Home-Made Toasted Muesli / Granola

Toasted Muesli / Granola | Gather and Graze

My fellow food bloggers are a constant source of inspiration to me… both in food and life in general. They really are a wonderful bunch of people who I consider my friends, even though we’ve never met in person. I set aside many recipes that they’ve created… for sometime down the track when time permits, or when the occasion or season is right. My ever-growing list is slightly bewildering with the sheer number of entries, but somewhat comforting in the fact that I know there will always be inspirational recipes to be found when I need them.  Now and then, I see a recipe that I feel compelled to make that exact same day after reading it… often from pure excitement and the anticipation of tasting the wonderful new dish!

So, recently when I came across a fabulous post for Nutty Spiced Apple Granola on Trixie Pin’s ‘Almonds are Mercurial’ blog, I knew immediately that it was high time I too started making my own granola… or toasted muesli (as is oft called in this part of the world). I made up a batch that very same day! A few adaptations were made, due to the ingredients that I already had on hand in the pantry and also to personal preferences and whims… though this is exactly the sort of recipe I would expect people to adapt constantly… keeping it interesting.

HOME-MADE TOASTED MUESLI/GRANOLA | Gather and Graze

  • 400g / 4 Cups Rolled Oats (or a mixture of oats/bran/barley/wheat etc.)
  • 150g / ¾ Cup Raw Macadamia Nuts (Chopped Roughly)
  • 150g / ¾ Cup Raw Almonds (Chopped Roughly)
  • 100g / ½ Cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 1½ Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • ¼ Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 100g / ⅓ Cup Honey
  • 80g / ⅓ Cup Brown Sugar
  • 200g / 1 Cup Apple Puree*
  • 2 Tablespoons Sunflower Oil
  • 75g / ½ Cup Dried Apple (Chopped fairly small)
  • 100g / ½ Cup Dried Peach (Chopped fairly small)

Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and set aside 2 large baking trays.

In a large mixing bowl, place the oats, chopped nuts, seeds and spices. Stir to combine.

In a small saucepan, mix together the honey, brown sugar, oil and apple puree. Stir over low/medium heat until the brown sugar has dissolved. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to coat the oats and nuts well.

Spread this mixture out evenly over 2 large baking sheets and place into the oven for approximately 30-35 minutes (giving it a stir every 10 minutes to make sure that the oats and nuts don’t brown too quickly… or burn). Note that the mixture will still be soft when you remove it from the oven.

Allow the mixture to cool (and dry) completely, before tossing through the chopped dried fruit and placing into an airtight container.

Toasted Muesli / Granola | Gather and Graze

Notes on Cooking:

  • I made my own 1 cup of puree using 3 Medium Apples, though feel free to substitute other types of fruit puree for a different taste… pear would work really well too.
  • The variations for substituting grains, nuts, seeds and fruit are endless – be adventurous!

Lavender White Chocolate Shortbread

Lavender White Chocolate Shortbread | Gather and Graze

To celebrate the first day of Spring here in the Southern Hemisphere… I’ve created a little floral-infused shortbread recipe to get the season off to a happy start.

The addition of lavender to these buttery, yet light little biscuits may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for me… you could always omit the flowers if you’d prefer, or substitute for perhaps some chopped nuts, some citrus zest or another flavour of your choice.

Here’s to a warm and wonderful Spring and a farewell to winter for another year.

Lavender White Chocolate Shortbread | Gather and Graze

Lavender White Chocolate Shortbread | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 30 Biscuits/Cookies
  • Print

  • 125g/½ Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 60g/½ Cup Pure Icing Sugar (Powdered Sugar)
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste (or 1 Teapoon Vanilla Extract)
  • 45g/⅓ Cup Cornflour
  • 120g/¾ Cup Plain Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon edible Dried Lavender Flowers
  • 75g Chopped White Chocolate

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer, cream together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste for a minute or two until smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together the cornflour, plain flour, baking powder and salt.  Pour in half of this mixture to the creamed butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Now stir in the lavender and white chocolate, before adding the rest of the flour and mixing until all combined.

Roll mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place on the baking sheets. Flatten slightly on top. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes (removing while they are still quite pale in colour).

Allow to cool for a few minutes on the trays, before placing on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Lavender White Chocolate Shortbread | Gather and Graze

Swedish Spice Cake (Mjuk Pepparkaka)

Swedish Spice Cake (Mjuk Pepparkaka) | Gather and Graze

I’ve not spent much time at all in the kitchen over the past couple of weeks… my thoughts, mind and heart have been elsewhere.

My head and heart both know though, that cooking is therapy for me, just as running, swimming, surfing or tennis will be for others. Whisking, sifting and stirring all create a welcome distraction… and within moments, the scent of softly spiced cake emanating from the oven is in the air… comforting, warm and soothing.

Swedish Spice Cake (Mjuk Pepparkaka) | Gather and Graze

  • 100g/⅓ Cup + 1 Tblespn Unsalted Butter
  • 180g/1 Packed Cup Brown (or Raw) Sugar
  • 2 Free-Range Eggs
  • 200ml/¾ Cup + 1 Tblespn Sour Cream
  • 190g/1¼ Cups Plain Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 1½ Teaspoons Ground Cloves
  • Pinch of Salt

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a (22cm x 13cm) loaf pan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar. Add the sour cream and then the cooled melted butter and continue to whisk until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. In 2 lots, add this to the wet ingredients, stirring between each addition until just combined.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes, until a cake tester (or toothpick) comes out clean when tested in the middle. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, before removing the cake from the pan to a cooling rack.

This cake is lovely as is, or with a little butter slathered over each slice with a good cup of tea.

My lovely Swedish friend Helena made a version of this Spice Cake to serve for morning tea not so long ago and it inspired me to do a little research of my own on ‘Mjuk Pepparkaka’, which has resulted in this adaptation… a little darker in colour than Helena’s perhaps due to the brown sugar. ‘Mjuk Pepparkaka’ translates literally to ‘Soft Gingerbread’.

A Little Slice of Australia… for FF#28!

We have such unique and varied wildlife here in Australia, so this week for a change I thought I’d share a few photos at Fiesta Friday instead. These were all taken either within our own garden or while camping/holidaying not too far from home.

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo | Gather and GrazeSulphur-Crested Cockatoo – intelligent… animated… raucous!

 

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo | Gather and GrazeSulphur-Crested Cockatoo – so beautiful in flight

 

Brush-Tail Possums | Gather and GrazeBrush-Tail Possums at night – mother and child (who really looks a little too old to be hitching a ride with Mum!)

 

Kookaburra | Gather and GrazeKookaburra – renowned for their incredible laugh

 

Echidna | Gather and GrazeEchidna – our amazing monotreme (egg laying mammal)!

 

Koala | Gather and GrazeKoala – looking a little sleepy as usual

 

Magpie | Gather and GrazeMagpie – notorious for their aggressive swooping ability in the spring

 

Kangaroo | Gather and GrazeKangaroo – ahhh, need I say more…

 

Kangaroo with Joey | Gather and GrazeKangaroo with a Joey in her pouch

 

Kangaroo | Gather and GrazeKangaroo

Please come along and join us at Fiesta Friday #28 this week. The fabulous Saucy Gander and I have been invited back for an encore performance of co-hosting (despite due to our ridiculously glamourous Dame Edna get-up from last week).

Angie @ The Novice Gardener, who is the brainchild behind this ever-growing, dynamic online party, deserves both gratitude and admiration from us all for the effort that goes into hosting FF each and every week. I don’t know how she does it… I’m exhausted after just co-hosting for 1 week! You’re amazing Angie! Thank you for all that you do!

So to join in the fun, link your post by clicking on the colourful logo here below. Within your post, please remember to link to the FF#28 posts of ‘The Novice Gardener’, as well as to Saucy and myself (to notify us of your arrival at the party). If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, the guidelines can be perused here… Such a lot of fun and inspiration, bringing together bloggers from around the world and providing the opportunity for your post to shine and be seen.

Happy Fiesta Friday to all and a fabulous weekend!

Layered Chocolate Cheesecake – Fiesta Friday #27!

Layered Chocolate Cheesecake | Gather and Graze

It wasn’t easy, but I’ve removed my full-length Ugg Boots that have been firmly entrenched on my feet for the past two months and they’ve been replaced by a rather stylish set of heels. My Dame Edna frock has been donned, hair coiffed and coloured to the most beautiful lilac you’ve ever seen and my face made glamorous by a set of fancy, bejewelled glasses! I look a little something like this…

Dame Edna Everage – “Hello Possums!”

I suspect I’m not the only one going through this (rather absurd) transformation right now… as it’s Fiesta Friday #27 and the wonderful Saucy Gander and I are coming together this week (in fancy dress) to co-host the big party! Yes, Angie, from The Novice Gardener has bravely allowed not one, but TWO Australian girls in to look after her guests and ensure that everyone has a fantastic time.

Now, as you all well know, Australians are generally renowned for their quiet natures and their reluctance to imbibe anything involving alcohol… ;) However just this once, I’ll partake in a glass (or two) of bubbly with you all and stay up late dancing and chatting until the party-goers get tired and head home!

If you’re a regular at Fiesta Friday, you’ll already know what to do (for the guidelines click here), but for those who’ve not joined the party before, you can easily click on the colourful link just below to add your post (sharing food, photos, experiences… anything at all that has inspired you this week!) Please be sure to link your post to The Novice Gardener (and to Saucy and myself) so that we know when you’ve arrived… then head on over to Fiesta Friday #27 to mix and mingle with all the other friendly folk who have also joined the party!

This really is a great way to gain exposure for your blog and all the hard work that you do. It’s also wonderful how friendships are formed and strengthened with other bloggers through this Fiesta… something truly lovely about getting to know others around the world who share a similar passion for both food and life!

Saucy and I will be around to say hi and to top up your drinks very soon. Cheers, everyone!

This week I’ve decided to bring a little something sweet for dessert… so please grab a plate and a fork and dig in to a slice of my Chocolate on Chocolate Cheesecake. A word of warning – it’s not at all for the faint hearted! :)

Layered Chocolate Cheesecake | Gather and Graze

  • 250g Plain Chocolate Biscuits (I used Arnotts Chocolate Ripple)
  • 100g Finely Chopped Almonds (or nuts of your choice)
  • 125g/½ Cup Unsalted Butter (Melted)
  • 200g/1 Cup Milk Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 200g/1 Cup White Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 2 Gelatine Leaves (I used ‘Gold Strength’ which are 2g each)*
  • 300ml Heavy Cream
  • 500g Cream Cheese (Softened)
  • 80g/⅓ Cup Caster Sugar

Grease a 23cm Springform Cake Tin and line the base with parchment paper.

Blitz the chocolate biscuits in a food processor until fine crumbs, then add the chopped nuts and melted butter and stir until the crumbs are well moistened. Tip the mixture into the cake tin and spread evenly to cover the base and half-way up the sides. Set aside in the fridge until required.

Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl with cold water and allow to soften for about 5 minutes.

While the gelatine is softening, place the cream into a small saucepan and heat until it almost reaches the boil. Remove from the heat and stir through the softened gelatine leaves until they have completely dissolved. Set to one side to cool a little.

In two separate small mixing bowls, place the milk chocolate and white chocolate and melt each carefully in the microwave (or over a double-boiler if you prefer – being careful not to allow any water to mix with the chocolate).

In the food processor (or electric mixer) place the softened cream cheese and process/beat until smooth. Add in the sugar and process once again until well combined, before finally adding the cream/gelatine mixture and giving a quick whizz/beat to incorporate.

Stir in half of the cream cheese mixture into the melted milk chocolate and the other half into the melted white chocolate. Stir to combine.

Spread the white chocolate mixture to create an even layer on top of the chocolate biscuit base and place into the freezer for about 10 minutes. Then add the milk chocolate mixture, spreading evenly to create the top layer. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4-6 hours before removing from the tin and serving.

Fresh berries (particularly raspberries) go perfectly with this luxurious chocolate cheesecake

Layered Chocolate Cheesecake | Gather and Graze

 Cooking Notes

  • Feel free to use powdered gelatine in place of the gelatine leaves. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of gelatine over ¼ Cup of cold water and then stir into the cream, before adding to the cream cheese mixture.

* Adapted from a cake seen on ‘My Kitchen Rules’

Viennese Biscuits

Viennese Biscuits | Gather and Graze

Sometimes life throws a little curve ball at you and knocks you down for a week or two. It was the flu that knocked me down just recently and as much as I’m finally back to at least feeling human again, the lingering cough is still proving hard to shake.

So after a lengthy period of completely healthful hot soups, tisanes and the like, I was ready yesterday to treat myself… with some biscuits that not only taste lovely, but are pretty to the eye as well. The recipe found while rustling through an old ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ Biscuit Cookbook. Forgive me for not posting recipes for soups and flu-kicking hot honey and lemon drinks, but to be honest, I’m a little over them all right now… perhaps some other time!

Viennese Biscuits | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 35-40 Small Biscuits
  • Print

  • 120g/½ Cup Unsalted Butter (Softened)
  • 50g/Scant ½ Cup Icing (Powdered) Sugar
  • ¼ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Finely Grated Lemon Zest
  • 1 Free-Range Egg (Lightly Beaten)
  • 150g/1 Cup Plain Flour (Sifted)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 100g Dark Chocolate (Melted)
  • Glacé Cherries (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer, beat together the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the lightly beaten egg, being sure to mix well after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt, mixing until combined.

Scoop the mixture into a piping bag, fitted with a 1cm star tip nozzle. Pipe 6-8cm lengths onto the baking trays, allowing space between each for spreading. I also piped a number of small rosettes onto the 2nd tray, topping each with half a glacé cherry. Bake for about 7-10 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool completely before dipping one end of the biscuit fingers into melted chocolate. Place onto a piece of parchment paper, until the chocolate has set. Enjoy!

Viennese Biscuits | Gather and Graze

* Recipe from a ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ Biscuit Cookbook

Fatteh Bil Lahme (Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt)

Fatteh Bil Lahme (Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt | Gather and Graze

Slow-cooked Lamb Shanks are one of the ultimate winter comfort foods, in my opinion. I’ve cooked them a number of ways over the years and enjoyed each and every one of them, but today it was a Middle-Eastern flavour I was craving, so decided to improvise and adapt on a range of recipes in a beloved cookbook of mine –  Claudia Roden’s ‘Arabesque’.

‘Fatteh’ / ‘Fatta’ is a general name for a range of dishes that have a layer of toasted flat-bread soaked in stock/sauce at the bottom and a layer of yoghurt on the top. Claudia gives a couple of versions in her book – one with poached chicken and another with stuffed eggplants. All well and good, but surely no match for melt-in-the-mouth lamb shanks!

This is by no means a mid-week, speedily-cooked dinner. It requires a long lazy weekend afternoon of hanging out in the kitchen… though there’s plenty of time once the shanks are on cooking, to read the paper or play boardgames with the kids.

I can’t stress enough how delightful this dish was to sit down to on a winter’s night, though please read my cooking notes at the end of this post for one final little thought…

Fatteh Bil Lahme/Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt | Gather and Graze

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion (Thickly Sliced)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (Chopped)
  • 4-6 Free-Range Lamb Shanks
  • 2 x 400g Tins Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Allspice
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses
  • 250g/1 Cup Natural Yoghurt
  • 2 Teaspoon(s) Crushed Dried Mint
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (Crushed)
  • 3 Thin Lebanese/Pitta Breads
  • 1 x 400g Tin Chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • Handful of Fresh Mint (Chopped)
  • 40g/4 Tablespoons Pine Nuts

In a large Dutch Oven (or a large deep saucepan with lid), cook the onion over medium heat in the olive oil (with a little salt) until softened. Add the chopped garlic and continue to cook for a minute or two more. Place the lamb shanks into the pot and brown slightly on all sides, before adding the tomatoes, spices, salt and pepper, pomegranate molasses and enough boiling water to just cover the shanks. Cover and simmer for approximately 2 – 2½ hours, until the lamb is practically falling off the bone. Take the lamb shanks from the pan and remove all meat from the bones.

While the lamb is braising, mix together the yoghurt, crushed garlic and dried mint with a pinch of salt and set it aside for later. It is best if this is at room temperature when you are ready to serve.

Toast the lebanese/pitta breads in the oven, or under the grill until crisp and light brown.

In a large serving dish, break up the toasted bread into pieces and scatter them across the bottom of the dish.

Fatteh Bil Lahme | Gather and Graze

Spread the chickpeas over the top of the bread and then layer the shredded lamb over the top of this.

Fatteh Bil Lahme | Gather and Graze

Scoop a number of ladlefuls of the tomato/onion sauce that the lamb was cooking in to fully coat all of the ingredients beneath.

Fatteh Bil Lahme | Gather and Graze

Cover the dish with foil and place into a pre-heated 170°C oven for about 20 minutes until heated through.

While the dish is in the oven, toast the pine nuts carefully in a small frypan until golden. Set aside for the moment.

When you are ready to serve, pour the yoghurt over the top of the dish and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and fresh mint. Serve with plain basmati rice.

Fatteh Bil Lahme (Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas and Yoghurt) | Gather and Graze

Cooking Notes

  • Our family wasn’t entirely convinced that having a layer of toasted (yet now soggy) bread underneath the dish was the way to go. Next time we’ll make some homemade lebanese flatbreads and serve them on the side… perfect for mopping up all the delicious sauce! Apart from that, the dish was superb and enjoyed by all.

* Recipe from Claudia Roden’s ‘Arabesque’ Cookbook

PS. Apologies for the photos – night time shots with artificial light are not ideal, but if the photos weren’t taken at dinnertime it really wouldn’t have been looking quite so pretty by the following morning.

Polenta-Crusted Roast Potatoes

Polenta-Crusted Roast Potatoes | Gather and Graze

I’m somewhat reticent to admit it, but the side dishes I prepare to accompany our main meals are invariably a way-too-simple selection of vegetables. Boiled, steamed, fried or roasted… depending on the dish they are to supplement and how much time I have to spend on preparing them. They are sadly more of an afterthought, than a feature. Eyes glancing through the crisper drawer once the main meal is underway, to work out what will go well. More of a means for getting nutritious vegetables into our bodies each and every day, than for pure enjoyment.

So in an effort to spice up the sides, to find new and interesting textures and flavours, join me in my mission to bring a little more life to the humble carrot, bean or potato. If you have any simple twists (that don’t require additional hours of prep/cooking) that produce delicious sides, I would love to hear about (and try!) them – please feel free to add a link to your special recipe on your blog if you’ve posted already)!

This idea for coating potatoes in a light sprinkling of polenta/cornmeal worked really well for me… I loved the gritty crunchiness and flavour that the polenta imparts and imagine they could be improved on even further by the addition of some finely chopped herbs (rosemary and thyme come to mind initially). Yet another idea from the beautiful Donna Hay Cookbook, that I’ve been getting plenty of use from lately.

Polenta-Crusted Roast Potatoes | Gather and Graze

  • 500g/4 Medium Starchy Potatoes (Peeled and Quartered)
  • 40g/¼ Cup Polenta/Cornmeal
  • ½-1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

Place the potatoes into a large pot of salted water and bring to the boil. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until just tender. Drain and place back into the pot, along with the polenta, salt and olive oil and shake (or stir with a wooden spoon) to coat the potatoes. Tip onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden and crispy.

Polenta-Crusted Roast Potatoes | Gather and Graze

These crispy potatoes go beautifully alongside my Oven-Baked Italian Chicken, as can be seen in the background of this final photo.

* Recipe from Donna Hay

Self-Saucing Butterscotch Pudding

Self-Saucing Butterscotch Pudding | Gather and Graze

The air has been sweeping off the back of the Snowy Mountains. If only it would snow here, then it might all perhaps seem worthwhile. Instead the chill just eats into you, gnawing away relentlessly until you find your way back indoors. So that’s mostly where I stay… loitering in the kitchen, by the warmth of the oven. The best place to be.

I have a slight hesitation in posting this recipe, knowing that so many of the lovely people who read ‘Gather and Graze’ live in the Northern Hemisphere and are currently basking in full summer. However this is my reality… and I can only really show the winter-warming dishes that are bringing comfort to us, here and now. From my heart though, let me tell you that I’d far prefer to be grilling meat on the bbq and churning ice-cream and sorbets like the best of you! xx

Without further ado, here is a fabulous pudding that has graced our table no less than twice in the past 48 hours. It’s been adapted from a family recipe of a friend of mine. The second time I made this, I decided to reduce the amount of sugar, as well as the amount of sauce that slips through to the bottom of the pudding. Absolutely perfect for this time of year in the Antipodes!

Self-Saucing Butterscotch Pudding | Gather and Graze

  • 150g/1 Cup Self-Raising Flour (sifted)
  • 115g/½ Cup (Raw) Caster Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 125ml/½ Cup Milk
  • 60g/4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (melted)
  • 2 Tablespoons Golden Syrup
  • 15g/1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 180ml/¾ Cup Boiling Water

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease a 4 cup capacity oven-proof dish (or 4 x 1 cup dishes).

Place the flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Pour in the milk and stir briefly until no lumps can be seen.  Then add the melted butter and stir again until the batter is fully incorporated. Scrape this mixture into the oven-proof dish(es) and set aside for a moment while you prepare the sauce.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the golden syrup, butter and boiling water. Stir until the butter has completely melted. Pour this liquid over the top of the pudding batter and then place in the oven. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes (or 25-28 minutes if doing smaller individual puddings) until golden brown on top.

Serve with a generous dollop of double cream, ice-cream or custard…

Self-Saucing Butterscotch Pudding | Gather and Graze

One Fine Frittata

Pumpkin, Chorizo & Kale Frittata | Gather and Graze

Life sometimes gets in the way of blogging… just as blogging sometimes gets in the way of life. My usual weekly post got strung out to just over two weeks and it’s been haunting me that I’ve not found the time and energy to put something new out there. Cooking? I’ve been plating up dishes every single day, but to feed my hungry family… instead of my hungry blog. The depths of winter are taking their toll… short days… where it’s too dark at dinner-time to shoot any photographs. The winter solstice, but a couple of days ago… the beginnings of lightness of mind, in the knowledge that our days will only get longer from now on, until the sun beats down with warmth once again.

The blog and I both desperately needed this flavour-filled Frittata today. It warmed the soul, lifted the spirits and got those creative juices flowing once more. It’s great to be back! This Frittata makes for a super easy mid-week dinner, or a fabulous brunch/lunch for the weekend with friends.

Pumpkin, Chorizo & Kale Frittata | Gather and Graze

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Adapted slightly from a Donna Hay recipe

  • 500g/1lb Butternut Squash or Pumpkin (chopped into chunks)
  • 2 Fresh Chorizo Sausages (skins removed and torn into chunks)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • 50g/2 Loosely-Packed Cups Kale* (stems removed and torn into pieces)
  • 85g Boursin Cheese* (use Goat’s Cheese or Feta if you prefer)
  • 75g (3-4 Tablespoons) Caramelised Onion Relish*
  • 4 Free-Range Eggs
  • 125ml/½ Cup Cream

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream, along with a grinding of salt and pepper. Set aside for the moment.

Pumpkin, Chorizo & Kale Frittata | Gather and GrazeIn a medium (23cm) heavy-based, shallow frypan, place the chopped pumpkin and chorizo and toss through with the olive oil and season with a little more salt and pepper. Place into the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden.

Pumpkin, Chorizo & Kale Frittata | Gather and Graze

Pumpkin, Chorizo & Kale Frittata | Gather and Graze

Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C.

Into the frying pan, add the kale, cheese (broken into pieces) and onion relish (dolloped here and there) and stir a little to combine. Pour over the egg/cream mixture and place back into the oven for about 35-40 minutes until puffed and golden brown.

Pumpkin, Chorizo & Kale Frittata | Gather and Graze

Cooking Notes

  • I used a store-bought Caramelised Onion Relish, though if you’ve got some home-made on hand, all the better!
  • Boursin Cheese worked really well in this dish… adding an extra depth of flavour. I’m not such a fan of goat’s cheese, so this was the perfect substitution.
  • The kale was absolutely delicious, becoming slightly crispy being baked in the oven. I had been tempted to substitute for English Spinach, but so pleased that I didn’t.

 

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies | Gather and Graze

For those who I’ve managed to catch (just in the nick of time!) with their hand reaching out… hovering in guilty indecision… I ask you very kindly to leave that packet of cookies/biscuits on the supermarket shelf… step away from the cookie aisle… and gather up the ingredients listed below instead. This easy, no-fuss recipe is perfect for bringing little people (or big people who say that they can’t cook…) into the kitchen to help out with some simple measuring, stirring and scooping… I don’t care what anyone says… baking is deliciously fun! It brings people together and there’s always the bonus that your cookie jar will be well-stocked for the weekend!

With my cookie jar already filled to the brim, I’ll be looking out for something else to cook with my kids this weekend. My inspiration is sure to come from the gorgeous crowd, already starting to arrive at Fiesta Friday this week! Angie from The Novice Gardener, along with her co-hosts for this week (sue@birgerbird and prudy@Butter, Basil and Breadcumbs) are there to give a warm welcome to both visitors and fellow bloggers alike… so come along and see what everyone else has been up to this week!

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies

  • Servings: 40 small cookies
  • Print

  • 125g/½ Cup Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 160g/⅔ Cup Raw (Caster) Sugar
  • 1 Free-Range Egg
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 190g/1¼ Cups Plain Flour (sifted)
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder (sifted)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 200g/1 Cup White Chocolate (chopped)

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C. Line 2 baking trays with parchment/baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg, lemon zest and juice and continue to mix until well combined. Stir in the sifted flour, baking powder and salt and when almost combined, add the white chocolate and stir to evenly distribute.

Place teaspoonfuls of mixture onto the lined baking trays (allowing space between each cookie for them to spread) and bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden.

Note: Keep a close eye on these (particularly if baking on 2 shelves of the oven), as the bases can go from golden to burnt in the blink of an eye if you leave them for too long.

Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the tray, before transferring to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies | Gather and Graze

French Apple Frangipane Tart

French Apple Frangipane Tart | Gather and Graze

It has been said that ‘the apple does not fall far from the tree’. My love of baking (and of course eating) cakes, biscuits, desserts and sweets is shared equally by my mother. When I baked this particular dessert a couple of days ago it made me think of her. I know for sure that she would enjoy it… this classic French tart, with perhaps a spoonful of double cream on the side.

We live so many miles apart, that it’s only once or twice a year that we get to spend time together… to cook, to eat out, to indulge in delicious French tarts. Though very sweetly, she will often make the recipes that I share on the blog in the week after I’ve posted them and lets me know how they turn out. I very much hope you try this one Mum! xx

French Apple Frangipane Tart | Gather and Graze

  • Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (click here for recipe)
  • Frangipane Filling (recipe below)
  • 3-4 Apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
  • 1 Tablespoon Melted Butter

Line a 23cm (shallow) tart tin with shortcrust pastry and prick the base all over with a fork. Par-bake the shell (covered in parchment paper and filled with pie weights/rice or beans) in a 200°C oven for 10 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper and return the empty tart shell to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

Fill the tart shell with Frangipane Filling and arrange the thinly sliced apple on top, pressing slightly into the Frangipane. Brush the tops of the apple slices with melted butter, before baking at 180°C for about 35-40 minutes until the frangipane is puffed and golden.

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before placing on a serving plate. Perfect with a little double cream or ice-cream on the side.

To make the Frangipane Filling:

  • 125g Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 160g/⅔ Cup Caster Sugar
  • 2 Free-Range Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons Calvados (or Brandy)
  • 200g/2 Cups Ground Almonds

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at time, beating between each addition to thoroughly combine. Fold in the Calvados and ground almonds.

* Frangipane filling will keep for up to a week, refrigerated in an airtight container.

** This quantity of Frangipane provided enough for 2 x 23cm/9in (shallow) apples tarts.

 

Zaatar and Haloumi Man’oushe

Zaatar Haloumi Man'oushe | Gather and Graze

Yeast and Herbs! They’ve been playing on my mind a lot lately. You see, I needed to make a dish (or drink) that combined both yeast and herbs. Why? Because Angie from ‘The Novice Gardener’ (along with her co-host Catherine, from the exquisite ‘Catherine Cuisine’) suggested it… they were the ones who put down the challenge. Fiesta Friday has recently evolved to include a monthly challenge for those who are up for it… and this month (for Fiesta Friday Challenge #1), we’ve been asked to come up with something interesting (as well as of course delicious), combining these two sensational ingredients.

My initial thought was to create a Herbed Brioche, dotted with lemon myrtle (a native Australian herb) and small chunks of feta cheese. However after struggling to find brioche moulds in the local kitchen shops… and is a brioche really a brioche if not presented with a fluted base?, I decided to go with the following instead… and I’m so thrilled that I did, as this recipe for Lebanese flatbread I will use over and over again in the future. It is a delicious accompaniment to Middle-Eastern dishes that have juices or sauce that require mopping up; as well as being a perfect breakfast or lunch bread able to support fillings such as spiced lamb or chicken, or the scrumptious vegetarian haloumi and herb option given below. The homemade zaatar (recipe to be found in the notes section below) also contains both fresh and dried herbs, which make this dish incredibly moreish.

Wishing you all a happy and relaxing weekend!

Fiesta Friday Challenge | Gather and Graze

Zaatar and Haloumi Man’oushe 

(Recipe from Feast Magazine)

(Serves 6)

  • 1½ Teaspoons Dried Yeast
  • 250ml/1 Cup Lukewarm Water
  • 450g/3 Cups Plain Flour (Sifted)
  • 2 Teaspoons Caster Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (plus extra for brushing)
  • 3 Tablespoons Zaatar (see notes below)
  • 500g Haloumi (Sliced)
  • 2 Tomatoes (Sliced)
  • 1 Cup Mint Leaves
  • 3 Teaspoons Dried Chilli Flakes (Optional) 

To make the flatbreads:

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water in a medium bowl. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes, until the mixture bubbles.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture and olive oil. I find at this stage a bread and butter knife can be useful for cutting through to combine the dry and wet ingredients well. When a dough has formed, knead for about 6 minutes on a clean surface until smooth and soft. Place the ball of dough back into the bowl, cover and allow to rise for about 2 hours in a warm, draught-free spot. 

Zaatar Haloumi Man'oushe | Gather and Graze

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down and separate into 6 even pieces. Roll into smooth balls and allow to rest again on a lightly-floured baking tray covered with a clean tea-towel for about 1 hour, until slightly risen.

When ready to cook, roll out each ball of dough to a thickness of about 5mm.

Zaatar Haloumi Man'oushe

Place a frying pan over medium-high heat and brush each flatbread one at a time with a little olive oil, before placing in the pan (oil side down). Cook for about 2 minutes, before brushing the tops with a little more olive oil and flipping to cook the other side. Sprinkle the top with some zaatar and remove to a warm place while you cook the remaining flatbreads. 

Homemade Zaatar | Gather and Graze

Homemade Zaatar

When all of the breads are cooked, place a little more olive oil in the pan and fry the haloumi slices on both sides until golden brown.

Arrange the haloumi, along with the sliced tomato, mint and chilli flakes (if using) on the bread. Fold in half to serve and eat while still lovely and warm.

Zaatar Haloumi Man'oushe | Gather and Graze

Cooking Notes

To make your own Zaatar: combine the following ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Sumac
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon Finely Chopped Fresh Oregano
  • ½ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

 

Two great uses for Cumquats

Cumquats | Gather and Graze

With 78 vibrant little cumquats growing on my tree this year, I must admit to being a touch proud – my bounty is surprisingly up by 77 from last season! She is of the petite, potted variety, that until now has done little more than grow leaves and look rather sickly. This is my fault of course, for not always tending to her needs… water is usually helpful… as is a place to bask in the sun…

With one swift bite (and lots of extraordinarily fast chewing), I ruled out the idea of eating these beauties in their natural state and finally made some decisions of what to do with them. To follow are the two recipes I selected… The first is for preserving cumquats, so that during the winter months I’ll be able to chop up preserved peel for giving a boost of flavour to hearty casseroles and tagines. The second is for a really simple (microwaveable!) Cumquat Curd, that from all reports works out smoother and more delicious than any stove-top version. I’m such a big fan of lemon curd, so this seemed like the obvious choice.

I’ve also placed some excess puree from making the curd into a zip-lock bag and frozen it to use another day. Perhaps there’ll even be enough to make some little Cumquat Tarts… tart they will surely be!

Cumquats | Gather and Graze

Preserved Cumquats

(With many thanks to Darya of ‘Tortore’ for her tips and recipe!)

  • 450g Cumquats
  • 280g Sea Salt
  • Juice of 6 Lemons
  • Aromatics (optional) – herbs, spices, bay leaves… (I used some star anise in mine)

Sterilise the jars/lids you plan to use. I boiled mine in a large pot filled with water for 10 minutes.

Wash and remove the stems from all cumquats. Using a sharp knife, cut down the middle of each, but be sure not to slice all the way through.

Place a teaspoonful of sea salt in the base of each jar, and then begin stuffing a large pinch of salt into each cumquat and layer them into the jars. Sprinkle some salt between each layer (along with any aromatics you might be using) and then a final sprinkle over the top. Fill each jar with lemon juice to about 2cm from the top and seal with the lids.

Store the preserved cumquats for 48 hours at room temperature (turning the jars upside down every now and then). After 2 days place the jar(s) in the refrigerator and continue to turn upside down every day for at least 10 more days, before using.

Preserved Cumquats | Preserved Kumquats | Gather and Graze

Note: When ready to use, rinse off any excess salt and use in the same way as you would a preserved lemon.

Cumquat Curd

(Adapted from Celia’s recipe for Lemon Curd, from ‘Fig Jam and Lime Cordial)

  • 50g/3½ Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 150g/⅔ Cup Caster Sugar
  • 125ml/½ Cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 Free-Range Eggs
  • 2 Free-Range Egg Yolks
  • ⅔ Cup Cumquat Puree (see notes below)

Sterilise the jars/lids you plan to use. I boiled mine in a large pot filled with water for 10 minutes.

Place the butter, sugar and lemon juice into a large pyrex bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir well to ensure that the sugar has dissolved completely. Allow to cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until the whites and yolks are completely blended.

Pour the eggs through a sieve into the butter mixture, whisking all the while as you do. Then stir in the cumquat puree and place back in the microwave.

Microwave on high for 30 seconds, then give it a good stir. Back on high for another 30 seconds and stir again. Now microwave for 1 minute, then remove and whisk really well until you have a smooth curd-like texture. If you find it’s still too thin, place it back in the microwave for another 20-30 seconds and whisk again.

Pour into sterilised jars and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.

Cumquat Curd | Gather and Graze

 Cooking Notes

  • Pureed Cumquats – Wash the cumquats, then slice each one in half and remove any seeds. Place fruit into a blender or food processor and whizz until pureed. This can then be easily portioned into zip-lock bags and frozen until required.

Roasted Honey and Walnut Figs

Roasted Honey & Walnut Figs | Gather and Graze

For a classic autumn dessert that embraces two stellar seasonal delicacies, this simple yet heart-warming dish is an absolute must. The lemon zest and sea salt work perfectly to create a balance with the sweet succulence of the figs and honey, while the walnuts provide textural crunch and a rich earthiness. This is not so much a recipe, but a celebration of seasonal ingredients while they’re at their peak.

On a side note, this weekend I’m planning on stripping my little cumquat tree of all it’s bright jewels. Some of you may remember that last year my tree produced only one solitary (yet perfect) cumquat. This year is another story… I have about 70-80 cumquats to contend with and once again the debate resumes in my head as to what I should do with them. Hmmm, perhaps I should spread the risk and try a few different things… who knows, we might even enjoy them this year! Preserving some in salt (as inspired by Darya, from Tortore) seems like a great way to start… ready to use in casseroles and tagines throughout the winter months. If anyone has any other thoughts or favourite uses for cumquats (or should I say Kumquats), please let me know.

For now though… back to those beautiful figs.

Roasted Honey and Walnut Figs | Gather and Graze

  • Fresh Figs (2-3 per person)
  • A Generous Scattering of Chopped Walnuts
  • A Flourish of Lemon Zest
  • A Good Honest Drizzle of Honey
  • A  Fairy-like Sprinkling of Flaked Sea Salt

Slice open the figs to reveal their gorgeous inner beauty and arrange in a baking dish, topped with all other ingredients as suggested above. Cover the dish tightly with foil and place into a 200°C oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes until roasted to perfection.

Serve with either a dollop of Greek yoghurt or some vanilla ice-cream on the side.

Roasted Honey & Walnut Figs | Gather and Graze

 Notes on Cooking

  •  Different varieties of figs may take more/less time to roast, so be sure to keep an eye on them and remove from the oven when they are roasted to your liking.

As it’s Friday, please head over to Angie’s fabulous blog The Novice Gardener to see what everyone else has been making for Fiesta Friday this week. It always makes for a great start to the weekend and the talented people who link into this ever-growing online party are such a lovely bunch to hang out with. A happy weekend to all!