Category Archives: Recipes – lunchbox ideas

Naan bread


Homemade naan bread
Homemade naan bread with chicken massaman curry in the background

J loves bread. Baguettes. Focaccia. Pizza bread. Chinese buns. Chinese pancake wraps. Naan bread is one of her favourite among this lot.
When she was younger, her tolerance to spices are not that great so when we went for Indian meals she would often just eat the bread and not the meat and the sauce, no matter now mild they were.

Seems though with age this is slowly changing and last week she managed to eat most of the sauce of a not-so-mild lamb madras! It was quite hilarious though as she was fanning herself and drinking copious amount of water while eating.

Hopefully she will be pleasantly surprised tonight when she discovers what is for dinner.

Ingredients:
1 cup warm milk
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp of active dry yeast
2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp of oil
6 cups of sifted all purpose (plain) flour
butter

Directions:
Pour warm milk and water into a large bowl. Add yeast, sugar, salt, egg, 1 Tbsp of the oil and mix together.

image

Add sifted flour and quickly work the mixture into a dough. The dough should be very soft and quite sticky. I used a fork to bring everything together before kneading with oiled hands. Pat remaining oil over the dough and cover the bowl with a loose lid.

image
Place the bowl in a warm place until the dough has doubled its size (40 – 60 minutes).
Preheat the oven at 240c and place the baking sheets inside the oven while the oven is heating.

(The yeast was a little bit too excited!)
(The yeast was a little bit too excited!)

Once the dough is ready, turn it over to a floured surface and shape small ball-sized doughs out of it. You may find the dough is very soft and almost fall through your fingers – it is fine! Just be gentle.
The trick is to make sure your hands are dusted with flour frequently. I also use disposable gloves as a barrier between the soft dough and my warm hands. To avoid the dough from sticking to your fingers, frequently flour them and work faster. Let the balls rest for about 15 minutes.

Round naan bread dough
Round naan bread dough

Once the dough has rested and risen, place one on the floured board and push down the centre of the dough, taking care not to flatten it too much. Gently pick it up and literally toss it from your left hand to your right, making sure each time it lands on the palm of your hand.

Round naan bead dough risen
Round naan bead dough risen

image

This tossing action will create a nice longish triangular or oval-shaped dough.
image

You can spread some butter or even garlic on top of the flat dough and they are ready to cook. Taking care when opening the oven door as it is very hot, take the sheets out and quickly but gently place the dough on sheets. Bake for about 6 minutes and remove when the top has slightly golden-brown spots. Continue with the remaining dough balls.

image

Stack and cover with a clean tea towel, they are ready to be devoured with any curry you fancy. Or, like me, the plumpest one was picked, torn into and chewed away while typing this post.

Enjoy!

Maisy mouse gingerbread cookies


As school’s starting this week, we have been in full back-to-school mode: getting stationary sorted, uniforms ironed, new lunchboxes and water bottles – all sorted. One thing we couldn’t miss out on is preping for snacks for school. I don’t want to do what I did last year – baking too much at a time with the hopes that it will fill up all the lunchboxes for weeks. Turns out banana muffins can get boring pretty quickly, even with chocolate buttons in them (What do you mean you don’t like them any more? They have chocolate chips in them for goodness sake!). They don’t freeze that well and the taste deteriorates the longer they have been frozen.

This year, I’m going to try out a few different ideas for lunch and teas. First off, baking from pre-made, frozen dough.
This is hardly a new idea, just underestimated by me as a true time saver (I find it really hard to hold back and not bake the entire batch sometimes). By doubling the batch and keeping some reserve dough in the freezer, you can always bring it out the night before to let it thaw and very quickly you’ll have a fresh batch of baking for the week. Same idea as mise en place, you will be saving time spent on prep. You can build on your ‘baking bank’ with a variety of recipes and you’ll always have something on hand for parties too.

Here’s our recipe for gingerbread cookies, these have a nice light crunch, no teeth-breaking involved 🙂

Ingredients:
450g plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp baking powder
115g melted butter
100g golden syrup
115g muscavado sugar
1.5 size 7 egg, beaten (about 60g)

Method:
Mix the flour, spices, baking powder in a large bowl.
Pour melted butter, syrup and sugar into mix, combine.
Add the eggs and combine.
Tip contents onto a large board, work the dough until everything comes together without being sticky.
Roll out to 3mm thickness and cut into shapes with cutters.

Fan bake for 18 minutes in a preheated oven at 160C, until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate chestnut mini cupcakes


J: mummy can I have a cupcake please?
Me: ok (grabs one from the box and gives her one, and walks out of the kitchen)
A few minutes later, J came to find me,
J: mummy I’ve finished my 2 cupcakes !!! They were delicious!
Me: I only gave you one, how did you get another?
J: I tippy-toed onto the bench, grabbed the box and chose one!

Now I can’t leave things on the kitchen bench!!

Recipes are written to be followed, right? Well sometimes not I guess. Especially when you can’t find an easy and quick recipe that allows you to use up your chestnut puree!! Even in this day and age where you have search engines that do all the work for you in 0.01 of a second?? So I say recipes are developed and improved upon to allow us to face whatever life throws at us (leftover chestnut purée that is).
So here you have a recipe that I personally designed. You have 3 options (having choices are good):
A) chocolate chestnut cupcake with no flour component. In which case don’t add the last ingredient. This gives a gooey decadent dessert-like cake.
B) chocolate chestnut cupcake with plain flour. This is what I made in the photos, for I wanted something less rich for J.
C) chocolate chestnut gluten-free cupcake, using almond meal instead of plain flour. Well that’s if you needed to make cupcakes, but discovered at the last minute that you have ran out of flour because you have been making macarons for far too long and had forgotten the need for flour. You however have almond meal well stocked in the pantry, so go ahead and use it!

Ingredients

110g dark chocolate melts
4 eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
200g chestnut purée
75g dark chocolate bites (those that hold their shapes during cooking, and you can omit this if you think there is enough chocolate already!! J insisted she wanted these, so in they go)
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g flour (or almond meal if you want these to be gluten-free cupcakes)

Instructions

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water. This will take about 3-5 minutes. Stir to make sure all the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the egg whites until it forms a soft peak.

Beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar until it is pale and creamy.

Add the cooled melted chocolate, mix to combine.

Add the chestnut puree, mix slightly just to combine (having little lumps of chestnuts inside is like discovering little treasures – oh how I wish I had glaced chestnuts!!!)

Mix in the dark chocolate bites and baking powder.

Mix in the flour or almond meal.

Last but not least, fold in the egg whites.

In the mean time, J has been lining the tray with mini cupcake cases.

Drop them into mini cupcake cases. You will have enough to make 30.

Bake at 175 degrees Celcius for 13 minutes.

Rest for 1 minute in the pan, and then remove to cool on a wire rack.

No icing needed, but if you really wanted, you could do a simple 1:1 chocolate ganache (i.e. 1 part chocolate to 1 part cream – eg 50g chocolate melted with 50ml hot cream, like for my macarons)

and rating…don’t really need to say much =)

(ps. sorry about the holes in the cupcakes – this was a rather hurried job and I didn’t sift my flour and baking powder…and also probably over mixed it a bit! Did not affect the yummyness though, so all good.)