In My Kitchen – December 2014

I was MIA from this series last month, but it’s been a busy couple of months in my kitchen – come and take a look..

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's Table

Blue and White serving dishes

In my kitchen, I have scored some bargains! I love scouring charity and thrift shops for tableware – most of the time there is nothing but sometimes, there be gold… The first two dishes in the top row,  I spotted locally for a grand sum of £4 and the last one I found on eBay – starting price £1.99 and no one else bid!

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's Table

Silver servers

Another eBay find – I was looking for salad servers and came across these, being sold as a pair of salad servers. Obviously they aren’t – I think that they are most probably cake or pie servers – what do you think? Both are silver plate from the 1920’s, the ivory handle is bone and the brown handle is bakelite. Again, no-one bid for them so I got the pair for the starting price of £3.99! I just love the detail on them.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Elaine of foodbod’s spice blends

In my kitchen, I’ve had some incredibly generous gifts from my fellow bloggers. Elaine of foodbod sent  me a a selection of her homemade spice blends. I recently used her foodbod #1 blend in scrambled eggs, which turned out quite delicious!

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Tina of Madamoiselle Gourmande’s cutlery wrap

Then, Tina of Mademoiselle Gourmande sent me the most stylish cutlery wrap (for picnics, said her note!) which she made herself. Isn’t it lovely? What a thoughtful and clever thing to make and send me – I am very touched.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's TableI’ve been sent some wonderful Tetley’s Green Tea to try out – I had no idea how involved the whole process of tea blending is. I’ve written a post about it with information that is sure to surprise you! These green teas are just lovely – for me, the trick is not to let the teabags steep for too long otherwise the resultant tea is just too bitter. The fruity Peach and Apricot Green Tea is also fantastic for steeping dried fruit for bakes and the Mint is very refreshing.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar and Wookey Hole Goats Cheese

Elaine and I went to the BBC Good Food Show as guests of Barber’s 1833, England’s oldest cheesemaker who use live cultures to make their cheeses.  I’ve written a post about their cheese making process which is steeped in history and tradition; their fabulous cheese which can be bought in Australia as well as the States and really shouldn’t be missed if you get the opportunity to get your hands on some.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Holy Lama Spice Drops

While we were at the show, I picked up a few things – of course! These Spice Drops were actually samples from the press room (we had press passes – swanky or what?). The Mulled Wine is very nice in a cuppa and I am looking forward to using the cardamom in baking and in rice too.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Lime Leaves

I bought a bag full of lime leaves – the dried ones – which are just so lovely in any Thai style dish, especially anything with coconut or shellfish in it. I pull out the central rib or stem and finely slice the leaves before stirring them in to the sauce to simmer and impart that gorgeous perfume.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Dakos from the Olive Branch

I also stopped by the Olive Branch stand to say hello and got my hands on a bag of Dakos – these are the hard rye biscuits that Ottolenghi loves and uses in his salads.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Win a copy of Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Speaking of Ottolenghi, I’ve been sent a copy of his eagerly awaited and much coveted book, Plenty More for one of my readers to win. It is full of the most wonderful recipes; inventive and so full of flavour that you don’t even realise that they’re vegetarian.  The competition ends on Tuesday Dec 09  – take a look at the post for more details on how to enter the draw.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

Dried Limes

One of the ingredients Ottolenghi uses is dried limes – you cook them whole in sauces where they lend and musky deep lime flavour to the dish. I found a bagful in my local Mediterranean shop and I just wish you could smell them – absolutely gorgeous. I can see how Jo Malone was inspired to come up with the fragrance for her iconic Lime Basil and Mandarin Cologne, to which I am addicted!

In My Kitchen December 2014 | Selma's Table

Vietnamese Cinnamon

In my kitchen and very appropriate for this time of year, I have a large bottle of Cinnamon – and this is one of my favourites. It just has such a lovely flavour. I stock up on it whenever I see it at TK Maxx as I do get through quite a bit with all the baking I do.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's TableIn my healing kitchen…..I may have arthritis in my ankle – I will find out next week what the results of all the tests and scans are but in the meantime, I have taken matters into my own hands to effect a cure. Years ago, I was told that drinking a mug of hot water into which had been stirred a spoonful of organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) and a little honey was a fantastic remedy for arthritis. In those days, my finger joints used to get achy especially if the weather was changing. I started to drink a mug of this every morning and I have never suffered from achy fingers since. Even Ralph Fiennes, the intrepid explorer, champions this drink. I did stop drinking this at some point but the minute I heard that my foot may be affected, I hunted down a bottle of organic ACV and have started to drink this again.

In My Kitchen December 2014  | Selma's Table

In Wholefoods the other day, they had some fresh turmeric root in which I bought. This is meant to be an anti-inflammatory and since my ankle has been swelling up as well as aching I’ve been making Turmeric Tea which consists of 1 tsp of grated turmeric root and 1 tsp of grated ginger simmered in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Strained into a cup with a little honey and a splash of ACV, it is actually really delicious! And it has done an incredible job in keeping the swelling down. My fingernails look like I smoke 4 packs a day – grating turmeric will do that but it is well worth it!

A little round up of some of the food I’ve made, remembered to snap but haven’t blogged….I made some delicious spicy Butter Beans – recipe on Instagram if you are interested!  I bought a happy chicken from our local Streatham Farmer’s Market and we had it simply, stuffed with thyme and lemon and roasted surrounded by potatoes and garlic – a recipe of sorts is on Instagram – good ingredients just need to be cooked simply to let their flavours shine. These mussels are a bit of a favourite – cook the spaghetti for a couple of minutes less than you would normally and let it finish cooking in the mussel juices. I used some Elaine’s  Creole blend to spice it up and they were delicious! I made a dairy and egg free chocolate cake but didn’t like the texture enough to blog about it – this one needs some tinkering but doesn’t it look gorgeous?! A lovely way to enjoy tomatoes at this time of year, is to slow roast them so that their tomato flavour intensifies. I made a second batch the other day for sandwiches and salads – they are gorgeous in a toasted cheese too!

Well, that is it from my kitchen – huge thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to  her blog name so click on it and take a little tour!

Have a wonderful December, everyone!

 

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.