17 June 2015

Mint, rum and lime marinated mango with coconut yoghurt and lime shortbread






Ingredients:

For the shortbread:

85g soft salted butter
60g caster sugar
60g ground almonds
100g rice flour
Zest of 1 lime
1 egg yolk

For the mango:

1 large ripe mango
Juice of 1/2 lime
Large handful of mint
2tsp caster sugar
2tsp dark rum
1 passionfruit

Coconut vanilla yoghurt


Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. (fan)

Cream together the soft butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add in the ground almonds, rice flour and lime zest and mix well. Add in the egg yolk and mix until everything is combined and you have a soft dough. Tip the dough out onto a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Using a rolling pin, carefully flatten out the mixture until you have a rough rectangle, about 1.5cm thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the biscuit dough into about 20 even-sized rectangles.


Lay the biscuits onto baking paper on a baking tray and then bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Then remove from the oven and allow to cool and firm up slightly.

Whilst the biscuits are baking, peel and chop the mango into thin slices. Add the mango to a mixing bowl along with the lime juice, caster sugar, rum and the seeds and pulp from the passionfruit. Finely chop the fresh mint and add this to the bowl. Mix well and then leave it to marinade for 10-15 minutes.



When you are ready to assemble, layer the mango mixture into the bottom of small trifle glasses. Top with a layer of coconut yoghurt (I used vanilla Coyo) and then repeat the layers until you have used up all the mixture. Top with an extra sprig of mint and serve with the lime shortbread.





14 June 2015

Grilled za'atar apricots with feta and pistachios




I'm finally back in the UK after my year in Madrid. It's a strange feeling- leaving the midst of summer there and 35 degree heat, open terraces and sunbathing in the parks, to return to the still spring-like English countryside, wide open fields that stretch for miles and a timetable where bed time means 10pm!
I'm going to miss Madrid hugely. I've fallen in love with the city over the last 10 months and know that one day I'll be back. It's a really great place to live. There's always something new going on in the foodie world over there and you can't help but feel in a good mood when you wake up to strong coffee, beautiful bright sunshine and Spanish red wine. 
It's taught me a lot about how I am, the people around me and how to learn to live and be comfortable in my own skin, finding the confidence to live in a world where you adapt to new cultures, new languages and new favourite places. 
And I've been lucky enough to meet beautiful people from all over the world with whom to discover Madrid's hidden secrets. 
In a week's time, I'm going back there with some of my oldest friends from home and I told them I'd show them around my favourite places- but the truth is, it's just too hard to pick!! Everywhere in Madrid has such charm. I've been meaning to let you in on my Madrid foodie secrets all year but just have't found chance to capture them all- when I return I'm going to pick out my all time favourites for you and let you in on the best places to wine and dine in the city!!

However, being back in the UK does mean that I'm finally back in a proper kitchen. I've had so little time over the last few months to cook and experiment with that I've lost a little inspiration in the kitchen and suffered my own kind of writers block. But returning home to a proper kitchen, the summer vegetable patch in full swing and more free time, means I've got lots of new ideas coming your way. Starting with this fresh summer salad, using the first of our homegrown giant spinach leaves and peppery watercress and tossed with salty feta, toasted almonds, a sweet honey dressing, and tangy za'atar grilled apricots. This would be a great accompaniment for a BBQ, especially if you can grill the apricots on the bbq to give them a slightly charred, caramelised exterior. 



Ingredients:

4-5 apricots
1tsp heaped za'atar
2tsp honey
1tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 packet of feta cheese
Large handful of pistachios
Flaked almonds
3-4 small Radishes

Spinach
Watercress
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method:

 De-stone and halve the apricots. Add them to a large mixing bowl with the za'atar, honey, olive oil and a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Mix well until the apricots are properly coated.


Put a grill pan on a high heat. Let the pan get really hot (do not add any oil) and then carefully add the apricots. Grill them on each side for 2-3 minutes until they begin to caramelise. You may want to do them in batches so that you can watch them and turn them evenly. 


Chop up the feta and pistachios and thinly slice the radishes. Put another frying pan over a medium heat and add a large handful of flaked almonds. Toast the almonds for 3-4 minutes until lightly golden and then remove from the heat. (Watch these as they will burn very quickly!! )

Wash your salad leaves (I used spinach and watercress but you can use any mixture you fancy). Add the salad leaves to the mixing bowl which contained the apricots and coat the leaves in the remaining marinade along with another tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Then add in the grilled apricots, feta, pistachios and radishes. Toss all the ingredients together and then sprinkle over the flaked almonds. 

Serve immediately.