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


  • 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 chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 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


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.

Mince Pies – An English Tradition

Mince Pies | Fig & Honey

One of my favorite English christmas traditions that has stuck with my family over the years has to be these Mince Pies. Nothing tastes like Christmas like a bite of one of these. Once made, they never last very long around the house as I consider them a perfect replacement for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack, tea time accompaniment and after dinner treat. Contrary to what you may think, these have nothing with meat and are sweet, not savory. They’re made with currants, raisins and candied peel mixed with a bit of apple, almonds and brandy. An extremely tasty combination!

Most of all these little pies play a huge role in our Christmas morning traditions. Once all of us in the family is awake, a large pot of tea is brewed, the fire lit and a big plate of Mince Pies are transfered to the living room where we all sit around the christmas tree and exchange presents taking a sip of tea and a bite of pie all the while. Somehow these things have all become intertwined and it’s just not christmas morning with out a bit of wrapping paper to tear open, a strong piping hot cup of tea and these sweet treats.

Mince Pies | Fig & Honey

I must admit, these are made with store bought mincemeat from England. There are a few brands that I love and are perfect in a pinch. However, I have had quite a lot of success making mincemeat at home with this recipe from Delia Smith. It’s actually better than store bought, but just requires a bit of advanced planning. The effort is worth it as it lasts a long while if sealed. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, just as long as you make these in time for Christmas day!

Mince Pies | Fig & Honey

Mince Pies

Makes 24

  • 10 oz plain flour
  • 6 oz unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • ice cold water
  • 12 oz prepared or pre-bought mincemeat
  • 30 ml milk
  • powdered sugar to decorate

To make the pastry, place the flour and butter in a large bowl.  With your fingertips, rub the butter and flour together until everything resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the powdered sugar and a pinch of salt and mix to evenly distribute.  Adding about 3-4 tablespoons, one at a time, mix everything together until a ball is formed.  Separate into the two balls and wrap each with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove one of the balls of pastry from the fridge and roll out as thinly as possible.  Cut out with a 3 inch cutter (or one that fits your bun tin or cupcake tin). Roll out the second ball of pastry and cut out using a star shaped cutter.  Line the tins with the rounds and fill each with a bit of mincemeat and top with a star.   Place back in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Remove the tins from the fridge.  With a pastry brush, lightly brush the stars with a bit of milk. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool slightly in the tins and then transfer carefully to a cooling rack.  When cool sprinkle with powdered sugar and store in an airtight container.

Zimtsterne – German Christmas Cookies

Zimtsterne - German Christmas Cookie | Fig & Honey

Christmas cookies are quite possibly my favorite thing about Christmas. I love that certain foods are very specific to certain times of the year. On Christmas Eve most years, my family and I bake a batch of sugar cookies and spend the afternoon decorating them in the most perfect way.

My sister always has the most precise and beautiful intricate creations.  My brother will normally spend the entire time decorating one prized cookie that usually looks too good to eat.  My husband usually piles on as much icing as the cookie can handle because he likes the more icing to cookie ratio. For me, usually the first few start out quite well, then I start getting more and more fed up and aim for quantity not quality! It’s always a struggle for the perfectionist in me. However, this afternoon is definitely one of my favorite traditions and the results are usually too good to eat!
Zimtsterne - German Christmas Cookie | Fig & Honey

This year we’ve been trying lots of different German Christmas cookies.  My favorite so far has been this Zimtsterne. These are traditional cookies that are found in bakeries, markets and supermarkets all over at this time of year.  Translated directly as Cinnamon Stars, they are a meringue based cookie with ground almonds and flavored with cinnamon and lemon zest.  It’s quite simple really and very delicious.  They are however, a pain to make!

The meringue base makes things extra sticky. Usually only copious amounts of powdered sugar can help to solve this problem. Then once you have managed to cut out the stars, the meringue topping must be evenly spread on top of each one. Though for others this might not be a huge issue, for me it’s super time consuming. I like everything to be perfect and that can only be achieved with time! In the end, they didn’t turn out perfect, but they were very delicious! I like to think that the rough edges add to the charm!
Zimtsterne - German Christmas Cookie | Fig & Honey


Makes about 40 -50 stars

  • 3 egg whites
  • 250 g powdered sugar
  • 360 g ground almonds
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • zest of 2 small lemons
  • pinch of salt

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat egg whites until foamy with the whisk attachment. Make sure your bowl is completely clean and free from any oils before you start. Begin adding the powdered sugar in small batches while the mixer is running. Beat until the meringue is very shiny, but before very stiff peaks form.

In a small bowl, remove 50 g of the meringue. Cover and refrigerate.

Next, fold in the ground almonds, cinnamon, zest and salt into the remaining meringue mixture. Fold until evenly distributed, but be careful not to over mix. Tip the contents out onto a large sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with powdered sugar. Sprinkle the top of the mixture with some more powdered sugar and top with another sheet of parchment paper. Roll out the dough till about 1cm thick. Place the whole thing in the refrigerator to cool for a 1/2 hour to an 1 hour. This step is not completely necessary, but things can get very sticky so it makes life a bit easier!

Once the dough is cooled, you can begin cutting. Remove the top sheet of parchment and sprinkle again with a bit of powdered sugar. Dipping your star cookie cutter into powdered sugar each time, cut out the stars and place onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Continue to collect the dough into a bowl and roll out until all is used up.

Preheat the oven to 150°C.Using a offset spatula or a knife, spread the remaining meringue mixture evenly across all stars making sure it doesn’t drip down the sides. Place into the oven and bake fore 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on them towards the end of 1o minutes so the meringue doesn’t begin to brown.

Let cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy when fully cooled and store in an airtight container for up to a few weeks.

Pistachio and Cranberry Couronne

Pistachio and Cranberry Couronne | Fig & Honey

Lately it’s been a bit difficult finding the time to edit pictures and blog. For some reason, it seems as though time always seems to speed up at this point of the year. With the Christmas markets in full swing here, my nights and sometimes my afternoon are spent meeting up with friends and chatting over a Glühwein (mulled wine) and a delicious Flammlachs (grilled salmon sandwich). Since it’s our last year here, I’m making the most of the holiday cheer that is the christmas markets – even if it is a bit over the top! Last weekend, the hubby and I threw a Christmas party which took me the better part of the previous week to prep for. It turned out to be the most fun I’ve had a in a long while, so it was well worth it! On top of all that, I’ve been trying out new German cookie recipes and trying to find time to knit some last minute presents! It’s definitely a whirlwind around here!

Pistachio and Cranberry Couronne | Fig & Honey

This month feels like it’s flying by already, but I realized that it also means that the end of the year is coming up. After I did an internship at a local bakery, I’ve barely had any time to make some of my own bread, which makes me quite sad. So before the year comes to an end and I forget all I’ve learnt, I managed to find a bit of time to make this amazing couronne that I’ve very excited to share with you all. I decided to mix up the flavors a bit and think that they are very fitting for this time of year.

It would be just perfect at tea time with a nice cup of tea. Or better yet, perfect for a pre-breakfast on Christmas day while opening presents. I’m really looking forward to making this again for the family in a couple weeks.

Pistachio and Cranberry Couronne | Fig & Honey

Pistachio and Cranberry Couronne

Serves 8


  • 250 g type 550 or bread flour
  • 4 g salt
  • 7 g instant yeast
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 105 ml milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  • 80 g butter, softened
  • 70 g light brown sugar
  • 110g cranberries, soaked in a bit of fresh orange juice
  • 65 g pistachios
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 35g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger


  • 30 g honey
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 25 g flaked almonds

Pistachio and Cranberry Couronne | Fig & Honey

First get started with the dough.  In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients.  With your hands, mix to combine everything together.  Continue mixing until all the bits of flour are incorporated, the bowl is clean and dough is nice and soft.

Next, tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 12 minutes. The dough will be really wet to start with and then will slowly become more and more smooth and easier to work with.  Once the dough is smooth and silky you’re finished. Place it in a oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave it in a warm place to rise for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a small bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar with wooden spoon. Mix until smooth. Add in the cranberries (drained), pistachios, orange zest, flour and ginger. Mix till combined and set aside.

After the dough has risen, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. Being careful not to knock out all of the air, roll gently into a rectangle (about 13×10 inches). Spread the fruit and nut filling over surface making sure to go all the way to the edges. Then, with the long edge facing you, begin to roll the dough up tightly. With a sharp knife, slice the roll lengthways all the way through. You are now left with 2 halves. Starting at one end, twist the dough over itself to make it one long rope. Join the edges to make a circle and tuck the ends under. Place the whole thing on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Wrap the baking tray with a large plastic back (preferably clear so you can see whats going on) and be sure to tent it and leave enough room for the dough to rise. Leave it to prove for 30-40 minutes. Turn on the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Once risen, remove the plastic and place into the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes all is golden brown. Cool on a baking rack. With a pastry brush, gently brush the whole surface with the honey.

While the couronne is cooling, make the topping. Mix the icing sugar with a couple teaspoons of water so it is runny enough to drizzle.  Drizzle zig zags over the whole loaf and then top with the sliced almonds. Let cool before serving.

Pistachio and Cranberry Couronne | Fig & Honey