Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Yum! Festival of Food and Drink (part 2)

As I started my series of Yum! Food Festival blogs with a very meaty sausage roll and as I am preparing another blog regarding Stanley’s Brasserie’s Brisket Sandwich, I think the carnivores amongst us are well catered for so far. So, it is time to give the other end of the foodie spectrum some attention thanks to the cooking demonstration and recipe by Katy Beskow, from vegan blog Little Miss Meat-Free.

Katy, on the Main Dish stage, during her demonstration.

As Katy writes on her website, she is a “self- taught home cook and food writer with a passion for simple, delicious dishes,” who loves “creating foods that surprise people when I tell them it’s vegan. It’s like a wonderful, flavoursome surprise!”


You can find Little Miss Meat-Free on:

During her demonstration, Katy shared two recipes with us: Beetroot Risotto and Double Chocolate Cupcakes.

I was most intrigued by the Beetroot Risotto. I love risotto but I usually make mine with roasted butternut squash or asparagus and peas; beetroot is not a vegetable I would have thought of using so I had to give this recipe a go. And it works beautifully! The finished product is a magnificent ruby colour, which in itself is an absolute delight, but is also creamy (without the addition of dairy), and fresh thanks to the addition of lemon juice at the end of the cooking.

Here is the link to Katy’s original recipe:

The recipe below is my take on it, using the notes I made during Katy’s demonstration, but I’ll make sure to try this recipe again following Katy’s original instructions.

Little Miss Meat-Free’s Beetroot Risotto (the Yum! version)

Ingredients (serves 3)

2tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp dried thyme
150g Arborio rice
4 small cooked beetroot, diced
600ml vegetable stock
Juice of half a large lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, cook the onion in the olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Your onion should become soft and translucent but should not be browned. This is what you’re looking for:

Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a further minute until the garlic becomes very fragrant.

Add the rice to the pan and stir thoroughly until the rice is well mixed with the onions and coated with the oil.

Add your cubed beetroot to the pan.

Add one ladle of the stock to the pan and stir until it has been absorbed. Then add the stock one ladle at a time, and stir very often. Do not add any stock until the previous ladleful has been absorbed by the rice.

Once you have used all your stock, your rice should be cooked through and the texture of your risotto should be creamy, thanks to the starch in the Arborio rice.

Add the lemon juice to the risotto (do not omit the lemon juice; it complements the earthiness of the beetroot and bring freshness and zing to the whole dish.)

Taste your risotto and add pepper and salt if needed (always put salt in your dish at the end of your cooking time; you may need to add more or less depending on the salt content of your vegetable stock.)


Even if you are not vegan, please give this unusual recipe a go; you will be pleasantly surprised. Thank you Katy for sharing it with us!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Yum! Festival of Food and Drink 2014 (part 1)

The Yum! Festival of Food and Drink took place in Hull on the 7th, 8th and 9th of August. It was a showcase of local and regional food and drink producers, with stalls ranging from cheeses, breads, olives, honey and much, much more. And, as well as all those local goodies, there were many stalls inviting you to experience food from around the world.

I was invited to be part of a team of food bloggers that would attend and blog about the event. If you follow Sandra’s Holistic Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you will have seen a ton of shared info and links about some of the products I enjoyed (and their dedicated producers, of course J.)

However, I wanted to do a bit more about the Yum! Festival of Food and Drink as I spent a wonderful three days there as one of their bloggers, chatting with stall-holders and sampling gorgeous products. But, I wasn’t quite sure where to start as I had an abundance of information after three days.

And then I realised that, for me, the best way to start is always with a recipe (or two!)

The Yum! Festival provided us with great cooking demonstrations by local and regional chefs. I attended as many of those demonstrations as I could, to the point that the compère for those demonstrations, Darren Lethem (KCFM radio presenter – Find Darren on Twitter at started to wonder if I had a season pass! He started referring to me as “the resident blogger” and wanted to make sure I would mention on here that he wore very nice suits. I can report that he did indeed wear very nice suits! J

Darren was a fab compère for the event; he seemed to put all the chefs at ease and was good at asking relevant questions regarding their techniques or choice of ingredients. He also didn’t mind laughing at himself, especially when he was served a particularly spicy and fiery chicken wing!
Darren Lethem, host of the Yum! cooking demonstrations.

I really enjoyed these demonstrations and appreciated these chefs sharing their recipes, tips and techniques with us. So, in what I hope is the first blog in a series dedicated to what I discovered at the Yum! Festival of Food and Drink 2014, I am sharing with you two recipes today: Thieving Harry’s sausage roll and Stanley’s Brasserie’s Louisiana slaw.


Thieving Harry’s Sausage Roll:

Thieving Harry's.

After being a pop-up café, Thieving Harry’s is now placing roots at 73 Humber Street in Hull. Thieving Harry's focuses on great food, speciality coffee, tea and freshly baked cakes and savouries, all served in a welcoming environment with some of the best views in Hull.

Find more about Thieving Harry’s on:

Holly, Thieving Harry’s chef, gave a great demonstration and she gave us the recipe with measurements, which in my eyes makes her my hero!! Most of the other chefs had a tendency to throw ingredients in their pans without measuring too much, which is difficult when, as a blogger, you’re trying to write the recipe down to replicate it at home!

Holly, from Thieving Harry's, during her cooking demonstration.

I halved Holly’s recipe to make it “easier to handle.” But, seeing as my son moaned about the fact that we had only enough sausage roll for two meals (ONLY!), I think I should have kept the original quantities as they were! J

Ingredients (for the pastry dough):

175g plain flour
100g very cold butter
2-3tbsp very cold water


In a large mixing bowl, measure out the flour. Then, using a box grater, grate the very cold butter into the flour. To make this easier, toss the butter in the flour first – ensuring it is well coated with the flour – before grating it.

Add the very cold water, one spoonful at a time, while mixing the pastry dough with a palette knife (this stops the butter from melting under the heat of your hands.) You may need more or less water – it all depends on your flour – so make sure to add it only a little bit at a time to avoid making your pastry dough too wet.

Once the dough starts coming together, tip it on a well-floured surface and quickly shape it into a rectangular block. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill while you prepare the sausage mix.

Ingredients (for the sausage mix):

750g sausage meat (if you cannot find plain sausage meat, buy some of your favourite sausages and simply pop the sausage meat out of the casings)
¼ onion, finely diced
2-3 sage leaves, finely sliced
40g parmesan, grated


Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl (make sure the sage and onion are finely chopped.)


To make the sausage roll, preheat your oven at 200C/180C fan.

On a well floured surface, roll out your pastry into a long rectangle. Using a pastry brush, cover the whole pastry rectangle with some egg wash (which is simply one egg beaten with 1tbsp of water.) Lay the sausage meat on top of the pastry and shape it in a long log in the middle of the pastry rectangle. Fold the pastry over the sausage meat.

Roll in the flour to seal the pastry around the sausage meat. You can either cut the large sausage roll into smaller portions or bake it as a whole. Regardless of the method you choose (I chose to bake it as a whole,) brush some egg wash on top of the pastry dough and then sprinkle with a little rock salt.

Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown on top. If you have baked the large sausage roll, leave it to cool for a few minutes before slicing. The sausage roll can be enjoyed hot or cold.

My Thieving Harry's sausage roll.


Stanley’s Brasserie’s Louisiana Slaw:

Stanley's Brasserie

Stanley’s Brasserie can be found at 2 Paragon square in Hull. Stanley’s Brasserie offers the finest food, drink and surroundings for all occasions and for all of customers no matter what age.
Find more about Stanley's Brasserie on:

 James, the chef from Stanley’s Brasserie shared his recipe for a Louisiana slaw with us. During his cooking demonstration, he served it with a brisket sandwich but I thought it would work wonderfully with the richness of the sausage roll. James didn’t give precise measurements so I’ve had to work out the right amount of ingredients; this will serve four people.

James, from Stanley's Brasserie, during his cooking demonstration.


½ red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
½ green chilli, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced (James used Chinese garlic)
2 pickled gherkins, finely diced
½ red onion, finely sliced in half-moons
4tbsp vinegar (James used malt vinegar, I used apple cider vinegar)
2tbsp mayonnaise (for my home-made mayonnaise recipe, please see the following blog entry:


In large mixing bowl, mix together all the vegetables then add the vinegar and mayonnaise. Toss to ensure all the vegetables are coated with the dressing.

Stanley's Brasserie's Louisiana slaw served with Thieving Harry's sausage roll.

Thank you very much to Holly from Thieving Harry’s and James from Stanley’s Brasserie for sharing these wonderful recipes with us. There will be more in the next few days… Get ready for Stanley’s Brasserie’s Brisket Sandwich and Little Miss Meat-Free’s Beetroot Risotto.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

The things you find in the World Food aisle!

I love the World Food aisle at Tesco – it is quite the treasure trove for a nutritionist and recipe developer. It is often there that I find my most unusual ingredients such as chickpea flour and coconut oil for example, but also bigger bags of ground almond and rice flour, for my gluten-free baking, much cheaper than anything I would find at the baking aisle. The same goes for bags of nuts, herbs and spices (again, much cheaper than buying those little glass jars.)
Mainly, the food you can find in the World Food section tends to be Asian or Indian, but from time to time, the shop must receive a different kind of stock and all of a sudden, you get the pleasant surprise of finding a few shelves of Caribbean foodstuff. The potential for foodie discoveries is never-ending! J
So, imagine my excitement (and my son’s) when we found a few shelves of American products on Friday. I shall not tell a lie, most of the stuff was incredibly unhealthy or ridiculously expensive (£7 for a box of Lucky Charms cereals?! I still haven’t recovered from that one) and I still can’t get the image of marshmallows bigger and thicker than hockey pucks out of my mind.
However, I could not resist buying a couple of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. I discovered them when I went to Chicago 22 years ago during a student exchange (no, I did not wince with pain as I typed 22! J) When I was staying in Chicago, my lovely host family gave me a pretty basket full of chocolate goodies for Easter; amongst said goodies were Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and they were oh so delicious! It was actually in Chicago that I discovered peanut butter full-stop, and to this day, I still enjoy a peanut butter and jam sandwich from time to time J
But the one thing I was most excited to find in that little US corner of the World Food section was pumpkin puree in a tin. I love adore(!) pumpkin and always feel sad that you can only find it in the shops around Halloween time. Which means that I buy about three of them in one go before they disappear from the shops, and we end up eating all things pumpkin for a week or so… We have nicknamed this time of year “Pumpkin Madness Week.”

At the sight of pumpkin puree, the words “pumpkin pie” came to my mind immediately and, of course, I could not resist buying a tin. I’m actually thinking of going back to Tesco to see if they have any tins left and make a little stock of them for the next few months. And, if a few Reese’s Peanut Butter cups find their way in my shopping basket at the same time… Well, I shan’t feel too bad about it J

Please note: you do not have to use tinned pumpkin puree for this recipe; you can as easily make your own pumpkin puree. Dice your pumpkin and steam it until it is fork-tender; then, puree it in your food processor or using an immersion blender. However, this results in a very watery puree, which would make it very difficult for your pumpkin filling to set. I would recommend squeezing the excess water out of the pumpkin puree by placing it in a clean kitchen towel and simply wringing the water out. Once you end up with a “drier” puree, you are ready to use it for this recipe.




Pumpkin Pie


Sweet pastry dough
(for the basic sweet pastry dough recipe, please follow this link to my previous blog on this topic:
2 large eggs

150g golden caster sugar

½ tsp sea salt
1.5tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground clove
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
250ml evaporated milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
425g pumpkin puree


Preheat your oven at 200C/180C fan.

On a well-floured surface, roll out the pastry dough and line a pie dish (the deeper it is, the better.) Pop the pie dish back into the fridge to chill the dough whilst you prepare the pumpkin filling.

In large mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, salt, spices and pumpkin puree using a hand whisk (but do not beat too much air into the mixture; you do not want it to rise.)

Then, blind bake your pastry dough. In order to do this, first take the pie dish out of the fridge and dock the dough (poke little holes all over the surface of the dough with a fork; this allows the steam to escape and stops your dough from rising.) Then, cover the dough with one layer of baking parchment and one layer of foil (be careful to properly cover the edge of your dough to protect it from the heat; this is a sugary pastry dough and it therefore has a higher tendency to burn.) Fill the lined pastry case with baking beans (ceramic or otherwise; their weight will further prevent your dough from rising) and bake your pastry shell for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, take your pastry shell out of the oven and turn your oven down to 170C/150C fan. Remove the baking beans, foil and baking parchment. Pour your pumpkin mixture in the pastry shell and place back in the oven. Bake for a further 35-40 minutes until the pumpkin mixture is set (a cake tester inserted in the centre should come out clean.)

If the edge of your pastry starts to burn during baking, protect it with a double layer of foil, being careful for the foil not to touch the surface of the pumpkin mixture.

Once baked, leave your pumpkin pie to cool for at least 20-30 minutes before you try to slice it (otherwise it will fall apart.) It can then be served with a garnish of toasted pumpkin seeds, or even a generous dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.



Friday, 4 July 2014

Friday Focus: Lettuce

In honour of my most successful crop this year, this week’s blog will focus on the humble lettuce.
I am very fortunate to have an allotment and to be able to grow my own vegetables – not always successfully, I must admit, but I am learning all the time J
Before the allotment, I even used to grow “cut-and-come-again” lettuce in big pots in my backyard so I’d have a supply throughout the summer. This year, for a change, I planted little gems and I was rewarded by a plentiful crop. As I am harvesting it, I am re-planting some mixed leaves seeds to carry on getting lettuce for the rest of the summer. If you are new to gardening, lettuce is a very good vegetable to start with: it grows easily, with very little care but you must make sure to keep the slugs away from it!

Lettuce has a high potassium content, which makes it a mild diuretic, while its chlorophyll helps detoxify the blood and liver. Other nutrients in lettuce include folic acid (important to prevent birth defects) and beta carotene and vitamin C, two antioxidants which help boost the immune system.
Studies have also shown that, thanks to its vitamin K content, older women who eat lettuce every day have half as many hip fractures as those who eat it less than once a week.
The lettuce contains many minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, which all help generate energy. It also contains a natural sedative that relaxes the nervous system and induces sleep, so a big mixed salad with plenty of lettuce is a perfect choice for your supper.
This week, I am not sharing a recipe but I am hoping to inspire you with several ideas for delicious and colourful mixed salads. All these are salads I prepared and ate last week, following a huge harvest of my little gems. I hope the warmer weather will entice you to try those combinations… After all, salads do not have to be boring J
(For salad dressing recipes, please follow this link:
1-      Mixed salad with lettuce, peas, green beans, pancetta cubes and grated parmesan (served with French dressing)
2-      Mixed salad with roasted carrots, walnuts and feta cheese (served with a balsamic vinegar dressing) – this recipe was inspired by the Warm Salad of Roasted Carrots in Harry Eastwood’s A Salad for All Seasons.
3-      Mixed salad with lettuce, avocado and roasted sweet potato “croutons” (served with a French dressing)
4-      Mixed salad with lettuce, cucumber and feta cheese (served with a French dressing)
5-      Chicken Cesar salad with sweet potato “croutons”

Friday, 27 June 2014

Friday Focus: Eggs

Another one of my “can’t-be-without” ingredients, I call eggs “the ultimate fast food.”

They are an excellent source of B vitamins, zinc, iron and phospholipids (fats required for cell membrane and a healthy brain.) They are one of the few non-meat sources of vitamin A, which supports vision; vitamin D needed for strong and healthy bones, and B12, which supports many of the body’s processes.

The vitamin E in eggs is a powerful antioxidant, which thins the blood, benefits the heart and fight harmful free radicals. They also contain Omega-3 fats and a B vitamin called choline, which are both required for normal brain function, and lutein, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Eggs are rich in vitamin K, which helps to heal bruises and minor sport injuries by ensuring that blood is able to clot normally, so it could also reduce the risk of blood clots in the arteries. Eggs are also a rich source of selenium, which rejuvenates the immune system and protects the heart.

Low in saturated fat and high in protein, eggs have been shown to improve brain function. It is thought their high lecithin content enhances memory, improves the ability to concentrate and promotes a healthy emotional state.

Egg yolks are the richest known source of choline, the B vitamin that makes up cell membranes, helping the body to convert fats to acetylcholine, an important memory molecule needed in the brain. They are also a concentrated source of muscle-building amino acids and nutrients. Their high zinc content boosts immunity and is beneficial for liver function as well as tissue repair and healing. It is also vital for the production of collagen, which is needed for healthy, useful skin.

Because eggs contain 8 of the 10 essential amino acids, they benefit everything in our body, from hair to bones and muscles.

Many may worry about the cholesterol content of eggs but research has shown that the cholesterol present in eggs does not circulate in the blood. In fact, of the 5g of fat contained in an egg, most is monounsaturated, which is the type that helps lower the risks of heart disease.

Basic Egg Omelette

The following recipe isn’t complicated or fancy, but it is one I use every week, several times a week sometimes. Eggs, for me, are the ultimate fast food. There is nothing easier or quicker to prepare than an omelette or scrambled eggs.

This recipe is a base; you can then add a variety of ingredients to “dress-up” your omelette: grated mature cheddar, chopped parsley, chopped spinach, cubes of ham, roasted red pepper, sliced cooked potatoes, cubes of chorizo… Your imagination is the limit! J

Serves 1


1.5tsp olive oil
2 large eggs
3tbsp milk of choice
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Heat the olive oil, in a frying pan, over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.

Once the pan and oil are hot, pour the eggs in the pan and swirl them around the pan to set the base. Cook for 3 minutes.

(At this point, you may wish to sprinkle your extra ingredients on top of your omelette.)

When the base of the omelette is set, you can either put your omelette under a hot grill for a couple of minutes to set the top, or if you do not have a grill, use a palette knife and run it around the edge of the omelette, lifting it up gently and letting the uncooked egg run to the bottom of the pan. Cook for a further 3 minutes until your omelette is golden and has puffed-up.

Using the palette knife, gently fold the omelette in two and serve immediately with a side of green salad.