Tag Archives: cranberry

Fresh Cranberry and Chestnut Gingerbread Scones

30 Dec

These are gorgeous. I had to share them with you quickly before the festive season is over and they are kind of irrelevant.

I bought a punnet of fresh cranberries just before Christmas because I had never seen or tried fresh ones before. When I got them home I was sort of unsure about what to do with them. Cranberry sauce was too boring, I wanted something where you can taste the cranberry in its natural state and feel the texture.

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Christmas Gift Biscotti with Chocolate and Cranberries

21 Dec

 

We’ve just been loaned a Nespresso coffee machine which is very exciting! We only drink decaf as caffeine sends The Washer Up a bit loopy but the decaf options are great. We are trying the Intenso the Lungo and the normal decaffeinato. They are all good but the Intenso is a bit Intenso for me…

All this coffee drinking gives me a really good excuse to make some biscotti. You have to have a biscotti with a coffee and they also make fantastic Christmas gifts. I thought I’d “Christmas” up the original recipe by adding chocolate and cranberries but you can leave them out or add chestnuts or hazelnuts instead. Don’t be scared this is a really easy recipe that you can impress all your friends with when they pop round for coffee….

Christmas Biscotti Recipe

makes about 25- 30 biscotti vegetarian

  • 25o gr plain flour
  •  1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250 gr caster sugar
  •  2 eggs , beaten
  • grated zest of 1 mandarin
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 110 gr toasted almonds, chopped (you can toast them in a dry pan or in the oven)
  • 65 gr dried cranberries
  • 65 gr dark chocolate, chopped
  • 

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and toast the almonds if necessary.  Leave to cool and chop roughly. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, add the sugar, eggs, zest, vanilla & almond extracts, the nuts, cranberries & chocolate. Mix everything together well with a wooden spoon. Flour your hands and the worksurface well and divide the mixture into two. Roll the first half of the mixture into a long sausage/log with your hands. (Start with both hands together in the middle and work your way out rolling). Roll the sausage to the length of your baking sheet and transfer it over to the lined baking sheet, flattening it out slightly. Repeat with the other half of the mixture. Make sure you leave space in between the two logs for them to spread.

Cook in the preheated oven for 25 -30 minutes until firm. Remove the tray from the oven, lower the heat to 150 degrees and leave them to cool slightly.

Remove the biscotti loaves from the tray and cut them into diagonal fingers about 2cm wide, put them back on the tray, cut side up and back in the oven for about 15 minutes to dry out completely.

You can also serve these after dinner with coffee or a glass of dessert wine (classically vin santo) to dip them in…

A great way to wrap homemade gifts is in clear cellophane (sometimes printed with snowflakes etc) which you can buy in most “euro” shops here in Spain. I rolled up 6 biscotti in the cellophane then tied each end with raffia (to make a christmas cracker shape). I tucked a few sprigs of lavender in the rafia bow because we have some growing on our roof terrace that smells lovely…..

I also wrapped my Mandarin jam( See recipe here) gifts in cellophane with a pink gingham napkin tied around the lid!!

I love it!!!

Festive Season Spanakopita with chestnut and cranberry

18 Nov

Spanakopita is a Greek spinach & feta cheese filo pie sometimes with pine nuts & raisins added. I wanted to give it a Christmas twist so it could be a stunning vegetarian Christmas dinner option. The chestnuts and dried cranberries (craisins) were calling me and made perfect seasonal replacements for the pine nuts & raisins.

The chestnuts were a gift from our friends Andrew & Rafa who invited us to dinner on Sunday evening. They have a beautiful country house just outside a small village called Guaro which is about 20 minutes from where we live. Andrew has been following my blog and wanted to try cooking one of my recipes while I was there to supervise him (He is not a confident cook!)

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This is pool area and the views are 360 degrees- stunning ..

The house has a really cosy feel to it and there was roaring fire burning in the fireplace when we arrived to take away the chill of that fresh mountain air.

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They made us feel so welcome and the place was so comfortable that I really did not want to move from the sofa to the kitchen, but I did, occasionally!!

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Andrew chose to cook my recipe for Caramelized Shallot & Goat’s Cheese Tarte Tatin which turned out really well, it’s a bit nerve-wracking watching someone else cook from your recipe, too much responsibility!!

We had some puff pastry left over so we made some Parmesan Cheese Straws as well which were a great aperitivo with  a glass of cava. They are really easy to make you just cut the puff pastry into thin strips, sprinkle with grated parmesan, hold both ends of a strip and twist one end towards you and the other end away from you. Sprinkle with a bit more parmesan  and bake for about 10 -15 minutes at 200 degrees.

We had a wonderful evening and this was where we enjoyed our breakfast on the terrace with that amazing view….

This stunning country cottage is available for holiday rentals and I would thoroughly recommend it, the attention to detail is second to none. For more information see Andrew’s blog at www.andaluciadiary.com which is an insider’s guide to Andalucia and beyond with really great information about where to stay, where to eat and what to do.

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Anyway, back to the Christmas Spanakopita. The inspiration came from the chestnuts Andrew & Rafa gave us as we were leaving.

I have been thinking about a vegetarian christmas option for a while but nothing has excited me until this. It has all of my favourite things, feta, spinach, fresh herbs and the addition of the chestnuts & cranberries makes it  really special. The good thing about this dish is that you can make a big baking dish size pie and even if there is only one vegetarian to serve it is even more delicious cold which means you can serve it for an evening buffet or as part of your  Boxing Day lunch.

Chestnut & Cranberry Spanakopita Recipe

  • 1 packet of filo pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  •  a bag of fresh spinach (about 350 gr)
  • a knob of butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp)
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 50 gr dried cranberries
  • 75 gr peeled chestnuts chopped
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • about 75 ml cream
  •  120 gr feta cheese crumbled
  • 120 gr grated cheese (parmesan, manchego or cheddar or a mixture)

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, fry the onion until translucent, add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes then add the spinach. Stir and cover with a lid, leave to wilt for about 2 minutes stirring occasionally. When the spinach has wilted tip away any water then add the herbs and spices salt & pepper, stir to combine and leave to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix together the beaten eggs, cream and cheeses in a large bowl. Then add the  wilted spinach (minus any liquid), cranberries and chopped chestnuts and stir well until combined.

Line a rectangular baking tin/dish about the same size as the filo pastry sheets with some baking paper. Then layer 3 or 4 sheets of filo in the baking dish, brushing each sheet with a little oil. Pour the mixture onto the pastry and spread it out evenly. Cover with the remaining sheets of filo (5 or 6) tucking it down the sides if necessary and brushing each sheet with olive oil.

Brush the top sheet with olive oil, sprinkle with a little water and bake for 40 – 50 minutes until browned.

Serve, cut into squares or wedges, with all the Christmas trimmings or just with some boiled new potatoes in minted butter. (Remember to remove the baking paper from the bottom!)

Leave the rest to cool and serve slices as part of a buffet. This is one of those vegetarian dishes that everyone is going to wish they had, so it is always good to have some left over…..

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