Tag Archives: cooking

Trullo Pastas

Peter bought me the Trullo cookbook as a pre-Christmas gift and we decided to celebrate the New Year with an Italian themed dinner.

Trullo is a very popular Italian restaurant in Highbury – North London – its always busy, gets great reviews and serves delicious unfussy Italian food.

Our starter was Burrata with anchovy paste and broad beans – this is the sort of dish i always order when im out for dinner and it was surprisingly easy to make – blitzing anchovies, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice in the nutri-bullet, and simply topping with the burrata and scattering broad beans on top.

Anyway – on to the main courses which i will write up here – both very simple and tasty and again, the sorts of dishes I would always order in an Italian restaurant.

Firstly for the Orecchiette with Broccoli, Anchovy and Chilli

Serves 2
500g Tenderstem or Purple Sprouting Broccoli
2 Garlic Cloves – finely diced
Sprinkle of dried Chilli flakes
1/2 tin Anchovies
200g Orecchiette Pasta (Farfalle is recommended if you cant source the “little ears”)
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Parmesan – for seasoning at the end

Boil the broccoli for 7 minutes and leave to one side.
Boil the pasta according to instructions – ours took around 10minutes which is exactly how long the sauce took to cook!
In a shallow frying pan gently fry the garlic and chilli in some olive oil until the garlic starts to colour. Add the anchovies to melt for 3 minutes. Add the broccoli and a dash of water and pop a lid on the pan for 8-10 minutes. Remove the lid, season and add more olive oil for a little extra richness. Mix together with the pasta and serve with parmesan shavings on top.

The second dish was Linguine with Crab – this used both white and brown crab meat and was a completely new but easy and super tasty way of cooking a crab and pasta dish.

Serves 2
1 tin White crab meat
80g Brown crab meat
200g Linguine
1/2 Red Chilli – diced
20g Butter
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper
1tbsp Parsley – chopped

Cook the linguine in boiling water for 10 minutes – again this is roughly how long the crab takes to prepare.
In a bowl, mix together the brown and white crab, chilli, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper and leave to one side.
In a large shallow frying pan, gently fry the butter and add the crab mixture – mix well, adding a splash of pasta water to seperate if needed. Once the pasta is cooked and drained – add this to the crab and mix thoroughly – adding more pasta water if needed. The sauce will emulsify as it coats the linguine.
Serve with a little extra black pepper to taste.

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Baked Eggs & Baked Beans

Today for my brunch/lunch after a long and very tough workout at the gym i came home to a fridge full of left over vegetables and various bits and bobs remaining not eaten by my clan whilst they spent Christmas with me in Toots.

After a good rummage through the fridge and the cupboard- baked eggs and beans it was!

A filling meal, packed with goodness from courgette, spinach and tomatoes and a good dose of protein to help my post workout recovery. I used borlotti beans which are also a great source of protein but are also packed with iron and magnesium – good for blood pressure and also help digestion (needed after Christmas feasting!)

Serves 2
Olive Oil
1 tin borlotti beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 onion – diced
Pinch of Chilli Flakes
1/2 Courgette – diced
2 Handfuls of Spinach
4 Eggs
Yoghurt & Sumac to serve

Start by pre-heating the oven to 200 degs and popping the serving dishes in to warm up. This is important to ensure the eggs cook quickly and well. In a cold oven/dish the eggs will take at least 30minutes to cook and will likely go hard on top remaining uncooked inside.

Fry the onion in a little olive oil and as it softens sprinkle chilli flakes and add the courgette.
Once softened, add the beans and tomatoes and mix well. Add the spinach and season to taste.

Split the mixture between two hot bowls and crack two eggs into each. Place in the hot oven and bake for 8-10minutes until the whites are no longer translucent.

Once cooked, top with some yoghurt and sprinkle with sumac – eat with some chunky bread soldiers!

Harissa Roasted Aubergine with Couscous & Feta Salad

Recently I have been experimenting with vegetarian meals in a bid to cut down on my meat consumption. I could never totally give up meat – i value the protein, nutritional content and my roast dinners too much but am trying to have at least 2 veggie days per week especially on days when i dont exercise.

Aubergines are an excellent aource of vitamin C – good for healthy skins and cells and wound healing. Aubergines also contain Vitamin K and B6 which are needed for healing, healthy blood cells and energy.

This meal was made up of food needing to be eaten from fridge and stuff already in the cupboard and was quick, easy, light and very tasty. It was also surprisingly filling so if you are looking for a light dinner give this a go.

Serves 1
1 Aubergine
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp harissa
1tsp honey or agave
1tsp lemon juice
60g Couscous (bulgar or quinoa would also work)
20g Feta – cubed
Handful of Greens – i used tenderstem broccoli, asparagus and runner beans
Handful of pomegranate seeds

Halve the aubergine and score the flesh with a knife into criss-cross pattern. Mix together the olive oil, harissa, lemon juice and honey and generously  brush over the flesh of the aubergine. Place in the oven at 180degs for 25 minutes or until softened. To assemble the salad, cook the couscous to instructions – I usually cover with boiling water and leave for 5 minutes until cooked through. Steam any greens that you are using. Simply mix the grains, greens, feta and pomegranate seeds adding a little lemon juice, oregano and sumac for extra zing and flavour.
Serve with the aubergine on top for a tasty, healthy, vegetarian dinner.

Tofu Time

I love tofu! I’m on a one woman rampage trying to convert everyone – Elix has just about gotten on board with it and the tofu rice bowl i made for dinner helped in encouraging her into the tofu fan club.

Tofu – made by curdling fresh soya milk and allowing it to firm up as it cools is a great source of protein, calcium and iron. It helps to keep bad cholesterol low and is good for hormone balancing. Great to incorporate into your diet if you are trying to cut out meat but still want a decent amount of protein.

Serves 2
250g Firm Tofu
4tbsp Cornflour
Salt & Pepper
Vegetable Oil
1 Red Chilli – sliced
1 Carrott – julienned
1/2 Cucumber – julienned
150g Shitake Mushrooms – sliced
150g Spinach
3tbsp Soy Sauce
3tbsp Mirin
1tsp Grated Ginger
2tbsp Sesame Oil
1tsp Grated Garlic
2 servings brown rice – cooked to instructions

This recipe requires a couple of pans to be on similtaneously so I advise prepping, chopping and measuring all the ingredients before you start to cook anything. Mix together the cornflour, salt and pepper and coat the tofu pieces. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and gently fry the tofu pieces with the aliced chilli – turn them to achieve a golden, crispy coating.
Whilst the tofu is cooking, mix together the soy, mirin, garlic, ginger and sesame oil – fry the mushrooms in this sauce and as the mushrooms soften, mix in the spinach.
To assemble the rice bowl, place the rice at the base and the raw carrott and cucumber on top. This gives some fresh crunch to the dish. Now place the saucy mushrooms and spinach on top and finally the crispy, chilli and tofu. Pour any remaining sauce from the mushrooms over the top for extra flavour – almost like a gravy! If you fancy, make this into a bibimbap and top with a fried egg and sriracha chilli sauce! Mix everything together into a giant mess before eating – this way you get a mouthful of all the textures and temperatures aswell as chilli and sweet, sticky sauce.

Recovery Salad – Watermelon, Feta and Tuna

I’ve had a tough week – an infection and high blood pressure has had me in an ambulance, at the doctors, in tears, in bed and quite frankly feeling pretty pants!

I’m on the mend now and more eager than ever to get my diet on track with a focus on maintaining good blood pressure levels and good energy levels – i am supposed to be training for the 3 peaks challenge after all!

After a long day at work yesterday at the end of which I had a banging headache, I took myself home for a relaxing evening of healthy dinner and catch up on celebrity big brother (my not-so-guilty pleasure!)

A little reading of The Optimum Nutrition Bible, my trusted Neals Yard Healing Foods book and The Happy Kitchen by Rachel Kelly gave me inspiration for a quick and easy salad which would hopefully help me get some balance and energy back as well as help me feel better.

Feta, Watermelon and Tuna salad quite honestly sound like three ingredients which should never be eaten together but the salad was fresh, sweet and light. Peppery rocket goes fantastically with salty feta and zingy watermelon and the sweet black olives cut through the fatty tuna. Trust me on this one and if you cant then either leave out the tuna (or substitute for chicken) or switch the watermelon for tomatoes to retain some juicy sweetness.

The reasons i chose this salad after being poorly this week are :

Watermelon – rich in vitamin c and antioxidants which are good for immune support and contains potassium which helps to normalise blood  pressure. Watermelons are also good for digestion having a natural diuretic effect.

Rocket – protects against infections through very high vitamin C content  – it is also used for its energising and detoxifying qualities.

Tuna – a semi oily fish – good source of magnesium and potassium which are good for heart health and helping keep blood pressure low. Tuna is a great protein, good for energy and heart health.

Feta – helps supply a sustained energy and help to keep the gut running  nicely ensuring good digestion.

Ok – so now for the construction of the salad which is nice and easy. Marinate 100g diced tuna steak in some lime juice, olive oil and a teaspoon of oregano and leave to one side. Start to assemble the salad with 80g rocket as the salad base. Scatter over 20g low fat feta (chopped into small cubes), 90g diced watermelon, 1/2 red onion – thinly sliced, 70g black olives (halved). Gently fry the tuna in a pan for 2 minutes (save any of the marinade as this becomes the salad dressing) until sealed on the outside and still pink on the inside. Pop the tuna on top of the salad and scatter some shredded mint leaves and the left over lime and oregano dressing on top. Enjoy and feel good!

 

New Year’s Resolutions

My new year has been pretty tough so far – yes I know – only 12 days in, but amongst the stress and tiredness I have found solace in cooking and contentment in eating healthy and nutritious, tasty food. My January issue of Olive magazine inspired me with some new recipes and I wanted to note them on here – partly to share them but also to serve as a record of the recipe as Elix and I tend  to forget the recipes we love and end  up spending ages trying the locate them in all my old magazines and cookbooks.

The first is a Smashed Beef Laap with Fennel & Ginger which was filling without being stodgy, easy to make, tasty and good for you with plenty of fresh herbs, vegetables and aromatics. I have made a couple of changes from the original recipe, adding salad leaves in and also leaving out the roasted rice powder which is added to the dressing.

A laap is a traditional Loatian dish which is usually cooked with minced meat  flavoured with fish sauce and lime juice and served with sticky rice. Whilst this salad uses sliced steak I think it would be tasty whether served with griddled meat, minced meat, seafood or vegetables including mushrooms would work well.

3cm grated Ginger
1tsp Fennel Seeds
3 sliced cloves Garlic
1 Sirloin Steak
2 sliced Shallots
A handful of salad leaves
1/2 stick Lemongrass – finely sliced
2 shredded kaffir lime leaves
1 Lime – half to serve in wedges and half juiced for the dressing
2 tbsp Fish Sauce
2 tsp Caster Sugar
1/2tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Red Chilli – finely sliced
1 small bunch coriander & mint
Steamed Rice – to serve

Pound the ginger, 1 garlic clove, fennel seeds and some salt into a paste and rub over the steak. Leave to marinade overnight in the fridge.
One ready to cook, brush the steak with oil and sear on a griddle pan for 2 minutes on each side (or, as done as you like your steak) and leave to rest.
Fry the rest of the garlic and mix with the remaining ingredients to make a lightly dressed salad.
Serve the rice and salad side by side topped with the flavoursome juicy sliced steak.

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The second recipe is the cover picture from Olive and I can see why – it looks colourful, light and delicious and trust me, was amazing to eat. Supergrain Salmon Salad with Chilli and Mint Dressing uses freekeh which is a North African/Middle Eastern wheat grain which has a nutty taste and is full of protein and fiber. If you struggle to find some in the shops you could use quinoa, pearl barley or couscous. I added avocado to this recipe because I love it, I also think other veggies including tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli and spinach would work really well – whatever you like!

100g Freekeh
2 Salmon Steaks
2 tbsp Harissa Paste
Salad Leaves to serve
1 Avocado diced
For the Dressing:
Juice of 2 Lemons
1tsp Ground Cumin
1 Red Chilli – finely chopped
Finely Chopped Mint

Cook the freekeh in vegetable stock for 30 mins or until tender and drain. Mix with the dressing ingredients and some olive oil.
Brush the salmon with the harissa and grill for 5-6 minutes, when cooked as you like it, use a fork to gently flake into chunks.
Pile the grains, greens and dressing and top with the salad for a tasty lunch or light dinner.

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My New Favourite Salad for Dinner

The title of this blog says it all – i have a new favourite salad that i have been cooking for myself at least once a week for a while now – its fresh, tasty, warming and packed with goodness.
Im going through a bit of a “phase” or “fad” presently trying to be more aware of what im eating and the nutritional benefits of ingredients that i use to improve my health and happiness. This salad ticks and few of those boxes so i thought id share.
The recipe was originally in Stylist magazine but iv made a few tasty tweaks.

(Serves 1)
Ingredients
Chicken Breast x1
Sweet Potato x1 peeled and cubed
Spinach leaves
Chilli flakes
Rosemary leaves chopped
1 clove garlic grated
Apple x1
Half a Fennel
Half an Avocado

Dressing
Olive Oil
Cider Vinegar
English Mustard

Start by pre-heating the oven to 200 degs, part boil the cubed sweet potato then pop into a roasting dish with a sprinkle of chilli flakes and a drizzle of olive oil.
I butterfly my chicken breast and marinate with olive oil, garlic and rosemary and leave to one side.
Assembly of the salad is very simple – spinach on the base with chopped avocado and thinly sliced fennel. Thinly slice the apple and marinate in the dressing ingredients – i tend to use half a teaspoon of mustard and equal quantities of the oil and vinegar but feel free to adapt depending on how much of a kick you like or how sharp you like the taste to be.
Cook the chicken on a griddle and slice into strips.
To serve, add the sweet potato onto the salad, apple on top of that and chicken on last and drizzle with any leftover dressing from the apples.

chix salad

Now for the nutrition part….
Cider vinegar is good in dressings as not only is it tasty but acts as an antioxidant, has been known to kill bacteria, is low in calorie. Some studies have shown it can also help heart health and lower blood sugar.

Spinach – as popeye used to say this i good for big muscles and bones but it also is high in antioxidents and vitamin c which help against inflammation protecting against heart disease and the build up of unhealthy cholestrol.

Sweet Potatoes – superfood providing huge amounts of vitamin c benefiting skin health and the immune system aswell as balancing blood sugar levels. When researching about sweet potatoes I found out that the orange ones are good for combating heart rate and stress through high potassium levels, the purple ones support and protect the gut and the purple skin and yellow flesh potatoes are highest in antioxidents

Well  thats enough education for one day – my next blog is about all the tasty food I ate when on holiday in New York – in the run up to Christmas one cant be too healthy 😉