Fennel (Variali) Biscuit

fennel-biscuits

I really enjoy the taste of fennel seeds (variali), it gives a wonderful fresh feel to the mouth, which is the reason why it is used as a after dinner mouth freshener in India. Also it retains its taste when mixed with other herbs and spices. When I was living in India for my placement year, I went on a little weekend break with my maternal uncle’s family and along the car journey we saw fields of variali and drying red chillies. When I asked my cousin what was growing in the fields he said variali, so we stopped the car and cheekily ran into the field and picked a bunch of variali, it is so refreshing and cool when eaten fresh and raw.

So when I saw the event of ‘Think Spice.. Think Twice‘ for this month which was for fennel, I thought I must take part and make these biscuits. This event is originally started off by Sunita of Sunita’s World, and I feel it is a wonderful event where we learn a lot about different spices, not to mention the vast array of recipes we get from it as everyone uses spices in different ways. This month the event is hosted by Ivy from Kopiaste, where she has given the option of two different spices, fennel and mastic gum.

I originally made these biscuits a couple of years back as one of my Diwali treats. I had them at one of my husband’s cousin sister’s place. She  makes lovely biscuits, so I asked her for the recipe and made them a year or so later. However the biscuits had spread while baking, as I had beaten the butter and sugar mixture too much. So when I saw this event I thought I would make these biscuits, remembering not to over beat the mixture. However this time I cannot explain why it happened but once I had added the milk, the butter, and sugar, the mixture curdled slightly. I still carried on and the biscuits turned out to be a success. They are quite refreshing and a good treat and go wonderfully well with afternoon tea.

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Vegetable Buns

vegetable-buns

My father is a free mason, and when he used to go to the lodge, this is one of the more popular dishes that he would take as the vegetarian option. I remember my older sister helping our mother to make them for him to take. It is a good dish to serve as a snack, with afternoon tea or at parties. Because these can be prepared in advance and then baked before serving makes it good to serve at dinner parties. We tend to use the same filling and pastry as the vegetable pie, however I have also made these buns with the same filling as the toasted sandwich. Experiment with the ingredients you have or enjoy to make the buns.

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Mixed Vegetable Pie

mixed-vegetable-pie

I find this dish to be one of those that has the comfort factor, fond childhood memories and something warm and spicy to eat in the cold weather. We tend to use the basic mix of vegetables similar to what is put in samosa filling – potato, carrot, peas, sweet corn, and onion, however you can use any mix of vegetables you like. As the filling is not very saucy, the addition of the white sauce and tomato ketchup, gives it a wonderful creamy moist texture, and a surprisingly good combination to add as my husband put it. I enjoy eating the pie on its own however, you can serve it with some salad.

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

chocolate-chip-muffins

I made these for breakfast on valentines day, thought it would be a good way to start the day – with a treat 🙂

I was planning to make some plain muffins with just blueberries, and some with chocolate. However as I was mixing the batter I saw some passion fruit which needed to be eaten and thought passion! – the correct ingredient to add to the chocolate muffins. I liked the combination from eating them with pancakes as mentioned in a previous recipe. It turned out to be a good experiment. I used some fresh passion fruit and some from the Easiyo squirt packet, which is normally used to flavour yoghurt. The taste of the fruit in the muffins was subtle but there were parts that had a very good tangy and sweet taste, with a little crunch from the seeds. So I guess my little experiment goes to show that you can add any kind of fruit, fresh, dried or jams to your taste, of course you may need to change the amount of sugar accordingly. In the past I’ve added blueberries, blackberries and cherries.

Because there are no eggs in this recipe, they don’t keep as well and have to be eaten within the week – although you may not have many left.  The smell and taste when eaten warm out of the oven is something else 🙂

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Yoghurt Cake

yoghurt-cake

I have had this recipe since 2004 from one of my husband’s aunt. She makes an eggless cake using yoghurt and it has a lighter texture compare to the other cake recipe posted earlier. My mother-in-law really likes this cake and so I thought I would try it out finally this year for her birthday. I asked my husband to help me, but I was so busy with preparing the other meals that he actually ended up making the cake. So I said to him I will tell everyone that you made it. To this he said lets wait and see how it turns out, if it is good then you can tell everyone otherwise no. Well it was wonderful, however the only thing was that despite following the recipe we both felt you could smell and taste the bicarbonate of soda powder.

I made the cake again a few days later, this time with my son’s help, and reduced the bicarbonate of soda powder and it was perfect, so that is the recipe I am giving you. I find it so amazing when I hear of or see different recipes for eggless cakes, how inventive people can be, and it also shows you can make good cakes without using eggs.

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Avocado Toast

avocado-toast

A good filling healthy snack, that is all what we need sometimes instead of turning to the usual potato crisps or other fast foods. I made this simple recipe for Avocado Toast after a conversation with one of my cousin sisters. She had it whilst on holiday in Australia.

When I was growing up in Malawi we had two avocado trees in our back garden and we used to eat them mashed with sugar and milk as a dessert, it was so wonderful. I also had quite a lot of it after my son was born, it was a very good way to boost the vitamins into the body and have a nutritious snack while lactating. Apart from eating them, we also used to use them for beauty treatments, like applying mashed avocado in our hair to act as an excellent conditioner.  Back then we didn’t realise the benefits of Avocados. Here’s a good article about avocados for keeping your hair healthy.

Avocados may be high in fat, but they have other vitamins which are very good for us. It is said that avocados are good for memory, clarity of thought and also to help protect the brain cells. I felt that it was another wonderful way of eating avocados and I guess it makes a good snack while studying ! 😉

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Ginger Cookies

ginger-cookies

This recipe was invented by my 3 year old son. A couple of weeks back, I asked him what he wanted to do. So he said “I want to make ginger cookies”. I said “you mean gingerbread men”, he said “NO, cookies…”. So as soon as he finished his breakfast he wanted to get into the kitchen and get cooking. To begin with I wasted a bit of time trying to find a ginger cookie recipe. Then because he was getting a bit upset that he hadn’t started, I said OK I will be brave and make it up as we go along. I asked him about each ingredient and that is how we created this recipe. Surprisingly he said he wanted wholemeal flour and no sugar. “So how are we going to make it sweet” I said, he said “Honey”. As he was mixing the dough he kept on saying easy peasy lemon squeezy 🙂

As I have previously mentioned since my ‘golden child’ started Montessori school, I have tried to do some form of cooking with him on Wednesdays, his day off. I was so proud and could not believe my little 3 year old was so grown up that, he was creating a recipe with me, a wonderful moment of being a mother 😀

Ginger Cookies

I went with what my son felt like adding to the mix, however you can add raisins, oats, fresh ginger, candied citrus peel and chocolate. I just used the normal everyday chapatti flour to make the cookies. Its best to eat them within a few days as I found they started softening up.

Ingredients

Preparation time: 10 mins       Cooking time: 20 mins      Makes: approx 40

1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

zest of one lemon

4 tbsp candied ginger, cut into small bit sized pieces

2 tbsp each of honey, black treacle and lemon juice

80 g butter

120 ml milk

Method

1) Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix, add the lemon zest and chopped candied ginger.

2) In a pan heat the butter, honey and black treacle, just enough to melt and mix all the ingredients. Cool slightly and pour into the dry mix of ingredients.

3) Squeeze the lemon juice and combine, now add the milk little at a time to form a soft dough. You may need a little extra or maybe even less.

4) Let the dough rest for a few minutes, while you prepare the baking tray by lining with a grease proof paper and preheat the oven to 200 ‘ C .

5) Roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface to 2 mm thickness, cut with a cookie cutter of your choice and place on the baking tray. Bake in the oven for roughly 10 mins or until they are golden brown. Remove from the tray and let them cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.