Tag Archives: sirt food

Apple and blueberry buckwheat cake and a mouse in the house

appleandpearcake

The New Year brought an uninvited house guest: A mouse. At least I think he was uninvited. Maybe one of the dogs coaxed him in to annoy me. Not that I really have anything against him, in fact he’s quite sweet. But I admit I was rather taken aback this morning when I found him trying to chew his way through the top of my multivitamins. I tried to persuade him to leave, but he tilted his head to one side and looked at me quizzically as if to say ‘and your problem with me necking your vitamins is?’. I appealed to the dogs for some backup, but Hugo just sighed loudly and gave me a slightly contemptuous look that definitely said ‘wha’ever’. And Java, bless her, did her funny cross-eyed thing because the mouse is so small that I suspect she could hardly see it. In the meantime, the little rascal is making impressive headway through my vitamins and I’m afraid he’s going to end up the size of a small cat. Still, at least if he does Java will finally see him and perhaps spring into action…

There is quite a lot in the news at the moment about the ‘Sirt Food Diet’. I don’t usually pay much attention to the multitude of faddy diet books that appears on a regular basis, but this one makes some sense, even to me. I particularly like that its main objective is healthy eating and that weight loss is just a by-product of that. And I know that it is effective because I’ve been eating these foods for a number of years (before it even had a name!). The Sirt Food diet is so-called because it involves consuming foods containing compounds known as sirtuin activators, which cause body fat to be burned and muscle mass to develop (what’s not to like?). Eating these foods increases metabolism and strengthens the immune system. Sirtuin activators include buckwheat, apples, onions, almonds, walnuts, citrus fruits, chocolate, red wine, turmeric and blueberries, which frankly makes this cake a Sirt Food dieter’s dream!

Ingredients (serves 8)

For the topping:

3 apples, peeled and cut into slices

75g  blueberries

25g salted butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

For the cake:

75g butter, cut into cubes

75g organic virgin coconut oil, cut into cubes

100g cane sugar

2 large free-range eggs, beaten

75g buckwheat flour

75g ground almonds

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Caramelise the apples in a little water, adding the butter and maple syrup once softened. Add the blueberries last . Set aside. Place the sugar, butter and coconut oil into a mixing bowl and cream until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, adding a bit of flour if the mixture begins to curdle. Continue to beat the mixture until fluffy. Fold in the remaining flour, ground almonds, baking powder and cinnamon.

Transfer the apple and blueberry mixture into the bottom of a greased bundt cake mould (I use a silicon one), levelling well with the back of a spoon. Then pour the cake mixture over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool. Delicious served with Greek yoghurt.

Buckwheat galettes every which way

galette2

The crêperie concept has been around since the fifteenth century in France, when stalls serving savoury galettes and later sweet crêpes first appeared around marketplaces. There was a choice of filling such as eggs, bacon and cheese for the savoury galettes and afterwards sweet crêpes were offered flavoured with cinnamon and orange water.

When I first arrived in France at the end of the ’80s every town had a least one, and usually several, Breton-style crêperies. They were always fun, bustling and offered an accessible, deliciously light but satisfying meal out for everyone; a galette washed down with bowl of cider was the French answer to fast food. Today, although creperies still exist, there are far fewer than before, many having been replaced by the ubiquitous, stomach-churning, fast food chains selling unidentified deep-fried ground organs between slabs of polystyrene. Despite their culinary heritage, many of the French have become addicted to the ‘fix’ provided by these eateries.

Galettes are made with buckwheat flour, a very healthy gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. Despite its name, buckwheat is not a type of wheat at all, but a plant closely related to rhubarb and is rich in amino acids, B vitamins and minerals, including iron.

There are many different variations on the recipe, sometimes according to which region of France you are in, but after trial and error this is the one I prefer. Galettes are so versatile they can be adapted for breakfast, lunch of dinner. You can fill them with ham, different types of cheese, bacon, sausage, egg, scallops, smoked salmon, mushrooms or make them raclette-style with potato, ham and cheese. The list is endless. We sometimes have them with a different filling after a bowl of soup as an evening meal several days in a row with no complaints from humans or hounds. And that’s saying something.

Ingredients (makes 12 galettes)

250g buckwheat flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

a pinch of salt

2 eggs

500ml cold water

Butter for cooking

Put the eggs and dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk well. Add the water gradually, whisking continuously until you obtain a homogenous mixture. Melt a small amount of butter in a frying pan (preferably a ‘crepe’ pan) and then ladle some batter onto the hot surface, tilting the pan to distribute evenly. Cook for until golden brown and turn. If you are adding a filling such as ham and cheese, now is the time to add it onto one side of the galette. Cook until the cheese is melted and then fold the galette in two. Serve immediately.

Savoury buckwheat muffins (gf) and a dog in a whirl

buckwheatmuffins

Have you ever seen a dog spin like a top? No, nor had I. Over the past 20 years or so I have become well accustomed to the Labrador brand of madness; eternally immature, beyond boisterous and absolutely fanatical chewers. But nothing had prepared me for the particular brand of madness that belongs to the young English Setter. I once read that although intelligent, English Setters are not easy to train as they’re easily distracted and exceedingly wilful. Well there’s an understatement if ever I heard one. In addition, they are very sensitive and do not take well to criticism or to be being told off (who does?). I’ve witnessed some lunacy over the years, but Java took the biscuit yesterday. She got her foot caught in her collar, which resulted in her spinning round and round very rapidly on three legs. Just watching her made me feel dizzy, but I managed to slow her down enough to free her foot and she collapsed to the floor with her eyes askew and glazed over as if she’d just necked a couple of generous measures of absinthe.

javatable

Sleeping it off

These muffins combine the toasty nuttiness of buckwheat flour, the warm earthiness of cumin seeds and the saltiness of melted cheese. Just what you need when you’ve been abusing the absinthe.

Ingredients (makes 8-10 muffins)

2 eggs

150ml olive oil

150g buckwheat flour

50g polenta

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cumin grains

150g courgettes, peeled and grated

2  shallots, peeled and chopped

150g comté cheese, cut into very small cubes

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Break the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the olive oil and then beat well. Mix the dry ingredients together (flour, polenta, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and seasoning) and combine with the egg/oil mixture. Stir in the remaining ingredients and then transfer to a muffin tin, filling each mould almost to the top. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Best served warm.