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. 

It is here!



Wishing you all a blessed and happy Ramadan! 
May the Most Merciful shower us with forgiveness, hope and guidance in the holy month! Ameen

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Ramadan & Eid Decor


I've had quite a lot of questions about where I found my Ramadan decor and the answer is that I made most of it myself. The paper flowers are really easy, the tutorial is here. Once they were done all I had to do was to stick them on the wall using blu-tack. The bunting was also a half d.i.y job. I used the letters I needed from Ruffled Blog and got them printed on 200 gsm paper, cut them out with a little white overhang at the top so I could fold it down and place them onto the bunting string. It was much easier than stitching through paper with thread and this way I can easily change it up whenever an occasion calls for bunting. Once I had the sting up on the wall (also used Blu-tack) I placed the letters on and stapled the first and last letter onto the string, in this case being the 'R' and 'N'. Stapling or gluing wasn't need for the letters in between as the letter fit snugly against each other. I followed the same pattern with the 'Mubarak' line beneath. 

To avoid any mix-up at the printer, here is the letters you will need for this Ramadan bunting:

A x 5
B x 1
D x 1
K x 1
M x 2
N x 1
R x 2
U x 1

Note: As there are so many A's in 'Ramadan Mubarak', and there was too much yellow in the bunting, I substituted the first 'A' in 'Ramadan' with the loveheart which is also included as a free download on Ruffled Blog. I will also be printing an Eid version of my bunting, as well as making a crescent moon pinata for Eid day! 
I gathered some of the mason jars I had in the house as well as a small lantern and a candy jar and filled them with fairy lights. The outcome is whimsical and warm with an understated charm and elegance. These little baby lights have been named well, especially when their the right kind of white. I may also mention that my home is free from coloured fairy lights with hopes that it will remain that way. After some advice from a lovely lady, called Leesa, I am going to give some more height to the table with some bunches of Babies Breath and a powder blue accent flower.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Secrets to the Perfect Roast Chicken

A brief but very valuable lesson.

Don't be afraid of making a Roast Chicken like I was for years, just do it and you'll be so proud of the outcome! Pinky promise. Vegetables will come in another post, as they are yet to be perfected. In need of some cooking lessons from the best cook I know, my Mum.

COOKING TIME
It's important that you don't overcook your chicken. No amount of gravy can disguise a dry, rubbery chook.
Allow 30mins per 500g in a 170C oven (fan-forced) or 180C for a normal oven.

OIL UP
Use a combination of olive oil and canola oil to get a nice crispy skin as. I also score the skin of the chicken then I pour over the oil, about 2-3tbsp of each depending on the size of the chicken and then massage over kosher salt.

SEASON 
Don't skimp on the S&P. I also add a few whole cloves of garlic, skin intact as well as 3 quartered onions to the bottom on the roasting dish. The onions become so sweet and juicy, I try to sneak as many in before anyone else!

STUFF
This trick I learnt from my Mum; cut a large lemon in half and insert it into the carcass of the chicken. It keeps the breast meat beautifully white and adds moisture throughout the whole chicken. The gravy I make with the pan juices also take on a beautiful citrus flavour.

REST
Once the chicken has cooked for the specified time, take it out of the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving to allow the juices to settle.

GRAVY
Use the leftover juice in the bottom of the roasting dish to make a gravy. You can add 1tbsp of flour along with chicken stock (a stock cube will also do) and combine with the pan juice over low heat. Sometimes instead of using flour and the stock I add a tbsp of granulated gravy to the juices which is also really easy.

I still have no idea how to properly cut the chicken once its cooked. I'm still learning but its not going so well. If anyone has any tips please let me know!


Saturday, 21 June 2014

D.I.Y paper flowers

I've been so consumed with making these pompom flowers to decorate our home for Ramadhan which will be starting next week. For those unfamiliar with Ramadhan, the VERY brief explanation is that it is the month in which Muslims fast from the very beginning of sunrise until sun set each day. The end of Ramadhan is marked with the Eid al-Fitr celebration in which families gather and charity and gifts are given. Oh and we eat lots of delicious food!

There have been a few set backs with my little beauties, firstly being that I couldn't find tissue paper ANYWHERE and then I ran out of wire ties and then numerous problems with cutting the perfectly sized rectangle. But I eventually found my way and now I have a room full of paper blooms. I have used crepe paper for my flowers which is much thicker and has some stretch (which means less chance of tearing) than tissue paper however I think tissue paper would be easier to shape. Also if you do use tissue paper, I would suggest using more than the 5 sheets I have stated below and increase it to at least

Before I begin the tutorial I would like to say that using wire ties is far better than using string or yarn, unless you want to hand a continual flower bunting in which case the yarn would be easier. Also that when folding, try to make it as tight as possible so that once you open the flower up it has more shape.
One last tip, when separating the sheets to make the flower, do so by pinching the top sheet by the fold.

If you need to watch a video tutorial to make it clearer, this one is good.
  • Measure and cut 5 sheets of crepe/tissue paper to your desired size. The best shape I've found is a slight rectangle with the folds beginning width way.
  • Fold your stack of paper back and forth like you would make a fan until you reach the end. Fold and press down firmly each time.
  • Using a wire tie or yarn, tightly secure the paper together at the back of the 'fan'. 
  • Cut each end with a point (as pictured below) or a half-circle. The round shape makes a flower similar to a blooming peony and the point more like a chrysanthemum.
  • Spread out the fan slight and then begin to pull up each sheet. The tighter you pull up the more texture. Repeat with the remaining sheets until complete. I like to keep the last sheet quite flat but you can play around and see what suits you best! 
  • Practice makes perfect! 

As you can see, you can make so many different sizes and shapes. My plan with these is to stick them to the wall using Blu-tac. It will be my 'decoration wall' for the whole of Ramadhan and Eid. Now to design some 'Ramadhan Mubarak' bunting! 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Sun Dried Tomato and Chili Penne Bake



Somehow I struggle of deciding what to make for diner each and every cooking day. All week I'm reading about food, looking at food, and photographing food but the inspiration lacks when it actual comes down to the nitty gritty of choosing. So, today's recipes comes from not really knowing what to cook after deciding on one thing and then on another. It is good in a way, as I used up some things in the pantry I had forgotten about and the taste of the final dish was on point.

In this recipe I used a packet of Cream of Broccoli soup which I added to the white sauce base, for extra taste and smoothness. I became obsessed with Cream of Broccoli soup when I was in Madinah, Saudi Arabia and have bought packets since to satisfy my craving! By adding condensed soup or dry soup mix to a simple white sauce base elevates the flavour profile to another level with very minimal effort. 

Ingredients
  • 1 large chicken breast, thinly sliced and lightly salted
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp + 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 full tsp minced garlic
  • 1 pkt cream of broccoli soup
  • 2 1/2 C milk
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 1/3 C sundried tomatoes, sliced 
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese, grated
  • handful of cheddar cheese, grated
  • 250g penne pasta
  1. In a medium sized saucepan melt 1 tbsp butter and oil. Add the chicken breast and cook until seared. Do not cook the chicken through as it will continue to cook in the oven.
  2. Remove the chicken from the saucepan and set aside. Leave the juices in the saucepan and add the remaining butter, melting over medium heat. 
  3. In a pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until 3 minutes before al dente, strain and set aside.
  4. Add the garlic and stir. Slowly add in the flour, whisking as you go to ensure no lumps remain.
  5. Pour in milk in 1/2C batches, mixing well in between each addition. 
  6. Sprinkle over the cream of broccoli soup mix, stirring to combine. 
  7. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, remove from the heat and add in the tomatoes, chicken and Parmesan cheese. 
  8. Add the pasta in batches, stirring as you go. Add enough pasta to fill the sauce but not so much that it becomes dry. Most important thing is for the dish to be creamy and smooth. Remembering also that it will dry a little in the oven.
  9. Transfer into a large baking dish and layer the cheddar cheese on top.
  10. Bake in a 175C oven (no fan) for 20-30 minutes.
  11. Serve with my Summer salad or your preferred side. 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Jammy Jacks


I woke up much earlier than usual this morning, and as it isn't in my daily routine I wasn't feeling hungry for breakfast. My husband was on a work call and after slowing sipping on my morning 'cuppa, I was left with little to do. The light was streaming in from the windows, so pretty and warm. Then it dawned on me, this was my chance to get some food photography in whilst the natural light was seeping through. There was one small problem in my plan, I had no food to photograph...

I started flicking through old cookbooks and came across Flapjacks, I loved them when I was in UK and as most of the ingredients are pantry staples, the decision was an easy one! The most important thing to me in a flapjack is the chewiness. It shouldn't be under cooked or gooey but it should definitely have a soft chew to it. I changed the recipe slightly to allow for maxium 'soft chew' with the addition of corn syrup. Without being egoistic, these jam laced, chewy oat slices are ah-mazing. Especially eaten on the day! This may just replace my current go-to bake, the delicious Chocolate Brownies

We don't really have British flapjacks in Australia, not that I have come across anyway. I guess the closest thing would be an Anzac Slice or biscuit the only big difference that these are way more delectable (sorry Australia!). The original Flapjack is plain with no icing or topping, hence the name of my version, Jammy Jacks. 
Ingredients
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 125g golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 125g light brown sugar (muscovado)
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 125g rolled oats
  • 25g desiccated coconut plus extra for topping
  • 2-3 tbsp strawberry preserve (or any other fruit jam you like)
  1. Line a square cake tin with baking paper and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C (170C fanforced).
  3. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats and coconut. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, golden syrup, corn syrup and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Remove it from the heat as soon as everything has melted.
  5. Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. 
  6. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 15minutes.
  7. Once cooked, it should still be soft in the middle. It will firm up as it cools. 
  8. Allow to cool for 10 mins and then spoon over the strawberry preserve, smoothing over with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle over the extra coconut and allow it to cool to body temperature before taking it out of the pan and placing it on a wire rack.
  9. Once it is completely cooled to room temp, cut evenly into rectangles or squares. (no judgment if you cant wait that long, the smell is gorgeous!)


p.s I picked up these beautiful linen napkins in Crate and Barrel, you can find similar here.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Sauce


Dessert at my Mum's is always a tradition, every night of the week. Whether its something extravagant, a nice warm pudding, some chocolate or just a few scoops of ice-cream its always something I look forward to before I hit the sheets. She 'whips' its up with ease and really makes it all so easy. My very own Mary Poppins.

This is one of my Mum's recipes she gave to me last year and I've been having it with vanilla ice-cream ever since! Its so delicious and simple but best of all you'll probably always have the ingredients you need to make it already at home. I mean, who wants to pop out to the shop after dinner to grab a few things. Certainly not me, I'm a pj's after dinner kinda gal with no desire to change out of them anytime before 8am.

If your making this for children, I suggest you use milk chocolate instead of dark or half milk, half dark as it will reduce the richness of the sauce. If you love dark chocolate like me, then go ahead with the 60% dark chocolate.

Ingredients

  • 1 C cream
  • 50g good quality dark chocolate (60% min)
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tsp peanut butter
  • vanilla ice-cream
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the cream and chocolate over medium heat until melted. 
  2. Add the golden syrup and peanut butter, using a whisk to get rid of any lumps.
  3. Pour desired amount of sauce over 2 scoops of vanilla ice-cream.