My day always kicks off with a strong cup of coffee, it is my one vice that I simply can’t do without. I love the ritual of making it, packing the coffee grounds into my percolator and then waiting the five minutes for it to brew whilst the blissful aroma fills my kitchen. The only downside is that I have a tendency to gulp the coffee down in a matter of minutes before dashing out of the door to catch the train to work.
At the weekend when time is not of the essence a lazy brunch with lots of coffee is how I like to start my day before heading out to walk Oscar up on Wimbledon Common. The recipe below is a fantastic brunch option that is very simple to make and absolutely scrummy. If you are efficient it can be prepped and on your plate in under 10 minutes.
The key to this recipe is not over cooking your poached eggs so that the yolk is still runny when you cut into it and creates a beautifully rich sauce. In essence poaching an egg is very straight forward, however sometimes it takes a couple of tries to work out the timings. My tip for poaching an egg is to put a ¼ teaspoon of vinegar in the poaching water and make sure that the water is simmering whilst the egg is cooking not boiling.
This is a fantastic recipe full of vibrant colours that is a great way to start your weekend. Enjoy!
I have decided to share a recipe that helps to use up one ingredient that has a tendency to be leftover after Christmas – mincemeat. The recipe below is super easy and can be eaten either hot for pudding with a little cream, or is great served cold as a topping for porridge in the morning for breakfast.
The inspiration for this dish came after a visit to East Sussex to see some of my friends who swear by a bowl porridge for breakfast, topped with fresh apple, yogurt, seeds, nuts and honey before a days hunting, shooting or fishing. Not being one for porridge normally, I am well and truly converted and the recipe below is my take on their porridge toppings.
The simplicity of this recipe makes it an absolute gem, it takes a matter of minutes to prepare, the key really to this recipe is about how well you core the apple as you want to create a cavity that is large enough to pack all of the mincemeat in. As the apple cooks it becomes beautifully soft and infuses with the spices and flavours of the mincemeat.
This is definitely a recipe to try and is absolutely fantastic on these chilly winter days. Enjoy!
Pumpkins and squashes come in all manner of shapes and sizes and in my opinion they are one of the most versatile vegetables that you can cook with. The good news is right now they are in season and fairly cheap to buy! For today’s recipe I have decided to keep things simple and turn butternut squash into a wonderfully velvety soup which is perfect served in a mug for bonfire night or as a starter for a dinner party with crusty French bread on the side.
The vibrant orange colour of this soup is hugely inviting and has the effect of making you warmer simply by looking at it. However, it is the paprika in this recipe transforms this soup – turning it from the sweet delicate taste of the squash into a rich smoky flavour that makes you want to keep going back for more.
This is definitely a recipe to try this autumn/winter whilst butternut squash is in season and at its best. The soup freezes well so can be made up in large quantities and squirrelled away until you need it. Enjoy!
My sister-in-law set me a challenge to develop a cake that is suitable for my nephew, Leo. Leo is 8 months old and a truly happy baby who I am pleased to say seems to love his food! My brother and sister-in-law are in the process of weaning Leo at the moment and are following the ‘baby led weaning‘ method. Baby led weaning is a fairly new concept to me, but strikes me as a sensible way of introducing a baby to food. Put simply baby led weaning is the where you give food to a baby and they feed themselves. So far as I can tell one of the major advantages is that they eat what you eat (within reason) and subject to a couple of basic principles to ensure that your baby’s diet has a very limited amount of salt and sugar.
Now then back to the challenge, to develop a cake suitable for baby led weaning. My sister-in-law asked me to create a cake that did not contain refined sugar. My first thought was what about using honey, however after a bit of research it became clear that this would not be a suitable substitute on this occasion as the general consensus is not to introduce honey to a baby’s diet until they are a year old. Not being a fan of sweeteners I set my mind to what I could use as an alternative. My solution – dates and banana pureed in a little boiling water. Using that as a sugar substitute I tired a couple of different recipes. The first attempt resulted in a dense but very moist sponge more like a muffin. The second attempt is the one I am going to share here as it produced a much lighter fluffier sponge that rose beautifully. What I should point out it that I made cupcakes instead of a cake as it was a better portion size for a baby. The other benefit of cooking them this is it means that you can freeze them individually and use them gradually rather than worry about them going stale.
I suspect that you are wondering what it tasted like – unsurprisingly it is nowhere near as sweet as a typical cake but as mentioned it has a lovely light texture. I asked my family for their thoughts on the cupcake and the comments were as follows “Where’s the jam?” and “Any chance of some cream with this?” I think these responses boil down partly to the fact that instinctively they expected something much sweeter and secondly that it is unlike me to serve a cake without icing. So if you are making this for both adults and babies perhaps treat it a little like a scone for the adults and serve with a little jam and cream on the side so those of your family with a sweeter tooth can satisfy their cravings. Enjoy!
Tip: if you have bananas that are going black and you are thinking about throwing them away don’t! Peel and freeze them as they will be perfect for this recipe as it works best with ripe bananas.
The recipe below is a little gem as it can be prepped and ready to eat in just over 20 minutes and works well both as a main meal or starter. It is packed full of veggies meaning that you are well on your way to meeting your “5-A-Day”. I am not really the type of person to talk about ‘clean eating’ as I am of the view that if you make something from scratch more often than not it falls into that category – that being said, for those of you that are looking for a healthy option for supper this recipe is right up there!
There is no denying that this is a ‘rustic’ recipe – in other words the presentation lacks finesse. However, the variety of vegetables used in this dish means that your plate is filled with vibrant colours making it draw the eye and entice the eater. The flavours complement one another giving a delicate balance between sweet, salty and creamy. Ladies and Gents, if you like mushrooms then this is one to try as it is tasty no nonsense cooking. Enjoy!
One-pot cooking is incredibly convenient for washing up purposes but also in terms of ease. The idea with this style of cooking is that you can throw everything into a casserole dish, cover and leave to bubble away in the oven without needing to think about it until it is time to serve. The added bonus with this particular dish is longer you leave it the more succulent and tender the lamb becomes.
As this dish cooks, the juices from both the apricots and lamb seep into the sweet potato mixture turning it into a stuffing that is infused with all the flavours of the dish. I would recommend serving this meal with simple accompaniments for example fluffy couscous and steamed green vegetables so that you can relish the taste of the lamb. This recipe would be a good alternative to a traditional Sunday roast, or would make a great centrepiece for a dinner party. Enjoy!
Lately I have been finding that I am pushed for time in the evenings, as a result I have been resorting to meals that can be prepped and on the table in 20 minutes without too much fuss. The recipe below fits the bill perfectly as in the time that it takes to steam the rice the rest of the dish can be cooked.
This ‘sticky beef’ recipe uses dates to make sauce, giving it a wonderfully sweet caramelised flavour. The spice and warmth from the chilli helps cut through the sweetness of the dish, however if you find it too sugary for your palette then add 1 tbsp of light soy sauce to the dish at the end.
By stir-frying the vegetables quickly they will retain a slight crunch which contrasts the smoothness of the sauce and tenderness steak. Don’t feel that you have to use beef to make this recipe, it would work just as well with pork or chicken thighs cut into thin strips and cooked in a little oil before adding it to the sauce. Enjoy!