mincemeat pudding cake

Do you know Nigella Lawson’s marmalade pudding cake? A little bit soggy or slightly underbaked texture, really moist, chewy and sweet. If you’re from UK I’m sure you know pudding cake texture. If you’ve never tried, I encourage you to try to prepare it – it’s pretty easy and very quick. This mincemeat pudding cake is based on the Nigella’s recipe idea. To be honest, it was supposed to be sticky toffee pudding, although dates were not available in the store, which are the key ingredient of this cake. But instead, my attention was drawn to a jar of mincemeat standing on a shelf with products for baking. If you don’t know what mincemeat is, it is not minced meat at all, but a mixture of dried fruit, raisins, apple, spices and some alcohol like brandy or whiskey. It’s very popular in UK during Christmas period. English recipes from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries describe a fermented mixture of meat and fruit used as a pie filling. Originally, mincemeat always contained meat. The use of spices like clove, nutmeg, mace and cinnamon was common in late medieval and renaissance meat dishes. The increase of sweetness from added sugar made mincemeat less a savoury dinner course and helped to direct its use toward desserts. That’s how instead of sticky toffee pudding I invented mincemeat pudding 😉

In the end, from a few recipes found on the internet, I put together one and here’s what came out. Sweet, quite moist, but quite well-risen pudding cake with a festive character and aroma of burnt sugar. Very Christmasy and smelled amazing!

If you don’t have a jar of mincemeat on hand, you can make your own version of it with raisins, currants, soaked in hot water, then drained and slightly blended. Then mixed with brown sugar, nutmeg, grated apple and some alcohol, like whiskey or brandy. You can also add some more Christmas spices like ginger, cinnamon, orange zest etc. You can use it also as a pie or tart filling.

You can serve mincemeat pudding in two versions: very simple warm (or cold) drizzled with some cream or little bit more fancy – warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream, for an adult version – drizzled with a little bit of Christmas flavour liqueur.

mincemeat pudding cake

NOTE: my measuring cup is 250ml regular glass

INGREDIENTS (for a dish size about 27×27 cm / 10×10 inch):

• 150 g butter
• 6-8 tbsp brown sugar
• about 400 g mincemeat (you can replace it with raisins, currants, soaked in hot water, then drained and slightly blended, then mixed with brown sugar, nutmeg, grated apple and some alcohol, like whiskey or brandy)
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup of plain flour
• pinch of salt
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp baking powder
• for sauce: 250 ml double cream + 3 tsp brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Beat the butter and sugar until smooth, then add the eggs and beat again. Add all the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until combine. Finally, add mincemeat (or mix of dates).
Put the batter into a baking dish, place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. In the meantime, mix cream with brown sugar and pour it over the top of the cake, piercing it in many places with a fork. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, making sure not to burn.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream, although when eaten cold with a spoon straight from the dish it tastes equally good 🙂

Enjoy!

keto chicken korma

Since I’m back at work, I have less time for cooking and experimenting. At least one good thing of being furlough, is that you have plenty time for cooking, eating and trying for new recipes. Now I’m back to my old routine, looking for quick and healthy dinners and meals I can prepare in the morning, dump into my slow cooker and enjoy after coming back from work.

Recently I’ve discovered korma spice blend in my local eco shop, and I’ve already almost emptied it. I’m not the biggest fan of Indian spices, but this one is fantastic. There’s plenty of cinnamon in it, so it not only gives amazing aroma, but also a lot of sweetness. I’ve balanced it with couple spoons of tomato passata, it also gives it a bit more colour to the sauce. I’ve used double cream to make it very creamy, but coconut milk would work even better. For finish use some chopped fresh coriander, which gives this specific flavour. And of course quite a lot of fresh garlic, natural antibiotic and fresh ginger for extra warming effect. Ginger and garlic it’s a great combo for upcoming Autumn and Winter. Especially this year, our bodies needs an extra care and awareness. So it’s good to always have on hand fresh garlic cloves, ginger and when you feel like cold or runny nose is on their way to catch you, you can just finely chop large garlic clove (or use a garlic press) and mix it for example with cottage cheese or natural yoghurt and have this mixture once a day. To make a ginger tea, chop some fresh ginger and boil for about 5 minutes. Drink it while it’s warm but not boiling hot. It will warm you up from the inside on a colder days.

To make korma chicken, you won’t need more than 30 minutes. Remember to find good quality chicken, from local butcher or farmers market. You can serve it with bunch of cooked or fresh veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or leafy greens.

If you can’t find korma seasoning, you can make your own blend using: ground coriander, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, ground cardamom, clove and chilli powder.

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keto chicken korma

INGREDIENTS for two portions + leftovers:

  • 500g chicken thighs
  • 350ml double cream (or a can of coconut milk for no dairy option)
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • about an inch (2.5cm) of fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter
  • about 3 tsp korma blend spice
  • pinch of coarse pepper
  • pinch of natural rock salt
  • about 3 tbsp tomato passata (or 1 tbsp tomato paste)
  • fresh coriander for finish

DIRECTIONS

Chop the chicken in smaller pieces, do the same with onion.

Heat a large skillet adding 2 tablespoons of clarified butter. Toss the chicken and fry on a high heat until it gets golden. Then add some salt and chopped onion. Fry for another couple minutes, so it also gets slightly browned.

Slice or use a garlic press, also finely chop a piece of ginger, and add to skillet. Lower the heat and add all the spices. Give it a good stir so the spices goes everywhere. Add double cream or coconut milk, about 3 tablespoons of passata, and simmer on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

You should get thick, creamy and aromatic sauce. Just check if it’s salty enough, also if you like it a bit more spicy, sprinkle some chilli flakes on top. To finish sprinkle some fresh chopped coriander.

Serve hot with some fresh o cooked veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, or some salad leaves.

Enjoy!

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vegan mango and ginger smoothie

While preparing this post I stumble up on a very interesting article, but before that let me introduce you this delicious tropical flavoured smoothie. If you live in hot climate or your summer time is extremely warm, this kind of drinks will be a good option for you. There’s a reason why tropical fruits grow in tropics. When it’s hot you’re appetite goes down, you sweat a lot, so you need more water. Fresh summer fruits and vegetables, generally raw, have a cooling nature. So if you live in a climate where all year round is hot eating more of raw veggies and fruits will be more natural and healthy for you. Whilst if you live in a climate with four seasons let’s say, Summer will be the best time to treat yourself with some tropical fruits. Diet based on only salads, cocktails or such popular smoothies, will not necessarily work in the cold and snowy Autumn and Winter. Therefore, the Eskimo’s body needs different food than the inhabitant of hot Africa or Australia. A diet dominated by products from a different climate zone, will provide us with the wrong proportions of nutrients (and different nature) and in the long run might not be beneficial to our health. But that’s only my opinion. Although there must be a reason why world was build like that.

Another thing is that large-scale import of products from the other end of the world, is not without impact on the natural environment – generating increased fuel consumption and mass production of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In addition, food transported thousands of kilometres must be properly protected from deterioration – usually by freezing or chemical preservation – which causes it to lose a large part of its original values and body absorbs a lot of different (not necessarily healthy) chemical ingredients along with the fruit. Most of the fruit is transported unripe and gets ripened (or not) in transport, so the fruits you buy in the supermarket has completely different taste, that if they would ripened in its natural habitant.

This, of course, does not mean that we should completely give up products from other climate zones. We live in a world where it would be hard to imagine life without bananas, citrus fruits or cocoa. Although I’m sure there would be many people, who would deal with it without any problems.

That’s why I think informations about food nature, nutrition and more importantly – the way they grow, they way they are transported and preserved, should be clear and evident. So everyone could make a concious decision about what kind of food they want to consume and what outcome they’ll get. But let’s be honest, I’m afraid it’s never going to happen, from obvious reasons. If people would know what they actually consume, how the food is produced, transported and preserved etc., any of the big food companies could probably no longer exists.

That’s why I think spreading the knowledge and awareness is so important.

Now we can come back to that interesting article I’ve stumbled up on while preparing this post. Article comes from Civil Eats website nonprofit news organization, daily news source for critical thought about the American food system. Although I think this problem is not only American, every country has its own laws and regulations regarding food production and preservation. Some of the countries has more restrictions, some of them are more reckless, and unfortunately US is one of them. On Civil Eats website you’ll find many interesting articles about food policies, food and farm labour, health, nutrition, and technology that is used in food industry, not only from US perspective but also European (UK for example). So if you’re interested in this subject I highly recommend checking out this website.

The article I stumbled up on refers to orange juice production – I would never in my life get the idea, that orange juice industry came up with. But lets start from the beginning. We have four types of orange juice (considering the production process) we can buy in the shops.

  • fresh, unpasteurized orange juice, pressed using the Cold Press method (cold pressed). Fresh, unpasteurized juice retains its freshness and value due to the cold pressing of vegetables and fruits. This method allows you to keep the temperature low throughout the entire juice pressing process. This is crucial, because at low temperatures vitamins and enzymes are preserved almost 100%, while preventing the growth of bacteria that initiate the process of spoilage. It is also important to limit the access of air to the juice by pouring it almost under the cork of the bottle. Another important factor that allows juice to maintain their nutritional value is their storage in the cold and dark cartons during transport, protecting against accelerating the process of spoiling and destroying the nutritional values ​​with light
  • made from concentrate – i.e. juices deprived of most water. When the water is eliminated, we are left with a thick and flowing liquid – concentrate. This process usually serves to extend the usefulness of the juice, because without water bacterial growth is inhibited. Among other things, thanks to this, concentrates are cheaper to pack, store and transport. In this process, the taste of the juice may be diluted, which is why some manufacturers use flavor additives. Unfortunately, these are usually artificial compounds produced from fruit waste. To make matters worse, high-fructose corn syrup is often added to fruit concentrates. It happens that artificial colors and flavors are also placed in these products. Most concentrates are filtered, evaporated and pasteurized. They are stored at room temperature or frozen. Most often they are intended for dilution with water
  • pasteurized juices are juices subjected to temperatures ranging from 72 ˚C – 100 ˚C for a specified period of time to kill microorganisms present in the juice. The destruction of bacteria protects the product against spoilage, thanks to which it can be stored on the shelf for a longer period of time, usually from one to several months, without exposing stores to financial losses. However, the process of pasteurization, in addition to bacteria, also destroys many valuable vitamins and antioxidants, which is exactly what we care about most and is the most important for health. Some vitamins, such as vitamin C, may be destroyed by pasteurization up to 90% compared to freshly squeezed juice. So what remains in such juice? Some fiber, fruit sugar, some vitamins and water. Some manufacturers still add synthetic vitamins
  • the last one that Civil Eater writes about is orange juice although not made from concentrate but with new technology which is “aseptic storage”. Process “which involves stripping the juice of oxygen, a process known as “deaeration,” so it doesn’t oxidize in the million gallon tanks in which it can be kept for upwards of a year. When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor.” (source)

What do you think about it? I would never ever imagine that this kind of “magic” can be used to make something as simple as orange juice, that everyone can make by themselves in 3 minutes using own hands. Are we so lazy? In what kind of “only buy cheap” trap we are? And lastly where this world is going? As I said, some of the countries has more restrictions, some of them are more reckless, so it doesn’t mean that every bottle of orange juice is dangerous for your health, but let’s be honest…Don’t you think it’s kind of crazy?

Hopefully after reading this you’ll grab two real oranges, although they might travel to you for thousands of kilometres, and are waxed with some kind of preservative, at least they haven’t spent a year in a tank, and have no extra perfume in it. And I don’t know what’s worse – that they add this kind of chemical or that they don’t need to inform about it on the label?

Oh my goodness!

Next time I’ll find something about bananas.

mango and ginger smoothie

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oranges
  • 1/2 fresh mango
  • 150ml plant milk (coconut will go great with tropical vibe)
  • 1 small banana
  • slice of fresh ginger

DIRECTIONS

Squeeze the juice from two oranges. Peel the ginger. Place all the ingredients in a smoothie maker or use a blender, like I did. Add couple of ice cubes if you want it extra cold. Serve straight away.

turmeric latte – winter blend

You can easily buy ready made blend of turmeric latte, and that’s how I started. But it’s more expensive and less fun, than when you make your own mix. I enjoy making my own blend, I can add as many ingredients as I want, in proportions I like the most. And I love this winter flavor latte. Most often I make hot bulletproof latte for myself, and a smoothie for my partner, that he can take to work.

According to ayurvedic medicine that is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda treats the body as a whole, not just the bunch of organs or systems that are not connected with each other. So in ayurvedic theory of disease, poor digestion is actually the root cause of most disorders. When the food we eat is not digested properly, and the by-product of poor digestion, builds up in the body, clogging the microchannels of the body. Not only does this further block the efficient flow of nutrients to the different parts of the body, weakening the immune system, but also make a good ground for bacteria and diseases.

That’s where the spices helps to make the magic. They not only helps to digest the food, but also to get rid of this unwanted by-product of metabolism. Turmeric, ginger and cinnamon helps to clean your body. Cloves are known to have antiseptic properties (and their smell is often associated with the dentist – oh I know something about it, mixing eugenol everyday for two years). But as with every natural remedies it need to be taken systematically, so they can work gently and gradually.

If you’ve never tried turmeric latte, I highly recommend it. It has a specific taste, but if you’ll like it you’ll love it 😉

 

turmeric latte – winter blend

INGREDIENTS (descending):

  • turmeric
  • cinnamon
  • desiccated coconut
  • cloves
  • ginger

DIRECTIONS

Proportions: Turmeric is your base, so it’s going to be your main ingredient. All depends how much of the blend you want to make. If you only want to try whether you will like it, one full teaspoon will be enough. I add one heaped teaspoon of blend for one cup of latte.

If you want to make a bigger batch, you’ll need a lot more. Add the rest of spices in proportions you like the most. I add quite a lot of cinnamon, because I like it’s sweet, warm and slightly spicy flavor. Coconut is for extra fat and flavor. You can grind it in a coffee grinder, to get more powdery consistency, but I don’t mind bits of coconut in my latte. Cloves gives a wonderful sweetness and aroma. And finally spicy ginger, but not too much, that’s why I add only a little bit.

You can use this blend to make a latte, smoothie or add to your morning porridge (if you eat porridge, ugh… I miss my morning porridge).

Enjoy!