January recipes: Right angles

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In her new book, award-winning writer Nicola Graimes tells us how the right carbs can promote good health

Quick roast chicken with white bean & rosemary mash

Ingredients:

• Between six & eight chicken thighs on the bone, skin on
• Two red onions, halved and each cut into six wedges
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 large unwaxed lemon, halved
• Three bay leaves
• Two sprigs of fresh rosemary
• 300g/101⁄2 oz small vine-ripened tomatoes
• Sea salt and black pepper

For the white bean & rosemary mash
• 2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• 270ml/91⁄2 fl oz/scant 11⁄4 cups whole milk
• Three bay leaves
• 4 garlic cloves, peeled & halved 40g/11⁄2 oz/3 tbsp unsalted butter 2 tsp Dijon mustard
• 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 35 minutes

MAKES: 4

Much as I love potatoes, this herby white bean mash makes a fantastic right-carb alternative. You can either mash the beans roughly with a potato masher so they retain
a bit of texture, or blend using a stick blender into a smooth and creamy sauce. Chicken thighs are not only full of flavour, they’re much cheaper than breasts – try to buy organic, free-range, if you can.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place in a large roasting tin (pan). Toss the onions in the oil and place around the chicken. Squeeze over the lemon juice and cut the halves into chunks and place in the tin. Tuck in the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Roast for 20 minutes, then remove the rosemary and add the tomatoes and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the chicken is golden and cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the white bean and rosemary mash. Put all the ingredients, except the rosemary, in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. When it almost starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered with a lid, for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside for the flavours to infuse while the chicken is roasting.
When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf and either mash with a potato masher or blend using a stick blender until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the rosemary and warm through.

Serve the chicken with the tomatoes and onions, spooning over any juices from the tin, and the white bean mash on the side.

White fish with butternut & ginger mash

Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 3cm/11⁄2 in piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
• 4 thick hake fillets, or other sustainable firm white fish, such as haddock
• 20g/3⁄4 oz/11⁄2 tbsp butter sea salt and black pepper
• steamed long-stem broccoli and lime wedges, to serve

For the butternut & ginger mash
• 1kg/1lb 2oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
• Four garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
• 5cm/2 in piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into rounds
• 2 red jalapeño chillies, deseeded and diced
• 115ml/33⁄4 fl oz/scant 1⁄2 cup unsweetened drinking coconut milk
• juice of half a lime, plus extra if needed
• Two handfuls chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra to serve

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 15-20 minutes

SERVES: 12

all delicious, as are canned beans! This golden mash has an Asian feel thanks to the coconut, ginger, chilli and coriander leaves.

Method:

Make the mash. Put the squash in a saucepan with the garlic and ginger, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and pick out the ginger. Return the squash to the hot pan and add half the chilli, most of the coconut milk and the lime juice. Mash until smooth, adding the rest of the coconut milk, if needed. Season with salt and pepper and stir in three-quarters of the coriander leaves. Taste and add more lime juice if needed.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat, add the ginger matchsticks and fry for 2 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Season with salt & pepper. Add the remaining oil and the butter to the frying pan and heat over a high heat. Place the fish, skin-side down, in the pan, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 3/4 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden and you can see the flesh has cooked two-thirds of the way up. Turn the fish, baste with the buttery oil and cook for a further 2 minutes or until just done and the fish is opaque and flaky. Warm the mash if need be and spoon on to four serving plates. Top with the broccoli and fish and scatter over the crispy ginger, the remaining chilli and coriander leaves before serving.

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December recipes: The main event

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The festive period isn’t normally associated with healthy eating, but Dr Michelle Braude of nutrition practice The Food Effect, says it doesn’t have to be this way and that many of the foods we often associate with Christmas and New Year are actually very healthy if used in the right way.

Grilled Salmon & Baby Potatoes on a Bed of Greens & Barley

A showstopper of a dish that will leave your guests asking for more.

Ingredients:

• 1 whole side of salmon fillet (around 1kg), with skin removed
• 1kg baby potatoes, washed and cut in halves
• 8 cups mixed greens
• 250g cooked barley (or brown rice)
• 1 head of garlic
• 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
• ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
• ½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
• A third of a cup of balsamic vinegar
• Salt & pepper, to taste
• Balsamic glaze – for drizzling

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 40 minutes

SERVES: 4-6

Method:

For the salmon:

Heat oven to 200°C.

Toss baby potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, rosemary, salt and black pepper. Cut a 1/4 off the head of garlic horizontally, and wrap it in foil.

Place potatoes and garlic on a parchment lined baking tray and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

Coat the salmon with 2 tablespoons olive oil, soy sauce, dried mixed herbs and pepper. Place on another parchment lined baking sheet and place in the oven 20 minutes before the potatoes are ready. Roast salmon for 18-20 minutes.

For the dressing:

Blend together the balsamic vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, and squeezed out roasted garlic. If too thick add a bit of water.

Complete the dish:

Combine a few tablespoons of dressing with the cooked barley, and the rest with the mixed greens. Arrange greens on a platter. Sprinkle the barley over the greens. With a large spatula place the salmon on the greens and barley and place the baby potatoes all the way around the salmon. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the salmon to decorate.

Variation: You can also decorate with pomegranate seeds, flaked almonds or chopped spring onion

Christmas is not quite the same without homemade warm mince pies to enjoy. This granola inspired delicious recipe is bound to keep everyone happy using granola from Lizi’s Breakfast Range available from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado, Asda, Morrisons, Whole Foods, Co-Op, Booths and all good health stores.

Christmas Mince Pies with Lizi’s Original Granola Topping

These mince pies are a fun treat for all the family.

Ingredients:

• 1 whole side of salmon fillet (around 1kg), with skin removed
• 1kg baby potatoes, washed and cut in halves
• 8 cups mixed greens
• 250g cooked barley (or brown rice)• 1 head of garlic
• 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
• ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
• ½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
• A third of a cup of balsamic vinegar
• Salt & pepper, to taste
• Balsamic glaze – for drizzling

PREP: 30 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

MAKES: 18

Method:

To make the pastry, rub together the diced vegan butter into the plain flour. Once they are mixed together, mix in the golden caster sugar and a pinch of salt.

Combine the pastry into a ball – don’t add any liquids – and knead it briefly. The dough will be fairly firm, like a shortbread dough.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C.

Line 18 tin holes of two 12-hole shallow baking tins, pressing small (approximately walnut-sized) balls of pastry into each hole. Keep some of the pastry aside for the lids. Spread the pastry balls to make pie shaped cases and spoon the vegan mincemeat into the cases.

Roll out the remaining pastry for the lids. Use your star cutter (which has to be big enough to reach the sides of the pie cases) to create the pastry lids. If you’d rather use a different shaped cutter, ensure that the shapes reach the sides of the pie cases again.

Place the pastry lids on the pies, ensuring that they fit. Bake for 20 minutes until the pies are golden.

Leave the mince pies to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack. To serve, lightly dust with some icing sugar. The mince pies will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container.

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November recipes: food with heart

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A new cook book Food & Kindness is raising funds for Oxfordshire’s Sobell House hospice with help from local restaurants

Two of those featured are Oli’s Thai in Magdalen Road, Oxford and The White Hart in Fyfield.

Oli’s Thai is a neighbourhood restaurant with a well-deserved reputation for fantastic food, the Aubergine Curry has become the most popular dish in the restaurant and they say, don’t be scared to burn the edges, that’s where the flavour is

Aubergine Curry

from Oli’s Thai

Ingredients:

For the paste
• 1 tbsp coriander seeds
• Small pinch of cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp dried Dutch chillies, some seeds removed
• 75g lemongrass, cut thinly across
• 25g galangal, cut thinly across
• 1 tbsp table salt
• 1 tsp ground white pepper
• 35g garlic, peeled
• 25g shallots, roughly chopped
• 40g big red chillies

For the curry
• 2 aubergines
• 8 tbsp vegetable oil
• 190ml coconut milk
• 30ml water or stock
• 80g fine green beans, halved
• 2 spring onions, cut into 3cm chucks
• Handful of Thai basil
• 3 lime leaves, torn up
• 20g caster sugar
• 80ml coconut cream
• 50ml soy sauce

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 30 minutes

SERVES: 4

Method:

For the paste
Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a frying pan over a low heat until golden. Once cool, put them in a spice grinder with the dried Dutch chillies and blitz to a fine consistency. With a pestle and mortar, pound a small quantity of the lemongrass and galangal together until smooth, adding more until you have used them all. Add the salt and pepper, then the other ingredients one at a time, pounding the mixture to a fine consistency before adding the next. Finally, add the blitzed dry spices and mix well. If you are using a blender to make the paste, add all the fresh ingredients and blitz until fine. Then add the coriander and cumin seeds, chillies, salt and pepper.

For the curry
Preheat the oven to 180°c. Prepare the aubergines, cutting each one lengthways into 10 or 12 wedges. For each wedge, cut along the flesh making a deep incision nearly reaching the skin and repeat, leaving 1 to 2cm gaps between each cut. Put them onto a baking tray and drizzle with five tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until soft but still holding their shape. Don’t be alarmed if the edges burn slightly, this will give the finished curry extra flavour.

Put the remaining vegetable oil into a large pan on a low heat and add the curry paste. Cook the paste for a couple of minutes until you see the oil separate. Increase the heat and add the coconut milk, stock, green beans, spring onion, basil, lime leaves and sugar then cook for about 2 to 3 minutes while stirring continuously. Turn the heat down low, add the coconut cream and soy sauce, then simmer gently until the beans are cooked, which should take about 3 to 5 minutes.

Place the roasted aubergine wedges in a bowl and pour over the sauce. Garnish with basil leaves.

The White Hart in Fyfield is a charming country dining pub that puts great food and hospitality at its heart and what could be better than trying their Elderflower Crème Brûlée with Gooseberry Compote and if you’re feeling adventurous try the doughnuts too

Elderflower Crème Brûlée with Gooseberry Compote

from The White Hart, Fyfield

Ingredients:

For the crème brûlée
• 400ml double cream
• 35g caster sugar, plus a little extra to brûlée
• 120ml elderflower cordial
• 6 egg yolks

For the gooseberry compote
• 400g gooseberries
• 6 tbsp caster sugar
• 2 tbsp elderflower cordial

For the doughnuts (optional)
• 210ml tepid milk
• 50g unsalted butter, softened
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 100g caster sugar
• 10g fresh yeast (or 5g dried)
• 300g plain flour
• ½ tsp salt
• Vegetable oil, for frying

PREP: 15 minutes (plus 2hrs prooving)

COOKING: 30-40 minutes

SERVES: 6

Method:

For the crème brûlée
Preheat the oven to 150°c. Place the cream, sugar and cordial in a pan. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Briefly beat the egg yolks in a bowl, then pour in the cream mixture while still beating. Pass through a sieve into a jug. Pour the mixture into ramekins (approx. 70ml in each) and place in a deep roasting tin. Fill the roasting tin with boiling water halfway up the ramekins. Place on the bottom shelf of the oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until just set. Remove from the oven and let the ramekins stand in the water for 10 minutes, then take them out and leave to cool.

For the gooseberry compote
Place the gooseberries, sugar and elderflower cordial in a pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 minutes, just until the gooseberries start to soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For the doughnuts (optional)
Combine the milk, butter, eggs and 40g of the sugar. Place the yeast in a small bowl, then add a little of the milk mixture to form a smooth paste. Add this paste to the remaining milk mixture and whisk to combine. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually pour in the milk mixture, whisking until smooth. Cover the bowl with cling film and place the dough in a warm spot to prove for approximately 1 hour or until doubled in size. Take the dough out and knock it back to remove the air, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge until cold. Roll the cold dough into 15g balls and place them on greaseproof paper squares to prove for a final 30 minutes.

Place a large saucepan, one third filled with vegetable oil, over a medium heat until the oil reaches 170°c. Place the dough balls in the oil and cook for about 4 minutes, turning often, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towels. Once cooled slightly, roll the doughnuts in the remaining caster sugar.

To serve
Sprinkle a little caster sugar over the brûlée then heat with a blowtorch (or place under a hot grill) until the sugar bubbles and forms a caramel. Arrange the compote and the doughnuts artistically on the plate and we serve ours with raspberry ripple ice cream and fresh raspberries. Enjoy!

Food & Kindness, £15, and is available from Amazon, Waterstones and online from www.mezepublishing.co.uk

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October recipes: An apple a day…

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Did you know in the UK alone we have more than 2,500 varieties of apple? Enough for you to try a different one every day for more than seven years and what better day to start then on October 21st, Apple Day. Why not try these recipes to start with…

Gala Apple and Sausage Tray Bake

Ingredients:

• 1x 400g pack of pork sausages, cut in half
• 2 red onions, cut into wedges
• 2 Gala Apples, cut into wedges
• 1 bunch of sage
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 2 tbsp honey
• 2 tbsp whole grain mustard

Serve with creamy mashed potato

PREP: 10 minutes

COOKING: 30-45 minutes

SERVES: 2

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C

Add the sausage halves, onion and apple wedges to a large baking tray and scatter over the sage leaves

Whisk together the olive oil, honey and whole grain mustard in a small bowl and drizzle over the sausage, onion and apple mixture

Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and sticky. Serve with creamy mashed potato

Braeburn Toffee Apple Cupcake

Ingredients:

• 125g softened butter
• 125g soft brown sugar
• 2 eggs
• 225g self-raising flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp mixed spice
• 120g Greek yoghurt
• 110ml whole milk
• 130g diced Braeburn apple, peeled finely
• Cream cheese icing
• 125g butter
• 250g icing sugar
• 125g cream cheese
• Splash milk

For decoration

• 12 dehydrated apple slices
• 4 tbsp shop bought toffee sauce

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 15-20 minutes

SERVES: 12

Method:

Preheat oven to 180C

Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases

Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time

Sift in the flour, baking powder, spices and mix. Stir through the Greek yoghurt, milk and diced apple. Using a teaspoon, divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden. Place on a cooling rack

To make the cream cheese icing, add butter to a large mixing bowl and whisk until white and fluffy. Whisk in the icing sugar until combined, followed by the cream cheese – don’t over whisk or the cream cheese may split. Add a splash of milk if you feel the consistency needs adjusting

Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a large open nozzle and pipe a circle of icing on top of each cupcake

Finish each cupcake with a dehydrated apple slice and a drizzle of toffee sauce

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August recipes: Fabulous fish

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Sea for Yourself is encouraging us to cook with fresh fish caught in UK seas, so ‘see for yourself’ how healthy and easy it can be

Fish is one of the healthiest foods you can eat and by buying and cooking delicious seafood caught in English waters, shoppers are not only supporting one of the country’s most important industries, but can also take advantage of the science-backed health benefits that support all types of lockdown lifestyles – Omega-3 fats boost brain function and maintain heart health, vitamins reduce fatigue and improve skin and hair.

Adding just two portions of fish to your diet can have a big impact on daily life. Fish is also packed with protein which helps to maintain healthy muscles and muscle mass, helping you to stay fit.

Sea for Yourself is a campaign launched by Seafish, the public body that supports the £10bn UK seafood industry, in partnership with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to encourage people to cook with UK caught fish species. Try these tasty, nutritious recipes.

Mouthwatering Fishcake

Ingredients:

• 1 pack smoked mackerel or equivalent cooked white fish
• Same weight mashed potato (approx 300g)
• Small handful chopped spring onions and parsley (optional)
• 2 eggs
• 100g plain flour
• 100g breadcrumbs
• Salt and pepper
• sunflower oil or any light mild oil for shallow frying (optional)

PREP: 10-12 minutes

COOKING: 26-30 minutes

SERVES: 4

Method:

1. Mash mashed potato with cooked white fish or smoked mackerel fillets.

2. Add onion/herbs and seasoning for flavour.

3. Shape or use cutters to get the desired effect.

4. Whisk the eggs and lay out in a bowl alongside a bowl of flour and a bowl of breadcrumbs.

5. Gently flour, egg and breadcrumb each fishcake.

6. Tidy up the shape if need be. Bake for 20 minutes or shallow fry for 10, five on each side.

7. Serve with healthy veg/mayo/tomato sauce.

Spicy garlic and tomato haddock

Ingredients:

• 750g salad tomatoes
• 1 tin chopped tomatoes
• 600g haddock
• Handful of Kalamata Greek olive
• Bunch of fresh parsley
• 4 cloves of garlic
• 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
• Salt & pepper

PREP: 5-10 minutes

COOKING: 10 minutes

SERVES: 5

Method:

1. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to a large frying pan on a low heat. Add the sliced garlic, red pepper flakes & anchovies (optional).

2. Slice the tomatoes into quarters and pit the olives. Add to the frying pan with a splash (100ml) of water and season with salt and pepper.

3. Once the tomatoes have formed a sauce, add the chopped tomatoes and 200ml of water.

4. Place the haddock (pre-sliced into 5 portions) on top of the sauce to poach. Cover with a lid for 6 minutes.

5. After 6 minutes, the haddock should be cooked and ready to go. Serve with rice or side of your choice and top with chopped fresh parsley and red pepper flakes.

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Eat better in lockdown

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Food and drink have been one of the few pleasures we have still been able to enjoy during this lockdown and although the odd treat is fine, many of us are finding ourselves eating and drinking more, and have gained a few unwanted inches.

Commercial weight loss programs don’t work long term, with most achieving limited and/or temporary weight loss. So here are a few practical tips to eat better in lockdown.

1. Build your food environment.

The evidence is the rise in obesity is linked with our obesogenic environment. Be aware of the foods around you, and what you put on your shopping list, if you buy those Doritos chances are they will get eaten!

Abi Barclay-Watt, nutritionist

2. Kitchen opening hours.

If you easily succumb to snack cravings, try and stick to 3 meals a day. If you do need a snack have something nutritious on hand. Have a big fruit salad or veg sticks and nuts easily available. Meals can then be social focal points and it will mean less clearing up too!

3. Eating speed.

It has been shown that slower eaters release less of the hunger hormone than faster eaters. So, eat mindfully with your senses and chew well.

4. Portion size.

An obvious one, try and only cook what you need. Try and fill at least a third of your plate with veg.

5. Distraction activity

Are you really hungry, or just bored or thirsty? Try drinking some water first and wait before you grab that snack. Find another activity you enjoy to fill that craving, go for a walk, get lost in a good book etc.

6. Be kind to yourself.

There is nothing wrong in indulging occasionally and it is important to acknowledge resisting what your appetite wants can be a challenge. Try applying the 80:20 rule – eat healthily 80% of the time, it can make you aware of how much better you feel when you eat well but allow yourself the food you enjoy.

Find out more

For more information see my website and please do email any questions

July recipes: Love those leaves

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Watercress is healthy, delicious and packed full of goodness – one 85g bag provides more than the recommended daily amount of vitamin C to help boost your immune system. It’s in season until October so get creating now!

Grilled mackerel & watercress salad with orange and chilli

Ingredients:

• 4 mackerel fillets
• ½ tsp ground coriander
• ½ tsp ground black pepper
• 2 oranges
• 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
• ½ tsp Dijon mustard
• ½ tbsp good quality honey
• 85g watercress
• ½ a small red onion, finely sliced

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 5 minutes

SERVES: 4 as a starter, 2 as a main

Method:

1. Pre-heat the grill to medium-high.

2. Zest half an orange and mix well with the coriander, black pepper, and half the chopped chilli.

3. Lightly score the skin of the mackerel fillets with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut into the flesh. Press the spice mixture into the skin.

4. Segment the oranges. Cut off the top and bottom, then cut away any peel and pith using a paring knife. Holding the peeled orange over a bowl, use the paring knife to cut each segment away from the centre. Put the segments to one side and squeeze the remaining orange to release any juice.

5. Measure 2 tbsp of the orange juice into a small bowl, then mix the with mustard, honey and remaining chopped chilli.

6. Place the mackerel fillet skin side up on a grill tray. Grill for 4-5 minutes or until cooked through with crisp skin.

7. While the fish is cooking, divide the watercress between four plates. Scatter with the orange segments and sliced red onion. Drizzle with the orange dressing and top with the grilled mackerel. Serve immediately.

Seared beef & watercress salad with spiced charred pineapple, asparagus and chilli

Ingredients:

• 240g sirloin steak
• 2 x 85g bags watercress
• ½ a pineapple peeled, cored and cut into 6 wedges
• 2 tbs caster sugar
• 60ml olive oil
• 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
• Salt and pepper

For the spiced dressing:
• 1 tsp coriander seeds
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 shallot, finely sliced
• 1 red chilli, finely sliced
• 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 3 tbsp water
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• Salt and pepper

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

SERVES: 4

Method:

1. First make the dressing. Gently dry fry the coriander seeds until fragrant, then add in all of the remaining ingredients except the olive oil and salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes, then set aside and allow to cool. Once cooled, remove the bay leaves and pour the olive oil into the mixture in s steady stream, whisking constantly. Taste and add seasoning.

2. Pre-heat the grill to a medium-high setting. Prepare your pineapple by combining the caster sugar and olive oil with a pinch of salt. Brush this mix over the surface of the pineapple wedges, then place chargrill for roughly 10 minutes, turning once, or until the outside of the pineapple is charred and sticky. Allow to cool slightly before serving as the sugary outside will be very hot!

3. While the pineapple is grilling, pre-heat a frying pan (or use the barbecue) ready for the steaks. Season the outside of your sirloin well with salt and pepper and add in a splash of oil to the pan. Once the oil is smoking hot, pan fry the steaks for a few minutes on each side (depending on how you like your steak), then remove and allow the beef to rest.

4. Cook your asparagus by blanching for two minutes in boiling salted water, then drain well and set aside until you build your salad. If cooking the asparagus ahead of time, make sure it is cooled in cold water quickly after cooking so that it does not become soggy and brown.

5. Cut your rested steak into thick slices. Add a good pile of watercress onto each of your four plates, then add in the charred pineapple and asparagus. Top with the seared beef and drizzle generously with the spicy pickle dressing. Serve and enjoy!

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April recipes: Close to nature

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Qualified natural chef Jo Keyes shares some wholesome recipes devised in her Time To Nourish kitchen for body, mind & soul

Homemade granola

Ingredients:

• 150g mixed nuts chopped
• 200g coconut flakes
• 200g rolled jumbo oats (gluten free)
• 50g pumpkin seeds
• 50g sunflower seeds
• 25g golden flaxseeds
• 2tbsp chia seeds
• 100g unsweetened dried fruit chopped if necessary eg raisins, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, chopped apricots (optional)
• 1tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 medium banana
• 6tbsp apple puree
• 100ml melted coconut oil

Homemade granola is a great way to cut out some of the nasties many of the shop bought versions have. Many are often high in sugar and use unhealthy fat as well as unnecessary fillers. Homemade versions can be customised to personal taste and be full of nutritious and satisfying ingredients.

Nuts and seeds add texture and flavour and are high in protein and micronutrients like calcium, zinc and magnesium. Oats are full of soluble fibre, iron and folate. The coconut oil adds the healthy fats making this a great recipe to support a healthy heart to help balance blood sugar.

MAKES: 11 (80g portions)

NOTES: Enjoy with your favorite milk or use to top, chia pudding, overnight oats or fruit and yoghurt

ALLERGENS: Nuts, Sulphur Dioxide (in preservatives esp dried fruit)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 175°C.

Place the chopped nuts in a mixing bowl and add the coconut flakes, oats, seeds, dried fruit and cinnamon.

Melt the coconut oil and add to a small blender with the banana and apple puree and blend until smooth.

Mix the puree into the oaty mixture with a wooden spoon until everything is well coated.

Tip the mixture onto a lined baking tray and spread out in a thin even layer (you may need to use two trays).

Bake for 40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to get an even colour, or until the mixture is crunchy and golden brown.

Remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container or kilner jar.

Thai slaw

Ingredients:

• 200g bean shoots
• 2 small carrots peeled
• 1 green pepper de-seeded
• 2 spring onions

Dressing

• 1tbsp tamari
• 1tbsp fish sauce
• 1tsp honey
• 1 clove garlic crushed
• 1tsp fresh ginger grated
• 2tbsp avocado oil

Garnish

• Chopped cashews toasted
• Sesame seeds toasted

This crisp and fresh slaw is reminiscent of a pad Thai. The raw vegetables bring the benefits of digestive enzymes which are often lost during cooking and the variety of colours bring different phytonutrients with antioxidant properties.

SERVES: 2

ALLERGENS: Fish, Nuts – Cashew, Sesame

Method:

Prepare the vegetables by cutting or grating into thin julienne strips and then mix together in a large bowl.

Whisks dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Add the dressing to the prepared vegetables and mix until well coated.

To serve add to a bowl of mixed green leaves add some cooked chick, fish or grains and top with garnish.

Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

• 140g mixed leafy greens (eg spinach, rocket, kale, watercress)
• 100g mix non leafy greens/fruit (eg cucumber, celery, broccoli, apple, pear, mango)
• 20g avocado
• Thick slice of fresh ginger
• 2tsp fresh lemon  or lime juice
• Pinch salt (Himalayan or pure sea salt)
• 300-400mls liquid (eg water, coconut water, nut milk)
• 3 ice cubes

Optional add ins:

• Superfood powders (eg wheatgrass, spirulina, chlorella, maitake)
• Rolled oats
• Nuts or nut butter
• Seeds (eg pumpkin, sunflower, flax, chia)
• Protein powder

SERVES: Makes 2 -3 servings

Method:

  1. Chop non-leafy greens into cubes and de-stalk leafy greens if required (eg kale or cavalo nero).
  2. Place all the ingredients into a high powered blender and blended until smooth, add more liquid if required.
  3. Pour into glasses and enjoy.
  4. Store in a glass air-tight container in the fridge and consume within 48 hours or freeze in portions for consumption later.
Quinoa Tabbouleh

Ingredients:

• 200g uncooked quinoa
• 500ml boiling vegetable stock
• ½ cucumber, de-seeded and fine diced
• 3 large tomatoes, de-seeded and fine diced
• 28g bunch parsley, finely chopped
• 28g bunch mint, stalks removed and leaves finely chopped
• 4 spring onions, finely sliced
• 2tbsp lemon juice
• ¼tsp ground allspice
• ¼tsp black pepper
• ¼tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼tsp ground cloves
• ¼tsp ground nutmeg
• ¼tsp ground ginger
• 100ml avocado or olive oil
• 50g pomegranate seeds
• 30g flaked almonds

A twist on the traditional Lebanese dish which uses bulgur wheat this recipe is a great alternative to pasta salad at a BBQ or the perfect side to any meal. The use of quinoa in this tabbouleh provides a plant-based complete protein which is also gluten free.

SERVES: 4-6

NOTES: Store in an airtight container for 4-5 days

ALLERGENS: Nuts (almonds)

Method:

Add the quinoa and the vegetable stock to a saucepan and bring to the boil, cover and simmer on a low heat for 10-12 mins until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. Remove from the heat and spread out onto a baking sheet to cool to ensure it does not overcook.

Meanwhile chop all the herbs and vegetables and place in a large bowl.

Make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, spices and oil in a small jug.

Bring the tabbouleh together by adding the cold quinoa to the vegetables and herbs along with the dressing, mixing well to combine.

Stir though some of the pomegranate seeds and flaked almonds reserving a few to garnish.

Serve with bean burgers and relish or as a side to meat skewers or grilled fish.

 

See our other recipes

Barking to baking

Round & About

food

Cook up some peanut butter cookies for your four-legged friends!

The award-winning team behind The Big Bakes are helping dog owners across the nation turn Barking to Baking with their new free online classes as part of a mini series helping owners make simple dog treats at home.

The Big Bakes is the UK’s first and only live baking competition, where guests take part in live bake off events in fully decked out marquees in London and Birmingham. Whilst we are all isolating at home, they are hosting an array of remote tutorials across their instagram and facebook channels to get the nation baking.

Keeping us humans company during our new indoor time is hard work for our four legged friends, so to say thanks, homeowners across the country can now bake their canine companions some special treats to say thank you.

Eloise Frank, co-founder at The Big Bakes said: “My dogs Luna and Freddie have provided me unconditional love and friendship, making life in lockdown infinitely more manageable which is why it is great to be able to return the favour and spend time together baking their favourite dog treats!”

The new mini pet baking series, available now, will see recipes launched twice weekly for an array of pets in the home. The baking team will be sharing two pet treat bake-at-home classes each week across their social media channels, airing on IGTV every Monday and Friday – make sure you look out for the cuteness overload making a guest visit in the Peanut Butter Dog Cookie recipe airing today, Monday, 6th April. All recipes use day-to-day ingredients and standard kitchen equipment found in the home.

To take part in these digital sessions, all people need to do is visit @Thebig_bakes on Instagram or The Big Bakes on Facebook where they will find a list of all the necessary ingredients needed for their up-coming class. And the good news is, there are also plenty of free baking classes on the channel for us humans too. Once people have completed their home made creations, they can share a photograph with @Thebig_bakes, in order to be in the running for a prize. Each week, the team will choose the winning amateur baker, who will receive vouchers to attend a live session later in the year.

The Big Bakes is all about bringing people together through a love of baking (and eating!) so they thought why not extend this to all members of the household, including those with four legs as well as two!

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Cookies  

Ingredients:

 ⅔ cup or 85 grams fruit puree e.g. pumpkin, banana, apple  

• ¼ cup or roughly 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter (Do not use peanut butter spread that contains sugar, or additives, this should be an all natural whole nut butter suitable for animal consumption e.g. Meridian or Pip and Nut as Xylitol, the sweetener most often used in peanut butter with sugar is toxic to dogs).  

• 2 large eggs  

• 3 cups or 384 grams plain flour wholemeal or rye  

Method:

Begin by preheating your oven to 180c degrees and line a large flat baking tray with baking parchment or a silicone baking mat.  

2  Take your large mixing bowl and crack in your eggs and then add the peanut butter and fruit puree. Now mix the wet ingredients until combined using an electric whisk with the paddle attachment or with a wooden spoon. Remember to give it a good mix if you are using a spoon! 

3  Once combined, gradually add your flour about a quarter at a time and fold into the wet mixture. If you are using an electric whisk then beat this slowly until just incorporated. Then repeat to add the rest of the flour quarter by quarter until the dough is no longer sticky.  

4  Now, form your dough into a ball TIP: you may need to use your hands to do this, so dust them with some flour first.  

5  Then, once your dough is bound together in a ball, dust a work surface with flour and then knead the cookie dough (use your knuckles to press firmly and turn the dough a few times) until it comes together. If you are finding the dough to be sticky just sprinkle on some more flour. 

6  Then, using a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin.  

7  Once rolled, take your cookie cutters (you can also make these by choosing some stencil shapes online and printing and cutting these out using a piece of card) and cut out your desired shapes and place onto the prepared baking sheet leaving a little space between each cookie.  

8  Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until they start to turn a golden brown and they are firm to touch.   

9  Once ready, leave to cool completely before treating your 4 legged friend to a delicious peanut butter treat! 

See our other recipes (for humans)

British Pie Week

Round & About

food

Never has the saying ‘nice as pie’ been so apt – who doesn’t love a tasty pastry pie and what better time to indulge than in British Pie Week. 

With so many great recipes to choose from all you need to do is decide whether it’s savoury, sweet, crumble or pasty – why not make a different one every day this week and get all members of the family involved in the cooking too? 

According to the most common internet search results, here’s our top 10, love them or loathe them:- 

1: Cottage Pie 

2: Fish Pie 

3: Shepherd’s Pie 

4: Chicken & Leek Pie 

5: Chicken and Mushroom Pie 

6: Steak and Ale Pie 

7: Meat and Potato Pie 

8: Pork Pie 

9: Steak and Kidney Pie 

10: Corned Beef Pie 

We asked our star baker Christine Wallace to share a pie recipe with us so why not put this on the menu this week? 

Left over turkey, leek and mushroom pie 

 

• You will need an 8” (20cm) Pie dish.
• 500gm block of butter puff pastry.
• 1 large leek – cut into large chunks
• 120g button mushrooms
• 300g cooked turkey meat
• 1 tsp dried thyme
• 1 tblsp oil
• 50g butter
• 50g plain flour
• 1 pint milk
• ½ tsp onion salt
• White pepper
• Beaten egg for glaze

Method 

• Place the oil and butter in a pan and add the leek, gently sweat for 5 minutes but do not brown.

• Add the mushrooms and thyme, cook for a minute.

• Stir in the flour and gently cook for a minute.

• Slowly add the milk until you have a nice thick sauce, add the turkey meat and cook for a couple of minutes.

• Add the onion salt and a little pepper then pour into your pie dish

• Roll out the pastry and cover the pie, sealing well and fluting the edges.

• Brush with beaten egg and cook for 30 minutes or until the pastry is well risen and golden brown.

N.B. If you are making the pie to freeze, do NOT add the turkey meat until the leek and mushroom sauce is completely cold. Use fresh puff pastry if you are freezing, not frozen!