Monday, July 6, 2009

Really Rich Chocolate Torte

I've made this cake twice now and each time it's gotten rave reviews. It's relatively easy to make and the cake come out gooey and extremely chocolatey. The recipe makes a 9 inch cake but since it's so rich you can easily serves 12-14 people with a little slice for each. This recipe can be made gluten free using any gluten free flour.

Really Rich Chocolate Torte

200g Dark Chocolate (85% cocoa)
200g unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 double espresso or 1/2 cup of brandy (optional)
6 eggs separated
1/3 cup rice flour, whole wheat flour, or buckwheat flour

Line a 9 inch spring form pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.

In a double boiler melt the chocolate and butter. Stir in the coffee (if using) and sugar. Taste the chocolate mixture to see if it is sweet enough for your tastes, feel free to add more sugar to get the taste desired.

Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. In a separate bowl mix the egg yolks with the flour. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks and mix thoroughly. Mix the the egg whites into the egg yolks.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake come out clean.

Cook time: 25 minutes
Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves: 12

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rustic Pesto Chicken

This is such an incredibly easy main course that takes only minutes to prepare and uses very few ingredients. It has a wonderful taste of summer and makes great leftovers (if there are any!) This recipe can easily be doubled and other vegetables such as courgettes, mushrooms or peas could be added to the tomatoes in the dish.

Rustic Pesto Chicken

1 small package chicken mini fillets (or 2 chicken breasts cut into slices)
3 teaspoons of pesto sauce
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (a few handfuls)
15 cherry tomatoes

Coat the chicken fillets in pesto sauce and roll in breadcrumbs. Place in a shallow baking tray. Add the cherry tomatoes to the baking dish. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes at 200 degrees C

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Really Simple Pita Breads

Last weekend I had my neighbor over for dinner and decided to try out my culinary skills. I found a recipe for mini garlic bread pizzas and spent ages trying to get it out work out correctly. After 3 batches of hard little cracker-like lumps, I decided to just throw some of the dough in the oven without any sauce on it. I was completely amazed to find that without the sauce, the dough rose wonderfully into pita breads. This weekend I decided to try it again and the result was far better than the first set of pizzas!

Really Simple Pita Breads
2 cups of white flour (250 grams)
2 cups of wholewheat flour (250 grams)
1 sachet of fast acting yeast (2.25 teaspoons)
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.25 cups warm water (300 ml)

Combine all the dry ingredients then pour olive oil and water over them. Mix well. Kneed dough for about 5 minutes until all flour has been absorbed by the dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for between 30 minutes and 2 hours (the dough doesn't need to double just rise a bit) after it rises, punch the dough down and separate into 30 small balls. On a floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll out each ball the the size desired.

Bake the pitas in a fan oven at 220 (475) degrees for about 5 minutes or until they turn golden

Yield: 30 6inch diameter pitas
Prep time: 20 minutes plus rising time
Cook time: 5 minutes a batch

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Beetroot and Barley Risotto

My parents were over visiting last week, which meant that I stocked my fridge and made a few meals. Now that they are gone I found that I have quite a few left overs which have to be taken care of. I spent yesterday making chicken stock with leftover roast chicken and then figured I would make a risotto out of it. Originally the plan was to make a mushroom risotto but then I found 1 cooked beetroot in the fridge and decided I'd see if I could make a risotto with that. I found a couple recipes online and added my own touch and here is the result---3 servings of pink risotto! This risotto has a very earthy flavor because of the beetroot and barley. It is also very hearty and packed full of good nutrients and fiber from the beetroot.

Beetroot and Barley Risotto
1/2 onion diced
2 tsp of butter
1 cup of pearl barley
approximately 4 cups of chicken stock (vegetable or cubed stock could be used also)
1/2 cup of white wine
1 cooked beetroot cut into small cubes
Parmesan cheese to top

In a large pot saute the onion in the butter about 2 minutes. Add the pearl barley and saute a minute longer. Pour in the white wine and half of the chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the beetroot and about 1 cup of chicken stock. Stir occasionally over low heat until the liquid is absorbed (another 10 minutes or so). At this point the barley should be cooked or almost cooked. If it needs to cook longer add extra stock until the barley has cooked. Top with Parmesan cheese to taste.

Cook time: 45 minutes
Active time: 15 minutes
Serves: 3-4

Friday, April 17, 2009

7 Minute Peanut-Lime Noodles

I made this recipe for lunch today. It was so quick to cook that the longest part was bringing the water to boil and cooking the noodles. Depending on the type of noodles you are using you could probably cook the whole meal in less than 7 minutes.
Another fantastic thing about this recipe is that it is pretty much "no measure." As long as you get the ingredients in roughly the right quantities it will work well. If you want the sauce slightly thicker don't add as much water, if you want it thinner do the exact opposite. Realistically it's pretty hard to go wrong on this one!

7 Minute Peanut-Lime Noodles
2 teaspoon peanut oil, divided
1 clove garlic
1 chili pepper
1 cm (about a 1/4 inch) piece of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
250 ml (1 cup) water
250 grams (8 oz) noodles (soba, udon, whole wheat linguine, etc)
chopped vegetables (peppers, mange tout, bok choy, broccoli, mushrooms etc.)
pinch of sesame seeds
1 spring onion chopped

In a large pot, boil enough water to cook the noodles. Cook the noodles for the time listed on the package. Drain the noodles and run cold water over them.
While the noodles are cooking, dice the garlic, pepper and ginger. In a small pot saute the garlic, pepper and ginger in 1 teaspoon of peanut oil for 2 minutes. Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice and water and stir until everything has blended. Bring sauce to a boil and then turn off heat.

Chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces. Using the same pot the noodles cooked in, heat a bit of peanut oil and saute the vegetables for 2-3 minutes. Pour the peanut sauce and noodles into the vegetables and heat through.

Serve with sesame seeds and spring onions

Serves: 2
Cooking time: 5-10 minutes
Prep time: 2 minutes

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rainy Weekend Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are decadent but you need loads of time to make them. Like any yeast based recipe they need to rise for a few hours before they can be baked so make sure you have set aside 3-4 hours before you're planning on serving them. I made these last week and served half the following day and put half in the freezer. The there is only 1 left of the "freezer stash" and the ones I served were gone in a matter of minutes!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls
1 package of yeast
1/2 teaspoon of white sugar
1/8 cup (25 ml) warm water (slightly warmer than body temperature)
1 cup(250 ml) low fat or fat free milk
1/4 cup (50g) white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups (300g)whole wheat flour
1.5 cups (200g) all purpose flour

Cinnamon filling
3/4 (150 g) cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup (55 g) of butter -melted
1 teaspoon milk
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4-1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/4-1/2 cup of raisins

Combine the yeast, water and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add liquid ingredients into the yeast mixture, then add the 2 types of flour. Kneed for 5-10 minutes to ensure that everything is fully mixed and that the dough has a nice elastic feeling. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it has double. Tip: Turn your oven on to the lowest temperature for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the oven off and then put the bowl in. This guarantees a warm place where the dough will rise well.

After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and let rise again in a warm place until doubled.

Punch the dough down a third time and roll out into at least a 12 x 16 inch (30x40) rectangle. Combine the butter, sugar, milk and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread this mixture onto the dough rectangle. Sprinkle the chopped nuts and raisins on top of the dough. Roll the dough along the short side. Cut into 12-15 pieces and place in a greased tray (I used 2 trays, one round and one rectangular) Let rise for about 10 minutes

Bake at 180 C (375F) for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Polenta Farmer's Eggs (Huevos Rancheros)

I love brunch. It's so nice to start a Sunday by having a nice hearty meal with your friends or family. Unfortunately most brunch meals require spending the whole morning in front of a stove cooking and very little time actually enjoying the meal and the company.

This recipe is a variation of huevos rancheros that can be baked, allowing more time to enjoy the morning. Huevos rancheros is a popular breakfast in Mexico and the US meaning "eggs ranch-style" or "eggs country-style". The dish traditionally was served for on rural farms for a mid-day meal.

In Mexico, huevos rancheros is made with corn tortillas, vegetables and eggs. In Europe, corn tortillas can be hard to find so I've made this with polenta and added large quantities of vegetables to make a wonderful healthy brunch.

Polenta Farmer's Eggs (Huevos Rancheros)
3/4 cup (125 grams) of polenta
1.5 cups (375 ml) of water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 tsp olive oil
1 green pepper diced
1 onion diced
1 can of diced tomatoes (drained)
6 eggs

  1. Combine the polenta, salt and water in a pot and bring to a rolling boil. As soon as it boils, turn the heat off and let the polenta cool slightly and absorb all the water.
  2. Spread the polenta on the bottom of a greased 9x12 baking tray.
  3. Crush the coriander and cumin seeds in either a blender or a mortar and pestle (you can substitute powdered spices but the flavor will be milder)
  4. Saute the onions and peppers in the olive oil for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the spices and drained tomatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Spoon the mixture on top of the polenta. Using a spoon make 6 indents in the vegetables where the eggs will go.
  7. Crack the eggs into the indentations.
  8. Cover the dish and cook at 180 degrees until the eggs have set. Approximately 20-25 minutes.

This recipe can be partially made the night before. Simply put the dish in the refrigerator after step 6 and finish in the morning.
Serves 3-6 people

Cooking time: 45 minutes
Active time: 15 minutes