Monthly Archives: February 2012

Beetroot and Cranberry Cake

Ingredients

140g spelt flour
110g ground almonds
2 tsps baking powder
100g soft brown sugar
175ml olive or sunflower oil
200g peeled and grated raw beetroot (this should be the weight once grated)
100g dried cranberries
2 large eggs
Zest and juice of a small orange
30-35 whole peeled almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°.  Grease and line the bottom of an 8in (20cm) round spring-form cake tine.  Grate the beetroots into a large bowl, roughly chop the cranberries and add to the beetroot.  Sift in the flour and the baking powder.  Mix in the almond powder and blend the mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs and whisk in the oil.  Add this to the beetroot mix, stir well and add the zest and the juice.  Pour the batter evenly into the cake tin and then carefully lay the almonds onto the batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Sweet Potato Fishcakes

Eating a fishcake can vary from being a truly amazing experience to a desperately dull affair.  Normally when I offer this on a menu I call it a ‘Japanese style’ fish cake to make it sound a little more exotic and draw attention away from our pre-conceptions regarding fishcakes.

This for sure is one of my most requested recipes.  It moves away from the normal ratio of fish to potato being 50:50 bringing the fish content to 80:20.  This enriches the texture and flavor giving it a sense of luxury as oppose to a cheap potato cake.  The sweet potato lightens the cake up as well as lending to the seasoning, giving it an original feel and look.

It might appear that there is a lot of direction this is just so that every eventuality in completing this recipe is covered.

Ingredients (Makes 6)

750g of salmon and any white fish (or just salmon is fine)
250g cooked and peeled sweet potato
10g dill
10g parsley
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
35g capers
35g gherkins
10g green peppercorns (optional)
2 large spring onions
2 red chillies de-seeded
100g fine polenta and sesame seeds (50:50)

Tartare sauce 

250g natural yoghurt
35g capers
25g gherkins
25g shallots or spring onions
Juice of one lemon
10g parsley

Method

These fishcakes need a minimum of 6 hours in the fridge before cooking, or even overnight, so make you sure you make them up in advance.

Start by cooking off the sweet-potatoes in boiling water.  Carry on with the instructions below then when they are cooked take them off the heat and strain off the water.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Place the fish into a oven dish and cover with water.  Slice one of the lemons and lay them over the fish.  Put the tray into the oven and let the fish poach for 15 minutes.  Remove the fish from the dish and let it cool on a large plate and put to one side.  Peel the cooked sweet potatoes and break up into a large bowl.

Chop the gherkins as small as you can be bothered.  De-seed the red chilies and cut into small squares.  Run a knife over the capers , don’t chop them too much. Slice the spring onions into thin rings.  Roughly chop the dill, chop the parsley a bit finer.  Zest the other lemon into the mix and add half of the lemon juice.  Season with Maldon and black pepper.  Mix the ingredients together (excluding the fish).  The most effective way to do this is by using your hands to get the ingredients thoroughly mixed through the potato.  If you don´t like using your hands a wooden spoon will do the job.

Flake and break up the fish removing bones and anything  that doesn’t look right (for example I personally don’t like the look of brown meat on the salmon.  There is nothing wrong with it, I don’t like it so I scrape it off).  When you have done that fold the fish into the sweet potato.  When all is even break off a bit and taste it.  You want to be able to taste the lemon and it could very well need a bit more salt.

Once the mix is ready divide it evenly into 6 pieces  (if you have a scales its easier to weigh them so they are the same, each one should be 175g)  wet your hands with water and roll the portions into balls.  Into a bowl put the  polenta and sesame seeds and mix.  Roll each fishcake thoroughly through the polenta and sesame seed mix.  If you have a mould run a tiny bit of oil around the inside.  (A mould being a metal or plastic bottomless ring.)  Drop the rolled ball into the mould which is on a plate and press into shape, repeat with the other balls.  If you don’t have a mould then take the rolled ball onto a board and press it flat with the palm of your hand. With a fish slice transfer to a plate.  The fishcakes will need to go into the fridge at this point.

To make the tartare sauce chop the gherkins into small cubes  and the shallots or spring onions even smaller. Roughly chop the capers, chop the parsley as fine as you can. Dry off herbs with a paper towel. Squeeze in the lemon juice into the mix, season and add the finely chopped parsley. Mix well, cover and put into fridge before serving.

Line a flat oven tray with baking parchment and turn the oven up to 200.  This is to heat the fishcakes through once they have been sealed in the frying pan.  Take your frying pan and you will need to put minimum 50ml of sunflower oil into it.  Heat the oil and lay the cakes into the pan.  Once the bottom has a nice golden colour turn them over and repeat the same on the other side.  Put the fishcakes onto the baking tray and put into the oven for around 15 minutes, until completely heated through.  You can normally smell them once they are ready.

Serving suggestions; as there is sweet potato in the cake, you don´t need to serve another carbohydrate with them.  Here I have dressed green beans with olive oil, roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh mint.  Any mixed salad or  green vegetables will work.

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasting and peeling red peppers raise these vegetable to another level.The richness of taste and the smoothness of texture make it an unrivaled ingredient to salads, stews and as a side vegetable. They are delicious eaten simply too – on a cracker with hummus or tapenade for example. It is worth doing a batch and putting them in a sealed container in the fridge covered with olive oil.  Raw peppers are raw peppers and are delicious as that, but apart from baking peppers, all dishes seem to be improved by peeling the pepper. I suggest doing this with three large red peppers and forcing yourself to use them when ever possible.

Ingredients

3 large red peppers

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees. Put the peppers on parchment paper, then onto a baking tray. Place them in the oven until they start to blacken, this can take 20 minutes, maybe a bit longer. Take out of the oven and let them cool down a bit, a couple of minutes. Cover with cling film. Forget about them for at least an hour.

Un-wrap  and pull off the skin and remove the seeds. This is never the same process, sometimes the whole skin pulls off and the pepper is in large attractive pieces, other times it can be bitty, messy and annoying.  After you have done this a few times it will become easier.

Cashew and Ginger Spelt Cookies

There is nothing better than having a biscuit tin full of fresh cookies. Normally this is out of bounds if you are keeping to a healthy regime because they are full of butter and sugar.  Here we have lost the butter and replaced the sugar with agave syrup (which is lower on the glycemic index), and also retaining the chewiness which is what we all love about a cookie through the use of almond paste or tahini.  The crystallised ginger makes up for the loss of chocolate chips.

Ingredients (makes 12 medium size cookies)

125g spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
50g cashews
65g crystallised ginger
65g agave syrup
75g almond paste or tahini
65g light olive oil or good sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.  In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Mix in the sugar and the salt.  In a separate bowl whisk the oil with the agave, almond paste (or tahini) and vanilla essence.

Fold together the above ingredients always remembering to be gentle generally when working with pastries.  Add the roughly chopped nuts and ginger, and mix gently until evenly distributed.

Spoon 12 rounds of the mix onto a large lined baking tray (you could do these in two batches if you dont have a large baking tray) leaving 3cm in-between each cookie as they will spread a little in the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes.

The cookies will still be fairly soft when they come out of the oven, but this is fine as they firm when cooling.  Should be light golden in colour.

Chicken and Quinoa Medley

Chicken Quinoa

This is the kind of meal you could make for yourself and eat over a couple of days as long as you keep the sauce and seeds separate

I devised it originally to use up the chicken leftovers from a roast. You can just as easily griddle a chicken breast.  I use a lot of quinoa in my cooking. Its a complete protein, a carbohydrate and it’s gluten free. Like oats it has complex carbohydrates and essential amino acids which makes it good for training. Most importantly it’s versatile and works as a  sweet or savoury dish.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250g of left over chicken or 2 chicken breast griddled
150g quinoa
150g cherry tomatoes
25g capers
50g spring onions or shallots
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 orange, juiced
Salt and pepper
25g parsley
75g sunflower seeds
10ml Tamari (or soy sauce)

Sauce

100g natural yoghurt
100g cucumber (about a third)
Half of the lemon juice
25g mint
Salt and pepper
Tamari seeds (see TIPS)

Method

To make the yoghurt sauce  mix together the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Peel and de-seed the cucumber and cut into small squares, chop the mint and add to the yoghurt and mix together.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put onto a baking tray covered with baking paper. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and black pepper and some olive oil. (Optional, drizzle a small amount of honey, agave, maple syrup or just a bit of sugar over the tomatoes for added sweetness).

Pour the quinoa into boiling water for 8-10 minutes, taste, it needs to be soft but with a bit of bite. Drain into a fine sieve and refresh under the cold tap. Let it drain for 5 minutes then lay out flat on a tray and cover with kitchen roll and press the excess water out of it. Roughly chop the capers and finely chop the spring onion and the parsley.

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl. Squeeze half the orange and half the lemon into the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the ingredients over to combine gently.  You don’t want to break up the tomatoes too much.

To serve, place the quinoa mix on a plate and layer on the chicken, pour on the dressing and garnish with herbs and seeds.

Sprouted Lentils


Sprouted LentilsMost pulse and seeds will sprout. Health food shops have a good selection of ingredients for sprouting. Alfalfa, broccoli, chickpeas, mung-beans (soy), sunflower and pumpkin seeds all sprout well. In this instruction we are using puy lentils.  With just a small square sealed container and a sieve you can start learning the sprouting process and try to integrate it into your life. If this interests you will find a lot more elaborate equipment to help you out in health food shops or online. This is really just to show you how straightforward it can be to start.

Incorporating sprouted pulses into your diet is a way to avoid the flatulence found in cooked pulses whilst maintaining their benefits in your diet eg  fibre intake, protein content as well as vitamins and minerals. You could have two or three different types of sprouts on the go at the same time. In this recipe 100g lentils are used, this will make enough for two or three salads. They keep well for three days in a sealed container. In my experience the pulses from health food shops that are organically certified are in a different league so far as quality goes. The price difference is not so much.

Ingredients

100g green puy lentils

Method

Sprouted LentilsSoak the lentils in enough water to cover them for 3 to 4 hours, in a sealed container. Drain, rinse and put back into the container and cover with kitchen roll.  Leave at room temperature. I always advise people to leave them close to the washing-up area so you don’t forget about them.

Sprouted LentilsYou have to wash the lentils under cold running water twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.  Use the sieve for this. Always put back into the container and cover with kitchen roll. This process will take three to four days to complete. When ready place in a container with a lid and keep in the fridge. Graze on these, put into salads or use as a garnish on crackers.

Holy Moly Guacomole

Guacomole

There are many different ways to make guacamole.  This is by far the most popular version that I have arrived at.  By losing the raw garlic and onion as used in most other recipes, you reconnect with the dreaminess and subtly  of creamed avocado.  If you can’t get coriander then you can use mint or basil. You can also lose the tomato and you don’t have to peel it. I have only just started to peel the tomato (see  tips) as a matter of detail, but you must remove the seeds. Take time to cut the tomato and chilli.  You can achieve a certain level of knife skills and these are classic ways to practice. Keep the cuts even and the same size.

Not only the best fruit source of Vitamin E, avocados (despite being green) contain a wide variety of carotenoids. So as well as being delicious they are a powerhouse of the nutrients that help keep our cells young and our bodies cancer-free.

Ingredients

250g ripe avocado skinned and stoned
8g coriander
1 juicy lime
8g chives
1 red chili de-seeded and cut into small squares
1 tomato (skinned and de-seeded, optional)
1/4 teaspoon of Maldon sea-salt
50ml olive oil

Method

Remove the stone and scoop out the avocado flesh from the skin and put into a bowl. Skin, de-seed and cut the tomato into small squares. Finely chop the chives and coriander, squeeze the lime,  then add the olive oil and other ingredients to the mix. Preferably use a glass or plastic bowl and a silicon spatula or a wooden spoon (Not using metal slows down the oxidization process which happens quickly with avocados)

Gently start breaking up the avocado by gently mashing the bigger pieces down. Then gently keep turning the mix over, breaking down and turning. It will start coming together and going creamy. Taste for seasoning when you have the required consistency,  I like it to have some texture and not be completely smooth.