Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cakey Biscuit Brownies

I don't know about you, but if I were to visually associate any one type of food with the word bake or baking, brownies would probably come top of that list. It is the ultimate idea of coming home to a kitchen filled with the warm smells of chocolatey goodness straight out of the oven!
In my younger years, my memories of brownies are mostly from school bake sales, where I somehow was always drawn to them out of the many goodies laid out on the table. Fifty pence well spent! More recently however, brownies have come to symbolise an impromptu 11pm bakefest in the kitchen, followed by much gorging with the husband while sitting on the sofa infront of the TV. Isn't this what all married couples do?!
I admit I prefer the chewier fudgy kind of brownie, but after having made the dense, sweet coconut ice squares, I was looking for something a bit more cakey. Paired with the classic British digestive biscuit, this made a lovely spongey yet still chocolatey brownie. If you enjoy your tea and biscuits, then make sure you also make a cup to go with these!
Cakey Biscuit Brownies
Makes about 12 squares
3/4 cup butter
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 tspns vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/2 cup chocolate chips/pieces (I used half white and half milk)
1/2 cup self-raising flour
4 tblspns cocoa powder
1/2 tspn baking powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup broken digestive biscuits
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line a square 9x9 in. baking tin. Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl, on medium heat for about two minutes in the microwave. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder, adding slowly to the mixture, until well incorporated. Be careful not to over mix. Stir in the biscuit pieces, and pour batter into baking tin. Bake for about 40 minutes, and leave to cool before cutting into squares.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Coconut Ice

My childhood memories of this sweet coconut concoction solely stems from the Woolworths store Pin'n'Mix bar! I would fill my bag with all kinds of sweets and candies, but always left enough room for a packet or two of coconut ice squares.
This recipe for coconut ice tastes just like those shop bought squares, if not better! Whats more, this doesn't require any baking whatsoever - just combine all the ingredients together and let set in the fridge overnight.
Coconut Ice
Recipe adapted from SugarToast
3 cups icing sugar
3 cups desiccated coconut
250g sweetened condensed milk
2 tspns lemon juice
1 tspn rose water
2 drops pink gel food colouring
Line a baking tin with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the icing sugar and coconut together. Add the condensed milk, lemon juice and rose water, mixing till really well combined. If you find the mixture too sticky, add some more desiccated coconut. If you find it too dry, add more condensed milk. Spoon half of the mixture into the baking tin, and then wetting the back of the spoon press down to spread evenly and make a smooth surface. Add the pink gel colouring to the rest of the mixture and mix well.  Spoon the pink mixture over the white layer, again using a wet spoon to smooth the surface. Cover the baking tin loosley with parchment paper and leave to set in the fridge overnight. Once set, use the parchment paper to slowly lift the coconut ice out of the tin, and cut into squares.
Store in fridge for upto one week.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Beetroot Soup with Greek Mint Yoghurt

My first real introduction to beetroot came when I attended a finishing school in Switzerland (they do still exist!!) one winter for a skiing programme. When you've been skiing for five hours, in the freezing cold, with aches and pains, food of any type is a welcome respite...! I remember how all of us students would enthusiastically fill our plates at the salad bar and its here that I became acquainted with the humble yet vibrant root vegetable.

Growing up we never cooked with beetroot at home, so when I moved to Zanzibar over a year ago in my happily married state I was eager to experiment and make use of what was fresh and available. My husband would buy me some occasionally and I loved adding it to chunky vegetable soups.

Now that I have cooked with beetroot a few times I find myself more and more ambitious to bring out its natural colour in meals. To my artists mind it can't be denied, the rich purple red it produces is simply gorgeous!

I really loved watching this soup come together, and I highly reccommend the mint Greek yoghurt as a pairing as it really gives the soup more texture and flavour.

Beetroot Soup with Mint Greek Yoghurt

Makes 3 servings

For the soup
2 medium beetroots, peeled and cubed
2 tblpsn olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove crushed garlic
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 tspn black pepper
Salt, to taste
1 tblspn mint leaves, roughly chopped

Put beetroot in a small pan, covering with water and boil for about 15 minutes until slightly tender. Meanwhile, in a larger pan saute the onion in the olive oil. Add the garlic, and after a couple of minutes the potatoes. Stir well and let sit for a couple minutes before adding the stock. Once the potatoes are cooked through (about 10-15 minutes) add the beetroot along with the beetroot water. Add the salt and black pepper and let simmer for 2 minutes. Pour soup into a blender along with the mint leaves and blend well. Serve into soup bowls and add a couple of tablespoons of mint Greek yoghurt.

For the Mint Greek Yoghurt

1 cup Greek yoghurt
Pinch of salt
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 tblspn mint leaves, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients together and serve onto soup.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Baked Avocado Salsa

I can't really remember exactly how my love of avocados started. What I do know though is that it must have had a lot to do with my mum and her Mexican cooking. On weekends growing up in London my dad would make it a point to take the whole family out, whether locally or in the city. The most well known and only Mexican branch was Chiquitos, and it was here that our love of Mexican food started. Non-alcoholic pina coladas, cheesy nachos, warm tortillas, chicken fajitas, and sizzling vegetables, it wasn't long before my mum soon started making us her own version of Mexican food at home.

What I enjoyed so much about eating those fajitas was the combination of cool Greek yoghurt, the kick of the spicy tomato chicken and the soft dough of the tortillas, all topped of with a nice sprinkling of grated cheese. But what really made those fajitas fajitas for me, was the added smoothness of the guacomole (avocado dip). Put all together it always tasted too good to be true.

And ever since I've been a huge fan of avocados. I'm just as happy eating one completely on its own, as I am adding it in salads with olive oil, a little salt and lemon. However eating an avocado when it is baked and warm is a completely new revelation altogether. If you love avocados as much as I do, its something you have to try! The kick of the lemon and garlic in this tomato salsa complement the creamy avocado perfectly.

Me and my mum relished this as soon as it was out of the oven!

Baked Avocado Salsa

Adapted from Melecotte

1 ripe avocado
Half a tomato, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tblspn olive oil
1 tblspn lemon juice
2 tblspns bread crumbs
1 tblspn chopped herbs (parsley, basil or coriander)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl except for the avocado. Cut the avocado in half and remove the seed. Fill both avocado halves with the tomato salsa and bake in the oven for about 7 minutes. Serve immediately.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

PB Nutella & Rasberry Jam Twists

I've never really been a huge fan of anything pastry but I've been trying to go through my Pinterest boards and this was a recipe which seemed worth recreating. Funnily enough the smell that these created in the kitchen was so incredible that once they were baked I couldn't stop eating them, they were so addictive!
Its super duper easy, and though the recipe calls for jam, I decided to add some peanut butter and nutella to the mix. You can use whatever flavour jam you like, and to be honest you could use all sorts of sweet spreads too like marmalade, and even (hate it or love it) Marmite!
Peanut Butter Nutella & Raspberyy Jam Twists
Makes upto 40 twists
1 packet puff pastry, defrosted
Raspberry jam
2 parts nutella mixed with 1 part peanut butter
Cinnamon, for dusting
Icing sugar, for dusting
Leave the pastry out to defrost as directed on package. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Divide pastry dough into two. Dust board with flour and roll out one piece into a horizontal rectangle to about two milimetres thickness. Using a sharp knife cut through the middle of the pastry vertically. Spread the jam onto one of the pieces, leaving an inch at the top and bottom. Place the other piece neatly on top. Cut vertical strips and twist, placing onto a parchment paper lined baking tray. Dust with cinnamon. Bake for 15 minutes until golden and cooked through. Leave to cool and finally dust with icing sugar. Repeat with the other piece of dough using peanut butter nutella spread.
N.B. Make sure you twist the pastry strips many times, and pinch the ends together, as once in the oven the twists will unravel slightly.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Super Berry Soya Smoothie (with Kiwiberry)

Since moving back to Dubai, this smoothie has been part of my morning breakfast pretty much everyday. Its packed full of healthy antioxidant berrys - strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, plus the addition of kiwiberries. If you haven't heard of kiwiberries, they taste just like kiwis and are packed full of numerous vitamins and minerals, definitely something of a super fruit. Add half a banana and a little soya milk to the mix and you're good to go.


Super Berry Soya Smoothie
Half a banana
3 kiwiberries
2 large strawberries
4 raspberries
4 blackberries
Handful of blueberries
Half cup chilled soya milk
Put everything in the blender except for a couple of raspberrys, blueberries and blackberries. Blend well, then add the remaining berries and blitz for only about 3 seconds. Serve immediately.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Eggplant Pizzas

Something a little different today to the sweet baked goods I usually have. These eggplant/aubergine pizzas are quick and easy, making a great side dish or appetiser to serve at dinner parties, or even on their own as a quick lunch option eaten with salad. They are low-carb and low-glycemic so fit in well with a diabetics diet. For the tomato sauce I basically used the same recipe I make for a pasta or pizza sauce. Its even easier if you have the tomato sauce on hand made in advance. I also didn't have any fresh basil so I used chopped coriander leaves instead - it worked just as well!

I kept these simple with tomato, mozarella and seasoning but you could always add extra toppings such as spinach, goats cheese or parmesan. The ideas are endless!

Eggplant Pizzas

Recipe adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

Makes 3 to 4 servings

1 large or 2 medium eggplant
Olive oil for brushing
Dried herbs - mixed/oregano/basil, depending on what you prefer
Tomato sauce (see recipe below)
Handful chopped fresh basil/coriander leaves
1 cup grated mozarella
Extra toppings if desired

Cut off both ends of eggplant and cut into three-quarter/inch thick slices. Lay the slices on some kitchen towel and sprinkle both sides generously with salt. Leave to sit for at least fifteen minutes - this will help to draw out water from the slices. Heat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Brush a baking tray with olive oil, and once the eggplant has been left to sit brush the slices too. Arrange onto the tray and sprinkle dried herbs over. Bake for about 30 minutes - you want to take the slices out before they start to look too brown or start to lose their shape. Remove tray from the oven and top each slice well with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle some fresh basil or coriander leaves and add a heapful amount of mozarella on top. Put back into the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes, keeping an eye on the cheese so that it melts and starts to turn a little brown. Remove and serve immediately.

For the tomato sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves freshly minced garlic
1 medium onion chopped
1 cup freshly diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree or canned tomato
Salt, pepper and dried herbs to season

In a small pan heat the olive oil and add the onion. Cook for about 2 minutes and add the garlic cooking for a minute or so more. Add the diced tomato and puree, plus the salt, pepper and herbs, seasoning to your own taste. Simmer for about 7 minutes, adding a little water if you feel it is too dry.
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