Monday, 14 December 2015

Super healthy Polish sauerkraut soup

Sauerkraut doesn't sound terribly sexy I know. Yet it's one of the healthiest things you can eat due to its vitamin C, mineral and probiotic content. The juice from the cabbage is a brilliant hangover remedy, my dad assures me, although I haven't tried it myself. I do, however, crave this wintery soup from time to time.
I have limited the amount of pork that goes in to just some good quality lardons (from Ginger Pig of course) and used a beef rib for the stock. Since I've been working on the book I have realized how vague my recipes can be. It's because I see cooking as something that's adaptable and not an exact art, yet I can see that being vague often confuses perfectly simple matters, therefore it's something I've been working on and I hope my recipes now reflect this.


2 litres water
500g sauerkraut
1 beef rib
150g lardons
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 onion, peeled and charred over stove
1 celery stick with leaves
2 bay leaves
5 allspice berries
5 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin
White and black pepper

Cook the rib with the carrot, parsnip, celery and onion with the bay leaves, allspice and peppercorns in the water for at least 1 hour, preferably 1.5 hours.

Remove the vegetables and beef, add the potatoes and sauerkraut. Add the cumin. Cook for a further 30min.

Meanwhile, fry the lardons on a frying pan until slightly crispy. Add these to the soup for the final 10min.

Season with black and white pepper. The soup doesn't need salt as the sauerkraut is already salty.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Matcha and marshmallow cake: an alternative Christmas cake

Otherwise known as the "Waiting Cake". I am more than 1 week overdue now and even though I know my baby will make an appearance soon I am feeling under pressure to start already. I like my hospital (Whittington) and all the staff I've met are lovely, yet I can't help noticing that everyone is very keen to get this baby out as soon as possible. Why? Surely, the baby should come when it's ready and not when everyone else is ready. Sometimes, it feels like our culture/society has got it's priorities wrong. I watched "Birth Story" recently and it's made me feel very hippy about the whole process (or perhaps it's just reinforced my natural hippiness). I've managed to put off my sweep until Monday, so that gives our little girl the weekend to get going. In the meantime, I am trying to relax so that I'm not hindering her with anxiety or fear. Breathe, meditate, eat. Of course, this is the problem - when you feel rushed, you aren't naturally relaxed. There is something inherently relaxing about baking though, especially when you go freestyle. This cake turned out quite Christmassy with it's soft green sponge and snowy white logs. It would work very well in cupcake form too.


100g butter
50g coconut oil
150g plain flour
150g icing sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 heaped tablespoon matcha powder
1 tablespoon plain yoghurt/ soured cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


100g mascapone
50g icing sugar
1 teapsoon matcha powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
Marshmallows to decorate

I used my favourite method of baking, which is to melt the butter and coconut oil first in a pan, then combine it with the sugar and then slowly to soft the flour in while mixing all the time. About half way through adding the flour, crack the eggs in and carry on with the rest of the flour and cream of tartar. Finally, stir in the match powder, vanilla and yoghurt. I put in some marshmallows at this point too, but they just melted into the cake rather than create chewy bits, so I don't think there's much point in doing that. Bake in a small loaf tin that's been greased with coconut oil or butter. You can of course replace the coconut oil with more butter if you don't have any - I like to make my cakes a little bit healthier by using some coconut oil. Of course, matcha is crazy good for you too. It takes 30min on 180 degrees C. Allow it to cool before icing and decorating.