Monday, 29 April 2013

Sonjas's 90th Birthday party!

Yesterday was a very special day in our house - it was Sonja's 90th birthday. This is Sonja...

Looking good for 90, Sonja!

In honour of this wonderful event I thought it was a good excuse to bake a cake, especially as Kaylah was throwing a full party for the birthday girl complete with presents and singing happy birthday. I had a recipe from the Marian Keyes cook book that I had been wanting to play around with for some time so I took the opportunity. The recipe was for a Coconut Milk Cake. Sounded great, although with 300g sugar and a couple of cups of flour in it, it was not ideal for the needs of our family. Never fear, I tinkered and played, and came up with a cake that I was seriously happy with! It was a total leap of faith, and one of those cooking moments where you get everything combined, throw it in the pan, put it in the oven and cross your fingers...the baking gods were smiling upon me this time and the cake turned out moist, fluffy and very moreish!

Here are a few pictures of the process. 

I used a star shaped pan just to make it a little more 'birthday partyish', but a regular tin would be just fine!

Next, a couple of pics of the cooked cake and the ganache topping

And finally, a picture of the finished product. Sadly, we got into such a rush to eat the cake, that I forgot to take a picture of the cake looking all beautiful and finished, so I only have a photo of the cake once we were finished demolishing it!! 


This cake was the grand finale after a yummy roast dinner with my wonderful brother and his gorgeous fiance. A really nice dinner was had by all, and although I slightly mistimed the roast lamb (at least it guaranteed we all ate our vegetables, and there was no risk of the lamb being overcooked!), it all turned out really well. Here are the kids tucking in...

I will post the recipe for the cake, frosting, and a few details of some elements of the dinner shortly - I just need to translate some of my own writing on the notes I wrote while baking the cake. Stay tuned!! 

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Apple, Feijoa and Raspberry Crumble

Saturday's are fantastic! We had a really nice morning meeting up with our great friends at the Taniwha Festival at Bastion Point to go and look at the kites that were flying, then Kaylah had a play-date while I did the groceries with Mia...note to self that there is a reason why I try to avoid doing the groceries on the weekend - it's manic in there!

We usually make Saturday takeaway night, and tonight it was Thai on the menu. Had my usual seafood salad - spicy, light, yummy! With eating gluten and dairy free, takeaway options do become a little more limited so we generally end up getting indian, thai or gluten free/dairy free pizza (gluten free bases and no cheese!). Thai does use a bit of soy sauce which tends to have gluten in it (pretty rare that a restaurant uses tamari sauce!) but we try and either get dishes that have no soy sauce in them or ask for no soy sauce to be added. 

Eating out is always a bit of a gamble because with a lot of gluten containing flavourings it can be very difficult to tell if they really have been left out, so it's a case of either always preparing your own food, or just accepting that sometimes we might just be eating something we didn't want. Thankfully none of us are coeliac so we don't have to worry as much. 

On the menu for dessert was a yummy little concoction that I have been overusing lately due to the sudden glut of feijoas and apples we have in the garden. Easiest way to use them? Feijoa and apple crumble! I've been adding raspberries as well just for depth of flavor and the combination is delicious. 

I forgot to take a photo of the prep of the apples - kind of happens when you have a 4 year old weilding a knife beside you chopping up feijoas! But the apples I just chopped into 1-2cm cubes (skin on) and simmered in water, a little squeeze of lemon and a splash of vanilla essence until just soft. You can leave this stage out if you don't mind, or prefer, you apples a little crunchy. With the soft feijoas, the quick-cooking berries and the crumble topping which browns very quickly, this crumble does not go in the oven for long. If the apples are pre-cooked it means that the texture of the fruits will all be consistent, but if you prefer a bit of crunch just throw it all in together and then sprinkle the crumble on top. Alternatively you could cover the crumble with foil so that you can leave it in the oven longer and just remove the foil for 10mins or so at the end to give the crumble its crunch.

A little picture of the frozen berries being sprinkled over the feijoas and apples - so pretty! You can use fresh raspberries if you have a spare kidney you are willing to sell to pay for them. If I could I would eat raspberries all day long, but sadly at $7 or $8 per punnet it is not an option! Frozen do the job just as well and there are some really good organic options available in your supermarket freezer if you want to go the extra mile for your health. 

Crumble on and all ready to go in the oven...

Time to eat!!!

Crumbles are such an easy dessert to make, and this one ticks all sorts of health boxes - it's gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, free of refined sugar, but not free of yumminess!

I've written up a recipe but really, with a dessert like this, it's really all about your own personal tastes so play around with the quantities and flavours if you're that way inclined (I cannot use a recipe without tinkering with it!). Let me know if you have any other great ideas for this dessert.

Apple, Feijoa and Raspberry Crumble

For the fruit base:
  • 2 cups Feijoa flesh (not sure how many feijoas, very dependent on the size of feijoa you have)
  • 4 medium apples, cored and diced into 1-2cm pieces (skin on preferably for nutrients, but whatever you prefer). 
  • 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tsp raw honey or sweetener of choice (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
For the crumble topping:
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (you can use desiccated, I just prefer the look and texture of the shredded for this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (you could use half coconut oil and half butter if you are not dairy-free)
  • 1tsp allspice
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • 8 dried dates 
  • 1/8th cup boiling water (you can use 6 Medjool dates if preferred in which case you do not need the boiling water)

1. Preheat oven to 180C (160 fan-bake) and get out an ovenproof dish (approx. 25x15cm, but just whatever you have is fine).
2. If you are using the dried dates for the crumble topping, pour the boiling water over them and leave to soften for about 10 minutes.

3. To make the fruit base, dice the apples and put them in a small pot with the 1/2 cup water, lemon juice, vanilla and cinnamon.
4. Bring to a simmer and cook until softened (to your liking). 

5. While this is cooking, chop your feijoas and scoop out the flesh. Add to your baking dish.
6. When the apples are ready add them to the feijoas in the baking dish along with the lemon zest. I just put the honey as three blobs on top of the fruit mixture as it will melt in the oven, but you could add it in with the apples if you wanted it pre-melted.
7. Sprinkle raspberries over the top of the rest of the fruit.

8. To make the crumble topping put the walnuts, almonds, coconut oil, allspice, nutmeg and dates into a blender. blend until combined (does not have to be smooth, as a bit of nutty crunchiness really adds to the mixture).
9. Tip into a bowl and mix in the shredded coconut. The mixture will end up a kind of moist lumpy, crumbly kind of consistency.
10. Tip crumble mixture over the fruit mixture to evenly cover. 
11. Put into the preheated oven for approximately 15-20 mins, but keep an eye on it as the crumble mixture can brown very quickly. 
12. Remove from the oven and dig in! We just ate it as it was, but you can have it with any additions that take your fancy.


Friday, 26 April 2013

The First Post!

I have a problem..... I wanted to start this blog but have been putting so much thought into the first post that I have not just got off my bum and started! I think the 'first post' has become larger than life in my head so I am just going to write some stuff down, and then think about what to say later.

So here it goes - the first post and I promise to give a little more information on the what, when, where, why and how of this blog very soon once I have made it past this mental hurdle!

Dinner tonight - got so busy chatting to a wonderful friend that by the time we got home it was getting late. I then made the fatal mistake of doing a 'quick' check of my emails while the kids settled into being back home and found a whole bunch of phone messages for work that I needed to deal with before the end of the day, being Friday and all. So by the time I even though about starting dinner it was quarter to six and I had NOTHING ready! Thank goodness for my secret stash of 'emergency' pre-made gluten/ dairy free pizza dough (just add water), and some lamb mince in the fridge. 30 minutes later we had an interesting dinner of lamb and eggplant middle eastern pizza with salad and steamed veges.

I was in such a rush to get it made (and eaten, as we were all starving by the time it got to the table) that I didn't take any photos. Pretty happy with the efforts though, and the kids even ate it, including the eggplant which, when Kaylah asked if it was olives (which she loves) I told her it was. Sneaky mummy, but if I'd told her it was eggplant she would have picked it all out!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend - I think we should have midweek public holidays more often!