Homemade Goat's Ricotta

Recently I've been trying my hand at making as much as I can from scratch. From nut milks and butters to jams, bread and pasta, I've been searching for ways to make the food that I cook more clean, economical and most importantly resulting in less wastage.  

Of course there is the added wow factor of a meal made in its entirety by your own hands, a certain smugness when telling those eating it how you spent time peeling the tomatoes that would come to be in the most delicious sauce, or kneading the dough that would eventually be the toast on their plate. Yes, a little bit of smugness might irritate even the politest of guests (read: live-in boyfriend), but you know - modesty is a virtue, right? 

When it comes to cheese, ricotta is up there with halloumi (forever my undisputed favourite) and in my house it's spread on toast, stuffed into pasta shells or simply eaten with a spoon. Yes, I am one of those girls that eats cheese with a spoon. I HAVE NO SHAME. 

Luckily, when it comes to cheese, ricotta is probably the easiest to make at home. All it takes is three ingredients, a thermometer and a muslin cloth and pow, you've got the good stuff. How does it work I hear you say? Heat milk until scalding, pour in your acidity (white wine vinegar, lemon etc), add a pinch of salt and then leave it be before straining and slathering onto sourdough toast topped with radish slices and freshly cracked pepper. Or whatever else you fancy. 

This recipe uses goat's milk in place of regular cow's for a mild goat-y finish, and a consistency closer to a somewhat crumbly chèvre. Just like regular ricotta but with a bad ass attitude. 


Homemade Goat's Ricotta

Makes 500g

Ingredients

2 litres goat's milk

80ml white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

 

Method

1. Add the goat's milk to a saucepan and heat on medium until it reaches 200°F.

2. Remove from the heat and stir in the white wine vinegar and the salt.

3. Leave undisturbed for 10 minutes in order for the curd to separate from the whey.

4. At this point, scoop the big curds using a slotted spoon and place in a fine mesh strainer lined with a cheese cloth. Then pour in the remaining whey and smaller bits of curd.

5. Leave to strain for 10-60 minutes depending on the desired consistency. I like mine relatively crumbly so I left it for around 20 minutes. If you strain the ricotta for longer than you'd like simply add a little of the whey back to the curds to make your ricotta more creamy.

Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. 

Fennel + Blood Orange Salad

Over the past couple of months I've been lucky enough to have done a bit of travelling, with trips to Switzerland, Denmark and Spain. The latter trip I plan on talking more about soon, and about the exciting project I was involved with over there. But for now, let’s get back to this salad.

Blood oranges – the true elites of the citrus family. Gracing us with their presence for a month or so before disappearing for another year, they are by far my favourite citrus fruit, and not just for their pretty colours. Now that they’re in season I'm buying them whenever I can and using them in just about anything (I have a cake planned and some marmalade, too). But this salad is, with its few ingredients and minimal effort, one of the best ways to enjoy them.

The natural sweet tartness from the blood orange, and the slight bitterness from the fennel results in this salad sort of dressing itself. Add a splash of olive oil and you’ll find that all the flavours come together yet manage to still stand out on their own – it is magical.

Fennel + Blood Orange Salad | Thyme & Honey

Fennel + Blood Orange Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 fennel bulb

2 blood oranges

Seeds from half a pomegranate

2 inches of fresh chives

Olive oil

 

Method

  1. Using a mandolin, slice the fennel into a bowl. 
  2. Remove the peel from the blood oranges and then cut into slices.
  3. Arrange both the fennel and blood orange discs on a plate, drizzle over olive oil, add a sprinkle of pom seeds and your chopped chives. Simple!

Copenhagen in Pictures

Some photos from a weekend spent wandering in Copenhagen. 

Benahavís + A Photography Project

At the beginning of February Stephanie from Angel's Belly asked if I would fly out to Benahavís, a small mountain village some 7km inland from the southern coast of Spain, to shoot their first yoga and brunch retreat.

Stephanie set up Angel's Belly as a way to reach out to people with a shared interest in healthy eating, and with an aim to spread a healthy message and help educate others to feel empowered to make better choices about their bodies and what they put in them. Recently she launched Angel's Belly retreats, the first of which took place at the Gran Hotel Benahavís. Guests started off with a yoga class, followed by a plant-based brunch club with things like cold-pressed juices, cashew yoghurt parfait, homemade granola, baked quinoa-stuffed mushrooms and a variety of plant-based/vegan spreads and breads on offer. To finish there was a lecture given on the benefits of eating a plant-based diet and a few myth-busters on foods and alternatives that are promoted as being good for you. It was hugely inspiring to spend time with a group of passionate people who take a considered and holistic approach to eating and personal well-being, and I came away with a few new opinions and a lot more knowledge. 

I spent a few days in Benahavís exploring the village and surrounding area - the landscape was nothing like I have seen in Spain before: brooding, mountainous, wild. The village itself is perched on patch of mountain that stays sun-soaked through til dusk, with steep, winding cobbled streets lined with white-washed houses. There was a certain charm in its isolated location, I felt as if I'd stumbled across a secret place that no one else knew about. 

Below are some of my favourite photos from the project.

Vegan Fennel, Radish + Broccoli Slaw

It started out of sheer laziness, adding raw vegetables to salads instead of bothering to cook them. With a single swipe along my mandolin I had slithers of cauliflower, fennel or broccoli that would have otherwise been cooked first had this new option not been so convenient. With the right kind of dressing I found that I could make a sort of vegetable ceviche, the edge taken off that typically unappetising ‘rawness’, the flavour mellowing through marinating in my lunch box on my desk at work.

I’ve been testing various slaw recipes periodically, sometimes opting for an Asian combination of flavours, other times a luxuriously creamy American style, but this really is the recipe that I keep coming back to. The dressing here unlike in other slaw recipes is certainly not the show-stealer, but its subtle nutty flavour thanks to tahini is a welcome note on the palate. Throw this together quickly and leave for a while for the flavours to really gel. I eat this for lunch on its own, or with half an avocado for good measure. Adding a slice of rye bread into the equation is always a welcome addition, too.

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while you would have heard me discuss a new found love of plant-based eating, and although I cannot confirm that I have been exercising this new diet religiously and without steak/eggs, I can confirm that for the most part I am still enjoying creating dairy-free/meat-free dishes – on occasion. This slaw just so happens to work extremely well with either a dairy alternative to yoghurt, or the real deal. So, do with it what you will.


VEGAN FENNEL, RADISH + BROCCOLI SLAW

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 medium head of broccoli

1 large fennel

6-8 radishes

100g cavolo nero, stalks removed and leaves shredded

8 stalks of fresh dill

For the dressing:

60ml olive oil

30ml tahini paste

50ml soya or coconut yoghurt

2tsp rice mirin or vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

 

Method

  1. Using a mandolin if you have one will make putting this salad together a total breeze. If you don’t have one, then try and slice the fennel and radishes as finely as possible.
  2. Slice the fennel, radishes and broccoli using a mandolin and place in a large bowl. Add the shredded cavolo nero and tear in the fresh dill leaves.
  3. For the dressing add all of the ingredients to a jam jar and shake well until thoroughly mixed and creamy in consistency.
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss well to coat. Season to taste with salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Serve on its own or in rye (or however you like) with extra fresh dill and a drizzle of extra olive oil.

Ginger Miso Tahini Soup

Hello!

It has been some time, hasn’t it? But now I’m back and I can finally wish you a Happy New Year! I hope the first two weeks of 2015 have been wonderful to you.

Ginger Miso Tahini Soup | Thyme & Honey

So let’s talk new year’s resolutions, because that’s all everyone is talking about this month. I want to know what everyone’s been giving up or what changes you’re trying to make to the way you live your life this year. Or are you boycotting the whole thing altogether?

I don’t usually set myself resolutions for the new year, but last year I inadvertently gave up smoking, and I can happily say it’s been a total blast breathing much more easily over the last 379 days. This year however, I made a conscious decision to add a few life goals to my list this year:

  • I will take my Italian to the next level and become fluent
  • I will have more self-confidence, tell my inner critic to sta zitta and take on new projects outside of work
  • I will eat well, consistently and be as eco-friendly as possible
  • I will listen more and talk about myself less
  • I will appreciate what I have right now instead of yearning for what I could have

and;

  • I will make this miso-tahini soup once a week for the rest of my life AMEN

Ginger Miso Tahini Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

500g medium squash, either butternut or coquina, cut into smallish pieces

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Juice of half a navel orange

3 tablespoons miso paste

50g tahini

1 inch of ginger, peeled and minced

300-400g cooked brown rice

2 ripe avocados

Black sesame seeds

 

Method

  1. Arrange the squash pieces on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil and the juice of half an orange. Roast in the centre of the oven at 220°c (200°c Fan) for 45 minutes.
  2. Add the miso paste to a bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of boiled water to loosen. In a large saucepan add the tahini, minced ginger and 500ml water and bring to the boil. Add the miso paste and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste.
  3. To serve, distribute the brown rice evenly into four bowls and top with roasted squash. Pour over the miso-tahini broth, top with half a sliced avocado and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

New York in Pictures

I travelled to New York twice last year to visit my brother, here are some photos from those trips. 

Quinoa + Kale Patties

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet because we’re all too busy with December to actually sit down and read anything of length right now. If it’s not after work drinks, some kind of Christmas themed event, dinner with friends or present buying then it’s decorating the tree, putting up Christmas lights and perfecting your mince pie recipe. If, and only if you have a spare moment, then it will certainly be to have a big glass of wine and watch shit tv. So, as I said… short n sweet.

I originally saw this wondrous recipe on Green Kitchen Stories (i.e. my happy place on the internet, after Pinterest) and immediately wanted to recreate them in my own kitchen. I tweaked the recipe a fair amount, depending on what I had in my cupboards, and subbed out the cheese altogether in favour of a dairy-free option.

The resulting quinoa patties are delicious little additions to add to any base for lunch or dinner; I enjoyed them with a simple cabbage salad one day and hummus and carrot sticks the next. Plus if you have leftover quinoa to begin with then these can be made in a snap.

Happy December!


QUINOA + KALE PATTIES

Makes 8 patties

Ingredients

200g quinoa

500ml water

Pinch of salt

2 large handfuls of kale, stems discarded

2 eggs

100g silken tofu

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Olive oil for frying

 

Method

  1. Star by cooking the quinoa; rinse 200g under cold water then add to a saucepan with 500ml of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for around 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Once cool add the quinoa, kale leaves, eggs and tofu to a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Season generously and add the dried chilli and oregano. Pat down the mixture in the bowl and transfer to the fridge to set, around 30 minutes.
  3. Shape the quinoa into 8 patties using your hands. Heat a few glugs of olive oil in a large pan and cook the patties in batches, around 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden and crisp.
  4. Serve warm with a simple salad or perhaps a poached egg.

Notes -

By all means substitute the tofu for feta if you aren’t avoiding dairy. If you are following a vegan diet you could try using 200g silken tofu in place of the eggs as a binding agent.

Charred Sprouts + Asparagus Rice Noodle Salad

It’s been a good three weeks since I embarked on my vegan 5:2 journey, and I thought it was about the right time to write a post about it, and why I’m planning to stick to it.

Firstly let me start off by explaining my diet before this started: I would have considered myself a vegetarian with occasional meat-loving tendencies. On the whole I don’t believe that we need to eat meat to survive (not to mention the environmental impact meat consumption creates and the impending food supply dilemma generations to come will see and likely suffer), and have been an advocate of the ‘if your body is craving it, you probably need it’ diet for years, resulting in an occasional roast chicken on a Sunday, or a beautiful fillet of fish for supper making an appearance a couple of times a month. That, to me at least, seemed like a balanced diet.

Charred Sprouts + Asparagus Rice Noodle Salad | Thyme & Honey

Perhaps more influential on my diet than my environmental view is that I have been lactose intolerant for 5 years. Though in the last couple of those years I have reintroduced butter, non-fat milk and a small range of goat’s and sheep’s cheeses in my diet, plus a healthy amount of non-fat yoghurt and eggs. However despite my lactose intolerance and continued consumption of dairy, I have thought for a long time that overall, dairy is probably not very good for us. Quite fittingly I read this article in the NY Times about how studies on dairy consumption have proven not only that dairy can cause adverse effects, but that there is little evidence that having a dairy rich diet is actually good for us at all, contrary to the milk = strong bones message being pumped out across Western countries. In contrast, in what is probably the most well known literature on the subject surrounding dairy we hear about casein, a milk protein (also found in many meat substitutes) that has been found to be cancer promoting. When you think of it that way do you really want to be putting that in your body on a daily basis?

Switching to a largely plant-based diet didn’t come without its conundrums at first; what to use other than tofu, is there a limit on how many avocados I can eat each week, can I just eat noodles all the time, why aren’t there any substitutes for a good runny egg; but then once I started to explore different recipes and articles on the subject I realised that I would be making little actual change to my diet, and instead a huge one to what I kept in my pantry. I have had to be so much more resourceful, creative and explorative, I have started taking more time and care in choosing produce and ingredients, and I have even (for the benefit of my previously very pizza-loving beau) started playing with creating homemade vegan substitutes (vegan mozzarella being a good example of my efforts).

So why have I decided to stick to eating a more plant-based diet? This is a question I have had to answer on a few occasions. At first I explained that I wanted to try and clean up my diet a bit, but now having seen the great benefits that have come as part of this clean up I have changed my answer: I really, really like eating this way. I feel energetic, I don’t feel bloated, I have been eating a lot of slow-burning carbohydrates and a lot less saturated fat, and I have found excellent sources of plant-based protein to replenish after working out. I haven’t been so satisfied with everyday meals for so long, and eating well seems to have improved not only my skin but my general mood.

So what have I learnt about myself through this experiment? Eating well has its obvious perks but balance is still key to my general happiness, which is why I will continue to enjoy an egg every now and then, or some thick-strained yoghurt, or put butter in all of my cakes (always). So don’t expect to not see any of my usual recipes on here any more, but do expect to see a few more vegan friendly options.

Now about this salad, this salad is my new go-to. Cold rice noodles, dressed with a super zingy, garlicky dressing, flecked with chilli and sesame seeds and tossed with charred greens and avocado for a welcome creaminess.

Charred Sprouts + Asparagus Rice Noodle Salad | Thyme & Honey

Charred Sprouts + Asparagus Rice Noodle Salad

Serves 2 as a main, or 4 smaller portions

Ingredients

200g flat rice noodles

Large handful of Brussel sprouts, halved

1 bunch of asparagus spears, roughly chopped

1 large avocado, diced

2 tablespoons fresh chives, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

For the dressing:

60ml rice vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

Juice and zest of one lime

1 tsp hot chilli flakes

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch of fresh ginger, minced

 

Method

  1. In a jar add all of the dressing ingredients, close and shake well.
  2. Cook the rice noodles by placing in boiled water for 5 minutes (or according to packet instructions). Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. In a griddle pan add the asparagus and Brussel sprouts, sauté on medium for 5 minutes or until vibrant and slightly charred.
  4. Toss the rice noodles with the charred vegetables and pour over the dressing. Mix well and scatter with the diced avocado, black sesame seeds and chopped chives.

Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels

It’s officially that time of year again; the lights are up, the ads are out, the nights are getting boozier… it’s Christmas whether you like it or not.

Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels | Thyme & Honey

Sure, some might say it’s a bit early to get the Christmas paraphernalia out, but I for one am all over it – give me a gingerbread latte with a shot of whisky and I’ll be marvellously content cozied up in my Slanket* with Home Alone 2 on repeat.

(Also, December: the only month where you can get fat gracefully.)

You may remember last year I posted a similar recipe and moaned about how broke I tend to be at this time of year (I absolutely needed three of those cashmere jumpers, didn’t I), so it’s fair to say I get a little resourceful with my gift giving. Enter these beauties, chocolate covered and deliciously decadent. These really aren’t as daunting as they may seem, it’s more a case of patience and trying not to burn yourself, the caramel, or your pan.

So there you have it, I’ll leave you with this bomb recipe to add to your budget Christmas 101 repertoire – plus a pretty great soundtrack to go with it (courtesy of Cereal Magazine)

*the best gift ever received, not giving it up never ever ever

Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels | Thyme & Honey

Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels

Makes 60 caramels

Ingredients

150g soft light brown sugar

125g golden syrup

100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

250ml thick double cream

150g caster sugar

200g dark chocolate

Decorative sugar pieces (if using)

 

Method

You’ll need a candy thermometer for this recipe.

  1. Firstly prepare a tin for your caramel to set in by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. In a pan add the brown sugar, golden syrup, butter and cream and place over a low heat. Heat the mixture until smooth and hot, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a heavy duty pan add the caster sugar and 3 tablespoons of water, and start to dissolve over a low heat. Once dissolved you can bring the heat up a little, keep melting the sugar syrup until it caramelises and turns amber in colour. NOTE: You don’t want to stir the syrup unless there are specific spots where the sugar isn’t melting, rather whirl the pan.
  4. Once the sugar syrup has caramelised and turned a gorgeous dark amber colour, remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream mixture, while exercising caution – this stuff is H O T.
  5. Put the pan back on the heat and pop your candy thermometer in. Bring the mixture up to 260°f and then immediately remove from the heat and pour into your prepared tin (if you fancy it you can sprinkle all or half with salt flakes).
  6. Leave (out of the fridge) for at least 5 hours or overnight before cutting into small squares.
  7. To chocolate coat the caramels, melt the dark chocolate in a glass bowl set above a pan of simmering water. Once melted, use a fork to dip a caramel square into the chocolate, then lift it out and let the excess chocolate drip off. Place the square on parchment paper to set, and decorate with sugar pieces if using. Continue with the rest of the caramels.

These will keep for a good 2 weeks stored in an air-tight container.