I think I am going through a coconut phase. I simply can’t seem to get enough of it. Whether it is coconut milk, cream or oil, I somehow end up throwing it in practically all of my dishes, from savory curries to sugary desserts.
Oh yes, I am going coconuts. (Pardon the silly word play.)
One of the reasons for my coconut phase is my desire for hot and sunny weather. I even think this droopy winter has made me a bit bonkers in the head, because I honestly keep having day dreams about bounty white beaches, waving palm trees and hot dudes stepping out of the sea in tight speedo shorts…
Wait, where was I?
Oh yeah, coconut.
This time I decided to use desiccated coconut in a lusciously exotic cake that is totally reminiscent of summer, hot and steamy weather and cocktail parties. The coconut gives this cake a sweet aroma but is not too overpowering and works wonders in combination with the zingy lime. The virgin white sponge is dotted with bright spots of gorgeously juicy mango and last but not least, there is a gin syrup to transport you to one of those sunny Caribbean beaches.
Summer may still be a couple of months away, but at least I have this cake to keep me warm until it arrives.
170gr self-rising flour
55gr desiccated coconut
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
Zest of half a lime
Juice of one lime
80gr caster sugar
30gr soy spread
165gr Greek Yoghurt
2 tbsp soy milk
¾ mango, diced
For the gin syrup:
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire Gin East)
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a cake tin with baking parchment.
Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl and make a well in the middle.
Lightly mix together the soy spread (or butter), yoghurt, egg and milk and pour into the well.
Mix vigorously using all the arm muscles you’ve got but don’t beat the mixture for too long, otherwise you will get a tough dough.
Stir in the juice and zest of lime and the diced mango.
Pour the mixture into your baking tin and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Once your cake comes out of the oven, quickly heat the gin with sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Now pour the syrup over the hot cake and let it soak up all the delicious booziness.
Some ignorant idiots still believe that healthy food means compromising on delicious flavours and unforgettable taste. They frown when they hear the word quinoa and go running up the hills out of utter fear when they are served something vegan.
Like I said: ignorant idiots.
Because let me set one thing straight: healthy(or vegan )food is super tasty. To prove my point, I conjured up this mouth-watering vegan dish that truly made my heart sing and my taste buds dance. The Eryngii mushrooms are marinated in ketchup, tandoori powder, soy and palm sugar, to give them a sticky sweet and spicy flavour. I kept my stir-fried vegetables rather simple. Just some teeny weensy bit of soy sauce and lots of garlic and red chillies. These crunchy flavour bombs were ready in just a couple of minutes, so if you are in hurry, these are the veggies you want to make!
And last but not least: the red quinoa. Quinoa is often called a “superfood”, because it contains lots of protein and fiber and is rich in magnesium and iron. Furthermore, it even contains calcium (which makes it ideal for vegans) and it is gluten-free. In short, a superfood for all us superwomen! There are different types of quinoa and as you can see I opted for the red variety, which is slightly earthier in flavour.
So combine the earthy quinoa with the sticky sweetness of the mushrooms and the crunchy, fragrant vegetables and you’ve got a vegan meal that totally blows your socks off! ;)
Ingredients (serves 3)
For the quinoa:
250gr red quinoa
Pinch of tandoori powder
For the vegetables
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 red chilies, finely chopped
1 pak choi, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
250gr bean sprouts
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
Freshly chopped coriander (optional)
For the mushrooms:
6 eryngii mushrooms (or any type of mushrooms), cut into slices
2 tbsp ketchup
½ tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp tandoori powder
Cook the red quinoa in double the amount of vegetable stock for about 20 minutes until tender and the quinoa has absorbed all the stock. (Stir in some tandoori powder for some extra flavour if you want.)
Mix the ingredients for the marinade together in a bowl and brush the eryngii generously with the marinade. Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms until the marinade starts to caramelize and the mushrooms are tender.
For the vegetables, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok and add the garlic and chilli. Add the pak choi and peppers and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the mirin and soy sauce and season to taste. Finally stir in the bean sprouts and some extra coriander.
With May just around the corner, I am probably not the only one who has already spent vast amounts of money on the hottest trends of this Spring. A Pleated skirt, a pink bag, some floral prints,… Just a couple more items to go and I’ve got all the clothes on my Spring wish list. However, now that I’ve got the skirt, the bag and the print, it’s time to think about what goes underneath.
Yes, I’m talking about some fabulously feminine lingerie. Because what’s the point of buying an entirely new spring wardrobe, when the fabric closest to your skin does not ooze the same summery elegance?
Go for soft pastel hues for the ultimate Springtime experience. (I mean, just imagine how fabulous your ass would look in some delicate cotton candy coloured panties! )
Here are a couple of my favourite sets :
Agent Provocateur: pretty pink
Marie Jo: passionate pistachio
La Perla: lovely lace
Stella McCartney: seriously sexy
And my absolute favourite, Andres Sarda: fabulously flirty
So my message to you ladies: before you spend all your money on clothes, think about what goes underneath instead. You can thank me later ;)
Blueberries and lemon. It is probably the most classic baking combination on the planet. Blueberries and lemon are simply inseparable. Just like Angelina and Brad. Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Or Rihanna and freaky Instagram pictures.
You get my point. Blueberries and lemon are the epitome of classic baking combos. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with traditional bakes – hell, I adore a good blueberry and lemon muffin!- it is not exactly the most exciting thing in the world, is it?
Since we are in a festive mood this weekend, I thought I would try to lift the classic blueberry and lemon combo to unseen heights. I wanted to make a cake that would end the Easter weekend with a bang. An explosion of flavours. An edible Easter bomb.
So to shake things up, I used the world famous Italian Limoncello instead of lemon juice. It gave the cake more depth and a surprising boozy kick. I think Jezus would have appreciated that. Furthermore, I added some extra raspberries to create the ultimate Easter colour palate. And if you thought things couldn’t get any more brilliant, I added some Greek Yoghurt to the cake batter to make the sponge extra moist.
To make sure the cake would turn out perfectly, I based my recipe on one of Lorraine Pascale’s recipes from her “A Lighter Way to Bake” cook book and tweaked it a little bit to make it more “me”.
125gr caster sugar
100gr Greek Yoghurt
100gr soy spread (or regular butter)
250gr self-rising flour
2 tsp baking powder
Zest of a lemon
1 tsp limoncello
4 egg whites
For the limoncello glaze:
3 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp limoncello
Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a loose-bottomed baking tin with baking parchment.
Mix together the butter, yoghurt and sugar until you get a smooth consistency.
Add the two whole eggs and half the flour and mix for a minute until combined.
Whisk the egg whites until light and frothy. Fold half of the beaten egg whites into the cake batter, followed by the other half of the flour, the baking powder and lemon zest.
Now add the remaining egg whites and stir in half of the berries and the limoncello.
Pour the batter into the tin and drop the other berries on top of the batter.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
Once the cake is completely cool, make your glaze. Mix together the icing sugar and limoncello in a small bowl until you get a runny texture. Drizzle the glaze on top of the cake.
On this beautiful sunny day I think it is best to shut up for once and let some poetry do the talking. I am a huge EE Cummings fan and am often left bewildered by his astonishingly beautiful absurdity. The following poem truly captures the spirit of spring and the rhythm of these sexy vegetarian dishes. It is full of life. Full of love. Full of joy.
“sweet spring is your time is my time is our time for springtime is lovetime and viva sweet love
(all the merry little birds are flying in the floating in the very spirits singing in are winging in the blossoming)
lovers go and lovers come awandering awondering but any two are perfectly alone there’s nobody else alive
(such a sky and such a sun i never knew and neither did you and everybody never breathed quite so many kinds of yes)
not a tree can count his leaves each herself by opening but shining who by thousands mean only one amazing thing
(secretly adoring shyly tiny winging darting floating merry in the blossoming always joyful selves are singing)
sweet spring is your time is my time is our time for springtime is lovetime and viva sweet love”
I couldn’t possibly give you a better introduction to the recipes myself.
So please, enjoy!
Feta, Pea and Mint Quiche
This wonderful quiche is a celebration of spring flavours. The sweetness of the peas dances a classic waltz with the fresh mint and together they rumba sensually with the sharpness of the feta cheese. Perfect for a springtime brunch!
One sheet of short crust pastry
400gr frozen peas
5 tbsp freshly chopped mint
1 tsp cumin
300gr feta cheese, cut into chunks
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Blind bake the short crust pastry in a lined pie case for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the peas in salted water until just tender. Mash the peas together with some olive oil, pepper, salt and ground cumin and stir in the chopped mint leaves.
Once your pastry comes out of the oven, spread the pea “pesto” on the bottom of your pastry case. Now put the feta cheese on top in any kind of pattern you fancy.
Mix the eggs with the milk and salt and pepper and pour over the filling of your quiche.
Put in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
Exotic White Asparagus Omelet
White asparagus are a true delicacy this time of year and are often referred to as “white gold”. Although that last part might be a bit exaggerated, I do want to stress that white asparagus are divinely delicious. Traditionally they are served with a hollandaise sauce, eggs or smoked salmon, but as you all know, I like to think outside the box and wanted to try something different with these beauties. I made an exotic omelet with them. That earthy flavour of the asparagus went wonderfully well with the coconut, chili, lime and curry in the egg batter. It may seems strange at first, but trust me when I say that this tropical version is to die for.
Ingredients (serves 1)
6-8 white asparagus, peeled and cleaned
1 tbsp fresh coriander
1 tbsp fresh mint
1 tbsp sesame seed, toasted
½ tsp curry powder
½ chili pepper, finely chopped
Zest of half a lime
1 tbsp grated coconut
Steam the asparagus until just al dente.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs with all the other herbs and spices and season with salt and pepper.
Heat a knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the asparagus for a minutes. Now pour in your egg batter and let the omelet fry on a medium heat until just set.
Finally, sprinkle on some extra sesame seeds and finish with a good squeeze of lime juice. Delish!
The skort: part skirt, part shorts and nowadays hotter than hot in fashion land. Admittedly, the first skorts gained my attention when they started appearing on fashion blogs as early as last year’s summer, but they only managed to get my approval a couple of weeks ago when I bought one myself.
There were a couple of reasons behind my initial reluctance to buy a skort. The first one is obvious: that horrible name. Skort. It sounds like one of those ergonomic chairs from Ikea. Or the sound a choking patient makes when a handsome Grey’s Anatomy doctor performs the Heimlich maneuver on him…
You get my point. It’s not very sexy, the name skort.
And then there is the second main reason for my initial aversion: childhood memories. I remember when I was about ten years old, my mom used to dress me in a skort for school. I can still remember this lilac bermuda shorts (ouch!) with purple floral prints (double ouch!) with an apron-looking piece of fabric hanging in the front (triple ouch!). Basically, I looked like a flower-power girly version of Sweeney Todd. Not exactly the epitome of style and grace.
So no. The skort was never on my wish list. Until I noticed that the new stylishly tweaked version of the skort looked actually really elegant. And edgy. And fashionable.
My favourite skort type is the one with an asymmetric kimono-style skirt in the front, because it breathes elegance and avant-garde chic. And at the same time, you can ride a bike or sit cross-legged in the grass without having to worry about flashing your lace panties at innocent by-standers! ;)
What do you think, dear readers?
Pretty nice, huh?
So let’s forget the horrible name and the horrible childhood memories and embrace the awesomeness of the modern-day version of the skort! You will not regret it!
Some use a knife and fork, some use a spoon and some use chopsticks, but the best way by far to enjoy a dish, is if you can eat it with an edible spoon. This awesome Middle Eastern Flatbread is one of those edible eating utensils that make any other type of cutlery seem superfluous. Maneesh is a super easy, deliciously comforting flat bread topped with Za’atar (or other seeds and dried herbs you like) and is the perfect accompaniment to a mezze. Whether you’ve made some hummus, baba ganoush or a spicy harissa-yoghurt dip, everything will taste divine on this homemade bread.
I’m not an expert in the art of baking bread, but I can honestly say that this Maneesh recipe (adapted from baking God Paul Hollywood) is absolutely foolproof. The dough doesn’t need too long to proof, baking it into the oven requires only 15 minutes but transforms the house into a Middle Eastern Walhalla and eating it is even more gratifying. Soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside and the aroma of spice as the ultimate cherry on the cake. (Or in this case “the topping on the bread”)
So gather around some delicious dips, salted olives, refreshing salads, crumbly cheese and some friends to share it with, and start dunking your Maneesh!
You don’t even have to sit at a table. The only thing you need to start your dinner party are your fingers and your maneesh (and maybe possibly some napkins ;) )
Ingredients (makes 4 flatbreads)
500gr strong white flour
25gr caster sugar
10gr instant yeast
20ml olive oil
360ml tepid water
For the topping:
2 tbsp za’atar
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp oregano
Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the olive oil and 250ml of water. Mix the ingredients together with your fingers. Gradually add the remaining water until all the flour has come away from the sides of the bowl and you have a soft dough.
Pour a little oil onto your work top. Place the dough on top and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough will be wet in the beginning (that’s completely normal so don’t panic!) but will form a smooth dough once kneaded.
Place into a clean oiled bowl, cover and leave to double in size. (This will take approx.. 1-2 hours.)
Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.
Tip the dough onto an oiled work top. Knock the dough back until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Split the dough into four and roll into large circles/ squares/ whatever shape seems suitable.
Mix the topping ingredients with a little olive oil until you have a thick paste and spread the topping over each of the breads.
Place onto the lined baking trays and leave to rest for another 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 230°C.
Bake in the oven for approx. 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.