MILLIONAIRE’S CARAMEL OAT SLICE

Have you ever racked your brain wondering what to take a plate for an office morning tea? Not just office morning tea – I mean a baby shower or for other occasions when you are asked to take something. If you want an easy, fail proof, easy to impress slice, then look no further. I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my own personal preferences but this is Dean Brettschneider, the Global Baker’s recipe. Do try it as like everyone who has tasted this slice, you’ll be craving for more!

Millionaire’s caramel oat slice

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BASE

125g melted butter

120g plain flour

70g rolled oats

50g coconut

120g brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

CARAMEL FILLING

1 tin (380g) caramel condensed milk

30g butter

45g golden syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Good pinch of sea salt (crystals)

CHOCOLATE TOPPING

100g dark chocolate (62% cocoa)

20g butter

75g evenly chopped toasted and skinned hazelnuts

METHOD

For the base

 Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Mix all dry ingredients together and then pour in the melted butter and combine until it forms a loose dough (a little crumbly). Prepare a 28cm by 22 cm baking tin by lining with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before applying caramel filling. Make caramel filling while base is baking.

CARAMEL FILLING

Place all the ingredients except the salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring all the time until it becomes thickened. Watch it does not burn.

Spread evenly on warm base and sprinkle the sea salt on top. Place back in oven for further 12 -15 minutes. Cool well.

CHOCOLATE TOPPING

Melt chocolate and butter together. Spread evenly over cooled caramel and base. Sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate for a couple of hours at least. When cool, use a sharp knife and cut into squares. Clean knife edge with every cut so you have clean squares.

To prepare roasted hazel nuts, place nuts on a shallow baking tray. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius. Check often to ensure that the nuts don’t burn. Cool and rub nuts in your fingers to loosen skins. Handpick nuts out and discard skins. Chop with a knife or in a food processor.

MIXED NUT CHIKKI (BRITTLE)

I learnt to make this brittle from my friend Rachana. I had tasted it more than a year ago and when I asked for the recipe, she said she eye balls all the ingredients, so she needs to come over to my place and demonstrate. We did just that a couple of weeks back. In India, brittle is called chikki and there are family variations. Sesame seed and peanut brittle are most common. Chikki is made with jaggery and an easy substitute would be muscavado sugar.

Mixed nut chikki

This mixed nut version uses edible gum called gond or gaund or gondh. The gum is dried resin of axle wood tree (type of Acacia – the botanical name is Anogeissus latifolia) and is believed to be a wonderful warming food according to Ayurveda.

Frying the edible gum until it is popped

Copra is dried coconut kernel – commonly sold in Indian supermarkets in the half shell or uncut as a whole.

INGREDIENTS

300g cashew nuts

350g almonds

150g pumpkin kernels

200g dried copra

75g sesame seeds

50g sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon pepper

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

½ teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)

32g edible gum or gond

6 tablespoons ghee

750g good quality jaggery

METHOD

Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and spread the cashew nuts and almonds, making sure to keep them separate. Roast in oven for 25 – 30 minutes until they are well roasted and crisp. Once cool, cut or process in the food processor so they are roughly chopped.

Dry roast the sesame seeds. Place the pumpkin kernels in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 30 seconds intervals until they are roasted. May take a couple of minutes based on your microwave wattage. Finely slice the copra and dry roast in a pan.

Prepare two large baking sheet pans by lining them with baking paper. Have a large rolling pin handy.

In a large non-stick cooking pot, dry roast the spices – pepper, fennel seeds and ajwain. Pound coarsely and set aside.

Heat four tablespoons of ghee and fry the edible gum in three batches until it pops.

Caramelizing the jaggery to hard ball consistency

Put the jaggery in the pot along with the remaining two tablespoons of ghee. Melt the jaggery while stirring continuously. Have a small bowl with cold water handy to test the doneness of the syrup. You have to get the jaggery to a hard ball consistency. This means if you drop the syrup in water, it turns hard immediately.

Once the jaggery syrup is ready, mix in all the prepared nuts, spices and edible gum. Mix well and pour onto prepared sheet pan. Flatten out using a rolling pin. Use a pizza cutter to cut the chikki into bite sized pieces. Store in an airtight container.

LENTIL, BUCKWHEAT & SPINACH STEW

This is a flavourful, protein packed one pot dish that is plant based. When you eat this, it definitely feels like you are feeding your soul. You may need to get the urad dhal from an Indian grocer along with black mustard seeds. The urad dhal makes the stew thick and creamy.

Lentil, Buckwheat and Spinach Stew

INGREDIENTS

250g red lentils

50g urad dhal

100g buckwheat, toasted

250g tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 x 400g tin of chick peas, drained

200g onions, thinly sliced

1-2 green chillies, sliced thinly (optional)

7-8 centimetre piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced

120g spinach, finely chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

4 tablespoons vegetable oil like canola

Coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Greek style yoghurt to serve (optional)

METHOD

Dry toast the buck wheat for five minutes on medium heat until pale brown.

Heat oil in a large saucepan. When hot enough, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When you hear them crackling, add the onion, green chillies and ginger and a teaspoon of salt. Fry on medium heat for seven to ten minutes until soft. Add the red lentils and urad dhal and continue frying for another 10 minutes on low heat.

Use a box grater and grate the tomatoes. When the mixture looks dry, add the grated tomatoes and juice. Continue frying as the lentils will absorb most of the moisture quickly. Measure out 2 cups of water – add half cup of water at a time and cook (with lid closed) for five minutes until the water is absorbed before adding another half cup. Spoon in the tomato paste, along with chick peas, toasted buck wheat and turmeric powder. Continue adding half cup of water in five minute intervals and cook for a further 12-15 minutes until the buck wheat is soft. Mix in the spinach leaves. Cover and cook for a further 30 seconds. Turn off heat, remove lid. This way the spinach will remain a vibrant green colour.

Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. Stir in the coriander leaves.

Serve hot with a dollop of Greek style yoghurt.

BROCCOLI & SPINACH SCONES

For a good scone, you need to have everything ready and not over mix. They are relatively easy and I like because they can be served for morning tea as well as lunch. Do try these as they are flavourful and delicious. I adapted this recipe from the Ripe café cookbook called Ripe Recipes – a third helping.

Broccoli & Spinach Scones

INGREDIENTS

160g broccoli, cut into large florets

340g plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ tsp baking soda

1 and a ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon mustard powder

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

100g unsalted butter, cold and grated

1 egg

125ml natural yoghurt

½ cup milk

40g spinach leaves, roughly chopped

1 spring onion, finely chopped

65g sundried tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped

50g cheddar cheese

METHOD

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Place broccoli into a microwave safe bowl with a tablespoon of water. Cover and microwave on high for a minute. Remove, shake and return to microwave for a further minute. Drain and when cool enough to handle, finely chop the broccoli and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cumin seeds, mustard powder and cayenne powder. Add the cold grated butter and using your fingertips, rub it into the dry mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg, yoghurt and milk together.

Tip the dry ingredients onto a clean work bench. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Add the egg mixture along with the broccoli, spinach, spring onion, tomatoes and cheese. Use a butter knife and cut the liquids and vegetables into the flour until just combined. Do not worry if there are small unmixed lumps.

Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured baking tray. Pat the dough into a rectangle that is approximately 2 centimetres high and cut into 8 triangles.

Separate the scones out a little so they have room to rise. Brush the tops with a little milk and bake for 15 -18 minutes or until cooked through. Serve warm.

BEETROOT BROWNIES

I know the name is intriguing and yes the main ingredient is beetroot. This is a guilt free treat – just five ingredients and plant based. It is easy to make so definitely give this recipe a try. Boiling the beetroot does take time and the brownie is only as nice as the quality of your chocolate. Buy the best you can afford with at least 60% cocoa.

Beetroot Brownie

INGREDIENTS

450g beetroot

200g dark chocolate

½ cup plain flour

½ cup ground hazelnut powder

½ cup brown sugar

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a shallow 22 centimetre square baking tin with baking paper.

Top and tail the beetroot. I like to boil beetroot (whole), uncut and unpeeled so the colour does not run. Once boiled, cool and peel. Cut into pieces and puree well using a blender.

Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.

Mix the pureed beetroot in to the melted chocolate. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Switch the oven off and let it sit in the oven for a further five minutes.

Allow to cool in the tin before slicing. You can serve with cream or ice-cream or I love it on its own.

MILLET SALAD

We are a family of picky eaters – for starters, we are fairly healthyish and want loads of protein and vegetables in each meal. We sway towards naturally gluten free food and personally prefer vegetarian food. The family want nutrient dense food that is not bulky and it needs to look good and taste even better. I would like one pot meals if possible and do it in a minimum amount of time especially during summer, as I would like to spend more time tending to the garden. It is a tall order and I created this recipe for weekday lunches as it ticks all those boxes!

Millet salad

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of millet

400g tin of beluga lentils, drained and rinsed well

100g of tender spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped

200g cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2-3 spring onions, washed and finely diced

1 red pepper, core removed and finely diced

150g sunflower kernels, dry roasted

2-3 sprigs of coriander leaves, washed and finely chopped

1 pinch of turmeric powder

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or sambal oelek

Freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

METHOD

In a sauté pan, toast the millet on medium high heat for five minutes. Add 370ml water to a saucepan and a pinch of turmeric along with half a teaspoon of salt. Mix in the toasted millet and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.

Measure all the dressing ingredients into a jar or a bowl and whisk well.

Once millet is cooked, add the spring onions and spread out the millet to cool on a platter or large bowl. Pour the dressing and mix all the other ingredients. Adjust seasoning to suit your taste.

Serve at room temperature. Serves 3-4.

STIR FRY CHICKEN HYDERABAD STYLE – TALI HUI MURGH

This is a super quick and easy stir fry recipe that is delicious. When I am short of time and can’t think of what to prepare for dinner, I choose this recipe as it is one of our family favourite.

Stir-fry chicken Hyderabad style

INGREDIENTS

400g chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

4 tablespoons lemon juice

200g onions

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 centimetre piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon garam masala powder

½ teaspoon chilli powder

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 green pepper, remove core and cut into chunks

Salt to taste

METHOD

Place the cut chicken pieces in a glass bowl. Stir in the lemon juice. Mix well, cover and allow to marinate for one hour.

Quarter the onions and separate the layers.

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the ginger and garlic to a paste.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a deep frying pan (kadai) or a wok. Remove chicken pieces from marinade, discard the lemon juice and fry the chicken pieces on one side for 2-3 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Add remaining oil and fry the onions, ginger and garlic paste. Stir frequently over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes until the onions are a pale golden colour. Put the cumin and coriander powders along with turmeric, garam masala, and chilli powder. Season with salt and if the spices are sticking to the bottom of the pan, sprinkle a spoonful of water. Fry the spice powders for a minute.

Toss in the green pepper pieces and increase heat to a high. Fry for a minute and add the chicken. Fry continuously for 5-6 minutes, until chicken is well cooked.

Serve immediately with roti or wraps.

Serves 3-4

TRICOLOUR QUINOA SALAD WITH PEAS, EDAMAME & BROAD BEANS

I started experimenting with quinoa long before it became trendy and when I didn’t know better, I did call it ‘kweenova’. Now everyone knows to say ‘keenwah’. However you say it, the nutritional benefits of this pseudo super grain remain the same. It is a pseudo grain because it is a seed from a plant and not a grass like oats, barley or wheat. One cup of cooked quinoa gives you 8g of complete protein as it contains all the nine essential amino acids. It is also naturally gluten free and rich in dietary fibre as well as iron and B complex vitamins.

TRICOLOUR QUINOA SALAD WITH PEAS, EDAMAME & BROAD BEANS

There are about 120 varieties of quinoa but most commonly available are white, red and black. I used the organic combo and found it to be fluffier and nuttier than just the white ones.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup organic tricolour quinoa

150g shelled edamame beans (frozen)

200g green peas (frozen)

250g broad beans (frozen)

200g pickled cocktail onions, drained

Handful fresh mint leaves, finely sliced

For the vinaigrette

Grated zest of one lemon

30ml red wine vinegar

50ml good quality extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

METHOD

Dry toast the quinoa in a non-stick pan on medium high heat for five minutes. Transfer quinoa to a sauce pan and add 400ml water. Bring to the boil, stir, reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes. At the end of cooking time, fluff up the quinoa and let cool to room temperature.

Prepare the edamame beans, peas and broad beans as per instructions on the packet.

Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing all ingredients except oil together. Gently whisk in the oil after the salt and sugar are more or less dissolved.

In a mixing bowl, mix the peas, broad beans, edamame beans and cocktail onions with the cooked quinoa. Stir in the vinaigrette and transfer to a serving platter. Just before serving top with the finely sliced mint leaves.

Serves 4 -6.

BABAGHANOUSH – EGGPLANT DIP

This is a universally appealing dip of Lebanese origins. The smoky flavour goes so well with pita bread. I am a bit of a food history buff and always wonder about the origins if I find similarities to a classic well known dish. In India, they make baingan bartha and there are regional variations too. I love the smell of charring eggplants on the open flame. The Chinese also do something similar and it is called Huo Shao Qie Zi. I guess it just goes to show that people travelled and shared their culinary heritage.

Roasted eggplants ready for making babaghanoush
Babaghanoush

INGREDIENTS

2 large round eggplants (weighing about 500g)

2 tablespoons tahini

½ cup of roughly chopped parsley leaves

2 cloves garlic

Continue reading “BABAGHANOUSH – EGGPLANT DIP”

HOMEMADE PITA BREADS

Making your own flat bread is so easy and the reason I started experimenting was because I wanted to cut down on plastic bags. I know it’s not much but one less bag is one less bag in the landfill.

Homemade Pita Bread – Stove top

This is a recipe from zero waste chef – Anne Marie Bonneau. I didn’t want to turn on my large oven for just this one thing but even on stove top, they are incredibly soft and moreish. Normal bread making is an exact science but I think you will find pita bread is more forgiving with relaxed measurements!

INGREDIENTS

380-390mls warm water (about 42 degrees C)

1 and ½ teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for greasing the bowl and for frying if cooking pitas on the stove

1 packet instant dry yeast (7g)

3 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided plus more for rolling out dough

¾ cup whole wheat flour

Continue reading “HOMEMADE PITA BREADS”