Orange Olive Oil Cake

Orange & Olive Oil Cake
Recipe adapted from David Leite 

Last month I went to an event planned by Flavor Your Life  a campaign supported by Italy and the European Union  in support of extra virgin olive oil. The evening was filled with beautiful food and a lot of information about olive oil and how to make sure you're getting the best product. I spent a lot of time on their website, exploring their recipes and learning about extra virgin olive oil. There is a lot to learn!

"The campaign ‘Olive oil and olives – European quality’, promoted by the European Commission & the country of Italy and realized by Unaprol was launched to promote awareness and the consumption of European high quality extra virgin olive oil and olives, in partner countries, through the diffusion of appropriate information about the quality of the product, its organoleptic characteristics, its usage in cooking, traceability and European quality acknowledgments (Bio, DOP and IGP)."

This organization believes you should be educated and vigilant on the type and quality of olive oil you use. Make sure that the product is authentic with the proper designation or you run the risk of it not being pure olive oil. A little education can make the difference between using a quality product or an inferior one. Buyer beware.

We heard from two speakers that night. First was Robert Beauchemin, an olive oil expert who educated us on what to look for to make sure we get pure olive oil. Next was tonight's chef, Marcus Monteiro, the executive chef for Brassaii. Chef Marcus prepared all beautiful appetizers and delicious desserts for this evening using olive oil.

My favourite olive oils come from Greece, Italy and Portugal. I trust my suppliers and I also trust my taste buds. I use olive oil on a daily basis in my cooking so quality is important to me. I also use olive oil in my baking! It is a wonderful substitute for butter in baking and imparts a subtle but delicious taste. My favourite olive oil cake is this orange cake that I made for my recent Portuguese Supper Club. It was well received and I had many requests for the recipe. I serve this cake with an Orange & Honey Syrup but it is lovely on its own with just a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Try to find a fruitier tasting olive oil rather than a peppery one. I used a Cretan olive oil from Nisos Importing.


4 to 5 large navel oranges
1 lemon
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
5 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups fruity extra virgin olive oil
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling


1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and crank up the heat to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt and set aside.

2. Finely grate the zest of 3 of the oranges, then squeeze 4 of them. You should have 1 1/2 cups of juice; if not, squeeze the 5th orange. Also finely grate the zest of one lemon. Set aside.

3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the orange juice, juice of 1/2 the lemon and zests and whirl for a few seconds to bring the batter together.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 1/4 hours. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.

6. Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely, then place it in a covered cake stand and let it sit overnight. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar. If you leave it for longer than overnight, keep the cake in the refrigerator.

Almond and Orange Florentines

Almond and Orange Florentines
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

Delicate looking and so easy to make, these Florentines are a perfect way to end any meal or have with a cup of tea by a warm fire. Enjoy!

Makes 20 cookies

Vegetable oil for brushing
2 free-range egg whites
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon / 100 g confectioners' sugar
2 3/4 cups / 260 g sliced almonds
Grated zest of 1 orange

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F / 150°C. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper and brush lightly with vegetable oil. Next to you have a small bowl of cold water.

2. Put the egg whites, confectioners' sugar, sliced almonds, and orange zest in a bowl and gently mix them together. Dip your hand in the bowl of water and pick up portions of the mix to make little mounds on the lined pan, well spaced apart. Dip a fork in the water and flatten each mound very thinly. Try to make them as thin as possible without creating too many gaps between the almond slices. They should be about 3 1/4 inches / 8 cm in diameter.

3. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown. Check underneath one cookie to make sure they are cooked through.

4. Allow to cool, then gently, using an icing spatula, remove the cookies from the baking sheet. Store in a sealed jar.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie
Recipe by Dragon

I love apple pie any time of year but I especially love it in the Fall. The scent of apple pie baking in the oven and filling the entire house is such a joy. I like an apple pie that is not watery and has a flaky crust, so I spent some time getting this recipe perfect. Now, you can't just whip up the perfect apple pie. You need patience and some planning but it is worth the work and time. Enjoy!

Makes 1- 9inch deep dish pie


For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

For the pie:
2 pounds (5 to 6) McIntosh apples or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and slice 1/4-inch thick
2 pounds (5 to 6) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon white sanding sugar

Make the crust:
1. In a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Process until combined. Add the shortening over the flour and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 pulses. Add the butter pieces over the flour and process until the mixture resembles crumbles, about 10-12 pulses.

2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture and process until the dough comes together, about 10 pulses. If the mixture seems dry, add the additional water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse in between additions.

3. Divide the dough into two even pieces and flatten each into a 4-inch disk. Wrap the disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

4. Remove the dough for the bottom crust and let it rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before rolling it. On a lightly floured surface, carefully roll out the crust until it is 12 inchs in diameter. Fold dough in quarters, then place dough point in center of pie pan. Unfold dough and gently press dough into sides of pan leaving a portion that hangs over the pie plate. Refrigerate while preparing fruit.

Make filling:

5. In a large bowl, combine the apple slices, sugar, lemon juice, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Toss to combine well. Loosely cover the apples with plastic wrap and let them stand for 30-45 minutes. The lemon juice will prevent the apples from browning. Transfer the apples and their juices to a colander over a bowl to catch the juices. Reserve 1/3 cup of the juice. In a bowl the cornstarch and lemon zest.  Whisk in the reserved apple juice, make sure there are no lumps.  The juices will help dissolve the cornstartch. Transfer the apples to a large bowl and add the cornstarch mixture to it. Toss to combine well.

Assemble and bake:
6. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 425°F. Allow the oven to be heated to 425°F for at least 20 minutes.

7. Remove the dough for the top crust and let it rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before rolling it. On a lightly floured surface, carefully roll out the crust until it is 12 inchs in diameter.

8. Remove the pie pan from the fridge and brush the pie edges with a little water to help it adhere to the top crust. Spread the apples over the bottom crust, mounding them slightly in the middle.

9. Loosely roll the top crust around the rolling pin, then gently unroll it over the apples. Trim all but 1/2-inch of the dough overhanging the edge of the pie plate with scissors. Seal the edge by pressing the top and bottom crusts together, then tuck the edges underneath. Cut four 2 inch slashes evenly on the top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush the top crust and edges with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sanding sugar.

10. Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. At this time, if the edges of the pie are getting dark, cover the edges loosely with foil to prevent it from burning. Bake for an additional 40-45 minutes or until the juices bubble through the slashes and the pie is a deep golden brown. Rotate the baking sheet half way through baking for even browning. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.

Marinated Rack of Lamb With Cilantro and Honey

Marinated Rack of Lamb With Cilantro and Honey
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

The main for my Ottolenghi dinner was this gorgeous rack of lamb. To say that this dish is one of my new favourite ways of serving lamb is an understatement. Even if you don't like lamb, do yourself a favour and try these. You'll be converted. I cooked them to medium rare as per my guests wishes and it was buttery flavourful perfection. The sauce...oh the sauce. Enjoy!

Serves: 4-6

2 1/4 lb / 1 kg rack of lamb, French trimmed
2/3 oz / 20 g flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stalks
1 oz / 30 g mint, leaves and stalks
1 oz / 30 g cilantro, leaves and stalks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 oz / 15 g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 chiles, seeded
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup sunflower oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons water

1. Make sure that most of the fat is trimmed off the lamb, leaving a uniform thin layer that will keep the meat moist and add to the flavour.  Use a very sharp knife to separate the rack into portions of 2 or 3 chops.  Place in a non-metal container.

2. Blitz together all the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor.Pour them over the lamb and make sure it is well covered in the marinade.03 add marinade to lamb. Refrigerate overnight.

3. Preheat the oven to 400F / 200C.  Heat up a heavy cast-iron pan, preferably a ridged grill pan.  Remove the meat from the marinade and shake off the excess.  Sear well on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes, depending on the size of the rack sections and how well you want them cooked.

4. Meanwhile, heat the marinade in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes.07 heat the marinade in a small saucepan. Put the chops on serving plates and serve the sauce in a separate bowl.  Both the chops and the sauce can be served hot or at room temperature.

Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes

Herb-Stuffed Tomatoes
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

When I served these as a side dish for my Ottolenghi dinner, the tomatoes were at their seasonal peak and so sweet and delicious. The fresh herbs and saltiness of the olives made them shine. Enjoy!

Serves 4

4 medium tomatoes (ripe but firm)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
12 wrinkly (dry-cured) black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped capers
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (163 C). Trim about 3/8 inch off the top of each tomato and discard. Use a little spoon or a melon baller to remove the seeds and most of the flesh, leaving a clean shell. Lightly salt the inside of the tomatoes and place upside down in a colander, to drain off some moisture.

2. Meanwhile, put the onion, garlic, olives, and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium pan and cook on low heat for 5 to 6 minutes, to soften the onion completely. Remove from the heat and stir in the panko, herbs, capers, and some pepper. Taste and add salt, if you like.

3. Wipe the insides of the tomatoes with a paper towel, then fill them up with the herb stuffing, pressing down very gently as you go to get a nice dome of stuffing on top.

4. Place the tomatoes in a greased ovenproof dish and drizzle lightly with the remaining oil. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften. Serve hot or warm.

Prawns, Scallops & Clams with Tomato and Feta

Prawns, Scallops & Clams with Tomato and Feta
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

Now this dish is a party on a plate! Rich tomato sauce envelopes beautiful fresh seafood and topped with salty Feta. Don't forget to have plenty of bread on hand to mop up the sauce. You won't want to waste any of this sauce. I served this dish as the 2nd course of my Ottolenghi dinner. Enjoy!

Serves: 4


1 cup white wine
2 1/2 lbs clams scrubbed
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for finishing
3 1/2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes chopped, with some of the liquid
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 lemon
200 grams tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
200 grams large scallops
120 grams feta cheese, broken into chunks
3 green onions, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Place the wine in a medium saucepan and boil until reduced by three quarters. Add the clams, cover immediately with a lid and cook over high heat for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the clams open. Transfer to a fine sieve to drain, capturing the cooking juices in a bowl. Discard any clams that don't open, and remove the remainder from their shells, leaving a few with their shells to finish the dish, if you like.

2. Preheat oven to 475F. In a large frying pan, cook the garlic in the olive oil over medium high heat for about 1 minute, until golden. Carefully add the tomatoes, clam liquid, sugar, oregano, and some sal and pepper.

3. Shave off 3 zest strips from the lemon , add them and simmer gently for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Discard the lemon zest.

4. Add the prawns, scallops, stir gently, and cook for just a minute or two. Fold in the shelled clams and transfer ever thing to a small ovenproof dish. Sink the feta pieces into the sauce and sprinkle with the green onion. Top with some clams in their shells and place in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes, until the top colors are little and the prawns and scallops are just
cooked. Remove the dish from the oven, squeeze a little lemon juice on top and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Beet, Red Cabbage and Kale Soup

Beet, Red Cabbage and Kale Soup
Recipe by Dragon

Just look at the colour of this soup! Is it not stunning? I love this healthy combination of vegetables with just a touch of heat and freshness from the lime. If spicy heat isn't your thing, just leave out the chili but don't skip on the lime. You could also use chicken/vegetable broth in this recipe but I think the richness of a beef broth goes well with these strong flavoured vegetables. Enjoy!

Serve 6-8


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large beets, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 medium red cabbage, roughly shredded
4 cups roughly chopped kale
1 red chili, trimmed and seeds removed (if you like it extra spicy, leave them in)
8 cups low-salt beef broth
1 bay leaf
Juice of 2 limes 
Salt and pepper to taste
Greek yogurt for garnish
Lime wedges for garnish


1. Melt butter and oil in heavy large soup pan over medium-high heat. Add beets, onions, cabbage, kale, and chili; sauté for  10 minutes.

2. Add broth and bay leaf. If the broth doesn't just barely cover the vegetables, add some water. Bring to boil then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the bay leaf.

3. Working in small batches, puree soup in a blender (careful, very hot) until smooth. Return soup to pan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the lime juice. Serve the soup with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a wedge of lime.

Roasted Red Beet Salad

Roasted Red Beet Salad
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

This healthy and delicious salad is my new favourite way to eat beets. The sweetness of the beets and maple syrup is balance perfectly with the bitterness of the arugula. My friend Kathy planted and grew chervil just for my Ottolenghi dinner. I have the best friends. If you can't find chervil, you can substitute it with fresh parsley or tarragon or a combination of both.   Enjoy!

Serves 4

2 lbs red beets
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
6 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/4 cups chervil leaves plus more for garnish
4 cups baby arugula
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash the beets well and wrap them in aluminum foil individually. Bake in the oven for anything from 40-90 minutes, depending on their size. Check each one as cooking times can vary a lot: the beets should be tender when pierced with a sharp knife.

2. Spread the sunflower sides out in an ovenproof dish and toasted in the oven alongside the beets for 8 minutes, just until lightly colored.

3. Once the beets are ready, unwrap them and peel with a small knife while still warm. Cut each into halves, quarters or 3/4-1 1/4 inch dice.

4. Mix the beets with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Toss well then taste: there should be a clear sweetness balanced by enough salt. Adjust the seasoning if necessary, sprinkle with more chervil and serve.

Hummus with Lemon Sauce

Hummus with Lemon Sauce
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

The third appetizer for my Ottolenghi dinner was this gorgeous hummus. The hummus was delicious on its own but I loved it even more with the lemon sauce on it. The lemon and parsley make this sauce fresh tasting and vibrant. The green chili gives it a bit of heat. I loved the heat but if you'd prefer it not spicy, just omit the chili. Enjoy!

Serves: 6


1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 1/2 cups water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light tahini paste
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6 1/2 tablespoons ice cold water
Salt to taste
Pita bread for serving, toasted

Lemon sauce:
1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 green chili, finely chopped
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.

2. The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook between 20-40 minutes, depending on the type of freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.

3. Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste (I had to add a little more water to get the consistency I wanted). Adjust the seasoning if needed.

4. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

5. For the lemon sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Drizzle the sauce over the hummus and serve with pita bread.

Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds

Burnt Eggplant with Garlic, Lemon and Pomegranate Seeds
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

This was the second appetizer that I served for my Ottolenghi dinner and my guests couldn't get enough of it. The key to this delicious dip is to really char/burn the eggplants so you get a rich smokey flavour that is accented beautifully with the garlic, lemon and herbs. The pomegranate seeds look like little jewels in this dish. I served this with toasted pitas. Enjoy!

Serves: 4-6


4 large eggplants
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Seeds of 1/2 large pomegranate
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. If you have a gas range, line the base with aluminum foil to protect it, keeping only the burners exposed. Place the eggplants directly on four separate gas burners with medium flames and roast for 15 to 18 minutes, until the skin is burnt and flaky and the flesh is soft. Use metal tongs to turn them around occasionally. Alternatively, score the eggplants with a knife in a few places, about 3/4 inch deep and place on a baking sheet under a hot broiler for about an hour. Turn them around every 20 minutes or so and continue to cook even if they burst and break.
2. Remove the eggplants from the heat and allow them to cool down slightly. Once cool enough to handle, cut an opening along each eggplant and scoop out the soft flesh, dividing it with your hands into long thin strips. Discard the skin. Drain the flesh in a colander for at least an hour, preferably longer, to get rid of as much water as possible.
3. Place the eggplant pulp in a medium bowl and add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Stir and allow the eggplant to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour.

4. When you are ready to serve, mix in most of the herbs and taste for seasoning. Pile high on a serving plate, scatter on the pomegranate seeds, and garnish with the remaining herbs.

Sweet Potato Galettes

Sweet Potato Galettes
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

I'm a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and a couple of weeks ago I held an Ottolenghi inspired dinner in my home. The menu was hard to put together because all of his food is so beautiful.  These stunning Sweet Potato Galettes were the perfect start to my Ottolenghi inspired dinner or any dinner for that matter. These beautiful and delicious galettes were so easy to make. I served them warm but they are just as good at room temperature. Enjoy!

Serves 4:

3 sweet potatoes, about 12 ounces each
9 ounces puff pastry or 1/2 recipe Rough puff pastry
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
6 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
3 1/2 tablespoons aged goat cheese
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 medium-hot chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400*F Bake the sweet potatoes in their skins for 35 to 45 minutes, until they soften up but are still slightly raw in the center (check by inserting a small knife). Leave until cool enough to handle, then peel and cut into slices 1/8 mm thick.

2. While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, roll out the puff pastry to about 1/16 inch thick on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out four 2 3/4 by 5 1/2-inch rectangles and prick them all over with a fork. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, place the pastry rectangles on it, well spaced apart, and leave to rest in the fridge at least half an hour.

3. Remove the pastry from the fridge and brush lightly with the beaten egg. Using an icing spatula, spread a thin layer of sour cream on the pastries, leaving a 1/4-inch border all round. Arrange the potato slices on the pastry, slightly overlapping, keeping the border clear. Season with salt and pepper, crumble the goat cheese on top, and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and chile. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is cooked through. Check underneath; it should be golden brown.

4. While the galettes are cooking, stir together the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt. As soon as the pastries comes out of the oven, brush them with this mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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