Speculaas Granola & Clementine Cranberries

Granola and cranberries food blog the plain kitchen

I hope you managed to try the last spice posting: as predicted, the Caramel Slice from last week did not last very long in the house. Today’s little number is again heady with that gorgeous spiced mix; cinnamon & cloves: and whatever else they put inside their secret mixture. As I mentioned before, you can purchase the Spice Mix, and the delightful little wooden moulds for baking biscuits in, from The Speculaas Spice Company.

I’m currently having a bit of a granola moment, what with the rather indulgent five weeks of Summer entertaining and holidaying we have just had. Of course, throughout that time, I’ve been working as per usual, but I decided that I would at least allow my eating and drinking to remain in the holiday spirit- even if I was working. Of course, all good things can’t really last forever, and I have had to adopt a more restrained regime recently. Those who know me will know that there is never, ever any mention of diets or detox- I just cut down on everything, or swap a few things about. This granola is currently my breakfast choice- as opposed to the usual peanut butter and honey on toast combination (if you’ve never tried it- I urge you to do so- sublime). I serve the granola with full fat natural yoghurt, and the steeped, soaked clementine cranberries. Of course, you can use any other fruit, or any other juice too for that matter. This will keep in a sealed jar for about a week.

Makes about 10 servings

Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius

Line a slight deep baking tray with baking parchment


For the granola

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup hazelnuts, roughly bashed

1 cup pecan nuts, roughly bashed

3 tbsp pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp groundnut oil

60g salted butter, melted

4 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

3 tsp Van Dotsch Speculaas Spice Mix

For the fruit:

1 cup dried cranberries

Juice of 4 clementines


Mix all of the granola ingredients together, ensuring that the butter and oil are evenly distributed over all of the ingredients- use your hands to mix it all up.

Place on a lined baking tray, and in a preheated oven at 160 degrees celsius. Bake for about 15 minutes- keep on peeping at it, as you don’t want it to brown too much, or catch, and it is liable to do this as there are nuts and sugar involved.

While this is in the oven, get on with the cranberries. Pop them into a pot with the juice of 4 clementines, bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the fruit has absorbed most of the juice. Remove, scrape out of the pot, and allow to cool.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Serve with natural yoghurt- the soaked cranberries provide a large dollop of citrusy sweetness.

Sorghum Porridge with Cinnamon Maple Syrup

The Plain Kitchen food blog

It seems that as I am nearing the end of the annual challenge on The Plain Kitchen, the nostalgia has well and truly kicked in. I went to Devizes market on Thursday- I hardly ever go these days as time just doesn’t allow for it, but somehow things worked out and I was able to go. I spotted a South African flag flying at one of the stalls, and, along with all of the other bits and pieces I bought, I managed to find Maltabella at the South African stall. Maltabella is sorghum porridge; it is the gorgeous, deep chocolate colour you see before you, and has a wonderful smooth, yet slightly grainy texture. Now, the ingredients on the pack state Sorghum and salt- but the description says malted sorghum- which implies that malt may have been used in the process. South African labelling is not as detailed and exact as the British system- so I reckon if you are coeliac, this brand, Maltabella, may not be for you. You can, though, buy pure sorghum flour, and I really think this would work perfectly. I also haven’t lost my marbles completely- you may feel this is a rather Wintery recipe, but quite frankly I have needed a bit of comfort over the last miserable rain-drenched week.

Our childhood was Maltabella- cold crisp Winter days on the farm meant that breakfast was either Jungle Oats or Maltabella: we loved both, and mum, and Flora who worked for us in the house, both used lots of butter in the making of their porridges. Flora made way better porridge than my mother. She was such a huge influence on us growing up; a second mum to my brother Simon and I, and even more so after mum died. She was kind, and patient, and funny, and played rough and tumble with us- we adored her. She had been a seamstress in a factory, and was made redundant, and paid us a visit the week we moved onto the farm, which was one of the luckiest things to ever happen to us. Flora was Zulu; but crucially for my father, Flor spoke fluent English too, and my father could only speak a smattering of Zulu. So, not only did Flora help mum in the house, she was my father’s interpreter on the farm. Flora and my mum were exceptionally close, and she never got over the death of my mother. Even I, going through my childhood pain, noticed the sharp, inexorable hurt Flora experienced: and she was inconsolable.

As I made this, I thought so much of Flor. We would have had lots of melted butter on our Maltabella, and milk, so my addition of the rather extravagant cream is not really true to the original. It is so good though. This recipe makes 2 large bowls of porridge, with a generous helping of cream.

Serves 2


1 cup (250ml) sorghum porridge

1 cup cold water

About 400-500 ml boiling water

Pinch salt

Good knob of butter (about 20g)

For the cream:

200ml double cream

2 tbsp maple syrup

½ heaped tsp cinnamon


To make the porridge, use a heavy bottomed saucepan., and keep the heat fairly low. Add the salt and porridge and the 250ml cold water, and mix to make a slight paste. Keep stirring on a low heat for about a minute. Then add the boiling water gradually, whisking or stirring as you go, so as to discourage any lumps forming. You then need to turn the heat up a little, and stir the porridge to cook it for about 6-8 minutes. Add a little extra water if you feel it needs it: think about the consistency you want, remembering too that you are going to be serving this with cream. Towards the last few minutes of cooking, stir through the butter.

The cream is a very quick procedure: in a small saucepan, heat the three ingredients for about a minute, gently. Then remove from the heat.

Ladle the hot porridge into bowls, and ladle the cream over the porridge. Serve immediately.


Breakfast Salad

The Plain Kitchen food blog

Oh, we do love a chopped salad in this house. However, I may shock you, as the leaves used in  this salad are not those grown on the farm,  but rather one of my other favourites: baby gem lettuce. As you know, we may swim in babyleaf salad in this house, but I do still love a crunchy Cos or Gem lettuce: there is an unmistakeable and welcome fresh crunch to these leaves that this particular salad needs. Today’s recipe, true to its name, relies on bacon and egg- and potato for a bit of body. The key ingredients, however, are the gherkins, jalapenos and olives. Along with all of the other lovely ingredients, the sharp flavours of that magic trio just work beautifully here. I haven’t written down a dressing recipe- anything you fancy would work here: a vinaigrette, a sweet mustard dressing, or a ranch type of dressing; they’d all go well, so please just make it your own.


Serves 4, generously


6 rashers smoked streaky bacon

4 eggs, boiled and chopped

2 baby gem lettuce, chopped, or one large head Romaine, chopped

2 medium potatoes, skins left on, cubed into small cubes

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic microplaned

Maldon salt and pepper

About 2 jalapenos, deseeded and finely chopped

About 5 gherkins, finely chopped

1 cup olives, chopped

2 spring onions, finely chopped

About 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Half a cucumber, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

A mixed handful of basil and parsley, chopped


Roast the cubed potatoes: pop them in an ovenproof dish with the oil and garlic, toss well and roast on a high heat (180-200 degrees Celsius) for about 15-20 minutes until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Remove and set aside.

Fry the bacon first: or pop it in a hot oven. The key is to crisp it up so perfectly that you’re able to crumble it onto the salad. Discard the fat though- it’s not needed in the salad, but of course can be reserved for later use.

When you are ready to assemble the salad, layer everything on a large platter- however you fancy doing it is up to you. I tend to end with the crumbled bacon, and the herbs and dressing. Serve immediately, with a dressing of your choice.


Orange Sultana Muffins with Pecans

The Plain Kitchen

The soaking of the sultanas in the orange juice does wonders for them- and ensures you have a batch of muffins which stay fresh for a few days. I suppose you could use blueberries instead of sultanas- I have a feeling they would work just as well.

Makes 12- using those large “tulip” cases one can buy from the supermarkets these days.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius


250g butter

250g caster sugar

3 eggs

200g gluten free self raising flour

50g ground almonds

100g raisins or sultanas

Zest and juice of an orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

60ml sour cream

60ml full fat milk

40g or so pecan nuts, broken up


Line a muffin tin with your 12 tulip cases.

Soak the sultanas in the orange juice first: I pop them into a small saucepan, and bring to a gentle simmer, until the liquid has been absorbed by the fruit. Of course, this can be done the day before too. Once all the juice has been taken up by the fruit, set aside.

In a Kitchenaid or similar appliance, beat the butter and sugar for about 4-5 minutes- ensuring you scrape the sides well to incorporate everything properly. Mix the flour, almonds and baking powder together. Add an egg to the butter and sugar creamed mixture, beat gently, then add a third of the flour mixture. Repeat with the rest of the eggs and flour until they’re all incorporated.

Add the vanilla, zest of the orange, sour cream and milk and beat gently. Finally, stir through the soaked sultanas.

Spoon the mixture into your cases, and bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool thoroughly before removing the muffins from the tin.

Bacon and Potato Baked Eggs

The Plain Kitchen baked eggs

I do love a gently baked egg: these have tiny fried cubes of potato and bacon at the bottom of the ramekin, and are topped with bacon and chives. Bake them in a water bath for about 9 minutes at 180 degrees: you still want the centres to be runny. Of course, the addition of a little cream and parmesan is what makes these just so lovely: I’m posting the recipe for these today as they are a perfect weekend breakfast, or light Friday supper.

Barnaby also loved them (even the chives, surprisingly).

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Butter 4 little regular sized ramekins


4 eggs

4 tbsp cream

2 tbsp grated parmesan

1 small potato, peeled and diced into very small pieces

2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, chopped into little pieces

1 tsp olive oil

1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped

Maldon Salt

Good grinding black pepper

Small handful chopped chives


In a small non stoick frying pan, fry the little pieces of bacon in the oil for 4 minutes, until they start to crisp. After this time, add the chopped shallot, and saute for a further minute (you add the shallot at the end as it burns so easily). Remove the bacon and shallots and drain on kitchen towel. Leave the oil and bacon fat in the pan, and fry your little cubes of potato in this until they are done: this should take 5 minutes or so. Remove and drain on kitchen towel.

Mix the eggs, cream, parmesan and salt and pepper together in a jug.

Place a few of the bacon pieces and the shallots and potatoes at the bottom of your buttered ramekins. Top with the g mixture, then with a few more bacon pieces and the chives. Place in a small roasting dish, fill with water until the water is half way up the ramekins, and bake for 9 minutes or so. They should still be wonderfully wobbly in the middle!

Remove, and allow to rest for a minute before serving with teaspoons.