Crespelle

Italian crespelle is often made with a tomato sauce. In my own recipe I use béchamel instead, and tasty almonds flakes. My friends are so impressed with the taste, and I am happy to share this recipe with you all.

INGREDIENTS

500g fresh spinach (washed and drained)

200g leeks (washed and sliced)

50g parsley (washed and chopped roughly)

3 garlic cloves (chopped)

200g ricotta cheese

75g Parmesan cheese (grated)

3 tbs olive oil

Salt and black pepper

 

Ingredients for Pancakes

200g plain flour

2 eggs (beaten)

3 tbs olive oil

200ml coconut milk

1 tsp dry herbs (oregano or thyme)

1/2 tsp baking powder

Salt

Method

Mix eggs, milk and olive oil together

In another bowl, mix flour, herbs, baking powder and salt

Beat both mixtures together until a thick puree without lumps

Keep on one side

 

For the béchamel 

100g butter

75g flour

350ml milk

100ml white wine

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp mustard powder or paste

Salt

 

Method

Melt the butter in a saucepan then add flour, cook until nutty brown

Remove from the heat, add the milk and mix until silky pure without lumps, then add wine

Add mustard and nutmeg, and check the seasoning

 

METHOD

Heat the oven 180*

Heat a pan with olive oil, add the garlic and leeks and cook for around 7 minutes

Add spinach and parsley, remove from the heat and mix well

Let it cool down then add the ricotta cheese and check the seasoning

Start making thin pancakes with a nonstick pan

Sprinkle the spinach mixture in each pancake and roll it up

Arrange the pancakes in a ovenproof dish

Finish with the béchamel, sprinkle with parmesan and flaked almonds

Bake in the oven until golden brown and the pancakes have crisped slightly

 

 


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Coconut and Apple Cake

This is my first cake recipe with fresh coconut, coconut oil, and apple as well as spices from Sri Lanka.
I was very happy with the way it came out! The apple retained some crunch, and it was full of delicious fresh coconut flavour.
INGREDIENTS
3 cups any sweet apple (peeled and diced)
1/2 lemon (juiced)
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cloves powder
100g walnuts (roasted and chopped)
3 eggs
1/4 plain yogurt
1 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
For the caramel coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbs hot water
1 cup freshly scraped coconut
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Pinch of salt
Butter Caramel sauce
100g soft butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup double cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
METHOD
For the cake
  • Heat the oven to 180*
  • Line a baking tray with baking parchment
  • In a bowl mix lemon juice and apple, and keep on one side
  • In another bowl mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices)
  • Mix the wet ingredients together in another bowl (eggs, oil, yogurt and vanilla essence)
  • Combine both mixtures together with the apple
  • Transfer mixture into the lined baking tray, and bake for 40 minutes
For the caramelised coconut
  • heat the pan with the brown sugar and caramelise lightly
  • then add the hot water and cardamom powder, coconut and salt and cook on a low heat until the syrup absorbs into the coconut
  • remove from the heat and let it cool
For the caramel butter
  • melt the butter in a pan and keep stirring without burning until light brown
  • then add the sugar mix and well on low heat
  • when the sugar and butter mixture starts to boil remove from the heat and add the cream and vanilla, whisking well
  • allow to cool
To assemble the cake
  • when the cake is ready to sandwich, separate it into two halves
  • spread one half with the caramel sauce and walnuts
  • put the other half on the top, and finish with the caramel topping and sprinkle over the caramel coconut and the rest of the walnuts

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Ham and Cheese Croquettes

Here is another of my healthy lockdown creations, made with a surprising ingredient – oats! Oats are a gluten-free whole grain and a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Studies show that oats and oatmeal have many health benefits, including weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. I use oats as a breakfast dish for lots of customers at the hotel, but they make a very tasty and satisfying addition to these croquettes. They make a great snack or appetiser, and also work well as finger food.

 

INGREDIENTS
1 cup porridge oats
1 cup chopped cooked ham
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 vegetable stock cube
4 tbs chopped spring onion
4 tbs grated hard cheese ( any, but I use parmigiana)
5 tbs chopped parsley
3 tbs chopped onion
1 medium carrot (peeled and diced)
2 tbs olive oil
200g breadcrumbs
4 tbs plain four
2 egg whites
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Make a béchamel
2 tbs butter, 4 tbs flour, 1 cup cold milk
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour, mix well and cook for a few moments. Remove from the heat and add the cold milk a little at a time until the sauce thickens. You will need 1/2 cup of béchamel for the recipe.
METHOD
Boil the water and dissolve the vegetable stock cube. Cook the porridge oats until they are cooked but not runny. Keep on one side. Heat the oil, add the onion and cook until soft. Then add the ham and raw carrot. In a bowl, mix all the rest of the ingredients together and add the béchamel a little at a time. Roll the mixture up with clingfilm (see photo) and keep in the fridge for one hour. Arrange three shallow bowls, one with the flour, one with the beaten eggs, and the other with the breadcrumbs.
Take out the rolled mixture and separate with a knife into even sized shapes as you like them. Coat with flour, then with egg wash, and finally with breadcrumbs. Fry until golden brown. Serve with garlic mayo and mustard.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Mung Bean and Coconut Lasagna

This is my own creation, and it came out with quite a special flavour. Simply add coconut milk and boiled mung beans. Instead of meat you can use only vegetables if you’re looking for a vegetarian dish.
INGREDIENTS
300g mince meat of your choice (chicken/pork/beef)
300g mung beans (green gram) (soaked overnight and then boiled)
2 tins (800g) chopped tomato
1 onion (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
3 tbs parsley ( chopped)
150g cheddar cheese
75g Parmesan cheese
6 lasagna sheets
3 tbs butter
3 tbs olive oil
3 tbs flour
2 cup coconut milk (fresh or powder)
1 tsp mustard paste
Salt and pepper
METHOD
Heat the pan, add meat and  cook for about 10 minutes.  When meat is cooked, remove the fat. Boil the mung beans (green gram), mix with the meat and keep on one side. Heat a pan, add olive oil, garlic and onion and sauté. Add chopped tomato, bay leaf and thyme and cook slowly until the sauce becomes thick and rich, then add the salt and pepper.  Check the seasoning, remove the bay leaf. Grate both cheeses and mix with the chopped parsley. Then combine the tomato sauce with the meat and mung beans.
Melt the butter in a pan, add flour and cook until well combined. Remove from heat, add the milk little at a time and mix so there are no lumps. Add mustard paste and heat on low until you get a thick sauce. Remove from the heat, add salt.
Heat the oven to 180*. In an ovenproof dish spoon one third of the meat sauce into the dish, then cover with some fresh lasagna sheets then the coconut sauce. Sprinkle some cheese. Repeat until you have 3 layers of pasta. Cover with the remaining sauce, sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until the top is bubbling and lightly browned.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Orange and Chocolate Cake

This is my own recipe for orange and chocolate cake. It is soft and has amazing flavours.

INGREDIENTS 

175g soft butter

3 eggs

2 tbs milk

3 tbs fresh orange juice 

1 tbs orange zest 

1 tbs cocoa powder 

1 tsp baking powder

200g self-raising flour 

175g light muscovado sugar 

For the filling 

350g double cream

50g sugar 

100g unsweetened chocolate (melted in a double boiler)

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

2 tbs orange liqueur or Cointreau 

70g roasted cashew nuts

METHOD 

Preheat the oven 180*C/ 350F. Line a round cake tin with baking paper.  Mix together cocoa powder, baking powder, flour and orange zest in bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the other ingredients until there are no lumps. Add the dry ingredients in three batches to the wet ingredients, folding together until smooth. Pour the cake mixture in to the cake tin, bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool down.

To make the filling – add the double cream and sugar to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until you get a smooth paste. Fold the cream mixture into the melted chocolate and mix well. Mix orange juice with the liqueur.

To assemble – cut the cake into two layers and sprinkle with the orange juice mixture. Spread the cream mixture, stacking together carefully. Finish the cake as you like.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Risotto Cake

This risotto cake with vegetables is my own recipe. Full of flavours. it’s easy to make and a great dish for vegetarians.
INGREDIENTS
500g risotto rice
200g each of carrots and courgettes (grated), leeks (white part, sliced) and capsicum (seeded and chopped)
1 tin chopped tomatos
250g grated parmesan cheese
1 loaf of brown bread (400g) (crumbed)
150g fresh basil and parsley
3 eggs (beaten)
Olive oil
Boiling water or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
METHOD
Cook the rice by adding the boiling water or stock a little at a time until the rice is cooked. Heat the olive oil, sauté the leeks then add the capsicum. Remove from the heat, add grated vegetables and check the seasoning. Add cheese, chopped tomato and vegetables to the rice and mix well. Using a round cutter, make burger-shaped cakes. Coat with egg wash and the herbed breadcrumbs. Heat the pan on low heat, add the olive oil and fry the cakes until golden. Arrange on an oven tray and bake in the oven set at 175* for 20 minutes.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Stuffed Mushrooms

This is a pure vegetarian dish, tasty and very easy to make as a main dish or an appetiser. I use brie cheese, but any type of cheese works as well.
INGREDIENTS
10 Portobello mushrooms
500g spinach (washed and drained)
1 onion (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tin sweetcorn (150g)
100g grated cheddar cheese, or brie
Salt and pepper to taste
METHOD
Heat the oven to 180*. Peel the mushrooms and arrange on a baking tray. Heat a pan with a oil and saute the garlic and onion. Then add the spinach and corn, cook briefly to retain the green from the spinach then remove immediately from the heat. Check the seasoning. Stuff the mixture into the mushrooms and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for around 8 – 10 minutes until the cheese has melted.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Vegetable Pakora

Vegetable pakora is a pure vegetarian dish, which everyone seems to love. There are lots of different versions of this recipe, this one is my very own (popular because of its crunch). Why buy the frozen ones when this is so easy to make at home?

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup rice flour
1 cup gram flour
2 tbs black sesame seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbs ginger and garlic paste
1 tsp coriander powder
Cold water
Juice of half a lemon
Oil for deep frying as needed
Salt
Julien vegetables
2 medium carrot, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 capsicum (different colours), thinly sliced
1 medium courgette, thinly sliced
1 medium aubergine, thinly sliced
1 small cabbage, shredded
METHOD
In a bowl mix ginger, garlic, sesame seeds with the spices, flour and vegetables. Then add little bit of water at a time making sure the vegetables are coated lightly. Do not put too much water in. Check the seasoning and keep on the side for 10 minutes. Heat the oil. Spoon out the pakora mixture a tablespoon at a time into the oil and fry until golden brown (make sure not to burn them). Finish in a 180* oven for ten minutes before serving. Serve with chutney or raita.

 


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Oven Baked Felafel

Felafel is one of the Middle East’s most popular vegetarian dishes, suitable for breakfast, lunch or supper. It’s also one of my favourite finger foods. On a recent trip to Athens, Greece, I came across a small cafe on a high street that was selling only felafel. The queue was always miles long, so I was curious about their success. Having tasted their felafel, I decided I could do far better. I experimented with a healthier version cooked in the oven, rather than deep fried, and I am very happy to share my recipe with you.

INGREDIENTS

(For best results, if you can find dry white beans soak them overnight in cold water, drain then roughly grind)

1 tin chickpeas 240g

1 garlic clove (chopped)

3 tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tbs lemon zest

5 tbs freshly chopped parsley and mint

1 tbs fresh chilli (chopped)

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

2 tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

Heat the oven 175*. Drain the water from the chickpeas. In a food processor, blend them coarsely (making sure not to form a paste). Transfer to a bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients except for the oil. Check the seasoning. Form into small balls or any shape you like. Heat the olive oil in a l0w flame and seal the felafel balls until just brown. Transfer to an ovenproof tray and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with tahini paste.

Tahini paste

1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Juice of 2 lemons

1/2 cup tahini

1/2 tsp cumin powder

2 tbs finely chopped parsley

salt to taste

Mix the ingredients together, then check the seasoning.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Vegetable Stroganoff

Stroganoff is a dish mostly associated with beef, but I invented this version made with vegetables. Adding root vegetables and butternut gives the recipe lots of flavour as well as texture. I think you’re going to enjoy it.

INGREDIENTS

250g sweet potato (peeled and diced)
400g butternut (peeled, seeded and diced)
300g capsicum (red pepper) (seeded and diced)
3 corn on the cob (remove the corn)
200g fresh broad beans
200g fresh green peas
250g white cabbage
250g carrot (peeled and diced)
2 onions (peeled and diced)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
3tbs olive oil
Small bunch of parsley and  basil
3 bay leaves
1 tin chopped tomatoes
250g cream
180g silver skin pickled onions (from a jar)
Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

Heat the oven to 180*. Make a paste with olive oil and fresh herbs, then mix into the vegetables. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the chopped tomato, cream and seasoning into the baked vegetables. Sprinkle the pickled onion on the top and bake for another 15 minutes.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.