Archive for the ‘Snack’ Category

Cornmeal Muffins

Cornmeal Muffins

There’s something wistful about the start of September.

It’s filled with subtle changes; the days get shorter and there’s a moodiness in the air, the leaves start turning and there’s an early morning chill signaling summer’s inevitable end.

I’ve always loved this time of year; it feels contemplative as we shift focus from hazy summer days to the drearier days ahead.

There’s also a lightness to this time of year, bursts of perfect sunshiny days reminding us that summer isn’t quite over.

Cornmeal Muffins

Cornmeal Muffins

This is the time we ease back into the kitchen; roasting vegetables, baking and cooking decadent porridges again.

We fired up the oven this evening, slow roasting okra with hatch peppers and heirloom tomatoes.

I save cornmeal muffins for this time of the year; they’re summery and breezy, easy to whip up on cooler evenings when turning on the oven doesn’t feel stifling.

Aromatic flavours wafts through my tiny kitchen as it bakes and makes my heart happy.

Cornmeal Muffins Cornmeal Muffins
Cornmeal Muffins

These muffins are sweet, with hints of nutmeg and cardamom for warmth and topped with a sprinkle of pearl sugar to boost the cornmeal’s nutty crunchiness.

They’re just right for evenings around here, these delicate muffins, served warm with a pot of tea and a good book.

It’s perfect for lingering as darkness falls… as the sounds of the seagulls filter away and the 9 O’Clock Gun goes off in the distance.

There’s a touch of lightness and warmth to these muffins that is a little like this time of year.

Cornmeal Muffins

Cornmeal Muffins

Oven Baked Marmite Cashews

Oven Baked Marmite Cashews by Elsa Brobbey

I’ve probably told the ‘marmite story’ a million times, of how my sister was anaemic when we were kids and marmite was one of the foods her doctor had recommended… It’s the story of how the dark spread came into my life.

I don’t recall liking marmite that much as a child; my mom would spread it thinly on toast and we’d eat it like it was medicine.

Years later when I tried marmite again, it tasted salty and savoury and bitter, and a little like nostalgia.
It grew on me halfway through the jar; I liked the salty savouriness, the yeasty, deep umami flavours reminiscent of reduced vegetable stock (vegetable demi-glace).

Oven Baked Marmite Cashews by Elsa Brobbey Oven Baked Marmite Cashews by Elsa Brobbey

We’re steadily eating our way through the few jars of marmite we got last year, it’s mostly my mom, she likes a dab in her morning Milo or hot chocolate.

I was over the moon when I discovered marmite snacks, we can’t get them here unfortunately so that just means I have to be creative.

I’ve been making marmite-y nuts for a while now, these nuts are so tasty even marmite haters love them, marmite adds an extra depth of saltiness and savouriness to the roasted nuts.

And these oven baked marmite cashews spectacular, by far my favourite marmite nuts; the cashews turn out creamy and buttery, and salty and that addictive umami taste – It’s so hard to stop eating them!

Oven Baked Marmite Cashews by Elsa Brobbey

Oven Baked Marmite Cashews by Elsa Brobbey Oven Baked Marmite Cashews by Elsa Brobbey


Oven Baked Marmite Cashews by Elsa Brobbey

Chocolate Pizza

Chocolate Pizza

There are a few interesting stories to this chocolate pizza; two involve children, sort of – fitting since I’m pretty sure kids would love this sweet pizza.

Both are cute stories, of how I came to own a box of colourful Dutch sprinkles and a gooey tub of chocolate spread made with cocoa from Ghana.

Months ago, when I was strolling the canals of Amsterdam, my friend N who was expecting a baby at the time, sent me a text asking if I could pick her up some sugar-coated aniseed sprinkles (Muisjes) – auspiciously, I was standing in front of an Albert Heijn and they were the first things I spotted upon entering the store.
I got a pink one and a blue one since I didn’t know the sex of N’s baby.

N’s baby came this January past, a sweet little boy with the most adorable smile. She borrowed the Dutch custom and served guests who came to see the baby, donuts sprinkled with blue and white Muisjes, and I came home to a box of pink and white sugar-coated aniseed sprinkles.

Chocolate Pizza
Chocolate Pizza

Then there’s my little friend E, a passionate nine-year old with a slight obsession with vampires and Goth.
Choco Delight, a chocolate peanut butter spread from Ghana is on her list of favourite things at the moment – it’s better than Nutella, she said and I was intrigued. Her dad graciously got us a tub to try.

I initially wanted to make this chocolate pizza for E; to share with her on one of the evenings she passes by my place on her way to Girls Guide, but our timing was always off and I was sure we’d run out of chocolate spread if I waited for that perfect opportunity.

Chocolate Pizza Chocolate Pizza

So one morning when we would have just had bread with chocolate spread with our tea, I made chocolate pizza instead.
It’s simple really; bread dough slathered in chocolate and baked to perfection with a sprinkle of aniseed.
The sprinkles were an afterthought, but I do love the combination, the chocolate and the subtle liquorice flavour do well together.

I love it with tea; it’s like bread with your favourite chocolate spread, but so much more – it’s soft warm chewy bread with gooey melted chocolate – so good!

I used ’00’ flour for the dough, I got a small bag from the Italian store months ago to try out. I put my bread machine to work using a very simple dough recipe, same one I used here.
The dough can be made by hand too; here is a great step-by-step direction on how to.

I’m hopeful, E and I have set a date this summer, to get together and make chocolate pizza, and I’ll even let her choose the toppings.

Chocolate Pizza Chocolate Pizza

Chocolate Pizza

Socca with Cilantro Sauce

Socca with Cilantro Sauce

I very much favour sweet breakfast foods over savoury ones; it’s how I get to satisfy my incredibly sweet-tooth daily, but I also do appreciate a good savoury breakfast, I reserve meals like this socca and cilantro sauce for special mornings.

Weekend mornings where I do manage to get out of bed and go for a run or a long walk along the seawall.

Coincidentally, I got the recipe for this cilantro sauce on the seawall.

Walking the seawall is amazing like that; sometimes you meet the most interesting people, and last year a kindhearted woman gave me the recipe to this cilantro sauce – I rushed home, wrote it down and proceeded to make it straightaway.

Socca with Cilantro Sauce
Socca with Cilantro Sauce Socca with Cilantro Sauce

I’d made the batter for my socca the night before and kept it in the fridge, I left it on the kitchen counter to come to room temperature while I was out for my walk.

We must have both worked up an appetite because the woman and I got talking about breakfast, specifically what we were going to eat in the next hour or so… hers were savoury pancakes, which she pairs with this tart herby cilantro sauce.

This is how I got the idea to try it with socca, and it was absolutely special, it’s got to be since almost a year later I’m still eating socca with cilantro sauce, and can’t seem to stop talking about it.

It’s a convenient way to use up excess cilantro or other herbs; I should point out that it’s not just for socca, this sauce is for just about anything… I use it like ketchup or a dip and sometimes even stir it into soups or over roasted potatoes.

Socca with Cilantro Sauce
Socca with Cilantro Sauce

As for socca, I don’t think I’ve said enough to express how much I love socca!
I love that it has just so few ingredients, it’s easy to make and so very satisfying and filling.

It usually takes less than fifteen minutes to cook once I get back home and the cilantro sauce can also be made ahead of time.

A few weeks ago I piled on some caramelized onions, sometimes I top my slices with leftover roasted vegetables.

Have I mentioned that it’s naturally vegan and gluten free?

Socca with Cilantro Sauce
Socca with Cilantro Sauce

Socca with Cilantro Sauce

Baked Sweet Potato Wedges

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There was a restaurant in Kits, it’s long gone now, I was so hooked on their sweet potato fries I was convinced they put something in them.

The rest of the food was subpar at best; nonetheless, we practically hung out there every Friday night for those crispy and salty sweet caramelized fries.

Served with a bright peppery aioli with hints of tomato and rosemary, they weren’t like anything I’d had before.

I didn’t go back for few months and then I heard the restaurant had closed, I wish I’d asked for the recipe, but I wasn’t much of a home cook back then.

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Sometimes I wonder if my idealist brain has created a far more impeccable sweet potato fry than the actual fries were, which is why none other has come close.

Now I always order sweet potatoes fries if it’s on the menu at a bar or restaurant… comparing and judging and chasing that illusive perfect crispy soft-inside savoury sweet taste.

And then other day I started this quest of creating my own perfect sweet potato fries, the one to knock the other off the pedestal – I don’t know if we’re quite there yet, but these baked sweet potato wedges are a pleasing start.

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Sweet delicate wedges with a bit of crunch, tender on the inside and a touch of tomato and rosemary – it’s my little cheer for this lengthy winter we can’t seem to shake.

I used garnet yams for this recipe, which in fact are sweet potatoes and technically not ‘yams’ – these are sweeter and richer in colour than the classic sweet potato, also rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A), and a good source of other excellent vitamins and dietary fiber.

These potatoes are versatile and probably one of the easiest things to make; I cut them thinner sometimes and change up the spices – they make a great side or snack, and are surprisingly very filling, and of course slightly addictive.

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