Monday, 29 November 2010

Beautiful Beetroot Pie

Happiness depends on ourselves - Aristotle
Healthy Appetites depend on Happy hearts - Sinead 
♡◦°˚°◦.¸¸.◦°˚ˆ*As the cold weather sweeps in like a rip tide and night time creeps upon us quicker than we know, the gentle hum and warmth of a kitchen offers a sweet welcoming call and comfort for cold tootsies. Bright colours and deep flavours, soothing suppers and crunchy textures all await an enthusiastic beautiful cook! 

This volcanic vegetable pie will bring brightness and a piquant glow to your evenings. There is something very special about Beetroot, beyond its piercing staining hue, its delicate sweetness springs from the filo pastry, complimented beautifully by the thyme and goats cheese. I invite you to play around with cheese combinations, experiment with your favourite cheese, following the quantities mentioned, to create your very own poignantly purple pie.

Beetroots are now in season, so instead of the usual pickling and using them in salad recipes, try this wonderfully warming Beet Pie, that bursts with delicate flavour, savoury sweetness and texture. It would  be a very pleasing vegetarian option for a Christmas feast, though one may find that even the most ardent meat eater is spellbound by this delicately crisp delight. I also serve it as a starter, though cut it into small portions when doing so.

Special Tip – Buy a brush. Food preparation is not dissimilar to any creative craft; with the right tools you’ll find most things effortless. The buttery brush strokes this recipe involves require a little brush, there are many kinds on the market, my favourite are these, enjoying finding your favourite.

In Ancient Greece, millennia ago, beetroots were presented on a silver platter to Apollo at Delphi, or so the legend goes. Today they should be presented likewise, perhaps on golden trays, to pregnant ladies and anyone who’s struggling with winter blues. Beetroots are a wonderful source of folic acid, they also help prevent nausea and contain the bioactive agent betain, which boosts healthy liver function. What makes beetroot so bloomin’ beautiful? Betacyanin of course, it’s the pigment that gives beetroot its amazing antioxidant properties, so why wait any longer? Father Christmas, or whoever your Santa Clause may be, has lots to do, so give yourself a gift and buy a bunch of beetroot and the other ingredients mentioned, you'll be surprised at the exquisite  taste, I promise.

Lots of love,

FFX

Beautiful Beetroot Pie
* Open filo pastry pack when ready to use it! This will prevent it from drying out and make it easier to handle.
*You may use cooked Beetroot to reduce prep time, this is a good idea the first time you cook the pie as it will make the whole dish seem much simpler.
Feel magenta!

SERVES 6 

Uncooked Beetroot, 500g grated (squeeze out excess liquid in a clean cloth)
Red onion 1 grated
Nutmeg, grated ½ tsp
Thyme Sprigs, 4 leaves only
Eggs, 4 medium
Goats cheese, 200g crumbled
Cottage cheese, 200g
Filo pastry, 1 packet
Butter, 40g melted
Horseradish sauce, 1 tbsp
Creme fraiche, 1 tbsp

PRE-HEAT oven to 180’ gas 4.
WHISK eggs in a large bowl.
STIR grated beetroot, red onion, nutmeg and thyme into the eggs and mix well until fully combined.
ADD feta and cottage cheese and mash until thoroughly combined.
SALT loves beetroot, so season generously!
MELT butter in a small saucepan.
BRUSH melted butter over (8in x 10in) 20cm x 28cm baking tray.
UNWRAP filo pastry and keep under a damp cloth, this will stop the pastry drying out. 
LAYER one sheet of filo on top of the baking tray and brush with butter.
REPEAT process with half of the filo sheets, roughly 5/6 sheets, depending on how many are in the pack, so that you have an even base for you beautiful pie.
SPOON beetroot mixture over the filo and spread evenly with the back of a spoon.
LAYER remaining filo sheets in the same fashion as before.
SCORE lines, using a sharp knife, over the pastry to resemble a chess board, take care not to cut below the filling. (This will make it much easier to cut once cooked) 
SPRINKLE a few droplets of water over the pastry to give a lovely crispy finish.
BAKE for 45 minutes, until golden and crisp.
LEAVE to cool slightly before serving, or serve cold, depending on the time of year:)
SERVE with some Horseradish cream. 
STIR crème fraiche to the same amount of Horseradish. 
SPOON alongside your beautiful pie. This is a truly delicious dish worth savouring.
SPLENDID!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Beautiful on the outside?

What’s the tinsel all about? Golden lights are twinkling, brightening our darkening days as winter peels through falling leaves and icy panes. Jack Frost scatters his silvery might and all the while we welcome the festive season. In London Christmas is in full swing and decorations adorn the window shops. Christmas time equals big bucks and as shops tempt us with heart-warming interpretations of festive frivolities, let's remember true joy is much closer to home, mmm in our kitchens perhaps?

Christmas is all about love and peace, family and friends, comfort and kindness, music that pulls on our heartstrings and wonderful smells that tinkle our taste buds and stir us deeply. Colours, bright, dazzle and delight, filling our hearts with warmth and light, oh Christmas is an awesome sight;-) And so much of our experiences are about flavour and spice, this time of year.

When I close my eyes and reflect on Christmas; I feel warm inside, I'm not certain what makes the difference between a happy Christmas and an empty one, though am sure the amount of love in our lives makes a massive difference. I love the colour and the thought that goes into decorations, though for me they’re peripheral and not Christmas at all really. I’m going to offer a slightly alternative platter over the next few weeks, though totally Festive and happily healthy I'm hoping these recipes will not only be delicious and merry, but restorative too. Touch your way through Yuletide, Feeling Food, enjoy warming textures and fragrances that majestically dance and brighten our bodies from the inside out, that is where truest beauty permeates.

Cooks go a bit cuckoo for Cranberries at Christmas time and I’m no exception. These ruby opulent berries bring brightness to sponges that are joyously light and full of melt in the mouth scrumptiousness.


 Offering a delightful alternative to the dense and sickly sweet traditional puddings.

Special Tip – Feasts are a fantastic opportunity to enjoy rich foods, create balance by blending traditional choices with a few lighter ones, it’s the turkey that needs stuffing, not you. 

Most of all have a merry berry Christmas time and 
Happy Thanks Giving 

to all who are celebrating it today, especially my Aunt Kate, Uncle Pierce and lovely cousins Siobhan, Bridie and Bill;-) 

It’s not the easiest time of year for some people, childhood innocence is tenderly mourned, as are those loved ones no-longer present. For anyone who feels like this, this recipe is my gift to you, and if you know someone who may feel like this too, it's time to dust off your apron and make Christmas a truly happy one for those especially in need, bring joy to ALL hearts and may those you share it with know how lucky they are. I’ll say adieu for now, and leave you with a lovely old Indian saying, 

“Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart."


Mini Merry Berry Christmas Cakes

Serves 6

Butter 125g melted
Sweet Freedom/ if unavailable Maple Syrup 125g
Eggs 2
Rice flour 125g
Cinnamon ½ tsp
Baking powder 1 tsp
Milk 70ml
Cranberries 200g
Cranberry & Apple juice 200ml
Vanilla pod 1 slit and seeds scooped
Sweet freedom 60g, or fruit sugar if unavailable; Taste for your desired sweetness, cranberries vary in tartness, so you may add more towards the end of simmering.

PRE-HEAT oven to gas 4 180’.
MELT butter in a saucepan and transfer to a bowl.
WHISK in sweet freedom and eggs, until nice and frothy.
SIFT flour, cinnamon and baking powder into a large bowl.
POUR in milk and sweetened eggs until you have a smooth lump free batter.
BUTTER 6 heatproof ramekins or pots and scatter four cranberries into each one.
DIVIDE mix equally between the pots and wrap each one in foil.
PLACE in a large baking tray or casserole dish.
BOIL a kettle and pour in water so it reaches roughly an inch in the dish.
BAKE in the oven for 40 minutes and remove, leave for 10 to cool down.
PLACE remaining cranberries in a saucepan, with vanilla, sweet freedom and juice.
SIMMER for 15 minutes.
UNWRAP the mini merry cakes and pour over the lovely luscious berry sauce.
SUBLIME served with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Bad boy bananas!

Banana, banana! Bananas! This trio of delights beats Banoffie pie any day of the week. Bananas are the Don Corleon’s of the fruit family. 
They travel easily, you're only one peel away from total freshness, they're soothing on the taste buds and mellow yellow in hue. Ooh, I love bananas.

Everyone seems to like them, what's not to like? While an orange oozes it's scent, spritzing it's zing, bananas are brilliantly subtle, softly they peak, teasing one toward a flavour fandango, tripping sweetness along the palette and leaving a feeling of contentedness. Its no wonder the King Kong favours them too, they boost serotonin and second to coffee, bananas are our biggest source of antioxidants;-)





Special tip 

 with desserts 3 is the magic number. Think texture combinations and contrasts. I often scatter nuts, seeds or toasted oats for texture and goodness, or make syrup to wash things down. Experiment - surprise yourself. Have fun in the kitchen with friends.


The 3 elements here include - Mascarpone, mixed with lemongrass to lift this bejeweled dessert to Himalaya heights. Banana kookies, sumptuously sweetened by the lovely addition of coconut oil, which is available from most health food shops (if you can't find it, butter is fine) and finally the gorgeous chamomile syrup for even more Banana bliss! If you're making this in advance, keep the Lemongrass mascarpone in the fridge and transfer to the freezer around 30 minutes before serving. A friend who tried this said it reminded her of Singapore, wherever it brings you, may it rock you into a melodious calm and brighten up your day.  

FFX

Bad Boy Bananas

Serves 4

For the Lemongrass Mascarpone

Mascarpone 250g
Lemon grass, crushed 1 tsp
Limes 2 juice
Sweet freedom 1 tbsp

For the chamomile bananas

Dried bananas 100g
Chamomile tea 400 ml
Sweet freedom 1 tbsp

A great healthy alternative to butter
For the Banana Kookies
Rice flour 60g
Porridge oats 60g
Baking powder 1tsp
Banana 30g, mashed
Sweet freedom 30g  
Coconut oil or Butter 60g
COMBINE lemongrass, limejuice, sweet freedom and mascarpone together and pop in the freezer.
PRE-HEAT oven to 350F 180'/ gas 4.
MIX rice flour, oats, baking powder and banana in a bowl.
MELT coconut oil or butter and sweet freedom in a small saucepan.
POUR into bowl and mix everything well with a wooden spoon.
SPOON dollops of the mixture onto a non-stick baking tray.
SHAPE into size of your choice.
BAKE for 10-12 minutes.
BOIL kettle and make some strong chamomile tea, pour in a small saucepan.
ADD dried banana and sweet freedom, simmer for 10 minutes.
REMOVE banana cookies from oven and leave to cool on tray for five minutes.
SERVE scoops of chilled lemongrass mascarpone with a few biscuits and the deluxe chamomile bananas drizzled over.
FRUIT  feels good

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Rainbow Wintergreens

Pink on white
Colour transforms our cold winter days, sometimes we struggle to find it, though it's always near. Rainbow wintergreens will bring warmth to a table near you in minutes, such is the beauty and simplicity of this stew.
Simple recipes and simple songs, I love them both. Here's a wee challenge, imagine if you will, a beautiful voice singing this classic song;

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

What would you dream? For me, I'd love to be in a place . . . 
Close to calm in Kota Kinabaloo
Where women and men alike love and accept who they are, for what they are. Idealistic, yes, true, totally. Years ago I led a class and included an affirmation from the  inspirational Louise Hay. It was a poignant moment when each person said, sometimes with great difficulty, the affirmation; 

I love and accept myself for who and what I am.

Easier said than done. To truly love oneself? Wow, that is love at its deepest level, and from there endless goodness surely follows? Recent research from the University of Oregon suggests that junk food is as addictive as cigarettes, alcohol and hard drugs. There's a lot of talk right now on the link between creativity and drug use. No doubt some will argue the benefits of mind-altering substances and sight Coleridge’s Xanadu as an example. The masterpiece was written when he was smoking Opium. My Father often re-sighted it, it's a beautiful poem.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea…..

For he on honeydew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of paradise.

Alph? 
Ah, his words are food for the soul.  Though how many beautiful poems, songs, paintings, films, plays, musicals have been created without such influence, hundreds upon thousands. Thirty something hedonists have a new nick-name, Gravers. The time is nigh to embrace the joys of health and good choices, that bring lasting happiness in place of a fleeting malignant mirage. The mind needs feeding just as the body does. 
An apple a day keeps the Doctor away?






This recipe I'm sharing is sumptuous and hits healthy notes at an Operatic level! Tofu, the cheese of Asia, makes for a great source of protein, combined with beaming vivid colours that bring sunshine to   dark winter nights.







Special Tip - Aim for around three varying colours on your plate, this will help ensure a well rounded nutritional meal. So the next time you see a rainbow, hopefully you'll feel the pot of gold in your heart, and remember you're beautiful just the way you are.

Love,

FFX

Tofu rainbows with wintergreens 

Serves 4

Wintergreens 200g
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Tofu 300g
Red onion 1 finely chopped
Garlic cloves 3 bashed
Flageolet beans 1 tin
Sweet potato 3, 400g peeled and chopped into mouth sized chunks
Thyme sprigs 3
Vegetable stock 500 ml

WASH and shred greens.
HEAT oil and gently fry garlic and onion in a large saucepan for a few minutes.
STIR in sweet potato, beans, thyme, stock and season generously, place on lid.
SIMMER for 15 minutes.
ADD tofu followed by greens and season well.
STIR and replace lid, cooking for a further 5 minutes.
SERVE in warmed bowls and enjoy this savoury sensation.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Make Love not War!

Ah, if only it were so simple. Well I know we may seem a long way from world peace, however, I think the idea and possibility of serenity should be something we entertain and invite into our daily lives. What am I talking about, you may be thinking?

Recently I discovered the tastiest Aubergine dish I’ve ever eaten. Like most of my favourite meals, it’s pretty simple and sumptuously delicious. It hails from a land in turmoil and goes by the name of Afghani Casserole.

Now I have a feeling that unless you’re an Auberginist, you’ll love this too. I’ll not over egg the eggplant, sorry I couldn’t resist;-) Suffice to say, this botanically classified berry, no less, is a rich source of anti-oxidants and helps lower cholesterol too. 

Special tip - Be adventuress in your culinary choices. I’m sure that if we experience and enjoy flavours from far off lands, we naturally deepen our appreciation for other cultures, thus growing in our understanding and tolerance of the differences that separate us. Close your eyes and run your finger over a map of the world, stop when the moment takes you and have a cookery adventure by making something from the country your finger lands on! 

You may discover a new favourite. Lets embrace and celebrate the beauty to be found in differences, whilst remembering the stuff that ties us together more strongly than anything else and probably the most powerful universal connection we share is - LOVE. Really we’re not so different after all. It's often a case of how we perceive things. 
"I try to avoid looking forward or backwards, and try to keep looking upward." CHARLOTTE BRONTE
We see differently sometimes


Now, here’s a thought – IMAGINE a day when the leaders of our world sit around a beautiful table and share food from all nations cooked with love. Really see it, you know what they say about the power of visualisation! Well, in the beautiful words of John Lennon,
"You may say I’m a dreamer, 
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one" . . . 
world peace may have a chance, hopefully not too far in the distant future. Who knows, stranger things have happened? The Aliens have already landed!!! Now there’s a scary thought! If this blog had a sound track the music from the twilight zone would be very appropriate right now;-)

Afghan Casserole
Serves 6
Aubergines 450g, cut into 1cm slices
Sea salt 1 tsp
Olive oil 3 tbsp
Tomato passata
Garlic cloves 3 crushed
Green chilli, 1 finely chopped
Ground cumin ½ tsp
Ground coriander ½
Sweet Freedom 1 dsp
Mint large bunch, finely chopped
Cottage cheese 250g

PRE-HEAT oven to 190’ gas 5.
SPRINKLE salt over the aubergines on both sides.
HEAT half of the oil in a large pan and sear aubergines until golden on both sides.
LAY on kitchen towel.
REPEAT with second batch of aubergines using remaining oil.
POUR passata into a saucepan and add garlic, sweet freedom, chilli, ground cumin, ground coriander and a generous scratch of black pepper.
SIMMER for ten minutes on a gentle heat to allow flavour to deepen and infuse.
PLACE half of the aubergine slices in a fairly large casserole dish, whatever one you have that fits.
SPRINKLE over the mint and pour over half of the tomato sauce.
ARRANGE remaining aubergine on top and pour over the rest of the sauce.
BAKE in the oven for 20 minutes.
SERVE with brown rice or whole-wheat pasta – penne or rigatoni goes particularly well.
SIP some lovely elderflower juice with this, and savour the harmony.
LOVELY!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Sleeping Pumpkins

Ah, pumpkins make for a good nights sleep . . . zzzzz

Saying goodnight to our day brings us on a gentle journey towards sleep, through the puzzle of our thoughts, deep into the labyrinth of our subconscious. Before any journey of significance, a good meal is essential and appropriate, no less is true before sleep. Sleep is a magnificent mystery where we heal and unravel the intricacies of our waking moments.

Another reason to check out Anish Kapoors exhibition 
Our last supper of each day is best enjoyed at least two hours before slumber. This recipe is a super supper for some such time. Gloriously seasonal, soothing and simple as pie, though totally not a pie, a pasta pie perhaps?

Special tip - On the soothing front, a worthy investment in any kitchen is of course a pestle and mortar, mortar and pestle, whatever works for you. The gentle pounding and grinding transform spices from aromatic to an out of this world ambrosial delight. 

Pumpkins aren’t exclusively for Halloween, their mellow flavour is an ode to calm and nourishment. These balls of Orange wonder burst with vitamins and minerals. They stand out for their brightness and will also impart some onto you, as the beta-carotene which gives them their awesome colour may help reverse skin damage caused by the sun and another marvel is the alpha-carotene which slows the aging process. Oh, Pumpkin, you make us feel pretty! So lets salute Sleeping Pumpkins, our taste buds and our skin will be thanking us!

Sleeping pumpkins
Serves 4

Culinary pumpkin 1 small
Nutmeg 1tsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Seasoning
Egg yolks 2
Cream 250 ml
Parmesan 50g
Saffron 7 strands
Lasagne sheets 8
Basil a small bunch.
Rocket and chard 100g
Freshly ground black pepper 

PRE-HEAT oven to 200', gas 6.
CUT pumpkin into chunks, deseed and place on baking tray.
SPRINKLE over nutmeg.
DRIZZLE with oil and season generously.
BAKE for 1/2 hour.
REMOVE pumpkin when ready and allow to cool.
GRIND saffron in a pestle and mortar to release its magnificence.
SCOOP out the pumpkin flesh and place in a blender, with egg yolks, cream, parmesan and saffron.
WIZZ for about thirty seconds until you have smooth sauce.
POUR pumpkin mixture into a saucepan and gently warm through.
BRING a medium sized pan of water to the boil, with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of oil.
ADD Lasagne sheets and cook for 12 minutes, make sure they're Al dente, just as you like them.
DRAIN and lay one sheet in each bowl.
SPOON over half the pumpkin sauce.
TEAR over basil leaves and scatter with the rocket and chard.
REPEAT process and finish off with some freshly ground black pepper.
BELLISSIMO!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Blissful Awakenings

Oats in a blue bowl
Oh, oh, oh, oats in November, soft and satisfying, awakening and gratifying, lovely oats bring the freshest of starts. On crisp cold days there is no better breakfast. From sweet slumber to living dreams, without sustenance and strength, colours loose their definition and mornings hedge on winter brambles. There is one sure way to boost brightness in winter, breakfast.
Part of the Anish Kapoor exhibition in London's Kensington Gardens

Often when I’m watching a film I can tell within the first few minutes whether or not I’m going to enjoy it, the opening credits, the cast, the sound track, are all big giveaways. This is the same with a meal, the company, the ingredients and of course the atmosphere, all count. However, the beginning is in essence the handshake that seals the experience. What is the beginning moment we meet everyday, whatever the time of year? Mornings. Mornings welcome our first tasting moment, breakfast.
An autumnal view

Breakfast shapes our day, and our dear bodies when nourished well take on a new level of wonder. What if you’re not a morning’s person? Early get ups can be a struggle at the best of times, so I’ve come up with a lovelylicious simple breakfast – thrown together the night before, its flavours mingle and develop overnight, just right for you in the morning. It’s bursting with goodness and you’ll be seeing colours and views you’ve never noticed before. Oat, to be present, to fully embrace each moment, to start each day fresh, oh oats;-)

Special tip - When a recipe is blissfully simple, and seasonal berries are in short supply, dollop some delicious sugar free jam, like St Dalfour to give you that lovely fruity feeling, without any stress. Jams preserve the taste of summer, make the most of them in winter. 
Why sugar free? Simply, sugar speeds up the pendulum of our moods, reduce it and you'll feel more balanced, avoiding the slumps, highs and lows. Instead cherish the morning skies and be guided by their continuous change, leave yesterdays where they belong and welcome new and fresh joys with a tank full of oaty goodness, and a dollop of jam!

Avoid temptation and start your day with Eve's oat breakfast, apples bring atavistic qualities to our day, sharper memories and better immune systems will come your way.

Happy Tuesday to you.


Eve's oat breakfast
Mouth wateringly good




serves 4 (will keep for a few days, so in theory you have four days worth of breakfast!)


porridge oats 120g
apple juice 250ml
sweet freedom/ maple syrup 4 tsp
apple 1, cored and cubed
sunflower seeds 50g
cinnamon 1 tsp
Greek yogurt 150g

MIX all the ingredients in a bowl.
COVER with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
DAWN awakenings call for oat time!
SPOON into your breakfast bowl and scatter over any fruit you have to hand, or better still a dollop of jam!

Sometimes I love adding sliced bananas, sometimes raspberries or blueberries, discover your favourite.


FFX
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