Archive | February, 2013

Warm Wheat & Beet Salad

25 Feb

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There is something that I love about wheat. Perhaps it’s versatility. I mean, think about how many ways we can use this ingredient. What about the endless wheat flour recipes like bread, cakes, biscuits and cookies? Then there’s couscous, breakfast cereals and of course, beer!

A nice way to really taste this grain is to eat it in it’s original form, or as close as possible to it. I’ve been lucky enough to have had that chance thanks to my middle eastern heritage. There are many Lebanese dishes which contain crushed wheat both coarse or fine. It’s what turns lettuce, tomato, parsley and mint into Tabouleh, and, mince into Kibbe. Neither of those two dishes would be as distinct without out the star ingredient, wheat.

This is a recipe which I made up using my love for wheat and beets. The nuttiness of the wheat shines through and ties all the other vegetables together. Similar to my Pearl Barley Beet Risotto, it’s very easy to make but you will need to soak the wheat overnight in water. Use whatever spices that you like. Serve it warm or cold. With or without meat. It’s up to you. If you make it, let me know what you think.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 small chilli, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of baby peppers (1 or 2 bell peppers)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of whole wheat soaked in water overnight, then strained
  • 1 handful of green beans, blanched
  • 3 medium-sized beets boiled for about 45 minutes, skin peeled
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • A handful of parsley or mint, or both, chopped roughly
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
Meat Option
  • 2 lamb loins per person
  • double the spices above

Directions
Dry fry all seeds in a non-stick pan, then grind in either a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.

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Roast peppers in a hot oven until skin starts to blister. Make sure you turn over once the tops are slight charred, then cook the second side. Take out, place in a strong plastic bag and seal. Allow to cool then remove skin, seeds then set aside.

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In a non-stick pan or wok, fry the garlic in olive oil, then add chilli and spice mixture. Stir through for a minute or two.

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Add the wheat, green beans and then shred the beetroot over the top. Stir through and cook for a few minutes until beetroot is incorporated well.

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Switch off the heat, then add peppers, parsley/mint mix and stir through.

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Serve warm or allow to cool if you want to serve it cold. Garnish with more parsley, mint, lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.

Meat Option

For the meat option, trim fat and bone off the loin. Rub with olive oil then the same spice mix above. Pan fry to your liking then pile on top of the wheat

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Extra Pics

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Tres Leches Cake “Three Milks Cake”

2 Feb

pastel tres leches

I suck when it comes to making desserts. This is not to say that I don’t have a sweet tooth. On the contrary. I would go as far as holding back on ordering a big main to reserve some space for dessert. But when it comes to making desserts, I always seem dissatisfied with the result. Perhaps it’s because I don’t stick to the recipe because I see myself as a non-conformist?

There is one dessert though that I can make which has improved with time. Perhaps the secret lies in not just the taste but in the fact that it allows much room for error. It’s difficult to get this one wrong. One thing I do know is that this cake has turned heads since the first time I made it. And it’s very popular with the girls. It’s got it all: sweetness, creaminess, nuttiness and zestiness. Add cinnamon and can you start to see why it’s a to-die-for dessert?

Now that I’ve convinced you to put on your apron and warm up your oven, you’re probably asking how do I make a Three Milks Cake? Easy. Vanilla cake, milks, cream and pecans, in that order. It can even be a packet cake mix if you wish to cut back on a few steps. Next I infuse the milks (sorry no short cuts here) and poured over the cake. Finally once the cake is completely cool, top with cream and pecans.

The quantities I describe below will produce a cake the size of an A4 sheet (12” x 8”) by about 5 cm (2”) thick. It’s very rich and yield 12 serves. I usually make everything a day ahead and finish it off on the day with whipped cream. This recipe could easily be modified to make it vegan friendly by substituting eggs with flax, dairy with soy or rice or oat milk. Cream can probably be replaced with whipped up silken tofu. I haven’t tried it but am planning too.

Let me know if you try it.

Ingredients

Cake Batter

Dry Mixture

  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Wet 1

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C cold water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Wet 2

  • 2/3 C egg whites (from about 5 eggs)
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • pinch of salt
Milk Mixture
  • 1 can evaporated milk (375ml/12.5oz)
  • 1 can of condensed milk (400g/14oz)
  • 300ml heavy whipping cream (10oz)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • one orange peel
  • one lime peel
Whipped Cream Topping
  • 1 C  heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest

In my world, 1 C = 1 cup = 250ml = 8.5oz

Method

Cake

1. Preheat oven to 160C (325F). Sift flour into bowl, stir in sugar and add baking powder (Dry Mixture)

2. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. Then add oil, water and vanilla extract one at a time as you whisk the mixture. (Wet 1)

3. Fold Wet 1 mixture into Dry Mixture. Then beat for about one minute to aerate slightly.

4. Combine egg whites and salt in a bowl and whisk until you get a soft peak. Then add sugar and keep whisking until it holds a firm peak. Fold Wet 2 mixture into batter.

5. Pour into baking tin and bake for about 30 minutes.

6. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool, then pierce with a skewer all over. These holes are to help the milk mixture get absorbed by the cake. (Tip: if you’re patient enough, allow the cake to go stale)

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vanilla cake batter preparing cake

Milk Mixture

1. Pour milks into a heavy based pot, add lime and orange peels, cinnamon sticks and bring to boil. Drop temperature and simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes on low heat.

2. Allow milk mixture to cool, pass through a sieve then pour mixture over the cake.

3. Place cake in the fridge to chill.

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Whipped Cream Topping

1. Whip cream, sugar and zest.

2. Spread whipped cream across the cake and arrange pecans.

3. Cover with cling film and return to fridge until ready to serve.

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