Bish, Bash, BOSH!

Ultimate Vegan Chilli

You could be forgiven for thinking that Vegans can be a bit militant but for me, 2018 is the year Veganism went mainstream.

This movement has firmly been helped by vegan converts, Ian Theasby and Henry Firth, who started their own youtube channel BOSH! to showcase their recipes creations. The BOSH boys are taking veganism mainstream, and whether you are full on vegan or just want to add some meat free days to your week, you're going to want to check out their style!

Ahead of their appearance at The Cheltenham Food festival on the 16th of June, I had the chance to interview the guys just after their trip stateside and I wanted to find out more about them, their ethos and also try cooking one of their recipes!

Welcome back! I have been watching your trip over in New York on Instagram and it looked amazing! What would you say were your highlights from the trip...food and places, you visited?

IanWe were in New York to cook on The Today Show, which was so much fun! We definitely made the most of our time there, as we also visited the United Nations which was incredibly cool and one of the highlights of the trip. Of course, we had to check out all the best vegan spots too – Champs Diner in Brooklyn is amazing, they do banging burgers and vegan fried chicken!

When did veganism first arrive on your radar? How did the journey unfold for you both, to go from meat eaters to vegans and evolve into BOSH today?

Henry: We both became vegan three years ago for different reasons. Ian became vegan on the back of a New Year’s resolution where he challenged himself to abstain from alcohol for 3 months. I became vegan a little later, after watching Kip Andersen’s Cowspiracy documentary and realizing the effect that agricultural farming has on the environment.

Although when we became vegan we found that there wasn’t much good food out there, we had to pretty much re-learn how to cook! As foodies, we embraced the challenge and wanted to create delicious plant-based recipes that were hearty and fulfilling! We take a lot of inspiration from food that we enjoyed when we ate meat and dairy, so you’ll never go hungry with our recipes.

What do you notice about the people that are coming to see you and what are the reasons they are interested in cooking more vegan food?

IanWe love meeting people who have bought our book or follow our channels. Everyone has their different reasons for cooking more vegan food, but it’s really interesting when we meet people who aren’t vegan and are just trying to introduce more plant-based cooking into their diets. It’s really exciting to see more and more people trying out our recipes and learning first hand how delicious vegan food can be!

What would be your top 5 essential store cupboard ingredients for cooking vegan food be?

Henry: Garlic – it’s the best thing ever and adds flavour to any dish.

Nutritional yeast, also known as magic dust! – it provides a great nutty, cheesy taste and a great source of vitamin B12.

Chickpeas – essential for hummus and falafel, plus aquafaba (the liquid ina chick pea can) is an incredibly useful substitute for egg and dairy in cooking.

Tinned tomatoes – a great base for sauces!

Pasta – a cupboard essential for a quick meal.

What do you feel is one of the most versatile vegetables that you work with when you are cooking?

 IanMushrooms are incredibly versatile when cooking, especially as a mince substitute. It’s so good that you can hardly tell the difference. Even my sister who hates mushrooms eats our Chilli!  The trick is to pulse the mushrooms finely and then fry them off, which creates a meaty texture and taste. We also use the mighty mushroom in our Big BOSH! Roast, which would satisfy any meat eater!

What are your two most delicious fuss free recipes that my followers would be able to cook and the whole family potentially enjoy?

Henry: Definitely our Ultimate Chilli or Spaghetti Bolognese, two classic family favourites that are full of flavour and incredibly filling!

Out of ALL of your recipeswhich recipes have you recreated that are essentially vegan versions of your favourite meals you used to eat?!

HenryOur ‘Fish’ & Chips are a great substitute for the real deal, made with tofu and incredibly tasty. I loved Fish & Chips, so this recipe had a lot of thought put into it!

I'm really looking forward to watching you cook at The Cheltenham Food Festival (15-17th June) Saturday at 12.45. What are you looking forward to most about being at there?

Henry: We can’t wait for the Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival! We’re looking forward to chatting with visitors and eating some really delicious vegan food! It’s going to be a great day.

So the recipe I decided to try was the Bosh Ultimate Chilli!  It went down an absolute storm with Mr Fuss Free, who quote "enjoyed it more than a normal chilli!" High praise indeed! After following the recipe to make the chilli I bought some tortillas, made a simple guacamole and tomato salsa (you could buy them if you wanted to keep it more fuss free) and layered up to make a nachos sharing platter!

BOSH Ultimate Chilli

Serves 4 (easily doubled for a freezer stash too)

400g mushrooms
olive oil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 red onions, peeled
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped
30g fresh coriander stalks removed and finely chopped, set aside leaves
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 red pepper, small dice
1 tbsp tomato purée
250ml red wine
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin black beans
1 x 400g tin kidney beans
1½ tsp maple syrup
10g dark chocolate

FOR THE SPICE MIX 

1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf

  • Put the mushrooms in the food processor and pulse until very finely minced (you can chop them if you prefer, but it’s quicker and better with a food processor)
  • Pour a little oil into the hot frying pan. Once the oil is hot, tip in the mushrooms with the salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.
  • Place the onions and garlic in the food processor and mince. Add a little oil to the large saucepan. Once it is hot, add the minced onions and garlic, the finely chopped coriander stalks and the chillies, and cook gently for 5-10 minutes, making sure you stir regularly. Add the chopped celery and red pepper chunks to the pan and stir. Add the mushrooms back to the pan.
  • Add all the spice mix ingredients to the pan and stir so that the spices are well mixed and coat all the vegetables. Stir in the tomato purée to give a rich colour and depth of flavour. Pour the red wine, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar into the pan and turn up the heat to high. Stir constantly until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds and the alcoholic aroma has subsided. Tip the chopped tomatoes into the pan, stir into the chilli and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce is noticeably thicker.
  • Drain the black beans and kidney beans and add them to the pan along with the maple syrup, dark chocolate and the minced mushrooms. Stir everything together really well and then reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer. Leave this bubbling away with the lid off, stirring occasionally until it’s reduced to the right thickness (at least 10 minutes). You can leave it bubbling for longer to deepen the flavours, adding more water if needed to keep the right consistency.
  • Remove the bay leaf. Stir the coriander leaves into the chilli and serve.

This went down an absolute storm with Mr Fuss Free, who quote "enjoyed it more than a normal chilli!" High praise indeed! After following the recipe to make the chilli I bought some tortillas, made a simple guacamole and tomato salsa (you could buy them if you wanted to keep it more fuss free) and layered up to make a nachos sharing platter!

As I was making this for children too I lightened the amount of fresh chilli and coriander. Also, I made use of a tin of aduki beans and a tin of green lentil I had in my cupboard which worked really well! If you wanted to make this into nachos like I did you can layer up tortilla chips with chilli, salsa and guacamole and (vegan) cheese. Do this twice and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 180 deg.

Credit: BOSH! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby is published by HQ, HarperCollins in hardback BUY here for £8! https://amzn.to/2J1DbdX

The Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival is happening on 15th-17th June 2018 and also features wine expert Oz Clarke, live music and food demonstrations, wine tasting and children's entertainment. To win tickets:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Festival fever

Churros

I've never been a happy camper. Under canvas, small space and sleeping in a line with your whole family-just, not my thing. Not sure if I ever blogged about last years camping trip?!

I love music and I love food, so festivals have always appealed but camped in a field..not so much! So when a festival arrives on your doorstep, it seems an opportunity not to be missed.  Especially when two of your favourite local chefs are cooking in the chef's tent!

Dutiful me has spent the last 2 days popping up to the Foodies Festival on the downs and "working"! There was so much choice for food, going up there hungry was a big mistake! However, my highlights were eating raclette on tortillas spiked with jalapenos and Persian flatbreads stuffed with kofta and beautiful fresh salads...

So in festival honour, I wanted to share with you a recipe I cooked recently and festival staple. Churros. They are super easy to make at home and great if you are trying to create a festival vibe for a BBQ at home this summer.  You can even make them ahead and re-heat them through in the oven!

Churros

Coating
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
Churros
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, rapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 250 ml  boiled water
  • 2 cups or more of vegetable oil for frying
Chocolate Sauce
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 125 ml double cream
  1. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl, set aside.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add 1 tbsp of oil and water and mix until just combined - it should be a thick batter, like a wet sticky dough, not thin and watery.
  3. Transfer dough to a piping bag with a 8mm nozzle. Let the mix cool while oil heats.
  4. Heat oil over medium-high in a wok or small but deep pan, to 170C/340F, or until it takes 20 seconds for a small 1cm / 1/3" cube of bread to turn golden.
  5. Pipe 15 cm / 6" lengths of dough into the oil, snipping with scissors. Do 3 to 4 per batch, makes 8 to 10 in total.

  6. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden, rolling occasionally.
  7. Remove onto paper towel lined plate to drain. Then roll in sugar. Serve hot with Chocolate Sauce!
Chocolate Sauce
  1. Place in a heatproof bowl and microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring in between, until smooth. Or melt over a pan of simmering water. Add the cream and mix together.

For more tips see the original recipe here

Do less to achieve more!

Cacao energy balls:

Being a parent for me often feels like I’m a circus performer. Spinning plates for the family whilst juggling what's important to me.  It’s easy to get drawn into things and be in the feeling of being busy and the need to keep pushing on. 

I've found myself in this place recently. And whereas I realise that having a list of goals to achieve over the day or week is a great way to focus the mind; Feeling too tied to the list can be counterproductive and unexpected events can tip the balance. 

Feeling maxed out, pot overflowing doesn't feel like a healthy place to be. Tiredness, twitching eyes and being irritable all point to one obvious thing. It's time to step back. We all know it. Yet it doesn't come naturally. Not to me anyway.

Maintaining a presence on social media, being creative, running the house along with family life is the ultimate act, but I think it's time to make a few changes to the performance. But I guess years of 'being' a certain way will not change overnight, and it starts with a realisation of a need for change.  I have made those realisations before but have ignored it. But this week I noticed a real difference.

I'd say I live a pretty low key life. I rarely drink anymore, feel like I have retired my social life for the winter and eat home cooked food, every meal, most days. But in my Fuss Free Foodie efforts and the rise in work I've noticed one thing has slipped off the radar.

Regular physical activity.

Up until recently, I could really push myself physically. Ran (I've done 3 half marathons), did assault courses and high impact gym classes; And enjoyed it. But my body was increasingly feeling not so happy with the push and more extreme exercise. So as the work came in I rationalised my exercise and started only fitting in 1 yoga class a week.

I hadn't associated that even by doing more yoga, I could achieve that same sense of mental freedom that I used to get from the high energy workouts. Having done 2-3 yoga classes this week I noticed a huge difference in my mental state. By stepping away and not pushing on, I felt like I was observing again and not getting caught up so much in feelings and emotions. 

I've known this of myself in the past, but I guess I hadn't figured that any regular exercise can help you lean into that feeling of inner calm. I guess anything in excess whether it's work, food or exercise can do more harm than good, and the idea of balance is a good thing to strive for across all areas of life!

So in the interest of being balanced, as we about to embark on the chocolate season, I thought I would share this recipe as an antidote to all of the Easter eggs.  These cacao energy balls are super tasty and hit that sweet spot. 

They are perfect for making with the children, as they can help with the rolling. You won’t mind them eating them at snack time! I like to add a nutrient powder from a health food shop to boost my energy balls, but they are equally as delicious without! 

If you would like to follow how I shop, cook and eat delicious food without the fuss, remember to follow The Fuss Free Foodie on Instagram for my foodie pictures,  the FFF Facebook page to follow what I'm up to and projects I'm working on. For a more interactive experience with the FFF, join the FFF community on FB, where we share shopping tips and recipes and to see my random thoughts on Twitter I'm sometimes on there too!!

Come say HI!!

Cacao Energy Balls

  • 1/3 cup of almonds
  • 1 and a half cups pitted dates or mixed dried fruits
  • 1 tbsp. almond butter
  • 2 tbsp. cacao powder
  • Optional. 1 tbsp. nutrient dense powder like One Earth
  • Optional coating: Sesame, chia seeds or extra cacao for coating
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitz for 1-2 mins
  2. Roll a teaspoon (or more if you want them bigger!) into a ball and then roll in a coating if you choose to
  3. Keep in the fridge

Drop a comment on your preferred platform and let us know if you try them and what you think! Lisax

Keeping roasty with a kim-cheese toastie!

Kim-cheese toastie:

It's enchanting when 2 worlds collide and the mundane can become magical. A road stacked with rush hour traffic becomes a shimmering toboggan run as children volunteer to go out and play. The school day is a ski day with parents kicking back.  Weekday rules fall by the wayside, we are in unchartered territory!

But what about snow food? Apres ski is as important as the skiing. No Alpine raclette or Croque-monsieur here. What will be our equivalent?

Fortunately, I found myself this week on a fermenting workshop. My first experience of fermenting started just under a year ago embarking on milk kefir and a sourdough starter.  Until this week that was pretty much my experience of fermenting. I was keen to learn more.

In steps Caroline Gilmartin PhD of Every Good Thing and mum to my cooking tutee, H.  She has become a fermenting guru and now markets her own products locally and holds fermenting classes in CliftonWood.

Although my foodie's brain is not wired too well for science, I do know that adding fermented foods to your diet can aid your immune system and help our good bacteria thrive. (Of which we have 2.5kgs in our bodies I learned!) So I was all up for learning how to make my own fermented Kimchi and Sauerkraut for good health and longevity!

Sauerkraut is basically fermented shredded cabbage and pretty fuss free and simple to make. However, Kimchi is a little more involved and packs an amazing hot heat punch! It's probably a little less well known in the UK, but it is deep-rooted in Korean food history.  It is a mixture of raw chopped vegetables including Chinese cabbage which is fermented in a red pepper powder based sauce and is mildly addictive!

It seems the most challenging part is waiting until your delicious pots of goodness are ready to eat; Luckily with Kimchi, it's only 3 days! So, after a stint with the kids and sledges, what better way to recreate a tasty, ski snack by colliding 2 worlds together....a toasted kimchi and cheese toastie.......or kim-cheese toastie as I now call it!

As with most things they taste better when you make them yourself, but quite a few health shops will stock 'live' kimchi in their chiller cabinets. These are the ones to go for!  I hope you will give this a go....my husband had never heard of kimchi and he loved these!

Kim-cheese toastie
  • Good quality loaf (preferably sourdough), sliced
  • Cheddar cheese, mature, grated
  • Kimchi
  • Butter, spreadable
  • Frying pan
  1. Get two slices of bread and butter them on the outside. This will be the outer side of your toastie and go beautifully golden in the frying pan
  2. Open out the bread and cover one side of the unbuttered bread with cheese, so there is about a 1cm covering all over
  3.  Pop 2-3 tbsps of kimchi on top of the cheese and put the other slice of bread on top. Buttered side facing out and close up the sandwich
  4.  Have a frying pan on a medium-high heat. Place the sandwich in the pan and leave for about 5 minutes making sure it doesn't burn but goes golden brown
  5. Flip the sandwich over carefully and let it cook for 5 minutes on the other side. I like to weight it down with a plate/tin to ensure a tight toastie!
  6. You could serve this with some soup as we had at our workshop, or just enjoy two big toasties as we did after sledging. LUSH!

Don't forget to share your versions on the FFF Facebook group....and if you are looking for more ideas of things to cook with the children this weekend if you can't get out, then take a look at the recipes below!

10-minute chocolate chip cookies

Honeycomb

Rocky Road

To find out more about fermenting classes with Every.Good.Thing, join the fermenters club on Facebook.

Sunshine in a jar from Seville

Seville Orange Marmalade

We all express our love in different ways, and it will be no surprise mine is through food! Getting no mother of the year awards during the week (getting 2 boys ready for school each day) I often feel in the quiet backwaters of the weekend, it's a great time to express my love.  In a relaxed, non-shouty, hanging out in our dressing gowns type of way eating this is a great way to start any weekend!

So enter stage left...Seville oranges. Noticing them locally on sale this week I thought it was a great time to make a few pots as they are just in season. Plus they are only around for a few weeks. If you fancy making your own marmalade but you're not quite ready to make it yet, it's worth buying some oranges and popping them in the freezer.  Then when you are ready to make your batch just defrost them and follow the recipe.

On these wet and wild days, why not haul up and give it a try....get the ingredients in and have a go! It will make a wonderful breakfast on the weekend!

Let me know how you get on at The Fuss Free Foodie FB group and if you want to see what I get up to when I'm not in the kitchen don't forget to follow me on my FB page. Lisa x

Seville Orange Marmalade
Cooking time 2 hours. Makes 1.5kg of marmalade

450g Seville oranges
1.2litres water
900g sugar
3 tbsps lemon juice 

  1. Put the whole fruit in a medium sized pan with the water. Simmer slowly, turning once, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the fruit is pierced with a skewer with ease.
  2. Remove the fruit from the pan and cool until it can be handled to cut in half. Using a fork or spoon, scoop out all the pips, inside and membrane, leaving an orange shell.
  3. Place the pips/pith back into the cooking liquid and boil steadily for 10 minutes. Then strain the liquid and return back to the pan to remove the pips/pith.
  4. Cut up the fruit into small chunks or slices (I did 1/8 ths) and add to the liquid. Bring the liquid up to the boil and add the sugar and lemon juice.
  5. Stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved and then boil rapidly until setting point is reached. It will be frothing up and for me, took 25-30 mins.
  6. It's important to NOT stir as it does this. I did, so that probably slowed the process down. You want it to reach the setting point as soon as possible to retain all the flavour. (*1).
  7. Allow to cool in the pan until slightly stiffened, then stir to evenly distribute the peel. Spoon into hot jars, put on a disk of parchment paper (you can buy special disks, but I just cut out of parchment) and seal the jars. (*2)

Fuss Free Skills!

(*1) To tell whether the marmalade is at settling point, spoon a little of the marmalade onto a cold saucer. Allow the marmalade to cool on the plate. If the preserve is set it should wrinkle when pushed with your finger. If it wrinkles only slightly, and boil and re-test in 1-2 minutes until it wrinkles.

(*2) To prepare your jars, either wash the jars and lids, and place them on a baking tray in the oven for about 10 minutes at 100℃ or simmer them in a pan of boiling water for ten minutes, or wash them in the dishwasher before use.

Orbs, Entities and Egypt

Falafel

There was no specific reason why I wanted to go to Egypt....it was based on a feeling. I couldn't explain it but the pull was great. So I booked it. When people asked me what I would be doing out there...I didn't even know! I hadn't checked the itinerary!!

I was going with a few people I met on a retreat a year ago. In fact, I had thought it would be fun for us to hang out again, I just hadn't expected it to be here!

In the run-up to leaving our travel plans changed due to unrest in the area. But we were assured by our Bedouin guides that they had our safety at heart. I had to trust. And I did. But leaving your husband and children with even an element of uncertainty didn't sit well. But the feeling of growth and fulfilment far outweighed any fear.

I knew I had done the right thing on waking that first morning in Cairo. After 5 hours sleep, within arms reach of the Pyramids, I listened to Lou our group leader talk. She had been drawn to visit many places on her personal journey, based on a feeling. Tears silently fell from my eyes. I knew this was right. Like Autumn where life dies and awaits its rebirth, I knew I was going to be stripped back in order for me to grow.

The morning was spent visiting the Pyramids and venturing inside. On Saturday the 11th of the 11th we were inside the Great Pyramid at 11.11am! For those who love numerology...you'll enjoy that one!

What I hadn't realised was how quickly we would be heading to camp in the desert. That Saturday afternoon we were due to leave. And news to me ....we were camping for 3 nights, not 2! (I guess a quick read of the itinerary would have told me that!!)

Taking the bare minimum, we left and headed out into the darkness. Met half way by our guides, piled into 3 land cruisers and headed off in search of the desert! Now as you can imagine, a big part of the conversation was about the desert toilet facilities! Well, it's pretty simple... plenty of sand and space. Nuff said! But most of us were a little reticent at the prospect!

Arriving in the darkness it was difficult to see our home for the next few days, but with a roaring fire, and sheltered eating area, it felt comfortable. At this point, I felt that despite meeting the group less than 24hrs ago, we were really starting to bond as a tribe.

The next few days were spent visiting whale bones in the desert, and having quiet contemplation time alone with ourselves. Staring off precipices into vast open spaces, and swimming in beautiful lakes. Sitting together and sharing meal times; Gathering around the campfire, singing, drumming and drinking Bedouin whiskey (AKA super sweet tea!).

The nights around the fire were one of the most magical times. From the brightness of the day, it felt like the night time had no judgment and allowed you just to be. Losing ourselves in the flicker of the flames, finding our voices to the rhythm of the drums. Dancing to Bedouin music, under the watchful gaze of the stars. It seems that we were joined by more than just the millions of stars too, as a campfire photo showed up we were not alone!

In the quiet of the desert, you become super aware of the few things that are going on around you. The brightness and number of stars in the sky was totally mind-blowing. Lying on our backs you could notice the different constellations. It was here on the 2nd night that I noticed 2 orbs dancing in the sky.

In the pitch black of the night sky amidst the shining stars, these were different. As they randomly danced the do-si-do I couldn't keep my eyes off them. I'd never seen them the night before or indeed the night after. They were SO bright, bigger than the stars. I had never seen 1 let alone 2 orbs before! They gave me great comfort to see and made me feel connected to my two boys, especially as it was one of their birthdays......as if they were checking up on me to say hello.

Leaving the desert was tough for us all. We had all settled into camp life and bonded not only as a tribe but with our guides too. But we did one last thing....sandboarding! So as I jumped up to give it a go (and I am no boarder!) we went up the dunes. Figuring the more I thought about it the less chance there was I would do it... I jumped aboard.

As you can see from the video of our trip (Look right... before 2 minutes) I nailed it 3/4 of the way down. But I had neglected to ascertain one bit of info from our guide.....how do you stop?! As I reached the bottom and I started to spin around, my solution to break was to wipe out! And land on my head! That's definitely one way to stop! So my parting gift from the desert....momentarily took the wind out of my sails.

Heading back to Cairo was a shock to the system, least not because my body was dealing with effectively a whiplash injury! But lucky for us, we had 2 nights aboard a boat hotel on the Nile! In all the time I was in the desert, it hadn't bothered me that a couple of lake swims was the closest thing I got to washing. The sand didn't bother me one bit. It wasn't until I stood in the reception of this lovely hotel that I felt unclean and wanted a shower! And boy did it feel great when I did.

On our final day, we visited Saccara which is best known for its step pyramid, and vast ancient burial ground, and the Egyptian museum. The focus around death in Egypt was one I'd not contemplated before. Their beliefs of the soul returning to the body was the reason they placed a mask in the likeness of the persons face so it could return to the right body. The reason kings and gods were depicted with their hands on the heart is that they believe the heart to be paramount. And therefore was left in the body after to death.

This trip for me wasn't about acquiring facts about or memorising the details of Egyptian history. (I am no historian despite my interest!) What resonated with me deeply was the energy in these ancient times for the heart and the soul. The brain was inconsequential.....removed from the body after death but heart left in. For me, it was about opening my heart and awakening a part of me that maybe had been overridden by my head.

That feeling of joy, wonder, intrigue is still there in all of us. It's whether we allow these feelings to be covered as life's experiences make us protect our wounds. As we navigate less from our hearts and more from our heads, we work out how to not get hurt or feel that pain again. Adding layers of protection over the years can desensitise us to what life can feel like. If we allow ourselves to be open and to show our hearts.....we will get back to ourselves and feel so much more in return.

What I noticed on leaving Egypt and arriving back in the UK was the expectation of the western world. We are a society that works very much on external things and the money we need to earn to acquire things to 'get on' in life. What I loved about Egypt and in particular the desert was how there was nothing! No marketing. No feeling like you had to look or be a certain way. I had a sense of freedom I had not felt for many years to just be, and a connection to the stars I'd not had since the 90s rave scene!!

Back to reality, but at least on The Nile!
I realised that as a person I hadn't lost those intrinsic parts of me. They are in fact still there, but buried away under the responsibility and putting others first. My initial fears on coming home were that I would never get to feel this feeling and connection again. That 'normal life' would resume. I feared I would get to an age and reflect back and feel regret at what could have been. I guess that's why when people survive an accident or a serious illness they get a new lease of life to fulfil their hearts desires. They have another shot at living the life they want to lead and grasp it wholeheartedly.

So do we need to go through that to start living life today? My plan going forward is to bring in elements to my life that bring the joy of Egypt each day. Connect with my self to fulfil my own needs and nurture what needs nurturing. I know that my life and that of those around me will be richer from doing this. I hope you will find something for yourself too that will rekindle the fire inside your heart. Why wait. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Carpe Diem. Tempus Fugit.

Next week is a big week for The Fuss Free Foodie, as we celebrate our 1st birthday and launch the new website!!! Keep an eye on the FB page too as I will be posting about the Hairy Bikers episodes I feature in too! Much love Lisa x

Falafel

2 cans of chickpeas, drained
1 large onion roughly, chopped
4 tbsp parsley and coriander
2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp baking powder
8 tbsp plain flour

Put all the ingredients except for the last 2 in a blender and pulse until the mixture is a rough puree.
Add the baking powder and flour. Pulse gently and then place the mixture into a bowl.
Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls.
Fill a frying pan with oil (about 1-1.5 inches deep) and heat to a medium-high temperature. Add half (or a third) of the balls carefully being careful not to splash oil on yourself or overfill the pan.
Cook the falafels until brown on one side, and then turn over. Remove from the pan, place on kitchen paper to drain. Fry the remain balls.
Serve the falafels with hummus and flatbreads. Enjoy!
Egypt ...The Movie!

Fuss Free Bahn Mi with leftover roast beef

Bahn Mi

I was duped into thinking spring had sprung.....I even started to clean the inside windows.....you only do these job when you think it's spring right? Or you get duped by your kids who convince you to do it (so they can get more pocket money) and then they get bored within 5 minutes....and the job is yours!!

Well at least the upstairs windows are clean, and I am waiting for another springlike flourish to finish them off downstairs. Somehow when the weather is drizzly, windy and a bit cold, my motivation for such jobs wain!

As with at the start of Autumn, I fight the weather with internal heat (See my smoothies with spice!) and this format is still working for me!! There is nothing like a chilli kick to wake the brain and that internal heat system started. That's probably why at a birthday breakfast this week I made us all share a Bloody Mary at Flour and Ash.....I know!

As with most folks, you have peak days when its super busy and you are back late, and dinner has to be convenient. Tuesday is ours, and we normally will have a pizza with a massive salad and homemade dressing. As nice as this is, it doesn't check the chilli box, and when I had some beautiful rare roast beef left over, this dish sprang to mind: Bahn Mi I thought.

This is a true hybrid sandwich, borne on street food markets, with influences from Vietnamese and French cookery. From France, a lovely fresh baguette and pâté, and Vietnam, the pickles and heat. It makes for a fuss-free meal, uses up leftovers in a new way and tastes...AMAZING! This is my take on the dish to use roast beef, but you could equally use roast pork or chicken. It's a great one to have all prepped and can be assembled in 5 mins! The best thing is that you can customise your sandwich, with less or more of your favourite things!

As always, using up what you have is a big criteria for me so feel free to use common sense and tweak quantities if you have too much or too little of something. Let me know what flourishes you add to yours in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group! Take a look at behind the scenes action and food reviews on the Fuss Free Foodie page, see my fuss-free life in pictures on Instagram or what I'm tweeting on Twitter. Don't forget to keep seeing FFF in your feed, keep giving a little like, comment or share! Lisa x

Bahn Mi
Feeds two adults for dinner

85g carrot, cut into matchsticks
85g cucumber, cut in half, core scooped out and chopped into matchsticks
85g red or white cabbage shredded finely
50g pâté
150g-200g leftover roast beef, sliced thinly
1 baguette
1 red chilli, sliced thinly
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
Sweet chilli sauce/Sriracha hot sauce
A handful of coriander leaves (approx 5g)
Salt

Preheat the oven to 150℃/300℉/Gas Mark 2

  1. Place the baguette in the oven for 5 mins to warm through and toast slightly on the outside.
  2. Put all of the chopped vegetables in a bowl, with the caster sugar and vinegar, add a twist of salt and scrunch together to mix well and set aside.
  3. When the bread is heated through, cut the size sandwich you would like and cut it in half horizontally. Spread around half the pâté onto the bottom half of the baguette.
  4. Layer up as little or as much beef on top of the pâté and then layer on some of the pickled vegetables, sliced chilli and coriander leaf.
  5. Drizzle the chilli sauce of your choosing onto the top or spread it onto the other half of the bread, before closing up this delicious treat!

ENJOY!

WBC with suburban slaw

Westbury Baked Chicken with coleslaw

Holiday time when you are a stay at home parent feels like an oxymoron! It's not until both the boys started school and I get a reprieve from the 8.45 school bell, do I now feel school holidays are indeed a holiday.

It's about a break from routine, and we all enjoy hanging out in our dressing gowns beyond 9 am, having a bit more screen time and getting out and exploring in brighter weather. Being more relaxed brings about a need chill a bit with food too. With having to feed the boys every meal (and they can eat!) without school dinners to break it up, even I find it a bit of a slog and have learned to take a relaxed holiday attitude to food too!

We eat out a bit more, which means more chips, the crisp consumption goes up and even I ease up on the whole 5 a day mission. But holiday food today doesn't have to totally revert back to the 'dirty' eating I did in my 20s! The Big Mac has been swapped for the Pig Mac (#Pigsty) and KFC for WBC......Westbury Baked Chicken!!!

This is something I've been meaning to try for ages, as I'm still all about comfort food at this time of year and I am all about nurturing my soul....especially with food! Even as the crocuses are starting to bloom and the daffodils are in bud, I'm still about fuss free tasty soul food. We ate this on Wednesday night, with my suburban slaw and baby pickled beets, and we were both in heaven! The combo of crunchy, creamy and sharp was totally spot on. 1 out of 2 kids ate it too....the fussier one, at that, so it felt like a total success story!

Let us know if you try this and what you think in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group or see some behind the scenes action and food reviews on the Fuss Free Foodie page. See my fuss free life in pictures on Instagram or what I'm tweeting on Twitter. Don't forget to keep seeing FFF in your feed, keep giving a little like, comment or share! Lisa x

Westbury Baked Chicken
180℃/350°℉/Gas mark 4
6 boneless chicken thighs, skin off, cut in half
150g panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs, mixed
25g plain flour
1 tsp hot paprika
Salt and pepper
3 plates
1 oven tray and grill rack

    1. Preheat the oven. Prepare an oven proof tray that will fit a grill rack in it to elevate the meat off the bottom of the tray.
    2. Make sure all the little bones are out of the thighs by feeling the meat.
      Place the 2 eggs onto one of the plates and whisk until all blended together.
    3. On another plate place the plain flour, season with salt and pepper and add the paprika and mix thoroughly. On the final plate put the panko breadcrumbs.
    4. Put the plates in order of which you will need them. Flour, egg and then breadcrumbs. So as not to 'pané' your hands, use one hand for the dry ingredients and the other for the wet. Inevitably you will get a bit sticky but not half as bad! This is fun for the kids to do too, being careful of hand hygiene after touching raw chicken.
    5. Take 1 piece of chicken and dust it in flour, shaking to remove the excess. Then dip it in the egg mixture and shake to remove any excess and then coat in panko crumbs. Do this to all of the thighs and place them on the grill/tray.
    6. Place in the oven for 35 mins, turning halfway through so as to colour evenly.
    7. Take out of the oven and serve with suburban slaw and for a sharp twang, baby pickled beets or gherkins!

Forget the Fuss....

If you wanted to use a leaner protein you could use a chicken breast sliced into 4 goujons. Cut off the 'mini fillet' as one (try and trim the sinew out) , and make 3 more from the rest of the breast. Coat as above with flour, egg and crumbs, and then on a medium heat grill for 7-8 mins on each side.

Make sure it is cooked through, but try not to overcook, as it will go dryer. There is less room for error with breast meat as there is less fat. You could pop in the over too on 180℃ for 15-18 mins, turning half way through.

I get my panko breadcrumbs and sumac from Waitrose. If you can't get there, you could use ready made croutons and crush them up. I have not tried this but have seen that used before!

Suburban Slaw
1/8 (around 160g) of red cabbage, white cabbage, finely shredded
2 carrots (around 160g), grated
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
3 tbsp full-fat mayonnaise
Squeeze of half a lemon
2 large pinches of Sumac
2-3 tbsp of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

  1. Place all the vegetables in a bowl and mix. Add the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, lemon juice, sumac and mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning and creaminess from the mayonnaise, as desired.
  2. If you don't have any sumac, 1/2 tbsp of Dijon mustard works really well too.
    This works as a side dish to many others so share the recipe around! 

Breakfast of champions: Pancakes

Breakfast of Champions: Pancakes

We all express our love in different ways, and it will be no surprise the way I do it is through food! Getting no mother of the year awards during the week (getting 2 boys ready for school each day) I often feel in the quiet backwaters of the weekend, Sunday morning is a great time to express my love in a relaxed, non-shouty, hanging out in our dressing gowns type of way!

This Hugh F-W pancake recipe is my go-to recipe. I have tried others but always come back to this one as its reliable, tastes good and definitely fuss-free as it's prepped in 5 mins. It uses wholemeal self-raising flour, so they feel almost healthy (!), so pop to your local health food shop (I get my flour in Bristol from Wild Oats or The Better Food Company) or to keep it fuss-free and use normal self-raising flour. I serve these pancakes with thick Greek yoghurt and any fruit I have, blueberries, raspberries or chopped apple...whatever I have and the kids fancy.

Pancakes with cream cheese and blueberries

Last weekend, I wanted to use up a pot of cream cheese in the fridge, so I popped the 250g of cream cheese in a bowl, added 4 tablespoons of maple syrup and mixed until light and smooth. This made a mellow but slightly sweet topping for the pancakes was a nice change to yoghurt and was pleasantly surprised as both boys enjoyed it, even though they wouldn't normally eat cream cheese. Equally, if you wanted to serve the pancakes with some bacon, I can confirm this works too!

So, on these wet and wild days, why not haul up and give it a try....get the ingredients in and have a go! It will make a wonderful breakfast on the weekend!

Let me know how you get on at The Fuss Free Foodie FB group. Lisa x

Wholemeal drop scones
Makes 20-30

250g self-raising wholemeal flour (available at Health Food shops or use normal self-raising flour)
Pinch of baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
25g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
275ml milk
50g butter, melted
Oil

  1. Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
  2. Add all the wet ingredients into the well, retaining 10-15mls of milk as you aim to get a slightly thicker than double cream consistency.
  3. Mix by hand with a whisk, and if too thick add the milk bit by bit until desired consistency.
  4. On a medium heat in a frying pan, drop a teaspoon of oil, and then remove it by rubbing the bottom of the pan with kitchen roll (use this oily kitchen roll each time you cook a batch). I use 2 frying pans at once to keep up with demand!
  5. Spoon a tablespoon of mixture into the pan (about digestive biscuit sized) and wait for bubbles to show on the top of the pancake and flip over and cook for another minute on the other side.
  6. The first batch can stick, so stay with it, re-oil the pan and keep going! Adjust the heat if browning too quickly.
  7. Place on a warm plate, covered with a tea towel, or hand them straight to the hungry hoards!