Tuesday, 28 March 2017 - , , , , , , , 0 comments

RECIPE : Warm Sumac Salmon with Rocket, Sweet Pickled Cucumber and Pomegranate Salad


This stunningly beautiful dish is an exotic and exciting fusion of flavours, textures and visual delights. The soft tones of pink and green compliment each other to the extent that it really has to be appreciated before consumption!
The soft, warm, citrusy salmon sits on a bed of sweet, crunchy pickled cucumber and peppery rocket, whilst the pomegranate seeds pop on the roof of your mouth releasing a sweet, tangy juice.
At 7sp/6pp/approx.350kcal, its a lovely lunch or light supper dish.


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You will need:(per portion)


One 130g salmon fillet
Sumac (see post; CUPBOARD LOVE:SUMAC)
Fresh rocket leaves
Pickled cucumber(See post; RECIPE:Pickled Vegetables served with Chargrilled Beef)
Half a fresh pomegranate
Chopped fresh herbs- parsley, chives etc
Black Pepper
Lime juice


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 Place some greaseproof paper onto a piece of foil and spray with a little Frylight sunflower oil. Pop the salmon fillet on the paper and sprinkle liberally with sumac and freshly chopped parsley, or any seasoning of your choice. Finish with some freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lime juice.
Wrap the salmon in the foil making a secure parcel. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 190 degrees centigrade.


***




While the salmon is baking, make up the salad. Arrange a generous handful of rocket into the serving bowl. Slice the pickled cucumber into slender chunks and de-seed the pomegranate.
I always use Nigella's method; Cut the pomegranate in half. Put the cut side of the fruit into the palm of your hand and hit the outside of the fruit quite firmly with a wooden spoon over a bowl. The seeds fall through your fingers into the bowl leaving the inedible parts in your hand to be discarded.


***




Once cooked, remove the salmon from the oven and allow to cool a little. Gently break the salmon by hand into large, chunky flakes on top of the salad. Sprinkle on some more sumac (the flavour is more pungent uncooked).
Dress the salad with some of the sweet pickled cucumber marinade. Add some more freshly chopped herbs and top with the pomegranate seeds. 


***


Simply divine.


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HANDY TIP


If you don't have any homemade pickled cucumber, don't be tempted to use shop-bought ones as they are far too strong and acidic. Just slice or julienne some fresh cucumber and toss in some chinese rice wine vinegar sweetened with some artificial sweetener and seasoned with white pepper.




PRINT RECIPE HERE
Wednesday, 22 March 2017 - , , , , , , 0 comments

MOTHER'S DAY : Blueberry, Vanilla & Lavender Cakes with Rose Creme Fraiche


I came up with this pretty little tea time treat especially for Mother's Day.
It's very simple to make, so you can really go to town on the decorations.

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These fat-free sponge cakes are fantastic- the way they are baked means that the delicious blueberry filling is incorporated into the cakes.
I've added some vanilla and lavender to give a sweet floral hint...then made a rose-flavoured creme fraiche to serve with them.
It's Springtime on a plate, scattered with edible rose petals.

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This works out to an unbelievable 4sp/2pp/approx.130kcal per portion-this includes a cake and a portion of creme fraiche.
(Two portions is 8sp/5pp/260kcal)

***


YOU WILL NEED : (Makes 4 servings)

1 medium egg
25g caster sugar
25g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon edible lavender
(I bought mine in the herb/spice section at Waitrose)
100g blueberries

*

120g reduced fat creme fraiche
2-3 teaspoons rose essence
2-3 teaspoons artificial granular sweetener
Edible dried rose petals
(I bought these in Waitrose too!)
12 fresh raspberries

***

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4


Choose a muffin tray or one like this that will make 8 individual-sized cakes.
(You need 2 per finished cake).
Cupcake cases will work too if you don't have a tray. Mist with Frylight oil to prevent sticking.


Distribute the blueberries evenly, forming a flat layer on the base of each shape.


Whisk the egg and sugar together. An electric hand whisk is best for this. It will take a few minutes and needs to increase in volume by 3 or 4 times.


You will know when it is ready because the mixture will become pale and frothy. When you lift the whisk out it should leave a light trail.


Sift the flour into the bowl. Add the lavender and vanilla extract.


Fold in the flour very gently using a metal spoon so that you don't knock out all the air you created with the whisk. Make sure the flour is incorporated well.


Distribute the cake mixture equally between each portion. You only need a small amount just to cover the blueberries.


Pop into the preheated oven.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. This will vary according to whether you have used a metal muffin tray, paper cases or a silicone mould so check carefully. The cakes should be golden and firm to touch when cooked. They will be quite flat on top.
Leave to cool slightly in the tray.


While the cakes are cooling, mix the rose essence and sweetener into the creme fraiche. Play around with the flavours until they suit your personal taste.


Once cooled, run a knife around the edge of the cakes and lift out carefully. The blueberries will be very soft underneath.


Pop each one sponge-side down on a wire cooling rack.



Any little remnants of blueberry that get left behind can be scooped out and popped back onto the cakes. 


I just love these vibrant purples and pinks that form! The smell is warm, fruity and vanilla-laden...home baking at its best.

***

To Serve


If you like my little extra touches, cut some pretty string to decorate the cakes.
(They will hold together beautifully on their own if you don't want to use string).

I have a real thing for vintage plates and teacups too-especially mis-matched ones, where each person has a different collection of patterns and colours.
This kind of theme lends itself well to Mothers Day. I'm very lucky as I've inherited all sorts of vintage china from my great aunt. I really treasure them and use them all the time.


Put one cake fruit-side-up onto your serving plate on top of the string.


Place a second one on top fruit-side-down.
This makes your little mini self-filled cake!


Tie a bow around the cake with the string.


If you're feeling really decadent, you could thread a fresh flower through the bow to finish. If you make these later in the year, you could add a sprig of fresh lavender instead to continue the flavour theme.


Now take some fresh raspberries and place 3  in the base of each of your bowls or teacups.


Divide the rose creme fraiche equally between each portion (30g each). Dollop on top of the raspberries then sprinkle with a few dried rose petals.


Finally scatter a few more rose petals onto the plate.
Serve as a delicious, healthy alternative to a cream tea-so feminine and fun.

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A token of love.

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TIPS

If you don't like the floral elements, or find it hard to get hold of the ingredients, just use some lemon zest, poppy seeds, orange essence, lemon curd-whatever appeals to you.

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You could put the flavoured creme fraiche inside the cakes between the layers of blueberries, instead of serving on the side.

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You could multiply this recipe and make two large cakes to sandwich together.
(You could still tie string around individual slices!)

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This would be a lovely Valentines idea too.

***


Monday, 27 February 2017 - , , , , , , , , 0 comments

RECIPE : Creamy Smoked Haddock & Leek Pancakes topped with Chorizo ‘Breadcrumbs’



It's easy to forget how delicious savoury pancakes can be. One of my favourite flavour combinations is smoked haddock and leek with chorizo, so I decided to combine all three ingredients with some WeightWatchers thick cream to make an amazing creamy filling for these pancakes. I've blitzed the chorizo into tiny 'breadcrumbs' and fried them until crispy to make a fabulous sprinkle topping.

This recipe works out to 10sp/9pp/approx 400kcal per serving
(for 2 filled pancakes)

***

RECIPE : Serves 4
(2 pancakes per serving)

For the pancakes; 

125g plain flour
1 medium egg
125ml skimmed milk


For the Filling;

3 medium leeks
400g smoked haddock fillets, skin removed
4 tablespoons skimmed milk
120g Weight Watchers West Country Thick Cream
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
fresh dill
black pepper
1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with a little cold water

For the Chorizo ‘Breadcrumbs’;

80g chorizo sausage, diced

***


Make the pancake batter by sifting the flour. Make a well and add the egg. Whisk together, gradually adding the milk until you have a smooth batter.
Make 8 small-medium pancakes in a hot pan using low fat cooking spray.


Slice the leeks finely and fry gently for around 10 minutes in a little low fat cooking spray until soft.
Cut the smoked haddock into small cubes. Add to the leeks with 4 tablespoons skimmed milk. Pop a lid on the pan and poach gently for about 5 minutes until the fish is cooked.


While the fish is cooking, pop the chorizo into a food processor and blitz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Fry in a pan with no added oil until crispy.


When the fish is cooked, add the Weight Watchers cream, wholegrain mustard and a few sprigs of dill. Season to taste with black pepper. Add the cornflour to thicken the sauce. Mix very gently so that the fish doesn’t break up too much.


Serve by adding the creamy fish sauce into the warm pancakes and sprinkle with chorizo breadcrumbs before rolling up. Allow 2 filled pancakes per person.

***

Savour the flavour.

***








Wednesday, 8 February 2017 - , , , , , , , , 0 comments

RECIPE : Houmous


Houmous has to be one of my favourite 'go to' foods for snacking and light meals-it's so tasty and nutritious too.
For some reason I've always preferred shop-bought but now I've perfected my own recipe I realise it's so much nicer if you make your own! It's cheaper too and makes a large quantity so goes much further than an expensive supermarket pot. 
It is the easiest thing in the world to make as long as you have some form of food processor...in 2 minutes you have this impressive pot of wonder!

***

My recipe works out to 18sp/approx.680kcal for the WHOLE amount. This will easily serve 8 people as a dip working out to 2sp/approx.85kcal per portion. 
(You could weigh the whole amount then divide into individual ramekins for accurate portioning).

***

YOU WILL NEED: 

 1 carton organic chickpeas
(230g drained weight-keep the water)

(I used the Tesco variety. I find for a few pence more the organic chickpeas taste less sour and are larger, but you can use any regular tin of chickpeas)

2 tablespoons tahini

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon garlic puree

2 teaspoons olive oil

black pepper to taste

***


Drain the chickpeas and keep the water on one side-you may like to add a little at the end to adjust the texture/ consistency of the houmous.
Pop the chickpeas into the food processor with the tahini.

The water from chickpeas is known as aquafaba. This is a useful ingredient in vegan recipes as it can be used as a replacement for egg whites for coating foods before covering in breadcrumbs, or even whisked to make vegan meringues!


Add the juice of a whole lemon.


Add the garlic puree and black pepper.


Once all the ingredients are in the food processor, pulse-blend until the houmous is your desired consistency. I like mine really smooth but you could leave it quite coarse.


Have a taste. This is really important-you might prefer yours more lemony, or with a little more tahini or garlic...just remember to add any extra smartpoints/calories if you do this.

Add the olive oil, blitz again then mix in a little of the chickpea water if required, mixing thoroughly until it is just how you like it.


Serve with vast amounts of carrot and cucumber sticks!


Try serving with tortilla chips-just add the neccessary smartpoints/kcal.

***

TIPS
Just remember, you could add fresh garlic, herbs, or any flavourings you really like. Experiment with curry powder, chilli and lime, fresh coriander, add beetroot for a vibrant pink houmous!

*

SERVING SUGGESTION


One of my favourite meals is to serve the houmous with falafel and pita bread;

Simply toast a pita bread(4sp),load with 4 tablespoons houmous (2sp),spinach leaves, 2 hot,crispy Cauldron falafel (2sp each)
2 teaspoons tahini (2sp)and a drizzle of sriracha chilli sauce.
Completely amazing!

***

Houmous Happiness

***


Friday, 25 November 2016 - , , , , , , , , , 3 comments

RECIPE : Parsnip & Lemon Soup with Apple Vermicelli


This time of year we're all looking for interesting new flavours for our staple soups. My parsnip and lemon combo is completely delicious - thick, warming and refreshing all at the same time! The apple vermicelli adds a sweet crunch which really compliments the thick richness of the parsnip. The lemon adds a gentle tang.

It's perfect for a NoCount/Filling & Healthy day and also only 3sp/2pp/approx 130kcal per serving.


You could turn this into a really show-stopping dish by topping the soup with a Roast Parsnip & Apple Skewer
(Click HERE for recipe)
This would make a really fabulous starter for Christmas day and adds another 3sp/2pp/approx.110kcal per portion or is suitable for a NoCount/Filling & Healthy day.

***

YOU WILL NEED : (Serves 4)

400g parsnips
2 medium onions
1 clove garlic
3 low salt Oxo cubes
(chicken or vegetable)
1.5 litres water
juice of 1 lemon
black pepper to taste

To serve:

30g Total 0% fat Greek yoghurt thinned with
2 teaspoons water
2 eating apples
sumac

optional; Roast Parsnip & Apple skewers

***


Chop the onion, garlic and parsnip. Add the water to the pan and bring to the boil.
Add the Oxo cubes and cook for around 30-40 minutes until the parsnip is very soft.
Blitz using a hand blender until you have a beautiful silky-smooth soup.


Add black pepper and the juice of up to one lemon according to your personal taste.


When ready to serve, peel the apples and cut into thin strips of 'vermicelli' using a julienne peeler or spiralizer. Make the strips as long as possible.


Mix the yoghurt with the water to thin until it is the consistency of single cream.


Pour the soup into serving bowls.
Gently spoon 5 or 6 blobs of the yoghurt onto the surface of the soup.


Using a bamboo skewer or cocktail stick, 'drag' the yoghurt mixture around in a circular motion to make an appealing design.


I trace it around three or four times to produce this pretty whispy effect.


Put a generous handful of the apple vermicelli in the centre then sprinkle with sumac for a spectacular finish.


If using the roasted parnip and apple skewers, lay the stick suspended over the soup as the crowning glory to this presentation.


Each recipient then pulls the contents of their skewer off their own stick and drops it into the hot soup to warm and soften, soaking up the delicious flavours.

***

Specsoupular!

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