After my last attempt at a chia breakfast pudding, I did some experimenting to see if I could come up with a tasty recipe for a chai-spiced pot. I realised along the way that the weird taste, which I had attributed to the maca and lucuma powder in the previous iteration, was partly down to the chia seeds, which have a bit of a weird taste in themselves.
- 300ml milk, any
- 2tsp black tea
- 5 peppercorns
- 1 green cardamom pod
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1tbsp sugar, any (e.g. honey, coconut sugar, cane sugar)
- 3tbsp chia seeds
Measure your milk into a small saucepan. Halve the vanilla pod and add the seeds to the milk. Do not discard the rest of the pod.
Add the tea and whole spices. You can either put them into a tea infuser (apart from the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod) or straight into the saucepan. Put over a low heat, watching carefully so that you do not allow the liquid to boil over. As it comes to the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for two minutes to allow the spices to infuse.
If you have used an infuser, give it a squeeze to release the extra-concentrated flavours lurking within. If you haven’t used an infuser, strain.
Stir in the chia seeds and decant into a container to cool. Refrigerate overnight.
I served mine with a couple of tablespoons of speculoos butter, Greek yoghurt and pomegranate arils.
This recipe is inspired by the rainbow pie with hazelnut crust featured in Straight from the Source, the magazine made by the bulk store I frequent.
For the crust
- 1.5 cups hazelnut meal/blitzed hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 3/4 cup flour (I used ordinary plain flour, use tapioca flour to make this pie gluten-free)
- 1 egg
- 100g butter
- A good pinch of salt
For the filling
- 5 eggs
- 2tbsp milk or cream
- 3tbsp pesto (I used this recipe)
- 1 small sweet potato, diced and roasted
- 100g gruyere
- 1 small courgette
- 1 small yellow pepper
- 30g spinach/red pak choi if you can get it
- 1 red onion
Note: You may be able to see from my pictures that I followed a slightly different method. Do as I say, not as I do!
Preheat the oven to 180C
Grease a 25cm pie tin. I used a 23cm one because that’s what I have and just meant the pastry was a little thicker.
Mix together the pastry ingredients until they form into a ball. Do not over-mix.
Press into the greased pie tin and bake for ten minutes. If you haven’t already, roast your diced sweet potato at the same time.
I allowed the crust to rise above the edges of the tin deliberately- the pastry burns very easily. This way, any blackened bits can easily be trimmed off at the end.
While the crust is cooking, finely chop the onion and cook in olive oil or butter until translucent.
Chop the other vegetables.
Layer the spinach, onion, pepper, sweet potato and courgette in the crust.
Beat the eggs with the cream/milk and pesto. Fold in the diced cheese and sundried tomatoes. Pour over the vegetables in the crust.
Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the eggs are completely cooked.
I have to say that if I was going to bother to go to the effort of making a quiche again, I would be more likely to go for a quiche lorraine. But it was fun to try something new.
I picked up some dates on clearance at the supermarket. I wasn’t sure what I would do with them at the time, but at 25p a pack I snapped them up.
While looking on Pinterest for recipe ideas, this recipe caught my eye. I am a complete sucker for anything that purports to be salted caramel. While I was dubious about whether dates could ever aspire to the deliciousness of cream and sugar, I had some tahini in the fridge and decided to give it a go.
Tahini is one of those things that I find it hard to use up. I tend to buy a jar to make hummus, only to have the rest of it sitting in the fridge for the next five years, looking all separated and neglected. However, since I am attempting to reduce my plastic waste, maybe more homemade hummus is in my future, especially since I finally found a satisfactory recipe.
Anyway, here is the recipe for the bite things.
- 175g dates, pitted
- 80g tahini*
- 100g dark chocolate, at least 70%
- Sea salt
- Cocoa powder (optional)
*You can substitute any nut or seed butter of your choice for the tahini. For my second attempt at these bars, I only had 30g tahini left so I swapped out the rest for peanut butter.
Combine the tahini and stoned dates in a blender. If you are using a domestic machine, make sure to pulse for short periods of time so you don’t overload your motor! The mixture will come together into a ball. If it’s not coming together, add a little extra tahini.
Press into a container. I found this baking tray too big but I’d already oiled it so went ahead with it anyway.
Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 30minute, then chop the date mixture up into chunks of your desired size. I recommend not making them too big so that you get plenty of chocolate in every bite.
Melt the chocolate and coat each piece.
While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle over sea salt.
I also coated some of my bites in cocoa powder because (I think because of my kitchen being hot) the chocolate had some bubbles on the surface that looked unappetising.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
I was sceptical about this recipe but these bites are delicious. The texture is much nicer than most dried-fruit nut bars, with a nice bite and chew. The dark chocolate adds an amazing bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of the dates and the brightness of the salt is the icing on the cake (so to speak).
I would love to learn to temper chocolate. Imagine how beautiful these bites would look if the chocolate was shiny!
My gardening for the year has come to an end. I have to say that I struggled to stay interested in it beyond August. My loss of focus was partly due to having a lot of other things to work on (both craft and non-craft), but also because the courgette plants grew unruly, the leaves turned grey and the fruit stopped developing so well. It was hard to be as excited. The tomato vines started to blacken, and the purple sprout seedlings I planted out were immediately consumed by pests. No real loss as I loathe Brussels sprouts.
I captured this time lapse video that shows the progress of my little vegetable patch.
Surprisingly, the courgettes were probably the greatest success of the season. They’re really easy to incorporate into cooking and very healthy. I would definitely grow them again, though probably only one plant next time.
I learnt too late that I should have kept the tomatoes at the front of my house, where there is more sun. This meant that I harvested mostly green tomatoes, which just left me with unnecessary preserving work. However, it was just as well I did preserve them. Many of the fruits I didn’t preserve seemed to have some kind of frostbite that made them rot. If I were to grow these tomatoes again (and I have loads of seeds), one vine would definitely be sufficient.
I decided to try fried green tomatoes following Nigel Slater’s recipe. They were all right.
I ate them with garlic mayo, which meant making mayonnaise for the first time. I was surprised by how easy it was.
Lessons from my gardening attempts this year:
- Don’t buy plants or seeds from the pound shop
- Seriously, don’t!
- Physalis is easy to grow in London, but I’m not hugely fond of the fruit
- Keeping herbs alive in the kitchen is hard if you live alone and like going on holiday
I’m not sure yet whether I’ll plant anything next year. Even though it was definitely worthwhile this year, you need plenty of time to use the vegetables once you have managed to grow them. Spare time really is at a premium for me at present.
I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to grow tomatoes given that they’re meant to be tricky, and I have a poor gardening track record. However, this is my harvest from two plants.
I decided to take all of them off the vine even though most are still green. It’s starting to get too cold and the vines are dying, which is affecting the fruit. With the experience I now have, I think I would get a lot more ripe tomatoes if I grew them again.
I decided to make some green tomato chutney with the slightly dodgier tomatoes. I followed Nigel Slater’s recipe, doubled. I didn’t have many jars left after my courgette jam exploits so had to make do with an odd selection. I ended up with seven jars of varying sizes- most of them quite large.
I also made a simple salad inspired by my recent holiday to Greece. The tomato is combined with nectarine and ricotta with a basil dressing. It’s a bit like a twist on a tricolore. I also grew the basil. The plant was a bit of a casualty of the holiday, so I had to use it all up quickly.
Recipe from The Silver Island Cookbook.
I finally got something other than courgettes out of my garden since I pulled my carrots and beetroot. It’s weird growing root vegetables as you basically have no idea what’s lurking under the ground.
For some reason only one of my beetroot grew to a decent size. I’m not too upset because I’m not that crazy about beetroot anyway. Turns out that I grew a lot of vegetables that I’m not too fond of. The fact is, I used to eat vegetables because they were good for me and not for pleasure. I have to say, though, growing my own has given me a new appreciation for veg.
Anyway, the small yield scuppered my plan of making chutney so I just roasted the beetroot in the oven. This was my first experience with raw beetroot. I followed Jamie Oliver’s recommendation of eating it warm on toast with horseradish. It was okay, but not sure I would make it again.
I was very pleased with my purple carrots because my dad’s girlfriend, who is a gardener, said that carrots are notoriously difficult to grow. I wanted to enjoy them in their raw form so I made some red pepper hummus with which to eat them. I followed this recipe, which produced by far the best hummus I’ve ever made, rivalling store bought. Hummus is one of the few things that I’ve found very difficult to improve by making from scratch.
I increased all of the amounts by 50% due to the ingredients I had on hand, so I now have an enormous quantity of hummus to consume. Fortunately it’s really good with the carrots.
In the past couple of weeks, my garden has started to produce a lot of courgettes. I got the seeds as part of a ‘funky veg’ kit and kind of just planted for the hell of it- I’m not the biggest fan of courgettes. However, I sense that my glut of yellow beauties may make me learn to love this humble vegetable. We’ll see how I do at the challenging task of not embarrassing myself with phallic references in this post. I am a follower of Freud, after all.
I turned my first fistful of small courgettes into a tasty salad. Adapted from this recipe.
I knew that my staff summer picnic would be a good excuse to use up some more courgettes. As you can see, these ones were much larger.
I made another salad for the party- this was actually my first time cooking and eating fennel. I selected a vegan recipe, but when the vegan in the team wasn’t at the picnic, I did add some cheeky feta. Cheese makes everything better.
The cake was lovely- light, moist and tasty. Would probably omit raisins next time. My favourite bit was the frosting, but then I am dangerously addicted to cream cheese frosting. I have a LOT more courgettes coming, so I need to stay ahead of the game with ways to use them.