Warming, winter ideas for the slow cooker…

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It’s getting colder outside now and I don’t know about you, but I have dusted off the Slow Cooker and started creating some hearty healthy meal ideas. There is nothing better than returning home from work to a house full of the beautiful smell of a home cooked meal utilising the best of the seasonal produce available.

There are so many meals you can create using a slow cooker; from soups to casseroles, sauces to pot roasts.

The beauty of the slow cooker is that it does not have to be complicated. You just pop all the ingredients in together, plenty of stock or water and pile in the herbs and/or spices.

I would recommend that if you are not able to return home to check on the food in the slow cooker through the day that you a). Cook it overnight and simply reheat when ready to eat or b). Add enough stock to prevent drying out of the food and be generous with the herbs and spices.

 

Here are some of my tried and tested ideas and I promise you they are simple and easy to do and can be left for hours and indeed taste all the better for it…

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November Seasonal Foods

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november seaonal foodsApples, chestnuts, cranberries, elderberries, passion fruit, pears, quince, walnuts.

Artichoke, beetroot, butternut squash, celery, kale, leek, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, swede, turnips, wild mushrooms.

Brill, crab, goose, haddock, hake, halibut, lemon sole, lobster, monkfish, mussels, oysters, plaice, scallops, sea bass, turbot.

Focus on Butternut Squash…

butternut squashIt wouldn’t be autumn, if we didn’t include Squash somewhere on our seasonal foods list. Butternut Squash has a sweet and nutty taste akin to Pumpkin and is highly versatile. It can be roasted, pureed into soups used in bread and baked goods and mashed.

It is a great source of phytonutrients and fibre. Its seeds can be eaten both raw and roasted and are high in Protein and a source of the mood boosting Amino Acid Tryptophan.

Butternut Squash is a good source of B vitamins, particularly B6, great for Vitamin C and E. It is especially good as a source of Vitamin A and beta-carotene. As for its mineral profile, there are a good range but notably, Manganese, magnesium and Potassium.

TIP: Choose a squash that has a longer neck because the hollowed out part that contains the seeds is contained in the body. By choosing a longer necked one you get more flesh.

Next: to get you started here is one of Chef Kerry’s squash recipes

Enjoy x

Chef Kerry’s Butternut Squash, Chicken and Lentil Curry.

1 lb. Chicken breast – chopped

1 x Onion –chopped

1 x Red Chilli – chopped

1 x Red Pepper-chopped

1 lb. Butternut Squash – chopped

3 1/2oz Red Lentils

1 x tbsp. crushed Garlic

1x tbsp. crushed Ginger

½ lb. chopped Carrots

½ lb. chopped Veg. e.g. (Broccoli, Cauliflower etc.)

3 x tbsp. Curry Powder

2x 400g cans chopped Tomatoes

7 floz Stock

14 oz. Frozen Peas

Fresh chopped Coriander

Salt and Pepper

Method.

Get all the vegetables and Chicken chopped and prepared. Place all ingredients into a large Saucepan except Coriander. Stir well and bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer for 20-25 mins.

Keep Stirring occasionally, add seasoning and continue to cook until lentils and vegetables are cooked through.

Freezes well.

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Focus on Wheatgrass…

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wheatgrassWheat grass has been used for its health benefits since the Ancient Egyptians for whom it was highly prized, right up until present day. It is derived from the Wheat plant Triticum Aestivum. As the juice is extracted from the wheat grass sprouts and not the seeds it can be classed as Gluten Free.

It is a source of many nutrients, such as Potassium, Chlorophyll, Fibre, Iron, Zinc, Copper and Manganese and selenium. Also a source of Antioxidants and various vitamins such as A, C and E and K and some of the B Vitamins. It is Not a source of B12 however.

It can be combined with other Protein sources to make a complete Amino acid profile so may be useful Vegetarians and Vegans or those on other restrictive diets.

There have been studies where it has found to benefit those with Ulcerative Colitis, Rheumatism and Thalassemia. It is however, by no means, a wonder food that cures all ills. Variety in the diet is always the best.

It can be juiced and drank as a shot or in smoothies. However, I challenged Chef Kerry to come up with a recipe that incorporates it because to be frank it has a strong taste that I am not too keen on. Chef Kerry refers to it as “Cow food” which means I guess she is not a fan!

Any way here is the results of her Cow Food Challenge…

It was delicious and some of the kids at the club ate loads of the muffins which is a ringing endorsement…

Here’s the recipe:

wheatgrass muffins

Chef Kerry’s Wheatgrass muffins.

  • Chef Kerry used the whisking method which allows for the butter to be omitted and reduce the fat content a little.

2 eggs

75g self-raising Flour

75g Caster Sugar

Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly and add the sugar, then whisk until thick and creamy add the flour and the following ingredients:

2 more Eggs

½ cup Apple sauce

2 tbsp Wheatgrass powder

2 tbsp Caster sugar

¼ cup ground flaxseed

2 cups of water

1 cup of blueberries

Mix the lot together and bake at 180 c© for 15 minutes depending on oven.

Makes approx. 24 small cakes @ 55 calories approx.

Or 12 larger muffins @ 110 calories.

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October Seasonal Foods

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october seasonal foods

Apples, chestnuts, elderberries, figs, grapes, pears, tomatoes and walnuts.

Aubergine, beetroot, broccoli, butter nut squash, carrots, celery, kale, leeks, marrow, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, pumpkin, rocket, swede, turnips, watercress.

Autumn lamb, brill, clams, duck, goose, haddock, halibut, lobster, monkfish, mussels, scallops, squid, oysters, venison.

Focus on Beetroot…

beetrootBeetroot has many benefits and is worth including in your diet. It is packed full of vitamins and minerals. A brief over- view of just some of these is as follows;

Good source of Potassium, Magnesium, Iron and Vitamins A, B6, C and Folic Acid.

It is high in Nitrates which can play a part in reducing blood pressure. The Nitrates also have been found in studies to confer positive effects which may have the potential to limit the progression of dementia, in tandem with the Folic Acid.

It is an Antioxidant source, it contains Betacyanin which gives Beetroot its colour.

It also contains the mineral Silica which is helpful for the body to utilise Calcium properly.

It contains both Carotenoids and Flavonoids which have an effect on LDL Cholesterol levels, by preventing a build- up in the arteries.

It is a fibre source, it is very low calorie and is also low G.I. which is great for blood sugar levels.

Chef Kerry’s Beetroot and Chocolate muffins…

This is a great recipe from Chef Kerry that uses the natural sweetness from the Beetroot and Apple juice and less reliant on large amounts of sugar. It is a great way to sneak vegetables into your child even if they are having a treat!

225g Beetroot

75g Cocoa Powder

175g Plain flour

2tsp. Baking Powder

225g Sugar

3 Eggs

3 ½ floz Oil

“ “ Apple juice.

Pre heat Oven to 180 c©/ Gas 4.

Wrap the beetroot loosely in foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Take out and set aside to cool. Peel and chop roughly.

Turn oven up to 200 c©/ Gas 6.

Sift flour, Cocoa and baking powder and sugar into a bowl.

Put eggs, beetroot, oil and apple juice into a blender and blitz until smooth.

Add beetroot puree to the dry mix and mix together well.

Divide into a muffin tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Also Freezes well.

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September Seasonal Foods

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september seasonal foodsApples, blackberries, figs, grapes, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, tomatoes, walnuts.

Aubergine, beetroot, broccoli, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Celery , Courgette, Garlic, Kale, Onion, Pepper, Potatoes, radishes, Sweetcorn.

Brown Trout, Crab, Cod, Herring, lemon Sole, Lobster, Monkfish, Salmon, Scallops, Squid. Lamb and venison.

 

Focus on Blackberries…

 

As the summer draws to an end and autumn kicks in with its longer nights and cooler days, good Nutrition is as important as ever. This needn’t be a hard task though. Eating seasonably is a great way to vary the diet and to get all the Vitamins and Minerals required to keep our Immune systems on top form.

focus on berriesMany fruits and vegetables are in season right now but this article will focus one just one- the humble Blackberry. The Blackberry is renowned for its health-giving benefits for the Immune system and by some it is classed as a Super food.

It is a berry that is composed of drupelets – the small individual berries which are complete with their own seed and skin. This makes the Blackberry a high source of Fibre and it is one of the highest sources of fibre from a plant.

 

Blackberry Facts.

1 cup contains ⅟₂ RDA of Vitamin C.

1 cup equals 30% RDA of Fibre (helps digestion and slows blood sugar spikes).

1 cup contains 36% RDA of Vitamin K (helps blood clotting and Calcium absorption).

Low in Kcals and Fat.

High in Pectin (helps digestion).

 

It contains Anthocyanins which give it the dark purple colour; this is an Antioxidant and may be helpful for inflammation.

It has high levels of Phenolic Acids which are Antioxidant compounds which can have anti-carcinogenic properties. The Blackberry has been given an ORAC rating (Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity) of 5350 per 100g –Placing it near the top of the scale of ORAC fruits.

Ellagic Acid is another Antioxidant , that can help protect UV damage to the skin and may aid in the healing of skin damage, wounds or some trials suggest have an effect on lessening wrinkles.

Finally Phytoestrogen. This is a plant Estrogen which can benefit women with PMS or Menopausal symptoms.

 

There is a lot of antioxidant power in those little berries. You can get them in the Supermarkets right now, but nothing beats the taste of Wild Blackberries – also known as Brambles.

You can find them growing locally in hedgerows, meadows, wood and wastelands too as they are adept at growing in poor soil.

  • Avoid eating and picking from busy roadsides or heavily polluted areas.
  • Look for plump, dark coloured fruit that is not too squishy.
  • Keep in a cool dark place and eat within 2 days
  • They freeze well too, pop into a single layer tray to freeze individually before freezing in a container or bag.
  • Use in recipes, eat on their own or make into a jam.

 

Enjoy x.

 

 

For advice on local produce, suppliers or how to grow your own see www.reapscotland.org.uk

 

Chef Kerry’s Spiced Venison Steaks with a Bramble and Shallot Compote.

 

4 x Venison Steaks

(Mix together)

½ tsp. ground Cumin

½ tsp. ground Cinnamon

½ tsp. ground Ginger

½ tsp. ground Black pepper

6 tbsp Port

2 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar.

 

For the Compote.

12 oz. Shallots peeled and halved lengthways

1 oz. butter

10 floz Red Wine

1 tbsp. Sugar

250g Blackberries.

 

Lightly score the venison steaks and rub in the mixed spices and marinate OVERNIGHT.

For the compote, put the shallots, butter, wine and sugar into a lidded pan and cook slowly for approx. 30 mins. Until shallots are tender. Then add the berries and cook for a few minutes more then set aside.

Take your marinated venison and fry for a few minutes each side to seal then transfer to the oven to keep warm.

Then in your venison pan add the port, vinegar and reduce. Once they have reduced add your compote and warm. Take the venison out and serve with your compote, leaving the venison in longer if you prefer well done.

 

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

2 tbsp. coconut oil/butter/lard

2 onions diced

1kg boneless leg of lamb chopped into casserole sized pieces

4 garlic cloves

150g pitted black olives

400g can of chickpeas drained and rinsed

Handful of pitted dates250 ml Pomegranate juice

250ml stock (chicken or beef)

1 tsp. powdered cumin

1tsp ginger

1tsp turmeric

½ tsp. cinnamon

Sea salt and pepper to season.

  • Preheat oven to 150⁰c /300⁰f/gas mark 2
  • Heat oil/butter/lard in casserole dish and fry onion and spices for a minute. Add the lamb and stir until lightly golden. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir
  • Bring to the boil then place the casserole to the oven. Cook for 2 hrs. or until lamb is tender. Serves 8.

 

Calories 311 kcal.

 

 

 

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Grilled aubergine Salad

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Seasonal food recipes for August from Chef Kerry Hooper…

Serves 6.

7 fl oz. Olive oil.

2 lb. Aubergines cut into thick slices

3 cloves garlic crushed

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. ground cumin

¼ – ½ tsp. cayenne pepper.

Dressing.

Juice 1/2lemon

4 tbsp Olive oil

¼- ½ tsp. crushed dried chillies

Lightly brush some olive oil over the aubergine slices, chargrilling both sides. Remove from the pan and roughly chop them. Return the Aubergine to the pan with the garlic and spices and fry for 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally then place into a serving dish and leave to cool. Just prior to serving make the dressing by whisking or blending all the dressing ingredients together, pouring over the aubergines and season and serve with warm Pitta bread.

Approx. 554 kcals per serving

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Chargrilled Lamb fillet on black pudding with mustard and shallot sauce.

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Seasonal food recipes for August by Chef Kerry Hooper…

4 x lamb fillets seasoned

1 x ring of black pudding (3-4 pieces per fillet needed)

Mustard and shallot sauce (see below)

Method.

Slice the black pudding into either 3-4 thick pieces (depending on lamb fillet size) and place on a baking tray and pop in the oven @ 180 c® for 10-12 mins.

Season the lamb fillets and heat up a grill pan, placing the lamb in the heated oil searing on both sides before placing in the oven for 10 mins ( if you like it pink) or longer if you prefer well done.

Remove from oven and slice into 3-4 pieces. Take black pudding pieces and arrange on a plate and place lamb fillet pieces on top and drizzle with hot Shallot and Mustard Sauce. Serve with vegetables that are in season.

Hot Mustard and Shallot sauce.

1 tbsp brandy

10 oz. finely diced shallots

Knob of butter

Salt and pepper

2 floz. Red wine Vinegar

1 small glass white wine

5 fl. Oz. lamb stock

1 tsp. English Mustard.

Method.

Melt the butter in a pan and add shallots, cook on a low heat until they are golden brown. Start adding the brandy, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. Reduce until almost dry then add the white wine and reduce again and add the lamb stock. Bring to a simmer for 10 mins approx. and add the mustard and serve….

Lamb is 203 kcals per 100g

Black pudding 95 kcals per slice

Mustard and Shallot Sauce is 127 kcals per serving.

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Cajun Salmon on a bed of Rocket, Radish and Red onion with Mojito dressing

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August seasonal food recipes from Chef Kerry Hooper.

1 tbsp. Olive oil

Salmon fillet skinned and boned.

Cajun seasoning.

Mojito dressing

Handful of Rocket

½ Red onion sliced thinly

4 thinly sliced Radishes

Wedge of lime.

Method.

Take the thinly sliced radish and red onion and place in a tub adding 2 tbsp. of the Mojito dressing (see below) cover and leave to marinade for 4 hours approx.

Take Salmon fillet and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning (see below) all over and leave to marinade approx. 2 hours.

Warm a pan and add a drop of olive oil and place salmon fillet in and sear it on all sides then place in a warm oven 180 c® for approx10-15 mins. Depending on fillet size. While Salmon is cooking take a handful of Rocket leaves and combine with the radish/red onion mix.

Place on a plate and serve the Salmon on top of the salad with a wedge of lime.

Mojito Salad dressing…

8 fresh mint leaves chopped roughly

2 fresh limes –juice only

8 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp agave syrup

25ml golden rum

Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until combined. Place in a tub in the fridge and use as needed.

Cajun seasoning.

85g Paprika

40g salt

50g white Pepper

65g garlic powder

85g onion powder

10g dried thyme #10g dried oregano

25g black pepper

25g cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container until use.

Serves 1. Salmon 175 kcals per 3oz (80g) serving.

Mojito dressing = 2 tbsp is 241 kcals approx. or 120 kcals per tablespoon used.

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August Seasonal Foods

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august seasonal foodsApricots, blackberries, blueberries, kiwi, loganberries, melons, nectarines, peaches, raspberries, red currants, tomatoes.
Aubergines, basil, beetroots, broccoli, carrots, courgettes, cucumber, French beans, mange tout, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, rocket runner beans, watercress.
Crab, crayfish, cod, dover sole, grey mullet, haddock, halibut, herring, lamb, lemon sole, lobster, monkfish, plaice, salmon, sardines, sea bass, scallops, squid.

radishesFocus on radishes.

Radish is a root vegetable. There are many varieties available which differ in colour and in size. They can range from white to purple to red, from small to the large Asian type which is white and mild in flavour. Summer Radishes can mature quickly – in a few weeks.
Radishes are a good source of Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Potassium also Riboflavin, Mg, Copper and calcium.
The Japanese often include Radish in their cuisine, pairing it with in dishes with Wasabi (Japanese Horse Radish) for a hot and crunchy flavour. A popular canapé combines these ingredients with some rare beef rolls (grass fed beef of course).

Japanese Beef and Horseradish Rolls.

A medium-sized Fillet steak (450g)

8 radishes
bunch of watercress/rocket
4 spring onions
black pepper
2 tsp.oil.

Dip.
2cm root ginger
2tbsp sesame oil
40 ml soy sauce

½ tbsp. Horse radish

Season the steak with a small amount of salt and some pepper.
Add some oil to a frying pan, sear the steak but leave it red on the inside. Place to the side and leave to go cool and firm.
Chop the radishes into wedges along with the spring onions.
Meanwhile make the dipping sauce.
Grate some Ginger, Horse radish and combine with some Sesame oil and Soy sauce.
Go back to the steak and slice as thinly as possible.
Place some Radish and Spring Onion and some Watercress/Rocket at the end of a piece of steak and roll it up. Repeat and Season on top of the rolls with cracked black pepper.
Arrange on a plate, add the dipping sauce in a bowl and enjoy!!

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