Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Cheddar Cornbread & Lentil Curry

Since I bought a bag of cornmeal to make the Orange Cornmeal Cake, I've been looking around for another cornmeal recipe so that it gets used up. If I don't, it may just be forgotten and I'd end up throwing it away when it expires which is such a waste. 

I came across this almost fat free (except for the cheese) corn bread recipe which turned out to be really delicious. I added a handful of basil which brought a special flavour to the bread. The combination of cornmeal, cheddar and basil was definitely a winning one. 

I also cooked a vegetarian lentil curry dish to go along with the bread. This is one of those recipes which I have made a few times because the cauliflower and sweet potato lends so much sweetness to the stew that not much seasoning is required. It was also a great way of getting more beans into my family diet. 

Cheddar Corn Bread (9 inch cast iron skillet or 8 inch square baking tray)
A Martha Stewart Recipe

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk (I combined half yoghurt and half milk and let it stand)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • A handful of basil (my own addition)
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees (220 degrees C). In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, salt, and pepper; make a well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk and eggs to well, and whisk to loosen eggs. Gently incorporate dry ingredients, then mix in cheese.
  • Place butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; bake until butter is melted. Remove from oven, and tilt to coat bottom and sides.
  • Pour batter into prepared skillet; bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cornbread cool in skillet at least 15 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature. Wrap completely cooled bread in plastic, and store at room temperature up to 1 day.
Lentil Curry

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 head cauliflower (2 1/2 pounds), stemmed and separated into florets
  • 1 cup brown lentils, picked over, well rinsed, and drained
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with juice
  • Coarse salt
  • Plain low-fat yogurt, for serving (optional)
  • In a nonstick Dutch oven (5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid), heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes.
  • Add curry powder; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in sweet potatoes, cauliflower, lentils, tomatoes and their juice, and 1 1/2 cups water; season with salt.
  • Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover, and cook until lentils and sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately with yogurt, if desired.
This is for Cook Like A Star hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours, Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mich of Piece of Cake.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Blueberry and Yoghurt Loaf

I love baking with blueberries because they make the bakes so pretty with its gorgeous deep blue hues - which is why its impossible to resist trying out this Blueberry and Yoghurt Loaf. 

This simple loaf is moistened by the use of yoghurt and the taste enhanced by the refreshing lemon zest. Every bite of this fine, moist cake is bursting with blueberries and lemon flavours. 

The steps to making this cake is extremely simple, and you may not even need a mixer if you can whisk hard enough. It's a lovely recipe for a picnic or tea time. 

Blueberry and Yoghurt Loaf (1 Loaf)
Recipe by Donna Hay

  • 150 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (220 g) caster (superfine) sugar (Reduced to 170 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup (140 g) Greek-style (thick) yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (225 g) self-raising (self-rising) flour, sifted
  • 125 g fresh blueberries, plus extra, to serve
  • icing (confectioner’s) sugar, for dusting
  • Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Place the butter, sugar, eggs, yoghurt, lemon zest and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour and whisk until well combined. 
  • Fold through the blueberries and spoon into a lightly greased 22cm x 8cm x 7cm loaf tin lined with non-stick baking paper. 
  • Smooth the top with a palette knife and bake for 1 hour–1 hour 10 minutes (I baked for 40 mins) or until cooked when tested with a skewer. 
  • Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • Dust with icing sugar and top with extra blueberries to serve. Serves 6–8.
This is for Cook Like A Star hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours, Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mich of Piece of Cake.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Orange Cornmeal Cake

Adding cornmeal to bakes gives cakes and muffins a special gritty which I really enjoy. As I haven't baked with cornmeal for a long time, I bought another bag so that I can make this Orange Cornmeal Cake. 

I love this recipe because its so easy to make (no need mixer) - I used a whisk to mix everything together. This cake is also healthier as it uses olive oil instead of butter. All these factors make this cake the ideal type of cake for lazy bakers like me who hate washing up!

The refreshing taste of the orange goes well with the slightly salty aftertaste of the cornmeal. The texture is crumbly and gritty all at once. It goes great with a cup of afternoon tea and my kids enjoyed it for breakfast!

Orange Cornmeal Cake (8 inch)
Recipe by Martha Stewart

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup for topping (reduced to 3/4 cup, omitted topping sugar)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, (or orange juice) 
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Orange segments, for serving (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Brush bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with oil; line bottom with a round of wax or parchment paper, and brush paper with oil.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, 1 cup sugar, and wine until smooth. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and orange zest; whisk gently to combine.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1/3 cup sugar (topping will be thick). Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Cool in pan 20 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake; invert cake gently onto a plate, and remove parchment paper. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely. Serve with orange segments, if desired.
This post is linked to the event, Little Thumbs Up organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY and hosted by Ann of Anncoo Journal.

This is for Cook Like A Star hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours, Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mich of Piece of Cake.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Chicken in Milk

Since the time when we had Cook Like A Star with Jamie Oliver, this recipe had been tried by many others who gave it excellent reviews. 

I finally got down to making it after I got some sage from the supermarket. It seems a little odd to bake chicken in milk but somehow the combination of ingredients makes the entire dish work perfectly. Sage and cinnamon adds a distinctive flavour to the rich creamy milk gravy infused with zesty lemon aromas.  

The chicken was pan fried and then baked to a crisp perfection. The meat was tender and flavourful soaked in the gravy. Writing about it makes me want to do this easy peasy one-dish again. 

Chicken in Milk (Serves 4)
Jamie Oliver's recipe

  • 1.5 kg higher-welfare chicken (I used 2 chicken halves)
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • ½ stick cinnamon
  • 1 good handful fresh sage, leaves picked
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 10 cloves garlic, skin left on
  • 565 ml milk
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5, and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. Season it generously all over, and fry it in a little olive oil, turning the chicken to get an even colour all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the oil left in the pot. This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan which will give you a lovely caramel flavour later on.
  • Put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and cook in the preheated oven for 1½ hours. Baste with the cooking juice when you remember. The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce which is absolutely fantastic.
  • To serve, pull the meat off the bones and divide it onto your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato.
This is for Cook Like A Star hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours, Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mich of Piece of Cake.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Marble Butter Cake

There are days when the going gets tough (with housework and kids!) that I simply must have a slice of cake! A good piece of cake is such comfort food. This marble cake which I found on The Little Teochew's website was one of those - one bite made everything better. 

This marble cake is quite unlike those crumbly and airy butter cake - the texture of this cake is extremely fine, moist and tender. Instead of the usual whole eggs method (where the whole egg is added to the creamed butter), this cake uses the egg separation method. Egg whites are beaten separately then gently folded into the butter mixture. 

There is no doubt that this method gives the cake an extraordinarily fine and moist texture. This is definitely the marble cake recipe for me from now. 

Marble Butter Cake (8 inch)
Recipe from The Little Teochew

  • 8 large eggs, separated
  • 9 ozs (255g) castor sugar (Reduced to 220g)
  • 12 ozs (340g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 9 ozs (255g) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsps good quality cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven at 160°C (convection fan on) with a wire rack in the middle. Line an 8-inch round cake tin with parchment, butter and flour. Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

2. Cream butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment till light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar till light. Gradually add this into the butter and beat on medium speed till just incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites till stiff peaks form. With a spatula, fold in the meringue into the egg yolk mixture in 3-4 batches*. Add in the dry ingredients gradually until just incorporated.

* The first time I added the egg whites, it was impossible to fold. What I did was just mix it up with the thick yolk batter and "loosen up" the batter. The subsequent batches were much easier. I folded the whites in 3 batches.

3. Scoop out 1/4* of the batter in a separate bowl. Sieve cocoa powder over it and fold to mix well. Pour batters into tin, alternating between the two mixtures. Start with the yellow batter and end with the cocoa mixture. Rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. With a long skewer, swirl (sparingly) around the batter to create the marble effect. Bake for 40-55 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

* This is somewhat arbitrary. A little more won't hurt, especially if you want a bit more chocolate in your cake! :)

4. Cool on wire rack completely before serving. Cake keeps at room temperature up to 3 days and can be frozen up to 3 months.

This is for Bake Along hosted by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Lena of Frozen Wings and Joyce of Kitchen Flavours

Monday, 24 March 2014

Blueberry Walnut Coffee Cake

The Blueberry Walnut Cake from the book Coffee Cakes: Simple, Sweet and Savory by Lou Seibert Pappas is the next bake for the members of The Home Bakers. The Home Bakers  is hosted by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours. If you are keen to join us, please contact Joyce.

Actually its supposed to be a Raspberry Almond Cake but because raspberries are expensive locally and I'm allergic to almonds so I've decided to substitute with blueberries and walnuts. I think the combination works well and goes nicely with the streusel topping. 

I simply love how the blueberries look like jewels sparkling in the sun in the above photo! The cake was moist and delicious with a hint of lemon flavours. The streusel was certainly the best part. 

Angela of The Charmed Cupcake is the host for this recipe, please go to her blog for the full recipe.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Three Flavoured Focaccia

Jamie Oliver claims that this focaccia is not fussy as in its pretty easy and straight forward - and I'm pretty much inclined to believe him as I've tried several of his recipes to great success. . Like Jamie, I made this one lazy weekend afternoon for dinner that evening.

I didn't even bother with my breadmaker as I'm usually quite lazy and would prefer not to hand knead anything. Since this only need five minutes of arm power, I decided to do so. It wasn't too bad after all! Very soon the focaccia was ready to proof and I set about making the toppings. I didn't follow his recipe for the toppings exactly and I made some substitutions yet it was still great! The caramelized onions, cherry tomatoes and cheese toppings went very well with the soft, fluffy focaccia bread. 

The great thing about the this focaccia is that you actually get to eat three different flavours all at once. My family really enjoyed this recipe and I'd be sure to do it again soon. 

Three Flavour Focaccia (1 12 inch by 10 inch tray)
Recipe by Jamie Oliver

For the dough
  • 400 g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100 g fine ground semolina flour or strong white bread flour
  • sea salt
  • 1 sachet dried yeast (2 1/4 tsp of instant yeas)
  • ½ tablespoon golden caster sugar
  • 300 ml water, lukewarm
  • olive oil
Onion topping
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced (I used white)
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Basil and cherry tomato topping
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
  • 1 large handful ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
For the three-cheese and rosemary topping
  • 30 g Taleggio cheese
  • 1 small log goat's cheese
  • 1 handful Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked

1. Dough
  •  Place the flours and ½ tablespoon of sea salt into a large bowl, and make a well in the middle. Add the yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, and mix with a fork. Leave this for a few minutes and, when it starts to foam, slowly pour it into the well, mixing with a fork as you go.
  • As soon as all the ingredients come together, which may take a minute or so, knead vigorously for around 5 minutes until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl with some olive oil and transfer the dough to the bowl. Dust with a little extra flour, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
  • While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 and prepare the toppings (I baked at 190°C).
2. Prepare the toppings -
  • Onion Topping: For the balsamic onion topping, fry the sliced onions and thyme leaves in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, reduce for a minute or two, then leave to cool.
  • Basil and cherry tomato topping: Roughly chop the basil leaves and pop them into a bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a tiny splash of white wine vinegar. Add the garlic and mix it all.
3.  Back to the dough
  • To cook the focaccia, as soon as the dough has risen, pound it then place on a baking tray and spread it out to cover the tray. Push down roughly on top of the dough like a piano to make lots of rough dips and wells.
  • Divide the onion and the tomato toppings over two thirds of the focaccia. 
  • For the three-cheese and rosemary topping, break up the Taleggio and the goat's cheese over the remaining third of the focaccia. Sprinkle over the grated Parmesan and rosemary leaves and season with pepper. Finish with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. 
  • Leave to prove for a further 20 minutes then bake for 20 minutes, until golden on top and soft in the middle.
This is for Cook Like A Star hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours, Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mich of Piece of Cake.