Monthly Archives: November 2012

Roasted Beetroot and Feta Salad

This is a centre of the table dish, we ate it with smoked mackerel and baked sweet potatoes. In Eastern Mediterranean cuisine it would be part of a mezzesomething I will develop on as the blog evolves. I have served this dish as a starter for which it also works well.  The beetroots take quite a long time to roast off so do them when you have the oven on for a chicken or something similar as the oven needs to be quite hot. They will keep for a day or so, so you don’t have to use them straight away,  just make sure they are at least room temperature when you serve them and not fridge cold.

Ingredients (serves 4 or 6 if part of a mezze meal)

400g beetroots (three large, six medium or eight small)
125g  feta cheese (real feta is sheeps milk or goat and sheep mixed)
150g salad leaves, any salad will do it – rocket and watercress works well
35g herbs, I have used chives but any soft herb will do the job
1 small teaspoon of honey
Olive oil
Black balsamic
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon

Method

Wash and scrub the beetroots and trim up with a small knife. Cut into wedges and put in a bowl. Toss them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put them onto a paper lined baking tray and roast at 200 degrees for about an hour.  Give them a good shake after 30 mins then after an hour take out of the oven. Put them back in the bowl and toss them in the balsamic vinegar. Leave them to cool down.

When you are ready to serve take a plater and cover the surface with the salad. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Scatter the beetroots evenly over the salad. Crumble the feta over that, then dip a teaspoon into the honey and swirl the spoon over the plate, you don’t want to put too much on. Finish off with the chopped herbs.

Homemade Muesli


Every time we serve this with The Healthy Holiday Company a lot of the clients ask for the recipe, so here it is.This has turned even the most die hard muesli haters on. Granolas and mueslis from the healthfood shops can be  expensive and you don´t get much for your money.  This recipe will make 2kg of muesli.  If you eat it every day it will last just over three weeks. Making a customized muesli such as this is win win as its cheaper, better than the generic ones and you can add extra things you like.

Ingredients

1 bag of granola (500g)
500g (1 packet) of large oats (can also be mixed with barley or rye flakes for example)
100g dessicated coconut
250g cornflakes
100g pumpkin seeds
100g sunflower seeds
150g raisins
100g cranberries
100g other dried fruit (papaya, pineapple or mango for example, or even dried banana)
100g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
75g sesame seeds
50g poppy seeds (optional as they can get stuck in your teeth!)


Method

Turn the oven on to 200 degrees. Place the oats and the dessicated coconut onto a large baking tray and place into the hot oven for around 20 minutes. These will toast a nice golden colour, but you will have to keep moving the mix around so as to avoid burning on the top. You will probably have to do it three or four times in the 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Place the hazelnuts onto a sepearate baking tray and toast off at the same time. They will need 8 to 10 minutes – this is to release the full flavour of the nuts. Place a large frying pan onto a high heat. Add the pumpkin and sunflower seeds (do not put any oil – this must be a dry pan) and toast them off. The pumpkin seeds will start popping – this is fine. Once they have a nice colour, remove from the pan and leave to cool in a bowl. Don´t leave them in the pan as they will continue toasting in the pan, and this is how they get burnt! Then do the same with the sesame seeds.

Take a large mixing bowl and add all of the ingredients and mix well. You could keep this muesli in a tupperware container, ziploc bags or a large glass jar.

Delicious with alternative milks such as hazelnut or almond.

For a gluten free version of this use alternatives such as buckwheat, millet and quinoa in place of the oats and spelt.

Puy Lentil Red Pepper and Apple Soup

Soup is always good this time of year (Autumn).  I like soups that focus on one or two flavours.  This is a recipe that brings the red peppers to the front with a hint of paprika following.  You don’t have to peel the peppers, I just do because it adds another subtle level.  This is not a blended soup.  It will happily sit on a low heat bubbling away working everyones appetite with its permeating aromas.  This recipe feeds about four people.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and chopped as small and even as you can
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
300g red peppers – thats about two large ones, peeled (optional see side dishes) and chopped in small cubes
150g puy lentils (they are the really small ones, you can use the slightly larger ones, I normally soak them for at least one hour, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t though)
10 grams of paprika
1 litre of stock (from a cube or powder)
1 apple peeled and grated
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method

Cover the bottom of your pan with olive oil and fry off the onions. Add the garlic when the onions start to brown, then the chopped peppers (hold a little bit back for the garnish). Cook this down for five minutes, add the paprika, then the stock.

When this is bubbling happily, slide in the lentils. Keep the soup boiling, add the grated apple then turn down to a simmer. Keep topping up the soup with warm stock or water from the kettle, so it stays a soup like consistency. After 45 minutes, taste the lentils, if they are soft, turn off the soup, leave for half an hour then taste for seasoning. Sometimes the lentils go a little bit hard, not sure why yet, but just cook it a bit more until they soften.

When you are ready re-heat and serve.

To garnish like the bowl in the photo, I took some of the red pepper that I held back and cut as small as possible, chopped one spring onion and half a chilli.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cake

Its that time of year where we have time to indulge in such luxuries as cake making.  Smells filling the house, warming it up rather than over heating it (we live in Spain). This is a Nikki recipe. We are experimenting with different no gluten flours that are not heavily processed like some of the branded gluten free flour on the shelves.

Pumpkin is really popular with cakes and desserts in the America. In Europe we tend to go for different roots like carrot or beetroot. This cake is dense and will last forever getting better day by day. It would of been called ‘hippy cake’ where I am from, not that thats a bad thing. Its the chestnut flour that gives it that texture. I really like it for its longevity and it can also double up as a winter dessert.  Serve it with yoghurt and honey or yoghurt agave or vanilla ice cream. Failing that it works really just with a cup of tea.

If you find this cake a little dense or you cannot find chestnut flour, you can use ground almonds instead.

Ingredients

225g pumpkin (once peeled and grated)
200g chestnut flour
4 large eggs
175g brown sugar (or half xylitol) if you have it, all sugar is fine
225ml oil
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
2 tsps ground ginger
75g raisins
50g hazelnuts (roughly chopped)

Method

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees and grease, line and flour (with the chestnut flour) a 23cm (9 inch) springform cake tin.

Sieve the flour, ginger and baking powder into a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar in a seperate bowl until mixed well. Fold the egg mixture into the dry mix and add the carrots, raisins and hazelnuts.

Pour into the prepared cake tin and cook for 50 to 55 minutes. If you insert a wooden skewer into the middle of the cake it should come out completely clean, and feel firm to the touch in the middle.

Leave to cool in the tin for at least half an hour before transferring to a plate.

In the photo it has been served with Quark and a drizzle of agave.

Griddled Aubergines with Sheeps Yoghurt and Pomegranates

This is as good as any introduction to ‘griddling’.  Aubergines really drink oil but cooking them this way will mean you have better control over how much oil you use.  The pomegranates are a great finishing touch but don’t worry if you can’t find one in the supermarket, the dish holds up anyway without them.  This is a sharing dish that goes on the table.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 aubergines
1 small pot (100g) of sheep or goats yoghurt. ‘Total’ brand is perfect
1 lemon
1 pomegranate
2 spring onions
2 green chillies
Maldon sea salt
Pepper
Sunflower oil (or any oil, sunflower is my preference for this recipe)

Method 

Cut the aubergine long ways into three or four thick slices depending on its size. You have to level off the rounded outer bits so it sits on the griddle pan.  Put the griddle pan on the flame and brush with the oil.  Lay the slices onto the pan and turn the heat to medium.  Cook each side until the skin is well marked and the aubergine is golden. Take off the heat and lay onto kitchen roll, repeat the process until all cooked.

Dab off any oil from the aubergine with the kitchen paper then lay onto a large plate.  Put the yoghurt into a bowl and mix a teaspoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Cut the spring onions and the green chillies into rings, not too thick.  Empty the seeds out of the pomegranate.  Dress the plate when it is ready to go to the table by evenly drizzling the yoghurt over the aubergines, sprinkle over the spring onions and green chilli then finish with the pomegranate.  There are no problems prepare this dish in advance.

Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Croutons

 

Here’s the thing;  if you put 250ml of double cream into cauliflower soup, like every other recipe I have read,  then for sure you will have a rich and scrumptious soup. That soup will also be intensely  calorific.  This is a lighter soup relying on the cauliflower being cooked properly and not stewed. This alongside the addition of the mustard which adds some depth and a small amount of zero yoghurt finished off with a scratch of parmesan on the croutons (which can be left out if you wish) gives it depth and richness with out the fat content.

Ingredients

1 large white onion
1 small to medium cauliflower (450g)
2 cloves of garlic
1 litre of stock (either homemade or from an organic stock cube)
1 tspoon Dijon mustard
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
30g parmesan
Spelt bread (or any old bread you have in the house)
Natural yoghurt

Method

Roughly chop your onion and cauliflower keeping them seperate.  Take a good pan and cover the bottom with the oil,  place onto a mid heat and sweat off the onions. Try not to brown them as this will colour the soup the wrong way, you want it as light as possible. Add the garlic and cauliflower, keep stirring for 5 mins then cover with stock. Let this cook out for about half an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the croutons. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Cut the bread into small squares, toss with some oil. Put on to a baking tray lined with paper. You only need enough for about 8 squares in each bowl. Toast off in the oven when they are ready take out and scratch some parmesan over them. Put back in for another minute. Put to one side until the soup is ready.

Take a stick blender, a magi-mix or a smoothie maker, and blend the soup until really smooth. Add the mustard and blend some more. If it is a little bit too thick, alter the consistency with some more of the stock. Knock down the yoghurt with just a little water so it is more of a pouring consistency.

To serve; Pour into a bowl, place a big pinch of croutons in the middle, then draw a circle of yoghurt around the croutons for a nice cheffy finish. Young thyme leaves or chives work well with with this soup sprinkled onto the croutons.

Cinnamon and Honey Cake

This is a tasty tea time cake with lots of cinnamon, which has strong resonances of a Moroccan kitchen.

Ingredients

250g ground almonds
1/4 tsp Maldon sea salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g walnuts roughly chopped
65g dried raisins
60ml  organic sunflower oil
6oml good quality organic honey
2 large eggs

For the top;

2 tbsps ground cinnamon
2 tbsps oil
60ml honey
50g flaked almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.  Mix together the ground almonds, salt, bicarbonate of soda, walnuts and currants together.  In a seperate bowl whisk together the oil, agave and the eggs.  Fold in the egg mix to the almond mix.  Pour this into a lined and greased 20cm springform cake tin.  To keep the recipe gluten free, I tend to use cornflour.

Now you want to prepare the topping for the cake.  Mix together the cinnamon, oil, agave and almonds.  Evenly distribute over the top of the cake and then put into the oven for 30 to 235 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin for at least 40 minutes before removing.

Homemade Sauerkraut


I have always liked sauerkraut, is good to know that it  is highly beneficial to people who have digestive troubles.   The lacto-fermentation process it goes through means it is a natural probiotic.  Natural probiotics  aid the digestive and immune systems. The effects sauerkraut has on your insides are quite complex in contrast to how easy it is to make. The bottom line is that its good for you. Eat it with all your plates of food or with crackers, just integrate it into your diet. Add aromatics, classically juniper berries, but all spice and star anise work really well.  What you see in the photo is one medium cabbage, probably better do it with two or three, it keeps for a couple of months.

Ingredients

1 medium sized white cabbage
1 tbsp Maldon sea salt
1 star anise
3 allspice berries
6 or 7  black peppercorns

You will also need;

A medium sized glass jar with a sealable lid

Method

Cut the cabbage into four, removing any of the outer leaves which are no good.  Save a couple of good, large leaves as this will go on top of the cabbage in the jar to hold it down.  Remove the thick stalk  in the middle.  You need to cut the cabbage as thin as you possible.  A mandolin is the right tool for the job, if you don’t have one then a heavy knife and a steady hand will do it.

Give the cabbage a rinse, and dry fairly well.  Add it to a large bowl and scrunch in a tablespoon of salt.  You now have to pick up handfuls of the cabbage and give it a good squeeze.  Drop this handful and pick up another one.  Repeat this process until water starts coming from the cabbage.  Carry on until it has reduced in volume by half.  You can now add your spices.

Pick up handfuls of the cabbage and press firmly into the jar, watching out for any air pockets.  Once firmly packed, pour the liquid in.  This is the brine, and will prevent it from going off.  All of the cabbage should be covered.  Press the reserved cabbage leaves on top, close the jar and leave for 24 hours at room temperatute.  Over the next four days open the jar once a day just to release any excess gases.  After four days, put into the fridge for a couple of days.  The sauerkraut is now ready and will last for approximately two months, although this recipe only produces a small jar, so it won´t last that long.