Dulce de Leche Cakes

Dule de Leche is now world famous. Everyone knows the story, the gauchos would be out moving cattle and wanted something sweet to have. So they would boil a tin of condensed milk, wait until it had cooled and then devour the sugar sweet milky caramel.

When it came to think of a dessert to have with our Argentine meal I wanted to create something which represented what the gauchos had. Often they were out in the wilderness but more often than not they returned to rich farms where dairy products were in abundance hence the use of the cheeses.

These little cakes are soft, creamy and slightly cheesey. The dulce de leche in the centre makes a pleasant surprise. Best of all they are quite quick and easy to make.

Ingredients – makes 6 cakes
2 eggs
50g caster sugar
125g ricotta
125g mascarpone
75g Doves Farm Plain Flour
¼ tin of Dulce de Leche

1. Place the eggs, caster sugar, ricotta cheese, mascarpone cheese, and flour in a bowl and mix together.
2. Line a 6 hole metal muffin tin with individual sheets of grease proof paper. Make sure each sheet is slightly bigger than the hole.
3. Put approximately one tablespoon of mixture into each hole. Try and flatten it slightly.
4. Place ¼ teaspoon of dulce de leche on top of each cake, in the middle.
5. Now place another tablespoon of mixture on top of the dolce de leche

6. Flatten the mix slightly, push down any spikes with a clean, wet finger.
7. Place the muffin tin into a larger oven proof dish and fill the larger dish with water so that it comes up halfway to the muffin tin.
8. Place this in the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes until the cakes are slightly puffed and risen.

9. Remove the cakes with their paper on and leave to cool on a wire rack until cool
10. Remove the paper and place a tablespoon of dolce de leche on each cake

Chimichurri Sauce and Farina

When we normally think of Argentina we tend to think about the people dancing the Tango, wearing red and black and perhaps holding a rose between their teeth. When I think about the rooms where these Tango scenes are played out they are always filmed in dinning rooms laden with food. However searching in to Argentina’s food, away from the posh lifestyle of the Argentine elite is the world of the gaucho, the Cowboy. The cowboy has a special place in Argentina’s culinary history after all they are the ones who worked on the land and provided the food.

A lot of Gaucho food is based on the concept of grilled meat with traditional sides. The gem, however, seems to be the Chimichurri sauce served alongside. Legend has it that a Scotsman was trying to say, “give me curry” (che me curry), some say it was British prisoners asking their Spanish jailers for a condiment to have on the side of their meal “Che mi salsa” which later became corrupted.

I have to say that while making this sauce, my mother was in the kitchen with me and looked rather unimpressed with the list of ingredients. On a couple of occasions she did suggest that we add some more things but I refused! The end result is garlic-y and rather like the green Beurre de Paris sometimes served with steak in France.

Farina, Socca, Basin bread are all pretty much the same: chickpea flour mixed with water, left to stand and then shallow fried in a frying pan or dry fried on a griddle

Our meal consisted of grilled lamb, grilled chicken, sautéed baked potatoes, a plain salad, chimichurri sauce and a slice of farina.

Chimichurri Sauce

Ingredients

1 bunch Fresh Coriander
4 cloves of Garlic
2 Spring Onions
Salt
A pinch of Red Chilli Flakes
Olive Oil
Vinegar

Use a food processor to blitz the spring onions and garlic until coarse. Then add in the coriander (leaves and stems), if the mix is unable to move in the processor because it is too dry add a little water. Blitz again with the salt and red chilli flakes. Finally pour enough olive oil while the mixer is moving and a couple of drops of vinegar to allow the olive oil to emulsify.

Farina
.
Ingredients
Chickpea Flour (basin)
Water
1 teaspoon baking powder

Mix the chickpea flour and baking powder with the water until you have a thick batter. Leave to stand for approximately 10 -20 minutes. Spray spray-oil on to a non stick frying pan and pour on the batter. Check to see if the underside has cooked, then flip over and cook the other side. Repeat the process.

Tongabezi Chicken Curry

When deciding to cover foods from different continents for Ramadan this year, I have to say that while I felt I was well informed about food in general, I really didn’t know what to expect about non Arab African food. I was familiar with North Africa food and as a coeliac I now know to remind any waiter not to put any free bread over or under my food. I just really didn’t know what to expect with Africa let alone Zambia.

I found this recipe in Floyd on Africa and pretty much all recipes of Tonzabezi Chicken Curry are variations of his. I have, however, made alterations to suit my palate. I’m sure the late Keith Floyd won’t mind. I’ve put the butternut squash in with the chicken as it adds taste and texture to the chicken. I can’t abide the taste of ‘curry’ powder and never use. I also feel that if you are cooking meat on the bone there really is no need to use stock. The chicken, as they cook, will create their own stock from real bones. I’ve also added cumin seeds because the dish lacked a certain je ne sais quoi until this was added. Finally a sprinkle of fresh coriander makes this perfect.

This dish is soothing, comforting and the dish that you just want to come home to. It really is. Serve with white rice, and the sautéed sweet potato on the side. With plantation banana custard for dessert this was simply perfect. Alhumdulilah.

Ingredients – Serves 4
2 sweet potatoes
1 butternut squash
4 pieces of chicken (I used legs)
2 onions
½ a tin of tomatoes
2 inch ginger
2 garlic cloves
6 cardamon pods
½ teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper corns
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
4 teaspoons dried lemongrass or 2 whole bruised lemongrass
2 large red chillies chopped
4 tablespoon of yoghurt
Water
1 tablespoon fresh corriander

1. Chop the butternut squash in to quarters and remove any seeds. Parboil the sweet potatoes whole, with the quartered butternut squash. When you can put a knife through the butternut squash and sweet potato remove from the pan but keep the water. Peel the butternut squash and cut into bit sized cubes. Leave the sweet potato whole.
2. Dice the onions and slowly cook in a pan until translucent before adding the ginger and garlic
3. Add the cumin, tumeric, lemongrass, salt and peppercorns. For the cardamom pods bruise before adding to pan.
4. Allow the spices to toast slightly, stir the spices for about a minute under a medium heat before adding the chicken to the pan and turning the chicken in the spices
5. Add enough water to cover the chicken
6. Add the tomatoes and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes on a medium heat.
7. Add the chopped chillies
8. Add a cup of the sweet potato/butternut squash cooking water to the chicken, along with the cubed butternut squash for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the butternut squash is soft but still holds its shape.
9. Peel and slice the sweet potato and sautee in pan with a little oil until the sweet potato is slightly crunchy
10. Just before you are ready to serve (ie just before you heat the food for iftari) mix in the yoghurt and heat gently, do not allow to boil otherwise the yoghurt will split. It will still be fine to eat but the sauce will look as if it has bits in.
11. Top with coriander
12. Serve with fresh rice and the sautéed sweet potato along side.

Halva and Mini Pooris

When I was little my mum and dad would sometimes make Halva Poori on a Sunday morning, normally when they had their university friends over to visit. My mum would make the pooris and my dad would make the halva. He would start early in the morning and allow no one in the kitchen except for me. I’d sit up on the worktop next to the cooker (no health and safety issues back then!) and I’d watch him stirring and mixing, making a halva that would melt in your mouth.

Before I knew it he was gone, and so had the recipe. I had no one to ask how to make it, as no one was ever allowed into the kitchen. Any time anyone would make me halva it was not remotely like his halva. It would be oily, gritting, the wrong colour, lumpy, every negative adjective under the sun. I yearned for that halva.

Finally last year after tasting a particularly bad gluten free halva (halva is normally made with semolina) I set myself up with the challenge of making a halva which was both gluten free and met my memories.

Halva
50g Basin/ Ground Chickpea Flour
50g Fine Corn Meal
50g Juvela White Mix
50g Unsalted Butter
50g sugar
1 cardamom pod

1. Boil ½ pint of water with sugar until the sugar dissolves
2. Lower the heat
3. Strip the cardamom pod of its husk and place the seeds and butter into the sugar water
4. Allow the butter to melt
5. Mix the flours together in a bowl and slowly pour into the water
6. Whisk the flour and water with a whisk. Keep the flour moving.
7. Once the mix begins to go sticky, use a spatula to bring it together so that it starts to look more like a dough
8. Using the spatula keep moving the dough, flattening it, moving it to remove any remaining lumps. This process will cook out the flour. Do this for about 5 -7 mins until the halva in cooked
9. Place the halva in a bowl and use the spatula to smooth out the surface.
10. Serve with hot pooris

Mini Pooris
These pooris won’t fluff up like real gluten pooris, however they will have some air pockets making them the closest thing to a poori that I have had since being coeliac.

200g Doves Farm Plain Flour
2 tablespoons ispughul seeds with the husk removed
Water

1. Mix the seeds and flour together
2. Slowly mix in some water until the flour forms a dough
3. Make golf ball sized balls from the dough
4. Roll out on a floured surface, using a clean rolling pin, I prefer to roll them all out at once as it makes it easier to fry. Don’t make them too thin.
5. Half fill a frying pan with oil and heat up the oil and then shallow fry the pooris in there. Cook for about 2-3 mins each side until or until crunchy.

Kaufteh

Kaufteh are meatballs. Most cultures have meatballs and no doubt everyone will say that theirs are the best! To me meatballs are lovely, small enough to shape in the palm of your hand and just a perfect end to a long day.

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will tell you that my favourite food is kaufteh (meatballs from Pakistan). I just adore them. I love the whole process from the making of the meatballs, to peeling the potatoes (and that has to be the only time I love peeling potatoes). Making them gives me so much pleasure that it is abnormal.

I prefer to make the kaufteh in a big batch, then I fry the meatballs, and then freeze them, meaning I can have meatballs without so much work later on.

As always I suggest making your own meatballs and playing around with them until you find a flavour combination which works for you. Kaufteh normally contain finely sliced onion, ginger, garlic, chillies and spices along with herbs mint and coriander. Egg is the only binding agent, there is no need to add flour whatsoever. Kaufteh should be the size of a golf ball. Fry off the meatballs and set aside or freeze and then make the sauce.

Kaufteh sauce
Ingredients – to serve 4
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic ground
2 cm of ginger peeled and chopped and ground
½ a tin of tomatoes
Red chilli flakes to taste
1 green chilli
¼ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon of ground coriander
¼ teaspoon of tumeric
¼ teaspoon of cumin
1/4teaspoon of black pepper corns
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cinnamon or a small cinnamon stick
1 slightly squashed cardom
Salt to taste

Also required
Approximately 12 meatballs
Approximately ½ the amount of potatoes to meatballs
4 hard boiled eggs – peeled

1. Chop the onion, brown the onions in oil so that they become soft
2. add the ginger and garlic and the tumeric, red chillies flakes, then add the whole spices and add the tomatoes
3. On a medium heat cook the spices off, so that when you move a spoon through the tomatoes the oil is visible as a clear line.
4. Then add the kaufteh, heat them in the paste add enough water to cover the kaufteh and allow to boil.
5. Bring to a simmer and add the potatoes and simmer
6. When a knife goes through the potatoes add the peeled eggs.
7. Allow the eggs to heat through in the sauce for a while so that also absorb the spices add the chopped green chilli.
8. Finally top with coriander and serve with freshly cooked rice.

Laksa, Two Ways

Laksa is a noodle soup of Malaysian origin, a mix of the Chinese and Malay food culture and there, my friends, endth the lesson!

My laksa is unconventional. I chose not to make it as soupy as normal simply because soup for iftari when you aren’t used to a soup can be a bit hard to deal with (mentally I mean), so it is more saucy than soupy. I’ve made other changes too in the laksa paste, but I assure you this works. It is just as tasty. It is both spicy and zingy, it hits all the buttons.

While it may seem strange to chop in a food processor AND use a mortar and pestle there is method in my madness. The food processor will simply chop the spices into fine pieces however a mortar and pestle will break down those fine pieces changing them from individual ingredients into the laksa paste. Doing both reduces the amount of pounding.

In the ingredients I’ve listed two tins of coconut milk, simply because there is nothing worse than sitting down to a meal which is too hot. Use one tin, see how you feel and without a second of a doubt if you find it too hot add more coconut milk as this will reduce the heat. For children who are not used to hot food, it might be an idea to split the laksa into two pans, one for adults (as it is) and one for the children (with more coconut milk in).

One final point when I photographed the prawn laksa it was photographed as a single portion and the lamb laksa was photographed in the serving dish.

Serve in bowls, eat with spoons and forks with plenty of napkins at hand and perhaps a cooling melon to put out the heat!

Lamb Laksa
Serves 6

500g of lamb chops
2 limes
200g of flat rice noodles (Banh Pho or Pad Thai)
2 spring onions
1 red pepper
1 small aubergine
2 tins of coconut milk ( I used ¾ of a tin)
Rapeseed oil

For the Laksa paste
4 – 5 long red chillies
8 shallots
3cm piece of ginger
3cm piece of galangal
4 cloves garlic
25g of walnuts

1 teaspoon dry lemongrass
½ lime juice
½ teaspoon of tumeric powder
2 teaspoons of tamarind paste
1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon sugar

1. Juice 1 lime and pour over the lamb, mix well and leave to tenderise for at least 1 hour preferably in a fridge.
2. Peel and chop the shallots, galangal, ginger, garlic.
3. Chop the chillies
4. Place the : shallots, galangal, ginger, garlic, chillies, walnuts, for the laksa paste into a chopper until very fine, then remove
5. Place the fine ingredients into a pestle and mortar, then add the coarse sea salt, tamarind paste, lime juice and pound for around 3mins.
6. Heat up 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pan, pour in the laksa paste, then add in the lamb and any remaining marinating lime juice and cook the meat in the paste. The paste will cook off while the meat browns.
7. After about 5 mins of cooking add in the coconut milk and continue to cook for a further 20 mins making sure the laksa does not stick. Remember to stir from time to time.
8. Chop the aubergine into cubes and add to the laksa. Cook for another 20 mins.
9. Chop up the pepper and 1 spring onion and add to the laksa.
10. Boil a kettle and pour the kettle hot water on to the rice noodles and cover with a lid. Leave for approximately 5-7 mins but do check the noodle packet for details. When the noodles are ready drain and set aside.
11. At this stage check the lamb it should be tender. Taste the laksa and add sugar to taste, also check the heat the level.
12. To serve, place the noodles in a serving bowl, and place the laksa on top. Chop the remaining spring onion and ½ lime and place on top of the laksa.

Prawn laksa


500g of black raw prawns
½ quantity Laksa paste as above
2 Spring Onions
2 tins coconut milk (again adjust to taste, start with one tin and if find it too hot add some more coconut milk)

1. Remove the shell and de-vein the prawns (remove the intestine visible along the spine and underneath)
2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the laksa paste and cook off the paste for a couple of minutes.
3. Add in the prawns and coat well in the paste before adding the coconut milk and leaving to simmer gently until the prawns are cooked. The prawns will look pinker won’t be so dull.
4. To assemble the dish, place the noodles in a bowl and top with the prawn laksa, top with spring onions and wedges of lime.

Paella


Before this evening if you had asked me what I thought about Paella I would tell you the first word that would spring to my mind was grit! Yes, honestly, grit! I think back to the first time I ate Paella and this was the first texture that hit my mouth followed by my taste buds being assaulted by salt. Not one to repeat mistakes it wasn’t until recently that I ate Paella again that I liked it. You may think what is there not to like in rice, but honestly grit can have that kind of an effect on a person.

Paella apparently has muslim origins. Back in the days when the Arab Moors had the Caliphate of Cordoba (approximately year 1000) following the banquets of the rich the servants would be given “Baqiyah” (leftovers in Arabic) and this would then be mixed with what ever meat, fish and vegetables were to hand. Modern Spanish legend of the origins of Paella are entirely different naming the banks of lake Albufera near Valencia where fishermen caught fish, fried snails, a few legumes and rice grown on the edges of the lake, omitting any Moorish involvement. Either way this is now a dish in its own right.

This recipe is lovely, no grit in sight! The lamb is soft and sweet, the beans filling and the sugar snap peas vibrant. The taste is both garlic-y and nutty. Paella is normally cooked in a large flat paella pan like a large frying pan however because I wanted to speed up the process and wanted the lamb to be tender I used a Le Creuset shallow casserole pan with a lid. Finally a note regarding the paprika, I’ve used 3 teaspoons of paprika as I felt it did not give enough taste to the dish and this may well be because the paprika was not very strong. I would none the less suggest starting with 2 teaspoons and increasing if you need more.

Lamb Paella
Serves 4

1 onion
5 lamb chops including their spare ribs
Olive oil
2 ripe tomatoes or 2 tomatoes from a tin of tomatoes
230g of cooked Canneloni beans
100g Sugar snap peas
1 cup long grain rice
Approximately 2.5 cups* of Water
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika (adjust to taste)
1 pinch of saffron diluted in hot water

* Cup = any mug you have just make sure to use the same for both the measures.

1. Wash the rice and set aside in some water.
2. Dice an onion
3. Put enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan, then fry the onions on a low heat until they are golden.
4. When the onions are done add the lamb chops and spare ribs, browning the meat.
5. Add 4 cloves of chopped garlic to the lamb and continue to brown.
6. Add the salt and paprika, stir and coat the lamb with them.
7. Finely chop the tomatoes then add to the pan.
8. Now add enough water to cover the meat entirely, bring to boil and then leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes with a lid on. The water should have reduced slightly but there should be enough covering the meat. Taste the liquid to see if more paprika is needed.
9. Wash the beans until the water runs clear then add the beans to the pan. Stir to adjust the placement of the meat and beans in the pan.
10. Finally add the drained rice to the pan. Level out the rice so that it is evenly distributed in the pan. Do not stir the rice at all.
11. Heat the pan till the liquid till it boils, then reduce and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes with the lid on.
12. Switch the heat off, and place the sugar snap peas on top of the rice. Place the lid back on to the pan and leave standing for 10 minutes. Do not open until the 10 minutes are up.

¡buen apetito!
For Mrs B!