Super sweet potato muffins

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These delicious savoury muffins are from Jamie Oliver’s new Super Food book. I really fancied making them after watching his programme which is all about eating healthy and thinking a bit more about what we are putting in our bodies.
The whole holiday season was filled with indulgence for us in both food and wine and it really does begin to take it’s toll. Apart from the odd jiggle in places that never used to jiggle there’s the lack of energy and that horrible bloated feeling. There’s really no better motivation to start eating better than when your body is telling you so.
It’s also made me think about what nutritional value foods have and I think that Jamie’s super food programme has really opened my eyes to how powerful food is! I mean who would’ve thought a sweet potato is packed full of vitamin C which helps protect our cells in damage against stress?! Which for me I believe is the cause of many horrible diseases and illnesses in this world and unfortunately is a part of everyday life for a lot of people.
It really has inspired me to eat, cook and think much healthier! I do still believe everything in moderation and I’m not going to ignore my intense craving I get for nachos from time to time or not bake a lovely sticky toffee pudding at the weekend. I just will be making an effort to really think about what I’m eating and how I feel.
So I urge you to give these muffins a go just because they are so utterly delicious.

Ingredients

600g sweet potato or butternut squash
4 spring onions
1-2 fresh red chillies
6 large free range eggs
3 tbsp cottage cheese
250g wholewheat self raising flour ( I didn’t have self raising so added 1/2 tsp of baking soda )
50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped almonds ( Jamie used poppy seeds and sunflower seeds but I used what I already had )

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases or 15cm folded squares of greaseproof paper, then lightly wipe each one with oiled kitchen paper. I used a non stick mini loaf instead and it worked beautifully. Peel the sweet potatoes or squash and coarsely grate into a large bowl. You can also use a food processor for this step. Trim the spring onions, then finely slice with the chilli and add to the bowl, reserving half the chilli to one side. Crack in the eggs, add the cottage cheese and flour, then finely grate in most of the Parmesan and season with sea salt and black pepper. Mix until nicely combined.

Evenly divide the muffin mixture between the cases. Sprinkle over the sunflower and poppy seeds, then dot over the reserved slices of chilli. Use the remaining Parmesan to give a light dusting of cheese over each one, then bake at the bottom of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes (if using squash, it’ll be a bit quicker – check after 35 minutes), or until golden and set.

These are amazing served warm 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven, and good kept in the fridge for a couple of days. Enjoy 2 muffins per portion.

For the original recipe Click here

 

 

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Simple beans on toast

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We made this on our way back from a nice long walk and we needed something warming and filling, fast! This was so easy to make and inexpensive which we like. By using some store cupboard staples and some stale bread you can create a delicious, hearty lunch in no time. We also had some courgetti left over from a previous dinner and decided to chuck that in as well but really you can do this without if you don’t have any or throw in whatever you have left over.

Serves 3/4 for lunch

Ingredients

1x400g Cannellini beans

Half 400g tin plum tomatoes

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp Piri Piri seasoning

1 tsp dried oregano

Pinch of salt & pepper

1/2 stick of left over bread cut into round slices

Greek yogurt to serve

Method

Add a tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat and add chopped garlic, fry for a minute. Meanwhile drain and rinse the Cannellini beans and add the the saucepan. At this point I added a small handful of courgetti (courgettes cut into thin strips) if you have a small amount of left over veg add it at this point and fry for 2/3 minutes until softened.

Then add the juice and 1 plum tomato from the tin. You don’t want too much tomato sauce. Add the spices and salt and pepper to taste and let if simmer slightly for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile heat a griddle pan on a high heat and toast the bread for a minute or two on each side. Once the bread is ready, place onto plates and drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt on each side. Top with the beans and a dollop of Greek yogurt and enjoy!

Repost: salted peanut and marshmallow rocky road


This time of year always calls for some indulgence and what better than some salty sweet rocky road. It’s ridiculously easy to make and even more easier to devour, I just had to repost this one from last year. To get the recipe Click here.

Smoked swordfish patè

imageThis is absolutely divine! I love how indulgent this seems…or maybe is. It is always a favourite of mine at this time of year and it goes perfectly at any Christmas party. I see this everywhere in Italy at Christmas time and decided to use it instead of smoked salmon. The results were just amazing and I munched my way through it on a cold Christmas afternoon. It also only took about 2 seconds to make, perfect!

Ingredients:

100g smoked swordfish

1 tbsp lemon juice

6 tbsp single cream

1 big pinch of pepper
Method:

Put all ingredients except the cream in a bowl. Add 3 tbsp of cream and whizz with a hand mixer until combined. Add the rest of the cream until it is a smooth consistency. If you feel it is too thick you can continue to add a little cream a tbsp at a time. Serve on a small serving dish with some crackers.

Peperoncino & Fennel rounds.

imageThese little biscuits are so delicious and perfect at this time of year. I first tried these from a Nigella recipe which calls for only handfulls of parmesan in the dough resulting in a soft, crumbly cheesey shortbread. I loved them and couldn’t believe how easy they were! I added my own little twist here by adding chilli flakes and fennel seeds. I love the spicy kick it gives. Enjoy these on their own with a glass of prosecco in hand or with some nice cheeses and chutney.

Makes 35-40

Ingredients

150g plain flour

100g soft butter

1 free range egg yolk

1tbsp fennel seeds

1tbsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

 

Put all ingredients in a food processor and whizz until it forms a clump.

Turn it out and give it a kneed for only around 30 seconds, until smooth, then divide into two.

Take the first half and roll into a sausage shape about 3cm in diameter. Make sure ends are flat so the cylinder resembles a roll of coins. Roll this in in cling film so it resembles a christmas cracker and put in the fridge. Do the same with the other half and leave to rest in the fridge for 45mins.

Pre heat the oven to 180 degreesC. Cut the cylinders into pound coin rounds and arrange on lined baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they are a soft golden colour around the edges. Leave to cool and enjoy!

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Smoked salmon patè with black pepper crackers.

 

 
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I absolutely love smoked salmon and especially at Christmas time. This recipe is perfect for parties, entertaining, new year or even on Christmas Day as finger food. After craving smoked salmon for a few days, this really hit the spot and it’s so easy to make.

Ingredients

For the patè:
100g Scottish smoked salmon
125g good quality soft cream cheese
Lemon, squeeze
Salt and pepper, to season

For the crackers:
200g plain flour
50g cold butter, cubed
5 tbsp water
Salt and pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degreesC. To make the patè, put the smoked salmon and cream cheese in a bowl and blend together with a hand blender until it is a nice, smooth consistency. Add a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt and pepper, set aside. Now to make the crackers, place the flour,butter, pinch of salt and large grating of pepper in a bowl. Using your fingers mix the butter through the flour. Now add 3-4tbsp of water and bring the dough together. It’s important not to get it too wet. Once you’ve formed it in a ball add another tbsp of water so it all comes together nicely but not wet or sticky. Now roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle as thin as possible. Pick all over with a fork and lightly brush with water. Cut into squares and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve with patè.
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Simple artichokes and peas

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I hadn’t tried this pasta before and I now love it. It’s very dense and has such a lovely texture to eat, it would be great with a rich tomato sauce or a ragù. I decided to go for a nice fresh tasting pasta last night which was again so easy. I used my artichoke dip and added peas to it for the sauce and that was it, simple. I thought about warming it up with a little mascarpone or ricotta but I wanted a lighter pasta so if you want to add any of those in your version please let me know how it goes.

1 quantity of my artichoke dip + a little extra artichoke oil
50g frozen peas
200g fusilli lunghi bucati

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and a little pot for the peas. Add the pasta to the large pot and peas to the small pot. After 1-2 minutes, remove the peas and add to your artichoke dip and mix. Add more of the artichoke oil to your dip than normal so it’s not as thick. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and place back in the pot. Add your artichoke and peas on top and coat the pasta thoroughly. Serve in large bowls with a grating of parmesan. Easy peasy!

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Salted peanut & marshmallow rocky road.

imageThis really does taste as good as it looks. Salty chocolate and soft marshmallow..mmm just what I need after the week from hell I’ve had. Let’s just say there’s some serious Italian sickness bugs going around and I’ve managed to catch them all!! So after not being able to even think of food for the past week ( not exactly the Xmas diet I was looking for ) I suddenly got all festive again. The Christmas songs went on and my little reindeer came out to play. This honestly takes two minutes to make, it’s ridiculously easy and the reward is well worth making….well not much effort at all.

Ingredients Makes 12

300g good quality dark chocolate
1tbsp runny honey
125g butter
200g salted peanuts
100g mini marshmallows
1 tbsp icing sugar
17 x 22 cm foil tray

Method

Add the butter,chocolate and honey in a saucepan and melt slowly over a low heat. Add the peanuts into a freezer or sandwich bag and bash with a rolling pin ( you want some little pieces and some larger ). Once melted turn the heat off and add the peanuts and marshmallows. Spoon the mixture into a foil tray and leave to cool slightly before placing in the fridge for 2-3 hours or over night. Cut into little squares and sprinkle with a little icing sugar if desired.

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Artichoke dip

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This is absolutely delicious and full of flavour. If you love garlic dips then you’ll love this one. I love jarred artichokes they are perfect for antipasti as is this dip. Embarrassingly easy, quick and very impressive. I guarantee if you make it for guests as a little appetiser with drinks or before dinner they will love it. I also sometimes buy an extra jar of artichokes and cut them in half to put on the top of this dip. It’s also lovely and bulks the dip out a bit, giving it a different texture.

For the dip:
285g Jar artichoke hearts in sunflower oil
15g parmesan, finely grated
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl ( spoon the artichokes into a bowl do not add whole jar of oil ) and blitz together with a hand blender until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Yep that’s it! I told you..embarrassingly easy, right? Serve with some toasted crusty bread and cured meats.

Fritto Misto

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Crispy calamari with crunchy, salty anchovies, carrot and courgette. This is one of my favourite dishes to order in a restaurant especially in the summer with a crisp, cold glass of prosecco.
For people who say squid tastes like rubber bands, they simply have not had it cooked properly. If it is cooked too long, especially fried it will get tough. You only need a few minutes to create this beauty.
For me there is nothing better than biting in to a crispy, salty piece of calamari with a squeeze of lemon. My favourite is the little tentacle pieces they are absolutely delicious!
I have tried dipping the calamari in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and panko breadcrumbs but I have to say I do prefer dusting them in flour with plenty salt and pepper. It is so easy and delicious and because they are slightly wet after the cleaning process, when dunked into the flour it clumps slightly around the succulent little pieces resulting in the best crunch and crispiness.
I also love the anchovies, normally when you order Fritto misto it comes with calamari and prawns but we wanted a feast for lunch and anchovies are so cheap and packed with flavour. The carrot and courgette are also brilliant in this dish. I could eat a big plate of these thin and crispy carrot and courgette chips just on their own. What’s not to like?

We made this just for the two of us ( yes I know what you are thinking ) and we have to admit it was very, very filling. I was full up half way through but continued stuffing my face because it was so good and couldn’t bare it going to waste. So a sensible person would say, this serves four…

1/2kg calamari, cleaned and membrane removed
1/2kg fresh anchovies, cleaned, gutted and heads removed
1 carrot, peeled and cut into think strips
1 courgette, cut into thin strips.
Flour, to completely cover all of above, 500g
Sunflower oil, 1 litre
1 lemon
Parsley, handful
Salt and pepper
Brown paper for draining & baking paper

Firstly put the oil in a large pot under a medium heat and pre heat the oven on the lowest setting. Get three bowls ready and divide the flour among them and add plenty salt and pepper.
Cut the calamari into lovely little rings and place into one bowl. After peeling the carrot and cutting it with a sharp knife along with the courgette into very thin strips place them into another bowl and finally place the prepared anchovies into the third bowl.
Make sure you have plates ready, lined with brown paper to drain the fritto misto. Also have a tray ready in the oven lined with baking paper to keep the first batch warm as the rest is cooking.
Make sure the calamari, anchovies and veg are all completely covered in flour in their bowls. Test the oil with a small piece of bread and if it sizzles and floats then it is ready.
Now start frying, in small batches and starting with the veg. It only takes a few minutes. When you see them turning crispy and slightly golden, remove them onto the brown paper to drain. Continue the process then with the anchovies and finally the calamari. Place the batches into the oven as you go to keep them warm. Serve on a large serving plate with wedges of lemon and a sprinkling of parsley. Oh and a nice cold bottle of prosecco. Enjoy!