Recipe: Courgette & Orange Loaf Cake

I promised a recipe for this Courgette & Orange Loaf Cake a few weeks ago (when I spoke about my favourite ways to use up a courgette glut) – and here it is. In fact this is probably perfectly timed, as courgettes are still coming through, but I have noticed them starting to be a little more bitter, more ‘woolly’ and not their best. This recipe will certainly transform below-par courgettes into something delicious.

 photo Courgette Orange Loaf Cake_zps789aalfg.jpgPacked with citrus flavours (I added lemon zest as well as orange for a real zingy hit) you’d never guess this is filled with a vegetable. I mean, it’s still not a healthy cake by any means, but it is slightly less guilt-inducing! The courgette doesn’t really impact much flavour, but what it does bring to the party is an amazing texture. The loaf cake is moist and tender, but still has a good ‘cake’ feel. It’s not mushy by any means! And it also seems to taste really well, in fact it was almost even beter after a day in the fridge (I wouldn’t usually keep cakes in the fridge, but cream cheese frosting and the UK heatwave wasn’t a combination I wanted to try out!).

 photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 5_zpsn5m9gfsz.jpg photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 18_zps8bqddjvz.jpg photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 15_zpsuhv0k6uw.jpgRecipe (makes a large 900g loaf tin- though I made mine in mini-loaf tins for ease of portioning out to various offices – based on a BBC Good Food recipe)

  • 350g courgettes
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 125ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • grated zest 2 oranges
  • grated zest 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp orange extract (we used Dr Oetker*)
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Frosting – I wasn’t too impressed with my attempt at the frosting and so won’t give the recipe, but next time I’d try this recipe

Lightly oil and line a 900g loaf tin. Finely grate the courgettes (no need to peel unless the skin is particular though), then squeeze out as much liquid as you can with your hands. I also let the grated courgettes sit in a sieve, weighted with a bowl filled with baking beans, whilst I weighed everything else out.

Stir the courgettes with the sugar, oil, eggs, zest, and orange extract, then fold in the flour and baking powder. Like with banana bread it’s really important not to overmix or the texture will be doughy and not particularly cake-like. I found the mix was particularly dry and stiff, but don’t worry as the courgettes release a lot of water as the cake cooks.

Scrape the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 minutes at 180C, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean (mine needed an extra ten minutes). Remove from the tin after a few minutes, and the cool on a wire rack. Make sure the cake is completely cool before icing with your chosen frosting.

 photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 12_zpshmh8ruae.jpg photo Courgette amp Orange Loaf Cake 3_zpscup8eypb.jpgThis Courgette & Orange Loaf went down a storm when I took it into the office – it’s actually been my most popular bake and disappeared before lunch. I was very glad I’d left a slice at home for me to enjoy later or I wouldn’t have got a look in…

Are you a fan of vegetable cakes? Would you choose to bake with courgette?

Recipe: Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Sweetcorn & Avocado Salsa (+ 5 Favourite Ways to Use up Roast Chicken)

Bad Millennial alert, but I hated avo until a couple of months ago. Now I can’t get enough of the stuff, and this is the recipe which converted me!

 photo Chicken Tacos with Sweetcorn amp Avocado Salsa 3_zpslaqquyzd.jpgMost Sundays in our house involve a roast of some sort, even if it’s just the two of us eating. In fact, especially if it’s just the two of us eating – purely because we get yummy leftovers for a few days. A whole chicken is invariably our meat of choice, it’s generally the cheapest option and the leftovers are SO versatile. From a large bird we tend to get our Sunday dinner out of one, plus two more dinners, some stock and a couple of lunches (or another dinner) too. Bargain!

Whether you’re roasting your own chicken or buying one of the pre-cooking rotisserie ones from the supermarket (love the garlicky ones!) you can do SO much with the leftovers. Such, have chicken sandwiches for the rest of the week, but you could also get inventive. And these chicken tacos are my all-time favourite…

The Corn & Avocado salsa recipe is based on this one from Chelsea’s Messy Apron, and it’s bladdddyyyy delish! I’ve simplified it down as I prefer to bulk out the chicken filling with onion, I’ve ditched any tomato and kept it really simple and just tossed the veggies in some lime juice and a spot of seasoning. I don’t think it needs anything else as the flavours are so light and fresh!

 photo Chicken Tacos with Sweetcorn amp Avocado Salsa 3_zpslaqquyzd.jpgRecipe – serves 2

  • 2 servings leftover roast chicken, shredded – around 2 medium handfuls
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime (half the juice goes into the chicken, half in the salsa)
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 150g sweetcorn
  • 1 pack fresh coriander, chopped
  • 6 soft tacos
  • Soured cream and/or feta, to serve

First up, prep your sweetcorn by popping it into a dry frying pan over a high heat until it’s a little charred. We actually use frozen sweetcorn and defrost it in the pan this way – if you’re using tinned you may want to rinse it as I find the water can sometimes make the salsa over-sweet. Allow the corn to cool in the pan.

Meanwhile, take another pan and heat over a medium heat. Add a little oil and a pinch of salt, then fry the onion until beginning to soft. Add in the chipotle paste and stir to combine – you could also add in other spices such as cumin, paprika and coriander just here, or a little extra chilli. Throw in your chicken and stir-fry until piping hot, before squeezing in the juice of half a lime.

Prep your avo at the last minute, dicing it and then adding to a pop with the lime zest, remaining juice and a little salt. Toss in the cooled sweetcorn and plenty of coriander, then serve alongside the chicken with some taco wraps, soured cream and feta. And that’s it! My current favourite Monday-night supper of super-easy Chipotle Chicken Tacos with Corn and Avocado Salsa!

 photo Roast Chicken and Leftovers1_zpsrqiaohag.jpg photo Roast Chicken and Leftovers3_zps5xnu8rm4.jpg And if you don’t fancy tacos? Here are another five of my favourite ways to use up leftover roast chicken:

  • Pie, ideally one combining Chicken, Ham & Leek. I’ll be posting an updated version of this recipe soon!
  • French-style salad – heated chicken combined with lentils, green beans, salad leaves and a soft-boiled egg in a vinaigrette dressing. So, so good!
  • Pasta bakes – mushroomy if possible!
  • Stir-fries. You just can’t go wrong with adding shredded chicken into noodles.
  • Sweetcorn Bacon and Chicken Chowder. This is one of my favourite recipes, and I always like to have a tub leftover to freeze as it’s just so comforting.

Are you a fan of cooking a roast and using up the leftovers? What’s your go-to use for roast chicken?

Recipe: Cheat’s Chocolate Mousse

One of my all-time favourite desserts is a chocolate mouse. My go-to recipe involves Mars Bars, but the one I’m writing about today is super-simple, super-quick and a total cheat. There’s no separating and whisking of eggs. There’s no melting chocolate. It doesn’t have to be left to set for hours, though does benefit from a session chillin’ in the fridge.

 photo Cheats Chocolate Mousse_zpstugauofq.jpgBasically, grab a pot of cream from the corner shop and you can make an impromptu chocolate mousse providing you, like me, keep some hot chocolate powder in the house. I favour a Swiss brand, Caotina Original (this isn’t a sponsored post btw!) as it’s ridiculously chocolately and indulgent without being over rich. We bulk by it each time we visit Switzerland, or get friends who visit to grab us a pack.

 photo Cheats Chocolate Mousse 8_zpsizvmvvki.jpgRecipe – generously serves 2-3

  • 300ml double cream
  • 6 heaped tsp of hot chocolate powder, or more to taste

First up, whip your cream into soft peaks. I find the best texture is achieved by hand, but you could use a stand mixer or electric hand whisk if you want. Once whipped, sift over the hot chocolate powder and gently fold through to combine, being careful not to knock any air out. Chill until ready to serve.

And that’s it! This cheat’s chocolate mousse, made with no-eggs and just hot chocolate powder, is so ridiculously easy. In fact, it’s dangerously easy as it’s all too quick and simple to make if you fancy a treat!
 photo Cheats Chocolate Mousse 1_zpsbfx7jyi0.jpg

What’s your go-to dessert?

Food: Why Buy a Degustabox Subscription?

Recently I’ve been gifted an ongoing monthly subscription to Degustabox* in exchange for some honest reviews – and whilst I’ve not yet reviewed a full box (you can see an overview of July’s box here, as well as in my Instagram Story highlights on my profile) today I’m going to talk about whether the boxes are worth it.

 photo Degustabox August 4_zpszzgwe8gs.jpgSo, what is a Degustabox?

It’s a monthly box containing new releases or loved favourites from trusted big brands, smaller more independent suppliers and upcoming foodie start-ups. At a cost of £12.99 a month you get a fairly hefty box containing a good selection of items (10-15 according to their site). I do get a combination of the alcohol and non-alcohol box, but even so I’ve been pretty impressed with the quantity of items I’ve received. In the latest box (received at the end of August) we received a box of Dorset Cereals granola, some hemp milk from Good Hemp, some Illy instant coffee, 2 Gunna drinks, some Crooked alcholic soda, 2 packs of Maggi noodles (including a delicious Sticky Duck flavour), a tin of tuna fillets, some LioBites dried fruit snacks and some *delicious* cereal bars from Boka. Not bad if you ask me!

But why exactly do I love receiving my box? Read on to find out…

Discovering New Brands

I’m really quite bad at sticking to what I know. If I was buying coffee I’d rarely stray away from brands that I’ve grown up with (despite knowing it’s not the best coffee). If I was looking for an alcoholic treat I’d generally avoid ‘cans’ as it reminds me too much of being a teenager. However Degustabox has introduced me to some fab brands which I’d never have tried otherwise – both the Crooked alcoholic soda in the August box and the Rosie’s Pig Rhubarb Cider in the July box are going to become firm favourites.

By far and away, however, my favourite brand I’ve discovered is Capsicana. We had a packet of their
Brazilian Smoked Paprika & Spices in the July box – we used it to marinate some yellow-sticker steaks before serving with a black bean and sweet potato salad. It was delicious – a tad too spicy given we used the whole of the packet between two, but we really enjoyed the more unusual flavour profile. We’ll be checking out more of their products for sure!

 photo Degustabox August 1_zpsvrzusd6r.jpgForcing Me To Try New Things

Similar to the point above, I know what I like. I stick to the usual cornflakes and weetabix when buying cereal, if I buy non-dairy milk it’s always hazelnut. The Dorset Cereals has opened my eyes to the world of granola possibilities (I mean, raspberries, toasted spelt and popped buckwheat?! Yum!), whilst trying Hemp Milk has been interesting – it might not be something I’d jump at buying again, but it wasn’t too bad.

Trying Exclusive Products

Whether they are new releases not available in shops yet, or products only generally available for retailers to buy in bulk, there’s been a couple of exciting things pop up in my boxes. As a child I LOVED mixing ribena with lemonade, so the bottles of sparkling Ribena in the July box made me smile. Likewise we’ve also received some lower-sugar Rowntree sweets which I’ve not spotted on the shelves yet…

Rediscovering Old Favourites

It’s not all new and exciting products in the boxes – some are old and exciting too! Whilst a pot of Cadbury’s Instant Hot Chocolate certainly isn’t ground-breaking, having a tub on my desk at work is perfect for when a sweet-tooth hits mid-afternoon. In fact given I’ve been exclusively drinking a rather more calorific Swiss hot chocolate for the last year, I’d forgotten how much I enjoy this lighter version…

The Surprise Factor

Generally our meals are planned with military precision to avoid food waste and minimise our shopping bill – Degustabox gives us a bit of a surprise and allows us to experiment a bit more. Whether it’s a bag of fancy crisps we would never have otherwise picked up (the London Crisp salt’n’vinegar is lush!) or random spice mixes, we know we’ll have something new and exciting to try.
 photo Degustabox August 3_zpscdejk0e9.jpg

*I received a monthly Degustabox in return for some honest reviews and social media posts, but as always all thoughts and opinions are my own. If you wanted to give them a try you can use the code N63R7 to get a cheeky discount!

Are you a fan of trying out new brands and products? Would you subscribe to Degustabox?

Recipe: Indulgent Cauliflower Cheese Risotto

Interestingly, when I first posted this on Instagram describing it as a Cauliflower Risotto I got lots of comments assuming I’d replaced the rice with cauliflower. Whilst that did give me the idea for my Low-Carb Mushroom Risotto, this  recipe is far from as virtuous.

 photo Cauliflower Cheese Risotto_zpsuubwk5mw.jpgInstead, this dish combines the creamy, luxurious texture of a perfectly cooked risotto, with the decadent flavours of the gooiest cauliflower cheese. It’s not low-carb, it’s far from low-fat, and it’s also my least authentic risotto recipe. But this dish is bloody delicious. The perfect comfort food on a cold night, the risotto flavour that almost replaced mushroom as my all-time favourite.

It starts off as a pretty standard risotto, albeit there is finely chopped cauliflower stalks sautéed in with the onion and celery. Cauliflower florets (alongside any smaller leaves) are roasted, then tossed in butter. Some are stirred into the risotto, others are left as a garnish. To add to the cauliflower cheese elements of this risotto, cheddar is added alongside parmesan – Italians would be horrified, but I do feel it works well here.

Cauliflower Cheese Risotto. I dreamt it up on a rainy commute home from work, but it’s become a favourite.

 photo Cauliflower Risotto 5_zpsbs1kse1p.jpgRecipe (serves 2 generously)

  • 50g butter
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or a pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 small cauliflower, or half a larger one – stalk finely chopped, florets broken into small-medium pieces and the smaller leaves retained
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 handful each of parmesan and cheddar, finely grated, plus extra parmesan to serve

Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan, then fry the onion, celery and chopped cauliflower stalk along with the thyme and bay leaf over a low heat for around 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes, then increase the heat and add the risotto rice. Toast, stirring constantly, for 1 minute then add around 100ml of the stock. Stir continually until absorbed, add more stock – then continue adding stock gradually and stirring until the rice is cooked – around 20 minutes. You may not need all of the stock, or you may need to use a little additional hot water.

Meanwhile, toss the cauliflower florets in a little oil and lots of salt and black pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and roast at 180C for 10 minutes. Add the smaller leaves, stir and continue to roast for another 10 minutes, or until tender and golden (if some of the smaller florets and browner and crispier this is fine). Once done, toss the cauliflower with the remaining butter. Add most of the cauliflower to the cooked risotto, retaining the leaves and a few florets for garnish.

Once cooked, remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the cheddar and parmesan. Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes, then serve with extra parmesan.

 photo Cauliflower Risotto 7_zpsvljtjfzs.jpgThat’s it, Cauliflower Cheese Risotto. It combines two of my favourite foods in the most spectacular way, resulting in an indulgent, creamy, cheesy dish. My idea of heaven.

Are you a risotto or cauliflower cheese fan?

Food: All The Courgette Recipes (including a Courgette, Mint & Feta Puff Pastry Tart)

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably have gotten the impression that I love courgette (or zucchini if you’re over the pond!) – and you’d be right! My all-time favourite summer veg, it’s got a weekly place on our shopping list, and I nearly bit my boss’ arm off when he offered me some homegrown in his garden. It’s the perfect vegetable to cram into risottos or pasta dishes, it’s great used to bulk out sauces, it makes delicious chutney and it’s even good in cake. What more could you want in a vegetable?!

 photo Courgette Recipes_zpswmcoregu.jpgA lot of people don’t quite understand my love for courgettes, and when quizzed they’ve only had them boiled (ick!) or roasted, with little flavour added and care taken. Treated nicely a courgette is tender, almost sweet and has the most beautiful subtle flavour. I honestly love them – and this post includes just a few of my favourite ways to use them!

 photo Courgette Fritters 1_zpsttnvfkrw.jpgCourgette Fritters

I blogged about courgette fritters a few years ago, and it’s a recipe I still use to this day. Sometimes I’ll add feta, sometimes I’ll throw in a spring onion. I love adding mint (courgette and mint goes SO well together!), sometimes I’ll spice them up a little. Yum! I also love these cold as a little lunchbox filler…

 photo Courgette Risotto 2_zpslzqwzso4.jpgCourgette Risotto

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that my all-time favourite comfort food is, without question, a risotto. I love the creaminess, the carb overload, the cheesiness. The fact that I can thrown whatever I have in the fridge in and it will always taste good. My Courgette Risotto is subtle but combines lemon and basil along with plenty of Parmesan – lush!

Courgette Pasta

Adding courgette to pasta dishes is my go-to way of using them. I’ve added a couple of grated ones to my tomato-free Bolognese sauce (they cook down to virtually nothing, bulking out the source with even more veg and adding another subtle layer of flavour). My favourite summer pasta recipe is a copy-cat version of a Bella Italia dish, but I also love roasting courgette strips for barely five minutes, then mixing into pasta along with peas, lemon juice and feta…

My favourite courgette pasta dish though? A take on this recipe by Half Baked Harvest. I fried courgette slices for around 15 minutes over a medium heat, sloshed in some wine and garlic, mashed a little with the back of a spoon, and continued to cook (on a lower heat) whilst I boiled some pasta. Adding the pasta with a good ladle of cooking water, butter and parmesan combined it all into a thick and flavourful sauce. Finished with more cheese and some torn basil it was simple, tasty and just the kind of honest bowl of food I like to eat.

Griddled Courgette Salad

One thing I *don’t* like is raw courgette – I find it a weird texture, a tad bitter and just not that enjoyable. However, grill it, dress it, leave it to cool and then serve in a salad is something I can totally get on board with. I like to throw thin-ish slices on my George Foreman (well, fake cheapy one!), then pop into a bowl when soft. Toss with lemon, olive oil and plenty of seasoning then allow to cool (the courgettes soak up this dressing like a sponge) before tossing with salad leaves. Perfect as a side, but I’ll also add a little feta and maybe some pumpkin seeds to turn this into a lunchtime meal.

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Courgette & Orange Loaf Cake

I feel a bit mean including this one, as I’m not actually going to give you the recipe! What I will say is that courgette cake is absolutely delicious, and the recipe is worth waiting for (I’ll post it soon, I promise!). This loaf cake was like a lighter version of carrot cake, less heavily spiced with cinnamon, but zingier from the orange. I took it into work and there was only two slices left at lunchtime, which says it all!

Courgette, Feta & Mint Tart

This is probably my favourite courgette recipe of 2018 – and it’s super simple too making use of ready-rolled pastry. The mint adds such a nice and fresh flavour, but if you’re not a fan you could leave it out, or even try mixing it up with basil or dill. The key is to not arrange the courgette strips ‘prettily’ but pile them on and just ensure they are reasonably evenly distributed around the tart. Some of them will catch and lightly char in the oven, others will soften and caramelise. The feta adds seasoning, and the base of the tart is lovely and crisp. The perfect picnic treat!

 photo Courgette Feta and Mint Pastry Tart 8_zps2gt7ztlm.jpgRecipe (Serves 4 as a picnic snack or light lunch)

  • 2 small courgettes
  • 1/2 pack ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-3 tbsp creme fraiche, I used low-fat
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • Some fresh mint, leaves only
  • Some feta, as much or as little as you like
  • Some olive oil, for drizzling

First off, simply peel thecourgettes with a veg peeler so you’ve got lots of long strips. Toss through a pinch of salt, then pop in a sieve, put a bowl on top and weigh it down with something heavy (I used a packet of rice!). Leave the courgettes for around 20 minutes, and preheat a baking tray in the oven. When the courgettes are ready, take the pastry and score an edge around 1cm from the borders. Brush the edges with a little beaten egg yolk, then mix the remaining egg yolk with the creme fraiche, spring onions and a handful of chopped mint. Spread the mixture over the middle of the pastry, and then top with the courgette strips. Sprinkle over some feta, drizzle with a little olive oil, carefully slide onto the hot tray and bake at 200C for around 25 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Serve warm or at room temperature – it’s delish!

 photo Courgette Feta and Mint Pastry Tart 5_zpsfrikxu3a.jpgI’m still going mad for different courgette recipes – next I’m hoping to try this frittata recipe to add to my list of lunchbox fillers, I also want to try adding it to a bean burger. I’ve also seen a couple of dips made from courgette around, which I HAVE to try before summer is out. I imagine it will be perfect with homemade pittas…oh, and I love them stir-fried for a few minutes, then dresses in a soy-garlic-ginger dressing. SO good, it’s a great light lunch option served with a little brown rice.

Are you are courgette/zucchini fan? What’s your favourite way to cook them?

Review: Bread Ahead Bakery’s Introduction to Sourdough Course

Bread Ahead Bakery might be famed across London and the internet for their doughnuts, but their other baked goods deserve the recognition too. Sure, the pillows of joy filled with flavoured custard and topped with something yummy are amazingly good (the praline one is my all-time favourite) but I have a big soft-spot for their bread.

 photo Sourdough Course_zpsmakkrg74.jpgChewy rye, flaky and salty focaccia, full-flavoured sourdough. Nothing I’ve tried has been anything short of delicious. So when, on the back of my review of their Doughnut Workshop (which I bought for W’s present – it makes a fab gift or day-date!), the bakery invited me down to try another of their classes I jumped at the chance.

It took a while to find a suitable date, as their weekend classes get booked up really quickly, but one hot July afternoon we headed over to their Sloane Square branch for an Introduction to Sourdough. Conveniently located next to a cheese-shop, we bought supplies for a picnic from the bakery and their neighbours before heading for up three hours of expert tuition in all things sourdough.

 photo Bread Ahead Introduction to Sourdough Course 3_zpsdfkhlsw3.jpg photo Bread Ahead Introduction to Sourdough Course 2_zps4zoghokr.jpgNow, if you’re looking for a really fun baking class I’d recommend you look at some of Bread Ahead’s other options. The doughnut class was very fun, although we still learnt a lot, and it was rather laid back. Whilst I really, really enjoyed this sourdough class, I also found it intense and felt a little like I was back at school! It certainly wasn’t relaxing, it was fast-paced and I found myself wishing it was spread out over another hour or so. That said we came home with two loaves each (a borodinsky rye and white levain) plus our own yeast culture to kick-start our sourdough baking journey at home (with five days of flour for feeding), and a LOT of knowledge. I’ll be doing a ‘top tips for sourdough baking’ post in a few months when I feel more comfortable using a live yeast culture to bake with.

 photo Bread Ahead Introduction to Sourdough Course 10_zpsa3qoqb0i.jpg photo Bread Ahead Introduction to Sourdough Course 10_zpsa3qoqb0i.jpg photo Bread Ahead Introduction to Sourdough Course 10_zpsa3qoqb0i.jpgThe class followed a similar structure to the doughnut class. It was very hands on, but there was also ‘Blue Peter’ moments due to the need to let bread dough rise over a longer period of time. We each had a go at shaping doughs, kneading and discussed the best way to bake, and all got to have a sniff of Bruce, the bakery’s ongoing culture which is around 4 years old. I now know to avoid washing my hands with soap before handling my sourdough starter or any bread mix containing it (the antibacterial soap residue will kill the friendly bacteria). I have better knowledge of how to knead wetter doughs. I’m not as scared of putting things in an oven heated to maximum temperature.

Oh, and we also got to have some fresh-from-the-oven sourdough with a delicious salted butter and blackberry jam. My idea of heaven.

Are you a fan of cookery classes? Are there any in London you’d recommend?

Recipe: Vegan Coconut & Lime Ice-Cream

In case you haven’t heard, it’s been HOT in London over the last few days weeks months. It certainly feels like months now! The heatwave well and truly set in around June time, and it seems as though it’s here to stay. Luckily we’ve had a bit of rain and a few days of cooler weather just to remind us we are in the UK, but otherwise it’s been a solid few months of sunshine, sweaty Tube journeys and hiding in each shady spot we find. And eating ice-cream. Lots of ice-cream.

 photo Vegan Coconut IceCream_zps5tu770nn.jpgI’ve been trying to make homemade ice-cream a little more often this summer. I mean, given we have an ice-cream maker (the KitchenAid attachment) we have no excuse! We’ve found it so fun creating our favourite flavours, including an amazing brown-butter caramel drizzle (so, so good!) – but this is the first non-traditional one we’ve tried. We usually make an egg-custard base and go from there, but this is a cheat which involves no heat at all (which is wonderful, really, given it’s been too hot to consider cooking and baking recently). It’s super-simple, super-easy and only takes a few ingredients. Add in some of your time (most of it is spent waiting at the freezer until it’s ready!) and you’ve got some delicious vegan ice-cream that’s the perfect combination of indulgently creamy and refreshingly lime-y.

I’m not at all claiming that this is ‘healthy’ ice-cream, it’s still got heck of a lot of sugar and fat in it, but it does make my tummy happier than your standard dairy ice-cream whilst still being just as creamy and delicious. I also find the zingy-ness of the lime makes it super-refreshing and thirst-quenching, ideal on a hot day!

 photo Vegan Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream6_zpsnexmaszs.jpg photo Vegan Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream10_zpsddzzwabm.jpgRecipe (makes around 6 greedy servings)

  • 400ml coconut milk, shaken well
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 60g sugar, caster is best here as it dissolves easier
  • Optional – some vegan yoghurt, just to increase the creaminess slightly

This recipe is really easy – simply mix all of the ingredients together, making sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Chill for thirty minutes, then churn in your ice-cream machine until frozen and ice-cream-like (around 20 minutes). Freeze until needed, and serve with extra lime zest. It’s also great served with gingerut biscuits!

If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, chill for around 3-4 hours, whisking every half an hour, then freeze until needed.

 photo Vegan Coconut and Lime Ice-Cream7_zpswdltgpal.jpgThis has become a real favourite recipe, and now I’m itching to try other coconut milk ice-creams. Next I’ll be doing a chocolate version, which I’m hoping will be like a frozen Bounty bar!

Have you tried making your own ice-cream?

Food: Recent Eats #3

Given my impromptu break from blogging, I thought I’d do a quick run-through of all the delicious things I’ve been trying lately – and some of the not so delicious too! We’re both quite experimental cooks, so if there’s a particular fruit/veg in season, or some kind of new ingredient we find, we tend to add it to our weekly shop and do *something* with it. Added to this some of the PR gifts I am lucky enough to receive (they’re all clearly marked in this post) and we get to try new foodie bits quite regularly. Some are really, really not to our taste, others become firm favourites. Let’s see what made the cut recently!

 photo Recent Eats 3_zps7lhwsbkq.jpgDegustabox*

In short, Degustabox is a subscription box that sends out a variety of shelf-stable food items, some which are new to the market or are a little bit innovative. Others are well-known, but to be honest that wouldn’t put me off – for example this month we received a tub of Cadbury’s Highlights hot chocolate powder. We all know and love Cadbury’s, but I’m certainly not complaining about receiving that!

More excitingly, we received some Rosie’s Pig Flat Tyre Rhubarb Cider which I really enjoyed – it was fruity, sharp (not overly sweet) and a perfect summer evening drink. I also really enjoyed the raw Salted Caramel Brownie from Pulsin – it was very brownie like, not overly sweet and the perfect non-guilty treat. The London Crisp Company had included a couple of packets, which always goes down well (though W snaffled the salt’n’vinegar, so we’re currently not speaking…). I’m also super excited to try the mixes by Capsicana, I’m still not eating red meat after my illness, but I’m going to find the courage to try the Brazilian spice mix with some beef soon. Not so successful was the Salad Cream. Sorry Heinz, I’m just not a fan!

Other things included a Miso soup mix and some cheesy rice crackers – these have gone to live in my desk at work for when I forget my lunch or need an extra snack. There was also some sparkling Ribena, and an iced coffee with added protein – coffee sends both of us a bit jittery, so I’ll be giving this to a friend who will appreciate it more.

Head over to my Instagram profile and have a look at my story highlights to see everything included in this month’s box!

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Cooking with Pork Fillet

Not a cut of pork I’ve been too familiar with in the past, we picked up a fillet and have done a couple of things with it (one will serve the two of us generously!). We stir-fried it in a Thai dish which was delicious, and we also wrapped it in a mix of spinach and parma ham, encased in pastry and served as a Wellington. Yummy and a lot cheaper than you’d expect!

Jamie Oliver’s Bean Burgers

(Picture by Delicious Magazine Australia, who published the recipe)

I have been wanting to make decent bean burgers for years, but so often they are either too mushy, too bland, too ‘raw spicy’, or just too difficult to fry. However this is definitely the best recipe I’ve tried – it’s got a decent texture, it fries pretty well (and also works from frozen too). I do tend to fry in my oven-proof pan, then throw in the oven when I finish off a salad, and I also tend to leave off the seeds – but they’re still damn good. I love to serve with pink pickled onions in pittas…

Speaking of Pittas, these bean burgers work *really* well in the BFree Pittas.* I find these pittas to be super tasty – not quite as good as homemade, but really good when you want to fill them. They hold together reasonably well, taste almost grilled, and are thin enough so they don’t take over from the main event. I’ve also really enjoyed them filled with a Mexican grilled chicken and salad concoction. They are also wheat and gluten free as far as I’m aware!

Sourdough Bread*

We recently attended another workshop at Bread Ahead Bakery (read about the Doughnut one here) – all about Sourdough. It was quite technical, I came out feeling as though I’d been back to school, but it was wonderful too. We came home with lots of bread, which we enjoyed as a posh chicken sandwich, toasted with avo and (using the rye bread) spread with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon and cucumber.

I’ll be doing a full review post in a few weeks, but if you’re interested in starting to bake more sourdough then I highly, highly recommend you try this class. If you want a bit of baking fun, maybe try one of their other classes as it was more intense than the Doughnut one.

Ben & Jerry’s ‘Diet’ Ice-Cream

It’s true! It doesn’t sound like it should be right, but our loyal friends Ben and Jerry have indeed launched a Moophoria range which is billed to have 50% less fat that similar ice-creams. I like to enjoy my ice-cream without worrying about calories, so I’d never have bought this, but we tried the Caramel Cookie Fix at SCOOP and really, really enjoyed it. You couldn’t tell it was low-fat and the textures were spot on. I’ll be buying more!

SCOOP, by the way, is an exhibition all about the history of ice-cream. It’s short and sweet (quite literally), but was a good way to spend 45 minutes in Kings Cross and involved spending 5 minutes in a giant freezer (perfect during the heatwave – worth the entry fee for this alone). You get to make your own ‘cheats’ ice-cream, try some glow-in-the-dark stuff and buy some unusual flavours (Dandelion anyone?!) when you’re done. I also learned so much about my favourite cold treat, so it’s well worth it.

As an added extra, my go-to ice-cream this summer has been Sicilian Lemon Curd & British Raspberry Ice Cream from the Co-Op. It’s like a fancy raspberry ripple and is SO good!

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Botonique*

I mentioned this alcohol-free drink for wine lovers a while back, but thought I’d be a little more detailed here. Basically it’s soft drink that’s designed to mimic wine – in that it’s not too sweet, has a more complex flavour and enhances food. It’s also got a blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acids meant to replace those usedup in dealing with alcohol – whilst I’m not overly convinced by the science behind this, I did find the drink super thirst-quenching on a hot afternoon. It is, however, very botanical and fragrant which put my friends off. I was the only person who actually liked this, but I have to say I’d happily buy another bottle. There’s a Rose version too which I’m desperate to try…

Ed’s Milkshakes

When I agree to meet a friend for a drink, the heatwave made us change our minds towards iced coffee. Then nowhere had ice. We ended up going to Ed’s and ordering milkshakes – not only did the metal cup feel wonderful to hold, but my Nutella Milkshake (made with fro-yo rather than ice-cream for apparently 90% less fat – yikes!) was absolutely delicious. Thick, creamy and absolutely full of Nutella flavour. Yum yum yum…

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Trying Our First Ever Chinese

Yep, I’ve nearly reached the age of 25 and I’d never eaten a Chinese before last weekend! Embarrassing I know, but now I’ve tried it I’ll definitely be back! We were invited to try out the menu at Royal China* and on the whole it was a success. There were dishes that weren’t to our taste, but Crispy Aromatic Duck? New favourite thing! I’ll be reviewing the restaurant in full so keep your eyes peeled – but what is your go-to Chinese dish? I need to know what I should try next!

Dr Oetker’s “Yes It’s Pizza” Vegetable Based Pizzas (link)*

This is pizza, but not as you know it. A unique new range of vegetable dough based pizzas, with further tasty toppings create a really vibrant pizza – and I’m not kidding, the beetroot base is BRIGHT! I had to keep checking the packaging to make sure I wasn’t eating tomato!

The pizza doesn’t taste too strongly of beetroot, the cheese is nicely flavoured, and the toppings of courgette, peppers and ham is a really good combo. I certainly enjoyed it and would be happy to eat it again and again!

Cold Brew Tea

I know Twinnings have recently launched something as it’s all over my Instagram (not sponsored – I’ve not been involved with the campaign!), but Sainsbury’s have also launched their own brand rather of cold-brew teabags. The flavour combos are a bit more limited, but they are a *lot* cheaper and I’m a fan. The one with Watermelon and Lime has been a winner so far…

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Courgettes

After announcing loudly at work that courgettes are my favourite vegetable (try living that down in an all-male team…) my boss presented me the next day with some monsters he’d grown himself. Absolutely huge (one only fitted into my fridge at an angle) – so I’ve eaten a lot of courgette recently. Think tarts, soups, pastas and even cake. Of course my Courgette Risotto featured too…I’ll be doing a post with some of my favourite courgette recipes soon.

*Items marked were gifted – but all opinions are my own. No money exchanged hands for this post!

What foodie things have you tried lately? Has anyone tried the new Malteser Buttons? I’m determined to get my hands on some!

Food: 5 Quick & Easy Summer Lunches

I’m one of those people that will pretty much always bring their own lunch to the office. Despite getting a really generous allowance in our office canteen each day, I’d sooner control what I’m eating (and how much, our servers are more than generous!). I also can’t imagine ever feeling comfortable with buying lunch everyday – at £5 (at least) near our office the thought of spending upwards of £100 a month on lunches alone is pretty horrific compared to our modest food shop budget.

Bring my own lunches allows me to save money, up my veggie intake (because vitamins), and choose exactly what I want to eat. I tend to make enough of the same thing to last 2 or 3 days, simply as it’s easier, but also never making enough for the whole week. I certainly don’t want to eat the same lunch every single day! These next few recipes are just some of the ones in my regular rotation…

 photo Roots Collective Blends 3_zpsioqo0b5n.jpgFalafel

Homemade falafel are one of my favourite lunches, whether I’m in the office or at home. They’re also great to have on stand-by as a snack or emergency dinner (I freeze them and heat in the oven from frozen). I usually serve them with a giant salad and some kind of grain, though I do love them piled into wraps with hummous or yoghurt….

 photo Beetroot Yoghurt Salad4_zpse0iui9zo.jpgBeetroot and Yoghurt Salad

I absolutely cannot get enough of this salad. Based on this BBC Good Food recipe, it’s creamy and tangy from the yoghurt, spicy from the harissa, earthy from the beetroot and crunchy due to the chickpeas. Mint leaves add freshness and served with homemade pitta bread it’s the perfect low-fuss light lunch. I sometimes add extra green to this in the form of spinach, watercress and/or rocket, I can imagine it being the perfect side for a BBQ too…

This is the only recipe in this post that I can’t imagine working well as a lunch-box – ideally you’d want the veggies to be warm and the yoghurt fridge-cool. But it is the perfect weekend lunch, and one I know I’ll be making again and again…

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Spicy Lamb Sausage Rolls

One of my favourite bakes of 2018 so far, these spicy sausage rolls are perfect for lunch on the go. I’m determined to fill my freezer with them ready for impromptu picnics in the sun! Hot with harissa, flaky pastry and flavourful filling, they are a far cry from the soggy sausage rolls you can buy from certain high-street retailers…

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Frittata (any kind!)

It might be a mouthful of a recipe title, but this is so super-easy and quick to make. Packed full of protein, I love this in my lunchbox for work, or warm on a study day. Perfect served with a simple green salad, you can find my recipe for one including chorizo here. If I fancy a change, I also LOVE this recipe. I kid myself the amount of kale makes it healthy, but given I also pile in a mountain of feta I’m not too sure…

I recently wrote a post about my favourite frittata recipes (including an amazing Pesto, Spaghetti and Spinach one) so if that’s your kinda thing then check it out!

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad7_zpsiyerfhuz.jpg photo Asian Quinoa Salad4_zpsgijjuqz7.jpgQuinoa Salad

All hail the quinoa salad! Quinoa is quite often my grain of choice at lunchtime – it’s filling, light and doesn’t irritate my stomach. It’s also a great base for loads of different flavour combinations, though my favourite way to eat it is slathered in a ginger-y, zingy peanut butter dressing together with plenty of crunch fresh veggies (see this recipe). I also can’t say no to a salad which combines quinoa with citrus flavours, feta, nuts and pomegranate seeds

What do you usually make for lunch?