It is also a good make-ahead dish. Just prepare the rhubarb and keep it on the fridge until you need it.
Rhubarb and orange smoothie (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)
- 2–3 rhubarb stalks, about 175g, cut into 2cm lengths
- Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 3–4 tsp honey
- 3–4 tbsp plain yoghurt
Put the rhubarb in a pan with the orange zest and juice, honey and 2 tbsp of water. Stir over a low heat until the honey dissolves.
Cover the pan and stew the rhubarb very gently for about 8 minutes, until it softens. Add a little water if it starts to look dry. Switch off the heat and leave to cool completely. (You can, of course, prepare the rhubarb a day ahead and keep it chilled overnight.)
Put the rhubarb mixture in a blender with the yoghurt and whiz until smooth. Taste and add a little more honey, if you like. Pour into 2 glasses and drink straight away.
The year was 2013 when I posted a dish by the Hairy Dieters to illustrate on strange food habits. Like, for example, eating over and over again the same dish or ingredient for a whole season. Over and over again… The dish in question was orange and fennel salad with harissa dressing (here). Almost 2 years after, another fennel and citrus salad shows up, this time to explain that grapefruit (and avocado) are my food crazes of 2015. Well, citrus were exceptionally good this year and any excuse was good to have them. Not trying to convert this in a head to head citrus salad competition…. this one is a more sophisticated and chefy, ideal to impress dinner parties mobile calorie intake units guests. Also, it calls for the best ingredients you can find. There is no harissa to hide in this one. In any case, totally worth the effort.
Fennel, orange and grapefruit salad with mint (adapted from a Matthew Accarrino’s recipe found in Food & Wine Magazine)
- 2 red grapefruits
- 2 navel oranges
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 2 fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons small mint leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Using a sharp knife, cut the skin and white pith from the grapefruits and oranges. Working over bowl, cut between the membranes to release the sections into the bowl. Squeeze the membranes to extract the juice. In a small bowl, stir the olive oil with the honey and lemon juice. Add 3 tablespoons of the citrus juice and season with salt. [You most likely won’t need all the juice] In a shallow serving bowl, toss the fennel and citrus sections with the dressing. Garnish with the mint leaves and ground coriander and serve right away.
A confession: I have been looking for gluten free recipes as of late. Apparently, i am gluten intolerant according to my doctor. Considering I am also lactose intolerant, this is making my breakfast more and more difficult. Even muesli *may* be an issue – especially if you live in the country who invented the thing and swears by it. But, one manages to find alternatives and eventually find happiness in dishes like this. For sure there is life beyond gluten…
Strawberry, nectarine and walnuts bake (adapted from a recipe found in the Minimalist Baker blog)
- 4 cups strawberries and nectarines, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup (app 85g) oats
- 1/2 cup (app 45g) almond meal
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup (app 50g) of light brown sugar
- pinch sea salt
- 60g of cold butter
- Plain yoghurt to serve
Preheat oven to 180oC (350cF).
Butter and flower a baking dish.
Chop the fruit in big chunks. Reserve.
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them until the butter is well incorporate (probably best done by hand).
Put the fruit in the previously buttered dish, making sure it well spread. On top of it, add a layer of the flour and butter mix
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is crisp and golden.
Let it cool. Serve with a dollop of yughurt
You cannot go wrong with an über buttery sweet dessert. Adding fruit makes it vaguely healthy, even…
Apple and walnut crumble (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)
For the filling
- 100g roasted walnuts
- 1.25kg apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
- 50-100g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
For the crumble
- 225g plain flour
- A pinch of sea salt
- 200g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 150g caster, granulated or soft brown sugar
- 75g medium oatmeal
- 100g grounded almonds (optional)
Scatter the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in an oven preheated to 180C for about 5-7 minutes, giving them a shake halfway through, until just beginning to colour and develop aroma. Leave to cool, then chop very roughly.
To prepare the crumble, you can your own hands or use a food processor, at it fits better. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers (or pulse briefly in the processor) until the mixture resembles course crumbs.
Stir in the sugar, oatmeal and ground almonds, if using. If you prefer to have a chunky crumble, squeeze a few handfuls in your fist to make lumps
Put the apples in a large bowl, sprinkle over the sugar, to taste. Add the walnuts and the cinnamon, if using, and mix roughly. Spread in a pie dish or other ovenproof dish, getting the fruit as compact as you can.
Scatter the crumble over the apples in a fairly even layer and bake for 40-45 minutes, until browned on top.
Serve hot, with cream, custard or ice cream; or, once it is cold, serve it with a thick, rich yoghurt.
I always associated jam making with huge undertakings, which would take days, if not weeks, to complete. Nothing a single girl could make – and eat – on her own. But, slowly by slowly, I start noticing quick jam recipes, with relatively small size. Like this one, which can be done in less than 1 hour, with almost no fuss what so ever. I have to add I am not a great fan of super sugary food, but this is the kind of thing you can add to your yoghurt for a sweet treat… (Not that may) calories definitely worthwhile taking.
Berry Quick Jam (adapted from theKitchn)
- 350g fresh raspberries
- 250g fresh blackberries
- 250g fresh strawberries, hulled and thickly sliced
- 200g raw cane sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
In a large bowl, combine the berries and sugar, and let them macerate for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar has begun to dissolve into the fruit.
Transfer the berries to a heavy pot and bring to boil over a medium heat. Add the salt, lemon zest and lemon juice and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Allow the berries to gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit breaks down and the mixture starts to cook down, thickening slightly. When almost done, the jam will still be loose, but should coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove the jam from the heat and pour into a clean glass jars, cap them and allow it to cool completely.
Even food bloggers have really bad kitchen days… Everything seemed going OK until I bumped into the mother of all disaster recipes. Without going into too much detail, the whole thing ended up in the trash bin. Then, I realised I was missing the key ingredient for the next bake. In despair, I turned to google to guide my way out of this mess. “Tea and fruit bread”, said the oracle. “You cannot get this one wrong”. She was right: it is super easy, quick and more importantly, fool-proof. A couple of hours later everything was fine again…
On a side note, this is very close to what my Grandmother used call English cake and insist on buying every Christmas. Us kiddies never thought the point of it – all that crystallised fruit was unappealing. We would patiently wait for it get too dry to eat, so my Mother could convert into a much more appetising bread pudding made with custard.
Tea and fruit bread (adapted from a recipe found in nigella.com)
- 1 cup black tea
- 250g mixed dried fruit
- 250g white flour
- 2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 125g of caster sugar
- 1 large beaten egg
- 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
Grease a loaf tin (about 650g)
Preheat oven to 180oC
Put the fruit in a small bowl, and pour in the tea. Let it soak overnight if possible, or until the fruit is swollen.
In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, egg and marmalade. Then, fold in the fruit and any tea left in the bowl. Mix thoroughly
Put into loaf tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour
Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tin
Apparently, it is one of the most popular Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes – and rightly so…. A few tweaks to the recipe, though. Onions were replaced by leeks as one of the
mobile calorie intake units guests is allergic to it. Fresh figs were replaced my dried ones, due to sourcing and budgetary constraints. Probably not the dish Yotam envisioned, but still… it is a pretty good way to start your Autumn.
- 4 small sweet potatoes (1 kg in total)
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 40ml balsamic vinegar (you can use a commercial rather than a premium aged grade)
- 20g caster sugar
- 3 leeks halved lengthways and cut into thin slices
- 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
- 250g of dried figs, sliced
- Maldon sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 240oC/220oC Fan/Gas Mark 9.
Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthways and then cut each again similarly into three long wedges. Mix with three tablespoons of the olive oil, two teaspoons of salt and some black pepper. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and cook for about 25 minutes until soft but not mushy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
To make a balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2–4 minutes, or until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken as it cools.
Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle. Arrange the sweet potatoes on a serving platter.
Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan and add the spring onions and chilli. Fry on a medium heat for 4–5 minutes, stirring often, making sure not to burn the chilli, and then spoon the oil, onions and chilli over the sweet potatoes.
Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature.
To keep up with the spirit of seasonal cooking, a lemon pudding cake with raspberries… Only one word to describe this: yum. Too bad soon enough berries will be gone from the supermarket…
- Enough berries to cover the bottom of a tray (about 250g)
- 75g of plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch sea salt
- 300mL buttermilk
- 125g unsalted butter (melted and cooled down)
- 3 eggs separated
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Preheat the stove to 180oC
Grease a 750mL to 1L baking dish. Make sure this dish fit fits larger tray, so you can have a bain marie. Scatter the berries over the base of the greased dish, making sure the whole surface is covered
Combine in a large bowl the flour, baking powder and pinch of salt.
In another bowl, lightly whisk together the melted butter, the buttermilk, the yolks, the sugar and the lemon zest.
Stir into the flour mixtures
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks forms
With a metal spoon, fold in the batter half of the egg whites until well incorporated. Then, fold in the remaining half.
Spread the batter over the berries in the baking dish.
Put the baking dish in the large baking tray. Poor boiling water in the larger dish until it reaches halfway up the sides, creating a main marie.
Transfer to the stove for about 45m to 1h, until it starts to get fluffy and golden (it should be cakey on the top and soft in the middle).
Let it cool for a bit and serve.
This has become one of my favourite dishes to take work for lunch. It is easy to make, healthy and very convenient to eat. It is also comforting… It is probably miles away from the real thing, but it still tastes good enough to pass every foodie standard of deliciousness.
Sweet and sour chicken (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 1 x 425g/15oz can pineapple chunks in natural juice
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into 12 wedges
- 2 peppers, red, green, orange or yellow, deseeded and cut into chunks of about 3cm/1¼in
- 100g of Brazil nuts
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 25g/1oz piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
- freshly ground black pepper
To make the sauce, drain the pineapple in a sieve over a bowl and keep all the juice – you should have about 150ml/5fl oz. Put the cornflour in a large bowl and stir in three tablespoons of the pineapple juice to make a smooth paste. Add the remaining juice and 150ml/5fl oz water, then stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Cut each chicken breast into eight or nine even pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the onion and peppers for two minutes over a high heat. Drain the water chestnuts and cut them in half horizontally.
Add the remaining oil and the chicken to the pan and stir-fry for two minutes until coloured on all sides. Add the garlic, ginger, pineapple chunks and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 30–60 seconds.
Give the cornflour and pineapple mixture a good stir and add it to the pan with the chicken and vegetables. Stir well, season with some ground black pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4–6 minutes until the sauce is thickened and glossy and the chicken is tender and cooked throughout, turning the chicken and vegetables a few times. Serve with a small portion of rice.
I can remember those cooking marathons my Mother used to endure around Christmas time, when all the cooking would be put to an halt to produce countless pots of marmelada. Do not confuse with marmalada... Marmelada is a very sugary quincy purée, which is a staple in every Portuguese kitchen. It seems to be something the Romans learnt from the Greeks, and which staid with us until today,wikipedia dixit.
In any case, I would have thought to use the actual fruits for a dessert until I saw this recipe. And, I am glad I have tried it. Once you start with it, you just want to come back for more.
Quince poached in pomegranate juice (adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s column in The Guardian)
- 2 large quinces, peeled and quartered
- 800ml pomegranate juice
- 70g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, cut in half lengthways and seeds scraped out
- The shaved peel of 1 large orange, plus 50ml juice
- 2 whole star anise
- 65g pomegranate seeds
- 120g clotted cream
- 2 tsp fresh mint leaves (optional)
Core the eight quince quarters. Discard four cores and tie the others into a bundle with an old tea towel or muslin. Put the cored quince quarters into a heavy-based pan and add the wrapped-up cores, pomegranate juice, sugar, vanilla pod and seeds, orange peel and juice, and star anise. Bring to a boil, turn down to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 15-25 minutes, until the quince is soft.
Remove the quince quarters with a slotted spoon and set aside. Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes or so, until it’s thick, syrupy and reduced to about 75ml. Just before serving, squeeze all the thick juices out of the core bundle into the sauce, then discard along with the orange peel, star anise and vanilla. Return the quince to the syrup and gently warm through. Place two quarters of quince on each plate, pour over some syrup and serve with clotted cream and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and shredded mint (if using)