Tag Archives: mini

A Merry Christmas with Mince Pies

24 Dec

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!

imagesCAFT0O3W

 

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Savoury Cherry Tomato Clafoutis with Basil, Goat’s Cheese and Courgette Blossom

7 Jul

I have been wanting to make a clafoutis for a while now. The traditionally sweet French dessert is made with fruit, usually cherries, cooked in a batter made with eggs, ground almonds, sugar and flour. Cherries are in season here now and are very cheap but it is impossible to find a cherry pitter/pipper/stoner or whatever it’s called, in this town. Apparently you can make it with the stones left in the cherries but I live with the most accident prone man in Andalucia and can’t be doing with the Heimlich manoeuver in this heat.

Thankfully our cherry tomato plant has just decided to produce a large amount of ripe fruit at the same time that the basil plants (purple and green) are growing like weeds. I say thankfully because I found a recipe for a savoury clafoutis in  The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo that my friend Rhian bought me for my birthday. There are lots of lovely things in the book but the savoury clafoutis was top of my list of things to try especially with our little baby tomatoes.

I saw these courgette blossoms still with the little courgettes attached at the market and bought a load of them. I used some as a topping with some portobello mushrooms on a pizza but still had a few left so I sliced the mini courgettes into the clafoutis filling and topped them with a flower.

I made two individual clafoutis in mini loaf tins with this recipe but you can double it and make a big one in a baking dish or tin that should serve 4-6 as part of a lunch or picnic. Or use little ramekins.

You could change the cheese to a Manchego, Cheddar or Gruyère, switch up the herbs and use leftover roasted vegetables as an alternative filling. I served it with this French Potato Salad.

Cherry Tomato Clafoutis with Goat’s Cheese, Basil & Courgette Blossom

Serves 2-3 (easily doubled), Vegetarian. Adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 15-20 mins (small) 30-40 mins (large)

  • 50g goat’s cheese/feta
  • 50g cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 2 or 3 courgette blossoms (stamens removed) baby courgettes finely sliced (optional)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & black pepper
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 50g goat’s yoghurt (or greek yoghurt)
  • 50 ml milk (I used oat milk)

Preheat oven to 180C and lightly oil and flour your dishes. Scatter the tomatoes, crumbled/torn goat’s cheese and sliced baby courgettes, if using, evenly over the base(s).

Whisk the eggs well with the salt & pepper then gently fold in the ground almonds and flour until just combined. Stir in the yoghurt, milk and fresh herbs.

Pour the batter over the filling and top each one with a courgette flower. Bake until golden brown and set. 15-20 minutes for small, 30 -40 minutes for larger. Tip them out of the moulds or serve from the large dish, warm or at room temperature.

Things That Made Me Smile Today………

Our new lavender plant, a beautiful magenta colour.

Huge, bright and blousy squash and pumpkin flowers, the first sign that autumn will arrive and along with it relief from the unbearable heat.

Enjoy your weekend..

Rustic Plum and Lavender Galette

4 Jul

This post is dedicated to my Auntie Pat who left us unexpectedly on Monday night.  She was an amazing woman who lived life to the full and was always there for everyone no matter what. She has left a huge void in all our lives and no one really knows what to do next.

A Shining Star

She was like the sun

And we were all little planets floating around in her orbit

Some  near, some far away

But all held together by the magnetism of her warmth and love

They say the sun is just a huge star

And that the stars died millions of years ago

But we can still see them at night

So as long as there are stars up in the sky

She, the sun, will never die

I used the same wholemeal olive oil pastry recipe that I used for my Fresh Fig & Goat’s Cheese Quiche but added a few tablespoons of sugar, reduced the salt and added some dried lavender instead of the rosemary and oregano.

I’ve been wanting to make a galette for a while now but when I saw this recipe with stunning pictures on Cafe Fernando I knew I had to copy it. Arranging the plums like this is not as difficult as it looks but slicing them is a little fiddly, you need quite firm plums if you pardon the expression.

This amount of pastry made enough for one large galette and two mini individual ones. I cut around a large dinner plate for the large and two bread plates or saucers for the mini ones. I made a mini fig galette a mini plum. You could use nectarines, peaches, apples, pears or apricots too. Just try to keep them in one layer so the fruit doesn’t get too wet and make the pastry soggy.

Rustic Plum & Lavender Galette

Makes 1 large plus two mini individual galettes. Vegan.

Pastry recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini. Filling from Cafe Fernando

Prep time: 35 mins Cooking time 45 mins

  • 250 g wholemeal or spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chopped dried lavender (optional)
  • 2 tbsp raw or soft brown sugar
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water

Mix the flour, salt, sugar & lavender (if using) in a large bowl then slowly add the oil mixing/mashing it in with a fork until crumbly. Add an ice-cube to the water and slowly pour it (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.

Roll it 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 your largest dinner plate, turn it onto the pastry and cut around it so you have a large circle. Carefully remove the circle to a piece of baking parchment and put in the fridge for 30 minutes while you prep the filling. Make mini ones with the leftover pastry using small bread plates or saucers.

  • plums (I used about 8 or 9 small ones and a couple of figs for the mini galette)
  • 2 tbsp or more raw or brown sugar (depending how sweet, or not the plums are)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp ground almonds (optional) I used this with the figs to soak up their juices
  • olive oil
  • apricot or plum jam
  • water

Prepare your fruit by halving, removing the stones and slicing them into 3- 5 mm thick pieces. They don’t have to be perfect, it’s easier if the fruit is underripe.

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Place the pastry circle on the baking paper on a baking tray. Leaving a border around the edge of about 1+ 1/2 inches clear, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar (plus the tablespoon of ground almonds for juicier fruit) evenly over the base of the pastry circle.

Overlap the fruit in a circle all around the outside edge inside the border. Then make another circle of overlapping fruit, going in the opposite direction, just inside the first one. Finish off with a mini circle going the same direction as the first one in the middle of the circle. (see pictures above).

Start to carefully roll up the edge of the pastry towards the fruit turning the tart (or paper) as you go around until it’s all done. Brush the edges of the pastry with olive oil and sprinkle the sugar all over the fruit. Use more if you think the fruit is very tart.

Bake for 40 -45 minutes (25-30 for the minis) until the pastry is golden and the fruit cooked. Leave to cool for 10 minutes. Make the glaze by melting a few tablespoons of seedless jam in a pan with a few tablespoons of water until it forms a smooth syrup. Paint this all over the fruit and serve the galette warm. Some vanilla ice cream or  creme fraiche would be nice to go with it but it is good on its own too.

I just wish she could be here to enjoy it.

For you Auntie Pat

With Lots of Love

Individual Strawberry and Amaretto Trifles with Toasted Flaked Almonds and Crushed Amaretti Biscuits

26 Jun

You can make a big one if you like but these are cute, don’t you think? I made a big version (in fact it was huge) for a Jubilee party at our friend, Jeanne’s house. There were about 14 people going so I made the most enormous trifle and an apricot frangipane tart aswell. Well you wouldn’t want to run out of desserts would you? 

Jeanne knows how to throw a party, she has a fine selection of a cushions in a pink Jubilee style and she always makes the best drinks. Champagne with strawberries and a big jug of Pimms filled with fresh fruit, cucumber and mint. How to choose? One of each obviously.

Even after a gorgeous buffet prepared by Jeanne everyone managed to polish off one or (in some cases) two desserts. It’s difficult to get a good picture of a trifle as you can see from my attempt below, it’s like a big sloppy delicious mess really. I was pleased with the glaze on my apricot tart though.

So, solely for your benefit you understand, I had to make some of these pretty little individual trifles that would photograph better.

Just a few tips; the recipe below is just an outline, it obviously depends on the size of you dish, glass or bowl as to how much of everything you need. The fruit can be replaced with whatever is in season or looks nice in the market, as can the booze, just try to match it with the fruit. You may have to do a few taste tests first before you get the right combination!

Oh and don’t go too mad with the amount you put in, apparently it is possible to have too much alcohol in a trifle. Mine was a little on the strong side but there are worse things in life and I didn’t hear anyone complaining.

Individual Strawberry & Amaretto Trifles

  • mini sponge cakes (or trifle sponges)
  • strawberry jam
  • amaretto
  • fresh strawberries
  • icing sugar
  • creme patissiere (or thick custard) see my recipe  That amount was enough for 4 or 5 individual trifles . I added a splosh of amaretto to it instead of the orange blossom water.
  • double cream (for whipping)
  • vanilla extract
  • caster sugar
  • mascarpone
  • flaked almonds (toasted in a dry pan)
  • amaretti biscuits

Spread the jam on each of the sponges and sandwich them together to form a single layer covering the bottom of your dish, glass or bowl. Try one. Jam sponge is lovely, how long has it been?

Poke holes all over the sponges with a wooden skewer and slowly drizzle over the Amaretto letting it soak in. Don’t go too mad. Leave it for about 10 minutes to soak in properly.

Hull and half or quarter some strawberries and arrange them evenly on top of the sponge. Blend about the same amount of strawberries and a tablespoon or two of icing sugar to a smooth coulis/sauce and pour it over the strawberries.

Cover with a layer of cooled creme patissiere (or thick custard). Whip some cream with the same amount of mascarpone, a little vanilla extract and a few tablespoons of caster sugar to soft peaks. Spread this evenly over the custard layer.

Refrigerate until ready to serve and then top with a layer of toasted flaked almonds and crumble over some Amaretti biscuits.

Enjoy!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today

Rufus posing on his favourite sofa. Very handsome he looks too!!

15 on Orange Blossom and Strawberry Custard Slices

22 May

Following on from yesterday’s post about inspiration and where I get my ideas from, this recipe illustrates perfectly the combination of factors that come together to create something nice to eat. Because that is what we are talking about here. Food that you (and I) want to eat. And you want to eat these, I can tell. You’re dribbling.

Strawberries are at the peak of their season here at the moment, so they are cheap and bursting with flavour. Well these ones are anyway, so they need to star in a recipe.

Every morning for the past month or so I have been running with the dog surrounded by the intoxicating scent of orange blossom. I know, I’m lucky. It is such a beautiful smell that hits you as soon as you walk out of the front door. Well I do live in Andalucia. Anyway the past couple of days it has been noticeable in its absence. We are coming to the end of the orange blossom season and I realised that I haven’t used its aromatic orange blossom water in a recipe this year.

On our last day in Cape Town we went for Sunday lunch at the 15 on Orange Hotel. Every Sunday they have a buffet lunch for 265 Rand that includes endless bubbly. Yes, endless bubbly. Are you mad? Have you met my Dad? And me come to that if you’re talking about bubbly. It’s not cheap stuff either, we really enjoyed quite a few glasses of the Graham Beck Brut Rose.

The hotel is elegant, modern, luxury designer chic . An enormous Murano glass chandelier with a staircase inside leading to a private lounge dominates the luxurious bar area. The lighting is actually really impressive throughout the hotel.

Now when you talk about buffets in hotels what springs to my mind is elbowing your way around a table filled with wilting salad, crusty under the lights sandwiches, dried up slices of meat hidden by a slimy gravy and suspect piles of defrosted prawns. Not my thing, at all. This couldn’t be more different. The restaurant is bright, modern and in no way does it smell of boiled meat.

The standard of the food is unbelievable. It’s the best looking buffet I’ve ever seen.  Beautiful feta salads, mozzarella & tomato Caprese with basil pesto, roasted vegetable terrine, beetroot tian, a cheese selection with chutneys. That’s just the veggie starters by the way. For main course I had an excellent Eggplant Parmigiana but it was the desserts that impressed me the most.

The selection was mind-blowing. Chocolate cherry tortes, blueberries & cream violet syrup shots, cape gooseberry madeleines.

A cake stand full of chewy meringues, chocolate or caramel & cinnamon, white chocolate sacher torte, and enormous pink marshmallows. The keep bringing out new things too. It’s amazing.

It is seriously worth coming here just for the desserts and bubbly. You want to try them all because they look so good. They are all quite dainty so you don’t feel like such a pig for eating more than one. I had the cinnamon caramel meringue, the chocolate cherry torte and one of these strawberry custard slices.

So when I got home and strawberries came into season here, I started badgering them for the recipe. And here it is. The only thing did differently was add some orange blossom water to my custard. I cut my puff pastry into fairly small rectangles 3 x 9 cm so they are quite ladylike and afternoon tea-ish. You can make yours bigger if you like.

Strawberry & Orange Blossom Custard Slice

Makes 30 -36 3 x 9cm slices. Adapted from the 15 on Orange recipe

Remember to defrost the puff pastry in the fridge overnight before you need it.

Prep time: 15 mins Cooking Time: 10-15 mins Assembly time: 15 mins

  • 1 block/roll puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge overnight)
  • about 500 gr fresh strawberries
  • 2 or 3 tbsp clear seedless fruit jam/jelly for glazing (I used apricot)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp water

For the Creme Patissiere (custard or pastry cream)

  • 200 ml milk
  • 55 gr sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 25 gr cornflour/cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1+1/2 tsp orange blossom water (or to taste)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp milk to finish

Preheat the oven to 190 C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

On a floured board, roll out the pastry to a large rectangle about 2 mm thick and trim the edges so they are straight. My rectangle was 27 x 36 cm so I cut it into 36 mini rectangles 3 x 9 cm. (9 columns 4 rows). But you can cut them whatever size you like.  Put them on the lined baking sheet, dock them well with a fork (this stops them rising too much) and put them in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Bake  for 10 to 15 minutes until puffed, golden and cooked all the way through. Some will rise a bit wonky or too much but you can ignore those there’s still loads left. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile make the creme patissiere.

Carefully bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla extract and orange blossom water, then turn it off before it boils properly.

Meanwhile whisk the yolks with the sieved cornflour and sugar to a smooth paste. Add a splash of the hot milk to the egg mixture and whisk to loosen. Add this back into the pan on a medium high heat and whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Remove from the heat when it is thick and taste it. If it still tastes of flour or needs loosening up add a splash of milk, return to heat and whisk it in. When it is ready cover the top of the custard directly with cling film to stop a skin forming.

Hull the strawberries by pulling out the green stalks and removing the stalk area with a small knife. Thinly slice them from top to bottom.

To assemble: pipe  or spoon a small amount of creme patissiere along the pastry rectangles from front to back. Then top with three (or more if bigger rectangles) slices of strawberry, start at the back and position the pointy end up.

To glaze: heat the jam/jelly in a small pan with the water until it is a liquid. Brush the glaze over the positioned strawberries.

You will now realise that you have quite a few custard slices. Obviously you will have to eat a few just to see how they taste but beware, they are addictive. My suggestion is to do what I did and donate them to friends (thanks Rhian & Jeanne) because they will love them and so will their husbands.

And you won’t end up the size of a house and blame it all on me. Hopefully.

For more information about 15 on Orange Hotel and their menus visit their website here.

Pumpkin, Feta and Spinach Wholemeal Calzones

6 Dec

Calzones are folded pizzas with the filling inside, like Italian pasties really. You can fill them with whatever you like but I love the autumn wintery feeling that you get from pumpkin or squash. Tomato and mozzarella feels a bit too summery for me at the moment.

The idea for this filling came from Rufus (not my dog, silly). This Rufus is actually called Greg (Rufus is his middle name) and the recipe was made by his wife, Katherine. Confused?

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