Thursday, 5 March 2015

Quinoa Bircher Muesli

A girl can't live on croissants alone.

Quinoa Bircher Muesli
slightly adapted from here
Serves 4 - 6

200g (1 cup) white quinoa
500ml (2 cups) water
85g (1/2 cup) sultanas (golden raisins)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60ml (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
250g (1 cup) thick Greek yoghurt, plus extra for serving
2 apples, coarsely grated
2 tablespoon honey, plus extra for serving
Fresh blueberries for serving
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios for serving

Tip the quinoa into a strainer and rinse in cold water. Put it into a medium saucepan and add the 500ml water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Add the sultanas and cinnamon, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Add the orange juice, yoghurt and apples and stir.

Spoon into bowls, top with extra dollops of yoghurt, a handful of blueberries, a drizzle of honey and  sprinkling of chopped pistachios.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

New Fashioned Treacle Tart with Mascarpone Ice Cream


I set out to make a simple mascarpone ice cream today. But it was a bit too simple and after the 2 minutes it took me to mix the ice cream and 20 minutes to churn it, I stood in the kitchen twiddling my thumbs. There was just not enough fiddling and faffing in the ice cream making, and my hands needed more to do. So I made this lush tart to go with. I love it when I under promise and over deliver.

New Fashioned Treacle Tart with Mascarpone Ice Cream
adapted from here

For the Mascarpone Ice Cream:
250g (9 oz) mascarpone
100g (3 1/2 oz) caster sugar
pinch fine sea salt
150ml (5 1/2 fl oz) milk
225ml (8 fl oz) cream
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped

For the Pastry:
125g (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
50g (1 3/4 oz) caster sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
125g (4 1/2 oz) plain flour
80g (2 3/4 oz) shortbread biscuits, blitzed to fine crumbs in a food processor
1 egg

For the Filling:
120g (4oz) unsalted butter
340g (12 fl oz) golden syrup
90g (3 oz) brioche, blitzed to fine crumbs in a food processor
50ml (1 3/4 fl oz) cream
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 egg

Make the Mascarpone Ice Cream:
Put all the ice cream ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour into an ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturers instructions. Spoon into a freezer-proof container and store in the freezer until you are ready to serve.

Make the Pastry:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the salt, flour and shortbread crumbs and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the egg and mix until just incorporated. It will be a sticky dough, not unlike cookie dough. Spoon it out onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap it up tightly. Chill in the refrigerator for at least on hour.

Preheat the oven to 170C (340F).

Take the pastry out of the refrigerator and crumble it into a 23 cm (9 in) loose-bottomed tart pan. Press the crumble into the sides and base of the pan, making sure there are no holes or cracks. Trim off any excess pastry.

Line the pastry with baking paper, pour in some baking weights and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and paper and return the tart to the oven to cake for a further 5 - 10 minutes, or until cooked through and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 160C (325F).

Make the Filling:
Melt the butter in a medium pan over medium heat until it turns nut-brown. Remove from the heat and add the golden syrup. Stir to combined. Add the brioche crumbs and whisk in the cream, salt and egg and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the cooled filling into the cooked tart case and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 140C (275F) and cook for a further 20 minutes. The filling should be just set, and should have a slight wobble in the centre.  Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with scoops of Mascarpone Ice Cream.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

In My Kitchen - March 2015

Here's what's happening in my kitchen at the moment...

Mexico: the Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte:

Husband bought me this book: The book to end all books on Mexican cuisine. I may never need another book on Mexican food... but don't hold me to that.
Chocolate: Lindt Raspberry Intense:

This is the newest flavour in this line of products by Lindt. Is there any better flavour combo than raspberry and chocolate? On Sunday afternoons, after a morning of watching your children play sport, there's nothing like putting your feet up and breaking off a corner and letting it slowly melt on your tongue... or scoffing three chunks without letting it touch the sides. Both scenarios work for me.

Beautiful Mezze Bowls:

My young sons bought me these bowls as a gift. I love them... the bowls and my children.  I can see them filled with marinated olives, nuts, hummus, baba ganoush, dukkah, pickles, tzatziki... the bowls and my children.


I've been baking tons of sourdough everything lately... like this, this and this. Flour + Salt + Water = MAGIC.

Home Grown Tomatoes:

My life is currently being run by tomatoes. I have bottled them, made them into sauces, jams and relishes. I've eaten them in sandwiches, soups and stews. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Tomaotes4Lyfe - or Tomatoes4March, anyway.

Anyway, that's my kitchen for now.

Pop on over and check out the links to bloggers’ kitchens around the world at In My Kitchen on
Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

Friday, 27 February 2015

Big As Your Head Oat, Pecan and Orange Cookies

My kids eyes bugged out when they saw a stack of giant cookies on the kitchen bench when they came home from school. They must have thought all their Christmas's had come at once, until I told them they had to share one between the two of them because it was so close to dinner time. Then is was a matter of serious negotiations. There was lots of measuring and weighing and eye-balling sizes and discussions about who owned what territory and what compromises each had to make. It was like listening to a couple of politicians.

Big As Your Head Oat, Pecan and Orange Cookies
adapted from here
Makes 10

130g (1/2 cup) mejool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons orange juice
300g (2 cups) plain (all -purpose) flour
180g (2 cups) traditional rolled oats
60g (1/2 cup) finely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
150g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
125ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup
330g (1/1/2 cups) golden caster sugar
250ml (1 cup) cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

Preheat the oven to 160C (325F). Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Set aside.

Put the dates and orange juice into a processor and blitz until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, pecans, orange zest, ginger and cinnamon and stir to combine. Set aside.

Put the butter, maple syrup, sugar, cream and vanilla seeds into a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until everything is melted together. Bring to the boil and cook for about 6 minutes - we are effectively making butterscotch here. Pour the butterscotch mixture over the oat mixture. Add the date and orange puree and stir the lot together to combine.

Working in batches, dollop 1/2 cups of the mixture onto the trays and spread to form a thin 18 cm circle. I used an 18 cm tart ring to shape the cookies. Allow room for the cookies to spread a little.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool completely on the trays.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Warm Salad of Spiced Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Torn Sourdough Croutons

There's been a rather massive calorie onslaught in my kitchen lately. I've been eating cake in varying guises for breakfast, lunch and dinner over the last week.  So, today is salad day. A veggie-filled bowl to bring balance to my life (and get my thighs back into my jeans).

Warm Salad of Spiced Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Torn Sourdough Croutons
adapted from here
Serves 6 - 8

For the Dressing:
200ml extra virgin olive oil
50ml pomegranate molasses
50ml lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad:
6 thick slices day-old sourdough, roughly torn
2 x 400g cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
150ml olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground  coriander
12 Roma tomatoes
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed
200g feta, broken into bite-size chunks
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Make the Dressing:
Whisk all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set side.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Put the torn sourdough into a roasting pan in one layer. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until dry and crisp. Set aside.

Put 60ml of oil to a medium frying pan and place on medium low heat. Add the chickpeas, spices and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook gently for about 5 minutes, lightly crushing the chickpeas with the back of a wooden spoon. Set aside.

Grate 4 of the tomatoes into a bowl, discarding the skins. Chop the remaining tomatoes into small dice. Add the chopped onion, chopped parsley, crushed garlic and 45ml of oil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper to taste. Set aside.

Drizzle the dressing over the bread in the baking tray. Spoon the tomato mixture on top of the bread, followed by the spiced chickpeas. Push chunks of the feta into the mixture here and there and sprinkle with the dried oregano. Drizzle with the remaining oil.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the feta starts to go golden at the edges. Serve warm.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Greek Sesame Bread Rings (Koulouri Thessalonikis)

For when you want to break out the Ouzo, sit in the sun, munch on golden, sesame crusted bread rings with olives and cheese and pretend you're on a Greek Island... which is every day really.

Greek Sesame Bread Rings (Koulouri Thessalonikis)
Makes 10
adapted from here

500g (19 oz) baker's flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
300ml (10.5 oz) lukewarm water
8g (1 sachet) dry active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses mixed with 1/4 cup water for coating
250g (9 oz) sesame seeds for coating

Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

Place the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar in a the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy. Uncover and add the flour, salt and olive oil. Mix in low speed for 5 - 7 minutes until the dough comes together and forms a smooth, elastic ball. Add a little more water if the dough is too dry, or a little more flour if the dough is too sticky. It should be soft and should come away from the bowl cleanly.

Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and knead for a few minutes. Cut it into 10 even portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Poke a finger through the middle of the balls and stretch the dough out to form a circle about 12cm in diameter (don't get your ruler out).

Spread the sesame seeds onto a baking tray. Mix the pomegranate molasses and water together in a bowl. Dip each bread ring into the pomegranate molasses mixture, then straight into the sesame seeds, coating them thickly. Lay the rings on the prepared trays. leaving room for them to spread a little. Cover the trays loosely with plastic wrap and leave them in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).

Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Coconut Bread - Gluten Free

I would have published this earlier today if I hadn't decided to go for my run first. Or if I hadn't swung by the supermarket to pick up some supplies for the weeks baking after my run. Or if I hadn't desperately needed a cappuccino and another slice of Coconut Bread after shopping. Or decided to brown the pork ribs and Italian sausages for tonights Sopranos Sunday Gravy. My day is all messed up, but at least I have Coconut Bread and Sunday gravy on Monday.

Anyhooo, here's some Coconut Bread for ya. Enjoy!

Coconut Bread - Gluten Free
adapted from here
For the Gluten Free Flour Blend:
2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cups white rice flour
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1 1/3 cups cornflour
1/2 potato flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
2 teaspoons xanthan gum

Mix the Gluten Free Flour Blend:
Sift all the ingredients for the Gluten Free Flour Blend in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. This will make more than you need for this recipe, but you can store the remaining flour blend in an airtight container ready to use in your next gluten free recipe.

For the Coconut Bread:
2 eggs
300ml buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend (above)
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup golden caster sugar
150g shredded coconut
75g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Spray a 23 cm x 13 cm  (9 inch x 5 inch) loaf pan and line it with baking paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs lightly and add the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat lightly again to combine. Set aside.

Place the  2 1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and coconut into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the egg mixture and stir until incorporated. Add the melted butter and stir until you have a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Leave the bread to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack.

To Serve:
Cut into thick slices and slather with jam, or toast it and spread with butter and then dust with icing sugar - either way, it's delicious.