Recipes

Breakfast, Dips and spreads

Pear Butter

pearbutter2

I love the magic quality of this recipe, in which just one ingredient – pears – cook in a bit of water until they are completely transformed.  The result is a naturally sweet spread perfect for toast or pancakes, or stirred into some natural yogurt.  It is also a great way to use up any pears that are less than perfect or slightly past their prime.

This is good fun to make with children. They can chop the pears and stir the pot, and will be amazed at how cooking can completely change an ingredient.

Pear Butter

4 large pears or 6 medium (about 1.2 kg total)

200 ml water

Core and chop the pears, but do not peel them, and put in a pan with the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until pears are tender, about 1 hour.

Once the pears have softened, remove the lid and continue cooking for another 2-3 hours, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is smooth and brown and there is no visible liquid. You will need to stir more frequently towards the end of cooking, to avoid scorching.

Cool to room temperature and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate.

 

Breakfast, Dips and spreads

Blueberry Chia Jam

blueberrychiajam

Happy new year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and had a good break. To get started cooking in 2016, I am sharing a recipe that we will be making in my GAPS For Breakfast workshop next week. This workshop is now sold out – sorry! – but I will be holding it again in April 2016. Details of other upcoming workshops are in the sidebar or on my Events page.

Chia seeds are not only loaded with nutrients, but also very versatile in cooking. For those with an egg allergy, chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute. Chia seeds can be used to make a delicious gluten-free porridge. And here they are used to make a pan of runny fruit set into a jam, without the added sugar of traditional jam. Instead I have just added a touch of honey for sweetness. Chia jam is also incredibly quick to make compared to traditional jam, which is more of a “project”. I hope you enjoy it!

Blueberry Chia Jam

300 g fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons chia seeds

½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Yield – one small jam jar

Put the blueberries and honey in a pan and heat on the hob stirring frequently, until the blueberries have burst and the liquid is boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chia seeds and cook for another 10 minutes, continuing to stir.

When the jam has thickened, take off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Taste and add more honey if necessary. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a jar and refrigerate. Keeps for up to one week.

 

Blog

Brain Food 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

There is no denying the holiday season is upon us! Are you still struggling to find the right gift for the health-conscious food lover in your life? Here are a few suggestions from Brain Food HQ:

Global Knives

global

These are my all-time favorite knives. They are not cheap but I like to think that they will last forever (if only I could convince my family to NEVER put them in the dishwasher). For those of you in the UK, Ocado is doing a special on Global knives at the moment, 1/3 off selected models. I particularly like the Santoku knife pictured above and this all-purpose kitchen knife.

Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food

jamieoliver

We loved Jamie’s latest TV series on healthy eating and can’t wait to get tucked into the cookbook. Anyone for Roasted Carrot & Squash Salad with Millet, Apple, Jalapeno and Pomegranate? A few other cookbooks we loved in 2015 are Hemsley & Hemsley The Art of Eating Well, The Heal Your Gut Cookbook (for those of you following the GAPS diet) and Miss South’s Slow Cooked.

Actifry

actifry

So, I’m not about to tell you that chips/French fries have suddenly become a health food. However, if you do like chips and want to eat them from time to time – personally I am partial to the occasional moules-frites – the Actifry is definitely the way to go. Using just hot air and just one spoonful of oil (or duck fat also works fine, in my experience), in 30 minutes the Actifry delivers perfectly crispy chips with no mess or fuss. In fact it is easy and safe enough for older children to use.

Hampers

Festive hampers are a popular gift here in England. For a healthy twist on the tradition, try Planet Organic’s paleo “Caveman Hamper” or Sous Chef’s “Raw: Botanical Cuisine Starter Kit”.

Cooking Class

For that special person who has everything, why not give the experience of a cooking class? Waitrose cookery school offers a great selection of classes including “Basic Knife Skills”, a good complement to those Global Knives, and Divertimenti offers an incredible range of classes. Or book a Brain Food cooking workshop. I have two GAPS workshops coming up in early 2016, GAPS for Breakfast on January 20 and GAPS on the Go on February 10. Hope to see you there!

Happy and healthy holidays to all, and thanks for following my blog!

 

Jenny

Dessert

Cranberry Sorbet

CRANBERRYSORBET

Looking for a lighter Thanksgiving dessert that happens to be gluten and dairy free? Here is a tart and refreshing cranberry sorbet – very easy to make and perfect with a slice of pumpkin cake. It would also make a delightful Christmas dinner palate cleanser.

As well as being delicious and vibrantly colored, cranberries are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. There’s something to be thankful for!

Cranberry Sorbet

600 g fresh cranberries

200 g caster sugar

pinch of salt

350 ml water

1 vanilla bean

juice of 1 lemon

Serves 8

Place the cranberries, sugar, salt and water in a large pot that can go on the hob. Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the mixture, then add the beans as well. Bring to the boil, stirring well to dissolve the sugar, then simmer for about 10 minutes until the cranberries have popped. Cool to room temperature and remove the vanilla beans.

Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor. Add the lemon juice and taste – if it is too tart add a touch more sugar. Place a fine sieve over a bowl and pour the cranberry pulp into the sieve. Strain well, rubbing the pulp through the sieve with a spoon. Discard the remaining pulp. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Switch on your ice cream machine and pour in the fruit mixture. Churn until the sorbet is firm enough to serve, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately or freeze in a plastic container.

 

Dessert

Pumpkin Cake

pumpkincake

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I have been busy testing some new dessert ideas. I have not yet managed to produce a gluten and dairy free pie that meets my family’s approval – maybe next year? – but fortunately this Pumpkin Cake was judged a winner and I will be baking it again on Thursday. It is a moist almond-based cake with no gluten or dairy, but plenty of spiced pumpkin flavor. It would pair well with vanilla ice cream (try Booja Booja for a good non-dairy version, or make your own), although I am thinking of making some cranberry sorbet to eat alongside the cake.

I also recommend my Cranberry Amaretti for Thanksgiving or, for a dessert with no refined sugar, my Spiced Pumpkin Mousse Pots. 

 

Pumpkin Cake

2 medium bananas, peeled – about 150g

175 g pumpkin puree (I used Libby’s)

200g caster sugar

6 large eggs

200g ground almonds

1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground five spice blend

ghee or oil to grease the cake pan

Serves 8-10

Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

On a plate or cutting board, mash up the bananas into chunks using a fork. Scrape into a bowl, add the pumpkin puree and blend in the sugar until smooth (I use my handheld mixer to do this).

In another bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Pour into to the banana/pumpkin mixture, and mix well.

Fold the ground almonds, spices and baking powder into the batter, then pour the batter into a 23cm springform cake pan, lined and greased (I used ghee but you could also use a bit of oil).

Bake for one hour. Cool on a rack, then remove from the tin.

Meat and poultry

Slow-cooked lamb with sage

sagelamb

What a week it has been. We are all still recovering from the shock of last Friday’s events in Paris. While none of my friends and family were hurt, many others were not so lucky.

Life goes on and I salute the Parisians who have continued to enjoy café life, with #jesuisenterrasse trending on social media.  But comfort food also has its place in difficult times. This simple but flavorful lamb dish requires virtually no prep, and will make your home smell divine during the four hours it cooks. My definition of comfort.

Slow-cooked lamb with sage

(from the French blog C’est Moi Qui L’ai Fait)

2 kg boneless shoulder of lamb

a good handful of sage leaves

200 ml dry white wine

salt and pepper

Serves 6-8

Preheat your oven to 230 C.

Trim any thick fat off the lamb shoulder, leaving a thin layer of fat. Place the lamb shoulder fat side down in a dutch oven and heat over medium flame on the hob, until some of the fat has rendered and the lamb has browned. Turn over and brown the other side.

When both sides are browned, take the pan off the hob and remove the lamb to a plate. Wipe the excess fat from the pan with some kitchen paper, then put the lamb back in fat side up. Cover the lamb in sage leaves, then pour in the white wine. Season with salt and pepper, cover and put in the oven.

Important: you must then immediately reduce the heat to 150 C.

Cook for around four hours, basting every hour.

To serve, gently separate the lamb into chunks using two forks.