Thursday, September 29, 2011

Random Recipe: Mozzarella, Mushroom, Basil, and Tomato Sandwiches

University has begun. Although I think I've mentioned this before.

And so with university having begun, the first signs of stress, sleepless nights, and reams and reams of paper start to appear.. (not to mention the ghosts of all those trees we seem to have killed while printing...)

And naturally, there is less time to do the things you really wish to do.. those include one's nails, watching a movie, spending hours in the kitchen, and cuddling up in bed with a book..

But sometimes, feeding oneself takes prominence over all other tasks and duties, and that is when you try and make something that you know you'll really enjoy eating.

I was so excited when I read about Dom's challenge for this month. It was to pick a random recipe from all your food related magazines and clippings and the like.. I have a little section on my bookshelf devoted to recipe related magazine clippings/magazines but to be honest with you, I've never made a recipe from any of them. That's why I was so glad when I read about this month's challenge because then I'd be able to explore something new out of all these recipes I had never tried.

The magazine I randomly picked was called "Soups and Sandwiches" by Fine Cooking. I bought it at JFK airport this April so that I could have some light reading/entertainment on the fifteen hour return flight (although traveling with 18 twenty year olds was much fun in itself.)

I like the idea of soups and sandwiches for dinner. It's light yet filling and hearty and is very convenient to eat. Since I've recently gone vegetarian (since the beginning of this month actually) I tried picking a random recipe from the vegetarian section of the magazine which was towards the end. I ended up with mozzarella, mushroom, basil, and tomato sandwiches which are very quick to prepare.

4 sandwich rolls/buns
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp crushed garlic clove
basil leaves
1 cup button mushrooms, cooked
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Combine the mayo, cheese, and garlic in a bowl and evenly spread over both sides of cut sandwich rolls.
On the bottom half, layer mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and tomato.
On the top half, place the basil leaves.
Sandwich together and lightly heat on a heated grill plate for 4-5 minutes until bread is lightly toasted.
Serve warm.

I had these with some tomato and capsicum soup.. the combination was amazing!

I hope I'm not past the posting deadline for this! >_< sorry if I am, Dom! :(

In other news, I just realized that this was my first savoury post of the month (and it's the end of the month!)
But I have made some nasi goreng, pasta, and grilled fish a few times.. all really good.. hoping to post up some of those recipes soon!

I also made macarons after doing much research on techniques. I now have two A4 pages full of tips and techniques that I've gathered while reading blogposts, watching videos, and reading cookbooks. Should I have a post on my macarons? "Dissecting the Macaron" as I'd like to call it..

Sorry about the picture quality! I didn't have a proper camera with me and these were about to be gobbled up in a second.. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Triple Chocolate Party Cake

You know when you walk past a restaurant that seems really nice and you think "I'm definitely going to try this some day" or when you see a book you really want to read and say to yourself: "I'm going to start reading this as soon as work slows down a bit"? Inevitably, you don't manage to eat at that restaurant or read that book for a VERY long time, no matter how much you want to. That was the case with me and the We Should Cocoa Blog Challenge. Every month, the challenges seemed so interesting and mouth-watering. And every month, either I had papers to write, exams to study for, work to go, events to manage, or some odd amalgamation of all of the previous (which was most likely what happened). Anyways, I never got to participate in the We Should Cocoa blog challenges even though I really, really, really wanted to but this month, I did. This month's challenge is hosted by the lovely Chele of the The Chocolate Pot.

I think what really pushed me to make this was that the theme was "chocolate masterpiece".
"Masterpiece!" I thought. Oooh yess, time to spin toffee and melt fondant and create a wonderful chocolate swan in a stainless steel kitchen with my chef's hat and whites. I got all sorts of ideas (I always do). Alas, attempting to be creative is what drives me more often than not.

And a masterpiece automatically means that it has to be presented with some pomp and show does it not? Masterpieces, after all, fit in perfectly with celebrations. And so, I decided to make a chocolate 'masterpiece' cake for the first birthday of our food bloggers group.

Famished in Arabia, or TableTalk as it is now known, was formed a year ago by Arwa @ I Live in a Frying Pan and Sally @ My Custard Pie . They decided to collaborate and form a UAE-based food bloggers group.  The group has now grown to over 60 members and is such a wonderful network between all of us who love to love to share our love of food. I have made some wonderful friends this past year thanks to our group and have created some lovely memories. We constantly share our posts with one another and always have one fun event or another coming up. I'll always remember when we made gingerbread biscuits at Sally's, or had a picnic in the park, or Iftar at Sukaina's, or took a Thai cooking class, or had a mini chocolate fest at my place. And now I'll remember our epic first birthday celebration.

We raided the first floor of the wonderful Tea Junction today and had our cake-a-thon celebrating our first birthday. Each one of us was supposed to bring a cake (which resulted in some two dozen cakes!). And so, quite aptly, I decided to make this triple chocolate cake. Another reason I made this cake is because I wanted to tie a bow around it this time. I made a similar cake two weeks ago (topped with berries instead) as a birthday cake for a friend who absolutely refused that I add a ribbon. But I had to have my ribbon. And so I made this cake again albeit slightly differently.

The last one was a 9" double layered chocolate cake with milk chocolate finger biscuits around it. The topping was a mixture of heavy cream and whipping cream and was topped with berries. This one, in contrast was a 5" single-layered chocolate cake, with chocolate buttercream, milk and dark chocolate fingers, and semisweet chocolate chips.

I am not joking when I tell you that the decoration part of this cake took exactly 10 minutes. It is SO much easier than simply coating a cake with frosting. SO MUCH EASIER!

I started making the cake at 1PM and by 3PM everything was ready (and yes, I did other stuff in those two hours!)

100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
40g butter
1 egg
120ml milk
0.5 tsp vanilla essence
1 packet Cadbury Milk Chocolate Fingers
1 packet Cadbury Dark Chocolate Fingers
Semisweet chocolate chips
300g icing sugar, sifted
40g cocoa powder, sifted
100g butter
40ml milk
1 yard satin ribbon, color of your choice


Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and base-line a 5" cake tin.
Place together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and butter in a large bowl. Mix until well combined. In a small jug, beat together the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour half of the milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix until well combined. Add the other half and beat for two minutes until all mixed together.
Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool.
Meanwhile make the frosting by mixing together the icing sugar, cocoa powder, and butter until it reaches a sandy consistency. Gradually add the milk and beat for 5 minutes until buttercream is fluffy.
Place the cake on an icing turntable and with a spatula, apply frosting only around the sides of the cake. Apply just enough so that the fingers can stick on comfortably. Once the sides of the cake have been coated with the buttercream, carefully place the chocolate fingers all around alternating between the milk and dark chocolate fingers.
Once that's complete, place the remaining chocolate frosting in a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 98 nozzle and pipe around the edges of the inside of the cake. Complete by filling the middle of the cake with the piped frosting. The best way to achieve this look is by arbitrarily piping across the center of the cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the semisweet chocolate chips. Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes until relatively hardened before tying the bow across the cake. Try to make the bow look neater than mine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rose Custards

Perhaps I'm being too much of an Orientalist here, but any dish to do with roses immediately evokes an Arabian Nights-esque vision in my mind...

You know what it looks like: a large marble balcony, lit delicately by the full moon. There's a fountain in the centre, made of the most intricate and beautiful turquoise tiles, and it slowly gushes out water. A large chaise longue rests beside it, amply supplied with plush cushions with glittering gold edging. At each end of the balcony is a large terracotta pot filled with water and topped with rose petals and floating candles. The scent of roses gently wafts up to the balcony from the rose bushes below, and on the chaise longue sits a beautiful princess with the darkest eyes and richest curly hair, savouring each mouthful of a rose custard...made from roses plucked right from the bushes below...

Yes that's what I imagine when I read any recipe to do with roses. That and the colour pink. I think I'm falling in love with it all over again. I had a pink phase when I was five, and then was I was thirteen, and now... I think there's a cyclical pattern in there somewhere.

This rose custard is somewhat like a rose creme brulee and tastes so succulent you'll want to close your eyes and savor it each time you taste it. And the best part is that it is fairly simple. This recipe makes six individual custards. Make sure you ovenproof glass dishes for this.


200ml low fat milk
250ml thickened cream
6 egg yolks
85g granulated sugar
4 tablespoons pink rose syrup
3 tablespoons rosewater
6 rose petals
1 egg white
6 teaspoons caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C.
In a saucepan, mix together cream and milk until it boils. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for one minute. Remove from heat.
In a bowl, mix together the egg yolks and granulated sugar until pale. Sieve the milk mixture into the bowl. Add the rosewater and rose syrup and beat everything together thoroughly.
Divide equally among six 100ml ovenproof glasses.
Place the glasses in a roasting tin and fill the tin with water up to the 5mm below the rim of the glasses.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the edges have set but the middle is slightly loose.
Remove from oven and remove glasses from tin. Allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating for at least two hours.
Meanwhile, gently wash and dry the rose petals. With a paintbrush, delicately brush one petal with the egg white, sprinkle one teaspoon of caster sugar on top and slowly shake off the excess. Allow to dry and set. Repeat with other rose petals.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Butterscotch Blondies

Ever since I first heard that something called "blondies" (sister of brownies) existed.. I keep associating them with hair colors.. and I constantly ask why there isn't a reddie... maybe I should invent one..

Anyways, I've done the brownie thing a few times but never the blondie one. And so I decided to begin my adventure into blondie land (not that I'm not mentally one...) with these butterscotch brownies. Who doesn't like butterscotch? I sure do.

The best part while making this was adding the muscovado sugar to the hot, melted butter and stirring. The color turned into the most amazing golden brown.
The recipe is quite simple and quite fun and what I love about both brownies and blondies is that you can dress them up and dress them down. Spoon a scoop of icecream over a brownie/blondie and top with some chocolate or butterscotch sauce and you've got yourself an epic dinner party dessert.

Serve them on their own and it's the best bake sale dish you can make.


115g unsalted butter
220g muscovado sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and base line a 20cm square cake tin.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar with a wooden spoon until well combined. 
Gradually add the eggs and vanilla extract and stir together. 
Sift the flour and baking powder into the saucepan and stir again until combined.
Add the chocolate chips and stir well. 
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes. 
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins before cutting. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Orange Blossom Cakes

I've been trying to find excuses to use orange flower water ever since I first made a Moroccan juice with it almost four years ago. The smell is so refreshing and it tastes floral as opposed to citrussy. If floral is a taste... which in my world it most definitely is. 

I tend to make things just because I have leftover ingredients I don't want to go to waste. I.e. extra mascarpone: chocolate mousse... golden syrup: caramel dumplings...and for orange flower water: mini tea cakes. 

The recipe is extremely simple and tastes slightly of almonds which complement the flavor of the cake wonderfully. They're bite sized- so watch how many you eat! 

110g butter, softened
1 tablespoon orange flower water
110g caster sugar
2 eggs
150g self raising flour
30g ground almonds
125ml milk
-for the icing
40g icing sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon orange flower water

Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease a mini teacake mould.
Cream the butter and the sugar with the orange flower water. 
Add the eggs one at a time- don't panic if the mixture curdles.
Sift the flour and mix with the ground almonds in a small bowl. 
Add half the flour mixture to the cake batter and mix well.
Add half the milk and stir thoroughly.
Repeat the last two steps.
With a teaspoon, pour two teaspoons of batter into each mould. 
Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely. 
Mix the sifted icing sugar with the water and orange flower water and drizzle over the cakes. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Slice

I like the idea of making slices.
They're cute and dainty. They're not your usual cake, or your usual biscuit.. they're something it between. And the idea of it being triple layered is pretty cool.

I made these super quick chocolate caramel slices this morning. And when I attempted to photograph them outdoors the chocolate topping started to melt in the 45C+ degree weather.

Nonetheless, it's delicious. I kept munching on them as a I photographed....... oops...

0.5 cup plain flour
0.5 cup self raising flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup soft brown sugar
125g melted margarine
395g sweetened condensed milk
30g margarine, extra
2 tablespoons golden syrup
150g dark chocolate
3 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Grease and line a 20cm x 20cm baking dish.
In a bowl mix together the flours, desiccated coconut, sugar, and margarine.
Press into the base of the baking dish and smoothen the top with the back of a spoon.
Back for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the sweetened condensed milk, golden syrup, and extra margarine in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until well incorporated and color is a medium golden brown- it should take around 10 minutes.
Take the baking dish out of the oven and pour the caramel mixture evenly on top.
Bake for 7 minutes or until just set.
Allow to cool slightly.
Melt the chocolate with the olive oil in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Once completely melted, pour over the caramel mixture and refrigerate for at least three hours.
 Before serving, cut into slices.