White Asparagus and Morels with Goats Cheese Custard

Recipe of the Week

Seasonal Produce: White Asparagus & Morels

I was wondering how I could make the most of buying some beautiful fresh produce in France, and stumbled across this lovely recipe by James Sommerin. These fresh produce don’t need much dressing up, they stand tall all on their own, and this recipe gives the ingredients the respect that they deserve.

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A Dal A Day…

Recipe of the Week

Seasonal Produce: Various!

IMG_0488.jpgLast week was British Dal Festival, and so I set myself the challenge of cooking ‘a dal a day’. I have to say that I’ve never been overly passionate about dal – I like them, but they’re not the first thing that I think about cooking when I get home, so I thought I’d challenge myself to try and cook a variety of different days.

What I really liked was how simple and cheap most of the dals were to cook, and they made a great alternative to my usual lunch options (turns out each dal made so much my freezer is now full too!).

All of the recipes that I chose were taken from the British Dal Festival website who has a collection sent in my various chefs. I won’t list out all of the recipes – but take it from me, they’re lovely!

A particular favourite was the Punj Rattani Dal, described as a ‘Dal of Five Jewels’, the flavours were just lovely!

A great option for lunch was the Squash, Coconut and Lentil Soup (I opted for squash as opposed to pumpkin). The lemongrass made this a really nice and somewhat refreshing soup which went beautifully with a few chapattis.

Anyway, that’s me dal’d out for a few weeks – but I’d definitely recommend trying a few – they’re very versatile and of course a great accompaniment to an Indian feast!

 

Sea Bass en Papillote

Recipe of the Week

Seasonal Produce: Fennel

I really love fresh fish, and the lemon with the fennel and sea bass make this a fantastic and yet really easy supper choice. It’s also a great way to wow your guests at a dinner party, with fairly little work and can be prepared in advance meaning you have all the more opportunity to natter away.

The fennel adds an exciting depth of flavours but can sometimes be slightly undercooked with this method. You still want a slight crunch- but make sure you finely slice the fennel before putting it in as this will allow it to cook fully.

En papillote translates in English to ‘in paper’ and is the method of cooking something wrapped up in paper. Baking parchment or foil work perfectly. Wrapping the food up into a parcel allows it to steam in its own flavours which creates a very delicate but intense flavour whilst gently cooking the meat or fish.

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IN SEASON: MARCH

WOAH: this year is really going quickly! Finally in March, and according to the Met Office – that really bad snow we had last week…..that was the start of Spring. And what an intro to Spring that was.

I’m going to adhere to the ‘astronomical method’ which states that Spring 2018 starts on 20th March and continues until 21st June. Simple reason being that I can’t let the snow we had last week be the start of Spring!! Continue reading

Unprocessed: The ‘Rules’

As I walked in to work this morning I re-listened to The Food Programme’s podcast from 16th October 2017 called ‘How We Eat: Eating By The Rules’. The concept of strict rules has always been one that I’ve disagreed with simply because if someone says you can’t have something – you’ll only want it more.

However, listening again to the podcast has actually made me realise that some people need rules, and that by having rules to adhere to – they can actually start to enjoy food more. It seems a bit contradictory that the creation of rules actually liberates people, but consider this; by following the rules, people can eat a little more guilt-free.

That concept to me, makes total sense. In the absence of any guidelines – be it financially, in work or in food – it’s easy to spiral out of control. I found this last year at work, where I increasingly found myself working 11-12 hour days in the office before crawling into my bed only to do the same the next day. A new year resolution of realising there is more to life then just work has seen me reduce my working day to 9 hours, making sure I take a lunch break and reclaiming evenings for ME.

Similarly with eating – with a bit of preparation, eating unprocessed means I regularly treat myself to a flapjack or chocolate cookie – with the luxury of knowing exactly what has gone in to it and therefore being confident that I’m filling my body with nutritious food and not lots of preservatives. I’m trying to be very careful not to use the words ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ as I don’t think what we eat falls simply into these two categories – and there are large degrees of variance – such as I suppose a fresh piece of Brie from your local deli could be considered processed – but to a much lesser degree (in my opinion) to say a McDonald’s burger. Gosh, I never thought that brand would feature on this blog!

Thinking about it now, perhaps it’s the word ‘rules’ that I struggle with – it takes me back to being in the playground at school. Swapping the word for something a bit softer such as guidelines or tips sits a bit better with me.

In the absence of any guidelines, we’re in danger of eating things with very little nutrition – so in essence it’s about education, preparation and a degree of discipline. But – it’s also about realising that we are all human, and if you really crave something, then as long as it’s proportionate – just have it! But – make sure you enjoy it! Dare I say it (speaking from experience) you probably actually won’t end up enjoying it quite as much as you thought you would – which plays back into the idea of following the rules to guilt-free eating…but you’ll only learn this by trial and error, so go for it!

Eating unprocessed is not about watching the calories but instead about watching the type of food you eat. Going back to basics and knowing what you’re putting in your body.

I would generally consider myself as someone that has always eaten fairly healthily, saves as for a very sweet tooth for pick ‘n’ mix (I don’t think you can get much more processed than that, and sadly I’m yet to find a suitable substitute!). However, when I started looking at the packets of food I was eating, I was shocked to realise the extent of processed foods. I’d expected it from most crisps and all sweets – but didn’t expect it quite as much from ‘natural’ cereal bars and organic flavoured yoghurt.

Guidelines for Eating Unprocessed

  1. The Kitchen Rule – if you can reasonably make it at home in your kitchen, then it’s good to go
  2. Ingredients – what Does It Say? – have a look at the ingredients, if you don’t recognise one of them as a whole food, put the packet back down and walk away
  3. Go Organic – I was surprised by this initially as there is so much information on do or don’t go organic – but organic produce is grown without pesticides, fertilisers etc
  4. Preparation is key – make it easy on yourself when preparing lunches and breakfasts so you’re not stuck in the supermarket wading through the ingredients on the back of every sandwich in Sainsburys at lunchtime
  5. Eat Seasonal – less preservatives and air miles = a happier fruit or vegetable, oh and planet!

In a time where we’re constantly striving for perfection, the last thing that we need to do is put even more pressure on ourselves to be something that we’re not – and so creating rule after rule will surely only make us go stir-crazy….but the allure of some simple guidelines that allow us to live (and of course eat) guilt-free and to just be ourselves – now that I can understand….

Turmeric Chicken Adobo

Recipe of the Week

Seasonal Produce: Fresh Turmeric, Cauliflower, Squash

I bought a fennel on Friday and planned to cook ‘sea bass en papillote’, but due to the snowy conditions, I struggled to get some fresh whole sea bass. So, that’s the recipe for next week sorted!

So, I’ve opted to cook a warming Filipino curry, an adobo. The word ‘adobo’ is derived from the Spanish word meaning ‘marinade’ and the key ingredient for an authentic Filipino chicken adobo is vinegar. It’s been a traditional dish since the Philippines were colonised by Spain in the late 1500’s. History lesson over – back to the cooking!

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