GOLDEN BALANCE: ALEXANDRA DUDLEY

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City life can take its toll on the hardiest of us, especially this time of year. Winter is upon us and there is something in the air that seems to push us to stay busy busy busy all the time. In amongst the festive madness it's more important than ever to stay balanced. We know this is often easier said than done, so we make it a habit to pick the brains of some of the busiest bees we know to discover what keeps them balanced. Meet recipe developer and author of Land & Sea: a collection of sustainable, seasonal and sensational dishes, Alexandra Dudley

Hi Alexandra. We would love you to tell us little about you and your story. Where and when did your love affair with food and cooking begin?

I've loved food since I was a child. My mother is a keen cook and my grandmother was too so I was always watching a learning from them. As I grew older I just cooked more and more and I started my own catering company when I was 15 doing private dinners and also selling my homemade cakes and tarts.

How do you find your daily source of golden balance?

I try to take just a few minutes to myself each day and to connect with nature in someway. I feel most alive when surrounded by nature and that the city can often drain me of that alive feeling. It is often something as small as appreciating the leaves on my walk into work or noticing the way the air feels but often it is in the kitchen working with ingredients for the nights supper. I like to eat seasonally so the produce I buy always gives me that sense of appreciation for the earth and it makes me feel grounded.

How important is self-care to you, and do you often implement it into your regular rituals?

Im often one to stress a lot and take on too many things but recently I've really made the effort to carve out some time for myself. I've just started having reflexology which has been wonderful. its amazing how effective it is on me. I feel as though I’ve had a four hour massage after a session and super zen, but I think its also the act of committing that time to myself that makes the difference. 

Share with us a quote that gives you daily inspiration. 

You are enough. 

We know nourishment from the inside out is fundamental to you. How do you practice this every day? 

I try to eat lots of greens. I am a big believer in eating what you enjoy and I don’t like to deprive myself of anything but I do think that getting some good veg into your system is good both for the body and the mind.

What are some of your favourite ways to wind down?

Cooking, dancing, singing out loud and (badly) playing my guitar. I find music incredibly powerful.

Ingredients-wise, what are your three non-negotiables in the kitchen? 

Miso paste, tahini, mixed spice. 

Now tell us, do you have a guilty pleasure?

Ha definitely. I have many but my top ones are probably cinema popcorn, peanut m and ms and dark chocolate covered rice cakes.

What is your favourite way to use turmeric, be it in your beauty regime or recipes?

I eat omelettes a lot and love throwing it in my omelette, but I also add it to my porridge and pretty much every soup or curry I make. 

Coffee or turmeric latte?

The truth is both. I'd like to say I was turmeric all the way but I do love a good espresso too.

ALEXANDRA'S 'SAVOURY PARSNIP PANCAKES, LEMON WHIPPED RICOTTA + TARRAGON, WALNUT PESTO

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Make like Alexandra and embrace all the beautiful seasonal produce of the moment. We have a feeling these super light, fluffy pancakes are set to become a brunch staple at Wunder HQ. 

| serves 4 |

For the pancakes

  • 2 medium parsnips
  • knob of butter (or olive oil)
  • 200ml milk (cow, goat, almond, cashew or oat – I wouldn’t recommend coconut milk with this recipe)
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100g spelt flour (you can also use gluten free or a standard plain flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the lemon whipped ricotta & tarragon, walnut pesto 

  • 1 lemon
  • 100g ricotta (more if you like)
  • 100g walnuts (toasted on a dry baking tray for 10 mins in a 180° oven)
  • handful of fresh basil (stems incuded)
  • handful of fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

METHOD

- Peel your parsnips and chop them into roughly 2cm pieces. Transfer to a medium sized saucepan along with a good knob of butter and a pinch of sea salt and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until your parsnips are soft. You may need to add some water to stop them from browning too much. I usually add about 100ml.

- Once your parsnips are cool pour over your milk and add your tsp of sea salt.  Blend either by transferring everything to your nutri-bullet container (it should fit in the larger cup perfectly), blender or using a stick blender. Pour into a large mixing bowl and allow the mix to cool.

- Whilst this cools make your pesto and ricotta. Zest your lemon into a medium bowl, add your ricotta and whip using a fork until you have a smooth consistency.  Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

- For the pesto roughly chop your basil – leaves and stems. Transfer to a food processor along with your toasted walnuts, tarragon, garlic and the juice of the lemon. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until broken down but still full of texture.

- I like a rough pesto. To achieve what I’ve made here be sure not to over pulse. Transfer your pesto from the food processor into a bowl and add your seasoning and more oil if needed here. This avoids the pesto losing all of its texture. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

- When your parsnip mix has cooled add in your eggs and whisk to combine.

- Sift in your flour and baking powder and gently whisk until just incorporated. For a fluffy pancake be sure not to over whisk, there should be a few lumps remaining.

- Heat another knob of butter or a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and drop a heaped desert spoonful of the mix. Allow it to cook for 2-2.5 minutes before flipping and cooking for a further two minutes. You should see little bubbled forming just before you flip.

- I always advise to cook just one pancake at first to ensure get the temperature right (the first pancake is never perfect. After that you should be able to get three in at a time. Place your cooked pancakes on a plate in a lightly heated oven or under a dry cloth until you are ready to serve.

- Plate with the lemon whopped ricotta and pesto atop or in little bowls. I like to add some freshly ground black pepper and a little olive oil too.