Veggie Pasta in a Tomato Sauce
4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
1/3 – 1/2 cup capsicum, chopped (I used a mix of red and green peppers)
1/2 zucchini, thickly sliced
A handful of broccoli florets
1/3 cup corn kernels
10 olives, sliced
1 cup passata / tomato puree / canned tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Red chilly flakes, to taste
1 tsp mixed herbs (dried)
1/2 tsp oregano (dried)
1/2 tsp sugar
Parmesan cheese, to grate over the pasta
Start by cooking the pasta according to the package instructions.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, season the water generously (I use 1.5 tsp salt) and add the pasta to the pot. Stir immediately, to prevent the pasta from sticking to each other and to the bottom of the pot.
When the pasta is cooking, heat another pan.
Add olive oil to the warm pan and add the garlic. Saute till the garlic turns fragrant.
Add the onions and cook over a medium heat till they soften a bit.
Add the peppers and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes or till they start to soften.
Add the broccoli florets and saute for another minute or so.
Now, add the zucchini and corn and stir through. Cook for another minute or two.
Season with some salt and pepper, to taste.
Add the red chilly flakes and the herbs. Stir through.
Add the passata and the stock.
Let it come to a boil and leave to simmer for 5-7 minutes or till the veggies cook through and the sauce develops good flavor.
Add the olives and the sugar and stir through. Take off the heat and set aside.
By now the pasta should be cooked. Reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce.
Place the pan on medium low heat. Add a couple of tbsp. of the reserved pasta water. Stir through and let the extra liquid cook off for another minute or so, or till your pasta reaches the desired consistency.
Grate some parmesan cheese over the pasta and serve.
French Beans Foogath
1/4 kg green beans / french beans (approx)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 chillies, cut into quarters lengthwise
1 onion, peeled and chopped
A little grated coconut
1 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste
Prep the green beans by washing them, trimming the ends and chopping into little pieces.
Heat some oil in a pan.
Add the mustard seeds.
When they start spluttering, add the chillies and stir for a few seconds.
Add the onion and saute till they’ve softened and they start developing a little color.
Add the green beans and stir well. Stir fry for about a minute.
Add a little salt and stir through for about another minute.
Add a couple of small splashes of water. Let the water come to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and let the vegetable cook.
Check the vegetable in a couple of minutes. Stir and ensure there is sufficient water. Add more water if needed. Check for seasoning and adjust if required and let it continue to cook till done.
When it’s almost done, add the coconut and stir through. Let it cook for another minute or so, to let the coconut warm through.
Homemade Hot Chocolate
Makes 1 mug
3/4 cup (full fat) milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
A few marshmallows, for topping (optional)
Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and heat it over medium heat till it just about starts simmering. Do not let it come to a boil.
Add the chopped chocolate and whisk till dissolved.
Pour into a mug and top with marshmallows (if using) and sprinkle some grated chocolate on top.
Enjoy your very own Homemade Hot Chocolate!!!
Cheesecake is one of our favorite desserts at home. My last couple of birthday cakes have been cheesecakes. That alone should tell you how much I love it. But do you know whats even better than a cheesecake? Little mini cheesecakes, of course. Jokes aside, these are the perfect option for a party or even for the family. You can make them a day ahead of the party and keep them refrigerated. They are easy to serve and could serve to help portion control too. And they are super delicious as well. Now that’s a dessert that ticks all the boxes for me.
Easy Mini Cheesecakes with a Strawberry Topping
Makes 8 mini cheesecakes
For the base –
120g Digestive biscuits
For the cheesecake –
250g cream cheese
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
100g double cream
A tiny pinch of salt
For the topping –
1/2 cup strawberry jam
For the base –
Melt the butter and keep aside.
Blitz the biscuits in a food processor till you get a coarse crumb texture. Add the melted butter and blitz again to combine. This should now resemble wet sand.
For the filling –
Beat the cream cheese till its creamy.
Add the sugar and and mix till it is well combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Now add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix till combined.
Lastly, add the cream and mix till it has incorporated with the rest of the ingredients.
To assemble –
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Line a cupcake tray with paper cases.
Place about 1 tbsp. or so of the biscuit crumb in each case. Using the back of a spoon, pack it down and flatten it.
Top it with the cheesecake filling about 2/3 of the way.
Bake for 15-17 minutes or till the outside has set and the middle still has a little jiggle to it. (You may find some of them puff up a bit or develop a little crack. That is fine.)
Take it out of the oven and let it cool down completely.
Warm the jam over some medium heat, just to loosen it a bit. You don’t need to simmer or boil it. This took me about a minute.
Spoon a little jam over each of the mini cheesecakes.
Top with some fresh berries.
Refrigerate for 2-4 hours to set. You can leave it to set overnight as well.
Once you make the custard, there are so many ways you can use it. Make a thinner version and pour it over your favorite dessert. You can serve this custard with some fresh fruit or use it to make a fresh fruit tart (I’ll share how I make mine very soon). Or you can do what I did, I made a layered dessert and serve it with some jelly. It was my first attempt at serving it up this way. If you don’t want to make individual servings, you can set your custard and jelly separately and let your guests help themselves to it.
Whichever way you decide to serve it up, you are going to love it.
4 egg yolks
3 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
A scant pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla till it is light and creamy.
Add the cornflour and whisk it in.
Next add the milk and whisk it in till it is well incorporated and is a uniform mix.
Place on a medium heat and cook, whisking continuously for about 15-18 minutes.
Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate to set.
To make a layered dessert –
You’ll need to whip up one portion of Jelly and a fruit salad
For the fruit salad –
1 pack of Raspberry Jelly
Assortment of fresh fruit, chopped into little pieces (Do NOT use pineapple, kiwi or papaya / pawpaw as your jelly will not set.)
Pour the jelly granules in a bowl.
Add 250ml boiling hot water. Stir to dissolve the Jelly granules.
Add 200ml cold water and stir through.
When the jelly has reached room temperature, add some chopped fruit.
Please note, every Jelly brand may have to be prepared differently. So, please follow the instructions on your box of jelly to achieve the best results.
Layer the custard and jelly in your servingware and keep refrigerated till you’re ready to serve.
Fast forward to about 7-8 years ago, I actually learned to make my pizza bases from scratch. After a whole lot of trial and error, I finally found a combination that worked well for me. And I’ve stuck to that ever since. And its safe to say, that since then, I have never bought a store bought pizza base. It is quite easy to make, once you know what your doing. Coupled with this, I’m also going to share my no-cook pizza sauce recipe with you. This recipe is probably older than my pizza dough recipe. As far as the toppings go, we’ve tried a lot of combinations. Once you have the basics in place, you can switch up you toppings to suit your tastes.
I’m going to whip up 2 pizzas today, one is a pepperoni pizza and the other is a mixed vegetable pizza. While, we’re tried a few topping options, these two have got to be strong favorites in my house.
So let’s get on to the recipe, shall we?
For the pizza dough –
2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
1 tsp instant dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
150ml luke warm water (approx.) (use as needed)
2 spoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
In a little bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and a couple of tablespoons of warm water. Set the bowl aside for about 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
After 5-10 minutes, the yeast will turn frothy and is now activated.
In a large mixing bowl, take 2 cups flour and add the salt (I use about 3/4 tsp salt). Using your fingers, mix the salt through the flour.
Make a well in the middle of the mound of flour and add the yeast mix.
Start combining the flour with the yeast and gradually add warm water, as needed to form a soft dough.
The dough will be tacky at first, but will eventually be much more manageable and smooth.
Stretch the dough while kneading and continue this process for about 5 minutes. (See video above, for method). Halfway through the process, add the oil in 2 stages and continue working the dough.
Shape into a ball, and place in a greased bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and lightly coat the top of the dough, so that it doesn’t dry out. Cover the bowl with some cling film or a clean, damp towel and leave the bowl in a warm place for the dough to rise. Leave to prove (rise) for about an hour, or till the dough doubles in volume. (It might take a little longer during cooler months.)
For the sauce –
1-1 1/4 cup passata, tomato puree or canned tomatoes (If using canned tomatoes, process them to a puree before using)
2-3 small cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
A little less than 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp red chilly flakes
Add all the ingredients into a bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.
The sauce is now ready to use.
To make the pizzas –
Preheat the oven to 250 deg C.
Divide the dough into 2 portions.
Stretch the dough to form the base. (See the video above for method)
Spread the sauce over the base, leaving a little margin from the edges.
Add toppings of your choice and cheese. (I use a combination of mozzarella and colby / cheddar).
Bake for 10-12 minutes or till the dough (pizza base) is cooked through and the cheese has melted.
1) Remember to use warm water, not hot water. Hot water will kill your yeast and your dough will not rise.
How do they both compare? Well I found that the cashewnut marzipan is lighter while the almond one is a little on the denser side. That being said, the almond version is super delicious. I think even more than the cashewnut one. Then, there’s also the fact that the almond one is a no-cook recipe. So, to sum up, I will still make my cashewnut version as it is a little easier to work with, but the almond one will be absolutely perfect to use in so many different ways. I’d love for you to try it out and tell me what you think of it.
No-cook Almond Marzipan
(Yields 250-260gms approx.)
1 cup raw, natural almonds
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp rose water (you can add a little more if needed)
1/2 tsp almond extract (you can add a little more if needed)
Place the almonds in a heatproof bowl.
Pour water from a recently boiled kettle over the almonds to cover the nuts. Leave the almonds to soak for a couple of minutes.
Drain the almonds and peel them. Place them on some kitchen paper or a clean kitchen towel to dry up. Let the almonds cool down completely.
In a high powered blender / food processor, blitz the almonds to a fine powder.
Place the almond powder in a large bowl. Add in the icing sugar. Mix it thoroughly till combined.
Add the rose water and almond extract and knead to form a dough / log.
Your marzipan is now ready to be used.
If you don’t need to use it immediately, you can wrap it in cling film and refrigerate till needed. It keeps for a couple of months. (Personally, I would just make this when needed, probably a couple of days ahead.)
NOTE: This marzipan is not a very sweet version. When the marzipan is formed, taste some of it. If you want it sweeter, simply add some more icing sugar and knead it in.