Really healthy raw chocolate brownies

Mmmmm… this is a great recipe for Raw chocolate brownies, and it’s genuinely good for you. I used orange peel rather than essence, this seems to have worked well. Plus you can just keep it in the freezer and eat whenever you want. I enjoyed licking out the bowl even more than for buttercream, and that’s saying something. Enjoy! 🙂

Cheap cupboard nut roast

If you’ve got some nuts to use up, but no fresh food, and a food processor, this recipe is great. I made it up myself. No eggs, either!

300g mixed nuts
Tin tomatoes
1 small onion or large clove garlic, chopped
Big handful fresh herbs: basil, parsley (or heaped tsp dried)
1 can beans (red kidney, cannellini etc)
100g dried out wholemeal bread
1tsp mustard
Generous salt n pepper
Bit of oil

It’s really easy. Put the nuts and bread into the food processor and process until all are chunky. Then put everything else in, and blend until a paste that still has chunks of nuts etc. Oil a loaf tin, and put the paste in. Put in oven at about 180 c for approx. 50 mins – but keen an eye out and check whether burning. Check middle cooked, then tip out onto a serving plate.
I chill this and wrap up portions for the freezer – I can stick it into the microwave and use throughout winter. Enjoy!

Picking brambles: freely available fruit

I notice that fruit on the bramble that’s happily set root in my garden is about to ripen. Free fruit, with absolutely no effort to me. Great. No way is it a weed.

I’ll have lots more too, soon. Near where I live, there is a great big quarry, which has been overrun by brambles. Remarkably last year, two weeks after they started to ripen, there was still an abundance of blackberries to pick. I had seen a few Polish guys having a go, and many of the good berries were out of my reach. But there were still plenty to be had, and they are totally free.

I picked 1kg of brambles in total. I froze about a quarter of these, made another quarter into a smoothie, and have made apple and blackberry jam with the rest. I’ll put up the recipes at some point. This year I’d like to make blackberry cordial, too. The latter two are a great way to reuse jam jars and bottles, part of my quest to have no waste.

You’ve got to watch out for the creepy crawlies, and give the fruit a good wash. I avoided all brambles that were lower than the height of a dog, even if they were particularly plump… for obvious reasons.

It did make my hands go purple, but the dog loved prowling around while I was busy!

Salmon with nettles & roasted veg

I just had the most delicious meal… made with nettles!

I got about 15 nettle leaves (fairly young ones), washed and chopped, and put them into an aluminium foil parcel. I added about 3 tbsp. of white wine, a glug of olive oil, plus lots of salt n pepper, and then put a frozen salmon fillet on top. I rubbed about 2 tsp of English mustard into the top of the salmon, and wrapped it all up. I popped it into the oven with some potatoes, artichokes and parsnips roasting in thyme alongside it. The fish took about 20 mins (it was a small fillet) and the veg a bit longer… it was delicious!

Rhubarb and ginger jam recipe

I was round at some friends’ house, and they offered me some rhubarb. Now, I love Rhubarb and Ginger jam, and you can’t get it in the shops. So I jumped at the chance.

I adapted a recipe:

1.4kg Rhubarb, clean and trimmed
1.1kg sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ginger paste
200ml water

Use a pan that won’t react – I used a proper jam making pot, but stainless steel will do. Stew rhubarb and ginger in water until soft. Add sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil, boil rapidly for 15 mins or so. When it sets, put on a cold plate to see if a skin forms. Don’t overboil, though.

Meanwhile, sterilise jam jars by putting in oven on 150 degrees for about 10 mins. When jam is ready, spoon into jars. Put a wax disc over jam, ensuring all bubbles are out. Cover with wet cellophane and a jam cover, fix with a rubber band.

I must find a friend who can divide their plant, so I’ve got my own free supply in the garden!

Food from weeds: Nettle soup

I’ve always liked the idea of making food out of garden weeds – I don’t use weeds for compost so usually they end up on the rubbish tip. I’ve liked the idea, but have not been sure about the reality!

20130531_135625

So I decided to be brave and try out this recipe from Good Food magazine, using the very healthy looking nettles that are sprouting around my garden. I only got stung once when picking them. I picked about 200g, which was the leaves of about 8-10 tall nettles.

It’s basically a simple vegetable soup: potatoe, carrot, leek and onion with nettles. I used milk instead of cream. The recipe just wilts the nettles before blending but I wasn’t so brave, I gave it a good 5-10 minute boil after the nettles had gone in. Although I washed them thoroughly, I was a bit nervous about what had been in the garden. A bit silly, all our food ultimately comes from a garden, with bugs, animals and all sorts running around there.

The soup does not give off a very nice smell, to be honest. It tastes very similar to spinach soup, I think. Not bad at all!

Apparently nettles are nutritious – with vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. That’s pretty good for a weed…

English: Damselfly perched on nettle The wild ...

English: Damselfly perched on nettle The wild plants and weeds growing beside the path are visited by a great number of insects; the iridescent blue of a damselfly, taking a very short rest, is contrasting vividly with the green of the nettles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sugar, spice, and all things nice… like beetroot? Egyptian Lentil Soup Recipe

Close-up picture of cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum).

Close-up picture of cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love a bit of spice. It livens up some really cheap food and makes it taste delicious – especially pulses and lentils! So I loved this recipe from ‘The Spice Routes’ – another cookbook from the World Food Cafe, which produces great ideas.

Egyptian lentil soup

2 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
2 leeks
2 beetroots (I used pickled beetroot, which needed using up!)
1 potatoe
200g red lentils
Hot water/stock
Seasoning
Lemon

Dry roast the cumin seeds in a pan. Take out and grind. Add dash of olive oil to pan, and fry the chopped onion and garlic until soft. Add ground cumin. Then add rest of veggies, all chopped. Allow to sweat and cook a little. Then add red lentils and enough water and stock to cover everything. Let cook until lentils soft. Add lemon juice. Season, then blend. I used half a lemon because the beetroot would have made it too tart.

Delicious! I’d heartily recommend that cookbook.

Chilli recipe: cheap as chips

This is my favourite low budget recipe. It’s really quick to make and tastes delicious, and I think it must be less than $1 a portion (it’s certainly less than ÂŁ1 for two)

Chilli and chips

Red onion
Oil
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin tomatoes
Chilli powder / paste to taste

To serve:
Tortilla chips

Optional:
Jalapeno chillis
Yoghurt
Grated cheese

Chop red onion and fry until quite soft. Add chilli to taste, beans and tomatoes. Bring to boil and simmer for about 15 mins. Serve with tortilla chips (you can just dip these in to eat it, you don’t need forks!) and if you’ve got any, cheese and jalapenos. Delicious.

Spiced ginger biscuits made with wholewheat flour

I hate throwing food away, and generally ignore ‘best before’ dates. But, it’s important to use the stuff that’s hanging around in the cupboard! I realised I’ve got loads of brown flour to use up, so looked for a good recipe. These are really delicious – you don’t notice the ‘brownness’ at all. Because I used syrup and not molasses (it’s what was in the cupboard) they’re a bit lighter than this recipe, that it’s adapted from. I only had ground ginger so just used that, but I bet it’s nice with fresh ginger too.

•210g whole wheat flour
•1½ tsp baking soda
•2 tsp ground ginger
•1 tsp cinnamon
•¼ tsp nutmeg
•¼ tsp cloves
•⅛ tsp sea salt
•½ cup dates, chopped finely
•115g butter
•85g dark brown sugar or palm sugar/sucanat
•3 (heaped) tbsp golden syrup
•2 tsp fresh ginger, grated (or extra 3 tsp ground ginger)
•up to ½ C coarse, raw sugar for rolling

Cream butter and sugar together with a whisk; add syrup and fresh ginger. Mix. Add all dry ingredients, slowly. Form into a dough, and put in fridge for one or two hours.
When ready to bake, turn oven to 180 degrees C. Roll mixture into about 20 balls, and roll in dark brown sugar. Put on baking trays about 4cm apart.
Bake for about 10 mins, until the surface looks like it is cracking. Let them completely cool before transferring to a cooling rack and then put in airtight container.

Chocolate and hazelnut muffins

Just a quick one, adapted to use up stuff in my fridge!

220g flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsps. baking powder
200g white sugar
50g chopped hazelnuts
200ml fresh milk
100g margarine
1 egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla essence

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Melt marg (just) and wait to cool but still liquid. Beat egg and add to marg with milk and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients. Put in muffin cases, bake for 20mins (ish – check!) at 200 degrees centigrade. They came out delicious!