5 a day Delicious Green juice – Kale, Courgette and Apple

I always find around this time of year, that Winter really begins to take its toll. I long for some sunshine. Any hint of a tan from last summer is gone and my skin is dry from all the central heating and returned to a blueish shade of white. I seem to have had a cold for weeks and I am permanently tired. Now is the time to really look at your diet and make sure that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.

Up until last week I was concerned enough about getting my 5 a day, and now they have only gone and upped the ante and announced that we should now really be looking at getting 10 a day if we want to see the health results in terms of decreased chance of getting heart decease, stroke and cancer.   Well panic not – a green juice that not only probably provides half of your 10 a day but tastes really nice to!

However, this requires a proper juicer. Not a Nutribullet. Nutribullets are nothing more than small, upside down liquidisers and although the juices they produce are undoubtedly better for you, being much higher is fiber, they are all disgusting. Green sludge that would put anyone of juicing for life. Get a proper juicer and you won’t look back!

5 a day Delicious Green juice – Kale, Courgette and Apple

Feel free to play around with the recipe – substitute apples for pears, add a celery stick or a squeeze of lime. If you keep your veg and fruit in the fridge before making, your juice will be cold when you drink it, which is always nicer I think.

Large handful Kale

3 apples, quartered

1 large courgette, cut into chunks

Juice the kale first followed by the courgette and apple. Drink straight away.

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Pancakes Stuffed with Swiss Chard and Ricotta

I make my kids pancakes pretty much every day for breakfast. I make up a large batch of mix and keep it in the fridge so that I can make them in minutes in the morning before school. So I was a bit taken aback by the amount of fuss they made because I had forgotten pancake day! So, without any more delay here is a savoury recipe which will help you use up your veg box as well as, hopefully, keeping the kids quiet. This filling is based on the ravioli fillings that we used to make at The River Café. Luckily pancakes are a lot easier, less fiddly and quicker to make than Ravioli. You can use any leafy greens in place of the chard and if you want to re-heat them, then sprinkle the pancakes with parmesan and heat them through in the oven.

Pancakes Stuffed with Swiss Chard and Ricotta

½ pt milk

1 egg

4oz Flour

 

1 head Swiss Chard

1 onion

1 large clove garlic

Large knob of butter

Lemon zest

250g ricotta

Large handful of freshly grated parmesan

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put a pan of salted water on to boil.

Make pancakes. Add the whisked egg to the milk and gradually add to the flour in a large bowl. Use a folk to slowly incorporate the flour. When you have added half the milk, whisk the batter to remove any lumps, before adding the remaining milk.

Strip the leaves from the chard. Cut up the stalks quite finely. Chop the onion finely. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the onion. Cook gently for about 10 minutes without any colour. Meanwhile cook the leaves in the boiling water for about 3 minutes. Remove and spread out on a clean tea towel. Add the stalks to the water and again cook for a few minutes. Drain. When the chard is cool enough to handle, use the tea towel to squeeze out any extra water. Roughly chop the chard. Add the chard stalks and the chard to the onion and fry gently for a few minutes. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before stirring in the ricotta, the parmesan and the lemon zest. Adjust seasoning to taste. Keep warm.

Cook the pancakes in a large non-stick frying pan. Add a small knob of butter each time.  Cook until golden brown each side. When your pancakes are cooked, fill them with your chard mixture and serve immediately. Any pancake batter left over can be kept in the fridge for a few days and used as you need it.

Wet Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

I always forget about polenta, which is a shame, because I love it. It is the ultimate comfort food, like savoury porridge. If you have had it before and found it a bit bland, it is because you did not add enough of two very important ingredients – a large knob of butter and a generous handful of parmesan. You can have it grilled or baked but I prefer classic “wet polenta” topped with lots of lovely sautéed seasonal vegetables.

Most polenta you buy now is instant (precooked) and will be done in a minute but it is worth looking out for the king of polentas – Bramata which will take nearer 20 minutes to cook, but it is worth it!

Wet Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms and Kale

8 mushrooms, sliced

Large handful of Kale, stripped from the stalks

Extra virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

For the Polenta

750ml water

200g polenta

50g unsalted butter

50g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large heavy bottomed saucepan and fry the mushrooms in plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper. Keep cooking – the mushrooms will sweat and then started to fry and then turn golden brown.

Strip the kale from its stems and put a pan of salted water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the kale and cook for 2 minutes or so before removing the leaves with a slotted spoon. Lay out the leaves to cool on a clean, dry tea towel. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out any excess water and roughly chop the kale Add another glug of oil to the mushrooms and add the garlic slithers and cook until light golden brown. Add the kale and a little salt. Stir well to break up the kale and remove from the heat. Check for seasoning.

For the polenta, bring the water to a simmer, add salt, whisk in the polenta and cook, stirring, on a low heat for 10 minutes or until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan. Add the butter and cheese and stir vigorously. Pour onto a plate and top with the mushrooms and kale.

Omelette Stuffed with Sautéed Spring Greens

It is January and I have taken a little longer away from this blog than usual. I hope that I haven’t left you lost for ideas for what to do with all your January vegetables but I doubt it, because this is the time of year when everyone jumps on the bandwagon of healthy eating and all the food magazines are packed with vegetable recipes. I always find it quite irritating that they all go mental for vegetables for one month of the year, before they move on to the next thing, where as I and obviously you, are focusing on vegetables all year round and not just for January.

Anyway it was whilst flicking through one of those many magazines that I got to thinking about omelettes. Not just any omelettes but ones stuffed full of greens. And when my box turned up with a large bunch of spring greens, I set straight to work to see how it worked out.

Being a trained chef, omelette is a word which conjures up many memories. The cooking of your omelettes had to be a work of art and I can still hear head chefs scolding me for over-mixing or overcooking the eggs or getting even the faintest hint of brown on the outside. We were not allowed to use any cooking implement, you had to make the whole thing by shaking the pan. Nowadays I allow myself to relax a little and so I have to admit I really enjoyed making, and eating this omelette.

Omelette Stuffed with Sautéed Spring Greens

For one omelette

3 eggs

A knob of butter

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g spring greens, shredded and washed

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. double cream

In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat the olive oil. Add the drained greens and sauté. The moisture left on the greens from washing will help steam the greens as you sauté them. Season with salt and pepper and stir until just wilted and tender. Stir in the cream and remove from the heat.

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Beat well with a fork. Heat a small knob of butter in a small frying pan on a low heat, and once melted and foaming, add the eggs and move the pan around to spread them out evenly. Using a spatula or palette knife, stir the eggs until almost set. Then leave still for a minute. Remove from the heat and pile the spring greens onto the omelette. Using a spatula or palette knife, ease around the edges of the omelette, then fold it over in half and slide on to a plate.

Braised Cime di Rapa with Cannellini Beans and Garlic

There are certain vegetables and herbs which are still quite hard to find in England and Riverford have a few of my favourites at the moment. The Cime di Rapa season has just started, which means that although there are no baby heads of broccoli attached as yet, being early, it means that the stalks are still so tender that you can eat it all. No need to strip the leaves from the stalks, just roughly chop the whole thing.

I know being a lesser found vegetable, people are often at a bit of a loss as what to do with it. Follow the link for more information from the blog I wrote on Cime di Rapa last year.

braised-cime-di-rapa

There I have made a recipe with pasta, but today I am giving you another equally delicious and easy one – Braised Cime di Rapa with Cannellini Beans and Garlic. This is lovely on its own, or served up alongside some grilled lamb or a piece of fish. You could add an anchovy to the garlic when frying, if you are an anchovy person. It adds a lovely depth of flavour. Or maybe a pinch of dried chilli to add a little heat.

braised-cima-di-rapa-with-canellini-beans-and-garlic-2

Braised Cime di Rapa with Cannellini Beans and Garlic

300g cime di rapa

Malden salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and very finely sliced

1 tin of cannellini beans

Pick through the cime de rapa and discard any really large, tough outer leaves. Cut off and discard the tough stalks. Keep the sprouting heads, any tender stalks and leaves. Wash the heads and leaves careful. Roughly chop. Blanch for 5 minutes in boiling, salted water. Drain and lay out to dry. Squeeze out any excess water. Drain the beans.

In a heavy-bottomed pan heat a generous glug of olive oil and add the garlic slices. As the garlic is turning light golden in colour, add the blanched cime di rapa and toss for a minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Add the beans and stir through until hot.

cime-di-rapa

Braised Spinach and Cannellini Beans

Sad to get back from holiday but lovely to get home to a lovely box of fresh vegetables. It is such a great time of year for produce, it really is a pleasure cooking and not the chore that I have to admit, it sometimes does feel.  First up, I knocked up a really quick and easy recipe of Braised Spinach and Cannellini Beans. You can use any mixture of greens you like from mustard greens to kale to Cavalo Nero, but if you are not only using spinach and your greens are tougher, you will have to blanch them first in boiling water for about three minutes. Then drain and when cool, squeeze out the excess water before adding to the garlic oil. I decided, rather decadently, to add a little cream during cooking, as it goes so well with spinach and cannellini beans alike. You could serve this pilled on to a piece of Bruschetta or equally delicious, alongside a grilled lamb chop or a piece of roast fish. Adapt your herbs, depending on what you are serving it with. An anchovy might be nice too!

Braised Spinach and Cannellini Beans 1

Braised Spinach and Cannellini Beans

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1 large bunch greens (such as spinach, mustard greens, kale, or Cavalo Nero) thick stems removed, spinach left whole, other greens cut into 1-inch strips and blanched first

1 can cannellini or haricot beans drained

2 teaspoons of very finely chopped rosemary

100mls double cream

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large heavy bottomed saucepan, over a medium heat. Add the garlic and dried crushed pepper; stir until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute. Add the spinach by large handfuls and stir just until beginning to wilt before adding more, tossing with tongs to coat with oil. Add a good pinch of salt and any blanched, drained greens you might have. Remove the greens with a slotted spoon and gently squeeze any juices back into the saucepan. Add the beans and the rosemary, the cream and a little salt and pepper. Reduce down until you have a creamy consistency. Add the greens back and stir well. Allow to boil for a minute or two. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve warm.

Braised Spinach

Coconut and Spinach Channa Dal

I wonder sometimes that my recipes are getting too long and that you may be too pushed for time to give them a go, so this week I am going to keep it simple. First up a really delicious Coconut and Spinach Channa Dal. Although it takes an hour or so for the chickpeas to cook, the prep time is minimal and the result super satisfying.

Coconut and Spinach Channa Dal 2

Coconut and Spinach Channa Dal

You do not have to use chickpeas (Channa). If you prefer you could make Moong Dal (split yellow lentils), Toor Dal (yellow pigeon peas), Masoor Dal (red lentils), Urad Dal (split black lentils) or Mung Dal (mung beans).  You could cook this in the slow-cooker.

1 cup (235g) yellow split peas (Channa Dal)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 large knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

2 large handfuls of spinach, stem and main veins removed

½ tin of coconut milk

4 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and the onion. Fry gently for about 10 minutes until just beginning to caramelise and add the ginger. Cook for a minute more. Add the spices and briefly fry. Add the channa and about 3 cups (600mls) water and salt and bring to the boil.  Cover and cook very slowly on the stove top for an hour or so. I like my dal to have a little texture but it is up to you. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the spinach and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and spread out on to a clean dry tea towel to quickly cool. When cool, use the tea towel to squeeze out the excess water and roughly chop the spinach. When the chickpeas are cooked to your liking, add a couple of tablespoons of the creamiest part of the coconut milk and the spinach. Stir well and adjust seasoning. Add the freshly chopped coriander.

In a little saucepan put the last tablespoon of coconut oil and add the garlic slithers. Heat over a medium heat until the garlic is golden brown.  Remove immediately and spoon straight over the dal.  Do not leave the garlic in the saucepan for long as it will carry on cooking and may burn.

Coconut and Spinach Channa Dal

Pizza Fiorentina

Of all the meals I make my family, home-made pizza night is their favourite. I have got it down to quite fine art. The most important thing is to give your pizza dough a good hour to prove and make sure your oven is hot enough. Turn it up full heat and place a baking tray or pizza stone inside to get hot to transfer the pizza straight onto. I barbeque with a pizza stone is great as it can get much hotter than a conventional oven. You will also need a baking sheet or a pizza peel to transfer your pizza directly onto the hot tray or stone in the oven. Other than that, it is simple. All you have left to do is come up with your favourite toppings. Here’s a start. A classic Pizza Fiorentina. A fabulous way of using up the spinach in your veg box.

Pizza Fiorentina 1

Pizza Fiorentina

You can make up the pizza dough and once it have proved, knock it back and freeze it in individual portions. Take them out the freezer a couple of hours before you need them. Personally I make the whole dough, and need it in the magimix, but here is the proper method.

Pizza dough

500g strong white bread flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 x 7 g dried yeast sachet

1 tablespoon golden caster sugar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

325 ml lukewarm water

Sieve the flour and salt on to a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or an oiled piece of clingfilmand place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas – this amount of dough is enough to make about three or four medium pizzas.

Pizza Fiorentina 2

Toppings

300g bag of baby spinach

Mozarella (the cheap blocks actually make better pizza, If you want to use better quality bufala mozzarella then make sure you let it drain well before using, otherwise your pizza will be too wet) Cut into small cubes. Never use ready grated mozzarella.

Passata (I use Pizza Express but any good quality passata will do)

Garlic oil (made by whizzing up some peeled garlic cloves and some extra virgin olive oil with a hand blender)

Organic Free-range eggs

Freshly grated parmesan

Black Olives

Pre-heat your oven as hot as it will go and add a baking sheet or a pizza stone. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the spinach and a good pinch of salt. Cover and cook until just wilted. Stir well and remove to a colander. Gently squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible.

Roll out your dough, as thin as it will go. Dust another completely flat baking sheet or peel with flour and put your pizza base straight on it. You need to work quite quickly now so that your base does not have time to stick. Spread passata on the base. Next scatter with spinach, then drizzle with garlic oil. Scatter on mozzarella, sprinkle over the parmesan and season lightly with sea salt and black pepper.

Transfer your pizza quickly to the tray in the oven. There is a knack to this. Your first one may not be beautiful but you will get better each time. Try not to leave the oven door open too long or you will lose all your precious heat. Crack on your eggs and add your olives and cook until done to your liking. Slide onto a board and serve.

Spinach

Chilled Salad Soup with Crème Fraiche & Herbs

Finally some real sunshine at the weekend, almost summeresque and as always in the heat, I get to thinking about chilled soup.

Here is a recipe for one of the best and a great use-up of any salad leaves you happen to have. You can use anything from rocket to batavia, watercress to baby gem. I like a big handful of fresh spinach too, for a beautiful deep green hue. There is baby spinach in the boxes now so you can just chuck it straight in. Don’t forget the herbs. I particularly like basil or chives. For the base you can use spring onions, leeks or bunched onions, whatever you have. The potatoes can be any variety too and you don’t even have to serve it chilled – it is delicious hot too!

Chilled Salad Soup with Creme Fraiche & Herbs

Chilled Salad Soup with Crème Fraiche & Herbs

Good glug of extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, peeled and chopped (could be a few spring onions)

250g potatoes, peeled and chopped into even sized pieces

450g to 500g assorted green lettuce & salad leaves (such as batavia or baby gem lettuce, sorrel, watercress, rocket, spinach and nettles)

Herbs of your choice – mint, chives, basil etc,

250ml Crème Fraiche

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Sweat the onion down in a good glug of extra virgin olive oil for about 10 minutes or so until just beginning to colour. Add the potatoes and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for about another 10 minutes or so. Cover with water and cook just until the potatoes are soft. Add more water if necessary.  Remove from the heat and stir in all the greens/herbs and whiz up with a hand blender. Adjust the consistency. It should not be gloopy but also not too thin. Add the Crème Fraiche and check seasoning. Serve hot or cold. You can add a swirl more of Crème Fraiche or add a few freshly chopped herbs.

Spinach

Smoked Haddock, Mustard Mash, Spinach and Poached Egg

And for my final spinach recipe of the week, a real suppertime favourite in our family. Smoked Haddock, Mustard Mash, Spinach and Poached Egg. This is founded on real nursery (minus the mustard) comfort food and bound to cheer you up after a hard day.

Try and find undyed smoked haddock. The smoking process should give the fish a delicate tinge, not an alarming deep shade of orange.

“en papillote”

I like to cook my fish simply steamed in the oven. This is called “en papillote” in French which translates as in parchment. There is no great description in English, but it is a super quick and easy way to cook your fish to perfection. You can use traditional greaseproof paper, or even easier tin foil. If you seal it well the package will puff up when cooked so you know when it is done. (Make sure the package is quite flat before it goes in the oven, as in the  picture below, so you know when it has puffed up.)

“en papillote” 1

I have given you a brief description of how to make a parcel but if you want more help, have a look at youtube.

Preheat the oven. Bring your oven up to 350F/180C. Add a tray to the oven. Take a large sheet of tinfoil or grease-proof. The tinfoil should be a rectangle, the grease-proof cut into a circle. Lightly grease the paper or foil with a little olive oil. Place the fish in the middle and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dot with a knob of butter and fold the paper or foil in half. For tin foil, neatly double fold each edge. For the grease-proof, start at one edge and start folding the edges in small inch sized folds until you have reached the other side of the semicircle.

Place on the hot tray in the oven and cook for 10 minutes or until well puffed up.

Smoked Haddock, Mustard Mash, Spinach and Poached Egg

Serve with some mashed potato with a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard stirred in at the end, some wilted spinach (see spinach)  and a freshly poached egg.

Smoked Haddock, Mustard Mash, Spinach and Poached Egg 2