The Herb Diaries

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Sweet Potato and Parsnip Wedges

I DID NOT MEAN TO POST THIS ON WORDPRESS. CLICK HERE FOR THE NEW VERSION OF THE HERB DIARIES
DSC_0755 Another recipe to celebrate my amazing oven in my lovely apartment! These wedges are incredibly easy to make and insanely delicious to eat. At the weekend I ate them with my Roasted Garlic and Pea Soup instead of bread (they make very good dunkers) and since then I have had them every day, chopped up into my salad box with rocket, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes and white bean hummus.
This weekend I found my local market – it isn’t that big but the fruit and vegetables there were all so incredibly fresh, and the options were endless. For the second time only since I have been in France, I managed to find kale!DSC_0756 Sweet Potatoes and parsnips are so sweet and full of flavour that they hardly need anything doing to them. A good glug of olive oïl helps them crisp up well, and then I just like to add a bit of Cayenne Pepper for some heat, a pinch of good quality sea salt and some dried thyme. Sweet potatoes are an amazing source of antioxidants which help to fight inflammation in the body. Due to their fibrous make up they are great for your digestive system, and they help regulate your blood sugar levels whilst providing you with tons of betacarotene, vitamin C and vitamin B6! And the parsnips will give you an amazing boost of heart-healthy potassium and folate.

Ingredients:
Serves 2-4
1 large sweet potato
1 large parsnip
Olive oïl
Sea salt
Cayenne Pepper
Dried thyme

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Cut sweet potato and parsnip into thick chunky wedges. Drizzle with olive oïl and sprinkle with salt, Cayenne and thyme. Stir/shake/rub to make sure they are evenly coated, then roast in a roasting tray for an hour. Check on them and mix them around every 20 minutes to ensure they cook evenly and don’t burn.
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Roasted Garlic and Pea Soup

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I had such a brilliant weekend. Saturday was for seeing friends and sleeping in after a big Valentine’s Day dinner party at my friend Amelia’s, which meant that on Sunday I woke up fresh and ready to go. After I had got my run and a yoga class out the way I settled into the kitchen. I figured that having complained about being oven-less for so long, I really ought to post some baked and roasted recipes, so this soup is the first of three to come…
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It sounds bizarre to go on and on about an oven and then straight away choose to make soup, but the roasted garlic makes the recipe. It gives it the most delicious caramalised flavour, making it taste more warming and winter-y than my usual pea soup recipe, which is definitely more fresh, light and summer-y. The idea comes from a soup that my aunt made for me years ago which I absolutely adored, but never got around to making, so whilst this is my take on her recipe I sadly can’t claim any credit for the (delicious) idea.
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Having mentionned in my recipe for Gooey Chocolate and Caramel Bars that I have a serious chocoholic in the family, the rest of them are pretty mad about garlic… There is one who loves it more than any of us, so I have a feeling this soup may be on the menu when I go back home and see him in two weeks. DSC_0764 Garlic is used world wide to flavour food, and there are definitely very few things in my kitchen that manage to escape it. Not only is it so versatile and incredibly delicious, but thanks to a compound called allicin found in it, it actually has antibacterial properties. Whilst it contains small amounts of numerous vitamins and minerals, its most notorious health benefits come from its antioxidants (which help prevent heart-disease), immune-strengthening effects and anti-cancer properties. As if he needs encouraging… DSC_0767 Ingredients:
Serves 4

2 bulbes of garlic
1 onion
2 cups of frozen peas
1 big handful of basil
Olive oïl
Splash of cider vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Rocket

Method:

Chop onion into quarters and place the wedges along with whole bulbs of garlic into a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oïl and a sprinkling of salt and roast at 180°C for 30 mintues. They may need turning/stirring in that time so keep an eye on them – it is very important that they don’t burn or even brown too much, as this will give your soup a nasty bitter taste.
In the meantime, Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook your peas, then drain and allow to cool. When the onion and garlic is ready, leave to cool for a few minutes then peel of the skins. The cloves should be cooked and sticky (and smell AMAZING). Add all ingredients (except the rocket) to the blender with some water, and blend until completely smooth. The amount of water you add depends on how thick you likek your soup – I would start with 2 cups of water and see how it goes.
Heat on the stove just before serving, garnish with rocket and a drizzle of olive oïl (some parmesan or pecorino shavings might be good here for those not avoiding dairy!) DSC_0767


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Beetroot, Ginger and Cucumber Juice

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I went back to England this weekend and found our garden full of apples. There were so many that my mum had to borrow her friend’s juicer as a way of using them up before they went bad. This was really exciting for me, since I am still researching all the different types of juicer before choosing which one to buy. My best friend came over to see me on Friday night, and as soon as she was up on Saturday morning she was out collecting apples

Our juice making got off to a bit of a dodgy start, with a lot of brown foam, and even a bottle that just tasted like water! (It looked like apple juice and tasted like water – if anyone has any idea what happened here please tell me, because my whole family are so confused!!) By the third attempt we has sussed it out and the apple juice was delicious, but whilst we had the juicer there I had to try and make my favourite juice, so that I could share the recipe with all of you.

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It is a combination of two of my favourite juices I have found out here in Paris (although I have had a bit of a guess at the ingredients so I can’t be sure how accurate it is). The first is the Purple Power juice at Sol Semilla – mine and Rosie’s favourite vegan restaurant in Paris. The second is a delicious cocktail at Le Comptoir General – a very funky bar just off the Canal Saint Martin – which is a mixture of vodka and a very cucumbery purple juice.

So this is my best guess at what a mixture of the two would taste like, and I think it is yum. It is good enough that I am definitely going to have to get a juicer! The beetroot and apples taste like autumn, and the cucumber makes it so refreshing, but the ginger is my favourite because it is so spicy and warming. I really love spicy food, but you might want to use less ginger if spice isn’t your thing.

 

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Ingredients:
(Serves 2)
1 cucumber
2 carrots
4 beetroots (peeled)
4 apples
Thumb sized piece of ginger

Method:
Wash/peel/top and tail fruit and veg as necessary and pass them all through your juicer. Cucumber straight out the fridge makes the juice very cool and refreshing.
 
 
I would really love to know what juicers you are all using and what you think of them, before choosing one myself, so please comment and let me know!


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Buckwheat Porridge with Homemade Cinnamon Hazelnut Milk

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My sister keeps telling me that I need to stop posting sweet recipes and start doing some proper savoury meals! I am working on it for her, and have  a few ideas in the pipelines, so I promise soon you will start to see a little bit more variety!
 
Until then, here is my new favourite breakfast recipe. Buckwheat is a fairly new discovery for me, but once you are introduced to a new ingredient it suddenly pops up everywhere.I first discovered it in my favourite vegan restaurant in Paris, but under it’s french name, sarrasin. Since then I have found that my local bakery makes the best buckwheat bread, and my flat-mate Rosie was brought up being fed it by her Russian nanny (but she knows it as kasha). I now have buckwheat flour in my cupbaords, and this porridge recipe shows how versatile it is, making it such a brilliant pantry staple.
 

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The main advantage of buckwheat is that it is completely gluten free. Gluten puts a lot of strain on the digestive system, even for people who aren’t intolerant to it, so it is good to give your body a rest sometimes. Buckwheat is high in dietary fibre, and slows down the rate of glucose absorption, making you feel fuller for longer by preventing dramatic changes in blood sugar levels, and it contains all 8 essential amino acids, making it an awesome source of nutrients for non meat eaters.

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Ingredients:

Serves 2

1 cup buckwheat
2 bananas
1 tbsp ground flax
1 cup raisins
2 cups of your favourite mixed seeds and dried fruit
1 cup hazelnuts
1 tsp cinamon
Agave/almond butter (optional)
 
Method:
For the hazelnut milk – soak the hazelnuts overnight then blend with 2 cups of water and the cinamon. Strain and put in the fridge.
For the porridge – Boil the kettle, then pour two cups of boiling water into a saucapan with the buckwheat and raisins.Keep stirring, adding hazelnut milk bit by bit, until the buckwheat is cooked. This should take between 15-20 minutes. Never let the buckwheat run out of liquid, whether it is water or milk. When it is almost ready, slice one banana into the pan with the buckwheat and add the ground flax.
Separate into 2 bowls, top with sliced banana, dried fruit and seeds, plus a drizzle of agave or almond butter if you like.