September 30, 2011

Simple preserved lemons


I've been going through my stuff, drawer by drawer, organising, de-cluttering and trying to decide what stays and what goes. Now is the best time to do this, before we settle in to our new home. No matter how simple life I've tried to lead, I have somehow managed to accumulate a fair bit of stuff during these 6 years in Australia. I'm trying to be brutal, but remain reasonable, as I sort my way through clothes, bags, books, linen, etc etc.

This morning I took some time off to prepare these simple preserved lemons. This is certainly not something I grew up making or eating, but in recent years I've learned to appreciate the flavour and I love adding some preserved lemon into many dishes. I recommend you use unwaxed, organic lemons for this as it is the zest you'll be using. Otherwise the process is dead simple, although a little patience is needed.



 Simple preserved lemons
(recipe adapted from taste.com.au)

4 whole organic lemons
+ 5-6 organic lemons, juiced
1/2 cup good sea salt 

1. Scrub the lemons clean. Cut a half a centimetre piece out of the bottom of each lemon.

2. Place the lemons, cut side down, on a chopping board and cut a deep cross-section on each lemon. Fill the cavities with salt. 

3. Place the lemons in a sterilised jar, squash them down if needed. 

4. Pour enough lemon juice on top to cover the lemons. Seal the jar and leave in a dark, cool place for about 4 weeks. Make sure to check up on the lemons every now and then and re-fill the jar with lemon juice to keep all the lemons covered.

5. To consume, remove the lemon from the brine, rinse and cut the rind discarding the flesh and the white pith.


September 28, 2011

Wholewheat couscous salad


Have you or your partner changed your diet since you started dating? I mean changes like, eating healthier (or vice versa), eating out more/less, and so on. I would think that most of us have one way or another adapted our eating habits since our single days - how much, depends on how different your partner's diet was to start off with.

I was quite fortunate as my fiancé was brought up in a very similar way to me: we both ate healthy home-made meals and eating out was saved for special occasions. Nevertheless, I think I have still had an impact on how we are eating now, and the meals I cook are quite different to what our mums would cook for us.

The reason I am thinking about this now is that last night I spoiled my fiancé with home-made chicken schnitzels and mashed potato. This is a dish his mum used to make, and made with good quality ingredients, it isn't that unhealthy, but I still wouldn't cook very often.

Whenever I cook meat for my fiancé, I make a vegetarian meal for myself. Often it's a salad, as I don't like a heavy meal in the evening anyway. When I do want something heartier, grains like couscous are so easy to prepare and I love the nutty flavour of wholewheat couscous pared with spices, nuts and veggies.

 Wholewheat couscous salad
(serves 2-4)

200g wholewheat couscous
250ml boiling water
1 orange, zest finely grated and juice saved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cummin
1/2 teaspoons dried mint
1/2 lemon, juice
400g tin organic chickpeas (no salt added)
1 carrot, coarsely grated/julienned
sultanas/nuts (optional)

1. Place the couscous, salt, cummin, mint, zest of an orange, and olive oil in a bowl. Pour half of the orange juice and all the boiling water on top and cover the bowl. Leave for a few minutes, then fluff with a fork.

2. Add rest of the orange juice, lemon juice, chickpeas and carrots. Add any optional extras, like sultanas or nuts. Toss and serve immediately.

September 26, 2011

Marinated tofu with seasonal vegetables


There is an inevitable amount of Asian influence around our home. My partner being half-Japanese, I have learned to adapt and embrace the cultural influences in all aspects of my life. It is no secret that I adore the Japanese cuisine and love including the Japanese flavours in my every-day meals.

It is also no secret that I love tofu and can eat it on its own, in salads, soups, marinated, stir-fried, in all forms possible. There is nothing new about a quick vegetable stir-fry, but it is the marinade in this dish that should soften the hardest tofu-sceptics out there. This will no doubt be my new favourite and I have yet again one more delicious way to enjoy tofu.

You can use any seasonal veggies you happen to have. Try adding snow peas, shallots, green garlic, even nuts. If you're a chilli lover, add some fresh chilli in the mix too.

Marinated tofu with seasonal vegetables
(serves 2-4)
(Recipe adapted from Clean Start by Terry Walters)

350g extra-firm tofu (non-GMO), cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon 'white' miso  
knob of fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 small carrots, julienned
1 broccoli, florets halved and stem julienned
1 red capsicum/pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tamari
sesame oil, to taste

1. To make the marinade, mix the miso, ginger, sesame seeds, brown rice vinegar, maple syrup and water in a bowl. Add the tofu and leave to marinade for half an hour.

2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the onion slices and sautee for one minute. Add the carrots and the broccoli stems and sautee for a further couple of minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Next add the capsicum, along with the broccoli florets onto the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, they needn't be soft, just slightly tender and crunchy. Add the carrots, broccoli stem and onion back into the pan. Season with tamari and sesame oil. Stir well, then remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Finally add the tofu, along with the marinade onto the pan. Fry for a few minutes turning the tofu to ensure even coating.

5. Serve the marinated tofu with the vegetables.


September 24, 2011

Gluten-free coconut cakes


After a hot and dry Friday, the weekend is supposed to be quite rainy and cold here in Sydney. I don't mind the change, especially since the rain will hopefully wash away the dust in the air and on the streets and provide much needed refreshment for my plants in my kitchen garden. It is also a perfect time to catch up on unfinished jobs, which seem to be piling up these days. I have numerous articles to finish, recipes to test and craft projects to do, so rainy day is more than welcome!

These little coconut cakes are a bit of a weekend indulgence. They are rich in flavour, but perfect with a cup of tea. You may want to use a smaller tin, however, as these really are quite fulfilling.

Have a lovely weekend!

Coconut Cakes
(makes about 4-6 small cakes)
 (recipe adapted from taste.com.au)

100g raw caster sugar
75g sorghum flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
45g desiccated coconut
30g almond meal
3 large free-range egg whites
100g extra-virgin coconut oil
unrefined icing sugar, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 200C and prepare a muffin tin. 

2. In a bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, coconut and almond meal. 

3. Stir in the egg whites and melted coconut oil. 

4. Spoon the batter into muffin tins and bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of your tins), or until the cakes feel firm to touch.

5. Cool on a wire rack before dusting with icing sugar.



September 22, 2011

The last of the apples - Apple and sultana loaf

 

As the northern hemisphere salutes the new-season apples, us on the other side of the globe are farewelling this fruit and moving on to the summer produce. I am not ready to let go of apples just yet, however, as this simple loaf savoured with some smooth ricotta and honey is such an irresistible treat for a morning tea.

 

Apple and sultana loaf


200g organic, whole spelt flour
50g lupin flour*
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
100g natural sultanas
500g organic, unsweetened apple sauce**
2 large, free-range egg whites

1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line a medium size loaf tin with baking paper.

2. Place the dry ingredients, including the sultanas, into a bowl and mix to combine.

3. Stir in the apple sauce.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites into soft peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the rest of the batter. 

5. Bake the loaf for about an hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving. Serve fresh or toasted with soft ricotta and honey.

Notes to the recipe.

* lupin flour is available at health-food stores. If you are unable to find it, you can replace it with besan (chickpea) or sorghum flour, or use 40g of wheat or oat germ instead.

** Unsweetened apple sauce is also available at health-food stores. If you are unable to find it, you can replace it with finely grated apples.

September 20, 2011

Asparagus and Haloumi Salad


I cannot think another vegetable that would scream "SPRING!" more than the mighty asparagus does. As soon as I see these fleshy greens appear in the green grocers and at the markets, I know that spring has truly sprung and the warmer weather and the sunny days are finally here. I don't think there is any magic as how to best enjoy them - just look for young and green spears, and I personally prefer the thinner ones as they tend to be sweeter in flavour and not as woody as the thicker ones.


This quick lunch is such a breeze to prepare. I love haloumi for its saltiness and it really gives a lovely contrast for the mild asparagus. You could use hazelnuts, macadamias or walnuts in place of slivered almonds, and if you don't have raspberry vinegar, just replace it with some balsamic - I think that'd be just as tasty. 
  
Asparagus and Haloumi Salad
(serves 2-4)

200g haloumi, cut into slices
1 bunch of asparagus, washed and trimmed
small handful of slivered almonds
raspberry vinegar
extra-virgin olive oil

1. Bring water to a boil in a large kettle. Add the asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain, then refresh the asparagus under running cold water. Set aside. 

2. Dry-fry the slivered almonds in a frying pan until golden brown. Set aside.

3. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the haloumi slices on both sides until golden. 

4. To assemble, divide the haloumi slices and the asparagus on the plates. Sprinkle each portion with slivered almonds and drizzle with raspberry vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

September 18, 2011

Gluten-free strawberry and wattleseed muffins and rhubarb juice


Hi friends!

It's been marvellously sunny and warm here in Sydney for the past few days and I am really loving the smell of blooming spring flowers and the warm breeze that comes through the open windows. The mornings are much brighter and the days are getting longer - Summer is on its way!


I am also happy to let you know that we have finalised the deal for our new home and will be moving in later this spring! I am so excited about planning the interiors for the new place. After five years of living together we have of course accumulated a lot of stuff, but we will need to buy some new furniture as our new home will be quite a lot bigger than our current one. I will try to plan this carefully and select pieces that are perhaps a bit pricier but better quality and therefore (hopefully) longer lasting. Anyway, it's all exciting stuff and I'll be updating you guys regularly when things really start happening.


In the mean while, here's a little Sunday morning treat I made for this sunny spring day. I used roasted ground wattleseed to give these muffins a little extra flavour, but if you can't find wattleseed (a native Australian spice), you could replace it with cinnamon. Wattleseed has a nice coffee-like flavour that goes really well with the ingredients used in these muffins. I'm serving these treats with some refreshing rhubarb juice which is so simple to make and beats any of those sugar and preservative loaded shop-bought juices any day.

Hope you are all enjoying the weekend!

 


Gluten-free Strawberry and Wattleseed Muffins
(makes 8-10)

100g raw caster sugar
110g teff flour
110g sorghum flour
55g almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Maldon)
1 teaspoon ground wattleseed
175ml water
75ml olive oil
2 large free-range eggs
3-4 fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and prepare a 10 or 12 cup muffin tin. 

2. Mix the caster sugar, flours, almond meal, baking powder, salt and wattleseed in a bowl. 

3. Whisk the water, olive oil and eggs in a jug. 

4. Pour the egg mixture in to the dry ingredients and stir quickly together. 

5. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and top each muffin with a slice of strawberry. Gently press the strawberry slices into the batter.

6. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a tester inserted in to the muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

 

 Rhubarb Juice*
(makes about 1 litre)

500g rhubarb, cut into pieces
1 lemon, peeled and cut into slices
boiling water
raw sugar, to taste

* you need to start this recipe a day ahead. 

1. Layer the rhubarb and the lemon slices into a clean jar. 

2. Top the pieces with boiling water. 

3. Close the jar and keep it covered (with a tea towel) in room temperature for about 24 hours. Half-way through, gently mash the rhubarb in the jar. Close the jar and continue to let "brewing".

4. Sieve the juice, add sugar to taste and enjoy. This will keep in the fridge for about 3 days. 


September 16, 2011

Gluten-free Rhubarb and Raisin Betty


Remember that nerve wrecking thing I was talking about last week? Well, today we are a step closer to having a new home! That's right, we have found a place we both like and that ticks all the boxes (or at least most of them) in our list. However, I prefer not to give too many details just yet, as we are still finalising the deal and I am too paranoid and superstitious to jinx anything! I will certainly share more info and photos with you as soon as I can.

Nevertheless, I thought it was appropriate to celebrate this occasion with a little treat. This gluten-free rhubarb and raisin betty (a crumble with multiple layers) is made with teff and sorghum flour and quinoa flakes, which results in a soft 'sand-like' texture. I love the rich flavour of teff flour and I think it goes so nicely with rhubarb. Since I've used extra-virgin coconut oil and 'soft' flours in this dish, the outcome is not a crunchy crumble, but more finer texture. I had it on its own, but if you have some good vanilla bean ice cream or even thick Greek yoghurt, I think it would go very well with this. Enjoy!


 Gluten-free Rhubarb and Raisin Betty

250g rhubarb, cut into 1 cm pieces
small handful of crimson raisins (or normal raisins)
1 tablespoon natural raw vanilla sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon

50g teff flour
70g sorghum flour
pinch of ground cinnamon
35g natural raw vanilla sugar
80g extra-virgin coconut oil
50g quinoa flakes

1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease an oven proof dish (my round dish measures about 20cm). 

2. Combine the rhubarb, raisins, a tablespoon of raw vanilla sugar (or rapadura sugar and natural vanilla paste) and ground cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Place both of the flours, cinnamon and the sugar in a separate bowl. Add the coconut oil (which should be soft butter-like consistency, not liquid) and using your fingers, work the dough into sand-like mixture. 

4. Place half of the rhubarb and raisin mixture on the bottom of the dish. Spread half of the flour mixture on top, then add the rest of the rhubarb mixture on top of that. Add the quinoa flakes to the remaining part of the flour-coconut oil mixture and spread on top of the last layer of rhubarb. 

5. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake about 10 minutes. Rhubarb should be soft, but don't worry if the quinoa on top looks "undercooked", it will be fine. Enjoy warm (or cold!) on its own or with good vanilla bean ice cream or thick Greek yoghurt.


September 14, 2011

Quinoa salad with papaya and avocado


This salad was inspired by an amazing fruit box I received as a birthday gift from work - the box contained the best seasonal fruit, including bananas which I haven't had for so many months due to extremely high prices here in Sydney! It felt like luxury to have bananas again... and there were other treats in the box too, including delicious apples, pears, grapes, strawberries, a juicy mango, papaya...

This quinoa salad I made is definitely one of my favourites, and it's so quick to prepare it won't really require any particular effort at all. I love experimenting with new flavour combinations and as strange it may sound, dill goes really well with the flavours in this dish.


Quinoa salad with papaya and avocado
(serves 2)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 papaya, cut into cubes
1/2 avocado, cut into cubes
1 small lemon, juiced
10cm piece of leek, finely sliced
3 tablespoons of fresh dill, finely chopped
extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of sea salt

1. Cook the quinoa in 1 1/2 cups of water for 10 minutes, then leave, covered, for 5 minutes. 

2. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, then combine with papaya, avocado and leek. 

3. Season with lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and dill. Toss well to combine and serve.

Some of my birthday flowers are still looking gorgeous! Thank you Elizabeth!

September 12, 2011

Buckwheat filled mushrooms


Thank you all for your kind comments on my birthday - I felt so lucky to have so many loving people in my life! My birthday ended up being a rather emotional and nerve wrecking day, but I might have some really good news to share with you later this week, so stay tuned! ;-) It also happened to be pretty much the only day it rained here in Sydney, so in between eating cake I did some sewing, watched a movie and gave moral support to my fiancé who was dealing with everything related to that nerve wrecking thing I mentioned above.

Fortunately Saturday dawned a bit clearer and I had a lovely fika with my gorgeous Swedish friend and spent time outdoors. It literally felt like the dark clouds had been swiped away! Yesterday there was more celebrations as we enjoyed a delicious kaiseki lunch with my fiancé's parents at a local Japanese restaurant. All in all it was a memorable and lovely weekend!

 

So how do these buckwheat filled mushrooms relate to all of the above? Well they don't, but after a big lunch I really didn't feel like having a heavy dinner and these portobello mushrooms were a perfect light meal to end the day. I love the crunchy buckwheat and I rather under-cook it just a little than let it go all mushy and porridge-like. Pared with rosemary (a little garlic and lemon zest too , if you wish) and tiny bit of cheese they are such a simple thing to enjoy.


 Buckwheat filled portobello mushrooms
(4 portions)

4 portobello mushrooms, stalked removed
1/2 cup raw buckwheat kernels
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
small clove of garlic, finely grated, optional
zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated, optional
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of salt
3-4 tablespoons grated cheese of your choice 
extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 180C. 

2. Cook the buckwheat in plenty of water for about 5-10 minutes or until just slightly tender. Check after 5 minutes, then cook it to your liking, but remember it will continue to soften in the oven!

3. Drain the buckwheat and stir in the rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. 

4. Fill the cavities of the mushrooms with the buckwheat mixture, then sprinkle some cheese on top of each mushroom. Drizzle the mushrooms lightly with some good extra-virgin olive oil.

5. Place the mushrooms in an oven proof dish, cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes or until softened, but not too mushy. Serve warm. 

September 09, 2011

30


Today I turn 30. It's a nice round number don't you think? I am expecting much more authority and credibility with this age, but lets face it... 30 really isn't that old, now is it ;-)

The last year of my 20's has certainly been one of the most memorable years so far. We travelled to Japan and Finland, I had a career change, we got engaged and now we are one major step closer to owning a new home (keep those fingers crossed!). Needless to say I have high expectations for my first year of the 30's too, but since I am highly superstitious, I won't jinx anything just yet...

As celebrating my birthday goes, some of you may have seen on Twitter that I turned down an offer to dine at Sydney's famous Tetsuya's restaurant. Why? Because I can think of a million better ways to use that money, and I really prefer something much lower key. It's a rainy day here in Sydney too - looks like Mother Nature decided to remind me that I am indeed an Autumn baby, not a Spring baby like the Australian calendar is trying to make me believe :-)

So I decided to make myself a tradition Nordic cake for the day. Voileipäkakku or smörgåstårta (literally sandwich cake) is often served at Christenings, birthdays and pretty much at any celebrations across the Nordic countries. The cake can be layered with a variety of savoury fillings, but I've made it vegetarian and introduced some new flavours in the way of sun-dried tomatoes and tzatziki. I've kept the traditionally heavy cake (which uses mayonnaise and cream in the filling) light by using wholemeal bread, Greek yoghurt and light ricotta. There are a few steps in preparing this cake, but I think it makes it all the more satisfying and special.

And PS. Don't worry, there will be another sweet birthday treat to follow later this weekend ;-)


Wish you all a great weekend ahead!


 Voileipäkakku*
(serves 4-6)
1 loaf of bread (I used this one)
1/4 lemon, juiced

500g pot-set Greek yoghurt, drained for at least half an hour

50 g semi-dried tomatoes
1 small red capsicum (bell pepper)
freshly ground black pepper

15cm piece cucumber
tiny piece of fresh garlic
freshly ground black pepper
tiny pinch of salt
tiny dash of white wine vinegar

200g smooth ricotta (cream cheese or other with similar consistency)
zest of one lemon
lettuce and fresh herbs for decoration

* you need to start this recipe at least one day ahead.

1. Start by draining the yoghurt and grating and draining the cucumber.

2. There will be two different fillings to this cake. For the first filling, mix half of the drained yoghurt with finely diced capsicum and chopped semi-dried tomatoes. Season the mixture with freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

3. For the second filling, mix the rest of the drained yoghurt with grated and drained cucumber and grated garlic. Season the mixture with a small dash of white wine vinegar, freshly ground black pepper and a small pinch of salt. Set aside.

4. Cut the loaf lengthwise into 4 layers. Cut the crusts out. Place the first layer on a large flat dish and brush the layer with lemon juice-water mixture (about 1/4 part lemon juice to 3/4 parts water). Alternatively you can use vegetable stock or milk for this. 

5. Spread half of the tomato-capsicum filling evenly on the first layer. Place a second layer of bread on top and brush it with lemon-water. 

6. Spread half of the tzatziki mixture on the second layer and top again with bread. Brush with lemon-water. Continue with third and forth layers leaving the final piece of bread (crusts removed) on top. Brush that too with lemon-water. 

7. Cover the cake with cling wrap. Place a tray and a small weight on top of the cake and refrigerate over-night.

8. The next day, remove the cling wrap, spread lemon flavoured ricotta evenly on top of the cake and decorate it with fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, etc. Slice up and enjoy!


Alternative fillings:

smoked salmon, trout or gravlax and fish roe
prawns
meat (ham)

Instead of ricotta you could use cream cheese, soft goat cheese, even mascarpone would probably work. Just remember to keep it savoury, that's the whole point of this cake! You could use traditional mixture of mayonnaise and cream with the filling of your choice. You could also make this using shop-bought bread (of course), but I think it's much more satisfying to make completely from scratch. 


Enjoy!

September 07, 2011

Blood orange and poppy seed spelt cakes


Buying breakfast on my way to work or going out for breakfast is not something I do very often. In fact, I only ever buy breakfast when I'm travelling. On a normal day, even on the weekends, a breakfast at home is much more comfortable and it doesn't really even cross my mind to opt for anything else.

I am always hungry in the morning and ready for a big meal after my morning exercise. I can have anything from a Japanese influenced breakfast with tofu, umeboshi and brown rice, to a salad with baby spinach, avocado, soft boiled egg and flaxseed oil. Sometimes I treat myself with something a bit more special, like these blood orange and poppy seed cakes that were just perfect served with some fruit and a big cup of tea.


 Blood orange and poppy seed spelt cakes
(makes 4 cakes)

250g whole-grain spelt flour
3 tablespoons organic rapadura sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
50g poppy seeds
250ml freshly squeezed blood orange juice
finely grated zest of one blood orange
1 large free-range egg
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease 4 small (about 250ml) cake tins. Alternatively, use muffin tins - this batter should make about 8 smaller cakes.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt and poppy seeds in a large bowl. 

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the juice, zest, egg and olive oil.

4. Add the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Scoop the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.

September 05, 2011

Seasonal Recipe Guide - Spring


Hi friends!

I thought I'd share a few links to some of my favourite spring-time recipes. Some of the produce is available almost all year around here in Australia, but there are definitely some exciting new-season greens and veggies appearing in the markets. I can't wait to cook with the spring nettles, asparagus and broad beans, see my kitchen garden grow and enjoy the warm spring weather.


Quinoa with Golden Beets and Goat Cheese
Broad Bean Burgers
Strawberry and Haloumi Salad
Dandelion Salad with Heirloom Carrots, Feta and Rye Croutons
Rhubarb Spelt Cake with Cinnamon Crunch
Stinging Nettle Soup
Beetroot Yuzu Juice


And some more recent posts

Rhubarb, Walnut and Chia Muffins
Summery Scandi Pancake Cake
Raspberry and Almond Clafoutis
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Ponzu Dressed Beets with Quinoa

I hope you are enjoying the new season, no matter what side of the globe you're living in! 

Have a lovely week!


Maria
x
 

September 03, 2011

Rye and spelt crusted apple tarts with vanilla sauce


It's been another hectic Saturday driving around some of Sydney's northern suburbs and inspecting properties. After so many disappointments I'm kind of careful getting my hopes up, but I still can't help my little heart skipping a beat when I see something I really like. I felt like we needed a bit of a pick-me-up after the busy morning, and these individual apple tarts were a perfect remedy for the cause. 

I am often put off by a greasy pastry you get at some cafes or pastry shops. I think it stems from my mum who was never a big fan of flaky, buttery crusts and always preferred a healthier option. These rye and spelt crusted apple tarts are certainly neither too sweet or oily, but savoured with some smooth vanilla sauce they are a lovely quick treat for any occasion.


Rye and spelt crusted apple tarts...
(makes 8)

100ml water
2 teaspoons raw caster sugar
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
50g rye flour
100g spelt flour

2-3 apples
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons rapadura sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or paste

1. Preheat the oven to 200C and grease a 12 cup muffin tin. 

2. Place the water, sugar, olive oil and flours into a bowl and knead into a smooth dough. Roll the dough into a log and cut into equal sized portions (about 8). 

3. Roll each portion into a flat round disk and tuck into the muffin cups. 

4. Peel the apples and cut them into cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl and drizzle with lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Toss to coat, then fill the pastry cups with the apple cubes. 

5. Bake for 10-13 minutes. 

...with vanilla sauce

1 large free-range egg
1 tablespoon raw caster sugar
400ml milk
1 1/2 tablespoons potato starch
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or paste

1. Lightly whisk the egg in a small saucepan. Add all other ingredients, then turn on the heat.

2. Whisking continuously, heat the mixture until thickened, but do not let it come to boil. 

3. Serve warm with the apple tarts.

September 01, 2011

Raisin and macadamia spelt bread


Happy first day of spring!

This raisin and macadamia bread will be a new favourite of mine. I cannot resist freshly baked bread (I think it's the Finn in me) and this bread is perfectly wholesome and tasty with all the spices and additional treats. I've used the gorgeous crimson raisins, but you could just as well use normal raisins or dried cranberries. If you don't have macadamia nuts, opt for hazel nuts or walnuts instead. Either way I think you'll enjoy this bread as much as I did!


 Raisin and macadamia spelt bread
(recipe adapted from Maku magazine)

600ml warm water
22g dry active yeast
50ml honey
about 600g whole spelt flour
50g macadamia nuts
50g crimson raisins
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons salt
100ml olive oil

1. Pour the water in a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast, honey and 200g of flour. Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes or until bubbly. 

2. Add the nuts, raisins, spices and oil into the starter. Knead in the rest of the flour (you may need to use less or more depending on the type of flour you are using). The dough should be soft and elastic. 

3. Divide the dough into two portions. I was being rather ambitious making just one (giant) loaf. There is definitely enough dough to make 2 normal sized loaves instead! Place the portions into greased loaf tins, cover the tins and leave to rise for at least an hour.

4. Preheat your oven to 200C.

5. Bake the breads in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until thoroughly baked through. Cool on a wire rack before serving.