I can’t be good all the time when it comes to food. My brain just simply isn’t programmed that way. I can eat healthily for a meal or even for a day, but before long all the dairy-free, gluten free, vegan or veggie treats in the world just can’t cut it.
I’m a fan of balance – to indulge some times and cut back at others – which is why I’m embarking on a new series of recipes that give the concept of my weekend bakes a different angle by pairing them with better for you meals to cook alongside them.
Saint & Sinner isn’t about depriving yourself when you really want a treat. It’s also not about forcing in fatty meal after fatty snack; it’s about meeting somewhere in the middle, where one plate is perfectly good for you and one…well, not so much.
It’s food of two halves: one healthy, balanced and angelic and one that satisfies my darker, devilish foodie side that craves fat, sugar and gloriously guilty eating.
My first duo combines a fresh, antioxidant boosting veggie and fruit packed main course that takes mere minutes to knock up but keeps you full and happy for hours with a decadent afternoon or evening snack that is guaranteed to satisfy your sugar cravings.
I hope you like eating them as much as I did! P.S. Don’t forget to make the buns first – you can knock the salad and linguini up while they bake and fill your house with the smell of hot butter, burnt sugar and cinnamon.
Spicy prawn courgette linguini with mango, avocado and pomegranate salad (serves two)
This recipe uses my favourite kitchen gadget – the spiralizer, which I’m pretty sure everyone must have by now. I actually cheated a bit and used a julienne peeler for this recipe, which works just as well in a pinch.
for the linguini
155-200g fresh king prawns
2 large garlic cloves or 3 small cloves
1-2 red chillies
2 medium courgettes
small bunch of coriander
2 tbsp olive oil
for the salad
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe mango
the seeds from half a pomegranate
1 bag of washed baby spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
half a lemon
- Pop the washed spinach into a big serving bowl and then peel and slice your mango and avocado into slim pieces. Drop these over the spinach and shake over the pomegranate seeds. If you have a ripe pomegranate, the seeds should fall out of their shell with a few firm taps on the base with a knife handle.
- Make a simple dressing for this zingy salad by squeezing what’s left of the mango’s flesh around the stone over a cup, trying not to drop in too much of the leftover fruit as you squeeze the juice out. Glug in the olive oil followed by the juice from half a lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Add more lemon or more mango juice until you have a lovely sharp and sweet edge and then simply pour over the salad.
- Peel and crush or grate the garlic into a heavy bottomed frying pan with the olive oil on a low heat. Finely chop the red chilli and add to the pan when the garlic starts to sizzle. Season with a good pinch of sea salt and a few twists of black pepper.
I like my food with a little kick so I always leave in the membrane and the seeds of my chillies, but you can leave them out if you have a particularly hot one. You can test the heat by holding the cut chilli on your lip. If it starts to tingle you’ve got a mildly spicy one. If it starts to burn then you’ve got a scorcher!
- Grab your spiralizer or your specially adapted grater and turn your courgettes into green linguini. Skinny strands of courgette like this will need practically no cooking – they’re even delicious raw with just a squeeze of lemon and a shake of pepper. If you over do them all the water they hold will just spill out and dilute your dish.
- Drop the cooked prawns into the sizzling pan and let them warm through for a minute before you pour in your courgette linguini. Turn the linguini so it gets coated in all that garlicky, oily goodness and leave to get tender. This should take about another minute.
- Roughly chop a handful of fresh coriander before plating up your steaming linguini and prawns. Finish with a splash of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a scattering of the herbs over the top.
Iced cinnamon buns and my ultimate hot chocolate
I have been searching for the perfect cinnamon bun recipe for years, and while the sinfully delicious ones they serve at Nordic Bakery hit the spot, there’s nothing quite like baking your own and devouring them when they’re still warm from the oven and the icing is just dribbling down the sides in glossy streaks.
I first made the hot chocolate that completes my naughty recipe for pudding heaven for a bonfire night party at my flat. My housemates and I were experimenting with different boozy concoctions that could be transported in flasks when we braved the rain and wind to watch the fireworks. We made hot buttered rum, warm spiced cider and this deep, rich pan of pure calorific gorgeousness that has become infamous among my friends.
I experimented a little with the spices and alcohol, but this is the best it has ever got and, for nights in with a film or a book or for a post dinner treat, a mug of this creamy, unctuous drink can’t be beaten.
for the buns
500g strong white bread flour
8g dried yeast
75g caster sugar
75g soft butter
1 beaten egg
300ml warm milk
for the filling
100g softened butter
100g light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
for the icing
7 tsp icing sugar
3 tsp water
for the ultimate hot chocolate (makes two small cups or one massive mug)
1 pint semi-skimmed milk
100g 75% dark chocolate
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
good glug of Amaretto liqueur (optional)
These buns use a similar recipe for enriched dough that I used for making Rosca de Reyes cake. Enriched doughs are a little harder to work with than traditional bread mixes, but are worth it in the end.
- Put the flour, yeast, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, taking care to put the salt and the yeast at different sides of the bowl, as the salt will kill the yeast.
- Push and rub the softened butter through the flour mix with your hands until it feels a bit like breadcrumbs.
- Add the warm milk, a few glugs at a time to the dry ingredients along with the beaten egg.
- Mix with your hands. The mixture will feel gloopy and wet at the start but if you keep working it you’ll feel the gluten building up as it stretches and becomes more like play doh.
- When the dough becomes elastic and is peeling cleanly from the side of the bowl and from your hands, tip it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around ten minutes. Try to resist the temptation to keep adding flour; this is an enriched dough and is inherently a little looser than traditional bread dough. If you’re unable to pummel the sticky mixture into submission at the start then use a stretch and push motion to work the dough.
- When the dough is springy and you can stretch it without breaking it, chuck it back into the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or greased Clingfilm and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This should take about an hour.
- Meanwhile, mix the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling in a bowl until it turns into a soft, ginger-coloured paste (try to resist easting it – I struggle with this)
- After the dough has risen, knock it back with a good kneading for five minutes before rolling it on a lightly-floured surface into a rough rectangle shape. The dough will try to spring back and clench up but you should be able to get it about 1cm thick.
- Spread the soft butter and sugar mixture all over the rectangle of dough and then gently start rolling the dough up from one end until it meets the other. Try to keep it quite tight so you get the maximum number of cinnamon spirals in there. When all you’ve got left is a big dough sausage, slice it into discs about an inch thick and tuck next to each other in a greased and lined baking tin. I used a circular free form tin so my dough discs looked like a spiral of flowers snuggled up inside.
- Cover with a tea towel and put back in a warm place for a second prove. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour.
- When the buns have risen up and spring back when you poke them, heat your oven to 190C and pop them in for around 25-30 minutes, until they’re a burnished golden brown. They will stick together as they grown and bake, this just means you have to tear them apart when you’re ready to eat them.
- When the buns are out of the oven, leave them to cool on a wire rack while you smash up the dark chocolate and drop into a saucepan with the milk and heaped teaspoons of the nutmeg and cinnamon. Heat this on a low heat, stirring all the time until the chocolate as melted and the mixture is smooth, steaming and dark.
- Mix the icing sugar and water into a paste in a bowl or glass – you can drizzle this over the buns when they’ve cooled from the oven.