Friday, 22 September 2017

Zucchini, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Galette

A buttery, flaky crust filled with creamy cheese and bright veggies.  What more to do need to ring in Spring... apart from a nice crisp white, may be.

Zucchini, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Galette

For the Pastry:
1½ cup "00" flour
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
115g cold, unsalted butter, diced
5 - 6 tablespoons iced water

For the Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

For the Filling:
300g zucchini sliced into 1cm pieces (You can use any zucchini you like.  If you're lucky enough to get some baby zucchini with flowers, detach the flowers and reserve them. Cut the zucchni in half lengthwise.)
300g asparagus, tender ends only
180g soft goat cheese
¼ teaspoon sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
2 small red chillies
Handful basil leaves, divided
½ cup Parmesan cheese, divided

Make the Pastry:
Put the flour, Parmesan and salt into a large bowl.  Add the butter and rub it into the flour using your fingertips until the some of the butter is fully incorporated and some is in pea-size pieces (a rubble).  Add 4 tablespoons of the water and use your hands to bring the dough together.  Add more water if needed. Don't over work the dough.  Tip t out onto a piece of plastic film, wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Make the Egg Wash:
Combine the egg and water in a bowl and whisk together.  Set aside.

Make the Filling:
Preheat the oven to 210C. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.  Set aside.

Spread the asparagus and zucchini over the prepared baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.  Set aside.

Combine the goat cheese, zest and egg in a bowl and mix until combined. Set aside.

Make the Galette:
Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.  Set aside.

Roll the pastry out to a 30cm round on a lightly floured work surface. Transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.

Spread the goat cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a 2cm border around the edges.  Sprinkle with half the Parmesan, then arrange the roasted zucchini, asparagus, chillies, half the basil and the reserved zucchini flowers if using, evenly over the top. 

Fold the edges of the dough into the centre. Brush the exposed edges of the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan over the lot.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the crust is golden and filling is hot. Scatter the remaining fresh basil over.

Leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Raw Vegan Caramel Slice

I'm at a stage in my life where I just accept that I'm going to eat two pieces of caramel slice for my lunch and there's no point in arguing with myself about it.

Raw Vegan Caramel Slice
slightly adapted from here

For the Base:
120g blanched, sliced almonds
25g desiccated coconut
6 medjool dates, pitted
60ml melted coconut oil, cooled

For the Filling:
20 medjool dates, pitted
240g almond butter
125ml maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Topping:
60g coconut oil
80ml maple syrup
35 raw cacao powder

Make the Base:
Line a 20cm square cake pan with baking paper.  Set aside.

Place the almonds, coconut, dates and oil into a food processor and blitz to moist crumbs.  Scrape into the prepared pan and press firmly, making it as even as possible.  Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Make the Filling:
Put all of the filling ingredients into a food processor and blitz until as smooth as possible. Spread evenly over the chilled base and return to the freezer for another 15 minutes.

Make the Topping:
Put all the topping ingredients into a heatproof bowl and suspend the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  Stir until melted and smooth, then pour over the filling.  Smooth out to the edges and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before cutting.  Use a hot knife to slice.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Spiced Orange Cake with Rum Raisin Ice Cream

This is the kind of cake you bake when your hens a laying like the clappers and your orange trees are sighing with relief every time you pluck a golden orb from its branches... which would be right about now in my world.

Spiced Orange Cake with Rum Raisin Ice Cream
adapted from here

For the Ice Cream:
1 cup sultanas
1 cup dark rum
150g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
500ml full cream milk
500ml cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Cake:
3 whole oranges
300g ground almonds
300g caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking poweder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 eggs

Make the Ice Cream:
Put the rum and sultanas into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to soak overnight. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the rum. Blitz half of the sultanas in a small food processor to make a paste. Set aside.

Place the sugar and yolks into a medium saucepan.  Whisk until pale and thick, about 2 minutes, add milk and stir until smooth.  Place over medium heat, and stir until the mixture thickens and can coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.  Strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl.  Add sultanas, sultana paste, reserved rum, cream and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the custard, and refrigerate until completely cold.  

Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers instructions.  Eat straight away, or spoon into a freezer-safe container and chill in the freezer to firm up.

Make the Cake:
Put whole oranges (unpeeled) in a saucepan.  Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 2 hours, then drain.  When cool, cut in half and remove the pips, then put them (skin and all) into a food processor and blitz until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 160C.  Grease and line a 24cm round cake tin.  Set aside.

Weigh the orange pulp.  You'll need 450g (discard the rest). Place it back in the food processor, along with all the dry ingredients and the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 60 - 80 minutes, or until the sides start to come away from the tin.  If the cake is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil.

Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin before turning it out.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Roasted Pumpkin and Walnut Salad

At this time of the year, just about every local cafe is selling pumpkin soup as their "soup of the day". Me to the cafes "Come on guys, pumpkin has so much more to offer!!!" (Not to mention, I'd love a bowl of leek and potato soup, or minestrone just to mix things up a bit). If you, like me, can't face another bowl of pumpkin soup without going postal, give this warm spiced salad a try. 

Roasted Pumpkin and Walnut Salad
Serves 4

1kg butternut pumpkin, cut into 1cm thick wedges
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cummin
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
½ cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
½ cup labne

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Set aside.

Put the pumpkin wedges into a bowl.  Set aside.

Put the garlic, cumin, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, lemon zest and juice, salt, olive oil, pomegranate molasses into a bowl and whisk together. Pour 2 tablespoons of it into the bowl with the pumpkin. Toss to coat and lay the pumpkin wedges onto the prepared tray.  Roast for 45 - 50 minutes, until tender and golden.  Remove from the oven and arrange on a serving platter.

Spread the walnuts onto the tray and roast for about 5 minutes, until toasted.  Scatter them over the pumpkin.  Dollop the labne on top and drizzle over the remaining dressing (spiced oil mixture). Finally, sprinkle with parsely and mint.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Vegan Ginger Cookies

First of all, let me start by saying you don't need to be vegan to love these cookies.  I'm not vegan and I ate six of them with coffee.

Vegan Ginger Cookies
Makes 20 - 22
slightly adapted from here

For the Cookies:
115g vegan butter (I use Nuttelex)
130g light brown sugar
45ml aquafaba (the juice from a can of chickpeas)
60g molasses
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
270g "00" flour
75g ground almonds
40g cornflour

For the Glaze:
130g icing sugar
15g - 30g coconut milk

For the Topping:
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Make the Cookies:
Preheat the oven to 190C.  Line two baking trays with baking paper.  Set aside.

Put the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed for 1 minute until smooth.  Add the sugar and beat for another minute.  Add the aquafaba and molasses and beat again. Add the baking power, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and mix to combine. Then add the flour, ground almonds and cornflour.  Mix until combined. If the dough is too soft, add a little extra flour to bring it together.  Cover in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

To make the Topping:
Put the brown sugar and cinnamon into a small bowl and stir to mix. Set aside.

Form and Bake the Cookies:
Use a small cookie scooper or tablespoon measure to scoop the dough. Roll into balls (they will be quite soft) and then carefully roll them in the topping mixture and put them onto the prepared trays. Press them down gently to flatted slightly.

Bake for 10 - 11 minutes until they start to puff and the edges start to dry out. Leave to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Glaze:
Mix the icing sugar with enough coconut milk to make a drizzling consistency.

Spoon the glaze into a disposable piping bag and cut a small hole in the tip.  Pipe lines onto the cookies.

Thursday, 24 August 2017


This is picnic GOLD.  I don't like picnics, but if you served this to me on a blanket, in a park, under a shady tree, on a warm, sunny day, with a glass of good red and chased the bugs away... I might be converted.

slightly adapted from here

For the Giardiniera:
1 teaspoon olive oil
200g cauliflower florets, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme 
3 tablespoons water
100g green olives, finely chopped (I used pimento stuffed olives)
50g black olives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pickled red chillies, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Sandwich:
1 Sicilian Loaf (recipe here or store bought)
100g thinly sliced Italian salami (I used mild sopressa)
150g thinly sliced provolone cheese
100g thinly sliced mortadella

Make the Giardiniera:
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the cauliflower, carrot, oregano, thyme and water.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until softened.  Leave to cool.

Add the olives, chillies and parsley and mix.  Finally, add the vinegar and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Make the Sandwich:
Cut off the top of the loaf and scrape the insides out, leaving about a 1 thick shell.  Spoon enough of the giardiniera in to cover the bottom.  Next, add a layer of salami, then a layer of provolone, then a layer of mortadella.  Repeat the layers one more time and finish with the remaining giardiniera and put with the lid (top of the loaf) on.  Place the entire thing back into the pan the loaf was cooked in (or one the fit snugly around a bough loaf), cover with a piece of baking paper and weight it down with a plate.  Put a heavy can or pot on top of the plate and place the lot into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 150C.  Remove the can/pot and plate from the top of the muffuletta and place the pan onto a baking tray and slide it into the oven.  Warm the muffuletta for about 15 minutes.

Friday, 18 August 2017


Pretending I'm in Paris... or Brest. Either one would be fine.

adapted from here

For the Pastry:
250ml water
100g unsalted butter
Good pinch sea salt flakes
200g plain flour
4 whole eggs

For the Praline:
170g caster sugar
40g water
170g toasted hazelnuts
Good pinch of sea salt flakes
Vegetable oil, for greasing

For the Filling:
200ml full cream milk
2 egg yolks,
70g caster sugar
35g cornflour
150ml cream, whipped to soft peaks
80g toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 egg yolk, for brushing

To Serve:
Icing sugar, for dusting

Make the Pastry:
Draw a 22cm circle onto a large piece of baking paper, turn the paper over so that the ink faces the tray (you should still be able to see the circle through the paper), and place the paper on a large baking tray. This will be your guide for piping. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Put the water, butter and salt into a saucepan, place it over high heat and bring it to a boil.

Remove from the heat and dump the flour in all in one go.

Stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together without any lumps.

Place it back on a low heat and stir until if forms a ball and leaves the side of the pan, a few minutes.

Spoon the dough into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then start mixing at medium-high speed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Spoon the batter into a piping bag and pipe a circle, following the drawn line on the paper as a guide. Pipe another circle on the outside, right next to the first circle. Next, pipe a circle on top of the two circles, overlapping them (see photos above.) Brush the with the egg yolk and sprinkle with some of the toasted hazelnuts from 80g you toasted for the filling.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Praline:
Lightly grease a baking tray and a fork with vegetable oil. Set aside.

Place the water and sugar into a saucepan and swirl the pan to wet all of the sugar. Place over high heat and bring to boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, swirling the pan now and then (do not stir). Once the sugar turns a dark caramel, remove from the heat and add the hazelnuts and salt, stirring with the oiled fork. Immediately, pour the mixture onto the greased tray and spread quickly with the fork. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes, until set.

Once, set, break the praline up into chunks. Put three-quarters of it in a processor. Blitz for about 5 minutes, scraping the sides down occasionally, until it resembles wet sand. Set aside.

Crush the rest of the chunks roughly (to a rubble) in a mortar and pestle and set aside.

Make the Filling:
Put the milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat.In a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks with the sugar for about 1 minutes, until pale and thick. Add the cornflour and whisk until combined. Whisk continuously while you gradually add the hot milk. Once incorporated and smooth, pour it back into the pan and put the pan back over a medium-low heat. Cook until thickened, about 1 - 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add three-quarters of the blitzed praline and whisk. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic sits directly on top of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Once cold, beat with a wooden spoon until it loosens, then gently fold in the whipped cream. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a large plain nozzle. Set aside.

To Assemble:
Cut the pastry rounds in half horizontally. Place the bottom half onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with the reserved blitzed praline. Pipe the praline cream over the top and sprinkle that with the crushed praline chunks. Sandwich with the top half of the pastry and dust with icing sugar.