Posts Tagged 'Vegetarian'

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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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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BSI Challenge: Oats


This weeks Blogger’s secret ingredient challenge is hosted by Jessica at Johnstone’s Vin Blanc and it was one that I got really excited about- oats. Ahh, oats, glorious oats. We plow through an inordinate amount of oats in our kitchen- sometimes I think I ought to be a spokeswoman for them.  Don and I both eat them for breakfast in mulitiple disguises and I find myself chucking them into all sorts of things for added texture and the health factor doesn’t hurt either.

I was going to come up with a new recipe but on second thought, being that this is a competition I thought I ought to get out the big guns. No ordinary oatmeal, pancake or granola recipe was going to do. I needed to enter my finest oat recipe- or rather my mum’s. This is one of my most popular recipes on the site (thanks mum!) and as far as I’m concerned  it deserves another day in the spotlight.

These are essentially chewy granola bars- bound together using golden syrup and either margarine or butter. The edges are crispy the insides chewy and totally moorish. I think that they are best straight from the oven, before they have even set- but my father likes them after a few days when they’ve….uh, matured, I suppose. Either way, there’s really nothing here not to like.

Go over to Jessica’s site to check out the other entries!

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Basil chermoula pesto, I think.

basil chermoula

It’s funny how one becomes so accustomed to their kitchen gadgets. Ever since I bought my new food processor I’ve been whizzing up pestos, breadcrumbs and pastry with only hint of appreciation for how easy it is and not a thought for how I would do it otherwise. When I cook in my mothers gorgeous kitchen I realise how spoiled I’ve been- or perhaps it’s how lazy I’ve become as a cook. Mum asked me how easy my biscotti recipe was and I replied oh, it’s so easy! but then on second thought I replied well…. if you have a kitchen aid it’s easy.   Mum doesn’t have these crazy gadgets in her kitchen. Microplane? What would I need one of those for? Chef’s knife? If I had one of those it would disappear in the garden with your father.

She probably burns a lot more calories than I do working in that kitchen.

I have a tendency to forget that other people’s kitchens are not as equipped as mine, which leads to me having a bit of a tantrum. When I arrived at my parents home last weekend I was excited about what herbs my father would be growing in the garden. Oh, the day when I can have a herb garden. I certainly won’t be growing lemongrass just because it looks pretty!

It was the rows of basil standing to attention that caught my eye. How could it not? It was looking as though it might take over the entire garden soon- clearly, it was only the tomatoes that the squirrels were interested in. Nothing like a bounty of basil as an opportunity to make pesto. Really, I ought to do something about it before it eats the nearby roses.

I set to work, plucking basil leaves. I had not set to thinking about how I might come to whiz them so fine that you’d want to toss them in your spaghetti. In fact it wasn’t until I marched inside with an overflowing colander of leaves that it suddenly dawned on me that pulverizing them might pose me a wee problem.

I did what I do most skillfully in the kitchen- I rummaged. Ah ha! Victory! A  mini processor was discovered and brushed of its dust and year old lining of breadcrumbs. Only, it turned out to be a piece of junk- one speed, one direction and one whiz would turn off the kitchen lights. This was going to be a slow and tedious project. On a second round of rummaging I came up with a liquidiser- of course my mother would have one of those with all those soups she makes. And that, finally I get to my point is why my pesto looks a bit like split pea soup- have you ever heard of overworked pesto? I had not until this day!

basil chermoula

Fortunately it tastes delicious and besides which this ain’t no cheesy pesto! I don’t really know what it is, actually. It’s basil, garlic and olive oil but it’s spicy and there are no cheese or nuts. I like to toss it with rice and pasta. I fold it through  ricotta and spread it on toast and blitz it into hummus (don’t try that in a liquidiser!).

You can taste the basil much better than when it’s mixed with cheese and nuts and it’s very light. Just try not to use a liquidiser- you always end up using more liquid than it wants and it’s so messy getting it out!

Oh, and after you read this you could head over to Good Food and check out my latest post there. Just a suggestion.

Continue reading ‘Basil chermoula pesto, I think.’

A RECIPE: Peanut butter & almond granola

peanut butter & almond granolaIt is true I’ve posted something similar to this before. It’s also true that last week I said I would not  be making granola after previous issues with my snacking hand. I’m so bloody fickle.

In my defense, it was my dear husband who demanded the granola.  Of course as a good little wife I didn’t waste any time tying a bow in my apron and tottering off to the kitchen.  At least when he’s around, things don’t last long enough for me to get snacking. In any case I ran out of flour to make my usual Saturday loaf of bread, so really granola was the best I could do for him. And I must say, this is brilliant granola.

Being that I’ve recently gotten involved in the BSI (bloggers secret ingredient challenge) I thought that peanut butter granola might be just the thing to make. The peanut butter makes for a really clumpy granola- or should I say chunky? Am I the only one who picks out the chunks first? The single toasted oats are always the last dregs in the jar to go- generally I’ve lost interest by the time I get to them.  I want a couple of nuts and a few seeds bounded together by cluster of toated and flavourful oats. This provides infinite more satisfaction than flakey granola. Plus it makes less mess when you knock back a fistful before pouring some into a bowl. You also get the added bonus of a healthy cereal tasting of peanut butter for breakfast (my mother would hate this idea).

Be sure to head over to Kim’s ordinary recipes made gourmet to see the other contestants and winner.

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A RECIPE: Waldorf with a twist

Waldorf salad with a twist

Waldorf salad was one of those side dishes that my mother made for a weekend lunch. I’m not sure that it really mattered to me what it was served with but more often that not it came alongside a quiche or Ploughman’s lunch. It was a very basic affair- celery, apple and peanuts lightly coated in mayonnaise- certainly not a meal itself but memorable nevertheless. I can’t recall ever calling it something as pretentious as Waldorf salad though- it was probably more like that celery and apple thing but essentially Waldorf is what it was.

It’s been ages since I’ve had mum’s Waldorf salad, but the other day I was craving some crunch and lets face it celery alone (even during spurts of virtuous eating) is rarely enough. Poor Don- he has felt rather shortchanged this past week since our return from honeymoon. Too many meals of rice and beans has left me with a rather desperate need for fruits and vegetables and Don has come home from his new job each night this week hoping for a big steak only to see salad on the table. Again.

So, I thought for this salad, I would at least add some meat- for his plate, anyway. I read around for ideas of what to put in my Waldorf salad but in the end it came down to what I had hanging out in my produce drawers. Strawberries, some fennel, a bit of tarragon and dried cranberries- because why not? I think this would satisfy most anyone’s crunchy cravings. Oh, and Don’s response to another evening of health food?


“Um, actually it’s Baxter now, darling”

“Mrs. Baxter. This is a blog-worthy salad.”

What a great husband.

waldorf with a twist

Waldorf with a twist

Sweet, crunchy, salty and sweetwhat more could a salad ask for?

Serves: 4
Diet Facts: nutritious and delicious

for the salad:
1 celery heart, sliced (roughly 1 cm/.5 inches)
1/2 fennel bulb, very finely sliced
1 apple (I prefer Granny smith), chopped
100g/ 4 oz strawberries, hulled and quartered
50/ 1/3 cup dried cranberries
75g unsalted roasted peanuts

300g cooked chicken or turkey breasts, cubed

for the dressing: (you can use all mayo or all yogurt but I find that the mix adds just the right amount of richness)
1 Tbsp mayonnaise (light is fine)
2 Tbsp Greek or plain yogurt (fat free is fine)
Juice 1 lemon
2 Tbsp chopped tarragon (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1/ Toss together all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

2/ In a small bowl mix together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad ingredients and toss to combine.

A RECIPE: Soda bread

Autumn has been fighting hard to shove aside summer in New York City. We’ve finally given in, powered down the A/C and pushed up the windows, letting in a cooling if slightly polluted breeze and all the delightful noises that a nocturnal Brooklyn blows in- fire trucks, drunk teenagers, car alarms and early morning visits from the refuse collectors. Home sweet home; as they say.

The enthusiastic presence of autumn has also induced a surge of baking in the brand new Baxter-Helm kitchen. Although, things did come to a temporary halt last night when I managed to spill Jamie Oliver’s favourite curry sauce all over my set of scales, leaving them decidedly MOA. There’s always a man to blame. Fortunately for Don, it was Jamie this time and not him. It was however, Don who broke my favourite tea-stained mug washing-up and fear not, for that he paid. A mug and my scales all in one weekend? Life, can be so brutal.

Still, I did manage to churn a delicious loaf of soda bread before things starting breaking- and if you can’t have a cup of tea in your favourite mug during times of solace, then at least have a slice of freshly baked soda bread with a wedge of cheese to hand. The smell of bread baking in the oven is one of life’s guilty pleasures and this rustic bread could not be easier to make- and by that I mean no yeast, no kneading and no rising. This is what we call in the cooking world ‘a dump and stir’- the ultimate in simplicity. Warning: this will not create a shiny, well rounded crust. It’s rugged defined edges all play a part in it’s rustic charm- the perfect source of comfort when life becomes particularly brutal.

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