recipes for a healthy life

Pan Fried Fish, Black Lentils and Coconut Sauce




I always go for a bit of heat in my food when the weather gets bad and so this week when Storm Barney battered us and I needed something warming and comforting this was a meal based on recipes I have cooked separately but never together. My oh My how well this worked, the spiced lentils were great with the fish and the sauce is a wonderful blend of hot sour spicy and sweet- perfect for a cold windy night. Packed full of health giving spices for a heart warming and great tasting dinner. This won’t take long to put together, get the lentils on and the sauce will take about 10 minutes to have ready and the fish even less.

Pan Fried Hake, Black Lentils and Coconut Sauce – Serves 2

Spiced Black Beluga Lentils
4 oz black Lentils -I soak them overnight
1 pt Chicken Stock
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Garam Masala

Cover the lentils with water, bring to the boil quickly then drain off this water.
Pour in the chicken stock and spices and bring to the boil, simmer gently until cooked.
These black lentils took about 20 minutes but varieties vary so check them as you don’t want a pot of mush
Keep the lentils warm or if you are making in advance, set aside to cool then cover.

Coconut Sauce
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tbsp each of chopped and mashed ginger and garlic
1 small chopped chilli – deseeded if you dont want it too hot
1 tbsp tomato passata
1 400ml tin of cocomut milk
To finish – chopped fresh coriander and chopped spring onions

Add the oil to the pan over a medium hot heat
Add the ginger garlic and chili, then cook out for a few minutes
Add the turmeric and passata, again cook for another minute, add a splash of water if it is getting to dry
Add the coconut milk and stir to combine everything, bring the sauce the boil then reduce to gently simmer until it has
thickened. Then season with 1 tbso each of fish sauce, soy sauce and some palm sugar or brown sugar and the juice of a wedge of lime. Keep seasoning until you are happy with the sauce tasting sweet sour and hot. Meanwhile get the fish ready:-

Pan Fried Hake
2 fillets of hake skinned de-boned, dried with kitchen paper and seasoned
Heat 2 tbsp oil on a hot pan
Add the hake and cook over a medium high heat until golden brown
Add 1 tbsp butter to the pan, flip the fillets over and baste with the butter oil mix
When it is cooked, take out of the pan onto a piece of kitchen paper and keep warm
Reheat the lentils if you cooked them earlier
Add the coriander and spring onion to the coconut sauce then ladle into 2 bowls
Add the lentils into the centre of the bowl
Top with a piece of fish and sprinkle over some more fresh coriander and serve

Mini Plum Cakes with Roasted Orange Ice Cream

While I usually try not to post 2 dessert recipes in a row I couldn’t help myself with this one. It is just so good. The spiced plum cakes are gluten free and work so well with juicy ripe plums and teamed with orange ice cream is a match made in heave. Let’s face it, I do know that not many people can be bothered making ice cream but I have not seen roasted orange ice cream anywhere, it really is very straightforward to make so Please Please do try this, I hope you can hear me say!… This will be amazing at Christmas with plum pudding or any of the other rich desserts eaten at that time of year. For a fruit which I think is somewhat underrated it really comes up trumps in this recipe.



Spiced Plum Cakes

7oz almond paste
1/2 banana
1 egg and 1 egg yolk mashed
2 tbsp almond meal
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
3tbsp butter melted
2 ripe plums
1tbsp coconut palm sugar

Quarter the plums and remove the stone
Slice each in half and place in a bowl with the coconut palm sugar and leave to soften for a while

Beat the almond paste and banana well
Add the eggs and beat well and scrape down the bowl to ensure it is all incorporated.
Whisk the almonds meal, salt and spice together then with a mixer on a low speed add the melted butter and the spiced flour mix to the bowl and mix well until smooth and there are no lumps.
Chill the batter for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 170C
Grease a 12 muffin tin or silicone financier mold if you have it
If you have a piping bag use it to pipe the batter into the tin up to half way, otherwise just spoon in.
Press 1 or 2 plum wedges into the batter and bake for about 20 minutes until they are set and golden brown
Cool for a few minutes in the pan before removing. These are delicious as they are or especially good with the ice cream below.

Roasted Orange ice cream
2 oranges washed quartered but not peeled
480gr milk
480gr cream
120gr sugar
6 egg yolks

Oven at 200C
Line a baking sheet with foil, lay a rack on top and place the oranges quartered on it
Roast them until the skins are blackened – turn them after about 20 minutes and this will take about 40 minutes total time.
Cool them then blend with half the milk
Pour this mixture into a pot with the rest of the milk, all the cream and 50gr of the sugar
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they are light and fluffy
Heat the milk mixture over a medium heat until it is beginning to bubble at the edges
While whisking the eggs, pour about half the milk into them whisking all the while until everything is blended well and there are no sugar lumps
Keeping it off the heat, add the egg mixture back into the rest of the milk until combined. Using a wooden spoon with a flat edge, stir this over a medium heat until the mixture is all warm and starting to hold on the back of the spoon without running off. (Temp will be 180F). It should look thicker.

Turn off the heat, strain the mixture and set it over an ice bath. Stir from time to time until cool and you can cover and put into the fridge overnight before using your ice cream maker or putting it into the ice cream maker once cool and churn as directed.

Apple and Almond Tray Bake with Glazed Blurberries

So I’m not working yet it seems like I have no time to post new recipes !! who knew there was so much out there to occupy my free time… The last 2 months have flown by and I couldn’t honestly tell you what I do every day, apart from lots of cooking (note to self, you have to actually publish the recipes), working out, meeting friends and you know all those little house projects that have been waiting so long for you to to get to, if you only had the time…. Well I still haven’t got to them :-), And to answer again, No I don’t regret my decision, Yes I’m having a great time, and NO, I HAVE NO PLANS FOR WORK, CURRENTLY…. :-)

Now that’s off my chest, here is a list of everything I have been cooking, testing and tweaking…just to prove that I’m not actually watching lots of day time TV … and a recipe for you to try based on delicious Irish Autumn Apples. So lately we have been eating
Spiced Baked Ham
Chicken Parmigiana
Baked Courgette Fries with Red Pepper and Paprika Aioli
Slow cooked Brisket
Oat and Protein Pancakes
Crystalised chocolate nuts
Orange Financier cakes – All my cakes and cookies are GF lately
Chunky Chocolate Oat cookies (GF)
Roast Orange Ice Cream with Plum Tarts (GF)
Apple and Almond Meringue Cake with glazed blueberries (GF)
GF Crusty Bread
Raspberry Souffles
Flapjacks Recipe #3 and Cranberry and Chocolate Chip Muffins.



Apple and Almond Meringue Tray Bake with Glazed Blueberries- Gluten Free

This is equally at home baked as a cake in a round cake tin and serves 8 or so

300gr whole almonds
200gr pureed apples
4 eggs separated
100gr castor or coconut palm sugar
70gr almond flour
zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt

Oven at 160C
Line a 24cm round tin or a 30 by 20 by 5cm tray bake with parchment paper;
Chop the almonds finely (but not to flour) in a food processor
Mix the egg yolks with 50gr sugar until light and creamy
Add the lemon zest, salt, almond flour and pureed apples
Whisk the egg whites and 50gr sugar into stiff peaks
Loose the apple mixture with a tablespoon of the meringue then carefully fold in the rest trying not to loose to much of the air
Pour into your prepared tin and smooth the surface
Into the oven for about 50 minutes until golden brown and cooked through
Cool in the tin for about 15 minutes then remove to fully cool
Serve with some blueberries glazed on the pan with water and a spoon of sugar
Delicious and I hope you think so too!.

Spice Roasted Butternut Squash

Autumn walk

spice onion butternut squsash

It’s the time of year for long walks and food which warms the body and soul. I have switched from salads to roasted vegetables and love adding spices as seasonings. Root veggies are probably my favourite and stand up so well to some gentle spicing. I have taken a leaf from Rick Stein’s book and have been adding red onion to my vegetable tray just before bunging in the oven – they caramelise beautifully and add a delicious kick.

Spice Roasted Squash
Serves 4-6
Oven at 180C
2 Red onions sliced finely
2 tbsp Tomato puree
1 tbsp spice mix from here or your favourite bought spice mix
1 butternut squash peeled, deseeded and sliced

Add the onions to a bowl with the puree and mix well to rub it into the onion
Sprinkle over the spice mix and set aside while you peel and deseed the squash
Lay the squash slices on a flat baking tray and pour over 3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
Cover with the onion mix and roast in a hot oven for about 20 minutes until the squash is cooked through
Serve immediately.

Autumn Plum Frangipane Tart

plum collage

plum bakewell

This tart makes use of delicious plums in abundance right now though you could use nectarines or apples equally. For me though, there is something about this time of year with cold mornings, a touch of frost but warming up in the day that seems right for plums, and this tart is perfect after a weekend walk looking for conkers or blackberries – which would also be equally delicious too!.

Plum Frangipane Tart

Oven at 180C
70gr almond flour
7gr plain GF flour
70gr butter
70gr icing sugar
1 egg

1 Quantity Pastry (Below)
5 ripe plums

Sift almond flour
Add the plain flour and whisk together
Whisk the butter until soft and white
Sift in the icing sugar then add the almond flour mix, beating on low speed until incorporated then increase the speed
and beat until soft and creamy
Beat in the egg until smooth and beaten in. Transfer to a bowl until needed, cover the surface with cling.
This can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days.

To make the pastry, combine 200gr plain flour with 22gr icing sugar with 20gr almond flour
Place 100gr unsalted butter into a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment and cream on medium.
Beat in the flour mix in 2 additions scraping down the bowl from time to time until all fully incorporated.
Add 1 egg and beat well. Empty the dough out onto the counter and knead gently to bring the pastry together.
Wrap the pastry in cling and place in the fridge to chill.

Roll out the dough and line an 8″ tart tin
Fill the pastry shell with the almond cream
Cut the plums into 1/8inch slices
(Poach the plums if they are not very ripe)
Arrange a ring of overlapping plums around the tart
Continue with a second ring which slightly overlaps the first
Arrange the remaining plum slices in the centre

Bake for about 45 minutes until the crust is well browned
Cool to room temp before serving to prevent the juices from running out
Serve with cream or ice cream – delicious


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