Sugarpaste flowers

WeddingFlowers

This is not really a recipe but I just wanted to share the sugar paste flowers I had made for a friends wedding. I was so excited when they asked me to make the flowers for the wedding. I used a technique from Petalsweet for the buds and her coloring scheme as well. She has classes on Craftsy as well.

 

 

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Spiced Roasted Turnips

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Don’t you think that these look just so adorably cute? Not the ones that you get pre-packaged that are all the same size, but the ones that you get at the farmers market all kind of wonderful shapes and sizes and co-joined. When you cut them in half they look so pretty to present.

In going with my thanksgiving them of spicing up almost everything :-), I added turnips to the mix. As you can tell, I bought a different spice flavor to each of these. If you are not a spice addict you can season them with salt and pepper but do give these a try spice them as lightly as you can with your favorite spice mix. You can also do the same rubs that you do for your bar-b-que! Go for it, you will not be disappointed.

Ingredients

  • 15 turnips
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (Indonesian spice paste)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Slice the tops off the turnips but leave a little of the stem on. Wash the turnips well and pat them dry. Cut them in half or quarters, trying to make sure that each portion has a bit of the stem and the bottom, it just an aesthetic thing – so its not a must.

Mix the sambal oelek, brown sugar and olive oil well. Toss the turnips to coat and then place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the sea salt over. Place the sheet in the oven and back for 30 minutes on until nicely charred. You can stir it one in the middle of the baking time.

Enjoy!


Roasted Spiced Cauliflower

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As you probably can tell, I love roasting vegetables. Its so not the Indian in me but OMG it is so easy to make and they taste so good and (yes I am AND’ing a lot) they are healthy and if you cannot stand soggy vegetables then these are for you. This is a regular feature on my table and if cutting cauliflower down to their florets is a pain just cut them up like steaks and roast them. The question that someone will have to still answer is ‘Why do they charge $19 for cauliflower steaks at restaurants’. Let me know either the answer to that burning question or if you tried this and liked it!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cauliflower head, washed and cut into florets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3 tablespoons cumin powder (you can add more if you like but go easy the first time)
  • sea salt, pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Mix the chili powder, turmeric, cumin and olive oil. Toss the cauliflower florets in until well coated. Spread them out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Put the baking sheet in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring the cauliflower once during that time. Test to see that you have the desired crunchiness. Someone here at home loves the charred flavor and that comes from keep them a little longer.

Let me know if you tried it and liked it.


Honey Roasted Parsnip Chips with Thyme

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I love parsnips and roasting them just brings out their amazing sweet flavor. I made these for thanksgiving and they are simple – easy to nibble on, healthy and a lovely contrast to everything on the table.

Ingredients

  • 5 medium sized parsnips, washed and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 4 – 5 sprigs of thyme
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

Method

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Cut your parsnips into chips you can determine what thickness you want. I did mine fairly fine as you can see in the picture. Mix the honey, olive oil, salt and pepper and then toss the chips in and make sure they are well coated with the mixture. Add the thyme and mix a little more. Spread out this mixture on a tray and pop it into the oven for 30-35 minutes (If your chips are on the thicker side they may take a little longer).

Enjoy

 

 

 

 


Brazilian Carrot Cake

 

Brazilian Carrot Cake

Do carrots scream out at you – ‘Use me’? The orange which brightens every meal. Now let me ask you another question – Did you know carrots were not always orange? Is that a – what the hell is he talking about look on your face? That is the same look I had when I first heard about it. I was in Amsterdam at the time when the tour guide bought it up and talked about how the Dutch hybridized the carrot because they wanted to honor ‘William of Orange’.

For full details you can go to Mythbusters for the entire information. However, the short version of it is that the Dutch farmers cultivated a lot of carrots (white, purple and yellow). They developed a new strain that was orange and started growing that in honor of William of Orange. The traditional just as colorful carrots were tossed aside in favor of the orange one. If you have ever been to The Netherlands you will know their national color is orange and everyone wears orange.

If you live in a big city you probably have access to a farmers market and can get heirloom varieties of carrots. If you do not and do your own vegetable gardening try growing the heirloom varieties, they will add so much color to your plate.

Now back to the cake. I have been fascinated with Brazilian desserts for a while and came across an article about their version of the carrot cake. I did a bit of research and found this site (thank you google translate) and decided to try it with some modifications. The cake is simply delicious and moist and the color. I do want to get other colored carrots and so I can try to make a carrot rainbow cake :-). The cake is not too sweet and the chocolate coating is optional. The carrot flavor is mild and the cake is really moist. Its also a very easy blender cake.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 280g carrots (about 3 medium sized carrots, peeled)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 360g sugar
  • 240g all-purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch sea salt

For the chocolate glaze

  • 170g dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 100g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 425F. Butter your Bundt pan and lightly coat it with flour.

Blend the carrots, olive oil, eggs, sugar and salt until it is smooth. Pour this mixture into large bowl and pour the sifted flour and baking powder over it. Gently stir with a whisk until there are no lumps left.

Pour the batter into the Bundt pan. Place it carefully into the oven and bake for 5 minutes at 425F. Then lower the temperature to 400F and bake for another 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the deepest part comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire rack. Then turn the cake out onto the wire rack and let it cool completely.

For the glaze

Put the chocolate, honey and butter into a microwave safe bowl and melt it in the microwave on short 15 second bursts stirring everytime until it is smooth. This should take about 3-4 bursts depending on your microwave power. The butter needs to be melted and just keep stirring the mixture and everything will melt.

Once the cake is completely cooled place a plate under the wire rack and pour the glaze over the cake letting it run down the sides. If you are not able to cover the cake scoop up the chocolate from the plate and pour where needed.

The cake can be left at room temperature covered with plastic wrap or under a cake dome. Mine lasted only two days.

 

 

 


Burek

BurekWhile we were in Dubrovnik we took a day trip to Mostar in Bosnia. The day started off rather wet as we waited for the tour bus to arrive. The drive to the border was pretty. Once we crossed over the border just a mere formality with a long line, we stopped at our first stop which had a beautiful mosque at the top of the hill. Well beautiful from the outside we did not make the trek up. The roofs on the houses here were completely different compares to Dubrovnik. We carried on to Mostar and did have a shock as we entered the city. It still had all the signs of being ravaged by war. There were a lot of destroyed buildings and quite a few with a lot of bullet holes. It was really sad. When we go to the destination which is the historic portion of Mostar we were given instructions to be very careful because of the pickpockets.

We had a very nice and informative guide. The old part of the city (the only part we saw) was very charming. We climbed to the top of the oldest  mosque – that was quite a challenge as the stairwell was very narrow and fairly dark. From the top of the minaret was a fantastic view of the river and the famous Mostar  bridge. At the end of the tour we asked our guide to recommend a local dish we could try and he pointed us to the very popular local food ‘Burek’. Its really a pastry filled with either cheese, spinach or beef, that is eaten with yoghurt. It was simply delicious. If I could describe it, it would be layers of filo pastry wrapped around the filling. It was simply delicious and was our cheapest meal of the trip.

You can fill your Burek with anything that you would like as long as the mixture is more on the dry side. You could even go for a sweet filling.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 2 eggs (reserve one egg yolk)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3.5 cups flour

For the filling

  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 1 frozen packet of cut leaf spinach
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3/4 packet of cream cheese

Method

Whisk eggs (one full egg and one egg white), salt, olive oil and milk. Sift the baking powder and flour.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and knead until soft. If your mixture is dry add a little more milk a bit at a time. If it is too sticky add a little more flour a bit at a time. Your dough should be smooth and soft and should spring back when you do the thumb test (See notes)

Let the dough rest covered with a damp towel while you make the filling

Fry the onion until it becomes translucent. Add the remaining ingredients except the cream cheese and cook. Once the spinach is cooked add the cream cheese and take it off the heat. Stir to blend in the cream cheese.

Divide the dough into 6 equal portions.
Take one portion and roll it into a long log at least 14 inches in length.
Use a rolling ping to flatten it out along the length. Then use a rolling pin to widen it along its width. You want it to be at least 3 inches wide. It can be as thin as you can get it. I do this on a (Clean) countertop. It does not stick because of the olive oil in the dough.

Burek Steps

Lightly brush the top of the rolled pastry with either melted butter or olive oil. (This is optional but will give you better layers)

Put a thin strip of filling on the section that is closer to you just a little bit away from the end. Then lift the dough and cover the filling bit by bit along the length. Tightening the roll as you go. Repeat the procedure until you have a filled log.

Next, You are going to  make a spiral, starting at one end and rolling the log around itself. Make sure you have the top of the Burek at the same level. Brush the top with egg white and place on your foil lined baking sheet.

Bake for 350 for 30-35 mins or until the tops are golden brown. Serve hot with a side of yoghurt.

Optional fillings

  • onion, sweet potato, spinach, spices of your choice
  • cooked spiced minced chicken

 


Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate bars

SeaSaltCaramelbars

Caramel is always in demand and there are so many ways of making it. This is a really simple one and you do not have to worry about getting the sugar burnt. This is also a really good recipe to make when you do not want to bake a cake and you get a fair amount of pieces to share. I will say there is a little patience required to make sure you have got your mixture to the right temperature so the caramel stays set for a while and does not run. Mine just took a way long time to cooperate and get to the 240C but I won out with patience.

Ingredients

for the Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 oz unsalted butter, melted

for the caramel

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick/4oz) unsalted butter
  • 1.5 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

for the chocolate

  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso (or instant coffee

for the topping

  • sea salt flakes

Method

Line a 9 inch square pan with parchment paper. If your pan does not have a removable bottom, line the pan like with parchment paper that looks like a plus sign when laid out flat. This will help you lift out the bars when they are done.

for the crust

Melt the butter and stir it into the graham crumbs until they are all evenly moist. Pour this mixture into you lined pan and press down gently to flatten. Use the back of a measuring cup to help. Heat your oven to 350F. Put the pan into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. The crust will look golden. Remove pan from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

for the caramel

Mix all the ingredients for the caramel in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook on medium heat stirring until the sugar has melted and incorporated and you have a smooth look. Turn up the heat until the mixture boils (do not stir). Heat until a candy thermometer registers 240 C. This can take anywhere from 7-10 minutes. Once it reaches 240C take it off the heat and gently pour it over the cooled crust. Let it cool, then pop it into the fridge for 20 minutes.

for the chocolate

Heat cream in the microwave for about a minute. Pour over chopped chocolate and instant espresso and let it sit for about a minute or two. Then stir with a spatula until all the chocolate has melted. Let it sit for a minute. Take the baking pan with the caramel out of the fridge and carefully pour over the chocolate. Smoothen with a wet palette knife and return to the fridge for at least an hour.

To serve, take the pan out of the refrigerator at least an hour before serving. Sprinkle with sea salt. Take the bars out of the cake pan using the parchment paper as lifters. Cut into the size that you think in reasonable. Enjoy!