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Griddled Cauliflower with Hazelnuts and Pickled Red Onions

Cauliflower 4This is another ‘centre of the table’ or ‘mezze’ style dish made for sharing. Seasonally this is a winter salad which can be served warm or at room temperature. You can  prepare this well in advance, just put all the elements together before serving. Cooking cauliflower on the fire with oil gives it a really unique flavour. I also roast off cauliflower in the oven which has the same nuances. This combination is really different and is always well received.  It  works well with any other dish on the table, fish, meat, or as a vegetarian/vegan dish.

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

1 small, or half a large cauliflower
20g roasted hazelnuts
10g parsley
1 small red onion
25ml red wine vinegar
Honey
1 tbsp capers
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Prep List

Cut the onion in half and slice it thinly. Mix the vinegar and the honey (or sugar) together. Put the cut onions into the same bowl and push the onions down with your fingers so they are covered with the vinegar.

CauliflowerCut the cauliflower across the body of it as oppose to florets as seen in the photo. Half of it will hold together, the other half will break into small pieces, but it doesn’t matter.

Make sure the hazelnuts are roasted, quite often they are already roasted, if they have no crunch then pop them in a hot oven for 5-8 mins, don’t forget about them.

Chop the parsley.

Measure out the capers.

Method

Cauliflower 2Put your griddle pan or frying pan on a high heat, or fire up the gas bbq. When hot turn down to medium heat. Toss the cauliflower in olive oil and put each large piece on the pan first, then after do whats left of the smaller pieces. Cook it well, you want some bite left in it but not too much. The cauliflower needs to almost burn a bit, crispy caramelized cauliflower is what you want. When it as all done cut the bigger pieces into bite size bits. Put into a mixing bowl with the capers, half the onion, salt and pepper and half the parsley.

Mix the ingredients in a bowl, taste, always taste everything, for seasoning. Lay onto a plate, then finish off the garnish with the rest of the onions and parsley.

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.

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.

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.

Gluten Free Ginger Loaf

Today you can find many different options for gluten free baking.  Brown rice flour, cornflour, corn starch, polenta all with  varying degree of success.  Some of the gluten free flour mixes for baking work well but can leave  a chalky aftertaste in the mouth, I am guessing this comes from the cornstarch.  This recipe uses  almond powder resulting in a  lovely rich  texture which retains moisture over time.

Ingredients

250g ground almonds
2 tsps ground cinnamon
5 tsps ground ginger
1 1/2 tsps ground nutmeg
125g raisins
1/2 tsp salt
125ml of olive oil
3 eggs
125ml maple or agave syrup (or mix of both)

Method

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees centigrade.  Grease a 26cm loaf tin with olive oil, and lightly dust the sides with cornflour (I am using cornflour here to keep the cake completely gluten free.  If you don´t have this use any of the above flours, or just oil well.  The cake may stick a little if you don´t use any flour, just loosen from the sides before removing from the tin.

Mix together the almond powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and raisins.  In a seperate whisk together the oil, eggs and syrup.  Blend the two mixes together and evenly pour into the tin.

Bake for approximately 55 minutes.  The top may brown before the cake is completely cooked, this is not a problem, just cover the loaf tin with foil.  When tested to see if the cake is cooked, insert a wooden skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean it is ready.

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.

In:Spa in The Times

Sainsbury’s Magazine, February 2012

Can a healthy holiday change your life? February 2012
Those who fear ‘healthy food’, would be impressed. Chef Michael Arthur and his crew created amazing meals without using red meat, wheat, dairy, sugar or salt and there wasn’t any caffeine or alcohol available either. Who knew you could have so much fun without drinking? Breakfasts (freshly made smoothies, fruit salads, granolas, egg dishes and spelt toast) and lunches (super salad combinations alongside protein such as fish brochettes) were served buffet-style, with waiter service for the two-course dinner and a casual sit-where-you-like approach.
What stood out for me was the warmth and friendliness of the team and their obvious expertise.
See PRESS for more write-ups

Eat, drink and be healthy – Telegraph