Saturday, 13 October 2012

Iced Coffee

After posting my last entry I was asked how to make the Iced coffee drink that was in the background of the pictures...
Its really really simple and quick to make and accompanies brownies (or anything else really) well!!
It doesn't really have any specific amounts for the ingredients and you pretty much have to go with taste.



Ingredients:

Instant Coffee
Whole Milk
Sugar
Vanilla Icecream (optional)
Cocoa powder

Serve with:
Whipped cream
Chocolate sauce

Method:

- Mix the instant coffee with sugar to taste and boiling water. (You have to use a generous amount of coffee because of the milk and ice cream that you will be adding)
- Pour the mixture, with a couple of pints of milk in to the blender. You can also add the vanilla ice cream (if you want to) at this point.
- Add some cocoa powder in to the mixture

- Blend it all together
- You can either store this in the fridge before serving so that it is chilled or if you have made this well in advance, freeze the mixture in ice cube trays and then blend them before serving.
- Drizzle some chocolate or caramel sauce in your serving glass and pour in your iced coffee, topping it up with whipped cream and more chocolate sauce.

Enjoy :-)

-S 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Brownies!

I finally have access to the internet!!! After a month!!!.. The past month we moved house and have been trying to settle in to it.. which has been a process slightly slower than times before now that everything I do takes double the amount of time!

Its so strange how dependant we've become to the internet. Without it, you're so cut out from the world. Literally. Its almost impossible to keep up with the news and also keep in touch with people.
And my blog!!
Its crazy how these months have been flying by. We're already in to October. The month I'm expecting the arrival of my little Baby inshaAllah. Please keep us in your prayers folks, because that's all we need now!!!

Anyway..today I'm going to post the recipe of one of the first three things I ever baked. Brownies!!! These simple, no fuss brownies never fail to make people happy. Over the years I've tried many other different recipes..Nigella's walnut brownies which are absolutely divine and many others..but for some reason this recipe has a very loyal bunch of fans. People who would much rather prefer these brownies to the decadent recipes that I have tried out as well.

I always have trouble taking pictures of brownies...or double chocolate chip cookies (that I have baking in the oven this very moment). For some reason, they never actually look appealing on camera.
Maybe its because I don't put too much effort in the pictures I take.
I really should!

This recipe doesn't require any real chocolate in it and somehow manages to end up with rich, chocolatey results that would leave you wondering how!






Here it is:

Ingredients:
1 cup Margarine/ Unsalted Butter
4 tbsps Cocoa Powder
2 cups Sugar
4 large Eggs, lightly beaten
1 and a half cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsps Vanilla Essence

Method:
- Preheat the oven to 350F / Gas mark 4
- Grease and line a pan. This makes quite a generous amount of brownies depending on the thickness.
- Melt the margarine in a pan under low heat.
- Remove from the heat and add in the cocoa powder. Stir it well and then let it cool till tepid.
- Mix the sugar, eggs and vanilla together with a hand mixer.
- Add in the flour in two additions and mix with a large mixing spoon.
- When it is just combined, add the cocoa and margarine mixture and stir them all together until completely combined.
- Bake for 30 minutes, but start checking at 20 minutes.
- The skewer that you pierce the brownies with to check should have some mixture stuck to it (so the brownies are not quite done). This is really important because over baking them can lead to dry results!
- Take them out of the oven and wait till it cools.

You can frost the brownies with anything that you like. For this recipe in particular, I prefer my mums Chocolate dropping recipe. Here it is:

Ingredients:
1 tbsp Margarine
2 tbps Cocoa
8 tbsps Icing Sugar
A little hot milk

Method:
-Melt the Margarine
-Add in the sifted Cocoa and Icing Sugar
-Mix it really well and then add in milk very little by little until you get a nice, glossy frosting in a thick consistency!

Pour the mixture on top. Sprinkle with Smarties (My personal preference :-P ) and enjoyyyyyy....

-S

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Pankhas..Mandazis..or..??

Greetings people!!!!

I know its been a long long time since I've posted an entry. Believe me, its not because I haven't been baking and trying out new recipes, but its been ridiculously busy!!!
Its Shahru Ramadhan- (I can not believe we're already in to the last ten days) and time is just whizzing by so fast!! :-(
I haven't even had a chance to take decent pictures of the stuff that I make..just a few quick clicks with my phone and I'm done!!!
Hopefully, I'll be posting these recipes quickly, because very soon inshaAllah things are going to get really busy with a tiny little new family member! :-)

So what have I been trying out?? Gorgeous, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery Melting Moment biscuits, Ultra rich and indulgent Banoffee pie, Indian sweets and lots more!!!
Hmm, what should I start with??

A recipe I recently learnt from my sister in law.
We call it Pankhas. She calls it Mandazis. But really? I don't know what to call it. 
I can describe it to you though!!
Crispy, golden, deep-fried, pastry-like bits of yumminess dipped in a gold, saffrony sugar syrup...
Pure decadence.
I'm not kidding. Its everything evil put together that brings together the yummiest results!!...When she makes them, they're flawless!!!! 
Best eaten? When they're fresh and hot and crispy and just dipped in the sugar syrup!!!

The other day I decided to give it a shot. I was so surprised at how easy it was to make!
All you have to make is a simple dough and then roll it out and fry it.
Oh and make the sugar syrup.
But that's it!!!! I'm totally going to make this again. And again. And again :-)









Ingredients:

2 cups plain flour
8 tablespoons oil
Cardamom powder
2 cups sugar
Saffron
Orange food colouring


Method:

You have to start off making the sugar syrup so that it has cooled down completely before you dip in your 'pankhas'.
To do this, put in 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of water, About half a tspoon Cardamom powder, a drop of orange or yellow food colouring and saffron in a pan.
Let all these ingredients reach a boil on a high temperature on your stove and then immediately lower the heat.
When you see the syrup thicken, add another half glass of water and let it boil till its sticky.
You'll be able to see the consistency and stickiness using your wooden spoon. Once its nice and thick, place it aside to cool.

Next, combine the 2 cups of flour, 8 tablespoons of oil and cardamom powder with your fingers. Bring them together as a dough with warm water.
This dough is so quick and easy to make. Make sure its not too soft or hard.

Divide the dough in to around seven little balls and then roll each one out quite thin. The thinner the better (because the crispier the results)- and in to a circular shape.
Then, squeeze the top and bottom of the centre of the circle together with your thumb and index finger, bringing them together to a butterfly-like shape.
Using a knife, cut it right in the center so that you end up with a fan like shape.

Fry in hot oil until they are golden and crispy and then dip it in to the sugar syrup.

Mmmmm...these are BEST on the day that they are made. Sooo easy to make and so worth the results.
Store them in an airtight container!!!
Take care folks! Hopefully you'll see another post very soon!!

-S

Monday, 25 June 2012

Banana hotcakes

Breakfast is always an issue for me. I'm always looking for variety. Something to start your day with that will sustain you and brighten up your morning.
After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day right?
The other day I was longing for something hot and completely different. I usually go for baked oatmeal but that was going to take too long in the oven and I was hungry for food now!!!- so it had to be quick and easy.
After looking through whatever I had available in the kitchen I decided on some type of pancakes or hotcakes.
It was sooo easy. The batter took just a couple of minutes to whip together and while the hotcakes were cooking on the frying pan, I had time to chop up whatever fruit I wanted to accompany my breakfast with. In my case- strawberries ofcourse :-)

I also incorporated mashed banana in the batter to make it a bit more filling. The recipe 
made enough to last for two days' breakfast so that was a bonus!!





Ingredients:

-Two ripe bananas
-Just over 1/2 a cup of plain all-purpose flour
-1 tablespoon sugar
-1/2 cup semi skimmed milk
-pinch of salt
-1 egg
-vanilla flavouring

Method:

Mash up your bananas nice and finely using a fork and set aside.
In a bowl, measure in the flour and the sugar and the salt.
In a separate mug, whisk the egg together with the milk and a little bit of vanilla flavouring/essence. Add it in to the flour mixture and stir it until its combined.
Add in the mashed banana and combine.

Heat up a non-stick frying pan (medium heat). You can spray it with some oil or butter but I didn't use anything at all. I didn't find it necessary and my frying pan behaves pretty well :-)
You can use 2-3 tablespoons of the batter per hotcake, depending how large you want them.
Once the batter starts forming bubbles, flip the hotcakes over and let it cook on the other side.

It's as simple as that!!
You can eat them plain or with maple syrup or with chopped up fruit or icecream!
Serve them hot because thats when they are at their best!!

This recipe is ridiculously easy and takes just about as long as double toasting your bread!!! It's well well worth it!!! try it out and enjoy :-)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Vanilla cupcakes with strawberry flavoured frosting!

Whenever I look at cupcakes in stores or online, I just feel so envious of how beautiful they look.
I can never actually manage to get them looking pretty enough. Maybe its because of my complete lack of talent when it comes to decorating cakes. I usually just messily ice my cakes- because obviously taste matters much more- but more importantly- because I'm terrible at making any cakes look pretty and presentable!

Oh well, recently it was my friends' daughters' first birthday and I set a goal for myself to make cupcakes that I was actually going to be pleased with- with a pink theme :-), because pink is just awesome. and girly. and means I could incorporate something strawberry-ish to them!!

Anyway, I got myself a little cake frosting kit, cute pink cupcake cases and lots of pink sprinkles!!!...And then I started baking.

After deciding on soft, fluffy, vanilla cupcakes with a strawberry flavoured frosting I got started.

Cupcakes are actually fun to bake :-) and they don't really take that long either.

They are prettier and little kids love to eat them.
So do big kids :-)

The result? Awesomely soft, fluffy, light as air vanilla cupcakes with a thick layer of strawberry flavoured frosting. Even I liked it- and I must admit I'm not really a 'non-chocolate cake' fan.

I kept some cupcakes for home and they didn't last long AT ALL!!!
A very nice feeling :-)







Light and fluffy :-)



Ingredients for the cake batter:
4 eggs
8oz self- raising flour
8oz caster sugar
8oz margarine
Vanilla essence

Mehod:
Preheat the oven at Gas mark 4
Beat the sugar and the margarine with a hand-held mixer until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs one at a time and carry on mixing it.
Once the mixture is blended in together, add in the flour in additions.
keep mixing it.
Finally, add a few drops of vanilla essence in to the mixture. Mix it a little more and then using an ice-cream scoop, divide in to cupcake cases. Just fill it two thirds of the way because it needs room to rise.
Let it bake in the oven until risen and golden. It took me about 20 minutes. 

Let it cool and then frost away :-)

Ingredients for the frosting:
2 large serving spoons of margarine.
4-5 large serving spoons of icing sugar (sifted)
You can add 1 tablespoon of any flavourings (like strawberry) or sifted cocoa (to taste).

Method:
Using a hand held mixer, thoroughly mix the icing sugar and margarine together until it is pale in colour.
Then add any flavourings.

The great thing about this cake recipe is that it is SO simple and takes such little time to make..and almost everyone loves the final result!

Enjoy :-)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

French toast!

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.

If you really do want to eat breakfast like a king, then this French toast is for you.
Its soft, sweet, deliciously crispy on the edges and moist in the center and is the true definition of the word ‘yumminess’.

My mum used to make it for us ages ago when we were kids and then once we moved to the UK it was forgotten about.
Until a couple of months ago when she made it for breakfast.
That's when I fell back in love with it!!!

The good thing is, just once slice of this can fill you up nicely because of the egg and milk that goes in to it.
We usually go for the freshly baked loaves of bread that you get in the bakery section of the grocery store. It is completely surrounded by a golden, crispy crust and is perfect for making French toast with. 
The method is so simple and so worth it!
You can use as much oil as you wish. If you are cautious about your health then use a tiny bit. The best thing to do is put a drop of oil on to your non stick pan and once its heated, you could brush it around the entire pan so that its greased up.
If you’re indulgent however, or would like a once in a while treat, then put use a generous amount of oil. Definitely don’t let your bread swim in it, but just enough to last in the pan until the bread is cooked.




Crispy on the outside and soft, sweet and
melt-in-your-mouth on the inside!!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
1 loaf of bread- cut in to 6 chunky slices. (This would depend on the loaf that you use)
3 eggs
Whole milk- about a pint
1 tsp vanilla essence
Oil (If you are not worried about the amount, you can use about 6 tablespoons per two slices of bread)
Sugar (9 tablespoons or to taste)- you should be pretty generous here- for best results :-P

Method:
In a wide dish, whisk the eggs properly and then add the rest of the ingredients. 

Mix them all thoroughly and then dip your slices of bread in to the mixture for about 20 seconds each side (keep submerging the bread in to the mixture and make sure to do the same to the other side)
Meanwhile, in a wide non stick pan, heat the oil and then once it is quite hot, put in the slices of bread. Depending on how wide the pan is, I usually do two slices at the same time. Let it cook for about 2 and a half minutes. When you open the lid of your pan, the bread would have expanded a bit and sort of dried up. Flip them around and cover again. Leave it for another couple of minutes.

Cover the pan and reduce the heat slightly. This is especially important if you are not using much oil.
You can enjoy it straight away, or if you are cooking it in advance, then place it in an oven dish and cover with foil. 

Once it is almost completely done, using a pair of tongs, you can turn the edges of the bread on to the pan so that they crisp up nicely.
Once it is time to reheat, place it in the oven on a medium heat leaving the foil on.

(p.s the darkened bit is not burnt..its caramelised sugar...)

Oh so worth the calories...

-S

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Better than shortbread...Naan Khatai :-)

If you've ever been to Mombasa- The coastal city in East Africa where I am from, you would most definitely have heard about Hussaini Bakery. It is the most popular bakery that makes all types of biscuits, cookies and stuff. The most popular item that they make is the HB naan khataai.
Its like a hundred times better tasting than shortbread biscuits. I'm not even exaggerating!!!

I can remember these cookies existing ever since I was old enough to understand what cookies are. Which is pretty young!
They are large, golden coloured, circlular shaped, buttery, crispy, crumbly, buttery pieces of yumminess. (Yes I mentioned buttery twice!!!)
These are without a doubt the most famous biscuits available in Mombasa, and what you find in almost every household. My grandparents courier us entire boxes when we lived in Nairobi. Not by flight, but by a long 8 hour bus ride. They always survived the journey- but didn't last very long once they reached home!
Whenever people travel back home to Mombasa, they are sure to wrap dozens of packs in their suitcases and bring them back here. Its funny, but whenever anyone is going back there, they almost always bring some of these HB naan khatai back here- if not for themselves then for people who have asked them to bring some for them.
They are precious goods- and if you ever are lucky enough to taste them, then consider yourself highly priviledged!! :-)

My Dad is the absolute king of these. They have been his absolute favourite since forever and he was pretty pleased with the results of my home baked ones.
He told me to make more. That means it was good right?? :-D

Recently, Fauzia (who I have mentioned here many times) came up with a recipe for these cookies. I was so excited that I baked them as soon as I got a chance- which was yesterday.  I have to say, these are really really close to tasting like the Original HB bakery's Naan Khatai. Of course I don't think anyone can get it exactly like theirs but its a really close rendition.

The result? Golden, butter, yummy, crumbly cookies.
Definitely worth making and enjoying with a cuppa.
Fauzia, Thanks for the recipe. You are a genius and you have saved the lives of all the HB loving East Africans who live far far away from the amazing Bakery in Mombasa!






Here's the recipe:
250gm room temperature butter
three-quarter cup castor/grinded sugar 
1 egg, lightly beaten and at room temperature
1 and a half tsp baking powder
4 tbsp custard powder (plain/vanilla flavour)
few drops of yellow colour
2 cups all-purpose flour 
4 tbsp fine sooji/semolina
1 tsp vanilla essence
half tsp salt

First, mix the flour, custard powder, semolina, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and set it aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar, add the drops of colour. Beat in the egg and vanilla until fluffy. 

Now gradually add in the dry ingredients and mix until the dough comes together. Do not over-mix as that will ruin the crumbly consistency. Only mix enough for everything to get well-combined.

TIP: If you feel that the dough needs a bit more flour, add a tbsp at a time. Do not over-knead the mixture. Keep in mind that the dough will be chilled before shaping and baking, so it will stiffen up some more later, so don't add more flour than you absolutely need to. 

Transfer the dough into a piece of cling film and wrap it up tight. Refrigerate for about an hour.

Place some greaseproof paper on your baking sheets. Divide the dough into about 20-21 equal balls. Shape them into big circles of about 3" each, using the palms of your hand, like how we make burger patties. Place them on the tray and flatten/level them slightly and gently. Remember to leave enough room around them as they will expand slightly during baking. You can make imprints on them at this point, I used my heart shaped cookie cutters to make little heart shapes on my cookies.

Once all are shaped, place the trays again into the refrigerator for another half an hour to chill. 

In the meantime, pre-heat the oven at 160 C. These cookies are normally large, so we need a lower temperature in order to get them to crisp up properly without getting brown.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes. When they are half-way done, turn the trays around so that the cookies get evenly baked, and if at any time you feel they are starting to take too much colour, lower the heat some more.

Once they are ready, remove them onto a wire-rack to cool completely. When they come out of the oven they will be slightly soft, but don't worry as they will crisp up as they cool. 

TIP: After they've cooled COMPLETELY and if you feel they are still not quite crisp enough, just pop them back into the oven on low temperature of about 120-140 C and bake them for another 10 minutes until you are satisfied with the results.

Store them in an airtight container. 

Enjoy the baking AND the results!!!
-S

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Tarte tatin- An upside down orange tart :-)

I love it when the taste tester has people over.
Even when it's a late night meeting..
because:
a) I get the kitchen all to myself where I can spend ages experimenting different things
b) They're all guys so they don't really care about calories - therefore being excellent experimental subjects for me!!!
I mean, even if something goes a bit wrong and in my opinion, may 'not be worth the calories' - I know that they don't think that way..so Yay for me!!! :-)
I know it sounds mean but its not like I'm going to make them eat something thats...inedible :-P

Hey, if you bake and experiment - SOMEONE's gotta eat it!!!

I've been dying to make Tarte tatin. Ever since I watched it being made on Masterchef Australia, I've really been wanting to give it a go. Slight problem - I've mentioned before that the Taste Tester is not keen on cooked apples - which would be awesome to use in this upside down pie. (I still haven't understood this about him since my last post that had apples in it).
Anyway, for the past month or so I have been obsessed about oranges. Like seriously obsessed. I eat like four in a row. 
And I can eat more.

I don't really understand where this craze has come from since I used to hate oranges.
Its a pretty handy obsession to have though (if that makes sense)...because whenever I make dessert and people have it late at night - (which is obviously not a good idea) I'm pretty happy with my oranges.

No guilt.
How awesome is that??
I hope it lasts.

Anyway so back to my baking story. Since I'm in love with oranges at the moment, it only made sense to use oranges.
So I chopped them up and created a tart.
I didn't have a recipe so I just went with what I had seen them do on tv. 
I think it worked and I was pretty happy with the results :-)

I served it warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.
The caramel sauce was pretty awesome too. Thank you Hershey's people for that!!
Anyway next time I make it, I'm going to use apples and we'll see how that turns out.









Ingredients: (I don't usually measure stuff so I'm going to do my best to try and estimate)

2 oranges (you can use apples, peaches, pineapples, bananas- or any fruit you want)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean or a bit less
Ready made (and ready rolled cos I'm lazy) puff pastry (roll it out to around 0.5cm and cut it slightly larger sized than the bottom of the pan that you are using)
Butter

Method:
Sprinkle the sugar and the vanilla on a heavy bottomed pan (which is suitable for the oven too) and place it on medium heat.
Let the sugar caramelise a bit..and become a nice goldeny brown (note: I burnt the first batch of caramel and it was literally a matter of seconds) and then remove it from the heat and arrange the sliced fruit on the syrup. Be very careful because you do NOT want this caramel syrup to get in contact with your skin while its hot. Also - Please don't try and taste it no matter how tempting it may be!!!
Place the rolled out pastry on top of the mixture and using a spoon tuck in the edges of the pastry around the caramel/fruit mixture so it encases it nicely.

Using a fork or a knife, pierce the pastry a few times and bake it on Gas mark 7 for about 20 minutes until the pastry is cooked and you can see the caramel bubbling at the edges.

Remove it from the oven and let it stand for about a minute and then VERY carefully (protect your hands with an oven mitt or a tea towel from the bubbling hot caramel) place a plate larger than the pan you cooked in on top of the pan and flip it over.
Brush butter on it generously.
Let it cool slightly and then serve with ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy :-)

Keep smiling :-)
-S