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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Blackberry Custard Tarts



   
 
 
She comes every year, yet I cannot get enough of her. She’s like the house guests we always look forward to, making sure to lay clean crisp sheets on the bed for them and lavender bags in the cupboard. After a few days we grow tired of them and crave to have our house back in order.
 
 
This time was no different. When she arrived, her bags were bursting at the seams. She brought with her berries and currants. Zucchini and cantaloupes. I loved seeing the layers upon layers of gems that slowly came out of her suitcase. My heart was giddy and my brain throbbed with menu plans.

 
To fill her days, we would go for a swim to cool down. Of course, a popsicle had to follow. She loved having us devour melon with sea salt and nibble on cherries. She beckoned us for picnics under the shade.  My most favorite thing about her though is the visitors she brought with her. Whilst she was here, my nieces visited. Then there was Akber’s brother. Finally, friends from far away graced our humble abode.
 
 
Every morning, she welcomed us with beams of golden light darting through the lace curtains. Every morning…..without fail. Even when she was sad, she never threatened rain. She was our alarm clock to wake, our cue to put the kids to sleep when she set.
 

Towards the end, she unraveled treasures of ripened peaches, dusky plums. We ate them over the kitchen counter, their juices trickling down our elbows. Then, unashamedly, we licked our elbows. She didn’t judge. Just when we thought that was the last of her bounty, she surprised us with one last present. Little nuggets of sweetness. In different shades of red, ruby, crimson. Tomatoes. We made soups, roasted them with honey, ate them as is.
 
 
This time though, She behaved and didn’t outstay her welcome. Gave us enough to savor but also had us begging for more. So until next time. Summer……we will miss you. But before she bid us adieu, she let us in on a little secret.

 
‘Shortly, someone very special will visit you- her name is Autumn. Someone that will bring you the smells of fall, cinnamon and nutmeg. She will have boxes upon boxes of apples and pears. She will entice you to wear your best angora sweaters and to dance to the pitter patter of gentle rain. You will know she is here when you see an envelop of fog in the morning.
 
 
Don’t forget to make her a warm cup of flavored tea when she arrives. And in exchange she will lay a carpet of leaves for you- rusty shades of orange and red to thank you with. However, don’t be so fickle and forget me. I am sure to return. As I always do, year after year.’
 
We will miss you Summer. You are always welcome, anytime.


Blackberry Custard Tarts

Ingredients:
Pastry Crust:
200 gms butter, room temperature
100 gms sugar
1 egg
300- 350 gms all purpose flour
 
Custard filling:
300ml double cream
1/4 cup + 1 tbs sugar
3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
1 vanilla bean, deseeded and stick discarded
1/2 cup blackberries, halved
 
Directions:
To make tart bases, cream the butter and sugar using the paddle attachment on your mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in 300 grams of flour. If the mixture doesn’t clean the sides of the bowl, keep adding more flour a tablespoon at a time until it does. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
 
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Grease your tart bases and roll out the tart dough using minimal flour to a 1/4 inch thickness. Fill the tart bases and use your fingers to mould tart dough into shape. Pierce the tarts with a fork and bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
 
In the mean time, make the filling by mixing all the filling ingredients together until incorporated. Fill tart shells and with custard filling and place 5-6 blackberry halves into each tart. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes until custard is set.  
 
Can be eaten immediately but we refrigerated ours and ate them cold.
 
Filling enough for 8 tarts. Leftover dough can be frozen

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Garbanzo Bean Salad with Bitter Greens

 
Hello there. A short and sweet post from me today. Just popping in to tell you about a piece I did for the fall issue of House of Fifty magazine. The story revolves around how certain foods affect our moods and if stress can be overcome with diet.

 
Perfect timing for me really as my life is currently being turned upside down and most stressful to say the least. My baby Maryam started Kindergarten last week. She is having a ball but I must admit, after I dropped her and silently sat in the car alone, the tears flowed. Was it not yesterday that she was bouncing off the walls in her walker, cradling my finger in her tiny paws as she learnt to walk, pronounced doughnuts as ‘odon’ as she mastered her speech?

 
Yes, where did the time go. And here she is today proudly showing off her new blue and white school- she hasn’t quite mastered the name yet. Or carrying her shiny new trolley bag that she picked all by herself.
 
Then there’s our move coming up next week. Finally moving to  bigger place with a garden. So much to pack and organize. Am I crazy that the one thing that concerns me the most is the amount of natural daylight I’ll get for my photography?!

 
I’m hoping to settle right in as my parents will be visiting early October after which I’ll be off on a short holiday with them. Exciting but stressful times. More about that soon. Finally, there is another video I’m currently editing and posting later this week. There will be blackberries. And custard. And perhaps a rugrat….or two helping me eat. Stay tuned.

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Pasta with Honey Roasted Tomatoes and Herbed Breadcrumbs

 

Well hello September. Whilst you haven’t brought with you any lull in heat or humidity (yet), I’m excited for cooler climes to come. Schools will commence soon, baking will take precendence, open windows will be embraced. The air will become crisp, apples and cinnamon will take over kitchen counters. Yes, I’m hopeful.


But before we bid a final adieu to summer, here is a recipe that uses the best of summer’s produce. It can even be bottled up for enjoyment throughout the rest of the year.

 
Although we tend to get most produce all year round, there has been so much tomato goodness floating around the web and I was most intrigued by this recipe from Saveur. I have always added a touch of sugar to my tomato sauce to cut the acidity but have never experimented with maple syrup.


I have a experimented with both maple syrup and honey. Both transform the cherry tomatoes into little nuggets of richness. The caramelised juices at the bottom of my baking tray made the most wonderful salad dressing. I blended the roasted tomatoes and spread it on a crunchy baguette topped with thin parmesan slices and a generous shower of herbs. One recipe and so many uses.


And then there was this pasta for dinner. I quickly roasted some breadcrumbs tossed with some garlic, thyme and parsley. Stirred this golden goodness with spaghetti and some of the leftover sauce. Finally, I crowned it with the roasted tomatoes. A beautiful mess of a meal.

 
And then there was a tiny bowl left for breakfast the next morning. Cold of course. Tell me I’m not the only one to eat cold pasta for breakfast?

Pasta with Honey Roasted Tomatoes and Herbed Breadcrumbs

Ingredients:
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves peeled garlic
2 tbs honey/ maple syrup
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tbs red chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste.
400 gms spaghetti (or four servings)
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbs parsley
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 clove garlic
grated parmesan to serve

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Centigrade. Line a tray with baking sheet and place tomatoes cut side up and garlic. Mix together honey, olive oil, thyme, chili, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the tomatoes and bake for 3-4 hours until tomatoes are half dried. Baste once in a while during this time. Blend half the tomatoes and any leftover juices on baking tray.

In the mean time, prepare pasta according to manufacturer’s directions and set aside. In a frying pan, heat olive oil. Add to it breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme and garlic. Keep stirring till golden.

Toss the cooked pasta with the blended roasted tomatoes and herbed bread crumbs. Serve with the remaining whole roasted tomatoes and grated parmesan.

Serves 4.

Honey roasted tomato recipe adapted from Saveur.





 

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Tabbouleh Salad with Chickpeas


I can’t believe we’re coming to the end of August. Soon, schools will reopen, traffic will build up and the weather will begin to get cooler. I can’t say I’m not relieved. It was a hard summer of trying to entertain a spritely three year old indoors and fending off questions about why we won’t be going to the beach in the near foreseeable future.


I am so ready for the new school year to start. For Maryam, it will be a new school, a new environment, new friends and lots of new adventures. I am so excited for her and so is she. We are both looking forward to this new journey and settling into a routine.


Routine. Something I thrive on. Something that has been missing on this blog of late. My intention was always to blog once a week but it seems I have been apologetic on numerous occasions for not being able to as often as I’d like. I do think about it often though and have a whole notepad  full of ideas and recipes begging to be tried. 


But today I bring you something that I’ve been making for the past five years. That’s right- five. I’m surprised I haven’t blogged about it before. This tabbouleh was one of the very first Middle Eastern dishes I learnt to imitate when I first moved to Dubai.


The abundance of parsley and torn specks of mint  not only make it vibrant but the perfect palate cleanser when paired with meats and poultry. Recently I have been eating it on its own as lunch and to make it a bit more hearty and satisfying, I added chickpeas (you can omit this if you wish to be more authentic).


On a separate note, I have finally joined Pinterest, although sometimes I almost wish I hadn’t! So many beautiful things like this ceramic cake stand. And wouldn’t you want to live in this house? Oh and I’ll definitely be making this cake soon.


Tabbouleh Salad with Chickpeas

Ingredients:
1/2 cup fine burghul (cracked wheat)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup chickpeas
1 tomato, finely chopped
few torn sprigs of mint

Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt to taste

Directions:
To make the dressing, add all the ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously. Set aside until ready to serve.

Add the lemon juice to the burghul and let it sit for ten minutes. Use a fork to separate the burghul. In a bowl, put in all the salad ingredients including the burghul. Drizzle the dressing and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Note: Make sure the parsley is completely dry before chopping (do not use the stalks). Chop with a knife and do not use a food processor as this will bruise the herb.





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One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting


You may think from my absence on this blog that not much cooking has been happening in our kitchen. Quite the contrary actually. If you follow me on Instagram you have probably seen what I’ve been up to in the kitchen.


Correction- what we have been up to. With Maryam off from school, baking and cooking is a great way to entertain and keep her busy- she ALWAYS wants to help. We have made orzo salad with arugula and sweet cherry tomatoes, soft doughy bread rolls, home made pizza with the most flavorful and easy tomato sauce ever. Must share that one soon.


This one bowl chocolate cake has been a favorite. I cannot tell you how many times we have made this cake over the last few months. July and August is a busy month for us when it comes to birthdays and other celebrations. A total of eight I think. Yes, and our anniversary too. Eleven years married.


And so a celebration cake is always sitting on our counter, more than likely chocolate. After all it needs no season right? Moist, easy, no hassle and little clean up. Simple, yet always looks like so much effort went into it.


I like to top it with some chocolate whipped cream for special occassions but it works just as well topped with fresh berries and powdered sugar. Even though I have blogged about this recipe before, it was Maryam who prompted this post.


‘Mamma, why are you not taking a picture of the cake?’ And I thought, why not. Even though this cake has graced the blog, sometimes there is nothing like on old favorite. Something comforting, like a soft old blanket. Weathered, frayed at the ages, used a multitude of times but cocoons like no other.


And that is exactly what this cake does.  


One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Whipped Frosting

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot brewed coffee
2 eggs
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups whipping cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 175 degrees Centigrade and grease and flour two 6 inch cake pans. In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Create a well in the centre and add all the rest of the ingredients except coffee. Mix well until combined and then add coffee. Mix once again (the batter will be very runny). Pour into greased pans and bake in the middle rack in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out just clean. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, heat the whipping cream in a pan to a simmer (do NOT boil). Add to it chocolate chips and stir to combine until chips have melted. Regrifgerate until cool and whip until stiff peaks form.

Cream will not whip if boiled or if not completely cold before whipping.

Cake recipe from Allrecipes.com

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Cantaloupe, Lime and Mint Slushy


‘Are we going to Abu Dhaaaaabi tomorrow?’ Maryam asked in her sing song voice. Those that know her will know what I mean when I say her sing song voice. Akber gave me that look- the one questioning me why I tell her these plans so early.



We both knew the consequences. That is all she asked the whole day, every hour! Not only did she wake when the first flitter of morning sun seeped past her blinds the next day, she was ready to leave by 7am. Yes, that is right. And so, at a more respectable 10am, both kids were packed into the car and one picnic basket of snacks that Akber remarked could feed an army in the desert.

I had been meaning to visit the Grand Mosque (or Sheikh Zayed Mosque) ever since I arrived as a tourist in Dubai more than five years ago. One failed attempt two years ago occurred when the imposing structure was within arm’s reach but the spaghetti off roads surrounding the mosque meant it still remained elusive.


Not this time though. We carefully planned our route. Akber had some work in town so it was about 4:30 or so when we reached. Perfect time for a sunset tour of the mosque and the best time to take photos. Although still very hot, the mosque was bathed in a golden aura. Through the heat, it looked as though the numerous minarets were dancing.



As my feet burrowed into the plush, plump carpets, I was taken in by the light and colors. The light that bounced off the shimmering chandeliers, the light that was reflected off of the jeweled scriptures, that amazing, dreamy light. It took my breath away.


At every step, there was a sight to inspire, rows and rows upon rows of gilded columns, enchanting calligraphy, stories behind every corner. I had many questions that our guide automatically knew the answer to without hesitation.


As I sat near one of the many reflective pools, I took in all the beauty, the peace and calming atmosphere. Around me, I saw faces of every culture, every color, every age all gathered as equals. Beautiful. I highly recommend you to visit this marvelous structure if you are in UAE.


And this drink? Well, after a long and hot day taking photographs at every opportunity, this is exactly the kind of cooling drink I needed. We all needed actually. It is a forgiving recipe- all the ingredients can be varied according to your taste.



The best part is- we have had it as a slushy, a popsicle, a sorbet, a granita. Same recipe, many ways to enjoy it. I hope you will give it a try in some form before summer slips away. Ramadhan Kareem everyone.


Cantaloupe, Lime and Mint Slushy

Ingredients:
sugar syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

1 cantaloupe- I used half honeydew and half cantaloupe
juice of 5 limes
3 tbs chopped mint
1 tbs lime zest
sugar syrup to taste
3 cups ice cubes

Directions:
To make the sugar syrup, boil water and sugar until the sugar has just dissolved. Depending on the sweetness of the melons, you will not use up all the sugar syrup which can be frozen as ice cubes to use some other time.

To make the slushy, blend all the ingredients at high speed in a blender. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Makes 5 glasses.

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Plum Cakes with Coconut and Hazelnut Crumble


I’ve had a bee in my bonnet. I recently came across this phrase and love the way it rolls on the tongue……’bee in my bonnet.’ And according to Akber, it fits me to perfection. You see I constantly seem to have a bee in my bonnet. Correction- bees.


Whether it’s transforming a simple fruit into a luxurious dessert, learning a new craft, spring cleaning or playing with unusual flavors, I’m always on the lookout for the next task that I want to achieve. An unknown journey to embark upon, a new skill to add to my cap…..or bonnet in this case.


With the summer holidays upon us and the seething sun outside we have been forced to hibernate indoors. I thought this to be the perfect time to whip out the books, sharpen the pencils and teach myself to make a video.


It has been something I have wanted to do ever since the first few videos appeared on food blogs and I was enamoured by them. The thought daunted me tremendously as I sat pondering whether I should or not for many weeks. But then I thought back to the first time I held my DSLR- the excitement in my belly, the thrill in my heart and joy of seeing my images on screen. There was no turning back.


My first attempt however, was a complete failure- trying to take a video and be in it was rather ambitious for my first attempt. And top that with a new recipe I was concocting in my head- a marriage of plums and chocolate in a cake. Not only was the video a flop but so was the cake.


But with that bee still buzzing incessantly, I marched on. I knew I wanted flour, butter and sugar to be the main protagonists in this video. Some fruit for a punch of color and two bouncing kidlets to complete the scene. 


And so this plum cake was born. A light crumb and a bit of fruit to wile away the guilt. And because crumble makes everything better, that made the perfect topping. So go ahead and make it, share it and relish…..


I hope you enjoyed this video as much as me, Aliya and Maryam had making it. I must also thank Russell for his patience and keen enthusiasm to share his wealth of knowledge on the subject. So much so that another one is in the pipeline. Would you like to see more?


Wishing you a beautiful and inspired week ahead.

Edited to add: Sips and Spoonfuls has been shortlisted in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2012! (enter an email to see the list and vote)



Plum Cakes with Coconut and Hazelnut Crumble

Ingredients:
For the cake:
7 tbs butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt 1/2 cup buttermilk

4 plums- sliced
2 tbs turbinado sugar

For the crumble:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup muscavado sugar
5 tbs cold butter- cubed
1/2 cup dessicated coconut- toasted
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped
3 tbs ice cold water
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Line a muffin tray with liners.

To make the crumble, mix all the ingredients together except water (you can do this by hand or in a food processor. Add the water and rake gently with a fork until some clumps are formed. Freeze for 10 minutes.

To make the cake, mix together all the dry ingredients. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy and light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients followed by the buttermilk in two additions. Sprinkle sliced plums with turbinado sugar. Fill liners 2/3 with batter. Arrange plum slices on top followed by crumble. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Makes 9 mini plum cakes.

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Eton Mess Trifle


To say it has been humid lately would be an understatement. And hot too. My hair is resembles an Afro wig, my skin sweaty to the point that it is difficult to separate skin from clothes, my eye glasses fog every time I leave the apartment.


I am typing this as I sit under a a cloud of billowing cold air blasting from the AC. Sipping a cold ambrosia melon, lemongrass and bruised mint granita to nurse this heat hangover. My eyes are heavy, drooping from the weight of the sun. The sun which only grazed my body for those few minutes as I walked briskly from the elevator to my car on my way to to do the school run. That was more than enough.


Yet, we aren’t even in the thick of summer. The temperatures are still set to soar, this is the mere beginning. We have already been trying in vain to beat the heat by lounging by the pool, playing with sprinklers, opening the fridge for a gasp of cool air.


To keep cool in this weather, I usually find solace in the form of slushies….any fruit will do. Whirled with a few bricks of ice, sometimes yoghurt and a touch of honey or sugar. We’re ready to go…..and when I say go, I mean fast. Or you’ll see it melt before you.


But before I give you the recipe for the melon slushy, let’s talk about these strawberries. The ones that disappeared from our Farmer’s markets weeks ago. The ones that I barely had a chance to nibble on before their time was up.


Yet, whose sweetness still lingers in my mouth. Strawberry season may be over in Dubai but we’re still able to find them in their troves thanks to American and British seasons. And nothing cools and soothes like strawberries with cream. A gentle cooling balm in this scorching weather.

I decided to make this classic British dessert with a Middle Eastern twist. A splash of rosewater in the meringues and a scattering of pistachio nuts. You may leave both these out if you are so inclined. Meringues has also been on my wish list to both bake and eat for the first time.



My first few attempts were disastrous- sugar syrup weeped from the meringues during baking (I didn’t beat the caster sugar and egg whites sufficiently. Make sure it doesn’t feel grainy or else beat them more). My second attempt didn’t even make it ot the oven. I added vinegar and the meringue curdled. But third time lucky and one more dessert marked off the bucket list.


A slushy melts before me and an afternoon nap beckons so I will be off. Stay cool until next time…..

Eton Mess Trifle

Ingredients:
3 egg whites
2 pinches salt
3/4 caster sugar
1 tsp rosewater (optional)
handful chopped pistachio nuts
10 ounces strawberries
2 tbs caster sugar
500 ml whipping cream
4 tbs caster sugar
chopped pistachios for garnish

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Centigrade and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Tip the egg whites into a clean and dry mixing bowl and start beating at medium speed. Add the salt, Whisk until frothy. Whisking at high speed, start adding the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking 3-4 seconds between each addition. Whisk until stiff peaks form. The meringue will appear very glossy and puffy like clouds. It should not feel gritty (If it does, keep whisking until sugar has dissolved). Add the rose essence if desired and whisk for 30 seconds until incorporated. Scoop a large tablespoon of the mixture onto the baking tray, using another tablespoon to ease it onto the parchment paper. Leave a 1 inch gap between meringues. Sprinkle with pistachio and bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hrs, rotating after 1 hour. I baked mine for 1 hour and 20 minutes to achieve a crispy outer shell and a marshmallow centre. Bake for longer if you’d like it crispy all the way through. Turn the oven off and leave the door open. Allow meringues to cool in open oven. Break roughly by hand.

Hull the strawberries and chop roughly. Add the caster sugar and allow to macerate for 30 minutes. Whiz into a puree. Beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form (I added sugar to mine but that is optional). Fold the strawberry puree into the cream roughly to create a marbled effect.

To assemble the trifle, start with a layer of strawberry and cream followed by a layer of broken meringues and lastly, a sprinkle of pistachio nuts. Repeat layers 3-4 times and serve immediately.

Makes 5-6 trifles depending on glass size. Unbroken meringues can be stored in airtight container for 2 weeks.




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Creamy Pea and Mint Spaghetti



I’ve been meaning to tell you about this creamy pea, mint and cilantro spaghetti with chili for a while now. Over a month to be exact.  But I was so excited about my holiday and then these juicy grilled chops that I completely forgot. So let’s rewind a month or so.


It all began with a slight cough one morning, an extra yawn on the drive to school. I didn’t think much of it. It was the last day of the week and we were all tired.


But then I got that dreaded phone call from the nursery. My heart always skips a beat when I get a call from there. I just knew something was wrong. ‘Maryam has a fever of 38.5, can we give her Calpol?’ asked her nursery nurse. On my way to pick her up, I thought back to the morning and that tired faraway look in her eyes.


Things went from bad to worse as her fever peaked to nearly 41. Akber took her to emergency at 4 am. It was a rough night. We all lay in on Friday including Hassan. He probably knew I just didn’t have the energy after being awake round the clock the night before.


For once though, I woke before Maryam did. Usually, she tip toes into my room and wakes me up with the biggest smile but the fever had hit her hard. As she rested, I took the opportunity to make one of her favorite meals. Isn’t that what Moms do when their loved ones are ill?


Pasta has always been a household favorite of everyone’s including her. We have a myriad different ways we eat them as I’ve mentioned before. I decided to add a few other ingredients she loves such as peas and parmesan cheese. I knew it would be polished off in no time. Bar the mint that is, which she detests. Or ‘seaweed’ as she calls it. However, I did add that and chopped red chili for extra flavor on our plates.


It was quite a sight to see the ‘process’ of her dissecting this meal. She first searched for the hidden shelled peas in the spaghetti and cream maze. Pop into her mouth, one by one. Then came the snap peas followed by its sturdier cousin, the sugar snap variety. Like a game. Meals are always more fun that way right.



Creamy Pea and Mint Spaghetti

Ingredients:500 gms spaghetti (or enough for four servings)
1 cup shelled peas
1/4 cup sugar snap peas
1/4 cup snow peas
3 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups single cream
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesan plus extra to serve
2 tbs cilantro, chopped
2 tbs mint, chopped
1 red chili, chopped

Directions:
Boil spaghetti according to instructions till al dente and drain. In salted boiling water, blanch the peas for 2 minutes. Drain and wash with cold waater to stop the cooking process. In a pan, heat olive oil and add the onion and garlic and saute till onions are translucent. Add the cream, red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and add the parmesan. Stir in the cooked spaghetti, blanched peas and chopped herbs. If the sauce appears thick, you can thin it down with water. Garnish with extra parmesan and chopped chili.



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