Thursday, 30 April 2020

MISO & WHITE CHOCOLATE COOKIES



I love cookies, in fact I think they are my favourite sweet treat alongside ice cream, and when Crème opened in London late last year I know I had found cookie heaven. I mean I even dedicated a whole blog post to their amazing cookies, only 4 flavours available but each huge cookie so amazing that people regularly queued for hours to get their hands on some. 

I was therefore more than gutted when they closed their doors because of Corona, particularly craving their iconic white chocolate and miso cookie at least once a week. Yes, miso and white chocolate sounds like an odd combination but I kid you not it made them just about the best cookie in the whole wide world, the flavours somehow working together to make it something quite special. 

While Crème as now started doing deliveries and pick ups,  I can't really justify ordering a box of 6 (their minimum order) for one small blonde so instead I tried to re-create their cookie magic at home! I came across a great recipe from The Anna Edit that claimed to be pretty close to the Crème ones which got me so excited I even invested in an electric whisk (as previously mentioned on here I am more of a cook than baker and that will never change) and WOW they did not disappoint. 

Of course nothing will ever be as good as a Crème one, God knows how they get them so fluffy, but the finished cookies were INCREDIBLE and trust me the white miso is a total game changer to cookie making. 

Even better the cookies are baked from frozen so that if you are by yourself you aren't left with 12 made cookies in a lockdown that doesn't lend itself to a lot of self discipline! I for one could not be happier to have them waiting in my freezer, ready to be baked and out of the oven and ready to eat in under half an hour! Even for a non baker like me I will 100% be making these regularly (and of course still make it to Crème when things return to normal!). Trust me, these are VERY good so get baking! 

Makes 12-14 (I halved quantities for myself but they will get eaten either way)

INGREDIENTS

  • 225g butter
  • 200g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 medium egg
  • 360g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tbsp white miso paste
  • 350g white chocolate, roughly chopped


METHOD

  • Mix the butter and sugar until fully combined, either in a stand-mixer or with a hand mixer. 
  • Once creamy, mix for a further five minutes until the mixture gets paler and light and fluffy.
  • Mix one egg at a time into the mixture. 
  • Add the flour, cornflour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and miso paste and mix until just combined – try not to over mix here.
  • Then add in the white chocolate and again mix until just combined. 
  • Spoon the mixture out onto a plate or baking tray into cookie size mounds (don’t compact them down!) and put in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
  • Remove quantity of cookies you are after and cook on a foil-lined baking tray for 8 minutes at 200 degrees celsius, then turn the tray around and bake for a further 3 minutes until the tops are light golden.
  • Allow to cool and firm up on the baking tray for at least 20 minutes, if not longer to let them set a little!

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

VEGAN + GLUTEN FREE PAELLA



On my continued quest to use this time in lockdown somewhat productively by cooking and making all those culinary things I have never got around to trying or have been too intimidated by to even attempt, this Saturday, inspired by my yummy potato tortilla that got me feeling all holiday like, I thought it was just about time to try my hand at making that iconic Spanish rice dish that is paella! 

Not a strictly traditional paella I will say, I don't eat chicken and chorizo and also couldn't be bothered to find good quality prawns, but this vegan version was an absolute dream and so vibrant in its flavours that no meat or fish or even dairy was missed! 

Indeed this paella recipe is bursting with wonderfully fragrant spices like saffron, smoked paprika and cayenne which immediately transport you into warmer climates and I loved the addition of green olives, mushrooms, capers, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, full of those umami elements, that made every mouth full of this an utter delight to eat and also surprisingly wholesome and healthy.

It was also super easy to make, apart from a bit of chopping, it's more of an assembly job, with the whole thing finished off in the oven, the rice coming out perfectly cooked and all ingredients fused into one tasty end result! 

This is the perfect dish for pleasing a crowd (or an ideal dinner for one if you scale back quantities) and a great way to spend an afternoon chopping away while sipping on a glass of wine. Indeed while it might be bleak weather for all of us this week (eek), why not bring a bit of Spanish sunshine into your kitchen with this great paella, after all a bit of escapism for sure is not going to do any of us any harm right now!


 Serves 4

INGREDIENTS 
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/3 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 150 grams mushrooms (any kind you can find)
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 courgettes sliced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups paella rice (I used this one from Waitrose)
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, halved
  • 100g sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers drained
  • 1/4 cup pitted green olives
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped


METHOD
  • In a small bowl, pour hot water over the saffron. Set aside for at least fifteen minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Move a rack to the bottom third of your oven.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium high heat. 
  • Add the onion and cook for just two minutes. 
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until just beginning to brown. 
  • Add the garlic and cook for just one minute. 
  • Add the zucchini slices and continue cooking for three minutes.
  • Add the spices: paprika, smoked hot paprika, cayenne, thyme and bay leaves, salt and pepper. 
  • Stir and cook to waken up the spice's flavours.
  • Add the rice and stir to coat. 
  • Add the white wine. 
  • Simmer until reduced to about half.
  • Add the vegetable broth, sun-dried tomatoes and the saffron with the water. 
  • Stir gently and bring the pan to a simmer. 
  • Cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Arrange the artichoke on top of the rice. 
  • Transfer the pan to the bottom third of the oven. 
  • This will prevent the top from overcooking and will give you a desirable bottom crust. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Scatter the capers and the olives over the top. 
  • Continue baking the paella for 10 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  • Remove the bay leaves. 
  • Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!

Saturday, 25 April 2020

PADELLA'S PICI CACIO E PEPE





While it may still be a while until we can return to our favourite restaurants (sob), its been great to see how many of them have been sharing recipes with their online communities to keep up spirits and allow us to re-create a little bit of dining out magic at home.

One of those restaurants has been Padella, undoubtedly London's most famous pasta restaurant which when it was open commanded hour long queues daily, people willing to wait to snag a table and enjoy their fresh pasta dishes. Pici, thick worm like pasta strands, cacio e Pepe, that classic emulsion of pepper, butter, parmesan and pasta water, is their most well known and insta famous dish and I was more than delighted that they not only shared the recipe on their Instagram page but that their owner did a super fun cook-along that made it even less intimidating to me to attempt my first full blown homemade pasta!

And boy was the end result amazing, al dente pasta that couldn't be easier and more fun to make (the rolling out especially), and the most silky and peppery sauce that was just heavenly! I have had this dish at Padella before and honestly this was pretty close to exactly that fabulous dinner that now feels a life time ago.

Of course nothing quite recreates the magic of eating at a restaurant, its not only about the food served but the atmosphere, the company, the service and of course the fact that you don't have to do the washing up (just me or is everyone's life just a constant cycle of cleaning, cooking, washing, cleaning, cooking, washing right now?!) but for now it was wonderful to recreate this amazing dish at home and for a hot second my balcony was my own little restaurant and I gave the chef, aka me, my compliments for this rather impressive tasting and looking plate of pasta that couldn't be easier to make!

Thanks Padella for making my Friday, I will be back through your doors as a diner in no time, I promise.

Serves 2-3


INGREDIENTS

PICI DOUGH
  • 375g strong white bread flour 
  • 180ml water 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • Pinch fine sea salt


METHOD
  • Add the flour to a mixing bowl & make a well in the middle.
  • Mix together the water, olive oil, salt & pour into the well. 
  • Start incorporating the flour into the water olive oil salt mixture until a dough starts to form. 
  • Once it forms, take the dough out, transfer to a clean table and start kneading it until it becomes smooth. 
  • With a rolling pin, shape it into a rectangle about 2cm thick, wrap in cling film.
  • Leave to rest for at least 30 mins. 
  • Cut the dough into 15g strips and keep covered with a damp tea towel. 
  • On a dry clean work surface (ideally with a slight texture like a wooden chopping board) start rolling the strip outwards, with both palms of your hands, applying pressure evenly and pushing out, until you have a noodle the same thickness as a biro. 
  • Repeat until all the dough is used up. 
  • Cook straight away, or, if making in advance, store lengthways on a heavily floured tray covered with cling film & refrigerate for no more than 24 hours.


PICI CACIO E PEPE


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 batch of pici dough 
  • 160g unsalted butter 
  • 100g parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

METHOD
  • In a large saucepan, bring water up to the boil and season with salt to resemble mild sea water. 
  • Drop the pici in water and cook for 5-6 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, add the butter, black pepper, lemon juice & a couple of ladle fulls of the pici water to a saucepan on a medium heat and then turn down to a low heat until they emulsify (melt into each other). 
  • When the pici is cooked, remove it from the water and add to the saucepan with the butter and pepper. 
  • Keep the pasta water. 
  • Add the parmesan but do not stir. 
  • Leave the parmesan to sit & melt from the residual heat of the pan - this prevents it from becoming chewy little cheesy balls. 
  • Once the parmesan has melted, stir the pici and sauce together to incorporate. 
  • Season with salt and serve immediately.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

AN EASY BABA GANOUSH RECIPE



I love nibbles - the selection of crisps, crudités, olives and of course dips one enjoys at the beginning of an evening, ideally in the sunshine with an ice cold glass of rosé in hand, nibbles to me as much of an event as the actual sitting down to eat and not something that should just be a matter of cracking open a bag of Doritos.

On my ever growing culinary list of things to attempt making during lockdown are potato crisps (alongside you know soufflé, paella, pasta and all the other things I have never had the effort or confidence in me to attempt), but for now I wanted to find an easy DIY version of one of my favourite dips, the middle eastern aubergine based baba ganoush!

You can't really get it done well in the supermarket, ready made versions tend to have a gross consistency and also lack any depth in flavour, which is why I was so happy to find out just how easy it is to make it at home!

Some recipes call for an open flame or grill to char the aubergine but this version allows you to use a conventional oven and once the aubergine halves are nice and charred, this does take a good 40 minutes, it is a super fast assemble job all done by hand (no need to blend using a food processor) to get you a dreamy bowl of baba ganoush, topped with some pomegranate seeds for extra wow factor.

I loved the depth of flavours in the finished dip and will for sure add homemade baba ganoush to my nibble repertoire! A perfect addition to start any evening in style and a great thing to make during these warmer days!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 medium aubergines
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, more if necessary
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the eggplant and garnish
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Some fresh pomegranate seeds 
  • Serving suggestions: with celery or pitta!

METHOD
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius with a rack in the upper third of the oven.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Halve the aubergines lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil.
  • Place them in the prepared pan with the halved sides down.
  • Roast the aubergine until the interior is very tender throughout and the skin is collapsing, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Set the aubergine aside to cool for a few minutes.
  • Flip the eggplants over and scoop out the flesh with a large spoon, leaving the skin behind.
  • Place a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, then transfer the flesh to the strainer and discard the skins.
  • Pick out any stray bits of eggplant skin and discard. You want to remove as much moisture from the aubergine here as possible, so let the aubergine rest for a few minutes and shake/stir the aubergine to release some more moisture.
  • Discard all of the aubergine drippings, drain and wipe out the bowl, and dump the aubergine into the bowl.
  • Add the garlic and lemon juice and stir vigorously with a fork until eggplant breaks down.
  • Add the tahini to the bowl and stir until it’s incorporated.
  • While stirring, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
  • Continue stirring until the mixture is pale and creamy, and use your fork to break up any particularly long strings of aubergine.
  • Stir in the salt and cumin. Season to taste with more salt and more lemon juice if needed
  • Transfer the baba ganoush to a serving bowl and top with fresh pomegranate seeds!

Monday, 20 April 2020

DIY SPANISH TORTILLA


Facing another weekend in lockdown, I thought it was only fitting to try and bring a bit of holiday feeling into my cooking, who knows when anyone's next trip abroad will be after all!

Quickly a solo trip to Madrid in 2018 came to mind, filled with amazing food and drink across the board, Madrid being one of those wonderfully vibrant places I cannot wait to revisit when this is all over. 

One food in particular stood out as somewhat representative of the trip and that feeling sunshine, sangria and not a worry in the world and that was a traditional Spanish tortilla, that gorgeous mix of potato, onion and runny egg, so simple yet so damn delicious when done well. 

I was a little intimidated by attempting my own, mainly because I have had some pretty rubbish overcooked ones before and also because the whole flipping the thing around half way through scared me a little, but I should have not feared, it was actually super fun to make my own Spanish tortilla and the end result was damn delicious!

One reason why it probably turned out so well is because I found a fab recipe by Barrafina, London's most well regarded tapas restaurant, which I knew I could trust, especially as there are about a million different tortilla recipes online, all different, which could have seen this end in disaster! 

This recipe makes 2-3 individual tortillas, I had a perfect non stick small pan for this, but worry not if you only have one big one, you can easily slice it up! I like my tortilla quite runny so make sure not to overcook it or you just get a very potatoey omelette! 

I enjoyed my finished tortilla in the sunshine, on my balcony, with a lovely little side salad of roasted beetroot and carrots, roasted in a lmix of honey, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, on a bed of rocket and with a great glass of rose from my local artisan wine shop, Made In Little France, and where you can try to support your local businesses during this time!

Anyways for the duration of my solo Sunday night dinner it was almost like I was back in Madrid, a welcome break from the mundanity of daily life right now.

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 2 large white onions
  • 6 eggs, free-range
  • 750ml vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • Olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt

METHOD
  • Julienne the onions very finely. 
  • Cook them slowly in a little olive oil until very soft and a little caramelised. 
  • Set aside
  • Deep-fry the potatoes until completely tender in a pot with the vegetable oil, (adding both at the same time and then turning on heat). 
  • Drain thoroughly and set aside.
  • Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat the yolks together until combined.
  • Add the potatoes and onions, mix thoroughly, the potatoes may break up a bit but that is fine, then cover with kitchen foil to let the egg mixture soak into the potatoes for about 15 minutes. 
  • Add a small amount of olive oil to a small tortilla pan and place over a medium heat.
  • Add the tortilla mixture to the pan and cook until golden on the underside. 
  • Flip over carefully using a plate that is bigger than the pan and cook the other side until it is light brown in colour. 
  • The inside should remain slightly runny.
  • Serve warm with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

SPINACH, COURGETTTE & RICOTTA DUMPLINGS WITH A FRESH TOMATO SAUCE




Another week in isolation, another little Friday cooking project! This time making these lovely light and flavourful Italian spinach, courgette and ricotta dumplings (also called gnudi). They do take a bit of time to make and prep, don't skip the draining the ricotta part or regret it later, and a bit of labour is also involved, I adored making the tomato sauce from scratch with not a tinned tomato in sight, but the end result was quite amazing! So fresh and way lighter than a plate of pasta, plus all ingredients are pretty easy to get or are already in your kitchen cupboard so get making on these, I for one loved calling these little balls of joy my own!


Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

For the dumplings
  • 500g ricotta
  • 225g courgette, coarsely grated
  • 250g spinach leaves
  • 65g grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g plain flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1½ tsp flaky, or ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 50g butter, to serve

For the sauce
  • 8 large ripe tomatoes (or 2 tins drained plum tomatoes)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp red-wine vinegar
  • 1 big handful basil leaves


METHOD
  • Drain the ricotta for at least 30 minutes to remove as much excess water as possible.
  • Put the courgettes in a large sieve or colander suspended over a bowl. 
  • Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and blanch the spinach for one to two minutes, until it has collapsed. 
  • Pour the spinach water over the grated courgettes to wilt it, then leave both vegetables to drain in the sieve. 
  • When the vegetables are cool enough to touch, squeeze out the water, dry on kitchen paper, chop finely and put in a bowl. 
  • Add the ricotta, parmesan, eggs, flour, half the salt and plenty of black pepper, and mix well with a fork or wooden spoon and adjust the seasoning, to taste.
  • Dust your hands and a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper with flour. 
  • Mould the dough into golfballs – keep dusting your hands in more flour or the dough will stick to you. 
  • Lay the balls out on the tray, then refrigerate while you make the sauce.
  • Score the top of each tomato with an X and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Leave for 30 seconds, then drain. Peel the skin and roughly chop the flesh.
  • Gently fry the garlic in the oil in a small pan over a medium-low heat until it begins to turn pale gold, then add the chopped tomatoes and vinegar, to stop the garlic burning. 
  • Season, simmer for 10-15 minutes until thick, then tear in the basil. Add a few pinches of brown sugar if the tomatoes taste flat.
  • Once the sauce is ready, bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. When the water is simmering, cook a few dumplings at a time until they float to the surface, then transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  • Once the dumplings are all cooked, heat a wide frying pan over a medium heat and melt the butter. Fry the dumplings in the butter until slightly browned.
  • Spoon the warm tomato sauce on to plates or shallow bowls, then top with the dumplings. Grate over a little extra parmesan and serve.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

HOW TO KEEP FIT DURING ISOLATION


The first and, admittedly, slightly selfish thought that entered my head as lockdown took hold and all gyms shut their doors for the foreseeable future was “HOW THE HELL AM I GOING TO SURVIVE WITHOUT BARRY’S BOOTCAMP?!”.

As all my friends will tell you I am a bit of a Barry’s Bootcamp maniac. The high intensity work out, which is consists of 30 minutes of running on a treadmill and 30 minutes of weight and floor work, has kept me sane and made me the fittest I have ever been ever since I started going in 2018.

Going there was as much part of my weekly routine as showing up to work on time, and a slight sense of panic went over me when I realised that this was just not going to be possible for a while.

BUT we as humans are resourceful and resilient little things and with the wonders of technology, amazing Barry’s trainers who have kept spirits up even without the red room, and me braving the great outdoors for running (and realising I actually bloody love it), I have managed to establish a routine that is proving so, so crucial in these times where nothing is certain and a way to release those endorphins has never been more important than now.

It takes a little more imagination and motivation to keep fit during isolation but I hope my below tips will help a little - together we can do this and come out of this all stronger and fitter than ever!!!


GET OUTSIDE, RUN & SET YOURSELF GOALS!


I have to admit I have never been a big fan of outside running, in fact pre-Barry’s my last outdoor run was a mere 15 minutes long before I gave up. Having very much grown to love running on a treadmill through Barry’s and of course not having access to one for the foreseeable future however, I thought it was time to revisit running outdoors and to my own surprise I absolutely love it!

In fact I have made my daily run very much part of my routine and I would recommend everyone getting out there first thing in the morning and do the same. I know, I know, that is asking a lot motivation wise but set yourself a goal. I have always been an endurance runner so for me 5km didn’t prove long enough, so I started off with 10km per day as a goal, with the aim to improve on my distance week to week and you can do the same even if you start out on 3km, it’s the improvement that matters!

Having a goal alone is a massive driver to get you out of the house every day and will push similarly mentally and physically as going to somewhere like Barry’s would. For me it was key to find a good running route that is easily adjustable to add distance as your running improves, don’t go where all the runners in London or wherever you live are going to (the canal for example in East London is a total NO GO if you care about social distancing as you are fighting for space with cyclists, dog walkers and families, seeking the serenity of the canal but really making it not serene at all) so do a bit of research, maybe going on a long walk to see where is good.

I don’t actually mind doing the same route every day as you can really see how you progress and for me I slowly went a bit further every day and every week! There will be days when your running is not up to par and your legs will feel like filled with led, but for me the distance challenge, even if it just meant matching my standard 10km or improving by a couple of 100 metres, always got me out of the house and honestly for my hour of running I get to forget all the crazy things going on at the moment.

A good soundtrack is also key which is why I created a pretty good playlist, cobbled together from my favourite tracks at Barry’s which I hope will get you pumped. As I said my initial assumption of hating outdoor running turned out wrong and you won’t know if it is really as bad as you think it will be until you get yourself out there and try for yourself! We have the privilege of having a daily run so make the most of it!!!



JOIN THE COMMUNITY EVERY DAY WITH BARRY’S UK INSTA LIVE WORKOUTS


Barry’s UK has done an amazing job keeping the community spirit alive, even without the red room, and most importantly have found a way to keep us all fit and sane for free which is just amazing!

They are doing 4 live IG story workouts every day, based around the usual Barry’s training approach (Monday full body upper focus, Tuesday full body lower focus, Wednesday full body upper body focus, Thursday full body ass and abs focus etc. etc.).

Each session is 30 minutes long, basically like the floor part of the usual Barry’s workout, and the sessions are spread across the day (during the week 8:20am, 9:30am, 12:30pm and 6:40pm and slightly adjusted at the weekends) which means one can definitely fit a daily one in, not like we all have bursting diaries anyways!

I tend to do Anya’s 8:20am class every day during the week after my run and though it may not be as intense as some other online workouts (more on that later), they are always great way to start the day. Even better if you didn’t manage to get your hands on some weights, I was lucky to source some right at the beginning of lockdown but right now it is near impossible to find any going online unless you want to pay £100 for a pair of 5 kilo dumbbells, as the workouts are designed to need no equipment other than a stack of books or sometimes a towel which everyone has at home!

Even if Barry’s or that sort of workout usually scares you this is a great way to get your muscles going and the energy of every workout always lifts me up so give this a go, it’s not as scary as you think and hey maybe I will even see you in the red room when it’s back open for business!




GET 1 TO 1 (SCREEN) TIME WITH THE QUEEN OF BURN SAMANTHA STONE

Sam Stone is one of my favourite Barry’s instructors because of her always positive and encouraging attitude and fantastic programming, which is why I was super excited to hear that she was going to start running a daily 45 minute class. Again, these are based on the Barry’s days in terms of focus but here you really get a burn and each day is designed to really make you work hard!

Bands and weights are useful here as Sam works with them but also not essential and she has managed to built a fab little community around her with areally personal training approach that make each session a real pleasure (and seriously sweat inducing) and like having a PT in your living room.

Each class is £5 and can be accessed through her site but for me it is TOTALLY worth the money, especially if you love really hard core barre style exercises that she manages to make even more glut burning!



ACCESS A LIBRARY OF CLASSES AT FRAME LONDON

Now as much as I love the Barry’s style floor work, it’s also good to mix things up a little once in a while and for £10.99 Frame London lets you have unlimited access to their library of pre-recorded classes.

These were all filmed pre-lockdown and are super good quality and really make you feel like you are at one of the proper Frame studios! The range of classes they offer is amazing with lots barre options, pilates and HIIT classes of varying lengths but I particularly adored the super fun but also sweaty 80’s aerobics workout (Isaac the instructor will get you in a good mood even after the most rubbish self isolation slump day), the super hard core Box Fit class, a great one for balled up aggressions, as well as the Total Body workout which very much delivers what it says on the tin.

It’s so good to have this vast range of classes at your 24/7 disposal and has for me rescued a pretty rubbish day more than once. There will be a class or five for everyone’s liking and I can’t recommend this clever way of dealing with the closure of gyms enough!


WALK!!!

Put your favourite podcast on and walk! I love walking anyway, during none Corona times I always walked to and from my office every day (45 minutes each way), but now is the time to embrace long walks to get your legs moving and also to give your mind a break.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

SCANDI INSPIRED POTATO SALAD WITH SMOKED SALMON AND DILL YOGURT DRESSING




With a hint of summer in the air this past Easter weekend,  blistering 26 degrees very much enjoyed and made the most of on my daily run and perched on my balcony, heck I even managed to get a little sunburn, I was in the mood for a fresh yet satisfying salad and this Scandi inspired potato salad just about hit the spot!

Because there are so many other veggies involved - cucumber, red onions, asparagus, radishes and cornichons, you don't actually need too many potatoes, which keeps this light, especially with a super yummy yogurt and dill dressing that only has a tablespoon of mayo but all the flavour!

Apart from a bit of chopping, boiling and microwave steaming, this comes together super quick and is the ideal dinner on a lovely spring day with a glass of rose - sunshine food, packed with nutrients, we can all do with right now!

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS
450g baby new potatoes, skin on
Half a cucumber, sliced and quartered
Bunch of radishes, thinly sliced
5-6 cornichons, sliced (I love these Waitrose ones)
1 red onion, chopped finely
Bunch of British asparagus, chopped with tips kept to one side, the rest to be mixed into the salad

Dressing
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp onion onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
Salt to taste

200g smoked salmon, torn into small pieces

METHOD
  • In a large pot filled with cold water add the potatoes with some salt.
  • Bring the water to boil and then a simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked (you can always pierce one with a knife to check they are done),
  • Cook your asparagus in the microwave for a few minutes until tender.
  • Chop asparagus into 4cm chunks, retaining the tips to top the salad with when ready serve.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine Greek yogurt, mayo, sour cream, lemon zest, 2 tbsp olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder and salt.
  • Once the potatoes have cooled and you have quartered them toss them with the Greek yogurt mixture. 
  • Add the radishes, cucumber, red onions, cornichons, and asparagus chunks (not tips)
  • Garnish the tops with the smoked salmon slices, some fresh chopped dill and asparagus tips and enjoy!

Saturday, 11 April 2020

HOMEMADE SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI IN A SAGE, GARLIC & BUTTER SAUCE


Next up on my culinary list of things to master were gnocchi! Not your standard kind of gnocchi though, no, vibrant and delicious sweet potato gnocchi were on the agenda this Good Friday to keep me busy and challenge my skills in the kitchen once again.

I was a little worried that these were going to turn out to be a total disaster as I have never made any kind of pasta before and also don't tend to work with dough a lot (I like recipes with a more freestyle approach which doesn't tend to work well when precise measurements are key) but actually it was super easy and therapeutic to rustle these up!

It does get a little messy and the whole process takes a bit of time, not that is an issue right now, but the end results was amazing! Little pillows of fluffy goodness, the sweet potato working a total treat with the ricotta, all finished off with a super simple but effective garlic, sage and butter sauce. This total comfort food and gave me such a sense of achievement, having made every element of the dish myself and I for one am a total sweet potato gnocchi convert now!

Making theses proved the perfect way to spend an afternoon in the kitchen, leaving the outside world behind for a few hours, and the finished dish was so delicious I can't wait to make them again, so get your sweet potatoes ready!


INGREDIENTS

Serves 3-4

  • 400g sweet potato
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 cup flour (more for dusting)

Sauce
  • Bunch of sage leaves, roughly torn
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 7 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

METHOD
  • Stick the sweet potato a few times with a fork, wrap in a damp paper towel, and microwave until soft, about 7 minutes. 
  • Scoop the flesh of the sweet potato into a mixing bowl. Discard the skin. 
  • Mix with the ricotta, parmesan, and salt until well combined and almost completely smooth. 
  • Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, kneading very gently after each addition. If needed add a little more flour until you get a good dough consistency.
  • As the dough becomes easier to handle, transfer it to a clean floured work surface and form it into a loaf.
  • Cut a slice off of the loaf on the short side (think of it as if it were a loaf of banana bread and you were going to cut a slice to eat). 
  • Roll and stretch the slice on a floured surface until it forms a long, skinny rope-like shape. 
  • Cut the rope into segments and transfer to a bowl: this is your gnocchi.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the gnocchi, and boil until the gnocchi rise to the top of the water. 
  • Drain and toss gently with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. 
  • Putting it all together: Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat until lightly bubbling and foaming. 
  • Add the garlic and sage, then add the gnocchi and pan-fry until golden brown on the outside (you may have to do this in batches). 
  • Remove from heat and let cool slightly so the butter thickens just a little. 
  • Add the Parmesan cheese and toss gently a few times to combine and serve immediately.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

A RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE KIMCHI & HOW TO USE IT!




I LOVE Kimchi. It's one of those foods I can literally eat by itself any time, any day. It also happens to be a total super food and naturally low in calories, it of course being fermented spicy Chinese cabbage meaning it is filled with vitamins and super good for your gut.

Delicious and great for your health!? Let's be honest that does not happen that often when it comes to food and I have always been intrigued by the idea of making my own kimchi at home. I am lucky to live close to a great Asian supermarket that sells it ready-made, but once again with time on my hands and with a great tried and tested recipe for homemade kimchi, courtesy of my friend Pont, I simply had to give it a go!

Pont's recipe is super easy to follow and if you are unable to find some of the more niche ingredients like Japanese daikon I will give you some great substitution.

I would say order online or find at your nearest Asian supermarket the Korean red pepper powder  and don't be tempted to substitute it because it does add a crucial and distinctive flavour element and also make sure you have a jar at hand that you can shut air tight, ready for the kimchi to ferment in.

Overall I loved making the kimchi - the chopping, whizzing and all that jazz, and then also seeing the process of what happens after, the finished kimchi left in a dark, cold room for three days to develop flavour and ferment, almost a bit magical!

The end result was so tasty and better than any kimchi supermarket version I have had and and I cannot recommend enough making this yourself at home while we do have the chance to discover our inner domestic goddesses!

Of course I also had to find a recipe to use the kimchi as part of and the below incredible buttery kimchi noodles with egg yolk were JUST the thing!

Let me know if you end up making your own kimchi and what you think of the end result!


HOMEMADE KIMCHI

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 big head or 2 little ones of Napa/ Chinese Leaf / Savoy Cabbage, cut into 1 inch slices
  • Coarse Sea Salt
  • Bunch of Spring onions, sliced
  • Half a Japanese Daikon, cut into thin batons (carrots can be used as substitute)
For the kimchi paste:
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice + pineapple slice from a can
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1/2 cup korean chilli flakes

METHOD
  • Sterilise the jar you are using by boiling it in a saucepan, set aside.
  • Put sliced up cabbage in a bowl of water with 1/2 cup of salt. 
  • Place a plate with a weight (I used two tins) on top to press down. 
  • Leave for at least 1 hour.
  • Add all paste ingredients to a blender and whizz until smooth.
  • Rinse cabbage and throughly dry.
  • Return cabbage to rinsed bowl and thoroughly mix with the paste.
  • Add the spring onion and daikon and mix again so all vegetables are coated in the paste.
  • Add sliced radishes and spring onions.
  • Transfer to your sterilised container/mason jar. 
  • Leave to ferment in a cool room for around 3 days. The longer the ferment, the more pungent, tangier and intense it will be but make sure to stir it through once a day.
  • Once happy with the taste, transfer to fridge. It will keep for 2-3 weeks (if you don't polish it off before then)

And once good go I can't recommend these super comforting and quick to make noodles:

BUTTERY KIMCHI NOODLES WITH SPRING ONIONS


Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 300g Udon noodles
  • 1 cup of your homemade kimchi
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste, available to buy online or your nearest Asian supermarket)
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen udon noodles
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3 spring onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

METHOD

  • Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium-high. 
  • Add kimchi and gochujang and cook, stirring occasionally, until kimchi is softened and lightly caramelised, about 4 minutes. 
  • Add broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until liquid is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, boil noodles according to package directions.
  • Using tongs, transfer noodles to pan and add remaining 2Tbsp. butter; cook, tossing often, until sauce coats noodles, about 2 minutes. 
  • Season with salt if needed. 
  • Divide among bowls and top with egg yolks, scallions, and sesame seeds.
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