november: anna’s spiced raw granola bars

We hosted Thanksgiving lunch for 16 people last week. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment that is fairly big by NYC standards… but it’s still a NYC apartment! Our dining table only fits 8 people, so we had to rearrange the furniture and bring out the desk from our study / second bedroom and form a long table down the middle of our living room! Somehow, the two tables were almost exactly the same height and width!
We tried a new method of cooking the turkey – brined, sous vide and then deep fried (courtesy of a Michael Voltaggio recipe – any Top Chef fans out there?). It worked out perfectly! The breast was juicy and flavorful and wasn’t dry at all. The turkey drumsticks were also bit hit, not only because they were tasty, but also because they were huge and looked cool! This cooking technique also allowed us to free up the oven for cooking other dishes. We also had a whole leg of bone-in ham and sides including duck fat potatoes, brussel sprouts with bacon and truffled mac and cheese, which are now traditional because we made them last year also! We ate and drank into the night, and there were plenty of leftovers for the rest of the weekend.
After all the eating and drinking, I wanted to make something that is actually good for you. I made a batch of granola bars earlier in the month, and they were delicious, but I found them to be a bit too sweet, and although they were called “raw” bars, they were baked at a high heat. So I did some Google research and discovered that raw bars can be made by dehydrating instead of baking! The maximum cooking temperature for raw food is 105 – 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Apparently not all ovens go that low, but luckily mine does. I made further adjustments to the recipe to cut down on some of the sweetness and reduce the calories, and then dehydrated the bars in the oven. It took about 12 hours to get to the texture that I wanted (a firm chew with some crunch). These bars can be made gluten free and organic, just make sure you buy gluten free rolled oats and organic ingredients. You can really use any combination of seeds, nuts and dried fruit that you like!
I was happy with the final product. These are great for breakfast on the go and they are very filling, despite only having around 220 calories per bar! Find the recipe here.

november: lisa’s mango and cardamom kulfi

Ahhh, the wonderful world of spices. So many to choose from! My biggest problem this month was deciding which spice to use! I love the combination of ginger, clove and cinnamon. But in the end, after toying with a few ideas, I decided to go with cardamom, because this is a challenge after all, and cardamom is a spice I seldom use.

It’s a little ironic actually, because I wouldn’t really call cardamom my “favourite” spice, but what I have learnt is that if used in the right ratio, and combined with the right ingredients, it can be very refreshing, and nice palate cleanser, all of which makes for a perfect Summer dessert.

Here in Australia, we are just coming into mango season. This juicy, plump fruit is so gorgeous, and naturally sweet, it’s just made to feature in a dessert! With the holidays coming up, I’m sure we’re all getting busier and busier, so the beauty of this dessert is in it’s simplicity. I made it after work on a weeknight – believe me when I say, you will be able to complete it within 10 minutes. So if you do it before you start preparing dinner, and freeze straight away, you could be eating it 2 hours later after you’ve had your fill of dinner. Super easy and simple!

It’s also perfect for dinner parties – you can prepare it the day before (or a few days before) and come time for dessert, voila, pull it out of the freezer, coat in pistachios and you’re done!

So the next time you’re stuck for time, or wanting to try a new dessert, give this one a go. The easy peasy recipe can be found here.

november: jasmine’s gingerbread biscuits

A lot has changed since my last post on BSS. I am now a mom to an infant girl, so it was a bit of a struggle this month finding the time to research and test out my BSS recipe for the month. Luckily, I did manage to sneak some time in between A’s naps this past week :)

Now that we are fast approaching the Christmas holiday season, all I can think of are gingerbread lattes, short bread biscuits and all things Christmas! So for my contribution to the sugar and spice theme, I tried a quick and simple gingerbread biscuit recipe.

I LOVE gingerbread! When I was growing up, my mom made gingerbread cookies using the classic gingerbread man cookie shapes and my sister and I would stay up late to help my mom ‘dress up’ the cookies with icing, candies and sprinkles. The 3 of us would spend an entire afternoon and evening making our army of gingerbread people and then we would freeze a batch to have over the holidays and pack up the rest into small parcels to give as treats to our friends.

I don’t have the time to make the gingerbread recipe that we grew up having, so I needed to find a simpler version if I am going to satisfy my craving for gingerbread this holiday season. So when I came across a Donna Hay recipe for a simple gingerbread biscuit, I had to give it a try!

These biscuits are soft and gingery in flavour. I added nutmeg and cinnamon to the recipe and also used dates in the centre of each biscuit to spruce it up a bit :) This recipe does not use molasses, which is a bonus because it can be made from items from the kitchen cupboard and save me a trip to the grocery store.

While I was doing my research I also found a recipe for gingerbread sandwich biscuits with a cream cheese filling. I tried my own version of this by pairing the biscuits I baked with a side of lemon cream cheese dip. The biscuits are scrumptious on their own and the lemon cream cheese gives it that extra taste of indulgence….perfect for the holiday season :)

november: kerri’s chai-spiced melting moments

Melting moments. Simple, comforting cookies that melt in your mouth once you bite into them. Cookies that, in their original form, are delicious. But also ones that lend well to the addition of other flavours such as spices – perfect for this month’s challenge.

I decided to roll each cookie in cinnamon sugar before baking.

I love chai teas and lattes, so I took inspiration from these for the filling. Melting moments are sandwiched together with a buttercream, so I added a spice mix of cinnamon, cardamon and cloves to give it that chai flavour.

I haven’t actually made melting moments for quite a while now, and with the addition of spices, I was a little curious to see how they would turn out. Thankfully they turned out well, with the spices giving them that little bit of extra something – perfect for this festive season.

I celebrated my first ever Thanksgiving this year in Hong Kong. As it is an historical American holiday, it’s not something we ever did growing up in Australia. But I suppose it’s the influence of the expat community here in Hong Kong – all the hotels and restaurants have special Thanksgiving dinner menus, and people celebrate together, whether they are American or not. We were blessed with an amazing dinner, and my little part in it was to gift the melting moments to each guest. I found out that many people had never heard of Melting Moments, let alone eaten them before. So when ‘yum, wow, they really melt in your mouth’ was said by quite a few, I knew I’d hit a winner.

You can find the recipe here.

november: spices

An old children’s nursery rhyme accurately describes what our November dishes will be made of!

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dog tails, 
That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of? 
Sugar and spice, and everything nice, 
That’s what little girls are made of.

This month, we are creating sweet dishes featuring our favorite spices!