Tag Archives: Picnic

Sweet Potato Brownies

Twelve months ago, I attempted to shift my treat addiction into the sugar and dairy free category. I concluded that the best Paleo pudding was a sliced apple or square of dark chocolate. Pretty dull huh?  I had yet to discover anything as amazing as these sweet potato brownies. Then out of the blue we got pregnant. Yay! Suddenly, we were able to justify brownies with extra ice cream, lemon tart and any other goodies. Wait! What was that you said about butter and sugar? Okay, sure, I had a little bit. I mean, I’ve got to support Anna during the pregnancy right? Well, now the little fella is here I’m bang out of excuses. Time to get back on the sugar and dairy free bandwagon.

Sweet Potato Brownie Recipe

Now I know I’m not the first food blogger to post about these magical Ella Woodward sweet potato brownies. But when you want to unlock sweetness’s hold on richness, oh friends, please do make these brownie wonders. Those eagle eyed readers may have noticed I’ve slightly adapted the recipe. Firstly, because sourcing Medjool dates probably calls for a camel trek in Morocco. They’re pretty hard to source, so I’ve substituted them for Tunisian dates. You can get them in most health food shops. Secondly, I like my brownies to have a little bit of texture. The sweet potato makes these very creamy and adding the walnuts gives them that little bit of extra brownie like texture.

Pitted Dates
Dates for Sweet Potato Brownie recipe

Makes 10 – 12 brownies
600g sweet potatoes
16 Tunisian dates
80g ground almonds
100g buckwheat flour
20g walnut pieces
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp maple syrup

Sweet Potato Brownie Mix
Sweet Potato Brownie Mix

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Place in a glass bowl with a tablespoon of water, cover with clingfilm and microwave for 12 minutes. Until they’re soft and fall apart.

Add the cooked sweet potato and pitted dates to a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pre-mix the remaining ingredients and stir into the creamy mixture. Stir well.

Place the mixture into a lined baking dish and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes, until you can pierce the brownie mix with a fork and it comes out dry. Remove the tray and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Sweet Potato Brownies
Sweet Potato Brownies

Brussel Sprout Slaw

I have to apologise in advance: This is a recipe with brussel sprouts. Yes I know! “BRUSSEL SPROUTS!?” Don’t worry, I’m totally with you. There’s nothing more terrifying than being handed a bowl of these on Christmas day. Sure, you can cook them with bacon or cover them in goose fat, but that’s just the point. They’re so bitter they need all manner of tastier items to disguise them.

Needless to say, working out how to get them into our Christmas menu is keeping me busy. Well, that and trying to work out what Anna wants for Christmas……but that’s a different story altogether. Technically, they’re just little underachieving cabbages, so why not treat them like a cabbage and make a slaw. So that’s what I did, but with with a bit of Christmas spirit.

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Dressing

Brussel Sprout Slaw with Red Onion, Preserved Lemon and Parmigiano-Reggaino.

320g Brussel sprouts
1 small onion
1 preserved lemon (juice and zest)
pinch of salt
Teaspoon honey
Tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt
Tablespoon finely grated Parmigiano-Reggaino

Finely slice the red onion and soak in a bowl of cold water for about 15 minutes. In an old jam jar add the olive oil, preserved lemon zest, lemon juice, honey and salt. Shake up until combined. Set aside.

Trim off the hard outer layers off the sprouts. With a sharp knife slice the sprouts and discard the hard root edge. Then with your fingers gently break apart, but throw away the hard middle root. It’s the bitter bit and you just want the soft leaves.

Drain the sliced red onion and add to a large bowl with the shaved brussel sprouts. Pour in the the dressing and cheese. Gently mix together and serve.

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Sport Snack Pretzels

While I do like to be adventurous when it comes to live sport snacks (ever tried a pickle egg?) there is some real snack fatigue going on. Unless some idiot decides to bring along some fresh fruit, you’re usually in for a safe ride of crisps, peanuts or the recently popular wasabi peas.

England were hardly good football material this year, so perhaps my enthusiasm for live sport snacks waned simultaneously with their goal scoring abilities. My predicament is that this is the year of sport in England, so I’ve got mountains of junk food to consume. Unless of course I can somehow find a better alternative.

Look I won’t lie to you, this wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be. First there’s the dough, then the incredibly complicated fold, followed by poaching and finally they get baked. So a long process, but one that makes you look super flash on the snack front.

What you’ll need make roughly 28 – 30 small pretzels
440ml warm water
3 tablespoons of castor sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast
750g all-purpose flour and some for dusting
1 tablespoon of salt
2 teaspoons of olive oil
37g baking soda
1 large egg
Sea salt

Dough
Pour 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the warm water and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast on top and leave for ten minutes until it starts to foam.  Then add 150g of the flour (a handful will do) and combine with a wooden spoon. Gradually add the rest of the flour, a handful at a time until the dough feels a little stretchy. If wet and sticky, just add a little bit more flour. Then knead for about a minute. Pour the oil into a large bowl, coat and pop in the dough mix. Lay a tea towel over the top and leave in a warm spot for an hour or so.

Take the dough out, give it a little punch in the middle to remove the air and knead a couple of times. Flatten it out and cut into 28 pieces. As even as you can, but don’t worry if they’re not perfect.

Folding
This was complicated. I mean really complicated. Plus if you’re not careful, they end up looking like a little salty poop and that’s never a good feature for a snack. Roll each piece into a 30cm strip before you fold. I laid out a ruler in advance and kept rolling to that length. For some reason it seemed impossible to roll on a floured surface. Try it on a clean worktop if you’re struggling.

To fold you need to adopt the lasso approach which just seemed impossible. An over eager employee from Auntie Annie shows you how, but I couldn’t muster it. So I ended up with the flip, twist and hope for the best approach. If you can do it better, please share and gloat because you’ll deserve the credit. Once you’ve mastered the technique, leave them for 15 minutes on a grease proof papered tray to rise a little.

Poach
Fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Add the baking powder and stand back till it settles, then add the remaining sugar. Gently drop three at a time into the water and poach for around 30 seconds on each side. Drain, then transfer back onto the grease proof papered tray. I managed to only do eight at a time on a tray

Bake
Beat the egg and brush each of the pretzels with the glaze. Sprinkle the salt on top and pop into a hot 230 degree over (gas mark 8) until golden brown. It’s amazing how good they look and I was proud as punch when they came out.


The Dip
Now any good sporting snack needs a good dip to dunk it in. I tried to get flash with a red pepper chilli dip, but it was a little too fresh. Mustard is the most traditional, but what’s mustard without a bit of salt beef. The best I found was cream cheese with heaps of ground black pepper.

Breakfast Muffins

On Monday I went foraging. Well, when I say foraging, what I really mean is I went poking around the health food shop. If you been here before you’ll know this isn’t my normal hunting ground. I’m more at home around the glazed treats in our local patisserie or the aged meat section of the butcher. Not that my butcher (Hi Pete!) has a special section for old bits of meat, but you get the idea….anyway, back to the story.

So the reason I was in a health shop is because I’ve been running a bucket load lately. Which is great right? Well yes, but I’ve never been more hungry in all my life. I mean really hungry. Sadly this hunger monster isn’t brilliant at waiting around until lunch time, which means I’m eating rubbish just to keep the monster at bay. Don’t get me wrong, I have a hearty breakfast, but it’s the period between breakfast and lunch that I’m more likely to tuck into a bag of whatever’s in the vending machine. It’s got so bad I keep all my change so I can go to the vending machine. Skips are currently my top choice. Something needed to change. I needed some slow burning grains that would keep this hunger monster at bay.

Mashed Banana

Goji Berry & Pecan Mix

So here I am, walking around the health store, trying not to make eye contact with the lady who clearly has dry skin issues. Why don’t people in health stores look like supermodels, I think before stumbling onto bran and some Nu3 goji berries. Bran is good right? Sure it’s boring, but it’s a good slow burner to keep me from binge eating. Then there’s goji berries. They’re supposed to be a superfood, but they look dry and chewy. I thought to bake them into a something so they plump up again and it worked out pretty well. So here it is, my hunger monster ‘Power Muffin’ recipe

Dry Mix

Breakfast Muffins (makes 10)
2 eggs
90ml sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 ripe banana, mashed
3 tablespoons golden syrup
3 tablespoons apple sauce
4 tablespoons bran/ oat mix
200g wholemeal flour
6 tablespoons demerara sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
handful of chopped pecans and Nu3 goji berries

Muffin Batter

Preheat your oven to 180° and line your baking tray with folded baking paper. Whisk your eggs in a large bowl, then slowly beat in the apple sauce, mashed banana, vanilla paste and golden syrup.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, sugar, bicarbonate soda, baking powder, bran mix and cinnamon. Then tip that into your wet mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the pecans and goji berries. Sprinkle some extra bran on top, but avoid sprinkling goji berries as they’ll just burn. Better to have them in the mix where they can soak and become more raisin like. Then spoon out your mixture into the paper muffin cases and bake for 30 minutes.

Muffin Mix