• Simple tips for smart food by Anna Montali

    How to make shaped meringues
    Preheat the oven to 130°C. In a deep bowl, whisk 4 large egg whites until light and foamy. Add 2ml (½ tsp) cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Slowly add 200g sugar, beating continuously until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Place cookie shapes of your choice on a lightly greased baking tray and spoon the meringue mixture to come halfway up the sides of the shapes. Smooth the top with a spatula and bake for about 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven with the door slightly open for 30 minutes. Sandwich shaped meringues together with strawberry and whipped cream, melted chocolate or custard.

    How to make icing shapes
    To make simple and effective cake decorations, cut out motifs of your choice in stiff paper. Place these on top of the cake, sprinkle generously with icing sugar and leave to settle for a few minutes. Very carefully remove the motifs to reveal the shape underneath.

    How to cook quinoa
    Quinoa is an interesting alternative to rice or couscous. Thoroughly rinse 250ml (1 cup) quinoa under running water. Soak in clean water for 15 minutes. Stir and drain. Place in a pot and bring to the boil with 375ml water and a pinch of salt. Once boiling, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stand for 10 minutes with the lid on. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and serve.

    How to make quick lavender biscuits
    In a large mixing bowl, beat 250g butter and 130g castor sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add 20ml (4 tsp) finely chopped fresh lavender and 1 large egg yolk. Beat until well combined. Work in 300g sifted cake flour to form a dough. Press the dough into a Swissroll baking tray lined with baking paper. Smear chocolate spread on the dough, then roll it up lengthways, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Slice the roll into rounds and bake these on a greased tray until golden, about 10 minutes Cool and store in an airtight container. Instead of lavender you could use ground almonds, coconut, raisins or aniseeds.