Mayday! Mayday!

I don’t know if you realise but in Oxford May Day is a big deal. I mean really big. We temporarily shed our old school – 14th century – eccentric reputation and go more old school 9th century pagan bat shit crazy. I’m talking brass bands in the streets, madrigals from Magdalen tower at 6am, Morris dancing in fancy dress and of course in the time honoured British tradition; drinking from dawn (although does it count if you never really stopped)…. I’m almost disappointed I didn’t join in this year. Then again being an old lady who survives on the minimum amount of sleep during the week, getting up at my usual time (6am) seemed a little unnecessary. Besides apparently in the modern age you don’t even need to be there to join in the festivities, the madrigals from magdalen college were live streamed on Facebook. I could enjoy them from my cosy bed a couple of hours later. However considering I was awoken by my father at 6.15am and informed we were going to breakfast to at least pretend we’d been joining the throngs in the streets, against my better judgement I was thrust into the bizarre dream world that is May Day morning. It’s like still that feeling after a crazy party which went on till dawn. Even if you weren’t drinking the night before. It feels like everyone is either still drunk, or on the cusp of a hangover. You can drink before 8am, calories don’t matter and the more you look like you haven’t slept, the better. What a beautiful may morning it was. The sun was out, the brass band was playing, everyone was smiling and I was heading to an free, albeit early, breakfast. What a disappointment. I didn’t mention the down side to this glorious Oxford only holiday. The restaurants know everyone will want breakfast. They know everyone will pay a bomb and seemingly not care what they’re eating. But I’m afraid I’m not everyone. Maybe it’s just me, but when I order smoked salmon and scrambled eggs in a restaurant I usually expect toast or something with it, especially at £8.50. Even worse when I asked for toast they said they weren’t doing bread today. I couldn’t tell whether it was a veiled attempt to encourage me onto a low carb diet or just a cheapskate restaurant trying to conceal the fact they’d run out of a staple of the breakfast menu on one of there busiest breakfast services in the year. Either way Quod was in my bad books. Especially because I don’t get treated to breakfast out often. Heck during the week most meals are a mixture of tasting as I cook and apples, munched sporadically through the day.This rant is mostly culminating in an explanation of why I felt a craving for such a ridiculously hipster lunch. I’m mostly ironically disparaging to the Instagram gurus obsessed with avocado and kale and cashew nut cheese. But secretly, I’m one of them. I’m probably the only person who genuinely really likes kale but it’s really tasty and it feels like your eating your way to the elixir of youth, which can’t be a bad thing. Maybe I’m just hanging out with students too much but feeling world weary and old at 23 can’t be a good thing. So here’s my recipe for avocado, marmite and smoked salmon toast with kale and purple sprouting broccoli salad, walnut and maple dressing. #notnigella #iknownigelladidarecipeforthisandgotridiculedmaybeimjustasbad #healthguru #deliciouslymeta #ironic #dontjudgemebecauseimgreen #marmitegoeswitheverything

1 avocado

1 slice toast (preferably sourdough)

Marmite

Chilli flakes

Smoked salmon

Kale

Walnut oil

Rice wine vinegar

Sea salt

Maple syrup

Purple sprouting broccoli

It’s simple to be honest, but oh so delicious. Just toast the bread. Blanch the broccoli in boiling and refresh in cold water. Combine 3 parts walnut oil to 1 part rice wine vinegar and season to taste with sea salt and maple. Pour over kale and microwave for 1 min. Add broccoli. Top bread with a thin layer of marmite, avocado and smoked salmon. Eat.

I know you don’t really need a recipe but you’ll get over it. Some people like to follow instructions and if you follow these you get a damn good meal. I’d call it brunch, but I already had breakfast…

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Green Chicken Curry with Cauliflower Rice

I have, for a very long time, been intrigued by trying one of the new vegetables-replacing-carbs health fads going around at the moment. Given that courgette pasta would involve spending money on a spiraliser…I thought cauliflower rice would be a better starting point. Normally if I served my father any spicy food or indeed a carb-free, vegetable-rich meal I would get “oh what’s this” and a healthy pile of food left on the side after it had been pushed around the plate a bit; but this time it got the thumbs up. Whether this is just because slowly I’ve started to indoctrine my family in food that has flavour and is different or whether he actually liked it is for you to decide once you’ve tried the recipe. (See what I did there…)

 (Serves 2)

  1. Pulse 350g Cauliflower florets in a food processor to fine pieces. 
  2. Meanwhile put 1tsp sesame oil, 1tbsp olive oil, 1 onion (chopped) 2 cloves garlic (chopped), 1tbsp curry powder, 1tsp coriander paste, 1tsp mild chilli powder, 1tsp ginger and 2tsp sea salt in a saucepan. Sweat the onions over a medium heat for 5mins. Add 2 chopped chicken breasts and cook for 3-4mins. Add 1 small can coconut cream, fill the can twice with water and add to the pan. Add 1tsp lemon and black pepper. Simmer over a low heat for 5-10mins. 

  3. Meanwhile add 200ml water to a pan with the chopped cauliflower and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil and cook for 4-5mins. Drain well. 

  4. Add a handful of chopped green beans to the curry and cook for 2-3mins. Serve the curry served over the rice and sprinkled with flaked almonds.

  

Pan-Fried Salmon, Lentil Dhal and Peanut-butter yoghurt with blueberries: Indulgent health food

The Daily Mail is particularly good at the odd health slogan. Some of my favourites include: ‘a mind is a terrible thing to waste and a waist is a terrible thing to mind!’, or ‘he who indulges, bulges’, and my personal favourite ‘If you let the cake control, you’ll look like a cinnamon roll’. While I’m not particularly motivated to avoid food based on either these slogans or the dismally contradictory “health” articles that follow the headlines, I do listen to my singing teacher. She has practically begged me to spend two weeks giving up alcohol, singing and talking in order to finally rest my voice after 3 years of singing almost every day. While I was being this quiet and anti-social, I thought I might as well use the opportunity to try and quell my addiction to chocolate and be a bit healthier for all of to weeks. While I’m never going to turn into a seed eating, yoga loving, alcohol abstainer, I have to admit that I do feel better and will hopefully keep the daily yoga up, [purely because I quite enjoy the satisfaction of finally being able to do a plank for 3 minutes without collapsing…) However I don’t think I would have ever been able to cope with these two weeks if I hadn’t still been able to eat tasty food, while still healthy. Finding partially smoked salmon fillets in sainsburys, I used some of the money I’d saved on booze from the fortnight and created the following dish. The peanut butter yoghurt was a no-brainer for me, I adore peanut butter (have you heard it’s healthy) and mixed with greek yoghurt, it tastes like an indulgent pudding.

Pan-Fried Salmon, Lentil Dhal, serves 2

  1. For the Dhal: Sweat 1 onion and 2 cloves garlic in 1tsp coconut oil and a pinch of salt. Add 1tsp each of; ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander and chilli powder. Add 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes, 1tsp sugar, 100g red lentils and vegetable stock to cover. Simmer for 15-20mins, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, take the salmon out of the fridge at least 1/2 hour before cooking. Heat a pan, add the salmon, flesh side down for 4-5mins. Flip and cook skin side down for 2-3mins, until skin is crispy. Place on top of the dhal, skin side up and scatter with coriander leaves.

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Peanut butter yoghurt, serves 1

  1. Heat 1tsp peanut butter in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Mix in 170g greek yoghurt and (optional) 1tsp sugar. Top with blueberries.

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Peanut butter-banana Pancakes or I-missed-pancakes-on-pancake-day-but-now-it’s-lent

I very rarely wake up in the morning feeling like I want to be healthy but I woke up this morning wanting to go for a run. Maybe it was the yoga I’ve started doing or the fact I’ve started using hashtags on Instagram but I’m becoming dangerously close to a healthy lifestyle. At least Pret appears to be on a one shop mission to corrupt this attitude with its dark chocolate and sea salt bars. Following my run I decided to continue the theme with a banana and peanut butter omelette. Unfortunately the box of 12 eggs I bought less than a week ago has fallen prey to Mark-Francis/Violetta’s insatiable poached egg habit, there was 1 left. So I fiddled around a but. I present to you the (in keeping with the theme of recent posts) gluten and dairy free, protein rich breakfast pancake, eatable in lent without fear of guilt.

For 1

  1. Combine 1 egg and a tablespoon of peanut butter. Mix together. Add 50-75ml milk and (for an extra sweet/salt hit) a pinch of sea salt(optional).
  2. Pour mixture into a heated frying pan and cook on medium until the bottom of the pancake starts to become easy to release from the pan.
  3. Fold in half and serve with a drizzle of honey and a chopped banana.

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Eggs Royale: Slimline

It’s Mark Francis’ birthday so what else to do in the most pretentious graduate house there ever was but have a champagne breakfast. (Well sparkling wine) Despite the sore heads from celebrating MF’s birthday the night before we struggled through with hair of the dog. Cue the most unproductive day ever. Breakfast was swiftly followed by birthday cake then a nap, and finally a game of articulate to wind up the day early afternoon. Most importantly I wanted to make Eggs Royale because a) MF has a poached egg for breakfast everyday and b) I am obsessed with the combination of salmon and eggs for breakfast. The problem was the hollandaise sauce. Normally made with an enormous quantity of butter and taking around 20mins of attentive whisking, I wanted to make a version that was healthier and took half the time. Of course we did then cancel out the bid to be healthy with a slice of double chocolate cake but every little helps.

Serves 3
6 eggs
1 packet if smoked salmon
3 muffins
Sprigs of dill
3 egg yolks
4-5tbsp Greek yoghurt
1-2tsp lemon juice
1tsp Dijon mustard
Large pinch of salt
Pepper

  1. Poach eggs (nb I use an egg poacher, simple and effective tool, no faff necessary). Toast and butter muffins, top with salmon followed by eggs.
  2. For the sauce, whisk the egg yolks, yoghurt, lemon juice, mustard and salt together. Place bowl over a saucepan full of boiling water. Whisk for 4-5mins until thickened. Add pepper.
  3. Top eggs with sauce and garnish with dill. Serve with champagne.

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Avocado and Kidney bean Brownies

I put Avocado in Brownies and it worked. It began when I came across a suggestion to substitute avocado for butter in baking, not make the baking healthier, but also to make the recipe dairy free. Likewise I read on t’internet about how kidney and black beans can be used as a replacement for flour in some baking recipes. Never one to shirk from a challenge or do things by halves (and with gluten free and dairy free friends) I decided to combine the two. Would it be possible to make brownies without the seemingly moreish creating factors of dairy and gluten? and possibly end up making the brownies that little bit healthier as well? Apparently so. I am not denying they are not quite on par with orgasm in the tin that is salted caramel brownies… but they are dense, very fudgy and most importantly chocolatey goodness.

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Makes 12
225g 85% dark chocolate
Large pinch of sea salt
1x 400g undrained tin of red kidney beans or black beans
1 small, ripe avocado
2 eggs
225g white sugar
2tsp vanilla extract

1. Drain the kidney beans and bat dry with kitchen towel, to make the beans as dry as possible.
2. Place beans into a food processor and blitz.
3. Add eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and avocado and blitz till mixture is smooth.
4. Meanwhile melt chocolate with sea salt. Add to the mixture and blitz again to a thicker, cake mix like consistency.
5. Spoon into a parchment-lined square tin. Bake for 25-30 mins at 160 oC, until the top is hard but the brownies are still soft underneath. Leave to cool and serve.

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