Monday, 28 July 2014

Apricot and Goji Berry Balls

apricot and goji berry balls


These Apricot and Goji Berry Balls follow on from my recent recipe for Raw Coconut Fudge. Did you see it? Turns out it wasn't technically raw as desiccated coconut has been treated, but you got the idea.

It has been phenomenally popular though and has inspired me to come up with more raw type baking ideas. Raw baking seems to be taking off, and you know me, anything to jump on a bandwagon! Raw ‘bakes’ are vegan friendly plus they are healthier. No refined ingredients, just natural stuff. For me that’s good as I have just been in London for a few days and over-indulged. A little clean-eating will do me no harm.

dried apricots, goji berries, cashews and coconut blended


Actually, I made this recipe before we went down to London. I’ve had it on the back burner – waiting for you all to see. It’s made in my fantastic Optimum 9400 blender, from the people at Froothie.
This blender is almost indestructible. As I have said to you before, it can crush paving stones. Thanks to its powerful motor (up to 48,000 rpm) and six stainless steel blades.



And did you know that the jug is made from Eastman Tritan copolyester - which probably doesn’t mean anything to you. But it is non-toxic and there is video evidence of it online being run over by a truck. The jug did not break at all! So you can be rest assured that it will not crack, or explode on you.

This ‘bake’ is made from only a few ingredients and the resultant treat is absolutely delicious. I combined cashews, soft dried apricots, goji berries and desiccated coconut. Vanilla extract is optional. This recipe can be made to suit true raw cooking if you get the correct ingredients.

The Optimum 9400 took no time at all to blend these into a large ball, ready to be separated into smaller balls of bliss. I used the tamperer, which comes with the blender, to make sure everything came into contact with the blades.

The colour of the mix is a gorgeous orange, with flecks of fiery red throughout, from the goji berries.

They almost have the texture of cookie dough and taste sweet, fruity and wholesome. I initially made the balls into flat discs and was going to freeze them, so they could be snacked on like cookies. You could do this if you prefer.




But in ball-form they are softer, slightly sticky, indulgence. Here’s how I made them.



print recipe

Raw Apricot and Goji Berry Balls
Vegan friendly little treats of apricot, goji berry, coconut and cashews. Little balls of heaven.
Ingredients
  • 200 grams soft, dried apricots
  • 250 grams raw cashew nuts
  • 25 grams desiccated coconut
  • 25 grams goji berries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Instructions
Add the cashew nuts to the blender and blitz until they resemble fine meal. Add the other ingredients and blend until the mixture turns into a solid mass and comes away from the side of the jug. 

Scoop out balls of the mix and with your hands, roll into bite size balls (about 1 tablespoon). 

Chill in the fridge until ready to eat.

Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 dozen balls approx.


dried apricots, goji berries, cashews and coconut blended

Disclosure Statement: I received the Optimum 9400 free to use. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Chocolate Cinnamon Cranberry Porridge



Another breakfast recipe for you, although this Chocolate, Cinnamon and Cranberry Porridge is just a wee bit healthier than the Elvis MacMuffin breakfast sandwich I brought you recently.

In fact this porridge, triple C porridge I am going to call it, hits the sweet spot, but has mostly natural ingredients.



I love porridge. I could eat it every day of the week if I had time. Sadly I only eat it on weekends when work isn’t beckoning. I know I could use instant porridge options, but they don’t quite do it for me.

I use almond milk in mine and drizzle with some light pancake syrup. This triple C variety though is even better than that. It’s sweet, spicy with the cinnamon and a bit tangy from the dried cranberries. Make sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder (or cacao if you have it).

It’s not exactly re-inventing the wheel but when I thought of adding cocoa to porridge I realised what a treat it would be.



print recipe

Chocolate Cinnamon Cranberry Porridge
A healthy breakfast of porridge oats, sweetened with cocoa, cinnamon and dried cranberries
Ingredients
  • 40 grams porridge oats
  • 250 ml almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • handful dried cranberries
  • to taste agave nectar
Instructions
Place the oats in a saucepan and cover with the milk. Add the cocoa and cinnamon and a handful of cranberries. Cook over a low heat, stirring continuously, until the porridge begins to boil. Let it simmer for a minute or two until it thickens. 

 Transfer to the serving bowls and scatter with some more dried cranberries.

Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 small bowls





It’s simple and delicious – and healthy! A great way to start your day.


Monday, 21 July 2014

Elvis Breakfast Sandwiches

I so wanted to call these breakfast sandwiches ‘Elvis’ McMuffins, but I think copyright might not have been on my side there.



I am doing a couple of breakfast recipes this week. No idea why, but it does happen to be my favourite meal of the day. Whenever we go on holiday, we never take breakfast in our hotel. I love the adventure of going out to try new places for breaking fast.

It can vary widely, depending on which country you are in. From a greasy fry-up – to waffles and maple syrup, I love how diverse the first meal of the day can be.

Personally, and you will not be shocked at this, but I prefer a sweet breakfast. Give me a stack of pancakes over a plate of sausages and fried bread any day.

But I decided to try and combine the two, inspired in part by the fast food chain's McMuffins and the sweet/savoury combo which reportedly was a favourite of Elvis Presley – the Banana, Peanut Butter and Bacon sarnie!



English Muffins are so overlooked when it comes to breakfast, unless of course you are buying food to go. Until I made this I can honestly say I have never bought them before. So I ventured into the supermarket and purchased some, plus all the fixings for these tremendous Elvis Breakfast Sandwiches (or Macky D Muffins)!

I don’t fry my bacon, but cover it with brown sugar and pepper and pop it in the oven to crisp up. So easy and less mess when you cover the tray underneath with a spot of foil or greaseproof paper.

Yield: 4 Breakfast Sandwiches

Ingredients:
6 rashers of unsmoked bacon
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
Black Pepper
1 -2 bananas
Smooth Peanut Butter (I use reduced fat)
4 English Muffins

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a grill pan. Place the bacon on the grill pan, sprinkle with the sugar and grind some black pepper over the top.



Pop into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The edges will turn crispy and the sugar will have melted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool whilst you slice up the bananas and toast the split muffins.



Spread each half of the muffins with peanut butter and place the bananas on one half of muffin. Tear up the bacon into pieces and place onto the other half of muffin. Bring both sides together and press the muffin down.



That’s it! It really is quite easy and delicious for a breakfast treat. The sweet meatyness of the bacon goes well with the fruitiness of the banana and nuttiness of the PB! Enjoy.


And thanks to Dundee's new Brewdog craft beer pub for giving me the red basket which the sandwiches are housed in!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Viking Direct - More Than Just Paper Clips!

When I was recently asked if I would like to review the products of a company called Viking Direct I was initially a bit confused as they are primarily office supply stockists and I am a food blogger.



But when I saw their product range – I realised that they are more than just paper clips and tippex. Although their range of office supplies is impressive, they sell school supplies, furniture, and technology including TV’s and mobile phones plus they have a fantastic cook shop.



Being a food blogger the cook shop was the area that piqued my interest. I browsed through their impressive range of tableware, crockery, cutlery. They also had bakeware, cookware and appliances.

I chose to order a Tassimo coffee machine from Viking (priced at £99) and a selection of the Tassimo discs (£5.99 per pack) that can be purchased from their ‘Eating and Drinking’ section.

I was advised that the discs would be dispatched quickly and that the machine would follow on soon. I received the discs a couple of days later after a card was put through my door saying they had been left in a shop nearby (working 9 to 5, this happens a lot with deliveries, which is fine).

I waited about a week for the Tassimo to arrive. Then I got a knock on the door from the shop owner saying she had the coffee machine and had done for a few days. But no card was put through my door on this occasion.

I have to say that the service from Viking was friendly and efficient. But the delivery company they use has let them down a tad. The machine was marked as next day delivery and was dispatched by them quickly enough. Had the delivery people put a card through my door to say it was waiting for me, everything would have been fine.

So, I recommend Viking Direct and their vast product range, but not their delivery company. I have highlighted this to the company and they are to be looking into the matter.



As for the Tassimo coffee machine – I am loving it and feeling very perky after all my coffee!

Disclosure Statement: I received the coffee machine and discs free to review the company's services. Any opinions expressed are my own.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Banana Split Smoothie

bananas, strawberries, cherries, almond milk, smoothie


Yes, a Banana Split Smoothie, but we are not talking Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper or Snorky here!

courtesy of BBC
Remember the dessert based smoothies I made back at the start of the year? There was carrot cake, black forest, lemon meringue, apple pie and hummingbird.

These were all packed full of fruit, but gave a nod and a wink to the delicious cakes they were based on.
Well, I haven’t finished with smoothies yet.

Since getting my Optimum 9400 blender from Froothie, I am seriously becoming addicted to green smoothies, packed with fruit and spinach. But, I digress, I decided to try another dessert based one.

This Banana Split Smoothie contains bananas (obviously!), strawberries and cherries like you would find in a real Banana Split. I also added some almond milk to make it a little bit creamier.

bananas, strawberries, cherries, almond milk, smoothie


The cherries were frozen black cherries, which the blender whizzed up no problem. Whatever cherries you decide to use, remember to pit them. The Optimum 9400 would take care of the stones, but the smoothie might not be quite as tasty as you might have hoped.

I used cup measurements in this recipe. For smoothies, I find volume wins over weight. But if you don’t have cup measurement, pack a measuring jug full to the 250ml mark – that is one cup.

bananas, strawberries, cherries, almond milk, smoothie


To garnish the banana split smoothie, I frothed up some more almond milk and spooned this on top to ‘kinda’ look like cream. Not necessary, and neither are the sprinkles, but if making these for kids, always an option!



print recipe

Banana Split Smoothie
A rich fruity smoothie that tastes just like a Banana Split.
Ingredients
  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup cherries
  • 1 cup almond milk
Instructions
Place all of the ingredients in the blender and whizz up until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 large glasses


Monday, 14 July 2014

Cherry Banana Mini Pies


Did you know this Wednesday is a special day? Well, aside from it being my birthday(!) July 16th also happens to be National Cherry Day.

When I was sent a cherry pitter from the good people at OXOGood Grips, I knew exactly what I wanted to make with cherries.

shortcrust pies filled with cherries and banana


A delicious pie baked with the flavour of cherries AND bananas. It’s a flavour combo I’ve been thinking of for a while. I figured the sweetness of the cherries and bananas would make for a really sweet tangy pie.

Instead of one big pie, I decided to make individual pies instead. I used a large muffin pan which housed the individual pies perfectly. And I cheated – I admit, I used shop-bought short-crust pastry. If you want to make your own, grab the recipe here. But when time is tight, I always used pre-made pastry.



I had never used a cherry pitter before but found it very easy to use. Without one pitting the 200 grams of cherries I used would have been a nightmare. But pop a cherry into the gadget and you are done in no time at all. The pitter is also good for olives too btw.



I made a thick cherry pie filling and let it cool before adding banana as I didn’t want the banana to cook down before going into the oven.




I made a cute lattice top for the pies from the pastry which let the fruit juices bubble up to reveal the flavours going on inside. Here’s how I made them.



print recipe

Cherry Banana Mini Pies
Individual shortcrust pies, filled with a thick cherry and banana fruity filling.
Ingredients
  • 1 roll Shortcrust Pastry
  • 200 grams Pitted Cherries
  • 2 medium Bananas
  • 55 grams Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh lemon Juice
  • 2 tablespoons Cornflour
  • 100 ml Water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 tablespoon Milk
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar Crystals
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 200c and grease four cups of a large muffin tin. Cut the pitted cherries into quarters and place in a large saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice, cornflour, water and almond extract. Bring the mix to the boil, stirring constantly then reduce and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile slice the banana in discs and quarter each disc. Remove the cherry mix from the heat and stir in the banana. Allow the mix to cool whilst you prepare the pie shells. Cut circles of pastry large enough to fill each muffin cup. Spoon the pie filling into each well, so that it is slightly heaping. Make the lattice topping by weaving strips of leftover pastry, the cutting out with a pastry cutter, the size of each muffin cup. Transfer the lattice top to each pie and press the top and the sides together slightly. Lastly wash the pastry tops with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar crystals. Place the pies into the oven for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before removing them from the muffin tray. Enjoy.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 mini pies

shortcrust pies filled with cherries and banana

And here are some other cherry recipes, from well-known bloggers, to get you inspired for National Cherry Day:

Kavey Eats: Homemade White Cherry Rum Liqueur
Maison Cupcake: Cherry Meringue Pie
Veggie Desserts: Black Forest Cherry Chocolate Avocado Mousse
Franglais Kitchen: Sour Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Food to Glow: Cherry Chocolate Clafoutis
The Botanical Baker: Cherry and Almond Muffins
Fab Food 4 All: Cherzipan Cake
Fuss Free Flavours: Black Cherry Syllabub



I'm entering this bake into this month's Biscuit Barrel Challenge, hosted by Laura over at I'd Much Rather Bake Than... The theme this month is In-Season Fruit, which cherries are! As these are mini pies they would fit, rather messily, into a biscuit barrel!



Disclosure Statement: I received the cherry pitter free to review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Foodies Festival Edinburgh 2014 Ticket Giveaway

Do you have any plans for the weekend 9-10 August? If not, read on!


The brilliant Foodies Festival returns to Edinburgh for the 8th year on the weekend 8 – 10 August and I am excited to be giving away 5 pairs of tickets for the event, to be used either on the Saturday or Sunday. Here's more information about the festival;


 Foodies Festival, the UK’s largest celebration of food & drink returns to Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park on the 8th, 9th and 10th August for a weekend celebration of Scotland’s finest produce, international street food, and culinary masters.
 Having started as a small event in Edinburgh eight years ago, the festival has now grown into Scotland’s food and drink event of the summer, transforming Inverleith Park into a foodie paradise with over 200 artisan producers, pop-up restaurants, premium brands and the chance to watch your favorite chefs cooking live. 


Festival Director Sue Hitchen said… “Edinburgh is where it all started for Foodies Festival, so it’s a very special event for me and our team. This year we are delighted to be the official partner of the MasterChef Dining Bus, which offers our visitors a unique onboard dining experience with the contestants and winners from the series cooking onboard and serving visitors top-notch dishes from the purpose built kitchen. “

Top chefs joining the festival this summer include MasterChef the Professionals runners-up Adam Handling and Scott Davies, Great British Menu’s Jacqueline O’Donnell of The Sisters, Mark Greenaway of Bistro Moderne, TV Chef Tony Singh, The Pompadour by Galvin Head Chef Craig Sandle, CafĂ© St Honore’s Neil Forbes and Glasgow’s The Three Sisters bakers Gillan, Nichola and Linsey, all of whom will cook their signature dishes live in the Chefs’ Theatre while explaining how home cooks can prepare the same dishes for friends and family.’


I, personally, am excited about the new Chocolate, Bake and Preserves Theatre. It’s new this year and hosts top pastry chefs, chocolatiers and bakers. There is also a Chocolate, Baking and Preserves Village where you can buy sweet treats aplenty and gadgets too.


There is so much more at the event, so be sure to check out all the information at the Foodies Festival website.

Ticket Information

2014 Foodies Festivals tickets are now available from www.foodiesfestival.com or by calling 0844 995 1111.

Tickets:
1-day adult ticket for Friday £10.00
1-day adult ticket Saturday or Sunday £12.00 (£10.00 concession)
3-day adult ticket £18.00 (£15.00 concession)
1-day VIP ticket £38.00 
(Friday VIP ticket £35)
Opening times: 10am until 6pm.



 To be in with a chance of winning a pair of adult tickets, simply leave a comment on this post, making sure to leave details of how I can contact you, if you are one of the lucky winners. The competition is open for two weeks, and closes at midnight on Saturday, 26 July. Winners will be selected by a random number generator.

The giveaway is open to UK residents only, over the age of 18.

Good luck, and I may see you there!

Disclosure Statement: I have not been paid to run this giveaway. I am receiving press passes to the event in remuneration.