Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Good Morning Good Morning Good morning

Shakshouka My favorite indulgence 
It has been reported the best way to eat is  according to the old British idiom, breakfast like a king ( large) lunch like a prince (medium ) dinner like a pauper ( small, light) .
There is no doubt that breakfast is the most important meal of the day; although by many it is often skipped. It has been proven that children who skip breakfast do not do as well at school as those that have a nutritionally balanced start to the day.
When one thinks of a British breakfast one thinks of a heavy fat induced heart attack on a plate British fry up eggs sunny side up, with all the trimmings, even the   kosher version omitting the bacon, and pork sausages   adding kosher chicken sausages, baked beans, fried mushrooms, tomatoes and sliced fried potatoes, followed by toast and orange marmalade is a force to be reckoned with.
In Israel, breakfast is a major social event mainly at the weekends, but the breakfast is served by coffee houses all day; omelet, scrambled or fried eggs, Israeli salad, dips, cheese, bread a hot and cold drink is so gargantuan one often sees two or more people sharing a breakfast,  at lunchtime in a coffee house or restaurant. My favorite Israeli breakfast is Shakshouka, a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin served piping hot…I am really not allowed tomatoes or chili however every two – three months I give in to the craving eat the eggs leave the sauce, and quench my thirst for this unique middle eastern delight.
Breakfast for me has always been savory, eggs, kippers, kedgeree  and smoked haddock, among my favorites; however since my first visit to Baltimore back in the 1990's I discovered and fell in love with the cornbread or breakfast Muffin.

Muffins always intrigued and frightened me as they seemed complex for a breakfast food, most of the early recipes I came across included butter milk & butter, but now I am a firm convert to the breakfast muffin, fresh and just warm from the oven; they really don’t take that long to throw together, and while they are cooking one can be doing other things; or you can even make a batch in advance and keep them in the freezer, take out and defrost as needed.

Breakfast Muffins
This Morning I Made These Banana And Apple Spelt Breakfast Muffins, for a women's learning group that meets next door to my home every Wednesday morning; although I don’t attend as Wednesdays are a full day for me, I have taken on myself to provide a breakfast treat (either vegan cinnamon and honey oatmeal, buckwheat pancakes filled with fruit compote or breakfast muffins.)

 The whole process including preparation and cooking took less than 30 minutes this morning. Apparently they were delicious.

You can alter the recipe and make them gluten free, by using gluten free flour and omitting the oatmeal unless you can get gluten free oatmeal instead of the spelt flour; but today I only had spelt to hand.
The quantity below makes 26-30 muffins depending on size I make smaller ones as the women prefer that.

You Need
2 Cups Spelt or Gluten free flour
1/2 cup organic honey
1 tea spoon non-aluminum baking powder
1/2 cup apple sauce
3 over ripe bananas mashed I keep mine in the freezer to use in smoothies and baking
2 large organic eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon good vanilla essence
The zest of a large orange
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup raisins optional
1/2 cup coconut oil melted
1/2 cup   almond or rice milk
3/4 cup organic quick cook oatmeal
1/2 tea spoon sea salt

Pre heat your oven   to 180c 350F Gas mark 4.
Line your muffin tins with paper case. (I do this the night before!)
Put all the ingredients into a large bowl, and mix well by hand for 2-3 minutes, making sure all the banana has mixed in well. You don’t need a machine this is very easy by hand!
Using an ice cream scoop to ensure uniformity of size, scoop one scoop into each paper case.
Place in the oven for 15-18 minutes, remove from the tin and let cool down a little, serve with your favorite beverage.

Ideal for school lunchboxes, for the busy person on the go.. a meal in a muffin not a bad way to start your day!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chili What No Carne? (Vegan Chili)

Still cooking chili in the pot
I have been trying for a long time to perfect a Chili without the meat for my vegetarian and vegan friends, and have finally got there. No meat or meat substitute, no gluten was used in this recipe;  I made yesterday and served it today to 14 very fussy Israeli female  students for lunch;  I  said what is any leftover let me know I can make it into a soup freeze it and you can have it next week…

I will have to make something else next week.

The students declared it tasted like meat, it had the texture of Chili con carne and it hit the spot on a blustery day.
It was served with rice seasoned with bay leaf  and  flax seeds, and a baby leaf and bean sprout salad in a light lemon garlic and honey dressing …a great success .
The whole secret is in the textures and seasoning
So here is my Vegan Chili no carne serve 14 portions.

3/4 kilo mixed dried beans I used a mixture of kidney beans, black eye beans, white kidney beans, black beans, and chick peas, soaked overnight then cooked for an hour until Al dente 
(Yes you can use canned beans but you wont have the texture.)

2 large onions chopped finely
1 leek chopped finely
1 inch fresh ginger grated
6 cloves garlic crushed
1 red chili de-seeded and chopped Finley
3 bay leaves
1 desert spoon paprika
1 desert spoon cumin
1 desert spoon dried coriander
1/2 desert spoon dried cardamom
1 desert spoon organic coco powder
1 table spoon date syrup
1 liter good vegetable stock plus 2 teaspoons marmite
2 table spoon Tomato paste
1 head celery Finley chopped
8 -10 carrots Finley diced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tea spoon hot paprika
2 cups frozen sweet corn
1 cup fresh chopped coriander.
1 table spoon organic sunflower oil
1 can tomatoes or 4 fresh tomatoes chopped
1/2 tea spoon non ionized salt
1 teaspoon rough chopped black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

Heat the oil in a thick bottom pan, add the onion, garlic & ginger, stir, add the leek, and cook off for 2-3 minutes on a medium heat.

Add your aromatics, (carrots, and celery,) cook 4-5 minutes  then add the bay leaf, the chopped chili, and all the dry spices but not the smoked paprika stir in .
Add your tomato paste, tomatoes, coco, and the vegetable stock mix.

Add your cooked beans, date syrup, and salt and pepper,  your smoked paprika  and lemon juice mix well.

Reduce the heat and cook on a low to medium heat till the flavors are absorbed  35-40 minutes stirring occasionally.

Now add your sweet corn and fresh coriander, cook for a further ten minutes.

At this stage turn off and let the flavors come through.

 I always make chili the day before I am going to eat it. 
So this was made yesterday then reheated over a very low flame for 30 minutes.

The chili had a delicate barbecue flavor as if it had been cooked over an open fire , the celery added a bite and the black beans and coco give  a meaty flavor.
I made enough for 14-16 and twelve students devoured it very quickly…
You could serve this with guacamole and taco shells for a complete meal. Enjoy a vegan Mexican treat! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Is It A Sheppard's Or A Cottage Pie? That Is The Question!

We all have family favorites and comfort foods; one of my all-time favorites is Sheppard's/ Cottage pie. This takes me back to my childhood; it is easily digestible and warming from the inside out.
Actually traditionally Sheppard's pie is made using minced lamb, and cottage pie typically was made with a crust of mashed potato at the bottom, the layer of minced beef in between and a layer of mashed potato on top. It was the dish of rural farmers in Britain first recorded in 1791 when potatoes were considered edible crop.

In my childhood there were many different varieties of this quintessentially British nursery food; my paternal grandmother made it the traditional way with lamb, in thick onion gravy, my maternal grandmother used minced beef, topped with a thick layer of ultra-creamy mashed potatoes. My mother added carrots, and one aunt baked beans to their basic meat mixture,  while another aunt would top the mashed potato with grated cheddar cheese and crushed potato crisps for that extra fat and calorie value! Looking back I can't say whose version I preferred but as this is nearest to my mother's I guess with hindsite that speaks volumes.

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that there almost as many versions of Sheppard's pie as people making it and it boils down to personal choice. Last week my friend presented me with Sheppard's pie with a mashed cauliflower topping It was really wonderful especially for those watching their carb intake.


4-6 people   You need
3/4 of a kilo (750 grams) good quality Minced beef
1 leek cleaned and chopped finely
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 bay leaves
3 carrots peeled and diced
2 stalks celery peeled and diced
1 tea spoon cacao
1 large onion chopped finely
1 dessert spoon organic   sugar free tomato ketchup
1 pint of good stock, preferably chicken of beef, or vegetable with a teaspoon of marmite
1 teaspoon thyme leaves (dried)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Non ionized sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh  ground black pepper.
1 teaspoon coconut oil melted.

Heat the coconut oil in a thick bottom pot, and add the onion and garlic, then the carrots leeks and celery, bay leaf place a lid on the pot cook on a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes so all the aromatic flavors come through.
Add the meat, thyme and mix well, cook on a low heat till the meat is browned, then add your cacao and cinnamon these both bring out the flavor of the beef. 
Add your stock, and your organic   tomato ketchup or paste season to taste. Reduce to a low heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes, 30 with the lid and the last 10 minutes without to reduce the stock down.

For the topping you need.
2 kilos sweet potato
1 large red skin potato
1/4 cup almond or Coconut milk its best with coconut milk
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Freshly ground black pepper  sea salt to taste.
Peel and chop all the potatoes, place them in a large pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes till soft,
Drain all the water, season well, add the coconut oil and mash well, then add the coconut milk to the potato mixture and mix.
Set aside to cool,
At this stage you can assemble the pie or wait till both the meat and the potato mixture have cooled a bit to make for easier to handle.

To Assemble The Cottage/ Sheppard's Pie.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5

Choose your dish wisely.. I use a deep Pyrex, so that one can see the division of the pie at the table, but my mother use to use a deep oval metal pie dish…I just know that once a family adopts a certain recipe and dish it becomes the family favorite.
Your meat mixture should be juicy but not runny, ( and certainly not dry) so you can take off any excess fluid and set it aside to serve as gravy .
Place the meat mixture in the dish spread evenly.
Top with the sweet potato making sure you spread the potatoes to the very edge therefore sealing in all the meat juices.
Take a fork and ruffle the top.
Ruffle the top  with a  fork to create peaks

(At this stage you can freeze the pie up to a month,  defrost totally  then continue  as below.)

Bake for 25-30 minutes till the top goes golden and the meat mixture is bubbling at the edges.
I always let mine stand for 5-6 minutes before serving so the layers settle.

Serve on its own, or with a variety of vegetables. (I like cauliflower cabbage or swede!)

I am a real lover of Shepherds /Cottage pie, the name is of no importance to me; one bite takes me back to winter suppers of my childhood, there is no right or wrong way to make it, but I hope you enjoy my simple version that I guarantee will warm you up from within while enveloping you in a feeling of tranquility and comfort of times gone by.   

Sunday, January 5, 2014

May I Mention Mayonnaise?

I have a problem, I am a foodie with a weight issue: I really enjoy certain textures and flavors and have a body that craves   chocolate  sugar  & carbs; I was and possibly still am  a mayo maiden, loving the silky texture and flavor of mayonnaise…
Over the years I have body imposed dietary restrictions so the list of what I can't eat is longer that what I can, I don’t eat wheat, but can manage rice, I am totally dairy free, and under my daughter in laws advice (a board certified holistic health coach,) cut right back on soya, sugars, and certain raw vegetables that can create an unhealthy reaction for people with thyroid related problems. (More about that later)

One of the things I miss most is mayonnaise, I don’t eat raw eggs , so homemade went out the window years ago, and Helmans my preferred brand is certainly not in the healthy bracket so I have set about producing an alternative version that works. After trial and error the "nonmayomayo dressing" as I call it below actually satisfies on of my cravings.
We eat to give our bodies' fuel and nutrition, we also eat for pleasure, healthy has had the reputation for being unpalatable, but we are getting use to the idea that healthy food can taste good too.
Here is a recipe for my healthy

"Paelo friendly Slaw"  with "nonmayomayo dressing"

I small white cabbage shredded
2 carrots grated
8 celery leaves very finely chopped
1 red pepper finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
3 cucumbers peeled & finely chopped
1 small red onion finely chopped
A hand full of seeds.
Place all the Vegetables in a bowl and mix well add   1 cup of "nonmayomayo dressing" .stair adjust seasoning to taste and serve. Wonderful with cold meats, baked sweet potato, omelets

1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup cashew nuts
1/2 tea spoon mustard
1/2 tea spoon non ionized sea salt
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped chives or parsley or green onions
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon.
1 table spoon mineral water
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend well. You can keep in a screw top jar in the fridge for a few days, shake well and adjust the salt and pepper before use.

Enjoy this dressing I hope it satisfies your cravings the way it works for me.
Have a wonderful day.

To Paleo or not to Paleo that is the Question?

Its a new Gregorian  year, and that is a time when we all make resolutions to clean up our lives in one way or another  smokers try to give up smoking , drinkers try and cut back, and those of us with weight problems examine our eating habits.

I have many food restrictions and health issues. For many years I have followed a gluten and dairy free diet, but with recent research I have come to the conclusion that I should give the Paleo  eating  a whirl at lest for a couple of months to see if my breathing, heart, thyroid,  auto immune system and digestive system work better, after all what have I got to lose?
I have seen with my own eyes the amazing results of this way of eating and thing it must be the way forward for me.

According to Wikipedia  the definition of the Paleo
The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman dietStone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet.

The eating plan suggest  one eats  good vegetables, fruits , nuts seeds, meat, fish  eggs and some fats, 
giving up gluten, grains , legumes, dairy beans, soy, dairy, certain vegetable oils, and refined sugar.
As I am a creative cook, and I really don't eat many things that are excluded on Paleo the odds are in my favor.

So here are three  recipes for the next couple of days that I have invented and would like to share with you... 

Coconut Turkey  serve 4-6

1 kilo  red turkey meat
the juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tea spoon non ionized sea salt 
1/2 tea spoon  organic black pepper
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup freshly chopped coriander
1 red onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic 
1 tea spoon  cumin
I teaspoon dried coriander 

take all the ingredients and marinate the turkey in everything, leave to marinate at least 3 hours its better over night, place in a pot on top of the stove for 90 minutes on a low light.
serve with as many vegetables as you like and sweet potato mash.


 Half a cup of organic pumpkin pureed 
 2 tablespoons almond milk
 2 eggs
 1 teaspoon Raw Honey syrup
 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
 2 tablespoons coconut flour
 1/2 teaspoon Non-Aluminum baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon non ionized sea  salt
 1/2 cup almond meal
 1 tea spoon ground cinnamon,
 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger,
  2 teaspoons coco nut oil,

 In a bowl mix   all the ingredients except the coconut oil, leave the mixture to rest about 10 minutes.
Heat the coconut oil in a pan; add   1/4 a cup of the pancake mixture at a time  cook on one side  or until you can see it is cooked  for two or three minutes then  flip over.

Serve with fresh fruit or organic. apple puree

 Oven Baked Paleo Fish and Chips serve 4

4 portions of good white fish, cod is my favorite
juice of 1/4 lemon
black pepper and non ionized sea salt
4 sweet potatoes  peeled and cut into wedges.
1 table spoon coconut oil

Batter made with
1 cup coconut or almond flour
1/2 cup almond milk
1 egg
non ionized sea salt and black pepper to taste.
2 tablespoons iced mineral water
1 teaspoon non aluminum baking powder
1/4 spoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup chopped parsley 
1 teaspoon coconut oil melted  

place all the ingredients for the batter in to a bowl and mix or a food processor and blend  
Mix the batter well and place in the fridge for half an hour .

Set your oven to 180 C  350 F gas mark 4-5

Place the sweet potato wedges  on a baking tray , season well and dot the coconut oil over them. place in the oven to cook these should take 40 minutes.

Coat you fish in the batter mix.
Place on a baking tray
bake in the same oven for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.

Serve with a green salad. 

Wish me luck with my new eating plan I am off to make a green omelet and grated zucchini salad for dinner!   



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Let them Eat Healthy Cake,

When I was a child I rarely ate cake as my family considered it too, however I remember that family gatherings were an excuse for the best baking to be on show. I have in my time had an off on relationship with baking. At one stage in my life I use to make cakes to sell, every Tuesday morning In Sutton Market, I would arrive on foot at 6.30 am  with two supermarket trolleys loaded with baked goods , and by 10.30 am I was always sold out.
I mainly made Apple pies, Quiches, Barmbrack, Bake well tarts , Victoria sponges, scones and flapjacks.( UK NOT USA British Flapjacks photo above are an oat basted cookie opposed to a pancake.)
I am more a cook than a baker, not being mathematical all the precise measurements needed for good baking skills   are not my forte, but recently I have converted some unhealthy   recipes into healthier gluten free or low gluten varieties invested in some silicone cake pans, and with my trusty measuring cup producing some delicious fool proof results, which   never last very long (a good sign!) 

One Bowl Chocolate Peanut cake excellent for Birthday cake.
1 cup honey
2 cups spelt flour
1 cup unsweetened organic cacao powder
2 tea spoons non-aluminum   baking powder
1 teaspoon organic sea salt
2 Free range eggs large
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup boiling water
1 cup organic choc hips (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a   deep nine inch round pan
In a large bowl mix everything except the boiling water; use a mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. When the mixture is smooth add the boiling water and mix again for 60 seconds.
Put into the baking tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, test with a tooth pick if its clean it's done.
To decorate for a birthday I use 1 a bar good quality organic bitter chocolate like holy cacao, and 2 table spoons organic peanut butter melted together then mixed till smooth, poor over the cake while the frosting is still warm, smooth and leave to set about 10 minutes.
This cake is better the 2nd day but normally is none left by then!

Almond and Orange cake Gluten free.

   3 cups almond flour
 3   large eggs
1/2  cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil at room temperature –
1 table spoon orange zest
2  tsp baking powder
  Pinch of salt

Heat oven to 350°F 175 degrees. Line and grease you cake tin
 Put eggs, honey, coconut oil and orange zest in a bowl and mix well. Now mix then add the dry ingredient mix to this bowl. Mix well and make smooth batter.

Put the batter in the greased pan and bake for 30-45 minutes until top is golden brown. Insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake and make sure it comes out clean.
Let it cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

Cashew nut frosting

 1cup raw cashews – soaked in hot water for an hour, drained.
1./4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
 1/4 .cup honey
1 teaspoon good quality  vanilla

Soak raw cashews in hot water for an hour and drain. Combine orange juice, honey, salt, vanilla and cashews in a food processor to make smooth cream.
When the cake is cool frost it.

 Edwardian Lunch loaf
When I was a child my paternal grandmother use to make a cake she called lunch loaf, she died over 50 years ago, before passing on the recipe over I have tried to reproduce the recipe to no avail when last week I hit on it and as I bit into it all the memories of my grandmothers kitchen came flowing back to me… tears rolled down my cheek as once again I was eating grandmas lunch loaf. This version has the entire flavor but healthier ingredients.

1.1/2 cup organic spelt flour
1/2 cup coconut oil
1   teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon all spice
3 table spoons   almond or oat milk
1/2 cup organic honey
1 cup mixed sultanas and raisins
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of organic   demerara sugar.

Pre heat your oven to 180 C / 160 C fan / Gas 4
Line a 2lb loaf tin with paper, and grease it.
Take half the cinnamon and the demerara sugar and mix it and set aside.

Rub the coconut oil into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs you can do this in a food processor,
Add honey and dried fruit and the spices, mix well by hand,
Add eggs and almond milk to make a soft dropping consistency.
Place in the cake tin, liberally sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top this will create a crunchy topping.
Bake for   1 to 1 1/4 hours   test with a toothpick  if clean it is done.
Let cool in the tin.

Store in an airtight tin, this cake tastes better after 24 hour as it matures. Or wrap well and freeze this cake freezes well.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A taste of Anglo India Mulligatawny Soup ! One for you Daniella!

  Mulligatawny Soup 4 servings

As a child growing up in the UK brown Windsor and Mulligatawny soup were very much part of my culinary experiences. This morning I woke up craving Mulligatawny soup . I am not sure why, as I haven’t had any for at least 25 years !
But this spice scented soup is simple to make and you adapt it to be vegetarian or vegan.
I made mine with a chicken stock today because I had some in the freezer.
 The smell when cooking gently wafted me back the earliest memories of my  culinary adventures  in my  childhood .
You need.
1/2 table spoon coconut oil
2 onions finely chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 inch ginger peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon each of Good quality dried  curry powder, cumin, and coriander
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt and  fresh ground black pepper

2 potatoes peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato peeled and chopped
2 carrots peeled and chopped
1 zucchini peeled and chopped
1 liter good stock
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cups coconut or almond milk.
1/2 cup freshly chopped corridor.
1 cup split red lentils  rinsed

Heat the oil in the pan, add the onion garlic & ginger stir and add the spices to cook off stirring.  Then add the vegetables, lentils  and stir in the flavors. Add half the coriander
Add the stock, lemon juice  and water to cover the lentils and vegetables.
Cook for 30 minutes, then blend when cool, add the coconut milk, taste & adjust the seasoning  and slowly reheat stirring.  Sprinkle the remaining coriander on top and serve.

I know my daughter in law would adore this soup ! So this is for you Daniella !