I’m in a particularly good mood today. I know it’s a Monday and I’m not usually a Monday person. It probably has something to do with the fantastic beach day we had yesterday. The hubby and I drove down south of Sydney and stopped at Thiroul beach for the day. The weather was just beautiful and water was amazing. Such a stark contrast to the scorchers we’ve been having the past few days. It was pure bliss. I simply love that part of NSW. Have you been there? I’d love to know what your favorite spots are? For all you beautiful people that are still dealing with winter, here’s a little sunshine coming your way 🙂
Speaking of sunshine, today’s recipe is just like a little sunshine on a plate. It’s a sweet potato mash. I love sweet potatoes. I almost always make these Baked Sweet potato fries. But at times I also just boil them with a pinch of salt till tender and snack on them, or roast them, or if I’m feeling a little indulgent, whip up a batch of these Sweet Potato Brownies. But last week, when I wanted to use up a sweet potato, it was just too hot to switch the oven on. So I decided to try making a mash. It was as easy and quick as a regular batch of mashed potatoes, but just a touch sweet and a little savory at the same time. It was glorious. I might just like a Sweet Potato Mash a little more than I like a regular mash.
So, if you haven’t yet tried a sweet potato mash, don’t wait any longer. Get your hands on a sweet potato and get to work. You won’t regret it.
Sweet Potato Mash
Recipe from: Cooking Light
1 1/2 pound sweet potatoes (about 650-700g)
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A large pinch of dried thyme or 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, or to taste
1/4 cup milk
Salt, or to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
Peel and cube the sweet potato. Place the potato in a large pan with about 1/2-1 tsp of salt and water till it reaches about 2 inches above the level of the potatoes.
Bring to a boil and simmer till tender. This usually takes about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the pieces.
Take off the heat, drain and place the potatoes back in the pan.
In another little skillet or pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Cook till brown and fragrant. Be alert as this can burn quick.
Once it has browned, take off the heat and stir in the thyme.
Add the milk, salt and pepper to the hot sweet potatoes and mash till it reaches the desired consistency.
Now drizzle the browned butter mix over and stir through the mash.
Garnish with some more crushed black pepper or thyme leaves as desired.
I served this up with some Eggplant patties and a Lemon, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Almond Quinoa Salad for dinner.
How to make Pumpkin Puree at home –
1 – 1 1/2 kilo pumpkin
You can either use small pumpkins or a wedge of a larger one, whatever you can get your hands on. I used about 1/3 of a Kent Pumpkin.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Cut into equal sized wedges. Leave the skin on. Scoop out the insides – the seeds and the membrane.
Place the pumpkin skin side down on a roasting tray and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or till a knife pierced through the flesh of the pumpkin goes through without any resistance. (I did this while we were having dinner)
Let the pumpkin cool. (I left it to cool overnight and made the puree the next day.) Peel the pumpkin or scoop out the flesh, whatever you find easier, and place the pumpkin in a food processor and blitz till done. If it looks too dry, add a couple of spoons of water and blitz again.
What you are left with is a glorious bowl of fresh pumpkin puree.
Now, let’s get on to making the Pumpkin Pie.
Recipe from: Tabler Party of Two
For the pie crust –
250g all purpose flour
125g cold butter, cubed
A couple of tablespoons of cold milk
(If you’re using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt. If you’re using salted butter, leave out the salt.)
Place the flour and butter in the food processor.
Pulse a few times till the butter has broken down and you’re left with a mix that looks like this.
Add a couple of spoons of cold milk to help bind the pastry and pulse a couple of times till you are left a mix that looks like this. Start with a spoon or two and add more if needed.
Place some clingfilm on your work surface (lesser clean up this way) and tip this mix on top.
Press together to form a dough. Don’t knead or overwork the dough.
Wrap it up in the same cling film and refrigerate for about half an hour.
While the dough is chilling, make the pie filling.
For the pie filling –
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 can evaporated milk (a 12 ounce can)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Place all the ingredients in the food processor and blitz till everything is well incorporated and smooth.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll to a disc large enough to cover a 9 inch pie dish. Line the pie dish with the dough and pour in the filling.
Cover just the edges of the pie crust loosely with foil to keep it from burning.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or till a knife pierced through the center comes out clean. Take the foil off in about the last ten minutes to let it evenly brown.
Cool and cut into wedges and serve.
Pin now and try later.
I have finally gotten around to writing this post. For some reason these pictures have been lurking somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my computer and kinda got forgotten there. Today, when I was looking for something else, I came across them and realized I hadn’t yet shared it with you. So it just had to be done.
We’ve been trying to be more conscious of what we eat now. No fad diets or deprivation, but we’re trying to focus on making better choices. Let me be very clear here, there will still be baked goodies. And lots of regular ones too. All I’m saying is that I’m going to be more open to the slightly healthier variants too. For example, these brownies. I came across this recipe when I was looking for ways to use up a massive box of sweet potatoes I picked up at the growers market at Flemington. The only sweetener in it is maple syrup. The rest of the sweetness comes from the sweet potato and the dates. And that make me happy. I can enjoy a piece because I know whats in it. There are also no eggs in the recipe, so that will make my vegetarian friends from India (the ones that don’t eat eggs) very happy. This recipe also uses raw cacao powder instead of cocoa powder or chocolate. Though I’m pretty sure you’d be able to substitute them if you so wished. I hear raw cacao is purer and healthier. A quick blitz of ingredients in the food processor, a quick stir in of the dry ingredients and you’re ready to bake. That’s how easy it is to make these brownies.
Now, the verdict – These are nothing like the typical chocolate brownies you buy at the store or even make at home. They are equally delicious and have a nice gooey texture. They have a slightly different flavor from the sweet potatoes and kinda reminded me of a typical Goan sweet “Dodol” with minimal effort. So if you’re up for trying out something a little different, give these sweet potato brownies a go. You won’t be disappointed.
Sweet Potato Brownies
Recipe from: Deliciously Ella
2 medium to large sweet potatoes (approx 600g)
2/3 cup ground almonds (I used almond meal)
1/2 cup rice flour (You could also use buckwheat flour)
4 tbsp raw cacao
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
A pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
You need to use cooked sweet potato for the recipe. You could either roast, boil or stem them till they are nice and soft. I wrapped them in foil and baked them while I had the oven on the previous night.
Peel the sweet potato and cut them into chunks and add them to a food processor along with the pitted dates. Process this you are left with a nice creamy mixture.
Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir together.
Add the sweet potato and date paste and mix this thoroughly combined.
Take the pan out of the oven and let the brownies cool in the dish itself for about 10-20 minutes to set.
Take it out of the pan and let it cool down some more before cutting into pieces.
So back to this mix. You wouldn’t believe how easy this was. 3 ingredients in a bowl, mix everything together and store. Then you simply store as needed. Traci used a healthier sweetener for her mix, but I used her basic version, using what I had on hand, which is why I’m calling it simply a Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix. I’m thinking this would make a fantastic present for Christmas, all dressed up – atleast for those of you who have a wintery Christmas. As for me and my husband, we are going to enjoy this right now. **slurrp**
Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar (I will cut this down to 3/4 cup next time) (Adjust to your liking)
1 tbsp cornstarch
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl thoroughly.
Store in an airtight container.
To use, simply place 2 tbsp of the mix in a mug and top off with milk.
Either heat in the microwave for 60 seconds and then in 30 second increments till it is hot enough for you. Or simply heat in a saucepan on the stovetop on a low heat, till it is hot enough for you.
… and ofcourse, every hot chocolate is better with some marshmallows 🙂
Don’t forget to check out what other bloggers in Group A have whipped up for this reveal!
For this month’s SRC assignment I had Karen’s blog, Lavender and Lovage. If you haven’t visited Karen’s blog yet, you should, you really should. Karen is a freelance writer and recipe developer who toggles between Yorkshire and France. These influences on her food is evident. Her blog is gorgeous and she has one of the most delicious recipe lists I’ve come across. I literally wanted to make every second recipe I saw, if not every single one. I was torn between these perfect Scotch Eggs, these super comforting Beer Battered Fish and Chips and this gorgeous Dark Sticky Double Gingerbread. I still intend trying all of these but I needed something that was not too fussy, but was still delicious and comforting. So when I saw Karen’s recipe for the Carrot, Cumin and Tomato Soup, I knew I had found a winner. I had the carrots and tomatoes on hand. All I had to do was pick up a little cream and croutons of some sort. I got some bagel crisps and they were beyond perfect. This soup is so easy to make and with just a few basic ingredients, its hard to believe how delicious and hearty it turned out. Thanks Karen, this is a soup I know I will make often.
I stuck with the original recipe, except I halved it, since I was cooking for just the two of us .The only tiny change I made was I used fresh coriander leaves as a garnish instead of the parsley used in the original recipe.
Carrot, Cumin & Tomato Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 carrots, diced
4 tomatoes, sliced
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 litre of vegetable / chicken stock
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
A couple of tbsps. cream, to top of the soup bowl (optional)
Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
Bagel crisps, or any other croutons of your choice
Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and onion and stir fry till the onions have softened and slightly browned.
Add the cumin powder, tomatoes and carrot and saute for a minute.
Cover the pot and let it all cook for about 5 minutes till the tomatoes get a little mushy and the cumin is nice and fragrant.
Add the hot stock and stir well.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or till the carrots are cooked through and are nice and tender.
Let it cool a little and then carefully blitz the soup using an immersion blender or a regular blender.
Serve up with some croutons and garnish with a drizzle of about a tablespoon of cream and fresh coriander leaves.
Don’t forget to check out what the other blogger’s in Group A whipped up for today’s reveal.
So to ease back into the flow of things, this will be a quick post. The recipe also is a quick one, super simple to make. Infact, you can barely even call it a recipe, but the results are so very good, I will go ahead and post it here to share with you. If you haven’t tried out sweet potato fries yet, trust me, you really should. Even my beloved husband, who doesn’t care much for the sweet potato (he calls it a sweet mush / baby food), loved it and actually requests for these fries every once in a while.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. You could peel the potatoes, but I leave the skin on. Just give it a good wash and scrub and you are good to go. Also, size of the fries will make a difference. The thicker you cut it, the longer it will take to cook. The thicker sized fries will still be soft and fluffy. If you are like me and love a little crunch in your life, cut the fries thin. It cooks quicker and caramelises a little and is super delicious, not to mention perfectly crunchy.
This fries are a much more healthy version that the regular potato fries and are great either as a snack or as a side to a big roast dinner or holiday meal too.
Sweet Potato Fries
1 large sweet potato, washed
Salt, to taste
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
A drizzle of olive oil (about 1 tbsp)
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Cut the sweet potato into fries.
Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking tray.
Place the sweet potato, salt and pepper on the tray and toss to make sure everything is well coated. You can add a little more olive oil if needed.
Arrange the potato pieces in a single layer.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the pieces once at the halfway mark.
Keep an eye on your oven from time to time. It may not need as long in your oven. Also this time will depend on the size of the pieces. So keep an eye on it the first time you make this.
When it is done to your liking, take it out of the oven.
Serve hot and enjoy!
The weather has started cooling down here and when that happens, I find myself longing for soup. In the past, I have to admit, I’ve almost always ripped open a packet of instant soup and made do with that. In the last couple of years though, I have tried out a couple of homemade soups and I’ve enjoyed them so much, I have decided to make a few more this year and to get that started I picked Sally’s Zucchini Spinach Soup for this month’s reveal. Oh what a recipe this is – delicious, warm and hearty. It is hard to believe that a recipe this simple can be so comforting. I’m enjoying the discovery that making soups at home, from scratch is not as complicated as I thought it would be. Thanks Sally, for a beautiful soup, which will make an appearance on our dinner table on many more occasions.
Zucchini Spinach Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek (white part finely sliced)
3 medium sized zucchini, slice thickly
1 can butter beans
4 cups water
2 cups baby spinach
Salt, to taste
Black pepper powder to taste
A dollop of yogurt
A squeeze of lemon juice
In a pot, heat the olive oil and add the sliced leek. ‘
Saute till the leek turns golden.
Add the zucchini slices.
Season with salt and pepper and saute till the slices get some colour on them, stirring every now and then.
Add the beans and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the water (you could also use vegetable stock if you like).
Cover the pot and let it come to a boil over high heat.
Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes or till the zucchini slices are tender.
Add the baby spinach leaves and stir. When the leaves wilt, you can take the soup off the stovetop.
I used an immersion blender to blitz this into a nice luscious soup. You could also use a blender if you don’t have an immersion blender. Irrespective of what gadget you use, please, please, please be cautious while blending the soup, because it is scalding hot.
Serve up hot with a squirt of lemon juice and a little dollop of yogurt.
When I lived in Mumbai, I was fortunate enough to have 3 really good Indian sweet shops or Mithaiwalas in the vicinity. Thankfully they weren’t too close. I’d literally go nuts whenever I went there. There were so many options to choose from. And I don’t to well with too many options. I just cannot pick in those situations. Anyway, my indecisiveness aside, one of my favourite Indian sweets has to be Gulab Jamuns. Gulab Jamuns are beautiful little deep fried dumplings soaked in cardamom infused sugar syrup.
I have made Gulab Jamun at home a few times now. Traditionally, the dumplings are made with milk that is reduced to an almost solid state. This process takes atleast an hour. If you live in India, you should be able to go to the store and buy mava / khoya (the reduced milk solids). If you don’t want to spend as much time or money (mava / khoya can be pricey), but still want to sit back and enjoy some home made Gulab Jamun, you have come to the right place. I have found a recipe that will probably take you about half an hour (or thereabouts) to make from start to finish.
If you are someone who has just about started dabbling in Indian food and want to impress your family and friends with some home made Indian dessert, try your hand at this recipe. You will love it and you can count on being hailed a superstar if you bring these to a potluck or any party.
Now, on to the recipe. I cannot take credit for this genious idea. I was watching Better Homes and Gardens one Friday night and I saw Fast Ed make these and I knew then and there that I had to try them out myself. It was too good to be true and the skeptic in me, knew there’d be something different about these. Either the flavour or the texture wouldn’t be right. But I was wrong, so very wrong. These Gulab Jamun turned out just like I remember them. Beautiful luscious dumplings, soft and drenched in the infused sugar syrup. These are best enjoyed a little warm but they are pretty darn good served cold as well. Even in the traditional sweet shops in India the sizes of the dumpling vary. I make them a little smaller because they will expand after frying and soaking in the sugar syrup. I prefer them smaller because that way they cook through quickly and they look so dainty served in a little bowl. I have also seen them made oblong in shape. Either way they are like little bites of heaven.
You could dress them up by sprinkling some pistachio dust (grated/ finely chopped pistachio) over them. They don’t need it, but it looks prettier. I didn’t have any pistachio with me, so I skipped that step.
If you love Gulab Jamun as much as I do, and you’ve been known to pick up some of the tinned stuff you get in the Indian stores or probably even the ready mixes (like Gits etc.), ditch them. You don’t need any of that stuff. Try this recipe out and you’ll never go back to those tins and mixes again.
For the sugar syrup –
4 pods of cardamom
Open the cardamom pods and separate the seeds and the shells.
Place all the ingredients, including the cardamom seeds and shells in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Lower the temperature after it comes to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Take off the heat and set it aside.
** We usually crush the cardamom seeds to a powder and add that to the syrup. This results in a stronger infusion of flavour. If you haven’t tried cardamom before or aren’t sure how strong the flavour would be, start off by keeping the seeds whole. The favour infused will be subtle. When serving, make sure you discard the seeds and shells first.
** Start off by making the syrup first because it needs to cool a little before you can add the dumplings. The syrup needs to be warm, not scalding hot when the dumplings are put in.
** Do NOT stir the syrup once the sugar has dissolved. Stirring will crystallise the sugar.
For the dumplings –
220g milk powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter
A little milk (approximately less than half a cup)
Oil, for deep frying
Heat the oil for deep frying.
Place the milk powder, all purpose flour, baking powder and ghee in a mixing bowl.
Gradually add the milk a little at a time and bind the ingredients to a dough. It is important to not add too much milk while making the dough. Use just enough to bind everything together.
Shape them into little balls. You want the balls to be smaller than what size you want the finished product because they will expand.
This recipe yield 20-22 massive dumplings or if you’re after little ones, you can get about 45. I got 47 in all. Make sure the dumplings are evenly sized so that they cook evenly.
Test if the oil is hot by placing a tiny pea sized ball in the oil. If it sizzles and rises to the top you’r oil is hot enough and you can proceed. If it just sits in the oil, you need to heat the oil a little more. If the ball just chars, you’re oil is too hot. Take it off the heat for a couple of minutes and then place it back on slightly lower heat and continue.
Have the oil on medium heat.
Carefully, drop the dumplings in the hot oil and fry till golden brown.
Your sugar syrup should have cooled down a little by now, but should still be fairly warm.
Using a slotted spoon, take the dumplings out of the oil and tap off any excess oil and put the dumplings in the sugar syrup straight away. Watch them expand as they soak in the syrup. Gently turn them around in the syrup after about a minute so that is soaks in the syrup on all sides.
Repeat with the rest of the batter. Once the dumpling have soaked in the sugar syrup and expanded a bit, you can carefully take them out into a shallow serving bowl or a baking dish like this one. Pour all the sugar syrup over.
At this stage, you can add the chopped pistachio over.
Sneak a peek at what it looks like on the inside. Soft, melt in your mouth goodness!
Serve warm or cold.
As the person who put made these lovely dumplings, even if you’re making this ahead of time, I urge you to sample some of these warm and you’ll know what I’m talking about. 🙂
So back to the butternut pumpkin. This is the second time I’m making a butternut pumpkin soup. The last time it turned out really bland and I wasn’t overly impressed, which is why it hasn’t made an appearance on the blog. This time around, I decided I wanted some bold, punchy flavours so I looked around and took a few ideas from around the web. It turned out this recipe was easy, simple to make and has big, bold flavours. I remember thinking the last time, that a little ginger would make this soup so much better and I was right. This soup just warms the cockles of your heart.
I took the idea of topping it up with blue cheese from a recipe I found online. Please do yourself a favour and add the blue cheese. The blue cheese elevates this soup from being a nice soup to being a fantastic one.
Spiced Butternut Pumpkin Soup
700g butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp grated ginger
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 – 1 tsp red chilly flakes, or to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp chives
2 tbsp olive oil
1 litre boiling water
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Blue cheese, to crumble over
In a large pot, over medium heat, pour the olive oil.
Add the garlic and when it is fragrant, add the onion and and saute over medium heat, till softened and translucent. Add the ginger and continue sauteing.
Once the ginger has released its aromas, add the celery, carrot and pumpkin.
Sprinkle the salt, pepper and red chilly flakes and stir well.
Let the veggies, saute for about five minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Add one litre of recently boiled water. (You could add cold water too, but that will increase cooking time. Using hot water results in the soup simmering almost immediately.)
Cover and simmer till the veggies are cooked and tender.
When the vegetables are fork tender, take off the heat.
Using an immersion blender, blitz till you are left with a smooth puree. Add the cream cheese and blitz again.
Add the parmesan cheese and chives and stir through.
Serve hot with a little blue cheese crumbled over.