Wednesday 25 March 2015

Courgette and matcha cake

You know how I like to celebrate the small stuff. Just handing in a good piece of work is cause for celebration in my eyes. You can't control the outcome of any situation but you can commit to it and do your best. When you feel like you've done that why not celebrate in some small way, like opening a bottle of prosecco or baking a cake? Or both. This courgette-matcha cake was inspired by the one in Nigella's book but I changed so much about the recipe that I can't say it's the same cake anymore. Hers didn't have matcha in it for a start. I love adding matcha powder to sweets, it automatically makes everything taste Japanese.
As you can see, I don't like to skimp on the icing. I also added nutmeg, which works with the flavour of courgettes; and I added butter, because, come on, a cake needs butter! Then of course I used my special method of cooking the cake, where I melt the butter on the hob, add sugar, freshly grated nutmeg, then courgettes, and eventually beat the flour and eggs in. You turn the hob off once the butter and sugar have melted together, so you're not actually cooking the cake but it feels like you are. Finally, you add 2 teaspoons match powder, the baking soda and cream of tartar. Then you put it in a greased tin and bake for half an hour at 180 degrees C. Once it's cooled you cover it with your pistachio green icing - icing sugar and Philadelphia blended together with a teaspoon of matcha powder and the juice of half a lime. For main course we ate venison steaks in fig sauce. I just made the recipe up but it was divine, so I will share it with you in the coming future. Venison feels like an extremely extravagant thing to eat for lunch, but I will need to make them during the day, so I can take a decent photo for you. How I suffer for my art.


150g butter
100g raw cane sugar
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 courgettes, grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 teaspoons matcha powder
250gr Philadelphia cream cheese
Half a lime
75g icing sugar

Friday 20 March 2015

Egyptian breakfast with eggs, dates and tahini

The first ever post on this blog was about breakfasts, complete with my 29 year old self's inquisitive attitude and some rather gross-looking pictures of food. Breakfast is still an obbession of mine, but that's one of the few things that has remained constant. Over the past 5 years I have met many great breakfasts: these seedy, turmeric oats have been a firm favourite of late; there has also been "placki" with roast cherry tomatoes; quinoa; congee rice soups with butternut squash and radish and spinach and egg, not to forget fruit-oat pots. But the reason that I am blogging about this today is because there is a new breakfast in town! This Egyptian breakfast was introduced to me by my love and has made me fall in love with Tahini once more (for many years I couldn't bear the sight of it, but that's another story).
That's scrambled eggs up there, with dates! Yes, sweet scrambled eggs, with tahini and mini pitta bread on the side (just because they're cute). You melt some butter on a frying pan and fry the chopped (and pitted) dates first for a couple of minutes, before cracking the eggs in. The eggs don't need any milk. Stir the eggs while they're frying on a low heat, season with salt and white pepper, and serve. Simple. Delicious. Reasonably healthy breakfast.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Purple carrot celeriac salad with sprouts and the curse of washing up

Washing up feels like my curse. I cook a lot therefore there always seems to be a pile of dirty dishes waiting for me. One day I will have a dishwasher - this is the dream. Until that day comes I am forced to deal with it, unhappily. A couple of days ago I read this post on Zen Habits and it has inspired me to try to change the way I think about washing up. Perhaps I'm being lazy, perhaps it's too easy to think of washing up as a massive chore and myself as a modern-day Sisyphus doing the same action over and over again. For now, washing up is a necessary part of life for me, so perhaps I can learn something from it? I am more than happy to entertain these notions, yet I've noticed no change so far in how I feel about it. Today, the pile of washing up made me feel positively depressed. Still, I love to cook. In this book I'm reading Desikachar states that yoga teaches us that there is a positive and negative side to everything. Therefore, I must bear my burden with grace. This purple carrot celeriac salad was delicious, yet caused a massive purple mess and my hands looked bruised after peeling it. So much so that it gave me an idea for next year's Halloween costume. You can easily replace it with a normal carrot, I just wanted to see if there was any difference in taste (not much, it was a bit sweeter)
We ate it with roasted yellow courgettes with roast pumpkin oil and pumpkin seeds, black quinoa and frying halloumi cheese. Just grate the carrot and celeriac very finely, combine with the sprouts (I used a mixture of sprouts) and the sauce (soured cream and mayonnaise one-to-one with a little bit of mild olive oil). Season with salt, white pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg and mix really well. This should chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hour, to allow it to "bite together" as we say in Poland.


Half a celeriac
Large carrot
Mixed sprouts
100ml soured cream
100ml mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and white pepper to taste

Sunday 15 March 2015

Herrings in Soured Cream with Apple

The human condition is a strange one. The closer we get to what we want the more anxious we become. The stakes get higher as we realise that we have more to loose than before. Recently, I have had to remind myself constantly to enjoy the present moment. That despite the pressure, I'm actually spending time doing what I love to do. Writing, cooking, eating... Being able to do this full time is a precious gift and a blessing. And this is the sort of fresh-tasting Polish-style stuff I've been making and eating in the past couple of weeks.
That up there is Rye Pumpkin-seed Sourdough bread, a Beetroot and Potato Salad with Horseradish, Dill and Soured Cream and the famous Herrings in Soured Cream. If you haven't eaten herrings before, then you should try them because they are one of the few sustainable fish left. And once you fall in love with the humble herring, it will grow and grow on you. Here, their saltiness is balanced out by sweet apple. Once you have peeled and chopped the apple, squeeze the lemon over it to stop it from browning while prepping the other ingredients. Then just mix everything together and refrigerate for half an hour before eating with either rye bread or new potatoes.


Matjas Herrings in Oil, chopped
150ml soured cream
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise 
1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill
1 Apple, peeled and chopped
2 gherkins, chopped into cubes
1 shallot, chopped finely

Sunday 8 March 2015

Sugar and gluten free yet delicious: lime tarts

"I've never used an avocado like this before". That's what I was thinking last night, when making the filling for these tarts. They've been pinned on my Pinterest Food board for months, because I love the way they look, yet the avocado filling stopped me from proceeding. The original recipe calls for just avocado, lime, honey and stevia. I changed this to avocado, lime, mascapone, vanilla and agave. So they're not dairy-free anymore, but all the more delicious for it. 
The original crust has also been altered. There's no shredded coconut (the coconut flavour comes from the coconut oil only so it's very subtle),  but there are pecans and ground almonds as well as walnuts. The combination of these nuts with the dates is a happy one. It gave me an idea for a sugar-free, chocolate truffle. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, this is how you make these: blitz all the base ingredients in the food processor, then put them all in a bowl and squish them all together with your hands. Grease a muffin tin with coconut oil and press the base into each bit. Blitz the filling ingredients and put the resulting, creamy filling on top. Finish off with a piece of kiwi and pop into the freezer for 1 hour, then you can keep these in the fridge.

Ingredients (makes 10)

200g dates
50g pecans
50g walnuts
50g ground almonds
1 tablespoon coconut oil 
1 1/2 avocados 
100g mascapone
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla essence
Juice of 2 limes
Zest of 1 unwaxed lime
5 tablespoons agave nectar

Thursday 5 March 2015

Superfood breakfast or how to make Nigella seeds palatable

The short answer to the question posed is: by adding a lot of other stuff. I first tried Nigella seeds about 5 days ago. I was handed a Nigella seed flapjack by a certain curious confectioner. It was an unusual taste that I fell in... interest with immediately. I was going to say "in love" but it was more of a fascination really. My friend told me that they were a bit of a challenge to work with and he was not lying. They are really, really bitter. But so, so good for you.  They say the only thing Nigella seeds can't cure is death.
Once you balance out their bitterness with lots of honey and a bit of salt, they actually taste quite nice. I pounded them first with a pestle and mortar then used the method of boiling the milk first then adding all the ingredients and allowing them to fuse together and cool overnight in the fridge. This also preserves all their beneficial qualities. I must say that on eating that breakfast you see up there, I was... Invigorated. Truly. I realised it whilst packed into the tube train like a sardine, and I though "I feel pretty good considering my circumstances". I can't say for sure though if it was the Nigella seeds, or the red maca or maybe even the large dose of turmeric.


500ml almond milk
8 tablespoons of oats
2 tablespoons of pounded Nigella seeds
2 tablespoons white chia seeds
2 tablespoons red maca powder
1 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons raw honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt