Archive | October 2012

Pistachio and Almond Biscotti

Pistachio and Almond Biscotti

By Kira

As I was browsing the Italian Home baking book, biscotti’s captured my attention. Biscotti in Italian means double baked. Since they are baked twice, which removes most of the moisture, so they can be stored for long period. They go beautifully paired with hot cup of coffee.

I had never tasted biscotti before so I was up for the challenge. You would have figured by now, I can never follow a recipe to “T”, I always like to add my little twist to it. With this one, I had reduce the amount of suagr and nuts as well. I made one batch with hard texture which is perfect biscotti and another batch with soft texture (You can achieve this by reducing the baking time during the second bake.) just to see how they taste with different textures.

Here is the picture of my Pistachio and Almond Biscotti


Considering this was my first attempt I was happy with the result, but there is still room for improvement. It tasted great with a subtle orange aroma coming through it and the crunchy nuts to bite on. It was so wonderful to look at the bright green colour of shelled pistchios all over the biscotti’s.

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Lemon Thyme Slices with Lemon Custard

Lemon Thyme Slices with Lemon Custard

By Kira

This month my baking group had the theme “Herbs & Spices”. Often, I use spices in my baking, so I was determined to do something with herbs. While, I was in search of baking with herbs, I came across this recipe. I adopted the recipe according to my preference.

I chose to use “Lemon Thyme leaves” which is very flavoursome with hint of lemon. I started picking off the leaves, I realised it wasn’t easy at all. It needs too much concentration and patience. After a while, I sighed, in order to make it interesting, I started taking pictures of each stage. Well, I am glad I did that, now I can write an illustrated recipe.

Lemon Thyme 1

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 27 mins
Total time: 57 mins

Ingredients
For Biscuit Base:

  • Plain flour 195 g
  • Unsalted Butter, room temperature 112 g (cut into cubes)
  • Raw Caster Sugar 120 g
  • Cornstarch 1.5 tbsp
  • Salt 1/8 tsp (a big pinch)
  • Lemon Thyme leaves 2 tbsp

For Lemon Custard:

  • Lemon Zest 1 tsp (I used zest of 1 large lemon)
  • Lemon juice 80 ml ( I used 1 & 1/2 large lemon)
  • Eggs, room temperature 2 medium size
  • Milk 20 ml
  • Granulated Sugar 130 g
  • Plain flour 2 tbsp
  • Lemon thyme leaves to garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Place all the ingredients for the biscuit base in a food processor, pulse until it resembles coarse consistency as shown in the picture.Lemon Thyme2 Lemon Thyme3
  • Preheat the oven 180 C fan. Lightly grease a square/rectangle tin with butter. I used rectangular tin, so I end up with less thicker biscuit base. Transfer the crumbled biscuit base to the tin, level it with palette knife and gently press with your fingers to pack it slightly compact. Bake in the preheat oven for 15 minutes or until the edges lightly brown.Lemon Thyme4
  • Meanwhile, start to make the lemon custard. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until pale and foamy. Add the milk and flour and mix until there is no lumps. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zest and mix everything until well combined.Lemon Thyme5
  • Pour the lemon custard on top of the baked biscuit base, make sure it is spread evenly. Place the tin into the oven and bake for 12 minutes or until the lemon custard is just set.Lemon Thyme6
  • Remove from oven and let it cool completely. Cut into squares and enjoy!!!Lemon Thyme7
    Lemon Thyme Bars

Rosemary & Garlic Focaccia

Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia

By Kira

What an wonderful weekend to start of with. I made the perfect rosemary & garlic focaccia. I am always up for the challenge when it comes to baking bread. Most of the time, I use my electric hand mixer, which produces average result. I am still learning how to perfectly knead the bread dough by hand.

Recently, I borrowed an Italian cookbook from the library and I was too eager to tryout the focaccia. I decided to knead the dough by hand, it turned out to be a good exercise, but I realised I should have powerful muscle. After kneading for 15 minutes, I produced a perfectly smooth dough. The dough raised well during the first and second rise. I topped my focaccia mostly with fresh rosemary and garlic and a smaller portion of it with green olives and baked it to golden brown.

Here is the picture of my Rosemary & garlic focaccia.



The freshly baked bread smell filled my house. After it had cool down a bit, I cut a piece to taste. It had many air pockets, I think my hand kneading is getting better ­čÖé . It tasted delicious with a thin crunchy top. It had nicely soaked up all the olive oil drizzled over it, intensifying the flavour with rosemary and garlic. It was one of my best focaccia so far.

Crystallised Ginger Cookies

Crystallised Ginger Cookies

By Kira

My adventure with soups eased my flu. After I fully recovered, I had strong craving for sugar, so I made Crystallised Ginger Cookies to formally say goodbye to flu.



Wow, my cookie has turned out to be the finale of this whole adventure. It had a fantastic look with evenly coated granulated sugar. They were perfectly cooked with crunchy outside and soft slightly chewy texture inside and had a pleasant aroma from crystallised ginger.

Prep time: 20 minutes
 

Cook time: 10 minutes
 

Total time: 30 minutes
 
Yield: 15 cookies

Ingredients

  • Butter, room temperature 85 g
  • Light Brown sugar 80 g (10 level tablespoon)
  • Egg, room temperature 1/2 medium size (approx. 3 tbsp with foam from a beaten egg)
  • Molasses 28 g (2 level tablespoon)
  • Flour 140 g (14 level tablespoon)
  • Baking Soda 1 tsp
  • Salt 1/4 tsp
  • Ground Cinnamon 1/2 tsp
  • Ground Clove 1/4 tsp
  • Ground Ginger 3/4 tsp
  • Crystallised Ginger, cut into small cubes 50 g
  • Golden Granulated Sugar 2 to 3 tbsp

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and light brown sugar until it is light and fluffy.
  • Add the beaten egg and molasses, mix until everything is well incorporated.
  • Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, clove and ginger into the cream mixture. Add the crystallised ginger. Mix until everything is well combined. Don’t be alarmed, the mixture will be thick but it will workout.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C (fan).
  • Line the baking sheet with parchment paper, this eases the cookie removing process.
  • Place the granulated sugar in a plate.
  • Scoop a tablespoon of mixture and form into a round ball. Dip the ball into the granulated sugar, coat almost 3/4 of it. Place the ball on the baking sheet with sugar side up. Repeat this process for remaining of the mixture. The cookies will extend while baking, so leave a gap of atleast 3 times the size of your cookie ball.
  • Bake in the preheat oven for 10 minutes or until little cracks appear on the top.
  • Remove from oven and let it cool on the wire rack.

Parsnip Soup

Parsnip soup

By Kira

I never tired Parsnip as a main ingredient by itself. I really had know idea what I was missing, it had a distinct aroma with sweet taste.

This soup is very easy to cook and it had became one of my favourite dinner. In simple terms, it is just cooked parsnip with spices to enhance the flavour. I added little bit of cream for extra creaminess.



It was so delicious with roasted nuts to go it. I served it with crusty bread, which made a wonderful dinner.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • Parsnip, peeled and cut into chunks 300 g (approx 3 medium size)
  • Butter 5 g
  • Onion, peeled and chopped 1/2 (medium size)
  • Fresh Garlic, minced 1 cloves
  • Fresh Ginger, minced 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala, hot – 1/4┬átsp
  • Vegatable stock 550 ml
  • Single cream 50 ml
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning Salt & pepper for seasoning
  • Roasted Almonds, chopped – 2┬átbsp (optional)
  • Fresh Dill, for garnishing – 1┬átsp (optional)

Instructions

  • In a casserole pan, add the butter and heat it at medium. Once the butter starts to melt, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and cook for few minutes stirring frequently.
  • Add the garam masala and mix well.
  • Add the parsnip, pinch of salt and pepper. Give everything a good mix.
  • Add the stock, bring it boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the parsnip is tender.
  • Let it cool for 10 minutes. Blend everything until smooth consistency is achieved.
  • Mix the soup with single cream. Adjust the seasoning. Reheat the soup at low heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Serve each bowl of soup, topped with toasted nuts and fresh dill.

Roasted Swede Soup

Roasted Swede Soup

By Kira

This is the perfect root vegetable soup. It is creamy, smooth and with final note of roasted swede, it tasted delicious with refreshing lemon thyme.




I enjoyed every spoonful. I was carried away by the pleasant aroma of lemon thyme. Try it with crusty bread of your choice. I usually buy Waitrose Farmhouse crusty bread, it is my next to best alternate for homemade bread. The recipe followed is my take on this one.

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hr
Total time: 1 hr 10 min

Ingredients

  • Swede, peeled and cut into cubes of an inch 400 g
  • Carrot, peeled and chopped 100 g
  • Celery, chopped (use medium thick stalks for smooth soup) 100 g
  • Garlic, minced 1 large clove
  • Onion, peeled and chopped 1/2 large
  • Sunflower oil 1 tbsp
  • Butter 5 g (a knob)
  • Vegetable stock 1 litre
  • Single cream 100 ml
  • Lemon thyme leaves 1 tbsp
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Roasted Swede:

  • Preheat oven 180C (fan)
  • Arrange the swede cubes in roasting tray.
  • Drizzle the sunflower oil over the swede and sprinkle a pinch of salt.
  • Roast in the preheat oven for about 25 mins or until lightly browned and cooked throughly.

Soup:

  • In a casserole pan, add the butter and heat it at medium. Once the butter starts to melt, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent.
  • Add the garlic and let it cook for few minutes stirring frequently.
  • Add the swede, carrots, celery and pinch of salt and pepper. Give everything a good mix and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the stock, bring it boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Let it cool for 10 minutes. Blend everything until smooth consistency is achieved (do it in batches).
  • Mix the soup with 3/4 of single cream, keep the remaining for garnishing. Add the lemon thyme leaves, adjust the seasoning. Reheat the soup at low heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Serve each bowl of soup, garnished with single cream and thyme.

Butternut squash soup

Butternut squash soup

By Kira

It took me so long to get back to my blog. I was affected by flu and the only solution is to take lot of rest. For the past few years, every year I get affected by flu, so this year I thought I should get the flu shot. But guess what I got flu in the early season itself. I was too weak to cook and was thinking of liquid food to ease the sickness. Soups are the ultimate choice. It is easy to cook and I can make in large quantity and store it in fridge as well.

I am usually reluctant to have Lemsip drink for flu. I can’t stand its smell and it doesn’t taste good. But I overcame the shortcoming by making some wonderful soups.


Autumn season was almost there, variety of winter squashes were in season. I made butternut squash soup, it was wonderful with a mild note of curry flavour and smoothness from the addition of coconut milk. I added toasted sunflower seeds or chopped cashew nuts for the extra dimension of crunchiness to the soup.

Look out for some more soups to come in the following blog post ­čÖé

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • Butternutsquash, peeled and cut into cubes of an inch 800 g (medium size)
  • Butter 5 g
  • Onion, peeled and chopped 1 (large)
  • Fresh Garlic, minced 3 cloves
  • Fresh Ginger, minced 1/2 tbsp
  • Fresh hot chill, deseeded and chopped 1/4 tsp
  • Curry powder, hot 1 tsp
  • Vegatable stock 700 ml
  • Coconut milk 100 ml (I mixed 2 tbsp coconut powder with water to make coconut milk)
  • Salt & pepper for seasoning Salt & pepper for seasoning
  • Sunflower seeds or chopped cashew nuts, toasted 3 tbsp (optional)
  • Corainder leaves, for garnish┬á– 1 tbsp (optional)

Instructions

  • In a casserole pan, add the butter and heat it at medium. Once the butter starts to melt, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for few minutes stirring frequently.
  • Add the curry powder and mix well.
  • Add the butternut squash, pinch of salt and pepper. Give everything a good mix and let it cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the stock, bring it boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the butternut squash is tender.
  • Let it cool for 10 minutes. Blend everything until smooth consistency is achieved (do it in batches).
  • Mix the soup with coconut milk. Adjust the seasoning. Reheat the soup at low heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Serve each bowl of soup topped with toasted nuts and corainder leaves.