Figs with Everything!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

I was going to call this Figs for Friday, an equally cringe making title but I guess I missed the opportunity there now that’s its Saturday.  Instead last night after I spent some quality time with the M25 on my way home from work I made a version of this chicken and coconut korma, then watched a few episodes of 30 Rock until I nodded off in the chair and my husband declared I should go to bed.  Sadly a fairly average Friday evening around here at the moment.  I don’t know if it’s the change in weather but I have been feeling monumentally tired this week.  I think blaming the weather is generally considered a reasonable conclusion for most things.  Anyway, figs have been featuring a lot in our diet lately.  I love fig season, my husband’s not so keen...which just means more for me.

A couple of things I’ve enjoyed.  This salad is a riff on the super seed kale one I posted a few weeks ago.  This time I cooked up some lentils with the rice, used toasted pistachios instead of the seeds, chopped up fresh figs instead of the dried cherries and used a few drops of balsamic vinegar in the dressing in place of the cider vinegar.  Figs, pistachios and goat cheese work so well together.  Sticking with that theme I also used figs on top of my favourite gluten free pizza crust with goat cheese, toasted pistachios, basil and some lambs lettuce.  The sweet figs made a delicious pizza topping and cooked up perfectly under the grill.

I hope you find some delicious ways to enjoy figs before they disappear.  Here are a couple more ideas from the archives!  Have a good weekend x

Trail Mix for Those Hangry Moments

Saturday, 14 September 2013

I definitely suffer from the occasional bout of hangry.  The rough translation being for those occasions when you are so hungry you just want to scream and shout at everyone until you’ve pushed food in to your mouth.  So, I made trail mix to snack on in the hopes that such moments can be avoided.  I don’t like myself in those moments, I don’t like anyone in those moments.  Trail Mix to the rescue.

I’m always on the lookout for relatively healthy snacks I can munch on at work where my need for munching seems to be magnified by about a million.  I came across this useful information page from BBC Good Food about the nutritional benefits of different nuts.  I decided some sort of trail mix containing a good variety of my favourite nuts and seeds was just what I needed plus the extra protein boost would be another benefit.  I also added some coconut, oats and cherries to pad it out a bit.  You might be thinking isn’t this granola and yes, this would also make amazing granola, I can’t argue with that.  I just dialled down the amount of oats so that the nuts took centre stage.  Chuck it in a container and take it to work, eat it with natural yoghurt, use it as a dessert topping on ice cream.  Go nuts!  Sorry.

Makes about 1.5 pints.
The ingredient amounts here are approximate, use more or less to your liking.  There’s no set rules to follow.
25g (1oz) each for your choice of seeds, nuts and coconut flakes
75g (3oz) gluten free rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
Handful of dried fruit of our choice
1 tablespoon of coconut oil (or extra virgin olive oil would work)
1 tablespoon of maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F

Mix the coconut oil and maple syrup together and set aside.  In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients apart from the dried fruit and the sugar.  Pour in the oil and syrup mixture and combine until everything is coated.  Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle over the sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes checking at regular intervals to ensure nothing is burning and to turn the mixture over so that all sides are browned.  Coconut flakes can cook particularly fast so you might want to add these a bit later.  Once the trail mix is golden brown remove from the oven and add the dried fruit to the hot tray.  Allow the mixture to cool and the fruit to plump up a little from the heat given off by the baking tray.  Once completely cool store in an air tight container for up to two weeks.

Sunrises, Birthdays and Cake

Saturday, 7 September 2013

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with birthdays galore.  First my husbands, then mine and numerous friends too.  When I told my husband that I wanted us to get up at 5:45 am on my birthday, get in our car and drive the ten minutes up to the North Downs, then take a walk which would lead us to the top of the downs where we could view the sunrise at 6:19 am... I wasn’t even sure I was really up for it.  After all, my birthday fell midweek.  I had taken the day off work, surely a lie in was called for.  As I was sleepily pulling on my jeans I still wasn’t convinced this was the smartest plan I’d ever had but my husband was awake, dressed and ready to go.  I couldn’t back out now.  Turns out, it will remain one of the happiest birthday memories yet.  Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best.  The sun rises every morning but how much notice do we actually take?  I know I’m normally shoveling down my breakfast before work at that time with little thought of what is going on outside my window.  As the sun rose slowly in the east, (thank you Iphone compass) and moved across the downs we watched the ground under our feet slowly turn to gold.  It was just beautiful.

My husband’s birthday falls a few days before mine and I always do my best to make him a cake.  I’m not massively in to over sweet cakes full of cream and icing so he always gets a slightly healthier cake.  Don’t feel too sorry for him.  A lovely lady he works with always makes him a Victoria sponge so he doesn’t do too badly.  This time I adapted Phil Vickery’s Plum and Almond Cake.  Instead of the plums I used peaches and blackberries, which I think makes it a sort of summer meets autumn cake.  The sponge is made using a mixture of polenta and brown rice flour giving it a light and springy texture with moisture from the bursts of fruit and crunch from the almonds scattered on top.  Not a bad birthday cake in my opinion.

Recipe adapted from Seriously Good! Gluten-Free Baking by Phil Vickery
3 medium eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
125g sugar (I used demerara)
100g brown rice flour
80g polenta
20g corn flour
1 tablespoon gluten free baking powder
125g unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons semi skimmed milk (I used rice milk)
350-400g fruit (I used a mixture of chopped up peaches and blackberries)
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar for sprinkling
125g flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F
Line a 20cm loose based cake tin with baking parchment.  I only had a 23cm tin so my cake is a little more shallow.
In a bowl combine the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar.  Mix thoroughly until light.  Use an electric whisk if you have one.  I wish I did!
Sieve the flours, polenta and baking powder in to a bowl and mix thoroughly.  Fold the flours in to the egg mixture stirring lightly so you don’t lose all the air in the batter.  Stir in the melted butter and milk.  Do not over beat.
Put a layer of the batter in the base of the cake tin.  Scatter some peaches and blackberries over, then spoon in the rest of the cake batter.  Scatter the remaining peaches and blackberries across the top.  Sprinkle the almonds and the demerara sugar over the top.
Bake the cake for about 45 minutes until the fruit has begun to caramelise and a skewer inserted in to the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven.  Allow to cool in the tin slightly then gently remove the cake from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

His age, not mine ;)