Thursday, 18 September 2014

Pumpkin Falafel

I'm a pretty social person, but sometimes I just want to sit in a quiet corner and eat my falafel by myself. I call it meditation.

Pumpkin Falafel
adapted from Alice Hart's Vegetarian
Serves 4

For the Falafel:
500g pumpkin, deseeded, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 small bunch parsley leaves
1 small bunch coriander leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Yoghurt Sauce:
1/2 continental cucumber, peeled, deseeded and coarsely grated
300g thick Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoons lemon juice
Sea salt to taste

To Serve:
Warm pita bread
Cheery tomatoes, halved and seasoned with salt and pepper and a drizzles of olive oil
Coriander leaves
Lemon wedges

Make the Falafel:
Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the pumpkin onto a baking tray, drizzle with oil, season well with salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes until cooked and golden. Set aside to cool.

Put the chickpeas into a food processor along with the garlic, baking soda, parsley, coriander leaves, ground coriander and ground cumin. Blitz until you have a paste. Tip into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Mash the cooked pumpkin with a fork, add it to the chickpea mixture and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Scoop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes until golden.

Make the Yoghurt Sauce:
Put the grated cucumber into a sieve and sprinkle with salt. Leave to drain for 20 minutes. Rinse and squeeze the water out using a tea towel. Stir the cucumber into the yoghurt  and add the lemon juice and season to taste.

To Serve:
Serve the falafels on warmed pita breads with the tomato salad, extra coriander leaves, a dollop of yoghurt sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice. Wrap the whole lot up and enjoy!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

It took me until this post to realise that my favourite wooden spoon is bent. Yes, I have a favourite wooden spoon. That probably makes me a little bit bent too.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting
Makes 12

For the Cupcakes:
225g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
115g unsalted butter, softened
180g caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150m  buttermilk

For the White Chocolate Frosting:
80g white chocolate, melted and cooled
125g unsalted batter, softened
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt

Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat the ove to 180C and line a 12-hole cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and then reduce the mixer speed to low and keeping the machine running, add a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk. When this is just combined, add another third of flour mixture and the remaining half of buttermilk. Once it is incorporated add the final third of flour and mix until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake for 20 -25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of a cupcake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until pale. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the icing sugar and mix until incorporated. Add the cooled melted chocolate and beat on medium for a few minutes until fluffy. Add the cream, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and beat until combined.

Top each cupcake with a swirl of frosting.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Zucchini and Feta Pissaladiere

I'm not one of those people who slip a summer dress on if the sun comes out on a winters day. I have to have weeks of sun before I fold my fuzzy woolen jumpers away for the season. But you know I'm dreaming of summer when I start baking with zucchini and cherry tomatoes in early spring.

Zucchini and Feta Pissaladiere
slightly adapted from Annabel Langbein's Simple Pleasures

For the Olive Oil Pastry:
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup lukewarm water

For the Toppings:
3 - 4 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 -14 cherry tomatoes, halved
100g feta, crumbled
2 tablespoon pine nuts
Handful parsely leaves
Handful mint leaves

Make the Olive Oil Pastry:
Put the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a food processor and whiz until combined. Add the olive oil and water and blitz again until the mixture forms a ball around the blade. Turn the dough out into a lightly floured work surface, bring it together into a smooth ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Make the Pissaladiere:
Put the grated zucchini into a tea towel and squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can. Heat the oil in a large frying pan to medium heat and tip the drained zucchini into it. Add the spring onions, garlic,chilli, herbs lemon juice and salt and pepper  and cook or about 5 minutes, or until softened. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220C fan-forced. Place a large baking tray in the oven to heat up. Once heated, take the tray out of the oven, line it with baking paper, lay the rolled out pastry on it. Spread the zucchini mixture evenly over the pastry. Top with cherry tomatoes, crumbed feta and pine nuts.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until it is golden and crisp. Sprinkle with torn parsely and mint leaves.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

I made these for my sons and their friends yesterday. I probably don't need to tell you that 11 - 13 year old boys are weapons of mass consumption.

Rocky Road Crunch Bars
slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson's Express

125g unsalted butter, softened
200g dark chocolate, chopped
100g milk chocolate, chopped
45ml honey
200g shortbread biscuits, crushed to form uneven crumbs (some fine, some larger pieces)
100g white marshmallows
Icing sugar for dusting

Put the butter, chocolate and honey into a medium saucepan and melt them together over medium heat. Remove from the heat, take out 1/2 cup of this melted mixture and set it aside.

Add the crushed biscuits to the pan of melted chocolate and stir. Add the marshmallows and gently fold them through.

Spoon the mixture into a 17cm x 27cm disposable foil tray and level the top as well as you can with a spatula. Pour the reserved melted chocolate mixture over the top and spread to evenly cover the top.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set before cutting into pieces as big or as small as you like, Dust with icing sugar.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Hot Dogs with Feta, Olive Salsa and Ouzo Mayo

Don't you think Ouzo Mayo sounds like the name of a remote, sun-drenched Greek Island? An Island where they sell delicious hot dogs on the beach along with chilled glasses of Septem Citra single hop beer? Let's go there!

Hot Dogs with Feta, Olive Salsa and Ouzo Mayo
adapted from Donna Hay
Makes 4

For the Ouzo Mayo:
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup best quality mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Ouzo
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Olive Salsa:
1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped
250g cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar

For the Hot Dogs:
4 best quality frankfurters
4 soft white hot dog rolls
100g feta, crumbled

For the Kale:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 kg kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
Sea salt to taste
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

Make the Ouzo Mayo:
Put all the Mayo ingredients into a small bowl and mix until combined. Set aside.

Make the Olive Salsa:
Put all the Salsa ingredients into a small bowl and mix until combined. Set aside.

Cook the Kale:
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the kale, salt and ground fennel and toss in the oil. Add a tablespoon of water and cook until wilted . Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and toss. Set aside and keep warm.

Make the Hot Dogs:
Put the frankfurters in a pan with cold water to cover. Slowly bring them up to a simmer over medium heat. Leave to simmer gently for 5 minutes (do not boil). Remove from heat and drain well.

Split the hot dog rolls. Spread them generously with the Ouzo Mayo in both sides. Fill with frankfurters, kale, olive salsa and crumbled feta. Drizzle with extra Ouzo Mayo.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Oreo and Peanut Butter Pie


Unlike American kids, I didn't grow up with Oreos and peanut butter. But I've certainly made up for it since.

Oreo and Peanut Butter Pie
slightly adapted from Delicious

For the Base:
20 Oreos
75g unsalted butter

For the Filling:
400g peanut butter (I used the smooth variety)
175g icing sugar

For the Topping:
100g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate, chopped

Make the Base:
Put the Oreos into a food processor and blitz until they are a fine crumb. Tip the Oreo crumbs into a bowl. Melt the 75g of butter and combine them with the Oreo crumbs. Press them into a 24cm loose-bottomed tart pan to line the base and sides and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes.

Make the Filling:
Combine the peanut butter and icing sugar in a bowl. Mix to combine, then spread over the pie base.

Make the Topping:
Put the 100g butter and chopped dark chocolate into a heat-proof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water). Stir until melted, cool slightly then pour it over the pie filling. Swirl the pan to spread the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter layer. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes.

Take it out of the fridge 10 - 15 minutes before slicing. I tried to slice mine while it was still very cold and the edges crumbled a little. Later when I had another slice (don't look at me like that), it was much easier to slice when it had been out of the fridge for a few minutes. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Coconut Chia Breakfast Pudding with Honey and Fresh Berries

I'm a tad wary of chia. (Sung to the tune of I'm Just Wild about Harry.) But seriously, I'm okay with including chia seeds in a smoothie where they get blitzed to smithereens. Problem is, when I throw them in my breakfast muesli I inevitably find one of those gelatinous little guys in my teeth at 3 o'clock in the afternoon no matter how hard I brush and floss (Have I grossed you out yet?). But here, steeped in coconut milk for hours, they become almost sago-like. This pudding is so lush, I didn't know whether to have it for breakfast or keep it for dessert. And that's a problem I don't mind having.

Coconut Chia Breakfast Pudding with Honey and Fresh Berries
Serves 2

3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons honey, plus extra for drizzling
200g strawberries
Handful of blueberries

Put the chia seeds, coconut milk, vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons honey into a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight is ideal. The chia seeds will swell and become soft.

Spoon the chia pudding into small glasses.

Put half the strawberries into a blender with 1 teaspoon of honey and blitz until smooth. Push them through a fine mesh sieve. Pour the fruit coulis over the chia pudding. Top with sliced strawberries and a few blueberries and drizzle with a little honey.