Nutty Spiced Apple Granola

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Apple nut granola recipe

I swear I’m like some kind of fruit magpie at this time of year. I walk around the place, my little dog in tow, and my eye is darting madly back and forth like a crazed sugar addict, scanning the surroundings for a sign of wild fruity goodness. There are the blackberries of course, which are EVERYWHERE right now and our walks are about twice as long because I have to stop and pick them all (Clemmie is very patient). But far more exciting – possibly because it yields about 10 times more fruit for equal amounts of labour – are the apples.

Apple pie granola recipe

Having lived in a house without a fruiting apple tree for the last 5 years I have become quite adept at seeking my hits elsewhere and there are several prolific, gnarly beasts on the coastline to which I gravitate each year. Where are they? I’m telling no one. They’re mine.

The problem is that we are currently in the process of moving house and our new abode has a very merry plant upon which many a ripe apple can be found. I harvest these, I have about 4 buckets full, and still my gaze returns to the trees by the sea. I mean, if I don’t divest them of their produce, who will?? Will it go to waste?? Surely ’tis better that we have more than we know what to do with that those golden gems fall and rot, never to be tasted, their short lives spent?

OK, so I’ve become a little poetically melodramatic, but I have a passion for this subject.

And now I have far too much fruit.

Too many apples recipe

Thankfully I am not alone in this department and Google revealed many others who have had their fill of stewed apple and are now looking for different ways to get their highs. I had a few ideas and the search results validated these. A little help from Jennifer’s Kitchen for the apple-drying-process and Nigella, D. Lebovitz + Sally’s Baking Addiction for the quantities in the granola, and I had a hit recipe on my hands. A lightly spiced, fruity, nutty mix which is reminiscent of apple pie.

Cinnamon apple granola

It’s pretty healthy for granola, super yummy and boy does it make all that apple prep worth it.

Note 1 – If you want to make your own dried apples try the recipe from Jennifer’s Kitchen above. I oven dried mine which took AGES as I cut them thickly but it worked well. I also didn’t dunk them in enough lemon juice so if you want whiter slices than mine, do that! Finally it’s worth noting that I used cooking apples which are GORGEOUS dried – tangy but not too sharp. Perfect in the sweet granola.

Dried apple recipeDried apple cereal

Note 2 – Apple purée’s a cinch to make. Ideally use cooking apples for texture, but eaters usually work OK too although they may need blending with a machine to mush them down once cooked. Peel and core the apples, removing any bad bits. Place in a pan with a little water and granulated sugar and stew on a medium heat. Stir occasionally to stop them burning and turn off the heat when you have a mush with some yummy lumps remaining. Stir in more sugar if needed. Doesn’t  take long at all.

Fruit and nut granola

Ingredients

Handful or two of dried apples (if doing your own in the oven you need to do this well in advance as you’ll need the oven for your granola. See Note 1 above.)

Dry ingredients

125g quick (porridge) oats

150g jumbo oats

75g dry uncooked quinoa

50g raw whole almonds, roughly sliced

50g raw whole hazelnuts, roughly chopped

75g raw pumpkin seeds

75g raw sunflower seeds

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp nutmeg

Wet ingredients

75g coconut oil/vegetable oil (I used a mixture but either will do)

175g syrup (I used golden but you can use maple if you prefer)

50g dark brown sugar

225g lightly sweetened apple compôte (mine had some lumps but wasn’t really chunky. See Note 2 above.)

Seed oat nut quinoa recipe

In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients thoroughly.

Place all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl EXCEPT for the apple compôte and microwave for 1-2 minutes until the coconut oil has melted. Alternatively heat in a pan, stirring regularly so it doesn’t burn.

Spiced apple granola

Stir in the apple compôte and then add the wet ingredients to the dry ones (don’t add the dried apple yet though) and make sure the mixture is thoroughly blended.

Fruit and nut granola

Spread it out onto one or two baking sheets. I lined mine with non-stick baking sheets.

Bake in a preheated oven  at 160 C degrees fan (180 C degrees conventional oven) for about 45 minutes. It is likely to brown unevenly so make sure you gently stir it up every 10-15 minutes to stop the edges burning. Try not to break up too many of the chunks when doing this.

Granola recipe

It should be darker when finished but not too brown, and bear in mind that it will also be soft straight from the oven but it will crisp up on cooling, so don’t be tempted to cook it further. Set the tray(s) aside on cooling racks and leave uncovered to cool.

When cold, chop the dried apple into small pieces and stir into the granola. If you made your own dried apple then make sure you only add totally dry pieces to your cereal as slices retaining moisture may make your granola soft. You may want to keep the dried apple separate and add it to each serving just before you eat it. If you do find the granola looses crispness then re-toast it for 5-10 minutes in a hot oven.

Recipe using dried appleCoconut oil, apple, nuts

Store in an airtight container and enjoy it with yoghurt, milk, or even more apple purée (if you can take it).

Oh, and I had a reason other than apples to make this: I just bought a cereal container which I absolutely HAD to use straightaway. My life is full of excitement.

Home made granola recipe

PS – Why not pin a few of these pictures, or visit my Pinterest account to get more images from the blog?

Smoked Trout, Fennel & New Potato Salad

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Smoked trout recipe

Well, here we are: stage three of the selection platter I’ve been gradually building in the last few posts. We started with Beetroot & fennel purée, continued with Spinach mousse prawn cocktail and now we’re stopping off at the salad bar for a little smoked trout/baby leaf mélange that would do equally well on its own as a refined yet simple starter or a light summer main. You may question the combination of so many flavours in the 3 elements (fennel, smoked fish, beetroot, spinach, prawns …) but you’ll find that they all complement one another beautifully, sharing ingredients and flavours in a most amicable way: the salad has baby beetroot and spinach leaves to match the beetroot purée and spinach mousse, the prawns in the cocktail enhance the fish in the salad, the fennel in the purée match the dill in the cocktail. You get me? Complementary is the key word here.

So, wanna see the plate so far?

The beetroot & fennel purée is swiped. Oooh, cheffy:

Elegant fish dish for dinner party

The prawn cocktail & spinach mousse “shot” is nestled in the hole:

Fish dinner party meal

And when we’ve finished today’s post we’ll be heaping the trout & fennel salad casually on top:

Smoked fish salad with fennel & potato

 So let’s get on with it shall we?

Ingredients

For the vinaigrette

Juice of 1 large lemon

1 tsp runny honey

2-3 tbsps olive oil

(optional: 2 tsps crème fraîche)

pepper

For the salad

2 skinless fillets of smoked trout (about 150g total)

1/2 medium fennel (about 50g)

A handful or two of baby salad leaves, including beetroot and spinach leaves

Zest of 1/2 large lemon

4 waxy baby potatoes (about 175g)

Easy vinaigrette recipe

Begin with the vinaigrette. In a bowl or jug whisk together the lemon juice and honey until blended. Add the olive oil, crème fraîche (if using) and a grind or two of black pepper. Whisk thoroughly to combine and set aside. A good tip is to mix the ingredients in a jam jar. Just put the lid on, shake up and it’s totally blended, then screw the lid on to store.

Lemon fennel new potato salad recipe

To make the salad break the trout fillets up into rough chunks, removing any bones.

Finely slice the fennel, avoiding including any of the thick internal part. It’s nice to keep the fronds to incorporate or decorate with.

Put the salad leaves in a bowl with the trout, fennel and lemon zest.

Baby leaf smoked trout salad

Finally, bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Wash and slice the potatoes to the thickness of a £1 coin. Drop them into the water and boil for about 5 minutes or until just softened.

Drain the potatoes, rinse quickly in cold water to cool slightly but not completely then drop them into the salad mix along with a few spoonfuls of the dressing. Stir up to combine then lift loosely onto the plate, creating a claw with your hands to make a bit of a tower of the salad.

Decorate with the fennel fronds if you would like.

Smoked trout recipe

Spinach mousse prawn cocktail

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Modern prawn cocktail

Ahh, the prawn cocktail, that classic dish which – rather than being utterly timeless – does in fact sit solidly in the 1970s.

And the poor thing is not allowed to forget it.

Why is it that this innocuous little dish carries such stigma? That it invariably conjures a blush of shame from the creator and a roll of the eye from the recipient? That since the light-bulb moment in which we all realised what a foolish concoction it clearly was every chef has endeavored either to steer well clear or to transform it? The Gok Wans of the food world decided that this frumpy forty-something clearly needed a style guru to make her acceptable for this hip new era:  let’s ditch the dowdy glass and flatter her with foams, deconstruct and reconstruct and throw a few micro-things in between.

I love a prawn cocktail but, in a vanity-lead effort to create a dish with a touch of flair and individualism, I have to admit to doing a bit of styling of my own. I won’t say I’ve improved on the original and I wouldn’t wish you to believe that I will never make the Classic Prawn Cocktail again, I have simply constructed something that is vaguely reminiscent of it.

‘Twas a bit of fun is all.

PS – It goes with the Beetroot and Fennel Purée in my last post and several other things still to come.

Ingredients

For the prawn mix

100g crème fraîche

50g mayonnaise

(Optional: a 1-2 tsps ketchup)

Zest of 1 lemon

Handful of fresh dill, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

200g cooked, peeled prawns, any size

1/3rd cucumber

For the mousse

2 sheets of gelatin (or enough for approx. 300ml liquid)

50g butter or margarine

2 onions, finely chopped

500g spinach, washed

200g cream cheese or Greek Yoghurt

75ml double cream

Salt and pepper

To garnish

Paprika

Prawn cocktail with cucumber

Begin with the prawn mix.

In a bowl beat together the crème fraîche, mayonnaise, ketchup (if using, for a more authentic marie rose flavour), lemon zest, dill and plenty of black pepper.

Roughly chop the prawns so that they are chunky (if very small this isn’t necessary). Cut the cucumber into quarters lengthways and cut out the seeds. These can be set aside for smoothies or soups. Dice the remaining cucumber into fairly small dice. Add the prawns and cucumber to the crème fraîche mix and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

Lemon dill prawns recipe

Next make the spinach mousse.

Place the sheets of gelatin in enough cold water to cover. Set aside.

Spinach mousse recipe

In a large pan melt the butter then add the onions. Cook on a medium-high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the spinach and continue to stir until this has wilted down completely. Take off the heat and put into a food processor or blender along with the cream cheese and double cream. Blend thoroughly. At this stage mine was not very smooth so I passed it through a sieve before adding salt and pepper to taste, but you may have a smoothie blender or something better than mine, so as long as the mix is not lumpy you should be OK without sieving.

NOTE: If you do sieve at this stage, return the finished purée to the heat so that it is hot enough to dissolve the gelatin in the next step.

Spinach mousse with gelatin recipeSavoury mousse with gelatin

Check the gelatin has gone limp, squeeze out any water and then add it to the hot spinach mix. Beat thoroughly so that the gelatin has as chance to melt and become evenly distributed.

To assemble the cocktails put a layer of the prawn mix at the bottom of shot glasses (or any other glasses of your choice) making sure you have some left to garnish at the end. Top with a good layer of the spinach mousse then put in the fridge for the mousse to set – about 1-2 hours.

Prawn cocktail with a twist

Once set, finish the glasses off with another small dollop of the prawn mix and a pinch of two of paprika.

Spinach and prawn cocktail recipe

Note: If you want to do multi-layered shots, do a thin layer each of the prawn mix and the mousse, leave to chill for 1/2-1 hour. Gently reheat the spinach mousse to melt the gelatin again and then repeat the layering, making sure not to put anything onto the spinach mousse until it has fully set.

(Wo)man cannot survive on writing alone | beetroot & fennel purée

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Vegetable purée

You know you’ve been away too long when WordPress doesn’t remember your password and asks if you want to create a blog. No thank you WP I’ve already got one.

It has been a sorry few months for the ol’ blog and all things related: camera has lain redundant, recipes have remained un-noted and perhaps a drop in interest on my part has resulted in less interesting culinary creations. The only thing that has been well serviced are my hands at the keyboard as I have been writing like a maniac … but not for the blog: my mind has been a-whirring with stories and poems galore while food making and writing have taken a very far back seat. As in “Uh, heLLO? Is anyone THERE?”

But man (or woman) cannot survive on writing alone and whilst over the last weeks the edible matter has become a mere accomplice to my whimsical escritorial creations, serving only to fuel my mind and certainly not my blog, I have known all along that it would sometime return to centre stage. After all, I have a food blog don’t I?

So, let’s restart with something simple. Beetroot, fennel & onion purée It forms part of a special meal I made a few weeks back, so by posting it I’m only gonna have to post the rest of the meal as well. But I’ll take it easy on you (and me) by doing the thing in stages – far less daunting!

Beetroot purée

Ingredients

1 large onion (100g)

25g butter

1/2 medium fennel (about 100g)

 2 large cooked, skinned beetroot (not in vinegar) (250g)

Small bunch of dill

Salt and pepper

Beetroot fennel purée

Peel and dice the onion. In a small pan melt the butter then add the onion. Place the lid on the pan and sweat on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes.

Fennel purée

Meanwhile remove the roots from the fennel, peel off the layers and rinse them before chopping into rough dice (as a fennel ingénue some years back I didn’t know what parts you could eat. Good news: you can eat it all! My kind of veg.) Add this to the onion pan, give it all a stir then sweat again for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is soft. Leave to cool.

Fennel purée

Roughly chop the beetroot and the dill, reserving a few sprigs for garnish.

Place all of the ingredients except the reserved dill a blender or liquidizer and whizz until all is puréed to a smooth mixture (or use a hand blender although the effect may not be quite so smooth). Season to taste and serve.

Try this as a dip for breadsticks or as a base for a hefty beef and horseradish sandwich. It’s also great with fish.

 Beetroot and fennel recipe

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