Saturday, April 30, 2011

Oven Baked Crispy Spiced Chickpeas

Oven Baked Crispy Spiced Beans
These are excellent healthy snacks. You may have come across something similar in Asia, or in Asian shops. Those are usually deep fried. The oven baked version is almost as good, I would say about 70-80% as good. 

The main downside of the oven baked version is that they take a lot longer to cook compared with deep frying. 

I used chickpeas and white beans. You can use pretty much any kind of bean.

Cooked beans (chickpeas, white beans etc)
Enough oil to coat (about 1 tablespoon per cup)
Spices (paprika, curry powder, garlic powder etc)

1.  Preheat oven to 230 degrees
2.   Mix the beans with oil until coated
3.   Bake until they are brown and crispy, around 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally 
4.   Season the beans and bake for a further few minutes. Over season the beans, you will be surprised how much salt they take
5.   Let it cool completely. These snacks go well with a cold beer

Monday, April 25, 2011

Daim Chocolate Ginger Brownies

Daim Chocolate Ginger Brownies

These chocolate ginger brownies are not as gooey and chewy like most brownies, they are more like a dense rich cake. But very delicious. I used more ginger than recommended in the recipe.

If you prefer the brownies to be bit more chewy you can add a small amount of golden or dark syrup. 

Adopted from Martha Stewart

½ cup unsalted butter plus more for baking dish
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
¾ cup sugar (or 1 cup sugar is using cocoa powder instead of O’boy Daim chocolate drink mix))
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup O’boy Daim chocolate drink mix (or ¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder)
2 large eggs (1/4)
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1.       Preheat oven to 160 degrees
2.      Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Line bottom with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over 2 sides. Butter parchment; set aside.
3.      Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining ingredients.
4.      Pour batter into prepared dish. Smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 30 to 35 minutes.
5.      Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Lift out, and let cool completely on rack. Cut into sixteen 2-inch squares. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Kuurdak Recipe

Chicken Kuurdak

Kuurdak (or kuyrdak or kuirdak) is a Central Asian dish which may sound exotic and complicated but it is really easy to prepare. It basically involves sautéing meat, potato and onions. With so few ingredients the quality of the ingredients becomes particularly important.

Red meat is more commonly used but there is no rule against using chicken! Sometimes Kuurdak is made with innards such as intestines.

Kuurdak is usually very lightly spiced since the Central Asians are not heavy handed when it comes to spices. 

A critical flavouring which I always use with restraint is fat. The fattiest cuts of meat are used and sometimes more fat is added. If you order Kuurdak in Central Asia and the plate appears with a generous amount of melted fat do not be shocked! On the contrary this may be a sign of a good restaurant.

The recipe has no amounts, it depends on your taste, what is available and how many people are eating.

Meat (preferably not boneless)
Potatoes (inch cubed)
Onion (diced)
Seasoning of your choice (I used chili flakes)
Salt and pepper

1.       Heat oil in a non-stick or heavy bottom pan over medium heat
2.      Sauté onions until translucent
3.      Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds
4.      Add meat, potatoes and seasoning and cook uncovered until done, stirring occasionally

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easy Polenta Coconut Chocolate Cookies Recipe

Polenta Coconut Chocolate Cookies

These cookies are really quick and easy to prepare, and they are butter-free. I used oil instead of butter and it worked fine. The cookies are crispy and quite crumbly, like a short shortbread cookie. 

Generally most cookie recipes require that butter and sugar be creamed together first. This incorporates air into the mixture, helping the cookies to rise. You cannot do that with oil and sugar so the cookies don’t rise as much, just like a shortbread cookie. On the other hand the recipe is much simpler and quicker to prepare and the end result is very tasty.

This recipe has no measurements, except for ratios. So you can either use a 1 cup each of polenta, flour etc, 1 tablespoon each of polenta, flour etc or any measuring vessel.

1 part fine polenta
1 part self raising flour, sifted
1 part cocoa, sifted 
1 part desiccated coconut (optional)
1 part sugar (taste the batter and add more sugar if its not sweet enough)
½ part golden or dark syrup (optional)
'Enough' oil or melted butter

  1. Heat oven to 160°C / 320°F
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients
  3. Add syrup, if using, and enough oil or melted butter to bring the dough together. If you use less oil, the cookie will be slightly harder and if you use too much the cookie will be quite crumbly. 
  4. Place balls on a greased cookie tray, flatten slightly and bake for around 12 minutes
Polenta Coconut Chocolate Cookies

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Crispy Coconut Cookies Recipe

Crispy coconut cookies

These cookies are light and crispy, with a nice coconut flavour. If you love coconut, if you love crispy cookies, you will love these. And they are quick and easy to make.

The cookies look plain and innocent in the picture but don’t be fooled, they are packed with flavor.

I have included dark or golden syrup in the recipe. I like using syrup, it helps to deepen the flavor. If you don’t have golden syrup, you can skip it.

Eating coconuts helps burn fat and reduce weight. You can read more here. However I am certainly not suggesting that you eat these cookies if you want to lose weight.

2 cups flour, sifted
1 cup butter
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon golden or dark syrup (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, can also substitute with coconut extract)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

  1. Heat oven to 160°C / 320°F
  2. Cream butter and sugar until creamy and pale
  3. Add egg, syrup and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly
  4. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder, add to the butter mixture and mix until incorporated
  5. Add coconut and mix until incorporated
  6. Place small balls on a greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly
  7. Bake until cookies are golden brown and delicious, about 15 minutes

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rice Pudding Cake with Coconut Shortbread Base Recipe

Rice Pudding Cake with Coconut Shortbread Base
Most rice coconut pudding recipes use coconut milk instead of regular milk. This recipe is different since the rice pudding is made the regular way (with regular milk!) and there is a coconut shortbread base as well as a chocolate coconut glaze. In this way you get the rice pudding and coconut taste, separate but together, if that makes sense. The coconut shortbread base and glaze adds a nice crunchy texture as well as an intense coconut flavour.

Sorry about the quality of the picture, I can promise you it tastes much better than it looks!  
Rice pudding, prepared according to the recipe  here
4 tablespoons dark syrup
4 large eggs, separated

For the base
1 cup sugar
¼ cup flour, sifted
¼ cup rolled oats
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup butter

For the glaze
¼ cup desiccated coconut, toasted
¼ cup daim chocolate drink powder (or mixture of cocoa and icing sugar or just icing sugar)

1.       Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan or loaf tin.
2.      Whisk egg yolks and syrup and stir into rice pudding
3.      Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
4.      Fold whites into rice mixture
5.      To prepare the base, mix sugar, flour and coconut and rub in butter with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine bread crumbs. Spread this mix evenly over the base of tin and press down 
6.      Pour rice pudding mixture over base and bake until the cake is golden brown and delicious, about 1 hour
7.      To prepare the glaze add enough milk to the chocolate drink powder so that the glaze has consistency of thick cream. 
8.      Spread the glaze on top of the cake. An optional step is to poke lots of tiny holes about 5mm deep using a fork and this will allow the glaze to  absorb slightly
9.      Sprinkle with desiccated coconut to cover completely. 

Rice Pudding with Dulce de Leche Flavour Recipe

This is a slow cook version of the rice pudding. Because of the long and slow cooking process dulce de leche flavors will develop. The longer the cooking time the more stronger the flavor will be.
1 cup rice, short or medium-grain
5 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla pod
½ cup raisins (optional but recommended)
½ cup chopped almonds (optional but recommended)
½ teaspoon cinnamon seeds, crushed (optional but recommended)
Pinch of salt

1.       Bring 4 cups of milk to boil in heavy large saucepan
2.      Add all the rest of the ingredients and reduce heat to low
3.      Cook uncovered for about 1½ hours. Add more milk if the pudding starts to dry up

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sticky apricot and coconut cake with butterscotch sauce recipe

Sticky apricot and coconut cake with butterscotch sauce
I got inspiration for the cake from sticky date pudding and malva pudding. Sticky date pudding, a date based cake, is popular in the UK and malva pudding seems to have originated in South Africa. Malva pudding has apricot jam.

I love coconuts so I decided to ‘upgrade’ malva pudding by adding coconut. I thought coconuts and apricot would go well together, and it did thankfully.

The cake is sticky as the name suggests, and moist. The cake on its own is not very sweet so the sauce is definitely a welcome addition. The sauce is necessary, having sticky cake without the sauce is like having a burger without the bun.

And if you are a bit health conscious, you will notice that there is very little fat in the cake. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the sauce. If you are conscious of the calorie count, you can reduce or eliminate butter from the sauce. It will not be the same obviously but still very tasty.

The photo is for a single serve cake. I reduced the amounts by four and baked one little cake in a small rectangle baking pan. The regular amount will make 4 servings.

30 ml butter
2 tablespoons apricot jam
1 egg
¾ cup flour
¼ cup desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup sugar
½ cup milk

For the sauce
160ml cream
¾ cup brown sugar
50g butter
2 tsp vanilla essence

1.       Soak the coconut in milk for at least 30 minutes
2.      Cream together the butter and sugar
3.      Add the egg, jam, coconut and milk and beat together
4.      Stir in the dry ingredients
5.      Pour the batter into a greased 21cm baking pan and bake at 180C until the top is browned and a skewer comes out clean, about 45 minutes
6.      To make the sauce, add all the ingredients to a saucepan and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes
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