Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Easy pasta with eggplant in blue cheese sauce recipe

Pasta with eggplant in blue cheese sauce recipe
This is a really easy one pot dish that requires minimal effort. You don’t even need to cook the pasta separately.

The amounts given below are approximations. You can use more or less cream and cheese, it depends on your preference. I used less.

1 cup pasta
1½ cups boiling water
1 portion eggplant (sliced about a cm thick)
1 clove of garlic, minced
50 -100ml cream or crème fraiche
50-100 grams blue cheese
Chilli flakes (optional)

1.     Add boiling water, pasta, eggplant, garlic, chilli and salt to a saucepan
2.    Cook over medium heat until the pasta is done. Add more water if it starts to get dry during cooking. If there is too much water once pasta is almost done increase heat and cook until the water evaporates
3.     Add cream or crème fraiche and blue cheese and keep stirring until the cheese has melted and well combined

Saturday, March 19, 2011

French Vanilla Sables (Vanilla Butter Cookies) Recipe

Vanilla Butter (Vanilla Sables) Cookies

These butter cookies are crispy, crumbly and buttery with a sandy texture. Sables in French means sands and the cookies are certainly sandy. I used both vanilla powder and vanilla essence, and a lot of it.

I modified Dorie Greenspan’s sables cookies recipe by replacing one egg with two egg yolks and adding vanilla powder and essence, to give the cookies more richness and aroma.

140 grams butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons vanilla essence and/or 2 teaspoons vanilla powder

1.       Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2.      Mix the butter until creamy and smooth
3.      Add sugar and mix thoroughly  
4.      Add the egg yolks and vanilla essence (if using) and mix until smooth
5.      Add the flour and vanilla powder (is using) and mix until the dough comes together. Do not overmix
6.      Form the dough into a ball, divide in half and shape each half into a disk
7.      Wrap the disks in plastic and chill until firm, about 2-4 hours. If you can’t wait that long, feel free to roll out and cut into shapes. It will be sticky though
8.      Roll out the disk until it is about half a centimeter thick. Cut into shapes and place them on a lined baking sheet, leaving about 2 centimeter space between each cookie
9.      Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just before they start to brown

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Banana Jam Recipe

This is a very simple recipe for banana jam. I made banana jam for the first time this week and it was absolutely delicious. I have never heard of nor tried banana jam previously. I don’t know why banana jam is not sold in supermarkets, there must be a valid reason for this.

Few points to note. The bananas must be really ripe. And lemon juice is important to stop the bananas from turning dark. I’ve included water in the recipe, its optional. Add water if the mixture seems dry in the beginning. Alternatively you can add orange juice or honey.

5 ripe bananas, mashed
3 tablespoon lime juice
½ cup water (optional)
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

1.      Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil
2.      Reduce the heat and gently simmer until the jam is set. Stir often. This will take about 30-40 minutes
3.      Place the jam into sterilized jars

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daim Double Chocolate Polenta Brownie

Daim Double Chocolate Polenta Brownie
These brownies are one of the chewiest I have ever had. And also quite unusual since the polenta added a lot of crunch. In other words the brownies are chocolatey, chewy and crunchy!

I used O’boy daim chocolate drink powder. O’boy contains crushed daim bar, cocoa, sugar and other ingredients. If O’boy is unavailable where you live, you can substitute with cocoa powder, sugar and roughly chopped or crushed daim bar, or you could leave out crushed daim. I used 1/2 cup daim powder. A rough substitute for 1/2 cup daim powder could be about 50ml cocoa powder and 70 ml sugar. Or you could keep it simple and use 1/4 cup each of cocoa powder and sugar.

I baked the brownie in a ramekin instead of a baking tray since I didn’t want to bake more than I needed. The rest of the dough went into the freezer.  I prefer to freeze dough instead of brownies since it becomes too easy to grab a brownie, even if frozen. I've heard that even frozen brownies taste nice and I don't want to take the risk of 'mass-consumption'!

½ cup butter or margarine
120 grams chocolate, preferably dark
2 eggs
1 cup fine polenta
½ cup O’Boy Daim chocolate drink powder
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees
2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bain marie or microware
3. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and mix well
4. Stir in O’Boy Daim powder and sugar
5. Stir in polenta and mix well
6. Pour batter evenly into well greased baking pan
7. Bake for about 25 minutes or until brownies start to pull away from the sides of pan and the edges start to brown. A toothpick inserted in center of brownies will come out almost clean.
8. Remove from oven and place on a rack to completely cool.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vienna Donuts Recipe - Guest Post

Vienna Donuts

The recipe below has been provided by Viridianka from Cioccolato Gatto

According to Viridianka this is one of the best donuts, light as a cloud. The picture speaks for itself.

The original recipe comes from by PH 'Desserts'.

Ingredients (14-16 small donuts)
10g fresh yeast
300g plain flour
3 tablespoons of caster sugar
A large pinch of salt
Lemon peel from one lemon, finely chopped
4 medium eggs
200g butter, at room temperature
apricot jam
oil for frying
powdered sugar / icing

1.       Mix yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
2.      Sieve the flour with salt and remaining sugar into a large bowl. Add the yeast and the lemon peel, then the eggs and knead the dough (if necessary add more flour to get the right consistency of the dough).
3.      Cut the butter into small pieces. Gradually add it to the dough and knead until all the ingredients combine and the dough becomes elastic.
4.      Put it into a clean bowl, cover with foil and a cloth. Allow it to rise in a warm place for 1 hour 30 minutes.
5.      When doubled in size, hit the dough with a fist so that it deflates. Then knead it for a few moments and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
6.      Remove the dough from refrigerator, roll it into a big cake 5mm thick. Cut out circles with a diameter of 6-8cm (with a glass). Moisten the edges with a brush. In the middle of a circle put a teaspoon of apricot jam. Place another circle of dough on the top and stick the edges together. Cut off the excess dough with the same glass. Cover the donuts with a cloth and leave them in a warm place until they become well puffed, about 45-75 minutes. They should be very light.
7.      Warm up the oil to 160-170 C and fry the donuts in hot oil. Drain them on paper towels and ice it while still warm
8.      Sprinkle with powdered sugar once the donuts have cooled.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Coconut polenta cookies recipe

Coconut polenta cookies

It seems to me that polenta is an under-rated baking ingredient. I don't see so many polenta recipes. Its crunch texture, nutty flavour and aroma makes it a great addition to cookies, cakes and other treats.

One of the first treats I made using polenta was polenta halva/pudding. After that I was pretty much hooked and since then I have experimented with numerous treats. When it comes to cookies, I have made both dense versions such as the polenta cookie logs as well as lighter cookies such as the recipe below. Both types of cookies are fantastic. 

The inspiration for coconut polenta cookie comes from ANZAC cookies, one of my favourite cookies. I modified the recipe for ANZAC cookies.

The coconut polenta cookies are relatively light and airy. The cookies are crunchy on the outside and chewy in the inside.

Addition of golden syrup is optional. Golden syrup makes the cookies crunchier and chewier. The cookies will still be very delicious without golden syrup.

½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup fine polenta
½ cup coconut
½ cup flour
1 large egg
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Thoroughly mix butter and sugar until fluffy and pale
2.  Add the egg, golden syrup and vanilla and mix well
3. Add polenta, coconut and baking powder and mix
4. Add about half of the flour and mix. Add more flour if needed. You may need more or less flour depending the on the size of the egg
5. Chill the dough for an hour
6. Preheat oven to 160 degrees
7.  Shape dough into discs about half a centimeter thick
8.  Place on greased baking tray with about 2 centimeter space between then
9.  Bake until cookies start to brown about the edges, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vanilla Coconut Oat Drop Cookies Recipe

Vanilla coconut oat drop cookies

These coconut cookies are really quick and easy to prepare. And they will disappear just as quickly. The cookies are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with an intense coconut flavour.

If you want the coconut flavour to be even more intense you can replace some or all of the milk with coconut milk, and the butter/margarine with coconut oil. I have not tried this but it should work just as well.

I used a mixture of plain flour and rolled oats. Using rolled oats is optional. Once you add the rolled oats, act quickly otherwise the oats will start to absorb the milk and become mushy. I added the oats to the dough just before it is ready for the baking tray.

The recipe uses ½ cup milk and ¼ cup butter. You can vary these ratios to suit your taste. I have made coconut cookies using only milk and it is very nice though it lacks the ‘butteriness’.

½ cup flour
½ cup rolled oats
¾ cup sugar
1 cup dessicated coconut
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1½ teaspoons baking powder

1.       Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius 
2.      Mix milk, melted butter, sugar, coconut and vanilla essence and let this mixture rest for 30 minutes to allow the coconut to soak
3.      In a separate bowl sieve flour and baking powder and mix well
4.      Mix the wet and dry ingredients well but don’t overmix
5.      Add rolled oats and incorporate, don’t overmix
6.      Drop teaspoons on a greased baking tray and place on the upper rack of the oven
7.      Bake until golden brown and delicious, about 15-20 minutes

Polenta Bread Recipe

Polenta Bread

This is the quick and easy  version of polenta bread. The texture of the bread is quite different from regular bread, it is more like a flatbread. The bread is dense, a bit dry in a good way and has a cake like consistency. It is not chewy like regular bread but more crumbly. The crust is really crunchy. This bread reminds me of flatbread that my grandmother used to make and I find it really delicious. 

I used fine polenta since it cooks a lot faster. I didn't try this recipe with coarse polenta. My guess is that the texture would be less desirable and the grains would be little hard and undercooked. If you don't have fine polenta either grind the coarse polenta or try soaking the polenta for many hours to soften it.

The photo is a bit misleading. The bread is not as high as it may seem in the picture, the bread is about an inch thick.

The recipe can be varied to suit your taste such as replacing water with milk or yogurt, adding aromatics (garlic, herbs etc) or using other kinds of flours. I kept is as basic as possible.

½ cup flour
½ cup fine polenta
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon oil (optional but recommended)
Salt to taste

1.      Heat oven to 220 degrees 
2.      Sieve all the dry ingredients
3.      Add oil and enough water to form a dough.
4.      Form the dough into shapes of around 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickness, place on a baking tray and bake until slightly golden. Mine cooked in 10-15 minutes since it was quite flat

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