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Pineapple, peach and mint smoothie

Mix and match

pineapple-peach-mint-smoothie-logo

fresh-mintPineapple, peach and mintpeach-pineapple-smoothie-glass

There are two types of peaches – “Freestone” and “Clingstone”. Freestone peaches have flesh that slips easily away from the pit. Clingstones are just the opposite of freestone and are quite a pain because the fruit tenaciously clings to the stone or pit. To tell when a peach is ready to be picked is a skill of sight, smell and touch. A good tip that you can count on is to carefully study the cleft of the fruit where the branch ends, if it doesn’t have any shade of green left on the skin then it’s an indication it’s ready for picking. And we picked quite a lot of peaches I had to make smoothies. They ripen very quickly.

 

Recipe
100 grams Fresh pineapple
75 ml Pear or apple juice/concentrate – no added sugar
2 to 3 Mint leaves
1 Peach
3 to 4 dates
Method

1. Prepare the pineapple and cut into small chunks.

2. Wash the mint leaves.

3. Put all the ingredients together to fill half the mixer.

4. Pour apple or pear juice all the way up to the maximum line of the mixer.

5. Blend everything until smooth.

6. Serve immediately with some ice cubes.

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Pineapple & Kale Smoothie

Refreshing!

glass-pineapple-kale-smoothie-combo2

This recipe basically incorporates a combination of three world’s healthiest food – pineapple, ginger and kale. Pineapples are packed with the enzyme bromelian, a natural potent anti-inflammatory which plays a major role in the body’s healing process. Ginger has anti-inflammatory compounds as well as anti-bacterial for the immune system. Kale is filled with powerful anti-oxidants and is very good for your bone formation helping to prevent osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. The dates are natural sweeteners and the coconut water is a good hydrating base as it contains electrolytes . If you cannot find coconut water, you can substitute with natural pear or papaya juice without any added sugar.

 

pineapple-kale-smoothie

pineapple-kale-smoothie

I learnt this recipe originally from Whole Foods during a live demonstration. What I love so much about this smoothie is the hint of fresh ginger which imparts a little warmth in the mouth. I was so surprised to learn that coconut is now the health food, and soy has been demoted! That’s all because of large scale agriculture of genetically modified food. At one time, coconut was deemed as unhealthy because of the saturated fat content, which ounce for ounce surpasses butter. And now, there are so many health secrets discovered in coconut! But I guess as with all things excessive amount isn’t good for you.

 

Recipe
1/2 fresh pineapple, chopped into chunks
2 cups Baby kale leaves
7 Organic dates
Coconut water (and if you cannot find coconut water you may substitute it with papaya, pear or apple juice).
1 inch slice fresh root ginger
1 cup Ice cubes

 

Method

1. Make sure the baby kale leaves are washed and drained.

2. You can use a bit of the core of the pineapple.

3. Layer your smoothie blender with the pineapple, kale, dates and a small section of root ginger and pour in the coconut water or papaya juice.

4. Blend  everything.

5. You can decide what proportions of ingredients you want in your smoothie. Generally I would use lots of pineapple because of its sweetness and less of the kale and perhaps only a couple of dates.

Serve with ice cubes.

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Quick Pickled Chillies

Quick pickled chillies
to spice things up a bit!

Quick pickled chilliesquick pickled chillies

Apparently, eating chillies releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers. This is why people get addicted to them even though they burn (both ends). Chillies are also known to raise metabolic rate which helps burn calories.  Chillies are reported to help lower blood pressure and have even been implicated to fight against cancer. Pickling is a great way to preserve the chillies without altering too much of its original form like drying or freezing. Chillie pickle makes a great tasty condiment and being brought up in the Far East,  I love chillies even for breakfast!

 

Recipe
20-30 small Green or red chillies
2 Cups white wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp raw cane sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt

 

Method

1. Slice the chillies into thin rounds. If you don’t want the heat, remove all the seeds.

2. In a little jar, fill with the chillies.

3. In a separate container mix the white wine vinegar with the raw sugar and salt.

4. Make enough to fill up the jar of chillies.

5. You can start eating as soon as you like but they taste better as time goes on.

6. Store in the fridge.

 

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Coleslaw with olives and apples

AUTUMN
Coleslaw with olives and applesColeslaw with apples and olives

Today is one of those days I fall in the “I don’t know what to cook” frame of mind. So my husband kindly offered to make pizza. While he prepared the dough in the bread machine, which seemed easy, I rummaged through the near empty fridge and found half a cabbage. So coleslaw popped into my head naturally. With just a few simple ingredients, we made a nice side coleslaw with apples and olives.

P.S. The quantity I provide below is just a rough guide. Add more or less to suit your own taste buds.

Recipe
  • 1/4 White cabbage
    Black olives pitted and halved
    1 Red apple, chopped
    2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
    1 Tablespoons Olive oil
Method

1. Wash and slice cabbage into thin shreds.

2. Pour in olive oil and mayonnaise and mix well. Start with 2 tbsp of mayonnaise and increase the amount if necessary so the cabbage has a nice creamy flavor.

3. Cut the apples into nice little cubes.

4. Finally, add the olives and apples to the coleslaw.

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Stuffed cherry peppers with prosciutto & mozzarella

IMG_7129 copy

 

Perfect with a glass of wine while watching the sun set

Cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto & mozzarella

Simple pleasures are the best things in life

Stuffed peppers with mozzarella cheese and prosciutto ham marinated in olive oil taste delicious. However, cherry peppers are pretty hard to find in supermarkets and you have to scout around for them in local farm shops.

stuffed_cherry_peppers_in_olive_oilIf you want an instagram worthy jar, pack the peppers tightly
Recipe
5-10 cherry peppers, stems, seeds, and core removed
1 package proscciuto ham cut into 2 inch strips by 1 inch
1 inch mozzerella cubes
1 cup warm olive oile
Method

1. Cut the end of the pepper off.

2. With a melon scooper, scoop out the seeds and flesh of the pepper.

3. Cut the mozzarella cheese into small pieces.

4. Stuff the white cheese into the cavity of the pepper, pack in as much as you can but leave some room at the top.

5. Cut a small piece of the prosciutto ham, roll it into a neat ball and press into into the remaining space at the top of the pepper.

6. Pack the peppers tightly into an empty jar.

7. Fill up with olive oil.

8. Enjoy or put the lid on and store in the refrigerator.

9. I feel they are best eaten on the day but they can be stored up to three weeks.

10. Before serving, let it warm up to room temperature.

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Potato nests with cheddar and ham

potato_nests
Little potato nests

These enchanting little potato nests are baked in a muffin tin. The hardest thing about them is making sure the potatoes are cooked just right without burning the rest of the ingredients. I turned the heat down mid-way through cooking, to about 300°F  but on hindsight, I probably could get away with a silver foil loosely placed over the top and then removed for the last 10 minutes. I do like having this with salad and sour cream; there’s just something lovely about potatoes and sour cream combination.

Recipe
  • 1.1 Lbs (500g) potatoes
    1 package Ham or turkey ham
    Grated cheddar cheese
    Sour cream
Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F

2. Peel the potatoes.

3. Using a Julienne blade or Mandolin slicer, grate the potatoes to match stick sizes.

4. Coat the potatoes in a little oil.

5. Grease the muffin pan.

6. put the potato sticks in the muffin holes.

7. Place the meat on top of the potato nests and top with grated cheese.

8. Cover with a piece of silver foil loosely for 15 minutes.

9. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

10. Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce.

11. Top with a generous dollop of sour cream.

making potato nests

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Decorate Your Soap Dispenser

Hand decorated soap dispenser

Hand decorated soap dispenser

 

Materials
An empty hand wash dispenser
Old nail polish
sticker adhesive remover
Cocktail stick or fine paint brush
Method

1. Choose a well ventilated place to carry out this project.

2. Peel all labels off and remove any sticky glue with warm soapy water or such as Goo-Gone.

3. Make sure surface is clean and dry.

4. Use a fine painting brush but this pattern is done with a cocktail stick and use the nail polish to paint on your design.

5. Allow to dry for at least 1 hour before use.

 

green-soap-dispenser

 

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Salmon cooked in shortcrust pastry

Salmon cooked in shortcrust pastry with mushroom sauce
Fish pockets

Salmon in pastry

Anything to do with pastry seems intimidating but don’t let it put you off, you can purchase ready rolled pastry and it works equally well. The real work is producing the parcel, which must be sealed and crimped properly at the edges to prevent juice from leaking out. It is advisable to make a couple of tiny slits on the top to let steam escape during cooking. This helps prevent pressure buildup and cracking the pastry. To be well organized, you can prepare the pastry and sauce a day in advance.

 

RECIPE
10.6 Ounces (300 grams) All purpose flour
5.2 Ounces (150 grams) Cold butter, diced
3 to 4 Tablespoons icy water
1 Egg
4, 1/4 lb fresh salmon fillets

 

Method
1 Medium size white onion
1/4 Cup white plain flour
1/2 Pack of bella mushrooms washed and chopped – about 4 oz or 114 g
2 Cups of water
1 Cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 Cup heavy cream
1 small chicken stock cube (free of msg)

Prepare pastry

1. If you have bought frozen pastry, you would need to defrost according to instruction.

2. In a food processor, put the cubed butter and flour together. Pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. While the food processor is running, slowly add the icy water until it gathers into a pastry.

4. The dough shouldn’t be sticky or crumbly.

5. Remove and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour.

Prepare the mushroom sauce

1. Saute the slice onions in a little olive or sunflower oil for about 10 minutes.

2. Put in the chopped mushrooms, water, flour and let the mixture cook for about 20 minutes.

3. When the mixture is slightly reduced, mix in the grated cheese and cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly.

4. Just before removing from the heat, pour in the thick cream.

5. The sauce should be cooled down completely before using.

Make the parcel

1. Preheat the oven to 370°F.

2. Remove pastry from the fridge.

3. Roll the pastry out to about 1/4 inch thick.

4. Make a rectangle shape and trim the edges.

5. Place your salmon piece at the end and put the mushroom sauce on top.

6. Fold over the pastry and crimp the edges with a fork, pressing hard.

7. Gently lift the parcel and place on a greased baking tray.

8. Make two tiny slits on the top, about an inch long each.

9. Brush the outside of the pastry with beaten egg.

10. Put the whole parcel in the preheated oven and cook for about 40 minutes.

11. Your pastry should be nice and golden.

12. The remainder of the mushroom sauce can be heated up and serve with the dish.

 

Salmon cooked in shortcrust pastry with mushroom sauceSalmon cooked in shortcrust pastry with mushroom sauce
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Vanilla sponge marble cake

Vanilla sponge marble cake
CAKE

Vanilla sponge marble cake

What better aromatherapy than the aroma of chocolate filling your kitchen! If you’ve never made a marble cake before, this is quite an easy recipe to adopt. Originally for cupcakes, it is slightly modified to make one batch of vanilla mix which can divided in half for the alternate chocolate part. To create the marble effect, use a spatula. Create free flowing chocolate swirls by moving your arm around in figure-8’s. Also, the sponge on it’s own tends to be a little dry so we introduced crème fraîche but if you have problem finding that stuff, a pot of plain yogurt will do.

Recipe
3.88 Ounces (110g) Salted or unsalted butter – softened at room temperature
7.94 Ounces (225g) Castor sugar
2 Large eggs
5.29 ounces (150g) Self-raising flour
4.41 Ounces (125g) Plain or all purpose flour
1/2 Cup (120ml) Whole milk
2.65 Ounces (75g) Creme fraiche
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
4 tablespoons Coca powder
2 tablespoons Milk

 

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 350F.

2. Grease an 8-inch round baking tin with butter or vegetable oil.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs one at a time while the mixer is running.

5. In a different bowl combine the flours.

6. In a jug, mix the milk and vanilla extract.

7. Add 1/3 flour to the butter mixture (step 3).

8. Add 1/3 of the milk to the butter mixture.

9. Repeat step 7 and 8 until all ingredients are incorporated. Be careful not to over mix or risk getting a tough cake.

10. Put 1/2 of the cake batter into the greased tin.

11. With the remaining batter mix in 1/3 cup of cocoa power, two tablespoons of milk and Creme Fraiche.

12. Place small dollops of the cocoa batter on top of the vanilla batter and use a decorating spatula or a butter knife to create swirls throughout the cake for the marble effect.

13. Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes.

 

Marble cake mixtureMarbles cake mixture

 

Marble cake

The finished cake
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Green beans – cook or kill!

Green Bean Photography
GREEN Kitchen BEANS

Green Bean PhotographyGreen beans are some of the healthiest vegetables around. Apart from being rich in fiber, they are a good source of vitamins A, C and K and the mineral manganese needed for skin, bone, cartilage formation as well as glucose tolerance. So don’t kill your green beans, be kind to them.

 

Green Bean Photography The best way to cook green beans is to cook them fast and quick over a short period of time to help preserve their goodness. I understand some like their beans mushy but remember heat alters the nature of things. The less you cook them the better for you.

Method

1. Fill pot with just enough water to cover the top of the green beans.

2. Add a teaspoon of olive oil in the water.

3. Bring water to boil and boil just for five to eight minutes and no more.

4. Drain water or save it to make gravy.

5. Season with pepper.

6. A knob of butter or dash of soya sauce will make them go down really well.

 

How to cook green beans

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A fruit fly vinegar trap

FRUIT’S GOT FLIES?
how to make a fruit fly vinegar trap

They say flies can process a vast amount of information about motion and movement in their environment in real time – a complexity that beats even the computer. So, metaphorically a fly can accomplish greater movement in life than we human beings because they can go so fast. Their puny little brains process information in fractions of a second, predict the impending threat and map out a good escape plan. That’s why those pesky little things are so hard to swat! So, here’s a lesson – if you want to get rid of fruit flies, try this vinegar trap. It may not eradicate every single fruit fly you currently have and certainly not instantly, but if you leave it overnight you’ll see some great results. The other option is get rid of the rotten fruit in your kitchen!

 

Materials
2 tablespoons Balsamic or cider vinegar
5-10 drops Washing up liquid
Cling film
A glass jar
Cocktail stick

 

Method

1. Make up 1 inch of vinegar with 1 teaspoon of washing up liquid in the glass jar.

2. Wrap cling film tightly round jar opening.

3. Pierce cling film with a sharp cocktail stick.

4. Place jar where the fly infestation is.

5. Watch the result!

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Homemade Sushi

The Joy of sushi
SUSHI
homemade shushi with chirizoHomemade sushi with Fratelli Beretta but you can use chirozo. Delicious garnished with cilantro or fresh coriander leaves and dipped in soy sauce.

 

When making sushi you’ve to be prepared for a major de-ricing operation. You get rice stuck on your hair, socks, clothes, kitchen counters, and even your dog. It’s a nightmare but it’s great fun with kids.

Back to school lunch box with sushi

Sushi with omelette, carrots and avocados. Ideal for lunch boxes.
Sushi rice
2 cups Sushi grade rice
2¼ cups Cold water
2 tsp Rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Hot water
1 Packet nori sheets made with seaweed

2 Carrots peeled and cut into thin strips
1 Avocado peeled and cut into thin segments
Soya sauce and wasabi for dipping
Equipment
  • Sushi mat
    A pair of good hands
Method for the rice

1. Use 2 cups of water to 2 cups of rice.

2. Do not wash the rice.

3. Bring the rice to a boil with the lid closed.

4. Quickly lower the heat and let the rice simmer until all the water is gone, about 20 minutes.

5. Turn the heat off and let the rice cool.

6. DO NOT TAKE THE LID OFF AT ANY POINT.

7. Meantime, dissolve the sugar in 1/3 cup hot water and pour in the vinegar. Stir well.

8. When the rice has cooled, pour the sugar and vinegar solution and coat the rice well by mixing with a wooden spoon.

Now you’re ready for the sushi adventure.

 

Sushi for school lunch box

Here’s a good video to show how to roll a shushi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swGJ2dIu9XE

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Melt-in-the-mouth pineapple tarts

Pineapple Jam Tart
PINEAPPLE
Pineapple Jam TartPineapple tart

I grew up in Singapore and every Chinese New Year I looked forward to my aunty’s pineapple tarts. They are simply the best. Her recipe is also a well guarded secret. I did get hold of her recipe once but stupidly I lost it. I was eighteen year old then. My daughter had a chance to visit Singapore in 2013, to see her grandma, uncle and relatives. Amongst the many things, she was fascinated with the pineapple tarts that my aunty made. When we came home to America she made a point to look up for pineapple tart recipes. She found many versions on the internet but this is the one she adopted and improvised with great success.

Pineapple Tarts

Made from sweet honey pineapples, the flesh is grated rather than blended, and then boiled down to a thick jam using a right quantity of sugar.

 

Pineapple TartsHomemade strawberry jam and pineapple tarts

The fibrous content of the pineapple gives the jam it’s lovely body shape. As you can see, the strawberry ones look like sunken ships.

 

Pineapple tart cooke cuttie

Mini tart cookie cutter

There’s no substitute for the real thing but try this trick of using crushed pineapples… from a tin. The cooking time is obviously drastically reduced. Taste wise, the cookies are fabulous!

p.s. if you cannot find a pineapple tart cutter, just improvise. You can make tart cases freehand and just fill them up with jam.

 

Shortcrust pastry
  • 10.58 Ounces (300 grams) All purpose flour
    5.64 Ounces (160 grams) Chilled salted butter, dice
    3 to 4 Tablespoons icy cold water

pineapple-tarts-cases

A picture speaks a thousand words!

 

Method

1. In a food processor, pulse the flour and chilled butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2. While the food processor is running, slowly add 1 tbsp of water at a time until the mixture forms a dough.

3. Take the pastry out of the food processor and gather the dough into a ball.

4. Wrap pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Pineapple jam ingredients
14 Oz (400g) of crushed pineapple in juice from a tin
¼ cup of packed light brown sugar
Method

1. Cook the tin pineapple with the brown sugar over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the moisture has almost completely evaporated.

2. Be careful not to burn the mixture.

3. Allow mixture to cool totally before making the tarts.

4. To make the tarts, simply take the chilled pastry out and let it warm up slightly in room temperature for about 2 minutes.

5. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry to about ¼ inch in thickness.

6. Use a tart pastry cutter and cut out the shapes and fill with the pineapple jam.

7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 350°F.

 

pineapple-tarts-cases

pineapple-tarts

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Garlic bread knots made with olive oil

Garlic Bread Knots
BREAD KNOTS
Garlic Bread Knots

These garlicky things won’t send your kisser away – they’re so moorish! Garlic bread knots made with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped baby spinach.

Making the dough
3½ Cups all purpose flour
2 Teaspoons salt
1 Teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1⅓ Cups of warm water (110°F)
1/4 ounce (7 grams) dry yeast
Method

1. Mix together water and yeast. Let sit for 3 minutes.

2. Mix dry ingredients and olive oil.

3. Add wet mixture to flour mixture

4. Mix all ingredients together.

5. Knead for 10 minutes.

6. Oil a bowl and put dough in and cover with cling flim for 10 minutes.

7. Remove from fridge, roll out a rectangle and cut into strips.

8. Tie each strip loosely into a knot, stretching gently if necessary and place on lightly greased tray.

9. Bake in preheated oven at 375°F for 20 minutes.

Dressing ingredients
Olive oil
1 Garlic clove, grated
1/4 cup Fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
Method

1. Crush the garlic clove.

2. Wash, rinse and finely chop the spinach leaves.

3. Warm the olive oil and mix together the crushed garlic and chopped spinach.

4. Finally, pour over the garlic dough balls and coat well.