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!
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!
Another dessert in honour of our Singaporean national colours – red and white. We packed some of these up for friends, also missing home here in London, as a wee National Day treat. The great thing about individual portions is that you can eat the cake yourself before anyone else does without having to cut out a slice, which you just can’t do if you’re taking the cake to someone’s house for a party or giving it away as a gift.
Prep: 20 minutes + 15 minutes after baking Cook time: 20-25 mins
200 g softened butter
200 g sugar
250g self raising flour (or plain flour with a tsp of baking powder)
1 tsp vanilla extract
strawberry or raspberry jam
100ml double cream, cold
Turn the oven on to 150 deg c. Line a cupcake or muffin tin or grease with some butter and set aside.
Beat the butter with some sugar until it turns pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure they mix in well. Now, add the vanilla extract and mix well. Sieve the flour to introduce more air into it and then fold it into the batter. Fold gently and avoid any hard mixing at this stage.
Fill each muffin cup to 3/4 full and place in the oven. After 12 minutes, or when you see the cakes starting to turn a more golden colour, turn the tray 180 degrees so the cakes brown evenly. Leave it in for another 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean.
While the cakes are baking, pour the cold cream into a mixer and beat till it forms peaks. Careful not to over-beat or it will start to look lumpy and separate. Fold in 2 tbsps of sifted icing sugar.
Once the cakes are ready, put them on a rack to cool completely. Using a sharp knife, slice the cakes in half horizontally so you can make a sandwich. On one cut half, cut side up, plop a dollop of cream in the middle and spread very lightly (not all the way to the edge as that will happen automatically when you press the top part of the cake down on top of the cream). On the other half of the cake, cut side up, dollop some jam and again, spread very lightly. Now carefully bring both halves together so that the cream and jam are sandwiched in the middle. Make sure the cake is completely cooled so the jam and cream don’t melt in the middle and start dripping out.
We placed a star-shaped cutter (Singapore’s flag has 5 stars on it) on top of the cake before dusting over icing sugar with a sieve but you can just sieve directly over the cake or use any shaped cutter you like!
We packed them up in some nice red and white tissue and tied it all up with some brown string, but only after we stuffed our own faces with a couple of these delicious little poppers!
Next in the rose series is a dusky rose meringue with a gorgeous golden apricot compote. Meringue is not as difficult to make as it’s sometimes made out to be. The key thing is just allowing it to cool completely before taking it out of the oven, overnight even if you can afford the time.
The rose flavour suits meringue beautifully, mixing in with the sugar to create a really sweet and romantic smell. The apricot compote also means you can skip the cream with this meringue recipe, the compote keeps the dessert from being dry but is also light enough to serve after a heavy meal.
We’ve taken Nigella Lawson’s chocolate meringue recipe and modified it. Why totally re-invent the wheel when there’s already an excellent recipe to draw from!
Serves 8 (larger portions) and 10 (smaller portions)
Prep time: 20-25 minutes Cooking time: 1hr 20 mins Rest time: At least 3 hrs
6 large egg whites
300 g caster sugar
2 tbsp rose water
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
60g caster sugar
1 tbsp rose water
Caramelised apricots (for topping):
3 large apricots or 5 small ones, sliced
1 tbsp butter
4 tbsp caster sugar
Splash of orange juice
Turn the oven on to 180 degrees celsius and line a baking tray with baking paper. We used a rectangular one as that’s all we had, you can use whatever you have!
Start with the topping first. So, on another baking tray, lay out the apricots you’ve sliced up for the caramelised apricot topping. Put aside for a few minutes. Next, put a pan on medium heat and let it get hot, add the butter and when it melts, add in the sugar and allow it to caramelise. Add the orange juice and stir well. Pour this over the apricots in the tray and toss and then pop in the oven for 8 minutes or until you get a lovely browning on the apricot. Set aside.
For the meringue now, beat the egg whites until they form smooth peaks. Now, add the sugar one tablespoon at a time and keep beating until the mix is stiff and satiny. Now add the rose water, one tablespoon at a time and then the vinegar. Gently scoop up the pillowy mixture and mound it in a circle onto the baking sheet. Once you’ve piled everything up, smooth the sides and top down.
Put it in the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 150 degrees celsius. Bake for 1 to 1hour and 15 minutes or until the top and edges are properly crisp and dry but when you gently push it, you should feel it’s still soft inside. Turn the oven off and leave the door open for the meringue to cool completely.
For the compote, put a pot on medium heat. Pour in the water, add the sugar and allow it to dissolve. Add the chopped up apricots and cook over a gentle heat until it is soft and starts to look like it’s of jam consistency. Add the rosewater and stir it in. If you prefer it chunkier, that’s fine too, just cook for less time, till you get the consistency you want. if you end up with tart apricots, you might want to add more sugar. You can do this after you get the consistency you want, just taste and add accordingly, mix it in well and allow it to dissolve over low heat.
Once you’re ready to serve, carefully peel the meringue off the baking paper and spoon the compote over. Place the caramelised apricots on the top, browned side up and for a bit of a burst of colour, sprinkle some crushed pistachios over it.
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.