It was a whole lot of nothing last year and hopefully this year promises to be better and I am not going in an overly celebratory mode with extravagant enthusiasm, however I do wish to welcome all that’s new and encouraging with some sweetness and this cake here which is essentially a yogurt cake has been such a rock solid standby dessert option, not least because it is fuss free, extremely easy and effortlessly gorgeous but also because you can change the fruit to suit your tastes and seasons without changing the recipe of the cake.
In a bowl mix together all the dry ingredients that are the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt
give it a thorough mix, ensuring there are no lumps.
You can if you want, mix the wet ingredients into a separate bowl and then mix in with the dry but it’s not necessary.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry
ensuring there are no lumps.
pour into a well greased cake tin.
and tap it a few time to ensure no air bubbles are trapped before the decorations begin
I drop in a few roasted pistachios and this is totally optional. I do it because I like the light crunch and sligh nutty taste these slivers offer. It’s not an essential and you can either choose to not use it altogether or replace it with another nut. Almonds work really well here, even cashews.
gently drop in the blueberries and bake at 180ºC for at least 40-50 minutes. This cake takes a bit longer than usual but it’s better to start checking once the top gets golden.
Like so. Let it rest and cool a bit before slicing.
The answer to many a questions if not all, remedying broken hearts and mood swings, to balance and calm and restore harmony, I bring to you nutella and chocolate chip brownies because adding more chocolate to a lot of chocolate makes it all the more better or so it seems when you bite into these brazenly dark bricks of utter sinful delights.
These are after all brownies and as the title suggests chock full of nutella and chocolate chips, and that I assure you isn’t anywhere close to diet food but that doesn’t make it bad, in fact if anything it provides some cushioning from all the edginess in life.
Just the right amount of fudginess in the middle with a crisp top that beguiles the slightly squidgy belly these brownies embody, they are quick to bake and easily devoured making them such an easy recipe to add to your repertoire whenever you need a quick fix whether it comes to proper dessert or as a sweet treat.
No groundbreaking ingredients these. Flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips. egg, butter, nutella, nuts (optional) and vanilla.
Start with beating softened butter.
and mix in sugar and nutella.
Add in the egg and vanilla
and give a thorough mix. This isn’t cake batter so you needn’t beat it to aerate, just mixing it well will be enough.
tip in the flour, chocolate chips
and nuts if using
and mix well to combine everything
Scrape the batter into a greased and lined baking dish and bake at a fairly low temperature of 170ºC for 20-25 minutes. Let it cool before cutting into squares and serving.
This bowl of lentil curry which is bit of a twist on traditional dahl makes for such a cozy and filling weekday dinner that can be enjoyed both with rice or just as soup and is not only comforting but also nutritious and easy, not to mention completely plant based and unbelievably delicious.
This can be tailor made to suit your taste buds. It can be made spicier or more sombre and is a great way to clear the crisper drawer of any lingering forgotten vegetables.
All you need are some vegetables of choice and here I have beans, carrots, spinach and pepper along with the very essential flavour base that’s made of onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Also soaked lentils, coconut milk and turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder and cumin seeds.
chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces and boil with soaked lentils until the lentils and vegetables are soft. Do not boil spinach along with the veg and lentils.
Chop the tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic and keep aside.
In a large pan heat some coconut oil
Add in the cumin seeds and let them splutter
add the onions
with some salt and cook until golden brown.
add the ginger and garlic
and cook until it no longer smells of raw garlic.
Now add the tomatoes followed by spices that are coriander powder, turmeric, garam masala and red chilli powder.
Stir well to combine and keep stirring until the tomatoes are cooked.
Now add the coconut milk and bring to a boil
and add in the spinach if using.
The curry at this stage will be quite thick and you might need to add water.
Let it simmer and come to a boil and this will really draw out the flavour from the coconut milk.
Add the cooked lentil and veg. I might have cooked mine too long but that’s fine.
Add some salt because the curry will need it.
I also ended up adding some more chilli powder because I like this curry a bit spicy.
Let it simmer for a few minutes before turning off the flame and putting a lid on to let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
Depending on how thick or thin you want this curry water can be added.
Serve hot with flatbreads or rice or just help yourself to a large bowl and let it nourish and heal you this winter.
Red lentils : 60g
Yellow lentils: 100g
Coconut milk: 250g
Tomatoes : 200g (2 medium)
Onion: 150g (1 medium)
garlic and ginger chopped: 1 tbsp each
Chopped veg: 350-400g
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
Spinach: 100g (optional)
Salt to taste
Cumin seeds, red chilli powder, turmeric : 1 tsp
Coriander powder, garam masala: 2 tsp
Soak the lentils overnight or at least 3-4 hours before cooking. Add the chopped vegetables to the lentils and cook until softened. Leave out the spinach if using.
For the flavour base dice the tomatoes, onions, ginger and garlic and keep aside.
In a large pan heat some coconut oil and add the cumin seeds until they splutter. Add chopped onions and some salt and cook until the onions are golden brown in colour. Add ginger and garlic and cook until the garlic no longer smells raw. (roughly a minute). Add in the chopped tomatoes along with the spices and cook until the tomatoes have softened.
Pour in the coconut milk and let it simmer before finally adding in the spinach if using. Add some water to thin out the curry and some more salt.
Let it come to a bubble before finally adding in the cooked lentils and vegetables.
Put a lid on the pan and let it gently simmer for a few minutes.
Lastly check for seasonings and add more salt or other spices as needed.
If it’s too thick then you can add some water but let it come to a boil again after that.
Do you want something absolutely chocolate without the fuss, without the beating around in a large bowl and whisking too much? If your answer is yes then perhaps this is the chocolate cake you’d want to try which is absolutely hassle free, easy to make with a fudgy rich center and takes barely moments to put together. The only waiting time is when it bakes and cools down and once that is done it’s ready to be eaten.
It’s something of a cross between a rich brownie and a simple tea time cake where all its chocolateness comes from the cocoa powder, which is why a good quality cocoa powder is a must for this recipe and of course it can be elaborated upon with icing or frosting and that’s why this cake is so perfect because its simple nature makes it so amiable to everything one could possible club it with.
The ingredients are few and basic. Flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cocoa powder, instant coffee, oil, plant milk, vanilla and some salt.
In a large bowl mix in the flour
baking powder, salt, baking soda and coffee
and cocoa powder.
Mix it well together.
Now mix in all the wet ingredients. Vanilla, oil
Plant milk. I’ve used soy milk.
Mix it well. The batter will be a bit wet and that’s what makes the cake a very moist disc of chocolate goodness.
Scrape into a well greased baking dish of choice and bake at 180ºc for 40-45 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides and the center is baked. Check with a knife or toothpick.
Let cool for a bit before slicing.
This cake was deliriously simple and magical in how it tasted. Pair it with a dollop of ice cream of some cream or custard to make it into a richer dessert.
It looked like a magic trick the first time that I ever saw Onigirazu. It was a rice sandwich wrapped in nori that tasted like sushi from an alternative reality and what? how? dear god! was all I could exclaim.
Not only did it taste delicious but it looked so mind bending that I had to make it and just like a sandwich it can be created any number of ways to suit your mood and needs, which is why I have two kinds here. One is a crispy shrimp and the other a more sombered vegan option and they both turned out absolutely scrumptious.
The ingredients for these particular onigirazu are thinly sliced vegetables (cabbage, onions, coriander, carrots), avocado and shichimi (optional) for the vegan option. Shrimps, semolina and paprika, salt, pepper, minced garlic, cumin and oregano for the shrimp option. Also Nori sheets.
and cooked rice. I have cooked some black rice with white to get a purple. Who knew? The rice seasonings include, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar.
add the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in with warm cooked rice
Add semolina and spices to the shrimp and mix well.
Cook on a hot skillet
until cooked and crispy. These shrimps have such an astounding flavour.
Now for the assembly which might look a bit intimidating but isn’t all that impossible. On the rough side of the nori sheet spread a layer of seasoned rice. Clamp it down well so it doesn’t dome and make this into anymore of a daunting task than it already is
Add a spread or sauce of choice. I went for the classic which is mayonnaise and ketchup mixed to primrose emulsion.
Top with cabbage or lettuce.
Followed by crispy shrimps.
Topped with some more cabbage
and rice. It starts with rice, it ends with rice.
And now it’s just a matter of folding everything into a pocket to form our onigirazu
Fold the opposite edges inwards so that they meet together and they’ll stick. Oh, they will stick. It’s magic.
Fold from the top and that there is our rather untidy pocket, but it’s there.
Now wrap it all in plastic wrap or butter paper as I used here because ugh, plastic! And that’s one done until we slice.
Same again for Onigirazu number 2. Start with rice and since the vegetables had no seasoning I went ahead with some shichimi, but you can use anything instead.
Followed by coriander
avocado and more shichimi, which was then topped again with rice and folded.
and so here we have a cross section of both. Side by side. I topped the vegan onigirazu with a bit of sriracha
Cooked rice- 1 cup Nori sheets: 2 Seasoning for rice Soy sauce- 1tbsp Vinegar- 1tsp Sugar- 1 tsp
Note: You can use any vegetables as per availability and preference.
Shichimi pepper for seasoning (optional)
For shrimp Onigirazu Shrimp- 200g Semolina- 1tbsp paprika, pepper, oregano, cumin, minced garlic, salt -1/2 tsp each
Mix the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar with warm rice and keep aside. Mix the spices, salt and semolina in with the shrimp until they're well coated. On a hot skillet with a teaspoon of oil cook the shrimp on both sides until crispy.
Lay the nori sheet so that the rough side is facing you. Top with a dollop of seasoned rice and flatten it. Followed with shredded cabbage. Spread some sauce or spread of choice on and top with shrimp. keep them all in a single layer so that the filling doesn't dome. Top again with shredded cabbage followed by sauce and finally another dollop of rice. Keep clamping down the filling. Fold the nori sheet from opposite sides so that all meet in the middle. Form into a pocket and wrap in cling film or butter paper.
Repeat process with vegetable filling.
Note: You can use any vegetables and seasonings according to your preference.
Fish with olives and tomatoes. It’s an Italian classic or so they say in Italy, not the kind one would find on a menu but more like a proper home cooked meal and why not because fancy as it looks and sounds this a very simple dish to put together.
It’s not convoluted with flavours and is in fact minimal almost in terms of seasoning which is why it’s important to use good quality ingredients seeing how there is no cloaking device to this dish.
The ingredients are few and simple. There’s fish of course. Try and use boneless fresh fish fillets. I’ve used basa. There’s onions, tomatoes, potatoes, oregano, black olives, lots of olive oil, salt and pepper.
We want to start with a base layer. Coat the baking tray or dish with a thin layer of olive oil.
And layer with potatoes. Use thinly sliced potatoes for this dish. I used a mandolin to get the necessary thinness.
Sprinkle over some salt and pour over half the olive oil and bake at 200ºC for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and have developed some colour.
Once out of the oven layer the thinly sliced onions and chopped up tomatoes.
And sprinkle over some salt
before finally adding the fish.
Top with olives and oregano and sprinkle some more salt. Don’t go heavy handed with the salt. Sprinkle sparingly since almost every step has a bit.
Finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil before baking at 200ºC at for 20 minutes or until the fish is just cooked.
Let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
This can be eaten just as is or with a hunk of good bread.
Fresh fish fillets: 250g Potatoes: 300g (thinly sliced) Onions: 1 medium (thinly sliced) Tomatoes: 250 gms (chopped into bite size or use cherry tomatoes) Olive oil: 15-20mls Black olives: 70g Fresh Oregano: 1 large bunch or 2 tsp dry oregano salt and pepper.
Brush the baking tray or dish with some olive oil and layer with potatoes. Sprinkle over some salt and bake at 200ºC for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are mostly cooked and have developed some colour. Layer the now cooked potatoes with thinly sliced onions and tomatoes and sprinkle some more salt and pepper. Place the fish on top and cover with olives and oregano, either dried or fresh. Finish with a generous amount of olive oil before baking at 200ºC for another 20 minutes or until the fish is just cooked. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.
It was at a Japanese deli that I came across perfectly shaped ice cream scoops which upon further inspection turned out to be made of potatoes with bits of ham, bacon and cucumbers dotted about the perfect potato spheres and I absolutely had to buy some. It was different in a way that there was sweetness, some tang, and bites of chew courtesy the bacon alongside a refreshing crunch from the cucumbers and it was this interesting mingling of textures within the creamy heft of potatoes that made of me a complete convert.
I’d had japanese potato salads before , but perhaps never deconstructed their anatomy the way I did while eating these, mostly in part due to the scooped out shapes or perhaps because of the crunchy cucumber texture, but I knew I had to make these and so here we are.
There is boiled potato, cooked bacon shopped into tiniest possible bits, chopped ham as tiny as can be managed, thin cucumber slices, salt and sugar (not pictured)
and most importantly Japanese mayonnaise which makes this dish what it eventually will be. It’s a lot more different than regular mayonnaise in that it’s sweeter has a peculiar flavour to it which is both tangy and sweetly pungent.
Sprinkle over some salt and sugar on the cucumber slices and wait for them to release water, which then must be thoroughly squeezed out.
Mash the potatoes until it isn’t chunky. Potato ricer works best but if the potatoes are warm then just mashing it with an overzealous intensity will guarantee similar results. Add the japanese mayonnaise to it and mash until well incorporated.
Once the potato is well mashed with the mayo and there are no lumps add in the bacon and ham pieces. I switched to a wooden spoon once everything was well blended because it’s much easier to work with.
Finally add in the squeezed and drained cucumber slices and mix well. Check and adjust seasoning. The cucumber slices will retain a lot of the salty sweetness from the previous sprinkling of salt and sugar.
I let mine sit in the fridge for half an hour before scooping out using an ice cream scoop.
Of course this salad can be eaten just as but then you wouldn’t reflect upon the beauty of this salad or ponder over its subtle sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy texture.
IngredientsPotatoes: 2 large boiled
Bacon: 2 rashers chopped and cooked crisp
Ham: 2-3 slices chopped fine (2 tbsp)
Cucumber: 1 small
Japanese style mayonnaise: 2 heaped tbsp
Salt: 2 tsp
Sugar: 1 tsp
Add the salt and sugar to the thinly sliced cucumbers and keep aside for ten to fifteen minutes to draw out the water from the vegetable. Squeeze and drain the cucumbers and reserve. Peel and mash the potatoes until there are no lumps. Add in the mayonnaise and beat it in, Add the chopped bacon, ham and mix well again. Add in the cucumber slices and mix in. Check for seasoning and refrigerate for half an hour before serving. can be served just as or can be scooped out using an ice cream scoop.
These are triangular scones made with little effort and lots of cheese which is why they hardly last as long and taste delicious if a little bit naughty and with every bite they get progressively enjoyable.
These aren’t something I’d eat everyday of my life which is why they’re special, made on days when the mood is light and gym bag out of sight or when it’s rainy, dull and the air is sullen;these cheese chilli scones are just as good as cake at uplifting spirits and go well with tea and coffee and they’re best eaten when hot but that’s not an absolute requirement because they taste just as great when cold.
The ingredients aren’t many and they’re the makings of every good scone. Flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, butter, any sharp cheese, paprika and yogurt or buttermilk.
I have already mixed in soda, salt, baking powder and sugar together in with flour.
have the butter fridge cold, cut into cubes and mix in with the flour. I find fork and fingers work best.
One the butter has been worked into the flour, its texture becomes lumpy which is the cold butter clinging on bits of flour.
Pour in the yogurt and briefly mix to form a shaggy dough.
until it looks like this and transfer on the work surface.
Don’t knead the dough because it doesn’t need to form gluten. We just need it to come together with minimal effort.
use your hands and a bench scraper to put it together. It’s not going to be uniform and it will be broken and falling apart but it’ll all come together.
Sprinkle the top with half the cheese paprika mixture and fold both the ends like a book. I forgot to take the picture of the cheese sprinkling part.
Turn it over and around. Sprinkle on some flour and roll it out with a rolling pin.
like so. Some cheese might spill out but it doesn’t matter.
Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese reserving a bit for the topping.
now fold it again like a book and turn it over and roll to the thickness you like.
If you desire tall and thick scones then roll it thickly, if however you don’t mind skinny scones then roll thinner. I rolled mine out to almost 1cm thickness and cut them into square which I further cut into triangles.
Spread on a well floured baking tray and sprinkle the remaining cheese over.
Bake at 200ºC oven for 20-25 minutes until the scones have risen slightly and the cheese has begun to melt and ooze out.
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and powder and whisk well.
Mix together the cheese and paprika and reserve.
Add the cold cubed butter to the flour mixture and using a fork or fingers rub into the flour until the butter fuses with it to form a grainy buttery texture.
Pour in the yogurt and mix briefly with a spoon before inverting on the work surface. Bring it together without kneading into a rough rectangle. At this stage it won’t matter if the mixture isn’t cohesive.
Sprinkle some flour and roll to form a half inch thick square. Sprinkle half the cheese and fold both the ends of the dough to meet in the center like a book.
Turn it over and around and roll out the dough again.
Sprinkle over the remaining cheese reserving a small handful.
Fold over both ends again and turn it over and around and roll it out again to desired thickness.
Use a round shaped cutter to cut out round scones or simply slice into squares and then triangles with a knife.
Finally sprinkle over the last bit of cheese and bake at 200ºc for 20-25 minutes or until the scones have beautifully puffed up and the cheese has begun to melt and bubble.
Can be enjoyed as a solitary snack or with tea and coffee.
It could have been the sudden onslaught of summers or the desperate need to eat something sweet or even the fact that my pantry boosted a most comprehensive collection of coconut milk that I suddenly felt this overbearing need within me to bake a coconut cake and not just any coconut cake but beautiful bundt at that and thusly here we have a gorgeously sweet, tropically kissed and easily made coconut cake.
The ingredients are eggs, flour, baking powder, butter, sugar, coconut flakes or dessicated coconut, sugar, lemon zest and coconut milk. Also vanilla extract (not pictured)
I used a food processor to mix the lemon zest in with the sugar just so it’s evenly distributed and renders a more aromatic scent. This step didn’t do much to affect the end result so it’s optional.
crack eggs in a clean mixing bowl
and add in the sugar
and beat well for a few minutes until pale
Heat coconut milk and melt in the butter ensuring it doesn’t get too hot and reserve for later.
Add vanilla extract
followed by the flour and baking powder. Add it in batches. Mixing constantly and scraping the sides of the bowl intermittently.
Once the flour is well mixed add in the coconut flakes and mix again.
and finally pour in the coconut butter mixture.
Beat well ensuring there are no dry lumps in the batter.
Pour into a well greased baking tin. I’m using a bundt pan but feel free to make it into a regular sheet cake or even cupcakes.
Bake at 170ºC for 45-50 minutes in a preheated oven or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.
Dust with powdered sugar or sweetened coconut flakes before serving.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and keep aside.
In a clean pan heat the coconut milk and melt in the butter. Don’t let the mixture get too hot. Reserve for later.
Crack in the eggs in a large bowl and beat in the sugar and lemon zest until the batter gets well aerated and turns pale. It will take a few minutes and add in the vanilla extract.
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt mixture into the egg and sugar batter in batches until well incorporated. Keep scraping the sides of the bowl to ensure no lumps or dry bits of flour are stuck to the sides.
Once the dry ingredients are mixed in beat the coconut flakes/desiccated coconut followed by the coconut milk and butter mixture.
Mix well until you have a sunkissed pale yellow batter punctuated with grainy bits of coconut flakes.
Scrape the batter in a well greased baking pan and bake at 170ºC for 45-50 minutes or until the top of the cake is copper hued and a knife inserted comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in its pan for at least 10 minutes before inverting on a cooling rack where it needs to cool down for another ten minutes before slicing in.
Finally dust with sugar or sweetened coconut flakes before serving.
Wrapped in rice papers crammed with crunchy vegetables and piled with a delicious marinated tofu, these spring rolls which I do agree are a much larger almost dumpling sized kin to their fresh and slimmer relatives are a perfect treat either as a snack or even as a post workout meal when eaten in huge quantities since these are annoyingly delicious and guiltless and making them isn’t nearly as tedious as one would think.
Of course cooking anything in the kitchen requires a bit of work and these aren’t as much work as one would think and in fact they’re rather fun to make.
The filling is entirely personal and often depends on what’s present in the refrigerator; also a great way to use leftover vegetables.
The ingredients which I used were tofu, thinly sliced carrots, capsicum, avocado, cucumbers, coriander and leftover roasted asparagus. Like I said, the filling depends entirely up to you and the contents of your fridge.
You want to slice your carrots in a way that they’re almost julienned, so begin by slicing them lengthwise
and slice them lengthwise again to get matchsticks
also slice the rest of the veg as thin as manageable.
Slice firm tofu in long strips and the firmer the tofu the better its tenacity to not crumble.
we need flavour in these spring rolls since everything else is going to stay raw and crunchy with a play on textures, the tofu in question needs to have a punch and marinating it for a few minutes really does the trick.
Sizzle the marinated tofu on a very hot pan with a drizzle of oil.
let it char on both sides for a minute or so
Before finally adding the marinating liquid the tofu sat in. Let it cook and bubble and get absorbed.
And here you have it. What was once a rather pallid looking block of protein is now a bronzed vivacious looking filling for our spring rolls.
Now for the assembly which is where the fun begins. You need a large plate filled with water which can fit the rice papers, a clean damp kitchen towel and all the accoutrements sat neatly in front so the conveyor belt process can work.
Begin by immersing the rice papers in water on both sides for a few seconds until the entire surface is wet but not wilting.
Then transfer it to the damp paper towel
and begin layering the vegetables. I start with coriander first just so the rolls look pretty after getting rolled up, however because I stuffed them to spilling the final outcome wasn’t prettiness but greed and so the layering didn’t much matter but if you want to make them look presentable and dainty then maybe fill them a little less audaciously.
then came leftover asparagus. It’s absolutely optional. You can instead use cabbage, shredded lettuce or whatever you feel like.
next came in avocado
closely followed by capsicum and carrots
and finally tofu and cucumbers.
Next comes the rolling part where you gently but with purpose and intent enclose the vegetables in their transparent rice veil by folding the now very sticky rice paper over in a manner of wrapping.
and fold the two opposite ends to meet the first roll. Doesn’t matter if there are small tears in the paper or if all the vegetables don’t stay inside the first fold because we will roll it again.
Keeping the wrapping firm
Since the rice paper is sticky it will stay glued and the chances of making mistakes are few. Roll it up until it’s a roll.
something like this and there you have it. Giant spring rolls to stave off any hunger pangs.
Rice papers: 4 to 5 Firm tofu: 200g Carrot: 1 small Capsicum: 1 small or half a large Coriander: 1 large bunch Avocado: 1 half Cucumber: 1 small asparagus: 3-4 roasted and halved.
For the tofu marinade Sesame oil: 2 tsp Light soya sauce: 1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar: 2 tsp Sriracha or any chilly sauce: 2 tsp Brown sugar: 2 tsp
Slice vegetables into thin slices. Cut tofu into strips and marinate for 5-10 minutes. Heat some oil in a pan and gently place tofu strips until browned or lightly charred for a minute. Turn them over and after half a minute pour the marinting liquid in the pan. Let it bubble and thicken for another half a minute before turning off the heat. The tofu should be glossily bronzed on both sides.
Lay out all the ingredients for the rolls in front and fill up a large plate, big enough to fit the rice papers with water.
Dampen a clean kitchen towel and keep in front. Gently lower the rice paper in the plate with water and wet it on both side for a few seconds. Do not let it begin to soften. Transfer on the damp kitchen towel and begin layering the paper close to the edge near you to form into spring rolls.
Once the vegetables are stacked, fold over the now soft and sticky rice paper once. Fold the opposite ends on the sides to stick over the first fold and roll again to seal the edges.