Friday, April 13, 2018

A Seasonal Delight - Wild Garlic Spring Hummus


Who doesn’t like hummus. It never ceases to amaze me that just cooked chickpeas, a few other ingredients and a couple of minutes in the food processor produces something so tasty. Yes, it is rather substantial but then again, it is also good for you. It seems that there are endless variations of hummus recipes. Some keep it simple, really just chickpeas, salt, sometimes pepper and a little olive oil, others are a bit more elaborate. For this Wild Garlic Spring Hummus recipe I like to use the basic ingredients – and most important of all – a bunch of really fresh seasonal wild garlic (aka ramson or bear´s garlic) from our garden. Wild garlic is available in April or May and is best harvested before the flowers appear.

This spring hummus recipe has a fresh, wild garlic flavor. Wild garlic gives off an incredibly pungent smell in the wild. Unlike common cultivated garlic, it's the leaves that are eaten rather than the bulbs. The taste is more delicate too, similar to the flavor of chives. The wild garlic leaves can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. Wether you buy some at the market or go foraging for wild garlic leaves, make sure to wash them well - some recipes also call for blanching the leaves for a few minutes in boiling water in order to tame the garlic taste somewhat but I do not really find that necessary. The garlic taste is subtle and elegant and just right with fresh wild garlic.

When you forage for wild garlic, you should always remember that the shape of the leaves are similar to some other inedible plants (such as Lily of the Valley or Autumn Crocus), so ensure proper identification by crushing some of the leaves in your hand. The tell-tale odor should ensure you pick the right leaves.








Wild Garlic Spring Hummus

Ingredients
  • 250g cooked chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained either use dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked the following day or use canned
  • 3 tbsps good quality tahini (sesame paste)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 50g wild garlic, washed, dried and roughly torn (you can also add a few fresh basil leaves to the mix)
  • 60ml olive oil (use a mild one)
  • sea salt and a bit of freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • some of the cooking liquid from the chickpeas or water

Toppings (optional)
  • cooked chickpeas; chopped wild garlic; chili flakes; sesame seeds; sweet paprika; olive oil; etc.

Preparation
  1. Put all the ingredients into your food processor.
  2. Process on high speed for 5 minutes or longer until the hummus is extra-smooth.
  3. Add cooking liquid or water until you have the thickness and texture you prefer.
  4. Add toppings and garnish as you please.

NOTE

This Wild Garlic Hummus is best served with a drizzle of olive oil and toppings of your choice as well as grilled flatbread or pita bread and grilled halloumi and olives.


See also my recipe for Wild Garlic Quiche (here) or Wild Garlic Potato Buns (here)


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Banana Cake with Oat & Spelt Flour


How do you like to eat bananas - some people will only eat them when they are yellow but still very firm, whereas others like them when they are very ripe with black skin. The black skin might look as if the banana has gone bad, but it is fine as long as the fruit was not bruised to start with. Peel off the black skin, and the flesh will still be firm, creamy and ripe and also amazingly fragrant.

One of my favorite things to bake with really ripe fruit is banana bread-style cake, such as Nigel Slater`s Black Banana Cake (here) - this recipe calls for really ripe fruits, hence the name of the cake. It seems that there are basically two kinds – either the dark, dense, sticky variety (usually a so-called banana bread) or the lighter cake-type loaf. The recipe in my post today is more of the latter sort, and makes a great teatime treat or accompaniment to an afternoon cup of coffee. It can be made in a loaf pan or a retangular cake pan, like your good old brownie cake pan, and although you could add all kinds of extras to a banana cake (like chocolate chips, chopped pecans, walnuts, or raisins), I only like to add some pure vanilla and a hint of cinnamon.




Once thing that is noteworthy about this recipe is the fact that ripeness doesn’t really matter for this particular cake. The common belief that bananas for baking should always be soft and freckled with brown spot does not apply to all baking recipes calling for bananas. This cake differs from the usual in that it is light, and most definitely banana cake, not banana bread.




Banana Cake with Oat  & Spelt Flour

Ingredients
  • 375g bananas (peeled weight) - about 4 medium sized bananas
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 100g white spelt flour
  • 100g oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I like to use Ceylon cinnamon)
  • 2 tps baking powder
  • a pinch fine salt
  • 180g superfine (baking) sugar
  • 8g vanilla sugar
  • 2 eggs (M), free range or oragnic
  • 4 tbsps sunflower or vegetable oil

Topping
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 tbsps natural raw cane sugar
  • some powdered sugar (aka confectioners' sugar or icing sugar) for the finished cake (optional but pretty)

Preparation
  1. Set the oven at 170C°.
  2. Line a square 20cm baking pan with baking parchment.
  3. Break the bananas into chunks, then put them into a bowl and mash roughly with a fork and stir in the lemon juice. NOTE: avoid the temptation to turn them into a purée, chunky is what you are looking for.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.
  5. Put the sugar and vanilla sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Break the eggs into the sugar, then beat, using the whisk attachment, for three to four minutes, until light and creamy. 
  6. Pour in the oil, slowly, with the mixer on a moderate speed.
  7. Fold the flour and baking powder into the mixture.
  8. Fold in the crushed bananas, briefly, taking care to distribute them evenly but without crushing them any further.
  9. Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake pan and even out the mixture.
  10. Peel the two bananas, slice horizontally and place the four banana halves on top of the cake.
  11. Sprinkle the surface with the sugar.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until lightly firm on top. 
  13. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to settle, in the cake pan, on a wire rack, for about 30 minutes.
  14. Lift the cake from the pan, then place back onto the rack and leave to cool completely. 
  15. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. NOTE: Although this cake is best eatenthe day it is made, it will keep for up to two days, covered well and kept in a cool spot.



Apart form the fact that you do not have to wait for those bananas to turn from a lovely yellow color to an ash like black color, what I love most about this recipe is that it calls for oat flour and white spelt flour - whenever possible I try to bake with different types of flour. As I love the taste of oats, always have, always will, I often replace part of the regular flour with oat flour, especially when the cake batter has a high moisture content.




It is so nice to see that spring has finally arrived around here. So, enjoy your cake in the afternoon or morning sunshine, if at all possible.