Clementine Cake – a Dairy and Wheat Free Seasonal Delight!

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Turn a few ingredients into a simple and delicious cake or dessert.

I included a version of this recipe in my first book, Focus on Flavour. It is a great way of using eggs and at this time of year, when there is an abundance of clementines (or satsumas or tangerines), it makes a great treat, with the added bonus of having no flour or added fat and being relatively low in sugar. So it is excellent for anyone looking for a wheat / gluten and dairy free cake or dessert.

I first heard of this from Claudia Roden and later came across it on Nigella.com.

I have reduced the sugar significantly, it really does not need to be particularly sweet, let the flavour and sweetness of the fruit shine through!

_MG_9021 If you cut the cake into 12 slices, it comes to less than 180 calories a piece.  We will have it with some lovely thick greek yogurt, or a scoop of chocolate sorbet, as a dessert. A small sliver would go very well with a cup of espresso if you have guests to please….

I plan to freeze half of it.

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Best possible start to your 5:2 journey….

Thousands of people like me have successfully taken up 5:2 Intermittent Fasting and succeeded in reaching a healthy weight, improving their health and reducing their risk of life shortening diseases.

But what if you are a little intimidated by the idea and not sure how best to get started?

Unlike other weight loss and diet programs, up to now 5:2 has been very much a thing for self-starters and there are a various websites, blogs, Facebook groups and forums where those following this way of eating have been discussing it and sharing their hints and tips. There is a lot of information and support, but it can be bewildering and confusing, especially if you are not accustomed to using social media.

Maybe you haven’t started yet or are ready to re-start after a lapse?

Now the people over at the FastDay forum have launched an exciting new online program designed to give you the best possible start and give you the resources that you need to help you succeed.

FastStart Program6 week FastStart program, beginning on January 15th

I observed the trial that was run before Christmas and was very impressed by the well-organised material and the resources made available to the participants.

If you would like to know more, pop on over to the FastDay site and visit The FastStart Program where you can read about it and reserve a place.

Tangle Pie – a lighter way to top almost anything!

Tangle PieThis idea came to me via the Hairy Dieters, whose recipes are enormously popular with many 5:2 fasters, as they are generally straightforward and family friendly.  I am a great fan of filo pastry, as one of the things you often miss when you cut back on starchy carbs and fat (i.e pastry) is a contrasting texture. Here is a way of adding something light and crispy as a topping.  In this example, I was actually using more of my Christmas leftovers so this is a Turkey Tangle Pie, which also used up the last scraps of gammon, some mushrooms, some cream and some brandy. I’m going to be trying some variations of this for sure – imagine some roasted veg and a rich mushroom and sherry sauce, or layers of sliced celeriac and carrots with spinach and a herby sauce…. or something fruity like apples, mincemeat and marzipan with just a drizzle of honey or maple syrup or a sprinkle of icing sugar when serving…

So to the method: 

  • One sheet* of filo pastry per portion and half a teaspoon of vegetable oil, I used sunflower oil.
  • Lay the sheets on top of each other and cut into 3. Lay those on top of each other, and then cut into 3 in the other direction, so you end up with 9 small rectangles from each slice.
  • Now, scrunch them up and lay them on top of your pie to cover the filling completely and very lightly brush with the oil.
  • Bake in a hot oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

* I have discovered that filo sheets vary a lot in size! The ones I use measure 30 x 38cms, there are 8 -10 sheets in a 250g pack, so each sheet would be between 70 and 90 calories. ½ a teaspoon of oil is about 20 calories. So adding a topping like this will be add approximately 100 calories per serving. Compare that to a puff pastry topping, which would be about 300 calories!

Christmas Leftovers? Squash, Stilton and Quince Tart – 410 calories a portion

Continuing my theme of working through the Christmas Leftovers…. I had one of those serendipitous moments when I picked up a cookbook (Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, a welcome Christmas gift), opened a page at random and realised that I had all the ingredients that I needed. Of course I couldn’t resist making some little changes… a little less oil, a little less richness by reducing the cream and quantity of cheese. So his Membrillo and Stilton Quiche has become Squash, Stilton and Quince Tart  (too many Ss and Qs to leave it called Quiche…).

Squash, Stilton and Quince Tart

Continuing with my current passion for making my own pastry, I rustled up some light and crumbly shortcrust – but you can use ready made and it will still taste good.

I used butternut squash, which has been waiting for me to find an inspiring recipe, but you could use any kind of pumpkin or winter squash. I may try something similar with other vegetables like beetroot. In fact, the idea of a roasted vegetable and blue cheese crustless quiche has me rather excited now…

If you have a chunk of Stilton left, that is perfect for this. Actually I was surprised at how mellow it became after cooking, perhaps because I am more accustomed to using Roquefort as a blue cheese, which is indeed a good deal more tangy. That or any strong blue cheese would make acceptable alternatives.

Perhaps you are lucky enough to have your own Quinces and have made yourself some Quince Paste or Jelly or Cheese, or have been given some for Christmas? I find it keeps well for months in the fridge, but it also freezes well. You may find it in the Spanish section of a store as Membrillo, or in French it is called Pate de Coing. If you don’t have any you could perhaps substitute some other thick fruit jelly or I thought of using some chunks of stoned dates. Failing that, some chunks of peeled pear could be an interesting match, but the sticky sweetness of the quince paste does work beautifully.

Spinach, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad

I served it with a lively ‘tricolour’ salad of young Spinach leaves with finely shredded Fennel and topped with Pomegranate Seeds, drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. 

Absolutely delicious seasonal fare. Each serving only 410 calories for the tart and 72 for the salad, so this could even be a meal on a fast day.

Squash, Stilton and Quince Tart with Spinach, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad

So with thanks to Ottolenghi, here is my version of Squash, Stilton and Quince Quiche:-

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