Barge House (London) loaded bread bowls

My friend Jane sent me this clip.

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(CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO VIEW)

This deli in London sells more than 500 of these each weekend – these loaded bread bowls have become a sensation! No brainer, as it combines the best of two breakfasts: English cooked breakfast and nice (French) bread. At the Barge House, you have 5 combos to choose from. I made The Original.  It is easy enough: hollow out a sourdough, fill it with spinach, bacon, sausage, tomato, fried mushroom, egg yolks and grated cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted but the egg yolks still gooey.  My word, it was DELICIOUS and we literally licked our fingers!

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Healthy alternatives: apricot and cranberry flapjacks

I absolutely love homemade fudge, especially those sold in farmers markets in my county.  Unfortunately, fudges are chock-full of sugar, which research tells us is more harmful and more addictive than cocaine.  Indeed, Britain’s love of sugary stuff has plummeted drastically (spending on cake-making ingredients has slumped by £26.8 million) despite popular programs such as The Great British Bake Off (according to analysts Kantar Worldpanel).
So when I was at a farmers market over the weekend, I bought a bag of sweet apricots instead and baked some yummy, healthy flapjacks instead.

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This was how I made my sugarless apricot and cranberry flapjacks:

  1. Toast 1 cupful of organic porridge oats and 1 cupful of nuts and seeds in a 200degree oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle some coconut oil over the oats, nuts and seeds. Watch carefully to ensure that they do not burn.
  2. Blitz 1lb of apricot with 3 tablespoons of honey in a blender.
  3. Mix all together with 1 cupful of dried fruits. I used more cranberries proportionally but it is up to you.
  4. Bake in a greased tray for 20 minutes until firm but still spongy.
  5. Cool and cut into slices.
  6. For extra indulgence, you could top your flapjacks with melted chocolate.

Good for packed lunches!

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Dairy-free, gluten-free breakfast

I was writing and photographing on the topic of healthy breakfasts to tempt small children for my new book Facebook page, and I thought this would make such a lovely dairy-free breakfast.

I love milk and dairy products, and know that perhaps I should just cut down a little.  This base of mango and banana puree is a wonderful alternative to milk for cereals.

I served this with homemade granola, made from organic oats. According to many website sources (google gluten free oats), non-contaminated, pure oats are gluten-free. They are safe for most people with gluten-intolerance. The main problem with oats in gluten-free eating is contamination. Most commercial oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and rye (this is from kitchn.com).

You can make all these the night before for a lovely, colourful breakfast.

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Georgina’s Gnocchi with sage and garlic butter

Gnocchi is so expensive in Asia, though it is made of nothing more than flour and potatoes. My daughter made this, and it was absolutely delicious. That’s with some modification to the traditional recipe (we added some pumpkin because we didn’t have enough potatoes).

INGREDIENTS:

Two cups of diced potato and pumpkin (she used 3/4 potato to 1/4 pumpkin)
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 egg
Salt and pepper

For the butter:

1/2 a cup of butter
5/6 cloves garlic
A sprinkling of dried sage (or chopped fresh ones)

Boil the diced potato and pumpkin until tender (but still firm). This would take about 15-20 minutes. Mash them up and all the other ingredients. Roll the dough out into tubes and cut the tubes into bite-size portions.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until gnocchi have risen to the top; drain and serve.

In the meantime, melt the butter in a small pan. Saute the garlic until soft but not browned. Add the sage. Pour over the gnocchi.

True soul food ❤

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Roasted root veggies -a quick, nutritious sides

My family’s staple is potatoes, and I sometimes get bored with roast potatoes, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, jacket potatoes and oven-fries. Here’s my variation:

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  1. Par boil root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beetroot, parsnips).
  2. Spread on a baking tray.
  3. Add chopped shallots, herbs (fresh and dried) and a sprinkling of salt.
  4. Drizzle generously with olive oil and bake in a preheated oven until cooked.

Because root vegetables grow underground, they absorb a great amount of nutrients from the soil. if you are bored with potatoes the classic ways or are grain-intolerant, try this.

“Best-est” pizza

We’d probably sit on the beach and eat a slice of cold pizza (washed down with some beer) for dinner. I can think of nothing better. I made this pizza 🙂

When my children were young and we lived in London, we would go for a treat to a restaurant called Made In Italy on the King’s Road for the “best-est pizza”. The pizza at this traditional, small restaurant wedged between two shophouses, was simply delicious – doughy base, oozing with olive oil and fresh flavours.

This is my pizza dough:

500g pizza flour (I used Farina brand)
One 7g sachet of yeast (I used Allinson’s)
10g salt
water

For topping I typically use: tomato passata or homemade pasta sauce, pesto sauce, ripe tomatoes, onions, lots of mozzarella and whatever cheese I have in the fridge, lots of fresh basil and occasionally some meat (bolognaise, salami, tuna).

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
The flour, salt and yeast have to be accurately measured, whilst we can be more flexible with the water.
Make a well with the flour.
Sprinkle salt round the crater.
Make a paste with the yeast.
Pour the paste into the crater.
Mix with water, adding water slowly, as required.
Knead for about 15 minutes. It feels ‘bouncy’ when it’s kneaded enough (if you press gently on the dough with a finger, it should spring back nicely).
Let it rise for 3 minutes: put the dough in a bowl and wrap the bowl with cling film.
Pour olive oil into a pizza tray and rub it all over. Roll the pizza dough into the tray. Add tomato paste and mozzarella cheese. For that pizza flavour, sprinkle dried oregano on top.

Garnish with the topping of your choice. Bake for 20-30 minutes, ensuring that the dough is cooked through. Serve topped with more fresh basil and olive oil.

Note: the secret is in the quality of the olive oil and the fresh ingredients.

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An Asian Christmas Cake

Nothing like a rich Christmas cake to evoke the spirit of Christmas!

Being in Asia, it is either impossible or expensive to buy some of the key ingredients for the traditional Christmas cake, so my friend Jane and I modified the classical recipe slightly. I also used more fruit and more alcohol to prevent mould from growing (since I am in a tropical country):

2lbs dried cranberries
12oz sultanas
12oz raisins
4oz glace cherries
4oz candied ginger
An eighth a bottle of Cointreau, to soak the fruits in
1lb wholemeal flour (I like the heaviness)
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1tsp mixed spice
4oz almonds
1lb soft brown sugar
3 tbsp treacle
1lb unsalted butter
8 eggs
2 oranges, rind grated (careful not to add the white bits)
2 lemons, rind grated (careful not to add the white bits)

The easy method:

Soak the fruits the night before. If you are teetotal, use orange juice though the cake won’t taste the same obviously and will probably not last that long.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Carefully grease and line the baking tin with parchment paper (the quantities above will yield a 11 inch cake).

Cream the butter and sugar.

FOLD in the flour and the other powder stuff, alternating with the beaten eggs. Don’t beat it, or the mixture will trap air.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Transfer to cake tin. Cover with more parchment paper and bake for approximately 4 hours, until it is cooked through.

Cool in a wine rack. Once every three days or so, feed the cake with Cointreau until Christmas. If you smash one by accident, they taste good as rum balls.

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The mixture is soooo tasty raw!! You can see the goodies that went into each cake ❤

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Brown Windsor soup

It is good to read that sale of tinned soups is falling as people are opting for either more unusual or healthier versions. Soups are actually very easy and cheap to make.

Brown Windsor soup is one of the foods of my childhood that doesn’t sound good and doesn’t look good. Tried as I did, I could not get my Brown Windsor Soup to look appetising for the photograph, so you just have to take my word for it that it actually tastes more delicious than it sounds or looks. It’s the combo of marmite and Worcestershire sauce that rock it.

This is my version:

Stock bones                                                                                                                                                          Any meat you have, diced
1 tbsp Marmite
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, cubed
2 carrots, cubed                                                                                                                                                  1 potato, peeled and cubed
2 sticks celery, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon flour
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Homemade beef stock
Butter
Olive oil

Brown the meat in butter until the juices are released. Add the rest (except the stock bones) and sweat for a bit, and then add the stock. Cook for two hours over low heat. Remove the stock bones. Adjust seasoning.

You could blend part of the soup for a thicker concoction, but I like mine just so. Serve with liberally buttered fresh bread. Simple, wholesome treat!

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Overnight French toast

I am a great believer that the most important meal of the day is the breakfast, and have always made it a habit – as far as possible – to have breakfast with my loved ones. I think it’s a sign of love to get up that little bit earlier to serve …. a beautiful start to the day.

This one is inspired by my Norwegian friend Bente, who mentioned in conversation that when she was a child, her mother would make oat porridge, wrap the pot in old duvet and when they came back from skiing, there would be warm porridge waiting for them.

This is my cheat’s version of a hot, cooked breakfast for the days you want to lie in bed: you make it the night before, and an hour before breakfast, you just put it in the oven in a bain-marie for the most delicious hot breakfast ever.

METHOD

Mix together the following:

4 eggs
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/w cup full cream milk
1/4 cup maple honey

Butter a loaf tin. Roughly cut a French loaf into cubes, layer the bread cubes with berries, and pour the concoction over the bread and berries layer. Ensure that the bread is immersed in the liquid. Leave overnight in the refrigerator. About an hour before breakfast, cook in a low oven in a bain-marie until the mixture and the bread meld together. Serve whilst it’s still hot, drizzled with honey and with a sides of fresh cream.

Made the night before:

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‘When you run out of butter’ cake

Having baked an apple cake yesterday, I saw that I had some over-ripe and blackened bananas in the fruit bowl, and in a cake-baking mood, I decided to bake a banana cake with the little butter I had left, I subsisted the dairy with sour cream (which was going off anyway, having been sitting around in the fridge for quite a long time):

I only had about 100g of butter left, so I used 100g (less a little for greasing the loaf tin) 1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
3/4 cup organic brown sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large ripe bananas
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf tin. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour until the insides are no longer sticky when poked with a fork.

Very yummy indeed.

(I served mine with ice cream and drizzled with dulce le leche)

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