Apricot Passion Fruit Slice

A refreshing change, this unusual combination of dried apricots with Passion fruit makes it an extra special dish to serve for a festive breakfast. A sweet treat for your guests for the New year or for any occasion really! You could also serve this as a dessert – either way it’s delicious.

As you bite into it, the sweetness of the apricots mixed with the tangy flavour of the passion fruit is lovely.

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PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 40 minutes

Ingredients

140 g rolled oats

125 g brown sugar

125 g wholemeal self-raising flour

185 g butter, melted

2 tsp grated lemon rind

Filling

155 g dried apricots, chopped

125 ml (4 fl oz) water

60 ml (2 fl oz) passion fruit pulp

2 tbsp sugar

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

Grease a shallow 7X11 inches cake tin.

Place the oats, sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Stir in the butter and lemon rind and mix together. Press half the mixture on the base of the tin.

To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a small pan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the apricots are soft and all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Spread evenly over the oat mixture.

Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the filling and bake for 40 minutes or until browned and crisp. Cut into slices and serve warm with a dollop of cream or yogurt.

Gingerbread Banana Cheesecake

This gingerbread flavoured cheesecake makes it a special finale for a dinner party. The creamy banana filling with bits of ginger candy is really delicious and complements the ginger base beautifully.

I didn’t crush the biscuits finely for the base and this made it more interesting while eating it. The base was extra crunchy and tasty. I decorated it with leaves from my lime tree. Holly leaves will make it perfect at this time of the year.

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A delightfully refreshing treat. This recipe was adapted from Fruit Fandango by Moya Clarke.

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PREP: 40 minutes SERVES: 6-8

Ingredients

250 gms ginger cookies, crushed

6 tbsp butter

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp mixed spice

3 bananas

1 tbsp vegetarian gelatin/Agar Agar

1 cup cream cheese

2/3 cup double cream

2 tbsp clear honey

2 tsp lime juice

2 tbsp candied ginger, chopped

1 Kiwi, peeled and sliced thinly

Lime/Holly leaves to decorate

Instructions

Line the base of a 8 inch spring clip pan with parchment.

Melt the butter in a small pan. Add it to the crushed cookies along with the cinnamon and mixed spice and mix well. Press the crumbs evenly on to the base of the pan and up the sides. Allow to set for about 15-20 minutes.

Mash the bananas and mix them with the gelatin, cream cheese, cream, honey, lime juice and chopped candied ginger. Scoop this gently into the biscuit base. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight until set.

Decorate with the kiwi slices and leaves. I painted the leaves with a little egg white and sprinkled some icing sugar on it.

Gateaux De Riz Au Figues

Rice pudding exists in several countries in varied forms – please see the link below for a brief history on rice pudding.

http://writinginthekitchen.com/2017/10/08/a-brief-history-of-rice-pudding/

India itself has several forms of rice pudding, with each region having their own take on it. In South India, a form of rice pudding called ‘Pongal’ is made for the Harvest Festival which occurs in January each year. This is flavoured with jaggery and has nuts and raisins in it and is scented with ghee and cardamom. Another form of sugar, called rock candy or rock sugar can also be used to flavour rice. The flavour is really distinctive. An Indian rice pudding, called ‘kheer’ or ‘payasam’ is also very popular. It can be made with milk or coconut milk.

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I got this recipe from http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2011/08/recipe-gluten-free-fig-gateau-de-riz.html .

However, I used basmati rice. I think that it really makes a difference – the aroma of basmati rice is unique and so is the flavour. It elevates the dish and I used jaggery instead of brown sugar and added ghee and cardamom powder. I also served it with chocolate sauce. The figs looked superb and the dish tasted wonderful. This is so easy to make and it can be made in advance and heated up whenever you want to serve it. It’s also gluten free.

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PREP: 15 minutes COOK TIME: 50 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice

1 cup water

13/4 cups coconut milk

½ tsp salt

2/3 cup jaggery

6 large eggs

1/3 cup ghee/butter

1 tsp cardamom powder/vanilla essence

20 small figs, sliced thinly

Chocolate sauce/Sweetened cream

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a 13×9 inch pan with parchment paper.

Soak the basmati rice in 1 cup of water and 1 cup of coconut milk for 15 minutes with the salt. Cook in a rice cooker until the rice is cooked. Do not overcook. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine the jaggery, eggs, ¾ cup coconut milk, ghee and cardamom powder. Add this mixture to the rice and mix until well combined. Spoon into the prepared baking dish and arrange the figs on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes until it is lightly browned on top. Serve hot with chocolate sauce or a dollop of sweetened cream.

Flapjack Brownies

Chocolate is always a crowd pleaser and brownies showcase it so beautifully. Whether you’re baking for a bake sale or for dessert, this recipe is a winner.

A gooey flapjack base, a fudgy chocolate brownie above it and the whole thing is blanketed with this delicious chocolate icing on top – this brownie is just so decadent. A bite of this deliciously moist and dense dessert is heavenly and you will understand why this recipe is a winner!

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I used milk chocolate for this recipe but you could also use dark chocolate.

It’s so easy to prepare and you will want to make this again and again. Just forget about counting calories for now – go ahead and indulge your sweet tooth.

This recipe makes around 16 brownies.

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PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 35 minutes

Ingredients

For the base

½ cup flour

¼ tsp soda

¼ tsp salt

1 cup oats

½ cup brown sugar

6 tbsp butter

For the second layer

4 tbsp butter

30 gms milk chocolate

2/3 cup flour

¾ cup sugar

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

¼ cup milk

½ tsp vanilla

½ cup chopped walnuts

For the topping

2 tbsp butter

30 gms milk chocolate

1 1/2 cups caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

Prepare a 10 inch baking square baking pan by lining it with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

For the base, sift the ½ cup flour, soda and salt together. Add the oats and brown sugar and mix well. Melt the 6 tablespoons butter and stir it into the oat mixture. Press the mixture into the baking pan and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.

For the next layer, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and chocolate together over a very gentle heat or in a bain marie. Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour the batter on the oat layer and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool.

Melt the butter for the topping together with the chocolate and add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix until it is of spreading consistency, adding a small amount of warm water, a tablespoon at a time (I added about 4 tablespoons). Frost the brownies with this mixture, spreading the topping to the corners of the pan evenly. When the frosting is set, cut into squares.

Krem

A classic, this Swedish dessert is so simple to make. The flavour of the grapes is so subtle and the combination of grapes and cinnamon is just perfect. The flavours complement each other so beautifully.

Grape juice and cornflour cooked together – just these ingredients produce this melt in the mouth dessert. It was an instant hit with my family and they all just disappeared. A lovely ending to an impromptu get together or after a heavy meal.

A really creamy and delicious dessert minus the dairy – a vegan treat. It could also be made with other fruit juices as well.

This recipe made 5 servings of the dessert.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 10 minutes

Ingredients

2 cups grape juice

3 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

Cinnamon

Instructions

Combine the sugar and cornflour with about three tablespoons of water, blending well. Bring the grape juice to a boil over gentle heat and add the cornflour mixture, stirring constantly. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until thickened. Spoon the mixture into individual dessert dishes and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Refrigerate until it’s ready to serve.

Ambrosia

This medley of fruits in a sugar syrup with dry fruits, honey and nuts is a dish that our family makes every year for a festival called Dussehra. It’s a celebration that lasts for about nine days and is celebrated by Hindus all over India.

I love the richness of this dish which is so satisfying and yet so light and refreshing. The aroma of the ghee and cardamom is delicious. It’s also vegan and could be served as dessert with a dollop of coconut cream.

It’s very simple to make. Once the sugar syrup is done you just have to add all the fruits and nuts, honey, ghee and cardamom. For those of you who want to cut down on sugar, you could add less of it.

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PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 10 minutes SERVES: 6

Ingredients

½ cup jaggery

½ cup water

1 apple

2 bananas

2 oranges, segmented

2 guavas, cut into cubes

1 cup grapes, cut into two

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp ghee

1 tsp cardamom powder

½ cup dates, chopped roughly

½ cup cashewnuts

½ cup raisins

Instructions

Combine the jaggery and water and cook over a moderate heat until the jaggery melts. Strain into another pan and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Add all the ingredients except the apple and bananas. Core and cut the apple into small cubes. Add to the sugar syrup immediately. Slice the bananas into the sugar syrup and mix well. Refrigerate and serve with a dollop of coconut cream.

Semolina Pudding

A very light and tasty pudding – this pudding is very easy to make. It’s called kheer/payasam in India. There are many varieties of this which can be made with sago, vermicelli, nuts and even bread. Most of them are milk based and it usually accompanies a traditional lunch or dinner.

Most Indian desserts have cardamom, saffron, nuts and raisins. This pudding also has edible camphor. A very little of it goes a long way. The taste that this camphor imparts to Indian sweets is very unique.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes SERVES: 6

Ingredients

  • !/2 cup semolina
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup cashewnuts
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • A small pinch of edible camphor
  • ¼ cup+6 tbsp ghee
  • A few strands of saffron (optional)

Instructions

Heat a large wok or pan and add the 6 tbsp ghee. When it melts, add the semolina and saute it until it just starts to change colour. Do not allow it to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining ghee in a small pan and add the cashewnuts. When they turn a light golden brown, add the raisins. When the raisins swell up, remove immediately and set aside.

If using saffron, take the strands in a small cup and pour about 1 tablespoon of hot water or milk on it. Using the back of a spoon, press the strands until the colour oozes out. Set aside.

In a large pan, heat the sugar and milk. Stir until the sugar has melted. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to simmer and add the fried semolina very gradually, stirring all the while. Do not allow it to form lumps. Cover and cook until the semolina is soft. Add the cardamom powder, saffron (if using) and the fried nuts and raisins. Remove from heat and cool. If it becomes too thick, you can add some more milk. I added another cup of milk and a little extra sugar. This can be served hot or cold.

Old-Fashioned Fried Apple Tarts

These fried apple tarts are really indulgent – crisp morsels of delight. The pastry is just right – flaky and melt-in-the-mouth and when you bite into it it’s just bursting with the goodness of apples.

I had some apple filling left over from my Apple Icebox Cake and I thought this is the perfect way to finish it up. Please refer to my previous recipe Apple Icebox Cake for the apple filling recipe. It freezes beautifully; when apples are in season you can make the filling which can be used in a variety of bakes and desserts and freeze them.

You can also use cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top for that extra touch of deliciousness. Make sure that your filling is not soggy and the oil is at the right temperature.

This recipe is definitely a family favourite. So easy to make and fun to serve.

They tend to disappear really fast! This recipe makes around 15 pies.

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PREP: 30 minutes (plus 20 minutes for resting the dough) COOK TIME: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-raising flour (sifted)
  • ½ cup butter (cold)
  • 1 ½ cups apple filling (chilled)
  • About 5 tbsp cold water
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

Cut the butter into the flour with your hands or a pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add about 5 tablespoons of cold water, mixing until the pastry holds together. Knead briefly and chill the pastry in a refrigerator wrapped in cling film for 20 minutes.

Roll the pastry into saucer-sized circles. Place a small amount of apple filling in the centre of each circle. Wet the edges with water and fold in half. Press the edges lightly to seal the pastry.

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the pies until they are golden brown. Turn the pie only once during the frying process. Drain.

Sprinkle confectioners sugar while still warm and serve immediately.

Dark and White Chocolate Mousse with Salted Caramel

Thank goodness for some rain; the weather is more pleasant now. It’s always the best time for cold desserts though in Madras.

An incredibly easy mousse and takes so little time to set as well. It’s just one of those recipes that looks as though you have put in a ton of effort into making it. I prefer using cream for making mousse because I’m not too fond of raw eggs as in a traditional recipe. However, you could make it anyway you choose.

You can use the same method for the white and dark chocolate mousse. I used store bought salted caramel because this is a quick and easy dessert.

I used dark chocolate to offset the sweetness of the white chocolate and the salted caramel just gives it the right balance to taste the different flavors of sweet and bitter. Indulgence in a glass!

I used some of the caramel to toss the popcorn in and used it to decorate the top. You could however, just do any garnish that you like – chocolate shavings, nuts, etc.

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Ingredients

For the White and Dark Chocolate Mousse

  • 100 gm each of good quality White and Dark chocolate
  • 100 ml milk
  • 300 ml double cream

To garnish:

  • 1 cup salted caramel
  • Popcorn

Melt 100 gm of dark chocolate in a double boiler. Heat half the milk until boiling, then whisk in the dark chocolate. Cool. Whip 150 ml of the cream until soft peaks form, then fold in the chocolate. Spoon the contents into a serving glass or bowl. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes until set.

Repeat the same process for the white chocolate using the 100 grams of the White chocolate and the remaining milk and cream. Spoon the mixture over the set dark chocolate. Refrigerate for another 15-20 minutes until set.

Spoon some salted caramel on top and garnish with the caramelized popcorn. Enjoy.

Apple Icebox Cake

Summer in India can be really hot (and I mean sweltering hot) – especially Madras, which has a lot of humidity. Spending a long time cooking on the stove is a nightmare. Eating frozen desserts, ice creams and chilled drinks are about all one feels like doing. So, when I read this recipe from King Arthur Flour, it seemed the perfect one to try.

The cookies were so delicious, you can just eat them on their own. I wanted to try the filling with apples. I used apple pie filling that I made from scratch. I got the recipe from the following link – https://www.spendwithpennies.com/quick-stovetop-apple-pie-filling/ . You could also use ready made filling.

You can also use your imagination to use another fruit filling. Or even chocolate can be a wonderful filling for this versatile cookie. This is perfect for a Sunday lunch.

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I stacked four cookies and then covered the individual stacks with sweetened, whipped cream. You could also lay the stack on its side on a large serving plate. Repeat the process until you have used up all the cookies.

Once it’s refrigerated, the cream softens the cookies and they become softer, almost like cake. Absolutely scrumptious.

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PREP: 1 hour 40 minutes COOK TIME: 20-25 minutes SERVES: 10

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 tbsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups flour

Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

To make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment.

In a small bowl, combine the vanilla, or baking powder and salt. Stir to dissolve; the salt won’t fully dissolve.

Place the vanilla mixture, sugar, and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the flour and mix to combine. The dough will seem dry at first; continue mixing until the dough comes together.

Scoop the dough with a  teaspoon cookie scoop  and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2″ between portions. Press the tops down with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar to make flat cookies about 1/4″ thick. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookies are very light golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

For the filling, please visit https://www.spendwithpennies.com/quick-stovetop-apple-pie-filling/ .

To make the whipped cream, place the cream in a chilled mixing bowl with the sugar. Whip (slowly at first, until the cream begins to thicken, then more vigorously) until the whisk’s tracks are visible in the bowl. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the cream is stiff but not curdled.

To assemble, spread some apple filling on a cookie, then place another cookie on top. Continue this process until you have four cookies stacked up. Coat each stack with whipped cream on all sides. Chill for at least 4 hours (or overnight).

Refrigerate with cut sides covered with cling film for up to a week.