Turmeric Tangerine Porridge with Blackcurrant Compote

IMG_1477 smaller adjusted

Turmeric should be called a superspice. It’s got the most amazing colour, distinct flavour and even better it’s one of the best things you can eat, especially in these winter months when your body needs a good immune boost. It has a host of medicinal properties and nutrients – the most significant of which is curcumin. This compound is both a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and recent studies have shown that it can prevent heart attacks, delay the onset of diabetes and fight cancer by helping to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours.

You most probably associate turmeric with curry and savoury dishes, but it’s such a warming spice that it goes perfectly with porridge and, in general, with sweet, fruity flavours. Tangerines have a citrusy sweetness with subtle sour tangs, which combined with the turmeric creates a unique, mildly exotic taste, making every spoonful of porridge delicious. Tangerines are such a great seasonal fruit – they’re my go-to for a naturally sweet afternoon snack in the winter. Not only are they chock-full of vitamin C, they’re also grown in Spain, so they haven’t had to travel too far to my greengrocer in southern England.

IMG_1551 smaller adjusted

Swirling blackcurrant compote through this porridge really is the cherry on top of the cake. Blackcurrants are so overlooked as a berry, which is mad because they’re so good for you – packed with iron, as well as B vitamins and vitamin A. I use blackcurrants handpicked from my very own garden, which to me is just the most wonderful thing – truly organic, local and with no one else involved in the growing and gathering apart from me. These babies have been frozen since last summer, so if you can’t get your hands on any right now then try alternative berries for the compote and be ready for the blackcurrant season this year. They’re little gems.

IMG_1421 smaller adjusted 2

Serves 2

For the porridge:

  • 1 cup of oats
  • ½ cup of coconut milk or almond milk
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tangerines
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg

For the blackcurrant compote:

  • ½ cup of blackcurrants (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1½ teaspoons of yacon syrup, maple syrup or honey

IMG_1516 smaller adjusted

First of all, place the blackcurrants in a saucepan along with the water and sweetener of your choice and turn to a medium heat. Once the pan’s hot, keep stirring the blackcurrants until their juices start to come out and the berries are just starting to burst. At this point reduce the heat to low.

Juice the tangerines either by peeling their skins and squeezing out the juice from the segments by hand, or by putting them through a juicer if you have one. In another saucepan, pour in the oats, water and milk and bring to the boil. Once the oats are starting to absorb the liquid and break down, add the tangerine juice, turmeric, cinnamon and nutmeg. Give it a good stir to make sure everything is combined.

After 5-10 minutes, depending on whether you’ve used jumbo or porridge oats and how soft you like them, pour the porridge into two bowls and then top with the blackcurrant compote. I like to serve mine with a sprinkling of desiccated coconut.

Advertisements

Roasted Parsnip, Butter Bean & Almond Soup

IMG_0500 adjusted smaller

I’ve never been much of a soup person. Other people always go on about how great it is, how easy to make and how delicious it can be. Maybe it’s because I used to eat those Covent Garden soups from the supermarket which are bulked out with butter and cream – and that’s all they taste of to me. Soup from the supermarket, especially Tesco own or even Sainsbury’s own, just doesn’t cut it one bit. And they all seem to have funny, artificial, unidentifiable ingredients, just like almost everything else on the shelves. I’m also really not a fan of boiled vegetables or watery soup (keep broth away from me) – for me it has to be thick, creamy and tasty to the max.

And that’s exactly what this parsnip soup is. Roasting the parsnips really brings out their flavour, adding a nuttiness which you don’t get if you simply boil, and then the combination of butter beans, almonds and almond milk gives it a creamy (with not one drop of cream in sight) and hearty dimension. Including butter beans and almonds means this soup is brimming with protein, which again is what I think many vegetarian soups lack. Even better, it’s root vegetable time in Britain and parsnips are 100% in season. As well as being in season, they’re a great source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, and many minerals and vitamins such as manganese and vitamin K, and they contain many poly-acetylene antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.

This soup really does taste great, boosted by the garlic and spices – it’s a far cry from watery broth or buttery mush. And, it is super easy to make and is so warming on these ever deepening wintery days, so I really hope you whip it up and tuck in.

IMG_0471 adjusted

Serves 6:

  • 3 large parsnips
  • 1 cup/240g of butter beans (either 1 can’s worth or soaked overnight and simmered for 2 hours with a couple of garlic cloves and bay leaves)
  • ½ cup/120g of blanched almonds (soaked overnight)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 450ml of unsweetened almond milk
  • 550ml of vegetable stock
  • 1½ teaspoons of turmeric
  • 1½ teaspoons of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

IMG_0441 adjusted 2

Preheat your oven to 190°C. Peel the parsnips and chop into large hunks before placing on a baking tray. Sprinkle over some olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and then stir around to make sure all the pieces are coated before placing in the oven for about 45 minutes, turning them at least twice to make sure they roast evenly.

While the parsnip is roasting, peel and chop the garlic cloves into small discs. Add the tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and place on a medium heat, waiting for the oil to get hot before adding the garlic. Let it cook gently for a minute or so and then add the cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon of turmeric and ½ teaspoon of paprika. Stir in the spices so they have a chance to lightly fry and then remove from the heat.

Drain the blanched almonds then place in a food processor along with a very small amount of water. Blend until they’ve broken down into a smooth paste before adding the butter beans. Blend again until smooth. Once the parsnips are a nice golden brown all over, remove from the oven and place in a blender along with the blended butter beans and blanched almonds, fried garlic and spices, almond milk, vegetable stock, chilli flakes, the remaining 1 teaspoon of turmeric and paprika and a good grinding of salt and pepper and then blend until smooth. If you like your soup nice and thick it should be a good consistency but if you want it a bit thinner then add a little water until you get the thickness you want. If serving straight away pour into bowls, otherwise reheat when ready and enjoy!

Chilli Sin Carne

IMG_8335 smaller adjusted 6

Chilli Con Carne used to be one of my favourite meals. Something about that rich, spicy, tomato-based sauce really hit the spot – Mexicans totally got it right. With rice, with tortilla chips (+ avocado = yummy nachos), folded inside wraps, and always with a blob of guacamole on the side, I was a bit of a gorger. But since beef isn’t something I eat anymore, for a while there was this slight gaping hole. I went through a phase of making it with quorn mince (Chilli Con Quorne), but looking on the back of the packet it’s made up of a bunch of things (like calcium acetate) which aren’t actually real food. For all its protein-packed benefits, quorn (proudly producing an endless supply of meat free ‘meat’ such as quorn chicken pieces and quorn pork pies) is made primarily of something called mycoprotein, which apparently comes from a fungus and is grown in vats using glucose syrup as food. It’s not animal protein, which you might think can only be a good thing; but it’s completely processed and artificial, and just really isn’t that good for your body, whatever it claims on the label.

Dropping Chilli Con Quorne, I recently made a cauldron-sized amount of a very Mexican-style chilli, but bursting with vegetables. And I have to say the flavours really are amazing – the sweet, aromatic Romano pepper with the soft and fluffy roasted aubergine and courgette, all mixed together with tomato, kidney beans, chilli, cumin and cinnamon just melts on the tongue. I don’t miss Chill Con Carne one bit, and it’s so much tastier than Chill Con Quorne.

IMG_8376 smaller adjusted

Pepper, aubergine and courgette are still in season at the moment which is great, though the summer vegetables are coming to their end, so I just had to make use of them while they’re still growing in the UK. Kidney beans are full of nutritional goodness such as vitamin B9 and fibre, both of which promote cardiovascular health. They’re also crammed with antioxidants and, when eaten with rice, can provide a complete protein for your body. Kidney beans are low in the essential amino acid lysine but rice is a rich source of it so eating them together is just perfect. Even better, fragrant turmeric rice really complements the vegetable chilli sauce, making the most delicious, spice-filled meal. Chilli Sin Carne is too good.

IMG_8348 smaller adjusted

Serves 4-6:

  • 2 aubergines
  • 2 courgettes
  • 3 Romano peppers
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 2 medium-sized red onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1½ teaspoons of ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 180g of sun-dried tomato paste
  • 70g of tomato purée
  • 2x 400g tins of peeled cherry tomatoes
  • 2x 400g tins of red kidney beans (or 800g of dried kidney beans soaked overnight and then simmered for about an hour with a clove of garlic)
  • Rapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 400g of long grain brown rice
  • 1½ teaspoons of turmeric

IMG_8303 smaller adjusted 3

Start by preheating the oven to 180°C. Chop the aubergines into 1½ inch-sized pyramids and slice the courgettes into fairly thick discs, so they’re a similar size to the aubergine pieces. Place them on baking trays and drizzle with a good glug of rapeseed oil, stirring them around to make sure they’re all thinly coated, and then pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes.

While they’re roasting, cut the peppers into thin slices about 2 inches long, roughly chop the onions and squeeze the garlic cloves through a garlic press. Finely chop the chilli, discarding the seeds (and make you sure you give your fingers a good wash when you’re done!). Add the olive oil to a large casserole pan (I like Le Creuset the best), heat to a medium temperature and fry the onion for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Next add the garlic, chopped chilli and Romano pepper and fry until all the ingredients have softened.

At this point, check the aubergine and courgette in the oven, giving the pieces a good stir so they bake evenly. In the casserole pan add the chilli powder, cumin, cinnamon and salt and pepper and stir around until the vegetables are coated. Then pour in the tins of cherry tomatoes, followed by the sun-dried tomato paste and tomato purée. Allow this to come to the boil, then drain the kidney beans and add them as well. Reduce the heat a little, put the lid on and let the mixture gently simmer away.

When this is all done bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the rice and turmeric, turning down to a simmer for 25 minutes, giving it an occasional stir. After the 30 minutes has passed, remove the aubergine and courgette from the oven – they should be lovely and soft and slightly golden. Add the pieces to the casserole pan, stir them in and replace the lid.

When the 25 minutes is up, test the rice to make sure it’s soft enough for your liking and then drain in a sieve. Serve with the Chilli Sin Carne and some homemade guacamole and enjoy the wonderful Mexican flavours!

Blackberry, Walnut & Apple Crumble

IMG_8236 adjusted

It’s been rainy and grey in England for the last couple of days, and so I thought it was time for some warming pud. Crumble is one of the best, and one we Brits can actually claim is ours – a bowl of crispy, crumbly topping over fruit with thick homemade custard is hard to beat. Blackberry and apple crumble is an autumn classic, and I can’t think of a more delicious thing to make with the abundance of brambles and apples which are both now in season. However, giving it a bit of a tweak, I’ve added walnuts, mixed spice and hazelnut oil to create a rich, piquant flavour.

IMG_8155 good

Brambles’ dark, inky colour means they have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruit. They’re also rich in fibre and contain a healthy dose of vitamin K, which benefits your bones by activating proteins needed to deposit new bone mineral tissue. This crumble tastes so great and you really won’t miss the butter and sugar content of the standard mix – trust me! Even better: it’s pretty good for you, from the anti-inflammatory benefits of coconut oil, to the ability of walnuts to help lower LDL cholesterol (‘bad’) and increase HDL cholesterol (‘good’) levels in the blood.

IMG_8119 adjustedIMG_8144 good

Our apple tree is still being its nutty self, producing loads of apples, whilst also inexplicably deciding to sprout a blossom flower, at the end of August. Over the past week I’ve been out walking, picking basketfuls of blackberries from hedgerows and overgrown wild patches at the edge of fields, getting pricked and scratched in the process, but it’s so worth it. Blackberries are the easiest thing to forage, and they’re probably the most familiar to everyone’s eyes, so there’s no excuse not to get out there and harvest. If you start looking close enough they’re everywhere, always a treat to pop into your mouth as you pass by a bush. There’s something so calming, so satisfying about growing, gathering and picking your own food, and best of all you know exactly what it is and where it’s come from. There’s nothing better than that!

IMG_8197 smaller

Serves 4-6

For the crumble topping:

  • ⅔ cup of brown rice flour
  • ½ cup of porridge oats
  • ½ cup of jumbo oats
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • ¼ cup of ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1½ tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons of hazelnut oil
  • 4 tablespoons of date syrup (or raw honey, maple syrup or agave nectar)

For the fruit:

  • 8 small apples (or 4 large cooking apples)
  • 1½ cups of blackberries
  • (Optional: 1 tablespoon of honey)

IMG_8247 adjusted 4

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. To make the crumble layer first crush the walnuts into little pieces in a pestle and mortar (or give them a whizz in a blender), then place them in a mixing bowl along with all of the dry ingredients and stir well. Next put the coconut oil, hazelnut oil and date syrup into a saucepan and gently heat until the coconut oil has melted and they have all combined. Mix this liquid into the dry ingredients, stirring to make little clumps of the oaty, crumbly mixture.

Peel and core the apples, chopping into 1 inch sized pieces. If using honey, mix the apple together with the blackberries and honey in a separate bowl before pouring into an ovenproof dish and spreading evenly. Sprinkle the crumble layer on top and then bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top goes golden brown. Stick a knife in to make sure the apple has softened (if not cook for a further 5-10 minutes), then serve and munch.

IMG_8221 smaller

Crispy Falafels

Falafels 1

Anyone who knows me vaguely well is undoubtedly aware of my passion for falafels. I LOVE them. They are probably my favourite food, especially when served with a good dollop of hummus and fresh salad. This was all sparked off during my art foundation in Falmouth, Cornwall where the most delicious falafels in Britain (and I should know – I’ve sampled my fair share) are sold from an amazing little company called Falfalafel. For those who don’t know falafels are made from whizzed up chickpeas (or sometimes broad or fava beans) with a tasty blend of garlic, onion and spices.

Chickpeas have been around for a long time, with evidence of their use and consumption in Neolithic Turkey and Greece, and in Bronze Age Italy. Today they are grown in a variety of places such as India, Australia and Ethiopia. I like to buy organic chickpeas from Turkey, which is one of the largest world producers of chickpeas. These little seeds (chickpeas are actually the seed of the plant) are such a great source of protein, which is ideal for vegetarians and vegans. They also contain manganese and high levels of iron which are good for boosting energy levels and defending antioxidants. Along with this chickpeas have a low GI (Glycaemic Index) value meaning their carbohydrate is broken down and digested gradually. They also contain lots of soluble fibre which helps to balance blood sugar levels and provide lots of slow-burning energy for your body.

Chickpeas are so fantastic and what better way to get them into your body than rolled up into little balls? Falafels are widely available in supermarkets but they almost always contain E numbers and other weird additives which are anything but healthy. I’ve been making falafels for a long time now, trying to create the best recipe for them – it’s an ongoing process but this is the most delicious one so far. It’s also vegan and gluten free. Falafels are super easy to make and honestly the yummiest thing so I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Chickpeas 1

Makes approx 10 falafels:

  • 1 cup/230g cooked chickpeas (canned chickpeas are fine, but they are so much tastier if you buy dried, soak them overnight with chopped garlic and then simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour with an unpeeled clove of garlic, sprig of rosemary and a couple of bay leaves)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small red onion
  • ½ tablespoon of sunflower oil
  • ½ tablespoon of garlic-infused olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • A handful of fresh curly or flat-leaf parsley
  • A good grinding of salt and pepper

Falafels 2

Start by preheating your oven to 180°C and roughly chopping the onion and cloves of garlic. Then place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend for about 20 seconds. Be sure not to over blend the mix – you want it to be fairly bitty, not totally smooth. If necessary blend for 10 seconds then give the ingredients a stir before blending for a further 10.

Next scoop out a small amount of the mixture in your fingers and roll between your palms to make fairly smooth balls. Be gentle when doing this as the texture is really important – if you tightly press the balls as you form them they can turn out too dense inside. You want that incredible light crumbly texture when you bite into them.

When you’ve formed all of the mixture into balls rub some sunflower oil into your fingers and palms and gently roll each falafel so they’re lightly coated. Place on a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes, turning them every few minutes to make sure they have a lovely golden hazelnutty colour all over.

Finally remove them from the oven, allow to cool slightly then serve with hummus and salad of your choice (inside a wholemeal pitta pocket is best and the most traditional, but for a gluten free option I like them on oat cakes). Bite and enjoy!