Monday, January 31, 2011

Banana and Passionfruit Muffins

It is so hot where I am today, but I felt like baking.

I thank Jesus for air-con.

I was really wanting something that would go with a cup of tea. And I always have bananas on hand and these ones were very ripe, so they were perfect for using in cooking.

I wanted something quick and easy, that is practically fool proof, and decided to action muffins! I haven't eaten a muffin in such a long time. Usually they are too sweet and very cake like, I can't stand that, a muffin is not a cake people!!!

Meanwhile my mum is staying with me for a little while, for a well deserved holiday break. My little dog Chuck loves her to pieces. And he must stay glued to her at most times. Including when it is stinking hot! And completely uncomfortable for the human. He seems relaxed, so thats all that matters.....

               Chuck balancing himself on my poor mums neck, while she tries to do a crossword!!

Because of the heat today I wanted a bit of a tropical feel to the muffins. So I added coconut essence and  passionfruit to the banana batter.

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3-1/2 cup sugar, depending on how ripe bananas are
2 eggs beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 banana's mashed
1/2 tin passionfruit
1/2 teaspoon coconut essence

Preheat the oven to 160C. Sift the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl.
Beat the eggs into a smaller bowl, add the oil, bananas, passionfruit and coconut essence, stir until combined. Add the wett to dry ingredients stir until well mixed.

Spoon batter into prepared patty lined muffin tins. The batter made 12 cupcake sized muffins.

Optional: Sprinkle with coconut, and slivered almonds.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Orange and Carrot Spiced Syrup Cake

I had an abundance of oranges, left over from a huge craving that I was having over the weekend!

I knew I wanted to make some sort of citrus cake, moist and gooey citrus cake. So out came the eggs, not really sure where I was going with them.

I added grated carrot, for their sweet flavour as well as keeping the cake nice and moist, even though I was going to soak it in a syrup ;)

Flour, spices, zest and baking powder sifted into a bowl. And before I knew it a cake batter was forming.

I made a large slab cake, but you could halve the recipe to make a tea cake size, around 20 cm.

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 oranges zested
2 carrots grated
2 teaspoons sweet spice mix
1 cup vegetable oil
slivered almonds to sprinkle on top

1 cup sugar
2 oranges juiced
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sweet spice

Preheat the oven to 160C.
Sift all the dry ingredients, except sugar into a large bowl. Add the zest to the same bowl.
Beat the eggs until light and fluffy, add sugar and vege oil.
Turn mixer down to low and slowly add the flour mix and carrot. Quickly turn the mixer off.
Scrap cake batter into a large slab tin. Sprinkle with the slivered almonds. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the syrup. Place all the syrup ingredients into a pot, place on medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Leave the syrup to bubble, for at least 10 minutes, not stirring.

Take the cake out of the oven and prick it all over. Pour the hot syrup evenly over the cake. Let it soak and drink the syrup for at least 30 minutes. You can serve warm with lots of thick cream. Makes a lovely morning tea cake.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Spanakopita (spinach Pie)

spinach pie
My father is greek and when I make this dish it brings back wonderful childhood memories of lots of family, and lots and lots of food on big long tables!

There was nothing better than our big family get together's. We didn't need much of an excuse either. We didn't always wait for Christmas or new years either. We just loved being around each other.

Most of the food was made the previous day or night, spanakoptia, dolmades, a whole marinated and stuffed lamb (that took about 24hours to roast) and lots of cheese, olives, and salads.

I will never forget the smell of that old house. Aniseed, sesames seeds, fried cheese, lemon, cinnamon, oregano, and my yaya's (grandmother's) freshly baked bread. That's just a few smells wafting through the house on our big fat greek get together's. Now everyone had moved or grown up, or sadly passed away.

I hope to start my own big celebrations soon enough, with a little one on the way, I find myself wanting to create these special memories for him/her also.

This is my version of spanakopita. 

2 x 250 grams frozen spinach, you can use fresh spinach
10 shallots
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 bunch fresh dill
250 grams cottage cheese
200 grams feta
200 grams kefalograviera cheese, or you could use parmesan
5 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 sheets filo pastry
100 grams butter melted
salt and pepper

To assemble the pie
1. Chop the shallots, dill and parsley roughly. Put the lot into a fry pan and start to fry in the oil, just on medium heat is fine.
2. Add the frozen spinach. Fry the greens till there is no water left and it is quite dry, do not colour mixture. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 180c. Once you have finished frying, put the mix into a large bowl to cool slightly.
3. Start on the filo pastry. Brush a little melted butter on the bottom of a baking dish and place one filo sheet on top. Brush again with butter and place another sheet of filo, repeat using 6 all together. Keep the remaining sheets of filo covered with a tea towel so they don't dry out.
4. Add the cottage cheese, feta ( just crumble that with your fingers,)  and grated kefalograviera, to the spinach mixture, and give it a good stir. Give it a taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Mix the 5 eggs in a separate bowl and then add them also to the spinach, mixing really well. Put spinach mixture into the pie dish.
6. Place a sheet of filo on top of the mix, then butter. Repeat until all 6 sheets are used. Brush butter on top of the pie. And tuck the edges in, sort of rolling them, it doesn't have to be perfect.
7. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up a little, and the pastry is crispy.

Delicious warm or cold. Even better the next day!