Baking · Picnic

Sundried Tomato Stuffed Foccacia

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So I don’t do alot of bread. So when I do its a treat. And today, we did it with style. A Sundried Tomato Stuffed beauty. I’m so happy with how this turned out. Just plain and simple flavors that really pack a punch. I don’t like it when things get too complicated. Simple suits me. No jokes about my ex boyfriends please.

So. Bread. It can be a pain in the ass bot to get right. But when you do , it’s so so worth it.. working with yeast is tempramental. But I start my bread a different way to others by starting the yeast first. I’ll show you what I did, it’s not then technical way of doing it but who’s going to know …. I’m not exactly inviting Paul Hollywood round for dinner.
Though I certainly wouldn’t say no…

Anyway. Bread.

Recipe:

500g Strong Flour
1 Sachet Fast Action Yeast
1 Tsp Salt
300ml Warm water
Sprinkle of Sugar

Filling recipe :
1/3 Cup Sundried Tomatoes + oil
Rosemary
Red onion

Topping :
Cherry tomatoes
Rosemary Red onion
Salt

Get 300mls of warm tap water into a jug. It needs to be warm but not hot. No kettles. Add your yeast and a little sprinkle of Sugar to get the Yeast to foam. Leave that to sit for a few minutes while you measure out your flour. ( You can use a stand mixer if you have the dough hook attachment. )
If not, we’re working by hand. Pop your salt in and then start adding your yeast mixture which is hopefully foamy now.
Stir it all together to make a dough with a spoon. Then once it forms a ball it’s going to need some kneading. A good 8-10 minutes worth !
(Though if your using a mixer it’ll probably be only half that).

Advice on kneading – you’re taking the ball of dough and your hand and using the heel of you hand to manipulate the dough underneath in one push then coming back on yourself to ball the dough up again and giving it another push. Continuously. Till your dough starts to spring back all on its own. Means all the gluten in activated.
Once you can poke a little hole in the dough and have it raise back. Your good to go. Pop it into a well floured dish and leave it to rest and rise for an hour.

When I came back my dough had exploded, it was more than double the size and that’s a good sign.
Squish all the air out and pop it onto a well floured board or surface and get rolling. Unless you’re skipping the filling step – if you’re skipping this bit , just shape as you like and decorate.

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I rolled mine into a large rectangle about 1/3 inch thick. I toppes half with  chopped Sundried Tomatoes a little of their oil , a sprinkle of Rosemary and a few bits of red onion.

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Now this bit is important. Fold the other side , over and then under the filling side. You don’t want any seams at the side of the bread , you want them underneath. 1 ) So it doesn’t pop open when it cooks , 2) so it looks pretty and not like some weird sandwhich.
Pinch it to seal well. So it’s all hidden like this :

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Then slide onto an oiled baking tray.  Preheat the oven to 450°.

Now to decorate ! I make little wells with my fingers and filled them with half of Cherry Tomatoes and little sprigs of Rosemary. I then did a quick sprinkle of Red onion slices and splashed on more oil from thr Sundried Tomatoes. I added some finishing salt here too.

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Once the oven is hot , pop in for 15-17 minutes. It might need turning part way through to brown evenly.

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I served this still a little warm in large chunks.

Lunch · Picnic

Rainbow Noodle Salad with Sweet Chilli Peanut dressing

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You know when you have random segments of vegetables left in the fridge ? Well this was one of those days. Bit of Red Cabbage , few mini peppers etc. Not enough to be something in their own entirety, but in need of some love…well this is the answer. Everyone loves noodles !  Besides , look how pretty and colourful it is !
I have to admit this is a recipe of mine that just constantly adapts. I’ve made it all in layers in jars for a picnic once and the array of different veggies usually changes with the season too. I keep the dressing the same, and is goes well with alot of stuff. It’s a lovely dressing on sweet potatoes actually… I do love a little sweet and a little heat!
This keeps pretty well so you can make it ahead for parties and picnics too.
I keep this gluten free as well, but you can use what ever noodles you like. This recipe is just a rough guide, you can play with measurements and swap stuff out as you please.

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Hope you like it.

Salad Recipe :
1/3 Pack of Brown Rice Noodles
1 Cup Shredded Red Cabbage
1 Cup Shredded Napa Cabbage
1 Carrot – I spiralized it but grated is fine
4 Mini Peppers sliced
Handful of Sugar snap peas
Handful of Mangetout
1 Stalk Celery

Pop the Noodles onto cool, while you prep everything else. Pile all the veggies into a big bowl while you make the dressing.

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Dressing Recipe
1/3 Cup Peanut butter
1/3 Cup Sweet Chilli
1 tsp Soy Sauce / Shoyu

1 tbs Sesame seeds
1 -2 Tbs noodle cooking water (or warm water )

Give the Peanut Butter , Sweetchilli and Soy Sauce  a good whisk together and then thin it out with the noodle water or warm water until it’s a nice consistency. You want to be able to mix this up easy, not creating clumps.

Drain your noodles and run them under the cold tap until they’re cooled completly. Drain again and pop into the bowl give everything a good toss then drizzle in your dressing coating everything as you go.
When everything is all dressed , give you salad a sprinkle of your Sesame seeds.

Baking · Picnic

Lemon Meringue Tarts for my Easter Table.

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Ever since developing my Egg allergy, I thought my days of pillowy Meringues were behind me. Until I was introduced to Aquafaba. (Ok so my friend pointed out that it sounds like a Super Villain from a Comic book ) but it isn’t sorry to disappoint. It’s the goo your chickpeas come in. You know the stuff you rinse off… I know it’s not exactly appealing. But I assure you, it works its Magic! You’ve got to trust me on this one !
My Mam has always loved Lemon Meringue Pie , and I thought making them into a cute little Tart would be just lovely. Everyone loves a little tart…
This recipe is no bake and it’s gluten free so it’s a versatile little crowd pleaser. It’s has a few steps , but non are complicated .

So here we are!

Base Recipe :
1 Cup Oats
1 Cup Ground Almonds
1/3 Cup Earth Balance (melted )
1/4 Cup Sweetener. I used Agave , but Honey or Maple would work.
Oil
Baking paper

Blitz the oats in a processor till they’re fine , then add everything else. It should squish together when compacted.
Oil a little cupcake tray and add a thin strip of baking paper to each case to help you lift the tarts out later.
Then divide the mixture into the case and squish to create nice even cases. Mine weren’t perfect at all- just have to make sure they’re well compacted. Like this :

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Then pop those in the freezer to set whilst you make the Lemon Curd.

Lemon Curd Recipe :
1/2 Cup water
1/4 Cup Organic Raw Sugar
3 Tbs Corn Flour / Corn Starch
Juice of two Lemons (keep zest for Meringue)

Add water , Sugar and Cornflour to a small saucepan , and whisk constantly over a medium heat until it’s nice and thick. Then wishing is really important as the corn starch will lump up otherwise. Once the mixture is nice and thick whisk in the Lemon juice. It will set up pretty thick. If you are worried it’s too thin , pop it back over the heat again. Then remove this to a cool bowl and pop in the fridge.

Finally. The Meringue.

Meringue Recipe :
1 Portion Aquafaba(the fluid left from 1 Carton of drained chickpeas )
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla paste
Lemon Zest (keep a sprinkle back for decor )

Ok. Add the Aquafaba to a stand mixer (or large bowl if using a hand mixer ) and beat pretty vigorously until it starts to form a cloud. At this point , slowly incorporate your Sugar , I added half a  cup at a time , in a steady stream until it was all in and the mix was starting to stiffen up. I then added my Lemon zest and Vanilla and let it go until I had stiff peaks. (When you lift the whisk out , the Meringue still keeps it’s shape).

Now we are ready to assemble !

Get the base from the freezer and gentley pop them out of thier moulds with the baking paper.
Fill each case with a spoon full of the Lemon Curd.

Then add your Meringue on top. Feel free to pipe it on if that’s your preference, I just swirled it on with a spoon to keep it rustic.

Give a final sprinkle of Lemon zest and I added some fresh Lavander flowers from the garden for a pop of colour against the clouds of white.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Easter !

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Lunch · Picnic

Beetroot Hummus with crudité Veggies.

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This bright like concoction was no accident. I have it on a Tartine in one of my favourite Bakerys with Roast veggies on. It’s sooo good with literally everything. I had to get home and create myself a version. So after roasting a few too many Beetroot the other night , this seemed like a good time to try it out !

Hummus is so versatile, you can serve it with all sorts. It’s a good source of fats , and protein. It’s naturally creamy and you can flavor it any way you like. Keeps great in the fridge for a few days too.

The weather is getting HOT here. 85° in March? But luckily for me the pool is nice and cool and a nice outdoor lunch is an excellent way to break up the day. So with some cool fresh veggies and a good scoop of Hummus. Everyone seems be pretty happy. Hoping this pink deal goes down well ….wish me luck.

Recipe :
1 Large Roasted Beetroot
1 Carton Chickpeas drained and rinsed
I Lemon – juice and zest
1 Clove Garlic
2 Tsp Ground Cumin
2 Tbs Tahini

Salt
Olive oil

If you haven’t already roasted your Beetroot , give it a good hour in a hot oven (400°). Leave it to cool.

Put the Beetroot , Chick peas , Salt , Garlic, Cumin and Lemony bits  in a food processor. Blitz till they’re looking fine and crumbly then add the Tahini.
Once you’ve given that another whizz add a bit of water to loosen things a little and scrape down the sides of your processor. Then put it on a drizzle in the oil until it’s a consistency you like. If you don’t want to add too much oil feel free to replace it all with water.

Give everything a taste and add more salt if necessary.

A couple of serving suggestions :

With Fresh veggies.
On a Tartine.
In wraps.
With Chips (fries).
I love it in a jacket sweet potato.
On a salad.
With some Roasted veggies.
Stirred through some Grains.
It’s excellent for a meal on the go !

Hope you enjoy.

Baking · Picnic

PB&J Flap Jacks- Valentines style !

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Confession. Peanut Butter and jelly was my first American love affair.  I was 6 and in Disney and I had always loved peanut butter. I took the plunge and ordered the sandwich. At the time being perturbed as Jelly is Jello in the UK. I remember it arriving, it had the crusts removed which was the first thing my 6yr old self fell for. But after that first bite, there was no going back to plain old Peanut Butter on toast. I’m sorry…

Anyway fast forward 20 year and  recently one of my girls has given up gluten and is missing her PB&J. And so a new challenge was put forward. Hope she likes them !

Happy Valentines , or in the case “Galentines” (still not too sure how I feel about this word…).

Recipe :

2 Bananas
1/4 cup Oil ( I used Avacado)
Heaped 1/2 Cup of your favorite PB.
1/2 Cup liquid sweetener (I used agave )
Salt
1/2 Cup Peanuts -chopped
2 1/2 Cup Oats
1 Cup of your favourite Jam/Jelly.
Spray oil

Preheat the oven to 375°.

I made these in little heart moulds to make them cute but I usually make Flap Jacks as one whole square. Oil your mould or line your baking pan 🙂

Pop the Bananas in a food processor , add your oil, sweetner and PB. ***tip here: spray your measuring cup with the spray oil so your sweetner and Peanut Butter doesn’t stick ***

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Give everything a whizz so it’s nice and smooth and combined. Pop your Oats into a large mixing bowl and pour your Banana mix on top add the your peanuts with a few left over to decorate. I add a fair amount of salt at this point too . Give everything a good mix.

Spoon your mix to fill your mould just under half way. Then do a big scoop of Jam/Jelly. Then top with the remaining mix, just like a sandwhich!

Once all your moulds are full add a few little dots of Jam ontop and a sprinkle of your remaining Peanuts.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Leave to cool in the mould before plating and enjoy !

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Dinner · Picnic

Empanada Night ! Sweet Potato and Pea Jerk Empanandas.

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Guess who got a new toy?? Shopping around when I find this unbelievably cute little set of three baby pie moulds. Well naturally it was love at first sight. (I mean who wouldn’t fall in love with me …) So off I went to the till already brimming with sweet and savory filling ideas. But one idea I had in mind that had managed to fail with filo dough , leapt in my head and voila a mission was set.

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And taddaaaa! Baby empanandas! I was beyond excited at how cute and easy this was. My empanadas sway from tradition as I used a pie pastry and baked them. Me and a pot of boiling oil would just be a disaster waiting to happen ..

I had some vegan ready made pie crust from a store online too. So it made the whole thing very easy! The filling can be made in advance also this could be a good make ahead recipe .

Recipe :
Pie crust (I used a vegan organic one from online )
1 Large sweet potato
1tbs Oil of choice ( I used olive )
1  Cup of Peas (I used frozen defrosted )
1 tbs Jerk seasoning
1 tbs Tamarind puree
1 tbs fresh Thyme
Salt

(If you want to buy your own Jerk marinade I won’t judge)

Preheat the oven too 400° whist you chop the sweet potato into 1cm ish cubes. Throw them into a bowl with the oil and a good sprinkling of salt. When the ovens ready roast these for 25 minutes ish. While they’re cooking defrost the peas.

When the potatoes are ready leave them to cool. Once cooled to touch throw in with the peas, Jerk seasoning , tamarind puree and fresh Thyme. Give another sprinkle of salt and taste for seasoning. Leave them to once side for the flavors to mingle while we start the fun stuff.

Roll the dough to about 5 mm. And start cutting in circles at the size you want. Remeber these are being folded around a filling so not too small. Mine were 4″ and I could use the back of the cutter. But you can make these without my little toy too so don’t worry. Once I had all my circles cut I turned my press over and got filling. The filling should be pretty cool now , you don’t want it warm or the pastry won’t crisp up.

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I put about 1 heaped tbs of filling per pastry and squished them together.

If you haven’t got one of these little presses , put you’re filling on one side of the circle and fold. Then crimp the edge with a fork .

Once they were all done I put them on a non stick baking sheet and popped them in the fridge till I was ready to cook then later that evening.

When I was ready I preheated the oven to 400° and threw them in for about 15-18 minutes till they were golden brown all over.

These went down pretty well. I can see my new toy being a regular in kitchen from now on !

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Lunch · Picnic

Cucumber noodle Salad !

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After alot of rich foods over the Holidays my body is asking for some TLC. So today, sat in cold wet London I was dreaming of sunshine and Farmers markets back home in Florida.
Thinking of refreshing raw veggies and fresh juices. When one of my favorite salads came to mind. The combination of the cool noodles with the sweet and spicy dressing (love anything hot and sweet)..probably less said the better. Can’t wait to get home and make a huge bowl!

Cucumber Noodle Salad with quick Sweet chilli sauce !

Recipe :

Salad
1 Large Cucumber
1/ 2 Red Pepper
2 Spring onions
Handful of Peas (I use frozen – defrosted )
Fresh Basil
Pumpkin seeds (optional )

I pop the Cucumber on the spiralizer , but of you don’t have one you can use a Julienne slicer (or a veggie peeler to make larger ribbons ).
I love my  Spiralizer. They’re pretty inexpensive too and versatile (raw pad Thai any one ??) Toss these noodles in the quick sweet chilli sauce, then the rest is pretty simple , chopped the Pepper and Spring Onion and sprinkle on the other toppings as desired.

Now if you want to buy your own Sweet Chilli , that’s fine , there are some great options avaliable , even fresh ones these days ! But as I have my own Chili plant , I tend to make my own !

Recipe :

1 Chilli
1 Clove of Garlic
Oil of choice
1/4 cup Honey or Maple syrup
Salt
Lime juice ( depending on how juicey  they are you may need one or two)

Dice the chilli and garlic , I remove the seeds from the chilli but if you like it firey be my guest … Pop these into a pan with a little oil just to cook them a little – I’m not a fan of raw garlic ! It doesn’t take long , as you don’t want to burn the garlic which happens quickly ! Once they’re no longer raw , stick them in a jar or bowl , and add the rest of the ingredients! Give everything a good mix and taste , adjust seasoning according to your own preference !

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