Baked perfection : AUBERGINE AND BROCCOLI PASTA BAKE

IMG_0792IMG_0794

I love adding fresh veggies to my meal, and am constantly on the hunt to find recipes that can incorporate them. Ordinarily I find vegetarian dishes to be a real downer, so I had to pull out the big guns here..cheese! And not just one, but 2 types; Parmesan for the depth of flavour and Mozzarella for the ooey gooey mess. I may be getting a little carried away with the amount of cheese that I’ve used, but I make no apologies for it. Let’s focus on the broccoli instead, shall we?

This sauce that I’ve used for the macaroni is a slight variation of my mom’s go-to tomato sauce recipe for pizzas, and is very reliable in terms of flavour and prep-time. The overall concept of this dish is inspired by an article I came across in the ‘Good Food’ magazine.

Crispy aubergines, gratinated cheese and the slight (very desirable) tanginess of the tomato sauce make this pasta bake a real winner! You don’t know it yet, but you need this recipe in your life. Continue reading

Love at first bite : BERRY FILLED CUPCAKES WITH VANILLA CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

I ended up engaging in some “insider trading” of my own with these cupcakes, by scooping out the center and filling it with a gooey mixed-berry preserve. Seeing that it was Martha Stewart’s recipe, I just HAD to point out the irony! (Read : Martha Stewart – Insider trading scandal)

Personally, I think a good cupcake is glorious in its own right. Having said that though, this one takes that just a tad further into addictive cupcake territory; the love-child of a gooey lava cake and a cupcake, this recipe is going to knock your socks off every.single.time.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s ‘Vanilla cupcakes’, the changes that I made are pretty straight forward – I reduced the amount of sugar to ¾ of a cup from the said 1 cup, and of course added the delectable mixed-berry filling. I have to mention here that I only got 9 cupcakes out of this quantity. The size of the mould used was not mentioned, so I’m guessing the difference was probably due to this (mine were slightly bigger than fairy cakes)

Since the luscious berry filling adds a certain amount of richness to the cake, I decided to go with a simple vanilla cream cheese frosting. You could very well use a butter-cream icing or any other topping of your choice, really.

Apart from adding a different dimension to the flavour profile, the filling actually makes this somewhat of a gourmet piece! You definitely want to flaunt this one in your repertoire. Continue reading

The ‘grater’ of two evils : MAC & CHEESE WITH BACON, MUSHROOMS AND PEPPERS

IMG_0644

I think I had you at bacon, right?

This is not the typical mac & cheese that you may have grown up eating, but I can assure you that it’s got every bit of that gooeyness and flavour that is synonymous with it. I can safely say that this version is way simpler too – no fussy béchamel sauce, cheese custard making etc.,

The first step involves frying the bacon bits and setting it aside until it’s called for later. THIS is my favourite part of the recipe – the bacon juices that collect at the bottom of the pan – liquid gold. It makes for the most incredible base flavour that permeates through the sauce and gets absorbed by all the mushrooms, peppers and onions. Almost poetic?!

The smokiness from the bacon counteracts the cheese beautifully and elevates all of its flavours. I can’t think of making this dish without the chillies, and I would strongly recommend that you leave it in, unless of course you are completely spice intolerant.

I’d like to give my mom credit for the inspiration behind this little wonder. Even though I’ve made it a few times now giving it my own twists from time to time, I know I can follow her recipes to a tee and it’ll come out just perfect!

This Mac and cheese has comfort food written all over it. Try it once and you’ll keep getting bac-on it! Continue reading

Greekin’ out : SPANAKOPITA

IMG_0674IMG_0681IMG_0679IMG_0682

Hunting for a recipe to match the image in my head is the hardest challenge, but oh-so worth it in the end! This is one such story..

Spanakopita literally translates to spinach pie; it is a Greek dish that comes in a myriad of shapes and sizes, the most common being in pie-form or as triangular parcels. Although traditionally served encased in layers of crispy phyllo dough, this recipe is a variation using puff pastry. There is just something so satisfying about waiting for the pastry to crisp up and turn golden brown, and that for me makes even an ordinary meal feel like a real celebration!

This recipe follows the general principle that I go by, and that could only mean one thing – it can be varied in a multitude of ways by the addition/omission of ingredients. Loosely based on Sara Clevering’s take on this Greek classic, I used a combination of red onion AND a few sprigs of spring onions (I retained the tops of these and added them to the filling too), added a dash of olive oil to the butter, and used a 200 gram packet of Feta instead of the 170 grams that’s in her recipe. I liked her version of using one large pastry sheet and treating it like a calzone, but I used 2 separate sheets instead. I added 3 cloves of garlic to the onion mixture too (spinach and no garlic? no way) Also, no dill.

The store-bought puff pastry sheets that I have access to only come in one size; the small rectangular ones. That would have worked just fine for the small parcels, but what I had in mind was one big crumbly pie and that’s exactly what I set out to achieve. I rolled out four of the sheets together, slightly overlapping each other until I had one large pastry that I could use. Mission accomplished.

I made a simple Greek salad with cherry tomatoes, onions and fresh parsley tossed in an apple cider & extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette as an accompaniment. The acidity from the tomatoes cut through the richness of the dish perfectly. Spanakopita can be served as an hors d’oeuvre or as a main course; I ate the leftovers for breakfast too! Ain’t no shame. Continue reading