We think it’s safe to say, we’ve become fans of the smoothie bowl. They are perfect for breakfast – packed with good energy foods and lots of vitamins from fruit and vegetables, these smoothie bowls are an easy way to get a whole lot of good stuff into your system first thing! And they keep you feeling full, so great if you’re trying to stay away from midday snacking!
Makes 2 bowls
120g pre-cooked beetroots (we used a ready cooked pack from the supermarket)
1 cup raspberries
2 weetabix biscuits
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp sifted cocoa
1 cup almond milk
To pre-cook the beetroot, cook it in boiling water till it’s soft enough to poke a fork through. You can do this the night before and leave the beetroot in the fridge overnight so you can get the smoothie done quickly in the morning.
Add all the ingredients, except the milk into a blender. Pour in half the milk and start the blender. As the ingredients are blending, pour the rest of the milk in bit by bit until you get the consistency you want. You may find you prefer it thicker and so may not use the whole cup of milk.
Pour into a bowl and if you like it chilled, cover with cling film and pop it in the fridge, or use frozen raspberries instead!
When you’ve had one of those manic days but want a hot, comforting meal for dinner, this is a hearty, healthy winner that takes less than 15 minutes. In fact. We’re having it for dinner right now!
Portions: 2 large main portions or 4 small ones
For the Cous Cous:
1 cup cous cous
1 1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon fish curry powder (if you don’t have fish specifically then just curry powder will do)
1 tsp salt
1 tsps lemon thyme or regular thyme -optional
For the curry:
Some olive oil for frying the onions, garlic and spices
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsps chopped tinned tomatoes
2 tins of tuna (220g drained)
6-7 leaves of Cavalo Nero, chopped up (you can use kale or spring greens if you can’t find Cavalo Nero)
1 cup of frozen peas, blanched quickly in hot water and removed
1 1/2 tsp curry paste or 2 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp preserved lemon (or rind of 1 lemon + juice of 1/2 lemon+ 1/2 tsp sugar) – optional
Place thecous cous in a bowl and add the salt, curry powder and thyme. Pour in the hot water and cover. Leave aside.
Pour the olive oil in a pan and add the onions. Fry till soft and translucent and then add the garlic and cumin seeds. Fry for a minute till the cumin releases its gorgeous smell. Add the curry paste/powder and fry for another half a minute. Add the tinned tomato and the preserved lemon and mix it in with everything in the pan. Now add the Cavalo Nero and tuna and cook until the Cavalo Nero begins to soften. Add the salt and stir in. Take it off the heat and mix in the peas (which give the dish a little sweetness to balances out the spice). Now, add thecous cous to this pan and mix it all in well. Done!
X Anu & Suba
PS: If you don’t have preserved lemon, no problem! This is a quick replacement (not as good to be honest, but gives it a similar kick) Add the rind of 1 lemon to the juice of half a lemon and 1/2 tsp of sugar. Stir it and let it sit while you prepare everything else.
If you haven’t caught on to the rage, it’s not too late to start – we just have! Trade in a glass of smoothie in the morning for a bowl of it and use it as a canvas for fruits, nuts, seeds and herbs – excellent fun! This may be our first, but it’s certainly not going to be our last!
1/2 cup oats (cooked according to packet instructions)
2 ripe bananas
1 cup blueberries (we used frozen ones as we wanted a cold smoothie)
1/2 cup almond milk (you can use regular milk too)
1 tbsp greek yoghurt
Grated rind of a medium orange (optional)
Cook the oats according to packet instructions – we used almond milk for the oats.
Break up the bananas and put them in a blender. Add the blueberries and the almond milk and blitz it on medium till everything is blended together.
Next, add the cooked oats, the yoghurt andrind. Blitz again on medium till combined. Empty it all out into a bowl and unleash your creativity!
This cake was inspired by two things – 1) needing to use a bag of polenta we bought in Switzerland last month for a family dinner but never used and 2) a recent discovery that the maroon and cream livery of the Great Northern Railway’s dining carriage in the 1940s (random fact of the day) came to be affectionately known as ‘Plum and Spilt Milk’, which sounded like a divine flavour combination! So obviously, we had to make a cake featuring those ingredients. It turned out a real treat with a cuppa tea so we thought we’d share it with all of you.
Serves 8 (big slices) or 10 (medium slices)
Prep Time: 20 mins Baking time: Approx 50-60 minutes
3/4 cup muscovado sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup polenta (we used fine polenta)
1 cup sifted self-raising flour (or plain flour with a tsp of baking powder sifted in)
1/2 cup double cream
a tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsps strawberry or current jam
Turn the oven on to 160 degrees c. Ours is an electric fan oven. Grease a round tin and line with baking parchment.
Cut the plums down the middle and twist each half in opposite directions. Slice the half with the stone in half again and twist, same as above – this will help in removing the stone. Cut each quarter into half again so that from each plum, you get 8 slices in total. Set aside.
Next, put both types of sugar together with the butter and beat until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat till well mixed in. After adding all three eggs, add the double cream and vanilla. Mix well.
Now add half the flour and half the polenta, fold in. Now, add the other half of both and fold in until well mixed. Careful not to beat the flour and polenta in and don’t mix vigorously either. Just patiently fold it in, we promise that will be worth the effort!
Pour the batter into your tin and smooth the surface. Now, starting from the edge of the tin, place the plum slices one next to the other, vertically, all around the tin (sneak a quick look at the picture above to see what we mean about the placing – that said, if you place it horizontally, it’ll be fine too!). Keep going till you fill up the whole top of the cake. You may want to choose the plum slices according to how they fit but really, don’t hesitate to squeeze them together or force them into shape! What you want to avoid is pressing the plums in because the cake will rise and you don’t want the plums sinking in when that happens.
Put the tin in the oven, middle shelf, and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Put the cake on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes and while that’s happening, zap the jam in the microwave for 10 seconds or put it in a bowl and the bowl in a bath of hot water – basically loosen the jam so you can brush it all over the cake. Brush the cake with the warm jam and leave it to cool completely.
Tis’ the season for stone fruits and we pay tribute to them this week, starting with this very quick and easy recipe featuring nectarines. Serve it up as dessert on a warm Summer afternoon or pile it on toast or pancakes for a fast and fancy brunch treat.
Most nectarines are sold slightly underripe because, like most stone fruits, they bruise very easily. So after buying nectarines, let them ripen for a couple of days at room temperature before eating or using them in cooking. If you can’t find nectarines, you can replace them with apricots for this recipe.
Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 10-15 mins
2 tbsps melted butter
4 heaped tbsps brown sugar
125 g mascarpone
1 vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds (or a tsp of vanilla extract)
Honey, for drizzling
Turn the oven to 180 deg c. Line a baking or roasting tray.
Cut around the nectarines and twist open. Remove the stone from the middle by carefully cutting it out. If it’s quite ripe, the stone may easily be pulled out. Slice each half of the nectarine into 4 slices. Place these on the baking tray.
Melt the butter and set to the side. Sprinkle the sugar as evenly as possible over the nectarine slices and carefully pour the melted butter over the slices so that all the nectarines are coated. Place this in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until the sugar caramelises and the nectarines are lightly browned. They don’t have to brown evenly, all we want is for the nectarines to be coated with the delicious, sticky brown caramel.
While the nectarines are roasting, mix the mascarpone with the ricotta and add the vanilla – either the scraped out seeds or the extract and mix well.
Once the nectarines are done, leave them to cool down and then transfer them to little bowls or plates, dollop the mascarpone and ricotta mix on top and drizzle a teaspoon or tablespoon of honey over them (depending how sweet you like it!). Alternatively, smear the cheese on a slice of toast or some pancakes or dollop on waffles and arrange the nectarine slices on top and then drizzle with honey. We also sprinkled the tops with lightly toasted poppy seeds but almonds could work really well too!
We love pancakes and we eat a lot of them. So whenever we get together, like we did a few weeks ago in Venice for some sisterly catch-up, we make (and eat) pancakes.
Why make pancakes when you can get pancake mix and even already made and packed pancakes in most supermarkets? Because they are easy to make from scratch and from scratch means you can avoid that baking powder after-taste you get with some pancake mixes, and you can ensure quality control when it comes to all your ingredients. We’d say those are two pretty good reasons!
We used only egg yolks for this pancake recipe and it gave them such a decadent richness and a lovely yellow-gold hue.
Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 20 mins
1 cup self raising flour or if you can’t find self-raising, use 1 cup plain flour sifted with 1 tsp baking powder
1 cup fresh milk
2 egg yolks
2 tbsps sugar
2 tbsps rosewater
200g thick Greek yoghurt
1 tsp orange extract (if you don’t have orange extract, use 1 tbsp good quality orange juice)
the grated rind of 1 orange
3 cardamom pods (de-shelled and crushed finely and then put through a sieve)
1 tbsp honey (for mixing in) and more for pouring over the pancakes
Make the yoghurt topping first and pop it in the fridge while you make the pancakes. Mix the yoghurt with the orange extract/juice, the rind, the cardamom and honey. Add the honey last if you’re using juice instead of extract. This way if you’ve not managed to get a good thick yoghurt to start with, and your mixture looks like it’ll be too runny once you add the orange juice, you can just use the honey as a drizzle afterwards instead of mixing it in. Cover and set aside in the fridge.
For the pancakes, start by sifting the flour into a large bowl and then add the sugar and mix it all in. Then, make a well in the middle and pour in the milk, the rosewater and the two egg yolks. Whisk from the centre but don’t overbeat the batter. Lumps are fine. If you over-whisk, trying to break all the lumps, you’ll get a chewy consistency instead of a light and fluffy one.
Use a heavy bottomed pan or a griddle. If you only have a thin base pan, that’s fine, just use the first pancake as a tester to help you decide how to adjust the heat. Put the pan on medium heat and pour in some vegetable or sunflower oil. If you want to use butter, use clarified butter. Otherwise, the milk solids in regular butter will burn quickly. If you absolutely must use regular butter, that’s fine, just wipe the pan after each pancake to avoid burning.
Pour and cook one pancake at a time, as tempting as it might be to do more. This just helps you control the heat and ensures all the pancakes are cooked evenly (and unless you’re a juggler, believe us, you won’t be able to flip more than one pancake at once!) We like to transfer our batter to a jug and pour out from that, but you can also use a ladle. Pour out as much batter as you want (depending how large or small you want the pancakes) into the centre of the pan so it spreads out evenly.
You should only flip the pancakes (or turn them using a flat wide spatula) when you see bubbles forming across the batter in the pan. If your pan starts smoking, it means it’s too hot so lift it off the heat for a few seconds and let it cool down while you re-adjust the heat.
Once you’ve made all the pancakes, you can either sandwich them with the yoghurt mix in between two or even three stacked ones and top with more honey or serve the yoghurt on the side with more honey for drizzling on top.
The most important lesson we’ve learned about picnic cakes is that they need to be relatively mess and melt proof, and easy to pack. Cupcakes with a fuss-free icing are our definite picnic default. In fact, ganache in particular sets quickly, so most of the icing will still be on the cake when you get to your destination!
Prep Time: 20-25 mins Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Makes about 12 cupcakes
1 cup/ 225g softened butter (unsalted)
1 cup/225g caster sugar
1 1/2 cups/180g self-raising flour
1/2 cup/65g good cocoa powder
3 medium eggs
2 tbsps milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
70 g 90% cocoa chocolate (if you can only find 75% that’s fine too)
70g 40% cocoa chocolate
1/3 cup/ 100ml double cream
Set the oven to 150 deg c . Grease your bakeware. We don’t use wrappers for this cupcake beause we dunk the top of the cupcake into the ganache and it looks messy if there’s a wrapper (all the ganache gets stuck onto it). We use silicone bakeware and even then prefer to grease it, but very lightly. Then we place the bakeware on a baking tray, ready to fill when the batter is ready.
Sift the flour and the cocoa powder together and set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together until it’s pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate. If you notice some separation when you put in the third egg, don’t worry, just beat until it’s as incorporated as possible. Sometimes, if you happen to use slightly larger eggs this can happen. Add the vanilla extract. Once mixed in, add the flour and cocoa mix. Add half first and fold in and then add the other half and fold. Add the milk and gently mix in. Don’t beat it in as you want to be introducing air into the cake now.You want to be able to draw a number 8 through your batter with the back of your wooden spoon, and for the 8 to gradually fade. If it disappears immediately, it’s too watery, if it holds it’s shape and doesn’t start fading, it needs a little more milk.
Our aunt Rani is a fabulous baker and her tip is that you want to be able to draw a number 8 through your batter with the back of your wooden spoon, and for the 8 to gradually fade. If it disappears immediately, it’s too watery, add a bit more sifted flour (tablespoon by tablespoon to get the right consistency) if it holds it’s shape and doesn’t start fading, it needs a little more milk.
Fill the cupcake tin or cases until about 3/4 full. And then pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes and then rotate the tin or cases and bake another 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Rotating helps the tops of the cupcakes brown evenly.
Once done, set the tin or tray it on a wire rack to cool completely. Once they are cooled then make the ganache. Making it earlier will cause it to ‘set’ too much. Break up and melt the chocolate (both kinds) together in a bowl set over simmering water. Once melted, add the double cream and gently mix until well incorporated. (If the ganache sets halfway, just put the bowl over some boiling water so it loosens up again. Don’t pour any water in!)
Carefully pick up a cooled cupcake and dip the top of into the ganache. Make sure the whole top of the cake gets dunked in or you’ll get a patchy finish. As you lift it, twist clockwise, gently. This will prevent the ganache from dripping too much down the sides. We don’t mind the drip though, gives it a more home-made look! Repeat with all the cupcakes.
We used cake crumbs and chunks of chocolate to decorate but you can use anything really – chopped nuts, coloured sprinkles, chocolate buttons…then pack it carefully in a cake tin , box or tupperware for your picnic!