Thursday, 30 June 2011

Lost in Flowers

Flirting Flowers

Are we ever truly lost? When the chips are down and things are tough and winter's bleakness grips like a glove, what then? Where do we go? We wait, we try to be still and trust, that as the wheel turns, so too does the weather and our mood.

Summer melts away winter's residue. Now we find light and brightness wherever we go. This is a bloomin’ beautiful time of year. Delicious edible delights are growing in a bush near you! And colourful flowers adorn each passing sidewalk, almost flirting with the sunshine.

I love flowers; I love how they smell, the colours they hold, the thought they represent and most of all the hope that they bring. 

Lost or found?
Summer fruits and flowers share much in common. A strawberry plucked at the right time tastes sweet and lush, plucked too soon and bitterness bites. It’s the same with experiences, there is a good time and then there is the wrong time.

How to tell the difference? Accept that being lost is sometimes really being found.

Today I’m sharing a simple recipe of spellbinding splendiferousness! I promised a week of no cook recipes to bring cool and here is numero dos. The joy here is that because the fruit is already frozen, within an hour and a half you have the most delightful of healthy and gorgeously delicious mock ice creams. All the yumminess with the best of summer. Does it get any better?

YES!

With the addition of organic edible flowers – try some “Calendula officinalis,” also known as the "pot marigold" or "poor man's saffron", your bowl will beam with luscious beauty and there is nothing “poor” about these petals. Feast your eyes as well as your appetite, they are one in the same thing. The hint of rose swirls the taste buds into a flower dreamers sensorium.

Flower power and Berry Zen Delight
Watch as the true colours of Summer unfold
Beautiful!
Serves 6
Frozen summer fruits, 400g
Greek yogurt, 500g
Crème fraiche 200ml
Sweet freedom/ fruit sugar, 3 tbsp
Vanilla essence ½ tsp
Rose essence ½ tsp

MIX all of the above ingredients in a large bowl until everything is well combined.
COVER the bowl with cling film and place in the freezer.
REMOVE 30 minutes later and mix again. You may notice that the berry juices begin to seep into the lush creaminess and the colours of summer appear. Isn’t it beautiful? Place bowl back in the freezer.
REPEAT 30 minutes later, breaking up any ice crystals and return to the freezer for a final 30 minutes, if longer, make sure you remove from the freezer for at least 15 minutes before serving and stir well.
SERVE when ready to eat, with a scattering of edible flower for a true Summer of Love!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Fresh Summer Soup

Time to cool down, tsssssss......
Are you blushing with heat? This gorgeous weather signals the long awaited arrival of summer. And while the temperature soars, you needn’t melt in exhaustion. Though as this is England, rain is never far away and having just finished my lunch, the crashing of thunder and lashing rain welcomes fresher weather, hopefully not for too long! Whatever the weather, we are in summer and as such our appetites change, so lets embrace it. There are a few energy boosting and oven-free delights that I'm going to share with you this week, which will allow you to breeze through the balminess like a ballerina on ice.
To avoid extreme cooling down measures try this gorgeous Green Gazpacho, it's the way forward!


Gazpacho reminds me of the night my Husband proposed
The 1st drop of cooling relief comes in the guise of Green GazpachoGazpacho soup, also known as gazpacho, is a chilled Spanish soup. It is usually  tomato-based, but this version celebrates all things green and is as refreshing and revitalising as any Gazpacho I've tasted. Cold soups are an obvious summer classic and this simple sup was first sipped by yours truly in Seville.


It is the most nourishing and cleansing of soups, literally your body will lap it up as will your taste buds. I've added my own special touch too for extra Feel goodness! Walnuts, toasty and delicious are wildly wonderful for the skin and nourish where no other foods can. Paired with pumpkin seeds, protein rich and wizzed together with all the other fresh ingredients, zzzzzzzyum!


Let your appetite be defined, not by your cravings, but rather by the seasonal bounty all around us. 


Green gazpacho will swirl you into chill-dom every time. Enjoy and surrender to summer, with this you’ll feel as cool as a cucumber and it literally takes minutes to make. Perfect for a light lunch or starter.
Refreshing Green Gazpacho
6 SERVINGS
*you may freeze excess and defrost as and when you’d like.
Walnuts 50g
Pumpkin seeds, 50g 
Celery sticks, 3
Green pepper, 1 cubed and deseeded
Cucumber, 1 large peeled and cut into chunks
Green Tabasco, several drops
Avocado, 1 ripe deseeded
Garlic, 2 cloves peeled
Baby spinach, 100g
Rocket, 50g
Basil, 1 tbsp 
Flat leaf parsley, 1 tbsp
Sherry vinegar, 3 tbsp
Olive oil, 3 tbsp
Greek yogurt, 3 tbsp
Lemon, 1 juiced
500ml cooled chicken/ vegetable stock
Celery salt 1 tsp
White pepper 1 tsp
Ice, 250g
TOAST walnuts and pumpkin seeds in a pan over a medium heat for a few minutes, until you hear a few pumpkin seeds popping.
TRANSFER to a blender and blitz until finely ground.
PLACE half of the vegetables and stock into blender and blitz.
CONTINUE by adding remaining vegetables, lemon juice, olive oil, sherry vinegar, Greek yogurt, Tabasco and blitz once again.
ADD ice and blitz until everything is well combined.
TASTE for seasoning and adjust to suit your taste buds, I tend to add a few more drops of Tabasco at this stage.
SERVE immediately and enjoy the cooling waves.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Fairytale in Knightsbridge

Stir some magic into your life with this gorgeously healthy fresh risotto
The other day as I walked past Harvey Nichols, I noticed a lady selling individual flowers. She caught my eye and as she approached with smiling sweetness, in a split second she switched into a stormy rant. An oblivious man bumbling with a map, clearly lost, had accidentally tripped over her, she wailed at full pelt, “Devils eyes!” He looked distinctly uncomfortable and sheepish as she continued to scold him, all the while he carried on walking trying to ignore her. The fairytale synergy was compelling, if she'd been able to, I'm sure she'd of turned him into a toad! I was relieved as a moment of a possible meeting with the Grand Madame, never meant to be, melted into yesterday. Phew! I held my bump protectively and walked by. The woman reminded me of a fairytale witch, do you remember the one who haggles with Rapunzel's father for their first born child in exchange for cabbages and lettuce? Here's a clip for those of you who don't know the story.


My interest in all things cabbages and lettuce, and many more besides, glittered my taste buds during my first pregnancy, a growing desire to find true nourishment and the importance of eating well took centre stage, for then, what I ate contributed towards the growth of my son. Now some years on I find myself again “eating for two.” Though that assumption is long gone, all the pregnancy literature makes a real point of eating well and keeping fit, so "bye bye" family size trifle and "hello" fruit, balance and gorgeous greens. Ham sandwiches with mustard are a new favourite too.
Whether you're pregnant or not, now is the time to STRENGTHEN your immune system and develop an active interest in NURTURING your body, along with diet, an active lifestyle makes for a HAPPY soul!
The recipe I'm sharing with you today is seriously delicious and unlike many risotto recipes there is no need for butter or olive oil. The secret to making good risotto lies in the stirring, keep stirring until each ladle of stock has been absorbed.
Nearly there....

Ah, just right!
The freshness of lemon and rocket are complimented by the texture of artichokes and naturally sweet peas. This recipe features these three amazing ingredients, and here's why they're so nutritious;
Three is the magic number!

1 ~ Peas ~ they contain phytonutrients which feature heavily in research to protect against stomach cancer. Our bodies feel they're good and with their natural sweetness our taste buds delight in appreciation;

2 ~ Artichokes ~ awaken our taste buds with their distinctive tang, tummies curl in bliss while the warming sensation of eating well becomes a savoury exchange of acceptance and nurture. They belong in the thistle family, and like milk thistle, artichokes cleanse the liver and protect against toxins and infection, while also being a great source of folic acid ~ essential in pregnancy.

3 ~ Rocket ~ improves the blood and is an aphrodisiac, with it's lovely peppery taste the skies the limit, vroom vroom!

Pea, Artichoke and Rocket risotto
Rinse your risotto well before cooking ~
an Italian friend promises this makes a real difference!




SERVES 4

Risotto rice, 300g rinsed
Hot chicken/ vegetable stock 1.2 litre
Peas 50g
Char grilled Artichokes, 50g roughly chopped
Rocket salad 50g
Parmesan 50g
Lemon, 1 juiced and zested


HEAT a non-stick pan over a medium heat.
TOAST the rice, stirring non-stop for a minute.
POUR in one ladle of stock and stir continuously until absorbed.
REDUCE heat.
REPEAT ladle by ladle, each time waiting for the stock to absorb.
COOK and stir for roughly twenty minutes. Season generously with freshly ground pepper, before you
POUR in peas, artichokes, rocket, cheese and lemon juice and continue cooking for a further 3-5 minutes, adding the last few ladles of stock.
TASTE and adjust seasoning to suit your palette.
SPRINKLE lemon zest on top and an extra grating of Parmesan for those that like it.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever


The smell of freshly cut grass, thunder and lightening, white shorts and bees, can only mean one thing! Wimbledon.

Wimbledon = Rain (usually lots of it!)
+ British hopes for a Champion, media frenzy in all of the tabloids, think "Henman mania."
+ Brilliant footage of McEnroe loosing his temper, wish there was more of that.
+ Last but by no means least, “Strawberries and Cream.”

Strawberries are at their brilliant best this time of year, so I’m feeling the Strawberry love ~ think "Strawberry Fields Forever" and sharing this French classic, “Tarte Au Fromage Frais,” with the topping of Summer joy, strawberries of course! The beauty of this recipe is that one may top it with any seasonal fruit of choice, next week I’m going to try a gooseberry version! I’ve used rice flour, so this treat is Gluten-free and will leave you feeling gleeful and light, forget the sleepy haze that often accompanies desserts; this one will leave you feeling fruity.

Beware my beautiful friends, share a double strawberry with someone and you will be smitten, loves warm hands will wrap you in the arms of that person! Choose your company wisely when eating this most delicious of fruits.

Three reasons to go wild for strawberries
  1. Excellent source of vitamins
  2. A very happy mood food
  3. Good for bones and teeth
“One must ask children and birds how strawberries taste.”
Johann Goethe

Strawberry Tarte

SERVES 6

Totally Scrumptious!
PASTRY

Rice flour 175g
Unsalted butter 75g, softened
Sweet freedom or fruit sugar if unavailable, 60g
Egg yolks 3
Vanilla essence 1 tsp
Salt, a pinch

FILLING

Fromage frais 225g
Butter 50g, softened
Sweet freedom or fruit sugar if unavailable, 70g
Eggs, 2 beaten

TOPPING

Strawberries 20 (or as many as you can fit!)
Strawberry jam, 2 tbsp ~ St Dalfour is a great sugar-free version and is available in many fruits

BLEND all pastry ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
WIPE a surface with a wet cloth and line a sheet of cling film on surface.
LIGHTLY flour cling film and place dough on top.
KNEAD gently and form a ball.
WRAP in cling film and leave to chill for at least 30 minutes.
PREHEAT oven to 190’ (375’F) gas 5.
MAKE the filling by mixing Fromage frais, butter, sweet freedom ~ or fruit sugar and eggs.
ROLL out pastry and line a 23cm flan tin. Be sure to leave excess pastry around the edges, gently trim edges when tarte is completely cooked, for a pretty and even finish.
PRICK the base with a fork and bake blind for 10 minutes. (line with greaseproof paper and place some baking beans on top.)
POUR filling into pastry case and bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden brown on top.
COOL on a wire wrack completely before trimming edges.
HEAT jam in a small saucepan and add a squeeze of lemon juice to loosen.
STIR into strawberries and lovingly lay on top of baked tarte.
SERVE with Greek yogurt or for that classic feel a silky spoon of clotted cream.
SURRENDER to summer and strawberries;-)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Tuna tales

Summer Sandwich ~ You can taste the sunshine!
In season right now, this relative of the mackerel family is a sandwich lover’s summer dream. From now until September, this incredibly delicious deep-sea fish serves well as a simple and effortless sandwich that isn’t easily forgotten.

Follow the river seaward,
Through the oceans blue ~
Follow your dreams always,
And see where the tide takes you ~

Sandwiches, like their many various fillings, carry with them layers of memories and textures that please all taste buds. My most vivid sandwich memory is my Dad’s “Egg, Spring onion and Mayo Sandwiches”. He didn’t skimp on the mayo or salt and the scent these delights delivered insured no mistaking that egg was on the menu! Coach trips were a mixture of happy tummy, meets gentle trepidation, just before unwrapping the silver foil to see the soft bread and inhale the unctuous scent! Do you have a favourite sandwich? I’d love to hear about it;-)
‎"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect."
— Anaïs Nin

You’ll understand my inspiration for this beauty when I mention Tuna Nicoise and Arabian dreams. This celebration of flavours wrapped in whole-wheat pita is YUM YUM YUM! And will have you salivating right up until the moment you lift this colourful gorgeousness to your expectant mouth.

I’m pregnant, and Tuna, to my surprise isn’t recommended too often, though I’m assured that in moderation, it’s absolutely fine, so pregnant friends savour this and to everyone else, I hope this becomes a summer favourite. Tuna is packed with nutrients and omega glory ~ how can one resist?

Tuna Sandwich to be remembered
This sandwich is complemented beautifully by last weeks Broad Bean Salad

SERVES 2

Tomato, 1 chopped
Cucumber, ¼ peeled and cut into bite size chunks
Spring onion, 1 roughly chopped
Black olives, a small handful
Tuna steaks, 2
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Basil leaves, 1 sprig, leaves torn
Whole-wheat pita bread, 2
Hummus, 1 tbsp
Lemon juice, 1 tsp
Ground cumin, a pinch
Plain yogurt, 1 tbsp 

HEAT a pan and pour in oil.
SEAR tuna for two minutes on each side, trust your instincts here and be watchful, pink is lovely for many though you may prefer it more well done, in which case lengthen the cooking.
COMBINE tomatoes, cucumber, spring onion, olives and basil together ~ season generously ~ tomatoes love salt!
TOAST pita and cut along one side to create a happy pocket for deliciousness.
MIX hummus, lemon juice, cumin and yogurt together ~ if a little thick, loosen with a few teaspoons of water.
SPOON salad mix into pita, followed by sliced tuna and drizzle over hummus mix.
SCRUM and yum didley YUM!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Broad Truth

It's whats on the inside that counts:-)
To taste and not feel,
To think and not say,
To be and care little,
To lose and win nothing –

Is to be empty.

To relish and love,
To speak and light up a room,
To say sorry and mean it,
To not know and trust anyway –

Is to be enriched.

Chorizo loves a pear!
I’m sharing the simplest of warm salads today. The flavours speak for themselves and though I didn’t eat broad beans much as a child, as an adult I welcome them to my plate ~ they're an excellent source of protein and contain LEVODOPA, a chemical the body requires to produce dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with the brain's reward and motivation system)

To shell a bean is a less arduous task than you may think, I’ll go as far as to say it’s relaxing, grounding even. It is the small repetitive actions in cooking that are most meditative - your reward will be a welcome example of “beauty is skin deep” for inside awaits a true emerald gem. The velvet green capsule holds sweetness and flavour in abundance. Whisk a dressing of zesty lemon and tangy wholegrain mustard; finishing with a sprinkling of mint and NOURISHMENT of the most cleansing kind ensues. For an extra bite, you may add some chorizo, if so, balance with a few pears too.
Our Irish cat Rusty, under the broad beans - has he been snacking on them? He looks pretty sharp!!! ;-))

The recipe is laid out so that you may choose, trust your instincts, listen to your body and know that it is in our simplest actions that we find true peace.

Love,

Sinead xxx

Broad Beans with Minted Mustard and Honey Dressing
Fresh and delicious


SERVES 4

Broad beans 800g
Olive oil, 2 tbsp
Red onion, 1 finely sliced
Lemon, 1 juiced
Clear honey, 2 tsp
Wholegrain mustard, 1 tsp,
Mint, 1 small bunch, leaves finely sliced

OPTIONAL

Chorizo, 50g sliced
Pear, 1 cored and sliced

SHELL broad beans and cook in lightly salted water for 7 minutes until tender.
HEAT a pan, when hot pour in oil and fry onion until beginning to soften.
ADD chorizo at this stage, if using.
WHISK together, lemon, whole grain mustard, honey, mint and seasoning.
DRAIN beans.
POUR dressing into the hot pan and add pears (if using)
MIX well and pour everything into a serving bowl.
GORGEOUS!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Waiting for a gap

"Time and tide wait for no man" - as King Canute discovered to his horror when he failed to make the sea obey his command ~ mmm ~ Nature reminds us of our place in the natural order each waking day,  and no less is true in our kitchens and in music of course - this is one of my favourite pieces by the majestic Philip Glass! Now, back to the kitchen, the heart beat of our homes,  where time determines frazzled from fried and sailing to stressful, celebrations from woe and weekend rest to working day. How we manage time and respond to the tick tock clock coincides with our overall contentment and coping levels. 


On the BBC's "Saturday Kitchen" the lovely bear like Tom Kerridge upon being informed of an unusual foodie fact said gleefully, "Everyday is a school day". I felt an inner smile and grateful recognition as I was taught something too - It is in listening and responding, be it in the kitchen, classroom, office, bedroom or street that we learn most. Life is more interesting when we are receptive and open, in food terms; the changing seasons keep us on our toes and encourage us to enjoy all that surrounds us. This month aptly, runner beans are tootling in our shops and gorgeous berries, radishes, rhubarbs and many other delights are dancing in the sweet summer air.

Sunshine in your palm!
I often get hankerings for pancakes, both the savoury and sweet kind, they're light and suggest calm to me - though sometimes they seem easier to prepare than other times. What I'm learning is that the simplest recipes are transformed by thoughts - I know this to be true - I'd like to make a small request.... the next time you cook, consciously smile and feel the warmth in your tummy! if making this recipe start by cracking the eggs into your hand:-) that will set the tone. I'd love to hear how it goes and what you cooked? Did it taste better? When I do the food always tastes better, as time ceases to stress and the experience proves more important than the result. Pressure is a power we choose to bow too, time is a reality that makes equals of us all.

Wrap a couple of these up in foil, slip in your bag or large pocket:-) find a lovely view and relish it accompanied by the maturity of cheddar and the sweetness of corn!

Golden days are now.

*these make a perfect addition to any packed lunch – they are my son’s favourite.

FFX

Sweet corn and Cheddar pancakes

Makes 10

Rice flour 200g
Baking powder 2 tsp (gluten-free for those who wish it to be so)
Eggs 3 beaten
Milk 100ml
Mature cheddar 150g
Tabasco several drops
Tin of sweet corn 300g
Spring onions 7 finely chopped
Chives 1 small bunch chopped
Seasoning

Lovely and golden
BLEND together in a mixer all of the above ingredients, excluding the sweet corn and spring onions.
STIR in chives, sweet corn and spring onions – season generously.
SPOON two tablespoons per pancake on a lightly oiled heated pan.
FLIP after two minutes and cook until the other side is golden too.
SERVE warm with whatever topping suits you, or simply serve with a fresh green salad – either way there is sure to be no leftovers!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Aromatic Love

Love greets us on a plate! The ending of a kitchen story where hands create!

Love needs no introduction, it is felt universally, knows no bounds and is a language we all understand ~ blazing through each of us with a pulse so strong and pure ~ it’s other pseudonym, LIFE. Anything that doesn’t nourish or nurture is not LOVE! LOVE is life giving and purifying:-)

Cooking is one of the simplest ways to express love and colours our life with a rainbow of flavours and tastes.
Felt all over the world ~ Arc en ciel ~ 彩虹 ~ pelangi ~ regenbogen ~ rainbow:-) 


When we feel good after a meal, then be sure, that the most sacred of ingredients has been added, LOVE, when the cook skips this out, it’s clear to all.

Do you honestly ever feel good after McDonalds or other fast food?

In contrast, how do you feel after a home cooked meal, prepared by someone you love?

Sauce marinade gives this dish wings!
Gravy and sauces are what I call the “jus, jus” of meals, it would be as easy to go without them, though when that little bit of extra time and thought is given to a meal it becomes complete.

This time last year I shared a chicken recipe, "Some of my favourite summer smells" This dish fits into my list of summer favourites ~ light and fragrant ~ with that jewel of an ingredient five spice, it is an aromatic dreamers gold dust, pour in some soy, oyster sauce and honey and we bring poultry to a sticky and delicious taste sensation.

One of my golden rules, and I don't have many ~ add protein to each meal ~ it is the building block for our cells, by doing so we actively support our blood sugar control and like all good nourishment, a feeling of balance will follow:-)
 
This protein rich dish is a true crowd pleaser and pure in its deliciousness. Serve with soba noodles and edamame beans for a meal to savour.

I hope you enjoy it!

FFX

Aromatic Love
Memories of nourishment

SERVES FOUR

Chicken breasts, 4 with skin on
Soy sauce, 2 tbsp
Honey, 2 tbsp
Oyster sauce, 2 tbsp
Lime, juice and zest
Five spice, 1 tsp
Chilli powder, ½ tsp
White pepper, ½ tsp
Sesame oil, 1 tsp
Garlic clove, 3 bashed and roughly chopped
Ginger, 1 tbsp, bashed into a paste

MIX all of the ingredients together in a jug, except the chicken breasts.
CUT each breast into two-pieces, length ways.
PLACE the chicken in a suitable sized dish and pour over marinade.
MASSAGE all the gooey loveliness into the chicken pieces.
LEAVE to marinate for at least 20 minutes, though a couple of hours would be even better.
PRE-HEAT oven to gas 6, 200’c.
TRANSFER chicken pieces onto a lined baking tray – and dispose of the excess sauce.
BAKE for 25 minutes.
SERVE with soba noodles and edamame. Lime pieces and scallions (as my Dad called them:-) spring onions to some, scattered liberally on top make for a colourful addition too.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Marinade me


A spoonful of goodness helps the meatiliciousness go down! 

A proposal of the most tempting kind! And the answer is YES, YES, YES! Marinades are the flavour of “forget me not”. Beauteously they tenderise effortlessly and this particular gem is one of my all time favourites for beef.
Give gorgeousness to beef 
Ginger gingerly melts and boosts the flavour of the meat. The celery salt captures your senses in tangy splendour that twinned alongside garlic, both fresh and powdered, gives an infusion of flavours that creates a carnivores taste carnival;-))

Wherever you are in the world, buy your meat from local producers.

“Cottages, stock, green fields and birds . . . . if we want to keep this beauty farmers need to be supported, which means buying British meat.” Tim Wilson

It is with total conviction that I support this and would encourage everyone to take a moment to consider why it is so important. Beauty, passes us by every moment of the day, sometimes it’s not so obvious, though I challenge anyone to gaze over a country meadow, peeping between the hedgerows and butterflies and not be bowled of by nature’s beauty.
If you're lucky, a blue butterfly may land on you!

The secret to a good steak is to pre-heat the pan – I love to use a griddle pan, though this is not essential. Heat on a high setting for a few minutes, then tssssss – the meat when placed gently onto the pan surrenders and sears, the scent released beckons an audience of the most mouth watering kind! Serve alongside a freshly made potato salad and warmed beetroot, for light and unforgettable meat magnificence.

Meat marinade 

A gargantuan summer feast awaits!


tssssssssssss!!!
MAKES ENOUGH FOR FOUR PIECES OF STEAK

Soy sauce, 1 tbsp
Olive oil, 2 tbsp
White pepper, ½ tsp
Celery salt, a pinch
Ginger, 1 heaped tsp, crushed into a paste
Garlic powder, ½ tsp
Garlic clove, 1 crushed into a paste

MIX all of the above ingredients until well combined
POUR over your meat and leave for at least fifteen minutes.
MAGIC happens when meat is left for a couple over hours, to soak up flavours.
When ready to eat
PRE-HEAT a pan large enough to fit your steaks.
PLACE steak in pan – no need to grease.
COOK to you liking, depending on the thickness of steaks, and how you like your meat cooked, time will vary – follow your instinct. As a rough guide 2 ½ minutes on both sides works wonders for me.
REST meat for five minutes in a warm place before serving.
SAUNTER . . .
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