26 January 2015

Wheat-free carrot cake muffins


Carrot cake might just happen to be my all time favourite treat.
Luckily for me, its a bit of a craze over here at the minute and all my local cafes seem to be competing for  some kind of imaginary best carrot cake of the area award which I'm definitely not complaining about!
I have a classic recipe here that is my go to for a teatime cake but this time I wanted to make something a little healthier and a cross between a breakfast muffin and afternoon snack.

Ingredients:


50g porridge oats
190g rice flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g walnuts
30g coconut oil (melted)
60ml olive oil
70g natural yoghurt
75ml almond milk (or other plant milk)
1 large banana (mashed)
2 large eggs
5tbsp honey
160g grated carrot
75g grated apple

Rolled oats
Ground cinnamon
Coconut oil
Honey
Demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 fan). 

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the porridge oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and roughly chopped walnuts. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, olive oil, natural yoghurt, almond milk and eggs. Add in the mashed banana and the honey and stir well. 
Add in the grated carrot and apple to the wet ingredients and then mix in the dry ingredients. Mix well with a large wooden spoon until everything is just incorporated. (Don't over-mix it.)
Then spoon large tablespoons of the batter into a pre-greased muffin tray. 

Add another few tablespoons of coconut oil to a small saucepan along with 2-3 tablespoons of honey. Melt them together over a low heat and then add in a large handful of porridge oats, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a good spoonful of demerera sugar. Mix together until you have a crumble-like consistency. Sprinkle a little of this crumble mixture over each muffin. 
Then bake in the preheated oven for around 12-15 minutes until risen and golden brown.




23 January 2015

Beetroot, courgette and goats cheese salad

"Keep your face towards the sunshine & shadows will fall behind you." (Walt Whitman)








I absolutely love this weather in Madrid- it's my favourite. Freezing cold but fresh, bright and the days filled with beautiful sunshine.
It's amazing what difference a bit of sunshine can do for the soul.
Sunshine calls for colourful, drawn out lunch breaks. I've just started my training for a half marathon here in Madrid in April that I'm running with my flat mate and that means the start of a conscious effort to eat fresh, nutritious meals that help me recover from the gym!
Luckily, my flat is surrounded by fruterias, selling good quality cheap vegetables and so my fridge this week has become our own little greengrocers!
Each day I've tried to make something new, the first few nights inevitably ending up in Vietnamese noodle dishes and stir fries and today with this vibrant and totally delicious salad.

Super quick to make and very good for you!!


Ingredients:
1 raw beetroot
1 courgette
Cold pre-roasted butternut squash and sweet potato (roast the peeled squash and sweet potato in small chunks in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper for about 15-20 minutes at 170 degrees C.)
1 small avocado
Spring onion
Spinach leaves
Goats cheese
3 tbsp linseed
Large handful of walnuts
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Large handful fresh mint
Salt
Pepper



Method:
Peel the beetroot and slice finely into thin rounds. Add to a large mixing bowl. Then either use a spiralizer to make the courgette into thin noodles or slice the courgette into long thin pieces.
Add to the bowl along with the small pieces of roasted squash and sweet potato.
Peel and de-stone the avocado and then slice lengthways.
Finely chop the spring onion and add both to the mixing bowl.
Put the walnuts in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat. Toast for about 4-5 minutes, shaking regularly until golden brown.
Remove from the heat and bash them up slightly with a spoon. Add the walnuts, linseed and a large handful of roughly chopped fresh mint to the bowl along with some crumbled goats cheese.
Pour in 2-3 tbsp of good quality olive oil and 2tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Season well with salt and pepper and then mix well.
Serve the salad on top of a bed of fresh spinach leaves and top with extra mint.






16 January 2015

Vietnamese Bun Cha



I seriously crave Vietnamese food.
Spicy, colourful, a little bit of everything street food.
I fell in love with it during my travels in Vietnam (you can catch up on them here) and ever since, I've been craving the country's fresh, spicy and salty cuisine.
One of my favourite street food meals which I came across for the first time in Hanoi, is Bun Cha.
Its a mix of a spicy and aromatic sauce/soup with pork patties usually charcoal grilled and accompanied with fresh rice noodles, lime and lots of herbs.
Its a delicious contrast of flavours and textures with sticky, caramelised pork and a tangy refreshing sauce.
And the best thing about it, is that it's one of those meals where you can get your hands stuck in and throw a bit of everything together - a great meal to serve with lots of friends around a big table.
With hopefully better chopstick skills than mine!
I also apologise for the low quality of these photos- I only decided to make this for supper last minute and so by the time I'd got round to photographing it, there was no natural light left and 4 very hungry people waiting to tuck in!

Ingredients: (serves 4)

2tbsp caster sugar
600g pork mince
1/2 large onion
2 cloves garlic
Black pepper
Salt
1tbsp Soya sauce (or fish sauce)

Small piece of fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
750ml chicken stock
2tbsp brown sugar
2tbsp soya sauce (or fish sauce)
Juice of 1 lime
Stir fry vegetables
Pak choi
1 pack of beansprouts

Cooked Rice noodles
Coriander
Mint
Cucumber
Limes



Method:

Mix the caster sugar with 3tbsp of water in a small pan. Cook over a high heat for 5-8 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and a golden brown caramel begins to form. When you have a caramel, remove it from the heat and swirl in 2 more tablespoons of water. (Swirl the pan rather than stirring in the water with a spoon.)

Let this mixture cool slightly. Meanwhile combine the pork mince, soya sauce or fish sauce and finely diced onion and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Add a good seasoning of black pepper and salt and the caramel. Mix well with your hands until everything is fully combined. Then form the mixture into small patties (the size of meatballs) and leave to marinate on a plate in the fridge.

Meanwhile, finely chop the ginger and 1 clove of garlic and add it to a large pan with a little oil on a medium heat. Fry the ginger and garlic for a few minutes and then add in the brown sugar and chicken stock. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and then add in the soya sauce and lime juice. Leave the mixture to simmer whilst you fry the pork.

Put a large frying pan over a high heat and add in a good glug of oil. Fry the patties in batches for about 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown, cooked through and beginning to caramelise.
Then remove from the heat and cover with foil to keep warm.

At this stage, add your stir fry vegetables to the broth and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender. At the same time, steam the pak choi and beansprouts for 2-3 minutes.

Finely slice the cucumber and prepare some extra lime wedges. When you are ready to serve, add a big handful of roughly chopped mint and coriander to the broth.

Fill each bowl with a few pieces of pak choi, some beansprouts, 4-5 of the pork patties and a good serving of the broth and vegetables.
Then let everyone help themselves to noodles, fresh herbs, sliced cucumber and more lime.
I like mine with a lot of fresh mint leaves and a good squeeze of lime.


Influenced by: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Bun-Cha-Vietnamese-Pork-Meatball-Noodle-Salad

12 January 2015

Review: Green Kitchen Stories


If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will see that I've been just a little bit excited to get my hands on two new books recently. 
They are by the beautiful family over at Green Kitchen Stories, a vegetarian blog jam packed with really creative recipes, that has been one of my favourites for a while now! The writers, Luise Vindahl and David Frenkiel and their super cute children have been inspired by their travels and a passion for healthy and simple delicious vegetarian food. 
Their Instagram account is simply divine and I'm always enticed by their photos of really fresh, vibrant looking food. 
I bought their first book, The Green Kitchen a few months ago and then treated myself to their second, Green Kitchen Travels for Christmas. 
Now, I'm one of those people who reads cookbooks instead of normal books before I go to sleep. I constantly have one on my bedside table and my overall collection is reaching triple figures. So it's safe to say, I've read my fair share of them and got a good idea of what kind of food photography I like and inspires me. 
The first time I read a cookbook, I'll read it like a normal book and then go to town with bookmarks- picking the recipes I most want to make first. With these books- there just wasn't any point in marking the pages as every single recipe is divine. It's rare to find books so well presented, styled and with a really good balance of recipes. There is some sort of really healthy, energised vibe from these books that I just haven't found in many others. 
It's safe to say that Green Kitchen Travels is becoming my new cookery bible. It completely and utterly defies the stereotype of plain, boring vegetarian food and is full of really inventive recipes, influenced by all corners of the globe accompanied by beautiful photography. 
There's Vietnamese Pho, whole egg flower curry from India, Moroccan inspired salads and delicious gluten free Italian-inspired desserts, to name just a few!
Some of my favourites include their breakfast recipes- like me, they are a family that believe in a diverse, nutritious breakfast and have created recipes such as pumpkin and almond waffles and a whole array of overnight oat recipes with chia seed raspberry jam!
The recipes are also really simply laid out and easy to follow- I think this is the most important thing in a cookbook: beautiful photography and easy-to-follow recipes. 
Like Julie in Julie and Julia, where a budding cook tries every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," I'm going to make it my mission to get through every recipe in each book before the end of this year. At the rate I've been going so far, I don't think it's going to be hard!
Here's a few of my photos from some of the recipes I've tried out so far:

Masala Dosa (from Green Kitchen Travels)
Spicy sweet potato wrapped in chickpea pancakes and served with an Indian mint and coconut Raita


Baked Crunchy Blackberry Oatmeal (from The Green Kitchen)
A sort of breakfast crumble with blackberry baked oatmeal and a delicious maple syrup flavoured crunchy oat topping- like heaven in a bowl for breakfast!





Baked Herb and Pistachio Falafel (from The Green Kitchen)
A healthier baked version of the usual deep-fried falafel, made with lots of fresh herbs and a generous serving of pistachios!
I served mine with hummus and baked baby beets. 











I'd definitely recommend checking them out - even if just for the super drool-worthy photos! 
They have a real zing of happiness and health about their ideas and lifestyle that I think is very catchy and important to spread!
If you'd like to find out more about them, you can read their interview over with Ella from Deliciously Ella here. 
Have a beautiful day x


23 December 2014

Coffee date and walnut loaf cake




Let's face it. 
When it comes down to the offer of a slice of Christmas cake, how many of us really only take a slice JUST for the icing and marzipan.....!?
Yes fruit cake can be delicious but in reality, not that many people are fans of fruit cake on Christmas day. 
And if this is the case for your family too, here's a perfect alternative. A sticky, treacly coffee, date and walnut cake. 
It's not quite as dense and rich as a fruit cake, which makes it the perfect thing for tea whilst you're watching the Christmas TV and recovering from that massive Christmas dinner!
I've left mine plain but you could decorate it with a simple coffee icing, buttercream or date and coffee syrup.




Ingredients:

250ml hot strong coffee
150g pitted soft dates
1tsp good quality vanilla paste

125g unsalted butter
200g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
225g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
50g chopped walnuts


Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (fan).
Add the dates to a jug and pour over the hot coffee and vanilla. Leave the dates and coffee to sit for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl with an electric whisk. Gradually whisk in the eggs until you have a smooth mixture.

In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, baking powder and spices.
Drain the dates but keep the coffee mixture, adding it to the butter, sugar and eggs. Whisk again, adding a little flour if the mixture looks like it might curdle.
Fold in the rest of the flour and spices with a large metal spoon. Then finely chop the soaked dates and add to the cake mixture along with the chopped walnut pieces. Stir the mixture again until everything is incorporated and you have a smooth glossy cake batter.

Pour into either a greased and lined loaf tin or two circular cake tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and a skewer, when inserted into the cake, comes out clean.









21 December 2014

EPIC spiced shredded duck leg burger with goats cheese and honey






This is inspired by THE MOST EPIC burger I have ever tasted in my life.
It was at a street food festival in Shoreditch and served up by the masterminds behind The Frenchie, London's confit duck-lovin burger team who offer a confit duck burger in-between toasted brioche buns that has London foodies going completely mad!
In order to have my own stab at this delicious creation, I turned to Jamie Oliver for inspiration, with this sticky and sweet soy, chilli, cinnamon and clove marinade which produces slightly spicy, sweet, tangy shredded duck meat.
Sandwich this duck meat between layers of goats cheese and honey and you have a winner.



Ingredients: serves 2

For the duck legs:
2 duck legs
1/2 cinnamon stick
2tbsp soya sauce
4tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp mixed spice
4 cloves
1tbsp good quality chilli oil
Good pinch of coarse sea salt and pepper

To serve:
Goats cheese
Honey
Lambs lettuce/rocket
Brioche buns/wholemeal rolls
Extra chilli oil

Method:

Add all the ingredients for the duck marinade to a plastic sandwich bag. Shake well to mix and then add in the duck legs. Make sure the duck legs are thoroughly coated in the marinade and then seel the bag and leave the duck legs in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. (Overnight is best.)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (fan.)
Once the duck legs have been marinated, tip the whole contents of the plastic bag into a roasting tray and then roast the duck legs in the oven for about 2-2.5 hours. After 1.5 hours, turn the heat down slightly and cover the tray with tinfoil.

Once the duck legs are cooked they should be crispy and golden brown. Carefully pull the duck meat away from the bone using two forks.


Tip the juices from the roasting dish into a frying pan and put over a medium-high heat. Cut the buns in half and fry in the pan for 2-3 minutes until they are slightly toasted and have taken on all the meat juices. 

Then top one half of the buns with a good handful of lambs lettuce, the shredded duck meat, some crumbled goats cheese and a squeeze of honey. Sandwich with the other half of the bun and then dig in!!
You could also drizzle over a little extra chilli oil if you fancy. 




Inspired by: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/duck-recipes/sweet-duck-legs-cooked-with-plums-and-star-anise/

1 December 2014

The Movement for happier meals: One Feeds Two


I absolutely love it when readers get in touch with me or have something new and exciting they would like to tell me about!
A few weeks ago, the Lovely Eva over at Line Up Media asked me if I’d be interested in getting to know a bit about a successful charity called One Feeds Two. Immediately I liked the sound of it and did a bit of research. I didn't take long for me to ping an email back to her saying I'd love to get involved!
One Feeds Two is a really great charity. 
It's introducing the movement for happier meals- a programme in which they aim "to use hunger to end hunger" using the meals we buy everyday as a way to provide school meals to children in poverty.
You buy a meal from food companies that carry the One Feeds Two logo, whether it be your takeaway sandwich, ready meal in the supermarket aisle or your lunch at the local cafe, and in doing so, you are funding a school meal for a child in some of the most deprived areas. 
Its such a simple request that could provide such big changes to the life of a child and if carried out on a daily basis, could make staggering changes. 
Plus it all started in Edinburgh as Elephant Juice Food Company, selling delicious soups out the back of a van which were a real treat in-between my lectures on a cold rainy day in Scotland! 
In 2013, JP sold Elephant Juice in order to set up the One Feeds Two Foundation. 
A few days ago, he agreed to answer some of my questions so that I could share his charity will you all.

It’s a great concept and one that I fully support, so I would love it if after reading this post, if it’s something that inspires you and motivates you as it does me, to pass it on to others around you, spread the word and help JP out by buying a meal associated with the scheme whenever you can!
Tweet about it, spread the word to your local food companies and help create this new ethical standard.


Get Involved!!!





When did you start Elephant Juice? 

January 2012

Why do you think people were so behind Elephant Juice- what is it that appealed to them?

If I am being honest it is a number of things. We served really good fresh soup and wanted to produce the best soup possible. We also focused on really getting to know our customers and going the extra mile to keep them happy -  we held a free soup day on our first birthday which was obviously really popular! Finally, we founded the business on a really simple and tangible promise: One Feeds Two. Every time we sold a soup we provided a school meal to a child in poverty.

What was your favourite Elephant Juice soup?

That is a really tough question as it always depends on your mood! One of our best sellers, and also my personal favourite, was Chicken Noodle but I did also had a soft spot for Piri Piri Chicken as it had a bit more kick to it. 

What was your initial influence for One Feeds Two?

I had seen what Toms had done with shoes and their one-for-one model and thought it made a lot of sense to do the same with food. From there I bought a van, taught myself to cook and went for it. Every time we sold a soup we provided a school meal to a child in poverty.  After 8 months of trading our food business we had given an incredible 15,000+ school meals. Desperate to see the impact of all our hard work, I went to visit the projects we were supporting, accompanied by some of the Elephant Juice Staff.  Seeing kids getting into education as a result of the meals provided was life changing but we were not even scratching the surface of the problem. I knew I had to scale the impact of this simple idea. So I sold Elephant Juice and set up The One Feeds Two Foundation to make it easy for all food businesses to adopt One Feeds Two.


Were you influenced by your personal experiences?

Yeah for sure.

I spent a lot of my younger years visiting projects that my Dad’s charity supported in some really deprived parts of Eastern Europe in the late nineties.  This was a massive influence. When you see hungry children and people living in severe poverty those experiences really change your perspective.  In particular, I remember one visit to Romania. I had just bought a burger at McDonald’s in Timisoara and thought nothing of chucking away my lettuce and gherkin (what I then called ‘the green bits’) in the bin – I was a real salad dodger! Seconds later a street child started shouting really aggressively at me and dived into the bin, desperate for my unwanted salad bits. It was a humiliating experience and a real wake up call.

Do you have a particular story from your travels that influenced you to put One Feeds Two into action?

When Travelling in Kenya with Elephant Juice we met an amazing child called Daniel. He e was incredible Hwas incredible.  Hard working and ambitious, he explained to us that he wanted to be an engineer.  Behind his fun personality and his ambition to better himself, he had suffered some real hardship and challenges in his lifetime. He had lost his parents and had lived on the streets for a number of years. He was not able to attend school as he had to work and scavenge for food. Daniel was 13 when a feeding program started at his local primary school and it was then that he was able to return and complete his exams.  He is now attending secondary school.

How does One Feeds Two work?

It is a really simple idea. A food company puts our logo on their product or menu item.  Every time they sell that item they provide a school meal to a child in poverty.


Where are the majority of the school meals provided?

We work with 3 of the largest school feeing programmes, who operate in over 63 of the world’s poorest countries across Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean.

Who guarantees the meals at the other end of the process?

Our feeding partners regularly visit these schools to monitor and ensure the success of each programme, as well as reviewing their attendance records to determine the number of children being fed. 

Do you think that the increase in food philanthropy is here to stay? Does it really work?

Yes, I truly believe that companies now have to use their businesses as a force for good and customers expect them to do so. Increasingly businesses are looking to become more sustainable and embed generosity into their models and we have created a really simple way for them to tackle a very relevant social problem- using their customer’s hunger to tackle child hunger.


Do you think we can ever make a real dent to the numbers of those starving in poverty? Will it ever become ‘the standard?’

I must admit poverty and hunger is a really complicated issue that comes about for lots of reason and it would be over simplistic to suggest that One Feeds Two is a complete solution.

What we have done is focus on impact and getting the world’s poorest kids an education as hunger is one of the major obstacles that prevents this.

There are over 376 million of us eating every day in the UK and the US alone and in the developing world there are 66 million going to school hungry and another 61 million missing out as a result of hunger or poverty.

 The numbers are compelling. Just imagine the impact if we could all get behind One Feeds Two and make giving a school meal part of our daily routine.


What are your aspirations for One Feeds Two- how big would you like it to become?

It is fundamentally all about providing as many school meals as we can. The idea is accessible to both large and small food brands and by all coming together we can make a huge difference to the lives of thousands, if not millions, of children in the developing world.

Do you think you will get the big brands/supermarkets on board?

We are certainly trying our hardest to get their attention. Since launching the brand on World Food Day we have some really exciting meetings and introductions.  We just hope that some of these result in the idea being adopted. That said, it is an idea that all food businesses can do no matter their size provided they have a till system that can account for what they sell – and even if they don’t, like Peckham Market, they can support #TweetAsYouEat. Simply, the market donates a school meal every time their customers tweet a picture of a food item they buy.

 This is all a big change from your previous career- what challenges have you encountered trying to set up something on this sort of scale?

Ha – very true. I think you really just have to throw yourself at it and not be afraid of making mistakes. Running a startup you have to become a ‘jack of all trades’ learning about lots of different aspects of an organisation from admin and VAT, business development, strategy fundraising, marketing and PR… the list could go on and on. Having a legal background has certainly been really helpful but the key is to find good people who can help you in the areas that you are weak or have less experience of. You can’t do everything, so having a team of people who grasp the vision and support you making it happen is key. You also have to accept that it is a rollercoaster will real ups and down – it is often exciting and really challenging/scary all at the same time – but it is never dull!



How can we get involved in One Feeds Two?  Who supports the cause at the moment?

At the moment we have COOK doing One Feeds Two on select Christmas products and Rola Wala who trade in London and Leeds Trinity Kitchen -doing it on all their Naan Rolls.

You can spread the word to your friends and family in the food industry or tweet your favourite food business and ask them to adopt One Feeds Two.

Finally it is not just food companies who can donate meals. We all can. We have a donation page where our meal calculator tells you how many meals your donation will provide. We are asking individuals, offices and businesses to host a One Feeds Two Christmas dinner this season and donate a meal for every meal served. Amazingly it just cost 20p per school meal - just visit www.onefeedstwo.org/donate and it takes just a minute to use our fancy new payment gateway.

What’s next for One Feeds Two?

We are in discussions with some really exciting brands and are focused on getting them on board to champion One Feeds Two and help us really scale the impact we deliver. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page where we announce all new partners that join our movement for happier meals.