Archive for the 'Healthy' Category

Pumpkin, chard & chickpea soup

sweet potato chard & chickpea soup

I sprained my ankle. It was not graceful (are they ever?), I was not drunk (contrary to popular opinon) and it was not a dramatic fall (kind of boring actually). I slipped on some leaves I was kicking- and no the leaves were not soaked in tequilla. It was just a cold Sunday evening and I was out for a walk with the food team and the next thing I knew I was grabbing my ankle in a dizzy sweat by the side of the road. I knew the instant swelling was not a good sign.

Working in a kitchen on one leg is not an activity I recommend doing at home. But this was a big filming week for us, so I knew I had to pull weight, quite literally. I spent the first day sat with one leg on the counter, julienning ginger and chillis. It was not graceful nor elegant- I’m beginning to think these two qualities are not applicable to my nature. So on day two I adopted a different approach- with the bad leg kneeled on a wheelie office chair I wheeled and wove around the kitchen, using my good leg to power me along. Effective, if not slightly luny. But lets just emphasize the effective part. Watch out people the bossy one is now on wheels!

sweet potato chard & chickpea soup

Making dinner after long days of high intensity wheeling is never going to be creative. Filling a bowl with soup I’d made a few days ago and heating it in the hotel microwave is frankly as good at it gets. But this soup is a pretty welcome tummy-filler after a long day working. It’s comforting for the belly and soul if not for the swollen bruised mass that I once referred to as my left ankle.

It’s full of veggies and a little bit of bacon- for uh, protein and flavour. You can leave it out if you wish, but I love the smokyness it brings to the soup. This is one of those soups that I think is best left sort of chunky. Actually, in all honesty the fact that the chard stems turned the liquid pinkish made me quite hesitant to blend it. What colour would it turn out? Plus, I find if I’m having soup for dinner it feels like more of a complete meal if it has some texture to it. So I puree’d a little, just to thicken then stirred through the chard leaves until wilted to serve.

So now that I’m sorted on the working and making dinner thing I’d really appreciate it if someone could provide me with ways to get me back running! The Director down here has been trying to convince me that eating potato chips will mend it nicely….now wouldn’t I love to believe that one!

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Carrot, avocado & cumin salad

carrot avocado & cumin salad

When I fancy a bowl full of health this is my go-to-salad. I can toss it together in a matter of seconds and know that soon enough I’ll be plopped on the sofa giving myself a hefty dose of internal TLC. With all that colour, you know that you’re on to a good thing. If I’m feeling energetic I might tuck some up in a sheet of toasted nori with a layer of hummus. But mostly I just like to sit back on the sofa, pull my cashmere blanket up under my arms and eat it straight from the bowl I made it in. I like the way that the carrots crunch between my teeth, the way the avocado is silky smooth on my tongue and how the mint leaves me feeling refreshed. Don’t forget the toasted cumin seeds, lemon and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for an extra dose of flavour and health. Be warned though, you may just find yourself bouncing off the sofa after a bowl of this.

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Crepecake roll-ups

crepecake roll ups

I seem to have a thing with rolled-up food at the moment. My mouth clearly thinks knives and forks are overrated-hands are the perfect shovel-it-in accessory.  Or perhaps it’s just that I eat far too many meals when I’m working. I’m not and advocate for working whilst you eat- but we all know sometimes it just, well, it’s unavoidable. And at other times- eating with your hands is just way more cool. Talk about being in touch with your food.

I’ve called these crepecakes because they are a cross between a pancake and a crepe. One of my oldest and dearest friends Robin introduced me to them and call me cheesy but it was love at first bite. I’ve invited myself over to her house on countless occasions since for crepes- and as a true friend she’s happy to oblige, even putting the coffee on too. Robin, you’ll note still calls them crepes but I think that’s deceptive. Not that you’ll find yourself unpleasantly deceived- but deceived nevertheless. They are based on a crepe recipe, though- from the Joy of Cooking, so I’m led to believe. Robin’s father took it upon his gifted self to alter the recipe and they morphed magnificently into crepecakes. I love how that happens.

They are thicker than a crepe but thinner than a pancake and I think they’re just divine. You can serve these anyway you like- my favourite is  to spread them with a layer of peanut butter, top with apples cut into matchsticks and rolled up. Don likes to fill his with crispy bacon, sharp cheddar and a drizzle of honey. Either way- you’re on to a good thing!  More recently Robin’s been making them gluten and dairy free and I think they’ve become something even better. She never actually gave me the recipe- I’ve been hassling her for about two years now- but never-you-mind, this is pretty darn close. Although I have to admit, they taste so much better when an old friend makes them for you.

I’m back off to West Virginia tonight for 3 1/2 weeks so please bare with me I will try to post as often as possible!

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no recipe- just nori wraps

nori rolls

Lunch doesn’t really do it for me. Don’t get me wrong- my tummy gets its growl going but I just don’t get enthused for lunches offerings. I know that it doesn’t have to be that way but lunch is usually at work- and often it’s eaten standing at the stove. On the rare (but totally decadent) occasion that I do get to sit and prop my clogs up I’m faced with a crew lunch, which is a far cry, wail and a few stomping fists away from the glamour one would expect on a TV set.

If it comes to ordering out the absolute last thing I will choose for lunch is a sandwich. It’s not that I don’t love a good sandwich, tuna and salad, extra banana peppers, hold the mayo they just don’t love me. If I go the devil route and eat that sandwich I will find myself suddenly slipping off into a peaceful snooze. And it’s hard to enjoy a post lunch snooze when you have someone screaming for a reset down the walkie. So, I stay away from sandwiches- they are my rainy day lunch at home when I know all I have to comply with is a 6ft 3 husband who also wants the couch.

This is something slightly different though- it’s not a wrap with a tortilla but with a toasted sheet of nori. It’s my kind of make-at-home sushi- which doesn’t involve a bamboo mat or a Japanese name. Just toasted nori stuffed with well, whatever your little heart desires. It’s the perfect lunch when you’re pottering around the kitchen all day with lots of little bits of tasters or leftovers that you can stuff inside.

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Chermoula-spiced hummus

chermoula-spiced hummus

I know I’ve done a lot of complaining of late- West Virginia, being homesick, living in a hotel room. Yes, yes. I know. I’m a right old bore when I’m working on a show.

But the thing is, I haven’t really finished my moaning yet. Sorry- it’s all I’ve got to give you tonight. I’ve just worked three sixteen hour days in a row- that’s six working days for the price of three for any normal person out there. Six! And it’s only Wednesday. And if forty-eight hours by Wednesday isn’t bad enough, which frankly, it is-  there’s another unlucky sixteen hours to come- starting at oh, about about 4 am tomorrow. And another sixteen everyday for the next ten days. Oh geez, will this two weeks ever end! I’m certainly not getting paid enough for all these hours. Note to self- must be a better negotiator for day rate on next job.

So please, tread carefully around me- I’m feeling a little overworked. A little under-inspired and every so cranky. I hate not having time to write- not feeling inspired to write not being able to get in my kitchen so I have something to write about! It’s quite the predicament I’m in.

Okay, okay moaning over. Lets talk hummus. On long days shooting when I find myself eating three four meals a day at work, standing at a counter, it’s hard to hold back the temptation not to attack the crew snack table with those amazing doughnuts with the chocolate glaze dripping off the sides. So, I take hummus- and lots of vegetables- it’s healthy, it keeps those sugar cravings at bay and it’s the perfect food for grazing on when mealtimes cease to exist. I’m not going to lie, hummus is no match to a fresh chocolate glazed doughnut but it’s a tasty way to fill your tummy up and it won’t make your blood sugar crash.

chermoula spiced hummus

When I first moved to New York, I was thoroughly disappointed with the hummus I could find.  Actually, lets be honest, I’m still thoroughly disappointed but now I just make my own. Only, it’s different.  I gave up trying to make it like it is in the UK- (if somebody could tell me how they make it so deliciously tangy I would love to know the secret) and now I spice it up with my basil chermoula pesto.  You can use any other white beans, but I just adore chickpeas. If I open up a can I’ve gobbled half a dozen before they’ve even made it in the blender or hummus, or this curry or this salad. Lets be honest, some days they don’t make it in the blender- I just pop ’em in my mouth like peanuts. On days that they do though (make it in the blender that is), I make this dip. it has a spicy, herby, citrusy note to it and you can make it as smooth or as chunky as you like. And seeing as I don’t have much control over the hours I work, having control over the consistency of my food is important.

The recipe below makes enough chermoula for two big batches of hummus- because if you’re going to go to all that effort of pressing buttons on a food processor then you may as well make a big batch. And trust me after sixteen hours working, turning the blender on is an effort. Plus, for me it means it lasts all week and on occasion I’ll share it with my colleagues. But now I must get some sleep. My veggies are chopped, my hummus is prepped. Sixteen hours, you say? Pah! Bring it on!

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Empty fridge fritatta

salmon & leek fritatta

Nothing gives me great satisfaction than clearing out the contents of my fridge. Don will ask what’s for dinner and I’ll simply reply the fridge (in a mad professor sort of way). There are a few lucky ingredients that I always try to have stocked and running out of them warrants immediate replacement- eggs, butter, greek yogurt, saracha chili sauce, dijon mustard, parmesan. But then there are those, which make fleeting appearances- flavours of the month, so to speak. I know, I’m so fickle with my favourites. Thank god for Don, I’m not fickle with my husbands.

This past month it was roasted smoked salmon- I had two large pieces and found myself scattering them over salads, into pasta and then finally the last 100g went into a brunch fritatta. Our friend Marc played victim to my tipping-the-entire-fridge-into-a-pan-experiment. We have a nice little routine going on with Marc- he comes over on Saturday mornings and plays personal trainer/army drill sargent to Don and I.  We in return reward him for having acheived making us do burpees and push-ups by making him breakfast. I can’t be certain but I’m beginning to think that he may have the better end of the deal.

We’re always ravenous on return so breakfast has to be on the table quickly. One weekend last month I ended up making this fritatta- which not only warmed and comforted our empty bellies but also served the dual purpose of clearing out my fridge. And that left me feeling rather chuffed.

salmon & leek fritatta

It seems as though there’s a little bit of everything in here- well I guess there is. It is an emptying the fridge fritatta after all. But don’t feel like you have to stick by my fridge contents- the first time I made it I actually used yellow peppers courgettes and onions in place of the leeks. If you don’t have the salmon, you could use ham or bump up the amount of chorizo. Or drop the meat altogether. Just don’t drop the eggs- they happen to be the important part- the glue, so to speak. And just because I called them glue doesn’t mean you should skimp on them- delicious eggs come from happy hens who roam grassy fields pecking for plump grubs. I try to buy mine from the farmer’s market. Serve it with a fresh loaf of bread or a simple green salad, depending on hunger levels. And if you’re daring a drizzle of saracha chili sauce wouldn’t go amiss either.

This recipe is a contirbution to winos and foodies LIVESTRONG with a taste of yellow in support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and to raise awareness of cancer issues worldwide. It seemed appropriate to me to share a recipe that in the making involved doing something to keep fit and healthy. The official Livestrong day is October 2nd and you can go to winos and foodies to see all the entries.

salmon & leek fritatta

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Slow-roasted tomato & herb tartlettes


slow roasted tomato & herb tartlettes

If you wanted to make me really unhappy and I mean extraordinarily bloody-the-the-bones-miserable then it really wouldn’t be that hard.  Taking away my lovely kitchen and dumping me in a hotel in West Virginia would pretty much do it.

I’m hoping that you wouldn’t want to do that to me- but in case you were thinking about it, you’re too late- somebody beat you to it. Not that I have anything against West Virginia- the mountains are quite beautiful, the people charming, but I miss my local market,  my oven, my Kitchen Aid. Oh, and of course I miss my husband too. As if living in a hotel with neither a kitchen nor a husband wasn’t already enough torture for me they have apparently taken away all the good restaurants from the town. Amazing how cruel these TV people can be.

slow roasted tomatoes

Anyway, if I were back in my kitchen at home I would be having a celebratory party- and I would be serving these. As the tomatoes begin to loose their prime, slow roasting them is a magnificent way to revive them. Slice on the vine tomatoes through the middle, lay on a tray sprinkle with a touch of salt and a scattering of thyme and bake in the oven at 150C/200F for 2-3 hours or until drying at the edges but still a little juicy in the middle- you can do it at a lower temperature for longer but this works just fine. I make up huge batches and then leave them in the fridge covered in a little oil. They are amazing as soup, or in salads and I’ve even put them in a tart. Here, I’ve gone down the salad route- mixing them with cucumber, spring onions and fresh herbs.  And because I’m always looking for new ideas to serve at parties I stuffed the salad into baked wonton shells (after eating some for lunch, of course).  They are so crisp and much easier to work with than any pastry- I assure you, the healthy part is just an added bonus.  You can fill them with just about anything- in the winter I make them with roasted squash, chorizo and feta. Make the shells in advance and then stuff them when your ready to serve. Speaking of stuffing- I’m wishing I could stuff this hotel room right now. And I know just where I’d stuff it.
slow roasted tomato & herb tartlettes

And in case you forgot- I’m hosting this weeks BSI (Bloggers Secret Ingredient) challenge. This week the ingredient is chocolate so if you have a recipe leave me a comment with a link to your entry by 9pm on Sunday September 13th. The winner will be announced on Monday September 14th.

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