Author Archives: The Cooking spoon

Chocolate Dulce de Leche mini Tarts

Mini tarts filled with dulce de leche and chocolate Ganache, some caramelized nuts add a bit of crunch making this little dessert fit for a king. So simple to make and yet very big on flavour. There’s just something so cute and fun about having your own little cake or in this case mini tart. Perfect with some coffee or tea in the afternoon or as a dessert.

The pastry crust is a no-brainer and you can find the recipe here. I like to make pastry dough when I have some time to kill and pop it in the freezer so that I can make a pie at a moments notice, you should try it, it’s a game-changer.

Makes 6 small tarts or one medium 20 cm / 8 inch

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 recipe super simple pastry crust, prepared all the way.
  • 1/2 cup dark or semi sweet chocolate, chopped into pieces or chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup double cream
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche (use any leftovers for the most amazing fancy coffee with whipped cream)
  • 1/2 cup nuts of choice (pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts are good…)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Start by making the crunchy nuts.

Heat a small frying pan on the stove to medium, toast the nuts stirring constantly for about 5 minutes util golden and toasted, add the sugar and do not stir any more. You can gently swirl the pan, as soon as the sugar has dissolved and coated the nuts pour them onto a piece of parchment paper and let them cool completely before chopping up.

Heat the double cream in a small sauce pan until small bubbles start to appear, remove from heat immediately. Add the chopped chocolate and let it melt for about 5 minutes, stir to combine.

Dived the dulce de leche over the tart shells, gently top with the chocolate ganache. Place the tarts in the refrigerator to firm up and ready to serve. Just before serving, chop up the nut brittle and sprinkle over the tarts.

Enjoy!

Super simple Pastry Dough

Super simple Pastry Dough!


And when I say simple, I mean really simple and pretty much fool proof and no fail. This flaky pastry dough keeps amazing in the fridge for a few days and also in the freezer for about a month. We always have some in the freezer.
Sometimes I prepare various tins filled with dough, pop them in the freezer so I can make a pie or mini tarts at a moments notice.
What I love about this recipe is that you can use it for both sweet or savoury pies.
The most important thing with pastry is that it has to be, and stay as cold as possible at all times until it goes into the oven. When using ice water use as little as possible, a high fat content is essential in the butter you use, 80% preferably. Cut the butter in small cubes and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes while you set up your food processor and get everything ready.
After that it’s five minutes work and your done.


INGREDIENTS:

– 200 gr / 7 oz. cold butter
– 300 gr / 10 1/2 oz all purpose flour
– a pinch of salt
– about two tablespoon of ice cold water (maybe three)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Fill a glas with ice cubes and add water.
2. Cut your butter into small cubes, place them in a bowl a place this in the freezer while you get out your flour and food processor.
Measure the flour and place in the bowl of the food processor. Add all the butter, divided evenly over the flour. You want to process as little as possible and as quickly as possible.
Add the pinch of salt.
Pulse the food processor a few times until the mixture resembles sand, add the ice water one tablespoon at a time. Pulse again. To test, grab some pastry between your fingers and press together, as soon as it holds , it’s ready. Tip out on to a work surface and shape into a ball. Wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before shaping.
When ready to use, roll out the pastry to desired shape, place in tin that has been oiled slightly, pierce the pastry with a fork and place a piece of parchment paper on top. Add some baking beans. Return to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes to cool completely before baking.
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment paper and baking beans and bake for for 5 more minutes.
Now they are ready to be filled with your favourite filling, sweet or savoury.
Enjoy!

Freezer Pizza Bases

These Freezer pizza bases are so handy to have on hand, home made  pizza ready in just a few minutes, isn’t that what we all want? Just take a crust out of the freezer, heat your oven, top, and bake.

Supermarkets sell ready made crusts, but they always have the cardboard feel and taste to them so I figured if they can make them,  so can I.  Healthier,  better and cheaper. I’ve only used a small amount of yeast since this makes the Pizza’s taste better and improves the texture, also the longer rise makes a much better crust. I like to make the dough in the morning, then I let it rise until double in bulk, then I punch it down and put the dough in the fridge until ready to bake in the evening. You could make the dough in the evening and leave it to rise slowly overnight in the refrigerator, whichever suits your schedule better.

Makes 4 large/6 medium pizzas

INGREDIENTS:

1000 gr./ 6 2/3 C.  (type 00) flour
600 ml./ 2.5 C. luke warm water
15 ml./1 tbsp. honey
30 ml./2 tbsp olive oil
7 gr./2 tsp. instant yeast
20 gr./3 tsp.  salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add your warm water and stir in the honey, then sprinkle the yeast in and stir. Let sit for about five minutes until bubbly and active.
Add flour, olive oil and salt and knead for about 5 min. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about an hour or  until double in bulk.
Punch the dough down and shape into a ball and cover again, place in the refrigerator for at least five hours or until ready to use. 

Remove from the refrigerator an hour before using so the dough can come to room temperature. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Divide into 4 or 6 balls.

Pre heat oven to 220 C/430 F.

Cut 4 or 6 peaces of parchment paper large enough for each pizza.
Roll out each ball of dough on a piece of parchment paper that you have covered with some flour or semolina.
Spread with tomato sauce and bake each base for about 5 minutes or until just firm.
Remove from oven and let cool on a rack before freezing (I freeze them with the parchment paper as extra protection). 

Once they are completely frozen,  place them in a zip lock bag or wrap them in cling film. Keep in the freezer until ready to use. They will keep for at least a month.
When ready to use, remove from freezer and top with your favorite ingredients,  bake at 220 C/430 F for 12 to 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Köfte with Tahini Yogurt sauce

Köfte

Köfte are Middle Eastern sausage-shaped meatballs, often grilled on a stick. They can be made from either ground lamb, beef, or a combination.They’re perfect for the barbecue, or can be fried in the pan or even baked in the oven. This recipe is simple and delicious and all it needs is a salad and good flatbread.

You can watch a quick video here

INGREDIENTS:

Köfte:

500 gr minced Beef
1 small onion, grated about 1/4 cup
1 clove garlic,  grated
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp dried parsley or 1 tbsp fresh
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp all spice
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg

Tahini Yoghurt sauce:

1 cup (greek style)Yoghurt
Squeeze of lemonbjui
1 tbsp. Tahini
1/2 tsp dried garlic and 1 tsp dried onion powder
Salt & pepper

Flatbread to serve.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine all ingredients for the Köfte in a bowl and mix until evenly combined. Shape the meat mixture into sausage shaped meatballs, wetting your hands as necessary to prevent sticking. At this point you can also form the meat around skewers about 4 1/2 inches long. To secure the meat on the skewer, open and close your fingers along it, moving up and down the skewer and flattening the meat. Refrigerate the skewers until you are ready to grill.
Otherwise heat a frying pan to medium hot and  cook the Köfte for about 5 minutes until cooked thru.  Mix the ingredients for the Tahini sauce. Serve over flatbread with a salad, yogurt, and plenty of sauce. Enjoy!

Cakey Sweet Potato Brownies

Let’s have a chat about these Brownies, these super soft and cakey Brownies.

They’re so unbelievably good that I don’t even know where to start. I’m not kidding either, they taste like Chocolate Birthday cake, and that’s not even my own comment. Someone actually said that while eating one of these babies. Very soft and chocolaty and pure indulgence. But…the most amazing part is that they are fat free, and I made them sugar free too. I have made them at least 9 or 10 times the past month and we just can’t get enough of them. I honestly don’t know what magic happens when you put sweet potato mash in a brownie recipe but believe me, it’s real magic.
I microwave a medium sweet potato in the morning (after piercing it with a skewer a few times) and forget about it until I am ready to bake. You could even do this the night before. For a video click here.
Then you mash the peeled sweet potato and add it to the batter, instead of butter. If you don’t want to bake with Stevia you can omit the applesauce and Stevia and substitute it for 1/4 to 1/3 cup Maple syrup or regular sugar.

INGREDIENTS:

2 eggs
1/4 cup apple sauce * see note
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
2 tsp. liquid Stevia extract * see note
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup small chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS


Pre heat the oven to 180C/350F
Line a square tin 20x20cm/8″x8″ with baking parchment and oil lightly.
Pierce the medium sized sweet potato a few times with a skewer and microwave on high for about 3 minutes, turn the potato over and microwave for 2 to 3 more minutes until soft.
I always place the potato on a folded paper kitchen towel.
Let cool completely, remove the skin and mash.
In a bowl beat the two eggs, add the yoghurt, the apple sauce, stevia, vanilla and mix until combined. Add the sweet potato mash and mix well. Now add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. You’ll notice the batter is quite thick, but spongy, this is good.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and place on a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer to see if the brownies are done.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting into 9 squares.
These are best kept in the refrigerator if not eaten the same day. I have roughly calculated the calories in one square and they are about 100 calories each. Awesome right? If you make them with maple syrup or sugar they will be a bit more, but still very OK.

Enjoy!

  • NOTE: omit the applesauce and Stevia and substitute it for 1/4-1/3 cup Maple syrup.

Cod and Shrimp in a Lemon cream sauce

This recipe for Cod and Shrimp in a lemon cream sauce is probably the easiest recipe on the blog. The seafood is baked in a delicious cream sauce in the oven, so there’s barely any hands-on time involved, and the result is a melt in your mouth dinner, that even your most demanding guests will love.
You can serve it with anything you like,  such as rice, pasta or French bread to mop up the amazing sauce and a nice salad on the side or your favorite veggies.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 x medium white fish fillets (cod, tilapia , hake etc…)
  • 1 cup clean peeled shrimp
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill or 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives or 1 tsp dried chives
  • 1 tbsp capers (optional)
  • Salt & pepper
  • butter for baking dish
  • 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs or one to two tbsp. dried
  • some olive oil or melted butter for drizzling over breadcrumbs
  • Fresh parsley or chives and lemon wedges, to  serve

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 200C / 400F

Season fish and shrimp with salt and pepper on both sides and place in a butter baking dish, add the capers if using.

Place cream, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, wine, dill, chives, salt and pepper in a small pan and bring to a very low simmer, until smooth. Pour sauce over fish and shrimp. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and drizzle with a teaspoon or two of olive oil or butter.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until fish is just cooked. Remove from oven.
Scatter some Parsley or chives over the fish and serve straight away.
Serve with rice, pasta or bread and a vegetable of choice.

Enjoy.

Olive oil Zucchini Banana Bread with chocolate chips

Olive oil Zucchini Banana Bread with chocolate chips

Shredded zucchini and mashed banana work perfectly together and ensure that this nutritious loaf stays nice and moist. The banana adds sweetness so there is no need to add too much sugar.
It’s the best of all quick breads if you ask me. With the added chocolate chips to make it a real treat. Lightly sweet and perfectly fluffy and moist, and very healthy too.


INGREDIENTS:

WET
• 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
• 2 large eggs
• 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1/3 cup mild olive oil
• 2 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cup grated zucchini, don’t pack to measure, instead fit loosely in the cup. (about 1 medium/large zucchini) SEE NOTE about drying zucchini*


DRY
• 1 cup oat flour, made by simply grinding oats in a food processor
• 1 cup brown rice flour or whole wheat all purpose flour
• 2 teaspoon baking powder
• pinch salt
• 1/2 cup chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS:


1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Spray one 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add the the first six ingredients and whisk to combine.
3. In another bowl combine the flours, baking powder and salt, stir in the grated zucchini. Add the wet ingredients, and stir with a spatula, now add the chocolate chips and stir thru.
4. Turn batter out into the prepared pan , smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.


5. Bake for about 55 minutes or until the top is golden, the center is set, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Allow bread to cool in pan for about 15 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Note – place grated zucchini on a clean kitchen towel and roll it up, wring out as much moist as you can.

Enjoy!

Greek Steak Souvlaki with Feta and Cucumber Pomegranate salsa

Now that summer is here I can’t wait to get the Bbq on, and these Steak Souvlaki skewers are perfect for grilling. Tender pieces of Beef are marinated for a few hours with Greek herbs and spices. The marinade is so amazing that you can use it on any kind of meat. The red wine vinegar is a key ingredient as it tenderizes the meat and gives the dish that typical Greek flavour.  
The smell when the beef is grilling is insane – you can really smell the oregano and it’s almost as if your in a Greek Tavern, (with a bit of imagination and perhaps a glass of Retsina in your hand).   If you ever go to Greece make sure to bring back some Oregano, they sell it dried in bushes and it’s the best you’ll ever find.

Serves: 4 – 6

INGREDIENTS:

• 2 lb / 1 kg beef (steak), thinly sliced
Marinade
• 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and grated
• 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
• 1 tsp. smoked paprika
• 1½ tbsp dried oregano
• a pinch of cinnamon
• a pinch of ground cloves
• a pinch of dry mint
• 1/2 tsp dry chili flakes
• salt and pepper


Cucumber Pomegranate Salsa:
• 1 large beef tomato, de-seeded and diced
• 1 cucumber, peeled, de=seeded and diced
• 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
• 1/2 red spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped
• a pinch of sugar
• salt and pepper
• a drizzle of olive oil
• a little squeeze of lemon juice
• 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
• 1/2 tsp.dry mint
• 1/2 tsp. dry oregano


To serve:
• 4 – 6 Pitas or baguette
• extra lettuce
• more Feta to crumble on top

INSTRUCTIONS:


1. Place the Marinade ingredients and the beef in a ziplock bag and massage to mix. Marinate for at least 2 hours or up to 6. Remove from marinade and skewer on to wooden or metal pins alternating with pepper and onion pieces.
Salsa
1. Combine ingredients in a bowl.
Cook Beef
1. Heat a griddle pan over high heat.
2. Cook the skewers on high for a few minutes until crispy and brown then turn them over and cook for an other two minutes.
3. Remove and serve straight away. Serve with lots of Pita or Baguette

Enjoy!


Strawberry Ice Cream Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches (vegan)

 

These Strawberry Ice Cream Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches are a great (weekend) project, fun to make and sooo delicious to eat. The kids will love helping you make them. You can assemble them completely ahead of time and keep them in the freezer, ready to eat at any time. The combination of chewy chocolate cookies and the fresh strawberry ice cream is the best ever. 


Prep time : Cookies, 15 minutes plus baking. Ice cream, 10 minutes plus freezing
Cooking time: 12 minutes
Makes : 6 (large) Sandwiches

INGREDIENTS STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM;

• 300 grs / 10.5 oz , about 1 1/2 cups (frozen )Strawberries, hulled
• 4 tbsp. Agave Syrup or according to taste
• 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
• 1 tbsp. tapioca flour* (see notes)
• 1 cup Soy or Oat whipping cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Freeze the strawberries the night before if you are using fresh ones.
2. Put the strawberries with the agave syrup, the tapioca and vanilla in a blender and blend until very smooth.
3. Whip the soy cream until stiff peaks form and fold the strawberries thru the whipped cream.
4. Place in an ice cream maker or in a container in the freezer. If you freeze it in a container you need to whip it after about two hours to avoid crystallization. Freeze preferably over night, but it should be frozen after about 4 to 6 hours depending on your freezer. 

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES:
WET INGREDIENTS;
• 1 tbsp ground flax plus 1 tsp. tapioca flour, plus 3 tbsp. water mixed
• 1/2 C. solid coconut oil/fat
• 3/4 C. coconut sugar
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
DRY INGREDIENTS;
• 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. (gluten free) flour 
• 1/4 C. cocoa
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. pink Himalaya salt
• 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
• 1/2 C. mini vegan chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Start by soaking the flax/tapioca mix and let stand for about 10 minutes while you prepare the rest.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
3. In an other bowl, mix the wet ingredients and combine with the dry.
4. At this point I like to place the cookie dough on a piece of parchment paper and roll it into a cylinder.
5. Then I place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours or if you are in a hurry in the freezer for half an hour.
6. This will give you the perfect cookie consistency when baking. They dough needs to be really cold!!!
7. Then when you’re ready to bake, pre heat the oven to 175° C / 350° F
8. Shape dough into balls and press them a little flat with your hand. Lay them onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
9. Bake for 12 minutes.
10. The cookies may look a little soft still but they will continue to cook on the baking sheet as thy cool. 
11. When you take them out of the oven, immediately press on a few more chocolate chips, for prettiness. And because it’s so darn delicious!
12. Let cool completely. I keep mine in the refrigerator because I love how they become chewy.
13. To make the ice cream sandwich, take two cookies. Scoop out one big ball of strawberry ice cream*(see notes) and place it on one cookie. Gently press down with a spoon first and then place the second cookie on top being careful not to break.
14. Press the sandwiches in some sprinkles if you like.

Notes: 

1). Seeing tapioca as an ice cream ingredient may seem odd  at first, but it actually makes the ice cream so much creamier. 

2). I scooped the ice cream balls ahead of time and placed them in a container and back into the freezer until I was ready to “build” the sandwiches.

Enjoy!

Parpadelle Puttanesca with Lemon Pangrattato and fried Halloumi

Parpadelle Puttanesca with Lemon Pangrattato and fried Halloumi

This is one of our favourite Summer dishes. It’s easy, quick to make and FULL of flavour. Thick noodles covered in Puttanesca sauce,topped with fried Halloumi and sprinkled with a generous amount of lemony Pangrattato. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples.

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time total: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Pangrattato

  • 1/4 cup  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup  fresh breadcrumbs made from stale bread if you have it, otherwise fresh is fine
  • 2 tbsp. thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Pasta Puttanesca

  • 16 oz. 400g Parpadelle or Fettucine
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. green olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 c. capers
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

To make the pangrattato;
Heat  1/4 cup  oil in a pan to medium heat and cook the breadcrumbs until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes . Remove from pan and stir through the lemon zest, thyme and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Start boiling water in a large pot (don’t forget to add a generous amount of salt once boiling) while you make the Puttanesca sauce. Also slice Halloumi and drain on kitchen paper.
Heat a large frying pan and add the 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, the 3 cloves of smashed garlic, the 4 anchovy fillets, stir for a minute or two until fragrant. Then add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes until tomatoes are soft.
Heat a non stick frying pan to medium high heat and fry the Halloumi, cooking it on both sides until very golden brown.
Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the water, and return the pasta to the pan. Add the Puttanesca tomato sauce, parsley and enough reserved water to loosen and toss to combine.
Place Pasta in a large serving dish, top with Halloumi and sprinkle with  the Pangrattato. Serve straight away.
Enjoy!
Need more pasta inspiration?