Strawberry, nectarine and walnuts bake

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A confession: I have been looking for gluten free recipes as of late. Apparently, i am gluten intolerant  according to my doctor. Considering I am also lactose intolerant, this is making my breakfast more and more difficult. Even muesli *may* be an issue –  especially if you live in the country who invented the thing and swears by it. But, one manages to find alternatives and eventually find happiness in dishes like this. For sure there is life beyond gluten…

Strawberry, nectarine and walnuts bake  (adapted from a recipe found in the Minimalist Baker blog)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups strawberries and nectarines, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup (app 85g) oats
  • 1/2 cup (app 45g) almond meal
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup (app 50g) of light brown sugar
  • pinch sea salt
  • 60g of cold butter
  • Plain yoghurt to serve

Method

Preheat oven to 180oC  (350cF).

Butter and flower a baking dish.

Chop the fruit in big chunks. Reserve.

Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them until the butter is well incorporate (probably best done by hand).

Put the fruit in the previously buttered dish, making sure it well spread. On top of it, add a layer of  the flour and butter mix

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is crisp and golden.

Let it cool. Serve with a dollop of yughurt


Buckwheat cheddar soda bread

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Maybe not the real soda bread, but still a very good version it. Actually, perfect to eat with a bowl of soup or with some salad.

Buckwheat cheddar soda bread (adapted from Dan Lepard’s column in the Guardian).

Ingredients 

  • Makes one large loaf
  • 300g buckwheat flour
  • 50g potato flour (potato starch; i used potato mash flakes)
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 3 tsp mustard powder or curry powder
  • 125g strong cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 50g low-fat yoghurt
  • 200ml cold milk

To finish
Extra cheese
Poppy seeds
Buckwheat flour

Method

Put the buckwheat and potato flours into a bowl and then rub in the butter. Add the baking powder, mustard powder and cheddar and toss through well.

Beat the eggs, yoghurt and milk together , then pour the mix on the dry ingredients and stir well to a soft dough. Line a baking tray with nonstick paper and spoon the mixture on as one big lump in the middle. Dust the top with buckwheat flour then pat it into a rectangle about 3cm high.

Cover the top with more grated cheese and poppy seeds, cut with a knife into 8-12 pieces, then bake at 220C/200C fan/425F/gas mark 7 for about 20 minutes until the cheese on top begins to brown. Remove from the tray and paper and leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.


Polenta cake with mascarpone and rosemary

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The name reads  really well – the sort of high maintenance dish that requires hours of dedicated work in the kitchen. The truth is that it is a lot easier to bake than it sounds… After all, it is a slightly modified pound cake, with 2 very easy elements on the side.  The cake itself has a pleasantly crumbly and grainy texture, ideal to combine with the rosemary infused honey. The creamy mascarpone sauce just makes everything come together. Try it with a double expresso for even better results…

Polenta cake with mascarpone and rosemary (adapted from a Eddie Russel recipe found in Food and Wine Magazine)

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 3/4  cup (=220g)  flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup (=65g)  polenta
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 sticks (=220g) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (110g) of  sugar
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 

Rosemary syrup

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 rosemary sprigs

Mascarpone sauce 

  • 1 cup (=225g) mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (200mL)  heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped

Method

Preheat the oven to 325°F (= 190°C). Butter and flour a metal loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the polenta and salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon juice.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, beating the batter at low speed until just incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

Turn the cake onto a rack and let it cool until warm.

In a small saucepan, combine the honey with the water and rosemary sprigs and simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs. While the cake is still warm, lightly brush the top of the cake with the rosemary syrup.

In a medium bowl, whisk the mascarpone with the cream, sugar and vanilla-bean seeds.

Using a serrated knife, cut the  cake into thick slices and transfer to plates. Top each slice with a large dollop of mascarpone, drizzle with the rosemary syrup and serve.


Almond cake

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A couple of years latter, with a different camera and the right almond meal… St James cake, take 2.  Also, it  doubles up as my birthday cake. A far cry from the formidable cakes years of the past few years, but still  a sophisticated, luscious and  almondy affair to put on the table with a glass of prosseco.

Almond cake (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)

Ingredients

  • Baking spray or butter and flour as required
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g of sugar
  • 150g of almond meal (make sure you are using the off white mixture, made with pealed almonds)
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • Icing sugar as required

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Coat a baking tray with baking spray (or butter and flour). It has to be a large one,  like  a 40 cm round one)

2. In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and the sugar until you have a pale yellow foamy mixture

3. Add the the ground almond and the cinnamon to the egg mixture. Fold it slowly in the same direction with a wooden spoon, until you obtain a fluffy and airy mixture.

4. Pour the mixture in the tray (it  should be must be about 1.5cm deep)

5. Put in the oven for about 20min, or until golden brown. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides of tray when you take it out of the tray.

6. Sprinkle icing sugar on top of it before serving.

 

 


Lavander shortbread

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A bit overcooked (mea culpa)… Otherwise, a spot on take on shortbread, probably the best British biscuit of all time. Very buttery and crumbly, ideal to eat with coffee or tea or in a moment of high sugary need. They can also be used to impress the beasts lovely co-workers on the occasion of yet-another-project-update-meeting. And, maybe, the mother in law, in the case that there was indeed one…

 

Lavender shortbread (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course)

Ingredients 

  • 340g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing
  • 140g caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped lavender

Method

Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt and set aside. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with an electrical mixer until smooth and creamy.

Turn the mixer to its lowest setting and, with the motor running, add the lavender and then the flour a little at a time.

Stop mixing as soon as the dough comes together. Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 20min.

Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 180oC.

To make the shortbread fingers, gently pack the dough into a lightly buttered into a shallow baking tray ( roughly 30cm*20cm). Score the surface to mark out the fingers and prick all over with a fork. If you want to make circular biscuits, roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to 5-7cm thick, then stamp out the rounds using a 6cm cutter. Transfer to 2 lightly buttered baking sheets, leaving each space between each biscuit, then them with a fork.

Bake for 15-20min until pale golden, checking ofter as the ovens vary and the shortbread can easily burn.  Cool in the tin or on the sheet until firm, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 


Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bake

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A dish specially dedicated to B., who passionately loves quinoa. (not). Much for his despair, quinoa invaded the summer salad world and then slowly start to creep up into brunch domains and now makes an appearance in pudding-land. Actually, this is a sort of upside down deconstructed crumble (minus butter) also ideal for a brunch menu… It is very tasty, filling and it can even be considered  * gasp * super healthy.

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bake (adapted from a recipe found in fitsugar.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 apples, peeled, diced
  • 1/4 cup (app 50g)raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups (500mL) milk with the seeds of 1 vanilla pod
  • 1/4 (50mL) cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 (app 75g) cup almonds, chopped

Methods 

Preheat the oven to 200oC. Lightly grease a baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix the uncooked quinoa with the spices. Pour into the greased dish. Sprinkle the apple and raisins on top of the quinoa.

In that same small bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk and maple syrup. Pour the egg-and-milk mixture over the top of the fruit and quinoa. Lightly stir to partially submerge the fruit. Sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.

Bake for 1 hour or until the casserole is mostly set with only a small amount of liquid left.

Allow to cool, and then cover and refrigerate.

 


Torta pasqualina

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 Veni, vidi, vici: saw it on the Guardian on saturday, bought the ingredients on sunday and served it for Easter brunch on Monday. It was a spot on dish,  very much in the spirit of the season. In case you wonder, it is an Yotam Ottolengi’s take on an Italian dish with lots of modifications to adapt it to what was left on the supermarket. I was getting a bit apprehensive as I kept replacing ingredients by similar thing, but, it all worked very well together… It was a process to do it, but it is a lovely dish, worthwhile the calories and the effort.

Torta pasqualina (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian.)

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 500g  Swiss chard, stalks removed and roughly chopped, leaves cut into 1cm slices
  • 600g spinach leaves
  • 6 sticks celery, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 20g Bärlauch (wild garlic)
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 250g ricotta
  • 100g grated Emmentaler and Gruyère cheese mix
  • 9 eggs
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 500g all-butter puff pastry
  • Plain flour, for dustin

Method

Heat the oven to 180C.

Put a large sauté pan for which you have a lid on a medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onion is soft and starting to colour. Add the chard stalks and celery, cover and cook for five minutes. Stir in the chard leaves and spinach. Cook for five minutes more, until the leaves have wilted and the stalks and celery have softened. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little.

Line a colander with a clean tea towel or muslin and pour in the contents of the pan. Draw the sides of the towel around the filling and squeeze out the juice: you want the mixture to be as dry as possible. Transfer the contents of the towel to a bowl and add the herbs, spices, cheeses, three eggs, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix well and set aside.

In case you don’t have a prepared pastry, roll half of it  out pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a 30cm square that’s 2.5mm thick. Transfer to a 20cm-wide spring-form cake tin with 7cm high sides. Press the pastry into the edges of the tin and trim off most of the overhang. Roll the remaining pastry into a 25cm square lid and set aside.

Tip the cheese and greens mixture into the cake tin and use a spoon to create five egg-sized holes. Break an egg into each hole, then lay the lid on top. Trim the edges, then pinch the lid and base together to make sure it’s secure.

Whisk the remaining egg, brush it over the lid, then prick a few times with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes, until cooked and golden brown. Leave to cool for half an hour, and serve warm or at room temperature.