PIGS IN BLANKETS

Everybody loves this traditional Christmas side dish and we’ve got three tasty twists including black pudding, butternut squash and chestnuts – you choose!

Ingredients:

  • 8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 16 chipolatas

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Cut the bacon rashers in half. Wrap a piece of bacon around each of the chipolatas.

  2. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30-35 mins until golden.

VEGAN BLT

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Toast bread (optional). In the meantime, heat skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add eggplant bacon (if using coconut bacon, no need to heat) and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side until warmed through. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. To assemble sandwich, spread vegan mayo (or hummus) on the toasted bread slices. Then top one piece with Eggplant or Coconut Bacon, onion, tomato, and lettuce. Top with other piece of bread, slice (optional), and enjoy.
  3. Could be made ahead of time (up to a few hours), but best when fresh.

COURGETTE AND OLIVE QUICHE

Courgettes form a mild base for a quiche that is transformed with tangy feta and an equally punchy ­olive tapenade – perfect picnic ­fodder.

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling time and 30 minutes resting time | Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes

SERVES

Four to six

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry:

  • 170g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 30g toasted ground hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 120g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

  • 150g courgette, grated
  • ½ tsp flaky sea salt
  • 200g feta, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp picked fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 300ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp shop-bought black olive tapenade

METHOD

  1. Place the flour, hazelnuts and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Add the cold diced butter and pulse briefly until the mixture resembles the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and briefly blend again before adding the cold water, a little at a time, and mixing until you achieve a smooth dough.
  2. Remove the dough from the mixer, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.
  4. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about the thickness of a pound coin so it’s large enough to line a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Line the tin with the pastry, pressing it against the edge of the tin gently and allowing the excess to fall over the sides. If the pastry becomes too brittle after rolling out, place it back in the fridge before lining the tin.
  5. Line the inside with baking parchment and fill with ceramic baking beans or uncooked rice/pulses. Place the case on a baking sheet and bake for around 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, take out the parchment and cooking weights and return to the oven to continue cooking for a further 10 to 15 minutes, until the pastry case is golden brown and cooked through.
  7. Remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 140C/120C Fan/Gas 1.
  8. Meanwhile, for the filling, tip the grated courgette into a colander with a bowl underneath.
  9. Sprinkle with half a teaspoon of flaky salt and toss it through, then leave for 30 minutes for the moisture to seep out. Tip the courgette on to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out any excess liquid, then tip the dry courgette into a bowl and add the feta, thyme, eggs, and cream. Season well then beat together.
  10. Spread the tapenade all over the pastry base. Pour in the courgette and feta custard and bake for 45 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

HOW TO COOK STEAK

One thing to make clear right away: there isn’t one perfect way to cook a steak. Different cuts and sizes of steak with varying degrees of marbling and fatty edges make a one-size-fits-all solution to this meatiest of questions pretty much impossible.

How to cook the perfect steak

You’ll find heaps of complex and contradictory advice out there about how to cook the steak to beat all steaks. Jamie Oliver recommends creating a herb brush from woody herbs tied to a wooden spoon to dust enthusiastically over your sizzling steak, Harold McGee swears by wrapping the meat in clingfilm and submerging in hot water to get the meat warm before cooking…

Chef Flo has brought it back to basics with a foolproof approach to steak which will have you cooking perfectly sealed steak that’s deliciously tender. She’s used sirloin for it’s lovely marbled meat, but the method is broad enough that you can adjust and apply it to other cuts as well. Check out the video below, or scroll down to see the steps for the easy way to cook an incredible steak.

Make all your cooking easy! Have a look at our recipe boxes.


Cooking Sirloin Steak

  1. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 1
    First, it’s important to allow your steak to reach room temperature before cooking. Take it out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before you’re planning to cook. As an added bonus, the longer you leave it out the more it will start to dry out, which helps it to create a good seal in the pan, trapping in all the meaty moisture.
  2. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 2
    Rub your steak on both sides with oil, making sure each side is fully covered. Try to use oil with a high smoke point instead of olive oil; we’d suggest vegetable oil, groundnut oil or rice bran oil, all of which have a nice high smoke point.Once you’ve oiled your steak, sprinkle some good chunky salt on both sides. It’s worth adding a big pinch on each side – more than you’d usually use in cooking – so that you can see the crystals on the surface of the steak. We don’t worry about pepper, as we’ll be cooking at a high temperature and pepper can burn in this sort of heat.
  3. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 3
    Bring a dry (unoiled) pan to a super high heat – the higher the heat, the better the seal and the more tender you’re cooked steak will be. Add your steak to the pan allow it to seal on one side for 1-2 minutes before turning. Judge the time from sight – you can always lift up and edge with tongs to see how it’s cooking underneath if you need to!
  4. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 4
    Flip the steak and cook on the other side. If it needs to cook for a little bit longer, give it a bit of extra time on both sides, but try to keep the total time on each side more or less even.
  5. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 5
    Once your steak is cooked, remove it from the pan and place it on a plate (rather than a flat surface like a chopping board) and cover it with a clean tea towel. Leave your steak to rest like this for as long as you were cooking it in the pan – so this will vary according to how thick your steak is.
  6. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 6
    Resting your steak will allow the juices to gather – these can make an delicious dressing, or can be mixed with a bit of butter and herbs and poured back over the steak for a rich, decadent finish.
  7. how to cook the perfect sirloin steak - step 7

Finally, dig in! I like my steak medium-rare, but you can always vary cooking (and resting!) times for different results.

Another lovely, healthy and lean steak cut is ‘minute steak‘ – it’s thin and flat and only takes a minute to cook – as the name suggests!

CHICKEN PAILLARDS

  • 2 ripe medium tomatoes (1 red and 1 yellow), cored and roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 spring onion (white and green parts), thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup torn fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 chicken paillards, about 6 ounces each

Prepare an outdoor grill with a hot fire.

Toss the tomatoes, garlic, spring onion, the 3 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, the 2 teaspoons salt, and black pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Add all the herbs to the bowl but don’t toss.

Brush the chicken paillards lightly with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Grill the chicken, turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Stir the herbs into the tomatoes. Put a paillard on each of 4 plates, spoon some herb-tomato salad on top (watch out for the smashed garlic-you might want to remove it), and serve.

Serves: 4

Calories: 300

Total Fat: 13 grams

>Saturated Fat: 2 grams

Protein: 40 grams

Total carbohydrates: 4 grams

Sugar: 2 grams

Fiber: 1 gram

Cholesterol: 99 milligrams

Sodium: 1082 milligrams

POACHED EGGS

POACHED EGGS

Before we begin to talk about how to poach eggs, I think it is appropriate to clear up a few myths and mysteries that surround the whole subject.

I met someone recently who said they had been to six leading kitchen shops and not one of them sold an egg poacher. My reaction was, ‘What a great leap for mankind.’ Egg poachers not only came out of the ark, but they never did the job anyway.  What they did was to steam and toughen the eggs, not poach them – and did you ever try to clean one afterwards?  The dried-on toughened egg white was always hell to remove.

Then came professional chefs, who passed their exams only if they created a strong whirlpool of simmering water using a whisk and then performed a sort of culinary cabaret act by swirling the poached egg back to its original shell shape.  At home we can now relax, throw out our egg poachers and poach eggs simply and easily for four or even six people.  The method below is not at all frightening or hazardous, but bear in mind that for successful poaching the eggs have to be really fresh.

To make life even easier, you can now watch How to Poach Eggs in our Cookery School video lesson below.


  • METHOD
  • INGREDIENTS

METHOD

The key to success here is freshness.

So remember the horizontal position in a glass and the plump yolk with its inner gelatinous circle of white. Fill the pan with no less than 2.5cm of water from a boiling kettle – nothing else is needed, no salt, no vinegar, just water – and have the heat underneath quite gentle. What you need to see is the merest trace of tiny bubbles beginning to form over the base of the pan, no more than that.

Now break in the eggs, one at a time, or I think it helps to break the eggs into little bowls before slip them onto the hot water then set the timer for 2 minutes, and let the water barely simmer. When the time is up, simply remove the pan from the heat and set the timer to 10 minutes. During this time you can baste the top of the eggs with the hot water.

When the time is up, gently and carefully lift each egg out of the water on the draining spoon, letting it drain for a few seconds.

Then place the spoon on the kitchen paper to absorb any water still left.

SPAG BOL

Ingredients

Method

  1. Place the mince in a large non-stick saucepan with the onion, celery, carrots and garlic. 

  2. Dry-fry over a medium heat, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon for 8–10 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink and the vegetables are beginning to brown. 

  3. Add the mushrooms and fry with the mince and vegetables for another 2–3 minutes. 

  4. Sprinkle over the flour and stir well, then add the wine, tomatoes and tomato purée, along with 300ml/12fl oz cold water. 

  5. Crumble the stock cube over the top then add the caster sugar and herbs. 

  6. Season with a few twists of freshly ground black pepper, stir well and bring to a simmer. 

  7. When the liquid is bubbling, reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 30–40 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

  8. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. As soon as the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and push it down with a wooden spoon to encourage the strands to separate. It’s important to use lots of water so the spaghetti can move freely without sticking together. Cook for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.

  9. While the spaghetti is cooking, increase the heat under the sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced and the sauce is rich and thick. Stir regularly and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  10. Drain the spaghetti in a colander and divide between warmed bowls.

  11. Spoon the Bolognese sauce on top, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

SESAME PRAWN TOAST

Ingredients

  • 6 slices of bread, or 8 depending on size
  • 150g of prawns, raw, de-veined
  • 1 garlic clove, large
  • 1 knob of ginger, thumb-sized
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded
  • 1 egg
  • 1 dash of soy sauce, (make sure you use gluten-free if making a GF version of this dish)
  • 1 dash of sesame oil
  • rice flour, just enough to bind the mixture so it’s not too sloppy
  • sesame seeds
  • oil, for deep frying (I used groundnut, but sunflower or vegetable will do the job)

Method

1
Roughly chop the prawns, garlic, ginger, onions and chilli and stick the lot in a food processor with the egg, soy and sesame oil. Blitz until you have a paste, adding a little bit of rice flour if your mixture is too sloppy
2
Spread the mixture generously over the slices of bread, with more in the middle than the edges. Pour you sesame seeds into a bowl big enough to fit in the sliced bread and dunk it, prawn mixture side down, into the seeds to stick
3
Cut your slices into two or four triangles (again, this depends how big your slices are – gluten free bread tends to come up smaller, so I only cut mine in half)
4
Heat up the oil in a wide heavy-bottomed pan and use a fish slice to carefully place them in the hot oil, sesame side down. Leave them for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, before carefully flipping them over in the oil for another minute or so to brown the other side. Do this in batches, so you don’t overcrowd the pan
5
If you put too many in at once, your oil will cool and your toast will get soggy. Once it’s nicely golden, fish your prawn toast out of the oil and drain it on kitchen paper, before serving with sweet chilli sauce

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANTS: LONDON

GUILT FREE PANCAKES

When you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet it can sometimes feel like the whole world is conspiring against you.

First we had Christmas to negotiate, and now we’re faced with Pancake Day. While everyone else is tucking into starchy desserts that are slathered in sugar, syrup, chocolate sauce and heavily-processed lemon juice, you’re sat there like some kind of chump with a low-fat yoghurt and a few blueberries.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though. It’s easier than you think to celebrate Shrove Tuesday without hindering your health and fitness plans.

WHAT’S THE SECRET TO MAKING HEALTHY PANCAKES?

DW’s resident health and fitness expert and personal trainer, Carly Tierney, has given us some handy pancake-related nutritional advice, as well as a few sweet and savoury recipes for you to try out on February 9th.

She commented: “Pancakes are a favourite breakfast food [ed note – speaking of breakfast foods, have a read of this], and many varieties provide a number of essential nutrients. However, they can be high in calories from sugar and fat, especially if you eat them at a restaurant or top them with a lot of butter and syrup. You can make more nutritious versions of pancakes at home.

“Plain pancakes can be a good source of vitamins and minerals. You can make them even more nutritious by ditching the unhealthy toppings like cream and jam and instead add chopped fruit, nuts and veggies. Savoury items such as sweet potato, carrots and pumpkin can lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and help to strengthen your immune system, and fruits such as bananas, berries and pineapple not only add extra flavour, but are jam packed with vitamins too. You can purée your fruit to create tasty sauces that are perfect to drizzle.

“The way that you cook your pancakes can also make a massive difference to the calorie content and how healthy they are. Try replacing your usual butter or vegetable oil with low-calorie sprays or a small amount of coconut oil and always use oils sparingly.”

HEALTHY PANCAKE RECIPES FOR THOSE WITH A SWEET TOOTH

They say that if it tastes good, then it’s probably bad for you. We’re here to obliterate this myth with our divine, health-conscious sweet pancake recipes.

GO BANANAS FOR PANCAKES

Healthy banana and coconut pancakes

YOU’LL NEED…

• 1 whole egg
• 2 egg whites
• 275ml of skimmed milk
• 110g of plain flour, sifted
• 1 banana
• 25g of shredded coconut
• Fresh pineapple (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Mash the banana and crack the eggs into it, stirring until the mixture forms a paste. Add the milk and flour gradually until you have a nice smooth batter (there will be a few lumpy bits because of the banana).

Heat a lightly greased griddle or frying pan on medium heat and pour in a 2.5-inch wide portion of batter.

Carefully flip the pancake after about 25 seconds or when it browns. The recipe makes three to four small pancakes.

Not only is this recipe incredibly easy, it’s also extremely tasty. The combination of banana and coconut gives the dish a really refreshing and exotic flavour. Add some pineapple to give your pancake a Pina Colada-esque taste. Who doesn’t like Pina Coladas, right?

THE HEALTH BENEFITS

Although their natural sugar content is on the high side, bananas bring untold health benefits. A great source of potassium, fibre and protein, bananas are a great addition to your pancake mix. In similar fashion, coconut is also a little high on the sugar scale, but this is balanced out by the favourable iron and protein content. Banana and coconut should only be incorporated into your regular diet sparingly, but as a Pancake Day substitute for chocolate, cream and other assorted fattening toppings, they’re an excellent option.

Also, you’ll have noticed that we used just one full egg alongside two egg whites. This helps to keep the calorie count down (there are around 55 calories in each egg yolk), while at the same time retaining many of the nutritional benefits that eggs bring. You can read more about this in our recent blog post.

APPLE PIE PANCAKES

Healthy apple pie pancakes

The next four recipes all use the same basic ingredients to make the pancakes.

• 110g of plain flour, sifted
• Pinch of salt
• 1 whole egg
• 2 egg whites
• 275 ml of skimmed milk

FOR THIS DISH, YOU’LL ALSO NEED…

• 2 apples
• 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
• Half a teaspoon of powdered nutmeg
• Low-fat Greek yoghurt

DIRECTIONS

To make your topping, you’ll need to slice your apples and stew them in a small amount of boiling water for a couple of minutes. Add your cinnamon and nutmeg and continue to heat through until the apples are nice and soft. Scoop your mixture on to your pancakes and add some Greek yoghurt to the mix. It’ll taste just like rustic American apple pie, but won’t leave you feeling guilty afterwards. You’re welcome!

THE HEALTH BENEFITS

As the old saying goes; an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples are crammed with antioxidants and are said to help reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Certainly worth having on your pancakes, then.

The nutritional benefits of cinnamon are perhaps less renowned. This study showed that Ceylon Cinnamon could have a positive effect on blood sugar control (in rats anyway). The ingredient is also known to fight bacteria, making it a trusty ally against stomach bugs in particular.

Greek yoghurt, meanwhile, contains just 59 calories per 100 grams (depending on the brand) and as such is a fantastic substitute for cream or full-fat yoghurt.

HEALTHY PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY

Healthy US-style peanut butter and jelly pancakes

Another wondrous comfort food that won’t have a detrimental effect on your waistline.

YOU’LL NEED…

• A dollop of natural peanut butter (we love scientific measurements!)
• An assortment of mixed berries
• Teaspoon of Greek yoghurt

DIRECTIONS

There’s nothing complicated about this pancake topping, but what it lacks in gastronomic guile it more than makes up for in flavour.

Simply combine a tablespoon of peanut butter with a teaspoon of Greek yoghurt and mix together. This makes the peanut butter a little smoother, and once you add the mixture to your warm pancakes you’ll be presented with a mouth-watering melting concoction that gently oozes out on to your plate. Throw your berries on top to finish the job.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS

Peanut butter is a not-so-secret weapon for those who are looking to build muscle. Full of protein, fibre and so-called “good fats” peanut butter – eaten in moderation – is a great addition to your diet and is the perfect pancake topping. The creaminess of the peanut butter/Greek yoghurt mixture complements the tangy sweetness of the berries very nicely. You’ll have your own berry preferences of course, but if you’re undecided, we’d recommend blueberries, which are high in Vitamins C & K.

HEALTHY SAVOURY PANCAKE RECIPES

If you’re already sweet enough, why not have a crack at our savoury pancake recipes? The batter itself is just the same as the dessert version, but the toppings make all the difference.

Give these a try…

SPINACH, MUSHROOM AND LOW-FAT COTTAGE CHEESE

Spinach, mushroom & cream cheese pancakes

DIRECTIONS

Again, there’s nothing fancy about this pancake topping, but the nutritional benefits are vast. Simply sauté your mushrooms in low-fat spray/oil for a few minutes and add your spinach once the mushrooms are starting to feel soft. Spread atop your pancakes with a splodge of low-fat cottage cheese, and you’ve got a tasty savoury treat that is low in calories but high in flavour.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS

Mushrooms are certainly underrated as a healthy ingredient, as this BuzzFeed post alludes to. A fantastic source of potassium and known to boost our defences against cardiovascular diseases, mushrooms are very much an unsung hero of our cupboards. If you’re feeling daring on Shrove Tuesday, why not switch your standard mushrooms for the Shiitake variety?

At the other end of the scale, the health benefits of spinach are well documented – Popeye knew what he was doing! Good for your skin and bones, spinach is lauded as a “superfood” thanks to the amount of iron, protein and vitamins that are packed into it. Cheese, meanwhile, is a guilty pleasure for many, but rather than sprinkling a load of cheddar on to your pancakes, opt for a low-fat cream cheese instead.

RED PEPPERS & LIME/CHILLI-MARINATED TURKEY

Lime & red chilli turkey and red pepper pancakes

DIRECTIONS

Marinate your turkey in lime and chilli for a few hours in the fridge. In the meantime, slowly roast your chopped red peppers in the oven on a low heat. Once they’re nice and soft, put them in a pan with a tablespoon of tomato passata and warm up.

Grill your turkey until it is thoroughly cooked (15-20 minutes should be long enough) and then chop it into strips. Spoon your tomato/red pepper mix on to your pancakes and place your turkey on top. Grind on some fresh black pepper and you’re ready to go!

THE HEALTH BENEFITS

As one of the leanest meats around, turkey is criminally under-utilised. A healthier alternative to red meat, turkey is not only low in calories, it’s also rammed full of protein, making it an ideal option for those muscle builders among you. What’s more, it’s said to boost your immune system.

Red peppers are also an underappreciated nutritional marvel. They contain 300% of your recommended daily Vitamin C requirements, which is extremely impressive indeed.

NEED MORE INSPIRATION OR ADVICE?

We hope that we’ve demonstrated that the arrival of Shrove Tuesday doesn’t have to derail your health and fitness progress. There’s always a way to take seemingly unhealthy comfort foods and turn them into something that’s delicious and nutritious in equal measure.