oranges

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

citrus coconut cupcakes (vegan)

20th March 2016

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When we lived in Israel, we were very fortunate to be surrounded by citrus orchards, and now here in Portugal, we have our own line of orange and lemon trees that extends down the driveway.  Each Winter, the trees are abundant and I am struggling to make use of all those oranges.  I managed to boil and freeze a dozen for this recipe, and twice-weekly, I fill a basket full to last us through with freshly squeezed juices in the mornings.  I peel and chop bowls full, to offer to class after yoga practice.  I have also been making big pots of marmalade jam to last us through the year.  Scooping it up and serving it on home-made bread to warm and brighten these damply, chilly days.  But still, so many end up on the ground.

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~ orange blossoms

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citrus coconut cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes (I use these sized baking cups.)

Recipe adapted from Amy Chaplin’s – ‘At Home in the Wholefood Kitchen’.

Deliciously flavoured orange vegan cupcakes.  The boiled whole orange then blended with the wet ingredients, gives these cupcakes a clean, vibrant and refreshing flavour.  The coconut gives them a crusty outside and moist, light crumb inside.  I love to serve them with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt drizzled with honey for a sweeter cake. 

I have also made this as a cake and drizzled it lavishly with a vegan lemon-zested frosting – recipe below. Or for a more festive occasion this pomegranate jewel cake.

ingredients

1¾ cups/215g whole-spelt flour

1½ tsp aluminium-free baking powder

¾ tsp  baking soda

1¼ cups/100g, dried unsweetened, shredded coconut – divided

1 medium navel/Valencia orange, boiled

1 cup/280g maple syrup (replace with 1 cup/180g brown sugar plus 1 cup/245g almond milk)

¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp/50g extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

½ tsp rock salt

1 Tbsp vanilla essence

strips of lemon & orange zest to garnish, optional

boil the orange

1.  Place a whole orange in a medium pot, cover with water, then bring to boil over high heat, cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 – 50 minutes or until soft.  Remove from heat, drain, and set aside to cool.

You can also boil a few oranges in advance and freeze them for up to three months.

make the cupcakes

2.  Preheat oven to 180C/350F.  Line a muffin tray with 12 paper liners and set aside.

3.  Grind ¾ cup coconut in a food processor for 1 minute.

4.  Add the whole-spelt flour, baking powder and soda to the food processor, and blend to combine, transfer to a medium bowl and add the remaining dried coconut.  Set aside.

5.  Cut the boiled orange into quarters, remove any seeds, and cut each piece in half, then place in a food processor, add the maple syrup, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and vanilla – blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

6. Pour into the flour mixture, and use a spatula to stir until just combined; do not overmix.

7.  Distribute batter among lined muffin tray, filling them almost to the top.

8.  Place in oven, bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set aside to cool for a few minutes in the tray, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with thick Greek yoghurt, coconut cream, drizzled with honey and garnish with strips of citrus zest or cover with lemon zested frosting.

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lemon-zested vegan frosting

ingredients

1 x 400ml unsweetened full-fat coconut milk

3 Tbsp agar flakes

6 Tbsp maple syrup

⅛ tsp turmeric powder

pinch rock salt

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp lime juice

3 Tbsp orange  juice

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

preparation

1.  Add coconut milk, agar flakes, maple syrup, turmeric and salt to a medium saucepan; whisk to combine. Bring to boil over high heat, whisking every minute or so. Cover and reduce heat to low – simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes or until agar is completely dissolved.

2.  Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon, lime and orange juices. Pour into a wide bowl; once mixture stops steaming place it in the fridge until completely hard, about 1 hour.

3.  Remove from fridge, and cut the frosting into chunks. Place in a food processor and add the vanilla.  Blend until completely smooth,  scraping down the sides as necessary. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use; it will continue to thicken as it cools.

Goodness shared from Stacey

orange marmalade jam

6th February 2012

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There is an orange tree that sits right on the edge of the vegetable garden. In Spring, the citrus trees are in full bloom and two of the triangles are carpeted with their snowy, white blossoms.  The air is sweet, pungent and glorious.  It’s scent follows you around wherever you go. In Summer, the blossoms are replaced with round, green balls of fruit and in Autumn, the fruit starts to blush a soft yellow.  And by the start of Winter, the two triangles in the vegetable garden are carpeted with oranges that fall ripe and ready from the tree.  This year these oranges are small.  It was a long, hot, dry Summer and this poor little tree suffered. I did find some bigger ones though and their juice is sweet.  Perfect for a sticky, orange marmalade jam with a taste of sun on toast.

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orange marmalade jam

Makes 4 jars

ingredients 

1 kg juicy oranges – approx 5 large oranges

1 lemon

500g light brown sugar

preparation 

1.  Using a small, sharp kitchen knife, cut the oranges and lemon in half, then in half again so that you have quarters.  Scoop out as many seeds as you can and thinly slice each quarter into fine shreds and small pieces (or thicker slices if you like a chunkier texture).

2.  Place the oranges, lemon shreds and sugar into a heavy-bottomed pan, bring to boil, cover, then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily – simmer, covered for 3 hours until the peel is soft.  In intervals, lift the lid and scoop off any seeds you may have missed that have floated to the surface and stir.

3.  Ladle into sterilised pots and seal.  Freeze the jars and defrost as needed.  Because of the low sugar content, the jam needs to be kept in the fridge.

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Goodness shared from Stacey

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