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Brown Sugar Bejewelled Pancake Stack with Strawberry Vanilla Sauce

Some may say that there is a certain element of sadness in a single stack of pancakes. Breakfast, or at least the Sunday variety, is often accompanied by endless chatter or in fact none at all – solitude shared with another as you pour over different sections of the paper. Brunch appears to be an exceptionally social meal, filled with ‘how do you like your bacon?’, ‘shall I push down the plunger on the cafetière?’ and ‘can you pass the magazine section over once you’re done please?’ So to offer up a dish that is single serve for one of the nicest meals of the weekend bar a beautiful roast, it seems a rather odd choice.

Brown Sugar Bejewelled Pancake Stack with Strawberry Vanilla Sauce

I am however finding that I enjoy stolen moments of solitude more and more these days. My weeks are punctuated with the usual calamity of a newsroom, which to those in the know, will understand is a place where one simply cannot work in silence. You tune out the noise and just press on. But in these small pockets of quietness, when all I can hear is the slow rumble of the boiler, the kettle snapping to life and the turn of the page in the latest novel I’m reading, I appreciate every morsel of silence. Even as I type this, the only sounds one can hear are some birds chirping outside my window and the squeaky tapping of the laptop keys. It’s rather nice to just enjoy the silence.

Brown Sugar Bejewelled Pancake Stack with Strawberry Vanilla Sauce

I imagine there are others out there who live alone or often cook for one, and thought a single serving of pancakes would appeal. Instead of offering the usual stack, dripping with viscous maple syrup and bacon so crisp it shatters, I thought I’d take a rather fresh approach, adding a caramelised depth to the pancakes by stirring in a touch of brown sugar and some sweet spices for added warmth. To counteract the mellowness of the dish, bright jewels of pomegranate, raspberry and blueberry litter the stack like sweet and sharp punctuation notes. But the real star I must admit is the strawberry vanilla sauce, a sort of hodge-podge quick jam that will make you long for the pick-your-own season. Strawberry and vanilla work so well together and just bring this vivid pancake stack to life with a jammy sweetness to round it off. Cosy up on the sofa, read a book and keep the kettle on rotation and enjoy those quiet moments to yourself. When this stack appears in front of you after your efforts, you will be glad there is no-one around to steal a bite.

 

 

You Will Need

100g self raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

1 tbsp soft light brown sugar

1/8 tsp cinnamon

A pinch nutmeg

1 egg

125ml semi skimmed milk

 

For the fruit salad

1/3 pomegranate, seeds removed

1 handful raspberries, halved

1 handful blueberries

 

For the Strawberry Vanilla Sauce

65g strawberries, hulled and chopped

15g caster sugar

¼ tsp vanilla paste

2 tbsp water

Mint sprigs, to serve

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and spices then crack the egg into the dry mix. Using a hand held electric whisk, incorporate the egg then slowly add the milk bit by bit until you have a smooth batter that is dropping consistency. Set aside. Combine the fruits in a bowl and also set aside.

Brown Sugar Bejewelled Pancake Stack with Strawberry Vanilla Sauce

For the Strawberry Vanilla Sauce, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and place over a medium heat. As the sauce begins to bubble, compress with a masher to create a thick consistency and continue cooking over a medium heat until slightly jammy yet still pourable. Once finished, pour into a small ramekin. Reheat if required.

Brown Sugar Bejewelled Pancake Stack with Strawberry Vanilla Sauce

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter to grease the pan, wiping down with kitchen roll to avoid excess greasiness. Using a ladle, pour a scant ladleful into the pan and cook until bubbles appear across the pancake. Flip using a fish slice and cook for a further minute before removing to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter until you have three to four pancakes. Stack on a plate and top with the berries. Pour over the sauce and serve with lashings of coffee.

Brown Sugar Bejewelled Pancake Stack with Strawberry Vanilla Sauce

Autumnal Breakfast Rice Pudding (Dairy Free!)

I am really excited to share this recipe with you today. Not just because its two years since my very first post, but because of the lightbulb moment that went off in my mind as I devoured this bowl of rice pudding, standing by a window dressed in flannel tartan jim jams in between large slurps of black coffee. In that moment, I felt like I had finally started to understand free from recipes.

I haven’t mentioned it much on here, but I have been cutting down on my dairy intake, specifically milk, almost to the point where I don’t have it at all. I’ve swapped my little pint of semi-skimmed for almond and coconut milk and to be honest the only place I have noticed the difference is on my waistline. A portion of oats soaked in a good glug of the stuff makes a delicious and filling breakfast and my morning smoothie has a nice nutty edge from the almonds. But I have been reluctant to try cooking with it until I had an intense craving for rice pudding last week. I hesitantly whipped up this batch on a quiet, gloomy October morning and was hit by how simple and delicious it was.  And what’s more, I didn’t even notice it was made with coconut milk.

pumpkin spice rice pudding

I wanted to bring a comforting warmth to this pudding and the use of my favourite pumpkin pie spice filled my kitchen with the sweet and spicy notes of cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. The brown sugar dissolves into a beautiful caramel flavour that works well with just the tiniest amount of vanilla paste. Topped with my current obsession of toasted pecans and a good drizzle of maple syrup, this is the only way to truly kick start your day. What’s more, this recipe makes the perfect single portion. Sorry, I am not sharing mine…

 

You Will Need

70g arborio rice

260ml coconut milk (I use this one) + a little extra if required

1 packed tbsp soft light brown sugar

¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice mix

Dot of vanilla paste (optional)

 

To serve

2 pecans, toasted and chopped

Maple syrup for drizzling

 

Note: Naturally gluten free, risotto rice also makes this breakfast dessert hybrid completely free from however do check the packaging in case it has been processed in a factory handling gluten products, especially if you are medically gluten sensitive.

Four ingredients for autumnal rice pudding

In a heavy bottomed pan, whisk together the coconut milk, brown sugar, spice mix and vanilla if using. Stir through the risotto rice and place over a medium heat until bubbling, stirring occasionally.

making rice pudding in a le creuset

Turn down to low and cover, cooking for 20-25 minutes and stirring occasionally until the rice is soft. You may need a little more coconut milk to loosen the pudding slightly – just stir in to desired consistency then remove from the heat.

Spoon the rice pudding into a bowl and top with toasted pecans and a generous drizzle of maple syrup.

autumnal breakfast rice pudding

Pumpkin Pie Granola

I am a summer baby. I was born in the midst of a heatwave in July 1990 and despite the sunshine, my mother apparently insisted I was brought home swaddled in a blanket. Ever since then I have craved the sunshine months, of which there are far and few between in Scotland, especially up north in windy Aberdeen. The weather here often teases you – today I went for a run in between bursts of showers, howling wind and blasts of heat from the sun. Yet I wouldn’t change it. I like how summer keeps us on our toes – as long as my beloved T in the Park is drenched in sunshine I will be happy with the longer days, clear skies and a mild temperature.

So it should seem surprising that I am bringing you an autumn inspired post today when I should be grasping the last of summer with my finger tips. But the idea of cranberries, toasty pecans and the warming notes from a smash of spices were too much for this summer baby to resist. I think I may have fallen in love with the amber tones of autumn.

pumpkin pie spice mix

Aberdeen is such a winter city it almost hurts. Because of its proximity to the sea we are often battered with winds, chills and the dreaded May snow. But after a few months of enduring its harshness, I have come to find it slightly endearing. I am starting to find myself looking forward to pumpkin spice lattes, my leather studded boots and my cosy winter coat. So perhaps it isn’t at all strange I want my breakfast to remind me of the weather to come.

It may seem a lot of faff to make your own granola but I promise this recipe will absolutely change your mind. Although the supermarket bags are cheap, a quick scan of the ingredients almost always lists sugar and even worse, palm sugar, near the top. This version omits the need for any sweetener other than the natural taste of honey and the spices and cranberries more than make up for a processed sugary taste. Olive oil may seem a strange replacement for butter, but as Sara adds in her book, the flavour disappears as the granola cooks, leaving the warming scent of pumpkin pie to permeate your kitchen. It may not be autumn yet, but this summer baby is enjoying bowls of this granola in the last of the sunshine.

 

Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook

 

You Will Need

90g pumpkin or butternut squash puree (see tip)

85ml honey

2 ½ tbsp olive oil

¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used Joy the Baker’s recipe)

210g porridge oats

55g pecans, chopped

3 tbsp sesame seeds

Pinch of salt

65g dried cranberries

Making homemade pumpkin puree

Tip: In the UK, canned pumpkin puree can be difficult to find but it is much nicer to skip the preservatives and make your own. Culinary pumpkins aren’t in season yet but butternut squash works just as well. Peel and cut into 1cm cubes, place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil before placing in a preheated oven at 200oc/180oc/Gas Mark 4. Keep your eye on the pieces and turn as they begin to brown. Once soft, remove from the oven. Measure out 90g and blend in a food processor or using a stick blender then use as required. The remaining pieces are great cold in salads or could be used to make this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

pumpkin pie granola ingredients

Preheat the oven to 170oc/ 150oc fan/ Gas Mark 3. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, honey, olive oil and pumpkin pie spice.

Mixing Pumpkin Pie Granola

Once combined, add the porridge oats, pecans, sesame seeds and a pinch of salt. Stir until combined and the mixture is wet.

Baking Pumpkin Pie Granola

Spread the mixture on the largest baking sheet you can find and place in the preheated oven. Keep checking every 10 minutes and break up the granola with two forks to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick together. Continue until the granola has been in the oven for around 35 to 45 minutes and feels dry.

Pumpkin Pie Granola Close Up

Remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes before stirring in the cranberry pieces. This will make the berries juicer when served as they soak up the heat from the granola. Once completely cooled, carefully scoop into a 1.5 litre kilner jar and store for 2 -3 weeks.

Pumpkin Pie Granola with Peach Jam and Greek Yoghurt

I am currently enjoying this granola with some low fat Greek yoghurt let down with a little almond milk and a spoonful of my Quick Vanilla Peach Jam. How do you eat yours?

Strawberries and Cream Pancake Stack

In hindsight, I should have made pancakes.

At 11pm on Tuesday I was ready to give up the baking game. On a wire rack in the kitchen sat two cakes; one not dissimilar to a rock bun, the other the look and texture of a pink rubber glove. I flipped out, poured a fishbowl of chardonnay and announced I was taking up sewing. I just can’t do this.

What I should have said was I can’t do everything. This week has probably been the most jam packed of my career so far. Each day after work I had something on – Monday I took a sewing class. Tuesday I threw myself off a cliff in the name of charity. Wednesday I had Bake Club and Thursday I finally got my hair chopped and went on a flat cleaning spree. By Friday I was utterly exhausted.

But it was Tuesday that had me denouncing flour and sugar and looking up bright jewel-like sewing machines on the John Lewis website. After my extremely nerve-wracking but rather enjoyable abseil, I rushed off home to whip up two genoise sponges that were set to form the base of my strawberries and cream themed bake for Pinnies and Petticoats this month. Alas my tired brain and half-arsed attempt at folding in flour at 10pm meant the kitchen became a cake disaster zone. Something had to give – and it was the cakes.

Strawberries

Luckily everyone at bake club was lovely about my cake disaster, and I soon decided that perhaps I wasn’t ready to give up the flour and sugar just yet. I began to plan my sweet strawberries and cream revenge – except this time around it would be to reward myself for my busy week with a lazy Saturday brunch.

Stacks of pancakes and buckets of black coffee are usually traditions reserved for Sunday morning. But after a long week of doing things, a lazy Saturday seemed the perfect opportunity to whip out some strawberries and cream cheese to make a delicious dessert-style brunch. Sweetened with a quick strawberry puree, these pancakes are light and fluffy with a sweet tang from the red fruit and a hint of warmth from vanilla. Stacked high with more fresh berries and a sweet cream cheese frosting, this is pancake-making that simply oozes class. And with Wimbledon just around the corner, gearing up to get the country tennis mad once more, there is no better way to celebrate than with a strawberries and cream inspired brunch. Game, Set and Match to pancakes – who wants cake for breakfast anyway?

 

Serves two (or one greedy person!)

You Will Need

100g self raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tbsp caster sugar

1 large egg

100ml milk

¼ tsp vanilla paste

1 strawberry

A knob of butter for frying.

 

To serve

6-7 strawberries, sliced

3 tbsp cream cheese

1 tbsp icing sugar

¼ tsp vanilla paste

Pancake ingredients

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and caster sugar. Crack the egg into the bowl and whisk together. Add the milk a splash at a time, whisking to a smooth batter. Whisk in the vanilla paste.

Making Pancakes

On a chopping board, cut the stalk off the strawberry then mash to a paste with the back of a fork. Scrape into the batter then whisk to combine.

Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add tablespoons of the batter to the pan. Once the pancakes begin to bubble, flip over and cook for a further minute. Remove from the pan and keep warm under a clean tea towel. Repeat until the batter is all used up.

To make the cream cheese frosting, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla. To serve, spread the frosting on each pancake and stack, adding two sliced strawberries between each layer. Eat quickly before it topples over!

Pancake Stack Cut Into

Blueberry honey buttermilk scones

Baking comes in many forms for different people. For some, it presents itself as a yearly birthday cake; dusting off flour from the back of the cupboard and grumbling about who hid the cake tins. For others it’s a job; weighing, precision and timely execution. For most, it is about impulse; an offer on luxury chocolate that suggests a weighty ganache to be slicked over a chocolate cake; a desire to recreate a bake nibbled at in a cafe; or even a glimpse of a magazine (this month’s Good Food for example) that winks a rainbow cake from its shining cover, suggestively saying “oooh, bake me”.

Ok, that last bit was weird.

But it’s true. Impulse is what drives me to bake 95% of the time (the other 5% for bake sales and occasions).Yet I’ve managed to go two weeks without blogging and despite an aching inside of me to post, no words, recipes or ideas have sprung forth from my fingertips. I’ve beendreaming up unrealistic plans of productivity but when the 6am alarm chimes a chance to catch the early blog post, I roll over and press snooze. Such is life.

I’m not a blogger who sticks to schedules. All the best ones do; they announce they are going on holiday and pre-live three posts and leave an automated comment-response message. They post regimentally on certain days of the week. They have moleskins filled with ideas and notes and tweaks. I have a big pad I rip shopping notes out of, attempt to remember recipes in my head and never ever post with any semblance of regularly. Does that make me a bad blogger?

These scones are a lesson in patience. Not that they took long to make or are particularly difficult, but that it has taken me the full week to blog them. And that is ok. I could have rushed; photographed fuzzy, distorted photos and bashed up a post about cleaning the bathroom and linking the bleach bottle in some banal way to the colour of blueberries. But I think its best we don’t talk about bleach scones. Euughhh.

No, my name is Victoria Sponge Pease Pudding and I am an impulse baker/blogger. These scones were a week long blogging project, but by Friday they are firmly in a corner of the internet that is all the better for imposing some restraint. Blogging lessons yo.

But scones. Fat and rotund. The kind of scones that need no real introduction or topping – just slice up and eat. Warm, the berries burst and add a jammy depth of texture that requires no other condiment. A sour tang from the buttermilk is given a honey smackdown of sweetness and a painted top with a crunch of sugar equals scone-on heaven. It’s time to restrain me now; I gotta bake another batch…

 

Adapted slightly from Joy the Baker

You Will Need

450g plain flour

¾ tsp salt

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 ½ tsp baking powder

A pinch grated nutmeg

170g cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 egg

2 tbsp honey

180ml buttermilk, plus extra for brushing

150g fresh blueberries

1 tbsp light brown sugar to finish

Blueberry Honey Buttermilk Scone ingreidents

Preheat an oven to 200oc/180oc fan/Gas Mark 6. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and nutmeg. Rub in the butter, moving the fat between your fingertips with your thumbs. Repeat until the mix resembles breadcrumbs, with the butter roughly the size of peas.

diced butter

Lightly whisk together the egg, honey and buttermilk and add all at once to the dry mix. Stir through to form a soft, shaggy dough then fold through the blueberries. Tip onto a floured work surface and lightly knead to a smooth-ish dough. Take care not to crush the berries too much at this stage, as they will make the dough wetter.

brushed with buttermilk and topped with sugar

Roll out to a 1 inch thickness and cut out with 2 inch sized round cutters. Roll and repeat with scraps until you have 12-13 scones. Brush with buttermilk and top with a sprinkling of brown sugar then bake for 15-18 minutes until golden. Serve warm with blueberry jam, butter or nothing at all. Add a hefty black coffee for a sunshine spring breakfast.

single scone

Lemon and Poppy Seed Pancakes

I’m always late to the party. I have the best of intentions, the slickest of plans and a pile of cookies ready in a sandwich bag to bring along to any occasion. But in life, things like bad hair days, ripped tights and poor pancakes ruin the fun, leaving me flustered, upset and late. I always do it but it never gets easier.

On Shrove Tuesday last week, I hummed and hawed over posting a recipe I knew wasn’t right. I tried the two ingredient pancake method that has crept across the internet of late, but there was nothing delicious or photogenic about these things. A mashed banana and a couple of eggs do not a good pancake make, no matter how suagr-free, gluten-free and diet-suitable it might be. They didn’t photograph well or taste of anything other than rubbery baby food and I had to stuff the idea to the back of the SD card archives. Ho hum.

So Pancake Day passed me by. Last year I had a lot of fun with my flatmates making crepes at 11pm at night, slathering with sugar and lemon (and Nutella at the bequest of others). The next day we made fluffy, American style pancakes with caramelised apples and ate perched on the worktop as the flat became overrun with parents and friends as usual. This year, I made a batch of cookies and watched Call the Midwife. Fun, but certainly not like the memories of last year.

I share Emma of Poires au Chocolat’s take on pancake eating, in that alone there is a certain amount of simple pleasure in a rolled up crisp crepe with sticky lemon juices mingled with a shower of caster sugar. But I also feel that the shared moments are also wonderful, and my pancake day ended up being five days later with my boyfriend, with stacks of these lemon and poppy seed pancakes, crisp bacon and buckets of black coffee. With the first real sunshine of the year; bright and vivacious with a brisk chilled air, my 2013 pancake memories are far better deliciously late than blandly on-time.

These pancakes combine a classic partnership that stays relevant for a reason. The flavour relationship exudes spring with its yellow and bluish flecks of colour in its sharp zest, sweet juice and crunchy seeds. Fluffy and light, this stack adds just the right amount of sweetness to salted back bacon and a generous drizzle of maple syrup.

 

You Will Need

200g self-raising flour

3 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp poppy seeds

Zest of 1 lemon, juice of ½

2 eggs

200ml milk

A knob of butter, for frying

Pancake Ingridients

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and poppy seeds. Stir through the lemon zest then make a well in the centre of the dry mix. Crack in the two eggs and whisk with a hand mixer until incorporated. Add half the milk and whisk, adding the rest until the batter is smooth. Squeeze in the lemon juice and whisk again.

Pancakes and Eggs

In a large non-stick frying pan, melt a knob of butter over a medium heat and spread across the pan. Dollop in tablespoons of batter, cook until bubbling, then flip and cook for a further minute. Remove and rest on a clean tea towel. Repeat until the batter is all used up then serve with crisp bacon and black coffee.

Brunch with Pancakes

Pop Tart Real Talk:

These pop tarts are a revelation and a tick off my 4 Simple Goals list (flaky pastry, yeh!)

These pop tarts are considered breakfast because there is a hint of maple in that sticky glaze on top of that crispy pastry.

These pop tarts eat up all those pumpkin carving leftovers, ensuring no waste and more happy faces.

So, if I said it, would you agree that Pumpkin Spice Pop Tarts with Maple Glaze are an extremely positive force of nature and must be baked immediately? Good, I will continue.

I found myself going a little bit Great British Bake Off on this post, scraping the bottom of my tarts with a knife, inspecting the chunks of butter for the right size as they are rubbed into the flour and amending my go-to sweet spice blend with fragrant cardamom. I was in it for the top gong, and even though I was only competing with myself, I feel like the star baker badge has been firmly placed on my chest.

Pop tarts were never something I liked as a child, but stripped back and made homemade, they are wonderful – essentially a sweet portable pie with a fluffy fragrant filling, flaky buttery pastry, a tang of maple and a crunch of salted pumpkin seeds. Simple and full of goodness, these pretties are the perfect accompaniment to my morning coffee in the office.

If you think adapting this recipe with fresh strawberries, vanilla and thick cream, topping with strawberry sugar would be an awesome idea, I’d say right on – Wimbledon sweet pasties! But for now, let’s stick with pumpkin spice, before I go all cranberries and apricots on you. Happy November readers!

 

Adapted from Joy the Baker 

You Will Need

For the Pie Crust

300g self raising flour

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon salt

225g unsalted butter

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

For the Filling

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

2-3 cardamom seeds

1 mug of pureed pumpkin (around 1 halloween pumpkin carvings worth)

50g caster sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs (one to seal the edges of the tarts and to glaze)

For the Glaze

75g icing sugar

1 teaspoon maple syrup

2 teaspoons milk

Salted pumpkin seeds to decorate

Tip 1: This is the perfect recipe to use up the insides from carving a pumpkin. For crisp seeds, place on a baking tray and roast in a hot oven for 5-10 minutes until crisp and brown then season with salt. Perfect for snacking and topping these tarts. The pumpkin puree can be made by placing the innards of a carved pumpkin in a saucepan and covering with water. Bring to the boil and cook until tender, then drain and leave to steam dry in the colander. Smooth with a wooden spoon and squeeze out any excess water. Use puree within 5 days and keep refrigerated.

Tip 2: The off cuts of pie crust and leftover filling make cute miniature pies. Cut circles from the leftover pastry and place in a mini cupcake tin, pricking with a fork. Fill with pumpkin spice puree and bake for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is crisp. Top with salted pumpkin seeds.

To make the pie crust, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Rub in the butter to the size of peas (this isn’t shortcrust, so don’t go too fine with the crumbs). At this point, the dough should hold if squeezed together. Whisk the egg and milk together and pour into the buttery mix. Stir to combine, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly until it comes together. Split the dough in half and wrap in clingfilm, then refrigerate for around 30 minutes.

To make the filling, grind the cinnamon, ginger and cardamom pods together in a mortar and pestle until fragrant. Add to a saucepan with the pumpkin puree and heat until the spices fill the room. Remove and place into a bowl and stir through 1 egg, sugar and salt. Place in the fridge until needed.

With one ball of dough, roll out on a floured surface to around 1mm thickness. Cut into a neat rectangle then cut into 6 rectangles. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment and chill as you repeat the process with the second batch of dough.

Beat the other egg and then trace the edges of the cut rectangles with a pastry brush. Add a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each tart, and then top with a pastry rectangle. Seal the edges with a floured fork, pressing down the joins and then refrigerate as the oven comes up to temperature.

Preheat the oven to 180oc/160oc fan/gas mark 4. Brush the tops of the tarts with the remaining egg wash, prick with a fork then bake for around 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the tray carefully with a palette knife and leave to cool.

Combine all the ingredients for the glaze together then drizzle over the tops of the tarts. Top with salted pumpkin seeds and serve.

Is there anything more refreshing to dine on in the morning sunlight than fruit salad? It’s like a morning palate cleanser, clearing up your mind after a long languid lie in. Gone are the days when fruit salad was in a large Pyrex bowl, filled with halved grapes and soggy banana; the fruit salad of the future is pretty, sweet and full of grown up textures. Raw rhubarb, one of the highlights of the season, is julienned, macerated overnight with ruby blush grapefruit and served with pretty last minute additions. Fresh orange, segmented and served with its juice, is added alongside little lemon diamonds, glistening like tart jewels. A last minute addition of frozen berries are sprinkled over, acting like fruity ice cubes that cool the dish down for the morning. Topped off with a delicate chiffonade of mint, this is a breakfast for kings. Goodbye mushy banana, there’s a new fruit salad in town.

 

Serves 1

You Will Need

1 10cm piece of rhubarb

1 ruby blush grapefruit

1 orange

1 slice of lemon

A small handful of frozen berries

A small handful of mint leaves

Caster sugar, if required

 

Place the stick of rhubarb on a chopping board, flat side down and slice lengthways into thin strips. Cut each strip into three matchsticks and place in a bowl.

Top and tail the grapefruit with a serrated sharp knife, and carefully cut down the skin, removing the bitter pith and exposing the flesh. Using a small vegetable knife, cut into each segment and tease out the slices of grapefruit. Once finished, add to the bowl of rhubarb and squeeze over the skins and pith to extract any extra juice. Cover with clingfilm and leave to macerate for at least 20 minutes, but preferably overnight.

Once ready to eat, segment the orange in the same way as the grapefruit and add to the bowl. Carefully cut the skin off the lemon slice and with your fingers, pull out the little segments and add to the fruit. Toss the salad together and taste; if you prefer your fruit a little sweeter, add a sprinkling of caster sugar.

Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle over the frozen berries. Roll up the mint leaves loosely and slice into ribbons. Sprinkle over the salad and serve.

If you liked this post, then please click on the link on the right to nominate me for best food blog at the Cosmo Blog Awards 2012! Thanks!

For a while now, I have been threatening to make a spinach smoothie, which has been met with disgust by my flatmates. Wilted spinach pasta is tasty. Spinach salads are fine. Home-made Saag Aloo is positively divine. But the idea of spinach blended down into an Incredible Hulk shade-of-green smoothie is a thought that is positively terrifying for them. And honestly, I was a little sceptical too.

But just one sip of this breakfast smoothie and you will feel invincible. Its 10am. You’ve just had two portions of greens before even thinking about work. You could write a novel, you could whizz through the housework. You could go jogging. Or in my case, you could go to work when the sun is pouring through the sky and you’re stuck indoors in an ice rink. No big deal, the sun will be there when you finish work. It’s summertime after all. And it’s time for getting into those bikinis.

Ok, so maybe this smoothie won’t make you Heidi Klum beach-ready, but it will make you feel like you can take on the world. Packed full of iron-rich spinach, cooling cucumber, a twist of zesty lime and thickened up with some natural yoghurt, this breakfast smoothie is definitely on the good-food list. And if you’re feeling a tad sweet, blend in some honey for a natural sugar high. Its ok, the spinach cancels it out. And remember to add the ice cubes, because this baby is at its best chilled right down. And of course, because its summer, ice cubes are a necessity in all drinks. Natürlich.

So bring it on summer, that bikini hidden away in my cupboard will be making an outing.

 

Makes 1 Smoothie

You Will Need

A large handful of spinach leaves, washed

¼ cucumber, washed and sliced

1 heaped tablespoon natural yoghurt

A squeeze of lime

A teaspoon of honey (optional)

2-3 ice cubes

 

Place the spinach, cucumber and yoghurt in a blender and whizz until smooth. Alternatively place ingredients in a jug and whizz with a hand blender. Stir through the lime juice and taste. Add honey for a sweeter taste if desired, then blitz again. Pour into a glass or jar and add the ice cubes. Leave for 5-10 minutes to allow the ice cubes to chill the smoothie before drinking.

I appear to be on some sort of liquid diet at the moment. I think in the past two weeks, me and my flatmates have consumed over eight different types of smoothies, milkshakes and frappacinos, interspersed with the solid food group that is Kettle Chips. My logic, however skewed, is that all that fruit means I’m allowed to eat a large bag of said crisps as I watch Masterchef. Now there’s a foodie-contradiction.

But I’m reforming my ways. Partly due to having no Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar crisps left, but also my new breakfast regime. Gone are the days of two coffees and then finally eating about 2pm, I am now in love with my freezer muffins and a morning burst of fruit. Ok, so I might sneak in the odd coffee, but I’m trying to be good, honest. And what better way to do so than sip a smoothie that’s crammed full of vitamin C?

Kiwis are the answer it would appear. Filled with vitamins and a good source of fibre, they are the perfect start to a morning smoothie. Add a couple of juicy pears, a sliced apple and a squeeze of lemon and you have a breakfast smoothie filled with goodness in a totally healthy shade of green. Serve up with a straw and a Blueberry and Lemon Crumble Muffin and the day will start to look brighter already.

Makes 1 large smoothie

You Will Need

2 kiwis

2 pears

1 small apple

A squeeze of lemon

Slice the kiwis in half and scoop out the insides into a jug. Squeeze the skins as well to get out as much juice as possible and discard. Peel the pears and apple, then core and slice. Add to the jug alongside a squeeze of lemon and blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Taste and adjust with more lemon or a dash of honey if required. Serve immediately with a straw and a couple of ice cubes alongside a breakfast muffin.