Autumn spiced squash and apple muffins

Autumn spiced squash and apple muffins

I’ve taken the much loved U.S ‘pumpkin spice’ and used it with some more commonly found ingredients in the U.K. I love the scent of mixed spice and use it a lot in both savoury and sweet cooking, it’s definitely one of my store cupboard staples. There are pumpkins in the supermarket right now but they won’t be there past Halloween so I’ve used the humble butternut in this recipe as it can always be found in the veggie section. I’m a sucker for using veggies in my baking, not only because I love that the kids don’t even question why they are there, it’s a cake after all, but also because they make my baking beautifully moist and give a good texture. These are a one bowl wonder so why not measure it all out and let the kids do the elbow work!

You’ll see that I iced half my muffins and kept half back without icing. This is because my boys have these for breakfast, lovely as the icing is it’s not really right for breakfast unless we’re having a holiday treat. With so little sugar in these (without the icing) they are a great, healthier alternative for breakfast or an after school snack. 

I’ve realised that this is a great base for lots of different fruit and veg if you want to make muffins or a loaf and will be trialling it with loads of other ingredients. I’ll let you know when ‘Kate’s base’ has been thoroughly tested and what other ingredients I’ve managed to successfully hide in there!

Gluten free version tip

I use a mix of wholemeal flour, ground almonds and oat bran in my own muffins but if you are gluten intolerant then rice flour, almonds and millet flakes will work equally well, you will just need 2 more tablespoons of milk as these are much more absorbent and will require more liquid.

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Autumn spiced butternut squash and apple muffins recipe

Makes 12 muffins or one large loaf

Ingredients

300g grated butternut squash

100g grated cooking apple

100g ground almonds

100g oatbran or millet flakes

100g wholemeal flour or plain

50g sugar (I honestly would knock this back further, but try a batch first and see what you think. I now make this without any at all)

1 tsp baking powder (gluten free is available)

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 serving spoons coconut oil or butter – melted

2 tsp mixed spice (I do use 3/4 myself but I like them super spicy!)

4 eggs

4 tablespoons milk

Zest of one satsuma/clementine or small orange

Icing

1 tub cream cheese

The insides of your zested satsuma/clementine or small orange

Icing sugar, add enough for your own taste – I used x 2 Tablespoons

Method

Preheat your oven to 180/350/Gas mark 4

Here’s the good bit! Put everything into a large mixing bowl and stir, or even better get a small helper to do it for you!

Once combined you’ll have a stiff batter, if it is not of a dropping consistency then add a tablespoon of milk at a time until it is right (this will depend on the flours you use).

Use a serving spoon to drop the mix into your muffin cases. Fill each case until it’s level on top.

Bake for 20/25 mins until golden on top. Remove from the muffin tin and cool on a baking rack.

If you are icing them then you’ll need a medium sized bowl, add your cream cheese and icing sugar. Then squeeze the citrus fruit hard into the mixture, don’t worry about getting a few bits of flesh into the icing, this will look lovely and only add to it.

Stir until fully combined and set aside until the muffins/loaf have completely cooled.

 

Ice once cooled.

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What’s world mental health day got to do with me?

What’s world mental health day got to do with me?

Mental health has been in the spotlight recently but I still hear people say, ‘what’s world mental health day got to do with me?’. It’s a good question, but honestly if you think you’ve never been affected by mental health issues then you’ve been living in a bubble and it’s time to pop it. We will all have a friend, a colleague or a member of our family who’s dealing with mental health concerns, whether we realise it or not. Some people, me included, are exceptionally good at hiding their mental health worries and it’s these people that we need to look out for in particular.

Kate's Table - world mental health day

Hiding my mental health issues felt normal when I was in my twenties. I worked a stressful job, had just come out of a long term relationship, moved home from another continent and things just didn’t feel ‘right’. I felt ‘off’ all the time, exercise, yoga and fresh air helped for sure but in the back of my head was still this feeling that I wasn’t living the life I wanted to. I became adept at ensuring that no one would ever realise that I wasn’t coping, booze definitely made me able to cope in a social situation but that quickly got out of hand as I needed more and more to cope. My panic attacks happened quietly in the gym changing rooms at work, if the stress and anxiety  got too much I’d take a day off, creating some easy to explain illness while in reality I was just under the duvet just trying to cope with existing. I went on like this for a good 10yrs and I suspect that anyone who knew me at that time would say that I was a pretty sorted person, I looked like I had it all under control. Things did change for me, I fell pregnant after trying for a very, very long time, I got married to the man that totally ‘got’ me, chilled out about work as what was happening at home became more and more important and I started to see my way out of the fog.

 

My point is that if someone had reached out to me during those tough years I might not have felt so alone, but nearly 20 yrs ago we just didn’t talk about those kind of things, at least no one I knew did. Today with a spotlight on mental health from organisations like Heads Together, The Mental Health Organisation and The Samaritans we are becoming more aware. Being aware can be as simple as going for coffee and a natter with a friend or colleague, asking them how they are and actually listening, or you could just need to get someone out and about.

Kate's Table - World Mental Health Day

I have a dear friend with agoraphobia and she just needs someone to make her go out sometimes and support her while she does. It’s no different to what we’d normally get up to but I’m mindful that busy places with lots of people can be overwhelming for her so we try and keep it simple, going to familiar places and not pushing her outside of her comfort zone. I’m also aware that stress in the workplace makes us all less efficient and able to work to the best of our abilities, affecting everyone that we work with. I have a client I work with who had managed to get to his late 40’s before anxiety hit him like a hammer as he began to feel the weight of responsibility from owning his own company and employing lots of people. He now runs ‘free time’ sessions for his team, encouraging them to spend an afternoon a quarter just reconnecting with one another, no work talk is allowed. He’s shaped those sessions to make sure that everyone gets heard, no one feels left out or like there is a spotlight being shone on them and them alone. It’s a simple strategy but has improved employee relationships immeasurably.

I recently shared an article on my Facebook page to remind friends and family that my door is always open, I’ve got teabags, cakes and a listening ear. Having learnt to live with and manage my own mental health issues I understand how sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference so if you still need to ask yourself what mental health day has got to do with you, read this again and again until you understand that it’s just being part of a community, being a friend, being a colleague, being a brother, sister, mother or father, just talking, that’s all it is, it isn’t scary, it’s real life, life outside of the bubble.

Happy world mental health day and I mean happy, be the sun behind someone else’s cloud today.

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Autumn veg lentil stew with shredded chicken and sauteed chard

Continuing on from my Autumn/Fall drive to eat seasonally I’ve plundered my plot for some of the veggies for this dish. It’s so lovely to still be picking at this time of year and shows that with a little planning your plot can work for you throughout the winter. Mr Kate’s Table planting guide is coming soon.

I love to prep a big pile of diced veggies to add to any of my dishes during the week but I wanted to make the point that this isn’t the only way to prep. Many of us don’t have the time or inclination to chop lots of veggies and that’s when your food processor can come in handy. I use the mini processor attachment of my Bamix all the time to shred, grate and chop, it is the most used bit of kit in my small kitchen. In this recipe I grated my veggies in here to make life easier.

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Autumn veg lentil stew with shredded chicken and sauteed chard

This dish would make a great ‘meat free Monday’ meal too, just leave out the shredded Chicken and maybe roast in the oven a lovely big Portobello mushroom drizzled with a little olive oil and crush some garlic to pop inside, 20mins at a medium heat. Alternatively to turn them into something more luxurious add a glass of red wine and a handful of bacon lardons and serve with some Toulouse sausages. I love having leftovers of these lentils, they reheat well and make a great lunch to take to work or to make one of the suppers above.

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Serves 4 with lentil leftovers for at least x 2 lunches/suppers

Ingredients – Lentils

1 Red onion

2 medium/large carrots

2 medium/large parsnips

2 cloves garlic – crushed

Parsley

400g lentils

1 serving spoon tomato puree

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 Chicken/vegetable stock cube

1 small bunch parsley, 1 sprig rosemary

Ingredients – Chicken and chard

500g Chicken thighs

1 sprig rosemary and 3 cloves of garlic

Large handful of chard/kale leaves sliced thinly, use the stalks

Method

Pre-heat your oven to 180/350. Crush your garlic cloves with the back of your knife, leaving the skin on. Pop your chicken thighs into a small roasting tin and nestle your rosemary and garlic cloves in between them. Roast in the oven for 25mins whilst you complete the steps below.

Slice your washed chard/kale leaves thinly and set aside.

Peel or wash your veggies, parsnip, carrot and onion. Chop these into large chunks for grating or chopping in your food processor. Chop your onion first and set aside, the carrot and parsnip can be done together.

Add your olive oil to a large heavy bottomed pan/wok with a lid, heat the oil over a medium heat and add your chopped red onion. Stir until beginning to soften and then add your grated veggies.

Once your veggies have softened, this will take about 4 mins, add your lentils, tomatoes, stock cube, herbs and tomato puree. Reduce your heat to a low simmer and pop a lid on your pan and leave to cook for approx 30mins. Your lentils should not need additional liquid but if they are cooking fast then add ½ cup of hot water to the mix.

Your lentils should be tender but still maintain their shape, nothing worse than a soggy lentil!! Once you are happy with the texture of your lentils replace the lid of the pan and set aside on a very low heat.

Remove your chicken thighs from the oven and shred between two forks on a chopping board. Set aside. Remove your garlic cloves and set aside. Leave the chicken juices in the roasting tin.

Pour your chicken juices into a heavy bottomed pan/wok on a high heat (if your chicken hasn’t thrown off at least a tablespoon of juices then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil). Once the juices heated add your chard/kale and squeeze your garlic cloves into the mix too.

Once these have wilted add your chicken and just stir through, add salt and pepper to taste and serve on a bed of warm lentils.

Pork, cider and Autumn veg lasagne

Sunday and the small one and I decided to swerve rugby, both of us have colds and are feeling less than sparkly. Off we went to kick up the fallen leaves at Polesden Lacey. Small one has his ‘show and tell’ next week so we took a box and filled it to the brim with all sorts of Autumnal treasures, conkers, chestnuts, poppies, seed heads and much, much more. The sunshine was welcome and we headed for home with the sunroof open, what a treat!

On the way home I was contemplating what we should have for Sunday supper and full of Autumn inspiration we made a little detour for cider and a swede (I know how to have fun!). One of my favourite dishes is pork chops tray baked with apples but not a chop to be found on our detour. However they did have some super free-range pork mince that inspired me to make this gorgeously rich and tasty treat of a supper.

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Pork, cider and Autumn veg lasagne

Pork mince, carrots, swede, parsnip bubbling away with cider, rosemary and thyme made for a heady scent in my kitchen. This is a rich dish and makes for a great treat, however there will be enough ragu leftover for at least one more supper once you’ve made your lasagne. The leftover ragu I’ll simmer away with a little tomato passata for the boys to have with spaghetti tonight, who doesn’t love an easy Monday night supper?
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I love to see your pics, share here if you make this

 

 

Serves: 6/8 with plenty of leftover ragu to freeze or use later in the week

Ingredients – Ragu

1kg pork mince

2 brown onions

1/2 swede

3 medium/large carrots

1 large parsnip

3 cloves garlic – sliced

1 organic chicken stock cube

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

4 slices streaky smoked bacon

500ml cider

80g ground almonds

1 tablespoon olive oil

200g pasta sheets

250g ricotta cheese

1 large sprig fresh rosemary. 4 sprigs of fresh thyme – remove stalks  & 1 bay leaf

Ingredients – White sauce

30g butter

500ml organic milk

45g plain flour (I use gluten free but that’s personal preference)

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

50g parmesan cheese

Method

There are a lot of veggies to dice up for this dish, if the kitchen is your happy place then by all means hand chop them all, however when I’m after speed and ease I’d chop them in my Bamix or food processor.

Peel your veggies. Dice or use the processor to prepare the onion, garlic, carrots, parsnips and swede. Pre-heat your oven to 180 °/375/Gas 5.

Heat your olive oil in a hot, heavy bottomed pan or wok and add your veggie mix (sofrito), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. While your veggies soften diced your bacon and add this to the sofrito. Once this mix has softened and your bacon is no longer translucent add your pork mince, breaking it apart with the back of the spoon to prevent big lumps forming.

The pork mince will need moving around the pan constantly to ensure that it cooks evenly. Once the mince has all changed colour add the leaves of your herbs, the chicken stock cube and dijon mustard.

Once these ingredients are stirred through you can add all of the cider and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Simmer for 30 mins on a low/medium heat, if you feel it needs more liquid add a 1/4 cup of water at most. Once simmered add your ground almonds, stir through and allow to simmer on a low heat for 10 mins while you make the white sauce.

Place a large saucepan on a medium heat and add the butter. Once melted add the flour and use a wooden spoon to mix together well. Stir continuously and once combined add the milk a splash at a time until it starts to thicken. Add your spices and stir thoroughly. You may not need all of the milk, it depends on which type of flour you use. Stop adding milk once the consistency is that it will not drip off the back of your wooden spoon. Remove from the heat.

Finely grate the parmesan cheese and stir into the white sauce.

Ladle one third of your ragu into an oven proof dish 20 x 25 approx, spreading it out to an even layer. Add one third of your ricotta cheese dotted on top. Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat twice and top with the white sauce.

Bake in the oven for 40 mins or until browned on top and the pasta is soft enough to cut through with ease (cover with foil if the top is browning too fast). Allow to cool for 10 mins, it gets pretty nuclear! Serve with a soft green salad or some steamed tenderstem broccoli.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beef and Autumn veg stew

Kate's Table - Beef and Autumn veg stew

Kate's Table - Beef and Autumn veg stewHave you noticed how very suddenly we have ‘fallen’ into Autumn this year? I feel like one minute I was watching the boys play cricket in grass stained whites and all of sudden it’s all about rugby and muddy boots. Leaves crunching underfoot in September feels a little early but here at Kate’s Table I’m embracing the Autumn. After a busy Summer I feel more than ready for some hibernation and hygge, the candles are lit, the blankets are handy for snuggling up again and I’m seeking out Autumn fruit and vegetables. See my blog post tomorrow on buying seasonal fruit and veg for some inspiration on what to buy this month.

Beef and Autumn veg stew

This is a super warming dish that can sit on your hob or in your oven to keep the kitchen warm and make the house smell delicious! I was inspired by Mr Kate’s Table’s parsnip crop this year, he pulled up some epic parsnips that demanded to be cooked immediately, He’s also a bit of an amatuer brewer and made an really authentic Milk Stout last year that found its way from cellar to kitchen for this recipe.

Kate's Table - Beef and Autumn veg stew

 

 

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Ingredients

800G diced beef braising steak

2 brown onions

4 large carrots

3 large parsnips

1 organic beef stock cube

3 teaspoons dijon mustard

1 dessertspoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons plain flour (or gluten free flour)

500ml stout (milk stout or guinness)

2 bay leaves & 2 tbsp dried mixed herbs

Method

This is super simple and requires very little intervention, prep and start cooking in the morning and eat later in the day.

Slice your onions, peel and chop your veg into chunks and set aside.

Combine the flour and mixed herbs in a large mixing bowl. Toss your raw diced beef into the flour and herb mixture and thoroughly coat the beef with the flour.

In a large, heavy based saucepan or casserole heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium/high heat (you may need more so keep it to hand).

Place a small handful of beef into the pan, move around the pan until each piece is browned and drain in a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. If you feel you need more oil then add a tablespoon at a time, don’t be afraid of the stickiness that will be at the bottom of the pan, you’ll be using this later. Repeat until all your beef is browned and in the bowl.

Turn your hob down to a medium heat. Add enough water to cover the base of your pan/casserole and scrape all the lovely beefy flavour off the bottom of the pan. Once this is combined add your sliced onion and stir for a few moment until it starts to soften.

Next add your beef, stout (keep 100ml to one side in case you need to add more liquid), bay leaves, red wine vinegar, stock cube, mustard and all the veg. Once these are stirred in turn your hob down as low as it will go or pop into a low oven of 100 degrees celsius.

Now comes the good bit, walk away (don’t whatever you do taste it as it’s not wonderfully tasty until the alchemy of the stout and beef have done their thing!). Walk away for at least 1 1/2 hrs, give it a stir if you can’t resist and leave it again. Add the rest of your stout if you check it at any time and think it needs more liquid.

I’m not going to give you an exact time, some of us like to have the beef falling apart and others like to still have some chew. Mine cooked for 4hrs on the lowest setting on my hob and the beef was starting to fall apart nicely. You need to make sure it has at least 3hrs but you could easily turn it off and say come back to turn it on for 30mins later in the day to warm it through.

I like to serve this with a mustardy cauliflower mash and garlic stir fried greens like kale or chard. My boys love it with roast potatoes!