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Lavender, Lemon and Honey Soft Oat Bars

9 Mar

We have a beautiful lavender on our roof terrace. I sometimes pick some to use as table settings. I wrap 3 or 4 stems with natural garden raffia and put it on a white serviette.

I store these in a draw with the serviettes so they always smell nice. After a while they do dry out, which isn’t a problem, but it got me thinking about cooking with lavender. When we had the restaurant we had a lamb dish on the menu with Lavender, Honey and Garlic. It always sold really well for an unusual dish.

I saw a recipe for Lavender and Lemon Pound Cake on Kitchen Operas which caught my eye. It looked beautiful and I have a huge bowl of lemons on my kitchen table. This was definitely the direction I wanted to go in but I didn’t feel like making a cake. The Washer Up likes to take sweet things to work to share with the others so when I saw a recipe for Honey Lavender Oatmeal Squares at The Bee & the Fruit in the Kitchen I decided to combine the lemon into that recipe and see how it turned out.

Lavender, Lemon & Honey Oat Bars

makes 9 – 12 mini bars/squares, vegetarian, sugar-free. Adapted from The Bee & The Fruit in the Kitchen & Tartelette

  • 75 gr wholemeal flour
  • 60 gr rolled oats
  • 50 gr almonds, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried lavender buds (make sure they are untreated)
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 55ml greek yogurt
  • 115 gr honey
  • the zest of 1 lemon (washed)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • a few drops of almond extract (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 180C and line a small baking tin with baking paper. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a jug and pour into the dry ingredients. Mix together well with a wooden spoon. Tip the mixture into the lined baking tin and pat it down so it is even. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly golden and leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting into 9 or 12 mini bars.

As you can see there is no butter or sugar in this recipe. The sweetness comes from the honey which makes this a healthy, not overly sweet, treat. The lemon & lavender work really well together as a flavour and aroma combination making these perfect for a grab & go breakfast or a mid afternoon pick me up snack.


The Washer Up said he prefers his snacks with sugar in but the other guys weren’t complaining. It’s funny to think of a group of builders snacking on healthy Lavender & Lemon Oat Bars with their afternoon cup of tea………….

These oat bars are featured in a sweet treats round up hosted by Lisa at Sweet as Sugar Cookies. Just click on the Sweets for a Saturday badge above and have a look around at some of the most delicious sweet things posted this week.

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk and Hazelnut Cookies at The Lakes

21 Feb

Wholemeal cookies taste really good and they are healthier. Don’t kid yourself though there’s still butter and sugar in there but chocolate is an antioxidant so that makes up for it – sort of!!  These were part of a picnic we took the lakes at El Chorro yesterday.

 Half an hour away at  Malaga Airport, millions of tourists arrive every year and get on a coach to Marbella or Fuengirola to spend a week or two on the Costa del Sol and fly home again completely unaware that this exists. Whether this is a great oversight by the Andalucian Tourist Board or whether they are purposefully keeping it a secret I don’t know. I wouldn’t blame them. At this time of year it is all but deserted except at the weekends when a few Malaguenos bring a picnic or some meat to barbeque.

It does get busier in the summer when we all escape the heat of the city or towns to swim in these freshwater lakes. There are campsites, picnic areas, public barbeques, canoeing, pedalos, and fantastic walks. It is great for kids and adults alike there’s something for everyone. Whether you like to do a lot or very little,  you can find your perfect spot here……

The colours are amazing. The bright turquoise of the lakes contrasting with the dusky pink terracotta soil and green patchwork landscape take your breath away every time you come. You never quite believe it’s real. 

The geology is stunning too. The Washer Up tells me this is sandstone (he studied Geology at university). Is it just me or does this (above) remind you of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona? You know the curved balconies?

The thing is they are not actually lakes. They are man-made reservoirs. Franco flooded the whole area, including some villages, to create the water reservoirs for Malaga. How something so beautiful can be man-made doesn’t make sense to me. Especially made by that man. It must have been the best thing he ever did…..

Anyway we found our picnic table with a view (above) and sat down to make our egg salad sandwiches…

If you want to know how to make a perfectly soft-boiled egg see my instructions here…..

Then we shared a cookie before going for walk around the lake and finding a sheltered sunny spot to read the paper. Does a Sunday get any better than that? I don’t think so, the cookies are pretty near perfect too….

Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk & Hazelnut Cookies

makes 18 – 24, vegetarian.  Adapted from a Culinate recipe

  • 380 gr wholemeal flour (I used self-raising because that was all I had and 1 tsp baking powder)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 225 gr cold unsalted butter, chopped
  • 140 gr brown sugar
  • 200 gr caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 gr plain chocolate (70%) roughly chopped into 1 cm chunks
  • 100 gr hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 175 C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sieve the flour, baking powders and salt into a large bowl. In another large bowl or food processor on low whisk/mix together the butter & sugars until blended, about 2 minutes. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl to get it all combined. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each one is combined. Mix in the vanilla, then slowly add the flour mixture until just combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides again.

Add 3/4 of the chopped chocolate & hazelnuts to the mix saving the rest for the tops. Mix until evenly distributed.  Take a heaped tablespoon of the batter and put it onto the lined baking sheet, pressing it down slightly. Leave about a 3 inch gap between each cookie, they spread like mad. You should only have about 6 cookies per sheet or they will all blend into each other. Sprinkle a little of the leftover chocolate & hazelnuts on top of each cookie and press in lightly. Put one sheet in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third. Bake for 10 minutes then swap the baking sheets around (top to bottom etc) and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cookies are a deep golden brown colour. Remove from the oven & leave to cool on a rack on the baking paper. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

These cookies are deliciously special enough to serve as a dessert, warm and chewy, straight out of the oven with a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream melting on top. Or leave to cool, store in an airtight container and they will firm up to a more crunchy everyday cookie.

Share them with friends or do like the Andalucian Tourist Board and make them your best kept secret……

Buen Provecho!

Panforte- Italian Chocolate, Fruit and Nut Cake

8 Feb

I know I’ve shown you pictures of the almond blossom before but I couldn’t resist showing you this one with the snow on the Sierra de las Nieves in the background. Sierra de las Nieves means  The Snowy Mountains…..

This picture was taken in Guaro while we were checking on a friend’s house there. This is the view from the end of the drive. Spectacular isn’t it. You can see why it’s called Cortijo de las Nieves with that view….

These beautiful almond trees are everywhere you look at the moment. They reminded me of a recipe I found at Corridor Kitchen that I have been meaning to make since Christmas. Panforte is an Italian chocolate, fruit & nut cake served in little squares with espresso coffee at breakfast, in the afternoon or after dinner. It’s kind of like a dense nutty brownie fruit cake combination. Rich, sticky, chewy and delicious- it’s a grown up thing and you need to try it…

Lauren’s recipe included crystallised pineapple as her Aussie twist on the classic. In the absence of pineapple I used crystallised ginger which goes really well with the chocolate and orange zest and gives it more of that grown up feeling. If you don’t like ginger leave it out. The dried cranberries were another addition of mine just because I had some in the cupboard and they work with the other flavours….

Panforte Recipe

makes about 12 -14 small squares/slices, vegetarian

  • 125 gr almonds, roughly chopped
  • 125 gr hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 60 gr stem ginger (crystallised or not) finely chopped
  • 60 gr dried cranberries (soaked for 15 minutes in boiling water) roughly chopped
  • 60 gr chopped mixed peel (I use the zest of 1 lemon & 1 orange)
  • 100 gr plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (good cocoa not hot chocolate powder)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or mixed spice)
  • 60 gr dark chocolate, chopped
  • 75 gr sugar
  • 175 gr honey

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Toast the almonds and hazelnuts in a dry pan if they are not toasted and coarsely chop. Sieve the flour, cinnamon and cocoa in to a large bowl and stir to combine. Add in the nuts, fruit, zest and ginger and stir again.

Melt the honey and sugar over a medium low heat, when just about to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until thick and syrupy, Take it off the heat, leave for one minute then tip in the chopped chocolate and stir until melted. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix everything together very well. It is a very stiff, sticky mass and quite hard on the arms but keep going it comes together eventually!

Line a 20cm cake tin or small baking tray with parchment paper, and cut another circle of parchment the same size as the tin. Tip the mixture into the tin, put the extra piece of parchment on top and press it down and spread it out until it is flat and even. Leave the parchment on the top and bake for about 35 minutes or until it has just lost its sheen.

Leave to cool on a wire rack before cutting into slices or squares with a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container.

 Feel free to substitute the cranberries for sultanas or use glace cherries instead. She recommends glace apricot as well as the glace pineapple. I think glace mango would be amazing with the chocolate too maybe with some macadamia nuts as well……….

Enjoy!!

Banana, Date and Hazelnut Oatmeal Cookies

2 Feb

 

These cookies are like little mouthfuls of happiness. Imagine a cross between a banana bread and an oaty flapjack, add in some sweet sticky dates and crunchy hazelnuts and smile. Smile because there’s no flour and no added sugar but you really wouldn’t know. Soft, sweet, delicious and good for you, now come on, how often does that happen…..?

Banana, Date & Hazelnut Oatmeal Cookies

make about 16-18, vegetarian, gluten-free. Adapted from a Kahakai Kitchen recipe

  • 65 gr butter, melted
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 8-10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 35 gr (2/3 cup) rolled oats
  • 65 gr (1/2 cup) toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped (or other nuts)
  • 65 gr (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 65 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • a few drops of almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  •  1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 18o C and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Mash the bananas in a large bowl with a potato masher or fork, and stir in the melted butter and vanilla. In another bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, dates, coconut, ground almonds, baking powder & salt. Then add this to the banana mix and stir until just combined.

Take tablespoons of the mix and put them on the lined baking tray a few inches apart, flattening them out slightly.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack with a spatula to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Serve with tea or coffee, as a mid morning/afternoon treat or as a lunchbox filler. The house will smell amazing while these are cooking, your mouth will water and people will befriend you….

 Beware they are addictive and don’t last very long, you have been warned…..!

It’s that time again, the end of another month and Nancy at Spicie Foodie hosts a round-up of January Best Recipes from around the food blogging community. My Thai Squash Wonton Soup is featured as well as loads more delicious recipes with beautiful photos. Just click on the YBR (Your Best Recipe) badge above and have a look around….

 I would just like to thank Mateja at Indulging Life for giving me my first Stylish Blogger Award and for her continuing support and foodie friendship. Below is a list of blogs that I think deserve this award as recognition for their creativity, passion and, of course, delicious food! 

 Mateja @ Induging Life

Lindsay @ Kitchen Operas

Lauren @ Corridor Kitchen

Roxan @ Kitchen Meditation

Denise @ Bread Expectations

Tiffany @ Como Water

The Bee & The Fruit in the Kitchen

Nadia @ For the Love of Yum

Jouamma @ Taste of Beirut

Medeja @ Cranberry Jam

Kita @ Pass The Sushi

Nancy @ Spicie Foodie

Tes @ Tes at Home

Kara @ Happy When Not Hungry

Thanks everyone for the constant inspiration, keep it coming!! Copy the award above to display on your blog if you want and you can pass it on to people who you think deserve some recognition..!

Granola Flapjacks

22 Jan

 

I don’t know what the difference is between a granola bar and a flapjack but this is a mixture of the two. It has the oaty base of a flapjack, the nuts, seeds & dried fruit of a granola bar and it’s square like a flapjack. You can put whatever you like in them – I used almonds, hazelnuts, coconut and some mince-pie filling I had left over from Christmas. You could use any nuts, seeds and dried fruit you have around like dried cranberries, macadamia nuts, dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, sultanas or even chocolate chips….

Granola Flapjacks Recipe

makes 16, vegetarian adapted from a Nigella recipe I got from Wilde in the Kitchen

For this recipe I have used cup measurements because that is the amount you need and the weight depends on the nut/fruit you are using. If you don’t have cup measures just use a teacup and use the same one for everything.

  • 2 & 1/2 cups rolled porridge oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup dried cranberries/sultanas/ chopped apricots or a mix
  • 1 cup hazelnuts or seeds
  • 1 can condensed milk about 45o gr

Preheat the oven to 130C. In a big bowl mix together all the dry ingredients. In a small saucepan heat up the condensed milk until it is a more pourable liquid. Pour it over the dry ingredients and combine everything together well with a wooden spoon. Line a 9 x13 inch, or similar, baking dish with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Tip the mixture into the baking dish, pressing it down gently until evenly distributed. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Allow to cool completely, on a wire rack, before cutting into 16 squares. Store in an airtight container with baking parchment between the layers.

These are so easy to make and there is no flour, butter, golden syrup or added sugar to worry about –  just the condensed milk (it’s calcium)!! Great for kids and adults for breakfast, snacks or afternoon tea…..

Tea anyone?….

    

Beautiful Almond Blossom and Amaretti Biscuits

18 Jan

You can tell that Spring is just around the corner when the almond trees start blossoming. All of a sudden from nothing and out of nowhere they are everywhere. Beautiful candy floss trees with their barely pink flowers brighten the landscape with hints of pink fairy dust….

 Each tree has its own personality and unique beauty….

Closer up the blossoms are white with fuchsia pink centres and the nut grows underneath it…

With all this inspiration I had to make something with almonds. Something delicate, beautiful & light to match the almond blossoms. These  biscuits are not strictly speaking ” Amaretti ” biscuits they are called Ricciarelli. A deliciously light, moist almondy biscuit from Siena, flavoured with orange zest. The lightness comes from them being made with ground almonds, sugar &  egg white. There is no flour or butter in this recipe…..

Ricciarelli (Almond Biscuits from Siena)

Adapted from  The Travelers Lunchbox  Recipe

Makes about 16, vegetarian

  • 150 gr ground almonds
  • 140 gr caster sugar
  • about 75 gr icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • the zest of  1 orange
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  •  about 1 tsp orange juice

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sieve the ground almonds into a bowl to get rid of any big lumps. Mix in the caster sugar, 50 gr of the icing sugar, the baking powder and orange zest until well combined. Beat the egg white in a clean bowl to soft peaks then stir it into the almond mixture. Mash everything with a wooden spoon, add the almond extract and the orange juice and mix it all together until you have an almondy paste like in this photo below.

Put the remaining icing sugar on a small plate (you may need more). Take out a small amount of the paste and roll it into a ball, in the palm of your hand, about the size of a walnut. Roll it slightly to form an oval (almond) shape and roll it in the icing sugar, flattening it out slightly. Put it on the lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the almond paste leaving enough room in between each one for them to spread a little.

Sieve over the rest of the icing sugar and leave at room temperature to dry out for about 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.  Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden. They will still be meltingly soft in the middle. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving and store in an airtight container.

Serve after dinner with coffee or as an afternoon sweet treat..

These are the best almond biscuits I have ever tasted. Moist and chewy in the middle like a marzipan melting moment. They are really easy to make too. Everyone would be really impressed if you were to make these for a dinner party and they would also make lovely gifts. Just remember about the drying time of 2 hours, it may seem like a pain. I can’t stand waiting either, especially for these, but they are definitely worth the wait…..!

Sweet Oat Biscuits on a Hilltop

12 Jan

The Washer Up has been nagging me to make Oat Biscuits for ages. He used to make them with his mum when he was little. I’ve never made them before. They are similar to Flapjacks I suppose but not as chewy and a little healthier. We all crave something sweet sometimes and these biscuits are better than most and because of the oats you are full for longer. Great as a quick grab & go breakfast or as a snack to keep your sugar levels up on a long walk uphill…………..

They are really easy to make, perfect for kids and big kids to make together. They remind me of chunkier Hobnobs and I used to love Hobnobs. The Washer Up is very pleased with them too, phew!!

I got the recipe from a lovely blog called Gin & Crumpets don’t you just love that name….

Sweet Oat Biscuits

makes about 12-14, vegetarian

  • 200 gr rolled porridge oats
  • 110 gr room temp. butter plus extra for greasing
  • 75 gr brown sugar
  • 110 gr plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • about 3 tbsp whole milk

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and rub it with butter. Put a frying pan over a medium heat and toast the oats in the dry pan until golden and toasty, about 5 – 10 minutes.  Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy then sieve in the flour and pinch of salt. Add the oats and milk and stir until everything is well combined. Scoop up small handfuls of the mixture and roll into walnut sized balls. Put on the greased baking sheet and press down with you fingertips. Press the edges in if they start to crack slightly.

Bake for about 15- 17 minutes until golden. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. They are great on their own or with a cup of tea and nice as biscuits for a cheese board as well. Bring your own view…

    
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