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Yoghurt, blueberry and oat muffins

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I went skiing with a few years ago and stayed in a chalet where the host only knew how to make one kind of cake: yoghurt. Every day he made a slightly different version. Different flavours of yoghurt, sometimes with icing, one time he even got really fancy and baked it in a Bundt pan. While I found this somewhat uninspiring to eat every day, the method for making it is pure simplicity. Basically, you use a pot of yoghurt, and then use that same pot to measure out everything else. I had a giant tub of yoghurt so I used a cup measure for this particular recipe, but a pot of any kind of yoghurt will do. There’s no butter or stiff ingredients, so you don’t even need elbow grease to make it all come together. And yes, I made it into muffins, but you don’t need to be fancy like me. I just wanted to use the muffin shape as an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. You can be extra fancy and bake it in a funny-shaped pan. I added 1 cup oats instead of 1 more cup of plain flour, but you don’t need to follow that. Change the fruit. Add cocoa powder. Ice it. Or don’t, it works great plain. This is pretty much the only baking recipe I know where you can’t go wrong. Have fun.

muffin

Ingredients:
1 cup low-fat Greek yoghurt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups caster sugar
2 cups plain flour
1 cup oats
1 tbsp baking powder (that’s 1.5 tsp (ish) per cup of flour+oats)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup blueberries

Makes 12-15 muffins
Calories: 310
Takes 5 minutes to put together, 25 minutes to bake

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan160C. Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl and it will come into a batter. Put it into whatever baking utensil you choose. Pop in the oven for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

muffins
eatingmuffin

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Vegetable pastry parcels

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This recipe is based off a dish at my favourite restaurant, Rainbow Cafe, which is in Cambridge and sells vegetarian and vegan food. They make vegan cheesecake that doesn’t taste vegan, as well as the vegetarian cheesy one, and their specials list of desserts changes EVERY DAY. To put in perspective how many times I’ve been to this cafe, they actually have a picture from my wedding in a scrapbook of regular customers. Anyway, at the Rainbow they serve this amazing pastry creation stuffed with artichoke, which is well enough, but really for a while I just wanted to know how they did it. A filo pastry parcel that looks beautiful and fragile and is stuffed with goodness. How does it stay together in the oven? The answer: so easily. Filo pastry is one of those things that looks really hard to work with until you actually do it and then you realise it was a conspiracy. This dish is easy. I changed it quite a lot, because when I made it I just really wanted to eat lots of vegetables covered in pastry and didn’t really think about protein. Next time I’d make it exactly the same, but I’d put a piece of grilled fish next to it. Or serve it as a starter and have people think I’m really fancy.

vegparcel

Ingredients:
3 sheets of filo pastry
335g cherry tomatoes
200g spinach
50g pesto (I used my own, which is lower calorie)
2 tbsp olive oil

Serves 2, easily multiplied
Calories: 415
Takes 50 minutes to make

Stage one: Preheat the oven to 190C/fan170C. Put the cherry tomatoes in a roasting tin, puncture each of them with a knife, and put them in the oven for 30 minutes. Alternatively, core, de-seed and roughly chop an equal weight of any other kind of tomato.

Stage two: Wilt the spinach by putting it in a colander and pouring boiling water over the top. Then wait for it to cool and squeeze out as much water as possible.

Stage three: When the tomatoes are roasted, give them a stir so that all the seeds squirt out of them. They’ll now form a liquid around the flesh of the tomatoes. Pour it away. Then mix in the wilted spinach and pesto, and season.

roasttomatoes

Stage four: This is the bit that can get a bit fiddly. Lay the 3 filo sheets on top of each other, and then halve them so they form 6 squares. Lay them in a kind of triangle so that half of each one overlaps in the centre, and brush with olive oil. Dollop half of the vegetable mix in the middle, and then wrap the pastry around it so that it meets at the top. You’ll find that it actually stays together really easily. Brush the outside of the case with olive oil, and then bake for 12-15 minutes.

unwrapparcel