The Treats That Pass Us By

A highlight of studying real food and cooking from scratch is discovering all those little hints and tips, treats and surprises.  It’s wonderfully satisfying when you come across something that’s terribly simple yet joyfully delicious.  There’s so many of them out there and it’s got to be the easiest way to get people engaged and inspired to start cooking real food for themselves.  It’s exciting to think that I might stumble across something new tomorrow – note that when I say new, I mean re-discovering recipes, skills and techniques that we’ve lost over the years.

Now that it’s Autumn here in the UK, wonderful varieties of squash are starting to appear in the shops and on farmer’s market stands.  The seasonal glut results in very reasonable price tags and I’m always tempted by the myriad of autumnal colours and odd shapes.  Soon it’s going to be Halloween, that time of year when we waste copious amounts of perfectly good food…

Harlequin Squash

So here it is: when you cut your squash or pumpkin and scrape out the seeds, don’t throw them away!  I pop them in a sieve and separate them from the pith.

Harlequin Squash Seeds

Cleaned Harlequin Squash Seeds

After drying them off I have a couple of options; store and sow them to grow more plants, or prep and eat them.  More often than not I roast them in the oven with a tiny amount of oil and salt (150°C for about 20 minutes works but you might want to keep an eye on them and give them a shake).

Once cooled, they make a devilishly moreish and deliciously crunchy little snack!  They’ll happily take a little flavouring like paprika or cayenne pepper and they’re perfect served with drinks before dinner.

Roasted/Toasted Harlequin Squash Seeds

Coffee & Cake Makes Us Stronger

People are awesome.  We had such a great Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support today and raised a stack of cash for the charity in the process.  We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that came along for cake and a natter.  I’ll admit that I had to go with the 7am backup Portuguese Tarts as I wrecked the tiered Ombre Cake that my wife requested… Probably for the best as our guests brought beautiful homemade cakes which were all delicious (and I’ll definitely be going for a run in the morning).  Experimenting with Superfood Brownies and Amazeballs was truly worthwhile and made it accessible to everyone.

The highlight for me?  Whilst Emma was counting up, Felix asked if he could put some money in the box from his piggy bank.


2014 Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support

http://coffee.macmillan.org.uk/

The yearly Coffee Morning is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event.  They ask people across the UK to hold a coffee morning and raise money for people living with cancer. In 2013, 154,000 people signed up, raising a record £20 million.

What a shame it’s only once a year!

Anna's Banana Cake no-cook superfood browniesMacmillan Cancer Support Coffee Morning

Blackberries you say…

Blackberry Granita

This is great as a dessert for anyone that suffers from intolerances such as Dairy or gluten.  Hell, it’s a great dessert anyway!  There’s a plethora of flavour options; coffee, pink grapefruit, lemon & lime etc.  We’re celebrating the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador program’s 2nd Birthday with this one!

As we are in the prime of Blackberry season in the UK, here’s an almost free recipe that’s a perfect little treat.

Blend about 300g of freshly foraged blackberries with a dash of water and the juice of half a lemon.

Make a sugar syrup by heating 150g of sugar in 300ml of water until it dissolves.  Strain the blackberry juice and mix it with the sugar syrup in a metal tray.

Blackberry Granita mix

Pop the tray in the freezer and then simply run a fork through it every 30 minutes until you have a crystalline consistency.

You can store the granita in Tupperware in the freezer for ages and dip into it whenever you need an autumnal fix.

Celebrating with a Foraged Blackberry Granita

Raw Broccoli Salad

Speciality diets are very topical at the moment and this recipe fits in nicely with both the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution September challenges and a request from the talented Marie-Elise over at http://www.mazwo.com

Hold onto your hats, we’re going raw, gluten-free, wheat-free, vegetarian…

broccoli

A great friend shared this with us on a camping trip.  I admit that at first I was rather sceptical about eating raw broccoli, and I expect others to be hesitant.  Trust me though, it’s so good that you won’t be able to put the bowl down.

  • Broccoli
  • Flaked Almonds
  • Raisins
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & Pepper

Cut the broccoli into bitesize florets.  Mix them in a bowl with some grated cheddar cheese, a scattering of raisins and flaked almonds, and then add just enough mayonnaise to bind it all together.  Season and serve.

Raw Broccoli Salad

Top Tip: Once you’ve separated a floret from the stalk, slice into the base of the stem and pull it apart rather than just hacking it up.  It’s more time consuming, but they split evenly and you don’t end up with lots of tiny pieces.

What’s With All The Intolerance?

This isn’t my kind of subject, but I feel I need to provide at least some comment as a way of documenting for future reference.

I’m fairly sure that you all know someone that has a food intolerance right?  I seem to have a growing number of friends that are not specifically (medically) allergic to something, but react adversely and thus impose strict dietary regimes upon themselves.

What’s that all about?  It’s pretty easy to be negative about this subject but we could all do with trying to improve our understanding.

Perhaps these intolerances have always been there. Perhaps we have just become more accurate and astute at diagnosis?  I don’t buy that.  There has to be a root cause.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to exclude so many things from your diet; Vegetarianism seems like a dream by comparison (for both cooks and their guests!).  When you start to look into how many products contain say gluten or fructose, wheat or dairy, you can start to appreciate just how very limiting these intolerances are.

On a positive note, I’ve surprised myself recently as it turns out it’s quite possible to produce some lovely dishes that you wouldn’t believe could be gluten-free.  Quiche anyone?

Gluten Free Quiche

GF Quiche

Is there something that should be raising serious concern here?  I’ve heard some astonishing figures recently, such as “35% of the population in the UK have some form of intolerance”.

We have to get one thing straight here before I get lynched: there is without doubt a rather broad spectrum which is very real, and ranges from those making a conscious choice i.e. “I feel much better in myself if I cut out bread”, to those unfortunate enough to be Coeliac. 

I’m going to share my view on this, but given that i’ve decided to write about it, I’m sure that you already know what I’m going to say…

I think that perhaps we’re all now experiencing the impact of a hyper-processed diet in our younger years, certainly those of us having lived our childhoods in the 80’s anyway. 

With the uptrend of Real Food and the general public being more switched-on about what they eat and drink, I think that our bodies are paying the price for our past.  If you’ve been used to having over-processed ingredients for most of your life, how is your body going to react to the real stuff…

So is balance the solution? I’m fairly confident that it’s the best preventative method.  Fingers crossed for Felix. 

For recipes and ideas take a look at www.mazwo.com