Because Life is a blend of flavours…

Orange Almond Self Saucing Pudding

by Sugar et al

The whole of last week, I thought I was craving pie. A good Aussie meat pie with chunks of meat in a rich gravy encased in buttery flaky pastry. I saw it somewhere and then somewhere else and then I craved it. Several times during the week at dinner and even breakfast I told my husband ‘I wish I was having pie, instead’. Yet when I stood in the bakery facing the most fabulous choices of pies, my eyes travelled to the cakes, muffins and tarts on the shelves next to them. ‘Carrot cake’ I told the lady at the counter , much to my husband’s surprise. In my mind, I told myself  ‘Carrot cake with cream cheese icing and toasted walnuts…YUM! Sometimes for me, the line between what I think I want to eat and what I really want to it can get a little blurry. Possibly the little side-effects that come with dealing with food all the time. Possibly I am eating too much with my eyes lately.

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But there are some things that I know will never fail to satisfy my innermost cravings and those that I can eat with my eyes, mouth and heart wide open. Like the curries of my childhood (heady with the smell of ginger, garlic and Garam masala), heavily buttered toast, cupcakes over muffins (any day) loaded with sprinkles, chocolate chips (instead of pepitas or cranberries) on my oatmeal, at least half a cup of parmesan cheese on my pasta and gooey warm puddings that hide sauces underneath. Agreed that I have to shed of some of (okay, a lot of) the winter weight I have gained but it’s Spring, it’s still cold and puddings are very much on.

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This pudding excites me over any other pudding I have ever made because it has almond milk in it. Regular milk will work just as fine but if you have almond milk at home or planning to get some, try this pudding. It is every bit citrus-y as much as it is nutty and livened with a gorgeous sauce beneath. I was already a big fan of the orange-almond combo and could have loved the cake alone. The thick sauce is an added bonus. Comfort food at it’s best!
It is quite an easy pudding to make. The only thing you need to take care of is to not to over-cook the pudding or you will not have enough sauce left. A tad bit undercooked is better than making a cake out of the pudding. The basic pudding recipe was adapted from here. When I made it the first time, I thought it could do with more sauce which is the true essence of a self-saucing pudding. So I made some adjustments to the recipe, experimented with almond milk and it turned out the way I wanted it to be. I baked the pudding in two baking dishes as I did not have a large one. In that case, you may need to reduce the baking time by 10 minutes.

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Orange Almond Self-Saucing Pudding
Serves 6

Melted butter, to grease
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
3/4 cup almond milk
1 egg
50g butter, melted, cooled
1 tablespoon  cornflour
1/2 cup castor sugar, extra
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 tbsp. Cointreau (or any other orange liqueur, optional)
Icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 180 degree C (fan-forced 160 degrees C)  Brush a 1.5L (6-cup) capacity oven-proof dish with melted butter. Place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Sift flour into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar, almond meal and orange rind.

Whisk the almond milk, egg and butter in a jug until combined. Add to the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir until smooth and combined. Pour into the prepared dish. Use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface.

Combine cornflour and extra sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle over the pudding mixture. Place orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to the boil. Remove from heat and add the Cointreau (if using). Gradually pour over the back of a spoon onto the mixture.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a cake-like top forms and a skewer inserted halfway into the centre of the pudding comes out clean.

Set aside for 5 minutes to stand. Dust with icing sugar and serve hot with custard or vanilla ice cream.

 

 

 


Pavlova with Mascarpone, Pomegranate and Lemon Thyme

by Sugar et al

Talk about inspiration! It peeks right through my window. It stares me in the face and then disappears on a whim. Dreamy clouds, cotton candy clouds, dark stormy clouds, invisible clouds, cloud babies (that one is a contribution from the boys) and wispy clouds. Clouds are a constant companion in my new high-rise home. I don’t know about you but I find them enchanting and magical. As a little girl, I was fond of a book called ‘The Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton. Most of you would have loved it as dearly as I did but in case you enjoy a bit of nostalgia, this was a story about a giant tree in the woods, inhabited by fairy-folk. The topmost branches of this tree lead up to the clouds beyond which exists magical lands. The story is about 3 children who come to live near the tree, the lands they explore and their magical adventures. I read this book over and over again, almost slept with it every night and re-read it as an adult deriving the same thrill and happiness that I felt as a child. Call me a child-at-heart. A romantic, maybe? I am fine with that.

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As a person who eats, dreams and loves pastry, clouds remind me of meringue. You know I love meringue. If you share the love, type ‘meringue’ in the search tab on the right sidebar and you will find a host of meringue based treats. Just like the clouds in the sky, meringue is my mood-uplifter, my spring-in-the-step bringer, my pastry love. I can make meringue every day. And store away the egg yolks in different containers to be forgotten and only during a fridge clean to be reminded how many egg-whites I have cooked with in a month. A pavlova was long due on the blog after this one.

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I went to pick up beautiful nectarines that are flooding the markets right now but came back with a pomegranate instead. On an impulse I decided to pair pomegranate, lemon thyme and mascarpone. It turned out to be a great combination of crunchy, marshmallow-y, creamy, tangy goodness. You can do so much with a Pavlova. Load it up as you like, shape it into the shapes of your dream without a cake pan for support and crack open its exterior to discover secrets inside.
If you don’t have mascarpone, you can use double the amount of whipped cream and of course, decorate it with any fruit of your choice. This is a great gluten-free alternative to a celebration cake.

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Pavlova with Mascarpone, Pomegranate and Lemon Thyme
Serves 6-8

11/2 cups castor sugar
11/2 teaspoons corn flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 large egg whites (or 6 regular egg whites)
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
2 tbsp. icing sugar
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
a few sprigs, lemon thyme
Berry Sauce, 2 tbsp. (optional)

Preheat oven to 130 degree C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Draw a 20cm (diameter) round on the paper and place the paper pencil side down on the tray.

Combine sugar, corn flour and cinnamon in a bowl.

Using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Gradually add the sugar mixture, 1 tablespoonful at a time, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is thick, glossy and holds stiff peaks. Spoon the meringue onto the prepared tray within the circle traced earlier. Shape the meringue with the back of the spoon, leaving a hollow in the centre for the filling. Bake for 1 hour, then leave to cool in switched-off oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Combine cream, mascarpone and icing sugar in a bowl. Stir gently to combine (do not over-mix, or mascarpone will curdle). Gently fold in half the pomegranate seeds and torn lemon thyme leaves. Spoon mixture onto the meringue shell. Sprinkle with rest of the pomegranates and lemon thyme leaves. Top with berry sauce if using. Serve.


Chocolate Treacle Tart

by Sugar et al

Would it be so clichéd if I told you how much I love sugar? All forms of sugar. The spoon-able sprinkle-able kind is of course the one I use more often but the other forms intrigue me as well. On the topic of sugar sprinkling, I am crazy for that famous shot where sugar is being sprinkled from a height. It comes through controlling the shutter speed in your camera, something which I am trying to master and have messed up my kitchen table and the floor this weekend, much to the amusement of my baby boys. But we ended up having a lot of fun. The sugar formed a slate for us to write on. We scribbled names, drew faces and laughed while the camera was completely forgotten. It feels amazing to let go when you are with children and bask in the joy of the moment without having to worry about the world around you.

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Back to the forms of sugar, I am equally smitten by the other forms of its existence. Golden syrup, honey, treacle, molasses, glucose syrup and so on. Some of these are not direct by-products but they are related in some way. They are gorgeously sticky, luscious and take your desserts to the next level. The intensity and depth of flavour that these impart cannot be achieved by regular sugar or for that matter even brown sugar. I love to work with them and you may find quite a few recipes in my archives that use them. So what is a treacle tart? Simply put, it is a mixture of breadcrumbs and golden syrup baked within a pastry shell. It is so simple yet so gorgeous in the way it looks and tastes. Something unique. With golden syrup, how can you go wrong! Technically the recipe should use treacle, but you will find most out there using golden syrup. I have experimented with both individually and a combination but I think the flavours are better with the former. Plus I believe it is easier to find golden syrup in certain places than treacle.

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To make things more decadent, I have covered the treacle tart in bittersweet chocolate ganache. It works like magic to complement the rich sweetness of the golden syrup mixture. Once the tart bakes, you make a simple ganache with chocolate and cream and it gets poured onto the tart.
The treacle tart is great on its own. a beauty of simple ingredients. But it’s nice to have some variety and options, especially if it involves good old chocolate. If you love caramel, this is a must try. It is close to a bi-layered chocolate caramel tart but richer in texture. You will taste a crunchy caramel-like base and a soft luscious chocolate topping. So good!

Like I always say, if you find pastry intimidating, get a store-bought crust and try out the filling. You’ll be inspired to make your own.

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Chocolate Treacle Tart

1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
1/3 cup (50g) icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
1 egg
400ml golden syrup
150g fresh white breadcrumb
grated zest of one orange/lemon

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache
200 g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2/3 cup heavy/thickened cream

Place flour and icing sugar in a food processor, whiz to combine, then add butter and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and process until pastry forms a smooth ball. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line a greased, 23cm loose-bottomed tart pan. Keep in the fridge till you make the filling.
Place golden syrup in a pan over low heat to warm through, add the breadcrumbs and orange zest, then stir to combine. Remove from heat, cool slightly (about 5-7 minutes) Pour into tart shell and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until set and pastry is slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool the tart to room temperature.

Make the ganache : Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream over medium heat in a saucepan. When it just comes to a boil, remove immediately and pour over the chocolate. Stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a spoon until fully blended. Pour warm ganache over the tart. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Remove from fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.

 


Cardamom Chicken Skewers with Pumpkin Salsa

by Sugar et al

Little pods of cardamom are powerhouses of flavour and aroma. Bruise a couple of them and add to milk and you will know what I am talking about. They are like vanilla essence or pods in baked goods for me…they make everything better. Sweet or savory, the warm earthy tones can complement both flavour profiles. As a little girl, I enjoyed the addition of cardamom in almost all Indian dishes but I also vividly remember how I much disliked if I happened to bite into one. It tasted strong…too strong for my liking and would always make me wonder why it could not be removed once it’s role in the dish was over. Then I discovered ground cardamom. I found it more convenient and the flavour more intense to work with. Simply by cracking the pods open and passing the seeds through a food processor, you have a magical ingredient to liven up your food.

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The flavours in these chicken skewers are subtle. They are meant to be like that. But the chicken is soft to the point of falling off the skewers. The marination tenderises the meat while leaving behind soft notes of cardamom and a creamy base to flavour it.

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The salsa is great accompaniment to the chicken with relatively bold flavours. This reminds me of a pumpkin-potato stir fry my mother makes with mustard seeds. Mustard seeds have a lovely nutty taste. You could substitute with cumin seeds if not available at hand.
Ground cardamom is mostly available in India supermarkets. Making it at home is easy as well by crushing the seeds in a food processor. Use the skins to flavour tea.

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Cardamom Chicken Skewers with Pumpkin Salsa
Serves 4

Chicken thigh fillets 500 g, chopped into cubes
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, finely grated
1 tbsp. green cardamom powder
2 tbsp. sour cream
2 tbsp. tasty cheese/mozzarella, grated
1 tbsp. corn starch
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1/2 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
Salt for seasoning

Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Add the garlic, ginger and cardamom powder and mix together with the chicken so it is evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and add in the sour cream, cheese, corn starch, chillies, coriander and salt. Mix gently until the chicken is evenly marinated. Refrigerate for an hour for the flavours to develop.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Thread chicken onto skewers.(If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in cold water for 30 minutes). Bake for 25 minutes, turning the skewers once in between.

Pumpkin Salsa (adapted with variation from Taste.com)

500g butternut pumpkin, chopped into small cubes
Olive oil cooking spray
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
coriander leaves, to serve

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Arrange pumpkin, in a single layer, on prepared tray. Spray with oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until pumpkin is tender
Meanwhile, place mustard seeds in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook for 2 minutes or until seeds begin to pop. Combine seeds, onion, vinegar and oil in a bowl. Stand for 20 minutes to let flavours develop. Place pumpkin in a bowl. Add the mustard and onion mixture. Stir to combine.

 

 

 

 


Asian Kale Coconut Soup

by Sugar et al

If I had pick and choose one thing that I enjoy doing the most on the blog, it has to be, pairing flavours. Combining the best of different culinary worlds. I like to call it ‘intuitive cooking’. The best thing about food is that there are no hard and fast rules. When your taste buds are exposed to a multitude of cuisines and flavours from years of cooking or eating, they become like feelers. That respond instinctively to taste, smell and textures. The food blogging community are an amazing lot who do this on a frequent basis. A creative network that take a fresh and fun approach to all things food. Who make dinners exciting and cooking inspiring. Who supply Google and other search engines with the most amazing database of recipes every day. A community that I am proud to be a part of.

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Apparently the cold weather has decided not to leave us. Nor the rain or the strong winds. Together, they are a bad combination. It is Spring with little or no Spring-like changes yet. So soups are still part of our menu and my creative ventures. Actually, I don’t mind that. I could eat soup even on a hot, sunny day. Especially if it has a touch of Asian . Infusions that form the base for sweet, spicy, tangy flavours that are unique to Thai cuisine. I chose Kale because it is healthy and takes on flavours well.

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The soup is mildly spicy, slightly sweet with a curry like kick from the green curry paste. Coconut milk gives it body and a creamy texture. I love kale chips and they hardly require any effort so I served it with kale chips and lightly sautéed mushrooms.

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Asian Kale Coconut Soup

Serves 4

1 bunch curly kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp Thai Green curry paste
1/2 cup vegetable stock/chicken stock
1 can coconut milk (400 ml)
salt, to season
1 tbsp grated palm sugar/ brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup button mushrooms, roughly chopped and lightly sautéed and seasoned, to serve

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.

In a bowl, toss half of the kale with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil and season with salt. Place on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and roast, stirring once halfway through, until the kale is crispy, 26 to 28 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and onions and fry for a minute over medium heat. Add the green curry paste and fry till aromatic (about 1 minute). Stir in the remaining kale and sauté for a minute. Add the vegetable stock and coconut milk. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the leaves soften. Remove from heat.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a processor until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and add salt, palm sugar/brown sugar and lemon juice and reheat over low heat. Ladle the warm soup into individual bowls. Top with crispy kale chips and sautéed mushrooms.


Almond Milk and Lemon Curd Pancakes

by Sugar et al

In my new kitchen, I have a large window. Since my house is at an elevation, the view outside is breathtakingly beautiful. Miles and miles of unobstructed scenery and the sky like a painted false ceiling. It appears so near that it gives you the illusion that you could touch it if you reached out. The calm and quiet is broken into occasionally by a passing aircraft that immediately draws the attention of my soon-to-be 5 year olds. The number of birds around this area is also something I have never experienced before. Excited parrots nesting in the snug hollows of the trees below, lure me into waking up from my precious slumber every morning. And I live in the middle of a bustling city.  Lately, I find myself day dreaming by the window. Quite often. So much so that I burnt a few of these pancakes.

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My obsession with almond milk continues to grow. It is one of those things that I want to add to recipes simple and complex. It has not failed me till now. Even in baked goodies. I have started making my own and as an convenient excuse to finish it, I dream up more recipes. These are basic pancakes where milk is substituted with almond milk and some ground almonds mixed in the batter to add a tiny bit of crunch. Lemon curd is my favourite thing to spread on pancakes. Beside that, I have served it with passion fruit puree, berries and finely chopped pistachios.

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Almond milk has many health benefits besides being low calorie. But that is not the reason why I use it so often. I can have it for taste alone. For the love of almonds, that are an integral part of my textured recipes. The recipe below is for the huge stack of pancakes you see in the pictures. Feel free to halve the recipe as per your requirement.

Do you like almond milk? Have you tried cooking or baking with it?

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Almond Milk and Lemon Curd Pancakes
Serves 5-6

1 and 3/4 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup ground almonds (almond meal)
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 and 1/2 cups almond milk
2 eggs
olive oil for cooking
1/2 cup lemon curd (recipe here) to serve
Fruits and berries to serve

Combine flour, ground almonds, sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. In a jug. whisk the almond milk and egg together.. Stir into flour mixture.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Spray with oil. Pour 2 tbsp of batter into pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles form on surface. Turn. Cook a further 1 to 2 minutes or until cooked through. Repeat with remaining mixture. Serve with lemon curd and berries

 

 

 

 


Caramelised Onion and Feta Bread and Butter Pudding

by Sugar et al

At this time, I am surrounded by cartons, boxes, suitcases, bubble wrap, tapes, dismantled furniture, two sleeping children, two walls, a French window,  and a glorious sunset. I moved houses yesterday. For the past two weeks I have been wrapping, labelling and boxing items like a pro. The kind of calm and organised behaviour that comes from experience only. This was the second time I moved houses in a year. Over the last couple of years I have lived in 5 different houses, cooked in 5 different kitchen and blogged from 4 of them. We did not plan it like that. Not with two young children. But it happened for a different reason each time. There are some good things that come with change though, more so at a spiritual level. You learn to give up and give away. You learn to adapt and detach and find beauty in the simplest of things.

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Amongst the first few things I noticed in my new neighbourhood were the cherry blossom trees. Pretty pink cherry blossom flowers in bloom. Spring is round the corner. Gosh! Officially just a day away..my favourite time of the year. It is the time for fresh starts…positive changes..renewed hope, energy and revitalisation. I have a new markets to explore, a new oven to figure…fresh angles to work with my camera. Renewed inspiration. Speaking of inspiration, Donna Hay is a constant source. I can’t ever think of a time when I look at her food photos and don’t feel inspired. This unique tasting bread and butter pudding is simple to put together but the flavours are gorgeous. Sweet caramelised onions, salty feta, earthy rosemary and the gooey warmth of bread pudding on a cold day. The original recipe uses goat’s cheese and is slightly different. I changed it to suit my taste buds and convenience.

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I used store bought caramelised onion relish. So then it is a matter of just layering, pouring, baking and finally digging in with a large spoon into the very core of deliciousness. To get a nicely browned crust I kept the pudding under the broiler of my oven for a few minutes.

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Caramelised Onion and Feta Bread and Butter Pudding
Serves 4

I loaf sourdough (approx. 600 g) , sliced
1 jar caramelised onion relish
150 g firm feta cheese, crumbled
a few rosemary leaves
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups single/pouring cream
salt and cracked pepper for seasoning
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Arrange the bread slices horizontally in a loaf fan or baking dish. Spoon the caramelised onion relish, crumbled feta and some of the rosemary leaves in between the bread slices.
Whisk to together the eggs, cream, parmesan, salt and pepper and slowly pour over the bread. Let stand for 15 minutes for the bread to soak up the mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until set with a golden brown crust. Broil for two minutes for an extra brown crust. Garnish with remaining rosemary leaves.

 

 

 

 


Cauliflower and Cranberry Flatbread with Dukkah

by Sugar et al

This post is an entry into the Nuffnang ‘Fresh Recipe’ Network Competition, thanks to BRITA. Check out betterwithbrita.com for inspiration and exclusive recipes by Gary Mehigan’.

Where I grew up, a few decades ago, water was scarce. It was dear. Preserved and valued. Rains were celebrated and rivers worshipped. There were days when one had to go without tap water or make the most of the little that flowed out of the taps. On top of that, tap water was hard and not suited for drinking. Those who could afford a water purifier would get one. The rest would go through the tedious process of boiling gallons of water and storing them in bottles and pitchers for consumption later on.

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Basically, at an early age I learnt the importance of having clean, filtered water at home. This experience led me to be grateful for the things that I have today. Running taps…clean, convenient inexpensive filtered water and a great base for cooking delicious food. No, I have never taken water for granted.

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Water is vital in cooking. Not just the wonderful soups, curries, smoothies that comes out from our kitchen but also the innumerable ways water is involved in our daily cooking methods. Washing, simmering, soaking and so on. When I think of water as a primary and indispensable ingredient in a recipe, I think of the two-ingredient wonder that my Mother (or for that matter a lot of Indian parents) cooked and fed us often. Roti or flatbreads. Made with wholemeal flour and water and perhaps a solid arm workout. I picture my mother in the wee hours of the morning kneading her way through the elastic dough, adding filtered water, a little at a time from a jug that she filled up as soon as she entered the kitchen. That was first thing she would always do. The dough would then be divided into discs, rolled out, cooked on an open fire and served with curry.

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The recipe I am sharing today is one that can be baked and eaten on it’s own. The dough is a like a pizza or Naan bread dough that is topped with crispy cauliflower florets, cranberries, onions, mint and a generous amount of Dukkah to perk up the flavours. Cranberries add a lovely bite and sweetness to the bread and mint gives it a touch of freshness. Dukkah is an Egyptian fragrant, spice and nut blend. It is available in some supermarkets and most farmer’s markets in Australia. It is also very easy to make your own and can be used in a variety of recipes. If you do not have access to Dukkah, you could use cumin or fennel seeds as a substitute. But in that case, add them to the dough instead of a topping. A sprinkling of feta is also great on the flatbreads.

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Cauliflower and Cranberry Flatbread with Dukkah
Makes two10 inch by 5inch oval flatbreads

For the dough (makes 2 flatbreads)
1 1/4 cups filtered water
3 cups Plain Flour
2 tsp/7g/1 sachet dried yeast
1/2 tsp castor sugar
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tbsp olive oil
Olive oil, for brushing
Semolina or Polenta, to dust

For the topping
1/2 cup heavy/thickened cream
A quarter of a cauliflower head, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
10-12 small pickling onions, quartered
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tbsp. Dukkah
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
mint leaves, thinly sliced
salt and pepper, for seasoning

Make the dough: Heat the water till it is lukewarm to touch. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the warm water and olive oil. Mix together and use your hands to bring it to a soft dough. Knead it on a floured surface to make it smooth and pliable. Return it to the mixing bowl that has been brushed with oil. Add the dough and turn to coat.
Cover with a damp tea towel. Set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size. Punch down dough with your fist. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it gently for a minute. Halve the dough and roll it out to the desired portion and thickness.

Make the flatbread: Preheat oven to 220 degrees C. Place the cream, garlic, cauliflower, onions, cranberries, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir to combine. Spread the mixture on the rolled out dough evenly and sprinkle with dukkah. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top and puffed up. Remove from the oven. Garnish with fresh mint and slice into wedges. Serve warm.

 

 


Flourless Snickers Torte

by Sugar et al

Motherhood has it’s perks. I am not talking about the unconditional love and cuddles, cute little surprises and all that stuff. Those are too precious to even put in words. I am talking about the fun stuff. Like being able to sing nursery rhymes in the shower without being judged. Or having someone to get you the TV remote in an instant. Like eating nachos for dinner. Like having a pantry filled with candies and chocolates. Well, the kid in me is always in awe of motherhood.

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I have been very excited to experiment with this recipe. For months I have imagined how candies would work in a torte. Why candies? Because there is a sense of familiarity that comes with them. A bit of childhood and nostalgia wrapped up in those bars. Basically, it is fun to make and exciting to share. If you have never made a torte before, it is nothing but a flourless cake. In this case, it is without added butter or fat too. So what gives it body and keeps it moist? It is meringue, possibly the most beautiful and scientific thing in this world. I have made this torte several times, each time with a different nut and a different variety of chocolate.  I chose Snickers bars for two reasons. First, Snickers bars consists of nougat, peanuts, caramel and milk chocolate. So they are without flour. And they would be more suited to a flourless cake than any other chocolate bar.

When I was smashing Ferrero Rocher chocolates for my Mousse Cake a few months ago, my boys found it amusing and handed over two Snickers bars to me. ‘Here, add these to the cake too’ they said. That is the second reason I wanted to make a cake with Snickers in it.

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This torte is like biting into a giant snickers chocolate bar. Every mouthful will speak for itself. It is nutty, chocolate-y, oozing caramel, sticky, moist and outright delicious. It is also easy to make. Do not feel intimidated by the meringue. All you need to ensure is that you beat it to stiff peaks (peaks that hold shape when the beaters are lifted). Here’s a video from the Kitchn in case you are making meringue for the first time. Baking for me, is all about having fun in the kitchen and learning from my mistakes.
The great thing about this torte is that you can eat it even if you are avoiding gluten. This can be also made with plain dark chocolate. You can use this recipe.

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Flourless Snickers Torte
Serves 8

100 g (about 1 cup) pecans, or any nut of your choice
125 g (about 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp ) sugar
250 g snickers bars, coarsely chopped
a pinch of salt
7 egg whites (from large eggs), about 1 cup
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 180 degree C. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 8-inch spring form pan.

Pulse the pecans 1 tbsp of the sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Scrape the nuts into another bowl. Use a paper towel to wipe excess oil from the sides of the processor bowl, add the snickers bars with 1 Tbsp. sugar, and pulse until it forms crumbs ranging in size from coarse meal to 1/4-inch bits. Add the chocolate to the nuts and salt, and stir to combine. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar in a large clean, dry bowl at medium speed until the egg whites are creamy white and soft peaks are formed when the beaters are lifted. Gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating at medium-high speed until the egg whites are glossy and stiff but not dry.

Pour half of the chocolate mixture over the egg whites and fold in with a large rubber spatula until nearly incorporated. Repeat with the  remaining chocolate mixture, folding just until evenly incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the Torte is puffed and golden brown on top and springs back when gently pressed with your fingers. A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out moist and possibly stained with melted chocolate, but not coated with raw batter. Set the pan on a rack to cool. Slide a thin knife or a small metal spatula around the sides of the Torte to release it from the pan. Remove the pan sides and transfer the cake to a serving platter.

 

 


Dal Makhani (Creamy Lentil) Soup

by Sugar et al

I learnt the fundamentals of Indian cooking from my mother. But it was from my father that I learnt to relish a plate of food. Though a small eater, even today he is so particular about the way food is seasoned and served. He has remained staunchly true to his heritage when it comes to choosing what he wants to eat. On weekdays our meals were simple home cooked mostly vegetarian curries, dal (lentils) and flatbreads. On weekends the lunches were late and elaborate and nothing short of an 10 course meal. Vegetables stir-fries, lentils, meat and seafood curries, chutneys and sweets. Dal was a constant, like it is in most Indian households. It was there every single day. Yet nobody complained as there were varieties of lentils to choose from. However, they had to be seasoned perfectly and compulsory garnished with fresh sprigs of coriander. If it wasn’t Dad would make sure he did it himself. After all these years it wasn’t surprising for me to see my Dad quietly delighting in a bowl of Dal and rice at our home in Sydney, while the rest of us lapped up garlic seafood risotto.

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Dal Makhani is one of those lentil dishes that were made on special occasions at home. It’s silky creamy taste, melt-in-your mouth texture and the aromatic presence of garam masala makes it a delicacy but it is rich, not something you could eat everyday. Traditionally this is made with whole black lentils and kidney beans that are soaked overnight and cooked down the next day with spices and cream. My version is simpler with fewer ingredients and slightly thinned down to fit into a soup profile. The taste would differ a bit from the original as there are fewer spices in the recipe but nevertheless it tastes delicious. This is particularly keeping in mind that a non -Indian kitchen may not be having all the authentic spices in the pantry. I make this soup version at home for my little ones who are yet to get accustomed to a substantial amount of spice. And soup goes down better with children than calling it lentils. Overall, this is a dinner that is ready under 30 minutes and is loved at home.

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I use canned lentils which are pre-cooked and makes the process a whole lot simpler and quicker. If you are making this and want to serve it like the Dal Makhani, follow the exact recipe but skip the last step of blending the lentils. I like to serve this with homemade naan bread but any kind of crusty bread will do. Garam Masala is available in most supermarkets and Indian stores. If you like heat, add a few finely chopped chillies before serving.

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Dal Makhani (Creamy Lentil) Soup
Serves 4

1tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 pods of cardamom
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup, diced canned tomatoes
1 can (420g) brown lentils (do not drain)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup pouring cream
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water (depending on desired thickness of soup)
1/2 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
handful coriander, to serve

In a frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, add the bay leaf, cardamom and cinnamon and fry for a few seconds till aromatic. Add the onion and cook till transluscent. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes and lentils and simmer until cooked, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes). Add the garam masala, cream, vegetable stock (if using), seasoning, sugar and stir to mix. Remove from heat. Remove the bay leaf, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and blend with a stick blender. Ladle into bowls, garnish with coriander.

 

 

 

 

 


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