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Treats & Snacks

Breakfast, Treats & Snacks

How to make Kefir at home

Kefir is yoghurt’s low-maintenance, tarty cousin. She’s got a gutsy attitude and is addictively refreshing among a sea of shiny, clean eating accessories. I have a feeling 2018 is going to be her year.

When can you meet? Today! Find kefir grains in the refrigerated section at your local health store or trendy café. We got ours from The Hopsack in Dublin 6. Failing that, a quick Tweet thankfully sorts out most bourgeois problems in Ireland. Kefir grains look very similar to cooked rice pudding. Nothing too freaky, I promise.

 

 

The grains burp and feed on whole milk, gobbling up the natural milk sugars and lactose. All those gorgeous good bacteria multiply faster than grass through a goose. What you’re left with is a funky ferment more potent than natural yoghurt.

 

 

Kefir  

Makes 500ml

Use organic milk, raw milk, goat’s milk, even coconut milk. I drink kefir straight up on ice, but yogi types like to flavour their kefir with second ferments using honey and vanilla pods. Kefir is also really great with spicy curries, to help your tastebuds and mascara survive the heat. It makes a rather brilliant marinade for meat, replaces buttermilk in baking recipes, and sings with soft cheese as a last minute mash-up for spreads.

 

2-3 tablespoons milk kefir grains
500ml full fat organic milk (goat’s, cow’s, nut milk)

 

1 Using a clean mason jar or 500ml glass bottle, pop the kefir grains in with your preferred type of milk.

2 Cover with kitchen paper, secure with a band, and leave on your kitchen counter 24-36 hours to ferment.

3 When the desired tang is achieved, remove the kefir grains with a plastic sieve and pop the live grains into fresh milk to start the process all over again. You’ll know the grains have doen their work when you see the milk split a little.

The fresh kefir can be refrigerated or guzzled straight away to pimp your flora.

If you aren’t reusing the kefir grains straight away, they can be stored in a little whole milk for 1 week in the fridge. The milk be will perfectly good to use – the chilled temperature merely slows down the fermentation process. It’s okay to keep extra kefir grains in the freezer too.

One final point – if you are using plant milk, the kefir grains tend to benefit from a little cow’s milk every 4 or 5 batches of kefir-making. This is because the kefir grains like lactose as a source of go go juice.

 

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.  Here’s hoping 2018 will be your most exciting year yet!

 

Treats & Snacks, x For Freezer x

Malted Rye Chocolate Cake

I care about my body and my mind. The thrill of them both feeling ace when I wake up, is really very special.

I used to feel like I had woken up underneath a lawnmower. I hate feeling like shit.

Being consistently under par is not good for me (or for, erm, society). Nah-aw. I can’t be a good human on a diet of processed junk. It’s just not possible. I deserve to feel amazing, and have learned just how easy it is to maintain.

The first step is to start lovebombing your kitchen space. Pick some podcasts to make your dimples hurt with laughter. Own that zone. This is where the magic happens. So much of our diet is contingent on mood and convenience. If we curate both of these in our very own kitchen, then we stand a chance of giving our body the grub it so desperately needs.

 

 

The second step is to ditch diets. Anyone notice that dieting doesn’t seem to be a terribly effective route to losing excess weight?

An industry does not grow into a $60 billion bonanza by permanently solving the problem it is designed to address. Guh! If you’re going to count something, count nutrients, not calories.

 

Malted rye chocolate cake

Can be frozen in slices

 

Here’s one way you can start switching out processed white flour and white sugar, for something more wholesome. The ingredients in this cake are totemic of a modern, wholefoods whore; barley malt, rye, home-made ghee, and dark chocolate. When I am poofing my final breath, and my life flashes before my eyes, there is no doubt that this chocolate cake will loom large like an illicit peep show portal. You’re about to find out why.

 

200g ghee or butter
200g dark chocolate
3 eggs
100ml malted barley
100g coconut, rapadura or muscavado sugar
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
100g whole rye flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
nip of lemon juice

 

Whack up your oven to 150 Celsius. Now let the chocolate and Irish ghee party over a pot of simmering water, until gorgeously glossy. This is called a bain marie. If you’re not into ghee, you could use butter.

Measure the barley malt, sugar and eggs into a bowl and beat until bubbly. Whisk in the melted chocolate and ghee. Now add your flour, salt, lemon and raising agent.

Find a 23cm (9inch) circular springform tin, or something similar. Line with baking parchment to prevent tantrums and sticking. Pour the cake mixture in, and bake for 30 minutes. Let it cool before looting.

 

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.  Here’s hoping 2018 will be your most exciting year yet!

 

 

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