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.

Agnello e Patate al Forno (Apulian Shepherd’s Pie)

Agnello e Patate al Forno (Apulian Shepherd's Pie) | Selma's TableApulia is the southern Italian region which makes up the “heel” of the boot after which the country of Italy is likened. The area was once known as the Wine Cellar of Europe and today, their olive oils are much coveted by the cognoscenti . Their food espouses that wonderful Mediterranean diet of olive oil, fresh vegetables, fresh fish and shellfish, pasta and regional cheeses. The meat of choice is lamb or kid which is grilled, roasted or baked which brings me to this recipe for Agnello e Patate al Forno which translates to Lamb and Potatoes of the Oven or an Italian version of Shepherd’s Pie!

Agnello e Patate al Forno (Apulian Shepherd's Pie) | Selma's TableIt’s from a wonderful book called Italian Country Cooking by Susanna Gelmetti which I have had for many more years than I care to remember.  Over those years, I have made many a recipe from it but this is the one that gets made time and time again. Italian cooking is cooking from the heart. It is all about excellent quality ingredients generally cooked simply and without fuss and this ethos completely appeals to me. This recipe depends on flavoursome lamb, tasty fresh tomatoes, good pecorino cheese, good wine and fresh herbs. I have made it with and without wine – it is better with, of course. I tend to use lamb neck fillet as despite being tender, it has a lot of flavour and cooks a little more quickly than other cuts. The dish comes together in about 15 minutes and cooks for 1 – 1.5 hours depending on the cut of meat used.

Agnello e Patate al Forno (Apulian Shepherd's Pie) | Selma's TableI start by pre-heating the oven to 200C/400F and placing a couple slices of bread in it to toast for the bread crumbs. I set the timer for 5 minutes too so that I don’t forget about them! Then I place the garlic, the cheese and the herbs in a small processor and blitz until the mixture resembles green crumbs, which is set aside. Once the bread is out and has cooled, I tear this up and blitz it too and mix it into the cheese and herb mixture. I peel and cut up the potatoes, dice the tomatoes and chop the lamb. A little olive oil is judiciously poured into a baking dish, into which the lamb, potatoes and tomatoes are tumbled about, seasoned and covered with the herbed breadcrumb mixture. A little wine is poured in and a little water to come halfway up the potatoes. At this point I like to pull up bits of lamb to poke through so that the tops get nice and crispy while the underneath braises in the delicious wine and tomato juices and gets melting tender. A little olive oil is then lightly drizzled over the top and it goes into the oven to cook, undisturbed for an hour or so.  In the past, I have used stock for all the liquid if wine was not at hand and also added lemon zest to herb mixture and the juice to the liquid. It smells amazing as it cooks and benefits from resting for a few minutes after coming out of the oven. Served with a peppery rocket salad, it’s a lovely meal at this time of the year.

Agnello e Patate al Forno (Apulian Shepherd's Pie) | Selma's Table

Agnello e Patate al Forno (Apulian Shepherd's Pie)

  • Servings: serves 3 people or 2 generously, with left overs
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from  Italian Country Cooking by Susanna Gelmetti

INGREDIENTS

  • 35g pecorino cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary – about 5g of needles
  • 25g fresh parsley including the stalks
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • pepper
  • 25g fresh bread crumbs
  •  500g potatoes (floury or waxy – both types are fine here)
  • 400g – 500g lamb neck fillet or lean lamb
  • 5 ripe tomatoes
  • salt
  • 100ml approx of white or red wine
  • 100ml approx of water or stock
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh parsley and pecorino cheese to serve.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F. If you are making your own bread crumbs, which I recommend, then place the bread slices in the oven to dry out for 5 minutes while the oven is heating up. In my experience, it is best to set a timer so that you don’t forget about them!
  2. Chop the pecorino into cubes, peel the garlic and strip the needles off the rosemary. Place in a small processor and blitz until it’s crumbly. Add the parsley and oregano and blitz again. Scrape out and set aside. When the bread has been in the oven for 5 minutes, remove to cool, then tear up and blitz into crumbs. Stir into the herb and cheese mixture and grind over lots of freshly milled pepper. Mix well.
  3. Smear the bottom of an oven proof dish with a little olive oil. Mine is about 9″ x 5″.
  4. Peel and chop the potatoes into smaller chunks that you would for a roast. So the larger ones into about 8 equal sized pieces and smaller ones into 4 and place in the dish. Cut the lamb, across the grain in similar sizes to the potatoes. Dice the tomatoes keeping them chunky. Tumble the lot into the dish and season with a good sprinkle of salt. Arrange so that bits of lamb and potato are poking through.
  5. Carefully pour in the wine and water, tilting the dish so that the liquid is evenly distributed. It should come halfway up the potatoes.
  6. Shake over the breadcrumb mixture to cover the top evenly and drizzle over a little olive oil.
  7. Cook in the oven for 1 – 1½ hours or until the potatoes are cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes then sprinkle over some fresh parsley and shaved pecorino before serving.
© 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.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableIt’s hard to believe that a whole year has gone by since Angie dreamt up Fiesta Friday. I remember how she said that she wanted us all to mix and mingle with each other because it was a party. I must admit that I was sceptical – I had tried various linky parties which made me feel like a virtual wallflower – hardly anyone visited, and the few that did, never commented or liked what I shared. So, when Fiesta Friday started, I stood on the sidelines for a few weeks, popping by to see what was going on and couldn’t believe how fabulous Angie’s bash was. People were submitting gorgeous recipes and they were all mingling like mad! The comments were so supportive, encouraging  and some were very funny too. It quickly became apparent that some people were super bubbly and had to be kept away from the sweets – and I am not naming any names here! So, I really pushed the boat out and made a batch of Nutella Espresso Sticky Buns. Well, the WordPress app on my phone didn’t stop pinging all weekend – people were commenting, following my blog and generally doing exactly what should be happening at linky parties. I felt like the fabled swan when Angie featured my post the following week! So Angie, congratulations on such a successful event and a huge thank you for hosting a brilliant party and gathering these lovely bloggers to your fold.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableThese Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts are something that I have been wanting to make for some time. I watched one of the contestants on Masterchef making something similar with roasted tomatoes and basil oil and the idea of an individual savoury cheesecake really made an impression on me. Also, I bought half a dozen cute little fluted tart tins from the dollar store in Winnipeg when I was there last and keep looking for an excuse to use them. I thought that walnuts would be a much better flavour match for blue cheese so dressed my tarts with the candied walnuts and the walnut dressing.

Making a “crust” with buttery bread crumbs couldn’t be easier and the cheesecake filling comes together so easily with a little whizz in the food processor.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableThis recipe is worth it just for the candied walnuts alone – you will not be able to stop eating them so I suggest you make twice as many. Just sayin’.

Warm Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts | Selma's TableThe tarts are gorgeous – the rich cheese filling with the crispy, crumbly breadcrumb crust, the peppery rocket leaves and the sharp nutty dressing topped off with the sweet and slightly spicy crunchy walnuts – perfect dinner party fodder if you ask me!

I am taking this over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 1 which this special week is being co-hosted by my two of my favourite Canadian bloggers,  Hilda @Along The Grapevine and Julianna @Foodie On Board – the original two co-hosts for the first few Fiesta Fridays.

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 Anniversary Part 1 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 read the Fiesta Friday guidelines and invitation post for helpful hints.

It’s been my great pleasure to co-host Fiesta Friday several times and I am so honoured that Angie has asked me to co-host  the Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 2 with  Nancy @ Feasting With Friends next week. The theme is mains and puddings/sweets next week, so best wear loose clothing! Jhuls, I will bring lots of camomile tea with me! I look forward to seeing what you lovely people bring this week and next. Happy Anniversary Fiesta Friday!

Blue Cheese Tartlets with Candied Walnuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Inspired by MasterChef

INGREDIENTS

For the Candied Walnuts

  • 150 g of walnut halves or pieces
  • 100 g of caster sugar
  • 15 g butter
  • a few shakes of cayenne pepper

For the Walnut Dressing

  • 1 Tbsp/15 ml white wine/apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp French mustard
  • 2 Tbsp/30 ml walnut oil
  • 1 Tbsp/15 mi extra virgin olive oil

For the Blue Cheese Tartlets

  • 100 g white bread (trimmed of the crusts)
  • 50 g butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 100g full fat cream cheese
  • 75 g blue cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp double cream/creme fraiche

To serve

  • Rocket leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Candied Walnuts

  1. Place all the ingredients into a nonstick pan and stir over a medium heat.
  2. Keep stirring until the sugar turns to caramel and starts to coat the nuts. This takes between 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t let the caramel burn – just keep stirring it.
  3. Once the caramel is a toffee brown, pour the mixture onto a silicone sheet or parchment paper – be careful as the caramel is very hot – and using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, separate the nuts making sure that there is caramel on each one.
  4. Let cool, then store, out of sight, in a lidded jar to avoid eating the whole lot.

For the Walnut Dressing

  1. Place the vinegar and sea salt in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the salt.
  2. Whisk in the mustard then slowly whisk in the oils. You can also just put the lot in a lidded container and shake hard but I like the rounded airy fullness that whisking gives to a dressing.
  3. Set aside.

For the Blue Cheese Tartlets

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Butter/spray the bases and sides of 4 x 8cm/3in fluted, loose bottomed flan tins.
  2. Whizz the bread in a food processor to fine crumbs. Melt the butter and tip in the crumbs, stirring to combine. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Divide into 4 then press the mixture on the base and up the sides of the prepared tins. Use the back of a teaspoon to even out the base.
  4. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 10- 12 minutes or until the bases are golden but keep an eye on them as they can catch quite quickly.
  5. Beat the rest of the ingredients together and divide between the tins. I did this in the mini processor in which I whizzed the bread crumbs.
  6. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until the tops are golden and just set – a little wobble in the middle is desired.
  7. Cool for a few minutes then remove carefully from the tins.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature on a few rocket leaves, drizzling the dressing around the plate and garnishing with the candied walnuts.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 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.

Chicken and Halloumi with Honey and Thyme

Chicken and Halloumi with Honey and Thyme | Selma's TableI have a real aversion to buying chicken breast meat. It’s easy to overcook, bland and expensive. I would much rather buy a whole chicken or those packs of legs and thighs and anyway, I don’t really like to cook in individual portions, and with chicken breast meat, it has to be individual portions, unless you are cutting it up for curries, skewers or goujons. What if someone is really hungry? It doesn’t sit comfortably with my ethos of passing round a generous platters of food for everyone to help themselves from.

A few years ago, I watched Donna Hay on television, cooking and baking hew way to exquisite looking food. I was mesmerised as much by the incredble view of the sea outside her kitchen window as by her effortless styling of the food on the plates.  She cooked some chicken breasts and halloumi together with a drizzle of honey and it stuck in my mind. Despite my reservations about breast meat, I’ve made this a few times with a few tweaks, here and there.

I’ve added shallots and garlic for a deeper flavour and included a dash of pomegranate molasses to balance the sweetness of the honey. You end up with the salty halloumi, the warmth of the thyme, the sweet honey and the sharp pomegranate molasses which are the perfect foil to the breast meat.

I’ve made this with both skin on and skinless chicken breasts and prefer it with the skin left on. It protects the meat from drying out and also adds a crispy note to the textures. The version below is skinless only because that is what I unearthed when rummaging in the freezer, wondering what to cook for dinner later!

It could not be simpler to throw together – all in the one dish that you can also bring to the table. It’s a brilliant mid week family supper, just make extra to make me feel better!

I am taking this over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #51 which this week is being co-hosted by the lovely, bubbly Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook and  supercook Juju @cookingwithauntjuju.

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 #51 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.

Right, lets party!

Chicken and Halloumi with Honey & Thyme

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Inspired by Donna Hay

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 chicken breasts, skin on
  • 4 x 1 inch slices of halloumi cheese
  • 2 x banana shallots or 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 10-15 stalks of thyme, leaves stripped
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses or lemon juice
  • Black pepper

To serve

  • salad leaves
  • steamed green vegetables like green beans or broccoli.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F and lightly oil a baking dish
  2. Place the chicken breasts and the halloumi in an oven safe dish that will fit everything snugly.
  3. Scatter around the shallots and garlic.
  4. Mix the olive oil, honey and pomegranate molasses with most of the thyme leaves, in a small bowl and spoon it over the chicken, halloumi, shallots and garlic. Scatter over the remaining thyme and black pepper. You won’t need salt as halloumi is quite a salty cheese.
  5. Roast in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the halloumi is golden. Baste with the pan juices once or twice in that time.
  6. Serve on a handful of salad leaves using the pan juices as a salad dressing.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 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.

Crunchy Pickled Radish Slices

Crunchy Pickled Radish Slices | Selma's Table

After the excesses of festive season, January bears the brunt of cutting back whether it be shopping, alcohol and/or food. The feasting seems to start from the beginning of December so come January, we do crave simpler, lighter food. The trouble is that sometimes it can seem a little bland. These crunchy, pickled radish slices will perk up all sorts of things from salads to steamed vegetables, steamed fish to simply cooked meats. And of course they are superb with cheese and crackers, in sandwiches,  in burgers; anywhere you need a crunchy, spicy, floral, acidic hit of flavour.

They are ridiculously easy to make – combine the spices, slice the radishes and layer in a heatproof jar. Boil the brine to dissolve the sugar and salt and pour over the radishes. That’s it! You can eat them as soon as they have cooled or refrigerate them for later – they keep for a few weeks. I hope you find that they add a little pizzaz to some of your January meals!

I am so thrilled to be co-hosting The Novice Gardner’s Fiesta Friday with the incredibly talented Sue of Birgerbird. If you are not familiar with her work – please do take a look – her photography will blow you away and then when you see the gorgeous award winning food she cooks too – wow! She now sells her award winning pork pies so if you are lucky enough to be in the Santa Monica area, give her a yell! We are co-hosting Angie’s 50th Fiesta Friday and we can’t wait to see what you are bringing to the party!

Click on the Fiesta Friday badge below to join the party – you can submit a post (please be sure to include the link and a mention, in your post, to Angie’s  FF#50 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!

Speaking of features, there were some stunners last week! I still can’t get over Lily’s Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream and Naina’s Firecracker Shrimps look fantastic. And how about a Lemon Meringue Pie Cocktail from Dini to kick things off with? Then for pudding we have Pecan-Bacon Squares A’ La Mode from Judi! Wowsers!!

If you are new to blogging, 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!

If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please do take a minute to read the guidelines.

fiesta-friday-badge-button-click-to-join1

Crunchy Pickled Radish Slices

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bunch of radishes

Brine

  • 200 ml white wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 200 ml water
  • 3Tbsp sugar, honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp salt

Spices

  • ½ – 1 tsp chilli flakes depending on how spicy you like it
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp red peppercorns
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Trim off the tops and tails of the radishes. then, using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice very finely into rounds.
  2. Mix the spices together and place half in the bottom of a heat proof jar.
  3. Fill the jar with the sliced radishes and top with the remaining spices.
  4. Bring the brine ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  5. Pour over the radishes and let this cool to room temperature before serving or storing in the fridge.

The radishes will last for a few weeks in the fridge.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 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 post.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken from ‘Slow Cooked’

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableSlow cooking is like waving a culinary magic wand. Cheaper cuts of knife resistant, sinewy meat transform into something silky and tender as they gently burble away in an aromatic bath of your choice. Up until recently, I used my Le Creuset and a low oven to slow cook lamb shanks, stewing beef, brisket and the like. Then a couple of years ago, I spotted a slow cooker in the summer sales and thought how perfect it would be for making dishes overnight or during the day so that there was something gorgeous for dinner to come home to. But truth be told, I haven’t been too adventurous with it; my best thing is making chicken stock in it with the remains of a carcass but that is all set to change with the publication of a new book, “Slow Cooked” by fellow South Londoner and blogger, Miss South, which I was sent to review.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableMiss South has a passion for cooking good food on a very tight budget. She won the Young British Foodies Food Writing award in September 2013 for her blog North/South Food, which she writes with her brother Mister North. She has also written for Observer Food Monthly as well as appearing on The Food Programme on Radio 4. With these sort of credentials, you just know that you are in for a treat when it comes to her book. It is packed full of 200 delicious sounding recipes which cover meat, poultry and fish, soups, vegetables and legumes, cakes, puddings and preserves too, all made in the slow cooker.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableAfter her first few attempts to cook in the slow cooker, Miss South found that the results were watered down as liquid does not get a chance to evaporate so she set about cutting back on the liquid and amping up on the spicing to get the recipes to work.  Recipes like Carbonnade which have mustard croutons pressed into it for the last hour or so; Butter Beans with Chorizo where the dried beans are cooked without soaking. There are some lovely photos at the beginning of the book but none with the recipes themselves, however the recipes sound so good that I didn’t even register the lack of photos.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableHaving tried a few of the recipes in the book, I found that I needed to rev the up seasoning and spicing a little. I’m not sure if that’s a matter of personal taste or if perhaps my herbs and spices lost some of their potency during the extended cooking period but it is just a matter of tasting and adjusting as you go along.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableWe thoroughly enjoyed the results of slow cooking chicken thighs which had been marinated overnight in a mixture of tahini, lemon and garlic. I added a little sumac and paprika to the original recipe to boost it’s flavour and served the juicy shredded chicken in wraps with tzatziki, harissa oil, and shredded lettuce. There are lots of lovely recipes and brilliant ideas as well as some very useful information about the foundations of slow cooking that make this book a must have for anyone who already uses their crock frequently or for those who would like to start. My next stop is the pudding chapter….

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s Table

Do take a look at what a few other bloggers had to say about the book and see what they cooked up too. The reviews are on the Happy Foodie site – http://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/articles/the-slow-cooked-challenge

Garlicky Tahini Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Slow Cooked by Miss South who describes this as “a dinner party-friendly take on chicken kebab with garlic sauce.”

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 6 chicken thighs on the bone
  • 4 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 – 6 Tbsp water
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh coriander leaves
To serve
  • Wraps/tortillas
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Greek yoghurt or tzatziki
  • 1 tsp Harissa paste, loosened with some olive oil
  • sliced avocados, chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber – optional but delicious

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the garlic in a small pan of boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes or until soft. Drain and when cool enough to handle, slip the skins off.
  2. In the meantime, remove the skin and any fat from the chicken thighs; slash the flesh a couple of times.
  3. The tahini should be the consistency of pouring cream so thin it out with as much of the water as you need to.
  4. Whizz or pound together the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, sumac, paprika and some salt and pepper. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary then spread it over the chicken, getting into the slashes and leave it to marinate, covered, in the fridge for up to 24 hours. I did mine overnight.
  5. When you are ready to cook, place the chicken pieces and the marinade in the crock  and cook on low for 7 hours. The oil from the tahini bastes the chicken and keeps it really tender.
  6. Shred the tender chicken into a serving dish, discarding the bones. Taste the marinade, adjust the seasoning if necessary and pour this over the chicken and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Note – if you don’t have a slow cooker then you can make this in the oven. Place the marinated chicken and the marinade in a roasting tin and cover tightly with foil and cook for 1.5 hours at 160C. Then remove the foil and cook for another 15 mins until tender and falling off the bone.

Serve hot with warm wraps/tortillas and all the fixings.

Any left-overs, re-heat beautifully.

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Strawberries

cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberriesWe’ve been having the most glorious summer weather here in London – this historic city is even more beautiful when the sun is shining and you can appreciate the architecture, gardens and cafe society in the golden glow of the summer sun rather than scurrying along under an umbrella, shoulders hunched, looking at the ground to avoid puddles. There is a wonderful campaign of sorts, called “Look up London” which exhorts us to look up and admire the amazing architecture – I always travel on the top decks of  buses just so that I have a better view of the upper sections of the buildings. In fact, when Jake was just a toddler, we used to spend the bus journeys into the West End, on the upper decks, gargoyle spotting. Such fun!

Last weekend, a friend organised a picnic in a private garden square off Sloane Street in Belgravia – the posh bit of Chelsea. “Simply bring yourself!” he exclaimed, when I asked what I should bring; “I just want you to relax and enjoy yourself.” Now, I have been on his picnics before – it’s all silver cutlery, china plates, crystal glasses, linen napkins, gorgeous throws to sit on and  really beautiful food. This picnic was no different – his “prep area” was an arbour set with wooden block seating where the hampers and bottles of wine where kept cool in the shade. Adjacent to this, in the sunshine and next to a lavender edged flower bed, he had spread out one of his enormous throws, scattered with large Indian carpet cushions. Along with a couple of deck chairs, a white linen covered occasional table set with a vase of flowers, a pile of the Sunday papers and a bronze Blackamoor holding out a box of marshmallows, it was akin to  something out of the Days of the Raj – all that was missing was the punkah-wallah to keep us cool!

cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberriesAnd the food…poached salmon on watercress with an avocado sauce garnished with lemon, prawns and squid rings; a wild rice salad with orange and red peppers, cashew nuts and dried cranberries: a green bean and tomato salad and finally, a vodka marinated cucumber salad with a dill sauce – all immaculately presented, of course. We also had fabulously ripe cheeses brought along by one of the guests, macaroons, the aforementioned marshmallows and I took these Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Strawberries – because I was not going to be able to turn up empty handed! A really splendid afternoon, catching up with old friends and making some new ones, in these beautiful gardens far removed from the hoi-polloi of “barbaric” Chelsea!

These Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Strawberries are a modern, healthy and portable version of a Strawberry Cheesecake. Hollowed out strawberries are filed with a sweetened vanilla cream cheese then dipped in melted chocolate and coated with biscuit crumbs. I saw a version without the chocolate on Pinterest last year but when I made them I found that the biscuit crumbs got soggy from the strawberries as well as the cream cheese. The chocolate forms a barrier  and a really delicious one at that! Feel free to use semi-sweet or milk chocolate instead of dark if you prefer. I made two punnets for the picnic and one for this post. The strawberries for the picnic were much larger and the ones for this post were quite small – you will have to judge how much cream cheese, chocolate and crumbs you will need, depending on the size and amount of the fruit – the recipe below is what I used for the smaller berries. Remember that they don’t take much cream cheese to fill them. These are best at room temperature but do need to be kept in the fridge for the chocolate to firm up. These are perfect for picnics but they are also lovely as a sweet canapé at a summer party.

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cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberries

cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberries

cheesecake-stuffed-chocolate-strawberriesI am taking these over to Angie’s for Fiesta Friday #27 – that fabulous weekly party where you will leave completely inspired and blown away by the creativity out there. This week, Angie is ably helped by Aussie power duo,  Saucy @ Saucy Gander and Margot @ Gather and Graze who are in fancy dress – so I’ve come in flapper gear, doing the Charleston and handing out strawberries!

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Strawberries

INGREDIENTS

  • 400 g punnet of strawberries as even in size as possible
  • 100 g cream cheese
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp sifted icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract. or paste
  • 70 g of dark or semi sweet chocolate
  • 4 – 5 digestive biscuits or graham crackers

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the biscuits in a sandwich bag and crush to fine crumbs with a rolling pin or the bottom of a glass. Place  the crumbs in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Blend the cream cheese with 1 tablespoon of the sifted icing sugar and the vanilla – taste and add more sugar if it’s not sweet enough. Taste your strawberries too – you don’t want an overly sweet stuffing if the berries are very sweet.
  3. Fit a large holed nozzle onto a piping bag and fill the bag with the cream cheese mixture. Or fill a sandwich bag with the cream cheese – you can snip off a small bit of the corner when you are ready to stuff the strawberries. Place the bag in the fridge while you get on with the strawberries.
  4. Rinse the strawberries and set aside any that have mushy spots. You can trim those and save them for smoothies, fruit salads etc.
  5. Using a small paring knife, slice off the strawberry hull or calyx – the leaves.
  6. Then, using the tip of the paring knife, hollow out from the base by twisting the knife around in a conical circle.
  7. Place the strawberries on a paper towel lined tray to drain.
  8. Once they are all hulled and hollowed out, pat the tops of the fruit with another paper towel to dry the surfaces.
  9. Fill the strawberries with the cream cheese, using the piping or sandwich bag to fill the fruit neatly.
  10. Either melt the chocolate (in a small bowl) on a low setting in the microwave for 30 second intervals or in a double boiler set-up (a pan of simmering water with the bowl of chocolate set on top but not touching the water). The chocolate should be just melted.
  11. Using a pickle fork or a toothpick or even your fingers if the strawberries are large enough to hold, dip the ends in the chocolate and then in the crumbs.
  12. Set on a tray and pop into the fridge for the chocolate to firm up.
  13. These are best enjoyed at room temperature so take them out at least half an hour before serving. If transporting for picnic then place in a suitable container, packing an icepack underneath the container.

© 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.

Shakshuka – (Eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce)

shakshuka-eggs-poached-in-a-spicy-tomato-sauceStating the obvious, I know, but weekends are just made for leisurely breakfasts and brunches. Whether meeting friends at a bustling cafe or making something at home, brunch is one of my favourite meals just because it feels so indulgent and decadent in comparison to the usual Monday to Friday grind.

I watched Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Feast when it first aired a couple of years ago (Dec 2012) and  was struck by the warmth and conviviality that he encountered whether shopping in a market, researching in a backstreet or cooking in restaurants with fellow chefs. The food ranged from traditional to modern and always so fresh – it was a fabulous series. (If you are in the UK, click on the link to take you to Channel 4OD to watch the series.) One dish that really caught my fancy was Shakshuka, a Tunisian dish of eggs, poached in a spicy tomato sauce which he dished up in Tel Aviv under the watchful eye of “The King of Shakshuka”. I’ve been making it ever since…

shakshuka-eggs-poached-in-a-spicy-tomato-sauce

My version is not as spicy and lends itself to being easily converted to a vegetarian meal by omitting the chorizo or merguez sausages and substituting these with mushrooms and red peppers. This recipe is so tasty and so simple to make that I hope it will become a firm favourite in your weekend meal repertoires.

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shakshuka-eggs-poached-in-a-spicy-tomato-sauce

The eggs are poached…

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I am taking these over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #18 which this week, is being co-hosted by Justine@Eclectic odds n sods and Mr Fitz@Cooking with Mr Fitz . With these two party animals in charge, it is going to be a blast!! Justine has been at the champers since the get go and Mr Fitz has been brandishing those super sharp knives of his when things threaten to get out of control…do take a look at their blogs – you are sure to find much to amuse at Justine’s and much to envy at Mr Fitz’…

Angie’s Fiesta Friday is attended by the warmest, most supportive and incredibly creative bunch of people that it has been my pleasure to (virtually) meet. Do take a look at the entries for inspiration and if you blog, feel free to join in. Not only would Angie, Justine and Mr Fitz welcome you with open arms but so will the crowd!

Read the guide lines here – http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

Join the party here – http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/going-vegetarian-for-fiesta-friday-18/

Shakshuka

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 banana shallots or one medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 75 g chorizo or merguez sliced into ½ cm chunks (or use mushrooms and red peppers for a vegetarian option)
  • 1 tsp tomato paste/puree
  • 1 tsp Harissa paste (adjust this to your palate and substitute with ½ tsp of chilli flakes if you don’t have any Harissa)
  • 1 can of tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dry roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • ⅓ can of water
  • 4 large, preferably  organic/free range eggs
  • handful of chopped coriander/cilantro leaves (I also used some snipped chives)
  • Greek yoghurt and flat breads or sourdough toast to serve

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet, over a medium low flame.
  2. Gently sauté the shallots until they have softened and coloured which should take about 4 – 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and the chorizo or merguez and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring from time to time to cook all sides. I add a splash of water to the pan if I think it’s going to catch and burn.
  4. Add the tomato paste and the Harissa to the pan, stir, and let the rawness cook off for a a minute or so.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, smoked paprika, cumin seeds and thyme leaves and ⅓ of the (tomato) can of water. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any delicious caramelisation that will have occurred and let this bubble away , uncovered, for between 5 -8 minutes, reducing to a thick chunky sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  6. In the meantime, heat up the flat breads or make the toast and set the table…
  7. Make 4 indentations in the sauce and crack an egg into each one. Cover  the pan and turn down the flame to low and cook for between 3 – 5 minutes. The time taken depends on how “done” you like your yolks, how thick or thin the base of the pan is and how hot the element is, so do check on the eggs after the initial 3 minutes are up.
  8. Scatter over the coriander leaves and serve immediately with a dollop of yoghurt and lots of warm flat bread to scoop up the delicious sauce.

© 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.

Orange and Coconut French Toast with Fruit

orange_coconut_french_toastEaster holidays are in full swing, which this year means LOTS of revision for GCSEs which start shortly after the beginning of next term. I made French Toast aka Pain Perdu aka Eggy Bread aka Gypsy Toast over the weekend and thought that you might appreciate a little reminder that it makes a really lovely and seasonal breakfast.

orange_coconut_french_toast

Years ago, when I lived in Weybridge, my brother came over from Canada to visit. He was probably about 19 or 20 and had a HUGE appetite in those days – I remember being astounded at how much food he could get through. He loves pointing out all the cultural differences between England and Canada – just recently commenting on how the English love living in tiny properties…I digress. We had a friend who owned a Novelle Cuisine restaurant in Hersham and she invited us to have a meal with her there. If this food fad passed you by, please click on the link for a visual. We started with a selection of tiny but beautiful amuse bouche with our aperitifs. Eventually our first course arrived –  a stunning looking plate of 3 slender asparagus spears, one quail’s egg with a 5 drops/dots/daubs of  hollandaise sauce. I deliberately avoided eye contact with my brother at this point. Our main course was served – my brother had chosen the steak – 3 tiny tournedos of filet mignon looking stylish and very, very  small indeed on the large white plate…I choked back a giggle and didn’t dare look at him for fear of disgracing myself – I mean it was such a lovely gesture for our friend to host us at her restaurant, right? He  leaned over to me and said, “What’s this? A snack?!” Yes, I was both mortified and hysterical with laughter. We ended up getting some pizzas on the way back that evening…

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I remember making a version of this French Toast for him which I think had rum or brandy in it; whichI baked in the oven – I  really was a novice in the kitchen back then and didn’t feel confident enough to fry them. It had a great flavour but not such a nice mouth feel.  I now always add something to the eggy mix and it is usually orange zest and cinnamon. This time I thought that coconut might be nice and it was. I also knocked up a quick fruit topping which was absolutely delicious.

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So this is what you do…

orange_coconut_french_toastFirst, get the fruit ready – it really elevates this fairly simple dish into something weekend-worthy…Put a pan on to heat and slice up one banana per person. Put a pat of butter in and let it sizzle over med low heat. Add the banana slices and let their natural sugars caramelise (not on too high a heat or they will just burn) on one side – start segmenting an orange in the meantime – I had a blood orange left so used that. Then flip the banana slices over and carry on segmenting the orange. If the butter browns a little that is great – just keep an eye on the heat so that nothing burns. Once the banana slices are done, turn off the heat and toss in the orange segments, squeeze over any juice left in the membrane and in the bowl and toss in a few blueberries. The residual heat will warm everything up and make it absolutely delicious! (Please click the link to watch a short demo on segmenting citrus fruit, if you are unfamiliar with the technique.)

orange_coconut_french_toastThen get on with the egg mixture. Beat some eggs and a splash of milk in a dish; sprinkle over some cinnamon, grate in the zest of an orange

orange_coconut_french_toastand stir in some coconut.

orange_coconut_french_toastPut a large frypan on medium low flame to heat up and  dunk the bread in the eggy mix. (And yes, that is Hovis, Best of Both – my concession to Jake’s inevitable request for – what I call – white plastic bread, in the holidays.)

orange_coconut_french_toastPut some butter in the pan to heat up and flip the slices of bread over to soak on the other side. This type of bread soaks up an amazing amount of liquid…

orange_coconut_french_toastOnce the butter is sizzling, place the bread in the pan and cook gently for 2 or 3 minutes. I don’t add sugar to the egg mix because I find that then the  bread burns on the outside and is raw in the middle – I serve maple syrup on the side instead. Check the state of play by lifting a corner of the bread slices to see how they are coming along. Once they have browned nicely on one side, flip them over and  do the same – they won’t need as long on the second side.

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Serve with maple syrup, honey, icing sugar, fruit – whatever takes your fancy.

 

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Orange and Coconut French Toast with Fruit

  • Servings: 1-2 depending on the bread
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

For the fruit

  • 1 medium banana per person cut into 1 cm slices
  • 1 small orange per person, segmented – save the any juice including what is left in the membrane
  • ¼ cup of blueberries per person
  • 1 tsp of butter per person

For the french toast

  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup of milk (approx 3 tablespoons)
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 Tbsp coconut – desiccated
  • 2 slices of large sandwich bread or 4 slices of something smaller and not as absorbent!
  • 1 tsp of butter – please – just eyeball it!
  • ½ tsp icing sugar

To serve

  • Maple syrup, golden syrup, honey, agave nectar…
  • creme fraiche or yoghurt
  • Fresh fruit if you prefer – strawberries, blueberries, bananas, peaches, mango etc.
  • Fruit compote

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put a small frying pan on a medium flame to heat up. Add butter when the pan is hot and once the butter is sizzling a little, add the banana slices in one layer , turning down the heat if necessary and allow to caramelise on one side.  Check after 1 or 2 minutes and when ready, flip over and do the same with the other side.  Once the slices are done, turn the heat off, scatter over the orange segments, juice and blueberries, shaking the pan gently to mix.
  2. Crack eggs into a container which will comfortably fit at least one slice of bread – one large enough for two or more slices would be better. Add the milk, cinnamon and vanilla and whisk until there are no traces of yolk or white remaining. Zest the orange directly over the egg mix and sprinkle in the coconut – mix well.
  3. Put a frying pan on a medium flame to heat up.
  4. Lay the bread in the egg mix and allow to soak for about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on what type of bread you are using. 2 slices of sandwich bread soaked up all the eggy mix but if you use smaller, less absorbent bread you should be able to double the amount you can make.
  5. Put the butter in the hot pan to melt and turn the heat down a little.
  6. Flip the slices of bread over and let them soak up the remaining eggy mix.
  7. Swirl the butter round the bottom of the pan to coat it well then transfer the soaked slices of bread into the pan.
  8. Let this cook for about 3 minutes or so but do check from time to time, that it is not burning – the idea is to cook the egg through to the centre of the bread whilst the bottom turns golden brown and crispy. It is better to lower the heat and cook for a little longer rather than have the heat too high and char the bread, obviously.
  9. Flip the bread over and cook the second side for 2 minutes or so.
  10. Remove to plates and serve with the warm fruit, a dollop of creme fraiche and the syrup of your choice

 

 

Iced Lemon Squares

iced_lemon_squaresCan we talk about Facebook for a moment?  Do you think it’s Lucifer’s own handiwork or do you embrace  it with open arms? I have a friend who doesn’t go near it or Twitter because she doesn’t want to have her identity accessible or stolen or to have to read inane tweets like “Ima in the shops innit” and the like! Personally, I find Facebook invaluable for keeping up with my large and far flung family, though ironically, not my brother who is social media averse and prefers to communicate by rather more conventional means, such as the telephone. Facebook has allowed me to connect (awful, awful word, only marginally better than ‘reach out’…) with aunts, uncles, distant and not so distant cousins, nieces and nephews and watch as they grow up, get married, have children and continue that wonderful circle that is life. I have been able to stay in touch with friends who have moved away, colleagues who have moved on and teachers and parents from prep school, long after our children have  moved on to their separate senior schools. You know, the sort of people with whom it was once so easy to loose touch. I cheer along as milestones are reached, champion business endeavours and comment on birthday, wedding and holiday pictures. I have found and been found by old school friends, discovered by one of my mother’s best friends from our Kenya days and  stumbled upon family members that I would never have known otherwise. It is important not to post personal details like the year of birth, to remove geo tagging from home photos and to keep an eye on the privacy settings but in general, Facebook really works for me.

When I started this blog, I set up a Facebook ‘Page’ for it (you have ‘liked’ it, haven’t you?) and have been overwhelmed at the support. Posts have been shared, photos commented on and best of all, recipes have been made and photos posted on the timeline. Last week, my niece who lives in Toronto, messaged  me (on Facebook!) to say that she had a couple of days in London and wondered if we could meet up. It turns out that we last saw each other about 25 years ago, when she and her brother were just young ‘uns. I took them strawberry picking at Garson’s Farm in Esher and we made strawberry ice-cream when we got back. She is as sweet and gorgeous now as she was then and it was an absolute delight to spend time with her and her lovely friend. She says that she doesn’t cook very much but has made my Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers and sent me a photo. Now, of course, none of this would have happened without Facebook…

I knew I wanted to take her a little treat, something that would be light, easy to carry and easy to eat and I remembered these Iced Lemon Squares. The original recipe compares them to brownies (and called them ‘lemonies’) but I never saw the correlation. It is a slender bake – more of a bar than a cake but is dense with a lot of lemon flavour.  I have added ground almonds and tweaked the measurements a little too.

I am taking these over to Angie at The Novice Gardener‘s Fiesta Friday as the party is still going strong and I think that those die-hard revellers may just need a little hit of sugar to keep them going!

Click on the link to be taken to Angie’s blog The Novice Gardener and join the party! Mix and mingle with the the guests – who knows who you might meet! http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/fiesta-friday-10/

If you blog and would like to join the party, here are the guidelines http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

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Mix the dry ingredients, then beat in the butter which should be really soft. Nuking it for 15 or 20 seconds may help things along and don’t worry if some melts completely. At this stage the batter will be lumpy. Then, in a separate bowl,  (and without cleaning the beaters), give the eggs and lemon juice a bit of a whisking. Pour this onto the lumpen flour mix, beat and watch it transform into a smooth, creamy batter. Pour it into the prepared tin, spread it out  and bake for 25 minutes. It will be lightly golden rather than deeply tan.

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Let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes then, using the lining paper as handles, lift carefully and place onto a wire rack to cool. If you don’t have paper, make sure to butter the tin very well and also flour it, then when the cake is ready, run a knife round the sides, shake it a few times and flip it out onto a plate then back onto a rack to finish cooling.

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While the bake is cooling, make the icing. First, zest the second lemon and set this aside. Then sift the icing to get rid of any lumps. I have. in the past, tried to skip this step because the ‘dust’ that this process generates really gets my OCD to go into overdrive but this results in bumpy icing so what I do instead is put the icing sugar in a sieve, sit it on top of a bowl and use a spoon to stir and push it through – this really keeps the mess down to a minimum. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract to the sifted icing sugar and whisk away until all the icing sugar has been absorbed. Keep going – it will happen! If the paste is too thick, add a teaspoonful of milk to loosen it. It should be thick but spreadable. Scrape it onto the middle of the bake and spread it out evenly. Scatter over the lemon zest and leave the icing to set before slicing.

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iced_lemon_squares

To slice, cut the bake in half then slice each half in half so that you have 4 long slices. Spin the bake a quarter turn and do the same again.

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iced_lemon_squares

iced_lemon_squares

Iced Lemon Squares

  • Servings: 16 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Rita’s Recipes

INGREDIENTS

  • 125g plain/AP flour
  • 60g almond meal/flour/ground
  • 170g caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • finely grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Icing

  • 70g icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp of milk if necessary
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • zest from 1 lemon

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Line an 8 inch square tin (mine is a 9 inch) with non-stick foil or grease proof paper. See my Tip and Tricks page, tip no 18 for an easy way to do this.
  3. Zest the lemon then juice it, keeping both separate and set aside.
  4. Hand whisk the flour, almond meal, sugar and salt to blend.
  5. Beat in the butter using an electric mixer until the butter has been incorporated – it will be quite lumpy.
  6. Whisk the eggs and the lemon juice for about 30 seconds.
  7. Pour it onto the flour mix together with the lemon zest. Beat until creamy – about 30 seconds to 1 minute. I always try to handle the batter as little as possible so as not to overwork the gluten which can result in a tough crumb.
  8. Scrape into the tin and spread out evenly using a spatula. It will seem like there isn’t enough batter but  don’t worry, there is.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes – it will have coloured a little on top. Place the tin on a wire rack for 10/15 minutes to cool, then using the foil or paper as handles, carefully lift out the cake , place on the rack and peel back the paper from the sides. Let the cake cool completely before icing.

To make the icing:

  1. Zest another lemon and set aside.
  2. Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl to get rid of any  lumps.
  3. Whisk in the lemon juice and vanilla extract and keep whisking until it has all been absorbed.
  4. If resulting paste is too thick, add a tsp of milk and whisk in. The icing should be thick enough stay put yet spreadable.
  5. Pour onto the middle of the cake and spread it out as evenly as possible.
  6. Sprinkle over the zest and leave to set for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

I find that the best way to slice these sort of bakes is as follows:

  1. Using a long sharp knife slice the bake in half.
  2. Then  slice each half into two equal slices so you now have 4 long equal slices.
  3. Spin the paper a quarter turn and do the same again – slice in half and each half in two.  You should have 16 fairly equal squares.

You can substitute oranges or limes for the lemons. You can double up the recipe to make in a larger pan.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013. 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.

Cardamom & Orange Syrup Loaf Cake

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-CakeThe other day I got a little excited to see bags of blood oranges in store and put one in my basket to make a salad with mint, beetroot and fennel. I got home to dejectedly realise that I had picked up a bag of normal oranges. I made the salad anyway as I was craving something crunchy, juicy and light and decided to bake a cake to use up the oranges.

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

I have been making versions of  this rustic Cardamon & Orange Syrup Loaf Cake for many years. The measurements are easy to memorise, all the ingredients are placed in the bowl and mixed in one go – no creaming, no whipping, no sink full of dirty dishes! The proportion of ingredients are based on the classic sponge cake (equal weights of eggs, flour, sugar and butter) even if the method isn’t. You can substitute limes or lemons for the orange; saffron for the cardamom; sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar before it goes in and use an apple juice syrup – the possibilities are endless. It emerges risen and golden with that characteristic  of Madeira cakes – a crack along the middle which is the perfect place to drizzle the syrup.

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Cardamom & Orange Syrup Loaf Cake

  • Servings: 8-10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
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Makes one loaf (in a 900g/2 lb tin)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 175 g of plain flour
  • 175 g of golden  caster sugar
  • 175 g of unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 75ml milk (5 Tbsp)
  • 1 large orange – zested

For the syrup

  • Juice of the large orange
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 6 cardamom pods

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  2. Melt the butter – see my Tips and Tricks page for easy ways to do this – tips 11 and 12.
  3. Prepare the loaf tin with a paper liner or butter the sides and lay a strip of parchment paper to cover the bottom and run up the short sides as handles.
  4. Place your mixing bowl on the scales and measure in the flour and sugar. Add the baking powder and the salt and mix  with a hand whisk to blend and aerate. Zest the orange straight into the bowl.
  5. Add the milk to the melted butter and stir – it also helps to cool the butter down.
  6. Crack the eggs into the bowl, pour in the milk and butter and mix for about 3 or 4 minutes with an electric mixer. It takes no time at all to combine. Do not over beat unless you want a tough crumb!
  7. Scrape into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 – 45 minutes. Poke with a wooden skewer at 35 minutes to be on the safe side.
  8. Give each cardamom pod a gentle bash with something heavy – it will crack open, revealing the seeds inside. In a pestle and mortar pound the seeds to a coarse powder. Or using the bottom of a sturdy glass, press on the seeds to break them down.
  9. Juice the orange and add to the sugar and cardamom seeds in a pan. On a low flame, heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid reduces somewhat – about 3 or 4 minutes. Take off the heat to infuse and cool. If the seeds are a bit on the chunky side, strain the syrup before using.
  10. When the cake is ready, let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then take it out and place on a rack. Gently prise away the sides of the loaf paper so that if the syrup runs down the sides it will be contained inside the wrapper and soak back into the cake.
  11. Poke 15 or so holes in the cake using a toothpick; then slowly and gently, pour over the syrup.
  12. Put it back inside the loaf tin until cold.
  13. Slice and enjoy with a cup of tea or glass of fizz!

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

These Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers are a lovely side to make for a roast or as light lunch with a salad as the recipe can be pre-prepared until the final blast in the oven while the roast is resting. The smoked paprika gives the couscous a very savoury flavour so do try and get some if you can. Amazon has some here.  I made these to go with the Braised Stuffed Rolled Shoulder of  Springbok or Venison the other day,  in Cape Town.

Halved and cored peppers

Halved and cored peppers

Couscous filling

Couscous filling

Stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers ready for the oven

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

Couscous Stuffed Red Peppers

  • Servings: 4-6 side servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large, sturdy red bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup couscous (I used a chilli and coriander flavoured one because it was there but you could use a plain one and add chilli flakes and more herbs if you wish)
  • 1/2 chicken/veg stock cube dissolved in 1 cup of hot water or use 1 cup of  homemade stock if you have it.
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100g of feta cheese, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Slice the peppers in half vertically (or just take the tops off if you would prefer to serve one whole pepper per person) and remove the seeds and white membrane. Lay snugly in a roasting tin (you may want to smear the tin with some oil first but I didn’t and they did not stick) and pop in the oven for 15 – 25 minutes or until softened. The time will depend on how fresh and thick the peppers are.  They will go back in to finish off cooking, once stuffed so don’t leave them in there so long that they become totally floppy. Remove them from the oven and set aside while you carry on with the stuffing.
  3. While the peppers are in the oven, place the couscous in a heat resistant bowl (I use a pyrex measuring jug) pour over the hot stock, stir and cover with a plate or piece of cling film. Let that stand and absorb the liquid.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the onion and garlic then gently sauté the onions until golden, giving them a little sprinkle (a pinch really) of salt to help them release their moisture and caramelise more quickly. Stir in the garlic and the chickpeas for a minute or two then add the smoked paprika and stir to mix well. Tip in the couscous and stir again. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cherry tomatoes, the parsley and the feta cheese. Taste to check for salt. Remember that the feta and the stock cube are salty so you shouldn’t need any more.
  5. Stuff the peppers with as much of the couscous mixture as you can (using the same tin that you cooked them in) but don’t compact the mix – heaping it works much better. Any left over stuffing can be used for lunch the next day. These can now be set aside covered, until you are ready to cook them or you can carry on and cook them in the oven for a further 15 minutes.
© 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

Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto

Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto This recipe for Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto, comes by way of my dear friend C who has a largely vegetarian diet and like everything that she makes, is really full of flavour and utterly delicious. The peppers get slightly charred in the oven, the tomatoes become juicy and intensify their flavour through roasting face down in the pesto and the feta adds a salty, lemony and creamy note. Whenever I need to cut back on the calories, I make these peppers (with a little less cheese) to layer in my lunchbox with lots of salad leaves and also some green lentils which I cook in stock with some chilli flakes and thyme. The juices from the lentils and the peppers means that a dressing is not needed. It is so full of flavour and releases energy slowly so that I don’t feel hungry or unsatisfied.  The peppers are also gorgeous warm with some roast salmon or chicken or as a side to a stew. These are really quick and effortless to make also scaling up easily to make more servings… Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto Prepare the peppersSweet Red Peppers with Feta and PestoSmear with pestoSweet Red Peppers with Feta and PestoFill with halved cherry tomatoes Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto Top with feta cheese, trickle over some EVOO and place in the oven.Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto

Sweet Red Peppers with Feta and Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 long sweet red peppers (they are sometimes called ‘pointed’)
  • 4 generous tsp pesto
  • 8-10 cherry or mini plum tomatoes
  • 100 g feta cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C/350 F.
  2. Before slicing the peppers in half, take a look at them to determine the most sensible side to do this from – they need to sit flat on the tray. Pointed peppers tend to be sort of flat and wide – they have a narrower side which is where they are best sliced from. I find that if I lay one down so that it lies flat and then give it a quarter turn, that is the best place to slice them in half – it gives me two fairly stable and wide halves. After you have sliced them in half, remove the seeds and the white membrane but try and leave the stems on as they look rather pretty. If there are any rogue seeds, hold the pepper half over the sink, cut side facing down and give it a little tap or two with the flat of the knife and the seeds should fly out. Nestle the prepared peppers in a baking dish which will hold them snugly. The tin that I use is 7″ x 10″ (which is 26cm x 17cm) and comfortably holds 4 halves.
  3. Smear 1 generous teaspoon of pesto into each half. Slice the tomatoes in half and nestle, cut side down into the pesto – put in as many as you can squeeze in. When I can find them I also use a few yellow cherry tomatoes.
  4. Slice the feta into cubes and divide this evenly over the tomatoes.
  5. Trickle over a little EVOO and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Serve warm as a side with a roast or stew or cold in a lunch box with a salad. This is delicious with a lentil salad and also on toasted slices of baguette…

SUBSTITUTIONS
I have made these with green pointed peppers which went down well despite my not liking the flavour of green peppers in general. They can be topped with grated parmesan cheese instead of the feta. Adding a few slices of anchovy filets, red onion and black olives would be rather lovely.

© 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