Foodie adventures in York (low FODMAP style)

IMG_20150724_123053 (1)

As I talked about in my last post, I’m now on a low FODMAP diet. This can make things difficult at the best of times, particularly when out and about. York is a very foodie city, which can be lovely but it’s more of a torment for me right now. Last week, I found myself alone at home with nothing to do but await my train the following day, so I took myself out into York’s cobbled streets to see where I would find myself. The city truely feels like home now and I was happy to wander aimlessly all day, but inevitably, my stomach rules and I knew I would need nourishment.

The Shambles – perhaps the oldest and loveliest part of the city – has a wonderful daily market with fresh fruit and vegetables, a butcher’s and a fishmonger’s, as well as stands selling burgers, sandwiches and all the lunchtime staples. The main issue for me on this diet is that gluten intolerance leaves me unable to grab a sandwich while out. There is a little deli I’ve passed so many times, tucked away in the market but what I had not noticed before was the menu outside; they sell salads and sandwiches to take away. I ordered a salad pot, which included basic salad topped with a choice of 2 side salads and a choice of main from anything in their stunning and extensive stunning counter, I chose – after much deliberation –IMG_20150724_131206 courgette and tomato salad, picorino peppers and their ‘famous’ crab pate (it deserves fame, I can tell you).

IMG_20150724_131206

IMG_20150724_131644I wandered a little more and found myself inevitably craving something sweet. The problem with low FODMAP is that so many fruit and vegetables that are not normally problematic for people become inedible. For those looking for dairy free or vegan food, there are lots of options. A vegan friend of mine took me to a gorgeous little cafe called goji which serves an amazing menu of vegetarian and vegan food (including vegan milkshakes!!). Instead, I decided to explore La Cremeria, a cute little ice cream parlour which promised dairy-free sorbet options. They had 3 sorbets on offer and I ordered 2 scoops of lemon-earl grey. I went for 2 scoops since it was only 50p more and I thought I wouldn’t get much for my £2 just getting one scoop. As usual, I underestimated the generosity of northern portions and was handed a pot overflowing with creamy delicious-ness.

IMG_20150724_145206IMG_20150724_131241

I found a bench in a relatively quiet spot behind the minster to sit and enjoy my sorbet and got into a conversation with a street sweeper on his break. I’ve been here 2 years and it still surprises me how friendly and open people in the north of England tend to be compared to those in the south. All in all, despite the clouds in the sky, I ended up having a wonderful day of good food and lovely people no further from home than my beautiful little city.

FODMAP-ing fun

Gluten free and dairy free dark chocolate macaroons!
Gluten free and dairy free dark chocolate macaroons!
Gluten free and dairy free dark chocolate macaroons!

Something I haven’t brought up here before is something I’ve been dealing with for a couple of years now, and from the sounds of it, I’m not alone. Anyone can suffer IBS, though it’s twice as common in women as in men. The causes and symptoms vary a lot, and as such, it can be very difficult to treat. So far, nothing has proven effective for helping me but most recently, I’ve been placed on a low FODMAP diet.

FODMAP: Fermentable Oligo-, Di-,Mono-saccharides And Polyols. These are short chain carbohydrates (oligosaccharides), disaccharides,monosaccharides and related alcohols that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. I’ll spare you the details but it essentially leaves me with a very restricted diet, excluding lactose and gluten.

All in all, it’s not easy to find low FODMAP recipes so to help my fellow IBS sufferers, I am going to be posting some alongside the regular stuff. But don’t get put off! They’ll still be delicious, plus lactose and gluten free!

More exciting stuff…I have an instagram! Yes, this is totally just an excuse for gratuitous foodie photos but that’s fine, right? Check it out

Nutty falafel pita (and why being vegan doesn’t need to be so hard)

DSC_0262

Any foodie who finds themselves in London with a rumbling stomach, head to Camden market. The area is one of the most vibrant parts of London and a must-visit for any London tourist. The stalls sell an eclectic mix of crafts, bric-a-brac, clothing and accessories. But the highlight, and of course, my favourite part is the vast mix of food stalls selling every cuisine imaginable. I just so happened to find myself there last week during a temporary vegan high, on the hunt for Cookies and Scream (vegans, you can thank me later). Unfortunately, the rest of the food market is not so vegan friendly, but I was not deterred, and quickly found myself drawn to the stands making fresh falafel. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and served in giant soft wraps with salad and chilli sauce, I could not have asked for anything more.

In honour of those beautiful wraps, the next segment of my sandwich-y adventures will be my own take on a falafel pita. Enjoy!

DSC_0262
For the falafel
3/4 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
40g each pistachios, pecans, cashews
1 tbsp ground almonds
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp fennel
1 tsp baking powder

Soak the chickpeas overnight, allowing to expand until you have around 1.5 cups.
The following day, preheat the oven to 200°C
Place the onion and garlic into a food processor and process until finely chopped.
Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse. The dough will come together but keep it slightly rough.
I baked the falafel to save the hassle of deep frying and with the oven on a high temperature, they will come out wonderfully crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.
Form 15 roughly tablespoon sized balls and place them on a sheet of baking parchment. Bake for 15 minutes, but turn every 5 minutes to ensure they are done evenly.

This recipe makes 5 servings of 3 falafel

For the pita
1 fresh pita bread
1 slice of aubergine – about 0.5cm thick and as long as the pita
1 tbsp greek yogurt
half a white cabbage leaf
3 homemade falafel (still warm from the oven)
1 salad tomato
a drizzle of tahini
a sprinkle of paprika
coriander for garnish

Heat a griddle pan and cook the aubergine for a few minutes on either side until softened.
Slice open the pita bread.
Spoon in the yogurt, then add the aubergine and cabbage leaf, the falafel, and sliced tomato.
Drizzle over the tahini and garnish with the paprika and coriander.
Serve warm.

PB&J French toast

DSC_0248

I couldn’t do a sandwich series without including a guilty pleasure of my own: peanut butter and jam sandwich. Of course, I had to do my own take on it and this baby was born. It’s less of a sandwich and more of a dessert…and oh my, what a dessert…

Any favourite sandwiches you want to see reinvented here in the future, leave a comment!

Ingredients

For the filling
half a cup strawberries (around 15) halved
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp chunky peanut butter
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt

For the toast
1 inch slice fresh white bread

For the “French”
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk

icing sugar and strawberries to decorate

Add the ingredients for the filling to a small pan and heat gently until everything is combined and the strawberries have become soft and started to break down slightly. This will take about 5 minutes.

With a sharp knife, cut along the top of the bread slice, halving it and cut down to form a pocket inside the bread, without slicing the other sides. Fill the bread with the strawberry, peanut butter mix.

In bowl large enough for the bread to lay flat, whisk together the milk and eggs. Place the slice of bread in this and leave to soak for about a minute. Turn the bread over and allow both sides to fully soak up the mixture.

Heat the butter in a large frying pan. Once it has melted fully, place the sandwich in the pan and fry for about 4 minutes on either side, until the egg is cooked and the sandwich is slightly browned.

Serve…

DSC_0248

Some recent and exciting news: my recipes are popping up around and about. My seedcake recipe was posted in the stunning, eloquent and unusual Ernest Journal, a relatively new publication and already a favourite of mine. Check them out!

A soup recipe from my blog will also be popping up on supermarket shelves around the UK later this year! I will tell you more nearer the time…
DSC_0251

Green goodness sandwich

Green goodness sandwich

I really love a good sandwich. As a lunch staple, they often become overdone, uninspired and generally dull. It makes me sad to see housemates slap a couple of pieces of ham between two slices of white bread because there’s a sort of magic in a sandwich. It’s like a contained salad: fresh veg or cooked with oozing cheese, by holding everything together in a single handful, it’s like an entire meal in each bite. Unless you’re like my dad, who part of each component onto his meal into a single forkful, resulting in an unappetising sludge, there’re few other foods where you can enjoy such a range of tastes and textures in a single mouthful. So in the next few weeks, I will offer some inspiring sandwich recipes – from healthy lunches to decadent cheese toasties – in the hopes they will encourage you to branch out with your creativity next time you need to pack lunch…

To kick it all off, we have my Green Goodness sandwich, inspired by The Bojon Gourmet’s Green Goddess sandwich.

For one sandwich…
Half a ripe avocado
1 teaspoon natural yogurt
half a teaspoon tomato puree
half a teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

2 slices of fresh walnut bread (or other bread of choice – best something earthy with seeds in!)
A handful of wild rocket
2 thin slices of bramley apple

Start by mixing the first group of ingredients into avocado mash.
Spread this on one slice of bread, top with rocket and apple and final bread slice.
Simple. Healthy. Utterly delicious.

Green goodness sandwich

Green goodness ingredients

IMG_5652

Time for tea: more recipes

Tea is more than a drink: it’s a culture, a history. Here are all the recipes in my time for tea series along
with some other fantastic tea recipes and posts. Enjoy!

Lapsang souchong pulled mushroom gyoza
Lapsang souchong pulled mushroom gyoza
Rooibos chilli chocolate ice cream
Rooibos chilli chocolate ice cream
Traditional Welsh Bara brith
Traditional Welsh Bara brith
Green tea miso bowl
Green tea miso bowl
Earl grey lemon drizzle fairy cakes
Earl grey lemon drizzle fairy cakes
Chamomile cake with honey frosting at A Cozy Kitchen
Street-Style Chinese Tea Eggs at Food52
Earl grey ice cream with blackberry swirl at Food52
Duck with saltanas and jasmine tea from the Telegraph
Tea rituals around the world from Condé Nast Traveler

Time for tea: Green tea miso soba bowl

DSC_0195

For me, there is little that feels more comforting and nourishing than a big bowl of noodle soup. Green tea is often touted for it’s health benefits, so why not add another level of warmth to this delicious broth.

DSC_0199

Green tea miso soba bowl

90g soba noodles
1 heaped teaspoon green tea
90g miso paste
50g frozen peas
2 large spring onions
Black pepper to taste
1 egg

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the noodle. Cook for 2 minutes and drain.
Steep the green tea in 400ml of hot water for 3 minutes and strain. Add the miso paste to the tea and mix to dissolve.
Finely slice the spring onion.
Add everything back to the pan except the egg. Stir and bring to a simmer.
Make a dip in the noodles – a little cradle for the egg. Crack the egg in and place a lid on the pan. Keep on a low simmer for 4 minutes, until the white is cooked.
Serve.

DSC_0201

Time for tea: Pulled mushroom gyoza

Lapsang souchong pulled mushroom gyoza

Lapsang souchong was first introduced to me by a friend as “bonfire tea”. I was immediately caught by the name. Food can be smoky, but tea like a bonfire? A single sip and I was blown away. The smell alone is enough to get the idea. Lapsang might not be to everyone’s taste. Personally I can’t drink more than half a cup before I feel as though I’ve actually been smoking. This unique flavour is acheived by actual smoking over pinewood. Even if the tea isn’t to your taste, it adds an amazing depth, warmth and, dare I say, smokiness to recipes.

DSC_0148

Gyoza wrappers
I measure this by volume: just use 4 times flour to water. This makes it really easy to scale the measurements up and down.

2 cups plain flour
0.5 cups boiling water
pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix to combine.
When the dough forms a ball, tip it onto a clean work surface and knead until elastic. Add a little more boiling water a tbsp at a time as necessary.
Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Filling

300g closed cup mushrooms
1 mug Lapsang Souchong, strongly brewed (4 minutes)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tsp mirin
Tbsp groundnut oil
2 spring onions
2 clove garlic
thumb sized piece of ginger

Additional tbsp groundnut oil

Heat the oven grill/broiler to 200°C.
Remove the base of the mushroom stalk. Halve the mushrooms, top to base, and place on tin foil. Place these under the grill for 5 minutes until beginning to brown but do not allow to burn. They give off a lot of water so I’d advise leaving the oven door ajar when you take them out to allow some to evaporate.
Place the mushrooms on a chopping board and use two forks to tear the mushroom into strips as you would pull pork.
Set the mushrooms in a colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to allow some excess liquid to drain.

Set the tea in a small pan and boil for about 3 minutes to begin reducing. Add the soy, sweet chili and mirin and allow to simmer for a further 2 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large wok. Finely slice the ginger, spring onions and garlic and add to the wok. Stir fry these for 30 seconds then add the mushroom. Keep everything moving in the wok as you cook by stirring. Cook the mixture for a further minute then add the tea mix. Cook until the excess liquid has evaporated.

Roll the dough into a 1 inch log and cut them into 1 inch sized cubes. Roll each of these out until they are thin enough that you can see light through them, then use a 8cm diameter cookie cutter to cut into a perfect circle.
Place 1 1/2 tsp filling into the centre of each wrapper and fold the wrappers in half, bringing the edges together, fold into crimps.

Brush with a very fine layer of oil and place in a steamer. Place the steamer over a pan of boiling water for 12 minutes.

Add the additional to a frying pan and heat. Once the gyoza has finished steaming. Place it in the pan and fry for 2 minutes or until the base is crispy.