Roasted Fennel and Lemon Pasta

Friday, 29 March 2013

This week has been a little challenging thanks to an old back injury deciding now was the time to rear its ugly head.  I’m more than ready for the long weekend.  I don’t have anything Easter related for you but I thought I’d share my current favourite lunch along with a few links to some favourite things around the internet just in case you are at a loose end... I’m sure you aren’t. 
I’ve been eating this a lot the last couple of weeks. It feels like an antidote to winter which is still hanging around like a guest who has long overstayed their welcome. The pasta is full of fresh spring flavours from the fennel and the bright lemon zest. I threw in some cavalo nero because I can’t help myself but you can leave this out. Crunch comes from toasted flaked almonds. I think pine nuts would be lovely too. If you like your flavours a little stronger then a roasted garlic clove mixed in before serving might also work well. Take what works for you and mix it up.
Roasted Fennel and Lemon Pasta (with a bit of kale thrown in just because).
Serves 2
1 large fennel bulb chopped in to bite size pieces and fronds removed.
175g (6oz) Gluten free pasta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more to serve
½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Zest of ½ lemon
Hard goat cheese or other well flavoured cheese
Toasted flaked almonds
Handful of cavalo nero finely chopped. (optional)
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7, 220°C, 425°F
On a baking tray toss the fennel and olive oil and roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the fennel is nicely roasted.  Meanwhile cook your gluten free pasta according to the pack instructions.  Just before everything is ready add the chopped kale to the fennel tray and continue to bake for about 2 minutes until the kale is just wilted.  When the pasta is ready drain, rinse and toss in a drizzle of olive oil.  Return it to the pan.  Add the fennel and kale followed by the thyme, grated lemon zest and plenty of grated cheese.  Finally add a little hot water to loosen the mixture and give a creamier consistency.  Toss everything together and serve with the toasted almond flakes and extra cheese if desired.
Things I have been loving lately:
These photos for their warmth
And these are beautiful.
What I’m listening to and hoping for.
What I’m reading (in my head his voice is from this film).
Fascinated by the routines of writers via elephantine
This is a great series.
I want to make this gluten free.
Breakfast inspiration.
Happy Easter x

Something Green aka Witches Brew

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Our garden earlier today...winter is dragging it’s heels. This morning we were all set to make a day trip to the Isle of Wight to visit my Dad for his birthday.  The weather had other ideas.  “The snow won’t go south of London” said the weather forecasters.  I awoke to snow.  I kept hoping it would stop.  We ventured out but a scary twenty minute drive later we had turned our car around and were headed for home.

So what to do with another grey day stuck in doors?  Make soup of course.  I happened upon this recipe when I was searching for something else entirely.  This is a lovely chowder, bright green and so warming.  The peas are flavourful and complemented by the crisp, salty bacon.  It is one of the easiest and quickest soup recipes I’ve made.  If you have a bag of frozen peas languishing in your freezer you have to make this soup.  I also think this would work if you wanted to make it vegan.  The soup was plenty tasty enough even without the addition of the bacon.  I forgot to add the butter at the end and didn’t feel I’d missed out on anything.

It was the perfect antidote to the freezing cold day and very filling too.  The name just makes it all the morning intriguing.  Enjoy!

Recipe here.

Super Green Smoothie

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

This is my favourite smoothie.  If you told me a few years ago that one day I would think drinking kale for breakfast was an enjoyable experience, I would have thought you were mad and I might also have asked you what the heck kale was.  The first time I gave this to my husband, I didn’t mention the kale...probably a wise move.  Don’t be put off by the idea of a green smoothie.  The kale is nicely disguised by the fruit but it also stops the smoothie being overly sweet.  You get all the benefits of eating your greens raw without the taste.  Personally I need to mix my smoothie routine up a bit.  Kale will be out of season soon and I will have to move on.  I fancy trying something with avocado and I’m also intrigued by smoothies with nut butters for a little extra protein.  Watch this space.  It’s worth using a frozen banana as it makes the smoothie ice cold and lovely and thick.  I use frozen berries when fresh are out of season.  If you want to make it vegan just leave out the yoghurt.  Sadly I only get to make breakfast smoothies at the weekend as my neighbour may not appreciate the sound of my blender going at 6am.

Super Green Smoothie (makes one large glass or two small glasses)
1 bunch of kale (I used roughly 3 leaves of cavolo nero) washed and finely sliced with the middle stem removed
1 frozen banana (peel and slice up the banana.  Place it on a plate in your freezer up to an hour or more before you want to use it).
200ml almond milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
1 teaspoon of spirulina (optional)
1 tablespoon yoghurt (optional)
100g or one cup frozen berries
Blend together the kale and almond milk until the kale is reduced to tiny little specs.  Next add the spirulina and frozen banana.  Blend again until well incorporated.  Finally add the yoghurt and frozen berries and blend until smooth.  If you like your smoothie sweeter you can add a teaspoon of honey.

Blueberry Scones

Saturday, 16 March 2013

When the weather is this grim I think scones are in order.  They are the perfect embodiment of summer days with thoughts of cream teas but also have the advantage of being great comfort food on a blustery cold day.  Today is definitely a day for staying in and baking.  I know spring is supposedly out there somewhere but with the snow earlier in the week and now the downpours of heavy rain I’m having a hard time believing it. 

The scones are buttery and light just as a scone should be.  They can be whipped up in a few minutes and only take 10-15 minutes to bake.  You can pretty much be eating a scone within half an hour if you are quick.  This is a versatile recipe which I’ve blogged about before using dried fruit in the scones.  This time I used less xanthan gum which I’m never convinced is necessary in baking.  Next time I make these I will try leaving it out altogether.  I made these with frozen blueberries which I thawed before mixing in.  Because they were frozen the berries left lovely streaks of colour through the scones.  Serve warm with butter and jam or eat them as they are.
Slightly adapted from Healthy Gluten Free Eating by Darina Allen and Rosemary Kearney
275g/10oz brown rice flour
50g /2oz tapioca flour
4 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons organic golden caster sugar
110g/4oz butter diced
110g/4oz blueberries fresh or frozen (I used frozen berries which I thawed first).
2 eggs
175ml/6fl oz natural yoghurt (I used sheep milk yoghurt)
Egg wash
Preheat the oven to gas mark 9, 250°C
Sift the dry ingredients in to a large bowl and mix well. Add the butter and rub in to the flour to form breadcrumbs.  Gently fold in the blueberries.  In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and yoghurt until well combined. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the egg and yoghurt mixture.  Combine to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough out on to a rice floured surface and knead gently. Shape the dough in to a round and roll out to about 2.5cm thick. Using a 5cm cutter stamp out the scones and place them on a rice floured baking sheet. Brush with egg wash.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown on top. Move the scones to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 15 to 18 scones.

17 years

Saturday, 9 March 2013

I made Sarah B’s Life Changing Loaf from My New Roots.  It’s been all over the internet in food blog land and I’m not surprised.  It’s one of those rare things that comes along and you just know you have to give it a try.  The ingredients may seem a little obscure or hard to come by.  I actually had them all in my cupboards but I know that they are not your everyday items.  Health foods can be pricey but then things that are good for you seem to come with an expensive price tag which has always seemed back to front to me.  We are lucky enough to have a good health food store near us where such items are available. 
I’m not going to say much more about the loaf.  I think you should read Sarah B’s post.  I enjoyed the loaf very much.  Toasting it makes the best of the nuts and seeds and brings out that lovely aroma giving the bread a nice crunch.  Be prepared for the odd seeds to get stuck in your teeth or maybe that’s just me.  Speaking of life changing events, yesterday was 17 years since my first date with my husband.  Who knew that the boy who saved my seat each week in our drama class would end up making my life so incredibly happy.  As I recall when he asked me out I choked on my bottle of beer which is always an attractive look.  Since I’m coeliac there’s no beer these days but I’m still more than capable of embarrassing myself in other ways.

Lunch Lethargy

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

I am endlessly frustrated with my lack of imagination when it comes to my work lunches.  I leave the house for work at 6.30am and I tend to throw together a sandwich while I’m cooking my porridge.  This usually ends up being almond butter on gluten free bread.  It’s fast and easy to make, I don’t have to worry about storage and I can eat it easily while chained to my desk.  It’s not the healthiest sandwich in the world but it’s not the worst either.  A couple of days a week I’ll try to bring a salad instead and I’m definitely better at this in summer but otherwise the sandwich rules.  At weekends I can be just as bad, reaching for the gluten free bread and making toast with guess what...almond butter.  I know, I must be stopped!  Most weekends though, I try to make an effort to get away from bready things and make myself a decent and nutritious lunch to make up for my weekday lunch making lethargy.

This is a random lunch I threw together last weekend from ingredients I had at home.  I had a red cabbage and wanted to try roasting it so I decided a rice salad would fit the bill perfectly.  I mixed it with fennel as I liked the neutral colour to balance out that vibrant purple from the cabbage.  Both the cabbage and fennel were delicious when nicely roasted and slightly caramelised.  I threw in some of my old favourites, goat cheese, toasted nuts and dried cherries.  The tang of the goat cheese really kicks the flavour up a level.  Any combination of nuts and dried fruit would work.  As for a dressing, I simply used extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and honey but feel free to make something a little more adventurous.  It’s really a matter of taste and experimentation. 

Red Cabbage and Fennel Rice
Serves 2
75g brown rice
Extra virgin olive oil
½ red cabbage shredded or about a cup
1 fennel bulb finely sliced
Handful toasted walnuts
Handful of dried cherries
Zest ½ lemon.
Goat cheese or feta cheese
Juice half a lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon honey
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the rice according to pack instructions. Mine took 35 minutes. Once cooked drain and rinse.
While the rice is cooking combine the olive oil, fennel and cabbage in a large baking tray.  Roast for 20 – 30 minutes checking to turn the veg half way through until beginning to brown. When the vegetables are nearly ready add the toasted nuts and cherries and return to the oven for the final five minutes until the cherries are plump.
When everything is ready add the cooked rice to the baking tray and toss with the vegetables, then mix in the lemon zest. Serve on plates topped with crumbled goats cheese and a drizzle of dressing.  To make the dressing combine the ingredients in a small bowl or jar.  Adjust according to taste.

Pink Grapefruit Muffins

Saturday, 2 March 2013

So what do you make when you accidently get some free pink grapefruit?  You make muffins obviously.  These muffins are my answer for those of us who fail to see grapefruit for breakfast as a viable option.  I know it’s healthy and I’m obsessed with healthy but I just never feel I want to eat a grapefruit when there are so many other tasty things to have for breakfast.  Maybe this will change one of these days, but for now, I’ll take my breakfast grapefruit disguised in a muffin.  It’s a pretty healthy muffin so really I win. 

This is another adaption of Heidi Swanson’s lemon millet muffins from her wonderful book Super Natural Every Day.  Although the original recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour I’ve adapted them to be gluten free and I’ve made these with banana thrown in many times.  Here I simply subbed the lemon for pink grapefruit.  I loved how well the grapefruit infused the muffins, giving them a gentle kick of citrus.  Full of healthy ingredients, the raw millet lends texture and crunch to the muffins.  They are sweetened with honey and the natural yoghurt will give your stomach a nice dose of friendly bacteria.
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
280g (10oz) brown rice flour (I’ve also made them with AP gluten free flour)
60g (2oz) raw millet
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
225g natural yoghurt (I used sheep milk yoghurt)
2 large eggs beaten
120ml unsalted butter slightly melted and cooled
120ml honey
Grated zest of ½ pink grapefruit plus 2 tablespoons pink grapefruit juice.
Preheat the oven Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F.  Butter a 12 cup muffin tin.
In a large bowl mix together the flour, millet, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. In a small bowl or jug mix together the eggs, yoghurt, butter, honey, grapefruit zest and juice until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry until the flour is just incorporated. Spoon the batter in to the muffin pan until all of the mixture is used up. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and beginning to crack on top. Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn the muffins out on to a wire rack to cool completely.