17 June 2015

Mint, rum and lime marinated mango with coconut yoghurt and lime shortbread






Ingredients:

For the shortbread:

85g soft salted butter
60g caster sugar
60g ground almonds
100g rice flour
Zest of 1 lime
1 egg yolk

For the mango:

1 large ripe mango
Juice of 1/2 lime
Large handful of mint
2tsp caster sugar
2tsp dark rum
1 passionfruit

Coconut vanilla yoghurt


Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. (fan)

Cream together the soft butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add in the ground almonds, rice flour and lime zest and mix well. Add in the egg yolk and mix until everything is combined and you have a soft dough. Tip the dough out onto a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Using a rolling pin, carefully flatten out the mixture until you have a rough rectangle, about 1.5cm thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the biscuit dough into about 20 even-sized rectangles.


Lay the biscuits onto baking paper on a baking tray and then bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool and firm up slightly.

Whilst the biscuits are baking, peel and chop the mango into thin slices. Add the mango to a mixing bowl along with the lime juice, caster sugar, rum and the seeds and pulp from the passionfruit. Finely chop the fresh mint and add this to the bowl. Mix well and then leave it to marinade for 10-15 minutes.



When you are ready to assemble, layer the mango mixture into the bottom of small trifle glasses. Top with a layer of coconut yoghurt (I used vanilla Coyo) and then repeat the layers until you have used up all the mixture. Top with an extra sprig of mint and serve with the lime shortbread.





14 June 2015

Grilled za'atar apricots with feta and pistachios




I'm finally back in the UK after my year in Madrid. It's a strange feeling- leaving the midst of summer there and 35 degree heat, open terraces and sunbathing in the parks, to return to the still spring-like English countryside, wide open fields that stretch for miles and a timetable where bed time means 10pm!
I'm going to miss Madrid hugely. I've fallen in love with the city over the last 10 months and know that one day I'll be back. It's a really great place to live. There's always something new going on in the foodie world over there and you can't help but feel in a good mood when you wake up to strong coffee, beautiful bright sunshine and Spanish red wine. 
It's taught me a lot about how I am, the people around me and how to learn to live and be comfortable in my own skin, finding the confidence to live in a world where you adapt to new cultures, new languages and new favourite places. 
And I've been lucky enough to meet beautiful people from all over the world with whom to discover Madrid's hidden secrets. 
In a week's time, I'm going back there with some of my oldest friends from home and I told them I'd show them around my favourite places- but the truth is, it's just too hard to pick!! Everywhere in Madrid has such charm. I've been meaning to let you in on my Madrid foodie secrets all year but just have't found chance to capture them all- when I return I'm going to pick out my all time favourites for you and let you in on the best places to wine and dine in the city!!

However, being back in the UK does mean that I'm finally back in a proper kitchen. I've had so little time over the last few months to cook and experiment with that I've lost a little inspiration in the kitchen and suffered my own kind of writers block. But returning home to a proper kitchen, the summer vegetable patch in full swing and more free time, means I've got lots of new ideas coming your way. Starting with this fresh summer salad, using the first of our homegrown giant spinach leaves and peppery watercress and tossed with salty feta, toasted almonds, a sweet honey dressing, and tangy za'atar grilled apricots. This would be a great accompaniment for a BBQ, especially if you can grill the apricots on the bbq to give them a slightly charred, caramelised exterior. 



Ingredients:

4-5 apricots
1tsp heaped za'atar
2tsp honey
1tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 packet of feta cheese
Large handful of pistachios
Flaked almonds
3-4 small Radishes

Spinach
Watercress
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method:

 De-stone and halve the apricots. Add them to a large mixing bowl with the za'atar, honey, olive oil and a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Mix well until the apricots are properly coated.


Put a grill pan on a high heat. Let the pan get really hot (do not add any oil) and then carefully add the apricots. Grill them on each side for 2-3 minutes until they begin to caramelise. You may want to do them in batches so that you can watch them and turn them evenly. 


Chop up the feta and pistachios and thinly slice the radishes. Put another frying pan over a medium heat and add a large handful of flaked almonds. Toast the almonds for 3-4 minutes until lightly golden and then remove from the heat. (Watch these as they will burn very quickly!! )

Wash your salad leaves (I used spinach and watercress but you can use any mixture you fancy). Add the salad leaves to the mixing bowl which contained the apricots and coat the leaves in the remaining marinade along with another tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Then add in the grilled apricots, feta, pistachios and radishes. Toss all the ingredients together and then sprinkle over the flaked almonds. 

Serve immediately. 












27 May 2015

Strawberry compote, coconut yoghurt and oats


"People who love to eat are always the best people." - Julia Kind





Ingredients:

Large handful of fresh strawberries
Zest of 1/2 an unwaxed lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla paste (make sure this is good quality vanilla paste and not vanilla extract)
2 tsp maple syrup (or pure honey)

Handful of flaked almonds

Coconut yoghurt

Granola (I used homemade oat and raisin granola)

Fresh fruit


Method:

Cull and halve the strawberries and add to a mixing bowl. Mix with the lemon zest, juice, vanilla paste and maple syrup and then add to a small pan.
Put the pan over a medium heat with a lid on and leave to simmer for 5-7 minutes until the strawberries begin to turn soft and release their juices. Simmer for a further 2-3 minutes until you have a jam-like consistency and then remove from the heat. (Keep an eye on them as they will catch very easily!)

Put a small frying pan over a high heat. Add the flaked almonds and toast them for 2-3 minutes (moving them around regularly to make sure they don't burn.)

To serve, add a large dollop of coconut yoghurt to your bowls. (I used shop-bought Coyo which I love but would really like to try making my own version at some point- if you feel like you're up to the challenge, there's a very good post explaining the process right here)
Top with your granola, fresh fruit, strawberry compote, flaked almonds and an extra drizzle of maple syrup.













21 May 2015

Daylesford Farm Summer Festival 2015





Last weekend I had an unexpected few days in the UK. By complete happy coincidence, this just happened to match up with this years Daylesford Summer Festival at their organic farm in Kingham, the Cotswolds.
My friends and family know that I absolutely love the Cotswolds - I would move there in an instant and am always dragged home, reluctant to leave the beautiful countryside and gorgeous English villages.
Daylesford Farm is a firm favourite spot of mine. I blogged about their summer festival last year in this post and always jump at the chance to spend a day there, strolling round their farm shop and stopping for one of their salads in the cafe. In november I was lucky enough to spend a weekend there in one of their cottages called the Wood Store. I took a group of girlfriends there for 3 days in which we sat in our dressing gowns round the fire, drinking white wine, eating malteasers and waking up to beautifully crisp winter walks across the fields. When we arrived we were presented with a box full of Daylesford goodies and just trotted over to the shop every morning for one of their freshly bakes brioche loaves and Blue Legbar hen eggs. The cottages are beautifully decorated in a really rustic country kind of way but with all the modern touches you need. Each room has amazing wood fires and the bathrooms are stocked with products from Daylesford's own spa range, Bamford Body.
The cottages are the perfect idea for a romantic getaway, a girlie weekend, or somewhere to take the family over the holidays, with everything you need right on your doorstep.  The cottages range from sleeping 2 people to the possibility of booking two together to sleep up to 8. You can find out more about them here - I'd definitely book up your holiday in advance as they are deservingly popular!!




The summer festival this year was based on celebrating organic farming and their "Eat to be Healthy" range. The day offered a behind-the-scenes look at their organic farming methods and a chance to sample all their incredible organic produce. After living in Madrid this year, I couldn't help but really enjoy the overly British-ness of the event! Morris dancing, a dog show and endless Pimms and their delicious Chateau Leoube Rose made for a very British summer festival! The team who are behind the creative and styling department at Daylesford always have it spot on - the event was beautifully presented and organised- I'm always won over by their branding and particularly love their shopping bags with fab photos of their farm animals on - I actually came across one in the design department in my office in Madrid the other day that the team had obviously found for inspiration!

The day featured tours around the farm and the market garden as well as talks and demonstrations from names such as Rose Prince and Madeleine Shaw and cookery demonstrations in their beautiful cookery school. There was also a live jazz band playing on a hay bail stage in the field and a small producers market with a whole array of different treats on offer, as well as Daylesford's own barbecue and beef brisket wrap stands.

Due to the dog show in the morning, it was also a dog lover's paradise - with endless cockerpoos, labradoodles, golden doodles and every possible poodle mix under the sun! We of course took Eddie with us (our 3 year old cockerpoo puppy) who couldn't hide his excitement on the way there!!






Their chocolate brioche/pain au chocolat loaf!


We strolled round the producers market, trying all the different samples on offer, including the most amazing artisan goats cheese, fruit wines, and gluten free treats and breakfast nut mixes. 
























The beautiful Bamford Haybarn spa













After some lunch of beef brisket wraps with slaw and lentil dahl, we headed into the cookery school
for the demonstration on "Eat to be healthy: cooking without dairy, sugar or gluten" in which head chef, Steve Brown, talked about the benefits of limiting refined sugars, gluten and dairy from our diets. One of the recipes he showed us were for crackers made from a whole range of seeds, nuts and spiralina, using water and chia seeds as a binding agent- something I definitely want to try at home. 

However, it didn't stop us nipping into the terrace of the cafe afterwards for tea, scones and clotted cream!



The cafe and restaurant is open all day, Monday to Wednesday (9am-5pm), Thursday to Saturday (9am - 6pm) and Sunday (10am - 4pm.)
They are also open for supper on Friday and Saturday evenings, 7pm till late. 
Their breakfast menu and seasonal salads are some of my favourites!
It's definitely worth checking out if you are in the area- I could spend hours just wondering around the deli shop and beautiful florist. 
If you can't make it to the Costwolds, they also have branches in London: one in Notting Hill, one in Pimlico and they have just opened a new site in Marylebone. (You can also get hold of the produce from the Selfridges Food Hall.)



I spent the rest of the weekend in the kitchen, experimenting with recipes inspired by my travels to Marrakech (recipes will be up on the blog soon!) and catching up with my family and this trouble!