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Natural born pleaser: Rozanna Purcell shares her recipes for a traditional Easter

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Roz Purcell, photographed for Weekend by Patrick Bolger

Roz Purcell, photographed for Weekend by Patrick Bolger

Patrick Bolger Photogrraphy

Rozanna Purcell, photographed for Weekend by Patrick Bolger

Rozanna Purcell, photographed for Weekend by Patrick Bolger

Patrick Bolger Photogrraphy

Roz Purcell's blackberry tart

Roz Purcell's blackberry tart

Bacon and cabbage

Bacon and cabbage

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Roz Purcell, photographed for Weekend by Patrick Bolger

Rozanna Purcell: Miss Universe contestant, model, fitness enthusiast - and latterly, celebrated food blogger. Since its launch 18 months ago, the 24-year-old Clonmel-native has been keeping her throngs of hungry fans enthralled with kitchen tips via her website, naturalbornfeeder.com.

"I adhere to the 80:20 rule," Roz explains of her food philosophy while also admitting that in the past she's tried almost every diet going. "If you eat well most of the time, you can afford to indulge now and again. But you want to be able to have a nice Sunday roast. You want to be able to celebrate a milestone event with your friends and family. Deprivation doesn't work - I've learned that."

The model says she's passionate about encouraging people to get into the kitchen to prepare their own fare from scratch, and adds that she loves comforting, wholesome food.

"I'm from the country; I'm all about big portions, generous cuts of meat and slow-cooked dinners because that's all a part-and-parcel of how I grew up in Co. Tipperary."

And Roz adds that her bacon with colcannon, the recipe for which is on page 26, is the perfect hearty Easter feast. "I think a lot of people have forgotten just how good baked ham is," she says. "It's sweet and succulent and once you trim away the excess fat, it's a healthy food.

"I love my spuds, too. But this colcannon is seriously tasty with the butter beans and cauliflower - even my dad loves it! The fruit crumble is perfect for this time of year, but it's a bit healthier than the standard stodgy tarts and bakes."

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Roz Purcell's blackberry tart

Roz Purcell's blackberry tart

Roz Purcell's blackberry tart

Finally, she recommends that all of us embrace the amazing food on our doorstep: "Ireland has some of the best produce in the world. More people are actually moving away from the health fads of the last few years too. You can't beat local, good-quality food.

"We've amazing honey, incredible grass-fed butter, excellent eggs from organic hens - so hit your local farmers' market and pick up what's fresh, in season, and locally-produced.

"You might try a dietary fad for a bit, but there's a reason why everyone always ends up going back to quality Irish foods. It's the best there is!"

 

ROZ'S TOP FIVE KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

I have all sorts of gadgets and gizmos in my cupboards - like my Thermomix food processor, which cost me more than €1,000 but was worth every penny. I have a dehydrator and even a sausage maker too. But day-to-day, a few inexpensive items really stand-out as being must-haves for any kitchen:

1. Julienne peeler: This is a cheaper version of a spiraliser. It does the job just as well and is brilliant for creating noodles, pasta and rice substitutes from courgette, squash and carrot.

2. Mortar and pestle: I love adding in spices to my dishes. I freshly crush the likes of anise, bay leaves, cinnamon, chilli, and nutmeg as dried versions aren't nearly as delicious.

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Bacon and cabbage

Bacon and cabbage

Bacon and cabbage

3. Nutribullet: I'm not actually a big smoothie fan, but my Nutribullet liquidiser is also brilliant for making sauces, soups and pancake mix. It's very easy to clean too.

4. Citrus squeezer: I use loads of lemon juice - it goes into hot and cold water, and I throw it in all my dressings - so I couldn't be without my squeezer.

5. Garlic zoom: This is an amazing, inexpensive garlic grinder that you can get online. It eliminates all the mess of peeling and chopping cloves.

 

BALSAMIC BLACKBERRY & HAZELNUT CRUMBLE PIE

As a child it was not a rare occasion to have blackberry crumble in the house during the late summer months, we had a long blackberry hedge that stretched the length of a football pitched packed full of berries waiting to be made into delicious crumbles and jam. Having my birthday fall in September it ended up being a regular replacement for a traditional birthday cake which I was more than happy to trade off. Often I spent my birthday parties with my friends filling baskets of blackberries just to make this dessert, I figured the more hands the more crumbles. Like myself, in most ways this recipe has grown up and adapted a healthier approach yet still keeping to its roots without losing that great taste.

This recipe is grain-free, suitable for those following a gluten-free diet, and can also be adapted for vegans, or those seeking a dairy-free alternative for Easter.

Serves 8

You will need

For the crust

300g almond flour

50g shredded coconut

3 tbsp coconut oil (for vegan/dairy-free) or grass-fed butter

1 tbsp maple syrup

For the filling

600g fresh blackberries

130g maple syrup (vegan) or Irish honey

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Roz Purcell's blackberry tart

Roz Purcell's blackberry tart

Roz Purcell's blackberry tart

4 tbsp whole chia seeds (Linwoods)

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (Llewellyn's Irish balsamic cider vinegar)

Cap full of good quality vanilla essence

40g tapioca flour (health stores)

30g coconut sugar

Zest of 1 large lemon

For the topping

50g whole hazelnuts, roasted and skinned

50g whole almonds

50g flaked almonds

20g buckwheat groats (optional)

50g rolled oats or quinoa flakes

40g grass-fed butter or 3 tbsp coconut oil (vegan/dairy-free)

3 tbsp coconut sugar/maple (both vegan) or Irish honey

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

For the pastry

In a food processor pulse the almond flour, desiccated coconut, and coconut butter/grass-fed butter into a crumb-like texture, stir in the maple syrup which will create a much firmer dough when pressed with fingers. Transfer the pastry into the flan dish and begin pressing out your dough creating a smooth, even case for your filling - unlike regular pastry, almond flour can be tricky to roll out so we avoid this process and get a little more "hands on".

Blind bake for 12 minutes. Place to one side to fully cool.

For the filling

In a mixing bowl add in all the ingredients for your filling except for the blackberries. Whisk using a fork, then stir in the blackberries until they are fully covered in the paste. Pour on top of your pastry and carefully spread evenly.

For the topping

In a mixing bowl add in all the dry ingredients for the topping.

Heat the coconut oil/butter together with the honey/maple syrup and pour over the dry topping mix. Stir until the mix has been absorbed. Spoon on top of the blackberry filling distributing evenly.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Serve with some Greek yogurt or COYO (coconut yogurt).

 

BACON SERVED WITH COLCANNON

Bacon with colcannon might not be your everyday dinner but it is one that spurs nostalgic memories of growing up - whether your mother or father was the head chef of the house, this was surely a fond favourite.

Believe it or not, I make bacon and cabbage more often than either of my parents. It is my sister's favourite dinner, and as my housemate she regularly requests it on a Sunday afternoon. Being the feeder that I am, I happily oblige.

In my natural-born feeder fashion I have made alterations on this typical Irish mammy dinner, one that might suit those who, like myself, are always open to trying healthier alternatives and love getting creative in the kitchen.

Serves 4

You will need

700kg bacon joint

1 bay leaf

For the glaze

1 tbsp mustard seeds

½ tbsp grass-fed butter or coconut oil

1½ tbsp honey

1 tbsp coconut sugar

1 tbsp balsamic

14 whole cloves

For the colcannon

1 small head of cauliflower

1 can butter beans

½ head of york cabbage finely sliced

Juice from bacon joint

Salt

Method

Preheat the oven 200°C. Place the bacon in a saucepan along with the bay leaf and cover with water. With the lid on, bring to boil. Once boiling reduce the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes (it is roughly 20 minutes per ƒkg).

While this is boiling, prepare the glaze. Crush the mustard seeds using a pestle and mortar. Melt the butter/coconut oil and combine with the crushed mustard seeds, coconut sugar, honey and balsamic.

Once the bacon is finished boiling, remove the joint placing on a lined baking tray using tin foil. Cut off the rind and ¬ of the fat (yes, the fat). Using a sharp knife score the fat that is left and smooth over half of the marinade, piercing in the cloves. Bake for 20 minutes, after 10 minutes reapply the last half of the glaze.

For the Colcannon

Steam the cauliflower and let air on it to dry out. Strain and rinse the butter beans.

In a high-speed blender process the cauliflower and butter beans with a pinch of salt into a smooth mash. Boil and strain the cabbage. Stirring in with the reserved juice from the bacon joint. Combine the cabbage and mash.

Irish Independent