Recipes

Breakfast

Granola

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I have finally banished cereal boxes from my kitchen! After years of experimenting, I have finally landed on a healthy breakfast that all three of my lovely children are happy to eat. Low in sugar and featuring a range of nutritious nuts and seeds, this is a filling breakfast to keep busy children and adults going all morning.

The recipe is infinitely customizable, but I am sharing how I make it to cater to my family’s tastes, with a few notes to help you customize it to your own tastes. We eat this with yogurt and fresh berries in the summer, or a homemade berry compote in the winter. A sliced banana on top is nice too.

Oh, and major bonus: your house will smell amazing as this cooks…

Granola

400 g gluten-free rolled oats

100 g flaked almonds

100 g chopped hazelnuts

100 g pistachio nut kernels

100 g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, linseed)

150 ml maple syrup

3 tablespoons olive oil

optional extras:

  • other nuts such as walnuts or pecans
  • dessicated coconut or coconut chips (add for last 10 minutes of cooking)
  • dried fruit such as raisins, dried cranberries etc (add for last 10 minutes of cooking)

Makes 12-15 servings

Preheat oven to 180 C.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except pistachios and mix well. Pour into a large roasting tin or rimmed baking sheet and spread out to form as thin a layer as possible. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Add the pistachios and bake for 5-10 minutes more, until golden brown.

Cool and transfer to an airtight container. Serve with milk or yogurt and fruit.

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Soup

Red Lentil Soup

redlentilsoupIs anyone else very excited that Masterchef is starting up again tonight? It’s definitely one of my guilty pleasures…I love watching along and thinking at each stage what I would do if I were in the Masterchef kitchen (probably panic blindly, but maybe also come up with an interesting way to cook mackerel for the invention test?). There are the epic cooking disasters (chocolate fondant anyone?), Greg’s bad jokes and the way he pronounces chorizo, and then occasionally a contestant who really stands out from the crowd.

One of my all-time favorites was Emma Spitzer, a runner-up a few years ago whose Middle-Eastern inspired food left a lasting impression. Emma recently published her first cookbook, Fress: Bold, Fresh Flavours from a Jewish Kitchen

I’ve been enjoying cooking my way through this book, but the one recipe I keep coming back to is “Debbie’s Cherry Tomato, Red Lentil and Chickpea Soup” (the recipe originates with Emma’s sister Debbie). I love coming home to this soup after a wintery walk on Hampstead Heath, but it also makes a great starter. I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe – my soup is thicker and spicier, which is really just personal preference.

Red Lentil Soup (slightly adapted from Fress)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled and diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery sticks, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

250 g dried red lentils, rinsed

2 x 400g tins of cherry tomatoes, with the juices

1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarians)

3 bay leaves

2 tablespoons ras-el-hanout

a pinch of dried chilli flakes

1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

the juice of 1 lemon

a pinch of sumac

optional: greek yogurt/creme fraiche/soured cream to serve

Serves 6

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until vegetables are soft. Add the lentils and continue stirring for a few more minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and stock, and bring to the boil. Add the bay leaves, ras-el-hanot, chilli flakes and season well. Cover the pot, and simmer for 45 minutes.

When the soup is done, blend to your desired consistency using an immersion blender (I like mine a bit chunky). Add the chickpeas and heat the soup until the chickpeas have warmed through. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Check the seasoning, then serve. Add a sprinkle of sumac to each serving, and bring a bowl of yogurt/creme fraiche/soured cream to the table.

Side dishes

Israeli Chopped Salad

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This is barely a recipe, more a suggestion of an easy and flavorful summer side dish that will works well with any Middle Eastern or Mediterranean main course, or even on its own with a dollop of hummus.

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This chopped salad is very popular not just in Israel but all over the Middle East. It comes together in just a few minutes but will also benefit from resting in the fridge for an hour or two.

Israeli Chopped Salad

250 g ripe cherry tomatoes

1 large cucumber (approx 450 g)

1/2 red onion

juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

optional extra toppings: chopped parsley, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese, sumac

Serves 4 as a side dish

Slice the onion, then soak in cold water for 15 minutes to reduce the bite (skip this if you like some bite to your salad). Pat dry, then chop into fine dice.

Quarter the cherry tomatoes.

Peel the cucumber and quarter lengthwise. Scoop out any excess seeds if necessary, then dice.

Place the onion, tomatoes and cucumber in a bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning. Toss well, and serve immediately or chill for a few hours.

IMG_1040photos and food styling by Yaelle

Breakfast

Banana Almond Pancakes

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Did you see my healthy breakfast tips in The Telegraph earlier this month? The Telegraph featured several Brain Food breakfast recipes in their article on “How to make your child a healthy breakfast that they’ll actually like”.  But looking through the recipes the Telegraph chose made me realize that one of my favorite breakfast recipes was not on the website at all! This recipe for banana almond pancakes is so quick and easy to throw together on a weekend morning, and you probably have all of the ingredients to hand. The pancakes pair beautifully with fruit and berries, a drizzle of maple syrup or a spoonful of chia seed jam.

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Banana Almond Pancakes

2 very ripe medium bananas, peeled

4 large eggs

4 tablespoons (40 g) ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

coconut oil for cooking (or any other cooking fat)

Makes about 8 pancakes.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas well with a fork. Whisk in the eggs, then add the ground almonds and mix well.

Melt a small spoonful of coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Using a ladle, add about 3 tablespoons of batter to the pan. The key to these pancakes is to keep them small, around the size of a scotch pancake, as they will be difficult to flip otherwise. Using a spatula correct the shape if necessary. When the bottom side is firmly cooked, after about 2 minutes, flip over (carefully!) and cook the other side for about 1 minute. Remove from the pan, and start again for the next pancake.