New York Style PancakesRead More
So one of my top five comfort go-to meals it a good old creamy spoon of scrambled eggs. It no doubt started as on family tradition to sit down to a plate of fluffy yellow eggs on a Sunday night in front of the fire after bath time. For some reason eggs were always seen as a light supper option after a heavy roast lunch. So whether its after a hard day at work, a cold rainy evening or a decadent weekend breakfast these always fit the bill.
Having gone dairy free earlier in the year I wanted to look at some alternative options for making a creamy scrambled egg. I won't ever use margarine in my recipes as I personally believe its better to have some organic grass fed butter than it is to have the essentially the waste product of crude oil. However, for those of you that would really like to stay away from butter too I found a couple of tablespoons of bone broth makes a great substitution.
- 2 free range, organic eggs
- 3 tbsp bone broth
- selection of vegetables of your choice or serve on some gluten free toast.
- Add the bone broth into a non-stick heavy bottomed milk pan.
- Crack the eggs into the pan and break the yolks using either a wooden fork or plastic spatula.
- Stir the eggs continuously over a low heat until the mixture begins to turn opaque and firm.
- Only once the eggs are cooked should you add the salt and pepper. If you add the pepper beforehand you can turn the eggs grey which can look rather unappetising!
Sit back, relax and enjoy the comfort of this creamy dish!
Sometimes there is nothing more indulgent than a lazy, late breakfast; although of course this can take many different forms. Whether you are a breakfast in bed person, going out to your favourite cafe by the sea or wrapping up a picnic to go and enjoy under a tree. Some of my favourite memories of when I was younger was when my dad would come and wake us up at the crack of dawn and take us to a field with an amazing view and we could cook up sausages on a gas stove and eat them out the back of our car. Quite simple when you think about it but it was a little adventure and there is something about hot fresh food outside that tastes just so much better. The heady mix of fresh air, the sound of the trees and food that you know hasn't come far from where you're standing almost gives you a feeling of being linked with nature in some way.
So I'm not saying I go to all the trouble to go for a breakfast picnic every weekend but there are ways to treat yourself just as much. Take 2 minutes to think about what would put a smile on your face? Lounging around in your favourite pjs and cashmere socks, re-reading your favourite novel whilst tucking into a plate of creamy scrambled eggs or maybe its simply sitting outside with a bowl of tropical fruit thinking about the lovely summer holiday you have just had. For me I like to feel like I've earned a good breakfast; long windy walk on the beach or a soggy run through the park and back for a hot breakfast in front of the aga and a hot shower ...just heaven!
My go to special breakfast used to be Eggs Florentine so I have devised something a little different and not so heavy to keep all those tastebuds tantalised and you left feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
You will need:
- 2 fresh free range eggs (see my recipe for sweet potato toasts in the Breakfast section)75g
- 75g gram flour (chickpea flour)
- 85 ml water
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- Himalayan pink salt
- Mix of coriander, mint and parsley
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 tbsp pumpkin & sunflower seeds
- squeeze of lemon
- 1/4 courgette
- handful of spinach
- a few green beans
- a few slices of serrano ham or smoked salmon (optional)
- You need to start off my making the "pancakes" although they are crisp and savoury so really more like a flat bread. Mix together the gram flour, chopped rosemary, salt, pepper and water - this should resemble a thick batter.
- Heat some coconut/avocado oil in a pan and ladle a spoonful of mixture for each pancake. These should take shape of an American style pancake. Wait for bubbles to emerge in the middle of the mixture and flip over cooking for another minute or so until golden brown. Set aside.
- Cut your vegetables into equal sized pieces (use whatever is seasonal here doesn't need to be specific) add to the pan you had your pancakes in and add a little coconut oil and a few tablespoons of water. Be careful the pan is hot so the water might make it splatter slightly.
- Turn up the heat so the water is boiling through the vegetables, evaporating and leaving the vegetables to sweat in the coconut oil. Take off the heat and stir in small bunch of spinach, herbs, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Leave to one side whilst you cook the eggs.
- Like I did with the sweet potato toasts. Add a tsp of himalayan pink salt to a deep pan of boiling water, turn down the heat so the bubbles do not disrupt the egg. Break your egg into a ramekin dish and lower the egg into the water one at a time - this allows you to get your egg closer to the water without burning your fingers - you are not lowering the ramekin into the water just the egg. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and leave for four minutes.
- Whilst the eggs are poaching blend together the avocado, seeds, lemon juice, herbs and a dribble of avocado oil, salt & pepper. You may need to thin this out slightly and I just tend to add a tablespoon or so of water to do this.
- To serve place your pancakes on the plate, stacking them your zingy vegetables, poached eggs and of course some of the herb-tactic creamy avocado sauce. A side of Serrano or prosciutto go really well with this dish too.
So go on take half an hour for yourself, enjoy that lazy morning and show yourself that you are enough with an oeuf!
You really couldn’t ask for anything easier to make! You will need a good quality high speed blender to make this however, once done it will store in your fridge for up to three months although if you’re anything like me; it wont have the chance to last that long. Now obviously you could have this as alternative to peanut butter on a slice of gluten free toast but as I don’t tend to eat gluten free bread either I use this as a protein boost in my smoothies as well as the base for my hummus! You will need:
· 200g roasted cashew nuts
· ½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
Don’t be tempted to add oil to this – you will not need it! Just leave the processor running and you will see at the cashew mixture warms that the oils soon leach out making the paste smooth and almost runny.
There are a huge number of recipes for these out there – all very much a variation of the same. They are not rocket science however, I always have a batch sitting in my fridge as a great alternative should I want something a little sweet with a cup of tea in the afternoon. These are also a life saver when you get to the 3pm slump at your desk!
· 110g raw cashew nuts soaked over night
· 25g desiccated coconut and more for dusting
· 1 tsp coconut oil
· 2 tbsp chia seeds
· 2 tbsp cacao nibs
· 3tbsp cacao powder
· 150 soaked medjool dates
· sprinkle of himlayan pink salt and organic cayenne pepper.
1. Having soaked the dates and the cashew nuts simply place all the above ingredients into a high speed food processor and blend for a good 3-4 minutes until you have a smooth almost truffle like texture.
2. Roll into bite size balls and then roll in additional coconut to coat.
3. I keep half of these in the freezer and half in the fridge.
On a side note don’t be fooled that these are a healthy snack – yes they are not processed and they are a great source of energy and fibre but use sparingly! Eat mindfully and enjoy!
There’s nothing I love more than watching kids get involved and excited about being in the kitchen. Looking back at my childhood those were some of my favourite days, time spent with my dad often just watching and learning as he created these culinary masterpieces, watching as he stressed when the hollandaise split or picking up his finger when he chopped it off making coleslaw one day – TRUE STORY! I still remember to this day sitting around the family room table learning about a classic bouquet garnet, the basics of a good béchamel, stroking the front cover of our musty old version of Larousse Gastrominque like it held some kind of magical spells. Obviously, I was the stirring master as well as a perfect little assistant to shell all those quail’s eggs for a dinner party; at the time thinking I was so clever but actually just having the right sized hands for doing such a fiddly little job. With a gorgeous little niece and nephew now in tow I revel in watching the cycle start all over again; my niece Marnie makes a mean scrambled egg and Jasper has already dressed his first Pheasant!
So a few years back when I was running the hotel in Lamu inevitably our busiest and my favourite time of year was Christmas. Having families with children wanting to re-create their traditions on the island was heaven for me and often enabled me to relive some of my most cherished – most of which are baking related- traditions. One year we had a wonderful family come to stay and a little girl who then was just five just loved spending time in the kitchen with their Chef Albert. We made her a little apron and there was no stopping her from there on in. One day we spent an hour or so making mince pies for the family on Christmas Eve and to this day it’s one of my happiest memories. Having recently moved back to the UK I had the chance to meet up with this family once again and reminisce on the giggles we had in the Kenyan sun. Some five years later Flora – my little Christmas helper was somewhat grown up but I hoped she still remembered and would appreciate a cake or 2. So these were made in her honor!
A few years back I was known for making a rather good red velvet cupcake so this is a healthier take on those – still moist, light delicious and full of antioxidants what’s not to love:
· 340 g coconut sugar
· 80g dark chocolate (at least 80%)
· 3 free range eggs
· 225 ml olive oil
· 300g cooked vacuum packed organic beetroots (not in vinegar!)
· 1 tsp vanilla bean extract
· 65g raw organic cacao powder
· 200g almond flour
· 1.5 tsp gluten free baking powder
· ¼ tsp Himalayan pink salt
1. Pre heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Drain your beetroots and place them in a food processor and blend.
3. Melt the dark chocolate over a double-boiler stirring all the time to ensure the chocolate doesn’t burn.
4. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and oil thoroughly.
5. Slowly whisk in the beetroot, melted chocolate and vanilla bean paste.
6. Now slowly add the cacao powder, almond flour and baking powder, gently folding in the dry ingredients until all incorporated into the batter.
7. Now spoon the mixture into your cupcake cases – I find this mixture makes about 24 if you use an ice-cream scoop to measure.
8. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 25 minutes or until the top of the cupcake springs back at you.
9. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling tray to rest.
As these were a treat for children they were topped with cream-cheese frosting, freeze dried strawberries, some lime zest, gold leaf and some homemade chocolate swirls that I made with cacao powder, coconut oil and maple syrup. However, you can top these with a variety of different healthy frostings. Even if you blend a cup of soaked raw cashew nuts with a cup of water and some vanilla paste this makes a great cashew nut cream that goes really well with this type of cake!
I have to be honest – this is an adaptation of one of my favourite (as I have MANY!) Nigella recipes. It’s a cake I make often mainly because at home we tend to have some variation of Satsuma or Clementine sitting looking a little sorry for itself in the bottom of the fruit bowl. I made it once and the response from the cake connoisseur (and chief taster – my dad!) was so positive that it was added into the book of favourites alongside my sister’s Lemon Drizzle and my mum’s semolina shortbread.
This cake is so incredibly easy to make is gluten and dairy free and I have substituted the white cane sugar for coconut nectar to cut out the refined sugar element to this cake. It does change the colour of the cake slightly but if anything adds to the flavour and still got all-star rave reviews! So here we have it:
· 3 Clementines
· 6 large eggs
· 225g coconut sugar
· 250g ground almonds
· 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
(you can also make a lemon version using 3 lemons and increasing the sugar to 250g)
1. Place the clementines in a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer for 2 hours. Again this is where an Aga is wonderful if you have one – just pop into the baking over for a couple of hours.
2. Drain the water and leave the clementines to cool slightly before cutting them in half and removing the pips. Place the fruit into a food processor and pulse into a bright and vibrant puree and enjoy the Paddington bear-esque fumes that follow!
3. Preheat your oven to 180°C (Nigella says 190 but I don’t like it to go crisp on top so this is a personal preference for me.) Grease and line a springform tin or if you’re lazy like me use those wonderful liners you can get from Lakeland.
4. Then add all the other ingredients to the mixer and blitz. It’s really as easy as that.
5. Then pour the mixture into the tin and place in the middle of the oven for an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Keep an eye on the top and cover with foil if needed.
6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before removing it from the tin. Slice and serve with a fresh pot of Assam.
I made this cake as a treat for my dad a few weeks back – the last one apparently was the best one I have made yet – so good in fact that when I walked in the sitting room to join him for a cup of tea there was a rather large dollop of creamy smooth crème fraiche nestling the side of his plate. I did explain to him this completely defeated the object of a dairy free cake however, the smile that spread across his face I couldn’t argue with him – he was in food heaven and apparently the combination rocks!
Also known as regular stock this has come back into fashion in a big way in the last year or two. Having been brought up with every roast chicken carcass being instantly covered with water before left over vegetable peelings being sprinkled over the top and half the freezer being filled with this otherwise dubious looking liquid, I always tended to think this is what most people do. Evidently not….! My dad has always made killer soups hence the need for some good quality stock; having it drummed into us that homemade soup cures everything and it would seem they were well and truly onto something here.
Other than being a nutrient dense base for many meals I also love how it allows you to make more meals for essentially the parts that you would throw away. It suddenly makes an £8 organic chicken look like great value for money. The stock that I made in the photo was with some gorgeous juicy bones that I picked up from the butcher – most give these away for free and will even saw them up for you so they can fit into the pan.
What you’ll need:
· either a chicken carcass or some beef bones
· 1 tbsp black peppercorns ( i tend to leave these out on a chicken stock)
· half an onion
· few cloves of garlic
· 5-6 bay leaves
· vegetable peelings (root vegetables are particularly good as well as those shriveled bendy carrots that hide in the bottom draw of your fridge.
· Chopped up – left over celery.
· NB do not ever salt a broth or stock as all the flavours get concentrated, you want a stock to be a lovely base to which you can add different tastes to later.
1. Firstly sweat off your vegetables on a medium heat.
2. Add the carcass or bones, peppercorns and bay leaves covering with cold water.
3. Bring the stock to a boil and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
4. With the beef stock I then placed in the simmering oven of the Aga for 2 days! These really helped the collagen and marrow of the bones break down and leach into the liquid leaving me with the most flavour-some, glossy delicious stock. However, I am fully aware no one wants an electricity bill for doing that in a conventional oven but the longer you are able to leave it the better. Low heat is perfect. From this point of view chicken stock is easier to make as the bones break down faster and you can make a good quality stock in a few hours.
5. Once your stock has cooled simply strain through a sieve and freeze in portions or in ice cube trays for homemade stock cubes.
If you are making this as a bone broth to drink on its own I would definitely stick to the beef bones; not only does it have more marrow etc to impart into the water but it has a better flavour profile to be consumed on its own than the chicken – just my opinion of course.
I tend to be a big fan of batch cooking and always try to have some kind of base tomato or Bolognese sauce in the freezer. One pack of mice will easily do four portions for me and then you can use that base to make lots of different meals; whether it is a traditional Bolognese on a bed of courgetti, lasagna, add some different beans, lentils and a few extra spices and you have a great chili… the list goes on. On this particular day I arrived home late from a grueling day of interviews in London. As usual the only thing I had eaten all day was my smoothie in the morning, and a bliss-ball and banana that I had popped into my handbag – adamant that I wasn’t going to fall into the trap of having to just pop into a well known coffee shop for a quick snack. So arrived home got my little proportioned pack out of the freezer and started rummaging through my vegetable supply for added crunch, vitamins and flavour. So easy but absolutely hit the spot for a little comfort food and much needed nutrients.
· 1 onion
· 3 cloves garlic
· 2 sticks of celery (the inside left over bit is the best for this!)
· 1 carrot
· organic tomato puree
· 1 carton of plum or cherry tomatoes
· 1 250g packet of organic lean mince
· 2 homemade stick cubes or 1 shop bought
· 2 bay leaves
· 2 tsp dried oregano
· salt & pepper to taste
1. Dice your onions finely and crush your garlic, using the back of a cook’s knife to make into a puree with a little salt. Add to a heavy bottomed dish (big Le Creuset fan!) with a little avocado oil and sweat off until beautifully soft and translucent.
Note: The key to any well cooked sauce for me is slow cooked onions and garlic so really time your time here. Any burnt onion is just going to give you a bitter taint to the whole sauce.
2. Next add your celery and carrots, cover with a lid and leave on a low heat for a good ten minutes.
3. When you return, remove the lid and turn up the heat adding your mince to the pan, using a wooden spoon to separate and the tendrils of meat ensuring they brown evenly.
4. When the meat looks sealed add a good 2 tbsp of tomato puree and mix this through.
5. Next add your tomatoes – I try to stay away from tins where possible but there are so many tomatoes you can find in tetra packs or jars these days.
6. Stir in your stock cubes, whole bay leaves (remember to remove later) salt, pepper and oregano.
7. If you are not sensitive to dairy I have traditional placed the skin to a block of parmesan in here – gives a wonderful added infusion to the flavour but like the bay leaves you must remember to remove later.
8. If cooking in the Aga, I place in the baking oven and leave for a good couple of hours.
9. Either way I would suggest either popping in to the oven on a low heat or keep on the hob simmering for a good hour.
Now you have a delicious, tangy, rich Bolognese that you can serve and eat straight away or freeze for a base of a meal at a later date. As mentioned before this particular dish I simply stirred through some broad beans, chopped fine beans and green and yellow zucchini and left to cook for 10 minutes until vegetables has softened slightly.
I had guests over for dinner so accompanied these juicy skewers with some wild rice cooked in coconut milk to appease those manly appetites! Along with the tang and spice of the mango salsa and the cool crunch of the salad this is a truly satisfying, fresh and tasty meal.
Makes 8 kebabs:
· 32 raw organic prawns
· 2 zucchini
· 1 red onion
· 1 yellow pepper
· 1 red pepper
· 8 bamboo skewers
· ½ cup of rice per person
· ½ cup water per person
· ½ cup coconut milk per person
· sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt
For the salsa
· 1 mango
· cherry plum tomatoes
· ¼ red onion
· big handful coriander
· ½ tsp chili flakes
· juice of half a lime
For the salad
· 2 carrots
· 5 spears broccolini
· 2 tbsp pumkin seeds
· ¼ cucumber
· 1 small pot natural coconut yoghurt
· 1 tsp garlic powder
· small sprig of mint roughly chopped
1. Firstly take the zucchini, peppers and onions and chop into equal sized chunks and place in a roasting plan with a drizzle of avocado oil. Cook for 15 minutes at 180°C, just to take the edge of ensuring that you are not overcooking the prawns by softening the vegetables.
2. Once the vegetables are in the oven, measure out your rice adding in the same amount of boiling water as rice and then the same amount of coconut milk again as well as a sprinkle of salt. Do not stir the rice simply place a lid on and cook on a medium to low heat for 30 minutes or until all the liquid has cooked off and you are left with soft fluffy rice.
3. Now you should have time to quickly whip up the salad and the salsa. The salsa couldn’t be simpler; just chop the ingredients and mix together in the bowl and leave to stand to marinate slightly before serving.
4. For the salad, I spiralize the carrots and the cucumber although it would work just as well to grate them. Sprinkle in the broccolini florets, the pumpkin seeds, garlic powder, salt, pepper and mint before folding through the coconut yoghurt.
5. Once your vegetables have softened slightly, take them out of the oven. Take a skewer and start to assemble alternating between the vegetables and the raw prawns. Brush with oil that was left over in the roasting pan and place in the top of the oven for five minutes on each side making sure the prawns are fully pink before removing them.
6. Assemble the rice, skewers, salad and salsa on a plate and enjoy the explosion of textures and flavours roll around in you mouth!