Tag Archives: Raisins

A Cake To Take Visiting – Orange, Almond and Raisin Cake

9 Apr

Wrapped Up and Ready to Travel!

Customs vary immensely the world over, but some are the same regardless of where you are. When visiting friends for a meal, a little gift is customary. If it´s home made, so much the better, especially if it´s edible.

My mum passed a recipe on to me when I was last in London. She thought it would appeal because the finished cake is not too sweet (she knows I don´t have a hugely sweet tooth), uses oil instead of butter (so much easier here where butter is rarely used) and contains ingredients which are local to Andalucía – oranges, almonds and raisins. Perfect, all I needed was a chance to make it.

Easter weekend was a mix of quiet and hectic for us. Saturday found us heading across the “frontier” from Málaga province to Granada, to a remote area to join some friends in their Cortijo for lunch and a walk.  More of the walk another day as I got rather carried away taking photos.

The cake was made the night before and was a huge hit. It´s very moist and is a cross between a cake and a dessert and would also be perfect served with whipped cream, crème fraîche or ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 150g raisins soaked in 50ml of amaretto (warm the amaretto and leave the raisins in soak for at least an hour) If you don´t want to use alchohol, a delicate tea would also be perfect for soaking.
  • 2 oranges (as bitter as you can find)
  • 4 eggs
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 150g ground almonds (I left mine quite coarse, it´s up to you how fine you grind them, this cake the cake a nutty texture and a rougher look on the top)
  • 150g self raising flour (or plain flour with 2 tsp baking powder)
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and line a 24cm springform tin.

Place the whole oranges in a saucepan of water and ensure they are covered. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or until tender. Blitz 1½ oranges until finely chopped, reserve.  Squeeze the juice from the remaining half orange then set the juice aside.

Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy then whisk in the sugar.  Fold in the almonds and olive oil then sieve in the flour then fold in.  Gently stir in the pulped oranges and half the raisins and pour the mixture into the tin, spooning the remaining raisins over the top of the cake.

Bake for about 60 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven but keep in the tin. Place the juice of half the orange and the icing sugar in a pan and dissolve the sugar.  Pierce the cake all over with a skewer and pour the orange syrup over.  Leave in the tin to cool then remove and enjoy.

PS. I think this would also be great made with polenta!

Orange, Almond and Raisin Cookies

11 Feb

I´m not a very sweet toothed person, but as soon as I decide to try and eat sensibly for a while to shift a couple of kilos, I find myself craving things I wouldn´t normally eat. Like cookies.

I came across a lovely recipe over at IamSimplyTia which I thought we be a perfect, not so naughty treat.  Of course, as soon as I set about making the cookies, I needed to adapt as I was short of some of the ingredients.

Here´s my adapted version for a guilt free but flavour packed snack.

Ingredients (makes 18 large cookies)

  • 2 mashed ripe bananas
  • ¼ cup of natural yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon of almond essence
  • ¾ cup of white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Put all of the above ingredients into a large bowl and beat until well blended.

Now add

  • ¾ cup of self raising flour
  • 1 ½ cups of oats
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • ¼ cup of almond slices
  • the grated rind of half a large orange

Mix well with a wooden spoon and place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180ºC and line 2 baking trays with ovenproof or silicon paper.

Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture on the baking trays and bake for about 25 minutes until lightly browned on top.  Leave to cool for fruity, nutty, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookies.  Thanks for the inspiration Tia!

Becuase of the changes I made these are best eaten within 48 hours – but I don´t think that will be a problem, will it?!

Roscón de Reyes – The Cake of Kings

4 Jan

A final post on Festive Food from me here.  The Twelve Days of Christmas come to an end on Twelfth Night, the evening of 5th January.  Traditionally in Spain this was the night to bake your Roscón de Reyes to be eaten the next day, Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of The Three Kings.

For the children of Spain this means polishing their shoes to be put outside, awaiting the arrival of the Kings to fill them with gifts.  I guess little gifts were the norm way back, although that has changed over time.  Naughty children were left Carbón, or coal….so get polishing and I hope you´ve all been good.

The Roscón is a light, brioche like sweet bread which is filled and covered with candied fruits and often split and filled with whipped cream or sweet custard.  Additionally it is traditional to bake or put into the cake a small trinket (it used to be a figure of the Christ child) and a dried bean.  The finder of the trinket in their slice was King for the day, and the finder of the bean had to pay for the cake!

This is the first year I´ve attempted to make a Roscón, but I was pretty pleased with the results.  I hope my neighbour is too as I am taking this over to her this afternoon as a little thank you in return for a huge basket of Persimmons she gave me.  Happy Epiphany to you all on 6th January!

Ingredients

  • 200g approx of sultanas, glacé cherries and candied peel, soaked in alcohol if desired (see my Boozy Fruits recipe)
  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 sachet of quick/easy blend yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150 ml milk
  • 100g softened butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Grated zest of one orange and one lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • To decorate – about 6 roughly crushed sugar cubes or 6 heaped teaspoons of sugar dampened with a few drops of water and thick slices of candied peel (see this excellent post on how to make your own over at Rufus´ Food and Spirits Guide) and some glacé cherries.  You will also need one beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of apricot jam diluted with a little water to glaze when the cake is baked.

Mix the flour, yeast and salt together. In a separate bowl beat the sugar, zests and butter until fluffy then gradually add the beaten egg, vanilla essence and milk.  It doesn´t matter if it curdles.  Now add the flour and knead to form a dough – if it is too dry, add a splash of milk.

Now add the fruits and knead for 5 minutes on a well floured surface with plenty of flour for your hands – things could get messy!  Put the dough into a bowl, cover and leave to double in size (about 2 hours).

Now knead again briefly and push a hole into the centre of the dough so that you can start to form a ring.  Imagine you are making a pizza doughnut with a hole in the middle.  When it is about the size of a large dinner plate, put it onto a lined baking sheet.  You can tuck the trinket/bean wrapped in foil under the cake now or put it into the cooled cake later if you are using. Note, next time I make one, I´ll make the hole in the middle larger as the dough rises quite a lot during baking.

Leave for about an hour until it has doubled in size and brush with beaten egg before pressing the candied fruit in around the top and sprinkling the sugar over.

Bake at 180º for about 45 minutes (check after 30 mins) and brush with the jam when it has cooled a little.  Leave to cool completely.  You can now serve it as it is or split it though the middle and fill with whipped cream or confectioner´s custard. Warning – this is a HUGE Roscón and will serve about 10-12 people.  It does keep for a few days, and if unfilled is also good sliced and toasted.

Adapted from a BBC Good Food Recipe.

Solomillo De Cerdo con Uvas Pasas y Pedro Ximénez – Pork Fillet with Raisins and Sweet Wine

3 Jan

A popular dish for special occasions is fillet of pork cooked in a sauce.  We are lucky that it´s not too expensive, so pork fillet is eaten fairly regularly in our house, but usually it´s just plain grilled and served with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.

Although New Year´s Eve was not the culinary delight we had hoped for, we had all rallied a little by the next morning, and my mum and I made this dish.  It´s actually quite simple to put together and requires no last minute fiddling, so a good dinner party dish if you have guests.

Ingredients (to serve 2)

  • One pork fillet
  • 1 large onion peeled, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons of raisins soaked in half a cup of sweet wine (bring the wine and raisins up to a simmer and leave for an hour or so or even overnight to plump up)
  • 1-2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon of cornflour dissolved in water
  • Seasoning
  • Olive oil

Start by seasoning your pork fillet all over and fry in a tablespoon or two of oil to seal and colour the outside then put the meat to one side.

Pour the wine into the pan in which you sealed the meat and warm it through, scraping up any meat juices as you go.

In a separate frying pan, slowly fry the onions until soft and transparent in some olive oil.  You can put a lid on to help them “poach”. When they are soft, put the pork fillet into the pan, pour over the wine and meat juices and a cup of broth.  Simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes until the meat is cooked through. You may want to add a little more stock as it is cooking.

When the meat is done, remove from the sauce and add a little blended cornflour to thicken the sauce slightly. This is optional, it´s up to you how liquid you like your sauce.

The fillet can either be served whole or sliced thickly with the sauce poured over. If you don´t drink alcohol, this is still a lovely dish made without the dessert wine, just plump up the raisins in extra stock.  With the wine the sauce is slightly sweet but tangy and savoury from the seasoning and stock.  Delicious served with boulangere or puréed potatoes or rice.

For another lovely version of this popular dish, check out Michi´s version here.

Easy Green Tomato Chutney

27 Sep

Something to relish....sorry, couldn´t resist it!

I hope I´m not too late with this recipe as I know there are plenty of tomato growers out there who will, no doubt, be left with some green tomatoes at the end of the picking season.  I, like many others, had some green tomatoes left from our first crop and decided to give this chutney a go, for the first time ever.

Some of the recipes I found had daunting lists of ingredients.  Finally I came across what looked like a straightforward one in Floyd on Britain and Ireland by the late Keith Floyd. I know the poor man fought with the drink demons at times, but I did love his programmes and his cooking style – always adding in a big dash of wine and a slurp for the cook.

I made very few changes to his recipe, and was pleased with the results.  Here´s what I did.

  • A thumb sized piece of garlic, peeled and grated (his recipe calls for it to be bruised and placed in a muslin bag with the chilies and then removed at the end but I left mine in)
  • 4 chilies (he calls for 8-10 and I think next time I´ll use more than I did as there was only a little heat with just 4) I chopped my chilies finely and left them in
  • 2kg green tomatoes, chopped
  • 500g apples (peeled cored and chopped)
  • 250g raisins (chopped but I left mine whole)
  • 625g shallots (I used onions) chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 500g  brown sugar
  • 600ml vinegar (he says malt, I used white wine)

Place all the ingredients into a large pan, bring to the boil stirring until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer until it has reached the desired consistency.  Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal.

Result – sweet and sour chutney with a hint of heat.  Perfect with cheese, cold meats, burgers….

Big Man´s Raisins

24 Aug

Now, this is not a cheeky post, so don´t go thinking I´m talking about anything remotely naughty. We´re talking dried grapes, White Muscat to be precise.

So, what is the difference between a Raisin, a Sultana and a Currant?  This question came up after a recent post for Banana Bread. I had absolutely no idea so off I went to check.  It seems Raisins are dried, seeded white grapes, usually Muscat.  However, the definition I found says that they are oven dried, but more of that later. Sultanas are dried seedless yellow grapes and Currants are dried, tiny, black seedless grapes.

Having mentioned that raisins are oven dried, I´m going to contradict myself.   Malaga is famous for its raisins which are sun dried.  In fact, close to where I live you can walk around some of the fields and still see the old style drying beds for the Uvas Pasas de Malaga – which is what this famous local product is called here.

They are used to make the sweet Malaga wine, in delicious rum and raisin ice cream, in sauces made with the Malaga wine for savoury pork dishes, and are particularly sought after over Christmas when they are eaten with almonds, walnuts, cheese and typical sweet local pastries.

So, when you´ve got a couple of vines dripping with more grapes than you can ever eat, what do you do?  Big Man decided that if I could sun dry tomatoes, then he could do the same with the grapes.

No, no…he didn´t need any help setting up the drying process – thank you very much.  And anyway, the table I use in the garden for my tomatoes was being used for its preordained purpose. 

No problem, a spare bathroom ceiling tile from some recent DIY was propped on top of my paella burner, and together with a couple of blocks of wood, an olive net (to protect them from the flies) and some washing pegs (to stop the net blowing away) a makeshift drying table was fashioned.  Who needs sophisticated drying nets when you´ve got top grade equipment like that?!

And guess what? It worked! Six days of hot sunshine later and we have our first batch of Uvas Pasas.  Not sure we´ll be able to hang onto them until Christmas, so as long as the sun shines, we´re planning on making a few more batches.

Big Man is justifiably proud of his raisins, but “shhh” – don´t tell anyone or they´ll all be wanting some.

PS. For another wacky way of drying fruit, check out this amazing post over at And Then Make Soup – it goes to show that where there´s a will there is always a way.

And a final PS.which is a big Thank You to Cecilia over at The Kitchens Garden and to Tandy at Lavender and Lime for passing on the Seven Links Challenge to me.  To see how I responded and to check out some of my previous posts, take a look at a post I did a few days ago…I was lucky enough to also be nominated earlier by Karen from Back Road Journal.

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