Sweet Potato and Ginger Cookies

Life is too short to eat bad food.

I’m not one for diets, I am a firm believer in everything in moderation. I am lucky that I enjoy healthier foods, so eating a bit greener isn’t a big deal for me.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking. “Cookies?? I’m supposed to be doing [insert latest diet trend here] for January. I can’t eat cookies” – well my friends, you can.

 

Sweetpotatocookie

These cookies are loaded with soothing ginger (perfect to kick that winter cold out the door), vitamin packed sweet potato, and immune boosting coconut oil.

This recipe is quite loose. Use different flour / omit oats if you wish.

Sweet Potato and Ginger Cookies (V)

Makes 6 – 8

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium sweet potato (peeled)
220g self-raising wholemeal flour
80g jumbo oats
80g unrefined brown sugar
2 tablespoons grated ginger
3 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
1 teaspoon ground flax
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon each ground ginger / cinnamon (for roasting)
Large pinch nutmeg
Zest from 1 orange
Couple of drops of vanilla extract

 

METHOD

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6 / 200 oC

Cut the peeled sweet potato into chunks and place on a lined baking tray. Toss in a small amount of melted coconut oil, the ground ginger and cinnamon. Roast in oven for approx. 45 mins (or until very soft).

Once cooked, remove and set to one side to cool.

Turn oven down to Gas Mark 5.

In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, bicarb, spices and grated ginger. Mix well.

In a saucepan, melt the coconut oil over a low heat and stir in the sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar starts to dissolve.

In a bowl, mix ground flax with 2 teaspoons water and leave for 5 mins.

Mash the cooled potato into a puree. Add to the sugar mix with orange zest, flax mix and vanilla. Whisk well.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix just until you get a dough type mixture.

On a lined baking tray, drop spoonfuls of the dough, evenly spread out.

Bake for 10-15 mins, until the edges start to brown.

Remove from oven, leave to cool for 5 mins before placing on a cooling rack to complete cooling.

Sweetpotatocookie2

sweetpotatocookie3

 

Holy Smokes Harissa

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2015, can you believe it? A new chapter, page 1 of 365.

Christmas has passed in a whirl wind, as it always does, and it already seems like forever ago. We had a much-needed couple of weeks rest and relaxation, and obviously there was gluttonous amounts of feasting and drinking. It would be rude to assume that one shouldn’t feast! I’m really looking forward to this year, I know everyone starts out with lots of resolutions and overly positive thoughts, but I’ve got faith in 2015. It’s gonna be a good’n.

I took some time away from cooking over the festive break, let my mum take the reins while I was her trusty guinea pig. However, I couldn’t keep totally away from the kitchen, but it was nice to not feel any pressure to be creating things when I just wanted to rest.

Harissa

This harissa was one of the winning concoctions in my kitchen a few weeks ago. I love harissa, the heat it packs, and the fiery bomb it sets off over your taste buds. It is pretty expensive in the UK, and I get through it pretty fast, so I decided to try making my own.

And boy, is it good. Fiery as hell good.

Holy Smokes Harissa

Makes 2 small jars

INGREDIENTS:

10 red chillies
10 red birds eye chillies
15 garlic cloves
1 red onion
1 red pepper
5tsp – coriander, cumin, caraway seeds
80ml extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

Roast spices in a dry frying pan for a few minutes, until you start to smell their aroma. Tip into a blender and blitz into a rough powder. Put into a bowl and set aside.

Roughly chop the chillies, pepper and onion. You can de-seed the chillies if you wish, however I prefer to leave the seeds in for a better kick. Add all to blender including the olive oil and blitz until you get a rough paste. You may need to do it in batches depending on the size of your blender / processor.

Cook paste in a frying pan for 10-15 mins, until it becomes slightly sticky. Stir often, and continuously near the end.

Mix in the spices, and a generous pinch of salt.

Remove from heat and put into air-tight jars. Will last for roughly 2 weeks.

Harissa

Harissa

 

 

Kabocha Squash and Nut Balls

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.

 

When I first tried kabocha, I was truly amazed. I couldn’t believe the difference in taste, compared to the wider known butternut squash. Why were people eating butternut, when there was this denser, tastier, more wholesome beauty kicking about?! It honestly felt like Christmas had come early for my tastebuds. I could not wait to run home and get creating with my new best (food) friend.

These balls would be great to whip up a big batch, ready for a hungry crowd, as an appetiser, or with some accompaniments for a larger meal.

Kabocha Squash and Nut Balls

Kabocha Squash and Nut Balls (V) (GF)

Makes 10-14 balls

INGREDIENTS:

½ large Kabocha squash (peeled and deseeded)
200g mixed nuts (I used pistachios and walnuts)
100g dried cranberries
Smoked paprika
Fresh thyme and rosemary
2 teaspoons ground flax seeds
1 tin chickpeas or cannellini beans
Sesame seeds (to roll balls in)
Sea salt / black pepper

METHOD

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180 C

After you have peeled and deseeded the squash, chop into chunks and place on a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil, paprika, herbs and salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 mins, until soft.

Once roasted, leave squash to cool for 15 mins.

Add the cooled squash to a food processor, blend until you have a paste. Add flax seeds, beans and cranberries and blend until you have reached a fairly smooth consistency.

Add the nuts and blitz for 10 seconds.

Scoop out the mixture with your hands and roll into balls.

Rolls the balls in the sesame seeds, and place on a baking tray lined with parchment.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 mins, until the sesame seeds are slightly golden.

Kabocha Squash and Nut Balls

Kabocha Squash and Nut Balls

Kabocha Squash and Nut Balls

 

Noel-Cello Grapefruit Liqueur

This whole Christmas present malarky is getting out of hand. I’ve not spent Christmas in the UK for 4 years, and feel I’m way behind on the gift game.

My city is crammed full of people, roaming the streets, laden with a million bags, all overflowing with gifts. The shops are so full you can barely move, let alone get near any item you might want to purchase.

Must-have items sold out long ago, now being flogged on eBay for quadruple the price. Where’s the festive cheer in that?

I love hand-made gifts, they just have a more personal touch, that someone has taken the time to make you a gift, rather than grab the first thing off the shelves.

This liqueur is the perfect Christmas gift, but it is best left to sit for 3-4 weeks, so advise the recipient to resist it for a couple of weeks or so.

This recipe is based on Pompelmo, the italian grapefruit liqueur.

Noelcello

Noel-Cello Grapefruit Liqueur

Makes 4 x 50ml bottles

INGREDIENTS:

2 litres good quality vodka (I used Smirnoff)
3 grapefruits
1 orange
6-8 cinnamon sticks
7 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon Christmas spice mix (ground cinnamon, ginger, juniper berries)

METHOD

Sterilise the bottles in boiling water. Leave to dry.

Scrub the grapefruits and orange. Using a peeler, remove strips of the fruits, try not to take too much pith.

Divide the strips between the bottles. Adding 2 cinnamon sticks to each bottle.

Add the sugar to a pan, and add 5 tablespoons of water.

Heat the mixture, stirring continuously, until all the sugar has dissolved.

Add sugar mixture to a jug, and add the vodka, mix well. If your jug is small, do this in batches.

Divide the vodka mix between the four bottles.

Seal, and shake the liqueur.

Store in a cool place, giving it a shake every few days. Will last up to a year.

Noelcello

Noelcello

Jerk Sweet Potato Stew

There was a time, back when I didn’t have much interest in food, that I could not handle my spice. I mean, even a korma was too much for me. I’d steer well clear of anything with even a hint of chilli in.

Fast forward to a few years later and I love it. I love it a bit too much sometimes. I have a bad habit of making eye watering dishes, which we then both struggle to eat without following each mouthful with a pint of water.

jerk sweet potato stew

This dish turned out to be one of those times, I may have got a little bit over excited with the seasoning, more is more, right? However it was still packed full of flavour, and a great hearty dish to warm you up on these long, cold evenings. Go on, spice up your life.

Jerk Sweet Potato Stew (V)

INGREDIENTS:

1 large sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
1 aubergine
1 onion
Handful green beans
1 clove garlic
1 tin butter beans (rinsed well and drained)
1-3 tablespoons jerk spice (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tin coconut milk
Salt and Pepper

METHOD

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 / 190 C

Dice the onion and garlic. Fry onion for 5 mins until translucent, add garlic and cook for 2 more mins.

Add jerk seasoning and stir well. Add sweet potatoes and make sure the potato gets coated in the spices. Fry for 2-4 more mins.

Add mix into large casserole pot. Cover with the coconut milk.

Cook in oven for 25-30 mins.

Add chopped aubergine and beans into the pot. Cook for a further 10 mins.

Serve in bowls with crusty bread, or over quinoa.

jerk sweet potato stew

jerk sweet potato stew

Kale Egg Cups

I can’t believe it’s just two weeks until Christmas. I feel so unorganised. I still have so much to get for my loved ones, and feel like I have no time to get sorted.

Work at the cafe has been pretty crazy these last few weeks, what with the Christmas market crowd, weekend rushes and just a lot of people wanting to eat food. (How rude of them!) I feel a bit like I’m running on empty, and worried I’m going to burn out before the holidays even begin.

So on my day off yesterday, I treated myself to a seriously lazy morning, something I’ve not done in a long while. I woke early but refused to get out of bed for a few hours. When I finally rose, I decided to have a nice long breakfast, with a big mug of green tea. A little bit of me time, a break from the madness that swarms through december.

kale egg cups

These eggs are good for feeding a crowd, or just a nice treat for a lazy brunch. You can mix up the herbs and spices to your taste.

Kale Egg Cups

Makes 6-8 egg cups

INGREDIENTS:

6 free range eggs
150ml almond milk
3 large leaves from a head of kale
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper

METHOD

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 (190 C)

Strip the kale leaves away from the stalk, try to keep them in large pieces.

Lightly grease 6-8 holes in a muffin tin

In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk and spices/herbs.

Slowly pour over the kale, be careful not to overfill

Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins, until the egg is cooked through.

NB. If you have a somewhat temperamental oven like we do, cover the eggs with foil.

kale egg cups

kale egg cups

 

 

Spiced Apple Juice with Rum

The annual Christmas Market has arrived in Bath. 200 wooden sheds fill the streets, bursting with Christmas gift ideas. It gets so busy, it’s a bit hard to handle some times. But I love to walk around and check out the stalls, browse the gifts and see what is on offer.

Every year one of the hotels sets up an ‘apres ski bar’ outside their reception. A little wooden chalet adorn with all things a la montagnes! It’s so snug in there, seats covered with sheepskin rugs and cosy blankets to snuggle up in. It makes me miss my winter seasons in the alps so much.

Two friends and I decided to pop in here for a drink last week. Upon entry we saw people drinking beer from huge glass wellie boots, and mulled wine from big wooden bowls. As soon as you walked through the door the smell of cinnamon and cloves hit you.

The smell stayed with me, and while I was walking home I started thinking about other Christmas drinks. Anything with rum is a safe bet for me, especially the spiced variety. Conveniently I knew I had some back at the boat. I swung by the supermarket and headed back to the boat to practice my mixology skills.

This drink is the perfect winter warmer. Easy to make a large batch, and a great addition to any Christmas party. It can be served with or without rum.

Spiced Apple Juice with Rum

Spiced Apple Juice with Rum

INGREDIENTS

500ml organic cloudy apple juice
70ml spiced rum (I used Captain Morgans)
1 orange
1 lemon
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons Christmas Spice Mix (I combined ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, juniper berries and all spice)
2 teaspoons unrefined brown sugar

Spiced Apple Juice with Rum

 

METHOD

Add the apple juice, cinnamon sticks, sugar and spices to a saucepan and stir well. Turn on to a low heat.

Slice the orange and lemon and add 2 slices of each to pan.

Keep stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.

Remove from heat and leave to cool down slightly.

Split the rum (if using) between two wine glass, slowly pour in the warm juice.

Garnish with more orange.

Spiced Apple Juice with Rum

 

Spiced Apple Juice with Rum

 

NB: This recipe is a surefire way to polish off a bottle of rum in no time!

 

 

Chocolate Almond Swirl Buns

December always seems to make people reminisce. Look back on the year they’ve had, the highs and lows, proud moments and memories. Nostalgia and the festive season seem to go hand in hand.

I was thinking about a family holiday we had back in April. 10 of us down in Cornwall for a week, in a beautiful house overlooking the sea. Days spent walking the coast, and exploring little seaside villages. This reminded me of some gorgeous organic flour I bought from a local bakery there. They had the most amazing array of breads and buns. All shapes and sizes.

Chocolate Almond Swirl Buns

After a quick rummage through our (sadly very disorganised) cupboards, I found this beautiful whole-wheat flour sat at the back. This was not a flour to waste sitting in a dark cupboard.

Oh no, this was a flour to share, to create something everyone would want a piece of.

We knead to talk about these buns.

These buns call for the Chocolate Almond Butter I wrote about a few days ago. They are a great item for the festive season, fun to make and even better to share with loved ones, while swapping memories of the year, over a nice mulled wine.

Chocolate Almond Swirl Buns

Chocolate Almond Swirl Buns with Cashew Cream Icing

Makes 8-10 buns

INGREDIENTS:

For the buns
500g organic whole-wheat flour (substitute for any gluten-free flour if needed)
1 pack fast action yeast
70g unrefined light brown sugar
1 egg
200ml almond milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ nutmeg
270g Chocolate Almond Butter
For the icing
200g cashews (soaked for 3-4 hours or overnight)
2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
2 tablespoons water (add more if necessary)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5

Slowly heat the milk and coconut oil together in a pan. Remove from heat as soon as you see bubbles forming at the side of the pan.

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, spices, yeast and salt. Add the egg, and milk/oil mixture and mix well. Start to knead the mixture with your hands until everything has combined.

Tip onto floured work surface and knead for 5-10 mins, until the dough is slightly shiny and smooth. Alternatively mix with a dough hook in a stand alone mixer.

Cover the dough with a warm, damp cloth and leave to rise somewhere warm for 25 mins.

Once the dough has risen, tip out onto a floured work surface.

With a rolling-pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle, about ¾ centimetre thick.

Spread your nut butter all over the dough, right to the edges.

Tightly roll up the dough and pinch the ends to seal. Cut your roll into 9 even pieces.

Place, cut side up, in a lightly greased baking dish.

Cover again and leave to rise for a further 30 mins.

Once risen, bake in the oven for 20 mins.

 

Cashew Cream Icing

Rinse soaked cashews well.

Add to blender or food processor with the agave and water.

Blitz until smooth, add more water if needed.

Refrigerate for 1 hour. The longer you leave it in the fridge, the thicker it will become.

 

Drizzle on warm buns and enjoy.

Chocolate Almond Swirl Buns

Chocolate Almond Swirl Buns

Chocolate Almond Butter

Where did December come from?! This year was plodding along at a seemingly reluctant pace, and now all of a sudden it’s the last month of the year, the final chapter of 2014.

Exactly this time last year, we we’re packing our suncream and insect repellant, ready to embark on 3 months travelling around Sri Lanka and Indonesia. It feels like yesterday but also like forever ago.

Fast forward a year and I’m sat in thermals in front of our fire, with a big mug of coffee, planning recipe ideas and watching the frost melt away.

This delicious spread is the perfect way to break into the Christmas spirit. Use it as a spread, filling in baked goods, or go crazy and eat it straight out of the jar.

Because if Christmas isn’t a good excuse for a little indulgence, then what is?!

Chocoloate Almond Butter

 

Chocolate Almond Butter

INGREDIENTS:

200g almonds
70g dark chocolate (use 85% cocoa if possible)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
1 tablespoon organic cocoa powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt

METHOD

Add almonds to a food processor and blend for 6-8 mins. Keep stopping to scrape down the sides.

While the almonds are mixing, melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a pan over a low heat. Add the chocolate mix to the almonds. Add in cinnamon, cocoa and salt.

Keep mixing the almonds until they reach your desired consistency. I like them a little crunchy still, so this took around 10 mins. For a smoother paste, it can take up to 16 mins. Do this is steps so as not to burn out your processor.

Once you have a paste you are happy with, pour into an airtight container and store in fridge. If you want to keep the butter quite runny, keep outside the fridge, and stir before each use.

Chocolate almond butter

Chocolate almond butter

Date, Apple and Walnut Loaf

The sky was so clear last night, I’ve never seen so many stars scattered across the night-time curtain of dark blue. Then, when the sun rose, there was a crisp, silver blanket spread over the city. Blades of grass turned into silver swords, puddles into mirror like circles. The mist sitting so heavily along the canal. The first frost of winter.

The condensation on the inside of our boat’s windows had frozen, and we could see our breath, it was so cold. Thankfully we have a brilliant wood burner, and it soon melted away any trace of winter.

Date, Apple and Walnut Loaf

This loaf is just what you need this time of year, run home, heat yourself up a nice mug of Chai, and cut yourself a hunky bit of this tasty loaf.

If you can resist, leave this to sit overnight, as it tastes even better the day after.

Date, Apple and Walnut Loaf

Date, Apple and Walnut Loaf

INGREDIENTS:

200g pitted dates
70g dried cranberries
90g unrefined light brown sugar
200g wholemeal flour
50g coconut flour
100g chopped walnuts
1 apple (peeled and cut into small cubes)
1 egg  (use 1 mashed banana if you want to make this vegan friendly)
25g mixed seeds (I used sunflower and pumpkin)
3 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon all spice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon sea salt
Sprinkling of sesame seeds

METHOD

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 (180 C)

Grease and line a loaf tin.

Chop the dates and cranberries and add to a saucepan with the apple pieces. Add 4 tablespoons of water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 15 mins. It should form a paste. If you need to you can mash it a bit with a fork.

While the dates are cooking, melt the coconut oil in a pan. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the flours, walnuts, seeds, baking powder, spices and salt.

Add the melted coconut oil to the date-apple paste, along with the sugar, and egg (or banana), mix well.

Mix the wet with the dry, until just combined (don’t over mix)

Spread into your loaf tin, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for approx. 50 mins (or until a knife comes out clear of mixture)

Let the loaf sit for 15 minutes then turn out onto rack and leave to cool.

Date, Apple and Walnut Loaf