New Year – New Books

Two cookery books have landed on my doorstep since new year.

  • Honestly Healthy Cleanse – by Natasha Corrett
  • River Cottage – Nice and Easy – by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

as well as the prospect of receiving Ella Woodwards – Deliciously Ella at the end of the month.

These books have similar goals – they just approach them differently. They all want you to cut down on acid forming foods that make you bloated – and there’s a general feeling that if you cook from the books and exercise a bit then you’ll probably lose some weight along the way.

Natasha Corrett continues on from her other two Honestly Healthy books with what is essentially New Year detoxes. The book is beautiful. There’s lots of ‘science’ at the beginning of the book and the recipes look amazing. Natasha’s book will probably not be for everyone as she uses ingredients you simply can’t pick up in your local supermarket. Ocado have recently started adding many of these specialist ingredients – but you just aren’t going to find Tamari or Spirulina powder in a Morrisons.

With the purchase of her previous two books I remember spending an absolute fortune on things I’d never heard of on sites such as souschef.co.uk and amazon grocery. I shortlisted 20 dishes from this book (which I’ll make once I get paid!) but I’ll have to wait until I can afford to make them. There’s a definite sense that you need to plan a weeks worth of Honestly Healthy dishes just so you don’t end up having loads of expensive ingredients sat in your cupboards. Granted I made a lot of recipes from the previous two books and I’ll probably do the same this time too – but this book might just end up sat on a lot of people’s shelves.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s book on the other hand takes ingredients that you’ll find absolutely anywhere and turns them into something special and healthy. He focuses very much on cutting out wheat and dairy – and there is a definite focus of vegetarian food – continuing on from his previous book ‘Veg’. He doesn’t bang on about cutting out meat and fish – he just uses them a lot less than he used to. Granted he encourages you to use the best tomatoes, carrots etc, but he pitches his wares to the everyday cook and I think most people buying this book will make at least half a dozen of the dishes. I’ve shortlisted over 30 already and I know they will all get made.

I don’t know what’s in store with Ella’s book yet – as it hasn’t been released – but from what is hinted at in the Daily Mail’s weekend supplement this week, the recipes will also be pitched at the everyday cook. I’m looking forward to this book as the previewed recipes are very low in fat – so I’ll be interested to see how this affects the taste. In my experience you do sacrifice taste when you take out the fat. The Quick Chilli I made on Monday was testament to this. It was nice – it just didn’t pack the punch of some other chillis I’ve made.

The next two weeks should see me posting some of Hugh’s dishes. Already shortlisted are:

  • Sweet Potato Rosti
  • Chickpeas Salas with Avocado Mayo
  • Quinoa and Gooseberry Tabbouleh
  • Beetroot Burgers
  • Puy Lentils with Brussels Sprouts
  • Baked Onions with Savoury Porridge
  • Parsley, Anchovy and Walnut Pesto with Cannelini Beans and Kos Lettuce
  • and many others

Watch this space.

Carrot and Mung Bean Salad

Carrot, Feta and Mung Bean Salad

 

Another dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, I made this last night after we’d already had our evening snack of halloumi wraps.

We eat out at lunchtime way too often for my liking and every time it costs us over £10. It soon adds up – and it eats into the day. It’s rare that we can go out for lunch in less than an hour. Worse than that we never eat healthily at lunchtime. Fast-ish food is never that going to be healthy in Hatfield.

I knocked this up pretty quickly (maybe 35 minutes) whilst watching the new David Attenborough series ‘Life Story’. You have to see it – it’s shot in 4K – gorgeous photography!

Anyway, this recipe is quite easy – finding dried mung beans is the hardest bit. I found mine in a turkish supermarket. I’ve since been assured that many indian shops stock them.

Cook some mung beans in water until they are done but still have some bite. While they are simmering away, cook some carrot batons in very little water with a little sugar and salt.

When both the mung beans and the carrots are nearly done, fry some fennel seeds, caraway seeds and cumin seeds in a little olive oil until they pop.

Drain the mung beans, add the popped seeds and toss together with some garlic, white wine vinegar and chilli flakes. Let is cool down.

Finally, add the carrots, chopped coriander, lemon zest and diced feta and gently toss together with a little more olive oil.

This really is a tasty dish and one I will be making often. It’s very filling, has many textures and is very colourful. Leaving it overnight to allow the garlic and vinegar to soak into the beans makes all the difference.

Ottolenghi strike again. I’m really looking forward to making ‘Red Onions with Walnut Salsa’ on Thursday when I cook again.

Tuesday’s is now ‘Free Sausage and Mash’ with a pint night in the ‘Horse and Groom’ in Old Hatfield. You really can’t turn that down ! We had it last week and the sausages were excellent – coming a close second to the amazing gravy that covered them !

Fregola and Artichoke Pilaf

Fregola and Artichoke Pilaf

Artichokes twice in a week. And why not!

This is another great recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More.

Now I’ve made everything I set out to make from the first 100 pages of the book. Today I looked at the next 75 pages and have already earmarked another 15 dishes. This is one seriously good book.

Since buying this book I’ve bought many more but it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting to them anytime soon as this book is so so good. Even pouring loads of vinagrette over the book by accident hasn’t reduced by excitement. If only I had PDF’d it sooner – then it would have just been an iPad that needed to be wiped clean!

Ottolenghi says in his book that this isn’t as exciting in appearance as most of his dishes. I disagree. It looks great. More importantly it tastes fantastic and is pretty easy to make providing you have all the ingredients.

Fregola isn’t something you just find on the shelves of every supermarket. I ended up ordering mine from Amazon as Ocado were out of stock.

Fregola is essentially Giant Couscous. It comes in many guises:

– Iranian Couscous
– Moghrabieh
– Giant Couscous

They are all essentially the same although moghrabieh is quite a bit larger than fregola and does take more time to cook.

Anyway, back to the recipe.

This dish is made all the better with the garnish of a green chilli pesto which you drizzle over the top when you’re ready to eat.

The pesto is simply some green chilli, olive oil, preserved lemon, parsley and garlic all blitzed together until almost smooth. My trusty Nutribullet came into action again and did a great job.

The Pilaf is very easy to make too – and doesn’t take that long.

Caramelise some onions and then add some butter, the fregola, artichokes and stock and cook until the fregola has absorbed all the liquid.

Stir in some torn Kalamata olives, toasted flaked almonds, red wine vinegar and chopped parsley and you’re done.

I can’t praise this dish enough. I could eat this everyday. It is very tasty and really hits the spot – and is very filling.

It keeps well too – in fact it tasted better the next day when we reheated it for lunch at work. I guess all those flavours just infused even more into the fregola!

Sort of Waldorf Salad

Sort of Waldorf SaladNeither of us really fancied dinner this evening; both having eaten out for lunch at work – but we always need lunch! So I knocked this up for tomorrow’s lunch.

A traditional waldorf has apples, celery and walnuts dressed in mayonnaise on a bed of lettuce.

This recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More swaps walnuts for hazelnuts and there is the addition of red cabbage, red onion and sour cherries (I used barberries which are pretty similar).

This is pretty easy – and pretty quick – I think it took a little more than 30 minutes – but only because you have to toast the hazelnuts gently for around that long alone.

Mind you while they are toasting you can easily do the rest.

Finely slice red cabbage, red onion, apples (granny smiths), celery and toss together with some dill and sour cream.

Then make some mayonnaise. I did mine in my new Nutribullet blender (this little beast will blitz anything to a perfect puree). The mayonnaise is made with a shallot, dijon mustard, cider vinegar and a mix of sunflower and rapeseed oil. And it was amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever buy mayonnaise again.

Mix the mayonnaise with the salad, scatter with your roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts and you’re done.

I think this salad is amazing and might be nice with something on the side – or even in a wrap with some Halloumi. I do love my salads though and I could eat tonnes of it on its own.

Brussel’s Sprout Risotto

Brussels Sprout Risotto

I’ve made this twice now. And I know I will just keep making it. It’s quick, easy, tasty and I always have the ingredients to hand. On top of that it makes lots so there are always leftovers for work the next day!

Tell someone you are making Brussels Sprout Risotto and they are sure to turn their nose up at you. Freya’s brother did. I could see his mind whirring at how he needed an excuse to leave so he could pop into McDonalds and get some real food! But trust me this is worth it.

The Brussels that Ottolenghi has in the pictures in Plenty More look stunning. Straight off the stalks with lots of purples and dark green colours running through them. I had to settle for the boring light green pretrimmed variety from the supermarket. I’ll try and hunt down the colourful ones nearer Christmas; I think the dish will look super special with more vibrant colours.

You make the risotto by frying some onions in butter and oil and then adding lemon, garlic and thyme. While that is caramelising, shred your Brussel Sprouts.

I must admit I made it wrong this time. You’re supposed to shred about half the sprouts and quarter the other half but I wasn’t paying too much attention and added all the sprouts and the rice to the onions at this stage.

The idea is you pan fry the quartered Brussel Sprouts in hot oil until they are golden and crispy and add them as a topping at the end. I’ll try and remember this for next time!

You now make the risotto as you would any other risotto; add wine and let it absorb and then gradually add stock while stirring often. When the stock is all used up the rice should be cooked but still have some bite.

Right at the end add Parmesan, Dolcelatte, tarragon and some grated lemon zest. if you followed the recipe properly, add the pan fried Brussels on top and serve.

It’s just as good with all the Brussels incorporated it just doesn’t look as striking – and it removed a crunchy texture that could have made the dish even more special.

This risotto is so creamy and is really tasty – especially with the additional lemon zest that I added.

There was so much of this left over that we had it for lunch the next day. I don’t think we were especially popular in the office later that day. Two Brussel’s Sprout meals in a row!

Beetroot, Avocado and Pea Salad

Beetroot, Pea and Avocado Salad

One of the big problems of winter and living on the boat is taking nice pictures of the food you make. Now that the clocks have changed it will always be dark by dinner time and we only light the kitchen and lounge with LED reading lamps so most of the pictures look dark and shadowy. Also, I’ve stopped using my iPhone and have switched to Android and I really don’t like the camera, so now  I’ve switched to my Lumix. More effort but hopefully more worthwhile.

This one didn’t come out particularly well but I can assure you the salad itself was amazing. It’s another sub 30 minute salad proving you do things in the right order and don’t stand around waiting between stages.

This dish like everything this week is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. I’ve only looked at the first 100 pages and I’ve already selected 12 things I want to make. I could be on this book for quite some time!

This is another incredibly easy salad to make. It is a little messy; peeling beetroots always is – but they are a lot better than the peeled, precooked and prepackaged ones you get in a supermarket.

Once you’ve peeled your beetroots, slice them thinly (about 2mm) and blanch them until they are cooked but still have lots of bite. I did mine for about 3 mins as I love raw beetroot anyway. The thinner you slice the beetroot, the easier it is to eat raw (or less cooked)!

Once blanched and drained, mix with some sliced red onion, sherry vinegar, olive oil, caster sugar, seasoning and chilli paste and leave for around 15 minutes to infuse the flavours.

While you’re waiting blanch some peas and refresh them in cold water. Slice a couple of avocado’s too while you’re at it.

When you are ready to eat, grab a big serving dish, and toss pea shoots (or lambs lettuce like I did), the peas, the beetroot and the avocado together. Tear in some mint and coriander and dress with some more olive oil and you’re done.

This is very fresh and very tasty. Proper beetroots can’t be beaten – never buy the packet ones!

I resisted the temptation to use one of my crazy chilli pastes and just went for something mild. I don’t think Freya would have appreciated it and I imagine an overpowering of chilli would have totally spoiled the dish – so go easy on the chilli!