Brunch Time – Tahini Granola

Up next with my brunch posts is a classic: homemade granola. I do love a good bowl of crunchy, nutty granola, but I feel it’s often the underrated item on most brunch menus, with the bacon, pancakes and egg options getting first pick. For me, granola is a great alternative for when I want something a bit lighter or more fresh but still want to join in with the brunch time fun.

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I’ve given this my own little twist by using a couple of dollops of tahini. If the only time you’ve used tahini is in your hummus then you’re seriously missing out! The thick paste made from ground sesame seeds is a staple in middle eastern cuisines and mostly associated with savoury dishes. It hasn’t got a natural sweetness to it like other nut butters but I think that’s partly why I love it in my granola and other sweet bakes. A couple of tablespoons whirled in and you’re rewarded with a much more toasty, nutty and complex flavour. I’ve played around with tahini in bakes containing chocolate or honey and it’s a match made in heaven!

The recipe I’ve added below makes a large batch and it’ll keep in an airtight container for about 2 weeks. If like me, you like your granola with lots of chunky clusters, don’t stir it too much whilst baking. Once it’s cooked, let it cool completely before mixing in your dried fruit. Then whack it in a bowl with some yoghurt, honey and whatever fresh fruit you’ve got! (I’ve been known to toss in some chopped dark chocolate for an extra treat)

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R E C I P E

Ingredients

300g Rolled Oats
130ml Honey
60ml Sunflower or Coconut Oil
2 tbsp Tahini
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Salt
60g Sunflower Seeds
70g Blanched Almonds, roughly chopped
70g Hazelnuts
30g Pistachios,  chopped
60g Dried Cranberries or any other dried fruit

M E T H O D

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 3/170C/150 Fan
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cinnamon, salt, almonds, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds. Set aside
Add the honey, oil, tahini and vanilla to a small saucepan and heat until it’s all combined
Pour the honey mixture into the oats and stir until everything is coated
Pour the mix onto a lined baking tray and bake for 40-45 minutes stirring halfway until the granola has browned
Leave to cool completely before mixing in the dried fruit and pistachios and then transfer to a jar or Tupperware

Brunch O’Clock

As a millennial, I’m naturally a big fan of brunch. I love it. It combines the best bits of breakfast and lunch and is a perfectly acceptable time to mix sweet and savoury – french toast, maple syrup and a side of thick cut bacon? Yes please.
Brunch has also become one of those nouns that’s now used as a verb – an indication of just how trendy it is; brunching really is an art form. Out of all the meals of the day, brunch comes out on top and like most other millennials, I’m always up for a lazy weekend catch up over a flat white and some creamy scrambled eggs, complete with the obligatory Instagram post #brunchingwiththegals

If I could brunch every day, trust me, I would. But these regular weekend trips add up and we really should be saving those pennies for something grown up – like, you know, a deposit for a house. So, I’m here to help you out a bit and will be running a little series of brunch posts over the next week or so, sharing some of my favourite brunch recipes for you to make at home as well as a couple of shout outs for my top brunch spots in London. All the recipes will be relatively unfussy and easy to scale up making it pretty handy if you’ve got a few friends round. So let’s go!

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I absolutely adore eggs and will take them however which way they come, whether that’s fried, scrambled, poached or baked. And so it’s only natural that the first recipe I’m sharing are super yummy eggs. But not just any old eggs – in true brunch style these bad boys are baked up in the cutest little cast iron skillet, loaded with onions, tomato, peppers and smoky chorizo before being served with chunks of sourdough.

This is definitely a dish that feels indulgent but requires minimal effort and just tastes great. You could do this in any large oven safe frying pan if making for a group .Just stick it in the middle of the table and let everyone dig in.

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R E C I P E
serves 2

Ingredients

2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Small Onion
Half a green and red pepper
1 Clove Garlic
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
Sea Salt and Black Pepper
50g Chorizo, roughly chopped
Handful Cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Medium Eggs
Chopped Parsely

M E T H O D

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 6/200C
In a cast iron skillet or oven safe frying pan, fry your onions and peppers until softened Add in the garlic and chopped chorizo
Fry for a few minutes before seasoning with salt, pepper and smoked paprika
Add in the tomatoes, remove from the heat and make two wells in the pan
Crack the eggs into the wells and bake in the oven for 6-10 minutes until the whites are set and the yolks are slightly runny
Serve with some chunky bread

No Bake Fridge Cake

Happy New Year to all my readers both old and new! It’s my first post of the new year and among all the usual bombarding of ‘healthy’ January recipes, I’m bringing you the exact opposite with a sweet,buttery, no bake treat.

I love a good fridge cake every now and again. Whether it’s a rocky road or a chocolate tiffin, fridge cakes save the day for those times when you’re craving something sweet but don’t actually want to bake.  It’s so simple to put together and anything you’ve already got sitting in the cupboard is fair game to get thrown in. Kids love getting involved with bakes like these and you’ll have it ready in record time without any faffing about with the oven.

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I was left with a quite a lot of post Christmas dried cranberries and so I’ve used them all up here along with some white chocolate. This really is one of the reasons I love fridge cakes; there’s so much room to be creative and make it your own.  Play around with the dried fruit by experimenting with apricots, raisins or even dried blueberries which are particularly  yummy here. Nuts also add a welcome texture – I went with pistachios mainly due to their beautiful colour against the white chocolate. But honestly, use anything you have or love – pecans, toasted hazelnuts, flaked almonds or all of the above! Have a go at marbling some dark and white chocolate on the top, sprinkle on a bit of sea salt or just go crazy with some colorful sprinkles and edible glitter. This recipe is simply a guide – the rest is up to you.

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R E C I P E 

Ingredients

250g Digestive Biscuits
140g Butter
2 tbsp Golden Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste/Extract
Pinch of Salt
2 handfuls Rice Krispies
80g Dried Cranberries (Or any dried fruit)
400g White Chocolate
Handful of Pistachios or any nuts, roughly chopped
Handful Marshmallows
1 Tablespoon Freeze Dried Raspberries

M E T H O D

Put the biscuits into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin into small pieces.
In a saucepan, melt the butter with the golden syrup, vanilla and salt.
Once melted, take the pan off the heat and add in the crushed biscuits and Rice Krispies. Stir until everything is fully coated. Mix in the half of the dried fruit.
Line a square or rectangular baking tin with greaseproof paper and firmly press in the biscuit mixture making sure it’s evenly leveled.
Pop it in the fridge for at least half an hour to firm up.
Whilst the biscuit layer is chilling, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Pour the chocolate evenly over the biscuit layer and sprinkle over the remaining dried fruit, nuts, marshmallows, freeze dried raspberries and any other extras you’re using.
Leave to set completely before cutting into squares.

Pork and Cranberry Sausage Rolls

Got some more cranberries coming at you with another festive bake! This time I’ve opted for something savoury with my pork and cranberry sausage rolls.

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Everyone loves a good sausage roll. Buttery, flaky pastry wrapped around a hot salty nugget of meat. Very much a British classic, it could easily be the ultimate party finger food – because really, what’s a party without a few sausage rolls?

Now, I know it’s probably much quicker to pick up a pack of pre prepared sausage rolls from the supermarket but making them from scratch is just so much more satisfying! You get far more control with exactly what goes in them and it gives you the flexibility to be creative with flavours. To make these even easier to put together, you could use shop bought puff pastry and squeeze out the meat from your favourite sausages.

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For those of you feeling a bit more adventurous, I’ve included the recipe for a rough puff pastry that’s been seasoned with some fresh sage and black pepper. Making your own pastry can seem a bit daunting at first but just remember to keep everything nice and cold! If the pastry feels as if it’s getting a bit sticky or warm, stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up before continuing.

So, back to the cranberries. They really do add such a pleasant sweetness to these sausage rolls which beautifully balances the saltiness of the pork. I took a pack of fresh, bright red cranberries and cooked them down with into a sticky sauce spiced with cinnamon and ginger – the perfect finger food for Christmas or New Years parties. Believe me when I say, you’ll be very tempted to finish the lot as soon as they’re out of the oven but try to resist! They’re equally as wonderful once they’ve cooled down.

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R E C I P E
makes 12-16 

Rough Puff
250g Plain Flour
250g Butter, cold and chopped into small cubes
½ tsp Salt
2 tsp Fresh Sage, finely chopped
1 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
80ml Ice Cold water

Cranberry Sauce
100g Fresh Cranberries
70g Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 tsp Ground Ginger
Pinch Salt
Squeeze of lemon
70ml Water

Filling
400g Sausagemeat
50g Fresh Breadcrumbs
Salt and Pepper
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Sage
1 egg, beaten, to glaze

M E T H O D

Rough Puff:
To make the rough puff, sift together the flour, salt, sage and black pepper. Work in the butter quickly with your fingertips. You should still be able to see some pieces of butter.

Add in the water and mix together to form a rough dough. Gently knead the dough briefly to bring it together and then wrap it in cling film. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Once rested, lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 40x20cm with the shortest side facing you. Fold the dough into three like you would a letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees so that the seam runs away from you. This is the first turn.
Roll the pastry out again into a rectangle and repeat the folding and turning process. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for another 30 mins to let it firm up.
Give the pastry two more turns – rolling out and folding as above. Wrap it up in cling film and store in the fridge until ready to use.
Preheat Oven to Gas Mark 6/200C

Cranberry Sauce:

For the cranberry sauce, place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow the cranberries to simmer for 8-10 minutes until softened  Transfer to a small bowl and chill until ready to use.

Assembly:
Season the sausagemeat in a large bowl and mix together with the breadcrumbs until fully combined.
Dust a clean surface lightly with flour and roll out the pastry into a long rectangle approx 15cm by 80 cm and the thickness of a pound coin.
Lay three quarters of the sausagemeat along the pastry a few centimetres form the edge. Use your finger to make a groove running along the centre of the sausagemeat.

Spoon the cranberries into groove gently pressing them into the meat. Cover the cranberries with the remaining quarter of the sausagemeat.
Fold the pastry over the sausage and use the beaten egg to seal. Trim off any extra excess pastry and slice the long roll into 12 -16 smaller rolls or 8-10 bigger ones.

Brush the top of each one with some more egg wash, sprinkle with sage and black pepper and place on a baking tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden and the meat has cooked through. Let the rolls cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

Tis the season for…Cranberries

It’s usually not until we’re deep into December and gearing up for Christmas before the wonderful cranberry makes an appearance in our kitchens.  And even then, it’s often demoted straight into the cranberry sauce that barely gets touched amongst all the other more appealing offerings on the Christmas table.

This small but mighty berry packs a punch when eaten raw with an intensely tart, almost bitter flavour. But with the addition of a few simple ingredients, cranberries really work as a beautiful accompaniment in both sweet and savoury dishes. Over the next few days, I’ll be showing the cranberry some love by sharing a few festive recipes and giving you some ideas on how you can incorporate them into your Christmas spread.

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One of the many foods or bakes associated with Christmas is the humble shortbread. Whether it’s a novelty shop bought tin gifted from relatives or a big batch of the homemade variety, either must be consumed with a huge mug of tea in front of a classic Christmas movie. Most of the time, if I fancy a bit of shortbread, I’ll always gravitate towards the plain kind – no frills or odd combinations – just a thick wedge of buttery crumbly biscuit generously sprinkled with caster sugar. It’s definitely up there as one of my favourite biscuits. But as it’s Christmas, I wanted to inject some festive flavours and give this British classic a little twist. I’ve gone for  Cranberry, White Chocolate and Orange. Oh my, these were good.Packed with juicy dried cranberries and a subtle orange flavour peeping through, I may have had a few too many whilst they still warm!  And I promise, they’re so easy to whip together with no fancy equipment needed and a pleasantly short list of ingredients!

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R E C I P E 

Ingredients

225g Butter
100g Sugar
Zest of 1 Large Orange
300g Plain Flour
2 tbsp Cornflour
75g Dried Cranberries
100g White Chocolate, chopped

M E T H O D

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy and then add in the zest
Sift together the flour and cornflour and fold it into the butter
Mix in the cranberries and white chocolate
Use your hands to bring it all together being careful not to overwork the dough
Roll out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and use any shaped cutter to make as many shapes as possible. Reroll the scraps and repeat
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4/180C/350F
Place the cut out biscuits on a baking tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm
Bake the biscuits for 15-18 minutes until very lightly browned
Let the shortbread cool completely before dusting with icing sugar or caster sugar