Monday 27 June 2016

Mango and Apricot Morning Smoothie

simple, breakfast

1 Mango
1 Apricot
1 tablespoon organic almond butter
1 heaped tablespoon hemp powder (for protein)
2 heaped tablespoons of coconut yogurt (I use Co-yo natural yogurt)
450ml almond milk (I use Rude Health Brown Rice Almond Milk)

Cut up your mango into cubes as shown here by our Jan.

Wash and cut your apricot in half making sure you remove the stone no need to remove the skin.
Put your fruit in a blender with your almond butter, hemp powder, coconut yogurt and almond milk and blend well on a high speed for a few minutes.

I have included a link to show some of the benefits of hemp powder as a common question for vegans is where do we get our protein, and the hemp powder and almond butter in this smoothie are both good sources.


Friday 24 June 2016

The Chickpea Chapter: Tarts & Quiches

Welcome to part 2 of the Chickpea Chapter! This week's dish is a gluten-free and vegan tart. Savoury pastry was one of the things I missed eating the most after I realised that gluten is a problem for me. Fortunately, on the back of the Doves Gram Flour packet is an brilliant gluten free quiche recipe; today's post is my adaptation of said recipe. This meal requires a couple of ‘out-there’ ingredients, but they can actually all be found in supermarkets and health food shops. I make this recipe a lot, as I unfortunately can not digest gluten. However, my partner can and she still enjoys it.

Makes 1 small quiche or 4 single portion ramekins

Pastry case:
150g gram flour
¼ tsp Xantham gum
Pinch Salt
75g Vegan spread or Butter
5 tbsp Water

4 Large onions
1 Courgette
2 Cloves Garlic
Olive oil
50g gram flour, mixed with pinch xantham gum + 250ml non-dairy/dairy milk
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional, but will provide a nice tangy, cheesy flavour)
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp. rosemary
1 tbsp. Thyme

First, make the pastry.
  1. Mix together the flour, xantham gum and salt
  2. Using clean hands, rub the flour into the spread until it resembles breadcrumbs
  3. Stir in enough water to bring together a soft ball of dough, it may appear a little wet but will absorb the liquid.
  4. Wrap in cling film and rest the pastry for at least 30 minutes
  5. Roll the pastry out between two pieces of lour dusted in cling film and leave it for at least 30 minutes

Meanwhile, we will focus on the filling.
  1. Grate the courgette into a sieve above a bowl and mix in 2 tsp. salt. This will draw the water from them, increasing their sweetness
  2. Finely slice the onions and cook them on a medium-low heat in some olive oil, with the rosemary, thyme and pinches of salt and pepper. Ideally put a lid on the pan, so the onions become soft and sweet. Should take 10-12 minutes
  3. Mix the xantham gum, gram flour, milk and nutritional yeast to a smooth thick-milk consistency

Now we will begin to construct the pies.
  1. Oil your chosen quiche dish or ramekins
  2. Roll the pastry out on a well-floured surface, flour the rolling pin too
  3. Cut out a piece of pastry large enough for your dish and fit it in
  4. Mix the cooked vegetables into the xantham gum and milk mixture
  5. Pour into your quiche dish

Cook for 45/55 minutes at 180C. Get the gravy!

Sunday 19 June 2016

Lou Marchionne (Head Chef of The Better Food deli on Whiteladies Road)

Lou Marchionne, Head Chef and ‘Salad Queen/Machine’ of the Better Food deli on Whiteladies Road. Like a culinary Trojan she cooks salads, soups, stews, bread, terrines, pate, pizza, tortilla, Italian flatbreads, and frittatas on a daily basis. Upon request your meal can come served with nutritional advice from her too, as a side-option. 

Lou Marchionne

JP: It seems that your daily output is immense, but with lots of creativity. How is it that you got into this line of work?

LM: I am writing these answers ironically, for a site called ‘Cook, Eat and Travel’ which is the very reason behind my getting into this line of work. I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively in my life which included a 2 year stint in Australia and New Zealand. I started cooking whilst in Sydney and was fortunate enough to become friends with a great bunch of friends who regularly got together to share suppers and they were all great cooks. Before this I trained as an art teacher and I believe I approach cooking in much the same way as I did painting. I love colour. I now love colour and flavour and am always looking and thinking about ways in which they can marry well. I am also always concerned about the nutritional benefits of what we eat as well. My paintings were of multi medium, my approach to cooking is much the same.
On my return from the Southern Hemisphere I was fortunate enough to gain employment with Barny Haughton who owned and ran Rocinantes – a lively bar and Bristol’s first organic restaurant. I learned a lot from him and from his head chef at the time who was an American woman who had previously worked with Alice Waters (Chez Panisse)

JP: Were there any landmark, truly awesome moments that inspired you to cook professionally?

LM: I always loved to cook, I was the oldest girl in my family with a single working Mum, so was often given the task of cooking for everyone. I have always known that I really enjoyed delicious food, prepared well.
My landmark was experiencing the food culture in Sydney at the time. It was ‘streets ahead’ of London, which is where I had been living before I left the UK. The markets, the cafes and the general standard of food was more multi cultural, was simply better and much more exciting.
The Better Food Company

JP: What was your first job in the world of food?

LM: I started life in a kitchen as a Kitchen Porter. Which as anyone who has been one knows, it is hard graft, but rewarding. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the kitchen. 

JP: You have been a chef for a few years now, would you say that throughout that time you
have developed a personal cooking style?

Probably but I might not be the best person to ask! I know I like flavours and lots of them. I enjoy different textures and I like to try to match both. I love experimenting with both as well.
Lou Marchionne

JP: Do you have a signature Lou Marchionne dish or flavour?

I would like to think not, but my Farinata might be the nearest thing to it. I often turn up at parties with a batter, a pan and a spatula..
I hope everything I cook will touch a taste bud, be it a food memory or an inspiring (I hope) idea with someone. 

JP: Some chefs compare eating a meal to a conversation, do you have any thoughts on this?

LM: Food is a conversation and a celebration. From the seed to the table and each part of this process is equally important and should be mutually respectful. I aim to be considerate and inclusive in this process. Qualifying in Allergy therapy and food nutrition has increased my awareness and proven to be an affirmation in this belief.

JP: If you could only eat from one cuisine for the rest of your life – where would it be from? And why?

LM: My father was Italian, so it would be rude not to be biased! My Mother’s ancestry was part Irish. I love traditional style and artisan cooking. But I also love the contrast as well as the depth of flavour in Asian cooking.

JP: What and where was the best meal you`ve eaten?

LM: This is really hard to answer. I have been fortunate enough due to family connections to eat in some great restaurants. The whole experience of fine dining is just simply a great sensory experience. I have had some great suppers cooked by friends. BUT I have also eaten the most delicious and simple food and by chance. Roadside trattoria in Southern Italy: great cheeses and cured meats and an average glass of wine but all of it together at that moment in time, sundown, was perfect.

A restaurant Carved out in a cliff face also in Italy, with huge fishing poles and nets that came off the cliff face and were lowered into the sea. You got what they caught it was grilled served with bread, delicious olives, and salad with great olive oil. It was deliciously hot and the shade of the cave was a welcome relief from the sun. And then the simple, maybe less than average dinners but they are dinners that are great and that is because it is all about the company…
Greotta Palazzese photo from
JP: You are surrounded by food all day, tasting flavours and sampling dishes. If you don’t mind us asking; what about when you are at home; do you still have the motivation to cook?

LM: For people, always. For my son and his friends, always. There is always something somewhere to be made into something to be eaten. To gather people together to mark the end of their day, to share their company and their stories. My fridge, my freezer, my cupboards are always worth looking into.

JP: Do you have a favourite go-to, nourishing and replenishing meal?

LM: For me personally? A simple sprouting bean salad with rocket or chicory dressed with apple cider vinegar. It feels cleansing and energizing at the end of a busy day of cooking and tasting.

JP: What do you believe are the crucial elements for a smooth operating kitchen?

LM: To work as a team. It should feel a bit like a family. To have routines and systems in place. To have a good sense of communication, to be encouraging and inspiring. Awareness of standards and aims. To be supportive of one another and aspiring. To have a big sense of humility for those for whom you are cooking. ‘No point in eating unless it is nice’ – Have you heard me say this?!

O yes and infrastructure…

JP: Are there any pieces of kitchen equipment that you couldn’t live without?

LM: A good knife, a board, a pan and a spatula. But now more recently due to the condition in my hands this is an interesting question. Now every bit of equipment and any aid I can have in place to help preserve my time at a stove has become increasingly more important. Grinders, Food processors, mixers, blenders, juicers .. Yep, I’ll take all of them please!

JP: And finally do you have a favourite cookery book?

LM: No, impossible to say. Recipe books should always be well sourced and read like any other book. Then find the recipe you would like to try, find several versions of it if you can, read them all and the methods, then close the book and go cook it! Food and cooking is an organic process, it grows and develops with you. There is always something to learn and to be inspired by.

JP: Thanks again for your time.
Interviewed by Jan Philips 

Friday 17 June 2016

Hummus to meringues: the chickpea lifestyle

vegan, gluten-free
Recently I learnt that 2016 is the ‘year of the bean’. If I was to elect a representative of this small, round, yet international family – it would be the chickpea. Over the last few weeks I have, on multiple occasions, been amazed by its versatility; savoury pies, delicious meringues and impressive flatbreads! 

This has inspired me to post a chickpea-based recipe once a week for at least the next 5 weeks - maybe more if I make new discoveries. The first page of this Chickpea chapter will feature hummus and farinata; a well-known Italian style snack. Everyone knows what hummus is, but not many people seem to know how to make it. It's simple yet delicious.

Firstly though, some context. Let me introduce you. These beige, spherical pulses grow in warm climates such India, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Depending on their form and which country you are in Chickpeas can have any of the following names: Besan, Gabanzo, Gram Flour or Aqua Faba. Nutritionally speaking, the Chickpea contains:
- 15g protein per cooked cup,
- half daily recommendation of manganese
and quarter of daily recommendation of folate, iron and vitamin E
Eating them will help to provide fuel for muscle and bone growth and repair (protein), processing cholesterol and fuelling metabolism (manganese), promotes the breakdown and use of protein and help to form red and white blood cells (folate), continue to support you bodies ability to carry oxygen through the bloodstream (iron), help to maintain healthy skin and eyes as well as strengthening the immune system (Vitamin E).

Indirect benefits of eating chickpeas, is that they aren’t a dead animal. Eating a plant-based diet is better for the environment and animal welfare. Yes, I’m Vegan.

So now you are familiar, let’s cook. Then eat. And pretend we have travelled to Genoa.

Farinata & Hummus

As my partner likes to say, this course is Chickpea ‘Inception’ – Chickpeas dipped in Chickpeas. Farinata is an Italian flatbread, fried liked a pancake, made from Chickpea flour. I have included a basic recipe for Hummus so you can adjust it according to match the seasoning you choose for your Farinata.

Farinata, serves 4:
300ml water
150g gram flour
15g fresh, sprigged Rosemary or 1 tbsp ground cumin
Pinch of salt, pepper
olive oil

Chop the Rosemary finely. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. The batter is now ready to be fried like a pancake on low-medium heat. However, if you leave it out to ferment overnight or longer the batter will become thicker, in turn making an airier and spongier flatbread.

Hummus, serves 4:
Juice of 1 lemon
400g tin of cooked chickpeas, drained
1 large garlic clove,
5 tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ tbsp. tahini

Crush and finely chop the garlic to a paste, mixing in 1 tsp. salt to help soften it and bring the juice out. Blitz everything in a blender, serve in a small bowl.