Winter Warmer Apple, Date & Almond Porridge

It’s blooming freezing outside but joy of joys it’s been snowing. So before heading out into the winter wonderland a warming, hearty breakfast is a must.

This porridge is a triumph. Apple cubes partner perfectly with earthy, warming cinnamon. And all topped off with chopped nuts and deep amber maple syrup. Heaven.

This will have you warmed through and ready to face the chilliest of days.

Winter Warmer Porridge

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • A big cup of porridge oats
  • Milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 6-8 dates, chopped
  • A big handful of almonds, chopped
  • Maple syrup

Method

  • Pop your oats into a pan and pour over enough milk to cover them. Cook over a medium heat, stirring every now and then. Add more milk if it’s getting too thick.
  • Meanwhile chop your apple and pop them, along with the dates, into the pan so that they warm through with the porridge.
  • Once everything is nicely cooked, pour or dollop into bowls, sprinkle with the chopped nuts and drizzle with maple syrup.
  • Feel the warmth radiate.

Easy Breezy Salsa Verde

I’ve always relished a bit of Salsa Verde on a nice piece of grilled fish, especially fresh tuna or a perfectly cooked chunky white fish. Salsa Verde is outrageously flavoursome and has the added bonus of being a raw sauce / dressing, which means it’s quick and easy to prepare. You can even make this in advance of the meal you’re planning to serve it with to remove a little meal assembly stress.

This can easily become vegetarian by omitting the anchovies, but you’ll probably want to add in a pinch of sea salt to pack in the salty punch the anchovies usually bring to the party.

I have recently discovered that the anchovy-free version is rather delicious with scrambled eggs. I don’t know about you but I can sometimes tire of my usual brekky repertoire so a little va va voom from this saucy accompaniment was a welcome change.

Now you can of course pop all of the ingredients in a mini processor and whizz this up in a mere moment. But there are times when I’m right up for a bit of manual labour and at those times I like to plonk the herbs, capers, garlic and anchovies on a board, grab a sharp knife and chop chop chop until I have a chunky green salsa which can easily be mixed in a bowl with the oil and lemon juice.

My final note on this is that you’d normally see an astonishing volume of oil in a salse verde recipe, anything from 100ml upwards. My recipe, on the other hand, uses as little as I can get away with. For me that’s usually a good glug, or between 1 – 2 tablespoons. I advise starting with a glug or 2 then drizzling more in a little at a time until you have the right consistency for you.

If you have any left you can store it, covered, in the fridge.

Easy Breezy Salsa Verde

Ingredients

  • A small bunch of parsley, leaves picked
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint (about a tablespoon)
  • A couple of tablespoons of capers, drained
  • 1 plump clove of garlic
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained (leave these out for a veggie version)
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Olive oil, depending how oily you like things use anything from 2 tablespoons to 100ml+

Method

  • On a decent sized chopping board, chop the herbs, capers, garlic and anchovies until you have a coarsely textured pile
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir in the lemon juice, mustard and olive oil

OR

  • Blitz everything in a food processor

Marvellous Ways With Salsa Verde

  • Spooned over cooked fish
  • Spread generously in a tasty sandwich or wrap
  • Drizzled over scrambled eggs or a nice cheesy omelette
  • Swirled with a flourish through soup
  • Also divine with a simple roasted chicken breast but I’d go for the anchovy free version here

Simple Rosti

I used to think that making potato rosti would be a real faff. Something about muslin cloths and cooking rings? Happily, I was wrong.

I saw Marcus Wareing rustle one up on Master Chef and he made it look a doddle. Well Mr Wareing is a top notch chef so everything he cooks looks effortless. With this in mind, I was still a little reticent as I stood at the kitchen counter armed with a potato and a box grater.

Truly this rosti is so simple. You peel potato, grate potato, squeeze juice out of potato, season potato, cook potato, eat potato. Magic.

There really is no need to invest in a muslin cloth to squeeze out your potato juice, a clean tea towel does the job very nicely (and washes up well after).

There are recipes out there that add flour, eggs, bicarb etc etc and they all look delicious but I am very attracted to the simplicity of this one. Partly because a simple recipe beckons for a bit of tweaking here and there. I do a love a bit ad libbing… One time I added finely chopped onion to the mix, another a sprinkle of cumin and coriander and yet another time I added some tiny thyme leaves.

I’ve made these as small individual rostis and also just chucked masses of grated, seasoned spuds into a large frying pan and cooked a family size version. Either way, it’s important not to cook these over a high heat. Cook these over a medium to low heat and your reward will be rostis which are golden brown and crisp on the outside but cooked through and fluffy inside. If the heat is too high they will, instead, be burned on the outside and raw in the middle. A crime against potatoes.

One thing that remains constant for me is an egg sitting proudly atop this crispy bed of carbs. Although even that wavers between poached and fried.

The moral of this tater tale is to start with the classic rosti then just go as wild as your heart desires (or store cupboard allows) with the flavours and accompaniments.

Simple Rosti

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • A knob or 2 of butter and a little olive oil

Method

  • Put your grated potatoes into the centre of a tea towel then twist the rest of the material together. Over the sink, or a large bowl, twist the tea towel until most of the liquid has poured out (there’s a surprising amount).
  • Pop your spuds in a bowl, add seasoning (you could also add finely chopped onion or any other flavours you fancy at this point) and give it a good mix with your hands.
  • Melt a knob of butter and a little drizzle of oil in your pan over a medium to low heat while you shape your rostis into 4 rough rounds (or just keep as a big sharing rosti).
  • Pop the rosti into the pan and cook for 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown. Then flip over, plop in another knob of butter and cook for a further 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown on that side too.

Lovely Things That Go Very Well With Rosti

  • Onions, either chopped finely and added to the potatoes before cooking. Or golden brown cooked onions to serve on top.
  • Spring onions scattered over with a good dash of sriracha.
  • Eggs. Fried, scrambled, poached, your choice.
  • Brown sauce.
  • Fresh herbs such as chives, sage, thyme or basil.
  • Grated cheddar cheese, especially if you are using chives.

A Kind of Shakshuka (eggs cooked in spiced tomato sauce with feta)

One of my loveliest friends recently gave me a wonderful cook book by Madeleine Shaw. I sat down one rainy day this week with a mug of tea to devour the pages.

You won’t be surprised that a Shakshuka recipe caught my eye. Ms Shaw’s is a green version, packed with nourishing veggies. As is often the case with me I set out to rustle this up for lunch only to discover I didn’t have half of the ingredients I needed. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail blah blah blah.

Gladly, I’m not so weak as to be grasped by failure’s clutches at the first hurdle. Or rather I was really hungry and had already gathered the eggs and feta in anticipation.

So this delicious lunch is a hybrid Shakshuka. The eggs are cooked in a deeply delicious tomato sauce but there is a lovely bit of spinach tipping it’s hat to the glorious green Shakshuka that never was.

Serve this with toast, my top choice bring sourdough, but any kind of bread will add the requisite crunch and of course, the means to scrape up every last bit of this saucy delight.

Final note: when I was finishing this off I scattered over a bit of fresh thyme, simply because I have some growing rampant on the window sill. I also sprinkled a pinch of sumac and chilli flakes over the eggs just before serving. All 3 of these are completely optional. If you don’t have them hanging around your kitchen this will still be glorious. And if you decide to play around with the flavours let me know how it turns out.

Shakshuka (eggs in spiced tomato sauce with feta)

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • About a tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • A couple of handfuls of spinach, chopped (or use a couple of frozen spinach blocks)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 pack of feta, roughly chopped or crumbled up
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • A couple of pinches of chilli flakes
  • A couple of pinches of sumac

Method

  • In a frying pan that has a lid, heat your olive oil over a medium heat and fry your onions until they are nice and soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  • Stir in your spices then pour over the tomatoes.
  • If you’re using frozen spinach you can chuck that in too.
  • Let your sauce simmer away gently for about 10 – 15 minutes to let all the flavours come together and the sauce thicken. Give it a stir every now and then.
  • Add a little salt and pepper (and the spinach if you’re opting for fresh rather than frozen) to the sauce then make 2 little wells in your sauce and crack the eggs in.
  • Pop a lid on the pan and simmer gently for about 7 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to perfection. I like mine with a runny yolk.
  • Now just scatter over the feta and thyme. If you like you can pop the lid back on for a minute so that the feta warms slightly.
  • Serve with a little pinch of sumac and chilli flakes if you fancy and, of course, a pile of hot buttered toast.

Baked Eggs (Oeufs en Cocotte) with Spring Onions & Sriracha

Last week I truly panged to go out and treat myself to a big indulgent brunch. There are a couple of places near me that I love for the very fact that they serve delicious classic brunch dishes with surprising little twists. Delicious twists like eggs on toast with salsa verde or french toast with elderflower cream. Yum and yum.

When I eat out I love to choose things from the menu that I would never have thought of making at home. Well as I can’t go anywhere at the moment so I decided to create a little dish with a twist of my own. Cue baked eggs with spring onions, sriracha and coriander. It’s a pretty simple twiddle to the classic eggs en cocotte but it has tided me over until we can eat out again.

I served this with buttered sourdough toast, which I am very proud to say I baked myself (thanks JB for the starter). I’d eat this with any toast or a good crispy fresh baguette.

Baked Eggs with Spring Onions & Sriracha

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons of double cream
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt & pepper
  • Sriracha
  • A small handful of coriander, chopped

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 170 C / gas 3. Butter 2 ramekins and pop the kettle on to boil.
  • Pour one tablespoon of cream into each ramekin, season with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper and scatter in your spring onions.
  • Crack an egg into each ramekin, pour over one more tablespoon of cream and gently season again with salt and pepper.
  • Pop your ramekins into a roasting tin or pyrex dish and fill with hot water so that it comes about half way up the ramekins. Carefully place in the oven and bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until the eggs are set to your liking.
  • Serve with a scattering of chopped coriander and a generous squirt of sriracha.
  • Enjoy with hot buttered toast or just spoon it up on its own.

Soul Glow Soup

This is by far the orangest soup I’ve ever made. It’s almost luminous. Well, it’s hardly surprising, with almost every ingredient being a sunny orange colour and then there’s a dash of turmeric to really make this glooooow.

This actually started out as a simple lentil soup, but when I opened the veg drawer to grab a leek I was completely side tracked by all the orange veg in there. That poor old leek is still in the fridge patiently waiting his turn 2 days later. Don’t worry Leeky I haven’t forgotten about you.

Anyway, this is utterly delicious, crazily good for you and ridiculously easy. You just throw all of those wholesome delights into a pan, simmer for a bit and blend.

Sure this soup looks tantalising and vibrant but when you taste it you’ll really feel your soul glow.

Soul Glow Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 carrots, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 120g red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 litre of stock (you may need more if you prefer a thinner soup)

Method

  • Put all of your ingredients into a large pan, bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer, pop a lid on and let everything bubble away gently for about 20 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on it and add more liquid if you think it needs it.
  • Once the veg and lentils are nice and tender just blend until silky smooth and vibrantly orange.