Healthy Oatmeal Pancakes

Pancakes are without a doubt the top breakfast in our house. I try to vary the recipes for interest, but appear to have found an unexpected winner in a wholemeal-oatmeal combination. This pancake’s popularity is a sum of how frequently the family demands it and the alacrity with which it disappears from their plates. The fact that I could make it half asleep, blindfolded, in my pajamas and sans fancy kitchen tools, is beside the point.

There have been numerous experiments with varying permutations and combinations of plain flour, wholemeal flour, soy flour, sugar, sweetener, milk, yoghurt, whole eggs, egg whites, bran and oatmeal, as well as the vacation flirtations with boxed pancake mixes.

The latter, I note with smug parental satisfaction, my children have left half eaten after the initial (almost insulting) enthusiasm. Needless to say the ingredients lists of the mixes were often unending and included copious amounts of sodium and sugar. It’s also hard not to question the need for the canary-yellow food colouring.

  • Oats, old fashioned and plain, 1 cup
  • Wholemeal flour, 1 cup
  • Eggs, 2, beaten
  • Milk, about 2 cups
  • Salt and sugar, pinch of, each
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  1. Combine all together with a whisk
  2. Pour onto preheated nonstick pan by ladlefuls
  3. Flip over when done or golden brown on one side
  4. Serve immediately with fresh fruit or jam or maple syrup. Mmmm!


December 29, 2008. Tags: , . Breakfast, Brunch, Kids Cuisine. Leave a comment.

Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Mustard

Nothing like a nice roast leg of lamb to get one into the holiday spirit. This recipe is relatively hands off and leaves me room to bake pies (even, dare I say, alongside) the lamb, which turned out succulent, tender and full of rosemary-infused flavour. A definite crowd pleaser!

  • whole leg of lamb, about 3.5kg or 8-9 lbs
  • rosemary, many sprigs of
  • seeded mustard, 2 heaped tbsp
  • honey, 3-4 tbsp
  • garlic cloves, 8, chopped
  • lemon juice, 2 tbsp
  • balsamic vinegar, 1/4 cup
  • canola or olive oil, 3 tbsp
  • coarse salt, 2 tsp
  • pepper, many grinds of
  • ground coriander, 1 heaped tsp
  • ground cummin, 1 heaped tsp
  1. The meat may be marinated overnight or cooked immediately (as I did with no sacrifice to its taste or texture)
  2. Preheat the oven to 450F or 220C
  3. Cut some shallow slits all over the top of the meat
  4. Insert the rosemary sprigs into these little slits
  5. Whisk the marinade ingredients together and pour over the lamb, using your hands to make sure everything gets everywhere
  6. Make a foil tent for the lamb and cover the dish
  7. Place in oven, roast for 20 mins at 450F
  8. Turn the temperature down to 400F for a further hour, basting occasionally
  9. Toward the last 15 mins, add some chopped up carrots around the roast
  10. After the full hour, remove the foil tent, bake for another 15 mins
  11. You may turn the oven off afterwards and let the lamb rest in there for 10 mins
  12. Remove from the oven, allow to rest outside for 10-15 mins before serving
  13. The roast lamb’s juices may be used to make a gravy. Pour some into a pan with 1 tbsp corn flour mixed with 3 tbsp stock, a grate of lemon zest and fresh sprigs of rosemary. Whisk till it thickens, taste, season, sieve if needed, and serve with the meat
  14. Serve with vegetables, latkes if you like, with blackberry-almond tart for dessert.

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December 27, 2008. Tags: . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Almond and Blackberry Tarts

My favourite pastries seem to have ground almonds in them. This one is also buttery and bakes to picturesque perfection.

This recipe, dare I say, is rather too good to share with the entire world 😀 Those of you who are keen to know more may reach me through this blog. Happy Christmas!

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December 25, 2008. Tags: , . Baked Goods, Desserts, Festive. Leave a comment.

Quick Fish Sandwich

We go through a small pond of fish every week in this household. One of the boys’ favourite sandwiches is what they call a fish burger – basically some fish I’ve breaded, baked and thrown between a burger bun or wholemeal bread for them. An easy kiddy meal to put together 😉

  • Fish fillet, 1 (tilapia, haddock, cod, salmon)
  • Soy sauce, 2 tbsp
  • Honey, 1 tbsp
  • Egg, 1, whisked
  • Breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup
  • Wholemeal bread, 4 slices
  • Baby spinach, handful, washed
  • Mayonaise, as required
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C
  2. Whisk the honey and soy sauce together and dip the fish in it
  3. Then dip in egg and finally, coat in breadcrumbs
  4. Place on greased sheet, spritz with Pam and bake for 13 mins
  5. Lightly toast the bread, spread with some mayo
  6. Layer the spinach onto it, followed by the breaded fish
  7. Luscious and delicious, what’s not to like?

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December 23, 2008. Tags: , . Asian, Fish, Kids Cuisine, Mains, One-dish meals. 1 comment.

Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

I have scoured e-newspapers, websites and Jewish cook books to see if anyone has dared stray from the latke recipes handed down for, who knows, how many hundreds of years. The answer seems to be No.

The word ‘latke,’ for potato pancake, is Yiddish and it is thought that it originated from Russia or Germany. Before Jewish emigration to the US in the early 1900s, it is said that the latke’s main ingredient was cheese and not potato, a relatively recent introduction to Europe. Rice was also said to have been used instead of cheese.

And so we come to this recipe. Being unable to follow the crowd, never having eaten a latke whose recipe I was curious to know and not being content that the plain flouring of grated potato is the best festive treatment for this vegetable, this is my version of the much-loved Hanukkah treat.

Tradition mandates that one eats lots of fried food during Hanukkah’s eight days to commemmorate the Miracle of the Oil. If you’re lucky, doughnuts might be on the menu later this week 😉

  • potatoes, 3 large
  • onions, 3 medium
  • green chili, one, chopped finely
  • ginger, 1 tsp
  • garlic, 1 tsp
  • cummin seeds, 1 1/2 tsp, toasted
  • coriander leaves, 1 handful, chopped finely
  • eggs, 2, beaten
  • plain flour, 2-3 tbsp
  • salt, about 2 tsp
  • pepper, a few grinds of

  1. Peel the potatoes, grate them and soak in very cold water
  2. Change the water a few times, drain and keep aside to dry out
  3. Peel the onions and chop or mince in a food processor
  4. Fry the onions, garlic, ginger, chili and cummin in a pan. Keep aside
  5. Combine flour, potato, onion mixture, eggs, salt, pepper and flour
  6. Preheat a large pan of canola oil (filling about 1/3 of the pan)
  7. Drop the potato mixture by tablespoonfuls into the oil, over medium heat
  8. Cook the cakes about 3 minutes a side, or till golden brown
  9. Remove with slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil
  10. Serve immediately with sour cream or apple sauce. Or Thai chilli sauce if you like going against the grain!

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December 22, 2008. Tags: , . Hanukkah, Jewish, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian. 4 comments.

Vanilla-White Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

My children were keen that I bake cupcakes and soon. Here’s what we whipped up on this frosty, snowstormy afternoon.

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 250g castor sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • salt, pinch
  • cream, 2-3 tbsp
  • white chocolate chips, a handful

  1. Preheat oven to 420F or 200C
  2. Cream butter and sugar together till fluffy and white
  3. Sift flour and baking soda into the mixture
  4. Add all the other ingredients and whizz together till combined
  5. Fold the white chocolate chips into the batter
  6. Grease some paper cupcake liners in a muffin tray and drop the mixture into them, one icecream scoop at a time, till about 3/4s full
  7. Bake for 13-14 mins
  8. This amount yields about 24 cupcakes

For the icing:

  • butter, softened, about 3/4 stick (90g)
  • icing sugar, 2-3 heaped cups
  • whipping cream, 2-3 tbsp
  • vanilla essence, a few drops
  • red gel food colouring, one drop

  1. Cream all together till fluffy, thick and relatively stiff
  2. Pipe into a bag with a round nozzle or jagged one and
  3. Ice as you fancy. Enjoy!

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December 21, 2008. Tags: . Baked Goods, Cakes, Cupcakes, Kids Cuisine. Leave a comment.

Mince Pies

This is the second fiddly recipe in a row but I couldn’t hold back – homemade mince pies are ever so yummy. I present a mini version because mincemeat is rather rich and they look sweet this way. These are a British festive offering, and the word ‘meat’ is reflective of the fact that traditionally, the filling contained suet, or raw beef or mutton fat.

Here, I don’t use any fat at all in the filling (because I clean forgot the butter!) but it has turned out beautifully. Many mince pie recipes use raisins, apples and spices but I include other flavours that I adore (citrus elements, ginger, dates, almonds, molasses). I omit the traditional rum because Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year are almost upon us – I won’t need the liquor to help these babies mature. In any case, they won’t last more than a day in this household!

For the filling:

  • raisins, 350g
  • Granny Smith apples, 2, skinned and grated
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • rind of same orange, chopped and cooked in simple syrup for ten minutes
  • candied lemon peel, 100g
  • candied red cherries, handful of, chopped
  • dried apricots, 80g, chopped
  • dates, 100g, chopped
  • ginger, fresh and grated, 3 tsp
  • brown sugar, 3/4 cup
  • molasses, 2 tbsp
  • orange juice, 3/4 cup
  • sliced almonds, 1/4 to 1/2 cup
  • ground cinnamon, 2-4 tsp
  • ground nutmeg, 2-3 tsp
  • butter, 50g (or not as the case may be)
  • rum, 2-3 tbsp (optional)
  1. Bung them all into a large pan and cook for about 25 mins, stirring occasionally
  2. The filling is done when the peels, apricot and raisins are soft and plumped up and everything has come together in a sticky, glossy mass
  3. Preheat the oven to 425F or 190C

For the pastry:

  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 220-240g cold butter, cubed
  • cold water, as needed
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour and salt and pulse a few times
  2. Add the cubed butter and pulse till it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. Slowly add water by tablespoonfuls till pastry comes together
  4. Remove from processor and pat by hand into three or four discs, encase in plastic wrap and allow to rest in fridge for 10-20 minutes
  5. Remove the discs from the fridge and roll out on a floured clean surface till thin and pliable. I hardly needed flour as this dough isn’t sticky
  6. Use round, metal pastry cutters to cut out circles
  7. Place these in a greased (mini) tart pan
  8. Fill with mincemeat, then cut out stars or whatever shape you like for the tops
  9. Brush with egg, sprinkle with sugar crystals (the bigger the more attractive)
  10. Bake for 15 minutes till golden or slightly brown at the edges
  11. Hide them from the family if necessary!

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December 20, 2008. Tags: , . Baked Goods, British, Desserts, Festive, winter. Leave a comment.

How to Make Thai Green Curry

That was a long wait for Part II, wasn’t it? Any Thai curry, pungent in aroma and a cacophony of flavours, is usually worth it. Besides, that recipe for the curry paste was hanging about with no closure and I need to get it out of the way before the holiday items make their appearance. Accept my apologies please and don’t be shy about licking that pan clean. That sounds ludicrous but it’s exactly what one of our friends did during an infamous dinner party some years ago 🙂

  • Garlic, 6 cloves, sliced
  • Lime leaves, about 6
  • Lemon grass, 2 sticks each cut in half (no ends)
  • Thai holy basil, several stalks of
  • Galangal, four or five thick slices of
  • Fish sauce, 2 tbsp
  • Brown sugar, 1-2 tsp
  • Coconut cream, 1/2 cup
  • Canola oil, 2 tbsp
  • Chicken, fish or beef, diced, about 200g (2 fillets)
  • Green curry paste (click on the title for details) – 1 tbsp
  • Stock or water, 1/2 cup
  • Green aubergines, small ones – three of them, cubed
  • Lemon juice of about 1/3 lemon
  • Optional – for added heat, add 2 chopped chillies
  1. In a pan, saute the garlic till fragrant and add the curry paste
  2. In a separate pan, warm up the coconut cream. Do not boil
  3. Add the coconut cream to the curry paste mixture, stir till it thickens
  4. Add fish sauce, galangal, lemon grass, sugar and allow to simmer
  5. Throw in the diced chicken, fish or beef
  6. Add lime leaves, basil, stock and aubergines
  7. Take off the heat when the meat is cooked. If you’re using fish, this will take just a few minutes.
  8. For added richness, add a few tablespoons of cream!
  9. Remove solid bits of lemon grass, galangal and unwieldy bits of herbs if necessary before serving
  10. Further vegetables may be added when the meat goes in – try courgette/zucchinni, peas, pea aubergines, red or green peppers, sweet potatoes
  11. This amount will feed 2-4 people

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December 19, 2008. Tags: . Asian, Dinners, Fish, Herbs, Mains, One-dish meals, Soups, Thai, Vegetables. Leave a comment.