Gluten free lime yoghurt cake and awash in tears

Our house was awash in tears on the morning I made this cake. Our mostly calm before school routine was offset by self-disappointment, childlike hurt and a more grown-up, deeper sadness.

All surfaces seemed awash with liquid. Bench tops, faces, cupboards and eyes reflected a watery glow. We were in fear of drowning. Even in the car, tears continued to flow and school drop off was a sombre and quiet occasion.

Upon returning home, I was relieved to see our house had not been swept into the valley and that Noah and his Ark were not loading our dogger friend, cockatoos and other assorted wildlife on board.

From the fruit basket these gem like, green, freely given, home grown organic limes greeted me. They went a little way to soothing my aching head and worn out from weeping eyes. They spoke to me in limey voices (‘hello guv’nor!’) of a sweet something, that would greet my citrus loving progeny upon their return from school.

There is nothing like the smell of lime to put some pep in your step and allow a breath to be taken. This lovely cake is tangy from the citrus and Greek yoghurt with an extra fruity hit from the olive oil. The first recipe trial was fine, the second tweaked version you find here, is damned fine. And not a salty tear in sight.

Note to self, never leave a cake and the camera alone with The Yak, not even for a moment.

GLUTEN FREE LIME, YOGHURT AND OLIVE OIL CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup full fat Greek yoghurt
2 eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice (this is roughly the juice of one lime)
Zest of one lime
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste, vanilla bean powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
210g gluten free flour (1 cup/140g gf plain flour, 1/4 cup/40g almond meal, 1/4 cup/40g brown rice flour)
3/4 cup raw caster sugar (or white caster sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder

Topping
1 tbl brown sugar (I used raw caster sugar)
1 tbl extra lime zest (I used the zest of one lime)

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a 22cm springform tin with baking paper.
Mix all the wet ingredients including the lime zest in one bowl until well combined. (If using vanilla essence or paste add it here.)
Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If using vanilla powder, add here.)
Pour the combined wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl and using a wooden spoon, mix until just combined.
Pour into the prepared baking tin and cook for approx 40-45 minutes. The cake is ready when it has browned on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
When the cake is completely cool sprinkle with the topping mixture. This is delicious served with a big dollop of yoghurt on the side.
Feel free to use lemons if you can’t find limes.

A Cheergerm adaptation of a recipe from the blog Souvlaki for the Soul which was in turn adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe.

http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/2011/05/lime-yoghurt-and-olive-oil-cake

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Green beans in olive oil (Loubyeh bi Zaht)

A standard purchase from our local Hornsby Growers Market is a bag of green beans. Sometimes they are added to a curry, sometimes they are blanched and tossed together with fennel and orange to make a vibrant salad. Sometimes I will just stare at them for hours at a time, pondering the true beauty of their verdant, glossy, bean-like attributes. But mostly likely, they will end up in this dish.

I like to fancy that I am a teeny part Lebanese, not through blood but through osmosis. A dear friend (who’s hubby is of Lebanese origin) gave me Abla Amad’s cookbook, ‘The Lebanese Kitchen’ about 12 years years ago. Abla started her restaurant in 1979. It soon became a Melbourne dining institution and is still serving simple, traditional style Lebanese food today. Having never eaten there, it is definitely on my list of things to do. Anyhoo, it has been a pleasure to trawl through this book and experiment with the variety of tasty dishes that grace the pages.

My next Middle Eastern connection was making friends with yet another amazing chick through mothers group. Our sons were born around the same time and she is also of Lebanese heritage. The tip of caramelising the onions for this dish came from her mum. (Just saying, but this good friend has yet to cook me a Lebanese feast…..I am still waiting.)

The Yak and myself love this dish served with baked or roasted potatoes and veggie burgers. It’s equally good with kafta (lamb mince patties), grilled chicken or haloumi. Other great pairings include quinoa dishes, stuffed eggplants or capsciums and flatbreads. It is equally yummy served hot, cold or warm.

Mopping up the velvety sauce at the end with whatever carbohydrate you fancy is the best bit.

Green beans in olive oil (Loubyeh bi Zayt)

YOU NEED
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
500g green beans, top and tailed and cut into 2cm length
1 1/2 tsps ground allspice
1 tin (400g) diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

HOW YOU DO IT
Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and sauté the onions until they are a dark golden brown. Cook over medium heat, this takes about 10-15 minutes.
Add beans and stir, then add allspice and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add tomato, salt and pepper.
Replace lid and cook for 30 minutes over low heat, cooking until beans are tender. (I usually take the lid off for the last 10 minutes). I taste for seasoning about half way through, you may need a touch more salt.

You can make this dish without tomatoes but I never have. I love allspice but if you are unsure, try 1 teaspoon to start with. Seriously folks, take the time to caramelise the onions. It adds a depth of flavour that was missing when I used to sauté the onions lightly.

Adapted from The Lebanese Kitchen by Abla Amad