spice

All posts tagged spice

Probably the ugliest dessert ever, but damn it’s tasty! A heavenly ugly chocolate-pear-ginger mug cake in only 3 minutes

Published August 20, 2013 by The Feminist

Thank you, Mr. Microwave, for I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks to you, I have now discovered the most dangerous cake in the world: a cake that only requires 3 minutes of my so precious time, is ridiculously easy to make and is even more lethal to eat. Lord have mercy on my soul.

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It looks disgusting, I know. All dark and droopy with some of the dough dripping over the side of the mug, but believe me when I say that what this dessert lacks in presentation, it makes up for in taste! This chocolate mug cake is the perfect savior for those in need of a bit of comfort. Whether you’re looking for a afternoon treat or a late night delight, this heaven-sent recipe can be whipped up in a heartbeat! The warm and intense flavour of the cake will fill your soul with glee and I just know this microwave chocolate cake recipe will become your best friend next winter. What better way to tackle those cold winter months than with a cupful of chocolaty bliss?

I for one couldn’t wait that long and decided to give this recipe a go on a very bright and sunny summer’s day. When it comes to desserts, seasons don’t matter. The only thing that matters is that undeniable urge to satisfy your sweet tooth.

So if you, like me, can’t wait until the weather gets cold, here is the basic chocolate microwave mug cake:

• 4 tbsp plain flour
• 4 tbsp sugar
• 4 tbsp cocoa powder
• 1 egg
• 3 tbsp of milk
• 3 tbsp oil
• Handful of chocolate chips

Method:
1. Mix the dry ingredients together.
2. Mix the wet ingredients together.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix.
4. Microwave for 2 minutes.
5. Tadaa!

Now, we all know that I’m not exactly an advocate of plain and simple cooking. So in an attempt to stay true to my inner experimental culinary genius, I wanted to jazz this recipe up with some additional flavourings and ingredients. I came up with this –if I may say so myself- brilliant chocolate, pear and ginger cake. The chocolate batter was flavoured with candied ginger to give it that zingy and spicy taste (Do I hear some gasps of utter amazement out there?) and the pear was poached in ginger and lemon tea, spiced with cinnamon, cardamom and star anise (What is that you say? …Oh stop it! You’re making my blush!)

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It looked absolutely awful!

But it tasted divine!
Proving once again, that inner beauty is much more important than a tidy appearance.

For my chocolate, pear and ginger mug cake you will need the same ingredients as the basic mug cake but I would suggest to divide everything by two, because otherwise this will be a gigantic dessert! And remember, you still have to put a poached pear on top of your batter so you’ve got to make sure your mug is big enough 😉

For the poached pear:
• 1 pear, peeled, cored and hollowed
• 1 tea bag of Twining’s ginger&lemon tea (my favourite!)
• 3 cardamom pods, crushed
• Cinnamon stick
• One star anise

Method:

1. Bring some water to the boil in a small saucepan. Add the spices and tea bag.
2. Poach the pear for about 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of your pear.

When everything comes together in blissful harmony:

1. Make your chocolate batter but instead of the handful of chocolate chips, use 1 tsp of chopped candied ginger.
2. Pour your chocolate mixture into the mug and put the poached pear on top.
3. Put in the microwave for 2 minutes.
4. Enjoy its delicious ugliness!

The Jewel in my Kitchen Desert: Saffron and almond cake with an apricot and rose glaze

Published July 1, 2013 by The Feminist

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There is something truly magical about saffron. Its almost hallucinatory aromatic scent sweeps me away in an Arabian daydream and that vibrant yellow-orange colour almost seems like edible gold.

Every time I cook with this mysterious spice, it feels as if I’m preparing food for the Gods. I know this sounds silly (really really silly) but I can’t help but feel bewitched by its mystical background and utterly gorgeous perfume. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I honestly believe that every foodie on this planet is nodding in complete agreement right now.

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See?

All of us foodies know that –since we’re all so very accomplished  in the kitchen- saffron is not only a brilliant spice to cook with, it is unfortunately (ridiculously) expensive. Saffron is like the Ferrari of spice, turning all other aromas into drab Volvos.( No offence to all Volvo drivers out there, though 😉 )

So what better way to honour saffron’s star status than by adding it to a super luscious cake batter? I think it goes without saying that I treasured this saffron cake like they were a new pair of Manolo Blahniks. A cake that even surpasses the magic of a “regular” saffron cake (although one could never call saffron regular) by oomphing up the recipe with the hypnotising aroma of rose water. This cake is not just a dessert, it’s an entire collection of Arabian fairy tales, all baked into one beautifully decadent expression of mind-wandering hysteria.

So be prepared, because this cake will cast a spell over you and you will never be able to lift it off (But you won’t want to, I promise!)

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Saffron and almond cake with apricot and rose glaze

Ingredients

For the cake:
• 100gr butter
• 150gr caster sugar
• 125gr ground almonds
• 2 eggs
• 50gr plain flour
• Pinch of salt
• ¼ tsp saffron powder
• 50gr chopped dried apricots

For the glaze:
• 50gr apricot jam
• 1 tsp rose water
• Almond flakes

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a bundt-cake tin.
2. Mix together the sugar, butter and saffron on a low speed.
3. Add the eggs and mix through. (Try not to overwork the mixture. The best part of this recipe is that you simply have to throw it all together without much of a fuss. 😉 )
4. Sift in the almonds, flour and salt and mix until the mixture is completely smooth.
5. Stir through the chopped apricots.
6. Pour the batter into your cake tin and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
7. Leave the cake to cool down completely in the tin before you remove it.
8. While the cake is cooling, add the jam and rose water together in a small saucepan and heat on a low heat. Spread the mixture generously on top of the cake and garnish with almond flakes.

The Wonder of Building Things: Aubergine Stack with a Difference

Published June 29, 2013 by The Feminist

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If you think about it, life is the continual process of building things. We build relationships, friendships, careers and confidence. We build love. We build life. Brick by brick and day by day. Sometimes it all crumbles down, leaving us scarred and bruised, but with the promise and opportunity to start all over and build something even better -even higher – than before. Sometimes we just keep building higher and higher, blinded by a compulsive necessity to always want more, until we realize we’ve built something so gigantic it is practically impossible for others to look over and beyond this wall of pompousness, leaving us all alone and small.

Whether we build with our hands, our words, our acts or simply with the toolbox hidden on the top shelf of our garage: Building is life’s vicious cycle. It is both loved and feared, for our need of building things goes hand in hand with the fear of falling. Failure. It is vertigo beyond compare, higher than the Kilimanjaro and Mount Everest combined. Failure leaves us dizzy and numb but when we finally find the courage to take the leap, to jump… we’re able to fly!

Anyway, enough with this spiritual, semi- poetic mumbo jumbo! Time to act! Time to cook! And inspired by all that’s been said above, I decided to build. Build with aubergine! It’s not really life changing, but it sure was delicious!

This aubergine stack is filled with a powerful maftoul mix, giving the whole dish a perfumed aroma of North African spice. This stack is lovely as a starter, or if you want to eat it as a main course, serve with a lovely salad (or just eat multiple stacks 😉 )

Aubergine stack with maftoul filling

Ingredients (serves 1-2 main course or 2-3 starters)
• 1 large aubergine
• 2 tbsp honey
• 1 tsp harissa
• 1 clove of garlic
• 2 spring onions
• 1 tbsp chopped candied lemon peel
• 1 tbsp chopped dried cranberries
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp paprika
• ½ tsp ground coriander
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
• 80gr maftoul
• 50gr cottage cheese or Greek yoghurt

Method:

1. Cut the aubergines in 0,5 cm slices. Mix together in a small bowl the honey, harissa and a pinch of salt and pepper. Brush the aubergine slices generously with this sweet and spicy paste on both sides.
2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the slices for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the aubergine slices to an oven-proof dish and bake for a further 5 minutes in a preheated oven at 180°C.
3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan you used to cook your aubergines in. Add the chopped garlic and sauté on low heat. Add the maftoul and all the spices and let them toast for a couple of minutes until the spices start to release their lovely scent.
4. Add the lemon peel and cranberries and add some boiling water to the maftoul mixture. ( approx. 1,6 dl of water)
5. Let it simmer until the maftoul has absorbed all the water and is cooked through. (If necessary, add some extra water if the maftoul isn’t cooked enough)
6. Season the maftoul with salt and stir the through the finely chopped spring onions and mint.
7. Build your stack!
8. Finish your brilliant tower with a good dollop of cottage cheese or Greek yoghurt to balance the spiciness of the dish.