Thursday, November 29, 2012

Armenian Gingerbread Cake Recipe

Armenian Gingerbread Cake
To avoid any confusion there is nothing Armenian about this cake.

In case you are not familiar with Armenian Cake, it is like an upside down crumb cake. The crumbs are at the bottom, giving the cake a crunchy base. It’s not just the crumbs that make this cake unique, actually there’s nothing unique about crumbs. What is unique is the process of making the cake. You make only one batter, use half for the crumbly base and add milk and other ingredients to the other half to get the cakey top. It’s a nice shortcut approach. 

Something else unique about Armenian Cake is that it is not from Armenia, but from Australia. Why it is called Armenian Cake remains a mystery. The story is no different from Afghan Cookies which are from New Zealand, not Afghanistan. And Mars bars is not from Mars. Analogy taken too far I think. 

Armenian Cake is usually made with nutmeg. I replaced nutmeg with ginger and cinnamon to make the gingerbread version. 

Armenian Gingerbread Cake

Recipe adopted from my earlier recipe for Armenian Cake

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
125 g butter
1½ cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon molasses
¾ cup milk
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons fresh ginger (or 2 teaspoons dried ground ginger)

  1. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, butter and sugar until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Either use your fingers or food processor
  2. Press ½ the mixture into a greased 20cm baking tin 
  3. In a bowl beat egg. Add milk, molasses, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger and mix well.
  4. Add this liquid to second half of the flour mixture.
  5. Mix well and pour on top of mixture in the baking tin.
  6. Bake at 180°C/360°C until done, about 40-45 minutes
Armenian Gingerbread Cake

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Glamorgan Vegetarian Sausages Recipe

Glamorgan Sausage 

Mention Britain and we probably think of fish and chips.
Mention Ireland and we probably think of Guinness and Irish Stew.
Mention Scotland and we probably think of whisky and fried Mars bars (maybe).
Mention Wales and we probably hit a blank.

Personally I have never come across a Welsh dish, other than Welsh rarebit, which I didn't think came from Wales. Just like Afghan Cookies are not from Afghanistan.

Wales does have a few interesting dishes, glamorgan sausage being one of them. And surprisingly it is vegetarian, if you consider an egg to be vegetable, or non-meat. Glamorgan sausage is also known as poor mans sausage because it has no meat. 

The sausage is made from a few very basic ingredients which are most probably sitting in your pantry and refrigerator. Even though the ingredients are pretty basic, the result really surprised me. I found it absolutely delicious, crunchy on the outside and firm but soft on the inside. It reminded me of a pie that I ate in New Zealand, and which I haven’t seen anywhere else. I don’t remember the name and it wasn’t quite a regular pie. The pie was coated with bread crumbs and either deep fried or baked. It was cheesey inside. Glamorgan sausage has very similar smell and taste. 

The recipe suggests caerphilly cheese. Caerphilly cheese is a hard, white crumbly cheese originating from the area around the town of Caerphilly in Wales. It generally has a fat content of around 48%. I didn’t have caerphilly cheese so I substituted with cheddar. It was perfect. Maybe next time I will try feta.

Glamorgan Sausage 
Recipe adopted from Telegraph

4 cups (250g) fresh white breadcrumbs
200g Caerphilly cheese (or use cheddar)
75g leek (white part) or spring onions or regular onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs (or 1 tablespoon fresh parsley and ½ teaspoon thyme)
2 eggs lightly whisked
1½ teaspoon English or Dijon mustard
3 tablespoon milk
Salt and pepper
Butter for shallow frying

  1. Mix together 170g of the breadcrumbs, cheese, milk, leek or onion, herbs, salt and pepper. I put everything in a food processor and pulsed it. Note: only use 170 grams breadcrumbs, set aside the rest for coating the sausage
  2. In a separate bowl mix the eggs with mustard and set aside about ¼. This will be for coating the sausage
  3. Add the rest of the eggs to the breadcrumb mixture and mix until a paste is formed.
  4. Divide the mixture into 12 and shape each portion into a sausage. Refrigerate for 10-20 minutes so it sets (optional)
  5. Coat the sausages with the egg mixture, followed by the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (optional)
  6. Heat frying pan over medium heat and shallow fry the sausage until golden brown and delicious, about 5-8 minutes.
Glamorgan Sausage 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Fresh Ginger Coconut Oat (Ginger ANZAC) Cookies Recipe

Ginger Coconut Oat (Ginger ANZAC) Cookies

I bought a ton of fresh ginger couple of days ago. Well not quite a ton but  a lot anyway. It was ridiculously cheap, and now I have to find ways to use it.

Fresh ginger cake and ginger cookies immediately came to mind, the cookies won. The last ginger cookies I ate were the incredibly delicious teeth-breaker gingernut cookies. I want to keep my teeth intact so making these was out of question. Cookies which were crispy and chewy, but also buttery and syrupy is what I was after. As always my trusted ANZAC Cookie recipe came to the rescue. Add fresh ginger, make few adjustments and the recipe is ready to rock and roll.

I used three tablespoons of ginger in one batch. It may seem like a lot, but it is not. There is a relatively intense ginger flavor, which is the intention of these cookies. I initially made a batch with just 1 tablespoon and the flavor was disappointingly mild. If 3 tablespoon sounds like a lot and you are used to working with powdered ginger, keep in mind that powdered ginger is a lot more intense. If you were to substitute fresh ginger for powdered ginger you would use 6-8 times more. Fresh and powdered ginger taste different though.

Using such a large amount of fresh ginger will affect the cookie dough so I made adjustments to other ingredients. It took me a few attempts before I managed to get the recipe just right. This recipe is developed for fresh ginger, if you substitute powdered ginger you may not get the desired results.

Ginger Coconut Oat (Ginger ANZAC) Cookies

Recipe adopted from ANZAC Cookies

125g butter (I used butter and coconut oil)
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
¾ - 1 cup sugar (I prefer less)
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

  1. Heat the oven to 150°C/300°F
  2. Melt butter and golden syrup in a saucepan
  3. Add grated ginger to the butter mixture and mix
  4. In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients, add to butter mixture and mix well
  5. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls, place on baking tray and flatten slightly. It will spread so keep about 3 inches space between the dough
  6. Bake until golden brown and delicious, approx 10-15 minutes

Ginger Coconut Oat (Ginger ANZAC) Cookies

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Roasted Beetroot Garlic Soup (Not Quite Borscht) Recipe

Roasted Beetroot Garlic Soup
I am not claiming this to be an authentic borscht, it is probably quite far from it.

Borscht originated in Ukraine, according to Wikipedia. Some people may dispute this since many other countries have their own versions. I suppose it will be a never ending discussion trying to identify where it originated and what goes in an authentic borscht. 

None of the authentic recipes I came across use roasted beets. I preferred roasted beets since it adds more flavour. Some versions use cabbage. I excluded it since I ate cabbage yesterday. And I excluded potatoes because I wanted a stronger beet flavor rather than have the flavour diluted with potato. With these variations the soup was not quite authentic. It tastes quite different from the versions I tried in different restaurants. 

The recipe is quite simple to make. You can vary it quite easily to suit your taste.

And here’s some more of my amateurish half decent attempts at borscht art. Most of them probably qualify to be considered 'abstract'. Looks like a child did it, actually it was a child!


Recipe adopted from whole living
Recipe adopted from whole living

3 medium beets, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
6 unpeeled garlic cloves
1 small onion, diced
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
3 cups water (or use stock or milk)
Sour cream (optional)
Salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 220°C/425°F.
  2. Coat the beets and garlic in oil. I find it easier to add some oil to a pot, add the beets and garlic and swirl and toss. Use the same pot for cooking the onions and soup later
  3. Spread the beets and garlic in a single layer in a roasting pan. Bake until the beets are tender, about 25 -30 minutes.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender. Add beets, garlic, herbs and 3 cups water. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Puree the mixture and serve with sour cream (optional)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Butterscotch (Caramelised) Carrot Cake Recipe

Butterscotch (Caramelised) Carrot Cake

Earlier I posted a recipe for butterscotch banana cake. The cake is made by first caramelizing the sugar, then cooking bananas and butter in it. This process deepens the flavor and takes the humble banana cake to a whole new level! I did the same thing with carrot cake. The carrot cake had a much deeper flavour, it is really light and moist. And there is no smell and only a mild taste of carrots, in case you are not a big fan of carrots.

I prefer my cakes without icing or frosting. As a result the cake probably looks a bit naked and dull. The saying "its not the looks that count" applies to cakes as well. I like icing, however I would rather have two or more slices of cake without icing than have one slice with icing. Its a preference thing. Of course I can have two or more slices with icing, and given the opportunity I probably will, but that is another discussion. If you insist on icing, the usual suspects like cream cheese frosting should work well. 

You can also add dried fruits and nuts to the cake, if you prefer. 

Recipe adopted from With a Glass, Alton Brown and my butterscotch banana cake recipe.

Butterscotch (Caramelised) Carrot Cake

1 cup flour
½ cup sugar
1½ cups grated carrots 
½ cup butter (I used a mixture of butter and oil)
2 eggs
50 ml milk
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
teaspoons baking powder

  1. Grease or line with baking paper a 20cm square baking tin or a loaf tin
  2. Add ¼ cup sugar and 1 tablespoon water to a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook on high heat until the sugar turns dark red. Don't let it burn!
  3. Add carrots and butter and cook over low heat until the carrots becomes soft. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Puree the mixture (optional). Let the mixture cool completely
  4. In a bowl beat ¼ cup sugar and eggs until the sugar dissolves and the mixture turns pale. Add to the carrot mixture together with milk and beat well. 
  5. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture.
  6. Pour the batter into the tin and bake at 180°C/360°F until done, about 35-45 minutes. A skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean
Butterscotch (Caramelised) Carrot Cake

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gluten Free Coconut Oat (ANZAC) Cookies Recipe

Gluten Free Coconut Oat Cookies
Few days ago I posted a recipe for sugar free, butter free and egg free cookies, but the cookies had flour. This time it is a flour less cookie. It is also gluten free but please double check the ingredients.

I adopted the recipe for ANZAC Cookies, replacing flour with oat flour. Oat flour makes the cookies lighter and adds a slight nutty flavor. In this case the nuttiness did not matter since the original cookies are already quite nutty because of oats and coconut.

Please see my earlier post on ANZAC Cookies for an explanation on different ingredients, and whether or not you can substitute. As I wrote in my earlier post, ANZAC Cookies are really temperamental. I have made them many times and they turn out different just about every time, but always delicious. I made this particular gluten free cookies twice, and they were quite different both times, but delicious. In the first batch the cookies really spread a lot and became quite thin. I should have left them as balls on the baking tray. The second time they didn’t spread so much. I suppose minute changes in the amount of butter affects how the cookie spreads. My suggestion is to make a batch but bake only a few to see how the cookies react. If they spread a lot leave them as balls on the baking tray, otherwise flatten them slightly.

Once baked and still warm the cookies will be very soft and delicate. Let it cool for a few minutes before trying to move them. Once cooled the cookies will be light, crispy, chewy and very delicate. Handle with care.

Gluten Free Coconut Oat Cookies
125g butter (I used coconut oil and butter)
2¼ cups rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
¾ - 1 cup sugar (I used ¾ cup)
1 tablespoon (20ml) golden syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 (20ml) tablespoons boiling water

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/360°F
  2. Blend 1¼ cup oats until it has a soft flour like consistency. It takes a few minutes. You should end up with a cup of oat flour, but measure it just to be sure
  3. Melt butter and golden syrup in a saucepan
  4. Mix baking soda with boiling water and add to the butter mixture
  5. Combine all dry ingredients then add melted mixture and mix well
  6. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls, place on baking tray and flatten slightly
  7. Bake until golden brown and delicious, approx 10-15 minutes

Gluten Free Coconut Oat Cookies

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baked Snickers Bar Recipe

Baked Snickers bar
One of the desserts I’ve wanted to try for years is deep fried Mars bar. This exclusive dessert is hard to find. The closest I’ve come to potentially having it was in Azerbaijan out of all places. A restaurant had it on its menu and it could also be delivered. I didn’t go for it and I still think that perhaps I should have.

Today I finally decided to put my curiosity at ease, but I only had Snickers bar at home. And I didn’t feel like deep frying, not that there is anything wrong with it. So instead I took the easier route, baking in puff pastry. I wouldn’t go into a debate on whether baking in puff pastry is healthier than deep frying. But baking is certainly the easier and less messy option. 

As you would expect, baked Snickers bar is awesome. It is really awesome. Imagine warm gooey caramel and chocolate surrounded by crispy puff pastry. I can imagine it going quite well with ice cream. 

The one downside, albeit small, is that the peanuts become slightly soft after baking. I can see why Mars bars are deep fried instead of Snickers bars. 

Interesting facts about deep fried Mars bar. The maker of Mars bar contacted Carron Fish Bar in Stonehaven asking them to make clear that the product (deep fried Mars bar) is not authorised or endorsed by Mars as it does not fit the company's promotion of healthy living. Carron Fish Bar claims to be the "birthplace of the world famous deep fried Mars bar". It is interesting how selling Mars bar is considered promotion of healthy living while putting batter around it and deep frying it turns it into something unhealthy.

According to Wikipedia, out of the 300 Scottish fish and chip shops surveyed in 2004, 22% sold deep-fried Mars bars, while an additional 17% had sold them in the past. 

Snickers bar
Puff pastry

  1. Heat oven to 200°C/400°F
  2. Unwrap Snickers bar. Optional but highly recommended. 
  3. Wrap the snickers bar tightly with puff pastry, make tiny holes on top to allow steam to escape and bake until golden brown and delicious, about 20 minutes
  4. Let it cool for 5 -10 minutes before biting, unless you want to burn yourself. Be careful, it may still be hot after 5-10 minutes 
  5. Regret that you didn’t bake more because the one you baked vanished
  6. After a few moments once you regain control of your senses, be happy that you didn’t bake more

Baked Snickers bar

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Marmite Garlic Spaghetti Recipe

Vegemite Garlic Spaghetti   
Vegemite, or marmite if you are British, is one of those love it or hate it ingredients. Vegemite is popular in just a few countries, and there is probably a good reason for it. But I love vegemite, and seeing the vegemite spaghetti recipe really excited me. 

Apparently Anna del Conte, an Italian, invented this recipe while Nigella Lawson popularized it. Anna’s recipe suggests adding a squirt of ketchup while Nigella’s is the stripped down 3 ingredient version using just spaghetti, butter and vegemite. 

I tried three versions of the recipe. Firstly the good news, especially if you are a vegemite hater. The dish has a very mild smell and taste of vegemite. Chances are that if you didn’t know the dish was made with vegemite, you probably wouldn’t guess it. Think fish sauce and belachan. They smell and taste uninviting (or revolting) in raw undiluted form but it does miracles when added to food. Vegemite almost has the same effect here. Which brings me to the bad news.

I first tried Nigella’s stripped down version. I found it mild and bland, the spaghetti that is. I added more vegemite which improved it slightly but still didn’t excite me, still talking about spaghetti. I then tried the second version, with chili garlic sauce. It was fantastic but the vegemite flavor completely disappeared. It was like eating spaghetti and chili garlic sauce. Unimpressed but still excited I tried my own garlic version. That was an improvement. Garlic complemented vegemite rather than overpowering it. 

With just three ingredients and incredibly quick and easy to prepare, I think I will revisit this recipe, and perhaps modify it more. 

I have submitted this to Presto Pasta Nights. The Presto Pasta Night is coming to an end.

Adopted from Nigella

375 grams dried spaghetti
3-4 cloves garlic, or more, minced
50 grams unsalted butter
1 -2 teaspoons vegemite, or more

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water  
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and add garlic. Cook until just before the garlic starts to turn brown. Remove from heat. Add vegemite and 1 tablespoon of the pasta water. Mix thoroughly to dissolve
  3. Add the pasta to the vegemite mixture and mix to incorporate. Add some of the pasta water if necessary
  4. If you still find the dish mild and bland, you can add more vegemite or add salt and pepper. If you want to add more vegemite, dissolve it in a small amount of pasta water and then add to the pasta.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sugar Free Sultana Coconut Cookies Recipe

Sultana Coconut Cokies
Not just sugar free but also butter free and egg free.

The cookies are slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. These are more soft cookies than crispy cookies. And they are definitely sweet, you won’t miss the sugar.

Sugar and eggs do add texture to cookies. But it does not mean the cookies are not delicious, on the contrary they are great. And you can indulge in them guilt free.

If you want a crispier cookie you can replace the milk with oil. And of course you can substitute oil for butter if you prefer butter.

Sultana Coconut Cokies

1 cup sultanas
1 cup desiccated coconut
¾ cup oil
¼ cup milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

  1. Heat oven to 180°C /360°F.
  2. Process the sultanas and oil until the sultanas have turned into puree. Its OK if there are still some chunky bits
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
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