Kiwifruit, Lime and Coconut Slice {gf}

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It’s July already and I’m just now thinking about St Patrick’s Day. Typical. Significant dates, events or holidays always seem to catch me off guard. I even forgot our wedding anniversary last year! And yet these dates are annual reminders to us of the beliefs, traditions, and relationships that are important to us, and are worth celebrating! They are often accompanied by special food and drink, for instance, green food or Guinness on St Pat’s, chocolate at Valentine’s and roast lamb on Easter Sunday.

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I rarely plan ahead enough to cook special dishes for special occasions, but now I have a plan! Why not come up with ideas for celebration food throughout the year, and then I’m waaay ahead when that holiday comes round again. Like with this kiwifruit, lime and coconut slice. Of course, the Irish may not have eaten kiwi fruit, actually I’m sure they did not, and there’s no potato or Guinness in sight, but there is green. And green food, though common in fruit and vegetables, is rarely seen in cakes.

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A few months back, limes were super-cheap and I *had* to make something with them before the price returned to normal. First I made some kiwifruit, lime and coconut muffins, and they were pretty good! Then I made a version of lime bars, which were awesome, and I have used the same gluten-free shortbread base here. Top that with an easy, tangy kiwifruit jam and sticky, sweet coconut topping, I think we have a contender for St Patrick’s Day… three months too late, but who’s complaining?!

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Kiwifruit, Lime and Coconut Slice {gf}
Layers upon layers of sweet goodness, first the buttery shortbread, topped with homemade jam, and finally a coconut meringue. So, green! So good!

Makes 16

Ingredients
For the jam
500g (1lb) kiwi fruit, halved
¼ cup (110g) caster (super-fine) sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chia seeds

For the base
2/3 cup (75g) plain (all-purpose) gluten-free flour
¼ cup (35g) brown rice flour
¼ cup (56g) gluten-free cornflour (cornstarch)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
100g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened*
1/3 cup (75g) caster (super-fine) sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 egg yolk

For the coconut topping
2 egg whites
½ cup (110g) caster (super-fine) sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups moist coconut flakes or shredded coconut
To serve: pure icing sugar, sifted

Method
To make the jam, scoop flesh from kiwi halves with spoon into stainless steel pot; discard skins. Mash flesh until smooth. Stir in sugar and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add in lime juice and chia seeds, and give it a good stir. Transfer to a container and refrigerate to chill (1-2 hours). Jam can be made 2-3 days ahead.

For the shortbread base, preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20 cm (8 x 8-inch) square baking pan and line with baking paper, leaving 5 cm overhang.

In small bowl, whisk together gluten free flour, rice flour, cornflour, salt, and baking powder. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or with an electric hand beater, cream butter, sugar and lime zest together on medium-low speed, until a thick paste forms, about 30 seconds. Add egg yolk and beat. Add dry ingredients and beat until a dough forms, about three minutes. Press into prepared baking dish.

Bake crust in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until very lightly golden.

Whisk egg whites and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and whisk to soft peaks (2-3 minutes). Whisk in vanilla, then fold in 1 ½ cups coconut.

Spread ½ cup kiwifruit jam over the cooked shortbread base, and then the coconut mixture evenly over the top of the jam. Bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden and set.

Cool completely in tray, dust with icing sugar, then cut into bars and store in an airtight container until required. Slice will keep for 1-2 days.

Notes
Inspired by Gourmet Traveller

By all means, feel free to sub in another jam if you prefer… Or make your own chia jam with any type of fruit or berry – The Kitchn with show you how!

*To make this slice dairy-free, use vegan margarine instead.

 

 

Chocolate and Raspberry Self-saucing Pudding {vegan, with gf option}

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It’s definitely winter. The weather is completely and utterly freezing (for these parts), there are rumours of snow, and all I can think about is greasy hamburgers and chocolate self-saucing pudding. I should probably take up running, to get moving, you know – to keep warm. But who wants to go outside? I’d rather curl up in front of the fire! And eat warm, fattening comfort food – preferably something I don’t have to cook. The hamburgers are easy to find, but the pudding I may have to make myself.

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Not that it’s a problem. When you’ve been making chocolate pudding since forever, and know the recipe like the back of your hand, there’s not much that can stand between you and your desire. That and butterscotch pudding were stock standards in boarding school; cheap and filling and always crowd-pleasers. We rarely have dessert these days, but I recall as a teenager, weighing up my options – should I have seconds, or leave room for dessert? (Answer: ALWAYS leave room for dessert!)

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These days I prefer to eat my dessert for breakfast… at least that way I know I’ll burn the calories! Recently, I spied a packet for chocolate and raspberry self-saucing pudding at the shops, and knew I just had to make it from scratch! Only this time, it would be vegan-ised, and made with wholemeal spelt flour and raw cacao. Not quite your old-school pudding, but pretty darn close! Rich and gooey, and offset with tart raspberries, this is winter indulgence of the highest order.

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Chocolate and Raspberry Self-Saucing Pudding {vegan, with gf option}
A modern twist on a classic, this pudding is comfort food made health(ier) with spelt flour and raw cacao.

Serves 4

Ingredients
60g unsalted butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup (125ml) non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (165g) brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup (150g) wholemeal spelt flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons raw cacao powder, or unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup (185g) brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup (130g) frozen raspberries
Coconut ice cream, to serve

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degF). Grease a 1.5L (6-cup) capacity ovenproof baking dish.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, 2 tablespoons of cacao and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Melt the coconut oil with the milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the vanilla, brown sugar and flour mixture, stirring to combine. Lastly, fold through raspberries. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish.

Combine the brown sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons cacao and sprinkle evenly over pudding batter. Slowly pour 1 cup (250ml) boiling water over the back of a large metal spoon to cover pudding (the spoon prevents the water creating huge craters in the batter). Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the top is firm.

Stand for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Dust the warm pudding with extra cacao and serve immediately topped with your favourite ice cream (and extra raspberries).

Notes Adapted from Delicious

*Any type of flour will do – regular wheat flour or your favourite gluten-free mix.

Chocolate + Tahini No-Bake Muesli Bars

best2_adj_sml2 Without further ado, may I present… wait for it… the most perfect, light and crispy, chewy chocolate tahini muesli bars!! We made them, loved them and then realised that they were our recipe, tweaked and returned and tweaked again! I had to laugh! A blogger friend tweaked my recipe for Peanut Butter Oat Slice, then included a version of it in her self-published cookbook, which I then made and loved, and tweaked again. Here it is under a different name, slightly healthier perhaps, but oh, so good. tahini1_adj_sml2cacao1_adj_sml3mix1_adj_sml2 Like David Lebovitz, it took me a while to nail this, the perfect lunchbox snack. I couldn’t figure out the pros and cons of baking versus not baking my muesli bars, but aware that we already had muesli biscuits and a homemade muesli bar recipe on the blog, I was looking for something a little lighter, a little crispier, and found it when I discovered a muesli (granola) bar made with puffed rice cereal. The presence of puffed rice creates a lighter product, one that I prefer to your standard oat-based bar. drizzle3_adj_sml2slice1_adj_sml2 There is no reason to turn on the oven at all; the natural glue created with honey and tahini is all you need to bind these bars together. I definitely recommend adding in those optional extras… they make these so much more nutritious! Yes, these are for chocoholics, but let me tell you, the presence of cacao (or cocoa) does not make them unhealthy! But perhaps the drizzle of chocolate across the top does! Either way, they are delicious, and also nut-free, which just quietly, I consider a major coup! close1_adj_sml3 Chocolate + Tahini No-Bake Muesli Bars These light and crispy chocolate and sesame bars are a coup for nut-free lunch boxes everywhere! Makes 10 large, 20 small Ingredients 2 cups quick oats (use gluten-free oats if necessary) 1 ½ cups puffed rice cereal, such as Rice Bubbles ¾ cup chopped dried cranberries or other dried fruit 2 tablespoons raw cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder ½ cup desiccated coconut ½ cup honey* ½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste) 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Optional extras: 1 tablespoon chia seeds 1 tablespoon sesame seeds 1 tablespoon flax seeds 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds ¼ cup cacao nibs 75g dark chocolate, for drizzling Method Preheat oven to 180degC/350F. Grease and line a 23 x 23cm (9×9-inch) baking tray with baking paper, allowing a 3cm overhang on two opposite sides. Place oats, coconut and seeds in a large roasting pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes. Place all dry ingredients, including your optional extras, into a large mixing bowl. Measure honey, tahini and butter (or coconut oil) into a saucepan and stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Add honey mixture to oat mixture and work quickly to mix until all ingredients are well coated. Tip into prepared baking tray and press down with spatula (then your hands, then a marble rolling pin!), just to make sure it is tightly packed. Refrigerate until firm and then remove from tin using baking paper handles. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in short bursts in the microwave, and spoon into a small, snack-sized zip-lock bag. Snip off a tiny bit of one corner, and use this to drizzle the muesli bars with melted chocolate. When chocolate has set, cut into bars. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat. Notes Adapted from Friendly Food for Chocoholics and Once Upon a Chef *For a vegan option, try using rice malt syrup instead. Aussies might like using golden syrup.

Vegan Lime and Coconut cupcakes {gf}

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It was time to celebrate … My sister-in-law had just completed the very last exam of many in the long years of training to become a medical doctor, now general practitioner. Typically, she was acting like it was ‘no big deal’ but we knew better, so we gathered round to help her celebrate. Lunch with the family, and then a walk in the park, alternately spotting koalas and sheltering from the rain. The only hint that the day was at all significant was her throwaway line, “The first day of the rest of my life”.

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As it so happens, the in-laws have a very productive quarter-acre block, and we came home with a bag of citrus. Every winter I seem to add a new citrus recipe to the blog, and this year is no different, though the recipe may seem familiar. There is something to be said about re-visiting an old recipe. I’ve done it before, and I’ll probably do it again. You get so familiar with a recipe, that it’s just a simple matter of taking one thing out and adding another, and before you know it, there’s a new take on a classic.

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These cupcakes are that. They are a riff on my gluten-free Lime and Coconut Cake, which I’ve wanted to make with buttermilk for a long time, but not had the opportunity. They are also topped with a luscious vegan buttercream, a step up from my previous lime glaze. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good glaze. But buttercream just takes these babies to a new level – at least it does when one can operate a piping bag (I’m still working on that, okay?)! Cupcakes for the first day of the rest of your life – today.

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Vegan Lime and Coconut Cupcakes {gf}
These lime and coconut cupcakes are perfect for everyone, but especially so for those with food allergies.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
1 cup plain (all-purpose) GF (or regular) flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
¾ cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
2-3 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

Lime buttercream icing
½ cup vegan margarine (Nuttelex), softened at room temperature
1 ½ cups pure icing sugar, sifted
5 teaspoons lime juice
½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest

Toasted coconut, to serve

Method
Preheat oven to 180degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease muffin tins with cooking spray or line with cupcake papers. Add vinegar to coconut milk and allow to sit until curdled (soured), about 10 minutes.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and then add soured milk, coconut oil and lime zest. Stir until well combined. Spoon into muffin tins and bake in a moderate oven for 23 to 25 minutes, or until risen and lightly golden brown. Allow to cool in tins for a few minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream, place softened margarine in a large mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat until creamy. Gradually beat in the icing sugar. Slowly beat in the lime juice until it reaches desired consistency. Continue mixing until the icing becomes thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the zest and mix to distribute.

Top cooled cupcakes with buttercream and decorate with toasted coconut. Serve immediately!

Notes
Adapted from my Lime and Coconut Cake and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Lentil and Cauliflower Curry

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There are very few savoury dishes on this blog. Even fewer are vegetarian. Oh, some of them only have a bit of bacon or ham, and for several years I was under the misapprehension that that was ‘close enough’. But my delusion was soon to be shattered, as my husband informed me that he does not relish eating bacon, ham, or any other type of processed meat for that matter. He wondered whether perhaps I could put some truly vegetarian dishes on the menu. I accepted the challenge to widen my repertoire, and this unassuming, mild vegetable curry was the first to get the thumbs up.

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Neither Alex nor Theo enjoy the spicy curries I prefer. Their attitude to spice brings back a favourite memory from when I lived in Thailand. Of the staff at our office, half were Thai and half were ‘farang’ (foreigners). Most days we would buy a plate of noodles or whatever curry was on offer down the street. But this day my Thai colleagues voted to buy lunch from the market. The market was five minutes’ walk in the midday heat, and two of them offered to take orders and bring them back. Everything was made to order, even down to how many chilies (one, two, three, many) you wanted.

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I thought they would have known me well enough by then to know that I liked my curries quite hot. But they had forgotten, and assumed a level of spiciness commensurate with less adventurous farang. Once they arrived back, we all huddled around the small lunch room table and proceeded to dig in. “Aroy mai?” Is it delicious? They asked, as they did every day at lunch. Usually I would respond politely with “Aroy! Aroy mak” Delicious, very delicious! but today my response was to tease them with a Thai saying. I replied, “Mai aroy. Mai pet, mai aroy”. Not delicious. If it’s not spicy, it’s not delicious!:)

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How about you? Are you a big fan of spice, or do you prefer your curries mild, like this one?

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Red lentil and cauliflower curry
This curry may not be spicy, but we think it’s delicious!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
1 tablespoon oil or butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 leeks, sliced
1 teaspoon curry powder, more to taste
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
500g cauliflower, cut into small florets
125g green beans, chopped into 1-inch pieces
125 (¾ cup) fresh or frozen green peas
1/3 cup red lentils
1 large vegetable stock cube, crumbled (I used Massel brand)
2 cups boiling water
1/3 cup raisins or sultanas
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander, plus more to serve
1 fresh lime, cut into quarters, to serve

Method
Heat oil or butter in a large heavy based pot, add garlic, leeks, curry powder, cumin and turmeric, cook for about 2 minutes or until leeks are just soft.

Add cauliflower, beans, peas, lentils, stock cube, water, raisins and coriander to leek mixture. Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender but not mushy.

Serve over steamed rice topped with extra chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime.

Notes

Vegan chocolate cupcakes with maple buttercream icing {gf}

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

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Sometimes you take the road less travelled, and sometimes you just take the looooong road. Like with this recipe; I had a goal in mind, but took several detours to get there. The journey began at Easter, when the shops were closed and we were all out of eggs. I wanted to do some baking but you really need eggs to make banana bread… or do you? Without too much thought or preparation, I  made my melt and mix banana bread without eggs. And ended up with something resembling a rock.

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Fast-forward a couple of days, and I am madly doing research on vegan banana bread. With a tweak here and a tweak there, I have a recipe that looks like it might work. There’s chocolate on chocolate on chocolate – how could it not be delicious? Sure, you might think that with double chocolate banana bread you can’t go wrong. But believe me, you really can! It was a very oily batter, and heavy even as I spooned it into the pan. I had a bad feeling about that cake, and you guessed it: Flop-central!

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Although temporarily beaten, I was determined to succeed. Like Thomas Edison, I said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” A quick search on the internets, and I discover a recipe that might work. Noting the use of vinegar, I suddenly remember a recipe my mum used to make. Wacky Cake used no eggs; only flour, sugar, bicarb, cocoa, oil, vinegar and water. Ditch the bananas; let’s make Wacky Cake! No eggs, no gluten, no dairy, no nuts. Am I excited? Just a little.

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with maple buttercream icing {vegan, gf/df}
Defying all odds, we have made a cake without the usual suspects… and it’s delicious!

Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
1 cup plain (all-purpose) GF flour
½ cup brown rice flour
¾ cup soft brown sugar, firmly packed
4 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
¼ cup sunflower oil (coconut oil could also work)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
¼ cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup water

Maple buttercream icing
½ cup vegan butter (Nuttelex), softened at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups pure icing sugar, sifted
5 teaspoons pure maple syrup
Few drops rice milk

Method
Preheat oven to 180degC/350F. Line 12 regular (½ cup) muffin tins with muffin papers. Sift together dry ingredients over sugar in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together oil, vinegar, applesauce and vanilla extract in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry and then pour 1 cup water over everything. Stir gently to combine until flour streaks disappear. Do not beat.

Spoon batter into muffin papers and bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream, combine softened butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat until creamy. Gradually beat in the icing sugar. Slowly beat in the maple syrup, then add milk until it reaches desired consistency. Continue mixing until the icing becomes thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Top cooled cupcakes with buttercream and decorate as desired. Serve immediately!

Notes

Adapted from All Recipes

If you don’t have or can’t find vegan butter, a maple glaze will suffice. Maple Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons maple syrup, 2 tablespoons milk. {thank you, Joy the Baker}

Swiss chard, feta cheese and egg pie

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Did you ever win the lottery? No? Me neither! But I did receive an exciting phone call the other week telling me that my application to The Great Australian Bake-off had been successful, and would I bring in two of my favourite bakes to an audition next week? Would I what? Of course! What an honour and a privilege. I met so many lovely people also vying for a place on the show. All were amateur bakers, some more adventurous than others, but all eager to show off their skills and have a chance at fame.

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Only four were selected to go on to the next stage, and I was not one of them. Although unsuccessful on that front, the whole experience has made me reflect on my habits as a baker. Am I content with easy dishes that provide no challenge, or am I prepared to go out on a limb and learn new skills that will take my baking to the next level? There were several bakers at the audition who had made their own pastry, and regardless of their skill level, impressed the judges with their can-do attitude.

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After seeing what they had attempted, I was inspired to try my hand again at making pastry from scratch. I found this vegetarian tart recipe in a left-wing political mag while at a march protesting the government’s treatment of asylum seekers… but that’s another story. For now, this tart is everything; the buttery crust, the slightly bitter chard, the salty feta… For a relative newcomer, the pastry is fool-proof. Don’t miss your chance to win the lottery – make your own pastry! You won’t be sorry.

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Swiss chard, feta cheese and egg pie
A soft, crumbly pastry that melts in your mouth, topped with wilted chard, salty feta and eggs.

Serves 6

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red onion, sliced
500g Swiss chard (silver beet), cut into 2-cm pieces
4 eggs
200g feta cheese, crumbled
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pastry
250g (1 ½ cups) plain flour
150g unsalted butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
2-3 tablespoons iced water

Method
To make the pastry, place flour and butter in food processor bowl and put in freezer for 10 minutes. Pulse ingredients a few times until just combined. With the food processor still running, add egg yolks and just enough iced water so that the mixture is on the verge of coming together. Do not over beat, as this will make the pastry tough. Remove from bowl and use lightly floured hands to quickly form dough into a ball. Flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and let rest in fridge for 30 minutes.

Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan set over high heat, add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until soft and just flavours the oil. Add Swiss chard to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until it wilts and softens. Season well with salt and pepper, leave in the pan and set aside to cool. (I like to place it in a metal colander at this point, just to let the excess moisture drain away).

Preheat oven to 220degC/430degF/Gas 7. Line a rimmed pizza tray (diameter 30cm) with baking paper. Roll out pastry on a sheet of lightly floured baking paper to form a circle about 35 cm in diameter, trimming away any uneven bits. Transfer pastry circle to lined baking pizza tray. Roll the edge over to form a 1 cm border, then roll over again.

Spoon the Swiss chard mixture over the pastry. Crack eggs into a bowl and prick the yolks with a fork. Pour eggs over Swiss chard so that they are evenly distributed, then scatter feta over the top.

Drizzle remaining oil over pie and cook in oven for about 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and the top of the pie is just starting to turn brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into slices to serve.

Notes

Recipe from the Green Pages, Lifestyle Winter 2009