How are you?? Your post featuring the crustless quiche made with all deliciously fresh veg-box goodness, inspired me to look into finding better produce around London.
The hardest part of this quest is that it is really easy to find great vegetables, but they will cost you a small fortune and can be found somewhere very far from where one actually lives. And at our local city super markets, the produce selection (or lack there of) makes me sad. So, I asked around for tips on where to go to get good and varied fruits and vegetables. I was told to go to Borough market, great market, not that impressive in terms of variety, and it is way too far away to be practical.
Then I was told to go to Marylebone Farmers Market. Two weekends ago, J and I decided to go for a walk, and find this market. It was simple, had about 15 stalls, but the produce was fun. Picked up some Jerusalem artichokes (which look like potatoes), purple sprouting broccoli, Brussels sprouts, 2 loaves of bread and 2 kilos of apples, which were on promotion. Around the corner was an amazing cheese shop, where we picked up some deliciously melty brie. We found a sunlit park, sat on a little bench and enjoyed our delicious brie on freshly baked bread while bathing in the beautiful and rare English sun.
So, I began to make interesting recipes out of my cool produce, none really blog-worthy, as I found myself trying to outrun them at rotting. One thing that always amazes me about farmers’ market produce is how quickly the produce goes bad! The biggest question arises in what goes into supermarket food to make it last so long… This dessert was born out of necessity to quickly rescue up my speedily rotting apples, and am I glad I did! So I got to thinking: ” What goes really well with apples? Cinnamon! What goes really well with cinnamon?? Semolina Halva… could I make Semolina Halva with the freshness of lightly stewed apples throughout it? Umm yes please!!”
In Greece, we have two types of halva, one with tahini (which is also quite popular throughout the Middle East), and one with coarse semolina. The halva with coarse semolina, is one of my favorite desserts. You may remember this dessert from our days at Clark, I used to make it around this time of year. It has a really intriguing consistency, like a million tiny beads melting in your mouth with each bite, and the amazing aroma of cinnamon infused through the whole thing. The only thing that always left me asking for more was that it was a bit plain after a while. Some people do put slivers of almonds or pine nuts in it, but for me the variation of texture, from melty to crunchy, is too much. Also, as the semolina is toasted first, the addition of toasted nuts just makes the flavour on the whole a little too toasty. But add the freshness of apples and softened raisins into the toasty semolina and cinnamon mixture, and you have a clear winner!
Apple Cinnamon Semolina Halva
The traditional rule for this dish is 1, 2, 3, 4: 1 cup butter or oil, 2 cups coarse semolina, 3 cups sugar, 4 cups water. Instead of 3 cups sugar. As I was going to be putting in apples and raisins, I halved the sugar and swapped in some brown sugar to give some additional sweetness. Makes 1 portion of a large baking(7″ x 9″) pan, 2 cm thick (or 2 x narrow rectangular tart tins).
- 3 heaping cups chopped apples (about 5)
- 3/4 cup sultanas (optional)
- 1/2 cup oil
- 2 cups coarse semolina
- 1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 4 cups water
- cinnamon (2-3 tbsp)
- 1 apple (thinly sliced)
- Grease pan, where you will be chilling your halva, with oil. Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F).
- Place the chopped apples and sultanas in a sauce pan with 1/4 cup water, bring to the boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes and turn off heat.
- In another sauce pan, boil 4 cups water. Add sugar, stirring until sugar has dissolved, turn off heat.
- Heat oil in a large pot, when hot, add semolina and cook stirring constantly, until semolina is toasted and turns a nice blond colour, turn off heat. Carefully add sugar water to the toasted semolina, and start to stir vigorously. When the mix starts to thicken, add the apple and sultana mix and cinnamon, and continue to stir until the dough is turning into a ball form, clearly coming off the edges.
- Transfer into the prepared pan, pressing the halva into every side of the pan, ensuring that the top is as flat as possible. Cover with cling wrap and let cool.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lay your sliced apples in a single layer. Bake for 7 minutes, and turn over for another 7 minutes or until toasty and crisp. Take out of the oven and cool.
- When the halva is cool, turn out onto a serving dish, sprinkle generously with cinnamon and garnish with apple chips!