My YouTube Channel

 

I thought it was time for a YouTube update. Whilst I don’t upload as much as I would like (editing seems to take forEVER!) I’ve been trying to invest a bit more of my creative energy into this little channel. Quick ‘n’ easy recipes work best for this medium (in my opinion) – then again, I’m basing that purely on my own short attention span when it comes to online recipe vids. So, because of that, I’ve attempted to keep the dishes straightforward but would love some feedback on whether you would indeed like more involved recipes – totally open to suggestions so fire away.

 

My aim is to upload one video a week … they’ll vary between the book and blog with a smattering of super healthy dishes – and not so healthy because, hey, that’s life. I’m really excited about building this platform not only because YouTube has a growing vibrant community but also because I happen to be an obsessive viewer myself. In case you’re interested a few of my favourite channels include Mr.Kate, BeautyCrush, Alli Cherry, Niomi Smart, Nutrition Stripped and Shameless Maya … oh, and, of course, I love Mr.Oliver’s wonderful FoodTube channel too.

 

My latest recipe is for Homemade Hazelnut Milk but there’s also a recipe for my Carrot Cake Bites and Macaro-no Cheese on the channel too – enjoy! And before I forget, please do ‘like’, ‘subscribe’ and ‘share’.
 

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Virgin Pina Colada


 

So, I can’t actually remember how long it’s been since I last blogged – maybe a month, maybe more? My excuse is that I’ve been in the depths of book no. 2 and couldn’t come up for air, let alone a blog post and am only just getting back to normality after submitting my manuscript on Sunday. Now though, I’m ready to ease myself back into the swing of things with a simple but delicious smoothie … it’s the long drink I needed after pouring myself into my latest cookbook, which is due for release in January 2016. Yep, it feels like an age to me too. After writing ‘Keep it Vegan’ I felt an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders but that short-lived relief was quickly followed by an insurmountable dread that nobody would like or buy it. Thankfully my fears were unfounded but that doesn’t make releasing this one into the ether any easier – in fact, it feels as if more hinges on this publication being a success. Go figures.

 

With that said, I am so excited to reveal bits of the book to you guys, however, at the moment even the title is under wraps. What I can tell you is that I am over the moon with how it’s shaping up … the images are simply stunning, and I think there’ll be a little something for everyone – vegan, omni or otherwise. As ever, my recipes will be super straightforward (old habits die hard) with a good balance (gluten-free alongside sugar-filled is my style) and plenty of scope for you to adapt them to suit your needs and tastes. These are dishes I truly love to make myself, and although many were created especially for the book, they’ve now become regular features on my weekly menu too. Very few of the recipes are time consuming and, perhaps more importantly, I’ll be offering up tips on how to make your vegan lifestyle that wee bit easier with the inclusion of some non-foodie chapters outlining my approach to veganism. In a way, I write my books with me in mind – that may sound odd, but I kind of feel if I wouldn’t buy it, then why should I expect anyone else to. It’s also my only way of staying true to myself … something that is really, really important to me.

 

Okay, so enough waffle and onto the drink. If you really wanted to, you could totally pop some rum in this and turn it into a more grown-up affair but in my opinion it actually makes for a refreshing change to its usual boozy counterpart. Come Summer I am all about the pineapple, and try to secrete it into just about anything … salsa is a current top fav. Here though, it takes centre stage and rightly so – all we need now is for that predicted heatwave to hit.

 

what you’ll need

250g fresh pineapple, chopped

1 banana

100ml coconut cream

100ml coconut milk

1 large medjool date, stone removed

few ice-cubes

 

what you’ll do

Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until completely – for an even smoother finish, pour it through a fine mesh sieve.

Divide between two or three glasses and garnish with some pineapple. Serve immediately.


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The Fresh Vegan Kitchen … Corn Chowder


 

I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be able to follow a recipe instead of creating one. In the midst of this book writing business, receiving this gorgeous offering in the post was a welcome relief and meant I could forget about my own creations for at least one meal. Although they probably don’t know it, the writers of this heavenly vegan cookbook were the first ‘real-life’ vegan cooks I ever encountered. Four years almost to the day, I was booked into a raw cookery class at Saf in Shoreditch (sadly now closed), which was led by the magnificent David Bailey who was accompanied by his lovely wife Charlotte. A newbie vegan at the time (I was about a year into my journey ) this was a real eye opener for me and I learnt so much… and tasted some pretty incredible food in the process – so you could say I’m already a bit of fan girl when it comes to this duo. Since then they’ve gone on to win awards for their scrumptious street food (keep an eye out for their WholefoodHeaven van at festivals) and, of course, release a wonderful cookbook.
 

Not only is it a stunning book to simply browse through but offers a range of dishes from the very basic (dips, dressings and soups) through to more adventurous fare that all have something of an Asian twist. I went for something moderately easy to begin with in the form of the New England inspired Corn Chowder … mainly because my fridge and cupboards are pretty bare right now so it was a bit of a make-do situation. I’m rather ashamed to say I had to use (don’t judge!) canned (cough) sweetcorn and I didn’t have any coconut milk (or stock) to hand either, however, despite my embarrassing modifications it was still a resounding success.
 

What I’m most excited about getting my chops around next is the Hot Aubergine Salad, which looks sensational, with the Churros a very close second. Hot, crispy, sugary goodness – you’re talking my language! What I love most about this book is the balance it strikes between uber-healthy recipes and more indulgent dishes that don’t shy away from things like flour. There’s something for everyone whether you’re raw, gluten-free or, like-me, dabble in a little bit of everything. It’s easy-going flair is its biggest selling point … I predict it’ll be a book I’ll come back to again and again. In a nutshell, it’s fuss-free food, full of flavour that will inevitably put a smile on your face.

 

Corn Chowder

adapted from The Fresh Vegan Kitchen

 

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small carrot, chopped

200g sweetcorn kernels

4 salad potatoes, roughly chopped

1 tsp hot sauce

juice 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup soya yoghurt plus more for serving

salt and pepper

 

for the herby croutons

1 slice of bread, cut into 1cm squares

1 tbsp olive oil

1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

 

Method

1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sautee for 3-4 mins, then add the carrot and sweetcorn, season and saute for another minute or so.

 

2. Cover the saute mix with water (about 1ltr) and add the potatoes. Season generously, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15-20mins, until all the vegetables are tender.

 

3. While the soup is simmering make the croutons. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Put the bread in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and rosemary. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 10 mins until lightly golden, moving the croutons around every couple of minutes. Set aside.

 

4. When the soup is ready transfer to a blender and pulse until smooth. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the yogurt (or coconut milk), lemon juice, generously season and reheat for 10-15 minutes over a very low heat.

 

5. Divide into bowls and garnish with a few reserved sweetcorn kernels, sliced radish, spring onion and not forgetting the croutons, which I served alongside .

 

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Supercharged St.Patrick’s Day Smoothie


 

Shamrock day is almost upon us so I’m flexing my green smoothie muscles in preparation. Several years ago this green hued elixir would’ve been of the beer variety but now that my drinking days are pretty much behind me (one cider and I’m anyone’s … no lie) I’ve diverted my attention to a drink that is not only good for you but renders you hangover free the following day – hurrah! I’m actually going to be in Ireland for St.Paddy’s this year, albeit it briefly … we actually fly back to Cornwall on the day, which probably explains why the flights were so much cheaper, hmmmm. Having grown up in the Emerald Isle (not to mention living in Chi-town for a while) I am all too aware of the importance of this celebration for Irish folk but in recent times it has almost passed me by. Honestly, had it not been for the internet I probably would’ve forgotten the date altogether – I hang my Irish heritage head in shame. So, this year, I vowed to be a little ahead of the game and seeing as this supercharged smoothie is most likely what I’ll be ‘cheers-ing’ with, I thought it only too appropriate to make it into some sort of blog post.
 
I can already sense the collective cucumber revulsion so let me assure you right here, right now, that whilst the cucumber is indeed a crucial component to the drink, it doesn’t leave an overriding ‘cucumbery’ taste- that’ll be because we’re going to peel and de-seed the sucker. Ditto the fennel. I realise many people also have an aversion to this wonderful ingredient because of its strong aniseed overtones but a mere slice will merely lift the drink not overpower it so I urge you to keep it in.
 
Being a total green smoothie convert and having made it my mission to refine the combination of veg versus fruit to ensure a perfectly balanced smoothie, I am only too happy to report that this one in particular is possibly my favourite. Not too sweet, not too sour, it’s a beautiful blend of all that’s good for you and all that tastes, well, yummy. Still on the ‘green smoothie’ fence? Give this a whirl and then come back to me. In the meantime…
 

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks.
May your heart be as light as a song.
May each day bring you bright, happy hours that stay with you all the year long.

 

what you’ll need

1 x 3 inch piece of cucumber, peeled and de-seeded

1 small slice of fennel

30g curly kale

1 x kiwi

1 x medjool date

juice 1 blood orange

1 heaped tsp hemp powder

1 tsp chlorella powder

100ml filtered water

 

to serve

passion fruit seeds

sliced cucumber

 

what you’ll do

put everything in a blender and blitz until smooth.

serve immediately topped with a slice of cucumber and some passion fruit seeds

 
 

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Cooking with Clearspring … Mega ‘Morning’ Chia Matcha Smoothie


 
It’s that time again … yup, ima cookin’ with Clearspring. Or rather, ‘constructing’ with Clearspring, as I’m not entirely sure making a smoothie counts as cooking. Regardless, this is one heck of a nutritious start to day, packed full of  ’em superfoods you hear people banging on about… and not without good reason too, I might add. Chia seeds are the buzzwords on everybody’s lips right now, partly due to their gelatinous texture when mixed with liquid that make them perfect for puddings and smoothies but also because, despite their minuscule form, they are nutritionally mighty. If you’re worried about your protein or omega-3 intake then these are the boys for you. They also happen to possess some antioxidant properties, which I’ve boosted further by the matcha inclusion. But (I hasten yo add) it’s not all about nutrition – it has to taste good too, so I’ve attempted to keep some flavour equilibrium by adding the dates (for sweetness, obvs.), kiwi, blueberries and lime… they have a touch of zesty sourness that work really well with the other ingredients. The avocado gives the smoothie that wonderful creaminess much in the same way a banana would but seeing as I know many of you like your smoothies sans banana, I thought this would be a terrific alternative. Not forgetting the coconut water too – in this instance it lends a much cleaner taste than plant milk. I must admit, I’m pretty taken with this particular ‘King Coco’ variety, which is seriously lush… I was tempted to just stick a straw in and be done with it but I’m glad I didn’t in the end because this smoothie was, well, mega.

 




 

what you’ll need 

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 bottle Clearspring ‘King Coco’ coconut water, chilled

1 heaped tsp Clearspring Matcha powder

1/2 avocado

1/2 kiwi

juice 1/2 lime

3 medjool dates, pitted

large handful blueberries

(optional) few ice-cubes

 

what you’ll do

place the chia seeds in a small bowl and cover with a little coconut water. set aside for 10 minutes to activate.

 

put everything into a high-speed blender (I use a Froothie) and blitz until completely smooth.

 

divide into two glasses and top with blueberries, chopped kiwi and chia seeds.

 

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Raw Carrot, Cashew & Pesto Tart

 

Work is now well underway with the new book, which means I’m up to my ears and elbows in ingredients whilst I recipe test this and that. Some recipes are ones I stored (not literally) from the last book (we just couldn’t fit everything in) but most are brand spanking new, and everyday there seems to be more – aaarrgghh! The hard task is deciding what ones to use so I’ll be filtering a few out from time to time here on the blog.

 

This raw tart is one such recipe. I absolutely loved it (and so did my Hubby) so I wanted to share it now rather than wait. Now, I know I was ranting on about stews and casseroles not so long along but I feel Christmas is far enough behind us that we can properly contemplate Spring and get our systems officially prepped and ready.

 

Raw food is a bit of a passion of mine and as the months become warmer I try to include more dishes like this in my diet. It’s not so much a cleanse but I can’t deny eating this way makes me feel kinda amazing and maybe a wee bit smug… although I know 100% raw is out of the question for me – I just love my stove/oven too much. In saying that,when summer hits I’ll be back to eating my two raw meals a day and one cooked (usually in the evening – I’m a sucker for a summer bbq), which I’ve discovered is a good balance for me.

 

This triple layered tart (pie, slice, whatever you want to call it) is a great combination of tangy, herby and subtly sweet – that’ll be the carrots for ya – and makes for an impressive little starter or lunch option. The trick here (and with all raw food really) is selecting/using the correct equipment – that is, knowing when to utilise the blender, food processor or, as is often the case with me, my trusty Delia mini chopper. That thing never fails me.

 

I sometimes get messages regarding raw cheesecakes or cashew cheeses saying the texture wasn’t quite as smooth as they had hoped, and usually this can be directly attributed to what equipment was used. That is, for crusts and cheeses, I will always use a processor or mini chopper (depending on the quantities) and for creams I rely on my blender. Now, this doesn’t have to be a fancy high-speed blender but I can’t deny my Froothie does help in getting those creams and cheesecakes especially smooth.

 

For the pesto part, it can go either way but my preference here is to go down the mini chopper route because you’ll want to retain a little coarseness to aid the overall texture – crucial with raw food, in my humble opinion. You might need to scrape down the sides a few times with a spatula but that’s no great hardship in the grand scheme of things.

 

You could achieve a firmer consistency overall by popping each layer into the freezer in between but seeing as I currently don’t possess one (although hopefully that will soon be rectified) I made do with the fridge and it turned out pretty great. To ensure the layers don’t bleed into one another, do make sure each one is fairly well set (it will never be solid) before adding the next – the coconut oil addition definitely helps.

 

I love serving tarts like this on a rustic wooden board in the centre of the table and let everyone help themselves. The vibrant colours go a long way to dispelling those longheld myths that raw food is all ‘rabbit food and deprivation’ and gives it more of an inclusive, accessible feel – not some holier than thou cuisine that serves to alienate half your guests. Not my style. I’m all about winning people over through delicious, wholesome, attractive food… and, thankfully,  I’ve not had any complaints yet.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Your raw food future is just a slice away – you might be surprised how good it actually tastes.

 

 

what you’ll need

for the crust

2 small carrots

70g walnuts

1 tbsp mixed seeds

1 heaped tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

salt & pepper

 

finely grate the carrots and squeeze out any excess juice into a bowl – reserve this juice for the sauce.

 

place everything into a processor or mini chopper and blitz until it forms a fine rubble. taste for seasoning and add a little more salt & pepper if necessary.

 

line a small tray or loaf tin with baking parchment and press the crust evenly into the bottom.

 

freeze or refrigerate for half an hour.

 

for the cream

130g soaked cashews

juice 1/2 lemon

50ml water

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

salt & pepper

 

place everything into a blender and blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as you go.

 

check for seasoning and then pour over the carrot crust, reserving one heaped tablespoon for the carrot sauce. Smooth out with a spatula.

 

freeze or refrigerate for around an hour.

 

for the pesto

30g basil Leaves

30g spinach

2 tbsp mixed nuts (walnuts and pecans work best)

juice ½ lemon

1 small garlic clove

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp flaxseed oil

salt and pepper

 

place the pesto ingredients into a small food processor or chopper and blend until coarse but spreadable. taste for seasoning and add a touch more salt and pepper if necessary.

 

refrigerate for 20 minutes.

 

for the carrot serving sauce

reserved carrot juice

1 tbsp cashew cream

1/2 medjool date

 

place the reserved carrot juice into a blender, add the cashew cream and date and blitz until completely smooth.

assembling the tart

 

carefully lift the tart out of the tin and ease it onto a serving board. spoon over the pesto and carefully spread out using a spatula.

 

drizzle over the carrot sauce and adorn with crushed hazelnuts

 

et voila, your raw vegan tart is served!

 

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Homemade Almond Milk

 

Please tell me I’m not the only one panicking about Christmas? Whilst I’ve now made a dent in my Christmas shopping (Thank God for TKMaxx!) I’m so behind on all the awesome plans I had for homemade gifts. I’ve also been away from my own home, which has somewhat thrown a spanner in the works with regards to my blogging… side note; nothing beats the light in Cornwall. Of course, it’s super spending time with the folks and I’m doing my best to make sure Dad is getting all the goodness he requires but that means this little space needs to take a backseat.

 

If you follow me on instagram you’ll notice I posted a seriously lush  ‘Christmas CousCous’ dish I’ve been working on (I’ve gone persimmon mad this season) but I just didn’t like how the photos turned out so I’m keeping that recipe on the back burner for a bit. In place of that I thought I’d offer up my fail-safe method for Almond Milk of which I am always obsessed. And because I like my almond milk slightly sweet I’m happy to add a medjool date or two or even a squeeze of agave – actually my preference, as it doesn’t mess with the beautiful bright white colour of the milk… fickle, moi? For a flavoured milk why not play around with various extracts yourself or add a spoonful of cocoa/cacao for a yummy chocolately milk… really great for kids! I will be popping back throughout the week with other handy recipes to see you through the festive period. Now though, it’s time to hit Lidl to see what Christmassy vegan treats they have in store.
 

what you’ll need

85g (1/2 cup) whole raw almonds

350ml (1 1/2 cups) water

pinch salt

optional…

1/2 tbsp pref. sweetener (eg. agave) or two medjool dates

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

what you’ll do

place everything in a blender and blend on a high speed until smooth. pass through a fine mesh sieve or nut milk bag. chill for at least an hour before serving – will keep in the fridge for up to three days.

 

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Chocolate Chestnut ‘Mont Blanc’ Cups


 
I may be vegan but for me the queen of Christmas is, and will always be, the incomparable Nigella. No-one oozes festive cheer in quite the same way as the lovely Ms.Lawson and whilst I would love for her to promptly board the vegan bandwagon (Jamie and Hugh are both enthusiasts) and give us some plant-based recipes already I’m quite happy to veganize her already existing ones myself in the meantime.

 

I’m not ashamed to admit that leafing through ‘Nigella Christmas’ is undoubtedly one of my guilty pleasures at this time of year and I have a few firm favourites that I rely on regularly to help me out of any impromptu visitor fix – with her oh-so-easy ‘Easily Scaled Mont Blanc’ dessert being just one of them. I probably don’t need to tell you that this is one of the simplest veganisations (is that even a word?) ever. Simply swap out the whipped cream for sweetened whipped coconut cream or a dollop vanilla infused cashew cream (or even some soyawhip… I won’t judge if you wont!) and et voila you have yourself an awesome vegan alternative pronto.
 
But (but, but, but!) having done this several years on the trot I thought I’d go one step further and switch it up with my own (slightly healthier) version that still has the chocolately ‘soil’ bottom, unctuous chestnut filling and luscious ‘snow capped’ cashew cream peak… somebody has clearly been reading too much la Lawson lately, ahem.
 
In all honesty though, I was delighted with the richness of this (almost but not quite ‘raw’) dessert and despite being refined sugar-free (all hail the mighty medjool date) it felt decidedly indulgent – perfect for an alternative Christmas pud. Dont’ panic though, I’m still obsessed with these little French tins of sweetened ‘marron’ joy and you’ll probably find me spoon in hand eating it directly from said receptacle with gusto over the festive period. However, should I find myself in another chestnut bind (these things happen) I’ll know exactly what to do, safe in the knowledge the results will be equally decadent and impressive. Hurrah!
 


 

what you’ll need

for the chestnut puree

1 cup cooked chestnuts

3/4 medjool dates

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch seasalt

 

for the base

1 heaped tbsp chesnut puree

1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder

1/2 cup chopped almonds

 

for the cream topping

1 cup cashews

1 tbsp agave

1 tsp orange extract

 

what you’ll do

soak the cashews overnight. drain, rinse and blend with the agave and about 1/4 cup water until smooth, adding a little more water as and when needed. once completely smooth and creamy add the orange extract and blend until incorporated. chill.

 

blend the chestnuts with the dates, vanilla extract, salt and a splash of water until smooth. you may need to scrape down the sides of your processor several times. chill.

 

blend 1 tbsp of the chestnut puree together with the cocoa powder and almonds until it form into a putty. press about a tablespoon’s worth into 4 muffin moulds and chill in the freezer for about an hour.

 

remove the chocolate bases from the moulds and fill each one with chestnut puree. top with the orange infused cashew cream and finish with a little grated chocolate and grated orange zest. chill until needed or eat immediately.

 

 

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How To … Make Pumpkin Puree

 

Today marks the first post in what I hope will be a regular feature on the blog… the ‘How To…’ series. I may be setting myself up for a fall even by saying this but (wait for it) I think I’m ready to throw myself back into my blogging in a big way. Sure, I post here and there (and I always try to make sure it’s quality content) but I sometimes feel like I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties (consider my knuckles well and truly wrapped) so this is me doing my best to make up for all those squandered would-be blogging hours and rectify the situation pronto as best I can. Usually it’s my incessant (and probably incurable) over-thinking that prevents me from posting more frequently, which is why a format like this one might be a good way of getting me over this ‘but is it really blogworthy?’ hurdle.

 

With that said, it recently occurred to me I often don’t cover the basics here on PeaSoupEats and seeing as it’s nearing Halloween (and I loves me some Halloween!!) I suspected a mini tutorial on all things pumpkin related would be useful  and hopefully welcome by those of you who reach for the can of Libby’s more often than you care to admit.

 

My own pumpkin puree days began during our stint in the States – ah, ChiTown, you did give me some sweet, sweet pumpkin memories. Prior to that I was completely unaware of anything of the pumpkin variety and that includes pumpkin spice lattes (hurry up and make them vegan already!), pumpkin pie (oh Lordy)  and, my personal fav, pumpkin bread… Ob.Sessed.

 

One thing I would like to make absolutely clear at this stage, however, is that no two pumpkins are made equal. I roasted two for the purposes of this post (that brings my current seasonal tally to four) because the first was way too pale in colour and unusually watery in consistency. It’s not a typical occurrence by any means but as soon as I opened her up I knew she wasn’t a goodun – nothing goes to waste in this house though so the puree (as anemic looking as it is) will absolutely be put to good use. Thankfully Sainsbury’s came up trumps with the next pumpkin, which yieled a beautifully vibrant sunset orange puree that I’ve already used to lipsmacking effect in a risotto. Don’t say I never suffered for my craft.

 

So. Here I am. Pumpkin puree offering in hand. Ready for the week ahead when I’ll be transforming all that luscious golden nectar into some delicious (I tried to think of a more descriptive word but these early mornings are difficult enough as it is) sweet and savoury dishes for your perusal. Okay then, enough of the babble, let’s get to it.

 

 

What you’ll need

1 small/medium-sized edible pumpkin

 

What you’ll do

pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

 

halve the pumpkin using a paring knife (I find that large knives are much more difficult to manoeuver in this instance) and scoop out all the seeds… I invested in one of those little carving kits this year and the mini shovel thing was a godsend although a dessert spoon will also suffice.

 

put the pumpkin seeds/innards in a bowl and set aside for later (I’ll be showing you ‘How to… ‘ roast these suckers in the next tutorial) and place the halved pumpkin pieces flesh side down in a large baking dish… as you can see I roasted two pumpkins and the smaller of them fitted snuggly in one dish.

 

pour about 1/2 cup water over the pumpkin halves to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. roast in the pre-heated oven for around 60minutes or until the skin pierces easily when poked with a knife.

 

remove the pumpkin from the oven and turn them over immediately so they are flesh side up and let them cool for around 10mins before scooping out the soft flesh. let the the pumpkin flesh cool further for around 30-40minutes before blending (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400) until completely smooth. place the puree in a tupperware container and refrigerate overnight.

 

et voila, you’ve just made pumpkin puree!

 

 

 

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Eggplant Involtini

 

Every writer should have a desk. Having a designated space to spout ones thoughts would (and should… and hopefully will be) paramount to producing great work – right? It’s rather odd then that I’m only just getting around to buying one myself, which has made for some rather uninspiring make-shift work spaces in the past – the dining room table and sofa are often akin to an office but not having any real separation from work and relaxation has begun to take its toll. So, once we’d decided to tackle the spare room I knew we had to incorporate a little area for me to tap away … away from our living area. Being someone who is easily distracted having easy access to the telly, my vinyl collection, and most significantly, the kitchen, can frequently spell ‘where did the day go’ disaster so this new set-up is my way of ensuring I get more constructive work done during the day. Here goes!

 


 

what you’ll need

3 large eggplants (aubergines)

1 cup couscous

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp allspice

pinch cayenne pepper

1 lemon

30g bunch flat leaf parsley

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

 

for the sauce

1 x 400g plum tomatoes

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp brown sugar

salt and pepper

 

pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

 

heat a griddle pan and brush lightly with olive oil. slice the aubergines lengthways and brush each side with oil. griddle each slice for several minutes on each side until marked. set aside until needed.

 

bring a large kettle of water to the boil. add the spices to the couscous along with a little salt and a quarter of a lemon. pour over the boiling water, stir, cover and set aside until all the water is absorbed. once absorbed, remove the lemon with a fork, squeeze over any excess juice and fluff with a fork. lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry pan, shaking it periodically. stir the pine nuts and finely chopped flat leaf parsley through the couscous, squeeze over the juice from the remaining lemon along with a drizzle of olive oil and a touch more seasoning.

 

place all the ingredients for the tomato sauce along with a 1/2 cup of water into a blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400) and blend until smooth. pour about a quarter of the sauce into the bottom of a deep baking dish and tilt until the entire surface area is coated.

 

place the griddled aubergine on a chopping board and distribute about a tablespoon of the couscous mixture over the entire slice. carefully roll and place in the baking dish. repeat until all the eggplant slices have been used. if there’s any leftover couscous, toss some of it over the aubergine rolls prior to adding the top layer of sauce. I also like to reserve a little couscous for serving too.

 

pour the remainder of the tomato sauce over the eggplant rolls, cover and bake in the pre-heated oven for around 30minutes before removing the foil and baking for a further 10 or so minutes.

 

serve with the leftover couscous and top with rocket (arugula)… finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a smattering of nooch and a few chilli flakes.

 

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