Sunday 28 October 2012

Mini Key Lime Pies

I've been on a jelly and neurofen diet for the last few days. I am ill...feel sorry for me! I've felt very sorry for myself, missed out on a couple of big nights out and instead of sucking limes and licking salt at the bar, I've been gargling salt water over the sink. At least being holed up at home means I can BAKE and watch Joe Gilgun on telly.
My brother bought me a bottle of Key Lime Juice back from Miami. It's been sitting in the fridge waiting for this. These pies are seriously cute, I chickened out and made the bases quite thick at risk of them falling apart but once the lime curd is set, it sort of holds the case together. Makes 12
I made the crusts with
- 250g of digestives, processed into crumbs and mixed with 120g of unsalted butter. Pressed into cupcake cases, in a cupcake tin. Bake for 10 mins
Fill with lime curd mix
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tin of condensed milk
- juice and zest of 3-4 limes
and bake at 170C for 10 mins. 
Let cool, refrigerate, and make meringue with the leftover egg whites, whisked with sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 200g caster sugar
Decorate and sprinkle with more zest or blow torch, because that's the fun bit and sort of sets the meringue.
Well, this one was just silly!

Thursday 11 October 2012

Super Salads!

After all that yoga and focus, I wanted to feed our guests yummy salads at lunch to accompany soup and a hunk of bread. Salads are wonderful in adding colour to the table, and where there is colour there is health.
But there's no calorie counting here, I also baked two cakes a day which I will pop in my next post. Healthy living is about balance and that means having little indulgences that bring a smile to the lips. The salad above is so simple but has big fresh flavours with wonderful texture contrast. 
Simmer green beans, topped and tailed for 4 mins, retaining their bite and dress with salad dressing of garlic, orange zest, lemon juice, dijon mustard, olive oil and salt and pepper.
Slice oranges and add more zest with toasted hazelnuts. This recipe is inspired by a wondeful little book put together by Blues Agency, although they use spinach and watercress not beans, and I served the goats cheese on the side.
This next salad was a make it up as I went along type of salad, I just wanted to make something super green, crunchy, juicy and good for you. So, for 15 people (scale down if need be)..
Cook two handfuls of wild red rice and 500g of quinoa in separate pans and cool. 
Roast 3 red peppers, skin and chop (or you know, open a jar and chop)
Steam and chop up asparagus
Chives, spring onions, basil, parsley, walnuts, cucumber, chop chop like crazy.
Mix all together in a big bowl, and dress with lemon oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic and a good grassy olive oil. Bliss.
This last salad is my all time favourite from Ottolengi. 
I don't have his recipe so this will be slightly different from memory.
Roast wedges of aubergine for 25 minutes in a hot oven, sprinkled with olive oil and (I add Za'atar)
and lay on a plate.
Make a saffron yogurt by infusing a pinch of saffron strands into a little hot water and then stirring into greek yogurt with a squeeze of lemon juice and garlic, S and P.
I sprinkled with parsley but as I write this I have an inkling he sprinkles his with pomegranate seeds which is sod's law remembering this now as we have a pomegranate tree in the garden. Damn. 

Friday 5 October 2012

Cashew Pâté and Butternut, Quinoa and Feta burgers

I remember when I told my friend Georgie that I had a huge soft spot for a McDonald's Filet O Fish, how she looked at me aghast. How can I write a food blog and eat from the Golden arches? Whilst we are at it, I also enjoy a kebab once in a while on the way back from a big night out and one of my favourite chicken recipes is one my mum used to make us as kids which involve chicken thighs, dipped in egg and rolled around in a smashed up packet of crisps and baked in the oven.
I cater 'fine food' for clients and eat in lovely restaurants, It doesn't mean dinner can't be Malteasers and ice-cream. For this reason, I think it's odd how fascinated I am in how raw ingredients  can be put together in a delicious way.
My friend Grace is a bit of a raw enthusiast and she introduced me to cashew cheese. A 'cheese' made of soaking and fermenting raw cashew nuts. It takes two days but seeing how magic it is that soaking cashews, blending them, leaving the mix overnight in a cloth then mixing in a few herbs can be transformed into something like this.. well, it spurs me on in my raw experiments. 
I added milled flax seeds which made my cheese a little brown and solid but delicious all the same. I would rather call it a Pâté as it doesn't taste how I would expect it to look. I also spotted raw spiced brownies on Grace's site which I had to try; everyone loved them. See her site for recipes
 It can be cut into wedges but can also be spread on a cracker.
With sundried tomatoes, bliss!
 Raw spiced brownie.. No chocolate, sugar, eggs or flour!
Over the last couple of years I have been preparing more 'whole' food for clients, especially for Yoga retreats, like the vegetarian group I am cooking for this week. 
It is important to think where your proteins, fibre and vitamins are coming from. Because our yoga clients don't get a say in what they will eat for the next 21 meals, I have to carefully plan out the mealplan to not only be healthy and delicious but also not be too similar to the day before, especially for the meat eaters who are just eating vegetarian for the week, I need to keep it exciting. 
One of my favourites has been butternut squash and quinoa burgers.
They take a little time but they couldn't be more simple to prepare.
I made it up as I went along and I am cooking for a group. This made enough for 2 little burgers each for 10 people. 

1 kilo of cooked quinoa 
1 kilo of cooked butternut squash, mashed up
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry
2 tsp paprika picante
2 tsp flaked salt
Black pepper
1 sauted onion, chopped finely
5 eggs
1 cup of SR flour
Crumbled feta x 2 packs

Just mix everything up in a big bowl! Form into burgers, the mix can be a tad wet but you can spoon into a pan like a thick pancake and it will firm up. 
Fry 3 mins on each side in a little oil and then finish in oven for 6 minutes.