P34A2361

Pea, Potato and Carrot Samosas and Asian Steak Tacos



Anyone who knows me knows I love to entertain. For me, there’s no better feeling then inviting friends and family into our home, our table, our way of eating. The look of satiated bellies, full hearts and satisfied smiles makes all that time in the kitchen absolutely worthwhile.


Our menus and tables are always eclectic. And unexpected. But always relaxed. My absolute favourite way of entertaining has to be a mix of canapés. A bit of this and a bit of that. Small and light enough that you can taste a bit of everything. Yet filling enough that you won’t miss having a mains. That then makes more room for dessert, yes?


I actually make a lot of these canapés in bulk and then freeze them. They can then be cooked just before serving which means I can spend more time with the people I love rather then being in the kitchen.


Oh, and I have no qualms about mixing cuisines all in a night’s work. After all, it’s not every night you’ll be eating an Indian samosa, an Asian taco, an English sausage. So today I’m sharing a couple of my favourite canapé recipes. My mom’s samosa, which makes it all the more special to me- spiced potato, pea and carrot with mint and coriander laced through. I’m thinking sweet potato would work equally well.


Then there’s the crispy rice balls with Thai peri peri prawns. Somewhat inspired by the rice balls in my friend Dalia’s cookbook. Whilst I won’t be sharing that recipe today, I will leave you with the recipe for Asian steak tacos. Served as minis and held together with tiny pegs, they never fail to impress. With bites of sweet, tangy, crispy and spicy. Just like a firecracker in your mouth. And minis always taste better anyways, right?

What are your favourite canapés to serve when entertaining?

Pea, Potato and Carrot Samosas

Ingredients:
710 g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp canola oil
4 curry leaves
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
mixed frozen vegetables (peas, carrots and corn)
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 red chilli, sliced
20 samosa wrappers
oil for deep frying


Directions:
Fill a large saucepan with water and add the chopped potatoes. Season with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until potatoes are soft. Drain the water and set aside. 


In a separate saucepan, heat oil and add the curry leaves and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the garlic and onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add the cumin, coriander and turmeric powders as well as garam masala and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the frozen vegetables and cook until they have thawed, about 2 minutes. Mix in the boiled potatoes, lemon juice, coriander, red chilli and season well with salt. Break up the potatoes partially as you mix with a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool.


To make the samosa, take a samosa wrapper and place a tablespoon of the filling and place in the top left corner of the rectangle. Fold the top right corner over the filling to make a triangle. Keep folding the triangle over until you have a triangle and no wrapper. To close the samosa, dab the last fold of the wrapper with water and glue the corner down. 


Fill a large frying pan with oil on medium to high heat. Add the samosas to the oil without overcrowding. Fry until golden brown (about 4-5 minutes), turning every now then. They should be golden, firm and crispy. Drain on a paper towel and serve. 


Note: Samosas not fried can be frozen for up to 3 months. 


Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8, makes 20

Asian Steak Tacos

Ingredients:
3 tbsp chopped parsley
juic of 1 lime
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp cumin powder
50 ml olive oil
600 g tenderloin steak (2 pieces)
1 mango, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 roma tomato, deseeded and chopped
juice of 1 lime 
3 tbsp chopped coriander
Sweet chilli dressing
60 ml sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp red chilli flakes
2 spring onions, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp tabasco sauce
2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 birds eye chilli, minced
To serve: 1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced with mandolin
10 soft tacos
extra coriander leaves and lime wedges

Directions:
In a bowl, mix together the the parsley, lime, garlic, cumin and olive oil. Marinate the steaks and season very well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside whilst you prepare the salsa. 

Heat a grill pan on high heat. Add the steaks and cook for 2 minutes on each side for medium (or to you liking). Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain. 
To serve, individually heat the soft tacos in a microwave for 10 seconds or over a grill pan for 1 minute on each side. Spread some salsa and red cabbage on the taco before topping with steak slices. Garnish with coriander and a drizzle of sweet dressing. Serve with individual tabasco sauces (optional) and lime wedges.
Prep time: 20 minutes 
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 6-8 people/ makes 10 tacos






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P34A5142

White Chocolate and Mascarpone Berry Tarts


Winter has really hit Dubai full force this season. Relatively speaking that is. In my seven years here, it has been the coldest, wettest, greyest. Oh, but I’m not complaining, just remarking. 

Today, for instance, we awoke to drizzle, fog and grey blustery skies. The light is moody with shadowy ghosts. Perfect for playing with chocolate in the kitchen. And for baking. The oven helps to keep the house warm. And oh that smell of freshly baked goods. 


And so I made these tartlets, something simple and quick. With white chocolate. Milk or dark would work equally well. These would be perfect for next week for Valentine’s. Although in our home, chocolate is a daily thing, not something reserved for a particular day. 


So tell me, what will you be making this Valentine’s day? 
White chocolate and Mascarpone Berry Tarts

Ingredients:
1 sheet ready rolled shortcrust pastry, thawed
80ml double cream
100 g white chocolate, chopped
200 g mascarpone
raspberries to serve

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade and line four mini tart tins with the shortcrust pastry. Place baking paper over the tart cases and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 2-3 minutes or until slightly golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Heat the cream until it just comes to the boil. Allow to stand for a couple of minutes before adding the chocolate. Let it stand for a further 2 minutes before adding the mascarpone. Whisk until smooth. Fill cooled tart cases with the white chocolate mixture and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until the filling is firm. Top with raspberries and serve.

Makes 4 mini tarts.

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Lentil Soup


This soup is for that long, cold winter’s day. You know the one where the sky paints a hundred different shades of grey. The one where your hot water bottle becomes an extension of you, when even two pairs of socks worn together won’t cut it.


The kind of soup to be eaten when you’re tending to a runny nose, the soup that makes enough for leftovers the next day. The kind that cleans out your fridge, the one you MUST eat with a spoon and a deep bowl.


The soup that speaks of winter and comfort, of nourishing meals, of large copper pots and and old English ladles. Hearty, nourishing. When all your hands want to cradle is a mug of hot, chunky soup. The soup that’s eaten when it’s dark and stormy outside, when day merges into night and you can’t even tell.



When the light is moody, the rain saturates the landscape, the soup you eat in front of the fire, that soup which leaves both your heart and belly full. The soup that really doesn’t require a recipe, measurements but rather a bit of this and a bit of that. Or a bit of everything.


Perfect comfort food……this soup. Recipes for Roasted Tomato with Parmesan Wafers, Chilled Pea and Mint Soup with Blue Cheese, Roasted Carrot Soup with Tahini Swirl and Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup can be found in Spinneys November issue. 




Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

220 g dried lentils (Waitrose Love Life Lentils)
2 tbsp lemon infused olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, diced
1 parsnip, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 L vegetable stock
Coriander leaves to garnish

Directions:Rinse and soak the lentils in water for at least one hour. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. Add the carrots, onions, celery, parsnip and garlic. Sweat the vegetables for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper. bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until lentils are soft, about 40 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve with crusty bread.
Prep Time: 15 minutes plus soaking
Cook Time: 40 minutes



Serves: 4


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Mile High Pancake Cake


A few months ago, I received an email from BBC Good Food to say they were celebrating their sixth anniversary in the Middle East. Would I like to be a part of it by baking my version of a childhood cake? I’m always game when cake is involved.

Then I went back a few years and realised that whenever birthdays came and went, my mom always wanted it to be extra special, a day out of the ordinary, a cake extraordinary to match. I remember when I was 6 or so, I had a Barbie cake. A real Barbie cake. The doll was a centrepiece with a beautiful pink cake around her. There was also a chocolate buttercream teddy bear cake I had when I turned 10 or so. All fluffy to emulate fur. And then when I was in my teens, she organised a surprise birthday for me at home. With a special cake to follow. That had to be one of the best birthdays ever.


What all these cakes had in common, besides being utterly delicious, were that they weren’t homemade. My mom never ever ever ordered in food from outside. Everything was made from scratch. Even french fries. Except birthday cakes. Those were meant to be memorable, showstoppers. So that even twenty years on, you would still remember them as I still do today.

Now I certainly wouldn’t have been able to recreate any of those fancy cakes,  I chose this cake instead. Eating pancakes on a Saturday are a longstanding ritual in our family.  Since Maryam is such a pro at making pancakes, I thought a pancake cake would be appropriate for my birthday last year since she was keen to help me. One that she wouldn’t mind having for breakfast every Saturday might I add.

Mile High Pancake Cake

Ingredients:
120g milk chocolate
60 ml double cream
2 tbs milk
500 g plain white flour
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
2 pinches of salt
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
600ml milk
60 g butter, melted and cooled
extra butter for frying
Raspberries and chopped pistachio nuts for for garnish

Directions:
To make the ganache, melt the chocolate in in a double boiler until smooth and runny. Take off the heat and add cream and milk. Stir till completely incorporated. Do not over mix. Set aside
Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, eggs, milk and melted butter to a blender and mix until the all ingredients are incorporated. Transfer batter to a jug (this makes it much easier to pour). Add a small knob of butter to a frying pan and pour a small amount of batter (you can use a mini pancake pan to make the same size as the pancakes in the photo). Fry on one side until bubbles start to form on the top side. Flip over and cook the reverse side for less than thirty seconds. Set aside till cool.
You can assemble the cake when both the chocolate and pancakes have completely cooled. Arrange a layer of pancakes on a cake plate. Spread a thin layer of ganache on the pancakes and top with more pancakes. Keep repeating until all the pancakes are finished. Spread a thick layer of ganache on the top and decorate berries and pistachio nuts.

Note: You may need to add extra milk once the batter is sitting for a while as it may become slightly thick. Just add enough to get the same consistency as you started off with.

Makes 1 large layer cake
Prep time: 10 minutes including cake assembly
Cook time: 20 minutes


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Fig, Oat and Banana Smoothie


I love breakfast. But haven’t always. In the past, it’s been more of a chore. Something that needs to be ticked off the to do list, a hurried and tasteless affair. The same routine, day in day out.

Nowadays, I think about breakfast from the night before whilst falling asleep. It’s the last thing Maryam talks about. Or rather, demands, what she wants the next morning. It’s also one of the first things we talk about at the breakfast table- what she wants for breakfast the next day.


It’s at breakfast that she tells me the those details she seems to have forgotten. Like what they did in show and tell. Who she played with at school the day before. What the star sticker she stuck on her name badge was for. Don’t breakfasts make the best conversations.


However, in my house, while the affair of breakfast may be leisurely and long, the preparation cannot be. I seem to function well only after having consumed my first meal of the day. Cue this smoothie. It really cannot get any faster then whizzing all the ingredients in a blender. Aren’t those breakfasts of the best kind!


Look out for more breakfast recipes on the blog soon.

Fig, Oat and Banana Smoothie

Ingredients:
1 banana
2 figs
250 ml whole milk
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
3 tbsp almond flakes plus extra for serving
3 tbsp oats
1 tbsp honey (optional depending on how sweet your figs and bananas are)

Directions:
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately with flaked almonds on top.

Makes 2 servings or 1 large one.


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Lahmacun: Turkish Pizza with Spiced Lamb


If you peeked into my fridge right now, you may let out a horrified scream. You would find stacks of jars- pestos, relishes, jams. Some opened, some not. There will be stacks upon stacks of herbs, Of all kinds. It almost looks like a forest in there. 


‘Mom, are there trees growing in our fridge?’ Maryam always manages to say the cutest things. Once, she even commented that the yoghurt was growing ‘a beard.’ Yes, aka mold I’m afraid.


They say if you ever want to know how organised a person is, sneak a look inside their fridge. Mine hides a thousand sins. The clutter, the mess, the chaos and leftovers here and there- a reflection of my life! There may or may not be a mouldy yoghurt pot in there. Or even a pickle that I’ve been meaning to use.


However, I like to find the silver lining in these situations. Fridges like these tend to make the best meals. The best pizzas in particular. Pizzas where you pull out whatever produce you have lying around, the last strands of arugula in the vegetable chiller, a few stray cherry tomatoes, perhaps some crunchy radish even.


As long as there is a good tomato sauce and some kind of cheese, a good pizza is not far from the table. And a good freezer should always have pizza dough. Without a doubt, always. I highly recommend using a pizza stone if you are serious about pizza. It will cook the dough much faster, giving a crisp base without overcooking the toppings.


You can find the recipes for the basic margherita, naan bread pizza with prawns and paneer, pizza bianca with mushrooms and paneer and arabic bread zaatar pizza with chicken on the Spinneys website or in the August issue. 

Lahmacun: Turkish Pizza with Spiced Lamb

Ingredients:
Basic dough as below
500 g lamb mince
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper finely chopped
1 onion, minced
2 tbsp chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
Toasted pine nuts, feta, lemon, parsley sprigs and sliced radish to serve

Directions:
Prepare dough as above.

In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients from the lamb till the cinnamon powder until well combined, then season. Spread the mixture evenly over the pizza bases and press into the dough gently.

Transfer the pizzas onto the heated pizza stone. Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes or until golden and crisp, making sure the lamb is cooked through. The pizza will leak some fat/ oil.

Garnish with pine nuts, crumbled feta, lemon juice, parsley sprigs and radish. Serve immediately.

Basic Pizza Dough

Ingredients:
230 ml warm water
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
410 g strong white flour
3/4 tsp salt

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix together the water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes or until frothy. Once frothy, add olive oil. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Create a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Use your hands to mix and bring the dough together. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Lightly grease the inside of a bowl with oil and let the dough rise inside, covered with a damp tea towel, for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Dust a work surface with flour and tip out the dough. Divide the portion into 3 equal balls. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough balls to a round circular shape approximately 3-4mm thick. Transfer the pizza bases onto baking paper.

Prep time: 1 hour and 15 minutes including proof time or 20 minutes plus proofing
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Serves/ Makes: 3 pizzas


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Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps


I wasn’t meant to blog about this lunch. It kind of just happened. I had some leftover ingredients from a shoot, ingredients I don’t normally cook with on a daily basis. Bean sprouts, pickled ginger and mountains of baby cos lettuce. 


Then this happened, a beautiful lunch of leftovers. These kind of lunches are my favourite. Lunches that come together in less than half an hour, lunches that are colourful like a child’s painting, lunches that clean out your fridge. That’s the kind of lunch this was. An unplanned lunch. 


And you know what’s even more amazing? I ate this today, I photographed it today, edited the images today and wrote this post today as well. That has never happened before. There is always something that stops me from hitting the publish button- recipe not written down whilst cooking, food not photographed before it is eaten. A lot of the the time I’m unhappy with the images. And the biggest issue has always been that the words just don’t flow. Often, all I want to write is- Eat this, it’s good. That’s all!


But I’m really glad it all came together for this post. I really love this recipe that is heavily inspired by a meal I had at a popular American chain restaurant. It’s a recipe where every member of the family finds something they like and can enjoy. And something to dislike as well. 

Hassan only ate the noodles with carrots and cucumbers. He kept wanting to lick the peanut butter sauce even though it was so spicy. The expression that followed was priceless. Maryam devoured the noodles and bean sprouts on her lettuce leaves. I as usual, had a bit of everything. I do hope you will try this and that everyone in your family will find something to like about it. 

Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:
125 ml crunchy peanut butter
200 ml coconut milk, warmed in the microwave
4 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lime
3- red chillies (deseeded if you want to decrease the heat)
1 tbsp honey
500 g chicken breast, cut into 3/4 inch strips
2 tbsp sunflower oil

20 g rice noodles
200 ml coconut milk
1 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp lime juice

2 spring onions
handful cilantro
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 clove garlic
1 tsp honey

To serve: 
4 baby cos lettuce, stems removed
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 cucumber, deseeded and cut into strips
105 g pickled ginger, cut into strips (optional)- you can drain the pickling juice or add it to your spring            onion sauce
75 g bean sprouts
handful coriander leaves
1 red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)

Directions:
In a bowl, mix together the first 6 ingredients until well incorporated and season with salt. Marinate the chicken strips with 3/4 of the marinade, leaving aside the rest to use as a dipping sauce (the sauce may thicken after a while so just use hot water to loosen as needed). Heat oil in a skillet on high heat. Grill the chicken on both sides, turning, once, until cooked through (about 3 minutes). Set aside.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, drain and set aside. In a saucepan, add the coconut milk. Once it comes to a simmer, add the curry paste and the rest of the ingredients. Add the cooked noodles and season well with salt. Set aside. 

Make the cilantro dipping sauce by blending together the spring onions, cilantro, tamarind paste, garlic, honey and season with salt. You may use a little bit of water to loosen the paste. 

To serve, layer the ingredients as follows. Lay the lettuce leaves on a platter, Top with the noodles followed by the chicken strips. top with the carrot and cucumber strips followed by the pickled ginger if using. Top with beans sprouts, coriander leaves and sliced chilli. Drizzle over the cilantro suace and peanut sauce and serve immediately. 

Serves 6-7.




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P34A1231

Peach Melba Trifle


Trifles was one of the first desserts I ever ate. Or made at home. My mom would only make them in the months of Ramadan. I remember waiting in anticipation as she assembled the different layers. First she would make the jelly layer and pour into a white and blue ceramic platter. A platter she still has to this day. One I may need to steal on my next visit to Dar.


I would poke the jelly in the fridge every few minutes and lick my finger, pink tell tale signs on my pointing finger to give away my crimes. Of course, if the jelly had set, my mom would never be surprised to find holes where I’d been poking around. 


She would then put a layer of cake, my most favorite part. I would always make sure to take a scoop from the edge where she would hide the extra cake scraps. Then the thick creamy canary yellow custard would be poured on followed by chopped apples and bananas. She would leave all this to soak from morning and by night, the custard would have partly penetrated the cake. Those soggy parts were my absolute favourite. 


That was her way. This is mine. Lots of cake soaked with raspberry jam and raspberries. Juicy peaches topped with dollops of creamy custard. And a generous helping of cream. But a few things remain the same. Thick luscious custard and moist pudding like cake. Some things never change.

Peach Melba Trifle

Ingredients:
100 g raspberries
60 g raspberry jam
40 ml pineapple juice
330 g Madeira cake, sliced
4 saturn peaches, sliced
500 ml thick custard
280 ml double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
chopped pistachio nuts for garnishing 

Directions:
In a bowl, mix together the raspberries, jam and pineapple juice. Use a fork to muddle the berries slightly. Arrange the sliced cake at the bottom of the trifle dish. Top with berry mix followed by the sliced peaches. Pour the custard over the fruit and chill in the fridge for a few hours (2 hours at least for the cake to soak up the berry juices). Whip the cream with icing sugar until stiff peaks form. Top the custard with cream when it’s time to serve and garnish with pistachios. 

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P34A0080

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich with Tomato Avocado Salsa


The first ever recipe I posted on this site was savoury. And carnivorous. The kind that graces our table at least once in 2 weeks. You know the one where you don’t even need a recipe to make? The kind that you can cook with your eyes closed. The one you ask your mom to make when you go visit her. The kind your children eat without ever complaining. And finish every last morsel.


Well, since that first recipe, I have posted many more. But they have been of the sweeter kind. I won’t deny that everyone in our family has a sweet tooth. However, the amount of dessert recipes may give a false indication of the kind of food we consume on a daily basis at home.


So I jumped at the chance of developing savoury and simple dinner recipes for Spinneys. It allows me to make meals that we wouldn’t normally eat otherwise, ingredients that are sometimes foreign to me and my family, flavour combinations that I’ve been scared to try before.


For the month of July, the theme for dinners was men cooking in the kitchen whilst their families leave for the summer. One of my favourite recipes from this issue had to be the chicken Schnitzel sandwiches with tomato and avocado salsa.


There was also recipes for Arabic Fried Egg Bagels (another one that we love for breakfast or a lazy dinner), Prawn Korma, Crispy Fish with Ginger Sesame Noodles and Sweet and Spicy Wings. I will post the link to the Spinneys site once the other recipes are up or you can find them in the July issue of Spinneys food.

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich with Tomato Avocado Salsa

Ingredients:

1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1tomato, deseeded and chopped
handful coriander, chopped
juice of half a lime
3 tbsp plain flour
250g boneless chicken breast, ponded to 5mm thickness
1 egg, beaten
60g panko breadcrumbs
4 tbsp sunflower oil, for frying
2 onion baguettes
lettuce leaves to serve

Directions:
Make the salsa by combining the first four ingredients together in a bowl and seasoning with salt and pepper. Crush slightly with a fork and set aside. 

Put the flour in a container and season. Add the chicken pieces and close the container. Shake vigorously until the chicken is evenly coated. Put the egg into a shallow bowl and the breadcrumbs into another. Dip the coated chicken into the egg followed by the breadcrumbs and set aside. 

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the chicken on each side for 5 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow to cool slightly and cut into strips. 

Slice the baguette and layer with lettuce leaves followed by the chicken strips and top with salsa. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 sandwiches 

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P34A1121

Banoffee Pie Popsicles



When Maryam was 6 months old, I decided I needed to go back to work. At least part time, to give me some sanity, adult conversation and take a break from being a mommy for a few hours a week. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved being a mom and Maryam was a dream child, still is. She slept all night, ate everything on her plate and never cried. I always joke that the amount Hassan cries in a day, Maryam has probably cried in a lifetime!


I had a lovely nanny to look after Maryam, one I could really trust and I excitedly entered the workforce. But things didn’t go as planned. On my first day back, I just couldn’t concentrate. My shift was only 4 hours but I called home a total of 30 times. What time did Maryam wake? Did she finish her breakfast? What is she doing now? What snack did she have? Did she nap? How long for? Did she finish her lunch? The questions in my heart didn’t stop, nor did the phone calls.



That night, as I held her tight and put her to sleep, brushing her tiny curls behind her ears that we fondly called her whiskers, I made the easiest decision I have ever made. And the hardest, if that makes sense. But the best decision as well.  I could not work outside the home whilst the children were small. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t bare the thought of not being there everyday to see her evolve, to see her growing, be there to capture her firsts in my heart. Listening to her as her speech changed, her favourite toys changed, building her first lego tower and holding her hand through it all. 



However, I also quickly realised that I wasn’t the mom that loved to play. Whilst I could manage 15 minutes building a lego tower, another 10 baking a pretend pizza, I was never going to be the mother that played all day. I’d rather take Maryam to the park and push her in the swing or let her discover the slide and flowers and weeds and dewy grass beneath her feet. I’d rather be in the kitchen baking that real pizza. 



And so that is exactly what we did. Every morning, I would strap her tiny pudgy body into the bouncer and place it on our kitchen table, positioning her perfectly yet safely so she had the best view. I would go about creating recipes and havoc in the kitchen, describing my every move to her. As though I was a teacher and she my student. Sometimes I’d even pretend I was hosting a cooking show on tv and she was my audience.

At times she fell asleep and I’d feel deflated but as she grew older her eyes grew more curious, her actions more animated. Sometimes I’d catch her playing with the flour that danced along with the light coming through our kitchen window. When she started to crawl, this opened up a whole new world of possibilities in the kitchen for her. Pots and pans were her favourite toys and emptying out the pantry was the best part of the day for her. 


That was then. And look, this is now. Her apron sits right next to mine behind the door, her step stool has its own place in the kitchen. She would rather crack eggs and play with flour over her toys any day.   She proudly knows where all the cake tins and muffin pans stay and she can probably name most spices in my pantry.

I love that we can spend quality time together, both of us doing what we love. I love that I can nurture her love of cooking and baking. I love that she helps to decide our menu for the week. I love that she is willing to try anything, at least once. I love that face of anticipation and curiosity as she watches dough rise or batter cook in the oven. I love that excitement when she wants to decorate anything and everything pink, with ‘springles’ of course. 


As she wanted to do with these banoffee pie popsicles. She wasn’t too pleased when I thwarted her plan to cover them with pink shiny sprinkles. We settled on chocolate sauce instead. With her favourite biscuit in the whole wide world. Mine too- Digestives. The inspiration for these comes from the one ingredient banana ice cream posted by The Kitchn. We put our own twist to it and had such a fun afternoon decorating popsicles and photographing them.

Banoffee Pie Popsicles

Ingredients:
1 can condensed milk
4 large bananas
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
40 g digestives, crushed
80 g chocolate, I used half milk and half dark

Directions: 
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Take any paper packaging off from the condensed milk tin and place in boiling water so that it is fully submerged in water. Allow it to simmer on medium heat for 2-3 hours. The longer you boil it, the darker your dulce de leche will be. Add water as necessary, making sure the can is always covered in water. Use tongs to remove the can from the water and cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. Peel and halve the bananas. Place the bananas on a baking tray greased with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and roast for approximately 20 minutes (You can skip the roasting part if your bananas are already ripe). Allow to cool before freezing for 2 hours. Blend the frozen bananas until smooth, scraping the bowl whenever necessary.  

Fill your molds with a little bit of the banana mixture followed by a bit of the dulce de leche. Keep repeating until you have filled you popsicle molds completely. I used approximately 1 tablespoon of dulce de leche per mold. You can refrigerate the rest of the dulce de leche for other uses. Cover molds with foil paper and insert a wooden popsicle stick in the centre. Freeze overnight till solid. 

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in a steel bowl placed over hot water. Spread the crushed digestives on a tray. Unmold the frozen popsicles and roll them in the crushed biscuits and drizzle the chocolate over it.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 large popsicles. 


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