North London Kitchen

Cooking, eating, and designing a kitchen in North London

Category: Recipes

100% foolproof guide to avoiding avocado hand

Last week everyone was talking about avocados.  Apparently millennials are spending all of their money on avocado toast instead of houses, oops.  Ok, so I was living on scraps from the back of the fridge with multiple other people of varying degrees of personal hygiene in a flat with no living room for about ten years before I was finally able to afford my own little space, but I’m not going to give any advice on how to get on the property ladder to those younger than me because I get it.  I bought the last affordable flat in North London so I know there’s nothing left.  You may as well drink your single estate espresso and eat your avocados.

But please do so safely.  The Guardian also reported that people keep injuring themselves trying to cut avocados.  I know.  I have been there.  But you do not have to live like this, my friends. I’m here to tell you that cutting an avocado safely is much easier than saving for a deposit.  Here’s how:

20170511_080605

Step 1: Taking a sharp knife, cut around the middle of your avocado.  A sharp knife is less likely to slip and head off in the wrong direction.  I nearly sliced the top of my finger off with a blunt knife as a teenager in my mother’s kitchen.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT attempt to put your knife, however sharp, in the avocado stone.  That way lies blood and stitches.  Instead do this:

20170511_080708

Step 2: Cut your half avocados in half again. You will be left with the stone in one of the quarters.  And then it’s simple:

20170511_080739

Using your fingers, which you still have because you did not cut them off in Step 2, to gently remove the avocado stone.  Now, why didn’t you think of that before?

Extra for experts: waste none of the avocado.  From here the skin is easy to peel away from the avocado flesh.  Any minor blemishes tend to stick to the skin, so what is left is ready to use.

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Get your bread into the toaster, an egg into the pot, mash up your avocado, and brew your coffee.

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Breakfast is served.

If you really, really can’t afford avocados get a packet of frozen broad beans for £1 at your local convenience store.  Double pod them and mash them up with some roast garlic, olive oil, s + p.  You might think of it as a poor man’s avocado toast but it’s delicious in its own right.  And it doesn’t involve any knives at all though does involve boiling water – I’ll leave you to do the risk assessment.

Performance enhancing porridge

Sorry, I’ve not been around for a while.  Literally – in that for three weeks I was away from North London in New Zealand running, hiking, kayaking, meeting my new nephew, trampolining with my niece and generally having fun.

And then three weeks after I came back I ran the London Marathon.

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I’ll tell you a secret: I took that photo at least an hour after I finished the race. I did not finish looking that fresh! Running is hard. That smile is probably because I was on my way to Franco Manca for a free pizza. Thanks Franco Manca!

My previous meal (if we don’t count gels or concentrated beetroot juice) had been at about 6 that morning: what I like to call my Performance Enhancing Porridge.  It’s my favourite thing to eat before a race, and certainly when I started making it last year I started getting personal best after personal best.  Maybe that’s because I’d also just trained for and run my first marathon so I was in very good shape, but maybe it was the porridge.

And did it help me in London? Well I got a 37 minute personal best so I’m very happy with that!

This is how I make it:

Performance Enhancing Porridge
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836 calories
73 g
0 g
57 g
20 g
38 g
303 g
30 g
18 g
0 g
14 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
303g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 836
Calories from Fat 475
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 57g
87%
Saturated Fat 38g
189%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 30mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 73g
24%
Dietary Fiber 12g
47%
Sugars 18g
Protein 20g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
4%
Calcium
18%
Iron
60%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 100ml organic porridge oats
  2. 200ml coconut milk
  3. 1 tablespoon chia seeds (it don't matter if they're black or white)
  4. 1 tablespoon almond butter
  5. honey or maple syrup to taste
Instructions
  1. Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, turn the heat to medium high and start stirring. I use a risotto spoon (it has a hole in the middle which helps make the risotto creamier). It cooks pretty quickly so make sure your coffee is ready to go too. Stir until just before your preferred consistency, you're going to eat it straight away but it does thicken up slightly on standing.
  2. If you have a microwave, you could put everything into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about two minutes on high. I quite like the ritual of stirring it over a stove though - especially before a race.
Notes
  1. You'll notice this porridge is dairy free. I'm trying to cut down on dairy for ethical reasons (baby cows, climate) but I still love cheese so much. I figure cutting out milk is a step in the right direction. Also, milk can cause digestive issues for some runners. The coconut milk tastes divine so it's a win/win.
  2. I use a volume measurement for the oats and milk - pick the same cup to use every time once you figure out the right amount for you. I use a cup for measuring rice but a teacup would probably work well.
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calories
836
fat
57g
protein
20g
carbs
73g
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North London Kitchen http://northlondonkitchen.com/

 

I think Recipe Card based the calorie count on coconut milk in a tin rather than the milk alternative kind, so dn’t be alarmed by the calorie count! But I do tend to save this for before a long run or race.

IMG_20170506_064419

I took this around 6am yesterday morning. I had been woken up by my smoke detector running out of batteries at 4:45am, which just happened to be the time Nike’s Breaking2 attempt started. So I decided to watch it. And I’m glad I did. When they introduced the athletes I was so impressed by Eliud Kipchoge. The guy is a Zen master of running. He didn’t break 2 hours, he did it in 2:00:25 but that’s still incredible.

So I’m going to ring off with this video about him. What an inspiration (I wonder what he eats for breakfast?).

Courgette ‘papardelle’ with asparagus, avocado salad & rocket

A few months ago I started getting a weekly bag of vegetables from Crop Drop.  I have mentioned it before here but not for a while.  The way it works is you choose a small or large bag, potatoes or no potatoes, and pick it up once a week from a drop point somewhere in Haringey.  All of the vegetables are organically grown though their smaller suppliers aren’t certified (it’s an expensive process).  Picking up from a local business is great because I can get some other local shopping done while I’m at it.  It’s a win win for the environment and the local economy.

This week’s bag contained, among other things, asparagus and courgettes.  Asparagus season in the UK starts in May and lasts about six weeks.  It’s really the only time to eat asparagus – Peruvian asparagus doesn’t taste the same and then there’s the whole food miles argument (how does Peru have such a long asparagus season anyway?).

Turning to Eat Your Books I found a recipe from a book I hadn’t used yet, Lorraine Pascale’s Fast, Fresh and Easy food: Courgette “papardelle” with asparagus, avocado salad and rocket.  The book was published in 2012 but it’s new to me – a neighbour was destashing a few months ago and I came home laden with cookbooks (that remained packed in a box until it was time to move in to my new kitchen).  I followed the recipe exactly except for using my new spiraliser to prepare the courgette.  The great thing about the book though is that the recipes don’t require any fancy kitchen equipment.

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Courgette 'papardelle' with asparagus, avocado salad & rocket
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1598 calories
155 g
17 g
95 g
57 g
17 g
1667 g
646 g
37 g
0 g
72 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1667g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1598
Calories from Fat 820
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 95g
146%
Saturated Fat 17g
85%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 11g
Monounsaturated Fat 61g
Cholesterol 17mg
6%
Sodium 646mg
27%
Total Carbohydrates 155g
52%
Dietary Fiber 48g
192%
Sugars 37g
Protein 57g
Vitamin A
82%
Vitamin C
424%
Calcium
73%
Iron
93%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 400g tin of cannellini beans
  2. 250g bunch of asparagus
  3. 3 courgettes
  4. 1 perfectly ripe avocado
  5. Olive oil
  6. 1 bag of wild rocket
  7. Small handful of fresh mint
  8. Small handful of fresh basil
  9. Handful of toasted pine nuts (about 25g) (they come ready-toasted from the supermarkets)
  10. 25g Parmesan cheese
Dressing
  1. 1 small red chilli or a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
  2. 1 lemon
  3. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  4. Couple of squidges of honey
  5. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. 1. Put the kettle on to boil.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Deseed and finely chop the chilli (if using) and add to a mug or small bowl, or simply add the dried chilli flakes. Finely grate the lemon zest in and squeeze in the juice. Add the oil and honey and season with salt and pepper. Whisk together with a fork. Next, drain and rinse the cannellini beans, toss them through the dressing and set aside.
  3. 3. Pour the now-boiled water and a big pinch of salt into a medium pan and put on a high heat to bring the water back up to the boil. Trim the ends of the asparagus where they look dried out and add to the water to cook for 4 minutes.
  4. 4. Using a peeler, take a strip of the length of a courgette to look like ‘pappardelle’. Keep going going in the same place until you have peeled away half of the courgette, then flip it over and do the same with the other side. You now don’t need the bit that is left when you’ve peeled away all you can, but you could save it for a soup or stir-fry. Repeat with the remaining courgettes.
  5. 5. Once the asparagus is just tender, remove it from the water with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold running water for a minute or so until cool. Then set aside. Now add the courgette ‘pappardelle’ to the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes.
  6. 6. Meanwhile, quarter, de-stone and peel the avocado. Cut it lengthways into 1cm-thick slices, drizzle with oil (so they don’t go brown) and set aside.
  7. 7. Once the courgettes are just tender, drain them in a colander and rinse under running water until cool. Drain well and toss a drizzle of oil through them to stop them sticking together.
  8. 8. Now to assemble. Tip the rocket onto a large serving platter. Scatter the courgette and asparagus over. Rip the leaves from the mint and basil stalks and sprinkle over the pine nuts. Give everything a little toss about with your hands and arrange the avocado on top. Spoon the cannellini beans and dressing over and then shave the Parmesan on top using the peeler and serve.
Notes
  1. Like I said, I spiralised the courgette instead of peeling it into strips - but I love Lorraine's instructions for peeling the courgette. She makes everything sound very easy!
  2. I took this for lunch two days in a row. If I get more asparagus I'll definitely make it again. I'm keen to try other recipes from the book too.
Adapted from Fast, Fresh and Easy Food
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calories
1598
fat
95g
protein
57g
carbs
155g
more
Adapted from Fast, Fresh and Easy Food
North London Kitchen http://northlondonkitchen.com/

Citrus Energy Balls

I come from New Zealand, land of the long white cloud and delicious baked goods.  There is a long tradition of what they call “slices” and we call “tray bakes”.  They have something called Tan Square which is very similar to Millionaire’s Shortbread.  Ginger Crunch is a favourite of mine, with its shortbread base and ginger caramel topping.

Playing around with the recipe for these energy balls, I realised what I had come up with reminded me of the Kiwi treat Citrus Slice, a no-bake treat made from crushed biscuits, lemon and coconut.  This version is a lot healthier though – there is no added sugar so they should release their energy a bit slower than something packed with refined sugar.  They are also gluten free.  

Of course, they are called “energy balls” for a reason – they are certainly not calorie-free!  That’s why they are small.  They are great for a boost before a workout or to help you over that 3pm slump.  As an endurance runner I have taken to eating one before I head out for a run.

Have a go yourself and let me know how you get on.  You can always experiment yourself and change up the ingredients to suit.

Citrus Slice Energy Balls
Yields 16
A sugar-free pre-run treat inspired by a Kiwi traybake classic.
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
93 calories
9 g
0 g
6 g
2 g
3 g
24 g
5 g
5 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
24g
Yields
16
Amount Per Serving
Calories 93
Calories from Fat 53
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
10%
Saturated Fat 3g
13%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 5mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 9g
3%
Dietary Fiber 1g
4%
Sugars 5g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
5%
Calcium
1%
Iron
3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 100g pitted dates
  2. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  3. 2 tbsp cashew butter
  4. 100g unsalted cashew nuts
  5. 20g coconut flour
  6. 1 lemon
  7. 20g dessicated coconut
Instructions
  1. Using a mini food processor, grind the dates to a paste.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a small saucepan. When it has melted turn the heat off and add the cashew butter. Stir until combined, then add the dates and stir again.
  3. Use the mini processor to grind the cashews. You want them quite fine but with some visible chunks still visible. Add these to the mixture along with the coconut flour. Grate the zest of the lemon and add to the mixture along with a tablespoon of lemon juice. The mixture should be quite sticky.
  4. Use a teaspoon to scoop small amounts of this paste. Scatter the dessicated coconut onto a plate, then use a teaspoon to scoop a small amount of the mixture. Roll it in your hands to form a small ball. Roll this in the dessicated coconut. Repeat until all the mixture has been used. You should have about 16. Put them into an airtight container and put them in the fridge to firm up.
  5. Eat one before your next workout!
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calories
93
fat
6g
protein
2g
carbs
9g
more
North London Kitchen http://northlondonkitchen.com/

Candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu

I have started getting a weekly bag of local(ish) vegetables from a local social enterprise called Crop Drop. I plan to write more about it later as it deserves a post of its own, but basically once a week I pick up a bag full of vegetables from my “drop point” being a local shop.

It’s a great way to make sure I am eating as seasonally and locally as possible, and stops me getting stuck in a culinary rut. The other tool I use is the website Eat Your Books. You can use the website as a database of all of the cookbooks you own and recipe websites and magazines you use. If I have a vegetable and an idea doesn’t immediately spring to mind (or if I know I have a recipe for it but don’t know which book it’s in!) I can plug the ingredient into Eat Your Books and out spits every recipe I own featuring that ingredient. It’s not perfect – I’m still waiting for one of my favourite recipe books to be indexed by the site – but it has been useful enough for me to pay the subscription. If anyone has a cheaper idea feel free to comment!

Anyway, in my Crop Drop bag a couple of weeks ago I received some chioggia beetroot, otherwise known as candy beetroot. I plugged it into Eat Your Books and out came an Ottolenghi recipe that looked very appealing – candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu from the book Plenty More
.

I got to bust out my mandoline to slice the beetroot:
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Candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu
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1603 calories
226 g
0 g
50 g
73 g
7 g
1225 g
866 g
67 g
0 g
41 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1225g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1603
Calories from Fat 439
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 50g
76%
Saturated Fat 7g
35%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 34g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 866mg
36%
Total Carbohydrates 226g
75%
Dietary Fiber 92g
369%
Sugars 67g
Protein 73g
Vitamin A
82%
Vitamin C
145%
Calcium
35%
Iron
136%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 750g candy (or other) beetroot
  2. 225g Puy lentils
  3. 1-2 tbsp yuzu juice, to taste
  4. 50ml olive oil, plus extra to finish
  5. Salt and black pepper
  6. 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  7. 2 tsp maple syrup
  8. 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  9. 40g watercress
  10. 40g baby chard leaves
  11. 1 tsp yuzu powder (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put the beetroots in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and cook on a gentle simmer for about an hour, adding boiling water as needed. To check that they are cooked, stick a knife into the largest beet: it should go in smoothly. Lift the beetroots from the water and leave to cool (they'll keep in the fridge for a day or two). Peel and halve the beetroots, and cut into wedges 1cm thick at the base.
  2. Put the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until al dente. Drain, transfer to a bowl and, while they're still hot, stir in a tablespoon each of yuzu juice and olive oil. Season and set aside to cool (the lentils can now also be kept in the fridge for a couple of days).
  3. To put the salad together, mix the remaining yuzu juice and oil into the lentils, then add the beetroot, onion, maple syrup and lemon juice. Toss gently and taste for seasoning. Transfer to a shallow bowl and dot with watercress and chard. Finish with a sprinkle of powdered yuzu, if you have it, and a drizzle of oil.
Notes
  1. Ottolenghi suggests using lime juice instead of yuzu if you can't get hold of it, but I thought it smelled more like grapefruit. I got my yuzu juice from www.souschef.co.uk and have since seen it in a good Japanese store but it is expensive so it's not available everywhere.
  2. I couldn't find baby chard leaves so I bought some mixed baby leaves instead.
Adapted from Plenty More
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calories
1603
fat
50g
protein
73g
carbs
226g
more
Adapted from Plenty More
North London Kitchen http://northlondonkitchen.com/

Leftover soft cheese smoked mackerel pâté

The other day I made a cake (Nigel Slater’s seed cake with clementine icing).  I had some cream cheese and marscapone left over from making the icing. I also happened to have some dill left over from making Nigella Lawson’s lentil, tamarind and date dhansak (the comfort food I keep going back to). Sometimes I have leftover smoked mackerel from when I’ve used up a fillet or two in a salad for a packed lunch.  It can be a bit difficult to use up small amounts of leftovers like that.  I have taken to making smoked mackerel pâté.  It uses up those pesky leftovers, and helps you get your oily fish in too!

Smoked mackerel pâté
Smoked mackerel pate using leftover ingredients
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
1463 calories
15 g
538 g
99 g
126 g
44 g
811 g
672 g
8 g
0 g
44 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
811g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1463
Calories from Fat 878
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 99g
152%
Saturated Fat 44g
218%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 15g
Monounsaturated Fat 29g
Cholesterol 538mg
179%
Sodium 672mg
28%
Total Carbohydrates 15g
5%
Dietary Fiber 2g
9%
Sugars 8g
Protein 126g
Vitamin A
51%
Vitamin C
55%
Calcium
66%
Iron
19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. Leftover soft cheese (cream cheese, marscapone, I've used Boursin successfully, whatever you have on hand)
  2. Sour cream or crème fraîche, yoghurt, or cream
  3. 2-4 fillets of smoked mackerel
  4. Lemon
  5. Horseradish
  6. Dill
  7. Black pepper
Instructions
  1. There are no hard and fast directions for this - the key is to use things up, so use what you have!
  2. Skin the mackerel and add to a food processor along with the cheese, sour cream or yoghurt, a squeeze of lemon juice, a good dollop of horseradish, some chopped dill and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Process until smooth.
Notes
  1. Here in North London every food shop has a good selection of Polish ingredients so horseradish cream is easy to come by. If you feel like being posh you could use fresh.
  2. If you like you can hold back some of the smoked mackerel and flake it in at the end for a more textured pâté.
  3. Serve on rye bread or a rice cracker for a healthy snack. Add some soup and you've got lunch.
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calories
1463
fat
99g
protein
126g
carbs
15g
more
North London Kitchen http://northlondonkitchen.com/