Red pepper and goat’s cheese bites

11 Apr

Crispy, red pepper and goats cheese bites

red pepper and goats cheese bites by Deena Kakaya

red pepper and goats cheese bites by Deena Kakaya

I had a good day on the Friday just gone.  After a week of early starts with the school run and late finishes with work, I took time out on Friday. This doesn’t happen often (in fact it is very rare) despite my husband frequently persuading me about the benefits of ‘down time’.  There is a lot of sense in it; revived creativity, elevated mood, remembering the simple things in life and so contributing towards a heart that is full of gratitude and, it is true, I did feel lighter.

The girls and I had lunch at a friend’s house. We each took a little something with us, but our host did most the cooking and it was all gorgeous. I must have mentioned before that it is seldom that anyone will cook for me, so I feel particularly spoilt when I can sit back and watch (and of course eat).  Just sitting in the sunshine of her kitchen, I looked around at the other three ladies at different stages of life, all with different blessings and challenges and yet all were smiling.

The season of relishing the sunshine on the face, whilst eating picky foods is upon us; there is new hope, renewed energy and baby animals being born. My little friends in the garden (the flowers that visit us every spring) are pepping above the soil now and ready to burst open. Many of them are older than my five-year-old baby and many others have been planted with his help. This is the season of emerging colour and gentle excitement, it is my favourite season. My skirts get a good dusting off and the garden tools come out.  The meals get lighter, more portable and become more of a compilation of bite sized goodies, which is why I thought it timely to share this recipe for crispy red pepper and goats cheese bites; they’re oozy and sweet with cheese and pepper.  They’re mild yet lasting and have generous crunch and depth. They are easy to make, for when you have friends over. I used the remaining roasted red pepper to make a quick and easy harissa, the pairing worked!

Recipe (makes 16 crispy bites)

2 medium sized baking potatoes

100g goats cheese

150g of Cooks & Co roasted red pepper, sliced into bite sized pieces

1 large spring onion, or two medium sized spring onions

1 tsp. cumin seeds

Chilli flakes to taste

Salt to taste

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

50g plain flour

2 medium eggs, lightly whisked with a fork

125g panko breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil for shallow frying

for the full recipe please visit great British chefs

 

 

 

Breakfast cookies

15 Jan

Breakfast cookies

breakfast cookies by Deena Kakaya

2016 was an interesting year wasn’t it. Let’s not get into it, but I think the world outside and most definitely within, in the last year was fraught. But what did I take from it?

I learned that perhaps in a world where shouting ‘look at me’ though the wide-open windows of social media is now normal, it is of probably of benefit to close the door now and again and think about whether there is real meaning to what fills the day, heart and mind, over what drives the ego.

I learned that its perfectly the right thing to do, to be happy just for being alive and well and being happy and at peace to see good health and smiles within my loved ones; the year ended for us in the UAE and as I watched my little person race down the beach I marvelled first at how fast he is, but also how free he was, no shackles of the modern world weighing him down. He doesn’t judge himself.  He doesn’t fear the future. He just ran, freely and with joy.

I learned that I must listen to my body and I think in 2017, I’m going to shake it up a little bit and take some new risks. Little ones. And speaking of mixing it up with little things, I bring to you the breakfast cookie that creates tasty but naughty crumbs in my car. I won’t pretend that I don’t have time for breakfast, sure I could get up a bit earlier…I make breakfasts of kale dosa and fruit smoothies for the boy and fruity and nutty porridge for the husband… but I like sleep and think that eyeliner in the morning is good for me, so I sometimes eat breakfast in the car.

These cookies work so well for eating on the go, or filling up during mid-morning snack; they are eggless, contain no butter and made with spelt flour.  I find that they are plenty sweet enough for me, as they contain dried apricots, nuts, carrot, peanut butter and some brown sugar. There is brown sugar in them. I have chucked in lots of cinnamon so they smell great and that’s important.

breakfast cookies by Deena Kakaya

Ingredients to make 24 cookies

150ml coconut oil

150g of jumbo porridge oats

125g of spelt flour

A pinch of salt

100g of dried apricots, chopped

1 large carrot, grated

75g of brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)

4 tbsp. honey

50g chopped pistachio

50g flaked almonds

1 ½ desert spoons of peanut butter

1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda

 

Method

1.       Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

2.       Combine the oats, spelt flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a box and mix them well.

3.       Add the remaining ingredients and ensure that they ae evenly distributed

4.       Onto a sheet of baking paper, place one tablespoon sized amounts onto the tray and form into rounds. You’ll probably get about 12 onto each sheet.

5.       Bake for about 12 minutes and once Breakfast Cookies have cooled, they will be lightly crisp on the top and chewy and nutty inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiced Apricot, nut and Kellogg’s Special K snack Balls

22 Dec

The wild effects of hunger

I am one of those that has a frequently growling tummy and it is just best for all those involved (with me) that the beast within me (my appetite) is tamed, frequently. I don’t feel naughty with these balls of apricot, nuts and Kellogg’s special K.  They are bursting with spice, coconut and pistachio…keep them in the fridge and they will last a few days.

Spiced Apricot, nut and Kellogg’s Special K snack Balls by Deena Kakaya

 

Ingredients to make approximately 18 snack balls

400g of dried apricots

50g Kellogg’s Special K, ground to a coarse powder

45g unsweetened desiccated coconut

45g coarsely ground pistachio

1 tbsp. chia seeds

3 tbsp. coconut milk powder

½ tsp. ground cardamom

A pinch of saffron powder

1 tbsp. cacao nibs

Method

  1. Blitz the apricots and coconut milk powder to a puree
  2. Combine the desiccated coconut, pistachio, Kellogg’s special K, cardamom, saffron powder, cacao nibs and chia seeds in a separate bowl and ensure they are evenly tossed
  3. Now bring together, gradually some of the nut and spice mix with the apricots and form them into a dough
  4. Shape and make 18 evenly sized balls and then you can either chill them I the fridge or consume immediately

Coconut and spice Quinoa porridge with apple and raspberries

29 Sep

I like having structure and purpose to my day. I like the feeling of being expended for a worthwhile purpose, one that is driving me towards productivity and something meaningful. I like talking to people and delivering. I want to contribute towards a bigger picture and I want to learn.

Coconut and spice Quinoa porridge with apple and raspberries

When I am hungry however, I am not the best version of me and so, whether I have worked the evening before or up and moving (frantically) around activities with my boy, a family day out or working from home; I need to eat.  I need to eat a proper breakfast. My recipe for coconut and spice quinoa porridge is generous, sustaining, nourishing, exotic in aroma and the spices of cardamom and star anise tickle the senses of escapism and luxury.  This is indulgence in the form of coconut milk and spice, but virtuous in the form of quinoa, which I have used instead of regular oats. There is even some fruit in here.

Coconut and spice Quinoa porridge with apple and raspberries

for the full recipe, visit the Great British Chefs link where my recipe sits.

 

 

 

 

 

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes

21 Sep

Nowadays my weekly menu is devised on bases a little like this; is it something that we can all eat, does it deliver on the ‘rainbow factor’, does it taste good, is it quick to make and can we cook it together? The latter is important because there are repeated demonstrations of my little boy’s best manners when he wants to get involved, ‘mammap please may I help you, it will be educational for me’.

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes by Deena Kakaya

 

 

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes by Deena Kakaya Today the answer was, ‘yes of course’ and oh my, the croquettes smell incredible; pillows of lightly sweet potato and mellow cauliflower with a subtle aniseed like flavour from the fennel seeds and most importantly, the creamy and oozy cheese.  I generally love anything with a crunch and there is most certainly an magnificent sense of pleasure in the crisp shell giving way to steaming hot and moist, cheesy filling.

I know this sounds a little bizarre but I got that sense of eating chips on a cool walk home with my dad when I was a child, or in Brighton with my husband (before kiddo was born)…sitting in the car and listening to the radio and watching the waves.  Except these croquettes have that ‘special’ factor.

Wyke Farm cheese asked me to try their cheddar and I found that the bold but not overpowering flavour really works well with delicately sweet and moist flavours of cauliflower and potato.  Its creamy, oozy and yet gentle enough to balance the dish.

Make sure to bake the potatoes and steam the cauliflower and avoid the temptation to boil them; boiling them will leave them wet and overly moist.  You can spice the croquettes up more if you like and I have used panko breadcrumbs for what I feel is a deeper crunch but you don’t have to, the croquettes still taste great with standard breadcrumbs. I served them with harissa, but I like them with a red pepper ketchup too!

for the full recipe please visit the Great British chefs page here

cauliflower, fennel, chilli and cheese croquettes by Deena Kakaya

5 Tasty Vegetarian BBQ recipes

22 Jun

5 Tasty Vegetarian BBQ recipes

Kale thepla / Kale chapatti

5 Jun

 

If anything, with parenting my boy, I want to assure myself and my child that I am doing my best. When I eventually look back at his wonderful, chaotic and fun and deeply pleasurable childhood I want to know that I did my best. But it doesn’t have to be perfect, to be wonderful does it.

And that is why we have had a LOT of kale cooking in our home over the last three months. We have spent three months being cautious and gentle with my boy following him being unwell. I have come to think of gentler activities to keep his mind and body content and find ways to preoccupy his attention during conversations with doctors and also, I have learned ways to pump his little body with as much goodness through food, to help him along.

Kale, for all its vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, iron properties seemed an obvious help but how to get into a 4-year old in decent quantities? I tried kale crisps, which seemed a hit but the initial enthusiasm wavered. We did better with kale khichdi and kale sneaked into pasta sauces although the clear winner has been kale thepla (spiced Gujarati influenced chapatti), for all their green goodness, portability, ease of independent eating for a child and also share-ability, because my child enjoys sharing his food with friends.

They do have a gorgeous colour and have a delicate aroma of the sea.  I will be packing them for lunches at the zoo, park, farm and other sunny destinations this summer. The only downside is that to make them, much like parenting, is a little labour of love. They are worth it though, aren’t they?

Makes  14 chapattis

Ingredients

60 kale

175ml water

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups of chappati flour

2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil

½ tsp. ground turmeric

A pinch of ajwain seeds

A small bowl of oil, for greasing the chappati

 Kale thepla/kale chapatti If anything, with parenting my boy, I want to assure myself and my child that I am doing my best. When I eventually look back at his wonderful, chaotic and fun and deeply pleasurable childhood I want to know that I did my best. But it doesn’t have to be perfect, to be wonderful does it. And that is why we have had a LOT of kale cooking in our home over the last three months. We have spent three months being cautious and gentle with my boy following him being unwell. I have come to think of gentler activities to keep his mind and body content and find ways to preoccupy his attention during conversations with doctors and also, I have learned ways to pump his little body with as much goodness through food, to help him along. Kale, for all its vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, iron properties seemed an obvious help but how to get into a 4-year old in decent quantities? I tried kale crisps, which seemed a hit but the initial enthusiasm wavered. We did better with kale khichdi and kale sneaked into pasta sauces although the clear winner has been kale thepla, for all their green goodness, portability, ease of independent eating for a child and also share-ability, because my child enjoys sharing his food with friends. They do have a gorgeous colour and have a delicate aroma of the sea. I will be packing them for lunches at the zoo, park, farm and other sunny destinations this summer. The only downside is that to make them, much like parenting, is a little labour of love. They are worth it though, aren’t they? Makes approximately 14 chapatti Ingredients 60 kale 175ml water 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced 2 cups of chappati flour 2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil ½ tsp. ground turmeric A pinch of ajwain seeds A small bowl of oil, for greasing the chappati Method 1. Combine the water and the kale and process them into a kale juice, or at least a very fine texture of kale. 2. Take a large, wide bowl (not one that is deep) and put the flour into the bowl. Create a well in the middle and pour in the oil. 3. Rub the oil into the flour, so that its evenly blended into a fine crumb. 4. Now add the salt, turmeric and ajwain seeds into the flour and ensure even distribution. 5. Add the garlic and then the kale ‘juice’ and then knead the dough. 6. Form 14 equally sized balls and then lightly flatten them. 7. Heat a non-stick pan and roll the chappati into thin circles before placing them individually on a pan. Once one side is cooked, drizzle oil onto it and then flip it over.

Method

  1. Combine the water and the kale and process them into a kale juice, or at least a very fine texture of kale.
  2. Take a large, wide bowl (not one that is deep) and put the flour into the bowl. Create a well in the middle and pour in the oil.
  3. Rub the oil into the flour, so that its evenly blended into a fine crumb.
  4. Now add the salt, turmeric and ajwain seeds into the flour and ensure even distribution.
  5. Add the garlic and then the kale ‘juice’ and then knead the dough.
  6. Form 14 equally sized balls and then lightly flatten them.
  7. Heat a non-stick pan and roll the chapatti into thin circles before placing them individually on a pan. Once one side is cooked, drizzle oil onto it and then flip it over.

 

 

 

 

Pistachio & coconut smoothie

3 Feb

The husband and I have been especially lovely to each other recently, so it wasn’t in any mournful or malevolent way that we nattered about where we would be and what we would be doing, if we had not ever met.

I guess it’s no great surprise, given that I have spent my entire adult life in his company, that my estimations of where he would be and his of mine married well with our own guesses. Him? He would most definitely not be living in the country. In fact he may even be a bit of a floater…I imagined him in Singapore, Hong Kong or Australia. A few years ago I would have said New York, but life has changed. He would have set up his own business, a bigger risk taker, wear mainly designer suits and eat out most days. He would have many friends, from diverse walks of life and probably dedicate more time to fitness and charity work.

Me? I would be working in the city still, working long hours and frowning most of the time. I would be a senior manager, as I was before I left that life or the head of something or another by now. I may have gone into the banking field instead of telecoms had I not met my husband, because work-life balance would have been less of a priority. More of a tigress than fluffy boots, I would have more property to my name, be taking singing classes maybe, and I would be someone that eats the city, rather than cooks in it.

But we did meet and life is healthier. As we negotiated over cheese toasties or pakora for our three year old who tells us that he likes hanging out with us, we smiled, felt peace and counted our blessings. Real ones. Healthy ones.

Pistachio and coconut smoothie by Deena Kakaya

And cheers to those real and healthy blessings, with my nourishing smoothie of pistachio and coconut smoothie. I generally step away from fruity concoctions even though I find them delicious, because years of trying to follow a low GI diet has reigned me in but I do like a bit of sweetness in life.

The sweetness in this smoothie comes from coconut water, something that everyone around me seems hooked on right now. I didn’t use a lot of it as it is sweet but it adds such a mellow and fresh essence. The aroma is uplifting and reminiscent of all the good and sunny holidays we have had, just what I need now with the nursery runs in the cold and rain. I used chia seeds soaked in coconut water for this recipe and added them to the other ingredients once they were blitzed together, because I like my chia seeds to be plump and slippery. If you prefer not to feel them, skip the step where you soak the chia seeds and blitz them with the other ingredients.

Pistachio and coconut smoothie by Deena Kakaya

I have written this recipe for JD sports, who asked me to write a healthy and delicious smoothie recipe for their new Pink Soda health club that they have created. You can find more healthful ideas over there, on beauty, fitness, diet and more!

I used my Froothie (optimum 9400) to blitz the nuts to a smooth consistency- I didn’t want nutty grains or bits in my smoothie so the froothie did the job!

Ingredients to make 2-3 large smoothies

1 avocado, peeled and chopped (stone removed)

½ cup of pistachios, soaked in ½ cup of milk

2 tbsp. desiccated coconut

½ cup of plain, natural yoghurt

1 ½ tbsp. honey (or to taste)

A pinch of ground cardamom

1 tbsp. chia seeds

250ml cold coconut water

Method

  1. Soak the pistachios in the milk for at least 15 minutes (in the fridge).
  2. Soak the chia seeds in the coconut water until the chia seeds plump up.
  3. Combine the yoghurt, avocado, pistachios with the milk, honey, desiccated coconut, ground cardamom and a drizzle of coconut water and blitz it all together until it is smooth.
  4. Now combine the coconut water with chia seeds and the blitzed  elements for your smoothie.

Asian spiced edamame bean, new potato and quinoa patties

31 Jan

Asian spiced edamame bean, new potato and quinoa patties

I do get exasperated at points; my eyes fill with foggy grey, disorderly purple, and at the moment I have a stream of lectures to prepare for, a fourth birthday party to plan, a husband in Hong Kong, leaking boiler, new after nursery activities starting up, recipe submissions in two different directions, a cookery class to get ready for…what else, a much needed orange and yellow holiday perhaps? All the while, I have a toddler following me around, chanting question upon question and he does this peculiar thing of asking questions to which he knows the answer already, like, ‘mumma, can you fall inside the craters in the moon’. And if I say, ‘mmm, perhaps’…’but mumma you can’t, there’s no gravity on the moon’.

Asian spiced edamame bean, new potato and quinoa patties by Deena kakaya

 

And then, I have these moments where I remind myself why I haven’t extended his nursery hours beyond mornings. Because as exasperating as it feels, this time is short-lived, so precious and mine and his. Just me and him. And just like that, with some hugs and kisses things were looking green again, as we made these lean, green, nutty and moist patties. They work well with tomato or red pepper sauces, on a crisp salad or even on chaat. I put them in some pitta with some salad with chilli sauce- oof!

for the recipe please visit the new pink soda hub, by JD sports here, where you will find a host of recipes, exercise tips, beauty tips, sportswear for women.

To make approximately 12 patties

300g new potatoes

200g edamame beans

50g quinoa cooked per packet instructions

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 large red chilli, finely chopped or chilli flakes to taste

1 tsp. toasted cumin seeds

Vegetable oil for crisping the patties

For the Asian sauce

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

½ tbsp. of your favourite chilli sauce

1 tsp. minced ginger

 

Method

  1. Boil the new potatoes for 7-8 minutes or until soft enough to mash coarsely. You can boil them with the skin on and rub it off once cooked or peel in advance. As the skin on new potatoes is pretty thin, I usually go for the former. Once boiled, drain the potatoes, skin them and then mash coarsely.
  2. Boil the edamame beans for 3 minutes and then drain them and refresh in cold water.
  3. Cook the quinoa per packet instructions.
  4. To make the sauce, combine all of the ingredients and simmer them together for about ten minutes on a low flame. Allow the sauce to cool to a room temperature before adding it to the patty mix.
  5. Combine the new potatoes, edamame beans and quinoa, and then mix in the spring onions, chilli and cumin seeds. Then add the sauce and mix it all well.
  6. Forms equal sized patties (approximately 12) and then place them on some baking paper and place them in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.
  7. When you are ready to serve the patties, heat a non-stick pan and drizzle a little oil onto the base. Cook the patties until they are browned on each side but most importantly use a medium flame to ensure that they are warm all the way through.

 

Piri piri chickpea salad

24 Jan

On Wednesday I started at 6.30am (the usual time) by cooking for the long day ahead. I then went to a class of body attack. I always feel like I will collapse within the first fifteen minutes of that class, but I did it and it felt good! I came home, showered and changed and then went on the nursery run and collected my energetic and spirited little sweetie before taking him to eat pizza, as a treat. We chatted about the morning we had spent separately and coloured in pictures of super heroes together. Simple moments like these, I will hang on to forever. He was more delicious than the pizza. We then returned home for him to play around my ankles as I attacked the cleaning of the home in express mode, after which, I whipped off my apron and took my cherub to his swimming lesson. My body throbbed lightly and eyes dropped under the humid clasp of the internal swimming area, but I waved and gave him the thumbs up signal from the parents viewing area. We had practised privately on Monday and it had helped.

Piri piri chickpea salad by Deena Kakaya

Back from swimming, we waited in the car for daddy to arrive so that he could drop mumma off to the train station, because mumma had a cookery class to teach, an hour away in the city. As I arrived at the school, I smiled at the attendee list which had ‘SOLD OUT’ written in block capitals, double underlined. People arrived early and eagerly. One person travelled from Cambridge to cook with me. We brought Japanese, Thai, Indian and Malaysian influences to life and I carried the appreciative buzz with me to bed that night, when I was finally reunited at 11.30pm.

What I have learned about myself is that I am happier when I am moving. I need to fill my days with some sort of purpose and when I say I need to be moving, the direction doesn’t have to be definitive. I know, it’s January and I’m supposed to ‘set some goals and smash them’ but blah. My mind is healthier when I am moving and the world looks like a bigger place. No one small, meaningless, itty ridiculous thing can engulf me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an unhappy person; on the contrary I have gratitude for my many blessings. I just need to keep moving.

And with that, here is a dancing, lively, simple and portable salad of deep and forgiving chickpeas and spice mixture with a kick! Go easy on the garlic though wont you…

Ingredients

Two tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

One green pepper, diced

300g sweet potato, peeled and roasted

A bunch of parsley, finely chopped

The juice of one lime

50ml extra virgin olive oil

2 plump red chillies, finely chopped

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 small red onion, finely diced

For the spice mix

1 tsp. red chilli flakes, 1 tbsp. paprika, ½ tbsp. smoked paprika, 2 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. sea salt flakes, 2 cloves of garlic (crushed), 1 tsp. caster sugar

Method

  1. Combine the chickpeas, roasted sweet potato, red chillies, red onion and green pepper and toss them all together
  2. Add the spice mix and coat evenly
  3. Now add the lemon juice, white wine vinegar, oil and the parsley and make sure there is even coverage.
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