Monthly Archives: October 2012

JACKPOT’s: Weekend Baking Adventures

Hello Readers!

What a weekend it has been! I definitely have some monday-itis today after a jam-packed weekend consisting of a wedding celebration, winning a basketball game and then coming down with the flu yesterday…my immune system is not the best since I’ve caught the flu quite a few times over the past few months.

But on a brighter note, I thought I would share with you all some of my baking adventures in the kitchen over the weekend. A bit of sickness was definitely not going to put a damper on my weekend and I was determined to create some new baked goods regardless.

I wanted to thank Ms Shortee and Mrs Do for their help on the weekend so this was the perfect opportunity to bake. I wanted to bake something new and of course something healthy so I decided to bake: Banana and Date Wholemeal Spelt Muffins and Flaked Almond Spelt Tuiles.

Banana and Date Wholemeal Spelt Muffins

I adapted my recipe from The Everyday Veggie (http://theeverydayveggie.com/?p=1075) as I wanted to make a sugar-free banana and date muffin.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Wholemeal Spelt Flour
  • 1 Tsp of Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup of Soy Milk
  • 1 Tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1-2 Tbs of Coconut Oil
  • 1-2 Tbs of Agave Nectar (Optional – I don’t think it needs it as the muffin gets its sweetness from the dates already)
  • 1 tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Medium Sized Bananas
  • 1/2 Cup  Chopped Dates

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Line a cupcake/muffin tray with muffin cups or if you are not using liners then you need to spray your tray with oil spray so that the muffins do not stick to the tray
  3. Combine the soy milk with the apple cider vinegar in a bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. This creates a vegan “buttermilk”
  4. Meanwhile, combine the flour and baking soda in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon
  5. Mix the coconut oil, agave nectar (if using), vanilla extract and bananas into the “buttermilk” mixture
  6. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined
  7. Add in the chopped dates and stir into the mixture
  8. Divide the mixture evenly in your muffin tray
  9. Bake for approximately 20 minutes depending on the heat of your oven. You can bake it for longer if the muffins haven’t browned much on top.
  10. Take out of muffin tray and let it cool on a wire cooling rack.

I really liked how these muffins turned out and the fact that they are sugar-free. The sweetness comes from the dates so you don’t really need to use agave as a sweetener in this recipe. Also I used more bananas to make up for some of the oil in the recipe. The muffins turned out to be quite moist due to the bananas in the mixture and I liked the texture of the muffin. I thought that using all whole wheat flour might make these muffins a bit too dense and dry but was quite pleased to see that they were not too dense once baked and were nice and light. I will definitely be baking these again and Ms Shortee told me she enjoyed the muffins so I was very happy to hear such positive comments…Thank You!

Photos:

Photo courtesy of Ms Shortee – Muffin accompanied by a coffee to start the week =)

Flaked Almond Spelt Tuiles

I bought some flaked almonds from the supermarket recently and really wanted to make almond tuiles with them. I loved almond tuiles when I was growing up. My dad would often go to the patisserie on sunday when he wasn’t working and buy a packet of almond tuiles to share with us kids. It was so addictive that you couldn’t stop at one and soon enough the packet was always finished in a matter of minutes. I wanted to replicate these almond biscuits that I was so fond of when I was a child but somehow develop it into a more healthy recipe.

Ingredients I used:

  • A Packet of Almond Flakes (approximately 100g)
  • 1/2 Cup of White Spelt Flour
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of Sugar (you can use a sugar substitute here)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup of Coconut Butter melted
  • 2 Egg Whites

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius
  2. Line a tray with baking paper and set aside
  3. Combine all the ingredients together and stir with a wooden spoon to combine
  4. Drop a tablespoon full of batter onto the lined tray and then flatten each drop of batter with the back of a spoon so that it is reasonably flat – this will make sure the cookie is thin and crispy. They should be roughly a few cms apart from each other
  5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until brown on the outside of each cookie.
  6. Take out of oven and quickly mould them onto a rolling-pin to get the curve in the tuile.
  7. Once cool, you can put them into an airtight container to store for a few days if you haven’t eaten them all by then.

I was happy with my first attempt at this tuile but I definitely will need to fine tune the recipe and keep experimenting. I was rushing a bit as I was being a bit too over ambitious in the kitchen as usual and had to rush off to play basketball so I took out the tuile a bit earlier than the required time. Next time I will bake it for a bit longer until the tuiles have set to a nice light-dark brown colour on the edge of the cookies as I prefer my tuiles to be more crunchy. These turned out to be a bit more chewier as a result of taking them out earlier but I didn’t mind the texture and taste of these even if they weren’t the same consistency as I remember eating them when I was a child. The coconut butter lends a lovely subtle coconut flavour to these cookies without overpowering the whole tuile. Also, I only managed to make a few curved tuiles as my first few batches were a bit sticky and stuck itself onto my rolling-pin so they cracked a little when I tried to pull them off the rolling-pin. I will attempt this again with the proper curving on the tuile and let you all know the results. Mr Cookie Monster AKA Mr Muscles really loved these cookies so much so that he ended up stealing so many cookies and eating them quickly without me realising! Lucky I saved a few to give to Mrs Do who ate these cookies with a cup of tea this morning. Happy birthday again Mrs Do!

Photos:

Cookies with some tea =) Photo courtesy of Mrs Do – Loving that Tea Set!

I now feel like chanting the old childhood verse over and over:

“Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?
Jackpot stole the cookie from the cookie jar
Who me? Yes you, couldn’t be, then who?”

;p

Until next time!

x

Jackie

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Banana, Biscuits and Cookies, Breakfast, Dessert, Health Food, Healthy, Muffins, Muffins, Nuts, Recipes, Snacks, Sugar Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Western

JACKPOT bakes: Vegan Banana, Mango & Macadamia Muffins

Hi all!

Mangoes are in season at the moment as the weather is getting warmer and there is nothing better than eating mangoes on a hot and sunny day to quench your thirst and to satisfy your hunger when it’s too hot to eat anything else. When I was a kid, I loved to eat mangoes with my sister. We used to cut one mango and slice it up in two halves so that we both got half a piece of mango each. We would slice the mango horizontally then vertically to create a checkered effect on the mango and then turn them inside out so that we could easily eat the mango with the cut pieces formed. One mango though, was never enough for the both of us and as our parents used to always buy boxes of mangoes for our home, we would often go back for seconds or thirds when we were feeling slightly peckish. As a kid, I also loved mango sorbet and it would often be my choice of flavour when going to ice cream parlours and dessert places. I never really fancied creamy ice creams compared to my sister when I was young so mango sorbet was always my go to dessert when I wanted something light and refreshing. My dad would often get large scoops of ice-cream for himself and I often think that I inherited his sweet tooth from him over the years as I got older.

I wanted to bake a mango and macadamia muffin that was vegan and low in sugar and oil without any refined sugars or butter. I remember when I was going through my diet days and I was exercising a lot at the time,  I would always go to the local cafe in my area and buy a sugar-free muffin for my breakfast. It was always loaded with plenty of fruit and nuts to keep me full until lunch time. They made several combinations of flavours baked fresh in the early morning so I was always excited to see what flavour they would have each day. My most favourite however was a mango and macadamia muffin and from this, I knew that I wanted to replicate this muffin and the textures and flavours it exhibited.

I experimented by making two versions of vegan muffins. The first version I used a combination of flours: Natural Almond Meal, White Spelt Flour and Whole Wheat Spelt Flour and the second version I made with only White and Whole Wheat Spelt Flour.

I adapted my recipe from Joy the Baker (http://joythebaker.com/2011/07/vegan-mango-banana-bread/). I often read her blogs and she has some fantastic vegan dessert recipes to try out so when I saw this recipe of hers I knew that I wanted to try it out given I had mangoes on hand.

First Version: Vegan Spelt, Almond Meal, Banana, Mango & Macadamia Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup almond meal
  • 1/2 Cup white spelt flour
  • 1/2 whole wheat spelt flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 1/4 cup of soy milk
  • 1/4 cup of sweetener of your choice – agave nectar, pure maple syrup, honey (if you aren’t baking vegan)
  • 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ripe mango diced
  • 1/2 cup of chopped raw macadamia nuts

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Line a cupcake/muffin tray with muffin cups or if you don’t want to use this then lightly spray your cupcake/muffin tray with some oil spray then set aside
  3. Mash the bananas with a fork in a large mixing bowl then add in the milk, sweetener, vanilla extract and whisk to incorporate
  4. Sift in the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt. Using a wooden spoon, mix wet with dry until combined.
  5. Add in the diced mango and chopped macadamia nuts and mix until just combined.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop or a large spoon and drop in spoonfuls of your batter into the muffin cups or cupcake/muffin tray. Fill to about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.
  8. Take the muffins out of the tray and let it cool on a cooling rack.
  9. Best eaten warm but can be frozen to eat later for breakfast.

JACKPOT’s Note: If making this recipe into a loaf, you will need to bake it in a loaf tin in the oven for approximately 50 minutes.

I liked the appearance of these muffins as they came out of the oven as you could see all the different textures from the nuts and fruit and the different flour combination. However when I ate this muffin I found it to be too moist perhaps from too much fruit added into the mixture and too much soymilk. Next time I will reduce the mango to 1/2 a cup of diced mango and I will use maybe only a few tbsps of the soy milk next time. Also, I could not taste the ginger in this recipe and since I like my desserts quite gingery, I will increase the amount of ginger. Whilst the flavours were there I think that next time I might just only use almond meal and see how that works instead.

Photos:

Second Version: Vegan Spelt Banana, Mango & Macadamia Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of white spelt flour
  • 1 Cup of whole wheat spelt flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1-1.5 tbs of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp of ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 medium bananas
  • < than 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of ripe mango diced
  • 1/2 cup of chopped raw macadamia nuts

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Line a cupcake/muffin tray with muffin cups or if you don’t want to use this then lightly spray your cupcake/muffin tray with some oil spray then set aside
  3. Mash the bananas with a fork in a large mixing bowl then add in the melted coconut oil, coconut sugar, vanilla extract and whisk to incorporate
  4. Sift in the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt. Using a wooden spoon, mix wet with dry until combined.
  5. Add in the diced mango and chopped macadamia nuts and mix until just combined.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop or a large spoon and drop in spoonfuls of your batter into the muffin cups or cupcake/muffin tray. Fill to about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.
  8. Take the muffins out of the tray and let it cool on a cooling rack.
  9. Best eaten warm but can be frozen to eat later for breakfast.

I really liked the second version I made over the first version. Whilst the muffin was a lot more dense from the whole wheat flour, I prefered the taste of it moreso. You still get the different layers of texture with the fruits and nuts and I could taste the ginger more in this version. I also liked the coconut sugar in this and using a small amount of coconut oil as well in this batch emphasised more of the coconut flavours which pair very well with mangoes. I found the batter very different to the first version however as it was quite dry and I wasn’t sure whether I needed to add some milk for more moisture but the muffins still remained quite moist from the bananas and mangoes once baked. I will definitely be making these again.

Photos:

Currently munching on one of the muffins now…I can’t resist ;p

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”

Brillat-Savarin

x

Jackie

Leave a comment

Filed under Banana, Breakfast, Dessert, Fruit, Health Food, Healthy, Muffins, Muffins, Nuts, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Western

JACKPOT’S FACTS: Natural Sweetener Substitutions

Hello Readers!

It’s been one tiring week with the overload of basketball this week and last week. We played our grand final last night and unfortunately lost but cannot wait for the next season and I can only hope we do even better!

I thought I’d start a fact sheet for anyone interested in baking vegetarian/vegan or just baking healthier in general. As my pantry does not contain any white refined sugar, you will often see many various kinds of sugar substitutes stocked up in my pantry which I use for cooking and baking.

Why should you not use white refined sugar:

  

If you read the articles I have linked below, the articles explain how refined sugar should be cut out where possible  and replaced with other natural sweeteners due to the side effects it has once consumed in excess and over time. Some of the side effects refined sugar has on your health is the fact it can cause high blood pressure, the way it can indirectly lead to diabetes, can cause liver problems, obesity problems and much much more. We all know that if you consume too much of one thing, it will always have a negative effect on your body. Mr Muscles has always reiterated to me that too much sugar consumption turns into fat and gets stored in the body if you do not exercise or maintain a healthy lifestyle. So if you can reduce the amount of refined sugar to a minimum (you don’t need to cut it out completely) and where possible replace these refined sugars with natural sweeteners, it is a good way to maintain a healthier diet on a whole.

http://www.worldwidehealth.com/health-article-Why-Refined-Sugar-Is-The-Most-Dangerous-Food-You-Can-Eat.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/350074-the-disadvantages-of-sugar/

Natural Sweeteners that I frequently use are:

 

AGAVE NECTAR

Agave Plant 

I often use either organic raw light agave nectar or dark agave nectar in my baking in replacement of refined sugars and honey if creating vegan desserts. Agave Nectar is a sweetener that is commonly produced in Mexico. The nectar (syrup) is extracted from the Blue Agaves. Agaves are large spikey plants that often resemble cactus/aloe vera plants. Agave Nectar often can be compared with honey for its taste factor and is often substituted for honey in recipes to make them vegan. The sweetener in liquid form has a thinner consistency than other sweeteners such as honey so it is easier to use for cooking and baking. The lighter agave nectar has a more neutral and mild taste compared to the darker agave nectar which has more of a strong caramel flavour and can be used as topping for various desserts.

I find Agave Nectar works well in cakes, cookies, frozen desserts, puddings and many more varied desserts. As it is considered quite sweet and should only be consumed in moderation, I tend to use a small amount of agave in my baking where necessary when making vegan desserts.

Benefits of Agave Nectar:

  • Low GI <30
  • Diabetic Friendly
  • It’s sweetness primarily comes from a complex form of fructose called inulin (fructose is the sugar that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables)
  • Low impact on blood sugar
  • Can lower cholesterol
  • Increase the absorption of nutrients for your body

 

You can read more about the history and benefits of agave nectar at http://www.allaboutagave.com/.

Price: $$$

Note: 1 cup of white/brown sugar is equivalent to approximately 2/3 cup of agave nectar. If you are substituting agave for honey or pure maple syrup, then the ratio is 1:1.

 

COCONUT SUGAR

I like to use coconut sugar in my cakes, muffins and cookies. It lends a nice caramel-like flavour to my desserts especially when I make coconut flavoured desserts as it then enhances the coconut flavours even further. Coconut Sugar is derived from the boiled, dehydrated sap of coconut trees. I tend to buy coconut sugar in the granulated form which is a lot more coarser than normal sugar but there are other coconut sugars that are in a solid form.

Benefits of Coconut Sugar:

  • Diabetic friendly
  • Very low GI (35)
  • Rich in minerals and has shown traces of Vitamin C which can have positive effects on your body
  • Low calorie
  • Low impact on blood sugar

 

You can read more about coconut sugar at: http://www.sugarcoconut.com/

Price: $$$

Note: You can use coconut sugar as a substitute for white sugar with a ratio of 1:1.

 

DATES

I often use dates in my desserts ranging from raw desserts to baked desserts. Dates can often replace the white sugar in various recipes. I have used dates to make a raw brownie bite and baked banana muffins. Dates originate from the Middle East and are grown on palm trees.

Dates can be blended in the blender once the pits have been removed to make a paste to use in desserts. Often people will derive sugar from the dates into a granulated form as well. As the dates are considered high in calorie despite the numerous health benefits associated with using dates, dates should be used in moderation just like any other sweetener when cooking and baking.

Benefits of Dates:

  • Rich in natural fibers, minerals and vitamins
  • Very high in protein
  • Helps improve the digestive system
  • Excellent source of iron (good for people who are low in iron)

 

For more information on the origins and health benefits of dates you can read the following links:

http://www.benefitsofeating.com/dates/

http://www.diet-tree.com/health-benefits-of-dates.php

Price: $$

 

MOLASSES (BLACKSTRAP)

I use molasses mainly when I am cooking gingerbread recipes or ginger cookies but it can be utilised in many recipes that require a bittersweet flavour. Molasses is derived from the cane of a sugar plant and the juice is then extracted from it. From this there is a numerous amount of boiling to create the thick dark syrup. Blackstrap Molasses is considered the best type of Molasses

Benefits of Molasses:

  • Nutrient dense
  • Full of vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium
  • If you purchase the unsulphered and organic kind of molasses it is free from processing
  • Medicinal and healing qualities

 

For more information on the benefits of molasses, you can go to the following links:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=118&tname=foodspice

http://zentofitness.com/the-benefits-of-blackstrap-molasses/

Price: $$

Note: You may need to substitute more molasses than what is required with normal sugar

 

PURE MAPLE SYRUP

I use pure maple syrup as a substitute for white sugar in some of my baked goods. I like the smell of the maple when mixed into the desserts. I have often made a maple banana bread and numerous muffins and cakes sweetened with maple syrup. Also if I am making a pancake or crepe batter I like to sub in maple syrup into the batter in replacement of white sugar. Nothing better than bananas and maple syrup mmmm…. ;P

Pure maple syrup derived from the sap of a maple tree. Syrup is made by boiling the sap and reducing it down to a syrup. Pure maple syrup is unprocessed and does not contain any chemicals or preservatives.

Benefits of Pure Maple Syrup:

  • Rich in vitamins and minerals especially zinc and magnesium
  • The compounds in maple syrup are said to exhibit anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-bacterial properties
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Heart healthy
  • High in antioxidants
  • Free from colourings and additives
  • Traces of calcium, iron and magnesium

 

For more information on pure maple syrup you can go to the following links:

http://www.naturalnews.com/030611_maple_syrup_health.html

http://www.purecanadamaple.com/benefits-of-maple-syrup/

Price: $$$

Note: If you are substituting maple syrup for white sugar you will need to only use 1/2 a cup – 2/3 of a cup depending on how sweet you like your desserts. Also, you will need to reduce all the other liquid ingredients in your recipe by 1/4 of a cup to compensate the liquid sweetener.

 

RAPADURA SUGAR (Cane Juice – similar to Turbinado and Sucanat)

Rapadura sugar is considered relatively low in calories and it provides a less sweeter taste than normal refined white sugar. It contains molasses to give it its brownish golden colour and caramel like taste. Rapadura sugar is derived from sugar cane juice. The sugar is not processed or purified.  The cane juice is then dried to create brown crystals.

I often use Rapadura sugar in my cakes and muffins. Rapadura sugar tends to go well with fruit desserts as well. As it provides a caramel-like flavour, you can use this to replace the flavours of caramel in non-vegan recipes.

Benefits of Rapadura Sugar:

  • High in vitamins and minerals such as iron and calcium
  • Easy to digest and metabolise in your body
  • Not processed

 

Price: $$$

Note: If substituting with Rapadura sugar, you just use the ratio of 1:1 with white refined sugar.

 

RAW ORGANIC HONEY

If you are not baking vegan but want to bake healthy still, you can use raw organic honey to replace white sugar in your cooking and baking. Raw Organic Honey is raw honey in its pure and natural form that has been unpasteurized and unprocessed. It appears dense and grainy in consistency and is considered sweeter than granulated sugar. I tend to use raw organic honey in many baked and steamed desserts such as cakes and muffins and also when stewing fruit as fruit and honey pair well together.

Benefits of Raw Organic Honey:

  • Many healing properties for your body: soothes and heals skin wounds, promotes the growth of good bacteria and much much more
  • High nutritional benefits
  • Tend to use less of this sweetener than other sweeteners due to its thick and dense consistency
  • Contains many antioxidants

 

You can read more about the health benefits of raw honey at http://www.draxe.com/the-many-health-benefits-of-raw-honey/.

Price: $$$

Note: If using honey in replacement of white sugar, you will need to reduce the amount of honey used for the recipe. 1 cup of white sugar should be replaced with approximately 1/2 cup of honey or less dependent on your taste buds.

 

STEVIA

 

People often use Stevia in their desserts as it is considered a zero calorie sugar substitute and is much lower in carbohydrates as a result. However, the drawback with using Stevia is that you often get a bitter after taste depending on the concentration of Stevia you use.

Benefits of Stevia:

  • Zero calories
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Decrease blood sugars
  • Aids weight loss and weight management
  • Improved digestion
  • Its 300 times sweeter than sugar so you only need to use a very very small amount

 

For more information on Stevia, you can go to the following links which list the pros and cons of Stevia:

http://www.3fatchicks.com/8-pros-and-cons-of-stevia/

http://www.ehow.com/list_7290194_pros-cons-stevia-sweetener.html

Price: $$

Note: If using liquid stevia to replace one cup of sugar, you only need to use 1 tsp of Stevia, if using packet form, then you will need to use 1/3 of a tsp – 1/2 of a tsp of Stevia to replace the white sugar in the recipe.

I hope this fact sheet was insightful and informative for all of you. I didn’t know much about all these natural sweeteners until I started baking a lot and trying to find substitutes for refined sugars and I was surprised that there are so many options and alternatives to use in your cooking and baking. Each sweetener has its own taste and texture which pairs well with different dessert recipes so it’s all about experimenting until you find the sweetener you are happy with at the end of the day.

Happy baking everyone!

Until next time…

x

Jackie

3 Comments

Filed under Factsheet, Uncategorized

JACKPOT cheats with: Sugar Hits & A Mad Hatter High Tea

Hello all!

I thought I would write this post and share with you all, the photos from my eating adventures this month i.e. the desserts I have consumed of late being good food month and all. Not only has this month provided plentiful amounts of celebrations for my birthday but considering it also coincides with good food month…this has meant more eating and eating and eating on my behalf…yes food comas galore! I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated the month of October than indulging in such wonderful foods.

Now you all probably know by now that I have the biggest sweet tooth so much so that sometimes I can’t resist dessert when it is on the menu. I’ll even eat a small main at a restaurant to ensure that I can eat dessert without feeling too guilty. You will often see that on my cheat days on the weekend, I will always indulge in a sweet treat or two to take a break from eating relatively healthy during the weekdays.

So far this month I have been to two Sugar Hits firstly at Azuma Restaurant and then at the Intercontinental Hotel and recently to a Mad Hatter Themed High Tea at the Westin Hotel. The funny thing is that previously to this I had never been to a sugar hit and it must seem quite odd for someone who has such a big sweet tooth. This year I thought I would try to go to a few restaurants to see what the Sugar Hits were all about.

AZUMA SUGAR HIT

The first Sugar Hit I went to was at Azuma Restaurant. I was quite excited to go to this Sugar Hit as I had read several food blogs on this and saw many pictures of the dessert. The dessert was an “East meets West – Dessert Bento Box” consisting of a Japanese style Panna cotta made from soy & cow’s milk with a bottom layer of brown sugar jelly served with seasonal fruit on top shaped into a face and served with buckwheat soba noodles to make up the hair. The bento box also had some homemade Yuzu Sorbet with popping candy, a Gateaux Chocolate served with cream, fruits and candied violet, 2 Marble Gateaux Cookies (Chocolate & Vanilla) and a Sake Sample which was either Yuzu or Rose Sake or a Plum Wine. The bento box came with either a choice of Japanese Green Tea or a glass of Brown Brothers Cienna Rosso (a sweet and fruity sparkling wine).

My favourite dish from the bento box was the Panna cotta. I love Panna cotta and this one in particular went really well with the brown sugar jelly as you scooped further into it. They definitely tried to make it more creative by making the fruit and noodles into a face with hair. I was hesitant about the Yuzu sorbet as I had tried Yuzu sorbet and ice cream before and feel it is a bit of an acquired taste but I was quite surprised as it was very refreshing and light. As you delved further into the sorbet and ate it, you would get a whole different texture in your mouth from the popping candy. The cookies were nice and crumbly but were not a stand out for me. Also I was quite disappointed with the Gateaux Chocolate which was basically a very dense and dry chocolate cake. I’m not a fan of cream so I chose to eat the cake without it but the cake on a whole still was definitely not a memorable dish.

While you get a lot for $20 than most places offering Sugar Hits, I felt that the Bento box was a bit of a hit and miss. There were some great dishes but also some not so great dishes as well. The dessert didn’t really leave me wanting more. You will need to book Azuma if you want to try their sugar hit dessert as they usually are booked out.

Photos from Azuma:

Menu from Azuma

Glass of Brown Brothers Cienna Rosso

Azuma’s Special Blend Japanese Green Tea

The Azuma dessert bento box

Kawaii Panna Cotta – Japanese style Panna Cotta made with soy & cow’s milk, with Brown Sugar Jelly, Seasonal Fruit Face & Buckwheat Soba Noodle Hairstyle

Home-made Yuzu Sorbet with popping sparkles

Gateaux Chocolat with fresh cream, seasonal fruits & candied violet

Marble Gateaux Cookies – Homemade chocolat & vanilla marbled Gateaux cookies

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL SUGAR HIT

I wanted to try the Intercontinental Hotel Sugar Hit after hearing from Miss J that it was one of the best Sugar Hit’s this year. So I was in luck last saturday night when a bunch of friends wanted to try this sugar hit as well. This year’s Sugar Hit at Intercontinental consists of a homemade ivory chocolate cheesecake, with salted chocolate caramel, poached strawberry and berry soil made from freeze-dried blueberries and raspberries and some red pieces of sponge cake. This dessert was served with a glass of Brown Brothers Orange Muscat and Flora.

I really liked the dessert but did not think it really resembled a cheesecake, but moreso the texture was almost reminiscent of a soft and airy white chocolate mousse. Despite this, I really enjoyed the texture of the light and airy cake in contrast to the crumbly base. The berry soil was surprisingly nice due to the crunchy texture. This contrasted the soft spongy pieces of cake served on the sides of the cheesecake. The soft poached strawberries provided another different taste texture to the dessert when eaten together with the berry soil and cheesecake. All in all I quite enjoyed the dessert as I demolished my plate clean. Mr Muscles complained that whilst the dessert was nice, he thought there could have been much more on the plate. Others were saying that while it was nice, it wasn’t very spectacular or memorable for the price. Me being me, I was just happy to consume some cake to get my dessert fix for the night. I thought that this sugar hit was better than Azuma taste wise even though Azuma provided more components to their dessert.

Note: You can’t book the Intercontinental so you should try to get there earlier if you can around 9pm. We got there at 10:40pm and were lucky to get seated as a group was just leaving at that time.

Photos from Intercontinental Sugar Hit:

Homemade ivory chocolate cheesecake, with salted chocolate caramel, poached strawberry and berry soil

 A glass of Brown Brothers Orange Muscat and Flora

THE MAD HATTER’S AFTERNOON TEA PARTY

Yesterday Mrs Papparazzi and I went to a Mad Hatter themed High Tea at The Westin Hotel. I was very excited to go to this as I love High Tea – combining finger sandwiches with scones and dessert, I can’t think of anything better! I thoroughly enjoyed the High Tea and could see their attempts in trying to be creative with their sandwiches and desserts by thinking outside the box and serving up some original looking savoury and sweet dishes to go with the theme.

The savoury dishes on the high tea menu were all visually appealing and decorative. My favourite savoury item was the Alaskan crabmeat salad on double bread which had been cut into a flat cylinder with the crabmeat filled inside. This was then wrapped with slices of cucumber. It tasted very light and refreshing. The roasted beef sandwich was not as memorable mostly because I am not that big of a fan of roasted beef however the beef was cut thinly and rolled around the fresh asparagus so the sandwich felt quite light. To be a bit different, as part of the savoury menu, there was also a cherry bocconcini and tomato salad boat which was a nice change from the sandwiches usually served at high tea. This was served with some crunchy pieces of pastry (not quite sure what it was exactly) as garnish to the salad and to provide a certain crunch to the dish and it was also served with a light dressing.

But onto dessert…my favourite part of high tea! I loved the raspberry dessert and it would have had to be my favourite item on the high tea menu. The dessert consisted of layers of raspberry buttercream with chocolate ganache and raspberry jelly moulded into a heart shape with a heart-shaped jelly on top. The raspberry and chocolate paired well together. I loved the texture of the dessert from chocolate to jelly but was sad that it was such a small serving for such a nice dessert. Mrs Papparazzi agreed that this was her favourite dessert as well. I also quite enjoyed the dark chocolate mud cake encased in chocolate icing. I don’t know how you can go wrong with chocolate covered with more chocolate and the fact that it was moulded into the shape of a hat was very clever. I wasn’t a fan of the purple macaron with blueberry cream filling as I do not like macarons in general. Mrs Papparazzi told me she has had better macarons than the one served at this high tea so I took her word on this. The macaron however was quite creative in appearance as they had stuck a piece of edible fondant on the macaron in the shape of a clock.

The scones came out well after we had finished up the sandwiches and desserts. I was getting quite full at this stage but there is always room for some scones right? And I was happy to see that they were much smaller in size than most places that serve high tea which meant that I could just fit them in. The scones were accompanied with homemade strawberry jam, a raspberry chocolate jam and clotted cream. I really liked the strawberry and raspberry chocolate jam. Although you could not really taste the chocolate in the raspberry jam as much.

The high tea was served with some sweet wine which was quite fruity in taste and a tea of your choice. I chose green tea as I usually do and mixed in some honey that they provided while Mrs Papparazzi chose to have an English Breakfast tea with milk.

Overall I really enjoyed the high tea utilising a cute and arty theme whilst also trying to resemble the theme into savory and sweet dishes by thinking of unique and imaginative ideas for each dish. The desserts were more the standout of the high tea for me and it’s always great catching up with friends over good food and indulging every now and then. I’m still thinking about that Raspberry dessert dish right now – yum! ;P

Photos from the Mad Hatter’s High Tea (Photos courtesy of Mrs Papparazzi – her photos always turn out so good! Thank you!)

Glasses of sparking white wine

Savoury Dishes

Roasted beef and fresh asparagus roulade on mini laugen

Alaskan crabmeat salad on double bread

Cherry bocconcini & tomato on a fresh green salad boat

Sweet Dishes

Layers of raspberry buttercream, chocolate ganache and raspberry jellymmmmmmmmmmm my favourite!

Dark chocolate mud cake encased in chocolate icing

Purple macaron with a blueberry cream filling

Scones served with homemade strawberry jam, raspberry chocolate jam and clotted cream

Green Tea served with honey

Azuma Japanese Restaurant

Level 1, Chifley Plaza

2 Chifley Square

Sydney NSW 2000

Tel: (02) 9222-9960

Website: www.azuma.com.au

Intercontinental Hotel – Cafe Opera

117 Macquarie Street

Sydney NSW 2000

Ph: (02) 9253 9000

Website: http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental

Sugar Hit Hours: 9pm-11pm

The Westin Sydney

No. 1 Martin Place

Sydney NSW 2000

Ph: (02) 8223-1111

Website: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1183

Till next time!

x

Jackie

Leave a comment

Filed under Asian, Biscuits and Cookies, Cake, Dessert, High Tea, Scones, Sugar Hit, Western

JACKPOT makes: Chewy Cranberry & Pecan Spelt Cookies

Hello dear readers!

I hope you all have had a good weekend! My weekend consisted of baking, eating and then more baking and eating. I’m glad I played a lot of sport this weekend as now I feel a little less guilty for indulging in so much food over the past few days ;P.

On Saturday morning, I was in the mood to make some cookies. I’m always making numerous amounts of muffins and cakes on a frequent basis and as I was seeing Miss S that night, I wanted to bring her some freshly baked goods as gift so it provided me with the perfect opportunity to bake. Mr M bought me a recipe book for my birthday recently called “The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur” by Kelly Peloza, so I couldn’t help but browse through the recipe book to get some good ideas. After much thought, I decided to make an oatmeal type cookie. On my recent trip down to Melbourne, I purchased some cranberry and pecan spelt cookies from Phillippa’s which I really liked as the taste and texture was just how I like my cookies. I thought I would replicate these cookies based on what I remember them to taste like but with my own added healthy twist to them. I took a basic oatmeal cookie recipe I found in the book and tweaked it to recreate the taste and texture of the cookies that I was so fond of eating.

Ingredients I used:

  • 1 Cup of White Spelt Flour
  • 1/2 Cup of Chopped Pecans (You can add more pecans if you like your cookies to be more nutty in texture)
  • 1 Cup of Rolled Oats
  • 1 Cup of Dried Cranberries (You can reduce this amount as I thought that 1 cup was too much. Next time I will reduce it to half a cup)
  • 1 Tsp of Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tsp of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp of Salt
  • 1/3 cup of soy milk
  • 1/4 Cup of melted Coconut Oil (you can add more if the batter is too dry)
  • 1/4 Cup of Dark Agave Nectar
  • 1.5 tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl (except for the dried cranberries) and then in a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated. Portion out the mixture onto a lined baking tray. I made big and small cookies but you can make uniform cookies to whatever size you prefer your cookies to be. In my mindset, smaller cookies meant more indulgment and feeling less guilty ;P. I rolled my mixture into a small ball then flattened it with a fork so that it would get a more even colour once baked.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes or more depending how crispy you like your cookie. If you like a chewier cookie, 10 minutes should be enough time in the oven to set the cookies. Once out of the oven, put them on a baking tray to cool. Ensure that you don’t eat them all in one go as tempting as it is!

What I like about these cookies is that there isn’t too much sweetness and that the sweetness comes from the agave and the dried cranberries. The cranberries and pecans give it more texture and crunch. Also, I liked the fact that these cookies don’t take long to make and that the baking time in the oven is only for a short amount of time to get that chewy texture. I was happy with the result of the cookie but next time I might flatten the cookie out a bit more as I wanted to obtain a more crisper edge to the cookies. They weren’t exactly like the cookies I purchased in Melbourne as they were a lot chewier but at least I didn’t feel too bad when eating them and Miss S seemed to like the cookies which was even better! I will have to try this recipe out again and see if I can make it even better next time. I’ll definitely be reducing the amount of cranberries as I think I went a little overboard when mixing in the cranberries into the mixture.

Photos:

Stay tuned for my next recipe: Vegan Mango & Macadamia Muffins ;P

“A recipe has no soul.  You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe. “
Thomas Keller

x

Jackie

1 Comment

Filed under Biscuits and Cookies, Dessert, Fruit, Health Food, Healthy, Nuts, Recipes, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian, Western

Jackpot eats at: Kawa Cafe

Hi all!

I love brunch because it always gives me an excuse to eat breakfast food or lunch food if I’m in the mood for it. I’m a big fan of pancakes, baked egg dishes, sourdough toast, muesli with fruit and yoghurt…so many choices! I still have so many places I want to go to on my breakfast/brunch list and would like to try as many brunch places as possible to see which one is better in comparison to others I have been to.

One of my favourite places to go to for breakfast/brunch is Kawa Cafe in Surry Hills. I have frequented this cafe on several occasions and have always been happy with the food I have eaten here. Kawa is a small cafe which is quite packed and crowded on the weekends so if you want to get a seat inside or outside you need to get to the cafe a bit earlier. The lines aren’t as crazy as Bills which is just down the road and while they don’t have any ricotta hotcakes or corn fritters, there are so many options to pick from such as the Vegan big breakfast which consists of: ripe avocado, roast pumpkin, slow roasted tomato with basil, sautéed mushrooms, homemade baked beans, hommus and toast or classics such as Eggs Benedict, french toast, porridge and much much more.

I have often had the 5 grain sourdough toast when I visit Kawa as I have a weakness for bread and like to indulge every so often on weekends for breakfast. I love all things sourdough but the grains and seeds in this bread really make the bread that much more nutritious to eat (at least that’s what I keep telling myself ;P)

On my previous visit to Kawa, I was feeling like a light brunch meal so I decided to order their home-made granola with stewed rhubarb and natural yoghurt. It was really good! Muesli/Granola is my usual go to food for breakfast and I loved the combination of the tart rhubarb with the yoghurt and the crunch of the granola which was studded with lots of dried fruit and nuts. This rhubarb was so memorable that I went home and tried to replicate the dish without the granola. I bought some fresh rhubarb from the markets and stewed it in a small saucepan with lemon and honey. It went very well with my low-fat plain yoghurt. I find myself doing this a lot whenever I come back from cafes and restaurants, I always seem to want to try to make their dishes but using healthier ingredients. Some have been met with success, others have been a bit of a miss but all in all I guess that’s the fun of baking and cooking – the whole experimenting and learning from your mistakes and doing better the next time round.

On our most recent visit here, I decided to have the omelette with shaved ham and mushroom. I usually ask the waiter to make it an egg white omelette. The omelette is served with a simple garden salad which is a light and refreshing side to the meal. This time when I had my egg white omelette however, I found it to be a bit more oily than what I have had previously. This was the only let down I found. Mr Muscles was feeling hungry so decided to order the Big Breakfast. He quickly demolished his whole plate clean and could not stop raving about how good the baked beans were and the fact that they were home-made.

Homemade granola with stewed rhubarb and natural yoghurt – from the specials board

Egg White Omelette with Ham and Mushroom served with a side of Garden Salad $15.50

Big Breakfast: Organic poached eggs served with balsamic roasted tomato, homemade baked beans, sautéed mushrooms, avocado and toast $16.50

Kawa Cafe

348 Crown Street

Surry Hills NSW 2010

Ph: (02) 9331 6811

Hours:

Mon-Fri 8am-5pm

Sat-Sun 8am-4pm

Till next time

x

Jackie

Leave a comment

Filed under Breakfast, Brunch, Cafe, Eggs, Fruit, Granola, Health Food, Healthy, Toast, Vegan, Vegetarian, Western, Yoghurt

Jackpot makes: Homemade Raspberry Frozen Yoghurt

Hello dear readers!

TGIF! Sorry for the delayed post but this week has felt like a constant pattern of exhaustion and to top things off I haven’t had a chance to bake anything as yet…perhaps I’ve got some baking block? But I hope to relax this weekend and start baking again. Thanks to my wonderful friends, I am the proud new owner of a red Kitchenaid so I cannot wait to try out new recipes with it.

So last night I looked inside my fridge and found I still had a tub of Country Valley Natural Yoghurt sitting there that had not been open and because of all the birthday festivities of late, I had completely forgotten about it. I was going to bake a french vanilla yoghurt cake or a steamed yoghurt cake but instead decided to do something completely different and make frozen yoghurt. I love froyo as mentioned in my previous post and while this homemade froyo does not compare at all to the likes of Moochi or Noggi, I was still quite happy with the results.

Once again I didn’t really follow a recipe and decided to wing it instead. I took out my trusty Vitamix which is a really great kitchen appliance. You can make ice creams, smoothies, soups etc with this appliance. I have even made raw brownie bites quite successfully in this Vitamix.

The ingredients I used were:

  • 1 tub of natural yoghurt – you can use greek yoghurt as well, or a flavoured yoghurt with vanilla or yoghurt for added flavour but I used a natural yoghurt so that I could add my own flavours and control the sugar content in the froyo
  • 1 cup of frozen raspberries – you can feel free to use any type of fruit. I chose raspberries as that was that I had in my freezer but feel free to try this with blueberries, mixed berries, strawberries, peach, mango
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla paste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of agave nectar – you can add more as I don’t like my froyo too sweet but since the raspberries are quite tart you may need to increase the amount. You could also substitute the agave for sugar or other types of sweetener. You can even try using Stevia but do not put too much as you do not want the taste of Stevia to overpower the taste of your frozen yoghurt.

I put all these ingredients into my mixer and blended for a minute on low-speed then put it to the highest speed for another minute or so.

Once the mixture was done, I poured it into a container and put it straight into my freezer to set further.

I was really happy with the taste of my froyo. I think I went a bit overboard with the raspberries though as my froyo mixture turned out to be quite a dark pink. If you want your froyo to be a bit lighter in colour and have less of a raspberry taste, you can reduce the amount of raspberries to 1/2 a cup. Also, my froyo was a bit on the icy side as my freezer is quite cold and because I didn’t make this froyo in an ice-cream maker to churn it, I think the texture was different to typical frozen yoghurt. Regardless, I like that I know what is in the frozen yoghurt and that the sweetness only comes from the agave nectar.

I am keen to try a mango or strawberry frozen yoghurt next =)

Pictures:

“Learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

Julia Child, My Life in France

x

Jackie

Leave a comment

Filed under Dessert, Frozen Yoghurt, Fruit, Health Food, Healthy, Recipes, Snacks, Western