Food: Whole roasted Levantine spiced rutabaga

Inspired by perusing the NOPI cookbook by Ramael Scully and Yotam Ottolenghi, I came across their recipe for ‘whole roasted celeriac’. This is my interpretation of that kind of dish using a rutabaga.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 peeled rutabaga (Swede, Swedish turnip)
  • 2tbs gram flour, sifted
  • 1tsp sumac
  • 1tsp tomato pureé
  • 1tbs Lakrids salted liquorice syrup, liquorice powder will also work
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Splash of rosewater
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Oil, for frying
  • Salt & Pepper

 

For the pistachio pickled apricots:

  • 5 apricots, halved
  • 1tbs Maille white balsamic vinegar with pistachio nut flavour
  • 1tbs cider vinegar
  • Splash of water

 

Start by placing a baking dish with a layer of flavourless oil into the oven at its hottest setting. Then, boil the rutabaga for 15 minutes in a big pan of salted water.  Whilst it’s boiling you can start making the spice crust. In a bowl combine all the ingredients until they make a sticky, aromatic paste. When the rutabaga is sufficiently boiled, take it out and pat it dry with some kitchen towel/tea towel. Now cover the vegetable in the spicy mixture. Take the baking tray out of the oven and place the covered root vegetable in the oil, so it starts sizzling. Be careful the oil doesn’t spit onto you!

Place back in the oven and turn the heat down to 180°C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes, taking it out at regular intervals to turn the rutabaga. Once it’s had its 40 minutes, take out and place a skewer through the middle, If it goes in without much resistance, then you know it’s done, if not, place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

If you’re going to make the pickled apricots, I’d do them the night before, so they have time to soak up the pickle. Simply fill up a small dish with the vinegars, place the apricot halves in and top up with a splash of water.

I’d recommend serving this with a great big bowl of fluffy couscous, the pickled apricot halves, tomato wedges and chopped coriander & walnuts.

 

Enjoy!

Food: Peaches with apricot, cardamom & lemon fraîche

Here’s a quick recipe for a dessert perfect for cooling down in the Summer sun.  The flavours also give a taste of the exotic, so even if you’re stuck at home, you can feel like you’re on holiday

Serves 2

You’ll need:

  • 4 peaches ( I used doughnut peaches as they are in season)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 shot of lemon vodka (optional)
  • 2tbs sesame seeds, toasted

Apricot fraîche:

  • 1/2 tub of vegan crème fraîche/ yogurt ( I used Oatly fraîche)
  • 2tbs icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 apricots, chopped finely
  • 1tbs ground cardamom
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

 

Start by making the fraîche. Add all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix throughly. You can either then place it in the fridge to firm or do as I did and use the freezer. It will start to create a slightly frozen texture, like a semi-freddo.

Whilst it’s in the fridge/freezer you can prep the peaches. Cut them in half and de-stone. This is usually a messy job, so I tried to keep it intact by poking the stone through the other side. once this is done, heat up a pan on a medium heat. Place the peach halves in the pan, flesh down. cook until they begin to colour. Flip and cook for a few minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over them and sprinkle them with the lemon zest. Take them out of the pan and place them into the serving bowls. This in an optional step, but I like pouring a shot of lemon vodka on them too! Take the fraîche out and dollop it on top. Finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. I’d recommend you pair it with a Tokaji wine.

Enjoy!

 

 

Food: Silk Road flapjacks

Here’s an easy flapjack recipe with a bit of an Eastern flair. Mind you, even though they are full of fruit, I wouldn’t exactly call these ‘healthy’ but they are damn tasty!

You’ll need:

  • 150g vegan butter (I used Vitalite)
  • 1 tbs agave nectar
  • 2 tbs golden syrup
  • 1 tbs good quality apricot conserve
  • 250g porridge oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 2tsp ground cinnamon
  • Zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 80g mixed dried fruit, chopped finely  ( I used dates, prunes,figs, pears, sultanas and apricots)
  • 20g crystallised ginger, chopped finely
  •  10g dried goji berries
  •  A pinch of saffron
  • 20g fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 20g pumpkin seeds
  • 10g sesame seeds
  • Handful of flaked almonds (optional)

 

Start by melting the butter in a pan, on low heat. Add in the agave, golden syrup and conserve. Stir lightly until it’s all melded into a sticky caramel mixture. This should take a couple of minutes. Then, add in the ground cinnamon, vanilla and saffron strands and let them infuse for a couple of minutes. Whilst this is cooking, preheat the oven to 150°C and grease and line a square tin. Now, it’s time to add the oats and the coconut and the salt. Fold into the caramel and add the fruit, ginger, seeds & lime zest. Stir thoroughly and tip out into the lined tin. Press with either your hands or the back of a spoon, until it’s all level. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, leave to cool for 15 then cut into squares.

(An optional thing you could do is in the last 10 minutes of cooking, take it out and sprinkle some flaked almonds on top, then simply put it back in the oven, as normal.)

Hope you enjoy these exotic energy filled treats! They’d be great served with a pot of sweet mint tea.

Food: Vegan Italian Apricot crumble

Needing to use up a few spare apricots I had in the fridge, I noticed the surplus of rosemary I also had. I ‘put two and two together’ and came up with this recipe. Easy, flavoursome, vegan and delish!

You’ll need:

  • Handful of ripe apricots ( I used  4) halved and stoned
  • 100ml water
  • A small glass of white wine
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • juice & zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 shot of ABSOLUT CITRON
  • 3 shots of Amaretto
  • Handful of  fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves, ripped
  • 20g corn flour, slaked in some lemon juice

Start by making the syrup. In a pan, add the water and sugar and stir until dissolved. Next, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, wine, vodka, amaretto and the rosemary. Cook until it reduces to a sticky syrup. It should make the kitchen smell amazing by this point. Slake the corn flour then add and stir until thickened. Now add the mint leaves and maybe a bit more rosemary. Take off the heat and add in the apricots. Put the lid on and just leave it do its thing. I made the syrup this morning, so it’s had a good few hours macerating and stewing, permeating the apricots. To loosen it slightly, and for a bit of extra naughtiness, I did add a splash more of the vodka.

When you’re ready to cook it, transfer the apricots into some pots with some of the syrup. I used some terracotta tapas dishes, to emphasise that warm, Mediterranean rustic feeling. Preheat the oven to 180°C (or just leave the oven on after making dinner, as I did.)

Now, for the amaretti style topping. To make, simply put:

50g wheat breadcrumbs into a bowl. Add in 20g of brown sugar, 20g of ground almonds, 1 shot of amaretto, some lemon zest and  1 drop  of almond extract in with the breadcrumbs. Melt a knob of vegan butter ( I used Vitalite) in either the microwave or on the hob, add and mix into the crumb mixture. Sprinkle on top of the macerated apricots and bake for 20 minutes (or so). Leave to cool slightly and serve with Vegan ice cream or Vegan cream.

Enjoy!