Carnival Jerk Chicken

I’m sharing my jerk chicken recipe today in honour of the Notting Hill carnival this weekend. I’ve been going to carnival for the last ten years and one of the best things about it is all the yummy food. The smell of the bbqs combined with the carni inebriation that only red stripe can offer is a truly amazing thing.  This is not the time to play it safe with a boring slice of pizza, you’ve got to go for the properly authentic Caribbean food as it’s some of the best you’ll ever taste outside of the West Indies.

My jerk recipe is a little unorthodox in that I use chicken breasts as opposed to the more traditional bone-in thighs or legs. That’s not to say that it’s any less delicious though, the marinade/ sauce is unreal! I often find that jerk chicken can be a bit dry but that’s far from the case here. After colouring the meat you cook it in the sauce which keeps it really tender and flavourful.

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 chicken breasts
4 corn on the cob

Marinade
– thumb sized piece of ginger
– 1 shallot
– 1 small bunch coriander
– 1 bunch of spring onions
– 1 small bunch of fresh thyme
– 3 bay leaves nutmeg
– 1 level tablespoon ground allspice
– juice of 1 lime
– 4 garlic cloves
– 3 to 4  tablespoons white wine vinegar
– slug of dark rum (approx. 2 tablespoons worth)
– 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon of honey
– 1 scotch bonnet

Rice ‘n’ Peas
1 small bunch spring onions (chopped)
ground allspice (half tea spoon)
250g long-grain rice
chicken stock cube
tin coconut milk
1 tin kidney beans
2 sprigs thyme

Method

Start by giving the fat end of the chicken breast a little bash so as to ensure it cooks evenly or, alternatively, give it a couple of centimetres snip in a vertical line through the thickest part of the breast. Season and rub with a little bit of oil – I use coconut – and then set to one side whilst getting on with the marinade. You’ll want to put the kettle on for the rice at this point as brown rice can take forever. Pop the rice into a deep frying pan with a lid or large wide saucepan and add  200ml of water (mixed with the stock cube) plus the can of coconut milk. Throw in the herbs, spices and onions before stirring and popping on the lid. Set your oven to 180 degrees.

Roughly chop the ginger, garlic, spring onions and shallot and put in a blender together with the thyme leaves (reserving a few sprigs for the rice) and the rest of the marinade ingredients. Whizz it up until it has formed a smooth paste, loosening with  little more vinegar if needs be. Taste and adjust accordingly. It may need a little more honey or a little more soy sauce at this stage depending on your personal preferences.

Now that you’ve got the sauce all ready, put a griddle pan on a high heat and colour the chicken breasts. You don’t want to cook them all the way through, you just want the nice lines from the griddle on both sides. Once you’ve done this, pop the chicken pieces into a baking dish (put about half the marinade at the bottom of the dish so that the meat can rest on top) before evenly covering with the remainder of your marinade. Cover loosely with tin foil and put in the oven for around fifteen minutes, uncovering for the final five. When you put the chicken in, check on your rice and add the kidney beans (drained and rinsed) with a little water if needs be, before covering again.

Lightly steam the corn on the cob whilst you wipe down the griddle pan and return it to a high heat. Once the corn has steamed for around 6 minutes, take it out of the steamer and give it some nice colour on the griddle. You want lovely charred bits as you would if doing corn on the bbq.

Serve the chicken on top of the rice, covered in plenty of sauce, together with the corn!

Jerk chicken 2

 

Healthy Baking

Attitudes towards healthy eating have changed drastically over the last few years. Concern for what you put into your body- be it wheat flour, sugar, dairy- has never been so main stream. A quick glance at #eatclean on Insta should give you a good idea of the current healthy eating landscape; natural is in, anything processed or refined is most definitely out.

Wellness warriors such as Deliciously Ella, Natasha Corrett (Honestly Healthy) and the Hemsley sisters have become household names, with their recipes that offer healthy alternatives to traditionally naughty foods proving to be particularly popular. We all love a sweet treat from time to time , so it’s no wonder that guilt free baking has captured the foodie imagination. Companies such as Livia’s Kitchen and Hardihood are leading the way in healthier sweet treats, but when it comes to nutritional value, nothing beats making your own.

In the recipes that follow, unhealthier ingredients are substituted with vegetables and other natural products, meaning you never have to feel guilty about satisfying your sweet tooth again.

1. Deliciously Ella’s Sweet Potato Brownies
Made with sweet potato, cacao and dates, these six ingredient gluten and dairy free brownies are one of the most popular recipes on Deliciously Ella’s site. They might look and taste decadent, but they’re actually packed with goodness, including antioxidant rich superfood cacao.

2. Hemsley and Hemsley’s Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies
Jasmine and Melissa are big advocates of nutrient rich, whole foods, and with a a restaurant in Selfridges and  TV show both launched this year, clearly a lot of people . These cookies are super easy to make and feature ground almonds as opposed to traditional flour. The Hemsley’s also have their own take on brownies, made with black beans, which, rich and delicious and full of fibre, are one of my favourite recipes for a sunday bake-off (the featured image here is of my own BB Brownies!).

3. Madeline Shaw’s Sticky Gingerbread Puddings
A must try for any self-respecting fan of the sticky toffee pudding, this dessert of Shaw’s would win over even the most hardened of health food sceptics. Sweetened with date syrup instead of refined sugar, these puddings are fantastic for satisfying that sweet tooth craving without any of the guilt that usually comes with such an indulgence.

4. Madeline Shaw’s Ultimate Gluten Free Choc Chip Cookies
Another fantastic recipe from Madeline Shaw, these cookies are dairy, gluten and refined sugar free. Everyone loves a cookie, especially with a cup of tea, so these coconut oil filled treatsa are a great alternative for adults and children alike.

5. Livia’s Kitchen Raw Snickers Slab
Ok so given that this dessert is raw, it technically doesn’t include baking, but still makes for an unbelievably healthy treat.  A firm favourite from Livia’s blog, this snickers slab features chocolate, caramel and nougat, yet is still guilt-free! Great for those with even the most severe of food intolerances, this recipe is made up of completely natural ingredients.

6. Honestly Healthy Banana & Pecan Bread
Natasha Corrett is all about eating ‘the alkaline way’, so even her sweet treats pack a nutritional punch. This recipe is for a light, fluffy and healthy bread that tastes just like the original. You honestly (get it?! pun was originally unintended here) won’t notice the difference!

7. Mind Body Bowl Spiced Apple Muffins with Wal-nutty Crumble

The mind body bowl site is run by Annie, a yoga teacher and all round health enthusiast, but this particular recipe is a ‘guest recipe’, written by iQuit Sugar’s Sarah Wilson. AS with Deliciously Ella’s brownies, these muffins make use of the super food sweet potato, the health benefits of which are much extolled given their high Vitamin A content.

8. Hemsley & Hemsley’s Avocado Lime Cheesecake

Avocados have become literally indistinguishable from the clean eating movement. They are the poster child for health par excellence, you’d be hard pushed to have a scroll through Instagram without being confronted with an #avo. This sugar, flour and dairy free cheesecake utilises the creamy consistency of avocado in a fabulous example of healthy baking (although admittedly, the only baking involved here is a little bit of pecan and coconut toasting) . Super healthy and completely guilt free, the Hemsley’s have got wholesome sweet-treats down to a T.

 

Healthy Brown Rice Risotto

This is  great way to squeeze a variety of vegetables into your dinner without feeling that you’ve made a ‘boring’ choice, I often cook this on a Monday if I’ve had a particularly meat heavy weekend as it somehow tastes both indulgent and good for you at the same time!

It really is a one pot wonder- which is great in terms of washing up- and what’s amazing about it is how easy it is to make yet how impressive risotto seems to be.Be warned, brown risotto rice takes a lot longer to cook than it’s white counterpart, but it really is SO much healthier and very filling so it’s definitely worth the wait. Also, brown rice requires less stirring, so if you’re feeling lazy then this recipe is ideal!
Ingredients (serves 2)
-500ml chicken/ vegetable stock
-1 small glass white wine
-150g brown risotto rice (I love biona)
-1 onion
-3 cloves crushed garlic
-1 large carrot
-1 courgette
-300g mushrooms
-150g green beans
-50 g parmesan (parmesan can be expensive, so if you want to substitute it for grana padano that works wonderfully too).
You’ll need a pot or deep pan. I use my Le Creuset casserole, which works perfectly.

Method

Start by finely dicing your onion and carrot – you can leave the courgette and green beans until later as you’ll have time whilst the rice is cooking- and roughly chop the mushrooms.
Sauté the onion and garlic in a knob of butter or in the oil of your choice (I use coconut oil or ghee). Once slightly softened, add the carrot and mushrooms and give it all a good stir before cooking for a couple of minutes over a medium heat. Now it’s time to add your rice, which should be mixed thoroughly with the veg so that all the grains are covered in the remaining oil/butter.
 Add the glass of wine and stir everything thoroughly, deglazing the pot, and allow the rice to absorb the wine, making sure to stir constantly. Once the mixture has dried up, add a ladle-full of stock and keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat this a couple of times before adding the remaining stock and allow to simmer on a med-low heat whilst you finely chop the rest of your vegetables. This is where we depart from the ‘usual’ risotto method, as the brown rice needs to cook for longer so you don’t need to add the stock in stages and stir it in each time.  Once all of your veg are ready, add them to the rice and stock mixture, making sure to stir everything well.
The risotto should still look very wet at this stage and the rice will still be hard. So, make sure there’s enough liquid in there and then pop a lid onto your pot, allowing everything to cook, and just making sure to stir every 4-5 minutes, so that nothing gets stuck. If at any point the risotto seems dry and starts to stick (when the rice is still under done), add a little more stock or some boiling water.
It should take about half an hour for the rice to cook through completely (although timings may vary slightly depending on the brand of rice- just make sure to keep an eye on it and keep test tasting throughout) so once the liquid has completely disappeared and the rice and vegetables are soft, you should be left with a beautiful creamy risotto. Brown risotto rice tends to have a little more bite to it then white, so don’t worry if even when cooked the rice is slightly al dente.
At this stage, turn off the heat, season and stir in the parmesan, saving a little to scatter on the top when serving if you wish to. I sometimes garnish the bowls with a little fresh parsley, which is always nice as it adds a little extra colour. The great thing about this meal is that there are often leftovers, which I usually pop into a tupperware and take to work for lunch the following day.
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Mexican Eggs #brunchinspo

Given that the weekend is just around the corner, today I am going to share a brunch favourite of mine that, despite being one of my ultimate hang over cures, is a super versatile dish that’s amazing at any time of day. Jamie Oliver inspired this recipe and I’ve kept his name for it- Mexican eggs- but it is also incredibly similar to shakshuka and various other baked egg recipes that are about!

This is a great healthy alternative to a full English as there’s no meat (although if I’m going all out I sometimes add chorizo) and the vegetable rich sauce is full of goodness! Eggs are a great source of protein and vitamins and are great after a heavy night too! I often wrap the eggs and sauce in a tortilla with a little grated cheese but if you want to keep it carb free and healthy then simply serve with guacamole.

Ingredients  (serve 2)

4 eggs

1 diced onion

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 red pepper finely chopped

1 medium chilli

1 tin of tomatoes

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon of paprika

1/3 teaspoon of ground coriander

Optional: A pinch of cayenne pepper depending on the levels of spice you can handle!

Salt and pepper to taste

To serve

Whole Wheat Tortillas

A little freshly grated cheddar

Method 

First take a deep frying pan with a lid (ideally glass so you can see what’s going on in there) and melt some coconut oil or ghee over a medium heat. Fry the onions until translucent and then add the garlic for approximately 1 min before adding the red pepper and chilli. Move the mixture around the pan to ensure it cooks evenly and once it has been sautéing for a couple of minutes add the tomato paste and stir before throwing in the tin of tomatoes and the bay leaf. Give it all a good stir and simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes so that all of those flavours can meld deliciously together.

Once the sauce is done, get your eggs at the ready and make four holes in the sauce, making sure they’re evenly spaced in the pan. Once you’ve made a hole in the sauce, crack the egg and carefully place it into the space you’ve made so that it can poach in the sauce. You might want to do this one by one (make a hole, crack the egg in) if your sauce is slightly runny. Once all four eggs are in the sauce, pop the lid on and allow to gently simmer. The eggs cook in the sauce and the steam it creates, so keep an eye on the top of the pan and when it looks like eggs have turned from translucent to white they should be nearly done. It does tend to vary but generally speaking the eggs should take about 6 minutes or so.

Once the eggs are fully cooked, all you need to do is spoon onto a plate or tortilla and enjoy! And just incase you need any more motivation, check out this serious egg porn:FullSizeRender (1)

Rainbow Vegetable Quinoa

This is an amazing healthy, quick and simple meal that I often cook for my boyfriend and I after a heavy weekend as a vain attempt to get something nutritious into our bodies. As with all my recipes, this serves 2 for dinner. However there should be plenty left over, which is great as this makes a really wonderful packed lunch for work which can then be either be reheated or eaten cold. 

The quinoa is packed full of protein which makes this a really wholesome dish despite the lack of meat, fish or dairy. This makes it an especially great dish for me as I often struggle to think of exciting vegan dishes- in our house no meat often means it ends up being replaced with cheese, cheese and more cheese- but this one is incredibly hearty and really hits the spot. If you just can’t go vegan for the evening, this also works really well as a side dish for a nice bit of meat or fish. 

The  abundance of colour here is also what makes this such a healthy meal; nutritionists suggest that when aiming to get in your five a day one should try to encompass as many different colours as possible as they all have different health benefits. To give this rainbow dish an even further kick of colour I sometimes serve it with a crisp salad featuring some shredded red cabbage on the side. 

Ingredients 

150g quinoa

1 heaped teaspoon vegetable boullion

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 onion- diced

3 cloves garlic- crushed

1 carrot- finely diced

green beans- very finely chopped

peas- approx 120g/ large handful

red pepper- finely diced

yellow pepper- finely diced

1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

1/3 teaspoon paprika

handful chopped fresh parsley

Method

Fill and boil the kettle and prep your veg. I’d suggest starting with the harder veg- the onion, carrot and green beans- as they will need to cook for longer than the peppers and peas, which can be thrown in during the last 5 minutes.

Once the kettle has boiled and you have most your veg prepped, fill a non-stick sauce pan with 350ml water before stirring in the boullion and tomato paste until combined. Rinse your quinoa thoroughly under cold water in a sieve to remove impurities. Keep the liquid boiling on a medium temperature and add your quinoa. Bring to the boil and then turn right down to simmer with a lid 3/4 of the way over the top. The quinoa should absorb all of the liquid so that it doesn’t need draining at the end but if during cooking time it starts to look like it’s drying out and might catch on the bottom just add a little more boiling water. Allow to cook for 15 but meanwhile get on with the vegetables.

Heat a little coconut oil (or other of your choice) in a deep frying pan and saute the onion and garlic for a minute or so before adding the carrot.

Continue to cook for a couple of minutes before adding finely chopped green beans , and then cook the mixture (whilst stirring) on a medium to low heat for approximately 5 minutes until soft and almost done. Whilst this is cooking finely dice your peppers so they are ready to go. At this stage, take your peas and if frozen just pop them into a sieve and pour boiling water over them to defrost. Add your dried herbs, paprika and peas, together with the peppers, to the pan and sauté for a further couple of minute until all the veg is done. Turn the heat off.

Your quinoa should be just about done by now (you can tell it is cooked through by checking whether the germ has come away from the kernel) so once it is, turn it off and fluff it up using a fork.

Return the vegetable mixture to a low heat and add the cooked quinoa, stirring to thoroughly combine, before throwing in the parsley and giving the whole lot a final mix. I often add a squeeze of lemon at this stage but this is totally optional. Serve up and enjoy! It’s great with a bit of chilli sauce too.

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Tomato and Mascarpone Courgetti

It was the Hemsley sisters (some of my favorite foodies) that got me into one of the hottest new food trends-spiralizing -and I am now a sworn believer. Even the briefest look at #courgetti on Instagram will show you that I am not alone in this, making long spaghetti like shapes out of veg is such an amazing way to up your vegetable intake whilst still enjoying all of your favourite pasta/noodle dishes.

By switching carb heavy pasta to courgette (amongst numerous other vegetables you can sprialize with ease) you can feel a little less guilty about enjoying rich sauces and I promise that you won’t notice the difference. I’m not one for health fads and yet I would literally scream from the rooftops to everyone I know about how fab this is; it tastes the same, you really don’t feel like your missing out, and just proves how much we eat with our eyes. It’s even boyfriend friendly- tried, tested and completely approved!

I use the Hemsley & Hemsley spiralizer but if you don’t want to invest in one until you have been converted then a julienne peeler- or even just an ordinary hand held peeler- works absolutely fine. You can use a knife (that’s how I started to do it) but be warned, it’s fiddly and takes a while!

I hope you all enjoy this as much as I do. In the run up to Christmas little tricks such as sprializing go a really long way in helping you to eat lighter without feeling that you have to compromise on deliciousness. This is such a simple dish where the flavours of basil, mascarpone and tomato compliment each other beautifully. The dish feels like Italy on a plate and yet is still substantial and warming enough to be enjoyed on a cold winters night; once tried it’s sure to become a household classic!

Ingredients

2 large courgettes

3 cloves of garlic, crushed.

1 finely diced onion (either red and white is fine)

300g passata or alternatively you can use a tin of chopped tomatoes

80g mascarpone (approx. two heaped tablespoons)

100g young spinach

plenty fresh basil

½ teaspoon of dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

(you will need a spriralizer, a julienne peeler or hand held peeler)

Method

Start by gently frying your onion in a little coconut oil or ghee for a couple of minutes until soft before adding the garlic and oregano and continuing to sauté for a couple of minutes. If you want to up your vegetable intake further- which after a heavy weekend I often do- then at this stage you can add a finely diced red pepper add cook for another minute.

Add your passata/ tomatoes to the pan and bring to the boil before simmering for around 10 minutes until you have a lovely rich sauce. At this stage you can start to gently stir in your mascarpone until completely incorporated before throwing in the fresh spinach. At this stage you can taste, season and add half your basil leaves as well. As you stir the spinach will wilt and you should be left with a lovely silky sauce to which you can add your spiralized courgette.

Keep the pan on the low heat whilst you stir in the courgette to make sure that it is both warm and completely mixed up with the sauce. Once this is done you are ready to serve. Garnish with the remaining fresh basil leaves and enjoy!

Salmon en Croûte

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 ready rolled sheet of fresh puff pastry (you definitely will not need all of this, half will do but make sure to check by eye that you have enough pastry to wrap each individual salmon piece up securely before cutting)
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2/3 of a bunch of watercress very finely chopped.
  • 2 shallots very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of butter.
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • juice and zest of half a lemon.
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 beaten egg yolk

Method

This recipe is for individual salmon en croûte as, having tried it both ways, I think that the pastry stays crisper than when you make one large one. If you’d prefer to save time then get one piece of salmon big enough for two from your fishmonger and follow the same wrapping steps with just one large piece of pastry.

For ease and speed I chop my shallots and watercress in the food processor, which has the added bonus of giving the sauce an even more beautiful green colour than if you were to do it by hand.

Set your oven to 200°C, line a tray with some baking parchment and start by making the watercress sauce. To do this you will need to make a roux, but fist sauté the finely chopped shallots in the teaspoon of butter in a non-stick saucepan on a medium to low heat. Once they have softened- this should take about 4 minutes- add the remaining tablespoon of butter and then add the flour. Keep vigorously stirring the roux until it resembles a peanut butter coloured paste. Now you can start to add the milk, which should be whisked in little by little so as to ensure that you get a nice silky smooth sauce. Bring the mixture to the boil and then simmer on a low heat until you have a beautiful thick sauce, at which point add the watercress, lemon, nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Simmer for a final couple of minutes before removing from the heat and allowing to cool.

Now it’s time to cut your pastry. You should have two pieces that are each large enough to be folded over the salmon fillet and sealed, with a little bit of pastry left at the top and bottom as well so that you can tightly close up your parcel. My advice is to do all of this on your lined tray, as it not only saves on washing up but means you won’t have to move your delicate parcels around. Place the fillet on top of the pastry and spoon some of the sauce on top of the fish, taking care not to over fill or to get the sauce on the pastry, before folding the pastry right over it (this sounds quite complicated but once you actually do it you’ll see that it’s really easy, all you need is a little common sense!).

Wet your finger with some cold water and seal up your parcel all the way round, crimping all of the sides with a fork to ensure you don’t get any leaks. It’s really important not to be tempted to overfill the parcel with sauce, as you want the pastry to be nice and crisp. I heat up and serve the remainder of the sauce on the side, which works really nicely. Use any little bits of left over pastry to decorate before brushing the parcels with the beaten egg yolk to ensure that they have a beautiful golden shine. Pop them in the oven and bake for twenty minutes, keeping your eye on the pastry as once that looks done the fish will be too.

Serve with green vegetables and the warmed left over watercress sauce. Enjoy!