I love developing recipes whether I am making them from scratch or personalising an existing one; it is always a thrill! In the FFF FLab is where the magic happens!

So during my usual web wanderings, I found a recipe for pumpkin oatmeal choc chip cookies! I held my breath not daring to breathe as I skimmed the ingredient list. Sure enough I had every single item required!!!

As I raided my pantry, my eyes fell on some desiccated coconut, then I saw the canister of cayenne pepper and cloves looking dejected; so I grabbed those. Ooooh and there was this bag of mixed nuts and dried fruit! Why not?! I snatched those as well.

When I looked at my heap, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but I would find out soon!
You can find the original recipe here. Now for my kitchen sink version!

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups packed light-brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (on this occasion I used canned but for a step by step on how to. Are your own pumpkin purée, which I recommend, read my post “Easy as Pie 2″

1 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped mixed nuts and dried fruit

The “How to”

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcious. Whisk together the flour, oats, coconut, baking soda, salt, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a large mixing bowl for 30 about seconds and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy (unless you’re aiming to build your biceps, please use an electric mixer ?); pause occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then add in the egg, when it is incorporated blend in vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. With the mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Mix in chocolate chips and nut and fruit mix. Let batter rest for a few minutes; 5 – 10 minutes should do it. This will give the oats some time to absorb the liquids so that batter isn’t too sticky. Laos it helps the cookies to hold their shape as they bake.

Scoop dough out 2 Tbsp at a time and drop onto parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. Bake in preheated oven for 12 – 14 minutes.

Now this step is crucial; allow the to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Now you can munch away.

This recipe yields a chewy cookie but is oh so good. With just the slightest hint of warmth from the cayenne. It is a surprising experience. Something you wouldn’t ordinarily expect in a cookie.

Let me tell you, this cookie had everything AND the kitchen sink in it! Lol!

It was studded with choc chip, nuts and dried fruit like a bejeweled or even blinged out treat!

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If you live in North America, this recipe would be great for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holidays or afterwards when you won’t know what to do with all the pumpkin-ey left overs. You should try it!

You don’t have to live in North America to try it though ?

FFF Tip of the Day

Whenever possible, make your own purée; it is so easy! Check it out here.

I have never been keen on slaving over hot stoves, cookers, burners, hobs and ovens…….this includes hot pressing irons….which is why I am happy to pay to get my clothes ironed……but I digress….

A quick easy way to prepare meals is to use a variety of complementary spices in making the dish. Pilau rice is a fantastic example; it is big on flavour and requires minimum effort to throw together.

The spices I used in making it comprise of cloves, cardamon, pepper corns, cassia bark, cinnamon, cumin and dry coriander and ginger. Some mixes may include, chili and turmeric. It sounds like a lot but with balanced proportions these aromatic ingredients lend themselves beautifully to the dish.

In some parts of East Africa such as Tanzania, pilau is served only at special occasions like weddings. This so because spices like cloves are highly valued in that region and in fact are exported globally as cash crops.

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups chicken stock or water
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 onion
1 tbs pilau spice mix (ensure that all spices are represented)
1 tbs vegetable oil.
1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes or cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste ( adjust quantity depending on stock or if using using plain water)

The “How To”

Using a shallow skillet wide frying pan ( that has a lid) heat the pan dry and then add your spice mix as well as the chili or cayenne. Toast them in the dry hot pan for about a minute; this “activates” the spices, releasing their oils and intensifying their flavours.
Next, add the vegetable oil and chopped onions, garlic and green pepper stir for about 2 minutes until the onions are translucent; be careful not to burn them. Add the rinsed basmati rice to the pan and coat it completely with the spice and onion mix.

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Pour in the stock/water, turn the heat down and put the lid on. Minimise opening the pan until,the rice is cooked. When it is cooked (between 15 – 20 minutes, depending on the quality of the rice) let it sit for a few extra minutes with a dish cloth over the pan, fluff with a fork before serving.

I was feeling extra lazy the day, I made this meal so it went with some grilled beef sausages and a coconut cream sauce.

For the sauce you need 50 grams of butter, 1 cup coconut milk, 1 tsp corn flour, 1 tsp black pepper and salt to taste.

Mix butter and corn flour in a sauce pan over medium heat until you have a roux. Then slowly add in the coconut milk stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. It is ready when you have a homogenous sauce that lightly coats the back of a spoon.

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When a dear friend and her daughter came round to lunch the other day, I was frazzled because the munchkins were running me ragged. My guests needed nourishment for their tummies.

Rice and fish came to mind but I wanted it to look like I made an effort. The result? Sunny bright saffron rice and lemony herby fish.

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Ingredients
For the fish
2 large white fish fillets (I used cod)
2 tbs herbed butter
1 lemon
1 1/2 Black pepper
1 1/2 cayenne pepper
1 tbs butter
3/4 tbs salt.

For Saffron Rice
2 cups Basmati rice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 good pinch saffron threads
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbs butter (optional)
Salt (to taste)

The “How To”

Heat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius
Place the the fillets on a shopping board and pat them completely dry with a paper towel. You may halve them or leave them whole depending on your preferred portion size.

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Sprinkle the fillets liberally on both sides with black and cayenne pepper. Then carefully, and evenly season both sides with salt.

Line a roasting pan with foil ensuring that you have an over hang on the sides to allow to allow you wrap the fish up in a parcel as it cooks. Heat a skillet with the table spoon of butter and sear the fellows for about a minute on each side then transfer them to the roasting the pan and squeeze half a lemon over them. Place a couple of slices of lemon on them and distribute the herbed butter as well. Wrap them up and place in the oven. After 17 minutes take them out and leave them to rest for a further 5 minutes stilled wrapped.

For an accompanying sauce, use the recipe described above for the pilau rice but add the pan drippings to it to infuse with the lemon and herbs.

To make the saffron rice simply add all ingredients except the butter in a skillet, bring to a boil, put the lid on and simmer until the rice is cooked. Least the rice sit for a few minutes in the pot for a few minutes then add the butter and fluff with a fork.

I added a small salad to garnish the plate and cleanse our palates as we dined. It was essentially sliced cucumbers and tomatoes with a wasabi dressing (it’s purely optional).

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Dessert was a berry treat. In my next post I will share the recipe for the 2 berry poke cake that promptly vanished after lunch.

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It was a delightful day and I enjoyed playing hostess.

FFF tip of the Day

Instead of using better as set out in the recipes here, you could replace with olive oil for a healthier alternative. Even your fresh herbs can be preserved in olive. Simply place washed herbs in ice trays and pour oil oil over them. Freeze and use as desired.