West African Peanut Butter & Sweet Potato Stoup

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Inspired by a fellow blogger, I finally cooked a long desired West African Soup, however, I chose to call it ‘stoup’, as it was thicker than a soup, thinner then a stew. It is full of rich flavours, has a kick and it is a perfect autumnal dish. The only thing, I didn’t have tomatoes, cabbage or cashew nuts on hand when I made this, so I compensated by increasing the quantities of some other ingredients.  As suggested by Sophie I served it with brown rice and added a chilli flat bread, made by Mark 🙂

WEST AFRICAN PEANUT BUTTER & SWEET POTATO STOUP

Ingredients:

2 onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 red & 1 orange peppers, diced

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced in cubes

scotch bonnet or other preferred chillies to taste

2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons tomato paste

8 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter

1.5 litre water

2-3 tablespoons oil

salt/pepper to taste

 Plus brown rice to serve

Method:

1. Heap up the oil in a large heavy bottom pan, add the onion, garlic, chillies, sauté until golden brown and translucent. Add the bay leaves, coriander, tomato paste, add a few tablespoons of water and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.

2. Then add diced peppers and sweet potatoes, peanut butter, salt and pepper, cover everything with water (or stock, if you prefer), bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked through and liquid thickened, stir occasionally (otherwise the peanut butter can settle on the bottom of the pan).

3. Taste it, adjust the seasoning and turn off. I cooked this a day before we ate it, like suggested and I absolutely agree, it tastes even better the next day, all the flavours became even more vivid. Serve it with fresh bread, brown rice or bulgur.

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Cake for my Grandad

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There were two reasons for celebration today, one of them is officially first day of Autumn,but also it is my Grandad’s Birthday! Although, because of the distance, we couldn’t join him to share this occasion, I couldn’t resist to bake a cake in his honour. I chose a cake which, I think he would like. My Grandad doesn’t like anything fancy, he likes humble rustic food and flavours, and if it comes to bakes, he prefers the solid and buttery cakes , which go well with his gigantic and endless cups of coffee. So here it is, – a rustic looking cake, buttery, nutty and earthy with a dash of espresso in it.

ALTERNATIVE COFFEE CAKE

Ingredients:

For the cake:

200g butter, room temperature

200g sugar

3 eggs

200g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

100g any nuts you prefer, chopped (I used walnuts only)

50 ml espresso coffee

1-2 tablespoons brandy

For the topping:

50g plain flour

100g nuts, chopped

75g sugar

75g butter

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Beat the butter and sugar until pale, add the eggs, one by one. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and  nuts in a separate bowl and add into the butter mixture, followed by shot of espresso and brandy. Stir until it well combined. Spread the mixture into the prepared (buttered and lined with the baking paper) tin. Set aside.

3. For the topping, mix all the ingredients in a bowl until the mixture resembles a crumble. Spread all over the cake and place it in the oven. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until wooden stick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

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As a result, you’ll ended up with sort of marble effect cake with a dark coffee flavoured layer on the bottom and slightly pale version, coffee free layer on top.

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Happy Birthday, Grandad! 😉 xxx

Cabbage Fritters

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These crispy fritters can be made as a starter or as a main meed-week meal. It is also a perfect way to use up your leftover vegetables or as an ’emergency’ meal at the end of the month, as it only requires a few ingredients and it is easy to double or triple the quantities of your favourite veg.

CABBAGE FRITTERS

Ingredients:

1/2 head of white cabbage, finely shredded

1 carrot, grated

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2-3 tablespoons flour

2 eggs

salt & pepper to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil to fry

any hard cheese, grated, to serve (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 120C.

2. Put the prepared vegetables (shredded cabbage and grated carrot) in a bowl, add the eggs, flour, ground cumin, salt and pepper and stir until combined.

3. Add the olive oil in a large frying pan set over a medium heat. When the oil is hot (but make sure it’s not too hot, otherwise the fritters will become brown very quickly but will remain uncooked in the middle), spoon the fritters with a large spoon on a pan, leaving a bit of space between each one. Cook the fritters in two batches for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden.

4. Drain on a kitchen towel and transfer to the oven to keep them warm, meanwhile you cook the remaining fritters. Add the remaining oil before cooking the second batch. Serve the fritters with grated cheese on top or simply with soured cream mixed in with dollop of horseradish.

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Gooey Banana Flapjacks

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These are very gooey and chewier than most of the flapjacks because of the mashed banana.
Adapted from BBC ‘101 Cakes & Bakes’ book.

BANANA FLAPJACKS

Ingredients:

150g butter

80g sugar

2 heaped tablespoons golden syrup

350g porridge oats (not jumbo oats)

1 ripe banana

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 baking powder

pinch of salt

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Butter a tin (I used 22 x 22 cm).

2. Melt together the butter, sugar and syrup in a large saucepan over a low heat, then stir in the oats, cinnamon, baking powder and a pinch of salt, until well combined. Peel and mash the banana, and add it to the mixture, mix to combine. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with the spatula or a metal spoon.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden brown. The mixture will feel fairly firm when you touch it.

4. Transfer the tin onto the wire rack and cut the mixture into the bars while still hot, then leave to cool completely before removing it out of the tin.

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Blackberry & Apple Crumble

If you are fortunate enough to live in a countryside or near by, you have to try hard not to spot the hedgerows of blackberries, as they are everywhere, they are the stars of the season right now. Although any sort of crumbles are usually associated with the cold weather, however blackberry picking  is a great way of sourcing perfect and very cheap summer pudding, which is so good with a dollop of any (single, clotted, ice) cream.

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BLACKBERRY AND APPLE CRUMBLE

Ingredients:

200g blackberries

2 apples

3 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For Crumble topping:

100g butter

60g sugar

100g flour

50g oats

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream to serve

Method:

1. Preheat the over to 190C. To make the crumble topping, put all dry ingredients along with butter in a food processor and pulse it all few times until the mixture resembles light breadcrumbs texture. Alternatively, you can make it by hand, using your fingertips. The only thing, you shouldn’t over work it, otherwise the crumble will be rather heavy.

2. Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks. Place the apples in a large buttered ovenproof dish, layer the blackberries on top, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and cover with the crumble topping evenly all over the fruits.

3. Bake it for about 45 minutes or until the fruits are cooked, bubbling juices seep through the topping and the crumble topping is golden coloured. Let it cool a few minute before serving with cream, ice cream or custard. 🙂

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Chocolate Pear and Cardamon Cake

We are thinking to go away this week-end, so, last night I wanted to make some cake which would be easy to take with us and to have as a snack with a coffee or even as a breakfast cake. I had basic ingredients in a cupboard and three ripe pears. Pears and chocolate, chocolate and cardamon, cardamon and pears, these are the classic combinations, so why not to mix them together. This is very easy to make but delicious, light and fragrant everyday cake. Pears give a nice texture and make the cake moist. Serve it still a bit warm with cream or an ice-cream, as a pudding, or let it cool completely and have it as is with coffee or chai latte 🙂
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CHOCOLATE PEAR AND CARDAMON CAKE

Ingredients:

3 ripe pears, peeled, cored, chopped into chunks

1 cup plain flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

100g butter

150g dark chocolate

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

6-7 cardamon seeds, peeled & powdered
(you can opt out the cardamon seeds if you don’t like the taste of cardamon)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170C.

2. In one bowl combine together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, powdered cardamon & salt, put aside.

3. In another bowl, place butter and chocolate, melt it, using the microwave or bain-marie method. Stir well to combine butter and chocolate, add sugar and beat well, using mixer. Add eggs, one at the time, beating well in between. Then add in flour mixture, alternating with milk. Make sure it is mixed well before transferring in to the prepared, buttered and lined with the paper tin (I used 20x20cm square one).

4. Carefully distribute the chopped pears on top of the batter and bake for about 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out dry when you insert it in the middle of the cake. Let the cake to cool for about 15 minutes. Dust with icing sugar.

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Day on Isle of Portland

A giant lump of largely treeless land jutting out from the sea and connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway, the ISLE OF PORTLAND is a strange place. Labelled the ‘Gibraltar of Wessex’ by Thomas Hardy, it’s best know for its hard white stone, which has been quarried here for centuries.First impression is not very appealing – with an industrial port and quarries, towns as hard and unforgiving looking as the rocks themselves – but head for the far side of the island and you may well acquire a taste for the strange landscape. 
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Camping on The Jurassic Coast

I apologise to everyone waiting for a recipe from me, as I’m not going to do it this time …again. I’ve been neglecting the kitchen for the time being, meanwhile we are trying to take advantage of the Indian Summer here. Back home we call it ‘Babie Leto’, which actually translates like ‘Women’s Summer’.  I heard it originates from years ago, when our country’s economy was dominated by agriculture, and this time of year was the time when women finished working the fields and had sort of small break before preparing the harvest for the winter. Usually it coincided with the good weather, hence the name.

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Anyway, enough of history and legends, the Indian summer or whatever it’s called is here and now. In some ways it is a melancholy period, as the days are shorter, sunlight is ever so white and the mornings meet you with thick fog and mist. However, the days are gloriously warm and perfect for hiking, camping and all sorts of outdoor activities, even swimming.

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So, we took this opportunity to go camping and explore some new to us places in Dorset. We found a great base camp for it – The Eype House campsite, with its great cliff-top location and amazing views over the sea.

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The campsite is positioned at the bottom of the small picturesque village Eype, whose name actually means ‘steep place’. The village is spread across the hills and dips down to a quiet pebble beach.

It is not too difficult to walk along the beach for a couple miles, and all of a sudden to end up almost in the middle of Bridport. You can do it even quicker and easier to take a walk over the cliff-top, but it’s more fun and definitely less people if you do it via the beach. You won’t regret it, as you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views.

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One of the the highlights of our first day was our supper on the beach. The supper itself wasn’t anything special due to our new gas cooker, which turned out to be not very wind proof, but even a simple brioche bacon butty we had there tasted amazing at the time because of the surroundings!

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