Easiest Cake Ever!

Easiest Cake Ever!

Serves 8
Effort: Easy


1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup super fine sugar (not icing sugar)
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup milk or coffee cream
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla


- add 2 mashed bananas & chopped walnuts, or
- add 1/2 cup cocoa powder, or
- add 2 peeled, cored and chopped apples & 2 tsp. cinnamon, or
- add 1 tbsp. grated orange peel
the options are endless, so get creative!

Heat oven to 375o.
Grease and flour either a 9" round cake tin, or a bread tin.
Put all the ingredients (except whatever options you choose to add) in a large bowl and using an electric mixer, mix at medium to low speed until well combined. If using any of the options, fold those in.
Pour into the baking tin, and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until when tooth pick is inserted it comes out dry. Cool on a wire rack and frost with your favourite frosting or simply sprinkle with icing sugar.

(This recipe was adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)

Chicken Tikka Masala - my way!

Effort: Easy
Serves: 4


1 lb deboned, skinned chicken meat (I personally prefer breast for this recipe) - cut into large cubes or strips
1 large white onion, chopped
A 2" piece of fresh Ginger- minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs Garam Masala*
2 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp (or more) either Cayenne pepper or child pepper flakes (I used the latter)
2 tbs Tomato paste
1 small can whole Italian tomatoes
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
Butter or neutral oil for sautéing
 1/2 cup Full fat yogurt, plus 4 tsp. for serving
Cilantro - about 1/2 cup, coarsely chopped
Crushed sea salt to taste
Black pepper
A tiny bit of sugar to balance out the tomatoes

Add 1-2 tbsp. butter or neutral oil to a large skillet, heat until very hot & add chicken pieces. Sauté quickly, stirring from time to time until browned and almost cooked through. Remove from heat and turn chicken into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1/4 of the Garam Masala. (Some people prefer to combine it before cooking the chicken but I find it burns and ruins the taste). Set aside.

In the same pan, add some more butter or oil, onion & garlic. Sauté until transparent, add the ginger and sauté for another minute. Add the tomato paste, quickly mix and cook for about 20 seconds then add the tomatoes and lemon juice, crushing the tomatoes with your spoon. Add salt, chill flakes, the rest of the garam masala and turmeric. Mix well, ensuring you scrape the bottom of the pan, and cook on medium heat until bubbling. Add a tiny bit of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes, then add the chicken, lower the heat to medium low and cover. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the chicken is tender. Adjust salt and pepper to your taste. Just before serving mix in the 1/2 cup yogurt and the cilantro. Serve either with Basmati rice & peas or with Naan bread or both!

*Garam Masala

1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Combine and keep in a jar for further use. This is a rather small quantity so feel free to double it up and use it for many recipes such as marinating chicken or pork - along with some oil, yogurt & chopped garlic for a great BBQ!

Shrimp / Lobster Rolls

Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

2 cups extra large, cooked, peeled shrimp or lobster cut into large pieces
1 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup thinly sliced spring onions
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Pinch of hot pepper flakes
2 Crusty sausage rolls

Mix all the ingredients (except the rolls of course!) and chill.
When ready to serve, slice rolls lengthwise in half & toast. Spread insides with a little butter and spoon in half the shrimp/lobster onto each roll.
Serve with fries or chips or salad.

Baby Octopus & Giant Shrimp Stew

Baby Octopus & Giant Shrimp Stew
Time: Approximately 1 1/2 hours
Effort: Easy
Serves: 2

6-8 baby octopus, sacs cleaned out and split. Cut tentacle section in half
6-8 giant shrimp - raw, peeled & deveined
1 banana shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium ripe tomato, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 small can of tomato paste (about 2 tbsp.)
3 tbsp. olive oil
Water to boil the octopus & water for the sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp. chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh curly parsley
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste.

Place octopus in a medium saucepan, add water just enough to cover and add the vinegar. Bring to a rolling boil, then simmer for approximately 45 minutes until tender. Drain off the water. 
Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan or skillet with tall sides, saute the shallot until transparent. Add the garlic, chopped tomato and celery and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and a little water - not too much because you don't want a watery sauce. Blend well, reduce heat, add salt and pepper, cover and simmer on low for 5-10 minutes until the celery is cooked but still a bit crunchy. Add the shrimp and the octopus and simmer covered for another 2-3 minutes or until the shrimp have turned pink. Be careful not to overcook ! Blend in the parsley and cilantro and serve. 
Shown here served on a bed of mixed rice (wild & long-grain white). 

Hummus (plain and easy)

Hummus (plain and easy)
Time: 10 minutes or less
Effort: Easy
Yield: 2 cups

1 large can of chick peas, strained, keeping the liquid
2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt to taste
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Place the strained chick peas in a food processor and blend on high until crushed. Turn off, scrape the sides and add a little of the strained liquid, a little lemon juice and olive oil and blend on high again until pureed. While blending, add salt, garlic powder and a little more olive oil and lemon juice. Turn off, scrape sides and add salt to taste. Blend again on high until it turns into a lump-free puree. Turn off and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. 
Serve immediately or place in an air tight glass jar and refrigerate.
Keeps for approximately 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Note: Most Hummus recipes contain Tahini - which is made from sesame seeds. I omitted it this time and it's just as tasty and delicious !

Decadent Burgers

Decadent Burgers
Time: 45 minutes (approx.)
Effort: Easy but there are a few steps
Serves: 2

1 lb lean ground beef/veal/pork (or just one of the three if you prefer)
Grilling spices (such as black pepper, cumin, mustard seed or any of your favourite blend)
Salt & Pepper
Worcestershire sauce
2 Kaiser buns or large, firm hamburger buns
4 tbsp. good quality or home made mayonnaise
1 roasted red pepper (bottled in water) finely chopped or 2 tbsp. roasted red pepper sauce, such as "Ajvar sauce" *
1 medium white onion, peeled & thickly sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 medium, ripe tomato thickly sliced
4 rashers of pre-cooked bacon**
2 slices of Portuguese "Queijo da Serra" *** or your favorite goat cheese (I don't recommend the creamy kind)
Canola oil for drizzling

Divide ground meat into 2 equal portions and shape into hamburger patties. Lay on a plate and sprinkle generously with grilling spices, salt, pepper and a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce and some oil. Set aside.
On a large plate place the slices of onion, tomato and zucchini. Drizzle with a little salt, pepper and oil. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise and the red peppers. Set aside.
Turn BBQ on high and heat until very hot. On one side of the grill, place the vegetables, except the tomato, and on the other the hamburgers. Grill for approximately 5 minutes and flip, grilling for another 5 minutes and flip again until meat is cooked to your liking and the vegetables are well browned. Add the tomatoes to the grill, meanwhile place the bacon, followed by the cheese on each burger. Place the buns face down on the grill and close the cover. Grill for about 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

To serve: 
Spread a generous amount of red pepper mayo on the bottom of each bun, top with the burger followed by the vegetables in any order. Spread a little more of the red pepper mayo on the top bun and place on top of the burger. Ready to eat ! Enjoy !!!

*Ajvar sauce is available in most European grocery stores or even Loblaws, IGA, Metro (Canada)
**I usually make batches of pre-cooked bacon (in the microwave) and keep them in ziploc bags in the fridge
***Portuguese "Queijo da Serra" is made from goat's milk: a hard rind on the outside and soft in the middle.