2.21.2011

The end of ‘love week' and some cake


It’s the end of ‘love week’ (not the ‘end of love’ week – just to be clear). Valentine’s day this year was celebrated in usual fashion by eating delicious food and chocolate.
We started the week with dinner at Blancmange – a modern Australian restaurant.  It’s a sweet little spot in an unlikely neighbourhood. We ate three filling courses – all showcasing local and seasonal ingredients.

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By the end of the week we had lovely friends for dinner.  I wanted to make something special for dessert and stumbled on a recipe for a ‘Persian love cake’.  What a beautiful and special name – it sounded like the perfect sweet.
I changed the recipe ever so slightly and added coconut to the main base of almond meal.  The recipe called for nutmeg and of course I added some cardamom – given the cake’s Persian influence.  Yoghurt lent the perfect creaminess without adding heaviness.
persian love cake (gluten/wheat-free)
serves 8 
recipe adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine
*where possible ingredients used were organic*

360 g/ 3 cups almond meal
100g dessicated coconut
120g/1/2 cup brown sugar
120g unsalted butter
1 tsp sea salt
2 eggs
250g greek-style yoghurt, extra to serve
1 tbsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 cup unsalted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped

First, preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Prepare a 26 cm - diameter springform pan with baking paper and grease with a little butter.  In a large bowl - add almond meal, coconut, sugar, butter and salt - then rub butter into mix until course sand-like crumbs form.  Place half the mixture into pan - press down until evenly covering base. Next, add lightly beaten eggs, yoghurt and spices and mix until creamy.  Pour mix into the pan and place chopped pistachios around edge.  Bake until golden 35-40 minutes*. Take out and let cool in pan on wire rack.  Will keep for up to a week in an airtight container - I placed mine in the fridge and enjoyed it cold. Serve with more yoghurt. Enjoy.

*note - I baked mine longer than the recipe called for - I found the middle of the cake more moist than I wanted so baking it longer worked better. Also, I covered the cake halfway through baking time with foil so it wouldn't get too dark.

2.13.2011

Salad night


With only a few ingredients left in my fridge and no energy to get groceries, my options for dinner the other night were definitely a little limited. Luckily I was up for a challenge and decided to throw a few things together and make salad!
A salad can seriously be anything you want it to be. You can use raw or cooked ingredients – or a combination. Often I add beans, cheese and/or nuts to add some protein, but I also didn’t have any of those ingredients. Improvisation is the key in moments like these.
So for my fantastically easy salad night I made a sautéed red cabbage salad – garlic, sage and green onions with a splash of balsamic made this perfecto! And I made a second salad using dried ingredients just sitting in my cupboard – wakame (seaweed) and sesame seed salad. I combined soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, chili, toasted sesame seeds and rehydrated wakame. This salad was amazing too! I will definitely be making these two again.

sautéed red cabbage salad
serves 3-4 people

1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 green onions/spring onions – sliced/chopped
2 cloves garlic - chopped
3 fresh sage leaves – torn into small pieces
¼ red cabbage – shredded
1 tbsp/splash balsamic vinegar
sea salt and pepper

Place a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil, chopped onions, garlic and sage. Fry for 2-3 minutes and then add cabbage, pinch of sea salt and some freshly cracked pepper. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until cabbage is slightly wilted.  Add splash of balsamic and taste/adjust seasoning. I serve this dish at room temperature/slightly warm.  Cabbage goes well with lots of different items – I served this with baked eggs. Yum!

wakamé salad
this recipe is from Australian Gourmet Traveller – I omitted the sugar.
serves 4 people

1 cup dried wakame*
2 tbsp sesame seeds toasted
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dried chili
2 tbsp rice vinegar

First soak the wakame to reconstitute – this process takes about 10 minutes.  Drain and keep aside in a bowl.  Toast sesame seeds and let cool. Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili and cooled sesame seeds and pour mixture over wakame.  Stir through and serve.  Another option is to place into fridge for an hour and serve cold.  This dish works with any asian inspired dishes – grilled snapper, dumplings, hot and sour soup….it’s so easy and so good for you!

*wakame – seasweed – can be found at any store which stocks asian imported foods or even at health food stores.






2.01.2011

A morning of muffins


It’s been a little while since I’ve baked muffins.  It must be the heat but also that I simply forgot how easy it is to throw a few things together and, voila, you have muffins!

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After a few requests from friends looking for something healthy (not too sweet) and quick to make and take to work, I decided to try a new recipe, using some very ripe bananas in my kitchen.
I added freshly grated ginger (and ground ginger) for spiced heat and blackstrap molasses – an often overlooked and/or ignored ingredient that’s also a surprisingly good source of iron (and is a healthy way of sweetening foods).  The molasses also lends a distinct flavour – somewhat salty and rich with a touch of sweetness. For a final touch, I added nuts -- walnuts seemed to fit with the other flavours well.




I think these muffins are a healthy snack for any time of day; perfect to pick up and go in the morning or to pack with your lunch.  If you want to add protein simply spread them with peanut butter – using natural peanut butter (or almond butter for those averse to peanuts) is best. Enjoy.

banana ginger and molasses muffins
makes a dozen muffins

2 organic eggs
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup oil – any non-fragrant oil is fine
2 ripe bananas
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp each ground ginger and cinnamon
¼ tsp ground clove
1 cup wholemeal flour (you could also use gluten free flour or spelt)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup walnuts (break up into small pieces)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 fahrenheit

First, in a medium sized bowl combine wet ingredients – beat eggs, add in molasses and oil and mix well.  Using a fork, mash bananas on a plate and then add in to wet mix.  Add in spices. In a separate bowl add dry ingredients and mix flour with cocoa and baking powders.  Add in dry ingredients to wet mix, a little at a time ensuring to incorporate everything well.  Lastly, fold in walnut pieces.

Spoon in a muffin tray and bake 15-20 minutes.  Remove and let cool - the muffins should remain moist in the middle.