Monthly Archives: March 2014

A totally wheat free cake: almond, pistachio and lime cake

I only realised this was wheat free when I was half way through making it. I do eat wheat. Lots of it, but I realise not everyone does or can, so I hope this helps some of you.

Despite the lack of any sort of flour, this cake does rise quite a bit, thanks to the four eggs. And it feels light. But it’s packed with protein so it’s quite filling and certainly you don’t get that huge blood sugar crash after eating it. Which can only be a positive thing (I’m choosing to only see it as a positive thing).

So in essence this is a light, moist, delicious cake which I think you’ll find hard to overeat. It needs no adornment or accompaniment other than a cup of strong coffee or, for you English peeps, a cup of tea.

It’s from the Donna Hay magazine, incidentally, which is my favourite foodie magazine.

You need:

150g unsalted very soft butter

165g caster sugar

The finely grated zest of a lime (equivalent to one tablespoon but I never measure it)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

4 eggs, at room temperature

180g ground almonds

130g ground pistachios (I ground these myself in my electric grinder, stuff of five minutes)

Honey for drizzling a-top

What you do:

Oven to 160C.

Put the butter, sugar, lime rind and vanilla extract in an electric mixer and whisk for 10-12 minutes, until the mixture has turned pale and creamy. It’s a heck of a lot of mixing isn’t it? But there you go. Then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the mixture as you go. This is the hardest bit.

Now take the bowl out of the mixer and manually, fold through the ground nuts. Spoon into a 2lb loaf tin which you have lined with baking parchment and bake for 1hr to 1 hr 10mins until a test comes out clean. Cool completely in the tin then spoon some honey over the top.

 

Blueberry and yoghurt loaf cake

Ever since I started making my own yoghurt, I’ve looked out for recipes involving yoghurt. Prior to last year, I’d never used yoghurt in cakes. I’d used it, with much success, in pancakes, but cakes? No.

Last year I found an amazing recipe for a very plain, but none the less delicious, lemon yoghurt cake. I’m not reproducing that one here because although the actual cake was delicious, the topping it recommended, was not. Using yoghurt in a cake makes the cake really moist and light, making it a bit more ‘shop bought’ in texture, which sounds mad, but sometimes I do like the texture (if not the taste) of supermarket cakes.

This cake is a Donna Hay recipe. It’s light, easy, delicious, wonderful. And sometimes you need something easy, yet spirit lifting. Especially on a Monday. I hate Mondays. I find it so difficult to wrench myself from the bosom of my family and send my children out to school and me out to work. Cake makes it all better, and if it’s made of yoghurt and blueberries, that can’t be bad, can it?

You need:

150g unsalted butter, melted or very very soft.

220g caster sugar

2 eggs

140g thick plain yoghurt

Zest from a small lemon

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

225g self raising flour

125g blueberries

icing sugar to dust.

This is what you do:

Oven to 160C. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, yoghurt, lemon zest and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine (I use a food mixer with a whisk attachment but it’s fine to use a wooden spoon/hand whisk and some muscle). Now add the flour and whisk until well combined Gently fold through the blueberries and spoon into a lined loaf tin of about 22cm x 8cm x 7cm. Smooth the top and bake for about an hour, bit more if it’s still very moist. A cake tester should come out clean. Cool and dust with icing sugar.

Another favourite cake recipe that uses yoghurt in the icing is here and it’s delicious.

Posh “Pot Noodle”

This isn’t of course, anything like pot noodle. I’m not even sure why I call it that other than, when there are left overs, I put it in a glass Weck jar/pot and it’s so easy to reheat and before you know it you have something ludicrously tasty and nutritious to eat.

My children love this. The original recipe calls for chilli (1 red, sliced), salad onions and pak choi. You can still add the former at the same time you add the star anise, if you wish, and the latter when I add the ‘veg’.

It’s wonderfully fragrant, really amazing smelling, the kind of soupy meal that feels like it’s doing good just by raising a bowl of it to your nose and sniffing it in. If you’re going out for a family day out/walk (or even, you know, by yourself) it’s great to make in advance, stick in the fridge, and within minutes of coming home you can have something to eat.

Its original name is Fragrant Chicken Hot Pot and it’s adapted from a Waitrose magazine recipe from last year.

Serves 4

2 teaspoons of vegetable oil

4-6 free range chicken thigh fillets (or still on the bone see note later) cut into chunks

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 star anise

1 tablespoon of light brown muscovado sugar

500ml chicken stock

1 tablespoon of fish sauce

Some green veg: spinach or French beans, whatever you like: a big handful.

Two nests of Vermicelli or other noodles (or more than that if you want a more noodley experience)

This is what you do:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then fry the chicken for about 10 minutes until browned.

If using whole thighs on the bone (see my note later) do this for the same amount of time but to make sure the chicken is cooked simmer the actual soup for longer than the ten minutes recommended below.

Now stir in the garlic, star anise (and chilli if using). Fry for a couple of minutes, then add the sugar and stir around for a minute or so until melted.

Now add the stock and fish sauce, cover the pan and simmer for ten minutes – fifteen if you’re using chicken thighs on the bone.

Whilst this is simmering, prepare the noodles according to your instructions. The vermicelli nests I use just have to sit in boiling water for five minutes, so are simplicity itself.

Now add any veg you are using and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, depending on what you are using. Taste and add more seasoning if needed (I never need to). Serve! It’s delicious. Any left overs can be stored in the fridge for a day or two and just reheated well making for a really lovely, quick, meal.

A note about the chicken. Ready filleted chicken thighs make this more expensive, but easier. I tend to use thighs on the bone with the skin on. You could either skin and fillet them before cooking or, what I do, is just take the skin off (otherwise it makes the dish way too fatty) and cook the thighs on the bone. I think it also adds to the flavour. Then when cooked, I take the chicken out of the stock (whilst the veg are cooking, say) and take off the meat whilst trying to not scald my fingers. This is also a good way to make sure the chicken is cooked as chicken thighs vary in size and you need to be sensible.

Because I make this to last over two meals, I can get away with just taking off the outer meat to get a meal ‘for now’ and then when the meat has cooled down, I strip it all off the bone, add it to the broth and then store ready to go, like that, in the fridge.