Category Archives: Quick

Montpellier and Cooking Up My Bookmarks: Soda Bread

[Source]

I’m moving to France in September. I have a flat all sorted and I’m RIDIC excited. I just went to Montpellier for 4 days to flat hunt, and I just fell in love. I’m so excited to get there. I mean,  who wouldn’t want to live in the South of France? For one thing, it’s hot. And I always say that I’m a reptile. A cold-blooded reptile. I am always cold and can just bake in the mid-day sun with no shade.

Secondly, it’s FRANCE. It’s the home of bread, cheese and wine. We had amazing cheese and bread and wine. True, there were some difficulties being pescetarians, erring on the side of vegetarians, but we survived.

Montpellier was diverse and, luckily, quite sporty. I went for a 33km bike ride. And I gotta tan. Some photos. Sorry they’re so awful, I was travelling only on hand luggage, so sadly I couldn’t bring my canon:

 (it doesn’t look very hot here, but it was)

ANYWAY, onto food. I made bread. I don’t think it was my greatest success, but it’s soda bread which has that densey, cakey flavour. It’s made with oats as well. GORGE. VOILA (Thats French you know).

It requires buttermilk, but I’ve made soda bread with normal milk, and this time I used normal milk PLUS lemon juice. This is from my bookmark at Eat Live Travel Write, but I altered it slightly because I added porridge oats.

Ingredients

-2 Cups of plain flour

-1 cup of porridge oats

-2oo ml of buttermilk, or normal milk with 2 tbsp of lemon juice (left to sit for 10 minutes)

-1 tsp salt

-1 heaped teaspoon of Bicarbonate of soda

Method

-Preheat oven to gas mark 8, and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

-Sift the dry ingredients(not oats) together in a bowl and THEN add the oats, then 3/4 of the milk.

-Mix together with a fork until it begins to bind. Once binding, add a bit more milk, Dust your hands with flour and knead the mixture. It should be on the sticky side, if not add the milk. Dont knead for too long. For more advice on this part of the process, go directly to the bookmark above.

-Either divide into 4  and turn into rolls, or simply plonk the dough on the paper (did I just say plonk?). Cut a cross through the top(s). And cook for about 50 minutes, when you tap the bottom of the bread, it should sound hollow.

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Filed under Bread, Pastries and Pizza, Quick, Store Cupboard

Cooking Up My Bookmarks: Quinoa Chili

I should be working right now. I should be reading about hagiography in the Merovingian period. I should be reading about bishop-saints, and how they were represented throughout the course of the middle ages. I should be reading about how the rising non-landed plutocrats of Victorian Britain were undermining the British aristocracy.

Instead I made chili. Chili with quinoa. Doesn’t it look really meaty? It does, doesn’t it? You’d be fooled into believing that that’s mince meat in there. I got my inspiration from this source, but I adapted it slightly.

It was delicious this was. It was bizarre when I was eating it because it definitely didn’t have the texture of meat, but it didn’t feel like it was trying to be something it wasn’t. It was very…wholesome? Satisfying? idunkno.

I would write more, but I’m a bit worried about my work. I hate exams.

Ingredients

-1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa

-1 red onion

-1 clove of garlic

-1 carrot

-1 green pepper

-1 tsp salt

-1 tsp gr coriander

-2 tsp cumin

-1 tsp cocoa powder

-1 tsp paprika

-1 tsp chili

-1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained

-1 x 400g tin chickpeas, barlotti beans or black beans, drained

-1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

-2 tbsp tomato puree

-200 ml water

Method

-Cover your quinoa with water, bring to the boil and cook for fifteen minutes or until it’s soft (when eaten).

-Meanwhile, cook your vetegables in some olive oil in a large saucepan and add some salt.

-Once vegetables are soft add remaining ingredients, bar the quinoa.

-Bring the mixture to the boil and add the quinoa. Cook for 15 minutes and take off the heat.

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Filed under Grains, Mexican, Pulses, Quick, Store Cupboard, Vegetarian

LOOK WHAT I MADE

Making bread is one of my weaknesses, but so is falafel. I’m sure I am not the only one who attempts falafel, only for it to fall into nothingness in the frying pan. I’ve seen many falafel recipes in my time which call for egg as a binding ingredient, which could help me avoid this problem. I SAY NO EFFING WAY. Traditional falafel recipes do not use egg. And JESSICA don’t use egg. I will avoid egg at all opportunities. No to egg.

If any of you know Paris, you know that Le Marais is home to THE BEST falafel stores in the world. This is evidently an exaggeration on my part because I have ventured little outside France and Italy, however judging by the extremely long queues, you would think that these falafel stores are selling substances other than Mediterranean snacks….

Anyway, it’s therefore always been a shame that I love falafel and have tasted some of the best falafel that can be offered, yet I can’t (couldn’t) seem to make my own. Until I realised I was making a stupid error. I was ignoring flour and baking powder. You wouldn’t think they were so important for binding, well, they are.

To sum up, falafel is great and now I can make it and wont have to go to Paris or wherever in order to have it. Basically, I love falafel, what better food could you possibly have? I’m not even sure what makes it so good, it’s chickpeas…fried…

I was also extremely happy to omit a lot of fresh things from this recipe, which makes it easy on the wallet. Yay. However, you WILL need a food processor. Enjoy.

Ingredients

-1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained.

-1 onion, chopped roughly

-2 cloves of garlic

-1 tbsp of lemon juice

-2 tbsp of flour

-1 tsp of baking powder

-1 large handful of spinach (optional)

-2 tsp of dried flat leaf parsley

-2 tsp of chilli powder (I used one, cos my mum is a wimp)

-2 tsp dried coriander

-2 tsp ground cumin

-1 tsp salt

-5-6 tbsp olive or sunflower oil (I used a mix).

Method

-Process the chickpeas until broken apart, but do not process for too long.

-Add the remaining ingredients and continue to process until the mixture comes together to resemble mashed potato almost. You will need to stop the processor from time to time in order to move the ingredients about in the container. Do not over-process, it still needs to be slightly chunky. 

-Take a teaspoon amount of the mixture, and then using your hands roll into balls. Place on a plate ready to fry, you will probably need to do it in batches.

-In a large frying pan, ideally a wok-like one, heat up the oil.

-Add about four to five balls to the oil, ideally the oil should come halfway up a ball.

-Leave the balls to cook for about 3 minutes or until dark brown, and then turn the balls over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then drain on kitchen towel.

-Do not overcrowd the frying pan! Enjoy warm, with hummus, salad, pitta or ANYTHING, FALAFEL GOES GREAT WITH ANYTHING!

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Filed under Mediterranean, Pulses, Quick, Snacks and Starters, Vegan, Vegetarian

How to be Healthy: Making Salad on a Budget

I am salad addict. I love it. Or I love them. I used to HATE salad, I would physically retch when eating it. It wasn’t a neurotic thing, I didn’t like the earthy taste or the dry texture that kind of clung to my throat, and I don’t really like the taste of the rocket that formed the basis of my mum’s salads. My mum was/is also awful at making dressings (well, she likes her dressings, but they still make me feel sick, she just adds too much mustard), when I found out how to make dressings my experiences with salad greatly improved.

I want to continue the mission of this man, Salad Pride, and transform the way people feel about salads. People think salads are comprised of lettuce and tomatoes, and placed on the side of your plate to fill up space. Not for me. I’m not gonna list the various things you can put in a salad, but I want to state that my salads are actually FILLING. People say salads can’t sustain you. THEY EFFING SUSTAIN ME. If you add the correct ingredients that provide the suitable nutrients, there’s no reason to not let salads be the centre of your life. I’m not sure if it’s me being feeble-stomached, but I can honestly say that salads FILL ME UP. Just look at Salad Pride to see how you can add grains, pulses, cheese etc to makes salads filling.

SO why salads? WHY THE HYPE? Salads are extremely healthy, the fact that the bulk of salad is made from fresh, raw vegetables (and fruit) means you’re receiving the nutrients at their optimum condition. I’m not condoning a raw diet, but eating a lot of raw food is extremely beneficial to your health. AND I KNOW people think that people who think/eat like this are weird and obsessive. And there is a common assumption that salads lovers are tired and gaunt, but I always feel great, full of energy and I never get ill.

Salad can be an expensive habit, but I stress ‘CAN’. I live on a small budget but have salads almost everyday, I always have produce that is easily grown in Britain (onions, spinach, lettuce, carrots). But recently I went to a restaurant and they introduced me to the wonders of red cabbage.

Previously I didn’t like red cabbage, it has a taste doesn’t it? It’s a bit bitter, or something. But the salad in this place was SO good, I realised that if you give cabbage a good dressing to let it soften and take away its acidity, it can taste amazing. So here is a red cabbage, apple, rocket and carrot salad. Perfect for lunch. The apple takes away the harshness of the cabbage, and the sweet carrot also counteracts this. I added the rocket to add a bit of greenage, but it’s not necessary, maybe add some lettuce, spinach, or just cut down the ingredients to cabbage, apple and carrot salad. Top with a dressing, I’ve chosen a red wine vinegar one, and it’s done! Red cabbage is very filling, something to do with its genetic make-up means it takes longer to digest, and thus it’s a low fat way to  keep you feeling fuller for longer.

AND IT’S SO CHEAP.

Ingredients- Serves 1 (the plate in this picture is MASSIVE) 

For the salad

-150 g red cabbage

-1 small braeburn apple.

-1 carrot, peeled

-1 handful of rocket

For the dressing

-3 tbsp of  red wine or balsamic vinegar

-1 tbsp of olive oil

-1/4 tsp salt

-2 tsp of lemon juice

Method

-For the salad, chop the cabbage into ribbons, and with the carrot use the peeler to create ribbons as well.  Chop the apple to whatever formation you wish. Mix in a bowl with the rocket.

-Mix together all the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.

-Leave to sit for about 5-10 minutes so the cabbage has time to soften up.

-Eat. This would be great as a make ahead lunch however the apple will turn brown, but that doesn’t mean the salad will be ruined. In fact,   the flavours of the dressing will have a longer time to be absorbed by the cabbage.

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Filed under How to be Healthy, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

How to be Healthy: Tofu Nuggets

I honestly hate snow. Look at it, being all present and debilitating. How can anyone do anything in this sort of weather? Luckily this melted within a couple of days. Global warming-1 Snow-0.

I have never really eaten tofu by myself before. I mean, I have tried others’, but I personally had never tried to cook it because I found it flavourless. That is not necessarily a bad thing, it means it can absorb all the flavours of other things, hence it is really effective in a curry or stir-fry. I got the idea for these tofu nuggets from the one and only OhSheGlows (link will open in new window). Angela has had the same experience with tofu as me, and she highly recommended these.

They did remind me a lot of chicken nuggets, my former favourite food, but eating them just didn’t feel that great. Their exterior was delicious, really delicious, but the tofu still maintained that flavourless-ness. Hmmmm. My next recipe with tofu will be roasted tofu, because I love everything roasted, and I think it will help to allow me to examine tofu’s real taste and texture.

Nonetheless, this recipe was great and I will definitely be making it again. Tofu is extremely beneficial to your health, and thus the reason why I put it in my shopping basket this week. If you’re looking for a healthy, meatless sandwich filler-choose this. If you’re looking for a chicken nugget replacement-choose this. If you’re looking for a quick, salad topper-choose this. But if you’re looking for a recipe that will enhance the taste of tofu, don’t pick this. I feel the flavours of the tofu were hidden.

Ingredients-serves 2

-200g tofu- wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen cloth, and place a couple of heavy objects (i.e plates) on top, leave for about 10-15 minutes.

-250ml of milk (soya milk etc if wanting to be vegan)

-50ml of white wine vinegar (optional)

-1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

-1/3 cup of polenta/cornmeal

-1 tsp of each: ground cumin, paprika, dried herbs, coriander and salt.

Method

-Pre-heat oven to 180 c. Lay greaseproof paper on a baking tray, or grease a baking tray.

-Whilst the tofu is soaking, in a bowl mix together the milk and vinegar.

-In another bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients (bar the tofu, obviously).

-Once the tofu has soaked, cut into strips just under 1cm thick.

-With one hand, dip a tofu strip in the milk and then into the crumb mixture. With the other hand, sprinkle a bit more of the crumb mixture on the tofu making sure the entire strip is covered and then place on the greaseproof paper.

-Continue with this with the remaining strips. You might run out of crumb mixture, if so make some more. Common sense really!

-Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the exterior has browned. Enjoy with some home-made fries or on top of a salad!

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How to be Healthy: Cheap Couscous Stew

Sorry about the poor photos, I hope they give credit to the meal, because it was really delicious, and filling. And I don’t think the photos do it justice. This photo was taken in Harrogate on a luvly winter day. Well it wasn’t that lovely, it was fricking freezing but the sun makes it look as though we were having a summer walk.

How’s the injury you ask? (I like to vent). Well, these past 2 months I have learnt many things:

  • Back pain  leads to every other pain in the entire body.
  • Backs take ages to heal. Patience is the key.
  • Don’t think that a foot injury is just a foot injury, it is probably a back injury.
  • I don’t value my mobility enough.
  • Almost everyone doesn’t value their mobility enough.
  • I genuinely do love running, and without it I am a shadow of my former self.
  • BACKS AND EVERYTHING RELATED TO SPINE PROBLEMS SUCK SO MUCH. 
  • Injuries happen, that’s life, and more often than not people recover.

What we have here is couscous cooked in chopped tomatoes, with some kidney beans, peppers, carrots and onions. Easy, cheap, healthy, filling. It’s really comforting and can be frozen/made ahead. I chose couscous because it served as a good way to bulk up the meal, without having rice. I don’t have any brown rice, and white rice would have made it too stodgy. The couscous is so soft and gives the dish a really creamy texture. Couscous has a greater flavour than rice. Other alternatives can be used, I was thinking bulgur wheat or buckwheat groats, but chose couscous to give it a great Mediterranean flavour.

Analysis of Cheap Cousous

-Couscous is one of the healthiest grains, having more vitamins that pasta, the same amount of protein and a lower glycemic index and fat content. It’s a slow energy releaser, so it beats white pasta and rice in that sense.

-The kidney beans are stuffed with fibre, giving you slow release energy. And they absorb flavours really well–very yummy.

-Chopped tomatoes–SUPERFOOD.

Ingredients-serves 3-4

-1 red onion, chopped

-1 clove of garlic chopped

-1 carrot, chopped (I did mine into discs)

-1 yellow pepper chopped

-2 x 1/3 cup of couscous (about 3/4 a mug).

-1x 400g tin of kidney beans, drained

-500ml water

-Mixed herbs

-paprika

-vegetable bouillon(optional)

-salt and pepper

Method

-In a saucepan, fry  the chopped vegetables in some oil until soft. About 10 minutes, but just use your judgement. Add about 1 tsp of herbs, paprika, bouillon, salt and pepper.

-Add the remaining ingredients, and leave to cook for about 15 minutes until the couscous tastes soft, stirring every so often. You might need to add a bit more water if it seems that the ‘stew’ is becoming a bit dry. Unlike a normal stew, do not leave this simmering for hours, otherwise the couscous will burn the surface.  Serve hot or cold.

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Filed under Grains, How to be Healthy, Mediterranean, Pulses, Quick, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian

Coconut Date Squares

Well, you can’t get much better than dates. Well, you can actually. But as sweet things go, you can’t get much better than this. Please tell what is unhealthy about something that has: oats, dates, coconut all in one? Did you know dates are used in sticky toffee pudding too? It’s INSANE. They are amazing because they are so goddamn sweet, and yes they have sugar in them. BUT they’re natural sugars. Let’s stop talking about dates.

What we have here is a porridge, coconut and date base, with a date and water topping and then a bit more of the base crumbled on top.

I’ve just finished my January university exams. I revised (attempted) all winter at home which was crap, and it was worsened by the constant pain of my back injury. I then returned to Leeds, revised for 10 days, 10am-7pm whilst sitting 4 exams in 4 of those 10 days (with one on a Saturday morning might I add). Finishing felt good. But I had a free week before lectures started, so decided to have a proper holiday, with no work and a bit more running. Thus I have lots of spare time to make things like this. Enjoy.  OH YEAH MAKE SURE THE DATES ARE SEEDLESS

Ingredients-Makes 6 filling squares -Adapted from Oh She Glows

Base-

-1 cup of porridge oats

-1/2 cup of dessicated coconut

-1/2 cup of coconut oil, or vegetable oil(obviously unhealthier though)

-5 Dates

Topping

-25 dates, maybe more.

-1 cup of water

Method

For the base

In a food processor, combine the porridge and coconut until it has a bit of a floury texture

-Add the dates, and process until it resembles crumble, a bit like rubble.

-Then melt the coconut oil , but if using vegetable oil you don’t need to, then add to the mixture and process until the mixture is sticky and looks like it could bind well without falling apart.

-Prepare a small container, about 3×5 inch, with a sheet of baking paper covering all sides.

-Place the base mixture into the container and push down firmly. It’s not rocket science. Reserving some to place on top later.

For the topping

-Process the dates with the water until it’s like a thick paste, adding more dates or more water when needed.

-Scoop out mixture and spread on top of base, then sprinkle the remaining of the base mixture on top. Or if you like, with more oats and coconut, uncombined.

-Leave to set in the fridge for 3 hours minimum.


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Filed under Healthy Sweets, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

A Lentil Christmas

Merry Christmas all. It’s five days until the big day and, for once, I’VE GOT ALL PRESENTS! This has never happened to me before.  I’m also very pleased to say that I think I’ve  got quite good presents for my family this Noel. Bring on the festivities!

However, I will find it harder than usual to be completely immersed in the festive spirit this year as my mind is  occupied by two things: my pressures from uni (4 exams 1 essay) and my healing process from my injury. The injury wont budge, which means I’m tied to the pool. BUT HEY IT’S CHRISTMAS AND IT COMES BUT ONCE A YEAR!

So right here I’ve made a delicious semi-raw lentil salad. When it comes to the Christmas season, it’s important to retain some normality and have healthy days. I spent the first 15 years of my life eating a lot of rubbish, then I had a turnaround and now I actually crave raw salads and the such. So when people talk about their over indulgence over the holiday season, I don’t have reciprocal guilt, because I have wholesome, TASTY stuff like this.

Ingredients

1 cup of brown lentils

-3 cups of water

-Any seasoning you wish, I used salt, pepper and garlic powder.

-1 half of a red onion-chopped finely

-2x salad onions-chopped

-1 stick of celery-chopped

-1 carrot-shredded

-1 handful of crushed walnuts

-1 small handful of blueberries (optional, they were just in my fridge)

-4-5 black olives (again optional)-chopped

-4 cherry tomatoes, or 1 tomato-chopped

Method

-Bring lentils and water to boil, add seasoning and leave to simmer for about  30 minutes or until lentils are soft. Mine took about 40 minutes. Remember to add water if it looks like it’s disappearing.

-Drain lentils and put in a bowl with the other ingredients. A some French dressing, or  a new favourite of mine: tahini lemon dressing from Angela Liddon.

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Filed under Grains, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

Sweet’n’Spicy Tabbouleh

MMM, tabouleh, eh? Who doesn’t love some Mediterranean freshness to pick them in the ridiculously foggy weather up here in Leeds, and whereever you are. I’m sure the weather is pretty much dismal everywhere. I don’t seem to be taking that much notice or even care because I am so happy to be finally healed (touch wood), after having been injured for the past 2 1/2 weeks in the run up to two races. My first 10k took place on Sunday 20th and it was incredible, I got 46:43 which I’m happy with seeing as I hadn’t done any proper training and it was my first 10k, and I hadn’t really been able to break past the 8 minute miling stage in the run up to the race. Anyway blah blah blah, I did it and pain free.

This tabbouleh is gorgeous because it has the spiciness of the raw red onions and jalapeños, which the tomatoes and sultanas cut through. Of course, feel free to make this ‘sweet’n’spicy’-less by ignoring the jalapeños and sultanas which are an addition of my own.

Ingredients (serves 1)

1/4 cup of bulgar wheat

-2 cups of water

-1 tsp vegetable stock

-2 tsp cayenne pepper

-1 tsp cajun spice(optional)

-2 tsp jalapeños

1/2 red onion

1 tomato

-1/2 tbsp of sultanas

3 tbsp of french dressing (method to follow)

4 tbsp oil

-3 tsbp white wine vinegar

-1 tsp whole grain mustard-SHAKE IT ALL UP.

Method

Put the bulgar wheat, sultanas and water in a saucepan and bring to boil, once boiling lower to a medium heat adding the vegetable stock, cayenne and cajun spice. A little salt wouldn’t go amiss too. Cook the bulgar wheat to packet instructions, normally 15 minutes, or until it is soft. Drain it.

-Chop up tomatoes, onions and jalapeños finely. Add these to the bulgar wheat and sultanas, mix and fluff up with a fork.

-Pour over French dressing and mix well.

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Best Basic Spaghetti Sauce

Eeek, so I have just done the first of two races after having a mild injury. I have been wearing those great heated back patches, oh they are SO GOOD. The week before the race had been the longest of my life, I woke up every morning preying that the first step I took wont leave this weird rushing sensation in my foot. The foot injury led a distinct tightness in my lower back, which I got loosened by the sports masseuse, and it felt amazing. The race was SO fun. I went to Edinburgh with my cross country club and we had such a laugh, the course was extremely muddy. I took it slightly easier for fear of hurting my foot, that was hard cos I just wanted to pelt myself down the hills, but had to hold back to make sure I didn’t put too much force up on my foot. I’ve got my first 10k on Sunday, it’s a shame cos I don’t think I’ll do the best time cos my training’s been crap and I expect my foot might still be twinging, but oh well.

Anyway, the reason for having this pasta recipe is because I always have pasta before a race. I’m not a fan of pasta, and it may be the inner dietress in me, or maybe it’s my aversion to boring foodstuff, but hey IT HAS TO BE DONE.

In order for me to enjoy eating this, I have to make it healthy. It has to be really full of flavour and anti-oxidants, and the pasta has to be wholegrain obviously. This meal is also good cos it’s easy. You can make the sauce in the time that your pasta is cooking, but to be honest the longer you leave it cooking the nice more time the flavours have to mature.

Ingredients-4 servings of pasta sauce

-Olive oil

-1 white onion, peeled and chopped

-1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped

-1 carrot, peel and chopped

-1 courgette grated

-1 tin of black eyed beans drained

-2tsp salt, herbs and spices

-3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

-1 tin chopped tomatoes

Method

Heat the oil in saucepan, and added the carrot, onion and garlic. Add salt to stop the onions from sticking to the surface and cook on a medium heat until the onions are soft, stirring from time to time.

-Once soft, add the remaining ingredients and leave to cook for about half an hour. Stirring often, make sure it doesn’t boil too much.

-Serve with pasta, preferably wholegrain. EASY.

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Filed under Pulses, Quick, Rice and Pasta, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian