Sweet Potato & Cashew Nut Tart Tatin

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This is one of my favourite use of polenta. It is an unusual take on on a well known Tart Tatin, using polenta as a base and Indian spices as a perfect partner. It works well, providing a mild base and more powerful, rich curried topping.

SWEET POTATO & CASHEW NUT TART TATIN

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

600 g sweet potatoes (cut in cubes)

1 red onion (cut in cubes)

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon black onion seeds (optional)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar

1 tablespoon malt vinegar

70 g cashew nuts

200 g polenta

salt,pepper to taste

Plus: 22sm springform tin

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Lightly brush the inside of a springform tin with oil. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil , add the sweet potato and cook for 8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, add the spices and continue cooking for a few minutes. Add sugar and vinegar, stir over a medium heat for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the drained sweet potato and cashew nuts, string to coat everything evenly. Then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing down lightly.

3. Bring 800 ml of water to the boil in a large saucepan and add polenta, string constantly with the whisk. Cook for a few minutes, stirring until thickens, then remove from the heat and season well with salt and pepper. Spread it evenly over the vegetables in the tin with the palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the polenta is firm and beginning to shrink from the side of the tin. Leave to stand for 2 minutes then run the point of the knife around the edge and turn out onto a plate.

4. Serve the tart hot as a main course, with a fresh tomato salad or any of your favourite greens, or as a side dish with the meat main.

Parcel-Pie


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I’ve been making this pie (originally adopted from Nigela’s Domestic Goddess book)  a lot recently and I’ve tried all sort of fillings, using rice, cous cous, lentil along with different vegy selection, but this version still remains my favourite.

 

COURGETTE, SPINACH AND CHICK PEA FILO PIE

Ingredients:

1 pack of ready made filo pastry

100 g melted butter

1 yellow onion

3 courgettes (diced, unpeeled)

300 g spinach

1 can of chick peas, drained

200 g feta cheese (cut in cubes)

2 medium cooked potatoes (cubed)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoon olive oil

salt, pepper

Plus: 22cm springform tin

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. In a large frying pan gently fry the cumin seeds and onion in the olive oil until the onion is soft. Add the rest of the spices, courgette and cook on a fairly high heat to prevent the courgettes becoming watery. When they are soft but still holding their shape, add the spinach and quickly cook until it just starts to wilt. Tip it over in a big bowl, let it to cool slightly.

3. Add cut potatoes, can of drained chick peas and cubed feta cheese, mix everything to combine and check seasoning.

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4. Brush the inside of the springform tin with some melted butter. Line the bottom and sides of the tin with 3/4 of the filo pastry, buttering each sheet as you layer. Leave a little filo overlapping the sides, and keep 3-4 layers for the top. Carefully put in your filling and then fold in the overlaps. Cover with the final coat of butter and put in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the filo is golden.

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P.S: As you can see there are some carrots on a last picture and there are no carrots in my recipe. I have to confess, I just had a two carrots left from the roast night before, so I just added the into the pie too (I hate to waste:))

Sorrel Soup

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It is one of my favourite spring soups from my childhood. Deliciously tart, light but rich in vitamins soup, which is equally good hot or cold! The main ingredient of this soup of course, sorrel.

The sorrel leaves contain a set of vitamins and minerals – potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, sodium, fluorine, zinc.

The sorrel soup is usually prepared very quickly: the whole process takes no more than 20 minutes. What takes the longest is to make a stock (or you can use a ready made, if you wish). My personal preferences to make it stock. 

The main thing to remember is that sorrel cooks very quickly: to add it to the soup should be a few minutes before end of cooking.

SORREL SOUP

Ingredients:

4-5 (500g) potatoes 

2 carrots grated

1 medium yellow onion finely chopped

500 g sorrel

2 tablespoon olive oil

4-5 hard boiled eggs (cooked and roughly chopped)

3.5 litres water or stock

salt
spring onions 

Method:

1. If you are not using ready made stock, start with the cooking it first. I think the best stock for this soup is made from chicken or pork. This time I made the second one, simply by using a few pork chops on a bone, cook it until it boils in about 3 litres of water, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes until pork is cooked and tender, and stock is rich and flavoursome. Fish the meat out and leave aside.

 

2. Potatoes cleaned, washed and cut into cubes. Add the potatoes in a saucepan with the prepared stock. Boil potatoes until tender.

3. Meanwhile, sauté the onion in olive oil till it tender, add the grated carrot, continue cooking until vegetable slightly golden, add to the soup.

3. Sort out and wash the sorrel, cut roughly. Add it to the soup, bring it to the boil and turn off the heat. Season to your taste.

4. Serve soup garnished with the chopped eggs, spring onion and generous dollop of sour cream.

 

 

 

 

 

Evening walk and Pecan Pie

Oh how I love Spring. Nice colour skies, fresh green grass, birds singing, people more happier, less clothes, long warm days, everything is coming back to life. Even a simple walk in the evening is so liberating, touching and overwhelming with colours and smells. So forgive me for more flowers (again), but isn’t it just wonderful?- wherever you go at the moment it’s like being in one enormous flower shop! 

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As a reward after a long walk, we enjoyed the last pieces of the Pecan Pie which Mark made for my Birthday. He asked the day before what kind of cake I’d like for my Birthday and I didn’t think a minute – Pecan Pie was on my mind for a while lately, I think it’s full of character as well as absolutely delicious, crunchy and not too sweet.

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PECAN PIE

Ingredients:

375 g ready-made sweet dessert pastry

flour for dusting

150 ml maple syrup (or he used golden syrup instead)

60 g butter

175 g soft brown sugar

3 eggs

few drops of vanilla extract

pinch of salt

200 g pecan nuts

 

Method:

1. Rolle the pastry out on a lightly floured surface, then use it to line the flan tin. Trim around the top edge of the tin, and prick the base all over with a fork. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans,  and bake for another 10 minutes, or until pale golden. Remove the pastry case from the oven and reduce the temperature to 180C/350F.

3. Pour the maple (golden) syrup into a saucepan and add the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, salt. Place the pan over a low heat and stir constantly, until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the mixture to cool until it feels just tepid, then beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in the pecan nuts, then pour the mixture into the pastry case.

4. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until just set. Cover with a sheet of foil if it is browning too quickly.

5. Remove the pie from the oven, transfer it to a wire rack and leave to cool for 15-20 minutes.  You can serve it warm or leave it to cool completely. Good with creme fraiche or whipped cream.

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It’s all a bit overwhelming

This Easter break seemed to me like a one long party. It did include a lot of eating, drinking, entertaining people, long walks, two Birthdays (including mine). I feel like I would do with a few more days just to relax. As a lot of food was eaten, there are a lot of recipes to be published, but for now I’ll leave you just with the photos of some highlights of the Easter week-end.

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Easter treats


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Easter break is a good excuse to indulge yourself on some of your favourite (or new) treats. In our family dining over Easter is always pretty much a freestyle. This time I chose not to cook a sit-down meal but have a buffet type lunch instead. I made Smoked Salmon Terrine, Pickled Herring and Egg salad, continued with Courgette and Chick Pea Filo Pie and a variation of my Speedy Salad, with other small bits and pieces. I promise to post the recipes of those later on, but for now I’m going to share our baked goods with you.

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My Boyfriend’s Mum came to us today with these delicious savoury muffins and she was glad to share this recipe with me.

Here is goes:

LEEK, CHEESE & BACON MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1 leek, trimmed

100 g melted butter

4 rashes bacon, chopped

300 g self-raising flour

1 level teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon chilli or cayenne pepper

2 eggs

175 ml milk

150 g extra mature Cheddar, grated

salt

 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, lightly grease 12 holes of a muffin tray.

2. Trim & cut the leek finely. Cook it in 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, for about 5 min, or until softened. Set aside.

3. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until the fat starts to crisp. Add to the leeks.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, mustard powder, pepper and salt into a large mixing bowl.

5. Lightly beat the eggs, milk and the rest of the melted butter together. Stir into the leeks and bacon. Add the grated cheese, then the flour mixture, all in one go.Stir until evenly mixed together but don’t over mix, otherwise muffins will be tough.

6. Divide the mixture between the muffin tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden.

 

And here is the recipe for a fabulously easy cake which is very moist, has a velvety texture, full of flavour and you can easily adopt it for any occasion.

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ANY OCCASION CHOCOLATE CAKE

One of the main ingredient of this cake is soured cream, it makes cake moist and gives a nice flavour to the icing

Ingredients

For the cake:

200 g plain flour

200 g caster sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

200 g butter

40g cocoa

150 ml soured cream

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract

Plus: 2x20cm sandwich tins, buttered and lined

 

Fo the icing:

160 g good quality chocolate

75 g butter

125 ml soured cream

1 tablespoon golden syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract

50 g icing sugar (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a large bowl. Then, using electric mixer, add the butter. In a separate bowl whisk together cocoa, soured cream, eggs, vanilla or orange extract and slowly add this cocoa mixture to the flour and butter mix, beating until throughly mixed.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 30 minutes, until it bakes through. Leave for 10 minutes in their tins, then turn out to cool.

4. To make the icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave (no more then 30 seconds in one go, stir and if it’s not melted, put again for another 30 seconds), or in a bowl over hot water. Let cool a little, then stir in the soured cream, vanilla extract and syrup. If you use dark chocolate and prefer cake to be quite sweet then at this point you can add the icing sugar (personally I use dark chocolate and don’t put any sugar in the icing at all and I found that cake is sweet enough for as is, specially I definitely won’t put additional sugar if I plan to serve cake with ice cream).

5. Spread the icing onto both layers and use the rest of the icing to cover the top and sides.

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Have a great Easter! x

 

 

Salad in a flash and lightning fast cookies

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Last night I had one of our quarterly bring-and-share dinners with my girlfriends. I looked forward to it very much, firstly because I haven’t seen them for a while, and secondly because at these gatherings, we always end up having the most delicious and healthiest vegetarian mix. Normally we decide beforehand who brings what (starter, main or desert). This time it was my turn to bring a salad dish. Although it was planned in advance, things went out of order a bit. I was late from work and had nothing prepared. I didn’t really have time to mess around and had to act fast! I decided to do a super quick salad. It’s not only super fast, it’s good for you and you can customise it to your own taste by replacing some of the vegetables to the ones you prefer most (red or orange bell pepper, cauliflower, kale, spinach, radishes). My version goes like this:

SALAD IN A FLASH

Serves at least 4 people

 

Ingredients:

2 carrots

2 apples (I used Gala)

2 zucchinis

1 medium head of broccoli

few spears of spring onion

small knob of ginger

50 g pumpkin seeds

100 g parsley

2-3 tbsp olive oil

2-3 tbsp soy sauce

Juice of 1 lemon

Method:

Simply put all ingredients but pumpkin seeds into the food processor or any household chopper and pulse few times until finely chopped, I did about 5-6 pulses, not to mushy, not to rough. Taste, adjust the seasoning if needed, sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top.

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Quick, isn’t it!

To keep the theme going, here is another speedy recipe for you..

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LIGHTNING FAST COOKIES

(Takes up to 20 minutes from start to finish and makes 12 cookies)

Ingredients:

125 g butter

75 g caster sugar

50 g muscovado sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

150 g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

a pinch of salt

Plus 100 g of whatever takes your fancy (chopped nuts, chocolate chips, sultanas, lemon or orange zest, crystallised ginger, pine nuts or combination of any ingredients above. I like cranberries and white chocolate, hazelnuts and  dark chocolate)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 190C/375F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan or in a microwave for 30 seconds.

3. Put the sugars into a bowl, pour on the butter and beat.

4. Break in the egg and add vanilla.

5. Beat to combine, stir in the flour, baking powder and salt, then stir in your chosen extras.

6. Dot heaped dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheets, leaving plenty space in between (the cookies early spread out).

7. Bake 8-10 minutes, until just turning golden brown. Leave on the baking sheets to harden slightly, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

 

Salad Love

I am thinking to have a weekly post on salads, because I have a special place for salads in my heart. However, I am not going to write about the ‘usual’ salads, the salads that the majority of you are familiar with. I’d like to introduce you to the salads I grew up with, salads which came from the Baltics. And let me be honest with you, some of these salads won’t be shy of calories, but don’t let that put you off too quickly, have a go,- little bit of what you fancy in small quantities is good for you and didn’t harm anyone yet. Never the less, I will introduce you to the healthy varieties too (it’s not only about meat, potatoes and mayo!).

Today, I’m going to open the ‘marathon’ with the simple but one of my favourite variety of Potato salads, to be precise..

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HERRING SALAD

Ingredients:

3 medium potatoes

150 g (approx 3 fillets) herring – marinated in oil

100 g cucumbers

100 g cooked beetroot

25 g fine chopped shallots or spring onion

100 g soured cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

salt, black pepper to taste

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Method:

1. Boil the potatoes unpeeled until it is fork tender and cooked through (about 30 mins). Cool it completely, peeled the skin off and cut into small cubes.

2. Cut the cucumbers and herring fillets into similar sized pieces and combine with the potatoes, add shallots (or spring onion).

3. Add soured cream and mustard, salt and pepper and mix into the salad base, combine everything together but gently, do not over mix.

4. Cut the beetroot into the same sized pieces. At this stage you can combine them into the salad mix but I prefer to create a separate lever (see a picture below), otherwise everything will look like a one big pink mess.

You can serve it as a starter or a light lunch with slice of rye bread.

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