Saturday 20 February 2016

Eggless Raspberry and Blueberry Muffins for Comic Relief

I have been watching the Great British Comic relief bake off and am totally in admiration with the celebrities that participate in the show for charity, especially those that are really out of their comfort zone in the baking world. I feel that if everyone did something, however small, to help raise money for people who are less fortunate than us at least we could make a combined effort to ease their hardship. As they say every drop of water in the bucket is as precious as the next to reach the fill line.

I baked these muffins for a charity sale to raise some money for comic relief. The sale did not raise thousands of pounds but I feel every little effort helps. I sincerely hope that some of my readers will take inspiration from this post and start baking for comic relief to raise funds. Do share your stories in the comments section of anything you have baked.

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Eggless Raspberry and Blueberry Breakfast Muffins
Fruity and delicious eggless muffins perfect for breakfast or snacks.
  • 1.25 cups Plain Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup Butter (room temperature)
  • 395 g (1 can) Condensed Milk
  • 2 tablespoons Milk (warm)
  • 1 cup Raspberries and Blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C 2. In a mixing bowl sieve together the flour and the bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and keep aside.2.In another bowl whisk together the condensed milk, softened butter, milk and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.3. Fold the flour into the butter mixture lightly until all the flour is incorporated.4. Fold in the berries gently.5. Spray the pan with a little sunflower oil and spoon the mixture into the pan to fill about two thirds full. Smooth the top of the batter with a spoon.6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and skewer inserted in centre of muffins comes out clean.7. Remove muffins from oven and transfer them to wire rack for cooling. Once cooled drizzle with a flurry of icing sugar before serving.

Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 16 muffins

I baked my muffins in the Sweetheart Rose Baking Pan made by Nordic bakeware which was gifted to me by House of Fraser. The pan is robustly made from heavy cast aluminum. It has a special reflective exterior and a premium non stick coating. This pan would make the perfect Mother's Day present also for any mum, you can purchase it from House of Fraser online where together with this pan there is a vast selection of beautiful bakeware.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Sunday Mornings- My favorite time of the week.

Most of us have jobs where we spend the whole week commuting to work early in the morning, working all day and then coming home when it's dark. This does not leave any time for relaxation or to unwind. I also work on Saturdays which means that my weekends are cut by 50 percent. This makes my Sunday mornings really precious and I really cherish them.

I love waking up early, hearing the birds twittering outside and sitting in the conservatory or lounge just savoring the silence while I enjoy my early morning cuppa, a light breakfast and getting my hands on the crisp clean pages of the Sunday Times before anyone else gets there. I hate it when the newspaper pages are out of order or someone has crumpled them and folded the paper badly.

Strange as it may seem but I have routine, I make a pot of tea, yes a pot of tea none of that tea in a huge mug business! Tea needs to be enjoyed from a fine china cup with a saucer. Next I slice some fruit, fill a bowl with granola top it with my favorite greek yoghurt and toss some fruit on the top. Of course one also needs warm croissants and pastries too. Once my breakfast tray is prepared. I take it into the lounge.

Over a leisurely breakfast I flip through the paper glancing at the main news. Once I have had a quick overview I go back and read the stories that most interest me. Glancing through the paper today,  I was particularly interested to  read an update about the Sugar Smart App that was launched last month.The App allows parents to check the sugar content on products by scanning the barcode with a smart phone. The launch of the app horrified parents as it highlighted the levels of sugars found in baby foods.The article today about the government app says that all baby foods have been removed from the app by Public Health England (PHE) as it was found that the app could not differentiate between good natural sugars and bad refined sugars. There is a major confusion amongst parents as to what really is healthy and what is not since even large amounts of natural sugars are bad for children.

On the health front it was particularly interesting to read that scientists are developing a 10 minute DIY test for cancer. David Wong, a professor of oncology at the University of California said it is possible to detect tumour DNA Circulating in bodily fluids with 100% accuracy.The test is entering clinical trials and it is hoped that it is approved in two years. The test is thought to be able to detect all types of cancers. I think this would be an amazing breakthrough.

I always leave the any inserts and magazines that come with the paper till last. This week the Sunday times have launched The Sunday Times magazine. Glancing through the magazine, I was most interested to read an article about " The Life Project, which began in 1946. The study is a portrait of tens of thousands of peoples lives in Britain. The study is very interesting highlighting topics about peoples lives and the effects it has on them. The "how to live well article " follows cohorts of children from 1946 to 1990. It shows things that were learnt from people's lives and how they are helping in shaping our future. You can read about The Lie Project:The Extraordinary story of Our Ordinary Lives by Helen Pearson.

Being a foodie I love reading the recipes, I am loving all the amazing food features and the droolworthy photos and recipes.This week's magazine had a refreshing blood orange and rosemary juice recipe and a Chestnut pancake recipe. I immediately fell in love with both and I have added them to my short list of recipes to recreate.

The Sunday Times paper with all the extra magazines is not just a paper for me its plays an important part in my Sunday relaxation routine. You can also get a digital pack of the Sunday Times, currently there is a special subscription offer of £20.00 for 13 weeks.

This post is in collaboration with the Sunday Times.

Kaju Katli ~ Indian cashew nut sweet

Kaju Katli is a very popular Indian sweet that is eaten all over India. It is a fudge type sweet made from powdered cashewnuts cooked in a sugar syrup and then left to set. This year for valentine's rather than gifting the traditional chocolates, I made this delicious sweet for my other half. Although I cannot say it's a healthy treat since it has sugar in it but at least it does not contain lots of clarified ghee that most Indian sweets contain.

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Kaju Katli
A traditional delicious nutty Indian sweet.
  • 1 cup Cashew Nuts
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 pinch Cardamom Powder (Optional)
1. In a pan dry roast the cashew nuts for 2-3 minutes on low heat but keep them moving and do not let them colour.2.Remove the cashew nuts from the pan and let them cool.Once cooled grind them to a fine powder I used my Froothie Optimum 9400, it made the job super quick.3. In a non stick pan add the water and sugar and bring to boil until sugar has melted. Simmer the sugar syrup until it reaches one thread consistency.(108 degrees C)4. Once the sugar syrup has reached one thread consistency, add the ground cashew nuts and the cardamom powder and keep stirring the mixture on low heat until the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan and comes together into a soft ball.5. Remove the mixture from the pan and allow to cool until you can handle it. Knead it to a soft smooth dough and then roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper to 5mm thick. Once it has cooled cut the Kaju Katli into diamond shapes.(This is the traditional shape of the Kaju Katli) NB- I did not add cardamom powder to my mixture as I like my kaju katli to have a pure white look, cardamom powder tends to show small black specs)
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 20 pieces

NB It is important to grind the cashewnuts to a fine powder, I used my Optimum 9400 which is a powerful blender that grinds, pulses, chops, grates, cooks and makes icecreams at a flick of a switch. You can read a review about my Froothie Optimum 9400 here.
At the moment  the Optimum 9400 is available at a special offer introductory price of £339 which includes a 30 day trial so that you can return it back postage free if you are not totally satisfied with it. I love options like this because I feel that if I do invest in a gadget I want peace of mind that I can be100 percent happy with it.Also being a brand ambassador for Froothie any one purchasing through this post can you can get  Extra 2 years warranty to get this use the code "Special Ambassador Offer" on purchase

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Vegetarian Hot Pot

I love cooking and when I am creating an authentic recipe, I like to recreate it as true to the recipe as possible, right from the ingredients to the traditional cooking process and the traditional utensils that are used in cooking. In many countries a lot of authentic recipes are cooked in earthenware and clay pots .Using this type of utensil and the slow cooking of the recipe gives the recipe a flavour that is second to none.

When I was travelling around India I saw most of the villages using clay pots to cook in. The flavour the pots imparted was amazing and made the dish really homely. I was very tempted to buy them but since the pots were not treated in any way I was worried that they would not work well on the gas and electric hobs we have in the UK. The clay pots in India were also made with the rounded bottoms to sit on an open fire.

Three years later my search for Clay pots was still on after returning to the UK, but I am pleased that I have now discovered Sapori a line of cookware created to meet the needs of people wanting to cook without compromise and are looking to enhance flavours of their cooking whilst discovering traditional recipes.

With Italian know how in the field of cookware the pots are made from High Fire Stoneware clay to provide the best cooking technology. The pots are beautifully made and coated with ceramic glazes and they have a non-stick double layer of corflon coating. The Sapori pots are also suitable to be used directly on the hob, in the traditional oven and also in the microwave. The pots will require treating the first time you use them but this is highly recommended to increase the lifespan of the pot.
The Sapori range comes in traditional white or red and you can get a variation of sizes in the pots. The range includes small bowls and dishes, potato pots, shallow casserole dishes and deep stock pots and a tagine too.

The pots are beautifully crafted and will great in any kitchen. I have really enjoyed cooking in my Sapori pot and can’t wait to add more of the range to my collection.
I created this wonderful mixed bean stew in my Sapori pot and it was cooked to perfection.

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Vegetarian Hotpot
Mediterranean vegetables layered and cook in a delicious tomato sauce with a layer of crispy potatoes.

  • 1 Large dutch aubergine cut into thin slices
  • 2 Green and Red pepper diced
  • 2 Medium Carrots peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 Medium red onion finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves of garlic finely minced
  • 3 Medium potatoes peeled and finely sliced
  • 4 tablespoons Bread crumbs
  • 400 g Precooked butter beans
  • 400 g Chopped tinned tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chilli powder (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 10 Cherry tomato cut in halves

1. In a frying pan add 2 tablespoons of oil and shallow fry the aubergine slices in batches. Keep them aside.

2. Add the potato slices in boiling water and blanch them for 3-4 minutes. Drain and pat them dry and keep aside.3.In a pan add 1 tablespoon oil and saute the onions and garlic for 1-2 minutes, next add the carrots and peppers and saute them for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes with the juice and then salt, pepper, turmeric, chilli powder, black pepper and oregano. Cook for 5 minutes 5. Stir in the drained cooked beans and mix through. 6. Take an ovenproof dish (I used my Sapori casserole pot)and add half the tomato sauce, Add a layer of aubergines and sprinkle with half the bread crumbs. Add a layer of potatoes.7.Repeat the layering again until you finish with a final layer of potatoes.8. Brush the potatoes with a little oil and scatter some cherry tomato halves on top.9. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C 35O degrees F and bake the hotpot for 45 minutes or until the potatoes start to crisp up and turn slightly golden.

Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Serves 4

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