Category Archives: Healthy eating

Sunshine food – Quesadillas

Quesadillas are something which I like to eat when I fancy a bit of sunshine –  I love them because they’re bursting with fresh and healthy ingredients and taste phenomenal for it. They’re also excellent barbecue fare for vegetarians. This is a recipe that I picked up from the excellent Otto Lenghi book ‘Plenty’ a few years ago and have written to my memory, making it time and time again.

INGREDIENTS
(makes 8 quesadillas – sometimes less depending on how generously you fill them!)

1 pack of corn tortillas (the brand ‘Discovery’ do these in the UK – I always find they have them in Waitrose and make special trips to stock up on these!) – however, normal flour based ones will do the job too though if there is a corn tortilla deficit

SALSA
2 ripe avocados
5 large ripe tomatoes (or lots of little ones, though these make the salsa a bit sweeter)
Half a red onion
3 spring onions (or thereabouts)
Juice of 1 lime
Crushed clove of garlic
1 fresh red chilli (finely diced)
pinch of salt
1 bunch of fresh coriander
2 tbsps cider/white wine vinegar

BEAN PASTE
1 tin of black beans (or equivalent in soaked weight)
1 bunch of fresh coriander (I often use  just one between the salsa and bean paste and add a little more ground coriander as my student budget prefers this)
1 tsp ground coriander
half a tsp ground cumin
quarter tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
Juice of a lime

GARNISHES
Soured cream (enough for a blob in each tortilla)
Grated cheddar (enough for a sprinkling on each tortilla)
Chopped jalapeno peppers  – also for sprinkling in the tortillas (the kind that come in vinegar in jars)

Chop the ends off the red onion, peel and then cut in half down the centre. Very finely slice this half to get neat little semi-circle slithers of onion. Place these in a large bowl (everything else will also go in here eventually) and mix with the vinegar. Then dice and slice all of the other salsa ingredients, finely chopping the leaves and stalks of the coriander and put these all in the bowl too. This is probably the most time consuming bit of the dish but well worth it!

For the bean paste, put all of the bean paste ingredients in a food processor and blend to form a lovely tasty paste.

Put a griddle pan (or failing that, a frying pan) on a good high heat whilst assembling the first 2 (unless you get several pans on the go, these cook 2 at a time). To assemble, put the tortilla on a plate, take a spoonful of the bean paste and spread it on the tortilla, leaving a good cm or two round the edge. Dollop some soured cream (or creme fraiche) in the middle of this in a little circle and then put a spoonful or two of salsa on. It’s best to go easy with the salsa otherwise it all ends up on the griddle pan which is rather upsetting. I find it’s generally better to serve it up with an extra spoonful of the stuff than overfill it and risk loosing it between the cavernous ridges of the griddle pan.

Once the salsa is on, sprinkle on some cheese and jalapenos then fold the tortilla gently in half  and put it on the hot griddle. Turn the griddle down to a medium heat so you don’t set the whole thing on fire and wait until the edges start turning the tiniest bit browned then flip the tortilla carefully and repeat (a few minutes on each side). If using a griddle this should result in lovely dark griddle lines across the tortillas.

I find that two of these alone is a good substantial lunch and one/two of these with a rice salad or some home made oven chips  is a substantial dinner.

Hannah

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‘Clay pot’ sea bass with ginger and lemongrass

I have been feeling unwell for a few days and have been fancying something light and fresh and uplifting – soul food really. One of my absolute favourite places to eat in Sheffield is the Vietnamese restaurant ‘Pho 68’ because they do an incredible clay pot sea bass dish which never fails to uplift so it was with this in mind that I dreamt up this evening’s supper which is not only incredibly delicious (honestly, even if I say so myself!) but is also remarkably healthy for something so tasty.

Ingredients (serves 3/ 4)

2 Whole sea bass, gutted and with heads removed
A great big thumb of fresh root ginger
Several spring onions
2 stalks of fresh lemon grass
4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
Juice of 4 limes
400 mls of stock (preferably chicken stock. Vegetable stock is okay but try to use a reduced salt version as the soy sauce is salty enough!)
A pinch of sugar
Half a cucumber
Bunch of coriander

You will also need either a clay pot or some kind of oven suitable dish with a lid (I am using a creuset dish).
Heat the oven to 220 degrees and if you are using a genuine clay pot, put it to soak in cold water for 20 minutes.

Top and tail the lemon grass stalks and bruise them with something like a rolling pin to bring out the wonderful heady scent. Finely slice the lemon grass, spring onions and ginger in thin strips of about an inch or two in length. Lay half of this in the bottom of the dish you will be using. Wash the fish under a tap, checking the scales have all been removed. Score the fish deeply along its width on both sides several times and rub them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then place the fish on top of the finely sliced ingredients in the dish. Place the rest of the sliced ingredients on top of the fish and turn to preparing the sauce.

In a separate bowl combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, stock and sugar and pour this over the fish and chopped vegetables. Put a lid on and place this in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sea bass is white and falling away from the bone in moist flakes. Chop the cucumber in the same way that you chopped the rest of the vegetables but slightly thicker and place this in with the sea bass for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time. Coarsely chop the coriander and sprinkle this across the dish to serve. Serve with rice, preferably fluffy steamed jasmine rice (just watch out for bones! If you are not a fan of filleting your fish as you eat it or serve it, I’m sure this recipe would work fine with fillets too – just watch you don’t overcook them!)

Enjoy! For quantities and particularly for the sauce, I based this recipe on one from Nigel Slater’s ‘the kitchen diaries’  – a version in which he steams the sea bass Nigel Slater calls this a ‘soothing supper’ which I can certainly attest to. The wonderful intensity of flavours in this dish is remarkable and incredibly rewarding given the relatively short amount of kitchen time needed – it has certainly served its function as soul food.

Hannah

DIY Pot Noodle

Taken from the River Cottage Veg: Everyday! book, this recipe is a fantastic lunch or dinner solution for me when I’m in the studio late and need sustenance. Endless variations, with noodles as well as the veg and flavours to choose from, rice noodles are particularly good. My variation included bits I had in the fridge, mushrooms, spring onions, kale, fennel and some frozen peas. Hugh suggests a Kilner for the pot, I used my Aladin Bento box, separating the wet from the dry ingredients in the compartments.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s DIY ‘pot’ noodles

“I first experimented with these when I was looking at ways to improve workday lunches.  However the concept works equally well as a fast and very satisfying supper. It’s important to find the right kind of noodle – one that will soften nicely in boiling water from the kettle without the need for pan-cooking. I find flat, thin, quick-cook egg noodles fit the bill very well. The ‘pot’ should be covered once the water is added…with this in mind, a sealable heatproof jar, such as a kilner, is ideal.

1 nest thin, quick-cook egg noodles

1tsp vegetable bouillon powder

A big pinch of soft brown sugar

1 small carrot, peeled and very finely sliced

3-4 spring onions, finely sliced

6 sugar snap peas or frozen petit pots

1 leaf of spring greens/green cabbage/leaves pak choi, shredded

1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1/2 garlic clove, grated

1/4 red or green chilli, finely chopped

2 tsp soy sauce

juice of 1/2 a lime

Put all the ingredients, except the soy sauce and the lime, in a ‘pot’. Pour over boiling water to cover, and leave for 8-10 minutes covered. Stir, add the soy sauce and lime juice to taste and eat. ”

Catriona


Broccoli Winter Salad

A few weeks ago I found myself wanting something really fresh and garlicky and inspired by an earlier discovery of raw sprout salad, I decided to give raw broccoli a go, this is the resulting salad, made up largely of what happened to be around and it really seems to work – it’s certainly made my tastebuds happy. I found myself fancying this for lunch today, so am currently eating a big bowl of this salad whilst I type.

Serves 1

A very large handful of quite small Broccoli florets
A Handful of Cherry Tomatoes, or to taste
A Lump of Stilton Cheese (other cheese will do too)
Seeds – Pumpkin or sunflower
Curly Kale
Avocado
A clove of garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt
Bread for croutons (optional)
Chilli (optional)

The ‘cooking’ part of this is more of an assembly –

1. Broccoli – This is lovely with completely raw broccoli but if you don’t fancy that or if your broccolis not looking at its best, I find that a very quick blanch in boiling water for no more than 1 minute leaves in crunchy but easier to eat. Be sure to run cold water over the broccoli the minute you drain it to stop the cooking process straight away and avoid soggy broccoli. The broccoli florets should be quite small – small enough that in a salad, you could spear broccoli and a taste of something else on your fork and still get it in your mouth!

2. Cherry tomatoes – quarter these to give nice little sweet hits throughout the salad.

3. Stilton – chop up very fine, the stilton adds nice little salty savoury touches to the salad – other types of cheese work great too – I sometimes have cheddar instead if there’s no stilton in the fridge.

4. Seeds – Toast these gently over a medium-low heat in a frying pan, being sure to move around regularly to avoid burning. After a few minutes they should begin to change colour and toast up nicely

5. Curly Kale – Tear the most tender and small looking bits up to give little penny sized bits of kale. Don’t cook this at all – as long as you go for only nice leafy bits (and no stalk) its really lovely raw. Don’t forget to wash it though!

6. Avocado – Chop smallish but not too small – do this last to stop it browning before you eat it!

7. Croutons – Chop bread into nice dainty chunks, coat in olive oil and seasoning and bake or grill until crispy. Make sure to check on these and turn them as required otherwise its easy to end up with a very burnt side and a not very cooked side on each crouton!!

8. Dressing – combine lemon juice, crushed garlic (about half a clove is plenty for 1 person), a good glug of olive oil (the amount of olive oil to put in should be roughly twice the amount of lemon juice) and add the sea salt and black pepper. If you like a chilli kick, add either finely chopped chilli to taste or a splash of tobasco at this stage.

9. Assembly – Mix together everything except the croutons, put in a nice wide bowl and sprinkle the croutons over the top.

Enjoy!

Hannah