In a breakfast state of mind…

menu - Copy (2)We are already into March and here I am writing my first post for this year. It has been a busy few months… along with the usual suspects of work, six year old starting school after the Christmas break etc. etc. I have just taken up an exciting new project, and the icing on this cake is that it has something (if not everything) to do with food! More on that later.

Let’s talk breakfast first.

It would be an understatement to say that it’s my favourite meal of the day, although it’s a rare, twice-in-a-week indulgence. On weekdays it’s just eggs on toast, a Sri Lankan hopper (a rice pancake) or the extra bits and bobs from my son’s packed school lunch, and not being the punctual type I’m always running out of time (I’m a bit of a night owl, though it may contradict my obsession with breakfast), so these are just wolfed down along with my morning coffee.

Picture2A few weekends ago, my husband and I and our six year old popped by the Creekside café by the Dubai creek for breakfast. The café does not talk much about their food – their focus is more on creating a cultural hub of sorts for tourists and residents alike, basically anyone who would like to get a taste of the arts, culture, music and such likes, in a very contemporary yet traditional setting.  I usually don’t write about restaurants I eat at (I might also add that we paid for our meal) but the food there was so good that I just had to gush about it somewhere (and I don’t seem to be the only one in love with Creekside café, check out this wonderful review by IshitaUnblogged  which appeared in her Hidden Gems of Dubai series).

Perched right along the bank flanking the busy creek, the café blends in so well with the surrounding buildings of old Dubai with stone washed walls and a massive wooden brass studded door which is kept open with the help of what looked like an old gas-cylinder-turned-door-stopper. Huge umbrellas and rickety metal chairs and tables are set up outside, the setting reminiscent of a street side café in Paris, and a couple of waiters in black aprons and big smiles wait at the doorsteps to take in the orders.

IMG_6600You need to park your car and walk a few kilometres through the labyrinth of the Dubai souk to get to the café – a walk I would not complain about – the quaint little shops selling rainbow pashminas, spices and Turkish lamps lining the sides of the narrow lanes are a real feast for the senses. Having been living in Dubai for over nine years, it’s a pity I rarely visit this part of town….to think what I’ve been missing!

DSC_2875IMG_6628IMG_6686IMG_6661The glorious weather and the equally glorious (if not better) view prompted us to sit outside. There was a cold wind blowing but the English breakfast tea we ordered came to the rescue, and pretty fast too. It was just wonderful to sit there holding warm cups of tea in our hands and watch the almost chaotic but beautiful scene of colourful abras chock-full of people floating by and screaming gulls swooping into the water to catch an unsuspecting fish.

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The food took rather long to come but it did not disappoint. The highlight of the meal for me was the shakshouka which they call ‘Posh Beith Temath’; two poached eggs in a delicately flavoured tomato sauce with swirls of creamy yoghurt, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and a golden lump of butter melting right in the middle and a plate of little triangles of crisp homemade pita bread to mop up all that deliciousness. The egg yolk was a bit overcooked and didn’t ooze out when I prodded it apart with the fork, as you would expect from a poached egg. So sadly there was no dunking the little pitas in egg yolk, but the dish in its entirety was ridiculously delicious!

Hubs had the Creekside breakfast sandwich (another lovely creation of corn-beef hash patties and scrambled eggs on a fresh muffin with a lovely little sauce drizzled over it) while six year old had a bowl of fries and the crème brûlée which came with a crunchy pistachio biscotti on the side; a weird combo for breakfast but being the weekend I let him indulge a bit, and I took bites of everything, of course!

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Gallery4 A couple of weekends later, I woke up craving shakshouka or shakshuka – however you spell it, it’s got me trapped in its tomatoey, eggy concoction of sunshine and happiness. The chilly morning breeze (which sadly won’t last long) was whispering in my ear ‘Shakshouka, shakshoukaaa, shakshooooooukaaaaa……!’– I just had to try and recreate the dish at home, challenge myself and make everything from scratch, including the pita bread!

And it all turned out…perfect.

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Pita Bread

adapted from a recipe from King Arthur Flour

This was my first attempt at making pita bread but this recipe was so easy to follow and the results were absolutely amazing!
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Makes 8 pitas

3 cups strong white bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tspsugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or olive oil)

Combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a dough dough. Knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for 1 hour- it will become puffy (but won’t double in size).

Turn the dough onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide it into 8 pieces.

Roll two to four of the pieces into 6″ circles (the number of pieces depends on how many rolled-out pieces at a time can fit on your baking sheet).

Place the circles on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow them to rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 500°F. Keep the unrolled pieces of dough covered – this is very important as I left mine uncovered and they didn’t puff as much as the first batch I baked. Roll out the next batch while the first batch bakes.

Place the baking sheet on the lowest rack in your oven, and bake the pitas for 5 minutes; they should puff up. (If they haven’t puffed up, wait a minute or so longer. If they still haven’t puffed, your oven isn’t hot enough; raise the heat for the next batch.)

Transfer the baking sheet to your oven’s middle-to-top rack and bake for an additional 2 minutes, or until the pitas have browned.

Remove the pitas from the oven, wrap them in a clean dishtowel (this keeps them soft), and repeat with the remaining dough.

Store cooled pitas in an airtight container or plastic bag.

Shakshouka
adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi, inspired by Creekside’s version of the dish

I have shamelessly copied Creekside’s shakshouka, right down to the lashings of yoghurt and butter it was served with, and that’s just because theirs was so damn good!

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1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
12  medium white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red and orange bell peppers, chopped
4 tsp muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked, chopped
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on a high heat for 2 minutes. Heat the oil and add the onions. Fry gently till onions begin to soften. Add garlic and fry for a minute longer.  Next add the peppers and herbs and continue cooking on a high heat for 5-10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chilli powder, cumin, sugar, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper and simmer over a medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add a little water to loosen the mixture so you get a sauce like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Make four holes in the mixture and carefully crack an egg into each, sprinkle with a little salt. Cook over a gentle heat for about 10-12 minutes till the eggs are set and the sauce is slightly reduced (if you want the yolks to firm up cover the pan with a lid and cook for a further few minutes).

Serve hot with a drizzle of whipped yoghurt (I used whipped labneh), a scattering of chopped parsley or coriander and a generous pat of butter over the top, along with some pita bread to mop up everything!

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A Potter-esque Tea

(nooo, it’s not the wizard I’m talking about!)

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‘Your father had an accident there. He was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.’

Sounds really sinister, doesn’t it? Well that’s Beatrix Potter for you – the creator of perhaps the most celebrated rabbit on earth, Peter Rabbit.  I recently read an article by a columnist for the Guardian who criticised Potter’s writing, calling her “a creator of a dark, sadistic, bloodthirsty world”. Yes, there’s nothing subtle about her writing and you obviously cannot tell the fragile, sensitive child of the 21st century that a cute furry rabbit was put in a pie by a gardener’s wife. I myself skipped this part when I read the story to my five year old but these stories were written over a century ago when PETA did not exist and even children were made aware that rabbits were a good source of protein (having said that, I’m pretty much against animal cruelty and do not eat rabbit either but I felt the need to defend Potter’s story-telling skills!).

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My first encounter with Beatrix Potter was when I was around eight. I had to recite a paragraph from Peter Rabbit for third grade diction. My teacher loved the s-s-c-c--rrrritch…s-s-c-c-rrratch sounds I made of the hoe which scored me extra marks (for those of you who may not know the story, it’s about a naughty rabbit who runs away from home to explore the world and gets into a whole lot of trouble in Mr. McGregor’s garden – he’s not rabbit-friendly as you can see from the above excerpt). Fast forward twenty seven years and I bump into this bunny once more in the movie Miss Potter with Renée Zellwegger doing a brilliant portrayal of the author.

As with most authors, Beatrix Potter’s road to success was a rather bumpy one. In her twenties she sold illustrated greeting cards in order to make pocket money and around a decade later she put together her first ever story book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was a compilation of letters she sent to her governesses’ ailing son. Unfortunately she fails to find anyone willing to publish her work. Not to be deterred, she self-publishes the book, which proves to be an instant hit among family and friends. A year later, with a little help from a family friend she secures a contract with Frederick Warne & Co (who has been publishing her books ever since) and the rest, as they say, is history.

IMG_3983Attempting a Potter illustration: Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle – another one of her woodland creatures.

Potter went on to write over 30 children’s books and even developed a range of branded merchandise which started off with a Peter Rabbit doll she made herself – and mind you, she did all this in the early 1900’s (businesswomen would have been a rarity back then when men were, well, being men!)

More than her stories, it was Potter’s illustrations that had me running to book-stores looking for her books – how gorgeous are those whimsical and atmospheric watercolour drawings of the English countryside and blossom-filled gardens dotted with rabbits in blue coats and ducks in bonnets!

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You know that clichéd question people ask in certain interviews: ‘Which celebrity or famous person would you invite to tea?’… at the risk of sounding terribly old-fashioned (heck, I’m Gen-X!) I might just say ‘Beatirx Potter, of course!’ To do so I’ll have to wait till the time machine is invented, so I did the next best thing – had a Potter inspired tea made up of a rather cracked but delicious jelly roll, freshly brewed tea and a histoire of BP’s publishing adventures.

‘Come along, Peter, it’s time for tea!’

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Swiss Roll
recipe from Delia Online

110g self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
50g spreadable butter
2 large eggs
110g golden caster sugar, plus a little extra
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling and topping:
3-4 tablespoons jam (I used strawberry)
Caster sugar to finish

(Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6)

First sift the flour and baking powder into a roomy mixing bowl, lifting the sieve quite high to give the flour a good airing as it goes down. Then add the butter, eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract, and using an electric whisk mix to a smooth creamy consistency for about one minute.

Next, spread the mixture evenly in the prepared tin with the back of a tablespoon. Bake it near the centre of the oven for 14–15 minutes or until it feels springy in the centre.

While it’s cooking prepare everything for the rolling operation. Spread out a damp tea towel on a flat surface (have a second one ready for later), then on top of the tea towel place a sheet of baking parchment that’s about 2.5cm larger than the tin.

Then sprinkle caster sugar all over the paper.

As soon as the Swiss roll is cooked, lift it out holding the sides of the liner and turn it onto the paper immediately.

Now carefully and gently strip off the liner, take a sharp knife and trim 3mm from all round the cake. This will make it much neater and help to prevent it from cracking.

Cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave for a couple of minutes, then remove the damp cloth and spread the cake with jam. Then with one of the shorter edges of the cake nearest to you, make a small incision about 2.5cm from the edge, cutting right across the cake, not too deeply; this will help you when you start to roll.

Now start to roll this 2.5cm piece over and away from you and continue to roll, holding the sugared paper behind the cake as you roll the whole thing up. When it’s completely rolled up, hold the paper around the cake for a few moments to help it ‘set’ in position, then transfer the cake to a wire cooling tray.

Dust with a little more caster sugar before serving.

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A jolly good pie!

IMG_0857The sun has disappeared behind huge gray clouds and a bone-chilling wind lashes against our faces as we step out of the mini tour bus. Our guide Chris however grins from ear to ear and tells us we have an hour to lunch after which he will take us on a tour around the city (it’s optional of course!).

My eyes take in a panoramic view of the surroundings – rows of stately Georgian buildings in weathered shades of ochre, narrow cobblestone streets lined with charming little shops, an ornate steeple rising above blackened chimney tops, and in the distance, resembling a faded watercolour suspending from the sky, the breathtakingly beautiful Pulteney Bridge with the River Avon flowing gently beneath it. We are in Bath – a perfectly preserved time capsule of a bygone era… DSCN0752 ?????????? DSC01616?????????? gallery 12gallery 6??????????Around AD 60 the Romans built a temple and the baths which gave the city its fame and during the 18th century, or what is known as the Georgian period, it became a popular spa destination for the upper echelons of British society (an allusion often found in Austen’s novels). Bath was declared a World Heritage site in 1987 (possibly why those blackened chimney tops never got a fresh coat of paint- and hopefully never will!), making it one of just two cities in the world to be given this status. Picture2 We start exploring, cameras clicking non-stop, a trio of snap-happy tourists, marvelling at the old world charm of the city centre. However, having being born and raised in Dubai with all its glittering modernity and 365 days of warm weather, there is so much history and cold wind my two sisters-in-law can take, and restoratives are in order. You see, we were on one of our ‘mommy’s time out’ jaunts – a four day trip to London with a day tour to Stonehenge and Bath thrown in, and one of the must do items on our To Do list was to have an authentic pub experience.
So, following Chris’ recommendation we head towards the The Lamb & Lion which is close to the Roman Baths. But a few twists and turns along the way we stumble upon The West Gate (there seem to be a pub around every corner!). We find it hard to resist the warm glow which shines through its front windows and a few seconds later, we find ourselves sitting inside downing pints of Lilley’s Bee Sting pear cider and tucking into some amazing pub grub (that cider is to die for! Crisp, light and golden with delicious notes of sweet juicy pear, and pretty potent too!). DSCN0775 gallery 7 DSCN0787 We have such a roar of a time that Chris’s instructions to meet in an hour becomes a distant echo in our woozy minds. In contrast to the cold, dreary streets outside, it is warm and cosy inside the pub with its overstuffed chairs, oak panelled walls and huge floral lamps effusing a deliciously mellow light, and of course that tall sparkling pint of pear cider…

So there we stay, drinking and eating and drinking some more…

Well in the end we missed the city tour (which was such a pity), had a quarrel with our guide, saw the magnificent Bath Abbey with its walls lined with the most romantic epitaphs dating all the way back to the 1700’s, popped in to see the Roman Baths and even managed to gulp down a glass of its healing (and vile-tasting) water which a restaurant overlooking the baths was generously giving out to all visitors, my sisters-in-law got lost (I was obliviously clicking my way back to the mini bus and lost them along the way, they took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up walking around in circles), made a quick stop at the awe-inspiring Royal Crescent and The Circus and caught a fleeting glimpse of the white front door of Jane Austen’s house, where she lived between 1801 and 1806, while heading back to London in the fading light of the evening.rev 7 DSCN0854 gallery 8 gallery 13?????????? ????????????????????DSC01694??????????????????????????????? ?????????? Glorious Bath! With its wonderful history and magnificent architecture! But what stands out most in my mind when I think back of our trip is the few hours we spent in that lovely little pub, feeling warm as toast and getting happy-high on pear cider. There is something very endearing about British pubs – the relaxing atmosphere, the history (each place has got its unique story), the unpretentiousness  – staying true to its name; a public house, the food, the ale and the cider (it really is to die for) – a 1000 year old tradition which has changed very little over the years. Rightly described as ‘the heart of England’ by Samuel Pepys in his diary, pubs are a fundamental part of the British culture and it’s sad to see this tradition slowly dying out with more and more pubs closing down each year in Britain.
gallery 10 Oh, and there is one more reason which makes our first ever pub experience that little bit extra special. I was doing some Google research on The West Gate for the purpose of this post when I found out that the pub dates back to 1611 when it was one of the original coaching inns in the city, and about Alice – its resident ghost. There is not much written about her but the fact we spent a few hours in a haunted pub gives me goose bumps, especially when I think of the time I visited the pub’s bathroom. It was down a narrow flight of steps and seemed like a re-purposed cellar with cold stone walls and pull chain toilets – I was the only living soul down there and while washing my hands I had this eerie feeling that someone was watching me…could it have been Alice?

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Paying homage to the wonderful pubs of Britain and Alice (may her soul rest in peace) I made the ultimate British pub classic – steak and ale pie (apparently The West Gate does a good one too). I was also waiting for an opportunity to use these lovely little enamel pie dishes which were sitting in the cupboard, brand spanking new and begging to be used.
My pie-tin lining and crust decorating skills may require some honing but it sure was a jolly good pie!

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Comforting Beef Pie
(adapted from a recipe in BBC GoodFood magazine)
Serves 4

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small celery stick, trimmed & chopped
1 carrot, sliced
A handful of brown mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp plain flour
700 g beef shin, featherblade or stewing steak cut into large chunks
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 beef stock cubes
2 sprigs fresh thyme
540 ml dark ale or beer
1 egg beaten, to glaze
1 pack of ready-made, all butter shortcrust pastry (I’m all for short cuts but you can make your own)

Heat oven to 160 C. Using a flame proof casserole dish with a lid, heat some of the olive oil and add the beef. Fry the beef cubes for a few minutes till they turn brown and set aside.

Lower the heat and add the remaining olive oil and butter. Add the onion and fry gently for about 10 minutes – try not to colour them too much. Turn up the heat and add the carrots and celery and scatter in the mushrooms. Stir in the flour until it has disappeared. Mix everything together before stirring in the beef and Worcestershire sauce. Crumble in stock cubes, add thyme and season well. Fry fast for 3 or 4 minutes, then pour in the ale, stir in the flour and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Remove lid and cook for another 30 mins – this should thicken the sauce nicely (we are looking for a rich, dark, robust stew).

Increase oven to 200 C. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a 20-22 cm pie dish (you can also use small, individual pie dishes). Spoon in the meat and pour over the sauce until the meat is just coated. Roll out the remaining pastry and use it to cover the pie. Using a small, sharp knife trim the edges and crimp with a fork to seal. Brush top of the pie with beaten egg. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

If there is remaining sauce, reheat and serve with the pie along with mashed potatoes and peas.
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When life gives you radishes, bake cookies.

(I know, I know, it’s radishes again… but I didn’t want to be selfish and not share this lovely recipe!)

Some of the radishes I bought from the farmers’ market the other day were still lying around in my refrigerator and I was wondering what to do with them. I went through my recipe stash and found just the right thing – cheesy Parmesan cookies topped with radish butter.

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I baked a batch of these this weekend. They looked so pretty and tasted just as good – one bite and I was in food heaven…

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Parmesan cookies with radish butter
These biscuits are good on their own but the radish butter adds some pizazz to them – they also make great canapés.
Makes 60 bite-sized cookies

125 g butter, chilled
50 g Gruyère cheese, grated
50 g Parmesan cheese, grated
120 g plain flour
A pinch of salt

For the radish butter
250 g salted butter
12 red radishes, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place butter, cheeses, flour and salt in a food processor and process until just combined. Roll dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

Break off small pieces of dough and roll into balls. Place on baking tray and press down with a fork. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and store in an airtight container.

To prepare the radish butter, soften butter and mix in the chopped radish. When ready to serve, spread radish butter over cookies and serve immediately.

‘Tis the season to be jolly – and make something Christmassy!

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I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas – the colours, the smells, the excitement, the presents, good old Mr. Clause and the radio blaring out cheerful holiday tunes… ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year..’! I’m Buddhist and Christmas is not celebrated as much over here (you won’t find neon reindeer prancing around people’s front porches!) but you cannot escape that festive feeling in the air, come December.

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To bring in some Christmas cheer and fill the house with the delicious smells of baking I decided to roll up my sleeves and attempt at making (trumpet call and drum-roll) the King of patisserie Eric Lanlard’s raspberry and chocolate tart. A very ambitious dessert for someone who’s made a tart only once in her life (pastry crumbled and the savoury filling was heavy) but who cares, it’s Christmas! Besides I’m not very fond of heady fruity puds and cakes which are traditional Christmas fare. Everyone loves chocolate and the raspberries add that perfect touch of Christmas red.

I also made an Asian inspired (Sri Lankan to be precise) starter – fish cutlets. Not the fanciest of starters to serve at a festive dinner party but they are delicious, and I gave these plain Janes an elegant makeover by making a little tower out of them, like a mini croquembouche  –  you see, it’s all in the presentation!

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I spent an entire morning (during my weekend of course) shopping for the ingredients. Then I locked myself in the kitchen and did not emerge till Sunday morning when I went for work (in the Middle East the weekend falls on Friday and Saturday). I swore to myself I will not set foot in the kitchen for a long time to come. It was exhausting work and there was a lot of nail biting, hair pulling and stamping as well as moments of sheer elation. Oh the pains and joys of cooking!

First things first – the starter.

Fish cutlets are pretty simple to make and do not require fancy ingredients – tinned tuna, potato, some red onion and green chillies and a few pinches of spices. They are shaped like little spheres, you can shape them any way you want but the original Sri Lankan cutlet is shaped into a perfect little ball. These are then crumbed and deep fried till golden. Soft and moist on the inside and golden and crunchy on the outside, these cutlets are delicious served straight out of the frying pan.

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And here’s my little tower of fish cutlets served on a very special plate. This is a replica of the china used for private dining services in the first-class suites of the RMS Titanic which I bought from a Titanic artefact exhibition in Calgary. The matching tea cup below is one of the artefacts from the shipwreck.

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Moving on to the tart…

Making a tart is laborious work, especially when it’s Eric Lanlard’s tart! But I was up early morning ready to tackle the dreaded shortcrust pastry. A buttery and chocolaty aroma wafted from the pastry dough and just as I had anticipated the baking tart shell filled the house with delicious smells.

I took pictures of these gorgeous raspberries while the pastry case cooled down.

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While rolling out the pastry I knew something wasn’t right. It started crumbling and sticking on to the rolling pin, but I was too impatient to get it in the oven, especially when I have been dreaming big beautiful tart dreams the night before. There are some things you just cannot rush…I realised this (maybe a little too late) when I plopped the tart crust out of the baking tin on to a plate and it broke into smithereens! My heart sank right to the bottom of my stomach. My tart dreams were shattered.

I was tempted to start all over but instead I crumbled the shards and mixed it with butter and made a sort of crumble which I used to line the bottom of the tart tin. Then I filled it with raspberries and poured the chocolate ganache over the top. Instead of being cosily enveloped in a flaky chocolaty tart case the silky ganache had to lie uncomfortably on  a gravelly mixture of burnt crumbs!

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I spent the next half hour looking for some guinea pigs to try my tart. My berry-hating son ran away in horror when he saw the raspberries hidden beneath the chocolate but my husband was not so lucky. He pronounced it ‘you-get-used-to-the-taste-after-a-few-forkfuls’. It did not taste too bad. The ganache is decadently rich and smooth and if you can get the pastry right this one’s a keeper. I have given the recipe below for all those baking goddesses who can turn out picture perfect tarts with two flicks of their magical rolling pins.

As for me, well, I think I’ll stick to cupcakes for a while.  Happy holidays! xx


Fish Cutlets

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2 tins of good quality tuna in oil
2 medium sized potatoes, peeled
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2-3 fresh green chillies, finely chopped
2-3 curry leaves, finely shredded
1-2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp oil and extra for deep frying
1 egg, beaten
Breadcrumbs
Salt to taste

Boil the potatoes in salted water till soft and well cooked. Roughly dice the boiled potato and put in a large bowl. Add the spices and salt to the potato and gently mash together to incorporate the spices and keep aside. Drain most of the oil from the tuna (keep about a tablespoon, this will make the mixture moist) and empty into another bowl. Add the chopped green chillies to the tuna.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Once the oil is hot add the onion. When the onion turns soft and slightly brown add the  shredded curry leaf. Sauté for a minute or so. Add the tuna and green chillies and fry for a further minute. Finally add the spiced potato and give it a good mix. Add more salt if required. Fry the mixture for 2-3 minutes and turn off the heat.

Once the mixture has cooled down, shape into bite sized balls using your palms. Cool the shaped balls for a while in the fridge before frying (they’ll keep their shape better). Dip each ball in beaten egg and roll in the breadcrumbs till well coated.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and once it is nice and hot drop in 2-3 cutlets at a time and fry till golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately with some chilli sauce for dipping.

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Eric Lanlard’s Raspberry & Chocolate Tart
😐 = my rating for the tart

50g (2oz) cocoa powder
50g (2oz) golden icing sugar
150g (5oz) unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g (1lb) raspberries

For the ganache
200g (7oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped
200ml (7fl oz) single cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
75g (3oz) unsalted butter

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and icing sugar together into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and gently mix together, then add the vanilla and combine to form a smooth dough. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (fan 170°C)/375°F/gas mark 5.

Lightly grease a 24 cm (9½in) diameter tart tin. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and carefully use to line the tin. Cover with ovenproof clingfilm and prick a few holes to avoid pockets of air while it bakes. Fill the pastry case with baking beans and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the clingfilm and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Leave to cool.

To make the ganache, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the surface of the water does not touch the bowl. Meanwhile, put the cream into a saucepan and heat until steaming hot, but do not let it boil.

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, gently stirring the mixture. Add the vanilla, then the butter and stir together.

Pack the cooled pastry case with raspberries, saving a few for decoration. Pour the hot chocolate ganache over the raspberries to fill to the top of the pastry.

Leave to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Serve decorated with the reserved raspberries dusted with a little icing sugar.

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Fa la la la laaaa la la la laaaaa!