Friday, January 12, 2018

Toasty Olive Oil Granola

It's Granola week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). The theme for this week, Monthly Featured Ingredient/Dish : Granola! We are free to make any granola we like and feature it in any way we want. I love granola and have seen a recipe from Nigella Lawson which I've been wanting to try ever since I bought her book, Simply Nigella. 

Granola is very easy to make at home. Nigella's recipe uses olive oil, maple syrup, almonds both whole and sliced, brown flax seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, rolled oats with ground ginger and ground cinnamon. I did not have any maple syrup, so I have used an equal amount of honey.

Mix the ingredients together as per the instructions given, Nigella uses her hands to mix (using disposable vinyl gloves), but I've used a sturdy spatula which did a good job of mixing too. Bake for one hour at 300F, turning the granola over after 30 minutes of baking time, so that they bake evenly. Continue to bake until the granola is a deep rich brown. Let pan cool on wire rack.

Recipe makes quite a lot! This is very good! Very crunchy and not too sweet. Love it! Granola is one of my favourite snack to enjoy anytime of the day. My favourite way to eat granola is to enjoy it by the spoonfuls! The jar above, is the amount of the full recipe. By the next day, half has already gone. I'll be adding some dried fruits to my bowl, as I love having bites of dried fruits in granola, my favourite dried fruits are golden raisins, apricots and cranberries. And for the nuts, definitely almonds for granola.

Crunchy and very addictive! 

Enjoyed it for breakfast with milk and slices of strawberries. A great start to a busy day! Yum!

Toasty Olive Oil Granola
(Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson)
Makes enough to fill 1x1.5 quart jar
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant, preferably orgainic)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or kosher salt
3/4 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup brown flax seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup (I use honey)

1 x half sheet pan

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Tip the oats into a large bowl, add the spices and salt, and mix well. 
  3. Now add all the nuts and seeds, and mix well again.
  4. In a measuring cup, combine the oil and maple syrup, then pour the mixture into the oat, nuts, and seeds and, with either a fork, or hands encased in disposable vinyl gloves, mix to combine. Tip onto the prepared baking sheet, and move it around so that it covers the pan evenly.
  5. Put in the oven to toast gently for 30 minutes and then, with spoons or spatula, turn it to help toast the underside as well. Put back in the oven for another 30 minutes, and then sit the pan on a wire rack until the granola's cold.
Store in a sealed jar or an airtight container for up to 1 month.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
Monthly Featured Ingredient/Dish : Granola!

I'm also linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #25 hosted by 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

This week, Lighten It Up! is the theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). I've made Ina Garten's, Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes, and it was really yummy! 

It is really easy to make, and the result is delicious. I did make some substitutions to the recipe with ingredients I already have. Recipe uses taleggio cheese, but I did not have any, and I don't think I have seen it before. So I've used what I had, mozzarella cheese. And instead of thyme, I've used rosemary from the garden pot. 

To lighten it up, I cut down on the salt and butter, which I always do anyway. Ina uses a lot of butter, and salt in most of her recipes. I've used about 2-1/2 tablespoons of butter in total ; about half tablespoon to saute the chopped onions and 2 tablespoons to mix into the sweet potato mixture. As for the salt, use the amount to taste. I've baked 4 sweet potatoes, which took about 70 minutes until tender, as those sweet potatoes were rather plump. Depending on the size and thickness of the sweet potatoes, it may take a shorter or longer time than that. 

Cut each sweet baked potato into half  lengthwise and scoop the flesh out, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around., with shells shaped like a canoe. Place the potato flesh into a bowl, mash it with a fork,  and mix in an egg, salt and pepper and the cooled sauteed chopped shallots (sauteed earlier in butter, and chopped fresh rosemary). Fill the sweet potato shells with this mixture, top with a sprig of rosemary (or thyme)  and bake for 20-30 minutes until puff and lightly browned. It smells wonderful with rosemary while baking.

This is delicious. It is easy and quick to prepare, though some time is needed when roasting the whole sweet potatoes until tender. After that it comes together pretty quick, in half an hour's time, you will have sweet and savoury sweet potato boats to enjoy! These are good eaten warm, and when it gets cold, simply reheat them in the oven for about 7 to 8 minutes until warm. Actually they are just as tasty at room temperature. There's already a request to make this again.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed (12 to 14 ounces each)
  • 5½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • ½ cup minced shallots (2 shallots)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 sprigs for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces Taleggio cheese, small-diced (6 ounces with the rind)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
Place the potatoes on the prepared sheet pan and cut a few slits in each potato to allow steam to escape. Bake the potatoes for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until very tender when tested with a skewer. Set aside for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, heat 1½ tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender. Add the thyme and cook for 1 minute. Set aside.
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out some of the warm potato into a medium bowl with a teaspoon, leaving a ½-inch-thick shell of sweet potato. The potatoes should look like little canoes. Sprinkle the potato shells generously with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the scooped-out potato flesh and mash it with a fork. Add the egg, shallots, Taleggio, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and stir until combined. Spoon the mixture into the sweet potato shells and top each with a sprig of fresh thyme. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned. Serve hot.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
Lighten It Up!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

It's Potluck Week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), our last theme for 2017. It has been a wonderful year baking and cooking with my friends at IHCC. And looking forward to another delicious year ahead.  For a sweet ending for 2017, I've made Nigella's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake. 

The cake is moist  and dense yet very tender and slightly crumbly. I did reduce the dark brown sugar to only 1 cup (loosely packed) and it was just right for us. And have used salted butter.

Another winner from Nigella. 

Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake
(How To Be A Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson)
1 cup soft unsalted butter
1-2/3 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablepsoons boiling water
9x5-inch loaf pan

Preheat the oven to 375F, put in a baking sheet in case of sticky drips later, and grease and line the loaf pan. The lining is important as this is a very damp cake; use parchment or one of those loaf-pan-shaped paper liners.
Cream the butter and sugar, either with a wooden spoon or with an electric hand-held mixer, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating in well. Next, fold in the melted and now slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but being careful not to overbeat. You want the ingredients combined; you don't want a light airy mass. Then gently add the flour, to which you've added the baking soda, alternately spoon by spoon, with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325F and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside, so an inserted cake tester or skewer won't come out completely clean.
Place the loaf pan on a rack, and leave to get completely cold before turning it out. (I often leave it for a day or so; like gingerbread, it improves). Don't worry if it sinks in the middle; indeed, it will do so because it's such a dense and damp cake.
Makes 8-10 slices.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
December 2017 Potluck

I wish everyone A Happy New Year!