Picnic in the park

I was meeting friends in Centennial Park today for a baby shower picnic, and was responsible for bringing dips. I wanted to bring one of my favourite dips, tzatziki. After researching different recipes, it seems the secret with this dip is to keep things simple. I was thinking of experimenting with the addition of spices, but the only things that seem to be added are a generous amount of salt and pepper, and either mint or dill. I went with adding both herbs, and some lemon zest and lemon infused olive oil for an extra citrus kick.

The raw garlic actually adds a bit of heat to the dip, so taste as you go when adding the garlic and pepper. Some recipes ask you to peel the cucumber and / or scoop out the seeds, I didn’t but instead allowed the yoghurt and grated cucumber to drain to remove some of the excess liquid. Suspend your strainer over a bowl to allow the liquid to drip through.

Serve this dip with your favourite crackers, or vegetable crudités (I used celery and carrot sticks) or as part of a Middle-Eastern inspired feast.

What I was cooking this time last year: Asian Marinated Salmon

Tzatziki Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 cucumber
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used lemon infused)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Grate the cucumber and add to a suspended strainer.
  • Add the yoghurt to the grated cucumber in the strainer and set aside for the excess liquid to drip through.

Yoghurt and cucumber straining

  • Set aside the draining yoghurt and grated cucumber for half-an-hour while you prepare your vegetable crudités.
  • Discard the liquid and add the yoghurt and grated cucumber to the blow.
  • Grate the lemon zest and finely mince the garlic and add to the bowl.
  • Add the finely chopped mint, dill, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Tzatziki ingredients

  • Mix with a spoon until everything is combined.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.

Tzatziki dip celery carrot crudité

What is your favourite dip? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Dip, Herbs, Lemon, Recipes, Savoury, Vegetarian

Poppy Seed cake

In preparation for embracing the “Swank Diet” in the new year, I am taking steps to wean myself off certain favourite foods. A lot of the diets books I have been reading say it is important not to put your body through sudden and / or drastic changes, so I am currently cutting back on coffee and dairy products, and if I am eating dairy, using low-fat or no-fat versions. If you are regular follower of this blog, you may have detected that I love baking and I believe cake should be classified as its’ own food group. The inspiration for this recipe is to come up with a cake that doesn’t use butter. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s healthy, but for me, it’s a step in the right direction.

The cake has been drowned in a sticky syrup, which you could skip if you want or need to reduce your sugar intake. Delicious served warm alongside a scoop of fat free natural yoghurt.

Lemon poppy seed

What I was cooking this time last year: Veggie Burgers

Lemon Poppy Seed Yoghurt Cake

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 cup zero fat yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup rice bran oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons poppy seeds

Lemon Syrup

  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • Water

Method

  • Turn the oven on to 180°C to pre-heat.
  • Add the flour, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, lemon zest, yoghurt and oil to your food processor bowl.
  • Juice the zested lemons, and add 1/2 cup lemon juice to the food processor bowl.

DSC07542

  • Mix until the cake batter is combined.
  • Add the poppy seeds to the food processor bowl and pulse until mixed into the cake batter.

Poppy seed cake batter

  • Grease a cake tin.
  • Pour the cake mix into your greased cake tin, and set a timer for 45 minutes (you may need to adjust the cooking time depending on your oven and cake tin size).

Poppy seed cake batter

  • To make the syrup zest 2 lemons to produce long strips of zest. Add to a saucepan.

Lemon zest strips

  • Juice the lemon, to create 1/4 cup lemon juice, add 1/4 cup of water and add to the saucepan.
  • Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the lemon zest and juice mix.

Lemon syrup

  • Cook the syrup mixture over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to the boil.
  • Take the syrup off the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Once the cake is cooked, remove from the tin and pour over the syrup while the cake is still hot.
  • Serve warm or once cooled. Enjoy.

Lemon Poppy Seed Yoghurt Cake

What is your favourite healthy(ish) cake recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

2 Comments

Filed under Baking, Cake, Lemon, Pudding, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

Nutty

It is a long weekend in Sydney. The October long weekend is when daylight savings time kicks in, and the weekend that heralds the start of summertime.  A lot of Sydneysiders use the opportunity to make a pilgrimage out of the city and head up the coast. Staying at a friend’s place for the weekend, and the start of BBQ season is the inspiration for this recipe, Marinated Fish skewers with Satay Sauce.

I used Monkfish for my skewers, as recommended by my fish monger. You could use chicken, tofu or prawns instead of fish if you prefer. Kecap manis is a thick, Indonesian soy sauce, normally found in the Asian section of your supermarket. Kaffir lime leaves add a citrus tang. You can add chilli to taste to the sauce – I like things spicy so added more to make sure there was a bit of heat to the sauce. This is not an authentic Indonesian or Balinese recipe, because I have added ginger to the marinade and sauce, but I think the flavours work well together.

It was hard to get an appetising photograph of the satay sauce, but I assure you it tastes delicious and quite different to anything you buy from the supermarket out of a jar or bottle.

Serve your skewers with the satay sauce as a snack on their own, or with rice, salad or vegetables for a more substantial meal.

What I was cooking this time last year: Guacamole

Marinated Fish Skewers with Satay Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Fish Skewers

  • 1kg monkfish fillets
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 heaped teaspoon grated ginger
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, shredded finely
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • wooden skewers

Satay Sauce

  • 150g raw unsalted peanuts
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 tablespoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
  • 2 red chillies, or to taste
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup warm water

Method

  • Soak the wooden skewers in water. This prevents them burning when they are being cooked.
  • Add the shredded kaffir lime leaves, garlic, ginger, oil and kecap manis to a bowl.

Kaffir lime leaves

  • Chop the fish into cubes and add to the bowl.
  • Toss to coat the fish in the marinade, set aside to soak up the flavours while you prepare the satay sauce.

Fish skewers

  • Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan and add the raw peanuts.

Raw peanuts

  • Cook the peanuts, stirring regularly, until lightly golden brown. Set aside to cool. (The peanuts will continue to cook once they are removed from the heat so don’t allow them to get too golden brown when they are on the heat.)

cooked peanuts

  • Add the garlic, ginger, chillies, tomato, kecap manis kaffir lime leaves and peanuts to a blender jug. Add 1/4 cup of warm water.

blender kaffir lime tomato

  • Blend the sauce until smooth and combined. Taste, if required add more chilli or water until you are happy with the heat and thickness of the sauce.
  • Transfer your satay sauce to a bowl and set aside.

Satay sauce

  • Thread the cubes of marinated fish onto the soaked skewers.

Raw fish skewers

  • On the BBQ or a medium-hot frying pan, cook your fish skewers for a couple of minutes on one side.
  • Turn and cook for a minute or two on the other side, or until cooked through.
  • Serve the cooked fish skewers alongside the satay sauce. Enjoy.

DSC07529

What is your favourite BBQ recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

2 Comments

Filed under Peanuts, Recipes, Savoury, Seafood

Zesty

One of my all time favourite flavours is lemon. When I was making the Australian Women’s Weekly classic, Caramel Chocolate Slice recently, I was inspired to try a citrusy version. This slice is my Lemon and White Chocolate Slice.

I like to use the zest and well as the juice of lemons to give an extra citrus boost when I am cooking. Cooking the lemon filling is more to cook out the egg yolks than to actually thicken the curd, the reaction between the lemon juice and condensed milk when mixing without any heat produces a thick filling. With the cooking oil you use, I recommend you select a neutral flavoured oil, I used rice bran oil.

I recommend you bring your finished slice to room temperature before slicing if you have refridgerated it, otherwise the chocolate topping will be prone to cracking as you chop (I learnt this the hard way, and the firm chocolate caused the lemon filling to ooze out a little). The slice is quite rich, you I recommend you cut into dainty portions – you can always go back for seconds or thirds if you still have room.

What I was cooking this time last year: Banoffee Pie

Lemon and White Chocolate Slide

* This recipe was adapted from a Caramel Chocolate Slice recipe by The Australian Women’s Weekly recipe cards. I have modified and adapted it to come up with the below reincarnation.

Ingredients:

Biscuit Base

  • 120g butter
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

Filling

  • 400g can condensed milk
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Generous pinch of salt

Chocolate topping

  • 22og white chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

Method

  • Turn the oven on to 180°C. to pre-heat.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.
  • Add the oats, flours, brown sugar and melted butter to a food processor bowl. Mix the biscuit base mixture until combined.
  • Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  • Tip the biscuit base mixture into the lined baking tray, and press out evenly over the base of the tray.

Biscuit base slice mixture

  • Cook the biscuit base in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the biscuit base from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • Add the condensed milk to the saucepan used to melt the butter.
  • Zest and juice the lemons and add to the condensed milk in the saucepan.
  • Add the 2 egg yolks and salt to the saucepan and mix everything to combine.

Lemon curd ingredients

  • Cook the lemon filling over a medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is hot. Continue cooking for a further two minutes to ensure the egg yolks are cooked.

DSC07486

  • Pour the hot lemon filling over the biscuit base, spread out to create an even layer. Set aside to cool.
  • Add the white chocolate and cooking oil to a large bowl.

White chocolate melting

  • Suspend the bowl over a saucepan of hot water and gently heat until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined.
  • Pour the white chocolate over the lemon filling layer, spread out to create an even layer. Set aside to cool.
  • Remove the lemon slice from the baking tray and cut into serving size pieces. Enjoy.

Lemon White Chocolate Slice

What is your favourite lemon recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

Leave a comment

Filed under Baking, Biscuits, Chocolate, Lemon, Pudding, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

Energy boost

Things are starting to warm up in Sydney, and as a result we are all starting to strip off the layers of clothing and show a little more flesh. Creating a healthy snack was the inspiration for this recipe. I got the idea for these energy bars from a post by the Kitchn – it looked so simple and tasty I had to give it a try.

You can purchase dry roasted unsalted almonds. If you have raw nuts, the only thing you need to turn the oven on for is if you want to roast your nuts, you could of course use them raw.

You could experiment with different combinations of your favourite dried fruits, nuts, seeds and spices to come up with your own flavour creations. You will however need some sticky dried fruits like dates or figs to help the ingredients bind together.

Dried fruits

What I was cooking this time last year: Prawn and Pumpkin Curry

Energy Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry roasted almonds
  • 130g dried cranberries
  • 250g dried figs

Method:

  • Add the almonds, cranberries and dried figs to the food processor bowl.

Almonds, figs, cranberries

  • Process until combined – the mixture will still have some texture.

Energy bar mixture

  • Transfer the mixture to a plastic lined tray and press out evenly.

Energy mix tray

  • Allow to chill in the fridge.
  • Slice into pieces and serve or store in an air-tight container. Enjoy.

What is your favourite healthy snack recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

Leave a comment

Filed under Almond, Dried Fruit, Fig, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian

Beetroot blast

Beetroot are in abundance at the moment, and are the inspiration for this recipe. Ingredients that compliment beetroot include cumin, walnuts and feta, which produce a vibrantly coloured purple dip – what’s not to love. This recipe makes quite a large batch, so feel free to halve if you aren’t cooking for a crowd or don’t want to be eating it for the next week.

To toast and grind your cumin seeds, cook them without any oil in a fry pan over a low to medium heat – be careful to keep the spices moving so they toast evenly and only cook until lightly toasted and the aroma is released, don’t let the spices burn, then grind to get maximum flavour into your dip. The cumin seeds can be ground in a blender, coffee grinder or a with a pestle and mortar.

Serve your dip with your favourite biscuits or rice crackers, and / or vegetable crudités.

What I was cooking this time last year: Chocolate Beetroot Cake

Beetroot dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of beetroot, approximately 1 kg
  • 200g feta
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50g toasted walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Turn the oven on to 180°C.
  • Peel the beetroot and chop into pieces.

Beetroot

  • Lay beetroot pieces on a baking tray, add the garlic cloves (with skins intact).

Beetroot pieces garlic

  • Put the beetroot into the oven to start roasting while you prepare the walnuts.
  • Put the walnuts in a heat proof dish and put in the oven for 10 minutes or so, until the nuts are toasted and fragrant.
  • Set aside the walnuts to cool.
  • Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly.

Toasting cumin seeds

  • Grind the cumin seeds.
  • Roast the beetroot until it is tender, then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Add the roast beetroot, feta, ground cumin, peeled garlic cloves, walnuts, lemon zest and juice and olive oil to your food processor bowl or blender.

Beetroot feta

  • Blend until smooth and everything is combined.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and blend to combine.
  • Transfer your dip to a bowl and serve (or refrigerate until ready to serve). Enjoy.

Beetroot dip

What is your favourite dip? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

1 Comment

Filed under Beetroot, Cheese, Dip, Recipes, Savoury, Spices, Vegetarian

Protein punch

When I came across a recipe in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food section that used a tin of red kidney beans to produce a gluten-free chocolate cake, to say I was dubious is an understatement. Curiosity got the better of me however, so I decided to give it a try. I shared my experiment with my family, because I knew I would be guaranteed an honest opinion – my brother is never one to hold back with his reaction. I doubled the original recipe and split the mix among three cake tins to create a triple layer cake The result was a success, a fudge cake that I smothered in dark chocolate icing with white chocolate cream between the layers. I didn’t tell everyone about my secret ingredient, and everyone was genuinely surprised when I revealed the details. A great way to sneak in extra protein for kids or vegetarians, and of course, a perfect recipe to cater for those that are gluten-free. Feel free to decorate.

Tip: make sure the cocoa powder is gluten-free if you are catering for those that are intolerant.

What I was cooking this time last year: Zucchini Fritters

Chocolate Fudge Cake

* The basic cake recipe ingredients list is taken from a recipe by Debbie Skelton that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food section on 7 August 2013.

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 2 x 420g tins of red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons espresso coffee
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla paste
  • 10 eggs, at room temperature
  • 250g softened butter, plus extra to grease your cake tins
  • 320g sugar
  • 140g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt flakes
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free-baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

White Chocolate Cream

  • 100g white chocolate
  • 300mls cream
  • 1/2 tin condensed milk (approx 200mls)

Dark Chocolate Ganache Icing

  • 220g dark chocolate
  • 300mls cream
  • 1/2 tin condensed milk (approx 200mls)

Method:

Cake

  • Turn the oven on to 180°C.

DSC07372

  • In a food processor, purée the kidney beans, coffee, vanilla and two eggs until smooth.

Red kidney beans eggs

  • Add the butter and sugar and process until smooth.

Butter and sugar

  • Add the remaining eggs, two at a time, processing until smooth.
  • Add the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt and process until smooth.
  • Cut grease-proof paper to size to fit the bottom of three cake tins.
  • Grease the three cake tins and line the bottoms with the grease-proof paper discs.
  • Divide the cake mixture between the three cake tins and smooth out to encourage them to cook evenly.

Chocolate cake batter

  • Cook in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven once cooked and allow to cool in their tins.

White Chocolate Cream

  • To make the white chocolate cream, add the white chocolate, cream and condensed milk to a large bowl.
  • Suspend the bowl over a saucepan of hot water and gently heat until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined. Allow the chocolate ganache to chill completely in the fridge.
  • Once the white chocolate mixture has chilled, beat the cream until thick.

White chocolate cream

Chocolate Ganache Icing

  • To make the chocolate ganache icing, add the dark chocolate, cream and condensed milk to a large bowl.
  • Suspend the bowl over a saucepan of hot water and gently heat until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined. Allow the chocolate ganache to cool to room temperature.

Assembly

  • To assemble, place one cake on your serving plate.
  • Top with half of the white chocolate cream, and spread the cream across the top of the cake.
  • Add the next cake on top of the white chocolate cream layer.
  • Add the remaining white chocolate cream, and spread the cream across the top of the cake.

Tripple layer chocolate cake cream

  • Add the final cake to the top of the second layer of cream.
  • Top the layered cake with dark chocolate ganache icing, and spread to cover the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate cake assembly

  • Allow to chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy.

Chocolate mud cake

What is your favourite chocolate cake recipe? Has this post inspired any new ideas?

2 Comments

Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, Recipes, Sweet, Vegetarian