Olive rosemary focaccia


It’s been a while since everything and among other things that I love and crave, bread is definitely the frontrunner and not finding any upon opening the refrigerator can be a bit surprising, agitating and often tends to send me on a downward spiral of domestic crisis which is why and when I ended up with this coppery slab of carb heaven.

The thing about focaccia apart from creating your very own custom flavour is the straightforwardness of the whole process because there isn’t any particular shape that we need fret over and it’s all too easy to begin tearing into one the moment it’s out of the oven, moreover I like slicing stale focaccia into slivers and toasting it in the oven to make crispy crouton like sticks.

As all breads go, focaccia also begins life with flour and yeast and so here we have bread flour, tepid water, olive oil, yeast, salt, rosemary and olives.

Begin by adding yeast into the water which is just warm to the touch and let it sit until it foams. You need good, fresh yeast for that or else the dough won’t rise.

Once the yeast has nicely bubbled up, add it to the flour

along with half the olive oil, reserving the rest for later

add salt and mix it with a spoon until it forms a shaggy dough

Transfer to the countertop and knead until smooth and pliable adding more water a little at a time without making it sticky.

Let it rest in a warm place for a couple of hours until doubled in size. You can even leave it in the fridge overnight.

Once risen it is ready to be formed into bread.

Punch it to deflate. Not only because it’s important but also because it’s fun.

Prepare the baking pan by oiling it generously

Sprinkle some semolina. This is an optional step but helps in the crisping of the bottom.

Scrape the dough into the tray

and brush the top with reserved olive oil. Be generous with the oil here. It’s crucial to this bread making process.

Push the dough with fingertips until evenly distributed in the baking tray, also giving it the typical focaccia dimpled look.

Stuff the dimpled surface with rosemary and olives and push them right into the dough.

Cover and let rise for another hour before baking at 200ºC for 25-30 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the bottom is slightly crisped up

Brush the just baked bread with olive oil and let it rest at least ten minutes before serving.

Here’s a cross section of this delicious focaccia. It’s soft, spongy and moist and deliciously satisfying.


Ingredients

  • Flour: 700g
  • Yeast: 2 tsp
  • Warm water: 300mls + more for kneading
  • Salt: 2 tsp
  • Olive oil: 50mls
  • Olives: 100g
  • Fresh rosemary: 10g
  • Semolina: 2 tsp

Recipe instructions

Add the yeast to warm water and let it bloom. Make sure the yeast is fresh and not expired or it will inhibit the rising of the dough.

Add the water to the dough along with olive oil and salt and mix with spoon until just combined to form a shaggy dough.

Transfer to countertop and knead to a smooth pliable dough. Add more water if need be but a little at a time to keep the dough from getting sticky.

Let the kneaded dough rest in a warm place for a couple hours or until doubled in size. You can even let it rest in the fridge overnight.

Once the dough had doubled in size, deflate by punching and scrape into a well oiled baking tray sprinkled with semolina.

Push the dough to fit into the tray with fingertips giving it the typical dimpled look and stuff the surface with rosemary and olives.

Cover and let rest for an hour before finally baking in a preheated oven at 200ºc for 25-30 minutes or until the top has bronzed and the bottom lightly crisped.

Brush with olive oil and let rest for at least ten minutes before serving.

Green coriander chutney


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It’s an amplification of harmonious flavours put together in a way as to extract the maximum potency of their parent ingredients is what chutney I believe is and this recipe extracts, exaggerates and emboldens every flavour that found itself in the making of this luridly green almost viciously spicy and flavour festooned green chutney.

Chutneys are of course not meant as a solitary treat because of their main purpose in life as an enhancer, that is they upgrade any dish from their current pedestal and double as dips, dressings even spread and this particular coriander chutney especially works hard to earn its keep not least because it’s an old recipe using few readily available in season ingredients.

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The spice levels on this depend on the creator but it’s good to have it on the not so mild side of the spectrum and keep them a bit on the more tear-jerking levels, not to be vulgar or anything but because that’s really how this stuff works and it’s meant to. Ingredients are few and simple. Coriander, green chillies, garlic, dried red chillies, salt, cumin seeds and dried mango powder.

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It’s just a question of blending everything together. So along with the coriander leaves and the stalks which contain most of the flavour

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add the garlic and chillies, halved or chopped to convenience

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the dried red chillies

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and the spices that are cumin, dried mango powder and salt and blend

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until you have a somewhat smooth paste. Make sure that all the ingredients have been incorporated and that there aren’t any large chunks left. Add a little water but not too much and use a spoon to clamp down the leaves and chillies to avoid too many air pockets.

And that’s it. Your green coriander chutney is ready.

I especially love it sandwiched between two slices of bread with lashings of butter and a dollop of this chutney. But really, over rice, in salads, as a dip for anything fried, this chutney is where it’s at!


Ingredients

Coriander: 100g

Chillies: 3-4 (use fewer for a milder taste)

Garlic cloves: 2-3

Cumin seeds: 1 heaped tsp

Salt: 1.5tsp (or to taste)

Dried red chillies: 2-3

Dried mango powder: 1tsp heaped



 Recipe instructions

Wash the coriander well and rinse under running water until no grit or dirt remains and add to a blender with green chillies, garlic cloves, salt, cumin powder, dried red chillies and dried mango powder.

Blend to form a smooth paste. Add a tablespoon of water if it feels too dry but do not add extra because it can make the resulting chutney watery. Clamp down with a spatula or spoon for even blending.

Remove to a clean container and store in the fridge. It will stay fresh for at least 3-4 days.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin soup 2.0 (Vegan)


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Pumpkin soup has a special place in my repertoire and I’ve been dabbling with a lot of different recipes and ways to make this soup and not that I’m trying to be smug or anything but looks like I’ve finally perfected a recipe that I might sick to, and that it needs no pottering over a stove really does help.

The thing about soups and pumpkin soup, in general, is that it’s a very non-fussy way to create deliciousness from a rather humble looking vegetable and it’s versatile in a way that there’s never just the one way of cooking it just like there’s never one way of eating something and this particular recipe can be adapted to make pasta sauce, pizza sauce and curry base as well. Just a question of thinning or thickening it to your liking and I like it on the thicker more velvety side of things and that’s what I said and say.

Right, this blog is no stranger to pumpkin soups and in fact, I’m linking a previous pumpkin soup recipe here as well which is just as delicious but not nearly as quick and mad with flavours.

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Did I mention it was simple as simple as can be? The taste and colour are amped up with spices and how much or how little you add is up to you but I like it very spicy especially in this weather and turmeric helps with the goldenness of it all. Like molten sunshine on a chilly afternoon. There’s pumpkin, onion, garlic, salt, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, nutmeg and black pepper.

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Chop the vegetables to an almost equal sized thickness and add some oil. The amount of oil you want to add is up to you. It could be a drop, a drizzle or a glug. Did I mention this is an atrociously healthy recipe as well?

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Next, come the spices and this is really what maketh the soup. I’ve been known to add almost three times the amount of pepper I show here and so can you. The spiciness is really a personal choice and so is salt. No nutmeg at this stage. It comes in later.

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there you go. All in.

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Time to smoosh it all together. Coating the vegetables with spices and oil.

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Bake at 190º for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is almost falling apart and the onions and garlic have softened but not burnt.

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At this stage, you can modify it to how you’d want the final results to be. You can add stock, cream, coconut milk, regular milk or just plain water which is what I’m doing because it’s choke full of flavours but having said that I do add coconut milk to it on days when I’m in an altogether different mood.

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grate in a bit of nutmeg and add that as well. Not too much or it’ll overpower. Just enough to haunt the soup with a peripheral kiss of the exotic and blitz.

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Pulse until it’s all emulsified and you have glorious golden soup. Oh, how it glows. taste for seasoning and thickness and adjust by adding more of whatever is required.

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and lo and behold!


Ingredients

Pumpkin: 250g

Onion: 1 small

Garlic: 3-4 cloves

Turmeric: 1heaped tsp

Paprika: 1tsp

Black pepper: 1/2tsp

Salt to taste

Cinnamon: 1/2tsp

Nutmeg: 1/4tsp

Oil: 2tsp

Water: 200mls



Recipe instructions 

Chop the vegetables into equal sized portions and drizzle over oil and mix in the spices and salt except for nutmeg. Place in a baking tray and bake at 190º for 15-20 minutes or until the pumpkin is very tender and the other vegetables softened.

Add the vegetables to a mixer, grate in the nutmeg and add hot water and blend to a smooth puree.

Serve hot with bread or even rice.

 

 

 

 

Instant chilli pickle


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For when you want to add a little something-something to a dish that doesn’t taste just there yet or feels flat or maybe you just want a tiny spice kick and spicy texture to enhance and complement the food then this is the pickle of instant dreams because it adds that fresh zing and unique flavour that you could have been looking for but didn’t know where to find.

It’s quick in that it’s instant and depending on the chillies you put it can vary from anything naughtily mild to demonic hot.

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Doesn’t hurt that it’s full of ingredients really good for you and how they come to marry in perfect harmony to form this delicious pickle.

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Chop and dice the green chillies into smaller than bite-sized pieces and remove any seeds if you want. These chillies though large in size are rather tame in taste, in fact, they’re almost sweet and so I didn’t much bother with deseeding them.

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Crush the yellow and black mustard seeds till some are fine dust and some still intact.

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Find a suitable bowl for mixing the pickle.

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Add crushed mustard seeds to the chopped chillies

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followed by salt and turmeric

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In with apple cider vinegar

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mustard oil

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and lemon

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give everything a thorough mix

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until spicily combined

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This is ready to be eaten immediately. Alternatively, you can cover and keep for a day for the flavours to mingle and mellow before transferring to a clean jar. This will keep well for several weeks or you can transfer to a fridge after a few days.

(Note: the flavours will intensify with each day and the mustard seeds lend a pungent spiciness of its own which is most desirable in such pickles.)

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You can add this to rice, slices of bread and anything you feel could do with a boost. I have tried mixing it with boiled pasta during days of lazy inactivity and loved every morsel of it.


Ingredients

Chillies: 250g

Lemon: 1

salt: 2tsp

Turmeric powder: 1tsp

Mustard seeds (crushed): 30g (you can use either all black or all yellow or a mixture of both)

Mustard oil: 70mls (or use olive oil if mustard oil is unavailable)

Apple cider vinegar: 60mls



Recipe instructions

Crush the mustard seeds until some are pulverized and some whole. Chop chillies into small pieces and add to a bowl.

Mix in the mustard seeds, turmeric, salt, oil, vinegar and lemon juice.

Cover and keep for a day or decant into a clean jar to be eaten immediately.

Note: The addition of vinegar increases its shelf life and this pickle can be stored for several weeks, however, you can store this in the refrigerator after a week as well.

 

Oxblood smoothie (Vegan)


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No animals were harmed in the creation of this idiotically vibrant pink smoothie that suffuses your insides with a similar blazing glow of health and wellness, not least because this delicious lambent drink is made in mere moments and serves as a fantastic post-workout snack or a cool supplement with any meal.

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The ingredients can be easily substituted with what you have on hand and what kind of flavour profile you need in a particular smoothie. I gravitate towards resplendent reds and thusly red pitaya for the colour and nutrition boost along with bananas, strawberries, cashew nuts and soy milk.

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There’s just the one step to it that is blending all the ingredients.

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strawberries in with pitaya or dragonfruit as we call it and I have frozen strawberries here.

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in with cashew nuts

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banana and soy milk,

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a couple of pulses followed by a long whizz and there we have it. Luminous and bloody red.

(I have on previous occasions used boiled beetroot instead of pitaya with similar results.)

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Your daily nutrition boost with fruits and fixings.


Ingredients

Red Pitaya: 200g

Banana: 200g (2 small or 1 big)

Strawberries: 100g

Cashew nuts: 50g

Soy milk: 100mls



Recipe instructions:

Chop the fruits into smaller portions for even blending and blend along with cashew nuts and soy milk until smooth.

Feel free to add sweetener or a squirt of lemon to enhance the sweetness and tang.

 

 

Skinny energy bars (vegan)


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One could, if one wanted, call them superfood mega nutritious healthy chocolate energy bars but that would be too long a name for something so decidedly elegant and petite and so, skinny bars it is and these are skinny in both appearance and spirit and all too easy to eat not just as a nutritious dessert, but also as a post-workout snack or during that time of the day when you feel hungry or depressed.

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I might have mistakenly erased the photograph of ingredients assemblage which is why we begin with the recipe. Starting with a clean bowl and a spatula.

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in with coconut oil, always a good start.

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followed with an all natural sweetener in the form of mushed up, pitted dates

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mix them well to form a somewhat wet base for the rest of the ingredients

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rolled oats that I pulsed a couple times to somewhat break them

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followed by rice flour and cinnamon and vanilla extract

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give it all a mix to incorporate the wet ingredients well into the dry.

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and finally the dried fruits, nuts and seeds. Here I have some raisins, goji berries, chia seeds, chopped almonds as well as some black and white sesame seeds.

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Give all the ingredients a thorough mixture to slick them somewhat with the oil and dates mixture

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and prepare a baking tin by lining it with baking paper to prevent the oatmeal bars from sticking to the tray.

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Scrape the contents into the tray and flatten the top, making sure it’s even on all sides before baking it at 180ºC for 35-40 minutes.

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It will come out bronzed at the top and I realized the raisins had swollen a bit and protruded out. This is, at this stage, a tin full of delicious granola and to make them into skinny bars you have to let it cool completely.

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The final stage involves a bit of pouring and sprinkling and here I have some melted chocolate and a couple tablespoons of slivered pistachios. You can melt some vegan chocolate for this purpose but I have here some homemade chocolate, the recipe for which I’m still perfecting and perhaps I will upload it soon but for now some melted chocolate (any you prefer) would work.

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Sprinkle over the nuts while the chocolate is still liquid and keep it to set in the fridge for a couple hours or until you’re ready to unmould and slice after it’s set.

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The surface takes over a rather matt look accentuated with the vibrant greens of the slivered pistachio’s and tastes even better.

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Find a sharp knife and get carving. The size of the pieces you cut is entirely up to you. They can be shards, chunks, blocks, slivers or you can just chew on this entire thing whole.

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Just look at this glorious cross section. There’s a bit of everything.

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and another cross-section, if you’re into cross-sections. I mean, of course, you could make thicker chunkier bars by spreading it into a smaller baking tin but they’d still be skinny bars.

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Ingredients

Rolled oats: 250g

Rice flour: 80g

Coconut oil: 50mls

mashed dates: 170g  (Alternatively use maple syrup or any other syrup)

Nuts +seeds: 80g (I used almonds, chia, black and white sesame seeds)

dried berries and raisins: 60g (I used raisins and goji berries)

Cinnamon: 1 tsp

vanilla extracts: 1 tsp

melted Vegan chocolate: 150g

Slivered Pistachios: 2 tbsps


Recipe instructions

Pulse the oats in a food processor to break them as an optional step.

In a clean bowl mix together the dates and coconut oil until well combined. Tip in the oats, rice flour, cinnamon and vanilla extract and mix. Add the nuts, seeds, berries and raisins and mix until well combined.

Spread in a baking tin lined with baking sheet and flatten the surface evening out the layer and bake at 180ºC for 35-50 minutes or until the top is browned.

Let it cool completely before glazing with melted chocolate and sprinkling over slivered pistachio’s.

Refrigerate to set and cut into large pieces or smaller chunks.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for best results. These keep for a couple weeks if well stored, though they are much too easily eaten before the weekend is over.

NOTE: use date/ maple/rice syrup or coconut sugar instead of mashed dates if you prefer and any other dried fruits, nuts and seeds of your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super smoothie (Vegan)


If you’re looking for a quick, healthy, delicious post-workout recovery snack/drink or even just a nutritious little something to go with your daily blah then look no further because have I got a smoothie for you.

It’s gratifyingly enjoyable in a way that post-workout drinks should be, easy to put together with simple ingredients that can be mixed up to suit your tastes.

If you’re used to keeping a stocked larder with superfoods or just interested in knowing the different ways to use up those seeds and berries you can’t seem to finish then this might just be what you’re looking for and it’s pink.

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A great smoothie needs a banana and it’s one of those definite fruits that does wonders for your body and system. It’s easily accessible, cheap and sweet. Apart from some strawberries (you could use any easily blendable fruit or berry of choice), goji berries to oomph the superbness of this smoothie what with all the antioxidants and vitamins and minerals, chia seeds for the overall goodness of the omega 3, protein, antioxidants and fibre and some milk.

It’s pretty straightforward really. You bung everything in a blender and blend, but I will demonstrate still.

 

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awkwardly add milk and banana to a blender

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followed by strawberries, still keeping with the odd hand angle

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in with goji berries

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and chia seeds. Whirr to blend everything together.

 

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until you get a prettily pink drink, stippled with nutritious black dots, like so.

Stick a straw in and drink before you sweat or after or even if you don’t sweat at all. This will not disappoint your health.



Ingredients 

Banana: 1

Strawberries: 40-50g (1/2 cup)

Goji berries: 1 heaped tbsp

Chia seeds: 1 tbsp

Soy milk: 150mls (1/2 cup)


Recipe instructions

Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend at high.

Note: you can use soaked chia seeds in this recipe.

 

 

Homemade peanut butter in a blender


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This began as something of an experiment in search of peanut butter that I could enjoy without staring at the nutrition facts with guilt and wincing. I’d found myself swimming in wonderfully raw plump peanuts and decided to go ahead with making my version of homemade peanut butter that not only kept the ingredients to a minimum but also ensured that everything was easily available and immediately present at hand, which is why a blender works better than a food processor in this case because almost every house has a blender if not a processor.

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The ingredients are few and wholesome which makes it so much better than shop bought ones which are jam-packed with hydrogenated fats, preservatives and stabilizers. Roasted peanuts, coconut sugar (or any sugar), salt and coconut oil (or any oil.)

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I began by roasting peanuts which I did on a baking tray in a very low oven at 110º for about 20 minutes.

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until they had changed colour from pale to rosily bronzed.

 

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The only hard part is removing their skins which is easily done by shaking them vigorously or just rubbing them between your palms. Decant peanuts into a blender of choice and add sugar.

 

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and salt. Give it a good whirr in pulses.

 

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It isn’t a matter of seconds, it will take time, but keep pulsing until some peanuts are crushed, some turned to rubble and some still intact. Using a spatula keep mixing it about to ensure that nothing is stuck to the blade.

 

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It might look like it’s not coming together, but it will. Keep mixing in long and short pulses, alternating with pushing and mixing the broken peanuts with the spatula until you see more crumbs than intact pieces of peanuts.

 

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Add the oil and blend again.

 

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You might get anxious because it doesn’t look like anything’s happening but suddenly the bottom part of the blender will show almost liquefied peanuts, and then you’ll know you’ve struck oil, except its butter and wonderfully delicious at that.

 

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keep blending until you reach the desired consistency. This was still sort of chunky and a few long pulses later..

 

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You’ll get a satiny smooth terracotta emulsion of warmth. All you need at this point is a clean jar to store this homemade peanut butter in.

 

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Once upon a life, there was honey in it. Now there’ll be peanut butter.

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Pour into a jar of choice and refrigerate. This turned out far more delicious than any store-bought ones and easy to boot, not to mention self-righteous and annoyingly healthy.


Ingredients

Peanuts: 370g (2 cups)

Coconut oil: 2tbsp

Coconut sugar: 1tbsp

Salt: 1tsp

Note-  The resulting peanut butter will have a mild underlying coconut flavour to it, which is on account of coconut oil. If you do not like it then use any other oil of choice. 


Recipe Instructions: Roast raw peanuts either on a gas stove or oven by placing in an oven tray and roasting at 110º for 20-25 minutes until they’re rosy and golden. Keep checking to see that they don’t burn.

Remove their skins and place in a blender along with sugar and salt and pulse for a few moments. Use a spatula to mix them in the blender to keep the peanuts from sticking to the bottom. Once most of them are crushed add coconut oil and blend again until desired peanut butter consistency is achieved. Pour into a clean jar and refrigerate.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan wraps


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If you’re out there looking for something healthy, mouthwatering and vegan with the ability to inoculate thy system with wholesome nutrition, healthy crunch and that which is choke full of so much goodness that you’d almost feel sick with health, except you won’t because healthy food makes no one sick and it’s time we embraced that fact, then this is the dish for you.

Also, as rare as it might be, often times nourishing food turns out to be just that much better than almost all the bad stuff that tastes divinely delicious, and this vegan wrap is the alpha and the omega of health and taste; alive here to work as a fantastic breakfast, packed lunch, picnic food or just a regular meal for a regular night, except it’s so damn tasty that it makes a very ordinary day into a stellar one, or at least till the time you’re eating this.

What’s more this recipe actually has two recipes, so that’s like a bonus, and one can’t have enough bonuses..so here we go.

 

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These might look like a lot of usual suspects, but that’s only because we’re going to be making hummus from scratch, and not just any ol’ hummus but a roasted red pepper one, and here’s a recipe for a regular hummus and there’s a detailed ‘how to‘ on roasting red peppers as well, which you can find here.

 

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A bit of roasting action first, ensuring the pepper is nicely charred and softened

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after which we put it in a bowl because it needs to cool down and become easier to peel.

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cover securely to trap in the heat, that helps create moisture and loosen the skin and make it all sorts of juicy for at least 10-15 minutes

 

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After which time you can easily peel off the skin, not too fastidiously though

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a few charred bits still sticking to the skin only help impart a more smoky flavour to the hummus.

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get rid of the seeds and guts until only the juicy part of the skin remains.

 

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Now with the hummus. In a blender, or processor tip in the cooked chickpeas.

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and a couple cloves of garlic. I forgot to put them in the ingredients picture.

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add in the roasted red pepper

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tahini paste

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cumin powder

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salt

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olive oil

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and finally lime juice.

 

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blend or process into a paste like consistency

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something like this, or finer if you please. It should be easy to spread.

 

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Now a bit of chopping and here’s some onion in its very own shot because I forgot to include it in the ingredients picture

 

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here we have our veggies chopped. A bunch of mushrooms, half a tomato, half a capsicum and our lovely onion of course.

 

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cook onions and capsicum on a smoking hot pan with a bit of oil.

 

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I like using tongs for this particular step, because it’s easy and makes you look very efficient.

 

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once it begins to soften a bit, add a small pinch of salt.

 

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and keep cooking on high heat until it’s sweetly caramelized.

 

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remove veggies on a separate plate

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and in with the mushrooms. There’s a rogue capsicum in there was well.

 

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cook until softened and caramelized, like so.

 

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all needs remain is a bit of assembly work.

 

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Drape the wrap with vulgar amounts of hummus. Don’t be stingy with this spread. It’s delicious, it’s full of proteins and it’s the flavour base to our wrap.

 

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Begin by layering on 1/3rd part of the wrap so it’s easy to roll. First with the caramelized capsicum and onions.

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then mushrooms

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and finally the tomatoes.

 

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Roll ’em up.

 

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serve am as is, or if you feel fancy then add some gorgeous crispy baked potatoes on the side.



Vegan Wraps

Ingredients

For hummus

Cooked chickpeas: 200g (1cup)

Tahini: 40g (1/4 cup)

Red pepper: 1 in nos

Garlic cloves: 2 small

Salt: 1/2 tsp

Cumin powder: 1 tsp

Lime juice: 1 tsp

Olive oil: 1 tbsp

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For wraps

Whole Wheat wraps: 2 in nos

Onion: 1 medium sized

Capsicum : 1 medium size

Tomato: 1 small

Mushrooms: 8-10 small button mushrooms

Salt: a pinch

Oil: 2 tsp


Recipe instructions for Hummus: 

Roast red pepper on high flame, until all sides are charred and blackened. Cover and let rest for 10-15 minutes for the skin to loosen, after which gently peel away the charred skin and remove seeds.

Add all the hummus ingredients with the roasted red pepper in a blender or food processor and pulse until a thick paste is formed.

For the wraps

Thinly slice vegetables and de seed tomatoes.

Heat oil on high flame until smoking and add the sliced capsicum and onions with a pinch of salt until sweetly caramelized. Keep tossing to keep from burning.

Remove to a plate once cooked, and in the same pan add in sliced mushrooms and cook until browned and soft.

To form the wraps, spread hummus generously on whole wheat wrap and begin layering the vegetables on 1/3rd side without heaping on too high so as to enable easy rolling of the wrap.

Ejoy!