Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Baklava (Vegan) - Suma Blogger's Network

For this month's Suma Blogger's Network post, I thought I'd make something sweet. As we're off to Greece for our holidays soon, I decided to make some baklava.

Baklava is a very indulgent Greek and Middle-Eastern treat, which usually contains copious quantities of butter and honey, but I've found that it's simple to veganise without losing any flavour.
  • 150g/6oz almonds
  • 150g/6oz walnuts
  • 75g/3oz hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pack filo pastry
  • 75g/3oz dairy-free spread/butter
For the syrup
Roughly grind all of the nuts in a food processor and mix in the ground cinnamon.

Grease a baking tin with some of the melted butter.
Line the tin with a sheet of filo, letting it drape over the sides of the tin. Baste with more butter and repeat several times until you have used half of the pastry.

Tip in half of the nuts and spread out over the pastry. 
Fold a couple more sheets of pastry and place them over the layer of nuts so they fit snugly in the tin. Baste with more butter.

Cover with the remaining half of the nuts.
Layer the remaining sheets of pastry over, basting with butter each time.
Finally fold the over-lapping sheets in to fully enclose the nuts.
Baste the top with the remaining butter.

Cut the 'pie' into small squares or diamonds, using a sharp knife, cutting through all of the layers carefully.
Bake in a pre-heated oven  at 180C/170C Fan/350F/Gas 4 for approximately 45 mins, or until the surface is crisp and golden brown.

Meanwhile make the syrup.
Mix all the syrup ingredients together in a pan and allow the sugar to dissolve on a low heat, stirring occasionally.
Suma Blogger's NetworkBring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool.

When the baklava is cooked, remove from the oven and poor the cool syrup all over the hot baklava.
Allow to cool in the tin at room temperature. Leave to soak in the syrup for several hours, before serving.


Integrity Statement As a member of the Suma Blogger's Network, I will receive a selection of complimentary products from Suma every two months, to use in recipe development, and will blog an original recipe for the Network.   
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Monday, 18 July 2016

Terre2Crete Olive Oil from Arnaud Gillet - A Review

Olive Oil from Arnaud Gillet
Well, I can tell you that it's not everyday that I 'm contacted by a French olive oil producer who lives in Crete and wants me to try his extra virgin olive oil, but that's exactly what Arnaud Gillet of Terre2Crete Olive Oil did! 

Ironically this was just after Brexit was announced, which made reflect on the number of European ingredients and cuisines we now enjoy in the UK, compared to pre-EU times. 

Regular readers will know that I use a lot of olive oil in my recipes and that I blog quite a few Greek recipes, so of course I was happy to oblige...
"My name is Arnaud Gillet. I am a producer of olive oil and I live in Heraklion, in Crete, with my Greek wife and our two children. Our olive trees grow naturally requiring only a minimum of maintenance. My work in the grove is to prune the trees and harvest the olive fruit. Our family olive oil is bottled in a certified facility here in Crete and then dispatched and stored in a storehouse in France. It is then delivered to your doorstep in just a few days by mail."
I was very impressed at the speed of delivery and the rustic and authentic packaging. The olive oil is also a good price for an artisan product, at just €10 per litre plus postage. When it came to the taste test, I tried the oil out on its own, in a salad dressing and in my cooking. As you'd expect from an authentic Greek olive oil, the Terre2Crete product was of a very high quality with a vibrant colour and a good pungent flavour. It was delicious on its own with some fresh, crusty bread to dunk in and was equally good in Greek dishes such as Boureki.

Arnaud also sent me some of his lovely olive oil soap and Greek oregano to try out, both of which matched the quality of the oil. The flavour of the oregano took me back instantly to my holidays in Greece!

For more information, or to place an order, visit Arnaud's website at My Olive Oil UK. 

 Integrity Statement
 I received the products pictured in consideration for a review . All views expressed are genuine.
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Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen - Review & Give-Away

New Holland Publishers
I don't actually blog many Italian-inspired dishes, but I do cook quite a few simple and rustic Italian dishes at home. That's why I was quite excited to receive a copy of The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen by Italian born author and journalist, Veronica Lavenia. This book isn't full of fancy ingredients and celeb-chef anecdotes. It's a book written with a passion for simple, healthy and easy-to-prepare vegetarian food.
"The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen represents the true contemporary culture of Italian homemade cooking that is both healthy and affordable for everyone."
The book is arranged in seasons, so is great for anyone who receives an organic vegetable box or has a kitchen garden or allotment. Not every recipe is illustrated, but each recipe is made from wholesome, fresh ingredients. Some of the specialist pasta shapes might be hard to come by in the UK, but I don't see why they can't be swapped for a penne, spaghetti or macaroni, if that's what you have in the cupboard!

Some recipes are vegan (or can easily be adapted by omitting the cheese!) and gluten free too, although, unfortunately, the recipes don't indicate this. Another small gripe, is the inclusion of non-vegetarian cheeses, such as Parmesan, but again, these are easy to substitute.

As usual, I had to try out several recipes, before posting my review. I really enjoyed eating the carrot and dried fruit salad as a side with the baked oven anellini. Both really easy to prepare using seasonal ingredients, but very tasty too.

If that's whet your appetite, I have a copy of The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen, published by New Holland Publishers, to give away.

Just enter your details on the Rafflecopter widget below and leave me a comment, telling me your favourite Italian dish. Competition closes at 12.00 am on Sun 10th July. UK ONLY.

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