PSBroccoli, Parsley & Almond Pesto.

 

  

My little lady has finally stopped throwing up but is having an extra day off school to regain some energy. To help refuel her we made this delicious and nutritious pesto pasta for lunch. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, pesto is THE BEST way to get raw food, packed with vitamins and minerals, into your kids, and yourselves of course! This particular one contains almonds – which are an amazing source of healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium…amongst other things! Parsley and broccoli – just bursting with iron, calcium, folates, vitamins A, C, K… B1,2,3,5&6 etc etc… Lemon juice – aids digestion and is an amazing source of vitamin C…  This pesto is basically a super-douper food! Don’t worry too much about amounts and measurements. Making pesto is not a science, just pop what you have into a strong food processor, blend, taste and adjust to your liking. Cook some pasta and stir the pesto through while it’s still hot. Liz x

Ingredients.

  • Almonds – a large handful (I only had blanched in the house but any will do)
  • Garlic – one crushed clove is enough
  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli – about 4-5 stalks chopped in half
  • Parsley – a smallish bunch, stalks and all
  • Lemon Juice – about half a lemon is fined, taste and add more if you like
  • Olive oil – be generous! Drizzle it in as your food processor is running ’til you get the right consistency
  • Salt & Black Pepper – to taste

   

 


Rice & Greens with Avocado-Miso Sauce.

 

Tonight’s simple and soothing Spring supper was inspired by my poorly daughter. Her new school comes with a bunch of new bugs to encounter apparently. We needed something plain and soothing to settle an upset tummy and this was just the trick. And it soothed the rest of the very tired family too! 

No real recipe as such… 

Just boil some rice (a smallish mug of rice fed two adults and two kids…add two mugs of water, lid on, bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer until all the water absorbed).

In the meantime make your avocado, lime and miso sauce by blending the flesh of an avocado with a couple of tablespoons of miso paste and the juice of a lime, add a slow dribble of cool water to the blender while it’s running until you reach your desired consistency…I like mine like a thick mayonnaise. 

Then sauté some seasonal greens in a little oil with lots of chopped garlic. Add a generous splash of tamari (or light soy sauce is fine of course, if you are not avoiding gluten) to wilt the greens, you may need to add a splash of water too. Then stir in a liberal sprinkling of sesame seeds. And you are done! 

Put the rice in the bottom of bowls, add the soy-salty wilted greens and sesame seeds and then top with a generous dollop of the avo-miso sauce. Put a bottle of soy sauce/tamari on the table to season the rice if you like. Some chilli sauce doesn’t go amiss here either.

Enjoy! Liz x

  


Spring Breakfast.

 

This was amazing. Toast spread liberally with wild garlic and cashew nut pesto (pulse a handful of cashew nuts, a fistful of wild garlic, a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of oil and seasoning in a food processor). Poached egg from the garden (thanks Nettle/Rose/Power-Ranger/Princess-Layer!), and steamed then griddled purple sprouting broccoli.  

What’s your favourite spring breakfast? Liz x

  


Tomato and Coconut Soup.

Here’s what my poorly daughter and I had for a quick hot lunch today. Did you know it’s ‘meat free week’ this week? Well, I’ve just found out and I’m going to try and post a recipe on the blog every day in honour of this ‘taking stock of how much animal produce we consume’ time. The best thing about these sort of ‘fasts’ is not the holier-than-thou depravation but the gradual realisation of an unnecessary imbalance in our consuming. Give it a go and see what you learn. Liz x

This is one of those embarrassingly simple recipes you dread to share. It’s one of our most requested soups at the cafe but we only make it when we really have no fresh veg left at the end of the week. It’s also great to make when we’re in a rush. Please don’t dismiss this recipe, it’s like a vegan version of cream of tomato soup and absolutely delicious!

serves 2-4

1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tin tomatoes
1 tin coconut milk (or use half if you prefer it less creamy)
Salt and plenty of freshly
ground black pepper – to taste

Optional extras…
Spinach, kale or chard
A handful of cooked chick peas
Fresh coriander or basil

If you are in a real hurry or just feeling particularly lazy you can easily get away with leaving out the onion and garlic. You will need a medium pot. Peel and finely dice the onion and sauté it in the oil on a medium heat until soft and golden. Crush in the garlic cloves. Add the ground spices and give it a stir.
Empty in the tin of tomatoes. Half fill the tin with water, swirl it about a bit to get any tomatoey juices that have been left behind and pour that into the pot too. Give it a good stir and simmer for a few minutes.
Then scrape in the tin of coconut milk. Give the soup a good stir and season with salt and pepper. Bring the soup back to a simmer and taste. Add more seasoning or water if you think it’s necessary. Blend the soup until smooth using a handheld stick blender.
Return the pan to the heat. If you would like to add some sliced greens or chick peas do it now whilst you are bringing the soup back up to temperature. The greens will only take a minute or two to wilt.
Serve immediately with some crusty bread, another good grind of black pepper and a generous sprinkle of fresh herbs.

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Flourless Vegetable Chocolate Cake

I have something very special to share with you today. You absolutely MUST try this cake. Too often when we try recipes for healthy cakes they just don’t hit the spot and we never make them again. This cake is different. I have been testing and adjusting this recipe so that it works with both beetroot and aubergine purée. Now you can make this cake all year round with seasonal vegetables. Use aubergine all summer and well into autumn, and beetroot over winter and spring. Let me know how you get on. Liz x

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About 300g of cooked, peeled and puréed beetroot/aubergine
200g melted dark chocolate
4 eggs, separated (whites whisked to form soft peaks)
200g honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g ground almonds
50g Cocoa powder (plus an extra tsp for dusting)
2 tsp baking powder (get the gluten free variety if you like)
a pinch of salt

Start by preparing your vegetables. If you are using beetroot, boil them whole until soft, then run them under cool water and peel them. The skin should just slip off but use a sharp knife if you are having trouble. If you are using aubergine then prick them a few times with a skewer and either microwave in a covered bowl or roast until completely silky soft inside. Let them cool then slice in half lengthways, scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. Purée your vegetable of choice and set to one side.

Next melt the chocolate. Either microwave it gently or place in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once it’s completely melted, stir into the puréed vegetable.

Put all the other ingredients in with the lovely chocolately veggie goo (apart from the egg whites!) and give it all a good mix.

Whisk the egg white until soft peaks form then carefully fold into the cake mixture. Start with a big scoop to get things going, then fold in the rest, a half at a time. Use a big spatula and make sure you scrape all the goodness up from the bottom.

Pour the batter into a greased and lined (with baking parchment), loose bottomed cake tin (I would even line the bottom of a silicon cake tin if that’s what you are using) and bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes. Test with a clean skewer, when it comes out clean it’s done.

Let it cool a little then carefully turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with cocoa powder. This cake is absolutely amazing served with lots of fresh/frozen raspberries and a hot cup of coffee.

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Lazy Veggie Sushi Bowl

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Here’s my sushi roll recipe. Feel free to ignore it, as I have done (above), and make a lazy sushi bowl instead! I had loads of greens in the fridge so that’s what I used tonight (I fried broccoli, shredded greens and julienned leeks in a little oil and a splash of light soy sauce, the rest of the veg is raw – cucumber, spring onions, avocado, sugar snap peas…) but of course you can use what ever you have to hand. Liz x

My kids love veggie sushi. They love anything that they helped make themselves, and there is nothing like that feeling of pure satisfaction when you see your kids eat vegetables (and seaweed!! so good for you). Sushi is much easier to make than it looks…well, it is the way I make it anyway…
If you are in a rush you can always make a ‘lazy sushi bowl’. Simply put the cooked rice and prepped veg into bowl, tear up some sushi nori – you can buy packets of this dried, flattened seaweed in health food shops and most supermarkets now. Add sesame seeds, drizzle with sushi seasoning, dot a touch of wasabi around & a squeeze of chilli sauce and you are in lazy sushi heaven. Delicious!

Sushi Rice
Sushi Rice Seasoning
Sushi Nori
Sesame Seeds

Spring vegetables of your choice…eg:
Asparagus (steamed or raw)
Spring Onions
Spring Greens (wilted)
Purple Sprouting Broccoli (steamed)
Beetroot (boiled & skinned)

Optional extras…
Avocado
Cucumber
Grated Carrot
Smoked Tofu (I recommend looking for the one with almonds & sesame seeds)

Optional condiments…
Wasabi
Pickled ginger
Light Soy Sauce/Liquid Aminos
Chilli sauce (sweet/hot)

Cook enough sushi rice for everyone. Generally adults would eat one roll of sushi each – eight pieces. You will need about half a cup of cooked rice per roll, so that’s a quarter of a cup (about 50g) of uncooked rice per person. Measure out your rice using a cup/jug. Add twice the volume of water using the same cup/jug. Bring to the boil with the lid on then immediately turn the heat right down to the lowest setting and simmer. Don’t fiddle with it! The rice is done when it has absorbed all the water. As soon as it is done tip it into a large bowl/platter to cool it quickly. Sprinkle one tbs of sushi seasoning per portion onto the rice and gently stir it in and spread it out to cool it down to room temperature. You can fan it to speed up the cooling process if you like.
Start preparing your vegetables. Use your judgement with amounts…you will only need 3 or 4 different fillings per roll, a little goes a long way. Slice all the vegetables and tofu into long thin strips and put them on a large platter ready for assembly. I like to sauté some veg with a splash of good light soy sauce (look for tamari or liquid aminos if you are avoiding gluten) and a sprinkle of sesame seeds for an extra savoury kick.
Assemble the sushi rolls one at a time until you run out of rice. Lay a sheet of sushi nori, shiny side down, onto a rolling mat. Using two spoons, spread a thin layer of rice evenly over the nori. Start layering on vegetables in different combinations (try beetroot, avocado & spring onion or asparagus, spring greens & smoked tofu), try to keep the veg even and in the first quarter of the roll closest to you. Start rolling as tightly and evenly as you can. I find it easier to start by tucking in the first bit without using the mat, then gather up the mat and roll & tuck, roll & tuck until you get to the end. Firmly squeeze the roll in the mat to ensure it all sticks. Gently unfold the mat and place the roll onto a chopping board and slice each roll into eight.
Serve on a nice board with some dipping sauces/condiments of your choice. Gently press some of the little slices, rice side down, into a small ramekin of sesame seeds. Then dunk into the dipping sauces and eat!

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Lentil Dal: pure comfort from the store cupboard.

Here’s a favourite recipe I’m working on for my book. I hope you find my ‘recipe at a glance’ illustrations helpful alongside my more conventionally written recipes. Let me know how you get on if you try it.
Liz x

Dal is the ultimate comfort food in my house, loved by adults and children alike. We often have these softly stewed, spicy lentils with nutty brown rice, or scooped up with naan breads or popadoms…with a liberal dollop of lime pickle on the side of course. I am totally addicted to the stuff! You can’t go wrong with dal, it’s warming, hearty, nutritious and delicious, and all from the store-cupboard. We often include a diced seasonal vegetable, like carrot, winter squash or cauliflower if we have some in the house but this is completely optional. Dal is typically made with South Indian flavours but can be made in many ways. My favourite way is with coconut milk, curry leaves and tamarind, but we often have it simply with spices and water. There are two ways of spicing this dish. At the cafe we generally fry off the spices, garlic and onions in oil before adding the lentils and liquid, because it’s easier to keep it like this, especially in such large quantities. A lovely way to present this at home is to boil the lentils with a simple seasoning and some turmeric and then make a fresh, spicy tarka to drizzle over and stir through each portion just before serving. This way we can leave out the tarka for the kids and we still get to enjoy a good chilli hit! Whenever I can get them I also sometimes fry okra in the tarka before spooning it over the dal. I have included the tarka in this recipe at the end, but feel free to make it at the beginning instead, then add the lentils and liquid to the spices and simmer and stir until it’s done. This is a great recipe to make in the slow cooker. Dal is divine!

Serves 4

For the dal…
200g red split lentils
(or chana or urid dal)
salt & pepper to taste
2 tsp turmeric powder
4 cardamom pods
a handful of fresh curry leaves if you can find them, if not dried will do
1/2 400ml tin coconut milk (optional)
1 tsp tamarind paste (optional)
diced seasonal vegetable (optional)

For the tarka…
4 tbsp coconut oil (or light oil of your choice)
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds (optional)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 large onion, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 cm piece fresh root ginger, grated
sliced fresh chilli to taste

To garnish…
lots of chopped coriander
wedges of lime

Measure the lentils out into a jug. Make a note of where they come up to. Put the lentils, salt and pepper, turmeric, cardamom pods, curry leaves (and tamarind if you are using) into a large sauce pan. Use the jug to measure out the coconut milk (if using) and water into the pan. You will need 3 times the volume of liquid:lentils. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat to the lowest setting and simmer with the lid on. Give it an occasional stir to make sure it’s not sticking on the bottom and add more liquid if it looks like it’s drying out before it’s done. This will take between 20 minutes and 40 minutes depending on the amount and type of lentils you are using.
Once the lentils are soft and at a texture that you are happy with (I like my dal the consistency of somewhere between a porridge and a thick soup) You can keep them warm while you make your tarka.
Put the oil in a small milk pan and heat it up. Add the onion and fry for a few minutes until it starts to colour. Then add the whole spices, garlic, ginger, and chillies. Fry for another minute or so and then spoon over individual bowls of the lentils.
Serve with rice, popadoms or Indian flat breads and a selection of chutneys. Lime pickle and mango chutney are our favourites.

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