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Gluten free strawberry and elderflower tart

I have been so busy getting into the rhythm with my new teaching job (which I love, btw), that I have not shared a new recipe since August last year!!! And here I am posting a strawberry and elderflower recipe with both strawberry and elderflower season just about done for this year. Boo! But it is so delicious, that I thought it would be worthwhile adding anyway. Hope you will have a chance to make it!

Strawberry tart

Gluten free strawberry and elderflower tart

Serves 8

Ingredients

185g flour (you can use gluten-free)

75g soft brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla paste or seeds from 1 pod

120g unsalted butter, chilled and diced 

1 medium egg, lightly whisked

40ml double (heavy whipping) cream, chilled

1.2 kg delicious sweet strawberries, hulled and halved

elderflower syrup for drizzling

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190˚C and line an lipped baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Combine the dry ingredients and mix. Rub or cut the cubed butter into the flour for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the pastry resembles wet sand (you could use a food processor for this). Set aside.
  3. Whisk the vanilla, egg and cream until blended, then drizzle over the flour mixture and mix until it just comes together. Do not over-mix!!!!
  4. Spoon the pastry onto the baking sheet in dollops and spread out evenly with a spatula or the back of a large metal spoon. You might need an extra pair of hands to hold the paper in place.
  5. Scatter over the halved strawberries, pressing them into the pastry slightly, and bake for 20 – 30 min, or until the pastry has risen and is golden and crunchy around the edges. Remove from the oven and serve with whipped cream and a drizzle of elderflower syrup.

 



Kohlrabi, radish and avocado “ceviche” on corn tortillas

I recently took the plunge and bought a tortilla press. I’m so annoyed with myself that I didn’t do it sooner… I LOVE fresh home-made tortillas. They are super versatile, taste amazing and are gluten-free. The only hassle in the UK is finding the masa harina*, but these days many online stores carry this flour. If you can’t be bothered making them yourself (you could use two heavy frying pans to press them), you can just as easily buy them ready made. The zesty kohlrabi and avocado “ceviche” is a delicious topping, but there are so many other options like Korean BBQ chicken or tofu with sautéed veggies and spicy chimichurri dressing.

*Masa harina is a very finely ground corn flour made from corn (usually white, but can also be blue corn) that’s dried, cooked in water with slaked lime (which gives it a distinctive flavour and increases its calcium content), ground, and dried again. Mixed with water (or sometimes oil), it forms the dough called “masa” that is used to make corn tortillas.

Kohlrabi ceviche

Kohlrabi, radish and avocado “ceviche” on corn tortillas

Makes 16 tortillas

Ingredients for the tortillas

2 cups masa harina

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup hot water

Ingredients for the dressing 

15ml (1 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil

1 small or 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 – 2 medium hot red chillies, finely chopped (deseed first if you prefer less heat)

small knob ginger, roughly chopped

small handful fresh coriander, finely chopped 

125ml (1/2 cup) lime juice (about 5 – 7 limes),  plus extra to taste

Ingredients to serve

1 kohlrabi, cut into julienne

1 large apple, cut into julienne

handful of radishes, cut into julienne 

1 large ripe avocado, sliced

masa tortillas or tostada (toasted tortillas)

Method

  1. For the tortillas: in a bowl mix the masa harina, salt and 1 cup of hot water with a spoon. Now incrementally add the rest of the warm water a tablespoon at a time until you can form a soft dough ball with your hands. You may not need all the water. If the dough isn’t forming a cohesive ball, add a bit more water. But I have found that a too wet or sticky dough doesn’t make for a good tortilla, so rather err on the dry side.
  2. Now pinch off golf ball sized chunks of dough, rolling each between your hands to form a smooth ball.  Press them between two pieces of parchment paper in your tortilla press, between two heavy skillets or with a glass baking dish on your kitchen counter.
  3. When you are ready to cook them, heat a heavy-based pan or skillet to medium-high heat. Add a tortilla and flip after 10 seconds, then cook on each side for 1-2 minutes or until brown spots form on each side. Once you’ve flipped the tortilla the second time, it should puff up. This is a good sign, as it means there is a build up of steam on the inside, which will help cook it. Keep your stack of tortillas warm by covering with a clean tea towel and keeping in a warming drawer, but they are definately best eaten immediately.
  4. For the ceviche: heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion with a large pinch of salt over a medium heat until soft (5 to 10 minutes). Add  the chopped chilli and two of the three chopped garlic cloves, and fry for another couple of minutes. Adjust seasoning and set aside to cool.
  5. In the meantime, grate the ginger and remaining garlic clove, then add this to the chopped coriander and lime juice, and leave to infuse for at least ten minutes. 
  6. Just before serving, combine the fried onion mix, lime juice, kohlrabi, apple, radish and avocado slices, and adjust seasoning. Let each person fill their own tortillas with the mix and enjoy!


Cornbread for breakfast

I often get asked by exhausted and slightly fed-up parents what they should serve their kids for breakfast. I find it so hard to answer that, as my children have had spinach soup, dhal and left-over stew for breakfast… but how do you compress your entire food philosophy into an answer to the simple question: “What’s for breakfast?” The way I’ve explained it to my family is that ANYthing that breaks the fast in the morning qualifies, and if you look at the myriad of breakfasts served around the globe every day, there really are no rules.

Corn bread (1)

A well-balanced meal is your best bet, whatever you choose to serve. In other words it contains enough protein to keep you full for a few hours and prevent cravings, enough carbohydrates to get you going, and enough healthy fat to slow down the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream, providing satiation while helping to avoid major insulin spikes.

Cornbread 2 (1)

This cornbread is a delicious alternative to boxed cereal or toast when served with avocado, chilli jam and eggs, or these delicious homemade baked beans on the savoury version, or nut butter and honey on the blueberry version. It’s easy to prepare the batter the night before – remember to add the baking soda and baking powder only just before baking! – and needs only 20 – 25 minutes or so in a hot oven. There are so many versions of recipes for cornbread, but I have played around for a long time with the proportions and this is one of my favourite end results. Now, this cornbread is certainly not only a breakfast food in our house (in fact, I most often make it as a side dish when we have friends over for a BBQ), so hopefully you will get a chance to try it out soon, morning, noon or night!

Cornbread

Makes two 8” or 20cm skillet cornbreads, or one large bread

Ingredients

230 – 250g (about 1 1/4 cup) cornmeal or polenta bramata (the exact amount depends on how coarsely the cornmeal is ground and the water content of the coconut milk – you are aiming for a wet, but not runny, mixture)

120g (about 1 cup) wholemeal spelt flour (you can also use your favourite gluten-free flour, although the bread won’t be as crispy)

20g (about 2 tablespoons) coconut palm sugar (or use muscovado)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 x 400g can coconut milk (full fat and preferably organic)

3 eggs, lightly whisked

15ml (1 tablespoons) apple cider vinegar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Combine the polenta, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the can of coconut milk in a small heatproof bowl and cover with hot water from the tap for a couple of minutes (this will not be necessary if you live in a hot country!).
  4. Pour the coconut milk and vinegar into the beaten eggs in a thin stream, constantly whisking.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking as you do so.
  6. Heat some coconut oil in a cast iron skillet(s) or other pan with a heavy base on the hob until hot (but not smoking). Or if you are using a small roasting tin / baking sheet with a heavy bottom, heat it in the oven with the oil.
  7. Scrape the cornbread mixture into the hot pan(s) and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until browned on top and the centre springs back when lightly pressed.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out and serving hot. (You could also re-heat the bread in a medium hot oven the next day.)
  9. For a savoury version, add caramelised onions, corn kernels (about 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen), chilli flakes and chopped coriander to the batter before baking and scatter some sliced spring onions on top. For a sweet version add a punnet of blueberries and vanilla powder to the batter, then sprinkle some brown sugar on top before baking.

Cornbread 1 (1)

Cornbread 4 (1)



Slow-roasted strawberries & rhubarb with baked custard

This is the most perfect summer dessert when you have gorgeous, sweet strawberries that need eating and a few sticks of rhubarb searching for a purpose. The baked custard is only ever so slightly sweetened with maple syrup and a few drops of orange oil, so the flavours of the fruit really have the last word.

Baked custard

Slow-roasted strawberries & rhubarb with baked custard

Ingredients

For the roasted fruit

600g small, sweet strawberries, hulled

5 – 6 sticks of rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2 cm pieces

1 orange, zest and juice

45ml (3 tablespoons) honey or maple syrup (or more to taste – I like things super tart!)

 

For the baked custard

1 litre milk of your choice (the fattier the milk, the more delicious the custard)

pinch of salt

7 medium free-range eggs

30ml (2 tablespoons) honey or maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon good quality orange oil, optional

 

Method

  1. Gently toss all the ingredients for fruit in a medium, shallow ovenproof dish and roast at 140˚C for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender when tested with a small sharp knife. Try not to disturb the fruit too much once cooked, as it will be very soft. Set aside.
  2. While the fruit is roasting, prepare the custard. Heat the milk in a saucepan until it starts to froth around the edges (don’t let it boil!). Remove from heat.
  3. Briefly whisk the eggs and maple syrup in a large heatproof bowl, then carefully  pour the hot milk onto the egg mixture, continuing to whisk gently.
  4. Once the fruit has been removed, turn the oven up to 160°C and boil a full kettle of water.
  5. Place a clean cotton or terry cloth in the base of a roasting tin – this will prevent the dish from sliding around. Grease a medium ovenproof dish and place on the cloth. Pour the custard mixture into the dish and put the roasting tin in the oven.
  6. Pour the boiled water around the dish – it should come about halfway up the sides, so you might need to boil a second kettle, depending on the size of your tin.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until just set. Don’t be alarmed if it still looks rather wobbly, as it will continue to set even after you’ve removed the dish from its water bath.
  8. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve chilled with the roasted fruit.

 

DSC_8624

 



Fig and almond cake

Ah, a beautiful, juicy fig… and sunshine. And saltwater hugs. It was so good to be back in South Africa, spending time with family and friends. The kids loved every moment (especially the fact that they could wear shorts most of the time) and I enjoyed the slightly more relaxed pace. On our way from Hermanus to Plettenberg Bay, we stopped at a fig farm and bought a whole box of figs for £3.50! We were all salivating in the car the rest of the journey. We enjoyed them in so many different ways: gobbled up whole, sliced into salads, in smoothies, smashed on buttered toast. And then there was the cake, of course. The first piece eaten very quickly with a dollop of mascarpone. The second piece nibbled a little more slowly, savouring its crumbly texture and delicious flavour.

Figs 2

Figs 3

Ingredients

125g unsalted butter, room temperature
65g (1/2 cup loosely packed) light muscovado sugar
3 medium eggs
160g (roughly 1 cup) whole raw almonds
80g (scant ½ cup) spelt flour or gluten-free flour blend
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
zest from 3 large organic lemons
12 figs, stalk removed and quartered

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a medium sized ovenproof dish (or cake tin).
  2. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for another minute or two.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Process the almonds in a food processor until they resemble a coarse meal. Add this, as well as the flour, baking powder and salt to the mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the lemon zest.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the greased dish, flatten the top with a spatula and press the fig quarters into the batter.
  6. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and crunchy-looking, and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Do not overbake, as it will dry out.

Figs 1



Rhubarb galette with gingerbread spices

This rhubarb galette with gingerbread spices is delicious, straight from the oven, served with vanilla ice cream or slightly sweetened whipped cream. It is easy to make and you can replace the rhubarb with any fruit in season, but remember to take into account how quickly the fruit cooks when deciding on how large to slice or chop it. Slice apples or ripe pears very thinly, pile berries on top, or try chopped pineapple – they all work fantastically well.

Rhubarb galette

Ingredients for the pastry

225g wholemeal spelt flour (I used buckwheat, which works too, but makes the pastry slightly more fragile)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder (usually made by grinding the whole dried vanilla pod) or the seeds from one pod
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
40 – 60ml (2 1/2 – 4) tablespoons ice cold water

Ingredients for the fruit topping

5 cups chopped or sliced rhubarb (or other fruit of your choice)
1 cup light muscovado sugar or coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a few tablespoons ground almonds

Method

  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, vanilla and butter until it resembles wet sand. You can also do this by hand, by rubbing the butter into the dough with your finger tips.
  2. Now add the cold water little by little until the dough just comes together into a ball.
  3. Remove the dough from the food processor and knead briefly until smooth. It shouldn’t be sticky or crumbly – of too sticky, add more flour, if too dry, add a few more drops of ice water. Shape it into a flat disc.
  4. Roll the dough out between two sheets of baking parchment – you are aiming for a thin sheet about 3mm thick, either round or square’ish, and refrigerate on a baking sheet until firm (about half an hour).
  5. Remove the firm dough from the fridge and place on a large baking sheet (still on the parchment paper). Allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.
  6. Mix together the fruit and spices and as soon as the pastry has reached room temperature. Scatter the ground almonds in a circle in the centre (this will prevent the juices that escape during cooking from making the pastry soggy), and spoon the fruit on top.
  7. Fold over the edges, pinching the pastry here and there to keep it in place, and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crunchy, and the fruit tender. Allow to cool sightly before serving.


Watercress, blood orange and beetroot salad with green dressing

After the winter storm that hit most of the UK last week, it finally feels like spring is trying to make an appearance. Along with my appetite for large, colourful salads. Hahaha. Who am I trying to kid… I would eat salads with blizzards howling around me 😉 Whether it is still snowy where you are, or you have secretly started unpacking your summer wardrobe, here is some inspiration for those of you in need of something fresh and refreshing – a watercress, blood orange and beetroot salad with a moorish green dressing.

Winter salad 1

The salad ingredients are really up to you. Here I’ve combined blood oranges, rocket, watercress, spring onions, pomegranate seeds, beetroot, green olives, red chicory and very salty Pecorino cheese. Keep it vegan by omitting the cheese or replacing it with a vegan alternative. Blood orange season is now almost over, but you can use regular oranges, tangerines, minneolas or mandarins too. And any beetroot will do, although this candy (or chioggia) beetroot is particularly beautiful and great raw in salads, as it loses its candy stripes once cooked. I also really love the addition of the chicory here, as it adds a tad of bitterness.

Ingredients for the green dressing

90ml (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
large handful mint leaves
small bunch coriander, leaves and stalks
large pinch of good quality salt
freshly ground black pepper
small knob of ginger
1 garlic clove
maple syrup to taste

Method

  1. Pour the oil and lemon juice in a blender, then add the other ingredients on top.
  2. Blend until smooth and velvety. Pour over the salad, or store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a few weeks. Shake well before use.

Note: to spice things up, you could also add a green chilli to the dressing. For other winter salad inspiration, click here.



Chocolate bark with macadamia nuts, dried banana and sea salt

Another delicious topping for chocolate bark is a combination of toasted macadamia nuts, dried bananas and flaked sea salt. Drizzle everything with melted milk chocolate and ta-dah!

Choc bark blog 1

Chocolate bark with macadamia nuts, dried banana and sea salt

Makes enough for 2 – 4 little bags

Ingredients

150g dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)

large pinch of sea salt flakes

30g (1/4 cup) macadamia nuts, toasted for 5 minutes at 180˚C pre-heated

30g dried bananas, finely chopped

5g popped quinoa, optional

20g milk chocolate

Method

  1. Melt 2/3 of the dark chocolate in a double boiler until just melted, stirring continuously. As soon as it has melted, stir in the rest of the chocolate until all has melted.  You could also melt the chocolate in a microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring after each, until just melted. Do not let the chocolate get warm.
  2. Pour the melted chocolate onto a large piece of greaseproof paper and quickly spread out to about 1/4” thickness with a spatula.
  3. Quickly scatter  over all the toppings  evenly.
  4. While the bark is cooling, melt the milk chocolate in the same way as the dark chocolate.  Either drizzle this over the bark with a spoon or use a small sandwich bag (or piping bag) to pipe the melted chocolate onto the bark. Set aside to cool completely.
  5. Peel away the paper and snap into pieces.


Chocolate bark with strawberries, raspberries and cherries

This is so much fun to make and gift! If you’ve never worked with chocolate before, it may seem intimidating, but even if something goes wrong during the tempering stage, the chocolate bark will still taste delicious, even without that desirable snap.

Choc bark blog 4

You can use any dark chocolate you like, as long as it melts beautifully. And any toppings, really. This combination of freeze-dried strawberries and raspberries, dried sweet cherries and hemp hearts is quite grown up, and not very sweet at all. Play around with your favourite ingredients – perhaps pistachios, dried apricots and raisins, or bits of gingerbread cookie with candied ginger (this is a personal favourite!), or chocolate covered coffee beans, roasted almonds and lemon zest. Or go bananas with these. But whatever you do – give it a go!

Choc bark blog 3

Dark chocolate bark with strawberries, raspberries & cherries

Makes enough for 2 – 4 small bags

Ingredients

150g dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids), very finely chopped

5g (1/4 cup) freeze-dried raspberries

5g (1/4 cup) freeze-dried strawberries

1 teaspoon shelled hemp seeds, optional

40g (1/4 cup) dried sweet cherries, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Melt 2/3 of the chocolate in a double boiler until just melted, stirring continuously. As soon as it has melted, stir in the rest of the chocolate until all has melted.  You could also melt the chocolate in a microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring after each, until just melted. Do not let the chocolate get warm.
  2. Pour the melted chocolate onto a large piece of greaseproof paper and quickly spread out to about 1/4” thickness with a spatula.
  3. Quickly scatter  over all the toppings  evenly, then set aside to cool completely.
  4. Peel away the paper and snap into pieces.


Gluten-free buckwheat and oat granola

Home-made granola is one of the loveliest gifts to give! It doesn’t have to be eaten straight away, you can add many different spices and ingredients to suit the occasion or mood (here I’ve added a gingerbread spice mix and tangerine zest to my gluten-free granola to give it that Christmas vibe), and it can be packaged beautifully.

Version 2

In this recipe for gluten-free buckwheat granola I suggest soaking the buckwheat groats overnight, to increase digestibility. Grains, pulses, legumes, nuts and seeds generally contain phytic acid, which binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract and may lead to mineral deficiencies. By soaking in warm water with added Lactobacilli cultures (found in yoghurt, kefir, whey etc) or an acid, the digestive enzyme (phytase) is activated that helps to break down the phytic acid in as little as 12 hours.

Granola 2 Tangerines

Gluten-free buckwheat and oat granola

Makes  6 cups

Ingredients

100g (1 cup) raw buckwheat groats

300g (3 cups) rolled oats

100g (1 cup) quinoa flakes

70g (1/2 cup) blanched hazelnuts

80ml (1/3 cup) melted coconut oil or butter

80ml (1/3 cup) honey or maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

heaped 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

zest from 4 tangerines

70-80g (1/2 cup) dried cranberries

Method

  1. Rinse the buckwheat groats, then soak overnight in enough water to cover with an inch. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, yoghurt, kefir or lemon juice, as an acidic solution. The next morning drain the buckwheat and tip into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  3. Add the oats, quinoa and roughly chopped hazelnuts to the bowl with the buckwheat.
  4. Whisk the melted coconut oil (or butter) with the maple syrup (or honey), salt, spices and citrus zest.
  5. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix well to coat.
  6. Spread the granola mixture out in an even layer on two lined baking sheets. Use a spatula or a large metal spoon to compress the mixture, then bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Carefully flip pieces over half-way through baking time, as the bits on the edges may burn otherwise.
  7. Allow to cool completely before mixing in the cranberries and storing in an airtight container. Will keep for several weeks.