Tag Archives: apricots

Homemade Granola with Sunflower Seeds

1 Jul

As promised, I have finally got around to posting more photos and a recipe inspired by our recent trip to Vejer de la Frontera.

My lasting memory of Vejer will be the fields and fields of sunflowers that you can see wherever you go. I made “The Washer Up” stop the car on numerous occasions so that I could jump out like a mad woman and take some photos.

Their unpretentious lanky beauty and smiley faces spread a joy that is so infectious you just have to get amongst them. I wanted to share that with you.

My other lasting memory will be of the gorgeous breakfasts we ate every morning at the hotel we stayed in, Casa La Siesta. It started off with granola with yoghurt and fruit….

Followed by homemade bread with tomato and avocado…..

Maybe just a little piece of  banana bread….

And then a lie down to recover, it’s so difficult to say no when it’s all there in front of you!

I knew my first Vejer inspired recipe when I came home would have to be something with sunflower seeds. Just so I could post all my sunflower pictures. Either the sunflower seed bread crackers(above) we had at Castilleria (one of our two favourite restaurants in Vejer) or making my own granola. The granola won, I had to get back to being gluten-free after overdosing on holiday and also because it uses sunflower oil as well as the seeds.

If you have never made your own granola before (like me), you will be surprised at how easy it is and how much better it tastes than the store-bought stuff. It is also much better for you, no refined sugar just honey and maple syrup (or miel de cana) for sweetness. Adapt it to suit your taste by using whatever nuts, seeds and dried fruit you like.

Homemade Granola with Sunflowers Seeds Recipe

Makes a lot, gluten-free, vegetarian. Adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

  • 60 gr hazelnuts
  • 40 gr brazil nuts
  • 40 gr walnuts
  • 300 gr rolled oats
  • 60 gr flaked almonds
  • 60 gr sunflower seeds (unsalted)
  • 100 gr dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 60 gr dried cranberries
  • 60 gr moscatel raisins

For the Syrup

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 120 ml maple syrup or miel de cana
  • 120 ml honey

Preheat the oven to 140 C. Roughly chop the nuts and put in a large bowl with the seeds and oats. Mix well.

Mix the syrup ingredients together in a small pan and stir over a low heat until warmed through. Pour this over the seeds, nuts and oats and stir well with a wooden spoon until evenly coated.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola over it evenly. It should be in a layer no more than 1cm thick. Use two baking sheets if necessary.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning and mixing the granola 2 or 3 times. It should be a dark honey colour when it’s ready. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Don’t worry if it’s soft it will be crunchy when it cools.

Stir the dried fruit through the granola while it is still warm (not hot). Leave to cool completely on the tray and then transfer to an airtight container. Try not to eat it all off of the tray. It should keep for up to 2 weeks.

I kept some of the granola back without mixing it with the fruit because I want to use it as a crumble topping for a Fig & Almond Granola Crumble. I will be posting the recipe soon. In the meantime enjoy your granola mixed with yoghurt or sprinkled on top of some fresh fruit for breakfast.

Imagine that you are back in your favourite hotel….

Hasta Luego….

Orange Blossom and Almond Soft Oat Cookies

16 Apr

 It’s all about the orange blossom here at the moment. As soon as you walk out of the front door the smell hits you. An exotic floral fragrance that is just synonymous with spring in Andalucia.

These pretty little innocent white flowers give of such a powerful scent. We went for lunch last Sunday at Santiago’s restaurant. To be sat in the beautiful garden surrounded by orange trees and the delicious perfume of the blossom is a real treat. In fact every time the wind blew we were treated to a gentle rain of orange blossom petals. “Una lluvia de flor de azahar” to quote Mery the waitress….

I have to admit that I did have a few spoonfuls of a dessert on Sunday, I couldn’t resist. It was a frozen mango margarita cheesecake I think. Whatever it was, it was delicious. I am doing really well with the detox but I do crave something sweet occasionally. I’ve been wanting to make an oaty biscuit/cookie without flour, butter or added sugar. It’s quite a challenge but I think I’ve cracked it with these. The sweetness comes from some Orange Blossom honey that I bought from a local producer. I used ground almonds instead of flour because I love the flavour and moistness it gives to the biscuit and also because we are surrounded by almond trees.


Orange blossom & almond is a classic combination used in a lot of Middle Eastern desserts and pastries. The orange blossom water I used to flavour the biscuits has an unusual, exotic floral taste that is unlike anything else. It perfectly compliments the almonds, dried apricots and dates that I added to follow on with Moorish theme. Pistachios & rosewater would be lovely too if you can’t get orange blossom water.

The other new ingredient I used instead of butter or milk was Crema de Almendras (Almond cream). I’m not sure if it is called almond cream in English or whether it is almond paste/butter. As you can see from the image below it is a thick creamy almond paste. I bought the diabetic version which is sugar-free but is made with fructose so it is sweet.

The result is a soft, chewy almondy biscuit with a background of orange blossom. Delicious, and great for a healthy snack when you need something sweet.

Orange Blossom & Almond Soft Oat Cookies

makes about 20, vegan, gluten-free

  • 150 gr (2 cups) rolled oats
  • the juice of half an orange
  • 3 tsp orange flower water
  • 120 gr (1/3 cup) orange blossom (or whatever) honey (oil the measure first so that the honey slips out easily)
  • 25 gr (1/3 cup) flaked almonds
  • 175 gr (2/3 cup)crema de almendras (sugar-free almond paste)
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda (or baking soda)
  • 8 dates, stoned and chopped
  • 8 dried apricots, chopped
  • 25 gr (1/4 cup)ground almonds
  • a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Soak the oats in the orange juice and orange blossom water while you prepare the other ingredients. Mix everything together in a large bowl until well combined.

Line a baking sheet (or 2) with baking paper and drop heaped teaspoons of the mixture on the tray(s). You will need two trays or to do it twice. You should have 9 – 12 on each tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack if you can wait that long….

Serve under an orange tree or next to some flowers with a pot of mint tea for the full Moorish taste explosion……

Moment of Gratitude or “Things that made me smile today…”

Our Hydrangeas, aren’t they gorgeous…

Our Aloe Vera plants flowering and the shadows on the wall…

Stunning!!

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