Day 237, July 31 2016

Roast chicken, hassleback vegetables, cauliflower, and gravy

There is nothing much pretty about a roast chook. From the time you start cooking it, to the time it ends up on your plate, it looks pretty terrible. Example the first (vegetarians avert your eyes):

How undignified!


But ignoring the aesthetics, roasting a chicken is a simple and cheap (even a free range chook, nowadays, is cheap – this one cost about $8 and fed three of us for 2 nights, plus made stock) way to feed a group of omnivores. I have a few tips and tricks to roasting a chook that you might find useful:

  • Stuff it: stuffing was invented to keep the meat moist and stretch the meal. It’s easy to make and takes about ten minutes. We make our stuffing recipes up depending on what we happen to have, but usually we use the following: olive oil, one diced onion, some garlic, fresh or dried herbs, at least a cup of fresh breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, lemon zest, and diced bacon if we have some. Cook the onion in a shallow frying pan with the olive oil, and add the bacon if you are using it, then add the other ingredients, including the breadcrumbs. Cook together for about ten minutes. Set aside to cool. Stuff it up your chicken’s cavity as tightly as possible (see photo above – that chook is stuffed, baby). Do this just before you are planning to cook your bird, so that you are not stuffing warm stuffing in a cold choo and then letting it sit, thereby creating a bacteria factory. When you stuff a chook you will need to cook it a little longer, so lower the temp of your oven slightly to make share the outside doesn’t burn while the inside is still cooking.
  • Season it: Don’t be stingy on the olive oil, salt and pepper. As you can see from the photo above, this bird was doused in all three, plus some garlic. It looks like it has a bad case of spattergroit.
  • Keep it clean: in the old days, people used to recommend washing the chicken inside and out, and patting it dry with paper towels, but this recommendation has been discredited now – it spreads more germs than it reduces. Just wash your hands, keep your surfaces clean, and apply the smell test. If it smells bad, ditch it. 
  • Cook it: for long enough. Check whether the bird is cooked by piercing it at the thickest part (in the thigh area). If the juices run clear, it’s cooked. If they are pink or still ‘bloody’ in appearance, whack it back in the oven.

Whatever you do, don’t forget the fixings: lots of roast veg, steamed veg, and gravy.

Dis time, we didn’t forget da gravy!

Day 236, July 30 2016*

Baked spuds. I love them. My family is so-so on them, but I adore them. They have to be really well cooked though – I’m talking crispy to the point of crust-like on the outside, and soft and fluffy as a cloud in the inside. None of these flaccid, soft-skinned baked potatoes for me. Stick ‘me back in the oven and call me in an hour when they are cooked properly. I love them on the side with a steak or a chop or a slice of pie, with barbecue, or in their own right as a main course. They are lovely topped with chilli (vegetarian or meat), some poached chicken, or even some leftover curry, but my absolute favourite way to have them is the simplest, and vegetarian: butter, steamed broccoli, grated cheese, feta cheese, and sour cream. Like so:


Even The Resolute Omnivore did not complain about this vegetarian meal.

Other great potato toppings for quick weekend dinners

  • Chilli, salsa, cheese and sour cream;
  • Baked beans and cheese;
  • Bolognese sauce, white sauce and cheese;
  • Crumbled bacon, diced cooked Beetroot or fresh pineapple and cheese;
  • Leftover curry, lime pickle, and yoghurt.

Really, the choices are only limited by your preferences and imagination. Each serving is filling and costs about a buck, so you can’t go wrong.
*I skipped a few days due to recipe repeats – see previous post for meal plans for last week.

Meal plans, Weeks 29-30 2016

Some weeks start with great intentions, and then fall to pieces. Some weeks I start out with an perfect plan, and then life stomps on my toes, just to remind me that there are no perfect plans. That was the case on the first of these weeks, when we succumbed to dodgy last minute takeaway after we arrived home at 7:30 to an almost empty fridge, followed by frozen pie and chips the next night. It was not a healthy couple of days, nor the kind of thing most people writing a food blog admit to. Let’s just say, I didn’t instagram those pics, mate. Hashtag frozencolesfrenchfries hashtag MOTY*

The following week I resolved that late meetings and late OSHC pickups were not going to result in feelings of guilt (and I’m not gonna lie, ecstatic kids), so I planned a Saturday hashtag bigfreezercookup and spent my Saturday cooking up giant batches of meatballs, chicken cacciatore, and chilli so that when the inevitable late night happened again we would have a hot meal in minutes. Success! The following week was healthy and takeaway free. Hashtag MOTY – for reals this time.

Week 29, July 2329

Saturday: Date night (us): lamb cutlets, baked potatoes, steamed vegetables; Kids: Resolute Ominvore: same as us, Vegetarian: Vegetarian Schnitzel, Baked potato, vegetables

Sunday: Honey soy chicken drumsticks, potato wedges, salad (non vegetarian); Pastizis, potato wedges, salad (vegetarian)

Monday: Dinner @ my parents’ (bless ’em)

Tuesday: Chicken stir fry (non-vegetarian); Vegetable stir-fry with omelette (vegetarian)

Vegetarian stir fry with omelette


Wednesday Worst Day: BLTs/ELTs

Thursday: Takeaway chicken and chips, veggie burger

Friday: Frozen pie & chips (non-vegetarian), veggie roll (vegetarian)

Week 30, July 30August 5

Saturday: Baked potatoes with broccoli, cheese and sour cream (vegetarian)

Sunday: Roast chicken with hassleback vegetables, cauliflower and gravy (non-vegetarian); faux chicken schnitzel, roast veg and cauliflower (vegetarian)

Monday: Roast chicken and vegetables – leftover

Tuesday: Beef and black bean chilli tacos with salad, spicy black bean tacos (vegetarian)

Wednesday Worst Day: Haloumi burgers (vegetarian)

Thursday: Chicken cacciatore and rice (non-vegetarian); Haloumi, rice and vegetables (vegetarian)

Friday: Meatballs and rice

*Mother Of The Year

Day 203, July 23 2016

Freeform Sweet Potato and Eggplant Pie

This was a cross between a quiche and a pie that I invented to feed my vegetarian daughter and ourselves (with the exception of The Resolute Omnivore, who ‘don’ like pie’ and also ‘don’ like vegetarian food’).

No photos – I am posting on the fly while out and about and don’t have pics I can easily get to. Truthfully the pics I have are not great – it is hard to take a good shot of this dish. Might be time to get a better camera if I insist on inflicting my photography on the world.

Ingredients

1 sheet frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed – 19 cents

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed – 50 cents

1 small eggplant (aubergine), salted for an hour and rinsed, and cut into chunks – 75 cents

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks – 47 cents

1 small onion, peeled and cut into eighths – 10 cents

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – 24 cents

1/2 cup grated tasty cheese – 62 cents

1 egg plus one eggwhite – 80 cents

2 tablespoons milk – 6 cents

1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds – 2.5 cents

Thaw the pastry. Place the shortcut pastry on a lined baking tray.

Place all the vegetables in a deep baking dish, and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake at 200 degrees C for half an hour or until tender and slightly golden. Set aside to cool slightly.

Tip the warm vegetables onto the shortcrust pastry, leaving a 2cm edge all around. If there are too many vegetables, put some aside to use in another dish (for example, for a pizza or pasta dish – yum). Sprinkle the cheese on top. Bush the edges of the pastry with the eggwhite.

Using a pastry cutter, cut a hole in the top of the puff pastry sheet. Lay the puff pastry on top of the shortcrust, and fold the two edges of the pastry up all around to seal the pie. Brush the top of the pie with the eggwhite and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Beat the remaining eggwhite with the whole egg and the milk until well combined. Carefully  pour the egg mixture into the hole in the puff pastry. If you pour it too quickly, it will spill out of the top of the pie – trust me, I discovered this the hard way…

Bake in a hot oven (200 degrees C) for 30 minutes, or until the eggs are set. Serves 6 with a side salad – we served it with a bulgur wheat salad similar to this salad from Day 189.

Total cost: $3.75

Per person (serves 6): 62 cents

Days 197-199, July 17-19, 2016

Days of soup and curry

I’m going to post two soup recipes I invented for funsies – but no pictures. My iPhone camera and kitchen lighting did not do the recipes justice, and they ended up looking like bowls of dirt (Black Bean Soup) and blood (Borscht), so really there was not much point. I am not much of a photographer at the best of times (what? no!) so for me to not post these must mean they were on the #pinterestfail scale of bad rather than my usual effort.

However, I did make this Jamie Oliver recipe for Pukka Yellow Curry from the Save With Jamie cookbook (my favourite of his books), varying it slightly by adding black-eyed beans instead of chickpeas, because we don’t keep chickpeas in the house (my youngest is allergic). I did take a pic of that:

Pukka chicken curry

Compare my photo to the food stylist’s photo on the Jamie Oliver website and I am sure you will agree that they look EXACTLY the same.

It was one of the best chicken curries I have ever made, and that is because Jamie Oliver is the king of my kitchen. Nuff said.

Borscht

I made this for funsies because I found bunches of beetroot at the Hilltop that were irresistible – irresistible I tell ya. I have never made Borscht before, but with those lovely maroon globes just daring me to try it, I had to. I never welch on a bet.

5 medium beetroot (1 bunch), unpeeled, trimmed, leaves removed – $2.99

250 grams shortcut bacon, chopped – $2.50

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped – 10 cents

1 stick celery, peeled and finely sliced* – 10 cents

1 small carrot, peeled and finely sliced – 10 cents

3 potatoes, peeled, sliced – 75 cents

3 cups stock (I used pork stock but you can use chicken) – free

2 tablespoons plus one tablespoon olive oil – 36 cents

Place the trimmed and unpeeled beets in a large baking tray. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and bake at 180 degrees C until you can skewer one easily with a wooden skewer. Set aside to cool.

In a deep stock pot, heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and add the onions, celery and carrot. Cook until soft. Add the bacon and cook until the bacon is fragrant and soft.

Add the sliced potatoes and continue to gently cook, stirring often to prevent sticking.

When the beets are cool to touch, peel away the skins and roughly chop. Add to the pot and stir well. Pour over the stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, and cook until the potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and let cool.

Puree the soup in batches or using a stick blender. I puree using a Nutri-blast food processor.

Before serving, reheat and check seasoning. Due to the bacon it should not require any salt but if it does, add to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some thick wholemeal bread.

Freezes well. Turns your urine pink, so don’t panic – you don’t have a problem 😀

Total cost: $6.90

Per serve (serves 8): 86 cents

Day 199, Black Bean Soup

This vegetarian black bean soup (vegan if you don’t add the sour cream on top) is my most favourite of all soups, especially when dressed with lots of lime juice, sour cream, and smoky hot sauce. Unfortunately I didn’t have any limes, but this was still great. I recommend eating this in winter by the fireplace with tortillas, and pretending you are Tijuana for the afternoon.

1 onion, peeled and chopped – 10 cents

1 stick celery, peeled and finely cliced – 10 cents

1 carrot, peeled and chopped – 10 cents

200 grams dried black beans, soaked overnight and rinsed – $1.27

1 litre vegetable stock – free

1 vegetarian chicken-style stock cube – 7 cents

2 tablespoonse finely chopped fresh coriander and parsley – free**

2 teaspoons ground cumin – 10 cents

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes – 5 cents

2 tablespoons rice bran oil – 12 cents

Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat rice bran oil in a large stock pot, and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook slowly for ten minutes on low heat, stirring regularly to prevent burning. Add the black beans and stir well, coating in the cooked vegetables. Sprinkle with the spices and stir well. Cook for two minutes or until the spices are fragrant. Pour over the vegetable stock and sprinkle the stock cube over. Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat. Simmer for at least one hour, or until the beans are so soft, you can squish them easily with the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and let cool.

When the soup is cool, puree using a stick blender, or in batches using a blender or food processor.

Reheat gently to prevent burning, and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with sour cream, lime wedges, and a chipotle-style hot sauce, and tortillas on the side. Sigh with contentment.

Total cost: so cheeeeeeap! $1.91 for the whole pot

Per serve (serves at least 6): 31 cents. And that my friends is why soup is a bargain and why vegetarian soup is the best bargain of them all.

 

 

* I always peel celery to remove the annoying stringy bits. You don’t have to, but if you do not, I will think you are a monster. No pressure.

**Some people hate coriander so much they will avoid any recipe that contains it – in that case just use parsley. I love it so I grow it and use it with abandon.

 

Day 189, July 9 2016

Bulgur, black eyed bean and bocconcini salad

This is a healthy, vegetarian salad that can be served as a main course or as a side dish. We did both – we had it for dinner one night and then ate the leftovers as a side dish the following night. The inclusion of black-eyed beans, pepitas, and bocconcini cheese makes for a satisfying vegetarian main course (omit the cheese for a vegan dish). I find that sometimes in winter, I want something to lighten up all the pies (no, really), casseroles and curries. For the Resolute Omnivore, we added some poached chicken, and omitted for the vegetarian.

Ingredients

3/4 cup fine bulgur – 60 cents

3 slices whole meal bread, cut into cubes – 62 cents

2 tablespoons pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) – 53 cents

1/2 tub bocconcini balls, halved – $1.92

1 can black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed – $1

1/2 cup seedless raisins or craisins, soaked in boiling water for half an hour – 96 cents

2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled and diced – 50 cents

1 cup grated carrots – 50 cents

2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives – 20 cents

1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander – free

2 large radishes, finely chopped – free

2 teaspoons plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – 42 cents

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar – 36 cents

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Resolute Omnivore:  1/2 cup poached chicken breast

In a large bowl, cover the bulgur in cold water, and soak for two hours.

Drain in a fine sieve, and rinse. Press the water out of it, and leave to drain over the bowl for at least an hour before you intend to use it.

Drain the water from the raisins or craisins and squeeze any excess out with your hands. Set aside.

In a large baking tray, place the bread cubes. Sprinkle with the pepitas and drizzle with two teaspoons of olive oil. Bake at 200 degrees C until crisp. Set aside to cool.

In a large salad bowl, place all ingredients except the chicken, croutons, pepitas, and oil/vinegar.

Carefully mix together. Drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of oil and vinegar. Carefully mix and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

Serve the salad at the table, with croutons and chicken on the side for people to add as they prefer.

Vegetarian version


Total cost: $7.61 (vegetarian)

Per person (serves 6): $1.26

Meal Plan, Weeks 27-28 2016

Busy weeks! Our house sprung a leak where our old fireplace rusted through, and we had to replace it with a new one that cost more than I want to mention. My husband ended a contract, and then started another. We ate too much takeaway and I realised I had stacked on about three kilos, probably from eating all that takeaway and Genoa cake. Note to self: make the cake, don’t eat all of the cake…

Week 27, July 9-15

Saturday: Bulgur, black eyed bean and bocconcini salad (vegetarian)

Sunday: Roast pork (non-vegetarian) with lots of roasted vegetables (vegetarian) and a vegetarian schnitzel for the little vego

Monday: Lemon crumbed fish, wedges

Monday: Vegetarian pasta

Wednesday Worst Day: Quesadillas with homemade tortillas (vegetarian and non-vegetarian)

Thursday: Noodle soup and roasted vegetables

Friday: Monthly takeaway night

Week 28, July 16-22

Saturday: Takeaway pizza

Sunday: Jamie Oliver recipe – Pukka Yellow Chicken Curry, Vegetarian Curry

Monday: Pasta bolognese

Tuesday: Black bean soup (vegetarian), leftovers

Wednesday Worst Day: Chicken and vegetarian quesadillas

Thursday: Beef and Black Bean chilli (non-vegetarian) or refried beans (vegetarian), rice and tortillas with salad

Friday: Omelettes (vegetarian and non-vegetarian)

 

 

Day 187, July 7 2016

Honey Soy Chicken

Ye olde Honey Soy Chicken is one of those recipes I keep in my back pocket for when I am in a hurry, and I’m all outta ideas. I always have the basic marinade ingredients on hand or I can adapt it easily without leaving the house, and it is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. You can use the marinade for any meat, really, or even for tofu – which I have not done yet but I will soon – but I mostly use it for chicken. You can use it for chicken pieces, whole chicken, or boneless chicken, but mostly I use it for drumsticks or wings. My family love a sticky honey soy chicken wingette, which I do myself by separating the wings into two, and tossing the wing tips in the crockpot for stock (wings make the best chicken stock due to the high gelatine content). However, lately, I have been using chicken drumsticks.

I served this with fresh pineapple and coconut-style sticky rice on the side. I say ‘style’ because it was made with coconut-flavoured evaporated milk as I am allergic to coconut.

chicken

Honey soy roasted chicken drumsticks, with pineapple and sticky coconut-style rice

I’d include a recipe for the rice, but I forgot to write it down as I went along and can’t remember how to make it. My bad.

Honey soy chicken marinade

7 chicken drumsticks (1 kg) – $3.50

1/2 teaspoon garlic paste* – 2 cents

1 teaspoon ginger paste – 5 cents

4 tablespoons soy sauce** – 80 cents

2 tablespoon tomato sauce – 16 cents

2 tablespoons runny honey – 40 cents

1 teaspoon dijon mustard – 8 cents

1 teaspoon olive oil – 3 cents

Combine oil, sauces, honey, mustard, garlic and ginger together. Mix well.

Spray a glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray and place the chicken inside. Pour the marinade over the top of the chicken. Turn a couple of times to coat well, and then place in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour.

Half an hour before you want to cook the chicken, remove from the fridge.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Cook the chicken for 45 minutes or so, turning frequently, or until well-cooked and dark (not burnt). The soy sauce and honey should caramelise on the chicken.

Serve with rice or rice noodles and vegetables on the side. We had pineapple on the side with ours.

Total cost: $5.04

Per person (serves 3): $1.68

 

* Finally ran out of my stash of Australian garlic so it is garlic in a jar until the Spring 😦

**I use gluten-free soy sauce and mustards so that this dish is a gluten-free dish.

 

The Mother of Invention

Most cooks know how to invent recipes based on ingredients they have on hand. It’s rare that I search out an ingredient for a recipe from a book – usually I adapt a recipe using ingredients I have, or I just don’t make it. This ain’t Masterchef, and I don’t have a big, gorgeous pantry stuffed with all the ingredients Coles and Curtis Stone can buy me.

Also, I have a huge issue with food waste. A lot of my cooking is designed to use up what I call ‘oprhan ingredients’ – those bits of food just waiting for a belly to call home. You know: half a cup of muesli; a tablespoon of yoghurt or jam that someone inexplicably put back into the fridge instead of just eating damnit; the cornflakes at the bottom of the packet that always make the bowl of cereal mushy; and the ends of the bread. I don’t throw these things out, and if you think I’m being a bit anal about this, check this out:

bread ends

Apparently we hates the ends of bread.

These next two recipes were invented to make use of orphan ingredients: some truly horrible caramel flavoured muesli I bought on sale and of which everyone in my family refused to eat more than a single bowlful, and the last of my most recent experiment in genoa cakes.

The trick to inventing a recipe with an orphan ingredient is twofold: 1. stick with what you know how to make; and 2. re-invent what you know your family already likes. For my lot, that is usually pancakes, cookies, muffins and pasta dishes. I know I can hide a multitude of heretofore despised orphan ingredients in these beloved dishes. Because these dishes are simple and follow a pretty standard formula, they are also virtually unmessupable.*

Muesli and Chocolate Chip Cookies

125 grams butter, softened

1/4 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup soft brown sugar

2 eggs

2 cups toasted muesli – we used the abovementioned Caramel Pops Muesli (gross as cereal, delicous in cookies)

1 cup SR flour, plus another 1/4 cup

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat again until all the sugar is well incorporated into the butter.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg is well-combined.

Mix in the muesli. The mix will be wet and sloppy.

Add the cup of self-raising flour and the chocolate chips. The consistency of the mix will be sticky. You want to be able to drop this mix onto your trays, not roll it. If you think the mix is too sticky, add the other 1/4 cup flour. This is something you will decide based on your own knowledge – I needed the additional 1/4 cup.

Drop large teaspoonsful of the mix onto lined trays.

Using a wet fork, squish the biscuits flat. Bake for ten minutes or until golden.

Makes about 25-30 biscuits.

muesli choc chip cookies

Bread and butter-style pudding

This is not really a bread and butter pudding, as I was using stale fruit cake. But it was in the style of, so close enough.

I’m going to post this as a step-by-step recipe, to show how you can invent something on the fly, and cook it while hoping for the best.

10 large-ish slices of fruit cake

6 teaspoons butter or margarine (I used a dairy blend)

bread and butter pud stage 1

Butter each piece of cake on one side

2 tablespoons jam that someone left in the fridge after a Sunday special pancake breakfast with your besties

bread and butter pud stage 2

Spread jam thinly on each slice

4 eggs, well beaten

1 2/3 cups full cream milk

a good scraping fresh whole nutmeg (if you don’t have whole nutmeg, use 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon instead)

You do not need to add any further sugar. It’s a pudding made of cake spread with jam, peeps. It’s already as sweet as it can be without causing the Heart Foundation to call a national diabetes alert in my kitchen.

Layer the slices of cake in a well greased baking dish.

bread and butter pud stage 4

Beat eggs very well, combine with milk and spices, pour carefully over the top. Leave in fridge for 3-4 hours

Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Place the pudding on a tray in case of spillage or overflow.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the eggs are set.

bread and butter pud stage 5

Parts on the top will be overcooked. This is OK

Serve warm with cream:

bread and butter pud stage 6

Om nom nom nom

I’m not even going to try to cost these two recipes – suffice to say they were cheeaaaapppp. They tricked my kids into eating things that they were refusing to eat. They were not super healthy. They were super yummy.

 

*caveat – note virtually. It is always possible to balls something up. But an understanding of the basic chemistry of baking makes most things turn out well. For example, if you are adding something heavy like muesli or rolled oats to a muffin or a pancake (a wet batter), whip an eggwhite to soft peaks and fold it gently through after you have incorporated the heavier ingredient. This will lift your batter and ensure your muffin or pancakes do not resemble hockey pucks. Simples.**

**Further caveat – I did not do well in chemistry at school. Or home ec. But I seem to have made up for it due to my need to feed my kids. Necessity is a good teacher. Better than either my chemistry or home ec teachers, it would seem.***

***I’m sure they tried their best.

More tales from the BDOB

In addition to my obsession with the perfect pastry, I have recently started to try to perfect an obscure fruit cake called the Genoa Cake. My Big Days of Baking (BDOB) now include my usual muffins, biscuits, bread, something fun, and the latest attempt at the Genoa Cake.

I discovered the Genoa Cake, which is a light (in colour, not in weight), lemony fruit cake, when reading a cookbook I borrowed from the library called The Blue Ribbon Cookbook: Recipes, Stories and Tips From Prizewinning Country Show Cooks, by Liz Harfull. Now, I love a good country fair or show, me. I love a pickle or a relish made by a po-faced nanna, especially if it is heavily laced with curry powder. I love looking at all the cakes submitted by said nannas to the Royal Adelaide Show, held every year, although my kids usually complain that I am taking too long when I look at these.

The Genoa Cake is the most hotly contested of the cakes submitted for competition to the Royal Show. Now don’t worry – I’m not entering the Show. Those ladies be some serious cooks. One lady giving advice in The Blue Ribbon Cookbook actually irons the baking paper before she lines her tins. I may have a Big Day of Baking of a weekend, but usually it involves me watching Netflix on the iPad while drinking copious cups of tea and making a mess of my kitchen as children float past asking if they can lick the bowl (they can). I ain’t ironing baking paper – that’s a serious level of baking.

However, I was intrigued by the Genoa Cake. Firstly, because all these ladies fight over winning the title and it is supposed to be a very challenging cake to get right. Secondly, I love fruit cakes of all description. Thirdly, it has figs and lemon in it, two things that I really like a lot. Think Italy rather than England, when you think of the flavours in this cake.

Dudes, this cake is hard. The fruit is not soaked in booze beforehand like a traditional rich fruit cake or Christmas cake, which means it is a lot drier. The temperature of the oven is critical, which is where I have been falling down I think.

genoa cake

Genoa cake mark I

Pictured above is attempt the first. The fam went nuts for this cake (ironic since it had no nuts), but less so for my second attempt. Both times, it was too dry in my opinion. I am going to lower the temperature on my oven by 20 degrees and cook it more slowly, and hopefully this can be addressed.

Other baking efforts this past couple of weekends:

  • Brioche
brioche.jpg

Mmmm…brioche!

  • Jammy muffins
  • Ye olde vegemite scrolls
  • Bread rolls and bread aplenty
  • Low fat carrot and yoghurt cake
  • Blood orange cake
blood orange cake 3

Mmmm…blood orange cake!

Low fat carrot cake

I like carrot cake but not enough to eat over 400 calories a slice. For a cake that contains a lot of vegetables, it is also one of the most fat and sugar soaked cakes you can make or buy, which is why I rarely do either. If I am going to eat 400 calories, I would rather eat something really bad, like a slice of red velvet cake or a Magnum, which at less than 300 calories is practically health food in comparison.

So, I wanted to make a carrot cake but did not want to have the resulting mea culpa. I came up with this recipe, which I thought was pretty tasty.

1 cup natural yoghurt

1/2 cup rice bran oil

2 carrots, coarsley grated

2 eggs

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup boiling water and 1 chai tea bag

100 g brown sugar

1.5 cups self-raising flour

2 tablespoons pepitas

1 teaspoon cinnamon

scraping whole nutmeg

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

In a heatproof jug or mug, place the chai tea bag and the raisins. Pour half a cup of boiling water over the top and let steep for ten minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yoghurt, eggs, oil, carrots, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.

Drain the raisins, and add to the wet ingredients. Open the teabag and add the contents to the yoghurt mix. Stir.

Fold the flour into the wet ingredients. Don’t over mix.

Grease and line a loaf tin.

Scrap the carrot cake mix into the loaf tin. Sprinkle with the pepitas and bake at 180 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer or wooden chopstick comes out clean.

carrot cake

Mmmm..carrot cake!