B.H.K Reviews

Sage Nutri Juicer – Juicer Extraordinaire! A BHK Product Review

Sage Nutri Juicer

Sage Nutri Juicer

We have the distinct pleasure of giving a Sage Nutri Juicer a new home.  As regular BHK readers will know, Jane and I are partial to a morning juice.  Actually, without it we feel a little under nourished and lack the incredible zing! that a fresh juice gives you in your waking hours.  We had researched juicers and made up a shortlist, Sage where somewhere close to the top and definitely offer awesome value for money.  So when one arrived on our doorstep, delivered by the juice crane we presume, we unpacked it with joy and then things got really juicy!

Juicing is so very good for us its almost outrageous.  We find that a glass of good juice in the morning sates us until lunchtime at least.  We also feel cleansed and energised by the whole process.  Most fruit and vegetables can be juiced to good effect and this means that juicing is seasonal.  We find that broccoli for example makes a wonderful juice and the stalk even tastes a little like egg (which is more appetising than it may sound!).  We are also experimenting with recipes to utilise the pulp, normally discarded in the juicing process.  Nothing is wasted!

You cannot beat a fresh juice, preferably with organic fruit and veg when possible.  Please do not be fooled by processed juices or even worse, juices from concentrate.  Many of these popular juice brands are just vehicles for added sugar to enter your diet and we don’t need any more of that.  Fresh juices can also be high in sugar and it is worth balancing high sugar fruits and veg with lower sugar varieties, greens are a perfect example of this and bursting with nutrients and flavour.  They also make your juice look very cool indeed.

One more word on juicing and we’ll get on with our review.  Juices can be high in acid, that may, over a period of time, damage teeth.  Its worth bearing in mind.  Maybe brush your teeth after your morning juice (using non-flouride toothpaste por favor).

Our last juicer died in a dramatic flaming fashion, possibly due to one too many beetroots!  We think it was a little under powered and couldn’t really handle the hard stuff, root veg and all.  The Sage has no problems on this front, when you start it up, it sounds like an out-board motor and the high setting (there are two settings, high and low) cuts through hard vegetables like carrots like a knife through cashew butter.  We are also very impressed with the amount of juice extracted, the pulp is very dry and even on high setting (think helicopter taking off on your work surface!) the extraction of juice is brilliant.

The Nutri Juicer is easy to assemble and take apart and relatively simple to wash up (the bug bear of many a non-committal juicer).  The actual juice basket is as sharp as you’d imagine (like an uber grater), so taking care when washing it is important.  Sage have provided a great little scrubbing brush for this purpose. There are a few parts that come apart with ease and fit together with the help of a reassuring metal fitting.  It has a very solid feel when in use and is well balanced, no leaning or buzzing off around the work surface like some other juicers.  The discarded pulp flies out of the juicer into a purpose built bucket, which when lined with a compostible bag, makes for very easy disposal in the compost bin, no scraping or blocked sinks here.

The juicer basket and pulp bucket

The juicer basket and pulp bucket

The Nutri Juicer comes equipped with its own jug, which even acts as a measuring jug for the pedantic juicer or doubles up around the kitchen when baking etc.  As mentioned, the Sage is a powerful little contraption and this means that the juice comes out at a rate of knots, so the lid and rubber pouring spout are a must.  There is nothing worse that walls covered with fine drops of beetroot juice!  This power also means that the juice gets nicely whipped up and when extracted into the jug has a decent head on it.  We like to swill this around and combine it with the juice, but if you leave the lid on when pouring the juice, it will separate the froth from the liquid.

A large chute on a juicer is essential and the circular chute on this machine is perfect.  We have not found an apple that will not fit in there whole.  This juicer will take care of whole apples without breaking sweat.  Even if you are having a particularly hectic juice morning and the Sage overheats, it has a safety device which means that it will cut off and can then be used after 15 minutes of cooling down.

Mid juice - see the handy little rubber spout and cosy fitting jug.

Mid juice – see the handy little rubber spout and cosy fitting jug.

This Sage is a centrifugal juicer and we had originally thought about a masticating juicer, which is alot slower and really squeezes the life force out of things (which we then drink!)  They are generally more costly and there are only a handful of companies who make them, most based in the U.S.  This means added shipping miles and cost to the equation.  In the future, we’d love to try and ‘masticator’ but have been pleasantly surprised by the Nutri Juicer performance.  One criticism of a centrifugal juicer is that it heats the juice and kills some of the enzymes and goodness, but Sage have got around that with some very clever design.

The Nutri Juicer is a real looker, with a shiny metallic finish and simple design, it sits nicely on the kitchen surface.  Heston Blumenthal is involved with these guys and he seems to be a man who knows his way around a quality gadget.  The Sage juicers were also used in the documentary ‘Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead’, I haven’t seen it, but people in a bad way use juice to help them get fit and healthy.  I can see why they chose Sage, it is a well-priced juicer with brilliant overall performance.

Sage Nutri Juicer - Quite a looker!

Sage Nutri Juicer – Quite a looker!

For reference, we have a BJE410UK.

Juice, glorious juice.

Juice, glorious juice.

Beetroot, Apple, Ginger and Lemon Juice

Makes 2 glasses of purple morning sunshine

1 large beetroot, 3 carrots, 4 small apples, 2 inch cube of fresh ginger, 1/2 lemon (juice only)

Scrub your veggies, do not peel.  Cut the very ends off your veggies, they can get stuck in the juicer.  Ensure no soil or woody stems get into the juicer.

Get your juicer up to speed, higher setting is best as these are quite hard veggies.

Add ginger, beetroot, carrots and apple in that order.  Most flavourful and colourful to least seems to extract more flavour and colour.  Makes sense!

Squeeze your lemon juice separate and stir in at the end.

Ready to juice

Ready to juice

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Detox, Juices | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Sexy Tomatoes – The Tomato Stall

Sexy Tomatoes from The Tomato Stall

Sexy Tomatoes from The Tomato Stall

Every cook craves them, a sexy tomato stash!  Tomatoes can be the most wonderful ingredient on the planet or the most insipid, watery ball of red nonsense (aka most supermarket fodder).  Jane and I know our way around a tomato after spending plenty of time in Spain where we are surrounded by tomato plantations, normally growing toms for the Northern Europe market.

We have struggled in the early part of this year to get our hands on good produce and feel chuffed to have found the brilliant people at The Tomato Stall to supply us with fresh tomatoes; the most incredible oak smoked tomatoes and even a seriously kickin’ ginger chilli chutney.

The Tomato Stall have a wide range of products from ketchup to juice and I’ve chatted with Kelly over there at length about all things TOMS and they are seriously passionate about what  they do and the proof is in produce.  They grow many heirloom varieties, all additive free and mostly organic and all bursting with flavour and oh so juicy.

Beautiful bowl of Toms

Beautiful bowl of TOMS

We ate most of our bounty raw, like a box of chocolates, but way cooler.  There are so many colours; yellow, greens, speckled, vivid reds and even some they call black (more very dark green really).  The flavours of each variety were distinctly different; some sweeter, some more citrus; some meaty, some just exploded with juice.  With tomatoes like this it does seem a shame to cook them or tamper with the flavour, they are best served simply with maybe some extra virgin olive oil and a little sea salt.  That’s sounding like one of the worlds greatest salads!

We will be switching to local tomatoes when the crops come in (hopefully in a few weeks) but have no issues ordering tomatoes from the Isle of Wight when they are this wonderful (did we mention that the oak smoked tomatoes are one of the best things to pass our lips in a long time!)  Great tomatoes are so difficult to come by on this island and these are grown in Britain and not giant plastic plantations in Spain or Italy.

If you are struggling to get your hands on good tomatoes in the UK, let Kelly know and they’ll send some to a farm shop near you.

We love to have the opportunity to spread the good word of passionate food producers who are doing things properly.  If you are crazy about food and would like to send us a sample of your produce, we’ll taste them and let you know what we think.  We may even stick them on the Beach House Kitchen.

PS – Tomato a fruit or vegetable?  It seems obvious, but still a little room for debate.  Tomatoes just don’t quite go in a fruit salad!

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Nakd Bars (Raw)

Nakd Bars

My first look at a Nakd bar read:

Nature is nice 

Eatnakd.com

Want to look better, feel better and help the world? Replace over-processed foods with nourishing wholefoods and get ready to be happy. This satisfying slice of goodness is a great place to start. Hope you love it as much as we do! Nature is nice.

That was just the wrapper! I was sold. It didn’t matter what they tasted like, I loved the whole ethos behind these raw fruit and nut bars.  They come in an awesome range of flavours, like cocoa orange (our favourite), ginger bread (lee’s favourite), cocoa delight (jane’s favourite), cashew cookie (just plain lovely) and pecan pie (rather nice also).

Nakd bars are a lovely raw nutritious treat that we’d like to champion a little.  These goodies are simply made by mooshing nuts and fruit together.  The bars are chewy and crumbly and the cocoa flavours are intesly chocolaty.

Nakd are a great success story and are now in many supermarkets and high streets around the UK.  What an excellent option to other processed sweets.   Nakd bars contain no hidden nasties and are packed with nutrients.  They are vegan, wheat and gluten free, there is very little reason to not munch on one.  They even have the new ‘Nakd Oatie’ range which are all under 100 calories per bar, perfect nibbles to compliment a bikini body.

We can be outdoors types when the mood (and weather) takes us, Nakd bars are the perfect treat to have packed in your bag.  They are full of energy and are nice and little.  It seems they are becoming a favourite with many endurance athletes, who push the human body to the extremes.  Extreme challenges need extreme fuel and that’s what Nak’d bars give your body.  They are super charged and super tasty!

Get Nakd!

You’ll find all Nak’d things HERE.

The Beach House Nakd pot

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Raw Food, Treats, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

May’s Coffee Challenge – Carvetii Coffee

El Tablon – Carvetti Coffee

The month of May rolls on, punctuated by some very fine coffees.  No more coffee for me in June, we are going totally raw (that means eating food that is not cooked above 40 odd degrees, maintaining nutrients, enzymes etc).  I decided to go out with a bang and fit as much brilliant coffee into May as was feasible to body and mind, gradually reducing my sipping towards the end of the month.  So this is it, the last bag of the month and I couldn’t have wished for a better example of why I love coffee.  It’s a Carvetii Coffee.

Today is a radiant day up here in North Wales, the garden is getting a good dose of sun and we fancied trying a coffee packed full of sunshine.  Any excuse for great coffee!

Carvetii Coffee certainly fits this bill.  They are Gareth and Angharad who run a small coffee roasting company located in the beautiful Lake District, Northern England.   They started off in 2006 with a small cafe in North Wales, then gradually progressed to roasting their own beans, initially on a frying pan in their kitchen!  They only roast in small batches and I love the way that they post the next roast date on their website, meaning you can order super freshly roasted coffee.   They are mad about coffee (in a very good way!).

Carvetii Coffee

The ‘El Tablon‘ coffee has a wonderful aroma, you can smell the honeyed sweetness of the bean when it is being ground.  It is a single origin, ‘micro-lot’ coffee from El Salvador.  ‘Micro-lot’ meaning very small, high quality growing.  The bean used is called the pacamara.  It is honey-processed, resulting in that wonderful sweetness and it is certainly very fruity.  The name of this processing comes from the Spanish word for the flesh of this large variety of coffee bean, ‘miel’ (which interestingly is similar in the Welsh language, ‘mel’).

This is a very high quality cup of coffee, with a very smooth, stylish flavour.  I have  never tried a honey-processed coffee and I am impressed by the unique flavour produced by this technique.

I’m looking forward to more of this wonderful stuff.  It is my birthday on Sunday and I can’t think of a better brew to toast my 34th year.

If you are interested in what the good folk of Carvetii Coffee are up to, have a look at there blog.

Thank you to Gareth and Angharad for your passion and excellence in all things coffee.

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Wonder Pulp – Aloe Vera Juice

I’ve heard loads of people talking about the benefits of Aloe Vera Juice, in fact, I nearly had a job selling the stuff!  The only problem is that I knew very little about it.  This was until we were given a bottle of the wonder pulp.  It is made by Pukka; organic, ethically sourced, comes in a nice glass bottle, we thought we’d give it a go.

Pukka Aloe Vera Juice

The Aloe plant originates from Northern Africa and it has been used in herbal medicine since the 16th century BC.  The flavour is what you’d call an acquired taste (you can flavour it with juices etc) but you’re not drinking this for a Dom Perignon moment.  This is all about getting you feeling good from the inside out.  Having said that, Aloe Vera is also amazing when rubbed on the skin and has incredible healing effects for burns, scars and many skin conditions like eczema.  You get used to the flavour and it does have a very soothing texture and quality.

The Aloe Plant looks alot like the Agave plant, the famous succulent (that’s a type of plant) that is used to make tequila.  So technically you are drinking a distant cousin of raw tequila.  That’s about as ‘rock and roll’ as the health food industry gets really!  You ain’t going to look like Keith Richards drinking this stuff (which is surely a good thing).

Some technical info:

Pure Aloe Vera juice can be extracted by cutting the leaf, collecting the juice and then evaporating it. When used for drinking, the juice provides many benefits.  This is due to the fact that it contains 12 vitamins (including A, B1, B6, B12, C and E), 19 amino acids and over 20 minerals, with most of these being essential to the body.

Aloe Vera Plant

In Ayurveda, the Indian health system, Aloe Vera is known as Kumari (‘The Princess’) because of its positive effect on the menstrual cycle and female reproductive system. It is also known for its ability to cleanse the liver and protect the digestive system by reducing intestinal inflammation.

With ‘Raw June’ coming to the BHK, we are stocking up on all things healthy, revitalising and nutritious, it seems like Aloe Vera juice ticks all of these boxes and then some.    This bottle of Pukka Aloe Vera Juice now graces our fridge door shelf and we will soon be taking a few teaspoons a day to give us a boost, especially in the first week of the Raw diet, which we hear can be tough.

Just to clarify that we are in no way health experts and all of the medical claims above are exactly that, claims.  It is difficult to prove these things conclusively.  

Categories: Ayurveda, B.H.K Reviews, Detox, Healthy Living, Juices, Nutrition, Organic, Raw Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May’s Coffee Challenge – Welsh Coffee

We love Wales and feel that the local produce and suppliers just don’t get  the credit they deserve.  There are some amazing producers, doing amazing things with amazing ingredients!  In a way, we are lucky, because many of these Welsh gourmet types are not well-known.  We have them all to ourselves!  One such producer are the good people at Welsh Coffee.

Welsh Coffee

Welsh Coffee are a company from South Wales, producing fair trade coffee in small batches.  They pride themselves on intense coffee that is ‘roaster’ fresh and superior quality.

This month I am dedicating myself to transforming my dining area into a bijou cafe, serving the finest roasts and if I am lucky, a warm piece of Carrot and Bean Cake (see following post).  This is going well, a little Parisian music in the background, some attractive flowers, a nicely cushioned chair, there is just one thing missing, other people.  The atmosphere is a little subdued.

So ‘Builder Steve’ came over yesterday to look at our gable end (we are having damp issues) and I invited him to join me in the newly opened Beach House Cafe (not dissimilar to our dining area with a few bags of coffee scattered around the place) .  He’s a good coffee drinker and likes it black, which to me, is always a good sign.

‘Builder Steve’ is a local legend and one of the most philanthropic folk you are likely to meet.  I decided to crack open some special beans that I’ve been saving for just this kind of moment, our Welsh Coffee Aur (Gold), dragon roasted in Wales from 100% Arabica beans.  I had a feeling this was going to be one hell of a brew…..

Nicaraguan and Panamanian Beans

I ground the beans up, they were dark and shimmering and formed a lovely almost black powder.  The smell of fresh coffee filled the hours for hours after.   The beans for the Aur (Gold in Welsh) coffee are sourced from farmers in Nicaragua and Panama, two countries that we love.

I left it to brew for 5 minutes in our trusty orange cafetiere, the smell was intoxicating.  This dragon coffee is powerful stuff!  It produced a coffee with a deep colour and incredible aroma.  It is medium bodied with a balanced and smooth aftertaste.  This is the kind of coffee that can be enjoyed at any time, anywhere, anyhow!

(A short Welsh language lesson.  Coffee is Coffi in Welsh.  Which is one of the only words I can easily remember.  My Welsh speaking in developing slowly.  I also know the word for Taxi, which is Tacsi.  Poor show really.  I hope to get to some classes soon.  The first Welsh I actually learnt was via a band named  ‘Ffa Coffi Pawb’ (translated ‘Everthing’s Coffee Bean’), this was Gruff Rhys, lead singer with the Super Furry Animals, second band.)

‘Builder Steve’ and I chatted for a while, we talked of wrestling sheep, nuclear war heads being stored in the next village and the sin of damp rendering.  It was almost like a normal cafe experience.  Steve agreed that it was a ‘seriously good’ cup of coffee and a definite step up from the Nescafe he normally drinks on site.  I took this as a glowing reference for these lovely Welsh roasted beans.

Welsh Coffee – Aur (Gold)

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Local food, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

May’s Coffee Challenge – Union Hand Roasted Coffee

Union Coffee with my best mug

With our raw food diet starting in June, I am taking time to enjoy my favourite non-raw foodie things.  Coffee being top of the list.  I have set myself the indulgent task of sampling many of my favourite coffees before I go caffeine cold turkey in a few weeks.  I thought I would treat myself to start with by going for one my favourite roasters, Union Coffee.

I have my own little coffee ritual on a daily basis; even when I was super busy down in old London town, I always took time over my coffee.  Coffee time for me is around mid-morning and is always a moment of peace with a revitalising brew.  Even if it’s just a five-minute break, it changes the whole day for the better.

For me, it’s not about that ‘caffeine buzz’ that so many talk about, although it is probably a welcomed side effect most mornings.  Good coffee has a fascinating story and people like Union source and roast only the finest beans from around the world.  When I look at the options, Guatemalan, Rwandan, Indian, Indonesian….I can’t help but get excited.

The quality here comes from dedication and passion, and I see this in the coffees that Union produce.  They care about gourmet coffees produced ethically, it’s not just about the flavour and aroma; it is something that represents the people and environment where it was grown.

Indian Coffee Picker

Living up here in the beautiful wilds of North Wales, good cafes and coffee is thin on the ground.  We have to revert to ‘homebrews’, with our trusty orange cafetière.  This is actually my preferred coffee.  I like a black, long coffee.  No froth.  I had bought my own grinder recently only to find out that a blade grinder is not the best.  It can impair the flavour of the bean by producing heat and an irregular grind.  I have found this to be true; it ruined some great beans from Sheffield recently.  So from now on, I will buy all of my good coffee pre-ground for a cafetière.

To make the perfect pot of cafetière coffee see the guidelines here via the good people of Union.  If you use a filter machine or stove top pot, there are helpful hints here also.  There seems no point in getting the good stuff and ruining it with a dodgy method.

There are so many choices out there for a coffee drinker in the U.K., the selection at supermarkets can be bewildering.  I have found most supermarket bought coffee to be average at best and would much rather spend a little more on mail ordering some of the good stuff.  Worth every penny!

Union build strong relationships with their growers, they were initially inspired by micro-roastery cafes in San Francisco and also felt compelled to improve the difficult situation of growers in many coffee producing regions of the world.

‘Union’ refers to the relationship between the coffee roasters and the hardworking farmers who produce the beans.  They say:

We travel to coffee growing communities in remote regions around the world, building relationships and investing in sustainable livelihoods and farming practices. We discover coffees of distinction by engaging directly with coffee farmers and pair their best work with the art and craft of the coffee roaster.” 

Today I am trying the Bibi Estate AAA Microlot from Karnataka State, India.  This coffee intrigued me as I have visited India and know that there is some decent coffee down in Kerala, but have never tried anything from Karnataka.  India has been making increasingly better coffees in recent years and this one is made from the Arabica Catuai bean.  Bibi Estate is at 1000m above sea level on a 250 acre plantation that also produces peppercorns.

It is a pleasant surprise, a soft and gentle brew.  It has a lovely light nutty aroma and is the perfect mid-morning coffee.  Here is what the official tasters at Union think:

“Overall the cup is mild, with gentle acidity but medium to full-bodied; enjoy the aroma of pecan that follows through into the taste which has praline, toffee honey and ripe mango.”

This is a coffee that can be savoured and is not too overpowering like some of the more heavy weight roasts.

So thanks to the good people of Union for their passion and commitment to gourmet coffee and Mr Faiz Musakutty and his farmers and pickers all they way over there in Karnataka for the beans!

Union have set the bar pretty high here with the Bibi Estate  AAA.   I love their ethos of investing in local, remote farmers to maintain sustainable livelihoods.  I think their passion and integrity can be tasted in every cup.

Calling all coffee lovers and barista brethren: 

May is the month that we seek out the perfect home brew.  We will be sampling different roasts regularly.   

Any recommendations?

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Breakfast | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Iced Yogi Tea – Ginger Orange with Vanilla and Honey

Here is today’s beverage of choice, fit for a summers day (with a gentle chill in the breeze):

Iced Yogi Tea (Ginger, Orange, Vanilla and Honey)

I’ve always loved Yogi Tea.  They make an intense brew, packed with flavour and a lovely vibe permeates everything they do.  I like the little inspirational message on the end of the drawstring.  Todays read “take time to contemplate and deliberate”……..great advice when sitting in the garden, confronted by some bluebells and a pond wriggling with tadpoles.

I’ve tried a new one today, the Ginger Orange with Vanilla.  It is a delicious blend and makes a revitalising hot brew.  But with the sun out, I decided to cool things down a little.

This will work with many herbal tea bags.  You don’t just have to use black and lemon variety.

I made Jane and I a teapot full:

The Bits

Nice clean tea pot, 2 Yogi Orange Ginger with Vanilla Teabags, 1 spoon of your favourite honey (size of spoon and which hive you visit depends on you), chopped ginger (we don’t peel), 1 juicy orange (1/2 wedged, 1/2 sliced into rounds and all de-seeded)

Do It

Brew your tea using near boiling water for around 10 minutes (good to get all the flavour out of these beauties), add as much honey as you need at this stage.  Then leave in a cool place to chill out for a while (doorsteps are good for this).  If you like vanilla, add a teaspoon of good vanilla extract.

Get some nice tall glasses ready, fill 1/2 way with ice, add your chopped ginger (big slices are best here) and a wedge of orange (squeezed, juice over ice), the fill glass 2/3 with ice.

Serve

When fully cooled (this can be stuck in the fridge overnight if you like) pour into your gorgeous glasses and top with your orange slice and maybe one more slice of ginger.

We Love It!

This has inspired me to get rooting around my tea tin and being more creative with my summer refreshments.  Watch this space…..

Foodie Fact

Any drink made with vanilla is supposed to have aphrodisiac qualities.  Meow!

Its a shame, this looked and tasted brilliant, but my computer is not happy today and won’t upload photos, so here is one I found on google images.  You get the idea!

 

Orange Iced Tea

Thanks to Burlap and Basil for this pic (http://www.burlapandbasil.com)

Categories: Ayurveda, B.H.K Reviews, Detox, Infusions, Recipes, Relax, Tea | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rainbow ‘Slaw and Rosehip Tea

Beets and 'Rots

Today the sky is the deepest of greys, the washing nearly blew away and Jane poured a pint of water all over her computer.  We both held the stricken machine in our hands, then noticed the water pouring out of the side with the plug still in the wall…the penny dropped…we placed it in-front of the fire and thanked our lucky stars for not getting frazzled.

We put on some Vashti Bunyan and started to make lunch……….

Out of this peaceful state came this wonderful combination of vibrant colours and flavours.  The salad is an old friend from past summer days, the beetroot, carrot and orange is a tantalising combination and packed full of good things.  Preparation could not be easier, this is a real raw food delight.  The tea is fairly straightforward also!

From a potential near-death experience, to a rainbow lunch and ‘Rosehip November’ (in April).  Happy days at the Beach House.

The ‘Slaw

The Bits

1 large beetroot, 1 large carrot, 1 large chunk of butternut squash (optional, just increase the carrot by one), juice of half an orange, handful of chopped coriander.

Do It

Grate all veggies, we used a hand grater, or plug-in your food processor.  I appreciated the exercise actually.  I peeled the beetroot and the squash.  Squeeze in the OJ and throw in the greenery.  Add the finely chopped pith of the orange for even more of a citrus POW!  Mix up and leave at room temp for a while, let the flavours mingle a little.

Serve

We made a lunch out of it with some toasted leek oatbread (recipe soon to appear on the blog) and cucumber raita.  This is a versatile ‘slaw that will brighten up any plate.

We spiced it up with a couple of pinches of Ras El- Hanout spice and a splash of olive  oil.  Our raw life starts in June, why not live dangerously for a while!

The Tea 

Clipper Rose hip (and Hibiscus)

It’s a Clipper Tea.  An organically grown infusion, fruity, with a deep colour and plenty of vitamin C.  The good people of Clipper are in all of our supermarkets in the UK and always good value.

They use unbleached bags and have an awesome range.  Their black tea is a winner with a splash of soya milk (and lashings of honey, B.H.K style).  We have also tried the tasty Dandelion and Burdock Tea, which took us back to our childhood days, drinking the fizzy sweet version out of glass bottles in bracken, near streams.

Buy the Rose hip tea here:

http://shop.clipper-teas.com/teas/fruit/organic-rosehip-infusion

And check out the new Clipper Green Room, for offers on the range of teas and loads of top giveaways:

http://www.clippergreenroom.com/

Foodie Fact

Rose hip has been used for years for its health properties, the fruit of the Rose is especially good for the joints.  The Vikings used it on long sea voyages to ward off scurvy, its packed with Vitamin C.  It also contains most of the B vitamins and the mighty vitamin K, with antioxidants and rich fatty acids surely making this a real superfood.

Rosehip November/ April

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Infusions, Low G.I. (glycemic index), Lunch, Organic, Raw Food, Recipes, Salads, Side Dish, Snacks and Inbetweens, Superfoods, Tea, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Amazing Salts! Halen Mon Sea Salt, Anglesey

http://www.halenmon.com/

I am still relatively new to the north Wales area and am just getting to know a few like-minded people and producers.  I have recently met a few ‘foodies’ up in these hills and they all rave about the local produce, normally mentioning Halen Mon Salt from the Isle of Anglesey.  I have rarely seen people so passionate about their seasonings!  Heston Blumethal and Barak Obama are converts.  I felt compelled to know more.

Halen Mon is definitely our kind of supplier, the business started with a pan of sea water being heated on the Wilson family stove.  Now, a few years later, they are suppling top restaurants and chefs around the world.

Having gone off salt for a while, figuring that the food we eat contains enough of it, Halen Mon Salt has made me realise that a pinch of good seasoning can make all the difference.  Like anything, quality matters.

Their salt is made with charcoal filtered seawater that has passed through a mussel bed and a sandbank!  Sea salt is simply made by heating the water and drying until crystals form.  They are then washed in brine to make them shine.

Halen Mon have a fine selection of salts made by a lovely bunch of people.  We have been using a selection of them in our cooking.  The celery salt adds a distinct flavour to light salad dressings and the Tahitian vanilla salt compliments dark chocolate perfectly (see our ‘Bitter Chocolate Ricotta’ recipe).  I have used their ‘Welsh Oak’ smoked salt on roasted vegetables and haloumi and the flavour is delicious.

Our favourite salt recipe at the moment is spiced nuts, using their ‘Sea Salt with Organic Spices’.  Mix a few pinches of the salt with hot oil in a frying pan, pour in a selection of your favourite nuts and bake in a medium over until well roasted (15 minutes or so).  This salt can also be used to liven up the humble roast potato.  Having a range of salt like this in your larder increases your creativity as a cook.

The Halen Mon site has some informative, unbiased info on the pros and cons of salt in your diet (http://www.halenmon.com/faq.aspx).  Basically cut out the processed food made in factories and cook your own, with a sprinkle of Halen Mon to bring out the flavour.

Quality sea salt is pure and contains non of the anti-caking agents and other dodgy additives found in normal table salt.

Halen Mon is the finest salt I have tasted.  I love using it in dishes with a subtle flavour.  Salt is something that we normally just throw into food, every time I use Halen Mon, it reminds me of the importance of each ingredient in a dish.

The Beach House overlooks the Irish sea, which is blue today under bright sunshine,  we are very lucky to be using such brilliant produce made from that very water.  Without producers like Halen Mon, cooking would be so much duller and our food certainly less tasty.

Beach View, the beautiful Irish Sea

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Local food, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Midnight Biriyani

We had just got in from a long day travelling back from Spain (via the gnarled maze that is Manchester), the cupboards were bare and our bellies empty. I managed to dig out some potatoes, onion and garlic and whip up this tasty little comfort dish. It is simple enough to get together after a long journey, or night out and really hits the spot.
Biriyani is a staple in Northern India and its quality and complexity varies greatly. This is a simple attempt based on getting it hot and into your belly with minimum fuss. It reminds me of the Biriyanis served in Indian train stations, ladled out of giant metal pans on a dried palm leaf.  They were always a blessing after many hours rocking around in a grotty train carriage.
Good ghee will make all the difference to this dish, it adds  and shine. We are using ‘Pukka Organic Ghee’, which has a lovely dark colour and deep flavour.  In fact, one teaspoon of this ghee matches the richness of three teaspoons of my homemade ghee, meaning less fat in the dish.

Pukka Organic Ghee

Pukka Ghee

http://www.pukkaherbs.com/ghee.html

This recipe fed two very hungry travellers, with plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

The Bits
4 small potatoes, 2 red onions, 4 cloves garlic, 2 heaped teas chopped ginger, 2 heaped teas good curry powder (or your prefered mix), 1/3 teas of powdered cinnamon, 2 good-sized tomatoes (chopped), 1 clove, 2 cardamom pods, 1 teas carraway seeds (optional), a handful of raisins, a handful of cashews (if your feeling decadent!), 2 cups of rice (white is traditional, brown is better for the body), 1 tin of drained chickpeas, 2 teas Pukka Ghee, s+p.  Jane is not a fan of chilli, but I would add one.

Do It

Heat a large non-stick saucepan with a dash of oil and the ghee on a moderate heat.  Chop potatoes into chunks, add to pan, chop onions finely, add, chop garlic finely, add, then the ginger and cashews, fry for a couple of minutes.  Season.  When the potatoes have taken a little colour and the onions softened, add your spice, clove and cardamom, heat through, stirring regularly.  Add your tomatoes and raisins, then the rice.  Stir well for a minute, all should be shiny.  Add enough water to cover all by 1/2 inch and bring to a gentle boil.  Cover well and turn to your lowest heat setting.  Leave for 45 minutes, without lifting the lid (very important), the trapped steam is doing all the cooking and must be trusted!  When the rice is cooked, fluff up with a fork, adding the chickpeas, then leave for a few minutes to let them warm through.

Serve
Initially we had it straight from the pan, with spoons, nice and warm.

We have had this dish since with a basic 4 egg omelette, chopped up and mixed in or if you really want to push the boat out, mix in lemon juice, yoghurt and chopped coriander and mint leaves, adding another handful of cashew nuts.

We Love It!

Biryani is a real taste sensation!  All those spices with sweet onion and raisin and the richness of ghee and cashew.  This recipes is super versatile and can be added to, making it a real show stopper of a dish or simplified to make it real quick and satisfying.

Foodie Fact

Ghee is much more than just clarified butter, it is used in many religious Hindu ceremonies and is truly the stuff of legend!  Many myths extol the virtues of this golden butter.  It is used widely in the ancient systems of Ayurveda.

Ghee burns at high temperature and the flavour will intensify the longer it is heated.  It contains hydrogenated fats, making it healthier than normal butter and it also contains no lactose, making it suitable for those who are lactose intolerant.

Ghee will stimulate stomach acids and will help to soften your skin and brighten your eyes.  It contains anti-viral acids and may have medicinal qualities, but these are still unconfirmed.

It is basically like butter, but better!

Shimla Toy Train

Categories: Ayurveda, B.H.K Reviews, Dinner, gluten-free, Lunch, Nutrition, photography, Recipes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

B.H.K. Review – Allegra McEvedy ‘Bought, Borrowed and Stolen’

‘Some women collect shoes, Allegra collects knives.’

A cookbook full of ‘Recipes and Knives from a Travelling Chef’.  Allegra’s books are always full of good writing and inspiration, but ‘Bought, Borrowed and Stolen’ inspires with not only the food, but the tools that make it and the personal journey behind each dish.

From San Francisco to Burma, this book is a true labour of love.  Allegra has definitely put in the hard yards here.  It’s an insight into many revealing journeys over nearly a quarter of a century and most of the planet.  Ever seeking sharp edges, shiny people, proper food and other tasty mouthfuls.

I own a couple of Allegra’s books, but this is the best read.  It’s as much a memoir as a gang of recipes; the memoirs of a foodie in love with the world and its diverse cultures and traditions, always lead to culinary adventures, relating directly to the plate and the belly.

Allegra has been out and about, distilling years of travel and great eating into these pages.  There is a real sense of love and passion that comes through in the writing. Allegra seems to get to the heart of each country visited and as we know, the best way a people’s hearts……….are their bellies (or rib cages and I’m sure Allegra will have a knife to suit!!!!!).

Jane gifted me this wonderful cook/travel book for crimbo.  It graces our windowsill turquoise and when opened, explodes with even more vivid colours.  Allegra’s food is always vibrant and challenges the stuffy ‘elite’ of British cooking.  You may know who I mean?!  Unlike most famous chefs, Allegra actually has a great sense of humour!  You are allowed to laugh, enjoy and be natural whilst cooking.  Not fickle or false.  Allegra’s cooking comes from the heart, not an assembly line of egos.  Hoorah!

It’s not a veg cookbook, but there are many veggie options.  The meat dishes can always be played around with; an aubergine here, a pumpkin there and you’ve got worthy substitutes for a slab of beef (sort of).  Allegra’s enthusiasm and talent is prevalent on each page.  The travel writing paints magical pictures of markets, stalls and kitchens encountered along the way.  This is an insight into a real cooks (chefs?!) pilgrimage from working on the ‘line’ to being one of Britain’s best-loved and talented foodie people (chefs?!).

Allegra gave up cooking ‘posh food for posh people’ years ago and since then has commited her time to giving great, affordable food, to the masses; via Leon Restaurants and many other charitable projects.  Bagging an MBE along the way.  Allegra is regularly on TV, her most recent show was ‘Economy Gastronomy’ and to cap it all off (for now), has been made only one of three ‘patrons’ for the fair trade movement.  Allegra is quite a busy lady.

To add to the job list, it appears Allegra may need to build an extension to accommodate her knife drawer!  I am sure it resembles some kind of ancient armoury.  I wonder is she has a spear?  I have one good knife, but this book has wet my appetite for more.  Maybe one of those ‘Oaxacan Whackers’ to have a go at a particularly stubborn beetroot.  Bring on the carnage!

The knives all seem to embody the food culture of the place.  The are all fascinating in their own way, many exhibiting great craftsmanship, many purely barbaric.  My personal favourites are an elegant Japanese Unagi Saki, handle-less; deadly looking, like something a Ninja would carry in there sock.  The Grenadine Scrimshaw is a tasty looking pen knife, the Phoenician Phoenix is ostentatious and the Burmese Machete looks like something you’d reduce a tree to splinters with.

Difficult to say which is my favourite recipe.  There are many.  The Shepherd’s Salad went down well at a Veg. Hen Party I cooked for recently.  The Hens liked the pomegranate.  The Black Sticky Rice is a treat, the Sweet and Sour Aubergine, Rooibos Malve Pudding, the list goes on and on…………..these recipes will grace many a happy occasion in the Beach House.

I love the fact that Allegra has copied these recipes down in situ, in the moment.  Scribbled in one of her many food diaries and then copied down here, straight on the page.  There is no messing with the dishes or ‘dolling them up’, making the food technical and overly complex.  It’s straight from the stall to the page, showing Allegra’s integrity, in honouring foods simplicity and respecting the lineage and tradition of the many cultures cuisines.  How we eat says so much about who we are and the recipes here seem like a true reflection of that.

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Allegra in Malawi

Allegra wears her heart on her sleeve, which makes the book a personal quest for culinary insight, as opposed to a bunch of recipes re-hashed with a tenuous theme.  This is ‘real’ soul food with choppers!

I had the pleasure of working with Allegra for a short time with Leon Restaurants and I can imagine her in these far off places, being charming and impressing all with a passion for good food and good livin’.  Allegra is so kind and genuine, I’m sure this has opened many a doorway.   This book acts as a portal to the kitchens, history and characters of the world (and their cutlery drawers!).

Wherever you are in the world, there’s no better way of giving people joy than by handing them a plate of food made with love … and watching them love it too.”

Cheers Allegra!

Heres Allegra’s site:  http://www.allegramcevedy.com/Allegra/Biography.html

I also recommend the ‘Colour Cookbook’.  It’s cheap on Amazon.

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I feel that cookbooks are generally overpriced and not necessary.  I own three.  Just think about all that amazing produce you could buy with 30 quid!  I have notebooks full of recipes, all very personal and much-loved.  This suit me fine.

I prefer to get my inspiration, like Allegra, through travel and eating as opposed to second-hand in a sumptuously photographed hardbacks (lets face it, you can’t eat photographs, or books for that matter).  I like scribbled recipes and cooking from brilliant memories of taste and occasion.  However, if you are ever going to waste money on a cookbook.  This is the one! 

2012-01-17-miniKnives.jpg

A few of Allegras choppers

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Recipes, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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