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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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.


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Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Truffles

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After making my first jug of homemade almond milk at the beginning of last week, this weekend I made hazelnut milk. It was so creamy, and deliciously nutty, and tasted so much purer than all the shop bought versions. Homemade nut milk doesn’t last as long in the fridge, but I think most people love it so much that they use it all pretty quickly anyway! It couldn’t be simpler to make, and is so worth the effort. I made these truffles when I was trying to think of something to do with the left over ground nuts from making the milk, but you could use fresh nuts instead.
 
I think people are almost a bit dubious of raw chocolatey treats, thinking that they will never match up to the real thing, and for a few people maybe they never will, but I am a total convert. I much prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate so I love the rich taste the raw cacao gives these truffles. They are so smooth, and the texture is somewhere between a chocolate truffle and a gooey brownie.
 
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Hazelnuts are super rich in flavonoids which are good for your brain and your circulation, plus they are high in healthy fats and vitamin E which will give you glowing skin, glossy hair and strong nails.

Cacao actually raises seratonin levels and stimulates the release of endorphins so it really is a mood booster – the beauty of raw cacao is that you get all the benefits without the horrible guilt and sugar low that follows eating far too much processed chocolate! 
 
Ingredients:
 
1 cup of ground hazelnuts
 
1 cup of pitted dates
 
2 tbsp raw cacao
 
1 tsp coconut oil
 
Agave syrup to taste (or other liquid sweetener)
 
Coconut flakes (to decorate)
 

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Method:
 
Put all ingredients into your blender and blend until completely smoothy and sticky. Roll into balls and roll in coconut flakes. Keep in the fridge until serving.