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14/12/2011

||| Chocolate Mince Pies |||

I am not a big fan of mince pies myself and was never tempted to try them out. Discovering these chocolate version kindled me to give mince pies a chance. These chocolate mince pies are a mouthful of amazing flavours. I just love how the rich crunchy chocolate crust contrasts with the zingy mincemeat. Give them a try yourself and impress your guests this Christmas!

Ingredients:


  • 300g plain flour, sifted
  • 125g icing sugar, sifted
  • 50g cocoa powder, sifted
  • pinch salt
  • 200g cold butter/margarine, diced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 500g ready-made mincemeat
  • 2 clementines, zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp milk

Mix the flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt together in a bowl. Mix in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the egg until the mixture comes together in clumps. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Mix the mincemeat, clementine zest and juice together in a bowl.

Remove the pastry from the fridge, and roll out to a thickness of 0.5cm. Using a fluted or round cutter, stamp out discs from the pastry and use them to line a bun tin. Fill each hole with two teaspoons of the mincemeat mixture. Do not put too much mincemeat as it will overflow during baking.

Re-roll any remaining pastry and using a star-shaped cutter, cut out stars and use them to top the mince pies.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked through.

Leave to cool on a wire rack and decorate with a light sprinkle of icing sugar.





24/11/2011

|| Decadent Chocolate & Marshmallow Cupcakes ||


Bite into the subtle crunch of a roasted marshmallow oozing with sweetness and find yourself immersed into a pillow of chocolatey heaven. Chocoholics beware!! This is a cupcake you won't resist.
 Ingredients:
  • 240g dark chocolate
  • 250g butter / margarine
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g sugar
  • 160g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Mini-marshmallows for decoration

Break the chocolate and pop in a microwave-proof bowl together with the butter and put in a microwave for a few seconds until chocolate is just melted. (Alternatively melt on a bowl of simmering water until just melted.)

Cream the eggs and sugar together until foamy.

Add the sifted flour, baking powder, salt, and mix.

Pour in the chocolate mixture and beat until batter is smooth.

Spoon batter into the cupcake cases and bake in a pre-heated oven on Gas mark 4 / 180 degrees celcius for 15 minutes.


Remove the cupcakes from the oven and transfer them to a plate. Place a mini-marshmallow on each cupcake.

Pop the cupcakes under a grill for a few seconds until marshmallows start to brown.


Serving suggestion: These cupcakes are best eaten while still warm. If you are preparing them ahead for a party, leave them to cool without the marshmallow and just grill the marshmallows on top of the cupcake before serving for the best results. Or else just leave out the marshmallows and bake in rose or heart-shaped silicone trays for a different look altogether.

10/11/2011

::: My Chicken Saltimbocca :::

Saltimbocca (Italian: jumps in the mouth) is a dish originally made of veal topped with prosciutto, sage and marinated in white wine. I loved the idea so I tweaked it a bit and came up with my own version. 

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut in half lenghtwise 
  • 4 slices of procciutto crudo 
  • ½ pack of Hanini garlic & herbs spreadable cheeselets (Malta) / Buco cheese / Boursin cheese.. 
  • Rosemary sprigs 
  • ½ cup White wine 
  • Olive oil 
  • Pepper 

Take the 4 peices of chicken breast and flatten with a meat hammer.


Spread some of the cream cheese along the chicken and roll.

Take a slice of prosciutto crudo and wrap it around the rolled chicken. Secure with a toothpick. 


Place the chicken in a heated non-stick pan and drizzle with olive oil. 

Seal chicken on all sides.

Add the wine. It will evaporate and start to thicken into a lovely sauce. 

Add the rosemary sprigs & pepper and cook a further few minutes.


Serving suggestion: Serve with rice & a nice green salad. And I suggest that you go that extra mile and serve it with a bottle of Chablis.


27/10/2011

||| Chocolate & Mint Marble Airplane Cake |||

Yes yes u read right..AIRPLANE cake!! :D I decided to make a surprise for my boyfriend on his return from Florida after getting his PPL (Private Pilot Licence) and I came up with this cake...a scaled down shape of the Cessna 150 plane he flies. (Sounds geeky right?!) Enjoy :)
Ingredients

  • 350g butter / margarine
  • 400g sugar
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 7 eggs
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 150ml milk
  • few drops vanilla extract
  • few drops green food colouring
  • few drops peppermint flavouring

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. 


Beat in eggs one at a time, adding some flour with each. 

Add the milk and divide the mixture into two bowls.

Beat in cocoa and vanilla into one mixture and add green colouring and peppermint to the other mixture.

Line a large cake tin with baking sheet and scoop some of the chocolate mixture in the middle of the tin.

Then scoop some of the mint mixture right on top of the chocolate mixture. Continue to alternate between the two mixtures, always pouring it in the centre right on top of the previous batter. 


This is done in order to achieve that nice zebra effect.

Bake in a pre-heated oven of 180 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit/gas mark 4 for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake come out clean.


Leave the cake to rest for a few minutes and then remove from tin and put it on a wire rack to cool.

Serving suggestion: You can cover the cake with melted chocolate or chocolate icing and decorate with little mint chocolates ORRR opt to transform it into an airplane like I did ;)







05/09/2011

::: Cheese Biscuits :::

These biscuits are so easy to make and are ideal for a Cheese & Wine night with your friends or just as a snack to nibble infront of the TV.

 Ingredients
  • 130g grated Parmesan cheese / or a similar salty cheese 
  • 120g butter
  • 160g flour
  • Chopped rosemary or sesame seeds to garnish

Rub together the butter and flour with your fingertips or in a food processor.

Add the cheese and work into a solid dough.

Form dough into a ball and wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for a few hours.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of 1/2cm of ticker if desired.


Use small biscuit cutters to cut the biscuits and place on a non-stick baking tray.


Garnish biscuits with some chopped rosemary or sesame seeds if desired.

Bake in a pre-heated oven Gas mark 4 for 15 minutes.

After 10 minutes take the biscuits out, flip them and bak for a further 5 minutes.

Cool of a wire tray before serving.


13/08/2011

||| Watermelon & Yogurt Ice |||


 It's mid August..temperatures are up there and everyone's trying to find his own ways to cool down. As watermelons are in season, I decided to make this lovely refreshing slush. If you're searching for a dessert that is light and fresh and is not full of artificial sugars and fats then this is what you need. It's pink and bursting with flavour! What's not to love?
 Ingredients

  • 4 cups watermelon, deseeded (aprox. 1/2 a medium sized watermelon)
  • 1 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used homemade)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or 1/8 cup Tagatesse)
  • 2 drops vanilla essence
  • Mint leaves to garnish.

Put watermelon pieces in the food processor/blender and puree.


Add the yogurt and mix. You can use Vanilla flavoured yogurt instead.


Add the sugar and vanilla and mix again.

You can pass the mixture through a sieve if you want to remove any watermelon pulp but I chose not to.

Place the mixture into a prepared ice cream mixer and mix according to your ice cream mixer directions.

I don't have one so I placed the mixture in a 2 ltr plastic container and put it in the freezer. Every two hours I mixed the ice until it turned into a slushy consistency and placed it back into the freezer.

Take out of the freezer about 15mins before serving.

Serving suggestion: Serve garnished with some mint leaves. The mint leaves a subtle lingering taste which adds to the freshness of this ice. Also if you taste the mixture before freezing you notice how delicious it tastes and I realised it would make an equally awesome refreshing drink!! BAM..two in one recipe :D


27/07/2011

::: Maltese Pasta Salad :::

This Summery fragrant salad is choc-a-block with Maltese goodness. A meal best enjoyed al fresco with some ice-cold Kinnie.

Ingredients:

  • 250g pasta
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • Maltese sausage, chopped
  • 1/2 white dried cheeselet (Gbejna Bajda), cubed
  • 1/2 herb cheeselet (Gbejna Mhawra), cubed
  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large tomato or handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Rosemary sprig

Start cooking the pasta.

Meanwhile fry the Maltese sausage and garlic until the sausage meat changes colour. 

In a large bowl put the cheeselets, tomatoes and add the cooled sausage mixture.

Drain pasta and run under cold water to cool. Add to the bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and some oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and pepper. Combine everything well.

Put a Rosemary sprig on the pasta salad to give flavour and refrigerate.

Serving suggestions: This pasta salad will enhance in flavour while it is in the fridge so it is best prepared ahead of time. Thus this makes it ideal for picnics and work lunches. 
Take the pasta salad out of the fridge 10mins before consuming to avoid that nasty 'fridge taste'. Bring the salad back to life by mixing the lovely juices that are at the bottom of the bowl with he rest of the pasta and add a fresh drizzle of olive oil.



07/06/2011

||| Chocolate Spice Cake |||

It's June! The month of sweet warm Spring weather. So waking up to a gloomy June day made me feel like baking this cake to lift my spirits a bit! The lovely spices in this cake help to create warmth and dept and enhance the chocolate flavour. 
Ingredients:

  • 340g sugar
  • 200g butter / margarine
  • 300g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 240ml milk
  • 25g chocolate chips (optional)
  • Chocolate frosting (optional)

Cream margarine and sugar until fluffy.

Blend in melted chocolate and lightly beaten eggs.


Sieve salt, spices, baking powder and flour and stir in alternatively with the milk.

Place mixture in a greased or non-stick pan.
(I felt like adding some chocolate chips on top of the mixture.)


Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees / gas mark 4 for about 45mins.
Your kitchen should by now be smelling of lovely spices and chocolate :)

Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let to cool.

Once cool you can cover cake with chocolate butter icing.

I decided to cover it with Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy Chocolate Fudge Icing.


30/05/2011

||| Strawberry Cheesecake Ice-cream |||

It's Strawberry season..so lets make the best of these red juicy fragrant fruit while they last! This ice-cream inspired from a cheesecake will surely be a hit with all of you this Summer!
Ingredients:

  • 300g fresh strawberries
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cream
  • Digestive biscuits (optional)

In a food processor puree the strawberries.

Add the sugar, milk, lemon juice and fresh cream and pulse 5 times until well blended. (Should smell divine!)

Add the cream cheese cut into blocks to the mixture and blend until well incorporated.

If you have an ice-cream maker pour ice-cream mixture into machine and follow instructions.

Or else if you don't have an ice-cream maker just pour ice-cream mixture into a plastic container with a lid and pop into the freezer.

After around 2 hours take it out of the freezer and with a spoon mix the half-frozen ice-cream around the edges so that it will all become the same consistency. Put back in the freezer and repeat after 1 hour.

Take out of freezer at east 15 mins before serving.

Place a digestive biscuit at the bottom of your ice-cream bowl and place two scoops of ice-cream on top. Garnish to your liking and enjoy ;)
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