Delicious Peanut Flax Granola

Rome was not built in a day, neither was Granola, or so it seemed. The secret to good granola is to cook it slow and low!

I learn from my mistakes very quickly! The first time I made this, I put the oven on so high, the granola cooked to a crisp; rather than throw all my hard work away, I grimaced and ate the bitter cereal the rest of the week. Never again.

Top tip: after 20 minutes in the oven, take it out and turn the mixture, making sure to push the granola from the edges inward toward the middle. Then place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove and stir it one final time before returning it to the oven for the last 10 minutes: a total of 40 minutes!

Long wait but the reward is so great; your breakfasts (or even snacks) will leave you feeling so satisfied. You can thank me later…enjoy!

Peanut Flax Granola

Ingredients

* Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees

3 1/2 – 4 cups Whole rolled porridge oats

1/2 cup pecan nuts – roughly chopped

1/2 cup cashews, roughly chopped

1/4 cup golden flax seeds

2 tbsp almond meal

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raisins (or your choice of dried fruit)

1/4 cup peanut butter,

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tsps vanilla extract

1 tbsp almond extract

1 tbsp cinnamon powder

Pinch of salt

Method: 

1. Combine all dry ingredients (minus the raisins and brown sugar) in a large mixing bowl

2. Combine all wet ingredients plus the brown sugar in a small sauce pan and stir occasionally until simmering. Simmer for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.

3. Pour hot mixture slowly over oat mixture and stir until the mixture is moist and the liquid is evenly distributed throughout.

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4. Spread mixture evenly onto heavy baking tray and place on middle rack in heated oven.

Total baking time is 40 minutes – Remove from the oven and place a clean, heavy pan on top of the granola while it’s cooling.

Now you can break apart, add to a large bowl and add the raisins or any other dried fruit. – Keep in air tight container.

Crispy Sweet Potato Chips…Every time!

I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy crispy sweet potato chips until now. Sweet Potato has a very high water content which is why it can’t naturally achieve the crispy status of a regular chip…without some help from its little friend corn starch.

The key to achieving ultimate crispiness is to eliminate moisture, so make sure you pat the potato sticks dry before adding the corn starch and seasoning and more or less toss them straight into the oven soon after that with only a drizzle of oil.

Crispy Sweet Potato Chips


Method

* Pre-heat oven to 425 F. (Gas Mark 7)

1. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch sticks leaving the skin on.

2.  Soak your fries in cold water for around 45 minutes to an hour for maximum crispiness! This draws  out the excess starch from the sweet potatoes, helping them to cook all the way through better so they are crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside without burning.

3. Drain the fries and allow them to dry on kitchen towel absorbing all the excess moisture.

4. Mix together cornstarch, rosemary, garlic salt  and salt. Add the fries to the mix and  seal the container and shake!

5. Place fries on baking sheet.

6. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt

7. Spread chips out on baking tray. Make sure they are not touching to achieve ultimate crispness.

8.Bake for 15 minutes. Turn over if necessary. Bake for a further 5 minutes.

Recipe inspired by Southern Fatty 

Grilled Onions w/ Pomegranate Molasses

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Pomegranate molasses (also called grenadine molasses) is a staple in the countries of the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. I recently discovered this syrup whilst trying to replicate this roasted red onion side dish which often accompanies meals in Turkish Restaurants here in London. I was surprised at how sour and tangy the molasses was given the sweet dry taste of a pomegranate. I would only recommend buying a small bottle at first (which can be purchased from most Middle Eastern shops).

Once you get use to its flavour, I think it will become a stable in your pantry. You can use it as a substitute to honey for glazing meat, poultry or roasted root vegetables like carrots. But traditionally it’s used as a dressing in salads or relishes. To achieve the sweet and sour taste here, I added fresh pomegranate juice to take the edge off the molasses.

 

Grilled Red Onions w/ Pomegranate Molasses

  • Servings: 4-5
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Ingredients:

2 red Onions 1 white Onion cut into quarters.

Sunflower Oil Spray (for the grill)

2 Garlic Cloves

2 tbsp  Pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup Pomegranate juice

2 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses

Pinch of salt/ pepper

 

Method:

1. Put the grill pan on a high heat for about 3 minutes, then spray with oil.

Place the onion quarts on the grill for about 3 minutes per side or until it is well caramelized.

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2. Once both sides of the onion have been grilled, break up the segments to allow the onion to soften a little more.

3. Remove from the grill and leave the garlic on the grill to roast some more. Once soft remove from grill and mash with a fork.

4. In a separate bowl, mix the pomegranate juice, molasses and garlic.

When you are ready to serve, strain the juice through a sieve to remove the garlic and pour over the onions.

Add the pomegranate seeds as a garnish.

5. Serve as a condiment or with warm flat bread.

 

 

 

 

One Pot Series: Guyanese Metemgee

 

The One Pot Series: If you want to spend less time washing dishes and more time enjoying tasty food and company, then read on!

Coming from a family of six hungry bellies with large appetites, The One Pot was essential for our survival. I really don’t know how my parents managed without it. From Cook-up Rice to Metemgee, it just made economic sense; It settled many an argument, it brought order out of chaos, it quieted the storm. “You don’t like Cassava? Well there’s sweet potato..” The way Mum would organise the provision before my brother could stab me in the hand with his fork, his true target being the last piece of dumpling, was genius.  And then there’s the sauce…my word. My word. It can only be compared to liquid gold: the pot would be clean and gleaming when we were done.

Metemgee  is a Guyanese Creole stew of sorts made with dumplings, cassava, yam, plantains, okra and a hot peppery coconut milk sauce. It’s normally served with salt fish or crispy fried fish of your choice. The immense amount of sauce that the Metem provides means you really don’t need to prepare a separate gravy with the fish.

You can add any number of root vegetables to it: potatoes, edoes, white or yellow yam. It’s up to you. Just be sure you maintain a thick rich sauce throughout, the dumplings once added will help with that.

It’s always best to cook this dish in stages as some things cook quicker than others; the Okra and Plantain for example should be cooked last and separately as they soften quickly and you want it to keep its shape.

And finally don’t judge a book by its cover. When this dish begins to cool down, it may look like a hot mess, but the smell from the stew is so rich, you won’t be turning your nose up for too long! As it’s coconut milk the dish won’t last beyond 2 days before turning sour, so be sure to only cook want you know you will eat over the weekend!

Guyanese: Metemgee

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

2 Sweet Potatoes

1 whole Cassava (or 5 frozen pieces)

2 Ripe Plantain

6 Okra Fingers

2 Corn on Cob

1 Medium Onion – chopped finely

3 Garlic – crushed

3-4 Fresh Thyme sprigs or good pinch of dried Thyme

1 Whole Scotch Bonnet Pepper

2 spring onions, sliced

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp tomato paste

1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger

1 1/2 cups Coconut Milk

Dash of Maggi all-purpose liquid seasoning

1 tsp Garam Masala

1 Vegetable Stock cube

1/2 tsp Red Pepper Corns

1 1/2 cup Water

Oil (to fry)

 

For the Dumplings

2 cups of plain flour

1 pinch of salt

1 tbsp butter/ margarine

1 cup milk

 

Method:

1. Peel all the root vegetables and slice length ways into 7″ long chunks. Try not to slice them too thinly as they may disintegrate whilst cooking. Place the vegetables in a large bowl filled with cold water.

Make the dumpling by mixing all the ingredients listed under ‘dumplings’ together. Shape the dumplings as you wish and refrigerate for later.

2. Cut the ripe plantain into 3 chunks (with the skin on) and place in a separate pot of water to boil.

3. Trim the Okra ‘top and tail’ and set aside.

4. Fry the onions, garlic and spring onions in a large, deep pot for about 3 minutes before adding the tomato paste and ginger. Allow it to fry until the onions have softened.

5. Add Garam masala and stir for 1 minute before adding the coconut milk. Allow to simmer for 1 minute before adding the thyme.

6. Add the water and scotch bonnet pepper to the pot. Then place the root vegetables in the pot. Allow pot to simmer for 10 minutes before removing the pepper.

7. Add the vegetable stock cube and season further to taste.

8. In the meantime, in another pot, boil the plantain. This should take no more than 15 minutes. strain the water and allow it to cool.

9. Allow the pot to simmer until the potatoes start to soften. Then add the dumpling pieces and okra, placing them gently at the top of the stew, be careful not to stir the pot too much.

10. Season to taste.

 

Street Food Series: Churros w/ Chocolate Ginger Fudge Sauce

 

Churros are proof, if you ever needed it, that Pretzels are best served hot!

Most of us have done this: you spot Mr Pretzel man with his red uniform 50 yards away, standing like an awkwardly enticing Butler (because Butler’s aren’t generally enticing), holding a silver platter filled with freshly baked warm Pretzels tossed in cinnamon sugar and roughly chopped into pieces. And like a Magpie, you swoop in to take the biggest piece of bread you can find, scooping up as much sugary dust as you can. I love their warm fluffy texture and the gritty sweet feel of the sugar and cinnamon against my teeth. But at £4 a piece, I knew I had to find a cheaper snack which gave me the same satisfaction.

So in walks Ms Churros – a Spanish ‘pretzel stick’ if you will, which is popular on the streets of Latin America, France and Portugal,  and has finally made its way across the English Channel to the cobbled streets of London. Unlike Pretzels, which tend to be a lot bigger and denser, Churros are a lot crisper and lighter. They are also noticeably spirally twisted in shape, kind of like the horn of a unicorn, making it all the more easier to dip into the dark bitter chocolate sauce it is traditionally served with.

Churros are fried at a very high temperature until golden and crisp on the outside. The surface of a churro is ridged due to having been piped from a churrera, a syringe with a star-shaped nozzle.  The curly umbrella hook shape of the Churro is a result of the free-style way in which the dough hits the hot oil when frying so now the pressure is off to create the perfect Churro stick!

The silky, fudge like chocolate sauce I made works perfectly with this snack: Green and Blacks has a wide selection dark chocolate flavours which is what I used for this simple sauce. You will have perfect bitter-sweet dipping fudge chocolate in seconds!

 

Churros with Chocolate Ginger Sauce

  • Servings: 10-12 sticks
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

For the Churros

1 cup water

3 eggs

1 tbsp Bob Red Mill’s Masa Harina (Corn Flour not starch) – optional

1 cup of Plain Flour

1/2 cup  unsalted butter (soft)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

1/2 tsp almond essence

1 tbsp Light Brown Sugar

Canola Oil (fry)

 

For the Coating

1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon powder

 

 

For the Chocolate Ginger Sauce

100g  Dark Chocolate

1-2 cubes of crystalized ginger

1 cup Double Cream

 

Method:

For the Churro

1. In a deep pot combine water, butter until completely melted over a medium to low heat

2. Add the flour and corn flour stirring continuously. Keep stirring over the heat until the mixture thickens and clumps together into a smooth ‘ball’ .

3. Remove from the heat and briskly stir in the eggs one at a time.

4.Add the vanilla, almond and sugar and mix well

5. Transfer mix to a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle or the ‘churrera’  mentioned above on the smallest nozzle.

5. Heat the oil to 182°C (359.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Pipe churros batter straight into the hot oil. Use your fingers or a knife to break off the batter to the desired length. Once the churros are browned lift out and put onto a plate covered with some paper towel to drain.

6. Roll the churros through the cinnamon sugar in a separate tray.

 

The Chocolate Ginger Sauce

1. Break the chocolate into small cubes and place in a glass jug or bowl with the cubes of ginger.

2. In a saucepan, warm the cream (not to boiling point), then pour half of the cream into the glass bowl with the chocolate and stir. Then slowly add the remaining cream into the bowl and stir well.

3. Remove the ginger cubes when you have the desired intensity of the ginger in the sauce  before serving.