Monthly Archives: November 2011

Fruit & Nut Loaf

As far as healthy cakes go, this one works well as there is no butter or oil and not too much sugar. Most of the sweetness comes from the dried fruit.

Ingredients

100g spelt or kamut flour (see Store Cupboard)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
100g light brown sugar or xylitol
300g coarsely chopped nuts (I used walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, but any combination is good)
65g dried cherries or cranberries roughly chopped
120g dried figs or dates (or both) chopped into quarters
50g preserved ginger roughly chopped
85g dried apricots quartered
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees centigrade.  Grease and line 9×5 inch (23cmx12cm) loaf tin.  Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl.  Add the chopped fruit, ginger, nuts and sugar to the flour mix.  Beat the eggs and the vanilla in.  Press this firmly into the tin, tapping the sides firmly to remove any air.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes.  A wooden skewer should come out fairly clean when inserted into the centre, and the top should be golden brown.  If the top is browning too much during the cooking time, you can cover with tin foil.  Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, and then remove and cool on a wire rack.

Black Rice with Spinach and Prawns

Black rice is quite new to me, but it’s a whole food which means I can use it on retreats. As a result, I have been trying out different recipes and it has really grabbed me.  A search on the internet yielded many dessert recipes but few savoury ideas. Black rice is packed full of the good stuff (see store-cupboard) and is visually amazing.  It is not the same as wild rice. It’s much softer and smoother to eat.  The biggest drawback is the cooking time, it’s like brown rice in that it takes 35-40 mins, but it’s worth it for the visual impact and the original velvety taste.

 

Ingredients

400g Prawns (fresh and unshelled)
8 small shallots
4 cloves of garlic
300g black rice
1.5 litres of stock (powder or good cube is fine)
200g spinach
1 lemon
2 spring onions
20g coriander
2 small red chillies

Method

Dice the shallots, quite small, and press the garlic. Fry both off in olive oil in a heavy bottom pan. When they are turning brown add the rice and stir in well. Add the stock and once it’s at a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer. Keep an eye on it and stir gently occasionally.

Peel and de-vein the prawns – do this job next to running water, as it can get messy.

Zest the lemon, de-seed and finely chop the chilli, and pick the coriander.

Heat a saucepan of water.  Drop in the prawns and cook with lid on for two minutes.  Take a prawn out and cut into one of them to make sure it is cooked (if it’s not give it another 20 seconds).

Put the drained prawns in a mixing bowl and add the chili, spring onion and half the lemon zest with a tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of half the lemon and a pinch of sea salt.  Gently turn the prawns over until it is mixed together.

After 30-35 minutes when the rice is cooked turn off the heat and taste for seasoning. Squeeze in the other half of lemon and add the spinach. Put a lid on the pan (keep the heat off) and leave for a minute. Take off the lid and fold the wilted spinach into the rice.

To serve lay a spoon full of the rice and spinach into a bowl or on a plate. Place a circle of prawns as in the picture. Garnish with the lemon zest that is left and the coriander.

Two-way Chicken Soup

It’s a really good feeling when you cook and eat a dish that has been around you since you were a child.  Curative chicken soup has always been a part of my life, and this take on the recipe will always stay with you. It can seem like quite a long process, so you could make the stock the day before and the main soup the next day.

To make things a little more interesting, but equally as nourishing, a couple of changes in ingredients creates a more exotic Asian version. Its quite dramatic how this classic dish can become a different experience using the same cooking process.

Ingredients (for the stock).

1 chicken
4 peeled carrots (whole)
2 onions peeled and cut in half
1 leek chopped into four
2 celery sticks cut in half
2 tablespoons of decent stock powder (vegetable)

Ingredients for version 1: Classic Chicken Soup (serves 4)

200g mixed green vegetables (I used green beans, peas and broad beans)
400g potatoes
Fresh parsley chopped
2 Spring onions
Zest of a lemon

Ingredients for version 2: Asian Soup.

200g mixed green vegetables
150g rice noodles
Coriander chopped
2 spring onion
15g ginger (thumb size)
2/3 birds eye red chili (depending how hot you like it)
2 limes

Method

Ask the butcher to prepare your chicken, separating the legs, wings and breast, keeping the carcass.  Remove the skin from the legs (use a tea towel or kitchen roll to grip the skin and pull).

Take a large saucepan and put all of the stock ingredients in (except the breast, keep those in the fridge). Cover with water, put a lid on the pan and boil for 25 minutes.  Remove the legs and continue to cook for a further 2 hours.  Keep the water topped up and  the contents covered the duration of its cooking time. Strain the stock into a bowl and put aside.

Version 1: Classic Chicken Soup

Peel and slice the potato into 3cm rings.  Cook the potatoes in the stock, be careful not to move them too much otherwise they will break and make the stock cloudy. Once the potatoes are cooked turn off your stock.

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Meanwhile, oil the pan, when it’s piping hot lay the chicken breasts, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 mins each side on a medium heat. Cut the chicken breast into thick slices.  If you feel the breasts are not quite cooked, then sit them in the hot stock for a minute or so to finish off. At this stage you want to remove the meat from the leg of the chicken and put aside.

Cook off the green vegetables in boiling water (put the vegetables in as their individual cooking time demands ie. green beans would go in before peas and peas before broccoli) set the cooked vegetables to one side when cooked.

Slice the spring onions, zest the lemon and finely chop the parsley, and add to the stock to slightly soften. Hold a little of each back for the final garnish.

To present the soup, take four bowls and place the potatoes on the bottom of the bowl and the green vegetables on top. Place the sliced chicken breasts and legs onto the vegetables and ladle the hot stock over.  Garnish each plate with the chopped parsley, lemon zest and the thinly sliced spring onion.

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Version 2:  Asian Chicken Chili Soup

Cook off the noodles for 3 minutes until firm but not cooked, swiftly wash under cold water to prevent them sticking together. Oil the frying pan, when it’s piping hot lay the chicken breasts, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 mins each side on a medium heat. Cut the chicken breast into thick pieces. If you feel the breasts are not quite cooked, then sit them in the hot stock for a minute or so to finish off.

At this stage you want to remove the meat from the leg of the chicken and put aside.

Cook off the green vegetables in boiling water (put the vegetables in as their individual cooking time demands ie. green beans would go in before peas and peas before broccoli) set the cooked vegetables to one side when cooked.

Cut the ginger into thin matchstick pieces, thinly slice the chillies and the spring onions on a slight angle. Pick the leaves from coriander, rather than chopping as this gives the dish a more Asian feel.

Heat through the stock and add the matchsticks of ginger, half of the spring onions, chili and coriander and squeeze in one of the zested limes.

Taste the stock to make sure it is seasoned properly add some salt if needed and more lime to taste. Add the noodles to heat them through. To assemble the dish take four bowls and divide the noodles evenly (tongs work best for this), place the green vegetables on top. Lay flat the sliced chicken onto the vegetables and ladle the hot stock over.  Garnish each plate with the chopped chili, lime zest, the thinly sliced spring onion and a good pinch of coriander.

Warm Roasted Vegetable, Smoked Tofu & Herb Salad

Inspired by the one-dish dinners from Morocco this delicious hearty dish
is perfect as the nights draw in

Ingredients for 6 people

250g smoked tofu
200g quinoa
75g whole peeled almonds (flaked will do)
10g mint
20g coriander
2 kilos mixed root vegetables eg.beetroot, carrots, sweet potato, onions
1 red pepper
1 whole bulb of garlic
150g goats cheese
1 lemon
125ml greek yoghurt
Maldon sea salt and black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/gas mark 7.

Cook the quinoa in a pan of rolling boiling water for about 12 minutes. It is cooked when it still retains a bit of bite. Strain into a seive and run under cold water. Leave to drain. Roast the almonds in the oven until browned.

Take the largest baking tray you have, you might need two. Peel the root vegetables and cut into 4cm chunky pieces. De-seed the pepper and cut into similar size pieces. Break up the garlic bulb loose the flaky outer but don’t peel. Toss the vegetables in oil, season with salt and pepper then lay into the tray on baking paper. Make sure the vegetables are in a single layer – not piled on top of each other – this will allow them to roast not steam. Cut the tofu into similar size pieces and keep it apart for now.

Put the trays of vegetables into the oven for about 20 minutes. After ten minutes take out of the oven and gently turn the vegetables over with a fish slice. Then distribute the tofu onto the vegetables, and cook for a further 8 minutes. Use your own judgement to decide when the vegetables are ready, optimal is soft and golden slightly burnt. Take the roast vegetables out and add the tofu and crumble the goats cheese over the top. Put back in the oven for a further 5-8 minutes until the goats cheese has melted.

Meanwhile, zest the lemon and chop the herbs, do not over chop them as it will make them watery. Mix together the yoghurt with lemon juice and season. The yoghurt sauce should be pouring consistency, if not add some water.

To assemble the dish put the vegetables and tofu mix and quinoa into a large mixing bowl (preferably in one layer at a time) and then gently turn it over – everything should be evenly mixed. Season with salt and pepper, careful not to over salt.

Swirl the yoghurt from a spoon onto the vegetables etc. Hold the almonds in your hand and let them fall from the centre and to finish sprinkle the herbs and lemon zest over the top.