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Tiramisu



Last week, my mum and sister were visiting. As is always the case when they visit, there was much laughter, reminiscing about childhood memories and eating good wholesome food.   

On the menu was grilled chicken simmered slowly in a coconut broth, a simple pasta with meatballs for kids and for dessert……this time we left it simple. My mom brought apple mangoes from Tanzania that we sliced into wedges. The smoothest mangoes with the texture of velvet. Fresh, natural and light. The perfect end to any meal really.


But I did manage to sneak in these tiramisu pots amongst all the feasting. This is my go to dessert when I’m short of time, when I’m entertaining, when I need something light and creamy, when I’m in the mood for coffee even though I don’t drink it. I’ve made so many variations of this basic recipe- date syrup to give the mascarpone some edge, a cardamom or two to uplift the coffee, a splash of citrus or berries with the ladyfinger layer.


Here is the basic recipe- it begs you to do to it what you please. I’ll be back in no time with a recipe for rice pudding tarts topped with a mango coulis. Yes, using the mangos that my mom brought back. I sneaked a few into the back of the fridge to keep them safe from Maryam especially for this recipe. It was worth it. 

Tiramisu

Ingredients:
2 cups whipping cream
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup mascarpone cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
28 ladyfingers (can use less or more depending on how big you want the layers)
2 cups strong coffee
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Directions:
In a bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form and set aside. 

Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Add the mascarpone and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone, taking care not to deflate the the mixture. 

Prepare 8 glasses, bowls or ramekins. Dip a ladyfinger into the coffee quickly. You don’t want it to become soggy. Line the glass with the ladyfinger, breaking it into pieces if necessary. Repeat for all the glasses. Top with a layer of mascapone followed by dipped ladyfingers again. Finish off with a layer of mascarpone. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Dust with cocoa powder just before serving. 

Makes 8 servings depending on glass size.

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Shepherd’s Pie


I have a blanket. I did actually. It now belongs to Maryam. Or Hassan when she’s not looking. It’s a deep blue and white chequered pattern or rather it was. The white has transitioned to a sorry looking beige and the blue is now a faded turquoise.


The edges are frayed and Hassan likes to catch the threads and pull them into a knot around his fingers. What was once a thick stiff cotton has now transformed itself into the most delicate cashmere. I avoid washing the blanket too often from fear it will fall apart. Even then, it has the scent of a new born baby. The fuzziness of a peach. The warmth of a roaring fire.


It didn’t always belong to me though. It started life as a bed sheet when my Mummy was small. It was then upgraded to a blanket for the next generation. All my mom’s nieces and nephews put their stamp on it before it was handed down to my children. Just like this recipe.


As every family, we have our own recipe for Shepherd’s pie. With every generation and every family member, the recipe has changed. Tweaked. Ingredients added. Methods simplified. With every change, the recipe is perfected. Just like that old blanket, it’s a family heirloom.


So here is my version of Shepherd’s Pie. It is a basic recipe allowing much room for change. A few humble ingredients that meld together to become a gourmet meal. Sometimes I add baked beans to it, other times I omit the carrot and add peas. Fresh herbs never go amiss in this recipe but it doesn’t always have to be thyme. 


Take this recipe, mould it to your taste, to your family’s palate. It will keep you company on a cold evening and make sure you feel warm and fuzzy, just like an old worn blanket.

Shepherd’s Pie 

Ingredients:
6 medium floury potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped in 4
6 tbs grated parmesan plus extra to garnish
3 tbs milk
2 tbs oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
500 grams beef mince
1 large carrot, grated
3 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs worcestershire sauce
2 tbs barbecue sauce
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 1/2- 2 cups stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Fill a saucepan with potatoes until they are fully immersed. Bring to  boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer until the potatoes are completely cooked through. Drain and mash until no lumps remain. I put my potatoes through the mincer attachment on the Kitchenaid to get them completely smooth. Add the grated parmesan, milk and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside. 

In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat oil on medium heat. Add to it the chopped onions and fry until just beginning to brown, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute. Add the mince and keep stirring and mashing the mince until completely broken up and no clumps remain. Keep stirring until the mince has browned and the water has dried up. Add the rest of the ingredients and season with with salt and pepper. Simmer on medium heat till the gravy is thick, about 40 minutes. Fill a baking dish with the mince gravy and top with the mashed potato. Use a fork to smooth the top, sprinkle with extra parmesan and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Serve immediately topped with extra grated parmesan cheese. 

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Maryam’s Chocolate Crepes


This is Maryam’s recipe. Kind of. It was Monday and we had just spent our entire weekend cooped inside. Maryam had a fever since Friday which meant she was off school. The weekend was spent trying to tear Hassan off Maryam as she rested on the sofa. The other half was spent pacifying Maryam as Hassan kept destroying her Lego creations. 


You know the usual. She made, he destroyed. Don’t ask. So when Monday rolled round, I was relieved we had plans to go to the beach with friends. Followed by a picnic of course. Beaches are aways associated with picnics, yes? At least they are in our world.


‘Mummy, what are you making to take to the beach?’ Maryam enquired. ‘I want something with chocolate, lots of chocolate.’ A giggle escaped her lips. I had no choice but to agree- who could turn down chocolate right? We decided on crepes, slathered with Nutella and sealed with bananas.


As she did her usual routine of cracking eggs and telling me the same story she tells me every time she cracks eggs- that of her 21 year old cousin that is scared to break eggs, she asked, ‘How about chocolate crepes?’ And I thought why not?



As the batter whizzed and spun in the blender and we both eyed the bubbles frothing, I saw a tiny hand scooping more cocoa powder. ‘It just doesn’t look chocolaty enough.’ Who was I to disagree. So instead of three, we put four tablespoons. Just right.




So that makes it Maryam’s recipe right. She beamed when I said we’ll call these Maryam’s crepes from now. ‘And I cracked the eggs all by myself and I wasn’t even scared……’ And she went on to repeat the same story for the nth time. 


After a hard day picking shells and sand at the beach for a special project (again, dont ask!), we feasted on these crepes. Some with bananas, some with raspberries. All with nutella though. And my Hassan, of course he joined in too. He’s also just learnt to suck with a straw. He is utterly obsessed with straws now. And I with him. 




Maryam’s Chocolate Crepes

Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
4 tbs cocoa powder

Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup soda water
2 eggs
2 tbs butter, melted and cooled
Melted butter for frying

Nutella, sliced bananas, raspberries, icing sugar and roasted hazel nuts to serve

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients in a blender and mix until the batter is smooth and lump free. If lumps remain, sieve the batter. Let it rest for at least an hour or more.

In a non stick frying pan set over medium heat, ladle approximately 1/3 cup batter at a time (the amount will depend on how big your pan is) and swirl the batter around the pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes. You can add a few drops of butter to help lift the edges off to flip the pancake over. Cook for a further minute on the other side. Serve immediately with nutella, bananas, raspberries, icing sugar and hazel nuts.

Makes 10 crepes.



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Creamy Date Pots


I have been meaning to make these creamy dessert pots for a while now. But truth to be to told, January was a long month for me. It was a month of of anxiety, a month of waiting, a month where life seemed to be on hold. A month where nothing seemed to matter.


I had my PET scan after two long years to see if my cancer was still in remission. The two weeks it took to get my results back really were the longest of my life. I was always on edge, jumping every time the phone rang, nervous, scared. 

I felt as though I couldn’t make any plans. Just in case. What if the results showed activity spots? More treatment? That would mean I wouldn’t be able to attend the Cirque du Soleil show that I had my heart set on. And I would be in hospital again. Who would plait Maryam’s hair each morning? Pick her up from school each afternoon? Bake her favorite muffins? Check on her before bed just to be sure she was still tucked in? Would I miss Hassan’s first steps? His first real word? Would he remember me when I came back from hospital?


On the other hand, I imagined the doctor calling me, telling me everything looked clear and wonderful. I pictured myself laughing out loud with joy, thanking him over and over. I ran over the scenario of giddily calling my parents on the phone and breathlessly telling them the good news as fast as the words would escape my quivering mouth.


It was an immense relief when I did hear back. ‘Everything looks wonderful.’ I won’t forget those melodious, beautiful words. The scrambled calls to my family that followed. The thankfulness in my heart and relief. The sheer exhaustion of worrying for so long had drained me and that night, I slept with my children. Those hugs that night- I think they both wondered why I held them so tightly and so closely.


The date pots were a dessert I’d been willing to make throughout that time. The ingredients were always on the counter, the intention was there. The heart wasn’t. But I knew their time had come when I bought myself these new teacups as a celebratory gift. They would be perfect together. It was a sweet, creamy, dreamy end to a difficult month. 

Creamy Date Pots

Ingredients:
2 cups cream
1/2 cup milk
3 tbs caster sugar
3 tbs date dhibs (syrup)
1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
chopped pistachios to serve

Directions:
Add all the ingredients except the pistachios to a heavy bottom saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 mins. Let it cool slightly before pouring into cups or bowls. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set. Serve with chopped pistachios. 

Serves 4-6 depending on cup size. 


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Zaatar and Pomegranate Roasted Chicken and Arugula and Clementine Salad with Walnuts and Clementine Mustard Dressing



Just a few weeks ago, I told you about these truffles with some rather decadent ingredients- chocolate, orange blossom water, pistachios and cardamom. Those truffles were originally inspired by a clementine, pistachio and semolina cake. 



I have been eagerly waiting to share this recipe with you since that time. Inspired by Ottolenghi’s lemon yoghurt and pistachio cake, I decided to top mine with candied clementines and pistachios. You can find the recipe for it in the latest issue of House of Fifty.



I’ve also been trying different variations of grilled chicken recipes recently. But today I want to share the recipe for this zaatar chicken with you. Because the colours of this meal took my breath away. Because it has contrasting tastes of sweet, tangy, spicy and sour. It also helped that Maryam enjoyed the leftover chicken in a sandwich the next day. 




Since moving to Dubai, zaatar has quickly become one of my favourite Middle Eastern spices. Beautifully pungent, there’s lots of green in it. Thyme, marjoram and oregano. A bit of sumac and sesame seeds all brought together with olive oil. I buy mine ready made but there are plenty of links on the web on how to make it at home.



Finally there’s this simple clementine and arugula salad. But it’s all about the dressing in this salad. You’ll see what I mean when you make it. Suffice it to say there is creamy walnut mustard and the wholegrain variety too. I then peppered the salad with roasted walnuts too. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
1) Zaatar and Pomegranate Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:1.5 kg chicken, cut into pieces with skin on
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbs zaatar
2 tbs pomegranate molasses
4 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 tbs parsley
3 tbs fresh pomegranate seeds

Directions:
Make the marinade by mixing together olive oil, zaatar, pomegranate
molasses, garlic, salt and pepper. Rub the chicken with this marinade
overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. Place the chicken skin
side up in a baking tray in the middle rack and roast for about 1 hour
or until the chicken has beautifully browned and cooked through. If
you prefer the skin to be crispy, place the chicken under the broiler
for a few minutes but watch it very carefully to avoid burning.
Sprinkle with lemon juice, pine nuts, parsley and pomegranate seeds
and serve immediately.

2) Arugula and Clementine Salad with Walnuts and Clementine Mustard Dressing

2 tbs wholegrain mustard
1 tbs walnut mustard
2 tbs chopped coriander
1 tbs maple syrup
1/4 cup + 2tbs clementine juice
2 tbs clementine zest
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups arugula (can substitute any other greens)
3 clementines, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Add the first six ingredients to a bowl to make the dressing. Season
with salt and pepper. If the dressing is too thick, you can add extra
clementine juice.

Arrange the arugula on a platter topped with the sliced clementines.
Drizzle the dressing on the salad and top with walnuts. Serve
immediately.

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Citrus and Watercress Salad with Toasted Coconut and Peanuts


Hello dear readers. Would it be too late to wish you a happy new year? I trust you had a safe, healthy and fun start to the new year. Did you reminisce about 2012 as soon as 2013 rolled in? I did. It was a special year for me, one filled with many new adventures, beginnings, lessons and goals achieved.


It was at the beginning of the year that my Hassan stepped into our lives. Our family was full, complete.  He has been a completely different baby compared to Maryam. More energetic, more difficult? Perhaps it’s a boy thing as everyone tells me. I’m grateful nonetheless. 




Just as 2012 began with a bang, it didn’t end any differently. I finished shooting a cookbook, a dream really. It was a month long marathon of cooking, styling, photographing and most importantly eating. Boy did me and Dalia eat. And we ate well. All amongst a sea of clutter. Prop clutter. The best kind of clutter, wouldn’t you agree?


There was a tomato tart, banoffee pie, truffle focaccia, pea risotto, veal ragu and osso bucco. Are you hungry yet? We also feasted on plum clafoutis, pastrami sandwiches and labneh wraps. But after a month of binge eating, all I wanted was something light and fresh.


Enter this grapefruit and blood orange salad with watercress and toasted coconut. I first ate a version of this at Pad Thai in Madinat Jumeirah whilst on a food safari. Even though I’ve been dreaming of it ever since, I’ve only just made it after exactly a year. 



It certainly did the trick. The original version was sans greens but I feel they are a must here. Light but hearty at the same time. And that coconut and blood orange combo? Oh yes, I’m already dreaming of coconut ice cream with blood oranges and perhaps something crumbly on top. What do you think?

Citrus Salad with Toasted Coconut and Peanuts

Ingredients:
1 grapefruit, peeled and cut into segments
1 blood orange, peeled and cut into segments
2 bunches watercress (can substitute any other greens such as arugula)
3 tbs grapefruit juice
1 tbs blood orange juice
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs honey
2 tbs olive oil
3 garlic heads, crushed
3 tbs chopped coriander
1 tsp chili flakes
salt to taste

1/4 cup desiccated coconut, toasted
1/4 cup onions, fried
1/4 cup peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped


Directions:
In a large bowl, flake the grapefruit and blood oranges (I left the segments whole) and mix together with the watercress. In a container, mix together the next seven dressing ingredients and season with salt. Toss the salad with the dressing. Sprinkle with coconut, fried onions and toasted peanuts. Serve immediately. 

Adapted from chef Gabi’s recipe, Pad Thai, Madinat Jumeirah




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Chocolate Pistachio and Orange Blossom Water Truffles


‘Are you sure we don’t have an orange tree in the garden?’ Akber enquired as he stared at the various citrus varieties in the kitchen. Spritely shades of orange and yellow line the kitchen counters, stovetops and cupboards.


There have been oranges, lemons, mandarins and the coveted French clementines with leaves. A stark but welcome colour contrast to the dull and grey skies outside. Not that I’m complaining. We are all enjoying the the cooler climes that don’t last long enough in Dubai.


I’ve been testing recipes for a cake soon to be featured on the next issue of House of Fifty. A clementine, pistachio and semolina cake to be exact. Topped with candied clementines and coarsely chopped pistachios. Ever since I had a slice of lemon, yogurt and pistachio cake at Ottolenghi when I was in London, I have been dreaming of recreating the recipe.


Just my kind of flavours and textures. It turned out beautiful. A gorgeous colour with crunch and nuttiness from the semolina and pistachios. I added some cardamom too which is my favorite new spice to use in sweet bakes. Remember the apple cardamom cake I made last year?


But I can’t share the recipe with you yet. Trust me, it will be worth the wait. In the mean time, I have a simple recipe for truffles which has the same blend of flavours. Chocolate, orange blossom water, pistachios and cardamom. 


Have a blessed holiday and hoping that the new year brings you all that you wished for. 

Chocolate Pistachio and Orange Blossom Water Truffles

Ingredients:
100 gms milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
100 gms dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
100 ml single cream
1 tbs butter
1 1/2 tbs orange blossom water
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
50 gms chopped pistachios
chopped pistachios and cocoa powder for dusting

Directions:
Mix the chopped chocolates and cream in a pan and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined and smooth. Take off the heat and add butter, orange blossom water, cardamom powder and chopped pistachios. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until firm (2 hours). Use a spoon or melon baller to scoop small balls and mould  into a bowl with your palms. Dust with cocoa or chopped pistachios. You can refrigerate again if the truffles have become too soft. Otherwise, serve at room temperature.

Makes about 20 truffles.

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Autumn Days in London




I have finally managed to grab a few hours to edit personal photos of my adventures across the pond. My posting on this blog has been sporadic to say the least, reasons explained a little further down. I’m really hoping that going into the new year, I can start posting more regularly. Even once a week?


Back to my London trip, it had been six years since we packed our few meagre belongings and moved to Dubai to set up a new life, make a home out of a house and build our family. When I left London at that time, there were only feelings of excitement and anticipation of new horizons.


I did not harbour any feelings of sadness or regret upon leaving this city of cobbled pavements, buildings shrouded in years of history or the fickle weather that changed without a moments notice. But as they say, the grass always appears greener over the fence.


With time, I have grown to miss London- the seasons, nature, walking through quaint alleyways, watching elderly couples in cafes huddled over a cup of tea served in vintage crockery, that crisp cold air that almost feels like drinking a cup of sparkling water that has just been corked.


I yearned to wear layers of woollen sweaters and to wrap myself in the warmest scarves. Knee high boots and cozy sheepskin gloves. That is what I was looking forward to as I arrived in beautiful London. To show Maryam and Hassan the other side of the coin.


London did not disappoint. This trip of less than two weeks allowed me to make memories that couldn’t be made whilst living there for nearly seven years. It allowed me to find joy in the distressed grey buildings that I once found morbid, to tingle in the cold wind that forced me to stay indoors in the past, capture the myriad of tones of orange and red and gold and yellow in a single tree that I had never even noticed before. How could I not have.


How could I have never fed walnuts to a squirrel at the park? Or visited a farm? Or gone apple picking? Or listened carefully to the crunch of the leaves under my boots? Or walked down the cobbled streets of London without any aim or destination?


London was amazing, it was good to us. Bright blue skies, an exciting chill in the air and carpets upon upon carpets of rustic leaves. Maryam was enthralled. Rightly so. As was I.


We spent our days revelling as tourists. Maryam particularly enjoyed the Duck Tour of London. Feeding the ducks was quite an experience. She was unsure about them to begin with but before long, they were eating out of her hand. ‘It feels ticklish Mummy,’ giggling as she came back to grab more bread. Over and over.


One thing I was most excited about was visiting flea markets to pick up unique vintage items for the kitchen. I cannot believe I had never visited them before. I could spend hours, no days, there. Beautifully worn in just the right areas. I was in heaven.


Our trip ended on a high as Maryam visited her first animal farm. The heavens poured and there was a chill in the air. It didn’t dampen our spirits and the landscape appeared dark shades of green, grey and blue. ‘Will there be cows and Shaun the Sheep?’ Oh yes, indeed. And more.


She fed the horses and baby sheep and counted the eggs in the chicken barn. Held the baby hamsters and sat on her first tractor. There were many firsts for her on this trip. Her first pumpkin, her first rain boots, her first umbrella, her first trip to the circus. More about that in another post though. 


It was also MY first holiday I have taken with my parents since nearly twelve years. It was so good to spend time with family, my sister Zara and Abbas. They welcomed us into their home warmly and treated us to a magical experience that is London.


We cannot wait to go back. Wimbledon, fresh strawberries with double cream, dewy grass, ice cream cones with Flake 99. Summer awaits us next year and we are excited from now.

And why I’ve been posting much less….Well, I’m photographing a cookbook. It’s exciting times for me. I have been pouring all my time, creativity and effort behind this project. There’s only a week left and I can’t wait tot share the results with you early next year.

Last picture taken on Instagram


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Coconut Jam Shortbreads with Coconut Icing

 
I write this post in a midst of frenzied photo editing. It has been nearly a week since we returned from a fantastic sojourn in London. This post has been sitting in my inbox since before I packed for our trip.

 
But there was always something to delay me from publishing. First there was that mourning period when my family left. The house suddenly felt too big for us. I heard echoed laughter and conversations that had been. I missed everyone terribly. ‘When are nanu and nani coming back on the plane? When will I get to see them?’ Maryam enquired. I felt the same. ‘Soon.’

Taken on Instagram
 
In between photo shoots for a client (can’t wait to tell you about this one), I excitedly packed our suitcase leaving it as empty as possible for the troves of food and prop treasures I had planned to buy in London.

 
Then we finally arrived. This post languished in drafts longer. I made excuses for not opening my computer- lack of internet, lack of time. In fact, we were too busy taking in the sights, culture and rich history of London. There was just too much to show Maryam, too many nooks and crannies to visit. The post would have to wait.

Taken on Instagram
 
Since being back, I have been busier than a bee, juggling photoshoots, visits to the park as that slim window of glorious weather graces Dubai, a pie party to plan with fellow food bloggers. It’s all happening. But I missed this space, the immediate feedback, the comments, that thrill of blogging that only you and I can understand.

 
So here I am, back where I feel most at home- doing what I love. This is THE cookie recipe that my mom shared with me on her recent trip. We spent the afternoon around the kitchen table, telling tales, kneading dough, trying various cookie cutters. The buttery shortbread is beautifully scented with coconut and finished with a creamy coconut drizzle. You can use whatever jam flavor you prefer or even marmalade.

Taken on Instagram
 
 
This recipe has a few steps so take an afternoon off, wear your most comfortable apron, gather family and friends and make these cookies as we did. Then pour yourself a cup of tea or milk and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

 
 
P.S- I hope to post my London photos soon. There will be lots of rustic tones. And perhaps a British inpired recipe too. Stay tuned.
Coconut Jam Shortbreads with Coconut Icing
 
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3-4 cups all purpose flour
1 egg white
desiccated sugar for sprinkling
1/2 cup jam (I used strawberry)
1/2 cup icing sugar
1-2 tsp coconut milk
 
Directions:
Using the paddle attachment on stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and beating well after each addition. Turn mixer speed to low and add 3 cups flour. Add the last cup of flour two tablespoons at a time until the dough just comes together. Form a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for ten minutes.
 
Place baking paper on a tray. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8 inch in between two pieces of parchment. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (with the parchments papers). Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Take it out of the fridge and use a cookie cutter to cut out shortbreads. Remove excess dough and use a spatula to transfer half the cut shortbreads onto the tray lined with baking paper (keep half inch space between them). Using the back of a small icing tip, cut a hole in the remaining shortbread. Brush the ones on the tray with egg wash and place the remaining shortbreads (with holes) on top. Brush the top with egg wash again and sprinkle with desiccated coconut. Heat strawberry jam in a pot till slightly runny. Place a small amount of the jam in the hole until it is just filled. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the edge of the shortbread just begin to brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack completely before icing.
 
To make the coconut icing, mix 1-2 teaspoons of the coconut milk to the icicng sugar until pouring consistency is achieved.

Makes about 22 cookies.
 
 

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Apple Crumble Trifle

 
Why do all good things have to come to an end? My parents left a couple of days ago after a whirlwind visit. My sister and her kids had also joined us from Qatar and each family member brought with them a bucket list of what they wanted to do in Dubai.
 
 
So along with them, I became a tourist in my own home country. We shopped, visited everyone’s favorite restaurants, had greasy street food-the list goes on. Maryam bonded with her cousin Imran all over again and they were inseparable. They did everything together from riding bikes, splashing in the pool or making the most beautiful drawings. 
 
 
Hassan achieved another milestone with the help of his sweet cousin Fatema. Three months older, she crawled at Olympic speed and not wanting to be left behind, he followed suite. It was a thrilling moment and he now follows us everywhere. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen his favorite spot to go hide his toys, watch tv from or just be.
 
 
And then there were many many long hours spent around the kitchen table. As they always are. If we weren’t buying food, we were either talking about it or preparing it. Or best of all eating it. Is that unusual?
 
 
And no visit is incomplete without my mom introducing a new recipe. This time, she made the most buttery and crumbly shortbread cookies with a shimmer of dessicated coconut and strawberry jam filling. Drizzled with coconut icing for extra sweetness. You can catch a sneak peek on Instagram and I hope to share it next week.
 
 
But today is a fall dessert that is my mom’s absolute favorite dessert. If I’m honest, I’ve even made this in the height of summer when I visit her in Tanzania- it’s something she, or rather WE, can have anytime. A simple apple crumble trifle. I started with some butter roasted apples with warm cinnamon and and muscavado sugar followed by vanilla bean custard. My favorite part is of course the crumble on top.
 
 
We silently sat on the sofa and finished our glasses without even looking at each other. All that could be heard were spoons clanking as we scooped every layer clean. Satisfied bellies whilst we clutched empty glasses with the anticipation of having leftovers for breakfast.
 

Apple Crumble Trifle
 
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups double cream
1 cup milk
1 vanilla pod, deseeded
1/4 cup + 2tbs caster sugar
5 egg yolks
1 tbs cornstarch
3 small apples- peeled, cored and thinly sliced into wedges
2 tbs butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbs muscavado sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup muscavado sugar
3 tbs cold butter, cubed
2 tbs ice cold water
 
Directions:
To make the custard, combine the cream, milk, vanilla pod plus seeds and 1/4 cup sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Mix together the rest of the sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch still smooth. Add the warm milk mixture to the egg mixture slowly and whisking the whole time. Return custard mixture to simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Cool by stirring over an ice bath and refrigerate.
 
To make the roasted apples, combine the first four ingredients and bake at 180 degrees Centigrade for 30-35 minutes until soft and cooked.
 
To make the crumble, pulse together the next three ingredients (flour, sugar, butter) until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add water and rake with a fork to make small clumps. Freeze for ten minutes before baking at 180 degrees Centigrade for 20- 25 minutes or until golden.
 
Assemble the trifle by layering the apples topped with cold custard and sprinkled with crumble.
 
Makes 6 trifles depending on glass size.
 
 

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