A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

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I’m on a bit of a kick of making brunch at home at the moment. This is another recipe from Jamie’s Superfood, and I have to say that I really like it. It’s also a great way to use up stale bread. I used tiger bread.

I made few changes to the recipe. I used frozen blackberries rather than raspberries. I left them to defrost in the fridge overnight, sprinkled with a tablespoon of sugar. This makes the dish taste a little like blackberry pie, a specialty of my late grandma made with berries foraged every autumn.

I added a little squeeze of honey to the banana and egg ‘custard’. Because this is a diet/clean eating show (despite Jamie’s vehement protestations to the contrary), it is light on sweetness. I would rather have 50 extra calories and find a dish delicious,than 50 fewer and find it just okay.

I’ve tried two-ingredient pancakes before and found that they just taste like eggy banana. I think the combination of blitzing the mix, which means the eggs go lovely and fluffy, and having it with something makes a huge difference. I also used the full banana and two eggs to serve one, as I’m trying to get more protein in my diet.

Top tip: don’t use a knife to make the pocket in the bread as Jamie suggests. Maybe this works if you have super sharp chef knives and very fresh bread. I found that it ripped my slice into bread shreds. Scissors work much better.


I seem to be slightly obsessed with baked cream cheese lately. Which is understandable, because it’s bloody delicious. I’ve been looking for a recipe to use up 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree that’s been hanging around in my freezer, and this pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust really fit the bill.

I’m not actually the world’s biggest fan of cheesecake. I think that’s because most British cheesecakes aren’t baked, and I think it’s the baking that transforms the cream cheese into the silky, luxurious texture you get in an American-style cheesecake. I also think that digestives are the most boring biscuit on earth, so any recipe that uses something else for the base gets points from me.

I got quite a few cracks in the top of my cheesecake, as you can see in the pics. I wonder if baking it in a water bath would reduce this problem.

Ingredients- for the base

  • 230g (2cups) ginger nuts, finely crushed
  • 40g (1/4 cup) pecans, finely chopped
  • 60g (1/4 cup) butter, melted

For the topping

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée- you can use around 1/4 cup less if this is all you have
  • 1tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4tsp ground cloves
  • 680g (24oz) full-fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar, depending on taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Line bottom and sides of 9″x13″ baking pan with dampened parchment paper or foil, letting it overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  3. Blend biscuits, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor until finely ground
  4. Add pecans and butter. Combine.
  5. Transfer crumb mixture to prepared baking pan, and press into the bottom until even.

Bake until fragrant and a little firm, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together pumpkin, flour and dry spices until combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, using mixer or by hand, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until combined.

Stir about a cup of the cream cheese mixture into the pumpkin mixture and stir until smooth.

Pour the remaining cream cheese mixture over your crust.

Place spoonfuls of pumpkin mixture randomly over the cream cheese. 

Using a knife, gently swirl the two together to achieve a marbled finish


Bake for 25-30mins, until centre is just set.


Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Cover and refrigerate for 4-24 hours before lifting the cheesecake out of pan and cutting. Store in the fridge until serving.


The second instalment in my quest to stop lunch being the most irritating meal of the day is this filling roasted sweet potato, quinoa and goats cheese salad. I realise that eating things like this (stopping to Instagram it first) makes me a hopeless millennial stereotype, but apparently that’s my destiny.


Couldn’t you just filter the shit out of that? Then eat it?

I’ll be adding this to my rotation of lunches. I think the goats cheese balances the sweet potato beautifully, the quinoa adds grainy bulk and the pumpkin seeds give a pleasant bite. I leave the skins on my potatoes (cutting out any dodgy bits) for the triple threat of added nutrition, saved time and reduced waste. Rule of three FTW!

I’ve also started adding dressing to more of my salads. It does add calories, but I think the secret of store bought salads is the dressing punching up the flavour. For me, the added pleasure negates the calories.

Ingredients

  • 1kg sweet potatoes
  • 1tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 green or red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • A handful of finely chopped coriander stems, optional
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry quinoa (if you’re not on the quinoa bandwagon, sub another grain, bulgur or couscous)
  • 200g baby leaf spinach
  • 50g pumpkin seeds
  • 200g goats cheese, cut into small chunks
  • A handful coriander leaves

For the dressing

  • 1tbsp French mustard
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 2tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or finely chopped
  • 1tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 6tbsp flavourless oil

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Chop your sweet potatoes into bite-size chunks. Peel if desired.
  3. Add sweet potato chunks to a roasting tin with the olive oil, garlic, ginger, chili and coriander stems, if using. Rub to ensure a good coating of oil and even distribution of the spices. Season, then bake for around 20 minutes, until the sweet potato is soft and golden.
  4. Cook quinoa according to directions on packet. I rise mine in a mesh sieve for a couple of minutes, until the water runs clear. I then toast the damp quinoa in a tablespoon of butter for a couple of minutes to open up the grains. Finally, I add double the volume of water to the pan (in this case 2 cups), bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the water is all absorbed (15-20 mins), then turn off the heat and leave to steam for a few more minutes.
  5. For the dressing, Combine the dressing ingredients, aside from the oil, in a food processor or hand blender and blitz until smooth. Add the oil slowly, through a funnel if you have one, until smooth.
  6. In a dry pan over a medium heat, toast the pumpkin seeds until golden and fragrant.


Combine the baby leaf spinach, quinoa, roasted sweet potato, goats cheese and coriander. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, season and dress to taste. This salad can be eaten warm or cold. Enjoy!


Sun’s out, buns out… of my lunch box, that is. The magnificent weather had reinvigorated my quest against lunch ennui, resulting in this tasty salad.

I found the recipe that inspired me, via Pinterest, here. Feel free to substitute any of the vegetables for other root vegetables you like. I also chucked a couple of shallots in the roasting tin as I had them on hand.

Ingredients (serves four)

  • 800g (about two medium) sweet potatoes
  • 400g (one root) celeriac
  • 300g (two medium) parsnips
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1tsp fennel seeds
  • 200g washed baby spinach
  • 160g washed other leaves (I used sprouted peas)
  • 200g pomegranate seeds, or one pomegranate if you’re not lazy
  • 200g feta, cubed
  • 2 avocados
  • 50g pumpkin seeds

For the dressing

  • 1tbsp French mustard 
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 2tbsp cider vinegar 
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or finely chopped
  • 1tsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 6tbsp flavourless oil
  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F)
  2. Chop all of the root vegetables into bite-sized dice. Peel if desired. I peeled the celeriac but not the sweet potato and parsnips. Place into a baking tray.
  3. Coat evenly with the olive oil and sprinkle over the fennel seeds. Place in the garlic cloves (no need to peel or chop)
  4. Bake for 20-25mins, until golden brown and tender.
  5. Combine the dressing ingredients, aside from the oil, in a food processor or hand blender and blitz until smooth. Add the oil slowly, through a funnel if you have one. 
  6. Cut open avocado, remove store, scoop out the meat and cut into smaller cubes. Add the avocado to the salad leaves along with crumbled feta and pomegranate seeds
  7. Heat a small saucepan, add the pumpkin seeds and a little sprinkle of salt and toast until golden.
  8. Mix the roasted roots with the salad and top the salad with toasted pumpkin seeds. Add dressing to taste.

I make this salad ahead of time for work. I put my roasted roots in a large airtight container in the fridge, with the feta, pomegranate and toasted pumpkin seeds in separate containers.

Each morning, I put the leaves in my lunchbox, topped with the roots and other ingredients. I take my dressing in a separate container and dress the salad just before eating. It’s a little more effort doing it this way, but gives a really enjoyable result.

The salad is also very nice undressed. You could add a tablespoon of honey to the vegetables before you roast them for extra flavour. 


I had a little cooking time last week, so I decided to try a recipe from the healthylicious food blog. At the moment I’m trying to watch what I eat for health and vanity reasons. According to the food tracking app I use, I don’t eat enough protein so I’ve also been trying to up my protein intake. I am a meat eater, but I seldom cook meat because it’s too much hassle. Although this is a vegetarian recipe (if you don’t wrap the eggs in prosciutto like I did), it’s pretty high in protein because of the eggs and chickpeas.

The recipe is available in full here. I didn’t make any changes apart from increasing it by 50% and swapping out some of the spices and herbs for what I had at home. I used mint instead of parsley, and paprika instead of cayenne pepper. I also used dried chickpeas rather than tinned. Oh, and I wrapped the eggs in slice of prosciutto before adding the falafel mixture. And added some sesame seeds to the breadcrumb coating. Hm, guess I made more changes than I thought!

While I did like this recipe, I would probably only make it again for a picnic or something. I need a more basic summer lunch recipe that’s closer to 30mins prep than a couple of hours. I think these would be nice with quails’ eggs too.


I would say these eggs are equally nice hot or cold. If I made them again, I would try reducing the boiling time of the eggs even more (I put the eggs into cold water, brought to the boil, turned off the heat and left in a covered pan for five minutes) to try and get a softer egg yolk. However, this would be even more of a terrifying roulette where you could end up with albumen all over your countertops. Cooking really is a pursuit only for the most extreme adrenaline junkie.

I served my eggs with a spinach, rocket, tomato and avocado salad. I also had a few tablespoons of my apple chutney to make it less dry. It would also be nice with some flavoured hummus, or beetroot dip to avoid chickpea overload.


The new year found me in Indonesia guiltlessly munching on fried foods and ice cream- I was on holiday after all. However, I couldn’t resist the call of January to lose weight, get fit, save money and generally become a perfect human creature.

I decided that the first step would be to start having green smoothies for breakfast. 2015 was the year I discovered green drinks in all forms. A well made green smoothie not only gives you a sense of smug self-satisfaction, but actually tastes good. I had developed a worrying dependency on the guy who makes smoothies outside Sourced Market at St Pancras station, sometimes travelling there specifically for a hit.

I decided to break the cycle, cut out the middleman, and make the smoothies my damn self.

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Green juice purists might disapprove of how I make my smoothies. I add a little dried fruit for sweetness and fibre. I use fruit juice rather than water, and have banana as well as some frozen berries. I sometimes even add a touch of honey if my smoothie tastes a bit too virtuous.

I use my electronic scale to help keep my measurements on track.

Ingredients 

  • A small handful (about 20g) oats
  • A small handful (10-25g) almonds
  • A little dried fruit- I use a dried fig or a couple of apricots depending on what I have on hand
  • 200ml apple juice or water
  • 80g avocado- this is half a small avocado or a quarter of a large avocado
  • 80g (1 small) banana
  • 80g frozen spinach
  • A small handful (about 40g) frozen berries
  • 80g (1 stalk) celery
  • 80g cucumber
  • 1tsp (about 10g) fresh ginger
  • 1tsp spirulina (optional)
  • Ice or water to bring smoothie to desired texture and temperature

Top tips 

  • To save time in the morning, I often soak the nuts, oats and dried fruit in the juice overnight, along with the unfrozen veg. Since my smoothie machine came with two bottles, I prepare two in the same evening

  • I sometimes chop up bananas and keep them in the freezer as a further time saver (it means I don’t have to run to the shop for bananas every three days)

  

  • I do the same with the fresh ginger, buying large fresh pieces when I see them and storing them prepared in pots in the freezer

  

  • This recipe is super flexible. You can substitute most ingredients for whatever you have on hand.
  • Don’t drop the blade of the blender on your foot. It hurts.

For me this smoothie is really balanced. It’s fresh with a lovely zing from the ginger. The avocado and banana give a nice smooth texture. I don’t know what spirulina is meant to do, but it makes the smoothie a nice colour and helps me feel like I am taking care of my body as I prepare to exit my twenties.


This week I managed to squeeze in some kitchen time. I rediscovered my love of Nigella’s teriyaki chicken recipe, learnt of wonders of panko, and also made these tasty cookies. I don’t think I’ve had a snickerdoodle before. These are light and cakey in texture, and the cream cheese surprise in the middle makes them really special.

IMG_3851

Ingredients

  • 1 cup/225g butter
  • 1 cup/225g sugar
  • 1/2cup/80g light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup/200g pumpkin purée
  • 1 large egg
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 3 3/4 cup/540g plain flour
  • 1 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt (halve this if using salted butter)
  • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp freshly grated nutmeg

For the filling

  • 7oz/200g cream cheese
  • 50g sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla

And just because there’s not quite enough sugar

  • 1/2 cup/100g granulated sugar (you won’t use all of it)
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • I also added a little black pepper

Method

1. Beat the butter and sugars until light, around 2-3mins

2. Blend in pumpkin and egg, then add vanilla

3. Mix together the dry ingredients, then add to the wet. Mix by hand until just combined. The dough will be very wet.

4. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

5. Mix together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla for the filling and leave to chill for an hour.

6. Preheat oven to 350F/180C and line baking sheet(s) with baking parchment.

7. Combine sugar and spices in a small bowl and set aside

8. To form the cookies, take a tablespoon of batter and flatten it.

Place a teaspoon of filling in the centre

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Make a second pancake of batter and place on top.

IMG_3844

Tightly pinch the edges to seal in the cream cheese.

Roll into a ball

IMG_3845

Coat in the cinnamon sugar.

IMG_3846

I actually found it easier to make the second pancake first and set it aside while messing with the filling.

Place on the baking sheet 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly before baking.

Bake for 10-15mins, until tops have cracked.

This is how many cookies I got.

They didn’t last long.