eat in my kitchen

To cook, to bake, to eat and to treat.

Tag: ginger

Sticky Banana Ginger Bread

Sticky Banana Ginger Bread

This cake was a little teaser and tested my nerves – I needed two attempts to bring it to perfection. The first version tasted divine but was far too soggy and didn’t bake through. We didn’t mind and still ate half of it. But it didn’t help, my pride as a baker made me go back to my kitchen and work on the texture.

Apart from its unsatisfyingly undone center, cake no. 1 had the advantage of the banana halves lying perfectly on top of the baked cake and the batter rising around it – quite dramatic. It was beautiful, but unfortunately, slightly burned as the temperature was too high from the start. Cake no. 2 decided to swallow the fruit and let it sink to the bottom. Not as pretty as the former but it had a scrumptious concentrated banana taste once you got to the sunken fruit. The cake itself was inspired by Nigella Lawson’s wonderful Fresh Gingerbread from her Domestic Goddess book, it’s a recipe I truly adore. However there isn’t much left of her original recipe, I only aimed for the stickiness, which she mastered to perfection. I added butter, more eggs and spices, and mashed bananas to my ginger bread. And some baking powder for more sponginess. After my disastrous first attempt, I decreased the amount of milk and turned down the heat. It looked completely different but tasted so, so good. The cakey bread (it’s actually more of a cake than bread) is infused with the honey-sweet aroma of bananas, lots of freshly grated ginger, and warming cinnamon. It’s so good that I forgave the bananas for their disappearing act.

Sticky Banana Ginger Bread

 

Sticky Banana Ginger Bread

Sticky Banana Ginger Bread

plain flour 260g / 2 cups
baking soda 1 teaspoon
baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
butter, at room temperature, 120g / 1/2 cup
ripe bananas 3 (2 mashed bananas, about 180g / 6 1/2 ounces, and 1 cut in half lengthwise)
sugar beet syrup (or a mixture of molasses and corn syrup) 200g / 7 ounces
brown sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
freshly grated ginger 1 heaping tablespoon
ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons
organic eggs 3
milk 60ml / 1/4 cup

Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325°F (preferably convection setting). Line a 11 x 26 cm / 4 x 10″ loaf pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add the mashed bananas, sugar beet syrup, sugar, ginger, and cinnamon and continue mixing until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between. In batches, add the milk and the flour mixture, alternating, about 1/3 at a time. Mix until just combined and no more flour is left. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, lay the banana halves on top (cut side up), and bake for about 65-70 minutes (slightly longer if using a conventional oven) or until golden brown and firm on top. Insert a skewer, it should come out clean when the cake is done. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes before you take it out of the pan. Let it cool on a wire rack for another 15 minutes before taking it out of the parchment paper.

Sticky Banana Ginger Bread

 

Sticky Banana Ginger Bread

 

Sticky Banana Ginger Bread

 

Sticky Banana Ginger Bread

 

Sticky Banana Ginger Bread

 

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bananagingerbread12

Perfectly Fudgy Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

Over the past few days, I’ve been working on last year’s tax declaration, a rather frustrating task that is only bearable with lots of sweets on the side. Or a glass of wine, which I don’t recommend to avoid serious problems with your tax office due to illogical inconsistencies caused by a tipsy mind. This highly responsible – but absolutely boring work – needs lots of concentration and sugar to keep the brain cells awake. I think any kind of cookie would have worked in my case – I’m always happy when I have these sweet, chunky bites in my mouth – but I was after a powerful treat, packed with spice and bittersweetness.

And here’s what I came up with: Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies. I would call it a proper man’s cookie, at least our male friends who passed through our flat recently were absolutely hooked on them and praised the perfect balance of softness and crunch. They are very dark, with chocolaty depth, I used melted bittersweet chocolate plus roughly chopped chunks and only a little bit of flour, which had an amazing effect on the texture. These cookies are soft inside, a bit fudgy, and wrapped in a thin, shiny crust – perfect. I stirred in plenty of freshly grated ginger and finely chopped fresh red chili pepper. The result was hot, citrusy and fresh – don’t expect a slight hint of the spices, they are present.

You have to take these cookies out of the oven at the right point, when the dough is just done. I made 11 cookies, 10 were perfect, and only 1 of them (for whatever reason) was still too gooey inside for my taste. The chocolate flavour is intense, I wouldn’t use chocolate much darker than 55% for this recipe, the bitter note can become too overpowering and disturb the spices – even for men.

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

 

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

Makes 10-12 cookies

bittersweet chocolate (about 55%) 300g /10 1/2 ounces
unsalted butter 45g / 3 tablespoons
freshly grated ginger 1 heaping tablespoon
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
plain flour 65g / 1/2 cup
baking powder 1/2 teaspoon
organic eggs 2
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon
medium hot fresh red chili, finely chopped, 2 teaspoons

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Line 1 baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roughly chop 1/3 of the chocolate  (100g / 3 1/2 ounces) and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining chocolate, the butter, ginger, and cinnamon over low heat, stirring occasionally. Let it cool for 2 minutes.

Combine the flour and baking powder and set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs, sugar, and salt for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Whisk in the melted chocolate until well combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flour and chopped chocolate until just combined. Stir in the chili and scoop 1 heaping tablespoon for each cookie onto the lined baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between the cookies. Don’t flatten the cookies. Bake for about 11-12 minutes or until the cookies are a little crunchy outside and slightly soft in the middle. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let the cookies cool for 10-15 minutes before you transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely, the chocolate will need a little while to become hard again.

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

 

gingerchilichocolatecookies6

 

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

 

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

 

Ginger Chili Double Chocolate Cookies

 

gingerchilichocolatecookies13

 

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Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

I once read that the 3rd Monday of January is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year – Blue Monday. I don’t know if it’s true, luckily it has already passed, and I didn’t notice my mood drooping drastically that day. However, I’ve felt a rising impatience for more light and warmer weather to come back into my life. So much so that I had to book flights to Malta last night. This always makes me feel so much better, no matter how far in the future the departure date lies, just the thought of it puts me in a good mood.

Another way to lift my spirits is food. Cosy food, colourful food, or simply delicious food. This dish combines all of it: nutty Beluga lentils, topped with thin slices of rutabaga, quickly cooked in the pan with lots of ginger, orange zest and juice, and fresh rosemary. The rustic root is as bright as the sunrise over Malta’s east coast and its earthy flavour can easily deal with some strong aromas. I was surprised how well it merged with the dark legumes.

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

 

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

Serves 3-4

For the lentils

Beluga 
lentils, or any lentils (no soaking required), 280 g / 10 ounces
small sprig fresh rosemary 1
bay leaf 1
olive oil
balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt
ground pepper

For the rutabaga

peeled rutabaga, cut into wedges and very thinly sliced (use a mandoline or cheese slicer), 300g / 10 1/2 ounces
freshly grated ginger 1 tablespoon
freshly grated zest of 1 orange
freshly squeezed orange juice 100ml / 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
fine sea salt
ground pepper
finely chopped fresh rosemary needles 1-2 tablespoons
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

Place the lentils in a saucepan with plenty of (unsalted) water, add the rosemary and bay leaf, and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until al dente (or follow the package instructions). Remove excess liquid with a ladle if necessary and stir in a generous splash of olive oil and the vinegar. Season to taste with salt, pepper and vinegar.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the rutabaga: In a large, heavy pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the rutabaga and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and al dente. Scrape the rutabaga to the side, add a little more olive oil to the pan along with the ginger, cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the orange zest (leave a little of the zest for the topping) and juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the rosemary or use as a topping once the plates are ready. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the desired texture is reached.

Divide the lentils between plates and lay the rutabaga on top. Sprinkle with rosemary, orange zest, and crushed peppercorns and drizzle with a little olive oil (optional). Serve immediately.

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

 

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

 

Beluga Lentils with Ginger Orange Rutabaga and Rosemary

 

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Dutch Honey Cake

Dutch Honey Cake

This cake was one of my childhood’s culinary highlights. Whenever I visited the Netherlands I had to get a large loaf of this juiciest, spongiest and stickiest of all spice cakes. You can buy this sweet treat all over the country, from artisan bakeries or simple supermarkets, which I did most of the time. The long square tightly wrapped in foil is stuffed with the wintery aroma of honey, ginger, cloves, aniseed, nutmeg and cinnamon. I’ll never forget the moments when I opened the package, sitting on a long and lonely beach, the sand in my shoes and the cold wind blowing against my face, my fingers touched the sticky golden cake to break it into chunks. Fantastic!

I never dug too deep into the Dutch cuisine, although the country is quite close to my hometown. My appetite focused more on the culinary pleasures coming out of France and Italy, or England when it comes to pies. I’m a big fan of milky Gouda cheese from the flat meadows of the Netherlands but apart from my beloved honey cake I’m not too familiar with the country’s cooking and baking traditions, I’d love to learn more about it.

To bake my first Dutch honey cake in my kitchen was only the start. I did some research and learned that the dough needs some strong black tea (or coffee), most of the sweetness – and the particular taste – comes from the honey and the spices, and a little sugar beet molasses is responsible for the cake’s dark warm tone. It was much easier than I expected, taste and texture left no doubt that this is a real Dutch honey cake – baked in Berlin.

Dutch Honey Cake

 

Dutch Honey Cake

Dutch Honey Cake

Makes a 24 x 10cm / 9 1/2 x 4″ cake

plain flour 260g / 2 cups
a pinch of salt
baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons
baking soda 1 teaspoon
butter 45g / 3 tablespoons
honey 170g / 6 ounces
sugar beet molasses 45g / 1 1/2 ounces
milk 120ml / 1/2 cup
organic eggs, lightly beaten, 2
strong black tea 60ml / 1/4 cup
Demerara sugar 55g / 2 ounces
ginger, freshly grated, 1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons
aniseed, ground in a mortar, 1/3 teaspoon
cloves, ground in a mortar, 1/2 teaspoon
nutmeg, freshly grated, 1/4 teaspoon

For the topping

pearl sugar (optional)

Set the oven to 160°C / 320°F. Lightly butter a 24 x 10cm / 9 1/2 x 4″ cake pan and line it with baking paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and soda.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, let it cool for a few minutes and add the honey, molasses, milk, eggs, tea, sugar, ginger and spices to the warm pan. Whisk well, stir into the bowl with the dry mixture and mix with an electric mixer until well combined. The dough will be quite liquid. Scrape the dough into the lined cake pan and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the cake is done. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes before you take it out of the pan.

Keep the cake wrapped in paper and cling film to keep its moisture.

Dutch Honey Cake

 

Dutch Honey Cake

 

Dutch Honey Cake

 

Dutch Honey Cake

 

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Blood Orange Mussels with Fennel, Ginger and Turmeric Roots

Blood Orange Mussels with Fennel, Ginger and Turmeric

I’m still in my post Christmas meat-reduced phase, I just don’t feel inspired to throw a heavy roast in the oven, or put a steak in the pan. Although the annual feasting is already a month ago, my appetite calls for vegetables and seafood, light on the body and preferably refined with lots of citrus fruits, herbs, spices or whatever comes into my mind.

Out of all the wonderful culinary gifts we get from the sea, mussels are one of the easiest to prepare and luckily, they’re still in season. I like to be brave when it comes to seasoning their cooking juices, I want each single flavour to be present to infuse their meat, this is not the time to be shy! Today’s recipe follows this rule and makes the most aromatic broth, it’s perfect to dip little pieces of crunchy baguette in. This is almost the best part of this meal and every time we have mussels on the table, it fills me with excitement. So, I chose a combination of sweet blood orange, fennel, fresh ginger and turmeric which literally melts in your mouth, it’s a colourful explosion of fresh flavours. Look at the bright yellow, the vibrant orange and refreshing green, translate that into taste and you’ll have an idea of what happened at our lunch table!

For the cooking broth, I mixed the citrus fruit’s juice with some white wine and grated a little zest which created a wonderful aroma. Roots were my next addition, strips and slices of warming ginger and luckily, I can get fresh turmeric at the moment. The deep orange root is a fragrant concentrate, it’s so unique you can’t compare it to anything else, not even the powder. When I peel the thin skin off it turns my fingers into a golden yellow, it had the same effect on the broth and looked stunning. I couldn’t help it, this buoyant dish just put a smile on my face!

Some more mussel inspiration:

Saffron Bouchot Mussels with Tomatoes, Garlic and Parsley

Spiced Mussels with Ginger, Lemongrass and Coriander

Blood Orange Mussels with Fennel, Ginger and Turmeric

 

Blood Orange Mussels with Fennel, Ginger and Turmeric

Blood Orange Mussels with Fennel, Ginger and Turmeric

For 2-3 people you need

fresh mussels 1 kg / 2 pounds
white wine 200ml / 1/2 pint
freshly squeezed blood orange juice 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces
blood orange zest 1 tablespoon
small fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced, 1 plus the fresh green, chopped, for the topping
fresh ginger, cut into small strips, a thumb sized piece
fresh turmeric, sliced, 1 thumbnail sized piece
bay leaf 1
salt 1/2 teaspoon

Rinse and scrub the mussels under cold water and cut off the beard, discard any broken mussels.

In a large pot, bring the wine and juice with the zest, fennel, ginger, turmeric, bay leaf and salt to the boil. Add the mussels to the hot broth, close with a lid and cook on lowest heat for 5 minutes or until the shells open (shake the pot once or twice while cooking or gently mix with a slotted ladle). Discard any mussels that don’t open! Sprinkle the mussels with the fresh fennel green and serve immediately, preferably with baguette and a glass of chilled white wine.

Blood Orange Mussels with Fennel, Ginger and Turmeric

 

Blood Orange Mussels with Fennel, Ginger and Turmeric

 

Blood Orange Mussels with Fennel, Ginger and Turmeric

A Ginger Carrot Salad with Spring Onions

Ginger Carrot Salad with Spring Onions

Carrots are unbelievably versatile and uncomplicated vegetables which create wonderfully easy but delicious side dishes, salads and soups. They never cause a hassle, always sweet and strong, they aren’t very sensitive to prepare. When cooking fish or meat that demands all your attention, the carrots are patiently waiting on the side in their pot not loosing any of their qualities when left cooking a bit longer. The same goes for salads, you can mix them with the strongest flavours, go overboard with lemon, spices or herbs, no problem, this little orange root will manage!

I’ll go easy on them in my salad, I just add some freshly grated ginger (1 1/2 tablespoons) to my dressing, made of 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, some salt, pepper and 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar. 4 carrots peeled and cut into julienne are enough for a side dish for 2. Half a spring onion cut into thin slices sprinkled on top adds a bit of spiciness. The carrots still have enough space to show their sweet side.

Ginger Carrot Salad with Spring Onions

 

Ginger Carrot Salad with Spring Onions

 

Broccoli Pesto with Spaghetti and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Broccoli Parsley Pesto + Spaghetti

Finally pesto! I love it, bunches of basil, parsley, chopped green or black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, anchovies mixed with olive oil, nuts or cheese. There are endless possibilities to bring one of the most satisfying meals onto the table, pasta with pesto. It’s so simple yet so special! When I make pesto I just follow my mood and appetite, picking what the kitchen herbs on my window sill offer and mixing it together with the Mediterranean fruits and vegetables preserved in salt or oil I keep in jars in my fridge. Sometimes I mix fresh vegetables in as well, like green asparagus or broccoli.

Today is a broccoli day! I cook it al dente, put some of it in a blender and mix it with parsley, ginger, garlic, anchovy, lemon juice and olive oil. Some of the water used to cook the broccoli stirred in makes the pesto nice and smooth, it’s lighter than using just olive oil. When the warm spaghetti has been mixed with the broccoli pesto, I sprinkle some broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes and red chili on top. There are lots of different flavours in this pesto but they blend in perfectly and allow the broccoli to show its fresh side.

Broccoli Parsley Pesto + Spaghetti

Broccoli Pesto with Spaghetti and Sun-dried Tomatoes

For this meal it’s best to warm the plates in a 75°C / 165°F warm oven for a few minutes. I prepare them while the pasta is cooking.

For 4 people you need

spaghetti 400g / 14 ounces
broccoli, florets and the soft part of the stem, 450g / 16 ounces
water used to cook the broccoli 50ml
sun-dried tomatoes, cooked in a little water for 2 minutes to wash off the salt, dried and chopped, 1 1/2 tomatoes for topping
water used to cook the sun-dried tomatoes 3 tablespoons
parsley, chopped, 3 heaped tablespoons
garlic, crushed, 1 big clove
ginger, grated, 1/2 teaspoon
anchovy preserved in salt (optionally), rinsed and dried, 1 fillet
lemon juice 2 teaspoons
olive oil 3 tablespoons
salt and pepper
fresh red chili, chopped, 1 for topping

In a large pot, bring water to the boil, add some salt and cook the broccoli al dente. Keep 1/3 of the cooked florets, cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Cook the spaghetti al dente.

Put the rest of the broccoli (florets and stem cut into pieces) in a blender and mix together with some of the water used to cook the broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes. Add the parsley, garlic, ginger, anchovy, lemon juice, olive oil and mix well. Season the pesto with salt and pepper but keep in mind that the tomatoes used for the topping will add some saltiness as well.

Arrange the spaghetti and the pesto on big plates and sprinkle with the chopped tomatoes, pieces of broccoli, chili and some more black pepper.

Broccoli Parsley Pesto + Spaghetti

A Monday Morning Juice with Grapefruit, Banana, Orange and Ginger

Grapefruit, Orange, Banana + Ginger Juice

I have the tendency to become overly excited as soon as the temperature rises above 10°C and the sun comes through for more than a couple hours. I know it’s only the beginning of March but I already feel like spring. I want to get out my summer clothes and jump around in the springy, fresh air. I want to sit outside a café with a glass of chilled white wine, enjoying the warm sun. Unfortunately, there’s still a gap in temperature between my dreams and reality which I don’t want to accept (sometimes) and that’s exactly the problem! I’m prepared for the coldest winter and arctic temperatures, I never get a cold, but at this time of the year, a stone’s throw away from the end of the cold season, I tend to be too carefree and strain my immune system.

To avoid any deficit in vitamins, I start the week off with a powerful juice made of grapefruit, banana, blood orange and ginger. For two glasses of juice (400ml in all), I squeeze 1 pink grapefruit and 3 oranges. I add 1/8 teaspoon of grated ginger and half a banana, mashed smoothly with a fork. You can use a whole one but I didn’t want its taste and sweetness to be too overpowering.

It’s a true energy boost, like my January’s Turmeric and Ginger Blood Orange Juice!

Grapefruit, Orange, Banana + Ginger Juice

 

Grapefruit, Orange, Banana + Ginger Juice

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