olive oil

walnut parsley pesto

22nd September 2017

parsley walnut pesto - 1

Within a day of moving into our new home, I planted a small herb garden just next to the back door, it contained coriander, parsley, sage, thyme, and all the essentials, plus 12 kale seedlings which I had been growing on the window sill in the old house. I am so glad I did as it’s been a vital addition to quick meals and those kale plants have been growing wild and wonderful. This is where the parsley came from. The main vegetable garden is quite a walk away from the house so it is helpful to have a small garden so close for emergencies.

This pesto is one I make weekly for pasta lunches for school and quick sandwiches for my young adults.  It goes nicely with a minestrone soup; a favourite with my daughter and part of easy dishes which she can prepare herself – recipe soon.

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~ Cosmos (Coreopsideae )

~ Cosmos is a Greek word meaning harmony or balanced universe.

walnut pesto 2 - 1

walnut parsley pesto

Preparation 20 minutes

Makes 1½ cups

When a bit low on the essentials I change the recipe a bit, adding a mix of pine nuts and walnuts or basil and parsley – or whatever I have in the garden at the time.

Inspired by Gillian.

ingredients 

¾ cup/80g whole walnuts

2 big bunches/90g parsley – rinsed, bigger stems removed

½ cup olive oil

¼ tsp fine rock salt

⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper

¼ cup/20g grated parmesan

extra olive oil for sealing the pesto

to serve 

homemade pasta

a tray of roasted cherry tomatoes, red pepper, pumpkin with rosemary and sage

golden crusted brussels sprouts

preparation 

1.   Preheat the oven 180C/350F.

2.  Place the whole walnuts on a tray and roast for 10 minutes.  Set aside to allow to cool.

3.  Wash the parsley, dry and remove the larger stems, place the leaves and smaller stems in a food processor with the ‘S’ blade attached, along with the walnuts, olive oil, salt and pepper.

4.  Blend until all are broken down – using a spatula to wipe down the sides.

5.  Add parmesan and blend until well incorporated – adding more oil if needed.

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5.  Store in a jar, with a layer of olive oil on top to exclude the air, refrigerate until needed, for up to two weeks.  Level the surface each time you use it, and recover the pesto with olive oil.  Delicious served with home-made pasta.

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Goodness shared by Stacey

easy spelt focaccia & a vegetable garden

13th June 2017

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I make this focaccia every Sunday as an accompaniment to our traditional pasta night.  I mix the dough in the morning and leave it covered on the side for a full day, the extra fermentation adds flavour to the bread.  You can also make it days before, and store in the refrigerator after the first rise, the dough develops a more complex flavour, and you can pull part of it out to make dinner – just be sure it has time to come to room temperature before shaping and continue with the recipe.

I usually make one large focaccia but since our move a month ago, I have a temporary small oven that fits two narrow trays – I make two oblong focaccia.

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Quality of Food

‘A very natural lifestyle in which we could collect fresh vegetables every day would be even more ideal, however. Growing a small garden can serve that purpose to some degree. There are also many other benefits one may experience from having a small garden. For example, one may gain beneficial exercise, as well as deep satisfaction in doing garden work. If done in a measured and relaxed way, it may lead to a calm and quiet mind.’ 

~ Dr. Shankaranarayana Jois – The Sacred Tradition of Yoga

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easy spelt focaccia

Makes 1 rectangular or 2 small focaccia. 

Recipe slightly adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce.

‘You can top the focaccia with almost anything: a liberal pouring of oil and a dusting of salt, a handful of fresh herbs, olives or sautéed vegetables, or a flavourful tomato sauce. However, you plan to top your focaccia, before cooking pour a generous glug of olive oil over the top – especially around the edges – for a crunchy golden crust’.

ingredients 

1¼ cups warm water

1 tsp active dry yeast

tsp sugar

1 cup/120g whole-spelt flour; plus additional for kneading

2½ cups/320g white spelt flour/all-purpose flour

1 tsp fine rock salt

2 Tbsp olive oil + ¼ cup (divided) for drizzling over the top

herbs, spices, or other toppings of choice

preparation 

1.  Lightly rub a large bowl with olive oil. Set aside.

2.  Add 1¼ cups warm water, yeast, and sugar to another bowl. Stir, and allow the yeast to bloom and bubble for about 5 minutes.  (If it doesn’t, it may be inactive; throw it out and start again.)

3.  Add the flours, salt, and 2 Tablespoons olive oil and mix to combine to form a sticky dough.

4.  Knead by hand, turn the dough out on to a clean work surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and silky.

Or, to use a food mixer, fit the dough hook and add the water, yeast, and sugar to the mixer bowl, stir, and allow the yeast to bloom and bubble for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed until evenly combined, then add the oil and leave to knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and silky.

5.  The first rise, put the dough into the oiled bowl, turning it so that the top of the dough is coated with oil. Cover with a towel and leave for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

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6.  Generously oil a baking sheet with olive oil.

7.  The second rise, place the dough on the baking sheet or pan, and stretch the dough out with your hands (it helps to oil your hands) into your desired shape, and dimple it with your fingers. Cover with an oiled plastic wrap or a damp towel and leave to rise for 1 hour.

8.  Preheat to 200C/400F.

9.  After the dough has completed its second rise and has puffed up on the sheet, drizzle with 2 Tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt, herbs or spices, or toppings of your choice.

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10.  Bake for 22  – 25 minutes, until golden brown. Drizzle with the remaining 2 Tablespoons oil while still hot from the oven.  Allow the bread to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Serve it with your favourite pasta or top it with mashed avocado, grilled zucchini, tomatoes, red pepper, fennel and a sprinkling of fresh herbs and salt.

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Goodness shared by Stacey

fig almond orange swirl cookies (vegan)

19th March 2017

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This recipe was quite a journey.  After many attempts and too many references to mention, I persevered, as there seemed too much scrumptious potential in these cookies to give up. It felt like I was conjuring up a kind of magic, from the transformation of ingredients to the finished result – even more so due to the many attempts to get here.  I am now satisfied to share it with you.

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In Ayurveda, sultanas are considered kingly of all the fruits, figs are considered precious and the winter citrus adds colour and zest to the last of these dark and rainy days.

Figs, whether fresh or dried, are an incredibly healthy treat and have favourable levels of calcium, contain iron, potassium, manganese and vitamin B6.  They also have high fibre content, keeping us feeling fuller for longer and have a helpful laxative effect.  When buying any dried fruit, look for organic and sulphite-free.

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fig almond orange swirl cookies

Makes approximately 18 cookies.

Recipe inspired by here and here.

Not overly sweet, the luscious fig filling is deeply flavourful and the pastry is light and buttery. 

The filling could be replaced with any dried fruit of choice – dates would work nicely.  I used 1 cup whole almonds which I ground in a blender – blanched almonds would give a much more visually pronounced contrast between the filling and the dough.  I wanted to achieve a lighter cookie, so I used white spelt flour, but it can be replaced with whole spelt or for a gluten-free version, rice flour. 

I call this a dough but just to clarify it doesn’t handle like a normal dough – it is very fragile and easily crumbles this is why it is recommended to work between two pieces of baking paper – the end results are delicious and are worth all the fiddliness.

for the dough 

1½ cups/130g almond meal (1 cup whole almonds ground in a blender)

1 cup/120g white spelt flour

tsp fine rock salt

¼ cup/60ml olive oil

2 heaped Tbsp brown sugar/coconut sugar

¼ cup/60ml freshly squeezed orange juice

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

for the fig paste 

9 medium/180g dried soft figs

½ packed cup/80g dried sultanas/raisins

orange zest of 1 orange

½ tsp cinnamon powder

¼ cup/60ml fresh orange juice

sesame seeds for garnishing

preparation 

1.  Set the oven to 180C/360F.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

prepare the dough 

2.  Place in a medium bowl the almond meal, flour and salt, then whisk together. Set aside.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk the oil and sugar for 1 minute, then add the fresh orange juice, baking powder and baking soda – whisk until combined, it will billow up and turn into the most gorgeous, soft, golden colour.

3.  Slowly add to the flour and almond meal mixture, then gently combine.  The dough should be quite moist and soft. Cover and refrigerate while making the fig paste.

prepare the fig paste 

4.  Remove and discard the hard stems from the figs, chop in half, then place into a food processor, along with the sultanas, and orange zest, process until the figs are nicely broken up.

5.  Add cinnamon powder and pour in the orange juice – process until it forms a thick, sticky paste and starts to come to together.  Cover and set aside.

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to assemble 

6.  Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a piece of baking paper.  Place another piece of baking paper on top and roll out the dough into a rectangle just under ¼-inch thickness, approximately 15-x 9-inches. (It is fine for the dough to be longer than 15-inches but makes sure it is no wider than 9 – 10 inches.)  To make a neat rectangle, trim off any excess dough around the sides and press it into the corners which need more shaping.

7.  Spoon the fig filling over the dough and spread evenly, making sure it comes all the way to the edges.

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8.  Use the baking paper to gently roll the long side of the dough around the filling, so that it forms a neat log. Leave the seam side down as the weight of the roll seals the edge.

9.  Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds and use the outer edges of the baking paper to help press the seeds into the top of the roll and the sides, pressing any seeds which have fallen down.  The contrast between the dough and fig paste will be more pronounced after baking.

10. Place the log in the freezer for 20 minutes – this will make it firmer for easier cutting.

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11.  With a sharp knife, slice into 2 cm thick pieces, wiping the knife after each cut. If wanting more of a perfectly round shape, rotate the roll after several cuts, then give them a gentle squeeze to reshape them into rounds on the tray.

12.  Carefully transfer them to the baking tray, laying them flat, with the spiral of the fig paste facing up.

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13.  Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking and bake until golden in colour, remove from the oven.  Delicious eaten warm, or later that same day, or the next.

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Goodness shared from Stacey

making hummus in India

24th November 2009

Now I know I promised some delicious Indian dishes when I was in India, but during my stay, I enjoyed someone else making them, rather than me cooking them.  My dear friend Mary, had organised a wonderful Indian lady with a huge smile to cook lunch for us.   We were quite a big group of  6 hungry adults and 4 hungry, very appreciative children.  Each day there was a new dish, more delicious than the next.  Each day there was a soupy dal, rice, two types of vegetable palya (a dry vegetable dish)and either chapati or rice rotti.  The chapati went very well with the hummus.

When packing for India, I packed a very big jar of tahini for the purpose of experimenting with a hummus recipe that was given to me by a few very important experts in this field (thank-you Noa and Tal).  Also, it is one way that I know the children will get a good dose of protein while we are in Mysore, in the South of India.

There are a few secrets to this recipe; one being the addition of bicarbonate of soda for a softer chickpea, good quality traditional tahini, the addition of lightly toasted & ground cumin seeds, and the addition of the ice water to create an aerated, creamy hummus.

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hummus

Makes about 2½ cups

ingredients

1¼ cup dried chickpeas

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ cup good quality tahini

salt to taste

juice from ½ lemon, approximately 2 Tbsp, plus more if needed

½ cup ice water

¼ tsp hot paprika

pre-soak 

1.  Soak the chickpeas and bicarb of soda overnight with double their volume in water. Drain, rinse and place in a large pot, and generously cover with water, bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that comes to the surface.

2.  Simmer until the chickpeas are soft, about 2 – 3 hours depending on the brand and freshness of your chickpeas. You will need to add more water as they simmer.  Once done, the chickpeas should be quite soft but not mushy – drain and set aside.

prepare the hummus 

3.  Dry roast the cumin seeds in a small pan, when lightly toasted, turn off the heat and grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle.

4.  Measure out 2 cups chickpeas/350g (any remaining chickpeas can be used as garnish) and place in a food processor attached with an S-blade, run the machine, stopping and scraping down the sides occasionally until the beans are crumbly.

5.  Pour in tahini, add ground cumin, lemon juice, salt, and blend again until well combined.  With the machine still running, start drizzling in the ice water, so that the hummus starts to become fluffy and aerated. Depending on the beans you may not use all the water, or you may need more.

6.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes, taste, and adjust to your own personal taste by adding more tahini, lemon, or salt.

7.  To serve, spread the hummus in a shallow bowl, drizzle with olive oil, more lemon juice, and a sprinkling of hot paprika. You could also garnish with toasted black sesame seeds or an assortment of sprouts.

Serve with freshly made chapati or pita bread.

Lately, I have been sautéing on very high heat – red bell peppers, or tiny cauliflower florets or eggplant cubes until slightly charred. Make a well in the center of the hummus with the back of a spoon and filling it with the vegetables of choice.

Shared goodness from Stacey

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