March 30, 2015

Hot Cross Buns - Happy Easter!

Several hot cross buns on a white background

With Easter coming soon, I had a sudden envy for hot cross buns. Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the UK and other countries which were once British territories. They are delightful spicy and fruity buns, marked with a cross on the top. Many superstitions around hot cross buns are found in the English folklore; for instance, buns baked on Good Friday are supposed not to spoil or get mouldy in the following year. Buns taken on a boat would protect against shipwreck. Sharing a bun with a friend would ensure lasting friendship for the forthcoming year...

Whether you believe in the superstitions or not, baking hot cross buns is such a lovely activity to undertake, one in which you can involve children to help you, and therefore create family traditions, to repeat every year.

Daffodils flowers

The recipe below is barely adapted from one from Jamie Oliver and was a real success when we tried it. Make sure you eat one straight out of the oven while they are still warm, and the rest can be kept for a day or two (if they last that long) wrapped in a tea towel. 

Happy baking and have a beautiful week x

Two piles of hot cross buns

Hot Cross Buns – makes 12
Recipe barely adapted from Jamie Oliver’s 
•200ml milk of your choice
•3tsp active dried yeast
•55g butter
•200g light spelt flour
•250g semi-wholemeal bread flour + 2tbsp
•1tsp salt
•1tsp ground all spice
•1tsp ground cinnamon
•A pinch of ground nutmeg
•50g unrefined sugar
•1 large egg, beaten
•50g raisins
•40g dried cranberries
•Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
•Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
•3tsbp apricot jam

1.In a small saucepan, very gently heat the milk with 50ml water, until tepid. Take off the heat and mix in the yeast. Set aside.
2.Melt the butter in another saucepan.
3.In a large bowl, mix the flours (but the 2tbsp), salt, spices and sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the melted butter, the milk and yeast mixture and the beaten egg. Mix with a fork until the dough comes together, then transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough for 5-10min. Return the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a slightly damp tea towel and leave to rise for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.
4.After that time, take the dough out of the bowl, place it on a work surface and knead it for another minute or so to knock the air out. Spread it and sprinkle the dried fruits and zests on top, then knead for a couple more minutes to incorporate them into the dough. 
5.Cover a baking tray with baking paper. Divide the dough into 12 little balls and place them well apart on the baking tray. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for another 30min.
6.Preheat the oven to 190°C. 
7.In a small bowl, mix the 2tbsp flour with 2tbsp water into a thick paste. With the help of a piping bag or spoon, trace a cross with the mixture on top of each bun. Place in the oven for 15-20min, until the buns are golden brown.
8.Gently heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan to liquefy it. As soon as the buns are out of the oven, transfer them to a wire rack and brush them with the apricot jam to glaze.
9.Enjoy still warm or cold, with a knob of butter.

Hot Cross Buns – pour 12 brioches
Recette très légèrement adaptée de Jamie Oliver

•200ml de lait de votre choix
•3cc de levure de boulanger
•55g de beurre
•200g de farine de petit épeautre
•250g de farine semi-complète à pain + 2cs
•1cc de sel
•1cc de cannelle moulue
•1cc de quatre-épices
•1 pincée de noix de muscade râpée
•50g de sucre non-raffiné
•1 gros œuf, battu
•50g de raisins secs
•40g de cranberries séchées
•Zest d’1 citron
•Zeste d’1 orange
•3cs de confiture d’abricot

1.Faire chauffer le lait dans une petite casserole jusqu'à ce qu’elle soit tiède. Retirer du feu et y mélanger la levure. Laisser de côté.
2. Faire fondre le beurre dans une autre casserole.
3.Dans un grand bol, mélanger les farines (sauf les 2cs), les épices, le sel et le sucre. Y creuser un puis au centre et ajouter le beurre fondu, le mélange lait/levure et l’œuf battu. Mélanger à la fourchette puis transférer sur un plan de travail fariné et pétrir la pâte pendant 5-10min. Transférer dans un bol légèrement huilé, couvrir d’un linge humide, et laisser lever au moins 1h, ou jusqu'à ce que la pâte est doublé de volume.
4.Ressortir la pâte du bol et la pétrir de nouveau quelques instants sur le plan de travail pour chasser l’air. L’étaler et parsemer des fruits secs et zestes et pétrir de nouveau de façon à les incorporer.
5.Recouvrir une plaque à four de papier sulfurisé. Diviser la pâte en 12 petites boules et les mettre sur la plaque en les espaçant bien. Couvrir d’un torchon et laisser pousser encore 30min.
6.Préchauffer le four sur 190°C. 
7.Dans un petit bol, mélanger les 2cs de farine avec 2cs d’eau pour former une pâte épaisse. A l’aide d’une poche à douille ou d’une cuillère, tracer une croix sur chaque brioche avec cette pâte. Mettre au four pour 15-20 min, jusqu'à ce qu’elles soient dorées. 
8.Réchauffer la confiture d’abricot tout doucement dans une petite casserole pour la liquéfier. A la sortie du four des brioches, les transférer sur une grille et les brosser avec un pinceau de confiture d’abricot.
9.Laisser refroidir complètement ou déguster encore tiède avec une noix de beurre.

Hot cross buns on a white background

March 16, 2015

Carrot Pancakes with Grilled Halloumi

Lunch bowl of carrot pancakes and halloumi slices and a green salad

Pancakes aren’t just for breakfast. Have you ever tried a savoury version for lunch? In France, in the Breton tradition, large and thin buckwheat crêpes are often stuffed with a savoury filling, in what makes a delightful meal. We regularly have these in our home, but this time I wanted to try something slightly different and make smaller and thicker American-style savoury pancakes. Adding vegetables to the dough is a great way of including more vegetables in your diet, but also can be visually interesting (think green pancakes with spinach, for instance, or orange ones like in this recipe). I paired the pancakes with a few slices of grilled halloumi cheese, which could of course be left out if you’re going dairy-free, but we found they made a perfect match. Served with a side salad of lamb lettuce or peppery rocket and you have a fuss-free lunch bowl ready!

Have a beautiful week and let me know if you’re experimenting with these carrot pancakes. Show me your creations on Instagram by using the hashtag #fmcarrotpancakes

Lunch bowl of carrot pancakes and halloumi slices and a green salad

Carrot Pancakes with Grilled Halloumi – makes 12 pancakes
•3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
•6tbsp buckwheat flour
•A bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
•Salt and pepper
•½ tsp ground cumin
•6tbsp rice milk
•4 eggs
•Coconut oil
•200g Halloumi cheese, sliced

1.Place the carrot dice in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15min, until tender. Take off the heat, drain and blend into a purée with an immersion blender.
2.In a large bowl, mix the buckwheat flour with the parsley, salt and pepper and ground cumin. Make a well in the centre. Add the rice milk, eggs and carrot purée. Mix with a whisk until you obtain a smooth batter.
3.Preheat a large frying pan or crêpière, add a knob of coconut oil to the pan, then add small amounts of the batter (2tbsp each) to make the pancakes. Cook 3 or 4 at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Cook them on a medium heat for about 3min on one side, then flip them with a spatula and cook them another 2min on the other side. Set aside on a plate and repeat until you’ve used all the batter. This should make about 12 small pancakes.
4.In the meantime, to cook the halloumi, heat a griddle pan or skillet, then add the halloumi slices and dry-fry them for a couple of minutes or until golden, then flip them and heat for another minute or so on the other side. Alternatively, you could place the slices on a baking tray and place under a hot grill (watching out that they do not burn).
5.To serve, dish out the pancakes and halloumi slices into serving plates and serve with a green salad on the side such as lamb lettuce or rocket.

Pancakes à la Carotte et Halloumi Grillé – pour 12 pancakes
•3 carottes, pelées et coupées en petits dés
•6cs de farine de sarrasin
•Une poignée de persil, émincé
•Sel et poivre
•½ cc de cumin moulu
•6cs de lait de riz
•4 œufs
•Huile de noix de coco
•200g de fromage halloumi, coupé en tranches

1.Mettre les dés de carottes dans une casserole, couvrir d’eau, porter à ébullition et laisser frémir 15min, jusqu'à ce qu’elles soient tendres. Egoutter et mixer en une purée à l’aide d’un mixeur plongeur.
2.Dans un grand bol, mélanger la farine de sarrasin avec le persil, du sel et du poivre et le cumin, Creuser un puis au milieu et y ajouter le lait de riz, les œufs et la purée de carottes. Mélanger à l’aide d’un fouet à main jusqu’à l’obtention d’une texture lisse.
3.Préchauffer une grande poêle ou crêpière, y ajouter une noix d’huile de coco, puis ajouter un peu de la pâte (environ 2cs par tas) pour faire les pancakes. En cuire 3 ou 4 à la fois en fonction de la taille de la poêle. Laisser cuire à feu moyen environ 3min puis les retourner et faire cuire encore 2min. Transférer sur une assiette le temps de cuire le reste. Il devrait y avoir assez de pâte pour faire environ 12 pancakes.
4.Pendant ce temps, pour préparer l’halloumi, faire chauffer une poêle en fonte et ajouter les tranches d’halloumi. Les laisser dorer quelques minutes puis les retourner et laisser dorer de nouveau quelques instants. Une alternative consiste à les faire dorer sous le grill du four (en faisant attention à ce qu’elles ne brulent pas).
5.Pour servir, alterner les pancakes et les tranches d’halloumi dans des assiettes de service, et servir avec une salade verte telle que mâche ou roquette.

March 09, 2015

Acai, Coconut & Cashew Bliss Balls

Energy balls in a small white bowl

I feel a bit bad that I was complaining in my last blog post about the weather and winter dragging along, as we’ve had the most gorgeous sunshine at the weekend and suddenly spring has arrived! Camellias, daffodils, mimosas, violets and daisies are all in full bloom and it is the best feeling that the one of nature waking up, the warmth of the sun on the skin... All of a sudden life seems to have brightened up! We enjoyed beach walks at the weekend, and I never fail to take snacks with us for when we feel we need an energy reboot. Typically, energy balls are one of our favourites, I make batches of them nearly every week as they are so convenient to have at the ready for me to take as a post-yoga snack or for when we decide to go on impromptu wanders. I vary the recipes a bit, using different types of nuts/seeds/toppings. The one featured here today gives you a base that you can work with, and adapt it with your preferred ingredients. Bliss balls are also a perfect opportunity to include superfoods, which will therefore super charge them in goodness and energy-boosting ingredients (see previous post on Solstice Superfood Truffles for more ideas). I have chosen to include acai powder in these. Acai is a small berry native from South America, particularly rich in antioxidants and fibre. It can be used to prepare delicious acai bowls or be included in smoothies for instance. In the bliss balls, acai’s deep purple colour makes them look a bit psychedelic, and your friends might wonder what on earth you are eating...but let them try one, and they’ll become energy balls converts!

Happy Monday xx

Energy balls in small wooden dishes

Acai, Coconut & Cashew Bliss Balls – makes about 15
•125g Medjool dates, pitted
•65g cashew nuts, soaked for a few hours
•65g desiccated coconut + extra
•1tbsp chia seeds
•2tbsp acai powder + extra

1.Place the dates, drained cashews, 65g coconut, chia seeds and 2tbsp acai powder in a food processor and process until the mixture comes into a sticky ball.
2.Take a small amount of the mixture (about 1tsp) and roll it between your hands to form a ball. Then roll the ball into desiccated coconut or acai powder and set aside in a bowl. Repeat until all the dough has been used.
3.Place in the fridge for a couple of hours to harden. Enjoy!

Boules d’Energie Acai, Noix de Coco et Noix de Cajou – pour environ 15 boules
•125g de dates Medjool, dénoyautées
•65g de noix de cajou, trempées pendant quelques heures
•65g de noix de coco râpée + extra
•1cs de graines de chia
•2cs de poudre d’acai + extra

1.Mettre les dates, les noix de cajou égouttées, les 65g de noix de coco, les graines de chia et les 2cs d’acai en poudre dans le bol d’un robot et mixer jusqu'à l’obtention d’une boule collante.
2.Prendre un petit peu du mélange (environ 1cc) et le rouler entre les mains pour former une petite boule. Rouler ensuite la boule dans de la noix de coco râpée ou de la poudre d’acai. Mettre dans un bol ou assiette. Répéter jusqu'à épuisement de la pâte.
3.Mettre les boules au réfrigérateur pendant quelques heures pour qu’elles durcissent. Dégustez !

March 02, 2015

Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

Two individual casserole dishes layed on a tea towel, filled with a vegetarian shepherd's pie

There are not many signs of spring to be seen as yet. But I am well over winter. I literally cannot wait for fresh spring ingredients and a bit more sunshine. It’s that end of winter feeling, when it’s become near unbearable. I try to convince myself that I shouldn’t get impatient and simply enjoy the process, live the moment for what it is. So I am still cooking comforting dishes. After the crumble idea I posted last week, I wanted to share a savoury recipe. This one is a vegetarian take on a British classic (also called cottage pie), and was inspired by one that my mother in law cooked for us last time we visited them. It can very easily be made vegan by simply leaving the cheese out. I like serving it with a side of rice and/or a green salad, for a wholesome nourishing meal, which in those moments actually makes me love winter ;-)

An individual casserole dish layed on a tea towel, filled with a vegetarian shepherd's pie

Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie – serves 4 to 6
•300g green lentils
•2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
•Salt and pepper
•50g grated cheese (optional)
•A knob of coconut oil
•1 onion, peeled and chopped
•2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
•1 carrot, peeled and cut into very small cubes
•1 stick celery, cut into very small cubes
•1tsp ground thyme
•1tsp ground cumin
•½ tsp chilli powder
•1 can chopped tomatoes

1.Place the lentils in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for about 20min, until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside.
2.Place the sweet potatoes in a pan of boiling water and cook for 15-20min until tender, drain, place back in the pan and mash using a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper, and if using the cheese, mix it in until melted.
3.Preheat the oven to 180°C.
4.Heat a knob of coconut oil in a sauté pan, add the onion and gently fry for 5min, until soft. Add the garlic, carrot, celery, thyme, ground cumin and chilli powder and fry for another 5min. Add the can of chopped tomatoes and leave to simmer for 10min. Season with salt and pepper, then add the lentils and mix well.
5.Transfer the lentil sauce to a large oven dish or individual ones and spread the mixture over the bottom of the dish. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the top. Place in the oven for 20min and serve.

Hachis Parmentier de Lentilles & Patate Douce – pour 4 à 6 personnes
•300g de lentilles vertes
•2 grosses patates douces, pelées et coupées en cubes
•Sel et poivre
•50g de fromage râpé (optionnel)
•1 noix d’huile de coco
•1 oignon, pelé et émincé
•2 gousses d’ail, pelées et émincées
•1 carotte, pelée et coupée en tous petits cubes
•1 branche de céleri, coupée en tous petits cubes
•1cc de thym séché
•1cc de cumin en poudre
•½ cc de piment en poudre
•1 boîte de tomates concassées

1.Mettre les lentilles dans une casserole d’eau froide. Porter à ébullition et laisser cuire environ 20min, jusqu'à ce que les lentilles soient tendres mais ne s’écrasent pas. Egoutter et réserver.
2.Mettre les cubes de patates douces dans une casserole d’eau bouillante. Laisser cuire 15-20min jusqu'à ce qu’elles soient tendres. Egoutter et remettre dans la casserole puis écraser avec un presse-purée. Assaisonner de sel et poivre et ajouter le fromage râpé et mélanger jusqu'à ce qu’il soit fondu.
3.Préchauffer le four sur 180°C.
4.Faire chauffer une noix d’huile de coco dans une sauteuse. Ajouter l’oignon et le faire revenir 5min. Ajouter l’ail, la carotte, le céleri, le thym, le cumin et le piment et faire revenir encore 5min. Puis ajouter la boîte de tomates et laisser réduire 10min. Enfin, ajouter les lentilles et mélanger.
5.Répartir la sauce aux lentilles dans le fond d’un grand plat à four ou de plusieurs plats individuels. Répartir la purée de patate douce sur le dessus et enfourner pour 20min. Servir seul ou avec du riz et/ou une salade verte.

Two individual casserole dishes layed on a tea towel, filled with a vegetarian shepherd's pie