July 02, 2015

Summer Smoothies

Three different summer smoothies

Throughout my pregnancy, I have really enjoyed snacking on smoothies. I have found that I can’t digest large meals very easily, and feel much better when spreading my food intake throughout the day. So for my mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, I’ve naturally opted for healthy options to nourish mine and my little babe’s body, and this is when smoothies have been the perfect partner.

Admittedly, with the weather being scorching at the moment, a cool and hydrating drink is the obvious option. Below you will find three different ideas, using beautiful summer produce. Don’t hesitate to share other favourite of yours in the comments.

Happy summer! x

Summer Smoothies - Smoothies d’été

A red smoothie in a jar in the grass

Watermelon & Strawberry Smoothie – serves 2
•4 ice cubes
•½ medium watermelon, peeled and cut into chunks
•2 handfuls strawberries, hulled
•A sprig of fresh mint leaves

1. Put the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Smoothie Pastèque-Fraise – pour 2 personnes
•4 glaçons
•½ pastèque, pelée et coupée en cubes
•Une poignée de fraises, équeutées
•Quelques feuilles de menthe fraiche

1.Mettre les ingrédients dans un blender et mixer jusqu'à l’obtention d’une texture lisse. Servir.


Smoothies in small glass bottles

Cucumber, Pineapple & Basil Smoothie – serves 2
•½ pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
•½ cucumber, cut into chunks
•A sprig of fresh basil leaves
•250ml coconut milk

1. Put the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Smoothie Concombre, Ananas et Basilic – pour 2 personnes
•½ ananas, pelé et coupé en cubes
•½ concombre, coupé en cubes
•Une poignée de feuilles de basilic fraiches
•250ml de lait de coco

1.Mettre les ingrédients dans un blender et mixer jusqu'à l’obtention d’une texture lisse. Servir.

A green smoothie in a Kilner jar

Layered Green Smoothie with Raspberries – serves 2
•2 handfuls fresh raspberries
•Juice of ½ lime
•250ml rice milk
•2 peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
•½ avocado, stoned and peeled
•1 large handful baby spinach leaves
•1tbsp hemp seeds
•1tsp spirulina (optional)

1. Place the raspberries at the bottom of each glass with a squeeze of lime juice and muddle until mashed. Place the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Carefully pour over the raspberries and serve.

Smoothie Vert et Rose – pour 2 personnes
•2 poignées de framboises
•Jus d’1/2 citron vert
•250ml de lait de riz
•2 pêches, pelées et coupées en cubes
•½ avocat, pelé, dénoyauté et coupé en cubes
•1 grosse poignée de pousses d’épinards
•1cs de graines de chanvre
•1cc de spiruline en poudre (optionnel)

1. Mettre les framboises au fond des verres avec le jus de citron et écraser les en purée. Mettre les ingrédients dans un blender et mixer jusqu'à l’obtention d’une texture lisse. Verser doucement le smoothie sur les framboises. Servir.

June 26, 2015

Growing Fresh Herbs - Toolbox

Thyme in a pot

If you’ve ever liked the idea of growing your own food but are feeling a bit intimidated by it or don’t know how to go about it, growing fresh herbs/aromatics is a good place to start. There is no need to be an accomplished gardener or to have a lot of space available; a small pot or two on a windowsill or kitchen counter is enough to start with.

Fresh Mint Plant

Why grow fresh herbs?
There are many advantages to grow your own aromatics, but number one would probably be to have a fairly constant supply at your disposal to use in your cooking. Fresh herbs are sometimes all it takes to boost the flavour of a dish, they are very commonly used in cooking and for medicine use and they come with an array of health benefits, being filled with antioxidants and nutrients. When you know that half the nutritional value of herbs is lost within 30min of harvesting, growing your own will allow you to harvest small amounts only as and when you need them. You can also make sure your herbs are grown in a totally organic and natural way, without the use of any toxic fertilisers.

Growing your own is also a money-saving option, when you think of the price tag of fresh herbs at the shop.
Finally, growing your aromatics is fun, a great way to involve children, and will allow you to reconnect with nature and where your food comes from.

Basil seedlings in a zinc pot on a windowsill

How to grow fresh herbs?

Varieties
First and foremost, you’ll need to choose which herbs you want to grow! There are many different types of aromatics available. Common ones include basil, parsley, chives, coriander, rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, mint and dill. Depending on how much space you have available, you might pick only one or two varieties or decide to have a more comprehensive choice of herbs. My advice would be to grow herbs which you tend to use regularly in your cooking, in order to prevent waste. However, do not hesitate to get off the beaten track in terms of the varieties that you pick, and your taste buds will be amazed by what nature has to offer. For instance, did you know that there are over 600 different varieties of mint in the world?  You might want to give a try to Chocolate Mint, Bergamot Mint or Arabic Mint to name only a few...

Mint in a container

Planting & Care
You can then decide whether you will grow your herbs outdoors or indoors and in open ground or in pots. Starting growing herbs in pots is often the easiest way of having fresh herbs available year round, however, they will provide less yields than outdoor gardens.

Use organic peat-free soil-based compost, and place a small layer of clay balls or small stones at the bottom of the pot, if growing in containers, to help with drainage. If you are a beginner at growing your own food, buying already grown plants will be the easiest option. You can also grow them from seeds, following the instruction on the packet for when and how to sow them, but although I have found that some plants such as basil and parsley are pretty easy to grow from seeds, other such as thyme or tarragon have proven more challenging. Garden centres are the obvious place where to go buy your plants, but it is definitely worth considering other places too, such as farmers’ markets or plant fairs, where you might be able to find locally grown plants, a much larger choice of varieties, and most importantly will be able to get precious advice from the grower as for how to care for your plants. The internet is also a good place to get organic seeds, and you might even be able to find seed-swapping websites. When buying already grown plants, dip them (up to the rim of their pot) in a bucket of water for about 10min before transferring them to their container/soil. Then, when in place, water again.

Mint in a pot

Most herb gardens do not require the use of fertilizers; however, adding a small layer or good organic compost to the soil (when growing herbs outdoors) twice a year will provide a good amount of nutrients to the plant. Check whether your plants will need to be exposed to direct sunlight or not. Water them in the morning (ideally with collected rain water), when the soil is dry.

Some herbs are perennial such as rosemary, thyme, mint, marjoram or tarragon. It can be useful to cut the plants just above soil level in the late autumn, and they will start growing again fresh shoots in the spring. Other varieties such as basil, chervil, coriander or dill are annual and will need a new plant every year.

For specific instructions on growing different varieties of herbs, do not hesitate to refer to a gardening book or to get advice from an experienced gardener, as each plant has got specific needs.

Let me know if you grow your own herbs or have any tips to share and happy gardening!

Basil in a zinc pot

June 12, 2015

Black Cherry Scones

A circular scone cake, sliced

Going for a wander or a drive in the inland Basque Country, the chances that you will see a lot of cherry trees, wild or cultivated, are very high. Black cherries are indeed a local delicacy, and a village of the name of Itxassou has even made it its speciality, and is famous for its black cherry jam that locals enjoy with slices of ewe cheese.

A bowl of black cherries, on a bench

Cherries are a fruit which I affectionate a lot, a symbol of seasonal eating. Their season is short and roughly extends from May till early July, depending on where you live. The pleasure of biting into a plump and juicy cherry is one of life’s little pleasures which comes back as a delight every year. Cherries vary in colour, shape and taste, from tart to very sweet, and they go along savoury dishes as well as sweet ones. Cherries offer many health benefits: they are rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, iron and copper. They are also packed with antioxidants and fibres - a real powerfood!

Slices of black cherry scones on a wooden background

To say that I am slightly obsessed with cherries at the moment would be a bit of an understatement, but it is one of these foods which you need to make the most of during the short period of time when they are available. A fellow blogger posted a photo for cherry scones on Instagram the other day, and the photo couldn’t get out of my head...I had to bake cherry scones! This was easily done, scones being such a quick and simple baking project. They were at their best fresh out of the oven, smeared with a dollop of berry jam. I imagine that adding dark chocolate chunks would make a lovely addition too, but even without, this was a treat made in heaven!

Slices of black cherry scones and cherries on a wooden background

If you love cherries, you might want to check recipes from the archives such as Coconut Cherry Clafoutis, Chocolate & Cherry Muffins, Cherry & Rocket Salad with Ricotta or Wild Cherry & Fromage Blanc Verrines. Enjoy!

Black Cherry Scones – makes 8
Note: I used rice cream in my recipe, but you could very well use dairy heavy cream instead
•125g light spelt flour
•125g wholewheat flour
•2tsp baking powder
•50g unrefined sugar
•A pinch of salt
•2 handful black cherries, pitted
•125g ricotta
•125ml cream

1.Preheat the oven to 220°C.
2.In a large bowl, mix the flours with the baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the cherries, ricotta and cream, and mix until you obtain a dough.
3.Transfer the dough to a baking sheet covered with baking paper and flatten it into a 3cm-high circle. Cut 8 wedges into the circle. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20min until golden and cooked through.
4.Take out of the oven and serve while still warm.

Scones aux Cerises Noires – pour 8 scones
Note : j’ai utilisée de la crème de riz dans ma recette, mais vous pourriez très bien la remplacer par de la crème fraiche épaisse.
•125g de farine de petit épeautre
•125g de farine de blé complet
•2cs de poudre à lever
•50g de sucre complet
•1 pincée de sel
•2 poignées de cerises noires, dénoyautées
•125g de ricotta
•125ml de crème

1.Préchauffer le four sur 220°C.
2.Dans un saladier, mélanger les farines avec la poudre à lever, le sucre et le sel. Ajouter les cerises, la ricotta et la crème et mélanger jusqu'à l’obtention d’une pâte.
3.Transférer la pâte sur une plaque à four recouverte de papier cuisson et l’étaler en un cercle de 3cm d’épaisseur. Couper le cercle en 8 parts. Mettre au four pour 15-20min jusqu'à ce que les scones soient dorés et cuits.
4.Sortir du four et servir encore tiède.

A black cherry scone cake, sliced

May 29, 2015

Mango, Strawberry & Vanilla Smoothie + A Video + Big News!

Pink smoothie in a glass

This post is now long overdue and I am beyond excited to be sharing it with you today!

First, it’s been a while since I shared any sweet recipe on the blog, and it was definitely time for one. We’ve made a video for it, which is always something exciting to work on. I’d love to hear your feedback, so don’t hesitate to drop me a line to say what you think of it. We’re still complete amateurs as regard to video making/editing, so I always feel a bit nervous about posting one on the blog. Strawberries are the fruit of the moment, and it seems therefore totally appropriate to use them in smoothies (note that you could use frozen strawberries if fresh ones are not in season where you live).

Almond milk, strawberries, mango & vanilla

Second...a big piece of news which I literally couldn’t wait to be sharing... There’s a bun in the oven! We are absolutely delighted to be expecting a baby boy for the early autumn. Food blogging during the first term of the pregnancy was sometimes a bit of a challenge as I found myself having aversions for a number of foods, and simply was often not in the mood for talking about food or cooking. But these times already seem quite far behind, and more than ever I am committed to preparing wholesome and delicious meals to nourish myself and the little sprout growing in my belly. Smoothies are the perfect example of healthy snacks that I like to have: they are filling enough to keep me going and packed with the goodness of the ingredients I use in them.

View of a blender

Here is to the beginning of summer and exciting times ahead ;-)
With love x

Video: http://youtu.be/R4aaAeXBvD4

video

Mango, Strawberry & Vanilla Smoothie – serves 2
•250ml almond milk
•1 mango, stoned, peeled and cut into cubes
•250g strawberries, hulled
•Seeds from one vanilla pod

1.Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
2.Serve.

Smoothie Mangue, Fraise et Vanille – pour 2 personnes
•250ml de lait d’amande
•1 mangue, pelée, dénoyautée et coupée en cubes
•250g de fraises, équeutées
•Graines d’une gousse de vanille

1.Mettre les ingrédients dans un blender et mixer jusqu'à obtenir une texture lisse.
2.Servir.

May 18, 2015

Cauliflower Green Tabbouleh

A bowl of salad

Thankfully, the preparation for this blog post happened before my mini food-processor decided to break down. I haven’t managed to find a spare part for it or to repair it myself and I am left pondering whether I should live without one for a few months and save to invest into a proper large and robust one (any recommendation?) or whether I should get another small cheap one as a replacement...

Anyway, going back to the recipe, it has become a classic in our home: I love making it when having guests and let them try to guess what magic ingredient is used in place of traditional couscous. The salad leaves you feeling light but nourished all the same, qualities which I really appreciate when summer time and hotter days come. I call cauliflower a ‘magic’ ingredient as it is incredibly versatile in the ways you can eat it and prepare it. For more out of the ordinary inspiration, make sure to check my Cauliflower Tacos recipe posted last year.

Wishing you a beautiful week x

A bowl of salad with a wooden fork on a white background

Cauliflower Green Tabouleh with Harissa Lemon Dressing – serves 4
•1 small or ½ large cauliflower
•2 spring onions, finely sliced
•1 celery stick, finely chopped
•1 small cucumber, cut into small cubes
•2tbsp green olives, finely chopped
•A large bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
•A large bunch of mint, roughly chopped
•A large bunch of chives, roughly chopped
•Salt and pepper
•Juice of ½ lemon
•1tbsp harissa paste
•2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1.Cut the cauliflower into small florets, and put them into a food processor (you might need to do this in a couple of batches). Process until you obtain a rice-like texture. Transfer to a large salad bowl.
2.Add the celery, cucumber, olives and herbs to the bowl.
3.In a small bowl, prepare the dressing by mixing some salt and pepper with the lemon juice, harissa and olive oil. Pour over the salad. Mix well.
4.Serve or keep in the fridge for later.

Taboulé Vert de Chou-fleur & Sauce Harissa-Citron – pour 4 personnes
•1 petit ou ½ gros chou-fleur
•2 oignons de printemps, émincés
•1 branche de céleri, émincée
•1 petit concombre, coupé en petits dés
•2cs d’olive vertes, émincées
•Un gros bouquet de persil, émincé
•Un gros bouquet de menthe, émincé
•Un gros bouquet de ciboulette, émincé
•Sel et poivre
•Jus d’1/2 citron
•1cs de harissa
•2cs d’huile d’olive

1.Couper le chou-fleur en petits bouquets et les mettre dans le bol d’un robot (il sera peut-être nécessaire de le faire en plusieurs fois). Faire tourner le robot jusqu'à l’obtention d’une texture ressemblant à de la semoule. Transférer dans un grand saladier.
2.Ajouter le céleri, le concombre, les olives et les herbes.
3.Préparer l’assaisonnement dans un petit bol en mélangeant du sel et du poivre avec le jus de citron la harissa et l’huile d’olive. Verser sur la salade et bien mélanger.
4.Servir ou garder au réfrigérateur en attendant.