Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A New Year, A New Calendar



The talented ladies from Coco & Mingo have a FREE printable calendar to start your New Year off with some practical glam. Wouldn't it look great pinned to a cork board or hung from a wooden clip board? For the free download head to their website by clicking here and follow the instructions.


Happy New Year friends, I hope 2015 will be a happy and blessed year for us all! 


Saturday, 27 December 2014

Brownie Cookies

A brownie in a cookie form, that takes much less time in the oven therefore less time waiting for those delicious first bites. If your a lover of brownies, please do try these chocolatey morsels.

Here is a recipe that I use in place of buying the delicious (but unjustifiably expensive) cookies from the famous Home Bakery in Dubai. Although I still may treat myself once in a blue moon to the Home Bakery variety, this recipe from Donna Hay satisfies the craving for chewy, decadent chocolate when the time calls. I don't sandwich the cookies as the original recipe suggest, the cookies are perfectly good on their own hence no need for extra fuss in the kitchen. She does have 2 different filling recipes, Salted Caramel and Peanut Butter. Maybe I'll be adventurous one day and try them out!

If its your first time making this recipe, initially the batter will seem very running, however after letting it stand it will thicken up. A little tip for the first time I made these, read the ENTIRE recipe and instructions first before anything else! My first attempt began with some very odd looking melted chocolate and too much flour before the realisation of the batter needing to stand. Luckily I had my expert baker Mother on hand for some reassuring solutions.

On both occasions of making these cookies, the family gobbled them up before I had time to photograph them. Next time, I will make sure to save a few for some pretty snaps.

Sally from Simmer & Boyle also has adapted the recipe to suit her individual taste, as well as taken some gorgeous photos of the finished product! Check it out!!
image source: donna hay

Brownie Cookies (from Donna Hay) 

350g good quality dark chocolate
40g butter
2 eggs, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
35g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder

makes 20 small individual cookies or 12 large

  • preheat your oven to 180ºC or 160ºc fan assisted.
  • place 200g of the dark chocolate into a small pan with the butter, stir over a low heat until smooth, set aside.
  • using a stand mixer, whisk the eggs, vanilla and sugar together for about 15 minutes. The mizture should become rather thick, pale and creamy. If you do not have  stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer, or old fashioned elbow grease but be prepared for a sore arm. 
  • gently fold the sifted flour/baking powder, melted chocolate/butter and all the remaining chocolate through the egg mixture, leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  • while your cookie mix is resting, line 2 trays with baking paper.
  • Use a dessert spoon or small ice cream scoop I used a small ice cream scoop to scoop and drop small mounds of the mix onto your prepared trays. Allow room for the cookies to spread. 
  • bake for 10 minutes, but check after 8, the cookies should be puffed and cracked, dry on top, but still very soft. Over-baking the cookies will result in a brandy snap texture with a bendy inside. Similarly an oven that is too hot will do the same. Use your bakers judgment and if your still unsure do a test batch with 2 cookies.
  • Once baked, leave on the trays until completely cool. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Tasmania Trip

Beautiful Hobart...
We went flower shopping
Drank lots of iced tea and read vintage books
And no day would be complete without morning, midday and afternoon tea...
Mum baked and baked and baked, raspberry and nutella muffins (on this day).
We picnicked on the most sunny day we could get.
Found some treasures at the market.
And made daisy chains to our hearts content!

The reason for the trip was many, but most importantly it was my last trip with no responsibilities. For the next time I visit my loved ones, it will be with a little baby!

I guess it was also the last time that I would have my family all to myself, as I'm sure on my next visit the little babe will be winning over hearts and centre of attention <3 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Slice

If you follow me on Instagram, you would of seen my recent post '20 Facts'. I thought it would be easy to choose 20 things to tell the instagram world, but once I sat down and got to the nitty gritty of actually writing it wasn't the cup of tea I was expecting. I wanted to be completely me, truthful but not too personal. Perhaps it came across as a little naive now I think about it. The easy part was listing my favourite things; pyjamas, tea, old movies, but when I began to write about my blog, I came to a realisation.

12. I love my blog but I don't work on it enough.

I do love my blog, I love writing on my blog, planning recipes, styling the finished product and taking a few snaps. I want to it be a success and I want people to use it as a source of inspiration or an escape from real life but I know I don't spend enough time on it. So from today, I turn a new leaf and I promise myself that I will post more, improving with each post ان شاء الله 

So as part of my pledge, I begin with a favourite recipe of mine. It also happens to be my 100th post! What perfect timing! This has been and I'm sure will remain my favourite no-bake slice. I know its a big call, but it really is that good. What makes it even better is that its easy to make and uses staple ingredients which majority of the time, I have in the pantry. Most importantly it combines chocolate and peanut butter, need I say more?
Ingredients:

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c light corn syrup
  • 1/2 C crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 c caster sugar
  • 4 cups corn flakes (or frosties, omit the sugar)
  • 350g milk chocolate
  1. In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter, syrup, peanut butter and sugar together. Stir continuously until the sugar dissolves. Bring it to a boil and allow to simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes. 
  2. Stir in the corn flakes, combining ingredients so all flakes are coated. You can be quite vigorous here, but don't turn it into a crumble.
  3. Press evenly into the prepared tin. 
  4. Use the back of a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to smooth the top. This may require some elbow grease. Chill in the refrigerator until cool but not completely firm. 
  5. Over a pot of boiling water, melt the chocolate. Make sure the water does not reach the bowl. If you know how to temper chocolate, do so. If not just melt and stir to ensure no lumps. 
  6. Pour the melted chocolate over the chilled slice and place back into the refrigerator to chill. After about 30 minutes, the slice should be cool enough to cut. You don't want to leave it too long or it will be too hard to cut evenly. 
  7. Cut into large squares (as in the photos) or smaller rectangles. Chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Chocolate Teaser

A little hint of the next post on Melanie Eman. It involves chocolate as well as a ground nut, popular on toast for breakfast...

Friday, 29 August 2014

Mustard Cream Sauce - Dinner 4 2


The meal literally took me 15 minutes to whip up, with no fuss at all. I used Shabu Shabu steak which is a really tender, very thin slice of aged beef for the schnitzel but you could really used any type of 'minute steak' to save time. Trust me, there is no fun in hammering meat when your stomach is rumbling.

For the sauce I used whatever I had in the fridge, half a carton of cream, honey, a little dijon mustard, milk, parmesan and a splash of chicken stock. I steamed some green beans and garnished with honeyed goats cheese (my new addiction) to cut through the sweetness. It was delicious, if I do say so myself!

I saved a few slices of beef for lunch the next day when I also took the photos, hence the cherry tomatoes in place of the beans. Just for your information, the cherry tomatoes worked so deliciously well with the goats cheese, it has inspired my next salad recipe!
Beef Schnitzel - Ingredients
  • 6 slices of Shabu Shabu meat (or any minute steak)
  • 2 C seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten 
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • canola oil
Mustard Cream Sauce - Ingredients
  • 2/3 C single cream
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • dash of good quality chicken stock
  • pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
To serve 
  • 1/2 C honeyed goats cheese
  • green beans or your choice of greens.
  1. Prepare your schnitzel by coating it first in bread crumbs, followed by the egg (let excess drip off), then bread crumbs again to finish. Do this with the rest of meat. Set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to the boil and steam your greens.
  3. In another saucepan, make the sauce by heating all ingredients over low heat, stirring to ensure the honey does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Allow it to simmer whilst your meat is cooking. 
  4. In a frypan, heat the butter and oil together. Once sizzling you can begin to cook your meat. Allow enough time to just crisp the coating as the steak will cook almost immediately.
  5. Plate your meat and beans, pour over the sauce and top the beans with goats cheese. 
Note: the above recipe will serve 2 very hungry people or 3 not so hungry. Remember you can use the leftovers in a sandwich the next day!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

White Chocolate + Strawberry Cheesecake Pots

It's been quite busy in my home the past few weeks, first was Eid followed by family holidaying in Dubai, an upcoming Indian wedding as well as nightly events and weekly trips to Mena Bazaar. Those of you have been to Mena Bazaar in the middle of summer must know how tiring it has made me! Sadly, my blog suffered for the most part with little to no posts. So today is an update of an old recipe from 2013 that I had almost forgotten about.

I was asked by a friend to make 40 of these little dessert pots for a vintage themed High Tea event. Judging by numbers, or the lack thereof, these were a hit! I used the same recipe as in my White Chocolate + Strawberry Pie, the only exception being that I doubled the recipe on this occasion. I ended up with extra filling, so I estimate that the doubled recipe could make up to 50 pots depending on the size.

Find the recipe here.


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Mexican Corn

Although there are only two dishes I like at the American chain, Rosa Mexicano, their Mexican Corn side is definitely my favourite. The corn is sweet and crispy, the tang of the citrus mixed with the a little sprinkle of ground red chili, the smoothness of the butter and sour cream topped with delicious Cotija cheese.

Although my version is minus the cotija, it's still as delicious. I would love to find cotija cheese in Dubai and if anyone knows where its available please let me know! I didn't use any cheese with this version, however if you cannot get cotija and you'd like to have it with cheese, you can try parmesan in its place. 

I'm not sure how authentically Mexican this corn dish is, or if its even close to famous Mexican street food. Either way, it still earns top marks by my tastebuds. so, I hope you'll all enjoy it as much as me! Oh and I should mention that this is probably one of the easiest dishes on my blog, little to no culinary skills required.

Adapted from: Rosa Mexicano
Ingredients:
  • 2 C fresh corn, husked and kernals removed or 1 tin of sweet corn
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 C sour cream
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 tsp ground red chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cojita cheese (if available)
  • salt to taste
  1. Boil sweet corn in a small saucepan for 2 mins. Drain and place back into pan.
  2. Melt the butter into the corn, stirring to coat.
  3. Add the sour cream and lemon juice, stir to combine. The sour cream should resemble thickened milk.
  4. Add the salt (to taste). I used just over 1/8 tsp.
  5. Transfer the corn mixture into a serving bowl and then top with a dusting of chili powder and cheese.
  6. Eat ♥

Monday, 21 July 2014

Snickerdoodles

Don't let the name of these cookies fool you, they are indeed nothing to do with the famous chocolate bar. What seems to be a plain butter cookie, is anything but. The subtle caramelised sugar and cinnamon coating along with the soft buttery inside makes this one of my favourite accompaniments to a nice cup of tea. 

For some reason unknown, I was apprehensive whenever I came across a Snickerdoodle recipe. Maybe I was instinctively wary of a cookie that isn't what it claims to be. Or perhaps it is the famous chocolate bar that lent its name from the cookie? Regardless of the origins of Snickerdoodles, my childish concerns were put to rest when my Mum told me about these delicious pieces of buttery goodness and I have finally given them a go, and how pleased I am that I did!

Snickerdoodles
Source: Say it with Cake

Ingredients:
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 225g butter, room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Coating
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan-forced) and line two baking sheets with baking paper. In a medium bowl whisk the flour,baking powder and salt together to combine, then set aside. 
  2. Make the coating in a small bowl but mixing the cinnamon and sugar, set aside. 
  3. Using a free standing mixer, place the butter and sugar the bowl and beat together until light and fluffy (approx 5mins). If you do not have a stand mixer, use an electric whisk to beat the butter and sugar. 
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla, one at a time mixing thoroughly between each addition. Add the flour mixture in three addition, beating until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix your dough.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Take one half of the dough and divide it into 12 equal size balls. Each portion should weigh around 40g - about a tbsp of dough. Roll the cookie balls in the cinnamon sugar and then place on the prepared baking sheet (5cm apart). You should have 6 cookies per baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle (mine took 10mins). Allow to cool on baking sheets slightly before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  7. Make a pot of tea to have with your Snickerdoodles, at their best while still warm on vintage floral plates upon a lace tablecloth. 

Coasters: Made by Me, pattern soon to feature on the blog.
Teacups: Vintage, New Zealand
Spoon: Vintage, England
Linen Napkin: Crate & Barrel
Cake Stand: England, find similar here.
Floral tea plate: Zara Home

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Salted Caramel Truffles

If you haven't jumped on the Salted Caramel bandwagon yet, I have the perfect opportunity for you. Don't feel intimidated by the buzz around this flavour profile, all it is, is a whole lot'a sugar, a little cream and most importantly, salt. These beauties are easier than the name suggests.

I have tried both with a combination of milk and dark chocolate, as well as with pure 70% cocoa. More than likely I will continue with a combination of milk and dark, unless I'm craving a deep, dark indulgence in which case the 70% takes the cake. You can coat them in cocoa, icing sugar or melted chocolate, whatever takes your fancy. Feel free to experiment with new coatings and toppings.
Wouldn't these make the sweetest party favours, boxed in recycled paper and wrapped in twine. Homemade is always so much more special than bought.

Here, is the treasured recipe:

Ingredients
  • 150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) I use Lindt
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 20g light brown sugar
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt
  • cocoa powder for coating
  1. Put the chocolate (chopped) in a medium heatproof bowl and set aside. 
  2. Place the caster sugar in a medium pan over medium heat and leave until the sugar begins to dissolve and caramelise around the edges. Using a silicone spatula, drag the unsolved sugar towards the muddle to help is dissolve evenly.Once the sugar is completely dissolved and has turned a golden brown colour, pour in half the cream, all of the vanilla and light brown sugar. Be careful as it will bubble up wildly, go slowly! Remove from heat.
  3. Once the bubbling has subsided, add the remaining cream. Stir to combine. If the caramel is lumpy, return to low heat and allow sugar to dissolve. To avoid a lumpy caramel, make sure the brown sugar is lump free before adding it to the mix. 
  4. Once you have a lump-free caramel, add the butter and sea salt stirring gently to combine. 
  5. Pour the hot caramel over the chocolate, leave it for a few minutes and  then gently stir to combine. Chill until firm enough to shape into balls. 
  6. To make the truffles, have a small bowl of cocoa prepared for coating and a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Take large teaspoons of the chocolate mixture and roll into balls. Roll the formed ball immediately in the cocoa powder and place on the baking tray. Repeat until you have finished the mixture. Sprinkle over a little extra salt or a little icing sugar to complete. Chill in the fridge until needed. 
A little word of warning: These are extremely addictive, handle with care.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Cauliflower Cheese


Cauliflower Cheese to Roast Chicken is as Icing is to Cake, a little piece on happiness on one's plate. A generous dash of gravy, goes without saying. 

This dish reminds me so much of home, the creamy sauce and cheese is so comforting it literally warms your heart. If is wasn't 40+ degrees outside I would put on some fuzzy socks, a cosy knit and immersed myself in a fluffy blanket with a bowl of this cheesy goodness.

I made this in a flurry last night as iftar time was quickly approaching and a hungry Mel is not one to fluff around with taking photos. I actually sent a quick message to my Mum asking her for the recipe for the perfect accompaniment to my roast chicken. My usual roast potatoes needed a change up so this was the fix! Check my post about cooking the perfect roast chicken, here. I have all the tips and tricks for a succulent and tasty chook.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium size cauliflower
  • 25g  butter
  • 25g  flour
  • 600ml milk 
  • 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
  • breadcrumbs
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and blanch in boiling water until just tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  3. Sift in the flour and stir until it has cooked off (1-2mins)
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and gradually stir in the milk to get a smooth sauce.
  5. Return to heat, stirring continuously bringing it to the boil. 
  6. Add the cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. 
  7. Simmer gently for 8-10 mins. 
  8. Add the cauliflower, stir to combine.
  9. Transfer the cauliflower cheese into a oven-safe dish, top with breadcrumbs and parmesan and bake in 160C oven for 20 mins. 
Image via Ella Goodwin

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Berry Tartlets

So some of you may know about my addition to Rachel Khoo's, Little Paris Kitchen. Sadly the series finished after just one season as Rachel moved out of her tiny Parisian abode and back to her original home, London. Rachel started a new series, called Kitchen Notebook: London which was similar in content of her first series but lacked the quirky realness of the Paris series. I suspect this had a lot of do with the location and the missing ingredient of effortless Parisian charm. Beneath the setting, Rachel's talent of cooking is still there as well as her lovely personality.

This recipe, which I really love, comes from her Kitchen Notebook: London series. These tarts are in whole very simple to make but be warned that if you are making them for a crowd the fiddly cooking time does become a little tedious. I made 25 of these little pastries, but you can make as many or as little as you wish. I tripled the recipe below and kept making them until I ran out of pastry. 


Ingredients
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar
  • 175g ready made (all butter) puff pastry
For the filling
  • 90g butter, softened
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 90g cream cheese
  • 1 large handful fresh berries (I used blueberries and raspberries)
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. Dust the work surface with half the sugar and roll out the pastry to a landscape rectangle roughly 20cm x 15cm. Dust with the remaining sugar and roll over the rolling pin to press the sugar in. Tightly roll it along the longer side.
  3. Cut the roll into 6 same-sized pieces. Take one piece and place it spiral side up into a muffin tin. Use your thumb to push the dough outwards evenly to coat the inside, until it reaches the top of the muffin hole. Repeat with the rest of the spirals.
  4. Prick the base of each one with a fork, then line with baking paper and add ceramic baking beans to each.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes with the beans, then remove the beans and return to the oven for the centres to cook for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the muffin tins immediately (otherwise they caramelise and stick) and leave to cool.
  7. For the filling: Beat together the butter and the icing sugar, then whip lightly. Beat in the cream cheese until well blended.
  8. Scoop the filling into a piping bag, cut off the tip and pipe the frosting onto the tartlet base and decorate with berries. Dust with icing sugar. 
Note: If you are making a lot of these, I recommend you do so in 6 piece batches. For one of my batches I used a 12 hold muffin tin and I couldn't remove them quickly enough before they began to caramelise and stick. 




Monday, 30 June 2014

Chocolate Tiramisu - speedy & easy


This post is a struggle to write. Not because it's a difficult recipe but because I am fasting and craving this Tiramisu. But I owe it to everyone out there who has never attempted it or who would like to but isn't a fan of coffee desserts, so here it is. I made this for a dinner party and it easily fed 10 people. You can cut the recipe in half for a smaller portion. My dessert bowl was also rather large, so beware to use something smaller if you do reduce the recipe.

If you do like coffee in desserts, you can simply substitute the hot chocolate for coffee below.

Ingredients

  • 2 x 500g tub Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 397g tins condensed milk
  • 3 x packets sponge fingers (dry)
  • 5-6 tbsp Cadbury hot chocolate powder (or 3 2 tbsp coffee)
  • 4 tbsp orange juice (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • cocoa (for dusting)
  1. In an electric mixer, fold the Mascarpone cheese with the condensed milk until combined. Be careful not to add too much condensed milk, as it will become too runny. We don't want the sponge fingers to float! (This has happened to me before...not a pretty sight)
  2. Make the Chocolate/Orange mixture by adding the boiling water to the chocolate mix in a small bowl. Once it has dissolved, add the orange juice (to taste). 
  3. Open your packet of sponge fingers and dip each side into the Hot Chocolate. They will soak up liquid quickly, so just a 1 second dip each side with do the trick.
  4. Place the sponge finger, sugar side up, on to the base of your dessert bowl. Continue until you have completed the first layer of sponge fingers. 
  5. Using a rubber spatula, dollop over about 1 cup of Mascarpone cheese mix, spreading it out evenly over the sponge. You should not be able to see the sponge fingers underneath the Mascarpone. 
  6. Generously sift over cocoa powder. 
  7. Begin the second layer on sponge fingers, followed by the Mascarpone and then the cocoa.
  8. Continue until the dessert bowl is full or until you have run out of sponge fingers. End with a layer of Mascarpone cheese and cocoa. 
  9. Allow to set in the fridge for 2 hours minimum. This dessert keeps well for up to 4 days.