It’s January (in case you hadn’t noticed) so everyone* is eating healthy and “detoxing”. Detoxing is a whole load of horse shit. Eating healthy, however, isn’t. I see plenty of people slamming detoxing and lumping the people that are just generally eating better into their ridicule. I’m also not trying to claim that I’m eating better just because it’s January. I generally eat ok (those that follow me on Instagram may not believe me based on the number of burgers I post, but it’s what you don’t see that makes up 80% of my diet) having soup or salad for my weekday lunches and something packed full of veg for my dinner.
Over winter I usually stick with soup and salad takes up most of spring/summer/early autumn. I have however been getting a bit bored of soup lately so thought I’d go back to the salads for a little bit. Last summer I experimented with a few Kale based salad recipes. They were great, but not overly sustainable money/timewise. For instance I made a miso & baked tofu one, which was wonderful but time consuming (and miso isn’t cheap/easy to find, not in Leeds anyway), and then a warm salad with mushrooms, peppers, balsamic etc, the snag with that one being that it needed serving fresh and warm.
This Coconut Quinoa & Kale salad with Cashew & Coriander Pesto is great because you can prep it in advance and (while it does obviously taste better fresh and warm) it’ll still be good over the next couple of days (I freshen it up with a bit of Soy Sauce). I adapted a recipe I found here. The pesto is great and something I’m going to make again and use with a few different things.
Coconut Quinoa & Kale Salad with Cashew & Coriander Pesto
Fuck Man, cheese. It’s the one. Also blue cheese. Sometimes I get cravings for it. I may have covered that before when I put up my blue cheese scone recipe. But it’s something I could easily chat about for ages. I often find myself sat with friends just talking cheese and realise that a good 45 minutes has gone past. I also really like bacon. Bacon is good. Basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m really good with hangover/comfort food. The other day I made an awesome 3 cheese & chorizo mac’n’cheese (I’m going to put the recipe up for that soon) and I had some leftover blue. So what did I do? Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Stuffed with blue cheese, mozzarella, basil and bacon.
I used my frying pan for this, and it came out wonderfully. It’d work a number of other ways. Toastie machine, grill etc. Just make sure you both sides are golden and that the cheese has reached that wonderful gooey stage. There isn’t much more I can say about this other than: MAKE THE FUCK OUT OF THIS.
2 Slices of bread, buttered on one side of each slice (I used white)
Blue cheese (I used Stilton)
5-6 pieces of Mozzarella (Sliced off a ball)
3-4 Basil leaves
4 Bacon Rashers, fried (I used streaky)
Heat up a non stick frying pan.
While it's heating up form the sandwich. The buttered sides need to face outwards. Layer blue cheese, mozzarella, basil and bacon. Making sure that there is a layer of cheese either side of the bacon/basil.
Place on the warm pan, butter side down. Leave to fry for about 90 seconds, making sure it doesn't stick to the pan.
Flip and fry for 30 seconds, then check that both sides are cooked. They should be golden brown.
Press down while it's frying to help push the cheeses together.
So I’m three weeks into London now. It’s going pretty quickly, and after viewing flats almost every night after work it took my future flatmate Kate coming down to the London and blitzing a heap of viewings during a daytime to find us somewhere. The exciting thing is that we’ve had our offer accepted on a flat and once all the paperwork is sorted we should be moving in this weekend, November 1st. Recommendations for things to do/eat/see in Clapham please? (Also if anyone fancies giving me a hand moving my stuff Leeds to London this weekend please let me know, this is a serious request).
But anyway, enough of that, I’ve been all kinds of busy the last week or so. On top of the hunting I’ve also been to MCM Comicon, the Science Museum and eaten about 5m burgers. I invited a number of friends over on Sunday so I had an excuse to try out my new pressure cooker from the team across at Tower. Now that my working day is longer, and my commute has quadrupled I’ve got significantly less time in the evenings than I did before. As pressure cookers are intended to cut cooking times and with my shorter evenings this can only help me want to cook more when I get home.
I had a hunt around for a few recipes that’d be friendly for a group of us (originally supposed to be 5, but ended up as 4). The pulled pork that Daisy across at Pretty Green Tea made recently looked great. I opted for Lamb Shanks, with a red wine gravy, something which would usually take a couple of hours (a braised lamb shank can take around 1.5 hours plus). With the pressure cooker the cooking time was cut down to around 45 minutes (including the majority of the prep). The pressure cooker is a 4.5 litre model and was just the right size for this.
Everyone enjoyed it and the gravy, after a little thickening complimented the lamb wonderful. The lamb was tender and close to falling off the bone. Have you tried a pressure cooker before? Any tips, or suggestions?
(optional) flour and cold water for thickening the gravy.
Cover the lamb shanks in four, discarding the excess.
In the base of the pressure cooker heat half of the oil. Brown the lamb shanks and set aside.
Add the rest of the oil and fry the onion, carrots, leek and garlic. Frying for around 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add the lemon rind, thyme, tomatoes, stock and wine and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Allow to boil for a few minutes.
Place the lamb shanks back in the cooker, covering with some of the liquid and veg.
Place the lid on the cooker and set to high pressure, apply high heat until the pressure safety open preventing valve pops up and then drop the heat (keeping the pressure at high). Keep at this for 25 minutes.
Once you have reached this point, you have to allow the cooker to cool before you open it. Release the steam using the valve and then run the pan under the cold tap until the safety opening valve drops.
The lamb should be ready at this point, but if it needs longer then give it another 5 minutes.
If you need to thicken the gravy, mix the flour with the cold water and add to the gravy mix, boiling and stirring until it thickens.
Serve with mashed potato and greens, sprinkled with extra rosemary.
It’s autumn, basically my favourite time of the year. I can start wearing knitwear every day and put pumpkin in everything (once I get a kitchen I want to do a pumpkin cake with cinnamon drizzle). However until I’ve got my baking stuff it’s a bit tricky. Tim’s kitchen is perfectly stocked for actual cooking though. The other great thing about this time of year is that it’s such a great time of year to make soups and one-pots. They are such a cheap option, being hearty, warming and filling. While I write up the intro for this recipe the soup is currently sat bubbling away on the stove.
I spent Sunday pottering around E17, where I am lucky enough to be staying at the moment (we put an offer in for a flat in Clapham on Friday, so fingers crossed). The area looks great at this time of year, as it’s one of the more “green” parts of London. Well, green in the summer anyway. Right now it’s a wonderful array of different colours.
I was first introduced to pumpkin soup when I was backpacking in Australia. A few people in my hostel were working on a pumpkin farm and bought some leftovers back, turning it into a rich pumpkin soup. The main pumpkins sold in England are display pumpkins rather than cooking ones. Butternuts make a great substitute for a similar type of soup however. Roasted squash soup (perhaps with a tiny bit of chorizo to add some smokiness) makes a great thick soup.
My only issue here is not having a blender means it ended up being a chunkier soup than I’d normally make.
Crème Fraiche (I tend to put a dollop in each bowl)
Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan assisted), drizzle oil over the deseeded butternut halves, place on a baking tray and roast for around 45 minutes.
In oil, fry the onions until soft over a medium heat (add the chorizo now if using). Add in the paprika, carrots and garlic and fry for a further couple of minutes before adding in the scooped out squash.
Drop the temperature to low. Pour over the veg stock, cover and simmer for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. The squash should start breaking down. At this point, either mash it up or blend it.
Dollop crème fraiche on top to serve. I also sprinkle paprika over the top.