Beef Vietnamese Pho

A weekend of final summer picnics and just being. We ate well, too well taking regular pauses for cake and hot coffee and by Sunday night I felt like slurping cleansing pho. 

Beef Vietnamese Pho 

2 litres hot beef stock
4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
5 tbsp fish sauce
1 hot red chilli, finely sliced
225g rice noodles
400g rump or sirloin steak
Large handful each of beansprout
100g mange tout, finely sliced
Chopped fresh coriander
Fresh Thai basil

1 Pour 2 litres good-quality fresh beef stock into a pan and dilute with cold water to taste. Add the ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves, fish sauce and the finely sliced red chilli. Bring the broth to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes.

2 Meanwhile empty the dry noodles into large bowl and pour over boiling water. Allow them to sit for 3-4 minutes. Then drain.

3 Add the beef to the beef broth and allow it to poach for 2-3 minutes.

4 Empty a portion of noodles in the bottom of a large bowl. Add the sliced mange tout and beansprouts and ladle over the beef broth. Garnish to taste with fresh thai basil, coriander and sliced red chili. 


Chia Seeds - The new diet pill?

Tiny black chia seeds are creating a bit of a buzz - they are the brand new superfood don’t you know?! We’re told that whilst providing hardly any calories they contain stacks of health benefits ranging from being high in fibre, omega-3 and protein and also containing antioxidants, potassium and calcium.
Once a dietary staple of the Aztec and Mayan people, chia seeds were originally ground into a flour and used to make flatbread, or soaked in water for a drink. When soaked the seeds expand in size and take on a strange gel-like, frog’s spawny appearance. This drink, which is high in fibre, is also very filling and (it has been suggested) could dramatically help with loosing dress size or two. Alternatively you could sprinkle over your breakfast cereal and the seeds will expand in the stomach, keeping one feeling fuller for longer.
Weight loss aside these seeds are without doubt an incredible source of fibre and omega 3 so absolutely worth having a bag or two in your cupboard. 

This one is easy. Simply whiz up ripe banana’s and mix with a tablespoon or so of Greek yoghurt and 1 tbsp chia seeds. Dollop the mixture into lolly moulds and place sticks in the center. Freeze overnight. Mine made 6 little lollies. 


Makes 16 cakes

200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoon chia seeds
3 medium eggs
200g caster sugar
200ml vegetable oil
2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract
250g grated fresh celeriac
For the lemon buttercream
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g sifted icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons milk, or enough for the frosting to reach a piping consistency
Fresh lemon zest, for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Line a muffin tin with paper cases. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger into a large bowl and set aside.

2. Using a mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla on medium speed until fully combined. Reduce to low speed and add in the grated celeriac. Now slowly add the flour mixture until well combined.

3. Fill each muffin case quite high, about two thirds full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then take each muffin out and cool completely before icing.

4. Beat the butter until light and fluffy and slowly add the icing sugar. Once combined, and with the food-processor on low, add in the vanilla extract, lemon zest, chia seeds, salt and milk. The consistency should be creamy but still thick. Beat the mixture on medium high for a further 2–3 minutes. The icing should become very light and fluffy.

5. Pipe the buttercream onto your cooled muffins and top with lemon zest and chia seeds.