Saturday 24 September 2011

baba ganoush

baba ghanoush - baba ghanouj - baba ghannoug

This was the first time I’ve made baba ganoush. Jonas had made it once before, which is strange because Jonas hates eggplant.

Nonetheless it was my first time in the driver’s seat and I was determined to make the best version I could.

Recently, I’d been at my friend Suzy’s house and – while she redesigned my blog with pretty new banner, favicon and business cards – I stuffed my face with delicious, intensely smoky baba ganoush from her local grocer.

The memory was vivid in my mouth and so I reached out to the man I knew would have the best baba ganoush recipe on the interweb: Fouad from The Food Blog.

On top of delivering the most delicious baba ganoush you ever will find, Fouad’s recipe is presented as a whimsical poem and is full of tips at each step, like not overpowering your eggplant with lemon and garlic, or only mixing with a fork to ensure the right textural consistency.

His advice is sage. His baba ganoush is divine.

This is how I turned his poem into my own recipe.

Baba Ganoush

Anna’s recipe based on Fouad’s poem. Serves 8 as a dip.

3 eggplants (aubergines)
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt


1. Pierce eggplants with a fork or knife all over (to prevent explosions).

2. Blacken over fire – best to use charcoal (the ONLY way according to Fouad) but gas or BBQ flames are a good alternative. This can take around 15 minutes or so. You want the whole eggplant to be completely black (smokiness) and limp (cooked flesh).

3. Put the hot eggplants in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, or seal in a plastic bag. The steam from the hot eggplants keeps cooking them and helps the skin loosen from the flesh.

4. When completely cool, peel off the skin but don’t fuss over tiny specks of charred skin.

5. Drain the flesh very well (maybe leave over a strainer for an hour or so).

6. Add to the eggplant the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt and crush with a fork.

7. When well mixed, drizzle in olive oil and whip through.

8. Taste to ensure right ratio of tahini, lemon, garlic and salt.

9. Serve drizzled with olive oil and, if you want a little colour, a sprinkle of sumac.

Eat with abandon!

Wednesday 14 September 2011

grilled avocado w melted cheese & hot sauce

Snacks are wonderful. Even better when they’re quick and easy to make.

This is my lazy fall back dinner. It’s made from four ingredients and couldn’t be easier to throw together.

Assemble, grill, eat.

After a long day at work, when all you want to do is crash on the sofa and watch TV, this is the kind of comfort food I turn to: quick and delicious.

Grilled Avocado w Melted Cheese & Hot Sauce

Anna's very own recipe. Serves 1 as a snack.

1 avocado
1 tablespoon chipotle sauce (Tabasco or Louisiana)
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper


1. Slice the avocado in half and remove the stone. Prick all over with a fork, or cut criss-cross patterns with a knife. This allows the sauce to penetrate the flesh.

2. Pour the sauce over each half, then top with lime juice and salt and pepper.

3. In the cavity where the stone has been, put a fourth of the cheese on each avocado half. Place under the hot grill for 2 minutes.

4. Top with remaining cheese and grill (broil for Americans!) for another 2 minutes until completely melted and avocado warmed through.

Eat hot with a wedge of lime and chipotle sauce on the side!

Avocadoes are wonderful fruits, which is why I've chosen them as my theme ingredient for WHB in 2007 (cold avocado soup from the Ivory Coast), 2008 (avocado shake from Vietnam) and 2009 (prawn salad from Mexico).

The word avocado comes from the Aztec (Nahuatl) word ahuacatl, via Spanish aguacate and means “testicle”. Perhaps because of its appearance, the Aztecs believed avocadoes were an aphrodisiac and called it "the fertility fruit". Apparently during avocado harvesting, virgins were kept indoors to prevent any promiscuity taking place.

This reputation stuck with the avocado for such a long time and many people in South America wouldn’t eat it because they wanted to appear wholesome. Companies had to undertake serious PR campaigns to dispel the myths and get the fruit out to the public.

The Nahuatl word ahuacatl makes up other words like ahuacamolli, meaning "avocado soup/sauce” which the Spanish transformed into guacamole.

Propagation by seed takes around 5 years to produce fruit and the quality is never as good as the parent tree. Commercial plantations therefore graft new seedlings.

Avocadoes mature on the tree but ripen once harvested. The fruit is high monounsaturated fat contents and contains 60% more potassium than bananas, vitamin Bs, vitamin E, vitamin K and folate.

It is also interesting to note that avocado foliage, skin and pits are said to poison animals such as birds, cats, dogs, cattle, goats, rabbits and fish.

Good for us, bad for Fido.

This WHB is hosted by Graziana from Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs).

Saturday 10 September 2011

earl grey & rhubarb jam


This is one of the best jams I’ve made in a while.

The sweet-sour flavour of the rhubarb goes so well with the aromatic bergamot in Earl Grey. The jam is a perfect balance of rhubarb flavour and the hint of Earl Grey at the end.

I am so happy with the results and long to devour it heaped upon warm scones and clouds of clotted cream. With a cup of Earl Grey, of course!

Earl Grey & Rhubarb Jam

Anna's very own recipe. Makes 2 x 250ml jars.

2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves
1 cup water
350g rhubarb
350g sugar
15g Jamsetta (optional)
1 lime, juiced


1. Chop the rhubarb into small pieces.

2. Boil the water and pour it over the tea leaves. Leave to steep for about 15 minutes.

3. Strain the tea into a large saucepan and bring to boil.

4. Add the rhubarb and lime juice, cover and stew until the rhubarb has softened (no more than 5 minutes).

5. Add sugar and jamsetta, stirring until dissolved.

6. Bring to the boil and allow jam to bubble away for 5-10 minutes until it reaches setting point.

7. Pour into sterilised jars and seal.

Note: to check setting stage, drop a small amount of jam onto a chilled saucer for 30 seconds, run finger through the mixture and if it wrinkles or remains separated it has reached its setting poin.

Monday 5 September 2011

ono coconut cake w coconut frosting

This is a luscious, coconut-ty dessert. In fact, you can't get a whiter, more coconut-rich cake than this Hawaiian recipe.

The first time I saw this on the Saveur website I swooned, and when I made it for my work colleagues they swooned too (special shout out to Kylie, who ate the leftover icing with a spoon).

It's not very healthy, but the best things never are.

Ono Coconut Cake w Coconut Frosting

Recipe from Honolulu's Moiliili Community Center via Saveur Issue #56. Serves 12.


3 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons plain flour, for dusting
1½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
400ml unsweetened coconut milk
8 egg whites
½ teaspoon salt

100g butter
½ teaspoons salt
5 cups powdered sugar
165ml (11 tablespoons) coconut cream
15ml (1 tablespoon) coconut rum
5ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.

2. Grease 2 round 9" cake pans with butter. Dust each pan with 1 tbsp. of the flour, tapping out excess; set aside.

3. Sift together the remaining 3 cups flour, sugar, and baking powder into a large bowl.

4. Add coconut milk, stirring until batter is smooth, then set aside.

5. Put egg whites and salt into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.

6. Fold whites into batter.

7. Divide batter between prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

8. Set aside on a rack to cool, then remove from pans.

9. For frosting, beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, salt, coconut cream, vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Add more coconut cream as needed for smoother frosting.

10. Cut cakes to ensure flat surfaces. Place first round on a cake plate, spread one-third of the frosting on top, and sprinkle with ¼ cup of the coconut. Set the remaining cake round on top, then ice cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle top and sides with remaining ¾ cup coconut.

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