Monthly Archives: October 2012

Spirulina and Almond energy balls

I love making these energy balls for my daughter’s packed lunch or to have as a snack during my printmaking tuesdays. I also send supplies of them on school trips! They give you lots of energy and nutrients in a very small package. I customise them endlessly according to what I have in my cupboard but here is a very tasty mix that works. They are also very good value when you compare with the price of similar energy bars or balls in health shops…

If you have not come across Spirulina, read below. It is a sort of algae/seaweed and is a very good supplement but tastes foul so it is great to have it in a guise you can actually enjoy! There is no real measures in this recipe so I just used a ratio of cups to 1/2 cups and 1/4 cups… Just to give you the idea.

Ingredients list:

  • 1 cup almond powder
  • 1 cup medium or fine oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup wheatgerm or oatbran
  • ¼ cup chopped dates
  • ¼ cup brazil nuts or macadamia nuts
  • ½ cup raisin
  • 4 tbsp brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 bite size crushed ginger
  • 1 tsp powdered Spirulina
  • 2 Tbsp prune juice (or apple juice)

Mix all of the above ingredients in a food processor on the highest speed until it starts forming a slightly sticky dough. Bind with more juice if too dry and roll in very clean hands. These balls can keep for a fortnight in a metal box in your fridge.

Ready, steady, go

Nutrition note: Spirulina is often deemed the most nutritionally complete of all food supplements, containing a rich supply of many important nutrients, including protein, complex carbohydrates, iron, and vitamins A, K, and B complex. It also has a high supply of carotenoids such as beta carotene and yellow xanthophylls which have antioxidant properties. It is also rich in chlorophyll, fatty and nucleic acids, and lipids. Thus, spirulina has countless uses as a supplement for maintaining good health and for preventing diseases.

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Rum baba

This is a throw-back to the Seventies! Retro cakes after vintage clothes are making a comeback in our kitchen – Rachel Khoo style – but I won’t complain because I loved rum baba as a child and I had not had one since… until I started making my own this month.

This recipe is surprisingly fool-proof but I won’t lie: it will take you a whole afternoon – only make it for people you love. Love wants time. That’s my measure of affection !

Ingredients list

  • Milk (warm), 100ml
  • Fast action yeast, 1 1/2 teaspoon
  • Strong white flour (type00), 150g
  • Egg, 1 plus 1 yolk
  • Caster sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon
  • Fine salt, a pinch
  • Butter, 50g

For the syrup

  • Brown sugar 600g
  • Water 500ml
  • Lemon peel
  • ½ vanilla pod
  • Dark rum, 2 Tbsp plus more to serve

Warm the bowl of you mixer with boiling water or if using a Thermomix, set it the temperature at 50 degrees.

Add the warm milk, yeast and 50g of flour.

Stir well and then leave for 15 min until it becomes foamy. It is ideal in the thermomix because you can set it on speed 1 and at 50 degrees and leave the dough to make its magic.

This is a bread recipe rather than a cake mix so the proving is really important and you need good fresh yeast powder. Always check the best before date.

Add the remaining flour, egg and yolk, sugar and salt to the mix and beat at top speed for 2 minutes. Then add the diced, cold butter and beat again for 2 minutes.

Cover and leave to rise for 45 minutes. I leave it in the warm Thermomix bowl and it pretty much should double in volume.

Brush the baba or savarins tins with oil. You can also use muffins tins or mini pudding pans. Put the batter into a jug and half-fill each mould. Cover and reserve.

While they rise – and they will!- you can make the syrup by mixing all the ingredients in a large saucepan and letting it bubble away until it has reduced a bit. Usually no less than 5 or 8 minutes. Add the rum.

Let it cool.

Meanwhile, the babas have risen just above the rim of their tins. If not, just leave them a little longer.

Put in a warm oven (170) on fan for 20 minutes.

Take them out, leave them to cool a bit then assemble the pudding by putting the babas in a deep dish and soaking them with the rum syrup. Spoon the syrup on to cover them well.

Drain the baba and slice it in two halves. Put some more syrup in the centre of both halves if necessary and a nice drop of dark rum. Reserve in a cool place until ready to serve.

Serve them with whipped cream and some fresh, seasonal fruit. My whipped cream was slightly minty and I choose kiwi slices this time. Kiwi is a good fruit for dessert because it has little flavour of its own but a pleasant acidity to offset any sweet pudding ; and rum babas are very sweet indeed…

This recipe is taken with a few twists from Dan Lepard’s new book  Short and Sweet, the best of home baking.

Salmon in miso glaze

Fish dishes are a great entertaining menu and if you are able to serve a whole wild salmon – as I did here- then it is worth doing a little bit of a show about it. Salmon  is such a good looking fish that I would advise to serve it intact and without cutting up its head – plus this will give more taste to the sauce eventually.

I do not have a proper Poissonniere dish so I use a roasting dish but if you have, do not hold back! 

Ingredients list:

  • One whole salmon or 6 salmon steaks
  • Water 500ml
  • Bouquet garni made with bay leaves, tarragon or basil and mint
  • Star anis 2 to 4 heads
  • Turmeric 1 Tbsp
  • Saffron 2 strands
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the glaze:

  • Shiro Miso paste 100 g
  • Mirin vinegar 1 tsp (sweet Japanese vinegar)
  • Soy sauce 2 tbsp
  • Olive or sesame oil 4 Tbsp

First clean the fish or cut it up into steaks.

Put it into a deep roasting dish and cover with water about half-way up. I line my dish with foil because it is easier to clean afterwards but you do not have to and it is probably not very “macrobiotic” to use foil… But practical!

Chuck in the “bouquet garni” and the spices. Do try to get fresh tarragon because combined with the star anis it will give the flesh a very subtle and sweet flavour that I find irresistible.

Warm the saffron strands into some hot water and chuck that in too. The saffron and turmeric give this dish its warm colour.

Put the fish in a hot oven and bake until you can insert a knife into the flesh all the way to the bone. I prefer to slightly undercook it to allow for the second grilling.

When it is baked, reserve until your guests arrive and prepare the glaze by mixing the miso with a bit of Japanese vinegar, some sesame oil and soy sauce.

If doing a whole fish, cut up the skin in the middle and push it back to uncover the flesh.

Then spread the miso marinade abundantly over it- Or just on one side of the steaks if doing individual portions.

Put the dish back in the oven at the last minute and grill for 5 to 8 minutes, watching over it carefully so it does not burn!

Serve with ladle-full of the very fragrant sauce and some rice salad or quinoa.

Baked in the juice, the salmon remains very moist. Best to baste it from time to time during the cooking, though. For the flavours need to penetrate the flesh.

The other plus point is you can also prepare most of this dish in advance, which makes for a great entertaining plan. We served a Chablis over this but a Sancerre would have been lovely too ; and in the summer I would serve it with a good rosé! My winemaker mother reckons anything pink is greatly enhanced by rosé and she should know… Do try because it is a fantastic idea and it works: from shrimps to pork, from ham to strawberries  – and smoked salmon. If you can’t source my favourite at Chateau de la Tuilerie, then try the delicious “English rose” from Chapel Down in Kent. Both world-class!