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.

mango coconut creamsicles

mango and coconut creamsicles

If summer in Brisbane had a flavour, I’m reasonably sure that it would taste like these creamsicles. Fruity, mango-y, creamy. I really, really, like these creamsicles. You know what I like even more? How smile-inducingly simple they are. There’s no need for added sugar, or topping up with liquids. Throw everything in the blender and you’re there. The perfect summer dessert, no?

A few weeks ago, my mum and I split a tray of lovely mangoes. And, for a few days, Adam and I ate mangoes at nearly every meal. Sliced over breakfast, creamsicle after lunch – heck, we even had Laura’s marinated cucumber noodles over a thick wedge of mango. The good news is, mango season is far from over (it’s not even officially summer yet). And I’m pretty sure that I’m going to spend most of this summer subsisting on LARGE quantities of fruit. Because as I’ve mentioned before, I do not handle heat well (yesterday it was certifiable disgusting – over 30 C (86F) and 65% humidity – needless to say I spent most of the day napping), which means that any food that is cold and only requires a minimum of peeling and cutting is fair game.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet today – I’m presenting at a conference on Thursday, and my paper is well, you know…(not even started)…so I’d better be getting to work. Big love to you all – H.

mango
mango too
creamsicles ready for the freezer
untitled
creamsicles in a row
best summer dessert
 
mango coconut creamsicles
makes 10
 
recipe notes

  • My popsicle moulds take 1/3 cup of mixture (which I think is pretty standard).
  • I’m going to be pretty insistent on using the vanilla bean directly. Extract isn’t going to cut it here.
  • You’ll also need 10 popsicle sticks – I can pick these up pretty easily from a newsagent or craft store.

ingredients

  • 450 g mango flesh (2 large mangoes’ worth)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1/4 lime, juiced
  • 1 can (270 ml) whole coconut milk

In a high-speed blender, combine all ingredients and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Evenly pour into your popsicle moulds. Freeze for 30 minutes, then insert popsicle sticks. Freeze for a further 2-3 hours, until fully frozen. To enjoy, run the mould under a little hot water to loosen the creamsicle.

basic chocolate cake + simple raspberry sauce

basic chocolate cake
simple raspberry sauce

This is a recipe that everyone should have tucked into their back pocket, their notebook, or bookmarks folder. A basic, solid chocolate cake recipe. A ‘no-fail’ recipe. Something that works, that can be built upon; dressed up or dressed down depending on the occasion. It’s not flashy or fancy. It’s not highly sweet. It’s the sort of cake that loves being slathered in sauces and yoghurts and ice-creams. It likes a few blackberries tucked in beside it, or a drizzle of maple syrup over the top.

Things have finally begun to slow down around here: classes have finished, and tutoring is done for the year; our German lessons have finished and the exam is done. A big, long, sigh of relief. We’re both settling back into our own research, and I’m finally starting to think about Christmas, and am having some lovely and exciting ideas. On the food front, I’ve been trying to be kinder to myself. When I’m stressed or anxious, the first thing I do is become incredibly rigid and restrictive with what I’m eating, which really, is the last thing my body or mind needs at that point. That being said, I’ve been avoiding most sugar after reading this book, and this cake is the product of the desire to make a cake without the syrups or substitutes I would normally use. (A little aside: I highly recommend David Gillespie’s Big Fat Lies: an excellent collection of the latest research surrounding sugar, health, and the debate over saturated vs polyunsaturated fats. Eye-opening stuff, peeps.)

Sweetened (only slightly) with some organic apple sauce, the cake itself is moist and fudgy, with a robust, solid crumb. A basic chocolate cake recipe, and especially a basically unsweetened one like this, gives you the opportunity to go crazy with the accompaniments. Here I went for a simple, delicious raspberry sauce (that is equally as good over some coconut yoghurt, or cashew cream – you get the idea, right?). But really, the possibilities are endless and only restricted by what you have in the cupboard. A date and tahini sauce. Blackberries and vanilla cashew cream. Macerated strawberries. Roasted strawberries. Blueberry compote.

So, go forth and eat cake! (And make this cake your own.) X

P.S. molly, ily is now on Facebook. Aside from blog posts, I’m also sharing links to articles, photos and other things I find interesting (and you might too!).

P.P.S. Totally not food related, but my incredibly talented friend Reana (of Reana Louise), made me a dress, and I’m wearing it over on her blog. (Please excuse the bad hair day, ha).

serious chocolate cake
basic chocolate cake + a simple raspberry sauce
cake time

basic chocolate cake

makes one 8 inch cake
adapted from 101 cookbooks

recipe notes

  • This is not a sweet cake – if you would like it sweeter, try adding 1/4 cup of your preferred sweetener. If you are using a liquid sweetener, decrease the amount of applesauce by the amount of liquid sweetener you add.
  • If raspberry sauce isn’t your thing, check out the body of this post for lots more serving suggestions.
  • 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

  • 2 cups (310 g) wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup (65 g) light spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup (50 g) cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 1 cup (250 ml) light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup (250 ml) unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F) – no fan. Line the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) springform tin with baking paper, and lightly oil the sides. Prepare flax eggs.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, cocoa, baking powder. 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 into prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out just clean.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, before removing the tin and cooling completely. Serve at room temperature, smothered in raspberry sauce. The cake will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

simple raspberry sauce

makes about 1.5 cups

recipe notes

  • This sauce is delicious over almost anything (yoghurt, icecream, granola, porridge).

ingredients

  • 150 g (1.5 cups) frozen raspberries
  • 70 g (5 large) medjool dates, pitted
  • juice of half a lemon

Using a large knife, roughly mince the dates. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine dates, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of water. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture vigorously while it heats – the dates will breakdown and form a thick, caramel coloured sauce. Add the raspberries and another cup or so of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Once the berries are starting to break down, remove the pan from the heat and using an immersion blender or normal blender, blend the sauce to until smooth. It should be thick but still pourable. Add more water until your desired thickness is reached. Store in glass jar in the fridge for 4-5 days.

the orange-iest salad + an article

blood orange and sweet potato salad

Today I’ve got something I’m very excited to share with you: a recipe to go along with my article that appears in Chickpea’s new Winter 2013 edition! Haven’t heard of Chickpea? It’s the sweetest vegetarian and vegan quarterly floating around – gorgeous photos, writing and so many amazing ideas! I’m so grateful and excited to be involved. If you like, you can grab a copy in their online store (for now, only the digital copy is available, but the print version should be out soon!).

I won’t spoil the gist of my article for you, but it’s a very Harriet-style musing on winter. When I started thinking about this piece, I really asked myself what signifies winter to me – what evokes its shorter days and cooler nights? Blood oranges immediately came to mind – they’re one of my favourite fruits, and I love them all the more for their limited season. You appreciate them all the more, I find.

This salad – something I find myself making regularly when blood oranges are in season – is seriously delicious. Filling, flavourful and also a feast of colour for your eyes – just check out all that orange! Need I mention that it’s packed full of nutrients? Probably not (even though it is!).

Wherever in the world you might be, I hope you’re enjoying the change in seasons. Here, winter has gone and we’re heading full-throttle into summer. I’m almost wishing for those cooler days again.

blood oranges
the orange-iest salad
chickpea
blood orange + sweet potato salad w blood orange citronette

serves 4

recipe notes

  • If you’re not sure how to supreme a blood orange, check out the instructions below.

ingredients
for the salad

  • 4 sweet potatoes (900 g / 2 lb)
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 c (45 g) pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
  • 1 c (160 g) cooked cannellini beans (tinned is fine)
  • 2 blood oranges, supremed
  • 4 stems of dill, fronds removed and roughly chopped

for the citronette

  • 1/3 c (80 ml) blood orange juice (from 1 orange)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (to taste)

Preheat your oven to 190 C (375 F) and line an oven tray with parchment paper. Quarter the sweet potatoes lengthwise, then cut into 2 inch segments. In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with rosemary leaves, oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto baking tray in a single layer. Place into the oven and roast for 35 minutes, until soft. Allow to cool slightly before assembling the salad.

Meanwhile, make the citronette by combining all the ingredients in a glass jar, seal with a lid and shake to combine (or whisk together in a bowl). Adjust seasoning to taste if necessary.

In a large bowl, combine roasted sweet potato with pepitas, beans, blood orange segments, and dill. Pour over dressing and mix gently to coat. Serve and enjoy.

how to supreme a blood orange

  1. Using a sharp knife, slice off the ends of the blood oranges, to reveal the top of the flesh.
  2. Turn the orange so one of the flat ends is down on the cutting board, and slice between the flesh and the pith, moving around the orange in sections, until the skin and pith is removed.
  3. Pick up the orange, and slide your knife between the membrane and flesh of one segment. Repeat on the other side of that segment, loosing it from the orange.
  4. Repeat step 3, working you way around the orange until all the segments are free from the membrane.

multigrain banana waffles w balsamic strawberries

multigrain banana waffles w balsamic macerated strawberries

Anyone who follows me on Instragram will be well aware of my deep and undying love of smoothie bowls for breakfast. And that certainly is not going to drastically change any time soon, but occasionally a little variety is wanted (and needed). So then enter the waffles.

In the last 6 months, waffle recipes seemed to be everywhere I turned (The First Mess, or Oh, Ladycakes, for instance). My waffle-hunger initiated, I had no way to satisfy my desire for waffles. As, alas, I had no waffle iron! Luckily, my marvellous sister-in-law, Amy, gifted us a waffle iron as a wedding present, and it’s been getting a pretty good work-over ever since.

There is something rather fantastic about a waffle: much more interesting than a pancake, it satisfies you if you’re craving cake, or muffins, or (in this case) banana bread. And: you can reheat them in the toaster. Need I say more?

I almost called these ‘banana bread waffles’ because of their insane similarity in texture to banana bread: they’re thick, and chewy, with the edges getting nice and crisp in the waffle iron. I used a blend of four flours shown in the picture below, l-r: wholemeal spelt, amaranth, quinoa and oat. Which makes these waffles super-powered multigrain waffles! They’re not overly sweet (I save the sweetness for the toppings) but perfect with a little maple syrup.

We had a killer strawberry season this year, which meant that everywhere you turned in my kitchen, strawberries were sneaking their way into our meals. Inspired by my strawberry riches, balsamic-macerated strawberries came to top these waffles. These super flavourful strawbs are all great with a dollop of cashew cream, or coconut yoghurt, and can add sparkle to any porridge.

Wishing you tummies full of waffly-grainy-goodness! X

flour power
amazing strawberries
waffles
multigrain banana waffles
multigrain banana waffles are ready to be eaten

Multigrain Banana Waffles

makes 16 waffles

Recipe notes

  • As I note above, these are not super sweet waffles – if you desire, double the sugar.
  • You can freeze leftover waffles, and reheat them in the oven. Alternatively, store them in the fridge and reheat them in a toaster.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup flaxmeal (ground flaxseeds)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 + 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 2/3 cup mashed banana (2 medium bananas)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine flours, flaxmeal, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon. Whisk thoroughly to combine. In a separate bowl, mix together almond milk, mashed banana and vanilla. Add wet to dry, whisking to combine.

Heat waffle iron or maker and prepare waffles, using about one heaped dessert spoon of batter per waffle, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Meanwhile, prepare the strawberries.

Once all the waffles are cooked, serve with macerated strawberries (don’t forget a spoonful of those amazing juices!), a sprinkle of flaked almonds, and maple syrup, if desired.

Balsamic Macerated Strawberries

makes about 2 cups

Recipe notes

  • These are delicious over almost anything (yoghurt, icecream, granola, porridge).

Ingredients

  • 250 g (1/2 lb) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stirring to coat the strawberries in the sugar. Leave to macerate for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate if not using immediately.