Streusel cake (gluten and dairy free)

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I thought I would share this rather successful experiment with you. With increasing numbers of friends who avoid/are allergic to gluten and/or dairy, this was my attempt at making a dessert that everyone could enjoy. I began with a blueberry muffin recipe which I joyfully chopped and changed till I had something I thought might work – both in terms of universal-friendliness-of-ingredients and deliciousness. I am sure it could do with a little refining, however, even this ‘first draft’ was a very acceptable dessert contribution. Fingers were licked. I imagine that you could continue to mess around with the different flours used to suit your preferences, I think I was particularly limited by the amount of almond meal I had at home that day! Anyhow, perhaps it will inspire you to do something new with a recipe (I find muffin ones quite forgiving if you don’t change the fat or sugar content too much) – or do some baking for a friend!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup light olive oil (or another light flavoured cooking oil of your choice)
1/2 cup brown sugar – loosely packed
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1 2/3 cup self-raising gluten free flour
1/3 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
3/4 cup frozen blackberries

Streusel topping:
1/3-1/2 cup quiona flakes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup buckwheat groats

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180oC, line a square cake tin with baking paper.
2. Whisk the oil, sugar, eggs and milk to combine.
3. Stir the dry ingredients through wet mix gently.
4. Pour most of the cake batter into the cake tin, reserving perhaps 1/2 a cup.
5. Stir the frozen berries through the remainder of the batter.
6. Dot the berries over the top of the rest of the cake batter – try to achieve even coverage!
7. Lastly, blend the remaining streusel topping ingredients and sprinkle these over the surface of the cake.
8. Bake for about 40 minutes – check on it to ensure it doesn’t brown too quickly around the edges and protect the top with foil if the centre needs further cooking.
9. Enjoy warm with greek yogurt or a dollop of mascarpone cheese.

Plum Clafoutis

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Reverting back to patterns of childhood, I have been doing the grocery shopping with my mum for the past six months. Moving back into a busy home, we slipped into a rhythm where the shopping became our thing, time together each week. Gradually, as we shopped, weeks passed and the summer stone fruit began to leave the shelves – these Teagan plums were some of the last. I was drawn to their dusty, frosted blue. Beautiful both in themselves and as an ingredient, I felt compelled to cook with them. I had had a general awareness of this very much French dessert but had never eaten or made it. I’ve said before that my recent delight in baked dessert is very much recent, so that probably has something to do with clafouits’ absence from my repertoire! After some Internet research I settled on this one from Honest Fare as a guide to work from. Here follows my suggested variation. Gabi from Honest Fare suggests that you can refrigerate any leftovers, which is helpful to know. However, my suspicion is that there will be no need for concern! The busy, hungry household I mentioned earlier made very swift work of it!

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs vanilla
2-3 tsp lemon zest (to taste!)
1/4-1/2 tsp nutmeg (to taste!)
6 teagan plums
1 cup raspberries
sprinkle of brown sugar

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 175oC.
2. Combine the milk, sugar, eggs, flour, almond meal, salt, vanilla, lemon zest and nutmeg in a tall jug. Use a handheld blender (like a Barmix) to blend the ingredients well (this step could also be done in a bench top blender or by whisking really, really thoroughly!).
3. Pour about 1-2cm of batter into the bottom of a greased baking dish (I used a glass pyrex pie dish). Bake in oven for about 8-10 minutes so that the mixture becomes firm enough to hold the fruit up!
4. Rinse, and chop the plums into quarters, removing the stones. Scatter these, and the raspberries, artfully over the just-cooked-base. Pour the remaining batter over the fruit and return to the oven.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes, longer depending on your oven. The batter will puff up around the plums and turn a golden colour round the edges. Check that it is set through before removing from the oven and serving.
6. Whipped cream, ice cream, custard even greek yoghurt would be perfect served alongside this light fruit dessert. Enjoy!

A little (cheesecake) celebrating

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The mini cheesecake above was made by adapting this recipe by Bare Root Girl – made tiny so it could be shared between the two of us as we celebrated one year of marriage (As an aside: I would love to keep working with these cute little pans and come up withe a range of pint-sized desserts for moments when only a few need feeding but a treat would be nice!). Food manages to establish itself as central to special occasions almost unconsciously … birthday: cake, Christmas: pud (and feast!), Thanksgiving: turkey and pumpkin pie, Valentines Day: chocolate … we almost can’t help ourselves (no pun intended!). Somehow, it seems that eating allows for the fullest participation as we actually em-body, consume, assimilate, special foods symbolising the celebration by taking them into ourselves. Without thinking it all through, we just know that when its time to commemorate, party, toast, honour and remember – there needs to be some thing fit to eat. And, so, when it was time to celebrate the 12 of October one year on, Asher’s favourite dessert was in order – Berry Cheesecake. I will probably keep tweaking the recipe (I do like yoghurt, nuts and berries, I just don’t love coconut), but this was approximately what I did on the day …

Ingredients:

Base:
1/2 c. raw almonds
5 dried dates
1/4 t. sea salt
1 tbs (or 15g) melted butter

Cheesecake Filling:
2 1/2 tsp gelatin
1/2 the juice of one small lemon
1/2 cup full-fat plain greek yogurt
90g light coconut cream
30g cream cheese
45g honey
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 vanilla bean
1/8 tsp sea salt

Berry Topping:
1/2 cup frozen berries (I used a mix of blueberries and raspberries)
1/2 a small lemon, juice & zest
1 tsp honey
1 tsp arrowroot flour

Method:
1. Roast almonds in the oven at 220°C for 10-15 min. Blend almonds, dates, butter and salt using the food processor till fine. Press the mixture into the base of a 10cm diametre springform pan, lined with baking paper. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so it becomes firm.
2. Add the gelatine and lemon juice to a small bowl or enamel heating vessel and then place this in a slightly larger saucepan of simmering water. Stir the mixture till the gelatine is dissolved.
3. The rest of the filling ingredients need to be combined in the food processor. While the processor is going, carefully pour the gelatine mixture in through the top and keep processing till the mixture is fully blended (shouldn’t take longer than another 30 seconds or so).
4. Pour over the base and leave in the fridge over night to set!
5. To make the berry topping, combine all the ingredients in a little saucepan over a medium heat, keep cooking till the berries have begun to disintegrate and the whole mixture starts to thicken. If you would like it smooth to spread over the cheesecake, it can be blended using a stick blender or food processor or you can leave it chunky. Depending on the look the berry topping can be poured over just before serving or it can be given time to set in the fridge too!
6. Enjoy!

Crispy-crumble for dessert

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This recipe is from Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread and Wine. The lovely Jill gave it to me because she (Shauna) loves food and is married to a musican … two things we share. I enjoyed the book and thought I would have a go at making this very simple recipe (the first one in the book!). It is a pretty generous recipe, quite flexible and seems like it would work with lots of variations (think different fruit, think different nuts …). It was the first recipe I cooked in a very pretty baking dish that the same lovely friend gifted me with a few weeks ago. It was shared round our little table with friends. What a lovely collision of good things!

Ingredients:
2-3 cups frozen blueberries
1 cup chopped plums

Crisp/Crumble topping:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds (the original recipe used pecans)
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup brown sugar (the original recipe used maple syrup)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (I just did a sprinkle)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
2. Pour the berries into a smallish baking dish. Chop the plums and add to the dish too.
3. Chop the almonds so they are half-way between fine and chunky.
4. Mix the topping ingredients together in a bowl.
5. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the fruit.
6. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or till the topping is golden and the fruit bubbling. I did about 25-30 minutes and then left it in the fridge and did the last 5-10 minutes just before serving.
7. Serve with vanilla bean gelato for dessert, or perhaps some yoghurt or custard for a more homely, everyday treat!

A new way to do Blueberry Muffins

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This recipe is slightly altered from one I found in Ros Dobson’s Wholefood Kitchen cookbook. Relatively low in fat and sugar (it is still a muffin recipe) it has lots of fibre and complex carbohydrates. I really like blueberries so it caught my eye. I also love that as I cooked it I learnt a new trick.Keep an eye out at step 5!

Ingredients:
250ml buttermilk
65ml ricebran oil
375g wholemeal flour
50g oatbran
1 heaped tablespoon baking powder
1 small green apple
200g frozen blueberries
1 egg
75g brown sugar
75g caster sugar

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line a muffin tray with muffin papers.
2. Combine the buttermilk and oil in a jug, set aside.
3. Choose a large mixing bowl and mix the flour, oatbran and baking powder together.
4. Wash and grate the apple (discard the core), add this to the flour mixture. Toss through the flour to coat the apple pieces (hands work well, probably better than a spoon)
5. This the the revolutionary step! Add the blueberries now. Coat them in the flour mixture too. This means they are encased in their own little flour barrier and, wait for it, do not turn your muffin purple! Amazing!!!
6. In a separate smaller bowl, beat the sugars and egg till thick and smooth. Combine this with the buttermilk and oil, again, beat till all ingredients are combined.
7. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mix together only till all the flour has been incorporated, muffin mixture does not like to be over-worked
8. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full of mixture and bake till golden and cooked through (about 20 minutes).
9. Enjoy as they are or with butter or cream cheese!

Mulberry Jam

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We were invited to a friend’s house to pick some of their mulberries. Mulberry trees are an important part of growing up in Australia. They are where you go to find food for your silk worms. They provide sweet purple snacks that require you to strip down to undies to pick and eat them. The fruit has also been utilised as war paint (remember, mum made you take your t-shirt off so she did not have to try and get the fruit stains out later – so your chest is ready for purple adornment).  My grandma had one in her yard we used to visit after swimming in the pool (already in our swimmers, not much damage possible when we were about to jump back in again!), my house had one, my husband’s house had one – they really were part of the childhood landscape.

Anyhow, we were invited to a friend’s house to pick some of their mulberries and so we did. We also had yummy mulberry smoothies and delicious home-made flat bread (that you can cook in an a sandwich press! Amazing!) and fruit and ice cream slice. The food was lovely and the catching up was too but we were left with mulberries that needed cooking … so it was Sonya to the rescue.

She has made jam before. Lots. I have too, but only one batch and it was almost toffee not really jam. Here is what I learned about jam making.

Ingredients :
875g mulberries
800g sugar
1/3 frozen lemon grated

Method:
1. Ideally freeze the mulberries first so you can snap the stalks off easily. Pick through the mulberries and make sure they are all good and any insects excited about the fruit have been removed!
2. Add the berries, sugar and lemon to a big saucepan. Simmer gently and mash the fruit with a potato masher.
3. Bring the boil till the jam begins to thicken, keep taking a small amount out and testing to see how thick it is. We were going for thick and syrupy, not gel-ed.
4. When the mixture is less runny and slightly darker, but is still liquid … that is about ready.
5. We sterilised our jars by dipping them in boiling water – just for home use, we did not aim for commercial sanitisation!
6. Using a homemade baking paper funnel (a revolution according to Sonya!), fill the jars with jam. Seal.
7. Alternatively, make bread and eat it hot out of the oven with the new jam and butter … that’s what we did! Either way, find some way to show off your productive and domestic labours and share it with those you love!

I know that it is clichéd but making something like jam can provide such a huge sense of achievement, the glossy bottles all in a row, something beautiful you made and can share. I really would recommend finding a friend and having a go!

Semolina Berry Cake

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This is a recipe I’ve been meaning to try for ages. I had promised to bake for a friend’s Nutrimetics party and also had the chance to shop in our local IGA where there is an adventurous range of flours, so semolina came home (I limited myself to one new flour) and I dug through our much loved family collection of Super Food Ideas magazines … finally finding it! Those who tried it loved it, the recipe was shared and the cake enjoyed! Hopefully others might enjoy it too. The recipe is melt and mix (no creaming of butter and sugar) so it is very quick and easy!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups fine semolina
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
185g butter, melted
250g tub natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
2 cups mixed fresh berries (I would add them frozen, that way the cake has less chance turning purple!)
1/2 cup flaked almonds (these I didn’t have, I just chopped whole almonds instead)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C (a moderate oven).
2. Combine the semolina, sugar and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
3. In a medium sized heatproof bowl melt the butter. Once you have allowed it to cool slightly, mix the yoghurt and vanilla essence into the same container.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix to combine.
5. Fold the berries lightly through the mixture. Smooth the surface and sprinkle the almonds on top, pressing lightly into the cake mixture.
6. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes or till the skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
7. The cooked cake should be allowed to rest for 10 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack or serving plate.
8. It was delicious served alone but would also be lovely with some cream, yoghurt or some ice cream and perhaps some fresh berries!