These are super easy sweet bites that need no cooking! Make them small as I did for an after dinner treat or bigger and they could double as a light dessert.
I used frozen blackberries, but raspberries or strawberries would be great too.
The “sherbet” part comes from sprinkling them with freeze dried raspberry powder. If you can’t get hold of any, they are equally delicious just rolled in coconut or chopped nuts. Or you could even roll in more chocolate, grated!
40g dark chocolate
100g frozen berries slightly thawed
80g rolled oats
1 tablespoon golden syrup
40g coconut oil
60g shredded coconut
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Freeze dried raspberry powder
Ground pistachios (optional)
Take the chocolate and chop into squares or small pieces. Place in a ziplock bag and bash using a mallet or similar into chocolate rubble.
Place the berries, oats, golden syrup, coconut oil, 40g of the coconut, sesame seeds and chocolate in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Cover with cling wrap. Place in the fridge for several hours or until mixture is stiff enough to roll into balls.
Roll large teaspoon portions of mixture into balls. Roll in remaining coconut to lightly coat.
Sprinkle with freeze dried raspberry powder for the sherbet effect.
If using, sprinkle some ground pistachios over as well. It’s nice to do a few this way.
You will need to store these in the fridge. They should keep in an airtight container for a week or more.
Everyone loves banana bread! But the banana bread you get in cafes is really banana cake – too sweet and too “cakey” in texture! I picked up this recipe from a television show Hemsley +Hemsley: Healthy and Delicious. The Helmsley sisters cook food that is natural and healthy – grain, gluten and refined sugar free.
This banana bread is made with coconut flour and coconut oil. The sweetness comes from the bananas and some treacle and golden syrup. It does have 3 eggs. The bread cuts into 12 slices easily, so I think that distributes the extra calories quite well!
It’s a much healthier bread than the usual sweet and cake-like cafe offerings.
As usual I made my version with a few tweaks. You could really add anything you like – nuts or seeds would be great, and honey would be a great sweetener too. The treacle in my version gave a lovely, malty flavour and rich dark colour.
And it’s a throw-in-the-food-processor recipe so it takes no time to prepare.
One more thing – it keeps forever! It doesn’t dry out, and keeps really moist.
350g or 3 medium size bananas, mashed
60g coconut flour
1 /2 tbs cinnamon
1 pinch salt
3 free-range eggs
50g coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tsp bi-carbonate of soda
1 tbs apple cider vineagr
1/2 tbs treacle
1/2 tbs golden syrup
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Put all the ingredients (except the golden syrup) into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Spoon into the prepared tin. Drizzle over the golden syrup onto the top of the mixture.
Bake for 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely before turning out of the tin.
I served my banana bread with cashew butter and fresh figs. The bread is quite sweet, so the cashew butter works well. Peanut, or any nut butter would be fine.
I am trying to eat more protein and I think it’s good to eat more protein from sources other than meat. So I got inspired on the weekend to go down the lentil path. I’m not that keen on lentils, but lentils in the form of dhal takes them from bland to spicy and very tasty!
The idea for this dish came from watching the hilarious series from Jamie Oliver “Keep Cooking and Carry On”. Jamie made the series in lockdown last year and it’s hilarious as most of the episodes are Jamie cooking at home, filmed on an iPhone with his kids helping (or hindering) the process!
One dish from the show was an eggplant (aubergine) dhal. So I got motivated to make my own version of a tasty dhal dish.
The recipe is pretty easy as I’m using bought curry simmer sauce, so no need for extensive ingredients. It’s a one pot dish too, as you roast the vegetables and then cook the lentils in the one pot or dish. Roasting the veggies has the advantage of giving the dhal a nutty, caramelised flavour.
And my genius if slightly unconventional accompaniments of hard boiled eggs, yoghurt and chutney really make the dish!
Approximately 2 cups cut pumpkin – about half of a small pumpkin or butternut squash
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup of any good curry simmer sauce or 3 tablespoons of curry paste*
250g any lentils (I used 200g red lentils with 50g split peas as that’s all I had)
1 litre boiling water
400g tin whole tomatoes – cherry tomatoes if you can get them
A handful of fresh cherry tomatoes
2 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon mango chutney
Basil leaves or any other herb
*Any sauce or paste is ok – Rogan Josh, Butter Chicken, Korma, Tikka Masala or Tandoori.
Peel the pumpkin and chop into small chunks. Peel the onions and roughly chop. Put the pumpkin and onions into a heavy based pan. Make sure this pan can be used on the stove top and that it has a lid.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Pour over the oil and the simmer sauce (or curry paste). Roughly mix everything together.
Put the pan into the oven lid off and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft and the onions are caramelised.
Remove from the oven. Take about half of the roast pumpkin and onions and put into another dish and cover with foil.
Stir the lentils and roast veggies into the boiling water. Add the tinned tomatoes.
Put the pan onto the stovetop on a medium heat. Add the lentils to the pan and the litre of boiling water. Note: if you used curry paste rather than simmer sauce you will need to addanother 250 mls or so of water.
Turn the heat to low and simmer the mixture with the lid on, until the lentils are soft and the dhal has thickened, about an hour. It’s hard to say exact how long – you will know when the lentils are cooked and really soft. Add a bit more water if the dhal is too thick or it’s sticking to the pan.
Once the dhal is cooked, remove from the heat. Check the seasoning. If you want it hotter, you could add some chilli flakes or even a spoonful of curry taste.
Stir in the rest of the roasted pumpkin and onion that you put aside. Or you can just place them on top of the dhal without stirring them in.
Serve as is or you could add the extras I used – fresh cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs scattered with chilli flakes, some Greek yoghurt and mango chutney. Scatter the dhal with basil leaves or any other fresh herb you have on hand.
In Australia, we have a love/hate relationship with the humble choko. To be more precise, there’s probably more of a “hate” thing going on!
The choko, or chayote, a native of South America, is a plant belonging to the gourd family. Chayote was one of several foods introduced to Europe by the Spanish explorers.
It’s the subject of many jokes here, some based on its “bland” flavour and others because last century it grew riotously in backyards over septic tanks and outdoor dunnies!
One of the wonderful exercise physiologists at my gym has a problem: what to do with a huge crop of chokos growing over his fence. I decided to take up the challenge and devise a tasty recipe for his chokos.
This is a versatile and easy way to cook chokos and can be made into your own dish depending on your choice of fillings.
The basic idea is to fry some ingredients and stuff these into choko halves which have been boiled in salted water to an (almost) cooked state. The stuffed chokos with some grated Parmesan are baked in the oven till the chokos are soft and the filling bubbling.
The recipe is for one choko – double, triple or quadruple the recipe depending on the number of chokos you are stuffing.
1 choko, halved
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil + a glug
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder or paste, or to taste
1/2 cup ham or 2 rashers of bacon, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
1 slice of sourdough bread or similar
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Place the choko halves in a big saucepan in the stovetop and cover with water. Add the salt and bring to the boil. Cook on a medium to high heat till the chokos are softened but not completely cooked, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and strain. Pat the choko halves dry with paper towel.
While the chokos are cooking, make the filling. Heat a frying pan over medium heat on the stovetop and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic and onion pieces till brown, making sure they don’t burn.
Add the chilli powder or paste and cook, stirring, for another minute.
Add the ham or bacon pieces, stir, and fry till they are just crisp. Add the corn kernels and stir into the mixture. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Add a smell glug of olive oil and add a slice of sourdough bread torn into little pieces. Cook until the bread pieces are just crisp.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or 180 degrees C fan.
To stuff the choko, place each half in a baking dish and sprinkle the inside of both halves liberally with sea salt and black pepper. Spoon the filling into both halves. Top each half with the grated Parmesan cheese.
Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 20 minutes to half an hour until the choko halves are soft to the touch, the filling is bubbling and the cheese topping is brown.
Serve on their own or with a salad.
You could use almost any filling you like – leave out the ham/ bacon for a vegetarian dish and add beans or lentils, or add other vegetables apart from corn like tomatoes, celery or zucchini. You probably need the onion or garlic for flavour. And add a whole lot more of any kind of cheese for “ cheesy” chokos!
This beef dish has to be one of the easiest things you can make and full of flavour! I made it last week for Pancake Tuesday celebrations, as a savoury filling for pancakes. Pancakes stuffed with this beef mix were filling and very tasty. Of course it goes well with rice, pasta, polenta or just on its own! Kidney beans add both bulk and flavour to the dish too. Serve it with extra fresh chilli on the side, sour cream or some grated cheese if you’re going Mexican.
You can throw this dish together provided you have some minced beef, as pretty much everything else would be pantry staples.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
500g good quality beef mince
1 teaspoon chilli paste or chilli powder
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 x 400g tin of kidney beans
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
Fresh chillies, sour cream, cherry tomatoes, grated cheese, parsley or coriander to serve
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Chop the onion finely, and fry over a medium heat until slightly softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add the beef mince in small spoonfuls, breaking it up so that it cooks evenly. Fry until all the mince is brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chilli paste or powder.
Add the chopped tomatoes, half a tin of water using the chopped tomato tin as a measure and the tomato purée. Drain the kidney beans and add to the frying pan. Season with salt and black pepper. Bring the mixture back to the boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced and has thickened. If the mixture looks too dry, add a splash or two of water.
Once cooked, serve straight away with some of the above accompaniments, or keep in the fridge for a day or so to serve later. It also freezes well.
You could easily double or triple the quantities to serve a crowd or batch freeze for later consumption.
Fritters, savoury pancakes, dumplings and gnocchi. All good vegetarian options involving egg and cheese and/or flour and a hero ingredient or sauce.
This recipe is for ricotta fritters, with a lovely tomato sauce and a tangy zucchini salad. It’s from Jamie’s15 Minute Meals, and it’s light and flavourful and healthy! Super easy too!
The lemon zest and the nutmeg in the fritters give them a slightly exotic flavour.
For the sauce
25g dried porcini mushrooms*
4 anchovy fillets
1 dried red chilli
2 cloves of garlic
700g tomato passata
8 black olives
Half a bunch of fresh basil
For the fritters
1 large free-range egg
400g ricotta cheese
1/4 whole nutmeg, for grating
Zest of a lemon
40g Parmesan cheese
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
For the salad
400g zucchini (courgettes)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh red chilli
Half a bunch of fresh mint
Juice of a lemon
Put the porcini into a mug and cover with boiling water. Crack the egg into a mixing bowl, add the ricotta, finely grate in the nutmeg, the lemon zest and Parmesan, add the flour, then beat together. Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan, then use a tablespoon to spoon in 8 large dollops of the mixture, turning carefully when nice and golden.
Put the anchovies and 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a heavy based casserole, crumble in the dried chilli, and squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher. Finely chop and add the porcini with half their soaking water and the passata, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Squash and add the olives. Pick and reserve a few basil leaves, then chop the rest and add to the sauce.
Grate the zucchini in a food processor and tip into a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper, the juice of the zested lemon and the extra virgin olive oil. Finely chop and add the chilli and the top leafy half of the mint, then toss together. Place the fritters on top of the sauce, then scatter over the reserved basil leaves, drizzle with balsamic and serve with lemon wedges.
* I omitted the porcini mushrooms as I don’t particularly like them. I thought the sauce was fine without them!
Christmas festivities are upon us! While there is a lot of traditional baking to be done, I have decided to go down a slightly different path for a dinner tonight that celebrates Christmas from around the world.
As a big fan of tagines, I decided to create a special Christmas Tagine. Bright with the colours of Christmas, red and green, and deliciously fragrant with Middle Eastern flavours that remind us of the original Christmas story, this beef tagine is full of beautiful veggies too.
Of course, the beef tagine can be eaten at any time of the year! But it can be an alternative to the usual suspects eaten on the day, and would make a great Boxing Day or even New Year’s dish!
I have recently been researching the Keto Diet – not, I hasten to add, on my own behalf – but to better understand what a particular disciple of this low carb program can eat. So I had a go at creating something that might be at least keto friendly, if not actually following all its tenets. I have certainly got to grips with the idea “above ground vegetables good, below ground vegetables bad”!
Here it is. You could substitute some non keto approved below ground veggies like potatoes or carrots, if you like, but they would need to be added in at the start of the recipe, as they take longer to cook. As prunes aren’t probably that great for the Keto Diet, but do add that traditional sweetness to the tagine, you could halve the amount to get the flavour without too much of the sugar. Or leave them out altogether!
2 teaspoons paprika – sweet
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon sumac
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pepper corns – cracked in a mortar and pestle
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g diced shin beef/chuck steak
4 eshallots and 4 spring onions, finely chopped
(Or replace both with 2 large onions)
1-2 garlic cloves, to taste, finely chopped
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1.5 tins water (use the tomato tin as a measure)
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 small eggplant (aubergine), sliced
2 zucchini (courgettes), sliced
100g green olives
Chopped coriander, to decorate
Combine the spices and pepper and salt in a large bowl. Add beef and stir until well coated in the spices. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer.
Preheat oven to 140 degrees C.
Heat a heavy based casserole on the stovetop, and add half the olive oil. Add the chopped shallots and spring onions or ordinary onions and cook them for 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for a further couple of minutes or until the garlic is softened but not browned. Remove all to a plate.
Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan. Tip in the beef and cook over a fairly high heat until evenly browned and caramelised.
Return the shallots/onion/garlic to the casserole. Add the chopped tomatoes, tins of water and stir well. Add the pomegranate molasses. Stir in a third of the prunes. Lay several slices of the eggplant (about a third of the eggplant) on the top of the mixture. Bring to the boil, then put the lid on and transfer to the oven.
Cook for an hour and a half. Remove from the oven and lay the rest of the eggplant slices and the zucchini slices into the casserole, as well as the rest of the prunes and most of the olives, reserving a few for serving. Cook, covered for a further hour or until the beef is really tender.
If you’re not completely satisfied with the tenderness of the beef pieces, you can cook for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter the remaining olives over the tagine, and some coriander leaves.
The tagine should be looking pretty festive with its tomato red and coriander green, but you could add some sliced cherry tomatoes for a little more red or even, if so inclined, a few slices of red chilli!
I was reminded of this red lentil dhal dish I made a et while back, when my food photo exchange friend, a pretty decent cook himself, was talking about Indian dishes and his latest cooking exploits.
It’s a tasty veggie recipe that’s perfect for making sure you get your 5-a-day! And the spices make it delicious and flavourful.
This is a Vegan Sparkles recipes with my tweaks – the link to the original recipe is here.
It’s super easy to make, looks colourful and enticing, and is both vegetarian and vegan. And for us Antipodeans coming into summer, it’s a great dish to serve for an alfresco lunch. And if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, it would make a hearty first course in an Indian style banquet.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ onion, finely chopped
1 cup sweet potato, chopped into cubes
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp mustard seeds (black or yellow)
¾ tsp ground cayenne pepper
1½ tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground coriander
1 clove garlic, chopped
1½ cups dried red lentils
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 tsp honey
1 cup grated and pulped carrot
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup baby spinach leaves
½ tsp nigella seeds
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and sweet potato and fry gently until onion is soft. Add ginger, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, cumin, turmeric, garam masala coriander and garlic to the pan, and cook, while stirring, until mustard seeds begin to pop.
Add the lentils, stock and water and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the honey. Put the carrot pulp, broccoli and cherry tomatoes into the dahl and simmer for another 15 minutes.
The dahl will be cooked and somewhat reduced. If it’s looks a little too dry, add more water, or if it’s too liquidey, reduce down a bit more.
Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the spinach leaves until they are just wilted. Scatter the nigella seeds just before serving over the dish. They will give an interesting black fleck to the dish!
Home-made pasta is great to eat and pretty easy to make. There are so many different sizes and shapes to make, and you can create different flavours by adding vegetables and herbs, as I did here by adding pumpkin to the dough.
This is a recipe for pumpkin ravioli with goat’s cheese I made a while back. I made two different fillings, one with goat’s cheese and watercress, the other with goat’s cheese, pumpkin, thyme and hazelnuts. The pasta dough has mashed baked pumpkin to give the pasta a lovely orange colour and subtle taste.
The basic recipe I use for the pasta dough is a Jamie Oliver recipe. Click here for the original recipe. It’s straightforward and easy to follow.
3 large free range eggs
300g Tipo ’00’ flour
3 tablespoons or so of butternut pumpkin baked in the oven with a little olive oil, then mashed. The amount you use will depend on how “orange ” you want the pasta to be. If you add too much, the pasta will be too soft to roll, so start out adding less – you can always add more.
3 tablespoons or so of any soft goat’s cheese
1 tablespoon or so of wilted watercress ( a few good handfuls of watercress will wilt down to 1 tablespoon – instructions below)
1 tablespoon mashed baked pumpkin (squash)
2 teaspoons roast chopped hazlenuts (about 10 or 12)
A few chopped thyme leaves
Put the eggs and flour into a food proccesor and whiz until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to the work surface and bring the dough roughly together. Add the baked pumpkin, starting off with a little at first, then adding more if you need to. Bring the pasta dough together into one lump.
Knead the dough and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour, until the pasta dough starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury. Wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it.
Now is the time to prepare your filling, so you are ready to fill the ravioli once the pasta is rolled.
To wilt the watercress, place it washed in a small frying pan or saucepan with the barest amount of water. Cook over a low heat until it wilts. Break up the goat’s cheese with a fork, and mix in salt and pepper to taste.
To half the goat’s cheese add the watercress, and to the other half mix in the mashed pumpkin, thyme leaves and roast chopped hazelnuts.
I should note here that I inadvertently mixed in some wilted watercress into some of my pasta dough – so I went with it – creating some lovely green speckled pasta dough that you can see in some of the photos.
For the pasta, dust your work surface with some Tipo ‘00’ flour, take a lump of pasta dough the size of a large orange and press it out flat with your fingertips. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting – and roll the lump of pasta dough through it. Lightly dust the pasta with flour if it sticks at all. Click the machine down a setting and roll the pasta dough through again. Fold the pasta in half, click the pasta machine back up to the widest setting and roll the dough through again. Repeat this process five or six times. It might seem like you’re getting nowhere, but in fact you’re working the dough, and once you’ve folded it and fed it through the rollers a few time, it should be smooth and silky.
Now roll the pasta dough working it through all the settings on the machine, from the widest down to around the narrowest. Lightly dust both sides of the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through. When you’ve got down to the narrowest setting, fold the pasta in half lengthways, then in half again, then in half again once more until you’ve got a square-ish piece of dough. Turn it 90 degrees and feed it through the machine at the widest setting. As you roll it down through the settings for the last time, you should end up with a rectangular silky sheet of dough with straight sides. For ravioli, roll the pasta down to the point where you can clearly see your hand or lines of newsprint through it.
Once you have rolled the pasta, you will need to work quite quickly, as the pasta dries out. Place the rolled pasta on a lighly floured board. Cut the pasta sheets into two if they are really long, or use two rolled sheets if they are the right length to make the ravioli. You can cover the unused sheets with a tea towel for a few minutes while you are making ravioli with the other sheets.
Place small spoonfuls of the filling on one pasta sheet, allowing for a border when you come to cut the ravioli. Moisten the exposed pasta and put the other pasta sheet on top. Press down to divide the sheets into individual ravioli and, making sure you don’t trap any air with the filling, seal the ravioli edges.
Cut pasta into shapes using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife. Dust the ravioli with a little flour to help them keep their shape if you’re not cooking immediately, or alternatively pack them carefully into freezer bags and freeze for cooking in the future.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and put the ravioli in. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until al dente. The fresher the ravioli are, the quicker they will cook.
For a quick sauce, heat a little butter in a frying pan until the butter foams and add lots of black pepper. Pour over the ravioli and serve with shaved parmesan.