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.

diy: lavender bath bombs

bathbombs2

bathbombs3

Hello there!

So, somewhere in the depths of last weekend, I discovered design*sponge’s diy thread. Oh boy, do they have some great stuff in there! These little bath bombs immediately caught my eye – I love bath bombs (they’re so much fun – I can clearly remember the first bath bomb I ever got from Lush – it was blue with a map of the world in green – cool, right?!?!), but sometimes the cost just kills me. $6 for a bath?! You gotta be kidding me.

(That being said, I love getting bath bombs from Lush as presents, so, uh, if you ever feel like getting me a present!)

For my first foray into homemade bath bombs, I decided to go with lavender, because it’s good, and that’s undeniable. My mum has put in an order for ones scented with ylang ylang, so I’ll have to find some pretty petals to throw in as well. Also, I halved the amount in the link (and it still made four big bath bombs!).

I think they’re going to make lovely little presents for people (or for myself). An indulgence that is handmade and free of nasties (not to mention made from ingredients that are inexpensive and probably at your grocery store), is most definitely an indulgence I can get behind!

What you’ll need:

  • 1/8 cup citric acid
  • 1 1/4 cup bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salts
  • Lavender essential oil
  • 2 tbsp dried lavender buds
  • Witch hazel
  • Silicone heart-shaped mould (you could use any shape, but silicone is best I think)
  • Spray bottle (filled with the witch hazel)

bathbombs1

How to do it:

  1. Combine the citric acid, bicarb soda, Epsom salts and lavender buds in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly (I found my hands work best to get all the lumps out).
  2. Drop in 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil. Mix well again (the oil will want to clump, so for consistent scent this step is important).
  3. With the spray bottle in one hand, start spraying the mixture with the witch hazel, while mixing with your other hand. Go slowly – you don’t want the whole mixture to get too wet and start fizzing (hence ruining the fun), but you want to get it just damp enough so that it starts clumping together when you squeeze it.
  4. Pack the bath bomb mixture firmly into the mould. Leave to dry overnight.
  5. Carefully remove bath bombs from the mould. Enjoy!

 

diy: wrapping paper

wrappingpaper3Today I thought I share a quick little diy for wrapping paper. It kills me how expensive well-designed wrapping papers usually are (especially at Christmas), so for a little while now I’ve been decorating my own wrapping paper, which works out to be much more cost effective (especially when 10 metres of brown craft paper is only $3!).

What you’ll need:

  • Brown craft paper (cut to desired size)
  • Stamp
  • Stamp pad
  • Ribbon
  • Tag

wrappingpaper1How to do it:

  1. With the shiny side of the paper facing up, stamp the paper in an arrangement you’re happy with, as you can see from the picture below, I went for a ‘window’ pattern, but you can make it as close together or spread out as you like.
  2. Stamp your gift tag as well, then proceed to wrap and ribbon-up your present. Attach the gift tag, then tie a bow. You’re done!

wrappingpaper2It’s pretty rad when something that is cute and personal only takes 5 minutes. This gift was for a little girl, so I went for pink cherries and cranberry ribbon, but I’ve done ‘chicer,’ more grown-up versions with black swallows and black ribbon.

I’m still sick (boooo!), which has meant lots of rest and Flight of the Conchords – if anyone can fix me, Jemaine and Brett will! x

 

 

 

crochet: teeny tiny lemony booties

booties1 booties2 booties3 booties4Aren’t these teeny booties the sweetest things you’ve ever seen? I made them for my supervisor, who had an equally sweet baby girl at the end of November (I’ve just made them now though, so I hope they still fit!).

They’re done in the softest lemony baby wool. The pattern I used was missing the instructions for a whole row (frustrating, much? especially in a published book!), so I had to improvise the third row of trebles which begins to form the toe, which is why each booty is a slightly different shape. Oh well! I think it’s sort of endearing (I hope).

Anyway, these were super speedy to make (less than 2 hours all up I think), and I think they’re adorable.

You can check out my Ravelry entry here.

I hope your week is going lovely so far – I’ve been getting lots of work done at uni, and lots of knitting practice done as well! Now, if only the sun would come out.

Handmade birthday: Brown Sugar and Rosemary Walnuts

A few little snapshots of what I gave my Dad for his birthday last week. Heidi’s brown sugar and rosemary walnuts. In a jar, with a pretty label.

My Dad has a bit of a sweet tooth – he’s a fan of honey roasted cashews, and there’s always a packet at the back of his pantry, so he can treat himself with a handful (or two). So I made him these (they’re delicious, you should make them). And put them in a jar, and made a label (using a gift-tag design from this very talented artist). On the recipe front, I’d double the rosemary and leave out the dried figs next time (they were nice, but I don’t think really added much). Regardless, they were the perfect balance of sweet/salty and had a super satisfying crunch.

These are the types of presents that I enjoy giving the most – something I’ve made just for that person. I also really enjoy figuring out what to make them, how I should package it. For me, this is far more fulfilling than giving a pre-made gift (not too mention easier on your wallet). Whether it’s tomato relish and stone fruit jam at Christmas, or biscuits for a birthday, or even little tote bags or beanies for Adam’s nieces, making gifts is something I love to do. I’d love to hear about gifts you’ve made, or if you’ve gotten a handmade gift you love!