Monday, February 20, 2012

Fetching Fettuccine & Mum's Marvellous Semolina Slice

It all started one night last week during a little cooking demonstration my mother was giving me for the Semolina Slice( namoora is the arabic term used for these little cholesterol encouraging bites).
 As cliche as this is going to sound, my mother is the greatest person on earth. Those of you lucky enough to know her personally will be quick to agree that there is no other person in the world with a heart as big as hers and a sense of humour as quirky as hers. She is my best friend, the only person on this earth who has the ability to piss me off to the point where I literally want to hit my head against a brick wall and only minutes later run to her with a hug so big it knocks her to the ground (she is a lot shorter than me).
In saying all of that, my mother is brutally honest with me which at times is as pleasant as having your arm chopped off. She insists on informing me of rising obesity statistics when I reach for my second piece of cake and has tried multiple times to convince me that no one will want to marry me if they find out I don't help her clean the house. This brings me to why I have chosen to add savoury dishes to my dessert blog...
It was a nice stormy Australian summer night and the two of us were in the kitchen sharing a pot of ahwi (lebanese coffee) after making namoora, discussing an array of current affairs when conversation happened to land upon my mothers favourite topic in the whole entire world... marriage.
 As I said earlier she has tried previously to convince me that men don't marry women who can't/refuse to clean and now she was worried that I was going to feed my future husband custard tarts and bannoffee pie for dinner. Please keep in mind that I am a 22 yr old uni student who is not in a relationship and not intending on getting married any time soon.
"All you do is bake sweets,sweets,sweets!! when are you going to be a proper lady and cook real food?!"
I set out to prove her wrong by writing up my own recipe fettuccine and cooking dinner for the whole family the following night.
I have included both recipes for the Semolina slice and the fettuccine. I know that I usually don't encourage healthy eating but in this case I beg you not to eat more then 2 slices of namoora / one serving of fettuccine in one day. These dishes have a VERY high fat content, if you choose to not follow my serving size suggestion then I strongly recommend you keep an ambulance on speed dial as I'm pretty sure you will have a heart attack.

Fetching Fettuccine 

Serves: 6 people 
Preparation time: It took me almost a whole day (see why I prefer to make desserts?!)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup shallots chopped finely
5 fresh basil leaves chopped finely
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
300g diced bacon
600ml thickened cream
1/2 cup full cream milk
teaspoon salt
teaspoon pepper
teaspoon nutmeg
500g cooked fettuccine

Instructions :

1- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the basil, garlic and shallots. Stir over medium heat for about 2 minutes/ until the shallots have softened.

2-Add the diced bacon, make sure to stir consistently until the bacon is lightly browned. Stir through the mushrooms into the mixture.

3-Add the salt,pepper and nutmeg. Pour in the cream and milk, mix thoroughly.

4-Allow the mixture to cook on low heat until it starts to simmer, stir it consistently to make sure the cream doesn't go clumpy.

5-Add the pasta to the sauce,stir to combine evenly.

6-Garnish with fresh basil leaves to serve, enjoy!

Semolina Slice (Namoora) 

Serves: 24

250g softened unsalted butter 
5 cups course semolina
2 cups sugar
300g sour cream
split almonds 


1- Lightly butter a 32cm round tin and preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2-In a bowl, mix sugar and semolina.

3-Add the sour cream and butter to the mixture.

4-Mix everything together using your hands until it forms a very soft dough.

5-Flatten the mixture into the tray and smooth out till flat and even.

6-Using a knife make a diamond pattern cutting through right to the bottom. Place an almond on each square.

7-Place the tray in the fridge to rest for about an hour. 

8- To make the Sugar syrup, place 2 cups sugar, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoon rosewater and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Stir over low heat until it simmers and becomes a clear syrup. Set aside. 

8-Preheat the oven to 180degrees and bake the Namoora till it appears to be golden brown.

9-Pour the sugar syrup over the whole thing as soon as you take it out of the oven, leave for about an hour for the syrup to be totally absorbed. 

10-slice, serve and enjoy!

This totally has nothing to do with any of the recipes in this weeks post but how CUTE are these mini chilli's from my relatives backyard?! They are so tiny compared to a standard size chilli!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentines day Red Velvet Cupcakes

"Love is like the measles; we all have to go through it."
Jerome K.  Jerome

Its that wonderful time of year again! Now Valentines day is one of those very bitter sweet holidays that comes around every year. It is as pleasant as a kick in the teeth for boyfriends who have a bad memory and that woman with the 3 cats. But regardless of what you think or feel about love, we must all agree that nothing melts the heart like seeing an old couple holding hands (even if its because one of them can't walk properly) or a teenager having there first love (even if it is just the raging hormones). 
One of the trickiest things about Valentines day is figuring out the perfect gift for your partner. This is as easy as finding that needle in the hay! I know what your all thinking, chocolate, flowers and a nice dinner. I have a friend who has an absolutely amazing personality, I have known her since kindy and no one has a heart bigger than hers ( except maybe me). If her boyfriend sends her anything that even looks like flowers this year, the poor guy will become a thing of the past. A tip I can give to anyone looking to purchase a Valentines day gift this year is think about the person you are actually purchasing for and not the person in the advertisement who looks like she is going to faint with joy because her boyfriend bought her a bunch of flowers and red door perfume (yuck!). 
Do remember that the best gifts are the ones that come straight from the heart, its the thought and effort that counts. I know pigs will fly before a male bakes these cupcakes for his girlfriend but ladies do remember that the fastest way to a male's heart is through his stomach,get that apron on and start cooking.

Those of you who don't have a Valentine this year and think being showered with chocolates and luscious desserts is a thing for couples in love,STOP THAT RIGHT NOW! You are going to finish reading my post,get into your car,drive to woolworths,purchase the ingredients for this recipe, pick up a bottle of Moet,  rush back home and get started on making this the best Valentines day ever!! 

Red Velvet Cupcakes 

Ingredients :
-120g unsalted butter
-300g caster sugar
-2 large eggs
-20g cocoa powder
-40ml red food colouring
-1 tsp vanilla bean powder
-300g plain flour
-tsp salt 
-240ml buttermilk
-1 tbsp white wine vinegar
-1 tsp bicarbonate soda

Frosting Ingredients:
-100g unsalted butter
-600g icing sugar
-250g philadelphia cream cheese
- coloured sprinkles!

1-preheat oven to 190 degrees

2-Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add through the eggs one at a time,beating thoroughly.

3-In a seperate, small bowl , stir together the cocoa powder, food colouring and vanilla essence to form a paste. Add the paste to the batter,mixing it through.

4- Add the flour and salt to the mixture,followed by the buttermilk, make sure to mix thoroughly to ensure there are no lumps in the mixture!

5-Finally,stir in the bicarbonate soda and vinegar until fully incorporated.

6-Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases, mine fit 12 cases perfectly but you can stretch it to make 16 by not filling them as much.

7-Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed. Allow the cupcakes to cool before frosting them.

8- To make the frosting, beat the butter and icing sugar till smooth, add the cream cheese and beat together until everything is incorporated, it should be light,fluffy and absolutely delicious!

9- Sit back and enjoy being praised for your work by that special someone or enjoy them all to yourself!!!

To all the hopelessly romantic females reading this (myself included) I am sure you noticed the book I have used in the background "Love Letters Of Great Men", before you abuse your other half for not writing you love letters,remember that the men who wrote those letters in the book died, most of them over a thousand years ago. Save yourself the argument/ the googled love letter and accept the fact that men don't write poems or love letters,ever!!

Happy Valentines Day!!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

When Baking Goes BITTER..

Ok so the idea for this failure of a  recipe came to me the day before my sister was to go back to school and begin year 11. I was sick of watching her run out the door with the most hopeless "breakfast" excuses. My beloved sisters idea of breakfast would range from something as healthy as an apple on the go to a can of red bull and a slice of last nights chocolate cake. I just had to do something about it and I had to do it fast(don't you wish all sisters were as caring and nurturing as me?!)! Now I have tried the concept of proper breakfast muffins with her before. They were made with toasted granola and different types of fruits which failed horribly as they weren't 'what she likes'. After lots and lots of thinking,the idea for white chocolate banana muffins came to me and so I set out to write up the recipe on my own,fail again.
As optimistic as I was about making these muffins, things went wrong, horribly wrong which is why I have labelled this baking experience as being very bitter! I have since learnt to actually read through my ten thousand cook books when I need a recipe and accept the fact that I shouldn't make up my own recipes..yet.
I am looking for a new and improved back to school muffin recipe which I will hopefully succeed with and post sometime next week, for now I will share with you my tips on what NOT TO DO when baking, I am sure you guys already know  all these things, clearly I don't ! Oh well, you live and you learn :)

What NOT to do when baking: 
1- Do not use a million ingredients,keep it simple
2- Do not melt the butter so it becomes runny, its best to let it soften at room temperature
3-Do not add choc-chips to the recipe without tossing them in a spoon of flour first, this ensures they don't sink to the bottom
4- Do not bake in a kitchen alongside your mother and sister whilst they argue continuously about whether an episode of The Kardashians is more important then homework
5-Try your best to sift all dry ingredients!
6-Do not add eggs to the butter-sugar mixture if the butter is still warm as it starts the cooking process and does not allow the cake to rise as it should.
7-Do not put the tray into the oven unless you have pre-heated it
8- Do not rush baking, it is a process that takes time, love and lots of patience

I promise my next post will be a whole lot sweeter then this one as it is going to be a valentines day special. So whether you are baking for your wonderful single self or that special someone, Don't forget to check back here Monday for a recipe that will ensure an unforgettable valentines ;)

Happy Baking!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

NuTty new years resolutions and healthier Biscotti

The idea for this batch of Nutty Biscotti came to me the other day whilst I was on the phone to one of my friends. This friend has a rather significant sweet tooth and is usually the first to put her hand up to sample my desserts so you can only imagine my surprise when she exclaimed "NO JESS,NO MORE DESSERTS! I'M EATING HEALTHY". Those last three words hit me like a slap in the face as I turned to my latest cookbook  "The Biggest Loser FAMILIES" for support. It felt like EVERYONE had decided that a healthier eating plan was going to be there new years resolution and that I had no choice but to turn to this book and bid farewell to my sugary creations forever. I have to be honest though, I bought this cook book for two reasons only, reason #1 it was only $10 and reason #2 I thought it would be jam packed with photos of the hot trainer from the Aussie version of the show. I have since then learnt  to read the title of a book before purchase and never to judge by its cover as now I have 70 pages of practically menopausal women doing yoga and page after page with advice on 'how to raise a healthy family'. On the bright side I must admit the recipes in the book were pretty good and I managed to find a nice Biscotti recipe to bake for my newly healthy friend. I have changed the original around a fair bit, the recipe required dried figs instead of almonds but since I had no figs in the pantry and I'm absolutely obsessed with almonds I used them instead. I have also added in the elderflower syrup and orange zest, you can choose to just use vanilla bean instead of the elder flower if you prefer the taste.

This recipe is pretty good, I must say I enjoyed it a little too much, its meant to serve 24 people, lets just say only about 4 people got to try it after I had finished my "Quality Control Taste Tests". Hope you enjoy it as much as I did and to everyone "eating healthy" this year, I give you two more weeks before you move on back to the dark side..warm,sugary,buttery,creamy,luscious bites of cake ;) 

Elderflower, Almond & Pecan Biscotti

preperation time : 15 min
Cooking time : 40 min
Serves: supposed to serve 24 but only served 5 in my family!


-1/2 cup raw caster sugar ( so excited about having found this,didn't even know they made this stuff!) 

-1 egg
-1 cup plain flour
-1 tbl spoon grated orange zest
-1/3 cup toasted Pecans
-1/3 cup toasted Almonds
-1 tsp Elderflower flavouring 


1- preheat oven to 180 degrees

2- Process the nuts,elder flower and orange zest together in a food processor, leave it to rest about 5 min.

3-beat sugar and egg until thick and pale.

4- add the nut mixture to the eggs and beat on low just till they are combined.

5- knead in the flour to form a sticky dough. Using your hands shape dough to form a log, line a tray with baking paper and flatten the log till about 3cm thick.

6-Bake for around 20min till the outside starts to brown and the log feels firm.

7- Slice the log into slices that are around 1.5 cm thick and return to the oven for another 20 min until they are golden brown.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Krazy Kourabiedes!

I have finally run out of excuses and started my food blog ! I was looking through a friends blog 'the littlest anchovy' the other day and came across a recipe for Kourabiedes. I have been meaning to make these beautiful biscuits since December last year but never got around to doing it as I was too busy obsessing over the perfect brownie recipe and baking a different batch each week. It was difficult to drag myself away from multiple bags of choc-chips and luscious batches of brownies but I have finally moved on.
This recipe is pretty straight forward and easy to follow. I tweaked the original recipe by adding walnuts to the mixture and adding the ouzo and rosewater liquids to the nut mixture before I put it in the blender. One thing I did learn (the hard way ofcourse) is no matter how amazing the smell may be, do not be tempted to stick you're nose into a blender after you have just poured alcohol over pipping hot almonds and walnuts, the steam from the mix is so powerful it actually hurts! Now before I go on any further,I would like to make one thing clear,I am a very lazy baker/cook and look for shortcuts whenever I can. I'm impatient and struggle through the little extras such as sifting dry ingredients, although I do recommend that dry ingredients are sifted before being added to the recipe I don't do it myself!
I thought you might want to the know that the Krazy in Krazy Kourabiedes was inspired by tonight's episode of Kourtney and Kim take New York ;)
here goes.. my (kinda) first recipe on this blog!

Krazy Kourabiedes!

-3/4 cup raw almonds (skin on)
-3/4 cup walnuts
-250g Unsalted Butter
-80g Icing Sugar + extra for dusting
-1 egg
-20ml Ouzo
-2 tbl spoons rosewater +extra for coating
-375g Plain Flour
-1 tsp Baking Powder


Step one:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Toast the almonds and walnuts, I used a microwave for mine,they were done within 3 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before chopping them roughly in a food processor, add the rosewater and ouzo then process until they appear to be smooth and moist.

Step two:

Cream together the butter and icing sugar in a mixer until pale and fluffy,add in the egg and beat for a few seconds. Add the almonds and walnuts to the mixture and stir in till just combined. 
Step three:

Attach dough hook and knead flour and baking powder into the mixture to form a dough. Take 1 tablespoon measurements of the mixture and form crescent shapes. Line tray with baking paper, bake biscuits in preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until slightly brown.

Step Four:

Using a pastry brush, dab the top of the biscuits while they are still warm with rose water then dust with LOTS of icing sugar! Best enjoyed with a cup of Irish breakfast or a good old shot of Ouzo! ;)

Hope you guys enjoyed my first post,feel free to comment as constructive feedback is always appreciated!

Happy Baking :)