Lifebox – Birthday Box

Lifebox. A monthly package delivered to your door, bursting at the seams with snacks, powders, treats, chocolate, drinks and teas to enrich your life, widen your tastebuds and make healthy eating easy and accessible in your busy lives. Jennie and her team have now been providing people across the country with their goodies for the past three years, I have been following them from the very off after finding them on Instagram and watching how far they have come since then.

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With a choice of four different boxes to either order as a one off or as a subscription there is something to suit every lifestyle and pocket. The everyday wellness box, the men’s health box and the women’s health box all costing £22.95, encasing full sized products from exciting new startups and old favourites on the market. Also there’s the Lifebox mini, offering samples of products featured in the everyday Lifebox for a smaller price, so you can dip your toe in the water before committing.

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Is there anything more enjoyable than receiving a parcel in the post? Not really. It’s like Christmas day for me! So the fact that if you subscribe to Lifebox every month you will receive a jam-packed white box, with food and drinks to fall in love with, that’s a pretty great thing to look forward to. Also included is a booklet with workout routines anything from HIIT to yoga and recipes from guest bloggers using ingredients found in the box so when you’re lacking some inspiration you know where to turn.

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So in this birthday box, first some things that were well-known to me:

Alongside that many new nibbles:

Standouts of the group have to be the Vild and Co. granola. Strong in cinnamon but a tart bitterness cuts through from the bilberries. It’s addictive. It’s granola, what’s not to love. The Wilde Nuts chocolate cashew butter is mightily good, creamy but with a good cacao hit. In porridge with raspberries…NEXT LEVEL. I’ve also been enjoying the energy bomb sachet from Your Superfoods in my overnight oats. Cinnamon typically is the only spice or powder that features in my breakfasts (maybe maca if i’m feeling fancy), but this mix-up of açai, guarana, lucuma, maca and banana powder is nice to switch things up a bit. Lightly sweet from the banana, supposedly great for energy levels, not that I’ve noticed a difference but as long as it tastes good, that’s what we’re here for really!?! A note on the Leithy Creates raw puds, specifically the peanut butter truffle, it’s a good job that you don’t get more than one they’re devilishly good and would be polished off in one sitting!

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Head on over to their website to see what’s in store for this months’ box. Follow them on instagram @lifeboxfoodco for some daily inspiration for recipes, the breakfast and drinks in particular are really rather funky, and the odd giveaway here and there. you never know you might be the lucky devil one day! Don’t miss out on the seasonal specials either, at Christmas time and Easter there tends to be a luxury Lifebox, full of seasonal treats. Better than your tub of quality streets?? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

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The Nutty Group – Nutty Nibbles

Certain times and certain days require snacks. Copious amounts of them. On those kinds of days, there may have been a superrrrr early wake up, say 5:30/6, a rushed breakfast and lunch isn’t until 1pm. An apple or banana simply won’t cut it.

On days like these, my sweet tooth tends to kick in. A gooey medjool date may come to mind, but some nut butter is always preferable to cut through that richness. Instead, reaching for a bliss ball, where everything is handily packed into a transportable bite, that’s what I’m after. Cup of tea or coffee NECESSARY.

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The Nutty Group are a smoothies and juices start up and have now expanded their product range to nibbles. Available in 5 varieties, coconut blueberry, mango coconut almond, apricot and chia seed, apricot and cashew and their autumnal special, pumpkin pie. Simply organic dried fruit and nuts, to provide a treat or snack high in fibre and healthy fats.

My favourite has to be a toss up between the pumpkin pie and the apricot and chia seed. The pumpkin pie, has flecks of green from the pumpkin seeds and a hint of warming cinnamon spice. Anything with cinnamon in makes me one happy gal. The apricot and chia, is wonderfully caramelly, since they’ve used unsulphured apricots the darker and deeper flavoured than your typical orange dried apricots, and the chia seeds add a nubbly texture and some crunch.

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If you’re after some dried fruit and nut nibbles using organic ingredients and different flavours to those you tend to find in shops, then head on over to the nutty group’s online shop. You will also find their treats in the October Primal Snack box, or head to Veg Fest London on the 21st-22nd of October where they will be waiting with snaackksss!

I would like to say a big thank you to The Nutty Group for sending me over some of their bites to sample and spread the word to all of my lovely readers. I hope soon to be bringing you more product reviews, sometimes life is too hectic to make things yourself and we all need a bit of help and assistance!

Much love and nibbling

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The Allotment Vegan Restaurant – Review

The most unlikely of places for a vegan restaurant, it’s true. Fine dining vegan even more so! Manchester has the odd few places, V Rev for the times when you are in need of some serious junk food action and The Earth Centre for vegan comfort food like dahls, pies and soups. Then most places have some vegan options on the menu, but they never really stray much further than a bean burger or some fried tofu. Wander slightly further afield to Stockport however, a 20 minute drive, and there you will find what is starting to become a foodie mecca.

Down a steep declining hill from the market, on the corner of Vernon street you will find a bright, minimal but warm restaurant, stocked with hanging plants and succulents and a bustling open kitchen. We visited shortly before 7 on a Thursday night and it was almost full and by the time it hit 8:30 every table had guests, a good sign that they’re doing something right!!

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Starting with some water flavoured with cucumber, mint and orange as we browsed the menu, deciding between the 10 or 7 course taster menu, the a la carte or the early bird. The menu is short and concise, but even so I struggled making a decision on what to eat, everything sounded so tempting. The wine and beer list isn’t extended either, all the more easier to pick and choose, a few award winning wines and craft ales, also a wine pairing menu if you so wish. I would have walked out sloshed if that were the case.

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First out came an amuse bouche, aubergine, beetroot and cucumber, a perfect little tasty concoction whilst sipping on our chardonnay, just a little taster of what was to come. Don’t get me started on the plates, the temptation to lick the plate clean and stuff it into my handbag definitely ran through my mind.

Next along came the starters, one the courgette scallop with sea herb salsa verde. A pan-fried courgette scallop with a samphire salsa verde on a celeriac puree, tapioca pearl, apple and nori. A salty sea freshness and the smoothest celeriac puree that has ever graced my mouth. Alongside the allotments’ signature dish cauliflower hot wings with some roast garlic hummus. Addictive doesn’t even explain it. My mum is not a fan of cauliflower at all. No matter how much I try to disguise the flavours she will always shove it to the side of the plate for me to pick at. These went down pretty well though. How can they not really? They’re deep fried!! 😛

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I opted for the aubergine manchurian for main, an indo-chinese spiced confit aubergine, spring onion rice, chilli popcorn, lemon kale, pickled vegetables and fried enoki. Full of different textures and flavours, some spicy some sharp and the meaty aubergine to mop up all the lovely sauce. For my mum was the sweetcorn and pickled chilli. A fried sweetcorn and jalapeno fritter, lemon thyme and cumin potato puree, tomato marmalade glazed roasted romanesco, white bean, pine nut and avocado. All plants. Yep not a bit of meat, eggs or dairy in sight! And that’s coming from someone who when a dish isn’t feeling quiiiitteeee right, cheese is always the answer.

Another glass of wine down and out came an unexpected (and my favourite bit of the night). A PRE DESSERT. Can this be made obligatory at every restaurant. K thanks. A bottom layer of turmeric custard, topped with a pink fir apple compote and some toasted chopped hazelnuts. We could’ve eaten this by the bucket full. Only to be followed by the dessert, a sweet potato custard tart with meringue shards and lemon sorbet. Nicely spiced, in between an egg(less) custard and a pumpkin pie, a bit of crisp from the meringue, all cut with some zing in the lemon sorbet. We did share the dessert, I’m sure much to the dismay of some of you, but stuffed we were and it topped off a lovely meal.

Sorry that there’s no images of the pre-dessert and dessert, you’ll just have to picture it in your head. We just wanted to tuck straight in for once, it was my birthday, let me off!

I’d like to add that neither me nor my mum are vegan or even vegetarian for that matter. We tend to eat plant based meals the majority of the time, but still do enjoy some fish once or twice a week and the odd roast chicken or steak. That being said, dinner at the allotment was refreshing and inspiring, every plate full of varying textures and using ingredients together that you would not normally dream of. There is indeed a cheese course. Cultured nut cheeses served with seasonal nut cheeses and raw crackers, something that I am yet to try and anticipating it to be sooner rather than later!

Starters cost £6-£7, mains are between £17 and £18 and desserts are £7, it’s fine dining so don’t expect large portions, but that just means you can try more of what they have to offer. If you do visit though, please make sure to order the cauliflower hot wings. Just for me. Even if that’s all you go for, it’ll be completely worth it.

The Allotment Vegan, 6 Vernon St, Stockport, SK1 1TY

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BBQ pulled shrooms and beans

I am not one for fake meats, vegan versions of chicken nuggets and ‘vegan cheeze’. They just taste too funky and as someone who isn’t vegan (or vegetarian even) the concept of cheese which isn’t, when I would much happier delve into a chunk of cheddar, it just doesn’t register.

Saying that it seems these sorts of dishes are popping up on menus as the majority of the public are becoming aware of meat consumption and its effects on the environment. One in particular I’m spying on my Instagram feed is the jackfruit. Said to be the contender to pulled pork, the soft tooth-wielding and melting meat, with lashings of BBQ sauce, requires a certain hunch to make sure it ends up in your mouth rather than all down your front.

Out for lunch the other day with my mum, BBQ pulled jackfruit cropped up. Piled onto some toasted sourdough with lettuce and tomato, never had I eaten it before, plus the sight of BBQ sauce made me in deep need for some of that sweet and smoky sauce. Upon arrival, due to being hungry dived in pretty swiftly, but on eating my thoughts quickly dissipated. Not enough BBQ sauce, not enough of that smoky addictive lick-your-lips-smackingly good flavour and the jackfruit, well it was ok. It had the texture of a stringy fibrous fruit, perhaps if the BBQ sauce was better it would have been a more enjoyable experience overall. I’m sad it didn’t live up to expectations, but there’s still plenty of time to experience another one.

Anyone have any tips for a good pulled jackfruit burger, and by good I mean even better than a pulled pork (I’m sure it’s highly possible) Manchester or northern England preferred, pictures of proof is good enough though!!

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One day last week I was wondering what to cook for my mum and I for dinner. Fancying a baked potato because STODGE=LIFE and beans were on my mind. It’s a classic British combination baked beans on a jacket potato. You feeling the need to be truly British? try baked beans on toast with grated cheese, oh you’ve hit the jack pot. I had a quick flick through Laura Wright’s cookbook, The First Mess for some inspiration, to come across BBQ mushrooms on toast. Well I had loads of mushrooms in the fridge that needed eating, I could add some kidney beans for that baked bean vibe, and BBQ sauce. That’s what I’m looking for to satisfy that craving.

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The sauce is really simple to make just a few store cupboard ingredients needed, to be left with a deeply flavoured BBQ with heaps of oomph and a little tingly spice. Feel free to stick close to the original recipe and keep it solely mushroom based just double the amount used, or skip the mushrooms entirely and use an extra tin of beans.

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We have a baked bean/pulled pork hybrid going here, may as well have both if you can! For a vegetarian, or plant based eater, the mushroom is the meatiest of textures you can get without straying anywhere near to the meat substitutes. By slicing them thinly and cooking them over a high heat first so they lose their excess water and shrink down, this resembled the ‘pulled pork’ element. I served it on a baked jacket potato the first time and brown rice the second but a sweet potato, also piled onto a burger bun would be more than marvellous, just make sure to add all the fixings. Pickles, extra sauce and mustard are all necessary!

 

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BBQ pulled shrooms and beans

Ingredients

  • 300g mushrooms (I used large flat mushrooms), sliced very thinly
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/2 tsp sweet smoked (dulce) paprika, use a little more if using a paprika from the supermarket
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tin plum tomatoes, blitzed up in a blender till smooth, failing that use 400g passata
  • 25 ml maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Directions

  1. Heat some oil in a large frying on a medium high heat. When hot add the mushrooms and leave for a minute or two. Once the water starts evaporating stir them gently to move around the pan, you want to let all the water escape and make sure they don’t stew. Once the mushrooms start to sizzle and have shrunk down in size, this will take up to 5 minutes, transfer them to a plate and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat down to low and add a little more oil to the pan along with the onion and garlic. Cook gently until the onion is soft and translucent, if it starts to stick add a little water.
  3. Once soft add the paprika, mustard and chilli flakes stir until they start to smell fragrant and quickly add the blitzed tinned tomatoes, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and tamari. Bring to the boil and then turn down low and leave to simmer gently.
  4. After around 5 minutes and once the sauce has thickened and reduced slightly add the mushrooms, stir to coat and leave to reduce for a further 5-10 minutes. Add the beans for the final few minutes.
  5. You want a sauce that coats the beans and mushrooms, with enough extra to mop up with some carbzzzz. Taste for seasoning, there should be a balance of sweet, spice, salty with a little acidic kick at the end. Add extra salt, pepper, mustard or chilli if you so wish.
  6. Serve over your carb of choice, a slaw on the side, some avo and extra hot sauce for shaking over liberally.

I have a feeling this recipe is going to be on repeat this autumn and winter. Today being the autumn equinox the days are slowly turning into longer, darker and cooler ones. For me that means deep bowls of soul soothing warm dishes. Preferably with some spice, hot sauce always on the side and a good bit of stodge to keep those chills at bay. I hope you enjoy this recipe a much as I did!

On a side note, it was my birthday yesterday, and this weekend I will be celebrating with all my family and friends. Of course that means lots of cake and sweet treats (brownies, blondies and bakewell tarts in my case!!), bubbles and dancing it all off till my little toes can’t stand it no more. I’ll report back next week, once I have recovered!

Till then my loves

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Funky ferments from Loving Foods

I’m sure many of you reading this will be well and truly familiar with kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi. Perhaps due to the fact that I talk about them quite often, always giving that gut some good loving! Or maybe it’s due to them going through a hype at the moment, these new foods that we are discovering and adding to our diets which are actually age old processes that past generations lost the taste and practice for.

In London and other major capital cities or areas of known ‘wellness’, these foods are a regular on the menu and found in every health food shop. Occasionally kombucha is even served on tap in bars!!! Kombucha shots, now that’s some drinking game I’d happily be a part of. I have a few favourite brands of kombucha from my stints in living in London, particularly Jarr and Wild Fizz kombucha. There are now so many new companies popping up with unique and interesting flavours it’s hard to keep up.

Now there’s a little problem in that I live in the north of England. To the majority, fermented tea sounds like a brew that you put down and forgot about for a few days, only to find it smelling slightly cheesy a few days later.

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Thankfully that’s not what it is, and there are a few new companies in Manchester alone busy brewing up the bubbly stuff. One of these is Loving Foods. Situated in Hale Barns they’re a relatively new start up founded by brother and sister Mendel and Faye. They specialise in fermented foods and drinks, none of them pasteurised so the good bacteria is alive and thriving to maintain a healthy gut flora. Everything is made traditionally, salt, vegetables and spices left to sit and bubble until tangy, and the kombucha made from green tea to leave that fruity-almost-cider flavour us booch fans adore.

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I first picked up a bottle of their hibiscus and lime booch from a cafe called The Garden in Hale who stock a small range of their products to buy. Loving Foods products are also available to buy online if you are not from the area and they also deliver worldwide! Anyone else know how to describe the flavour of hibiscus? Me neither, but it’s tart and refreshing all the same. Poured directly over ice for a boost, or if you’re feeling naughty on a Saturday night, mixed with some vodka. Don’t blame me if the results are less than virtuous!!

The other flavours on offer are blueberry and lavender, lemon and ginger, matcha and mint and grapefruit hibiscus and ginger – which is my favourite of the lot! Something for everyone and every mood. They also produce a drink called Jun, one I hadn’t heard of until recently, similar to a kombucha however instead of sugar it is fermented with honey. Thought to originate in Tibet and known as the champagne of kombucha, this is a very special and niche drink that you won’t be able to find in many other places.

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Alongside the drinks Loving Foods also produce cultured vegetables. Sauerkraut – classic, sauerkraut – juniper and caraway, kimchi – classic, kimchi – turmeric and black pepper and their own creation of krautchi – a blend of carrot, kohlrabi and fennel. Their sauerkraut is as tangy as it should be, and would happily sit besides a bratwurst as it would a buddha bowl. The kimchi has a little more heat (not blow your head off though) with some fragrance from the ginger and garlic. All the cultured vegetables are easy to add to your diet, breakfast, lunch or dinner, and even snacks they’ll find their way in! High in prebiotics to feed your gut bacteria and also those necessary probiotics to increase the diversity of your gut microbiota too.

SO. I am SUPERRRR excited to announce that I have paired up with Loving Foods, and I have 3 kombuchas and 3 of the cultured vegetables to giveaway. One of you lucky lot will get your hands upon the blueberry and lavender kombucha, lemon and ginger and grapefruit, hibiscus and ginger AND also a jar of sauerkraut, kimchi and a krautchi too. A little bit of everything that Loving Foods have on offer. To enter find me on Instagram @theahudson and follow the instructions on the post. Sadly I can only offer this to those of you in the UK, but the main reason is to draw attention to this young company who have big things ahead of them. I’m sure we shall we seeing a lot more of them in the near future!

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So you GUYZZZZ. Head on over to my Instagram to enter and tell all of your friends so you have a better chance of winning, the competition closes at 11:59pm Monday 18th September GMT, so that gives you 1 week, and I will choose at random and announce the winner on Tuesday. Best of luck to you all, and a big thank you to Loving Foods. Someone is in for a real treat.

Sorry folks the giveaway has now ended. Thank you to all who entered!

CHEERS my lovelies *raises glass of booch!*

XX

 

Millet and quinoa pancakes

Pancakes.

According to the English Oxford Dictionary a pancake is ‘a thin flat cake of batter, fried on both sides in a pan, and typically rolled up with a sweet or savoury filling’. Well that pretty much sums up what we call a pancake here in the UK but it can come in many forms from all stretches of the globe. The French crépes, British scotch pancakes, dutch poffertjes, or what the word conjures up in my mind, the American pancake. Thick, fluffy, piled into a teetering tower and drenched in maple syrup and slabs of butter.

Memories of past holidays to Florida and New York, obviously integrated a trip (or two) to a proper American diner. There may have been biscuits and gravy, hash browns and eggs over easy on the menu, who knows what else. My eyes searched for one thing only, pancakes. My first experience was a bit of a shocker, used to the scotch pancakes at home – small one or two mouthfuls at the very most – I was not expecting pancake pillows to arrive. Three, each the size of the plate, edging on an inch thick, a dab of butter sat slumping on top and the maple syrup, or is it called pancake syrup?? Well that was there waiting on the side. Needless to say I was a growing girl so I sure managed the plateful with no issues.

On my trip to New York, we found ourselves in a place called Tick Tock Diner, right across from Penn Station. It was a sunny but brisk morning (those winds that gust down the avenues in New York really do chill your bones), hungry for a day of much walking and sights to see, pancakes were calling. Opting for an adaptation of the original, scented with cinnamon and studded with raisins and apples, not forgetting the cream cheese butter mingling it all together, they were possibly the best I have ever sampled.

No matter how much I love pancakes, the gallon of maple syrup on the side isn’t going to do you any wonders for the everyday breakfast, but all in the name of balance my eyes will always gravitate towards them on a brunch menu. A good American pancake usually has some buttermilk in the mix, a soured milk product (traditionally the liquid that is leftover after making butter) which reacts with the raising agent to give that lift and cloud-like texture, plus some plain flour, egg, milk and butter and that’s pretty much it. Simple ingredients to make a such a satisfying end result.

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I’m on a self mission to eat include as many wholegrains (therefore fibre!) into my diet as I can. Although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with plain flour (all white wheat flours are fortified in the UK with beneficial vitamin and minerals. Typically Thiamin, Niacin, Iron and Calcium Carbonate), I like to go off-piste with my pancakes. A mixture of millet and quinoa is what I used here, but so man other combinations work too. Try substituting oats, rice (white, brown, black or red), amaranth, spelt, buckwheat. Don’t try teff though! I made that mistake once and when I went to drain it, straight through the sieve and down the sink the grains went. Teff is so tiny, but didn’t realise the grains were that tiny.

The evening or day before you plan to make the pancakes, soak the grains with a little vinegar or lemon juice, drain and rinse in the morning and simply blend in a high-powered blender with the other ingredients. No mess, and you can pour the batter directly into the hot pan. Just the ticket for a lazy weekend brunch.

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This recipe isn’t vegan, I do like to use an egg to give that fluffiness which would otherwise be a denser pancake. It adds some protein too, however I have made them without in the past. Either substituting for a chia/flax egg or even removing completely will still give results, you will need to cook them a little longer to ensure they are cooked throughout, but keeping warm in a low oven should help with that nicely.

Make sure also to use a non-stick pan, sometimes these like to be little buggers and stick solid to the bottom, they do come away eventually just in their own time with a little perseverance and a fish slice. I reckon a skillet would work too I’ve just never used one. Pour the batter thin and they require a low-medium heat in order to cook through. Just be patient with them, and flip over when the surface is full of little bubbles and the edges are set.

I like to serve my pancakes sweet, with loads of fruit, yogurt, nut butter, sprinkley bits for some crunch and texture and if you like a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Add a ripe banana to the batter if you like the pancakes to be sweet, plus some cinnamon for a banana-bread-vibe. However there’s no stopping you serving these up as a savoury option. For-go the cinnamon and vanilla extract in the recipe, perhaps adding some black pepper, spices such as ground cumin or turmeric, a cooked beetroot, or some spinach or herbs blitzed through the mix. I’m salivating now. A fried egg on top, some avocado, sliced chillies, a handful of greens and chilli sauce…that’s breakfast planned for next weekend at the Hudson household.

Millet and quinoa pancakes

  • Servings: 3-4 depending on your appetite
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I served these pancakes with chopped plum, sliced banana and some blackberries, coconut yogurt, some homemade roasted almond walnut and coconut butter and bee pollen and cacao nibs. You can go as fancy or as simple as you want, changing each time depending on what fruit is at its best and what yogurt is your favourite. Don’t forget that maple syrup drizzle too, or honey if you prefer, it is pancakes after all.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup millet
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • Squeeze of lemon juice or vinegar
  • ¼-1/2 cup of milk or water
  • 1 egg (optional) or use a chia/flax egg or omit completely
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Oil for frying

Directions

  1. The night before place the millet in one bowl and the quinoa in another bowl, cover with water, add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to both then top with a plate and leave to soak overnight.
  2. The following morning, drain both the grains in a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Shake to get rid of excess water.
  3. Add the grains to a high-powered blender along with all the other ingredients and starting with 1/4 of a cup of milk or water. Blend until completely smooth, similar to a pancake batter. If it is looking a bit thick add more water or milk a little at a time until the right consistency is achieved.
  4. Meanwhile preheat the oven to low and place a plate in there wrapped in a clean tea towel.
  5. Heat a large frying pan (or skillet) on a medium heat and brush with a little oil. After a couple of minutes pour the batter into a round pancake and spread it gently to 3 to 4 inch diameter. I usually manage three at a time in one pan.
  6. Once the pancakes are set at the edges and bubbles have appeared on the surface, flip the pancakes over with a spatula or fish slice and leave to cook for a couple minutes more until cooked through.
  7. Transfer to the plate in the oven and keep them wrapped up with the tea towel.
  8. Repeat until all of the batter has been used up, keeping all cooked pancakes warm in the oven and then serve immediately.
  9. Any leftover pancakes can be kept in the fridge for a few days, or freeze them so they can be popped straight into the toaster whenever you need your pancake fix.

Happy Brunching!!

XO

Romesco white bean dip

For those of you holidaying abroad this summer, or considering it’s the end of August, have already spent your week away and have hoiday blues. You’ve wined and dined eating the local cuisine, immersed yourself in a new culture, had many failed attempts at the local lingo, driven on the wrong side of the road and made many memories.

That’s what holidays are really about the memories.

A certain time and place, the view, the company, it all adds up to make these memories. Ever had lunch on a beach drinking a glass of wine, to go and buy that very same bottle to take home, but when it comes to drinking, it just doesn’t taste as good. Or asked the waiter for the recipe for that sublime paella or meze dish to cook it at home, it most likely won’t taste as good.

So I bring to you a take on a famous sauce from the northern region of Spain, Catalonia. The romesco sauce is punchy from the paprika and cayenne but rich due to the almonds and Spanish olive oil. If you’ve ever experienced a true romesco sauce, no this won’t be the same, it may not be as good, it may even be better?!? But it has its feet stuck firmly in its roots.

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The original sauce uses bread as a thickener, a good white sourdough or chunky country loaf is ideal as it also imparts some flavour. Here though I’ve opted for some white beans. When making a dip I tend to gravitate towards a plantbased protein, typically in the form of lentils or beans, so whether it comes to afternoon snacking or building a big veggie bowl it will keep me sustained. White beans help to thicken the dip and provide a creaminess meaning less oil is needed plus who doesn’t like an alternative to hummus!?! I may feel the urge to bathe in it, but sometimes a change is necessary, so in comes this bright red beauty.

How much chilli, and which variety of chilli you use is comepletely up to you. I use a picante paprika by La Chinata, it is the hot smoked kind so has a good kick, if you’re using paprika just from the supermarket you may need to add a little more to get the right smoky level. Also I used half a dried ancho chilli which has sweeter fruity notes and isn’t too spicy but dried chilli flakes will substitute just finneeeeee. You won’t need to rehydrate these so just add straight to the food processor.

 

I served this in a few different ways, just as a dip with crudites, once in a big veggie bowl packed with sweet potato and courgette chips, avocado, some grains and greens. Another time in a packed lunch with olives, carrot, extra butter beans and a few other veggies thrown in the mix. Stir in some extra olive oil, vinegar if you like and a drop of water to make a killer salad dressing that will liven up any old salad. Or serve with some simply cooked fish or chicken or steak, or smeared underneath a plate of roasted meditteranean veg. I like to work on a leftover lunch policy, they are always the best ones. Throw together whatever is lingering, the crazier and more random sure will be the better!

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Enough chatting, let’s hop to it!

Romesco white bean dip

  • Servings: one big bowl full
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Ingredients

  • 1 tin of white beans (I used haricot)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree ( I had 2 tbsp of tinned cherry tomatoes that were leftover)
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp almond butter or a handful of almonds (roasting them would make it taste even better)
  • 1/2 dried ancho chilli (or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp picante smoked paprika (use 1 tsp of paprika if it’s not as strong)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 good pinches of salt
  • small handful of fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Set the oven to 190C/170C fan. Place the peppers on a tray and put in the oven for up to 45 minutes until the skin is blackened and the peppers are soft. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile put the 1/2 ancho chilli in a mug and pour enough boiling water over to cover and leave to rehydrate.
  3. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle peel away the charred skins and remove the seeds and white membranes. Then put into a food processor.
  4. Place all the other ingredients along with the ancho chilli (not the water though) in the food processor and blitz until a smooth puree is formed.
  5. Taste and check for seasoning, salt, smokiness, acidity, spiciness and adjust as you like.
  6. Scoop into a serving bowl, garnish with extra parsley or store in a Tupperware where it will keep for around 5 days.

Have you got any favourite recipes from past holidays that you make on repeat at home? Maybe it’s the peri peri chicken from Portugal, a rabbit stew from Malta (that’s one that is on my list) a further flung pav bhaji from Mumbai or fava, one of my favourite Greek dishes that I still haven’t got round to cooking. Don’t you worry I’ll be in a yellow split pea frenzy by the time I’m back in my kitchen!

Enjoy the last of your summer!

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