Food Therapy

Paprika dusted Halloumi with Pomegranate Grapefruit Salsa and Spring Asparagus 

Soo… I’m late, again. But I think I’m getting better, after a crazy busy past year I’m trying to get these blog posts back to being regular! And here, following from our last Thai-esque noodle salad we’re gearing up for Spring, and all those tasty treats that come with it.. 

This salad I actually made a variation of a while back and is now only just making it onto my blog with a recipe,The upside of this is that now asparagus is in season! So really, it’s almost perfect timing. :D 

Here we have salty halloumi, my all time favourite cheese, the cheese I grew up on. Dusted with paprika, a trick I learned more recently and topped with a sweet and sharp, crunchy, fragrant spicy salsa, laid on top of some welcoming asparagus. Although asparagus has a delicate flavour itself, it can take on strong flavours and they compliment it so well.  

This is a dish to get your senses going, a great to start a meal, as part of a larger spread, or as a treat, just for you.

The combination of all these delicious ingredients also means that you have a nutrient packed dish. Asparagus is loaded with antioxidants, containing plenty of fiber, its good for your digestion, it helps with blood sugar regulation, and is an anti inflammatory, so many factors working together to keep you healthy.

Pomegranate and grapefruit are also packed with antioxidants, and high in vitamin C boosting your immune system and helping your body heal. 

The recipe..

I steam fried* the asparagus here, but grilling on a very hot grill would also be delicious. These are my preferred ways of cooking asparagus. You keep the flavour of the asparagus, instead of losing it in a pool of boiling water, and there’s also less risk of over cooking it. 

Paprika dusted Halloumi with Pomegranate Grapefruit Salsa and Spring Asparagus

 

250g packet Halloumi, sliced into 1cm slices

sweet Smoked Paprika

2 tbsp avocado oil

1 bunch asparagus

 

Pomegranate and Grapefruit Salsa

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ small red onion, finely chopped

½ jalapeno, finely chopped

1 tbsp honey

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

3 tbsp olive oil

20g mint, finely chopped

10g Thai basil, finely chopped

Seeds of 1 pomegranate

1 red grapefruit, pith removed, segmented and diced

salt and pepper to taste

 

Start by making the salsa. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, onion, jalapeno, honey, vinegar, olive oil, herbs, pomegranate seeds and grapefruit.

Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.

Trim the ends off your asparagus, the ends are usually woody and stringy to eat. You can feel where they become good to eat by feeling where they snap easily.

Heat a large pan fry pan, add a 1 tbsp avocado oil, and splash of water, add the asparagus and cook until just tender, I like my asparagus with bite but you can cook it a little longer if you like. You can also grill your asparagus on a hot griddle pan.

While your asparagus is cooking, dust the halloumi pieces with the paprika. Remove the asparagus from the pan, add your remaining oil, and the halloumi and cook about a minute on each side until golden.

Plate up individual starters, splitting the asparagus and Halloumi between each plate topped with a little salsa or server in large flat dish  for sharing.

Garnish with herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. 

Fragrant Prawn Noodle Salad

Fragrant Prawns and Mung Bean Noodles

So we’re nearing spring and that tells me that it’s time to start eating some salads! This dish can be served warm or cold, but either way, it’s fresh, spicy, fragrant and is good for any time of year. It makes you feel like you’re somewhere tropical even when you’re not.

Using classic South East Asian ingredients, I came up with this salad based on all my favourite qualities a salad can have… Freshness, flavour, texture, colour, level of nutrition and of course level of satisfaction.

To make the dressing, it’s key to get the balance of salty, sour and sweet just right in Asian cooking. With soft noodles, fresh crunchy vegetables, crunchy peanuts and fried anchovies and fresh fragrant flavours coming from the herbs and lemongrass; you end up an uplifting combination of textures and flavours.

Although coriander is never going to be knocked off top spot, Thai holy basil is my herb of the moment. Thai basil has always been a bit more mysterious. One of my favourite Thai dishes has always been the stir fry basil with chilli. Seemingly simple there is always this amazing flavour that was almost unknown and you couldn’t find anywhere else. Now you can buy Thai holy basil in supermarkets!* Which doesn’t take away any of its exoticness or mystique as the flavour is like no other herb. (Although true of course of all herbs). I’ve started using it regularly and adding it to a lot more than Thai dishes; it adds a great twist to dishes. It’s become a favourite salad herb for me, as you would have seen in my last blog post on the Fragrant Herb and Seeded salad.

 

And then there’s lemongrass, another favourite flavour for me, and flavour wise, lemongrass of course is amazing for just that alone, but it is also extremely good for you as well!

It’s an excellent source of minerals; potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Potassium in particular is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure.

Lemongrass as an analgesic has powerful pain relieving properties. It helps to alleviate muscle spasms by relaxing the muscles leading to the reduction of pain-related symptoms. It is useful for all types of pain including abdominal pain, headaches, joint pains, muscle pains, digestive tract spasms, muscle cramps, stomach ache. It also aides digestion and helps increase blood circulation and has been linked to lowered and normalised cholesterol levels.

As an antifungal and antibacterial, lemongrass inhibits bacteria and yeast growth. As an antioxidant, lemongrass contributes to liver and pancreatic health by helping the body to remove toxins from the liver, pancreas, kidneys and bladder more quickly.

 

On the beauty side of things, lemongrass is also helpful for skin issues, helping to brighten the skin and eyes through it ‘s vitamin A content, it’s helps keep skin clear and it’s antibacterial property is useful for skin infections and acne.

So there you go, start cooking with my lemongrass and you’ll be better off for it! You can also buy or make your own delicious lemongrass tea. A nice light floral warmer. 

 

Lemongrass Prawn Mung Bean Noodles

Dressing..

4 tbsp lime juice (1-2 limes)

4 tbsp Fish Sauce

2 tbsp Coconut palm Sugar

2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped

3 Lemongrass, outer leaves removed and core finely chopped

1 red Birds Eye Chili, finely chopped (optional)

 

100g Mung Bean Noodles or brown rice noodles

2tbsp peanut oil or another good quality flavour less oil

20g dried shrimp

1 King Oyster mushroom

50g Blanched Green Beans, cut into cm diagonal pieces, or sugar snap peas raw cut into 1 cm pieces

50g Bean sprouts

1 bunch Thai Basil, picked

1 bunch Coriander, picked

50g fried whole peanuts, lightly crush

30g dried anchovy, fried

 

Marinade for the Prawns

1 cm turmeric, ground 1 tsp Turmeric powder

2tbsp of the dressing

12 king prawns

 

Firstly prepare the dressing, mix together the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar to dissolve the sugar, coconut sugar is very fine and dissolves quickly. Mix in the other ingredients.

Take 2 tbsp of the dressing and add the turmeric, mix and add your prawns coating well, set aside to marinate for half an hour.

While the prawns are marinating prepare the rest of your ingredients.  When you are ready to cook the noodles you need to have everything at hand and it will take just minutes.

 

To blanch the beans bring a pan of salted water to the boil, there must be plenty of room for the beans. Once it’s boiling, add the beans, cooking for just a minute, they should still be bright green with crunch. Take them out of the water and place in a bowl of iced water. Remove and slice.  Slice the oyster mushrooms across.

Boil a large pan of water, once boiling add the noodles and turn off, stir to stop the noodles clumping. They will take just a few minutes to cook so keep an eye on them, after 3-4 minutes check, drain and rinse under cold water. Leave to drain.

Heat a large fry pan or wok. Add the peanut oil, cook the prawns done, once done removed from the pan and set aside. Then add the dried shrimp, fry for a minute, add the mushrooms, fry for another 2 minutes and add the noodles, the dressing, green beans, beansprouts, toss until well mixed and heated through.

Remove from the pan into a large mixing bowl, add the peanuts, fried anchovy, herbs, and prawns, mix well and taste for seasoning, garnish with sliced birds eye chili if desired.

NB.

Use can use store bought roasted, salted peanuts, instead of frying your own peanuts.

Dried anchovies you’ll find in Asian supermarkets. Fry in hot flavourless oil for a few minutes, until crisp, drain on kitchen paper, these are optional to the recipe, they will add a saltiness and crunch.  I warn you though, they do smell a teeny tiny bit when frying!  :) 

Enjoy!

Fragrant Seed and Herb Salad 

Fragrant Seed And Herb Salad with Avocado Oil

This is a light, fresh and vibrant salad which you can serve as a starter that will impress, a side dish to your main course or add some extra ingredients like grilled halloumi, butterbeans, pomegranate… to turn it into more of a main meal. With the extra unusual flavours brought through the seeds, herbs and freshness of ingredients it’s a salad that will tantalise your taste buds without being heavy or overpowering.

It seems we know little about what’s in the pre-packaged food that we buy, so making your own food from scratch just makes perfect sense. Once you have the seed mix this salad will take you minutes. That initial time investment to get the ingredients and toast the seeds, may seem like a hassle but you’ll be rewarded by being able to simply grab your jar of seeds and add pizazz to simple salads and dishes. Once you have these ingredients and start building your dry store it’s easy to throw together more adventurous dishes without much trouble. 

The oil I used to dress the salad and fry the seeds is avocado oil.

Avocado oil is pressed from the fruit of the avocado, the less refined, virgin oil, which I’m using has the flavour of avocado with you might say grassy tones. It’s great for making dressings, especially added to avocado for extra avo flavour, and is perfect for healthy cooking as it has an unusually high smoking point. 

Avocado has long been pressed to use the oil for cosmetic purposes; high in Vitamin E it has great regenerative and moisturising properties. With the well known role vitamin E plays in aiding skin appearance seems it is logical to speculate that a healthy oil diet containing this vitamin will assist in having a good complexion! A great bonus :).

It is also high in monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease, as well as enhancing the absorption of carotenoids, which have vitamin A activity, antioxidants and other nutrients. 

So, in the dressing alone you’re doing well. Not to mention the health properties of the various seeds, herbs and leaves. I suggest you give it a try!

 

Herb and Fragrant Seed Salad

 

90g Rocket

20g Thai basil, picked

20g Coriander, picked

10g Parsley, picked

4 radishes sliced into thin rounds

50g Young Pecorino, Shaved

Salt and Pepper

Splash of avocado oil, Squeeze of Lemon Juice, to taste

 

Seed Mix

Handful fresh Curry Leaves

1 tsp Nigella Seeds (Onions Seeds)

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp Fennel Seeds

2tsp Poppy seeds

200g sunflower seeds

200g pumpkin seeds

1 tsp maldon sea salt

2 tablespoon avocado oil

Heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan. Add the curry leaves, fry until aromatic, then add the fennel, nigella, and mustard and poppy seeds, fry until they start to pop, shaking the pan around a little. Add the sunflower and pumpkin seeds and toast until they’re golden. Keep shaking the pan so the seeds are toasted evenly.

Immediately remove from the seeds from the pan and drain on some kitchen paper. Set aside to cool, use a couple of tablespoons for you salad and store the rest in a jar for future use! * 

*Toasted seed recipe adapted from Anna Hansen’s recipe in ‘Coco’, Phaidon

Mix the salad ingredients together adding dressing to taste and enjoy…. 

Halva Ice Cream with Black Sesame, Pistachio & Rose Snap 

Halva Ice Cream & Black Sesame Pistachio, Rose Snap!



Aaah halva, my favourite childhood sweet, I’ve never had a big sweet tooth but give me a tub of halva and there’d be nothing left.

I’ve mentioned before my love of all things sesame, especially tahini.. mmmmm.. Previous tahini posts date a while back, tahinopita the unforgettable halva cake from Cyprus. Tahini makes so many things taste amazing, chickpeas being one of them (aka houmous).

So halva in ice cream makes perfect sense! I know it’s not quite ice cream season yet, but you can eat this indoors with the heating on and you’ll be fine. It came about as I was rooting around for something to make with some spare time, knowing I have been neglecting my beloved blog. Then in it came to me, I found a pot of halva buried in my cupboard, brought to me personally all the way from Cyprus by my dear mum.

I have cream, milk and eggs., sugar, tahini, and some other bits and bobs. Yay! At last I’m making halva ice cream!.

.. And then eating too much of it when it keeps melting as I try to photograph it at 9am.. oops.

Ps .. if you attempt this.. freeze the bowl! (silly me..  I should know better)

Halve Ice Cream

 300ml double cream

300ml full fat milk

1 vanilla pod

3 egg yolks

40g caster sugar

30g tahini

100g halva, cut into a small dice

Black Caramel Sesame Snap

100g sugar

75g black sesame seeds

25g roasted pistachio, warm still

a few edible dried rose petals

 

Weigh out the sugar and whisk with the egg yolks in a large bowl until thick and pale, set aside.

Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds into a saucepan with the milk and cream, heat until just before boiling. Immediately pour out half the mix into the yolk mix whisking continuously to combine. Then pour the mixture back into the pan, on a medium heat, stirring continuously for about ten minutes until the mixtures thickens into a custard consistency, a crème anglais.

Have a bowl of ice ready with a clean bowl set in it. Once the custard is thick, this is the tricky part, if you over cook it will start to curdle, so take it off as soon as you think it’s ready.  Pour the custard into the bowl, whisk in the tahini. After about 20 minutes pour the custard into a suitable container, lay a piece of cling film over the custard to stop a film forming. Cool completely in the fridge.

Use an ice cream machine to churn your ice cream until it is semi set, it should be very thick and creamy, stir through the halva and place in a pre frozen container and freeze. When you’re ready to serve remove from the freezer 10 minutes prier to soften up a little.

For the caramel snaps, heat a pan on medium heat. Add a little sugar to the pan, once that starts to melt keep adding sugar slowly, scraping down the edges of the until you have a deep golden caramel, add the honey, this will bubble, keep stirring and add the sesame seeds and pistachio, stir until you have a deep caramel colour.

 Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment and spread blobs of caramel to your size and liking, this will set quickly so you’ll need to be fast, sprinkle over the rose petals. Allow to cool, and careful not to touch the sugar if is very hot and will stick to you and burn!! Ouch.

  

Honey Coconut Prawns with Curry Leaves and Chilli

Curry Leaves are my herb pick of the month. Especially after returning from the most amazing trip, and culinary adventure to Indonesia. Here we were spoilt rotten by Mem’s family being pampered and eating the best food for almost a whole month! We came back with a suitcase of treasures and ingredients. Two items I’m so glad we have with us to fight off Indonesian eating withdrawal complaints; a delicious jar of sambal (not like the jarred stuff you buy here), and the most amazing shredded dried fish ‘gold dust’ (my title). Now these two items may not be for everyone, searing hot sambal and smelly dried fish flakes, with toasted coconut, shredded kaffir lime and chili.? Maybe not for everyone but, heaven for me :D  Sprinkle this on eggs, rice and veg and you’ll/I’ll be happy.

So here I’ve tried to recreate a dish we had, with toasted coconut as well. Here it’s sweetened with honey and coconut sugar. A simple recipe but really effective and flavourful thanks to the powerful natural aroma of the curry leaves and the sweetness of the coconut.

And just so you know curry leaves, like all herbs and spices are also very good for you. So you see, flavour and health go hand in hand, yay!

Native to Indian and Sri Lankan they’re integral to these countries and a lot of South East Asian cuisine.  Curry leaves work as a natural tonic within the body and are highly recommended for their medicinal purposes as well as their flavour.

A little nutritional information.. Eaten on a regular basis they can cancel the effects of free radicals released by the metabolism that are damaging to some organs, particularly the liver.

The antioxidants in curry leaves help control good and bad cholesterol levels. They help to control blood sugar levels, in turn helping to control diabetes.

The presence of antioxidants, vitamins and alkaloids in them promotes a healthy digestive system.  

Extracts of curry leaves have also been shown to reduce the side effects of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy cancer treatment.

Curry leaves have high quantities of iron, phosphorous, vitamin C and vitamin and vitamin A, important in maintaining good eyesight, and lastly curry leaves, some studies have shown, help to promote weight loss..

 Stir Fried Prawns with Honey Chili Coconut and Curry Leaves

2-3 tbsp coconut oil

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 dried Kashmiri chili, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, deseeded and quartered

20 large king prawns, de veined

80g shredded or grated fresh coconut or dried

handful curry leaves

1 tbsp coconut sugar

1tbsp honey

pinch salt

Heat a large frying pan and add 1tbsp of the coconut oil, add the garlic and fry stirring for 1 minute until it just begins to colour and take out straight away. Transfer to a plate or tray with kitchen roll to crisp up and drain off some excess oil.

Add another tbsp of oil to the pan and add the coconut, curry leaves, Kashmiri chillies and palm sugar. Fry this for a few minutes while it begins to brown add the honey, stirring for even browning and to stop sticking. Once the coconut is a deep golden brown and evenly coated remove from the pan into a dish.  

Add more oil if needed, add the prawns to the hot pan, once they are very almost cooked add the garlic and half the coconut. Heat through, and mix well.

Transfer onto a serving dish and sprinkle the rest of the coconut on top. Serve with steamed rice, a vegetable side and sambal if you like!