Fresh Figs And Goat Cheese Crostata

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This is a simple and delicious way of enjoying fresh figs. I’ve had the flavors of figs and goats cheese on my mind for a couple of weeks. Until last week when I went right ahead as served this wonderful Crostata as dessert.

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It turned out a work of pure brilliance. It is somewhere between sweet and savory and you could perhaps serve it as an appetizer as well.

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The crust is an easy to follow recipe. Once rolled out go right ahead and layer it with the sliced fresh figs, followed by the crumbled goat cheese and drizzled with honey.
I served this warm, dusted with some confectioners sugar and crème fraiche.It was absolutely delightful.
Enjoy!

Pastry recipe adapted Giada De Laurentis

Ingredients-Pastry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons ice water

Directions-Pastry
Combine flour, sugar, zest, and salt in a food processor and process briefly to blend. Add butter and pulse till mixture looks like coarse meal. Add ice water a little at time, pulsing between additions, until mixture forms into moist clumps. Dump dough onto large piece of plastic wrap, gather into a ball, flatten into a disk and wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Ingredients-Filling
6 ounces mild, fresh goat cheese, crumbled
15 ripe fresh black figs, stems removed and cut into thin discs
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Directions-Crostata
On a large piece of parchment paper, roll the dough out into two rectangles. Transfer paper/crostata to a large, heavy baking sheet. All around the rectangle, fold in the outer 1/2-inch of the pastry to form a raised edge all around the tart.

Sprinkle goat cheese over the bottom of the crostata (not the edges). Arrange the fig halves, cut side up, over the goat cheese and drizzle the figs with honey.

Bake about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the underside of the tart crust is browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 6-8 people

Dinner Tonight or Lunch Tomorrow?

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On most weeknights I find myself frantically scurrying around the kitchen in order to put a healthy, flavorful yet simple meal on the table. This is especially so when I’ve had a series of cooking workshops through the day and insufficient left over for dinner. I term these as “Fright nights”! Let’s face it we all have these nights.
Well here is a great recipe for Spaghetti And Meatballs,pretty much a fuss free one to put together. I received a coupon from OBE  Organic Halalthe Australian Organic meat wholesalers of free range,organic and grass fed export beef.

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OBE Organic is 100% owned and operated by Australian organic farmers who are committed to the provision of high quality organic food products and the highest possible standard of food safety for the families of the world.Their meat products are available at Carrefour supermarkets in UAE.The OBE Organic group was founded in the early 1990s by a far-sighted group of Australian pastoral families which are continuing century-old family traditions. Today, OBE Organic is the world’s oldest, largest and most trustworthy producer of healthy and great-tasting organic beef.

I picked up some of the OBE Halal beef cubes and had the butcher mince them for me.The recipe to make these meat balls is fairly simple.I’ve gone ahead and baked mine as they turn out to be a healthier option,you could fry them if you like.Once formed the meatballs freeze well and could be stored upto a month.Well here you go,my “double time” recipe as I like to call it..As its a big hit at the dinner table or right into lunch boxes the next day.

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Recipe for Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams lean ground Beef
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Dash of Worchesshire sauce

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl combine all the above ingredients and mix well.
  2. Form the mixture into 10-12 small balls if using immediately else freeze them.
  3. Pre heat the oven to 200C. Lightly grease a baking tray and lay the meatballs on it.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes.
  5. Turn the meatballs over and bake further for 5-7 minutes or until brown.

For The Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 6-8 medium tomatoes (chopped roughly)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed chili flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh Basil and cherry tomatoes to garnish.

Directions:

  1. Heat a pan and add the olive oil.
  2. Add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute.
  3. Next add in the chopped tomatoes.
  4. Cook this well or until they don’t look raw anymore. You could add a little water to assist the cooking.
  5. Season with salt,pepper,oregano and chili flakes.
  6. Boil the Spaghetti according to package instructions.
  7. Add the sauce the meatballs  and mix well.
  8. Now add in the Spaghetti to the above sauce.
  9. Drizzle with Olive Oil and garnish with fresh basil and cherry tomatoes.

Indulge your Senses: Tuscan Grape Cake with lemon Drizzle

watermark A couple of weeks ago, I had devoured the most delectable and moist Vineyard cake at Baker & Spice. The flavors of this fabulous cake lingered on for quite some time. I loved this cake as it was not overly sweet, and had just the right hint of olive oil. Today is my husband Jd’s birthday and I knew this cake would just be  perfect to celebrate with. Now while he loves the traditional chocolate cake, I was in a ,”want to bake a tea cake” frame of mind and the Tuscan Grape cake seemed to be the one to make. I’ve never really baked with grapes before, and I had been browsing for recipes,in trying to recollect the flavors and ingredients that went into the one I had eaten.

Traditionally most recipes call for red grapes, all though I like the green ones for some tartness and a rustic crunch.The lemon zest adds a burst of flavor and that sure was a key ingredient. I love the fact that the recipe here has very little butter and uses more of  Olive oil, producing an unusually light and moist cake. You could bake this in a 9 inch spring form pan, I’ve just used a fluted one to dramatize the cake. Once cooled a simple lemon frosting drizzled  over and Voila! The Verdict: This recipe is a keeper!  An instant hit with the husband and son. Gorgeous grape and Olive notes evoking memories of a resplendent Tuscan vineyard. Certainly a resonant citrus tang in there. Probably as close to the one I ate too. The flavors in the cake do develop overnight. The perfect way to wake up the next day and have it with a cup of tea. And that’s what I did this morning. Go ahead. Indulge your senses! IMG_0648 IMG_0655 ! IMG_0652 Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 200 grams green grapes (halved)

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 175 C.
  2. Grease a 9 inch loose bottom pan and keep aside.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar till thick and creamy. about 3 minutes.
  4. Add in the butter oil, milk vanilla essence and blend well.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Add the lemon zest to the flour mix.
  7. Spoon the flour mix into the batter and stir till well combined.
  8. Keep aside for 8-10 minutes.
  9. Add in the grapes.
  10. Bake for about 35 minutes or till done.
  11. Serve with a lemon drizzle.

Lemon Drizzle:

  • Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 100 grams Icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Milk
  1. Mix all the above ingredients and beat with a hand-held mixer for a couple of minutes.
  2. The drizzle is ready once it looks smooth.
  3. Pour over the cooled cake.

Crescendo: Premium Vinegars & Oils

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I was recently invited for the official launch of Crescendo,one of Germany’s largest retail franchises.They specialize in a wide range of premium quality Vinegar, Oils and a great selection of spices and herbs sourced from all over the globe.

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The afternoon spent at Crescendo was indeed a very informative one. Kaspars Vendelis Crescendo’s in-house Good taste consultant educated us on a variety of uses and benefits of the various Oils and Vinegar in store. The range is fairly unique and can be adapted into various cuisines as well.

The Vinegar range from the Classic to Balsamic Aceto Balsamico and the wonderful Balsamic Crème varieties. We sampled some great varieties such as Raspberry vinegar,Date vinegar and Kalamansi vinegar.It was interesting to learn that the Crème vinegar have a higher percentage of fruit which makes the flavor more powerful. The blueberry vinegar was indeed a winner for me…and any wonder it has been awarded a three star rating by the International Taste and Quality Institute.

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We then went onto sampling a variety of Oils. These were classified as Extra Virgin Olive Oils, Nut Oils,Seed oils ,Infused Oils and wellness oils.A great tip shared by Kaspers was the anti aging oil mix. This is a combination of Argan oil,grape oil and walnut oil.Furthermore wheat germ oil has some great healing properties especially for damaged skin as it has a high content of vitamin E.

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Crescendo stocks a great range of International spices as well. They are quite a unique  blend and have over 90 different varieties to choose from.

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The session ended with a live cooking demo by Kaspers. Just as well as after having sampled an array of vinegar and Oils it was interesting to see how these could be used in cooking as well.

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A recipe for Chicken Liver with Raspberries:

  • Chicken Liver
  • Raspberries
  • Quail eggs
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sesame seeds
  • Hazelnut Oil
  • Raspberry Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Boil quail eggs and put aside.
  2. Clean and cut the chicken liver into bite size pieces.
  3. Put the liver in a bowl and marinate with raspberry vinegar for 20 minutes,pat dry and roast on a hot pan.
  4. On plates assemble mixed salad leaves with cucumbers and tomatoes with raspberry vinegar and hazelnut oil.
  5. Arrange the chicken liver over the salad leaves and top with the quail eggs.

Great ways to use Oils and Vinegar in your everyday cooking.

What more their bottles come beautifully packaged in elegant bottles and would certainly make great gifts. Do visit them soon.

Crescendo is located in the Souk Madinat Jumeirah on the main level next to Patchi.

Zespri Kiwi: 14 Day Challenge

I recently took on a 14 day Kiwi challenge which is being promoted by Kiwi supplier Zespri. The challenge required me to consume two Kiwi fruit everyday for a period of 14 days and note down the benefits of this during this period.

As a matter of fact I quite love Kiwi fruit and eat it fairly often. So the challenge seemed to be a great one to take on and well-timed too. I’ve been planning a weight loss challenge for a bit now. Apart for the a rigorous exercise regime I also wanted to start off on a fruit diet for breakfast. Some sort of Eat clean and Detox plan.

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And thus began this challenge of eating two Kiwi fruit everyday. I started off with one in the morning  and the other later in the day. I must say I felt absolutely energized and fabulous. More so it seemed to have kick started my weight loss plan. Now while Kiwi may not directly burn fat it has a very high percentage of dietary fiber which aids weight loss. Further more a single Kiwi has just 56 calories…The perfect fruit to snack on.

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This wonderful fruit also has a low glycemic index ranked at just 47 and keeps the sugar levels stable. I feel really motivated as I lost about 2 kilograms of stubborn weight and feel really great.

Friends have noticed a glow on my face and that’s no surprise as this superfood is loaded with Vitamin C which is required by the body to produce collagen which gives skin the youthful glow and firmness. I’d say Kiwi is probably nature’s own Multi vitamin A powerhouse of rich nutrients.

Some More Fun facts About Kiwi fruit

  • Kiwi fruit can improve the function of the immune system as it helps ward off effects of stress, inflammation and attack from bacteria and viruses.
  • Kiwifruit are great to relieve that bloated  and blocked feeling as it is a natural digestive aid.
  • It is also very high in antioxidants and other phytochemicals that fight damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.
  • It is also rich in other vitamins like Vitamin E, folate and potassium.
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Kiwi Pyramid and Fun facts Source: www.Zespri.com

So to sum it up Kiwifruit consistently rank at the top of fruit in nutrition density models which tell us exactly how nutritious food is. That means you get more vitamins and minerals per gram, and per calorie, of kiwifruit than most other fruit. While my favorite way of having Kiwifruit is to just slice it. Here are some other great ways to have this wonderful fruit.

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  • Freshly sliced Kiwi fruit is a great way to jump-start your day
  • Dice them up into a salad and add a twist.
  • Add in some kiwi to yogurt, blend it and make a wonderful smoothie or here is one of the family favorites.

Fluffy Kiwi pancakes
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Fluffy Kiwi Pancakes (6-8)
Ingredients:• 1 ½ cups All-purpose Flour
• 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 cup Milk
• 1 egg
• 3 tablespoons melted butter
• 1 medium kiwi (pureed)
Directions:
1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth. Add in the pureed kiwi fruit.

2. Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Go ahead and start with a Kiwi a day or perhaps two …A bite at a time pays to enjoy delicious kiwi everyday and you will see the benefits…in just 14 days…I sure did!

Disclaimer: I took on this challenge as part of the Zespri Arabia campaign. The program I followed and the benefits are purely my own. Please consult a physician before going on any fruit based or detox plans.  

Furthermore while most content and photographs are my own some of the images and written matter has been adapted from the Zespri website under prior approval.

You may want to learn more about Zespri on :www.facebook.com/ZespriArabia