Beets n Roots Cafe, Cotham Hill

Beets n Roots Cafe

There's nothing like a bit of sunshine to check your comfort food intake, so this week was a perfect time for Beets n Roots, self-confessed vitality cafe, to launch their new summer menu. Located on Cotham Hill, I have always associated this spot with delicious, nutritious food as when I first moved to Bristol it was Blue Juice cafe and was a regular stop off!

Today, with the beautiful sunken deck perfect for people watching and soulful tunes, Beets n Roots couldn't feel any more like a cool holiday hangout if it tried! The food is totally en pointe, as these days more and more people are conscious of eating more plant-based foods, and nutritionist Rosie Letts, has been brought in to help design and balance this new menu.

If you are a meat eater with vegan or vegetarian friends, this is the perfect place to go as you will not even question the lack of meat on your plate! If you are feeling the need to be energised after a heavy weekend or working flat out, Beets n Roots is your place. Whether you want to stop in and grab a smoothie bowl with luscious toppings or revitalise with a freshly pressed raw juice, like my beetroot juice, you will feel it doing you the world of good!

If you have a bit more time on your hands the brunch dishes like the 'All Mighty Breakfast' which includes flat mushroom, avocado on toast, organic baked beans, scrambled egg or tofu, roasted tomatoes and sauteed kale will certainly keep you going. If you fancy something a little more indulgent (and healthy too!) the buckwheat pancakes with banana, chocolate and maple syrup topped with coconut shavings and pumpkin seeds are definitely worth trying.... A-Ma-Zing! 

I'm heading back next week to try out the lunch menu, so I will add my findings here! I love the look of the loaded Miso soup, burrito bowl and the Beets burger bowl. But if you just fancied a wrap or buddha bowl they look pretty good too.

If you fancy trying out the menu for yourself, I'm offering you a chance to win a voucher which allows 2 people free brunch at Beets n Roots before the end of April, so enter here and the winner will be announced and notified on Monday! a Rafflecopter giveaway  

 

 

 

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!

Trick or Treat Vs Bar Humbug

Butternut Squash risotto

About now you will find a bowl of pumpkin scoopings lurking in the fridge.....patiently waiting. But this year I went one better. I had a whole un-carved pumpkin acting as a trick or treating beacon, that did not receive any love.

In light of my new attitudes and being kind to myself, I didn't feel the need to broadcast my #mummyfail! I managed to rationalise it as I took the kids trick or treating this year, and one can't do everything!

You see I've managed to avoid the whole trick or treating thing for the last 8 years. I'm not meaning to be a killjoy or mean mummy! With 1 very sensitive child with an active imagination ....I've always aired on the side of caution.

On our busiest night, I prepared in military fashion. Out of the pool, we had our scary outfits, face paints and packed tea so we could deploy straight from the car. Our neighbourhood is well organised for reminding partakers to display their pumpkins; So compared to my previous door to door experience, this was fun!

Friedly neighbours playing along, offering small quantities (thankfully!) of sweets. Chatting to people I'd not spoken to in a while or even before, dispatching their kids to our group. For a scenario I felt a bit 'bah humbug' about, this had a great sense of community.

And this is my style going forward. With 3 of our family birthdays within a month, Christmas looming (and all in between), there is the chance for overwhelm, not joy. The need to control what I allow in, and push out the festivities as late as possible. This year as I started Christmas cooking in September, I'm embracing it all!

It may even result in the Christmas feeling I crave, but never quite find. I'm going to do what I can, the best I can, and not beat myself up in the process. So I'm already over Lebkuchen, reading Christmas stories ....wonder how long until we watch the Snowman and the Snowdog!

Please keep sharing your thoughts in the FFF community and don't forget to follow the FFF FB page so you won't miss my Christmas TV debut!

Butternut, Sage and Goats Cheese Risotto

1 medium onion, diced
Small butternut squash (approx 500g) diced
1.5 Liters veg stock, hot
200g risotto rice
2 knobs of butter
2 tbsp sage, chopped
50g Parmesan**, grated
Slug of olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Add 1 knob of butter and oil to a large, high sided pan on a low-medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and saute gently for 5-8 minutes until it is translucent.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the stock so that it's boiling hot.
3. Once the onions are done, add the squash. Stir and fry for 2 minutes. Add half of the sage, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the rice and coat in the oil and butter. Add 3 ladles of stock and stir for a minute. I don't continuously stir a risotto, but give it a stir every 5 mins or so.
5. Once the rice has dried out, add another 2 ladles of stock, stir and leave. Repeat this process for about 20-22 mins.  You know the rice is cooked when you bite a piece and it's firm but not chalky in the middle.
I like my risotto a little runny so it falls off the spoon, rather than thick like porridge.
6. Once your rice is cooked, take it off the heat, add the remaining butter and Parmesan (or alternative), season with a little salt and pepper (remember the Parmesan is salty). Stir, taste and serve. Dot the pieces of goats cheese on the top.
7. I sometimes get to the 15-minute stage and then leave the risotto to sit. Then I come back to it and finish it off later. If you run out of stock at this point, just add hot water to get the consistency you enjoy.

For more risotto ideas click here

**  Vegetarian Parmesan alternatives as recommended by the vegetarian society include Bookhams Vegi Pasta Cheese, Vegusto No Moo Piquant and Brazzales Gran Moravia.

Le Poivrot

Le Poivrot

LE POIVROT
I am not sure who I felt sorrier for.... Me sitting on a table with a manager who works for my husband. Or for him sitting with the bosses wife, on a Tuesday night with 7 courses plus wine flight ahead of him! Being that he kindly requested my invitation recently at the launch of the new autumn menu launch at Le Poivrot..... the latter!

In the old joke shop between the BRI and Colston Hall, this area is not a natural destination for most. Yet, one well worth making the journey to. Le Poivrot, in the backwaters, screams French Bistrot. However, by their own design with a fresh approach and modern wine. With understated, stylish decor I imagine Le Poivrot will create its own vibe. Certainly, it promises beautiful food and wine.

The new Autumn menu on first glance showed many seasonal ingredients. Quince, figs, wild mushrooms and leaves from the Severn Project, made for a promising start. Once seated our introduction was a rich duck terrine served with quince. With delicate floral notes, toasted hazelnuts and served with an aromatic Arbois Chardonnay. It was a strong start! Followed by a beetroot and goats cheese salad, with a creamy and light goat cheese mousse. Non-goats cheese fans would not be overwhelmed with sour/goaty flavours. Elevated with earthy, pickled baby beets and candied walnuts for sweetness and texture. Paired with a US Reisling, with fruity tones and beautiful velvety honey.

Next up was a French classic that I have never actually tried! Steak tartare. Not served in a traditional sense Le Poivrot describes this as their signature dish. Coarsely chopped steak with fine cornichons brought acidity amidst the rich confit yolk. Peppery radishes and sharp caperberries contrasted and topped off with generous truffle dusting. The red wine match for this dish was my favourite for the evening. A classic blend of Carignan, Grenache, and Syrah grapes. Aged in concrete vats for 6 months, giving a juicy, red fruit profile and very drinkable!

As we progressed and becoming increasingly full we did not lack enthusiasm! Next up was subtle flavoured partridge. Served with sweet baby parsnips, plump, ripe juicy blackberries and earthy sprouting broccoli. The wine match was not one I could personally quoff on its own as it was bold. Yet, with this dish, the Bordeaux blend came into its own. Finally, it would seem unfair not to mention the bavette frites. Highly flavoured, this loose textured cut was perfectly seasoned and accompanied with frites. Beautiful community initiative The Severn Project, Bristol salad leaves completed the dish with a Bordeaux Superieur. Delicious.

I wish Alisdair and Richard all the best in their endeavors at LE POIVROT. Hoping it brings as much success as Redlight. Thank you for hosting me at your Autumn menu launch. The menu is spot on and look forward to stopping in again soon!

Fuss Free Midweek Curry

Midweek Curry

In a world where we are constantly aware of our levels of connectivity,  it has never been easier to be disconnected.

Seeking hotspots and gateways to the virtual world as we go about our everyday lives, can lead us to feel detached and oblivious to what is right in front of us.

I stopped to talk to a woman doing a survey in the street yesterday and I realised that I knew her from a local networking group.  It wasn't until I got home that I realised we were FB 'friends', yet I knew very little about her.

If this is my experience as an adult, how is this scenario for our children? Already I hear stories of teens who are basing their self-esteem on the number of likes achieved on a social media post, or who have 'Friends' who may not even say hello in the school corridors.  It's must be confusing to try and work out how these 2 worlds operate....the 1 hard enough to navigate back in my day.

It is though, a double-edged sword that is difficult to ignore. Without this virtual world, my building of the FFF would not have happened this quick, so for that, I am grateful.  But it's probably not until you unplug, and totally connect and tune in to what surrounds you that you realise the hold the virtual world has.

Connecting to those 'real' things make me feel balanced, that everything is OK and that life is good. Getting out in nature, forgetting what I 'needed' to do to play a game with the kids or setting aside the bottomless list of to-dos and doing something for me. (Funnily enough, the list is still there when I get back!)

In connecting with others and ourselves we connect inwards to our hearts' true desire and not what is going on in our heads; Which can be logical and often fuelled with beliefs of what we feel we 'should' do. If we do this, it is the best example we can show our youngsters.

As half term starts, I intend to connect with my immediate world and look forward to unplugging a little... I hope you will enjoy that too!

Happy holidays! Lisa

FUSS FREE MID WEEK CURRY

Serves 2-3

2 tbsp Patak's curry paste (Madras, Korma, Rogan Josh)
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp grated ginger root
1 red or green chilli, sliced (optional seeds in or out!)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, chopped into quarters
200g potatoes, diced
200g frozen spinach
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
200 ml water
2 tbsps olive oil
Optional prawns/chicken/chickpeas

1. Put the olive oil into a medium-sized pan on a medium heat.

2. Add the ginger and chilli, and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and frying until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms to the pan, and fry on a high heat to extract the water for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the tomato, curry paste, and stir. Add the potatoes, spinach (frozen)and add the water. If you are using chicken or chickpeas add them at this point and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. If it is too thick add a bit more water.

4. Once the potatoes are cooked and you are nearly ready to serve, add the prawns.  If they are already cooked, just warm them through until piping hot, for a minute or 2. If they are raw, cook them for 5-7 minutes until they turn from blue to pink and cooked through.

5. Serve with boiled rice. Enjoy!

With this curry I would usually use, mushrooms and a red pepper, so feel free to mix up what you use by clearing out the fridge in the process! I would halve the amount of spinach I use if doing mushroom and pepper and omit the potato.

Doing a Meg Ryan…..

Moong Dhal with courgettes

I've got a new rule. When opportunities come knocking, I'm just gonna say yes! The cool thing with that is I don't have to let my brain get involved....and here's why. It totally means well, and is only trying to protect me, keep me safe and be logical by pointing out what could go wrong but that can take over from what my heart desires, and that's where the spark, excitement and joy can be in life. If I say yes, and it's meant to happen, it will. It just takes the control right out of my hands, and I'm OK with that!

So one of those 'Yeses' meant today I addressed 150 year 10, 11 and 12 students at a local girls school about my journey so far as the Fuss Free Foodie. Slightly daunting thought. A room full of eyes, being able to hear a pin drop and only my voice reverberating around the room. My head could've found many reasons why not to do it! But I did not allow myself to even get into my head about it. What's the worst that could happen!?! Sometimes its great just to bite the bullet and do it anyway and in the words of a well-known trainer company...Just do it! So let's see what comes up next that I have to say yes too!

I feel very blessed that so many of you are saying yes to the Fuss Free Foodie too, which I am so grateful for! Thank you! This week I've been hearing more of you giving my recipes ago, and even better you're families enjoying them as well! It's so easy to get stuck in a rut with the same 1-2 week recipe cycle, and we all experience that at some point and need to change things up!

This weeks recipe is still helping me use my yellow courgette glut (you could leave them out if you wanted but all part of your 5 a day!) and using those ingredients that lurk at the back of the cupboard. A fuss-free fast food, and is great for making ahead and reheating. Let me know how you get on! Lisa.

Courgette Moong Dhal

1 cup of Moong Dhal/yellow split lentils, well rinsed in water and drained
Heaped tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp turmeric
3 1/2 cups of water
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2-3 medium courgettes, sliced

 

Temper
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 red/green chilli, sliced
1-2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5-6 tbsp butter/ghee/oil
Salt
(Optional 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp chilli powder)
I did it without and was still delicious

1. Put the lentils into a medium-sized saucepan with 3 cups of the water (retain the rest for later). Add the turmeric, tomatoes, and ginger. Stir, and bring to the boil and then return to simmer. Stir occasionally and add more water if it dries out or starts to stick.
2. This should take about 30 minutes until the lentil are broken down and the dal has a porridge consistency. Add the courgettes at this stage and let them cook in the dal for 10-20 minutes. Add a little water if is drying out. Season with a good pinch of salt. It's not going to do any harm cooking it for longer, just keep adding bits of water if needs be.
3. In a separate frying pan, add the oil/butter and raise the temperature to medium to high, so that you can add the cumin seed and fry for a couple of minutes with the shallot. It is OK to get the shallot brown, but turn down to a medium to low heat when you add the chilli and garlic. This doesn't want to be brown, just cook for a further minute or 2.
4. Add the tempeh to the lentil mixture, stir in thoroughly. Check the seasoning for any more salt, and serve with chapatis, rotis, naan or rice. I only had pittas and that worked well too!!

Remember if you love the Fuss Free Foodie, maybe you're friends will too, so please remember to keep liking and loving to keep me in your feed! Lisa x

Pinkmans Bakery

Pinkmans Bakery

I recently found myself a baguette short of a picnic as I walked towards our destination it wasn't looking good. As I passed Pinkmans Bakery I looked thru the window and hadn't realised that they sold sourdoughs and baguettes. Score! As I went inside it was like being in a French bakery...with beautiful patisseries and delicious sandwiches, as well as other delights to sit in and eat. I'd heard a lot of buzz about Pinkmans and now I see why! I will definitely be engineering another trip towards Park Street....possibly without the kids too  
Like or love Pinkmans? Let me know if you've been and what you would recommend! Lisa x

 

Top 3 Fuss Free BBQ dishes

Top 3 Fuss Free BBQ dishes

 
 Is it possible to loose yourself when you don't even have any space? To feel free, available and unoccupied in family life these days can sometimes feel light years away.

Finding space to do the things you did BC (before children!) certainly changes when you sign up for family life...especially if you don't have grandparents on tap! Your opportunities to play golf for the day or have a spa weekend at a drop of a hat are few and far between and even feels indulgent at the thought!But isn't it funny the very things we probably need to make family life run more smoothly is often put on the back burner. Being caring and compassionate to ourselves seems to come at the bottom of the list but ironically will, in turn, lead to this being reflected to those around us.

Last weekend I had 24 hours on my own in the house for the first time in 7 years! Having that sense of space to do what I wanted to do, on my terms also created a sense of space on the inside too.  My ability to be more objective, and look at situations from a different (calmer!) standpoint was evident.

The space that it created inside of me also allows for a little more personal growth, a little more creativity and a little more fulfillment to achieving what I want in life. Now that's not a bad thing, is it? I hope you can manage to find a quiet hour or afternoon to create a little more space for yourselves this bank holiday weekend!

As always, some of these recipes have come a long way through my life.  The chicken skewers recipe was from a Sainsburys calendar I used to have, and it's SO fuss free that I still do it now.  In fact, I remember, in 2006 preparing a big bowl of this for a world cup BBQ in Stourbridge and my 'husband to be' dropping the dish on the floor and it smashing......not his finest hour!!! But I love how food creates memories and I can laugh about it now!

The couscous dish is really fuss free too , as you can interchange different cheese and nuts to what you have in .......delish! Look out for a quick video on how to put together this couscous salad over the weekend on Facebook or YouTube. Lisa

Chicken Skewers (Makes approx 4 skewers)

Try and keep the chicken a similar size.
 
  • 4 large chicken breasts, diced 2cm sq. (approx 600g)
  • 100g mango chutney
  • 100g Pataks curry paste...not sauce (Madras, Rogan Josh)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  1. Place the mango chutney, curry paste and olive oil in a bowl and mix.
  2. Then add in the chicken and stir well so all the chicken is coated.
  3. Leave in the fridge until you are ready to build you skewers.
  4. When building the skewers, try not to push the meat together too tight, allow a little space
  5. Cook on the BBQ on a medium heat for 20-25 mins, turning regularly to get an even colour.  The sugars in the mango chutney will char the skewers slightly, but this give a lovely flavour.

Halloumi and vegetable skewers (Makes approx 6-8 skewers)

Try and cut your veg into a similar size and shape for even cooking.
 
  • 1 pack of halloumi, cut in half lengthways, and then into chunks
  • 150g cherry/small tomatoes
  • 150g small courgettes, cut into rounds about 1cm thick
  • 100g ramiro peppers or small peppers, cut into 2-3cm square
  • 50g shallots, cut lengthways and in half (or red onion)
  • 150g mushrooms, cut in half if large
  • 5g fresh mint, chopped
  • 3 tsp sumac
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 75ml olive oil
  1. Once you have chopped all your veg and halloumi, place in a bowl with the herbs, garlic, sumac and olive oil, and mix together so everything is coated.
  2. Leave in the fridge until you are ready to build your skewers.
  3. When building your skewers try to get at least 2-3 pieces of halloumi on there with a variety of veg.
  4. Coat the BBQ grill with a little oil on kitchen roll. (Or if you have a flat grill on your BBQ with no bars use this). Cook on the BBQ for about 20 mins on a medium heat until all the veg are cooked, turning to give even colour.

Couscous salad

  • 200g dried couscous
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced (or 5-6 spring onions)
  • 2 handfuls of chopped fresh herbs (Mint, parsley, dill or whatever you have)
  • 75-100g feta or goats cheese, crumbled
  • 2 handfuls of nuts (walnuts or almonds), chopped
  • 1 pomegranate, cut in half
  • Boiling water
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  1. Tip the couscous into a large flat dish.  Squeeze on the juice of 1 lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Mix and coat the couscous.  Then pour over freshly boiled hot water, so that it covers all of the couscous and just goes over the top by  about 1mm! Cover with cling film and leave for 15 mins.
  2. Meanwhile, chop and prepare your ingredients.
  3. After 15 mins, fluff up the couscous with a fork, add the herbs, nuts, cheese and onions and stir in.  Once mixed, take one half of the pomegranate and have it flat side down in your hand with your fingers spread.  Wack the pomegranate with a rolling pin and let the jewel seeds land on top of the salad. Stir in the first half, and then add the second half to the top.
If you are looking for some more fuss free additions to your BBQ, check out my fuss free coleslaw recipe.....or try roasting some hassellback potatoes in foil on the grill. Want to know what beers to have with your BBQ? Follow this link to a fantastic guide to which beers to choose for your BBQ.
 
Please remember to post up your BBQ pictures on the weekend thread on the Fuss Free Foodie community on Facebook. Have a great Bank Holiday! Lisa x

Aubergine Curry

Aubergine curry

I never thought that being vulnerable would leave me feeling so strong. But it has. Vulnerability to me has always seemed like showing weakness. Like you were not able to work it out by yourself and that having to ask for help or for what you need just showed your flaws to the world.  However, it turns out that by being vulnerable actually shows your authenticity, the world views you in a more authentic way and will invite back much more than what you asked for.

I feel this has definitely been my growth point this week, as I couldn't decipher whether I was being vulnerable or what being vulnerable meant. I think I've always struggled to ask for help, and I think my natural mechanism in the past has been to shut down, rather than to open up; Trying to deal with things myself, cutting myself off from my friends and then falling in a downward spiral whilst I tried to sort myself.

So it turns out this is not the most successful strategy!! (Shock!) All those feelings, struggles and emotions that we have, most of the time just want to be heard, listened to or doused with tears. They want to feel validated, acknowledged and then they can move on.  When they are pushed down, and ignored and locked in a box, they come back so much bigger, with way more volume than before because they want to be heard!

I guess our transient lives have meant that to spend a lifetime in the same place, with a best friend, or mother or sibling who knows you inside out, who hears all of our troubles is far more unlikely today. And if we are not being vulnerable and letting new people into our lives, it's unlikely that we can find new people to do this with.  I think for me this has been a consistent inconsistency since teenage years, but the biggest change in the last 6 months.

I have spoken out when I needed help, ask questions when I felt unsure and reached out to people in an honest way and said, I need to get this out can you listen. By unlocking this part of me that had been closed for SO long, has allowed a whole new energy to flow.

So where I thought before that it was important to be strong, infallible and like a rock, it turnouts that the opposite is true. Being vulnerable takes courage and a fearlessness to allow people to see the true you and for you to love what you see in the mirror regardless.... because that is the authentic you.

This week I wanted to share this recipe that I found in a Sainsbury magazine 11 years ago by Nigel Slater....I've made it fuss-free considering you make your own spice paste, and appropriate in #nationalvegetarianweek and in respect to my teenage years as a veggie!

As always, please remember to give a little like, share or comment to keep the FFF in your feed and spread the fuss-free love. If you'd like to catch up on my videos to date, take a look at the Fuss Free Foodie FB page or subscribe to my channel on YOUTUBE. Have a great weekend, Lisa.

Aubergine Curry

Serves 3-4

Spice Paste

It is possible to make this paste in a large pestle and mortar, but definitely easier in a blender/spice blender.  To ensure a smooth paste I like to pestle and mortar the seeds before I add them to the blender, but not obligatory.

  • 5 birds eye chillis/2 large red chillis, roughly chopped
  • 5 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped
  • Golf ball sized knob of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 green cardamom pods, smashed into powder in pestle and mortar
  • 1 tbsp groundnut or rapeseed oil
  • 25g fresh coriander

For the curry

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • 6 medium tomatoes, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 x 400 ml tin coconut milk
  • 25g fresh coriander leaves (optional), chopped
  1. To make the paste, roughly chop the garlic, chillis, spring onions and ginger. Grind the seeds and cardamom in a pestle and mortar.  Add the chillis, spring onions and garlic to the blender and blitz. Then add the ginger and cumin and coriander seeds and cardamom.
  2. Add the oil, coriander leaves and stalks and blitz until smooth. Keep pushing the mixture down and re-blitzing until smooth.  I sometimes add a tbsp of water to help the process.
  3. If you have more time you can griddle your aubergines on the BBQ but normally I will chop them into 1-inch squares and fry them in the wok in oil on a medium-high heat and get some colour on the aubergines.
  4. Take the aubergines out of the pan and add the other tbsp of oil.  On a medium heat add the spice paste, letting it sizzle. Stir with a wooden spoon then add your tomatoes. Add in the aubergines, coconut milk, stir and simmer.
  5. I like to simmer this for up to 30 minutes so that the tomatoes start to break down, although you could simmer just for 15 minutes and serve. All personal preference! I've been cooking this recipe for 11 years now and I like it broken down and authentic
  6. Serve the extra coriander leaf stirred through if you like, with rice.

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Fuss Free Chachouka with Maneesh

Chachouka with Maneesh

Gardening to me is a metaphor for life and finally this week I starting growing something other than weeds on my allotment! I love how seasons bring new opportunities for starting afresh, witnessing growth and reaping what you sow.

Like the relationship with ourselves through life, over time, with effort and nurturing we can grow and thrive.  But starve ourselves of that time, space, energy and nurturing can hold us back. Happily, we can breath new life into our relationship with ourselves at any point and we can flourish and blossom in a new way that maybe we didn't contemplate before.

I feel like a different person to the one I was 6 months ago.  I reached a point of change as my youngest started school and this has created room for me to grow and evolve.  If you'd have told me then I'd be talking about food on local BBC radio back then, I would've been excited but a bit surprised! But that happened for the first time yesterday (Listen here!)

If we create a little space for ourselves, what will grow there in its place? If we nurture ourselves a little more, what will blossom?  It's exciting to think that at any stage in our lives, we can evolve a little more.  I used to think it was about learning more information and taking more courses.  I have since realised that actually, the answers that I require are already within me, I just need to take a little time, space to feel what the answer is and peel back the layers.

This recipe is for when you are not having so much space or time but want a fuss-free delicious meal!  It's a brilliant egg dish elevated to dinner status. It goes really well with a sourdough loaf or if time allows, why not try making this relatively quick flatbread called Maneesh with Za'atar spices.  I'll post a video next week how to make it for #realbreadweek. So remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel and each time I upload a new one you'll hear about it!

Thank you all of those who supported and listened to the broadcast the show this week...I was truly grateful and glad you were there to experience it with me! Lisa

Chachouka

Serves 2 for dinner

Preheat the oven to 180℃/Gas mark 4

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, halved and finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, cored, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp hot, smoked paprika
  • Pinch of saffron strands
  • 400g tin of plum tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large, preferably ovenproof pan on a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and gently fry for a couple of minutes. Add the onions and fry gently for 8-10 minutes, until soft and golden.
  2. Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook on a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring often until the peppers are soft and wilted.
  3. Add the paprika, crumble in the saffron and add the tin of tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  4. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary, if not using an oven proof pan, transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Make 4 hollows in the mixture and carefully break an egg into each one. Sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the egg white, is set and the yolk is still runny. This recipe is from River Cottage Everyday