Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Cheese and Onion Muffins

Cheese and Onion Muffins
As mentioned here, this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge saw us experimenting with loaves and muffins. Having always made sweet muffins with ease, it was time to try something different and new.

Savoury muffins. 

Figuring out the flavour profile was something of a challenge; I wanted the muffins to be vegetarian friendly but still be satisfying and moreish. Cheese was definitely the way forward. It so happened that onions were on offer at the supermarket, so that was that. Cheese and onion muffins were on the menu. Having never worked with marjoram before, I was curious as to how it flavours a dish so in it went into the muffin batter. Not surprisingly it worked well! The sweetness and delicate flavour of the marjoram worked really well with the cheddar and onions.

Some of the ingredients: onions, cheese, marjoram, black pepper and salt. Isn't Himalayan salt so pretty with its various tinges of pink?
The muffins turned out to be incredibly soft, moist and had a lovely crumb. The additional cheese on top gives it a nice crust while the black pepper imparts subtle heat. The muffins keep well in the fridge and for the past couple of days I’ve been enjoying this delight before work. There is nothing better than a warm muffin and a cup of coffee/tea first thing in the morning to get you going. Plus I am also under the illusion that this is a relatively healthy start to the day; of course you prefer it to be super healthy, just reduced the amount of cheese.

This is Rusky four muffins later. Contented beyond words.
These muffins were so good that Rusky, my beloved cocker spaniel snuck into the kitchen and stole and greedily scoffed FOUR muffins in one go before anyone realised what had happened.

Cheese and Onion Muffins

Yields 12 muffins


300g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large onions, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
225ml milk
1.5 tsp majoram
6 tbsp olive oil
100g cheddar, grated
Ground black pepper

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C. Line muffin pan.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and gently fry onions for 10-12 minutes until soft and translucent.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and sieve.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, milk, marjoram and remaining olive oil. Add a generous pinch of black pepper.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix. Stir in the onions and grated cheese and mix until just combined.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with remaining cheese and more black pepper.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, firm to touch and well risen.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Daring Bakers February 2012 - Jaffa Drizzle Loaf

 Jaffa Drizzle Loaf in all its glory!
Another month is coming to an end so it means this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge is about to be unveiled. Can you believe we’ve gone through TWO months of 2012 already?

Anyway the Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavour profiles. There were three rules we had to adhere to
  1. No yeast is to be used
  2. The process of making and baking cannot take more than 1.5 hours
  3. Only loaves, muffins or popovers (Which I only just discovered is the American versions of Yorkshire Puddings)
So with these rules in mind I made
  1. Jaffa inspired Orange Chocolate Drizzle Cake
  2. Cheese and Onion Muffins
  3. Sour Cherries and Chocolate Muffins  
As you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge and I loved playing around with new flavours. I won’t be posting all the recipes today but will stagger it out throughout the week.

I’ll start off with my favourite out of the list: Orange Chocolate Drizzle Cake. I’m not sure what to say about this loaf...Just look at it in all its chocolatey orange goodness! If you have the ability to say no to a slice of this then you must be MAD! 

It's so easy to throw together as well; add all the ingredients to a bowl, mix together and bake!
The interior of this loaf is moist and very flavourful thanks to the orange syrup that is the drizzled over it post-baking. The chocolate drizzle is slightly indulgent but by this point you wouldn’t care! I made an extra loaf for my friend, Adlin and her parents and they absolutely loved it. Even my mother, who is quite the critic, could not stop eating slices of it!
Also it is worth noting that the flavours develop over the days so it might be advisable to make this loaf a day before you intend on serving it. That's if you can resist not tucking into it straight away...!

Jaffa Drizzle Loaf

Adapted from BBC Good Food


140g butter, softened
200g self raising flour
200g caster sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
6 tbsp cold milk
Finely grated zest of 1 orange

3 tbsp orange juice
50g caster sugar
50g dark chocolate, melted
Orange slices to decorate

1. Butter and line a loaf tin. Pre-heat oven to 180C
2. Put all cake ingredients into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
3. Spoon mixture into tin and even out the top.
4. Bake for 50 mins until golden brown and cooked on the inside.
5. While the loaf cools in the tin, heat orange juice and sugar in a pan to create a syrup. Bring to a boil.
6. Remove from heat and pour all over evenly. Don't worry if the syrup looks excessive as the loaf will absorb all the moisture.
7. Once the loaf has cooled significantly, melt chocolate and pour or drizzle all over the cake. If you want, you could cover the entire cake with melted chocolate.
8. Decorate with orange slices.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Lemon, Kumquat and Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

I came across these kumquats in the supermarket last week and I knew I had to take these gorgeous golden mini citrus fruits home. I was initially unsure how to incorporate this into a recipe. Plus there were so many routes I could take; kumquat preserves, puddings, loaf, tarts. In the end I went for a relatively simple recipe which I knew would highlight the sweet and citrus tones of the kumquat.
Lemon, Kumquat and Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream
The addition of chopped kumquats to the natural combination of lemons and poppy seeds gives this cupcake a beautiful citrus balance. The zesty-ness of a lemon cupcake is taken down a notch replaced with a slightly sweet undertone. The cupcake recipe itself produces an incredibly light, fluffy cake and when topped with a tangy lemon buttercream, it screams sunshine, beach and summer!
Can't get enough of these gorgeous colours! 
So tell me, what is your favourite way of enjoying kumquats? 

Lemon, Kumquat and Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Adapted from BBC Good Food

Yields 12 cupcakes



225g self raising flour
175g caster sugar
Zest of two lemons
½ cup kumquats; de-seeded and chopped
2 tbsp poppy seeds, toasted
3 eggs
100g natural yoghurt
175g butter, melted and cooled


225g butter; softened
350-400g icing sugar; sifted
Juice of one lemon
Few drops of yellow colouring


Lemon, Kumquat and Poppy Seed Cupcakes
  1. Toast the poppy seeds over a low flame for 5-10 minutes until the seeds emit a nutty aroma.
  2. Mix flour, caster sugar, lemon zest, poppy seeds and chopped kumquats in a large mixing bowl. Beat the eggs into the yoghurt and add to the dry ingredients together with melted butter.
  3. Mix ingredients until incorporated and divide into cupcake cases. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20-25 minutes. Use a skewer to check if cupcakes are done as the tops will remain quite pale.
  4. Leave to cool completely before icing.
Lemon Buttercream 
  1. To make buttercream, beat butter until really soft. Gradually add the icing sugar and lemon juice. 
  2. Add a few drops of yellow colouring to give the buttercream a pale yellow tinge.  
  3. Pipe buttercream onto cupcakes using a star nozzle.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Dried Raspberries and White Chocolate Pancakes

Pancake Day is celebrated with lots of enthusiasm in the UK every February and it’s a tradition I have come to love over the years of living in the UK.

In first year of University, I was assigned to live in a flat with 7 other girls. Four of the girls were older than the rest of us and were doing their second degrees. This meant that they were a bit more mature and serious about cleanliness, chores and being quiet compared to the 4 18/19 year olds who cared more about partying and laughing and doing ridiculously things in the kitchen, causing lots of noise and subsequently lots of arguments with the 4 older flatmates. When Pancake Day arrived, the 4 older girls got together and made lots of pancakes and did not offer any to us. So come midnight we thought it would be funny to ‘spike’ their leftover pancake batter with things like vinegar and lemon juice.

The next day we converged to the kitchen hoping that the batter would have gone off, instead the older girls commented how lovely the pancakes! Major fail on our part. And till today I have no idea how the pancake batter survived the huge lashings of vinegar and lemon juice!

In conjunction with Pancake Day I made these Dried Raspberries and White Chocolate Pancakes. I used my standard pancake recipe which yields fluffy, tasty American style pancakes and to make it special I added half cups of dried raspberries and white chocolate chips to the mixture.

This adaptation was a great hit as the sweetness from the chocolate chips was balanced by the tartness of the dried raspberries. I’ll definitely be making these again soon!
NB: Although the raspberries aren’t visible on the surface of the pancakes, rest assured that each mouthful is a laden filled with chocolate and chewy bits of fruit.

Dried Raspberries and White Chocolate Pancakes

Makes about 10 medium sized pancakes

Adapted from BBC Good Food


200g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
300 ml milk
½ tbsp melted butter
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup dried raspberries
A little butter for cooking

  1. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix egg and milk. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the egg mixture into it, whisking to create a thick batter.
  2. Whisk in the melted butter until fully incorporated and gently stir in the chocolate chips and raspberries.
  3. Heat a non stick pan with a small amount of butter. Drop a large tablespoon of pancake batter in the pan and cook for 2-3 mins until small bubbles appear on the surface. Flip and cook for a few more minutes. Pancakes should fluff up during cooking process.
  4. Remove and keep warm by covering the pancakes with kitchen paper, while the rest of batter is used up.

Friday, 17 February 2012


Remember what I resolved after the Daring Baker's fiasco back in December? I made a resolution to conquer the much dreaded bread making and vowed to produce a stunning loaf by the end of 2012. I even spammed my brother, Suresh, with links of bread-making books on Amazon coercing him into buying me one for my birthday/Christmas. And he did, no surprise there!

Paul Hollywood's 100 Great Breads is a brilliant book with interesting and easy to follow recipes. Following his recipe I managed to bake myself an really good basic white loaf and things have really taken off since then.

Figuring that yeast/bread is no longer the enemy, I decided to jump right in and try out the ciabatta recipe. It turned out so much better than expected! Perfect crisp crust with a light, air-pocketed middle. It's even looks like a typical ciabatta loaf - broad and almost flat.

That same evening I talked Gavin through the recipe on Skype and even he made some pretty awesome ciabatta loaves. This recipe doesn't involve any kneading - just throw the ingredients into a bowl, give a good mix and leave it to rise. Tip the risen dough onto a heavily floured surface, coat it with more flour, cut it up into desired size, bung it in the oven and voila! Homemade ciabatta!
Like any rustic bread, ciabattas are so versatile and so I've been dunking it in soups, making bruschettas and plan to make sandwiches with it. So good! 

I'm glad my perseverance is paying off; and who knows, before long I may even become some sort of bread connoisseur. Watch this space I tell ya!


Makes 4 loaves ( 6-7 inches long)


500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1½ tsp salt
15g dried yeast
400 ml tepid water
30 ml olive oil

  1. Place flour, salt, yeast and 300 ml water in a big bowl and mix with wooden spoon until ingredients come together. If using a mixer, mix ingredients with a dough hook on slow for 3 minutes.
  2. Slowly begin to add the remaining water and mix for a further 5-8 minutes. The dough should now be wet and stretch easily when pulled.
  3. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and leave to rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
  4. Tip the dough out onto a heavily floured surface and coat the top of the dough with flour.
  5. Cut the dough lengthways and divide each piece into two. You will now have four pieces of dough.
  6. Stretch a little and shape the dough into a rough rectangle. Place on a lined baking tray, ensuring there is ample space between each piece of dough.
  7. Rest for a further 20 minutes.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220C for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Daring Cooks February 2012 - Flipping Fried Patties

Thai Fish Cakes with a Cucumber Ribbon Salad
The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness! We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!

 A variety of healthy and colourful ingredients
The main intention of this challenge was for us to understand how to form, what binders to use and how to fry a patty to perfection.  As we were given free rein on the type of patty to make I went for a recipe that is healthy yet which packs a punch flavour wise. I also wanted to make something simple as work is tiring me out at the moment.  

I wish I had more time to experiment but for now Thai Fish Cakes with a Cucumber Ribbon Salad will have to do!

De-seed a cucumber by using a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Toss all ingredients to create a light salad.
I came across this recipe for Thai Fish Cakes a few months ago and have made it a number of times and have always been well received. Served with refreshing cucumber ribbon salad, this makes a perfect entrée or a main meal. The multitude of flavours combined is stunning; fresh and light with a slight heat from the chilli coming through. The cucumber salad is refreshing and adds a really nice touch. Honestly each mouthful is an explosion of flavours!

Top to bottom: Process fish, add wet ingredients, then the dry, finally shape the paste into patties.
These fish cakes are relatively easy to throw together – with the food processor doing most of the work. This recipe doesn’t require the use of any binders nor does it need to be coated. Plus this is a gluten-free recipe!

Thai Fish Cakes with a Cucumber Ribbon Salad

Serves 4 as an entree, or 2-3 as a main

Adapted from Thai Food


Fish Cakes
0.45 kg white-fleshed fish fillets (I used sole)
3 tbsp coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp shrimp paste
½ tbsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder (optional)
⅓ tsp cumin
¼ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp brown sugar
3 red onions, thinly sliced
1 thumb sized galangal or ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, sliced
6-7 kaffir lime leaves, thinly cut with a pair of scissors

Cucumber Ribbon Salad
1 cucumber, deseeded and ribboned
1 chilli, diced finely
1 lime, juiced
½ tsp sugar
Fresh coriander leaves

  1. Prepare the cucumber salad by de-seeding it and slicing it thinly by using a mandolin or a manual slicer to create a ribbon effect.
  2. Add the chilli, lime juice and sugar to the cucumber ribbons and toss. Chill in the refrigerator.
  3. Pat dry fish fillets and cut into chunks. Place in a food processor and process until fish chunks resemble a paste.
  4. Mix the chilli powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander seeds, brown sugar, shrimp paste, fish sauce and coconut milk in a bowl. Add the mixture to the fish paste using a fork/spoon.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients; kaffir lime leaves, chilli, onions, galangal and garlic. Pulse with fish until it forms a thick paste.
  6. Pick a small amount of paste (about the size of a golf ball) and place in your palm. Shape it into a fish cake and place on a tray. Repeat until all remaining paste is used. It helps to constantly wet your palms to prevent the fish cakes from sticking. If paste is too wet, add a small amount of breadcrumbs or flour.
  7. Set the cakes in refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to firm up.
  8. Heat oil in a small frying pan (enough to shallow fry).
  9. Place cakes in pan slowly. Allow cakes to cook halfway before flipping. Fry until both sides are golden brown and drain on paper towel.
  10. Add coriander leaves to the cucumber salad and serve together with fish cakes immediately.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Double Chocolate Tartlettes

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it is only fitting that I share a decadent chocolate inspired recipe that is the perfect dessert if you’re looking to impress.

Valentine’s Day has never meant much to me over the years – and no I am not just saying that to justify the lack of Valentines cards and gifts received. No doubt it has become a gimmicky day where it is okay for the price of roses to sky rocket by 200% or where restaurants get so full that you’re literally sat on the same table with another couple, listening to all the sweet nothings the man is whispering to his lady. Cue gag reflex.

Nope, celebrating Valentine’s Day in public is definitely not my thing. If I had to, I’d rather spend it in the comforts of my own home, with a lovely home cooked meal, with my (or rather his) choice of music (because Westlife is just plain cheesy) and a bottle of wine that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Chocolate shortcrust pastry
Yes I am cheap sometimes but you have to admit that sounds way more appealing than being stuck in an overcrowded restaurant with 50 other couples all under the pretense of being romantic.

Anyway back to main point - double chocolate tartlettes. Smooth creamy ganache surrounded by crumbly chocolate shortcrust pastry and topped with cocoa powder and lime zest, for a slight tang which cuts right through the richness of the chocolate. It takes a bit of preparation and waiting time but the end result is so worth it!

So what are you doing this Valentines?

Double Chocolate Tartlettes

Chocolate Shortcrust Pastry

From Pastry Cook book

Makes about 300g  or sufficient for 8 tartlettes (3 inches in diameter)


115g plain flour
25g icing sugar
25g cocoa powder
75g chilled butter, diced
2 eggs
¼ tsp vanilla extract

  1. Sift the flour, icing sugar and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Rub butter into flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Mix eggs with the vanilla extract and add to dry ingredients. Mix into the dough using a round-bladed knife.
  3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
  4. Form into a ball and wrap in cling film and chill for 20-30 minutes before using.
  5. Roll out the pastry lightly and evenly until it is about 3mm thick.
  6. Line the tartelette tins and refridgerate for another 60 minutes to minimise shrinkage.
  7. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill it with baking beans/rice/lentils to stop pastry from rising.
  8. Blind bake the tarts at 200°C for 6-8 minutes then remove the parchment paper and baking beans and bake for a further 7-10 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool before filling.

Chocolate Filling

160 ml double cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
Pinch of salt
60g butter, softened
230g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
50ml cold milk
Cocoa powder for dusting
Lime zest for decoration

  1. Place double cream, sugar and pinch of salt in a pan and bring to a boil. As soon as mixture has boiled, remove from heat and add in butter and chocolate.
  2. Stir until it has melted completely. Allow mixture to cool slightly, stirring in milk until smooth and shiny. Allow to cool down a little bit more.
  3. Sometimes the mixture might look like it’s split, just add a little more milk and whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour mixture into pastry shells and leave to cool for around 2 hours.
  5. Dust with cocoa powder and decorate sides with lime zest.
  6. Filling should be smooth and should cut like butter.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Leibster Blog Award - And the Top 5 goes to...

Liebster is German word that translates in English to
"dearest", "favourite", "sweet" and "lovely". It’s meant for up-and-coming
blogs with less than 200 followers."

I was so excited to be presented this award by Carmen from Carmen's Kitchen and one from A Culinary Education. Please stop by and check out their beautiful recipes!

Its such a great feeling when people recognise one's hard work and effort that goes into running a blog. So as per the Leibster Award rules, I have to now pick 5 of my favourite up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers :)

Here are the rules
1.     Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2.     Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
3.     Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
4.     Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (Some say just 3 or more blogs of less than 200 followers each)
5.     Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.
My Liebster Blog Top 5!

2. Barbara @ Barbara Cooks
5.Becky @ The Baker Becky

Make sure you check these blogs out. These lovely ladies have some amazing and interesting recipe that's bound to get you drooling! Also thank you for all your comments, words of encouragement and support that's been readily dished out - it makes me really happy and am loving this journey I am on x

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Simple Broccoli Soup

 Vibrant green fresh soup                           
We’re currently enjoying a 4 day weekend. I know right, 4 day weekend! What does one do with so much time off?  Catch up on sleep, cook vast amounts of food and consume all that’s been cooked of course.

This extended weekend has been nothing short of glorious – relaxing and quiet, almost zen like.

Friday night was spent in the company of my best friends whom I haven’t seen since early December. We had a lovely dinner and a few drinks after which they surprised me with a belated birthday cake!  They totally caught me off-guard seeing that my birthday was about 1.5 months ago but nevertheless it was a really nice gesture! <3
The rest of the weekend was spent lounging around catching up on the latest episodes of my favourite series and reading. I think the laziness is rather contagious as even the parents kept suggesting we eat out in all attempts to avoid cooking! 3 days of eating out has taken its toll on me both weight wise and palate wise and today I woke up craving a simple meal. Not too many robust flavours, something light yet hearty. 
 A few simple ingredients creates a beautiful vibrant soup
This soup definitely ticks all the boxes. Requiring a small number of ingredients one generally has in the kitchen, not only is it quick and easy to throw together but it tastes delicious. This soup is definitely a winner in my books and was the perfect end to a lovely weekend.

Simple Broccoli Soup 

Serves 4


1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 litre vegetable stock
400 g broccoli, roughly chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh cream (optional)

  1. Fry the onion in olive oil in a large pan until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the potato and stock and simmer until potato cubes are tender.
  3. Add the broccoli and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender but still vibrant green.  Add black pepper and salt to taste.
  4. Blend.
  5. Drizzle soup with cream and serve with crusty bread.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Spaghetti with Salmon, Scotch Bonnet Peppers and Spinach

Scotch Bonnet Pepper?
I’ve never cooked with it but have always been curious as it is known for its incredible heat properties. So when I came across these lovely coloured jewel like chillies in the supermarket, I knew it was time to experiment.

Aren’t they pretty
I decided to incorporate these peppers into a recipe introduced to me by my friend Adlin a couple of years ago. Since then it’s become of my go to pasta recipe as it’s not only simple to dish up but it’s flavourful, healthy and colourful. Usually I add normal chillies to this dish which gave a very subtle amount of heat, but surprisingly the scotch bonnets were a delightful addition. It wasn’t overpowering and the heat produced was quite satisfying. Mind you, I only used half a pepper for one portion.

Colourful ingredients makes a pretty dish
This dish makes use of basic ingredients; spaghetti, spinach, garlic, chillies and salmon. However if you prefer, these ingredients can be substituted with other types of pasta or fish.
Just remember once you’ve handled scotch bonnet peppers, wash your hands and wash them again. And for the sake of your eyes, don’t rub them!

Spaghetti with Salmon, Scotch Bonnet Pepper and Spinach


1 piece of salmon
A portion of spaghetti
4 garlic cloves, chopped
½ scotch bonnet pepper, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
2 handfuls of fresh spinach leaves, washed
2 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Clean and wash the salmon fillet under cold water. Pat it dry and season with salt and black pepper.
  2. Boil spaghetti according to instructions on the packet and set aside.
  3. Heat ½ tsp olive oil in a frying pan and cook until medium rare, about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Remove from pan.
  4. In the same pan, add the remaining olive oil and add the chopped garlic, peppers and lemon zest. Toss in the spaghetti and season with salt and pepper. Finally pour the lemon juice over the pasta and take off the heat.
  5. To serve, place the spinach on a plate as a base. Top with pasta and top the mound of pasta with the salmon. Serve immediately.