Archive | December, 2012

A Merry Christmas with Mince Pies

24 Dec Mince Pies

Mince Pies

Just a quick hello before I go out to the post office, supermarket, Moroccan shop, forest for more cones and make more of these mince pies. The list is actually a lot longer than that but I am out of bed before 10 am (unheard of) and am not going to get stressed about anything today. I have promised myself. And breathe…

Mince Pies

This is my recipe for mince pies and I have to say that, in my opinion, they beat any shop bought ones by a mile. They are better because: number one they contain Amaretto almond liqueur and anything tastes better with Amaretto in it. They also contain chopped toasted almonds for a bit of crunch, dried cranberries, mandarin zest and, the special ingredient, crystallised ginger. Make these and you’ll never go back to shop bought I promise. Even if you have an ever-increasing list of things to do….

Mince Pie

In the pictures and the recipe below I have used shop bought puff pastry but I have also made a lovely batch with this spelt flour pastry recipe adding a teaspoon of mixed spice to the flour. If you don’t have all the different dried fruits you can just  use the more traditional, raisins and sultanas.

Marvelous Mince Pies Recipe

Makes 12- 16 pies, vegetarian

  • 1 pack frozen puff pastry (defrosted)
  • 4 Tbsp molasses/miel de cana/maple syrup
  • 75 ml sweet sherry or port
  • 250 g moscatel raisins
  • 50 g dried figs
  • 50 g dried apricots, chopped
  • 50 g medjool dates without stones
  • 50 gr dried cranberries
  • 50 g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 mandarin, zest first & then juice
  • about 50ml Amaretto (or Cointreau is nice)you may need to add more
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • about 100 -150 gr chopped toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • olive oil for brushing
  • icing sugar for dusting

In a large pan, dissolve the molasses/miel de cana in the sherry over a gentle heat. Then add the dried fruits, crystallised ginger, spices, zest and  juice of the mandarin and the Amaretto. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 15 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed stirring occasionally. You may need to add more amaretto if it is absorbed quickly.

Add the almond & vanilla extracts, honey and the nuts. Stir well to combine everything and leave the mixture to cool in a bowl.

When the mixture is cool (very important or the pastry won’t work), preheat the oven to 200 degrees and oil & flour your muffin tins.

Roll out your first piece of puff pastry to a thickness of 2mm (leave the other piece in the fridge). Cut out 6 circles of about 9 or 10 cm diameter and 6 tops of about 7 cm diameter, you may have to re roll the pastry and may get a few more than 6 if you do. Push the larger circles into the muffin tins and fill each pastry case with a dessertspoonful of the mixture. Brush the edges of the pastry base with a little oil and then top with the smaller circles. Push the edges together to seal.

Make a little slit in the top of each with a sharp knife and brush with a little olive oil (or egg wash) and bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and puffy. Keep an eye on them they cook quickly. Leave to cool for a few minutes then take them out of the tin. Leave the tin to cool down completely before rolling out your next batch.

Dust with icing sugar just before serving. You can serve hot, warm or room temperature with cream, ice cream or a glass of Amaretto on the side….

MInce Pies

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Felices Fiestas!

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Wholemeal Spelt Flour Soda Bread Recipe

12 Dec Spelt Flour Soda Bread

Spelt Flour Soda Bread

First of all I am sorry for my lack of posts recently. It’s not that I don’t have anything to share with you it’s that I haven’t had the time. I have been busy writing, testing and perfecting recipes for my cookery workshops. I have one this Saturday which is a Festive Vegetarian Middle Eastern Menu, some of the recipes from which I will share with you soon.

Spelt Flour Soda Bread

We have also just finalised the timetable of workshops for the first three months of 2013. As well as my Vegetarian Mezze Course (the next one being on Sun. 20th Jan 10-2 pm) and my  Healthy Baking Workshop savoury and sweet (the next one is on Sun 3rd Feb 10-2pm), I have also introduced two new ones.

The first new workshop is the second in the series of Healthy Baking courses; Healthy Baking with Chocolate . The first of which is being held on Sat. 2nd March 5 – 9pm.

Splel Flour Soda Bread

The second new workshop I have introduced is called Soups of the World. The first one is on Sat. 26th Jan 5 – 9pm. After all the Christmas excess everyone’s thoughts turn towards lighter and healthier food (and bodies!)

Soups are one of my favourite things to make and eat especially in winter. In this workshop you will learn how to make your own veg stock then we embark on a culinary journey through Thailand, Turkey, Italy & France taking some of the most exciting flavour combinations in the world and converting them into delicious soups, some classics and some more unusual.

Thai Squash Wonton Soup

an aromatic Thai style broth with floating delicate wontons filled with sweet roasted squash, herbs & spices

Turkish Ezogelin Corbasi

a hearty red lentil soup with rice & bulgur flavoured with fresh mint and sumac (with a tragic love story behind it)

Italian Winter Minestrone

the classic “big one” a rustic bowl of goodness topped with a delicious homemade basil pesto

French Onion Soup

deep, dark & sweet caramelised onions with a touch of sherry topped with toasted melting Gruyère croutons

Wholemeal Spelt Flour Soda Bread

So what do you need to go with all those soups? Bread of course.

Some of you who have been following this blog for a while may already know about my irrational fear of yeast. I can’t make it work properly, ever. Whether it is my well-known impatience, hot hands or even the altitude (We live up a mountain and apparently that can affect the “rise”) I don’t know. And I don’t care anymore because I have found the “get out” that is this soda bread.

Made with soda (obvs) instead of yeast, you have no waiting, no kneading and no disappointment. It’s just dry ingredients, wet ingredients, mix and bake. Hooray.

Wholemeal Spelt Flour Soda Bread

Wholemeal Spelt Flour Soda Bread Recipe

Makes 1 small loaf, vegan, wheat-free. Adapted from The Healthy Chef

  • 250 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 25 g (4 Tbsp) flax meal (ground flax seeds) if not add 25 g more flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate soda (or baking soda)
  • 220 ml (1 cup) oat milk (or soy/rice/almond)
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey (or molasses/miel de cana/agave syrup)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • sunflower seeds/flax seeds/sesame seeds for topping
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Mix the flour, flaxmeal, salt and soda in one bowl. In another bowl, whisk the honey, olive oil, lemon juice and milk until well combined.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix it all together with your fingers or a whisk. It should be quite sticky like a scone dough. Bring it together and tip it out onto a floured surface and form into a round or oval loaf shape.
Transfer to the lined baking sheet, cut a small cross in the top of the bread with a sharp knife, brush with a little extra milk and scatter over your seeds.
Bake for about 25 minutes then lower the heat to 160C and bake for another 10-15 minutes until browned and cooked.
Cool for at least 10 minutes. It slices better if it is completely cool.
Spelt Soda Bread
This is a lovely, soft and quite crumbly nutty bread that is also gorgeous toasted. If you want to try a fruitier version which is brilliant for breakfast try my Flax Seed Raisin & Date Breakfast Loaf too.
Enjoy!!
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Apple, Vanilla and Cinnamon Spelt Flour Galette

5 Dec Apple Cinnamon Vanilla Galette

Apple Vanilla Galette

Apples, vanilla and cinnamon, enough said really. Heavenly combination whether in a tart or a scented candle. And if you bake the tart you can save the candle for when guests come round because this fills the house with its sweet perfume.

Apple Galette

Or make the tart when guests come round and selfishly save the candle for when you are cosied up on the sofa with a glass of (mulled) wine, perhaps. Either way it’s a winner and cheaper than a scented candle.

Apple Cinnamon Vanilla Galette

I have perfected my sweet spelt flour olive oil pastry recipe using honey instead of sugar so not only is it delicious and beautiful it is also good for you.  This recipe has no sugar, no butter, no dairy and no eggs.  The base is spread with a layer of Kellie’s vanilla apple sauce that I also used in this recipe before overlapping the thinly sliced apples in concentric circles and folding up the edges of the pastry.

Apple Spelt Galette

Apple, Vanilla & Cinnamon Galette Recipe

Makes 1 large galette, Vegan.

For the Vanilla Apple Sauce

  • 500 g apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in small pan,  bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 mins until soft. Puree, taste adjust honey and vanilla to your liking. Leave to cool.

For the Pastry

  • 250 g wholemeal spelt flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey/agave syrup
  • up to 100 ml cold water

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl then slowly drizzle in the oil and honey, mixing & mashing it into the flour with a fork until evenly combined and crumbly.

Slowly pour in the water a bit at a time mixing it with the fork until it comes together (you may not need all the water) then bring it together with your hand, kneading just a little until it forms a cohesive ball. Do not overwork it or it will be tough. You can refrigerate it at this time if you have time.

Roll the pastry 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 the edges of your largest dinner plate and turn it onto the pastry then cut around it so you have  large circle. Carefully remove the circle (roll it onto a floured rolling-pin) and transfer it to the lined baking tray. Put it in the fridge while you prepare the apples. You can make mini ones with any leftover pastry using a saucer or side plate.

  • 2 small apples, peeled, cut into 1/8th wedges, cored then thinly sliced
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 or 4 tbsp vanilla apple sauce (see above)
  • honey/agave syrup
  • water
  • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190C.  Leaving a border around the edge of about 1 – 1 1/2 inches clear, spread about 4 tbsp of the apple sauce evenly over the base of the pastry circle.

Overlap the apple slices in a circle all around the outside edge just inside the border. Then make another overlapping circle of apples going the other direction just inside the first one. Finish off with a mini circle going the same direction as the first in the middle of the circle.

Carefully roll up the edges of the pastry towards the fruit turning the tart or paper as you go until it is all done. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little olive oil and drizzle and brush the apples with a little honey/agave syrup.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is cooked. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then melt a few tablespoons of honey in a small saucepan with a tablespoon of water until it forms a smooth syrup. Paint this all over the fruit to create a shiny glaze and serve the galette warm.

Apple Cinnamon Galette

This is one of the recipes from my Healthy Baking Workshop held a few weeks ago. My next workshop is on Saturday 15th December from 5pm – 9pm at Pepe Kitchen cookery school in Benalmadena, Malaga. I will be cooking and sharing  recipes from my Festive Christmas Party Menu with Middle Eastern flavour,  the perfect antidote to all that turkey. Great for a crowd, buffet or more intimate dinner party. Here is what we will be cooking….

………………

Spiced Cauliflower Soup with Chestnut Dukkah

Roasted Beetroot & Cumin Hummus with Toasted Flatbread Croutons

Lebanese Lentil Salad with Pomegranate, Fresh Herbs & Toasted Almonds

Sweet Potato, Feta & Coriander Filo Cigars with Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

Jewelled Pumpkin & Saffron Rice Pilaf with Cranberries, Pistachio & Chargrilled  Halloumi

and for dessert

Tarta de Santiago

a traditional light cake (gluten-free & dairy free) made with ground almonds flavoured with orange zest

served with an orange & mandarin sauce

……………………….

Tarta de Santiago

For more information and to reserve your place contact Pepe Kitchen directly.

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“French” Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons

2 Dec French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Crouton

It has turned really cold here now so soup is what I want for lunch every day and this is one of our favourites. I have actually managed to get the “caramelising onions” time down from the usual 90 minutes in most recipes to a much more realistic 30 minutes. I am always too hungry to wait that long and this way works perfectly for me.

OnionsPeeling and chopping onions is not the nicest of jobs but I have found that cutting off the root end of an onion and putting it on your head like a little hat stops you from crying so much. It looks really stupid and the top of your head smells of onion but much less mascara wastage I find. This tip was given to me by The Washer Up’s nephew Callum and it actually works. I think he spent a day of child slave labour in a Spanish kitchen peeling onions and that is what he learnt.

French Onion Soup

I should really call this Spanish Onion Soup as the only thing that is French about it is the Gruyère cheese on the crouton. That can easily be replaced by a nice mature Manchego which is what we normally do to be honest. The onions are local, organic, Spanish onions, the olive oil is local too and the sherry I use to deglaze the pan is as Spanish as you can get.

Gruyere Crouton“French” Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons Recipe

Serves 4-6 Vegetarian/Vegan without the cheese

  • 1 1/2 k onions, peeled & finely sliced into half moons
  • 2 0r 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 4 Tbsp sweet sherry
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1500 ml veg stock &/or water (I use 1 litre stock 1/2 litre water)
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp (vegetarian) Worcestershire sauce
  • baguette sliced
  • olive oil, salt & pepper
  • grated Gruyère (or manchego) cheese
  • thyme

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions, salt, sugar & bay leaves, stir to coat the onions in the oil, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes until softened.

Remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes, scraping the bottom to remove the brown bits until the onions are a deep dark golden brown colour.

Then add the flour, sherry and thyme. Scrape the bottom of the pan again to remove all the caramelised sweet bits and cook the sherry for a few minutes. Add the stock and water, season with salt & pepper, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning. Does it need more salt, more sugar or even more Worcestershire sauce?

Brush the baguette slices with olive oil, season with a little salt & pepper and toast under a hot grill until lightly browned. Top with a generous handful of grated cheese, a little thyme and put back under the grill to melt and brown slightly. If you have ovenproof soup dishes you could put the croutons topped with grated cheese directly in the soup, add another handful of cheese and put the whole lot back under the grill.

The Washer Up would not be impressed with that though, it makes a right mess of the bowls so we go for the safer option…

Serve the soup in warmed bowls with the melted cheesey croutons on top.

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons

Enjoy and Stay Warm!

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