Sharon’s sun-dried or semi-dried tomatoes/ recipe & image by Sharon Minkoff

A fantastic accompaniment and a brilliant way to make any tasteless tomatoes you may have taste absolutely delicious.

Firstly, make sure that all the tomatoes are healthy. Then simply cut them in half, lay them cut side up on a rack, and sprinkle on a bit of salt.  You can also add some fresh herbs if you have them – thyme, oregano etc. Then, if you are lucky enough to live somewhere hot and dry, put them directly in the sun and leave them there to dry for a few days.  You might want to cover them to keep the bugs off but make sure they are ventilated both underneath and above. Bring them inside at night so the damp night air doesn’t get to them.

If you don’t live in a hot climate then simply put them into the oven on thelowest setting for about 6-8 hours.  Test to see how dry they are and decide how you like them. You can dry them out completely or leave them slightly moist and chewy. It’s up to you.

Either way, unless you dry them out totally, you will need to store them in the fridge in olive oil. You can choose to add garlic or herbs at this point if you wish, but they really are wonderful just as they are.

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Mixed spicy nuts

Ingredients:
1 Large egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp grounder pepper
21/2-3 cups assorted raw nuts ( pecans, cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts

Preheat oven to 150c/gas mark 2 ( warm). Beat egg whites till soft and foamy ( with no clear liquid at the bottom of the bowl). Combine salt and spices and whisk into the egg white. Stir in the mixed nuts until well coated and psread in a single, even layer onto an un-greased baking tray.
Bake for 15 minuts, toss, stir and separate, reduce heat to 100 and return nuts to bake until medium brown, approx 10 more minutes. Place tray on a rack to cool and break up any nuts that have stuck together.

White bean dip

380g beans ( canned or freshly prepared) 1/4 cup (60ml) of the cooking or can liquid 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tbs chopped dill 2 tbs chopped parsley 1 tbs olive oil juice of half a lemon 1 tsp salt Additional olive oil, chopped herbs and pinch of Paprika to garnish   Place all the ingredients together in a food-processor and wizz to form a smooth paste. Adjust seasoning to taste. Place in your bowl and garnish with chopped herbs, Paprika and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with fresh rolls or hot Pita bread- delicious!!

Smoked Trout Paté with Tuscan Bread

Ingredients:

1 smoked trout

Juice of 1 – 1 1/2 lemons

2 heaped tablespoons of good mayonnaise

2 heaped tablespoons of full-fat cream cheese

1/3 – 1/2 cup whipping cream or 1/4 cup melted butter (or both if you are feeling very wicked)

Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Pick the fish off the bones. Be careful – trout is full of tiny, very thin bones, often best removed with tweezers.
  2. Blender or process with lemon juice as finely as possible.
  3. Add mayonnaise and cream cheese and continue to blend.
  4. At this stage you can either add in the melted butter, blend, put in little ceramic pots (preferably mike’s of course, with lids) and leave to cool, or add the whipping cream and blend until you have a smooth, firm paste. Then pot it. It freezes very well.

To serve:

Slices of bread fresh Tuscan from the oven, the recipe can be found in the ‘Bread’ section,Trout Pậté, freshly ground black pepper. Great with salted capers, lemon slices, cool dry white wine. Enjoy.

Sharon’s Granola/ recipe & image by Sharon Minkoff

“This Granola is the only reason I get out of bed in the morning!”
Basic recipe:

1 kg rolled oats or Gluten free rolled oats (not quick cooking ones)

1 cup oil

1 cup honey and brown sugar mix (or just one of them – I like the mix)

generous half cup dessicated coconut

pinch of salt

a few drops vanilla essence

​Additional extras:
Any mix of nuts or seeds:

Almonds, (my fav.) pecans, walnuts – your choice
Sunflower/pumpkin/flax/sesame (sesame is very good)
Dried fruits optional, to be added after cooking – cranberries, raisins, etc.
Mix all the ingredients – not the dried fruit – and spread on a baking sheet or flat tin.
I use parchment paper so it doesn’t stick. Bake in a SLOW oven – thats important –
320F/160C. Max. Cook for about 40 minutes or until its golden brown. Keep your eye
on it, give it a mix around from time to time but don’t break up too many of the
clumps because they taste good. Be really careful not to overcook or cook too hot– it
dries out.
Take it out and let it cool. It hardens when it cools.
Best, in my opinion, eaten with thick natural yogurt and fresh fruit especially
strawberries!

Sweet & spicy almond and pretzel mix

Ingredients:

2 cups pretzel sticks
1 cup raw almonds
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 150c ,gas mark 2 ( medium heat), line a baking tray with greesproof paper.  in a small pan bring butter, sugar, cayenne, and 1 tbsp water to the boil stirring constantly. Mix the pretzels and nuts in a bowl, pour the mixture over and toss to combine.
Spread the pretzels and almonds in a single layer on the tray, bake till the almonds are crisp ( approx 15 minutes) tossing occasionally. cool and serve.

Lemon zest baked eggs

If you like eggs as much as I do, this is a must and very simple. Versatile enough to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can prepare it the day before, keep in the fridge overnight and just leave it out for some 15 minutes so the eggs are at room temperature before baking. No excuse for all you guys out there not to give this is try, it’s dead easy!

Ingredients:

• 2 eggs
• 4 tbsp cream
• 1 tsp lemon zest
• 3 tbsp grated cheese ( chedder, gouda, parmesan)
• 1.5 tsp chopped herbs
• butter for ramekins
• salt and pepper to taste

(optional-2 tbsp chopped cooked spinach)

Preheat the oven to 160c/gas mark 3. Butter 2 ramekins well and pour 1 tbsp cream in each.  sprinkle 1/2 tsp lemon zest and 1.5 tbsp cheese in each, add salt and pepper to taste. crak one egg carefully and pour it into the ramekin ( make sure the egg yolk doesn’t touch the side as it will cook too quickly if it does). Pour the remaining 1 tbsp of cream over the top and scatter the chopped herbs. Bake for 12-16 minutes, so that the egg white is fully cooked but the yolk is still soft and a little runny.

Variations- if you want to make yours a ‘Florentine’ version add  a tablespoon of cooked chopped spinach on the bottom of the ramekin
If you like your eggs spicy, sprinkle some fresh chopped chilli on the top.
Serve with a small salad  and fresh bread, yum!