Tag Archives: fruit.

Chewy Fruit and Nut Muesli Bars

28 Feb Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

This is the next recipe in my Sweet & Healthy series. I used to buy muesli bars all the time, I took them to work and college to snack on in the afternoon, you know when you get that craving for something sweet. The companies that make these spend millions on packaging and marketing to make you believe that they are the healthy alternative and are actually good for you.

So no true.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Nearly all of them are packed with sugar and oil or butter so that any goodness you might be getting from the fruit, seeds and nuts is completely irrelevant. You might as well buy a toffee apple with a side order of candy floss.

Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Making your own is really quick and easy, you have complete control over what goes in them and you aren’t paying for fake organic looking packaging and advertising campaigns with sunny farms in them. If you don’t like raisins leave them out, prefer hazelnuts to almonds then put them in instead.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars Recipe

Makes 8-12 depending how you cut them. Vegan, Gluten-free

  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • 90 g (1 cup) oats (gf)
  • 5 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp honey/agave syrup
  • 4 Tbsp oat milk (or your choice of milk)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) raisins
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) sunflower seeds
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) dried cranberries
  • 50 g (1/3 cup) flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a baking sheet with baking paper brushed with a little oil.

Put the chopped banana, oats, coconut, vanilla, flaxmeal, cinnamon and honey in a food processor and pulse together slowly. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse together again. You can blend it really well or leave some bits chunky.

Tip the mixture out onto the lined baking sheet and shape it into a flat, even square about 1/2 cm thick with a spatula. It takes a bit of time & patience to make it even but they will be easier to cut into squares or rectangles later. Top with a few more flaked almonds and sunflower seeds and press them down a bit.

Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown. Cut into 12 squares or 8 rectangles while still warm. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container.

Chewy Fruit & Nut Muesli Bars

It is my first Healthy Baking with Chocolate Workshop this Saturday 2nd March 5pm-9m. We will be making and tasting:

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling

Dark Chocolate & Orange Almond Torte

Chocolate, Date & Walnut Energy Truffles

Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart with an Almond Crust

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

All of these recipes use wholemeal spelt flour or ground almonds rather than processed flours. We use coconut oil or olive oil instead of butter and use honey, maple syrup or miel de cana instead of refined sugars.

Here’s a preview of the cookies. If you are lucky I might have time to share the recipe with you next week…

Vegan Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

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Sweet Quince, Fennel Seed and Pistachio Sambousek Pastries

29 Oct Sweet Sambouseks

I made these little pastries using the Persian Quince Jam from last post but you could use any jam you like. I have used this lovely fig & honey compote before too which is great if you don’t like using sugary jams.

Sambouseks are little samosa-like pastries that are normally savoury and filled with meat or cheese. I made these savoury Fig & Feta Sambouseks before, so this is just a little step in a sweeter direction. The picture below is of the savoury sambouseks and demonstrates the folding technique.

Sweet Quince, Fennel Seed & Pistachio Sambousek Pastries Recipe

Makes 16-20 pastries. Vegetarian/Vegan.

  • 225 g (1 1/2 cups) white spelt flour (or normal)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil plus extra for brushing
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 110 ml (1/2 cup) warm water
  • jam/compote/carne de membrillo
  • feta cheese or ricotta or queso fresco (optional)
  • honey or agave syrup
  • a handful of pistachios, very finely chopped

Sieve the flour sugar and salt into a large bowl then stir in the fennel seeds. Add the olive oil, mixing it in with a fork then make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the warm water. With your hand, fold the flour into the water, turning the bowl as you go until you get a sticky dough.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, 1 or 2 minutes. Wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking sheets with parchment brushed with a little oil.

Flour your work surface and rolling-pin and roll the dough out until it is about 2mm thick. Cut out small circles about 3 inches in diameter (use a floured cutter or a glass). Lift the excess pastry away from the circles  and re-roll it and cut out more circles. Keep doing this until you have used most of the dough. You should get 16-20 in total depending on the thickness of your dough.

Put the circles on the lined baking tray and, using a teaspoon place a small amount of jam in the centre of the circle and top with a little cheese (if using). Lift up the two opposite edges and seal them above the filling. Seal the two other ends by pinching them together to create a four-cornered sambousek. (See picture above). They can be refrigerated at this point if necessary.

Brush the tops of the sambouseks with a little olive oil and bake for 15 -25 minutes until golden and cooked. Leave to cool slightly then brush the tops with honey or agave syrup and dip them in the finely chopped pistachios.

Serve the sweet sambouseks warm or at room temperature with a glass of fresh mint tea or Turkish coffee.

Enjoy!!

Persian Quince Jam with Cardamom and Rosewater For Breakfast

27 Oct Persian Quince Jam

Quince are  large yellow knobbly apple-shaped fruits that have a slightly floral flavour and ripen in the Autumn. On the tree they have a white furry layer over their skin that will probably be rubbed off if you see them for sale. You see old Spanish ladies buying  bags full at the market. They will be boiling up huge pots of them to make Carne de Membrillo, a sweet quince paste that is traditionally served with a nice cured Manchego cheese. Chica Andaluza has the recipe if you are interested.

I fancied making something a little different with my very modest single kilo of the fragrant fruit. It’s a very similar thing but comes via Persia to this table.

As I have mentioned before, in the summer we were cooking lunch for an Iranian family for a few weeks. We used to arrive every morning at about 11am  after shopping for the day’s food. As we were unpacking the shopping they would still be finishing off their breakfast. Breakfast was a long and luxurious family occasion that I found fascinating. The table was generously laid with breads, cheeses, fresh fruit, dried fruits, nuts, honey, yoghurt, tahini and cinnamon pancakes that one of the husbands made every day. A bowl of Bran Flakes and a quick cup of coffee it was not.

The family live in different cities all over the world but meet up once a year for a holiday together. On the first night, the Grandma arrived from Paris on a very late flight carrying a huge jar (like 5 litres) of something that looked like homemade chutney or jam. How on earth did she get that through customs? The daughters and granddaughters were very pleased though, it was obviously a family favourite that no holiday would be complete without.

I found out the next morning, when they let me taste some, that it was a very special quince jam that their Grandma had always made that they all loved. It took pride of place every morning on that amazing breakfast table. A perfect match for the cheese, like our very own Dulce de Membrillo.

She didn’t speak any English and my French is very rusty but I managed to get that there was cardamom in there, I could see the little black seeds too. The recipe is obviously a very closely guarded family secret because she always very politely managed to avoid telling me anything more. It was delicious, I can see why she was so protective of it.

So this is a recipe I found on the internet, it tastes very similar but not as good as Grandma’s obviously. The quince flesh turns from a very pale yellow when raw to a bright coral or even a rich ruby-red when cooked. It depends how long you cook it for and how often you open the lid. If you cover the pot with a tea towel and then put on the lid while cooking (and don’t peek) it goes darker like mine. I may have overdone it slightly I think.

Persian Quince Jam Recipe

Makes about 1 large jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Turmeric & Saffron

  • I used 4 quince (about 900 g), washed, cored & cubed or sliced (you can peel it too if you like)
  • 250 g sugar
  • 500 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed to open them
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 or 2 tbsp rosewater

Remove any dark bits in the fruit and squeeze half the lemon over the chopped pieces to stop discolouration.

Put the water and sugar in a large saucepan, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 5-7 minutes.  Add a splash more water if it is drying out.

Add the ground cardamom, the bashed cardamom pods and the quince to the sugar syrup, stir well, bring back to the boil and add 2 tbsp lemon juice. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the top with a tea towel then put on the lid. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until reduced and jam-like. Check it very occasionally and stir gently.

Add a tablespoon of rosewater and simmer for another few minutes. Carefully taste and add more rosewater if you like.

Pour or spoon the hot jam into sterilised jars, seal and leave to cool. When cool store in the fridge.

Serve for breakfast with a creamy smooth cheese or yoghurt on toasted bread. Or go for the whole breakfast feast and fill the table with fresh fruit, gorgeous breads, a selection of cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, honey, yoghurt and cinnamon pancakes.

Take the time to sit down and enjoy a long leisurely weekend breakfast.

Fresh Fig and Almond Fumble

2 Oct Fig Fumble

A fumble, just in case you were wondering or being smutty, is a cross between a fool and a crumble. The best bits of two classic British desserts brought together to create something beautiful and simple to make. It is extremely versatile too. You can basically use whichever fruits are in season. Strawberries, apples, plums, mangoes, pears, rhubarb, gooseberries, you get the idea.

A fool is traditionally made with a fruit puree or compote stirred (or marbled) through whipped cream. I used goat’s yoghurt instead of cream, the sourness is fantastic with the sweet sticky fig compote. You could use Greek yoghurt or a mixture of yoghurt and whipped cream if you like.

My crumble is made with olive oil and honey rather than butter and sugar so it is all round a really healthy dessert. The crumble  is given extra flavour and crunch by adding flaked and ground almonds to the mix. I chose almonds because I saw  families picking their almonds at the same time as picking their figs today and the figs at the market looked beautiful.

I made a compote with the figs just by cooking them with some honey and a bit of water until it resembled runny jam. I left it to cool while I made the crumble mix. You just spread out all of the crumbly lumps on a baking sheet and cook it until it is browning. When it’s cool you can store it in an airtight container and use it to top ice creams, stewed fruit, yoghurt and anything else you think could do with a sweet crunch. This recipe makes more than you need so you should have some left over, unless you keep picking at it of course.

Fig & Almond Fumble Recipe

Makes 2, vegetarian. No butter, no sugar, no cream. Adapted form Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

  • 200 g soft ripe figs, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp water

Put the figs, honey and water in a sauce pan, bring to a  boil then lower the heat to medium and simmer until it resembles a jammy compote. About 3-5 minutes. Leave to cool.

  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • 6 tbsp wholemeal spelt flour (or any flour)
  • 3 tbsp oats
  • 3 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp honey

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Using a fork,  mix in the olive oil and honey the using your fingers make it resemble crumble. You should make lots of  clumpy crumble lumps. Spread the crumble out in one layer on the baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes but keep an eye on it incase it burns. It depends how big your clumps are as to how long it will take. It should be nicely browned. Now leave it to cool.

  • 2 pots or 250ml goat’s/Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 4 large tbsp fig compote in each serving
  • a large handful of crumble mix for each

When the compote and crumble mix have cooled, mix the yoghurt and vanilla in a bowl and swirl through the compote. Taste it and add some honey if you think it needs it but remember the crumble is going on top.

Pour into serving dishes and top with a generous handful of crumble mix. You may have to crumble it more if you have large clumps.

Enjoy!!

Pink Lychee Bellini Cocktail

7 Sep Lychees

I had never tried fresh lychee before I bought these. I thought I didn’t like them because the ones I had tried out of a tin tasted, well like tin, and syrup. Not a good combination.

So I bought these because they were cheap mainly and because The Washer Up kept trying to persuade me that they were lovely. And he was right. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before, that he was right I mean. He will be pleased.

It turns out that underneath that pink prehistoric armoured shell there is a delicately perfumed, lightly floral tasting, opalescent jewel of a fruit that is elegant, cool, sweet and delicious. Nothing at all like tin, which is nice.

I was going to make Lychee Martinis as that seems to be the lychee cocktail of choice but I saw Jamie Oliver doing Venice the other day and he was explaining the history of the Bellini that was invented in Harry’s Bar in Venice (something to do with the delicate peach colour resembling the golden glow in Bellini’s paintings) and he showed how to make an authentic one.

He used white peaches with their red skins still on (to get the light peachy colour) and he crushed the whole thing in his hand  through a sieve into a jug. He then mixed the pulp with Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) and poured it into the glass.

I tried to crush a lychee through a sieve, (there’s a first time for everything) but it didn’t work so I just pureed the fruits (without the seeds) with a stick blender. The puree is a milky white froth that I poured into the bottom of each glass and I topped it up with pink rose cava (Spanish sparkling wine) because I wanted it to echo the beautiful colour of the lychee skins. You could use normal sparkling instead for a more frosty effect.

Salud!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Watermelon Agua Fresca

9 Jul Watermelon Agua Fresca

Just a little something to quench your thirst if you are suffering like me in this unbearable heat. Sorry if you are in the rain somewhere but you can pretend it’s sunny and cheer yourself up with this refreshingly tropical drink if you like.

When it is this hot all I seem to do all day is drink water. Water is good but I do get a bit bored of it after a while. Agua Frescas are fruit based non alcoholic punches popular in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is basically just pureed fruit with water, lime juice and honey to sweeten. This is a non alcoholic version because I wanted something refreshing to drink during the day but I’m sure a little vodka or rum would make it into a lovely cocktail.

I kept the watermelon rinds to make watermelon pickle. The recipe will follow in my next post.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Makes 1 big pitcher/jug. Vegan, gluten-free

Prep time: 20 mins

  • 2 kg (4 pound) watermelon (1 small/med)
  • 250-300 ml (1+1/2 cups) cold water
  • 1 +1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 +1/2 tsp honey
  • ice cubes, lime slices & mint sprigs to serve

Cut the watermelon into quarters then slice into inch wide triangles/wedges. Cut the flesh from the rind leaving a little pink on (if you would like to make watermelon pickle with them). Blend the flesh in four batches with about 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) of water each time until smooth.

Carefully pour the blended watermelon through a sieve into your pitcher/jug and press out any extra juice from the pulp collected in the sieve with a spatula. Continue with the rest. You may want to add a little more water to the finished juice.

Add the lime juice and honey, mix well and taste. Add more lime/honey as required. Store covered in the fridge. Serve over lots of ice with lime slices and sprigs of mint as garnish.

Keep the rinds for the watermelon pickle recipe that follows in my next post.

Salud!!

Rustic Plum and Lavender Galette

4 Jul Plum & Lavender Galette

This post is dedicated to my Auntie Pat who left us unexpectedly on Monday night.  She was an amazing woman who lived life to the full and was always there for everyone no matter what. She has left a huge void in all our lives and no one really knows what to do next.

A Shining Star

She was like the sun

And we were all little planets floating around in her orbit

Some  near, some far away

But all held together by the magnetism of her warmth and love

They say the sun is just a huge star

And that the stars died millions of years ago

But we can still see them at night

So as long as there are stars up in the sky

She, the sun, will never die

I used the same wholemeal olive oil pastry recipe that I used for my Fresh Fig & Goat’s Cheese Quiche but added a few tablespoons of sugar, reduced the salt and added some dried lavender instead of the rosemary and oregano.

I’ve been wanting to make a galette for a while now but when I saw this recipe with stunning pictures on Cafe Fernando I knew I had to copy it. Arranging the plums like this is not as difficult as it looks but slicing them is a little fiddly, you need quite firm plums if you pardon the expression.

This amount of pastry made enough for one large galette and two mini individual ones. I cut around a large dinner plate for the large and two bread plates or saucers for the mini ones. I made a mini fig galette a mini plum. You could use nectarines, peaches, apples, pears or apricots too. Just try to keep them in one layer so the fruit doesn’t get too wet and make the pastry soggy.

Rustic Plum & Lavender Galette

Makes 1 large plus two mini individual galettes. Vegan.

Pastry recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini. Filling from Cafe Fernando

Prep time: 35 mins Cooking time 45 mins

  • 250 g wholemeal or spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chopped dried lavender (optional)
  • 2 tbsp raw or soft brown sugar
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water

Mix the flour, salt, sugar & lavender (if using) in a large bowl then slowly add the oil mixing/mashing it in with a fork until crumbly. Add an ice-cube to the water and slowly pour it (not the ice-cube) into the flour and mix it in with the fork until just absorbed then bring it together with one hand kneading a little just until it forms a cohesive ball. Do not over work or it will be tough.

Roll it out on a lightly floured surface, turning it quarter turns as you go to stop it sticking, to the correct size about 2-3 mm thick. Flour your largest dinner plate, turn it onto the pastry and cut around it so you have a large circle. Carefully remove the circle to a piece of baking parchment and put in the fridge for 30 minutes while you prep the filling. Make mini ones with the leftover pastry using small bread plates or saucers.

  • plums (I used about 8 or 9 small ones and a couple of figs for the mini galette)
  • 2 tbsp or more raw or brown sugar (depending how sweet, or not the plums are)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp ground almonds (optional) I used this with the figs to soak up their juices
  • olive oil
  • apricot or plum jam
  • water

Prepare your fruit by halving, removing the stones and slicing them into 3- 5 mm thick pieces. They don’t have to be perfect, it’s easier if the fruit is underripe.

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Place the pastry circle on the baking paper on a baking tray. Leaving a border around the edge of about 1+ 1/2 inches clear, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar (plus the tablespoon of ground almonds for juicier fruit) evenly over the base of the pastry circle.

Overlap the fruit in a circle all around the outside edge inside the border. Then make another circle of overlapping fruit, going in the opposite direction, just inside the first one. Finish off with a mini circle going the same direction as the first one in the middle of the circle. (see pictures above).

Start to carefully roll up the edge of the pastry towards the fruit turning the tart (or paper) as you go around until it’s all done. Brush the edges of the pastry with olive oil and sprinkle the sugar all over the fruit. Use more if you think the fruit is very tart.

Bake for 40 -45 minutes (25-30 for the minis) until the pastry is golden and the fruit cooked. Leave to cool for 10 minutes. Make the glaze by melting a few tablespoons of seedless jam in a pan with a few tablespoons of water until it forms a smooth syrup. Paint this all over the fruit and serve the galette warm. Some vanilla ice cream or  creme fraiche would be nice to go with it but it is good on its own too.

I just wish she could be here to enjoy it.

For you Auntie Pat

With Lots of Love

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