‘The more you praise and celebrate life, the more there is in life to celebrate’
Mr. B is Italian and so loves bread, all things dough really. So for his birthday instead of making him a cake (don’t worry I made him a vegan chocolate cake later in the week) i made him this focaccia. It was semi healthy as for every bite he took there was an olive with a full garlic clove.
I manually kneaded the bread but you can do it in a standing mixer if you have one. It takes a lot of muscle to do it by hand but i like it as it makes me appreciate the older generation more and allows me to work out some of that built up stress at the same time.
For an extra treat brush some garlic and rosemary infused oil on the bread just before serving
- 500g flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1.5 tsp. fast-action dried yeast
- 100g pitted olives (I used garlic stuffed olives)
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- Sea salt
- Add the flour, sugar, yeast and salt to a large mixing bowl
- Mix everything together and form a well in the middle and add 300ml tepid water and 3 tbsp. oil
- Mix together and then transfer to a floured surface
- Knead for at least 10 minutes
- Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea cloth, leave to rest for at least an hour
- When the dough is ready it will have doubled in size, tip it out and punch the air out
- Oil a baking tray and then spread the dough out on it, cover for 30 minutes and leave to rest
- After 30 minutes, punch holes in the dough one inch apart and push the olives to the bottom
- Place some garlic powder, the rosemary and a little oil in a bowl and then brush them over the bread
- Bake in a preheated oven for c. 20 minutes or until lightly golden on top
- Remove from the oven and serve hot
The pioppino mushroom is not only known for its delicious and earthy taste and great texture but also pack a series nutritional punch, providing a great source of vitamin D and boasting beneficial bacteria great for improving digestion and overall health. These mushrooms have a valuable amount of bioactive metabolites. These metabolites include agrocybenine with anti fungal properties, Cylindan which has anti-cancer properties and indole derivatives which are responsible for hunting down free radicals. The Pioppino mushroom is also known for slowing down the effects of osteoporosis. MIND BLOWN!
I found these at the farmers market and since I had never seen them before I thought I pick some up. I asked the lady what to do with them and she said just chop the whole thing up including the stalk and saute them with some shallots. So that is exactly what I did. I served these with some ancient grain gluten free pasta and topped with a little vegan parmesan.
‘Bellissimo’ said Mr. B and I agreed.
- 150g of gluten free pasta
- 400g Pioppini Mushrooms
- ½ cup shallots, sliced
- 10g vegan butter
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Vegan parmesan (optional)
- Clean and cut the mushrooms. I cut 2cm off the bottom and chop the stalks into rounds and slice the heads
- Warm the oil in a skillet and add the onions, cook until starting to brown
- Add the mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes on high heat
- Whilst cooking the mushrooms, cook the pasta
- Drain the pasta and add to the mushrooms, add the butter, salt and pepper
- Mix well and serve hot with optional vegan parmesan
‘Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors and let every new year find you a better man’ – Benjamin Franklin
Every year people makes lists of resolutions, drink less, eat less, do more exercise. These are really just generalities that you think will make your life better and in some circumstances relieve the guilt of the past season. We all do it and it seems to make sense at the time, but how long do we stick to our resolutions?
I have found, for me at least that making small changes on a day to day basis works better, with a little room for error, so that I don’t get into a guilt cycle and give up. Every day I start a fresh and think about what I can do better today.
For me like a lot of people, I have a deep and complex relationship with food. It has been my friend and enemy, it comforts me when I am far from home, it teaches me about my ancestry and it gives me a canvas for creativity. I am not going to give up eating and sometimes I am going to want something that does not serve me well, like a slice of pizza with my Italian husband or a truffle parmesan potato chip or two. So how do I balance the two.
I make it easy for myself to eat healthily 90% of the time and I don’t punish myself for the rest. I batch cook at the weekend and then my fast food is healthy food. I buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and I prepare them in batches as grab and go, lining up the pairings, for example peeling carrots and setting them next to the hummus, or placing mixed cut fruits in little pots next to my almond yogurt as a quick grab and go in the morning.
This recipe is an easy batch recipe. You cut and bake the butternut squash and eggplant, which you can make it bulk and use for other things also. You then add it all together bake it, creating 6-8 portions to be eaten or frozen. It tastes wonderful as a side or main, lunch or dinner and each ingredient can be repurposed in many different ways.
Take a few hours at the weekend to make your week easier and your food healthier. Now thats a resolution that anyone can keep. Happy Healthy 2019.
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 large jar passata/homemade or shop bought
- 2 large eggplants/aubergines
- 100g gluten free breadcrumbs
- 50g vegan parmesan
- salt, pepper, olive oil, chilli flakes
- Preheat the oven to 350f
- Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut into 1 cm long segments
- Toss the squash in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until soft
- As the squash is roasting, half peel the eggplant (alternate stripes) and slice into 1cm discs
- Cover in olive oil, salt and pepper and lightly fry to brown on each side. Set aside on kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil
- Warm the passata and add any additional flavouring you might like. I used a garlic basil tomato sauce and added a few chilli flakes (this saves a lot of time). Reference the Rowley Leigh recipe for the original recipe.
- Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan and set aside till ready to assemble
- In an ovenproof dish, spoon a little sauce on the bottom and place half the squash segments down. Add some more sauce over the top and add half the eggplant segments, add more sauce and add the rest of the squash segments, more sauce, the other half of the eggplant segments and the rest of the sauce. Cover with the mixed breadcrumbs and cheese and bake for 30 minutes. I baked it covered with foil to make sure the breadcrumbs didn’t burn
- Best eaten fresh and hot, but works well as leftovers too
Indian Arancini (GF, Vegetarian)
This is a fusion of my Italian and Indian heritage. Think about it as an Indian Tikki and Italian Arancini doing a little dance with the spice from the Tikki kissing the melted cheese from the Arancini.
Mr B told me that Arancini in fact isn’t the name of the dish, but what the dish looks like, a little orange. Cute right?!
I served it at my American Classics with an Indian twist dinner party and Mr B’s classic American friends loved. Quite honestly, Mr B’s American friends, love anything with melted cheese or spice, but what better to do than combine them.
- 300g potatoes
- ½ tsp. red chilli powder
- ½ tsp. coriander powder
- ½ tsp. cumin powder
- ½ tsp. minced ginger
- ½ tsp. minced garlic
- 2 tbsp. corn or rice flour
- 1 egg white
- 3 tbsp. coriander leaves, finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- 3 tbsp. Mozzarella
- 1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
- Oil for frying
- Peel and cook the potatoes until you can put a knife straight through, then leave to cool. Once cooled, grate
- Add the spices, salt, egg white and flour, mix well
- Put a tbsp. of the potato mixture in your palm and flatten, take a little piece of the mozzarella and place in the middle. Close the potato around it
- Roll in the breadcrumbs
- Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and place in the fridge for 5 minutes to firm
- Heat your oil to 350f and fry until golden
- Serve with tomato or coriander chutney