Blackcurrant Smoothie Bowl


 

Ok. I'm doing it. I'm jumping on the Smoothie bowl train. We have been eating these for a  year or so now, I just have never gotten around to sharing the recipe! For those who are new to the idea of a smoothie bowl - it's just a slightly thicker smoothie in a bowl, with toppings. And it's the best. Not just because it's an excellent excuse to eat heaps of peanut butter, but it's an awesome way to switch up the breakfast situation if you are getting tired of a regular smoothie. Eating it out of a bowl feels so much more exciting. Maybe that's just me.  It's also a really good way of making sure you get a really good nutritious start to your day - you can load up the bowl with berries, seeds and nuts, which I find really help to keep me full. 

I like going with the same base every time for the bowl, and then switching up the toppings. For this recipe I use greek yogurt. If you were wanting to keep it vegan, sub in an extra half a banana, or use coconut yoghurt. I also tend to use homemade almond milk - you can find a recipe for it here. Feel free to also use any other milk, dairy or non-dairy (almond is just what I have on hand most often).

Top this with whatever you would like! I generally top it with lines of coconut, chia, hemp seeds and cacao, and then add in some peanut butter. It is also amazing with granola. For this bowl, I used small cookie cutters to cut out shapes from fruit, which would be perfect for kids (or adults!).

This smoothie bowl in particular is jazzed up with something a little special! I have used Sujon Blackcurrant powder as a little addition. Sujon is a family-run company from my hometown back in New Zealand. Not only is it run by a lovely family, they have some incredible products. I worked there during the summer of my University holidays, packing frozen fruit, and blast freezing boysenberries and blackcurrants during the season.

I have been using this powder myself for a few years now, and I love it. It is made by freeze-drying and crushing blackcurrants. Approximately 7kg of berries go into producing 1kg of the powder, which means that all the beneficial properties (antioxidants, flavonoids, all those good things) of blackcurrants are hugely concentrated. It also does AMAZING things for muscle recovery. A teaspoon of powder, either in a smoothie or smoothie bowl, or just stirred into a glass of water, helps hugely with muscle repair and recovery, and the removal of lactic acid via vasodilation of blood cells. And it works. There has been a huge amount of research done on blackcurrants as the next superfood. If you want some hard science, you can check it here and here! I can tell you from personal experience - this stuff is the best. AND they ship internationally for free! Trust me on this one. You want to try this. 

And so, I would love to share it with you! Sujon is very generously giving away two prize packs - each consisting of a 180g package of powder, and a container of blackcurrant powder capsules, which are a newer product, perfect for those who prefer to take things in pill form. All you have to do is make sure that you are following both myself and Sujon on Instagram, and then leave a comment below telling me your favourite smoothie flavours! Make sure you mention your instagram name in the comment too. Competition is open worldwide, and closes at midnight on Sunday the 9th of April, at midnight Eastern Standard Time. 

 

 

Blackcurrant Smoothie Bowl
- Serves 2 - 


2 Frozen Bananas
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup (120ml) greek yoghurt
2 Tbsp Sujon Blackcurrant powder
1/2 cup (120ml) almond milk
Your choice of toppings - I like chia seed, hemp hearts, cacao nibs, coconut, and peanut butter, but feel free to add whatever you like!


- PROCESS -

Add all of the ingredients, except the toppings, to a high-powered blender. Blend on low, stopping and scraping down the sides as necessary, or using the tamper of your blender if possible. Once the smoothie has begun to combine, increase the speed to medium high, and blend until smooth. 

Divide the smoothie between serving bowls, and top with desired toppings. Serve immediately. 

Thank you so much to Sujon Berries for providing the powder used in this recipe! All opinions are my own. 

Truffle Spaghetti


 

Our exciting news for the week - we got a fresh truffle! I decided to splash out and buy one, just to have a play around with! We had amazing memories of this one spaghetti dish we ate during a tasting menu for my birthday dinner at Recette in West Village. It was NEXT LEVEL. The dish consisted of a super simple spaghetti, in a light sauce. The show stopper though was when the waitress came out with a fresh truffle and a shaver, and proceeded to drown each of our plates in layers of fresh black truffle. It was hands down one of the best dishes I have ever eaten. We vowed to try and go back and have the same dish again, but each time we returned, it was either out of season, or they weren't serving it that evening.

 The restaurant has since closed down, so seeing as we weren't able to go back and have it in real life, this was the next best option!  While ordering a truffle isn't something I am going to do on the regular, this was a huge treat to do just once! 

The trick to making this dish amazing is to use freshly cooked spaghetti, and high quality ingredients. There aren't many ingredients in the dish, so you need to make sure that each one is amazing on it's own to ensure that each element shines in the dish. If you don't have a pasta maker, you can buy fresh spaghetti from the supermarket, or use a high quality dried version. I use my food processor to make the pasta dough, as it is a quick and easy way to bring it together. I then use a pasta attachment on my kitchenaid mixer. 

If you haven't made fresh pasta before, I highly suggest you give it a try! It is super simple, far less intimidating than it looks, and a real crowd pleaser. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes something that is super easy to throw together with ingredients you most likely already have on hand (eggs and flour!). I am almost willing to bet that I could make a dough, roll it out, and cut pasta in less time than it would take me to walk to the shop and buy a boxed version. The dough is extremely versatile, and can be used for everything from lasagne to bow-ties. That being said, I can never go past a super simple lunch made with dried spaghetti. All the carbs. All the time. Can't go wrong.

What helps to keep it simple is the 'secret' ingredient - the cooking water from the pasta. As the spaghetti cooks, the cooking water becomes starchy, which means that it is the perfect ingredient to help emulsify a sauce, and to act as a medium on which a sauce can be based on. Pasta water is super under-rated - I always add it to the pan if I am combining the pasta with the sauce directly on the element, as it helps to bind everything together beautifully. I often throw together a quick dinner of pasta, tossed with some pasta water, good quality cheese, and whatever vegetables we have in the fridge that need using up. For this particular recipe, I added a little white wine to the sauce to help add a little depth of flavour. If you don't have any on hand, then you can simply omit it. 

If you don't have truffle (Let's be real here, nobody is ever going to have a fresh truffle kicking around in their fridge), this dish is also incredible finished with some chilli flakes and fresh lemon zest, or any other flavours you may like to add to it. Jazz it up however you like! I promise you will love it.

 

 

Truffle Spaghetti
- Serves 3-4 -

Spaghetti
2 cups (290g) All-purpose flour
3 large eggs
water to bind

Spaghetti 'Sauce'
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup (240ml) spaghetti cooking water, divided
1/4 cup (60ml) white wine
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup (150g) freshly grated, good quality parmesan cheese (such as parmigiano reggiano) 
Freshly shaved truffle, to taste (optional, sub in chilli flakes and lemon zest, or any finishing flavour of your choice)

 

- PROCESS -

SPAGHETTI

In the work bowl of a food processor, place the flour and eggs. Pulse until incorporated - it should resemble chunky cous cous, and should hold together when you pinch some between your fingers. If it is a little dry, add water a teaspoon at a time and pulse to combine. Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap, and press together into a large disc. Rest at room temperature for 30 mins to an hour. 

Divide the dough into five or six pieces. Working with one piece at a time, and keeping the others well covered, run the dough through the rollers of a pasta machine on the widest setting. Pass it through the rollers on the widest setting 4 or 5 times, folding it up between each pass to help develop the dough. Once you have given it several passes on the widest setting, begin decreasing the width of the rollers with each pass. You do not need to fold the dough on the thinner width passes. Continue rolling, decreasing the width, until you are on about the fourth or fifth widest setting of your pasta machine (for me this is a number four or five, but I know that some pasta machines count in the opposite direction). 

Switch to the spaghetti cutting attachment on your pasta machine. Pass the dough through carefully, catching the noodles that come out of the machine. Arrange on a pasta drying rack. 

Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, until it is all cut into noodles. 

COOKING THE SPAGHETTI AND SAUCE

Fill a large pot with water, add 2 Tbsp salt, and bring to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, have a large skillet on another element ready to prepare the sauce and toss the cooked spaghetti. 

Add the spaghetti to the salted water, and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until al dente. (If you are using dried pasta, follow the cooking instructions). 

While the spaghetti is cooking, melt the butter in the large skillet over a high heat. Add a few grinds of pepper. Once the spaghetti has been cooking for at least two minutes (to allow the water to become starchy), add half a cup of the cooking water to the skillet, along with the white wine. Bring to a boil, and stir until it emulsifies, approximately 2 minutes. Continue to stir while the spaghetti finishes cooking. 

Once the spaghetti is al dente, transfer it to the skillet using tongs. Lower the heat to medium low. Add the cheese, and toss well with the tongs to combine. Add another half a cup of cooking water, and toss again, until the spaghetti is well coated in sauce, approximately one minute. 

Place in serving bowls, and garnish with the freshly shaved truffle. Serve immediately. 

 

Blood Orange chess pie


 

Far out. I am SO ready for spring. So, so done with this winter business. AND I'm totally being an ungrateful bastard, because we bailed back to NZ for the month of February, so we don't really have anything to complain about seeing as we weren't even here for a month of winter. But STILL. I can't wait for our CSA to start, and for there to be more fruit than just last year's apples, (Rhubarb!?!), and the start of fresh berry season, and just for my eyeballs to stop feeling like they are going to freeze. 

The only good thing about this winter sticking around situation (apart from not having a sweat moustache on the subway), is the citrus! I was kind of worried that I had missed blood orange season while we were away, but I was so stoked to come back and see that they were still here! I love the colour of them, and the amazing flavour that they lend to whatever you put them in. 

I had been eyeing up the lemon chess pie in the Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie book for a while (best book ever BTW), especially after the lovely Tessa made such a pretty version! I had some blood oranges that needed using, so I subbed the lemon juice in the custard for blood orange. It came out the most amazing pink colour! I was a little nervous baking it, as it was my first chess pie, but I made sure to watch it super carefully in the oven to make sure that it didn't overcook and cause the custard to split. The top of the pie went a nice golden brown colour, and underneath there was the pretty pink custard, which was lightly flavoured with the orange. So so good, and such a nice change from the double lattice pies I am used to falling back on. 

The crust for this pie is par-baked before the filling is added in. I followed Tessa's tip and added a braid after the par-bake, but before the filling. I went for my usual trick and ran the dough through the pasta attachment on my kitchen aid, before doing a five-strand fishtail braid. I managed to get long enough pieces that I could do the braid all in one go, but I had to enlist the help of Rich to give me a bit of a hand! We made sure to calculate the circumference of the pie tin before we began, to make sure that we had enough braid to go the whole way around. 

If you want to keep this as a lemon pie, just sub the blood orange juice for lemon! Easy as. 

 

 

Blood Orange Chess Pie
- Makes one 9 inch Pie -

Adapted from "Four and Twenty Blackbirds"

Pie Dough
1 1/4 cups (180g) Flour
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp (4g) sugar
1 stick (113g) cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup (220ml) cold water
1 cup ice
2 Tbsp (30ml) Apple cider vinegar

Egg wash
1 egg white
1 tsp water

Filling
Zest of 2 Blood oranges
1 2/3 cups (320g) sugar
1 Tbsp finely ground cornmeal
1 Tbsp flour
5 Tbsp (75g) melted unsalted butter
5 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup (160ml) cream
10 Tbsp (150ml) freshly squeezed blood orange juice
 

 

- PROCESS -

PIE DOUGH

Place flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or  your fingers,  cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.

Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 4-5 tbsp) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll disc into a circle a few inches larger than your pie dish. You want it to be approximately 1/8 inch (3mm) in thickness. Line the pie dish, leaving the extra dough overhanging. Trim the dough so the dough is flush with the edge of your dish. Wrap the remaining pastry tightly in plastic wrap and place into the fridge for the braid. Refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes, until the crust has set firm. Prick all over the surface of the crust, and then place the pie dish in the freezer for 20 minutes to allow the crust to freeze. 

Preheat the oven to 425˚f / 220˚c. Place a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Prepare a wash for the dough by whisking an egg white with 1 tsp of water. 

Line the crust with tin foil, ensuring that it overlaps the sides, and is tightly folded down to ensure no gaps. Fill the lined crust with either ceramic pie weights or dried beans. These will help prevent the crust from shrinking. Place on the preheated baking sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it is starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven, remove the foil and pie weights, and, using a pastry brush, brush the surface of the crust with the prepared egg white mixture. Place back in the oven for 3-4 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack. 

FILLING AND BAKING

Preheat the oven to 325˚f / 160˚c.

Use the remaining pie dough to form a five-strand fishtail braid. Roll out your pie dough into a long skinny rectangle, and using a ruler or sharp pastry wheel, cut into strips of even thickness. Braid together. You may need to do two braids to reach the entire way around the pie dish. Stick the braid to the edge of the pie crust using the remaining egg white wash. Brush the surface of the braid with more of the egg white.

Sift together the flour, cornmeal, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and stir with a whisk to combine. Add the melted butter and the eggs, and mix well to combine until thick. Add the cream, and mix well. Pour in the orange juice, and whisk well until homogenous. 

Set a sieve over another large bowl or pyrex jug. Strain the filling mixture through the sieve. 

Place the par-baked pie crust onto a baking sheet, and pour the strained filling into the pie crust. Very carefully transfer the baking sheet with the pie on it into the oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes, checking frequently, and turning 180˚ once the custard is beginning to set on the outside edges (approx 30 minutes through). Once the pie is cooked, the surface will be lightly golden, the edges of the pie set, and the centre still a little wobbly, but not runny liquid. It will continue to firm up as it cools.

Remove from the oven, and place on a wire rack to cool. Cool for at least 4 hours before serving.