Strawberry Cupcakes

Strawberry Cupcake

In recent years there are a few buzz words associated with all the lovely fruits & vegetables available, that are used to tell us why we should eat them. The key phrases are super food, rich in antioxidants, & packed full of vitamins and so on. I feel that all food is good for us, consumed in the correct quantities and eaten on a regular basis. There has been much research that has been conducted on strawberries and the results suggest that it is rich in vitamin C, is filled with antioxidants that help fight cancer and heart disease, rich in folic acid and are also good at helping reduce tartar as well as maintaining healthy skin. With or without the title of super food, strawberries are a great tasting food which gives us an uplifting effect and can satisfy any sweet tooth.

This recipe for Strawberry Cupcakes was requested from my dear son for some months now. He asked my younger sister to make a strawberry chocolate cake, so she attempted it earlier this year. She adapted her normal recipe for eggless chocolate cake and added strawberry jam and syrup. This experiment did not quite work as the cake sank! I then had a go with the yoghurt cake recipe and added strawberry syrup and cocoa. It smelt great but the taste was not there. Then at a recent food festival, I had tried some strawberry cake/bread which was vegan. They had used a lot of chopped fresh fruit to get taste and texture. Then I also saw a few recipes which inspired me, there was this Blueberry coffee cake & Eggless Vanilla Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins.

From all of that research and experimenting, I made the following recipe which was a good first attempt. The cup cakes were moist and had the correct balance of fruit and sugar. My husband said they were more like muffins than cupcakes, but all the same tasted great. I was glad that I took up the challenge and ventured into creating this recipe.

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Exotic Fruit Ice Lollies

Exotic Fruit Ice Lollies

Exotic Fruit Ice Lollies2

Each year as the mango season is upon us we enjoy eating it just as it is meant to be – plain and simple. The other favourite is to have mango pulp (ras) with our meal (it is great served with puri and any curry). Just so as we can prolong the taste and enjoy them well after the season has ended, it is always a good idea to freeze the pulp.

In the Indian culture mangoes are considered to be the king of all fruits, a place which is rightly deserved as the taste, aroma and juice of the fruit are all beyond comparison. In recent times it has become quite the trend to label the food that we eat as super foods or foods that are good for us. In my opinion all food if eaten in the correct quantity is a super food as it is all good for us, some may have qualities that other fruits don’t but that does not mean we eat any less of it. Having said that mangoes are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and dietary minerals &  fibre, hence qualifying as a ideal superfruit.

When I made these ice lollies last year, with my son, they were with just plain mango. So this year I thought I will do two batches, one with just mango and the other with some other fruit mixed in. So I thought of the 5 a day campaign and tried to incorporate as many fruits as I had at the time. Four out of five is not bad and considering they are all rich in vitamin C, A & E and in potassium, phytochemicals, and nutrients. This is one of the main reasons why I like to make these kind of foods at home as I know that it is 100% fruit, not from concentrate and not ladled with sugar and addatives. I know exactly what goes into the lollies and I control the content of fruit and sugar. This is exactly how  it was when we young, as there were no sell by dates on the food we ate nor did it give us any allergies or side effects. The fact that it is so quick and easy to make should be the other deciding factor in making these lollies.

Coincidently when we made the lollies, my son was learning about freezing water to make ice, so this was a perfect way of teaching him the process of creating something that he enjoys eating. He was very excited as a result to see the process, however was quite anxious as the waiting time was too long (freezing time).

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Chilli Garlic Cassava Chips

chilli-garlic-cassava-chips

There are many spicy foods that are good to serve at parties and as a good filling starter or snack. These Chilli Garlic Cassava Chips are perfect, especially when its accompanied with your favourite dipping sauces or ketchup. Like garlic bread or fries/chips, the combination of garlic and chilli with the fried cassava makes a yummy crunchy treat.

I recently made this dish when my friend had come over for dinner, she asked me to make something different with cassava and I thought it was a good opportunity to try this recipe out. My husband had first tried this recipe at a restaurant and was very keen for me to try it so I could recreate it at home, like the chilli paneer he had first tried at an Indian pub.

It is just amazing how by adding a few simple basic ingredients the taste changes. When we used to have cassava  in Malawi, it used to be simply boiled and then served with some salt, chilli powder and lemon juice, or fried and made into crisps.  We also used to use  the flour to make various different savoury snacks. Indians also tend to eat cassava, potato etc. whilst fasting, so there are many recipes that we used to make. As I’ve grown up I’ve had more and more varied recipes using cassava as friends and family have tried experimenting with different methods of cooking and adding different ingredients.

Cassava is also known by many names including Mogo and Yuca (not to be confused with Yucca) and one of its products include Tapioca.

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Scrambled Tofu

scrambled-tofu

Tofu is fairly recent regular addition to my kitchen /cooking. It is very similar to paneer, which is an Indian cheese that does not have any particular taste and can be used for sweet and savoury recipes. As a result I use tofu more regularly. It absorbs all the flavours and hence makes it very versatile.

A few years ago I bought a basic quick vegetarian recipe book from a supermarket and Scrambled Tofu was one of the recipes in it. It was a simple red capsicum, tofu and chives scramble. I like the idea and added a few other ingredients to give extra taste and flavour to the tofu. This is a good breakfast / brunch recipe, or even to eat as a healthy snack and a good alternative to scrambled eggs.

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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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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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