My Blog

INCREDIBLE CHIA

INCREDIBLE CHIA SEEDS

 

If you’re not yet familiar with chia seeds, then it’s well and truly time for youFullSizeRender (1)

to get to know about these tiny little balls of goodness as they are among the

healthiest foods on the planet. They’re the size of poppyseeds and come in

either black/grey or white. They can be easily be found in health food shops

(numerous supermarkets sell them, too), and their popularity is increasing all

the time.

 

origins

Chia seeds originate from a flowering plant in the mint family called Salvia hispanica that is native to Mexico and Guatamela, and they are said to have been the food of choice of the Aztecs and Mayans back in the day due to their ability to provide sustainable energy. In fact chia is the ancient Mayan word for ‘strength’, and a single tablespoon would keep them going for 24 hours!

 

nutrition

Don’t be fooled by their size – these tiny seeds pack a powerful, nutritional punch. As well as providing energy, they are ridiculously high in fibre, omega-3 fats, protein and antioxidants. They are low in calories, classed as a ‘whole-grain’ and are naturally gluten free. One recommended daily serving is only 1 tbsp (15g/.oz), which is incredibly easy to include into your daily diet.

 

uses of chia

The seeds taste pretty bland alone, so you should add them to other things, such as cereals, yogurt, salads, and veggie or rice dishes. Stir them into soups, porridge and stews, blend them into smoothies or add to your baking, such as bread, cakes and muffins. The thing about chia seeds that amazes me the most is that they absorb so much liquid (12 times their weight) and can therefore be used to thicken sauces, make puddings and used as a substitute for eggs in pretty much most recipes.

When mixed with liquid the seeds plump up, forming a gel layer around each seed, which then acts as a binder in the same way eggs do. To create an egg substitute, simply mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water or other liquid such as milk or juice. Leave to soak for about 5-10 minutes until you have a gloopy

gel equivalent to one whole beaten egg. Each 1 tablespoon of chia seed is equivalent to one egg, so increase quantities of chia seed and liquid

according to your recipe. It’s worth pointing out that once made, chia seeds

still retain a slightly crunchy texture when in gel form. For many recipes this is just fine, such as in baking, but you can grind the seeds in a blender

or coffee grinder before mixing with liquid for a smoother end result. This is particularly useful when making puddings or sauces.

 

Recipe inspiration

My latest cookbook In the mood for Healthy Food is out mid July and contains many recipes using Chia seeds such as Chia Seed Flapjacks, Beef and Quinoa meatballs, Raspberry Chia Jam. However here is a sneak peek of a versatile salad dressing which uses chia seeds to create a creamy texture.

 

Lemon Chia Caesar Salad Dressing…

This is great to use as a salad dressing with crunchy Cos lettuce, crunchy baked bread croutons and some shavings of Parmesan cheese. It also works really well as a dip for crudites or to toss into cooked new potatoes for a very tasty

potato salad. Place 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons

chia seeds, 3 tablespoons avocado or extra virgin olive oil, 1 anchovy fillet, 1 small peeled garlic clove, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon honey in a blender and blitz until smooth. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

 

For more recipe inspiration like this, check out my new book…

cover shot thumbnail       IN THE MOOD FOR HEALTHY FOOD

Available from Nourish Books in July 2015

Valentine’s Breakfast Treat – Baked Eggs with Smoked Salmon

Treat your loved one to a Valentine’s breakfast treat this weekend.

Easy to prepare and delicious served with a toasted muffin, add a splash of Tabasco for a kick. If you want to make this into more of a brunch recipe, the addition of some wilted spinach and/or sautéed sliced mushrooms at the bottom of the dishes are delicious.

 

Makes:  2 (can easily be increased to make more)

Ready to bake...

Ready to bake…

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 12 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

2-4 slices ham or smoked salmon

2 eggs

2 tbsp cream

2 tsp chopped chives (optional)

1 tbsp finely grated parmesan

Toasted and buttered English muffins or toast

 

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.

Grease two individual small ovenproof dishes such as ramekins with butter. If you don’t have any dishes, a deep muffin tin with do. Place in the ham or smoked salmon, pushing it down into the edges to create a bowl shape. Break an egg into each one, then pour over the cream.

Season with salt and pepper, scatter over the chives (if using) and finish with the cheese. Place in the oven for 12 minutes, until the egg white is only just set and the yolk is still runny. It will continue to cook once removed from the oven so don’t be tempted to leave them in the oven too long if you still want a runny yolk.

Remove from the oven and serve either in the dishes or turned out, with toasted buttered muffins or toast.

PS…

If you want to swap the smoked salmon for ham, it doesn’t matter what type however Parma ham is particularly delicious.

 

 

Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

CLASSIC PANCAKES

Whether you make your pancakes thick or thin is a matter of taste. Once cooked, sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice for a classic finish,  or top with any of your favourite ingredients. I love the tasty combination of lemon, sugar and golden syrup for extra sweetness, but I’m sure you have your own. Just make sure you’ve plenty if the ingredients in as there really is only one day of the year when you can indulge and treat yourself to that extra pancake or two.

 

Makes 8-10 pancakes

INGREDIENTS

125g plain flour

Pinch of salt

2 large eggs

275ml milk

25g butter, melted

Sunflower or vegetable oil for cooking

METHOD

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Beat the eggs into the milk and pour onto the flour. Whisk well until the batter is smooth and creamy. If there are any lumps, simply pass the batter through a sieve into a jug.

Leave for 30 minutes or longer if you have time, and then whisk in the melted butter.

Heat a pancake pan or non-stick frying pan (about 18cm diameter) over a medium heat and rub the surface with some kitchen roll dipped in the oil. Pour only enough batter into the pan so that when you swirl the pan it just covers the surface in a thin layer.

Cook for about 30 seconds or so until the edges start to curl up and the underside is golden. Flip over and cook the other side.

Slide onto a plate and either serve straight away or keep warm in layers between sheets of greaseproof paper while making the rest.

BAKED CHILLI AND CORIANDER PANCAKES

And for those of you who don’t have a sweet tooth – you need not miss out. These savoury ones are equally as delicious.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

500g minced beef

1 glass of red wine

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 heaped tbsp tomato purée

1 red chilli, chopped with seeds, or 11/2 to 2tsp dried chilli flakes

1tsp each of ground cumin and coriander

1/2tsp ground cinnamon

1 beef stock cube

400g tin kidney beans, drained

1 bunch of coriander leaves, chopped

1 x basic pancake batter with the addition of 2tbsp chopped coriander

100g cheddar cheese, grated

METHOD

To make the chilli, heat the oil in a saucepan and then sauté the onion and garlic over a medium heat until they are softened but not coloured.

Increase the heat and add the mince, cooking quickly until it is browned, breaking down any chunks of meat with a wooden spoon. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil.

Stir in the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, chilli, cumin, coriander and cinnamon and crumble in the stock cube. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Cover loosely with a lid and cook for 30-45 minutes. Stir the kidney beans and coriander into the chilli and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220C/ gas 7. Make the pancakes according to the basic pancake recipe (see left), stirring the coriander into the finished batter. Stack the cooked pancakes between pieces of greaseproof paper while making the rest.

Fold each pancake in half and then half again, creating a triangle with 2 pockets. Spoon some of the chilli into the pancake pockets and place in an ovenproof dish.

Scatter over the cheese and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden. Serve the pancakes hot with any or all of the serving suggestions below:

Guacamole and/or sour cream

1 onion, chopped

Green salad

Lime wedges

Jalapeno chillies

TIP: It’s well worth making double of the chilli so you have plenty for another day. Store in the fridge for a few days or freeze.

Photography: garethmorgans.com

Mussaman Duck Curry

MUSSAMAN DUCK CURRY

 

This wonderfully rich spicy Thai curry is made with duck, but is also really good with lamb, chicken or beef.

 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 tablespoons mussaman curry paste (see below)

2 bay leaves

4 duck breasts – skin removed, cut into bite-size pieces

6 shallots, peeled and cut into quarters, lengthways

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

1 yellow pepper, cut into pieces

1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoons palm or soft brown sugar

1 teaspoons tamarind paste/puree

200ml water or beef stock

500g peeled red potatoes, cut into 2-3cm cubes, cooked until almost tender

100g roasted salted peanuts

 

to serve

chopped roasted salted peanuts

Thai Fragrant/Jasmine Rice

 

Heat a wok or saucepan with the oil and then add mussaman paste and bay leaves. Fry until the paste is bubbling for about 30 seconds.

 

Add the duck and shallots, stirring for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat and add the coconut milk, yellow pepper, fish sauce, palm sugar (or soft brown sugar), tamarind and water or stock. Bring to the simmer and leave to cook for about 20 minutes.

 

Add the potatoes and peanuts and cook for a further 10 minutes until the sauce is nicely thickened.

 

Serve the curry straight away with peanuts scattered over the top, and with plenty of steaming hot rice.

 

 

Tip…

Many large supermarkets, oriental or Indian shops sell Tamarind paste/puree. Barts Spices sell it in little jars which is easily available.

 

You can buy ready made mussaman paste in jars or packets but if you can’t get hold of any, or fancy making your own, here’s what you do…

 

Roughly chop 7 long red chillies and soak in 5 tbsp hot water for 1 hour.

Heat a frying pan and add 1/2 tsp white peppercorns, 1/2 cumin seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds and 1 stick of cinnamon. Roast gently until they release a spicy aroma and begin to darken. Tip into a spice grinder, liquidiser or pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder. Add the chillies and the water, 150g chopped shallots, 6 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp chopped ginger, 1 tsp mild curry powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp shrimp paste or 3 tinned anchovies. Either blend or pound really well to give you smooth paste.

This will give you about 10 tbsp – enough for 2 of the above curries. Any leftover can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks.

 

 

 

BOOZY CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

 

Stuck for a gift idea for your loved one this Valentine’s? These chocolate truffles are a perfect treat. Once made, package in a gift box and store in a cool place.

Makes about 16Chocolate truffle

150ml double cream

15g butter

150g good quality dark chocolate (about 70 per cent cocoa solids)

A small pinch of salt

1tbsp of your favourite liqueur – eg rum, brandy whisky, Malibu, Cointreau/Grand Marnier, Tia Maria, Amaretto, Frangelico

50g grated dark chocolate, or sieved cocoa powder, to coat

 

Place the double cream in a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Once the cream is hot, but not quite boiling (small bubbles will appear on the surface) add the butter.

While the cream is heating, break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour over the hot cream and butter and stir well until the chocolate melts into the cream. Add the salt and your chosen liqueur, mixing in well until smooth, and then place the bowl in the fridge for at least 2 hours to completely set.

Once the truffle mixture has set, scoop teaspoons at a time and roll into balls. Make sure your hands are nice and cool. If they get too hot and the chocolate starts to melt, run them under the cold water tap for a short time.

The truffles can now be either rolled in the grated chocolate or sieved cocoa. The easiest way to do this is to put the grated chocolate or cocoa in a sandwich bag, add a couple of truffles at a time and shake gently.

Store in the fridge or somewhere very cool before serving, or place in a gift box.

Photography: www.garethmorgans.com

« Previous PageNext Page »

Latest Tweet

  • @appletreeang Yes The Flexible Vegetarian came out recently. Perfect addition for a Christmas wish list.

    Retweet Reply Favorite

From My Blog

rss
  Packed full of festive spices, stem ginger and ginger wine this rich and fruity Christmas cake is a real treat. This recipe was originally featured in a feature I did for Waitrose Food magazine November 2015.  Makes 1 X 25cm round cake   700g mixed currants, raisins and sultanas 200g soft dried apricots, quartered […]

The Gorgeous Kitchen

Next time you are flying from or travelling through London Heathrow’s Terminal 2, then please do come and visit this stunning restaurant and room with a view. Order some of my recipes from our innovative menu’s using fresh, seasonal produce or relax with a drink at our stylish bar.