Cooking · Food & Drink

Comfort food…

With the return of the very cold weather, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

The bitter, easterly wind has been whipping through the farm for the past two days making any chores outside short-lived.

I love being in the kitchen, but when I’m forced inside it is the best place to be. I am on a bit of a health kick at the moment but a little of what you like is just fine.

In fact, the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying out a range of recipes.

We’ve had Mexican bean soup with lime and coriander (recipe from BBC Good Food). It’s meant to be served with shredded chicken but I omitted it for a lunchtime soup and it was gorgeously spicy and warming.

I made some double ginger cookies and a Moroccan orange and cardamom cake which was sumptuous as a dessert with some natural yoghurt.

The cake, instead of using butter, used two whole oranges, boiled for an hour and then blitzed, skin and all. It really was rather wonderful.

We don’t have cake all the time, honestly, I just seem to have baked a flurry of them recently, and they have been shared with family and friends.

I used a couple of brown bananas (which I can’t stand to eat) in a banana loaf. I always feel like banana cake is good for you – surely it’s one of your five-a-day.

For breakfast I religiously have shredded wheat with some seeds sprinkled on top together with a bit of bee pollen. It’s filling and contains almost no sugar. As a treat I would have a bowl of granola, but there’s generally so much sugar in it I thought I’d make my own.

And do you know what, it was pretty easy and tasted superb. The only sweet ingredient in it is honey and there is so much goodness in the oats, nuts, seeds and fruit. It makes each breakfast a treat when you know you’ve made it yourself.

If you’re interested in making it, this is my version. The original had salt in it which I’ve omitted (it can always be added to taste in the bowl), I’ve cut down the honey from 120ml which, when the granola was made, tasted a little too sweet for me and swapped coconut oil for olive oil but you could use a range of oils depending on what you have in the cupboard.

This made a pyrex dish full that will see us through the week.

40ml olive oil
100ml honey
340g jumbo rolled oats
200g mixed nuts chopped (I used pecan nuts, hazelnuts, almonds and home-grown walnuts)
50g seeds (I used a mix of pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and linseed – the same mix I have on my shredded wheat)
50g coconut chips
1 large egg white
100g mixed dried fruit chopped (I used dried apricots, raisins and cranberries)

  1. Heat the oven to 130C (fan) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Add the oil and honey together in a small saucepan and heat gently until well combined. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients (apart from the fruit), in a large bowl. Stir the honey and oil mixture into the bowl until well distributed. Beat the egg white in a separate bowl until frothy, then mix in.
  3. Spread the mixture out on the baking sheet and bake for about 30-35 minutes until golden. Stir regularly so it cooks evenly.
  4. Leave to cool and crisp up on the tray, then stir in the fruit. Store in an airtight container.

If you give it a go, let me know how you get on!

Today I’ve indulged in making a lime and kiwi cheesecake as a Sunday treat…and the best thing about it, it uses a homemade ginger, biscuit base.

A special thanks must go to the BBC Good Food website, it’s such a brilliant resource of recipes and my go-to place for culinary inspiration.

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