Friday, July 22, 2016

Carrot and Apple Cupcakes


It's the end of school year again and my mind is shifting towards thinking of edible gifts for the teachers.
I have already made decorated biscuits before and a whole cake among other things, so this time cupcakes were in order.
The beautifully decorated cupcakes require a skill in working with buttercream, something I was planning to acquire long time ago. Unfortunately summer is not the best season for serving buttercream decorated goodies as the heat will make it lose shape and even melt. Quick trips to the fridge for the buttercream involved are essential and keeping the ready cupcakes in the fridge afterwards.
In the Western world teachers are traditionally associated with apples that the students are giving them as thank you gifts, although the reasons of why an apple and not something else are lost back in time and speculations go from the apple tree of Knowledge to the traditions of Swedish and Scandinavian settlers in the United Sates, from where this tradition was passed on to the UK.

So an apple cake seemed most appropriate but I also wanted it to be very British too, so I chose a carrot cake recipe, embellished with the addition of an apple.
Funnily enough, adding the apple made the carrot cake sponge very soft in texture, so it was definitely an improvement.

Creating a tiny flower garden on top of the cupcakes was very enjoyable indeed and I can only hope the teachers enjoyed the cupcakes as much as I enjoyed making them.


 And this is how the recipe goes.

Carrot and apple cupcakes

(the recipe is basically the one of Edd Kimber published in Waitrose Magazine, slightly altered)

Sponge
Products: 

(Makes 24 cupcakes of two sizes - 12 bigger and 12 smaller)

4 eggs
200 g caster sugar
200 g light brown sugar
250 ml sunflower oil
300 g coarsely grated carrot
1 medium sized apple - peeled and grated
280 g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
grated zest of 1 orange
150 g sultanas


Cream
Products:
200 g mascarpone cheese
250 g butter
200 g cream cheese
6 tbsp icing sugar
vanilla essence
grated zest of 1/2 lemon


Buttercream for piping 
Products:
750 g butter
500 g icing sugar

food colouring

piping tubes and nozzles for flowers and leaves


Method:

Combine the flour with the spices, salt and soda. In a bowl mix the eggs with the sugars with a balloon whisk until homogeneous. Incorporate the sunflower oil very carefully in stages and whisk until fully combined.
Add the grated carrots and apple and then the dry ingredients. Mix well and bake in two batches.

Bake at 180 C for 20 minutes.

Leave on a wire rack to cool down.


For the cream - beat the butter with the icing sugar until mixed, then add the mascarpone and cream cheese and mix well. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and set aside in the fridge.

For the piping buttercream - beat the softened butter with the icing sugar and vanilla at the lower speed of the mixer. Divide the cream into five or six cups and mix with the required colours.

One way to make the flowers is to pipe them directly onto baking paper and freeze, then carefully remove with a palette knife and top the cupcake.

Another way is to pipe directly onto the cupcake.

Start assembling after the cupcakes are completely cold. Top with the mascarpone cream and pipe/arrange the flowers.
Keep refrigerated.















































And the cupcake bouquet I did earlier for the other teachers.









Saturday, December 26, 2015

Two Ways with Butternut Squash for Christmas

Pumpkin and Filo pie with Cranberry topping

Merry Christmas! 






Products: 
7 fine filo pastry sheets
150 g cranberries + 1 tbsp sugar
200 g butternut squash chopped
3 carrots - chopped to quarter pieces
200 g feta cheese (made of goat's and sheep's milk)
4 eggs
2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
ground pepper
50 g butter





 Method:

To make the cranberry sauce - place the cranberries in a pan with 100 ml water, add the sugar and 

Brush with melted butter 5 filo sheets. Place them on tpo of eah other and place carefully in a deep baking dish 7 inch in diameter. Leave the edges of the filo leaves outside of the dish. 

In the meantime make the filling - combine all the ingredients chopped coarsely with the eggs, crumbled feta cheese, parsley and black pepper. Place half of the filling and top with another buttered filo sheet, put the rest of the filling and top with the last filo sheet. Add butter and top with the cranberry sauce.
Brush the top filo sheets with butter.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 180 C until golden. 
Decorate with fresh cranberries.









Pumpkin, carrot and apple pie with dried fruits







Products:

5 thick filo sheets (yufka)

300 g butternut squash or pumpkin peeled and grated
100 g sugar
2 apples - peeled, cored and grated
2 medium carrots - grated
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins and sultanas
the grated zest of 1/2 lemon
5 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100 g butter
100 gr walnuts

1 cup of water

Method:

Prepare the filling:

Combine the grated butternut squash or pumpkin with the apples and carrots. Add the sugar and 100 ml oil and fry in a pan on medium heat for 15 minutes. After the first 5 minutes add the sugar and the walnuts and raisins. After another 5 minutes add the cinnamon and the lemon zest.
Leave for another 10 minutes until all the ingredients are well combined. Remove from heat and leave to cool down completely.

Make  the pie:

Unfold the thick filo sheets and brush each with butter. Place 1/5 of the filling close to the middle of the sheet and roll. starting from the middle of the baking dish. Proceed with the rest of the filo sheets. Brush the top with melted butter and bake at 180 C for 40 minutes. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with 1 cup of cold water. Cover with a teat towel and keep like that for 2 hours.

You can sprinkle some icing sugar for nicer presentation.




Sunday, July 19, 2015

Korean Inspired Strawberry and Tofu Lollies


I haven't been able to blog for a while and as a result I have accumulated a lot of recipes to share and remember. I am hoping to be able to do it soon!

In the meantime randomly caught a tweet by @Kavey  about the Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream (BSFIC) challenge this July and thought I could contribute.



 Kavey suggested I do something with Korean influence so I thought of a summer fruit and tofu ice cream.

I have done a strawberry and tofu mousse before and really like the texture tofu gives - it is very rich and dense without the heaviness that comes with cow's milk. It is also quite solid without needing any additives as gelatin.

So I guessed it would make a nice lolly and was right.

To spice up the taste I decided to try a soy sauce and orange juice reduction for drizzling.
Well, the taste was interesting and the texture was good. It had a striking complement to the sweetness of the lollies, but I understand the combination of fragrant salted taste and rich sweet would rather not be everyone's cup of tea.

Despite the sweetness and aroma of the orange (and the 1 tsp sugar) the salt was predominant in the taste. The reduction would work nicely with fish or meat though.




Strawberry and Tofu Lollies


Products:

for the lollies

200 g fresh strawberries
375 g firm tofu
4 tbsp sugar
100 ml double cream


for the soy sauce reduction

1/2 navel orange - the juice and part of the zest 
30 ml soy sauce
1 tsp sugar


Method:

Combine all the ingredients (reserving 8-10 small strawberries) for the ice cream in a blender and blend until smooth.
Finally add the strawberries and blend coarsely so you can have parts inside the ice cream.
Fill in the moulds and freeze for at least 2 hours.

The soy sauce reduction:

In a pan place the soy sauce and the freshly squeezed juice of the orange. Add 1 tsp grated zest. 
Let simmer over very low heat for 10 minutes, then add the sugar and simmer again for 10 minutes or so very carefully so the sauce thickens but doesn't burn.

And finally, eat! (With or without the soy sauce!)






Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Gingerbread house / Bulgarian Spiced Honey Biscuits + FREE Template



Building a house is a concept that everyone holds dear - when we are kids we love play houses, dolls houses, miniature homes, wendy houses, and when we're older we love decorating our homes. And that's been like that for ages - dolls houses were made since Egyptian times and flourished in the Middle Ages. Some bakers in the Middle Ages were specialising in shaping gingerbread houses and even formed their own guild within the Bakers' Guild. Reportedly only certified guild members were allowed to bake gingerbread houses in the 17th century in Europe, except at Easter and Christmas, when everyone was allowed to do so.

I personally love houses - real, doll's or dwarfs - and of course baking and decorating my own gingerbread house was a great experience and also created memories for me and my kids too.

It's a childhood dream come true - making a gingerbread house. The festive season really got me this year with baking especially after I found out a very good Bulgarian recipe for spiced honey biscuits by Yoana. They are perfect for a house as they do need a day or two or better three to soften as they are very hard when baked. But what a better dough to use for a gingerbread house? It needs to be hard so it doesn't crumble under the weight of all the imaginable and unimaginable treats that are pile on top of it. Plus I just love this taste - it's carries so much memories. Weird enough but smells and taste do carry memories right?

I have to admit I was a bit afraid to start as I thought making the template for the house will be difficult to make - I couldn't be more wrong in my whole life - even a first grader can make the template - the only thing you need is paper, pencil and a ruler. However, I will upload a free pdf of the template I drew in case anyone is feeling doubtful in their drawing skills like I was :)

I suggest when cutting the shapes to minimise detail - so cut the whole shape first and transfer safely on the baking sheet so it doesn't lose its shape - the house needs to have straight edges - it will make it easier to assemble after.
When the shape is on the sheet, then you can cut out the shapes of windows, doors and other openings and make sure when removing them they don't spoil the edges. (A little bit of unevenness is not a problem though).


For the window glasses I used clear boiled sweets - I would have used red and green or even yellow but didn't find any. The trick with those is to put a whole one sweet in the opening - it will melt and harden on itself - it doesn't need to be crushed (something I thought it needs, but it proved to be completely obsolete, so save time and just put the whole sweet in. The small windows needed a half sweet though.)

With the decorations - let your imagination and appetite lose - orange chocolate sticks, chocolate pretzels, marshmallows, jelly beans, sprinkles, and whatever more you want, all sticked together with royal icing. The mini gingerbread men shaped biscuits came in handy for setting the scene.

As did the 3D Christmas tree shape - that one was very easy to make - just cut a regular Christmas tree shape twice, then make an opening up to the half of the shape lengthwise - one tree from top to the middle, the other from bottom to the middle. The opening should be big enough as much as the thickness of the baked biscuit. But don't worry, because after they are baked you can use a small knife and alter the opening so the two shapes join together to make the 3D shape.

Ohh, and the assembling and especially decoration was So Much Fun!!! I admit I was jumping with joy and excitement up and down the kitchen when the baked Christmas tree cookie shapes came together as a 3D shape.

Recipe :


for the Houses and the Christmas trees
(makes 2 smaller houses or 1 giant one)

250 ml runny honey (or golden syrup)

200 g sugar

150 ml oil
2 eggs

1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
the crushed tops of 2 clovers
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate extract
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

650 g plain flour

for the decoration:

1kg royal icing sugar
200 g orange chocolate sticks
200 g chocolate pretzels
400 g white marshmallows
some mini gingerbread men
melted chocolate 
400 g giant chocolate buttons
200 g white chocolate buttons
sprinkles (100s and 1000s)
200 g jelly beans 
clear (or coloured) boiled sweets to make the glasses
any other sweets that you like - candy canes and so on.



Method:

On the hob (or over a pan of water) very gently heat the sugar, honey and the spices until well dissolved. 
Remove from heat coll down a bit, then add the eggs and oil. Mix and start adding the flour and baking powder and start making the dough - it will be warm, soft and sticky - that is fine. 
Make it at a ball as much as you can and divide in two. Then flour a flat surface and roll in a 1 cm thickness. 
Cut out the genera shapes and transfer to a lined baking sheet carefully so the edges remain straight. 
When on the sheet cut out the shapes for windows and door. 

Cut out the Christmas tree shapes and transfer on the sheet, then cut the parts that will be used to join together. 

Place one boiled sweet of the required colour in the window opening to make glass.

Bake at 180C (160 C fan oven) for 10-15 minutes until golden and starting getting brown around the edges.

Leave to cool down completely before removing and starting the decoration - ideally on the next day.

Decoration:

Run your imagination wild! And check all the amazing Gingerbread house creations on Pinterest for inspiration!






Have a magical Christmas everyone! :)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Mint and Raspberry Pinwheel Cookies




Every now and then I got an almost uncontrollable urge to bake biscuits and I always research some I want to make. Of course the Christmas period only weakens my motivation to stick to healthier treats. And I can never turn down the school's Christmas fair request for baking volunteers.
It's a win-win.

I remember vaguely pinwheels-like biscuits from my childhood, although in my memories they are softer and probably used a completely different recipe - like the no-bake sweet salami cut in the form of a pin wheel.

Although they are different, I though they would look perfect for Christmas biscuit gifts and for the school fair.
The recipe I used requires very little flour compared to the other ingredients so the dough is very very soft. I had to roll it between food wrap so it doesn't stick and break. It stays in the fridge for 30 minutes at the moment as I write and if hard enough but still pliable I will arrange the two parts together and roll. Then I will cover in sprinkles and leave in the fridge for another hour or two until really hard before cutting in rings.

I tried two variations - vanilla and chocolate and raspberries and mint. The chocolate and vanilla ones were the first I tried and I easily added another cup or two of flour or so as I didn't believe the recipe. They were way too hard as a result.

However this time I decided to follow the recipe thoroughly and let's see what the results will be. - The result was very soft and a bit messy to make but nice once baked.

RECIPE:
  • 390 g plain four (or 350 g flour + 40 g cocoa powder for the plain and chocolate ones)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 226 g unsalted butter
  • 200 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp each red and green gel food colours - for the red/green pinwheels
  • 3-4 drops raspberry essence
  • 4-5 drops spearmint flavour
  • 100s and 1000s edible pearls for decorating the rim.






METHOD:

For the Christmas red-green pin wheel cookies I decided to flavour the red dough with raspberry essence and the green one with peppermint essence. I think it went well, but the peppermint was a but too overpowering.

Beat the butter and sugar together, add the eggs and the vanilla extract and then the dry ingredients without the colours and the flavours.

The dough is going to be very very soft.

I divided it into two parts and coloured and flavoured respectively.

Now comes the tough part - I put each dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and rolled as it was to a 1/2 cm to 1 cm thickness.

Placed in a baking tray and left in the fridge for 30 minutes.

The same with the other colour. 

After the 30 minutes passed I placed one of the rolled doughs on a plastic wrap sheet, removed the plastic wrap around it and then put the second one on top of it and started rolling - as tightly as possible. When rolled I covered with the pearl sprinkles covered in wrap and put in the fridge again overnight.

On the next morning - I cut the roll to slices of about 1/2 cm thick, placed on a baking sheet with enough space between - the cookies expand) and baked in the oven for 10 minutes at 180 C.

The cookies are very soft when out of the oven so wait until they harden before removing from the sheet.

They hold well in a container for over two weeks. Common, they are biscuits - they are supposed to last for months with the appropriate quantities. :)




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Bottom line verdict: The second try with the unaltered amount of flour was much better.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fluffy and Airy Plum Upside Down Cake with a twist


Plum upside down cake is a favourite in our family. I can't remember where the recipe initially came from but I remember making this cake since I was a teenager and although it goes well with various soft fruit - as apricots and peaches - and even had as apples my most favourite one is with plum.
I like everything about this cake - the caramel pieces that go inside the sponge while baking, the aromatic plums scenting the cake with their perfume and releasing their tangy sweetness, the sponge - sometimes contrasting with more biscuit-like texture and sometimes accompanying with matching softness (like today) - it's a delight.
The recipe I am usually using is more dense and I wanted something airier and fluffier and definitely lighter (not in the sense of having less calories) to try this time. The result was very successful - the lime flavour in the sponge matching and complementing the taste of the caramelised plums nearly to perfection.
So I am happy to share this delightful dessert which we shamelessly ate as a breakfast enjoyed with our teas/coffees. (Yes, all of us!)



Airy Plum Upside Down Cake 

(Makes one 8 inch cake)

to line the cake tin:
1/2 cup sugar for caramelising 
5-6 (depending on the variety and size) ripe but still firm plums sliced


for the sponge:

2 small eggs
80 g butter
1/2 cup sugar (100 g)
90 g self raising flour
25 g shredded coconut 
2 drops lime essence or 1 tsp lime juice

Method:

Heat the sugar in the tin on low heat and turn and mix until the bottom of the cake tin is covered in smooth caramel. Remove from heat and arrange the sliced plums.

In a bowl beat the butter with the sugar for about (less than) a minute. Add the eggs and mix for a few seconds more until blended. With a spatula incorporate the coconut and flour. Finally add the lime extract drops. (I have to add here that I am very happy to fins lime extract - the flavour it gives is natural and intense.)

Bake at 180 C (170 C fan) oven for 30 minutes. Leave to rest for some 5 minutes, then turn upside down until hot. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Matcha and french Glacé cherries entremet-inspired dessert

Earlier this year I was invited to a masterclass on French Glacé cherries with fellow food blogger Cindy Robert from Petit Gateau. One of the recipes she showed us was how to make jaffa cakes using glacé cherries instead of oranges for the jelly. I was impressed by it and waited an opportunity to try it again. So when I was approached by French glacé cherries again to take part in a recipe development competition, I knew I was going to make the jelly again.
The preparation method of the glacé cherries uses only natural ingredients and the taste is as close to the natural as possible.
Thinking of Japan and sakura, my idea was to hide the cherry jelly between layers of green tea and chocolate mousse, creating something like an entremet - the highly skilled and time consuming French dessert. I have always wanted to make an entremet, ever since I read and saw the amazing creations of Japanese genius patissier Hidemi Sugino but I have never had enough non-divided-attention time to spare for the preparation of these elaborate desserts.
However, the second invitation from French glacé cherries and some extra help I had with the kids allowed me to make an attempt to prepare something more time consuming. I still couldn't make the joconde imprime base I have been planning, but instead tried a new biscuit base I've always wanted to try.

I loved the result! And the cherries and matcha were a perfect match.

I adapted recipes from Cindy Robert for the French glacé cherries for the cherry jelly and from talented Lace Zhang from Baked by Lace for the crust and the Matcha mousse.




Recipes:





(makes one 8 inch high spring form, or one 7 inch and one small personal size one)


For the Biscuit Base:
80 g butter
80 g sugar
2 eggs
80 g ground almonds
15 g plain flour
10 g corn flour


For the Glacé cherry jelly:

70 g French Glacé cherries - chopped
100 ml grenadine syrup 
100 ml warm water
3 leaves gelatine

For the Matcha mousse:

300 g whipped double cream
2 flat tbsp matcha powder
80 ml water
50 g Demerara sugar
100 g white chocolate
3 gelatine leaves


For the Chocolate mousse:
160 g melted dark chocolate
300 ml double cream
50 g icing sugar
1 leaf gelatine


For the matcha latte jelly:

1 tsp matcha powder
100 ml hot water
1 tbsp Demerara sugar
100 ml full fat milk
3 leaves gelatine 


Method:

First, start with the cherry jelly as it will take more time to set and in the ideal case it should be hidden inside the ready dessert so it makes sense to let it set in a smaller dish and then transfer to the big mould/spring form. Chop the glacé cherries and soak in the grenadine syrup. Add the warm water. In a cup with lukewarm water dissolve the leaves gelatine for about 5 minutes. Drain and add to the cherry mix. Transfer to a dish lined with plastic wrap and leave to set.

Then, make the biscuit base - combine all ingredients with a mixer starting with the butter and sugar and gradually adding the rest. Spread evenly with a thickness of 1 cm on a flat baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 180 degrees C.

In the meantime prepare the matcha mousse: 
Heat the water and add the matcha powder and sugar. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chopped into evenly sized pieces. Stir continuously until dissolved. In another bowl beat the double cream until stiff. Then carefully combine the two mixtures. Soak the gelatin leaves in water for 5 minutes, drain them and add to the mousse. 

When the base has cooled down cut the appropriate amount and line the base of the spring form. Cover with the matcha mousse and leave to set. When set and hard, transfer the cherry jelly on top. 
Then make the chocolate mousse. 

Melt the chocolate in a microwave very carefully at intervals of 30 seconds. Beat the double cream with the sugar and add the melted chocolate. Soak 1 leaf gelatine in water for 5 minutes then add to the mousse, mix and leave so it starts to set for 3-4 minutes. Then transfer in the mould. and leave to set in a fridge. 

Finally, when the chocolate mousse is set make the matcha latte jelly - heat the water and dissolve the matcha and sugar in it. Add the milk and mix well. Proceed the same with the gelatine leaves as before, drain and add to the matcha liquid. coll down for 2-3 minutes but do not leave to set, instead transfer over the chocolate mousse to make a smooth reflecting surface. 
Set in the fridge for 12 hours. 
Decorate with glacé cherries and enjoy!






Thursday, January 16, 2014

Viennese Sandwich biscuits with Chestnut Ganache cream


I am not really fond of chestnuts. They have a nice nutty flavour but there's also a but of sweetness and blandness in them and because of that I can't say they are a favourite. For the same reason I still got a can of chestnut purée in my cupboard and that was one very hard to obtain, I remember, some time ago, as it is only available around Christmas. (Quite like the ready pumpkin purée that can be found around Halloween and then almost impossible.)
I have been looking for ideas what to do with the chestnut purée as it's expiry date was round the corner and throwing away food is just so wrong. First I was musing about some easy recipe like putting in entire can into a dough and probably bake cupcakes but I soon realised I wouldn't like the result quite as much as I expected, and throwing away food that I have spent time cooking is even wronger.
It became apparent that chestnut purée will work best in a creamy environment and more like so with chocolate. So I gave up the plans for a quiet, fuss-free and washing-up free creation. It had to be done the passionate way - with a result to die for. The chestnut purée was about to become a rich dark chocolate ganache and chestnut purée whipped cream!
The other part was easy - my favourite biscuits that I quite miss since I am in the UK - the soft yet crumbly shortbread biscuits sandwiched with cream are not too popular here. I was able to find some under the name of Viennese swirls in Waitrose though, just to remember how much I like them and to confirm tat these are my favourite biscuits of all. Of course I had to make chocolate Viennese swirls to join together with my chestnut and chocolate ganache - heaven!
I had a batch of piping bags ready and that made the whole process a bit cleaner. The swirl biscuits are relatively easy to make - the only thing to consider is to leave enough space between them as they will expand and flatten a bit during baking. Otherwise no freezing or chilling required unlike other shortbread recipes.
I made these the day before and oh, on the next morning! The cream had soften the biscuits a bit more and the flavours blended well together - yes, these definitely are a favourite!


Viennese biscuits with Chestnut Ganache Cream

Biscuits

Products:
(makes around 40 individual biscuits)
50 g icing sugar
250 g soft butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
230 g plain flour
20 g cocoa
50 g corn flour

Method:

Beat the butter and sugar until creamy and add the flour and cocoa. At that stage knead with hands until the dough is soft enough. I used a piping bag with a nozzle attached but though that a cookie press might work better as the dough is a bit hard. However it will soften a bit more in the process.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper and squeeze the piping bag to make the roses. Arrange them with at least an inch space between them.
Bake immediately (without putting them in the fridge) at 180 degrees for 15 minutes. 


Chestnut and dark chocolate ganache

Cream is enough for two doses of biscuits - so reduce by half or keep  in the fridge and use within a week.

 Products:

200 ml double cream
150 g dark chocolate
400 g chestnut purée
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Method:

Heat the double cream but don't let it boil. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate pieces into it. Keep stirring gently until dissolves. Leave to cool down, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Beat the chestnut purée with/or without some sugar. Beat the cooled ganache with the mixer for a minute and add the chestnut purée. Add the vanilla essence and continue to beat until homogeneous.

Join the ready biscuits with the cream.
They will taste even better on the next day.


Saturday, January 04, 2014

Christmas tree marshmallows for minted hot chocolate


Last year I made my first marshmallows - they were vanilla-flavoured and rolled in shredded coconut and cut in cubic shapes to mimic igloo blocks. That was for my son's Pingu themed birthday party last summer.
The marshmallows was quite a success and for me - relatively easy and straightforward to make. So they have been on my to cook list for quite a while.
Last Christmas I was thinking of a drink gift for the teachers and came up with the idea of mint-flavoured hot chocolate with marshmallows. Then the image of a hot cup of warm chocolate with floating green Christmas-tree marshmallows inside just popped into my mind and I knew what I was going to make.
Besides mint and chocolates are one of my top flavours for chocolate.
So here we go - I got the mini-Christmas tree cookie cutter I've got (I've got lots of cookies cutters) out of the cookie cutter storing box, prepared the gelatine, sugar and the mint essence, put the mixer on stand by and rolled up my sleeves.

The time needed until leaving the marshmallow mixture to dry is about 15-20 minutes. Setting time might take between 6 hours to overnight.
Well, cutting the actual shape of the marshmallows is a bit fiddly as they are stubbornly sticky and I had to wash the cutter every 5-6 cut shapes. So the final time would vary.


Recipe

Covers one 30x40 cm raised-edge oven tray - the thickness of the marshmallows is about 0.5 cm. If you need them thicker - use a smaller and deeper dish.



114 g powdered gelatin
90 ml water


1/2 tbsp mint extract
1 cups sugar
75 ml water
100 g golden syrup
1/4 tsp salt

green food colouring
rice four 
confectioner's sugar

Method


Sprinkle the gelatin in the cold water and leave to soak and absorb the water - 10 minutes. Then heat the mixture for a very short period - 1-2 minutes in bain marie or twice for 5 seconds in a microwave oven until it liquefies. Set aside.
In the meantime - the 10 minutes - combine the sugar, water, golden syrup and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil until it reaches the soft ball stage - 115 degrees C. 
Remove from heat and transfer to a bigger bowl. Add the liquefied gelatin and start mixing with a hand mixer at high speed for some 8 minutes. The mixture will expand absorbing air and change colour to opaque white and consistency to light and fluffy. At that stage add the mint extract and the colouring.

Line a the biscuit tray with parchment paper and spray with oil.
Transfer the mixture to the tray and leave for between 6 hours to overnight.
On the next day using oiled cookie cutter cut the desired shapes and roll into mixed rice flour and icing sugar.

Store in airtight container and sprinkle some over your hot chocolate, coffee, or even tea! :)



Sunday, July 21, 2013

1-2-3 Easy MedierrAsian Kebab Rice Rolls

mediterrasian spring rolls

Earlier in July this year the annual food bloggers conference - Food Bloggers Connect - celebrated its fifth anniversary in London - it was a great opportunity to meet old and new friends and getting insightful advice on running a food blog from different people related to the food and blogging industries.
It was also a time to learn that kids and plans seriously do not work well together as I was restricted in attending some most of the talks. *Note to self - no more booking full day conferences and events with babies under at least 1.5 years old.
But let's get back to the friends - I got a lovely gift basket from my friend Artemis of Greek food blog Wonderfoodland which included a traditional Greek thing called oxymel. I hadn't tried that before but according to the label it is a very old traditional mixture used to boost health and mentioned in ancient texts of Aristotle, Hippocrates snd Lysias and consists of honey, vinegar, wine, currants and figs. And it can be used as salad dressing - and what salad dressing!

I used it in this fast and easy recipe that combines my favourite flavours of Mediterranean and Asian foods - in the form of Vietnamese rice spring roll wrappers and minted cucumber cubes with fresh tomato salsa, Greek oxymel dressing and spiced pork pieces (any other ready doner kebab meat will do, or omit the meat completely for a vegetarian version).

Of course the wrappers will taste wonderful evven without the oxymel and I don't remember seeing it anywhere in stores in the UK. (I might be wrong.) It would be nice to try and make some own oxymel and I am writing that down for another time.

The freshness comes from the combination of fresh vegetables and mint and the uncooked wrapper - delicious guaranteed.

pork tomato salsa and minted cucumber rice wrap rolls


Instructions:

Makes 15 wraps

1. Cooked seasoned pork peaces - about 200 g (for convenience use kebab meat - chicken or lamb)

2. for the tomato salsa:

4 ripe tomatoes - chopped
1/2 red onion finely chopped
1 tbsp Greek oxymeli dressing

3. for the cucumber salad:

1 cucumber - chopped
3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

And the final ingredient : rice roll wrappers 

The rice rappers are sold in Asian supermarkets and do not requite cooking but only soaking in lukewarm water for 5-10 seconds until soft.
To make the cucumber salad just chop 1 cucumber and mix with fresh chopped mint leaves - set aside.
To make the tomato salsa - combine all the ingredients and set aside.

Heat the meat and start assembling!
You can use the oxymel for dipping if you'd like.

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