Wednesday 28 December 2011

Apple Tarte Tatin (Caramelised upside down apple tart)

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What's not to like about an Apple Tarte Tatin? The richness of the butter, caramelised sugar, light and flaky puff pastry all comes together with some tart apples to make one smashing dessert!! This is one dessert where I won't replace butter with olive oil as it has to be rich and decadent so there's no way around that except to use butter. Of course for me, this is definitely one to enjoy only on special occasions.
Don't be intimidated by this dessert as it's pretty easy to recreate this french classic at home especially when store bought puff pastry is used. Try it out and I'm sure you'll agree with me. ;)

Note: Tarte Tatin has to be made with firm dessert apples as cooking apples will just become a puree during the cooking process.
Recipe from Gordon Ramsay 3 Star Chef

3 large crisp dessert apples (such as Pink Lady, Braeburn or Cox)
180g ready-made puff pastry
50g cold unsalted butter
50g caster sugar

1) To prepare the apples, peel, core and quarter them, then lay out on a tray lined with kitchen paper. Leave to dry uncovered for 2-3 hours, or preferably chill overnight. Don't worry if they turn brown; they will be coated in caramel. ( I didn't leave them out to dry but it turned out fine too)
2) Have ready a 20cm shallow overproof pan. Roll out the pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and cut out a 24cm round, using a similar sized plate as a guide. Lift onto a baking sheet and chill while you prepare the filling.
3) Cut the butter into thin slices and scatter over the bottom of a 20 cm ovenproof pan. Sprinkle over the sugar. Arrange the apple quarters, neatly around the pan with one in the middle. Place over a medium heat until the butter and sugar have melted and formed a light caramel. Carefully shake the pan from time to time to ensure that the apples are well coated with the caramel and are evenly browned. Leave to cool slightly. 
4) When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200 deg celsius/ Gas 6. Drape the pastry over the apples and carefully tuck the edges down the sides of the pan. Place the pan in the hot oven and bake for 15 mins. Lower the oven setting to 180 deg celsius/ Gas 4 and bake for a further 15-20 mins until the pastry is golden brown and crisp. Leave to cool. 
5) Turn the tarte tatin onto a serving plate and serve with ice cream.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Super easy coconut cookies

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I came home from work on Friday night and really really wanted to have some coconut cookies. I've made Coconut shortbread cookies before but this time i really wanted a cookie with lots more chewy coconut goodness in it and made without butter. I also want it to be super easy as I just had a long week at work so I went surfing for recipe and found one from Best recipes that I could easily adapt. So off i went doing my usual practise of replacing butter with olive oil and reducing the amount of sugar and yes it was another winner of a cookie!!! It turned out crisp on the outside and chewy in the centre! Spectacular cookie this is as I couldn't stop eating them!!
This is a also great recipe for Christmas baking as it's extremely quick and easy. Perfect for some last minute baking treats! Merry Blessed Christmas everyone!!!
Ingredients (makes around 30 cookies)
Adapted from Best Recipes
1 heaped cup self raising flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup light olive oil

- Preheat oven to 180C/350F
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined
- Place teaspoonfuls of cookie dough on a baking tray, spaced about 3 cm apart
- Bake for 12 - 14 mins depending on how crisp you like it.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Winter in Pamporovo, Bulgaria

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It's Winter Solstice today, the start of winter, the shortest day, the longest night so it would have been perfect if it snowed, even if it was just a little. It didn't snow and in fact it felt warmer than usual for this time of the year, 10 deg to be exact so there's no hope of having a white Christmas this year. 
However, it sure brought back memories of the times when I was surrounded by snow, snow and more snow!! One of the best was when i went on a snowboarding trip with my friends a couple of years back. Yes, i fell countless times in my very poor attempt to snowboard and was one of my most tiring holiday ever but i thoroughly enjoyed myself, met some great people and of course took in the wonderful scenery that will forever be treasured. 
Absolutely loved just sitting down in the snow, enjoying the beautiful feeling of being up in the mountains. The quietness, tranquillity and fresh air gave me a good opportunity to think and reflect. It's a great place to go to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. I would really love to make another trip to the mountains to enjoy it all once again maybe with a mug of hot chocolate in front of the fireplace?

Sunday 18 December 2011

Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Squash Cupcakes!!

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 Here's another recipe from one of my more well used cookbooks at the moment, Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood. Having previously tried her Banana Courgette Bread and Aubergine Brownie which both turn out well, i was looking forward to try another one of her healthier but still tasty recipes! So i went 'a-flipping' and having just made some peanut butter cookies, the words peanut butter just popped out and of course since I'm not one who would pass up a chance to make something or rather anything with peanut butter this recipe became the chosen one! ;) 
The cupcake wasn't light as a cupcake should be as it was rather like a brownie, chocolatey, dense and the squash did its part to keep the cupcake moist. Though not a typical cupcake, it still taste pretty good especially with that awesome peanut butter icing! I was a little naughty  as i made a little more than the recipe called, fully intending to lick the bowl clean after I was done!!!! haha I think it'll be pretty good with a peanut butter icing filling too...peanut butter overdose?? I think not!!! ;) HO HO HO!!!
Adapted from  Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache
Makes 12 cupcakes
100g unsalted peanuts or ground almonds
3 medium free range eggs
200g brown sugar
200g peeled and finely grated butternut squash
100g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

60g smooth peanut butter 
2 tbsp golden icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
5 Tbsp boiling water

- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cases.
- If using peanuts, blitz them in a food processor until totally ground. Set aside.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes, until pale coffee coloured and fluffy. Next, whisk in the grated squash followed by the flour,peanuts or almonds, baking powder, cocoa and salt, until everything is well combined.
- Spoon the batter into the paper cases and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool the muffin tin on a rack for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes and continuing to cool completely.
- To make the icing, put the peanut butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder together in a small bowl and mix with the back of a spoon to form a paste. Next, slow incorporate the boiling water with balloon whisk, one spoonful at a time until  you get a smooth paste. Ice the cupcakes when completely cold.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Lentil and Chestnut Soup

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Am still in a soup frenzy after enjoying the delicious Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup and having seen this on the menu in St James Tavern recently(more on this in another post), I decided to cook it myself instead of ordering it as it can't be that difficult right? Well, I was partially right as I bought fresh chestnuts so peeling them were quite a chore! Other than that, this velvety and divine tasting soup was easy peasy and the husband loved it!! :)
Adapted from (serves 2-3)

125g red lentils
150g cooked chestnuts 
800ml vegetable stock
1 carrot
1 small onion
half leek
2 tablespoons olive oil
fresh coriander, chopped
Single Cream to serve

1.Finely chop the onion, leek and carrot.
2.Heat the oil in a pan, add the chopped vegetables and let sweat and soften in the oil.
3.Add the lentils and stir, then add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer until lentils are very soft (about 20 minutes).
4.Add the chestnuts and simmer for a further 15 minutes or so.
5.Liquidise until smooth adding as much water as you need.
6.Whenever you want to serve it reheat, and sprinkle each full bowl of soup with coriander and lace with cream.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

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I absolutely love peanut butter!! Whether it's in a sandwich or ice cream or milkshake or cookie or even on it's own... I adore it!!!!!!! It's something about the sticky, salty, sweet combination that made me fall in love with it and have you seen the scene in Meet Joe Black where Brad Pitt ate some peanut butter off the spoon? How can anyone not want to try some after watching that? Peanut Butter can be so sexy! hahaha
Alright, enough of that and back to the recipe. :P I suddenly felt like having some peanut butter cookies and since I always have peanut butter at home, i went searching for recipes. One in particular caught my eye as it didn't contain flour at all. The main ingredients were just peanut butter, sugar and eggs. As always, interesting recipes like this don't fail to intrigue me and I just had to try it out, again with some scepticism.
These turn out crispy on the side, a little chewy in the centre and it was stuffed with the taste of peanut butter so yeah! it's a winner!!!!!!!!
Adapted from All Recipes
Ingredients (Makes around 20)
1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup soft brown sugar 
(Note: Using Soft Brown Sugar will make the cookie softer. Use White castor sugar if you like a crisper one)
1 egg
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

- Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Grease cookie sheets.
- In a medium bowl, stir peanut butter and sugar together until smooth. 
- Beat in the egg  then stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. 
- Bake for 8 - 10 minutes in the preheated oven. 
- Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
This post has been submitted to the #cookielove bloghop! If you like to join in the fun, just link up any cookie recipe from the month of Dec 2011 to show some #cookielove!

Thursday 8 December 2011


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While surfing around for recipes, I came across the following on Nigella's website. Thought that it'll be handy to have this guide so I'm sharing it here. :)

UK/US Equivalent guide

Double cream Heavy cream
 Single cream Light cream
 Cornflour Corn starch
 Shortcrust Pie crust
 Caster sugar Superfine sugar
 Icing sugar Confectioners' sugar
 Grill Broil
 Aubergine Eggplant
 Courgette Zucchini
 Mangetout Snow peas
 Coriander Cilantro
 Clingfilm Saran wrap
 Beef mince Ground beef
 Prawns Shrimp
 Digestive biscuits Graham crackers (substitute)
 Sultanas Raisins
 Trifle sponges Ladyfingers
 Spring onions Scallions
 Semi-skimmed milk 2% milk
 Dark/plain chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) Bittersweet chocolate
 Milk/plain chocolate (less than 70% cocoa solids) Semi-sweet chocolate
Bicarbonate of soda Baking soda
HorlicksUK brand of malted milk powder
MaltesersUK brand of malted milk balls


Gas Mark 1140C275FVery cool
Gas Mark 2150C300FCool
Gas Mark 3160C325FWarm
Gas Mark 4180C350FModerate
Gas Mark 5190C375FFairly Hot
Gas Mark 6200C400FFairly Hot
Gas Mark 7210C425FHot
Gas Mark 8220C450FVery Hot
Gas Mark 9240C475FVery Hot


5 mlone-sixth fl oz1 teaspoon
15mlhalf fl oz1 tablespoon (NOTE: Australian tablespoon = 20ml)
30ml1 fl oz2 tablespoons
45ml1 and half fl oz3 tablespoons
60ml2 fl ozquarter cup
75ml2 and half fl ozone-third cup
125ml4 fl ozhalf cup
150ml5 fl oztwo-thirds cup
175ml6 fl ozthree-quarters cup
250ml8 fl oz1 cup
600ml1 pint2 and half cups
900ml1 and half pints3 and three-quarter cups
1 litre1 and three-quarter pints4 cups


Please note that these are approximations
1 cup sugar200g
1 cup icing sugar125g
1 cup flour140g
1 cup rice200g
1 cup frozen peas125g
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs70g
1 cup grated cheese100g
1 cup chocolate chips175g
1 cup sultanas150g
1 cup honey/syrup300g
1 stick of butter110g 4oz


15ghalf oz
30g1 oz
45g1 and half oz
60g2 oz
75g2 and half oz
90g3 oz
100g3 and half oz
125g4 oz
150g5 oz
175g6 oz
200g7 oz
250g8 oz
275g9 oz
300g10 oz
325g11 oz
350g12 oz
375g13 oz
400g14 oz
450g15 oz
500g1 lb


20cm8 inch
23cm9 inch
25cm10 inch


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