Spinach and Potato Bake

Love what you do, do what you love…

After a long break, I am sitting here staring at the screen thinking of something profound to say. Trying to make a come back, with a bang. However, words fail me! I don’t have an explanation for my absence. I don’t know how long I am back for or how frequently I will post a recipe for you. What I do know, is I love food and as long as I can cook, I will share it with you.

Today’s recipe is a simple, hearty winter warmer. Layers of potato, garlicky spinach, cream and cheese, a perfect matrimony of decadence and nutrition.

Ingredients:  11          Cooking time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One large bunch of spinach, finely chopped
  • Three medium potatoes, thinly sliced
  • one small onion, finely chopped
  • two to three garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Two eggs
  • 300ml of cream
  • 250 gms of grated cheddar cheese
  • 125 gms of grated parmesan cheese
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • One teaspoon white pepper
  • Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Heat oil in a pan. Add onion, once translucent add garlic. Cook until aromatic.

Now add the chopped spinach, season with salt. Once wilted, drain the excess liquid (tip: you can use the liquid as stock in your gravies or pasta sauce).

In a bowl, combine eggs, cream, pepper and salt. Mix well.

Now grease a baking dish with some olive oil. Make a double layer the of the sliced potatoes, then add the spinach mixture and finish with a double layer of potatoes.

Pour the cream and egg batter and finally top it with grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until cooked and golden brown on the top.

I usually serve this with a side of roasted vegetables or a salad. Either way it is lip smackingly delicious.

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Palak Khichdi 

A spoonful of health and flavour…

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This humble old recipe is every Indian mothers answer when someone in the house says they are feeling under the weather. 

Traditionally defined as bland, boring but healthy. Khichdi is made from lentils, rice, turmeric and a bit of salt. As a child I labelled this dish ‘bimaaron ka khaana’ i.e. ‘ill people’s meal’. I never wanted to eat it and you wouldn’t blame me! 

Today Khichdi and I are good friends. What changed? Well Khichdi became a little more glamorous. Different spices and veggies have elevated this dish and put it at par with risotto from Italy or paella from Spain. All Khichdi is missing now is an exotic name.

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Ingredients: 14  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 250 gms of rice
  • 250 gms of yellow split peas (channa dal)
  • 500 ml of spinach puree
  • One brown onion, finely chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One large cinnamon stick
  • Six to eight cloves
  • One to two blades of mace
  • One teaspoon garam masala
  • One teaspoon coriander powder
  • One teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • One tablespoon butter
  • Salt to season 
  • Fresh lemon for garnish 

Begin by washing the rice and lentils thoroughly. Soak them for about 15-20 minutes before cooking.

In a heavy-set pot, melt butter. Add mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves and mace. Mace gives this dish a subtle peppery flavour and goes really well with any rice dish. If you can’t find mace you can use half a teaspoon of grounded nutmeg, but add it along with other powdered spices later in the dish.

Once aromatic add onion and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for five to seven minutes or until the onion is lightly browned.

Drain the rice and lentils and add them to the onion mixture. Now add garam masala, coriander powder and nutmeg if using it. Mix well, evenly coating all the ingredients.

Finally add the spinach pureè, about four cups of water and season with salt as desired. Cover the pot with a lid and let the Khichdi simmer on a low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Whilst Khichdi is simmering remember to stir it occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Your lip smackingly delicious Khichdi is ready to be served. I have served it with a side of crispy cumin potatoes and garnished it with a wedge of lemon. Here’s to health and happiness in every bite of life!!!

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Winter Shakshuka

Shake a leg or two with a Shakshuka…

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Shakshuka is a traditional Israeli breakfast dish, which in the west we popularly know as baked eggs. Gooey, runny eggs cooked in an utterly flavour packed tomato sauce full of herbs and spices, lets be honest what’s not to love about it! I have previously made a harissa spiced Shakshuka, you can find the recipe here

While traditionally a Shakshuka is always made in a tomato sauce, I decided to change things up a bit. Today’s Shakshuka recipe is an ode to a chilled winter morning where all your heart yearns for is a pan full of comfort, flavour and indulgence. Butter, cream, leeks, peas and eggs these ingredients scream winter with a passion and you can most certainly guarantee that you are in for treat when these flavours combine together.

So what are you waiting for checkout the recipe below

Ingredients:  12   Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

  • Four free range eggs
  • One leek (white part only), finely chopped
  • 200 gms of peas (I used frozen)
  • 200 gms of spinach (I used frozen)
  • One small brown onion, finely chopped
  • Half a bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 10 to 12 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 100 ml light cooking cream
  • One tablespoon of butter
  • One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season
  • Quarter teaspoon of smoked paprika

In a skillet melt butter and add the chopped onion and leek. Cook until leeks are soft and aromatic.

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Now add peas, spinach, parsley and mint. Give all the ingredients a good stir, once they a mixed well add cooking cream and olive oil. Season with salt as required and let the sauce simmer on a low heat for five to seven minutes.

Before cracking the eggs you can blend the ingredients into a smooth sauce, but since I love the different textures and prefer the sauce to be rustic, so I have not blended it.

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Crack the eggs into the sauce, leaving space between them. Lower the heat, cover the skillet with a lid and cook until the egg whites are cooked. The whole point of a Shakshuka is that the eggs should be runny, but if you don’t like runny eggs you can continue to cook the eggs until they are the consistency of soft-boiled eggs. Note, if you cook the eggs past this point you rather not make this dish at all because a hard-cooked egg is really not worth a Shakshuka. 

Lastly sprinkle some smoked paprika on each of the egg, this gives them a little extra flavour boost and makes them look really pretty too.

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You can serve this dish with warmed up Lebanese bread, chargrilled sourdough, Indian flat breads and if you are utterly health conscious then serve this dish with a simple green side salad.

One bite will give you a taste of nirvana. So don’t wait and try this recipe for your next weekend family brunch and remember to shake a leg or two with a Shakshuka.

Chicken Roulade with Cauliflower Mash

Healthy eating begins today…

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I wonder how many of us made new years resolutions around healthy eating! Healthy eating is a way of life most of us aspire to but only a few of us sustain it. One of the problems is the ability to make flavoursome tasty food that is equally healthy, after all there is only so much steamed broccoli one can eat.

One meat that is really versatile, incredibly healthy and nutritious is…CHICKEN!  You can bake it, steam it, poach it,  roast it, cook it in a curry or toss it in a stir fry and the mighty bird keeps on giving! High in protein, chicken is definitely the food of choice for all the healthy eaters in the carnivore world.

Today’s chicken roulade recipe is packed with so much flavour that you won’t for a second feel like you are missing out on those indulgent, sinful meals. The humble potato mash is replaced with a healthy and flavourful cauliflower mash, with only quarter of the calories and tonnes of flavour this mash recipe is a keeper!

Ingredients:  8    Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

For the chicken roulade

  • Two skinned and boned chicken breasts
  • One cup of chopped spinach (I used frozen spinach)
  • 1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
  • Two tablespoons roasted pine nuts
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

For the cauliflower mash

  • 1/2 a cauliflower 
  • One tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius 

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The first step is to prepare the chicken breasts. The best way is to wrap it in a plastic wrap (covering the chicken fully) and use the flat side of the mallet and flatten the meat using outward strokes from the centre of the breast to the edges.

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Once the chicken is flattened season it with a bit of salt on both sides and keep aside. 

Time to prepare the stuffing – in a pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add the minced garlic followed by spinach. I used chopped frozen spinach for its sheer convenience, you can use fresh spinach too. Cook the spinach until soft and then add the crumbled ricotta cheese and take the pan off the heat.

Add toasted pine nuts to the spinach and ricotta mix and let it cool for about 5 minutes.

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Depending on the size of your chicken breast take the filling and lay it horizontally across the flattened meat. Don’t stuff the chicken excessively as it may burst open while cooking. Now carefully roll the chicken breast and tie it up with a kitchen string.

In another pan add half a tablespoon of olive oil and sear the chicken on both sides until lightly browned.

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Then place the chicken in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

While the chicken is baking lets make the cauliflower mash. Break up the florets of the cauliflower and wash them well.

Boil the cauliflower florets for about 15 – 20 minutes until fully tender. Drain the cauliflower (don’t discard the water, you can use it as cooking stock) and mash it up, add one tablespoon of olive oil to give it that glossy look and delicious flavour. Season with salt as required, your cauliflower mash is ready to serve.

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By this stage the chicken will be cooked, remove it from the pan and let it rest for about five minutes. The delicious flavours in the pan can be converted into a jus to drizzle over the chicken. Add 1/4 cup of water and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Now add 1/4 teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves and let the liquid simmer for five minutes on high heat.

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To serve place the cauliflower mash on a plate, cut the chicken in circles and place them on top of the mash. Finally drizzle the chicken and mash with the jus and there you have it a lip smackingly delicious healthy meal for you and your family. ENJOY!

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