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 spice mix
makes about 1/3 cup
- 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.
- 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
- 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.