Cauliflower & truffle pureé

Posted in: S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

It’s almost wrong how faff-free yet tasty this is. I’m not sure there’s an easier tap dancing addition to the Christmas feast; the perfect last minute option for those who err towards party participation over planning. And for the complex carb fascists and paleo people out there, you can still have your mash and eat it.

Cauliflower-&-truffle-puree

Feeds 4 – 6

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cauliflower, steamed.
1/2 cup milk of your choice – cow’s, coconut, soya. Or water from steaming.
3 tbsp olive oil
25g (good) Grana Padano or parmesan
1 dsp / drizzle white truffle oil
Pinch sea or Himalayan pink salt and black pepper

METHOD

Steam cauliflower for 10 mins, or until soft but retaining a bite. Puree all ingredients until super smooth with a blender or Vitamix. Re-heat when you’re ready to eat.

That’s it. Happy Christmas!

Tip: 50/50 turnip and cauliflower’s also delicious.

Maple roasted roots with Stilton & walnuts

Posted in: N, S, SF, Uncategorized, V, WF

Loaded with winter goodness, this is a crowd pleaser for carnivore and vegetarian guests alike. Served at room temperature, it has a particularly special place in my heart for allowing me to prep in advance so I can focus my efforts on the perfect mulled wine. I’ve done a mix of veggies here, but you can equally double up on sweet potatoes and drop all other roots. I’ve opted for an orange dressing with stilton and walnuts for a nod to the festive season, but feel free to sub for your favourites.

Maple-roasted-roots

Feeds 6 as side

INGREDIENTS

3 sweet potatoes
4 medium sized carrots
4 beetroot
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric (for anti-bacterial gut health)
Pinch sea or Himalayan pink salt
70g stilton or blue cheese
Fistful / 50g walnuts, lightly dry toasted in a pan or oven – a couple of mins
1 tbsp dried cranberries

Dressing

Juice of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
Himalayan pink or sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp crushed, dried chillies – optional

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 200C. Slice carrots and sweet potatoes lengthways into wedges and beetroot into quarters. Line, skin side down onto a baking tray and roast for approx. 35 mins, gently turning the veg a couple of times throughout. You’re aiming for crispy wedges; soft in the centre with slightly charred edges.

Roast-veg-prep

Set aside the veg to cool slightly – you don’t want them to turn to mush by adding the citrus and olive oil too quickly. Mix the dressing ingredients.

In a large bowl gently combine the dressing with the veg (I use my hands). At this stage, you can set aside in the fridge for the flavours to develop.

When ready to eat / prep, transfer veg to a large platter, layering with the cheese, cranberries and nuts. Topping with parsley also adds colour and freshness.

Serve as a main for vegetarians and / or alongside your turkey or meat of choice.

Raw chocolate & Cointreau mousse

Posted in: DF, N, S, SF, Uncategorized

No refined sugar options seem to be the latest health trend consuming the nation, so what to do at Christmas? Super creamy and chocolate rich, this is seriously delicious; your taste buds will feel in no way cheated – I can’t quite stress this enough! Thanks to the lack of nasties and abundance of good stuff (vitamins, minerals, unsat fats etc), it won’t leave you in a food coma or relentlessly scrambling for the Quality Street bucket. It also takes 10 mins to make, tops. Although not obligatory, the addition of Cointreau comes highly recommended.

Raw-chocolate-&-cointreau-mousse

Feeds: 6 – 8

INGREDIENTS

2 avocados
2 tbsp cacao powder
4 tbsp / 100g cashew nuts
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
300ml water
1 tbsp Cointreau or juice and zest of 1/2 orange

METHOD

Blitz all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix until smooth and creamy. Transfer to small glasses or bowls and set aside in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. Beware, it’s pretty rich; chocolate shots are probably the way to go…

Easiest Christmas ever. Ho ho ho.

Happy Christmas & New Year from Cape Town

Posted in: Travel, Uncategorized

Mandela-Christmas

Granted it’s potentially a little late in the day to be dishing out festive goodwill, allow me to explain. This Christmas and New Year were spent much like any other, eating, yet this time with the not insignificant addition of sunshine. The Garcia, Woodroffe, MacGillivray and Spurrier clans united to take over a vast, light flooded Cape Town house made for family cooking and entertaining. The bottom line: I’ve been busy ‘researching’ as opposed to reporting. Here’s what we got up to.

Christmas-Cooks2     Roast-tatties NYE New-Year's-Day

And that was just Christmas and New Year. Here are some other things we did, (inevitably) revolving around food. Cape Town eating is exceptionally good; just about anything is available, ingredients and eating out. Not to mention cheap.

granolaMountainsTable-View

We breakfasted on (and fought over) Almond, orange & cranberry granola. Then climbed and marvelled at mountains, while my sibling surfed and kite surfed his way round the coast.

Townships1   Townships2

We learned the importance of teaching gender equality in townships. And were blown away by the welcome from the kids and their mentors.

The-Dynasty-Shot

We  buzzed on Paranga’s espresso martinis. #yesweusedafilter #80shues

The-Watershed-shopping-&-eating Watershed,-Famke

We shopped in the expertly curated and designed Watershed Market, a mecca of African start up food and craft concepts. Then ate some more. If visiting Cape Town, hover over the images for a list of my Must Do guide; click to be connected to the site:

Fish-&-Chips Hout-Bay-Market The-Vinyard Raw-&-Roxy Healthy-Living Healthy living is pretty much endemic to Cape Town. Raw, vegan and allergy friendly options are standard, even the local (Woolworth’s affiliated) petrol station showcases coconut oil, rice milk and gluten free abundance at the till. A far cry from our Mars and sugar shrines. Given health insurance companies incentivise customers with cash back and 30% off airfares for tick list shopping trolley items and gym memberships, it’s hardly surprising.

Polo

Ostrich

We watched polo from an ostrich farm, where we ate prego rolls (steak sandwich on crack – it’s in the sauce) and ostrich kebabs washed down with sauvignon blanc from one of the player’s vineyards.

We even got engaged! LaPetiteFerme,Franschhoek Eating-&-drinking Nick-and-Sally Not me. Little brother, Nick and the lovely Sally. Who returned to Franschhoek (post sealing the deal), family in toe, on the promise of La Petite Ferme’s painfully good wine and food. It didn’t disappoint.

We’re all now so in love (with Cape Town), we’re plotting emigration, or at the very least, another 2015 trip.

DIY Christmas gifts

Posted in: Uncategorized

In the wake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, here are some DIY foodie gifts you can do from the kitchen, mostly. From homemade Almond, orange & cranberry granola in a super stylish Skandi jar to spicy nuts in a kitsch sugar shaker. Show your love with design led DIY that lasts beyond the Quality Street bucket. And with treats that won’t have you sweating out all of January in the gym.Noel-bull

 

Cranberry & lemon amoretti are a great Christmas failsafe: Festive fare, deliciously indulgent, yet healthy (high protein, low carb, no refined sugar) and so easy an ape could be trusted to make them. You can’t go wrong with Spicy nuts for a New Year’s eve boozy or juicy pairing and Cacao nut energy balls are great for those determined to avoid sugar overload.

Christmas-Gather-&-Gather-bags

Cox-&-Cox

I recently designed the above sweetie bags for Gather & Gather’s extensive cafes and restaurants, but Cox & Cox do an exhaustive supply of ribbons and wrapping to inspire the least creative and most time pressed among us. Something as simple as a ribbon tied jam jar, cellophane or greaseproof looks great and is super easy.

If wrapping paper wrestling’s not your thing, however, or if you need something that really tap dances, here’s my pick of the best buys to house and gift your wholesomely seductive recipes:

 

Sugar-shaker-&-storage-jar

Two containers to fill the fussiest of friends or hosts with glee. Ideal for Spicy nuts or Almond, orange & cranberry granola – the perfect boxing day breakfast.

Airtight and stackable stoneware jars, available in various colours from £32, Skandium.
Rocket St George sugar shaker, £7.50.

 

Skandium-salt-&-spice-grinder

Dr-Pepper

These have to be hands down the most covetable salt and spice grinders I’ve set eyes on. Made for my famous Sesame & rosemary spice.

2 pack grinder £45, Skandium. Sergeant Pepper grinder (£15) and oven gloves (£22), Rocket St George.

 

The recipes I’ve picked are my cupboard staples, tested and reviewed by friends, cafes and yogis to the point I deem them worthy of festive feasting and giving. In fact, I’m spending Christmas in the sun (sorry, no gloating or smugness intended) and have been primed that all of the above are to form part of our Cape Town kitchen menu. I’ll share more tips for Christmas indulgence that won’t bust a bikini here, including next week’s, Spiced orange & cranberry granola.

Recipes from this post

Cranberry & lemon amoretti
Spicy nuts
Choco nut energy balls
Sesame & rosemary spice
Almond, orange & cranberry granola

For more ideas my past posts still stand: The gift guide top 5 and Please santa…

 

The Anti-diet

Posted in: Featured, Uncategorized

Sitting here, slurping my liquid lunch (of the soup variety) I wonder, could UK eating habits be considered mildly schizophrenic? With Santa duties and gorging out the way, we Brits need a new goal it would seem. Cue: Beach booty / Alcohol is the enemy / My body is a temple and nothing but raw veggies hand picked by virgin nuns will pass my lips.

Christmas G&Ts with straws

We women (and I apologise in advance for the red rag to a bull sweeping generalisation) are largely programed to derive more than a healthy dose of sense of self from our appearance and percentage body fat. I don’t do diets, yet I’m off solids in a desperate attempt to shed Mince Pie Top. I split my leggings at Christmas. Case rests. On confessing my cognitive disposition, several male friends bravely admitted to feeling my pain, so it’s no longer just us dollies, sadly.

Writing this blog and working in food, I’m often asked for the wholesomely seductive Holy Grail. For me, food is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I pick holiday destinations and social events based almost entirely on the street eats I’ll sample and later adapt at home.

Maltby Street Market Cakes

It’s common knowledge that yo-yo dieting does not, in the long term, a slimmer figure make. A zero fat / carb / dairy diet would leave me bereft of joy, not to mention unemployed. And surely abstinence just makes the heart grow fonder, right? However, I also derive a significant amount of happiness from feeling fit and healthy, and squeezing into jeans that would be snug on a fifteen year old ballerina.

As this blog extols, food is fuel; it should not only taste good but do us good. Throughout January and February, I’ll blog my tips for living your life; employing a modicum of consciousness into your daily nourishment; and opting out of chronic and tortuous calorie counting along the way.

I guarantee you’ll feel healthier, have more energy and, should you so desire, lose weight in the process. Unless, unlike me, you’ve somehow seen the light and don’t subscribe to our skinny = success cultural diktat.

 

The Gift Guide Top 5

It’s that time of year again; we’ve hit December and already passed the busiest online shopping day of the year apparently. Well versed in the art of shopping, I thought it only fitting I share my failsafe food inspired gift guide, hopefully taking some trauma out of your Santa duties.

Christmas-gift-tags

 

The coolest cookie cutters

Sunnyside-Eggs

I have a sneeking suspicion the sunshine eggs could be a bit of a faff; maybe one to delegate to your sous chef / spouse / kids. You can always thank them with some Made with Love cookies.

Sunyside eggs £7.95 from Rocket St George and Made with Love cookie stamp £6.00 from Anthropologie.

 

4th Wave Coffee at home

V60-Coffee-Machine

One morning spent researching cafes and sampling espressos with Gather & Gather in house coffee guru, Paul Hallit and I came home with the above (essential) haul. We’re now entering the 4th wave in coffee apparently: Beyond independent cafes and single origin beans, it’s also about the science behind the perfect cup. Anyone who appreciates coffee will thank you for this kit, or simply some decent beans.

V60 coffee makers for single (01) and double cup (02) filter: From £35. You can also buy the V60 on its own to sit directly on your cup: From £20. Multiple options available from Brewed by Hand or Coffee Hit.

Union-&-All-Press-Coffee

Union Hand Roasted for a wide range of single origin beans (best for V60 brewing) as found in Gail’s Artisan Bakery, Harris & Hoole and Gather & Gather. Coffee from Shoreditch roaster All Press is also hard to beat.

 

Seggiano stars

Seggiano-Christmas-gifts

Seggiano. God of taste: flavour and design. Everything from panettone to olive oil, chocolate clementines to raw honey. Packaged so beautifully, wrapping paper wrestling is a thing of the past.

Available from Wholefoods or independent delis. Olive oil: £11.50. Honey: £8.50. Foraged tree: Free from Clapham Common.

 

Compulsory cookbooks

The-Flavour-Thesaurus-&-Ottolenghi,-Jerusalem

Momofuko-Milk-Bar-Cookbook

Two years in and these are still my failsafe classics. For the creative cook keen to go off piste: The masterpiece that is The Flavour Thesaurus. Jerusalem, the latest kitchen handbook by My Favourite Places Godfather, Yotam Ottolenghi is a must that no self respecting food lover should be without.

And for the adventurous: Milk of New York’s Momofuku Milk Bar fame, as recommended by uber chef and Gather & Gather colleague, Dan Rampat. Momofuku means Lucky Peach. Sold!

£10+ from Amazon

 

Spa scents

Diptyque-&-Jo-Malone

Because, as much as I love to cook, there are few kitchen smells I want to curl up on the sofa with. And let’s face it, smelling of Eau de Honey Roast Ham outside the kitchen is  offensive. End of.

Diptyque Baies and Jo Malone Grapefruit are clean classics guaranteed to win over the fussiest of recipients. At £40 neither candle comes cheap but the quality is second to none: dripping in perfume oils = stronger and longer lasting spa scents. RK Ridings does a huge selection of similar diffusers and candles at 1/3 of the price.

Space NK stock most of Diptyque’s range. Their online and customer service is super efficient and given their giant selection of Christmas gift ideas, this is a no brainer for filling your Santa sleigh. Jo Malone and RK Ridings stock direct.

 

Christmas mugs

Gold-trim-mugs,-Christmas

ANTA-TARTAN.mugs

ANTA-TARTAN

When all else fails, opt for a mug. 19 carat gold rim mug with horse design (obviously) and coffee cups you can bake in. Genius. In the spirit of giving, I’ve tested festive Orange, almond & chocolate cake in said super mugs.

Designer tartanry brand ANTA also do a range of throws and cushions as cozy as a Christmas jumper. Sign up for Tartan Tuesday (2 for 1 offers) and their Advent Calendar of daily discounts in the run up to Christmas.

Horse mug £20 from Rocket St George; Tartan cups £22 from ANTA.

 

Some more failsafe gift ideas

Best cookery courses: Ginger Pig butchery classRick Stein Seafood SchoolBread Ahead bakery school.

For Little Miss Fussy: Big rocks are in! Try Bex Rox or Aurelie Bidermann. The Outnet also has a wide range of heavily discounted designer jewellery (and clothes).

For kids: Cox & Cox have an inexhaustible selection of games and trinkets for kids of all ages.

For The Friend Who Has Everything: Diageo Brand Store offers a 6 ltr bottle of Ciroc vodka for £250. You can even have your own bespoke swing for a mere fifteen hundred quid.

 

Please Santa…

Posted in: Reviews, Uncategorized

For those of you struck by the realisation that your pathological fear of Oxford street 4 days before Christmas, will do little to fill the gaping hole in your party season sleigh, turn to food. Because even those who have everything need to eat. Given my unfailing dedication to shopping and troffing, not to mention my ‘discerning taste’, I’m sharing my top 3 failsafes. For, if Little Miss Fussy is happy, then surely we’re onto a winner…

Seggiano Honey & Olive oil. Wholesome Seduction

Seggiano. God of taste: flavour and design. Everything from panettone to olive oil; chocolate clementines to honey, packaged so beautifully, wrapping paper wrestling is a thing of the past. Note: Seggiano’s acacia honey is a Storehouse seducer my cupboard is rarely without.

Available from Wholefoods or independent delis. Olive oil: £11.50. Honey: £8.50. Foraged tree: Free from Clapham Common.

 

ChristmasCoolies.WholesomeSeduction

Homemade. With bows on. Wrap brownies, truffles or cookies in greaseproof paper and Christmas ribbon for a Yuletide gift Kirsty Allsopp would be proud of. Add festive spice to chocolate recipes with some chilli or cardamom. Or stuff dates with almonds and dip in chocolate. Aunt Dorris will be overjoyed.

Noel ribbon £8 from Cox & Cox

 

FlavourThesaurus&Ottolenghi, Jerusalem

And last but in no ways least, the masterpiece that is The Flavour Thesaurus, our post from October last year. A staple and I’m sure, a classic no cook or food lover would sniff at. I’ve also added Our Favourite Places Godfather, Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest kitchen handbook that’s equally dedicated to coffee table style.

£10+ from Amazon

 

For those looking for a more extravagant gift, rumour has it Selfridges (and potentially the net…) is doing a Whisky Advent Calendar for a mere 150 quid. Drink your way through the doors to find a sample 50 year old Malt – full size bottle retailing at £350. Because what better Santa induction is there than getting smashed at breakfast…

Ho ho ho…. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

Seasonal Seducer: Cranberry

Posted in: Uncategorized

Most attractive features

Apart from its tart, tanginess? This little powerhouse is packed with anti-oxidant Vit C, so a key immune booster to help stave off winter colds and flu. And lucky for us, it’s not hard to come by: Drink it; make it into a jelly to serve with meat and game; or pop the sweeter, dried version into your cereal.

SeasonalSeducerCranberry

Why we fell in love

Thanks to its anti-bacterial properties, this berry’s most famous for its warrior skills against a certain urinary infection. It’s said that the condensed tannins help prevent bacteria sticking to the urinary tract. There’s now even preliminary evidence to suggest our festive berry may help protect us from stomach ulcers in the same way.

So you see, a cranberry’s not just for Christmas.