Sunday, July 3, 2016

SRC: Carrot, Cumin & Tomato Soup

Okay, so it's time for the July edition of SRC. The last month has just whizzed by. Its been a huge whirlwind of activity. We've had to hunt and finalize another place to move into as our current lease is almost done. That, along with a full time job that sometimes feels more than a full time job has taken over the last month. I haven't had time to do much else. But I did do this assignment for today's reveal. And it was so very good.

For this month's SRC assignment I had Karen's blog, Lavender and Lovage. If you haven't visited Karen's blog yet, you should, you really should. Karen is a freelance writer and recipe developer who toggles between Yorkshire and France. These influences on her food is evident. Her blog is gorgeous and she has one of the most delicious recipe lists I've come across. I literally wanted to make every second recipe I saw, if not every single one. I was torn between these perfect Scotch Eggs, these super comforting Beer Battered Fish and Chips and this gorgeous Dark Sticky Double Gingerbread. I still intend trying all of these but I needed something that was not too fussy, but was still delicious and comforting. So when I saw Karen's recipe for the Carrot, Cumin and Tomato Soup, I knew I had found a winner. I had the carrots and tomatoes on hand. All I had to do was pick up a little cream and croutons of some sort. I got some bagel crisps and they were beyond perfect. This soup is so easy to make and with just a few basic ingredients, its hard to believe how delicious and hearty it turned out. Thanks Karen, this is a soup I know I will make often.

I stuck with the original recipe, except I halved it, since I was cooking for just the two of us .The only tiny change I made was I used fresh coriander leaves as a garnish instead of the parsley used in the original recipe.


 

Carrot, Cumin & Tomato Soup
Serves 3-4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 carrots, diced
4 tomatoes, sliced
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 litre of vegetable / chicken stock
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
A couple of tbsps. cream, to top of the soup bowl (optional)
Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
Bagel crisps, or any other croutons of your choice

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and onion and stir fry till the onions have softened and slightly browned.

Add the cumin powder, tomatoes and carrot and saute for a minute.

Cover the pot and let it all cook for about 5 minutes till the tomatoes get a little mushy and the cumin is nice and fragrant.

Add the hot stock and stir well.

Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or till the carrots are cooked through and are nice and tender.

Let it cool a little and then carefully blitz the soup using an immersion blender or a regular blender.

Serve up with some croutons and garnish with a drizzle of about a tablespoon of cream and fresh coriander leaves.

Enjoy!!!


Don't forget to check out what the other blogger's in Group A whipped up for today's reveal.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

SRC: Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Hello all! Welcome to the June edition of the SRC. Is it really June already? Wow! This year seems to be flying by at record speed. But it is always exciting, prepping and posting for reveal day. This month I was assigned Laura's blog "Mother Would Know". This month things were a tad different for me. I knew which recipe I was going to make in less than five minutes after I received my assignment. I think for me that's a new record. How did that come about? I saw a recipe that I'd wanted to try for a very long time about 4-5 years ago. It was almost an obsession. But due to non availability of the core ingredient, I had to focus on other recipes instead. A lot has changed since then. We moved to a different country on another continent and are thrilled to call it home. This lovely land comes with so much diversity, it threw open a whole plethora of ingredients to play with.

It all started when during one episode of Masterchef Australia, I saw a participant make an avocado chocolate mousse. Since then I've always wanted to try it out. So when I saw Laura's recipe for Avocado Chocolate Mousse, I knew I had found the one. Previously I had no access to avocados. Now I do, so that was one hurdle less for me. I pretty much had the rest of the ingredients in at hand so it was an easy choice for me. I am also very eager to try a few other recipes from Laura's blog, like these Individual Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits, these delicious Cronuts, these indulgent Nutella Espresso Cookies, an intriguing Apricot Hamantaschen and her Granita.

For now, lets talk about this Avocado Chocolate Mousse shall we. My husband is a big fan of chocolate mousse - a great big one! This version is quick and easy to make and has a fantastic texture just like the original version and can be served up almost immediately. This recipe is fantastic if you want to whip up a delectable dessert for last minute company. Or if you don't care for the egg in a mousse. Yes, you heard me. This is an eggless chocolate mousse. I added a little brandy at the very end and mixed it through for an adult version of the dessert. But you can leave it out if you are going to be serving it to children. Or go wild and think of the number of variations you could come up with by substituting the brandy with your favorite liqueur.




Avocado Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4

1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (the original recipe calls for light but I didn't have any)
2 tbsp semi sweet chocolate, melted
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 pinches of salt
1/2 cup heavy / whipping cream
1 tbsp brandy

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a bigger bowl of simmering water. The small bowl should sit snugly over the bigger bowl of water but not make contact with the water. (This is what they call the double boiler method.)

Whip the cream in a separate bowl till stiff peaks form.

In another bowl mix the avocado, cocoa powder, sugar, melted chocolate, milk, vanilla and salt. Use an immersion blender and blitz till you are left with a smooth, luscious pudding-like consistency.

Gently fold the cream through the chocolate mix till incorporated well. Do not overwork the mix or you will loose all the lightness in the cream.

At this stage, I added the brandy and gently folded through.

Cover and refrigerate. You could also portion out the mousse into individual portions and cover the bowls and refrigerate.

Since most of the ingredients used are at a cooler temperature anyway, you should be able to serve this mousse very soon.

Top with berries of your choice, if desired.


Monday, May 30, 2016

The best Baked Cheesecake ever

Those of you who follow my blog posts will know that my recipe titles which are normally my post titles usually never make lofty claims. This time it just had to be done. I believe, yes, truly believe that I have come across the best cheesecake recipe.

Let's go back to where it all began, shall we! My husband and I were sitting one evening and watching the latest season of Masterchef Australia (one of my favourite food shows) and it happened to be a Masterclass episode. I'm so stoked they brought back the Masterclass episodes this year. I felt quite cheated out of them last year. Anyway, Matt Preston was making a baked cheesecake. We love cheesecake in our house. So we were very keen to check this masterclass out. Long story short, we loved the way his cheesecake turned out and decided that we would try it sometime soon.

Now I didn't know how soon "soon" would actually be. I figured it would be a while before I got a chance to make one of them. Turned out, my husband had other plans. The following Saturday while I was at work (yes, unfortunately I do work some weekends), he actually went to the shops and picked out all the ingredients for the cake and had it prepped by the time I got home from work. We popped it in to bake and then in the fridge to set. After dinner that day we were both anxious to see how it turned out. It was HEAVENLY. Soft, creamy, beautifully flavoured with a fantastic crust. We we both very, very pleased with the way this cheesecake turned out and I can happily say that this will now be my go-to recipe for a baked Cheesecake. Thank you Matt Preston! and thank you Masterchef Australia!



Baked Cheesecake

For the base - 
1 packet of Granita biscuits (250g pack) (if you can't find Granita biscuits, you can use Digestive biscuits instead)
60g sugar
75 g butter, melted

For the filling - 
750g cream cheese, at room temperature
230g or 1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
300ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 175ºC.

Line a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.

Double wrap the outside of the cake tin with extra wide aluminium foil. This is to make the tin water tight to ensure that water from the little water bath you will create for the cake, doesn't seep into the cake.

For the base, blitz the biscuits in a food processor till you get crumbs. Add the sugar and blitz again for a couple of seconds till its mixes well. Add the unsalted butter and blitz again to combine.

At this stage, your base mix should resemble coarse wet sand.

Press the mix into the bottom of the prepared cake tin, spreading it out with the back of a large wooden spoon to even it out.

Bake for 10 minutes till lightly brown and set.



Remove the tin from the oven and set aside to cool. This base should be completely cooled before you add the filling.

For the filling, place the cream cheese in a stand mixer and using a padding attachment beat till smooth and creamy.

Add the sugar and beat till the sugar has completely dissolved.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition and make sure the egg is fully incorporated in the mix before adding the next one.

Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt and mix until well combined.

Now add the cream and mix until well combined.



Pour the mix over the cooled base. Set the cake tin in the middle of a larger roasting tray or larger baking dish. You want to ensure your roasting tray / baking dish has high sides. Set this on the middle rack of the oven.



Carefully, fill the roasting tray with boiling water upto a 2 cm height and bake till the cake has set and the top is a little golden brown. This should take about 65 minutes.

Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside the oven to cool with the oven door closed.

Then take the cheesecake and leave to cool completely.

Cover it and pop it into the fridge to cool a little and set further.

Serve with fresh berries if desired. But even by itself, the cake is so good you'll be glad you baked it.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I'm finally back to blogging! If you've been wondering where I've been over the last few weeks, I've been right here but I've had my laptop die on me. It was a real task recovering the data on it and getting back to doing this. But thanks to my wonderful husband, I've recovered most of it. And now finally have access to it. Still don't have my trusty laptop, but the family computer works fine for now.

So to ease back into the flow of things, this will be a quick post. The recipe also is a quick one, super simple to make. Infact, you can barely even call it a recipe, but the results are so very good, I will go ahead and post it here to share with you. If you haven't tried out sweet potato fries yet, trust me, you really should. Even my beloved husband, who doesn't care much for the sweet potato (he calls it a sweet mush / baby food), loved it and actually requests for these fries every once in a while.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. You could peel the potatoes, but I leave the skin on. Just give it a good wash and scrub and you are good to go. Also, size of the fries will make a difference. The thicker you cut it, the longer it will take to cook. The thicker sized fries will still be soft and fluffy. If you are like me and love a little crunch in your life,  cut the fries thin. It cooks quicker and caramelises a little and is super delicious, not to mention perfectly crunchy.

This fries are a much more healthy version that the regular potato fries and are great either as a snack or as a side to a big roast dinner or holiday meal too.



Sweet Potato Fries

1 large sweet potato, washed
Salt, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
A drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tbsp)

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Cut the sweet potato into fries.

Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking tray.

Place the sweet potato, salt and pepper on the tray and toss to make sure everything is well coated. You can add a little more olive oil if needed.

Arrange the potato pieces in a single layer.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the pieces once at the halfway mark.

Keep an eye on your oven from time to time. It may not need as long in your oven. Also this time will depend on the size of the pieces. So keep an eye on it the first time you make this.

When it is done to your liking, take it out of the oven.

Serve hot and enjoy!


Sunday, May 1, 2016

SRC:Zucchini Spinach Soup

The last couple of months have somehow seemed to sneak past. It is hard to believe that it is May 2016 already. The good part about coming into a new month is the SRC reveal day. This month, I was assigned Sally's blog, Bewitching Kitchen. I was so excited when I got this assignment. I've always been a huge fan of Sally's blog. Sally is a fascinating person. By day, she is a Biochemist. She also is an exercise fanatic. Originally born in Brazil, she has spent time living in Paris and now is in the USA. You can see delicious influences from all these places in her cooking and on her blog. If you love bread like I do, you are in for a treat. Go and have a look at Sally's blog. She has a plethora of bread recipes. While you are there, don't forget to check out the antics of 3 of the most adorable little doggies you have ever seen. I had an amazing time getting to know Sally a little better. And there are so many recipes I can't wait to try, like this Baked Coconut, these Coconut Brigadeiros, a delicious Cappuccino Panna Cotta and a savoury Brazilian delicacy called Coxinha De Galinha, just to name a few. The Bewitching Kitchen is one blog where you want to try out pretty much every recipe you see. I finally settled on a savoury one this month.

The weather has started cooling down here and when that happens, I find myself longing for soup. In the past, I have to admit, I've almost always ripped open a packet of instant soup and made do with that. In the last couple of years though, I have tried out a couple of homemade soups and I've enjoyed them so much, I have decided to make a few more this year and to get that started I picked Sally's Zucchini Spinach Soup for this month's reveal. Oh what a recipe this is - delicious, warm and hearty. It is hard to believe that a recipe this simple can be so comforting. I'm enjoying the discovery that making soups at home, from scratch is not as complicated as I thought it would be. Thanks Sally, for a beautiful soup, which will make an appearance on our dinner table on many more occasions.




Zucchini Spinach Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek (white part finely sliced)
3 medium sized zucchini, slice thickly
1 can butter beans
4 cups water
2 cups baby spinach
Salt, to taste
Black pepper powder to taste
A dollop of yogurt
A squeeze of lemon juice

In a pot, heat the olive oil and add the sliced leek. '

Saute till the leek turns golden.

Add the zucchini slices.

Season with salt and pepper and saute till the slices get some colour on them, stirring every now and then.

Add the beans and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the water (you could also use vegetable stock if you like).

Cover the pot and let it come to a boil over high heat.

Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes or till the zucchini slices are tender.

Add the baby spinach leaves and stir. When the leaves wilt, you can take the soup off the stovetop.

I used an immersion blender to blitz this into a nice luscious soup. You could also use a blender if you don't have an immersion blender. Irrespective of what gadget you use, please, please, please be cautious while blending the soup, because it is scalding hot.

Serve up hot with a squirt of lemon juice and a little dollop of yogurt.

Enjoy!!!





Sunday, April 24, 2016

Anzac Biscuits

Tomorrow we celebrate one of the most solemn national public holidays, Anzac Day. A day of remembrance dedicated to all those who fought (and those who fell) and their families. It seemed fitting to make some Anzac biscuits for the occasion. These biscuits date back to the days of the War. They were made by wives and mothers and sent to the soldiers. They had a long shelf life so that they could withstand the long naval journey. I have bought them from the supermarket on a few occasions, but this is the first time I've made them myself. Being a long weekend, even if you haven't made these cookies yet, I urge you to try them out tomorrow.

They are quick to whip up and would make a nice little project where the kids can help out too. From start to finish these take about half an hour to make. But let me take a moment to tell you how good these biscuits are. Needless to say, these are so much better than the store bought ones. The flavour is unbelievable. And what I love is that these biscuits are both, crunchy and a little chewy at the same time - that is my favourite kind. I used a recipe, I got in a local pamphlet that had been dropped in my mailbox. It is a recipe I am very happy to keep using.

So without any further rambling from me, I present to you, the delicious Anzac bisuit.



Anzac Biscuits
(Yields: 30 biscuits)

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup all purpose flour
125g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. (Fan forced oven to 160ºC)

Line a couple of baking trays with some baking paper.

Melt the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan.

In a bowl, combine the oats, sugar, coconut and flour and stir well.

In a little bowl, combine the baking soda and boiling water and stir well.

Add the baking soda solution to the melted butter.

Stir through and add this mix to the bowl of dry ingredients.

Mix everything through thoroughly.

Shape into little balls the size of walnuts and flatten slightly and place well spaced on the lined baking tray.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on the tray itself. The biscuits come out still soft and will harden as they cool.

When they've completely cooled, store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Black Bean Burgers

Oh yes! You read that right. I have finally jumped on the bandwagon and tried out a veggie burger. This is a first for me. Don't get me wrong! We love our veggies and have a fair amount of meatless meals. But I've always been a firm believer that burger had to include meat in some form - cheeseburgers, chicken / turkey burgers and even fish burgers.

I still can't figure out how it happened. I think it was the subtle suggestion of seeing veggie burgers pop up in so many places, that one day I decided I had to try them out. I would love to include some more meatless meals in my weekly rotation and was curious to see if this would fit the bill, not as a weekly option, but definitely a regular one.

I was really simple to put together. Since I made my beans from scratch (from dried beans, that is),  it did take planning a little ahead of time. But the rest was an absolute breeze. The verdict - We loved it! I don't know why I was so sceptical to begin with. The burger patties cooked up fast and had a light crunchy crust while being tender and nice and flavourful on the inside. These burgers were pretty hearty and I didn't miss the meat at all. I know this will be the first of a few more veggie burgers to come.




Black Bean Burgers
Adapted from: The Pioneer Woman

1- 1 1/2 cup dried black beans (or a couple of cans of beans drained)
1 cup bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 green / red birdseye chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1 egg
1/2 -1 tsp chilli powder (to taste)
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Hot sauce (I happened to have a bottle of Choloula)
Cheese slices of your choice (I used crumbled feta)
Olive oil, for frying
4 burger buns
Sliced onion
Sliced tomato
Iceberg lettuce
Any other burger fixin' of your choice
(The original recipe calls for mayonnaise, but the feta was perfect. You could use mayo if you'd like.)


If you are using dried beans, wash and drain the water. Soak in fresh water overnight. Cook till done. I pressure cook mine. Place the beans with salt and the recommended amount of water (your pressure cooker manual should give you an idea.) It takes 5 minutes after the pressure has built up in my WMF pressure cooker.

Let the pressure die down before opening the cooker. I leave it for about 10 minutes.

Drain the beans and place them in a shallow bowl.

Mash the beans roughly. You want some of it fully mashed but also some bigger bits and pieces. So a rough mash is perfect.

Add the breadcrumbs, onion, chilli, egg, chilli powder, salt, pepper and hot sauce to the mashed beans. Mix everything well. Let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Shape into patties the size of your burger bun. These patties don't shrink like the meat ones. They hold their shape and size.

Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Place the patties in the pan and let it cook till it has browned and crisped up on one side. This takes 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes till it browns a little and crisps up on the second side as well.



If you are using cheese slices, place the slices on the patties after you've flipped them so that they can get all melty and gooey while the patty cooks on the second side.

Slit the burger buns and lightly toast them on the pan, cut side down.

'



I crumbled my feta cheese into a bowl and used a spoon to mash it up and make it more spreadable.

Assemble your burger with the fixings of your choice. For me it was iceberg lettuce, sliced onion and sliced tomato.




Enjoy!!!