What to do when Tesco runs out of Houmous

If you live in St Andrews and you like houmous/hummus (that gorgeous chickpea paste), it may have happened to you more than once to be left without this student staple food. It is not an uncommon phenomenon for Tesco to run out of houmous. If you are really lucky, you may still be able to find canned chickpeas. If you are not that lucky well…come again another day or adventure yourself all the way to Aldi or Morrisons.

Or, there is one more option but it may be too much for your time and patience: a pack of dried chickpeas. You can leave these to soak in water over night and then boil them for 2 hours.

This is what to do in case you are lucky enough to get your posh hands on a can of chickpeas:

Homemade Houmous

(recipe inspired by Jamie Oliver and a few years experience in eating houmous)

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas/cooked chickpeas

juice of 1 lemon

1 full teaspoon tahini (sesame) paste (try Holland&Barret or to support the local shops try the Health Foods Store)

pinch of salt & peppa’

(The above mentioned ingredients are essential to make a real hoummous)

(The below mentioned ingredients are optional and you can try this version or experiment with the spices and things you like)

1 garlic clove, skinned

1 teaspoon olive oil

pinch of cumin

pinch of coriander

dried basil

paprika powder

Method:

If you are the happy owner of a blender/food processor then toss the drained chickpeas with some water (not too much) in the blender and blend until somooth. You can mash the chickpeas by hand. However I noticed that this is harder to do with Tesco chickpeas, as they are slightly harder. But maybe they will change the recipe :)

Now add the lemon juice and tahini paste and what you chose from the optional ingredients. Although I highly recommend that you add a teaspoon of olive oil no matter what…it makes the houmous much smoother.

I like to decorate the top with stripes of dried basil and paprika powder. 

Also feel free to try adding some cooked spinach, yoghurt, red chilli or whatever you think would be appropriate. Please send me any suggestions that you may have.

Enjoy!

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Happy Birthday Dad! or Dobos Torte

Dobos Torte can be translated as Hungarian Drummer Cake but it has nothing to do with the drums actually. The name Dobos comes from its inventor, but because of the sugary  hard surface of the cake people associtated it with a drum.

Dobos Torte’s recognizable characteristic is the sugary topping, that is crispy and it looks amazing. As a child I used to eat only that sugary part and I never bothered with the rest. The thing is I was not a big fan of my grandma’s cocoa filling, so I found no point in eating the rest.

Last year, on my dad’s birthday I decided to try a more traditional recipe, from his childhood, so the Dobos Torte was a perfect fir. But…my grandma, my dad’s mother warned me that I will never get it right, because it is difficult to bake so many layers of cake, and only she could do it. On the other hand, my other grandma said that I should give it a go and show my dad’s mom that I could do it too. 

Since my cooking skills were at steak and I was following a traditional recipe I did not try to improve the recipe by making it healthier and using less eggs and things like this. I did use whole wheat flour but I could not afford to reinvent other aspects. But I could not help not changing its appearance a bit. As you may notice, the surface is not just a burned sigar mirror, but I tried to draw some sugar lines on top, with a more denser structure in the middle. I kind of looks like a construction site, that I thought my dad would like since he is an architect.

So here comes the recipe:

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Caramel Glaze:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
Method:
For the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, then flour and vanilla until smooth.
Lightly coat the bottom of 7 (9-inch) round pans (or bake as many layers at a time as you have 9-inch cake pans) with cooking spray. Weigh the batter (remembering to subtract for the weight of the bowl). Divide that number by 7 and that’s how many ounces you will need for each pan in order to create even layers.
Bake for 7 minutes or until edges are very lightly brown. Don’t overbake. Remove from oven, loosen layer and invert onto a cake rack. Continue until all the batter is used.
For the filling: Melt chocolate in a microwave and set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter on low for 2 minutes, then on medium for 3 minutes and finally on high for 5 minutes.
Place egg whites and sugar in a double boiler over medium heat. Whisk gently to 120 degrees. Transfer to a mixing bowl and whip on high until stiff peaks form.
Fold the melted chocolate into the butter, then fold in the egg whites until all traces of white are gone. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Make caramel glaze: Place one cake layer on a cake rack set over a pan to catch the drips. Mix sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan. Without stirring, cook until sugar dissolves, boils and begins to darken in color. Swirling the pan, continue to boil until caramel becomes a golden brown. Immediately pour it over the layer.
With a buttered knife, quickly mark the glaze into 16 equal wedges without cutting all the way through.
Assembly: Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate, or in a 9-inch springform pan to use as a guide, and spread on 1/8-inch of filling. Repeat, finishing with the glazed layer on top. Use the rest of the filling to cover the sides of the cake. Sprinkle with ground nuts of choice, if desired. Refrigerate.
You can experiment with the design of the top layer as you want. The sugar glaze is very versatile and mouldable so go crazy.

To serve, slice along the lines marked in the caramel glaze.
In the end my cake turned out nicely…and it tasted so goood. My grandma uses cocoa. I chose a recipe with chocolate so the filling was more delicious. Everybody was pround that I made the Dobos Torte, a dessert we were all familiarized with, but made by a different baker.
Plus, my dad actually ate a slice and liked it. That was rewarding for me.
So, Happy Birthday Dad!

What is it going to be this year: Red…or Blue Valentine?

The above title should be read with Gossip Girl’s voice, otherwise it will not sound right.

It is time to share with you my take on Valentine’s Day Brunch last year (when I had someone to share it with. ahahaha!). As breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, a Valentine’s Brunch seemed perfect. Plus you get more time for… fun  afterwards, ya kno wha I mean (Scottish accent)

Notice that this menu is very simplistic and unsophisticated but give it a go anyway, whether it is Valentines or any other day.

Menu

Appetizer: Salmon Entrées

Main Course: Fondue du Fromage served with a crudité platter

Dessert: Chocolate Lava Cake with Berries

Recipes

Salmon Entrées

Ingredients:

Whole Wheat Bread

Cucamber

Radishes

Smoked/Marinated Salmon

Carrots

Parsley

Method:

I did not list any quantities as this a simple recipe and you can be very inventive and make as many appetizers as you like. Also you can use crackers or oatcakes (as long as they are healthy) instead of bread, and your choice of vegetables and spices.

Fondue du Fromage (Recipe from epicurious.com)

2 cups grated Emmental cheese

2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

1 garlic clove

1+1/2 cups dry/semi-dry white wine

Method:

If you do not have a fondue pot set, just use a thick bottomed pot. Rub the garlic clove.around the sides of the pot, pour the wine and simmer over moderate heat.

Next, add the cheese gradually, while stirring in a zig zag pattern to prevent cheese from balling up. Do not let boil. Simmer for 5 to 8 minutes until melted and creamy and amazing.

Set fondue pot over flame, or if you don’t have a fondue set just use your imagination to come up with a similar pot-flame system.

Serve with whole wheat breads like focaccia or baguette, cut into cubes and vegetables like carrots, cucambers, radishes etc.

Enjoy with a French-like appetite!

And now to the interesting part: Chocolate Lava Cakes with berries

(you will need oven safe ramekins, 4 large ones or 6 smaller ones)

Ingredients:

olive oil, to coat the ramekins

cocoa powder, to dust the ramekins

100g really dark chocolate (85%), chopped

2 eggs

5 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons butter at room temperature

2+3/4 tablespoons whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon creme fraiche

Method:

First, prepare the ramekins by coating them with olive oil (use a tissue soaked in a bit of oil) and dusting them with cocoa powder.

The next step is to melt the chocolate. Always do this over bain marie (not in the microwave), as this method protects the beautiful qualities of chocolate.

While the chocolate is melting of desire to be transformed into lava cakes, whisk the eggs with the sugar, until pale yellow and smooth.

When the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and mix in the butter. Chocolate and eggs are always a winning mixture when baking, so next add the whisked eggs to the chocolate mixture. Enrich this by adding the flour and the creme fraiche. Now the batter is done, so pour it into the remekins and place in the freezer overnight.

As these cakes  should be molted in the middle it helps if they are cooler when you put them in the oven.

To bake, preheat oven to 350 F, place ramekins on a baking tray and bake for 13 min. The cakes should be baked on the margines but moist in the middle. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 min. To take the cakes out of the ramekins, use a sharp knife to scrape the cake from the sides of the ramekins. Place the cake on a serving plate and top with berries or fruit of your choice.

Be nice to your Valentine throughout your relationship, not just on Valentine’s Day! Although this menu is very simple and basic it gives you a base on which you can improve and expand.

Have fun!

One more Cookie(for the Superbowl) and then Cake!

Well well well, superbowl is upon us and you should try this simple recipe to help you keep your eyes on the screen. Seriously, this recipe is easy peasy…and it is kind of my own invention inspired by the peanut butter cookie.

This cookie came to life when I blended some natural peanuts without removing the skins. I wanted to turn the peanuts into peanut butter but the skins did not allow for that to happen. So the end result was a peanut batter (not butter!) perfect for cookies.

Ingredients:

2 cups of (the above described) peanut batter

1 cup sugar

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

a bit of coconut, if you fancy it

Method:

Peheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

You can not get more easier than mixing everything together, by hand or with a mixer, in a bowl, a superbowl, obviously.

Take spoonfulls of the batter and place on the baking trays and then flatten with a fork to get that nice pattern on top.

Place in the oven for 10-12 min, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool.

Enjoy with caution, during a Superbowl party, but pay attention while you eat them. Do not get to caught in the match or you will end up eating more than you will want. Get it?

Long Time No See- But What About A Cookie?

I am still trying to figure out my blog settings and hopefully I will do so soon. It should look more professional, as my desserts do, yeah?

As I said, no more chatting, let us move on to: MIDNIGHT CRACKLES

Addapted from: Tuesdays with Dorie

Ingredients:

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsley chopped
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs

Method:

Set a saucepan over medium heat and add the butter, sugar and chocolate.  Stir until melted then transfer into a bowl suitable for using a mixer.

Next, just mix the flour, cocoa powder, salt and spices well.

Now back to the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time, while working with a mixer on low speed. This can be done by hand as well, but the mixer was invented to make our lazy lifes easier. It is time to add the dry ingredients, that is the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Mix until the dough turns into a ball. A shiny one.

Before using, the dough must be chilled, so halve the ball, wrap it in cling film and chill for one hour.

To bake, preheat oven to 350 F and line to backing trays with one of the most useful cooking inventions: backing paper.  I do not think that silicone mats are a good idea!

When the dough is ready to use just take a tablespoon full of it and shape it into a small shiny ball, lay it on the parchment paper and press it down against the tray. Repeat until dough is finished, trays are filled and family curious about the outcome.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 min…when done they should be a wee bit firm and have crackles on top. They are called Midnight Crackles after all. Remove from the oven and let cool.

From now on you will know what to do with them.

When in Scotland…make Shortbread

Over the past years since I have started this cooking and baking thing that i do, i have made a lot of recipes and then took pictures of everything I cooked and baked, so in the next posts I will just share the recipes I already have, which are already tried and tested.

As the title anounces, I want to share my shortbread recipes. Shortbread is overall so versatile and easy to make and cand be used as a basis for many other recipes.

All you need is butter, sugar, wholewheat flour znd inspiration to make all kinds of shortbread, from plain ones to cocoa and chocolate chips.

So I invite you to try these recipes and explore this English delight!

Cornmeal Shortbread

Korova Cookies

Cornmeal Shortbread-recipe-makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 200 g/2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cups + 2 teaspoons cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves

Method:

Mix the butter and the sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the flour and 2 tablespoons cornmeal and the orange zest and mix well, until the mixture has the consistency of a crumbly dough. If you are tired of mixing with a spoon/fork just use a blender or a mixer. Oh, and do not forget to add the salt, cinnamon, cloves.

Form the dough in two logs (any size you want) and refrigerate them for about 1 hour. If you take my example, I usually skip this step because I do not have time to refrigerate the dough, but you can also make the dough ahead and keep it in the frige dor 2-3 days. Just do not freeze it. I mean, I would recommend you not  to freeze it as the consistency is slightly different after freezing and you can tell that the dough is not thet fresh. Just saying…

Now, preheat you oven to 300 degrees.

Scatter the 1/4 cup cornmeal on a baking sheet or whichever surface in your kitchen and roll the two logs of dough until coated with cornmeal. It’s time to cut the logs in rounds, preferably 1 cm or more in thickness and place the almost-finished cornmeal shortbread on a baking tray, lined with baking paper. I do recommend you use baking paper as it is an amazing invention; it saved my baking creations soooo many times and plus it keeps the trays clean.

Bake until golden, about 25-30 min. But try not no eat them rightaway, they taste better when cooled.

Comming next: Korova Cookies(I added these in the Shortbread section because they are made just like shortbread but you just need to add baking soda). Brilliant!

My Birthday

I decided that my first post should be about my birthday. I mean my birthday cakes, more exactly!

On my actual birthday day, I asked my mom to make a Chocolate Biscuit Cake, that she used to make for my brother and I when we were little. I was so glad to see my mom cooking kids food, because she did such a great job cooking for us.

Then, I decided to celebrate my birthday with another friend and, of course, I promised her I would make her a cake. I chose a coconut cake and modified the recipe to my baking beliefs.

When I make cakes or desserts for people, I want to make something that represents them, that I know they would like. I am a beginner in my hobby an there are some baking fails, but I learn from every of them, so people that taste my desserts will be happy everytime. Mainly, I cook for others, so it is of high importance to me to see that people are enjoying my dishes.

Therefore, I like to make desserts healthier and I replace ingredients and like to experiment that is why sometimes I fail, but things that turn out as they should are greatly appreciated.

Anyway, more of my lifestyle and thoughts will be shared throughout every post and I hope they will inspire people as others have inspired me.