Homemade beans on toast

Homemade beans on toast

“Beanz Meanz Heinz” The phrase was created by advertising executive Maurice Drake and went on to become one of the best-known advertising slogans in the United Kingdom. Drake later said the slogan was “written over two pints of beer in “The Victoria” a pub in Mornington Crescent, England. I have to admit I was brought up on Heinz beans on toast as a kid-yes my mother was a fantastic cook and we always had a lovely home cooked meal each night after school. But the one essential was always there to fall back on was “a can of Heinz baked beans” in the pantry. If we were left to fend for ourselves over the weekend (while my mam sat for hours with her sewing machine making pillow case covers to make extra cash) my brother Michael and sister Julie would open a can each, warm the beans through in a pot on the stove, toast some white bread and savor a piping hot lunch of beans on toast.

Even in my early days a chef, it’s amazing how you would work all day in a kitchen preparing beautiful fresh food, but at the end of the shift you looked forward to opening a can of beans and eating them straight from the can or making a big breakfast (at 11pm at night) or even having them on toasted bread. For the past 20 years my focus has been more on nutrition and using fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains and yes beans to improve not only my health but my family. Actually I can’t even remember the last time ate a can of Heinz baked beans, but when I get nostalgic, I still have beans on toast every now and again. Follow along this recipe and make your own version of this amazing food.

 Homemade beans on toast

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 onion, peeled and sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

8 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon maple syrup

2 cups mixed beans (black beans, chickpeas, butter beans or red kidney beans)

4 slices whole wheat bread

4 thin slices of Saint-André cheese

1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves

Sea salt

Black pepper

How to make:

Take a small saucepan and add the oil, place over a medium heat on the stove, then add the sliced onions, cook for 10 minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes, vinegar, maple syrup and simmer gently for 5 mins and season to taste. Add the beans and allow to-warm through, approx. 2 minutes.

Turn on the grill and toast the slices of bread, when toasted add even amounts of the beams and tomato sauce, and then dot the Saint-Andre cheese on top. Place back under the grill and cook until the cheese is bubbling.

Remove from the grill and sprinkle the oregano over just before serving with an extra pinch of black pepper.

 

Italian-style breakfast muffins

Italian-style breakfast muffins

I normally eat muesli or have a freshly made smoothie for breakfast Monday through Friday, but on the weekends I change things up a little. I love wandering the farmers markets of North Carolina on a Saturday morning, with a cup of coffee in one hand a freshly made warm muffin in the other; it’s a great way to feel energized for the start of a fun weekend.  After I get back and have time on my hands I might make sweet potato pancakes, a big breakfast (that the boys love) or sometimes I’ll make these herby little muffins that taste wonderful and smell divine. They only take about 10 minutes to prepare and around 30 minutes to bake in the oven, then you have a warm comforting breakfast for you and the kids, but you can always take them with you if you’re out and about, making the most of the weekend.

When you’re adding ingredients like feta cheese, roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes, sprinkled with freshly chopped oregano and parsley you know you’re in for a tasty treat, so spice up your weekend and try these easy to make healthy muffins.

Italian-style breakfast muffins

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 cup self-rising flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium egg

½ cup almond milk or semi-skimmed milk

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

½ cup roasted peppers from a jar, plus 1 teaspoon of oil from the jar

½ cup cherry tomatoes cut into quarters, keeping 6 quarters for decoration

1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano

Line a 6 deep-hole muffin tray with cases and pre-heat oven to 360’F

How to make:

Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sea salt into a large bowl, then make a well in the middle and stir in the milk and egg, until just combined.

Stir in the feta, peppers, oil, tomatoes and herbs, be careful not to over mix the batter, mix it so the ingredients are just combined.

Divide the mixture evenly among the cases and top each with a slice of tomato. Then pop the tray into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the tray from the oven and cool slightly on a wire rack, then serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of Greek yogurt, if liked.

Kumat Salad

Kumat Salad

Kamut (pronounced ka-moot) is a trademarked name given to khorasan wheat, thought to be the cousin of durum wheat as they both belong to the Triticum turgidum family. Kamut has a rich and buttery flavor, it’s easy for the body to digest, and very similar to bulgar wheat as it has more proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and amino acids than common wheat. It also has a clear advantage compared to modern wheat because it contains up to 40 percent more protein, is richer in zinc, magnesium and selenium as well as many polyphenols and fatty acids. You could say it’s a superfood, easy to cook and cheap and full of nutrition. To be honest I use kamut 2 to 3 times a week instead of brown rice or whole wheat pasta, I just love the mouth feel of this great product, so add some strawberries infused with balsamic and brown sugar, freshly chopped herbs and top with creamy goat cheese and crispy leeks. It’s a wonderful recipe my dear – and its healthy!!!!

Additional information – Kamut is an excellent crop for organic farming because it produces high-quality wheat without the need for artificial fertilizers or pesticides — this is because the crop has a high tolerance for diverse organic conditions, and similar to other cereals, it yields well.

Kumat salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups kamut

4 cups low in sodium vegetable stock

2 cups strawberries, hauled and cut into quarters

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 leek, washed and cut into thin strips (optional)

1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil

1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint

3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup goats cheese, crumbled

How to cook:

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat on the stove, add kamut and stock, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed and the kamut is tender. Remove the pan from the stove, and allow the kamut to cool.

Place the strawberries in a small bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with brown sugar, and allow to macerate for at least 15 minutes while the kamut cools.

Take a frying pan and place on a medium to high heat, pour in the oil, when hot cook the strips of leek in batches until crispy, remove and place on dish paper to absorb the oil.

To assemble, take a large salad bowl, spoon in the cold kamut, stir in the chopped herbs, oil, and cheese, scatter over the strawberries and top with the crispy leeks.

 

My 100th recipe welcomes in 2018 – Honey you got the yogurt?


Honey you got the yogurt?

The first time I had Greek yogurt was on vacation on the island of Crete the largest Greek island, located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea. This is going back some 30 years living in the UK, a small island compared to the rest of Europe, but since it was the hub for international travel, it made getting around the globe pretty easy from Heathrow airport.

In my twenties I had itchy feet to travel to Europe to live and taste firsthand the variety of cuisines from France, Spain, Italy and of course Greece to immerse myself in the culture of countries whose cuisine had inspired so many great restaurants around the world. In the 80’s and 90’s, French cuisine still dominated the industry, and young chefs fought for positions in Paris and Lyon to work under the master chefs. For me the next best thing was to travel and spend the next few years on vacation eating my way around a particular area, then choosing other places to broaden my horizons. For my mates it was the beer and girls, the sea, sand and sex vacation, for me it was the culture and the food (don’t get me wrong beer and girls still played a part – believe me).

What excited me the most was to taste my way around a new foreign city or town, sample the local produce, cheese, wine, cured meats, and baked goods. This opened my eyes to a real education you could only get by packing your bags and traveling to a new destination. Meeting the people of that region, being part of their lives for an hour or a day, living in their shoes and absorbing as much information as possible, enlightened my life once I got back home and relived the experiences in my mind, over and over again. Creating new and inventive dishes that one could try on the restaurant menu, giving customers the chance to experience your vacation without leaving the restaurant, but who knows inspiring  them to take the opportunity to fly somewhere new and experience the real thing. To me education is travel and always will be – I’m so pleased I have the travel bug and continue to travel through work and also pleasure, my never-ending bucket list just keeps getting longer with new and interesting places to visit.

So try this yogurt and honey recipe and see if it inspires you to pack your bags and head to Grete, Greece or any of the European counties that are busting with history, fabulous people, food and culture in 2018, Happy New here’s to the best year ever!!!! Travel wise travel safe and enjoy LIFE!!!!

Honey yogurt

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups of mixed fresh fruit, figs, grapes, apples, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, melon, strawberries – your choice

4 mint leaves chopped

2 cups low if fat Greek yogurt

4 tablespoons local honey with honey comb

2 tablespoon pistachio nuts, crushed

How to make:

Take four to go cups or glass bowls, add the fruit, and then scatter over the chopped mint leaves, spoon in equal amounts of yogurt over the fruit. Drizzle with the local honey then top with a small piece of honey comb and crushed pistachio nuts – enjoy!!!!

Sweet potato pancakes

Sweet potato pancakes

Sweet or savory….How do you like your pancakes? Well, try this sweet potato pancake recipe and you get to have both for the price of one. Yes you can have your cake and eat it too!!!! It’s a savory pancake but by adding sweet potatoes it gives a sweet twist to your breakfast, lunch or brunch. Living in North Carolina we get the best produce from our local farmers, with sweet potatoes being top of the list. Fun Fact- remember the darker the color of any vegetable the more nutrition packed that vegetable or fruit will be, and that means more vitamins, more minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that your body needs to stay healthy, especially this time of year with all the bugs going around. So eat yourself healthy with this delicious morning treat – enjoy!!!!

Sweet potato pancakes

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 eggs

1 cup almond milk or whole milk

½ cup self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup feta cheese, grated

Olive oil spray

4 cups kale, washed

How to make:

Heat oven to 280’f.

Place the diced sweet potatoes into a large bowl, add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and gently toss to coat, season, then spread onto a sheet pan and roast for 20-25 mins or until golden brown and tender, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Reserve one-third of the sweet potatoes.

Place the remaining sweet potato into a blender along with 1 egg, the milk, flour, baking powder and ¼ cup of feta cheese, then blender until you a have smooth batter.

Spray a large frying pan with olive oil and place over a medium high heat.

Using ¼ cup, per pancake, ladle the batter into the pan, cook in batches until golden brown on both sides.

Keep warm in a low oven.

When you have finished cooking the pancakes, add the kale to the pan and allow the kale to wilt with the heat of the pan, stir until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Poach the remaining four eggs for 3 minutes in simmering water.

To serve, pile 2-3 pancakes on a plate and top with some kale, an egg and the remaining feta cheese, finish with the remaining roasted pieces of sweet potatoes, enjoy!!!!

Gluten-Free Banana Bread


Gluten-Free Banana Bread

One loaf

I can’t remember a day that I didn’t eat a banana. Did you know it’s actually the number one selling fruit in America-kids love them, parents love them, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy biting into the soft creamy texture of that fruit. I’m sure some people don’t like them, but for me a day without eating a banana would be like a day not brushing my teeth. It seems to be part of my daily routine. So I’m always looking for new recipes to try with bananas, especially the ones that get a little over ripe.

I have the perfect job working with food every single day. A big plus is that my job involves developing recipes, and it’s pretty easy to come up with creative ways to use certain ingredients. So, here we go with banana bread, yep I’m sure there are 100’s of banana bread recipes on the web, so there is nothing new here, but this recipe is a gluten free with the added bonus of almond butter, pecan nuts and raisins to add texture moisture and flavor. So, if your craving a slice of deliciousness give this recipe a try! You won’t be disappointed – it’s naughty but nice – enjoy!!!!

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

One loaf

Ingredients:

3 medium very ripe bananas, peeled

3 large eggs

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (certified gluten free)

½ cup almond butter

½ cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°f and line a 2lb bread pan with parchment paper.

Place the bananas, eggs, oats, almond butter, maple syrup, baking soda, vanilla, and salt into a blender. Then blend until you have a smooth batter, about 1 minute. Turn off the machine and fold the pecans and raisins into the mixture.

Spoon the batter into prepared pan and bake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, if you can’t wait, slice while still warm and enjoy.

 

Potato cakes with leek and parsnip with a fried egg on top

Potato cakes with leek and parsnip with a fried egg on top

Potatoes and leeks are a vegetable staple of any European diet. In fact the humble leek (the original national emblem of Wales) is cited as the symbol of Wales in William Shakespeare’s Henry V. Historical evidence also exists that the Tudor dynasty issued leeks to be worn by their guards on March 1st, known as St. David’s Day in honor of the patron saint of Wales. Leek and potato soup is a favorite of the boys, but my all-time favorite combination is a leek and potato cake, finished with a crispy fried egg on top.

The soft texture of the cake, infused with a small amount of parsnip and shredded leek, make a winning combination in any chef’s arsenal of recipes, quickly fry an egg in hot oil until crispy yet the yolk still nice and runny finish this dish to perfection. Enjoy these well matched basic ingredients to turn an ordinary night into a spectacular one.

Potato cakes with leek and parsnip with a fried egg on top

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 medium size potatoes, peeled and diced

1 parsnip, peeled and diced washed and grated

1 leek, washed and finely diced (white of leek)

1 tablespoon whole wheat flour

3 teaspoons of vegetable oil

How to make:

Take a medium size saucepan and fill half way with water, add the diced potatoes and parsnip, place on the stove, turn on the heat, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Remove the pan from the stove and drain off the water, mash the potatoes and parsnips together with a fork, allow to cool.

Fry the leeks in 1 teaspoon of oil until cooked about 3 minutes, drain off the oil and fold the leeks into the warm potato mixture along with the flour, then divide the mixture into 4 large pieces or 8 smaller equal size pieces then flatten into a patty-sized cake.

Heat the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan.

Fry the potato cakes in two batches for 4-5 minutes or until nicely browned and crusty.

Using a fish slice be very careful when you flip each cake over, cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

I like to serve mine with a fried egg and a salad of arugula tossed in a little olive oil, seasoned with freshly ground black pepper.

Fresh crab with lime Chili vinaigrette on toasted avocado bread

Fresh crab with lime Chili vinaigrette on toasted avocado bread

I have a love and passion for all things from the sea. Lobster, mussels, clams, halibut and Alaskan wild salmon name just a few, but my all-time favorite is crab!!! You just can’t beat a fresh crab, with firm but creamy flesh, seasoned very simply with lime juice, freshly chopped parsley or to add a little heat cilantro or Thai red chili, is just divine. For this dish I’ve added a very healthy fat in avocado, on top of some freshly baked artisan bread from my local baker here in Charlotte. So here you have a complete meal that is simple to prepare, literally takes minutes to knock up, and looks and smells fabulous.  I’m sure you’re going to enjoy every bite and mouthful.

With its diverse range of nutrients, including copper, vitamin B2, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids, crab is a wonderful food for cognition and the activity of your nervous system. By strengthening myelin and protecting the nervous system, while also reducing inflammation and plaque in neural pathways of your body. If you are at high risk for osteoporosis or are getting older and want to guarantee an active lifestyle in the future, high-phosphorus foods like crab are very important to a healthy diet.

I’m not a big meat eater anymore, but I still have fish or shellfish once or twice a week. So when I have the opportunity to have something sooooo special as crab, I savor the time making it and enjoying it with a chilled glass of buttery Chardonnay or Pinot Gris to a smooth dry Riesling. Enjoy!!!! Cheers!!!!

Fresh crab with lime vinaigrette on toasted avocado bread

Serves 4

Ingredients;

1 lime, juice and zest of

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

1lb fresh crab meat

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon Thai chili sauce or 1 minced Thai red chili pepper

1 ripe avocado, stone removed, flesh diced

4 slices of artisan whole wheat bread, toasted

How to make:

Take a medium size bowl and whisk together the lime juice, zest and herbs.

Then add the crab meat, season to your liking with salt, pepper (if needed) and chili sauce then lightly combine everything together, add the diced avocado and stir once more to coat.

Pile even amounts of the crab mixture on the four slices of warm toasted bread, then serve and enjoy.

 

Popcorn quinoa with yogurt, pomegranate, figs and pecans

Popcorn quinoa with yogurt, pomegranate, figs and pecans

What is quinoa (pronounced “keenwah”)? While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain (similar to rice, wheat and Kamut), it is actually a seed that is harvested from a species of a plant called goosefoot. It is officially part of a group of pseudocereals, making it neither a cereal nor a grain, but more closely related to spinach and beets that can be prepared just like whole grains. Try a quinoa salad recipe, or serve a vegetable stir-fry over cooked quinoa instead of rice. Or, try my simple breakfast idea below instead of your normal oatmeal. Very lightly toasted in a pan to give popcorn like texture, added to yogurt, a sprinkle of pecans, pomegranate seeds and freshly picked North Carolina figs you have a fabulous start to you day!!! Smile and enjoy the deliciousness of good food.

A tip from the John Hopkins Medical Center: Help your heart by going meatless one day a week, which will reduce your saturated fat intake by 15%. Instead of meat try legumes, nuts, and guess what “quinoa” as a healthy nonmeat protein source.

Popcorn quinoa with yogurt, pomegranate, figs and pecans

Serves 4

Ingredients:

½ cup raw pecans

½ cup raw quinoa, white and red

2 cups Greek yogurt

4 figs each cut in half

½ cup pomegranate seeds

4 tsp honey (optional)

How to make:

Pre-heat the oven to 350’F.

Place the pecans on a sheet pan and pop into the oven, roast for five to eight minutes or until crisp and aromatic, remove from the oven and allow to cool, then roughly chop.

Place the quinoa into a saucepan, place on the lid. Place the pan onto the stove over a medium heat; allow the quinoa to pop just like popcorn. Shake the pan to ensure even cooking and not to burn the quinoa. Remove the pan from the stove when the popping sound stops. Leave to cool.

Divide the yoghurt between four breakfast bowls.

Sprinkle over the puffed quinoa, pecans, pomegranate seeds, sliced figs and finish with a swirl of honey if needed.

Plum pudding Good Morning Muesli

Plum pudding Good Morning Muesli

Breakfast, considered the most important meal of the day, can become boring over time. You know how it is, rushing to get the kids dropped off at school and getting to work on time during the week. Missing breakfast can give you low blood sugar which can lead to feeling tired as the morning goes on.  Of course you can turn to coffee for a pick me up, but it’s still not the same as having a nutritious breakfast to keep you on track with meetings or the daily routine of work. I try to vary my breakfast by adding different ingredients to my staples.  My staples are normally either a smoothie of fresh vegetables and fruits to homemade muesli or porridge oats to a quick toasted sandwich with hummus, poached egg and roasted veggies. As with many foods we eat, they can fall out of favor as health claims and trends come and go, but not with plain old rolled oats, which have been a powerhouse of serious nutrition and have been for generations.

This recipe is so-so simple! You make it the day before, let it rest and absorb the flavors of the apple, ginger and cinnamon overnight. Finish it off with slices of plum, apple, Greek yogurt, pistachio nuts and honey then enjoy.

If for some reason you’re following a gluten free diet, try looking for oats that are certified gluten free. Actually oats don’t contain gluten, but they can be tainted with gluten when they are being processed in the factory or growing in the fields according the Whole Grains Council.

Plum pudding Good Morning Muesli

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned porridge oats

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated ginger

2 cups fresh apple juice

2 apples, 1 red, 1 green, washed, then grate 1 apple and cut the other into thin strips

2 plums, stones removed, 1 cut into small cubes, one cut into thin into slices

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon crushed pistachio nuts

1 tablespoon honey

How to make:

Place the porridge oats in a medium size mixing bowl and stir in the spices, apple juice and grated apple.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When ready to serve, remove and discard the plastic, stir in the cubed pieces of plum into the muesli.

Divide the muesli among four breakfast bowls and top with the slices of plum, apple, yogurt, crushed pistachio nuts and a drizzle of honey, enjoy