Summer Salads

Healthy Eating

We all love eating al fresco, whether it be a formal meal, in the garden or seated on the sun drenched terrace of that little Greek Taverna. Out door eating, brings out the best – or worst – in us all. It takes just a few golden rays pushing through the grey English gloom and POW! we go into lunatic mode and out comes the Barbeque. Of course, that means a frenzied rush to the Supermarket to gather the lurid red, synthetic coated, chicken wings, pork chops and gristly burgers, made from more animal derivatives than you would find in your average tin of dog food. In the bread aisle we grab a couple of packs of cotton wool textured baps – I can’t even call them bread. – Next you head for the chiller cabinets to pick up some salads? Why? OK, I can hear you crying “I don’t have the time”. Of course you do, with a little bit of organisation and less time on Social Media, you can make the time.

Freshly prepared, homemade salads, grains, beans, fruits, veg, dressings
Home made and healthy

Recently, through the media, we have been made aware of the dangers of obesity and various medical conditions, emanating from our consumption of unhealthy foods. Processed, fast food is all about flavour enhancing sugar, salt, fats, chemical additives and preservatives. The craving for these foods, have little to do with the food itself, but more to the added synthetic textures & flavours, giving you a sensory overload, to get you hooked. – Think nicotine. – Why do we want to eat these and feed them to our children, encouraging them to develop a taste for over sweet, salty, synthetic foods. Give them a taste of real homemade food & they won’t like it. You, have fed them these unnatural foodstuffs and denied them the fresh natural taste of homemade, unadulterated food. Processed foods and ready prepared, chopped fruits and veg, apart from being more expensive, have less nutritional value than their home made, freshly prepared counterparts. Pre-packed fruits and veg, once chopped quickly leak their Vitamin content and many have sugar, salt & preservatives added to them to preserve there colour. How long does it take to chop carrots or shred a lettuce?

Next time you visit the Supermarket, take a look at the labels on the foods you are purchasing. Out of interest, I looked at a pack of pre-cooked chicken breasts. You will be aware that foods have to be labeled with the ingredients in decreasing order. These chicken breasts contained, chicken, sugar, salt and various preservatives! Why do cooked chicken breasts need sugar?? I will leave it for you to work out.

chillis, chutneys, harissa paste, home cooking, peppers
Chop yourself some chillis

Prepacked, processed, convenience foods are not in the shops to provide you with healthy options, despite what the labeling might say. They are convenience foods which have been designed by marketing agencies. With their smart packaging and snappy slogans they fool you into believing you are providing yourself and family with fresh, healthy, natural food. In reality they are convenience foods, placed on the shelves to play on your insecurities. Forget it. These products are there to make money for the Supermarket and food manufacturing companies, they have no thought for your health.

Don’t give in, make the time, to prepare your own food from scratch. What have you got to loose? you will save money, eat healthier and once you become aware of the taste of real food, probably lose weight and certainly not expose yourself to the plethora of illness associated with unhealthy eating. Go on, you owe it to yourself and your family.

In my blog next week, I will be giving you some simple recipes, for salad dressings and salads. All will take you under 30 mins to prepare. If you make up a large amount of the basic dressing recipe, you can use you imagination to add different ingredients to create other dressings and salads of your choice. You can find some of my previous recipes by following the links below: https://truffleicious.blog/2018/02/10/warm-butternut-squash-black-kale-salad/ https://truffleicious.blog/2019/03/22/harissa-chutney/

Until next week. Happy healthy eating.

Freshly prepared fruits & veg salads & dressings

Merry Christmas

Christmas Countdown 22 Recipes for a Merry Christmas

If you have been. Thank you for reading. This concludes the 22 recipe Christmas Countdown. All thats left for me to say is “I hope you have found these recipes useful & you have enjoyed, reading these blogs.

Click the photos below to take you to the individual recipes. OR the blue link below will take you to all the recipes, mentioned below in the drop down menu of Christmas Countdown.

WISHING YOU ALL A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HEALTHY & HAPPY NEW YEAR

Vegetarians Look away

Recipe Sweet Potato & Pork

Christmas Countdown. We all need a quick warming meal, in the run up to Christmas. this recipe for Sweet Potato & Pork fits the bill. All you need is a roasting tin, some veg and your pork, which has been placed in a quick, cheats marinade for a few hours. Throw it all in the oven & forget about it, while you wrap those presents. In 45mins to 1hr, depending on the thickness of your meat, you have a delicious, one pot pork dish ready for the family. If you want to add another veg, serve on some lightly steamed, kale or Cornish spring greens. Yum.

Veggies Look away NOW

Spicy Pork & Sweet Potato Bake.  

Serves 4. Equipment: Large Roasting Tin. Oven temp 200c 400F Gas 6. G/F D/F

For the cheats Marinade:

4 Tbspns Sweet Chilli Chutney.

2 Tbspns Runny Honey

2 Tbspns Light Soy Sauce

5 cm Fresh Ginger, grated.

2. Cloves garlic Crushed

2 Tbspns Red Wine Vinegar

Mix all the above ingredients together in a bowl, spread over the meat, turning occassionally.

1 kg Belly Pork Slices, or 4 Pork Chops.

4 Sweet Potatoes, Quartered, unpeeled.

2 Large red onions, peeled & quartered.

1/2 kg Carrots, cut into large chunks.

METHOD:

Place the chunky veg, in a single layer, in a large roasting tin.

Place in a preheated oven & cook for 45mins -1hr, depending on the thickness of the meat.

(If you do not like your meat as crispy as in the photo, move the tray down a shelf, 15mins before the end of the cooking time.

Serve with freshly steamed veg.

If you have any particular recipe requirements or questions, please leave a comment below & I will answer tomorrow.

Until then. Have a great evening.

The Christmas Starter

Smoked Trout & Avocado recipe

There’s a touch of vintage to day ten of the Christmas Countdown. 

If you want a nod to the 70’s you could fill the centre of this ring -when you have turned it out-. with good old Prawn Cocktail. This would make a substantial starter, or a fishy addition to the Boxing day Buffet. You could even serve Melba toast as an accompaniment.

For myself, I would fill the centre with some fresh leafy shoots & herbs, in a light lemon dressing.

This recipe can be make a couple of days ahead & kept, covered in the fridge. When the time comes to serve,  dip the mould in hot watet for a few seconds, place a plate on the mould & quickly turn over, to release. Place back in the fridge, until ready to decorate & serve.

avocado, smoked trout, greek yoghurt, mascapone, dill
Smoked Trout & Avocado

Smoked Trout & Avocado ring.

Serves 6.  G/F, V.  Allergens:  Dairy, Fish      Equipment: 800ml ring mould

Time taken:  45 mins + chilling time 

INGREDIENTS 

200g Pack Smoked Trout         

2. Ready to eat Avocado’s  Peeled & chopped 

Fresh Dill to decorate

225g Mascapone Cheese

225g Greek Yoghurt

1/2 level tspn salt

White pepper

1 Tbspn Creamed Horseradish

150ml Cold Water

15g powdered gelatine (Vegetarian)

METHOD

Measure the cold water into a small saucepan, add the salt & sprinkle over the gelatine. Allow to soak for 5mins, & heat gently, stiring, until the gelatine has dissolved. DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL Remove from the heat & allow to cool.

Rinse out the rind mould with cold water & line,  with the smoked trout slices.

Place the Mascapone, 1/2 the yoghurt, horseradish & pepper to taste into a bowl & mix well to blend.

Stir in the cold gelatine & chopped avocado & gently fold in the remaining yoghurt.

Spoon the mixture into the fish lined mould. Cover with cling film & place in the fridge until set.

When ready to serve, turn out, see above. Decorate & serve.

Variations: 

Substitute the trout, for thinly sliced parma ham, & the avocado for diced sundried tomatoes & olives.  Fill the centre with rocket leaves, dressed in olive oil & shaved parmesan.

For a vegan option. Line the mould with thinly sliced cucumber. Replace the cheese & yoghurt with vegan substitutes.

I am sure you can all get your creative caps on & experiment with many different variations on the above recipe.

That all for today. As always, if you have any questions about your festive cookery. Please ask, by leaving a comment in the box below. I will answer tomorrow.

Have a great evening.

Marzipan or Sugarpan?

Make your own Marzipan

Day 8 of my Christmas countdown, as promised yesterday in my Late Christmas Cake recipe  today’s recipe is for home made Marzipan.

Although I personally do not favour a traditional Christmas Cake, preferring something lighter & less sugary, I know, for a lot of people, Christmas would not be complete without one. The cake in yesterdays recipe is a variation on the good old traditional theme. Today’s marzipan recipe is prepared using fresh natural ingredients & also makes you aware of the additives & preservatives used in most store bought Marzipan or Almond paste, as it is also known.

Do you head to the super market & grab a pack of ready -made Marzipan? Have you read the small print on theback?  It should really be called Sugarpan, because the main ingredient is, guess what, SUGAR!!  OK, most recipes call for half ground almonds & half sugar, but even in the more respected stores, ground Almonds only account for 25% of the product, the rest being made up with the afore mentioned sugar & other additives. So here goes:

HOME MADE MARZIPAN

. G/F. V. Low Fodmap  Allergens: EGG. Cooking Time Nil. Covers 1 10cm Cake or smaller cake with enough left over to make chocolate marzipans.

Ingredients:

450g Ground Almonds (Good Quality)

225g Icing Sugar

225g Caster Sugar

2 Small Eggs

Juice of half a lemon

1. Tbspn Rum or Sherry

1.Tbspn Orange Flower Water

Few drops Almond Essence

METHOD

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl & mix together well.

Pour in the lightly beaten eggs & add the other liquids, mixing with your hands, to form a smooth paste.

DO NOT USE A FOOD MIXER. When the ingredients have bound together, forming a smooth paste, wrap in cling film & chill for a couple of hours. Over working the paste will result in an oily paste, caused by the oil being released from the almonds. Ifyou do not wish to use alcohol in the recipe, replace with Elderflower Syrup.Use fresh, free range eggs, as the rich yellow yolks, produce a good coloured Marzipan.

Use as required, rolling out on a board which has been dusted with icing sugar, to prevent sticking.

Any left- over Marzipan can be rolled onto balls or cut into shapes & dipped in melted chocolate & used for decoration. If you are feeling creative, you can always whip up a boozy Christmas Stollen with your lovely home made Marzipan in the centre.

Until tomorrow, when the recipe will be “The Icing on the Cake”. Have a lovely evening

Ground Almonds,Marzipan,Marzipan recipe,Cake covering,Icing
Christmas Stollen with Home made Marzipan

Chocolate & Coconut Truffles

Recipe for Dairy Free Truffles

Day 3 of the Coundown to Christmas recipes & tips brings you the delight of chocolate. In particular dairy & gluten free Coconut Truffles, very apt for Truffleicious you may think.

We all love chocolate, but there are varying degrees of this comforting confectionery. Many of the cheaper varieties are mainly made up of sugar, & additives. Food regulations state that the ingredients list must show the components of the product in a decreasing scale. Therefore, if the first ingredient listed is sugar, then sugar is the main ingredient of the product. So, my mantra for purchasing any food product is “Always read the label”.

For the recipe below you must use chocolate that has a cocoa butter content of above 72%. Block creamed coconut must also be used, not a tin of coconut milk as this is all part of the setting agent in the finished truffles.

Coconut & Rum Truffles.

Gluten free, Dairy free, Vegetarian, Vegan.  Time taken, 45mins + chilling

Makes 40.

INGREDIENTS

250 g Dark Chocolate (above 72% cocoa mass)

1/2 Pack of solid creamed coconut 

60 g Desicated Coconut, (fine variety)

150 ml Rum, OR Malibu OR Water if you want to avoid alcohol.

150g Coconut, or Cocoa Powder for Rolling.   These can also be dipped in melted chocolate when set.

METHOD

Place the the coconut cream & your prefered liquid in a saucepan & bring to the boil, stirring.  Cool for 10mins.

Chop the chocolate into small chunks & place in a large bowl.

Pour the coconut mixture onto the chocolate, stirring briskly, from the centre, until you have a thick glossy emulsion. Stir in the fine desicated coconut.

Chill & roll into balls, with you fingers. Coat each ball with your chosen coating, or dip in melted chocolate. 

Leave to set & there you have it, the perfect gift for friends & relations or if like me, you are a bit of a Piggy, Eat them yourself.

Chocolate, truffles, liqueurs, home made, Coccoa fat,
A little of what you fancy.

Until tomorrow Foodies, have a lovely evening.

Don’t forget, if you have a question or would like to see a particular recipe on The Christmas Countdown. Please leave a comment in the box below.

Perfect pastry

How to make perfect pastry

Day 2 of our Christmas countdown deals with pastry. Ok, there are plenty of ready made pastries on the market, but there is nothing nicer & more satifying than making your own.

Apart from the fact that there will be no hidden, additives in your homemade pastry, you also have the opportunity, to ring the changes, by using different flours. You need to experiment with this, as some flours, Rye for example, produces a lovely nutty tasting pastry, but it can be quite heavy, needing the addition of a bit more liquid than when using normal plain flour.

Always, use the best quality flour that you can afford, cheap flours contain bleaching agents, to retain the whiteness & the quality of the wheat used in the milling, is not always of great quality. All this reflects in the final taste & texture of your finished result. I personal use Mathews Cotswold flours, in all my baking. In the photo above, you can see pastry made with their Maize flour, which make a beautifully crisp, golden pastry, suitable for quiches, tarts etc.  Recipe below:

Short crust pastry. 

Makes 1kg enough to line 4 x 20cm Quiche or Tart tins.  Allegens:: Wheat, Egg.

450g Maize Flour

115g Unsalted butter- chopped into small pieces.

115g White Cooking Fat – chopped into small pieces.

1 medium free range egg, beaten & made up to 8 tbspns with ice cold water.

Large pinch of salt.

METHOD

Place the flour & salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.

Using the K beater, mix on speed 3 until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. DO NOT OVER MIX.

With the mixer running, gradually add the egg & water. Until the mix forms a ball. Remove from the bowl & lightly knead on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film & chill for 30mins, untill ready to use. Never over work your dough, & keep all ingredients chilled. Warm over worked pastry, results in oily, heavy pastry. Always bake in a metal tin, placed on a pre heated oven tray (place in oven, when switching on). This conducts the heat better. NO soggy bottom. As a general rule, this pastry bakes at 200f 400c Gas 6 for 15mins, reducing to 180f 350c Gas 4 for a futher 20mins, depending on your recipe & oven.

The above recipe makes, 1kg of pastry. you can halve the quantity, but I think it is always better, from a time point of veiw, to make a larger quantity, & divide it into portions & freeze for later use. You can line 4 tins with the pastry & pop into the freezer. When needed you have them ready to fill & bake.  

To make a gluten free version of Shortcrust pastry. Replace the above flour with the following:

200g Buckwheat Flour

250 Brown Rice Flour.

Omit the egg & use nine tablespoons of chilled water. Follow the method as above.

Apple, shortcake. tart, pie
Fill you flan.

Have fun choosing your fillings, both sweet & savoury, get creative

On tomorrows Christmas Countdown, we will be dealing with Rough Puff Pastry & Christmas Cake Pies?