The New Year is a great opportunity to change the way you think about and cook your food. If you are looking to cut down on the bad stuff and increase nutritional value while retaining fantastic variety and flavour, we have some tips for cooking healthily.

  1. The shorter you cook things for the more vitamins and nutrients they retain.
  2.  Salt is somewhat of a taboo. I would recommend to season often and little. This ensures the flavour has gone into the food and also that the salt becomes more easily digestible.
  3. I would always recommend using what is in season. This will ensure that the ingredients are at their best, fresh and that our bodies are at their best incorporating the vitamins and nutrients into our bodies.
  4. One should try and avoid any overseas fruit and vegetables as much as possible. Our digestive system is just not used to working with these.

I am a big fan of Scandinavian cooking. It is about people, friends and family, coming together and enjoying what the land and sea had given us. The food is always part of a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. The inspiration for my main course definitely comes from summers spent in Denmark.

This three course menu is healthy, nutritious and delicious! Have a go…

Ingredients used in this menu

Agar Agar

Agar-agar is approximately 80% fiber, so it can serve as an intestinal regulator. It contains many minerals (Calcium, iodine, etc.) and helps to lower the levels of cholesterol on blood.

Chilli

Chillies are pungent and hot and in cold months they warm up the body. They are decongestant and digestive. Clear up the sinuses and break up the mucus. Hot chilli pepper is a mood elevating food.

Coriander Seeds

The seeds are carminative, aromatic, antispasmodic and stimulant; another powerful cholesterol lowering food.

Fennel  Seeds

The seeds are sweet, laxative and aphrodisiac. Aids digestion.

Dill

This is a soothing spice. The leaves are stimulants. Dill also improves the functionality of the stomach. It is a calming spice and will help with insomnia. Helps females to regulate their cycle.

Apple

‘to eat an apple before going to bed will make the doctor beg his bread’

Apples contain pectin, which aides detoxification by supplying the galacturonic acid needed for the elimination of certain harmful substances. It is also beneficial to the bowels, liver and brain.

Beetroot

Beetroot has the properties to clean the kidneys and gall bladder. It contains alkaline elements, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron are is therefore helpful in the natural process of elimination.

Cucumber

It is useful in maintaining the alkalinity of the blood. It is the best natural diuretic.

Mint

Mint is relieves gastric discomforts, it is a stimulant, helps to relieve muscle strain and improves appetite. It aids digestion and benefits the kidneys, liver and bladder.

Potato

Highly alkaline- helps to keep the balance in the body. Aids the growth of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract.

Honey

One of the finest sources of heat and energy. It is one of the most easily digested carbohydrates. It is amazing in helping with teak digestion.

Champagne

Champagne has been used as a ‘medicine’ for centuries. It is a great stimulant, raises the rate of circulation, awakens the appetite, helps with insomnia, alleviates migrane. It is a modd elevating drink.

Mackerel

Mackerel is high in nutritional oils, especially Omega-3.

Olive Oil

This oil is very rich in monosaturated fat, which is linked with the reduction of coronary disease. It helps to lower cholesterol.

STARTER:

Spicy scallops with curried butternut squash puree and toasted hazelnuts SONY DSC

Serves 2

–        6 scallops (without roe, your fish monger can do this for you)

–        1 butternut squash

–        ¼ tsp ground fennel seeds

–        1 tsp garam masala

–        1 ½  tsp curry powder

–        ½ tsp ground coriander

–        Pinch of chilli

–        50g hazelnuts

–        Mixed salad, small leaves

–        Salt and pepper

–        Olive oil

Oven on 180C

First peel and chop your butternut squash into 1cm chunks

Place in a baking tray and generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, chilli and one tsp of the curry powder, cover with tin foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until completely soft and easily mashed with a spoon and blend with extra olive oil and water if necessary, keep warm.

NOTE: you can chill your puree and reheat gently for service

In the meantime chop your hazelnuts, fairly roughly and drizzle with oil and season with salt, toast under a grill or hot oven until golden brown, tip in a bowl immediately to avoid them from over cooking

For the scallops, clean of membrane around the sides, if necessary. Mix the spices and ¼ tsp of salt dip the scallops in the mix, do not dip the presentation side (the larger side). Heat oil in a pan to very hot, season the scallop’s presentation side and pop into the hot pan. Keep checking, you want the presentation side to caramelise and have a golden brown colour (about three minutes). Flip to the other side and finish scallop off. Check the sides with your fingers, you want them to be relatively firm, but with a little bit of a give. Drain on a kitchen paper.

Assemble the dish on a warmed plate and scatter a few nuts over the top.

MAIN COURSE

Pan fried Mackerel, herby potatoes, pickled salad and apple and beetrootSONY DSC

(serves 2)

–        4 mackerel fillets

–        500g new potatoes

–        Juice of 1 lemon

–        Chopped parsley and dill

–        Cucumber, ribboned with a peeler lengthways

–        1tbl olive oil

–        1tbl white wine vinegar

–        ½ tsp salt

–        Pickled beetroot, cubed or sliced

–        Watercress, roughly chopped

–        Apple, grated

–        Freshly grated horseradish to taste

–        Crème fraiche to bind

–        Pepper and salt

First, parboil your potatoes in salted water. When starting to soften, transfer them to an oven tray, drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and bake in a hot oven until golden brown

In the mean time, pickle your cucumber with the vinegar, olive oil and salt, keep to one side. Add watercress just before serving to avoid discoloration.

Mix the grated apple and horseradish together and add enough crème fraiche to bind together

Heat oil in a pan until smoking, season your fish, the skin side and add to the pan (skin side down when hot). Whilst you are waiting for the skin to crisp up (3-4 minutes), take your potatoes out of the oven and drizzle with the lemon juice. Start arranging potatoes and salads on the plate. Flip you fish and finsh off on the other side for about a minute. To check if fish is cooked, check the flakes are defined, you do not want them to be falling apart, and the flesh is firm.

NOTE: pan has to be very hot or the fish will stick and the skin will not crisp up

Don’t be afraid to wait for the pan to actually produce smoke, as soon as you place food in the

pan, the temperature will decrease and you will not start a fire

Arrange on a plate and quenelle your apple and horseradish mix.

Enjoy!

DESSERT:

Millet cream set in a strawberry and pink champagne jellySONY DSC

Serves 4

–        100g uncooked millet

–        Sea salt

–        350ml rice milk (extra if needed)

–        2tbl honey

–        Vanilla pod

–        1tsp vanilla extract

–        600g strawberries

–        Raspberries

–        Sprig of mint

–        2tbl water

–        1tbl sugar

–        3tbl agar agar

–        350 ml pink champagne

–        Chopped, toasted hazelnuts

To cook the millet, wash thoroughly in cold water.

Put the washed millet into a saucepan with rice milk. The ratio of liquid to millet should be 2 to 1.

Bring to boil and add the salt and vanilla seeds from the pod and the pod also. Turn down the heat and simmer covered for 15 to 20 minutes.  Do not stir too much during cooking. Taste the millet. To make the cream you need to cook them until completely soft. Add more rice milk if necessary. Add honey and vanilla essence to taste. Blend until smooth and put into a piping bag. Pipe at the bottom of a martini glass, place raspberries on top and keep in the fridge.

For the jelly, hull and quarter the strawberries. Pop them into a pan with the water and the sugar. Bring them to a gentle simmer until they release colour and soften. Push gently through a sieve and discard the rest of the fruit. Place back into the pan and sprinkle with the agar agar. Heat without stirring and then simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until flakes dissolve.  Add the champagne and pour into the glasses and leave in the fridge to set.

Leave to come up to room temperature before serving.

Decorate with mint and enjoy.


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