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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sticky Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Herbs

IMG_2126Sweet, sticky cherry tomatoes slow baked with fresh herbs. The flavour really intensifies with the long cooking! Serve on their own, as part of a salad, as a side dish with scrambled eggs for instance, or heaped on crusty bread as part of an antipasto platter.

Ingredients

15 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp caster sugar

Ground black pepper

A handful thyme sprigs and/or rosemary sprigs

1/2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

Salad greens and Irish soda bread to serve

Method

Preheat the oven the 130 degrees C. *

Place the tomatoes cut side down in baking dish, sitting them snugly next to each other. Scatter with the fresh herb sprigs. Sprinkle over the salt, sugar and black pepper. Pour over the extra virgin olive oil, making sure all the tomatoes are covered.

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Place the tomatoes in the oven, then cook for 1.5 hrs or until the tomatoes are soft and slightly shriveled.

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Remove from the oven, dress with the aged balsamic and leave to cool.

Serve at room temperature, as a side dish or salad.

Or as I did with radicchio lettuce and my Irish soda bread with black treacle: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/04/27/irish-soda-bread-with-black-treacle

*If you wanted to cook the tomatoes really slowly, cook at 100 degrees C for 2.5 – hours.IMG_2090

 

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Berry, Apple, Golden Syrup and Oat Flapjacks

IMG_2186I found a recipe for flapjacks while surfing the internet for “tray bakes”. As a food etymologist I was intrigued by the name, not overly used in Australia. We tend to talk more of “slices”.

The following recipe is very loosely based on one of my finds, Blackberry and apple oaty flapjacks: http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/511747/blackberry-and-apple-oaty-flapjacks.

My traybake turned out more of a tart as it was quite soft. I think the apple makes it soft, so you could try less apple to firm it up or cook it for longer.

My next incarnation of the flapjack will be apple-free and I’ll make the berries into jam before cooking. Watch this space!

Ingredients

1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and chopped

200g  rolled  oats

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs store bought caramel

200g fresh or frozen mixed berries

2 tbs golden syrup

Crumble topping:

60g rolled oats

1 tbs butter cut into small pieces

1 tbs golden syrup

Handful of flaked almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a medium sized baking tin. I used a flan mold for something different.

Place the chopped apple in a saucepan with enough water to cover.  Put on the lid and cook until soft.  Drain the water and puree or mash the apple.

Mix the oats and the cinnamon in a large bowl, add the apple and caramel and combine well.

Spread the oat mixture Into the base of the tin or flan and spread out into an even layer.

Scatter the mixed berries on top of the oat mixture, having cut in half any larger berries such as strawberries.  Drizzle the golden syrup over the berries.

To make the crumble topping, combine oats, butter and extra golden syrup.

Spoon the crumble mixture over the berries, lastly scattering the flaked almonds.

Press down slightly to stick the layers together. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the flapjack is golden brown and the berry juices are bubbling.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before cutting into pieces.

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Crunchy Granola Suite

IMG_2050This is one of many variations on the muesli theme that I recently made. I’m a firm believer that muesli and granola can be concocted from whatever you have in the store cupboard by way of grains, seeds, nuts and dried fruit.

The variations are endless. I regularly visit The Source at Balmain, a treasure trove of all of the above plus flours, sugars, honey and oils.

I toasted this batch to make granola. Not a particular fan of Neil Diamond, however, I like any song named after food!

I added a little honey and oil to the mixture for extra crunch and to make it “clump”. When I’m being ultra healthy, I leave them out, but the result, while virtuous, is not as moreish!

Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup kapai puku seed mix

1/2 cup spelt  flakes

1/4 cup pistachios

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup coconut flakes

1/4 cup any neutral vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey (any honey – but a lovely bush honey will give a robust flavor to the granola)

Any dried fruit you fancy: I used raisins, sultanas, apricots and figs

Method

Preheat the oven to low, about 140 degrees C. Combine the grains, nuts and coconut in a bowl.

Gently heat the oil and honey in a microwave or in a saucepan on the stove top to combine. Stir into the mixture.

Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet or large pan lined with baking paper in one thin layer.IMG_1923

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the grains and nuts are slightly browned and toasty, and are clumped together.IMG_1998

Remove from the oven, and when cool, add the dried fruits.

Serve with milk, yoghurt or fresh fruit. I often mix the granola with other cereals for different textures and tastes.

 

 

Shakshouka: The 5-2 Diet

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This is a great recipe from the Fast Diet Recipe Book by Mimi Spencer.
The 5-2 Fast Diet Intermittent Fasting really works, and is great for people like me who love their food and don’t want to deprive themselves every day! It’s based on the idea of 2 days of very low calorie intake – 500 calories for women, 600 for men – and 5 days of normal eating.
Worth checking out if you haven’t already done so. Dr Michael Mosley is the brains behind the concept.
http://thefastdiet.co.uk/
“Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and onions often spiced  with cumin. It is believed to have a Tunisian  origin”.
I love the dish as it’s so tasty and moreish and is great for breakfast or lunch or dinner!
I omitted the red pepper in the original recipe as I don’t like them. Feel free to put it back in for the authentic recipe.
The recipe serves 2, although even eating the whole dish yourself doesn’t break the calorie bank.
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Ingredients

1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
2 free range eggs
1 tbsp parsley and coriander, chopped

Method

Heat a medium sized frying pan and add the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, with the spices, and simmer for a further 5-7 minutes until the sauce starts to reduce.
Season, and crack the eggs directly over the tomato mixture. Cover with a lid or a large plate and cook until the egg whites are firm but the yolks still runny.

Scatter the chopped parsley and coriander over the top of the dish and serve, rustic style, in the frying pan.IMG_1821

 

 

 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots

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I found this recipe in a fabulous cook book of mine, the Silver Palate Cookbook. This book, plus the follow up The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, are treasure troves of stunning recipes; some hearty, some fancy, some healthy, some decadent!
The carrot cake recipe is unusual is that it contains cooked carrots. These give the cake a deep, slightly caramelized, flavour.
I have added ground ginger as well as cinnamon, as ginger works well with carrot. You can omit the walnuts, as I did in the pictured cake, for your nut free friends.
The candied baby carrots were my addition, and they looked really pretty and tasted great!
Ingredients
Carrot Cake

3 cups plain flour
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbl bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground ginger
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 1/2 walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 1/3 cup pureed cooked carrots
3/4cup drained crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting

250gms cream cheese, at room temperature
100gms reduced salt butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla pate
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease two 23 cm springform tins.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in the walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins. Place on the centre rack of the oven and bake until the edges have pulled away from the sides and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, about  50 minutes.

Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours. Fill and frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting.

Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in the icing sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. Mixture should be free of lumps. Stir in vanilla, and lemon juice if desired.

Decorate with candied carrots and sifted icing sugar.

Candied Carrots

Take 6 baby carrots, trim, leaving some green tops.
Keep smaller carrots whole and slice larger carrots in halves or quarters through the length of carrot.

In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Add carrots, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until carrots are translucent, about 25 minutes.

In another small saucepan, combine 1.5 cups of sugar with .5 cup water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer candied carrots from the syrup in which they boiled to this new sugar syrup. Let stand until completely cooled; discard the old syrup.

Transfer carrots to some baking paper, gently pat dry with kitchen towel. The carrots can be used to decorate the cake or stored for a couple of days in an airtight container.

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Salted Caramel Cake Bar

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Salted caramel cake bar began life as a blondie, but on making it for the first time it was clear that the baking powder and the eggs make it much more cake like, and I have re-named it. Maybe it’s a cakey slice? Or a blondie cake?

Ingredients

2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup salt reduced butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 cups light brown sugar
2 free range eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup caramel * (warmed in microwave)
Sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line a 22 cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Put melted butter and brown sugar in a food processor and whizz until completely dissolved. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and fold gently with a rubber spatula into the mixture.

Press half of the mixture into the prepared tin (it will be quite soft), smoothing the top with a spatula.

Stir the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt over the caramel. Pour the  caramel on top of the mixture and spread in an even layer, leaving about a 1centimetre of space around the edges.

Drop the remaining mixture in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread with the spatula until the caramel is covered. Sprinkle the mixture with a little sea salt if you want a really salty  taste.

Bake the cake bar for about 20 minutes, or until the top is brown and a skewer inserted into the bar comes out with just a thin coating of caramel. Cool the bar to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into squares to serve.

*Nestle Top Fill is great for the caramel.

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Jamie Oliver’s Smoked Salmon and Yorkshire Pudding

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This recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals. It’s basically a big Yorkshire pudding with smoked salmon, char-grilled asparagus and baby beetroot, with a yoghurt sauce. I added some char-grilled green beans. I simply served the cooked beetroot as is, without caramelising it as Jamie suggests in his recipe.

Jamie cooks the Yorkie in an oven proof frying pan; I don’t have one (yet!) so I cooked it in a cake tin, omitting the first step of cooking the batter in the frying pan on the stove top.

Here is the Jamie original from 15 Minute Meals:

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It’s a great recipe – really easy and super fast. Maybe not quite 15 minutes – but not much more!

Ingredients

Yorkshire pudding
Olive oil
2 large eggs
150ml low fat milk
65g plain flour
180g smoked salmon

Asparagus, Beans and Beetroot
1 bunch of asparagus
A handful of green beans
Juice of ½ lemon
6 baby beetroot

Sauce
3 heaped tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
1 heaped tsp horseradish or French mustard

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sized cake tin and place in the oven and heat till the oil is really hot.

Put the eggs into a blender or food processor, add the milk and flour, then blitz until smooth.

Carefully pour the batter into the hot cake tin and cook in the oven until golden (about 12 minutes). Don’t be tempted to open the oven door!

Trim the asparagus and beans and put dry on a hot char grill plate or barbecue, turning until nicely charred on all sides.

Drain and slice the beetroot, then place over some salad greens on a board or plate. Mix the yoghurt and horseradish or mustard in a bowl, then season to taste with salt.

Squeeze lemon juice over the asparagus and beans, add salt and pepper, and pile on the board or plate.

When the Yorkshire pudding is really high and puffed up, remove from the oven, slide it on to the board or plate and place the smoked salmon on top of the pudding.

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