Friday, 27 January 2012

Alive Alive Oh!

I’m not going to tell you the benefits of eating seafood, the whys and the wherefores; the feeling one gets after eating them is enough.

Light and free, it’s the way one wants to be?!

Simply to taste the sea, to float on an Island of majestic magic, is to eat this DELIGHTFUL shellfish. Mussels. The ultimate sensory food experience.
Ah, Mussels, gently sweet and temptingly salty – they are at their best in colder months. Only the freshest will do. Avoid broken ones and select only those with tightly closed shells. They will open up during cooking to reveal their orange flesh, if they’re female and paler cream if they’re male. As with all fish, I like to cook them on the day I buy them, this insures freshness and avoids any stinky smells lurking in the fridge! As you wash them, indulge any OCD notions you may have, for one damaged mussel makes for another experience altogether. This  dish deserves to be great, so freely chuck away anything that doesn’t feel right, the heavier ones are usually full of sand, bin them. De-beard, with a quick pulling movement and remove any barnacles, this is a dish to celebrate freshness and the sea – so the time it takes to clean them is well worth it.

I’m learning from these dear shellfish, they’re understated and are environmentally sound, growing in abundance and are fairly reasonably priced.
As a child my younger brother sang his very own rendition of “In Dublin’s fair city….” at all family occasions this would be called upon. There is something beautiful about the sound of a child’s voice, the gentle and unaffected notes, sometimes I wish that I could travel back in time, to notice things that passed so freely then and that I treasure so heartily now, and then I remind myself, this is NOW, this is BEAUTIFUL and all I am, I am today. Funnily I am most myself when I feel comfortable, with that in mind I urge you to enjoy eating with those you feel comfortable with too, there is no better company.
There is a time and there is now, and now is the time for plenty of soft crusty bread to soak up the gorgeous liquor that this dish gives! To Thailand and Beyond…

FFXOXO

Mussels with Thai flavours

Mussels, 2kg cleaned (any broken or open shells discard)
Thai fish sauce, 1 tbsp
Garlic clove, 1 bashed and crushed into a paste
Red chilli, 1 finely chopped (keep seeds in if you like heat)
Ginger, 1 tsp finely chopped
Lemongrass, woody outer layers removed and roughly chopped
Sesame oil, 1 tbsp
Lemon/lime 1, juice and zest
Spring onions, 4 cut into one each pieces on a diagonal

CLEAN mussels with TLC and plenty of fresh running cold water.
FEEL close to the sea! Lucky you, if you are.
PLACE mussels in a large lidded saucepan with all the other ingredients.
COOK over a high heat for 3 minutes, until mussels have just opened.
DISCARD any that are stubbornly closed – to the bin and beyond!
SERVE at once, in warmed large bowls, with some delicious crusty soft bread to mop up the liquor, or thick udon noodles work well too.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Love Choc

Cook Love





Sharing this Aztec jewel of a recipe with you, fills me with joy. Minutes of your time will create lasting mint memories for someone you love, that's a delicious promise! 
Hand-making a gift is priceless, something bigger than words follows, something stronger than trust develops, for the gift of time, is the ultimate way of expressing love. Love. For what is food without love?

Surely chocolate holds the evocative title of, “Food of love.” This recipe may bring a smile to every bit of you. Uber delicious, bite-sized cacao celebrations, that will leave your taste buds feeling good and your heart feeling happy, I promise! 
I feel like I’m giving you a golden ticket here...


And that the recipe should even feature in “Charlie and the chocolate factory.” Sorry, I don’t often blow my own trumpet, though these beauties deserve a good intro.
OK, if I must....
According to legend, cacao was discovered by the gods, at the foot of a mountain in South America. Taste the good chocolate, close your eyes, and you could well believe this. Mineral magic in the form of magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper and potassium saunter in its deliciousness. The eyes are as important as the taste buds for absorption of goodness, and chocolate ticks all the boxes. I’ve been reading a lot about anti-oxidants recently, and guess what, chocolate contains more of these little healing miracles than green tea, black tea, red wine and blueberries!
My cacao powder of choice! Remember good ingredients do half the cooking.
I’ve taken the guilt out of glorious chocolate by blending it with a wealth of whole foods. Rather than a heap of white sugar, additives and flavour enhancers, we are blending NATURALLY good sweet things; maple syrup meet coconut express, one helps maintain normal blood sugars and the other is anti-ageing. On the news last week it was recommended that women eat 1! Chocolate bar a week to help prevent dementia! Now whether that proves true or not, isn’t the point, the point is this is delicious and I think we all deserve delicious.
Surprise yourself, stir up some chocolate joy
Joy of joys, it keeps in the freezer and is minty fresh. After a meal I like something sweet, one of these is enough for me and my friends who have tried them have made requests for me to share the recipe on the blog. I’ve got a thing about almonds, I love to make milk from them, and know that chocolate compliments their flavour beautifully. My last post featured a wonderful way to transform nut pulp into hummus, this is my chocolate finale on almonds for now.

To chocolate lovelies everywhere!

Happy cooking!!!

Love always,

FFXOX

Mint chocolate bites
Flowers for the taste buds
MAKES 21 
Coconut oil, 90g
Almond butter, 50g
Maple syrup, 50g
Cacao powder, 20g
Peppermint extract, ½ tsp

MELT coconut oil in a small pan until liquid.
POUR in maple syrup and stir lovingly.
MIX in the almond butter, cocao powder and peppermint extract, stir well.
POUR into a measuring jug (this will make it much easier to transfer without spills)
GENTLY pour into mini muffin cups or silicone ice cube trays.
CAREFULLY place in the freezer and leave to set. Minutes later . . .
OOOOOOOOOOOH!
SHARE the love and bring a smile to someone you love.

I may have mentioned this before, my favourite affirmation from Louise Hay,

“I love and accept myself for who and what I am.”

Above all, we deserve love!


Cook with it always! xoxox

Friday, 13 January 2012

Feel Good Friday

Friday? Always brings a smile to my face. For my happy Friday breakfast, a piece of rye bread spread with Nut Pulp Hummus, washed down with some ice cold almond milk, made me almost jump off my seat and spring into a star jump! Woohoo!

Some good news to share, this month my first offering in my new column in Families First has been published. I’m enjoying this new chapter of sharing my passion for healthy food and will be sharing some of the recipes here too. 

Last week I posted a recipe for Almond Milk, I’ve had several requests to post a follow up. Those who made the silky ambrosia will know that the by-product is a fair amount of pulp. Pulp, not the kind for papier mache. Instead, pulp, so creamy and delicious it almost wills you to give it a couple of minutes to bring forth its majesty. Chickpeas are literally quaking in their boots, as this gorgeous dip gives the classic ingredient a run for its money, in fact you may never tread the pea path again!

This lovely dip will keep up to seven days in a tightly sealed container, though it’s so delicious I very much doubt it will last that long! There are hundreds of recipes to make the most from nut pulp, and there are whole blogs dedicated to the subject, here are a few;

As you dip into the weekend, may you feel great and enjoy whatever gifts are given to you today, for they make tomorrows dreams come true.

Lots of love,

FFXOX

Nutty Hummus

Nut pulp, 4 tbsp (leftovers from making nut milk from this recipe)
Garlic clove, 1
Lemon, 2 juiced
Water, 2 tbsp
Tahini, 4 tbsp(or other raw nut butter)
Ground cumin, 1 tsp
Smoked paprika, ½ tsp

BLEND everything until creamy smooth, accept the nut pulp.
SEASON to your taste.
SPOON in half the pulp and blend again.
ADJUST seasoning, you may want to add some more lemon juice, personalise it so it’s deliciously suited to your taste buds.
SPOON in remaining pulp and blend again.
SPRINKLE over smoked paprika, it gives a gorgeous kick!
SERVE with crudités and spread on your favourite bread, rye bread is a personal favourite.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Almond Milk

Cleopatra bathed in it, babies live on it and this New Years Day I raised a glass of it!

Milk, life juice of the universe! 
Though this one is dairy free and brings to mind one of my favourite tipples, the Japanese yogurt drink, Calpis. If you fancy something light and delicious, that is literally singing with goodness, look no further.

However, before I say anymore about almonds, I’d like to wish you a very, VERY!

Happy New Year!!!

I hope 2012 is full of happy dreams coming true and many moments of pure joy! Also totally nourishing in an organic way!!!

Now to almonds…

Awaken your inner gorgeousness with sweet milky moments. Simple is one of my favourite words, and this darling recipe is deliciously simple. Apart from a little soaking and some pre prep, the actual mechanics of the recipe are plain sailing.

I met a friend the other day and we were discussing new years resolutions, we spoke of how quickly life changes and considered what we’d like more of in this coming year. We agreed how refreshing it is to be in the company of those without an agenda and how natural this is for children. With all the complexities of modern living, in a world that is often tumultuous, making milk, of a nutty kind is as agenda free as laughing at a funny joke. Release judgement and cherish freshness, this drink is a tonic, perfect for nursing mothers and anyone who’d like a brain boost, pretty peachy skin is a happy result too, though more pleasing than anything is its subtle marzipan taste in a light milky form that is truly unforgettable.
Almond milk is a great addition to smoothies, lovely in soups, splashed over cereal and as a refreshing morning drink. If that wasn’t enough, then here are a few more reasons to go bananas for Almond milk!
  •  Boosts energy.
  • Great in pregnancy as it contains folic acid.
  • Helps curb hunger, the mono-saturated fat it contains satisfies appetite, thus helping to reduce over-eating (also found in olive oil and salmon)
  • They have a low GI and help decrease rises in blood sugar after meal, so bye bye to flat drowsy feelings after eating.
  • Great for heart health, they lower cholesterol.
  • May help prevent the development of diabetes.

So if the festive season has left you feeling in need of a good cleanse, drinking almond milk is a wonderful way to welcome feeling good in 2012!

Huge winter warming hugs,

FFX

Almond Milk

Organic raw almonds, 1 cup
Water, for soaking
Water, 800ml (roughly 3 cups)
Dates, 2 de-stoned
Vanilla extract ½ tsp

SOAK almonds over night in a cup of water covered with cling film.
RINSE almonds in a sieve under cold running water.
BLEND almonds with water and dates until silky smooth.
STRAIN through a muslin/ cheese cloth into a jug or glass bottle.
SQUEEZE out every last drop.
KEEP in the fridge and use within 4 days.

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