Almond cake with sunflower seed pralines

Wheat forms such a large part of our lives. Once, I had to care for someone who has IBS/coeliac disease and it literally took me a whole day to plan, research and cook the meals.  I didn’t mind actually, as I love spending time with food. Here’s my forays into making something nice for my friend who is trying to adhere to a keto diet:

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My friend Rona likes her sweet treats and she is supposed to be on a keto diet. As my daughter had been staying at her place for the past few days, I feel obliged to try my hand at keto baking (note: I am not an expert baker).

The first few efforts bite the dust. They taste like something from the bottom of a bird cage. Anyway, this one sort of works (thank you, sour cream) and not too bad. Sorry, there is sugar in it, though reduced….. the coffee, nutty bits make it more-ish. But still a long way to go, very amateurish but with lots of heart!

To make a coffee pralines:

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon coffee granules (NOT instant coffee, or they would dissolve)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Mix all together and put aside.

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups ground almond
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla essence.

Sieve together the almond meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Slowly add the powder mix into the butter-and-sugar mix, alternating with eggs and sour cream.

In a grease-proof baking tray, alternate 1/3 of the cake mix with the pralines.

Bake in a preheated oven (around 350F) for an hour or until firm.

Delicious with coffee 🙂

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Asian steamed rice cakes

In the midst of clearing my kitchen out, I came across a full bag of rice flour. So I googled and experimented, coming up with this simple cake that is familiar in South East Asia, especially Malaysia where I used to live. And to be honest, I got nostalgic about this as this is part of Malaysia that is disappearing….not to soon, I hope!

 

Do watch this video to see what I mean:

To make yeast mixture:

Make sure your yeast is fresh, ie. they make lots of bubbles within 10 minutes. Dissolve 3/4 tsp yeast in 1 TBSP warm water. Leave in a warm place whilst you make the rest of the stuff.

And then, just before use, add 1 TBSP sunflower oil to the mix. Don’t forget!

To make the pandan syrup:

Boil 6 pandan leaves in 150mls water and 100gms sugar for around 10 minutes or until fragrant. Discard the leaves. Make sure you have about 150mls of fluid left.

To make the cake:

  • 140gms rice flour, sieved (make sure there is no lumps!)
  • 150gms water
  • 1/2 tsp salt.

Mix everything together, including the yeast mixture and pandan syrup. Allow to rise in a warm place for 3 hours.

Grease a stainless steel plate. Pour the mixture in. Cover with aluminium foil and steam for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting. I love the texture! (note: I added steamed banana slices for variation.)

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 14.30.32.pngServe with Chinese tea.

Beetroot brownie from Pinch & Swirl

Two confessions. First, I would never have thought of combining BEETROOT with chocolate. Second, I could never make brownies. They’ve alway gone wrong. I never liked them anyway.

But a few weeks ago, my dear friend Jane Varley (also my partner-in-crime) baked the most heavenly beetroot, walnut and chocolate brownies for the IWA Phuket Bake Off.

Sadly, we didn’t win. Er, we didn’t even get a single vote from the tasters, but don’t let this fool you….this is the best brownies I have ever tasted, and it is so full of goodness, too (yeah, half a pound of beetroots).  Its from the Pinch & Swirl website, and you can access it here.

Note re the recipe: I used more beetroot and less sugar, and added raisins.

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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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