Category Extras

Pecan, Cinnamon & PB Energy Balls

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alling all sports fanatics, runners, lycra glad cyclists and yogis. Energy balls. In the fast paced and immediate society we now live in (London specifically), time is something that we so regularly abuse…’I’m just so busy I didn’t have time’. Which has carved the way for the new found energy ball to eat on the go before that lunch time pilates class or to fill a void between your next avocado. The happy balance being convenience and keeping a healthy lifestyle.

The energy ball currently populates the nation from supermarket to sport shop and will in the oh so near future be a much bigger part of my life (cliff hanger). Many health bars/snacks on the market are unhealthily and sneakily filled with naughty ingredients and additives. But homemade energy balls really are pure and clean. And full of….energy!? And I’m more than pleased to add that these really are as quick to make as they are to gobble down before that spinning class.

Provided you have a food processor (I’m being presumptuous) then all you need to do is pulse it all together! I mean…if you want to squat at the same time then be my guest. And hey…who said they had to be balls? Make them triangles if you have the time.

Adapted from ‘Deliciously Ella’

Ingredients (makes about 20)

  • 400g dates (pitted). I also threw in a handful of prunes for good measure
  • 100g oats
  • 100g pecans
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (feel free to use any other nut butter)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  1. Blend the oats and pecans until a fine mixture in a food processor.
  2. Add the other ingredients and pulse until you have a sticky mixture.
  3. Roll into balls (golf ball sized) and chill in the fridge (covered) until needed

‘Mini’ Chorizo Scotch Eggs

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call these ‘mini’ as when referencing a Scotch egg these quail egg equivalent would be considered small which made them the perfect canapé for our New Years Eve party! After a long festive week of cooking for the family and indulging in experimenting in our family kitchen and fully stocked fridge, I was pleased to know that the dinner party I was to be a guest at required me to put down the oven gloves and simply bring a bottle of fizz! However it wasn’t long before I was tasted with canapés! I usually don’t bother with the faff but not one to let a challenge go, I wanted something that would get the guests excited!

I’ve also never jumped on the ‘gooey-in-the-middle’ Scotch egg band wagon. These days you can’t call yourself a Gastropub without proudly and confidently sitting a gooey scotch egg at the top of your bar snacks menu. But since I wanted to make a little extra effort I thought I’d give them a go! I know you won’t believe me when I say it but they are actually really simple to make! They do require some effort but what else was I to do on New Years eve day when the dinner was being prepare elsewhere?

Three simple steps and you’re done. I also made cheese and pineapple on sticks. No recipe required, and no ‘steps’….but caused equal excitement. Who knew?

Makes 12

  • 12 quails eggs (at room temperature)
  • 6 chorizo sausages
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 handfuls plain flour
  • 150g breadcrumbs
  • 1 litre vegetable oil.

Step 1 – Boil the eggs:

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Gently add the quails eggs and boil for exactly 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water immediately until the shells are cool to touch.
  2. Tap each egg to break the shell (you can be rougher than you think with these but don’t be too heavy handed) and remove the shell. This can be easier under running water. TIP – when you remove the shell, there is a thin clear membrane beneath the covers the white. If you can get under this, the shell can be removed much easier, sometimes in one go!

Step 2 – Coat the eggs:

  1. Remove the meat from the sausages skins and combine in a large bowl.
  2. Take golf ball sized portions (or divide your meat by 12) and flatten on the palm of your hand into a large disc about 6 cm wide. Place one of your eggs in the middle and wrap the meat around it. This can be fiddly but just ensure its covering the egg. Once wrapped around you can mould it in your hand.
  3. Repeat with all the eggs, setting aside on a plate when done.
  4. Place the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs each in their own bowl.
  5. One at a time, roll the eggs in flour then egg, and finally a good coating of breadcrumbs, moulding in your hand (you can be rougher here) until coated well.
  6. Repeat to finish and set aside on a plate and refrigerate until needed.

Step 3 – Cooking the Scotch eggs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Take a large saucepan and add the oil. Heat on a high heat until hot. Test it by adding a piece of cubed bread. If it sizzles and begins to turn golden, the oil is ready. You’re aiming for 180°C so if you have a thermometer use this. (Alternatively if you have a deep fat fryer, heat to 180)
  3. In bathes of 3-4 (depending on your pan size) lower the eggs into the oil and fry for about 4 minutes by which time your egg should be golden and cooked through. TIP: If you can’t gauge the temperature of your oil and they turn golden too fast before the meat is cooked (like mine) remove from the oil when golden and place in a baking tray and finsih cooking in the oven for about 15minutes.
  4. Drain each egg on kitchen towel to absorb any oil and leave to cool

When ready to serve, scatter with sea salt, slice in two if you wish or if you can manage, each whole dunking into some decedent lemon mayonnaise before hand!

 

 

Ultimate Cornbread

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his recipe comes directly from Brad McDonald’s book ‘Deep South‘. After being lucky enough to dine in his awesome restaurant ‘The Lockhart’ before he packed up to open ‘Shotgun BBQ‘ I experienced the jaw dropping sights and tastes of his signature cornbread. Basted in thick honeyed butter bubbling at the sides in its case iron dish it was brought to the table disguised as a lemon drizzle!? And boy did it taste good. Its a bit simpler in flavour (and perhaps authenticity?) than my own signature version which you can find here which is full of sweetcorn for texture, chilli for spice and a bit of cheeky cheddar for tang. Whilst both have their own style, the winner here is the buttery honeyed topping. Slatered warm with salted butter this makes the perfect accompaniment to a hot bowl of soured cream drizzled chilli or simply a bucket of homemade fresh guacamole as I did here.

Having not yet tried Shotgun BBQ it will be my next fit spot…

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I used a mini retro loaf tin to create these cute mini loaves perfect for individual portions. However I would also recommend using small loaf tin, one large one, or failing that a muffin tin! This recipe would make about 8 small muffins I think. But feel free to use any tin available – the depth will just mean the cooking tin will vary but if you stick to 25 minutes or so first starters and a knife inserted into the centre is clean then voila!

Ingredients

  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g polenta/cornmeal
  • 25g soft light brown sugar
  • 4g baking powder
  • Large pinch salt
  • 225ml milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 20g butter, melted
  • 30g lard
  • 50g unsalted butter & 50g runny honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and place a small knob of lard in each tin
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl
  3. Add the wet and mix well to combine
  4. Spoon into the muffin tins/loaf tin (allowing room for rise)
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden. A knife inserted into the middle should come out clean
  6. While they are baking, combine the honey and butter for the topping in a saucepan and melt to combine
  7. When the loaves are ready baste in the hot honey butter and then return to the oven for a few minutes
  8. After this time, remove from the oven and serve immediately, hot and buttery!

I served mine with guacamole  – see here but a chilli would also go down a treat.

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Marmite Bread

Jess - Marmite bread

 

L

ove it or hate it bread perhaps would be a more fitting name? Now if like my family you’re partial to the odd toasted crumpet with marmite then you’ll understand the inspiration behind this bread. A rival to match an English muffin with soft poached egg is an airy warm and marmite covered crumpet with its pillowy wholes allowing the unctuous yolk to ooz through the gaps. So why not make use it in bread?

And trust me, if you’re a ‘love it’ personality then simply the act of toasting a cheeky slice of this hearty bread invites an aroma throughout the house that will have your most mature cheddar running from the fridge, willing at mercy to be sliced and lathered onto this tempting creation…..don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

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Makes 1 loaf

  • 480g brown wholemeal strong bread flour
  • 40g molasses
  • 7g dried yeast
  • Large pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp marmite
  1. Start by combining the flour, a large pinch of salt and the molasses in the bowl of a food processor and blend until combined.
  2. Measure out 100ml of warm water and mix in the yeast, whisking until combined and fully dissolved.
  3. Add this to the mixer with another 200ml of water or so and mix until just combined.
  4. Add the marmite and pulse until incorporated
  5. Tip the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead for a good 10-15 minutes until the dough is springy, elastic and soft.
  6. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and place in a warm place until double in size (around 2 hours). I like to turn the oven on low before beginning the recipe then switch it off when its warm and this way it creates an ideal environment for the first prove.
  7. Once doubled in size, turn out onto a floured surface and knock out the air. Knead again for about 5 minutes before shaping into an oblong and placing in a greased loaf tin. Prove again until doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180°C when ready to bake and bake the loaf for about 35-40 minutes until cooked and hollow sounding when tapped on the base. Leave to cool before slicing.

You can certainly be creative on the options for serving this bread! Toasted topped with smashed avocado and a soft poached egg as done here, or for a more decadent choice butter the outside of two slices and fill with grated mature cheddar and griddle in a pan or on a panini maker until toasted and melted.

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Leek and Parmesan Arancini, Smokey Bacon Mayonnaise

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Jess - Leek Parmesan Aracncini 2

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hen I first say James Martin make this mayonnaise my mind immediately jumped to all the decedent foods it could accompany. Surprisingly it only briefly lingered on the monstrously unhealthily nature of mayonnaise and bacon!? But once in a while, a Saturday evening needs a decadent dish lovingly and patiently made – think of it as a culinary pat on the back for a hard working week. James Martin is one of those humble chefs that I trust when it comes to recipes (not to mention our matching appreciation for the use of butter) so all that was needed here was something to accompany it. One of my favourite staple flavour combinations being leek and bacon and a need for something fried and crispy for this gourmet mayo, arancini sprang to mind. In preparation for my up and coming supper club where arancini feature as my starter I thought a little more practice couldn’t go amiss. So out came the rice, butter and wooden spoon, the Italian red was decanted and dinner was set…

Serve with a lovely lemony rocket salad to cut through the oil.

Makes 15 large arancini (2-3/person)

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 70g butter
  • 200g Alborio rice
  • 1 large glass dry white wine
  • 1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • 5 leeks
  • 50g grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten well
  • 100g plain flour
  • Sunflower/Vegetable oil for deep frying (About 1 litre)

Arancini

  1. Begin by making the risotto either in the morning before eating these or a day ahead of when you want to serve them.
  2. Melt 20g of the butter in a large saucepan or high sided frying pan with a teaspoon of olive oil.
  3. When hot, sweat the onion and garlic, lid on, for about 5-10 minutes until softened and translucent. You shouldn’t allow it to colour.
  4. Turn up the heat and add the rice. Fry for a few minutes until the rice starts to turn translucent. While the pan is still hot, add the wine and allow to bubble vigorously and absorb into the rice. Immediately turn the heat down to a medium low.
  5. Now add the hot stock ladle by ladle once each liquid addition has been absorbed. Between each spoonful allow to bubble at a very gentle simmer. Cook the rice in the stock in this way for about 20 minutes testing the rice after about 18 minutes by which time it should be soft with a slight bite but not mushy.
  6. Meanwhile while the rice is cooking fry the leeks. Melt 20g of the butter in a frying pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Top and tail the leeks then slice in half and chop on the diagonal into thin slices. Fry on a medium heat with plenty of salt and pepper for about 10 minutes until soft and just starting to caramelise and colour. Set aside once done.
  7. Once the rice is cooked and most of the stock is absorbed you should still be aiming for a loose consistency. Remove from the heat and add plenty of seasoning to taste and then then tip in the leeks. Add the grated zest of the lemon and the juice of half.
  8. Add the parmesan and the rest of the butter and place a lid onto the pot and set aside for 2-3 minutes. After this time remove the lid and stir in the melted cheese to combine.
  9. Tip the risotto onto a shallow dish/baking tray levelling it out thinly to allow it to cool quickly and place in the fridge to chill.Jess - Leek Aracncini
  10. Once chilled, take just bigger than golf ball sized spoonfuls (or smaller depending on how you want to serve them. I suggest one large one each as a starter or 2-3 for a main) and roll into rounds. Arrange your flour, egg and breadcurmbs into 3 bowls in front of you. Dip the risotto balls first into the flour then the beaten egg and finally coat in breadcurmbs and place each on a plate. Continue until you have used up all the rice. This should make about 15 balls.
  11. Place in the fridge until ready to fry.
  12. When ready, heat a saucepan full of the vegetable oil (deep enough to immerse the arancini by at least half) or turn on your deep fat fryer. You will know when it is hot enough as a cube of bread added to the oil will sizzle and turn golden in a matter of minutes.
  13. When the oil is hot enough, fry the aracini, turning as needed, until golden brown and crisp all over. Once golden, remove using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Keep warm while you fry the rest.

Jess - Leek Parmesan Aracncini Mayo

Smokey Bacon Mayonnaise

  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature (this is important to prevent it splitting)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 6 rashers streaky smoked bacon, chopped into pieces
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 350 ml rapeseed or olive oil
  1. Begin by frying the bacon in a hot pan ahead of time until really crisp. Set aside in a bowl with the fat juices and cool in the fridge completely.
  2. Next, place the eggs yolks, mustard, juice of 1/2 the lemon and the white wine vinegar in the bowl of a food processor and set the motor running.
  3. In a very steady stream add the oil. The more slowly you add it the less chance it will split. The mixture will begin to thicken the more oil you add. Continue until you have combined all the oil and the consistency is thick and smooth.
  4. Next add some freshly cracked pepper and tip in the bacon pieces. Pulse until mixture to combine the bacon.
  5. Spoon into a small serving bowl and cover at room temperature until ready to use.

WINE: By no means do you need to fork out on an extravagant Italian bottle such as the below ‘Gaja Conteisa’ that I devoured these with. But there is something quite ironic about a greasy and mayonnaise laden ball of buttery risotto with a Super Tuscan that I won’t lie….went down like a house on fire. Italy, you made my weekend.

Jess - Leek Parmesan Aracncini Gaja_

 

Urfa Chilli Salmon, Polenta Chips, Smashed Avocado

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ts been a long and draining week at work and with Saturday looming and the pressure to make the most of it I could think of nothing better than a casual blogging session in the kitchen to calm the stresses from the week and allow my mind to wonder onto the creative and less challenging. The biggest decision in this recipe was how big to cut the chips!? I went for big naturally.

On reflection, this dish is essentially Mexican fish and chips!? And its for the chilli lovers as its a spicy one so make sure you have a nice cooling beer to hand or at least some soured cream. My inspiration for this one was the cheeky jar of Ottolenghi’s ‘Urfa chilli flakes’ (see here) I received as a gift. What the ‘urfa’ are those you might ask!? Well they are a Turkish medium heat chilli with a smoky flavour. A lovely deep and purposeful taste great for barbecued meats, oily fish, roasted vegetables or chilli con carne. I used them here to coat some moist and succulent salmon fillets. Accompanied with some spicy crisp polenta chips and some smashed green avocado I felt like I bought a bit of Mexico to London. Hopefully one day I can bring a bit of London to Mexico!?

Serves 2

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 tsp urfa chilli flakes
  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • Large bunch coriander, chopped
  • Large bunch basil, chopped
  • 1/2 green chilli, finely chopped
  • Juice 1/2 – 1 lime
  • 100g fast cook polenta
  • 500ml chicken stock or water
  • 1 heaped tsp chilli flakes
  • Knob butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sunflower oil

Jess - Urfa Salmon 3Jess - Polenta Chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Oil a bowl/small baking tray or something appropriate to hold your polenta in and allow it to set before cutting into chips.
  2. Start with the polenta. Bring the stock or water to the boil in a saucepan. Mix the polenta, chilli flakes and some salt and pepper in a bowl. In a gentle stream add this polenta to the stock in the saucepan, whisking all the time and turn the heat down to a medium low instantly. Whisk continuously for about 5-7 minutes until the polenta thickens and bubbles. Add the butter and mix in well.
  3. Pour the mixture into the oil lined tray spreading it out into an even layer of about 2inch thickness. Quickly chill by placing in the freezer for 5-10 minutes and then in the fridge and cooling completely until set.
  4. Meanwhile mix the urfa chilli flakes and some salt and pepper with a tablespoon of oil. Rub this on the salmon fillets and leave to marinade at room temperature.
  5. Next, cut the avocado into chunks and use a fork to mash into a chunky paste. Season and then add the spring onion, herbs, lime juice and combine into a chunky paste. Check the taste and add more lime if needed.
  6. When the polenta has set, turn it out onto a chopping board dusted with lots of excess polenta. Chop the set polenta (which should be the texture of halloumi!?) into chip sized chunks and roll in the excess polenta.
  7. Heat a frying pan on a medium high heat and fry the chips in a few tablespoons of sunflower oil until golden brown all over making sure they don’t stick to the pan or catch. Once crispy remove from the pan, scatter with flaky sea salt and set aside to keep warm.
  8. In the same pan cook the salmon on a high heat skin side down for about 1 minutes to crisp the skin. Turn to char the flesh side for about another minute or so before placing in the oven skin side down to finish cooking for no more than 5 minutes to ensure it remains succulent and just pink.
  9. To serve, top the chips with the salmon and spoon on a generous quenelle of avocado. Scatter with extra coriander and chilli flakes if you like

Have some beer or soured cream to hand…

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Baked Hummus

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ealthy’ food could not be more in our face at the moment with celebrity chefs in the media, tortuous instagram or yet another cookbook launch. While some are giving out a positive message on the whole I can’t help but feel that those that are taking it to the extreme are frankly just quite annoying? What ever happened to a balanced diet I don’t know. Some fads I have kindly embraced – avocado toast for example with lashings of lemon and maldon salt, but at this time of year the thought of a raw pizza (whatever that is…a cracker I think!?) washed down with a kale and spinach juice sends icy and fun-killing shivers down my spine. What with January being plagued with this health theme and matched with the chilly winter weather we’ve been experiencing lately I am craving warmth from soups, stews and slow baked dishes which by all means can be healthy too.

Take the humble, versatile and much loved hummus. Warm and familiar when deep fried as falafel, there is nothing stopping it being baked and devoured ‘fondue style’? And yes, you are more than welcome to imagine you are enjoying a fondue….just with far less milk, fat and cheese hangovers. Eat as you would fondue or enjoy smothered on your favourite toasted bread.

A delicious, healthy adaptation for the winter weather.

Serves about 4

  • 1 can drained chickpeas (250g approx)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds (dry toasted and then ground)
  • 1 teaspoon spice mix (see here – optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp thick yoghurt
  • Seasoning
  • Handful pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place all the ingredients (except the pine nuts and butter) into a food processor and blend until thoroughly smooth. You may need to scrape down the sites a few times.
  3. Add more yoghurt or oil to vary the constancy to your liking.
  4. Spoon the hummus into a small ovenproof serving dish or bowl
  5. Heat a large frying pan and dry toast the pine nuts until golden. Add the butter and remove from the what while it browns and melts.
  6. Top the hummus with the buttery nuts and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  7. The mixture will warm and turn golden. If you use a thin consistency it may even rise a little.
  8. Serve with crudités, warm toasted pitta breads, rye bread etc.

This is lovely served warm as a shared starter with crudités or warm pittas. Alternatively as a light lunch I had mine smothered on lemony avocado on toasted rye bread and sprinkled with flaky salt…..

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Pistachio and Feta Dip

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ot another dip I hear you say? And not another Moroccan and middle Eastern themed recipe. Yes. Please continue. A boozy and wonderful dinner party in the Wiltshire countryside this weekend was enhanced as it naturally would be by the addition of a Middle Eastern themed feast! And gracious guests of course! And the weather seemed to be on it best behaviour for most of the time rather suitably while we guzzled bubbly Saumur and nibbles. The downpour and lightening only theatrically threatened to steal the attention late into the evening when the food had already stolen my guests hearts. It reminded me a little of my recent venture to Morocco where a hearty downpour after a heavy humid day was still not enough to spoil the show once the hearty tanginess graced our dining tables.

Kicking off with a round (or two) of sparkling Saumur, my new and cheaper favourite alternative to Champagne, to set the tone, this cheesy spiced Turkish/Bulgarian dip went down a treat. A lovely alternative to the usual humus this is perfect with some mini ‘olive oil cracker tongues’ (see here) adapted with the addition of some sweet smoked paprika and rolled smaller and bite sized.

While the middle East is always a source of natural inspiration for me, both these recipes were inspired by a new cookbook purchase that has weakened my already full and bursting cookbook shelf. Bought on a whim having been won over in a trace by the initial sparkling textured cover and once in side, by the beautiful photos and recipe combinations that steal my foodie heart. Adapated slighty but quite welcomely without much amending. Persiana, Sabrina Ghayour. A delightful book for any cookbook collector, food lover or photography buff.

Serves 8 as a nibble with drinks

  • 100g pistachios, shelled
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 200g feta cheese
  • Handful chopped dill
  • Large bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • zest 1 lemon, juice of 1/2
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp dukka (see here) to garish (optional)
  1. Blend the pistachios and oil in a processor for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until you get a smooth but rustic texture. Season to taste
  3. Spoon onto a shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle with any leftover dill leaves, the dukka and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Serve with olive oil crackers.

Dips and drinks were followed by a slow roasted, shredded and falling off the bone leg of  lamb spiced to the nines with Moroccan love. Zesty lime yoghurt and cumin dipping salt on the side of a fresh allotment picked raw vegetable salad….

Serves 8-10

  • 1 large leg of lamb on the bone (2.5kg approx)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
  • Handful coriander leaves to garnish

Cumin dipping salt

  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp flaky sea salt
  • Pinch cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a large roasting tin.
  2. Mark deep incisions over the lamb with a sharp knife
  3. In a small bowl, place the butter, spiced, thyme, and garlic and blend into a paste. Rub the paste over the land and into the incisions.
  4. Place the lamb in the tin and pour in 1 large glass white wine. Cover with foil and cook for 4 hours.
  5. During this time, baste the lamb with any juices every 40 minutes or so.
  6. After 4 hours, turn the oven up to 190°C. Remove the foil and finish the cooking for the final 1 hour uncovered to brown the top and crisp the skin.
  7. Meanwhile, for the dipping salt, dry fry the cumin seeds in a hot frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and grind. Add the salt and cinnamon and grind together lightly. Tip into a small ramekin or bowl.
  8. After 5 hours, remove the lamb from the over. Cover with foil and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
  9. When ready to serve, carve the lamb which should tenderly fall from the bone. Carve into chunky pieces and slice the herbed skin. Serve on a large warmed serving platter, scattered with coriander leaves.
  10. Serve e.g some turmeric and cumin roasted new potatoes, fresh raw green salad and a limey creamy yoghurt.

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Pea and Avocado Dip with Sprouted Olive Oil Crackers

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irstly I think I need to explain the mystery behind the ‘Sprouted Olive Oil Crackers’. As if the wholesome organic produce that Rude Health so stylishly provide wasn’t tempting enough, they have developed a range of ‘sprouted flours’. Nothing to do with sprouts, nothing to do with flowers…..These flours basically contain a grain that has been allowed to sprout and germinate in an environment which stimulates enzyme activity and allows for the transformation of wonderful nutrients. Soaked in water, the grains sprout and release nutrients and once slow fired and and stone ground these are captured inside these tasty flours ready for your baking purposes. Nutty, wholesome and devine, they can be used in baking like for like to add a fantastic texture and flavour layer. Here I used the flour in some lovely giant tongue shaped crackers which I often make for dinner parties as elaborate dipping utensils!

They are amazing served with dips and spreads. I’ve made these in the past but never with sprouted flour and the baking smell alone as they crisped away in the safety of the oven was enough to inspire a healthy dip to accompany.

Makes about 15 dependant on size (adapted from Ottolenghi)

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a large tray with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl or food processor combine all the ingredients except for the salt until you have  affirm dough.
  3. Leave to rest for 30 minutes or so in the fridge.
  4. When ready to cook, take walnut sized pieces of dough (about 15g) and roll on a floured surface into tongue or oval shaped crackers, paper thin if you can!
  5. Repeat and place on your lined backing tray. Drizzle well with olive oil and scatter with the sea salt.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 6 minutes or until crisp, golden and filling the kitchen with wonderful smells.
  7. Leave to cool on a wire rack before enjoying with a dip or choice.

Pea and Avocado Dip (Serve 4-5 as a starter/nibble)

I saw a version of this recipe in a recent Waitrose magazine. Having been invited to a last minute impromptu BBQ I felt I needed a culinary offering which is where this speedy dip was created. To my disappointment this said recipe wasn’t particularly inspiring on the taste delivery. It was a bit bland. However, with a complete recipe makeover and the addition of some forage in the pantry flavour staples I had a tasty vibrant dip in no time to accompany my sprouted olive oil crackers. Knocked out in minutes I just had time to grab a bottle of chilled white before heading out into the sun….

  • 150 peas, defrosted or fresh
  • 1 lime, juice
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 15g pistachios
  • 1 avocado, chopped into chunks
  • 1 tsp spice mix (see here)
  • 60g feta cheese
  • Handful mint leaves
  • Chives, dill and chilli oil to garnish
  1. In a food processor, please the peas, lime juice, garlic, pistachios, creme fraiche, spice mix and mint. Pulse and blend until the mixture turns into a paste. You may need to scarp the sides down as you go.
  2. Add plenty of seasoning and then add the feta cheese and avocado.
  3. Blend again to form a smooth paste. If you like it a bit thinner, add some olive oil.
  4. Serve scattered with chopped dill and chives and drizzled with chilli oil

Jess - Peaavocadodip2

 

Boy Beer Bread

 

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I decided to re-name this recipe (courtesy of Gordon Ramsay and the local paper) ‘Boy Beer Bread’ because I think it will satisfy some certain requirements. Beer (check), quick to make (check), carb-laden (check) and great with bacon (check). It is not however filled with naked ladies….. sorry (I think?) It is only bread. So, now I’ve crudely stereotyped the male population, here’s the recipe…

Firstly, I will add that its very much like a soda bread in texture and taste. Soda bread usually rises based on the bicarbonate and buttermilk creating some lovely air bubbles but here the beer was enough to make a risen loaf. I was a little worried so added a pinch of bicarb too but Ramsey doesn’t feel the need so feel free to leave it out.

  • 175g self raising flour
  • 75g wholemeal raising flour
  • 250ml beer/lager
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • Milk to brush the top
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Place the flour, bicarb and salt into a bowl. Add the beer, mixing while you pour until combined with few lumps (it will be runny though don’t panic)
  3. Fill the loaf tin with the mixture and bake for 30 minutes. After this, brush with milk and scatter with a little flour. remove from the tin and place directly on the wire rack in the oven and cook for a future 10 minutes or so until cooked through, and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
  4. Leave to cool.

I suggest serving slathered with salted butter, ketchup and greasy smoked bacon or cheese…oh and with beer, no?