Well what do you know, me and my little food blog have made it through to the second stage of The UK Blog Awards (whoop whoop). Would you all mind voting for me when you get a sec please by clicking here and selecting the heart icon next to my entry please?
Oh and they’ve spelt my name wrong by the way so you’ll need to vote for Corres rabbit food 😒
What the hell has happened to my skin? Over the past couple of weeks, my face has gone from practically blemish free to teenage pizza-face. I’m 34 years old, how is this happening? I just assumed adult acne was something made up by people who wanted to blame their bad skin on hormones and not on their diet of Mars bars and oven chips. But alas, I was wrong. My skin has turned on me and I am trying everything in my power to get it back on side. You name it, I’ve smeared it on my face – creams, scrubs, cleansers, serums, lotions, potions, even prayers – but nothing is working. If anything, I’ve angered it.
So, what’s the cause of my hormonal hell? Apparently, everything. From chemicals found in plastics to processed foods; from a bad night’s sleep to a stressful day at work; from pesticides found on our fruit and veg to the milk in our cup of tea. All of these factors like to fuck with our hormones – I was really hoping I could just buy a bottle of Clearasil and be done with it.
Instead, for the past few days, I’ve made a conscious effort to get eight hours sleep a night, do ten minutes of mindfulness a day and swap my cheesy dinners for this rather delightful dairy-free butternut squash and sage soup. The results? My skin is starting to look a little clearer and less itchy – woo-hoo! To celebrate, I got really drunk, ate a giant margarita pizza, went to bed at 3am and woke up feeling stressed… What?
Butternut squash & sage soup
Serves 4 / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 40 mins / V VnGf Df❄ You’ll need: A food processor or hand blender
2 tsp rapeseed oil
1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
14 sage leaves (extra for garnish) 600g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
400g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
½ tsp salt
1 litre of vegetable stock, I used 1 Knorr stock pot
Black pepper Pomora extra virgin olive oil to serve
Method 1. Roughly chop the onion and sweat in a tsp of rapeseed oil in a large pot, over a medium heat. Add half a tsp of salt, give it a stir and continue to cook for 5 minutes with the lid on. Once the onions start to soften, add the 14 sage leaves, give it another stir and return the lid.
2. Meanwhile, de-seed, peel and chop the butternut squash and peel and chop the sweet potato (no need to be to be too perfect about this, the soup will be blended later).
3. Add the butternut squash and sweet potato along with the stock and a good crack of black pepper. Bring to the boil before turning down the heat and simmering for 20 minutes with the lid on a jar.
4. Once the vegetables have softened, take off the heat and blend until smooth either with a hand blender or pour into a food processor.
5. If serving with fried sage leaves, add 1 tsp of rapeseed oil to small frying pan on a medium to high heat. Once hot, add the leaves and fry for a minute or so until slightly crispy and browned. Top your soup with the sage leaves and serve with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
V– Vegetarian Vn– Vegan Gf– Gluten free Df– Dairy free ❄ Suitable for home freezing once cooled. Consume within 3 months.
I’ve spent months waiting impatiently for the conditions to be just right, biding my time and anticipating the day – this day – because today is the day I’ve been waiting for. It’s time for me to buy a jacket potato with beans and cheese from the jacket potato man.
I mean, sure, he’s been there all summer – I even walked past his stall several times, my head hanging low in an attempt to hide my identity, but he sees me, another traitorous customer walking straight past his van on their way to Pret. Well, I’m sorry Mr Potato Man, but who wants to eat hot potatoes in stifling heat?
But now that the nights are drawing in and the cold wind is smacking me in the face, I think yes, yes I will treat myself to a jacket potato the size of my head today – the irony being that they’re not even all that nice. Jacket Potato Man starts by ladling copious amounts of beans over a jacket spread with marge (he says it’s butter, but I know it’s marge). He then tops it with grated cheese that starts to sweat rather than melt because the jacket and the beans aren’t quite hot enough to melt the cheese. Back at my desk, though, I’m too hungry to care, so dive right in and instantly burn my mouth and oesophagus with molten hot potato because, for some reason, the middle of the jacket is the only part that’s actually hot – a bit like the centre of the earth. But despite all of this, I hoover it up and instantly fall into a deliciously warm carb coma and am useless at my job for the rest of the day.
So what is it about beans and cheese that’s so great? For me, it’s the nostalgia. After one bite I’m transported back to my sofa in Luton. Off sick from school I was allowed to eat my cheesy beans on toast on my lap in front of Supermarket Sweep. Such a simple memory, but one that invokes strong feelings of comfort, love and a longing for Dale Winton. So this is my tribute and homage to cheesy beans, baked in the oven and covered in melted cheese – a breakfast fit for an ‘90s TV show host. RIP Dale Winton.
Cheesy baked beans Serves 4 / Hands on time 15 mins / Total time 45 mins /V
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 can borlotti beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbs tomato purée
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
100g vegetarian medium cheddar, grated
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Bread to serve
1. Preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ 350°F/gas mark 4. In a large oven-proof casserole dish, sweat the onions and garlic in a tsp of rapeseed oil on a medium to hight heat with the lid on for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add ½ a tsp of smoked paprika, a good pinch of salt and a dash of water. Stir and cook for a further 2 minutes uncovered.
2. Add the tomato purée and stir in the chopped tomatoes, beans and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a tsp of brown sugar and stir.
3. Place the lid on ajar and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile grate the cheese and chop the parsley.
4. Remove the beans from the oven and sprinkle evenly with the grated cheese. Pop the lid back on ajar and bake in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Once melted, removed from the oven, sprinkle with chopped parsley and spoon out onto hot buttered toast.
If you’ve had a go at making my baked beans or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org
V– Vegetarian ❄– Suitable for home freezing once cooled. Consume within 3 months.
Sometimes when I don’t know what to write about, I refer to a list in my iPhone Notes that is inventively called ‘stories to write about’. This list is made up of a collection anecdotes, stories and quotes that I feel are noteworthy, funny, or just outright weird. The list is ongoing, but I rarely look at it, let alone read it as tend to add to it after I’ve had a few wines. Anyway, after an uncharacteristically dull week, I thought I’d rummage through the archives and found this little gem…
“Jamie ate a woodlouse off his chest after mistaking it for a beansprout.” That was all it said. Not context, no backstory, no nothing… Still, it did the job.
Anyhoo, let’s move on to some beany deliciousness. Inspired by Nigella’s beef and aubergine fatteh recipe I thought I’d have a go at making my own vegetarian equivalent. I loved the idea of using pitta chips as a base and topping them with gorgeous Middle Eastern ingredients and flavours. The result was hearty, wholesome and pretty as a picture.
Middle Eastern pita nachos Serves 2 / Hands on time 25 mins / Total time 40 mins /V❄
2 tbs rapeseed oil
2 wholemeal pita breads
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
Pinch chili flakes
1 medium sized aubergine, cut into small cubes
1 tbs tomato puree
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tomatoes, sliced To serve 80g vegetarian feta cheese
1. Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6 and line a baking tray with baking paper. Pour a tbs of rapeseed oil into a small dish and using a brush, paint the baking paper with the oil. Cut the pita bread into triangles and place on the baking tray. Using the brush, paint each piece with oil before seasoning well with salt and pepper. Bake the pita in the oven for 5 minutes before flipping each pita triangle and baking for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and put to one side.
2. In a large saucepan or cooking pot with a lid, add a tbs of rapeseed oil over a medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onions, garlic and aubergine cubes and stir well. Cover with a lid and leave to cook for 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes and drain and rinse the cannellini beans. Once softened, stir in the cumin, coriander, salt and chilli flakes. Add a dash of water and stir again, cooking for a couple of minutes.
4. Mix in the tomato puree before adding the tinned tomatoes, cannellini beans, sliced tomato and 100mls of water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Up the heat slightly and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, chop the parsley and prepare the pomegranate seeds.
5. Once cooked, take off the heat and stir in a handful of parsley (keep a little back if you want to add a sprinkle for decoration).
6. Finally, divide the pita chips onto 2 plates and top generously with the bean mixture. Crumble over the feta and sprinkle with chopped parsley and pomegranate seeds. Serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a dusting of sumac.
Admittedly I’ve never tried spaghetti carbonara, so I have no comparison, but from what I’ve heard it’s the bacon that gives this dish the smoky, salty hit that it’s so famous for. Take the bacon away and all you’re left with is eggy spaghetti… Scrummy. So I’ve added some greens and a rather questionable ingredient – smoked tofu. Believe me, I was as unconvinced as you undoubtedly are, but a small diced amount brings the subtle smoky flavour this dish requires. Failing that, I have a packet of Frazzles on standby.
Green spaghetti carbonara Serves 2 / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 25 mins
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 courgette, grated
80g smoked tofu, diced
½ tsp smoked paprika + extra for sprinkling
100g baby spinach
3 tbs Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp horseradish sauce
40g vegetarian Italian hard cheese or *Parmesan, grated
140g dried spaghetti
Chopped parsley to serve (optional) Drizzle Pomora extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Method 1. Start by putting a kettle on to boil and grating the courgette and chopping the tofu into small pieces. Once boiled, pour the water into a medium sized saucepan and place over a medium heat, bring to a simmer but don’t add the spaghetti just yet.
2. In a separate large saucepan or cooking pot, add the oil and place over a medium to high heat. Once hot, add the courgette along with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add the tofu pieces, half a teaspoon of smoked paprika and give it a stir. Turn the heat down to medium and gently cook, stirring occationally. Now is a good time to add the spaghetti to the simmering water (follow the packet instructions and cook to your desired level of al dente).
3. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, horseradish and crushed garlic in a small mixing bowl. Grate in the cheese, add the eggs and a generous pinch of pepper. Stir well and put to one side.
4. Add the spinach to the courgette mixture a handful at a time until wilted. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add straight into the pot. Pour over the carbonara sauce and stir carefully to coat the pasta. Season well with salt and pepper before turning up the heat and cook for a few more minutes.
5. Divide into bowls and finish with a sprinkling of chopped parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a crack of black pepper.
They say don’t judge a book by its cover, although it’s hard not to when you’re staring down at the misshapen, ugly face of a celeriac. Its knobbly, gnarly and often hairy skin looks like something out of a science fiction film.
Like a lot of people, I am guilty of overlooking this vegetable, but I felt sorry for it sitting on the shelf next to the prettier and cutely named munchkin pumpkin – the celeriac never have a chance. So I took his ugly mug home and lovingly peeled, chopped and roasted him in this delicious rice dish. It’s what he would have wanted.
Celeriac baked rice with goats cheese Serves 4 / Hands on time 25 mins / Total time 1 hr 15 mins /V Gf You’ll need: A deep oven-proof casserole dish
2 tbs rapeseed oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 medium sized celeriac (roughly 650g), peeled and cut into large chunks
½ tsp garlic granules
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch chilli flakes
500ml vegetable stock, I use 1 Knorr stock pot
200g brown basmati rice
4 rosemary sprigs
150g vegetarian goats cheese (including rind)
85g black olives, drained and halved
Fresh parsley, chopped
Method 1. Preheat an oven to 220°C/200°C fan/428°F/gas mark 7. Add the chopped onion and the garlic to a deep casserole dish along with the rapeseed oil, garlic granules, sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes. Give it all a good stir.
2. Peel and cut the celeriac into large pieces and add to the dish. Using a spoon, turn the celeriac in the marinade until the pieces are evenly coated. Add the rice and pour over the vegetable stock and stir carefully. Make sure the rice is fully immersed under the stock before adding the rosemary springs. Cover the dish in a layer of tin foil and bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, roughly cut the goats cheese into chunks, finely chop the parsley and half the black olives. Put to one side.
4. Once cooked, remove the rice from the oven and discard the foil. Taste the rice to check it’s cooked (if the rice is still a little tough, cover in foil and return to the oven and cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Wholegrain basmati rice is a little firmer than regular basmati so will still have a bit of bite to it even when cooked).
5. Top the rice with goats cheese and sprinkle with fresh parsley and black olives. Serve with a simple green salad.
I was shopping in my beloved Sainsbury’s today and got talking to an elderly man in the queue. His trolley was full of cakes, various pastries, walnut whips and a large pack of adult nappies – way more interesting than my own basket. He was quick to explain that the adult nappies were for his 80-year- old boyfriend, but unfortunately one pack only lasts him three days – TMI. When I suggested he go and get another pack, he explained he couldn’t carry the chocolate, cakes and the two packs of nappies on the bus, so I offered to give him and his nappies a lift.
In the car, I learned that not only was this eccentric old man a delight to talk to, but his name was Peter and he used to be a producer at the BBC. He spent the journey recounting all his worldly adventures, dropping casually into conversation that his tutor was none other than David Attenborough.
Sadly, when I pulled up outside his house, I had to say my goodbyes – he had afternoon tea to prepare – so I helped him with his bags and shook his lovely warm hand, only for him to present me with a box of walnut whips that I will treasure forever.
Oh, and so when I got home, I made cheese and onion puff pasties, but they were a total disaster, so I decided to sack off making another batch and retreat to my sofa to eat marmalade on toast for the rest of the afternoon. So, these are my second attempt and the reason you didn’t receive a blog yesterday, apologies.
Cheese and onion puff pasties Makes 4-5 pasties / Hands on time 45 mins / Total time 1 hr 10 mins /V❄ You’ll need: A rolling pin and a tea cup saucer (roughly 14 cm)
1 medium large baking potato (250g), skin on and chopped into cubes
250ml cold water
½ a vegetable stock pot or cube, I use Knorr
1 large onion (200g), peeled and finely chopped
150g mature vegetarian cheddar, grated
375g chilled ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
1 tbs flour (for dusting)
1. Preheat an oven to 220°C/200°C fan/ 428°F/gas mark 7. In a casserole pot or large saucepan, add the chopped potatoes, stock pot and 250ml of cold water. Put on a high heat and bring to the boil. Continue to boil for 5 minutes.
2. Add the chopped onions and give it a good stir. Turn the heat down slightly and continue to cook for a further 8 minutes, stirring frequently (now is a good time to grate the cheese). Take off the heat, season well with salt and pepper and put the filling to one side to cool.
3. Roll out the ready rolled puff pastry and using a tea cup saucer as a stencil, cut out as many circles as you can before gathering up the trimmings and re-rolling to make more. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and dust with a little flour. Place the pastry circles on them and using the back of a fork make little imprints along the edges of each circle.
4. Stir the grated cheese into the cooled potato and onion mixture and add another crack of black pepper to taste. Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture down the middle of each circle of pastry. Brush the imprinted edge with a little beaten egg, before folding over to create a half moon pillow. Seal by applying downward pressure with your finger tips and imprinting with the back of a fork. Cut 3 small slits in the top of each pasty with a sharp knife to allow the hot air to escape while baking.
5. Once all your pasties are filled, brush them with beaten egg, space out evenly on the baking trays and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool on the baking trays for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack. Serve warm or cool completely and enjoy cold as a snack. The pasties will last up to 3 days refrigerated in an air tight container.
If you’ve had a go at making my pasties or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale email@example.com
V– Vegetarian ❄ Suitable for home freezing once cooled. Consume within 3 months.
Not sure why toad-in-the-hole is called toad-in-the-hole. Perhaps it used to be made with real toads – I know the Tudors used to eat all sorts. Although, I guess if you were to consider eating a toad, serving one up in a giant Yorkshire pudding wouldn’t be a bad serving suggestion – especially if you dipped it in mustard.
However, my instincts (and Wikipedia) have informed me that it is much more likely to refer to ‘toads waiting for their prey in their burrows, making their heads visible in the earth, just like the sausages peep through the batter’… How disappointing – although, I did discover that toad-in-the-hole used to have the catchy name of ‘meat boiled in a crust’.
Anyway, rest assured that my recipe for toad-in-the-hole is surprisingly easy, delicious and free from amphibians. What more could you want?
Veggie toad-in-the-hole Serves 2 / Hands on time 20 mins / Total time 40 mins /V❄ You’ll need: 20cm oven proof dish and an electric whisk
2 tsp rapeseed oil
6 chilled vegetarian sausages, I use Cauldron
3 fresh thyme sprigs
75g plain flour
100ml semi skimmed milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg To serve
Wholegrain mustard, gravy and tender-stem broccoli
1. Preheat an oven to 220°C/200°C fan/ 428°F/gas mark 7. Grease a small oven-proof dish (roughly 20cm) with oil and add the 6 chilled vegetarian sausages, along with 2 tsp of rapeseed oil. Shake the sausages until they’ll evenly coated in the oil before adding 3 sprigs of fresh thyme. Cook the sausages in the oven, on the middle shelf for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile make the batter, by measuring out the flour in a medium sized bowl. Add a good crack of salt and pepper, along with a pinch of nutmeg and give it a stir. Make a well in the flour and crack the egg into it. Using a hand whisk, combine the egg with the flour and slowly incorporate the milk until you have a thick but smooth batter. Switch to an electric whisk and mix for a couple of minutes. Put to one side.
3. Carefully remove the sausages from the oven and discard the thyme sprigs, leaving the detached leaves. Pour the batter slowly into a corner of the dish slowly and allow it to spread out evenly between the sausages.
4. Return the dish to the oven and bake on the top shelf for 15 minutes or until the batter has puffed up and is a lovely golden colour. Spoon out onto plates and serve with steamed tender-stem broccoli, gravy and a good dollop of wholegrain mustard.
I don’t know why I do it to myself. I just spent another Sunday attempting to make Thai green curry only to fail miserably. Again! I never learn. Firstly, the paste I made was so hot that even Jamie – who sprinkles chilli on his cornflakes – had to spit it out. Secondly, coconut cream is not the same as coconut milk – the box I bought was a separated grainy mess. Thirdly, swapping tofu for jackfruit made for a weird and sloppy texture, not to mention the fact that jackfruit tastes like, well, a fruit. Jamie didn’t seem to mind, though, and happily gobbled it up while I sulkily tucked into a packet of crisps.
On that note, here’s something I made earlier that actually worked. Roasted harissa carrot and lentil salad on a bed of homemade labneh (strained Greek yoghurt). If you can’t be bothered to make your own labneh (I don’t blame you), simply substitute for full-fat Greek yoghurt.
Harissa carrot & lentil salad Serves 2 / Hands on time 35 mins / Total time 45 mins /V Gf For the carrots 250g whole carrots, trimmed and peeled (I use organic bunched carrots)
1 tbs rapeseed oil
1 tbs harissa
2 tsp maple syrup
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp ground cumin For the lentils 1 tsp rapeseed oil Small red onion, peeled and sliced
1 tsp harissa
250g ready to eat puy lentils
Juice and zest of a lemon 1 garlic clove, crushed To serve 4 tbs full fat Greek yogurt or Labneh Handful fresh dill, chopped
50g soft vegetarian goats cheese (optional)
1. Preheat an oven to 200°C/180°C fan/ 400F/gas mark 6. Trim and peel the carrots and place in a large roasting tin.
2. To make the dressing combine the rapeseed oil, harissa, maple syrup, garlic, ground cumin together in a small bowl with a crack of salt and pepper. Pour over the carrots and mix well until they are well coated. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes before giving them a good shake and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile sweat the onions in the oil in a large pot or frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add a dash of water to help the onions steam before adding the harissa. Stir and cook for a few minutes before adding the lentils along with the zest and juice of a lemon. Season well with salt and pepper and warm through. Once hot, take off the heat and stir in the crushed garlic. Cover with a lid and put to one side.
4. To serve, make a bed of yogurt or labneh in the middle of each plate and spoon over the warm lentils. Top with the carrots, a sprinkling of chopped dill and scatter with soft goats cheese.
If you’ve had a go at making my harissa carrot salad or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to making things like cheese and bread, I have to admit that I have a bit of a bad attitude. I mean, why would I bother when I can buy a lovely loaf of bread from the shop made by someone who actually knows what they’re doing? I know that’s not the point, but sometimes I find it hard to snap out of my stubborn, convenience-obsessed self.
So, after accidentally adding two pots of Greek yoghurt to my online shopping basket, I decided to roll up my sleeves and have a go at making labeh* – I mean, there’s only so much yoghurt a girl can eat.
I dug out the muslin cloth I used to make cheese three years ago and draped it over an inadequately sized sieve, balanced over an inadequately sized bowl. I added salt to my yoghurt and poured it straight into the muslin and tied it in a knot. Okay, what next? Oh, is that it? Well, that was easy. So I walked off and enjoyed an afternoon watching Blake Lively almost get eaten by a very big shark in The Shallows.
*For those of you that don’t know, labneh is literally strained yogurt. It has the texture of cream cheese but the flavour of Greek yoghurt and is utterly delicious. Serve with salads, roasted vegetables, on toast or check out what I decided to make with it next week. Oh, I bet you’re on tenterhooks.
Homemade labneh Makes 350g / Hands on time 10 mins / Total time 10 mins + 20-24 hours draining /VGf You’ll need: Roughly a metre of fine muslin
500g full-fat Greek style yogurt
1 heaped tsp of sea salt flakes
1. Place a sieve over a large bowl and cover with a muslin cloth folded in half (you need to fold the muslin to prevent yogurt seeping through, you only want to remove the liquid).
2. Add the salt directly to the tub of yogurt and stir well with a butter knife (you can use a spoon but the surface area of a butter knife is smaller so you’re less likely to spill the yogurt).
3. Once combined, spoon the yogurt straight into the muslin cloth. Gather up the edges and tie in a tight knot (the liquid draining out of the yogurt should be relatively clear). Keep in a cool dry place for 20-24 hours covered with a tea-towel (the longer you leave the labneh the thicker it will become).
4. When you’re ready, give the labneh a final squeeze to get rid of any excess water before untying the knot. Tip the labneh into an air-tight container and store in the fridge. Consume within 3 days.
If you’ve had a go at making my labneh or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale email@example.com