What to Cook This April

Learn what's in season this month at cookieandkate.com!

Hello from Morocco! I am actually writing this from a plane over the Atlantic, on my way to Madrid and then Marrakech. I should be halfway through my vacation by the time this goes live. I usually write posts the morning I publish them, so it always feels odd to draft them in advance. Please humor me on this one, because I really need some time away from the computer screen.

Spring showers, tulips, asparagus, Claritin—give me all of it. I can’t wait. I officially conceded that I am seasonally affected this winter and I cannot tell you how much better I’ve felt since daylight savings and the spring solstice. I have a lot more pep in my step now. Below, you’ll find a list of what’s in season this month. Cheers to spring!

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Broccolini Almond Pizza

Homemade broccolini pizza with almonds (optional), mozzarella and red sauce! The trick to making awesome broccolini pizza is to blanch the broccolini first.

Have you ever ordered broccolini on a pizza? (No.) Is that a ridiculous question? (Probably.) I’m always on the hunt for interesting veggie pizzas, so I’ve sampled no less than three broccolini pizzas at brick-oven pizzerias.

Broccolini is a hybrid of standard broccoli and Chinese broccoli, with smaller florets and long, thin stalks. Like all members of the brassica family, it’s awesome once roasted. Hence, pizza potential.

blanched broccolini

First up: I paid an extra three dollars beyond their margherita pizza asking price for the “broccolini” variety. My pizza came out with three broccoli florets scattered on top. It looked like a salad bar hiccuped on my pizza. I still want my three dollars back.

Second place: Broccolini was one of several veggies included. While the tips of it were tasty, the stems were way too tough and I couldn’t eat them without the rest of my slice falling apart.

Continue to the recipe…

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3 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Costs

Fresh Pea Pasta-2

A few months ago I had an illuminating conversation with the other mothers at playgroup. We were talking about how much we spend on food.

It was amazing how different the range was. And it reminded me that it’s been ages since I wrote about the financial side of cooking.

So here we are.

3 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Costs

1. Cook from scratch
Convenience is expensive because the more processing (and especially packaging) a food goes through, the more it costs to produce. So it’s best to cook things yourself where possible. Baking your own bread or making your own yoghurt or even your own wine vinegar are excellent places to start.

I find that apart from the financial benefits, home made food often tastes better. Plus it’s generally better for you because you know exactly what ingredients were used to make it.

2. Reduce your meat intake
We all know that animal products tend to be expensive. If you do find cheap meat, you’ve got to question why it’s so cheap.

Interestingly, in my playgroup discussion it was the ‘mostly vegetarian’ family who had the lowest monthly food costs.

There’s no need to turn completely vegan overnight. Try going meat-free a few times a week. Another great option is to decrease the amount of meat in a recipe by supplementing with lentils, beans or even tofu. Or think of ways to use a little meat as a garnish to keep the carnivores happy without the cost of a steak.

3. Consider frozen veg
Years ago I read a study comparing the nutritional content of ‘fresh’ and frozen veg. In many cases the frozen veg actually outperformed the ‘fresh’ vegetables. Especially when the non-frozen veg were on the older side.

Frozen veg are also brilliant from a waste persepctive because they’ll happily hang out in your freezer until you need them. Unless you’re like my Dad and put the frozen veg in your refrigerator when you get them home…

Like more help reducing your food costs?

Then check out the ‘Mastering the Art of Cooking on a Budget‘ program at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School.

The program is ‘pay what you can afford’ and I created it as a chance to help people who can’t afford my other programs.

While cooking real healthy food on a budget may seem difficult, it’s not impossible and in this class I’ll show you exactly how to do it.

For more details go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/budget/

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Fresh Pea Pasta

Fresh Mint & Pea Pasta

Along with Fergal’s Fried Rice, this is one of my backup quick dinners for my boys. I usually have cooked pasta in the freezer so all I have to do is remember to defrost the pasta a few hours before dinner. This has the added bonus of reducing the impact of the pasta on our blood sugar because the cooking and cooling process creates ‘resistant starch’ which our bodies use as fiber – something especially great for gut health.

enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes
200g (7oz) pasta
4 tablespoons butter
3 handfuls frozen peas
mint small bunch (optional), leaves picked
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil. Add pasta and set your timer according to the packet directions.

2. Meanwhile, warm butter in a small saucepan on a medium heat. Add peas and cook for a minute or until the peas are hot. The less cooking the fresher everything will taste.

3. Remove peas from the heat and mash using a stick blender or a fork until you have a chunky saucy puree.

4. When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss into the peas along with the mint and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and season with more lemon, salt and pepper if needed.

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Variations

cheesey – serve with lashings of grated parmesan or toss in crumbled feta or goats cheese.

different herbs – replace mint with basil or parsley.

less mess / one pot – cook pasta and drain then make the sauce in the pasta cooking pot.

more fiber / more veg – soften an onion or leek in the butter before adding the peas. Toss in a few handfuls of baby spinach or cooked greens with the cooked pasta.

low-carb – replace some or all of the cooked pasta with spiralized zucchini (courgettes).

more substantial – use more butter, or more pasta or serve with roasted nuts such as pinenuts or almonds.

dairy-free – olive oil instead of butter.

carnivore – serve the pea sauce with cooked sausages, roast chicken or BBQ lamb chops.

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Like to learn more about Cooking on a Budget?

Then I highly recommend taking the ‘Mastering the Art of Cooking on a Budget‘ program at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School.

The program is ‘pay what you can afford’ and I created it as a chance to help people who can’t afford my other programs.

While cooking real healthy food on a budget may seem difficult, it’s not impossible and in this class I’ll show you exactly how to do it.

For more details go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/budget/

With love,
Jules x

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ps. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to keep offering the class as a ‘pay what you can afford’ so signup today to make sure you don’t miss out on this great deal.

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Spring Veggie Stir-Fry

This vegetable stir-fry recipe comes together in no time! To turn this side dish into a complete meal, serve it with brown rice and your choice of protein.

This post is brought to you by ALDI.

Hello, it’s Kate of two weeks’ past. I wrote this post in advance of my vacation in Morocco. I day-dreamed of this trip while I was perpetually arms-deep in dishes last year. It’s official: My cookbook’s at the printer, and I’m finally getting a real vacation!

I should be practicing yoga and exploring Marrakech right now (you might be able to catch a glimpse on Instagram stories). I’m particularly excited about our trip into the markets.

how to cook a stir-fry

I’m hoping to come back with an awesome Moroccan rug, which might be a challenge to get home since I’m already squeezing ten days’ worth of clothing into a carry-on. I can ship rugs over, right?

I’ll tell you all about my adventures when I get back. For now, I can offer you a vibrant springtime stir-fry that is both warming and fresh. Asian stir-fries were always a bit of a mystery to me, but it turns out they’re easy to make at home with the help of a little bit of arrowroot or cornstarch to thicken the sauce.

Continue to the recipe…

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Carrot Ginger Dressing

This carrot-ginger salad dressing recipe tastes remarkably fresh, creamy and light. It would pair nicely with other recipes with Asian flavors. Delicious!

I’m slowly working my way through the veggie options at the sushi restaurant that opened near me. The other day, I ordered a side salad to accompany my sushi. I was intrigued by the dressing—carrot ginger. How had I not tasted carrot-ginger dressing? The dressing was a little more lumpy than smooth, but the flavor was amazing.

ginger and carrots

I added it to my list to recreate and I’ve enjoyed every rendition so far, but this final version is my favorite. It’s bright and zingy and fresh, and I want it drizzled on everything. Homemade dressings always taste a million times better than store-bought.

Continue to the recipe…

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Melt-in-the-Mouth Savoury Cheesecake

Savoury Cheese Cake-2

Before we get to this weeks recipe, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Here at Stonesoup ‘head quarters’ I have a little tradition. Around the time of the ‘birthday’ of each of my eCookbooks I have a once-a-year sale to celebrate my ‘baby’ becoming a year older.

This month it’s one of my most favourite ‘book children’, The 2-Minute Meal Plan – A Revolutionary Approach to Planning and Cooking Healthy Food Fast.

Do you struggle with meal planning?

Then the ‘2-Minute Meal Plan’ can help!

So how does the ‘2-Minute Meal Plan’ work? And how is it different?

Basically it’s all about ‘reversing’ the meal planning process. Instead of deciding what to cook first and then buying ingredients, the 2-Minute Meal Plan teaches you to do your shopping first and THEN deciding what to cook.

This is a game changer for 3 reasons.

1. It takes a fraction of the time that a traditional meal plan takes. No sitting down and writing a big list.

2. It allows greater flexibility, you’re not locked in to a particular meal that you may or may not feel like on the night.

3. It allows you to shop with the seasons based on what looks best (and is generally less expensive) rather than having to buy what’s on your list.

If this seems a bit to scary, you can take baby steps. And I’ll show you how in the ‘2-Minute Meal Plan’.

Like to try this new approach to meal planning?

For the next 48-hours only you can get the ‘2-Minute Meal Plan’ at 30% OFF in the ‘Book Birthday’ Celebration Sale.

To make sure you don’t miss out go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/2mmp/

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OK good. Now let me tell you about this cheesecake…

I’m a huge huge fan of cheesecake in all its forms but had never even considered the idea of turning it into a real cheesey salty affair until I was reading one of my Christmas presents, Honey & Co. – Food From the Middle East. (A brilliant book which is well worth checking out if you like Middle Eastern food).

Anyway when I spotted their Savoury Cheesecake I just had to try it.

And what a winner!

We had it for Sunday brunch and I remember wishing I had made more. The texture is surprisingly light, almost like a souffle. And the salty cheese makes it so so satisfying.

It’s super delicious here with the roast zucchini but feel free to use any of your favourite pizza toppings to top it instead. I’ve also made it with chunks of roast eggplant. Yum!

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Savoury Cheese Cake

Melt-in-the-Mouth Savoury Cheesecake

I love this cheesecake so so much. I’ve served it multiple times for brunch but it’s also fab as a simple vegetarian weeknight meal. I like it best when still warm from the oven but am totally happy having cold leftovers for lunch the next day. If it’s not zucchini season where you are, see the ‘variations’ for alternative topping ideas. And if you’re short of time you can easily roast the zucchini at the same time you cook the cheesecake and then serve it on top.

enough for 4 as a light meal
takes: 30 minutes
3 small zucchini (500g / 1lb)
small bunch mint, leave
250g (9oz) cream cheese (Philadelphia), softened
200g (7oz) feta
3 eggs

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Slice zucchini into rounds and pop in a roasting tray. Drizzle with a little oil but don’t add salt because you’ll be getting lots from the feta.

2. Roast for 20 minutes or until zucchini has softened and started to brown. Remove from the oven and toss in the mint.

3. Meanwhile, place cream cheese, feta and eggs in a food processor and whizz until well combined. There will still be a few tiny lumps from the feta. Grease a 20cm (8in) oven proof frying pan or spring form pan. Spoon the cheesey mixture into the pan and smooth out the top. Press the cooked zucchini into the top.

4. Bake cheesecake for 15 minutes. Turn and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until browned around the edges and puffed up a little. Serve warm.

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Variations

short on time – bake zucchini at the same time as the cheesecake and serve on top. Or skip the zucchini and just serve with a side salad for greenery. Or try a big dollop of pesto just before serving.

different veg – roast eggplant is really good, grilled red peppers, roast mushrooms, roast diced root veg like sweet potato, wilted greens.

carnivore – top with salami or proscuitto as well as or instead of the zucchini.

no food processor – just mash the cheeses and eggs together with a fork and go for a more chunky, rustic style.

different cheese – replace feta with goats cheese or ricotta.

more substantial – serve with a side of bacon and/or hot buttered toast. For a more middle eastern vibe serve with warm pita bread.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Not sure if the 2-Minute Meal Plan will help you?

Here’s what Daniela and Kate said about it…

“The most helpful part for me was the different approach to shopping, shop for veggies with freshness in mind, not a recipe. What a great idea! I’m finding it easier to use all the veggies I buy this way…”
Daniela, 2-Minute Meal Planner.

“The whole system was very useful to me. I learned better planning of meals for a week and, besides that, to improvise with ingredients. Preparing food ceased to be stressful factor and became a joy!”
Kate, 2-Minute Meal Planner.

To make sure you don’t miss out on the ‘48-Hour Birthday Sale
go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/2mmp/

__________________

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Strawberry Salsa

Have you had strawberry salsa yet? It's so good! Get the recipe at cookieandkate.com

This strawberry salsa recipe has been haunting me since I spied it in Andrea Bemis’ new cookbook, Dishing Up the Dirt. She also has a blog of the same name. Fair warning: Her beautiful work may inspire you to leave your work and become a farmer.

I thought I’d have to wait a while longer to make it, but I came across the most gorgeous organic strawberries yesterday. Would you just look at those leafy tops? Strawberry salsa was meant to be.

strawberries

If strawberries seem strange in salsa, consider that tomatoes are also technically fruit. Using strawberries instead is a fun way to change up salsa and Caprese salad iterations, not to mention pizza.

Continue to the recipe…

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15 Delicious Kale Recipes

Mediterranean sweet potato farro salad recipe with kale, fresh mint and hazelnuts - cookieandkate.com

I hope you are soaking up the sunshine today. Since St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, I thought I’d offer some redeeming green recipes. Kale is a more hardy green that is awesome in make-ahead salads (read my tips here), soups, burritos, stir-fries and so much more.

This is just a selection of my kale recipes. You can always peruse my full kale recipe offerings on the site here, too. Lastly, some of my all-time favorite kale recipes are in my cookbook, which will be here in less than two months (!!!). Pre-order so you can get the book the day it’s released, May 16th!

1) Mediterranean Roasted Sweet Potato & Farro Salad

“Loved this! This is a regular in my house. The flavors are amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing (except I opted out of the hazelnuts because I just don’t ever have them).” – Sarah

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Lentil Baked Ziti

This lentil baked ziti recipe is vegetarian comfort food at its best. cookieandkate.com

This post is brought to you by Newman’s Own.

After a few glorious days of sunshine and sleeveless-shirt weather, it snowed again yesterday. This baked ziti is precisely what I want to eat when it’s cold outside. Hearty, saucy, cheesy pasta with redeeming whole grains and protein-rich lentils to keep me fueled for hours.

This dish is in sharp contrast to the pasta dinners I loved as a kid, which consisted only of refined carbohydrates and loads of sugar-laden marinara sauce. No matter how saucy pasta I could slurp down, I was always hungry 30 minutes later. No wonder!

ingredients

I quickly lose my patience with recipes that require stovetop preparation followed by a long bake, but I kept this one as simple as possible. It’s worth the [minimal] effort and the wait, I promise. One way that I simplified the recipe—without sacrificing health factors or quality—was by using store-bought marinara sauce. You’ve probably noticed that not all pre-made marinara sauces are created equally.

Continue to the recipe…

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Crispy Zucchini Fritters for St Patrick

Zucchini Fritters

I have an evil plan. I like to call it ‘how to get small boys to eat more vegetables without resorting to hiding them’.

Like most plans, evil or otherwise, some days there is progress. Other days it feels more like regression.

One of my recent ‘progressive’ days was when I made these Crispy Zucchini Fritters for Sunday brunch. I had already had success with potato rosti, so I figured crispy fried treats my be tempting enough for Fergal to overcome his moratorium on green vegetables.

It worked!

They were so popular with all my men there weren’t any leftovers. And when I suggested to my Irishman that they might make a nice St Patrick’s Day celebration, he agreed with the proviso that they be served with Guinness, of course.

Happy St Patricks Day!

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Crispy Zucchini Fritters

I find fritters a bit fiddly to make. They’re not the sort of thing to serve a huge crowd. But I’m happy to take the time on a Sunday morning for our little family so my boys are enjoying some vegetables rather than just scoffing the bacon or black pudding. Normally I’m all about the mayonnaise for dipping but after ‘extensive’ testing my Irishman and I agreed that the fritters are actually better with refreshing natural yoghurt or some labneh.

enough for: 2 as a light meal
takes: about 30 minutes
3 medium zucchini (500g / 1lb)
pinch salt
2 eggs
150g (5oz) almond meal
small bunch mint, leaves picked and chopped (optional)
oil for frying
natural yoghurt, to serve

1. Grate zucchini using your food processor or a box grater. Add a pinch of salt, stir and stand for a few minutes. Pat with paper towel to remove some moisture but no need to get it really dry.

2. Combine the salted zucchini, eggs, almond meal and mint (if using) until thoroughly mixed – I just do this in the bowl of my food processor.

3. Heat 1cm (1/3in) oil in a large frying pan on a medium high heat. Test a little drop of mixture, when it starts sizzling vigorously, start scooping heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the pan. I usually cook 5-6 at a time. Shallow fry until well browned on both sides. Drain on paper towel and keep warm in a low oven while you continue cooking the rest of the mixture.

4. Serve hot fritters with a good dusting of sea salt flakes and cold yoghurt on the side for dipping / drizzling.

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Variations

with potato! – replace some o the zucchini with spuds. Or for a whole potato experience, these rosti are a total winner.

different veg – if you can grate it, you can probably use it in place of the zucchini. Think sweet potato, potato, carrots, butternut pumpkin (squash) or parsnip or any combo of the above.

different herbs – mint and zucchini are a match made in heaven but feel free to use some chives, parsley or even basil.

nut-free – replace almond meal with ground sunflower seeds or use your favourite flour my choice would be chickpea flour.

lighter – use 3 eggs whites instead of the whole eggs.

burgers – form the mixture into 4 burger patties and pan fry in the oil until well browned and cooked through.

baked – not as tasty as fried but definitely lower maintenance! Drizzle oil in a baking tray and top with scoops of the fritter mixture. Bake 200C until well browned – about 20 minutes as a guess.

zucchini nests – use your spiralizer instead of grating.

brunch! / more substantial – serve with poached eggs and a salad. A bit of bacon or black pudding wouldn’t go astray.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Want to win a copy of my print book ‘5-Ingredients 10-Minutes?

I really want to hear from you! What have you enjoyed about Stonesoup? Do you have any ideas how I could make it better? Did you like the sound of this recipe? Let me know in the comments below.

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