Creamy Courgette Risotto

I love risotto and so does HIM, the only negative part of making it is that you need to be in the kitchen the entire time, stirring the pot regularly and adding ladle fulls of stock as you go. Time consuming indeed, but so worth it when you set down to eat a bowl full of this creamy heaven.

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I found this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (June 2014 issue) and adapted it by adding crispy bacon pieces (because… who doesn’t love bacon… right???) and wine. While omitting the toasted pine nuts, lemon & mascarpone – but the idea of adding grated courgettes right at the beginning truly does make for a creamy risotto!

would I make it again – yes!

This recipe fed 4 adults … because the courgettes help to bulk it out!

Creamy Courgette Risotto

50g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 courgettes, (grate 2 of them & dice the third)
210g risotto rice
150ml white wine
1l stock (I use chicken stock)
Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons of butter
150g bacon pieces

  • Melt the butter large pot and fry the onion until softened
  • Add the grated courgettes & rice, stirring to coat all the pieces
  • Add the white wine and sizzle for 1-2minutes
  • Add a ladle (or two) of stock and stir
  • Reduce heat to medium and stir regularly, adding a ladle of stock at a time as it gets absorbed during the cooking process (takes approx. 20-25minutes)
  • Remove risotto from heat, add the remaining butter and a handful of parmesan cheese. Cover with a lid and leave for 5minutes.
  • In the meantime, fry the bacon & diced courgette in a frying pan until both are cooked (and bacon is crispy)
  • Serve

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Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

When I was pregnant and lacking sufficient protein inspiration – my dietician suggested roasting chickpeas and enjoying these as a snack (instead of crisps). Although I didn’t do it at the time – I did find this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (June 2016 issue supplement) and decided it was HIGH time to finally try them out!

chickpeas-1

These spicy snacks are more-ish (aka – you want to eat more…) but I probably should have left them in the oven for 5minutes more to get them super crunchy!

Would I make them again? yes… for a healthy snack, they are great – PLUS they are consider one of my 5-a-day and are vegan friendly.

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Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

400g can chickpeas
1 teaspoon sunflower or canola oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander

  • Tip the drained & washed chickpeas into a bowl along with oil and spices
  • Toss well until chickpeas are well coated
  • Place on a baking tray
  • Bake for 35min at 180C, moving them around the tray halfway to ensure they dry out evenly

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Banana upside down cinnamon cake

Our latest fruit and vegetable delivery was a bit disappointing with all the fruit at the peak of ripeness on the day of their arrival. This meant that we had to think (aka eat) quickly before items were beyond saving.

The banana’s however were well-ripe on day 3, and with 4 left on the bunch (after both of us eating one each day prior to that) – I knew that it was time to make this recipe!

banana upside down cake 1

The BBC Good Food Magazine (May 2016 issue) had a recipe for “sticky upside-down banana cake”. I made a few changes by omitting the ground ginger and using buttermilk instead of soured cream in the cake mix and all in all, it turned out pretty well. HIM happily devoured a few slices and said it reminded him a Portuguese Honey cake.

This is a DEFINITE make again kind of cake… something that I was able to whip up relatively quickly with a 10month old sitting on the floor next to me playing with plastic containers… and I had it in the oven before boredom rolled in for her!

banana upside down cake 2

Banana Upside down cinnamon cake

80g butter
150g muscovado sugar
4 bananas

240g flour
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
300g caster sugar
120g butter, softened
3 large eggs
150ml buttermilk

  • Place butter (80g) & sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat until melted & combined
  • Pour into greased cake tin
  • Cut bananas in half and arrange on top of the caramel
  • To make batter, beat together sugar and softened butter, adding eggs one at a time
  • Then add flour, baking powder, cinnamon & buttermilk and continue to mix/whisk until smooth & evenly combined
  • Pour batter over bananas
  • Bake for 50-60min at 180C

banana upside down cake 3

Banoffee Cheesecake

Today is my first day back at work… after almost 4months of maternity leave and what can I say, except that I would have loved more time with the Little Miss…  watching her grow and learn each day has filled my heart with so much love that words can not adequately describe.

So with babies on my mind… I revert back to the dessert that I made for New Years Eve… our first time celebrating as a *bigger* family and this time with two other “new” families and their little ones!

This dessert is sweet (duh!?!), easy to make and combines two of my favourite things – caramel AND banana!

I found the recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (April 2015 issue), although I omitted the cream, caramel and fresh banana topping for decoration purposes.

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Banoffee Cheesecake

200g digestive biscuits (crushed)
100g butter (melted)
4 banana’s (peeled & sliced)
150ml cream
900g cream cheese
85g icing sugar (sifted)
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
300g caramel (I used a tin of Carnation)

  • Mix crushed biscuits with melted butter and press into a greased springform tin to create a base.
  • Place in fridge to chill
  • Fry banana in a little bit of butter, remove from pan and leave to cool
  • Arrange bananas on top of biscuit base
  • To make cheesecake mix – whisk double cream until softly whipped.
  • Place cream cheese & icing sugar in a large bowl and whisk until smooth
  • Add whipped cream along with maple syrup & caramel to cream cheese mix
  • Spoon over banana/base
  • Place in fridge for at least 4 hours (or overnight) to set

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Aubergine Caprese Salad

As already mentioned… our lives have changed recently with a new arrival in the family (a gorgeous baby girl… and even though we know that we are biased about her beauty… our friends & family seem to agree with us :))

But this is also means that I am on maternity leave… and learning to live with a whole new schedule… which includes being awake around 4am…

Now most of you would be encouraging me to go back to sleep… but for some bizarre reason, I can go to sleep at the same time as her at 9pm.. and back to sleep instantly after the midnight feed… but after the 3am feed, I am normally WIDE-AWAKE… so I thought I may as well make the most of this time … right??

This does not mean that I am baking or cooking at this hour… but it does mean that I can get some writing time… and I can also go through my “must make”  recipe pile!

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I found this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (July 2013 issue) – although they called theirs “melting middles aubergine parcels” with focus on BBQ cooking & eating. The only difference to my interpretation is that after constructing the parcels – I didn’t put them back on a grill to melt the mozzarella – mostly because HIM looked at me strangely and said “But Caprese salad is eaten cold??”. (FYI – Caprese salad = mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive oil salad). And of course – I used ready-made pesto as opposed to making my own (why? Because I have a 2week old baby to look after … so short cuts are my favourite thing in the kitchen at the moment :))

This is a yummy tapas, starter, vegetarian or main meal kind of dish and would definitely be made again in our house!

aubergine caprese 1

Aubergine Caprese Salad

2 aubergine, sliced long ways
olive oil
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 mozzarella balls, drained & sliced
basil leave
ready-made pesto

  • Brush slices of aubergine with olive oil and either grill or fry them (I fried mine)
  • spread a small amount of pesto onto each cooked slice of aubergine, add a slice of tomato & a slice of mozzarella and then using a toothpick – wrap the aubergine slice around & secure
  • You can either add the basil to the wraps or on the plate
  • Season with salt/pepper to taste and a good drizzle of olive oil is an added extra!
  • Serve either warm or at room temperature with extra pesto

aubergine caprese 3

Chicken and Butter Bean Soup

The weather has started to change… days are getting shorter, colder and darker… and of course… that means that the tendency of my tummy is to crave stodgy comfort food…. and which is more comforting than a bowl of soup???

Normally – I am quite boring when it comes to soup… simple veggie that has been liquidized to be smooth… but when I saw this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (February 2014 issue) I just knew that this was the perfect soup for using up leftover chicken … and the perfect autumn/winter meal!

soup 1

I didn’t add all the herbs that the recipe called for… and I didn’t have leftover chicken … so all I did was stirfry some chicken breast pieces in soya sauce (~300g) and add this.

Would I make it again? DEFINITELY… HIM raved about it and this is actually the kind of soup that will be a regular on our menu going forward! The butter beans give the soup this really luxurious creamy taste….

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Chicken & Butter Bean Soup

1 onion
4 potatoes (peeled & chopped)
6 carrots (peeled & chopped)
1 tin (400g) of butter beans (drained)
~300g cooked chicken

  • Fry onion in a little bit of oil in a large pot (approx. 5min)
  • Add carrots & potatoes and cook for a further 5minutes
  • Add stock
  • Bring to the boil & then reduce heat to simmer for 20minutes
  • Add the beans & cooked chicken and cook for a further 10minutes
  • I removed half the solids (veg and all of the chicken) and liquidized the rest of the soup & then re-added the veg, chicken
  • Serve with a good crack of black pepper

soup 3

 

Passion fruit Mousse

I have only ever known this fruit as “granadilla” … but mentioning this to friends in Europe achieved me a few strange looks… so now I revert back to the more popular term “Passion fruit” (or passionfruit) – which is actually a type of berry that has a hard outer skin with a juicy seed filled centre (which has a somewhat tart taste).

I saw this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (June 2014 issue) in a section all about Brazilian cuisine… where they called it Maracuja (Passion fruit mousse traybake)….

Now I made some adaptions… I halved the recipe, as well as swapped out the gelatin & juice for some jelly – and I topped with fresh passion fruit seeds as opposed to a mango/passion fruit coulis.

Would I make it again? yes… easy and tasty. I would only make one change…. I would be careful to add the seeds to the jelly – as the acid caused the jelly not to set properly!

Passion Fruit Mousse

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4 passion fruits, flesh scooped out
1 packet of jelly (made to instructions but only using half the liquid)
400g can of sweetened condensed milk
250ml double cream, loosely whipped
125g digestive biscuits, crushed
50g butter, melted

  • For the base, mix the melted butter with the crushed biscuits and press firmly into the base of 6 individual serving dishes
  • Place in the fridge to chill for 30-60min
  • Add half of the flesh/seeds of the passion fruit to the condense milk and fold in cream
  • Gently stir in the jelly
  • Pour over the biscuit base
  • Chill for 2hr
  • Top with the other half of the passion fruit seeds/flesh

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Birthday Cake

Please tell me how it is possible that the days, weeks, months and even years are flying by so fast??? I am pretty sure that it was just the other day that I was looking forward to turning *28* (that secret age that all woman love)… and now I look back thinking “Was I really 28, xx number of years ago????”

Anyhoo – as an intro to birthday cake baking – this is also where I start to share that the future will probably hold more Children’s Birthday Cake creations than adult ones… so lets just sit back, relax and enjoy this adult version. (And no, an adult version doesn’t mean that there is alcohol involved… although that probably would have been a fun idea too!)

I found a recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine for a Raspberry ripple cake… and although I didn’t follow the full recipe – I did love the sponge cake portion so much that I had to use it here!

I also did my own “inspired” icing – using a combination of cream cheese, butter, cocoa & icing sugar.

Would I make again? Yes, this sponge cake recipe is a sure make-again winner for any celebration cake!

birthday cake

BIRTHDAY CAKE

300g butter
335g flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
400g caster sugar
6 large eggs (separated)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
185ml milk
80g raspberry jam (for the layers)

  • Beat butter & 300g of sugar until light & fluffy using an electric beater
  • Beat in egg yolks (one at a time)
  • Add the vanilla extract
  • In another bowl, sift flour & baking powder
  • Turn the electric down to low in the butter mixture and add a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the milk
  • Repeat
  • then add final third of flour mixture
  • Place egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk with remaining sugar to create silky soft peaks
  • Gradually fold the egg mixture in cake batter
  • Divide into 2 (or 3) greased & lined baking tins
  • Bake at 180C for 30minutes (or until a cocktail stick inserted comes out clean)
  • Leave to cool for 10minutes before removing from tin and cooling completely

I used raspberry jam to sandwich the 2 sponges together and lathered on my own icing concoction… so feel free to get creative here!

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Indian Rice Salad with Chicken

As I start to work through the pile of magazine recipe cut-outs (7years worth), I am drawn to the fact that there is so many things that I want to make… and so little time!!!!!!

This particular recipe was from the BBC Good Food Magazine (issue August 2013) & is perfect for the holiday season – when there are leftovers to be used up!!!! I adapted it slightly based on what was in my fridge – using basil leaves instead of coriander, I added a tin of peach slices which I diced up, I used mayo instead of creating a dressing & I omitted the blackbeans & pomegranate seeds.

All in all – this is definitely a great idea for clearing out the fridge!!!

Indian Rice Salad with chicken

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2 cups of uncooked rice (even better if you have leftover cooked rice!)
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon of medium curry powder
100g cashew nuts
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 chicken breast sliced (or whatever leftover fowl meat you might have!)
Fresh herbs – finely chopped
1 tin of peaches, chopped
2 Tablespoons of mayo

  • Cook rice with tumeric & curry powder
  • Rinse with cold water to cool down & drain well
  • Mix all ingredients together & serve

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Apparently this recipe can last 2-3days in the fridge … but it is so tasty, I would be surprised if it lasted that long!

Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake

After a 2week hiatus known as *tour guide sally*,*getting married* and *honeymoon*…. all of which were amazing experiences and things that I adored, it is now time to get back to reality… and this also includes updating the blog about the wonderful things that we got to taste during our experiences in Cape Town… but also some of the recipes that have been tested in the meantime.

A day after we landed back in Brussels – I hosted another Murder Mystery Dinner with Bookalokal – for 12people.

If you are anything like my friends and family and are now shouting at the screen that I am crazy for doing this almost immediately after a long haul flight… then yes, you are probably right… but a committment given needs to be upheld… and I agreed to this surprise *birthday* party concept and therefore needed to pull out all the stops!

*all the stops* included a dessert that would make them drool… and we all know that I am a huge fan of cheesecakes!

and of course, while scouring my recipe pages, I found a fantastic new cheesecake recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine (July 2013 issue) that not only looked easy but super pretty!! (I adjusted the recipe and swapped mascarpone in for the sour cream….)

Result? I got a few rave reviews…. and one person even asked whether I had REALLY made it myself! *pats self on the back* and a definite *re-make* kind of recipe!

Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake

blueberry swirl cheesecake post oven

300g digestive biscuits

140g butter, melted

275g sugar

100g blueberries

1 teaspoon cornflour

900g cream cheese

4 Tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

250g mascarpone

blueberry swirl cheesecake ingredients

  • Place biscuits into a food processor and whiz until crumbs
  • Add butter and mix well
  • Push firmly down into a greased springform tin (using a spoon to even it out)
  • blueberry swirl cheesecake base
  • Bake for 10min at 200c and then leave to cool
  • Into a pot, add 25g of sugar to the blueberries, along with the cornflour that has been mixed with a little bit of water to make a paste
  • blueberry swirl cheesecake berries
  • Bring to the boil and then simmer for a few minutes until it starts to get saucy
  • blueberry swirl cheesecake berries 2
  • Leave to cool
  • Mix cream cheese and sugar together
  • Add flour, vanilla, eggs and mascarpone and beat together until well combined
  • Pour part of the cheesecake mix into the tin on top of the biscuit layer, then drizzle some of the berry sauce on that
  • blueberry swirl cheesecake half swirl
  • pour the rest of the cheesecake mix on top of this and use the other part of berry sauce to drizzle and swirl over the top
  • blueberry swirl cheesecake pre oven
  • Bake for 10min at 200c, then reduce heat to 100C and bake for a further 30min
  • switch oven off and leave the cheesecake inside to cool
  • Refridgerate for at least 3hr or better yet, overnight (like I did!)