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Saturday
Jan032015

New Year Collection (gluten free, dairy free, egg free, vegan, yeast free)

January: such a wonderful time of year.  Ignore the grey, cold weather, the food and drink induced lethargy, the lack of accessible funds and the expectant post-christmas blues and you have yourself a rather lovely month!  Actually, I genuinely jest; I’m incredibly fond of this time of year, the year ahead stretching before you and the early onset evenings offering both the opportunity to renew and start over and legitimately curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and read a book for the afternoon.  I mean when else can you do that?  I do however feel in particular need this year for a refresh and reboot - a spring clean is in order and that’s going to encompass home, life and body.  In my experience if you want to redirect your life then there are two key elements.  One is to relax into it and approach everything in a positive and genuine way – that means no aggressive revelations or beating yourself (or anyone else!) up over your actions up until this point.  The second is to do a little bit every day.  It’s never too late to start the day again and if you can do one thing that makes you feel like you are getting closer to what you want – whether it be the way you look, how you feel, your relationship, your career (especially your career) – then you are moving forward.  Now is a time to surround yourself with good things, set some aims and actions for the New Year and help you along by giving your body maximum energy and nutrients.  If you have rather overindulged over the festive period – and let’s face it, it would’ve been rude not to – then now more than ever is a good opportunity to cook vibrant, delicious, plant-focused meals to get you through the post-christmas slump and help stave off any unwanted winter bugs that may be going around.

With that in mind I wanted to recommend a rather brilliant wintry drink for the evenings to replace that glass (I live in hope) of wine or hot chocolate that we’ve all got used to (or is that just me?).  Take a one inch piece of root ginger and slice into rounds, place it in a saucepan with 1 heaped tbsp honey and two pints of water.  Bring to the boil and then take off the heat and cover, leave to infuse for 1 hour and then serve either heated up or poured over ice.  It’s got a serious gingery kick and will knock a cold on its head, plus it’s delicious.  I’ve also put together a collation of my favourite healthy and immune boosting recipes that will give you maximum satisfaction and energy over the coming months.  It goes without saying that each one is #glutenfree #dairyfree and #eggfree and most are #vegan too.  Happy cooking and Happy New Year!

Saturday
Oct042014

Almond Pesto Crusted Chicken with Roast Sweet Potato & Fennel (Gluten free, Dairy Free, Egg Free)

What can I say.  I’m like the girl who always turns up late to the party, or not at all, as has been the case!  As I may have mentioned in my last post, things have been a changing round here and I’ve been both distracted and a bit displaced, but all for the better, eventually.  I’m hoping to be able to bring you some new things soon, possible new (and big) projects and a little make over, of a sort.  In the meantime I hope that you are welcoming in the autumnal weather; you’ve got to love a season that allows for the possibility of wearing both knitware and sunglasses.  Praise be to that.

Also, tis the season for warming, laid back style suppers and that’s where this recipe comes in.  I don’t think there are many things more satisfying than a delicious one-pot supper – packed full of flavour, the juices mingling and melding, flavours intensifying and blending, serve it straight from the oven or stove, delve in and share it out amongst you, enjoy, savour and then chuck the pan in the sink to soak, lovely!  We often think of one-pot dishes as wintry food but actually they are truly suited to all of the seasons when you can mix and match with the huge abundance of fresh vegetables to pack it out, maybe go wild and add a fresh salad on the side or keep it warming and serve with wintry wilted greens.  The importance, as always, is the flavour and by cooking this dish in one roasting tin you allow the tastes and juices to balance and soak each other up. 

For this super simple supper you make a quick and gorgeously nutty pesto from the lots of roasted almonds and fresh basil – I’ve given you the quantities to make a proper batch so that you can save half and use it to stir through pasta, or coat your spiralised courgettes, have on toast as a kind of bruschetta or whatever suits your fancy.  I should add the almonds are an incredibly good for you, they make up a healthy form of fat and are packed with vitamin E and an impressive collection of flavanoids, in this instance they also make a delicious crust for the chicken, bringing texture and flavour to the party.  Sweet roasted potatoes and the tender bite of aniseed fennel and you’ve got a delicious and easy supper sorted.

Almond Pesto Crusted Chicken with Roast Sweet Potato & Fennel

Serves 4

For the pesto

100g whole almonds

A large bunch of basil

1 clove of garlic

3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 

8 chicken thighs, skinless

2 large sweet potatoes

2 fennel

1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil

1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 200c.  Scatter the almonds over a roasting tray and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until browned – check every now and then to ensure the almonds don’t catch.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down for 10 minutes.  Once cool, place them in a food processor and pulse until they are the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Pour in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic clove (peeled first), a pinch of sea salt and the basil, pulse until combined – you want a slightly coarse, rustic looking pesto and if you feel it is a little dry then feel free to add extra olive oil.

Lightly scrub the sweet potato and cut into large chunks.  Trim the ends from the fennel and then cut lengthways into quarters, place the sweet potato and fennel into a large roasting tray.  Next, use a sharp knife to score two or three 1cm deep cuts into the chicken thighs, place the thighs in the roasting tray with the vegetables and then spoon over half of the pesto onto the top of the chicken thighs, ensuring that you get the pesto into the made cuts and spreading over the top too. 

Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables and season with sea salt and black pepper, roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and tender – the pesto will form a lovely crunchy crust on the chicken.  Remove from the oven, and serve immediately with wedges of fresh lemon to season.