No knead Date and Apple Bundt

There is something I find so therapeutic about working with yeast and this week’s bake is worth trying out.

You simply need to mix the ingredients with a spoon for the dough before you go to bed, and the next morning you will wake up to a very springy, airy dough that feels so light to touch. Its amazing.

As much as I try to avoid processed sugar in most of my recipes, I find the best medium for making the most of your yeast is sugar. I know that there are alternatives but nothing achieves the same result.

No knead Date and Apple Bundt as seen on ONE TV

No knead Date and Apple Bundt as seen on ONE TV

For the Date and Apple bundt you will need:

200g dates
250g strong flour
6g instant dried yeast (around half a sached)
pinch of salt
100g sugar (and it also works well with 50g sugar and equivalent of 50g stevia)
3 tablespoons apple jam (I used local wild apples, homemade)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
125ml plain yoghurt
2 drops good vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 lemon

Chop the dates, add the flour, instant dry yeast, salt, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, yoghurt and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon, then bring together to form a loose dough. Lightly oil a large plastic or glass container. Place the dough inside the container and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Leave to prove overnight.

In the morning you will find that the dough has risen and more than doubled in size. Place on a lightly covered surface and bring together. Cut in half.

Grease a bundt tin and dust some flour in it.

Take half the dough and stretch it into a long cylinder. Bring the two ends together, join and drop into the bundt tin. On top of the dough add the apple jam and then with the other half of the dough repeat the process, pull to a long shape, join up the ends together and drop into the bundt tin on top of the apple jam. This means that you will have the apple jam as a layer between the two pieces of dough. Cover again with a clean dish cloth and allow to prove for an hour or until it doubles up in size.

In the meantime preheat the oven to 160C and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool. I topped my bundt with a light coating of warm honey using a pastry brush and sprinkled pistachios on top.

And with the absence of our two photographers this week during the show, Gino on holiday and Ian covering a news story, I took my bundt home to photograph at leisure. Too days later with the photos out of the way, I cut myself a piece and toasted it. Surprisingly the flavors were even better than when it was freshly baked!

Teatime by the sea, no knead Date Bundt

Teatime by the sea, no knead Date Bundt

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Simplicity is always best: grapefruit, walnuts, blackberries and mint with honey

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Although not local, these are Mediterranean blackberries and there is no recipe as simplicity is best always.

The grapefruit from the gardens of the Tunisian Embassy are massive without a hint of bitterness, full of juice, and as I think about it, I cannot help but visualize that peeled grapefruit, each segments so burdened with juice that it cannot contain the heaviness as it yearns to ooze all those natural juice to relieve someone’s thirst and desire.

Add some blackberries, freshly cut mint from the garden, local honey and top with unwaxed, unpolished totally natural walnuts. And the result, simply heavenly. nothing beats Mediterranean citrus and the flavors all the natural produce here.

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Puy lentil stew with local sausage (tal Malti)

I featured this on tv last week. Local sausage is delicious with flavors of dried coriander seeds, parsley and garlic. This puy lentil stew is also delicious without the sausage and if you are vegetarian, simply leave out the bacon. You will need:

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1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (finely chopped)
3 large cloves garlic
1 sprinkling of salt
2 rashers smoked bacon
250g tinned chopped tomatoes
250 grams puy lentils
4 local sausages (tal malti or if not on the island use Toulouse or a continental type sausage)
1 glass red wine
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
50 ml water
1 spoon tomato puree
2 spoons flatleaf parsley

To cook the lentils, soak them in water overnight. Rinse and place in a saucepan with a pinch of salt. Cover in water, bring to boil and simmer for about half an hour. Taste the lentils and if they are tender remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Cook the sausages in the way you like them. I grilled mine for this recipe, then allowed them to cool and sliced them.

In a spoon of olive oil, cook the garlic and onions in a pan on low heat until they soften. Add the bacon and cook. When the bacon starts to brown, add the puy lentils and wine. Stir and then add the tinned tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, add the tomato purée, ground cloves and half the parsley . Stir and remove from heat. Season and serve with the sausage slices on top. Garnish with parsley.

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This week I discovered the wonderful health benefits of cherimoya , a remarkable fruit

Simply Mediterranean, a weekday breakfast

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Simplicity is always best and nothing better than seasonal fruit in the morning mixed with fresh local yoghurt. If it is too tart for you add a teaspoon of honey or carob syrup.

Pomegranates with ruby red seeds, so full of antioxidants and vitamins, in season now and amazing as they are, with very little preparation and time required.

Prickly pears, the season nearly over …

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Prickly pear cactus plants this week are still heavy with fruit and it must be the most under-utilized fruit here. I am also guilty of not having made the most of them and i keep promising myself to try the paddles as an ingredient. The simpliest way to use them is by peeling them to extract their delicious sweet juice and if passed though a mouli you will get no bitterness from crushed seeds.

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On this month’s airline magazine, I featured more summer fruit.

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And if you have prickly pears in your garden, remember they are the last of the season, just for another week or so. Simply wear gloves and it is an effortless job. You will find recipes using prickly pears on this blog.

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(Prickly Pear Photo Emmanuel Croset)

How do you make Italian Apple cake with Rum ?

For a flavor of life in the Mediterranean this week, click here !

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Today on One TV, we feature Chef Daniele from Milan and he will be preparing Risottto Milanese (of course!) and a lovely Apple and Rum cake which is so delicious. This is his recipe for the cake. It is easy to make, light textured and delicious. You will need:

150g butter
125g sugar
150g self raising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs, separated
1 and 1/2 measures rum
3 tablespoons apricot jam
a few drops vanilla extract
2-3 apples, depending on size
Icing sugar to dust

Beat the butter in a mixer. Add the sugar and mix until it is white and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix until the batter is consistent. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Add the flour, baking powder and rum to the sugar and butter mixture and stir with a metal spoon. Finally add the egg whites and gently mix in.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured baking sheet.
Peel the apples, cut into slices and cover the surface of the batter.
Dilute 3 tablespoons apricot jam with 3-4 tablespoons of boiling water and brush the apples with the mixture.
Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 45 min and test with a wooden toothpick to check the if it is cooked. Take out anf allow to cool.
When the cake is cool sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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European Elections and Chris’ Eton Mess … (gluten free)

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This week’s paper

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Across the Atlantic, they say that Europeans do not care about the EU election as there is an estmated average of 43% turn out. And on the island we are expecting a turnout of around 72%. Europe matters to people here.

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And today we go to a different island in Europe and visit the UK. Chris now lives in Eastbourne and he is an amazing Pastry Chef specialising in butter and chocolate sculptures. His work on St George is just incredible.

As Chris’ work is so complex and unachievable to most, I asked him to prepare a very simple dessert especially for my newspaper readers which they could make very quickly and something from his adopted land, something very English. He produced a very delicious Eton Mess, created in the famous public school where the royal princes attended.

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And the story orginates many years ago about a meringue dessert that was salvaged after being accidently crushed by a dog and with no time to redo it, the Eton cooks served it crushed and mixed it with more strawberries and cream. Guests loved it so much that it remained on the menu !

For Chris’ Eton Mess you will need:

300ml double cream beaten up until stiff (i make it by halfing the cream and adding local yoghurt or greek)
Seeds from a vanilla pod
100g ready made meringues, broken up into pieces
One spoon sifted icing sugar
Strawberries, one punnet, washed, hulled and slices
Some toasted almonds

Beat the cream with the vanilla seeds until you have soft peaks.
In a bowl, mash half the strawberries,
To assemble, break up your meringues into a bowl — you can crush some of the bits into powder, leaving other bits chunky.
Ripple the cream and mushed-up fruit together, then sprinkle in the rest of the fruit and fold again.
Layer your crushed meringues and fruity cream in glasses, then sprinkle with the toasted almonds
Serve immediately.

And you can now see some more of Chris’ work… just amazing …

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On his wedding day with Vanessa …

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And yes, this is edible !

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Strawberry season arrives and we make jam !

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There is a quaint strawberry village in the north of the island where fat luscious strawberries are harvested from April and last through the summer. This island is truly blessed with all that is good in life. We can indulge in a feast of freshly picked local strawberries every single day from now until the end of the summer. And as I listen to a church choir signing Ave Maria outside in the street, I make my first batch of strawberry jam.

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Preserving fruit, capturing all that goodness in a jar, gives me a warm secure feeling.

You will need :

1 kg strawberries
1 kg sugar
25 g pectin
juice of 3 lemons

This recipe yields 12 jars of 150g each.

We picked the strawberries this morning and I think it makes a big difference to the flavor when the jam is made on the same day.

Wash the strawberries thoroughly, hull them and cut them in half. Remove any bruising and spots and do not use over ripe strawberries.

Place them in a large pot with the lemon juice and bring to a boil on moderate heat. Stir in the sugar and pectin and stir gently until the sugar has dissolved.

Bring the strawberries to a boil until it reaches setting point.

I used the saucer method for testing the setting point. Place a saucer in the freezer and test the jam by putting a few drops on the cold plate. If the jam wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it has reach setting point. If it is still runny, return to heat, boil and retest. The best color is achieved when the jam is not over heated for a long period of time and this gives you a bright red color, as strawberries are meant to be.

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Now you will need to sterilize the jars. Rinse them in clean warm water and allow them to drip dry and place upside down on an rack in the oven at 140C for half an hour.

Pour the jam into the jars preferably through a funnel. I wear latex gloves to prevent contamination. I poured the jam into warm jars while it was still warm.

If you are going to store the jam, I suggest placing a disc of waxed baking paper onto the jam before covering with a lid.

You will need to store the jam in a cool dark place.

The result is packed with flavor, pure compact strawberries in this tiny jar. You can taste the goodness. Even a spread on a plain slice of toast becomes an indulgent treat.

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A bright day, a beautiful choir outside my window and the summer is here to stay in the heart of the Mediterranean !

Prue Leith’s signature dish …. Muscovado Heaven (with canned peaches…double yum)!

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On my way to Jane’s I was so pleased to spot one of three original 1930 Bedford buses that still operate on the island.

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We’re celebrating my son’s birthday this evening and for dessert I made Prue Leith’s signature dish known as Muscovado Heaven. It is gluten free and so quick and easy to make. It is one of those desserts that looks like you have gone to a bit of trouble. You can leave them plain or add any type of fruit and you must also make them the day before you need them to leave them in the fridge overnight. This dessert will only work with muscovado sugar. A mere sprinkle of the sugar melts into a fudgy syrup as it absorbs the liquid in the dessert and hits a cold temperature. I went through a phase using Greek yoghurt but ordinary yoghurt also works and it is a fraction of the price. The combination takes you to heaven ….literally, hence the name …. Close your eyes and dream…

You will need :

Equal amounts of double cream and yoghurt
For 6 persons I used 500 ml of cream and 500ml of plain yoghurt
1 large can peaches
150g muscovado sugar

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Place the drained peaches at the bottom of the glasses.

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Whip the double cream and fold in the yoghurt. Pipe or spoon the yoghurt mixture into the glasses.

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Sprinkle the muscovado sugar on to the surface.

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Leave in the fridge overnight….

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The sugar will melt into a fudgy syrup, the combination is heaven….

Energy Balls with citrus zest (gluten free, no processed sugar)

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There is something so satisfying when you know exactly what your’re eating. I use a mix of dates, figs, prunes, added almonds and lots of fresh tangerine zest.

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These energy balls are very easy to make and a good activity with the kids. I coated half the balls in sesame seeds and the other half in coconut. You can also make a very large batch and store them in airtight containers or jars.

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You will need:
2 cups pitted dates, roughly chopped
2 cups coconut
1 cup figs
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup grated citrus zest, I used local tangerines
1/2 cup honey, I used local eucalyptus carob honey
1/2 cup chopped flaked almonds
1/4 cup fruit juice, usually I use orange but this time I used purple carrot juice
For rolling balls : 2 cups sesame seeds and 2 cups coconut

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You can use a food processor if you want a smooth even consistency but I always prefer different textures and defined flavors in my food and I used a food mixer fitted with a K beater.

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Place all the ingredients in your mixer and blend until you reach the consistency you prefer.

Using a tablespoon for measurement, roll balls between your hands.

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Line two dishes with a baking sheet and place the sesame seeds and coconut for rolling the balls.

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And the wonderful delicious result which you can store in the freezer or airtight containers !

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Click here for The best energy balls ever

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