Dining in Muscat: Afternoon tea party delights

Lifestyle Monday 25/April/2016 17:51 PM
By: Times News Service
Dining in Muscat: Afternoon tea party delights

When it comes to afternoon tea party or high tea, there aren’t any fixed menus. While sandwiches and cakes are always in the list, why not get a little innovative this time? Indulge your guests with these quick mouth-watering treats.

Vanilla Shortbread Cookies
A delicious and simple vanilla shortbread cookies recipe made with only four ingredients. They crumble delicately while melting in your mouth with each bite, and they have just the right hint of sweetness. Simple and elegant, and a perfect companion to your tea.

14 tbsp (7 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tsp vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
2 cups plus 3 tbsp all-purpose flour

• In a bowl mix butter and sugar until light and creamy. Mix in the vanilla. Mix in the flour and beat until smooth.
• Put the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and pat into a rectangle ½ to ¾ inch thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
• Roll dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to about ¼ inch thick. Using a 2-inch round fluted cookie cutter cut out 30 cookies and transfer to parchment paper lined sheet pan. Trimmings can be pressed together and rerolled once for additional cookies. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow the dough to chill before baking.
• Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Using a small offset spatula, transfer the chilled cookies to the sheet pans, leaving, at least, 1-inch of space between each cookie. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar.
• Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, switching the position and rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until crisp and light golden brown. Remove the sheets from the oven and cool for 2 to 5 minutes on the sheet pan to firm the cookies up a bit. Transfer cookies directly to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

Healthy Baked Broccoli Tots
Broccoli and cheddar together in little tater-tots are perfect for snacking.

2 cups or 12 ounces uncooked or frozen broccoli
1 large egg
¼ cup diced onion
⅓ cup cheddar cheese
⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
⅓ cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp parsley ( or cilantro)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

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• Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease a baking sheet with a thin layer of oil or line with parchment paper and set aside.
• Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute then remove and shock with cold tap water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.
• Chop broccoli finely and mix thoroughly with the egg, onions, cheddar, breadcrumbs, and seasoning.
• Scoop about 1.5 tbsp of mix using an ice-cream scoop or your hands and gently press between your hands into a firm ball then shape into a tater-tot shape. It helps to wash your hands after every few tots to keep them from sticking onto your hands. Next, place on your prepared baking sheet.
• Bake until golden brown and crispy for around 20 minutes, turning half way. Remove from the oven and enjoy with your favourite dip.

Chocolate Quinoa Muffins
These chocolate quinoa muffins could easily pass off as chocolate cake. Gluten free and hard to believe that they are completely flourless with the main ingredient as cooked quinoa. Give your chocolate muffin a healthy twist and surprise your guests.

2 cups cooked quinoa
4 eggs
½ cup milk
1tsp vanilla extract
½ cup butter (or any cooking oil)
1 cup sugar/brown or castor sugar (honey for a healthier version)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

• Preheat you oven to 175C.
• In a large bowl or stand mixer, put in all the ingredients and mix well till well combined.
• Pour into muffin tins just over 1/2 full. Mist your muffin tin with oil or line with silicone liners or foil liners to prevent sticking.
• Bake for 15 minutes, until you press them and they spring back. The toothpick test doesn’t work well on these as a bit of the crumb will stick to the toothpick as they are rich and moist.
• Sprinkle some chocolate chip for that glossy look.

Spinach and cheese sambousek
Spinach and cheese sambousek is a famous Lebanese dish that features a plain flour shell with succulent spinach and cheese mixture. Feta cheese gives this dish a great texture.

For the dough
1 cup all purpose flour
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
For the stuffing
2 tsp oil
½ cup chopped onions
1tsp finely chopped garlic
1 cup blanched and chopped spinach
½ tsp baharat powder
Salt to taste
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp roasted and chopped walnuts

• Combine all the ingredients for the dough in a bowl, mix well and knead into semi-stiff dough using enough water.
• Heat oil in a broad nonstick pan, add the onions and garlic, and sauté on a medium flame for 2 minutes.
• Add the spinach, baharat powder and salt, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 3 minutes.
• Transfer the mixture in a deep bowl, add the feta cheese and walnuts, mix well. Divide the mixture into 15 equal portions. Keep aside.
• Now roll a portion of the dough into a 100 mm (4”) diameter circle using a little plain flour for rolling.
• Place a portion of spinach and cheese mixture in the centre. Fold it over to make a semi-circle. Seal the ends completely using a little water.
• Twist the edges.
• Repeat for the remaining dough circles and stuffing to make 14 more sambousek.
• Heat oil in a deep non-stick wok and deep-fry a few sambousek at a time on a slow flame till they turn golden brown from all the sides. Drain on an absorbent paper. Serve hot.