Tiramisù

My dear friend and neighbor Rania makes this beautiful tiramisù cake from three basic ingredients: Dream Whip topping mix,  Nestle sweetened condensed milk and Nestle ashta, which is clotted cream or Devonshire cream (photo below). She whips them all together to make her own equally yummy version of popular Italian dessert.

Before I start with the ingredients, I want to say that Rani has done and decorated the tiramisù in the photo above. Beatuiful presentation, eh?!

Tiramisù (serves 10, in a 30cmx20cm serving dish)

- 3 envelopes Dream Whip dessert topping mix

- 350ml Nestle cream (ashta or Devonshire cream, also known as clotted cream)

- 250ml Nestle sweetened condensed milk

- Ladyfingers

- 1 cup water, room temperature

- 2 Tbsp instant coffee

- Dark unsweetened cocoa

Method:

In a bowl and using an electric mixer, whip the first three ingredients on high speech continuously for 5 minutes. The mixture should thicken (like whipped cream). Let the mixture cool in the fridge while you prepare the ladyfingers.

Stir the coffee in the water and dip each ladyfinger in it until it absorbs coffee but remains stiff. Place the ladyfingers on a bottom of the serving dish to make one layer. Try not to leave any gaps. Now, take the cream that you prepared out of the fridge and spread it all over the ladyfingers. It should make a thick layer. The last step is to cover the cream with cocoa powder. With a small hand sieve, powder cocoa powder all over the cream to fully coat it. Thicken the layer as desired. Place the cake in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours before you enjoy with your 9 friends!


Piña Colada Layer Cake

If I were to bake a summer wedding cake, I’d choose something as juicy and refreshing as this cake. I loved the coconut and pineapple flavors together! It might not taste like what a piña colada drink would taste like, but I think that I can safely call my layer cake a Piña Colada Cake :)

Piña Colada Layer Cake (serves 6)

For two 20cmx20cm cakes, you need:

- 2 eggs

- 1/2 cup sugar

- 3/4 cup olive oil

- 1 cup yogurt

- 1 1/2 cup flour

- 1/2 cup coconut

- 2 tsp baking powder

- Vanilla

- 1 can of sliced pineapples, preserve the liquid

- Whipped cream for the coating

Method:

Heat the oven to 375F.

In a bowl, whisk the egg and the sugar. Add the oil and yogurt and whisk well until you get a creamy homogeneous mixture. Gradually, add the coconut, flour, baking powder and vanilla.

Pour the batter in two greased tins (or used parchment paper like I did) and bake together for 30 minutes or so. It is always safer to check with a toothpick before turning off the heat.

Allow the cakes to completely cool before you start coating it with the whipped cream.

To decorate:

- Turn the cake that you’ll use as the bottom layer upside down. Pour a few tablespoons of the pineapple liquid from the can to moisten the cake. The cake should absorb the liquid. Make sure not to over moisten the cake. Now, spread a layer of cream and then a layer of the sliced pineapples.

- Spread a layer of cream on the bottom part of the second cake, the cake that you’ll be using as the top cake. Now, place the top cake on the bottom cake and fully coat with the remaining whipped cream. Cool in the fridge before serving.

A cake you will NOT regret making, decorating and devouring.

Peggy’s Giant Cupcake

Now this is a cake worth trying, no?!

Peggy is my dear friend and neighbor who shares my passion for cooking and baking. She came up with the idea of baking this beautiful cake for simply no occasion at all! (I don’t think this colorful cute thing needs an occasion!)

This is what we did that yielded this mountain of sweetness: We baked a regular orange pound cake from a recipe that Peggy has from her mother and baked it in this cupcake cake mold. After cooling it on a wire rack, we smothered it with our homemade chocolate sauce that was the perfect coating for this delicious sponge cake.

Orange Pound Cake:

- 4 eggs

- Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon

- 1 tsp vanilla

- 2 cups sugar

-1 cup orange juice

- 3/4 cup oil

- 3 cups flour, sifted

- 3 tsp baking powder

Homemade Chocolate Sauce:

- 2 cups milk

- 9 Tbsp sugar

- 1 Tbsp flour

- 1 Tbsp cornflour

- 1 Tbsp butter

- Dark unsweetened cocoa powder, according to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to 360F.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add the vanilla, orange zest and lemon zest. Add the sugar. Whisk until dissolved. Add the orange juice. Whisk. Add the oil. Whisk well. Now add the dry ingredients cup by cup whisking all along. The batter should be yellow in color and very smooth and silky. If you’re using a giant cupcake mold,  butter both parts of the mold and pour half the batter in one part of the mold and the other half in the other part of the mold. If you’re using a regular bundt mold, simply butter the pan and pour all of the batter.

Bake for one hour. Test before taking out.

While the cake is baking, prepare the chocolate sauce. Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan. While continuously whisking, bring to boil. Turn off the heat when the sauce reaches the desired thickness. Let it cool before you coat your cake with it.

If using the giant cupcake mold: When the cake is ready and BEFORE turning it over, cut off the top of the cakes that have risen over the edge of the cake. You need both cakes to have a flat surface. Then, turn over both cakes and before you put them on top of each other to resemble a giant cupcake, spread a layer of chocolate sauce in between. When you have your cake assembled into a giant cupcake, spread the chocolate sauce all over. We chose to decorate it with the sugary little sprinkles that you can see in the photos.

If using a regular cake pan: When the cake completely cools down, slice it horizontally in half and spread a layer of chocolate sauce in the middle and then cover the whole cake with chocolate sauce. You can decorate it with the colorful sprinkles or with chocolate shavings.

Zucchini and Mushroom Casserole

My mom’s best friend: pasta!

Zucchini and Mushroom Casserole

Ingredients:

- 350g penne pasta

- 1 L water, salty like the sea

For the tomato sauce:

- 1 Tbsp olive oil

- 1 Tbsp butter

- 2 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

- 2 chili flakes, crushed

- 1 can peeled and chopped tomatoes

- 1 tsp tomato paste

- 1/8 cup water

- Sprinkle of salt and black pepper

- 1 tsp Italian seasoning

For the vegetables:

- 1 cup zucchini, sliced into disks

- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced

- 1 tsp olive oil

- 1 tsp butter

Topping: 3/4 cup of mixed grated cheese (I use Emmental and mozzarella)


Method:

Cook the pasta according to packet in the salty water.

To prepare the tomato sauce, fry the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes  in the oil and butter until the garlic is golden. Add the tomatoes from the can, the tomato paste, the water and season well. Bring the mixture to boil and then simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350F.

To cook the vegetables, heat the oil and butter and stir fry the mushroom and zucchini until they are soft.

When the pasta is cooked, add them over the tomato sauce and stir well. Add the vegetables. Stir and check the salt and seasoning.

Put the mixed pasta in a baking dish and cover with all the cheese. Place in the oven and cook until the cheese melts (15 minutes) and for a golden effect, broil for a few minutes.

 

Baba Ghannouj

For this beautiful plate of baba ghannouj, you need:

- 500 g eggplants

- 4 Tbsp tahini

- Juice of 1 and 1/2 lemons

- 1/2 heaped tsp salt

- Olive oil

- 1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)

Method:

- Place the eggplants in a baking tray in the oven. Broil for 30 minutes (or until the eggplants become very soft), turning the eggplants over half way.

- Take the eggplants out of the oven and carefully peel off the skin and cut off the top.

- Place the pulp of the eggplants in a colander to strain the water out of it. (10 minutes)

- Using a food processor or with a fork, mash the eggplants with the tahini, salt and lemon juice. Mix until until almost creamy.

- Place in a plate and generously pour extra virgin olive oil. Baba ghannouj is best served cold, so cool it in the fridge before having it with pita bread as a dip or as a side dish to a green salad.

 

 

Baked Blueberry Cheesecake

As many of you know, my mother is visiting me for a couple of weeks, and for this special occasion I am preparing all the delicious things that she wants. She said she likes cheesecake but hasn’t tried a baked cheesecake before, so I made this cheesecake from a recipe that I had found on Foodbuzz.

BAKED BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:

For the crust:

- 2 and 1/2 cups digestive biscuits, finely crushed
– 1/4 cup butter, melted

For the filling:

- 900 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
– 1/3 cup lemon juice
– 1 and 1/2 cup caster sugar (or just give the granulated sugar a quick buzz in a food processor)
– 1 Tbsp cornflour
– 1 and 1/3 cup double cream or whipping cream or creme fraiche
– 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 cup of white chocolate, melted
– 1 cup blueberries, dusted with a little flour

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Mix the crushed biscuits with the butter and press gently onto the base of a spring-form pan.

Mix all the ingredients for the filling together except the blueberries. You might have to beat the mixture with an electric beater for a minute.

To prepare, pour half the cheese mixture over the biscuits then throw in the blueberries scattered on top. Then, pour in the other half of the cheese mixture. Smooth the surface. Place in the oven for one hour and 15 minutes. Then, let it cool on your kitchen surface, and then refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

My mom loved this cake. She said that the citrus hint balances out the sweetness in the cheese filling. So, next time you are in the mood for some cheesecake, why not try this recipe?!