White Chocolate & Raspberry Oat Bars

The Plain Kitchen Gluten Free Lunchbox Bars

Lunchbox time is upon us once again after half term, and it is often a struggle to come up with snacks that are not filled with nuts: although we eat a variety of nuts at home, of course they can’t be taken to school because of nut allergies in other children. These oat bars don’t use a huge amount of sugar (well- compared to a biscuit or cookie they don’t) and are packed full of oats and a little rice flour. If you fancy upping the white chocolate content to 100g, I don’t think this would be a bad idea. I was attempting to be restrained in my use of 50g- that is all!

I know I have made cookies with similar ingredients a few months back- these are far more virtuous.

Makes 10 squares

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Ingredients:

200g rolled oats

50g brown rice flour

60g light brown soft sugar

100g salted butter

2 tbsp groundnut oil

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

5g dried raspberries

50g white chocolate, chopped

Slight squeeze orange juice

Zest of an orange

Method:

Line a 10cm x 20cm tin (or similar) with baking parchment- allow the parchment to come up the sides so that it is easy to lift out after baking.

Whizz 100g of the oats to a fine grain using a hand-held blender or similar appliance. Mix with the other 100g of oats and the rice flour.

Melt the butter, sugar, syrup and oil over a gentle heat. Add this melted mixture to the oat and flour mix, and then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Press into your lined tin, and bake for 15-20 minutes or so. They must be a light golden brown on top. Remove, allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before chopping into slices or squares.

 

Smoked Haddock & Potato Frittata

the plain kitchen frittata

It does seem that I’m making rather a lot of frittatas these days, but I suppose it’s the change in the weather- and, this week, I somehow ordered about 70 eggs so I am getting through quite a lot of them. This is an easy peasy thing, and the addition of the curry powder really helps it along: please do this, as it makes all the difference. Cube your potatoes into little squares- about 1cm squared should do it. You want the potatoes to cook through quite quickly- and the smaller, the better!

This is a really family friendly mid-week delicious supper- enjoy.

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Ingredients:

2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 tbsp olive oil

About 40g butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, microplaned

1 heaped tsp curry powder

250g smoked haddock

10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork

½ tsp Maldon salt

Good grinding black pepper

Small handful chopped parsley

4 spring onions, finely chopped

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Method

Heat the oil and butter in a large ovenproof frying pan or dish. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 8-10 minutes. Add the curry powder and potatoes, and continue to saute for another 8-10 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and haddock (I am lazy: I add the haddock in whole pieces and as it is cooking, I break it up with my wooden spoon). Continue to saute for 3 minutes, just so the fish breaks up, and the tomatoes begin to soften, At this stage, you may need to add a little more oil or butter to help loosen the potatoes from the bottom of the pan- don’t be afraid to do so should this start happening. Add the seasoning, eggs and parsley, and spring onions- reserving a few chopped onions and parsley for garnish once it is cooked. Stir well, top with the grated cheese and pop into a preheated oven for 10 minutes- it should be golden and slightly puffed up. Serve immediately.

 

Mango and Cucumber Lassi

The Plain Kitchen Lassi

I’ve been drinking a small glass of this as part of my second breakfasts this week- at about 9 o clock, when I’ve dropped Barnaby at school and am about to begin work, and need a quick pick-me-up until Elevenses. There are so many different types of lassi- and endless variations and ingredients. The mango I had wasn’t a gorgeous Alphonso mango- sadly, the variety I used wasn’t as sweet as it should have been, hence my addition of maple syrup. We used to eat tons of mangoes in South Africa- so many different cultivars, right from early season through to late season. Papaya, Avocado, Lychee and Mango trees were common garden inhabitants, just as apples and plums are here: and the monkeys and wild boars used to go mad for the fallen fruit. I will forevermore have a memory of my most wonderful, brilliant, dear Uncle Hugh who decided he would take matters into his own hands regarding the infestation of wild boar at the bottom of his garden. I think he also had a score to settle because the boars had also gored one of the Airedales- the pigs were pretty vicious creatures. However, the wild animals loved the garden, because of the bounty of fruit from the trees (and, obviously a few Airedales to tease also must have seemed like great fun). Hugh bought a crossbow, and decided to camp out one night at the bottom of the garden to catch them at work.  I don’t know if he ever did manage to nab one, but that image of him, sleeping bag in hand and crossbow ready, hopping over the deck and careering off down the garden, almost bouncing with excitement (he always bounced- the positive energy Hugh had was indescribable) will remain with me forever. Avenging the Airedale-taunting-Avocado-thieving-boars- it sounds like a Monty Python skit of sorts!

Apologies- I do digress so very easily. Getting back to the lassi: A tiny amount of cardamom seeds is needed- grind these to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar. There should be a hint of cardamom- that is all. I use full fat Greek yoghurt (I really hardly ever use fat free or low fat anything- the exemption being crème fraiche, where I do sometimes use half fat, but otherwise, it is full fat all the way). The cucumber thins the drink slightly- which is what you want.

Refreshing and utterly delicious.

Makes 4 small glasses

Ingredients:

1 mango, peeled and chopped

5 cm piece cucumber, chopped

seeds of ½ pod of cardamom

1 tsp maple syrup

250ml full fat yoghurt

Method

Grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar until you have a fine powder. Using a hand held blender, or similar appliance, whizz the mango, yoghurt, cucumber and syrup until you have a smooth frothy mix. Stir the powdered seeds through, and serve immediately. It will keep in the fridge for a day or so.

Watercress and Feta Frittata

The Plain Kitchen

Frittata seems to be such a go-to supper in our house. I made this for the boys last week, thinking Barnaby would enjoy it because of the feta cheese. He ended up being quite picky about the watercress- we have yet to fully convert him to eating salad; something he will surely pick up later in life, but at the moment, it just doesn’t float his boat. The fresh oregano works well in the mix too; I seem to have tons of the stuff in the garden at the moment, and I do love the flavour so much. Watercress, of course, is another of the leaves that is on the farms: we used to live on one of the farms, and I used watercress throughout the year, as I was able to pick it as and when I needed it. Sadly, the watercress beds are no longer just a short wander away, but I do still use the leaves a lot- it is a most underrated, forgotten about leaf, but is an absolute favourite of mine in all sorts of dishes.

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Ingredients:

About 10-12 new baby potatoes, boiled, drained, sliced in half and set aside

1 medium white onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 small clove garlic, microplaned

1 tbsp olive oil

Good knob salted butter

4 eggs

150g feta cheese, cut into cubes

few sprigs fresh oregano, finely chopped, and a few extra leaves for decoration

½ bag watercress leaves, chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

½ tsp Maldon salt

Good grinding black pepper

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Method

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan until frothy. Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 8 minutes. Add the halved boiled potatoes and the red pepper, and saute gently for a further 2 minutes. Add the feta cubes and chopped watercress, the salt, pepper and oregano, followed by the eggs. Shake the pan to ensure everything is easily distributed. Keep on a medium heat for a minute, then top with grated parmesan, pop in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let rest in the pan for about 5 minutes, before running a spatula around the sides of the frittata, and gently easing it out onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with oregano leaves, and serve.

 

Strawberry & Plum Compote, Ginger & Rose Syrup

DSC_0795

I had a few leftover strawberries in the fridge which were not at their best, and 2 plums perfectly ripe in the fruit bowl: this little compote was the result of not wanting to waste the fruit. Terribly easy, and will keep in the fridge for a day or so. You’re after a maple syrup type of consistency to the syrup, and be careful how you go with the stirring: be gentle, as you don’t want the fruit to break up. Serve with natural yoghurt.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

200g strawberries, hulled and halved

2 plums, stones removed, skin left on, sliced into little crescents

2 tbsp caster sugar

Squeeze lemon juice

2 thick slices ginger- unpeeled

About 3/4 of a cup water

1 tsp rose water

1 tsp runny honey

Method:

In a medium sized heavy based saucepan, heat the sugar, plums, ginger and a ¼ cup water. Keep on a medium to high heat; the fruit should be sizzling in the water and sugar, and keep stirring gently. Keep adding the rest of the water so that the plums don’t stick – and cook for a total of 3 minutes. Add the strawberries and lemon juice after 3 minutes of cooking the plums, and stir very gently, allowing the strawberries to release some of their colour into the syrup but don’t let them break up too much. After 1 minute, add the rose water and honey, and a little more water should you need it, stir gently for 1 more minute. Remove the ginger, discard,  and there you have it.