Coconut and Chia Breakfast Bowl

Coconut and Chia Breakfast Bowl
I never know what to have for breakfast. I consider myself an incredibly unfussy eater as I will pretty much vacuum up anything, but when it comes to breakfast I stumble. I always wake up feeling a little nauseous, pregnancy or no pregnancy. I can’t do fruit – too acidic, dairy increases the nausea, I don’t like eggs and bread is a no-go for me except high days and holidays. The only thing that really sits well with me is protein and nuts.

Coconut and Chia Breakfast Bowl

I like my breakfast simple, quick and healthy and now it’s January and I’m looking ahead to the incredibly life changing year that’s in store for me I want to treasure my body and start each day with good intentions, even if I have succumbed to my Christmas chocolate stash by 4pm.

Chia Seeds

I’ve been making this Coconut and Chia Breakfast bowl for the past few mornings and it has fit my fussy bill completely. It’s not too sweet, it’s dairy free, has lots of protein from the nuts and coconut and is surprisingly filling. Plus I love chia seeds.

Coconut and Chia Breakfast Bowl

You can buy chia seeds from any health food shop and they are good to go on anything but they are best when paired with liquid. When cooked into the coconut milk they swell up to form little bubbles with a slight pop in the mouth. That is what I love about this breakfast bowl – the texture. Often I think I care more about the texture of a food than the taste and this one has it all; the creaminess of the coconut, the slight crunch of the almonds, the chew of the figs and the pearly goodness of the chia. It’s a terribly satisfying breakfast.

Coconut and Chia Breakfast Bowl

Since this only takes about 10 minutes to prepare I have been rustling it up with no effort in the mornings but if you enjoy those extra 10 minutes in bed I see no reason why you can’t make it the night before and fridge it until the morning, although it will mean that the finished result softens slightly but that might be to your preference.

I serve mine with either toasted coconut shavings or sliced banana, perhaps even an extra drizzle of maple syrup if I dare.

Coconut and Chia Breakfast Bowl

Coconut and Chia Breakfast Bowl
Serves 1

200g Coconut Milk
2 tablespoons Chia Seeds
25g Desiccated Coconut
30g Whole Almonds, toasted then roughly chopped
40g dried figs (about 2), roughly chopped
½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Maple Syrup

  1. Place all the ingredients in a medium sized saucepan.
  2. Bring everything to a gentle boil as you stir it all together.
  3. Turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes so all the coconut milk is absorbed.
  4. Serve with a topping of your choice.

Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad

Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad

I love all my cookbooks equally.

Actually that’s not true at all, I definitely have some that I give a higher regard to more than others.  And some are just plain useless but they might be signed by the author or kept for sentimental reasons.  I continually cull my cookbooks, especially since I’m a bit of an impulse cookbook buyer and acquire a lot of dross, so this has to be done regularly lest my house become overrun and my husband gets grumpy.  Last week I sent another batch to the charity shop, always a sad day but it had to be done to make way for my new Christmas cookbooks, of which there are many.

Wesley reading OttolenghiI do read and use recipes from my cookbooks all the time but this January I want to make sure all the newbies get christened as soon as possible so they feel truly welcome and part of the family.  So the first one to get the royal treatment was Jerusalem, a book I have been longing for all year.  Ottolenghi’s previous cookbooks, Ottolenghi and Plenty, are my kitchen stalwarts and a first glance at Jerusalem confirms that his third time out is not a disappointment to the canon.
fennelOttolenghi’s recipes seem to made for Januarys.  The ingredient lists always feature fun new spices that you haven’t heard of before and unique ways of marrying herbs and vegetables that can inspire even the most rigid of detoxes. There were plenty of recipes I wanted to try immediately but this salad is the one that leapt off the page, purely because I had all the ingredients in and thankfully used up one of the dozens of oranges I have hanging around.
Chicken Orange and Fennel Salad2

This salad was so zingy and fresh and the method of preparing the orange was a unique way to create a fruit dressing.  I am definitely going to try the same technique with lemons and limes.  The resulting blended orange mixture was slightly bitter from the orange peel but the honey and orange juice added sweetness with a gentle infusion of saffron.  As the orange coated the warm chicken the zesty oils were released and were so delicious with the fennel and herbs.  The only thing I found in the recipe was that in the initial boiling of the orange I topped up the water a couple of times as the liquid was running too low and not covering the orange enough for it to soften.

Another great thing as well is that you yield more orange than is needed and it can easily be kept in the fridge, ready for the next batch you are going to make the following day, which I guarantee you will as it is hella good.

Chicken Orange and Fennel Salad4
Chicken Orange and Fennel Salad5

Saffron Chicken and Herb Salad

Serves 2
Recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamini, adapted for quantities

1 orange
½ tsp of saffron threads
50g honey
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 fennel bulb, sliced finely
Handful of coriander leaves, torn
Handful of mint leaves, torn
Handful of basil leaves, torn
½ red chilli, seeds removed and sliced
½ garlic clove, crushed

  1. Trim and discard 1 cm off the top and bottom of the orange, then cut into 12 wedges, keeping the skin on, removing the pips and place in a saucepan along with the saffron and honey. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 1 hour until the orange peel is soft.
  2. Blitz the orange with all the liquid in a blender until smooth. Leave to cool.
  3. Toss the chicken breasts with 1 tbsp of olive and seasoning and grill for about 2 mins on each side on a very hot griddle to achieve the char lines, then move to an oven pre-heated to 180°C for 10-15 mins until the chicken breasts are just cooked. Remove from the oven and leave for a few mins until cool enough to handle.
  4. Tear the chicken up with your fingers and place in a large bowl. Add ¼ of the orange mixture and stir to thoroughly coat the chicken.
  5. Add the fennel, coriander, mint, basil, chilli and garlic to the chicken and toss together with the olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning.
Chicken Orange and Fennel Salad3

Roasted Aubergine and Courgette with Sumac and Herbs

Roasted Aubergine and Courgette with Sumac and Herbs

Today I was very excited to make a silky warming butternut squash soup.  It was exactly what I was hankering for.  I took the stock out of the freezer last night, leered over the butternut in eager anticipation and fished out the chipotle from the very back of the cupboard.  I used a ladder and everything.  It was all systems go.  And then I smashed my kitchenaid blender.  I still don’t understand how as the glass on those things is about an inch thick.  But it briefly kissed the surface of my ceramic sink and shattered like the fragile heart of a tween.

So, basically, you are not getting soup and I’m getting a new blender.

courgette and aubergine3So stepping up to the plate is one of my absolute faves.  It’s probably the one I make the most often of a weekday.  So easy to throw together in the roasting tray straight after work.  Whack it in the oven, have a sit down with a glass of sparkling water, as it’s January, then serve with anything you like.  I have it the most with grilled lamb chops.  It might also be even better the next day taken out of the fridge and brought up to room temperature to have at your desk for lunch, I would never bother re-heating this.  I have eaten it with leftovers, with roast chicken, with garlicky yoghurt drizzled generously over and taken it to picnics.
courgette and aubergineDue to the amount of oil that the aubergine soaks up it’s very rich and so you don’t need a great deal, not that I usually let that stop me.

Oh, and the best thing about this dish… it doesn’t require a blender.

Roasted aubergine and courgette2Roasted Aubergine and Courgette with Sumac and Herbs

2 aubergines
2 courgettes
60ml olive oil
¾ tsp sumac
10g mint leaves, roughly chopped
10g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
10g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Wedge of lemon

  1. Top and tail the aubergine and courgette and then cut each one in half widthways. Halve each again lengthways and then cut into 16 wedges in total.
  2. Toss the wedges in the olive oil, sumac and plenty of seasoning and place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C. Roast for 30-40 mins, checking halfway through to give a good mix around.
  3. Once the aubergine and courgette are soft, lightly browned and slightly crispy at the corners then remove from the oven. Mix together with the herbs, squeeze the lemon wedge over and serve.

Warm Jerusalem Artichoke, Bacon and Toasted Cobnut Salad

Warm Jerusalem Artichoke, Bacon and Toasted Cobnut Salad

When the ferocious winds are battering down your front door and horizontal rain is attacking your windows so vehemently that you feel you are in the middle of the Atlantic entering the eye of the storm then the last thing you probably think of having for lunch is a salad.  However, due to January diets and the urgent need for vitamin enriched food then a robust warming salad is just the ticket.  Salads are one of my favourite meals to make and eat as they are so versatile and allow for such experimentation in flavours and textures.  This hearty combination of creamy Jerusalem artichokes, crisp salty bacon and sweet crunchy cobnuts works wonderfully.

Jerusalem ArtichokesJerusalem artichokes are not normally my go to veg but I haven’t really ever given them a chance so in the spirit of New Year resolutions I read Nigel Slater’s chapter on them in his Tender cookbook which is packed full of different ideas and is where I drew the inspiration for the salad below.
CobnutsCobnuts hail from Kent and after becoming mildly obsessed with getting my hands on some after seeing them on Paul Hollywood’s Pies and Puds a few weeks ago my husband luckily received some in his stocking from Father Christmas.  They are very similar to hazelnuts both in look and taste but there is something a little fresher to a cobnut and since we now have a big bag of them rolling around the kitchen, then do expect them to crop up here every now and then.  However, if you can’t get hold of any then hazelnuts and hazelnut oil can happily be substituted.
Jerusalem Artichoke Bacon and Cobnut saladWarm Jerusalem Artichoke, bacon and toasted cobnut salad

Serves 2

300g Jerusalem artichokes
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp cobnut oil
1 tbsp olive oil
85g cobnuts, de-shelled
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
A couple of handfuls of rocket

  1. Scrub clean the Jerusalem artichokes then steam for around 20 mins until you can softly pierce the skin with a sharp knife.
  2. Meanwhile make the dressing with the lemon juice, mustard, cobnut oil, olive oil and season and set aside.
  3. Scatter the cobnuts on a baking tray and toast in an oven pre-heated to 180°C for between 5-10 mins until slightly browned. Remove and once cool enough to handle rub the nuts out of their papery skins. Lightly crush the nuts in a pestle and mortar and set aside.
  4. In a frying pan dry fry the bacon rashers until crisp and set aside.
  5. Once the artichokes are ready then slice them with a sharp knife and toss them in the frying pan with the bacon fat and a splash of cobnut oil and sauté them on a medium heat until lightly browned.
  6. Toss together the artichokes with the cobnuts, rocket and a few crumbled up bacon rashers.
  7. Serve immediately with a couple of bacon rashers perched on top.