So, it’s been a while since I last posted. Stating the obvious most likely. I’ve been running myself ragged getting the Spring 2013 range ready so I can finally start taking over the world. Every other aspect of my life has taken second place for a few weeks but I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now and I think it’s time to spread the love elsewhere. Whenever I’m this busy my kitchen world becomes one sorrowful broken record. The old faithfuls come out, week on week, caressing me reassuringly with familiarity and efficiency. Coriander Chicken Curry, Chili Beans, Parsley Pesto Pasta, Herb Pie, Chickpea Fritters and dirty old fish ‘n chip Fridays. Yee old faithfuls…how would I survive without you.
Inviting friends over for dinner always ups the ante when you’ve gotten complacent in the kitchen. A recent, memorable discovery is the legendary Madhur Jaffrey’s Saag Paneer…a more textured version of the well-known puréed spinach paneer. Her version, along with everything else she puts her magic touch to, is so much more impressive and interesting than any other spinach curry I’ve had. If you can be bothered getting your chop-on (it involves a bit of manual spinach deconstruction) it’s well worth the sore arm muscles the day after. I always think having a glass of wine on hand makes the chopping much more enjoyable. But then wine has that effect on most of life’s pursuits, let’s be honest.
Anyway, I did manage to make a seedy, nutty bread recipe I’ve been hoarding since I got back from Copenhagen. If you’ve ever been to Denmark you would have noticed that the Danes have a penchant for hefty, dense breads. I’m not a huge fan of malty, weight-a-body-to-the-river-bed loaves. I prefer a bit of levity interspersed with tasty seeds but without getting into supermarket fluff territory. I was surprised then, when my sister-in-law offered me a slice of what is quite possibly the most dense loaf I’ve ever encountered in my life, that I liked it immensely. The difference with this loaf is that it is essentially half a tonne of seeds and nuts held together with the binding brilliance of our friend the egg. It’s gluten-free so any density is comprised simply of protein-packed nuts, rather than flour.
It’s super easy to make, ridiculously healthy and really lets the flavour of the seeds and nuts shine to their fullest. The only downside in an otherwise pious recipe is that it is a little bit pricey to make. You could easily halve this recipe so you wince a little less at the checkout, but the full recipe does make two loaves which will last around a week each, depending on how greedy your family is. I usually make the full recipe and give one of the loaves away (polishing my halo in the process) but if you decide to keep both for yourself, wrap one in cling film and keep in the fridge.
A couple of things to note:
- be careful not to overcook. It won’t be the end of the world, but it will be a bit harder to cut without it crumbling back into the piles of seeds and nuts you started with (as with any recipe involving a high volume of nuts, I strongly recommend setting a timer).
- you could play with the quantity of the seeds and nuts to find a balance of flavours to suit your taste.
- slice as thinly as possible, 5mm or thereabouts, and eat as is with your favourite topping. No toasting necessary.
I’ve been meaning to try this recipe with the addition of cinnamon, or even finely grated orange rind. If anyone gives that a go I’d love to hear about the results…
NUTTY, SEEDY LOAF
150g each linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds – use whole
150g each almonds, walnuts – roughly chopped
1 cup dates – roughly chopped
5 free-range eggs – very lightly beaten (try to just break down the yolks into the whites without making frothy)
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon OR finely grated rind of an orange (both optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line two loaf tins with baking paper.
2. Put the seeds, chopped nuts and dates into a large bowl and turn a few times with your hands to mix together.
3. Add a pinch of sea salt along with the olive oil and the eggs (and spice or orange, if using).
4. Divide the mix between the two tins. Press the mixture into the tins and smooth flat the surface with a spatula.
5. Bake for 55 minutes until lightly golden on top. The mixture will be bubbling a bit.
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tins. When cool, use a bread knife to help ease the nut loaves out of the tins. Store in airtight containers.
Absolutely delicious served thinly sliced and topped with either goat feta or blue cheese and a drizzle of honey. Would also be delicious served simply with a light smearing of butter.