christmas spice mix + spiced pear tart

christmas-spiced pear tart
christmas spice mix

Friends, I feel I’ve let you down. It’s only 9 days (!) until Christmas, and not one festive recipe has graced these pages! I blame it on our weather (one hardly feels like baking in this heat), and on the fact that I really struggled to find something I feel is original and inspiring enough for me to share with you all. So I started thinking about my favourite things about Christmas – what food would I have at the ‘perfect’ Christmas lunch? what would it smell like? And I realised that my favourite thing about festive eating is the flavour and combination of christmas spices.

Here is my secret weapon: Christmas spice mix. A potent blend of coriander seeds (yes, you read that correctly!), cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, clove and cardamom. Once sniff (or taste) and I’m instantly transported to a land full of garlands, baubles and carols. Coriander plays a really important role in this spice mix – so don’t think you can leave it out – it’s citrus and floral notes pull all the other spices into line, providing the perfect foundation from which you can pick out the warmth of cinnamon, the sharpness of the clove, the sweetness of the allspice.

This spice mix also makes a perfect gift – incorporated into baking, stirred into porridge (hey – even blended with a banana smoothie) – I guarantee that it will be able to recall a little feeling of Christmas throughout rest of the year. I made a triple batch of the recipe below and stored some in bottles for friends and family.

Lastly, pears and this spice mix make the best of friends. This tart is simple to make, with a no-roll dough (based off a recipe from Greek Kitchen Stories) filled with almonds and oats. The combination of Christmas spices, pear, and a nutty crust is delicious and soul-warming. It’s not fussy, but rather robust, and can be made in advance, then baked off when needed. Perfect for a busy festive season, no? (It would be blissful topped with your favourite ice-cream, or vanilla cashew cream).

I hope these last days of the silly season are greeting you with happiness and many festivities. X

p.s. The last photo should give you some insight into my oh so fancy set up for shooting photos…

christmas spices
a lot of christmas spice
pear
about time for the oven
spiced pear tart
happy accident

christmas spice mix

makes about 1/3 cup

recipe notes

  • If you don’t have ground spices, you can grind them using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
  • Spice mixes are best within 1-2 months of mixing, but if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark spot, should retain most of the flavour for a longer period.
  • This spice can be used in making gingerbread, apple pie, porridge, or as a delicious addition to smoothies or hot chocolates.

ingredients

  • 4 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground green cardamom seed

Combine all the spices in a small bowl and stir to combine. Store in an airtight glass jar and keep in a cool, dark place.

spiced pear tart

serves 6-8

recipe notes

  • If you don’t have a 35 x 13 cm rectangular tart tin, use an 8″ circular tart tin and use the proportions of ingredients in the original crust recipe, and use only 2 pears.
  • This recipe would also work lovely with apples.

for the crust

  • 1.5 cups (150 g) quick or rolled oats
  • 1 cup (100 g) almond meal
  • 3 tbsp corn flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or honey

for the filling

  • 3 ripe, but firm pears – peeled, cored and sliced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp panela or raw sugar
  • 2 tsp christmas spice mix
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk

In a large bowl, combine oats, almond meal, cornflour, and salt. Create a well in the centre, and mix in the coconut oil and sweetener. Use your hands to rub the mixture until a loose dough forms (it will be very crumbly). Wrap the dough in aluminium foil or cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (this will help the dough be less crumbly).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 150 C (300 F). In a large bowl, toss the pear slices with the lemon juice, sugar and spice mix, then set aside. Once the dough is chilled, remove from the fridge and press evenly into a 13 x 35 cm fluted tart tin. Bake the crust in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the crust and turn the oven up to 175 C (350 F). Arrange the pear slices inside the crust, and return to the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, open the oven and pour the coconut milk over the pears. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes, until the the pears and edges of the crust are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin. Carefully remove from the tin, slice and enjoy. Can be stored at room temperature for 2 days.

blackberry + spelt mini loaves

blackberry + spelt mini loafs

How you know you’re on holidays: You type ‘loafs’ in the title of this post, and stare at it for a good 30 seconds before realising that it’s wrong. Then having to check the dictionary just to make sure you got it right. Phew.

It’s been a big year, friends. HUGE, really. And boy, am I glad to be on holidays. That being said, I’m still going through the awkwardness of those first few days – figuring out what I’m going to do each day, trying as best I can not to set enormous list of goals, slowly relaxing and letting things go. I’m sure most people can relate. Here however, is a short prĂ©cis of what I’ve got in mind: yoga. walks. beach. day trips. food. books. And Christmas (holy cow – only two weeks away!).

I made these little loaves over the weekend when I visited a friend – perfect for tea or coffee time in the afternoon. It was magic to get lost in conversation for a few hours. The loaves are soft, moist and utterly yum. There’s a slightly nutty flavour from the spelt flours, which plays off really well against the tart berryness of the blackberries. They are quick and easy to make, and if you don’t have a mini loaf tin, can be made in a muffin tin I’m sure (making 12 muffins).

If you’re not into blackberries (or don’t have any around), feel free to substitute with your favourite berry (raspberries or blueberries in particular) or even apple, pear or peach would work nicely. This recipe is more than versatile – shape it to your whim, lovelies.

My holiday brain is struggling with what else can be said – just take my word for it – they’re pretty great.

loafin' around
tea time?
mini loaf
gone

blackberry + spelt mini loaves

makes 8 mini loaves or 12 muffins

recipe notes

  • As I note above, these can be made in your standard muffin tin, and should yield 12. You will have to adjust your baking time (perhaps 20 minutes instead of 25).
  • Substitute for your favourite berry or fruit if you prefer.
  • Also – feel free to run wild with your favourite add ins – lemon zest, seeds and nuts would all work great.
  • To make one flax egg, combine 1 tbsp flaxseed (linseed) meal with 2 tbsp boiling water. Whisk with a fork and set aside for 10-15 minutes before using.

ingredients

  • 1 cup (160 g) wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 cup (130 g) light spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) organic panela sugar (evaporated cane juice)
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted (plus extra for greasing)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup frozen blackberries

Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F) – no fan. Prepare flax eggs. Using some extra coconut oil, grease your tin.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder. Add the sugar to the flour mixture and whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together flax eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla and applesauce. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and stir until just combined. Spoon batter evenly into prepared mini loaf tin, and gently press blackberries into the batter. Bake for 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the loaves are a light golden brown.

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then gently remove mini loaves from the tin with a spatula. Can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.

lentil, quinoa + greens salad w lime + mustard dressing

lentil + greens salad w lime + mustard dressing

enormous pot of mint

It’s no secret that I don’t have the greatest green-thumb. In fact, I have a pretty great track record of killing plants. Combine that with the fact that we have a resident possum that loves anything green and leafy, and it makes it a little difficult to grow anything super delicious. But, I’m making progress I think – so far, the rosemary, chives, lemon balm and mint are all still standing. And oh my, the mint. I have so. damn. much. of it. It’s never-ending.

But really, this isn’t a post totally about mint, it’s about this salad. Because as much as I love mint on its own, mint does really special things when it’s combined with parsley and lentils and a delectable dressing.

I made this salad on the weekend for the very fancy Hannah’s birthday get-together. I wanted a salad that was sturdy, that likes (nay, LOVES) dressing, that was filling, and wasn’t going to look like it had been sitting in a hot room (you know, that sort of wilted and sad look lettuce gets if it’s been in contact with dressing for more than 10 seconds?). And I think this one fits the bill (not to mention that it’s completely allergen-friendly!). That being said, if you wanted it would be delicious with some baked tofu, or roasted pumpkin, or sourdough along side it, if you so desired.

Lastly, can we just pause on the realisation that it’s December? Where in the world did this year go, sheesh. When I think back on all that’s happened this year, and all that I’ve managed to achieve, it truly, really, boggles my mind. Finally, though, work has basically wound up for the year – only two meetings this week and then I’m on holidays! – And I’m also now allowing myself to get excited for Christmas – last night we decorated, and I’m stoked to get into some serious Christmas cooking. Which reminds me – what would be at your ideal Christmas meal? I’d love to know, so please leave a comment below.

With big, relieved, almost-on-holidays hugs, H x

fennel heart
preparing the salad
mint 1
lime + mustard dressing
lentil, quinoa + greens salad

lentil, quinoa + greens salad w lime + mustard dressing
serves 4-6
recipe notes

  • Of course, feel free to substitute regular quinoa (or what about millet? or wild rice?) instead of the red quinoa if you prefer.</em?
  • If you like, adding some wholegrain mustard to the dressing would also be a stellar idea.
  • I’ve given the cooked measurements for both the lentils and quinoa – my advice is to make a big pot of both: use some for this salad, then sequester the rest away in your fridge for easy meals the next few days.

for the salad

  • 1.5 c cooked French lentils
  • 0.5 c cooked chickpeas
  • 1.5 c cooked red quinoa
  • a generous handful of mint, chopped
  • a generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 c pepitas, toasted
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, tops removed, fronds chopped and bulb thinly sliced
  • 1 spring (green) onion, thinly sliced

for the dressing

  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dry English mustard
  • sea salt and pepper

Start by preparing the vegetables for the salad, chop and slice away. In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients and gently toss. Prepare the dressing by combining the juice, zest, oil and mustard in a glass jar, securing with a lid and shaking vigorously to combine. (Alternatively you could whisk everything in a small bowl.) Taste the dressing, and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper to your liking. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss again to coat thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator until serving.