Category Archives: Nuts
Happy New Year Everyone! January has a lot going for it, I feel. When better to shake off a few dusty routines and habits than after a few weeks of glorious indulgence. I have always liked a fresh start – bring on the resolutions. Never mind if they fizzle or fade, a positive intention is still a wonderful thing. So much as I delight in the fairy lights and tinsel, I always feel happy to pack them away, dust off the cobwebs of the old year and move forward. And a delicious healthy regime is a great way to start – here are some of my favourite vitamin rich foods to celebrate the New Year.
I like to add a few sprigs of mint to my green tea. And a beautiful mug makes it even nicer – this one is a hand made Christmas gift by our talented (eldest) girl! And to go with the tea, how about a few nuts and seeds, dried berries and some squares of inky dark chocolate?
Hmm, what else? A dish of simply steamed Scottish salmon, with a little lemon and pepper. But surely this is still indulgence isn’t it? Especially with a drizzle of this magnificent, jewel green pistachio oil. I bought this bottle in France a few weeks ago. Such a rich, deep roasted nutty flavour.
A few slices of beetroot – more colour, more vibrancy, more flavour…
So that’s the view from my kitchen worktop this week.
As for other new plans and projects this year, well I have been busy and have made a good start. My new studio in the garden – a lovely Scandinavian log cabin – is all built and ready. I’m still working on the finishing touches, a bit of painting and organising all my props and stuff. Of those there are lots – it’s quite a task! I’ll make some photos of the studio in a week or so and post them soon.
What plans do you have for the New year? Drop me a comment if you like – I’d love to hear!
Oh – I forgot the avocado! x
Blossom! All the trees around here are starting to burst into joyful exuberant bloom and I just love it. Nothing evokes springtime, optimism and bright beginnings quite as well as nature cloaked in a mass of petals. The tulips, daffodils and other bulbs are all lovely, but for me, it’s the blossom that really gives life a lift. So beautiful, these delicate petals and colours, and so fleeting too. You just have to stop and enjoy them as they last. So, blessed with some gentle sunshine this week, we are taking our aperitifs to the garden!
If you are like me, you’ll enjoy a little savoury treat with your drink. And these little cheesy, nutty biscuits are just the thing. The problem is only that they are so tasty and moreish (that’s a word from my childhood!) that it’s hard to stop from eating too many. Never mind, I have a robust appetite and it’s not readily ruined. These biscuits are quick and simple to make, and you can even prepare the dough in advance, shape it into a cylinder and freeze it. Then when you wish to bake the sables, just allow it to barely defrost so you can slice the little rounds and bake.
In this recipe I used a strong, sharp cheddar and pecan nuts. But like most things I cook, it’s all variable! Try a version with gruyere or blue cheese and walnuts, or parmesan and sesame, poppy, caraway, onion seeds, paprika…
I wish it weren’t so, but we tend to hibernate a bit during the winter months in England. I feel much more inclined to socialise and entertain when the sun is shining. Living most of my life in sunny climates, I never noticed this – it’s one of those things that we are aware of with the distinct seasons we have in England. So here’s to Spring, Summer to come, warmer weather, friends and fun.
As always, thanks for visiting and please do leave me a comment if you wish. I love to get the links to your sites and blogs too. Or keep in touch on twitter!
More soon. P.
After my wonderful visit to the Irish Embassy last week – see last post – I felt inspired to do something with the lovely big bag of Irish oats that I brought home with me. What to make? For me it’s too hot for porridge at the moment – I’ll save that pleasure for the chilly mornings of Autumn. But it’s the perfect time for picnics and we always love snacks to take out on our travels. So I decided to make a big, crunchy slab of granola to break into bars just for that purpose. With summer camps and day trips galore on the menu, these delicious little bars provide a healthy boost of energy.
I’m crazy about nuts and seeds – I like nutty things to be really nutty, not just a scanty hint. That’s the great thing about creating your own food, you get to make it just how you like it! So my granola bars are a luxurious mix of oats, and nuts and seeds, blended together in a syrup of butter, brown sugar and honey and perfumed with vanilla. I try to go easy on the butter and sugar in the recipe so that I can feel pious in my indulgence. Is that possible?
Very Nutty Granola Bars
Like most of my recipes, this one is pliable. There is much latitude to vary the ingredients and make the bars just as you like them. You can use any nuts or seeds that you like. Or just seeds. Or add some dried fruit, sometimes I do that too. Even the grains/flakes can vary – you can just use oats, or mix with wheat, rice, barley…I found a bag of mixed grain porridge recently and I like to add this to the oats.
Here is my recipe as a basic guide.
150g light brown or golden caster sugar
150g of golden syrup or honey (or a combination of the two)
100g peanut butter, I use whole, crunchy type
350g of oat and/or other grain flakes
125g seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp, all good (your choice)
125g nuts, chopped – pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, all good as above
one teaspoon of vanilla essence
Heat oven to 180 centigrade and line a shallow baking pan (about 30x45cm) with baking paper.
In a large heavy pan, melt together the butter with the sugar and syrup and/or honey. When the sugar is dissolved, blend in the peanut butter. Remove from the heat and add all the dry ingredients and mix it all up well, along with the teaspoon of vanilla.
Turn the mixture out onto the baking sheet and press it out evenly. I cover it all with another sheet of baking paper and use my hands to press in evenly into the pan. (Then take the top sheet off before baking.) This makes it easier to cut into bars later.
Bake for about 20 to 2 minutes until golden brown all over. Allow to cool in the pan. Then cut into bars or squares as you wish.
Lovely with a bowl of hot chocolate or cafe au lait!