Wednesday 17 December 2014

Warm Beetroot & Feta Salad

This is the ideal meal for a light lunch or evening tea. Even though it's a salad, the roasted vegetables and creamy feta make it filling, hearty and warming... not to mention really healthy!

You can have it on its own or try it with a grilled salmon fillet or chicken breast.

You'll need;

2x handfuls spinach
2 beetroots
1 pepper
1x handful plum tomatoes
30g feta
2x gloves garlic
2 closed cup mushrooms
1 tbspn turmeric

Place your beetroot, pepper, tomatoes and garlic into a baking tray, and drizzle in a little olive oil. Sprinkle with turmeric (or a spice of your choice), and roast in the oven for 20 minutes on 180 degrees.

In the mean time, wash your spinach and mushrooms. Lay the spinach out on your plate and top with raw mushrooms. When your veggies are done, take them out of the oven and crumble half of your feta on top so that it starts to melt a little. Pop back in the oven for about three minutes until the feta is a bit goey.

Place your vegetables and feta on top of your spinach, finally finishing off by crumbling the remaining feta on top, and some black pepper to season.

If you're running low on feta, crumble some walnut halves on top instead.



Tuesday 9 December 2014

Christmas Time in North France

Last weekend marked the true beginning of the festive period for me: old friends, France, presents, wine, cheese & chocolate (and some good old board games thrown into the mix too..).

Me, Alice, Kate & Nichola set off from London in the car at 6am on Friday and were in a cottage in the north of France at midday. After a supermarket sweep style dash around the shops, we made the feast of a lifetime and sat down to have a proper catch up. 

At 6pm, we figured it was probably time to get down from the table, and get ready for secret Santa.....

I definitely came off the winner this time round, not only did I get the Marmite 'Love or Hate' boardgame (thanks, Kate), but the team behind Nola Spritz sent me a gift too - specially put together with a girls' night in mind!

The hamper included gorgeous smelling candles, popcorn, snacks and their signature 'Nola Spritz' - pre-mixed vodka in flavours; raspberry and elderflower and watermelon and strawberry. 

Me and the girls all decided that it reminded us of drinking crisp, cool fruit cider. Light, fruity and fizzy - and refreshingly cool after too much mulled wine and an open fire!

We stayed up into the early hours of the morning... with marshmallows, the Marmite boardgame, red wine and the best French radio station, 'Nostalgic'. It's like Smooth FM on heat, and we couldn't get enough.

Saturday tore us away from the fire and out into the countryside..

...where we seemed to stumble upon the best thing in the world.

A farmhouse with new kittens. Lots and lots of tiny balls of fluff jumping and running about. I actually could not deal.

After recovering from a cute-kitten induced seizure, I calmed down enough to take this for you;

Even when doing its best to look like a pissed off porcupine, it's still the cutest thing ever.

Happy Christmas..!


Sunday 7 December 2014

Innocent Mince Pies

I got fully into the Christmas spirit yesterday, tackling a load of Christmas shopping and making mince pies. I based the recipe on a post by the brilliant Little Green Spoon, who's recipes are always bookmarked for me to try out.

I didn't quite have all the ingredients, and will definitely invest in some vanilla for the next batch (as well as some festive pastry cutters!), but these little pies tasted lovely - definitely not a bad first attempt.

I used;

1 packet ground almonds
1 egg
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 oranges
1/2 lemon
2 whole pieces nutmeg, grated
1 packet mixed dried fruit (sultanas, cranberries, raisins)
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 table spoons Agave syrup

This made 9 mince pies.

First up, the crust:

Mix together your ground almonds, egg, coconut oil and 2x table spoons of agave syrup. My poor old blender couldn't quite cope with the stickiness of this mixture, so I ended up taking it out and hand mixing it.

Roll the dough into two balls and cover them in cling film. The original recipe suggests putting the dough in the fridge, but I opted for the freezer. 

Make the mince whilst this is chilling. 

Chop your oranges in half and squeeze the juice into a saucepan. Then, finely grate the remains of the orange until it hurts your arm too much to carry on. Do the same with the lemon and nutmeg. Heat it up and add in your cinnamon, dried fruit and 2x table spoons of agave syrup (and vanilla, if you have it). Remember to keep stirring!

Once it’s been cooking about half an hour take the dough out of the freezer.

Roll one out until you reach your desired base level. I went for quite a thick base, as I wasn't sure that a thin base could hold the mince.

If you've got a cupcake tray then line these with coconut oil. I used cupcake cases and greased them with a little coconut oil, which is why they look more like mince cakes than pies…

Use the rim of a cup or a pastry cutter to make circles, and place these in their cases. Use a tablespoon to dollop the mince filling on top the base.

Roll out your second dough ball to make the lids. Please be more creative than me on this bit..

(If your dough starts to crumble, just use your hands.)

Once all your lids are on, pop them in the oven at 180 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.

Definitely best eaten warm; mulled wine mandatory.

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