Spiced Buns with Walnuts

If you are like me, and not on friendly terms with the yeast dough, you will understand how thrilled I was with these buns when they came out of the oven. I found this recipe on LondonEats blog some time ago, they intrigued me as soon as I saw a combination of spices and walnuts on a list of ingredients. I followed the recipe closely, but made a few minor changes. The buns not only raised wonderfully, but the texture of the dough and taste are amazing too!

These sweet buns are perfect with tea and even better served still warm with glass of milk. They take a little while to make (mainly waiting for dough to rise), but are well worth the effort.

Spiced Walnut Buns

SPICED BUNS WITH WALNUTS

(Original recipe came from here)

Ingredients:

10g dried instant yeast

50g brown sugar

60g butter

150ml milk, luke warm

 1 egg

 ½ teaspoon salt

1 generous teaspoon cinnamon or mixed spice

325g plain flour

150g walnuts, roughly chopped

For the filling:

70g butter, soft at room temperature

70g caster sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon gingerbread spice mix

 3 tablespoons milk

 1 tablespoon plain flour

For the icing:

150g icing sugar
3 tablespoons boiling water

Method:

  1. In a large bowl rub the flour and butter with your fingers until the butter has been incorporated. Fold in the salt, sugar, mixed spice and yeast. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and the egg, then pour into the dry ingredients. Knead the dough well for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Leave the dough in a warm place for an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
  2. Knock down dough and roll out into a large rectangle. Spread the filling onto the dough and sprinkle over with chopped walnuts. Roll up loosely like a swiss roll. Cut into 12 equal slices and arrange slices onto a square tin lined with parchment paper tin. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190 C .
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. If they are browning too quickly, cover loosely with tin foil.
  5. Make a thin icing by combining icing sugar with a little water, and drizzle over buns while they are still hot.

Spiced Buns with Walnuts

Spiced Buns with Walnuts

Spiced Walnuts Buns

Black Bean Soup (Sopa de Frijol)

Beans are one of the staples of Mexican cuisine and they come in dozens of varieties. The simple recipe of cooking them gently with onion and an aromatic herb is, perhaps, the most common method of preparation for any beans.

Mexican Black Bean Soup

BLACK BEAN SOUP (SOPA DE FRIJOL)

Ingredients:

12 cup vegetable oil
250 g black beans, soaked overnight
12 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 white onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
To garnish:
 sour cream
about 100 g cubes of Feta cheese
handful spring onion and parsley, chopped
Method:
In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and peppers and cook until tender about 5-8 minutes. Stir in oregano and cumin, toss to coat vegetables. Pour in stock and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the beans are tender and cooked. Puree half of the soup in the blender until smooth and stir back into soup pot. Check for seasoning. Serve hot with garnishes.

Spiced Pear and Ginger Infused Vodka

After the successful making of Sloe Gin for the last few years, I wanted to try more. Here is the recent concoction, which also seems to be a success. We gave it to friend of ours as a present, she liked it and requested the recipe. So, Dina, here is the improved recipe for you 🙂

This is one of those recipes that requires a little time and a lot of patience, rather than skill, and the results are well worth it.

We opened my infusion at around 10 days and liked the flavour. However, the flavour will vary and will deepen with time. I suggest tasting it periodically until the depth of flavour is to your liking.

Spiced Pear infused Vodka

SPICED PEAR AND GINGER INFUSED VODKA

Ingredients:

2 pears, ripe, firm, cored and sliced

1 cinnamon stick

2-3 cm sliced ginger

7 whole cloves

4 cups vodka

1/3 cup sugar

glass jar with lid

Method:

Add all ingredients to the jar, seal, store in a dark, cool location. Taste at 5-7 days. If flavour is desireable, strain vodka into a clean jar and seal until using.

If deeper flavour is desired, continue to infuse until flavour is prefered then strain and seal in a clean jar.

Dried Apricot and White Chocolate Biscotti

Continuing the subject of festive biscotti recipes (you probably noticed that I do like biscotti), I’m gonna share with you another version of them. I found this recipe on the Juls Kitchen blog and wanted to try the authentic Tuscan version. The other thing that intrigued me, was that the recipe had no fat at all and also that you fold the dry ingredients into the heavy whipped egg white. As a result, I guess, the biscotti are quite hard, but they are perfect for dipping in dessert wine or coffee. And as any biscuits, they are perfect as gifts especially as they can be kept for a while.

Dried Apricot and White Chocolate Biscotti

DRIED APRICOT AND WHITE CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI

(Recipe adapted from Juls Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2 eggs, whites and yolks separated

200 g of sugar

225 g of all purpose flour

½ teaspoon of baking powder

125 g of dried apricots

80 g of white chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C, fan assisted.
  2. Whip the egg whites for about 5 minutes until they are firm, then add the sugar and whip until you get a glossy and thick meringue.
  3. Fold in thoroughly the egg yolks, then fold gently in the flour sifted with the baking powder. Mix in the dried apricots and the white chocolate chips.
  4. Line with parchment paper a large baking pan and with the help of a spoon form two loaves of dough keeping them well separated, about 5 cm wide and 30 cm long.
  5. Bake them for about 15 minutes, then remove them from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes and then cut them slantwise into 2 cm thick slices with a sharp knife, then arrange them cut-side-down in the baking tin and put them back in the oven for about 5 – 10 minutes, until toasted.
  6. You can store them in a tin for several days.

Dried Apricot and White Chocolate Biscotti

Hot Chocolate for Grown-ups

If you don’t like hot chocolate, it is probably because you’ve not tried a proper one. I grew up on a very nice but very milky hot chocolate, which was perfect at the time, as we were kids. However, our palettes are constantly changing and if you are like me you hanker for something more full-bodied, indulgent and decadent, forget instant hot chocolate! Stay here with me and try this for size.

There are a few steps to insure you’ll have a heaven in a mug:

  1. Go dark! Choose some good quality DARK chocolate. Not only will it give you a more intense flavour, but it has the added benefit of magnesium and iron. You can skip the cocoa powder, but I like to add a bit of it too, also dark and good quality.
  2. Go rich! While whole milk is the standard prescription for hot chocolate, the idea of  finishing the chocolate off with 200ml single cream brings the hot chocolate to another level, gives you luxurious silkiness in the mouth.
  3. Go crazy! Customise your drinks with the flavours you love.

Variety of Flavourings: Vanilla, Almond, Chilli, Cinnamon, Mint, Marshmallows, Hazelnuts, Shredded coconut. For the grown-ups version alcoholic additions: Brandy, Whisky, Irish Cream Liqueur, Hazelnut Liqueur or any Coffee flavoured Liqueur.

And what ever you do, always add a pinch of salt! While it is hard to pick up, it does make a big difference in taste, making it more chocolatey and intense.

Decadent Hot Chocolate

DECADENT HOT CHOCOLATE

Ingredients (for 2 mugs):

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon instant coffee

pinch of sea salt

1 1/2 cup milk (I use full-fat)

3/4 cup single cream or full-fat canned coconut milk

50-80 g dark chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2 tablespoons any preferred alcohol (optional)

Method:

In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, instant coffee and salt. Heat the milk and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer, stirring every few minutes. Sprinkle the dry chocolate mixture over the hot milk, turning the heat down to low. Whisk continuously until smooth (do not let it boil), then whisk in the chopped chocolate, vanilla extract and alcohol. Serve and enjoy!

 

Gingerbread Biscotti

Happy 2016, everyone! I hope your holiday was merry, festive, and relaxing. For some, the celebration still goes on (Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate the Orthodox Christmas!). Still in the festive spirit, I’d like to share with you a recipe for Gingerbread Biscotti, which we sampled in our house over the Christmas break. They are not too heavy or hard, perfectly spiced and ideal with a cup of hot chocolate.

Gingerbread Biscotti

GINGERBREAD BISCOTTI

(Recipe came from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (265 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring hands
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
A few grinds of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
100 grams butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1/2 cups toasted, chopped nuts or white or dark chocolate chunks (optional, I also, like the original author of the recipe, kept mine plain)
1 large egg white

Plus for sugar dipping (opional):

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 175C. Line one large or two small baking sheets (if yours are small you’ll probably prefer using two, as the logs will spread a lot) with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients — 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, baking powder, spices, pepper and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars, butter, 2 large eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients along with any optional additions (nuts or chocolate) to dry mixture and stir to combine. It’s going to seem a bit soft and sticky; it’s a-okay.
  2. Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, transfer first half to the prepared baking sheet(s) and form it into a slightly flatted log about 28 cm by 6 1/2 cm, going down one side of a baking sheet intended for two logs, or the center of a baking sheet intended for one log. Repeat with second half of dough. Whisk egg white in a small bowl until a little foamy and loose. Brush over top and sides of each log.
  3. Bake logs until golden brown all over, about 25 minutes. Transfer tray to cooling rack; let cool about 25 minutes, until lukewarm. Gently transfer each log to a cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife and gently sawing motion, cut logs on the diagonal into 1 cm wide slices. If using cinnamon-sugar, stir the two together and dip both cut sides in the mixture.
  4. Arrange slices, a cut side down, on baking sheet(s). Bake for another 10 to 12 minutes, until golden underneath. Turn each biscotti over and bake for a final 6 to 8 minutes, until lightly bronzed all over. Let cool on rack.

Gingerbread Biscotti