I live in London but was born and mostly raised in America. I love cooking, especially baking and canning. I have a very split cooking personality, sometimes very healthy and sometimes not!
Today I wanted to share my green bean recipe. It’s not really a recipe, more an idea, just four ingredients that go very well together.
I made these lemony beans one Christmas a few years ago. We had my Mother in law for dinner and although she appreciates the effort made she is the least foodie person you could imagine and she doesn’t eat vegetables! However it was Christmas and I wanted everything to be different, special, so that day I tossed the French beans in some butter and lemon zest, even if I would be the only one to eat them. Well I loved them but I had the shock of my life when not only did my non-vegetable eating husband try one but he liked them and had more!
To this day this is the only way my husband will eat French beans! I think we were both surprised that simply tossing some beans in lemon and butter would be what made him start to eat French beans! I have since swapped the butter for olive oil as it feels a little healthier but tastes just as good.
Green Beans with a Lemon Dressing
ingredients (serves 2)
- 150 grams French beans, (you may call them dwarf beans), topped and tailed
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- zest of half a small lemon
- sea salt to taste
- Steam or boil your beans until just tender, 3-4 minutes if boiling, 5-6 if steaming.
- Drain the beans and pour the olive oil in the pan you used to cook the beans (saves on washing up).
- Turn the heat on low, add the lemon zest, salt and beans. Toss to coat and serve immediately.
Easy, peasy, that’s what these are! If you have over-ripe bananas, in under 30 minutes you can have a rack of delicious banana muffins!
I began freezing over-ripe bananas a while ago. It was a revelation to me that you could just throw whole bananas in the freezer! The bananas do defrost to a gross mush but that just makes mashing them easier. I was looking in the freezer recently and found frozen bananas all over the place! Turns out I had 19 frozen bananas! I defrosted 3 bananas out to make my usual banana bread only to discover I had no butter! I’m a fan of baking with oil rather than butter as it adds a great texture so I thought Id try replacing the butter with olive oil. As I was changing things I thought Id try muffins rather than a loaf.
These banana olive oil muffins are a great alternative to banana bread. Using oil rather than butter worked so well I will stick to that! They are quicker to cook than a loaf and are easily portable in their own cases, making a great lunch box addition. They are also really versatile, I think I will add raisins next time. What do you like in your banana muffin?
Banana Olive Oil Muffins
- 150 grams plain flour
- 100 grams caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 3 bananas, mashed
- 1 egg, beaten
- 80 ml olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 190 C, 375 F, Gas 5. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. A fairy cake pan works too!
- In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients, ( flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon).
- Combine the beaten egg, mashed bananas and olive oil, fold into the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Fill each paper liner about half full and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack, store in an airtight tin.
Spring is here! Actually it’s been here for a while, the earliest blossom has finished and almost all of the trees have their leaves. We have even had some lovely sunny days. However, to me, a sure sign of spring is when British asparagus arrive. I got my first bunch last week, exciting times!
Wherever your asparagus comes from this soup is a quick way to enjoy them. I had seen an asparagus soup recipe with a Thai theme and I still may try that one but for the first asparagus of the season I wanted the asparagus to be the star of the show. So this soup has just a few ingredients, asparagus with a little onion, a waft of garlic and a hint of lemon grass. Its light and fresh, clean eating at its best.
Asparagus soup with a hint of Lemongrass
- 1 bunch of asparagus
- 1 small onion
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled but left whole
- 1 stalk of lemongrass
- 500 ml vegetable stock
- Prepare the asparagus by washing, snapping the woody ends off and chopping. Dice the onion and peel the garlic, leaving it whole.
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and whole garlic clove and sauté until softened.
- Remove the garlic clove and add the asparagus. Stir to coat in the oil and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Peel off the outer layer of lemongrass and bash the stalk firmly with a wooden spoon to bruise it and slightly split it to release its flavour. Add to the asparagus and onion,
- Add the vegetable stock to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, until the thickest asparagus are softened.
- Remove the lemongrass and purée the soup, I use a blender but an immersion blender would be fine. Purée until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Posted in Soup on March 21, 2014
I wanted to post this for St Patrick’s day! It was the greenest recipe I could come up with! Then I ran out of time and the post wasn’t ready. Please say this happens to some of you? I feel I’m having a blogging crisis lately. I have post ideas but no time to try new recipes or I make recipes and forget to take a picture and sometimes I simply can’t find the time to sit at the computer and write anything.
Well I may have missed St Patrick’s day but here I am with a simple, healthy soup recipe. I have only recently tried broccoli soup, in part because many broccoli soup recipes have Stilton added, (I’ve not yet developed a taste for blue cheese). After a conversation about broccoli soup with a friend (you have those, right?) I decided to make my own and I’m glad I did!
This healthy, soup is ready in under 20 minutes and tastes great! I love how the 4 ingredients flavour the soup equally, no one ingredient dominates. I even think I could get my broccoli avoiding husband to eat this, I will try that theory and report back!
- 300 grams broccoli, cut into florets and stalk chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 600 ml vegetable stock
- salt and pepper
- Sauté the onion until soft.
- Add the garlic and broccoli, stir.
- Add the stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the broccoli is tender.
- Transfer into a blender and blend until smooth
- Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Using the broccoli stalks as well as the florets makes the broccoli go further, saving money.
Sprinkle with a few chile flakes before serving.
I wouldn’t blame people visiting here to think all I make are soup, jam and cake! While its true that I find those the most interesting things to post I do also eat other things! Fish can be a take it or leave it dish for me, I try to eat more to be healthier but I rarely use a recipe, usually a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon, whatever herbs are available and pop it in the oven. Today however Id like to share my fish cake recipe, its been a work in progress for a little while but now I feel its ready to share.
These fish cakes are easy to make but you will need a food processor. To avoid the use of egg or bread as a binder the mixture must be really well combined, in a way that only a processor could do. They are fragile but with some good shaping and a spell in the fridge the fish cakes hold their shape really well.
I like to double the recipe and freeze a batch, nothing sweeter on a work night than having a meal ready made in the freezer! Use whatever white fish takes your fancy, pollock, cod, haddock.
Fish Cakes (Paleo friendly)
makes 4 fish cakes for a main course or shape them smaller to make 8 mini fish cakes for a starter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 stick celery
- 1/2 onion
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/2 red pepper
- 400 grams pollock, cod or any other white fish cut into chunks
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp fresh tarragon
- few dashes of tabasco or other hot sauce
- salt and pepper, approx 1/4 tsp each – less if you are watching your salt intake.
- oil for frying
- In a food processor finely chop the celery and onion.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the chopped celery and onion until translucent.
- Add the garlic, stir quickly and remove from the heat.
- Add the red pepper to the food processor and chop finely.
- Add the fish, herbs and spices, tabasco and cooked celery and onion to the peppers in the food processor. Add salt and pepper and pulse it all in the food processor until it’s all blended together. It does need to be mixed pretty well so that it will hold its shape when formed into patties.
- Form the mix into patties with your hands, (the mixture will be quite wet, that’s normal). Pay attention to the edges, making sure they are not ragged but smooth, this will avoid tearing when cooking. Put the patties on a plate, cover with cling film and chill for at least an hour so the fish cakes keep their shape and don’t break apart when cooking. If freezing, now is the time to wrap in foil with a little grease proof paper in between each fish cake.
- When ready to cook, heat some oil in a nonstick frying pan. Add the fish patties to the oil and fry for 3-4 minute on each side until nicely browned and cooked through.
- Serve right away with salad or vegetables.
I can be very forgetful, its something I worry about occasionally but then I remember that I’ve been the same way for many years so I hope its more the sign of a busy brain rather than a declining one. Occasionally my forgetfulness can be a good thing, like when I made this soup. I wanted to make a butternut squash soup that was not as sweet as they often are so I decided to include chipotle powder to mine to add a hot smokiness. I went on to get the ingredients together and chopped my vegetables, including a red chili pepper. When preparing the soup as soon as I stirred the chipotle powder in, it occurred to me that I already had a chili pepper in the pan! When chopping that red chilli I had forgotten I was adding the chipotle despite the chipotle been the main reason I was making the soup! I stood staring at the pan but it was too late to do anything other than cross my fingers and hope my tongue would survive!
This is a hot soup, but I loved it! The smoky chipotle compliments the sweet butternut really well. If you don’t like food so hot, I wouldn’t add that extra chili pepper, just stick with the chipotle. However if you don’t mind some heat go for both! I found the soup somehow less hot the next day.
Butternut and Chili soup
- 1 medium butternut squash, de seeded and cut into chunks
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1/2 red chili
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- 500 ml stock, vegetable or chicken
- Put the chunks of butternut into a roasting tray and pour over 1 tbsp of the olive oil, stir so all the butternut gets coated in the oil. sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in a preheated oven 200 C, 400 F, Gas 6 for around 40 minutes until the butternut is soft and the edged starting to brown.
- Heat the other tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion, celery and chili pepper over a medium heat until the onion is translucent and beginning to soften.
- Add the chipotle powder to the onion mixture and stir to combine.
- Add the stock, mix well and simmer for 15 minutes until the celery is softened.
- Add the roasted butternut squash to the pan
- Pour the mix into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add salt to taste and more stock if you like the soup more runny.
What a long break from blogging I’ve had, (did anyone notice, haha)! I often go longer than I mean to between posts although long ago gave up trying to keep up with all the bloggers that post without fail each week (or each day)! However this was a long break even for me. After a fabulous holiday spent in Vermont where I completely forgot about everything and all routine went out of the window I was left wondering if there was a recipe left in me, I had no inspiration at all, until the discovery of this season’s blood oranges put me back on track!
I think part of the reason for my lack of inspiration is that I’m caught with that January feeling that I should be eating more healthily but not wanting to, then wondering what’s wrong with me that I have so little control! My head is a busy place this month! Anyone else feel the same or are you all diligently watching what you are eating? Kudos to you if you are! I am pretty much a rule follower but hate been told what to do so I think all the articles and constant talk of diets makes me rebel, after all isn’t January depressing enough? So for those rebels out there I offer you cake in January! For those avoiding cake, I’m sorry save this recipe and healthy new year recipes will resume!
I was so happy to come across the first of the blood oranges but then typically a few sat in the fruit bowl which led me to make this blood orange cake, a simple cake made with olive oil. Using olive oil eliminates the need to soften butter, which in colder climates can take quite a while! I based my cake on the Lemon Olive Oil cake that I make regularly. That cake is such a success so I thought I would swap blood orange juice for the lemon. I didn’t have yoghurt available so made my own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to 125 mls of milk. This cake is not fancy, it’s just the right sort of plain with a simple blood orange syrup topping it. I like a slice with a cup of coffee but it would be great served with ice-cream as a dessert!
I wont pretend this is healthy in any way but it is good!
Blood Orange Cake
- 250 grams sugar
- 1 egg
- 125 ml buttermilk
- 100 ml olive oil
- 250 grams self-raising flour
- zest and juice of 3 blood oranges, reserve the juice for the syrup
for the glaze
- 60 grams sugar
- 100 ml blood orange juice
Grease and base line an 8 inch cake tin (I used a silicone one this time). Preheat oven to 350 F, 180 C, Gas 4.
- Whisk together the sugar and eggs.
- Mix in the buttermilk.
- Add the olive oil and blood orange zest.
- Fold in the flour.
- Pour mixture into cake tin.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted into middle of cake.
- While cake is baking make the syrup by putting the blood orange juice and sugar into a small sauce pan and heat until the sugar has melted, remove from the heat and leave until needed.
- When the cake is baked, take from the oven and while still hot prick cake surface with a toothpick and pour the blood orange syrup over the cake. Leave to cool in the tin.
Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2013
I had lots of ideas to post Christmas recipes this month but December ran away and we went away! We are in Vermont for Christmas this year and I couldn’t be more delighted!
I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone that visits here, especially to those who take the time to comment and like things. I am grateful to you all.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a very healthy, happy 2014 to everyone.
I adore Yotam Ottolenghi, I loved his recent Mediterranean series and I could eat most anything from his book Plenty. One dish I’ve made from that book several times is the Winter Cous Cous. Although perfect as it is I most often have to change the original recipe to suit my fridge contents! In fact I don’t think I’ve ever had all the ingredients for the original recipe and gradually I’ve changed it to this one which although a little different to the original it is, in my opinion, still delicious. Its full of some of my favourite things.
This makes a lovely meal in a bowl, real comfort food, perfect for this time of year. There is enough for 2 people or it’s also delicious cold if you have any left over.
Ottolenghi Inspired Cous Cous (inspired by the Winter Cous Cous Recipe in Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)
- 1 medium carrot, cut into chunks
- 1 onion peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 small aubergine, cut into chunks
- 200 g pumpkin or squash, cut into chunks
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in 2
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can chickpeas
- 175 ml water
- 120 g cous cous
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 150 ml vegetable stock – boiling
- 1 tbsp butter
- zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
- Pre heat the oven to 200 C, 400 F, Gas 6.
- Add the carrot, onion, aubergine, pumpkin, cinnamon stick and star anise and spices (first 9 ingredients) to a large roasting tray. Sprinkle with 2 of the 3 tbsp of olive oil and mix all the ingredients together. Roast for 40 minutes, lessen this time if the vegetables are cooking too quickly in an oven hotter than mine.
- Add the chickpeas and water to the roasting ingredients and return to the oven for 15 minutes, until the chickpeas have heated through.
- Now make the cous cous by putting the cous cous into a heat proof bowl with 1/2 tsp salt and the last tbsp of olive oil. Pour over the boiling stock and cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling film and leave for 10 minutes.
- Dot the butter over the cous cous and fluff it all up with a fork.
- To serve place some cous cous into a bowl and spoon over the roasted vegetables, remove the cinnamon and star anise first. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and juice and scatter with coriander leaves.
Poached pears, that’s not something that usually rolls off of my tongue! Its a dessert that I would usually shun in favour of something more indulgent! However I’ve discovered how wrong I was to assume a poached pear would be an unsatisfactory choice! I had reason to make poached pears recently and I was surprised at how much I liked them!
I had the good fortune of coming across a very knowledgeable greengrocer when I went to buy my pears. Not only did he choose perfectly ripe pears for me, he gave me a step by step guide to poaching them, including talking me through making a cartouche from grease proof paper to keep the pears submerged in their poaching liquid (a cartouche is just a circle of grease proof paper). It turns out the greengrocer also has a restaurant and poached pears is one of their regular desserts so it was lucky for me that I chose to get my pears from him!
I was surprised that there are a few things in all the recipes I saw that weren’t mentioned so for the beginners out there I thought I would share my poached pear experience here!
- You will get burnt fingers, beware!
- Do get a pear or 2 extra just in case of an accident, they are more delicate than you would think.
- I would recommend you use a spoon to lift the stalk up out of the poaching liquid, grab the stalk then place the spoon under the bottom of the pear. As it’s so hot the tendency would be to lift the pear out of the liquid by the stalk, if you do you risk the stalk breaking off, leaving you with a damaged pear. Let the spoon support the pear’s weight but be careful not to pierce the pear with the spoon, gently does it!
- For even cooking and colouring the pears need to be under the liquid throughout the cooking. Be prepared to make extra poaching liquid if you have larger pears, the recipe I was using had nowhere near enough liquid, my pears were only half covered so I had to make more in a hurry!
- The pears should be covered but if you have added more liquid and they still aren’t covered or you don’t want to buy more wine just make sure you turn the pears around often to get even cooking.
These poached pears make a great dessert for the festive season, their ruby colour is so pretty! The pears make a nice light dessert and would make a nice change from all the heavier holiday foods. The poaching liquid is essentially a mulled wine so the house will be filled with the scent of Christmas as you make these.
Winter Spiced Poached Pears (adapted from this recipe)
- 6 pears, peeled but left whole with the stalk left on
- 1 bottle red wine (may need up to half of a 2nd bottle of wine if pears are particularly rotund)
- 750 ml water (may need another 250 ml if adding more wine for larger pears)
- 1 vanilla pod, halved length-ways and seeds scraped out
- 300 g sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks, each broken in two pieces
- 6 cloves
- Add the wine and water to a large pan along with the vanilla pod and seeds, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a simmer.
- Make a circle of grease proof paper to cover your pears while poaching.
- Lower the pears into the liquid adding more until the pears are covered. Place the cartouche (circle of grease proof paper) over the pears to keep them under the liquid. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the pears are tender all the way through (test using a cocktail stick).
- When tender remove the pears carefully from the liquid. When cooled the pears can be stored like this in a Tupperware in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Bring the poaching liquid to a boil for around 10 minutes or until its reduced and syrupy. When cooled the syrup can also be stored in the fridge up to 2 days.
- When ready, serve the pears and syrup at room temperature. Simply place a pear on each plate and drizzle with some of the syrup. Serve with cream or creme fraiche.