Friday, March 29, 2013

Poppy Seed Rolls

During the Easter holidays I always make desserts with poppy seeds. I couldn't imagine my Easter table without poppy seed rolls, filled buns, swirl breads, cakes and so on. These rolls are soft and pillowy and there's a sweet poppy seed filling in every bite thanks to the heart shape. I have made similar rolls before, only with ground poppy seeds which I didn't have to cook with milk. Even though I was quite sceptical about this method, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. The filling was moist and poppy seeds were soft, but I wonder if the filling worked with ground poppy seeds. That would be faster. So I think I'm gonna try it soon. However, these are not very difficult to make and all the work is definitely worth the effort. Do make these and enjoy warm, soft rolls during the holidays. Happy Easter!

Recipe found here.

300ml/1 1/4 cups milk
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/3 - 1/2 cup sugar
28g/1/4 cup butter, room temperature
440-500g/3 1/2 - 4 cups flour
1 egg yolk (for brushing the tops)

Poppy Seed filling
1 cup poppy seeds
1 qt. milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the dough:

1) Heat milk until lukewarm and add yeast. Mix. Leave to rise, about 15 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, in a bowl of an electric mixer combine egg, salt and sugar. Sift the flour in and add the risen milk mixture. With a hook attachment on low speed combine flour and milk mixture, then increase the speed and continue kneading the dough until it completely stops sticking to the bowl, looks very smooth and gluey, about 15 minutes (I kneaded the dough with my hands so it took more time for me. I also added some more flour because my dough was a little bit too sticky).

3) Add room temperature butter and kneed the dough some more, until butter is fully incorporated into the dough and no traces of it are left on the bowl, about 5 minutes.

4) Shape the dough into a ball. Place into a well greased bowl and oil the outside of the dough. Cover the bowl with clean kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm place (I preheated my oven to 40 degrees and left the dough inside). Allow the dough to double in size, about 1.5 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

1) Place the poppy seeds into a medium size pot, pour in the milk and bring to a boil, watching the milk so that it does not run over. Once at a boil, lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 30 minutes. You can let it sit covered off the heat, for another 30 minutes.

2) Drain through a fine mesh sieve. Put the poppy seeds through grinder twice. Then mix with sugar and vanilla extract.


1) Punch down the dough. Shape a round ball and then a log. With a rolling pin, roll out the log to about 76cm (30 inches) long and 30cm (12 inches) wide. 

2) Spread the filling all over the dough, leaving about 5cm (2 inches) at the other end. Roll roulade. With a sharp knife, cut the roulade about every 4-5cm (1.5-2 inches).

3) Cut in the middle of each piece, leaving the two pieces attached by about 1cm (1/2 inch) of dough. Take the two ends, separate them and lay them inside part out facing up, side by side, making it look like a heart.

4) Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Continue with the rest of the dough, placing each piece about 7cm (3 inches) apart. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm place, allowing the pastries double in size, about 40 minutes. 

5) Preheat the oven on to 180C. 

6) Whisk the egg yolk and using a pastry brush, brush pastries with egg yolk mixture right before placing them in the oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. (Do check the rolls earlier - mine were done after 10 minutes.)

Best eaten still warm!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Blueberry Crumb Bars

My 100th post!!! Finally! I can't believe I've already posted so many recipes and I'm so happy that this collection is growing. So these blueberry crumb bars took this honorable post and I'm glad because they are really worth it. These bars are packed with blueberries and that buttery base & crumb topping takes them to the top. I'm sure these should find place on your Easter table! I have already tested some more recipes for Easter and I can't wait to post them. For now, bake a batch of these bars and indulge in this blueberry goodness.

Blueberry Crumb Bars 

Crust & Crumbs
1 cup/125g flour
1/4 cup/56g sugar
1/4 tsp salt
115g cold butter 

250g/1 1/2 cup blueberries
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
30g/3 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
60g/1/4 cup sour cream
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla

1) Grease 20x20cm baking dish and set aside.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2) In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt together. Add cubed butter and mix until crumbly.

3) Take 1/2 cup of mixture & set aside. Take remaining mixture and firmly press into the bottom of your baking dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly brown on top.

3) While the crust is baking, whisk the egg. Add sugar, sour cream, vanilla, flour and salt. Mix until well combined. Gently fold in the blueberries. 

4) Pour the filling onto the crust. Take the remaining crumbs and sprinkle evenly over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Cool before slicing and serve.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chewy No-Bake Oatmeal Bars

Recently I've been so obsessed with all things oatmeal. Okay, not even recently. It's been a long time since I do not want all that unhealthy store-bought stuff anymore. That's just because  I can make myself much more delicious treats at home which are healthy. That means I can eat tons of them without feeling guilty.

So this time I made no-bake sweet bars with quick oats and coconut oil. I'm so happy that I discovered coconut oil, really. It's just perfect for making raw fudge and bars like these. I chose quick oats because I wanted my texture to be more fudge-like and chewy. And of course, I never forget to add some dried cranberries to my oatmeal or granola bars. Although there are so many possible variations which I'd love to try!

Chewy No-Bake Oatmeal Bars

2 cups quick oats
2 tbsp ground almonds
4 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
100g dried cranberries, chopped
50ml coconut oil
6 tbsp honey

1) Grind 1 cup of oats and mix with almonds, coconut and remaining oats. Mix in dried cranberries.

2) In a small saucepan over low heat, melt honey and coconut oil. Pour into the oat mixture and mix well.

3) Press into a 10x20cm loaf pan and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Cut into squares. Enjoy!!

Recipe by collecting memories

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Oven Fries

Potatoes has always been one of my favourite meals, no matter how I prepare them. Honestly, I usually like them simply fried in a skillet and simply seasoned with my favourite herbs. But when I realize how much oil I need to use if I want them tender, crispy and not burned... Luckily, I discovered a new favourite way to prepare potatoes. Bake them in the oven! It needs only 1 teaspoon of oil and the result is soft on the inside potatoes with amazingly crispy edges. I enjoy them as a snack, they're great as a side dish, but if you serve them with one of the dips (links below), they're out of this world. Well, simplicity sometimes wins!

Oven Fries

4 medium potatoes, peeled
1 heaping tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp chilli paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp oil

1) Preheat oven to 200 deg. C.

2) Peel the potatoes and cut into even sticks. Place them in a bowl and add in the oil. Toss to coat.

3) In a  small bowl, combine together the spices. Sprinkle over the fries and toss again to make sure that all the sides are coated.

4) Place on a parchment paper and bake for 20-30 minutes. Turn them over halfway through baking time. (I forgot to do that). The baking time depends on the size of your fries so do check by taking one piece and tasting if it's fully baked.

Serve with tomato sauce, garlic dill dip, french onion dip or just eat them plain straight from the oven.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Yellow Butter Cupcakes

Imagine a soft, moist and buttery cupcake with a fluffy chocolate frosting on top. Yes. These cupcakes are exactly like that. I like the fact that these have a strong butter flavour so it's important that you use a really good quality butter. And don't use low fat ingredients here. Speaking about the frosting, it seems like there's nothing special about it. And really, it's super simple. No heavy cream or chocolate is needed here. That means, you probably already have all the ingredients at home. Despite the simple ingredients, it's surprisingly good! But there's one important condition! Do beat the frosting with a mixer as long as you can. That's how it becomes so fluffy and bubbly. Believe me, it's worth the effort.

Recipe found here.

For the cupcakes:
125g/1 cup all-purpose flour
62g/½ cup cake flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
56g/¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
60g/¼ cup sour cream, room temperature
2 tbsp oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
80ml/1/3 cup  milk, room temperature

1) Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line 15 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, sift together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar and mix until evenly blended.

3) Add softened butter and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-low and continue to beat until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs, about 2 minutes.

4) In another bowl, whisk together egg, yolk, sour cream, oil and vanilla. Add it to the flour mixture and beat on low speed until moistened, about 20 seconds.

5) Gradually add milk and then beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Do not over-mix.

6) Spoon the batter into lined muffin cups, filling them no more than halfway full. Bake until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:  

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
56g/1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp milk, depending on the consistency you want
1 1/4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1) Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. 

2) Add a small amount of milk to reach desired spreading consistency. Add cocoa powder and beat well. (The more you beat the more fluffy frosting you get) 

3) Spread over the cooled cupcakes.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mozzarella Sticks with French Onion Dip

I don't know how many times I found myself staring at mozzarella stick pictures on the internet. They look so good with all that melty cheese and crispy bread crumbs around it. I can't tell you how happy I am that I finally made them myself! For some reason, it often takes so much time for me when I decide to make something yummy that I've been craving for a long time.

Enough about these mozzarella sticks. You probably already know that they are amazing.

But this French onion dip...

This is MORE than amazing. Basically it seems like a simple dip. But these c a r a m e l i z e d onions change everything. It adds sweetness to a sour/salty dip. Actually I think that onions make every meal taste much better, they are my favourite ingredient. Especially when they are caramelized.

I hope you're already checking if you have all the ingredients and are preparing to make this right now. If you're too lazy to make mozzarella sticks, do make this dip because it's so good with everything. Really, so good.

Mozzarella Sticks

12 sticks of mozzarella string cheese
1/2 cup flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 - 2 cups bread crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika flakes
1 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano*
oil for frying

*You may use/omit any seasoning you like. For example, I also like it with dried basil.
**The amount of the ingredients may vary here: it depends how much you flour the sticks or how much bread crumbs stick to your cheese so be ready to add some more ingredients if needed.

1) Place flour in a small dish. In another bowl, combine together eggs and milk. In a third bowl, combine bread crumbs with garlic powder, sweet smoked paprika flakes, pepper and oregano. Cut mozzarella sticks into halves.

2) Roll a half of mozzarella in flour, dip into egg-milk mixture, and roll in bread crumb mixture. Press crumbs in place so mozzarella stick is fully coated. Continue with remaining pieces. Place coated mozzarella sticks on a baking sheet and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

3) Heat oil in a heavy saucepan. Remove frozen mozzarella sticks and fry a few pieces at a time. Fry about 30 seconds - 1 minute (depending on the heat), turning sticks until they are golden brown, and drain on paper towels. Continue with remaining sticks. Serve with french onion dip. Avocado-garlic dip and garlic-dill dip is also fine!! Eat these while hot!

French Onion Dip
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
200g sour cream
2 tbsp mayonnaise
large pinch salt
large pinch white pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cumin

1) Place onions and oil into a small saucepan and cook until onions are dark brown color, stiring occasionaly.

2) Drain any liquid off the onions and let cool completely. Combine onions with remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add salt to taste.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Spinach, Ricotta and Pesto stuffed Jumbo Shells

Pasta. Mozzarella. Ricotta. Spinach. Garlic. Pesto.

Sounds good.

But when these ingredients come together, it doesn't only sound good, it tastes amazing.

These jumbo shells were out of this world. I mean it. When I tasted them, I was almost crying. I couldn't believe how well they turned out! The filling was so creamy and so, so good. It rarely happens when I don't know what could be improved in a dish. And this time it happened! Really, they were perfect. And I ate 8 shells at once. I felt a bit guilty because one serving is 4 shells. As always.

Spinach, Ricotta and Pesto stuffed Jumbo Shells

200g jumbo pasta shells
250g ricotta
100g spinach, chopped
200g mozzarella, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp pesto sauce
1/3 tsp salt
pinch white pepper
2 cups pasta sauce*

*I used half homemade half Heinz.

1)  Preheat oven to 180 deg. C.

2) Boil pasta shells to al dente. Pour on cold water and coat with a dash of olive oil so they don't stick together.

3) In a medium bowl, combine together ricotta, spinach, 150g mozzarella, egg, garlic, dried oregano, pesto, salt and white pepper. Set aside.

4) Coat the bottom of your baking dish with 1 cup of pasta sauce.

5) Fill pasta shells with the filling and place them into the baking dish. Top with remaining pasta sauce and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

6) Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes.

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