Category Archives: Recipe

Rum and Persimmon Punch

Rum and Persimmon Punch

If you’re like me and spend a lot of time in the fruit aisle at the grocery store, then you’ve probably noticed the arrival of Spanish persimmons, a delicious fruit with a sweet delicate flavour akin to mango. They are available from mid-October until January which makes them all the more precious, and their sweet orange flesh can provide a much welcome burst of sunshine on dark winter days.

For this reason, I decided to showcase them at my recent supperclub in a welcome cocktail featuring rum, lots of lime, and ginger ale. The result is undeniably festive and, when garnished appropriately, looks as beautiful as it tastes. Something to consider for your Christmas and New Year parties. At my party, it even inspired some artwork!

CocktailArt-1

For more information and recipe ideas for persimmons, visit spanishpersimon.co.uk.

Rum Persimmon Punch

Make it a mocktail by skipping the rum and ginger wine!

Preparation: 10 minutes | Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

  • 3 Spanish persimons
  • 3 limes, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 6 limes
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • 350ml dark rum
  • 150ml ginger wine
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 litre ginger ale
  • Mint sprigs, to decorate

Method

  1. Remove the leafy tops from the persimons, slice the flesh thinly and add to a large punch bowl with the sliced limes, lime juice, cinnamon sticks and muscovado sugar. Allow a few minutes for the sugar to dissolve.
  2. Pour the rum and ginger wine into the punch bowl. Add the ice cubes, then top up with the ginger ale.
  3. Serve in punch glasses or tall glasses, decorated with mint sprigs.

Cook’s tip: You could make this with light golden Barbados rum instead of dark rum – either way, it packs a punch!

Healthy Fermented Gazpacho Soup

Healthy Fermented Gazpacho Soup

The folks from Great British Chefs (for whom I occasionally write) have recently launched a new website called Great Italian Chefs featuring inspiring recipes from the chefs behind Italy’s best restaurants, most of which are admittedly outside of my price range. So it’s reassuring to have some of their recipes collated on one website so that I might try them for myself.

One such recipe was this Healthy Fermented Gazpacho Soup by Fabrizio Marino, head chef at Italy’s only Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant Joia. I’ve already been having fun experimenting with fermented foods, but my pursuits have largely been limited to sauerkraut, kefir and sourdough.

This soup, made with carrots, beets and celery fermented with umeboshi plum, gave me the opportunity to push my fermentation boundaries. And with the added bonus of smoked celeriac, I learned a bit about about home smoking, too (news flash: it’s easy).

The result? Totally delicious. I served the soup to friends who described it as “amazingly good”. You could serve either the soup on its own or the smoked celeriac on its own – both our amazing in their own right. But the two together are truly a case of the sum being more than the parts.

I definitely recommend having a browse through Great Italian Chefs for Italian inspiration beyond the usual pizza and pasta. These are recipes that will push your boundaries, impress your friends, and reward you with outstanding edible creations that are as beautiful to look at as they are delicious to eat.

Healthy Fermented Gazpacho Soup

  • 200g of carrots, grated
  • 200g of celery, grated
  • 500g of beetroot, raw and grated
  • 1/2 sprig of rosemary
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2g of salt, plus extra to season
  • 2g of sugar
  • 4g of umeboshi
  • 600g of tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
  • white wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil

Celeriac croutons

  • 1kg celeriac, peeled and grated
  • 70g of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • 50g of wood chips, cherry wood
  • 8 slices of wholemeal bread, thinly sliced

To plate

  • cress, to garnish
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 strawberries, sliced
  • extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Place the grated vegetables into a bowl along with the herbs, salt, sugar and umeboshi. Transfer the mixture into a vegetable mill and push down to compress the vegetables. Leave to ferment in the fridge for at least two days, until the vegetables develop a slight acidity
  2. Once the fermentation process has finished, remove the vegetables from the fridge and blitz in a blender (I use my trusty Froothie Optimum 9200). Add the seedless tomatoes and blend until you obtain a smooth mix. Pass through a fine sieve and season to taste with a little vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt
  3. Place the celeriac in a saucepan and cook for 10 minutes with the lid on. remove from the heat and add a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and allow to cool. When cool, blend the celeriac to a smooth purée and transfer to a metal bowl
  4. Place the wood chips into the bottom of a deep metal tray, then place a wire rack over the top. Rest the bowl of celeriac puree on the wire rack and cover with another metal tray acting as a lid. Transfer this to the hob and heat until the wood chips begin to smoke, then remove from the heat and leave to cool with the bowl still covered
  5. Grease the bread with a little extra virgin olive oil and season with salt. Lightly toast on each side in a hot pan, then spread the celeriac purée onto the bread ready to serve
  6. To serve, pour the gazpacho into a bowl or deep plate. Balance the croutons on tops of the soup and garnish with cress, vegetable cubes, strawberry and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Andy K’s No Bake Protein Bars

No_Bake_Protein_Bars-1

Easy and versatile, these protein bars are perfect fodder for experimentation. Try amping up the spices or adding different dried fruits, nuts and seeds. Be creative! I like to coat mine in cacao nibs.

Andy K’s No Bake Protein Bars

  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup protein powder (I use Pulsin’s Organic Whey Protein)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Add dry ingredients in a large bowl
In a medium bowl, add wet ingredients – microwave 30 seconds, stir, repeat. Add dry mixture.
Place into 8×8 container lined with clingfilm. Use your hands to press flat. Refridgerate until firm, then cut into 6-10 pieces. Keeps for a week.

No_Bake_Protein_Bars-2

Carrot Cake Bircher Muesli

Bircher muesli with carrots

This is a riff on my usual bircher muesli recipe, with added carrots and cinnamon. The picture shows almonds in the mix, but feel free to use whatever nuts you have on hand. Walnuts or pecans would be more carrot cakey, but I really like brazil nuts. No cream cheese frosting here, but yogurt makes a delicious and much more nutritious topping. It you want to add extra decadence, try sprinkling with some toasted pecans just before serving.

Carrot Cake Bircher Muesli

Serves 1

  • 50g oats
  • 7g flax seeds
  • 10g raisins
  • 10g nuts
  • wedge of lemon
  • 1 large crisp apple
  • 1 carrot
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Method

  1. The night before breakfast, put the oats, flax seeds, raisins and nuts in a bowl and add water until JUST covered.
  2. The next day, grate the carrot and apple. Add to the bowl with a good squeeze of lemon juice and pinch each of cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
  3. Serve with or without toppings – I like mine with yogurt, coconut flakes and sliced banana.
Carrot_Cake_Bircher_Muesli

Bircher muesli in situ… have I mentioned that this breakfast travels brilliantly? And it matches autumn!

Here are a few more creative ways to get your oat fix:

I’m submitting this to the #ExtraVeg linkup hosted by Veggie Desserts, Michelle Utterly Scrummy and Fuss Free Helen. Because mmmm, more veg!!

Green Apple Smoothie with Avocado & Lime

This is a signature smoothie of mine during autumn months when the orchard is in full swing and kale is in season. It’s easily adaptable to suit other fruits and greens (spinach, chard, etc).

I use a juicer and a blender to make this (see my favourite products for making smoothies) but don’t despair of you don’t have a juicer. Just put all the ingredients in your blender (squeeze in the lime juice and cut the ingredients into small blender-friendly pieces) and add water as needed to blend to a smooth consistency.

Green Apple Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 large apple (or pear!)
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • a big handful of spinach or kale
  • 1/2 lime, peeled (or lemon, rind on)
  • small slice of ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husk (optional; makes it thicker and adds fiber)
  • 5g flax seeds
  1. Juice the apple, celery, cucumber, spinach, lime and ginger.
  2. Put the juice in your blender along with the avocado, psyllium husk and flax seeds. Blend until smooth, about 20 seconds (if using psyllium husk, I suggest waiting for a minute or two and then blending again, as it takes a few minutes for the psyllium to absorb the liquid).
  3. Serve as desired with your favourite garnishes (I like grated carrot, muesli, goji berries, and lots of spirulina!).

My recommended tools for the job: the Froothie Optimum 600 Slow Juicer and Optimum 9200 Blender

Yogurt & Berry Protein Smoothie

Yogurt_Berry_Whey_Protein_Smoothie-1

As previously mentioned, I live in a place called “Orchard Cottage”, so called because there’s an old English orchard right outside of my backyard. Right now, the orchard is in full swing. And while the apples fall, wild blackberries take over the hedgerows, which sees me staining my hands and stockpiling the freezer with fruits to last me through the winter.

Throughout all of this harvesting and autumn worship, this smoothie has become my go-to blend to follow my afternoon Crossfit sessions. The apples and blackberries make the perfect sweet base, while yogurt adds creamy probiotic deliciousness. I also include unflavoured whey protein to amp up the protein levels, though you could leave it out if you wish, and double the yogurt to make it more substantial.

For protein powder, I recommend Pulsin’s Organic Whey Protein made from rBHG hormone free milk from organically reared cows. Also, no additives, flavourings or fillers. And it blends like a dream.

Yogurt & Berry Protein Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 apple, cored and chopped (a banana also works)
  • a handful of blackberries, ideally frozen (blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, or a combination of berries, also work)
  • 150g yogurt
  • 15g unflavoured whey protein (I use Pulsin’s Organic Whey Protein)
  • 1 Tbsp psyllium husk (optional, adds fiber and makes it thicker)
  • 1 tsp flax seed (optional, also adds fiber and thickness)

Method

  1. Put everything in your blender and blend until smooth, about 20 seconds. (If you’re using psyllium husk, I usually wait a minute or two and give it another quick blender, as the psyllium husk will have absorbed some of the liquid in the smoothie, and an extra blend will make it all smoother.)
  2. Serve in a cup (or bowl!) with your favorite garnishes (I like grated apple, muesli, and a sprinkle of spirulina powder, liberally applied and then reapplied as I eat it!).

Nutrition: 234 Calories | 10g Carbs | 0.5g Fat | 22g Protein

This was made with my Optimum 9200 Power Blender which has a super-handy 20-second timer setting which I use to make this. I hit the button once, clean up, make some tea, then hit it again and out comes a perfect yogurt and berry smoothie.

Easy Blender Tortilla Soup

Blender_Tortilla_Soup

I’m a massive fan of Rick Bayless’s tortilla soup but when I’m in a rush, this does me just fine. The key is good stock and dried pasilla chile which gives tortilla soup its unique (and totally perfect) flavour. The best thing about this soup is the garnish potential!

You’ll need a high-speed blender for this – I use an Optimum 9200 from Froothie.  If you don’t have one, you can blend everything in a conventional blender and then heat on the oven in a pot (let it simmer for at least 10 minutes to let the flavours blend).

Easy Blender Tortilla Soup

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 dried pasilla chile (I get mine from Cool Chile Co)
  • ⅓ bunch cilantro (coriander)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ avocado, pitted and peeled
  • ½ lime, peeled

Garnish ideas:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Black beans
  • Sweetcorn
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado

Method:

  1. Heat a frying pan and dry-fry the pasilla chilli for a few minutes so that it puffs up and changes colour. Remove the stem and seeds.
  2. Put the chilli, broth, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, pepper, avocado and lime into a high speed blender (I use an Optimum 9200). Blend on high for about 5 minutes or until hot and steamy.
  3. Serve with lime, cilantro and avocado garnish.

Healthy Vegan Shamrock Shake

Healthy_Vegan_Shamrock_Shake

My friend Emily has been making (and enjoying!) my Shamrock Shake recipe from my book, Smarter Fitter Smoothies. And since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it was about time I share this healthy vegan smoothie on the blog for all the world to see.

I’m not sure what it says about me that I am so nostalgic for a milkshake made famous by a certain fast food chain whose name begins with “M” and ends with “s”. But there you have it. And there’s no need to feel bad about drinking this “milk”shake – it’s totally vegan, relatively low in sugar and full of healthy vitamin-rich greens (the smoothie gets its green color from spinach). Feel free to toss in some avocado for an extra dose of creamy green goodness.

Healthy_Vegan_Shamrock_Shake-2

Healthy Vegan Shamrock Shake

  • 1 ripe banana (preferably frozen, ~120g)
  • 1 cup spinach (~50g)
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint
  • 2 dates
  • 10 cashews (~10g)
  • a few ice cubes
  • water, nut milk or coconut milk for an uber rich Shamrock Shake experience

Combine everything a blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9200) with enough liquid to blend and blitz until smooth. Garnish with a couple fresh mint leaves if you’d like.

215 Cals, 5g Fat, 44g Carbs, 4g Protein, 5g Fiber

Image credit: Emily L.W. Kern

Chestnut Flour Pasta

Chestnut Flour Pasta

I don’t get to see my sister, Stephanie, very often, maybe once per year if I’m lucky. So when we do get together it almost always involves an extended adventure, usually in the form of a road trip. One year it was New Orleans, another year, the Pacific Coast Highway. In November 2010, the road took us to Italy for a long, mostly leisurely drive from Rome to Bologna over the course of ten days, taking in as much as we could along the way.

Pian di Marte ospitalita rurale

One of our stopping points was Pian di Marte, a farmhouse-style agriturismo in the Umbria countryside where we had one of the best meals of our lives. In fact, it was our first meal outside of Rome and we hadn’t yet gotten used to the whole course-after-course-after-course thing that Italians are known for. That pasta was merely a “first” course was unknown to us (particularly as we’re vegetarians so used to pasta being the main event).

Morning at Pian di Marte

So at Pian di Marte, when we received our pasta course – homemade chestnut pasta with pine nuts, butter, rosemary and cavolo nero – we really went to town. And it was easy going because the dish was incredible. The pasta, made with chestnut flour, was hearty, nutty and unlike any pasta we’d had before. I’m not one for “whole wheat” or “spelt” pastas – they’re usually gritty and fall apart. But this chestnut pasta stood on its own and was a perfect match for the earthy rosemary and kale. Served alongside local cheeses and homemade bread, I don’t deny that we were in carbohydrate heaven, and we almost didn’t mind that we left little room for the three surprise courses to follow. The pasta was the stuff of instant legend.

Really amazing pasta

Thus began a quest to recreate the famous Pian di Marte chestnut pasta, and in the years since Stephanie and I have tried several times to relive the magic in our own kitchens.  After two so-so attempts with “chestnut pasta” recipes found on the internet, Stephanie finally had the bright idea to ask Pian di Marte how they made the pasta on their Facebook page. Turns out, the recipe has been on Pian di Marte’s blog all along, where they called it Tagliatelle con farina di castagne, zucca e salsiccia. (Note to self: if looking for a recipe based on a meal had in a foreign country, search for the recipe in that country’s language!)

Making chestnut pasta

The secret, we found, is in the flour. Look for Italian chestnut flour (farina di castagna) which is finely ground and suitable for pasta making. A pasta maker makes things easy, but you don’t need one – we made this by rolling out the dough with a rolling pin as thin as possible, and then slicing into ribbons with a pizza wheel.

Drying chestnut pasta

The dough is versatile, and makes delicious spinach and ricotta ravioli. But don’t go too crazy – you don’t want to overpower the great flavour of the pasta. Our favourite way with this pasta, in the Pian di Marte style, is to serve it simply with some lightly sautéed garlic and rosemary, a glug of good olive oil and a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.

Chestnut Pasta

This recipe makes quite a lot of pasta but you can easily dry most of it and keep it on hand for the coming weeks. 

  • 400g chestnut flour
  • 200g whole wheat flour
  • 200g Italian ’00’ flour
  • 6 eggs
  • a pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Combine the flours on a large clean table and form a well in the middle of the flour pile. Break the eggs into the well, add a pinch of salt, mix together with your hands and knead for about 3 minutes, until you get a soft, pliable dough. Cover the dough with a cloth and leave to rest for half an hour.Making chestnut pasta
  2. Chestnut pasta dough
  3. Roll out the pasta dough as thin as you can (using a rolling pin or a pasta maker) then cut into whatever shape you’d like – I like thin ribbons, or squares or rounds for ravioli. If you’re not using a pasta maker, a pizza slicer is a handy tool for this.
    FreshPastaMaking
  4. If you’re not going to cook it straight away, dust the pasta with semolina or flour and drape it over a rack to dry.Drying chestnut pasta
  5. Or cook the pasta immediately in a pot of boiling, salted water until al dente (4-5 minutes).

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

Mango Chilli Sorbet

Mango Chilli Sorbet

I recently had the pleasure of going to the latest supper club at The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. The theme: Indian Thali, hosted and prepared by the VCS’s awesome chef divas, Rachel Demuth, Jo Ingleby and Helen Lawrence.

It’s been ages since I’ve been out for Indian, and this was some of the tastiest, freshest and most interesting Indian food I’ve had in a long time: masala dosa, sambar, chutney, homemade paneer, peshwari naan and some new discoveries such as masala vada and khadi. (Rachel Demuth’s blog has a full recap of the evening with some amazing recipes).

One of the meal’s highlights came at the very end, and made me feel super glad I saved room to enjoy dessert: mango chilli sorbet. Tart, refreshing and with just a touch of heat from the chilli, this type of dessert is my favourite way to end a meal.

Beautiful Dessert

 

I’ve tried making mango sorbet at home but have never managed to make it taste like the mango sorbets and ice creams you get in Indian restaurants. So I picked Helen’s brain after the supper club, and she told me her secret: Kesar mangos! This yellowish variety of mango is popular in India and is what gives the mango-sorbet-of-my-dreams its characteristic flavour.

Fresh Kesar mangos are not easy to find in the UK, but tinned Kesar mangos are. And so, Helen’s parting gift to me was a big ol’ tin of pureed Kesar Mangos, offered on the condition that I make mango sorbet at home and write about it. So here I am.

Kesar Mango Pulp

The tinned Kesar mangos did not disappoint. They’re already sweetened (ingredients: mango, sugar, citric acid – nothing scary), so all I needed to do was blitz it in the Vitamix with some lime juice and ginger juice, mix in a finely diced red chilli, then churn in the ice cream maker. Pretty awesome.

The result was everything I hoped for. Arguably, I could have chopped my chillies a tad finer as they were detectable as “bits” in the sorbet, but this effect sort of grew on me – I liked the texture, and the sensation, like little pockets of heat encased in frozen mango awesomeness.

Mango Chilli Sorbet

5.0 from 2 reviews

Mango Chilli Sorbet
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8
 

A refreshing sorbet, recipe courtesy of Helen Lawrence from The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. Kesar mangoes are the best in this, but if you can’t find fresh ones, use tinned (omit the honey and sugar if the tinned mangoes are sweetened). To make ginger juice, grate fresh ginger and then use your hands to squeeze squeeze out the juice.
Ingredients
  • 85g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled & stoned (or 1 850g tin of sweetened Kesar Mangos)
  • 3 tablespoons ginger juice
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded & chopped
  • 100ml limejuice
  • 50ml honey

Instructions
  1. Place the mangoes, ginger juice, chilli, lime juice and honey into a blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9200) and puree until absolutely smooth. Add the sugar and buzz again until mixed.
  2. Transfer the puree into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers instructions. Freeze.
  3. When ready to eat, take the sorbet out of the freezer about ten minutes or so before you’re ready to eat it – this will make it much easier to scoop!

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 85g Calories: 111 Fat: 0.3 Carbohydrates: 29.1 Sugar: 25.5 Fiber: 1.3 Protein: 0.5 Cholesterol: 0

 

I am submitting this recipe to the dairy-free Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge hosted by Kavey Eats.