Archive for the ‘Recipes: Sweet’ Category

It’s late Wednesday morning, and even though I have to show up at work later this afternoon, I’m here tying an new entry in my abandoned food blog. Since leaving school I have felt free and liberated, but somehow I keep feeling like my 2 days off aren’t enough! That might be a universal feeling…

I’ve been cooking every week, going out to eat every week and sometimes even taking photos of the food I make — the photos never make it off my computer! Yesterday was an exception, as I got out of work at 3pm, and when I arrived back home I spied a new magazine on the table. When I ripped off the plastic I saw it was my monthly issue of Delicious. I’ve been really keen to cook cakes, biscuits and pastries every week so that I can get the most use out of my brand new cake stand and immediately decided on this delicious sounding little cake make with olive oil and white wine. Two of my favourite food ingredients. In about an hour and a half a I had this beautiful cake with a missing wedge perched on my cake stand calling my name every time I passed by. A slice of this cake straight out of the oven offers a delicate, crunchy crumb due to the addition of polenta. The day after, you get a bite that’s more firm, yet still delicate with a more uniform mouth feel — the polenta seems to have absorbed some of the moisture of the cake and made it easier to slice (read: too easy to eat).

If you want something a bit different, with a smooth mouth feel that’s not lent to butter than this is your cake. I can practically hear it beckoning me to life the cake dome and have another slice. It’s not even mid-day and I’ve already had two!

White Wine, Olive Oil and Polenta Cake

2 eggs

250 g castor sugar

150 ml white wine (like a sauv blanc or riesling)

150 ml olive oil

1 tps vanilla extract

the fine zest of 1 large lemon

175 g plain flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

85 g polenta

icing sugar, to dust

your favourite ice cream, to serve

Preheat your oven to 160 . Grease and line the base and sides of a 24 cm springform cake pan. Place the eggs and sugar in a clean bowl and whisk until the mixture is thick enough to form ribbons when you trail the surface. Next, gently beat in the white wine, olive oil, vanilla and lemon zest. Sift over the flour and baking powder. Finally, using a metal spoon (I used wooden…), fold in the polenta until just combined. Pour your mix into the cake pan and bake for about an hour until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cook for about 15 minute in the pan before removing it from the springform and transferring it to your serving plate or glorious cake stand. Dust your slice with icing sugar for effect and enjoy with ice cream for happiness.

Stay tuned for review of Gill’s Diner and 100 Mile Cafe…

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I went to bed last night determined to cook up a storm today. I regularly have Wednesdays off from work now so I like to use these free days to test whatever recipes have been floating around in my head for the past few days. I had some guava puree that was just screaming to have something done with it, Stephanie Alexander featured some sweet rhubarb recipes in this week’s Epicure and I’ve had a few limes lingering around the depths of my fruit bowl, so I went ahead and tried to base today’s cooking around those items. Alas, it has been raining all day, so I’ve been confined to using items I had on hand: limes and guava puree. I already knew I’d be satisfying my sweet tooth today so I also whipped up Espinacas con Garbanzos (spiced spinach and chickpeas), a typical dish from southern Spain, to counteract the massive amounts of sugar about to enter my body. I somehow ended up baking two vegan pastries: Citrus Tea Cake and Guava-Cinnamon Scrolls. Both taste nearly as good as heaven would taste if it were built from sugar, I reckon.

the fermentation batter

Rolling out the dough

Spreading the guava

Making the “sausage”

Resting scrolls

The finished product

Guava and Cinnamon Scrolls — makes 8 scrolls

fermentation batter —
6 g active dry yeast
125 ml water at 38º C (it should feel slightly warmer than your body)
50 g plain white flour or bakers flour
10 g sugar
**Dissolve the yeast in the water, then add the sugar until dissolved. Sieve the flour over the mixture, cover and allow to ferment for 25-30 minutes until frothy and collapsed.

the scroll dough–
100 g plain white flour or bakers flour
100 g plain wholemeal flour (substitute white flour if preferred)
2 g salt
30 g Nuttelex or other vegan margarine
20 g sugar
the filling–
40 g raw sugar
30 g Nuttelex or other vegan margarine, melted
ground cinnamon
160 g guava puree (optional)
**Combine all dry ingredients and sieve into a bowl. Rub the butter into the mixture until it resembles grains of sand. Make a well in the centre and pour the fermentation batter in it. Using a spatula, carefully fold the dry ingredients into the fermentation batter until thoroughly mixed. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Allow to rise in a warm, draught free place covered with plastic wrap or a moist tea towel for 40 minutes. Knock the dough back to its original size after 40 minutes, then allow to rise for an additional 20. Preheat oven to 210º C.
** Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a rectangle until dough is 1cm in thickness. Brush melted butter on surface, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Using a circular motion, use the back of a spoon to spread the guava paste over the entire surface. Roll the rectangle into a sausage from the shortest side and press the edge closed. Cut the roll into 5 cm slices with a serrated knife or a sharp knife and place onto a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper leaving 1-2 cm between each slice. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes then back for 10-15 minutes until the surface in light golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before dusting with pure icing sugar.
**In place of pure icing sugar, mix 1/2 cup of pure icing sugar with 1 tbs of soy milk and drizzle over the scrolls. The scrolls are equally as tasty without the guava filling, just sprinkle slightly more sugar over the dough.

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Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like something in between homesickness and nostalgic. I don’t really have a home — a place I can go to year after year to visit family and feel a sense of belonging even after years of absences — nor is is nostalgia because I definitely didn’t even want to be there when I did live there. I’m speaking mostly about Miami (in America, of course). I only lived there for 2 years of my 25, but each time I go back I find that I miss it a bit more each time I visit. I spent most summers there. As a child Miami meant pastelitos de guayaba, coconut ice cream, sweet biscuits with rainbow sprinkles that tasted a bit much like chemical raising agents, Cuban bread…Miami meant food, sweets and going to our favourite park.

On my last visit in Miami I indulged in many of my childhood favourites, including scarfing down nearly an entire box of pasta de guayaba (guava paste, pictured above) that has a layer of crema de leche as well. Yesterday I suddenly began craving pastelitos de guayaba or guava puff pastries and was determined to have some! Unfortunately I ate them before they could be chased down by the paparazzi to be photographed, but I do have the recipe left behind. Once I took a bite I was instantly transported back to those uncomfortable visits to my aunt’s house where she always greeted us with a box of pastries from the bakery. So. Yum.

Pastelitos de Guayaba

1 can of pink guava fruit
1 tsp lemon juice
100 g Castor sugar
100 ml water
5-6 sheets of puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg, for egg washing

Preheat your oven to 190º C. Open your can of guava fruit and remove the seeds and pulp. Save half of the liquid. Using a food processor or immersion hand blender, blend the fruit shells with the lemon juice and half of the can syrup until you’ve got a smooth paste. Place the paste into a saucepan and simmer for 15-20 minutes over low heat or until the paste has reduced a bit. Allow to cool slightly. Divide each sheet of puff pastry into 3 long strips. Smear a strip of guava paste down the center of one strip leaving space along all edges, moisten the 4 edges and place another strip over the first strip. Lightly press the edges and smooth them out making sure not to squeeze any of the paste out. Repeat the process until you’ve used up all of your puff pastry strips.

Place your strips on a lightly oiled tray, brush with some beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. While the pastries are baking, combing the sugar and water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minuets to create a simple sugar syrup.

When your pastries are golden brown, brush their surfaces with the simple sugar syrup and bake for an additional 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool slightly. Slice each strip into 4 squares and enjoy! As a side note the pastries would definitely benefit from using a commercially prepared guava paste or by reducing your canned guava paste down to a thicker consistency to intensify the flavour.

It’s needless to say that during my next trip to Miami I’ll be buying everyone Cuban cooking product I can get my hands on, as this time around my suitcases were already too full with my life’s belongings.

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It’s been a lazy morning. This is my first Monday off since November and it feels so luxurious to be able to wake up late and not really have much to do during the day. Will requested French Toast for breakfast; I was going to make eggs Florentine. I thought about making pancakes, but later decided on the French Toast as it didn’t require going to the supermarket to get the eggs and lemon required for the eggs Florentine. Once again, tofu has surprised me with it’s versatility. This is simply the best recipe for French Toast…and it’s vegan:

Monday French Toast

1 pkg of silken firm tofu
15 ml vanilla extract
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 pinch of salt
1 tsp olive oil, or any other oil you have on hand
100-150 ml of vanilla soy milk
6 slices wholemeal bread (I used soy and linseed for texture

1. Toast your bread. Set aside.
2. Blend all of the ingredients in a blender and transfer to a bowl.
3. Heat an oiled fry pan over medium heat and dip your toast into the batter ensuring that both sides are covered.
4. Place in the fry pan and cook each side for 1-2 minutes until golden brown.
5. Keep warm in an 180ºC oven until ready to eat. Enjoy with icing sugar and/or honey.

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Despite a few disapproving nibbles from Will pre-dinner party, the menu came out wonderfully. The handmade gnocchi (which really don’t compare to those solid chewy nuggets available at Coles or Safeway), the kofta balls…but most of all the baked pear with pine nut streusel, which I’m most proud of because it was an invention of my own, vegan and utterly tasty.

For the sake of the vegan challenge I’ll only post the recipes for the vegan items, sans photos due to a camera that is nowhere to be found. I must admit that my first week of the challenge didn’t go well as I mustered up only 1 vegan meal and 1 vegan dessert. In addition to that, I’ve just planned and cooked meals for the rest of the week only to realise at the very last minute that the only vegan meals for this week are hardly anything exciting: Thai stir fry and lentil-stuffed eggplant. I simply just forgot! I’ve been vegetarian for so long that cooking with or without dairy and eggs is not a decision I make with any effort. I simply just cook without meat and without too much abuse of dairy and eggs.

Without anymore delay due to rambling, here are the recipes for the kofta balls and the baked pears:

Vegetable & Tofu Kofta Balls adapted from The Soy Alternative
250 g firm tofu, crumbled in the blender
40 ml olive oil
185 g pumpkin, grated
100 g zucchini, grated
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 small shallots, finely chopped
7 g fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
150g wholemeal flower
2 tsp salt
vegetable oil, for deep frying

1. Cook the pumpkin, zucchini, onion and garlic over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool.
2. In a bowl combine the tofu, shallots, parsley, curry powder, 75 g of the flour and the salt. Mix well. Roll about a tablespoon of the mixture into a ball using your hands then coat in flour. Repeat until all the mixture has been used.
3. Fill a saucepan one third full of oil and heat until a cube of bread browns in 15 seconds. Cook the kofta balls in small batches until golden brown. Drain only for a moment on paper towels then transfer to a cooking rack to eat right away or to a tray placed in the oven at 100ºC.

Baked Pear with Pine Nut Streusel
2 Bosch Pears
1/2 of a lemon
1/3 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup Nuttelex, or other vegan margarine
1/3 cup Castor sugar, plus 1 tsp
2/3 cup of wholemeal flour

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Leaving the stems attached, peel the pears, slice them in half and remove the seeds to create a small hollow to be used for filling with the strudel. Once peeled, lay on a greased loaf pan, squeeze the lemon juice over them and sprinkle with 1 tsp of the sugar.
2. To make the streusel combine the remaining ingredients to create a mixture resembling bread crumbs.
3. Divide the strudel into 4 equal portions and spoon into the hollows in each pear.
4. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes until the strudel has browned. Then cover with foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until a toothpick is easily inserted diagonally through the pear. This can be prepared ahead of time and simply reheated until the grill before serving.

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Jam Fingerprint Biscuits — scoring high on the cute factor

We had a late start this morning and didn’t get around to breakfast until almost mid-day. The most productive thing I did was collect a parcel at the post, which was my last Christmas gift to myself: Vegetarian Supercook by Rose ElliotI spent way too much time “oohing”, “aahing” and squeaking with delight at Cute Overload; a website that exists for no other reason that to display cute objects, mostly animals. I decided to make some really small biscuits that I could call cute and gobble up. I modified this recipe and used wholemeal flour instead. They were so good we ate them almost immediately after the jam had cooled enough to not scorch the roofs of our mouths. It’s a rather simple recipe that produces one yummy treat. Dinner for today consisted of these jam biscuits and oven roasted paprika potato wedges — we ate the wedges before I could take their photograph. Rather yum as well.

Jam Fingerprints (makes 12 very small biscuits)

55 g Flora or butter
35 g raw sugar
1 egg yolk
75 g wholemeal flour
24 g jam, any flavour of choice

1. Preheat your oven to 190ºC. Cream the butter, egg yolk and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Slowly add the flour while mixing until everything is combined. The dough should be slightly sticky and smooth. Divide the dough into 12 portions, roll into balls and place on an oiled baking tray. Use your index finger to form a small indentation in the centre of each ball. Fill each indentation with 2 g of jam in your flavour of choice and bake for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack too cool and enjoy!

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I needed to entertain myself this morning by channeling my anger and frustration over work (or lack thereof) into something positive. So, I challenged to hijack a recipe and turn it into something I could make using ingredients I had on hand. Using the Cranberry-Orange bread recipe from What do I know?, I created a delicious Banana-Orange Piñon Bread finished with a very light drizzle of honey. The result: a perfectly sweet, moist bread where all three flavours are winners — nutty undertones, a burst of citrus and the natural sweetness of the banana. At about 100 calories per slice and 100% wholemeal, one can’t go wrong with this sweet bread.

Banana-Orange Piñon Bread (makes 10 tea time slices)
150 g plain wholemeal flour
65 g raw sugar
3 g baking powder
2 g baking soda
1 g salt
15 g pine nuts, roughly chopped by hand
3 g orange zest
60 ml of freshly squeezed orange juice
85 g banana, mashed
22 g Flora Light brand table spread, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract (imitation is OK)
40 ml soy milk
honey, for drizzling

1. Preheat your oven to 180º C. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, add the orange zest and table spread and put in the microwave until melted. Stir the mixture and add the mashed banana, soy milk and vanilla until thoroughly blended.
2. Add the banana-orange mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a flexible spatula so the bits of banana can be mashed into the mixture until smooth. The batter should be fairly thick.
3. Pour the batter in a greased loaf pan using the spatula to ensure that the batter is covering the entire bottom of the pan.
4. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the centre of the bread.
5. Allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack and then lightly drizzle with honey vertically, horizontally and diagonally.

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Mini Wholemeal-Banana Muffins

For some reason or another I’ve been in the mood to make things, so I made some wholemeal banana muffins just a while ago after finding a recipe at Pinch My Salt. I modified it a bit, as usual, because I don’t like adding nuts to anything that I eat or bake, I don’t cook or bake with proper butter (I use Flora or Nuttelex) and I always feel the need to be a bit creative. I, of course, put aside my creative juices when working in someone else’s kitchen with someone else’s recipes.

Regardless of not following an exact recipe, they came out well. Moist, full of banana flavour and just the right amount of density considering they are 100% wholemeal. I reduced the amount of sugar, added a bit more banana so I wouldn’t have to throw any of it away and added a bit more vanilla for taste. They are fabulous to enjoy with a cup of chai or green tea, or any tea, really.

100% Wholemeal Mini Banana Muffins
50g Flora light
50g raw sugar
1 egg
140g mashed banana, about 1 medium-sized banana
1 tsp vanilla extract
120g wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Mix all wet ingredients and sugar together, except for the banana. When a creamy mixture has been formed add the banana and mix in.
3. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Divide the batter between 12 muffin baking cups and bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffins comes out clean. I have a convection oven, so it might take slightly longer in a conventional oven.

Approx. nutritional value per serve: 83 calories, 3 g fat, 2 g protein, 185mg sodium, 20 mg cholesterol, 1 g fibre; courtesy of Calorie-Count.

I’m a real advocate of using whole grains versus refined flours. Most recipes suggest using a 50/50 measurement of whole grain to white flours to avoid a very dense end product, but I’ve haven’t had too many issues just yet. I made my pizza crusts with wholemeal flour, even a chai cake. Foods made with whole grain flours need extra ingredients for moisture control. When I make pizza dough I have to knead it a bit more to achieve the same results as I would with white flour. Plus, whole grains keep you fuller for longer and if you can eat cakes and sweets while getting at least some sort of nutritional advantages, then why not?

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