Spiced Mocha Lassi

This is a terrific recipe from Bobby Flay and the only thing you need to do in advance is make the spiced coffee ice cubes. They are well worth having in the freezer as the flavors are incredible when you drop a cube into this drink. A wonderful and different breakfast drink.

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Serves 4

SPICED COFFEE ICE CUBES:

2 cups hot espresso
1/4 cup sugar
1 strip orange peel
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2-inch piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped

LASSI:

3/4 cup to 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or more to thin down the drink)
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 ripe banana, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Make the spiced coffee ice cubes:
Combine the espresso, sugar, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon sticks and ginger in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves.
Cool to room temperature, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Strain the coffee mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl and discard the solids. Divide the mixture among 2 ice cube trays and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.

Make the lassi:
Add 3/4 cup orange juice, the yogurt, banana and cocoa powder to a blender and puree until smooth (if you’d like the lassi to be a bit thinner, blend in the remaining 1/4 cup orange juice).
Add a few spiced ice cubes to the blender and puree. Pour the lassi into glasses and add 2 more spiced ice cubes to each glass.
Serve immediately.

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Roasted figs with pomegranate molasses and orange zest

This is a heady dessert from Ottolenghi. I have not adapted it as there is nothing I could add to enhance these exciting flavors!  I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to choose good, sweet, squidgy figs, no matter what you do with them. It makes all the difference.

 

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Serves 4

3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
4 thyme sprigs, 2 whole and 2 picked leaves
Skin of 1 orange, 3 long shaved strips and the rest grated
8 fresh figs, cut in half lengthways
4 oz mascarpone
4 oz  Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp icing sugar
Salt

Put together in a large mixing bowl the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 tablespoon of water, the orange skin strips and a pinch of salt. Mix well to dissolve the sugar and then stir in the figs. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a small bowl the mascarpone, yoghurt and icing sugar until smooth. Keep chilled.

Remove the figs from the bowl (keeping the marinade) and arrange them snugly inside a small baking tray, roughly 8″ by 8″, the cut side facing up. Sprinkle the figs with the remaining sugar and put under a hot grill, clearing about 15cm from the grill. Grill for 10 minutes, or until the sugar has caramelised and the figs softened.

Meanwhile, pour the marinating liquids into a small saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 2-4 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by half and has a consistency of runny honey.
Transfer the hot figs to serving plates and spoon over any leftover syrup from the baking tray, then drizzle over the sauce reduction and sprinkle with picked thyme leaves. Place a spoonful of the yoghurt cream on the side or on the figs and sprinkle over the remaining orange zest.

Serve at once.

No-bake chocolate, fig and date slice

I adore slices, or as they say in New Zealand and England, “traybakes” There are so many easy recipes for them, and many of them like this one, are no-cook recipes. This is another one that reminds me of Christmas, and is especially nice as it is chocolatey as well as fruity.
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1lb dried figs
3/4 lb (12 oz) good plump, moist Medjool dates, preferably pitted
4 oz pitted prunes (or in the US they call them dried plums)
1 orange, grated zest and juiced
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 tbsp liquid honey
8 oz good quality dark chocolate, 72% or over
4 oz roasted hazelnuts, skins removed and halved (or buy them already toasted)
Cocoa powder for dusting at the end

Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment, making sure there is an overlap so it’s easy to remove the slice.
Thinly slice the figs. Pit the dates and slice the flesh, then slice the pitted prunes.
Place these in a large bowl with the orange zest, juice, Grand Marnier and honey.
Cover and leave to stand in a cool place for at least one hour.

Place the chocolate pieces in a small bowl over simmering water or in the top of a double boiler, ensuring the bottom of the bowl the chocolate is in does not touch the simmering water below.
Allow the chocolate to melt, Take it off the heat when almost melted (there will be a few lumps still in it) then gently stir until it’s completely smooth.

Stir the hazelnuts and melted chocolate into the fruit mixture and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the lines tin and spread, leaving the mixture at about 1 inch thickness. (You may not fill the tin)
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to firm up.

To serve, cut into about 40 small squares and dust with cocoa.
This slice will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week – if you are lucky!

White chocolate-cardamon panna cotta

The scent of cardamon gives this gorgeous panna cotta an exotic flavor.

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Serves 6

6 green cardamom pods
1½ cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved
2 tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
12 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
Zest of 1 orange
⅓ cup orange marmalade
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1 orange, peeled of pith and segmented

Place the cardamom pods in an 8″ skillet over high heat, and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until charred and blistered in spots, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and using a wooden spoon, crush to expose seeds; then transfer to a 2-qt. saucepan along with cream, ¾ cup milk, ¼ tsp. salt, and vanilla bean with seeds; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat, and let steep for 10 minutes. Combine the remaining milk and gelatin in a small bowl; let sit to soften gelatin, about 5 minutes.

Place the white chocolate in a bowl, and pour the steeped cream mixture and gelatin mixture over the chocolate; let sit for 1 minute. Using a small rubber spatula, slowly stir the chocolate from the center until the gelatin dissolves, and the mixture emulsifies and is smooth.Pour through a fine strainer into a large glass measuring cup; discard the solids. Divide the mixture among six 6–8-oz. shallow ramekins or custard molds, and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a 2-qt. saucepan; add the juice, liqueur, and zest. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring often, until thick, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the marmalade and butter until smooth; let cool to room temperature. Add the orange segments, and stir gently to combine with the sauce; set aside.

To serve, run a paring knife around the edge of each ramekin, invert the panna cotta onto a small plate, and spoon the orange sauce on the side.

Easy orange, rosemary and polenta cake

I love making cakes when you don’t have to “cream the butter and sugar” As soon as I see a recipe that asks for that, I’m out of there. This one is so easy and uses the whole orange, which gives it a very intense flavor that the fresh rosemary positively flirts with! And a great added bonus is that it is also gluten free.

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Serves 8

Butter, for greasing
2 large oranges
6 extra large free-range eggs
6 oz polenta
6 oz ground almonds
9 oz golden caster sugar
1 heaped tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp demerara sugar

For the orange drizzle
4 oz caster sugar
3 tbsp orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Triple Sec
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Grated or shredded zest of 1 orange

Grease and base-line a 9 inch springform cake tin. Put the whole oranges in a large pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour, until soft. Remove, cool, then halve and remove the pips.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Whizz the orange halves (with the skin) to a purée in a food processor. Beat in the eggs, polenta, almonds, sugar and rosemary.
Pour into the tin and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Bake for 1 hour, until the cake is risen and golden.
For the drizzle, dissolve the sugar in 100ml hot water in a pan. Boil for 5 minutes but don’t let it color. Remove from the heat and cool briefly. Add the liqueur, rosemary and zest.
Cool the cake in the tin, then turn out and drizzle with the syrup.

Soy braised chicken thighs with star anise and orange peel

I love braising, especially now the colder weather is here.
I also love this time of year when we start putting the fire on in the kitchen and making lots of comforting, rich braises and soups. This combination is divine with the pungent Asian flavors. All you need is plain boiled rice.

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Serves 4

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar, plus more if needed
2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp chicken stock
8 bone-in chicken thighs
3 tbsp peanut oil, divided use
3 scallions
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 dried small red chile
3 short strips orange zest removed with a vegetable peeler
1 whole star anise
2 tsp cornstarch

Heat the oven to 325 F
In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, brown sugar and 1/4 cup stock or water. Stir to mix and set aside.
Season the chicken pieces well with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large ovenproof skillet or other heavy-lidded braising pot over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add half of the chicken pieces, skin side down, and sear without disturbing, until the skin is crisp and bronzed, about 7 minutes. Turn the pieces carefully to avoid tearing the skin and brown the other side, about 7 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a large plate to catch the juices. Cook the remaining chicken the same way.

While the chicken is browning, coarsely chop the scallions separating the white and green parts. Set them aside.
Discard all the fat from the pan and return the pan to medium heat. Add the remaining tbsp of oil, then add the white part of the scallions, garlic, ginger and chile. Stir and cook just until you can smell the garlic and ginger, about 30 seconds. Pour in the reserved soy mixture and stir to combine. Add the orange zest and star anise.

Set the chicken thighs in the pan and add any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Cover the pan with parchment paper, pressing down so the paper nearly touches the chicken and the edges extend about an inch over the sides of the pan. Cover with a secure lid and place the pan in the lower part of the oven.
After 15 minutes, turn the chicken pieces with tongs and check to be sure there’s at least 1/4 inch of liquid in the pan. If not, add a few tablespoons of stock. Replace the parchment and lid and return the pan to the oven until the chicken is fork tender and pulling away from the bone, about 20 more minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a serving platter without crowding the pieces and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Remove the star anise and orange peel from the pan. Set the pan over medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Skin off any surface fat.Add the scallion greens.

Put the cornstarch in a small bowl. Add the remaining tbsp of stock and whisk briefly to combine and smooth out any lumps. Pour the mixture into the simmering liquid, stirring to incorporate it evenly.
The liquid will immediately thicken to a glossy sauce the consistency of maple syrup. Pour any juices the chicken has released into the sauce and simmer for another minute.
taste for soy sauce and vinegar. The sauce should be salty,but not too much. If it’s too salty another splash of vinegar will balance this out
Spoon the sauce over the chicken and stir

Pan seared broccoli with toasted pinenuts and Asian orange sauce

This is a super vegetable dish and works really well served with fish or chicken or even just steamed rice. It’s very light, with the nuttiness of the toasted pine nuts and the clean, tangy flavors of the Asian orange sauce.

 

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Serves 2 to 4 as a side dish

1/2 cup pine nuts
1 large broccoli head,about 1lb
3 whole green onions
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp flavorless cooking oil

For the orange sauce
1/2 tsp grated orange rind
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp Asian chile sauce

Preheat the oven to 325F to toast the pine nuts.
Cut the stems then trim off the tough ends and peel the stems with a vegetable peeler. Cut the stems on a sharp diagonal into 1/8 inch thick slices. Separate the broccoli florets, you should have about 4 cups broccoli.
Discard the root ends of the green onions and cut on the diagonal into 1 inch lengths.
Combine the broccoli and green onions and refrigerate.
Toast the pine nuts for about 8 minutes until golden brown, then remove and set aside in a bowl.
In a small bowl, combine all the orange sauce ingredients.
Place a 12 inch saute pan or a wok over a high heat. When it’s hot,add the cooking oil and when it starts to smoke, add the vegetables and garlic, stirring for about 30 seconds, then add the orange sauce.
Immediately cover the wok/saute pan and let it steam for about 20 seconds, then remove the cover and stir fry for a few seconds. (If the broccoli has not turned a bright green, replace the lid and steam for another 20 seconds)
As soon as the broccoli turns bright green, stir in the nuts and immediately transfer to a serving platter, serving at once.