Baked eggs with Feta & kale

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There's no shortage of farmers markets in London, which is great, but what's really great is that a new one has opened up just minutes from my house, no exaggeration, it's literally around the corner. We go every week - Neil heads to the meat stall and I hunt down the best of the seasons veggies. We've been impressed by the quality and the prices and enjoy being able to talk to the people who grow food for us.

The market began in autumn last year and at times, especially during January, has been quiet and struggling for customers. I'm desperate for this little market to do well, and hope that as spring and summer arrive it will become more popular.

If by any small chance you’re reading this from your home in Clapham or Battersea            then head over to the Lavender Hill Farmers Market, SW11 5UW, 10:00am - 2:00pm every Saturday. You won’t be disappointed.

This week our farmers market haul included free range eggs and organic kale.

Ingredients: serves two
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 white onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
2 large handfuls of kale (I use curly)
1 large handful of spinach
Juice of half a lemon
4 medium free range eggs
50g feta cheese
Handful chopped walnuts
Salt and pepper

Method:
Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat the coconut oil in a good sized frying pan (the type which can also go in the oven) over a medium heat. Finely chop the onion, add to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Next finely chop the garlic and chilli, add to the pan with the onion and mix well. Allow this to cook for a minute.

Turn the pan down to a low heat. Wash the kale then add this to the pan with a small splash of water to create some steam. Cover with a lid and allow the kale to cook for 15 minutes.

Once the kale has cooked remove the lid and add the spinach, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well then place the lid back on for a minute allowing the spinach to cook.

Remove the lid and make four little wells in the pan, cracking an egg into each. Season the eggs with salt and pepper then place the frying pan in the oven and bake until the eggs are firm but the yolks are still runny. This can take 1-5 minutes depending on your oven.

To serve crumble over the feta and chopped walnuts.

Week day breakfast jars

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So far February has been non-stop. A packed working week and weekends spent away from home, have at times left my fridge bare, my washing unwashed and the house certainly not looking its best. But it feels good to be busy.

Neil and I often find ourselves talking about what life would be like, if we didn’t live in London. I long to be closer to my family and best friends, and even though they only live a couple of hours drive away, the distance can sometimes be overwhelming. I dream of a big garden with a vegetable patch, fruit trees and chickens roaming around, but most of all just being able to drop by my mum’s house in the evenings for dinner. For Neil, it’s a garage, well actually a double garage and a large driveway for him to indulge in his love of cars and mechanics. One day it will happen, I’m sure of it.

But for now it's the London life. This city is unbearably busy and at times very angry. It’s difficult not to be affected by the negative mood of grumpy and frustrated travellers or to block out arguments and police sirens. But there are things about London that I do love and will miss if we do move away - the little side streets with unfamiliar coffee shops, faded lettering on old signs and the way beautiful landmarks appear out of nowhere when you turn a corner. My current commute takes me into Waterloo station, I then make a 20 minute walk along The Cut and Union Street with the Shard growing intimidatingly in front of me, to a small studio next to Borough Market – one of my favourite areas of the city.

As soon as I wake up I’m thinking about food. I love to eat, which is probably why I get so excited about the first meal of the day. These breakfast jars are ideal for busy mornings and totally adaptable to what’s in your cupboards and fruit bowl. There is no excuse not to have a healthy breakfast and I promise these jars will fill you up until lunch, something a croissant certainly wouldn't do.

I make my jar and Neil’s, the night before and leave them in the fridge. In the morning I add some fresh fruit which takes minutes and we simply put the jars in our bags. I prefer taking my breakfast to work as the commute allows me some movement before eating, also the jar is back up to room temperature, making the most of the flavours.

This post shares three of my go-to breakfast jars as I couldn’t pick a favourite.

Overnight oats
Ingredients
1/3 cup oats
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp ground flax
1 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
½ tsp ground cardamom
2/3 cup milk (I use oat or almond)

Toppings
Strawberries
Fresh mint

Method:
Measure out the oats, chia seeds, flax, coconut and cardamom into a jar and stir to combine. Add the milk and mix well. Place the lid on the jar and leave it in the fridge overnight. In the morning top with chopped strawberries and some fresh mint.

Chia pudding
Ingredients
2 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup milk (I use oat or almond)
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Toppings
Greek yogurt
Nut butter
Blueberries
Pomegranate seeds

Method
Measure the chia seeds, milk and vanilla extract into a jar and mix well. It’s best to then leave the jar to sit for five minutes then stir again as the chia seeds may sink to the bottom.
Place in the fridge overnight. In the morning top with Greek yogurt, nut butter, blueberries and pomegranate seeds.

Beetroot and berry smoothie
Ingredients
½ beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup of frozen berries
Handful of spinach leaves
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ cup water

Toppings
Greek yogurt
Fresh raspberries
Walnuts
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Unsweetened coconut flakes

Method
Simply place all the ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a jar and top with Greek yogurt, fresh raspberries, coconut flakes and some nuts and seeds for added crunch.

Note: I use a standard jam jar as I find them to be the ideal size.

cauliflower, SPROUTS and a California checklist

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Having just booked what will be the final stop on our American west coast road trip I think it’s fair to say I’ll be wishing the next few months away with rapid anticipation and excitement. We, my family and I, have been planning this holiday for a while, researching, taking advice and adjusting our route so we can see and appreciate as much as possible. So now that all the accommodation is booked I can focus on the really important stuff – where to eat.

I’ve been compiling a list of restaurants, cafes, juice bars and of course, where to get the best ice cream and coffee. If you know of any useful blogs, books or even have a favourite hang-out anywhere between San Francisco and San Diego then I’d love to hear from you.

Much of our accommodation is through Airbnb, and having never stayed in an Airbnb house before (gasp), I’m also eager to check out the local farmer’s markets and food stores to make the most of our Californian kitchens. Any suggestions for local markets?

This warm salad has been a lunchtime favourite of mine over the past few weeks, mostly eaten in front of my computer screen as I book flights and hire cars. The lightly fried vegetables keep their crunch and fresh taste whilst taking on the flavour of the sage and mustard dressing.

Ingredients: serves 2
Half a cauliflower
120g brussels sprouts
1 tbsp coconut oil
4-5 sage leaves
Salt
Zest and juice of a lemon
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp mustard
30g feta
¼ cup walnuts
½ pomegranate

Method:
Remove the florets from the cauliflower and place them in a food processor. Pulse until you get a rice-like texture. Rinse and remove the outer leaves on the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half. Place the flat surface of the sprout on a chopping board and thinly slice. You can shred the sprouts in the food processor, but I like to keep them a little thicker by hand slicing – this adds texture to the salad.

Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan on a low/medium heat then add the cauliflower and sprouts and lightly fry for a few minutes. Finely chop the sage leaves and add these to the pan with a good pinch of salt and the lemon zest. Fry for a few more minutes.

To make the dressing mix the mustard, olive oil and lemon juice together.

To serve, place the cauliflower and sprouts on plates or in one large bowl. Drizzle over the dressing and scatter with crumbled feta, roughly chopped walnuts and pomegranate seeds

Celeriac chips with a spicy tahini dip

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There’s not much on offer at my local farmers market this time of year, but what they do have in abundance is celeriac. This ugly duckling of the vegetable world can sometimes go unnoticed as we reach for the leeks, beetroot and last of the seasons apples. But please don’t overlook the humble celeriac, they are affordable, long lasting and so versatile in the kitchen.

I often use celeriac as an alternative to potato, thickening a soup or as a creamy mash topping a shepherds pie. It’s also delicious raw, shredded in a salad and giving a nutty celery like flavour. But best of all, the celeriac makes great chips. I’ve been grazing on this recipe for a few weeks now, usually on a Sunday afternoon whist watching a film as the constant rain keeps falling outside. Teamed up with a spicy sun-dried tomato and tahini dip, these chunky chips are an ideal comfort food.

To make the spicy dip I used some large sun-dried tomatoes I brought whilst on holiday in Italy last year, along with a packet arrabbiata which is an Italian spice blend often used in pasta sauces. Bringing food home as a souvenir is a wonderful way to remember a trip, recreating and reminiscing of the tastes and smells you experienced.

If you wanted to make your own arrabbiata, simply mix together a majority of chilli seeds and flakes with dried basil, dried parsley, garlic and salt.

Ingredients, for the chips:
1 celeriac
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
Salt

For the spicy dip:
1/3 cup tahini
5-6 large sun-dried tomatoes
1 tsp arrabbiata
1 tsp cumin
1 garlic clove
2 tsp olive oil
A squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste  

Method:
Preheat the oven to 200C and bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Peel the celeriac, removing all the green, I find using a paring knife much easier than a peeler as the skin can be quite tough. Chop the celeriac into chunky chips and place them in the boiling water for one-two minutes.

Drain the water and put the chips on a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Place the chips on a baking tray and cover with the coconut oil. Sprinkle over plenty of salt and the chopped fresh rosemary. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the chips are brown with crispy edges.

For the spicy tomato dip place all the ingredients in a food processor, but only add half the water. Blitz into a smooth dip and add more water if needed. The dip keeps in the fridge for up to a week and is also great with raw carrot sticks.

Baked spiced apple porridge

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As a freelance designer there are days when I can work from home. The perks are getting to wear my slippers all day, listen to Michael Jackson without any objections and having the time to make baked porridge. I check my emails while my breakfast warms in the oven, then enjoy my patiently awaited bowl of oats whist perusing Pinterest, reading the news and generally procrastinating.

We all know how diverse porridge can be, and this recipe is no different. I’ve made versions using grated carrot and orange zest or pear with cacao nibs, both are winning combos. But apple has always been my favourite pairing with porridge, most likely due to a fondness for apple crumble.

This recipe serves four, but can easily be adapted to individual portions - just reduce it’s time in the oven to 18-20 minutes. I tend to add a little more milk when the porridge is in a bowl with some fresh fruit and apple purée.

Ingredients, serves 4:
For the porridge

1 cup oats
1/2 cup sultanas
2 tbsp ground flax
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 sweet apple, grated (I use pink lady)
2 cups milk (I use oat milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pecan nuts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C fan. Measure out the oats, sultanas, flax, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl and mix well. Great the apple, skin on, and add this to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly before adding the milk and vanilla extract. Spoon the mixture into a baking dish, mine was approximately 22 x 14cm.

For the topping, measure out the seeds and pecans in a bowl and pour over the melted coconut oil. Mix well, then spoon the topping over the porridge, spreading out evenly.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes until the topping is lightly browned and crunchy.

Mushroom and garlic buckwheat risotto

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Santa brought me a rather lovely sauté pan for Christmas and for it's first outing I couldn't think of anything better than a creamy risotto. This recipe uses buckwheat groats instead of risotto rice, it's gluten free and has a delicate nutty flavour. Much like risotto rice, the buckwheat softens as it absorbs the cooking liquid providing a silky smooth texture.  

After a wonderfully indulgent couple of weeks packed with cheeses, chutneys, roast meats and vegetable gratins, not to mention and abundance of sweet treats, I was in the mood for a simple meal with a few individual strong flavours. This risotto is warming, filling and an easy meal to make on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I’m guilty of enjoying a big bowlful whist sitting on the sofa catching up with the latest episode of Sherlock. 

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2016.

Ingredients: serves two
150g buckwheat groats
1 white onion
3 garlic cloves
Fresh thyme
250ml vegetable stock
1 x 400ml can coconut milk
Juice of half a lemon
150-200g mushrooms (I used a mix of chestnut and shiitake) 
Coconut oil for frying
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method
Heat a knob of coconut oil in a large pan (one that has a lid) on a medium heat. Finely chop the onion and add to the pan. Allow the onion to soften and brown slightly. Finely chop two of the garlic cloves and remove the leaves from 5-6 sprigs of thyme and add both to the pan. Add the buckwheat groats and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and allow the ingredients to sauté for 5 minutes. 

Pour in the vegetable stock and allow to simmer with the lid on for 12 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, heat a knob of coconut oil on a medium/high heat. Slice the mushrooms and add to the pan. Take the third garlic clove and crush lightly so it releases its flavour and add this to the pan with the mushrooms. Place in a few sprigs of thyme and fry all together until the mushrooms are soft and golden. 

Add the lemon juice and coconut milk to the buckwheat risotto, stirring on a medium/high heat. Continue stirring for 10-15 minutes until the buckwheat is soft and the mixture is thick and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Add half of the mushrooms to the risotto and stir through. Spoon the risotto into two bowls and divide the remaining mushrooms on top of each bowl. Finish with a grating of parmesan cheese.