28 May 2012

Coconut and Jaggery cake

In my constant search for less processed foods, I recently discovered jaggery. Over here in Dubai, it is fortunately very easy to find, and is cheap - ranging from less than the equivalent of $1 per 500g packet up to about $10, depending on quality.

Like sugar, jaggery usually comes from sugar cane (it also comes from sago, coconut and date palms), but it is a softer, crumbly substance made from the unprocessed and unrefined cane juice (simply boiled until it becomes a paste), then poured into moulds to set. It does not undergo any bleaching or refining of any kind, and so retains its natural colour, fiber, mineral salts and flavour. It is known to release energy slower than processed sugar, making it better for people with blood sugar issues. 

But the price, process and the health benefits are not the only reason I love it. It tastes amazing. The mineral salts can be detected, and the molasses tint gives it a flavour almost like salted caramel. It is just so much more complex than sugar. It melts easily, can be cut off in shards for nibbling, and can be crushed in a blender.

24 May 2012

Frittata v Spanish omelet

I've made breakfast on new years day for 40 party-sore camping revellers. It was my first ever 96-egg omelet. I made it in a iron pan twice the size of a baby bath dragged out of the garage and thrown over some hot coals left from the night before. It earned me a return invitation for the following year's party, and a reputation - the fact that I could prepare a yummy breakfast for so many people without warning, and with the mother of all hangovers made me a 'good cook'. They didn't know that it was because when I was 14, my mum showed me how to make a frittata, and she's a self-declared 'particularly average cook'.

It's the easiest thing in the world to make - just make a thick omelet with your leftovers and grill some cheese on top. I have one rule with my frittata - it has to contain potato. This is where the whole confusion of the name comes in. Many people call a frittata a spanish omelet and vice versa. Both are thick, and need to be cooked top and bottom unlike a regular omelet, but a Spanish omelet must contain potato, and in fact, often that's all it contains besides the egg and some spices. So, in fact, my 'frittata' is probably a Spanish omelet, especially when I throw chorizo in it. (what it definitely isn't is kookoo - a Persian herb omelet, which sounds amazing and deserves further investigation). But then again, who said a frittata couldn't contain potato...?


08 May 2012

Orange jellies

We're going on a time warp here - back to a time when I used to dream about these in the weeks of lead-up to my birthday party. My mum was fairly anti white-bread, definitely anti-sugar and not much of a baker, but she used to make these sunshine smiles with plain old oranges and a packet of tartrazine-fueled jello. As far as a kid's concerned, that's probably better than my all-natural, no colour, no preservative, low sugar version below. But, this is almost as easy, and healthy enough to pop in a school lunchbox for kids who otherwise refuse to eat fruit. And it's really all about that orange-peel grin in the aftermath anyway...

  • 6 oranges
  • 10g packet gelatin
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar
  • water (about 200ml, depending on oranges)

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