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Lunchbox, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw

Gin & Tonics and a Buttery Walnut Whip

Christmas is about giving (out). I like to give my husband material for his new play, so I activate my ego and let it loose alongside the turkey giblets. A playwright’s worst dream is having a happy Yuletide. It gives them Writer’s Block. I would never do that to my husband.

The run up to Christmas often feels somewhere between an Alfred Hitckcock movie and a bad Wes Anderson screening. Everything appears dreamy and beautiful. But beneath the surface, our collective passive-aggressive venom is enough to alarm the UN General Assembly.

So with military incisiveness, I start the season with a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) on my husband. I cannot begin to tell you how much this exercise enhances the Christmas spirit. When I’m feeling particularly generous, I even share my analysis with the in-laws.

In between, I cook, eat, feed and nark. Over the course of my theatricals, I have come to realise that irrespective of how hideously I behave, good food can mend moods and marriages.

 

If you’re looking for novel ideas, or trying to take the hell out of healthy, here are a few life jackets from 2016’s Sunday Independent Crimbo special. (Walnut & Rosehip Cookies, Lapsang Souchung Christmas Cake, Festive Florentines).

This pomegranate halva should add a sophisticated splash of romance to your Christmas party. One taste can ignite libido, like finding Bradley Cooper under the mistletoe.

But if you don’t want romance at your party (think family gathering) then feel free to horse into this walnut whip (recipe below). It’s got enough garlic to end up on Norway’s Richter scale. We serve it alongside special G&Ts, to take the nip off our bite (alos, below).

Merry Christmas my friends. See you in 2018.

 

 

Buttery Walnut Whip

Makes 18 pass-aroundies

 

130g good walnuts
1 fat clove of garlic
1 teaspoon ground all-spice
1-2 tablespoons water
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
A few twists of the salt and pepper mill
Small punnet of redcurrants

 

Tip the walnuts, the garlic and your all-spice into a pestle and mortar. Pound for about 5 minutes, until you’ve got an oily butter. If the mixture is still crumbly, keep going my friend.

Now add the water, some lemon, and a few twists of the salt and pepper mill. Water tends to change the colour of the mixture from biscuity brown to light beige. Don’t worry – you’re on the right track. It’s really up to you how creamy or thick you want it.

Spread across discs of cucumber and crown with juicy redcurrants. If you’re crazy fancy, try filling teeny Brussel sprout leaves with this whip, and top with scarlet pomegranate seeds.

 

 

Gin & Cucumber Ice

Makes many, many ice cubes for your festive freezer

 

2 cucumbers, juiced
1 wedge of lime
25ml chilled gin
55ml chilled tonic water

 

To make the cucumber ice, press or juice 2 cucumbers. If you don’t have a juicer at home, you can purchase pure cucumber juice from your nearest juicer. It won’t be on their menu – you’ll need to coax them into giving it to you.

Pour and fill your empty ice tray(s) with this verdant green potion. Freeze for 6 hours before using.

A gin and tonic’s sweet spot is just about twice the amount of tonic, to gin. But some prefer a little extra tonic. Depending on how many lucky peeps you are serving, measure up, squeeze in the lime, and drop 2 cucumber ice cubes into each glass. Small, chilled glasses are best. If you want extra ice, you can always freeze some tonic water a few hours before the party. Fa la la la lahhhhhh …

 

 

 

Taking the hell out of healthy.

Hit “BOOM” at the top left corner with your email address my friend, to receive new monthly recipes direct to your inbox.  Namaste!

 

The Virtuous Tart cookbook

 

 

Breakfast, Lunchbox, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw

How to Make Sesame Snaps

Cutlery numbs my taste buds. I’m convinced my fingertips start to recognise flavour before any of it reaches my mouth. Eggs and guacamole on toast? My digits get to taste it first. Imagine the same breakfast with a knife and fork? Or eating a hamburger with cutlery? Sushi perhaps? Even pizza?

Look, if I’m to be perfectly honest, I think we can taste words too. Often reading a restaurant menu is the best part of the meal. Each word is like a little comet of deliciousness.

I don’t think any of this constitutes as news, except that I rarely spot people using their fingers with the same giddy determination and shamanistic frenzy I apply to my meals. Clearly, more people bow to the sophistication of a fork –  a majesty which I think is comically misplaced. There are some intriguing results out there, led by scientists, to suggest other homo sapiens behave like me. Phew. (Although it’s possible these studies were led by historians rather than gastro physicists. Nevermind).

 

 

This week’s recipe is a playful experiment for your taste buddies. Let’s munch half the batch with our fingers. And then chew the rest of the sesame snaps using a fork. Ask your taste buds to vote.

Sesame seeds morph into extraordinary little explosions of flavour in the oven. We love them for their sweet nutty smack, but also for their plant-based calcium which makes them great for growing nippers. In Hinduism, sesame is referred to as the seed of immortality. This is probably because of its pumped portfolio of plant lignans and other crazy cool protective compounds like phytooestrogens.

These sesame snaps make me feel like I’m going to live forever. And if I don’t? I’m happy to die trying.

 

 

 

Sesame Snaps

 

5 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon rice malt syrup or maple syrup

Pinch of sea salt

 

Preheat your oven to 220C.

In a cup, mash the ingredients together with a fork. Spread the mixture over a baking tray lined with non-stick parchment as best as you can. It’s outrageously sticky, but don’t worry. The heat will help the mixture collapse.

Bake at 200-220C for 5 mins, until bubbly. You want the water to evaporate from the mixture which will give it its crunch.

Allow to solidify once cooled. Smash.

 

 

 

Taking the hell out of healthy.

Hit “BOOM” at the top left corner with your email address my friend, to receive new monthly recipes direct to your inbox. Free of charge. Namaste!

 

 

 

Breakfast, Lunchbox

Home-Made Organic Cream Cheese

People are sick of consuming products. We want experiences. Full-fat, authentic, soul-nourishing, heart-thumping, life-affirming experiences.

What’s too-often missing in many of our lives is something intrinsically satisfying. Products rarely deliver the true nourishment we crave.

Cooking for yourself and for those you love is a deeply meaningful experience. What makes food truly satisfying is not just the physical hunger-squashing sensation of mainlining food into an empty stomach. It’s the adoration poured into the preparation of ingredients, and the fulfillment of receiving someone’s time and attention. Nothing beats the magic of homemade food.

So where can you sign up?! This monthly blog, that’s where. I will practically take you by the hand and introduce you to some life-changing recipes to service your booty. No mantras and moonlight. Just kickass recipes to make your toes and your taste buds samba. Following wholefoodie Instagram accounts like these Irish ones will change how you see food, and seep into your kitchen like tea from a teabag. Gently, slowly, but full of flavour.

 

 

So let’s get you dosed up. This is a dynamo recipe for home-made organic cream cheese. No faffing around with curdled milk, thermometers or Valium.

 

DIY Cream Cheese Recipe

Use it for Unicorn Toast my friends. (That’s why you’re here, right?!)

Makes a terrific icing with a little stevia or maple, and natural food colourings as listed in this post.

 

Makes 400g

500g full-fat Greek yoghurt

Patience

 

1 First, find a nutmilk bag or cheesecloth. Both can be purchased in health food stores or on Amazon.

2 Pour the entire tub of Greek yoghurt into your special cloth or bag, and allow the whey to run off the yoghurt for 12-16 hours. I tie my yoghurt-filled nutmilk bag onto a wooden spoon over my blender jug, and leave it overnight.

3 You’re left with a stellar probiotic cream cheese to enjoy as a spread or as icing on a cupcake. The supersonic leftover whey can be sneakily added into smoothies all week.

 

 

 

Taking the hell out of healthy.

Hit “BOOM” at the top left corner with your email address my friend, to receive a new weekly recipe direct to your inbox.