Monday, 23 May 2011

Understaning Fruit Jams & Canning, together with my Favourite Figs Jam Recipe...


Everything can be found in a supermarket, but if you have grown up in a home, where the majority of your food is home-made, you will definitely know the difference! Home-made foods taste fabulous. When you make your own, you use the best quality ingredients, which totally changes the outcome. The freshness of the fruits and your attention will ensure results unmatched with mass produced products. With that said, you are totally free to flavour your jams with your favourite spices, additions and you are also free to go for purees, chunks, halved or whole fruits, which of course make up for presentation and the whole experience of devouring your delicious creations.

By making Food @ home
you are creating
your children's memories
I know I have said this a lot, but it never gets OLD!! By making foods at home, you are creating your children's memories. They will be off with their lives, and then somehow, somewhere they taste or smell something that takes them right back to HOME, where they first experienced it! That is a moment when they look back with fondness of you, of Home and their childhood -  the roots. This in itself is very rewarding! I do remember the sweet aromas of caramelising fruits as my mum made Jams. The kitchen smelled SWEET, literally sweetness has an aroma. Try it, make my Supreme Sugar Syrup Recipe and smell the steam coming from the pot. You will smell SWEET. The whole process from preparing the fruits, to sterilising the jars, to filling them and finally having them for breakfast... Unmatched!

When it comes to making Fruit Jellies & Jams, you need to buy top quality produce. You also need to know the basics of canning. In this post, I will explain to you the whole procedure from fruit to Canned Jam. It is a bit of a read, but well worth it. Once you know these basics, you will be able to jump right through to the recipes and start making your own. You will then find below the recipe for my favourites Figs Jam, which you will love. So lets get to it :)

Use the freshest
best quality ingredients
Every food creation starts with the Ingredients. When it comes to picking the fruits for making jam, go for the freshest fruits available, this ensures the best colour and flavour. This is the reason why, it is best to use fruits that are in season. Don't go for conventionally frozen fruits, they have absorbed a lot of liquid and the quality is not good for Jamming. Unsweetened canned or frozen fruits can be used for making Jams, but the best result is achieved with fresh fruits.


An example of
pectin powder
In some recipes you will find Pectin as an ingredient. Pectin is naturally present in some fruits, but not all. It is usually added as an ingredient when not present in the fruit. You cannot substitute a form of pectin for another, and you should always add it as indicated by a recipe, no more no less. Using less pectin than specified in the recipe will produce a product that is more syrup than Jam. Make sure to use pectin that is not expired!

Sugar is an important ingredient in creating Jams. It isn't used only for sweetening, it is in fact used as a preservative and aids in the jelling process. Therefore, always use the exact amount specified by the recipe.

Some recipes will include some lemon juice or cetric acid. In jams, Acid is needed to aid in the jelling process as well as in developing the depth of flavour. It is not added in all recipes, as its addition is determined by the Acid content of the fruit you are jamming.

Always wash your fruits thoroughly before you start the jamming process. Prepare one batch at a time, and do not double a given recipe. When making jam, make sure you have sufficient time and work without interruption, as you will have to keep an eye on your cooking fruits, and will have to sterilise the jars before filling them. There is no point sterilising if you are going to end up leaving them on the counter top, as you will have to repeat the process.

In general, when cooking fruits for making jam, you will want to reach a state of vigorous boil, that is when the mixture is boiling so fast that you cannot stir it stop the boil by stirring. Be careful as hot sugars can cause sever burns. Use a big pot to avoid the mixture from falling over the edge. Ideally your pot should not be more than a third full. You will notice that a foam forms as you are cooking the fruits. This is normal as a result of boiling. You will have to skim the foam off though throughout the cooking process using a metal spoon with a long handle. Sterilise your jars before filling with Jam (process explained fully below), then fill and seal off. Let Jams sit 12-24 hours to set before opening the can. Jams done this way can last up to 6 months, if not opened.

Canning & Sterilising Jars 
When it comes to canning Jams, you will have to sterilise your jars before you fill them. This is done in order for the Jam to be preserved in a clean environment that does not allow harmful bacteria to form. If you do not sterlise your jars, the jam will go bad.

Choosing the jars Go for standard canning jars that are tempered to withstand the heat. Afterall you will boil these jars to sterilise them, and you will pour hot fruit jam into them before sealing. Make sure your jars are not cracked, chipped around the rim. Opt for flat metal lids that have a built in sealing compound, or go for screw band lids. Flat bands are designed for one time use only, while screw band lids can be reused if the band is in good shape and not rusty...

Canner
If you do not have a water bath canner, which is a deep pot with a wire rack that goes inside it to hold the jars, then make sure you have a deep enough large pot that can hold the filled jars while being fully covered with boiling water. Pressure canners are not used in making Jams, they are more for vegetables and low-acid foods.

You will need a jar lifter to take the jars out of the boiling water, but any non-slip tongues would do.

Keep your work surface clean at all times, and thoroughly wash your hands before you start and throughout. You need everything to be clean, or you will contaminate your sterilised jars.

The Sterlising Process

Standard screw top Jars
  • Fill a large deep pot with enough water to cover the jars (do not put the jars there yet). Place the water-filled pot over high heat and bring to boiling.
  • Meanwhile; wash empty canning jars with soap and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  • Place the washed Jars in the boiling water for 10 minutes (Important note: Water boiling point varies depending the altitude you are in. If you live in area that is less than 1000 feet above sea level then place jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. If you live in an area that is more than 1000 feet above sea level, then add 1 minute for every 1000 feet extra)  
  • Once ready sterilised, use your tongues to pick them out of the water. Place them on clean cotton kitchen towel to prevent them from slipping as you fill them.
  • The same process is done for the lids.
  • Fill the jars with the cooked jam allowing head space. Head space is the amount of space between food tops and the rim of the jar. Head space is necessary to create a vacuum and for the jar to seal. Use the head space specified by the recipe, if any. Measure the head space using a ruler.
  • Once the jars are filled with the cooked jam, use a clean, dry rubber spatula to release any trapped air by sliding down the sides. Do not use a metal spatula or knife to release the air bubbles.
  • Wipe the rims of the jar with a clean damp cotton cloth, as the food on the sides will prevent proper sealing. Seal the jars tightly.
  • Place the sealed, jam filled jars back in the boiling water canner, without touching each other and follow the exact timings of the recipe. 
  • pick up the jars, place on wire rack or dry kitchen towels, leaving space for air to circulate between the jars.
  • Let the jars cool completely for 12 hours. Once cooled, press the centre of the lid to check if it is propperly sealed. if the centre remains pressed, then jar is sealed properly. if it pops in and out it is not properly sealed. In this case you will have to sterilise another jar and lid and repeat the canning process. Refrigerate and use within 2-3 days, this allows the jam to set. If you wish to freeze the jam, do so within 24 hours of processing.
  • Canned Food should be covered by the cooking liquid. if the liquid shrinks after sealing the food is safe. But if the liquid was not enough to cover the food before sealing, then the food will discolour and maybe even dry. Make sure to use jars that have less liquid before the fully covered ones. This way you will ensure they do not discolour.
  • Label jars with content and production date. If you are making more than one batch, label the jars with batch number. This way, if a jar spoils, you will be able to identify the batch that it belongs to.
  • Store these sterilised and sealed, jam filled jars in a cool dry and dark place for up to 1 year :)
These Jam filled jars, make a very nice gift. So make sure to share with friends and family and send them jars of your jam creations.



Important Safety Measures
  • The odor from an opened jam jar is supposed to be pleasant. At any point the odor is not right, discard that jar and its content. Do not eat that jam.
  • Always check opened jars for odors, patches of mold, foamy or murky appearance, or if the lid had popped up. If any of those are present, discard the jam and do not consume.
  • Jars for canning jams must be sterilised.
  • Follow altitude instructions in your sterilising process.



Now you can Make your own Jam & Have it :) So here is my favourite
Granny's Very Simple Figs Jam Recipe
You Need
1 kg Fresh, ripe yet firm good quality Figs
200g caster sugar
4 tbsp water
1/4 cup toasted slithered almonds (optional, for crunch)
1 tsp Dima's Cake Spice mix (optional for an extra layer of flavour)

Wash & dry the figs. Quarter, half or slice the figs into circles.

Start off by preparing the syrup. Place water, sugar and spice mix in a large pot over medium-high heat, and stir till sugar is melted. Once melted add the figs, and almonds to the syrup and vigorously boil till thickened. Skim off the foam when present.


To test for doneness, dip a metal spoon into the boiling mixture, then hold it over the pot. If it is done, a few drops will hang off the edge of spoon, then come together forming an almost transparent sheet-like consistency. or If you have a candy thermometer, then place it into the boiling mixture. The jelling point is when the thermometer registers 220F (or 8F above the water boiling point at sea level).

Jam Spoon test: When it is done the jam will form a sheet-like film as in the demonstration above

While cooking Sterilise your jars as explained above.

Fill cooked Jam inside the prepared jars, making sure the fruits are covered fully with the syrup. Allow 1/2 inch head space between food top and rim. Wipe the rims and seal with sterilised lids. Process sealed jam jars in boiling water canner for 15 minutes for 1 pint jars and 20 minutes for 1 quart jars.

Allow to set at room temperature for 12 hours. Test the lids by pressing the centre and ensuring it remains pressed. Store in cool, dark, and dry place for up to 1 year.

Let the jam rest for 3 days before opening.


Fig Jam is deliscious. Both Figs and Fig Jam pair very well with cheeses, specifically soft cheeses like Camembert, Brie, or blue cheeses. Figs Jam is also good with crispy bacon, or roast beef... For the purist, you will love this simply spread on buttered toast! Don't forget that you can gift a home-made jam jar to a friend... and when it is one that is this good, your friends will definitely appreciate it!!
Give it a try, and I assure you, you are in for a treat...


Thank you for reading this post, hope you have enjoyed it :) Speak more about food soon, meanwhile, why don't you share with me your canning experiences? Have you ever made home-made jam? Have you ever sterilised Jars? Would you give it a try after reading this post? Leave me a comment, I love to hear from you...
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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Macarons!

makes 35 whole Macarons

Contrary to common belief, Macarons are very easy to make. These beautiful small round biscuits, which are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside are simply made with ground almonds, sugar and egg whites! Nothing more to it! The preparation varies from city to city and from manufacturer to another, but it is all the same in essence. Some prepare macarons from French Meringue, and some from Itlaian Meringue. Some Don't even whip up the eggs to peaks, but instead, whip it lightly by hand, then encorporate into the dry ingredients... Whichever way you decide to go, you will always end up with the same texture macarons, and they will always be received with much admiration.

Macarons are usually flavoured with nuts, coffee, chocolate or fruits... nowadays, macarons are flavoured to almost anything you like. They come in every flavour and colour. It is preferable though to use powdered flavouring and colouring, liquids are not ideal for use with Macarons.

Macarons are usually pairs of the macaron biscuit joint together by a chocolate Ganache or creamy filling. Even the fillings have been used in varieties thesedays, and therefore no limit to what you can do, and how you can flavour your macarons. You can use flavour infused Ganaches, Custardy cream, whipped cream, buttercream, or any cream you fancy!

The classic presentation of Mcarons is round. Originally different towns had different presentations. Amongst the famous French Macarons are the Monmorillion, which are shaped like  cornets and sold on their baking paper. The Nancy Macarons remain the most famous though.


As with everything, you can now shape macarons in a variety of shapes, including squares and hearts, which will assist you in theming when necessary.

You can even, place a lolly stick in the middle of your macaron to make a Macaron Lolly as in the picture below. This is especially nice for baby showers, and for children's parties. you can present them in a vase, or standing on a foam block. Macarons are so popular that they are used to brighten up any desserts buffet. Macarons can be used in cake decoration, and as a garnish for different desserts. They are also given at events, such as weddings as giveaways and party favours. Their small size and ability to be tinted in any shade, make them a favourite option for elegant edible favours.


Macaron Towers remain at the top of the list when talking about presentation. These towers are elegant, colourful, and very irresistible, they truly will liven up your buffet, and party scene.
Now here is how you can make these delicious pretty biscuits..

Almond Macarons
You Need

100g Finely Ground Almond
200 Confectioner's Sugar
3 Egg Whites, eggs are separated a day ahead, and whites kept at room temperature overnight in an airtight container to cure.
4 tbsp Caster Sugar
Seeds of a Vanilla Pod

Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat, baking paper or rice paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the icing sugar and ground almond. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla seeds with electric mixer, then gradually add the caster sugar and beat to soft peaks.

Fold egg white mixture into the dry ingredients mixture and continue to fold till you reach the ribbon consistency. place a round tip in a piping bag, fill the bag with macaroon mixture. pipe small circles on lined baking sheet. don't make them big, macaroons are best small. Once you have piped all the mixture on lined sheets. Leave to set on the counter top for 1 hour. This will form a skin that becomes the crunchy bit after baking.




Preheat oven to 300F, bake macarons for 10-12 minutes, keeping a close eye on them as they can easily burn. Cool completely, remove from sheet and fill with Ganache, cream..or your choice of filling and stick the 2 together.


You can store Macarons in an air tight container in the fridge seperated by layers of baking paper for up to 6 days. These baked and Ganache joint macarons can also be frozen for up to 3 months...


You will love these, so make sure you try them :)



***If you liked this post and found the information useful, I would love to hear your comments below. 
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Love, Dima :)
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Monday, 16 May 2011

Seafood Paella & a Little Bit About Saffron

Serves 4

I love Paella! To me, it stands for everything good. Seafood and specifically mussels, Saffron, and of course Rice - which is ultimate comfort. The combination of flavours in Paella are heavenly, but best of all is the almost melt in your mouth experience! Love, love love...

When talking about Paella, I find, it is a must to tap a little bit into Saffron. The world's most expensive spice is not so for no reason!



Soaked Saffron
Saffron has been famous since ancient times. It has been used as medicine, food colouring, as well as for flavouring food with its distinct flavour. Saffron threads which you see and use in your kitchens are essentially the threads of the Crocus Sativus Flower, which is originally the product of Western Asia, specifically Persia. Past trade has spread Saffron trade to Europe and India, where aspiring merchants tried to cultivate it. Cultivation worked in Spain and despite many attempts, did not go so well in Germany, Italy and France... Nowadays Persia and Spain are the world's largest Saffron producers. Persia being the largest. The reason why this spice is expensive is because of its rarity, and difficulties of cultivation, as it requires specific climate and soil conditions. Even when all goes well and cultivation works, 1 acre of land filled with Crocus Sativus flowers will yield only 10 pounds of Saffron threads!!



Toasting Saffron
If you are an avid user of Saffron, then it is worth investing in buying large amounts. Yet, if you are the average home user, then it is best to buy good quality Saffron in smaller amounts. With that said, to store saffron, in order for the flavours not to diminish, it is best kept in a cool, dry and dark place, in an airtight container, ideally for up to 6 months. Under these conditions, saffron will remain good for up to three years, as in it won't go bad! Mind you, after 6 months the flavours will start diminishing, which is why, it is best to purchase small amounts if you are don't use it regularly.
Grinding Saffron
As with any spice, whole is always more powerfully flavoured than ground. It is therefore, always better used as threads, rather than powder. However, if you only have access to powdered Saffron, make sure it is good quality saffron, by tasting it, as it could be mixed with ground turmeric (Kurkum) and other threads. In application, Saffron threads are sometimes soaked in a liquid, mainly: water, rose water, or milk to prepare it for cooking. At other applications it could be toasted then ground before use in a recipe. Again, just like with all herbs and spices, if you rub Saffron between your fingers, your heat will help it release its oils, therefore make for a more aromatic outcome.


Lets get right into the making of
my favourite Seafood Paella
You Need

12 black mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
12 prawns, peeled and deveined
12 clams, scrubbed
125g scallops
200g white fish fillets, skinned and cut into chunks
Row Squid (calamari) rings
4 large Crab legs (optional)
100g Cherizo, sliced (if you do not find Cherizo or do not eat them, you can use good quality cheese filled hot dogs instead)
1 slice bacon, chopped
75g frozen peas
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, skinned and roughly chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 red onion extra, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup medium grain rice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine, or extra chicken stock if not using wine
1/4 tsp or a pinch of good quality Saffron threads
a pinch of cayenne pepper
Finely chopped parsley for garnish

In a sauceapn, heat onions and wine or chicken stock if not using wine, once steaming add the mussels, cover and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Shake the pot twice throughout, instead of opening the lid and stirring. Remove the pan from heat, drain, reserving liquid, and discard closed mussels.

While this is cooking, blend the saffron with warm chicken stock, set aside.

In a paella pan or a braising pan, heat the olive oil, bacon, garlic and extra 1/2 red onion, add red capsicum and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chorizos and cayenne pepper. stir to coat. Season with salt & black pepper. Stir in the reserved liquid from cooking the mussels. Add the rice and spread around the pan.

Add the soaked saffron and stock and stir into the paella pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat, uncovered for 15 minutes. Do not stir at this point.

After 15 minutes are done, add peas, prawns, calamari rings, and push them in a little bit. Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. When 5 minutes are done, uncover and turn the rice mixture over once. Cook till the rice is tender and the seafood is cooked through, do not over cook or seafood will turn out rubbery. if the rice still has a bite, add a little extra stock and cook for 5 minutes extra.
Add the mussels and Scallops in the last 5 minutes of the cooking.

Remove from heat, and let it rest for a few minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve warm...
Goodness!

Dig In ;)

Ah! Paella is one of those dishes that get me drooling by the mention of it!! Hope you will try this recipe, it is truly a symphony of flavours :) Let me know what you think, leave me a comment...
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Saturday, 14 May 2011

Doughnuts at Home, along with Sugar Glaze & Chocolate Sauce recipes

Makes 12 Doughnuts
Baked Doughnuts reduce the fat content
Doughnuts are the world's favourite snack! There is something to appeal to everyone, if you like chocolate then dip the doughnuts in chocolate, if you have kids, top with sprinkles, if you like custard, then fill the centres with custard, if you are working on a theme, then tint your glaze, drizzle shapes and for the purist go for the plain glazed option! Regardless of the topping choice, the dough is the same! And here is a recipe that is as close as it gets to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (my personal favourites). Krispy Kreme doughnuts are fluffy, and light. This recipe produces the same texture, and is big on flavour. They are super easy to make, and will definitely win you points with everyone, so give it a go...

PS frying doughnuts gives them a deeper colour than baking. But baking the doughnuts is a healthier option, and reduces the fat content. Have a plain baked doughnut with a small drizzle of honey for a healthier snack, If You Can resist the temptation!
Roll out the dough and cut
doughnut shapes using cookie cutters

For Doughnuts
You Need
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
30g butter, softened
2 tbsp sugar
1 sachet instant yeast
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp Vanilla essence


If baking the doughnuts, bake at 350F. If frying the doughnuts, fry in 375F oil.

In a large bowl, place warm water and sprinkle yeast on top of the water. Mix together, and add the warm milk (not hot), softened butter and sugar. Mix to combine. Add egg and mix. Add the flour, stir using a wooden spoon until all is combined. Cover and let rest for 1 hour.


Turn the dough onto a floured surface, knead lightly to incorporate the flour. The dough will be sticky at first, but will get less sticky as you knead. Roll it out to desired thickness, and using cookie cutters cut out the shape of the doughnut.


Carefully, transfer cut doughnuts onto a lined cookie sheet (line the sheet with baking paper). Let rest for 30 minutes to proof.




Bake in Preheated oven 15-20 minutes,


or fry in hot oil for 2 minutes on each side.


Sugar Glazed Doughnuts
Meanwhile prepare 
The Sugar Glaze
You Need
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
25g butter, melted

Mix sugar, water and vanilla till well combined. Add butter and mix well to incorporate. Dip cooked doughnuts in glaze then rest on a wire rack to dry.

Tint Icing to your desired colour
You can flavour your glaze to cinnamon if you like. Just add 1 tsp cinnamon powder to the icing sugar in step 1. Using food colourings, you can tint the glaze to your favourite colours, or to colours that suit your chosen theme.


You can dip sugar glazed doughnuts in chocolate sauce, or just the tops. You can then drizzle the tops with white icing, white chocolate or even top with colourful sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles or matching colour sprinkles.


You can even make minature doughnuts, and one bite munchkin doughnuts...


For chocolate Sauce
You Need
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp milk


In a saucepan, place butter and milk and put over medium heat to warm and for the butter to melt. Once the butter has melted remove from heat and stir in the sifted cocoa and icing sugar. Stir till all are well incorporated and the mixture is smooth and brown.

Dip the doughnut tops, or whole in the chocolate and place on a wire rack to dry.

You can roll doughnuts in sugar, flavoured sugar, tinted sugar, nuts or even a combination of toppers... There is so much you can do, and no matter what you decide to go for, doughnuts turn out great every time. You can make a doughnut cake, by stacking doughnuts on top of each other in the shape of a cake, and serve it with candles instead of the main cake. This is particularly trendy at the moment "Doughnut Tower Cake". Doughnuts can therefore be the centrepiece at your desserts table!

Picture from MarthaSterwart.com


This doughnuts recipe is a treat from my kitchen to yours, hope you have enjoyed this post and thank you for dropping by :) would love nothing more than hearing from you, so don't shy away... leave me a comment :)

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Chocolate Filo Parcels

Very easy to make, but a treat in every bite
I was watching TV last night, and there was Giada de Laurentiis talking about her favourite Eats: Chocolate Filo Parcels. She was describing how good they taste, and how the chocolate oozes out as soon as she cuts through the Filo. I have to admit, her description and the look on her face made me almost taste these parcels!! Well, I called it a night and turned in.
Apparently, I had really craved the parcels, that I spent the night dreaming about them!! So here you go, The Recipe to make these little guilty treats... I know I am making them today!!! :)
If you are up to it, check out my post on How To Make Fresh Phyllo Dough and make your own phyllo :)

You Need
9 large sheets, filo pastry, thawed if frozen
100g semisweet chocolate pieces
3/4 cup ground hazelnuts
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped (optional, added for crunch)
1 cup Heavy whipping cream or thickened cream
6 tbsp melted butter
Icing Sugar for dusting

Preheat Oven to 375F.

Melt you chocolate
in a double boiler
Set a double boiler, make sure to fill the bottom pot, with just enough water to cover no more than 1/4 of the pot. Basically you don't want the water to touch the bottom of the top pot, only steam will. You need just enough water to create steam. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
Meanwhile, place your chocolate pieces in the 2nd pot, and place this pot on top of the one with the simmering water. Your melting chocolate must never get in contact with water. Stir occasionally, until the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In the meantime, heat your cream up a little bit. Do not boil. Add over cooled chocolate and stir to incorporate.

In a bowl, mix together the ground hazelnuts, and the roughly chopped ones. Stir in the chocolate mixture and mix well. Set aside.

Cut your filo sheets into 4 squares each. Keep the sheets you are not using covered with a damp cotton cloth, to avoid them drying out. Brush one square sheet with the melted butter, top with another sheet and brush with melted butter again. Place 1 tbsp of chocolate mixture in the centre of the brushed sheets and bring the corners up and twist them together to form a parcel enclosing the filling. Press the centre of the parcel to secure. Continue making the parcels as described till you have finished all.

Brush a cookie sheet with a little bit of melted butter, don't go over board with the butter! You don't want to fry the bottoms of your parcels, the butter here is just to prevent the parcels from sticking.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Remove from heat, and cool down slightly.
Dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

To serve you can drizzle with chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis or both. But they are good to eat on their own! Indulge!!!


Thank you for dropping by my kitchen, and remember to keep the love in yours :) come back again, and before you go leave me a comment, love to hear from you :)
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Saturday, 7 May 2011

Salt-Baked Whole Fish!

For a dramatic effect, place a little cognac around the salt dome and light it up, 
wait till the fires is out then crack the dome. Be careful don't burn yourself or start a fire!
Years ago, when I was living in Bahrain, Olivetto, a very trendy Italian Restaurant and lounge opened, and everyone was going mad about the Salt Fish. I hadn't tried the "salt fish" yet, but a long time ago, my mum had taught me a recipe to cook whole chicken in a dome of salt! I loved the chicken recipe, because back then I found it cool to cook in salt! Also because the outcome is a very moist chicken, that was very fragrant too! I loved it. Not to forget that when you cook in a dome of salt, you are always presented with the opportunity of a dramatic effect when serving. You get to crack the dome and allow for the aromas to kick start your taste buds... mmmm....
So when I heard about this fish, I thought it was a wonderful idea. I went and tried it and it was every bit of what I had expected and more. Delicious, moist, and best of all ultra light with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon! Heaven! I started making this recipe for special occasions and when I want to impress my guests with a theatrical presentation: with the lighting up of the salt, the cracking, the revealing of the fish and Finally the tasting!! Just look at their faces :) Love the Drama lol

I was so happy yesterday when I checked my email, Someone requested "Salt-baked Fish Recipe" :) I thought this is a perfect gift from my kitchen to yours... You have got to try this one, you will love it....

When making this dish keep in mind that it is intended to be very simple. The best foods are simple foods. This dish relies on the fish, a spring of fresh Thyme, a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for flavour, that is all. With that said, you can use flavoured salt, use rosemary instead of thyme...etc. Just don't over complicate it, and it is best kept simple, rather than complex flavours!
Sea Salt
For the fish, go for whole Sea Bass, Red Snapper, Grouper, Blue Eye...

to serve 6
You Need
1 large  whole fish or 2 medium whole fish, scaled and cavities cleaned
for more info on cleaning fish Check out my post Understanding Fish & Seafood part 1
3kg Sea salt
3 egg whites
2 lemons, sliced into circles
Fresh thyme springs
Olive oil for drizzling
Lemon wedges


Preheat your oven to 400F.


In a large bowl, mix egg whites and salt until totally incorporated. In a large baking dish, place some of the salt mixture to cover the bottom. This will be the base on which your fish will rest.

Rinse your fish with cold water, removing any stuck scales. Rinse the cavities well. Pat dry, the inside and outside of your fish with paper towels. Set on top of the salt base, in the baking dish. Put the lemon slices & thyme springs inside the cavities of your fish. sprinkle with black pepper. Cover the fish completely with the remaining salt and press firmly to seal.

Bake the fish for 30-40 minutes. The salt dome should be a slight golden brown colour and firm to the touch. To present the fish, bring to the table as it is on the baking dish. you can sprinkle a little bit of cognac and light it up, or you can skip this step.
Tap the top of the salt dome with your knife to crack it open. remove the salt to one side of the bakind dish. Sometimes the skin gets stuck to the salt and ends up being removed too. Not to worry, as you will habe to remove it yourself if it doesn't peel off with the salt.

Peel off the skin and cut off fillets of fish. Place on guest's serving plates. Sprinkle with EV Olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately.

Definitely one of my favourites!! Hope you like this recipe. Share your thoughts with me, would love to hear them, leave me a comment :)
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Thursday, 5 May 2011

Granola Cups; Breakfast can't get any Better!!

Healthy can be good too!
When it comes to adopting healthy life styles, breakfast is the first step. We all know how important breakfast is. We have been exhaustingly hearing this message. This is not meant to tap on clichés, but I have to say this is so true. Food is in essence fuel, and breakfast fuels your day, giving you energy to go on, starts your metabolism, and most importantly kick starts your internal processes. This is a good place to start your healthy lifestyle!
Many skip breakfast, and when asked why, everyone seemed to agree that they cannot be bothered preparing breakfast in the morning, and many said they got tired and bored of "cereal". Others thought that they eat more throughout the day once they have breakfast, so they prefer to go on empty instead!
Flax seed
Here is the thing... if you have a sugary, fatty or simple-carb loaded breakfast, you are likely to eat more throughout the day. Because simple-carbs and sugars take you on an instant insulin high, which leads to a sharp drop of sugar levels, shortly after that meal. Which leads you to start craving sugars and keep picking throughout your day. But Good news, you can avoid that! You need slow sugar-releasing meals, low GI options. These foods will give you the required energy, kick start your metabolism, and the slow release of sugar will keep you energised and feeling full till lunch time. Granola is one of these options.
Not only technically, but Granola, when done right, is a super delicious breakfast that will have you waiting for that first meal. You might even not resist it as a snack during the day!!
Rolled Oats
This recipe includes all the ingredients that are super good for your body. Like oats, which are known to decrease your cholesterol levels and is good for your heart. Flax seed is one of the most celebrated food at the moment. The Flax seed craze is due to its low carb content, high fiber, good fat, and Omega 3 load. It is now known to be a dieter's best friend as it loads you up with all things good, and will keep you satisfied therefore keeps hunger at bay. Another ingredient in this recipe is Canola Oil. Canola Oil, is low on saturated fat, and includes Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and therefore is a healthier oil option, recognised by the American Dietetic Association, and the American Heart Association.
I am exploring these properties with you, so to let you know the health benefits and hopefully inspire you to make better options when grocery shopping. Little changes to our diets, and our choices can impact our lives greatly. I am referring to healthy here, and by no means referring to the 'Size Zero' craze!
This recipe will last up to 6 months in an air-tight container. You will make it ahead of time, and will only need to pore into a bowl and eat. Very convenient. So now you have no excuse! have Breakfast!

To Make Granola
You Need
10 cups Rolled Oats, preferably brown oats
1/2 cup wheat germ, from health shops & can sometimes be found at supermarkets
1/2 cup flax seed, milled (finally available @Spinney's)
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup slithered almonds, toasted till lightly browned
3/4 cup Canola oil
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cups honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon powder


Preheat oven to 300F.

In a large bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seads and almonds, toss to combine and set aside.

In a saucepan, combine, water, oil, honey, vanilla & cinnamon. Place over medium heat, and stir till thoroughly combined without bringing to a boil. pour onto the mixed dry ingredients and mix to coat. Pour the granola mixture onto a jelly roll pan and spread into an even layer. Toast in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring twice throughout.

Cool mixture completely, separate if any get clumped together. Place in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 6 months. If they last that long! Pour into bowl when ready to eat.


For these Ultra Delicious Granola Cups
You Need
3 tbsp Granola (prepared from the recipe above)
2 tbsp Organic Vanilla Yoghurt, or your preferred yoghurt
2 tsp honey, maple syrup, or vanilla syrup
Roasted pineapple pieces
Fresh Blackberries
Fresh blueberries

Place 1 tsp of honey at the bottom of the cup. top with 1 tbsp granola, top with vanilla yoghurt, then with the remaining 2 tbsp granola. Top all with the rosted pineapple pieces and berries, drizzle with the remaining 1 tsp honey.

You will love this, just give it a go. If you are not into yoghurt, then serve granola with milk, vanilla soy milk, or rice milk.



Thank you for dropping by, and hope You liked this post. These are my fave ever breakfast. Try them out they will become yours too :))

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