Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Camembert brulee

With only a month to go to Christmas, we're really getting in the spirit and it's all about feasts and delicious treats here. 

Let’s eat and be merry I say!

After all there is plenty of time in January to detox and I'll be bringing you lots of tasty detox recipes to try, but for now and until then it’s all about eating anything and everything, join in the festivities and indulge.

If you're thinking of serving a cheese course with your Christmas meal, then you have to try this neat and impressive little trick.  Introducing, the Camembert brulee!

It's oh so simple and the perfect finale to a great meal and best enjoyed with a glass of port. 

If you have a blow torch its best to torch it in front of your guests, alternatively the grill caramelises the sugar in exactly the same way.  Both warm the cheese leaving it all gooey on the inside with the sweet caramelised sugar on top.  It’s divine and will leave your guests wanting more

You'll need:

1 block of Camembert cheese
2 Tbs of sugar

1) Sprinkle a think layer of sugar on top of the cheese.
2) Using a blow torch, torch the sugar until it starts to melt and caramelises, careful not to take it too far as the sugar burns very quickly.

Alternatively, if you don't have a blow torch, you place the sugared cheese under a grill for a few minutes until the sugar caramelises.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Christmas baklava

Don't you hate it when you click 'publish' instead of 'save'.  Well, here it is a little premature but I think its time to start feeling all Christmassy! 

And what better way to get in the spirit than with this Christmas baklava.  Taking the same old traditional recipe and giving it a bit of sparkle - it's my take on a scrumptious mince pie. 

Made with layers of crispy filo pastry, tangy fruit mince all soaked in syrup and topped with crushed almonds!!!  What more can I say, other than it comes with a warning...this is only for the very sweet tooth. 

Try it with with cream or ice-cream.

Serves 12

You'll need:
  • 1 Pkt filo pastry
  • 200g raw almonds, crushed
  • 5ml cinnamon powder
  • 1 bottle of fruit mince
  • 250g melted butter
for the syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 50ml honey
  • 115ml lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick

1) Before you start with the baklava, make the syrup so that it can cool.  Mix all ingredients for syrup in a pan and boil on slow heat for 10 minutes and leave to cool.
2) Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
3) Grease the Pyrex (I prefer to use a glass see through one so you can see when the pastry is cooked)
4) Mix the crushed nuts with cinnamon powder.
5) Cut the filo pastry sheets so they are the size of your dish.
6) Start to layer a sheet of pastry, brush with melted butter then spread some fruit mince over, then another layer of filo, brush with butter and sprinkle some of the nut mixture over.  Continue to layer, alternating between the fruit mince and nut mixture until you have reached your desired amount of layers - I did approx 8 layers in total.
7) Cut the baklava before putting it in the oven.  It can be tricky trying to get the perfect diamond shape, so it may be worth practising on a piece of paper beforehand.  Basically you slice straight vertical parallel lines, and then at an horizontal angle the other lines, to create lots of little diamonds.
8) Bake in oven for approx 30 minutes or until golden.
9) Take the baklava out of the oven and pour over the syrup immediately, its very important for the cooled syrup to be poured over the boiling baklava.
10) Leave to cool and enjoy with a cup of tea and some cream or ice-cream.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

quinoa with fennel roasted veg

Those who know me know I am all about colour.  I can't get enough of it, be it in my wardrobe or on a plate.  I am also all about making things look pretty and nothing pleases me more than a well presented plate of food.

I have recently been inspired by the beautiful colours and photography on LaTartineGourmande

I'm very lucky to have a husband who's ultimate weakness is food, and will eat pretty much whatever I put in front of him (even if it contains only veggies and an earthy grain/seed).  This dish is one of our mid-week staples - a real favourite when detoxing, and with quinoa being the super food of all super foods, it's truly nutritious and need I say, delicious. 

It's high protein properties make this a meal on its own, but it would also be good served as a side to either a roast chicken or baked salmon.

I personally love quinoa or 'keenwa' as its pronounced and ever since our time in Peru can't get enough. 

Serves 4

 You'll need:
  • 1 red onion, sliced into wedges
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped with skin on
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, with skin on
  • 1 aubergine
  • 1 courgette, sliced at an angle
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 5 sweet bell peppers (or 2 regular peppers)
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup boiling water
  • salt and pepper to taste

1) Put water in a pan and bring to boil.  Add quinoa and boil for approx 15 mins or until it loosens
2) Put all the veggies, chopped up on a baking tray with the olive oil and seasoning and bake in a pre-heated oven of 180 degrees for approx 25-30 minutes.  Keep checking them so they don't burn and shake to turn the veggies around to cook evenly throughout.
3) Serve the veggies on a bed of quinoa and enjoy.

Monday, 12 November 2012

banana loaf

This banana loaf is the ultimate cure for a wet, windy Monday morning.  Comforting, easy and a great friend of a well deserved cuppa.

This recipe is a real classic, deep from within the roots of a little village in Swaziland.
Using simply a bowl and wooden spoon, no electric mixer necessary (but feel free to use one if you prefer), it comes out light and fluffy either way.  Simple!

You'll need
  • 150g margarine
  • 160g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 bananas (peeled and mashed)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 275g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100g walnuts (optional - I leave them out)
  • 2 Tbs milk


1) Cream the margarine and sugar in a bowl till creamy.  I simply used a wooden spoon.
2) Add the eggs, one at a time.
3) Stir in banana puree with vanilla essence.
4) Mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and fold into the creamed mixture together with the milk.
5) Turn into a loaf tin and bake for 1 1/2 hours in pre-heated oven of 180 degrees

Friday, 9 November 2012

brekkie egg baskets (healthy)

There is nothing better than waking up on a lazy Saturday morning, listening to Rod Stewart classics and a good fry up.  

These brekkie eggs in toast baskets are my take on a quick, mess free, healthier option to a fry-up and a great way to start the weekend. 

They look more complex than they are.  They are surprisingly simple (like most things on this blog) and very impressive little things.

In fact this would make a great breakfast when cooking for the masses.  You know those weekends when the house is full of friends and Xmas beds.  Those weekends you've usually been out the night before and you wake up craving a good breakfast.  I'm always torn between frying or grilling and which method is going to make the least mess.  These toast baskets involve very little mess and everyone gets theirs at the same time, thus solveing the delayed toast scenario where there is always one person waiting for his toast to pop, or a single egg to be fried. 

You get to bake all the toast baskets at once, first in the oven and then simply add the eggs and poach in the oven till they are the desired consistency. 

After making these I thought they would be great served on a bed of spinach.  On this occassion I served them with a fresh tomato and chilli salsa.

Brekkie eggs in toast baskets

You'll need:
  • sliced bread (any type, brown, white, rye etc)
  • eggs
  • fresh tomatoes, diced
  • chilli (optional) diced
  • oregano
  • mushrooms

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees
2) Grease a muffin tray and lay a slice of bread in each mould, creating a cup
3) Bake the bread till crispy or golden brown, approx 20 - 30 minutes
4) Once baskets are crispy, add the eggs, one egg per cup.  You may add whatever other ingredients you like, creamed spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms etc.  And bake till eggs are soft, approx 10 minutes
5) Serve with chopped tomatoes and chilli salsa and mushrooms.

Top tip: 

I love giving the eggs extra flavour, add a sprinkle of chicken spice, paprika or oregano.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

warm chicken salad with sweet potato chips

This salad together with the sweet potato chips has become my new favourite meal.  I love serving it as a quick and casual lunch with friends.  I highly recommend it for it's simplicity and gorgeous flavours.

I'm sure Theo Paphitis from Dragons Den would agree that the return of taste & enjoyment you get out of this meal, far out ways the time and effort put into it. 

In order to appreciate the full range of flavours this salad has to offer, one needs to taste it, so do yourself a favour, try it - its worth it.


Warm Chicken Salad

Serves 4

You'll need:
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 large chili (optional)
  • 1 packet mixed salad leaves
  • few cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 spring onion
For the salad dressing;
  • 1 small red onion (or shallot), very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2cm fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce


1) Marinate the chicken strips.  Put garlic, cumin, lemon juice, 1 Tbs olive oil, chili, 1 tsp soy sauce in a bowl with the chicken and leave to stand for a few minutes (the longer the better).
2) Gently fry the chicken in a pan.
3) Arrange the salad leaves in a bowl or platter, add the tomatoes, spring onions and place the cooked chicken on top.
4) For the salad dressing, add the ketchup, vinegar, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp olive oil, ginger, the finely chopped onion, mix well and pour over the salad.


Sweet potato chips

You'll need
  • 6 sweet potatoes, sliced in strips with skin on
  • 2 Tbs olive oil


1) Arrange potatoes on a baking tray and pour over the olive oil
2) Bake in preheated oven of 180 degrees for approx 30 minutes or until golden.
3) Season with salt and pepper and enjoy with the salad

Friday, 2 November 2012

marshmallow biscuits

This is my idea of a late trick or treat post.  I don't know why but for some reason when I think of Halloween I think of marshmallows.  I didn't get a chance to make these in time for the little trick or treaters so thought I would post them here for all you to enjoy.

These cheeky little biscuits are a popular choice when camping around the fire, but why not try them at home this weekend.

You'll need:

1 Packet Marie Biscuits (or Rich Tea biscuits for those in the UK)
1 Packet Marshmallows

1) Place one marshmallow on top of one biscuit and microwave for 10 seconds
2) Place another biscuit on top and squish the sandwich closed