Thursday, 30 September 2010

La Vida Lavender

At which time the gentle fragrance captured her nose, sweeping her into a place of calm, a warmed glass of honeyed milk accompanied by the most delicate of flavours, Lavender. Lovely Lavender, that gently trickles freshness and whimsical thoughts. Lightness and longing float together with this subtle scent.

Subtlety is the key when using Lavender in cooking, too much and it feels like you're eating perfume, too little and you loose its majesty.

I’m a believer in cycles and as my last two blogs have been about baking, I thought it apt to follow on with a grand finale of floral heights – yep, you guessed it, loveliest Lavender Kookies! They bring the idea of balance to a new level.
These sweet morsels are so delicate on the taste buds, what better accompaniment to a warm milky drink before bedtime to guarantee a peaceful and deep sleep?

Lavender carries pleasantries amongst her purple buds, it helps say adios to insomnia and relieves both anxiety and depression. Wonderful news then for combating winter blues. One extra beauty to bear in mind, during the plagues in France, many moons ago, French glove makers laced Lavender on their mittens and with its antiseptic properties, those who wore them were apparently among the lucky survivors! Phew! What a relief.

Special tip - Every cookie deserves a home. Find a sturdy jar, for a clearly cookie only zone, and create a happy corner in your kitchen. 

So to health and happiness and Lavender Lullabies, with the Loveliest Lavender Kookies, of course!!! ;-)


Lovely Lavender Kookies

Makes 10 biscuits

Rice flour 60g
porridge oats 60g
baking powder 1tsp
lavender 2 tsp
sweet freedom 60g  
Butter 60g
Vanilla essence 1 tsp

PRE-HEAT oven to 350F 180'/ gas 4.
MIX rice flour, oats, baking powder and lavender in a bowl.
MELT butter, sweet freedom and vanilla essence in a small saucepan.
POUR into bowl and mix everything well with a wooden spoon.
SPOON dsp dollops of the mixture onto a non-stick baking tray/ or one lined with baking parchment.
MOULD into shape of your choice.
BAKE for 10-12 minutes.
REMOVE from oven and leave to cool on tray for five minutes.
DAINTILY enjoy . . . . zzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Love in a letter

I used to love listening to Elvis and sometimes still do. One favourite song, Return to Sender, a very catchy number pleased and perplexed me in equal measures. Do you know the song? It’s very catchy.

I gave a letter to the postman,
He put it in his sack.
Bright and early next morning,
He brought my letter back.

She wrote upon it:
Return to sender, address unknown.
No such number, no such zone.
We had a quarrel, a lover’s spat
I write I’m sorry but my letters keep coming back

The recipe coincidentally contains one of my favourite delights, flaxseed. Flaxseed is a wonder food and bellows health and sustenance, with its highly nutritious repertoire of goodness; you’ll be YEEHAAAING all the way, as it’ll leave you feeling satisfied and nicely full. The Omega-3 fatty acid and array of B vitamins will boost brainpower and concentration all the while. I’ve tinkered with it ever so slightly; in place of the applesauce I’ve used pureed apples, blueberries and bananas. Also I’m a huge fan of Glenilen Farm Dairy Products, the deep mellow yellow colour of the Butter is a world and flavour away from other butters. It’s churned and produced in West Cork, I know the place well, and often think the dairy cows there look very content, munching away on the lush green grass, Waitrose agrees too. Measurements are different in America, for that reason I’m sharing two versions with you, so wherever you may be in the world, whichever one suits, is the right one for you. You’ll have a lovely batch of cookies to savour.

Family recipes are a true treasure, a source of comfort and connection, if there’s one thing I recommend, it’s sharing family recipes, in doing so we celebrate the ties that bond us and reconnect in a lovely and personal way.

So whatever you’re doing this week, bake a batch of these if you get the chance, savour sweet memories and let them dance over your thoughts – maybe even write a letter or two.

Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle souls; for, thus friends absent speak.

John Donne

Special tip – To truly embrace baking buy a special bowl, one that is beautiful and solid, it’s the little things that make the whole experience more rewarding.

Cowboy cookies - Here we go

American Version
1 c. butter
2 c. date sugar  (can add ~2 tbsp brown sugar or honey if desire more sweetness- but not necessary)
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 c. brown rice flour (for gluten-free) or whole wheat flour +
1/2 c. flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed)
1 tsp. aluminum-free baking soda 
Salt a sprinkle
Vanilla a few dashes
2 c. oats
1 c. flaked coconut

British version
butter 200g
sweet freedom 250g
unsweetened applesauce/ pureed apple and blackberry 60g
brown rice flour or whole-wheat flour 250g
flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed) 85g
baking soda 1tsp 
Salt a sprinkle
Vanilla a few dashes
Oats 200g
Desiccated coconut 120g

PRE-HEAT oven to 350F, 180'/ gas 4.
MIX flour, oats, baking powder, flaxseed, salt and desiccated coconut in a bowl.
MELT butter, sweet freedom and vanilla in a small saucepan.
POUR into bowl and mix everything well with a wooden spoon.
SPOON required cookie sized dollops of the mixture onto a non-stick baking tray/ or one lined with baking parchment.
SHAPE into cookie shape of your choice.
BAKE for 10-12 minutes, until nicely golden.
REMOVE from oven and leave to cool on tray for five minutes.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Balance and biscuits?

What happens when a crumb becomes a trail and that trail leaves you feeling empty and lost? Remember Hansel and Gretel? In brief, a Mother most horrid abandons her two children in the dark woods, the children with no stones to guide them home, throw crumbs instead! And crumbs! The crumbs get eaten. The Candy covered oasis in the middle of the woods beckons, where they're tricked by a wicked witch (you guessed right, the Mother!) and of course good conquers evil, aurevoir Maman, and they live happily ever after. Returning to their father, they live off the Witches wealth! Poor Mother, she could have done with a cup of chamomile tea and a good heart to heart!!

The moral of the story – don't rely on crumbs, or perhaps things that look nice don't always nourish, in both company and food. Either way, it makes for a colourful and thought provoking fable. Hunger comes in many different guises, and when balance and hunger meet, satisfaction follows suit. When cravings guide, balance falls flat and an endless maze ensues. 

I have a little saying, Balance is never found in the biscuit tin. However, when the biscuit in question is a delicious creation of homemade deliciousness, baked with fine ingredients and crafted with your very own special touch, well it’s a whole different story.
You’ll find calm baking these, they’re best accompanied by a lovely cup of your favourite tea, and a dear friend. Turmeric gives these joys a beautiful bright colour and pleasant after taste, also with its antiviral properties, lightly laced together with antibacterial cinnamon, they'll help keep colds at bay.

An interest in food is an interest in life and health. Balance is one of my favourite words and feelings. Anything too extreme; tips the scales and causes dysphoria, uh oh not welcome, if you please. Beauty and balance seek understanding and honesty, when baking choose ingredients well, take pride in your choices. I use buckwheat flour in this recipe, for a wheat free alternative, though wholewheat flour is fine too. I also use sweet freedom in place of refined sugar, it contains no goodness, only empty calories and your dear body is left to compensate, using up essential nutrients from healthy cells to metabolise this treat. For a more detailed explanation follow this link

Tick tock!
Special tipInvest in a timer, woe betide all that effort goes to waste, many the time I've seen the change from golden crunch to burnt out rock ;-)

When I bake a biscuit I choose the best ingredients that I can find, and enjoy sharing them with lovely friends. Modern life may sometimes leave us frazzled, so get out your apron and find harmony in your kitchen, a place of wonder, whoever is lucky enough to share it will be over the moon! Now there’s another story . . . 

Feeling Food Kookies!

Makes 10 biscuits

Buckwheat flour 60g
porridge oats 60g
baking powder 1tsp
turmeric 1 flat tsp
cinnamon 1/2 tsp
sweet freedom 60g  
Butter 60g
Milk 1 tbsp

PRE-HEAT oven to 180'/ gas 4.
MIX buckwheat flour, oats, baking powder, turmeric and cinnamon in a bowl.
MELT butter, sweet freedom and milk in a small saucepan.
POUR into bowl and mix everything well with a wooden spoon.
SPOON dsp dollops of the mixture onto a non-stick baking tray/ or one lined with baking parchment.
SHAPE into shape of your choice.
BAKE for 10-12 minutes.
REMOVE from oven and leave to cool on tray for five minutes.
SHARE with friends.

Monday, 20 September 2010

OMG - Ottolenghi

OMG! These beautiful deli’s, come Mecca’s of gastronomy grace London’s sunnier streets, for Yotam Ottolenghi has an eye for all things extraordinarily edible.

Some might say Yotam has the midas touch?

His meringues are magical mountains of bursting peaks and bright eye catching colour.

His salads sing freshness and taste, perfectly dressed and textures that appeal to all.

Carnivorous types are not to be left out either, meat cuts are tended too like delicate flowers, cooked to perfection, juicy and tender, simply melt in the mouth.

OMG! I’ve had the pleasure of watching Mr Ottolenghi in action, his confident presence in the kitchen is reassuring and his knowledge of cookery impressive. Above all, he celebrates the beauty of food and appears to be on a continuous journey of flavour adventure. What drives this passion?

He loves? I love. We all love. What to love? Love, an awesome feeling, to our hearts love is our innermost glove, warming all who feel it, it is everlasting and all encompassing. Love protects and heals us from all woes, it offers hope and light. It's purity is priceless and plentiful. Thank goodness it cannot be bought, what a relief.

Today, however, Love is coined to sell and promises kudos. I'm sure we all want a piece of the cake, whatever that may be. Though if it's not real it will never sustain and leave you wanting more. Our bodies thrive when treated with love, inspiration and creativity flow freely, good food and positive feelings in plentiful abundance encourage this process. Maybe Mr Ottolenghi thinks so too?
I recommend seeking out one near you, for a gallery of food cooked with love, if there isn't one close by, try his recipes instead. I’m a big fan of his cookbooks, his latest, “Plenty” is a vegetarians waking dream- I have a signed copy for one lucky reader, all you have to do to be in with a chance is –

Describe, in no more than 50 words, a food you love and why?  Please email your entries to and include your address. I will dedicate a blog to the winning entry and Mr Ottolenghi’s lovely signed cookbook will be yours to keep. The closing date for entries is 30th October, just in time for spooky Halloween . . .

Today on this beautiful Monday I’m sharing with you my favourite bread recipe. This is loved by all who taste it and it is so simple to make. Enjoy feeling love in your bread-making.

With love FFX

You may be wondering what OMG stands for in the FF sense???  

OH MONDAY’S GREAT! Of course :-)

I hope you're having a lovely start to the week, and that you enjoy making these.

Lovely Soda Wedges of possibility

Dry ingredients
Wholewheat flour 450g
Salt ½ tsp
Bicarbonate of soda 1tsp
Mature cheddar cheese 140g, grated
Courgette 1 small grated
Walnuts 1 handful roughly chopped

Wet ingredients
Buttermilk 284ml
Semi skimmed milk 3 tbsp
Wholegrain mustard 2 tbsp

PRE-HEAT oven to 220’ gas 7.
LINE baking tray with baking parchment.
MIX together all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
MAKE a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
COMBINE wet ingredients in a jug and pour into your well.
STIR and mix to make a wish!
LIGHTLY shape into a ball and gently flatten to make roughly a 22cm round loaf.
CUT into 8 wedges and place slightly apart on the line baking tray.
BAKE for 20 - 25 minutes, depending on your oven.
COOL on a wire rack and cover with a clean tea towel.
EAT with your favourite soup for a seriously soothing experience. 

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Goldilocks ate a lamb supper?

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Goldilocks. She was a curious child with long golden hair and huge searching blue eyes. Upon walking through the woods one day she caught a faint smell in the air and followed her nose. Eagerly she skipped, then galloped and to a cottage she arrived. Quietly she crept inside and there on the table were three plates, on each plate was a sumptuous serving of not porridge, oh no, instead Oat and Mint crusted Lamb. Succulent and juicy sweet, Goldilocks tucked in....
Sometimes food associations last well after an event. I have never lost my appreciation for porridge, it has a comforting, warming taste, suggesting goodness and is deliciously filling too. Who’d of thought Lamb would compliment oats? This lovely recipe would have Goldilocks smiling, I'm sure. Oats aren’t just for our breakfast tables after all. In this recipe parmesan and mint combine to create a luscious coat, so while your eating and savouring the sweetness of lamb, rest assured that the Oat goodness is reducing your cholesterol and blood pressure too. Lamb is a great source of zinc, a mineral that is essential for good immunity and an especially important nutrient for men, as it helps maintain prostate health, more please. 

I love simplicity, this meal takes minutes to prepare and with a short time in the oven it is yum yum time, in no time. Goldilocks minted lamb supper works particularly well as a warming midweek supper. I’ve used new potatoes, baby fennel and baby carrots, which compliment the lamb beautifully, courgettes and sweet potato would work well too. For an extra zing I like Lemon infused olive oil, plain is fine though. The special thing about this is the taste.

And they lived happily ever after . . .

Lots of love,


Goldilocks minted lamb supper

Lamb steaks 4
Rolled oats 100g
Mint leaves 12, rolled like a cigar and finely chopped
Parmesan 3 tbs
Egg,1 whisked
New potatoes 16, quartered
Baby fennel, 8 bulbs
Baby carrots, 8 
Red onion, 1 peeled & quartered
Olive oil, a good glug
PRE-HEAT oven to gas 5, 190’.
BLEND oats, parmesan and mint in a blender.
DIP lamb steaks in the beaten egg.
COAT lamb steaks with oat mix and lay on a foil lined baking tray.
SCATTER vegetables around the lamb.
DRIZZLE a good glug of olive oil over the vegetables and season.
BAKE for 30 minutes and serve with some mint sauce or redcurrant, whichever you prefer.
HAPPY tummies.

Monday, 13 September 2010

FFF Breakfast

I love breakfast, morning time brings hope and new possibilities, so with this in mind let’s start our days the way we mean to go on. You may wonder why a FFF Breakfast? Well it's super simple to prepare, and despite it’s name, not a repetition of expletives, no, no, no, it's more of a Yes, yes, yes start. Mornings are ideally a time of calm, for sure that is the dream scenario, though often not the reality. In fact, if there’s one meal that is skipped throughout the day, breakfast wins every time. An FFF breakfast offers a deliciously fresh beginning to our day, so say goodbye to chaos and hello to calm. 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you've heard it before and you'll hear it again, because its absolutely true. Breakfast sustains us and it's as though we're eating a bowl full of clarity, and that’s one thing you’ll be missing if you skip it. Breakfast is the key building block of our day, without it shaky foundations take root and our blood sugars nose dive. A great beginning needs a splendid breakfast; the old adage goes, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” By eating breakfast you'll be kick-starting your metabolism and giving your body the grace it naturally deserves.

A Feeling Food Fast Breakfast is fit for a King and offers a nutritious and simple breakfast boost, which will add an extra bounce to your step. After a good nights sleep, our tanks are low and need replenishing. Monday mornings often jump us into a frenzy, the gentle lulling of Sunday a distant past, so reach for the blender and give yourself a fantastic start to the week. It’s a deeply delicious combination of fruit and dairy. Please don’t be perturbed by the raw egg, though make sure that you use fresh free-range ones and that there are no cracks in sight. The mango mellows the yolkiness and is a high in iron and a powerful antioxidant. Cashews keep hunger at bay and cinnamon helps prevent colds and eases PMT. I love to sprinkle some Linwood Ground flaxseed and nuts for extra goodness and texture. Lovelylicious. All good then!

I love this quote –

“The moment when you first wake up in the morning is the most wonderful of the twenty-four hours.  No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you possess the certainty that, during the day that lies before you, absolutely anything may happen.  And the fact that it practically always doesn’t matters not a jot.  The possibility is always there.”  ~Monica Baldwin

Happy Monday to you! FFX

FFF Breakfast

Serves 4

Greek yogurt 300g
Free-range egg 1
Ripe Mango, flesh scooped out
Banana 2 peeled
Honey 2 tsp
Cashew nut spread 1 dsp
Cinnamon ½ tsp

WHIZZ all ingredients in a blender.
SCATTER with some extra flaxseed mix.
SERVE immediately and enjoy a filling and lovely light breakfast.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Naked Butternut Ravioli with Gorgeous Gubbeen

Autumn is gently turning to greet us. Conkers, missile like, will soon be plummeting to the ground, a reminder that change is in the air, watch out! Mother Natures mischievous unpredictability brings an array of new delights our way, butternut squashes, apples, juniper berries, pumpkins, sweetcorn and mushrooms are arriving, all the while crunchy leaves are beginning to fall. Slowly.

I love the seasons. I love brightness and blue skies.

I've enjoyed an Irish summer, often they're a very mixed bag of extremes, weather wise. Mizzle and mist one day, rain and wind the next, bright sun and balmy evenings the following, and often, all may figure in the same day! This summer, however, was steadily bright and warming, blue skies and bright sunshine, this was the case in West Cork anyhow.  

We picked blackberries and plums to make jams,

Each Sunday we went to the local farmers market where the Gubbeen stall gloriously beckoned. 

Gubbeen is run and owned by the Ferguson family, specializing in all things pork and cheese. On one particular Sunday I got chatting with the owners son, Fingal. We talked bacon, cured and smoked, cheese and sausage rolls, and then my most favourite of delights, black pudding. Not exclusively Irish though, for the French and Germans have all been using pigs blood to create this wonderful black delicacy for centuries. Fingal suggested having a black pudding party for my foodie friends, which I am considering. I surreptitiously added to the conversation a quote I’d read a few days before, from the wonderful Winston Churchill, “A cat looks down upon a man, and a dog looks up to a man, but a pig will look a man in the eye and see his equal.” Suffice to say the pigs at Gubbeen are kept in the best conditions, with a sea view no less. 
For me, if and when I eat meat, I like to know that the animals have been reared in the best possible conditions. Gubbeen's pork is premium, for sure, look at that view!

Here goes.

Naked Butternut Ravioli with Gorgeous Gubeen

Serves 6 as a starter, 3-4 as a main, depending on hunger levels!

Butternut squash, 1 kg, cut lengthwise and seeds scooped out
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Cinnamon ½ tsp
Ricotta 250g
Egg yolks 5
Nutmeg a good grind roughly ½ tsp
Gubbeen/ Parmesan 100g
Brown flour 1 cup
Butter 1 tbsp
Sage leaves 14
Organic single cream 250 ml

PREHEAT oven to 180C/ Gas 4
PLACE the squash in a roasting tin, cut-sides up
BRUSH with olive oil and season generously
SPRINKLE over cinnamon and bake for 50 minutes.
REMOVE from oven and allow to cool.
SCOOP  the cooled butternut squash into the centre of a clean tea towel.
ROLL up the tea towel as if making a Christmas cracker and bring the ends together, then twist to get rid of as much liquid as possible.
CHOP butternut squash and transfer to a large bowel.
ADD ricotta, egg yolks, nutmeg, half the cheese, seasoning and mix well.
SPRINKLE flour onto a clean surface
SHAPE butternut mixture into walnut sized balls and roll in the flour.
PLACE on a clean baking tray lined with baking paper and leave to chill in the fridge until ready to eat.

Sage sauce

HEAT butter in a small saucepan
ADD sage leaves and lightly sizzle for about five minutes.
POUR in cream and stir in cheese.
COOK on a gentle heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

When ready to eat

BRING a large pan of water to the boil and gently drop the balls in, they take only minutes to cook, like Gnocchi, when they rise to the top they’re cooked.
SPOON onto warmed plates.
POUR over sauce and saunter. Serve immediately.