February 28, 2013

Fruit Loaf

Walking is probably one of my favourite outdoors activities in the winter. It takes a whole new dimension when having to wrap up in multiple woolly layers and go out in the breath-taking cold air. Despite of fields of mud to cross in places, I really enjoy the walks, as nature seems to be at a standstill for a few months and it is easy to find some solitude and quietness. We went for a walk in beautiful South Devon two weeks ago and were lucky to have stunning weather. I could feel the changing energies in the air, promises of a soon to come spring. But what a difference it was, when one week later, snow flakes were falling as we took a walk in the brisk air in the Hampshire countryside.

Back to the sunny walk, my friend Katie said she enjoyed walking with us because we go at a tranquil pace and get the opportunity to have cake breaks! We found a perfect spot for this: a natural bench in the form of a long rock, facing the sea, with our backs warmed up by the sun. Fruit cake is such a lovely English treat to have: of course I chose to give it a healthier twist and included avocado (no kidding)! To me, what makes a great fruit loaf is the quality of the ingredients you use; choosing the nicest dry fruits will certainly help. My friend had been asking for the recipe, so finally, here it is: to winter walks and cake breaks!

Fruit Loaf

Inspired by http://www.anjasfood4thought.com/2010/08/avocado-cherry-loaf-cake.html  

• Juice of 2 oranges
• 450g dry fruits (I used a mix of apricots, raisins, goji berries, dates and glaçée cherries), chopped
• 250g spelt or wholewheat flour
• ½ tsp allspice
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• 1tsp baking powder
• Pinch of salt
• 80g pecans, chopped
• 1 avocado, mashed
• 70ml olive oil
• 80ml honey, agave syrup or maple syrup
• 1 egg, beaten

1. Place the dry fruits in a bowl with the orange juice and leave to soak for about 20min.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
3. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the spices, baking powder, salt and pecans.
4. In another bowl, mix the avocado with the oil, honey and egg. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Incorporate the dry fruits and mix well.
5. Pour the batter in a greased loaf tin (I brush it with oil). Place in the oven for 50-55min. Check if the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer in the middle; if it comes out clean, then it is cooked (although it might still get a bit sticky if you go through dry fruits).

Cake aux Fruits

Inspirée par http://www.anjasfood4thought.com/2010/08/avocado-cherry-loaf-cake.html

• Jus de 2 oranges
• 450g de fruits secs (j’ai utilisé un mélange d’abricots, raisins, baies de goji, dates et cerises), émincés
• 250g de farine d’épeautre ou farine de blé complète
• ½ cc de 4-épices
• ½ cc de cannelle en poudre
• 1cc de levure chimique
• 1 pincée de sel
• 80g de noix de pécan, émincées
• 1 avocat, écrasé à la fourchette
• 70ml d’huile d’olive
• 80g de miel liquide ou sirop d’agave ou sirop d’érable
• 1 œuf, battu

1. Mettre les fruits secs dans un bol avec le jus d’orange et laisser tremper pendant environ 20min.
2. Préchauffer le four à 180°C.
3. Dans un saladier, mélanger la farine avec les épices, la levure, le sel et les noix de pécan.
4. Dans un autre bol, mélanger l’avocat avec le miel, l’huile et l’œuf. Ajouter aux ingrédients secs et bien mélanger. Incorporer les fruits secs et bien mélanger.
5. Verser dans un moule à cake graissé. Mettre au four pour 50-55min. Pour vérifier si le cake est cuit, enfoncer une pique en bois au milieu du gâteau ; si elle ressort sèche, le gâteau est cuit (il se peut cependant qu’elle soit un peu collante si vous piquez au milieu de fruits).

February 19, 2013

Barbados Honeymoon

While no one was looking, we left snow covered hills for turquoise waters and blue skies. We spent our long awaited honeymoon in Barbados, in the Caribbean, and loved every second of it. This was a first for both of us to go somewhere sunny in the middle of winter. I couldn’t have dreamt of anything better. The warmth and sunshine filled me with energy and gave strength for the rest of winter.

The island was a delight for the senses. I couldn’t get enough of swimming in the transparent sea, seeing turtles popping their heads at the surface. I remember the smell of the frangipani and all the other flowers bursting with colours such as bougainvilleas and hibiscus. I had the best mangoes and bananas in my life, discovered white sweet potatoes and ate fresh fish nearly every day.

Snacking on mangoes and oranges
Sunset at Oistins

As, a few days ago, we ate a papaya which we had picked in our garden and brought back home, this brought a big smile on my face, remembering all the happy times we had there. Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy :)

Traditional fish cutter

February 11, 2013

Spicy Carrot & Red Lentil Soup

Just a quick one before I tell you about my recent escape in the next post. Soups have that wonderful power of being so nourishing and giving glow to your heart even in the coldest of nights. I put together this one a couple of weeks ago and really couldn’t get enough of it. It’s really simple, just how I like it. I’m actually rediscovering the pleasure of cooking simple foods, with just a few ingredients, and as fresh as possible. And it feels good :)

Spicy Carrot & Red Lentil Soup – serves 4
• 1tsp ghee or light olive oil
• 1 onion, peeled and sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
• 1cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
• 1tsp ground coriander
• 600g carrots, chopped
• 2L vegetable stock
• 200g red lentils, rinsed
• 50g hazelnuts
• Extra virgin olive oil

1. Heat the ghee or oil in a large saucepan or pot, add the onion and fry gently until golden. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 1min. Add the ground coriander and fry for another minute. Add the carrots and mix well to coat them with the spices. Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 10min.
2. Add the red lentils, bring back to the boil and leave to simmer for another 20min.
3. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the hazelnuts in a small oven-proof dish and place in the oven for 10-15min until they are golden. Leave to cool down, then chop finely.
4. When the soup is cooked, take off the heat and blend with a hand blender. You can either blend until completely smooth or leave a few chunks. Serve into bowls. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Soupe Epicée à la Carotte et Lentilles Corail – pour 4 personnes
• 1cs de ghee ou huile de noix de coco
• 1 oignon, pelé et émincé
• 2 gousses d’ail, pelées et émincées
• 1 morceau de gingembre frais d’environ 1cm, pelé et émincé
• 1cs de coriandre en poudre
• 600g de carottes, coupées en morceaux
• 2L de bouillon de légumes
• 200g de lentilles corail rincées
• 50g de noisettes
• Huile d’olive vierge extra

1. Faire fondre le ghee ou l’huile de noix de coco dans une grande casserole, ajouter les oignons et faire revenir doucement jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient dorés. Ajouter l’ail et le gingembre et faire revenir 1min. Ajouter la coriandre en poudre et faire revenir 1min. Ajouter les carottes et bien mélanger. Ajouter le bouillon de légumes, porter à ébullition et laisser frémir 10min.
2. Ajouter les lentilles, faire revenir à ébullition et laisser frémir 20min.
3. Pendant ce temps, préchauffer le four sur 180°C. Mettre les noisettes dans un petit plat à four et enfourner pour 10-15min, jusqu’à ce qu’elles soient dorées. Laisser refroidir, puis émincer finement.
4. Lorsque la soupe est cuite, retirer du feu et mixer à l’aide d’un mixeur plongeur. Il est possible de laisser quelques morceaux. Servir dans des bols. Parsemer de noisettes et arroser d’huile d’olive.