It’s that time of year when we are entertaining visitors and are looking for inspiration. I love mushroom and tomato bruschetta but this wonderful kale bruschetta tops them both. infused with garlic and chilli and still slightly al dente it’s perfect for any party and or pre-dinner canapé and the great news? Cavolo Nero is really good for you too.
Cavolo Nero or Cavalo Nero, also known as Black Kale is a dark green leafed brassica from the cabbage family. Most kale in the UK is grown in Lincolnshire during a season running from June to March with the most plentiful kale being grown from October onward. The Italians have long been enthusiasts. It is grown in Southern Italy mainly and particularly responds to the fertile, loamy soil of Lincolnshire, where so many of our vegetables are grown. It is extremely moisture-retentive soil and very mineral rich because a lot of the land in this area (around the Wash in particular) was reclaimed from the sea. This means that once the Black Cale is established, it is likely to remain healthy, even in long droughts, and its large root system keeps it strong and not in need of extensive irrigation.
Cavolo Nero could be considered a superfood, so rich is it in vitamins K, A and C. It also contains significant levels of manganese, copper and phytochemicals, which are believed to help support the body in fighting certain kinds of cancer. It is also a useful source of calcium, a mineral particularly beneficial to vegans or for anyone who cannot tolerate dairy products. It is also a good source of folic acid, which supports the immune system and the circulation and mothers during pregnancy and lutein, which keeps the eyes healthy. Lastly, for those of you who are weight-conscious, kale is virtually calorie free.
- 2 lbs black kale
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Large pinch of red chilli flakes
- 5 cloves garlic
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Rustic bread cut into slices
Firstly prepare the kale. Remove the thick stalks and slice . Heat the some of the oil in a large sauté pan and add the chilli flakes, and garlic, sliced. Saute until softened. Add the kale, and stir fry until tender. You may have to cook the kale in batches. Remove from the heat and season. Toss and then cover and keep warm. Lightly toast the bread and then lightly brush with the extra virgin olive oil. Cut a whole garlic clove in half and rub over the toast. Load the bruchetta with the black kale and drizzle with olive oil.
Caro and I have been sharing our festive family food stories in the past week and the one thing that keeps cropping up is one of the simplest sauces to make. It has but a few ingredients and yet a Christmas table would be bereft without it when we were growing up. Now, it’s a but forgotten, although Caro has hinted very strongly that she would really rather like some. A throw back from Medieval times when sauces thickened with bread were popular this is the only one that survives to this day. Growing up my Nana’s table groaned on a Sunday with three or different types of potato, homemade stuffing and bread and onion sauce. It was fabulous and creamy and flavour-filled. The actual preparation couldn’t be simpler but it’s what you add to it to make that taste that transports you back to family Christmas’ past.
Do you just stud an onion with cloves and add a few bay leaves and poach in milk are do you add any other secret ingredients? Do you use fresh bread or slightly stale for the breadcrumbs? I think slightly stale bread adds to the overall texture of the sauce and its also a great way to use up leftover bread. In Turkey, they have a slightly more jazzed up version of our more traditional bread sauce. They add pounded up nuts including hazelnuts and serve it with both chicken as well as their delicious flavours. Bread sauce is traditionally served as part of Christmas Dinner here in Blighty although if Caro had her way I expect we’d be having it with everything. Even sausages ! Here is our version of this undeniably classic winter warmer – Traditional Bread Sauce.
- 1 onion
- 3 whole cloves
- 200ml whole milk
- 2 bay leaves
- A pinch of mace
- fresh white breadcrumbs
- A pinch of salt and crushed black pepper
- A dusting of nutmeg
- 50g butter
Firstly peel the onion and stud with the cloves. Place in saucepan and add the milk, mace and bay leaves. Heat gently poaching the onion until soft, this normally takes about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and mace discard. Then using the hand blender, blend the onion, milk and cloves together until you have a smooth sauce then add the breadcrumbs. Just as many as you need to achieve the consistency you like, I like mine slightly stodgy, but that is my personal taste. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the butter to create shine and decorate with grated nutmeg and a bay leaf . Serve warm.
We’re delighted to welcome back Jenny Littman from ReSource with a festive flapjack made with raw ingredients. Jenny and husband Robin are running their next raw food workshop in London on 11 January and if you fancy a retreat to beautiful Gozo then the next one is on April 4th next year.
Its easy to say this or that is good for you. We all know that goji berries have enough phytonutrients to keep a yak alive and hearty in the freezing mountains of Nepal .
But what I have been learning lately is that because so many of us have compromised digestive systems, thanks to all the environmental, emotional, and other stresses, sometimes we have developed food sensitivities to otherwise healthy choices – or we may not be able to absorb the nutrients. I was shocked to discover having taken the Quantum SCIO test – the most advanced total health test available, originally developed by NASA for astronauts who could not afford to get ill in space – that I have on my ‘red list’ – ie must avoid for at least 90 days – of all things, spinach, broccoli, brazil nuts and melons! And on my ‘yellow list’ – only to be eaten once or twice a week - cashews, avocados and mushrooms…as well as more common things like cow’s milk and cheese, and gluten.
This has been something of a wake-up call to our approach to nutrition. Being advocates of a ‘high raw’ diet of fruit, veggies, seeds and nuts, has undoubtedly benefitted us – especially my husband Robin whose report showed that his health had turned around in the last few years – has perhaps blinded us to the over-riding need for a digestive system that is coping with what you are putting in it. So having the health test has probably saved us a great deal of wasted effort, money spent on things that are not good for us as individuals, and enabled us to truly focus on getting our systems back into balance. At that point, we should be able to introduce some of those ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ list items having removed the sensitivity. Got to be a good way to go.
With Christmas coming up, we have been looking around for recipes that fit our current requirements, one of which is to be seasonal! Our chef in Gozo, the lovely Leigh Holmes (who is also a talented musician) gave me his favourite flapjack recipe – and fortunately it uses almonds and goji berries, with nothing on the ‘banned’ list. It’s a great store cupboard standby for visitors and kids dropping in, and wonderfully satisfying with a cup of chai…
Leigh’s Goji Flapjack
- 2 cups oats
- 1 cup ground almonds
- ½ cup melted coconut oil (in a bain marie)
- A couple of handfuls of dried fruit – sultanas, raisins or a mixture
- 2 tbs Yacon syrup
- Goji berries to top
Roughly blend the oats, almonds and dried fruit in a food processor. Stir in the melted coconut oil and Yacon syrup. It should form a sticky dough – not too crumbly that it will fall apart, and not too wet. Press into a shallow cake tin lined with clingfilm.Sprinkle bee pollen and goji berries on the top.Freeze until 30 minutes before you want to serve it. Eat! Store left overs in a sealed container in the fridge.
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Halibut are flatfish in the family of right-eye flounders, the Pleuronectidae. The genus they belong to is Hippoglossus. The name is derived from the words haly meaning holy and butt, meaning flatfish and is so-called because of its superior flavour and texture which made it the most popular fish to eat on Catholic Holy Days. They live on the sea bed in the North Pacific and North Atlantic. They do not breed until they are eight years old.
It is much the largest flatfish. There are rumours, as yet uncertified, that one of 9ft (2.74m) and 515lb (233.6k) was caught in the waters off Norway in July 2013, which would make it 100lb heavier than any other flatfish ever caught! To look at, halibut are dark brown on their top side with a creamy white underbelly and scales so small that they are invisible to the human eye. When born, they have an eye on either side of their heads and swim like salmon, but as they mature, (from six months), one eye migrates and the stationary-side darkens so the skin is the same colour, whilst the other side remains off-white. The markings of the halibut provide immensely effective camouflage because their upside disguises them from above because they blend with the sea floor so effectively and from below, their white under bellies could be confused with skylight. This type of camouflage is known as counter-shading.
Halibut feed on pretty much anything that they can fit in their mouths! This puts them at the top of the marine food chain and means they are predated on by sea lion, blue whale and salmon shark. On examining the stomachs of halibut, octopus, hermit crab, salmon, pollock, cod, flounder and other halibut have been found. Although they are bottom dwellers, they sometimes come up to feed which could explain their eclectic diet.
Professional halibut fishing in the North Pacific dates to the late 19th century and is one of the largest and most lucrative in American and Canadian waters. The fish are generally caught on long lines using bait such as octopus on circle hooks set at regular intervals and on nets that can extend for several miles across the sea floor. The fishermen retrieve their nets after several hours to a day. There has been some concern recently that this kind of fishing might disturb the habitat but this is yet to be fully corroborated.
We’ve chosen this mouth-watering dish of roasted halibut with a mustard crust. It’s best to use a milder mustard like Dijon because it doesn’t over power the fish, it compliments its succulent flavour.
- 4 Halibut steaks
- 4 oz panko bread crumbs/ of normal breadcrumbs
- The juice and zest of one lemon
- A large handful of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- A large pinch of sea salt
- A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 heaped tbsp of Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp of good olive oil
Preheat the oven to 220c/gas mark 6. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and coat with olive oil before placing in a roasting pan. In a mixing bowl add all the ingredients and combine, until the bread crumbs have absorbed the juice and mustard, add extra bread crumbs if necessary. Leave the breadcrumb mixture for about 20mins for the flavours to develop then press the mixture on top of the halibut. It’s best to use your hands for this job, it’s easier to mould the mixture to the fish. Next place in the oven for about 12-15 minutes then remove the fish from the oven and allow to rest for 7 minutes. Serve with boiled potatoes and salad with vinaigrette or season vegetables.
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Caro has dragged herself from her sick bed to make this amazing cake in the Happily Ever Christmas Afters kitchen. It’s another family favourite and great for a celebration cake over the festive period, if like me you loathe, dry, marzipan clad Christmas cake. I cannot wait to taste it, it looks utterly delicious.
My family grew up with two cakes that were considered the best cakes ever. One was an ice box cake, the other was known in our family as Crake Drake’s Chocolate Cake because my brother couldn’t pronounce his friend, Craig’s name properly. Either of these cakes were considered just the bees knees and so were consistently asked for when any kind of major celebration came along. Traditional icebox cakes are made with biscuits, my mother used to bake sponge cakes -your choice! This is an American recipe so the cups are American.
Well, I am recreating one of these recipes for you here, because today we are celebrating. Our great friends, Jodie & Nicola Parker are celebrating the launch of their new business, Urban Shed, an independant creative digital studio, which will cater for your every need where website, branding and design are concerned. Our own business owes its fantastic new logo to this hugely talented duo. So ladies here’s to you and your new business, wishing you success and thanking you for your amazing help with our branding.
Chocolate Ice Box Cake
- At least 3 8oz packs of Lady’s fingers (enough to line a springform tin with finger thick sponge, tightly sealed)
- 4oz chocolate
- Cup icing sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 eggs
- Cup butter
- Cup icing sugar
Line a spring form tin with lady’s fingers or sponge, if you have made cake. Ensure that the biscuits/pieces of sponge are very tightly packed so the outside is sealed completely. Also make sure you have enough to add at the end! Put the chocolate, icing sugar and quarter cup of water into a double boiler and melt. Beat the yolks of the eggs. When the chocolate mix is smooth and melted, add the beaten eggs very gradually to the mix and cook, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. In a separate bowl, cream 1 cup of butter with 1 cup icing sugar, then add the chocolate mixture. Beat the egg whites until stiff and then fold into the chocolate mixture.
Pour into tin that is lined with lady fingers/sponge, to allow you to cover the top of the chocolate mixture with more tightly packed lady’s fingers. The chocolate mixture should be completely enclosed with walls of biscuit/sponge. Put in fridge and leave overnight to cool and set in the box. Turn out and cover with whipped cream and decorate with grated chocolate.
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Welcome to Where Is The Mozz? This game packed with festive fun has been invented by our friends at Just Eat. Just Eat is great for those times when we fancy someone else cooking and they’ve based with game on their Our Pizza Box Puzzle which recreates their boot camp world (you might have seen their latest TV Ads!) where the notorious JUST EAT chef leader, Mr Mozzarella needs help finding his pizza delivery boxes. There are 8 pizza boxes to find and those who find all 8 will be entered into the prize draw to potentially win some great prizes including: Free Netflix for a year, a £50 JUST EAT Voucher and a Snuggly Onesie .
You can play right here…..
We’ve got the most amazing tiger prawns in the fridge at the moment and I’ve been thinking different ways to cook them. I keep looking outside at the BBQ and imagining them sizzling away, I just worry that I might get frostbite. So we are heading back inside and using our grill plate to create crispy, aromatic and truly succulent prawns.
One of the spices we are using in our marinade are Nigella seeds, known at Kalonji or black cumin or black onion seeds. They are dry roasted and used to flavour curries, vegetables and pulses. Nigella seeds taste of a combination of black pepper, onions and oregano although they have a bitter overtone associated with mustard seeds; now that’s a whole lot of flavour, which is why we are using them very sparingly in this recipe.
The seeds come from Nigella a plant native to southern Europe, North Africa and southern parts of Asia. I love some of the names this brightly coloured plants are known by including, devil-in-a-bush and love in a mist. They grow up to 90 cm tall and as I said earlier its flowers are white, blue, purple or pink. They usually produce up to 10 petals. Its fruit is a type of capsule containing the seeds.
- 12 jumbo tiger prawns
- The juice of one lime
- sea salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste.
- 2 tbsp of ground nut oil
- 2 tbsp of gram flour ( chickpea flour)
- 3 tbsp of full fat Greek yoghurt
- 2 tbsp of paprika
- A pinch of Nigella seeds
- 1/2 tbsp of ginger, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced.
- A pinch of garam masala
Firstly marinade the prawns. In a large mixing bowl mix the yoghurt, paprika, Nigella seeds, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, add the prawns and refrigerate for a couple of hours. In a large sauté pan heat the oil and add the flour and stir constantly until it turns golden. Allow it to cool then add a tablespoon of the flour mixture and allow to rest again for another 20 minutes. Heat the grill to a medium heat and cook the prawns for three minutes either side. Sprinkle with garam masala and lemon juice and serve.
I tried my first bloody Mary at sixteen. I’d had a love hate relationship with tomato juice as a child until I discovered the magical flavour of Worcester Sauce.It disguised the flavour of the then pre-premium tomato juice of the late 70′s and 80′s, which was thick and gloopy and rather reminiscent of barely strained tomatoes. Then I tried a Bloody Mary, It was love at first taste, sheer unadulterated heaven. It’s still my very favourite drink.Yes, I even like it more than fizz.
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 6 celery sticks, diced
- 2 red peppers, finely diced
- 3/4 litre of sherry vinegar
- 3 tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tsp pickling spice ( see below)
- 1 red chili, finely chopped ( more if you love heat )
- 3 lbs fresh ripe tomatoes
- 12 oz demerara sugar
- 1 tsp of freshly grated horseradish
- The juice of one lemon
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 4 Tbsp tomato purée
- 4 Tbsp vodka
For the Pickling Spice
- 4 tbsp of black mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp of coriander seeds
- 1 tsp of dill seeds
- 2 tsp of celery seeds
- 2 tsp of white pepper corns
- 2 dried red chillies
- 2 bay leaves
We’re giving away 3 signed copies of our book FLAVOURS in time for Christmas. All you have to do is click the link and follow the instructions. There is no limit to the amount of times you can enter, the winners will be drawn by and independent randomiser – Good Luck
Citrus hysteria, most commonly known as kaffir lime, is a tree and fruit native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand and nearby countries, and the leaf is the part used most heavily in Southeast Asian cuisine. The leaves can be used fresh or dried and can be frozen very successfully.
Kaffir lime is a thorny bush that grows to a height of about 16-32ft (5-10m) tall. It has very distinctively shaped, highly aromatic ‘double’ leaves. The hourglass shaped leaves, comprising the leaf and flattened stalk are the most frequent additions to various cuisines. The fruit is quite small and knobbly and is immediately identifiable because of its small size 2in (4cm) across) and it’s rough, bumpy skin.
The rind of the Kaffir Lime is commonly used in Lao and Thai curry pastes, to give them an aromatic and astringent quality, and the zest in Creole cuisine to give flavour to ‘arranged’ runs from Martinique, Reunion and Madagascar. They are used in Thai and Lao cooking to create dishes such as tom yum, in Cambodia to make the base paste, krueng, and in Vietnam to add fragrance to food. In Indonesia, the leaves are used with Indonesian bay leaf to give flavour to chicken and rice dishes and in some of these places they are used to disguise the pungent odour of snails being steamed. The juice is considered too bitter to use in cooking but the Cambodians crystallize the entire fruit as a sweet.
- 4 breasts cut into slices
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 cucumber sliced
- 1 carrot finely sliced
- A handful of sliced mange tout
- 1 onion, quartered and peeled
- handful of fresh basil leaves (to serve)
- 2 tbsp of groundnut oil
For the paste
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced
- 2 birdseye chili de-seeded ( or not if you like it spicy)
- 10 kaffir lime leaves
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- The juice of half a lime juice
- 2 tbsp of fish sauce
- A handful of Thai basil leaves
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp of light soy sauce ( for salt)
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp darkbrown sugar
- Boiled rice
- Coriander leaves roughly chopped
Firstly lets make the paste. Place all the paste ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz. You are looking for a fine paste. Then heat the oil in the wok and add the sliced chicken and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the paste and continue to stir-fry for another couple of minutes, before adding the remaining ingredients. Stir-fry for another 5 minutes and then serve with boiled rice and a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves.
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