Cranberry & lemon amoretti

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

Thanks to your calls to action post my supper clubs, fitness events and yoga holidays, this superhero stars again. Almost 2 years after I first shared the recipe, it really is a good one. True Wholesome Seduction: a super tasty snack that’s healthy, low carb and protein packed. These mini morsels are even vegan, dairy, gluten and refined sugar free and still somehow taste of un-compromised indulgence. Ideal for pre / post exercise; a (very buff) friend now keeps them at the ready for his relentless triathlon training hunger. Groan! If iron man fitness doesn’t float your boat, they’re perfect with coffee.

Cranberry-&-lemon-amaretti

Makes 10 – 12 amoretti.

INGREDIENTS

200g ground almonds, bought or home made (skin off almonds)
zest of one lemon
20g / 1 tbsp dried cranberries, rough chopped
2 medium egg whites
2 dsp maple syrup, raw honey or agave

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 150C. Mix almonds, lemon zest, almond extract and cranberries and set aside.

Lemon-zest-amaretti

Whisk together egg whites, agave and honey until you get soft peaks. Fold in almond mix. You should have a sticky dough.

Cranberry-amaretti-dough

Break off chunks and roll into pieces slightly smaller than a golf ball. Coat with icing sugar (optional) and place on greaseproof lined baking tray.

Cranberry-&-lemon-amaretti-dough-balls

Bake for 12 – 14 mins until lightly browned on top. With a knife, unstick the bottom and transfer to a cooling rack.

Cool before eating and store in an airtight container.

Coconut iced coffee

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

Apparently The Garcia’s can’t have a conversation without the subject of coffee making an appearance. Bad coffee being the cause of untold dismay, it seems. Iced coffee, however, can redeem many an ‘operator error’, tasting as robust and sweetly creamy as any passionately barista’d flat white. I’ve given measures for one glass but tend to make a batch for the fridge, topping up with coconut milk and ice for my morning wake up addiction. On a recent Indian holiday, I ‘encouraged’ friends at Old Harbour Hotel and Kashi Art Cafe to do the same; Kerala means Land of Coconuts after all. And a new menu fixture was born.

Coconut-iced-coffee

Feeds 1

INGREDIENTS

1-2 shots espresso, depending how strong you like your coffee
1 tsp raw honey – optional
1 cup coconut milk – you can also sub 1/3 for coconut water. Drop the honey if doing this.
Ice

METHOD

Make espresso and stir through honey until dissolved – otherwise it will sink to the bottom of your glass.

Drop in a few cubes of ice and shake or stir until coffee is cooled. Transfer to a glass, top with coconut milk and a couple more cubes of ice.

Rebel-kitchen

Rebel Kitchen have recently launched a take-away version that tastes almost identical, if a little sweeter. Perfect for a dairy and refined sugar-free caffeine kick on the go. I’ve done the chocolate mylk taste test with several friends and none can believe how good it tastes.

After a lifetime of a market saturated with nasty, additive and sugar laden Food-To-Go, it makes me very happy to see entrepreneurial guys like these popping up. Thank you Rebel Kitchen.

 

Travel Pick: Riad Lolita, Tarifa

Worthy of it’s own post, Riad Lolita is one of my favourite Tarifa guesthouses. And I’ve ticked off my fair share of accommodation across multiple visits to Spain’s most southern tip – the mountains in the picture are Africa. My obsession with Tarifa can hardly have gone unnoticed (see Travel Pick: Tarifa, Andalucia). I may even have renovated my own little white washed Tarifa holiday house: La Casita Melo. My penchant for understated luxury may have been hinted at once or twice. Moorish mansion, Riad Lolita is the cherry on the cake. Here’s why:

Tarifa-skyline

Built in 1893 for the town mayor, this shrine to nineteenth century luxury retains the granduar and original features of its past: Marble floors and staircases; Moorish courtyards and tiles that prompted me to scramble for my credit card; and light flooding in from every angle through the seemingly endless windows and patio doors.

Converted from a private home last year (the layout remained the same), Danish interior design goddess Pia sourced most of the furnishings from Morocco. Synonymous with chic Tarifa, Pia oversees the creative direction of Tarifa’s more stylish apartments. A celebration of her paired back Scandi style with the architecture of the casco antiguo (old town).

The really good news? Pia believes that to keep people happy, “you need to give them more than they expect.” So, Riad Lolita is incredibly reasonably priced. Incredibly.

Riad-Lolita,-upstairs-sitting-room

Riad-Lolita,-courtyard

Riad-Lolita,-hallway

The upstairs living room, hallway and Moorish courtyard.

Moroccan suite

Riad Lolita was full when I travelled but Pia very kindly moved things around so I could spend 5 nights in this little beauty. It didn’t disappoint.

Riad-Lolita,-Moroccan-suite

Moroccan-suite,-bedroom2

Riad-Lolita,-Moroccan-suite,-sitting

Moroccan suite 2 has two rooms: living area and a bedroom with further seating area and open plan bathroom. As with the rest of the house, large windows are in abundance; a godsend during hot summer months, though all rooms have AC. Both Moroccan suites have the advantage of their own entrances onto the street; ideal for nipping out for your morning cortado.

Pia sourced most of the furniture from Morocco; the headboard is covered in a rug and the carpet, a design The Rug Company would drool over. Needless to say, I’m now planning a Tangier van haul so I can replicate all of the above in my South West London basement bedroom. Minus the extensive windows, light and sunshine. Humph.

A double room

Riad-Lolita,-South-Room

North and South rooms have an interconnecting door, should you go with a group. The tiles (and 70 euro p/nt price tag) got me in a heartbeat.

The family suite

Riad-Lolita,-Family-room Riad-Lolita,-family-suite

The master bedroom and kids room in the family suite, which comprises of four rooms, to include a living room and bathroom. Rarely are triple rooms this stylish. Take note, long lost travel buddies with babies!

The Penthouse

Riad-Lolita,-Penthouse

The Penthouse kitchen and master bathroom.

With two bathrooms, two bedrooms (or a double bed and sitting room), a kitchen and terrace, this is incredibly good value at 130 euro per night. As with the entire house, design hasn’t been compromised; mosaic tiles, a mix of antique furniture and comfort are in abundance.

The terrace

Riad-Lolita,-terrace

Bang in the centre of el casco antiguo (old town) with views of Morocco. A sangria spit away.

Shared spaces

Riad-Lolita,-kitchen

Riad-Lolita,-shared-living

Riad-Lolita,-courtyard-sitting

With two sitting rooms, a large kitchen, terrace and even chill out hallways, Riad Lolita has ample living space outside of the bedrooms. This is actually quite unusual for Tarifa and  as such, it’s an ideal and very reasonable (500 euros per night for 9 bedrooms / 22 people) option for groups.

For prices and how to book, contact: Riad Lolita or Tarifa Beach House.

For why and when to go: Travel Pick: Tarifa, Andalucia

Reasons to visit Tarifa (other than for Riad Lolita):

Bar-El-Frances-tapas

Valdevaqueros-beach,-Candy-Kites Los-Lances-beach-sunset

I’m yet to meet anyone in Tarifa who either, hasn’t been before, or isn’t already planning their return. It really is a very special place.

Travel Pick: Tarifa, Andalucia

 

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.

 

Eating out: Brixton Village

Posted in: Featured, Reviews

On throwing Brixton Village into the brunch option mix recently, I was met with one or two objections, finally settling on I can only assume, a fear of slashed car tires. This multi-cultural, covered (cue: wet weather socialising) market is home to some of London’s most authentic and interesting restaurants and street eats. Even the Chelsea set now concedes there may be more to Brixton than riot police and KFC with a side of spliff.

Brixton-Village-Header

BrixtonMarketFood

Wandering aimlessly, trying everything on offer is part of the point of street food but as many of us have no doubt discovered, results can be hit or miss. And there’s a limit to how many meals even the most dedicated among us can shove down. So, mindful of my Anti-diet eulogies on portion control, here’s my pick of the best Brixton Village eats.

Brixton-Market-Cafes

Honest-burgers

Meat patties

Bukowski’s burger joint which cut its teeth in Shoreditch’s Box Park: The simple, commercial brainwave of filling disused, prime real estate with a pop up of shipping containers.

And Honest Burgers: patties made with 35-day aged Ginger Pig beef and cased in a brioche bun. Of course. There’s even a wheat and gluten free bun option from neighbour WAG Free bakery.

Star attraction: Topped with smoked bacon, mature cheddar and pickled cucumber, The (£8!) Honest Burger steals the show.

BrixtonMarketShops

Franco-Manca

Ms-Cupcake

Etta’s Seafood Kitchen and ever expanding South London (bloat free) sourdough pizza co. Franco Manca. Ms Cupcake’s vegan Peanut butter & banana muffins are worth a trip south in their own right. There’s definitely room for more peanut butter pudding embracing in the UK. Similarly, while I’m evidently not vegan, the zero animal product clan nails cakes: less sugar, more goo.

Brixton-Mkt-Rosies

Rosie’s Deli Café, social eating hub and testbed for rave review recipes of the Spooning with Rosie cookbook.

Child-Friendly-Brixton-Market

Brixton-Market,Sunday-AM

For the record, our 2 year old companion meant we arrived on the early side; Brixton Village doesn’t wake up before 10.30am at which point, queueing for a table is inevitable. As it turns out, the floor’s clean enough to eat off, should you feel that way inclined.

Brixton-Market-shopping

Other top picks

For Beijing street food try Mama Lan. Plates for a fiver, tried and tested by mama in her supper club and blog.

Kaosarn Thai restaurant which gets Jay Rayner’s seal of approval.

Jerk chicken shop, Take Two Grill, where dishes are still cooked over coals in a kettle drum as opposed to the oven.

LAB G (Laboratoria Artigianale del Buon Gelato. And breathe!). Where I get my post Portofino gelato fix.

When, where & how

Mon-Weds: 10am to 6pm. Thurs-Sat: 10am to 10pm. Sun: 12pm to 5pm
Atlantic Road, Brixton, London SW9.
Closest tube: Brixton.

As with any street market, most places don’t accept cards so be sure to take cash. Food’s so cheap, though, a tenner should just about do it. What you save on lunch, you can put towards re-touching the paint on your car.

Edinburgh Eating: The Lowdown

Posted in: Featured, Reviews

I’m a big Edinburgh fan. Growing up in the Highlands with a large chunk of our relatives effectively defecting to the Lowlands, week-end trips south were a formative part of my childhood. Edinburgh’s not only one of the most beautiful cities architecturally, it’s also hugely inspirational from a food perspective. Independent restaurant concepts have long been embraced here and as a result, you’d be hard pushed to get through my pick of the best fuel stops in two days:

Timbaryard,Edinburgh

Timberyard’s Armani does Ski lodge style compelled me to congratulate the affable and obliging staff within approximately 3 seconds of entering the building.

Timberyard-Tartan

Provenance and the Slow Food philosophy are king so expect Scottish ales and local ingredients; some from Ben (In House Forager); some from the back garden.

Urban Angels

WholesomeSeduction.UrbanAngel

Urban Angel’s chain of Wholesomely Seductive cafés are my breakfast, supper or train journey packed lunch staple.

Top picks: Smoked haddock, poached egg, hollandaise & tattie scone. Cooked to such creamy perfection I’ve since questioned why more cafes don’t feature as an alternative to the ubiquitous Eggs Benedict / Florentine clan…

UrbanAngel

The Goat’s cheese, caramelized onion quiche skimps not on the good stuff: Abundantly cheesy with sweet onion and a deliciously substantial pastry base. Lightened by the addition of fresh tang and crunch from Pineapple, fennel & sultana slaw. Not to be missed: Almond & honey Florentine. Trust me.

Ship on the shore

The Ship on the Shore  in Leith (seaside Edinburgh) manages to impress not just Little Miss Fussy, but Hippy Mum and even the more traditional, OBE decorated, Edinburgh Great Uncle. Fish and shellfish at its best. With wild garlic, haggis mash, in a pint or just about any way you like it. This is a must tick when visiting Edinburgh. #intelligentcooking

While Starbucks is inevitably prevalent, it’s far outweighed by the long established and increasingly popular coffee shops who’s look is anything but that of a cookie cut corporate. And their coffee strong and smooth enough to cause a discerning Antipodean barista to weep.

Brew Lab

Brew-Lab-Edinburgh

A stone’s throw from the university, Brew Lab leads the way, even securing colleague Paul’s much coveted high praise. Paul’s title reads: Gather & Gather Coffee Guru. And he’s Australian, of course. Following in the trend for ‘We’d Serve You From A Urinal If EHO Allowed It Styling’, Brew Lab’s exposed brick makes Havana’s perilously pinned together buildings look positively pristine.

Brew-Lab-counter

The fresh mint tea (with egg timer) resulted in much jubilation from a non-coffee drinking colleague and the ridiculously tasty and rich Almond & cherry cake inspired me to covet my personalised Spanish version no longer. Next week I’ll bring you Orange, almond & chocolate cake: Uber moist; sophisticatedly sweet and tangy; distinctively almondy. A cake for grown ups.

Other Edinburgh hot spots: The Gardener’s CottageThe Dogs, Peter’s Yard.

 

Travel pick: Holy cow

Posted in: Travel, Uncategorized

This month is a significant one for me; five years ago I popped my India cherry. And my holidays have never been the same since. Each year I try to break away from my spiritual addiction and fail. Since April 2008 I’ve back-packed (kind of), boutique hotel’d and eaten my way from sand and dust suffocated Rajasthan to tropical India’s most southern, sticky, coconut fringed tip.

Mumbai, India

I’ve stepped bare foot and cashmere wrapped onto the world’s most demonstrative declaration of love, the Taj Mahal; and breakfasted on Masala dosa with my benevolent, cattle class neighbour on India’s celebrated railway.

Indian train timetable

I’ve been served tea by our fawning butler, immersed in Munnar’s tea plantations and 1950’s rose gardens; and eaten Coorgi pork with Arabica coffee estate owners (and my hands).

Munnar tea plantations

Munnar's tea pickers

Coorg. Coffee drying.

Rehydrated on road side tender coconut surrounded by monkeys and wild elephants and contracted dysentery in Old Delhi. Served me right; even Hippy Mum was more discerning.

street food: Old Delhi & Coorg

Old Delhi

Cleaned (the dorm!) toilets, eaten off the floor, chanted and yoga’d away the controlled with military precision hours in an Ashram.

Ashram

I’ve ridden on elephants and fed them turmeric rice (gut goodness). I’m slightly partial to elephants. Apparently the females are the calm ones which I’m sure we’ll all agree is unusual.

Indian elephants

Gawped in wonder at Udaipur’s breath taking lake palaces, street murals and washing Ghats.

Udaipur Lake palace & washing ghats

Hobbled, dysentery fevered, around the blue city of Jodhpur, its Red Fort, Ganesha’s and innumerable scabby and bony Holy cows.

Jodhpur & Ganesha

And `shed a tear for the wives who threw themselves onto their Maharaja husband’s funeral pyre.

Funeral pyre wives

I’ve recuperated in the sand city of Jaisalmer and nearly thrown up again at the site of the refuse collecting pigs capacity to inhale ANYTHING.

I’ve papped the entire local population of 15th century Hampi (again with the cows), escaping the sweaty, lack of AC on the night train for Bangalore’s slick hotels, roof top bars and Victorian parks. Once more photographing the entire, camera spellbound population; laughing and being touched by the unaffected warmth of almost every one of them. Minus the cows.

Holy cow

Hampi children

I’ve bought yoga gear in Mysore, stretched it in Goa and scootered my way from Bollywood star hangout, to Goan sausage stall, to samosa beach hut.

Goa beach

Goa samosa breakfast

Yet no-where has drawn me back quite like Kerala and Fort Cochin, which somehow manages to tick every chic, cultural holiday box. So strong is the bond, in fact that I may have returned upwards of 14 times. Annihilating my never go back in favour of seeing the world decree. Find out why soon. To be continued…

The Anti-diet: Fresh, naturally

Posted in: Uncategorized

By this I mean made by you. Or your granny / the local deli / anyone not advocating the use of ingredients you’d expect to find in a science lab. As this blog eulogises, food is our fuel. I have a sneaking suspicion our growing girths and ever more vociferous food intolerance grumbles, can largely be attributed to the unpronounceable nasties poured into our ready-meals.

Seasonally Seductive Variety

Our bodies like variety. And by eating seasonally, you automatically tick the balanced diet manifesto. At the very least, you’ll never unwittingly consume horse in your beef burgers again.

Horse Burgers

And don’t get me started on salt, fat and sugar. It’s now common knowledge that many ready meals contain over half our recommended daily allowance of the former in a single serving. As a result, salt has become a swear word when in fact, our bodies need it to function.

It’s like this: Our heart is a muscle. Our digestive tract and limbs, amongst other things, are controlled by our muscles. Without salt, said muscles can’t move (hence cramp). If you’re not living off packaged loaves or processed food, you can probably scratch this one off your worry list.

Caravan Coffee, Exmouth Market, London.

By the same token, coffee houses such as Monmouth, All Press and Caravan (pictured), don’t do skinny milk. Because lattes weren’t invented with watered down, processed lactose. Coffee and the sweet, velvety cows milk are perfect partners. Enjoy them as they’re meant to be – in a smaller cup as opposed to a 32oz Venti bucket.

Pick and MIx. Love Hearts.

And what is the deal with sugar? When did we Brits develop such a super saccharine tooth? Most Rhubarb crumbles are now sweeter than Pick ‘N Mix with even ready meals and low fat foods typically loaded with sugar. It’s no wonder obesity and diabetes are on the increase, hence the press recently turning into our most vociferous saccherophobe (sugar hater). sugar demon taking such a beating by the press of late. On current trends, by 2050 half the UK adult population will be obese. We currently stand at 1/3. Nice.

For the record, the legendary J. Sheekey’s still flies the flag for our tangy British crumble favourite, complimented with the silkiest, vanilla bean speckled crème Anglais. #drool

JSheekey Oyster Bar, London.

“But I don’t step foot in my kitchen before 9pm”, I hear you groan. Without wishing to sound like Martha Stewart, soups, stews and salads can be super quick to prepare. The key is to make bigger batches for the fridge or freezer.

Next week I’ll blog some key recipes that can be mixed and matched for a week of almost instantaneous post work suppers and office lunch boxes, putting into easy practice what must seem like Anti-diet overload! In the meantime, click on the Seasonal Seducers and recipes for Wholesomely Seductive eating that’s a way of life, as opposed to a starve v. binge battle.

For more Anti-diet tips click on the Tag on the right, or type Anti-diet into the Search box at the top.

All Anti-diet posts have been approved by nutritionist and Gather & Gather colleague Kate Taylor, find her on Twitter @kate_t85