Chunky authentic guacamole

No Mexican fare is complete without this delicious side. It has to be one of my favourite things to eat at any time of day, whether it’s partnered with spicy fajitas, piled onto melting cheese nachos or simply spread on thickly sliced toast – a personal favourite. Made right, this is comfort food at it’s best and it’s super healthy. Avocados do have one of the highest fat and calorie contents a fruit can have, but it’s all good healthy fats to make you glow. Your hair, skin and nails will thank you for this one.

The first trick to making a decent guacamole is using ripe avocados. It sounds obvious enough, but people often get this part wrong. You’ll know they’re ripe if they give a little when squeezed. If it’s under-ripe, it’ll be firm and quite unappealing, almost bitter to eat. I always get my avocados fresh from a market stall because they usually have better quality, size and price over regular supermarkets. One of my favourite local fruit and veg markets is Kingston’s Ancient Market in the suburbs of London – a quaint historical location, friendly traders and great value – I’ll do a post on my favourite London markets soon.

In true form, this recipe uses all the classic flavours that go into a tasty homemade guac and there’s the second trick – salt for balance, crushed garlic for a kick, diced tomatoes for freshness, chilli for heat, spring onions for texture, lime juice to cut through the rich buttery avocado and good quality olive oil to bring everything together. That’s it! It’s such a simple recipe but will bring your meals to life with vibrant green colour, fresh flavours and a beautifully creamy texture. Try it with my American sweet potato pancakes – it’s a dreamy combo. If you’re not keen on avocados, you’ll be hooked once you’ve made this guacamole.

Serves 2-4 | Prep: 10 mins

For the guacamole: 

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 beef tomato
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes or 1/2 a fresh chilli
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil

Step one: Run a sharp knife along the middle of the avocado, around the entire fruit til it meets the start point. Twist in opposite directions with your hands and it should come apart, stone intact. Use a sharp knife to tap and remove the stone. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon into a bowl and mash gently. Tricky part, done!

Step two: Chop and remove the flesh of the tomato then dice into small chunks. I ended up using half of the tomato because they’re quite big and juicy, but you could add more if you wish. Chop the spring onion and crush the garlic cloves. Add all three ingredients to the avocado.

Step three: Season to taste with salt, pepper, chilli, a good squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix everything together, but not too much as you want some texture remaining.

Step four: Garnish with a few spring onions and chilli flakes, then devour.

Advertisement

Sweet potato pancakes with honey Greek yoghurt

Ahh, pancakes. You can’t beat a perfectly thin crepe doused in lemon and sugar, or a stack of fluffy American style pancakes soaked in maple syrup. It’s one of those foods that bring instant joy before they’re even served. There’s even a guilt-free day dedicated to them, I mean what more of an excuse do we need? And it’s not just kids who get excited at the prospect of flipping pancakes and piling on as many toppings as possible – strawberries, chocolate sauce, caramel, whipped cream – they’ve all been done. In the UK we usually make thin crepes on days like Shrove Tuesday, but in my opinion you can’t beat good homemade American pancakes. They bring reminders of home and happy times. Maybe it’s the nostalgic element of childhood excitement, or the fun and competitiveness making pancakes usually brings to the kitchen that make them such a winner. But let’s be honest, they’re not the healthiest of things.

With all the ‘American diner’ inspired restaurants popping up all over the UK, and especially in my home city of London, it’s not hard to find foodie inspiration or be tempted to eat your way through all the wrong kinds of foods. These sweet potato pancakes are inspired by one of my favourite diners, but with a few adaptations not only to make them healthier, but also taste damn good. I use homemade sweet potato puree that I flavour with browned butter and honey. This alone is divine. I generally avoid dairy milk, so I use sweetened soya milk (almond milk will work too) in the batter and spice things up with cinnamon, vanilla extract and nutmeg. The result? Fluffy, subtly sweet and melt in the mouth pancakes for a sweet or savory meal. The thick honey Greek yoghurt adds a lightness to the dish perfect for a healthy breakfast, perhaps with fresh or stewed fruits, but substitute this for some guacamole (recipe coming soon) and poached eggs and it’s perfect Sunday brunch/lunch deliciousness.

Makes 4 large pancakes | Method: 20 mins | Cooking: 8 – 12 mins

For the sweet potato purée: 

  • 4 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp honey or agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • A pinch of sea salt

Step one: Peel and chop the sweet potatoes, then boil for 10 minutes in salted water on a medium heat.

Step two: Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small non stick pan for 3 minutes. As the butter cooks it will become brown and nutty in smell and taste. Be careful not to have the heat too high as it will easily burn!

Step three: Once the potatoes are soft, drain and mash with a fork. And the browned butter and honey. Use a wooden spoon and mix well for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. That’s it!

For the pancake batter:

  • 260g self raising flour
  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract or fresh vanilla bean paste
  • Sweet potato purée (above)
  • 4 tbsp flavourless oil for frying (sunflower or vegetable)
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave syrup
  • 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt

Step one: Heat up a small non stick pan with 1 tbsp of oil. In a heavy bowl or mixer, combine all the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and spices – for a minute until well mixed. Make a well in the centre.

Step two: Add both eggs and the milk. Mix well to form a semi-thin batter.

Step three: Add the purée and mix well until a smooth thick batter is formed.

Step four: Take enough batter to make a large sized pancake and fry one at a time for 2-3 minutes, turning mid-way. Add more oil as you cook the rest.

Step five: To serve, swirl the honey into some Greek yoghurt and pile on top of your pancakes. It’s almost too good to eat.

Soft baked dark chocolate & pistachio cookies

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

Pistachio nuts have grown on me over the years and are now a firm favourite with me. I think they’re an acquired taste – the same goes for dark chocolate. You’ll grow to love them more you’re exposed to them. I never used to like their flavours but now, well I’ve come to realise how good they are. Salted pistachios? Yes. Pistachio ice cream? YES. Bittersweet chocolate? Well, yes I’ll have that too. It was during my Summer in Berlin that I began to understand and appreciate quality chocolate. They’re both pricey but worth it, especially when it comes to cooking with them. Together they are the most amazing combination, and these guilt-free soft baked cookies do them justice.

Soft baked dark chocolate & pistachio cookies

You’ll want to use 60% or 70% (cocoa solids) dark chocolate for intensity, but the recipe can be adapted if you prefer a lower grade. It’s a simple recipe with only a handful of ingredients, but the key to this is probably the short length of time you cook them for – just 8 minutes – so I’d suggest not leaving the kitchen to save distractions!

Oh, and eat them warm out of the oven. But I warn you, one won’t be enough…

Makes 6 large/12 small cookies | Method: 5 mins | Cooking: 8 mins

For the cookie mix:

  • 180g plain flour
  • 60g rolled oats
  • 120g light brown soft sugar
  • 100g butter or sunflower spread, softened
  • 100g 60% or 70% dark chocolate
  • 100g shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Step one: Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Step two: In a heavy bowl or mixer, cream the butter, sugar and egg until well mixed. Add the salt, flour and oats.

Step three: Roughly chop the chocolate into semi-large chunks and also the pistachio nuts. Mix into the cookie dough until dispersed.

Step four: With your hands, take a golf ball sized amount of dough, and gently press down onto the tray. You should fit six perfectly on the tray, well spaced apart (they’ll spread when cooking and if making 12 then use two trays).

Step five: Bake for 8 minutes, then let cool for a few minutes on a wire rack. They should be firm on the outside, but soft melting goodness inside.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

 

detail-backgroundimage2