Momofuku Compost Cookies

The name certainly sparked a lot of interesting (and sometimes rude) comments! But truly, Momofuku is a cult restaurant chain, especially its Milk Bar.

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This is my version of its Compost Cookies (because its ingredients are everything you have in your kitchen), using stuff that I can easily get. You have to make the Graham cracker mix first, then just put everything in a blender on slow. Be pleasantly surprised how crisps and chocolate chips go oh so well together!!!

Graham Cracker Mix: (I used Jacob’s Cream Crackers but I think any salty crackers would work)

50 grams cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon milk powder (I used coffee creamer, as I wasn’t going to buy something I don’t generally use)
1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Cookie Dough

225 grams unbleached bread flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
225 grams butter
300 grams brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey (original recipe uses glucose syrup)
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
200 grams mini chocolate chips (I used Hersheys – best if you can mix different flavours of chocolate chips)
40 grams rolled oats (not instant oats! I also added some rolled barley)
2½ teaspoons ground coffee (not instant coffee! You want the granules in the cookies)
50 grams crisps (I actually used a bag of Walkers) – bashed up slightly.
50 grams mini pretzels – bashed up slightly.

  • I also threw in a handful of nuts and seeds.

Method:

Make the cracker mixture.

Separately cream the butter with sugar in the blender.

Sieve the flour in with the baking powder and baking soda.

Add everything together in a mixing bowl. Chill for at least an hour in the fridge (OK for 1 week).

Bake in a preheated oven (375 degrees) for about 20 minutes until cooked, but still soft and chewy on the inside.

Store in an airtight container and it should last a few days…..if you haven’t eaten them up, that is 🙂 They are so more-ish! (Probably because I love crisps and chocolates!)

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Photo on 4-24-18 at 18.51

 

TKG – Japanese fast food power breakfast

The old adage, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” is definitely true. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it sets you up for the rest of your day. I love preparing breakfast for my loved ones because I see it as another way of saying ‘I love you’ first thing in the morning (amongst others 🙂 ) but when I wake up in an empty house this is what I normally have for breakfast. Overnight oats and a big pitcher of green smoothie:

On some days, I put in a little more effort:

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And on decadent days, I do this for myself:

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Recently, my non-foodie partner (who dislikes the stuff I eat) told me about this fast-food Japanese power breakfast called TKG (tamago kake gohan).  Hmm. I decided to give it a try.  It’s simple enough:

  1. Cook rice with a strip of kombu seaweed.
  2. Add one egg to a portion of hot rice.
  3. Douse with soy sauce.

Really?

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I experimented a bit. On my first try, it turned out horrible because the egg white was still slimy. The second attempt (without the egg white) was almost right, but I used too much rice so that it was literally just white rice.

Still not convinced.

I added other bits in: lots of freshly ground pepper, spring onions, fried garlic, sweetcorn kernels and sliced red chilli.

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Verdict: not to my taste, but you might like it. It’s certainly nutritious and filling.  Here’s TKG on wikipedia. Check it out, who knows, you might love it! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamago_kake_gohan

Kidney beans and ginger cake

I never throw food away because whatever leftovers I have left is a good opportunity to recycle and try new things. I had quite a lot of kidney beans left over from making lobiani, so I decided to try something new and totally different with the kidney beans.

And here it is, a very unusual, moist chocolate and coffee cake (no butter too!):

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon candied ginger, chopped but not too fine

500g cooked red kidney beans

1 tsp instant coffee

1 tbsps pure vanilla extract

6 tbsps cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

6 tbsps coconut oil

3/4 cup raw brown sugar

5 eggs

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place all the ingredients minus the baking soda, baking powder, and eggs in your blender. Blend until the mixture is too thick to blend. Add in the eggs, baking powder, and baking soda, then mix until a smooth and evenly mixed cake batter is achieved. Grease a loaf tin and pour in your batter. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the inside is firm.

Different, chocolatey but you can still taste the beans!!!!!!

 

Butter-less chocolate banana cake

I love experimenting. Today, feeling hungry, I decided to bake myself an indulgent (but simple) chocolate cake, but horrors, there’s no butter in the fridge.

This is my simple, butter-less, walnut, banana, double chocolate coffee cake ❤

2 eggs
1/3 cup sunflower oil
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp instant coffee
1½ cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Mixed everything together, pour into a greased loaf tin and bake in a preheated oven (set at 350deg) until firm but still moist on the inside.

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A very simple focaccia

I absolutely LOVE focaccia and I think I have indoctrinated my children to love them too. Whenever I bake one, it is almost gone before it cools down.

It’s ideal for picnics too.

This is my very, very simple version, that takes a very short time to make:

THE DOUGH

400 g strong white bread flour
100 g fine ground semolina flour
sea salt
1 sachet dried yeast
½ tablespoon golden caster sugar
300 ml water, lukewarm
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350deg.

Mix all the ingredients together and knead until the dough is bouncy (see my post on bread making). Leave to rise in a warm place (cover with a towel) for about an hour until the dough has almost doubled in size.

THE TOPPING

This is my favourite:

Mixed together halved cherry tomatoes, sliced onions, fresh basil leaves and sea salt in a tablespoon of white wine vinegar.

When the dough has risen, flatten it on a baking tray. Pour the topping evenly over the dough and press the tomatoes and sliced onions into the dough.  You may wish to sprinkle some dried oregano on it. I added some fresh moringa leaves for topping…anything goes, that’s how I cook!

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Drizzle generously with olive oil and bake in the preheated oven until slightly browned…there is nothing worse than burnt focaccia, so keep a close eye on yours.

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Serve dunked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Brandy & pepper pâté

I don’t often bother making my own pâté because you can buy really good ones at a reasonable price in the UK though it costs a small fortune in Asia. I decided to make some for a friend who is anaemic, and also some for myself because pâté tastes ever so lovely with crusty bread.

Disclaimer: The Food Standards Agency advises caterers that all liver should be thoroughly cooked to kill any bugs that might just be present.

But the most important thing is, chicken liver is actually good for you. And it is cheap, because it is not at the top of most people’s shopping list – “offals, yukh!”. Boy, what are they missing out! Chicken livers are high in protein, vitamin A, iron and certain B vitamins (especially B12). As my friend has dizziness with his anaemia, the this nutritional profile of chicken livers make pâtés the ideal snack for him.

Brandy & pepper pâté

225g GOOD salted butter (I use Presidente)

400g chicken livers, tendons removed

4 shallots, sliced

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

150mls brandy, good quality, for goodness sake

2 teaspoons sugar, dissolved in the brandy

50mls cooking cream

1 tablespoon dried thyme (use fresh if possible)

1 pinch mace (or grated nutmeg)

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cashew nuts and sunflower seeds, toasted

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS

Melt 75g of the butter in a heavy frying pan.

Add the shallots and garlic, and fry until fragrant. Sprinkle in the thyme.

Add the livers and fry until cooked through but still pink and moist on the inside.

Remove from heat and pour everything into a blender. Blend until smooth.

Pour the brandy into the saucepan. Add the sugar. Boil until it is reduced to 2 tablespoons of syrupy liquid. Add 75g of the butter. Pour in the cream. Add the mace or ground nutmeg and peppercorns. Add to the blender and blend briefly, just until the mixtures are mixed together. Pour into a pate bowl and leave to cool.

Toast the nuts. Set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in a clean saucepan. Make sure that it does not burn or go brown. When the pate is set, pour the butter over it. Top with the toasted nuts. Chill and it will be ready to eat when the buttery top layer hardens.

PS: Good Christmas presents ❤

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Best-ever ragu

My long-time friend, Toni de Coninck, from Belgium came over for a whirlwind visit.

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He is a fellow foodie and we met ten years ago at Gourmand World Cookbook Awards where my cookbook, The Kundalini Yoga Cookbook, was a finalist. Toni says, “Too bad I don’t have time to cook my ragu for you.”

We all have our heirloom ragu recipe – mine has marmite.  Toni’s different.  But however different, homemade ragu always tastes nothing like the sweet, sticky goo you get if you make it with mass-produced sauce.

He sent me his recipe. Here it is, in his own words.

The secret is time. Time and a decent red wine. First you fry your sofrito in olive oil: 1 chopped carrot, 1 branch of celery, 1 large onion or 2 big shallots. Finely chopped, fry until the onion looks glazed.

I most commonly use 50/50 minced veal and minced pork. Now some people add the meat to the sofrito in this stage, but I fry it in a separate pan so the meat can fry golden brown and in somewhat larger chunks. I find this important because it gives more substance to the later sauce.

Season the meat with black pepper, salt, herbes provencales and if you can find it sweet paprika or pimenton de la vera.

If fried, add the meat to the sofrito, put the whole thing under red wine (half a bottle will do) and bring to a boiling point until all the alcohol has evaporated.

Then add stock or water and 1 large tin of tomato paste or Spanish tomato frito. Put it to simmer, and let it simmer slowly for 3 or 4 hours until it all comes together.

Now, commonly I would use linguine or tagliatelle and it is important to add the sauce to the pasta before serving, so it kinda clings itself to the starch.

Only use freshly grated parmigiana and drink it away with the rest of the red wine.

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Chocolate lava mug cake

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I love “nursery food” as there is something very emotionally satisfying about eating food from our childhood.  I made this quickie chocolate cupcake today for my 17-year-old daughter, but here’s a sophisticated version for an adult dinner party:

INGREDIENTS

120g butter butter
4 ounces dark chocolate drops (I used Dutch chocolates)
1 1/4 cups soft brown sugar
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons Cointreau (omit the Cointreau for small children 🙂  )

METHOD

Preheat oven to 420 degrees.

Put the butter and chocolate in a small bain marie and melt.

Stir in the sugar until well blended. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks, then add the vanilla. Stir in the flour. Divide the mixture among the custard cups. Add 1 tablespoon of Cointreau into each cup.

Bake until the sides are firm and the centers are soft, about 13 minutes. Let stand 1 minute. Serve with a generous dollop of  ice cream.

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Barge House (London) loaded bread bowls

My friend Jane sent me this clip.

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(CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO VIEW)

This deli in London sells more than 500 of these each weekend – these loaded bread bowls have become a sensation! No brainer, as it combines the best of two breakfasts: English cooked breakfast and nice (French) bread. At the Barge House, you have 5 combos to choose from. I made The Original.  It is easy enough: hollow out a sourdough, fill it with spinach, bacon, sausage, tomato, fried mushroom, egg yolks and grated cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted but the egg yolks still gooey.  My word, it was DELICIOUS and we literally licked our fingers!

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Sourdough – it’s about the happy bugs in your house!

I used to remember waking up in my parents’ house to the smell of warm bread in the oven. Yes, sourdough. I love it. Because it is about the happy vibes in my mother’s kitchen.

But asking my mum for any recipe is a nightmare, because she cooks by feel rather than precise measurements – haha, pot calling the kettle black, I do the same too! So I told my friend I wanted to bake a simple sourdough and she laughed at me.

“You?” she said. “You need patience!”

Anyway, where I live at the moment, it costs a whopping £6 for a loaf. So I decided to make my own. OK, what’s beautiful about sourdough is that it does not use dried yeast but airborne microbes to ferment the flour, so you get this lovely, lively starter to bake your bread with. I have lots of happy bugs in the house. It is such a happy house. So why not? I decided to add apples for that lovely background taste to my sourdough (note: use organic apples!)

TO MAKE THE STARTER:

Chop up one apple and mix with 50g rye flour and 50ml cold water.
Mix well and store in a clean jar, covered on top with a clean towel.
FEEDING THE STARTER (5 days)

Everyday, add 1tbsp flour and 1 tbsp water. Mix well.
Cover mixture in jar as per day 1.
On Day 5, it must smell bubbly and doughy. If it smells alien, junk the whole mixture!

STAGE 1: STIFF STARTER

Add 50% of your starter (about 45g) to 85g of strong bread flour (up to you whether you throw away the other 50% or bake 2 loaves) and 45ml of cold water. Mix well.
Store for 8-12 hours.
STAGE 2: THE KNEADING

Put 145g of the starter above in 400mls of tepid water. Mix the starter into a colloidal form in the water.
Add 400g of strong bread flour, 50g of rye flour and 50g of wholemeal flour into the colloid and knead well. Knead for about 10 minutes and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Then add 12g of sea salt and knead again, thoroughly mixing in the salt.
Put the dough in an oiled mixing bowl and leave to rest for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, knead it for a few minutes.
Repeat for 4 kneads and rest periods.
Then line a colander with a clean towel. Put the dough in it and cover with the other half of the towel.
Place in the dough in the fridge overnight.

STAGE 3: BAKING IT

Turn oven up to 250deg (max!)
Warm up a cast-iron casserole dish in the oven for 10 minutes.
Put the dough in there. Dust with semolina, and make two slashes with a knife.
Bake for 35 minutes with lid shut.
Remove lid and bake for another 25 minutes or until browned.
Cool, and leave for a few hours before slicing….though it tastes absolutely delicious when warm!!!!!

Note: I had a fun time with baking this. The whole family got involved with the multiple kneading stages, we sat around and enjoyed it with an Irish friend (with a glass of wine), gave half a loaf to another, and here’s my daughter’s faux pas which is part of our crazy happy household:

PS: The loaf was not perfect and the edges fell apart when I sliced it. But hey, they made a yummy simple aperitif !

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