Ras el Hanout, Hummus & Caramelised Onion Stuffed Sweet Potatoes + EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT

Ras el Hanout stuffed sweet potatoes
I go in and out of phases of shopping for the same, one particular ingredient, purely due to a complete, utter obsession. You know how it is… dinner seems incomplete without it, and not grabbing a couple off the shelves every supermarket shop feels like your cheating on your best friend.

– Hummus for one… I don’t even know what to snack with if that’s not in the fridge right now. You can’t have crackers by themselves…
– Did someone mention avocado? I know this is the most classic, basic thing one could eat… but what other ingredient could I throw into almost every meal and get that wonderfully creamy and buttery sensation… your right, avocado is the one and only.
– Sweet potato… an instant staple. The obsession has been going on a strong year now (showing no signs of stopping), and without it stored safely by my side in the kitchen, those ‘chuck together whatever you have for dinner’ nights would be far more empty it. Thank-you sweet potato, I am forever in your debt.

Ras el Hanout stuffed sweet potatoes
So, let’s combine one oldie obsession with a newie. (NB – BIG ANNOUNCEMENT APPROACHING).
Amongst doing some research for the cookbook i’m writing (oops there it is!) I came across a new favourite ingredient: ras el hanout paste. (Shall we back track a bit here? Sure thing.)
My LONG silence, and poor posting schedule is because i’ve been working on my first cookbook with Hardie Grant! It’s a lunch one, all about re-invigorating that midday meal break – ain’t no soggy creased sandwiches in sight!
Bit excited? Me too! How many times can one say the word surreal? Many many more.
More info to come, but it’s coming out in February so before you know it, it could be in your hot little hands!

Anyways – back on track! Ras el Hanout roasted sweet potatoes, with an added bonus of hummus, and cous cous (unintentional rhyming), sweetness from caramelised onions and a little bit of toasted pita on the side for good measure. Everybody wins. And more ras el hanout and sweet potatoes will be seen in the book! Stay tuned groovy people.

serves 2-3

2 sweet potatoes, halved
4 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 ras el hanout paste
70g cous cous
100ml boiling water
1/2 tsp ground cumin
20g almonds, roughly chopped
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
parsley & feta to garnish
hummus and pita to serve
salt to season

Caramalised Onions:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, sliced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F/ Gas mark 6. Coat the sweet potatoes in 2 tbsp of the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Stir together the raw el hanout and 2 tbsp oil and spread over the sweet potatoes. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until caramelised and tender.
2. In a medium frypan, heat the oil over low heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes or until softened and turning lightly golden, tossing the pan regularly (resisting the urge to turn up the heat). Stir in the sugar and balsamic and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the onions are caramalised.
3. In a small bowl, pour in the cous cous and top with the boiling water, 1/2 tbsp remaining oil, cumin, and a pinch of salt. Cover and leave for 5 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork, and add more seasoning and olive oil if necessary.
4. To serve, cut a lengthways slit into the sweet potatoes, slightly open and fill with the cous cous, and caramalised onions. Garnish with feta, parsley, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and serve alongside hummus and toasted pita.

Thanks for stopping by!


Hot Cross Bun Palmiers

hot cross bun palters
I say morning. You say coffee.
I say spring. You say flowers.
I say Easter. You say Chocolate.
It’s goes without thinking doesn’t it?

Even though an easter egg (ideally filled with smarties) jumps to mind immediately, I could never forget the comfort the hot cross bun brings every year.
Being used to Easter in Autumn, the moorish spiced buns remind me of crisp days, spent around the sunbathed round window at home, where we would spend our weekends flicking through magazines, sipping all sorts of warm drinks, and tucking into way more then our fair share of hot cross buns over the Easter month (and hoping against our own will that we wouldn’t devour them all, so we could still enjoys it’s pleasures well into winter… fat chance.)

hot cross bun palters
Despite having a history of opting for either the fruitless hot cross buns, mocha or chocolate back in the gold old days, I can now proudly say I’ve graduated to full maturity in the past few years and boldly reach both hands forward to (hopefully) receive a massive handful of proper hot cross buns. (no offence mocha, you did proved yourself a worthy snack at school).

Playing with the flavours usually found in the traditional hot cross bun, last year I made a variation of my Mega Brioche Buns and embellished them with orange marmalade, sultanas, and sugary spices. Being in a similar sort of mode (funnily enough a year on) I thought I’d take this winning combo and use them to enhance an already well-loved palmier.

But this isn’t just any old tea saucer filler. This is a whole lot of love in a little french biscuit, with carefully rolled and folded layers of homemade puff pastry, enriched with the hot cross bun mother spices and the slightest hum of orange.
There is no regret in making the pastry from scratch – only a whole lot of reward in the wonderfully delicate result! Like a proud mother, I couldn’t recommend it more.
I’ve sorta made a semi pact with myself to always have some homemade puff pastry in the freezer in the case of emergencies aka craving palmiers

hot cross bun palters

puff pastry recipe adapted from ‘The Kitchn‘ – with great step-by-step pictures!)

makes 12 medium sized palmiers

280g (2 cups) plain flour + 1 tbsp
pinch of salt
150ml ice water
230g butter, chilled and cut into large cubes
zest 2 oranges
4 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
40g currents
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Tip your flour into a mound on your work surface. Make a well in the centre and sprinkle in 1 tbsp of the water. Lightly fluff the flour with your fingers to incorporate well the water. Reform a mound and repeat adding the water, and mixing it through until the dough clumps together in large pieces and holds together when pressed.
2. Press into a a square, wrap in cling film, and refrigerate for 30 mins.
3. Whilst the dough is resting, prepare your butter by sprinkling with a bit of the tablespoon of flour and pounding flat using a rolling pin. Gather and pound the butter, dusting with a touch of flour when the butter begins to stick to the work surface and repeat until the butter is pliable and doesn’t break when folded back on itself. Shape into approximately a 10cm by 10cm square (for 4inch square) and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes (no more).
4. Once the dough and butter are chilled, roll the dough roughly into a 18cm square (or 7inch) and place the butter in the centre of the dough, at a 90C angle. Fold over the dough edges to meet in the middle, around the butter like an envelope, and pinch to seal.
5. Flip the dough over, seam side down and roll into a 15cm x 30cm rectangle (or 6inch by 20inch). Lengthways, fold the top third over the middle third, and the bottom third over both like a letter. Rotate 90 degrees and roll out again into a 15cm by 30cm rectangle. Fold by thirds again. – This is 2 folds. Cover with cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
6. Once the dough has chilled, repeat the rolling out and folding the dough two more times. – This is now 4 folds. Chill again. Repeat the rolling out and folding 2 more times. – This is now 6 folds. Chill now for 1 hour or overnight.
7. Stir together the zest, sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Roll out the dough into a 20cm by 40cm rectangle (8inch by 16inch) and sprinkle over the spiced sugar (reserving 1 tbsp), then the currents. Tightly roll up one side of the dough lengthways to half way, then roll the other side up to meet it in the middle. Cut log into slices, roughly just over 1cm thick, place on a lined baking tray, and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C.
6. Lightly brush the egg wash over the dough, sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden and puffed. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!



Spiced Apple Cake with Butterscotch Sauce ~ HAPPY BIRTHDAY SIS!!

Spiced Apple Cake with Butterscotch Sauce

In the wise words of Julia Child, “a party without cake is just a meeting”.
(Preach it Julia, you speak to my soul)

Personally a normal day without the presence of something sweet is just a day miserably spent.
Man, just imagine the empty hearts at a celebration with nothing sweet to fill your spirit!
So naturally, I am a firm believer in cake making a full attendance at any sort of merrymaking.
(if not, you’ll see a very confused blonde standing awkwardly in the corner trying to look busy, but really trying to sniff out the nearest sugar hot spot/making up for it by eating 2 mains)

And, there so no better a time for cakes to shine in all their sweet sweet glory then at Birthdays.
Making this mighty special day the pinnacle of all that is sweet and good in this world.
I mean, hellloooooooo, you pretty much crowd around it, sing ‘happy birthday’ praises to its name, and then almost crack a sweat as beads of candle wax threaten the surfaces of the perfectly butter creamed cake.
(Then pretend to stand patiently as you wait for a slice, when in reality, you want to bust the 1st in line kid out of the way, and cut yourself a massive slice, cause life’s too short, yeah?)

Spiced Apple Cake with Butterscotch Sauce

Now, why is Bec going all cake adoring on us? (not that’s not the norm here or anything…)
But I got a happy reason to be all cake giddy on y’all – it’s my sister’s and my birthday! (yah, she my twin, so we share a lot of stuff… including the 4th of October…) HAPPY BIRTHDAY SIS!!!!!!

Trina and I have always had a thing for a lil’ bit of the unconventional birthday cake…

I mean, yah like every other kid, we had ice-cream birthday cakes back in the ye olde days (cause they were the fricken bomb dot com / will ever reign the most loved kid cake of all time) but as we bursted out into the mega cool, too cool for ice-cream cake age zone (correction, you’re never too old for ice-cream cake) we went Lemon Tart mad.
As in every celebration lemon tart ca-ray-zay. Cause who gonna hate on the lemon tart?

Next level, when we graduated from Lemon Tart frenzy and bounced onto Apple Tarte Tatin (unintentional french theme going on). We had them all, Tarte Tatin made from brown sugar, maple syrup, caster sugar, the list goes on… we had a mini obsession (that may or may not still be present today…)

Now? Well, Trina being in Melbourne and me being in London makes it a little hard to share a slice of birthday cake (legit silent tear) so I decided to make her a virtual cake.
(Cause what else do you do then publish photos everywhere of her ideal cake that she can’t eat… smart move Bec…. )

Being both mega chai fans (totally claim her obsession for them… she wouldn’t be the chai lover that she is today without me forcing her to get over the ‘mega ewww i tastes like potpourri stage into ‘omg it’s a hug in a mug’) I used the classic chai spices, along with some apple and dates (cause that is actually her favourite cake combo) and some butterscotch sauce cause seriously, why not?!

Butterscotch is almost like caramels ‘easier-to-make’ younger brother, which is ideal for my sister, cause she will be able to make this bake! (she’s a self-confessed taste-tester rather then cook…. we have a family saying that goes “if Katrina can make it, anyone can make it)

Spiced Apple Cake with Butterscotch Sauce
So, from the other side of the world, I wanna wish you the happiest of birthdays sis, and here’s to a new decade!
Wish I could be there to celebrate with you! But in the mean time here is a virtual cake for you to see (and as it goes… for me to eat <— good only sister banter right there)

butterscotch recipe from taste.com.au

80g dates, chopped
100ml water
2 black or chai tea bags
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 star anise
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
4 cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole cardamom
175g butter, softened
125g dark-brown sugar
3 medium eggs
200g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 royal gala apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Butterscotch Sauce:


1. Heat the oven to 180°C, and grease and line the base of a 22cm cake tin. Put the dates, water, tea bags, cinnamon, star anise, coriander seeds, cloves and cardamon in a small saucepan and bring to the boil then simmer covered for 10 minutes slowly, until the dates have absorbed the water, remove the spices and tea bags, then set aside to cool.
2.Core the apples, slice thinly and toss them with the lemon juice, then set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, fold in the flour and cinnamon, then stir in the date mixture. Spoon into the tin and level off.
3. Arrange the slices on top of the cake and bake for 35-45 minutes (covering the cake with foil if it starts to brown too much), until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Drizzle with the butterscotch to serve and enjoy!

To make the Butterscotch Sauce: (can be made a day in advance)
1. Place the cream, sugar, butter and vanilla essence in a medium heavy-based saucepan, stir over medium heat for 5 minutes or until well combined.
2. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove the pan from the heat. Set aside for 2 hours or until cooled to room temperature.
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