Lime & Coconut Cake {gluten-free + dairy-free}

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Sometimes it pays to keep your mouth shut. Make that all the time. But I like honesty; I prefer to be truthful. So I say it like it is. Or rather, I say what I’m thinking. Not always a good plan.

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We were out for coffee, two other gal pals and I. One, a dietician, works giving advice to those who are suffering with obesity or malnutrition or other issues, such as food intolerances. The other two of us stay at home mums with a penchant for baking. The dietician made a request for any tried and true gluten-free recipes, to which I may have replied, “I have a few…” and our other friend said, “It’s easy. I just replace the regular flour in any cake recipe with GF flour.”

“It’s not that simple,” I blurted (in my best condescending know-it-all voice). And regretted it immediately.

“Isn’t it?” she replied innocently. “I do it all the time”.

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And she was right, of course! This is her recipe, as given (verbatim): “One cup SR flour, one cup sugar, one cup coconut, one cup coconut milk. Mix and bake in moderate oven till you smell the ‘ready cake’ smell ;)” I was sceptical, but excited to see if it would work. As soon as I could, I went and bought some GF flour and followed her instructions (with my head already full of tasty alterations). At exactly 55 minutes, the ‘ready cake’ smell began to waft through the house, and I removed a lovely, moist, lightly browned coconut cake.

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Lime & Coconut Cake {gluten-free + dairy-free}
I have had fun playing around with the ingredients a little, but really wanted to keep it simple for sharing here on the blog. As a result, the only changes are a reduction in sugar and the addition of some lime zest and a simple glaze.

Ingredients
1 cup self-raising GF flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 cup coconut milk
Zest of one lime, finely grated

For the glaze
½ cup pure icing sugar, sifted
2 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Desiccated coconut, extra
Lime zest, extra

Method
Preheat oven to 180degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease and line a small loaf tin (base measures 7 x 3 inches).

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Pour into prepared loaf tin and bake in a moderate oven for 50 – 55 minutes, or until risen and lightly golden brown. Allow to cool in tin for a few minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Make up glaze with ½ cup icing sugar and 2½ teaspoons lime juice. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut and ½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest.

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Choc-Chilli Brownie Cookies

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“The greatest marriages are built on teamwork. A mutual respect, a healthy dose of admiration, and a never-ending portion of love and grace.” ~Fawn Weaver

It’s not often your friend gets married on your birthday. (Yes, my birthday. The big 4-0!) And we got invited. But it’s not like we live in the same state, let alone the same city! What to do? Attend their party or my own? Wouldn’t that be a way to celebrate in style? A toddler-free interstate trip! I did consider attending, but no; the budget wouldn’t stretch to accommodate it. Instead, I’m making cookies. Cookies for a friend’s wedding. I’m hoping she likes them.

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This particular friend and I met when we were both single and preparing to go work overseas. Once on the field, we were able to meet up several times, as we lived in neighbouring countries. And whilst my sojourn lasted only two years, she stayed for nine. While I learned a smattering of street Thai, she became fluent in Khmer, was (is) able to read it, prepare sermons and preach in it. Her commitment to the ‘least of these’ was inspirational, and I followed her progress with interest.

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Imagine my surprise then, when, on a quick visit home, over a coffee and while we were discussing her plans for ‘repatriation’ and the possibility of marriage, she suggested cryptically that she might bring a husband home with her when she returned. Huh?! Long story short, she had fallen in love with a co-worker, they were already dating, and had plans to get married and settle in Australia together. Fast forward eighteen months, and it’s happening now!

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There were any number of cookie recipes I could have chosen as a gift, but this one seems appropriate. I’m told that although the groom is Cambodian, he was given a Thai name and spent most of his life living near the Thai-Cambodian border. With that in mind, these cookies were designed and inspired by the five-fold complexity of Thai flavours: sugar for sweet, lime for sour, chilli for spicy, a sprinkling of sea salt, and last but not least, lots of dark chocolate for bitter.

A toast to the happy couple and the bright future that is ahead of them!

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Choc-Chilli Brownie Cookies
Adapted from ghirardelli.com via londonbakes

I’ve made several batches of these, and can say with some authority that 70% dark chocolate works best, for that soft brownie texture. Also, making them with GF flour is totally an option, as is making them without chilli. Let me know your favourite versions in the comments!

Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients
200g (8oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
150g (2/3 cup) dark chocolate chips
60g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 medium eggs
120g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
Zest of one lime, finely grated (approx 2 teaspoons)
20g (just less than 3 tablespoons) white spelt flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

For dipping (prik glua)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, crushed
1 teaspoon dried/roasted chilli flakes

Instructions
Combine lime zest and caster sugar in shallow dish; rub in with your fingertips to ensure they are well incorporated. Set aside.

In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, gently melt together the chocolate and butter until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. In a separate bowl with a whisk or electric mixer, beat together the eggs and lime-infused sugar until thick and creamy and then fold in the melted chocolate. In small bowl, sift together flour and baking powder; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in dark chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for about an hour and then preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with non-stick paper or a silicon mat.

Scoop dough by level tablespoon, then roll into balls. Dip the balls in shallow dish with sugar-salt-chilli mixture; swirl to coat. Place balls on lined baking sheet; flatten slightly. Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes until firm and shiny. Allow to set a little before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Honey, Oat and Cardamom Cookies {aka The Perfect Dunking Biscuit}

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Baby, it’s cold outside! A huge storm came through the other night and threatened to tear the roof off! We had toys still outside, and clothes on the washing line, and I was convinced nothing would be there in the morning. Thankfully, I was wrong. The air is washed clean and I can even see some blue sky, but it’s terrible cold. Cold, that is, for the driest state in the driest continent. It’s winter, and it’s time for some serious comfort food. The perfect dunking biscuit suits the occasion… a riff on the classic Anzac biscuit… filling the house with the warm aromas of toasted coconut, cardamom and orange zest.

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But we won’t be calling these Anzac biscuits, because did you know the Anzac biscuit recipe is heritage listed? According to Wikipedia, “the term Anzac is protected under Australian law and cannot be used in Australia without permission; misuse can be legally enforced particularly for commercial purposes. There is a general exemption granted for Anzac biscuits, as long as these biscuits remain basically true to the original recipe and are both referred to and sold as Anzac biscuits and never as cookies”.

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Apparently, the restaurant chain Subway tried to add Anzacs to their menu in Australia, but after receiving orders from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to bake the biscuits according to the original recipe, discarded the attempt because it wasn’t cost effective.

Take home lesson? You don’t mess with tradition.

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And yet I have. These are Anzac bikkies with a twist. They are Anzacs for those who live outside of the Commonwealth, and who can’t source golden syrup. They are minus golden syrup, plus honey, brown butter, toasted coconut, spices and orange zest. They taste pretty fine, I think you’ll agree.

Perfect for dunking in a hot cup of tea or coffee on a cold and wintry day.

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Honey, Oat and Cardamom Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients
1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
¾ cup shredded coconut, toasted
1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Finely grated zest of one orange (approx 3 teaspoons)
Pinch salt
125g butter
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ tablespoons boiling water

Directions
Preheat oven to 160deg C (??deg F) and line two flat baking trays with baking paper. To toast the coconut, spread out in a large frying pan and cook slowly over medium heat, stirring constantly until coconut turns from white to golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In a heavy-based saucepan, melt butter slowly, then when completely liquid, raise heat and allow to froth, stirring constantly. As froth subsides, butter will begin to stick to pan, creating a brownish substance on the surface of the pan. This is good. The butter should now have a nutty aroma. Once the butter has browned, take off heat immediately, before it burns. Set aside to cool slightly. Mix baking soda with water, add to butter with honey, and stir until honey is melted.

In a small bowl, rub the orange zest into the sugar with your fingers, creating a fragrant sugar. Add dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl, make a well and then stir butter and honey mixture into dry ingredients. Mix to combine thoroughly. Place rounded tablespoons of mixture on lined baking tray, flatten slightly with your fingers. Bake in a slow oven (160deg C) for 18 – 20 minutes (I prefer them on the softer side, but for a crisper cookie, bake for the full 20 min). Allow cookies to cool on trays for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Easy Microwave Lemon Curd + Lemony Wholemeal Pikelets {toddler approved}

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We grew up with a large lime tree out the back. My mother made countless Lemon Meringue pies with the juicy, yellow fruit. It was only the other week that I realised that it was indeed a lime tree, and not lemon! We were over at the in-laws picking ripe, yellow limes off the ground and the zesty scent brought back memories of living in the tropics, far from any city… the drone of the diesel generator, the shrill song of cicadas and being lulled to sleep by the croaks of mating cane toads in the lagoon.

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I haven’t made a Lemon Meringue pie in years (it’s about time), but there is nothing I love more than to use excess lemons to make a pot or two of curd. And this recipe makes it so easy! With a handful of ingredients, a glass bowl, a whisk and a microwave, you are minutes away from having your own batch of thick, super-fresh, creamy, tangy lemon curd (or lemon butter, if you prefer). I have been using this recipe for years now, ever since a house mate made it and I begged her to share the recipe.

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Although lemon curd can be utilised in a variety of recipes, ours rarely lasts that long! I have been known to dip a spoon into the jar and lick it clean, but this time decided to throw together a batch of healthy little pikelets that the toddler approved (without the curd, please Mummy), and the remains of which I am planning to stack a la pancakes in the morning for breakfast! Whether enjoyed on fresh pikelets or just eaten straight out of the jar, lemon curd is a classic that just doesn’t get old.

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Easy Microwave Lemon Curd + Lemony Wholemeal Pikelets {toddler-approved}

For the lemon curd:
The original recipe called for a vague “juice and rind of 3 lemons” but after making it several times, I’ve landed on the precise quantities to get the tang I enjoy, and included them here.

Makes about 2 cups of curd

Ingredients
1 cup (220g) white sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 – 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind (to taste)
125g unsalted butter, melted

Directions
In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, lemon rind and melted butter.

Cook in the microwave for one minute intervals on HIGH, stirring after each minute until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. In my 850watt microwave it usually takes 4 x 1-minute intervals to get from this:

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to this.

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Remove from the microwave, and pour into small sterile jars. Allow to cool overnight, before storing for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Adapted from allrecipes.com

For the pikelets:

Ingredients
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup raw sugar
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1 egg
2/3 cup milk, soured with 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice

Directions
Firstly, add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the milk and set aside for 10 minutes to cobble.

Meanwhile, whisk together the dry ingredients and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients, add egg and most of milk, gradually stir dry ingredients into milk mixture, beat until smooth. Add enough of remaining milk to give a smooth, pouring consistency. Mixture will thicken on standing. It may be necessary to add a little more milk to the batter as pikelets are being cooked. Drop tablespoons of mixture onto hot greased pan; when bubbles appear on top, turn, cook briefly on other side.

Eat while still warm, topped with a generous dollop of lemon curd.

Makes about 20.

Adapted from ‘Best Recipes from The Weekly’ – Published by the Australian Women’s Weekly

Double-Lemon Shortbread

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When you see him eating cake for breakfast, you know you’re onto a good thing. Being the proud baker that I am, it makes my heart sing when Alex enjoys what I create in the kitchen. It can be a bit of a hit and miss thing because we tend to like different things. But I know it’ll be a hit if I use citrus. And citrus is something we have a lot of right now!! We are blessed to have relatives with not just one, but two well-laden fruit trees right now, and we are making the most of it!

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On weekends, the boys go visiting, and come back loaded with what the toddler calls, “yum, ball!”. I couldn’t agree more! There is no end to delicious treats one can make with lemons, limes and mandarins. But limes are where my head is right now. There have been two batches of Lime and Ginger Marmalade, and the same of Lime Curd. This is the second time I’ve made this shortbread in as many weeks, and there’s sure to be a batch or two of cookies, as well.

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If this lemon glazed shortbread looks familiar, that may be because it looks like the much-loved Lemon Bars, a popular and classic bakery item in the United States. But this recipe, clipped from an old magazine, has a few *slightly* different characteristics. Baked in round tins rather than square, and topped with a drizzle of lemon icing instead of a shower of powdered sugar, it got rave reviews from the two men who enjoy citrus desserts the most; my husband and my Dad.

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Double-lemon shortbread {made with lime}
You will need two to three medium lemons or limes for this recipe.

For the shortbread
1 ½ cups plain flour
1/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
165g butter, softened

For the lemon topping
2 eggs
½ cup caster sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder

For the lemon glaze*
½ cup icing sugar
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 deg F (160deg C). Grease and line an 8-inch (20cm) round pan with baking paper, with two long strips placed crossways, overhanging the edge to assist with removal later.

From lemons, grate 1 teaspoon peel and squeeze enough juice to measure 1/3 cup.

In food processor, combine 1 ½ cups plain flour and 1/3 cup icing sugar. Cut butter into small pieces. Add to flour and sugar mixture and blitz until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Tip out into a large bowl, and by hand, knead butter into flour mixture until well blended and mixture holds together. Pat dough evenly into lined cake pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned; cool in pan on wire rack briefly.

Meanwhile, in bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until thick, then add baking powder, lemon rind and juice and 2 tablespoons flour.

Pour lemon mixture over shortbread and return to oven. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until lemon mixture is set. Cool lemon-topped shortbread on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely in the pan.

Once cool, slide a knife around the edge under the paper to loosen shortbread from pan. Lift shortbread holding the longer pieces of foil and place gently on a large cutting board. Using a hot, sharp knife, cut into 12 even wedges. Remove shortbread to wire rack and drizzle with lemon glaze. *You may find that there is some icing left over; in my books, that’s a bonus!

Enjoy for breakfast, and stay tuned for my personal favourite version of this dessert. ;)

 

Wicked Burgers

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Aren’t holidays grand? A little something extraordinary in the ordinary-ness that we call life. We had only been away for one night since March last year, but after celebrating a year of parenthood, we decided to take up the offer of some good friends and visit them in the tropics for a week before they retire to colder climes. Though costly, it was worth it; we have made great memories, and know that we are able to plan and enjoy holidays together as a family – something that wasn’t known till proven.

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While there, we experienced so many things, too many to describe here. There were big, busy days, but in between we tried to plan some rest days so that bubs could catch up on sleep, and so that I could just do nothing. Hubby tended to use those days to go for long hikes in the bush by himself. Perfect! On one of those rest days, we’d met up with some PNG wantoks for lunch, and afterwards decided that there was still enough time left in the day to wander on up the coast and explore the Daintree.

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So while the toddler slept, we drove on up past Port Douglas and through Mossman, oohing and aahing at the stunning coastal scenery on the way. We found the ferry, paid two dollars per person to cross over and back as pedestrians, and then returned to Port Douglas for tea. Hungry tummies told us it was burger time, and we were not disappointed by Dave’s Take Away joint. They had a curiously named Wicked Burger on the menu, and we ordered two (and some pasta for the little man).

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These are that. I was so impressed that I noted down the ingredients on a napkin and brought it home with me. It’s been such a lovely, sunny and relaxed weekend that it seemed perfect to enjoy these together as a wrap up on Sunday evening. As Elise of Simply Recipes is known to say, these are more an idea than a recipe, but nevertheless delicious. If I wasn’t so pressed for time these days, I’d be making my own beef burgers and possibly a homemade aioli, but today it was quick and easy.

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Wicked Burgers

Burger buns
Beef patties
Bacon
Cheese slices
Tomatoes, sliced
Lettuce, shredded
Avocado
Jalapeno peppers
Garlic aioli
Tomato sauce (ketchup)

Grill the bacon slices, fry up the patties, lightly toast the hamburger buns.
Slice the cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and avocado, crack open the jar of jalapenos and spoon out some aioli.
Assemble while everything is fresh and /or hot.
Enjoy!

Homemade Muesli Bars

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It won’t surprise you to learn that I spend a fair amount of my down time drooling over foodie blogs and web sites. Sometimes I read them properly; sometimes I just browse for recipes. The smitten kitchen, one of the most popular foodie sites on-line, is always worth a read. Turns out Deb and I have a few things in common. She is married with one child, a son. And her husband is also named Alex. On a recent post she admitted to asking, “What would Alex eat?” before deciding what to make.

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I decided that was worth a try, too. After all, I make a lot of cakes. Which is not terribly good for my waistline, because most of the time, I end up eating them for breakfast, or giving them away, because Alex doesn’t really get that excited. But whenever I make biscuits, shortbread or slice, he really does! Perhaps because he’s a grazer and cookies are snack-size. Or perhaps it’s because they’re more likely to include chocolate. Either way, it was time to set my culinary ambitions on lunchbox snacks.

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So I made these bars last week, and have been pleased to see them disappear into Alex’s bag every day before he leaves for work. Win! They’re kind of healthy, but on reflection, a lot of stuff on this blog is. Plus, they hold together a lot better than most muesli bar recipes out there, which makes them very portable. These bars are like breakfast on the run… Indeed, if you have made my Maple Toasted Muesli you will no doubt have all the ingredients already stocked in the pantry, and be ready to go!

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If you’re feeling really crazy, you could even drizzle the cooled bars with melted chocolate. I think I will… next time… after all, that really is what Alex would eat!

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Homemade Muesli Bars {no-bake}
The original recipe was made in a slice tin, but I found it too thin and crunchy. This way, made in a smaller tin, it’s thicker and therefore more chewy.

Ingredients
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sesame seeds (I added in a few poppy seeds, for good measure)
1/2 cup sunflower kernels
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup sultanas, dried cranberries and chopped dried apricots
125g butter
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar

Method
Grease and line a 5cm deep, 23cm x 23cm (9 x 9 inch) baking pan with baking paper. Cook oats, coconut, wheat germ, sesame seeds, sunflower kernels and pumpkin seeds in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a bowl. Set aside to cool. Stir in sultanas and other dried fruit.

Cook butter, honey and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, without stirring, for 7 minutes or until mixture forms a soft ball when a little is dropped into ice-cold water. Add to dry ingredients. Stir until combined.

Spoon mixture into pan. Use a large metal spoon to press down firmly. Allow to cool. Cut into squares. Store in a foil-lined airtight container for up to 7 days.

Adapted a little from taste.com.au

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