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Avocado Hummus With Coriander and Lemon

27 Mar Avocado Hummus

Avocado Hummus

We are coming to the end of the Hass avocado season here now and I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe with you using my favourite fruit/vegetable yet. Avocados are excellent for helping to lower cholesterol, keeping  your heart healthy, preventing cancer and alleviating symptoms of arthritis.

Avocados on TreeThey are still cheap and plentiful here at the market so I bought a kilo on Sunday. One of my favourite recipes using avocado is this Tricolor Baked Avocado. If you’ve never tried avocado cooked you should, it’s surprisingly delicious.

avocados

This is new recipe to me and I have to say it is definitely a keeper. Two of my favourite dishes fused together in a bowl.  It’s a hummus and guacamole hybrid. It shouldn’t work but it does, brilliantly. And it’s quick, easy, healthy and addictive.

Perfect for a snack or late night supper when you can’t be bothered with anything complicated.

Avocado Hummus

Avocado Hummus Recipe

Serves 2-3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Kiran Tarun

  • 200 g cooked chickpeas (drained & rinsed)
  • 1 large avocado (I used 2 mini ones)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • a big handful of fresh coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chilli sauce (optional)
  • salt & black pepper
  • olive oil

Put all the ingredients into a food processor (or use a stick blender) with a splash of olive oil and puree until smooth. You can add more oil if you need to get the right consistency. Taste and check seasoning.

Avocado Hummus

Serve with raw veggies or toasted pita for dipping. You could try making your own flour tortilla or flatbread crackers by brushing them with oil, cutting into triangles with scissors, sprinkling with cumin, salt & pepper and baking at 125C for about 10 minutes until crispy.

Or just spread it on some wholemeal toast, sprinkled with sea salt. Heaven.

Avocado Hummus

If you are a bit of a hummus freak like me. Have at look at this Authentic Creamy Hummus and this Roasted Beetroot Hummus too.

Enjoy!

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Kimchi – Korean Chilli and Ginger Cabbage Pickle

25 Mar Kimchi

Korean Kimchi

I think Kimchi is probably one of those Love or Hate things, like Marmite. I’m definitely a lover not a hater of both. I can see why you would be put off I suppose. I mean it’s fermented cabbage for want of a better description. Kids will love it.

Chinese Cabbage & Korean Chiili Flakes

It’s my new favourite thing. If you have never heard of it, where have you been? It’s a spicy Korean cabbage pickle (or condiment really) that can be used to liven up a huge amount of dishes. There are recipes using it all over the internet for Kimchi Fried Rice and Kimchi Pancakes among other things. It is a really versatile thing to have in your fridge for those “What are we having for lunch/dinner that only takes 15 minutes” moments.

Kimchi

This recipe is healthier than most as it uses an apple for sweetness rather than the evil sugar monster. We like that.

Korean Kimchi

Korean Kimchi Recipe

Makes 1 large jar, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free.

Adapted from Dr Ben Kim & Centre Stage Wellness

  • 1 Chinese cabbage (aka napa cabbage) the long ones (about 500g)
  • 4 Tbsp sea salt
  • about 450 ml (2 cups) warm water
  • 4 Tbsp Korean red chilli flakes/kimchi chilli powder (buy from Asian stores)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 3-4 spring onions/scallions, sliced 
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 large apple
  • 1/2 onion

Discard any outer damaged leaves, separate off all the cabbage leaves, rinse and chop into bite-size pieces. Dissolve the sea salt in the bowl of warm water, pour it over the cabbage and mix it well. Leave it to sit for at least four hours.

Rinse the cabbage well to remove excess salt then put it in a large bowl. Mix the Korean chilli flakes with a few tablespoons of warm water to create a paste, add the minced garlic and ginger and stir together well. Pour this onto the cabbage, stir through the spring onions and fish sauce if using.

Blend the cored apple with the 1/2 onion and about 200 ml (3/4 cup) water then add this to the cabbage as well. Mix everything together really well with a wooden spoon or with your hands (using gloves) to make sure everything is well-distributed.

Transfer the cabbage with a clean spoon into a large sterilised glass jar or bottle, pressing it down well each time as you stack it up. Pour over any liquid remaining in the bowl but leave about 2 inches clear at the top of the jar/bottle before sealing it up. Leave the  kimchi to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

The kimchi is now ready to eat. Store it in the fridge and it will continue to ferment slowly over time. As long as you use a clean spoon every time you take some out, it should keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Korean KimchiAdd a big dollop of it to vegetable stir fries to add another level of flavour, or to this Soba Noodle Salad or this Mee Goreng. It’s great in Asian style soups with some miso.  I love it sautéed with some broccoli, soy sauce and sesame oil which you can eat with noodles or add the whole lot to an omelette made with a bit of soy sauce or even some scrambled eggs. It is a fantastic thing to have around for food emergencies.

Have I convinced you yet?

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Mushroom Risotto Stuffed Baked Fennel Bulbs with Tomato Sauce

20 Mar Risotto Stuffed Fennel

Risotto Stuffed Fennel with Tomato Sauce

Fennel is another one of those vegetables, like cauliflower, that gets a bit of a bad name. People have preconceived ideas about it. They don’t like it. But many have never tried it cooked. I may have been one of those narrow-minded people.

Fennel Plants

Running past this field full of feathery fennel fronds floating in the breeze in front of an 11th Century Moorish watchtower while Rufus begs me to turn around and run back because of the pack of very tiny dogs who bark (or actually yap) at his heels as we pass, made me want to research this undervalued vegetable a little more deeply.

And by research I mean, look at recipes. On Pinterest mainly. Not that I’m addicted or anything but that is where I store all of the recipes I like the look of and want to make soon.

Mushroom Risotto Stuffed Fennel Bulb

The idea for this recipe didn’t come from Pinterest though. It came from Jim, The Washer Up’s dad. It’s not his recipe. I don’t think he stretches much farther than a ham sandwich in his own particular kitchen, but he does send me everything food related cut out from the British press, neatly folded in a brown envelope every couple of weeks. This is always a very welcome distraction, for me, from any cleaning that might need doing.

It was in one of those envelopes that I found out about baking and stuffing fennel.

Fennel Stock & Bulbs

Because I bought four whole fennel (complete with long feathery fronds still attached)  from the farmer’s market on Sunday, I decided I wouldn’t waste all of that aniseedy greenery and I made a stock out of them for the risotto. This isn’t essential but if you have them, you may as well if you have the time.

Risotto Stuffed Baked Fennel

In the original recipe they stuffed the fennel with wild rice. I decided to make a risotto using brown rice and the mushrooms I had in my fridge and use that to stuff them instead.

I have finally worked out how to make risotto from brown rice that actually looks and tastes like risotto. You have to part cook the rice first so it is nearly done. Then you add it to the risotto and continue as you would with uncooked risotto rice. It’ so much softer and creamier. I have to give credit to The Washer Up for this tip, he has been telling me to do it for ages.

And he was right. There I said it.

Risotto Stuffed Fennel

To make the fennel stock I cut the stalks and fronds off of the fennel bulbs and chopped them up roughly. I put them in  a large pot with 3 or 4 bay leaves, 15 whole peppercorns and a good teaspoon of salt. Bring this to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, covered for about an hour. Taste and add more salt if necessary . Then drain and store in the fridge or freezer in 500 ml or 1 litre pots.

You can just use a normal vegetable stock if you don’t have the fronds, time or inclination.

Mushroom Risotto Stuffed Baked Fennel Recipe

Serves  4, vegetarian. Adapted from

  • 300 ml brown rice
  • 600 ml fennel stock or water

Put the rice and stock/water in a pan. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the rice is nearly cooked. Drain if necessary. Rinse under cold water if not using straight away to stop the cooking and set aside.

  • 4  fennel bulbs
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • white wine (or cava)

Preheat oven to 180C. Cut about 2 cm off of the base of each bulb so it can stand up. Then cut another inch or so off of the tops. Remove any damaged/bruised outer layers. Using a teaspoon, hollow out the fennel bulbs as best you can (see picture above) reserving the fennel flesh for the risotto.

Stand the hollowed out fennel bulbs on a large sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt & pepper. Start to bring the edges of the foil up and around the fennel then carefully pour in about 4 Tbsp white wine. Seal the foil package completely around the fennel but make sure that they are still standing. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until nicely softened.

  • reserved fennel flesh from above, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves, garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 lemon, zested 
  • about 250 g mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
  • a splosh of white wine
  • up to 1 litre vegetable/fennel stock
  • 30 g grated manchego/parmesan
  • a handful of breadcrumbs
  • a handful of manchego/parmesan
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a handful of pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • tomato pasta sauce/marinara sauce

Put the stock in a small pan over a medium heat and keep hot but not boiling.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the onion, celery, chopped fennel and a pinch of salt and cook for about 4 minutes until softened but not browned. Then add the garlic, thyme, chilli flakes, half of the lemon zest and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, cook for three minutes until softened then add the part cooked rice. Add a good splosh of white wine and cook until evaporated. Season well with salt & black pepper then start adding the hot stock a ladleful at a time, waiting for it to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful, stirring and swirling occasionally. Keep going until you have used all the stock and the rice is cooked. The risotto should be soft and quite liquidy.

Add a squeeze of lemon, a little of the chopped parsley and stir in the 30 gr grated manchego/parmesan. Turn off the heat, put a lid on and leave for 3-5 minutes. Heat up your tomato sauce.

If your fennel bulbs are done remove them from the oven and put the grill/broiler on high.

Mix together the breadcrumbs, grated manchego/parmesan, rest of the lemon zest, some pine nuts & some chopped parsley in a small bowl.

Check the risotto for seasoning add more salt if necessary. Spoon some risotto into each fennel bulb right to the top and a little bit more, sprinkle over the breadcrumb mix and put them under the grill for a minute or two until browned.

To serve: Cover the base of each dish with a shallow pool of risotto and place the stuffed fennel in the middle. Spoon some of the tomato sauce on and around the dish and garnish with some of the breadcrumb mix if you have any left, some chopped parsley or fennel fronds.

Risotto Stuffed Fennel & Tomato Sauce

Buen Provecho!!

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Za’atar Spice Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks

6 Mar Za'atar Roasted Red Cabbage

Za'atar Spice Roasted Red Cabbage

Red cabbage may not be your favourite vegetable. It wasn’t mine.  I have always loved the colour of it though. You’ve got to love food that is such a beautiful shade of magenta. When I run past these purple and green striped fields of  cabbages I can’t help but smile.

Cabbages

Another thing that makes me happy is the price. They are so cheap at the moment at the farmer’s market and if you have ever bought a cabbage you will know how far it goes. I mean these things go on for ever.

I use about a quarter of a white cabbage in this fridge emptying favourite Minestrone Soup that I now serve topped with a swirl of homemade basil pesto, it makes such a difference to the flavour.

mont 3

You can’t really use red cabbage in that soup though, it turns everything purple. Other than using it to make my Grandad’s Pickled Red Cabbage I have never done anything exciting or blogworthy with this beautiful Brassica. Until now that is.

Za'atar Red Cabbage Steaks

I found a recipe for roasted red cabbage steaks on Drizzle & Dip that immediately caught my eye.  She used a different spice mix but the idea is the same and I have been wanting to incorporate Za’atar into a recipe for a while.

Z'a'atar Spice Oil

Za’atar is herb and spice blend popular throughout the Middle East most often made with a mix of dried oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and salt. There are other variations if you want to research it more.

It has many uses but its most common guise is to be mixed with olive oil, rubbed over flatbread dough and baked. You can also dip your toasted flatbread straight into a pot of it on the table. It can be used as a quick and easy marinade or rub for meat, fish and vegetables as well, as I have done here.

Za'atar Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks

Za’atar Spice Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks

Serves 2-3 as a side dish. Vegan, gluten-free.

For the za’atar

  • 1 Tbsp sumac (used ground cumin or coriander if you can’t find it)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  •  a few grindings of black pepper
  • a pinch of red chilli flakes

Mix this all together and store in an airtight container.

  • 3 – 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 a red cabbage (or more)  cut into 1/2 – 1 cm thick slices 
  • sea salt to serve

Mix the oil with the za’atar in a small bowl. Preheat the oven to 180C and line  baking sheet with baking paper.

Lay the cabbage steaks out on the baking sheet and spread the za’atar oil all over them, you may need some more oil. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes depending on thickness and serve sprinkled with sea salt.

Za'atar Roasted Red Cabbage

Serve these as a side dish or for a party as part of a mezze table with some Baba Ghanoush, Muhammara, Sweet Potato Filo Cigars , Roasted Beetroot Hummus and this Lebanese Lentil Salad. Just a suggestion.

Za'atar Red Cabbage Steaks

Make some more of the Za’atar straight away so you will always have some for dipping bread into or for a quick salad dressing or to serve over a plain hummus. The possiblities are endless.

You will be addicted, I am.

Za'atar Spice Oil

Things That Made Me Smile Today

Rainy Day Dog

This little fella was all ready for the rain. He was really working that outfit and Rufus was a little jealous of all the attention he was getting…

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Chewy Fruit and Nut Muesli Bars

28 Feb Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

This is the next recipe in my Sweet & Healthy series. I used to buy muesli bars all the time, I took them to work and college to snack on in the afternoon, you know when you get that craving for something sweet. The companies that make these spend millions on packaging and marketing to make you believe that they are the healthy alternative and are actually good for you.

So no true.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Nearly all of them are packed with sugar and oil or butter so that any goodness you might be getting from the fruit, seeds and nuts is completely irrelevant. You might as well buy a toffee apple with a side order of candy floss.

Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Making your own is really quick and easy, you have complete control over what goes in them and you aren’t paying for fake organic looking packaging and advertising campaigns with sunny farms in them. If you don’t like raisins leave them out, prefer hazelnuts to almonds then put them in instead.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars Recipe

Makes 8-12 depending how you cut them. Vegan, Gluten-free

  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • 90 g (1 cup) oats (gf)
  • 5 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp honey/agave syrup
  • 4 Tbsp oat milk (or your choice of milk)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) raisins
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a baking sheet with baking paper brushed with a little oil.

Put the chopped banana, oats, coconut, vanilla, flaxmeal, cinnamon and honey in a food processor and pulse together slowly. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse together again. You can blend it really well or leave some bits chunky.

Tip the mixture out onto the lined baking sheet and shape it into a flat, even square about 1/2 cm thick with a spatula. It takes a bit of time & patience to make it even but they will be easier to cut into squares or rectangles later. Top with a few more flaked almonds and sunflower seeds and press them down a bit.

Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown. Cut into 12 squares or 8 rectangles while still warm. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

It is my first Healthy Baking with Chocolate Workshop this Saturday 2nd March 5pm-9m. We will be making and tasting:

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Dark Chocolate & Orange Almond Torte

Chocolate, Date & Walnut Energy Truffles

Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart with an Almond Crust

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

All of these recipes use wholemeal spelt flour or ground almonds rather than processed flours. We use coconut oil or olive oil instead of butter and use honey, maple syrup or miel de cana instead of refined sugars.

Here’s a preview of the cookies. If you are lucky I might have time to share the recipe with you next week…

Vegan Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

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Apple, Pear and Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

18 Feb Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This is the next recipe from my Sweet & Healthy series that I didn’t realise I was doing until I just looked at all the recipes and photos I had waiting to publish and noticed that they were all sweet treats that are good for you. The previous recipe in the (now) series was for this Vegan Banana Bread with Dates & Almonds.

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This is because The Washer Up likes something sweet to take to work with his lunch and I always end up snacking on whatever it is too, so it has to be healthy. These are brilliant for breakfast if you don’t have time to make anything and terrific for that afternoon tea break when you need a sweet fix.

Apple & Pear Oatmeal Muffins

They are like sweet apple and cinnamon porridge in a handy portable muffin disguise. And the oats really do keep you full for longer, it’s true. There is no butter and no sugar in these just olive oil and honey for sweetness. I made them using ground almonds to keep them gluten-free but you could use wholemeal spelt (or normal) flour instead.

I adapted the recipe from an amazing website called The Healthy Chef. I have the feeling it won’t be the last time I use one of her recipes if these muffins are anything to go by.

Apple Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffin

Apple, Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Makes about 12 muffins. Gluten-free. Adapted from The Healthy Chef

  • 200 g (2 cups) rolled oats (GF)
  • 125 g (1 cup) ground almonds (or wholemeal/spelt flour)
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) flax meal (ground flax seeds)
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) raisins (I used moscatel, so juicy)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250 ml/1 cup (2 small pots) goat’s (or Greek) yoghurt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, grated
  • 1 pear

Preheat oven to 160 C and line your muffin tin with paper cases.

Add the oats, flax meal, raisins, yoghurt, oil, vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon, honey and beaten eggs to a bowl and mix together. Leave to soak for 10 minutes to soften the oats.

Then grate in the apple with the skin and any juice up to the pips and mix through. Then add the ground almonds (or flour) and fold in gently.

Use an ice cream scoop (or large spoon) to fill the muffin cases then sprinkle over a few oats. Bake for 15 minutes then slice the pear into thin circles and place one on top of each muffin. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Brush the tops with a little honey while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

Apple, Pear & Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

Coming up soon in my Sweet & Healthy series: Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars and Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies.

Hasta Pronto!

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Quick Indian Spiced Broccoli with Yellow Lentils and Toasted Almonds

13 Feb Indian Broccoli & Lentils with Almonds

Indian Broccoli and Lentils

I bought some lovely tender stem broccoli from the farmer’s market on Sunday. I wanted to elevate it to top billing in a dish rather than the, green vegetable on the side of something else, that it can so often be thoughtlessly demoted to.

Tender Stem Broccoli

One of the most successful recipes on my blog (as in most viewed) is a delicious broccoli as the star dish. It’s my version of an Ottolenghi recipe for Chargrilled Broccoli with Garlic, Chilli & Sweet Soy Rice Noodles. It’s still one of The Washer Up’s favourites, and mine. I don’t make it as often as I would like because chargrilling the broccoli on  my striped grill pan fills the kitchen (and the rest of the house) with smoke. Our extractor fan is useless. I think it actually blows the smoke into the kitchen rather than extracting it, so I have to leave the front door open to let it all out. It might need cleaning I suppose. *Buries head in sand*.

Indian Spiced Broccoli & Lentils

This is a quick and easy supper or lunch dish that can be thrown together in about half an hour. That is a real 30 minutes by the way, not a Jamie Oliver 30 minutes. Which is more like 60 minutes in human time in case you were wondering.

Indian Broccoli & Lentils with Almonds

Indian Spiced Broccoli with Yellow Lentils and Toasted Almonds

Serves 2 as a light lunch/supper with some Indian bread. Easily doubled.

Vegan, Gluten-free

  • 2 tsp coconut oil (or any cooking oil)
  • about 225 g tender stem broccoli or florets
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped (deseed for less heat)
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 125 g dried yellow lentils (or any quick cook lentil)
  • 250 g + veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/2 lemon
  • a handful of flaked almonds (or cashews) toasted in a dry pan until lightly browned

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium high heat, add the cumin seeds & mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop. Add in the onion, garlic, chilli & ginger with a pinch of salt and cook for about 4 minutes until softened. Then add the lentils, turmeric and ground coriander stirring to coat the lentils and pour in 250 ml stock.

Bring to the boil then lower the heat  and simmer, covered for about 12 minutes (depending on the lentils) until they are tender soft. Lay the broccoli on top of the lentils and add a good splash of veg stock, season well with salt & pepper, bring to the boil again then lower the heat and simmer, covered again for about 5 minutes until the broccoli is tender but still crisp.

Add most of the fresh coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice and taste. Adjust seasoning as required.

Serve topped with some toasted flaked almonds, the rest of the fresh coriander and a wedge of lemon to squeeze over.

Indian Broccoli & Yellow Lentils

And no need to use (or clean) the grill pan or the extractor. Result.

Indian Broccoli with Lentils

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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