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Category Archives: Alternative Ingredients

Little Miss (gluten-free) Muffet!

I love happy accidents! This recipe I fell upon about a year ago – I can’t quite remember what it was that I was attempting to make when this recipe was born, but I managed to make a rather delicious hybrid! A cross between a Muffin and a Crumpet (A MUFFET if you will) and this original recipe has become the basis for a few recipes.  These little Muffets are great with a little butter and jam, perfect with a poached egg or two and just divine toasted, buttered and drizzled with Maple syrup and dusted with grated Cacao!  The combos are endless!

The best thing about this recipe is that it is super easy and once you have a batch made up you can just lightly toast them or have them as they are.  Perfect afternoon tea fodder, ready for Easter!

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Makes 10 large Muffets or 20 little Muffets!

Ingredients:

350g plain Dove’s gluten-free flour blend (or similar gf plain flour blend)

1 tbsp coconut sugar

1 tbsp coconut oil (solid oil) or if already liquid consistency 2 tbsp

1 1/4 tsp fast acting dry yeast

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1tbsp psyillium husks mixed into a gel like consistency with a splash of water

1 pint full fat goat milk

pinch of Himalayan salt

Method:

1) First sift the flour into a large mixing bowl.

2) Add the coconut sugar, Psyllium husk “gel” mix, salt and stir.

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Just a splash of water mixed into the husks will make the gel.

3) Add and mix in the yeast.

4) Warm up the goat milk for a couple of minutes, but it should not be boiling.  If my coconut oil is solid I add it to the milk to melt. No need to do this if the consistency is already liquid, just add straight to the flour mix along with the extra tablespoonful.

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5) Gradually pour in the warmed milk (and coconut oil) into the flour mix  and blend with an electric mixer with a dough hook attached.  Whizz away until all the lumps are out.  You might need to use a spatula to pull the dry ingredients off the side of the bowl and into the wet mix. Then add the bicarbonate of soda and give it one last whizz.

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6)  Cover the batter with cling film and leave for about an hour in a warm dry spot to let the yeast do its it ‘thang!

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7) After an hour or so the mixture will have doubled and if you lightly touch the top of the mixture it will leave a very small impression in the mix.  If in doubt you can leave it for another 20-30 minutes sometimes the yeast will work slower if the room is a bit cold.

8) I did these on top of my mum’s Aga directly onto a bake-o-glide sheet but you can just use a non stick pan lightly wiped with a little coconut oil to prevent sticking (over a medium heat warm the pan first before adding the batter)  For the small Muffets a tablespoonful of the batter will do – I find piling the mix on top of itself works best so that is settles into its size as it cooks.  For the larger ones two tablespoonfuls will do.  They take a couple of minutes each side to cook or until golden each side.

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They’ll go like “hot cakes!”

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The texture really is a cross between a muffin and a crumpet! And so was born the Muffet! 🙂

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This Muffin/Crumpet hybrid also very easily transitions into the “Scuffet!” A Scone, Muffin and a Crumpet in one! It is the same batter mix. All you do is add 100g of sultanas after the batter has sat and expanded for an hour or so. The dried fruit can stop the yeast from working, so I find it best to put the fruit in once the yeast has had a chance to work.

Once cooked and cooled (if you have some left after peeps have tucked in!) store them in an airtight container and to keep them fresh put the box in the fridge but you will need to warm them through or lightly toast them to serve.

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Lovely with a nice cuppa! ENJOY! 🙂

 

 

It’s Christmas!

I’ve been having a bit of break from the bloggin’ world for a little while as I was off fighting with giant anaconda & crocodiles for a tongue-in-cheek style movie; playing a rather fun, evil villainess character! My husband and I have also been designing our narrowboat which is going to be built in January 2015! Exciting and busy times ahead!

Before I forget: Merry Christmas to you all and may you have a very prosperous, happy and healthy new year! 🙂

Here is my Christmas pud recipe. I tested it for the first time last year and this year I feel it’s time to shout about it because it was really rather delicious!  My Christmas inspiration brings forth a big batch of mincemeat which can lend itself to stuffed baked apples or topping for natural yoghurt or little pies. It is also the main ingredient in my pud!

Buying dried fruit in bulk is often cheaper. I also think it’s worth looking for the most naturally dried fruits: just check the label for any added extras.  These recipes can easily be halved when catering for small gatherings.

Mincemeat: Fills 2 large 1.5l kilner jars…

500g dried currants

200g dried apricots, chopped

250g dried cranberries

200g dried prunes

500g dried date paste (soak the dates for a couple of hours and then blitz in the food processor to a smooth paste)

250g goat butter, frozen and then grated

juice and zest of 1 large orange

juice and zest of 2 clementines

100g chopped mixed peel

1/4 pint of brandy

1/4 pint of Cointreau

500g Macadamia Nuts, chopped

2 tsps mixed spice (I like to add an extra 2 tsps cinnamon)

Method:

Prep the ingredients as described. Add to a very large mixing bowl and get stuck in with the mixing! Store in the sterilized kilner jars and place in the fridge ready for use!

I love stuffing the mixure into large, cored cooking apples (make sure you score them around the circumference to stop them exploding!) and baking them in a deep roasting tray with a little water and foil to cover them (160C for about 45 minutes). I don’t add any extra sugar as the mincemeat is very sweet with all the dried fruits. Serve it with coconut cream or natural sheep yoghurt and, if needed, add a little extra sweetness with a drizzle of maple syrup!

Here is the Christmas pud recipe:

This can be made well in advance as long as it is sealed well and stored in a cool dry place. Equally, there’s no harm in making it on the big day if you haven’t got too many other cooking chores going on! It is super rich with the cacao element so this pud will stretch far!

Serves 10

Ingredients:

2lbs mincemeat (from the recipe above there will be plenty left over for other festive treats too!)

1 grated cooking apple

2 tbsps coconut oil, melted

2 tbsps pysllium husks, mixed with a splash of water to form gel-like consistency

3 level tbsps of GF brown bread flour (or coconut flour – whichever you prefer)

200g ground almonds

6 free-range eggs

2 tsps cinnamon

75g grated cacao from solid block (halve this if using ground cacao powder)

2.5 tsps bicarb of soda

1 tsp vit C powder

splash of brandy for setting it alight to serve!

Method:

Line and grease a large pudding basin (mine is big, it is 12cm in height and 19cm in width! This size takes about 3 pints I believe…) &  making sure there is enough parchment to go over the top of the pudding to ‘tuck it in’. I find cutting a few slits around the edge helps to sort of pleat and fold the paper to fit around bowl.

Put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl apart from the vitamin C and the bicarbonate of soda. You can mix the ingredients by hand but a dough hook on an electric mixer gets everything integrated really efficiently and keeps the batter nice and light. Finish by adding the vitamin C and the Bicarbonate of soda and giving it a quick whizz through.

Pour the mixture into the basin (making sure there is about an inch space from the mixture to the top of the basin for growing room!) and tuck the baking parchment over the top – not too tightly. More firmly wrap the foil over the top and tie a string around the rim of the bowl. It’s worth attaching a loop (via the string already in place) over the top of the basin to act as a handle, making it easier to pull out of the saucepan (and saving your paws) once it’s cooked. Poke a couple of holes into the foil with a skewer to allow for air flow as the pud cooks. Then place the basin into a large saucepan (filled 3/4 with water when basin is inside). Put a lid on and bring to the boil and simmer for about 3.5-4 hours, making sure the water doesn’t boil dry. The pudding will have expanded and will feel firm to the touch. If cooking and eating on the day leave in the basin to cool a bit before turning out. To heat a pre-cooked pud put it back into a saucepan water bath and simmer for about 1 hour with the lid on. Decorate the serving dish with holly, drizzle the pudding with brandy and set alight. Serve with coconut cream or brandy-infused custard (I make custard with coconut milk, egg yolks and sweeten it with agave syrup).

Enjoy!

I will be posting pictures at a later date!

 

Soups for the Soul

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I’m not one for wasting food. One of the best ways to get the most out of your roast dinner over a weekend is to use the bones & little scraps of meat left over to make a great stock for gravy & sauces, to be frozen for another time or to make the most heartwarming and delicious bowl of goodness – a soup for the soul.

Making your own broth/stock is apparently highly nutritious – rich in vitamins and antioxidants especially Phosphorous, Magnesium, and Calcium – so great for bone health.  Also, I have read (in science literature) that bone broth contains two very valuable amino acids called Proline and Glycine – these are the key components of building connective tissue – the biological glue that literally holds our body together and in addition, these amino acids also help to reduce inflammation in the body.  Perhaps this is why home-made chicken soup is always recommended for people recovering from colds or sickness.

I have two soup recipes here; one is Chicken soup and the other is an Asian-inspired Duck soup.  For the Chicken soup I used whole grain or brown rice – this is more nutritious than white rice and is a low GI option (for a less hearty soup just leave the rice out).  I also topped it with my favourite superfood veggie, Kale!

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For the Duck soup – I topped it with Dulce which a slightly spicy and highly nutritious seaweed (Iron, B6, B12 & Iodine) – it works well with fish & seafood dishes but also great in this soup. You could perhaps try adding buckwheat or quinoa noodles which would make a nice low GI addition, but this weekend when I made it, I left the noodles out as I wanted something a little lighter to compliment the glorious weather!

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For the Chicken Soup:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (carcass left over from a roast dinner)

enough filtered water to completely cover the carcass – (about 2 litres I found)

1 onion

2 sticks celery

2 carrots

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic

good pinch of Himalayan salt

black pepper

small bunch of fresh herbs – thyme, rosemary, parsley (or whatever you prefer)

100g Kale, shredded

50g cooked brown rice (optional)

Method:

1) Put the chicken carcass in a large casserole pan.  Pour in enough filtered water to completely cover the chicken. I have been known to just do this stage, put the lid on and leave it until the next morning to go on to the next stage – it just depends on how much time you have.

2) Next throw in a pinch of salt & pepper, the bay leaves, a few sprigs of rosemary & thyme (save the parsley for later,) 1 carrot – whole, 1 stick of celery – whole, half an onion (no need to chop) – then lid on. Bring the water up to a boil, before lowering the temperature right down to the lowest setting, and simmering away for about 4 hours until the bones separate when prodded.  Time enough, to do some house chores, sort your schedule out for the week, read a book, watch a movie or whatever floats your boat! 😉

2) Put a colander over a large bowl and pour the meat broth into it.  Allow to cool. What you then do, is pick out any bits of meat left and set aside for later – throw out the bones, skin, veg & herbs etc.

3) Put the broth in the fridge for 30 minutes or so – this will help any fat to solidify a bit on the top.  You can then skim the fat off with a large spoon.  If you just want to use this for stock you can either freeze the lot or pour into ice trays to make “stock cubes,” to use in sauces for later.

4) Then put the clarified broth back into your large casserole pan.  Add the shredded meat, crushed garlic, and the last of the veg: onion (finely chopped), celery, carrot – roughly chopped (I like mine quite chunky).  Then gently bring up to the boil and back to a simmer again.  Gently simmer for about 15 minutes.

5) When the carrot and celery are tender – but still with a bit of bite (you don’t want to lose all the vitamins by over-cooking!),  add in the cooked brown rice and warm through for about 2 minutes. Then add in the Kale, give it a good stir, turn the heat off and put the lid on for 5 minutes – this will wilt and steam the Kale.  Finally add the chopped parsley and more salt & pepper to taste. Serve on its own. If you have added the rice – it makes for a fully rounded lunch or light supper or if without the rice, you could serve it with a bit of Bella’s bread! 😉

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Asian inspired Duck Soup:

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Ingredients:

Duck carcass (I used a crown as it was on offer at the supermarket!)

enough filtered water to completely cover the carcass (again I found about 2 litres worked fine)

1 Carrot

1 stick celery

1 onion

4 star anise

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp juniper berries

6 spring onions, finely chopped (save the softer green ends to add at the end – why waste it?)

2 sticks lemon grass, finely chopped

1 courgette, finely chopped

50g fine green beans – chopped into inch long pieces

1 red chilli, chopped (take seeds out if you don’t like it too hot)

2 cloves garlic crushed

small bunch of coriander shredded

20g dulse (dried seaweed) you can get this from a health food or Asian supermarket.

1 tbsp Tamari – gluten-free soy sauce (available at most supermarkets make sure it is naturally brewed and GM free too)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 lime juice (optional)

Method:

1) Same as the chicken soup – cover the carcass in filtered water so completely submerged – add the bay leaves, star anise, juniper berries, whole carrot, whole onion, whole celery, salt, pepper.  Lid on, bring up to a boil then lower the temperature to lowest setting – simmer for about 4 hours.  Next, strain into a bowl and allow the liquid to cool. From the solid stuff you’ve just strained, pick out any bits of meat, and a few of the juniper berries and set them aside for later. Throw the bones skin, star-anise, veg etc out. Put the liquid broth in fridge for 30 minutes and when the fat has solidified a bit, skim it off the top.

2) Put the broth back into your casserole pan along with the meat and juniper berries that you set aside earlier, together with the garlic – crushed, chilli, lemon grass, courgette, white part of the spring onions and green beans. Gently simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes until the veg is tender – but again, not over done!

3) Put the Dulse (dried seaweed) into a bowl and cover with water to rehydrate.

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4) In the meantime, turn the heat off and add to the casserole pan, the green part of the spring onions and the shredded coriander – put the lid on and leave for a couple of minutes to wilt.

5) Finally rinse the Dulse thoroughly under cold water, gently tear it up and add to the casserole pan. Ladle the finished soup into bowls.  Season with black pepper and a splash of Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) and a few drops of sesame oil & a squeeze of lime to taste. If you like it spicy add a little extra fresh chopped chilli too.

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You might ask is it worth it? Well I definitely think so – your not wasting anything and you get a few more meals out of that Sunday roast, not to mention all those health-boosting powers! 🙂

Himalayan Salt

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It was while I was in South Africa filming Sniper Reloaded that I first encountered a bag of funny pink salt on a shelf, in the kitchen I was sharing with Chad Michael Collins and Billy Zane.  We were all staying at this lovely family run hotel called Kosmos Manor overlooking Hartbeespoort Dam.  It was actually a great bonus that while we were away from home, we could all cook our own food – or if we wanted we could also request the friendly staff to cook something up for us too.  We would all come back on our days off with a selection of goodies to last us a few days, with our own shelves to keep things on.  I wasn’t as healthy then, as I am now and of course, these two gorgeous men had come from LA where health, diet and fitness is in-grained in most people, particularly those who are in showbiz.  I noticed Chad liked to eat a lot of grass-fed meat, while Billy had brought his own special pink salt all the way from LA.  So I was already curious and wanted to know more.  After shooting the movie, I moved to LA and it was there that this curiosity took me on a wonderful journey of discovery, learning about all sorts of unusual and healthful ingredients.

You may think salt is just salt right? Well, no actually it isn’t.  There are different types of salt and it is the processing of the salt that really makes the difference between an ordinary table condiment or a super boost in the nutritional stakes.

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Sea salt is popular as it sounds like it must be naturally formed right? Well yes it comes from sea water, which is evaporated at high temperatures; it is an improvement on the higher processing methods that some table salt goes through, including bleaching and added additives. However at the end of all this high heat treatment, sea salt is left with only around 8 minerals.

The reason Himalayan salt is apparently the superior seasoner of choice is because it has 84 minerals and trace elements and it is not processed or heat-treated.  It is mined at the Khewra Salt mines and the mineral content is naturally composed in a highly absorbent form that the body can easily use.  It is a little more pricey than other salts on the market, because it is mined, but the superior health benefits are surely worth it.  Buy from a reputable company as you want to make sure you are getting the real deal – ask at your local health food shop or research online.

Of course it goes without saying that over use of any salt is not recommended.

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Apparently Himalayan Salt…

1) …promotes vascular health – so supports healthy heart function.

2) …promotes PH balance in the cells of your body, particularly you brain cells.

3) …promotes blood sugar health, balancing out those insulin levels.

4) …helps reduce the signs of ageing – always a plus!

5) …promotes superior absorption of food particles through your intestinal tract.

6) …supports respiratory health.

7) …helps prevent muscles cramps – so helpful when exercising.

8) …supports your libido – can’t be bad! 😉

9) …assists in the generation of hydroelectric energy in all the cells of your body – helpful for increased stamina.

10) …promotes bone health and strength.

11) …promotes regulation of a healthy sleep cycle.

12)… tastes great and it’s pink! 🙂

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Flying Steak Crispy Kale Salad

As a teenager I dabbled with being vegetarian, I then made life a little easier for myself by eating fish and chicken – being gluten-free can be challenging enough and cutting out other food groups by choice, perhaps made my life a little harder than it really needed to be – particularly on the social side of things.  I actually think your body has a good sense of what it really needs.  It was in a rather fancy restaurant in LA with my then boyfriend (he’s now my husband) that on scooting through the menu to see what I could eat (without having to make too many adjustments for my dietary requirements) my eyes fell on steak – a big juicy 28 day aged sirloin.  When the waiter arrived to take our orders even before I could think about the words coming out, I had ordered this large juicy steak, with a salad and sweet potato wedges – to say my boyfriend’s jaw hit the floor was an under statement!  I still remember that meal and can honestly say my body thanked me.  Since then I have gradually introduced all sorts of meat cuts alongside fish, seafood and poultry and of course I still eat a lot of vegetables, a little fruit, nuts, seeds, and home-made low GI cakes & treats and of course dark chocolate – and I believe that it is with this variety I have seen the most improvement in my general health and wellbeing not to mention my skin and hair.  This was my personal journey but I understand it is individual for everyone.

I have found that ordering good quality meat direct from a farm and knowing and understanding their farming practices really gives you peace of mind that you are getting a quality product. Also that the animals are treated humanely. From a cost perspective it often works out cheaper to order this way, than from buying individual cuts at the supermarket.

This super simple little salad I created goes along this theme of broadening the palate.  So bearing in mind the above paragraph I am not suggesting you head off to Trafalgar Square and pick up a pigeon from there… So I thought I would try some pigeon also known as flying steak – as it does indeed taste like a cross between a good steak (and duck I think!)  Super nutritious crispy Kale and a few sweet plums makes this a real showstopper of a salad.

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Ingredients:

4 wild pigeon breasts, seasoned with himalayan salt and black pepper

1 tbsp Coconut oil

1 onion roughly chopped

4 ripe plums sliced into bite sized pieces

1-2  200g bags of Kale, (if not pre-washed, rinse, salad spin & pat dry with kitchen paper, you want it to be as dry as possible)

2-3 tsp light olive oil

good pinch of himalayan salt

pinch of hot smoked paprika (optional)

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 100C,

Serves 2 or 4 if having as a starter.

1) Dehydrated Kale is really trendy right now and for good reason it tastes so darn good, not to mention it’s a crazy, super-power, vit hit!  You can buy a special dehydrator but for those on a budget or without the kitchen space, it is easy enough to do in the oven! I have said 1-2 bags of Kale – it really depends on how hungry you are, also it does tend to shrink when you dehydrate it; so I would say 1 bag is fine for a light salad for 2, but you might want to add a bag if doing a starter for 4 or you just want a larger salad for 2.  Spread the kale out onto two baking sheets (you might need more if using extra bag)  put a teaspoon or so of light olive oil on your hands and kind of massage the kale with it, really just a light coating – do the same with the other baking sheet of kale. Sprinkle with himalayan salt and if you like a little heat add the hot smoked paprika too.  Put into the preheated oven and turn the oven temp down to about 65C – bake or rather dehydrate the kale for 50-60 minutes until evenly crispy. You will achieve this by tossing the kale every 10-15 minutes to get an even crispness.  My oven is fan assisted, but it might depend on your oven settings to achieve the crisp level you want – with more or less time. I can literally eat a whole bag of crispy kale it tastes so good! 40 minutes into this process you can move on to stage 2!

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2) At the 40min mark, while the kale is still doing its crispy ‘thang, heat 1/2 of the coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the onion until it is transparent about 2 minutes, then add the sliced plums and cook until they have a little colour approx 2 minutes.  Put the onion and plum mixture in a bowl to one side.

3) Then add the last bit of coconut oil to the pan, turn the heat up, you want it your pigeon breasts to sizzle when they hit the pan – cook these medium rare so they are a little pink in the middle (however if you prefer, cook a bit more – but too much and they might get a bit tough).  They should get a good golden browning on each side, I found it took about 2-3 minutes each side to achieve this. Once cooked to your liking, put them to one side to rest.

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In this pic you can see I sliced it quite thick, but I ended up slicing it thinner before adding to the Kale. My husband likes it this rare – but you can cook to order and plate up separately.

4) While the pigeon is resting add the onion and plum mixture back to the pan to warm through and soak up the meat juices.

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5) Finally get the Kale out the oven and add to a large bowl.  Slice the pigeon breast into bite sized slivers and add back to the onion and plum pan to get a good coating.  Finally toss the whole lot together in the large “kale” bowl.

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Inspired to try something different?

Why does Apple Cider Vinegar have a mother?

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Well, we have all come from a mother and I would hope for most people a loving one at that; but it does sound strange that a vinegar would “have/need a mother.”  I hope to bring some insight here.

Not many people would think of vinegar being particularly useful from a medicinal point of view but choose the right one and you have yourself a very powerful tonic for your body!  Yes vinegar can be bought in a wide variety of shops and many of us think of it as a good mixer for salad dressings or for chips or even for polishing windows! Unfortunately a lot of these vinegars are refined, filtered and pasteurised which gets rid of a lot of the health boosting properties that are beneficial to us.

Apple Cider vinegar is totally natural, resulting from the fermentation of apple juice to apple cider and then a second fermentation produces apple cider vinegar.  The mother is a web like formation that floats in the vinegar – it is full of beneficial bacteria, living nutrients and enzymes.  The vinegar although it has a low acidity (5%) to it, it actually has an alkaline effect on the body – apparently an overly acidic body can lead to more disease and illness.

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I have also read that it aids detoxification, is anti-fungal, lowers cholesterol, and can be beneficial for people suffering from arthritis – again I am sure that is related to balancing out the acidity in the body – acidity apparently can also mean more inflammation…

So you may ask how to take this powerful tonic?  Some people like to take it in a shot glass first thing in the morning and last thing at night – this is a strong approach!  Personally I put a splash into a glass and top it up with water – if I’m at home I’ll have 3-4 glasses a day.  For those that have a sweeter tooth, I recommend perhaps trying it with a little honey or a teaspoon of maple syrup.

I also use it to make my salad dressings and my home-made mayo:

Bella’s Vinaigrette:

4 tbsp Hemp oil (omega 3 fatty acids)

2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mummy!)

Pinch of Himalayan salt (84 trace elements)

Pinch black pepper

And how about a few snips of fresh dill

and a teaspoon of Wholegrain mustard to clinch it – see bracket below*.

(*try to find a mustard that is as natural as possible and gluten-free or alternatively crush a few mustard seeds bashed in a pestle and mortar)

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Power breakfast: left over chicken, avocado drizzled with Bella’s dill vinaigrette & radishes

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Power lunch: Smoked mackerel salad with Bella’s Vinaigrette

Bella’s home-made Mayo: with or without garlic: this makes enough to store in a jar in the fridge to use in other salads or for dunking crudites as a snack! Will keep for about a week.

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For starters? Prawns cooked in coconut oil & hot smoked paprika delicately drizzled in Bella’s home-made garlic mayo… Hungry yet?

Ingredients:

4 Fresh egg yolks (Organic Free-range if poss)

2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, don’t forget the mummy! 😉

1 small clove of garlic, crushed (optional)

2 tsp Wholegrain Mustard (again best to go as natural as you can here see above note *)

Approx 1/4 pint Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Salt (Himalayan if poss) & Black Pepper

Method:

Add the Egg Yolks to a food processor and blitz until the egg yolk starts to go a bit paler. At this stage slowly add the Olive Oil whilst the processor is still whizzing. The colour will slowly start to fade as the mixture starts to thicken. Next add the Apple Cider Vinegar one tablespoon at a time. After that add the crushed garlic (you can leave the garlic out if you don’t like it), Salt, Pepper and finally the Mustard – keep blending for another couple of minutes to further smooth and thicken the mixture. At this stage give it a little taste to check the seasoning – you might want to add a little more oil, salt or pepper or even a touch more vinegar – personal preference here but if you add anything more – just give it another whizz in the processor to make sure it is fully combined.  Add the mixture to jar and store in the fridge to chill down.

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Free range Gammon steak, steamed sweet potato and mixed chopped salad with grated carrot, celeriac, apple, lettuce, parsley, dill, toasted pumpkin seeds and Bella’s home-made garlic mayo!

Vegetables and salads should never be boring or tasteless and with the right combinations of dressings and textures your palate will be buzzing with joy and your body bursting with vitality and health! 🙂

Do you love me? Do you love me? Valentine Cookie Bites

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Heart shaped cookies for your valentine and the perfect red colour! If you love someone, you want them to be around for as long as possible! Just because it’s a “commercial” day of love, why not give them a delicious treat, that’s home-made and won’t ruin their health?

Ok here’s the scoop – one version can be done without the dark chocolate and these then actually become a delicious snack with creamy goat cheese.  Or with at least 72% dark chocolate you’re looking at that ultimate indulgence and of course adding lots of lovely anti-oxidants.  Super easy and great to share!

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Valentine Cookie Bites:

Makes around 50 small hearts or 25 large hearts

1 tbsp coconut oil

65g goat butter or more coconut oil if you can’t do dairy at all

juice of 1 lemon

1 large beetroot chopped fairly small

50g dried pitted dates

splash of water

1/2 a vanilla pod, seeds scraped out or a few drops of essence

45g cacao block, sugar free (I use Willis Cacao) roughly chopped

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pinch of himalayan salt

200g ground almonds

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (sieved)

40g 72% or more dark chocolate buttons (if you are adding) roughly chopped.

Method:

Preheat the oven: 140C

1) Peel and chop the beetroot, throw in a pan with the coconut oil and the lemon juice – lid on bring up to boil and then let simmer away for about 30 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool.

2) In the meantime put your dates, vanilla and a splash of water in another pan; cook on a medium heat for around 10 minutes until most of the liquid has gone and the dates are soft. Allow to cool.

3) Blitz the softened, cooled dates in a food processor to make a paste.

4) Add the cooled beetroot including any liquid/juice left and the goat butter and blitz some more, until smooth.

5) Over a bain-marie melt the Cacao. Then add this to the beetroot mixture with a pinch of salt. Blitz again and then add the ground almonds and blitz briefly to combine.

6) Put the mixture into a large mixing bowl – add the bicarbonate of soda and fold in the roughly chopped dark chocolate buttons, if using.

7) Put a large ball of the mixture between two sheets of greaseproof paper – roll to about 3-5mm thick and get to work with your heart shaped cookie cutters – you might want to use a knife to cut away the excess mixture and leave the cookies on the sheet as you cut them – then you can just lift the sheet onto a baking sheet to cook. Repeat until you have no mixture left!

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8) Once they are all cut out bake in the oven for 20-25mins. Allow to cool before serving as the cookie bites firm up as they cool.

A little heart shaped gift box with home made cookies – who can resist?

And how about a little Love tea too?

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HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! 🙂