Yes, I’m back! And I have another review for you. This time, given we’re in summer holidays full swing, I thought I’d tell you about a little trip I took with the kids to The Phoenix, our local independent cinema. READ MORE
Maiyango is a restaurant (and hotel) in Leicester city centre. It opened 12 years ago and caused quite a stir because back in those days Leicester didn’t have many non-chains to eat in. In fact, Leicester was a bit of a foodie wasteland. And then Maiyango kind of led the way. I remember going not long after it opened and being impressed by the food and kind of Moroccan style dreamy decor. I took clients there 7 years ago for Christmas dos and secretly asked the bartender to make my cocktails virgin as I was pregnant. He kept my secret and no one was any the wiser. READ MORE
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So, as a disclaimer I should mention that I absolutely love the Phoenix. I have been a customer since, ahem, 1996. The Phoenix is an independent cinema and arts venue in Leicester where they show some mainstream films, some subtitled films, live streams of opera, theatre and dance as well as other arty exhibitions. It used to be based near to De Montfort University and Gateway College (where I did my A Levels) and was the place that first introduced me to the joys of a hummus sandwich. You could say it’s the longest and most fulfilling love affair I’ve ever had. READ MORE
Anyone who follows me on social media will know I am partial to a burger or two. I’d go as far as to say it’s my favourite meal.
When Meatcure first opened in Market Harborough we ate there as a family and LOVED it. It was a revelation. Interesting burgers, super hot skinny fries and excellent sides to pick at before the main event arrived. I was hooked. READ MORE
Leicester is in a state of high excitement; practically a frenzy. The last time this happened was when Sam Bailey won the X Factor. This time it’s an altogether more regal affair. Richard III is being properly buried. The correct name for this is ‘reinterment,’ but no one knows how to say that or indeed exactly what it means. Anyway, I thought I’d make something that good old King Richard might have eaten at a banquet whilst entertaining young ladies.
Now then, the recipe. I have removed the sandalwood and pepper to suit modern tastes a little more, but feel free to add 1/4 tsp of each if you wish. I do not know where you can find sandalwood, I have too many children and a husband who’s rarely here to be searching for it, so you’ll have to be your own google if sandalwood interests you. Oh, I also swapped mace for nutmeg. Mainly because it’s what I had to hand and it’s that bit stronger in flavour.
I have gone for an oven baked option rather than deep frying, however do fry if you can handle the calories and indeed, the stress of dealing with bubbling oil. (Bubbling oil… now that does sound medieval). I often have young children with me in the kitchen, so anything involving deep frying scares the hell out of me. I’ve read too many stories in the Daily Mail to allow me to deep fry without evacuating the house first.
20mls vegetable oil (or other oil you have to hand)
For the filling:
75g chopped dried figs (use scissors to chop)
75g chopped dried dates (use scissors to chop)
25g pine nuts
2 cloves, ground
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch saffron, ground
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 8 and line a baking tray with non stick baking parchment. Start by infusing the saffron in the cold water (for the pastry) and setting it aside for 10 minutes. In the meanwhile measure out the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl, mix and set aside.
Mix together all of the filling ingredients and divide into 9 roughly equal amounts and set aside. Make the pastry by adding the water (including saffron bits) to the dry ingredients until it just forms a soft dough, using your hand to pull it together – you will likely not need all the water, though it depends on the brand of flour you use – some flours absorb water more than others. Roll the dough into a sausage, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour. The chilling makes it much easier to handle, you can miss it out if you wish, but it’s a sticky dough.
Divide the dough sausage into thirds, then cut each third into 3 equal pieces. You should have 9 pieces of dough all of the same size. Roll each piece into a ball, squash the dough to flatten it and then place a heaped teaspoon of the filling in the centre. Fold the dough edges into the centre to completely cover the filling and pinch together, then roll between your palms to ensure the fruit parcel is a sphere shape. Repeat until all the dough is used up. (If the dough is very hard for you to handle then oil your hands first).
Now strictly these should be deep fried but as I am making these for more modern tastes and calorie controlled diets I suggest you place them on your lined baking sheet, brush liberally with oil and bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned. You can of course deep fry them in oil if you feel medievally inclined.
The original recipe says to eat these warm but I prefer them cold with port and cheese.
I’m a mum of 3 boys, a cookbook writer and also a finalist on the 2011 Great British Bake Off.
I’ve decided to record the recipes I use, partly to save them somewhere and partly in case someone else might like to use them...