Panna Cotta with Thyme, Lemon and Blueberries

This is one of the easiest recipe for creamy panna cotta, infused with thyme and lemon, and served with berry sauce.

Panna Cotta with Thyme, lemon and blueberries

PANNA COTTA WITH THYME, LEMON AND BLUEBERRY SAUCE

(Based on Simon Rimmer’s recipe)

For panna cotta:

3 gelatine leaves

250 ml milk

250 ml double cream

1/4 cup sugar

about 3-4 sprigs of thyme

1/2 lemon zest

For blueberry sauce:

1 cup blueberries

1/4 sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

water, if needed to thin out the sauce

Method:

  1. Soak the gelatine leaves in a little cold water, set aside until soft.
  2. Place the milk, cream, sugar lemon zest and fresh thyme into a pan and bring to a simmer. Remove the thyme springs and discard.

  3. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, then add to the pan and take off the heat. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

  4. Divide the mixture among four ramekins and leave to cool. Place into the fridge for at least an hour, until set.

  5. To make the sauce place the blueberries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the blueberries are hot and popped. Remove from heat and add in the lemon juice. Add water, if needed, to achieve the proper consistency. Allow to cool completely before topping the panna cotta.
  6. To serve, turn each panna cotta out onto a serving plate. Spoon over the sauce and garnish with more fresh blueberries.

Baked Lamb Meatballs in Tahini Sauce

Baked Lamb Meatballs in Tahini Sauce

Although we don’t eat lamb (or meat in general) very often, if I had to choose, lamb definitely would be one of my favourites. I like slow roasting the shoulder or leg of lamb, but I’ve never cooked a rack of lamb before, somehow I worry that I’ll mess the timing up and it’ll be dry and chewy. Luckily there are plenty of other ways to enjoy lamb, like these baked lamb meatballs. I’ve been experimenting with these meatballs lately, adding different spices, and so far I like this way the best. Especially the addition of cinnamon and ginger makes such a big difference. Another advantage of this dish is that it takes no time to cook, but you’ll have dish full of flavours.

BAKED LAMB MEATBALLS IN TAHINI SAUCE

Ingredients:

500g lamb mince

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/3 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped

For the sauce:

1/2 cup tahini

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

salt & pepper to taste

chopped fresh mint/ pistachios to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the lamb, onion, garlic, spices, olive oil and coriander, using metal spoon or just using your hands. Shape the mixture into the meatballs and arrange them in a single layer in a baking dish.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile the meatballs in the oven, combine the tahini, lemon juice, cumin and slowly add 3/4 cup of water to create a smooth sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the sauce over the partially baked meatballs and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until meatballs are thoroughly cooked. The sauce will look like a thick glaze.  Garnish with chopped nuts or mint. Serve with boiled rice/spinach pilau rice or lentil.

Baked Lamb Meatballs in Tahini Sauce

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Crunch Cake

This tray bake is for anyone who really likes peanut butter, just like my boyfriend, who can eat it with a spoon from the jar, instead of lunch, occasionally. The bake has both peanut butter in the cake mixture and also in the contrasting chocolate layering, which will swirl by itself when in the oven. For extra texture, you can scatter some chopped peanuts on the chocolate layer. I used crunchy peanut butter for the filling and smooth for the base mixture. The cake is dense, so better serve with cream or even  ice cream, to take it to the next level.

This recipe is taken from ‘Baked in America’ book, which I found rather good. It is full of exiting recipes that I never heard of, like Pennsylvania Dutch spice loaf or Nutmeg coffee cake. I’m not a massive fan of cheesecakes but the Almond Cherry one caught my attention. And I am intrigued to try the author’s version of Apple Cake which he suggests to serve with lemon curd.

The one thing that slightly concerns me however is that the majority of their recipes have a shocking amount of sugar. For instance, this one required 450g of sugar. I’m afraid I had to cut down more then half and it was just fine.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Crunch cake

PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE CRUNCH CAKE

Ingredients:

For the chocolate/peanut swirl:

150g semi-sweet chocolate

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

For the crumbs & batter:

3 cups plain flour

3/4 cup light brown sugar

200g butter, softened

1 cup smooth peanut butter

3 eggs

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

cream/ice-cream for serving (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter a 30 x 23 x 5 cm baking tin and line with the parchment paper.
  2. To make the swirl, in a small pan melt the chocolate and peanut butter over a gentle heat, stirring often until all melted and smooth. Set aside.
  3. Then, in a big bowl, combine together flour, sugar, butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer until coarse crumbs form. Take away about 3 cups of the mixture and set aside for the crumb topping later.
  4. Then add the eggs to the base batter, one at a time, followed by milk, vanilla, baking powder, soda and salt. Mix well until the batter is smooth.
  5. To assemble the bake, spread half the batter in the prepared tin. Drizzle with the half of the chocolate mixture, then cover it with the remaining batter, followed by the remaining chocolate.  Finish it with the reserved crumb mixture over the top and gently press the crumbs onto the chocolate/peanut butter swirl.
  6. Bake it for 50-60 minutes or until the wooden stick comes out clean from the centre. Let the cake cool in the pan before cutting into squares. Serve it with cream or ice-cream.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Crunch cake

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Crunch cake

 

Mixed Beans and Aubergine Chilli

Aubergine is not the vegetable you usually find in a chilli, but their meaty, spongy texture perfectly absorbs all the flavours and together with the beans makes a delicious combo.

Mixed bean and aubergine chilli

MIXED BEANS AND AUBERGINE CHILLI

(recipe adapted from S. Rimmer’s ‘The Accidental Vegetarian’ book)

Ingredients: 

about 80ml vegetable oil

1-2 aubergines, depends on the size, cut into chunky cubes

1 red onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2-3 red chillies, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin

pinch of ground cinnamon

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin mixed beans

1 cup of water

1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

grated cheese/soured cream to serve (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the aubergine pieces for about 7 minutes or until they get some colour and soften. Remove and drain on the kitchen towel.
  2. Fry the onions until soft and translucent, add chopped green peppers, continue to fry for another 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chillies, all spices, stir well and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Then add the beans, tomatoes, aubergines, sugar and cocoa powder (if you use it) and a cup of water. Season well, cover with the lead and cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  4. Check again for seasoning and serve with rice/baked potatoes, with dollop of soured cream and some grated cheese.

Roasted Aubergine and Lentil Soup

It was one of those situations, where I didn’t have a lot in the fridge and had to ‘jazz it up’ as I went along. I had one aubergine and just few cupboard basics. I never thought of adding aubergine to any of my soups before. “What a mistake-a to make-a”!  It works perfectly in a soup. I actually prefer it to potato. This soup is rich, earthy, with a subtle hint of spice, a good helping of garlic and gentle Mediterranean aromas. You can adjust the spice level by adding less/more chilli of course. The soup goes very well with these stout & honey buns.
Roasted Aubergine and Lentil soup
ROATED AUBERGINE AND LENTIL SOUP
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 aubergine, cubed

1 onion, finely chopped

1-2 carrots, depends on size, chopped

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of herbs of your choice (I had oregano)

1 teaspoon of paprika

pinch of sugar

1 cup of puy lentil

2 cans chopped tomatoes in its own juice or about 500gr fresh tomatoes, chopped

approx 3-4 cups of water/stock, depends how thick you like your soup to be.

2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar (optional)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced

1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)

salt and pepper to taste
parsley/seeds to garnish (optional)
Method:
1. Heat oven to 200C. Arrange the cubed aubergine in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil, mix well and roast for about 20 minutes or until tender and nicely brown.
2. Preheat the rest of the oil in a cooking pot, add onion and carrots and cook them for 5-7 minutes.
3. Then add the spices, herbs, sugar, lentil, tomatoes, water/stock. Bring it to boil, then reduce the heat, cover with the lead and cook it until the lentil is cooked.
4. When the lentil is cooked and tender, add the roasted aubergine to the soup, along with red wine vinegar, garlic and chilli. Season well with salt and pepper.

Banana Bread with Chocolate & Walnuts

Banana bread is like a trusted family member you can always rely on. It is a delicious no fuss cake. Basically, if in doubt, bake a banana bread. And if it’s good just on its own, it’s even better with the addition of chocolate and nuts.

Banana and Chocolate chips bread

 

BANANA BREAD WITH CHOCOLATE AND WALNUTS

Ingredients:

2-3 (depends on the size) ripe bananas, mashed

180g caster sugar

2 eggs

140g softened butter

250g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

100g walnuts, chopped in pieces, plus reserving a few for decoration (optional)

100g plain chocolate, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 170C. Line the loaf tin with baking parchment.
  2. Mash the peeled banana in a mixing bowl first. Then add the remaining cake ingredients (except the nuts and chopped chocolate) and beat with an electric mixer until combined and smooth. Once combined add and fold in with a spatula the walnuts and chocolate.
  3. Pour into the prepared tin, decorate top with some walnut halves if you want, and bake it for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave it to cool slightly in the tin before transferring it onto a serving dish.

 

Thai Turkey Meatballs

Thai Green Curry is another successful recipe from Simply Nigella, a book which includes this recipe. Since the book came out, it’s placed itself comfortably into a spot in my regular rotation. Although, this recipe cannot pretend to be totally authentic (I don’t think turkey is much used in Thai cuisine), I love how flavoursome this curry is and the turkey meatballs just melt in your mouth. I love the spiciness and the coconut flavour in the curry, plus the smell of it is intoxicating.

Thai Turkey Meatballs

 THAI TURKEY MEATBALLS CURRY

Ingredients:

4 courgettes

500g turkey mince

3 spring onions – finely chopped

2 cloves garlic – grated

2cm piece of fresh ginger – grated

fresh coriander – finely chopped

1 tsp dried chili flakes

1 lime – zest and juice

1 tsp sea salt

3 tbsp Thai green curry paste

1 can (400ml) coconut milk

3 tbsp fish sauce

500ml chicken stock

350g sugar snaps

To serve:
small handful Thai basil leaves/fresh coriander (optional)
2 to 3 limes, cut into wedges

Method:

  1. To prepare the turkey meatballs, peel one of the courgettes and coarsely grate. Squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible then put in a large bowl with the turkey mince, the whites of the spring onion (reserve the green parts for later), grated ginger, garlic, chilli flakes and zest of the lime. Add seasoning and mix together by hand until combined. 
  2. Roll into equally sized meatballs, using a teaspoon of mixture as guidance and set aside. 
  3. Next, add the remaining green parts of the spring onion to a large pan with a couple of glugs of a flavourless oil and fry briefly.
  4. Add the Thai green curry paste, the cream from the top of the coconut milk and whisk together in the pan, before adding the rest of the coconut milk, fish sauce and chicken stock.
  5. Whilst you’re letting the mixture come to a gentle boil, peel the remaining courgettes, quarter each lengthways and then chop into 1cm pieces.
  6. Add the courgette pieces of the bubbling broth and then carefully place the turkey meatballs in the pan as well, being careful not to break them up. Once the pan has just started bubbling again, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  7. Check the meatballs are cooked through, then add the juice from the zested lime and sugar snaps. Check the flavour and add seasoning, adjust as you wish.
  8. Cook for a couple more minutes then take off the heat. Serve with a bit more chopped coriander/Thai basil leaves and lime wedges for extra spritzing.