Category Archives: Snacks and Starters

I don’t even like bananas that much…

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So like, this was gonna be a great comeback post with TWO banana recipes, Banana Clusters and Banana Bread. However, although the banana bread (made with dates AND walnuts) was delicious, when I turned it out onto the cooling rack, a bit of the bottom fell off, and I didn’t wanna take a photo of a bloody ugly cake. So yeh, just one banana recipe. Soz.

The reason I have so many bananas is because my parents, my mum, seem to still be buying food for 5 people when actually there are only 2 of them, neither of whom eat bananas. So I came back for a week from France to find, amongst eggs dating back from September and hummus from January, 9 over ripe bananas.

‘WE GOTTA DO SOMEFING WITH THESE BANANAS’ me and my sis said. So I made these Banana coconut clusters and banana bread.

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Now my house smells like bloody bananas.

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BANANA CLUSTERS

Ingredients

-1 cup of porridge oats, 1/2 cup of porridges processed to rubble (don’t worry if you can’t do this)

-1/2 cup of ground almonds, or another type of nut

-1/3 cup of desiccated coconut

-1/2 cup of sultanas (or chocolate chips???)

-1/4 cup mixed nuts (optional)

-1 tsp baking powder

-1 tsp vanilla essence

-1 tsp ground nutmeg

-3 very ripe bananas

-1/4 cup of melted coconut oil

Method

-Pre-heat oven to gas mark 5 and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

-Mix together all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and mix together all the wet ingredients (the banana, vanilla essence and coconut) in another one.

-Add the wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix reallly well.

-Make your clusters. I used about a teaspoon for each cluster, and placed them on the baking tray. I think it was about 9-12 clusters on each tray.

-Cook for about 20 minutes, or less depending on your oven, until golden brown and firm to touch.

-Leave to cool, this will allow them to firm up.  ANNJOYYY BON APPETIT.

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Filed under Healthy Sweets, Snacks and Starters

Merry Noël (Christmas Crackers)

Hello. I haven’t written in a long time because I am lazy and fresh produce in France is actually not great and I am lazy. Thus cooking creatively isn’t high on my to do list. I still like food though so don’t worry. I have had a lovely first semester in France, it’s been great, I’ve met great people and the weather has been great. What I have realised mostly this semester is that the French are slim because the food is too expensive. It’s been hard going from Leeds to Montpellier, where sweet potaotes are about 2 € per ‘patate’. Mayynnnn.

017Christmas in France is not necessarily the same as Christmas in the UK. I feel they do the façade  they do the lights and the Christmas market. BUT IT’S NOT THE SAME. That’s why I am very happy to be back in London and celebrating Christmas here being jolly and eating. It sounds so cliché, but now it feels like Christmas.

If you were ask me how France has changed me, I’d say that I am now a cheese and coffee snob.  I nothing-ed coffee before I came to France, but now I have an obsession with good coffee. No instant please. I loved cheese beyond all measure before I came to France, but the obsession has since increased. To share this obsession, I brought back more than 1 kg of French cheeses, including this one, a Brie with a line of 5 berries down the middle. I love cheese.

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SO THEREFORE, it only seemed suitable that I made crackers for the cheese. I made poppy seed crackers. And because my sister can’t eat flour I also made oatcakes. Yummy. Everyone please have an amazing Christmas, or enjoy your holidays!

Xmas 2012 071ed

 

Poppy Seed Crackers-makes 20 crackers-adapted from this

Ingredients

-1 cup of plain flour

-1 tsp salt

-1 tsp sugar

-1 1/2 tbsp cold butter, diced

-1 tbsp poppy seeds

-5 tbsp milk

-Salt crystals

Method

-Sieve the flour salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl.

-With your fingers, crumble together this mixture with the diced butter until it resembles very fine breadcrumbs.

-Add the poppy seeds and milk, and with your hands, start to knead the mixture together to form a soft dough ball.

-Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

-Pre-heat oven to gas mark 2/300f/150 c and line a baking tray or perhaps two with baking parchment.

-After an hour, unwrap dough and lightly dust a surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out dough until about 5 mm thick, then cut shapes. Place shapes on baking sheet, brush lightly with milk and sprinkle salt crystals on top.

-Place in the oven for half an hour, making sure to keep an eye on the crackers. Once browned and the base feels firm, take out and leave to cool.

Xmas 2012 079ed

Oatcakes-makes 20 oatcakes

Ingredients

-200g rolled porridge oats, processed to make oatmeal.

-1 tsp salt

-1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

-2tbsp butter

-1/4 pint of boiling water

Method

-Mix together the ingredients apart from the water.

-Add the 1/4 pint of boiling water slowly whilst using a spoon to bring the ingredients together to form a moist ball. DONT do what I did, and be abstemious with the water, use all of it otherwise the ball will fall apart.

-Wrap in cling film and place in fridge for at least an hour.

-Preheat oven to gas mark 5/375 f/190 c and line two baking trays with baking sheets.

-After at least an hour, unwrap dough and place on a surface dusted with porridge oats. Using a rolling pin also dusted with oats, roll out the dough as thin as possible, being careful not to break the dough too much.

-Cut your shapes and place on the baking sheet. Brush with milk (if at hand) and place in oven for 30 minutes, or until the cakes are hard and starting to brown a tiny bit. Take out and leave to cool.

 

 





 

 

 

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Filed under Bread, Pastries and Pizza, Snacks and Starters, Store Cupboard

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: Olives, but Nicer.

I have never laid claim to being the most open eater. Let me tell you, as I child I was awful. I still have my friends’ mums telling me how hard it was for them to cater for me when I came round. I think they tell me their stories with quite a happy retrospect, but I know deep down they’re screaming “DAMN IT THAT GIRL WAS SO RIDICULOUS”. The favourite story for my friend and her mum to tell me and everyone over and over is when the mum asked what I like to eat, I said I like eating chicken dippers. So she made me chicken dippers and I said, “I said I like chicken dippers, I didn’t say I wanted them”. I still vow that THIS NEVER HAPPENED. Fussy eating is fun to laugh at by many (I know, I do it now), but I didn’t enjoy being a fussy eater. Dinner scared me a lot when going to relatives’ and friends’ houses,  it wasn’t fun for me either. It’s easy to tell someone “just have some of the sweetcorn”, when that person is mortified they’re going to throw up. I was evidently a very dramatic child. But something happened, I went to my cousin’s wedding at the age of 12, and was made to eat a set menu which I had no control over. And that did it. I loved the food they gave me and from then on I tried everything I was given.

But because of this fussy past, there are still some foods which retain awful memories, which I will eat but unhappily. Boiled eggs for example. And olives, I just knew I didn’t like them, and I constantly tried to eat them and it just didn’t work, they weren’t nice. However, I begun, in time, to be able to palate them. My very good friend told me “I hated olives too, but just make yourself like them”. There is still something GEURGH about them, but after realising they’re so cheap I’m not going to let them pass me.

So these olives are for the person who was/is like me. Palatable olives, or NICE OLIVES. Stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes or cheese, covered in breadcrumbs and fried. They’re completely malleable to your tastes, add Stilton, peppers, or jalapeños!  Alternatively, you could buy your olives pre-stuffed. 

Analysis of Stuffed Olives:

  • Olives, not just olive oil, are healthy. When eaten in moderation these are little bombs of anti-oxidants, brilliant for the stomach and most definitely reduce the risk of diabetes.
  • If stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, you’re benefiting from the super-food benefits of tomatoes.
  • These are oily and rich, due to being lightly coated in bread and because olives themselves are filling, they are therefore effective as a snack that you wont eat tonnes of.

Ingredients-Adapted from Lisa is Cooking (thank you Lisa!)

-Olives without the stone, however many you want of whatever kind. I’m convinced that black olives are my favourite.

-1 egg whisked with a fork, in a bowl

-1 cup of bread crumbs, in a bowl

-1 tbsp of plain flour, in a bowl

-the filling of your choice, cut slim so you can push it into the olives.

-4 tbsp oil Olive oil

Method

-With a tooth pick, poke your fillings into the olive.

-Dip the olives into the flour, then in the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Another method (if you’re interested, which I was cos I don’t like egg so like to use as little possible) which might collect more breadcrumbs is dipping the olives into the EGG FIRST, then the flour and then THE EGG again, and then into the breadcrumbs. Both worked fine, I think it all depends on how much egg and flour you’re coating the olives with.

-In a deepish frying pan, if available, heat up the olive oil. Place the breaded olives into the oil, and with a utensil of some sort make sure the whole olive is covered in oil. Gently fry the olives into they are brown and place on a kitchen towel to drain them of the oil.

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Filed under How to be Healthy, Mediterranean, Other, Snacks and Starters, Vegetarian

Sympathy Soup

I’m officially out of running for the next week. I keep on NOT running, and then racing straight away. So now I am voluntarily descending into depression because I can’t run, and swimming and cycling just don’t cut it at all. I’d rather do nothing (that’s a lie, but whilst my hamstring feels like it’s about to explode, I can’t really do any physical exertion).  I suspect it will only be a week out, but still. Anyway, in the mean time I am making myself boring meals like soup because I can’t have anything unhealthy or too carby because I’m doing no sport. Joy.

Anyway I’ve been craving mushroom soup because I love the smell of mushrooms and garlic and feel free to remove the garlic in the recipe (but why would you WANT to?). I wanted to make this without cream because it’s not needed in soups but many supermarkets and big brands tend to put cream in soups. I avoided this just by blending the soup in my food processor and it got a great smooth texture. How could you make this more filling? Well I read this on OhSheGlows, where she adds quinoa which I must say is a great idea but it might make it a bit bitty. Of course add pearl barley, but that means the cooking process is longer. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s quick, easy and tasty.

Sorry I’m in such a foul and boring mood. I have no appetite because I’m not running, therefore food no longer interests me.

Ingredients

-1x white onion-chopped

-3x cloves of garlic-chopped

-100g mushrooms chopped

-500ml of vegetable stock

-1 tsp mustard (optional).

Method

-Fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms in some olive oil and salt until very soft.

-Add the stock and bring to the boil. Once boiling add the mustard and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes.

-Put in a food blender and blend until it has a creamy texture.

-Yum.

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Filed under Snacks and Starters, Store Cupboard, Vegan, Vegetarian

Super Saver Roast Tomatoes

Hello, happy autumn from West Yorkshire, the home of the best landscape in the world (according to me, who hasn’t been to many places).  I haven’t written for a long time, and that’s for numerous reasons. I’ve been very busy whilst being back at University. Most of the time I’m either studying, socialising or, more often than not, training with cross country. This has resulted in me being very unadventurous with food, I always resort to courgette fritters or  my super food salad consisting of: roasted pepper, garlic and sweet potato, spinach, lettuce, grated carrot, raw red onion, jalapeños topped with feta, hummus and balsamic vinegar, with a brown bread roll. Why would I want to cook anything else? But I do branch out, don’t worry. I make pizza and squash, and pastry things.

I’ve been injured these past 3 days and I think I’m going insane without running, and I’ve been a bit of wreck because I have two races lined up. I’m taking it easy today with a 3-4 mile run and going to see how that turns out. I think it will be okay, if not I have a free sports massage woo-hoo.

Right here we have sweet roasted tomatoes. My friend’s dad made them for her, and when she invited me round for a cheese night I went crazy for these things. They’re absolutely delicious, and perfect with anything. Remember: tomatoes are healthier cooked!
Ingredients

1 pack of cherry tomatoes

-Olive oil. And lots of it.

-1 tbsp of dried herbs (Rosemary, thyme, basil and sage). I have a mixed pack for money’s sake, but obviously you use can use different quantities etc.

-1 dessert spoon of salt

-1 dessert spoon of sugar (I used demerera).

Method
 Pre-heat oven to 180 c.

-Find a small baking tray, it should be small, otherwise you’ll be using lots of oil which is not necessary.

-Fill baking try with cherry tomatoes, make sure they’re not piled on top of each other, and pour in oil till it covers half of tomatoes. Cover with rest of ingredients, and use a spoon or whatever to make sure all the tomatoes covered with oil and herbs etc.

-Put in the oven for 4 hours, checking every hour or so to shake the oil ingredients about. There will be double amounts of liquid as tomatoes release their juices, don’t worry. The tomatoes are done when they are shrivelled up like so.

-Preserve in oil, and eat whenever!!

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Filed under Mediterranean, Snacks and Starters, Vegan, Vegetarian

Oatcakes

Oatcakes are great. My doctor recommended them to me for good ways of snacking, but they’re really good after meals aswell with cheese, or they taste really good with yoghurt. I love them. And, like the true thrifty I am, I’ll tell you that they are very cheap to make, VERY CHEAP. What’s good about oatcakes is that you can jazz them up in anyway you like, below are some ways to do so.

Anyway, I’ll shut up, and keep this post simple-like the oatcakes.

Ingredients-about 15-20 cakes

-200g oatmeal, plus extra for dusting

-1/2 tsp bicarb of soda

-1/4 pint of boiling water

-2 tbsp olive oil, or melted butter (oil is healthier)

-1 tsp salt

Jazzed up oats cakes , use all of the above plus:

-2-3 tsp of thyme

-2 tbsp chopped up blueberries, or raspberries

-2 tbsp dried fruit

-1 tsp grated cheddar cheese.

Method

-Preheat oven to gas mark 5, 200 c. and line 1-2 baking trays with greaseproof paper.

-Mix up all the ingredients except the water first. Then slowly add the water until you get a moist doughy mixture that can form into a ball and feels quite sticky to touch.

-Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with some more oatmeal and roll out your dough to about 3-4mm thickness.

-Using a cutter, or just a knife, form circular, or square, (or any type of) shapes. Try to use up all the mixture, by continuously collecting scraps of the dough, adding a bit of water water and repeating the above process. Place all your shapes on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cakes starting to brown at the edges and feel hard when you touch them.

-Don’t worry some will evidently fall apart, but that’s just the way the OATCAKE crumbles.

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Filed under Grains, Snacks and Starters, Vegan, Vegetarian