If you cant find inspiration here check out the recipe archive on the left hand side of this page

 
 

Gigantes ke Horta

Serves 4 – 8 [ main/starter]

 

1 x large tin butter beans [drained and rinsed]

1 small onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped or grated

½ tablespoon of tomato puree

Large 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

50ml water

250g spinach or chard [ washed]

cinnamon

oregano – dried tablespoon

2 tablespoons of olive oil

 

Soften garlic, onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, when soft and opaque stir in tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, water salt and pepper – bring to a simmer and cook for 30 mins. The stir in the spinach into this thickened tomato mixture. Next add the beans and cinnamon and the remainder of the olive oil. If it appears a little dry add a little more water and simmer for 20 – 30 mins, adding the oregano towards the end of the cooking.

 

Or

Put everything apart from the spinach, oregano and 50ml of water into the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, just before serving stir the rinsed spinach into the ingredients and let it wilt down and stir to incorporate. Stir in the oregano just before serving.

 

Butter beans are a stable ingredient in Greece and this dish is delicious served with grilled meats or on its own with a chunk of rustic bread.

 

 

 

 

We spent a fantastic evening with some friends, now Kay is a great cook anyway and keen to support local producers and grow her own vegetables, so I always know that the food will be delicious.  It was a cold crisp night, the log fire was creating a lovely cosy environment and in the background a delicate aroma of hotter climates.  The tagine appearing on the table, gave the game away and I can honestly say this is the best tagine I have ever tasted.  Kay had created a masterpiece that far outshines anything I have tasted in Morocco.  So with a bit of arm twisting, I would like to say Thank you to Kay for sharing this wonderful recipe.  

 

 

Kay’s Lamb Tagine with lime couscous & Moroccan potatoes


This is a very easy dish, perfect for sharing with friends as everything is prepared in advance.

The long cooking time will fill your house full of spicy Moroccan aromas and is well worth the wait!

Lamb Tagine

Large shoulder of lamb boned and diced

2 large onions

6 Cloves of garlic *

2tsp Ground cinnamon *

1tbsp Paprika *

1tbsp Turmeric *

1tbsp Cayenne pepper *

1 inch fresh ginger finely chopped *

2x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

1 pint of lamb stock

120g Apricots halved *

60g Whole almonds (with skins peeled)*

Chopped mushrooms

Olive oil for frying

Fresh coriander to serve

3-4 fresh limes (lime couscous)


The quantities of all ingredients marked * can be changed to suit personal preferences.


  • In a large bowl, mix the diced lamb and spices and leave to marinate for several hours or overnight, if possible.

  • When ready to start cooking the tagine, chop the onions and garlic and fry in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

  • Add the lamb to the garlic and onions and brown.

  • Add the tinned tomatoes and lamb stock and slow cook at 140degrees/120degrees fan oven for 3-4 hours.

  • Half an hour before serving add the mushrooms, apricots and almonds.

(To peel the almonds place them in a cup of boiling water and the skins will easily peel off)

  • To serve, garnish with chopped coriander.


Lime couscous

  • Use the quantity of plain couscous to serve however many you have to feed.

  • Slice 2-3 limes and place in with the couscous.

  • Add the boiling water and a knob of butter.

  • To serve, garnish with fresh lime wedges and freshly chopped coriander.


Moroccan potatoes

  • Peel 3 large old potatoes and cube into ½ inch portions.

  • Put in a pan of boiling water and cook for a few minutes.

  • Drain and set aside.

  • Put 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a roasting tray with chopped cloves of garlic and a selection of the spices used in the tagine to suit your taste.

  • Heat the oil and spices in a warm oven for 5mins.

  • Add the potatoes and coat in the oil and spices.

  • Cook for approx. 30mins or until crispy.
 

 

 

Slow Cooked Salmon Trout with Mint and lemon

This is a take on an old recipe that Delia Smith talks about.  It is my take on a slow cooked whole salmon or salmon trout.  Easiest if you get your fish supplier to fillet and bone it, then just take the odd few bones out with tweezers before cooking.
 
You will need a large oven tray, amount of silver foil, butter, fresh mint, 1 red onion,  and some black pepper.
Double your foil over and butter the base of it where you want to put your fish.  Lay the bottom fillet skin side down, then cover with thin shavings of butter, handful of torn mint leaves, black pepper and a sliced red onion.  Place the other fillet flesh side down to make a sandwich so you have skin on the outside of both pieces.  a little more butter on top then make a tent with the foil to seal the juices and flavour in.  Place baking sheet containing salmon into your pre heated oven [130C, Gas 2] and dependant on the size leave to cook
900g takes 1.5 hours
1.3 kg takes 2 hours
2.25kg takes 3 hours
 
Remove from oven and you can serve hot, if you like just open foil, peel back the skin and slice to the thickness you require.  Otherwise allow to cool remove skin and then serve cold with home made mayonnaise or hollandaise.  
this is a great dinner party dish as it looks after itself.
 

Greek Lemon Potatoes in the Oven

When you are about halfway through the cooking time pop your lemon potatoes in the oven - take new potatoes, leave the skins on pop into an ovenproof dish drizzle with olive oil and the juice of a lemon and about 200ml of cold water, turn once during cooking and serve hot with your fish, drizzling the melted butter over them and a pinch of sea salt

Lamb with lemon and potatoes

A wonderful dish with an aroma to make you so so hungry while it cooks.
Greek influenced dish that will make a simple meal into a gourmet feast!  In fact this is often the way that family occasions or religious occasions are marked in Greece using Lamb as the main celebratory ingredient.
For a 2 kg weight joint it will take approx 3hours 30 mins at 160C/Gas2/300f - Preheat your oven
 
Take your leg of lamb, place into your roasting tin with the bone nearest the bottom of the pan, drizzle extra virgin olive oil over, squeeze the juice of a lemon and then place sprigs of rosemary,, lemon thyme and greek oregano over the meat. [ you can use dried herbs if you havent got fresh ones] You are looking to cover the meat with the herbs.
Leave well alone for 2 hours, then remove from the oven - Turn your oven up to 175C, baste and spread your new potatoes all around the edge of the pan making sure they are evenly covered.  Squeeze the juice of 2 more lemons over the potatoes, a further drizzle of olive oil, then return to the oven to complete the cooking time.  If you find the pan is a little dry feel free to add a little cold water and turn the potatoes to ensure they do not go too crispy on one side.
 
Serve with plain green vegetables of your choiceand enjoy
 

Chicken, Pepper and Chilli Onesie!

Still using the slow cooker, all year round.  This is a lighter more  Mediterranean inspired "ready meal"
Enough for 2 very hungry people or 4 light lunch portions;-
All the following ingredients are carefully mixed together in the slow cooker and left on low when you go out in the morning ready for a late lunch or early dinner.
Use least 4 chicken thighs, bonesless and skinless
Tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips then diamonds [ or any shape you desire as long as they are no bigger than 3cm squared pieces]
1 courgette - diced into 3cm squares
1 red onion - peeled and sliced
1 Yellow or Green pepper -prepare the same as the red
1 Aubergine - cut into 3cm cubes - no prsoaking, just washed dried and used
1 or 2 small red chillis, deseeded and cut as finely as possible, the hotter you like it the more chilli you use.
1 Tin butter beanmake sure you buy them in water, then just open the can and rinse and add to the mixture.
Fresh oregano out of the garden, chopped - You can use dried about level tablespoon
 
That is all there is to this dish.  I like to serve it with a pepper grinder on the table for anyone to help themselves to and some foccaccia or home made rustic bread.
 
You can "ring the changes" by using shin beef and leaving it in rings .  You can also use small new potatoes instead of butter beans, the potatoes make it slightly more substantial.  Although the butter beans leave you feeling fuller longer!! andcount towards one of your 5 a day.
 

Stuffed courgettes

Take one courgette per two people, split in half lengthways and using a teaspoon scoop out the seedy part, put to one side.  Lightly rub a little olive oil over the cut side of the courgette, place skin side down on a baking sheet and cook for approx 20 mins till its starts to soften.  
while this is cooking.  Chop the seedy part of the courgette and put into a mixing bowl, add to this 4 slices of sun dried tomato, 30g of feta crumbled, 25g toastedsliced almond, 4 spring onions cut into rings and a teasoon of olive oil.  Mix well together.
Remove courgette from oven, cover with the filling and return to the oven [Fan 180/Gas6] for approx 20 - 25mins until the skins have softened and the filling lightly browned.
 

Baked Aubergine

You will need to also make the tomato sauce that follows for this recipe
Slice your aubergine lengthways, about 1/2 -1cm thick the slices eed to be.
Place on a baking tray, into your pre heated oven [160 Fan/Gas 5-6] and cook for approx 20 mins until the aubergine slices are quite bendy to the touch.
Remove from the oven and place into an oven proof dish.  Pour the tomato sauce over and if you wish you can crumble a little feta over, I only do this if it is to become the main part of my dish  If its an accompaniment I dont add the feta.
Bake in the oven for approx 25 mins and then enjoy.....  
 
 

Very Easy Tomato Sauce

Its a very easy recipe that takes about 15 mins from start to finish, just enough time to cook the pasta!
Enough for 4 [ but you can freeze some]
Slice one onion, saute till soft in tablespoon of rapeseed oil, [you can add peppers, mushrooms at this stage and continue to cook till sosft] then add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and a teaspoon of cinnamon.  stir till simmering and then your sauce is ready.  
You can serve it with pasta, use it in lasagne, vegetable bakes, cover your strips of aubergine and then bake in the oven.  Its so versatile and Quick......

Home made Ready  meal - Pork in One

I know I talk alot about making your own version of a ready meal, then you can regulate exactly what you put in it. This is a dish to prepare in advance then throw in the oven when you get in. In under one hour you will be sitting down and enjoying it........
Serves 4 - Preheat oven 230C/210Fan/Gas8
 
1kg of potatoes, washed and thickly sliced store in water until you use these slices.
1 onion sliced
2 tablespoons of olive/rapeseed oil
60ml of cold water
4 boneless pork steaks or 4 pork chops [ depends if you like the bone in or out!]
100g grated cheese [ you can use a half fat one] otherwise use a tasty cheddar
1 tablespoon of mustard [ wholegrain]
3 tablespoons of milk or apple juice
 
 
Put the potatoes, onion, 60ml of cold water and oil all together and mix well.
Tip the potato mix into a shallow oven proof dish.
Bake for approx 15- 20 mins until starting to soften and brown slightly
Now place pork on top of the potato mix and return to the oven
Cook for approx 15-20 minutes [ your chops should be almost ready.
While the pork cooks, mix the grated cheese, mustard and milk [or applejuice] together
Now pour the cheesy mix over the chops and potatoes, return to the oven and continue to cook until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling, this take approx 5 minutes
Remove from the oven
Serve immediately, with either a green vegetable of your choice or even a salad

Budleigh Beef - serves 4 - 6 [ depends on the appetites of those you are serving!]

Called as such because I invented this during a  stay in Budleigh Salterton. 

 
1.2kg of lean beef [ shin is ideal] - cubed or rings
400g shallots - peeled
2 x sweet Romano peppers - de seed and slice into rings
3-4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
knob of butter
Olive oil - tablespoon
tin of chopped tomatoes
handful of black greek olives
1 tablespoon [ heaped] of Ras El Hanout
Pinch of chilli flakes
300ml of Otter Ale or any local dark ale of your choice.
 
Brown the beef in batches using the butter and oil, once browned drop into your slow cooker
Brown the shallots, garlic and sliced red peppers add to beef in the slow cooker
Pour the beer into your pan to deglaze and get all the flavours togher - pour over the meat, shallots, garlic and peppers in your slow cooker
Mix all the other ingredients together and add to the slow cooker, leave on low for several hours and enjoy with either green veg and jacket potatoes or just some rustic crusty bread.
should you prefer to cook in the oven, it will take about 3 hours on a slow cooking setting and you may need to add more liquid during the 3 hours as it does evaporate more using this method
 
 

CHICKEN AND CHORITZO STEW

Again this serves 4 people
Take 4 chicken thighs, no skin or bone and cut each on in half
100g chunck of choritzo, cut into small cubes
1 x red pepper dessed and slice into rings
1 red onion - chop or slice
4 cloves of garlic - roughly chop
500g potatoes - chunky
tin chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
put all the ingredients into your slow cooker and leave on low for several hours.
Serve with artisan bread of your choice.
 

A NEW GLUTEN FREE CAKE FOR YOU TO TRY;-

Cranberry, Almond and Polenta Cake
Heat your oven to 160Fan, 180 C or Gas 4
Line your 7" round sandwich tin with a cake liner.
 
In one bowl mix together the following.
250g of 0% Fat, Total Greek Yoghurt
3 free range eggs, 3-5 tablespoons of milk or water
 
In another bowl mix carefully together
100g ground almonds
200g fine polenta flour
150g dried cranberries
75g sugar
1.5 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder.
 
Now add the liquid contents of bowl one to the dry ingredients in bowl 2.  Mix well together, pour into lined tin and cook for 35-40 mins.  Leave in tin to cool.  Cut and watch it disappear!!!!
 
 
 
 
 
Following Newport show, Shropshire where I talked and demonstrated food to illustrate what counts as your 5+ a day I promised that I would share my recipes with you.
 
  These recipes are not only healthy but maximise the nutrients in the tomatoes by cooking them with rapeseed/olive oil.  I have used these recipes many times and they never fail to please.  The Taster salad,  In particular the fat free dressing, is a very tasty yet healthy way of getting good nutrients without a lot of effort, providing not only 1/2 a portion of calcium for the day, dependant what you use a minimum of 3 out of your 5+ a day veg portions but also a lot of nutrients that help your body cells fight off the nasties, in other words packed with antioxidants!!

TOMATO BRUSCHETTA FILLING

The following is approximately the amounts you will need to produce enough to serve 2 people, although it is rather moreish so be prepared!!!

You can of course use any type of bread to make the base but I like to use a spelt based bread to add the nutritional benefits of spelt over wheat and to add a little nuttiness to the overall flavours. Whatever you chose to use cut into half centimetre slices, either toast in a toaster or drizzle with olive oil and place on a baking sheet into a pre heated oven for between 5 and 10 mins to crisp it. During this time you can be creating the filling. Remove the toasted croutons from the oven, leave to cool whilst you create the delicious filling.

Bruschetta Filling for 2

60 – 80 ml of extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil

1 red onion sliced

2 - 3 cloves of garlic chopped

Vine ripened tomatoes are preferable but any will do [ you need approx 4 medium ones per person or 8 cherry ones per person] – roughly chop [ do NOT remove seeds or skin!

30ml of balsamic vinegar

Black pepper

Fresh basil [ dried will suffice if you don’t have fresh]

 

Take a small heavy bottomed pan, add some of the oil and lightly soften the chopped onion and garlic.

Now add your roughly chopped tomatoes, allow about 5 - 10 mins to soften down – increase your heat if required but don’t let it start to boil!

You may find you need to use some more oil during this process. You are aiming for a soft but not puréed filling at this stage.

Now stir in your balsamic vinegar, if you are using dried basil add it now if fresh – hang onto it.

Now its almost ready

Take your croutons of bread, spoon over the bruschetta filling, add freshly ground pepper to taste and if you have fresh basil add a little torn basil before serving. If it appears a to need it drizzle a little of your olive or rapeseed oil over.

Serve and enjoy.

The beauty of this is you can serve it warm but should it go cold it still tasted delicious, the only thing to remember is that the base croûton will soften as it cools, but the taste remains the same.

 

Taster Salad

The first thing we are going to make is our taster salad dressing;-

Again these amounts will make enough dressing for 2 – 4 people depending how much they use! If I am coating the salad ingredients totally then it will do 2 but if you are a drizzler! It will do 4

 

Taster Salad Dressing

150g Natural yoghurt [not the set type]

1 teaspoon of tomato puree

2 teaspoon of dijon mustard/wholegrain mustard

2 teaspoon of curry powder

2 teaspoon of tumeric

Pinch of dried cinamon

pinch of allspice. [ do not include for anyone who is pregnant.]

 

Very easy just mix everything together, cover and chill till ready to use. It will keep a couple of days in the fridge if you have a little left over then you can use it will cold chicken or fish.

 

Now this is where the fun starts because from the following as this dressing really does go with most vegetables, and on jacket potatoes,  but for today we will use;-

Taster Salad for 2

300g of mixed salad leaves, or just use little gem or iceberg [ use what you have to hand!]

1 leek [ or 2 small ones, although at this time in the season they are likely to be bigger] You need the white flesh of the leek and slice it into thin rings then wash well and drain.

2 tablespoons of tinned sweetcorn, [ in water not sugar or salt added]

½ red pepper sliced

small beetroot cubed

100g feta roughly cubed or crumbled into large pieces

 

Arrange the salad leaves on your plate.

In a bowl mix together the sliced leeks, sweetcorn, pepper and feta. Now place on top of the salad leaves.

Drizzle your dressing over.

I must admit I often make this and use ½ an avocado and 150g cooked chicken for a lunch box lunch, just all mixed together. You really can play around with it, using anything that you fancy or need to use up.

 
 
 

Quick Leek and Mushroom Bake

An alternative recipe for you to try. 
The following serves 2 people
 
1 large leek, sliced into rings, rinsed put in microwave dish, with 3 tablespoons of water, cover and cook till soft [ approx 3 mins]
100g mushrooms sliced but not peeled put in microwave dish, little water, cover and cook for 2 mins
 
Drain both veg and layer into a ovenproof dish.  Leave to one side whilst you make the following sauce
 
2 tablespoons of olive/rapeseed oil gently heated in a small pan, add 1.5 tablespoons of spelt flour, mix well and keep over the low heat for approx 1 min to cook the flour.  Now stir in approx 200 -   250 ml of milk [ your choice what type], stir until thickened [ you should still be able to pour it at this stage] Remove and stir in one tablespoon of grainy mustard then pour over your vegetables.  Sprinkle parmesan over and bake for 10 mins till the sauce bubbles.  Delicious with salad, on its own or with any meats.
 

Spicy Parsnip and Apple soup

This serves 4 and is a very easy one.
Pop a drizzle of rapeseed oil into a heavy pan, add 2 choppped onions, 2 chopped garlic cloves and cook until soft.  Add 2 teaspoons of a mildish curry powder, stir to cook then add 500g of shopped parsnips and 805ml of stock [ cubed stock will be fine, use veg or chicken].  cover and simmer for 30 mins
Blend and serve or for a different alternative
Grate an apple and stir into the blended soup and simmer for about 5 mins then serve.
 

Very Easy Butternut Squash Soup

At a recent talk to Shifnal Townswomens Guild, we were discussing the benefits of not only seasonal vegetables but also of trying to include various colours of vegetables into the diet and a powerhouse of Vitamin A Beta Carotene is the delicious butternut squash and I had made a very easy soup so promised that I would share it via the website.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash - peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes

2 onions - peeled and chopped roughly

5 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped roughly

1.2 litres of stock [ chicken, or vegetable ]

2 tablespoons of olive oil

 

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil gently and add the vegetables, cover and soften for approx 5 - 19 mins without browning.  Add the stock and then simmer gently for about 20 mins until the butternut squash has softened.  Remove from heat and either liquidise or blend until smooth.  Fantastic easy soup, which has a velvety texture yet still lightweight so ideal as part of your lunch or a starter before dinner.

Potatoes in the oven [ cheats Daupinoise!]

I've been cooking this dish for a long time, I dont know how it came about but I do know its a very old  method of making what appears to be a creamy potato comfort food, yet there is no cream in it!  It is an incredibly easy dish which once prepared cooks itself alongside your roast and never fails to please.

The following Serves 4 - 5

700 to 900g potatoes - peeled and thinly sliced

450ml of milk [ of your choice I have even used soya!]

25g of butter or fat of your choice ie pure spread if you are dairy free

25g plain flour [ wholemeal, plain or spelt!]

1 medium onion, finely chopped.

OPTIONAL - 50G grated cheese.

 

You will need a large ovenproof dish, preferably with a lid but you can seal with foil if not.

Make the onion sauce first, melt fat in your pan, add onion and soften but dont brown.  Stir in the flour and cook out for a minute or so then add the milk, stirring all the time to prevent lumps.  It will take approx 2 mins to thicken then remove from the heat and stir in salt and pepper to taste.  Put to one side.

Now layer your potatoes in your ovenproof dish, overlapping the slices.

Pour over the sauce.

Cover and cook for approx 1and a half hours, until the potatoes are soft.

 

If you really want to be decadent you can uncover, then sprinkle on some cheese and return to the oven until the cheese melts.  This is great if you are serving it along side a plain pork chop.

 

 

 

 

 
 
Quick Chicken and Wild mushroom risotto

 

 

For a very simple quick meal for 2 try the following using at the moment any veg thats in season but this recipe works equally well at any time of the year with onions, leeks, peppers and mushrooms or simply one soft veg of your choice.  The underlined parts are the ingredients you will need to make this dish.

 

For 2 people - pop 1 chicken breast in a saucepan containing 500 ml of stock and simmer for approx 20 mins

In the fry pan, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of oil and lightly soften your choice of vegetables, I use at least 100g of mushrooms, and 100g of your seasonal veg to give it enough body.  When the vegetables are softening add 2 cloves of roughy chopped garlic.  Then stir in 75 g [ dry weight] of arborio rice and mix well together all the ingredients.

Remove the chicken from the stock and chop into 1/2 inch pieces, retain the stock and add about a third to your risotto veg mix, stir and then leave until its almost all absorbed, then add some more and continue until you are left with about two tablespoons.  This whole process takes about 25 mins to this point and the rice should start to become slightly creamy.

Stir in your chopped chicken and the rest of the stock, stir and when the mixture is still slightly wet, stir in 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt or creme fresh if you have it, if not it really doesnt matter.  Put into two heated bowls and sprinkle some grated parmesan on top of each and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.  Enjoy!

 

Minty Spring Lamb marinade.

this marinade I mentioned in the June Seasonal food, the following amount will serve 4 - 6 people.  Just mix all the following together and marinade your meat for 24 to 48 hours before grilling it or barbequing it.

juice of one lemon, 

20g fresh mint leaves chopped

3 cloves of garlic chopped finely.

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

pinch of paprika

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

3 teaspoons of ground coriander.

Stuffed Peppers

This is a fabulous Low GL recipe, so not only is it good for your blood sugar release it is fairly low fat, full of healthy antioxidants and will either provide a starter or and accompaniment to a main course, it works especially well with the Morrocan Chicken recipe.  The amount serves 2 for a main course or 4 as a starter.  Should you not like peppers, it works equally as well with large field mushrooms although the cooking time is less.

INGREDIENTS

6 large field mushrooms OR

2 coloured peppers [ I tend to use two different colours and serve one of each ]

Small red onion - finely diced [ as small as you can get it!]

2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley - flat leaf or curly and fresh is best

75g of green cooked lentils [ I tend to buy a large can and freeze the rest for the next time]

50g chopped almonds

50g of grated parmesan

olive oil to drizzle

 

Firstly make your stuffing mix by mixing onion, parsley, drained and rinsed lentils, garlic, almonds and parmesan and mix well together.

Cut your peppers in half length ways and put in an ovenproof dish [ if using mushrooms, remove stalks and discard or use in my risotto recipe!] .

Fill your chosen vegetable with the stuffing mix, pressing quite firmly to make quite a robust filled veg.  Drizzle with olive oil.  If you are making this in advance, just cover it now, pop in fridge and use within 2 days. If you are cooking straight away;-

Put some water into your dish, pouring carefully around your peppers/mushrooms making sure it doesnt come into contact with the stuffing mix. Place in your oven [180/Gas 4 or fan 160]  and bake for around 20 - 30 mins you are really wanting the vegetables to cook enough, the stuffing will be ready when the skins are soft!

 

 

 

Lemon, Almond and Blueberry Cake

You all know of my love of using Spelt flour, well this cake is made with spelt and it really is delicious.  Its an adaptation of a recipe I saw in a magazine, I experimented to enable me to use spelt, cut the sugar right down and generally make a cake that I think should be called the "disappearing" cake as it goes very quickly.

First line a 2lb loaf tin with a cake liner, or do it the hard way!

Preheat the oven to 180/Fan160/Gas Mark 4

Ingredients

250g spelt flour

2tspn baking powder

100g butter or for vegetarians the equivalent weight of  something like Pure dairy free margarine.

115g sugar [ I use brown unrefined although really caster would be fine]

1 lemon [ grate the zest finely and extract the juice]

2 large free range eggs

100g natural yoghurt

25g ground almonds

200g of blueberries [ you could use raspberries ]

50g of extra sugar for the topping.

 

    Cream the butter and 115g of sugar together for about 5 mins until it is fluffy and pale.  

Beat in the lemon zest and one egg.  Mix well then add 1 tablespoon of your flour/baking powder mix and the second egg, mix well together.

Now add the rest of the flour/baking powder mix alternatively with the yoghurt until all folded in well together.

Now fold in the ground almonds.

Cover the bottom of your lined loaf tin with this mixture, sprinkle some blueberries over and alternate until you have used all the mix up making sure you finish with a layer of blueberries.

 

Bake approx 50 mins until the cake is nicely browned, cover with foil [quite loose] and continue to bake for a further 25 mins.

Test the cake to see if it is cooked [ the skewer test is best-insert a skewer into the middle and if it comes out without any mixture sticking to it, the cake is done]

Stand the cake [ still in the tin] on a cooling tray and mix the 50g of extra sugar with the lemon juice and pour it over your finished cake.

After about 5 mins lift the cake from the tin and leave to cool thoroughly on your cooling tray.

 

Lentil, Barley and Tomato Soup!

Ok you've guessed it, another delicacy in the slow cooker.  I make enough for 6 portions then it either is used for lunches whilst this weather is cold or can be frozen.  As it contains lentils this is a good source of protein, magnesium, iron and folic acid.  It actually makes quite a complete lunch which can be easily transported either to work or should you be lucky enough to be on an adventure for a picnic.  Warming and comforting but it will do you good.

1 and half tablespoons of olive or rapeseed oil 

1 onion chopped finely

2 - 3 cloves of garlic chopped.

1 teaspoon of tumeric

shake of cayenne pepper [ the more you add the hotter the taste!!!]

1 teaspoon of curry powder - I quite like the delicate flavour of a korma powder but any will do....

 

So heat the oil gently, then soften the onion and garlic for a few mins, then add all the spices, mix well do not overcook but release the flavours.

Put this onion mix together with the rest of the ingredients into your slow cooker so here you go, this is what you need to add to the onion mix.

400g Tin of chopped tomatoes,

1.75 litres of cold water

Stock cube  [ vegetable low salt]

200g red lentils [ use this dried weight, just rinse and add]

100g pearl barley or pearled spelt

 

stir all the ingredients together, switch slow cooker to low, cover and leave for at least 6 hours.    Use and enjoy as you wish.... a truely nutritious meal.

 

 

Sheperds Pie with a difference

Chatting this week on how to cut down meat in meals and introduce different vegetables to ensure a good intake of nutrients made me think about this very easy recipe once again I use my slow cooker, but you could pop the slow cooker ingredients into a casserole dish and cook in the oven.  This is enough for 4, but can be frozen so you could split it into two.  You could also make it into a cottage pie by using minced beef instead of the minced lamb, either way by using the lentils it increases the fibre and cuts down the saturated fat from the meat, especially if you use a lean mince. By using the sweet potato in with the potato you are also giving yourself a boost of Vitamin A Beta Carotene.

Into your slow cooker put;-

1 chopped onion

2 diced carrots

250g lean lamb mince

1 tablespoon of flour [ I use spelt]

350ml of stock 

227g chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon of tomato puree

400g can of green lentils fully drained and rinsed

tablespoon of oregano

splash of worcester sauce.

cook this in your slow cooker for at least 5 hours on low! you could put it on in the morning and when you get home all you have to do is mash the topping and its all ready!  If you are using a casserole in the oven cook for approx 60 - 90 mins on 180/Fan 160/Gas 4 until veg is tender and meat cooked through.

TOPPING 

650g potatoes and 250g sweet potato, boiled and mashed together.  If you wish you can mix in 2 tablespoons of total greek yoghurt and a sprinkle of black petter.

Make your pie up, by putting meaty filling into your oven proof dish and cover with your mash.  If you want to freeze this is the time to chill, cover and then freeze.  To serve  I like to pop a sprinkle of parmesan on and then brown the top in the oven, obviousy if this has been previously frozen you can deforst and heat through thoroughly so steaming hot in the middle.

 

Spicy Beans and Vegetable Stew

Following a request from Sheila to try a meat free dish, this is a vegetarian delicious stew, it has protein from the beans and the spices give it a delicious flavour.  If you dont want the fiddle of following the recipe below, just throw everything into your slow cooker, switch it on and then several hours later the most delicious, aromatic stew will be waiting for you.

 

This recipe serves 3 hungry people or 4 light snack lunches!

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion - sliced finely

4 cloves of garlic - roughly chopped

1 aubergine - diced around 2 cm pieces

1 red pepper - diced around 2 cm pieces

1 green pepper - diced around 2 cm pieces

1 large leek - cut into circles 2 cm width

1 large courgetter - diced around 2 cm pieces

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

300g tin of butterbeans

200g tin of flagolet or pinto beans

tablespoon of tomato puree

2 x teaspoons of cinnamon

1 level teaspoon of allspice

freshly ground black pepper

 

Heat the oil in a large pan, gently soften the onion for a few mins, then add the garlic and all the other vegetables and the spices, almost steam cook them stiring occasionally to stop them sticking.  After approx 15 mins add the tomato puree, and chopped tomatoes , after a further 10 mins stir in the drained beans and heat thoroughly without boiling for approx 5 mins or until you are ready to eat it.  This high fibre/low saturated fat dish is now ready to eat.

This dish works well made one day and then reheated thoroughly the next day.  Or pop everything except the beans together in the slow cooker [ you can miss the olive oil out and leave on low for at least 7 hours! ] , stir in the drained beans to warm through and then enjoy - delicious.

 

You can alter the vegetables, dependant what is in season, you may wish during the winter/spring to use celeriac cubed or fennel, if you do then this will take a little longer to cook.

 

 
A Treacle Sponge that's lighter!

Ideal as a treat on a Sunday after lunch, serve this healthier version of a treacle sponge, especially nice with some home made soya milk custard!

This makes enough for 4, you will need a 2 pint pudding dish which you need to brush with 1/4 teaspoon of olive/rapeseed oil.Then place it onto an ordinary baking tray.  Put the oven to 180/160 Fan/Gas mark 4.

4 teaspoons of rapeseed oil

3 to 4 tablespoons of golden syrup

1/2 a lemon [ use the zest grated, and you will need 4 teaspoons of lemon juice]

100g of self raising floor

1 level tespoon of baking powder

50g of sugar

20g of ground almonds

1 medium egg - beaten

110g natural yoghurt

15g  melted butter [ or 2 teaspoon of rapeseed oil]

 

1] mix together the lemon zest, golden syrup, and lemon juice - pour into the bottom of your pudding basin.

2] In another bowl mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and almonds - make a well in the middle and mix in the beaten egg, treacle, yoghurt and melted butter and the 4 teaspoons of rapeseed oil.  Using a metal spoon stir quite quickly to ensure it mixes well together do not over beat.  pour into your greased pudding basin. Bake in the oven for 20 - 25 mins till they feel firm to the touch.  Remove from oven and leave a few mins while you make your custard, then run a knife round the pudding basin, put a plate over and holding firmly turn out onto the plate.  All thats left is to enjoy this lower fat version of a favourite comfort food.  If you are Vegetarian replace the 15g of melted butter with 2 teaspoon of rapeseed oil.

 

Salmon in Lemon/Ginger Butter

I shared this idea recently with Fiona @'fishinaboxcouk .  It is a simple way to create a different salmon dish.  I thought it was a good time to put a Salmon recipe on as Wild Salmon comes into season from March and stays in season till September - a long season during which time you may wish to try a different way of flavouring it.

You can move the recipe up a level and envelope the ingredients in filo pastry to make a lighter, Salmon Wellington.  My Foodie Friend Elaine cooked this for us and it really was delicious.  Fiona at Fish in a Box down in Newport, Shropshire also is contemplating making a short crust pasty recipe with this filling as the base, guess we will have to wait and see and hopefully taste that in due course.

So today I am just giving you the recipe for the flavoured butter to cook your salmon in.

This makes enough flavoured butter to cook between 4 and 6 portions of salmon.

1] Finely chop 1/2 red chilli and 1/2 a green chilli [ I deseed to remove too much heat from them otherwise I feel they overtake the delicate flavours]

2] In a bowl put 50g softened butter, add the grated zest of 1/2 a lemon, add 1" of fresh grated ginger - mix together, form into a sausage shape, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill to harden.

3]In your oven proof dish place your salmon fillets, cut a disc of your flavoured butter, and place on top of your salmon fillet. gently sprinkle a mix of red and green chilli on top.

4] cover dish and place in oven 180/Fan 160/Gas Mark3 - until salmon is just cooked - dont over cook it,I find under 15 mins usually works for me, but it would depend on how thick your salmon fillet is.

Serve with a green veg, spinach or purple sprouting broccoli works well, and some small potatoes boiled or steamed in their skins.  

Then use the liquid from the fish to pour over the veg

I can smell it now, wow.  If any one wants to tweet me @ninanutrition and request the wellington part of the recipe I will add it on..........

 

Beef - OK this one is different!

I know you all have a recipe for this, but just this week I experimented as time was short and I want to share with you something that not only lowers the fat content, is ridiculously easy and saves time!!!  The amounts below serve 6, but is easily reduced or increased to suit your party size...  I have never before not browned my beef once I had coated it in flour, but time was against me so I did as follows and it really does work!

  • In a bowl put 4 tablespoons of plain flour, sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper - drop into this your 1kg of cubed braising beef [ shin, stew or any of the cheaper yet lean cuts!] - mix altogether until all the flour is coating the beef.... put to one side while you prepare the following.
  • Peel and thickly slice 5 carrots and 2 parsnips, 
  • chop roughly 2 medium onions
  • seperately mix together 500ml of dark beer/stout - I remember reading that Delia said she always picked the bottle with the nicest lable, I will leave it to you to chose your beer of choice, rest assured there is unlikely to be any left to drink unless you have altered the amount you are cooking, so yu are not going to be savouring it.  Add to the beer, 150ml of beef stock [ use a stock cube if you wish], also add 2 tablespoons of tomato puree, and 2 teaspoons of oregano [ or a mixed dry herb will work too]
  • Now for the technical bit, Mix everything together and put into your slow cooker, switch onto low and leave for at least 6-8 hours.  I left mine on for over 12 hours.
  • The resulting casserole is a thick, dark, deliciously flavoured tender casserole.

I would suggest serving with some form of mashed potato be it ordinary or sweet potato and should you wish a dark leafy green veg to really give you a good nutritious boost!

 

Spicy Moroccan Chicken

This has turned out to be a firm favourite in our household and is equally eaten in winter on a cold night or in the summer when you can actually barbeque it!  The different colours of the spices really enhance the look of this dish

For the purpose of this dish the spice mix is enough for two chicken breasts [ its easy to double it up if you are cooking for more, or even to reduce if you are cooking for one.]

Take One chicken breast [ skinless] per person.  Put into an ovenproof glass or ceramic dish.  Dont use plastic as you need this to marinade and the marinade is quite strong and could flavour your plastic container!]

Seperately mix together

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon of tumeric

1/2 teaspoon of allspice

2 x garlic cloves sliced

 

Now sprinkle your spice mix onto your chicken breasts.

Squeeze over the juice of 1/2 a lemon and gently pour over [ I often use about 50 ml of pomegranite juice if I dont have a lemon to hand!]

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Cover your dish with foil and leave for at least 12 hours - I usually leave it 24 hours 

Uncover and cook until tender in the ovenproof dish oven heat 180/ Fan 160/ Gas 4 [ usually takes about 35 - 40 mins]  Or Barbeque !!

 

Delicious served either hot or left to cool - perhaps with lentil stuffed peppers, or a mixed salad and plain potato wedges - The plainer the accompaniment the better so as not to detract from the delcious flavours of the chicken.

 

Nutty Flapjacks

Prepare a 18cm square tin - I use a non stick cake liner which saves having to use extra fat for greasing!  I have reduced the sugar down by a third and it still is sweet enough, it is perhaps a little crumblier but think of the calories saved and the health benefits

Oven Needs to be preheated to 180C/Fan oven 160C/Gas 4

Heat the following ingredients till they melt and mix together

100g butter - or pure cooking spread which is suitable for most vegetarians.

50 -75g demerara sugar

1 teaspoon of golden syrup this weighs approx 12g

In a seperate bowl weight out 225g porridge oats and add to your taste a handful of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and perhaps some chopped nuts - mix together [Itend to use 25g sunflower seeds and 25g of cranberries and 15g pumpkin]

Now add the melted mixture to the oat mixture and mix together well to ensure all the dry ingredients are coated, put into lined tin, spread evenly and press lightly down,.

Cook for approx 20 - 25 mins till golden brown.

Remove from oven, leave in tin and place on a cooling tray.

After a few minutes cut into 12 slices, it seems crumbly at this stage just press it down back into the tin and leave till totally cold - you will then find the flapjacks break cleanly into their pieces.  Biggest problem is not to eat too many at any one time!!!!

 

Slow Pot ideas for all seasons!

 

Lamb Hot Pot with a twist!

For 2 people use the following quantities  - I forgot to take a picture this week of this and it was gone before I had the chance!!!!

250-300g British lamb [ shoulder, leg or neck although neck can be a little fattier] - cut into small 3cm  pieces and well coated in 2 tablespoons of spelt flour seasoned with 2 tablespoons of dried mint and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

2 carrots - peeled and sliced in 1/2 cm slices

1 large parsnip - peeled and sliced in 1/2cm slices

Large leek, washed and sliced into 1/2 cm slices

200g potatoes, washed and thinly sliced [ leave the skin on for the fibre]

400 ml of stock of your choice I tend to use a beef one, with a few shakes of worcester sauce in it and 2 tablespoons of tomato puree and a further tablespoon of dried mint.

 

In your slow cooker, layer carrot, parsnip, leek and lamb and repeat at least twice more finishing with lamb.  Then layer the potatoes around the top of the slow cooker not leaving any gaps or a few as possible. Pour the stock over and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours [ or longer it wont matter if you are delayed]

The minty aroma and the tenderness of the lamb make this a different hot pot which is delcious served just as it comes out of the slow cooker.