Monthly Archives: January 2013

Snowfall and Stuffed Peppers

It happens sometimes. When the sheet of paper is as white as the snow outside and one can find nothing to say. I have hitherto considered myself foremost a writer and then a photographer and then a foodie. A reversal of that order has been taking place… like tectonic plates, slowly shifting the dynamics of my life long before any eruption at the surface. I never thought blogging would be challenging from the perspective of sharing words, anecdotes or literary pieces. However, whilst I have a backlog of food stuffs that I want to share, it is the words that don’t come. So this time, I won’t try. Instead, I just picked up my camera…

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Oh. And I rustled up some peppers. Sweet romanos work best with this recipe.

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Stuffed Romano Peppers

Two romano peppers
150g Lentils (puy lentils are a good choice)
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Mozarella (optional but oh so good)
2 tbsp olive oil
Handful of fresh basil leaves

Cook the lentils in good veg stock, half hour, until soft.

Halve the peppers lengthways and deseed.

Spoon the lentils into the peppers and top with tomatoes and mozarella and olive oil.

Bake at 200C for 25 mins. Scatter with fresh basil.

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Best served with salad, bread or broccoli.

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Detoxing and Baked Kale Chips

Hm. Detox. Detoxing. Is that even a verb? It’s en-vogue from London to LA, from continent to coast, and across both hemispheres, one can find a plethora of wellbeing eating trends. But what is all the hype?

de·tox·i·fi·ca·tion noun: Biochemistry; the metabolic process by which toxins are changed into less toxic or more readily excretable substances.

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Interesting, because although I am a champion of having a lean, clean, fit and healthy body, I’m utterly unconvinced that certain ‘healthfoods’ are actually good for me. Whilst I have been shovelling all manner of ‘good things’ into my frankly confused system.. [Tummy: "oi, where is my mid-morning snack of peanut butter, honey and dark chocolate? Me: "I'm detoxing dear Tummy, you will have to make do with wholegrain rice cakes and sunflower seeds today" Tummy: "WTF?!"]…I have been discovering that, my tummy is actually happier with warm cooked things and hot heavy foods. Midst English winter, a hot chocolate topped with real cream is called for, a stick of celery, is not.

That said, I have persevered with the detox, for two reasons: I have found that for the first time, it’s having an impact on candida. That makes me do happy cartwheels in my head. And secondly my inner sugar fiend needed taming. It did. Five spoons of sugar in my tea was just, a little bit wrong; as proven by the backlash of withdrawal symptoms I have been experiencing like any addict coming off a substance. I’m sure my friends and colleagues can vouch for the moody cow that has replaced me in the office and in the home this week. She looks like this:

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In the process at least, I am learning lots about my body I never knew (although, the hot chocolate vs celery was never really a debate).

Detoxing or not, one thing I have always valued, whatever it is that I’m putting into or on to my body, is quality. For me, Christmas comes every Thursday with my weekly organic veg box delivery; I love opening the box of delights and delving into the veg bible book for recipe ideas (thanks Emma). I love my mornings of organic chia porridge and trips to the west end to visit WholeFoods. I love adding to my repertoire of recipes and I love munching on new things. Like these baked kale chips….

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Baked Kale Chips

4 bunches Kale (I used curly leaf)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt

Wash the kale and dry it. Cut off the stalks. Mix with oil and salt. Lay over a baking tray. Heat in oven at 150C for 20mins. Easy.

Raw Energy Balls

All because the lady was tired….

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Haha. Seriously though, these are an awesome sugar-free energy boost food. Just be careful not to take the entire batch to the office on the pretense that you will eat them throughout the week and then eat them all in one go. (Not that I’m speaking from experience; I would never do that. Ever) :)

Basic recipe:

There are many variations of this recipe to be found online with varying ingredients and quantities, which is why, I like to make it up. Every time. You can use the following as a rough guide..

Dates (about half a cup)
Pecans (about half a cup)
Goji berries (quarter cup)
Raisins (quarter cup)

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Add the whole lot into a blender and mix until they bind into solid form (the pecans will release a lot of oil but the mixture should be solid enough to roll into balls).

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Then get your hands messy! Roll into small (or large) balls for sharing (or, not).

 

Liver Cleanse

And so it ends…. (well for a month at least). It was inevitable really. I have been wanting to detox for a while now (okay so the last detox happened three years ago), but this week’s indulgences have really spurred me on. My body, despite being pummelled with regular gruelling gym workouts, was really asking for (okay pleading for) an internal cleanse. And so, I have spent the weekend doing the following:

Preparing raw carrots and fennel…

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preparing a kilo of raw carrots and fennel for juicing…

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and then… juicing. I got sprayed by carrot as I hadn’t closed the lid of the juicer properly so my white t.shirt now has orange spots on it. Still, at least my insides are cleaner.

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And if that wasn’t a good enough start, I also made myself a ‘liver flush’ drink as noted in Joshi’s Holistic Detox book:

Take about 300ml of freshly squeezed grapefruit and lemon juice and dilute with 200ml of filtered water

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Grate one or two cloves of fresh garlic and a small piece of ginger root and using a garlic press, squeeze into the mix

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Add 2 tbsp of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and mix with the juice in a blender

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Joshi recommends following with two cups of herbal tea and plenty of water, plus relaxing afterwards with deep breathing.

I can’t say I’m feeling all that relaxed but I AM feeling better for having purged my system somewhat. It does mean that all the delightful cakes, cookies, chocolates, and suppertime delights I wanted to share with you will have to wait awhile. In the meantime, it’s health food central at my place.

Fine Dining: Scott’s and The Hawksmoor

ep·i·cu·re·an [adjective] fond of or adapted to luxury or indulgence in sensual pleasures; having luxurious tastes or habits, especially in eating and drinking.

Yes. Quite. It is an undeniable fact that this one word is a summation of my entire life. When I am not indulging in culinary fancies in my own kitchen (see pictures below), it is at London’s finest foodie venues that I am whiling away my hours and my income.

This week, I spent 1 January 2013 with some magical friends; we ate, drank champagne, talked, laughed, played, hoovered up christmas pudding with port and brandy cream, lay about and created the year ahead. I feel I am still digesting all of the above; particularly the latter. I’m sure it will surface at some point on this space but for now, a summary of the week of fine dining:

Scott’s: http://www.scotts-restaurant.com/ It claims to be one of Mayfair’s finest seafood restaurants, and, I can’t argue. The smoked haddock with horseradish mash, poached burford brown egg and mustard sauce was soft edible heaven, dissolving into my mouth with sensory pleasure. Equally pleasurable were the surrounds; Scott’s does not suffer from the so-oft found poor acoustics of restaurants whose chic but harsh furnishings fail to absorb the din of conversational noise. Thankfully too, for I was dining with a friend who had just returned from a ten day silent meditation retreat and had plenty to say! Having declined dessert three times, I finally succumbed, under the guise of ‘sharing’. Bakewell pudding with almond ice cream,  vanilla pannacotta with spiced rhubarb and of course (but of course, for what is dessert without chocolate) chocolate and caramel fondant with banoffee ice cream. Amazing. All of them. Satiated though I was, I even managed to dig into my friend’s honeycomb ice cream with hot chocolate sauce; the latter was just too much of a tease for me to ignore. The staff were gracious enough to let us sit until we were ready to leave, and the walk back to Bond Street was a welcome one.

The Hawksmoor: www.thehawksmoor.com/ So, if an indulgent 1st and 2nd January were not enough, I thought it entirely appropriate to book a dinner date at The Hawksmoor British steakhouse and cocktail bar, the same week. My friend and I went to the Air Street location, where the art deco rooms are dimly lit and wonderfully atmospheric. We ordered chateaubriand to share, with more side dishes than we could actually finish, including creamed spinach and triple cooked chips etc etc… okay I’m writing too quickly and without any focus, because I reeeallly wanna tell you about dessert. The desserts live up to every raved about review on the net. Really. How can a pudding titled ‘peanut butter shortbread with salted caramel ice cream’ be anything but God-sent? With that we had Hawksmoor jaffa cake and the famous salted caramel rolos to share. To be honest, the latter ones we lifted to our mouths with heavy hands and teary eyes but we succeeded. It was a battle we were not prepared to lose. How an early 6pm dinner date turned into an 11pm train home is beyond me but my daziness was evident as I got a call from the restaurant to say that I had left my stilletos beneath the dining table. I can only put the delirium down to the quality of the dining and the heaviness of my stomach weighing down on my brain. Still, at least my feet were comfortable in commuting flat shoes. Definitely a thumbs up for this venue. Oh, and the glass of rioja was a good wash-down drink too. I slept like a lion digesting a buffalo that night.