Eating out in Camden Market

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It’s not all about cooking for me! Today we are in Camden Market looking for outfits and rings for our wedding in five weeks time.

This food is from inSpiral – the vegetarian restaurant/cafe that overlooks Camden Lock. They specialise in Vegan food and a lot of it is raw.

We have a raw burger on a bed of pickled butternut squash, a trio of salads and some tamari covered seeds. We also had some kale chips/crisps which were really yummy.

These have all inspired me to try and make these sometime soon!

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Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

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First rule of cooking things from a recipe book is to remember not to leave the cookery book on your desk at work! Oh well. Hemsley Hemsley will have to wait until tomorrow.

Another impromptu dish then is this Chickpea and Sweet Potato stew which I’ve grabbed from the ladies at Honestly Healthy. This is from their first book and I chose it because I already had all the ingredients in the cupboard (apart from the aubergine which I popped out and bought).

This is a pretty basic stew. And it kind of looks after itself once you’ve done all the prep.

Quite simply this is sliced red onion and garlic softened, with some diced sweet potato, quartered vine tomatoes and a little water which you cook for a while until it starts to break down and the sauce starts to thicken. Oh – during this stage you also add some cumin, cayenne, a red chilli and some bay leaves.

You then add a couple of tins of chick peas, some diced aubergine, some more water and let it cook for around 30 minutes.

At the recipe’s suggestion – and because I quite fancied having enough leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, I cooked some brown rice to accompany the stew.

Once your stew is ready, stir in some chopped coriander and serve with the rice.

We quite liked this although it did feel like it was missing something. That something was something unhealthy (obviously) because when you look at the ingredients this couldn’t be any lower in fat. I tasted like a low fat meal.

Also, don’t eat low fat food when you are watching 22 contestants making desserts on Australian Masterchef. You’re just going to feel like you’re missing out on something!.

The ‘Perfect’ Omelette

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The Perfect Omelette

I always raise my eyebrows to recipes that say – the perfect this or the best that. You are already setting yourself up for disappointment – because invariably they aren’t perfect or the best.

And what does perfect mean? Is it the author’s perfect omelette? Perfect to me means flipped on both sides rather than folded – and with cheese and chilli. For the author I imagine it means this is the perfectly balanced and healthy omelette to have for breakfast to start the day given that this omelette comes courtesy of Honestly Healthy for Life.

It’s very simple and very very tasty.

We’re usually very lax at breakfast time and either don’t bother having any – or grab a slice of toast at work. But we’ve noticed we don’t feel great when we snack on bread so we thought we’d try this instead.

It’s not obvious from the picture – but this is a two egg omelette which had quite a bit of parsley chopped into the egg. While it is frying in the pan you add some chopped tomato and mushroom (which you’ve previously cooked for a few minutes). You put the filling on one side of the omelette then top with fresh spinach and red chilli (if you want), then fold, cook for a short while and then flip.

You think the spinach won’t fit inside the omelette – and it doesn’t to start with – but it soon wilts – and when you fold it it all fits in nicely.

I thought my perfect omelette was a three egg, mint, pea and feta omelette – but this one really does come close. It was fantastic. And it is clearly more healthy than the one I usually make!

Herby Omelette Thingies

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Funny name for this granted – its kind of an omelette, kind of a frittata.

I knocked this up on Monday when Freya said she was hungry and it was way too late to eat. The cupboards were pretty bare but I knew I had the ingredients for this and it was very quick and easy to make.

I’m not convinced the recipe in the book is the smartest way to make this. Basically, you fry some herbs in butter/oil and after a short while you pour a batter of eggs, flour and baking powder over the top and cook on low for 10 mins until the eggs set.

The problem with this is the herbs will burn. They get trapped under the eggs – get all the direct heat and lose all their flavour and don’t look at all appetising. The herbs lost a lot of their flavour too.

The picture I’ve taken with this was my take on the same dish. I can’t see the point of frying fresh herbs – so I make the recipe differently as follows:

  • Crack 3 eggs into a Magimix
  • Chop a bunch of mint into a Magimix
  • Add a cup of frozen peas into a Magimix
  • Add 10ml Plain flour and 1/2 tsp baking powder to a Magimix
  • Season
  • Turn on the Magimix for 5 seconds
  • Pour the omelette mixture into a medium heated pan
  • Cook on a low heat for 10 mins
  • Either flip it and cook for a couple of minutes more – or slide under a grill
  • Serve

That was a much better solution as the herbs retained their flavour and nothing looked burnt.

For added awesomeness – add cubes feta cheese – that really does make an awesome snack.

Tomato, Fennel and Arak Soup

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Gee it seems like ages since I made anything. But it has only been a couple of days.

We’ve been under a lot of pressure to get the boat finished and have basically been eating shop bought dips and cheese and bread for 5 days while we put in lots of hours sanding and painting – desperately trying to get it finished before we move it next Saturday.

That said – there were some ingredients in the fridge that needed using up – and there were still three recipes left to make from Veggiestan – so I made this.

Just in case you’re wondering, Arak is an anise-flavored distilled alcoholic beverage traditional to Lebanon, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. Ouzo, Pernod, Rakir are acceptable substitutes. I have Rakir and Pernod – but for my soup I used Pernod as I figured it had more of an aniseed taste.

I don’t usually make soups – especially when the weather in the UK has been pretty good and salad inducing. I leave soups to my mother-in-law. She has a Thermomix (which I bought her a year ago) and this makes amazing soup with next to no mess – so generally soups are left to her. This one caught my eye simply because it contained alcohol.

It’s trivial to make this. Chop some red peppers, fennel, tomatoes, onions, garlic and soften. Add some stock, spices and alcohol and simmer until it’s done.

This is really chunky and really tasty. Fennel is an amazing vegetable and people just don’t use it enough. I stirred in some creme fraiche at the end and I think it spoiled it a bit – so the second bowl I left it out and it was much better.

The ingredients for this recipe are often left over after a weeks cooking – so I think I’d probably contemplate making this each time – it took less than an hour – and I imagine it’ll keep quite well. It might even be good cold as a kind of Gazpacho.

Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with a Caper Vinagrette

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We were in a rush to cook something quickly before going Rock’n’Roll dancing and I realised when we got home that I was pretty much one ingredient short on almost all the recipes I wanted to make.

Fortunately I had all the ingredients for this – Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes.

Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to make it – so I had a choice – go dancing and not eat – or eat and not go dancing. Dancing won the day ! And it’s good we went everything seemed to fall into place and we started getting the moves right. Superwoman’s, flat hand pushes, and ‘the ladies rest’ all seemed to come together beautifully. Happy days. Now we have three moves – the sky’s the limit!

We got home around 11pm and I resumed the cooking – and finished it this morning – so we’re having it for lunch today.

Essentially you roast some parsnips, red onions and sweet potatoes in garlic, rosemary and thyme and towards the end throw in some cherry tomatoes. After a 90 minutes roast (from start to finish) you dress the roasted vegetables in lemon juice, olive oil and capers. It’s very easy – just takes time in the oven. Even the prep is easy as you don’t even need to peel the vegetables!

If you were a roast dinners kind of person this would be a very nice twist on some otherwise plainly roasted vegetables. I think it is a great dish in its own right – the lemon juice and capers really brings a whole new flavour to the vegetables.

You really can’t go wrong with Ottolenghi.

Veggiestan Waldorf Salad

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When I read this recipe in Veggiestan I thought ‘hmm, might be a bit boring’. How wrong could I be.

This is a very exciting take on a Waldorf Salad and would make the perfect side to anything from fish to chicken to Halloumi – I could go on.

We both thought that it could be made into a perfect main with the simple addition of some bread (maybe pitta or garlicky croutons) and some cheese (maybe shaved parmesan – or Freya’s preference Stilton).

I like this kind of dish on a work day because you can take all the ingredients to work in their raw state and just prepare it when you want to eat.

There’s nothing worse than preparing a salad in the morning, popping it in some Tuppaware and then seeing it degrade before you get to eat it. You can prevent this somewhat by keeping the dressing separate but as soon as you start cutting apples or such-like they will lose their colour – so it’s best you just do it when you want it.

A traditional Waldorf salad is made from fresh apples, celery and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce. This dish differs slightly with the addition or raisins, chopped coriander and chopped mint, green pepper and onions. Also there is no mayonaisse. The dressing is made from yoghurt, oil, saffron, seasioning and cider vinegar.

I used some really colourful little gem lettuces (with nice purple tinges), and red onion in my version to make it look less green.

I love this. It packs a punch and has lots of different textures and flavours running through it. It’s a great salad – and it’s made with ingredients I usually have knocking about. I’ll never make a traditional Waldorf again.