Yammie’s Noshery and baking Auntie Anne’s pretzels

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The first food blog I started to follow was Yammie’s Noshery and that was after finding her recipe to make Auntie Anne’s pretzels about two years ago. I made them, we ate them. They were wonderful, tasting of New York, triggering many good memories. And I started to follow Yammie’s blog. She impresses me by her mature outlook to life. She is only 20 now.

We had an afternoon at mum’s yesterday, a relaxed afternoon of baking and eating. It nearly felt like turning back the clock, cementing the calendar watching my children happy in the garden, dogs and all the menagerie …. time … if only we can stop it, if only we have more of it, such a precious commodity …..

And time gave us a break yesterday and the afternoon stood still as I baked Auntie Anne’s pretzels. I made a few minor changes to Yammie’s recipe and if you are going to make pretzels, look at Yammie’s step-by-step photos. She is a more skilled photographer than I am, but here are mine at the pre-oven stage.

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For 12 Pretzels you will need :

1 1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast, equivalent to 2 sachets
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons carob syrup (but if not available use brown sugar only)
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt

And you need to dip the pretzels in this solution before baking:
1/3 cup baking soda
3 cups warm water
Sea salt
6 tablespoons melted butter

Warm up milk and it should reach 100F (37C). If you bake and cook often, it is worthwhile investing in a food thermometer. Stir in the yeast and let it rest for 5 minutes. Do not over heat the milk as it will kill the yeast, Add the butter and sugar. Add the flour, a cup at a time and finally the salt. Knead for 10 minutes. I do it by hand but you can also use an electric mixer. it in a lightly greased bowl in a warm place, covered up with a kitchen towel for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
cut into 12 equal pieces and roll each one into a long sausage shape, as thin as possible.

Combine the warm water and baking soda in a bowl and dip each pretzel into the solution, Placed in a tray covered with baking paper. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for about 10 minutes at 220C until they brown.

While they are still hot brush them with melted butter!

And on an island in the heart of the Mediterranean, we spent an afternoon basking in the winter sunshine beneath the blueness of the clear skies eating Yammie's pretzels straight out of the oven while they were still hot….

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A quick weekday meal…. Thai Som Tum Salad with roasted peanuts

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Mid-week rush and always too much to do. I make this salad very often and I always pick the ingredients for it when I visit Mr Wang’s to stock up my store cupboard. If the ‘not yet ripe’ green papaya is unavailable you can replace it with swede but I am able to use the real thing.

This salad is light with a blend of real thai flavors, the sweet, the salty with the added sourness from the lime however I am using a green local lemon today as our citrus trees are still heavy with fruit and if you have to buy them, a fraction of the price of limes with the same result. This is a perfect lunch produced in 10 minutes and I could easily have it every day. Most important is the freshness of ingredients.

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For two portions, you will need :

Juice of 1/2 lime
2 spoons fish sauce
5 spoons Soy Sauce
1 Garlic clove
2 cups Green papaya, shredded
1 cup green beans, shredded
1/2 cup shredded carrot
6 Cherry tomatoes
Chilies, 2 or less if you do not like it so hot
Cilantro, handful
1 teaspoon carob syrup or you can use Palm Sugar or 1 teaspoon normal sugar
2 tablespoons pan roasted peanuts

Dry roast a handful of peanuts in a very hot pan stirring for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and put into another container as they will keep browning in the hot pan.
Peel the papaya, shred it into thin strips.
Trim the green beans and carrots and cut into thin strips.
Bash the chilies and peeled garlic with a mortar and pestle until they become a textured paste. Do not purée. Add the carob syrup or sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce.
In a large bowl mix all the vegetables and toss with some turn up cilantro leaves.
Serve in a large bowl, pour the dressing, toss again, garnish with a few more cilantro leaves and the peanuts which you can crush if you prefer. We like ours whole and crunchy …

And I leave you with a local flavor and a photo I took of a poem I found under an old carob tree during my walk in the open countryside …. I find carob syrup compliments Asian flavors when a sweetener is required…

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How my pops started off… Renato’s Carnival Cake

I got a few emails and blog messages last night requesting Renato’s recipe which I meant to add today but instead I am flagging a new post as you may miss it if I add it at the bottom…
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The photo above is how my pops started off yesterday. A small carnival cake using Renato’s recipe. It is festive and cheerful, with quasi Christmas colors on snow white meringue. You will find them in every cafe right now, shelves of them in all the food stores, bright, sugary and just looking at them gives me an instant lift, not dissimilar to the buzz from the sugar rush I would get from an actual mere bite…..

And I cannot tell you my usual that this recipe is easy. It does not need any special technique but it is time consuming. This is Renato’s recipe handed down to him by his father and the photo below is his very own creation of a few days ago, a carnival fantasy… a mountain of sweetness embedded with gaudy jewels and splattered all over with dark chocolate. As you can see from my cake above and his below, you can shape it as you wish… It is an over-the-top dessert, too sweet, too rich, too messy, too colorful … And I have seen nothing more perfect to represent carnival…

You will need :

625g flour
200g butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
a few drops of a good vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
250g sugar
150g water

Rub in the butter into the flour and add the baking powder, vanilla and lemon zeat.
Mix the sugar with the water until it dissolves.
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well until it forms a dough.
Form the pastry into a long sausage shape and bake in the oven at 190C for 15 to 20 minutes. Watch it, do not let it burn.
Leave to cool and using a sharp knife slice them into biscotti shapes.

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For the butter cream you will need:

900 g Butter
1200g icing sugar
6 drops vanilla

Beat together in a electric mixer until it becomes a smooth butter icing

You will also need:

200g chopped dar chocolate
150g candied peel
100g Roasted almonds chopped up

Mix the pastry biscotti with the butter cream and all the rest of the ingredients,
When all the ingredients are combined form the cake in the shape that you prefer. I did mine into a Chrismas pudding shape and Renato builds a mountain,

Now you will need to prepare an Italian meringue with :
850g sugar
285 g egg white

Place the sugar in a sauce pan and just add enough water until all the sugar can soak,
Mix with a wooden spoon.
As soon as it comes to boil add e egg whites and whisk with an e,extricating beater until it reaches the hard ball stage. I do this by using a sugar thermometer which is clearly marked ‘hard ball stage’ so it’s very easy this way. Add the egg whites and mix at low speed for 3 minutes.

Cover the cake generously with the meringue and it will set and slightly

You will also need 200g dark melted chocolate and 100g glacé cherries, halved and 100g pinenuts.

Decorate the Carnival cake by drizzling melted dark chocolate all over and pressing the halved cherries all around … Sprinkle pine nuts all over…

AND WITH MY LEFT OVERS I MADE Carnival Pops !

Saturday’s Independent and a link to my Carnival Afghans, less complicated and still very colorful !

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Bring on the Carnival with Priniolata Pops

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Carnival is a big event on the island with a long weekend of celebration starting Thursday and ending Tuesday.

Last week when we were at the cafe in the City , I pointed out a display of the traditional carnival pine nut cakes (Prinjolata pronounced Priniolata), although pine nuts are only used to decorate.

The cake is rich and sweet, so sweet that you can probably only eat small portions. I somehow always feel that the cake never looks attractive once it is cut up and you have left overs to store.

So today I have made bite size versions, carnival cake pops covered in white chocolate and I used green and red glacé cherries, pine nuts and drizzles of dark chocolate to decorate, keeping aesthetics traditional. I used Renato’s original recipe to make the cake but after we had a couple of slices i made these pops and I am including a photo recipe of how I made them.

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Break down the whole Priniolata cake in a mixture and roll I to small equal size balls.

You will need a bar of white melting chocolate.

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Place the white chocolate in a bowl in the microwave and heat up for 30 seconds, take out stir, if not melted yet, put in for another 30 seconds and repeat until the chocolate has melted. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and stir. This gives it a glossy finish and makes it more workable.

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Dip each ball into the white chocolate and place neatly on a tray covered with a baking sheet.

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Place in the fridge for half an hour.

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Place the dark melt able chocolate in a bowl and into the microwave, again 30 seconds each time as for the white chocolate above.

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I used a small sieve to pour in the melted dark chocolate and drizzle over the pops moving your hand back and forward to have a uniform pattern.

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Cut up the cherries and I used pine notes which I lightly pan roasted for a better flavor. Some people use pistachios.

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Dip a piece of red cherry, green cherry and pine nut into melted chocolate and arrange neatly on top of each pop.

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Trim the bottom gently of each pop with a sharp knife to give it a neat finish.

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A simple lunch …. Jane’s Cauliflower and Potato Casserole

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A simple lunch today making use of the inexpensive cauliflowers available in the market and I am using Jane’s recipe. She prepared it for supper the day I visited Owen and it was healthy, light and delicious, full of Mediterranean flavor with fresh mint, olives and large juicy tomatoes.

You will need :

1 onion
4 cloves garlic
3 medium large potatoes
1 large cauliflower, cleaned out and cut into florets
1 large tomato cut into 2, allow half per portion
Olives, allow 4 per person
A fist of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 spoon Tomato Paste
Tuna Fish, 1 large can per portion
Olive Oil
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a saucepan, sweat the onion and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil.
Add the potato halves and cauliflower florets, add some water, just enough to cover the potatoes.
Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer,
Add the chopped mint, keeping some aside for garnish.
Test that the potatoes are cooked and then add the tuna fish, olives and tomatoes. Season.
As soon as it start to boil turn off the heat and leave covered to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Drizzle with some olive oil before serving,

This recipe is Gluten Free and Egg Free.

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And here is Jane with her husband Mario. A heavenly view just across a narrow road from their front door. This is what Jane’s sees from her kitchen window while she cooks …

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Black History Month in today’s paper and beans and rice for supper …

I featured Black History Month in the newspaper today as it is being commemorated by the US Embassy with a varied program including some exhibitions and a concert by gospel singer Joyce Yuille who is making a special visit to the island.
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I was so pleased to receive a detailed history about the origins of African American food from Jueseppi Baker and it brought back good memories of the wonderful teatime treats I was offered during my visit to the residence of the US Ambassador HE Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley just before Thanksgiving.

I am very familiar with eating African American cuisine especially while I was living in South London but I have not seriously attempted to cook it so far. This is going to change though and I am scheduled to make Mrs Flo’s Sweet Potato Pie and other delicious specialities from HE the US Ambassador’s childhood that I featured in the newspaper for Thanksgiving in November.

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Today I am sharing with you my recipe for Beans and Rice which we had for supper yesterday. And how delicious it was! This is true Soul Food, warms your heart and leaves you purring with contentment …. The leftovers were delicious as a cold salad at lunchtime today. The addition of local bacon gave it an incredible flavor. I still believe that the island has the best pork ever….

You will need :

500 g Rice, I used Uncle Ben’s
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Red Kidney Beans, drained and washed
A handful of parsley, half finely chopped and have torn into small pieces to garnish the dish
A drizzle of olive oil
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
8 rashers bacon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

Sauté the onion and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil. Add the bacon. add the rice and stir. Add water according to the instructions on the packet. Add the bay leaves and let the rice cook. Add the rest of the herbs and spices before the rice is fully cooked and stir. When the rice is cooked, stir in the kidney beans and finely chopped parsley. Spoon onto a serving dish and garnish with the rest of the parsley….

And Black History Month is featured in today’s newspaper on the island…

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Before Seville season comes to an end, a curd of bitter orange ….

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So much citrus still in mum’s garden and before the season comes to an end I want to make use of this abundance and try out some new things rather than just another pot of jam or marmalade.

And this Seville curd is unbelievable, the texture, consistency, the flavor of the bitter orange balances the sweetness in the curd and I left bits of grated rind in it which make it more vibrant. Dedicate half an hour to standing at the stove and stirring gently and continuously until the curd is thick enough to coat the spoon. Other than this, it is the easiest of recipes as you just throw in all the ingredients together in one pot. The day after it was made, the curd sets with the consistency of the smoothest spread ! Really yumm..

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For 500g yield, (about 1 lb) you will need :

2 Seville Oranges, zest and juice, if they are small use 3
1 Lemon, zest and juice
225 g sugar (8 oz)
110 g pure butter (4 oz)
4 egg yolks, beaten

This is a very easy recipe, you just need to put all the ingredients in a glass bowl and stand it on top of a saucepan with simmering water (Bain Marie).

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Heat gently, stirring for about 30 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This is the trick for perfection, do not leave it unattended, even for a few seconds.

Pour into sterilized jars while still warm and store in a cool place. Use within a month. I have stored mine in the fridge…

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And we had our curd with plain fairy cakes using Delia’s lightest sponge recipe

Gluten Free Date Bars with Buckwheat

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Like most of my recipes, this is an easy straightforward one …

I loved these Gluten Free Date Bars with Buckwheat when I made them at Le Meridien last week and I am making them again today at home.

They are very moist and soft yet the cake does not crumble when you cut it provided you let it cool completely. I topped the bars with melted chocolate but you can leave it out if you are watching your calories. They are gluten free and you can find buckwheat flour at any of the large stores. It gives the cooked batter a very pleasing smooth texture. I reduced the sugar in the original recipe by half and sweetened it with carob honey from this winter’s harvest …

You will need :

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1 packet dates, chopped
12 dried prunes, chopped
3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 tbl walnuts finely chopped
Zest of an orange or tangerine

For the topping (optional) you will need:

1 large packet dark chocolate buttons and I also did half the quantity dipped in white chocolate
1 spoon vegetable oil

Blend the first 9 ingredients with an electric mixer. When you see that the dates have broken down and the mixture is even add the last three ingredients and pulse until it mixes together. Don’t over-mix as you want bits of fruit in the mix to give it a more interesting texture.

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Pour the batter into a tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven at 170 C for 35 minutes. Leave to cool completely.

For the topping. Melt the buttons in a bow in the microwave on 30 seconds at a time, take the bowl out each time and stir it, When it has melted, add oil and stir until it is smooth and glossy.

Cut up the cake into small neat rectangles and dip each one into the melted chocolate.

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I made half the quantity dipped in white chocolate …

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And Saturday’s Independent

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Vegetarian Farfalle with arugula from mum’s garden… A quick weekday meal !

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Back to the weekday routine and a quick easy meal for today. This pasta is so simple yet delicious and I use a mix of cooked and uncooked ingredients. I like using farfalle with this dish as they do not become soggy and this pasta is also wonderful as a salad if you have left overs.

Zucchini are in season on the island and very cheap in the market and I used arugula that mum grows. The local variety has a stronger taste and aroma than what you are probably used to. The leaves are larger and tougher but I chop it and stir it into the pasta at the very end and it has a ‘bite’ both in texture and flavor !

With 10 minutes start to finish prep time and ready to eat, you will need

Farfalle 1 pkt of 1 lb or 454g, I use Barilla
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
8 zucchini, chopped into medium chunks
4 large tomatoes, chopped with skin ok
4 cups arugula, chopped roughly
150g goats cheese, chopped up, I use the local fresh goats cheeselets
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

Prepare the pasta by following the instructions on the pack. Do not overcook.
Wile the pasta is cooking, sauté the garlic on low heat otherwise it will burn for a minute or two. Add the chopped zucchini and keep stirring. I like them cooked on the outside but still crisp inside.

Drain the pasta and place in a large container. Stir in the zucchini and garlic mix. Add the tomatoes, arugula and goats cheese and stir through gently ,asking sure you do not break the cheese up. Season with some sea salt, a drizzle of virgin olive oil and lots of freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately but leftovers are wonderful as a pasta salad.

And mum’s arugula, crisp and tangy, straight from the garden into the pan, there is a new flavor called freshness !

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A sunny morning in the City and Carnival Afghans (Egg Free)

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Another clear and sunny morning in the middle of February which I spend in the City with a great friend. And what you are seeing in the photo is my bake of today and the egg-shaped sweets are sugared almonds or Perlini and not a premature Easter recipe. We are approaching carnival week on the island in a few days.

As we sit at my favorite cafe in the sun ordering a second espresso, I ask Nigel our friendly waiter to watch out for another table so that we could follow the sun. Within a few minutes we are approached by two gentleman who overhear me and recognize my friend. They insist on giving up their table for her so that we can make the most of the sunshine … this is how popular she is on the island… a popular and well-loved journalist. So we sit in the warmth for the rest of the morning as we watch the world go by. The sun is such a good tonic…

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In the cafe is a display of more carnival sweets, just beautiful with reflections of grand chandeliers in the cabinet glass …..

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And back home is my baking day. I am making small Afghan Cookies and instead of topping them with a traditional walnut, I use sugared almonds to get us into the Carnival spirit.

Afghan cookies are soft, easy to make, melt-in-your mouth EGG-FREE chocolate cookies, a classic in New Zealand and I adapted this recipe from Edmonds Cookery Book.

For 21 small cookies,

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You will need :

170g butter
95g soft brown sugar
180g flour
3 1/2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
60g cornflakes

Cream the butter and sugar. Add all the dry ingredients and mix.
Knead into a dough. Shape into small rounds.
Place on a tray covered with baking paper.
Bake for 10 minutes in a preheated oven at 160C.
Leave to completely cool.

And for the chocolate icing you will need:
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons sifted dark cocoa powder
3 tablespoons water

Mix together, add rather water gradually and mix together until it forms a smooth paste.
Dip each cookie into the chocolate icing.
Top with two colored sugared almonds before the chocolate icing solidifies.
Leave uncovered to dry for a couple of hours.

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And on a sunny day in Palace Square near the cafe, a St John’s Ambulance ceremony

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