Peanut Butter & Jam Pinwheel Biscuits

This recipe comes from the Hummingbird Bakery book and is fun, both the process and the result. The flavour combination is classic and one of my favourites, and I love the idea incorporating this into cookies. Taste wise, they are not quite crunchy, they are more on cake side. Somewhere between soft cookies and shortcakes. They are absolutely delicious, but next time I would like to replace raspberry jam with a cranberry one, maybe.

Peanut Butter & Jam Pinwheel Cookies

PEANUT BUTTER & JAM PINWHEEL BISCUITS

Recipe came from the Hummingbird Bakery book  ‘Home Sweet Home’

Ingredients:

60g raspberry jam

1 tsp cornflour

100g unsalted Butter, softened

100g crunchy peanut butter

100g Sugar

1 egg

2 tbsp whole milk

340g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp Salt

Method:

1. Cut two sheets of baking paper to 38 x 25cm and set aside.

2. Mix the jam & the cornflour in a small bowl and stir until the flour has dissolved. Leave aside until needed.

3. In a large bowl with an electric whisk mix together the butter, peanut butter & the sugar until light & fluffy. Then add in the egg and the milk and mix until fully incorporated.

4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda & the salt. Then, a spoonful at a time, add the flour to the peanut butter mixture until it forms a dough.

5. Now get the 2 baking paper sheets you cut out earlier. Place the dough mix onto one of them and press down into a rough rectangle. Then place the second sheet on the top and roll it out so the dough reaches the edge of the baking paper. Gently roll out the dough until it reaches the edges. Take off the top sheet and smear the jam mixture to cover the dough.

6. Now for the tricky bit. Carefully roll up the dough using the baking paper as a tool to help you. Roll it as tight as you can, you don’t want any gaps between layers. Take your time with this, you don’t have to rush it. When you’ve reached the end, make sure you seal the seam on the bottom then wrap it up in cling film.

7. Leave this in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, or better yet, overnight. It makes it far easier to cut into slices & it will bake better too. (When the dough is cold it won’t spread too much so the biscuits will keep their shape.)

Once the dough is completely chilled, Preheat your oven to 170°C/Fan 150°. Cut the log into 2cm thick slices and place onto a baking tray. You may need to cook them in batches so as not to overcrowd the tray, or use multiple trays.

8. Place into the oven and bake on the middle shelf for about 12-13 minutes until they’re a light golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before consuming.

Moroccan Lentil and Lamb Stew

It’s a really hearty, earthy, yet fruity light dish. I can’t say it’s the most presentable creation as the red cabbage lends a distinctive monotone colouring to the whole thing. However, if not made for dinner party, it will impress just as well as a mid week supper. This dish is a winner and a budget friendly one too. I served it with a yoghurt and tahini lemon drizzle to top, but it’s just as good on it’s own.

Moroccan Lamb and Lentil Stew

MOROCCAN LENTIL AND LAMB STEW

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves,  finely chopped

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons ground coriander

pinch ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 teaspoon za’tar (optional)

350 g dried green lentil, rinsed

1.5 litre chicken stock

1/2 small red cabbage, finely shredded

400 g lamb leg steaks, diced

50 g dried apricots, chopped

50 g dried currants, chopped (optional)

1 lemon, for squeezing

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a large casserole heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add the diced lamb and brown over a high heat until it just cooked. Set aside.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the casserole and gently cook the onion until softened. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add the spices and cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Add the lentil and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cabbage and cook, covered, for 30-35 minutes, until the lentil are tender.
  4. Stir in the apricots, currants and lamb for the final 10 minutes of cooking time.
  5. Check seasoning, squeeze some lemon juice, serve on its own or drizzle with Yoghurt & Tahini dressing.

Yoghurt & Tahini Dressing:

1/4 cup tahini paste, at room temperature

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups plain yogurt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Mix by hand or blend in a food processor everything up and drizzle on top.
  • The tahini sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.

Moroccan Lentil and Lamb Stew

Carrot and Coconut Cake

If you like carrot cake and you adore coconut flavour, combining these two in one cake seems like a rather nice idea. This is a tall and gorgeous carrot cake with a rich coconut cream cheese frosting. And true to its double idenity, it’s both healthy and naughty at the same time. 
As always, I was rather in haste when baking this cake, hence the lack of finishing/decoration. However, for the real show stopper, you can decorate as elaborate as you like, and I would definitely add a lot of fresh or toasted coconut shavings on the top.
Carrot and Coconut Cake

CARROT AND COCONUT CAKE

Ingredients:

2 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 cup walnuts, chopped

3  teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups finely grated peeled carrots

2 cups chopped pineapple (or crushed pineapple in its own juice from the can, well drained)

For frosting:

300g package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon coconut flavouring

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted (optional)

Method:

1.Preheat oven to 170C. Butter the cake pans (two of four). Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Combine all dry ingredients but walnuts in a medium bowl.

2. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in dry flour-spice mixture. Stir in  walnuts, carrots and pineapple.

3. Divide batter among pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 1 hour. Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely. If you used only two pans (instead of four), you might need to slice each cake in half, before frosting.

4. Meanwhile the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, alternating with heavy cream. Beat in the salt, coconut flavouring and vanilla extract. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and spreadable. Add additional confectioners’ sugar if necessary to thicken the frosting, or more cream to thin. Stir in the coconut. If desired, spoon toasted coconut evenly over frosted cake.

Potato Pancakes

To celebrate The Pancake Day (yesterday) I chose a less conventional recipe for pancakes. Someone, probably, would debate even if you can call them ‘pancakes’, but that’s how we call them at home and I will continue to do so.

When we grew up, we didn’t really have any ‘take away’ places and the only ‘fast food’ we knew, it was the food made by our Mums and Babushkas. It was always the food with few ingredients, probably not always healthy (but what sort of  ‘fast food’ is?), but always comforting and delicious! These pancakes are in that ‘fast food’ range. And you don’t need to wait for Pancake Day to have it really, it’s perfect any time, when you crave for the comfort food.

Potato pancakes / Druniki

POTATO PANCAKES

Ingredients:

4 potatoes, peeled

4 tablespoons plain floor

2 eggs, lightly beaten

salt to taste

vegetable oil for frying

soured cream for serving

Method:

  1. You can grate finely, coarselyor mince the potatoes by hand, or you can simply put it in a food processor and blitz it until it becomes fine mass without any big pieces (imagine you blend the soup, so the consistency of the potatoes should be like that).
  2. Add the eggs, flour, salt and mix thoroughly to avoid lumps.
  3. In a pan pour oil, wait until its hot (but not burning!), put potato mixture with a spoon. Fry each side until brown, flip. The pancakes brown rather quickly, so do not walk away very far from the pan, keep an eye on them.
  4. When the pancakes are cooked put then on kitchen towel to drain the excess of the oil. Serve meanwhile they are hot, on its own or preferably with soured cream.

Potato Pancakes

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

Here is the one of many versions of the traditional dish from your local Chinese takeaway. Chicken breasts are coated in a light batter, then fried along with any vegetables of your choice, before being served with a tangy lemon sauce. Serve with rice or noodles.

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

LEMON CHICKEN STIR-FRY

Ingredients:

1 lemon

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon groundnut oil

2 skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 2 cm pieces

 1 cup fresh or frozen sweetcorn

1 yellow pepper, diced or sliced

3-4 spring onions, chopped

sesame oil, for drizzling over (optional)

Method:

  1. In a bowl zest 1 teaspoon lemon zest, juice the lemon and whisk 3-4 tablespoons of the juice with water, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add sliced pepper, cook for another 3 minutes, add sweetcorn, continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.
  3.  Whisk the sauce mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spring onion at the end of cooking and serve with rice or noodles.

Lemon Chicken Stir-fry

Happy Chinese New Year 2016 to everyone who celebrates! Best wishes to all!

Lentil Stoup with Italian Sausage

This is a take on Italian Cotechino with lentils, a dish traditionally eaten during Christmas time. It is believed to bring good luck to those that eat it in the year to come. I said it is ‘our take’ because the original version is more like a thick stew, but our came out something between stew and soup, so stoup it is. In any way I love both versions and it is really up to you to make as thick or thin as you like. You can easily double or triple the recipe and make ahead too.

  • It isn’t necessary to soak the lentils, you can even use canned lentils too, but if you have time, please try soaking it overnight prior to cooking, as it’s worth it. It becomes much more tender and absorbs all flavours even more.
  • Also, when you cook lentils, remember to salt them at the end of cooking, rather than the beginning, so that they don’t remain hard.

Lentil Stoup with Italian Sausage

PUY LENTIL STOUP WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dry thyme

1 bay leaf

2-3 large carrots, chopped

2-3 large ribs celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

400 g brown or green dry lentils, preferably soaked overnight (optional)

1 tomato (chopped)

3 cups water

3 cups chicken stock or water

1/2 pound Italian sausage (mild, sweet, or spicy, your choice)

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Method:

1. Heat a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add a little olive oil and, once hot, add the onion, thyme and bay leaf. Once the onion is translucent, but not yet brown, add the carrots, celery, cook further for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the lentils, and add them also. Saute for 30 seconds, then add the tomato. Mix well and cover with stock.

2. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft, but aren’t falling apart.

3.  While the lentils are cooking, heat a frying pan on medium heat. Add the Italian sausage (you can fry whole sausages and cut onto the smaller chunks later, but I removed the outer skin of the sausage and broke into smaller pieces by hand). Gently cook, browning pieces all over, until just cooked through. Remove from pan and add to stew for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

4. At the end of the cooking, add a splash of vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste.