Friday, 24 February 2012

Julie’s Smoothie


Upon a peach sunset, I slept,
Eyelids fluttering, I dreamt –
That in a waking moment, freshness,
The kind that fills you up with love inside,
Came falling like a coconut landing on a banana cloud!

And the next morning I made this…
The freshest of smoothie’s that brings smiles and soothing sips to Mummies to be and everyone. An ice cold Smoothie has a cleansing touch, like no other drink or food. Tired hearts and minds get a new lease of life when nourished, so having had 5 months of broken sleeps, this is my tonic and I want to share it with you.
Spring is on her beautiful way, teasing us with sunshine and mild weather, so as I’m not always bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning, a lovely Smoothie helps get the cogs rolling, this is a pleasing drink and is blitzed together in minutes.
I’m clearing out an old cupboard and finding lots of photos and poems written by my Parents. It’s difficult to make sense of two lives no longer. My memories feel like a patchwork quilt, colourful and comforting – seeing their handwriting seems to evoke more than photo’s, I know not why? 

Recently I took a step towards the direction of my dreams, what will come of it is too early to say, though I have a good feeling! In the past I’d have called my folks to share my excitement, this time I said a prayer and my heart felt them close.

I shared this quote recently, “Let your heart guide you, it whispers so listen carefully.” This rings so true to me and I am happy to be writing this now. My journey to here, to sharing this recipe began about six years ago, when by chance I covered for a chef, and got offered a job on the back of it.

I found myself working in an environment where a new way of thinking was introduced to me. A word that was often used and one I’ve come to value hugely is “Boundaries.” They are our saving grace, our survival code, if you like. When we have clear boundaries we nourish ourselves at a deeper level, there are other good ways of nourishing the self - eating healthily, spending time with loved ones or simply noticing the beauty around us, when we do these things, one, or better still, all of three, a healing magic holds us close – we become more ourselves, we speak our truth.

LIVE BOUNDARIES AND LOVE LIFE!

Clear boundaries allow us to feel comfortable in our own skins and step forward with a sense of unconditional love. Take time to know your worth and if you have no idea what boundaries are, perhaps now is a good time to find out.

In the mean time, sip some Smoothie magic for some soul warming and satisfying goodness.

My friend Julie shared some good news with me this week, she’s expecting. That little life will be a summer baby. My boys are spring and autumn babes, I’ve yet to see more beauty than in a babies innocent gaze.

Julies Smoothie will ~
  • Warm you up, thanks to the ginger.
  • Relieve morning sickness, thanks to the ginger.
  • Improve circulation, thanks to the ginger.
  • Regulate electrolyte and fluid balance, thanks to the banana.
  • Prevent muscle cramps, thanks to the banana.
  • Strengthens bones, thanks to the coconut.
  • Heals deeply, thanks to the coconut.
  • Give your vocal chords some TLC, thanks to the cardamom.

I’m raising my glass of tropical deliciousness to wish you the happiest of Friday’s, full of love, joy, kindness and gratitude.

Love,

FFXOXOX

Julies Smoothie

Light coconut milk, 250ml
Greek yogurt, 250ml
Ripe bananas, 2 chopped
Sweet freedom/ maple syrup, 2 tbsp
Ginger, 1 tsp grated
Cardamom pods, 2 bashed seeds only
Ice cubes, 14

PUT all of the above ingredients in a blender and blitz.
POUR into four glasses and decorate with some thin slithers of banana.
SIP slowly to appreciate fully, this may be difficult as it’s delicious!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Chamomile Chocolate sauce with Pears


Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry,
As you twist the stem of a pear, recite the names until the stem comes off.
You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem fell off.

OK, originally it’s meant to be an apple! Though today I’d like to share with you a pear recipe, that I first shared in my column for Families First. If you’re single, it’s a fun thing to do. If you’re not single, how about this one….
Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed.
Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind. Count the seeds that remain on the stem.
That is the number of children you will have!
Perhaps again, this is best taken with a pinch of salt, however, remembering the innocence and perspective of believing in these kinds of things wasn’t that long ago for me! Isn’t believing in someone part of being in love? Feeling comfortable, accepting each other, for good and bad, and being able to forgive with patience? 
The term to “love unconditionally” comes to mind – I am sure true love is unconditional – you cannot switch love off – thank goodness. Swans may teach us a thing or to about love! They partner for life and once bonded, the male and female affirm and support each other in all things. They build their nest together. They share egg sitting so each has feeding and brooding breaks and defend them from all predators. If one of the pair dies, the other often lives out the rest of his or her life alone. The love and loyalty of these birds is beautiful.

I read this earlier and wanted to share it with you – it sums up love as well as I’ve ever read anywhere:
“I don't pretend to know what love is for everyone, but I can tell you what it is for me; love is knowing all about someone, and still wanting to be with them more than any other person, love is trusting them enough to tell them everything about yourself, including the things you might be ashamed of, love is feeling comfortable and safe with someone, but still getting weak knees when they walk into a room and smile at you.” Keith Sweat
So to bring strength and nourishment try this calming and cleansing recipe, it is a love pudding if ever there was. Chamomiles delicate flavour laces the chocolate sauce with a subtle suggestion of warmth and velvet. Vanillas light musky scent balances the deep dewiness of the pears perfectly, serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and enjoy.

Food appeals to all five senses, and evokes vivid memories that become unending. Why not cook for someone you love today? Take total pleasure in doing so AND more importantly celebrate FUN. Whether that be with your husband, your wife, your best friend, your child, whoever it is, I hope YOU have a lovely day.

Now and always!

Lots of love,

FFXOX

Chamomile Chocolate sauce with Pears 

SERVES 4
Chamomile teabags, 4
Sweet freedom/ fruit sugar, 1 tbsp
Vanilla extract, 1 tsp
Cardamom pod, 1 bashed
Cinnamon sticks, 1
Dark chocolate, 100g at lease 70% cocoa solids
Pears, 4 cored, peeled and sliced
Butter, a knob
Greek yogurt (optional)

ADD teabags, sweet freedom/ fruit sugar, vanilla pod, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pod to 300ml of boiling water in a bowl.
BREW for 5 minutes.
PREPARE pears.
REMOVE teabags and pour liquid into a small saucepan.
BOIL over a high heat until reduced and syrup like, roughly 15 minutes.
MELT knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan.
FRY pears with an extra sprinkling of fruit sugar until caramelised.
TAKE syrup off heat and stir in the chocolate until melted.
SERVE caramelised pears with chocolate sauce and a dollop of Greek Yogurt.


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Seared Scallops with Celeriac and Caramelised Apple

Take me to the seas of Zion,
Where pearls pinkly shine on, 
And bubbles gently glide on.

And I'll sear you some Kingly Scallops, fire on,
Served with smoked salmon and Red Velvets, right on,
Fresh oysters and soda bread with butter on.

And Romantic feasts to nourish on,
Shared experiences to build dreams on,
Ah seafood delights, go on and on.

Seafood stirs the taste buds into dizzy celebration. Scallops are my favourite of all seafood. One of my happiest memories was sharing a picnic with seafood delights bought from Rick Steins Fish and Chip shop

When I close my eyes I can still taste the sea.  

I first shared this in my column for Families First, it’s a lovely magazine, with an interesting and varied content. This recipe is a seasonal feast for the senses and a true Scallop celebration, dare I say it, an ideal Valentines supper!
Now is the best time to eat these lovely shellfish. There is a right time for everything in nature, the seasons are so simple, and they cheer me up! 


Why eat scallops? Royal and rich in vitamin B12, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper – they are also an excellent source of protein, phosphorus and selenium, making them a very healthy choice of food.

British waters are perfect for scallops and this nation, especially Scotland, produce some of the world's finest. If possible buy scallops in their shells and cook them simply and quickly. Look for white flesh and a bright orange roe and run a mile from the dear ones lulling in milky waters, they’ve been bled of all flavour, frozen and forgotten, don’t waste your money. 


TOP TIP - Rinse before cooking and allow them to dry out on a clean cloth in the fridge for a couple of hours, though not essential, it will make a difference. 


Scallops are naturally sweet and the flavour combination of apples and celeriac works beautifully. To cook sweet pan-seared scallops, with deep golden brown crusts and a barely cooked centre, is to welcome a mouth-watering moment of seafood heaven. 


Secondly a smoking hot pan will give the golden crust, that is a must. Heat the pan, then after a couple of minutes, reduce the heat and add the oil, use one with a high smoking point - when the oil ripples like a gentle tide the pan is ready!!
Caramelised apples add a fragrant freshness and celeriac with its wonderful flavour of parsley and celery ties the whole dish together, a few sprigs of mint bring a subtlety that befits such a splendorous shellfish.
May your day be sweet and gentle. if you pass these beauties, ponder and possibly buy a few. This is one of my favourite recipes and for those who love black pudding - wow - a few slices would bring a whole new dimension to this dish.

Happy days,

FFXOX

Seared Scallops with Apple and Celeriac mash 

SERVES 4

Celeriac 1, peeled and cubed
Potatoes, King Edwards (or other suited to mash) 2
Apples, 2 peeled, sliced and cored
Butter, 1 knob
Fruit sugar, 1 tsp
Crème fraiche, ½ tbsp
Rapeseed oil, 1 tbsp
Scallops, 12
Ground cumin, ½ tsp
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic glaze, a drizzle
Mint leaves (optional)
FOR THE MASH

BOIL celeriac and potatoes in a saucepan of lightly salted water for 15 minutes.
MELT knob of butter in a medium sized frying pan.
ADD apples and fruit sugar.
COOK for 5 minutes to caramelise, stirring occasionally.
DRAIN celeriac and potatoes, return to the saucepan and mix in apples.
SPOON over crème fraiche and mash well until silky smooth.
FOR THE SCALLOPS

SPRINKLE ground cumin over washed scallops.
HEAT a non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat, when hot
DRIZZLE over some rapeseed oil, enough to cover the pan.
CAREFULLY place scallops in the pan and sear for one minute on either side. *Scallops need very little cooking, and will be rubbery if over cooked, truly, less is more when cooking these delights!
SERVE scallops immediately on top of mash and scatter with leaves if using.
DRIZZLE over some balsamic glaze to finish off.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Happiness in Six minutes

Some find it in flowers...
Is it possible? Happiness in six minutes? First of all, what is happiness? According to wikipedia it’s a fuzzy concept. I like the idea of warm fuzzy feelings. Happiness is balance and contentment, it has no fixed point and is constantly in flux and when we are “happy” who can tell? Everyone! For happiness ripples outwards like a gentle ray of sunshine and we naturally gravitate towards it.

Happiness in six minutes… six minutes is all it takes to boil a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg with asparagus soldiers, I’m suggesting you give this recipe a go.
A golden yolk in 6 minutes...

If nothing more than to check out this newly discovered research. Something many of us always felt... the instincts sense and acknowledge surroundings before logic kicks in. 


Those who cook at home and take pleasure in doing so, eat more healthily and generally tend not to over indulge as often. Now by cook I mean buying wholesome ingredients, a combination of chopping, sometimes peeling, adding heat and spice, and having fun in the kitchen, there is no particular rule here, which is the best part.
A one pot wonder, I love less tidying up!
With Valentines Day looming, I mean, uh hum, dawning, ah yes! that sounds much nicer – many will be wanting to add some vroom vroom to their love lives. This is good, though the temptation to blow a bob on a bunch of red roses perhaps should be resisted. In place, how about a bunch of Asparagus! Seriously.

Rich in vitamin E, which boosts sensuality and helps to promote skin healing, this libido boosting green gem will lift your mood and leave feelings of frumpiness at the door. Now, dip one into a golden yolk and you are dipping into happiness – on so many levels, I promise!

When we cook healthy meals, feelings of positivity increase. This then follows through to the next meal and the next and so on. My beautiful Mum always said life happens in cycles, so as your wheel turns full circle, let it grow in strength and nourishment.
My special Egg!
When my two bothers and I were babes in arms, my Dad gave us each a marble egg, one blue, one green, one yellow; he later told us that this was to symbolise the new possibilities that life and happiness bring each day. Happiness is simple, and yet as the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in the 17th century “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries, and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” He also famously remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone. So happiness may all be about quiet, I like that. I like this too;


If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else. ~ Marvin Gaye 

This morning I sat quietly for six minutes, it was blissful.

Give yourself six minutes. Now, tomorrow and everyday. It starts with six minutes….

Love always,

FFXOX

Soft boiled egg with Asparagus soldiers

SERVES 2

Asparagus, 1 bunch
Eggs, 4 medium
Freshly ground black pepper, a scratch
Maldon salt, a sprinkle

BOIL the kettle.
TRIM woody ends of the asparagus.
PLACE eggs and asparagus in a snug fitting saucepan.
POUR over boiling water to cover.
SIMMER for 6 minutes exactly.
DRAIN and slice the top off each egg.
PLACE in your favourite egg cups and serve with asparagus along side.
GENEROUSLY season and sample the joys of a six minute melody.






Friday, 3 February 2012

Rocking Choc & Pear Tart

Here is a lovely recipe for you. Pears are part of the rose family, the most famous of floral beauties. So it comes as no surprise that this vitamin c rich fruit has a lot more going for it than other winter fruits. For anyone feeling winters chill, reach for a pear, pucker your thirsty lips around its gently soft paper-thin skin and savour. Sore throats are soothed by pears and for anyone who sings or has to project their voice loudly, pears will gently heal vocal chords and help you make sweeter sounds.

Nicknamed “butter fruit,” their smooth texture makes pears a perfect dessert fruit. Choose firm deep coloured pears and once ripe, store in the fridge.  Though now, drum roll please . . . .

Bring on the Pear and chocolate tarte, “a tarte with a heart.”

This classic combination will be remembered for good reason.

I have come up with what I believe is a fail-safe base, it is versatile and very easy to prepare. To top it off, I give you a ricotta dream, jewelled with pears and sprinkled with cacao. I’ve used one of my favourite sweeteners, the delicious sweet freedom and the silky smooth filling contains maple syrup, it feels like a maple breeze rushing through your olfactory senses and leaves you sweeter for it.

We can’t choose who comes into our lives and who stays in them, though we can choose whom we cook for and why we cook AND we can thank them all. I read this the other day and wanted to share it with you.

"This being human is a guesthouse,
Every morning a new arrival,
A joy, a depression, meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all,
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house clean of all its furniture.
Still treat each guest honourably,
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and let them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond." 
Rumi

Cook with love and your food will taste better. Food is a powerful medium that brings people together, eat healthily and watch the world blossom – beauty is everywhere.

Remember, life is truly precious and you are BEAUTIFUL!!!

Pear, peaches and sweet perfume to you.

Lots of love,

FFXOX

Rocking Choc & Pear Tart

SERVES 10 

For the crust
Rolled oats, 60g
Walnuts, 60g
Sweet freedom, 60g
Coconut oil, 50g melted
Vanilla extract, 1tsp
Salt, ½ tsp
Whole grain flour, 75g

For the filling
Conference pears, 3 peeled, cored and sliced

Saffron, 1 generous pinch
Boiling water, 1 tbsp
Lemon, 1 juice and zest
Cocoa powder, 1 flat tbsp 
Eggs, 2
Ricotta, 350g
Maple syrup, 70g

PRE-HEAT oven to 350°F gas 4 180’. 
COMBINE all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix. GREASE a 9” tarte tin with a little coconut oil and press crust evenly along the bottom of the pan, gently spreading it up the sides.
LAYER pear slices on top of the crust. 
MIX the saffron with boiling and set aside for fifteen minutes.
WHISK remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.
ADD saffron water and fold into mix.
POUR filling on top of crust and pear layer and spread evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
COOL tart completely before removing from pan, if possible leave to chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
SERVE with an optional dollop of Greek yogurt, crème fraiche, or clotted cream. 
SUMMER suggestions, sweet strawberries and maybe sprinkle over some blueberries before baking!
ROCKING tarte!
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