XinXim (de Galinha)

Brazil is infamous for three things: Football, Carnival and Cuisine. I forgave them for their disappointing yet memorable defeat at the World Cup when I discovered their champion dish whilst dining in Las Iguanas during the football season.  Apparently one of Pele’s favourite dishes, Xinxim is a chicken stew which captures all that Brazil represents: a blend of  Portuguese, African and native Latin American Indian flavours. The marinated pieces of chicken are quickly browned and then cooked in this marvellously delicious thick rich sauce which is a combination of nuts and one key ingredient: Palm Oil.

Palm ‘fruit’ oil (as opposed to palm kernel which does not carry the same health benefits) is now sold in most supermarkets, and is commonly used in West African recipes from what I have tasted. I was surprised to find its distinguishing rusty red colour and mild fruity taste makes it healthier than olive, avocado or even coconut oil. Its colour is attributed to its high carotene content, the same antioxidant that gives tomatoes and carrots their rich red and orange colour. Palm oil is very high in vitamin E also.

My version of this recipe is made without crayfish as I don’t eat seafood, but you can still enjoy this rich stew with a side of fried plantain and rice.

XinXim

Ingredients

1 KG of Chicken thighs (de-boned and cut into medium pieces) or breast

1/3 cup palm oil

1/3 cup roasted peanuts

1/3 cup of cashew nuts

1/3 bunch chopped Coriander

1 tbsp spoon of grated ginger

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic

1 large onion – finely chopped

1 Tbsp of lime juice

1 Can of coconut milk

1 whole scotch bonnet

salt to season

Method

1. Cut the chicken into medium chunks, clean and marinate (in a combination of lime juice, salt, black pepper, salt, dried thyme, paprika, grated onion, garlic) overnight or at least 3 hours.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the palm oil and cook the chicken pieces for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally

3. In a blender add cashew nuts, peanuts, ginger and garlic. Blend it into a rough paste and add it to the chicken with the whole scotch bonnet pepper.

4. Cook over medium heat for a further 10 minutes, if the paste gets too dry, add some water

5. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 15 min.

6. Serve with garlic and lime rice and a side of fried plantain

Nutritional value of 1 serving of XinXim

1 bowl
Calories(Calories from fat) 256
Sodium 148 mg
Total Fat 10 g
Potassium
Saturated Fat  4 g
Total Carbs
Polyunsaturated  1 g
Dietary Fibre 1 g
Monounsaturated  2 g
Sugars
Protein 29 g
Vitamin A
Calcium
Vitamin C
Iron 5%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Spiced Walnut Butter

 

photo 3

 

 

If your anything like me, walnuts haven’t rated too highly on my ‘nut list’ either. But did you know that walnuts have the highest amount of omega 3- fatty acid of any nut? In other words it’s the all round hair, skin and nail food. Now does it sound a bit more appealing? Ok well I tried.

I still believe the walnut has the right to be released from the prison of banana breads and festive nut trail mixes; it has a hugely bold even bitter flavour, I agree, but when combined with sweet cinnamon and nutmeg, it seems to mellow down to a smooth pecan like taste. I say make the most of that trail mix and create the most irresistible butter you would have ever tasted. I’ve been enjoying it all week and feeling good!

This recipe can keep for up to 2 weeks if stored in an air tight glass jar in the fridge. This recipe makes just over a cup of walnut butter. Enjoy!

 

Spiced Walnut Butter

Ingredients

3 cups of raw walnuts
pinch of salt
40 mls Maple Syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
2-3 tsp liquid coconut oil

Method

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4 (350F). Place the walnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Watch them carefully as you don’t want them to go brown. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor, place the other ingredients and add the walnuts. Blend on a high speed until you have the consistency you want: crunchy or smooth butter. Taste the mixture and add more syrup or spice if desired.

Serve with warm toast or bagels.

Nutritional value of Spiced Walnut Butter.

Spiced Walnut Butter(2 tbsp)
Calories(Calories from fat) 258
Sodium 2 g
Total Fat 19 g
Potassium 42.8 mg
Saturated Fat 2 g
Total Carbs 17.4 g
Polyunsaturated 2 g
Dietary Fibre 3.2 g
Monounsaturated 3 g
Sugars 11.9 g
Protein 5 g
Zinc 5.5%
Calcium 4.8%
Manganese 33%
Iron 5% 9.3%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Spring Salad Series: Fennel with “Ranch” Dressing

 

I had a spring in my step last weekend. For the first time in about 5 months or more, the first signs of Spring began to emerge. The most noticeable effect of this glorious beam of sunshine and clear blue skies, is actually waking up happy. Seriously it’s as simple as that: when you have spent the last winter waking up and working and going to sleep practically in the dark, it’s like someone literally flicked a switch on in a dark damp room: suddenly everything is clearer and looks attractive.

London feels like a welcoming place again. Another noticeable change is my appetite. I don’t know about you, but it’s a lot easier to eat and enjoy fresh fruits and salads in the summer than it is in the winter.

Maybe the problem started when we started eating fruits and vegetables out of season, I mean the king of comfort vegetables, Pumpkin just feels better in winter than in the middle of March right? That’s why I thought for this months recipe I would work on a couple of salads that suit the warm crisp air of Spring.

I can’t promise you warmth, but these salads are definitely fresh and crispy. I combined a couple of them in a tortilla wrap with the vegan ranch dressing last night…amazing! I didn’t miss meat or cheese at all.

So here to start the Spring Salads Series off is Fennel. Fennel with its aniseed like flavour is a great source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, folic acid, vitamin C and potassium. It also helps with digestion (particularly that of fat…yay!), stomach cramps and freshens breath.

Fennel Salad

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Servings: 3 Prep time: 20 mins

Ingredients:

2 Fennel bulbs, finely sliced length ways

1 large celery stalk, finely sliced (against the grain, ‘V’ shaped slices)

1/2 Cucumber – shredded

Drizzle of Lemon Juice

1/2 cup Pine Nuts – lightly toasted

Toss all the ingredients together, leaving the pine nuts until last as you want them to retain their crunchy texture. You can then drizzle in the lemon juice or stir in the vegan ranch dressing. As I said great in a wrap or as a side dish.

 

Pistachio Baklava

IMG_2739I live in a culturally rich part of London where the streets are essentially a tapestry of Turkish and Greek restaurants and bakeries. The Baklava’s are usually quite deliberately perched in long trays and pans in these shop windows, which also happen to be located behind a bus stop of some kind, leaving me drooling…for the 29 bus. Most of us are familiar with this very sweet delicacy, and only the brave or those with dentures can manage more than one maybe two squares. There is no healthy alternative to this, you can’t skip or substitute any ingredients it is what it is: yummy! Now off for my 5k run.

Pistachio Baklava

  • Servings: 60 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
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Filling

2 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves

40g walnuts

250g almonds (with skins on), chopped

150g shelled pistachios, chopped

1 lemon, finely grated zest

6 tbsp granulated sugar

16 sheets Filo Pastry

75g unsalted butter, melted

Syrup

450g granulated sugar

Pinch of sea salt flakes

1 lemon, juice and 3 strips zest,

1 cinnamon stick

1tsp almond essence

1 tsp minced ginger (optional)

Whole cloves (decoration)

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Put the spices, in a pan and roast over a high heat until you start to smell the aromas. Allow to cool then with a mortar and pestle finely grind. Finely chop all nuts in a bowl and add the ground spice mixture with the lemon zest and 6 tbsp granulated sugar.

Open out the filo pastry, and cover with a damp tea-towel to prevent it from drying out. Brush a rectangular baking tray with vegetable oil. Brush a sheet of filo with butter and place in the baking tray. Repeat to make 8 layers. Trim to make sure it fits snuggly.

IMG_2740Add the nut mixture and spread evenly. Brush remaining pastry with butter and layer until all the pastry is used. Trim the top to a snug fit. Press down gently with the palm of your hand. Lightly score the pastry top but do not cut all the way through into the nuts. Criss-cross in diagonal lines to give a diamond pattern. Pin the whole cloves through the centre of each of the diamonds at this stage if you wish. Brush top with butter and bake for 25-30 minutes.

In the meantime make the syrup. Put the sugar in a pan with 300ml water, a pinch of sea salt flakes, the lemon juice and strips of zest, ginger and the cinnamon. Heat gently until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil for 5-8 minutes until the syrup is light and slightly thickened. Add the almond essence to taste. Cool quickly by placing the pan in a bowl of ice.

IMG_2747Remove baklava from oven once golden brown. Cut the pastry all the way through. Straining the syrup, gently spoon the syrup over the baklava.

(Adding cold syrup to hot pastry keeps the pastry crisp.) Cool completely.