30 November, 2009

Really Healthy Cranberry Walnut Scones

Scones are a very English thing. The German translation for scone is English tea roll, or something along those lines. The English people have with their afternoon tea. This tea session is not to be confused with the supper or dinner that the English also call "tea" sometimes. At the scones tea session you actually have a cup of the same and a scone. Everything understood so far?
For some reason, I never came across scones when I lived in England as an au-pair girl. Perhaps afternoon tea wasn't big in the family I stayed with. Apparently they have it with something called clotted cream.... not sure what exactly that is. It's probably only available in England.
Anyway, here in Dubai they also have scones. I like them, as you can bake them sweet or not so sweet and then add butter jam or honey.
Until this morning, I actually never thought of making them myself. When I came across a couple of scone recipes I wanted to make them.  I threw a few recipes together and out came some lovely cranberry walnut scones. I had them straight out of the oven, while my visiting sister had them with butter and honey. They were really tasty and I just love the fact that he whole thing is actually a healthy treat.


175g wholewheat flour
75g rolled oats
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoon dried cranberries
4 tablespoon chopped walnuts
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Serves 8
Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put flour, oats flax seeds, baking powder, salt and spices into a food processor and blend. Add coconut oil and honey. Pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly. Pour the buttermilk in a constant stream into the food processor while pulsing. Mix until just combined. The dough should be sticky. If it is too dry, add more buttermilk, by the tablespoon. If too liquid add a little flour.

Transfer dough to a well-floured surface. Knead in the dried cranberries and chopped walnuts. Make a ball ourt of the dough and pat it down to a circle, about 1-1,5 inches high. Quarter the dough with a knife, then curt each quarter into halves. Transfer scones to the baking. Keep them 1-2 inches apart.

Brush scones with beaten egg. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown at the edges. Serve hot or at room temperature with butter and honey/jam or sweet butter.
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25 November, 2009

The Ultimate All Inclusive Breakfast Muffin

 This muffin has got everything that a healthy breakfast calls for: wholesome flours, vegetables, fruit, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, yogurt and some honey. It can't get much better than that. They are extremely moist and intense in flavor. Honestly, to me the ultimate Number One of all muffins ever.


(Print Recipe)

1 egg
4 tablespoons agave syrup or maple syrup
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup yogurt

1 carrot, grated
1 medium apple, grated
1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon palm sugar
2 tablespoons rolled oats
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon water

Yields 6
Preheat the oven to 175C/375F. Line or grease muffins tins.

Whisk together all wet ingredients. Set aside,
In a medium bowl, sift together  oats, flour, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the carrots, apples, and raisins.

In another mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour and butter. Rub the butter into the flour and sugar mixture until you get a crumbly texture. Add nuts and seeds. Then add water, oil and honey. 

Fill the muffin batter in the muffin tray cups. Top each one with a generous amount of the topping mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
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24 November, 2009

Walnut Crumble Pumpkin Pie

We all have a sweet tooth here in this house, but I always refrained from making nice tarts and cakes, because it was just too much cake for two people if I made a regular one in a normal-sized tart pan.
Last week I bought a 5 inch tart spring form, determined to start baking nice cakes for my husband and me or the occasional visitor. The amounts in the recipe given below are for a regular 9 inch tart pin though.
My 5 inch spring form debuted with this delicious pumpkin pie, made with home-cooked pumpkins and coconut milk, and based and topped up with a walnut cinnamon crumble. Do I need to say that the cake was gone the same day?

Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon palm sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled
1/4 cup ice water (or less)

Pie Filling
1/2 cup palm sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup coconut milk

Walnut Crumble Topping
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup packed palm sugar
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Make one 9-inch cake
Pie Crust
In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour half of the water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. Add remaining water, if necessary.
Turn the dough out onto your work surface. Flatten the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour before using. This will chill the butter and allow the gluten in the flour to relax. At this point you can also freeze the dough for later use.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to fit into a 8 or 9 inch tart pan. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be about an inch larger than your pan.

Pumpkin Pie Filling
In a mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, coconut milk, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

Walnut Crumble Topping
In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in walnuts.

Baking the Pie
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Oil an 9-inch tart spring form. Gently lay the rolled out pastry dough in the pan, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan. Prick bottom of dough with a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Place rack in center of oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Take out the form. Sprinkle half of the walnut mixture evenly over the pie crust. Then pour pumpkin batter into the pie crust.
Turn down oven heat to 170C. Put the pan back int he oven and bake for another 20 minutes. When the batter has set a little, take out the pan again and sprinkle the other half of walnut mixture evenly over the pie. Put back in the oven and bake for another 30 minutes. Let cool. Serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche.
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23 November, 2009

Green Thai Chicken Curry

You want a fast and tasty meal? Here it is: Thai Curry. I promise you the rice to serve it with will take longer to cook than this.
In a Thai curry, you can throw in whatever meat and/or vegetables you want. I always like foods vibrant in color and contrast, so I chose mangetouts and red bell peppers. They are both light and crunchy. The chicken gives a little substance to the curry. By no means omit the lime juice, as it rounds up the the spicy curry taste and the freshens up the coconut milk. Bon appetit!!! Or as they say in Thailand: Khaw Hai Jarern Aharn.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 spring onions
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons Green Thai Curry Paste
300g chicken breast, cut into strips or bite-sized cubes
1 can coconut milk (lite is fine)
1 cube of vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 lime, juice of
300g of mangetouts, cut into halves
1 big (or 2 small) red bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips

Serves 2
Heat the vegetable in a wok pan or other deep pan. Fry the onions and ginger over medium heat until golden brown. Add Thai Curry paste and stir for another minute. Add the chicken strips and fry for 2-3 minutes in the curry mixture. Add coconut milk, stock cube and lime juice and cook for about 5 minutes. Add mangetouts and pepper and simmer for another 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are tender but still a little crispy. Serve with rice.
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21 November, 2009

Baked Veggie Burger Buffet - Sweet Potato, Black Beans and Chick Peas, anyone?

On lazy evenings, we often pull out just about any immediately edible stuff from the fridge, put it all on the dinner table and everyone can have whatever he feels like. That can be anything from a salad, over raw vegetables in a dip (hummus, etc. ) to a cheese or ham sandwich. Fresh bread is a very important part in this and whoever comes home last on that evening, must bring fresh bread on the way.
Now that we are heading towards winter, some warm food is more appreciated and I found baked veggie burgers very useful, as the patties can be prepared in advance and you just throw them in the oven before mealtime. I guess you can even pre-bake them and then just heat them up in the microwave though I have never tried this.
We started this off with falafel (chick pea burgers) to whom I have dedicated a post some months ago. To give it a bit more of variety, I have tried sweet potato burgers and bean burgers too. They make a lovely variety in tastes and are good just with salad and a dip, if the bread has been forgotten on the way in......



Sweet Potato Burger
1 big  sweet potato
2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons ground coriander
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/8 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup minced parsley
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chickpea flour or besan
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
sesame seeds (optional)

Kidney Bean Burger  
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or black beans)
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces 
1/2 onion, cut into wedges 
3 cloves garlic, peeled 
1 egg 
1 tablespoon chili powder 
1 tablespoon cumin 
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Chick Pea Burger - Falafel 
 200g dry chick peas (or 1 can of chick peas)
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 handful of parsley or coriander
2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons flour

Serves 6-8
Sweet Potato Preparation
Microwave whole sweet potato until tender. Alternatively, you can steam the sweet potato by cutting it in 1-inch slices (peel still on) before and then steam until tender (about 5 minutes). Set aside to cool until easy to handle; peel and place in a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 200C. Mash sweet potatoes well with a fork. Mix in cumin, coriander, parsley, garlic, salt pepper and lemon juice and stir well. In a separate bowl, combine chickpea flour with baking powder. Add it little by little to the sweet potato mixture until well combined. Batter should be thick. Add chickpea flour a tablespoon at a time if batter seems to liquid. Form patties out of the dough.

Kidney Bean Burger Preparation
Combine beans, chopped bell pepper, onion and garlic in a food processor. Pulse a few times until roughly mashed. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, and cumin.
Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.

Chick Pea Burgers Preparation
Soak the chick peas in lots of water overnight or for at least 8 hours.
Drain the chick peas. If you use tinned chick peas, drain and rinse. Peel the onions and garlic and cut them into chunks. Wash the parsley/coriander and pull of the leaves. Blend raw chick peas (or tinned chick peas), onions, garlic and herbs in a food processor.
Season the pureed chick peas with the ground coriander, cumin, salt and pepper according to taste. Knead flour and baking powder into the mixture. Form little patties out of the dough.

Baking the Burgers

Preheat oven to 220C. Place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.
Serve hot on whole meal buns or wholewheat tortillas. Garnish with tomato and cucumber salad. Any yogurt based dressing will go well on top or as a dip to freshen up the burgers.
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    19 November, 2009

    Green Beans and Bacon on Nutty Lemon Quinoa

    When I came across a recipe of green beans with  bacon and hazelnuts some time ago, it was declared a side dish. Some grains and seeds would serve just right to make it a complete and filling meal. I chose quinoa, but it would work as well with bulgur or brown rice. I love the smoky flavor of the bacon together with the beans and the slightly lemon-scented grains just round up the taste of the whole dish with some freshness.

    1 teaspoon olive oil 
    1 large shallot, chopped
    1 pound green beans, trimmed 
    1/2 cup water 
    3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled 
    2 tablespoons chopped toasted hazelnuts
    1/4 teaspoon salt 

    1 cup uncooked quinoa
    2 cups water
    Salt to taste 

    2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
    1/3 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds

    Serves 2-3 
    Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until starting to brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add green beans and cook, stirring often, until seared in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Add water; cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes for tender-crisp or 6 minutes for tender. Remove from heat and stir in bacon, hazelnuts and salt.

    Place quinoa with water and salt into a bowl and cook covered and over medium low heat until all liquid has been absorbed. Transfer to serving bowl. Mix oil and lemon juice in a bowl and pour over the cooked quinoa. Stir in the seeds. Add the green bean mixture and toss. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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    Black Bean Brownies - Vegan Way

    I am currently training for a half marathon in four weeks time. I am not too far away from being able to run the distance. Right now I could probably do 10 or 12k at any time and push it to 15k if I had to. So still another 6k to go. For these I have to put in some time and effort, and overcome the occasional bout of demotivation as I still have to run on the treadmill in the gym, as it is still too hot outdoors around lunchtime here in Dubai.
    To cut a long story short, today I made these black bean brownies just before I went for a 10k run, and I left them on the kitchen counter, to reward myself with upon my return. Perhaps, that's why I only did 10k and not 15k as initially intended.
    Ever since I got hold of the recipe I wanted to make them, and they did not disappoint me. In fact, they were a great reward after my run. So easy to make, with so little ingredients, absolutely amazing. I must admit, they are almost finished.......


    1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    2 ripe bananas
    1/3 cup agave syrup
    1/4 cup cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1/3 cup quick oats

    1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
    chopped walnuts (optional)
    icing sugar (optional)

    Makes about 16 medium squares, or 9 big ones
    Preheat oven to 150C.
    Line a 20cmx20cm baking sheet with parchment paper.
    Put beans, bananas, cocoa, agave syrup, vanilla and cinnamon into the food processor and blend until it becomes a smooth paste. Stir in the oats afterwards. Add some brown sugar if the batter doesn't seem sweet enough. Add chopped walnuts.
    Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool and then turn out onto a rack and peel the paper from the brownies. Sprinkle with some icing sugar just before serving.

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    17 November, 2009

    Lemon Semolina Yogurt Muffins

    The other day I saw a cookie recipe that contained semolina. Great, I thought, that's something to try as I had a pound of wholewheat semolina sitting on my shelf for quite a long time now. It was initially to be used for semolina dumplings (that's a German specialty)  and to be served to my kids. Unfortunately, those dumplings weren't a big success with them.
    I tried the mentioned cookie recipe and realized that using wholewheat semolina needs substantially more liquid that regular semolina. Result: cookies got really dry and therefore far too crumbly. Well, lesson learned.
    Next semolina experiment were these delicious muffins. I upped the eggs and the yogurt a little and got some beautiful moist lemon muffins. Topped with some lemony icing they had just the right balance of sweetness and lemoniness.

    100g butter, soft
    4 tablespoons agave syrup
    2 eggs
    1 tablespoon lemon zest
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    250g low-fat yogurt
    150g whole wheat pastry flour
    50g whole wheat semolina
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    100g low fat cream cheese
    2 tablespoons agave syrup
    juice of half a lemon

    Serves 10
    Preheat oven to 150C. Oil a muffin tin or line it with muffin liners.

    In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients (semolina, flour, baking soda, salt, zest). In another bowl, stir together soft butter, agave syrup, vanilla and eggs until well combined. Add the yogurt to the butter mixture. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir gently until just combined. Don't overmix. Pour the mixture into the muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool.

    Combine all ingredients for the icing and stir until well combined. Once the muffins have cooled pour the mixture over the tops and let become solid.
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    16 November, 2009

    Mung Bean Salad with Chicken and Egg

    This salad is what I had for dinner tonight. Only then remembered that this post including the pictures of the salad were sleeping in my computer for more than a month.
    No time to loose to share this wonderful simple salad recipe with you. It's a healthy and filling salad, rich in proteins that is easy to prepare (apart from the mung beans that need to be soaked a little, I guess).
    What I like most about this salad are the boiled eggs. There are an essential part of the salad. Whenever I come across boiled eggs in dishes ( I had them in Indian curry recently), I am surprised how versatile and tasty they actually are. Definitely an enrichment to a meal.
    1 cup (215 grams) dry mung beans
    300g roasted chicken meat, shredded (optional)
    1 bunch scallions, sliced thinly
    1/2 bunch of fresh mint, washed and chopped finely
    2 eggs, hard boiled
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
    3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    Serves 2-3.

    Soak the dried mung beans in a large bowl of water for 4-5 hours or overnight. Drain. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add mung beans and boil 2 minutes. Remove any foam. Drain beans. Bring another pot of water to the boil, add the beans and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse with cold water.
    Combine beans, shredded chicken, sliced scallions, chopped mint leaves and salt in a bowl and mix well.
    Combine the ingredients for the dressing: olive oil, vinegar and mustard and pour over the salad. Toss to coat. Cut each boiled egg lengthwise by four and garnish the salad with the egg slices.
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    15 November, 2009

    Cauliflower and Kale with Raisins and Capers on Bulgur

    This is an extended version of a recipe that I found in the NY Times a while back. The basic recipe was just the cauliflower with raisins, capers and almonds. I made it a couple of times and really enjoyed it all by itself. But to make a whole meal out if it it needed some extensions.
    The main ingredients in this dish are really the raisins and the capers as they have the strongest flavor. I thought that kale would be going well with either or both of them too. Then added some cooked bulgur (which can easily be replaced by other grains: I can imagine quinoa or brown rice here very well). And instead of oven roasting the vegetables I made a stir-fried wok dish out of it. There you go. A good and filling healthy vegetarian meal.
    PS: Not everyone likes raisins in savory dishes or capers in general. The amounts of these two ingredients can changed according to taste or. You might even serve them on the side or just sprinkle on top of each plate to everyone's taste.

    1 cup of bulgur
    3 cups of boiling water
    1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
    1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
    2 bunches of kale, chopped
    1 1/2 tablespoons butter (separated)
    3 tablespoons fresh soft bread crumbs
    3 tablespoons whole almonds
    2 tablespoons golden raisins
    1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Serves 3-4
    Put bulgur in a bowl. Pour 3 cups of boiling water over it and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and press out the remaining water.

    Roughly chop the almonds and toast them in a pan over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Set aside. heat 1 tablespoon of butter in the same pan. Once it's melted stir in the breadcrumbs and cook until golden brown, ca. 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

    Wipe out the pan and melt another half tablespoon of butter. Add raisins, vinegar and 1 tablespoon of water. Simmer until raisins are plump, about 5 minutes.

    In a wok pan, heat one teaspoon of olive oil. Add the cauliflower florets and cook for about 5-7 minutes. They should be cooked but still crunchy. Add the chopped kale and cook until wilted.

    Now stir in the drained bulgur. Add the raisins, almonds, capers, and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Ready to serve.

    The Very Best Of Recipes for Health: 250 Recipes and More from the Popular Feature on NYTimes.com 
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    13 November, 2009

    Cocoa Coconut Balls

    I haven't quite finished two of my major projects of the recent past: "cooked legumes in cookies" and "coconuts". Here is my latest creation: cocoa coconut balls !! I first tried a recipe without beans, and found the cookies could have been a little denser. I remembered the texture of the Aniseed Sesame Cookies and my Coconut Kiss Cookies and wished those cocoa ones would have had the same. At the same time, I added some more natural sweetener to it as the first batch definitely lacked some sweetness. Now here we go: Cocoa Coconut Balls with white beans and dates. If someone had told me 2 years ago that I would bake some thing like this and even create the recipe myself, I would have declared them crazy.

    1/2 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
    2 tablespoons of canola oil
    4 tablespoons of agave syrup
    1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
    1/2 cup of chopped dried dates
    50ml milk

    1 cup of coconut powder + more to coat cookies
    3 teaspoons cocoa powder
    1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
    1 teaspoon of baking powder
    1 teaspoon of baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon of salt

    Makes ca. 25 cookies
    Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Pulse the beans, oil, agave syrup, milk, chopped dates and vanilla extract in the food processor to a smooth and creamy paste.
    In a mixing bowl mix the wheat flour, with the coconut powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
    Combine wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. If the dough is to dry, add a little more milk.
    Make little balls out of the dough (approx. size of a walnut). Put some desiccated coconut in a bowl and roll the ball in it to coat them. Place them on the baking sheet. Leave some space between the cookies on the baking sheet. They spread a little while baking.
    Put the sheet in the upper third of the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes.
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    12 November, 2009

    Sweet Potato Salad with Honey and Rosemary

    Most of you guys are probably facing long dark and cold winter months as we speak. But here in Dubai, after a loooooong summer, temperatures are finally dropping to some comfortable mid to upper 20C. Which means that the BBQ season has started. We haven't had our  debut for this season, but I am sure it will be sometime very soon. While husband is always the grill master in charge ( in fact, I think I have never actually bbq-ed myself, ever in my life, not even turned a sausage on the grill). I normally do the starters, side dishes and salads and I am happy with it.
    Sometime during the hot summer I came across this sweet potato salad. What I love most about this salad is the combination of sweet potato, chili, honey and rosemary.  It really works well together. It was so nice, I had the whole salad myself (yes all 1 1/2 pounds of sweet potato). It is definitely a dish that goes well with nicely marinated and grilled meats. I will make this one on our next BBQ night for the public. I am convinced it will become one of our BBQ classics.

    1 tablespoons honey
    1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
    1 tablespoon minced shallot
    1 teaspoons mustard
    1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 1/2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)

    Canola oil or vegetable oil (for brushing)
    2 fresh poblano chilis , chopped and deseeded
    1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 

    Serves 4

    Cut the sweet potatoes into slices (with the peel) (about 2cm thick) and steam until just barely tender, about 6 minutes. Drain; run under cold water to cool. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

    To make the dressing, whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    Transfer potatoes to work surface. Cut into bite-sized wedges Preheat oven. Brush potato wedges with canola oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes, about 2 minutes per side. Place potatoes, poblanos, green onions, and parsley in large bowl. Drizzle dressing over; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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    10 November, 2009

    Banana Oat Muffins

    I love to experiment with all sorts of ingredients when baking muffins. Nothing makes me more happy than when they turn out well. I get inspired all the time and constantly have new ideas of what to put in or replace. There is just one little problem after baking the muffins: I love their taste and everything but I actually don't eat them. This is because I prefer other foods for breakfast and I rather have fruits 'n nuts 'n stuff for tea to get me through to dinner.
    Only way out: bake lesser muffins at a time, so my husband doesn't have to eat the same style muffins for days in row. And have lots of play dates for my kids where I can feed not just the kids but also their hungry mothers and siblings.
    This banana oat muffin made it straight into the Top 5 of my muffin hit list. It works with just one tablespoon of added oil. Spices in muffins open a whole new world of flavors with an endless list of possible variations and combination. The allspice and ground cardamom really make the muffins here, making it unnecessary to add more sugar or other flavor enhancing ingredients.

    (Print Recipe)

    1 large very ripe banana
    1/4 cup yogurt
    2 tablespoons agave syrup
    1 egg
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1/3 cup quick cooking oats or coarse oatmeal
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/8 teaspoon allspice
    1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/4 cup raisins
    1 handful of chopped almonds to garnish

    Yields 6
    Preheat oven to 180C. Line muffin tin with oil or muffin liners.
    In a bowl, mash the banana. Add yogurt, eggs, agave syrup and oil. Stir until well combined. Set aside.
    In a separate bowl stir together all dry ingredients except the chopped almonds. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir in raisins.
    Pour batter into muffin tins. Sprinkle with chopped almonds. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
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    Black Bean and Buckwheat Salad with Pistachios

    I had some cooked black beans in my fridge the other day, leftovers from a not so successful black bean soup that I tried. Hungry for lunch, I cooked some buckwheat, steamed some spinach and corn kernels, cut up some raw celery stalks. Then threw everything together and some toasted pistachios on top (my favorite nut to go with buckwheat for some reason). Ready was my lunch salad.
    I tried two dressings for this, as black beans always cry a bit for some spiciness. I liked both the jalapeno one and the lemon one, it really is a matter of taste for hot chillies or the rather gentle and non-intrusive lemon version.

    1 cup of buckwheat, cooked
    3/4 cup black beans, cooked
    1/2 cup of sweet corn kernels, steamed
    1 cup of spinach leaves, chopped and steamed
    2 celery stalks, chopped
    1/2 cup of pistachio nuts, toasted

    Lemon dressing
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 garlic clove minced

    Jalapeno dressing
    1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
    3 tablespoon olive oil
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    Serves 2-3
    Combine all ingredients for the salad except the pistachios. Set aside.
    Combine all ingredients of the dressing of your choice. Pour over the salad and stir to coat. Sprinkle toasted pistachio nuts over the salad to garnish. Serve cold or at room temperature.
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    09 November, 2009

    Jiao Zi - Chinese pork-filled dumplings


    Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the German Wall. I must admit, I only have vague memories of that particular day. I was 14, and lived in a small town in East Germany. The whole euphoria of this achievement arrived in much smaller quantities in sleepy small towns. And I, as a 14-year old, probably had other things on my mind too.
    However, I most certainly do remember the times before and the radical changes in the times after very well. One of the big and exceptional experiences of the time before was when our family moved to China for two years in the early 1980s due to my dad's job. Just to remind you, East Germans were not allowed to travel, apart from communist eastern European countries. I have very vivid memories of China, of places, foods, etc. Little details that I wouldn't remember of Germany. It was just one big adventure that would not happen twice.
    One of our favorite foods there were filled Chinese dumplings with minced pork fillings, dipped in soy sauce. We knew them as Jiao Zi. It's quite a time-consuming dish to prepare. Therefore, in China it is often served when having guests or around New Year as something special.
    I never had Jiao Zi outside China as I never found them in Chinese restaurants around the globe. When I found a recipe that pretty much resembled my memories of the Jiao Zi and the memories of my mother of how they were prepared I gave it a go. They turned out really well. I enjoyed them as much as I did 25 years ago. 25 years ago......25 years ago....... Unbelievable, how time flies and how vividly memories of smells and tastes stick to your brain.

    (Print Recipe)

    Ingredients for dumpling wrappers
    200g plain flour ( I used whole wheat and it works fine too)

    Ingredients for dumpling filling
    1 teaspoon neutral cooking oil
    100g pork mince
    cabbage (baby leeks are fine)
    2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
    dash of salt
    2 cloves garlic
    1 teaspoon  fresh grated ginger
    2 tablespoons soy sauce

    Ingredients for dipping sauce
    1 inch grated ginger
    1 red chilli, chopped
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 tablespoon rice vinegar

    Serves 2 as main course, 4-6 as appetizer
    Dumpling Dough

    Put the flour in a bowl. Add water gradually in small amounts and knead into the flour. Once you start doing this, you’ll be able to judge how much water is required. The dough should not feel too hard, soft or sticky. Cover dough in bowl with a damp tea towel and leave for 30 minutes.

    Prepare the Filling
    Finely chop the cabbage or baby leeks. Heat the oil in pan over medium heat. Mince the garlic and fry together with the grated ginger. Add the cabbage/leeks and pork and stir. Add the cooking wine, soy sauce and salt and continue stirring over low to medium heat for about three or four minutes. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

    Preparation of the dumplings

    Knead the dough a little more. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour as you roll the wrappers out. Dust surface with some flour and cut dough up into small pieces. Form small balls and roll them out as thinly as possible (approximately 8cm in diameter). You’ll have to judge the correct thickness. If they’re too thick, they won’t taste nice, and if they’re too thin, the possibility of tearing is greater, especially if you’re going to boil them.
    Place a  teaspoon of filling onto the centre. Don't use too much filling as the wrapper will tear.
    Fold the wrapper in half and press together to form a half moon shape. Pinch and pleat just one side of the wrapper. Seal tight so that there are no gaps. Keep the dumplings covered with a damp towel if you don't cook them immediately.

    Combine all ingredients for the dipping sauce.

    Boiling the dumplings
    Heat plenty of water in a saucepan. Add some oil and salt so the dumplings will not stick together. Boil the dumplings in small batches, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the wrappers became soft but not gooey. If you make them in batches, add some cold water to the saucepan and bring to the boil again, to dilute the water. The flour from the wrappers thickens the cooking water, so the next batch will take longer to cook. Repeat this if necessary after making each batch.

    Serve hot with plenty of dipping sauce or just simply soy sauce.
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    05 November, 2009

    Iced Pumpkin Biscuits

    I love these chewy pumpkin cookies. They are pretty much like little breads. The raisins inside and the icing on top make it a truly sweet treat, yet still a healthy one. They are best eaten warm, or at least the same day. Leftovers (though we never have any) can be heated in the microwave and are almost as good as the fresh ones.
    They are lovely with a cup of tea or coffee, and can surely be eaten as a wholesome breakfast or snack in the afternoon.

    2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1  teaspoons cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/2 cup raisins
    1 cup pumpkin, cooked and mashed (about 1 pound raw)
    1/2 cup milk
    3 tablespoons of agave syrup

    100g cream cheese (low fat is fine)
    2 tablespoons of agave syrup

    Serves 15-18
    Cut the pumpkin into cubes and steam until tender. Then mash very finely with a fork or a food processor.

    Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt spices and raisins. Mix well. Gently fold in the pumpkin. The dough should be crumbly now. Add the milk and stir until the dough becomes soft.

    Flatten the dough onto a well-floured surface. Use your flat hands to press the dough down to 2-3cm thickness.  If you use a rolling pin, you should sprinkle some flour on top of the dough before. Use a big biscuit cutter or small glass (approx. diameter 5cm) and press through the dough right down to the bottom. Place the cut pieces on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack.

    Combine cream cheese with agave syrup. Put a layer of the icing mixture on top of each biscuit and let become solid. Best eaten the same day.
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    03 November, 2009

    Indian Spiced Lentils with Spinach (Dal Palak)

    You may know that we live in Dubai, which has one the biggest Indian community outside India. The supermarkets are full of foods that are prevalent in the sub-continental cuisine: Things I 've never seen in my life before. That is for once the size and amount of certain foods, like 1kg buckets of yoghurt, 5kg sacks of rice, or 200g bags of ground spices like cumin, chili, cinnamon or coriander. I don't think that the average German consumes 200g of cumin or coriander in his whole life.
    They also have a vast variety of pulses in all sorts of sizes, colors and shapes. They are all some sort of dal, but I couldn't quite figure out what that actually is. My good, old friend Google helped in that case.

    "Dal is a preparation of pulses (dried beans, lentils etc.) which have been stripped of their outer hulls and split. It also refers to the thick, spicy stew prepared therefrom..... It is regularly eaten with rice and vegetables in Southern India, and with both rice and roti (wheat-based flat bread) throughout Northern India & Pakistan. Dal is a mainstay in South Asian vegetarian cooking, since it provides the requisite proteins for a balanced diet."

    This is my first recipe with Channa Dal which is split chick peas. I first saw a picture of it that got me curious. I like dishes that have contrasty ingredients (not only for food photography reasons). The yellow dal with the green leaves and red tomato got me set, and the spices did the rest. We had this last night for dinner on brown rice.  As the dish is stew-like, you can as well have it with some Indian flatbread. The leftovers I had for lunch today without anything, and is was as good.


    (Print Recipe)

    1 cup dry Channa Dal (Split Chick Peas)
    2 bunches fresh spinach leaves, chopped

    1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    1 tablespoon fresh ginger crushed
    1 large tomato, finely chopped
    2 teaspoons coriander powder
    1 teaspoon cumin powder
    1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
    1/2 teaspoon garam masala

    1 cup water
    salt to taste

    100g paneer, cut into bite sizes

    Serves 3-4
    Soak the lentils for 2-3 hours in water. Drain. Bring a pot of water with the lentils to a boil. Then simmer on medium heat. Cook until soft, but not mushy, for about 25 minutes.Take off any foam. Drain when cooked. Keep aside.

    Heat the oil in a deep pan. Fry the onions until brown. Then add ginger and garlic, all dry spices and the chopped tomato. Fry for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Keep stirring.
    Add the spinach leaves and cook them until wilted. Then add lentils and 1 cup water to the spinach mixture and cook for another 10 minutes or until lentils start losing their shape a little. You may need to add more water, depending on how soup-y you want the dish. Season with salt to taste.

    Stir in the paneer cubes and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
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    02 November, 2009

    Roasted Chestnuts

    It's chestnut season, yippieeeee!!
    We love to roast them ourselves, on a lazy (possibly rainy) afternoon and serve them as a snack. I love the smell that comes out of the oven when they are just right. My kids love them too. And they are full of goodness: they are made up of complex carbohydrates and have a low glycaemic index (GI).  They are low in protein, very low in fat, and are cholesterol free.  They contain reasonable quantities of vitamin C and potassium, but have very low sodium levels.  They are gluten free.
    It's very easy to prepare them. But the preparation begins while choosing the right ones in the market: they should be dry and mold-free (without any white spots or layers). They should be hard and not give the impression that there is air inside. I prefer to choose the big ones that are very round on one side as this makes it easier to cut through the skin. This is necessary to let the gasses out while cooking. If you don't cut through properly, the chestnut will explode. I can assure you: you do not want (to clean up)  this mess in your oven.

    500g raw chestnuts
    Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

    Find the round side of each chestnut and cut a large X with a sharp paring knife all the way through the skin. Make sure you cut through the skin, as the chestnuts might explode in your oven if you don't.
    Place chestnuts on a shallow baking pan and place in the oven to roast for about 20-30 minutes. Shake pan several times to rotate chestnuts so they will cook evenly.
    Peel roasted chestnuts as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Once they cool completely, they are difficult to peel.
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    01 November, 2009

    Coconut Kiss Cookies

    Hey, I consider this my first very own cookie creation!!!! I am very proud of it! It's been developing in my head over the last week, after I bought a package of coconut powder. So there was one ingredient set.
    Ever since I had cookies that contained cooked beans, I wanted to explore this a little more. How much healthier can a cookie become: you have your legumes with your tea. I think that's really cool. And that's basically it: I threw cooked beans and coconut powder together, added some dried fruit (and very little sugar) and put a nut on top. I am telling you: they are yummy! Have a try and let me know if you liked them.


    1/2 can of white beans (white kidney or great northern), drained and rinsed
    1/8 cup of canola oil
    3 tablespoons of packed brown sugar (or palm sugar)
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

    1 cup dessicated coconut + more to sprinkle
    1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
    1 teaspoon of baking powder
    1 teaspoon of baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon of salt

    1/4 cup of finely chopped dried apricots
    1/4 cup of raisins

    1 handful of whole hazelnuts or pecan nut halves for garnish

    Makes 25-30 cookies
    Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Pulse the beans, oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract in the food processor to a smooth and creamy paste.
    Soak the raisins in warm water for 10 minutes. Then drain.
    In a mixing bowl mix the wheat flour, with the coconut powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
    Add the chopped apricots and raisins. Combine wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.
    Make little balls out of the dough (approx. diameter 2-3cm), by rolling them between your palm. Flatten each ball, so it gets the shape of an ice-hockey puck. Leave some space between the cookies on the baking sheet. They spread a little while baking. Garnish the cookies by sprinkling some coconut powder over them. Put a hazelnut or pecan on each cookie.
    Put the sheet in the upper third of the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes.
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