I’ve probably mentioned it here before countless times (though I can’t really remember any specific occasion) but I have a tomato intolerance. In some ways I am very lucky, it could have been a lot worse, like gluten or lactose, but as a 23 year old who just found out that their entire cooking repertoire was out it was pretty life altering.
If I had to pinpoint a moment when I became interested in cooking, that was it. Overnight the whole way I shopped for and ordered food changed, the premade jars of sauces and soups I lived off before were off the menu along with most of my favourite cuisines.
This all sounds very dramatic (which is felt at the time – I spent a lot of my early 20s channeling my inner diva), but years down the line I barely need to think about it anymore. Making nearly everything from scratch rather than to spend hours in the supermarket reading labels, checking menus out online so I know what to order when we go out for dinner and ordering food in the style of Sally Albright (from When Harry Met Sally) have become a part of life. Without the forced attention to food I would have never realised how much I love cooking and this blog would never have been created.
I have a mental checklist of my favourite foods that I don’t eat any more, and I have been very slowly working through remaking and perfecting what we call ‘Jenny-Friendly’ alternatives. So far we have pizza, curry and lasagna down, so just chilli, spaghetti bolognese and salsa to go.
This lasagna is based on the one from Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate, and was one of the reasons I eagerly purchased the book. The lack of a second sauce makes it quite dry and I found that the dried pasta sheets didn’t cook properly the first time I made it so now I use fresh pasta or presoak the dried pasta which I find more fiddly. I also found that pre cooking the garlic and sage made very little difference compared with how much attention it needed to stop them from catching. The original recipe only calls for butternut squash which I found made the dish a little bland but the addition of sweet potato gives it a boost of flavour. This dish freezes very well once baked.
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Lasagna
from Celebrate by Pippa Middleton
Half a butternut squash skinned, deseeded and cubed
1 medium sweet potato peeled and cubed
3 medium garlic cloves diced
20g fresh sage, reserve 8-10 leaves chop the rest
1 portion of fresh pasta rolled into 4 layers or a box of dried pasta sheets
30g parmesan grated
2 balls of mozerella
salt and pepper
1 pint of bechamel sauce.
Toss the cubed squash and sweet potato in olive oil and bake at 200C for 20 minutes.
Though I usually don’t prepare all my ingredients before I start cooking it is worth having everything out in bowls at this point.
If you’re using dried pasta cover the bottom of a roasting tray with sheets of pasta making sure they don’t overlap of they bind together, pour over boiling water and leave for 3 minutes before using. Repeat as necessary. This stage is a bit fiddly but I feel it makes a big difference to the final texture of the dish.
Layer the pasta, one third of the chopped garlic and herbs, roasted vegetables and sprinkle with a quarter of the parmesan, and pour over a quarter of the bechamel and repeat another two times.
Place the final layer of pasta, smooth the remaining bechamel over covering the pasta completely. Lay the whole sage leaves over the top then sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan and the torn mozerella.
Bake until the top is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes and serve hot.
As I have mentioned many times before (like here and here), I am trying to make a conscious effort to eat more healthily this year. Sometimes it’s little things like measuring oil in the pan whilst I’m cooking to limit the amount, and sometimes it feels huge like swapping to brown rice and pasta which I am not fond of.
This is definitely one of my new favourite healthier alternative dishes, the white flour, butter and sugar are replaced by a mixture of nuts, seeds and coconut held together with a splash of maple syrup and olive oil. It’s really quick and simple to make and easily customisable so you can use what have in your cupboards.
Head over to the Daily Quirk for the recipe.
I have no idea where last week went, whenever I sat down to do anything blog related something else came up. I guess that’s why people have back up posts lined up, but I have never been known for being organised.
I’ve got some beautiful and funny photos from the last few weeks that I can’t wait to share, but today I want to set my full attention to these pancakes. They are amazing. I read about them on Monet’s fantastic blog Anecdotes and Applecores and I knew I had to make them at the next possible opportunity.
Monet is one of the sweetest bloggers out there, she has an amazing style of writing that makes you feel like you’re sitting in her kitchen drinking a big cup of tea chatting whilst she works. Her cooking is wholesome and prepared with passion of someone who wants to nourish the people she loves. If you haven’t read her blog before, don’t hesitate, head over now.
These pancakes are thick, rich and full of flavour, I am a big fan of any recipe that uses extra fruit and vegetables as I am trying to have a more wholesome diet. The use of buttermilk gives the pancakes a great depth that can’t be achieved with just milk. I made a few changes to the original recipe, substituting melted butter for olive oil, mashing the bananas instead of chopping them, and adding a cup of blueberries because, well pancakes are always better with blueberries.
I found that the sugars from the mashed banana both burnt easily and slowed the pancakes from cooking through quickly so I would recommend cooking these on a low heat.
Banana and Blueberry Whole Grain Pancakes
adapted from Anecdotes and Applecores
Serves 2 hungry people
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup butter milk
1 banana mashed
1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
In a stand mixer mix the honey, oil, butter milk and eggs until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes)
Add the banana and give a quick whisk until mixed thoroughly.
In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients until well combined.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet, followed by the blueberries.
Heat your frying pan to a medium-low heat, and pour spoonfuls of the batter onto it.
Turn when the bottom of the pancake is a golden brown (lift the edge up to check) and the top is set.
Flip over and cook until golden brown.
Continue with the rest of the batter.
Serve hot with maple syrup.
I think Mexican has to be my favourite cuisine. It’s our first choice of restaurant when we go out, and features heavily in our meal planning at home too (I shared my favourite burrito recipe here).
Whilst I’d like to think that I’m quite adventurous with my choice of dishes, I regularly return to the same few recipe.
When looking into a menu to celebrate Cinco de Mayo I was determined to expand on my rather limited and European take on Mexican food. This sandwich incorporates some of my favourite aspects of Mexican cuisine, rich spicy beans with a hit of citrus and plenty of avocado.
Torta fillings vary as widely as burritos, the only constant being the crusty bread roll used. This would be a perfect dish to serve at a summer party with a buffet of fresh vegetable toppings for people to customise their own sandwiches.
Mexican Tortas with Deconstructed Guacamole
2 crusty bread rolls
125g chorizo sausage cut into quarters and then into chunks
1 avocado skinned, pitted and sliced
Finely chopped red chilli
Finely sliced red onion
Fresh coriander leaves
Slices of cheese (I used chilli infused red Leicester)
100g refried beans
Heat the refried beans through until warm.
Fry the chorizo until crispy.
Smother the inside of the roll with refried beans, sprinkle with chorizo and cover in cheese.
Place under the grill until the cheese is melted.
Layer slices of avocado and squeeze lime juice over.
Layer the rest of the fillings and enjoy hot.
April seems to have sped past in a blur, how is it that a third of 2013 is already gone?
It has been a good month, welcoming friends back to the UK, the eventual passing of winter into spring, and breaking out my cute city bike again after months of it sitting getting dusty in my flat being but a few highlights.
Like quite a few people, the camera roll on my iPhone serves as a handy memory aid, here are a few of my favourite shots from a speedy April.
When googling a recipe for gluten free nutella brownies my search came up disappointingly short. This recipe is adapted from one found at LondonBakes, this is Kathryn’s gluten free chocolate and macadamia nut brownies, replacing the macadamias with hazelnuts to make a nutella version.
The result is a thick fudge like brownie, which you wouldn’t guess is gluten free. The nut flavour is milder than I would have liked but it does come through.
Gluten Free Chocolate and Hazelnut ‘Nutella’ Brownies
adapted from a recipe featured in The Daily Telegraph by Sally Williams
makes approximately 20
300g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa I used 74%)
200g salted butter
200g caster sugar
30g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g hazelnuts ground in a food processor.
Preheat your oven to 180C, grease and line a 9 inch square tin.
Slowly melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Take when completely melted and mixed together, take the bowl off the pan of hot water and put to one side to cool.
In a separate bowl whisk together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add the cooled chocolate mixture and beat until well combined.
Sift in the bicarbonate of soda and cocoa then add the ground nuts.
Fold gently with a wooden spoon until combined.
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-30 minutes.
The top of brownies should have browned and an inserted cocktail stick will come out without raw batter on it (it won’t come out clean like with a cake but the brownies shouldn’t still be gooey)
Allow to cool fully before removing from the tin and cutting.