Caramelised Onion Cauliflower Tart.

Happy National Coeliacs Day!

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No, I didn’t know about it either until about an hour ago. But naturally I had to embrace it!

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It’s one of my last shifts at work tonight, and my last shift with the sous chef who is a hoot! It’s not going to be the same without him, but we all have uni to go to. Til next summer! However I promised him I’d bake him something tasty (he rather likes my cookies!) so I have baked some carrot cupcakes with orange cream cheese icing for him (recipe to follow soon!). But seeing as I’m wheat intolerant, I can’t have any of it. So it’s only fair that I baked myself something too.

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I told mum what this was and she did not seem impressed. After having her first bite she was hooked. Just because it’s gluten free AND vegan doesn’t mean it’s bland or dry as cardboard – this was delicious! Well, it doesn’t make The Guardian’s Top 10 Cauliflower Recipe list for nothing! I’ve barely changed it, just swapped the walnuts for pecans as a personal preference. Oh, and I replaced the spelt flour with plain old gf flour as it was already in the cupboard. Waste not, want not!

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Ingredients:

For the roasted cauliflower
1 medium-large cauliflower, chopped into florets
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp sea salt

For the crust
50g pecans
40g rolled oats
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
A large pinch of black pepper
120g gluten free flour
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to oil the pan
2 tbsp plain soya milk

For the filling
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely sliced
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp sea salt
A pinch of curry powder
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
60g plain soya milk or unsweetened almond milk
Black pepper

To garnish
Lemon zest
Fresh parsley, chopped

1 To roast the cauliflower, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2 Toss the florets in olive oil and salt, then arrange evenly on the tray and roast for 30 minutes. Turn each floret over and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the florets are browning.

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3 Remove from the oven and set aside to cool while you make the crust.

4 To make the crust, reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Lightly oil a 22cm tart tin with a removable bottom and set aside.

5 Place the pecans, oats, baking powder, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl, add the flour and mix well. Drizzle in olive oil and mix until evenly distributed. Add the soya milk and mix again. The mixture should hold together when squeezed but not stick to your hands. Add a little more soya milk if it’s too dry.

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6 Press evenly into the prepared tin, trimming excess pastry from the edges. Prick with a fork and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

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7 To make the filling, warm the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.

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8 Turn the heat down low, add the salt, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, or until caramelised.

9 Stir in the curry powder, remove from the heat and transfer into a food processor. Add a quarter of the roasted cauliflower, the lemon juice, soya milk and a large pinch of black pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides as necessary.

10 Spread into the prebaked tart shell and arrange the remaining cauliflower on the top. Bake the tart for 30 minutes.

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11 Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before sprinkling with the lemon zest and parsley.

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Avocado Spaghetti.

It’s one of those days where I’m just feeling a bit blah. I’m achey from my bootcamp (which of course is a good thing but right now it’s preventing me doing anything!), I was woken up prematurely by my brother’s alarm and I have loads of heavy reading to do for my dissertation (which I’ve not started on yet…). Not only that, but the caffeine from my multiple cups of coffees hasn’t hit me yet so it feels like I’m still half asleep. So I decided I needed something fun and exciting for lunch!

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This is quick, tasty and filling – perfect for on the couch in front of the telly.

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Ingredients for one:

75g spaghetti

1/2 avocado

1 Tbsp. rapeseed oil (or sub olive oil)

1 Tsp. pesto

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

salt and pepper

grated cheese, optional

Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water. Whilst that’s going, scoop out the avocado and blitz it in a blender. Once smooth (or as smooth as possible), add in the oil and lemon juice and blitz again. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and put it back in the hot pan. Add the avocado and the pesto and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cheese.

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Indian Green Beans with a Cucumber Raita.

It is chucking it down. Not only that, but it’s a thunderstorm too. “Thunder bolts and lightning, very very frightening” etc. Well, not for me, but my poor pooch is cowering in the lounge. Bless. I actually quite enjoy thunderstorms; watching the lightning, hearing the roar of the thunder. However my run has been most definitely neglected – I may enjoy storms, but that doesn’t mean I want to go out in them. No, the comfort of my conservatory is close enough.

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So for lunch I thought I needed something warming, exotic and tasty (not to mention healthy) to compensate for my lack of exercise. This recipe is simple and tasty, full of greens, and would be a nice side for a main meal, or eat it all yourself for lunch (like I did). It’s about 300 calories for the whole thing, and includes a load of ginger, which aids digestion and can keep flatulence at bay. Fab.

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I’ve served this green bean salad with a cucumber raita – after all, that’s one of my favourite bits about going to the Indian! By using fat free plain yoghurt, you can enjoy this at any time. The quantities for the raita make a lot of raita, so feel free to spread it on your toast or serve it with lamb throughout the week – just keep it in the fridge and it should last a few days.

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Ingredients:
100g green beans, top and tailed
1/2 head of broccoli
30g frozen petits pois
1 large carrot, grated
1 Tsp. chilli flakes
1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp. coriander
Rapeseed oil

For the raita:
150ml fat free plain yoghurt
1/3 cucumber, peeled and grated
about a thumb sized chunk of ginger, grated
1-2 Tbsp. chopped mint
1/2 Tsp. cumin

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Just mix all the ingredients for the raita together and there you have it! Leave to rest in the fridge until ready to serve, to let the flavours infuse.

Get a saucepan of water boiling on the stove and add the green beans. After about 2 minutes, add in the broccoli florets, and about a minute after that add in the peas. Cook together for a further minute or two (depending on how firm you like your broccoli) and drain the water. Return the veggies to the pan, add a splash of oil and the carrots and stir until the carrots are warm. Throw in the chilli flakes, coriander and sunflower seeds and tuck into this warming, Indian style dish!

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Clean Eating Quinoa.

Day 2, lunch, of my clean eating thingy-ma-bob.

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And I tell you, if clean eating always tastes this good, I’m a convert. This is a fresh tasting, healthy “salad” (though no green leaves in sight!), using the superfood quinoa. Quinoa, which has been around for thousands of years, is now classed as a superfood.  It’s packed with protein and low in fat and calories so it’s pretty much the perfect grain to use for healthy side dishes and salads. Plus, because of the protein, it really fills you up!

So here you have it, quinoa with chickpeas, onion, peppers and coriander. Tasty, filling, and can be made ahead of time – perfect for a picnic!

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This serves 2 very generously so go back for seconds and don’t feel guilty!

For the salad:

1/2 a mugful of quinoa

1 mugful (use the same mug!) of boiling water

1/2 tin chickpeas, drained

1 onion, thinly sliced

roasted peppers (I used 4 diddy peppers, but perhaps use 2 bell peppers)

2 Tsp. coconut oil

50-75g feta cheese, crumbled

 

For the dressing:

1 1/2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

1 Tsp. minced garlic (or more to taste – I like things very garlicky!)

salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. coriander

Olive oil

 

First off, get the peppers sliced thinly and in a baking tray with the coconut oil. Whack into a preheated oven of about 200C and keep an eye on them – they’ll need tossing. Mine took about 15-20 minutes to roast, but if you’ve got bigger ones they’ll take longer!

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Place the quinoa in a pan with the boiling water and a sprinkling of salt. Keep it on the boil, stirring until there’s no water left. This means it’s ready, so go ahead and put it in the fridge, or leave to cool if you’ve more patience than I do.

Make the dressing by mixing it all together. The oil is a judgement call, which is why I’ve not added a quantity. I’d estimate about 5 Tbsp, but if you want it more emulsified add less.

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To the quinoa, add the chickpeas, sliced onion, roasted peppers and feta. Gently toss, then add the dressing. You can add more coriander now, or gobble it up as it is. Either way, eat it!

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Cauliflower Pizza.

Now now, don’t scroll on past – this isn’t as bad as you’d think! In fact, it’s not bad at all. And if you love pizza but are trying to eat healthier then this is the thing for you. No, it doesn’t taste like a deep pan, crispy pizza; it kind of tastes like an undercooked thin base, but it doesn’t taste of cauliflower. It tastes good!

And when each slice is about 60 calories, is that enough for tempt you? That means the whole pizza (tomato and mozzarella included – not your fancy toppings) is under 400 calories. BOO-YAH. Do it. You have to.

But be warned – this stuff is life changing. Still able to have a meat feast topping whilst saving on carbs? Who can argue with that? Also this is suitable for coeliacs, those with wheat intolerance or paleolithic dieters!

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To make one pizza you’ll need:

  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 50g parmesan
  • 50g grated mozzarella
  • 1 Tsp. oregano
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Toppings:

  • tomato sauce (out of a jar or homemade – homemade see below)
  • one ball of mozzarella
  • your toppings of choice! I went for chillies and prosciutto

Preheat your oven to 220C and pop in a baking tray (big enough to hold your pizza).

Grate your cauliflower – it should look like rice.

Put it into the microwave for 4 minutes. When it pings, tip onto a clean tea towel and wring it out over the sink to get rid of the moisture from the cauli. If it’s too hot to handle, leave to cool for a few minutes.

Throw it into a bowl with the cheese, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and egg. Mix with a fork until it’s combined.

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Then tip onto some parchment and make it pizza-shaped (use fingers!).

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Because you’re using the baking parchment, you can then drag it onto your preheated baking sheet, and put it in to cook for 10 minutes, or until it’s starting to brown.

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(Sorry the picture’s a bit shitty, we had the door open as the sun was shining! Make the most of the weather haha!)

Smooth on your sauce and your toppings (I went for prosciutto and chillies), then whack it back in for 4 minutes or until it’s all bubbly and tempting. Slice it into 6 slices and serve up! Mamma mia! 

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For the homemade tomato sauce, simply throw a tin of tomatoes into a food processor, with a sprinkling of salt, pepper and oregano. Simples!

Roasted Red Wine Mushrooms with Blue Cheese and Spinach Baked Risotto.

You know when you’ve been eyeing up a recipe for sooooo long that you just have to give in and cook in? That’s what this is. It’s hardly the healthiest of meals, what with the wine and cheese, but sometimes you need to eat something hearty like this – we can’t all live off kale forever (yuk!).

My excuse for such a lavish dish was my neighbours birthday and I was volunteered to cook – so this show stopper of a meal had to make it’s debut appearance!

ImageThe recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks, Jo Pratt’s In The Mood For Entertaining. I’ve altered the quantities to suit 4 people instead of 6 as the book intends, and changed the amount of cheese – I’ve decreased the blue cheese, surprisingly! I think any more than 60g would be overpowering and too rich; this amount was, as Goldilocks would say, “just right”.

Ingredients for 4 very hungry people:

For the mushrooms:

  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 Tsp. dried oregano
  • a handful of basil leaves, chopped finely (dried would be fine)
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato purée
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 6 large flat mushrooms (Portobello would work)
  • 150 ml red wine

Put the mushrooms into a heatproof dish. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, oregano, basil, tomato purée, olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a paste. Rub this paste into the mushrooms, smearing it lightly into the gills. Pour over 100ml of the red wine and leave to cover for at least 1 hour. When the red wine has been absorbed, add the remaining 50ml (you can always add more!).

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For the risotto:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 150ml white wine
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 60g blue cheese (I used Danish Blue, but Stilton or Gorgonzola would be fine)
  • 100g grated cheddar
  • 170g spinach leaves
  • 50g pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Melt the butter in a large ovenproof dish (such as a casserole dish) and gently sauté the onion until it’s transparent. Add the rice and stir to coat it in the butter before adding the white wine. Cook until half of the wine has been absorbed.

Put the mushrooms in the oven to cook for about 25 minutes.

Add the hot stock to the rice with a twist of black pepper (omit the salt as the blue cheese will give some saltiness when added). Stir briefly and cover with a tight fitting lid. Place in the oven and bake for 18 minutes, until just cooked. Remove from the oven, stir in the cheese and spinach, until melted or wilted.

Remove the mushrooms from the oven, and cut each one in half.

Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan.

Serve up! Plate the risotto on warm plates and scatter over the pine nuts. Put 3 halves of a mushroom on each plate, and spoon any remaining red wine juices over them.

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I can’t stress how rich and delicious this is – you HAVE to have it!

Sun-dried tomato tart with goat’s cheese.

Having a dinner party or friends over for lunch? This is great for a starter or a light lunch, and looks impressive, even though it’s simple as pie! I served it for a dinner party the other day as a starter, and as it’s veggie it caters for everyone’s needs! Sun-drying the tomatoes takes the longest, but it’s a no-fuss method so you can basically forget about them (don’t forget for too long! We don’t want burnt tomatoes..). The great thing about this is that you can prepare it ahead of time, then just put the finished article in the oven to heat up – it doesn’t get much simpler!

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Ingredients (serves 6):

  • 5-6 tomatoes, depending on the size
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • A jar of store-bought caramelised red onion chutney
  • 150g soft goat’s cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C. Start by halving the tomatoes and getting rid of the stem. Put in a baking tray and cover generously with olive oil and the garlic. Pop in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, but keep checking. They should retain their shape but be softer and a little mushy (really selling it, aren’t I?).
  2. Whilst the tomatoes are cooking, roll out your puff pastry sheet and cut out 6 circles. Put on a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper, and wash with the beaten egg. Pop into the same oven as the tomatoes for about 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove and leave to cool.
  3. Top the pastry with a couple of teaspoonfuls of caramelised onion chutney, then one or two tomato halves, depending on the size of the tomato. Sprinkle each tomato with goat’s cheese. These can now be kept, covered in the fridge, until you are ready to heat them up and serve. They just need 5-10 minutes in the oven from room temperature, or until hot. Serve with a side salad (and a glass of white wine wouldn’t go amiss!).

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Special Green Beans.

Because sometimes plain French beans just don’t cut it! This would be nice as an accompaniment to a roast for a change, or you could even replace your chips with them for a healthier meal.

Recipe adapted from Simply Scratch

Ingredients:
2 packets green beans (or however many you want)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 mugful breadcrumbs made from stale bread (3 or 4 slices would be plenty – I used the remains from gluten free loaf I’d made)
1 mugful finely grated strong white cheese (I used Cornish Gove, but Cheddar would be fine)
Salt and pepper


Instructions:
1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Boil the green beans in salted water for 3-4 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water to retain the bright green colour. Pat dry. 
2. Get your station ready! Mix the grated cheese and breadcrumbs together in a bowl, with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Dip the DRY green green in the egg whites, then in the breadcrumb/cheese mix. Place on a baking tray.
3. Place the green beans in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve hot.

Lightened Up Broccoli Tart

I was asked to make something fairly healthy that my family could easily take to work/uni for lunch, so I immediately thought “broccoli”. Not only is it the tastiest vegetable (not open for debate!), but it’s high in iron and protein and for my gym-obsessed cousin that’s just the ticket. I say this is “lightened up” as the recipe called for 250ml double cream, which I replaced with 0% fat plain yoghurt – bit of a difference!

 
Recipe adapted from The Great British Bake Off recipe book.
 
 
 
For the pastry: 
200g plain flour
100g cold unsalted butter
50g walnuts, finely ground (this adds a nice nuttiness you don’t often get in a tart)
4-5 tbsp. ice cold water
 
For the filling:
1 head broccoli, cooked al dente in salted boiling water
250ml natural yoghurt (or substitute crème fraiche) 
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp each of parsley, smoked paprika and herbes de provence
150g grated cheese (I used Cornish Gove but Cheddar would work just as well) 
 
Instructions:
1. For the pastry, tip the flour and butter into a bowl with a pinch of salt. Rub the mixture together with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the walnuts.
2. Add the water one tablespoon at a time until the mix comes together and looks like a dough. Knead the pastry then rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
4. Roll the pastry out between two sheets of cling film, remove the cling film and use the pastry to line a 25cm/10in tart tin.
5. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans and bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper and bake for a further five minutes, or until pale golden-brown.
6. Whilst the pastry is baking, mix the yoghurt with the crushed garlic and herbs. 
7. Once the pastry is pale golden-brown, assemble the broccoli on the tart base, then smother on the yoghurt mix. Top with the grated cheese. 
8. Bake in the oven for around 35-40 minutes (less time if you’re using a small tin) until cooked through. 
 
This made enough for one large and one small broccoli tart, with pastry left over, which I filled with leftovers from the fridge – chorizo, Boursin and coleslaw. 
 
 

Tom’s Super Soup.

Soup is a fabulous filling meal, and doesn’t have to contain unhealthy things like cream. This one is great for someone on a diet, or equally for someone who likes a bit of heat! 

Another special from Tom, he spoiled us and served this as our starter. Babe.


Have a smaller portion for a starter, or crank up the size for a main.

 

Ingredients:
  • 6 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 red pepper, chopped
  • olive oil
  • fresh chopped chilli or chilli flakes 
  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Throw the tomatoes and peppers onto a baking tray and smother in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Put in the oven.
  2. Cook for about 30-40 minutes, tossing them every ten or so. They should be perfectly roasted.
  3. Put in a food blender or a large bowl if using a handheld whizzer. Blend to a thick liquid.
  4. Add the chilli. You can freeze it or chill it in the fridge if you fancy gazpacho. Alternatively, serve as soon as it’s soup-like!