you learn on a yoga retreat:

1.     That you can calm your mind. Think breathing, chanting and practising yoga poses. Believe me, it works.

2.     That your mind can lie, but your body never lies. I keep thinking of this when I'm stressing out at my desk with tense shoulders. The body is clever and tells you what you should be doing to keep it healthy (be more active!)

3.     That yoga is excellent for toning your core. Think plank and press ups, repeated, x50.

4.     That chocolate is good for you (as long as it’s raw not roasted cacao) – full of antioxidants and delicious. In fact you can make chocolate desserts without cream that taste just the same. Using avocado instead.

5.     That life is all about balance. So simple - look after your relationships, exercise, eat well and have faith (in yourself or others). Choose to be happy everyday no matter what life throws at you.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Damsons and elderberries

What could be more appealing this Autumn than the prospect of making delicious damson gin or an antioxidant rich elderberry cordial with cinnamon and cloves?

I wanted to share these images of fabulously foraged damsons and elderberries I picked to give you inspiration...

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Bramley Apple Crumble

Why is crumble so comforting? Is it the soft, hot apple or its crisp, sweet topping?

Autumn without crumble would be too tough to take. On the search for a dairy and gluten free recipe I came across this one from the lovely Chocolate and Zuccini blog.

The beauty of this dairy free recipe is that there’s no rubbing of fat and flour. I added some cinnamon spice and crunchy brazil and pecan nuts to ensure an equally satisfying, butter free pudding. If you’re a fan you can also add some raisins to the apple mixture, which turn out plump and delicious.

Comfort food at its very seasonal best.

Apple Crumble, adapted from the lovely Chocolate and Zuccini blog

100 grams (3.5 ounces, about 3/4 cup) gluten free flour (spelt flour or wholemeal also good for non gluten free)
100 grams (1 cup) rolled grains of your choice (oat, spelt, wheat, rye, quinoa, rice, barley... or a mix thereof) I just used oats
50 grams (1/2 cup) Demerara sugar or C&Z recommends unrefined sugar
Good handful of brazil nuts and / or pecans. You could also add pumpkin seeds, sunflower or sesame if you have them.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
80 ml (1/3 cup) oil (I used olive oil)
1.5 kilos apples (3 1/3 pounds, about 8 medium), preferably a mix of varieties, some that keep their shape when cooked, some that don't (I used Bramley and Granny Smith)
Handful raisins

1. Turn on the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Wash your apples but leave the skins on for added fibre. Chop them into medium – large pieces, about 4-5cm big.
3. Place them in a covered saucepan with a little water, about ½ cup usually does it. Stew on a gentle heat for about 10 mins or until the apple turns fluffy. Take off the heat and add a good handful of raisins. Sweeten to taste depending on how ripe the apples are. Remember the topping is sweet and you’re looking for a contrast of tangy fruit with sweet topping.
4. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and add the oil, ensuring it’s well mixed in with the sugar, flour and oats.
5. Grease a baking dish with a little oil and add in the apple mixture. Spoon on the crumble topping evenly across the dish.
6. Bake for approx 10-15 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Serve warm.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A Provencal Tomato Tart

This time of year is just heaven for British tomatoes. As kind neighbours and family keep turning up with home grown red belters, I felt like making a seasonal tart.

This one is based on a dish I used to love while on my year out in France. Served up in the excellent Nicois bakeries, it never failed to satisfy, day or night.

It's a simple pastry crust slathered with a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard, then with finely sliced seasonal tomatoes which have been salted for a few hours to avoid a soggy bottom on your pastry. I also popped some turmeric into the pastry mix as it was looking a little pale. You could try a teaspoon of mustard powder instead for extra punch.

Add either herbes de provence or oregano and basil with plenty of salt and pepper. Once cooked, just drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and you have lunch or a healthy snack.

Tastes wonderful warmed up too.

Tomato tart
Makes about 8 slices

Hale and Hearty Gluten Free Pizza base
About 8-10 medium sized tomatoes, salted for about 2 hours and drained
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tsp turmeric powder
Either herbes de Provence or oregano
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil to serve
Fresh herbs to serve if you have them.

1. Preheat your oven to 180degrees.
2. Mix the dough and roll out the pastry thinly - about 5mm - and according to the pack instructions.
3. Put the pastry onto a medium sized baking sheet and spoon over the mustard, gently pushing it out to the sides.
4. Drain the tomatoes and lay onto the pastry and mustard base.
5. Season and add the dry herbs.
6. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the crust has turned golden brown.
7. Add the fresh herbs, salt and pepper and olive oil and serve.
Similar posts: 
Stuffed courgette flowers
Yellow tomato salad and a great dressing

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Victoria Plum Cake

Just sharing these pics I took today with you.
Victoria plums are so delicate and I love the idea of them caramelised at the bottom of a cake.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Food envy and a Tapas Revolution

Salmorejo - chilled Tomato Dip at Tapas Revolution
Do you ever get food envy? You take time poring over a menu to find the perfect dish, which duly arrives in front of you looking paltry. 

Then to make things worse, your friend is presented with a mouth-wateringly, achingly appetising rival plate. Sin it may be, but the occasional bout of supper spite is inevitable.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Saving the world with a bionic burger?

News this week of the world’s first stem celled burger appalled me at first. Then I got to thinking.

On a global scale, our population is growing faster than we can keep up meat production for.

Countries like China, as they becomes richer, want more meat. This means we need more cereal crops like wheat grown to feed chickens, pigs and cattle for human consumption.

More wheat means more land taken up, meanwhile more animal production means more greenhouse gases.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Review: The Crafthouse / Angelica's - Leeds

Got a head for heights? Get vertigo at The Crafthouse and its sister bar Angelica's in Leeds city centre.
There’s no escaping it. Leeds' restaurants consist mostly of chains. Yes there’s Sous le Nez and La Grillade, James Martin and Anthony Flinn numbers too, all of which are perfectly proper independents. As a rule though, eateries in the centre of Britain’s sixth happiest city remain popular, but insipidly formulaic.