Tag Archives: quick

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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Tricolor Baked Avocado with Pesto Garlic Bread

29 Nov

The smooth skinned, green avocados are in season here at the moment. Where we walk the dog there are thousands of avocado trees and sometimes, if it has been windy, there will be a windfall or two. Gifts from heaven if you like.

For a change I wanted to make a dish where the avocado was the star rather than just being an ingredient in a salad or made into a guacamole. You can cook avocado, it intensifies the flavour and makes it even more creamy in my opinion. 

 This is a dish that The Washer Up and I came up with when we first moved to Spain and lived with my dad. It’s a hot Tricolor salad really. The avocado is surrounded by a pool of your favourite tomato pasta sauce, topped with sliced or ripped mozzarella and strewn with fresh basil leaves.  Continue reading

Unbelieveably Easy Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream

16 Aug

This ice cream is amazingly simple to make and it’s vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and guilt-free. It also tastes lovely. Don’t believe me? Just try it and see. You’re going to love me for this, I promise.

As you probably know I have a huge bag of fresh figs in my freezer (thanks Leigh) and am desperately trying to use them up. The thing is they don’t seem to be going down.  I’ve made Fig Chutney, Fig Jam, Fig Muffins, Fig Granola Crumble, and just recently Fig & Feta Sambouseks.

While I was out walking this morning with the dog, taking pictures of  figs, I felt something crunching under my feet. I  looked down and saw that I was walking over almonds (not Driving Over Lemons).  In the tree above my head I saw that the almond kernels are now hatching out of their furry jackets and falling to the ground.

I picked up as many as I could carry and took them home. The thing is I don’t have any nutcrackers but they look great in the pictures. I must buy some nutcrackers though.

Anyway, back to the ice cream. I’ve seen a few recipes recently for an ice cream made just using frozen bananas. You just freeze them and then whiz them in a blender, that’s it. So I threw a couple of bananas that were going a bit brown into the freezer.

The next day when I went to retrieve them I realised that it was going to be impossible to peel the things because the skins were frozen solid. I’m such an idiot, you are supposed to peel and chop them up first!

Thankfully I found Sawsan’s recipe which explained this in detail so I tried again (with different bananas). I added some coconut milk to get it going, grated coconut and lime zest too. You can eat it like a slushy straight away or freeze it for a few hours to firm it up.

While I was looking in the freezer I saw the huge bag of figs and wondered if it would work with them just as well. So I tried them, and it did. I used low-fat coconut milk and ground almonds for creaminess and vanilla extract for a little sweetness.  I’m sure Greek yoghurt would be lovely in this too if you didn’t want to use coconut milk.

So there it is. A simple ice cream made without an ice cream maker or all that tedious stirring every hour. Just use frozen fruit and blend it with coconut milk or yoghurt and add any other flavourings you like.

Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream Recipe

Makes about 1/2 litre, easily doubled, vegan, gluten-free

  • 8 fresh figs (frozen for 24 hours before using)
  • about 200 ml (1/2 tin), low-fat coconut milk, shake the tin before opening
  • 55 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • a few drops of almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Take the figs out of the freezer, quarter them and put them in a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse to get it going then blend until well mixed and smooth. Taste, if you want it sweeter add some honey.

Eat straight away if you can’t wait or pour into an ice cream tub and freeze for a couple of hours or more until firm. That’s it. How easy is that?

Serve sprinkled with the toasted flaked almonds.

The possibilities are endless. I want to try mango and banana next time with coconut milk. If you want to add some texture with nuts or broken up cookies, (I’m thinking crushed Amaretti biscuits) stir them through after you’ve blended then freeze as usual.

Just remember to peel and chop the bananas, if using, before you freeze them…..

Things That made Me Smile Today……………..

We picked up our new cushions at the weekend for the banquette seat on our terrace.

I’m really pleased with them. The guy that made them has done a fantastic job.

I’m thinking “Ralph Lauren in Provence”….

I just wish it would cool down a bit so I could sit outside and enjoy them!

Individual Fig, Apricot and Almond Granola Crumbles

3 Jul

Breva is the Spanish name for the early crop of figs that ripen around the time of the festival of San Juan (the longest day of the year) at the end of June beginning of July. They are very well prized for their size. Larger than the later crop of  Higos, they have a distinctive pear shape and are not as sweet. There are different colours ranging from a yellowy-green to a purpley-black.

While I was clambering up a slope and balancing on one leg trying to get a decent picture of these brevas on a tree at the side of the road where I walk with the dog, the lady from the finca (farm) called out to ask if  there were any brevas there.

After almost falling over from shock at the unexpected voice through the trees, I hurriedly explained, through my embarrassment, that I was taking pictures (while waving my camera in her face) and not stealing her lovely fruit. I needn’t have worried she wasn’t at all bothered and wouldn’t let us go without taking a large handful of the softest juiciest figs you have ever seen.

I decided to make a “healthy” crumble with these delicious brevas and a layer of almonds because I saw some growing on the same finca.

When I got home I saw that I had some apricots in my fruit bowl that weren’t going to last another day so I added those in too. Apricot and almond is a classic combination that goes really well with the fresh figs.

Don’t bother to peel the figs, just wash and slice them. Stone and quarter the apricots and layer them with the figs in the ramekins . You don’t need to add any sugar, the fruit is sweet enough.

Sprinkle over a few drops of almond extract (or Amaretto) and then scatter a thin layer of flaked almonds over the fruit.

For the crumble topping I used some of my homemade granola that I had saved before adding the dried fruit to it. Add a generous layer to the top of the ramekins and bake for around 12-15 minutes.

Individual Fig, Apricot & Almond Granola Crumbles

makes 3 deep individual ramekins, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 3 large figs (brevas), washed & sliced
  • 3 apricots, stoned & quartered
  • a few drops of almond extract per crumble (or 1 tsp amaretto per crumble)
  • a handful of flaked almonds
  • homemade granola (without the dried fruit)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Layer the figs and apricots (1 each per person) in the ramekins, add a few drops of almond extract (or 1 tsp amaretto) to each followed by a thin layer of flaked almonds. Top with a generous amount of the granola (without dried fruit) and bake for 12 – 15 minutes taking care not to burn the topping.

You can serve it as it is in the ramekin it doesn’t actually need anything with it, but…..

If you like you can carefully remove the crumble from the ramekin (I got The “Washer Up” to do it, it was his idea!)

And serve it with a blob of vanilla ice cream. If you are feeling really decadent I’m sure it would be lovely with some Amaretto-spiked whipped cream too. This was my dad’s idea. I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t be improved by adding Amaretto cream to it though. Must be in the genes…..!

Buen Provecho!

Date, Walnut and Coconut Energy “Truffles”

24 May

It’s normally at about 4pm that I get a sugar craving. It must be an English thing, something to do with afternoon tea maybe. Not that I ever have afternoon tea but I definitely feel the blood sugar levels crashing at about that time.

Apparently afternoon tea was invented in Victorian times when the ladies fashion was to wear very tight-fitting corsets and waist-cinching dresses. They would come over all faint in between lunch and dinner and had to be revived with a piece of cake and a dainty sandwich.

As you may know, I am currently following a detox, vegan, gluten and sugar-free diet so no cake or sandwiches allowed. I usually have an apple but that does get a bit boring all the time. I found this recipe for Date & Walnut Power Balls somewhere but I couldn’t print it out because the printer wasn’t working. I wrote the recipe out instead but forgot to write the name of the blog I found it on. So, if I stole these from you, thanks and let me know so I can give you some credit.

Because credit where credit is due, these are quick, easy and sweet enough to feel naughty but are so not. Vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free but delicious enough to serve with coffee after dinner. You can even do the whole Ferrero Rocher tower thing in a “really spoiling us” moment. It’s not compulsory though, I just couldn’t resist.

Date, Walnut & Coconut Energy Truffles

makes about 15 balls, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free

(Thanks to Dzenana from The New Tastement for this recipe and for reminding me where I got it from!)

  • 1 cup (150 gr) stoned dates, preferably Medjool
  • 1 cup (100 gr) walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup (50 gr) desiccated coconut (unsweetened), plus extra for coating

Soak the dates in water for about an hour then roughly chop them. Blend everything together well so there are no big chunks and the mix comes together.  Tip some coconut onto a small plate. Take small amounts of the mix in your hands, squeeze it together and roll it into small balls. Then roll in the coconut. Store in an airtight container.

These are perfect for that mid-afternoon pick-me-up, as an energy boost pre or post exercise, as well as an after dinner treat. You can change-up the nuts and dried fruit for whatever you like, just make sure you soak the dried fruit first.

What time is it? I’m feeling a bit faint…..

Things That made Me Smile Today

Our first hibiscus flower of the year came out this morning….

Pale pink camelias looking like the perfect bridal bouquet….

Avocado Bean Salad With Lime, Cumin and Coriander Dressing

18 Apr

I just had to share with you my latest “go to” lunch salad. It’s quick, easy and delicious. It’s also vegan & gluten-free but that’s not the point. The point is that I’ve had it for the past three days and I still love it. That is a record for me as I have an extremely short attention span when it comes to food. I get bored really quickly, I need new things all the time. So here it is my new favourite salad, until I get bored and find another one…..

Avocado Bean Salad with Lime, Cumin & Coriander Dressing

serves 1, vegan, gluten-free

  • a big handful of rocket/mixed leaves
  • 1 small avocado, stone removed and chopped
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1o0 gr cooked red beans or pinto beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 spring onion/scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 spring garlic, green parts, finely chopped
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 or 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • a handful of sunflower seeds
  • fresh coriander leaves

Put the salad leaves in a large bowl with the chopped avocado and squeeze the lime juice over the avocado to stop it turning brown.  Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the sunflower seeds & coriander leaves and toss with your hands to coat everything evenly. Pile the salad into a bowl or large plate and top with the sunflower seeds & coriander leaves. Serve with an extra wedge of lime on the side if you like.

This would be really good with an ice cold bottle of lime wedged Coronita or even a classic Margarita…….Salut!

I have a fantastic recipe for the rest of the can of beans that I will post in the next few days , so save them. Get ready for South American Bean Cakes with Arepa Bun and Tomato Chilli Salsa…!!

Thai Spiced Crispy Cabbage Pancake (or Japanese Pizza)

18 Mar

I was looking for a recipe to use up the other half of  the cabbage I used to make my Cabbage, Potato & Leek Soup and found this on 101 Cookbooks. The origianl version is called Okonomiyaki but is also known as Japanese Pizza. It is nothing like a pizza except, I suppose, it’s round. It is delicious though and you can add whatever flavourings you like. I added some toasted sushi nori (the seaweed sheets) and some Thai Massaman curry paste which gave it great flavour. It’s kind of like street food in your own home. It has that crispy, fried, spicy addictive thing that you want to eat with your hands. The shredded cabbage is mixed with leeks, eggs, wholemeal flour and whatever seasoning you fancy.

It’s a mixture of a pancake, frittata, tortilla, rosti and squeak without the bubble. But it definitely is not a pizza….

Thai Spiced Crispy Cabbage Pancake (or Japanese Pizza)

makes 3 or 4 large thin pancakes, vegetarian. Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

  • 1/2 head cabbage, core removed and finely shredded
  • 1 large leek, dark green ends removed, cut in half lengthways, rinsed well and sliced
  • 100 gr wholemeal flour (or plain)
  • salt & black pepper
  • about 2 tbsp curry paste (whatever you have)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 2 sheets of sushi nori (toasted under the grill for few seconds on each side)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh coriander to serve

In a large bowl, mix together the cabbage, leeks, flour, salt & black pepper until everything is coated in the flour. Stir in the beaten eggs, curry paste, oyster sauce and finely crumble over the toasted nori sheets. Mix well to make sure everything is evenly distribited.

Heat  about 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.  Add a quarter of the cabbage mixture to the hot pan and press it out and down to fill the pan with a metal spatula. Make sure it is quite thin & flat. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the bottom is golden brown. To flip it, slide it out onto a plate, place another plate on top and turn them over. Add some more oil to the pan if necessary and slide the pancake back into the frying pan. Press down with the spatula and cook for a further 3 -5 minutes until golden on that side too.

Serve straight away garnished with lots of fresh coriander leaves. This is a perfect quick and easy supper or brunch dish with bags of flavour. Great hangover food that isn’t bad for you!!

Easy, Delicious Mince Pies with Mandarin and Ginger Cheat Ice Cream

17 Dec

I should rename this blog 101 things to do with a mandarin….! Well it is Christmas and they are everywhere and I like them.

I didn’t like mince pies until I made some myself, because the Washer Up was begging me to, last Christmas. The bought ones have a strange taste and make your teeth go funny. I thought, if I’m going to make them, I am going to make them better by adding all the Christmas flavours that I love. Like mandarins….

And almonds and hazelnuts and cranberries and Amaretto………! Trust me it makes such a difference. You get the flavour and crunch of the nuts, the sweet sharpness of the cranberries and the punch of the Amaretto. You don’t have to use Amaretto you could use Frangelico to pick out the flavour of the hazelnuts or Cointreau to enhance the orangeyness. If you don’t want to add alcohol you could use cranberry juice, you just need some liquid to soak into the dried fruit while it’s cooking. I use puff pastry because it’s lighter and crispier and you don’t have to make it!!If you’ve never liked mince pies you should give this recipe a go, it might change your mind..

Easy & Delicious Mince Pies Recipe

makes about 18, vegetarian

  • 1 pack frozen puff pastry defrosted in the fridge overnight
  • 75 gr brown sugar
  • 75 ml port or red wine
  • 400 gr mixed dried fruit
  • 100 gr dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 mandarin, zest first & then juice
  • about 50ml Amaretto (or your chosen liqueur)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 nuts (I used almonds & hazelnuts)walnuts would be good too
  • 1 egg beaten with a little water
  • icing sugar for dusting

In a large pan, dissolve the sugar in the port or red wine over a gentle heat. Then add the dried fruits, cranberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, zest & 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 210 degrees. Butter & flour your muffin tins then roll out your first piece of puff pastry to a thickness of 2mm (leave the other piece in the fridge). Cut out circles of 9 or 10 cm diameter and push them in the muffin tins you should get 9 or 10. Then fill each pastry case with a heaped dessertspoonful of the mixture. With the off cuts of pastry you can cut out Christmas tree shapes to put on the top of the mixture (or use a star cutter). Brush the pastry trees with egg wash and bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. 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 before rolling out your next batch.

Dust with icing sugar from a height and serve while still warm with a coffee for elevenses or whatever time of day it is…..To make them even more special you can serve them with this easy cheat ice cream. I don’t have an ice cream maker (hint hint!) so this is a great way to “improve” a tub of store-bought vanilla…

Quick Cheat Mandarin & Ginger Ice Cream

  • 1 tub of vanilla ice cream (doesn’t have to be full)
  • the zest of 1 or 2 mandarins
  • some crystallised ginger chopped finely (1 tbsp should be enough)

Take the ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften for about 5 minutes. It should be soft enough to stir but not melted. Stir in the zest and ginger until evenly distributed and put the ice cream back in the freezer to firm up until you are ready to serve it. How easy is that?

This ice cream is really good with the Mince Pies, would be a perfect accompaniment to Christmas Pudding and is also amazing with the Washer Up’s Rhubarb Crumble…Happy Christmas!!

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