These easy Spiced Nuts are roasted in the oven with cumin, turmeric, brown sugar, soy sauce and lots of chilli. This recipe is based on one for Spiced Nuts in Sarah Raven’s brilliant Complete Christmas. However, I’ve changed the spices a bit, upped the chilli and substituted some of the other ingredients to make my recipe vegan.
I always need to have some kind of nibble when I have a glass of wine or other alcoholic drink. Sometimes, I go for crisps, sometimes olives or cheese biscuits, but my all-time favourite snack is nuts. This recipe for Spiced Nuts is fantastic because it combines a big hit of chilli, which I love, with the umami of the soy sauce, a hint of sweetness from the sugar and the based note of the spices. You can add extra salt when the nuts have been roasted but, in my view, this is not necessary due to the use of the soy sauce.
If you have only every eaten ready-roasted, salted nuts, I strongly encourage you to try roasting your own. It is so easy to do and means that the nuts are seriously crunchy and delicious. Also, like these Spice Nuts, you can add the flavourings that you love and control the amount of salt.
Marinated Feta with Garlic, Chilli and Fresh Herbs
I love this Marinated Feta recipe. For me, it is the perfect example of how by adding a few flavouring elements – garlic, chilli and fresh herbs – you can transform simple feta cheese into a truly memorable dish. It is so easy to make and it keeps for up to a month in the refridgerator. This is food preparation that anyone can do. It does not require any level of culinary skill but allows you to be creative with flavours and produce something that is tailored to your individual taste. Marinated Feta is also really versatile and is great as a nibble with drinks or on bread as a light lunch. It is also excellent for picnics as it can be transported easily in its own jar.
A cultural mix-up….
Clearly, Marinated Feta is not a traditional English dish but, using herbs from my garden, it brings a bit of sunny Greece to cooler northern Europe. One of the wonderful things about modern English cooking is the way it is influenced by cuisines from other countries which are absorbed and adapted. I think that this is what cooking and developing recipes is all about. In a strange way, this dish is actually inspired by memories of my rural English childhood when, not so long ago, access to foods from other countries was not so common as it is now. When I was about ten, a wonderful Greek delicatessen opened in my local town, bringing olives, dolmades, taramasalata and wonderful Marinated Feta to greedy locals! I loved the garlicky, herby feta and, many years later, tried to recreate it in this recipe.
… and the perfect recipe for experimentation!
I have made this recipe using garlic, chilli and have chosen to use bay leaves, rosemary and thyme as my fresh herbs. However, you can change the flavour combinations according to what you have to hand and what you think tastes good. Don’t like chilli? Leave it out. Love garlic? Put more in! If you have other favourite herbs, why not try them instead?
Feta Cheese, marinated with garlic, chilli and fresh herbs, takes minutes to prepare and keeps for up to a month. It is fantastic as a nibble with drinks or spread on bread for a light lunch. It is also great for a picnic as it is easily transportable.
150 g feta cheese
3 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Fresh thyme (to provide 2 tablespoons of leaves)
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)
300 ml good quality olive oil
Sterilise a 500 ml capacity jar by washing it in soapy water and then putting it in an oven at 120 C for 15 minutes.
Chop the feta into cubes of approximately 1 cm square and place them in the jar.
Tuck the rosemary sprigs and the bay leaves around the cheese. Strip the leaves off the thyme stems and add them to the jar.
Peel and slice the garlic cloves and add them to the jar.
If using, scatter the chilli flakes over the top of the cheese.
Fill the jar with the olive oil making sure that all the cheese is covered.
Put the lid on the jar and leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours, ideally several days, for the cheese to absorb the flavours of the garlic and herbs.
The marinated cheese will last for up to a month.
When you wish to eat the cheese, remove the jar from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. This will mean the oil is liquid and the flavours are fully developed.
Marinated feta is great on its own as a nibble with drinks. It can also be spread on bread as a light lunch. It is a good option for picnics as it can be easily transported in its jar.
Use this recipe as a basis and experiment with flavours that you like. If you don’t like chilli, leave it out. If you love garlic, put more in. You can alter the quantity and type of herbs used.
Thyme Cake – a brilliant twist on a plain loaf cake
This Thyme Cake is a basic lemon loaf cake to which is added the wonderful flavour of fresh thyme. As the name of my blog probably suggests, I love using herbs and spices in my cooking. They are a fantastic way of making your dishes unusual and memorable without having to use any particularly advanced culinary skills. You simply just add them into your dishes.
Fresh herbs are used widely in savoury dishes but I love to experiment with them in sweet dishes, such as cakes, biscuits and desserts. The recipe for this Thyme Cake was inspired by the success of another herb-infused cake, my Rosemary Cake.
This Thyme Cake, like my other loaf cake recipes, is very quick and easy. It is a basic lemon loaf cake, topped with drizzle, but the flavour is transformed by the addition of fresh thyme. The taste of lemon and thyme makes me think about Mediterranean holidays and sunshine!
This easy loaf cake highlights the wonderful herby fragrance of fresh thyme.
125 g butter
75 g caster sugar
175 g self-raising flour
4 tablespoons of milk
Approximately ten sprigs of fresh thyme (each about 5 cm long) plus a few additional sprigs to decorate, if required.
100 g icing sugar
Set your oven to 180 degrees centigrade or Gas Mark 4.
Grease a 450 g loaf tin and line the bottom with baking parchment or use a paper loaf tin liner.
Cream the butter with the sugar. (I usually soften the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave first as it makes it much easier!)
Gradually add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture. If it looks as if it is going to curdle, add some of the self-raising flour.
Once the eggs have been incorporated add the rest of the self-raising flour.
Add the milk and the grated zest of your lemon.
Remove the leaves from your sprigs of thyme and chop finely. Put half of the chopped leaves (about 2 teaspoons) into the cake mixture. The other half should be reserved for use in the drizzle.
Spoon the cake mixture into your prepared loaf tin.
Put the tin in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
While the cake is baking, put the juice from your lemon in a small bowl and add the reserved half of the chopped thyme leaves. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute. The idea is to heat the juice so that the thyme releases its fragrance. (If you don’t have a microwave, you can heat the juice in a saucepan over a low heat on the stove.) Allow the juice containing the chopped thyme leaves to cool slightly. Then combine it with 100 g of icing sugar to form a thick syrup.
Remove the cake from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over the top.
Leave the cake in the tin to cool completely before removing. If you try and take it out while it is still warm it may fall apart as it will be very moist due to the syrup.
You can decorate the cake with a few further sprigs of thyme.
Feta Quiche with Roasted Peppers is the perfect easy lunch or supper dish. The peppers are roasted to bring out their sweetness and combined with salty feta and anchovies which provide a big punch of flavour. If you are a vegetarian, or simply don’t like anchovies, salted capers are very good alternative.
I love roasted peppers! I roast my peppers by cutting them in half and putting them cut side down on a sheet of silver foil under a hot grill. Once the skin has blackened and charred, I wrap them up in the foil and leave them to cool. The steam from the hot peppers will loosen the skins making it easy to remove them. The process of roasting intensifies the flavour and sweetness of the peppers and adds an extra smoky taste dimension. I often use this method to produce a simple Roasted Pepper Salad but the it is also a great way of preparing peppers for use in other dishes.
So many peppers…
There are many types of sweet peppers available in stores and in farmers markets today. I particularly like the long, pointed Ramiro Peppers or Romano Peppers. These come in red, orange and yellow and are sweeter and, in my opinion, more flavoursome than the more common Bell Peppers. However, any type of pepper can be used in this recipe and any colour – red, orange or yellow. Just make sure you don’t use green peppers as they do not have the natural sweetness you need in this Feta Quiche.
….and so many quiches!
I make a lot of quiches and savoury tarts. In my view, they are one of the most versatile and useful dishes. They are easy to make and easy to divide into portions, they can be made in advance, they can be served hot or cold, there are a lot of vegetarian options which still seem to please meat-eaters and there are lots and lots of possible flavour combinations. Some of my favourites from this blog include Asparagus Quiche (early summer on a plate), Caramelised Onion Tart (a classic), Carrot Tart (a successful experiment), Garlic Tart (double garlic, what’s not to like?) and Beetroot Tart (love it or hate it!).
This Feta Quiche with Roasted Peppers and Anchovies is an easy lunch or supper recipe which can be made in advance and served hot or cold. You can use salted capers instead of anchovies if you are a vegetarian.
For the pastry:
275 g plain flour
125 g fat (I use a mix of half butter and half Trex as I think this makes the lightest pastry)
A little water
For the filling:
4 red peppers
Salt and pepper
1 tin anchovies or 1 tablespoon of capers
100 g feta cheese
100 ml double cream
Set your oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
Make the pastry. Put the flour in a bowl. Add the fat and combine – either by “rubbing in” by hand or processing – until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little cold water (2-3 tbsp) and shape the mixture into a dough.
Roll out your pastry and use it to line a 25 cm quiche or flan dish. Bake for 15 minutes in the oven to allow the pastry to “set”. This will stop the filling making it soggy and ensure that the base is crisp.
Next prepare the peppers. Cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the stalks and seeds. Place the pepper halves skin-side up on a grill pan covered in foil.
Place the pan under a hot grill for around 10 minutes until the peppers are black and charred. Wrap the silver foil that you used to line the pan around the peppers and leave to cool. The foil will form an envelope around the hot peppers and the steam that they give off will help to loosen their charred skins.
When the peppers are cool enough to handle you should be able to peel off the charred skins.
Roughly chop the skinned peppers and scatter them over your pastry case. Finely chop the anchovies and crumble the feta cheese and add these to the pastry case as well. If you are vegetarian, or just do not like anchovies, capers are a good substitute.
Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the cream, and beat until combined. Pour into the pastry case.
Place your quiche or flan dish in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.
This Feta Quiche can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.
Keywords: feta cheese, peppers, anchovies, quiche, tart
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