Category Archives: bite me

Cauliflower-base Pizza

pizza

I know. I know what you’re thinking. This sounds fundamentally wrong. Pizzas, by their very nature are meant to be indulgent, unvirtuous and altogether fun. What on earth was I thinking when I made a pizza base out of shredded cauliflower? Of all things, cauliflower?!

It’s not the spring-air getting to me. It was a moment of inspiration I received from an article in the Guardian Food feature. Although, I was working on some spreadsheets at the time, so frankly, even wet lettuce with garlic paste would have seemed an inspiring prospect.

So. I went ahead and added ‘cauliflower’ to my weekly organic veg box delivery. And then, cancelled it. Using my iPhone, on the commuter train home. Yes, it was that urgent. In the dark commuting reality of the day, I realised the craziness of it all.

But then… it haunted me. I felt defeatist. Like I’d just given up on the idea of that healthy pizza. So… last night I went to the supermarket and picked up a cauliflower (as well as enough pizza toppings to disguise the taste lest it turn out as badly as I had expected it might).

I made it. I ate it. Every last bit. And not because I heard the voices of the school dinner ladies telling me I ought, not because I heard my mother’s voice telling me it was good for me. I ate it because…. it was yummy. Really, truly, scrumptiously yummy.

cauliflower

Gluten-free cauliflower based pizza

(recipe, barely adapted from atalovestory.com)

For the crust:
1 medium sized cauliflower, grated or shredded
1 egg
150g goat’s cream cheese
For the tomato sauce:
1 onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
400g tinned plum tomatoes
fresh basil, handful
pizza toppings of your choice

1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas6 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2. To make the crust, add the cauliflower to a pot of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, then wrap in a teatowel and squeeze out any excess water.

3. In a bowl, mix the grated cauliflower with the cream cheese and egg, and season.

4. Spread the cauliflower mix across the baking tray and shape if you wish. Bake for approximately 30mins, or until firm and golden.

5. Whilst the crusts are baking, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and saute. Add teh garlic and stir briefly, then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for about 20mins.

6. When the crusts are ready, spoon the tomato sauce over the top and spread evenly. Add toppings as desired (here I used baby spinach, parma ham, mushrooms, red peppers and mozzarella).

7. Bake for about 10mins until the cheese is golden/ toppings are just done.

pizza

 

Shortlisted!

This calls for cake.

Fork_0051

Some weeks ago a friend of mine drew my attention to the Taste Master job and said “this has your name all over it”. The widely advertised ‘Best Jobs in the World’ promotion by Tourism Australia was certainly creating some buzz.

When I finally got around to putting my always opining, often unhelpful, rational mind to one side, my heart had a chance to be heard; and, to agree with my friend. And so, I submitted an entry.

Late last night, just before my head hit the pillow, I checked my iPhone for new email messages. To receive the ‘ping’ of e-communication highlighting that 600,000 applicants had submitted entries for the World’s Best Job and that I had made the top 25 shortlist was surreal to say the least. It still is… my heart is peering smugly up at my disbelieving head. It is however, true. I’m on the shortlist. Woop!

Oh, yes. Cake. I wouldn’t leave you without something scrumptious to eat… let there be cake!

Carrot Cake

Ingredients

250g soft brown sugar
120ml vegetable oil
250g ground almonds
250g grated carrots
3 eggs

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.

2. Mix together the sugar and oil, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine. Stir in the almond flour and the carrots.

3. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 50mins to 1hour until the top has turned golden brown and is firm to touch.

 And let’s not pretend I didn’t eat it straight from the oven tray. I totally did.

CarrotCake_0061

Black Salsify Fritters

Black Salsify

Trust Hugh-Fearnley to know what to do with black salsify. When said vegetable turned up in my veg box delivery, it looked like some accidental packing of mud and roots alongside my beautiful red pepper and fresh fennel. Salsify really isn’t the prettiest of vegetables (but then again neither is sweet potato and that tastes like heaven on a plate). I found this recipe for fritters and decided that it had ‘bruncheon’ written all over it. Especially on a Saturday whereby my diary shows ‘downtime’.

Such an exciting prospect, downtime. I came to some slow and painful realisations: that if I didn’t actually diarise time for myself, I wouldn’t get it; that scheduling sleep is infinitely better than perpetually complaining of fatigue, and that rest is a necessity, not an indulgence.

It’s all too easy to be fooled into thinking that activity equates to motion; to some forward movement of our lives. But running on a hamster wheel doesn’t get one very far, it simply gets one very tired. And speaking for myself, running is an easy smokescreen I create to avoid looking at what I really need to, running is being too busy to take the actions that actually make a difference.

So whilst luxuriating into a restful and pensive weekend, I made these fritters. I’m not going to pretend they were quick and easy to make, nor that the washing, peeling and coarse grating wasn’t laborious. It was. But, oh so worth it. After making and eating these fritters, I lay back on the sofa and stared out of the window, for about an hour. I can’t promise the same soporific effect of the ‘downtime drug’ that these fritters induced for me, but I’m willing to bet that you’ll like them, they are just too awesome.

Fritters Mix

Black Salsify Fritters

A Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall recipe, adapted

Ingredients

300g salsify
45g butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small red chilli, finely diced
3 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp buckwheat (HFW uses flour)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Method

Peel and coarsely grate the salsify. Warm some of the butter in a frying pan and sauté the salsify until softened. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the garlic, chilli, coriander, egg and flour. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using your hands, form the mixture into six fritters. Warm the remaining butter and the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and cook the fritters until golden, about four minutes a side. I love to eat this with bacon and homemade mayonnaise. Yum.

Frying Fritters

Truly, Madly, Sweetly

The inner sugar fiend lives on… unscathed by the detox.

This morning, for breakfast, I craved an entire chocolate torte. With smooth Italian cappuccino. And a cosy corner. And a good book. Instead I had chia seeds. Rice milk. Fruit. And commuter train delays. Hm. Work so got in the way.

pear

It’s like, my inner sugar monster is trying to be appeased with an apple when she wants candy. She isn’t fooled. She just, isn’t. Do you remember when you were a kid and your teacher said “come here dear, let’s go and play outside”, just to distract you from playing with the colouring pens that you so weren’t allowed to play with? Yeah. It’s a bit like that.

green n blacks

 As you know, from the healthy goings-on in my kitchen, I am not averse to eating well. Not at all. I love steeped chia seeds. And steamed vegetables. And brown rice milk. I do, but those things never negate my super sweet love affair with chocolate….

chocolate pile

I feel a chocolate truffle themed recipe coming along. Watch this space.

Sweet Potato and Spinach Frittata with Basil Oil

Do you ever have go-to dishes? Those meals that you know you can rustle up easily, using the contents of your cupboard, and be wholly satisfied and fulfilled both because you’ve been well fed and because you haven’t exerted much effort or time in doing so? If I had one such dish, this frittata would be it. I initially read about it in the Guilt Free Gourmet cookbook, where cavolo nero is used. I don’t always have cavolo nero and other such wonderful greens readily accessible at my greengrocers, so I have found baby spinach or chard to be great substitutes. And the dish has since been added to my repertoire of go-to dishes. It’s packed full of wonderful greens, vegetables and colours which makes it a culinary delight to devour with all of one’s senses. And it’s a good thing, too, because when I arrive home late from work some nights, tired, cold and in need of comforting, it is dishes like this that lift my spirits and stop me from eating ice cream sandwiches for supper (yep, it has happened).

Roasted Veg

Sweet Potato and Spinach Frittata with Basil Oil
adapted from Guilt Free Gourmet)

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into wedges
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 small red onions, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes (or a few cherry tomatoes)
Bunch of spinach / chard/ cavalo nero, washed and roughly chopped
6 medium eggs
Bunch of basil
1 garlic clove

Method

Preheat oven to 180C (or preheat grill).

Toss the potatoes, onions and tomatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper. Roast in the oven for 30mins or until all the vegetables are very soft.

If using cavolo nero or chard, be sure to remove the stalks. If using spinach (I love to use baby spinach, keep the leaves whole), blanch in salted water for 1-2 mins, drain and move to a large gently heated frying pan. Add the roasted veg to the pan too.

Crack and beat the eggs and season well. Pour over the vegetables in the frying pan. Using a medium to high heat, allow the egg to cook on the stove for a few minutes. When you can see that the edges have cooked, move the pan into the over/ or under the grill for a further five minutes, or until you can see that all the egg is cooked through.

Finely chop the basil and garlic and combine with 6 tbsp olive oil to make a loose basil oil. Drizzle over the frittata and serve with salad.

Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an anytime awesome snack!

Grilled Frittata

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

I’ve just eaten my twelfth one. And why not. Twelve hours ago, I started breakfast with one of these teasing bites of ‘eat me now’ butter cups, I figured, why not complete the day with one.

almond butter cups halved

It was Kat’s birthday at the weekend (the same Kat that bullied …oops I mean “encouraged” me to start this blog). So, naturally, I wanted to make something to taste-test. Having seen her consume peanut butter Reeses at an impressive rate, I had an inkling of what to make when I saw this recipe for ‘dark chocolate almond butter cups’ by Sprouted Kitchen’s Sara Forte. Spot on.

birthday note

cups

I set about, making them last night (totally underestimating how long it would take to fill those tiny cases, and being forced to drizzle spoonfuls of melted chocolate into my mouth at midnight, in the interests of ‘saving time’). Refrigerated them overnight, and the tub went straight into my handbag this morning. It may have slightly opened itself on its commute to the office.

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups, from Sprouted Kitchen

In place of the powdered sugar, I used all honey.

200g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solid
1/2 cup natural almond butter
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp powdered sugar (or an extra tbsp honey)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine grain salt
sea salt flakes for topping

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, over a pan of simmering water.

melted chocolate

Lay out the miniature cases. Spoon some chocolate into the bottom of each of the cases (how much will depend on the size of the case, but for mine I needed about half a tsp. Twist the case around so as to coat the sides with chocolate.

work in progress

Mix the almond butter, honey, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt together. Take about tsp of the mix and form a small ball in your hands. Gently press it into the centre of a case, and repeat. Once all the cases are filled, spoon some melted chocolate on top of each almond butter ball until it is completely covered. Sprinkle a flake or two of sea salt on top of each one and chill in the fridge to set.

semi filled cups

Share. Or, don’t. Just eat them. All of them. All by yourself.

Happy Birthday Kat.

almond butter cups

Sweet n Spicy Bramley Stuffed Mushrooms

Seven years ago, I walked out of my corporate job, into the nearest Trailfinders travel agency, and booked myself a round-the-world ticket. Two weeks later, I was at the airport, with one backpack, one ticket and one dream: to travel, free-spirited, unconstrained by time or any notion of post graduation normative values of what I ought to be doing. It worked. I returned, several months later, tanned, fatter, a better photographer and published author. Today, after work, I rediscovered the same sense of adventure, walking into a travel agency and planning a road trip along the U.S. west coast. Woop. Anyone up for joining me?

Oh. And I made these, to submit to a ‘readers recipe swap’ competition:

stuffed mushrooms

Sweet n Spicy Bramley Stuffed Mushrooms

(a recipe from my mum)

Ingredients
mushrooms: 6 small closed cup mushrooms or 3 large flat ones (you can use any type of mushroom you like here, so long as the stalk is removable to reveal an area for stuffing). (keep the stalks for the stuffing).
1 medium sized bramley apple
breadcrumbs (freshly made, using one slice of bread, toasted)
1cm stick of ginger
1/2 cup fresh coriander
1/2 red chili, de-seeded
squeeze of fresh lemon, to taste

Method:

Place everything but the mushrooms into a food processor and blitz until you have a chunky mix.

mushroom stuffing

Place the mushrooms upturned, onto a lined baking tray. Spoon the stuffing into the hollow of the mushrooms (where the stalks have been removed), and press in a little.

Place in oven at 150C for 30-40 minutes until the tops of the stuffing are starting to brown and crisp.

Best eaten hot. Great as a canape or starter. As a teen, I recall my mother making something akin to this, and it being a family favourite. I hope my own version is just as popular. Thanks mum. Love you.

mushroom plate

Mind to Mouth Macaroons

So. Pride got wiped off my smug sugar-free face today, by something the size of a 50 pence coin. Yeah. Sat in the office, post gym workout, unassumingly munching on my mid afternoon treat of wholegrain rice thins with avocado, when I overhear talk of homemade macaroons. Now, ordinarily this kind of talk has my mind, mouth and heart drooling with desire. However, three weeks into my detox, I’m unphased, as I bite into another huge chunk of avocado. Mmm, yum.

And then, it happens. Jade walks over with a box of chocolate orange macaroons “would you like Macaroonone?”. What happened next occured in slow motion; my hand (I insist through no volition of my own) suddenly reached out to take one, I hear Emma’s voice “no Asha, you can’t! what about your detox?!”, but the voice was more like a blurry noise, from some distant place. The next thing I’m aware of is a phenomenal sensation in my mouth, an amalgamation of delicious sweetness, dark cocoa, soft orange, strong desire and absolute admiration. “oh my gosh, I cannot believe you just did that”, says Emma. Half a macaroon still in my hand, I put it down, still in disbelief myself that I ‘just did that’, but more than disbelief, there was a sense of guilt, wrongdoing, badness.

Before a degree of self berating ensued, it occurred to me: we can be so disciplined about what we put into our mouths, but what about what we feed our minds?

The relentless inner critic does far greater damage to my health than does half a spoonful of sugar (or any other food for that matter). That notion of ‘being bad’ that we are taught from an early age, such that we strive to be ‘good’. I realised that my detox is far more about being good than it is about being healthy. Even my latest favourite recipe book is titled ‘Guilt Free Gourmet’. What?! Shouldn’t all of life be guilt free?

So, does this mean I am shovelling large quantities of cocoa into my tummy again? No. I’m still eating well. But as a natural functioning of a healthy body/mind, as opposed to some castigatory punishment for all the indulgent foods that normally take precedence in my diet. If the detox served only to bring me to that one insight, then it was worthwhile. Thanks Jade.

Here’s to happy munching. Always.

 

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.

chia-seedschard

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:

moodycow_0388

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….

baked-kale_0151

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….

mixmess0044

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)

datesberriesnuts0033

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).

rawmix0037

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