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Lemon Polenta cake with rosemary syrup

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Rosemary syrup drizzled lemon polenta cake
Rosemary syrup drizzled lemon polenta cake

During the summer of 2015 Lia’s Kitchen market stalls have consistently offered a zingy aromatic polenta cake with a soft but grainy texture.

The inspiration for this cake comes from the Greek revani cake and another cake recipe I once found in a ‘Good House Keeping’ little book of cakes and bakes back in 2004 when I was teaching myself to bake by following each cake & bake recipe of various cook books. Revani is traditionally made with coarse semolina and a soaked in a lemon syrup, usually served chilled. The rosemary syrup was one of the things that the ‘Good House Keeping’ book added to this recipe as well as the use of cornmeal instead of semolina. I decided to go a step further to make this cake fully gluten free by using gluten free plain flour. The scent of the syrup can be changed and past experiments of mine include lavender, basil, rosewater and well as orange blossom syrup (with orange instead of lemon in the cake).

Allow plenty of time for preparation as the cake requires 45 to 60 minutes baking. This recipe is for a large 20cm cake tin and sixteen portions. Half the ingredients and you can have a smaller cake which also bakes well in a bread or loaf tin.

 Ingredients

Makes 16 portions

  • 400g coarse cornmeal or polenta
  • 100g gluten free plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 800g caster sugar
  • 400ml water
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 Tablespoons strained Greek yoghurt (like Total)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • A sprig of rosemary
  • Enough oil or butter and plain flour to line  20cm round spring baking tin

Preparation

1.5hrs including up to1 hr baking time

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder and polenta in a bowl.
  2. Mix the olive oil, yoghurt, lemon juice and lemon zest well until ingredients don’t separate.
  3. Beat the eggs (and egg whites) with half the sugar until pale and creamy.
  4. Add the yoghurt mixture to the egg mixture and stir well.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Line the baking tin with fat and flour.
  7. Pour the mixture in and bake on 160-170 centigrade for 45 to 60 minutes (mid oven self).
  8. Simmer the washed rosemary sprig, sugar (400g) and 400ml of water for ten minutes.
  9. Remove the rosemary sprig immediately unless you prefer a strong rosemary aroma.
  10. The cake is ready when a skewer comes out clean from the middles of the cake.
  11. Remove and cover with a clean towel for ten minutes.
  12. Pierce cake with the skewer and pour the syrup over it whilst in the tin.
  13. Do this gradually in case your cake does not absorb all the syrup.
  14. Allow 5 minutes for the syrup to be absorbed.
  15. Turn out to a serving plate.


Lia’s Tips

  • If you have large eggs reduce them to 3 and add one egg white. Your mixture must be loose but not too runny. If it is too ‘tight’ when you stir you can add the extra egg white or some more oil and yoghurt. Alternatively you can always add more polenta and flour but this might change the texture of the cake when baked.
  • Keep the egg yolks. You can refrigerate for 2 days or freeze. Or you can make a delicious hollandaise sauce for a poached eggs breakfast.
  • If your lemon is quite juicy, you can add more to your cake depending on you taste or make yourself a nice cup of tea with lemon and honey to enjoy whilst baking.
  • If you are baking for someone with Crohn’s disease or severe gluten intolerance, double check that your polenta/cornmeal is actually gluten free. Some products are packaged in factories handling gluten which could spoil it for your or one of your guests.

Lia’s Kitchen meets Riverside Market Garden

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Lia and Poppy

About a month ago I started visiting the people who grow delicious food locally. It was a good reminder that the food we put on our plates and which many times is grown organically, is a hard labour of love. I walked and talked with Tom from Bleancamel Market and then Poppy and Debby from Riverside Market Garden.

Alongside with discussions I had last autumn with Poppy Nicol working with Riverside Market Garden these visits became the inspiration for a pop-up pie shop at Roath Farmers’ Market on 23 May 2015. This was a true collaboration with hardworking growers. The Greek pies we offered people used fresh ingredients from Riverside Market Garden, either picked or foraged from the farm a couple of days before the event. Blaencamel Farm also supplied some of their delightful rainbow chard.

We are nearing the end of a period called the hungry gap when new crops, such as for example potatoes and carrots, are not there yet or are available in small amounts. Instead of focussing on what we don’t have we looked around us to the delightful and nutritional greens that are available throughout May. This awareness of wild greens’ abundance has also been the result of on-going research into wild foraged greens that I spent my childhood eating and picking with my family. Catalan Chicory, radishes, dandelions, purslane, chard and beetroot leaves have been a staple of the Greek diet for years and indeed many restaurant offer these as a delicacy in inspired recipes with fish, lamp, cuttlefish or in plain refreshing summer salads. In the past year I have been making the connections between what grows in the place I grew up and the place I live. And I have been noticing that  many growers have been cultivating or even introducing some of these feisty crops into our diet.

My choice to make pies is not only because of my love of pie and my mission to make sure that everyone in Britain knows what a good homemade Greek pie tastes like, but also because wild green pies have something special because of their freshness – they always surprise people with the flavour and texture of their ingredients.

On 23 May we sold all our wild green pies and hopefully we helped people reimagine they can do with the food that nature gives them each season.

I have one message to leave you with- support your local growers, visit the markets they attend and order your precious life giving food from them where you can. Remember that fresh and organic also means nutritious and healthy. And of course as ever I would like to say: don’t forget to eat more pie!

Want to learn how to make Greek Pie?Contact Lia’s Kitchen for private cooking lessons, catering orders and bespoke pop-up events & dinners. Email liaskitchen@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Visit www.riversidemarketgarden.co.uk to find out more about your local growers. A weekly vegetable box scheme is delivered in Roath, for more information see here:

Our menu on 23 May included Nettle and green garlic pie, Chard pie, Chard & dandelion pie with chocolate mint and fennel leaves.

Savoury cornmeal cake

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photo 1

This is a recipe I have been playing with for years and I finalised it recently whilst delivering the Love Food Hate Waste campaign in Roath. I was looking for recipes in my notebook that can help people use their leftovers and what they have in the fridge/freezer. The savoury cake was one our roadshow freebies and was sampled at our last Love Food Haste Waste event on 10 Mach at Cardiff Students’ Union in return for pledges to take action to reduce waste.

It is a delicious recipe that can be adapted to help you use greens and smaller quantities of leftover vegetable. The batter can remain the same and you can be as creative and daring as you like with what flavours you create. You end up with an amazing tasty snack on its own or with some relish or chutney on top and a (gluten-free) substitute to bread which is fantastic with soups or a tin of baked beans.

Cornmeal is a basic ingredient for one of my favourite Greek breads called Bobota. Grated pumpkin and marrow with cornmeal and feta cheese has always been one of my most favourite bakes that my southern Greek Granma Vasiliki used to make for us. And five years ago the lovely Zoe English, of Bird to Market, handed over Nenneh Cherry’s cornbread recipe to me after my excited squeals on tasting it for the first time in my life. So this savoury cake recipe is born from all these influences and is fast becoming one my favourite things to make this spring. I have adapted it to be gluten free – through the use of gluten free plain flour. And with courgette and tomato season approaching and rainbow chard already on the tables at our Farmers’ markets I am very excited for the many versions of the savoury cakes you could be imagining. Enjoy!

 Ingredients (1 Bundt or other round 23-25cm baking tin)

  • 350g Plain flour, preferably gluten free mix
  • 250g Cornmeal (coarse or medium)
  • 4 tsp Baking powder
  • 80g Sugar (caster)
  • 100g Butter melted
  • 2 Eggs
  • 450-480ml Milk
  • 1-2 pinches of salt
  • Some extra butter and flour for lining the baking tin
  • 1 Small bunch fresh basil or other mixed or frozen herbs, including stems (around 30g)
  • 225g Cherry or mini plum tomatoes (up to 300g)
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 medium or 1 large courgette diced OR
  • 1 aubergine diced
  • 1 Medium courgette coarsely grated
  • 150g grated cheese, parmesan and cheddar mixed (or whatever you have available)
  • salt & paper to season

Olive oil for the frying

Preparation (1hr and 15 minutes)

  1. Prepare your vegetable mixture first to allow enough time to cool.
  2. Fry the sliced onion with a pinch of salt, cover and let to nearly caramelise whilst you prepare the rest.
  3. Dice the courgettes or aubergine and halve the cherry or plum tomatoes.
  4. Add the courgette or aubergine with another pinch of salt and fry for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and basil, stir and cover until all ingredients soften- for around 5 minutes.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Remove from heat to cool down.
  7. Grate the last courgette and the cheese.
  8. Mix the flour, cornmeal and baking powder.
  9. Add the rest of the dough ingredients and mix well so that there are no lumps.
  10. Add your fried ingredients, raw courgette and cheese.
  11. Pour into a lined baking tin and bake on 180 Celsius for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Lia’s Tips:

  • The batter should be moist but not too runny. You can add 450ml of the milk first and see if you need to add more after you add the tomatoes and vegetable.
  • You can use spinach and other greens such as Kale. Feel free to experiment with various herbs ad ingredients. Use what you have in the fridge and for inspiration on flavours look up focaccia recipes.
  • This is a great recipe for using those herbs that you have in the freezer or the ones that are about to go off in the fridge!
  • For a bread tin and smaller quantity of the cake halve the recipe ingredient.
  • The cake rises quite a lot and it keeps well in the fridge for about a week.

Pancake heaven

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Lia Moutselou:

Another pancake idea for today’s celebration. This one is more adventurous but so delicious. I also swear by the pancake mixture recipe in this entry. Never fails me. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Lia's Kitchen:

Shrove Tuesday is now gone but I’d like to think that pancakes can return to Lia’s kitchen before the next one in 2014.

Pancakes don’t always have to be overindulgent naughty treats. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I hope this post becomes a quick and easy pancake recipe reference and an inspiration for an alternative savoury filling.

This recipe was given to me by Dan Green who, hat’s off to him, makes the best pancakes I have ever had-he flips them and all that! I just followed his instructions to make the batter, made a filling with what we had in the fridge and watched him put the pancakes together skilfully for us.

Aubergine and fenugreek pancake filling ingredients

1 small aubergine, cubed in 2cm pieces
Half an onion finely chopped
Half a tin of chopped tomatoes
Pinch of cinnamon powder
3-4 handful fresh fenugreek leaves roughly chopped

View original 261 more words

Egg and Banana Pancakes

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egg and banana pancake

Pancake day is one of my favourite food calendar highlights. Spelt flour or buckwheat flour pancakes are on the top of my list. For your savoury pancakes nothing can beat a good galette bretonne with some melted butter in the mixture. As for fillings spinach, ricotta and sundried tomato and good quality cheddar and ham are two I always choose. And for my sweet tooth I can’t find two more satisfying than a chocolate spread and banana filling or a simple drizzle of maple syrup with cinnamon and crushed walnuts.

But today I am suggesting you try a different kind of pancake, without flour and one that can use those over ripened, even black bananas which you squashed forgotten at the bottom of your fruit bowl.

Egg and banana pancakes, as sung by Jack Johnson the troubadour of the surf, are a fantastic breakfast but can make a great gluten free alternative for pancake day. And all of our Love Food Hate Waste cooking workshop participants, who learned how to make those on 7 February, will tell you they are simple and quick to make. So don’t hesitate to give them a go.

Ingredients:

  • 1 mashed overripe banana(large)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-2 Tablespoon flax/lineseed ground (optional)
    Or
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut or almond butter (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Olive oil/butter/or coconut oil.

Preparation:

  1. Mash the banana well.
  2. Mix with the beaten eggs.
  3. Sprinkle the baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix well.
  4. If you are adding ground seeds and peanut butter do this last and mix well.
  5. Alternative just throw everything in a mixer/blender and mix well.
  6. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture to a slightly oiled pan.
  7. Cook on very low heat for up to a minute or until the edges seem set and the middle seems almost set.
  8. Flip with a spatula and cook for another 30 seconds max.
  9. Serve with crispy bacon and maple syrup, or fruit, yoghurt and honey.

Tips: You can add chopped or mashed fruit in the pancakes. The ground seeds or the peanut butter can help bind the mixture. Don’t worry if the mixture seems too runny. Just cook the pancake at a lower temperature until the edges of the pancake seem set and the middle almost set. You can prepare the mixture the night before and leave in your fridge ready for breakfast.

The savvy soup called Ribollita

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Have you ever looked at vegetable leftovers in your fridge or the seasonal mix in your vegetable boxes and thought: ‘What could I make with this?’. Have you every thrown away cooked vegetable leftovers? If yes this soup is for you. If not the soup is still for you so try it anyway.

In the past month I have been working with Green City Events to deliver the Love Food Hate Waste Cities Campaign in Cardiff through Roath based roadshows and cooking workshops. In this process I have been developing and revisiting recipes that can help people be savvy and healthy.

The lovely soups of Ribollita and Minestrone were my natural first choices because they are very easy to make and they can have as many variations as the people who make them.

Ribollita literally means reboiled in Italian. It is a Tuscan soup that uses leftover cooked vegetable and is eaten with stale toasted or grilled bread. You can make Ribollita with any seasonal vegetable at our disposal but the dominant ingredient should be a mix of greens and you should include some kind of cooked bean.

My Ribollita soup can be easily turned to a Minestrone with the addition of more stock or water and pasta or quinoa. This is a great solution if you have less vegetable or more visitors to feed.

On 7 February 2015 at our first Love Food Hate Waste cooking workshop participants prepared four different versions of Ribollita and Minestrone types of soup using different herbs to flavour it, different grains or pasta and mix of vegetables at their disposal. Why not love food and your leftover vegetable too by trying our soup?

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stick
    300 mixed greens
  • 150-200 g left over root vegetable/squash or potato
  • 2 carrots (around 160g)
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • ½-1 tin chopped tomatoes Or a couple of ripe tomatoes chopped
  • 1 can beans drained and washed
  • (280g) 50g rice/quinoa Or 100g pasta 2lt stock or boiling water
  • Herbs of your choice such as: 10-15 leaves of basil 1 teaspoon oregano Or 2 teaspoons thyme 3 bay leaves Salt & Pepper
  • Pecorino or parmesan cheese garnish (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Wash and chop all your vegetable and greens.
  2. Sauté the onion with a pinch of salt until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and herbs and sauté for a few minutes.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté for another few minutes.
  5. Add the root vegetable or potatoes and carrot and stir fry for a bit.
  6. Add the stock and simmer for ten minutes.
  7. Add the beans, greens and pasta and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  8. If you are using quinoa and rice add at the same time as the stock.
  9. Seasons with salt and pepper.

Lia’s Tips: the authentic ribollita uses recooked vegetable which you can add towards the end of the soup. Sage and parsley are another great combination of herbs for this soup. Kale, Cavolo Nero, flower sprouts, brussels sprouts, broccoli stalks and spring greens are some of the delicious leafs that you can add to your soup.

 

Pop pop pop goes 2014

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The last 2014 Lia’s Kitchen pop-up dinner took place on the last full moon of the year . On Sunday afternoon I ‘sat’ tired amongst boxes and paperwork reflecting on the two pop up dinners we completed this weekend. What a success!

Accounted for are a broken box (it happens), a broken gazebo (don’t ask), at least 30 to-S and fro-S between the shed , the living room and the car, hours of cooking , sorting , cleaning, thinking. And also one proud me and endless moments of contentment.

I begun and ended this year’s pop-up dinners at Penylan Pantry a deli/café that has livened up and brightened our area.  I have thrown five pop up dinners since May 2014 all exploring foods, cultures and recipe combinations that I love. It’s been quite the journey, fulfilling and always full of surprises.

The next immediate thing on the cards for me is slightly different in that it will involve educational waste awareness workshops to help people reduce their food waste. I will be working with two social venturers I respect a lot. I am very excited and proud I will be using my free time towards such a venture.

As for the future…it holds surprises that I cannot predict but I am sure there will be congregations as beautiful and warm as those of the last two days. So watch this space ! Get in touch! Don’t be a stranger!

Thanks to all who have joined our table and made these pop up dinners so wonderful. It’s the people who appreciate what’s offered to them and enjoy each other that create this wonderful atmosphere that seeps into our life and fuels Lia’s Kitchen.  

Thank you old and new friends who help make Lia’s Kitchen happen through your hard work -you know who you are. 

Happy birthday to the Penylan Pantry who is one today. Mel and Jo well done you are stars and thanks for hosting Lia’s Kitchen events.

Photos by Jo, Penylan Pantry, Dean Doyle, Lia’s Kitchen and Dan Green.