Herby lamb with roast aubergine & Puy lentils


Give your traditional roast a new spin with this rosemary encrusted rack of lamb, served over dressed lentils, aubergine and red onion.

Ingredients

  • 1 aubergine, halved lengthways
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 2 medium red onions, cut into wedges
  • 300g French trimmed rack of lamb, any visible fat removed
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 250g pack cooked puy lentils
  • good handful mint
  • good handful flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts (optional)

Method

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Slash the aubergine several times and brush with a little oil. Put the onions in a small roasting tin, place the aubergine on top and roast for 20 mins. Meanwhile, season the lamb with pepper and press the rosemary onto the outside. Add the lamb to the tin and cook for 25 mins more until the aubergine and lamb are cooked. Remove the lamb, cover and leave to rest for 5 mins.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the lentils following pack instructions, dice the roasted aubergine, then toss in a bowl with the lentils, onions, mint, parsley, vinegar, remaining oil and the pine nuts, if using. Slice the lamb into cutlets and serve with the lentil salad.

Bite-sized toffee apple doughnuts


Master the art of deep frying and rustle up a batch of these irresistible mini-doughnuts filled with cinnamon caramel.

Ingredients

  • 150ml milk
  • 50g butter, cut into small pieces
  • 400g plain flour
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 50g caster sugar, plus 50g extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon, plus 1 tsp for dusting
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 apple, grated
  • vegetable or sunflower oil for frying, plus extra for greasing
  • 397g can caramel (we used Carnation)

Method

  1. Warm the milk in a saucepan. Add the butter and set aside until the milk has cooled to hand temperature and the butter has melted. Put the flour in a large bowl with the yeast, sugar, cinnamon and 1⁄2 tsp salt, mix well. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk mixture, egg and apple. Combine with a wooden spoon, then tip out onto a work surface and knead for a few mins to combine. Pop into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size – about 2 hrs.
  2. Lightly grease 2 large baking trays. Uncover the dough and knock out all the air. Remove a lump of dough, roughly the size of a walnut, and roll into a smooth ball. Put on a tray and squash gently with your palm. Repeat with the remaining dough – you should make about 20 doughnuts in total. Cover the trays with a sheet of oiled cling film and leave to prove until doubled in size again – about 30 mins.
  3. Line a large plate or baking tray with kitchen paper, and mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon on another. Pour enough oil to come halfway up the sides of a large saucepan. If you have a thermometer the temperature should reach 180C. If you don’t have one, drop in a small chunk of bread. The oil is ready when it browns in about 30 secs. Drop in 3-4 doughnuts at a time (depending on the size of your pan) and cook for 4-5 mins until each one is deep golden brown and puffed up. Drain on the kitchen paper, then quickly toss in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.
  4. To fill the doughnuts, use a skewer or cocktail stick to make a hole in each one. Wiggle it around in the middle to create a cavity. Transfer the caramel to a piping bag fitted with small nozzle, insert the nozzle into the doughnut and squeeze as you pull it out, filling generously. Continue with the remaining doughnuts. Serve with extra caramel for dunking.

Baked cheesecake with blackberries, blueberries and figs

Previously I have always done no-bake cheesecakes. Partly due to laziness and partly because I was unsure of the taste. But I finally succumbed and this is a stunning cheesecake with so much rich, creamy flavour. I believe I am now a baked cheesecake expert!
Equipment and preparation: you will need a 23cm/9in springform cake tin.

Ingredients

For the base
  • 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, melted
  • 200g/7oz gingernut biscuits (about 20 biscuits)
For the filling
  • 450g/1lb full-fat cream cheese
  • 250g/9oz ricotta
  • 150g/5½oz double cream
  • 3 medium free-range eggs
  • 125g/4½oz caster sugar
  • 2½ tbsp cornflour
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
For the topping
  • 125g/4½oz fresh blueberries
  • 125g/4½oz fresh blackberries
  • 2 figs, each cut into 6 evenly-sized wedges
  • 2 tsp icing sugar, sifted
  • handful fresh mint leaves (optional)

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3 (150C fan).
  2. To make the base, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat (or a bowl in the microwave). Line the base of a 23cm/9in springform cake tin with baking parchment, brushing a little of the melted butter on the base to help the paper stick. Break up the gingernut biscuits in a food processor to give fine crumbs. Mix well into the melted butter and then tip into the bottom of the prepared tin. Press the mixture well into the bottom so it is packed tight and level. Place in the fridge to set for 20 minutes or so while you get on with the filling.
  3. For the filling, put the cream cheese, ricotta, cream, eggs, sugar, cornflour and vanilla seeds into a large bowl and beat like mad for a few minutes until everything is combined and smooth. An electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment will make this easier than by hand. Once the biscuit base is set, remove the tin from the fridge and pour this mixture in on top.
  4. Sit on a baking tray and pop into the oven for 40-45 minutes. The cheesecake should be just set with a little wobble. When it reaches this stage, turn off the oven and leave to cool in there for about an hour. This (usually) stops the cheesecake from cracking. Also avoid moving the cheesecake around at this stage to help prevent cracking. However, don’t worry if it does crack as it will still taste delicious and will be nicely decorated.
  5. Once it has had an hour of cooling, remove the cheesecake from the oven. The cheesecake may still be a little bit warm, so you can either eat it like this or wait and eat it when it is completely cool. Arrange the berries and figs on top, dust with icing sugar and scatter over the mint leaves if using, and serve. The cheesecake will keep for a couple of days, covered in the fridge.

5 Reasons to Skip Breakfast


The belief that we won’t have our get-up-and-go unless we down our Cheerios has turned the concept of eating upon rising into a die-hard dietary rule. Original research on whether breakfast made an impact on health did find that healthier people ate breakfast. But data, as we know, doesn’t always tell the whole story.
“Lots of people who skip breakfast or practice intermittentfasting are healthy too,” says Dr. John Berardi, co-founder ofPrecision Nutrition. “About 85% of the clients we work with eat breakfast and tend to follow a guideline of eating small frequent meals throughout the day, but that’s largely to help them learn to practice healthier eating habits. If you’re a person who regularly makes good nutritional choices, then eating breakfast is more negotiable.”
In fact, skipping that first meal may lead to some real benefits — from possibly losing a few pounds to increasing your level of anti-aging growth hormone. And don’t worry, your metabolism won’t suffer. Eating small meals throughout the day, starting with breakfast, isn’t necessary to stimulate metabolism, says Berardi, who co-authored an extensive study review on meal frequency for the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
His suggested revise to the dictate: Breakfast is optional. Hard-and-fast rules don’t allow for much mindfulness, anyway — and that’s an integral part of any nutritional approach. So if you love how breakfast gets you going, feel free to stick with that routine, but if you’re not a morning person, there’s no harm in forgoing food first thing.
Here, Berardi suggests 5 reasons to skip breakfast:
1. It’s not required to boost metabolism. The idea that metabolism slows radically in response to not eating certain meals in a single day just isn’t accurate. The amount of calories you’re taking in and the composition of those calories — proteins, carbs, and fats — are really what impact metabolism.
2. It may lead to eating less overall. If you skip breakfast, you can eat fewer, larger meals beginning later in the day, rather than 6 smaller meals throughout the day, which may be less satisfying. This can lower your total caloric intake for the day and may lead to weight loss.    
3. There’s a payoff even if you’re an occasional skipper. Intermittent fasting reduces insulin levels, so you can actually increase your insulin sensitivity for better blood sugar management. At the same time, your body will release more growth hormone, which helps to preserve lean tissue and burn fat tissue.

4. It can help lower your total carb intake for the day. Most of us are over-carbed. We eat too many refined carbs, too little protein, and too much fat. So by skipping breakfast it can steer you away from the typical high-carb breakfast foods — toast, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes — that may trigger an insulin response that kicks you out of fat-burning mode.

5. It can help you tune in to your body. You just might feel better sipping water with lemon or a green juice rather than forcing food in the morning. Some people feel nauseous and not ready to eat right when they get up and in that case you’re better off listening to your body’s cues. Ideally, you want to figure out what works best for you.

Roasted Garlic Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Boats



INGREDIENTS
4-6 small spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head garlic
1 pounds spicy italian chicken sausage (or 1 pound ground chicken or half ground chicken half sausage)
4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
1/2 a sweet onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon fresh sage (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon fresh basil ( 2 teaspoons dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup provolone cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
fried sage or fresh basil, for garnish
INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Chop off the top portion of the garlic head to reveal cloves. Peel any excess paper/skin off from the bulb of garlic. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil on top the garlic cloves and cover with foil. Roast in a baking dish for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and soft. Allow to cool and then squeeze garlic out of the paper skin into a small bowl and mash well with a fork, set aside.
  3. At the same time roast the squash. Slice the squash lengthwise and rub a drizzle of oil all over the cut side of both squash halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake about 30 to 45 minutes, or until the squash is just tender enough to scrape into strands. You want it to be barely tender, it will continue cooking later. Remove from the oven and scrape the squash into strands.
  5. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. While the squash bakes make the sauce. In a large skillet, cook 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the pancetta over medium heat, stirring, until the pancetta is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, bay leaf, thyme and sage and cook, stirring until the veggies are softened, about 5 minutes. Push to the veggies to the side of the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the center of the pan and crumble in the chicken sausage and cook without stirring for 3 minutes. Break up the meat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until well browned, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes, basil and 1 cup water to the skillet. Simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Once the sauce has thicken a bit, discard the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the mashed garlic.
  8. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk in a steady stream and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking throughout. Remove from the heat, stir in all of the provolone and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Let cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.
  9. To assemble the boats, remove a little of the squash strands from each boat. Then place a layer of the meat sauce on top of the remaining strands, then a layer of the cheese sauce, then layer the removed squash strands on top of the cheese and divide the remaining meat sauce among the boats. Lastly, top with the remaining cheese sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. Place the squash on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350, or until the squash are warm throughout and the cheese is browning. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh sage, fried sage or basil. EAT!