Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

I like to think of myself as a pretty easy eater. ‘I will pretty much eat anything’ I will self-righteously declare to all and sundry. But if you dare to serve me breakfast then you’ll generally find I throw a sudden and unpleasant temper tantrum.

You see in my opinion breakfast is the worst. An amalgamation of all my least favourite things to eat; some because I am intolerant – gluten, oats and to a lesser extent dairy and some because I outright think they are heinous devil foods – eggs, mushrooms and baked beans.

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

So I have this horrid dichotomy of always waking up starving but delaying my body food until a more palatable meal comes my way, say lunch (although I am not averse to having lunch or even dinner for breakfast if I am feeling especially wanton).

Then, as the adverts say, I discovered protein shakes. Not smoothies, with endless helpings of fruit which dive me headlong into a sugar crash before 9am, but a less sweet and more nutrient packed shake. These take mere moments to prepare, just slam everything into the blender and whizz up, which I then consume whilst feeding Cole, clearing up his breakfast and getting him dressed. They are the ultimate fast food and don’t contain any ingredients that make my body want to heave – which can only be a good thing.

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

Whether you already have all these ingredients to hand depends on your love for health food shops. I am a bit of a health food junkie, in direct contrast to my cake obsession, and relish every nutrition fad going which means these shakes certainly don’t wuss out on that front. They are full of avocado, kale, banana, almond butter, chia seeds, hemp powder, flaxseed and of course matcha green tea powder and what made them an absolute winner for me was when I doused the whole lot in coconut water for liquidity. The result is creamy and refreshing and has been the perfect start to my day for a few weeks now.

Every ingredient in these Matcha Protein Breakfast Shakes has their place and are each filled with the most excellent health benefits, which you can google all about, plus because I have based the shake around protein, which you can find in the almond butter, chia seeds and hemp powder, it is so filling and satisfying.

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

The star ingredient in this breakfast shake though is the matcha green tea powder which I have been experimenting with as an ingredient, mainly in my baking, for a while now. It has such a unique flavour that becomes quite addictive. I have found though that various brands have different strengths and at the moment I seem to have quite a strong one in my larder. So I only used one teaspoon of matcha powder here but certainly feel free to add more if you are not getting enough matcha through for your tastes. Or if you haven’t had matcha before then one teaspoon is certainly a good place to start. If you’re not sure where to get this or any other of the ingredients in the list start with amazon which stocks everything you need. The only other endorsement I can give this recipe is this – it has definitely made breakfast time a much happier place for me to be; meaning less temper tantrums.

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

Matcha Protein Breakfast Shake

1 large shake

1 banana
½ avocado
25g kale (1 large handful), blanched
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
3 teaspoons hemp protein powder
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
250ml coconut water
3 ice cubes

  1. Bung it all in the blender, blitz until smooth and away you go!
Matcha-Protein-Breakfast-Shake

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese

I’ve tried to steer clear of this subject on my blog since I began it as I didn’t want to have to pigeon hole myself into any particular diet or limit the recipes I wanted to share. However, I’ve realised I’ve been doing myself and you guys a disservice as it seems sometimes that I’ve told half a story. So, throwing two fingers up at my natural inclination to not bore you relentlessly by talking about me me me all the time, I thought sod it, it’s time to over-share.

The subject of gluten is deadly dull, too scientific, too all-encompassing and too been-there-done-that. There are bloggers, food writers, cooks and nutritionists that can talk about it much more eloquently than me. Don’t ask me why gluten is bad, why we were all fine with eating bread 50 years ago and now it’s suddenly poisonous to half the western world or even what gluten actually is, like a well meaning friend asked me the other day. I might have changed the subject rather quickly to talk about Daredevil on Netflix instead.

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However, today I’m coming clean to tell you about my destructive love affair with gluten and why you’ll find that if you look down my recipe list that perhaps 80% of the recipes on my blog are gluten-free (although steer clear of the biscuits and cakes section if you’re doing that). So as I wang on in these next few paragraphs and you are rolling your eyes at yet more nonsense about how gluten was created by the Devil to contaminate society and destroy us from within, just bear with me. Or just wait for my next post – it will probably involve copious amounts of white flour rendering all my woeful soul bearing here totally irrelevant.

About 10 years ago I felt really unwell. I won’t make more of it than it was but it was affecting my daily life. I felt completely lacklustre with no energy and was constantly sick, I had horrible digestive cramps and unless I ate every few hours I would pretty much collapse. It was odd, I was eating healthy and hearty meals, lots of vegetables, not much sugar. However, come 3pm every day I felt dreadful and I often had to leave work in the middle of the day as I simply couldn’t function. I remember being slumped on the bus on the way home, barely being able to keep my eyes open, feeling awful as I had no idea what was wrong. Naturally I thought I was allergic to work, like any normal twenty-two year old fresh out of university, and was wracked with concern that I was not destined be the dynamic cutting edge TV producer I had dreamed of being but would instead have to dump Luke and marry a millionaire pretty much in order to save my life.

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese

I was in and out of the doctors, I had blood tests, allergy tests, thyroid tests. Everything was normal. My GP thought I might be clinically depressed and wrote me a prescription for anti-depressants. I threw it in the bin on the way out and got a new doctor.

At the same time though I had started to see a personal trainer and nutritionist who recommended cutting out gluten from my diet. I didn’t really know much about the gluten-free way of life back then. I had done Atkins like everyone else to lose weight but I didn’t really get the gluten thing. No one was really talking about it. Ha, how times have changed.

However, after a bit of trial and error (I was a bit of a slow student in that regard – what you mean I can’t eat flour tortillas) I gradually began to feel better. It didn’t take long for me to realise that come 3pm I was no longer crying or cramming a chocolate bar in my face to pick myself off the floor. My body ache and sickness had disappeared and with that I was able to be more productive at work and I started running and getting really rather healthy.

The End. I lived happily ever after and never did the big bad Gluten cross my path again, he was banished from my kingdom, Luke and I got married (sorry Mr Millionaire) and we had a wonderful baby boy whom we named Cole.

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese

Except real life dictates that there must be an epilogue. And so here it is. Since Cole was born in June last year gluten has made a major comeback for me. Turns out he wasn’t content sitting in the wings any longer but instead wanted a starring role yet again in my life. It hasn’t been just the odd cake or Yorkshire pudding because it’s the weekend but loaves of bread have passed these lips, a slip of the finger on my keyboard and packets of digestives have fallen helplessly into my Ocado shop.

I know I’m not alone when I confess that I have found these first few months of motherhood hard and as is my wont as a food loving, comfort eating, sugar addicted gal I have turned to food to get myself through it. Cake has been my 3am ally, tucked into the sleeves of my nursing chair and nibbled on throughout the night and toast has been my saviour when I’ve skipped another meal due to relentless crying, holding and feeding.

It is only now, 10 months in that I have calmed down enough to confront how sick I have been making myself. It’s not that anything has got any easier. Yes we have more of a routine but that goes out of the window more often that not. I have been getting more sleep but again just because I had a good seven hours uninterrupted last night doesn’t mean that I won’t be up and down every couple of hours tonight. However, for the most part it’s better.

Although, my health and my body have been left a wreck and I need to address the situation.

I have no plans to make my blog completely gluten-free as there are some recipes which just need gluten to make them as delicious as possible. Plus I am no saint and I have found that if I am 98% gluten-free I can live with the odd bit of wheat flour in my diet if it simply can’t be substituted. Hello delicious gravy. Also, I run a cake business which is another paradox in and of itself so I often have lots of recipe testing and cake eating which is required of me. I do like to make life a challenge.

So having fessed up and outed myself as another one of those faddy diet people I would now like to talk to you about cauliflower cheese. Are you still with me? In the past I have always made cauliflower cheese with a traditional method of using a roux of butter, white flour and milk then adding the cheese. However because of this it has been a rare treat which only reared its delicious cheesy head at high days and holidays. Lately thought I have been whipping up a gluten-free version using only cornflour and milk instead of the roux. It’s so quick! Absolutely perfect as a smash and grab dinner for Cole and a lazy one for the two of us. The difference between the two versions is negligible and certainly one I can live with if it means I can have cauliflower cheese more frequently. It has even passed the Luke test who can be pretty severe in his judgment of gluten-free alternatives.

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese

The secret to any decent cheese sauce I think is to use a mix of cheeses, here I’ve gone with mature cheddar for flavour and red Leicester for sweetness and colour, and then a dollop of Dijon mustard which really brings out the cheesiness. I’ve also begun adding roasted garlic into the mix which sounds like a bit of a faff but really all you need to do is pop the garlic cloves in the oven and they roast for 10 minutes as the cauliflower is put on to boil. However, I’m on a bit of a roasted garlic kick at the moment and so I’ve been roasting up whole heads at the weekend for use during my mid-week meals. They add a mellow flavour which gives the sauce depth. The final stir of the crème fraiche in at the end adds richness to the sauce and is completely optional but really why would you not?

Just the cornflour and the milk together is a little bland so the sauce does need these little extras to knock it up to the standard of a traditionally made sauce but it’s not any bother at all. There is no salt in this recipe as all my food is made with Cole in mind these days but you would probably like to add some to taste. It does make life easier when you find these gluten-free hacks that are actually just as delicious and the road back to my optimum self a little more straightforward to navigate.

Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese
Serves 4-6

1 large head of cauliflower
500ml whole milk
4 tablespoons cornflour
100g red Leicester, grated (+25g for grating on top)
50g mature cheddar, grated (+25g for grating on the top)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 garlic cloves, roasted and pureed
1 tablespoon crème fraiche
15g ground almonds

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Separate the florets of the cauliflower then place in a large pan of boiling water. Bring up to a gentle simmer, then cook for 10 minutes. Drain and place the florets in an ovenproof dish.
  3. In a medium sized saucepan whisk the cornflour into the whole milk then once smooth place switch on the heat and bring to a low boil.
  4. Sprinkle in the cheese and stir in until melted in.
  5. Add the mustard, pepper, garlic cloves and crème fraiche and stir in until it becomes a thick smooth sauce.
  6. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower florets then sprinkle on the extra cheese and the ground almonds.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes when the cheese should be bubbling and the almond breadcrumbs turning golden.
Gluten-Free Cauliflower Cheese

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

I’ve rekindled my love of veggie burgers recently. And I’m not referring to the dry, floppy and brown discs of god-knows-what that lurk in the deepest depths of the supermarket only to emerge in June as an insulting offering to the vegetarians during BBQ season. Yuk, no. I’m talking about thick patties bright with fresh vegetables, perhaps creamy with legumes or nutty with wholegrains and crisp from the frying pan.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

A few weeks ago I had a sandwich from Max’s Sandwich Shop, one of Stroud Green’s proudest offerings to the food scene. Max, as well as being a great bloke who gave me a celebratory bottle of wine when I popped in for lunch just after the birth of Cole, I think it may have been the first sip of wine I had in at least nine months and tasted blissful, also won The Observer Food Monthly’s Best Cheap Eat last year and indeed does an incredible sandwich. They are mammoth beasts packed to the rafters inside homemade focaccia like his Ham, Egg ‘N’ Chips, stuffed with slow cooked ham hock, a fried egg, shoestring fries, piccalilli, and malt vinegar mayo or my favourite What Is Neil Gill’s Beef All About which is braised beef, sauerkraut with beetroot parsley and caraway, cassava chips, horseradish and creme fraiche. Yum-ola.

Anyway, this time round I went totally off piste for me and plumped for his veggie sandwich. I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember what was in it except that it was made with borlotti beans and it’s not on the menu this week for me to check, but it was amazing, so flavourful and satisfying. It harkened me back to my first few years working in Soho when I would frequent Mildreds and stuff myself with their veggie burgers made with things like feta, beetroot and sweet potato. Or perhaps it took me even further back to my time in Ghana, in my early twenties, when I would live off veggie burgers from the local sports bar. I always vowed I would try and recreate those burgers in my own kitchen, they seemed so simple and healthy (if you ignore the obligatory side-order of chips), just good for you vegetables married together, but I never got round to it.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Until now! Although I might be overdoing it a little these days as variations on the veggie led burger seem to be all I’m ever cooking, due to… yes you guessed it since all paths lead back to him – Cole. I have been having such fun coming up with delicious, nutrient packed dinners which tick off all the food groups and that he can eat himself with his fingers. This means making him lots of mini patties, fritters and burgers. Not all of them are totally veggie since we’re not, but sweet potato and quinoa burgers have been a firm favourite, always packed with chopped greens or any other veg that’s lurking in the fridge. However, for variety’s sake I was on the lookout for some alternatives, and then Luke on a whim brought back some amaranth from our local organic shop on Stroud Green Road.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

He had been totally unaware that I had been reading about amaranth a lot recently, basically how it’s super trendy and due for quinoa like celebratory status any day now. It’s another ‘ancient grain,’ popular with the Aztecs and Mayans, but put into italics as it’s technically a seed, like quinoa, and therefore really rich in protein which is what makes quinoa so cool. Not only that but it’s also full of fibre, iron and calcium. This all spelled good things for the next addition to mine and Cole’s culinary adventures.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Then I cooked with it, and quinoa it ain’t. Pre-cooking, the grains are miniscule, getting everywhere very fast, especially if you’re a bit fast and loose with pouring them into a saucepan. However, during its half hour cooking time the grains lump together producing a gelatinous and sticky…well, mush, if I’m honest. However, this only meant it had a completely natural home in the next addition to my veggie burger repertoire.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

The texture of the amaranth is pretty terrific inside the burger, its little seeds popping in your mouth and the nutty flavour giving it such backbone. The amaranth is mixed with mashed butternut squash, pre-roasted with baharat spices (which include paprika, pepper, cumin, cassia, cloves, coriander seed, nutmeg and cardamom but I used a mix from Steenbergs) and sweetly roasted garlic. Then blanched and finely chopped cavolo nero adds its earthy goodness to the proceedings. Finally eggs and flour are mixed in to bind the whole thing together in scrumptious harmony. It’s a pretty good feeling eating something so deliciously healthy, heartening and happy-making.

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Cole and I have been loving them. A lot. So much so that imbued with confidence in them I then served them up in homemade flatbread with salad and tzatziki for Luke for supper and he has insisted I share the recipe here so impressed was he. So here we are, baby approved, hungry husband approved and veggie burger obsessed me approved!

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Amaranth, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Burgers

Makes 8 burgers

200g amaranth
1 butternut squash
2 tablespoons coconut oil + 1 more tablespoon for cooking the burgers
1 tablespoons baharat spice mix
4 whole unpeeled garlic cloves
200g cavolo nero
3 eggs
50g rice flour (or gluten-free plain flour blend or regular wheat flour)
½ teaspoon salt

  1. Toss the butternut squash with the baharat spices, garlic cloves and pre-melted coconut oil then roast for 35-40 minutes at 180°C. Remove from the oven, squeeze the garlic from their cloves then mash. Set aside to come to room temperature.
  2. Meanwhile bring a large saucepan of 500ml water to the boil, then pour in the amaranth. Bring back to a boil, then turn down to simmer with the lid on for 25-30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork then set aside to come to room temperature.
  3. With a sharp knife, remove the stalk out of the centre of the cavolo nero leaves then roughly chop. Bring another large saucepan of water to a boil and toss the leaves in, bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain the leaves, squeezing out all the excess water then finely chop.
  4. Mix the amaranth, mashed butternut squash and cavolo nero with the eggs, rice flour and salt until thoroughly combined.
  5. Heat a large flat bottomed frying pan with a tablespoon of the coconut oil. To achieve the perfect burger shape pour the mixture into chefs rings placed inside the saucepan. Fry for 4 minutes on the first side or until golden brown then carefully remove the chefs ring from the burger, flip each one over and cook for another 4 minutes on the other side, the burger will feel firm to the touch and be golden brown.Note: The chefs rings are totally optional, if you don’t have them the burgers will be a little flatter as the mixture will spread further and look a little rougher round the edges, but still delicious. They also won’t need to cook for as long, so keep watch for the golden brown colour.

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Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla

Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla

This feels like the first time in a couple of weeks where I have been able to take a breath. My prolonged absence from blogging wasn’t intentional at all but it is only now that I have been able to sit down properly and decide what I’m going to have for dinner instead of relying on cobbled together salads of no import, chocolate or fish and chips from Stroud Green Road.

We were forced to vacate the house for a week or so whilst our builders have been in, rescuing the sorry state that had become of our floorboards and giving our hallway and landing a new lease of life so it didn’t feel we were living in a run down shack. Many houses along our road have been sold recently and we’ve been passing them every day watching them being renovated and putting ours to shame. I decreed we simply had to do something about it before baby arrives and forces us suddenly to not care about such trivial matters as rotting floorboards and splattered tea stains on our walls.

Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla

Not that the builders have left us yet, there is still one lonesome soldier finishing up the odds and sods, meaning that for the moment most of our belongings are still sequestered away in boxes in every room that isn’t being worked on. It makes searching for things like my camera cable and the plate that I simply must photograph my tortilla on nigh impossible. I did manage to find them both in the end but it was to the detriment of any sort of order that the boxes and rooms might have been in earlier today. My heavily pregnant state also doesn’t allow me to tidy any of it away which will be a lovely surprise to Luke when he arrives home late tonight after a long journey home from his meeting in Liverpool.

Not only has our house been taken over by builders but also in equal measure by cake as I have still been committed to my brilliant market stall and my kitchen has been the one room that has been builder free. This past weekend I took on a new challenge of hosting the café at Hornsey Flea Market. It was a long week of baking prep, actual baking and then two long days at the market which was a fantastic experience. The flea market was so wonderfully busy, it was estimated about 9000 people came through our doors throughout the weekend, most of whom needed some sort of sustenance. It was lovely to branch out and do some savoury baking as well as my usual flotilla of cakes which is how I developed my Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla. It was a great gluten-free and vegetarian alternative to all the sausage rolls, pancetta and gruyere tartlets, spicy chicken croquettes and butternut squash and chilli scones which I was selling.

I made quite a few of these tortillas and they sold magnificently but I did keep one back for myself as it really is quite a special recipe. This tortilla simply bursts with flavour and spring like freshness, rich with the sweet potato but cool with feta and then packed with fresh coriander, parsley and mint. For ease I bake the tortilla in the oven instead of the traditional method of cooking in a large frying pan and having made the tortilla both ways in the past I haven’t noticed a difference to the end result.

Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla

I recommend serving the tortilla for a weekend lunch, perhaps in the garden to make the most of this unseasonably beautiful weather. Dress the tortilla up with a herby salad and serve with a crisp glass of white wine.

Sweet Potato and Feta Tortilla
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, finely sliced
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 2cm squares
½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
200g feta
5 medium eggs, whisked together
28g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
28g fresh mint, roughly chopped
28g fresh parsley, roughly chopped
75g roasted red peppers, shredded

  1. Heat the olive oil in a flat bottomed saucepan then add the onions. Cook on a gentle heat for about 20 minutes or until the onions are caramelised.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and stir to thoroughly coat them in the olive oil. Place the lid on and cook for about 45 – 60 minutes or until the potatoes are softened.
  3. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 170° and line and grease an 8 inch baking tin.
  4. Take the saucepan of the heat then crumble the feta into the pan, stirring with a metal spoon to combine but not too much as you don’t want the potato and feta to break down.
  5. Pour in the eggs, add the herbs with plenty of seasoning and mix together.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the baking tin, smoothing down so the surface is flat.
  7. Place in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes until just browning.
  8. Leave to cool for half an hour the tin before turning out. The tortilla is best served warm.
  9. Serve with the roasted red peppers piled on top.

Enchiladas Suisa

Enchiladas Suisa
There is a little happy dance that is dusted off whenever I mention that I’m making enchiladas for dinner. If you want to try it at home, it’s performed in a little hopping motion from foot to foot whilst waving your hands high in the air chanting ‘Enchiladas, enchiladas.’ Imagine a super happy and joyful rain dance but in the kitchen.

Ever since I stopped eating pasta enchiladas now reign supreme where once lasagne lorded over all. They both involve meat encased in some sort of carbohydrate, in this case corn tortillas, with a rich tomato sauce and lashings of cheese. They are an absolute favourite in our house. However, recently I have been pushing the boat out where my enchiladas are concerned and going all Suisa. Enchiladas Suisa replace the tomatoes and red chillies involved in the more standard enchilada recipe with a tomatillos and green chillies for a beautifully green sauce which is then finished off with plenty of sour cream before being weighed down with a mountain of cheese. You may remember that I’m a huge advocate of the green pepper and I would much rather go for the fresher slightly bitter taste of green than the lip puckering sweetness of red any day so you can imagine that Enchiladas Suisa suits my palette completely plus the addition of the sour cream makes it so much better than your run-of-the-mill enchiladas.

You can get tomatillos in the UK, they look a bit like small green tomatoes but unlike their un-ripened cousins they are encased in a husk if bought fresh and are fully ripe. They are also much tarter than a green tomato and are celebrated in Mexican cooking where they are often cooked down into salsa and enchilada sauces, just like here. This time of year tomatillos are way out of season but I don’t let that bother me as tinned tomatillos are a very good substitue. I’ve never seen them in a supermarket but it’s very easy to buy the tinned versions from Sous Chef, which is where I buy all my specialist ingredients.

Corn Tortillas

It is perfectly acceptable to make enchiladas with the flour tortillas you can get just about anywhere but corn tortillas are the traditional option. They hold together much better than a flour tortilla underneath the weight of the sauce and provide good robust flavour. The best ones are from the Cool Chile Co. as they are gluten-free and taste deliciously corny.

If you have access to good Mexican cheeses then by all means use those here to make the meal truly authentic but I’m pretty sure you will need to substitute which is what I did and I think a good British cheese like Wensleydale fits the bill perfectly. It’s also what Thomasina Miers uses in her Enchiladas Suisa recipe in Wahaca so if it’s good enough for her, then it’s good enough for us. To accentuate the full-on cheesiness of the dish I’ve also added some slices of mozzarella so that the strings of goodness pull away from each other upon serving, always guaranteed to make your mouth water.

Enchiladas Suisa

This is a Mexican dish but the full impact of the chilli heat depends on you. When we made it a few weeks ago we left all the seeds from the green chilli in the mix and it was eye wincingly powerful but if you take all the seeds out then the sauce can be too bland. A happy medium usually works by discarding half of the seeds but each to his own.

Ancho Chilli Powder

Enchiladas are a fantastic use of leftover chicken, run through with a bit of cumin and ancho chilli powder (use ordinary chilli powder if you can’t get hold of ancho chilli powder, but again you can order it from Sous Chef), then wrapped into the corn tortillas before being topped with sauce. However, I often make this with fresh chicken as I have done here. Of course, by using chicken breast there is the worry that it could go dry but I find if I just lightly cook the chicken in the pan it will finish cooking in the oven once encased in their tortillas and protected by the sauce retaining it’s tender texture.

Enchiladas Suisa

Enchiladas Suisa
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chilli, diced
800g tomatillos (tinned or fresh)
½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
25g fresh coriander, including stalks, roughly chopped
175g sour cream
125g mozzarella
100g Wensleydale cheese
About 8-10 corn tortillas

For the chicken filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
1 green pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. First make the tomatillo sauce by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan and adding the onion, crushed garlic and green chilli. Sauté for about 10 minutes until soft.
  3. Drain the tomatillos if using tinned or remove from their husks if using fresh and chop them up roughly. Add to the saucepan along with the paprika, cumin, coriander and seasoning. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring through occasionally.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat then blitz up in the saucepan using a hand held blender until smooth. Pour in the sour cream and put back on to the heat, stirring in thoroughly until hot. Set aside whilst you prepare the chicken.
  5. Heat up the olive oil in a wide bottomed saucepan and add in the onion. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until softened.
  6. Add the chicken, garlic, cumin, chilli powder and green pepper along with some seasoning and cook on a medium heat until the chicken has begun to colour. Remove from the heat.
  7. Take a tortilla and warm it through in a small saucepan for about 10 seconds each side, then remove from the heat, fill with the chicken and tuck into an ovenproof dish. Repeat with each tortilla until all the chicken has been used up and the dish is full.
  8. Pour the tomatillo sauce over evenly then dot the top with crumbled Wensleydale and the sliced mozzarella.
  9. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and the cheese has begun to colour.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

Chipotle Braised Brisket

I love living in London for the simple reason of choice. We have a few brilliant butchers within walking distance from my house which I frequent on a weekly basis. Or if we liked we could get our meat from the farmers’ market. Our closest one is the one at Ally Pally and is the one we go to most often, but if we fancy making a bit of a trip then we sometimes go to Broadway Market over in Hackney on a Saturday.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

The grand choice of butchers and farms pretty much on our doorstep doesn’t always mean I can quite manage to leave the house though and once in a while I like to treat myself and buy our meat from Turner & George, an online butcher who deliver around London. The joy of this obviously being that it gets sent directly to my front door and I don’t even have to change out of my pyjamas. Turner & George prices are extremely reasonable and they do things like preserved bone marrow, boneless chicken legs and an absolute plethora of gluten-free sausages. Best of all, when it arrives, the order explains the provenance of each animal so you feel you know exactly what you are eating and where it came from. I don’t prefer either option, the butchers, the farmers’ market or an online delivery but it is fun to mix it up.

A few weeks ago after receiving my bounty from Turner & George after a particularly indulgent spree I found I had two beef briskets in my package. After checking with my original order it appeared that I had clicked on the item twice which was a bit of a pain. Brisket is a bit special occasion meat in our house, not due to its expense, as really it’s incredibly economical, but due to the longevity of its cooking time. Whereas your usual stewed meat might be done in 3 or 4 hours, to reach its optimum succulence brisket requires a good 8 hours of cooking time. I have tried whacking up the heat, slicing it thinly but have always been disappointed when I try to rush the process. As you can imagine, not every day allows for the level of organisation required to assemble your evening meal at 10am, and guarantee you are going to be in the whole day to monitor proceedings.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

Also, our household only consists of two hungry souls, well there are six but I don’t think I’ll count Willow, Wesley, Billy Buddy (and Little Bean yet) as far as portioning out the brisket is concerned. So a 1.5kg cut of brisket sees us through the week and then some. Two briskets then, wasn’t necessarily welcomed as good fortune, especially since freezer space is limited due to my ice cream obession.

The first brisket I prepared the day it arrived, I cooked it low and slow with plenty of onions, tomatoes and garlic and served it with a hot and spicy barbecue sauce. It wasn’t the prettiest affair but it was delicious. After working our way through that for a week I didn’t feel enough enthusiasm to repeat the meal so soon so I managed to squeeze the other brisket in the freezer, which called for a couple of tubs of ice cream to be promptly removed and eaten, and waited for inspiration to hit.

Chipotle Braised Brisket

I have been meaning to write about beef tacos on my blog for a while. We eat them a lot, they always feel like a bit of a treat as they come loaded with all the best things in life, cheese, sour cream and guacamole plus I have an excellent recipe for the cooking spices which I’ve been honing throughout my cooking years. When I decided that I would make tacos again this week I suddenly realised this was exactly what my extra beef brisket had been sent to me to achieve. A smokily spiced extravaganza but still packed with a mountain of onions and peppers just like my normal beef taco recipe. But here, the meat would be melting into the juices and softly scooped into the taco before being loaded with all its accoutrements.

Chipotle Braised Brisket Tacos

Needless to say it worked out particularly well, otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing it with you. I used both dried chipotle and chipotle in adobo for the chilli hit, then added sweetly smoked paprika, warming cumin and coriander to round out the spices. I piled sliced onions into the bottom of the casserole dish so that they became a sturdy thicket for the brisket and I added a litre of stock around the meat, as I have paid the price before for not adding enough cooking liquid to my brisket. Over the course of the 7-8 hour braise most of the stock is reduced to an aromatic syrupy gravy, sparky with lime and spices and cushioned with caramelised onions and the sliver of peppers which are added in the last half hour of cooking so they don’t disappear into oblivion.

I have eaten my Chipotle Braised Brisket two meals in a row in soft and warmed corn tacos but this evening I plan on rustling up some spicy coriander rice to accompany my next incarnation of this most delicious of briskets.

Chipotle Braised Brisket Tacos

Chipotle Braised Brisket

1.5kg beef brisket, unrolled
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, roasted and crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roasted and crushed
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon smoked garlic powder
1 litre hot beef stock
1 dried chipotle
1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon sugar
5 cooking onions, sliced
1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly
1 green pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly

Serve with guacamole, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, spring onions and warmed soft corn tacos

  1. Take the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, paprika, garlic and seasoning and rub all over the brisket. If you have time you can leave the rub to permeate the meat for up to eight hours.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  3. Soak the dried chipotle in the hot stock for 15 minutes. Take the chipotle out of the stock, then remove stalk and the seeds and chop finely.
  4. Put the chipotle back into the stock, then add in the chipotle in adobo, malt vinegar, lime juice and sugar and stir well until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Take a huge casserole dish and arrange the sliced onions in a heap at the bottom, then place the brisket on top. Pour the stock around the brisket, but not on top of the meat. Place the lid on and
  6. Cook the brisket for about 7 hours but do check every hour to make sure the meat isn’t going dry.
  7. After 7 hours, remove the brisket and cut into slices, the knife should melt into the meat.
  8. Stir the sliced peppers into the oniony chipotle gravy at the bottom of the casserole dish, then add the brisket on top, submerging it into the gravy so it doesn’t go dry.
  9. Place the lid back on the casserole dish and put back in the oven for about half an hour until the peppers are cooked and the brisket is pretty much falling apart.