Lime and ricotta cake, gluten free

One of our next door neighbours has a prolific lime tree and kindly threw a few of them my way. (She didn’t actually lob them at my head, instead she walked over and very nicely handed them to me. We live in a civilised neighbourhood.) It makes me think of the saying ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ In this case, when someone gives you limes you should go and cook with them. Or make a gin and tonic. It’s up to you.

In a seemingly unconnected recent development, our local butcher had started selling tubs of creamy fresh ricotta. One of which just happened to be sitting in our refrigerator. After a bit of thought, some ingredient kismet ensued and this moist, delectable, tangy cake ended up on the kitchen bench and in the tummies of two hungry boys. Who fortuitously happened to be in the right place at the right time. Kind of like me and those limes.

GLUTEN FREE LIME AND RICOTTA CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
180g butter, room temperature
3 tbl lime zest (I used 2 limes)
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
250g ricotta cheese
1 tbl lime juice
1 cup gluten free plain flour
1/2 cup almond meal
3 tsp baking powder

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a 24cm/9 inch springform cake tin with baking paper.
Beat the butter, sugar and lime zest together in a bowl (I used an electric mixer) until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg yolks, ricotta and lime juice until well combined.
Sift the flour, almond meal and baking powder. Stir the flour mixture into the rest of the ingredients.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Fold them into the cake batter in two batches.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour or until the cake tests clean with a skewer.
Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes before removing onto a cooling rack.
Dust with icing sugar before serving to make it look pretty. This is a light and moist cake. It makes a great dessert served on the day you make it but it is still good for two days afterwards. I recommend not refrigerating it as the texture goes very dense and firm and in my books, a bit unpleasant. I also like to warm it for a few seconds in the microwave before eating it.

A Cheergerm adaptation from this recipe http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/23985/lime-and-ricotta-syrup-cake.aspx

Advertisements

A fight to the death and chocolate swirled pavlova

Some marriages are life-long love affairs, full of flowery and undying proclamations of romantic love. Others are like a military alliance, where the couple march steadily along the highway of life, side by side, enjoying common goals with stoic fortitude. Some marriages are simply just endured and others don’t make it at all. Whilst ours has had its bursts of romance and is based on a rock solid friendship, it is probably best described as a prolonged torturous comedic metaphorical fight to the death. The winner of the day is the one who gets in the best joke, at the others expense of course. The final victor will be the last one left standing. I am going to make sure it is me.

This pavlova was made for a friends pre-Easter soirée. The Yak was a big fan of the grown-up savoury spiciness of this dessert. The soft buttery pears, the chewy meringue, the tangy sour cream and the sweet heat of the gingery syrup was a food revelation. Happy fifteenth wedding anniversary Yak. In the face of the fear that I won’t do better at this late stage of the game; I guess you’ll do.

CHOCOLATE SWIRL PAVLOVA WITH MAPLE POACHED PEARS

WHAT YOU NEED
6 small pears, peeled (I used rather large Corella pears but smaller pears would have looked better on the pavlova)
2 cup (250)ml maple syrup
5cm piece ginger, sliced
6 fresh bay leaves (I didn’t have any fresh, so I didn’t use any.)
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups caster sugar (330g)
1/ tsp white vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
2 1/2 tbls cocoa powder
300-400g creme fraiche
1 tsp pure icing sugar, sifted

HOW YOU DO IT
To make the maple pears: place pears, maple syrup, ginger, bay leaves and 3 cups water (750ml) in a saucepan.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then cover the circle with a circle of baking paper and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. (My bigger pears took about 1 hour and fifteen minutes.) Remove pears from the liquid.
Discard half the liquid, reserving the bay and ginger. Return the remaining liquid, bay leaves and ginger to a deep saucepan and place over high heat.
Boil the liquid for 30 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Cool completely and set aside.
To make the pavlova, preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place baking paper on a large tray and draw an 18 cm circle.
Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt to firm peaks.
Keep beating the egg white on low adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time.
Once all of the sugar is added, continue beating on a medium speed until the meringue is no long gritty to the touch and is stiff and glossy.
Fold through the vinegar, cornflour and 2 heaped tsps of the cocoa.
Spread into the prepared tray and sprinkle another 2 tsps of the cocoa over the pavlova and using a palette knife, swirl the cocoa through the pavlova.
Place it in the oven and drop the temperature down to 130 (120 fan forced) and bake for one hour. Rotate every 20 minutes to ensure even baking and colouring.
Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the pavlova cool down in the oven for at least 3 hours.
Combine the sour cream, icing sugar and remaining 1 tsp cocoa and spread over the pavlova. Halve (or quarter) the pears and arrange over the top. Served drizzled with the reduced maple syrup and scatter with the bay leaves. (If you had any.)

A Cheergerm adaption of a recipe from the April 2016 Delicious magazine. I changed the pavlova method


Easter egg biscuits and Miffy

Sister number three in our family, from a very young age, adored the series of books about a small white rabbit named Miffy. The Dutch artist Dick Bruna created this character over sixty years ago. It is easy to see the appeal to small children with his clever use of primary colours and minimalist bold lines. Our sisters love of these books was so great, that we nicknamed her after that iconic straight-eared bunny.

Miffy was a sweet and sensitive child with a solid love of the ridiculous. She was a deep thinking furrowed browed tumble of light brown curls, with a smackering of tawny freckles upon the bridge of her cute button nose. One of the moments that best describe her, was when around the age of nine or ten, she decided to forgo any Christmas gifts and donate the money to Mother Teresa and the poor. (We may have teased her mercilessly about this selfless act but we were secretly all very impressed.)

These chewy coconut biscuits are a bit of festive Easter frippery and fun. Easy to make with kids, they are a colourful addition to any Easter table. Using my favourite Coconut Macaroon recipe, I threw in a dash of lemon zest which added a faint hum of citrus. Miffy visited the other day and even though we are all ‘growed up’ and life and time has altered us somewhat, she is still that same sweet, funny and tender soul. After taste testing these biscuits our Miffy gave them two very big bunny thumbs up.

EASTER EGG MACAROON BISCUITS

WHAT YOU NEED
2 egg whites
Pinch salt
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
1 1/4 cups (125g) desiccated coconut
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (or pure vanilla paste or essence)
Zest of one medium sized lemon
125g mini candy coated eggs (gluten free)
40g white chocolate

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 150C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Beat the egg whites and salt until they are stiff. Gradually beat in the sugar and fold in the remaining ingredients.
Drop 2 teaspoonfuls of the mixture about 5cm apart on the trays and using the other end of the spoon, dig a small indentation. This is where you will pour the chocolate and pop the eggs in once the biscuits are cooked and cooled.
Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. When the macaroons are dry and cooked, they will be a pale, pinky-gold. Let them cool completely.
Melt the white chocolate in a small glass bowl, either in the microwave or on a double boiler. Let the chocolate cool and thicken, then place abut 1/4 to a 1/2 tsp into the middle of each macaroon. Pop three of the Easter eggs onto each macaroon.
Store in an airtight container.

Recipe slightly adapted from Ladies, A Plate by Alexa Johnston.

Looking for other Easter food ideas?
Gluten free silverbeet, herb and polenta pie
Roasted baby carrots with cumin
Heirloom carrot autumn salad
Hot cross buns


Gluten free silverbeet, herb and polenta pie for Easter

Sending the Yak to the superdoopermarket/green grocers is a hit and miss thing. He is very good at buying utilitarian dried goods (think loo paper, environmentally friendly toilet cleaner in the shape of a duck or gluten free taco shells) but one has to be extremely specific when it comes to fruit and vegetables.

Point in case….I once asked for some green beans. He came back with eight, yes eight, (count them people) individual green beans. I could have created an art installation from them but finding a way to incorporate eight beans into a recipe was a tad beyond my imagination.

When pondering a vegetarian gluten free recipe as part of a shared Easter celebration, I lovingly reminisced upon the traditional spanokopita. That wonderful Greek pie consisting of silverbeet or spinach, ricotta, feta, herbs and flaky layers of pastry. Pastry that The Yak can no longer partake of. Thinking cap placed firmly atop of my noggin, I thunked. Perhaps a polenta crust atop a semi-traditional spinach pie would be quite the treat? (Or a total disaster.)

Curiosity led me to pondering the Greek connection between ground corn and food. Googlebumbling revealed that ground corn has indeed been used in Greek cooking in various ways for several hundred years. It possibly arrived in Greece, courtesy of the Turkish Ottoman Empire by way of Africa. Amongst other uses, it is sprinkled atop leafy green pies or placed underneath to soak up the juices. I have added the link to the very interesting article, after the photos in this post.

Once upon a time, I used to favour a spanokopita recipe by Matthew Evans (a former chef and food critic, now television host). It contained an abundance of herbs, leafy greens and cheese. Having lost this recipe, I now make it merely from memory. (Not the most reliable of sources.) Do not freak out at the amount of herbs in this recipe. It seems a lot but it works. Need it be said, The Yak did not do the shopping for this dish.

This pie is audaciously herbaceous. The salty hits of feta and kefalograviera (a salty Greek hard sheeps milk cheese), combined with the slightly sweet corn polenta, balance the meadowy punch in the face. But this is the kind of face punch that you happily go back for.

Sadly I missed out on the actual abundant Easter feast itself due to Kid 2 and a tummy bug. However, I did get to eat leftovers of this pie. I poured myself a glass of vino, tucked in and pretended I was on a Greek island somewhere. (In a place where stomach viruses did not exist.)

SILVERBEET, HERB AND POLENTA PIE

WHAT YOU NEED
2 tbl olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch spring onion, finely chopped
1 big bunch chopped silverbeet, trim the woody ends and use the leafy greens and some of the softer stem. (I had roughly 700g once trimmed of stalks.)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 Eggs, beaten
300g Ricotta
200g Feta, crumbled
1 bunch mint, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch dill, chopped
Zest of one lemon and juice for the silverbeet
1 tsp Salt
Pepper

Polenta Crust
1.5 cups instant polenta
5 cups water
1 1/2 tbl butter
120g kefalograviera cheese (Use 1/4 cup to add to the polenta and the rest to sprinkle on top of the pie.)

HOW YOU DO IT
In a large frypan, sauté the chopped onion for a few minutes until they start to become translucent, add the chopped spring onions, sauté for one minute.
Remove the mixture from the pan into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
Re-heat the pan to a medium heat, add the chopped silverbeet along with a big squeeze of lemon and cook, stirring regularly until it has wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. When it has cooled, squeeze out any remaining liquid.
Into the large bowl containing the onion mixture, add the silverbeet, nutmeg, beaten eggs, ricotta, feta, chopped herbs, lemon zest, salt and a few big grinds of black pepper, as much as you fancy. (I am not the pepper police!)
Mix well, taste and check for seasoning.
Smooth this mixture into a large oiled baking dish, I use a 3 litre rectangular Pyrex dish.
Preheat the oven to 180 C if you are cooking the dish immediately.
Polenta Crust
For the polenta. Heat the water in a medium saucepan until it just starts to boil. Using a whisk, slowly pour in the polenta, continuing to whisk. This is important as it avoids lumpy polenta.
Change to a wooden spoon, turn the heat to low and continue to cook the polenta, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes. Add the butter and 1/4 cup of the kefalograviera, it should be of a spreadable consistency.
Remove the polenta from the heat and immediately, spread it over the silverbeet, herb and egg mixture.
Let cool for ten minutes. Sprinkle the remaining kefalograviera cheese on top, and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown on top. (You can also place the pie in the fridge if you are cooking the next day.)
Let the pie rest for about 15-20 minutes until it has set a little bit.
Serve with a green salad, or roasted veggies.
Cooking Notes: silverbeet is also know as chard. If you cannot find Kefalograviera, use Pecorino, Parmesan or Gruyere.

A Cheergerm creation

http://www.dianekochilas.com/when-greeks-do-corn/

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefalograviera


Roasted baby carrots with cumin for Easter

Upon smelling a new perfume I was given for my birthday, Kid 1 made the following comment.

Kid 1: It smells like melted Easter eggs.

I am not sure whether to be displeased or not. I envisage myself swanning around attracting small chocolate-loving children and perhaps even the E.B. (Easter Bunny) himself. Not sure if that’s what the perfumier was aiming for when creating this parfum. ‘Eau de Chocolate Easter Egg.’ Give it a whirl, it’s all the rage in the Easter circles.

If you are looking for side dishes to accompany your Easter feast this coming weekend, please consider this wee recipe idea. Calling anything ‘baby’ that you are about to devour and consume has always creeped me out a bit. However, there is no escaping the fact that young veggies are usually the most tender and sweet. Let alone, super cute. Just like a real life human baby! Rest assured, only vegetable babies were harmed in the making of this dish. (That’s OK, right? Told you the whole thing is just, well, odd.)

These carrots were sweet with lovely undertones of the earthy cumin. Tender and juicy, I am positive that all, including the Easter Bunny, will love them.

ROASTED BABY CARROTS WITH CUMIN

WHAT YOU NEED
1 bunch baby carrots
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbl butter, unsalted
Salt
Pepper
2 tbl white wine

WHAT YOU DO
Preheat oven to 180C.
Scrub or lightly peel the carrots.
Place in a foil package, add the cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Dob the butter over the carrots, add the wine and close the foil package.
Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender.
Try it with https://cheergerm.com/2015/03/08/a-cheergerm-gluten-free-roasted-vegetable-lasagna/ or https://cheergerm.com/2015/01/02/millefeuilles-aux-tomates-et-lentilles-and-a-lady-crush/ or https://cheergerm.com/2014/11/09/a-side-of-herb-polenta-bake-and-an-aside/

A Cheergerm Creation


Heirloom carrot autumn salad

Hello sweet little baby carrots in varying shades of orange and purple….lying there beguilingly, coaxing me into wanting to eat you all up.

Sorry, that may have come across as a tad creepy. These beautiful heirloom carrots, purchased from the Agrestic Grocery in Orange on our recent country sojourn, were just crying out to be paired with the local feta cheese from the Second Mouse Cheese Company. One of my nicknames as a child was Mouse (as well as Electric Rat and E Rattus, charming I know) so how could a mouse not buy this mousy cheese?

The bloke behind the counter informed us the cheese had recently won an award against other fetas at a cheese show (somewhere) and that it was a bit controversial due to the fact that this feta cheese is made of cows milk, instead of sheeps or goats milk. (Rumblings and bumblings, a possible cheesy fisticuffs, oh my!) How did it taste? Tangy, smooth, a wee bit crumbly, salty with background notes of the grass that those sweet cows had chowed down on. It certainly deserved it’s wee gold medal.

This salad is a grand accompaniment to whatever takes your fancy. The carrots are oven roasted in a coating of spices and topped with zesty feta and sweet, lemony, crunchy pomegranate seeds. A beautiful addition to our Easter feast this year.

WHAT YOU NEED
1 bunch baby orange carrots, scrubbed and topped
1 bunch baby purple carrots, scrubbed and topped
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tbl olive oil
50 g Feta to garnish
1/2 a pomegranate, seeds scatter over
Extra virgin olive oil to garnish

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C.
Place carrots on tray lined with foil and toss with with salt, spices and olive oil.
Roast for 20-30 minutes until carrots are tender.
Place on a pretty dish, dob the feta over the dish.
Squeeze and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over and add a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

We served this salad with grilled haloumi, lamb chops marinated in ras el hanout, and a big plate of roasted kumara and potato.

A cheergerm recipe

What the heck is an heirloom carrot you ask? In brief, heirloom vegetables, fruits and flowers are grown from seeds passed down from generation to generation. Heirloom seeds rely on natural pollination from insects or the wind.

These often unusual looking, multi coloured fruits and vegetables are more likely to be grown by small suppliers and are often organic. By buying or growing heirloom produce, you are helping to support crop biodiversity and assist in helping to keep these older varieties from becoming extinct.

http://secondmousecheeseco.com.au

https://www.facebook.com/theagresticgrocer?fref=ts


Hot cross buns, a love letter to mum

Growing up, our mum baked bread. The aromas of rising yeast and mouthwatering smells of fresh loaves, speak to me of childhood. The warm crust slathered with butter and homemade jam was the best bit. These memories transport me back to our paddock surrounded ‘Billenya’ house in Holloway Road.

Of course, the bread was mostly wholemeal. My plea of ‘Mum, can’t I just have store bought white bread?’, must have driven her nuts. Rarely do my own sproglets have white bread. My, we really do turn into our mothers.

Mum also made her own hot cross buns. Having children of my own, helped me to truly appreciate what our own mother did for us. Not everyone is lucky enough to have mothers as emotionally and physically present as she was. (Even when things were less than idyllic.) As time has passed, some friends have sadly lost their mums. I am feeling very thankful for mum today.

Apart from pizza, yeast based products have never been my forte. That is about to change. On this slightly cloudy and drizzly day, with Easter on the horizon, something in me longs for the aromas of mums kitchen. These hot cross buns are a homage to her. In every knead of the dough, I pour in gratitude for all of her hard work, commitment and for always feeding her four girls so well and healthily.

No matter how much we may have moaned about it.

Hot cross buns

Light, airy with a lovely warmth from the spices, these were absolutely delicious, scoffed down with a cup of tea. Ambrosia.

I have slightly adapted an SBS website recipe by halving it, adding a touch of spelt flour and using less fruit. I have also provided the full recipe quantities if you would like to make about 20 buns. (See after the recipe.) I made 9 out of this quantity.

I only added sultanas as the kidlets don’t like a lot of dried fruit, but feel free to add some chopped apricots and currants if you like. (Maybe 50g or so.) Keep in mind the 1 hour and 45 minutes resting time.

YOU NEED
200 ml milk
60g butter
2 cups bread (high protein ) flour
1/2 cup wholemeal spelt flour
40g raw caster sugar (or regular)
1 x 7g yeast sachet
120g sultanas
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
Zest one lemon
1/2 beaten egg

Cross paste (this makes too much for 9, its the full amount for 20 buns)
1/2 cup plain flour
75 ml sunflower oil (I used rice bran oil)
65ml water

Spice glaze
1/4 tsp mixed spice
70g raw caster sugar
50ml water

HOW YOU DO IT
Place the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low to medium heat and stir until combined. Let cool slightly.
Place the sugar, yeast, flours, sultanas, cinnamon, mixed spice, salt and lemon zest into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir to combine.
Stir in the egg, then the milk mixture.
Knead for 9 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and please in a warm and draught free spot for 1 hour or until doubled in size. (This process is called ‘proving’.)
Knock back the dough and divide into 9 or 10 equal pieces. Knead each piece for 1 minute until it is a smooth ball.
Place in rows on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm, draught free spot for 45 minutes or until dough doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 220C (conventional, 200C fan forced)
To make paste for the cross, place flour, oil and water in a bowl and stir to a smooth paste. Place into a piping bag with a small nozzle (or a small ziplock plastic bag with the tip cut off) and pipe a cross shape onto each dough ball.
Bake for 10 minutes at 220C (conventional, or 200C fan forced) for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 200C (or 180C fan forced) and bake for a further 9 minutes or until golden.

Make spice glaze while buns are baking, put mixed spice, sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, dissolving sugar. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Brush buns generously with glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter.

A tip from one of my lovely sissies: If your house is draughty, try proving in the microwave! (Just don’t turn it on).

To make 20 buns:
400 ml milk, 120g butter, 4 cups bread (high protein ) flour, 1 cup wholemeal spelt flour, 75g raw caster sugar (or regular), 2 x 7g yeast sachet, 240g sultannas, 3 1/2 tsps cinnamon, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp salt, zest one lemon, 1 beaten egg.
The paste recipe is the same, for the glaze, use 1/2 tsp mixed spice and 125 g caster sugar.

Go here for the original recipe: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/hot-cross-buns-0