Do check out my new blog "Claire's Party Supplies". From now on all party supplies and current offers and discounts will be featured here.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tiramisu ... or the post that almost wasn't

Let me start of by telling you how glad I am to be able to get this post done. We made this batch of Tiramisu a couple of weeks ago and I finally sat down to post about it last evening. When to my shock and horror I couldn't find the recipe. I spent over an hour hunting for it. See I have this horrible habit; I bookmark recipes that pique my interest. Everywhere - on my laptop, my husband's laptop, my tablet and this is apart from the thousands that are on Pinterest. I went through every possible list I thought it would be on, but I just couldn't track it down. I'm usually good at keeping my links safe. Then I decided to take a little break and combed through my Pins again, for the third time. Much to my relief, there it was, sitting pretty. I was glad I hadn't lost this recipe, because not only was it an easy one to follow, it was absolutely delicious. There are a lot of recipes out there with differing methods. This one sounded good and I'm going to stick with it.

The recipe came together nice and easy. When I make this next, I will work on better presentation. This time around, I had a very eager husband buzzing around the kitchen with excitement. Halfway through my assembly, he decided he wanted to help me capture step by step pictures. So I have a few. I'm sure he will get better at them with a little practice. But you've gotta love a guy who is so eager to help ;)



Tiramisu
Adapted from: Green Road to Bliss

500g mascarpone cheese
5 egg yolks and 1 egg white
160g sugar
300 ml espresso coffee (I used strong, instant coffee - don't tell anyone)
1/2 cup water
400g Savoiardi biscuits (lady fingers), approx.
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
30ml brandy (optional)

Prepare the coffee. Set aside 1 tsp of coffee and mix the rest with the water.

Mix the brandy into the cooled coffee, if using.

Beat the eggs with sugar till fluffy about 2 minutes. Start on a low speed and gradually increase.


Add the mascarpone cheese and the 1 tsp of (cold) coffee that was reserved.

Combine everything together until you are left with a soft and creamy mixture.

To assemble -
Spread a very thin layer of the mascarpone mix on the bottom of the pan.

Lightly dip the savoiardi into the coffee solution, but do not over soak them. Layer them over the mascarpone layer. Try to cover the base of the pan with the biscuits without leaving any gaps.

Spread half the mascarpone mix over evenly and dust with cocoa.
Second layer starting up

Repeat with another layer of savoiardi and mascarpone and a final dusting of cocoa.
Second layer almost done
Take care to not overpour the mascarpone mix at the end


Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

Serve and enjoy!



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kurkuri Ajwaini Bhindi or Crispy Okra / Ladyfinger

Ever since we moved to Australia, I've found it very difficult to get my hands on ladyfingers (also called okra). Its only in the last couple of weeks, I've found it at not just one, but two locations. This makes me very happy.

We cook okra in a number of ways - in a prawn curry, pan fried in a spicy red rechaad masala, tawa style, and from now on I'm happy to report that as a once in a while treat I will use this recipe for a fantastic crispy version. It is an extremely delicious recipe, albeit not the healthiest one and I would recommend not making this way too often as it starts off with deep frying the okra. The resulting okra is super crisp and makes a wonderful accompaniment to some dal tadka or khichdi or just by itself. My husband got through half the quantity I made even before we sat down for lunch. I'll take that as a win. I love this recipe not just because of the crispiness, but I happen to love the flavour combination of chaat masala with the carom seeds. So I hope you try it out too and enjoy it as much as we do.



Kurkuri Ajwaini Bhindi
Recipe by: Kitchen Platter

250g lady fingers / okra
1/2 tsp carom seeds / ajwain
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp chaat masala
3 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp chilli powder
Oil, for deep frying

Wash and pat the okra dry.

Cut the head off and discard. Cut the okra into quarters lengthwise.

Heat oil in a wok for deep frying.

Sprinkle the ajwain, turmeric powder, chaat masala, salt and the besan on the okra.

Squeeze the lemon juice and toss it well to coat the okra evenly.

Add half the okra to the hot oil carefully and fry on medium heat till crisp. Drain on some absorbent kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining okra.

Enjoy hot.

**Note: Mix all the ingredients just before frying. Do NOT do this in advance as the salt with just draw out the liquids and result in a soggy batch, which you don't want.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta with Pine Nuts and Lemon

Ok, so those of you who blog will be able to relate to what I have to say. I sure hope I am not the only one ;)  While I would love to be able to be more of a 'from the plate to the blog' on the same day kind of person, more often than not, life gets in the way, and some times it takes more than a couple of weeks for me to post about a certain recipe. As a matter of fact, I still have a couple of recipes from a couple of years ago that I still haven't gotten around to sharing with you yet. Oh dear, did I just say that out loud!

Anyway, today, I wanted something quick and yummy for lunch. When I was at the shops this morning, this little beauty caught my eye -


I love the idea of smoked salmon, but I'm not too crazy about the raw-ish feel of the salmon. When I saw this hot smoked salmon, I was sold. I knew this salmon would be more cooked with a lovely smokey flavour. I'd never used it before but I was quite eager to try it out. The fact that I got it at a 40% discount was just a nice bonus. Now when I bought the salmon, I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I knew I would find some inspiration online, as always. Usually, I don't pay much attention to the recipe on the box / packet of the ingredients I buy. But when we were unpacking our groceries, my husband noticed this recipe and I have to admit, it sounded interesting and I was very eager to try it out. I had all the ingredients on hand, so there was all the motivation I needed.

I am so very happy that I did. Not only was this pasta quick and easy to put together, it was delicious. It was so delicious, I knew I wanted to share this recipe with you as quickly as I could. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is one of the best pasta dishes I have made yet. And I really do hope you have an opportunity to try this out. I am going to pay more attention to these recipes on boxes and packets from now on.




Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta with Pine Nuts and Lemon
Serves 4

250g spaghetti
1 packet Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta, flaked
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup thickened cream
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Dill (Fresh if possible - I didn't have any so I used the dried bottled variant)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

Add a heaped spoon of salt and then add the pasta. Cook till al denté (it should still have a little bite).

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and onion and sauté over medium heat, till they have softened and are nice and fragrant.

Add the wine, lemon juice and half the lemon zest. Increase the heat a little and cook till the liquids have reduced by half.

Add the cream and cook for a minute.

Take off the heat.

Drain the pasta and reserve half a cup of the cooking water.

Add the water to the sauce.

Put back on a medium-low heat and let it warm through (The original recipe doesn't call for this step, but I felt the sauce was a little on the thinner side so I let it heat through a little and it was perfect)

Add the salmon, the pine nuts, the remaining zest and season with salt and pepper. Let it just about warm through.

Mix the pasta and the sauce together.

Serve and garnish with some fresh chopped dill. I just sprinkled some bottled dry dill since I didn't have any fresh dill on hand.

Sit back and be amazed :)






Saturday, June 6, 2015

Where can I find Double sided crepe paper / duplex paper in Australia ???

UPDATE: You can buy these sheets of paper at my Etsy shop here.

Double sided crepe paper or Duplex paper is an amazing type of paper if you make paper flowers. It comes in a range of colour and can be stretched to form your petals. However, it is practically impossible to find in Australia.

I am happy to let you know that I have a stash of this paper that I am looking at selling.

Leave me a comment with your email address if you are interested in buying some.

Here are the colours available -

Pale Pink

Dark Leaf Green / Camouflage Green

Cream / Yellow

Turquoise


Parrot / Dark Green

Light / Dark Lilac

Bright Red

Light / Dark Olive

Marigold Yellow / Orange

Daffodil Yellow / Apricot


Bright Green

Coral Pink


Green / White Floral tape
I have multiples of these available.

Here are just a few of the flowers you can make with this paper -













Sunday, May 31, 2015

SRC: Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

And we find ourselves here at another amazing SRC reveal for Group A. This month I was assigned Elizabeth's blog - Food Ramblings. When I read her 'About' page I was really excited. She started her blog as a way to 'keep track of her New Year resolutions like cooking more, eating better, getting in shape and losing weight'. And the best part is she has had immense success. Go over and say Hi to her and check her blog out.

In the last couple of weeks I have made some dietary choices and would like to make a few healthier choices with the food we eat. This does not mean that you will see any less yummy stuff around here. I've just decided to opt for lighter, reduced fat / salt options, baking instead of frying, where possible - that kind of thing. I loved the options available on Elizabeth's blog. It was hard to pick just one recipe. I had picked quite a few that I wanted to try. But I had some bananas that needed using up quick. So when I saw that she had a light  version of a peanut butter banana muffin, I couldn't go past it. I had to try it out.

Making these muffins is really simple. All you need to do is mash the bananas, mix all the wet ingredients, add the dry ones, pour batter into the muffin tray and bake. And that's exactly what I did. I pretty much stuck to the recipe. I was really excited to see how these would turn out, since the recipe doesn't call for eggs and uses whole wheat flour. And it didn't disappoint. It had a nice banana flavour, little chunks of peanut from the peanut butter and it was nice and moist - a winning muffin. The fact that it is a slightly healthier version is just an added bonus.




Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

2 ripe bananas (I had 3 that needed using, so I used 3 - they weren't too large though)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup peanut butter (I had a chunky version on hand)
2/3 cup reduced fat plain Vanilla yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a muffin tray with muffin liners and lightly spray with an olive oil spray. (Again that's what I had on hand)



In a large bowl, mash the bananas.

Add the honey, peanut banana, yogurt and vanilla and mix well.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon powder and sugar.

Stir to mix, but don't overmix the batter.



Spoon the batter into the muffin tray till the liners are upto 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

And you have yourself some pretty amazing muffins :)




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Baath / Badca - Traditional Goan Coconut Cake

A while ago, a reader had requested for a traditional Goan Baath recipe. That was a while ago, but eventually I got around to getting a picture of this delicious cake before it disappeared. So I've taken the opportunity to share the recipe with you. Baath or Badca - whatever you are used to calling it, is a delicious traditional recipe for a Goan coconut and semolina cake. Its not your run of the mill light fluffly sponge cake, but a more dense and rich one. A good baath cake should not be dry and should be mildly flavoured with ground cardamom. We typically make this for Christmas and it is a part of our Kuswar (Christmas platter).That being said, there is absolutely no reason you can't eat this any time of the year. It goes down an absolute treat with a cup of tea / coffee.

This is a simple cake to prepare and does not require you to bring out the heavy equipment. A mixing bowl and wooden spoon should suffice. You start of by making a sugar syrup and cook off the coconut and dessicated coconut in it. Then add the eggs and bake.




Baath

200g dessicated coconut
2 cups water
2 cups semolina
2 cups sugar
6 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
6 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
A generous pinch cardamom seeds, crushed  (Seeds from about 6 large pods)

In a heavy bottomed pan, bring the water to a boil.

Add the sugar to the pan and let it melt.

Once the sugar has melted, add the coconut and the ghee and let it come to a boil, stirring frequently.

Add the semolina and let it cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the crushed cardamom seeds.

Take off the heat and cool.

After the mix has cooled


Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line and grease a baking dish / cake pan.

When the mix has cooled, add the baking powder.

Just before baking, add the beaten eggs. Mix well till the eggs have been incorporated well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake till done. (Till a skewer pierced in the center of the cake comes out clean.)

If the top starts to brown too quickly, cover the top with some aluminium foil.

Cool down and enjoy!!!




NOTE - Add the eggs only just before you bake the cake and not in advance. Preheat the oven in time to bake the cake.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Cherry Pie (made from scratch)

This is a pie we made a while back and I just had to share it with you. A couple of months ago, when cherries were in season, I bought a couple of kilos from the farmers market. Ofcourse, just the two of us found it hard to eat them all up. I decided to try making some cherry pie filling. I've never had cherry pie before, so I figured it was a good time to try it out. 

After looking around at a few recipes, I decided to use this one. It looked simple and that is exactly what I was looking for. It turned out that the recipe was so simple, the most time consuming part is pitting the cherries. I did buy a brand new pitter for the occasion, not that I need a reason to add something to my kitchen ;)

I didn't can this filling. I just put it in a clean, dry, glass jar in the fridge and it is still intact a couple of months later. So if cherries are plentiful in your part of the world, I hope you try this out. 



Homemade Cherry Pie Filling - 

5 cups cherries, pitted
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp corn starch / corn flour

Place the pitted cherries in a large pot with the sugar and lemon juice. 



On medium heat, allow the cherries to warm up and start cooking down. Stir frequently.

Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl till dissolved.

After the cherries have started releasing their juices and have heated up, add the cornstarch solution and bring it to a boil.

Stirring well, cook till the mixture gets nice and thick.

Cool and store.


After I came back home from work the next day, I found this in the kitchen waiting for me - 


I had previously mentioned to my darling husband that I wanted to use this for a galette or a pie, but I didn't have the time to do it on the day I made the filling. This sweet, sweet man who was home the next day when I was at work, whipped up a beautiful light, buttery and short shortcrust dough and made the pie all by himself. He used our trusty recipe for the crust.

The crust was fantastic. Infact the dough was so short, I couldn't get a clean slice for a picture, but it was so very delicious. The simple and unassuming pie filling that was so easy to put together simply blew me away. It was tasty and worked so well with the pastry, without being cloyingly sweet. If you're feeling a little indulgent, serve this up with some vanilla ice cream and sit back and enjoy!