I had a very enjoyable lunch this week hosted by Her Excellency Ambassador Souad Gueblaoui at the Tunisian Embassy ending with the most delicious cup of mint and pinenut tea. The Ambassador shared the recipe with enthusiasm. We are also looking forward to running another feature on Tunisian cuisine in a few weeks. The Tunisian kitchen has Mediterranean roots with many similar ingredients found locally and the recipes have proved to be very popular with our readers.
I made the tea at home today and used honey as a sweetener. The tea has no added milk and it is garnished with pinenuts. In Tunisia it is known to help with digestion and you will need:
2 tea bags of your choice
500ml hot water
5 teaspoons honey
A handful of fresh mint leaves
10 pine nuts
Steep the tea bags in boiling water for 5 minutes.
Filter the infusion to remove the tea bags.
Add the honey and bring to the boil over medium heat.
Turn off the heat. Add the mint leaves and cover.
Leave for another 5 minutes. Remove mint leaves heat again and adjust sweetness according to your preference.
Pour into small glasses and drop the lightly toasted pine nuts in.
You can have Tunisian mint tea warm or hot or make it less sweet if you wish.
I found the crunch of the pinenuts enjoyable with the contrast of the mint tea.
And Good Friday on the island is celebrated with processions in nearly every village with Easter being a more popular feast than Christmas here. This afternoon I made hot cross buns and I always use the same recipe, tried and tested every year from Delia Smith‘s Complete Cookery Course. You cannot go wrong with it.
You will need:
50g caster sugar, plus 1 level teaspoon
1 level tablespoon dried yeast
450g plain flour
1 level teaspoon salt
1 rounded teaspoon mixed spice
50g cut mixed peel
55ml warmed milk
1 egg, beaten
50g butter, melted
For the glaze:
2 level tablespoons granulated sugar
Stir a teaspoon of caster sugar into 150 ml hand-hot water, then sprinkle in the dried yeast and leave it is frothy.
Sift the flour, salt and mixed spice into a mixing bowl and add the remaining 50g sugar, the currants and mixed peel. Make a well in the centre, pour in the yeast mixture plus 40 ml of milk, the beaten egg and melted butter.
Mix it to a dough, starting with a wooden spoon and finishing with your hands.
Transfer the dough on to a clean surface and knead it until it feels smooth and elastic, around 5 minutes.
Pop it back into the bowl, cover and leave it in a warm place to rise. It will take about an hour to double its size.
Turn it out and knead it again back down to its original size.
Divide the mixture into 12 round portions, arrange them on the greased baking sheet, and make a deep cross on each one with a sharp knife. Leave them to rise once more, for about 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220°C
To make the crosses, form a paste with 50 g flour and 2 tablespoons water, then roll this out and cut into 5 mm strips. When the buns have risen, brush the strips with water to make them stick and place them on top of the buns along the indentations you made earlier. Then place the baking sheet on a high shelf in the oven and bake them for about 15 minutes.
While they are cooking, make the glaze by slowly melting together the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a pan over a gentle heat until all the sugar grains have dissolved and you have a clear syrup.
As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush them immediately with the glaze while they are still warm.
In this weeks’s Easter issue, we featured American Celebrity Chef Brian Emmett baking the island’s traditional Lenten cookies with his daughter Julia and it was awesome to have this tweeted by the Prime Minister yesterday on Twitter! Brian is certainly delighted and we are both looking forward to making many wonderful things to be enjoyed on both sides of the Atlantic as part of our American Mediterranean feature series.
And on Good Friday from the heart of the Mediterranean, we wish you a serene and peaceful day….