Tag Archives: healthy

Chocolate, Hazelnut and Date Caramel Tart with an Almond Crust

5 Feb

Vegan Chocolate & Hazelnut Caramel Tart

This tart is amazing. Seriously gorgeous, and it’s vegan and gluten-free. It tastes like Millionaires Shortbread with nuts in.

Chocolate date Caramel Hazelnut Tart

There is a crumbly nutty crust made with ground almonds and coconut oil then a layer of date caramel (new favourite thing) filled with toasted hazelnuts. Then it is finished off with a layer of dark and delicious chocolate ganache and a sprinkling of chopped nuts. It’s chewy, sweet, crunchy and crumbly at the same time and it has no butter no refined sugar and no flour. Do you love me?

Chocolate Hazelnut Date Caramel Tart

Be warned though, it is very addictive and quite rich. Like that could be a bad thing. You have to make it just to let your friends and family know how delicious vegan desserts can be. No one would guess and they will all want the recipe.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Date Caramel Tart

This is one of the recipes from my Healthy Baking with Chocolate Workshop, the next one of which is on Saturday 2nd March from 5pm – 9pm at the Pepe Kitchen Cookery School in Benalmadena, Malaga.

At this workshop I will be demonstrating how to use olive oil and coconut oil instead of butter in baking as well as showing how to use wholemeal spelt flour and ground almonds instead of bleached white flour. We will also be using honey, maple syrup, molasses and dates instead of sugar for natural sweetness and oat milk replaces cow’s milk and cream.

The chocolate we use is either 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate or pure cocoa powder.

We will be making and tasting:

  • Wholemeal Chocolate Chunk and Almond Cookies made with spelt flour & coconut oil
  • Chocolate, Date & Walnut Truffles with Coconut: delicious little bites of energy & protein
  • Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling: made with spelt flour & coconut oil
  • Moist Chocolate & Orange Cake made with whole oranges & ground almonds
  • Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart with ground almond crust

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Tart

Vegan Chocolate, Hazelnut & Date Caramel Tart Recipe

Serves 8, Vegan, Gluten-Free. Adapted from Gourmande in the Kitchen

  • 250 g (2 cups) ground almonds
  • a pinch of salt (Himalayan if possible)
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup or miel de cana
  • 4 Tbsp (60 ml) organic unrefined coconut oil, melted

Oil a 9 inch tart tin, loose bottomed if possible. Put the ground almonds & salt in a bowl, add the maple syrup/miel de cana and melted coconut oil and use a fork to blend it together until it is well combined and resembles crumble mix, a few minutes.

Tip this into the tart tin and press it out all over the base and up the sides firmly & evenly with your fingers. Prick all over the base with a fork. Put in the fridge for a t least 20 minutes. Then preheat the oven to 175 C and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden but not too dark. Leave to cool while you make the filling.

  • 10 Medjool dates, soaked in 120 ml (1/2 cup) warm water
  • 2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  •  a pinch of salt (Himalayan)
  • about 110 g (1 cup) toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Remove the stones and blend the soaked dates with the soaking liquid, melted coconut oil, salt & vanilla until smooth, thick and creamy. Stir through 3/4 of the chopped hazelnuts and then pour/scrape the mixture into the cooled tart case. Spread it out evenly with a spatula. Put in the fridge to set while you make the chocolate layer.

  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup/miel de cana
  • 4 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 50 g raw (1/2 cup) pure cocoa/cacao powder

Blend the maple syrup/miel de cana and melted coconut oil together until well combined. Add the cocoa/cacao powder and blend again, scraping down the sides if necessary, until smooth.

Pour this over the date caramel hazelnut layer and spread out evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle over a little sea salt and the remaining chopped hazelnuts.

Put back in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Tart

I thought you might like to see a little YouTube video of my Healthy Baking Workshop (savoury & sweet) that took place on Sunday morning. The next one is on Saturday 23rd March 10-2pm. Just click on the link below…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=7tU9pZPNnb4

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Carrot, Ginger and Orange Soup with Star Anise

4 Feb

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

I am a bit of a soup freak at the moment. They are quick, easy, cheap and good for you. Lunch doesn’t have to mean a sandwich especially if you are a bit of a delicate flower like The Washer Up. Bread is not his friend, it gives him all sorts of grief that I won’t go into here but his system can’t cope with it anymore so his lunches for work have been a bit challenging recently.

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

We had a big bunch of carrots in the fridge and I had never made a carrot soup before so I began to think about flavour combinations. Carrot & coriander was too obvious although I couldn’t resist a little on the top for garnish.

Carrot Orange & Ginger Soup

Ginger has a wide range of health benefits including proven anti inflammatory effects that help alleviate the symptoms of gastrointestinal distress or indigestion. This is one of The Washer Up’s main complaints after eating bread (or anything at the moment) so ginger was definitely going into this soup. Not that I can’t bear to listen to the winging anymore you understand. I am just not that patient.

Did I really say “Just eat this and shut up!”?

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

Carrot, Ginger & Orange Soup with Star Anise Recipe

Serves 2-3, vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • coriander stalks, finely chopped (optional) save some leaves for garnish
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 Tbsp grated/minced ginger
  • about 400 g carrots, washed & grated (not peeled)
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 tsp honey/sugar/agave syrup
  • about 750 ml veg stock
  • half an orange
  • goat’s yoghurt/sour cream/crème fraiche to serve (optional)

Sweat the onions, celery, coriander stalks, ginger and star anise in the oil over a medium heat with a pinch of salt for 7-10 minutes until softened but not browned.

Add the grated carrots, honey and stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes.

Pick out the star anise before blending carefully until smooth. Add a big squeeze of the orange juice and season with salt & black pepper. Taste and adjust salt, honey, orange juice as required. Add more stock if it is too thick for you.

To serve: bring back up to heat and serve in warmed bowls topped with some coriander leaves and a swirl of crème fraiche if using.

Carrot Ginger & Orange Soup

I have some more lunch ideas that don’t involve bread coming up soon. Including some Moroccan Spiced Squash & Feta Empanadas that he is very happy with.

Buen Provecho!

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Wholemeal Spelt Flour Soda Bread Recipe

12 Dec

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 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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Keralan Vegetable and Coconut Sambar Recipe

2 Nov

Kerala is right at the top of my list of places I want to visit. It is located on the Malabar coast of south-west India and is known for having some of the best and most delicious vegetarian food in the whole of India. That and its beautiful beaches, backwaters, tropical forests and luxury Ayurvedic retreats and you can see why I am so keen to get there.

Until that day arrives I am happy to continue on my culinary journey around my kitchen and be transported by the flavours and smells unique to that area. Sambar is a typical southern Indian vegetable stew made with lots of vegetables and pigeon peas (or lentils) in a tamarind broth. The sambar is the spice mix or paste which has variations from state to state in the south.

Coconuts grow along the coast in Kerala and most of their signature dishes feature it in some form. This Keralan Sambar powder  is made by toasting coconut along with the spices and grinding it to create a paste that is used to flavour the stew. The sambar is finished or tempered with a garnish of mustard seeds, chilli and spices cooked in coconut oil that is poured over just before serving.

In the original recipe the pigeon peas or lentils are cooked separately with some turmeric and chilli powder until soft and mushy. They are then added to the vegetables cooked in the tamarind & stock to thicken the stew towards the end. I used dried quick cooking yellow lentils that cook in the same amount of time as the vegetables so I cooked it all together. Less washing up too.

The vegetables I used are just what I had in the fridge. You could use pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, aubergine, courgettes, okra…..

Keralan Vegetable & Coconut Sambar Recipe

Serves 4 with rice. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from The Mistress of Spices & Sankeerthanam

  • 75-100 g dried yellow lentils
  • 300 g sweet potato, scrubbed & cut into 2 cm chunks
  • 300 g cauliflower florets
  • 300 g (1 very large) tomato, chopped
  • 200 g green beans, trimmed & halved
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 1 or 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • salt
  • about 1 tsp jaggery/brown sugar or honey

For the tempering:

  •  2 tsp  coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli whole (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • curry leaves (if you can get them)

Put the veg stock and tamarind in large pot with the turmeric, chilli flakes, lentils, sweet potato and cauliflower. Bring to the boil, season with salt then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potatoes & lentils are cooked. Meanwhile make the sambar paste.

For the sambar paste

  • 4 Tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 dry red chilli (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • salt

Toast everything in a dry frying pan until fragrant and toasty. The onions wont be cooked. Blend to a paste adding some salt and water as necessary.

Stir the sambar paste into the vegetable pot then add the softer vegetables, the beans and tomatoes. Bring to the boil again, lower the heat, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or longer, until the lentils have broken down and you have a thicker stew consistency.  Add the jaggery/sugar or honey and taste for seasoning. Does it need more salt or sugar?

When ready to serve, heat the coconut oil in pan over a medium high heat and add the tempering spices, chilli and curry leaves (if using). When the seeds start to splutter tip the contents of the pan over the stew and serve with rice or flatbreads.

Things That Made Me Smile Today….

The oranges are coming. They are turning from green to a yellowy orange. Getting more orange every day. Which means it’s not long till Christmas.

Which means I need to get busy making Grandad’s Pickled Onions if I want them to be ready in time for Christmas. They need at least a month to mature into the spicy perfect beasts that everyone adores.

What Christmas treats are you planning to make this year?

Have a great weekend!

Ethiopian Sweet Potato and Lentil Wat with Injera Flatbread

22 Oct

A wat or wot (what?) is an Ethiopian stew. I first read about Ethiopian cuisine on The Taste Space and I knew I had to try it out for myself. It is spicy, which I love as you might have guessed and is great for vegetarian or vegan food lovers. The flavour comes mainly from an Ethiopian spice mix called Berbere. Berbere has as many different variations as I have shoes but the one I have chosen to make includes: red chilli flakes, turmeric, paprika, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice & clove.

I decided to make it with sweet potatoes and yellow lentils (or split peas) because the sweet potatoes are at their peak here at the moment which means delicious and cheap. You could also use pumpkin and chickpeas or any other vegetables you need to use up. Just add a legume to the pot to make it authentic and nutritionally balanced.

The traditional accompaniment to any Ethiopian meal are Injera flatbreads. Injera are slightly spongy crepe or pancake-like flatbreads made with a yeasted dough batter made from Teff flour. Teff is an ancient grain believed to have been cultivated in Ethiopia and Eritrea since 4000 BC.

I have a brilliant flour supplier in Alhaurin, Andres from El Amasadero who can get hold of these unusual flours. He also holds bread making workshops which I am threatening to attend one day.  Fortunately you don’t have to make these with Teff flour you can use spelt or normal flour instead. It’s actually fun to do. Or you could just buy some Indian or Middle Eastern flatbreads if you’re short of time (or patience).

Ethiopian Sweet Potato & Lentil Wat Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free.  Adapted from The Taste Space

For the Berbere spice mix:

Makes 1 small jar. You only need 1 Tbsp for this recipe

  • 4 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Grind the fenugreek seeds, red chilli flakes & sea salt in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder until you have a powder then mix with the rest of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a dry place.

Sweet Potato & Lentil Wat Recipe

  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 600g), scrubbed and cut into 1-2 cm chunks
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Berbere spice mix (see above)
  • 1 cup dried yellow lentils (or split peas)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1/4 cabbage (250 g), shredded
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • fresh coriander to serve

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat and cook the onions, with a pinch of salt, for about 4 minutes until translucent. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or two more. If it gets dry add a little splash of stock. Add the 1 tbsp Berbere spice mix, cabbage, tomato and season with salt & black pepper.

Add the lentils, sweet potatoes and veg stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes until the sweet potato is soft and the lentils are cooked. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes more with the lid off. Add the fresh coriander just before serving and check seasoning.

Injera Flatbread Recipe

Serves 3-4, vegan. Needs an hour rising time

  • 110 g wholemeal, spelt or teff flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast (or 15 g fresh)
  • 155 ml warm (not hot) water

Mix everything together in a large bowl to form a batter. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour or longer until well risen.

When ready to cook, stir the batter then tip into a blender with about 110 ml (1/2 cup) water and blend. The batter will be quite thin.

Heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium high heat without any oil and pour about 1/2 cup of the batter into the pan, swirl or spread it about with a spatula until it covers the base of the pan evenly like a crepe/pancake. Cook until little bubbles or cracks appear all over the top. You do not need to turn it over to cook the other side. Keep warm on a plate covered with a tea towel while you cook the rest.

Things That Made Me Smile Today…..

Rufus posing in the autumn sun.

Pink Roses & Acorns, there’s got to be a recipe in there somewhere….

Italian Courgette Crostata with Goat’s Cheese, Garlic and Basil

11 Oct

There is a whole field of courgette plants that I pass every morning with the dog. I have been watching the vegetables grow out of their delicate sunshine flowers and waiting for the day that I arrive and they have  all been harvested. I really hope they don’t leave them too long. They do that a lot here. Leave the courgettes to get too big before they pick them. I know if you grow your own that it is difficult to keep up with the mountain of courgettes that the plants produce but on a farm there is no excuse.

There is nothing worse than big, fat, watery courgettes. You really need them when they are young, firm and still squeaky. Like these ones I found at the market on Sunday.  These were only a euro for a kilo so I had to buy a kilo obviously.

Then you get home and realise you have a load of courgettes. One of my favourite things to cook with them at the moment is this crostata, we have it for dinner about once a week. A crostata is a freeform tart, an Italian version of a French galette. You cut a big circle of pastry, leave an inch or two border spread the base with some ricotta or yoghurt mixed with garlic & herbs, then make pretty concentric circles with courgette slices and brush with some herby garlic oil. You then roll up and crimp the edges and bake. It’s as easy as that, especially with this quick olive oil pastry recipe.

Courgette Crostata with Goat’s Cheese, Garlic & Basil Oil

Serves 4-6 as part of a meal. Vegetarian. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the spelt olive oil pastry:

  • 250 g spelt or wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (I used 1/2 thyme 1/2 oregano)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and herbs, drizzle in the olive oil mixing/mashing it in with a fork until well combined (a bit like crumble mix). Measure out the water then add an ice-cube to it. Slowly pour the cold water (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. shape into a flat disc, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge until ready to use. It doesn’t need long but will keep well for a few days like that.

For the filling:

  • 2 firm small/med. courgettes, sliced into 1/2 cm coins on a slight diagonal
  • 1 pot goats yoghurt (about 100ml) or ricotta or greek yoghurt
  • a handful of grated manchego cheese (or parmesan/cheddar)
  • 25 gr crumbled goats cheese or feta
  • grated lemon zest 1/2 tsp
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1+1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • fresh basil leaves, finely sliced (plus extra for garnish)  or 1 tsp basil pesto
  • salt & black pepper

Lay the courgette slices on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt and leave to sit while you prepare the pastry & filling.

In a small bowl mix (or blend) together the olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, basil (or pesto) & lemon zest. Mix 1 tbsp of this in another bowl with the yoghurt (or ricotta), and cheeses. Season with salt & black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.  Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, turning it quarter turns as you go to stop it sticking, to a very rough circle about 2-3 mm thick.  Take your largest dinner plate or serving plate,  place it lightly on the pastry and cut around it, remove the excess pastry and keep it in the fridge if there is enough for another small tart. Remove the plate with a sharp knife and lift the circle carefully, on a floured rolling pin, onto the lined baking tray.

Leaving a border round the edge of about an inch or two, spread the cheesy mixture out evenly over the pastry. Dry the tops of your courgette slices well with kitchen towel and then start laying them, overlapping slightly, around the edge still leaving the border clear.  When you have finished the outside circle start another circle going in the opposite direction just inside the first. Then overlap a few slices in the middle. See pictures above for these stages.

Drizzle and/or brush the rest of the garlicky herb oil all over the courgettes and then start to fold up the edges by turning the paper and folding and pleating as you go. Brush the pleated border with a little olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until bubbling and golden. Leave to sit for 5 minutes then scatter over a few fresh basil leaves and serve.

Serve with a simple lemon & olive oil dressed green salad or this delicious White Bean Mash. This is a very versatile recipe, you could easily switch up the herbs and cheese to use whatever you have in the fridge.

I know I said I bought a kilo of courgettes and I only used two of them in this dish and I also know that a lot of you are overrun with courgettes at certain times of the year so maybe, like me,  you could have a go at making this deliciously light Zucchini Green Chilli Cornbread or these very moreish Baked Zucchini Fries as well.

Have a Great Weekend!!

 

Homemade Tomato Ketchup…. with a kick

4 Oct

What do you do with a kilo of plum tomatoes that you bought because they were really cheap and gorgeous looking? Well, I decided to turn them into ketchup because I had never done it before and it felt right. In a preparing for the winter months ahead type way.

I am really pleased with the consistency of it. It actually looks and tastes a lot like real ketchup, with  quite a bit of heat. I added some of our homegrown Scotch Bonnet chillis to the tomatoes instead of  the pinch of cayenne that the original recipe called for. It’s fiery but fruity at the same time.

And there’s no nasty chemicals or weird stuff, excellent!

Homemade Spicy Tomato Ketchup Recipe

Makes 1 bottle. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Chowhound

  • 1 kilo ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds & membrane removed then chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 75 ml sherry vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 1/4 tsp caraway or celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice berries
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 small scotch bonnet chillis (optional) deseeded if you like
  • 3 tbsp molasses (miel de cana)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put the tomatoes, red pepper and chillis in a food processor and blend to a smooth puree. Push this through a sieve into a large saucepan with a spatula until you are just left with dry skins and seeds in the sieve. Discard this.

Puree the onion and add that to the pan with the pureed tomatoes. Cook and stir occasionally over low heat until it is reduced by about a third and is considerably thicker.

Meanwhile put garlic, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, caraway seeds and vinegar into a small saucepan and simmer gently, covered for about 1o-15 mins. Then pour about half the spiced vinegar through a sieve or tea strainer into the thickened tomato mixture. Add the molasses/miel de cana, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt and stir to combine everything well.

Taste at this point and adjust any of the ingredients to suit you. Maybe it needs more of the spiced vinegar or more molasses or salt. Cook it some more, stirring so it doesn’t catch, until it is thickened and looks like ketchup. Don’t worry if it looks a bit separated you are now going to blend it carefully with a stick blender in the pan (or in a food processor) and that smooths it out nicely.

Pour into a jug and then pour into a sterilised jar or bottle, seal with an airtight lid and leave to cool. When cool, store in the fridge.

Serve it with chips, beanburgers, anything really you don’t need me to tell what to serve your ketchup with. My particular favourite is with poached eggs and spinach on toast.

As this is quite a short post it seems like quite a good time to tell you about some exciting news. I am going to holding two cookery workshops at the Pepe Kitchen cookery school in Benalmadena. The first one on Saturday 20th October is a Vegetarian Middle Eastern Mezze Workshop where we will be making, Baba Ghanoush, Muhammara, Maast-o Khiar, Fattoush, Spanakopita & Sambouseks. The workshop is from 10am – 2pm and we all get to eat everything we have made for lunch together afterwards.

The second one is a Healthy Baking Workshop on Saturday 17th November from 5pm -9pm. We will be using spelt flour and olive oil to make pastry for tarts, galettes and quiches as well as making sweet and savoury spelt flour muffins and a flaxseed spelt raisin and date breakfast loaf. We will of course be tasting them all afterwards just to make sure they are good obviously!

For more information and to reserve your place you can either contact me directly or reserve through the Pepe Kitchen website.

Fresh Fig and Almond Fumble

2 Oct

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!!

Peach and Almond Spelt Cake with Passionfruit Syrup

20 Aug

Summer is all about fruit in Andalucia. It is at the moment anyway. Fruit and tomatoes, which are technically a fruit anyway. We went to the market this weekend and bought two kilos of peaches for a euro and quarter of a kilo of passionfruit (which is a lot) for the same price, one euro. Passionfruit are usually ridiculously expensive, I couldn’t believe it.

I have been photographing these peaches while walking the dog and today we saw some almonds hatching out of their furry jackets on the trees next to them.

I have been blending peaches, passionfruit pulp and orange juice for breakfast smoothies (with flaxmeal, flax seeds and flax seed oil) but still nowhere near using them all and I saw two gorgeous peach cake recipes, both on beautiful Italian blogs, that I couldn’t get out of my head.

A Peach & Mead Cake on Juls’ Kitchen and a Peach & Hazelnut Cake on Lucullian Delights both had me desperate to try something similar. I added Amaretto (my liqueur of choice) in the absence of mead and swapped the hazelnuts to ground almonds. I also decided to use a mix of white and wholemeal spelt flours and used coconut oil and olive oil instead of butter. So it’s dairy and wheat-free. As well as moist and delicious.

You could obviously serve it with some cream or ice cream but to keep it dairy-free and because of the pile of bargain passionfruit, I made a passionfruit syrup/coulis or sauce, whatever you want to call it, to pour liberally over the top. Make sure you buy the old and wrinkly looking ones that are ripe.

Peach & Almond Spelt Cake with Passionfruit Syrup

Makes 1 cake, Vegetarian, Wheat-Free, Dairy-Free. Adapted from Lucullian Delights

  • 500 gr peaches (I used 4), peeled and sliced
  • 3 tbsp soft brown (or raw) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 or 3 tbsp Amaretto
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch (maybe)

Put the peaches, sugar, cinnamon and 2 tbsp amaretto in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes. If it is still a bit liquidy you can dissolve the cornflour in some amaretto and stir that in. Keep cooking until it thickens like jam. Leave it to cool while you make the cake.

  • 3 eggs
  • 175 gr soft brown (or raw) sugar
  • 1+1/2 tbsp oat milk (or any milk)
  • 1 +1/2 tbsp amaretto
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 75 gr olive oil plus 75 gr coconut oil (or 150 gr melted butter)
  • 100 gr ground almonds
  • 180 gr white spelt flour (or normal flour)
  • 120 gr wholemeal spelt flour, or normal wholemeal flour ( I used 100 g wholemeal spelt flour plus 20 gr flaxmeal)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a big pinch of salt

Whisk the eggs and sugar together for a few minutes until light and fluffy then add the milk, amaretto, almond extract, both oils (or melted butter) and mix well. Sieve over the dry ingredients, tipping  any wholemeal bits left in the sieve into the bowl too, and fold them into the wet ingredients gently with a rubber spatula until just combined. Don’t overmix or it will be tough. It is quite a sticky batter.

Preheat the oven to 175 C and oil and flour (or breadcrumb) the inside of your cake tin. I used a 23 cm 9″ cake tin with a removable base. If your cake tin is smaller you will get a deeper cake and may have to cook it for longer.

Pour about two-thirds of the batter into the cake tin then cover with an even layer of the peaches. Tip out the rest of the batter onto the peaches and cover as much as you can. Cook for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned and a cocktail stick come out clean. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar if you like before slicing.

Passionfruit Syrup Recipe

serves 4-6, vegan, gluten-free

  • about 9 passionfruit
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tbsp soft brown (or raw) sugar

Halve the passionfruit and scrape out all the pulp with a teaspoon into a small saucepan. Squeeze over the lemon juice and add the sugar. Bring to the boil stirring occasionally, then lower the heat and simmer for about four minutes. Taste and add more sugar/lemon juice as required. It should be tart and sweet at the same time and your kitchen will smell amazing!

Serve each slice of the cake with a generous drizzle of the passionfruit syrup.

Buen Provecho!

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