Granola

We seem to have a really dreadful moth infestation at the moment. Friends inform me that it’s one of the perils of living in London, but I can’t help but feel like a bad housekeeper for failing to keep them out in the first place. Anyway, affected cupboards have been identified, food has been thrown out, pheromone traps have been installed, and we’re crossing our fingers the infestation hasn’t spread to the spice cupboard or the baking cupboard. Because then there will be tears.

And those moths have expensive taste. They loved the sun dried tomatoes Camilla’s boyfriend brought from Italy. And they were especially partial towards my pine nuts.

I had been meaning to make granola for a few days, but alas, they had infiltrated my pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, and sunflower seeds as well (unfortunately the lid of the airtight container I had them in had been knocked ajar).

As you can imagine, I was a little upset by all of this wanton destruction. When I am upset I go to my happy place. Luckily my happy place sells pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and long ribbons of shredded coconut.

There will be granola. Oh yes, there will be granola!

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I’m not sure that constructing your own granola is any cheaper than buying it, but this way you get to have whatever you want in it. This particular batch contains:

  • oats
  • barley flakes
  • amaranth puffs
  • sliced almonds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • coconut
  • milled flaxseed (I used a stick blender on whole golden flaxseed.  It’s easier to digest when milled)
  • blueberries
  • cranberries
  • about 2 tablespoons of Clearspring Omega Oil
  • about half a cup of maple syrup
  • a couple of tablespoons of local honey

All of the ingredients were organic.  I mixed everything but the berries together in a big bowl, spread out on an oven tray (I did this in batches) and cooked at 180 degrees until it was golden brown and crunchy.  Next time I think I would add the coconut halfway through as it browned a bit too much.  I added the berries at the end.  When serving I also add a handful of cacao nibs.  Served with a few tablespoons of organic yoghurt it is divine.  My best granola yet.

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Cherry clafoutis

Pity me, people, for I am allergic to apples, and stonefruit of all kinds. Stonefruit and the start of the apple season are one of the best things about the fading summer, but for me it can be torture!. I’m not highly allergic, but I get an uncomfortable itching and slight swelling in my lips, mouth and throat. And it doesn’t happen every time. I seem to get along better with organic fruit, perhaps because the varieties chosen for organic growing are different from the most common conventional varieties. So I often ignore my allergy and shove a particularly lucious-looking apricot (or as Helly introduced me to last week, an apricot-nectarine cross – I have no idea what that’s called) into my mouth, only to scrabble through my handbag for an antihistamine moments later.

Luckily, there is one guaranteed way for me to eat stonefruit without a reaction: cook them first. One of my favourite ways of eating nectarines involves halving them and cooking them in a reduction of orange juice and Cointreau; delicious served with marscapone or vanilla cream.

With cherries though, it has to be clafoutis. It makes a great quick weeknight dessert, and the leftovers are great for breakfast the next morning. I leave the stones in the cherries; it means you have to take care while eating but then I think it forces you to savour every bite.

Slightly rubbish photos, I’m afraid, which is why I haven’t blogged this before – I seem to be incapable of getting any photos that reflect how utterly delicious this dessert is.

First you need some cherries; about 300g. Here in the picture you can see 250. It’s not enough – don’t skimp on cherries! Wait until the local cherries come on the market. It’s worth it.

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You want them in a single layer on the bottom of your dish. If they just won’t fit you’ll have to pop a couple in your mouth as you go. If you’re not me, this is probably a good idea. If you’re me, sometimes you will give the spares to your cherry-loving flatmate instead. It’s a win-win – that’s all it takes to get her to do the dishes.

Next, whip up a quick batter with 2 eggs, 200ml milk, 40 grams of flour, 40 grams of sugar, and a heaped teaspoon of baking powder. Add a few drops of vanilla essence or cherry brandy if you have it.

Pour it over the cherries:

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Stop pouring when the cherries start to float. You don’t want too much batter. Incidentally, once I made this with almond milk and it was really tasty, however the batter was a little more dense.

Stick it in a hot oven (about 180 degrees) and cook for 30-35 minutes or until it starts to turn golden brown on top.

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Here’s the hard part: you have to take it out of the oven and leave it to cool for a bit. It will sink down a little in the middle, that’s ok. Serve with lashings of single cream.

Sumac-spiced aubergine schnitzel

A few months ago I impulse-bought some sumac, and then completely forgot to do anything with it. I’ll freely admit that I’d never used it before and although I really liked the smell, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

So I did a bit of googling and found a recipe for sumac-spiced aubergine schnitzel, from (of all places) the Daily Mail.

I like aubergine, and I like pretty much anything coated in breadcrumbs and fried, so I was definitely already onto a winner here.

But when those breadcrumbs are combined with lemon rind, aged Parmesan, sumac, mint and parsley, it elevated the dish to something truly delicious.

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I’d let the aubergine get a little old and wrinkly, so the outside slices (with the most skin) were a little tough to eat, but the inside slices were still good.

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This was a bottom-of-the-fridge exercise but I ate it with some slightly wrinkled (and none the worse for it) cherry tomatoes, and some very spicy baby greens from my balcony. Those greens (mustard, rocket, mizuna etc) were so spicy they needed absolutely no dressing.

This one’s going into regular rotation, I think. The problem on the blogging front is I have so many recipes in regular rotation that it can be hard to try something new. Every time I get my veg box I look inside and think “cauliflower, that’ll do for the Ottolenghi cauliflower fritters. Cabbage can go into Parmesan skin soup. Cavalo nero – woohoo! I get to make tagliatelle with cavalo nero again! Potatoes – I’ll make another tortilla and I’ll use the rest to make some smoked mackerel fishcakes”. I’m stuck in a rut. It’s a rut of utter deliciousness. The changing seasons just give me a chance to make old favourites again.

Then again, there are some things I make all the time that I’ve never blogged. The fishcakes, for example, which I make constantly. Stay tuned for my next post, I’m finally going to blog my favourite summer dessert.

El Parador, Mornington Crescent

A while back I read James Ramsden’s review of El Parador. When I realised it was just around the corner from me, I wondered why I had never been before!

I’d recently had a very disappointing tapas experience at a North-West London establishment that shall remain nameless. It involved the worst tortilla I had ever tasted (battery egg and mushy potato) and a surly waitress – though in her defence, it was possibly not the best idea to go to a Spanish restaurant on the night of the World Cup final. But one doesn’t always think of these things when one is not a rabid sports fan.

Sports have no place on this blog, so back to tapas: it took me all of five minutes to walk up to Mornington Crescent, where I met visiting friends Claire and Dave from New Zealand. El Parador was just around the corner on Eversholt Street. This is possibly why I had not discovered it before – I generally take a shortcut home before I get up to the part of the street containing El Parador. Despite having lived around the corner for two years, I don’t think I’d ever walked down that stretch of the road before.

The weather gods were being kind so we decided to sit outside in the garden. This meant having to go downstairs and then upstairs again to get there but with its laid-back vibe it was the perfect spot to while away a summer evening.

The menu is quite extensive, and there was also a blackboard menu of daily specials to choose from. I don’t like having lots to choose from as it makes me feel like I’m missing out on other potentially delicious options, and so many dishes appealed. We each chose two dishes, plus the pure de habas:

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The pure de habas – broad bean puree – tasted how it looks, so fresh and green, with garlic and rosemary. It’s worth going back for this alone.

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We played the obligatory Russian roulette with the padron peppers and each of us ended up with a hot one. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t cope very well with mine – where did my chilli tolerance disappear to?

Unfortunately the photos are a bit blurry as I took them with my mobile, but those are baby squid in the background. Those were my two choices and I didn’t regret them a bit.

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Dave chose two dishes from the daily specials menu. This tomato, capsicum and aubergine dish tasted very good, sort of a Spanish ratatouille. And this fish was absolutely divine:

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Claire went with a couple of classics, patatas bravas and empanadillas:

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Classics are classics for a reason. Do them well and you can do anything. I always judge a pizza place by its Margherita and I judge a tapas place by its tortilla (see above). We didn’t get the tortilla this time but the patatas bravas were pretty good. I think they could have done with a bit more spice but then after eating the hot padron pepper I didn’t really care.

We looked at the dessert menu but nothing really appealed. That’s not the sort of thing I mind though, being more of a savoury person.

I actually can’t believe I haven’t been back to El Parador since this visit. I will definitely have to round up some friends or flatmates and go back there. Eventually I will work my way through the menu there.

Breakfast Club #2: Eggs

Breakfast Club: Because breakfast should be more interesting than tea & toast or coffee & cereal.

Sorry I’m a bit late posting this roundup, I’ve been away at Camp Bestival. But more on that later.

We had some really creative entries this month.

Janet from the taste space made Syrian Eggs Scrambled with Rhubarb. I had no idea rhubarb was an ingredient in Syrian cooking, though not knowing much about Syrian cooking that’s not surprising I suppose! It’s got me wanting to learn more.

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Akheela from Torviewtoronto made an Omelette with vegetables

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Sandra from gesund geniessen made an egg frittata with spinach and smoked salmon. You really can’t go wrong with spinach and smoked salmon!

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Lizzie from Grub du Jour made a sunshine breakfast pizza. I’ve always been a bit sceptical of egg on pizza but so many people tell me it’s good that I think I should probably believe you and try it for myself.

Sunshine Breakfast Pizza

Denise from Oh Taste n See made Baked Eggs Florentine. It’s good to see a few of the entries making use of yummy in-season spinach.

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Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe came in with the only egg substitute recipe with her Eggs Faux Young Scramble. It looks delicious and I am impressed by how eggy it looks!

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Sudha from Malaysian Delicacies had the most decadent entry with her Petite Rose Cakes. I’m not sure I could handle eating one for breakfast but for tea they’d be lovely.

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I did actually make something myself but didn’t blog it in time so I’ll just post a picture here:

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Huevos Rancheros. They were delicious, except I got a bit chilli-happy with the sauce. You know how it goes: “Hmm, not hot enough yet, I’ll add a bit more chilli. No, I think it needs just a bit more. Oh, how about I just add a big spoonful of chilli powder. Oops!”

I think this month’s entries really showed the versatility of eggs and how they are used in many different cultures. Thanks everyone for entering.

Helen has now announced Breakfast Club #3 and the theme is Muffins.

Here’s a reminder of what you have to do:

Make breakfast inspired by the month’s theme, write about it (please include a link in your post to both hosts’ announcement or blog)

Mail the host for the month, (helen at fussfreeflavours dot com) with a link to your post, name of your blog and a photo (or link to your photo) by 6pm (UK time) on the 5th September.

If you do not have a blog send a recipe and photo to the month’s host who will include it in the round up.

Tell everyone – let’s inspire each other to make more interesting breakfasts.