Salads…definitely not boring

I overheard someone the other day saying that they found salads boring. This made me feel a little sad. With such a diversity of flavours and endless possibilities of combinations how can salads become boring? I thought the days of  salads comprised of iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato had long since passed. Seemingly not.

I have a simple formula for my salads: green leaf, 3 or more additions – ideally different colours and a dressing – preferably with one ingredient that is a fermented food. Often one ingredient that is hot e.g.roasted butternut squash

Different dressings I make:  (a splash of each in to a small jar and shaken)

Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), apple cider vinegar and olive oil

Tahini, apple cider vinegar and tamari

Peanut butter and apple cider vinegar

Avocado oil drizzle

Lime juice and olive oil

Here are a selection of the salads we have eaten over the last couple of weeks:

A                                                        B

A: papaya, roasted butternut squash, watercress, olives, tomatoes and olive oil and lime dressing

B: Beetroot houmous and chia seed oatcakes with avocado, tomatoes, olives and watercress

A                                                          B

A: Apricot, pomegranate seeds, mange tout, houmous, tomatoes, olives and rocket with avocado oil drizzle

B:Tomatoes, mange tout, yellow pepper, watercress and houmous – no dressing

A                                                         B

A: peas shoots, watercress, avocado, tomatoes and mange tout with olive oil, tamari and apple cider vinegar dressing

B: shredded carrots, red and white cabbage, hen and quail eggs, avocado, tomatoes and houmous with drizzle of olive oil

A                                                         B

A: rocket, watercress, avocado, apricot, roasted butternut squash with peanut butter and apple cider vinegar dressing

B: carrot sticks, houmous, mango, tomatoes, avocado, beetroot and avocado oil drizzle.

…definitely not boring!!

What is your favourite salad combination?

Simnel Cake (gf)

A deliciously rich fruit cake with the hidden yumminess of 2 layers of marzipan

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Grease and line an 20 cm deep cake tin. Preheat oven to Gas mark 2 / 150 C

Ingredients:

675 g dried fruit – I use a combination of sultanas, raisins, currants, mixed peel and a handful of glace cherries (washed, cut in half and dried.

225 g plain gluten-free flour

160 g butter – softened

150 g muscovado sugar

5 eggs (4 if using non gf flour)

500 g marzipan (if I have time or the inclination I make my own but shop bought works just as well) split in to 4. 3 pieces rolled out to the size of the cake tin diameter and 1 piece divided in to 11 balls

Apricot jam – optional

Method:

Put all the ingredients ( except dried fruit and marzipan) in to a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the fruit and stir until completely mixed.

Put 1/3 of the mixture in to the cake tin and level. Add one of the marzipan circles. Add the second 1//3 of the cake mixture, level and place another marzipan circle on top. Finally add the final 1/3 of the cake mixture. Level and place in the cool oven for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. When a skewer comes out clean increase the oven temperature to Gas Mark 4 / 180 C and cook for  10 mins to allow the cake to turn a rich brown colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.

Once cool, remove and cover the top of the cake with the marzipan circle (some people use an apricot jam glaze as ‘glue’ – I don’t find this necessary). Place the 11 marzipan balls on top. Using a grill or blow torch (much more fun!) heat the marzipan until it bubbles and turns brown on the top.

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Rocky road

Decadent treat to have with a cup of coffee or tea. Really quick and easy to make. I love a recipe that doesn’t need scales. I always use the same basic ingredients – plain and milk chocolate,  marshmallows  and digestive biscuits ( gluten-free or wheat). To these I vary what I add. For this post I used dried apricots and cranberries. Sometimes I use pistachios and other dried fruits.

Ingredients:

100 g plain chocolate 80+%          10-12 biscuits roughly broken

100 g milk chocolate                Packet of Marshmallows roughly chopped

Cup full of cranberries             Cup full of chopped apricots

Method:

Melt the chocolate and add the dry ingredients  and mix up till all coated with chocolate. If excess chocolate, add more biscuits.  Lightly press in to a tin lined with cling film and put into the fridge. Once chilled, cut in to pieces.

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Raw cranberry sauce

No cooking involved.

Ingredients:

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300 g fresh cranberries    1 large orange        grated nutmeg

80 g muscovado sugar     1 tsp mixed spice

Method:

Peel and coarsely  chop the orange. Put the orange pieces and cranberries in to a food processor and blitz.  Add all the remaining ingredients  and mix thoroughly .

This freezes well. Delicious with hot turkey, pork and also with cheeses.

Breakfast muffin (gluten free)

One of my daughters is always dashing around, frequently doesn’t have breakfast and often ‘picks something up’ on the way in to work when she gets her daily caffeine hit.

I know you can buy breakfast bars etc. but when I have looked at the ingredients I can’t really say I would want to start my day in this way.

So, I had a session experimenting at the weekend and created a muffin – full of breakfast  ingredients. Tasty, filling and nutritious.

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Makes 9

Preheat oven to 180c / Gas 4       Lightly grease a muffin tin

Ingredients:

1 cup of rolled oats      1 cup of milk           2 eggs (1 if using non gf flour)

1 cup of gf plain flour    1tsp baking powder   1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup coconut sugar / muscavado sugar       1/2 cup stewed apple    1/2 cup raisins

Method:

Put the oats, milk and eggs in a bowl. Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Finally add the sugar, apple and raisins. Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

I served them with Greek yoghurt and a dollop of apples sauce.

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…my daughter took a couple to test – had them for ‘breakfast on the go’ – thumbs up from her 🙂

Seasons

Chatting with a friend the other day, we started to discuss the seasons – random I know – and tried to pick a favourite.

I found this really difficult but in doing this task I realised that my love of the different seasons revolves around food choices!

Spring: I love spring – the fresh colours – vibrant greens of new buds, blossom laden trees – replaced with fruit in the autumn, blankets of yellow for daffodils. Planting of vegetables under glass ready for the frosts to stop. Hens, ducks and quail come back in to lay.

Summer: fruit sorbets / nice cream. Arrays of salad vegetables. New potatoes…yum

Autumn: the amazing palette of colours and the trees enter their quiescent phase for the winter. This is when I really wish I could paint. With autumn comes such a marvellous bounty of fruits and vegetables and the sound of the tractors harvesting wheat, barley, maize. hay for the animals etc. Nights turning cooler – one pot suppers / casseroles / fruit crumbles  /  jam/ liqueur and chutney making / freezer filling.

and then there is winter…curtains closing early, log fires burning, mulled wine, fruit cakes, mince pies, rich food and of course – family gatherings.

If I had to choose one…probably  autumn.

How about you?

 

 

Lemon and poppy seed gf cake 

Prepare a 2 lb/ 900 g loaf tin

Preheat the oven to 180c / gas mark 5

Ingredients:

170 g Self raising gluten-free flour      120 g light muscavado sugar    2 or 3 tbsp poppy seeds

140 g softened butter          4 eggs ( 3 if using non gf flour)    1 tsp baking powder

Juice and rind of 2 lemons – juice of 1/2 lemon for cake and 1 1/2 for drizzle topping

80 g sugar for topping (mix the sugar and lemon from 1 1/2 lemons together)

Method:

Put all of the ingredients for the cake (except lemon juice, rind and poppy seeds) in to a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon rind, juice from half a lemon and poppy seeds and combine. Put mixture in to the prepared tin and bake for about 35 mins – until skewer is clean.

Whilst the cake is still hot and in the tin spoon the lemon/sugar mixture all over the top of the cake. Once cool, remove the cake from the tin.