Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slice

Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slice | Selma's TableThese gorgeous Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slices are so easy to make and very child friendly too by which I mean that it is something that you could make with young children if you were so inclined. Other than needing a knife to cube the butter into tiny pieces, there is no need for any implements other than a set of scales and a spoon.

Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slice | Selma's Table

Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slice | Selma's Table

First, prepare your baking tin. There is a good description in the Baking section, over on my Tips and Tricks page – click on the link. Once you have papered it, either spray or brush on some melted butter.

Then, it’s simply a matter of one bowl into which you mix the dry ingredients with your hands, breaking up any brown sugar lumps with your finger tips and then rubbing in the butter and patting most of the mixture into a prepared baking tin.

Spoon over the jam and sprinkle over the remaining oat and flour mixture and some shredded coconut and press it lightly into the jam. That is it. Then it goes into the oven and emerges looking like hipster cafe offering. You could drizzle a little melted white chocolate over it if you wanted to get all fancy pants but it looks and tastes rather lovely as it is.

Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slice | Selma's TableI resisted the urge to scatter over almond flakes even though almonds and cherries are a match made in heaven – it’s just that I tend to put them on everything! Instead I opted for shredded coconut which adds a lovely flavour.

Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slice | Selma's TableWith such a short ingredient list, it is important to use good quality butter, and a really tasty jam. I admit to having a complete weakness for the Maribel jams from Lidl – the Sour Cherry Conserve is my absolute favourite.

This recipe is endlessly adaptable – all sorts of combinations come to mind – blueberry jam with some lemon zest in it; fig jam with some crushed walnuts in the topping; apricot preserves with vanilla and definitely flaked almonds in the topping; strawberry or raspberry jam with white chocolate drizzled over the top when it has cooled…so many possibilities.

Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slice | Selma's TableIf you have some homemade jam that needs using up – this is the recipe for you. Surprisingly, it’s not too sweet and is rather wonderful with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. The recipe adapts easily to being doubled if you want to bake a big batch and the slices are sturdy so these are perfect as a hostess gift or for a bake sale.

Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slice | Selma's TableI am taking a large tray of these Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slices over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #68 which this week is being co-hosted by Justine @ Eclectic odds n sods and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.. I’ve not been for a few weeks and look forward to checking out the new venue (fiestafriday.net) and meeting the new bloggers who have joined in the virtual weekly party! Now where is the bar and who’s brought the cocktails?

Sour Cherry, Coconut and Oat Slice

  • Servings: Cuts into 16 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars on Allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 125g plain/AP flour
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 100g rolled porridge oats
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • good pinch of salt
  • 115g cold, unsalted butter
  • 250g sour cherry jam
  • 2 Tbsp shredded coconut

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line an 9″ square tin with baking parchment or aluminium foil, leaving a little overhang so that you can use them as handles later. Grease the bottom and the sides of the paper.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, oats, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl, mixing well.
  3. Cut the butter into the smallest cubes you can and thoroughly rub into the flour mixture.
  4. Set the prepared baking tin onto the scales ands set to zero. Measure out 300g of the mixture into the baking tin and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Make sure to get into the corners. Smooth the top by running a flat bottomed glass over it.
  5. Spread the sour cherry jam over the surface to within 1 cm of the edges. The jam spreads as it bakes so this prevents it from seeping from the edges and burning.
  6. Sprinkle over the remaining flour mixture and evenly top with the shredded coconut. Press lightly into the jam.
  7. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden. Leave in the tin on a rack, to cool completely. Then using the paper overhang, lift the bake out of the tin and onto a chopping board. Using a long knife or a pizza cutter, slice into squares.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableThis year’s UK Master Chef series on the television has been fantastic. The final five were all incredibly creative and really put through their paces as the competition ruthlessly progressed. (Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here if you haven’t watched the final episode to crown the winner.)  Of the final five, I was really inspired by Emma whose love of middle eastern spices and modern use of ingredients mirrors the zeitgeist made mainstream by Ottolenghi.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableYou may recall that Adagio Tea sent me a sample pack of their gorgeous teas to try. I wrote about their artisan teas in last month’s IMK post. They have a huge range and their green teas alone are worth a look at. Their Masala Chai is quite incredible – it has the deep flavour that I remember from my childhood and is chock full of whole spices like cloves, cinnamon bark, cardamom seeds and ginger as well as black Ceylon tea.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableSpurred on by Emma’s creations on Master Chef, a LOT of dangerously dark bananas and Adagio’s Masala Chai, I adapted my go-to recipe for Banana Bread from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. It’s a recipe I have been making for years and it never lets me down. It’s particularly devilish and delicious when made with chocolate chips instead of fruit, but that is another story!

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableBecause I had so many bananas I used them all and in retrospect, it was too much and caused the loaves to become heavy and sink in the middle when cooling. In the recipe below, I have written the amounts as they should be and not as I did this time.

I quite often use frozen bananas but let them thaw and drain off the liquid before mashing and mash the bananas coarsely as this enables the loaves to remain lovely and moist. I prefer to use light brown sugar for a deeper more caramel flavour too.  Steeping the fruit in very a very strong solution of masala chai gives them a haunting flavour when you bite into a plumped up morsel. I have enhanced that with a little cardamom stirred through the batter too.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableThe icing. Oh my God, the icing! It’s just sublime. I wanted to compliment the heady banana and masala chai flavours of the loaf and put this icing together. The flavour reminds me of coconut burfi or penda (which my father adored) – Indian sweets as Jake refers to them…

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's Table

I really like using coconut powder as you can get the depth of flavour you want and also the thickness by adjusting the liquid to powder ratio. A further rummage in the pantry led me to the gorgeously fragrant rose petals I bought recently on a foray into Shepherd’s Bush with Elaine and a bag of pistachio nuts.

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing | Selma's TableI ended up with a Magic Carpet Banana Bread! I think Emma would approve!

Masala Chai Banana Bread with Coconut Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing

  • Servings: Makes 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from “Banana Bread” How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

My loaf tins are standard 900g/2 lb loaf tins. Measurements may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, but  they should be approximately 23cm x 13cm x 7cm  or 9″ x 5 ½” x 3″.

INGREDIENTS

  • 150 g mixed dried fruit (like berries, cherries, figs and sultanas)
  • 75 ml of very strong brewed Adagio Masala Tea Blend
  • 175 g Plain/AP flour
  • 2 ½  tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder or 2 drops of cardamom essence
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 150 g light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Coconut, Cream Cheese and Cardamom Icing

  • 3 Tbsp coconut powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp warm milk
  • 1 x 180 g pack of cream cheese
  • 1 x 250 g tub of mascarpone cheese
  • 5 – 6 Tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 drops cardamom essence or the powdered seeds of 2 cardamom pods
  • chopped pistachios (optional)
  • edible dried rose petals (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Steep the dried fruit with the hot masala chai for an hour (or microwave on high for 2 minutes and steep for as long as you can)
  2. Pre-heat oven to 170C/325F and either pop a paper case into each of two loaf tins or line with two strips of parchment paper. Put the butter in a heat proof bowl and place in the oven to melt. Check after 3-4 minutes.
  3. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. Mash the bananas, coarsely, and set aside.
  5. With an electric mixer, beat together the cooled melted butter and the sugar until creamy and caramel in colour.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time and make sure to beat well after each one.
  7. Add the bananas and the vanilla extract and mix well and finally, stir in the drained fruit.
  8. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer which should come out moist but not with batter clinging to it. Let cool completely before icing.
  9. While the loaves are baking, make the icing: stir the coconut powder into warm milk until smooth.
  10. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the mascarpone with a rubber spatula then add the coconut mixture and stir in. Sift in the icing sugar, mixing well and taste after you had added 4 Tbsp – it may be sweet enough. Stir in the cardamom essence or the powder and set aside in the fridge. When the loaves are cold, spread with the icing and top with the chopped pistachios and rose petals if using them.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Crustless Cardamom & Blood Orange Milk Tart

Crustless Cardamom and Blood Orange Milk Tart |Selma's TableBrowsing through Woolworths’ South African website, I came across this intriguing recipe for Milk Tart, which is apparently, the ultimate braai recipe. It’s very unusual in that it is a really liquid batter but it does work and is absolutely delicious.

Crustless Cardamom and Blood Orange Milk Tart |Selma's TableAs a bonus, the house smelt amazing too – cardamom and cinnamon baking together is just such a wonderful smell! I think that this would be a lovely alternative to a chocolate dessert for easter lunch – it can be made a couple of days ahead and refrigerated so is absolutely perfect for entertaining.

Crustless Cardamom and Blood Orange Milk Tart |Selma's TableI must admit that my heart stopped when I realised how much liquid I was dealing with and I gingerly put it in the oven not expecting it to work at all but it did. “Folding” the egg whites into so much liquid was not easy.

Crustless Cardamom and Blood Orange Milk Tart |Selma's TableI think it would work better if the egg whites were folded in to only half the liquid and the rest stirred through. I used the last of the blood oranges to make this but you could of course, use conventional oranges.

Crustless Cardamom and Blood Orange Milk Tart |Selma's TableNot wanting any waste, I made a lovely syrupy orange sauce to go with it using sweet dessert/pudding wine, sugar and orange segments. If you don’t want to use a sweet wine, then just add a little orange juice instead.

Crustless Cardamom and Blood Orange Milk Tart |Selma's TableI am thrilled to be co-hosting Fiesta Friday #61 with the incredibly talented  Margy @La Petite Casserole for Angie of The Novice Gardener. In case you missed it, Fiesta Friday has a new home now – http://www.fiestafriday.net.

If you are new to blogging, please do join the party, we would love to see you. Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too. Be sure to comment, like and follow – Angie has such a friendly crowd at this party that you will come away with lots of new followers (as long as you interact) as well as a lot of inspiration!

Submit a post (please be sure to include the link and a mention, in your post, to Angie’s   Fiesta Friday #61 post – it’s only polite and also ensures that you can be considered for a feature next week!)  or just take a look at others are up to! If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please do take a minute to read the guidelines.

Click on the purple button below to be taken to the party – you can take a look at what everyone has brought or join in with a post of your own. Enough nattering – let’s fiesta!

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Crustless Cardamom and Blood Orange Milk Tart

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Adapted from Woolworths South Africa

Ingredients

  • 700ml / 3 cups milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 orange, zested (1 large or 2 small) and segmented
  • 4 large free-range eggs, separated
  • 200 g soft brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp soft butter
  • 140 g plain/AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • cinnamon sugar, for dusting
  • Sugar
  • Sweet pudding wine

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a deep, 25 cm baking tin with baking paper. If it is a springform pan, you may want to also cover the outside with some foil to protect against seepages.
  2. Measure out the milk in a jug then stir in the vanilla paste, cardamom and orange zest and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, sift or hand whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt to mix it all together and set aside
  4. Beat egg whites until stiff and set aside.
  5. Beat the egg yolks, sugar and butter until pale and creamy.
  6.  Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture with a enough of the flavoured milk to make a loose batter.
  7. Gently fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
  8. Then slowly stir in the rest of the milk.
  9. Set your prepared pan onto a rimmed baking sheet – it’s easier to move and safe guards against oven disaster.  Pour the very liquid batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with a good dusting of cinnamon sugar, then bake for 1 hour, or until almost set – it should have a lovely golden crust. A quick poke with a wooden skewer will tell you if it is done.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then refrigerate until set.
  11. Segment the oranges and place in a pan. Squeeze over any juice from the membranes and sprinkle with a little sugar. Add a splash of booze. Heat until syrupy. Cool and serve with the slices of the tart and a small glass of the remainder of the pudding wine!
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's Table

When you see the timeline on this recipe, you are going to laugh and say who has 3 days to make a loaf of bread?! The truth is that you barely spend any time on it yourself – the wild yeast is doing all the work for you. As I mentioned in my post on Fruited Sourdough, it’s all about deciding when you want to bake and working backwards from there. I start the process on a Friday afternoon to bake on Sunday morning. The long, slow cold proofing allows the flavours to mature and take on even more of that distinctive sour, sourdough taste.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableI bake my bread in an lidded enamel roasting dish. Baking it like this, creates steam so that the crust doesn’t become so hard that the loaf cannot expand and rise in the heat. This bit is referred to as oven spring. Slashing the dough helps with  creating a good oven spring too.  If you don’t have a lidded pot then, bake on a sheet/pizza stone but pop a small tin of ice cubes or water into the oven to create that steam. The lid is removed halfway through baking and I am always childishly surprised and in wonder at how much the loaf has grown and split open in that time.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's Table

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableI don’t know about you but I really struggle with counter space – I just seem to have so much out on it but that’s just the way I am. If I put things in a cupboard, they tend to shuffle off to the back and lie forgotten. So, when it comes to stretching and shaping dough, rather than clear away appliances and bottles of oil, I use a large stainless steel tray – it’s portable and so easy to clean. As an added bonus, the dusting flour/semolina etc is contained and doesn’t get everywhere! Stainless steel is really easy to work on too. Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableSo, if you have sourdough starter of your own or had some from Celia or me, give this method for Wholemeal Sourdough, a go!
Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableAlways start with a bubbly bowl of starter. Following Celia’s advice, I take out ¼ cup of Twinkle (my starter) from the fridge at 1pm, feed her ¼ cup each of bread flour and filtered water, followed by ½ cup of each at about 4pm. By 8pm, Twinkle is bubbly and ready to go!

Set a large mixing bowl on the scales and add the ingredients, re-setting to zero between ingredients. Wholemeal is a dry thirsty flour, so you may need more water. Start with 300g first and add more if you need it. Squelch them all together and leave to autolyse for half an hour. Then stretch and fold a half dozen times, cover and leave to prove on the worktop, overnight. The following morning, stretch and fold the dough again and this time place in the fridge to prove for 24 hours. On Day 3, shape the dough, let it have a final short proof on the worktop and bake.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf

  • Servings: Makes a 500 g loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 150 g of bubbly starter
  • 300 – 320 g of room temp or cool filtered water
  • 250 g of organic wholemeal bread flour
  • 250 g of organic strong white bread flour
  • 9 g of fine salt
  • olive oil
  • fine semolina or rye flour
  • poppy seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

Day 1 Evening

  1. Use a large mixing bowl and set it on the scales, re-setting to zero between additions.
  2. Tip in 150 g of bubbly starter.
  3. Then add 300g of the filtered water. (Start with the lesser amount first – you can always add a little more if the dough is too dry.)
  4. Measure in the bread flours.
  5. Add 9 g of fine sea salt.
  6. Squelch it all together with a clean hand until it is well mixed. This shouldn’t even take a minute. Add a little more water if the dough is too dry. Wholemeal is a thirsty flour! Scrape all the floury bits off your hand and back into the bowl. (I’ve been using latex disposable gloves – very little sticks to them.) Cover the bowl and set the timer for ½ an hour for the dough to autolyse.
  7. When the half hour is up, stretch and fold the dough, inside the bowl, 5 or 6 times. Clean the bowl  then smear some olive oil in it and place the dough inside, seam side down. Cover and leave out on the worktop, overnight.

Day 2 Morning

  1. In the morning, the dough will be bubbly and have doubled in volume at least.
  2. Dust the work surface (I use a large stainless steel tray) with fine semolina or rye flour (white tends to stick) and gently scrape the dough out, onto it. Repeat the stretch and fold a half dozen times. Place seam side down in a large oiled bowl, cover and place in the fridge.

Day 3 Morning

  1. The next morning, the dough will have risen and is ready to bake. You could even leave it in the fridge for another day for the flavours to develop.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 240/250C – as high as it will go.
  3. Dust the work surface and gently scrape the dough out, onto it. There is no need to punch down – you want to keep as many of those bubbles in the dough as you can.
  4. Pull the outside thirds into the middle, then turn it over so that it is seam side down and shape it as you wish. Try and pull the outside of the dough as tightly as possible to get a good gluten coat which will hold it’s shape well.
  5. Oil some cling film and cover the dough on the worktop for about 45 minutes to an hour, for the final prove. The dough should warm up a little and also expand. If your kitchen is really warm, it may only take half an hour – so keep an eye on it, setting the timer as this is the only proofing that should NOT be over done.
  6. Then, after it has finished the final proofing, remove the cling film, and sprinkle generously with poppy seeds.
  7. Slash the top of the dough and place it in a lidded **enamel roaster/dutch oven. Cover with the lid and place in the oven. Turn the heat down to 220C (fan assisted) and bake for 20 minutes.
  8. After 20 mins, remove the lid and carry on baking for another 20 mins. Check to see if the bread is done by tapping it on the underside – it should sound hollow. If you like a crispy crust, then place directly on the oven rack and bake for another 5 minutes. Otherwise, remove from the pot and cool on a wire rack.

**If you don’t have a lidded pot, you can, of course, bake the bread on a baking sheet/pizza stone. In that case, place a few ice cubes/water in a small tin and put this in the oven to create the steam that baking in a lidded pot does.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits

Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits | Selma's TableI was so thrilled when Elaine of foodbod asked me to write a post for her new series, “What would you feed me?” Elaine is the embodiment of healthy eating – she is vegetarian, sugar free, caffeine free and also avoids wheat but doesn’t miss out on any flavour with her punchy Middle East inspired spicing. I discovered her blog when someone re-blogged one of her earliest posts which was for a pavlova – the antithesis of how Elaine eats!  So I set my mind to thinking how I could produce a treat that was true to Elaine’s food ideals. Obviously, it had to have tahini in it – Elaine’s favourite food group!!  Ground almonds to substitute for flour and honey for sugar…I kept thinking about those lovely Chinese Almond Cookies that are made for Chinese New Year. I am rather partial to orange zest and cardamom in baked goods, so in they went too.. Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits | Selma's TableThe Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits have Elaine’s name written all over them. Wheat free, refined sugar free but chock full of almonds and tahini of course! They are also dairy free and egg free, making them suitable for vegans.  While these do have honey in them they are not very sweet so they won’t kick your sweet cravings into high gear. The orange and cardamom flavours work beautifully with the nutty flavours of the tahini and almonds. The biscuits bake up crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside – just begging to be dunked in a cuppa!  Judging by the response on Instagram, I think that they are a success! Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits | Selma's Table If you want to know how to make these ridiculously easy Almond, Orange and Tahini Biscuits please go over to my guest post on Elaine’s blog, foodbod. The post is called, ‘What would you feed me…Selma’ – if you click on the link below, it will take you straight to it. While you are there, take a minute to browse through Elaine’s recipes – you will come away inspired!

https://foodbod.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/what-would-you-feed-me-selma/

 © Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableI’ve always been mad about Christmas even though as a child, it was not something we celebrated. My cousins, who are half German always did Christmas in a big way. My aunt used to bake up a storm, fiercely guarding her recipes – I most remember the almond star cookies with the cinnamon  meringue tops that she always made without fail. (Luckily, Ginger recently posted a traditional recipe for these so I can make them now!) And they always had a big, gaily decorated tree in their sitting room, which I couldn’t tear my eyes away from.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableI begged and whined every year for a tree and one year, we finally got one BUT – it was unceremoniously parked outside the doors to the verandah at the rear of our house and we had no decorations – I improvised with colourful metallic sweetie wrappers which I twisted to look like bows and oh, how I loved that tree.  I sound so deprived but I wasn’t really. We were living in Nairobi, engaging mainly with our huge and extended Muslim family and it just wasn’t the done thing to celebrate Christmas – we had Eid, of course.

Needless to say, my first Christmas on my own included the largest tree we could get into the flat, strung with so many lights that we probably caused a dent in the national grid every time they were turned on. It was so laden with ornaments that the branches were bowing under their weight.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableSince then, I have refined my tree decorating and have strings and strings of soft white lights – no coloured lights and certainly no flashing in time to music – which are wired to the branches so that they sit perfectly without any visible wires. There is no tinsel, no garland just lots of pretty, sparkly red, silver and gold ornaments and baubles, which have been amassed (amassed, being the key word) over the years.

Jake used to have a little tree in his room, which I do understand may be thought of as a little excessive but I had lost time to make up for! This little tree had very colourful ornaments and baubles – a practice, I am so happy to hear, that has been taken up by a friend, for her twin boys. Anyway, the bottom line is that I am just crazy about Christmas as a tradition – the twinkly lights everywhere, the smell of pine needles, the lovely things in the shops, the carols, the festive food, meeting up with friends for a Christmas drink, the parties and the general feeling of good cheer – I just love it!

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableAnd of course, I love the baking. This is one of the best recipes I have ever used for mince pie pastry. It’s short, rich and buttery with a wonderful flavour from the flecks of orange zest. It is not too sweet which balances with the sweet mincemeat. And it is ever so forgiving. The trimmings come together like playdoh and can be re-rolled a number of times. The dough doesn’t have to be kneaded – just patted into a disc, chilled and then rolled out. It keeps for days in the fridge too.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's TableI always use shop bought mincemeat which I ramp up with port soaked dried cranberries and golden sultanas and orange zest. I usually grate an apple into the mixture before I fill the pies but this year I didn’t. Honestly, jazzing up shop bought mincemeat like this makes it taste absolutely wonderful and I never think to make my own from scratch.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

Pastry before being gathered and chilled

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

Most years, I make at least two batches of mince pies with this pastry, usually with a glass of port and Michael Bublé for company! For me, this is when I start to feel really festive.

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

I am taking these to share with the wonderful bloggers at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #47. Today we are being co-hosted by two charming ladies – Indu @Indu’s International Kitchen and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook Do take a moment to see what Angie, Indu and Jhuls have been up to!

Orange Mince Pie Pastry | Selma's Table

Orange Mince Pie Pastry

  • Servings: enough for 24 mince pies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Sainsbury’s Christmas Book by Joycelyn Dimbleby

INGREDIENTS

For the mincemeat

  • 200g of dried cranberries. dried cherries and golden sultanas
  • enough port to cover the dried fruit
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 500 g mincemeat

For the pastry

  • 500g plain/AP flour
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 375 g cold butter, cubed
  • finely grated rind and juice of one orange

To assemble

  • 1 x 8cm/3in round cutter
  • 1 x 5cm/2in round cutter
  • 3 Tbsp flour in a bowl
  •  2 Tbsp water in a small glass or bowl
  • 1 Tbsp milk in a small glass or bowl
  • icing sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Pastry

  1. Place the flour, sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Add the chilled butter cubes and process until the mixture looks like coarse damp sand. Scrape out into a bowl and  break up any large lumps of butter or compacted mix.
  3. Using a table knife, stir in the orange juice until the pastry just starts to come together. You will think that this amount of liquid can’t possibly be enough, but it is.
  4. Gently, pat into a disk, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins or overnight.

Mincemeat

  1. Soak the dried fruit and zest in the port overnight (do not refrigerate).
  2. Stir in the mincemeat and set aside until needed.

To assemble

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Butter/spray the tart tins.
  3. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Divide into two, one piece slightly larger than the other. Wrap the smaller one in the cling film and pop it back in the fridge.
  4. Cut the larger half of the disc in half again. I find it easier to roll out a smaller piece of dough. Lightly flour the worktop and the rolling pin. Roll out the pastry, which will be solid to begin with but soon softens up as the butter warms up, a little thicker than usual and stamp out 12 x  8cm/3in rounds. Dip the cutter into the flour from time to time. Re-roll the trimmings to achieve the 12 rounds. Line the tart tin and pop into the fridge to chill. Repeat with the other half of the pastry and refrigerate while you get the tops ready.
  5. Remove the second half of the pastry dough from the fridge. Cut in half and roll out. Stamp out 12 x 5cm/2in rounds, again re-rolling the trimmings to achieve 12 rounds for the tops. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  6. Optional – gather all the trimmings, re-roll and stamp out stars, christmas trees, hearts etc.
  7. Remove the tart tins from the fridge and fill with the mincemeat – do not overfill.
  8. Dipping a finger into the water, moisten one side of the rounds and place on top of the filled pies.  Press lightly to seal and make a small slit on top.
  9. Moisten one side of the star/heart/Christmas tree and place on top of each pie.
  10. Brush with a little milk and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. The pastry is beautifully crumbly so it is best to let the mince pies cool for 10 minutes before easing them out of the tins (you may need to use a table knife to do this) and letting them cool on a wire rack.
  12. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares | Selma's Table

Did you know that 90% of the tea drunk in the UK is a blend of teas, and that tasting and blending tea, like blending whisky or champagne, is a fine art, and takes years of training?

When I read that, I sat up and took notice! Tea is something that I take for granted – I like a cup in the afternoon and I like drinking green tea after dinner. So when I received some Tetley Tea to sample along with a fact sheet, I began to look at tea in a new light. There are over 200 ways to describe tea! It takes 5 years of training to become a Tetley Tea Blender, fluent in the art of tea blending and the vocabulary that comes with it. There are 60 different tea blends sold by Tetley and each blend is taste tested 8 times before it can be judged good enough to called Tetley!  Phew – now that is something to consider as we get through the 165,000,000 cups of tea that are drunk daily in the UK!

These are the top 20 terms used by Tetley’s tea tasters, bearing in mind that there are many more…

  1. Aroma: an important consideration in cupping teas is the smell that is given off. A favourable aroma is most often associated with a flavourful taste.
  2. Black tea: the most commonly consumed tea in the world. One of three major types of tea, the others being Green and Oolong.
  3. Biscuity: a desirable trait usually referring to a well fired Assam.
  4. Bite: a very brisk and “alive” tea liquor.
  5. Blend: a mixture of teas from several different origins blended together to achieve a certain flavour profile.
  6. Body: describes a tea liquor possessing fullness and strength.
  7. Colour: indicates useful depth of color and strength.
  8.  Dust: a term which is used to describe the smallest particles of tea leaf.
  9.  Flat: not fresh. Tea tends to lose its characteristics and taste with age, unlike some wines which mature with age.
  10.  Hard: a desirable quality suggesting pungency, particularly applied to Assam teas.
  11.  Jasmine: a green tea to which Jasmine flowers are added.
  12.  Leaf: a tea where the leaf tends to be on the large or longish size.
  13.  Malty: desirable character in some Assam teas. A full, bright tea with a malty taste.
  14.  Nose: a term used to connote a good aroma of tea.
  15.  Powdery: ‘fine, light dust’ as the tea people say, meaning a very fine, light leaf particle.
  16.  Pungent: describes a tea liquor having marked briskness and an astringent effect on the palate without bitterness.
  17. Sparkle: clarity and purity of colour from grey to pure colour.
  18.  Toasty: a tea which has been slightly overfired during processing. It may be a desirable characteristic in some Darjeeling teas.
  19.  Woody: a characteristic reminiscent of freshly-cut timber. This trait is usually associated with teas processed very late in the season.
  20.  Zing: overall quality impression of the tea on the palette; the balance of character and taste in the tea.

Well, after all the hard work that has gone into producing your blend, you want to be sure to treat that tea with a little respect! Here are Tetley’s Master Blenders’ top tips for the perfect cup…

The tea should be made with boiling water ­ and only once-boiled water with a low mineral content if possible. This is because reboiling reduces oxygen levels and affects the taste, whilst water with a low mineral content allows the tea notes to come through better.

If you’re making black tea, stand by the kettle to ensure you pour as soon as it’s boiled. Black tea tastes best when brewed in water as close to boiling point as possible. That’s why your cuppa may taste different on a plane. In the reduced pressure environment, the boiling point is lowered to 90°.

But if you’ re making green tea, allow the kettle to cool for up to two minutes. This will make sure that your tea doesn¹t over-infuse and develop a bitter taste. Green teas are more delicate after all.

When using a tea bag in a cup, always add your milk after the water, otherwise the milk will cool the water down and hinder the all important infusion process. If using a tea pot, try adding the milk to the cup first. This traditional technique stopped the delicate porcelain cups from cracking.

We advise leaving the bag in for at least two minutes to provide sufficient time to let the flavour of the tea to infuse. This is more of a guideline though; the perfect brew is down to personal preference. But do not poke or prod the bag while it is infusing ­ be patient and let the process happen naturally!

After removing the bag, leave the brew to cool down for around two-three minutes. As the temperature reduces, the flavours will develop for a better quality taste.

If you would like to know more about the art of tea blending, take a look on Tetley’s website for a much more in-depth overview.

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's TableMy recipe for Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares compliments and showcases the fruitiness of one of  one of Tetley’s latest blends – Green Tea with Peach and Apricot.

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares | Selma's TableI soaked some sultanas in a very strong brew of the tea which absorbed the fruity flavours perfectly. I roasted the seasonal crown squash that was in my Sutton Community Farm  veg box along with some butter, brown sugar and my Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice mix.

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares | Selma's TableI whizzed up a buttery, oaty, nutty base & topping, layered up and baked it then drizzled the squares with a lemony yogurt glaze. The result reminded me a little of the flavours of a baklava – sweet, spicy and nutty! I found that it sets up best overnight and even tastes better as all the flavours mature.

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares | Selma's TableI am taking these delicious Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares over to Angie’s to share with the revellers at her popular Fiesta Friday party – it’s the 45th one – can you believe it?! Our talented first-time co-hosts this week are  Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake (I don’t know about giraffes but Michelle is an extraordinary baker!) and MB @Bourbon & Brown Sugar (MB has some fantastic bakes on her blog but her savoury food is pretty fabulous too!) Welcome to co-hosting, ladies – it is quite the blast!

Roast Pumpkin and Walnut Squares

  • Servings: 16 pieces
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

For the roast pumpkin

  • 300 g crown squash diced into 1  cm pieces (about a ¼ of a squash)
  • 1 tbsp butter cubed
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix

Mix and roast in a single layer  at 200C/400F for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. The pumpkin pieces should be cooked through but still a little firm. Set aside to cool

For the sultanas

  • 75 g sultanas
  • 1 Tetley’s Peach and Green Tea teabag
  • 1 Tetley Redbush (Rooibos) teabag
  • 1 cup of just boiled water

Make a very strong brew with the two teabags, then remove and stir in the sultanas. Soak for 20 minutes at least. Drain when ready to use.

For the base and topping:

  • 125 g Digestive biscuits (about 8)
  • 20 g walnuts
  • 190 g plain/AP flour
  • 50 g oats
  • 20 g ground almonds/almond meal/almond flour
  • 1 ½  tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
  • 180 g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 50 g chopped walnuts – reserve for the topping
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds – reserve for the topping

For the filling:

  • 1 large egg
  • 150 g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 300 g roast pumpkin
  • drained sultanas
  • 1 Tbsp ground almonds/almond meal

For the glaze:

  • ½ c golden icing sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla yoghurt
  • 2 tsp Yuzu Citrus Seasoning

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C/350 F. Line a 9 inch square tin with greaseproof paper so that the base and sides are covered – use a few dabs of butter to get the paper to stick to the pan.
  2. Place the walnuts and digestive biscuits in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Add the flour, oats, ground almonds and pumpkin pie spice mix and pulse a couple of times to combine.
  4. Add the cold butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse, damp sand.
  5. Set aside 1 generous cup of this mixture for the topping and tip the rest into the prepared tin. Pat it level – don’t press down too hard or the base will be tough – then bake for 15 minutes.
  6. While the base is baking, get the filling ready; combine the pumpkin and the sultanas.
  7. Using an electric mixer and a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg,  sugar and pumpkin pie spice mix until thick, coffee coloured and creamy – about 2 minutes. Fold in the pumpkin, sultanas and almond meal..
  8. After the base has been in the oven for 15 minutes, remove it and top with the filling – covering the hot base as evenly as you can with the pumpkin filling
  9. Sprinkle over the reserved topping, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Cool completely before glazing.
  12. Combine glaze ingredients together until smooth and drizzle over the top.

Stores brilliantly, covered in the fridge for 4-5 days.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.