Monday, May 15, 2017

Thai pumpkin soup with Abalone Sauce








Are you looking for something to warm you up in this windy chilly Melbourne weather?

You are not alone the weather had turned and we seemed to have missed Autumn completely and gone straight into Winter! Which means I'm so very cold and I want to dive into bowls of heartwarming soups.

A recipe I saw in a Coles magazine for a  Thai pumpkin soup with prawns which looked perfect for a cold rainy day like so many we have been having lately.

As fate would have it I was gifted with a bottle of Abalone sauce from a company called Kansom. Which was exciting and the unknown, to be honest, I haven't even tried abalone. I was warned to use it sparingly and that it was salty. So I thought adding it to this soup would be the perfect substitution for the fish sauce in the recipe which it was! I actually didn't find it that strong and I feel like could have been a bit more generous with it.

The soup was delicious but I do feel the quantity of brown sugar the recipe calls for is slightly excessive. By the time you get to end of your bowl of soup the sweetness becomes overpowering and just too sweet. I would be happily half the quantity of sugar which for me is saying a lot!

I also had some leftover frozen salt and pepper cuttlefish in my fridge and being the queen of repurposing, I tossed these in turmeric and coriander and fried these and using them as my soup toppers instead of the prawn and it worked well. Apart from the sweet factor the soup was an explosion of flavours and was warming and delicious.




Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think.

This recipe is from the Coles Magazine.

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
500g peeled butternut pumpkin, cut into 2cm pieces
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
30g fresh ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, pounded, or 3 teaspoons lemongrass paste
400ml can coconut milk
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar (way too much sugar in my opinion)
2 teaspoons fish sauce  (Where I used Kansome Abalone Sauce)
500g banana prawns, peeled, deveined (salt and pepper cuttlefish worked just s
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 long red chilli (about 10g), sliced into thin rings
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/4 cup (35g) unsalted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped/

METHOD

Step 1
In a large heavy pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. Add pumpkin, shallot, ginger, garlic and lemongrass stalk or paste. Cook for 2-3 mins or until fragrant. Add coconut milk and 2 cups (500ml) water. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 20 mins or until pumpkin are completely tender.

Step 2
Remove lemongrass stalk, if using, and discard. Set soup aside to cool slightly. Transfer to a blender with lime zest, 1 tablespoon lime juice, sugar and fish sauce and puree until very smooth and creamy. Season with salt.

Step 3
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss prawns with ground coriander and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan over high heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add prawns and cook, turning as needed, for 3 mins or until pink and just cooked through.

Step 4
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with prawns, chilli slices, coriander leaves and peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Orange and Poppy Seed Flourless Cake



Here I go my first venture into the world of gluten-free baking. It's exciting and slightly nerve wrecking trying to imagine the world where baking doesn't require the conventional ingredients.

A couple of weekends ago I  decided to give this a try when I had a friend who has given up eating artificial sugar visit. Which is great and I think very brave,  I only wish I had that sort of courage.

I had an orange and poppy seed cake on my mind for a while which was followed by a light bulb moment to try to make a healthy version of this without using artificial sugars. Cue Teresa Cutter recipe for a flourless orange cake.

I added about 1/4 cup of poppy seeds for a touch of texture and I may have gotten little carried away with dark chocolate streaks and toasted coconut on the top, but it was delicious! What I loved about this cake was the sheer simplicity of it all. Boil a couple of oranges and then put everything food processor, flex that button pushing finger and in about 1 min you have your cake batter.

The cake turned out moist and delicious, I served it with some vanilla yoghurt which seemed to help balance out the citrus flavours. The recipe does say to use sweet oranges but how you can guarantee your oranges are gloriously sweet before you use them is beyond me.  Mine seemed to have tad bitterness but perhaps that was from the rind, which I was also completely surprised that you really do throw the whole boiled orange into the food processor skin and all!

This recipe is simple, delicious and with the natural ingredients, this is a dessert you can feel good about. I suggest you try it and let me know what you think.

The recipe below is courtesy of Teresa Cutter.


INGREDIENTS (1 CAKE)

1 – 2 whole sweet oranges (350 g total) use the whole orange – skin and all.
3 eggs
125 g honey (raw or manuka) this should be about ¼ - ⅓ cup (see notes)
1/4 cup poppy seeds 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
1 teaspoon baking powder
200 g (2 cups) almond meal

METHOD


  1. Preheat your oven to 160 C.
  2. Steam or boil whole oranges for 1 hour until soft – drain and allow to cool.
  3. Roughly chop steamed or boiled whole oranges and place in a food processor.
  4. Process until smooth.
  5. Add eggs, honey and vanilla then process again until smooth and creamy.
  6. Add almond meal and baking powder then processes again for the last time.
  7. Stir in the poppy seeds.
  8. Line a 20 cm baking tin with baking paper on the base and sides.
  9. Spoon orange cake batter into the tin and smooth over with the back of a spoon.
  10. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until cooked through and golden.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 1 hour before removing from the tin.
  12. Enjoy this flourless orange cake as is or top with caramelised oranges and lush coconut or lush natural yoghurt. 


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Buttery Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread a cookie or biscuit depending on what you call it, with such simple ingredients but yields an amazing delicious tea time treat.

A colleague's husband was kind enough to bake up a batch of the most delicious shortbread cookies I have ever tasted for our office morning tea.  As if that was not good enough, he made them chocolate chip and they were cut into the shape of giraffes. Why giraffes you might ask? Well, another colleague was celebrating a work anniversary and she also happens to love giraffes, although I have to say I don't believe one needs a good reason to make shortbread cookies into giraffes. They are just adorable!




Nat's hubby was lovely enough to provide his recipe, which is exceptionally kind of him as I know a lot of chefs can be very guarded about these things. I have been trying to be a lot healthier in my baking lately producing a delicious healthy banana coconut bread (watch out for that post) last week, however, I felt I just needed to test out this recipe. Sadly I only had heart shape cookie cutters so they will have to do!

I ended up halving my dough and freezing it for another day, it was either that or I would have probably eaten the whole thing! With half the quantity I made about 16 heart shape cookies, which was delicious. In fact, it is taking all my willpower not to get up from this chair and greedily inhale a few more. Although I feel it is mostly a losing battle. How does that saying go, "the spirit is willing, but the body is weak" that pretty much sums it up!





Give this recipe a try you will not regret it!

•    300g Butter
•    150g Caster Sugar    
•    550g Plain Flour
•    1 tsp Baking powder
•    1 egg
•    1tsp Vanilla 
•    1 tsp Lemon
•    ½ cup Chocolate Chips

  1. Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  2. Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth.
  3. Add the egg and mix in, followed by the vanilla essence and   lemon
  4. Stir in the flour to get a smooth paste. 
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips and then turn onto a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is 1cm/½in thick.
  6. Cut into rounds, giraffes, hearts (whatever you fancy) and place onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with caster sugar and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.





Monday, March 13, 2017

Donna Hay's Beef Guinness and Mushroom Pie!!


Everyone loves a good pie, deep down we all want to dig into one with a perfect buttery crust, and seek out that treasure of sinful dark rich tasty filling that just makes your mouth water.

I have found that perfect pie recipe. Donna Hay's Beef Guinness and Mushroom Pie which was surprisingly easy to put together once you have all the elements organised.

I have never tried out "hot water" pastry before and let me just tell you, this is every novice pastry makers solution to creating the most delicious crust with minimum effort. It was was fairly quick to make and so deliciously buttery that it crumbles in your mouth.

The Guinness in the meat brings out this deep, richness of the meat which just explodes with so many layers of flavour, that you will want to eat the whole pie.

This pie is the ultimate comfort food, so put down that pack of frozen pies (yes I see you) and roll up your sleeves and make Donna Hay's Beef Guinness and Mushroom Pie, you will not regret it!!!



You can get the recipe here

Monday, June 22, 2015

NAN KHATAI..AKA CLOUD COOKIES......

These have to be without a doubt my favourite cookies  yes even over chocolate chip cookies . I have been craving these like crazy for the last few months so I finally decided to try make them . These little beauties  are the perfect pick me up cookies  and will lift your mood instantly , they are buttery soft and just melt in your mouth .I call them cloud cookies mainly because I cannot  actually say Nan Khatai out loud without tripping over my own tongue and they are so light  practically burst with flavour. You just have to give them a try. I was quite pleased with my first ever attempt at these and were easier to make then I thought !




Recipe is relatively simple 

1 1/4 cup flour 
3/4 cup icing sugar 
1/2 cup ghee in liquid form 
Pinch of salt 
  • Preheat oven to 170 C 
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment or grease
  • Sieve flour and salt together 
  • Cream the ghee and icing sugar together and slowly add flour  a tablespoon at a time till you can form a soft ball of dough  you may not need to use all the flour.Adding too much flour can make them hard I am told so be careful .
  • Cover the dough with cling film and let it  rest for 20 minutes ( I was too impatient I  let it rest for maybe
  • 10 minutes and it was fine )
  • Break of dough and form small balls with slightly damp hands and place on a baking tray about 1 inch apart 
  • Bake for about 10-13 minutes keep an eye on them and don't let them brown on top
  • Once done remove from oven let cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool down completely .
  • These little morsels of heaven are amazing and they make my mornings complete I have one or two after breakfast and my day just seems instantly better!
  • I found another recipe which I shall try the next time 
  • This is it http://www.divyascookbook.com/2012/06/nankhatai.html

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Jam Tarts Recipe

This recipe is based of the Strawberry Jam Tarts recipe- from The English Kitchen Blog. Here are my few changes to the ingredients but the instructions are basically the same.


Blackberry Jam Tarts
Makes 12


For the Pastry:
4 ounces plain flour
pinch of salt
2 ounces butter
1 TBS sour cream
2 TBS cold water

For the Tarts:
       About half a jar of your favourite type of jam in this case I used Blackberry Jam just the Coles home brand which was really good.
The Tools needed
First make the pastry.

  • Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub together the butter and then add this to the flour with the sour cream
  •  Rub this into the flour using the tips of your fingers, lifting it up as you go to aerate the flour somewhat. Rub in lightly until the mixture is crumbly. Don't over mix. Add the cold water all at once and stir with a fork. Blend quickly until the mixture clings together in a ball, leaving the sides of the bowl clean.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times, lightly, to make smooth stiff dough. Let rest for 10 minutes before using.
  •  Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/gas mark 6 and lightly grease your trays. 
  •  Roll the pastry out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a sharp 3 inch fluted cutter. Place the pastry rounds into a 12 hole bun tin. Dollop heaped teaspoons of jam into the centres of each.
    The Jam Tarts ready to be popped in the oven
    • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pastry has crisped nicely and the jam is bubbling Remove from the oven and allow it to cool before eating or serving. (Try to be patient hot jam can burn your mouth pretty badly!!!)
    All Golden and Delicious ready to be eaten
       Note: If you don’t have sour cream just leave it out, I was just happened to have some left over in my fridge




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      Tuesday, December 24, 2013

      Red Velvet Christmas Cookies


      I have written up a few posts now and  not really gotten around to actually putting them  up, but it is the holiday season I'm told time to be surrounded by good things and people who have loved you and supported you unconditionally through the past year so in the spirit of that I am making an effort! .

      This year seems to have flown by .... what did  you do last Christmas.. who did you spend it  with..where were you ? Sometimes it seems like all a blur.
       Do you remember that excitement of rushing over to family and loved ones or waking up early morning to open your presents under a tree covered in tinsel and beautiful lights .
      When you want to make Christmas special  you tend to go all out.Last year I made all the traditional stuff breudar , love cake which thanks to a faulty oven  resulted in a not so  great love cake,which was a bit disappointing as I was trying to make the day just perfect it was the first time I had attempted either of them so nevertheless was proud of the fact that I managed to try out my mums recipes at least .Oh and let's not forgot the yummy Christmas cookies with colourful icing and sprinkles who doesn't love being gifted a tin of home made Christmas cookies.

      This year I thought that  I might do something a little different . I have been  playing with the idea of red velvet cookies based on a recipe I found on the blog Cooking Classy , they seemed perfectly Christmas like .They didn't turn out exactly as planned humidity and icing sugar not a great combination,but they taste yum and my whole apartment was filled with the most enticing smells of freshly baked cookies Nothing beats walking though the door and being welcomed by that !

      Ingredients
      Makes about 30
      • 3 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
      • 2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/4 tsp baking soda
      • 3/4 tsp salt
      • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
      • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
      • 3 large eggs
      • 1 Tbsp milk or buttermilk
      • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla
      • 2 tsp lemon juice
      • 5 tsp red food coloring
      • 1 cup powdered sugar
      Directions
      • In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt for 30 seconds, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs 1 at a time, blending until combined after each addition. Mix in milk, vanilla bean paste, lemon juice and red food coloring. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in white chocolate chips. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill 2 hours or until firm enough to shape into balls.
      • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour powdered sugar into a bowl. Remove dough from refrigerator, scoop dough out and with buttered hands, shape into medium balls (about 2 1/2 Tbsp each). Roll cookie dough balls into powdered sugar and evenly coat. Transfer to Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets and flatten slightly, then bake in preheated oven 13 - 14 minutes. Allow to rest on cookie sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.