lemon coconut baked cheesecake

coconut lemon cheesecake

Who could ever forget that pesky tune? …Is life in plastic truly fantastic?

Sometimes I stop and ponder why when we cook and bake we demand perfection. How often do you do that? I baked a cheesecake last week. Not any cheesecake… a superbly cracked all the way down cheesecake!

It wasn’t a case of ‘bad beginner’s luck’. I have baked uncracked cheesecakes before – but I do take the blame for all the cracking. It was in and out of the oven before you could say “what’s that amazing smell?” And without proper cooling down time, cracks were aplenty.

It made me reconsider whether I should take the cheesecake to a dinner I was invited to… and whether I should be posting it here at all. I figured we’ll never truly appreciate perfection without embracing imperfection. And I mean smashingly tasty imperfections.

Although I see the cracks as an added personality to the cheesecake, if you should make this and desire no cracks, let it set with the oven door ajar, then cool out on a bench to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 4 hours to enhance the flavours.

lemon coconut cheesecake

the ‘coconut’ part of this cheesecake is optional

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

Base:

175g plain biscuits

130g butter, melted

1/4 cup desiccated coconut (optional)

Filling:

500g cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup white sugar

2 tsp vanilla essence

3 XL eggs, separated (or 4 smaller, separated)

1/2 cup thickened cream

Lemon flavour:

rind of 1 lemon, and its juice OR

1/2 batch of this lemon curd recipe

Coconut – optional, but feel free to add another 1/4 cup into the filling for added flavour

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (160 fan forced) and spray 20cm spring form pan.

Place the biscuits in a food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and process until well combined. Press the biscuit mixture over the inside of the greased pan to evenly cover the base and come 2/3 of the way up the sides. Sprinkle 1/4 cup coconut on base and place in the fridge while making the filling.

biscuit base

To make the filling, use electric beaters to beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until the mixture is light and creamy. Add the lemon rind & lemon juice (if using), egg yolks and cream. Beat until well combined and the mixture is light and fluffy.

batch of filling

Use clean beaters to whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

whipped egg whites

Add to the cream cheese mixture and fold in the same direction (eg. clockwise) until combined. Do not overmix, do not mix in various directions to keep air in the whites.

IMG_3995

If using lemon curd, pour the mixture into prepared pan and dollop the curd and use a skewer to swirl through the cheesecake filling.

lemon curd dolloped lemon curd swirled

 Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until golden and just set in the centre. Turn oven off and keep door slightly open to allow it to set further, about 15mins. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

cheesecake

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours – overnight to firm. Remove from the fridge 10 minutes before serving, and dig in!

Grape and Greens Summer Salad

‘grape and greens’ summer salad

Time’s flying by so quickly, and with less than a month until February is finished, summer still feels far from leaving us here Down Under. The weather here is funny: it’s like the patchwork of a crooked sewer, where we experience all four seasons in just one day!

From blazing hot rays through our burnt ozone, to spring time breezes, to gusty autumn winds, and finally some rain and hail (yes, literally, hail!)

For those summer moments though, enjoy this sweet and tangy grape salad… I love fruit in my salad because it gives a burst of sweetness in every other bite! This is something not often palatable in the Middle East however. I’m talking Watermelon Feta, Mango and Chicken, Fig and Blue Cheese… You see where I’m going? Bon appétit :)

Grape and Greens Summer SaladServes: 4-6

Ingredients:

2 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves

1/4 iceberg lettuce, roughly diced

50g greek style feta cheese, diced into small cubes

1/3 cup canned corn kernels, washed

2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled and diced

1 cup red seedless grapes, sliced in half

dressing of your choice*

Method:

Toss all the ingredients into a large bowl.

Dress with your favourite dressing – mine personally, a few tbs of olive oil, a pinch of dried mint, and a small dash of balsamic vinegar.

Toss to coat, and enjoy!

chicken pad thai

‘one pot’ chicken pad thai

There was a Thai restaurant near my uni which I used to enjoy eating at from time to time. Their Pad Thai in particular was the dish I enjoyed most, with requested peanut sauce on top (unconventional, but delicious!)

I recreated the dish once before with a store-bought sauce. A few years have passed before the craving has found its way back into my palette and I’ve had the chance to make it from scratch once and for all.

Atop the ‘made from scratch’ achievement, I also have the ‘one pot’ achievement for this recipe. Yay for 2 hypothetical medals! ;) I am in a 2 person household, with no kids, and no major commitments but the thought of having to pack extra dishes in the dishwasher is dreadful… Imagine the scrapbooking I could be doing in all that time (hahaha :) )

To my sweet sis, with a toddler, who loves one-pot dishes, and inspired this Pad Thai…

chicken pad thai

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

280g – 300g Pad Thai rice noodles (or enough for 4)

1 cup – 1.5 cups of chicken (breast or thigh) diced into strips/large pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp cornstarch

2 tbs soy sauce (I used Worcestershire sauce)

3 cups fresh bean sprouts

2 spring onions, sliced

1/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped

1/3 cup roughly chopped peanuts

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs, to serve, optional

1/2 cup chicken stock, if necessary (see method)

Pad Thai Sauce (see tip at end of recipe)

3/4 tbs Tamarind concentrate

2 tbs fish sauce

1 tsp chilli flakes/sauce

3 tbs brown sugar

chicken pad thai

Method:

  1. Bring a large multi-purpose frypan/wok of water to a boil and dunk in rice noodles. Turn down the heat to low and cook for a few minutes until softened but still slightly crunchy. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking. Set aside.
  2. Make the Pad Thai sauce by combining sauce ingredients together in a cup. Stir well to dissolve tamarind and brown sugar, and set aside.
  3. Place chicken slices in a small bowl. Stir together the marinade of cornstarch and soy sauce and pour over chicken. Stir well and set aside.
  4. Warm up the same frypan/wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs peanut oil plus garlic and chilli, if using. Stir-fry until fragrant (30 seconds). Add marinated chicken. If wok/pan becomes dry, add a little chicken stock, 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, to keep the chicken frying nicely, 5-7 minutes, until cooked is cooked (I did not need to do this).
  5. Add the noodles, and pour the Pad Thai sauce over. Use a gentle “lift and turn” method to fry noodles. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. If you find your wok/frying pan too dry, push noodles aside and add a little more oil to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add the bean sprouts and and continue frying 1 more minute, or until noodles are cooked. Noodles are done to perfection when they are no longer “hard” or crunchy, but chewy-sticky wonderful.
  7. Lift noodles onto a serving plate. Top with generous amounts of fresh coriander, spring onion, and peanuts. Add fresh lemon/lime wedges to squeeze over each portion, and serve!

Pad Thai Tip: For even more flavour, I doubled the batch of the pad Thai sauce. Then, as I’m stir-frying the noodles, I’ll add more sauce until I’m happy with the taste. Any leftover sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

 

Baked bread rolls

beehive stuffed bread rolls

[repost with revised recipe]

Aahh… the golden beehive in a tray. This heart-warming carby goodness is all the craze in the middle east, especially among my Saudi (and Algerian) friends. Whenever a lady comes to a potluck party with a tray of these, the entire room turns to her and takes a big sniff in… in attempt to have the biggest share of the sweet suckle and tender smell freshly baked hives emanate. Usually portions are one bun per person. Ha, what a joke! But then again, a baking tray can only fit so many buns, right?

Undoubtedly, each woman at the party sneaks two onto her plate, and maybe one in the mouth when no one is looking… diet? What diet? I’ll start that tomorrow (because you don’t go to potlucks everyday, now do you?!) Then come the ladies that missed out, wishing under their breaths that there had been a second tray, and gently cussing the ladies that got 3.

Behive stuffed bread rolls

I’m not overreacting here. The buns are really that good, and if you don’t believe me, you’ll just have to try them for yourself with a cuppa!

The dough recipe I use here is from an old housewife, and good friend. She, of course, does not use measurements precisely, but a dough is a dough, and if you’re a good baker, you will be able to make this dough beautifully. Feel free to use a milk bread dough recipe if you’re more comfortable with that.

Behive stuffed bread rolls

Yields: one 12-inch tray

Ingredients:

4 cup plain flour

2 handfuls of powdered milk

1 to 2 cups warm water

2 tbs instant yeast

3 tbs sugar

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup flavourless oil

1/2 tsp honey + water to loosen

1 small egg for an egg wash

1 x 250g tub of cream cheese (or your fave filling)

black seeds (Nigella Sativa) or sesame seeds to decorate

Method:

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, milk powder and instant yeast in a large bowl.

Make a well in the centre and add 1 cup water and oil. Combine, adding more water until dough comes together.

Knead with a dough hook (or by hand) until the dough is smooth, soft and elastic.

Oil and allow to rise, covered, for 1 hour.

Split the dough into large walnut sized segments, roll into a ball and flatten slightly.

Place a teaspoon of cream cheese in the centre and pinch dough together to form a ball. Roll between your palms to smooth out the surface. Repeat for remaining dough.

Bread rolls ready to be baked

Arrange stuffed buns in a greased 12-inch baking tray, about a centimetre (1/2 inch) apart.

Brush buns with an egg wash and decorate with sesame/black seeds.

Allow to rise, covered, for another 30 mins – 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 fan). Bake buns on the middle rack until golden brown.

Baked bread rolls

In a small dish, drizzle the honey, adding a few drops of water to loosen.

When the buns are ready and still hot, brush over the honey mixture, serve warm from the oven with a cuppa! :)

Polenta Fish and Chips

polenta fish n chips with tartare sauce

Being jet lagged was a classic. Waking up at 2am and sleeping from lunch time til the stars shine. It took a good week to readjust to the climate Down Under after visiting the two Holy Mosques in Saudi for my first pilgrimage ever :)

I had some preconceptions of what the place will be like, and how the people will behave, but despite all my mental preparation the experience was surreal and beyond expectations.

Photo's courtesy of my partner's friends :)

Photo’s courtesy of my partner’s friends :)

 

You’ve probably heard about “Hajj” – you know, that ritual where 2 million+ Muslims flock to the lands of Makkah in search of soul, faith, redemption. During the ritual itself, the men there dress in two white cloths symbolising two things: their burial cloths, and equality among each other… you could literally be walking next to a millionaire, orphan, or CEO and wouldn’t know it. Because the two of you have brought yourself back to the very basics of human life and the encompassing ideals of “humanity”.

Women cover as Muslim women generally do – wherever you look you cannot judge or compare as women viciously do. You build a kind of self-love because you forget what it feels like to see “the ideal [photoshopped] body image” plastered over billboards that reminds you of everything your body is not.

There, strange things happen. You meet people who don’t speak your language – yet you share lollies and smiles and maybe a goodbye hug. You hussle at the markets and you find yourself blabbering your summarised life story that you’ve craftily learnt to repeat to shop owners and other shoppers you meet.

When your soul searching journey is over and it’s time to head home, you realise how much you’ll miss the place (because bias-ly(?), your origins are from a country so similar!) Then you hit the sands of Down Under and smell the heat of a burnt through ozone layer and good ol’ humidity. Amalgamated with the smell of used canola oil and a freshly fried batch of fish’n’chips.

Polenta Fish and Chips

Only this time, it’s spruced up with a twist on the batter: polenta instead of breadcrumbs. And homemade tartare sauce.

 

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 cup polenta

1 egg

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsps finely grated lemon rind

4 firm white fish fillets (about 150g each – I just used Basa)

1 tbs lemon juice

Canola or rice bran oil, to fry (or any oil you like to fry in)

Potato chips, to serve

Tartare Sauce:

1/2 cup quality whole-egg mayonnaise

1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

1 tsp finely chopped capers

2 gherkins, finely chopped

1 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

 

Method:

First make your sauce:

Place mayonnaise, lemon rind, capers, gherkins and parsley in a small bowl. Season. Stir until well combined and refrigerate.

Tartare Sauce

Next, combine polenta, garlic powder and lemon rind in a plate; season with salt and pepper.

Whisk egg in a shallow bowl.

Dip 1 piece of fish in egg. Coat in polenta mixture. Place on a plate.

Repeat with remaining fish. I cut 3 of my fillets into cocktail sized bites for the kids.

Refrigerate fish for 10 minutes.

polenta fish (pre-cooked)

Heat oil in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook fish, in batches, for 3 to 4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.

Serve with salad, tartare sauce and chips.

Polenta Fish, Chips, Tartare Sauce

honey teriyaki drumsticks

honey teriyaki drummies & roast potatoes

You need to post more often[1].

Days and days do go by so quickly. Time and time does fly by so swiftly.

Minutes turn to hours to days to weeks to months. I last posted 8 months ago. So much passed since then – your recipes filled my inbox, my blog remained in a subtle hibernation, with the scarce WordPress notification downloading onto my app.

How do you wrap up eight whole months into a few short sentences, to perhaps try and justify your absence from something you once couldn’t abstain from for a day? Maybe you don’t. In fact, you probably just say a big bang hello and I’ve re-arrived at the party. And I brought some drummies and desirees along with.

roasted desiree  potatoes

But at the party my body of experiences doesn’t hold back. I tell you everything that happened in the 8 months I was gone.

From graduating university, to taking a semester’s break off work, to moving into an adorable townhouse and facing the reality of independent living with a loving partner, while missing the warmth of family back home.

But I have my own kitchen now.

Not that I hadn’t claimed the old one mine anyway.

I can cook whatever on earth I want to cook.

But on some days I don’t even want to cook.

That’s why I plan for leftovers from time to time.

Lie – I don’t plan it, I’m only feeding two mouths, yet only have experience cooking for 6.

 

Okay, enough. It’s a funny experience writing a blog post again after so long. I hope my readers are reading, and my blogging friends still around because I do plan on sticking around this time…

 

Drummies are on me. And the Desirees.

 honey teriyaki drumsticks

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

8 chicken drumsticks, skins on

 
For the marinade: 
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs honey
2 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1 onion, minced
1 tsp peanut oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbs parsley, chopped

 

For the potatoes:
6 red and 6 white desiree potatoes
2 cloves garlic, skin on, halved
a pinch of sea salt
a pinch of dried thyme
a drizzle of olive oil

 

Method:

Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl with chicken drumsticks.
Marinate for 1 hour (up to ‘overnight’).
Arrange drumsticks in a flameproof baking tray and bake, uncovered, in 190 deg C preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain marinade through fine seive and place in a saucepan on low flame until reduced to 1/2 the quantity (to form a glaze).
Glaze drumsticks by brushing all sides and return to bake for a further 20 minutes or until juices run clear.
Place pan on stovetop to evaporate any excess juices, and glaze drumsticks again (excess juices can be poured out if tray is not flameproof).
Return to grill to char for a minute and dress with sesame seeds.
To roast potatoes, cut larger potatoes in half and place in a separate baking tray.
Drizzle with oil, add garlic, salt, thyme, and toss to coat.
Bake in 200 deg C oven for 30-50 minutes until tender in the middle and crisp on the outside.
Check on potatoes and toss at 30 minute mark.
Serve chicken and potatoes with salad.

 

peach, raspberry & banana smoothie

peach, raspberry & banana smoothie

The summer’s heat is really getting to us and the poor A/C is barely keeping up. We’re burning up in the heat, but I think we really need to install some insulation to save burning our pockets on the electricity bill, too! ;)

In light of summer, though, I thought I’d share with you a delicious summer smoothie. I’m so obsessed with smoothies, I could have them all year round, not just in summer!

 

This smoothie is packed with deliciously moist peach, plump raspberries and sweet banana. I add vanilla ice-cream to give it a smooth, creamy texture, but low fat yoghurt would work as a great substitute for the weight-conscious.

 

Before I move on to the recipe, I want to share with you an eBook. Oh no, it’s not my own one – not yet anyway! I was browsing the cookbooks here when I came across Modernist Cuisine (you can buy it through Inkling). I really loved this one because it’s jam-packed with droolworthy recipes and imagery. eBooks have actually become a big thing on my list of things I love because they’re so nice to flick through and many of them are interactive as well. Perhaps it’s coming from a girl who spent all her uni life behind a monitor, but as much as I love my printed cookbooks, I can’t help but stop at the e- ones. What do you like better? e-s or prints? :)

 

peach, raspberry & banana smoothie

 

Serves: about 2 tall glasses

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana

1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1 ripe yellow peach, skin on (adds a delicious texture and flavour)

1 cup skim milk (full cream, lite, do as you please)

3 – 4 heaped scoops of ice-cream (might add up to about a cup even!)

 

Method:

Place roughly chopped banana and half the milk into a blender and blend until smooth. This is a perfect little trick to make sure you don’t have any lumps of banana in your drink.

Add in remaining ingredients and blend lightly until smooth (don’t over-blend!)

Pour into glasses and serve with ice if desired, most importantly, cool and freshen up in the summer heat!

 

 

☆ my 2013 resolution | recipe roundup from my blogroll ☆

Since it’s year’s end and blog posts are trending around the topic, I thought I’d join the party and post:

a warm welcome to all my new subscribers – I hope to dish up delicacies that’ll tickle your taste buds this coming year;

a tribute to my blogging friends… a roundup of some of the dishes I’ve made from some of my beloved blogging friends. I enjoy receiving your recipes and droolworthy photos right to my inbox; and

my 2013 “new year’s resolution” for the blog to be freshly pressed which never happened!

I’m one of those people that “don’t do”. I don’t do this, I don’t take part in that, etc etc. and new year’s resolutions are one of those things that I don’t really do. Because they’re always a failure. Since “losing weight” has broken the records for being the most wanted, consecutive resolution for the past decade, 2013’s shifted towards the blog in hope that since I’m not losing weight when I set a goal to, I may lose weight in lieu of the blog not being freshly pressed. Did it work? I won’t tell you. :P Because there’s either a problem with my posts, the freshly pressed editors, my scales, or eating habits.. or perhaps all 4 things. ;) I s’pose there’s still 20 minutes to go on my side of the globe, so there’s still hope ;)

 

Most of my 2013 was spent tearing my hair out to graduate from my bachelor, so my cooking frequency dropped, and so did my posts, but I have been on your blogs, and I have fulfilled my promises. When I say “bookmarked for later cooking”, I truly mean it.

Despite losing many photos of dishes I’ve made, I’ll be sharing what I can today.

~★~☆~★~☆~

This past year, and the couple before, I’ve craved, sighed in desire, been inspired by, and eagerly awaited posts from my blogroll, from Samah’s Good Cooks, to Sawsan’s Chef in Disguise, to Ksenia’s Saffron & Honey and more.

~★~☆~★~☆~

To begin, I’m going to share with you Rufus’ Stir-fried chicken with basil, mushrooms and chilli. Rufus was my first commenter, and subscriber and his ongoing presence really boosted my confidence and willingness to continue blogging. I’ve spent far too many late night flicking through Rufus’ daily posts, and have managed to learn a lot of new things from the blog. Thanks, Rufus & co.

Chicken Basil

This chicken basil recipe was delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed the combination of flavours – minus some of the chilli as the girls around here can’t stand too much spice. Definitely give this recipe a go, all of you, it’s not to miss!

What’s comes after a really good meal? A really good dessert, of course! I cannot begin to explain how comforting, Rufus’ Brie and strawberries “pie” is, or how ridiculously tasty it is, or how simple to make it is. What’s not as simple as I thought though, is the cheese used in this dessert. And particularly, how it’s pronounced. Brie is apparently said Bree and not Bry like “dry”. Sorry, let me insist English is my second language to avoid the embarrassment! ;)

Brie and Strawberries

 

As I was not going to compete with Katherine’s talent, instead of roses and leaves on a rounded Brie pie, I folded over a what looked like a little bundle, and cut out (freehand) letters to spell … well you can see that for yourself! This was a perfectly timed dessert which I shared with the extended family after the birth of a little baby boy to my aunty. The only problem with this dessert is that it’s not enough. The next time I make this, I’m buying an extra large wheel of Brie so I can satisfy my portion needs of desserts this tasty. :)

~★~☆~★~☆~

Next I present to you Five Euro Food’s Roasted Beetroot Dip. Five Euro Food is run by Charles, also one of my early commenters and followers, who had to wait a really long time before I decided to check out who this loyal follower was. Since then I fell in love with the Swedish, French, English and all-things-in-between recipes he’d post.

Roasted Beetroot Dip

 

Charles had creative ideas when it came to beetroot which was fantastic for me – because I love beetroot, and, well sometimes my grandpa would buy far too many to just be disappointedly boiled or pickled. The roasted beetroot dip was delicious, although I’ll be roasting the garlic with the beetroot when I make this again. Perhaps our Aussie garlic tastes really strong, but any left over dip will have a super garlicky taste the next day – so enjoy it freshly made, it’s really hard not to finish in one sitting anyway!

If dips aren’t your thing, and you like the chips instead, then go no further than the Hand-cooked beetroot chips also at Five Euro Food.

Beetroot Chips

The littlest one here absolutely loves beetroot chips, so I just had to give these a go, and they were delicious, and far better than the store-bought packs. Be sure to pat your slices dry before frying to get a delicious crisp :)

~★~☆~★~☆~

Now if you haven’t headed over to My Ninja Naan, you’re really missing out. I’ve just about made all the smoothie recipes on this blog, and can’t get enough of them! I lost all the photos I had of the smoothies I’d made, but when I coincidentally found myself making yet another Date and Banana Smoothie, I put my glass down beside my window and grabbed my camera for a quick shot. If dates aren’t your thing, then you have to sip the strawberry banana smoothie instead. Both are so delicious! :)

Date & Banana Smoothie

Check out the texture on that date ;) Definitely use medjool dates are they’re soft and will blend smoothly. When I made this one I only had small dried dates, but if you love a bit of texture, then by all means throw ’em in!

~★~☆~★~☆~

Next up is Eva from Kitchen Inspirations. I’ve made more recipes from Eva than I’ll list here, but I’ll share with you my attempt at making Eva’s Rösti potato. I wasn’t very confident when I made this back in January(!) so my rösti didn’t have the gorgeous streaks of browned potato throughout. But it was delicious nevertheless, and was eagerly welcomed into the tummies of the family.

Rosti Potato

From Eva’s blog, I’m also going to share with you her Lovely, flaky buttermilk cheese scones. To be honest with you, my scones weren’t as flaky as Eva’s but they tasted so delicious, I took them along to a family dinner they vanished before anything else did.

Cheese scones

~★~☆~★~☆~

I’ll end my little roundup with Dawn from First Look then Cook. I made her Chive and black pepper pop overs without having ever known what a pop over was. I learnt about these beauties from her blog! :)

Pop Overs

With so much batter I made large ones in the 12-case muffin tins and and mini ones in the 24-case muffin tins. The chives and black pepper really complemented each other, and I can only say I’m so lucky to have been introduced to such yummy little treats!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little roundup. I can’t wait to list another, with recipes ranging from MJs Kitchen to Very Culinary‘s! :)

Until then, stay safe, keep well, and bon appétit! :)

double choc gluten free cookies

great food blogger cookie swap | gluten free triple choc cookies

Hi everyone! I’m back Down Under and ready for business. Only I’m a couple of days late as this post was meant to go up 11.12.13 and be posted into the “Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap” roundup! Did I mention I signed up for that? Read all about the great cause here.

A pack of cookies

Making cookies is a dreadful thing for me, because of my previous (disastrous) experiences making them. So when I signed up to the swap, I practiced with a batch of cookies which turned out beautiful – recipe for that to come!

 

Things got “worse” when the three other foodie bloggers I was swapping cookies with came through. One of them needed gluten free cookies – and I’ve never, ever baked gluten free goodies that are not naturally so! So I Googled. On the bus to uni, on the way back, between classes, before bed, while eating breakkie. I needed a good recipe that didn’t have flour in it and that was fool-proof.

 

After trying a Martha Stewart recipe, I gave up on flourless cookies and bought some gluten free flour. But even those flours, I read, can’t be treated like normal flour. With one day to go until I packed my bags to fly out, I found the courage to just give the whole thing a go. I made gluten free double (triple, actually) choc cookies from a normal double choc cookie recipe, and well, they turned out pretty awesome! :D

As I’d made more than one batch, I had slightly different results, I got a bit of a flat batch, a burnt batch (my fault), and a chunky batch. While making the cookies I was so paranoid I’d accidentally put something in that wasn’t gluten free. I really did become so paranoid that I had to tell myself eggs were fine, and I didn’t need to Google whether they, too, were GF! :)

excuse the late night photos!

excuse the late night photos! ^^

All was well in the end, as I packaged my cookies and shipped them off hours before my flight – I sent my cookies out to Modest Munchies, The Aussie Kitchen, and The Little Blue Bicycle. I hope you guys all enjoy them very much! :)

 

double choc gluten free cookies

 

Yields: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (250g) butter at room temperature

1 cup (200 grams) sugar

1 cup (215 grams) light brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups (350 grams) plain gluten-free flour

3/4 cups (60 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup (4.5 ounces/125 grams) GF white chocolate buttons, roughly chopped

2 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) GF milk chocolate chips

1 teaspoon baking soda (I used 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190 deg C (350 F) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined.

Add eggs, one at a time and mix until well incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda/powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk through until well combined.

Using a wooden spoon add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, ensuring the sides are scraped and mixed in regularly.

cookie batter

The cookie batter should be thick and rich!

Stir in the two chocolates and drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets and bake for 10-13 minutes, until the cookies have puffed a little and the tops are dry.

cookies ready to bake

Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a coking rack to cool completely.

Secretly enjoy a warm one with some milk!

double choc gluten free cookies

postcard from dubai & big news

Take a huge pile of sand, add millions of dollars, a passage of time, and find yourself in Dubai in the UAE. I’m sending you this overdue postcard from Dubai – a city that holds so many memories, experiences and meanings for me. This particular trip to Dubai will be especially memorable. I’m staying at a relative’s apartment at Dubai Marina and the views are just breathtaking. I can truly get used to this kind of living daily ;)

 

view from the balcony

view from the balcony

 

Tomorrow (2 Dec) is the 42nd national day of the UAE so huge celebrations have started already. I’m looking forward to photographing and enjoying the celebrations myself :)

But why this trip will be of the more memorable though is because of the news I received as I was entering the city at the airport. Just before arriving to the immigration desk, I managed to hook on to some terrible internet and check my uni email to see my grades. I’ve averaged a distinction, and will be graduating this December! Hoorah! :D

I was truly worried about my finals, and the news came with such an overwhelming amount of joy, my knees buckled and I found myself crouching on the airport floors, crying many happy tears. It was a sweet, but awkward moment having my passport stamped, but I wasn’t going to hide my tears :) So that’s the big news I have for you all!

Hoping everything on your end of the globe is going well.

Until anon! :)

juice-bar-man

a postcard from malaysia

Hi all…. :)

Been a little quiet around the blog since I’ve gone overseas for a little holiday – hooray! I’ve come by Malaysia, the land of sweet people, rich culture, and good food. Coming here has been so enlightening as I revisit all the places I’ve been to and discover new ones along the way. My last stop was at Johor after crossing over the Singaporean border.

I had a very funny encounter today, which I thought I’d share with you :) You see this fine gentleman here making me freshly squeezed watermelon juice…..

juice-bar-man

Well, he happened to have served me again, a year later, in the same shop, same uniform, just with a little hair cut ;) Being a little Boost freak back home in Aussie, I loved drinking these freshly squeezed juiced, and spent quite a few of my ringgits last time I was in Johor! So when I popped in today with my good ol’ Canon and SD, I asked the gentleman if he recognised who the man in the photo was. He inspected the photo for a bit, recognised himself and threw a chuckle. What I remember the most from last year is being taught some Malay phrases as he made the juice. And here he is again a year later making me carrot juice w/ sweetened condensed milk and iced kopi o. Gosh the world is a sweet, small place :)

juice-bar-man

Will be popping by all your wonderful blogs to like and comment and drool as soon as better internet comes around and some rest time is scheduled in. Until then, happy cooking, and keep posting! :)

my humble canon 650D

food photography | lighting

Although this post is due to be the comparison brownie post (where I share with you a second brownie recipe and compare it with the swiss chocolate pistachio brownie), what’s more overdue is a quick post about my food photography.

I’m in no way a certified professional, I will admit immediately. I have done several photography courses but they were done so long ago, and did not come with qualification, that I will probably class myself as a self-taught photography aficionado (who’s had some photos printed in a couple of mags/cookbooks). I do hope to see that change within the next year or so, though!

I have been receiving a fair few emails asking for photography tips/details. I’ll start a little series with quick tips on what you can do to make your photos more mouth watering (because you deserve to torture us fellow droolers that much more!) Keep in mind these are things that I personally do, and every recipe I make and photograph is one step forward in improving my own skills.

So before I start, I’ll answer the burning question (..although I think I have before..) I get the most… I currently use what’s classed as an entry-level (I’m offended! :P ) DSLR camera – namely the Canon 650D. These cameras are entry-level because they provide you with schnazy options that do the work for you instead of leaving you, as the pro, to do the work yourself. I don’t use any of those features. With this camera, I use the 50mm f1.8 lens with a polarising filter, or otherwise a 17-55mm f2.8 lens which has a UV filter on the front since I bought it – which I’ve been too lazy to remove. I’ll talk some more about my photography gear next post :)

 

Probably the most important tip is to ask for criticism – always. I used to frequently ask others (namely professional food photographers!) about my photos and how they can be improved. This is truly the only way you can improve. I think most of you want to see photos/tips, so I’ll start off with a basic lighting technique.

 

Good food photography doesn’t happen under artificial lighting unless you’ve got all the jazz (diffusers, bulbs, backdrops). Artificial lighting creates hard shadows and highlights around/on your food which reduces just how appealing it is. Let’s take a look at an example.

chocolate wafer tree

Here’s a photo of a ‘chocolate wafer tree’ I made. I took the photo while the tree was in the fridge – the harsh fridge light overexposes the marshmallows and creates hard shadows on the wafers. Not very appealing.

Using natural lighting – that is away from direct sunlight – is much softer and just looks better on camera. You can further diffuse natural lighting by putting up a parchment paper on the window you’re photographing beside, or using a reflector to soften the shadows created.

reflectors made from sketching books

Don’t let fancy equipment get in your way. I use my 2 sketchbooks as reflectors and they work a charm! This is a typical set up with window light from one side and the reflectors to fill in the shadows of the lemons and of where the cut slice was. Keep this photo in mind, you’ll be seeing it again when I do a post about your autofocus (yes 1/2 of it is out of focus!)

Finally, natural lighting can flood your image if it’s used in the wrong way. Food photography is said to “back-light” the dish being photographed. Let’s compare.

front-lit cookie

This cookie was photographed from (nearly) the same direction the light was hitting it from. The image feels flooded with light and the cookie might look good but I think the photo doesn’t give it justice.

back-lit cookieThis is the photo of the same cookie, but taken from the opposite direction from the light hitting it (lighting is not diffused in this pic).  This is back-lighting your food which brings out highlights when something is glistening with butter, oil, or chocolate for that matter. You’re in a win-win situation here because back-lighting the food brings out highlights without creating any shadow since there wasn’t much shadow in the first place. Controlling the amount of highlighting can be achieved with a polarising filter, but I’ll keep this short and sweet and cover that in my next tip :)

At the end of the day, all is personal taste. Which do you like better? Front-lit or back-lit cookies? Or ‘who cares, just give me cookies’? :) Hope this helps you get started on your journey through the realms of food photography!

croissant au beurre

croissant au beurre || a spiel & recipe

Somewhere between last Saturday and now, I managed to realise I am the most pathetic human being alive. When I say this, I am referring to empathy, i.e. I am empathetic – but empathy has so much sociocultural connotative baggage involved with it, I like to use the concept pathos from Aristotle and mirror it so that I’m the one being emotionally moved and persuaded by others (and not vice versa).

 

Since childhood I’ve known myself to be a sensitive creature, who cramps when the guy in the movie gets punched, who cries when she sees someone else in trouble or upset, and who will make it her responsibility to ensure everyone she loves is happy, regardless of her own personal state. And I admit right now, this is a very dangerous wadi to be in because of just how unstable it can leave you at the end of the day. The danger extends beyond that, however. You see, I’m very good at listening. I will listen to your entire life’s story if you wanted me to know it, but I am the worst person at helping. I will not know what to say. I will not respond properly. I will in fact sit and cry with you. Cry when you leave. Cry all night long. And probably the next morning, too. If I try to help, I’d attempt to get your mind off your problems by chatting with you about petty things (perhaps my life story), or attempt to bribe your worries away with food. Usually that doesn’t work. And we end up crying anyway – I more than you. But in light of food, which is what I’m best at doing, I will be happy to cook things out of my comfort zone if it means I have to.

before baking

before baking

 

Now if you’ve ever promised a Frenchman a French delicacy, you’d know the sort of pressure I put on myself making these croissants. I have, indeed, read all your Darking Bakers challenge blog posts with recipes, I have watched at least 15 YouTube videos on how to make the crescent shaped croissant au beurre. I dreamed about these darlings for nights on end. I shopped for them. I took a deep breath. And got to work. And work started with transcribing Chef Bruno’s (who’s accent can’t be missed) Taste of Paris video by hand into my little notebook, with macarons on it!

 

home-made or store-bought?

after baking

 

That’s right. making these had to be done properly the first time round and I was going classical with a proper recipe on paper and memorising all the “tour double”, “tour simple”, and whatever else turns and folds were involved!

I realised after making these that the croissant itself is not difficult to make in the sense that it’s steps are almost basic baking steps you might do in any baking recipe, the waiting involved (and the realisation of how enormous these croissants can go) is what lets croissant making seem such a dragged out process. This being my first go at making croissants, I ran to the local bakery and grabbed  croissant to compare. And I honestly could not tell the difference – except that some of mine were a little more buttery tasting than the bakery one. That’s a plus, surely? :)

 

croissants before and after

before and after baking

 

The croissants themselves were delicate, flaky and crispy, but they need to be left in an airtight container to keep their crispiness, running around with them in a Japanese basket and brown bag won’t help maintain the delicate crisp. I made three batches, one was absolutely massive, the other two looked exactly like the ones you’d pick up from a local bakery. I only managed to photograph the final proofing (sounds so dramatic) as I was far too busy ensuring perfection during all other stages.

I hope you have a go at croissant making sometime soon. I highly recommend you watch Bruno’s video linked above. I enjoyed a croissant pressed in the sandwich press, stuffed with some fetta, dried mint and black seed (you need to try this with some cold watermelon: divinity between your hands).

 

homemade croissants

Yields: 10-14 croissants (depending on size)

Ingredients:

Pâton:

1 cup lukewarm tap water

4 tsps active dry yeast (2 packets fresh yeast can be used, just add to water & proof instead of flour)

3 1/2 cups unbleached bread/plain flour

3 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

100g (6 1/2 tbs) softened unsalted European-style cultured butter

Tourage:

250g (16 1/2 tbs) softened unsalted European-style cultured butter

 

Method:

Combine active dry yeast, salt, sugar and flour in a large bowl.

Add in the water and 100g of butter and continue kneading until just combined.

Transfer the dough to your work surface without additional flour and use your palm to knead the dough for five minutes.

When the dough comes together as a smooth, soft malleable ball, place in the bowl and let rise. This is the ‘first rise’ and should happen at 24 degrees C, that’s 75 degrees F, and should be left for roughly 2 hours to double in size.

Lightly dust your work surface and dough with flour. Deflate the dough and pat it (with your hands!) into a rectangular shape. Fold it over into thirds, then in half, wrap and refrigerate overnight. This is the ‘second rise’ and will allow the flavours to develop, adding depth and complexity. It allows the dough to relax and lose its stretchiness.

In the meantime, make your slab of butter by softening it slightly. Place the butter in a 7 by 8 inch sandwich bag and roll to the edges until you have an even thickness. Chill then trim off any thin edges.

Let the butter soften before beginning the tourage. When soft enough, remove the dough from the fridge and deflate.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 15 by 7 inch rectangle and place the butter slab on one half of the dough. Cover over with the other half of the dough. Tap the dough gently with a rolling pin then roll from the centre out until you have a 24 inch by 8 inch rectangle.

Sweep off any excess flour; fold the left third over to the centre, then fold the right over so the two ends meet. Readjust the thickness of the pâton (dough) by rolling over it then fold in half like a book. This is your double turn (called tour double).

Repeat the previous step, rolling out until you have a 24 by 8 inch long rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, making your simple turn, then wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

When chilled, remove and roll out slightly. Cut in half and return one half to the fridge. The croissant dough should always be cool while being worked with. Roll the half you’re working with to an 18 by 9 inch rectangle with a 1/8″ thickness (~3mm).

 

the pâton

 

Cut the dough into six large triangles and roll into the familiar crescent shaped look.

Place croissants on lightly greased baking paper and brush with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt).

Repeat with other half of dough.

the last proofing

Leave croissants on a counter top to proof for 2.5-3hrs until puffed and spongy.

Brush with an egg wash again and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 C) and bake for 10 minutes.

Turn down the heat to 375 degrees (190 C) and bake for another 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve the delicious, buttery, flaky croissants as you please. Just enjoy and never go back to a store bought croissant again!

Swiss Brownies

swiss chocolate & pistachio brownies

Have you ever had someone or something enter your life briefly, consume so much of your thought, energy, and passion, only to then let life carry on fulfilling its mission, taking them as far away as close as it had brought them to you?

Yet you continue thinking about them – allowing your mind to be consumed in thoughts for extended periods of the day. You only wish the very best for them because of how well they were to you, and you yearn to embrace them once more…?

This has happened to me on multiple occasions – I’m sure it’s happened to everyone – and I don’t mean for it to be only about other humans. We can take the feeling, the entire ritual, and contextualise it in different ways.  It can be in the form of a natural state, like health (as health can come and go), it can be objects or pets, or even experiences, like travel.

 

One particular instance I’ll share with you today is my encounter with a young woman from Switzerland. I had come home from uni many nights ago with a terrible headache. I was feeling down in dumps, tired, and just wanted to be left alone. I got a phone call from a friend whose English isn’t great, asking if I could come and help entertain this young woman. I was beyond disappointed that I had to get off my couch and do this – but I did it. And it was such a life changing experience.

This young woman has since returned to Switzerland and if I could fly there every week to meet her, I would. She very kindly sent me some fine Cailler cooking chocolate, and a gorgeous pink shawl. I decided I’d make the recipes inside the chocolate wrapping because I wanted to live the Swiss experience of cooking something a Swiss person would if they’d bought this chocolate.

I ran into trouble here because the recipe was in French and German… So I turned to my trusty interneters and asked for a translation! I got an awkward recipe back, which I attempted, and somehow managed to NOT follow. Meaning I could have just done some brownies myself and called it a day. Sigh. I was meant to cream 180g of butter – but instead I managed to dump it into the mixture and create a brownie that took an hour to set in the oven, as opposed to a mere 20-25 minutes.

 

These brownies not only sound fancy (c’mon, surely they do), but they tasted deliciously sweet, and I shared it with my uni team members after finishing our project – especially after, as project manager, I’d been giving them “extra brownie points” all semester long for their hard work. So they deserved these. And you do, too, go ahead and make these, and keep an eye out for my next brownie recipe – I’m doing a little comparison test :) Original (and my messy) recipe are below.

 

Swiss Brownies

 

Serves: 6 – 8 people

Ingredients:

180g butter, plus extra to grease pan

120g (1 cup) flour

160g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar

4 eggs

80g  pistachios, roughly chopped

200g Cailler milk chocolate, divided

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Melt 140g of the Cailler chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Chop the remaining chocolate to use later.

Place butter in a bowl and beat until pale and uniform. Add the melted chocolate, sugar, eggs, flour, and pistachios, mix to combine.

Butter a 9 x 9 inch square pan and spread to about a 1 inch (2.5 cm) thickness.

Sprinkle over the chopped chocolate from step 2 and place in the oven for 25mins or until set.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing or removing from the pan.

 

~*~*~

 

Seems so simple, right? I ended up doing the following due to my poor recipe following skills…

Melt 140g chocolate and 100g-120g butter* in a heatproof bowl. Add in all the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Stir in 2 lightly beaten eggs then 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and the pistachios.

Bake until set in 180 degree C oven, then leave to cool completely before serving.

 

* I’ve reduced the amount of butter for you in this version (do not use 180g!)

 

Enjoy with milk, ice cream, or as well-earned brownie points!

 

heart cake

interfational love day – a heart shaped vanilla cake to celebrate

When I made this cake recently, I declared it ♥ interfational love day ♥ because of just how adorable it is. If you’re the sort of person to save sweet treats like this to something like Valentines Day, then it’s time to break the mould and do things differently!

So before I share the recipe with you, I’d like to send out a warm welcome to all the new fati’s recipes subscribers – leave a note, won’t you, so we can spread the love (with a virtual slice of this cake) and welcome you aboard ;)

And for some more love: you don’t have to use this recipe below… use the vanilla cake recipe that you love because it’ll make this cake all the more special! I’ve recently been using the whisk attachment instead of the paddle attachment to get a really light fluffy cake – highly recommend you do this too :) Also, if you have any left over batter like I did, just pour it into a few muffin cases and enjoy as treat at work or school :)

heart cake

Yields: 1 lovely cake

Ingredients:

The cake:

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 3/4 tsps baking powder

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs (I normally use large ones)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsps vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk (use buttermilk instead if desired; reduce to 1/2 cup milk if desired)

The decoration:

7 – 8 fresh strawberries (with calyx (cap/hull & leaves) in tact

65ml (1/4 cup + 1 tsp) thickened cream

125g quality white chocolate

blue and red natural food colouring

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease and flour a 20cm pan or as I did here, a 26cm (widest part) by 7cm deep love heart pan.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until pale.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Stir in the vanilla.

Combine flour and baking powder separately and add to the creamed mixture and mix well.

Stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. And your cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile place cream and chocolate in a dry and heatproof bowl over simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl).

Stir occasionally with a metal spoon until chocolate is melted and well combined with cream.

Add a blue food colouring (I did this with a toothpick to avoid putting in too much), stir to spread colour.

Add (roughly twice as much) red food colouring and stir to create deep pink/purple colour.

Set aside to cool to room temperature.

heart cake (side view)

Generously cover the cooled cake with the ganache, spreading to the sides and letting ‘drip’ slowly. Top with halved strawberries.

Make a strawberry rose by using this technique (I always do this just with a paring knife).

Serve with some hot tea for a snuggly time ♥

 

baqlawa

baqlawa (misspelled baklava) recipe

Baqlawa. Everyone claims they do it best, but who knows? I’ve actually had this post done and dusted and sitting in my drafts since September 2012 – a whole entire year ago! Wow :) I thought I’d share it today because I’m head under stacks of study, assignments and midsem exams…. And well, it’s a near-finished post that just needed a few minutes to touch up and share. (And also because I’ve recently been craving baqlawa a lot! This craving was curbed with a friend’s kind offer to share some of the baqlawa she made recently :) ).

Baqlawa generally is super easy to make. It’s almost a repetitive process of ‘lay the fillo, brush with butter’! In this recipe, I use 2 packets of fillo pastry and I cut the sheets to size. I use the left over fillo to make cute fillo cups and fill them with spinach and ricotta or fetta :) If you have a rectangular tray that fits your fillo sheets perfect, go ahead and use that and cut the baqlawa into bite-sized squares.

There’s generally a beautiful pattern we follow to cut the diamonds out of round trays as this one (which I’ve tried to really simply/make clear with the pictures below!) Perhaps if you try it on a rectangular/square tray and share with us how it worked out, that’d be great! :) Remember if it doesn’t work out for you, the baqlawa will still taste amazing regardless! :)

baqlawa-fin

Serves: ~15-20
Ingredients:
2 packets Fillo Pastry (375g per pack)
3 cups cashews (I mixed cashews and walnuts for a nutty flavour when doing this – feel free to try pistachios – YUM!)
1 cup butter, melted
Syrup:
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 tsp citric acid or juice of half a lemon
1 tsp rose water (or vanilla essence)
Method:
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced).
Lightly grease a deep 32cm diametre baking tray and set aside.
Pulse the cashews in a food processor until finely chopped.

filling

Remove fillo pastry from one pack, and place on a bench.
Place the tray on top of the pastry, and run a sharp knife along the edges of the pastry to cut to size (if necessary).
Place 2-3 sheets of cut fillo pastry into the base of the dish and brush with butter (put down one sheet at a time for a richer flavour).
Repeat with the remaining cut fillo pastry.

baqlawa

Spread the cashew mixture over the base.
Remove the fillo pastry from the second pack, and cut to size.
Repeat brushing with butter between the sheets for all the fillo pastry.
Use a sharp knife to cut diagonal bite-sized pieces (see diagram below; comment for extra help).
baqlawa1
Place the tray in the oven and leave for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, for the syrup, add the sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Add the rosewater and citric acid and stir to combine.
Reduce to a gentle boil and leave undisturbed for five minutes.
Pour this syrup mixture into a milk mug and set aside to cool completely.
When the baqlawa is ready, remove from the oven and  immediately pour on cooled syrup. Leave the baqlawa to cool.

syrup

Serve with vanilla ice cream or tea.
chocolate mousse squares

chocolate mousse squares

I went to a morning tea just this past weekend and just had to take something along with me. I’ve had this recipe saved in  my favourites on the “Taste” app for ages now – and although it got some some pretty bad reviews from users of the app, I knew that I just had to make it. After all, it’s one of those impressive looking desserts that’s really easy to make, so why not?! :)

chocolate mousse squares

I made a few changes the recipe, the most obvious being changing the chocolate from milk to dark. I used premium dark chocolate because it always tastes better in mousses. As for the rest – well, I didn’t use any measuring cups so it was all eyeballing away :) The original recipe however is below (with the dark chocolate listed instead!)

 

I think what made this mousse so successful was imitating the macaronage process where I folded the chocolate and cream over from underneath, taking it easy on the batter as overmixing will cause the cream to separate. The ladies at the morning tea loved this (or at least as far as I was aware!) but feel free to dip the lattice biscuits in some milk beforehand to soften them, this way the burger effect doesn’t happen when you try biting into them (where you bite one side and the fillings come out the other! ;) )

chocolate mousse squares

Serves: 10-12 (makes 20-22 squares)

Ingredients:

2 x 200g packets Arnott’s Lattice biscuits

1 cup thickened cream (not lite!)

200g premium dark chocolate, chopped

60g or 1/4 cup butter, chopped

2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatine

3 tablespoons boiling water

2 egg yolks

 

Method:

Grease a 20cm x 30cm lamington pan, roughly 3cm deep.

Line with baking paper, allowing a 3-5cm overhang at long ends.

Arrange half the biscuits over base of pan, cutting carefully with a serrated knife to fit.

Place boiling water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatine over the water and stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

Place the chocolate, butter and about 1/4 cup cream in a microwave-safe bowl & microwave on high for a minute, stirring every 15-20 seconds with a metal spoon, or until smooth. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Add yolks to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.

Add the gelatine mixture and stir to combine.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream until soft peaks form. Fold the cream through the chocolate mixture and spoon over the biscuit base.

Top with the remaining biscuits (cutting to fit) – try to align the to and bottom as it makes cutting out the slices easier.

Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.

Cut into squares & serve!

garlic prawns

food[ident]ity crisis – a celebration of pescetarism & garlic prawns

Since chatting with a class mate a couple of weeks ago about food and all the -ians that come with it, I’ve been trying to put together a post in my head, but I’m finding it incredibly difficult to get my creative juices flowing. I do sincerely hope I say everything the way I intend it to mean – but do pitch in with your thoughts, too.

 

So it all started when I accidentally shared a link to a seafood restaurant promoting a discount. Really, that accident became the pivot point at which I realised I’m having one of those identity crises where I can’t put to definition some aspects of who I am. You know what I’m talking about – everybody has those moments when they don’t know what religion they are, don’t know what their family or work role is, don’t know what xyz aspect of them is – and they suddenly feel a sense of “my entire life’s a mess”.

 

Now it wasn’t that dramatic for me, I promise, but I realised I probably seemed hypocritical when I linked them to my blog, after telling them I’m pescetarian. Like whatever that is ;) A pescetarian is a person who only eats seafood and otherwise eats what a vegetarian would. And to about a 70% extent, I am exactly that. Note I still enjoy my eggs, milk and butter, so I’m not vegan in any way.

 

Now what ever happened to that last 30%? Well my problem extends beyond that. Because now I have multiple foodie identities…

Identity 1: Vegetarian

You see, all my doctors think I’m a vegetarian. Because it’s easier to tell them that than trying to pronounce that P word. And also because – whilst I eat seafood – I don’t do it that often. And telling them I’m vegetarian quickly helps them understand why I’ve forever been slightly iron deficient… “because you don’t drink blood, of course!” …that’s what one of them told me (yes, they’re a vegetarian).

The lie in it

Now I’m a “vegetarian” largely because I don’t like the texture of red meat – most of which was lamb during my childhood. So it’s rare that I ever am in the mood to eat red meat, or crave it. It wasn’t until very, very recently that I learnt the “b” word in meats, and all the different steaks, stews and barbecues that you could make with it. And being outright honest, yeah, beef tastes a lot better than lamb. But I still only consume red meats when they’re put on my plate, or when I’m somehow in the mood for them. Which again isn’t often.

Whilst texture and taste is my biggest reason for not enjoying meat – the other would be preparation. I mean right from birth to supermarket. After watching a documentary, Food Inc., I was quite shocked to learn the manner which animals are treated. My uncle worked at abattoirs here in Australia, too, and I learned of the process that involved electric shocks and other unmentionable things. So all of this makes me feel quite uncomfortable – but I don’t actively fight against it, or persue the matter much – just give me my freerange chicken meat and I’ll be a happy supporter that way. Perhaps this is just laziness on my part.

The verdict

All in all, I suppose I’m a true vegetarian about 6% of the time. And whilst I don’t eat meat much, I still prepare and cook it for others.

 

Identity 2: “Omnivorian”  (I’ll coin the word to keep the -ian trend going)

My immediate friends and family know me as an omnivorian (i.e. an omnivore). Because I’m an all-eater. Who loves chicken pad thai, mince meat pies, pan-fried salmon, all-veggie fattoush, cookies, cream, toast and crumbs. This is largely due to my cultural upbringing where “whatever mum serves, you eat” regardless of whether you enjoy it or not. It wasn’t until recent times that I started cooking when I started to enjoy meats more – as I’d flavour them to my own liking and cook them my own way.

The truth in it

I guess being an omnivorian is closest to the truth as possible, it’s just that I don’t eat certain foods as much as I do of others. I don’t like to promote myself as an omnivore but I don’t like stating I’m a vegetarian either because of all the baggage attached to being one.

The verdict

I’m probably an omnivore 22% of the time, yet one that flicks aside the meat when no one’s looking if I’m really not enjoying it.

 

Identity 3: “Carnivorian” (see bracketed heading above)

No one’s ever known me to be a carnivore unless when very specific meals are dished up. I become a meat loving muncher when sfeeha  (the proper ones), mince meat pies (the proper ones), stew/soups  (the proper ones) are dished up. Did I mention they all have to be proper? Meaning taste nice. Meaning of the type that fati loves eating…?

The deceit in it

My behaviour change is often only witnessed during colder months when comfort food is a necessity.

The verdict

I probably display my carnivorian characteristics about 2% of the time – they’re a fad that come and go quickly.

 

Identity 4: Pescetarian

“Everyone else” knows me as a pescetarian. I love seafood and all the different things you can make with it! After all, that picture of the lobster from the restaurant that I shared with my class mate is what started all this! I enjoy the array of flavours, textures and cooking methods associated with seafood and I consider it a cuisine of it’s own. It really needs careful preparation and lots of respect to get the most out of it, though. I enjoy making garlic prawns, chermoula prawns, pan-fried salmon, baked basa, grilled (or battered/fried) fish, seafood salad, and so much more.

The catch in it

Really, I’m a happy muncher of seafood and will forever be – I think! It’s one of those things I worry I’ll one day eat a dish of that will turn me off seafood for a long time.

The verdict

Put me in an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet and I’ll eat a plate and say no more, thank you. Because – yes – I’m probably 70% pescetarian, but I don’t overkill… if you know what I mean.

 

I think that wraps up who I am food-wise. So a bit of everything, really, which an “omnivore” would easily cover – but I can’t bring myself to label myself like that… So if you want to give it a name for me, do let me know, or perhaps I should print business cards which explain my eating habits to give to those who bring it up :P

 

But in celebration of 70% me… in celebration of a little seafood… I’ll end today’s post with a recipe I enjoy making because it’s quick, delicious, & easy to whip up for a weekday dinner. :)

 

garlic prawns

 

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1kg uncooked green prawns, tails intact and deveined (no less than 35 prawns)

1 small-medium brown onion, finely sliced

1/2 medium-large green capsicum, finely sliced (try red capsicum for a tangy alternative)

2-3 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon sweet chilli sauce (optional)

pinch of white pepper, cyenne pepper, dried dill, lemon pepper seasoning

squeeze of lemon, drizzle of oil

 

Method:

If prawns are frozen, thaw and drain. Set aside.

Drizzle oil into a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat.

Once heated through, add onions into pan and sauté for one minute, until beginning to soften.

Add in the capsicum and sauté with the onion on medium heat until capsicum begins to soften.

Add in the prawns and sweet chilli sauce and cook, stirring often, until prawns begin to turn pink at the tail.

Add in the remaining spices and cook for another minute, or until prawns have cooked through (be careful not to overcook the prawns as they will harden. If this happens reduce the heat to low and cook covered for another 10-15 minutes or until prawns soften again).

Serve with crusty bread and lemon wedges.

 

hearty cinnamon rolls

i heart cinnamon rolls

I really do heart them. So I made some in mini heart-shaped pans I bought from eBay (I bought six small ones).

The story goes: I saw MJs heart shaped chocolate cups she had bought from the shops and wanted to recreate these at home. I did for a chocolate mousse but one use for things as adorable as these is a waste. When I had some left over cinnamon rolls, I thought I’d make individual servings using my heart pans – and they turned out so adorable.

hearty cinnamon rolls

For those who celebrate Mother’s day, you could perhaps try doing this (just get your order in time if you don’t have any ;) ). I’m a huge fan of cinnamon – so to give you any review on this recipe would be very biased. I probably also upped the amount of cinnamon in the recipe (but the original is below) and I added a very small pinch to the actual dough (because I can eat the stuff in teaspoons :P ).

 

With Autumn in full swing these buns are perfect served warm for breakkie – perhaps with a hot cuppa, too :)

hearty cinnamon rolls

 

Yields: ~21 rolls

Ingredients:

dough

4 cups plain flour

1/2 cup sugar

3 tsps instant dry yeast

1/3 cup melted butter

3/4 cup milk, warmed

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

filling

1/4 cup butter (can use upto 1/3)

1 cup brown sugar, fairly packed

3 tbs ground cinnamon

icing

1/2 pack Philly cream cheese

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted (pure icing sugar, icing mixture’s worked fine with me before)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract/essence

Method:

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and gradually add wet ingredients to form a soft, somewhat sticky dough.

Leave in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.

Meanwhile prepare the filling by beating the butter until creamy. Add in the brown sugar and cinnamon and mix until well combined.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius.

Punch and roll until about half a centimetre thick – keeping sure the bench is well floured and the dough is not sticking to it.

Spread cinnamon mixture over the dough and roll up lengthwise.

Cut into 2cm pieces, cleaning your knife as you go so it doesn’t stick.

Place rolls into pans and leave for another 1/2 hour to rise (I skipped this step because I wanted to eat them already and it turned out fine).

Bake rolls for 10-15 minutes until golden brown (and slightly browning at the edges).

Meanwhile make the icing by beating together with an electric mixer until smooth (gradually adding in the sugar).

Drizzle frosting when rolls are warm, and serve!

 

 

pizza margherita

pizza margherita [and base]

Now that I’ve reached my first university holiday of the year, I’ve taken out the time to post – as promised – my pizza base recipe (and a Margherita at that) :)

If you remember many months ago I complained that my oven always gave me hard-as-rock pizza crusts… which lead me to make a naan bread pizza base which is so tasty – but perhaps a little time (and ingredient) consuming compared to this one :)

pizza margherita

So my story goes: my oven still gives me rock hard pizza bases, and to overcome this I always add 1 or 2 tbs of milk to any baked dough recipe I use (that doesn’t call for some), and reduce 1 or 2 tbs of the liquid (usually water). You can instead use a tbs of powered milk diluted in 3 tbs of the water you’re going to use (not extra water).

Well, I’m sure you all have your own pizza dough recipes.. and perhaps your own pizza margerita recipes, too, but there’s no harm in a little sharing; perhaps my version will inspire you :)

pizza margherita

Yields: 2 x 25cm pizzas

Ingredients:

150mL – 180 mL store-bought tomato passata (use more or less to your liking)

2 tbs chopped basil leaves, plus small leaves to garnish

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

4 bocconcini, sliced 1cm thick

4 tbs freshly grated parmesan, divided (2tbs x 2tbs)

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 teaspoon salt

Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Pizza base:

2 cups plain flour, plus extra to dust

1 1/2 tbs dry active yeast

1 teaspoon caster sugar

200mL warm tap water, minus 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons milk (lactose free, low fat, skim, etc. up to you)

1 tbs olive oil (optional), plus extra to grease

 

Method:

Start with the pizza bases by sifting the flour into a large bowl.

Stir in the yeast, sugar and salt. Make a well and add milk, oil and half the water.

Bring together then continue adding water until the dough comes together nicely.

Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes until smooth.

Lightly grease the bowl and return the dough. Cover with a tea towel and leave aside for an hour or until risen.

Meanwhile make the sauce by combining passata, basil and garlic.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.

Knock back the dough by punching it to remove air and divide into 2 balls.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface until you have 2 thin pizza bases. Carefully transfer to 2 lightly greased baking trays.

Spread sauce over pizza bases then divide the bocconcini between bases.

Scatter over the parmesan and cherry tomatoes (cut side up) and drizzle with olive oil if desired.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until cheese has melted and pizza bases are crisp and a light golden brown colour.

Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately.

chocolate mousse brownie slice

chocolate mousse brownie slice

It took a while to realise – but today’s my 2nd blogiversary :) feels weird to be honest, to think I’ve been posting recipes for the past two years. Mind you, only 130 or so :) I’d like to include a few sappy words – a romantic reminisce of the past couple of years. But these uni projects won’t do themselves while I reflect on the journey along… :( I will let you in on a few things though… :)

My dear friend from Calico Stretch has shared the One Lovely Blog/Beautiful Blog award with me. Thank you kindly, I’m touched. My blog’s come a long way, I do admit. And perhaps it has become more ‘beautiful’….

Tandoori and Satay Chicken KebaabsSyrian Sheesh Kabaabs

I love food photography – I’ve come a long way, and although I’m still learning, I’ve been asked to let you in on some tips, which I’ll gladly do soon. Currently I’m using a Canon 600D with a 50mm f1.8 lens with a polarising filter. If you love your photography stuff, I’m sure you’ll know what that means ;)

 

To that I bring you a dessert I enjoyed making and eating. I started this blog with the intention to make simple recipes that are full of flavour and indulgence, so to honour that idea, I’ve chosen to share with you a chocolate mousse and brownie slice. In essence, you can choose to cook the brownie recipe you’re most familiar with, and the mousse  recipe that you oh-so-love. But for those wanting a go at the original, here it is below… :)

mousse and brownie slice

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

Brownie

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

170g butter, melted

1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

Mousse

300g dark chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

2 eggs, whites and yolks separated

3/4 cup thickened cream

2 teaspoons icing sugar mixture

cream and dark chocolate to serve

 

Method:

Line a 18cm by 28cm pan with baking paper (allow for a 3cm overhang on all sides) and grease lightly.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Make the brownie base by combining flour, sugar, butter, and cocoa powder in a bowl with a wooden spoon.

Press over the base and bake for 20-25 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Leave aside to cool completely.

Melt chocolate in the microwave or in a heat proof bowl over simmering water, and allow to cool slightly.

Add the two egg yolks into the chocolate and stir until well combined.

Whip the cream and icing sugar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold in the whipped cream.

Beat the egg whites in a clean and grease free bowl until soft peaks form.

Fold into chocolate mixture and spoon over brownie base.

Level the top with a spatula and refrigerate for 6 hours or until firm.

Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

chocolate mousse brownie slice

smoked salmon pizza

karen’s smoked salmon pizza

So I’ve never actually seen Karen’s salmon pizza. Tasted it. Or smelt its aromas. But I’ve certainly been told about it :) And boy it sounded like something I’d devour any day! So why do I confess this? Because my version might not exactly look like hers, or taste 100% like hers, but perhaps it’s close enough to give it a shot and share it with everyone here :)

I also confess I’ve added a few things that weren’t in the original recipe – but that’s a personal taste thing, this pizza is very easy to make, and quite an enjoyable one to dine on. :) I’m imagining you could do these canape style, with small rounds of dough, 1 piece of salmon, and a dollop of cheese and tomato on top… How delicate! :)

smoked salmon pizza

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 x average pizza base (I make my own, recipe coming soon here)

20-30 grams smoked salmon (basically a few slices), torn into pieces

2 tbs each tomato sauce, barbecue sauce

4 cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/3 cup grated mozarella cheese

1/4 cup cream cheese

juice of half a lemon

paprika, white pepper, and/or lemon pepper to season

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees celsius (this should be altered if you are using a pre-packaged pizza base, or your own recipe. Heat the oven to what you would normally when baking a pizza).

Toss smoked salmon pieces in lemon juice and set aside for a few minutes.

Roll out your dough on a floured surface, transfer to a lightly greased baking tray and spread sauces.

Sprinkle over mozarella cheese and then the salmon, making sure to drip off excess lemon juice.

Top with quartered cherry tomatoes, and dollop cream cheese.

Season to taste and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve hot from the oven and enjoy!

Reheat by placing the pizza on the lowest shelf of the oven, under a broiler or for a couple of minutes in a non-stick tefal pan on medium heat.

pan-fried salmon steaks

pan fried salmon steaks

With uni back in full swing, there’s been little time to cook – so I’ll be sharing a few recipes I managed to cook up during the summer :) I love salmon – it’s one of my go-to choices when nothing on a menu tickles my fancy, or when I feel the need for something a little gourmet but easy to make.

I fry my salmon steaks on a flat-based, non-stick tefal pan, it cooks like a bbq plate, just without all the cleaning before and after. Feel free to use what you have handy, and to cook the salmon to your preferred level of doneness. I garnished my salmon with coriander, chilli and pan-fried zucchini. I had cored zucchini and fried the cores in the same pan as the salmon, the flavours infused into the zucchini beautifully. If you don’t plan to garnish with kecap manis, add a tablespoon or two into the marinade. And leave the garlic on the steaks while frying for the extra flavour.

pan-fried salmon steaks

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4 salmon steaks (between 650-850 grams in total)

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

juice of half a lemon

a dash of olive oil, extra for frying

to taste: salt, ground white pepper, paprika, ground tumeric, dried dill

kecap manis (or similar), to serve

 

Method:

Marinate the salmon steaks with the garlic, lemon juice and olive oil for 30 minutes minimum (up to three hours maximum).

Add the spices prior to frying, and mix well.

Heat olive oil in a flat-based pan on medium-high heat.

Add salmon steaks, skin side down, and reduce the heat to medium.

Cook steaks, turning every few minutes until pink in colour, flaky and firm when pressed with the back of a fork.

Serve with an extra sprinkle of dill and tumeric, and kecap manis.

Devour!

lemon yoghurt syrup cake

lemon yoghurt syrup cake

I’m a fanatic of two things: cooking (when I feel like it), and lemon desserts (when I’m craving it). Being a cooking fanatic, I loved watching MasterChef when I had lots of spare time, and few things to do :) Some of the recipes they cooked up on the show were plain amazing – and when I stumbled across their lemon yoghurt cake with syrup, I knew I had to try it – I got that lemon-dessert craving, after all!

lemon yoghurt syrup cake

I made very few modifications to the recipe, mainly for the syrup – I’d love to make this cake again, and when I do, I’d put a little less lemon juice in the syrup, and maybe a few extra tablespoons of sugar into the cake batter becaue it didn’t seem to have absorbed enough syrup to sweeten it. That is kind of my fault though, because I simmered my syrup for a bit more than needed, which made it as thick jam! At the time I wanted the cake finished and eaten, so I didn’t water it down – I should have!

I hope you give this cake a go, I think it’s a really tasty and an easy to prep dessert – and low in fat, too! :)

a slice of cake

Serves: 10

Ingredients:

Cake:

3 eggs

1 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2  cups self-raising flour, sifted

2 lemons, juiced, plus 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 cup Greek style yoghurt, extra to serve if desired

Syrup:

2 tbs water

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

zest of 2 lemons peeled into strips

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Grease a 22cm round spring-form cake pan (line with baking paper if desired).

Whisk eggs and sugar for a few minutes with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.

Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk for another minute.

Use a spoon to stir in the flour, yoghurt and oil until smooth.

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for 45 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean).

As the cake bakes, cover the bottom of a small saucepan with a few centimetres of water and bring to a boil.

Add in the zest and leave to boil for a minute.

Drain and retain the zest strips (I retained 2 tbs of the water for the syrup).

Combine the sugar, lemon juice and water in the saucepan and place on low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Stir for a few minutes, until slightly thickened.

Use a skewer to poke 15-20 holes all over the cake.

Pour half the hot syrup over the cake and allow to sink in – add more syrup and stand the cake in the pan for half an hour.

Dish up and drizzle any remaining syrup if desired.

Serve with Greek-style yoghurt or ice cream.

lemon yoghurt syrup cake

chocolate mousse

light chocolate mousse

Been a little while since I last posted. But I come with good news… I started the new year becoming an aunt to a gorgeous nephew!

It was a marathon completing his cake on time, with last minute runs to the shops for extra cream, butter, batter ingredients, and decorations!

Cake preps

..still learning the art of cake making..

 

Thankfully, after 1.2L of cream being whipped, after 120 (and too many) chocolate sticks being dipped, after half a kilo of white chocolate melted, and after 4 cakes equivalent to 8 standard batters baked, it was finished.

baby cake

But like all the bumps I manage to run myself into.. Just when I thought the cake was ready to go, I began tying a 2.5m ribbon around the cake only to find it doesn’t quite fit – I can’t do a pretty bow. But time was ticking, and the mains were nearly finished – dessert needed eating, and I wasn’t going to hold it up because of a bow tie :)

It’s lovely being an aunty… It brings a lot of sweet smiles to life – and so does eating chocolate mousse! Today I’m sharing a simply recipe I enjoyed making the other day for the little ones – but be warned whilst this recipe serves four, the serving size is that of an espresso cup. So pretty tiny. Diet style tiny. Feel free to double (or triple) the recipe to suit your serving size ;)

 

chocolate mousse

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (or 75g) quality dark chocolate, extra to serve if desired

1 egg, separated

1/3 cup thickened cream, extra for serving if desired

1 tsp any flavouring you like (eg. vanilla extract) – optional

 

Method:

Combine chopped chocolate and flavouring (if using) and melt in a microwave safe bowl (or over a saucepan of simmering water).

Set aside on a bench to cool for a few minutes. Whisk in the egg yolk until well combined.

Whip thickened cream using an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Fold cream into chocolate until just combined.

In a clean bowl (and beaters) beat egg whites until soft peaks form.

Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture until evenly combined.

Evenly divide mousse into espresso cups, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of three hours.

When ready to serve, beat thickened cream with with a pinch of icing sugar until soft peaks form.

Garnish with cream and chocolate shavings and serve immediately.

chocolate mousse

petite pumpkin soup

petite pumpkin soup

I’m back! :) In case you missed my previous post, I was doing a small tour of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand :) I’ve picked up on some amazing culinary practices I can’t wait to do here at home and share with everyone on the blog. :)

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe given by my aunty. It’s one of those eyeballed recipes, where perfect measurements aren’t really important. I promise I’ll move away from orange-coloured recipes soon (in case you’ve haven’t realised, I’ve posted a peach tart, sweet chilli fries, a peach pie, and now, pumpkin soup!)

As a final note, depending on how thick or thin you like your soup, leave it to simmer between 45 and 60 mins.

petite pumpkin soup

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

300g kent pumpkin, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes

1 medium-large brown onion, finely diced

1 tbs oil (rice bran, or olive)

2 medium-large potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes

salt and pepper to taste

cream to garnish lemon wedges to serve, if desired

 

Method:

Add oil and onion into a non-stick heavy based saucepan on medium-high heat, and sauté until onion softens, stirring often.

Add in the pumpkin and potato cubes, and immerse with tap water.

Add salt and pepper to taste and cover. Let simmer for 45-60 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring through every 15 minutes, until the water reduces down by a 1/4.

pumpkin soup

Transfer saucepan’s contents into a blender and blend until smooth.

Garnish with cream, freshly ground black pepper or chives and sip with croutons.

petite pumpkin soup

Postcard from Singapore

Sending you a postcard from Singapore. Although tonight I’m in Malaysia, I wanted to share with you the green lemon lemonade Singapore serves. Recipe I replicated here at home after my last trip to Singapore. It’s such a beautiful city with amazing architecture!

20121215-013743.jpg

Hope to catch you on your blogs once back in Down Under! :)

pretty peach tart

pretty peach tart

The last sweet recipe I posted was a peach pie. It was the result of Rufus’ “fresh peach tart” post. I really wanted to make the tart, but for a number of reasons, it morphed into a pie. So here’s attempt number 2.

I got more than a few steps closer to the actual tart this time, the only difference being, my peaches stayed whole. This tart had a nice lemony zest to it, which complemented the sweet peachy flavour. I admit I used canned peaches again, although peaches are in season now, but I really wanted the convenience factor as I was taking this tart with  me to a morning tea, and had under an hour to complete it and fridge it :)

I modified the filling by swapping 1 tbs of water with the syrup (water-like consistency) from the can, I would have both tbs next time from the can, just because of the added flavour :) I used a 23cm flan pan which I felt was a little bit too big, or perhaps I didn’t roll out my dough enough to make it fit nicely, but just be warned the base does ‘shrink back’ a wee bit after baking – so you won’t have “high” edges if you didn’t go around the sides enough. This was one of the reasons I lined my tart with whole peaches (the other is embarrassing – I own not a masher. Nay, I use ze Fork for potatoes.) :P

Use four cups of sliced peaches if you keep them whole, otherwise use 5 cups form the original recipe (if mashing).

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

The crust

1 cup plain flour

3 tbs pure icing sugar

1/2 cup chilled butter (110g or 8tbs – I used salted butter, and did not include 1/4 tsp salt)

just under 1/4 cup ice water

The filling

4 cups sliced peaches

1/2 cup sugar

3 tbs cornstarch

1 tbs butter

pinch salt

2 tbs cold water (or syrup as mentioned above)

juice from half a lemon

zest from half a lemon

 

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees ceslius.

Grease a tart pan, no bigger than 23cm in diametre.

In a large bowl mix the crust ingredients: icing sugar, flour and salt.

Cut in the butter, until the mix resembles coarse crumbs.

 

Use enough ice-cold water, roughly just under a 1/4 cup, to bind crust into a dough.

Roll the dough out and press into the tart pan.

Pierce dough with a fork and bake until golden, 25-30 minutes.

Prepare the filling by adding the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add in the water, zest, juice and butter, and whisk until smooth.

Stir in the peaches and allow the mixture to bubble.

Leave uncovered to simmer, stirring often.

Cook until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and transfer the peach filling onto the prepared crust.

Refrigerate until the tart is cold/ready to serve (don’t skip the custard or ice-cream if it’s hot weather! ;) )

Devour!

 

P.S. G&K perhaps my third attempt will turn out exactly like yours ;)

chilli sweet potato fries

chilli sweet potato fries

If you’re after a party in your mouth, then this is the recipe you’re after. It’s packed with flavour, fried nutrition (:P), and loaded with texture to kick-start the best flavourful experience you’ll ever have. I’ll make an outright confession here: these aren’t as healthy as Rufus’ baked sweet potato fries, but they’re fries, so I’ll fry them. I mean, how often do we get to eat chilli sweet potato fries? (A fair bit, I know, but still!)

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

2 larget sweet potatoes

1/2 tsp salt

a pinch of each: taco seasoning (homemade or store bought), oregano flakes, smoked paprika

 

Method:

Preheat the deep fryer.

Wash and peel the sweet potatoes (peeling is optional).

Cut the sweet potato in half, then into long strips, no thicker than one centimetre.

Pat dry the potatoes and salt.

When the oil is hot (a potato should sizzle immediately), fry for 3 – 5 minutes, or until golden in colour.

Remove from the oil and immediately sprinkle on taco seasoning, oregano and paprika.

Serve as a snack or side with sour cream and chives if desired.

Devour!

Peach Pie

plush peach pie

When you wake up to hear crickets singing, there’s only one thing it can mean, and that is it’s summer! Alright, I lie, it’s only spring, but springs Down Under can get so hot, you lose yourself between the seasons, and activate Summer-Time mode immediately. :):

With summer, you get fresh peaches, nectarines, and all the goodness of other stone fruits. After Rufus’ peach tart post, I set out to make it myself, but faced a number of problems. First, it wasn’t summer, and fresh peaches were not in season. And secondly, I needed a good tart pan to make the tart. Until I can get my hands on both things, I’ve opted to make some peach pie, which I wish to make again with fresh peaches. As with anything peachy and desserty, ice-cream usually is a must, but we all need to keep in shape for summer, so we all opted to keep the ice-cream in the tub… but by all means, spoil yourself with a generous scoop!

A slice of Peach Pie

The filling for this pie was an adaptation of the 100s of recipes you’ll see out on the web. The lemon added a nice zesty flavour that complemented the sweetness of the peaches. If using fresh peaches, feel free to add a quarter cup of each sugars instead of the amounts below.

And a final heads up before the recipe, I did cheat here by using pre-made puff pastry, but what’s a busy uni student got to do? ;)

Peach Pie

Yields: 1 ~8 inch pie, servings depend on the slice size ;)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed

825g can sliced peaches in syrup (about 7-8 fresh peaches)

3 tbs brown sugar

3 tbs granualted sugar

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3 1/2 tbs corn starch

1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1 tbs milk

pinch of salt

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Lightly grease your pie tray, and line with a sheet of puff pastry.

Peach Pie In Making...

Trim away excess edges, and poke holes through the pastry so it doesn’t puff.

Bake the pastry for 10 minutes. This helps stop it from becoming soggy when you fill it.

Meanwhile, drain and roughly dice peaches, add into a large bowl. (You will need a 2 minute blanch to peel fresh peaches, then dice them).

Add in the lemon juice, zest, sugars, cinnamon, salt and starch and toss together.

Leave aside to marinade until the pastry is out of the oven and slightly cooled.

Drain excess juices from the filling and fill the pastry with the peaches.

Peach Pie In Making 2....

Cut 2-cm strips of puff pastry from the 2nd sheet and arrange over the pie in a lattice pattern.

I rolled left over dough to make a border around the pie, it gave it a rustic look, this step is optional.

Brush the pie with milk to give it a golden colour.

Bake the pie at 200 degrees celsius for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180 and bake for another 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serving some Peach Pie...

At the 20 minute mark, I turn out the excess juices from the pie, but this is also optional. I’ve fussy eaters little girls to please who like things very crispy :)

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature before turning out of the tray, or just digging in.

Devour!

 

_MG_0347

perfect pesto pasta

It’s been over 2 months… eep! :) I’ve been loitering around your blogs, enjoying the recipes you’ve posted, and protesting with time to slow down so I get the chance to cook up some of my own. Today, I’m going to share with you a recipe I love; it’s quick to make, healthy to munch on, and I think some chicken added to the dish will up the nutritional value. As with sauces made from scratch, they’re all about “to taste”, so feel free to modify the pesto sauce to make it nuttier, greenier, or cheesier ;)

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

250 g penne pasta

3 cups fairly packed greens (rocket, basil, as you like)

1/4 cup whole walnuts

1/4 cup olive oil

2 – 3 cloves of garlic

parmesan cheese to taste

dash of salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and oregano

 

Method:

Cook pasta in large saucepan of salted boiling water according to packet directions, until al dente.

Drain and set aside.

Place pesto ingredients in a mini food processor and blend until smooth.

Toss through the penne pasta.

Serve with sundried tomatoes, chicken and/or olives.

canny kataifi cones

canny kataifi cones

It’s certainly been a very long time since I last posted a recipe – I haven’t been doing as much cooking as I’d like, but my uni semester is almost over! :) And although I should probably be getting to my last bits of assessment and exam studies, I thought I’d share with you a little dessert I put together after making knaafeh for my aunt.

With the left over kataifi I had, I took some simple aluminium ice cream cone holders and used them to twirl the kataifi pastry around. I had been shredding it for the knaafeh, so some cones were quite messy, but others were beautiful :) I won’t deny: these cones weren’t very easy to make… I didn’t take any photos of them in the making as both my hands were busy: one holding the pastry in place, and the other doing the wrapping :)

 

I opted to fill these with the ishta recipe I love, however I had originally planned to fill them with crème pâtissière, so you can feel free to fill them up with whatever you fancy. Kataifi is great for desserts, but is used on prawns and other savoury items, so you can go ahead and fill these with a finely diced salad/salsa of your choice. Possibilities are endless :)

Yields: 12 cones

Ingredients:

~ 100 g chilled Kataifi pastry

diced pistachios, for garnish

Filling:

3/4 cup thickened cream

2 1/2 cups whole milk

1/4 tsp citric acid

3 tbs icing sugar

1/2 tbs vanilla sugar

Rosewater Syrup:

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup tap water

2 drops concentrated rosewater (or 2 tsps of the bottled stuff)

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Lightly grease a baking tray and set it to one side.

Start by taking a small handful of the kataifi pastry from it’s end and placing it down on the side of an aluminium cone.

First wrap the kataifi up towards the tip of the cone, then back down to it’s opening, this will secure the end of the pastry.

As you wrap the pastry, feel free to twist it as this, too, creates a stronger bond.

Cut off the pastry when the cone is completely wrapped, and carefully place it on the tray.

Repeat this for all the cones, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown (I overbaked mine just a little ;) got caught up on the phone with my sis, hehe).

Remove from the oven but keep in place until completely cooled.


Carefully grasp the entire cone with one hand, and use the tips of your fingers to remove the aluminium cone. Don’t hold down on the kataifi too hard or the cone will break.

As the cones were baking, prepare the rosewater syrup by bringing the sugar and water to a boil.

On medium-high heat, allow the syrup to gently boil until clear.

Add in the citric acid (or lemon juice) and rosewater concentrate.

Leave to gently boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a milkmug and set aside to cool completely (I use the fridge for this).

Prepare the ishta by bringing the milk to a boil.

Add the citric acid and stir through until the milk curds.

Drain well, and place in the fridge to cool completely.

Beat the thickened cream with the vanilla dusting powder and icing sugar until soft peaks form.

Fold in the curdled milk (be sure not to overwhip the cream).

Place ishta in a piping bag/syringe with a medium-large opening.

Fill the cones with the ishta and garnish with pistachios.

Pour over a generous amount of rosewater syrup, and serve immediately.

Devour!

fanciful fruit pies - click to enlarge

fanciful fruit pies

As winter is beginning to creep up on us, I’m wishing the warmth of spring can come back quickly. Truth, however, I like colder months better, because you get to cosy up and enjoy a warm cuppa. :) I thought I’d bring some spring into the blog with today’s really easy recipe. I made these quite some time ago, but since my camera is yet to arrive, I’m yet in need of posting recipes that have already been shot :)

I was first introduced to these dessert pies a few years ago. I didn’t bother making them because my friends loved to – so I could always rely on them to bring these pies to a party for me to enjoy ;) These are, by far, one of the easiest and quickest desserts you can whip up and serve with ice cream… or tea… in no time :)

Yields: ~22

Ingredients:

1 can (800g) fruit salad in syrup, drained well

2 1/2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

icing sugar for dusting

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Cut the pastry sheets into a 3 by 3 grid (9 per sheet).

Place a tablespoon of the fruit salad mix diagonally along the centre of each square.

Fold over the two empty corners to hold in the fruit.

Place the pie on a lightly greased baking tray and repeat until the tray is full.

Place in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, turning the tray once.

Set aside to cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve with dessert or a cuppa.

Devour!

cheeky chocolate ajwa

cheeky chocolate ajwa [choc stuffed shortbread cookie]

I’ve been itching to put up a post since last week. But with an overload of study to get done, long essays to write, and campaigns to run, there’s absolutely no time to even think about it!

But since I’ve finished some 90% of what I planned on finishing by the end of today, I thought I’d put up this quick post… A reminder that I’m alive, and a post to add to the blog, because it’s looking a bit abandoned!

 

Shortly after I put up my 1 year post, one of my commenters (momcook) had her prayers accepted! In my post I spoke of the evolution the pics on my blog underwent, and how it was from a 2mp phone camera, to a 12.4 DSLR. But I had wanted a better DSLR than the one I had… When momcook wished me a good DSLR, in no time I had sold my 450D and received an email for a discounted 600D … it all happened so fast, now I’m sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for my 600D to come so I can learn how to use it… :) Maybe within a few months you’ll find me nagging for a pro body DSLR… who knows… :P

 

Anyway, since I’m still camera-less, today’s post is going to be from a recipe I did a few weeks ago. Remember my recent date-stuffed shortbread cookies post? I said I was going to try the full recipe… and I did! And it works a charm! 100 ajwas on the spot. However, I got a little creative, and halved my batter, I added about 1/3 cup cocoa to the batter and filled the shortbreads with chocolate chips instead of dates. My little sisters loved these chocolate ajwas, and I couldn’t decide which type to finish off with: date or chocolate?

You might notice from the pic that they’re a bit puffed, and the pattern made from the ajwa mould isn’t so visible. This is because the yeast was left in the dough to rise far too long while I was making the other half batter first (the date one). So here’s the tip: if you’re making a large batch like I did, then keep all dough in the fridge and only take out small portions at a time. This will help keep the yeast from reacting too much – and your pretty cookies will keep their gorgeous stamp!

 

The ajwa original recipe can be found here, with modifications to the chocolate one as stated above. I didn’t measure how much chocolate chips I used, but approximately 80 g.

Devour!

 

fati's recipes - pilcrow look!

A Year on WordPress…

A year ago today, I posted “simple spaghetti & sauce”

A year ago today, I hit “publish” for the first time ever

A year ago today, was actually really a Thursday

A year ago today, I had nothing to do at 1.38pm, because

A year ago today, that’s when my first post went live

But it’s not about “a year ago today”… It’s about the journey in between. The evolution from what was to what is… And who knows what will be “a year later from today”. I want to share with you some of the fati’s recipes’ moments encountered since last year…

 

♥ My blog went looking like this:

…segment in the middle’s cut out…

To this…

To what it is today! Did you realise? In celebration of fati’s recipes being live for a year, I’ve decided to change its appearance, hopefully for the better!

 

♥ The first comment on fati’s recipes was 2 days after the blog went live… My first commenter was Rufus’ Guide… His comment was: “Way better than tater tots. These look awesome.” On the post: priceless potato puffs – which I only made once more after that post (but I still love them lots!)

 

♥ My pictures also evolved… It took a while, but my camera slowly morphed… going from 2 megapixels to 12.4 :)

…and soon, god willing, will be bumping up to an 18 mp Canon DSLR…

 

♥ I won the versatile blogger award and Liebster blog award, and got tagged by a few people. I won a tiny little Dalahäst from Five Euro Food, and was touched at the kindness of Florence when she posted through her BEAUTIFUL dressmaker card (thank you! It’s SO beautiful)Dressmaker Card

♥ I met all you lovely fellow foodies… And many foodie idol seekers found me… very few of which sent back the recipes they did from my blog… (send more in, you guys!)

 

I want to thank you all for making fati’s recipes the wonderful blog it is… Without you, it’d be just a ‘me’ sitting on a couch, typing away for googlebots and servers… shame them things can’t cook! ;)

smoked salmon scrambled eggs

smoked salmon scrambled eggs

Today I thought I’ll do a continuation from the previous recipe… I want to share with you a quick and healthy breakfast (or brunch) I recently decided to try after discovering something similar to it. I’m a lover of smoked salmon (took me a while), and like the occasional scrambled egg.. so I found this recipe to be a winner for me, especially when I’m in a hurry and looking for something nutritious and filling – something packed with protein.

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

2-3 eggs (your serving preference)

3 tbs smoked salmon slices, chopped

1 La Vache qui rit portion, or 1 tbs of your favourite cream cheese

a dash of salt, pepper and oregano

 

Method:

Whisk the eggs and add the spices.

Place a non-stick pan on high heat and melt butter (I like to use oil instead).

Add the egg and cream cheese into the pan and stir through until the cheese melts, reducing the heat to medium-low.

Add in the smoked salmon pieces and stir through for a few seconds, until the salmon turns pink.

Remove from the heat and serve with pita bread, or baguette slices.

Devour!

perfect 'pita' pockets!

perfect ‘pita’ pockets

Now that I’ve delved deep into uni, I thought I’d share with you a quick and healthy recipe I love to make… especially that I’m pretty much always short on time… It’s going to be one of my big and bold claims, that I invented this, because I’ve never before seen it anywhere… not in Google searches, on your blogs, or in recipe books! Let me know if you have, though, so I can pass on the title to its rightful owner :)

What I love most about this recipe is that it’s versatile, quick, and cuts down on the carbs (by doubling the amount of fresh veggies) when compared to the typical sandwich. I don’t know how you feel about the average sandwich, but I can’t seem to get it through my mind that 2 slices of bread, and some filling is enough for a quick lunch… especially coming from a Middle Eastern background, where lunch is rice, meat and a whole lot more. Doing my sandwiches this way, means I get twice as many, but only with the same 2 slices of bread…. let me know what you think of this way of making sandwiches :) And remember to use what ever filling you fancy!

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

1 hard boiled egg

2 tbs mayonnaise

5 – 6 small iceburg lettuce leaves

1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced (8 slices)

2 slices white or wholemeal bread – not too thinly or thickly sliced

 

Method:

Toast the slices of bread until golden. If you toast them too much, they won’t open nicely.

Meanwhile, mash the hard boiled egg with a fork until it resembles course crumbs.

Rinse the lettuce leaves and roughly dice.

Cut the toasted slices of bread in half (I photographed this recipe so twice, so in the first few pics, I cut them as triangles, but the final images are when I cut them as rectangles).

Run a sharp serrated knife through the bread to make a pocket. Make sure you do the edges (near the crusts) and to shake out any crumbs to make more room for fillings!

Spread 1/2 tbs of good quality mayonnaise inside each pocket.

Add in a quarter of the mashed egg to each pocket.

Evenly fill each pocket with the lettuce and cucumber slices.

Serve fresh while the bread’s still crispy. I guess you could leave the filling out until it’s lunch time… what ever you do, please remember me while you..

Devour!

...just like this...

 

scrumptious curry puffs

scrumptious curry puffs

I wonder if anyone is finding today a particularly weird day. Because it’s the 29th of Feb. Since I don’t know if I’ll be here or alive after 4 years from now, I thought I’ll put up a recipe for the occasion. A while back I tried a recipe for 2-toned curry puffs I saw on Tes at Home’s blog. Although my 2 tones didn’t turn out as 2 tones, there was still some sort of recognisable difference in the curry puff pastry.

What I love about this recipe is that the dough (water one especially) is SO easy to make. If you’re the sort of person who makes fillings in advance, you could be curry puffing your way in minutes without a tiring huff or puff!

To make these curry puffs again, I think I’ll only stick with the water dough, because I think they’ll taste just as good without the butter dough and extra rolling to do. :)



Yields: 25

Ingredients:

Curry Pastry:

Water Dough:

2 1/2 cups plain flour

2/4 cup warm water

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbs oil

Grease Dough:

1 1/2 cup plain flour

1/3 cup butter, interchangeable with Canola spread, softened and cut into small cubes

2 tbs oil

1 tbs water if necessary

Filling (enough for 2 batches of curry pastry recipe above, can be frozen):

2 medium potatoes, peeled and finely diced

2 skinless chicken thigh fillets, finely diced (leave out if vegetarian)

1 medium carrot, grated

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 tbs tandoori paste (or tomato paste)

1/4 cup corn

1/4 cup peas

juice of half a lemon

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/2 tbs soy sauce

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp salt

a dash of pepper

 

Method:

Combine all ingredients for the water dough in a large bowl.

Knead well for 5-7 minutes. Cover and rest the dough for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the grease dough, crumble the butter in the flour until it resembles coarse grains.

Add the oil (and water if necessary) and knead until smooth and pliable.

Make the filling by adding the potatoes  with a drizzle of oil into a non-stick pan.

Add in the salt and stir through the potatoes for 5 minutes on medium heat.

Add in the chicken and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Add in the remaining ingredients and spices and simmer until the potato and onion soften.

Dish up the mixture and leave aside to cool.

Meanwhile, roll the water dough out into a large sheet and wrap it around grease dough.

Roll out into the long sheet, make marks with the rolling pin to help you roll it into an even shape.

When you have rolled out the dough to a 1 cm thickness, roll it into a Swiss roll.

Roll the dough again out into a sheet, then into a Swiss roll, like the previous process.

I rolled mine a bit thick, but they're tastier when the dough is rolled out thinner (I did this recipe twice)!

Cut the dough into 1/3 cm thick discs.

Gently roll the discs to flatten them.

Add the filling onto the middle and fold the pastry in half.

Press and crimp the edge of the curry puff.

Repeat this until all the remaining curry puffs are finished.

Heat oil in a deep fryer over the medium-high heat.

Deep fry the puffs for few minutes or until golden brown.

Devour!

addictive ajwa

addictive ajwa [date stuffed shortbread cookie]

Sadly, today is the last day of my summer break. Very sadly. Tomorrow as I head off to uni, I know I’ll be missing all the moments I had in the kitchen during my holidays. And definitely wishing I had experienced some more. I learned, however, that although I’ve bookmarked, discovered or written down 10s and 10s (if not 100s) of recipes to do during the 3 month holidays, I won’t always feel like cooking. To make the most of this last day, I managed to squeeze in 2 more recipes. Mini pizza scrolls, using my naan pizza base recipe, and a repeat of that delicious Ramadan sweet treat, Ajwa. Date Stuffed Shortbread Cookie Ajwa. YUM!

Truth is, the first time I had made this as an upper working hand (not child doing the simple things) was when my grandma came last year from Syria. I tried it again later in December/Jan (can’t remember) but it was almost a complete fail because I used self-raising flour instead of plain flour….because the pantry was out of the plain. The baking powder gave the ajwas a bit of a bitter/sour aftertaste, and the shortbread cookie cracked during baking, making the date stuffing a little bit very much brick-like and hard.

...guess what... not this time! The filling was so soft!

Today, I got a recipe and quartered it to make 25 ajwas. Below is the quartered recipe, and after it is the original. Word of warning I haven’t tried the original recipe, but plan on doing so in the very near future. Update: I tried the full recipe and posted about it here – it works a charm! :)

Yields: 25

Ingredients:

Ajwa dough (1/4 recipe)

2 cups plain flour

1/2 cup + 1/2 tbs softened cubed butter

1/4 cup icing sugar (interchangeable with caster)

1/4 cup warm water, minus 2 tsps

1/4 tsp yeast

Date filling (1/4 recipe)

1 cup pitted dates, firmly packed

1 tbs softened unsalted butter

Ajwa dough (full recipe – yields about 100)

8 cups plain flour (1kg)

1 3/4 cups softened cubed butter (400 g)

1 cup icing sugar (interchangeable with caster)

1 cup warm water, minus 4 tsps

1 tsp yeast

Date filling (1 recipe)

500 g pitted dates

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

 

For added flavour: 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon or ground cardamom to the dough or dates

 

Method:

Sift the flour into a large bowl and rub in the softened butter until the mixture has the consistency of very coarse crumbs.

Add the fine sugar and yeast and mix to combine. Add any additional spices you desire for added flavour.

Gradually add in the water until the dough comes together into a soft ball.

Should probably point out that you should use your hands, not processor.
Just to make life harder ;) 

Leave the dough aside. Here, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Meanwhile, finely dice the pitted dates with a sharp knife, then place into a microwave safe bowl.

Microwave on high for 15 – 20 seconds, until they soften.

Add in the softened butter and knead with a fork until the dates cool slightly and can be worked between your hands.

Knead the dates (they should be very buttery) and dice through again with a sharp knife.

Roll the date filling into small balls, ones slightly smaller than the size of your ajwa mould.

Take a small piece of dough and flatted in the palm of your hand.

Place one date ball in the centre and wrap the dough around it.

Roll it to form a smooth surface, press it into your floured ajwa mold and bang the edge of the mold against the edge bench to drop the ajwa into your hand. Use a teatowel to reduce the noise of the banging.

Pop it on a greased baking tray.

Traditional chefs press the sealed off end with flaked pistachios – this is optional however. Just wanted to point it out :)

Continue to fill the dough with dates and pressing them into the mould until you’re done!

Ajwa moulds are traditional. The ones I have are my late grandpa’s – they’re over 15 years old, but are as new (he was a master at the work he did i.e. at the bakery – not making ajwa moulds).

In case you don’t have a ajwa mould, you can pop the ajwa balls into the oven just as they are. You can use a grater, tart tin, chocolate moulds, spiky tongs or any carved surface to create fancy patterns on the ajwa dough before popping them into the oven.

Pop the baking tray into the oven for 20-25 minutes – just until they’re golden brown.

I assure you, the entire house will smell heavenly!

To check if your ajwa is done, turn it upside down. If the bottom is a golden brown colour, then remove it and leave aside to cool.

Optional: place the ajwas under the broiler for a few minutes, for a deeper colour up the top.

Arrange in a serving plate and munch on with your favourite tea.

You can also sip some Turkish coffee with these…

Devour!

lolling lentil soup: syrian style

lolling lentil soup [syrian style]

I’ve been so brain dead for the past few days. Like in the same way society scrutinises blondes for being dumb. Only tenfold worse. You see….. I’ve been aiming to get my driver’s license since August last year… I did a practical driving test on the 23rd Aug 2011… and after passing all the exam exercises, I failed while driving back to the transport department because the examiner intervened.

I went again on Feb 15 of 2012 for a test. I passed. Until on the way back to the department, I merged lanes without being asked to. Diver intervened. I failed.

I called to make another appointment and [very] miraculously got one on the 16th Feb. I was driving along and on the way back to the department……. driver intervened. Only verbally, saying: “so what do you have planned this afternoon?” I panicked! Did I pass or fail? Why is she saying this? I said, “oh nothing much!” she continued talking to me… what do you study, what grade are you in, etc. I thought, “hooray! I’ve passed” ….but I didn’t want to jinx myself so I just kept quiet until I got to the department… without an examiner intervention… which meant I had passed! HOORAY!

Thursday night my grandmother did a little dinner party because she’s so happy that I finally got my license. And on Saturday, my sis did 2 gorgeously cute cakes for a hors d’oeuvres ‘party’ we held… the cakes were a green car (i.e. the Toyota I’ve been training in which I have plans to steal from my father)…

I didn't say this, but I think she didn't smooth out the cream because.. (next caption)

It’s so cute, right?! But that’s not all… The car comes with break lights AND a personalised rego plate… FA01

...it's a reflection of all the bumps I've dinted into the car ;) nah, only joking!

… and the other is a P plate cake. Because here in Aussie, you go from Learner plate, to Provisional 1 (red), to Provisional 2 (green), to Open license.

Isn’t she so sweet? She even did a gorgeous updo for me at my request, and did all that rushing around that a host does when they’re hosting a hors de’Ovors party! I felt like a queeeeen! :mrgreen:

Anyway, since I’ve been doing nothing more than lying around in the heat and pondering over how dumb I’m becoming due to this agonisingly intense calefaction, I thought I’ll share with you a super lazy, awesomely delicious, fool proof, Syrian style lentil soup for those enjoying the cooler months! This soup is usually eaten with kibbeh (recipe to be posted one day). For meat lovers, add in about 150 – 200 g minced/diced meat half way though the cooking process after marinating with spices for 30 minutes.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

2 cups red lentils

1 small onion, finely diced

2 tbs butter (or oil)

4 cups tap water

1/4 cup bulgur (or rice)

3 tbs ground cumin

dash of salt, pepper, and baharat to taste

1 tsp safflower threads

 

Method:

On high heat, add the lentils and onion into a non-stick saucepan, and fry in the butter for a minute.

Add in the water and cover.

Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.

Add in the bulgur and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At the 30 minute mark, add in the spices to taste.

Cover and cook for a further 20 minutes on medium heat.

Serve with lemon wedges and cumin if desired.

Devour!

Told you it was too easy! :)