Thursday, 20 February 2014

Chocolate and bacon...seriously?

Ruhaan had been egging me for days to make cookies so finally, I mustered the courage to bake some.  Then I thought, it can’t be an ordinary cookie and suddenly I remembered the chocolate cookies with bacon that I got to try a few weeks back from the Fairmont which the chef had so kindly made for me. At first I was really hesitant to try it but when I did….. I was sooo amazed with the blend of flavors that emanated from a single cookie that I totally forgot to ask him for the recipe…not that I expected him to share his secret with me! J

So after scouring the internet for the best recipes, I settled on this one below, I’ve altered it to suit ingredients I could get locally.  You also have to use bacon with a higher fat content, what they normally call streaky bacon.

Double Chocolate Bacon Cookies


1 small pack streaky bacon, chopped (I used Purefoods honey-cured pork bacon)
 1 1/2 cups white sugar
 1 cup softened butter
 2 eggs
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 2/3 cup cocoa powder
 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks (I used Hershey’s)


  1. Preheat an oven to 175 degrees C. 
  2. Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble.
  3. Beat the sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer in a large bowl until fluffy and smooth.
  4. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the chocolate chips and bacon.
  5. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. If you want bigger cookies, use an ice cream scoop like i did.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Let stand 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  7. Store in airtight container or jar for up to 5 days (but I doubt they will last that long) 

Needless to say, my picky 8 year old absolutely loved it and ate 3 cookies instantly!  I guess that the best compliment I can get! J

Monday, 17 February 2014

Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

Was so stressed last week with all the traffic whilst doing the morning school drop that I wasn’t able to cook anything worthwhile the whole week or so, I feel.

Now with the school half-term break on, there’s practically no traffic and I even had some time this morning to bake my cinnamon rolls!

Admittedly, I started making the dough last night since anything with yeast needs time to proof and rise. But hey, all that kneading and punching is equal to a gym workout, hence the decision to finish off baking in the morning…besides, who wouldn’t want to wake up to the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls?! That statement is purely intended for my hubby’s benefit J

Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup water (45 degrees C)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, can increase to 1 ¼ c. (if you want)
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.

Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Heat the buttermilk in the microwave for 30 sec. until warm to the touch.

Pour the buttermilk and oil into the yeast mixture; mix well.

Combine the flour, salt and baking soda.

Stir the flour mixture into the liquid 1 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 20 times.

Cover with a wet cloth and let rest for 15 minutes in a warm place.  (I put my bowl on a stool near a pre-heated 100’C oven, with the oven door a bit open.)

In a small bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a large rectangle.

Spread the brown sugar and butter mixture over the dough, roll up into a log and pinch the seam to seal.

Slice into 1 inch pieces and place cut side up in a lightly buttered 10x15 baking pan.

Cover and let rise 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight.

If baking immediately, preheat oven to 200 degrees C for 10 mins.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Take out pan and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes before turning out the rolls on a flat pan for frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 pack Philadelphia cream cheese – 200 gms.
100 gms. softened butter
¾  c. icing sugar or more (according to your taste, personally, I do not like my frosting to be very sweet)
1 tsp vanilla
3 tablespoons milk


Beat cream cheese in a bowl using a hand mixer for 30 secs. Add softened butter and sugar, beat for 1 minute. Add vanilla essence and milk, beat for 30 secs more.

Frost rolls while still warm.

Here's the finished product, frosted and attacked! J


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Internet shopping 101!

To those of you who haven’t tried it…you don’t know what you’re missing! J

As I’ve admitted previously, I am a fully, fledged internet shopper and have been doing it for years. Heck, I even ordered my maternity clothes online and that was 8 years ago so yes, I do have some authority on the subject. Admittedly, it did start with my frustration on the maternity clothes available here, most were too frumpy and completely lacking in style! More like huge shapeless tents which could send you very well into post-partum depression. Imagine delivering your child and then when you realize that your pre-pregnancy clothes still don’t fit, you’ve no choice except to wear those shapeless tents and baggy jeans again!

So, pregnancy over, I gradually moved onto clothes for the newbie mom, then it became the “educational toys”…I would like to think that my internet shopping is indeed for a good cause, my son is quite intelligent (hey, it could be the genes, too) and could point out which animals/fruits I would say from the flashcards I had ordered for him at the age of 8 months. Ruh even learned the colors and textures from Baby Einstein and bedtime stories about Blue and Frankie the Turtle, all sourced through the internet.

Then, it was the hunt for organic baby food. There was one organic store just starting out in the city but the range they had of Earth’s Best baby food was quite limited and I deemed it necessary for my baby to develop his taste buds! After all, who could resist buying chicken mango risotto as stage 2 food for their toddlers?

One time I read a review of how fantastic this caramel popcorn was and I practically had to have it! So what did I do? Ordered online of course! I won’t even tell you how much that moment of madness cost me but suffice it to say I never ordered popcorn online again! I must’ve have been the happiest person on earth when they finally opened Garrett’s at a mall here! J

I haven’t gone totally bonkers on internet shopping, I still do the math and most of the time it has always worked out that prices were almost the same as retail here with the courier charges built in but if there was an online sale, then you‘ve hit the jackpot!  So yes, that affirmed my decision and motto that if you can’t find it, order it! J

Which brings me to my recently ordered loot! I call it loot because in some cases wherein it gets sent by international post, there is no package tracking so you’re left twiddling your thumbs for 2 weeks on whether the package is actually going to show up at the local post office or not! I had ordered from Vitacost, and they’re one of the few online retailers that actually ship international with very reasonable rates of $12 for a 3lb. package.

Here’s what I got:

Amazing Grass Kidz Superfood in Outrageous Chocolate Flavor - Kidz SuperFood Chocolate is a nutritional powerhouse that combines 31 rainbow colored fruits and vegetables in a delicious chocolate drink powder. One serving gives you the antioxidant equivalent of 3 servings of fruits and vegetables

One serving of this a day, then I can sleep better knowing my child has had his full serving of vegetables. I don’t use it as a replacement but as a nutritional supplement. 1 small scoop mixed with a little water, which i then add to his chocolate soymilk (why he's having soymilk is another story J )

For some reason,my son has a built-in vegetable radar and he  sees every minute speck of vegetable in the food no matter how much I try to disguise it. He will eat but only after debating on how exactly vegetables are good for him and when I’ve practically run out of ideas justifying why.

Ruh: "Is bad to eat candy all the time?"
Me: "Yes, you know it is, too much of anything is not good for you!"
Ruh: "So why do I have to have vegetables everyday, isn't that bad for me, too?"
Me:  I'm actually at a loss for words but I had to say something, "Hmm, it makes you grow taller"
Ruh: "But i eat everyday and I'm still the smallest in my class!"
Me: "Your classmates must be related to giants, please just drink your superfood!"

This way, no more arguments, just 1 glass!

Next, the much hyped about cookie butter spread (a.k.a Biscoff) ...I had a mission to find a peanut butter alternative for Ruh because his school prohibits bringing food with any nuts in it as some children are highly allergic. Which is the complete opposite for my child, thankfully he can eat anything and sadly, peanut butter is the only spread he likes on bread, aside from nutella. 

Me: "What do you want for your school snack today?"
Ruh: "peanut butter & bread"
Me: "But it's not allowed in school"
Ruh: " I'm not sharing anyway and besides, a peanut is not a nut! It's a legume!"
Me: "Really, where'd you hear that?"
Ruh: "I read it in my Book of Facts that you ordered for me!
Me: "Smile!"

So yes, ordering online does have it’s benefits! ...need i say more? J 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A twist to bolognaise!

Many moons ago, a girlfriend had come over so we had opened a bottle of Zinfandel. We weren't able to finish the wine (not that it happens often :) )....thankfully, it was one of those bottles that had a resealable cap so i just stuck stuck it in the coldest part of the fridge and totally forgot about it.

As Ruh was having a cold and anything dairy was out of the question (he loves bechamel sauce btw!)...i decided to make Spaghetti Bolognaise!

By the way, did I mention that I am an internet shopping freak? Most specially when it comes to foodstuff not available around here, I will definitely order it! So whilst I was surfing on, I had chanced upon this pasta made with artichoke flour…"hmmm, that sounds interesting, and healthy, right?!"

So with my pot of artichoke spaghetti bubbling away, i started on my bolognaise sauce. I'm not putting the recipe because i'm sure everyone has their own version.  With mine, I actually add pork sausage to my bolognaise sauce. You can also add fresh chopped Italian parsley as well.

Don't use tomato paste and if you are putting any wine (red wine is actually fantastic and adds a depth of flavour!)...add it before you put the chopped tomatoes in.... that way, the alcohol evaporates and makes for a yummier sauce.

 Always check the color, sauce is ready when the oil comes out and makes the sauce all shiny!

I check my artichoke spaghetti to see if it’s al dente (artichoke pasta actually takes 5 mins longer to cook than regular pasta) and voila!

Happy eating!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Chinese New year!

"Kung Hei Fat Choi!"....such a common greeting back home, regardless of whether or not you were Chinese! Filipinos love celebrations and will grab the opportunity to celebrate any occasion, even if not necessarily theirs :)  Anyway, despite being many years here, I still miss the chants of old. There's a huge Chinese community in the Philippines and their customs and ways have somehow integrated itself into the Filipino culture!

One thing i miss mostly is "Tikoy" a.k.a. Chinese rice cake! Sad to say, I haven't seen any shop here that sells this.

So on a mission to find this tikoy...i dragged hubby down to the China Club at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Deira in the hope that they may be selling some! When we got to the restaurant, the waiters greeted me with “Kung Hei Fat Choi!” and I happily returned their greeting and asked excitedly if they had Tikoy. “Unfortunately, no” they said, as it wasn’t popular here but the closest thing they had to it was the fried pumpkin cake, served during the Yum Cha Brunch they were having that day! Yum Cha is a Chinese style morning or afternoon tea, which involves drinking Chinese tea and eating dim sum dishes. 

At China Club, they serve fantastic dim sum dishes on a trolley, that kept going around the tables, refilling your plates until you tell them to stop. We slid in to a booth and looked at the scrumptious dimsum menu which came with soups, noodles and unlimited chinese tea, lemon ice tea or peach ice tea for AED 99/- ...what a bargain!

This is what we ate....well, actually half of what we ate :)

I got my tikoy fix from the fried pumpkin cake which are the orange looking donuts on the plate. It did taste a bit similar to tikoy but less sweeter.

The dimsum is very good and among the best you can find in town! (believe me, I have searched long and far to find this out) so despite the hotel being a good 40 kms from our home, it definitely is a must go, must eat place! And I wIll always keep coming back!

Try it!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Wine and pasta...need i say more?!

I chanced upon this fantastic chardonnay called Domaine de Pellehaut while rummaging through our wine cabinet and i was hooked for life!

I kid you not, I must've done my fair share of drinking out there but i really never found a white that i really liked. The moment i chanced upon this, it became my holy grail!!! 

Now, every time hubby goes travelling...all i say is "make sure you stop by duty free and get some wine!" Forget about about buying me a souvenir, all i need is the entire cellar :)

This should go wonderfully well with this super easy Spaghetti Aglio Olio Peperoncino e Gamberi! It's a quick fast dish you can whip up in a jiffy when you have unexpected guests drop in for dinner...provided you have all the ingredients, of course :)

I actually saw this recipe on tv by some italian chef called Gino and the original recipe called for lobster but I have modified it a bit ....after all, who keeps lobster on hand for unexpected guests? :) 

Hope you get to try it!

Spaghetti aglio olio peperoncino e gamberi

1 pack spaghetti pasta (preferably an italian brand)
1 c. extra virgin olive oil (aka EVOO)
3 thai red chilies, chopped (or more according to taste)
1 kg. medium size shrimps, shelled and deveined
1 glass white wine
1 chicken stock cube
1/4 c. italian parsley leaves (also called flat leaf parsley, very different from chinese parsley)
1 whole garlic bulb, peeled and chopped
Salt & pepper according to taste
Parmesan cheese (to sprinkle)

  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. In another pan, heat 1 c. EVOO for 1 minute on a low fire.
  3. Add chopped garlic, red chilies and stir for 30 secs. Don't let garlic brown, otherwise it gives a bitter taste.
  4. Throw in the shrimps, stir for 1 minute. Then add the chicken stock cube.
  5. Add 1 glass of wine (remember the rule, cook with wine that you can drink)
  6. Increase the heat and stir for 1 minute  letting the alcohol evaporate.
  7. Add chopped parsley, turn off heat then add drained, spaghetti pasta. Mix well.
  8. Put on serving dish and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Buon Appetito!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

MIL's cooking!

My in-laws are vacationing over but will be going back to Calcutta by the end of next week. I am surely going to miss MIL’s (Mom-in-law) awesome cooking! She is a fantastic cook and is like a fairy in the kitchen! If there is one thing we can really bond over, it is the love of food and cooking!

Last night she made an out of this world, melt in your mouth Mughlai lamb curry!  She made it all from scratch and didn’t follow a recipe so I have made it my quest to replicate it sometime soon. So, I sat on the sofa and quizzed her on the ingredients and the “how-do-you-do-it” specifics ….almost like Barbara Walters interviewing Martha Stewart! J

Here it goes…..

Mughlai Lamb Curry

1 kg lamb shoulder, cut into cubes
400 gms. plain yogurt, liquid drained
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
4 tbsps mustard oil
½  tsp. Chili powder
¼ c. olive oil
½ c. onion paste (chop 5 big onions then put in a blender to make onion paste)
1 big tomato, chopped
2 tsps  cumin seeds, roasted then ground into powder (you can also use ground cumin seed powder but make sure you dry roast in a pan)
1 tsp coriander powder, dry roasted as well
½  tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder, dry roasted (A typical Indian version of garam masala contains: black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, black and white cumin seeds, black, brown, and green cardamom pods). The word garam means hot but actually refers to intensity of the spices rather than capsaicin content.
1 tsp sea salt (add more as per your taste)
Coriander leaves – for garnishing


Marinate first 6 ingredients together for at least 2 hrs, overnight is best.

Heat olive oil for 1 minute, add onion paste and fry for 2 minutes then add the remaining ground spices. After 1 minute, add the marinated lamb including marinade, turn often whilst frying so it doesn’t burn. After 2 minutes of stirring, add the chopped tomato. Stir for 3 minutes – this recipe is a good workout for your arms J
Add the salt, stir then cover. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 -1 ½ hrs till lamb is tender and yogurt gravy thickens.

Serve with hot, steaming basmati rice!