Trying something new…. BREAD

Once again… this is not directly related to Pinterest, but it was where my first interest came. I see all of these amazing foods and skills being presented, but tend to steer clear because I’m not very confident in certain areas… Well this is the day that all changes.

Trying something new…

I like to think of myself as a bit of a culinary wiz, but after some thought, I’ve come to realise that I’m actually quite lazy. If it doesn’t have many steps to the process, I’m all over it! Start to introduce more complicated layers and I push it to one side for a ‘rainy day’. It’s about time this stopped.

If I am trying to encourage you all to live a healthier, varied and more interesting foodie led life, I should be able to whip up anything and everything! Starting with the staples, simple techniques, and basic knowledge.

One of those being BREAD…

I have attempted a few ‘loaves’ over the years and each time, not really come out the other end with the desired results. They have always been edible; But maybe not so ‘bread-like’! It’s harder than Paul Hollywood makes it look!

So, with this in mind I booked myself on to a one day Speciality Bread course in the beautiful Lake District. I went in with the hope of being a master bread maker… and came out with good attempts, the realisation that making bread is HARD and bulging biceps in my kneading arm.

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They look homemade and rustic right? 🙂

It was a small group of 5 so we could get really stuck in and ask as many questions as we liked. Having a little knowledge on the process of bread making already, helped a lot because I knew what to do and what not to do… most of the time… but I’ll come to that shortly!

The course consisted of 4 different artisan breads:

Wholemeal

Light rye with Cranberry & Walnut

Hawkshead Stout & Parmesan Rolls

Bagels

So many flours to take into consideration, and each one needs treating differently. How I got out alive I will never know!

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It all went well… until you come to the bagels… Have you ever tried to make bagels? I bet swimming the Channel is easier! Ha! I can’t really say my attempt looked like a bagel, or tasted like a bagel. More like pancake batter boiled in water and sprinkled with poppy seeds. Edible? If you didn’t mind gooey batter mix encased in a chewy casing. I think it’s safe to say I may have failed the bagel test! But watch this space… I will be trying again, and next time, I will produce something edible and delicious spread with cream cheese and salmon!

Just look at that sorry mess! Ha.

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Lucy Cooks, the cookery school is situated in between a lovely little bakery and a brewery, so after the trauma of bread making, there is plenty to calm the nerves!

I had a thoroughly enjoyable day baking with fellow enthusiasts and having lunch cooked for me. The sticky toffee pudding for dessert was AMAZING! The whole day was worth it just for that! *dreams*

What have I learnt from this experience… PRACTICE making bread more often instead of putting it off because it takes longer than 5 minutes to do…

And, Parmesan rolls are sooooo good; warmed up with lots of butter to dip into soup or the juices left over from your steak!

I don’t want them to run out!

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Until next time foodie followers and keen bread makers!

Love and Lemons xxx

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Truffled Gnocchi w/ Mushroom Ragu

This is a recipe you’ll either love or hate… a little like Marmite. And I love both! I’ve finally found the perfect vegetarian comfort food. Rich, creamy, filling, full of flavour, with a real ‘meaty’ bite. And not to mention, absolutely delicious! It can be easily made vegan too. Double WIN!

I’ve been saving this recipe for when the boy has gone to play so I can savour it curled up on my own. He also isn’t a big fan of gnocchi, whereas I on the other hand think it is amazing!

If it’s right up your street as well and you’re also a lover of mushrooms, you NEED to be in the kitchen right now lovingly preparing this dish!

And what’s more… being able to take leftovers to work easily makes lunchtime the best part of the following day! *dreams of silky mushrooms encased in truffle oil*

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When taking inspiration from recipes, I always check the ingredients list and then read through the instructions a couple of times to assess technique and method. Unless it is a complicated one, this is as far as I go in terms of following the steps. I swap around ingredients depending on what I have available, or what I fancy at the time. If I can make it healthier, I will always strive too. It lessens the guilt and makes my body thankful for the kindness shown to it.

In this case, the recipe shows you how to make your own truffled gnocchi. As this was a meal being prepared on a weekday after work just for myself, I didn’t want to spend all night cooking, so I bought good quality ready-made gnocchi from the supermarket and tossed it in a little truffle oil to coat after boiling. It tastes as wonderful and is less hassle. If you have never made your own before though, I suggest giving it a go when you have time to do so. It’s worth it, and you can make all sorts of variations! But… Cheating is ok! I do it ALL the time if it means cutting cooking time down after a long day at work.

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The mushroom ragu is divine! I don’t like to use packet mixes when it comes to spice rubs if I have all the ingredients to hand. This is because I can tailor it to suit my own tastebuds. For the rub in this recipe I used chilli flakes, smoked paprika, oregano and cumin seeds; and then ground them to a powder. If you have read any of my other blog posts, you know I like it hot, so it’s a given that extra chilli is added J

For this recipe to work, you need sturdy, nutty mushrooms. I used forestiere mushrooms, which you can get easily at the supermarket. When I can get hold of them, I also love Chinese mushrooms as they add an extra depth. Mix both varieties for a heavenly ragu. To keep the dish vegetarian, mix a vegetable stock cube with marmite. Or if you are a meat eater, you can swap the marmite for Bovril. Both are delicious! The recipe doesn’t actually include this, but I highly recommend if you’re not using a beef stock cube.

And once more, just to keep it healthier, half fat crème fraiche to finish it off really adds that luxurious touch to make it truly decadent.

Follow this link for the original recipe http://simply-delicious-food.com/2013/06/04/truffled-gnocchi-with-mushroom-ragu/ The blog is simple and down to earth. Not to mention the wonderful photography.

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If you do try this recipe, as its one of my favourites, please do let me know! I would love to hear from you.

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Right, now I’m off to stuff my face with the leftovers!

Enjoy the weekend fellow foodies.

Eat, laugh and feel good.

Love and Lemons xxx

Curried Thai Noodles

What do you make when you’re late getting home on a weekday evening and don’t want to slave away in the kitchen till 10pm?… You make quick and delicious curried Thai noodles! They are ready in 10-15 minutes and satisfy the taste buds after a long day. Not to mention it being packed to the brim with nutrients after a session at the gym.

What I love most about this dish is that you can create many different meals based around the basic broth; so make use of what you have fresh in the garden or leftovers in the fridge.

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On this occasion, I wanted some protein and a bit of flesh to chew, so I poached some frozen white fish fillets in the coconut milk before adding it to the rest of the broth liquid. I also threw in asparagus spears for more colour and crunch. It was delicious! Make sure you’re generous with the herbs thrown on top. They add an amazing depth to the soup and give your body a great health boost.

The recipe on Heather Christo is vegetarian, so adapt to suit your preferences like I have by adding fish. I use this recipe as a base and starting point for many variations. The only difference to the main structure in my recipe today are the coconut and ginger quantities. I love the warmth of ginger so I add extra, but I decrease the coconut oil to 1 slightly heaped tbsp instead of 2. I don’t think it needs to be as oily considering a tin of coconut milk is added too. This is just my preference though, so you decide what you like 🙂

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For the dish you can see in my photographs, use Thai green curry paste instead of red paste. I like the red paste more, but green was what I happened to already have in my store cupboard. The red Thai paste has a stronger kick of heat if you like a bit more of a punch, whereas the green is a lot milder. Once again, this is up to you. They are both full of flavor.

Then of course, you come to the main attraction… Noodles. The Heather Christo Blog uses rice noodle, which are my choice also. They are delicious, and contain less starch. If you are wanting a dish that feels more substantial, then soba, udon and egg noodles are just as good!

Just look at that photo, can you see why I couldn’t wait to give this recipe a try!

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Mmm, just thinking about this soup is making my mouth water. I can’t wait for another late or lazy evening where there is an excuse to throw this recipe together and curl up on the sofa slurping up that broth.

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I urge you to give it a try. You’ll be bursting with all the goodness packed into one bowl. You’ll not be able to resist going back for more.

Love and Lemons xxx

Green Super Smoothie

I haven’t posted for nearly two weeks due to being so busy! Why does life have to get in the way of sharing beautiful food with my wonderful followers?

I have some exciting posts to come, but for now as a little thirst quencher, let me introduce you to my utterly delicious on-the-go superfood smoothie. I created this one morning after a home workout, so I could drink it in the car on the way to work. It’s definitely my go to smoothie now when I want a boost first thing in the morning, or I feel like having a smoothie for lunch. It can be made in advance too so even more time is saved! Make the night before and put in the fridge for a quick fix the day after, or it can be frozen for up to 6 weeks in the freezer. You know what this means… MEGA SMOOTHIE BATCH MAKING for the ultimate laziness.

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I don’t usually weigh out many of the ingredients (apart from a couple) and just put in the quantity I feel like at the time. So you can adjust to your own preferences. My blender is the perfect cup size so I know stuffing that full to the brim with goodness is the right amount to make a perfect sized cup.

Ingredients: (Makes 1)
– Half a banana
– 1 Kiwi
– 1 tbsp. of peanut butter (no palm oil)
– 1-2 tsps. grated fresh ginger
– Handfuls of spinach
– Juice of half a lemon
– 1 Cup of coconut milk
– Half a cup of water (this can be adjusted depending on your preferable consistency and volume)
– Sprinkle of chia and sunflower seeds

Add to blender in this order, whizz and enjoy.

Happy slurping!

Love & Lemons xxx