I’ve had quite the month of indulgent food, and I really need to step away from the bread and the chocolate and eat healthily for a while to restore a bit of balance. But the problem is I just love good food, I can’t resist something comforting and delicious, and a miserable cucumber salad ain’t my kind of jam.
I had a total craving for quiche last weekend, I just wanted something rich and comforting with a crumbly, biscuity crust. I decided to put my mind to it and make the most health freaky quiche that still tastes incredible… Sounds too good to be true, I know.
This quiche is filling and rich, yet surprisingly light (I know that makes no sense). Packed with green goodness but with enough sharp feta it packs a nice punch. The crust was the experiment and thankfully worked out great, you could definitely use it for sweet tarts too. This is the perfect summer dish if you’re trying to be healthy, but like me are a bit of a glutton at heart.
1/2 mug oats
1/2 mug ground almond
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 head broccoli (or a packet of tender stem broccoli)
1 bunch spring onions
1/2 courgette (optional, I just had some leftover in the fridge so chucked it in)
1 packet feta cheese
Salt & Pepper
Blend the oats with a hand blender into a powder. Then throw in a mixing bowl with the ground almond, melted coconut oil and a pinch of salt, mix together with a spoon until it comes together. It will still be totally crumbly so don’t worry. Add in a few tablespoons of water and mix together more, this should help it come together so it’s combined.
This pastry is not like a normal pastry so don’t worry that it will keep falling apart. Roll out between two sheets of cling film and then squish it into a quiche tin. I say squish because it will for sure fall apart, but you just need to squish the bits in and patch it up. Throw it into the fridge for 30 mins and it will harden up nicely (at this point you will feel much more confident that it won’t be a total disaster)
Chop the head of broccoli into little florets and slice the courgette and spring onions finely. Throw them all into a large pot with a little coconut oil, salt, pepper and a splash of water with the lid on, stir occasionally. You basically just want to soften these for 10 minutes, the steam from the water should keep them moist and turn them a vibrant green, they shouldn’t catch on the base of the pan. When just slightly soft take out of the pan and drain any excess water if there is any.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl with a splash of milk and season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle half your cheese on the base of the chilled quiche, then scatter your veggies and top up with the egg, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Throw into an oven preheated to 180C for 40 minutes.
You can eat it hot from the oven with salad, or cold the next day for your lunch. Enjoy!
I have recently been on holidays in Italy (yet again), drawn back by the lure of bread, cheese, pizza, pasta and gelato. I just love holidays in Italy, being able to chill out on a beautiful beach with a book, take breaks for ice-cream (it’s holidays okay…), dip into a seaside restaurant for fresh fish for lunch with a bottle of local wine, more sunbathing, then pre-dinner drinks followed by a big plate of fresh pasta heaped with seafood, butter, herbs and prawns, and more wine, and bread… Lots of bread. Okay I’m getting a little distracted and hungry again just thinking about it.
One of my favourite things to eat there is a Caprese salad with fresh, local buffalo mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and basil mopped up with crusty bread. While I was in Puglia I had some of the most incredible olive breads and decided that I had to make one as soon as I got back. So off to the market I trotted and filled up a bag of salty, black olives. While my bread looks brown it’s actually white, all the kneading of the olives into the dough coloured it. You could always add the olives into the bread after kneading for a dramatic contrast.
This bread is made using fast-action yeast and so is very quick and easy to make. Why not make it this weekend and enjoy it with some fresh mozzarella and a good bottle of red?
500g white bread flour
1 large handful black olives chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch salt
1 sachet of fast action yeast
300ml warm water
1 heaped teaspoon of brown sugar
In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt and oil. Give it a quick stir and then stir in the yeast.
Now stir in the water and stir for a minute until all ingredients are combined. You can either add in the olives now, or after kneading so that the bread is less brown in colour.
Knead the bread on a clean, floured surface for at least 10 minutes, or if you have an electric mixer with a dough hook you could throw it in that for half the time.
Shape the dough and coat it with a little olive oil. Pop it into an oiled bowl and cover in cling film. Leave it in a warm place until it has double in size which can take between 1.5 – 2 hours.
When the dough has risen bake in an oven, preheated to 220c for 35-40 minutes. A trick here is to throw a few ice cubs or half a glass of water into the oven 5 minutes before putting the bread in, the steam will help create a nice crust on the bread. I like to slash a blade or sharp knife across the top of the bread too before putting it in the oven to allow the steam to escape.
The baked loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Let the bread cool on a wire rack and enjoy with some butter, cheese or hummus!
Ok so I have no idea what most supermodels eat (probably a packet of cigarettes and a diet coke), but I still live in hope that eating dishes like this will bring me one step closer becoming Miranda Kerr.
Maybe not. If not I won’t be too upset though as this taste so delicious, it’s one of those salads that doesn’t really feel like a salad. I like it best as a side with some fish, meat or quiche. It’s a perfect side for a BBQ. It’s full of all the good stuff especially quinoa which is a really high protein grain.
With the weather looking mighty for the rest of the summer (I hope I didn’t jinx that), this is definitely one worth banging out.
1 mug dried quinoa grains
1/2 chicken or veg stock cube
2 peeled garlic cloves
1 large handful mangetout
1 bunch spring onions
3 tbsp toasted flaked almonds
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
Zest of 1 lemon
Rinse the quinoa really well in a sieve under water. This is important as the coating of quinoa has a soapy residue so if you don’t rinse it well it will taste yuck. Tip the rinsed grains into a pot of boiling water with the chicken stock cube and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil and let simmer away for about 15-20 minute- until cooked through. It needs a bit, not to be mushy.
Chop the scallions and fry in a little oil the set aside. Slice the mangtout and pop in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then remove and pop into a bowl of icy water. Strain and set aside.
When the quinoa is cooked through, strain it and pop into a serving bowl. Add in the spring onions, mangetout, 2 tbsp of the almonds, most of the pomegranate seeds and most of the lemon zest.
Stir it all together and to serve sprinkle with some more of the almonds, lemon zest and pomegranate.
Serve immediately but this will keep well for a few days in the fridge.
To make up for my temporary insanity in posting a vegan recipe last week, I’m making up for it this week in the most un-vegan recipe I could muster. A triple whammy of animal products- cheese, egg and bacon!
Don’t get me wrong I have no problem eating vegan food every now and then, and those vegan chickpea burgers were yum. But try and separate me from my beloved cheese, eggs and bacon for more than a few days? We’ll have issues.
I was home last weekend in West Cork and stocked up on some of my favourite Cork produce: Gubbeen smoked streaky bacon, and Toonsbridge buffalo Mozzarella. I combined these with some local organic eggs and was pleasantly surprised at how much cheese I could stomach first thing in the morning! You could always leave out the egg and it would be equally nice but please don’t skimp on the garlic butter. This is so delicious and indulgent, it would make the perfect weekend brunch for friends.
1 handful fresh mozzarella (about 1 large ball- I used Toonsbridge)
4 tbsp soft butter
2 crushed garlic cloves
First off you may as well make your garlic butter, just mix together your butter and crushed garlic, add as little or much as you like. My breakfast guest was a wuss so just had plain butter.
Grill you bacon pieces on a medium high heat for a few minutes on each size- you want them well cooked but not crispy. If they’re very oily after cooking dab them a little with some kitchen paper- don’t dry them out though.
Fry your eggs in a little oil while the bacon is cooking, do them to your taste runny or set.
Toast your bread and smear with some garlic butter. Tear up the mozzarella and lay out on the bread and pop under the grill for a few minutes until melted and gooey. Then top with your bacon and egg and serve!
Chicken dippers have a bad rep, and for a fair reason. They usually come in a cardboard box, they’re processed, unhealthy and the actual meat content is pretty questionable. I don’t eat much chicken at all, I certainly never order it when I’m out in a restaurant, and rarely buy it for dinners during the week. It’s all a result of watching a pretty nasty documentary on chicken farming a few years ago that gave me the heebie jeebies. However, I feel like I should start eating it more and reintroduce it to my diet (if even only to help ween me off my pulled pork addiction which definitely isn’t healthy either). I always buy chicken that is free-range, and sometimes organic if I’m feeling flash, which helps me forget aforementioned documentary… Shudder.
The other thing that puts me off chicken is that it’s usually so boring and bland. So my mission for the next month is to make more chicken dishes and shake it up a little to shrug of my weird preconceptions.
This chicken dish is really yummy and so tasty. As far as chicken dippers go they’re about as good as they’re going to get, you could always use gluten free flour or breadcrumbs if you’re coeliac. The honey mustard sauce gives a nice kick as well. This is a fuss free recipe that feels a little naughty, but is still kind of nice. Give this a shot and let me know what you think!
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
salt & pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tbsp natural or Greek yoghurt
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard (optional)
Assemble your dipping line in three separate bowls. In the first bowl mix in the flour and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. In the second bowl beat and egg. In the third bowl mix the breadcrumbs and lemon zest.
Slice the chicken into strips/fingers and dip them in the flour, the egg and then the breadcrumbs.
Fry on a medium high heat in about 2 tbsp of oil (I used coconut but whatever you have is fine). They will take about 5 minutes on each side, maybe a little more depending on thickness. There should be no pinkness in the middle whatsoever when they’re cooked.
Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and serve with the dippers.
As you may have guessed from the title, this is not my recipe. Alas, it’s Ottolenghi’s. I was tempted to play around with some of the ingredients and pass it off as my own, but that would be pretty dishonest. Plain theft really. Bloody Ottolenghi… he’s just so damn talented! I visited his restaurant in Islington last year with my friend and it was incredible. We barely spoke to one another we were enjoying the food so much! It seems there’s nothing he touches that isn’t turned into incredible, luscious food porn. He’s going to be speaking at the Ballymaloe LitFest this year but unfortunately the tickets to his event are sold out, so I’m going to have to try and gatecrash it. To those who have managed to get their hands on tickets… I’m very jealous.
While this isn’t my recipe, I felt that I just had to share it to those who may not have already tried this… The rest of the world needs his shakshuka in their lives. This recipe is the perfect brunch, it feels indulgent but it’s pretty healthy. You can also make the sauce the night before which is pretty handy if you want to speed up the cooking the next morning. I didn’t have any thyme or saffron and it still worked beautifully. I served this up with my homemade sourdough bread for three very harsh critics (my family) and they all loved it, but don’t just take my word for it…. Try it out!
½ tsp cumin seeds
190ml light olive oil or vegetable oil (I used just under half a cup)
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
2 red and 2 yellow peppers, cored and cut into 2cm strips
4 tsp muscovado sugar
6 sprigs thyme, picked and chopped
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ tsp saffron strands
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Up to 250ml water
8 free-range eggs
In a large saucepan, dry-roast the cumin on high heat for two minutes. Add the oil and sauté the onions for two minutes. Add the peppers, sugar, bayleaves, thyme, parsley and two tablespoons of coriander, and cook on high heat to get a nice colour. Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, adding enough water to keep it the consistency of a pasta sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavoursome. You can prepare this mix in advance.
Place four saucepans on medium heat and divide the mixture between them. Break two eggs into each pan, pouring into gaps in the mixture. Sprinkle with salt, cover and cook very gently for 10-12 minutes, until the egg just sets. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with chunky white bread.
I had the weekend to myself and decided to treat it as a relaxing weekend to rest and unwind. In reality this resulting in spoiling myself with some amazing foods- steak, dark salted chocolate, olives and even pancakes for breakfast… Whoever said eating for one is depressing, has obviously never met me before.
I like making pancakes every now and then on the weekends but I usually try and keep them relatively healthy (as much as pancakes can be healthy I suppose). This weekend I decided to try and make some chocolate pancakes and these turned out really well. I used buckwheat and oats in place of flour and they had a lovely texture. If you don’t like buckwheat or are just not bothered trying to give your pancakes a healthy slant, you can just use plain flour. As the cocoa used is unsweetened, you could add some honey if you liked for your sugar rush.
These are so easy to make and take no time at all to whip up (about 10 minutes from start to finish!). Give them a go and rid yourself of your pancake guilt!
Ingredients (serves 2):
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup buckwheat (or other flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
2 level tbsp cocoa (you could use raw cocao for extra health freak brownie points)
Flaked toasted almonds
Peanut butter (optional)
Whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, cocoa, milk and egg in a mixing bowl. You want a custard like consistency so you might not need all the milk.
Pop a non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. Add a little oil (I used coconut oil but you can use any mild tasting oil… not olive oil!), then spoon a ladle of batter onto the pan. You should be able to fit about 3 on the pan at a time.
After a minute or two bubbles will start appearing at the top of the pancake, this means it’s time to flip them over. Fry for another 2 minutes.
Stack ‘em high and if you like peanut butter and have it handy, I like to smear a little between the layers of pancakes. Serve with banana, yoghurt, toasted flaked almonds. You can also add a spoon of honey if you need your sugar hit.