Cheesecake with passion fruit jelly

The Cheesecake !!!

By Kira

Cheesecake_PassionFruit Cheesecake_PassionFruit1

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Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Coconut Frosting

Chocolate Olive Cake with Coconut frosting

By Kira

I came across this recipe, when I was looking for a gluten and dairy free bake. The recipe suggested using almond meal will result in heavy cake and plain flour will make it lighter, but neither suited me. Since my nut consumption is in moderate level and I also needed a gluten free recipe, I adopted it according to my preference. I had reduced the recipe to fit my 7inch cake tin.

For my first try, I used Doves farm gluten free plain flour and I was so excited to use my very first Willie’s Venezuelen Black 100% cocoa, which I got as a gift from my equal. The result was just ok, but there was three problems. One being the gluten free flour has a strong smell, which was putting off, for a person who has a hyper sensitive nose like mine. Second being, the cocoa wasn’t rich and bitter to compensate for the strong smell of the flour. Atleast, I expected great smooth hot chocolate from the world’s most pricey cocoa, but it was grainy and will not dissolve even after endless whisking. Err!! I am still not able to figure whats wrong, is it a problem only with my bar or its suppose to have only grainy consistency? I swear next time I will go back to my loyal rich, bitter and smooth tasting Green & Black’s Cocoa. Thrid being less sugar, when you take a bite, immediately you will crave for more sugar or atleast for a frosting inbetween to compensate for it.

Second time, I decided to make it for my baking group. I adapted the recipe based on my first try. Inorder to lessen the strong smell of gluten free plain flour, this time I used 2 parts of it to 1 part ground almond meal. Also, made hot cocoa using Green & Black’s cocoa. Finally, I had one more adventure, trying to make dairy free frosting using vegetable shortening to compensate for the sweetness. I can hear you saying, thats all fine, how come coconut came into the picture. Recently, I tired homemade coconut macaroons along with dark chocolate, yum I liked it eventhough I am not a great coconut fan.
Chocolate_Olive_oil_Cake_Coconut_Frosting

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 45 min
Total time: 55 min

Ingredients
Cake:

  • Green & Black’s Cocoa powder 35 g
  • Boiling Water 85 ml
  • Vanilla Essence 1 tsp plus 1/4 tsp
  • Eggs 2 (medium size)
  • Caster Sugar 135 g
  • Light & Mild Olive oil 100 ml
  • Ground Almond 35 g
  • Doves farm Gluten free Plain flour 60 g
  • Bicarbonate of Soda 1/4 tsp plus a pinch
  • A pinch of salt
  • Desiccated Coconut, to sprinkle on top of the cake 1 tsp (optional)

Dairy free Coconut frosting:

  • Vegetable shortening, room temperature 56 g
  • Icing sugar 113 g
  • Vanilla Essence – 1/2 tsp
  • Water – 17 ml (approx. 1 tbsp)
  • Desiccated Coconut 25 g

Instructions
Cake:

  • Preheat the Oven at 170C fan.
  • Prepare the cake tin, line the bottom with greaseproof paper, grease the sides using oil.
  • Sift the cocoa into a small mixing bowl, add the boiling water and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla essence and let the mixture rest for a while.
  • Place the eggs in a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer beat the eggs until its pale and foamy. Keep the mixer running at low speed, add the sugar gradually into the egg mixture, drizzle in the olive oil and slowly pour in the cocoa mixture. Mix everything until is well incorporated.
  • In a small mixing bowl, sift the gluten free plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add the ground almond, give everything a good mix and tip this into the wet mixture. Gently fold in the dry mixture into the wet mixture.
  • Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake at 170C fan for 30 minutes. Remove the cake from oven and let it cool for 10 mins before releasing it from the tin.
  • Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool completely. Using a serrate knife cut the cake into two equal halves, spread the icing between the them and sprinkle little bit of desiccated cooconut on the top.

Dairy free Coconut frosting:

  • Double the frosting recipe, if you like to frost the top of the cake as well. This recipes yields enough to sandwich the two layers of cake.
  • Bring the vegetable shortening to room temeperature, it took approximately 30 minutes.
  • Place the shortening in a mixing bowl, beat it slowly using electric mixer until its light and little bit puffy. Sift the icing sugar into shortening mixture, add the vanilla essence and water, mix it with a fork until its runny.
  • Beat the icing mixture with electric mixer at medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes until its increased in volume and puffy. Add the desiccated coconut and beat it slowly for a minute until its evenly distributed.
  • Spread the frosting immediately on the cake, believe me its easy this way (check Notes). Also, I only needed 3/4 of frosting to sandwich the two layers of cake.

Notes:

  • Remember when additioning any flavouring to vegetable shortening, less is more. Unlike butter, vegetable shortening does not have any taste, so any flavouring added to it will be fully absorbed.
  • Shortening has the tendency to set faster in the fridge. I left mine in the fridge for 30 minutes, I couldn’t spread it at all. Since I was in a hurry, my only option is to pipe it, hoping it will be ok in a hour.
  • Unlike butter, shortening react to heat slowly, so mine had softened and reached room temperature while I was on my way to the baking group.

Lamb Tagine in Oven

Lamb Tagine in Oven

By Kira

I brought this beautiful looking individual bean pots from Le Creuset. It is very versatile. It can be used for serving and cooking and I like the fact of straight from oven to the table. I can’t wait to put them to use.
Bean_Pots

Bean_Pots1

I like Le Creuset for its sturdy build and beautiful looking cookwares. Whenever I am tempted to buy it, I will remind myself never to accumulate good cookwares when you a traveller, it is extremely difficult to carry them around?. I shall find every reason against it, but finally overrule all of them saying “I like it”. So you see I am easily sold when it comes to Le Creuset.

I made Lamb Tagine in these individual bean pots. The meat was cooked perfectly, so tender and succulent. This recipe is slight variation of my previous Lamb Tagine, instead of simmering it on the stove, I cooked it slowly in the oven.

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 1 hour 30 min

Total time: 1 hour 40 min

Ingredients

  • Sunflower oil 2 tbsp
  • Onion, sliced thinly 1 medium size
  • Garlic, minced 2 clove
  • Ginger, minced 1 tsp
  • Stewing Lamb, diced into 5cm cube 450 g
  • Ground Cumin 1 tsp
  • Ground Coriander 1/2 tsp
  • Cayenne Pepper 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon 1 stick
  • Pureed Tomatoes 150 g
  • Stock 100 ml
  • Sweet Potato, skinned and cut into 2cm cubes 100 g
  • Dried Apricots, chopped in halves 60 g
  • Salt to season
  • Flaked Almonds to garnish optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven at 160C fan.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in frying pan and brown the meat in batches. Place them aside.
  • Add 1 tbsp oil in the same pan and add the onion and cooked until the soft.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Place the browned meat in the pan along with the sautéd onions.
  • Add cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon and mix well so they are coated well with meat and onion.
  • Mix the pureed tomatoes and stock and add it to the pan.
  • Season with salt, divide the between two individual bean pots, put the lid on. Place in the middle shelf of the preheat oven and cooked for an hour.
  • Lamb_Tagine_Oven

  • Carefully remove the bean pots from oven, arrange the sweet potatoes and apricots on the top layer and cook for 15 mins, until the sweet potato is softened.
  • Lamb_Tagine_Oven2

    Lamb_Tagine_Oven3

  • Since the meat was slowly cooked in oven for longer time, it was so tender and succulent. Serve it as it is or with white rice.
  • Lamb_Tagine_Oven4

Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon

By Kira

My holiday season started of with the making of the beef bourguignon. This dish originated in Burgundy and its one of the popular French dish. In simple, it is a slow cooked beef stew cooked in red wine and beef stock.

Pork lardons are used as cooking fat to brown the beef, they are then removed and reserved for final addition. The beef is then slow cooked for about 2 hours in red wine and beef stock until tender. A bouquet of herbs and a garlic clove is added to flavour the stew. For garnish, saute the shallots and button mushrooms, add them to the stew at the end of the cooking along with reserved lardons.


Beef Bourguignon


It tasted so delicious and rich with the beefy sauce. The beef was so tender and it was such a pleasure to have with the mushrooms and shallots. I almost forgot, I served it along with good homemade garlic baguette which is a great combination to soak up all the lovely sauce.


Prep time: 5 minutes


Cook time: 2 hrs 20 min


Total time: 2 hrs 25 min


Ingredients
For Marinating:

  • Stewing Beef, cubed 450 g
  • Sea Salt & Pepper for marinating
  • Sherry Vinegar 1 tbsp
  • Olive oil 1 tbsp
  • Water 1 tbsp
  • Onion, peeled and sliced thick 1 (medium size)
  • Herbs 1/4 tsp dried lemon thyme, 1/4 tsp dried parsely

For Cooking:

  • Pork lardons 2 ounces (approx 56 g)
  • Shallots, peeled 6 small round ones
  • Button Mushroom 4 ounces (approx 120 g)
  • Beef stock 200 ml (I used OXO stock cubes)
  • Garlic 1 clove
  • Plain flour 1/2 tbsp
  • Bayleaf 1
  • Parsley, dried 1/4 tsp
  • Butter a knob (approx 5 g)

Instructions
For Marinating:

  • In a glass mixing bowl, place the meat cubes, season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the sliced onions, sherry vinegar, olive oil, water and herbs to the meat, mix everything together.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film, place in refrigerator for atleast 5 hours. The longer marination helps in tenderising the meat.

For Cooking:

  • Place a casserole pan on medium heat, add the pork lardons and let it cook until it releases oil.
  • Turn the heat to low, add the shallots, turn them frequently until browned.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the lardons and shallots and set them aside.
  • Turn the heat up, place the drained meat in the casserole pan and browned them on both sides. Add the flour and quickly stir to make it mix with the fat.
  • Add any leftover marinate from the bowl to the casserole pan and let it cook for a minute, then add the beef stock.
  • Add the dried parsley, bayleaf and garlic to the pan, cover with lid and simmer for 2 hours.
  • At the end of 2 hours, cook the mushroom in a fry pan with butter for 2 minutes to remove some of their moisture.
  • After 2 hours of simmering, add the lardons, shallots and mushroom to the casserole pan, cover and simmer for further 20 minutes.
  • Remove the garlic and bayleaf before serving.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread Wreath

Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread Wreath

By Kira

I keep talking about soft textured japanese bread and water roux method in many of my bread posts. Well, let me show you how with few illustrations(pictures).

To celebrate the thanksgiving day, I decided to make pumpkin sweet bread, to make it more exciting I used cinnamon sugar filling.

This bread is my ultimate creation using water roux method. Look at the pretty braids, it had a wonderful soft texture. I had it when it is still warm, I absolutely loved it. Might as well say, I have fallen in love with bread baking.

Prep time: 20 mins (proofing time: 1 hr 40 mins)
Cook time: 22 mins
Total time: 2 hrs

Ingredients
Water Roux:

  • Bread flour 1.5 tbsp (15 g)
  • Water 7.5 tbsp (115 ml)

Bread:

  • Bread flour (Strong white) 285 g
  • Plain flour 75 g
  • Caster Sugar, white 65 g
  • Salt 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp
  • Yeast 6 g
  • Egg 1 medium
  • Pumpkin puree 115 ml
  • Milk 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp
  • Unsalted Butter 30 g

Filling:

  • Caster Sugar, white 80 g
  • Ground Cinnamon 3 tsp
  • Unsalted Butter, melted 40 g

Instructions
Water Roux:

  • Using a whisk, mix the flour and water in a saucepan, make sure there are no lumps.Water Roux1
  • Cook the mixture on low heat until it thickens, stir frequently.Water Roux2
  • The thicken is right when the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Keep cooking for 1 more minute. Remove the saucepan from heat, cover with cling film and leave it to cool down to room temperature.Water Roux3
    Water Roux4

Bread:

  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the bread flour, plain flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
  • Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Beat the egg, add it to the flour mixture and mix it well.
  • Add the lukewarm water roux to the flour mixture and mix it well.
  • Add the pumpkin puree and mix it well.
  • Knead the flour using the electric hand mixer with dough hook attachment.
  • Heat the milk until its lukewarm. Gradually add the milk to flour mixture, knead until the flour resembles a sticky dough.
  • Chop the butter and add it to the dough. Knead the dough until the butter is well incorporated. The butter won’t combine with the dough initially but as you knead it will work its way into the dough.
  • Check whether the dough stretches, if so stop kneading.Pumpkin Bread1
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and let the dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.Pumpkin Bread2

Shape into Wreath:

  • Tip the dough on the lightly floured surface, shape into a rectangle of 1cm thickness using a rolling pin.Pumpkin Bread3
  • Get the filling ready, melt the butter in microwave. In a separate bowl, mix the ground cinnamon with sugar. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted butter on the rectangular dough leaving 1 inch thickness for the border. Now, spread the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly. Start rolling it like a swiss roll starting with longer side of the rectangular dough.Pumpkin Bread4
  • Make sure to seal the edges by tucking it in. Keep the tuck edges under to make it look pretty.Pumpkin Bread5
  • Note: You will have to work very quickly, because the sugar will start to melt.
  • To shape it like a wreath, use a sharp knife to the cut the log shape lengthwise, right in the middle, keeping one end attached, which will make it easier to braid. Keep crossing the two legs, each time making sure the cutside is on the top.Pumpkin Bread6
  • Transfer it gently to the lightly greased baking sheet, cover with cling film and let it rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Preaheat the oven, during the last 15 minutes of the second proofing.
  • Check the dough, if there is any sugar oozed out, try to remove them using kitchen towel, atleast near the outer rim, this will prevent the bread from too much browning/burnt bottom especially.
  • Lightly brush the top of the wreath with butter. Bake at 180C fan for 20 ~ 22 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.Pumpkin Bread7Pumpkin Bread8
  • My goodness look at the texture, so soft I can’t wait to eat. Oh, these fingers are not mine. There are little people living under my house, they too can’t resist my sweet bread.Pumpkin Bread9

Soft Mediterranean Loaf

Soft Mediterranean Loaf

By Kira

After my very successful Rosemary & Garlic Focaccia, I have taken quite an interest in making homemade bread. It is so much fun to make your own bread, it is satisfying and it tastes much better than the store brought ones.

I like japanese buns for their softness, I improvised with my basic Japanese sweet bun recipe. Since, I like mediterreanean vegetables, I came up with an idea to make mediterranean loaf with water roux method to achieve the same softness as Japanese buns.

Here are the pictures of my mediterranean loaf made with water roux method.

Mediterranean Bread1

Mediterranean Bread2


To create my loaf, I have used sundried tomatoes, black olives, red peppers, feta cheese, oregano and sprinkled with sea salt. The result was amazing with great flavours.

Prep time: 20 mins (proofing time: 1 hr 40 mins)
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 2 hrs 30 mins

Ingredients
Water Roux:

  • Bread flour 1.5 tbsp (15 g)
  • Water 7.5 tbsp (113 ml)

Loaf:

  • Bread flour (Strong white) 285 g
  • Plain flour 75 g
  • Salt 1 tsp (8 g)
  • Yeast 6 g
  • Egg 1
  • Milk 115 ml
  • Unsalted Butter 30 g
  • Dried Oregano 1/2 tsp (If you like oregano you can 3/4 tsp)
  • Red Pepper, diced 1/2
  • Black Olives, chopped 25 g
  • Sundried Tomatoes, drained from oil, chopped 35 g (approx 3 tbsp)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled 100 g
  • Extra virgin Olive oil 2 tbsp
  • Rock salt 1/4 tsp

Instructions
Water Roux:

  • Using a whisk, mix the flour and water in a saucepan, make sure there are no lumps.
  • Cook the mixture on low heat until it thickens, stir frequently. The thicken is right when the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
  • Keep cooking for 1 more minute. Remove the saucepan from heat, cover with cling film and leave it to cool down to room temperature.

Loaf:

  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the bread flour, plain flour, salt and yeast. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Beat the egg, add it to the flour mixture and mix it well.
  • Add the lukewarm water roux to the flour mixture and mix it well.
  • Knead the flour using the electric hand mixer with dough hook attachment.
  • Heat the milk until its lukewarm. Gradually add the milk to flour mixture, knead until the flour resembles a sticky dough.
  • Chop the butter and add it to the dough. Knead the dough until the butter is well incorporated. The butter won’t combine with the dough initially but as you knead it will work its way into the dough.
  • Check whether the dough stretches, if so stop kneading. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and let the dough rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  • Meanwhile roast the red pepper in frying pan, at low heat to remove some of the moisture. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  • In a small mixing bowl, mix the oregano, red pepper, black olives, sundried tomatoes and feta cheese.
  • After the first rise, tip the dough on the flour surface, knead the vegetable and cheese mixture into the dough.
  • Shape into a loaf and place it in the lightly greased loaf tin, cover with cling film and let it rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Score the loaf crosswise 5 or 6 times. Drizzle the olive oil of the top, sprinkle the rock salt.
  • Bake at 180C fan for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Caramelised Onions, Feta Cheese & Black olive Pizza

What’s for dinner? I had some leftover greek feta cheese and I thought of putting together a dish. Incidentally, I was reading the Italian Home Baking book… Wait a minute, Italian cuisine Pizza buzzed in my mind. Excellent choice, did I tell you, I love homemade (my) pizza. Also it is an opportunity to try pizza base from this book.

I made the pizza base as per the book. I was skeptical, since the recipe called for large amount of yeast for very less flour, it worked out pretty good.

Now for the topping, I decided to go with caramelised onion and feta cheese. The saltiness of the feta cheese and sweetness from the caramelised onion goes well together. Since I had craving for olives, I added just a little black olives.

Here is the slice of my Caramelised Onions, Feta Cheese & Black olive Pizza.Caramelised Onions, Feta Cheese & Black olive Pizza