Wheat & dairy free almond cake

This simple cake is made with just five ingredients, it’s delicious, gluten-free, dairy free ( unless you choose to eat it with cream of course) and low on sugar. Most commonly it is made with ground almonds but I have made it with various nuts – almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, either on their own or a combination – and it is really delicious.

Ingredients:

3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

pinch sea salt

200 grams ground almonds (or other ground nuts)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (Regulo mark 4).  Grease a 9-inch spring-form tin and line with baking paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 2 tbsp. sugar until the yolks become thick and pale in colour, (appr. 1 minute). Add the vanilla extract, and set aside. Beat egg whites on medium speed until they become opaque – again about 1 minute.  Gradually add the rest of the sugar, and continue to beat until the egg whites hold medium peaks. With a rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture (no need to be gentle).  Scrape the remaining egg whites and about half of the ground nuts over the yolks, and partially fold them in.  While there are still a few streaks of white left, fold in the remaining ground nuts until the mixture is smooth, but be gentle so that it remains nice and airy!  Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and shake gently until the batter is level.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edges of the cake pan to release the cake.

I like mine with fresh berries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar, but ice cream, sorbet and/or cream work just as well.

Olive Flatbread – from Ali Benammar – Family Flavours

In my July 2014 newsletter I featured Chef and Baker Ali Benammar, whose cookbook ‘Family Flavours’ has now become my trusted kitchen companion. My olive flatbreads didn’t turn out quite as beautiful and perfect as the ones in Ali’s book. Also, after deciding to make them, I realised I didn’t have enough white flour, so mine were made of half white-half wholemeal flour and, I confess, I used half black and half green olives. Even so, they tasted absolutely delicious. I made a double batch, half of which I later placed in a bag and put in the freezer. They worked perfectly from freezer direct to toaster. So what I’m really trying to say is : make them, they’re fantastic!

Ingredients:

500g strong bread flour

25g sea salt

2 tsp olive oil

40g fresh or dry yeast

200g small pitted black olives

350 ml water

300g semolina (50 gms for dusting). (The semolina gives this bread a lovely crunchy crust)

Put all the ingredients in the bowl and knead for 15-20 minutes. The dough is ready when it is springy and not sticky. Dust the table top with semolina and roll the dough in it. I split the dough into small balls which I then flattened to be 1cm thick and placed on lightly floured trays (you can also use trays lined with greaseproof paper).

Cover the flattened dough balls with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190°c. Remove the towel and put the trays in the oven. Bake 25-30 minutes. Tap the top of the breads with your fingers. If they sound hollow and are a nice golden colour- they’re ready. If not, return to the over for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve hot, with olive oil for dipping and a beautiful salad on the side.

Lemon & Pine nut cookies/ Recipe & image by Yael Minkoff

Citrus season is here again. The credit for this recipe goes to Yael Gerti, an Israeli ‘foodie’ with many user-friendly and delicious recipes.  Personally, I love the combination of  lemon, butter and pine nuts, in sweet and in savory dishes (Try it with rice and/or chicken).

Ingredients
150 gr. cold butter. cut into cubes
100 gr. powdered sugar
grated peel of one large lemon
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups (210 gr.) white flour (I add 1/2 tsp Baking Powder)
1/4 cup (25 gr.) pine nuts.

To prepare:
Heat oven to 170° centigrade,  gas mark 5 (medium heat).
Beat together (in food processor or mixer) butter, sugar, lemon peel and lemon juice.
When smooth, beat in egg yolk.
Add and mix in flour (and BP if you are using it).
cover in cling-wrap and put in refrigerator for about 20 mins.
Prepare small balls of dough, press lightly onto baking sheet. sprinkle pine nuts onto cookies and press in gently.
Bake for appr. 15-20 minutes till slightly brown around edges.

I recommend preparing a double batch – they seem to vanish very quickly; and by the way, you can try them with orange instead of lemon – it also works very well.