Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lentil Tomato Spread

Lentil tomato spread
This lentil tomato spread is a simple and versatile dish. The spread is actually a thickened version of the soup.

The recipe is for a plain version which is quite tomatoey! You can reduce the amount of tomato paste if you prefer the soup to be more lentilly! I also prefer plain spread but you can ‘dress up’ by adding ham, sundried tomatoes, yogurt and so on.

The spread can be refrigerated for 2-3 days and perhaps frozen for much longer. I have never frozen these.

I like my spread to be a bit chunky, where you can actually see lentils. You can blend/blitz the mixture if you prefer a smoother consistency.

The recipe calls for addition of butter or olive oil. I prefer to stir in the butter or olive oil at the end so the flavour of the fat is more profound.

BTW, a quick search on the trusted Wikipedia revealed that lentil soup is mentioned in the Bible: In Genesis 25:34, Esau is prepared to give up his birthright for a pot of fragrant red lentil soup (a "mess of pottage") being cooked by his brother, Jacob.

  • ½ cup lentils
  • ¼ cup tomato puree
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon spices such as harissa, mixed spice
  • Water (1 cup or more)
  • 25 grams butter or olive oil

  • Add all the ingredients to a pot, except for butter/olive oil
  • Cook on medium low heat for about 1½ to 2 hours
  • Stir occasionally and add more water if the mixture starts to dry up
  • When done stir in the butter/olive oil and spread

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

3-Ingredient Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

Light, airy, crunchy and slightly crumbly, only 3-ingredients and no butter...
3-Ingredient Oatmeal Cookie, with chocolate
Yes this recipe just uses 3 ingredients, and cake mix is not one of them! And neither is butter, so it’s a butterless cookie. 

The recipe was developed out of necessity. I haven’t been shopping for a while and there is no flour, no raisins, no butter and very little coconut and butter/margarine in my pantry. I really felt like having oat cookies and with limited ingredients I had to become creative.

What I did have in the pantry was eggs, sugar and oatmeal: a liquid + a sweetener + carbs = 3-ingredient oatmeal cookies. And it worked. If you have a better stocked pantry, you can add dried fruits and nuts, or even fresh bananas. Or even add chocolate chips. However it would no longer be a 3-ingredient oatmeal cookie. Its your choice - maintaining the integrity of the 3-ingredient cookie or having perhaps a nicer tasting cookie:)

The cookies turned out light, airy, crunchy and slightly crumbly, and not eggy unless you use really old eggs I suppose.

What I often do is freeze the dough, and I did the same today. In the evening I could not resist the thought of munching on some of these cookies so I baked some cookies from frozen dough, without defrosting. It worked fine, just as good as fresh dough. I sliced the frozen dough about half cm thick and baked frozen. Why wait and defrost when you can slice and bake:)

300ml rolled oats
100ml sugar
1 small egg

1.  Preheat oven to 175 degrees and toast oats until brown, about 15-20 minutes
2.  Crush the oats coarsely
3.   Mix egg and sugar thoroughly until it turns light
4.   Fold in oats
5.    Drop tablespoons on a well greased baking tray
6.     Flatten with wet fork
7.      Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly golden and delicious

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lightly Spiced Mustard Potatoes and Chickpeas

This is a quick and delicious meal. I usually make different variations but since I started this blog it’s the first time I made it so I thought I would post the recipe for today’s version.

I like mustard seeds, it adds crunch, flavour and ‘visible appeal’. They say you eat with your eyes first and for me mustard seeds make the dish much more appealing.

What I normally do is parboil the potato, either cooking it partially or fully, depending on my mood. 

Ingredients (for one person)
  • 1 medium sized potato
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice such as curry powder
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Toast the mustard seeds
  • Reduce heat to medium and add oil
  • When hot add spice powder and garlic and cook until aromatic and garlic starts to brown
  • Add cubed potatoes, chickpeas and salt
  • Cook until tender, stirring occasionally. You can cook for longer till the potatoes turn crispy

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies Recipe

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

These crinkle cookies are crunchy (crinkly!) on the outside and soft and moist in the inside. Its almost like eating crispy chocolate mud cake, in cookie form.

Crinkle cookies look delicious, taste delicious and are so simple to make. The basic recipe can be tweaked to suit your tastes as well as what is available in your pantry. You can make it spicy by adding cinnamon, cardamon or ginger, make it more chocolatey by adding chocolate chunks and so on. The options are limited to your imagination.

'Crinkles' are formed by rolling the dough in icing sugar before baking. I tried crinkling my cookies with dessicated coconut and crushed corn flakes as well. The dessicated coconut cookie had a subtle coconut taste while the corn flake version was very crunchy. Personally I preferred all three of them equally.

You should be able to get 30 decent sized cookies from one batch.

75 grams butter or margarine
½ cup sugar (or ¾ cup if you prefer sweeter)
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1 cup flour
¼ cup rice flour (optional, use flour instead if unavailable)
Coating: Icing sugar, dessicated coconut, crushed corn flakes

  1. Mix butter and sugar thoroughly
  2. Add eggs and mix until the mixture turns light (about 3 minutes by hand)
  3. Add shifted cocoa powder and flour and mix gently
  4. Chill the dough for 1-2 hours
  5. Make into balls (about an inch diameter), roll in coating and flatten slightly
  6. Bake at 170°C / 340°F for about 10-12 minutes

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Chickpea Pilaf Recipe

    Chickpea pilaf
    This is a vegetarian version of pilaf. Rice and meat combinations appear in many cultures, each having its own little variation. The Central Asian version includes meat, carrots, fat and sometimes dried fruits, Pakistani's are heavy handed with spices while the Spanish throw in seafood. Whatever the variations, two things appear to be common in most pilafs – the name starts with 'p' (plov, pilaf, pulau, paella, pilota...) and the end result is usually tasty.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    ANZAC Cookies/Biscuits Recipe (or Coconut Oat Cookies)

    ANZAC Cookies

    The name ANZAC comes from Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, hence you’ll easily find these cookies in Australia and New Zealand. It wasn’t the army corps that came up with the recipe. It has been claimed that the biscuits (or cookies for Americans!) were sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation. You can read more on the history here. Thank you ANZAC wives for coming up with this wonderful cookie!

    The recipe is very forgiving, if you don't follow all the directions exactly or even leave out or replace some ingredients the cookies will still be very delicious. And the cookies turn out different each time I make them.

    The recipe which was put together decades ago is excellent, something so good does not need to be changed. However curiosity got the better of me and I could not resist experimenting:

    - margarine instead of butter: The cookies were still very nice however it cannot beat butter. Butter adds a nice flavour and aroma. And because butter has a lower melting point compared with margarine, cookies made with butter spreads during baking. If you use margarine, the cookie will retain the shape during baking, therefore you will need to flatten the cookie more before baking.
    - without golden syrup: Golden syrup helps in binding, adds more chewiness and deepens the flavour. Cookies without golden syrup will still be delicious but it will not be the same
    - brown sugar instead of white sugar: Naturally there is more flavour with brown sugar
    - with dark syrup instead of golden syrup: Dark syrup has a more intense flavour and personally I prefer using dark syrup instead of golden syrup.
    - with molasses instead of golden syrup: molasses adds a stronger flavor. While the cookies made with molasses are still very nice, they are quite different from ANZAC Cookies. You can find a molasses version of the recipe here.
    - without baking soda: the cookies still turn out nice though it does not rise as much. The difference is almost negligible since the air trapped by the oat flakes helps in rising
    - with baking powder instead of baking soda: the cookies were the same. I mixed baking powder with flour before adding to the butter mixture.
    - with a mixture of oil and butter: The difference is not much. There was enough butter to give the butter flavor while the oil changes the texture a little bit and also affects the nutritional profile of the cookie, perhaps in a positive way.
    - without flour: I have replaced flour with oat flour to make gluten free ANZAC Cookies. The cookies were wonderful, lighter, crispier and chewy. The recipe is available here. 

    Be gentle when forming the dough into balls and flattening it. If you press too hard the cookies will be tougher while if you are too gentle the cookies will be really delicate. You can experiment and find a balance that suits your taste.

    You can freeze extra dough. Freezing does not affect the quality, the only problem is that frozen dough eaten straight out of the freezer is extremely delicious.

    ANZAC cookies are not really well know outside of Australia and NZ. The following bloggers have tried ANZAC's. You can read about their experiences here:

    125g butter
    1 cup plain flour
    1 cup rolled oats
    1 cup desiccated coconut
    ¾ - 1 cup sugar (original recipe suggests 1 cup, I prefer less)
    1 tablespoon golden syrup
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 tablespoons boiling water

    1. Heat the oven to 180°C/360°F
    2. Melt butter and golden syrup in a saucepan
    3. Mix baking soda with boiling water and add to the butter mixture
    4. Combine all dry ingredients then add melted mixture and mix well
    5. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls, place on baking tray and flatten slightly
    6. Bake until golden brown and delicious, approx 10-15 minutes

    Friday, December 3, 2010

    Cinnamon Buns Recipe

    This is a Swedish version of the recipe. It is difficult to say where cinnamon buns originated but it is so popular in Sweden that there is even a cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) celebrated on October 4. I am not aware of any other country having a cinnamon bun day. So even if we cannot be certain where cinnamon buns originated lets just say cinnamon buns are more at home in Sweden than perhaps in any other country.

    The Swedish and international recipes are similar except that the Swedish recipe did not use eggs. Thats the only difference I found.

    When making these, I tried some variations by adding coconut flakes and raisins to part of the batch. They were both good but its not the original!

    Be generous with the butter in the filling, if in doubt add more not less otherwise the buns will turn out dry and not so nice. Also watch very closely when baking as it can go from done to overdone in a minute or so.

    The buns freeze very well, in case there are leftovers:)

    • 25 g yeast
    • 75 g butter or margarine
    • 1 cup milk
    • 50ml sugar
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • About 2 ½ cups flour
    • 75 g butter or margarine
    • 50 ml sugar
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 egg
    • Pearl sugar
    • Warm milk and butter until lukewarm
    • Add yeast and stir until dissolved
    • Add salt, sugar and cardamom and mix
    • Add flour and work the dough until soft and smooth
    • Cover and let is rest in a warm place until double in size, about an hour
    • Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape about 20cm x 50 cm
    • Prepare the filling by mixing butter or margarine, sugar and cinnamon.
    • Spread the filling evenly and roll up the dough
    • Cut the rolled dough into 1.5cm slices and place on baking tray
    • Let is rest covered for about 30 minutes
    • Glaze the tops with beaten egg
    • Sprinkle pearl sugar
    • Bake for 8-10 minutes at 225 degrees (or 10-12 minutes at 200 degrees in a fan forced oven
    Translated from recepten.se

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Mac and Beans, with meatballs recipe

    This one pot dish takes just 15-20 minutes to prepare. You can reduce the total preparation and cooking time to 10 minutes by skipping the first 4 steps in the recipe below. Just add everything to a pot and cook until done. 

    Pasta that has been cooked in tomato sauce acquires an interesting texture. Its not al dente and its not mushy either, somewhere in between with a creamy coating.

    The dish tastes a lot better than it looks in the photo. 

    3-6 meatballs
    ½ cup cooked beans (I used chickpeas)
    ½ cup macaroni
    2 tablespoons tomato puree
    1 clove garlic
    ½ tablespoon cumin
    1-2 tablespoons oil, or more
    1 cup boiling water

    1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil on a sauce pan over medium heat
    2. Add meatballs, finely chopped garlic and cumin
    3. Cook until browned
    4. Add tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes
    5. Add pasta, beans and water and low heat to medium low
    6. Cook covered until pasta is done, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. You may need to add more water
    7. When done, add the remaining oil and mix until well emulsified. The sauce will turn creamy.

      Healthy Sugarfree and Butterfree Oat Fruit Cookies Recipe

      These cookies are sugar free and butter free and very delicious. I decided to convert a regular oatmeal sultana cookie recipe into a sugar free version by simply increasing the fruit content. And I replaced the butter with vegetable oil. And it worked pretty well. The cookies have an excellent texture, crunchy on the outside and slightly soft and chewy on the inside.

      I used raisins and bananas, which I find to be a really nice combination. The smell of baking banana's is quite pleasant. Banana's also made the cookies moist while the outside remained crispy.

      I used pieces of frozen bananas, I found it easier to work with. However I don't think using fresh banana's would do any harm since the bananas become soft during baking anyway.

      A nice caramelisation formed at the bottom of the cookie since the softened banana, melting butter and oil all found each other at the bottom of the cookie. Another recipe for a sugar free cookie is available here.

      ½ cup vegetable oil, softened coconut oil or softened butter
      1 large egg
      1½ cups rolled oats
      ¾ cup flour
      ½ teaspoon baking soda
      ½ teaspoon salt
      1 cup fruits (I used raisins and frozen banana)
      ½ cup dessicated coconut (optional)
      1 tablespoon dark syrup (optional)

      1. Heat the oven to 180°C/360°F
      2. Mix oil or butter and syrup until creamy
      3. Add egg and beat well until it turns pale
      4. Add flour, oats, baking soda and salt and mix well
      5. Stir in fruits
      6. Drop tablespoons onto baking sheet, flatten and bake on a higher rack until light brown, about 15 minutes

      Tuesday, November 30, 2010

      Oil Pastry Recipe

      A healthy alternative to butter pastry
      What you need: 
      • 2 cups ( 500 mL) all-purpose flour
      • 1 tsp ( 5 mL) salt
      • 1/2 cup ( 125 mL) canola oil
      • 4 tbsp ( up to 6 tbsp, 60 to 90 mL) ice-cold water
      1. Mix flour and salt into a bowl
      2. Make a well in centre, add oil and mix with a fork until particles are the size of small peas
      3. Mix in 4 tablespoons (60 mL) of water until dough almost lifts from side of bowl. If dough is dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) at a time
      4. Dough is ready for use
      Recipe adopted from Chateliane

      Thursday, November 25, 2010

      No bake chocolate oat squares/balls recipe

      WARNING: do not continue reading if you have no willpower. This dessert is so simple and tasty - you can be literally in and out of the kitchen in a few minutes with a tasty treat in your hands...

      The recipe is a variation of the Swedish chocolate balls and the American (?) oat squares. It is really delicious, and perhaps relatively healthy as well. The key ingredients, rolled oats and cocoa are very healthy, almost considered super foods, butter, coffee and syrup are relatively healthy and lets not talk about sugar. 

      In addition to being really simple to make and delicious, another weakness is that it is almost impossible to screw it up, unless you are really adamant in doing so. I make it without following the recipe since its easy to adjust as you go along. 

      The recipe is quite versatile. If you are feeling in a healthy mood, use less butter, or substitute with oil. If you use less butter the mixture will be dry. You won't be able to form squares or balls but its delicious served in a bowl with a spoon, as an ice cream topping or as crumble over fruits. 

      300 ml rolled oats
      100 grams butter or margarine
      50ml sugar
      1 tablespoon dark or golden syrup
      3 tablespoons cocoa
      1 teaspoon instant coffee
      Optional topping: Dessicated coconut or grated chocolate
        • Mix butter, sugar, syrup, cocoa and coffee
        • Add rolled oats and mix well
        • Put mixture into a cake tin and press down, or form into balls 
        • Sprinkle dessicated coconut or grated chocolate and press down lightly
        • Chill for 1-2 hours
        • Slice and serve

        Rice, lentil and carrot porridge

        Simple, easy and nutritious
        Sorry about the picture, it does not look very appealing. But I can promise it tastes much better than it looks.

        • ½ cup rice
        • ½ cup lentil
        • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
        • 4 cups water
        • 3 cloves garlic
        • Saffron or tumeric (optional)
        • Olive oil or butter
        • Salt
        • Wash the rice
        • Add all the ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil
        • Reduce heat and simmer covered until rice is mush, about an hour
        • Stir frequently
        • Add olive oil and mix/emulsify
        • This is a variation of congee - Chinese rice porridge
        • Eating overcooked mushy rice may sound revolting but its actually quite nice once you overcome the initial hesitation
        • I used lentil and carrot because thats what I had available. The carrot added sweetness, color and carotene while lentils added nice flavour and proteins!
        • You can use vegetable stock or stock cubes for even more flavour
        • Don't forget to stir frequently otherwise the rice will stick to the bottom and burn
        • You can switch olive oil with butter - flavour, taste vs health benefits, its your choice!

        Sunday, November 21, 2010

        Coconut Cake Recipe

        Coconut polenta cupcake with vanilla custard sauce
        This is one of the simplest cake recipes I have ever come across. It requires only 4 ingredients, and cake mix is not one of the ingredients. Neither are eggs or butter. In spite of the absense of eggs and butter, the cake is moist, bit dense in a good way, with a relatively intense coconut flavour. And it is also very easy to remember, 1 part each of self raising flour, sugar and coconut and ¾ milk. What I do is mix together equal parts of flour, sugar and coconut, then add milk until it forms the right consistency. I don’t measure milk. There you go, that’s the whole recipe.

        You can vary the recipe relatively easily. I substituted half of the flour with polenta. The coconut polenta cake was delicious. 

        • 1 cup self raising flour
        • 1 cup sugar
        • 1 cup dessicated coconut (toasted - optional)
        • ¾ cup milk
        • Preheat oven to 180 degrees
        • Mix milk and sugar
        • Add shifted flour and coconut and mix well
        • Bake for around 30 minutes

        Note: If you don't have self raising flour, a substitute is 1 cup flour, 1½ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt

        Coconut Cake

        Curried corned beef, potato and rice

        Delicious and deceptively simple
        • Corned beef or lamb, 1 can
        • 1 potato
        • 1 cup rice
        • 1 tablespoon curry powder
        • 1/2 onion
        • 2 cloves garlic
        • 1 tablespoon oil
        • 2 cups hot water
        • Heat oil in a pot on medium heat 
        • Add curry powder, sliced onions and minced garlic 
        • Cook until onion has softened, stirring frequently
        • Add corned beef and cook uncovered for 5 -10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a table of water if it starts to stick to the pot
        • Add 1 cup rice, 2 cups water and cubed potatoes (cm cubed)
        • Turn heat to medium low, cover and cook until rice is done, about 20 minutes

        • You can use any type of rice, I prefer long grain rice
        • Rice and meat combinations appear in many cultures, each having its own little variaion. Central Asians add carrots and fat, Pakistani's are heavy handed with spices while the Spanish throw in seafood. Whatever the variations, two things remain in common - the name always seems to start with 'p' (plov, pilaf, pulau, paella, pilota...) and the end result is always tasty

        Egg spread

        Simply delicious and nutritious

        • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferably homemade
        • 1 boiled egg
        • Salt
        • Mix egg yolk and mayonnaise
        • Add chop egg white, salt and mix well
        • For extra oomph, you can add finely chopped onions and/or pickled vege’s

        Saturday, November 20, 2010

        50% Butter Spread

        More flavour, less cholesterol and cheaper
        • Butter
        • Oil
        • Flavours (optional)
        • Make sure butter is at room temperature
        • Mix butter and oil in equal amounts
        • Add any flavourings such as stock cubes, spices etc
        • Keep in refrigerator
        • You can use any oil. Neutral oil such as soya bean or canola oil will maintain the butter taste. Olive oil adds a distinct flavour
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