Rosemary, Raisin & Almond Crisps

Rosemary, Raisin & Almond Crisps | Fig & Honey

I don’t eat it all the time, but a gorgeous cheese plate with a good stilton or a lovely ripe french cheese seriously makes my mouth water.

For some reason though, the crackers usually miss out on the spotlight.  The truth is that cheese always tastes better with a good cracker.  None of those pure butter melt in your mouth things. A good cheese needs a substantial cracker, preferably with a hint of salt.

Rosemary, Raisin & Almond Crisps | Fig & Honey

This is why when I tasted Rock Creek crackers, I fell in love! Apparently the craze over these crackers has come and gone long ago and I’m only just discovering them.  I blame it on being away from the US for so long!

Since I definitely can’t get these in Germany, I needed to figure out how to make these at home.  After reading the ingredients and getting some online inspiration here and here, I decided to make a vegan version of these amazing crackers.

I love them with a bit of almond butter or even as a scoop for hummus. I bet they would also be amazing crumbled onto a savory soup as a crouton. This Fennel and Celery Soup would be perfect!

Rosemary, Raisin & Almond Crisps | Fig & Honey

Rosemary, Raisin & Almond Crisps

makes about 50 crackers

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in warm water till softened and drained
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, halved
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/8 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/8 cup whole flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C

Grease 2 mini-loaf tins with grapeseed or coconut oil and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  In the middle, make a well and add in the almond milk, brown sugar and honey.  Fold through until all the flour is incorporated into the liquid.  Next add in all of the fruit, nuts, seeds and rosemary and fold until just evenly distributed.

Pour batter into the mini-loaf tins and place in the oven.  Bake for about 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for a few minutes in the pans and then transfer to a cooling rack.  Once cooled, transfer loaves to the freezer and leave for at least 1 hour.

When ready, preheat the oven to 275°F/135°C. Then remove the loaves from the freezer and slice as thinly as possible.  I found a really sharp chefs knife worked a bit better than a serrated bread knife.

Place the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven.  Bake for a further 25-30 minutes until crisp and golden brown, flipping over once halfway.

Eat with cheese, hummus, almond butter or just about anything else you can think of!Rosemary, Raisin & Almond Crisps | Fig & Honey

Toasted Pappardelle with Mushroom Ragu

Toasted Pappardelle and Mushroom Ragu | Fig & HoneyGrowing up I used to think that pasta was largely a sauce filled affair.  The sauce was always heavy on the list of ingredients and almost a meal in itself.  The pasta just served as a vehicle to get it into your mouth and the shapes never made much of a difference, they all seemed to taste the same anyway.  Only until later in life did I realize that I had it all wrong.

Over the past two years I’ve spent quite a lot of time traveling all over Italy and being more and more amazed by the food.  There are two things that I cannot resist – a hearty bowl of pasta and a wood fired pizza.  Both of which are done best in this country in Europe’s south.  I did learn quickly that my idea of Italian food did not do the real thing any justice.  Very much how Indian food and Chinese food in the west are inventions loosely based on the real thing.  Yes, similar ingredients are used, but somehow they never quite come together in the same way.Toasted Pappardelle and Mushroom Ragu | Fig & HoneyToasted Pappardelle and Mushroom Ragu | Fig & HoneyPasta was one of these revelations. I quickly learned that less is more in the way of pasta.  Often a 3 ingredient sauce packs so much flavor that I have no idea why any more ingredients would at all be necessary. The shapes of pasta are very much suited to specific sauces and they always seem to compliment each other perfectly.  One of my favorites has to be pappardelle.  Especially fresh pappardelle!  I love the wide noodles and how they soak up just enough sauce in every bite.  I think that they’re always suited best to ragu of some sort. Wild boar, lamb or mushrooms are always a good choice in my mind.

For this recipe, I wanted to change things up just a slight bit.  Instead of creating the pasta dough as usual, I toasted a small portion of the flour beforehand and incorporated that into the final dough.  The result was a lightly nutty flavor which really compliments the mushrooms. As for the mushrooms, I mixed and matched whatever I could find.  A few cremini, shiitake, portobello and white mushrooms were what I had on hand that day, however, when they are in season, chanterelles would be lovely too.

Toasted Pappardelle and Mushroom Ragu | Fig & Honey

Toasted Pappardelle with Mushroom Ragu

Serves 4

Pappardelle

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 6 large eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Mushroom Ragu

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 16 oz mixed mushrooms (cremini portobello, white button, shiitake), quartered/ cut to similar sizes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • large pinch red chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

Get started with the pappardelle first.  Heat the oven to 375°F/ 190°C. In a large bowl, sift together the all purpose flour and semolina flour.  Take 1 cup of the flour mixture and evenly distribute onto a baking sheet. Place into the oven and roast for about 20 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool completely and then mix together with the remainder of the combined flour mixture.

Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs, salt and olive oil.  Using a fork to start, whisk the eggs and gradually combine the wet and dry ingredients – changing to a spoon or your hands as the mixture gets thicker.  Once combined, remove from the bowl on to a clean, flat surface and knead until smooth and elastic. About 4-5 minutes.

Cut the dough into 6 even sections and place back into a covered bowl until ready to use.  The dough at this point can be rolled and shaped, refrigerated for a couple days or frozen for a couple months.  Using a pasta roller, roll out the dough into long sheets. The dough should be thin enough to see your fingers through. Usually the second to last setting will get you this result.  Don’t be afraid to use lots of semolina flour so things don’t stick.  Cut into 3/4 inch / 2 cm wide sections and dust generously with semolina flour and place on a covered baking sheet.  Continue the process with the rest of the dough and cover until ready to eat.  At this point, the pasta can be refrigerated or frozen to be used at a later time*.

For the mushroom ragu, heat a wide sauté pan to high heat and add the olive oil.  Add in the onions and sauté until soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for a further 6-8 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are lightly browned.  Add in the chili flakes, thyme, garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Next, add the vegetable stock and turn down the heat to medium.  Simmer until the liquid has reduced by over half.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While the ragu is cooking, heat a large pot full of water to boiling.  Add a few generous pinches of salt.  Cook the pappardelle till al dente in batches making sure there is plenty of water for the pasta to move around in.  Immediately toss with the pasta and eat while hot.  Garnish with parmesan or a few sprigs of thyme.

*this recipe makes more pappardelle than you will need.  Freeze the rest for next time or refrigerate for another day. It tastes great as leftovers or a quick meal when you have little time!

Toasted Pappardelle and Mushroom Ragu | Fig & Honey

Cardamom & Coconut Semolina Porridge

Cardamom and Coconut Semolina Porridge | Fig & HoneySomehow I’ve found myself back in the freezing cold of America’s Midwest. Originally I came to join my husband on his business trip, but that all went a bit wrong and now I find myself here for two weeks without him.  This is less than ideal, but sometimes you can plan all you want but things won’t always turn out how you wish. There is however, an upside. I was able to well and truly surprise my mother for her birthday and now have two weeks to spend with my family and friends. I suppose everything happens for a reason.

The only thing is that is ridiculously freezing here. This morning we kicked off the day with a frigid -9°F (that’s -22°C for you metric readers). That’s not even including the wind chill which is brutal! At this point I’m thankful I have a warm house to snuggle in all day!

Cardamom and Coconut Semolina Porridge | Fig & Honey

When it’s cold, nothing beats a warming hearty porridge. It keeps you warm from the inside out and gives you energy to brave the cold! This porridge is a take on an Indian dessert that I love, but I’ve decided it tastes even better for breakfast! It’s made with toasted semolina which is lovely and nutty and filled with lovely warming spices like cardamom and ginger. It’s a perfect change from the usual oatmeal and goes perfect with the wintery wonderland just out the window.

Cardamom & Coconut Semolina Porridge 

Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coarse semolina
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (about 6 pods)
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 2 – 3 tbsp coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • sliced almonds to garnish

In a large saute pan, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the dry semolina and stir frequently until the semolina is golden brown and fragrant. Add in the ginger powder, cardamom, ground almonds, coconut palm sugar and coconut and stir to combine. Turn the heat to medium and slowly add half of the almond milk.  Stir until all of the milk has been absorbed and continue to add the milk and water alternating until all of the liquid is absorbed, cooking for about 5-7 minutes total.  The semolina should be completely soft and fluffy.  At this point, you can thin the mixture to your liking with milk or with water. I like my porridge quite runny and rich, so I added about another 3/4 – 1 cup more. Top with sliced almonds and eat while hot!

Cardamom and Coconut Semolina Porridge | Fig & Honey

Linen Travel Bags

Linen Travel Bags | Fig & Honey

I know it’s 2 weeks into the year, but I still can’t believe that it’s a new year.  I’m a tad bit slow this year to wrap my head around it. I suppose nothing really changes from December to January, it’s all mental. However, I like to look at it as a fresh start and a whole year to try new things. There are so many things I want to do this year- traveling to more nature based locations, exploring our city a bit more, calligraphy, foraging, woodworking, more knitting, sewing, the list goes on and on.

I realized that there is just so much to learn and owning things are so much more gratifying when you’ve spent the time to make them. I doubt I’ll go nuts and start making everything I own, but it’s nice to be able to say I’ve given it a go. These Linen Travel Bags were very much missing from my travel kit and make my life so much easier, so naturally they were the first thing I was dying to make!

Linen Travel Bags | Fig & Honey

As much as I love traveling, I absolutely hate packing. The only thing worse is unpacking. It turns into a very monotonous experience every time, which gets easier over time but no more exciting. One of the things that I absolutely love is having individual bags to put things in. Shoes, chargers, hair products, unmentionables, etc. It makes life so easy to have everything in its place. Not only is it easier to pack your bags, living out of a suitcase is so much less stressful!

However, I’ve never really been able to find something that I love. I’ve been using Baggu zip up bags for awhile and think they work great. The zipper keeps things in and the nylon is easy to wipe down. Unfortunately, they have discontinued these simple bags in neutral colors which makes things a bit difficult. After scouring the internet for a suitable replacement, I came up empty handed and decided the only way was to make them myself. How hard can a simple drawstring bag be?

Linen Travel Bags | Fig & Honey

Turns out, a simple drawstring is very easy, but if you want a nicely refined product (which I of course do), it takes a bit bigger of a skill set than I apparently have at this point in time. Not to worry, my mother was around to help me out and together we tried out quite a few things before we settled on these.

Since I’m not a sewing expert (yet! I hope to learn much more this year), I don’t have any specific instructions for these yet. However, this video and this video were immensely helpful. The other skills were that of my mother’s and a bit of figuring it out as you go. Apparently everyone in my mothers generation learned these basic skills while in school and unfortunately that was very much lost by the time my generation went through the schooling system. I do wish that I had learned such things, but I guess its never too late!

A few tips – 1. learn to sew straight 2. iron down things as you go, it will make sewing straight lines easier and result in a uniform product 3. practice, practice, practice.

Linen Travel Bags | Fig & Honey

I’m really looking forward to experimenting a bit more this year with all sorts of things. Hopefully I’ll learn a lot and have a house full of great products that I love to use! Is there anything that you’d like to try your hand at this year?

Florida Orange & Thyme Cocktails

Orange and Thyme Cocktail by Fig & Honey

Happy New Year! Time flies and I can’t believe that it’s already January 1st. Last year was one of my favorites in a long time.  My husband and I traveled to so many amazing places we lost count, spent lots of time with family and friends and sampled some fabulous foods along the way.  I’m grateful we’ve had so many amazing opportunities and such supportive people around us.

Orange and Thyme Cocktail by Fig & Honey

Right now we’re spending our last days in the states with family and really looking forward to an exciting new year ahead.  To kick off the new year, we’re drinking these delicious cocktails. Since we’re in Florida, we’re making the most of the abundant citrus down here and whats new years day without a little bit of bubbly?

Orange and Thyme Cocktail by Fig & Honey

Florida Orange & Thyme Cocktails

serves 2

  • 4 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • 3/4 cup of Prosecco
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • fine sugar to rim glasses (optional)

In a small jug measure out the orange juice, Cointreau and Prosecco. Dip the very tip of the rim of a champagne glass in the mixture and then into a small bowl of fine sugar. Rub the thyme between your fingers and place into the glass. Pour in the mixture and enjoy.

Orange and Thyme Cocktail by Fig & Honey

Cheers!

Fennel & Celery Soup

Fennel & Celery Soup | Fig & Honey

I find the holidays are a bit difficult when it comes to making good food choices.  There are just so many goodies everywhere I look, it’s hard not to indulge every minute of the day. For me, food and family time are incredibly intertwined. Spending time with the family means spending time in the kitchen or just enjoying all sorts of food together. Meals are always shared and both new and old recipes are tried and tested.

These days, since we only get to see our families once or twice a year, we’re always making up for lost time.  This means an abundance of my childhood favorites and things that only my mother can make. I’m quite sure the pounds are creating a nice layer around my belly at this point.  After a good couple weeks however, I’m in need of a breather.  A little detox from all the indulgent food and wine. Something light but still satisfying. This soup is the perfect solution.

I have to admit, neither fennel nor celery are my favorite vegetables. Sometimes fennel is a bit too sweet and aniseed-y. Celery is too watery and requires far too much chewing. Somehow though, the combination of the two really makes something special.

Fennel & Celery Soup | Fig & Honey

This soup is perfect for this time of year.  Still wintery and great for the holidays but also a light and healthy option before the New Years eating starts! The flavor is rich but the soup is light. It probably won’t stand out in a crowd, but it will make your tummy happy.

I first tried this combination while in a cute cafe in Berlin. For me it was an unlikely combo but I ended up loving it. I’ve substituted potatoes for all the cream and think its a pretty healthy choice!

Fennel & Celery Soup | Fig & Honey

Fennel & Celery Soup

Serves 2

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 g white portion of leek, finely sliced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 200 g celery stalk, medium dice (about 2 cups)
  • 200 g fennel bulb, medium dice (about 2 cups)
  • 1 l vegetable broth (about 4 cups)
  • 260 g potatoes, small dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat with the olive oil.  Add the leek, celery and fennel and let sweat for 3-5 minutes, stirring often.  Turn down the heat to medium-low and cover. Let the veggies cook for a further 15 minutes or so until everything is softened.

Turn up the heat again and add in the veggie broth, potatoes and the white pepper.  Let boil partially covered for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are fully cooked.

Transfer everything to a blender and blend til completely smooth.  Pour back into the saucepan and thin with up to a cup of water.

Top with fried leeks if desired. Just julienne the leeks into 3 inch strips and flash fry in a shallow pan. Strain and place on a paper towel to soak up the extra oil.