Wednesday, 1 October 2014

In My Kitchen - October 2014

Here's what was happening in my kitchen about 2 weeks ago because right now I'm in Japan.

Jonas Cramby's Tex-Mex From Scratch (and breakfast):

I don't think I've ever met a Tex-Mex dish I didn't immediately want to marry. I love the smoky seductive barbecue, the chilli, the slow cooked meats that fall off the bone, the limes and coriander that brighten nearly every dish, the elotes, the salsas, the avocados, the tequila, the beans, the tortillas, the ribs, the tacos, the carnitas... in the words of Yul Brynner "et cetera, et cetera, et cetera..."  Tex -Mex food is party food. I don't think you can eat it and not have fun (or is that the tequila talking?) Jonas Cramby is a journalist and food blogger and his book "Tex-Mex from Scratch" is the newest book to hit my kitchen (at the time of writing, that is). It's a delight to read and a feast for the eyes. He opens with these words "My name is Jonas Cramby and I'm addicted to tacos." I think he's my brother from another mother.

Pie Plate:

I've been wanting one of these vintage pie plates, like forever, and now I have one thanks to Etsy. Not that I needed another pie plate or something else to find a home for in my kitchen... but, you know "must have" doesn't always equal "need" - well, my husband knows that.


This beautiful antique Czech dinnerware as the first birthday present my husband gave me. We were just meant to be together... the dinnerware, my husband and I.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup:

Yes, I am aware that it's Spring where I live, but I can't help but get caught up in the whole "pumpkin/Fall/Autumn" thing that's happening in the Northern hemisphere. I think it's too much Pinterest. Most of the boards and blogs I follow are from "the other sphere" and I get obsessed with apples and pumpkins and cinnamon and nutmeg when I really should be in the asparagus and artichokes and mangoes and passionfruit head-space. But there's plenty of time for all that, and in the meantime it wouldn't hurt to have just one more Skinny Pumpkin Latte, right?

Pumpkin Spice Syrup:
Makes about 1 litre

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 whole nutmeg

Put the water and sugar into a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Once the sugar has dissolved add the spices and simmer the mixture for about 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Leave to cool, then pour into a bottle and chill in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin and Five Spice Ice Cream:

And while we're at it, we may as well have a scoop or three of Pumpkin and Five Spice Ice Cream (recipe coming soon) to see winter off with a bang, yes? I told you I was obsessed.

Anyway, that's my kitchen for now.

Pop on over and check out the links to bloggers’ kitchens around the world at In My Kitchen on

Monday, 29 September 2014

Slow Roasted Brisket with Coffee Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Barbecue in the oven is a great idea for the cooler days. You get to warm the house and eat amazing slow roasted meat with BBQ sauce. That's a win-win in my world.

Slow Roasted Brisket with Coffee Chipotle BBQ Sauce
adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
Serves 4 - 6

For the Sauce:
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1/4 medium brown onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 canned chipotle chile in abobo, minced
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt, to taste

For the Brisket:
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/2 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1kg brisket
3 thin slices pancetta
1/4 medium brown onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup Coffee Chipolte BBQ Sauce

Make the Sauce:
Heat the sunflower oil over medium-low heat and cook the onion for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the minced chipotle chile, ketchup, tomato paste, vinegar, lemon juice, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, coffee, chilli flakes, mustard powder, cloves and smoked paprika. Reduce to heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring now and then. Add slat to taste.

Cook the Brisket:
Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a baking tray with foil.

In a small bowl, mix together the salt, chilli flakes, smoked paprika, mustard powder and ground cumin. Rub both sides of the brisket with the spices. Place the brisket, fat-side down onto the prepared baking tray. Lay the slices of pancetta on top, followed by the sliced onion and garlic. Wrap the brisket tightly in the foil and then wrap it another layer of foil. Place the brisket (pancetta-side up) into the oven and roast for 6 hours.

Remove from the oven and leave it to rest, wrapped, for 20 minutes. Open the foil and spoon a tablespoon of the juices into the BBQ sauce.

Take the pancetta, onions and garlic off the brisket and discard them. Cut the brisket against the grain. Serve with the BBQ sauce on the side.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Fried Stuffed Olives

Friends, drinks, nibbles - yes, yes and yes!

Fried Stuffed Olives
adapted from Delicious
Serves 10 - 12

For the Sauce:
600ml tomato passata
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Olives:
Jar pitted Kalamata olives, drained and patted dry with kitchen towel
50g feta
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
Pinch chilli powder
1/4 cup plain flour
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
2 cups panko
Sunflower oil for deep frying
Fresh oregano leaves
Extra virgin olive oil.

Make the Sauce:
Put the passata into a medium pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, smoked paprika and oregano. Cook for 5 minutes until reduced slightly. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

Cook the Olives:
Crumble the feta into a bowl. Add the capers and chilli powder. Mix well.

Cut the olives down one side and open out like a book. Roll the feta mixture into tiny sausage shapes and stuff them into the cavity of the olive. Close the olive up.

Dredge the olives in the flour, dip them in the egg mixture and coat them in panko.

Heat the sunflower to 190C and fry the olives in batches until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel.

Once all the olives have been fried, drop a handful of fresh oregano leaves into the hot oil. Fry until crisp, lift them out with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. This will only take a few seconds.

To Serve:
Put a spoonful of tomato sauce into the centre of some small plates and smear with the back of the spoon. Top with 3 fried olives, sprinkle with fried oregano leaves and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino

One last hurrah for winter!

Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino
Serves 2 (Makes almost 700ml of Pumpkin Spice Syrup which you can store in the refrigerator for more Pumpkin Spice Lattes, yay!)

For the Pumpkin Spice Syrup: 
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 whole nutmeg

For the Frappuccinos:
250ml milk (I used low fat)
125ml espresso, cold
1/2 cup ice
4 tablespoons pumpkin puree
4 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Syrup
Whipped cream for serving
Pumpkin pie spice for garnish

Make the Pumpkin Spice Syrup:
Put the water and sugar into a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Once the sugar has dissolved add the spices and simmer the mixture for about 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Leave to cool, then chill in the refrigerator.

Make the Frappuccinos:
Put the milk, espresso, ice, pumpkin puree and the Pumpkin Spice Syrup into a blender and blitz until smooth. pour into two glasses and top with piped whipped cream and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Pumpkin Falafel

I'm a pretty social person, but sometimes I just want to sit in a quiet corner and eat my falafel by myself. I call it meditation.

Pumpkin Falafel
adapted from Alice Hart's Vegetarian
Serves 4

For the Falafel:
500g pumpkin, deseeded, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 small bunch parsley leaves
1 small bunch coriander leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Yoghurt Sauce:
1/2 continental cucumber, peeled, deseeded and coarsely grated
300g thick Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoons lemon juice
Sea salt to taste

To Serve:
Warm pita bread
Cheery tomatoes, halved and seasoned with salt and pepper and a drizzles of olive oil
Coriander leaves
Lemon wedges

Make the Falafel:
Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the pumpkin onto a baking tray, drizzle with oil, season well with salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes until cooked and golden. Set aside to cool.

Put the chickpeas into a food processor along with the garlic, baking soda, parsley, coriander leaves, ground coriander and ground cumin. Blitz until you have a paste. Tip into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Mash the cooked pumpkin with a fork, add it to the chickpea mixture and mix well. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Scoop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes until golden.

Make the Yoghurt Sauce:
Put the grated cucumber into a sieve and sprinkle with salt. Leave to drain for 20 minutes. Rinse and squeeze the water out using a tea towel. Stir the cucumber into the yoghurt  and add the lemon juice and season to taste.

To Serve:
Serve the falafels on warmed pita breads with the tomato salad, extra coriander leaves, a dollop of yoghurt sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice. Wrap the whole lot up and enjoy!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

It took me until this post to realise that my favourite wooden spoon is bent. Yes, I have a favourite wooden spoon. That probably makes me a little bit bent too.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting
Makes 12

For the Cupcakes:
225g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
115g unsalted butter, softened
180g caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150m  buttermilk

For the White Chocolate Frosting:
80g white chocolate, melted and cooled
125g unsalted batter, softened
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt

Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat the ove to 180C and line a 12-hole cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and then reduce the mixer speed to low and keeping the machine running, add a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk. When this is just combined, add another third of flour mixture and the remaining half of buttermilk. Once it is incorporated add the final third of flour and mix until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake for 20 -25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of a cupcake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until pale. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the icing sugar and mix until incorporated. Add the cooled melted chocolate and beat on medium for a few minutes until fluffy. Add the cream, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and beat until combined.

Top each cupcake with a swirl of frosting.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Zucchini and Feta Pissaladiere

I'm not one of those people who slip a summer dress on if the sun comes out on a winters day. I have to have weeks of sun before I fold my fuzzy woolen jumpers away for the season. But you know I'm dreaming of summer when I start baking with zucchini and cherry tomatoes in early spring.

Zucchini and Feta Pissaladiere
slightly adapted from Annabel Langbein's Simple Pleasures

For the Olive Oil Pastry:
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup lukewarm water

For the Toppings:
3 - 4 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 -14 cherry tomatoes, halved
100g feta, crumbled
2 tablespoon pine nuts
Handful parsely leaves
Handful mint leaves

Make the Olive Oil Pastry:
Put the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a food processor and whiz until combined. Add the olive oil and water and blitz again until the mixture forms a ball around the blade. Turn the dough out into a lightly floured work surface, bring it together into a smooth ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Make the Pissaladiere:
Put the grated zucchini into a tea towel and squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can. Heat the oil in a large frying pan to medium heat and tip the drained zucchini into it. Add the spring onions, garlic,chilli, herbs lemon juice and salt and pepper  and cook or about 5 minutes, or until softened. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220C fan-forced. Place a large baking tray in the oven to heat up. Once heated, take the tray out of the oven, line it with baking paper, lay the rolled out pastry on it. Spread the zucchini mixture evenly over the pastry. Top with cherry tomatoes, crumbed feta and pine nuts.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until it is golden and crisp. Sprinkle with torn parsely and mint leaves.