U is for Upside down Blueberry Cobbler

For those unfamiliar with fruit cobblers, think of sweet and juicy fruit in a large baking dish covered over with batter or pie crust before being baked. The fruit juices run into the batter making it a colourful and sweet dessert. You could also make a savoury cobbler, but that’s for another day.

Today’s cobbler is an upside down version with the batter going into the dish first, sprinkled over with fresh blueberries. The berries are too pretty to be hidden under a blanket of batter. I’m sure you will agree that this upside down version makes the cobbler a treat for the eyes.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • a generous pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 175 grams blueberries, or any other berries you may prefer
  • 25-30 grams butter

Method:

1. Preheat oven to Gas 5 (375°F).

2. In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the vanilla and continue to mix. When it is nicely combined pour in the almond milk.

3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Gradually, add the dry mix into the wet mix, a few spoons at a time whisking it together to combine.  When all the flour has been mixed in you should have a smooth but thick batter of pouring consistency.

5. In a greased baking dish, pour the batter making sure it covers the base of the dish.

Batter - thick but pouring consistency

Batter – thick but pouring consistency

6. Scatter the blueberries over the batter.

Blueberries scattered over the batter

Blueberries scattered over the batter

7. Bake for about 40 minutes.

8. The blueberries should sink halfway into the batter during the baking process.

Upside down blueberry cobbler

Upside down blueberry cobbler

Voila, you have an Upside Down Blueberry Cobbler.

Serve warm with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Notes:

Don’t omit the vanilla nor the salt – they add lovely base notes to the cobbler.

 

Posted in Baking, Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

T is for Tortas

It was love at first bite when we were first introduced to these beauties by a close friend of ours.  We are now indebted to him for life. If you are ever in Spain, look out for the Ines Rosales tortas and I can guarantee you will be hooked.

If you have never come across tortas before, imagine crisp wafer thin crackers flavoured with aniseed and sprinkled over with shiny crystals of sugar. Cracker heaven!

I’ve adapted these from Crackers & Dips by Ivy Manning.

This recipe makes about 12 crackers abut 4″ in diameter.

Ingredients:

100 mls of water

2 teaspoons aniseeds

1 cup flour + 1 tablespoon for dusting

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons caster sugar

 

Method:

1. Add 1 teaspoon of the aniseeds to the water and heat it until it is hot but not boiling.

2. Strain the aniseed water, measure and keep aside about 55 mls to cool slightly.

3. Preheat the oven to Gas 4 ( 350 F). Grease and paper 2-3 baking trays and keep aside.

4. In a bowl, mix the flour, salt and caster sugar.

5. In another bowl mix together the warm aniseed water, olive oil, yeast and orange zest. Add this to the dry mixture.

6. Mix well and and knead for about 4-5 minutes until you have a smooth dough. Cover the bowl with cling film and let this dough rise in a warm place for about an hour.

7. Divide the dough into 2 equal balls. Then divide each ball further into 6 smaller balls.

8. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into an evenly flat circle, dusting with extra flour as necessary. This is like rolling out chapatis or tortillas.

Rolling out the dough for the tortas

Rolling out the dough for the tortas

9. Transfer the circles onto the baking trays. You will probably need to do this in 3-4 batches.

10. Combine the sugar with the remaining aniseeds. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over each circle. Press the sugar and the aniseeds into the circle with the back of a spoon or the base of a flat cup.

Tortas prepped for the oven

Tortas prepped for the oven

11. Prick the circles with a fork and bake for about 7-8 minutes until they are golden brown. Keep a watch as your oven may work differently. These crackers are very thin and can go from golden to burnt in a few seconds.

Crispy tortas ready to be munched

Crispy tortas ready to be munched

12. Cool the crackers and enjoy fresh.

Notes:

1. You could make these in different flavours. I’ve tried a lemon zest version, cracked black pepper with sea salt and even one with chopped green chillies. For these other versions, just use 55 mls of warm water without infusing it with the aniseeds. Omit the sugar in the savoury versions.

2. They may store well for a few days but ours don’t last more than a couple of hours so I can’t be sure….

Posted in Appetisers and Nibbles, Baking, Cookies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

S is for oven roasted Squash

I’ve recreated this from a recipe I used to enjoy as a child – crispy fried red pumpkin slices.

The squash mimics the sweetness of the pumpkin and oven baking it makes it crisp like the fried version I remember.

Give it a go. It makes a lovely and colourful side dish.

Crispy oven baked squash

Crispy oven baked squash

Ingredients:

350 grams butternut squash or red pumpkin sliced

1.5 teaspoons turmeric

1.5 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon sambhar masala* (or cumin – coriander powder)

salt to taste

1/3 cup rice flour (approx.)

2-3 tablespoons oil plus more for greasing the baking tray

Oven roasted squash

Oven roasted squash

Method:

1. Marinate the slices of squash with all the spices and salt. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to Gas 7 (425 F) for about 10-12 minutes. Grease a large baking tray.

3. Dredge the slices of squash in the rice flour and lay them flat on the baking tray.

4. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until the slices are crispy on the outside and the edges are slightly singed. (Bake for longer on a lower heat if you want them really crispy.)

5. Serve hot.

Notes:

1. These are best eaten hot. They turn a bit chewy when cold.

2. They go well as a side with a rice and curry. Equally good as appetizers with a dip.

3. Sambhar powder is a spice mix akin to Garam Masala but unique to the Pathare Prabhu community. (You can read more about the PP community and their cusine at varan-bhaat.com) You could substitute this with cumin-coriander powder or garam masala although the taste will be altered.

Posted in Appetisers and Nibbles, Baking, Savoury | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

R is for Rum baked bananas

If you’re looking for a pastry free, healthy and tasty dessert, Rum baked bananas tick all the right boxes.

This is a super quick recipe that doesn’t need you to go shopping to make dessert. Of course, rum is a store cupboard essential!

I made this as a romantic sharing dessert but you could easily bake it an large baking dish to feed a crowd.

Ingredients:

2 bananas

1 heaped tablespoon brown sugar

20 ml dark rum

2 teaspoons butter

zest of 1/4 orange and 1/4 cup orange juice (optional)

 

Rum baked bananas

Rum baked bananas

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 7 (425 F). Meanwhile, peel the bananas and cut them lengthwise.

2. In a greased ovenproof dish, sprinkle half the sugar and lay the bananas over it.

3. Dot the bananas with butter. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar and the orange zest (if using).

4. Pour over the rum and all the orange juice (if using).

5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the bananas are soft.

6. You could sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar again and stick it under the grill for the sugar to caramelise or use a blowtorch. (This step is optional)

7. Serve hot with cream or ice cream. Equally good to dip in and enjoy as they are.

 

Posted in Baking, Desserts | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

Q is for Quesadilla Quarters

This recipe has been born out of a plain and simple need to lay out something filling and nutritious when you have a finger food menu, or when you need to contribute to a potluck and need to make a fair number of these, quite quickly.

You could, of course, do this the conventional way but I find this method much easier. I’m no good at cutting quesadillas neatly and I always end up with higgledy piggledy pieces with unequally distributed filling. The quesadillas quarters is my quick fix method.

This recipe can be easily multiplied.

What you will need:

10 whole wheat chapatis or tortilla halves (that’s 5 chapatis/ tortillas in total)

5-6 tablespoons, pizza or pasta sauce (I used a tomato-basil version.)

150 gms of a filling of your choice (meat, colourful veggies – you choose)

100-120 grams of grated cheddar

1 teaspoon Fajita spice mix or paprika

2 tablespoons of oil

2 baking trays, one slightly smaller than the other

What you need to do:

  1. Pre heat oven to Gas 7 (420 F or 220 C) with both the baking trays in it.
  2. Lay the tortilla halves on a plate or your clean counter top. (I used whole wheat chapatis.)
Whole wheat chapatis

Whole wheat chapatis

3. Spread the sauce all over. Add the filling on one half, sprinkle with grated cheese and the fajita spice mix. Then fold the other half of the tortilla over  the filling.

Prepping the quesadillas

Prepping the quesadillas

4. Place the quarter on to a well greased baking tray.

5. Continue until you have the required number of quarters or until your tray is full.

Quesadillas ready to be baked

Quesadillas ready to be baked

6. Drizzle some oil over the quesadilla quarters and then place the smaller tray over them as a weight.

7. Place the trays in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

8. Serve hot.

 

Crispy quesadilla quarters

Crispy quesadilla quarters

Notes:

1. Ensure that your filling is chopped into bite sized pieces so that the filling does not tumble out mid-bite. There’s nothing worse at a finger food buffet than trying to juggle some sparkling conversation with an errant mouthful.

2. Divide your filling into the number of quesadilla pieces so that you end up with evenly filled quarters.

3. I have tried this on a skillet and timed it too. It takes the same time to make 2-3 quarters on a skillet as it did to bake 8 in the oven. No brainer, this one. Plus, the baked ones were a lot crispier.

 

 

 

Posted in Appetisers and Nibbles, Baking, Savoury | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

P is for Paprika and Roasted Cumin Cheddar Stars

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Loads of stars are about to peep out of my oven, so I’ve got my list of wishes ready and waiting. Have you wished upon a star before? What wishes do you want your stars to bring you?   INGREDIENTS: … Continue reading

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O is for Orange and oat cookies

Citrus, oats and almonds come together beautifully to make these chewy and flavourful cookies. Perfect to munch on when you want to ponder life or simply natter with some friends at a picnic.

The original recipe is from Kathleen King’s ‘Tate’s Bake Shop cookbook’. I have modified it to leave out a few ingredients like Crisco (which is not available here) and coconut (not sure about this in a cookie) and to add in almonds which I love.

I have also upped the vitamin C quotient – nothing says ‘Spring is here!’ better than citrus can. Well, at least I think so.

Chewy orange and oat cookies

Chewy orange and oat cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
2 tablespoons ground almonds

Method
1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4 (350 F). Grease and paper a baking tray.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients, except the walnuts and ground almonds.
3. Combine the butter, orange juice and zest and the egg. When it is all well mixed, add this to the dry mixture. Combine well. Now add the nuts and mix till they are all nicely incorporated.
4. Drop this cookie mixture onto the baking tray using a large spoon.
5. Bake till the edges are golden, about 10-12 minutes.
6. Cool the cookies.
7. Eat them all in about 30-45 minutes (it’s possible!) or store them in an airtight jar.

Lacy and crunchy edges with a satisfyingly chewy centre

Lacy and crunchy edges with a satisfyingly chewy centre

Notes and musings:

  1. Very basic ingredients but the combination is a winner.
  2. I love the walnuts – they offer a wonderful base note.
  3.  This makes about 24 cookies. You could always make them smaller and get more of them.
Posted in Baking, Cookies | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

N is for Naan bread

Usually, I am pretty good in choosing a healthy whole wheat roti or chapati when I eat out, but occasionally I like to indulge in these pillowy, white and inviting naans.

They are perfect for soaking up curries and daals, but if, like me, you can’t resist fresh, hot bread, these are equally delicious to munch on their own with a smidgen of melting butter.

I’ve always wanted to try these at home but I thought I needed a special clay oven to do that. Noted chef Anjum Anand has dispelled that myth with her recipe for Instant Naans, replicated here. Take a bow, Anjum, you’ve certainly made my day.

This makes 6 medium sized naans.

Ingredients:

300 grams plain flour, extra for dusting

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon soda bicarb

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

4 tablespoons milk

4 tablespoons plain yoghurt

85-90 mls of water

15-20 grams melted butter, extra for brushing over the naans

Hot buttered naan

Hot buttered naan

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to Gas 9 (475 F), higher , if your oven permits. I know, these are almost furnace temperatures we’re talking about!

2. Place a baking tray in the oven to preheat.

3. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add in the wet ingredients and the water.

4. Mix well with your hands and knead to a smooth dough.

5. Roll out the naans about 3/4 cm thick, using more flour, if required.

6. Place 2-3 naans on the hot baking sheet.  (I did this in 3 batches of 2 each).

7. Cook for 4-6 minutes until the upper surface is dotted with crispy brown spots.

8. Remove from the oven and brush with the extra butter.

9. Serve hot.

Hot, pillowy and very satisfying

Hot, pillowy and very satisfying

 

A satisfied belly and a happy soul – what more could you ask for?

Notes:

1. Keep a couple of plates handy. One to keep the rolled out naans and the other to transfer the hot naans.

2. Keep a pair of oven gloves and tongs handy. These can help you work efficiently and safely. That’s a very hot oven!

Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

M is for Mustard and Honey Chicken

So today, we take a break from desserts and nibbles and focus on the main course. If you’re in a panic for Easter lunch ideas, this might help. It’s simple enough to take the holiday stress away and delicious enough to have people asking for seconds.

It has been inspired by the Barefoot Contessa’s Parmesan chicken and a host of other recipes, all combined into one.

This serves 2 but can easily be multiplied.

Mustard and Honey Chicken

Mustard and Honey Chicken

 

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, pounded into evenly flat fillets

3/4 teaspoon each pepper and salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon each

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons mustard

2 cups bread crumbs

3/4 cup parmesan

3 tablespoons oil

Method:

1. Rub the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Marinate them in the honey and mustard for 3-4 hours. I prefer to leave it overnight for the flavours to soak right in.

2. Heat the oil in a skillet. Simultaneously, preheat the oven to Gas 5 (400 F).

3. Mix the breadcrumbs with the parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon each of pepper and salt.

4. Dip the chicken in the breadcrumbs mixture and make sure they are well coated on both sides.

5. Sauté them for about 3-4 minutes on each side until you have a golden crust.

6. Drain on paper towels and then place them on lightly greased baking trays.

7. Bake the chicken fillets in the oven for another 8-10 minutes until the chicken is well done and you get a crispy coating.

7. Sprinkle with extra parmesan, if you’re a cheese junkie like I am.

8. Serve hot with a large helping of salad on the side.

Note:

1. This recipe can be modified to suit vegetarian palates and I usually follow the same recipe for a paneer version for the husband.

Mustard and honey paneer

Mustard and honey paneer

2. This is best eaten hot and re-heating is not recommended.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 22 Comments

L is for Leave alone cookies

Yes, it’s true. These cookies practically make themselves – with a little help from their friends.

You may also know them as meringues. Tiny, sweet morsels of delight that melt away on your tongue and make you wonder whether you actually ate them. And that makes you reach for another and yet another…naughty and addictive..and here they are.

Ingredients:

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup caster sugar

a pinch of salt

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Leave alone cookies

Leave alone cookies

Method:

1. Preheat oven to Gas 4 (350 F).

2. Beat the egg whites with the salt until they turn foamy.

3. Add in the sugar, a little at a time and continue beating till you get stiff peaks.

4. Gently add in the vanilla and fold in the walnuts.

5. Using a tablespoon, gently drop these in small mounds onto a parchment lined baking tray.

6. Put the trays in and switch off the oven. Leave the cookies inside overnight. They will cool and turn crisp.

7. Store in airtight containers.

 

 

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K is for Kathi rolls, my way

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Kathi rolls, for the uninitiated, originally referred to kebabs wrapped in a roti or paratha. (Indian flat breads). Similar in concept to a burrito. Over the years, the term Kathi roll has come to represent meat or veggies wrapped in … Continue reading

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Cucumber and Yoghurt raita

This is a very common raita (or dip) in India and it combines two of my favourites – cucumbers and yoghurt. I can eat them at any time of the day or night (as I discovered during my pregnancy). But I digress..

This raita is versatile enough to be a runny raita or a nice thick dip if you use greek yoghurt. The best part? It can be ready in under 5 minutes if the cravings kick in.

Cucumber yoghurt raita with a sprinkling of spices

Cucumber yoghurt raita with a sprinkling of spices

 

Ingredients:

1 large cucumber

100 grams (approx. ) yoghurt

salt to taste

a pinch of paprika (optional)

a pinch of cumin-coriander powder (optional)

1/4 teaspoon sugar (also optional)

 

Method:

1. Grate the cucumber. Squeeze out excess water and keep aside.

2. Beat the yoghurt with salt and sugar (if using). Add this to the cucumber.

3. Sprinkle with the spices and serve immediately.

 

Notes:

This is best made just before serving and so it helps that this is a quick no-fuss side.

 

 

 

Posted in raitas and accompaniments | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kathi Roll Stuffing

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It doesn’t really matter what you choose to put into your Kathi Roll. It’s a bit like choosing sandwich fillings. Just go with whatever you fancy. If you want anchovies and jam …go for it. It might find a place … Continue reading

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J is for Jammie Dodgers, with a twist

If you like PB&J sandwiches, this cookie is right up your street. That’s right, these are Peanut Butter Jammie Dodgers.

An American slant on a very British cookie!

Jammie Dodgers with Peanut butter

Jammie Dodgers with Peanut butter

Ingredients:

1 quantity Basic Vanilla Cookie dough

2 tablespoons smooth Peanut butter

2 tablespoons Raspberry Jam

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

Method:

1. Make the cookie dough as per the instructions in the Basic Vanilla Cookie Dough recipe. Chill the discs of dough in the fridge for an hour or two.

2. Using cookie cutters dipped in flour, cut out the shapes you want.   You will need an even number of cookies to make Jammie Dodgers since these are essentially sandwich cookies. I used a large cookie cutter and then a smaller one to cut out the circles for the cookie rings on top.

3. Bake cookies in a preheated oven at Gas 4 (350 F) as per instructions in the Basic Vanilla Cookie Dough recipe. Once the cookies are done, keep aside to cool.

4. Heat the raspberry jam so that you get the consistency of thick honey. Keep aside. ( It is easier to pipe or spread this on to the cookies rather than straight of out of the jar.)

5. Once the cookies are cool, slather the peanut butter generously over the base cookie. Pipe or drop half a teaspoon of jam on to the centre of the peanut butter. (I prefer to add the jam before placing the second cookie on top to avoid jam smudges. )

5. Dust some powdered sugar over the cut out rings.

Prepping the Jammie Dodgers

Prepping the Jammie Dodgers

6. Sandwich the cookies together and have yourself a Jammie Dodgers afternoon.

Jammie Dodger for tea!

Jammie Dodger for tea!

Posted in Baking, Cookies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

I is for Ice Cream Cup cookies

I have never really liked ice cream cones. I eat way too slowly and by the time I am half way through my cone is dripping a sticky mess onto my toes. I have often wondered why ice creams aren’t served in edible cups instead.

I want my ice cream in cookie cups that you can munch on long after the ice cream has gone. I also want them to look like the pretty chocolate dipped waffle cones.

Here is my solution!

Ice cream cup cookies - tah-dah!

Ice cream cup cookies – tah-dah!

Ingredients:

1 quantity Basic Vanilla Cookie dough

6-8 Silicon cup cake moulds

6-8 Cup cake cases

A few spoons of uncooked rice or lentils or ceramic baking beans (as weights)

Method:

This part is similar to making pie crust.

1. Take a small ball of dough and flatten it with your palms. Gently press it into each of the cup cake moulds ensuring that you have an even distribution. Any excess that overflows can be trimmed off with a knife.

2. Place the cup cake cases onto the dough.

3. Chill these for about an hour or two.

4. Pre heat the oven to Gas 4  (350 F) for 10 minutes.

5. Fill the cup cake cases with beans or lentils or rice.

 

Blind baking the cookies

Blind baking the cookies

6. Place in the oven and bake the cookies for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven, then discard the cup cake cases. Prick the base of the cookie with a fork. Return the cookies to the oven, rotating the tray around to ensure even baking.

7.   Continue baking the cookies on their own for another 5-7 minutes. (This is similar to blind baking pie shells.) This will depend on the size of your cookie and also the type of oven you have. Look out for visual cues like the edges turning pink/golden.

Ice cream cup cookies - just baked

Ice cream cup cookies – just baked

8. Once done, cool the cup cookies.

9. Melt some chocolate in a bain marie. Dip the rims of the cookies in the melted chocolate.

10. Cool and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Ice cream cup cookies - with a rim of chocolate

Ice cream cup cookies – with a rim of chocolate

11. Serve with a generous scoop of your favourite ice cream.

 

Dive in!

Dive in!

Notes:

Left over dough can be frozen for the next time you get a craving for vanilla sugar cookies.

Posted in Cookies, Desserts | Tagged , , , | 47 Comments