autumn

potato samosa with spicy mango chutney

24th March 2024

I grew up in a small town in North Queensland called Home Hill. Home Hill is a sugar cane growing area; the surrounding sugar cane fields were our playground. In the burning season, when the farmers would light up the fires at dusk, the flames would reach meters high – there was something very entrancing and beautiful about it! Your first sight of a sugar cane fire is hard to forget; it’s a sight, and the smell is intrinsically North Queensland. As the cane burns, ash gets blown throughout the towns of the Burdekin. It is known as ‘black snow’, and as children, we would run around trying to catch the long black strands before they fell to the ground, keeping them intact to see who could catch the longest strand. My dad grew up cutting cane as a young man, it was very demanding work, but the pay was good, ultimately enabling him to marry and purchase his shop. 

To cross over from Home Hill to the bigger town of Ayr, we had to cross the Burdekin Bridge, a long bridge running over the Burdekin River. The Burdekin Bridge, also known as the Silver Link – is one of the longest multi-span bridges in Australia. As a child, I remember how the river would overflow in the rainy season, flooding the shops and the main street of Home Hill. The river would flow fast and wild, swirling below when you drove over it. At a later stage, a dam was built. I spent my childhood swimming in that river with my school friends despite having more than one crocodile sighting!

Ayr, in all honesty, wasn’t much more extensive than Home Hill, but its main street was more prominent and had much more exciting shops. When my mother had to run errands that could not be fulfilled in Home Hill, we would drive over that bridge into Ayr. For a young child, this was always an adventure! Despite the boring shopping part, I would happily tag along to stay behind in the car with a freshly baked savoury pastie from the local bakery.

This brings me to this recipe!

Each time I make these samosas, my whole being is whisked away to that moment of biting into one of those warm, flaky, buttery-filled, savoury pasties. 

I often crave savoury pastries, which are impossible to find without meat, onion, or garlic. These samosa always satisfy that craving and are a perfect entertaining food, receiving lots of ohs and ahs when bringing them out. They are very quick and easy to make. Once baked, the crackling layers of pastry contrast with the tender potato filling, and the spicy mango chutney is a match made in heaven.

potato samosa

preparation 1 hour ~ baking 30-40 minutes ~ makes 16 pieces

ingredients 

1 packet/250g rectangular-store-bought puff pastry

filling

360g/ 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in half

3 Tbsp/30g melted ghee

½ heaped tsp cumin seeds

¼ heaped tsp curry powder

3 Tbsp frozen green peas

¼ heaped tsp fine rock salt

vegan eggwash

1 Tbsp non-dairy milk

2 tsp maple syrup

3 Tbsp sesame seeds, for garnish

to serve

mango chutney (recipe follows)

preparation

1. Place water and potatoes in a saucepan; bring to a boil and simmer until soft—approximately 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2.  Heat the ghee in a skillet, add the cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds. Add the curry powder and peas and fry for one minute, then add the potatoes, season with salt, mix well, turn off the heat, and mash with a potato masher until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes.

vegan eggwash

3. Mix the non-dairy milk and maple syrup in a small bowl. Set aside.

assemble

4.  Roll out the puff pastry and divide it into two parts by slicing it down the centre – parallel to the longer side. Lift and separate each piece. 

5.  Divide the potato filling and arrange it in a sausage-like shape on the bottom of each of the pieces of pastry, leaving a 2 cm space at the near edge. Brush the near pastry edge with vegan eggwash, then roll the pastry over to encase the filling tightly, pressing with your finger and rolling the edge up again to seal with the tines of a fork.

6. Place the rolls on a prepared baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze for 10 minutes to firm up, then move them back to the work surface. Brush the rolls with vegan egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and cut each roll into eight portions, slashing decoratively (optional). Arrange the pieces on the baking sheet with a bit of room in between. Refrigerate until ready to bake.

7.  Preheat the oven to 200C/400F oven and bake for 30 minutes, until deeply golden. Eat straight away with the mango chutney.

mango chutney

I make this quick and easy chutney when I see green mangoes in the stores. It can also be made with barely ripe mangoes also. The greener the fruit, the sourer the taste will be. Balance the amount of sugar accordingly.

preparation 15 minutes

makes about 1 cup

ingredients 

1 medium-large/350g green mangoes (half-ripe, green outside and light yellow inside)

1 Tbsp peanut or coconut oil

¼ tsp mustard seeds

tsp asafoetida powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 heaped tsp rasam powder (moderately spiced)

½ tsp fine rock salt

2 heaped tsp jaggery/brown sugar (depending on the sweetness of your mangos)

preparation 

1.  Peel the mango and cut into tiny cubes. Set aside.

2.  In a heavy-based saucepan, add oil and mustard seeds; when they turn grey and pop, add the asafoetida – fry for 20 seconds, then add the turmeric and mango, and saute until the mango becomes soft, adding water when it starts to stick – cover and simmer for about 8-10 minutes.

3.  Turn off the heat and add salt, jaggery, and rasam powder. Taste and add more jaggery or salt if necessary. Puree half the mixture with a hand-immersion blender, if necessary.

early autumn zucchini and bean soup

22nd September 2023

As the summer ends and we move into Autumn, the beans get bigger, and the last of the zucchini need to be used. It is at this stage in the garden I make soups.

I add the podded white beans to dal, kichadi, rasam and bisi bele bath; they give warmth and heartiness to the body in the cooler weather. The pesto is optional; it adds an interesting depth to the soup.

Note to self, next time cut the zucchini into rounds!

Early Autumn Zucchini and Bean Soup

serves 2 – 3

preparation 1 hour plus 15 mins

ingredients

2 Tbsp ghee

½ cup/70g chopped celery

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 large twig of thyme

1 medium/145g zucchini, chopped into rounds 

1 cup/150g white bean pods (picked from the garden )

2 medium/180g potatoes, chopped

finely grated zest of one lemon

5 cups water

1 tsp fine rock salt

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

to serve, steamed kale leaves and basil and dill pesto

preparation

1.  Place a large pan over medium heat and add the ghee. When it is hot, add the celery, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. Allow to sizzle for a few minutes; add the zucchini, beans, potatoes and zest.

2.  Bring up to a boil, turn down the heat, simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, then cover and simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to help the zucchinis break down.

3. Once soft, use a potato masher to crush some of the beans and zucchini. This gives the soup a beautiful texture.

4. Continue to cook for 5 mins, then season with salt and pepper.

5. Place steamed kale and a dollop of pesto in the bottom of a bowl, drizzle with ghee, and then spoon in some soup. Serve with warm sourdough buttered bread.

exceptional lime cheesecake (vegan)

28th July 2023

As requested!

This recipe is satisfyingly creamy but ever so light and refreshing. It has a crunchy biscuit base, the softest, creamiest vanilla lime filling and is topped with a perfect balance of sweet and tangy lime curd.

The original recipe can be found here, where you can find step-by-step photos, tips and more inspiration.

This cheesecake is exceptional!

I altered it slightly by increasing the biscuit quantity and adding ginger powder to the base (my biscuits were not so gingery). I increased the maple syrup, bringing it up to 1/4 cup. 

notes

  • First step: Soak your cashews before making the lime curd.
  • Zest before you juice. Avoid testing the white pith, as this can be bitter. I used 12 – 14 small key limes; if using Persian limes, you only need 5 – 6.
  • Bump up the vibrance in the lime curd by adding a pinch of matcha powder and turmeric powder.
  • Vegan butter: Use vegan block-style butter, not spreadable. I use the VioLife brand for both the butter and cream cheese.

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Easy Lime Curd

The lime curd makes more than the required amount. The remaining can be stored in the fridge for up to five days or freezer for five months. For a runner consistency, warm over low heat while stirring.

Necessary: Use fresh limes ONLY; store-bought bottled juice will not work in this recipe.

ingredients

300g/ 1½ cups lime juice, freshly squeezed (approx. 12 small key limes)

2 Tbsp lime zest

110g non-dairy milk, e.g oat or almond

180g granulated sugar

40g cornstarch

45g vegan butter, stick butter (not margarine)

preparation

1.  Zest and juice the limes.

2.  Add the sugar and cornstarch to a saucepan and whisk out any lumps. Add the non-dairy milk and whisk until you have a smooth, thin paste. Then add the lime juice and zest and whisk again to combine.

3. Place the saucepan on medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Turn down the heat to low and cook for 8 minutes while stirring to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. The mixture will thicken and should coat the back of the spatula/spoon.

4.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vegan butter until completely melted and a smooth curd. Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps and zest, then set aside to cool while you make the cheesecake.

If you prepare a day in advance, transfer the curd to an airtight jar and refrigerate until ready. The curd will thicken in the fridge, so you can gently heat and melt it in a saucepan anytime you need a runnier curd consistency.

no bake vegan lime cheesecake

makes one 9-inch loaf pan

serves 8 portions

equipment – high-speed blender 

preparation time 30 mins – chilling time 5 hours 30 mins

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make-ahead

1 batch vegan lime curd

biscuit crust

170g ginger or digestive biscuits

50g unsalted vegan butter (block-style)

1 tsp ground ginger powder

½ tsp fine rock salt

cream cheese filling

120g/⅓ cup lime curd

150g/ approx. 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp cashews, soaked in hot water for 30 mins

200g vegan cream cheese (VioLife)

80g vegan Greek-style yoghurt or vegan Skyr

30g coconut oil

12g/1 Tbsp lime zest, freshly grated

26g/2 Tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

70g/¼ cup agave or maple syrup

pre-preparation

1.  Quick-soak the cashews in boiling water for 30 mins – 1 hour. Line the base and sides of a 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Leave some overhang to help lift the set cheesecake out of the tin.

biscuit crust

2.  Add the cookies, salt and ginger powder to a food processor and blitz for 1 minute. (If you don’t have a food processor, place the biscuits in a plastic bag and bash them into crumbs). Add the butter and blend until the mixture sticks between your fingers.

3.  Press the crust into the base of the pan and smooth it down with your fingers or spoon – make sure it is compact. Place in the fridge while you make the filling.

cream cheese filling

4.  Add the filling ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blitz until smooth and creamy and without lumps. Pour the filling into the pan and refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours until set.

lime curd topping

5.   Add the cooled lime curd on top of the set cheesecake, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours (or overnight) until set.

Serving and storage: Once set, run your knife under boiling water and wipe after every cut with a paper towel. This will give you sharp, professional-looking slices.

a soothing broth and vegetable palya in one dish

15th May 2022

The liquid from the cooked dal is used as a soothing broth, while the drained and cooked dal is seasoned into a vibrant green palya. The broth is a soothing treat, with the addition of lemon juice and pepper. If you are feeling slightly under the weather, this broth is heavenly.

tips

  • Toor dal can be found in any Indian supermarket. I use a brand which I buy in Portugal, it is smaller and more polished with a quick cooking time. The toor dal variety purchased from the Indian store takes a much longer time to soften. With this in mind, you may need to experiment and cook the dals separately until you are familiar with each of their individual cooking times, or pre-soak the toor dal and cook together for 30 minutes, adding more water as needed. You don’t want the dal to be mushy, but rather hold its shape.
  • For quick preparation, the vegetables can be added to the simmering dal. I like to cook them separately to keep the vegetables vibrant.

a soothing broth and vegetable palya from one dish

preparation – 40 minutes

palya serves – 3 persons

broth serves – 2 cups

Recipe adapted from ‘Mysore Style Cooking’ by V. Sandhya

ingredients

¼ cup/50g whole moong dal

¼ cup/50g toor dal 

5 cups/1.4 litres water

1 flat tsp fine rock salt

voggarane

1 Tbsp ghee/peanut oil

½ heaped tsp black mustard seeds

⅛ tsp asafoetida

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 fresh red/ green chilli, seeds removed, roughly chopped

8-10 fresh curry leaves

⅛ heaped tsp turmeric powder

1 ½ cups/200g green beans, finely chopped 

¼ cup/50g water, more as needed

1 bunch /50g dill, finely chopped stems and all

2 Tbsp dried/freshly grated coconut

2 Tbsp lemon juice, plus more for the broth

preparation 

1.  Cook the dal: In a pot, place the rinsed moong dal and water, bring to boil, turn down the heat, then simmer rapidly, uncovered for 18 minutes, add the rinsed toor dal and simmer for a further 10 mins, or until they just become soft, but still hold their shape. As mentioned above depending on the variety of toor dal, you may need to cook both dals together for 30 minutes or experiment separately until you are familiar with each of their individual cooking times.

2.  Add salt to taste, then drain the broth from the cooked dals and set both broth and dal aside.

3.  Prepare the voggarane: Heat ghee in a pan, add the mustard seeds; when the seeds start to pop and splutter, add asafoetida, cumin and chilli – fry until fragrant, then add the curry leaves and turmeric – fry few seconds. Add the beans, stir to combine with the spices. Pour in the water and simmer until the beans are cooked and the water has evaporated –  approx 4 – 5 minutes, you may need to add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.

4.  Turn off the heat, add the dill – mix well until combined with the spices and slightly wilted, add the cooked dal, coconut and lemon juice. Stir to combine, taste adding more salt and lemon, then transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with rice and drizzle with ghee.

5. To the remaining broth, add ⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper and 1 Tbsp lemon juice, taste adding more salt and lemon, as needed.

steamed & braised cabbage wedges with herby coriander goodness

25th February 2022

In the late Autumn, I planted a bed of cabbages, placing them about 40cm apart; in between, I grew a variety of lettuce seedlings. By the time the lettuce was ready to be picked, the cabbages were beginning to spread out and to require more room. The ground that once nourished the lettuce began to nourish the cabbages. It’s a great way to use the space efficiently. 

I also planted a bed of coriander and now have lots of lush leafy leaves – perfect for this herby green sauce.

The sauce can be used on almost anything, giving this plain old cabbage a lift. You can swap the coriander and mint for dill or parsley.

Note

  • Green cabbage is best for this dish. I like to use the Savoy variety. When buying the cabbage heads, make sure they are fresh and crisp. Look for tight and compact cabbages with few loose leaves, and feel heavy for size.

steamed & braised cabbage wedges with herby coriander goodness

serves 4

preparation 15 minutes

ingredients

1 small head cabbage

2 Tbsp ghee

herby coriander goodness

¼ cup/35g pine nuts, or nuts or seeds of choice

1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted

¼ cup/50g olive oil

1 bunch/40g fresh coriander

½ bunch/20g mint leaves

1 Tbsp grated ginger

1 Tbsp sweet white miso

½ tsp fine rock salt

freshly ground pepper

prepare the cabbage

1. Cut the stem off the cabbage head, remove any loose outer leaves, and cut into quarters. Place the cabbage wedges in a steamer. Steam the cabbages for 8 minutes or until tender. Finish in a lightly ghee hot pan, BBQ, or under the grill of your oven. Baste with ghee, turmeric and chilli powder to add some spice.

prepare the sauce

2. Toast the pinenuts and coriander seeds until golden and fragrant.  Place all the sauce ingredients into a blender and grind until smooth. Brush, drizzle or spoon the sauce over the cabbage wedges.

Serve

  • With other grains. Brown rice, white basmati, millet and barley are just a few options. I especially love it with pongal & tamarind gojju or saffron rice.
  • With pasta. Enjoy alongside your favourite pasta and fold this herby coriander goodness sauce through the pasta.
  • Alongside any creamy dal or spicy rasam.

how to make an avocado rose

23rd January 2022

These avocado roses may look difficult, but it is only a few simple steps. I like to use them when I need a simple but impressive salad. Sometimes, I thinly slice fennel or cucumber, add a few small bitter leaves from the garden, a few cubes of feta and place a few of these avocado roses on top with a squeeze of lemon to keep it nice and bright, a few rounds of salt, pepper, a sprinkle of za’atar, lemon zest and toasted seeds and you have a glorious salad to accompany your other dishes.

note

  • Use an avocado that is not too ripe; otherwise, it will be soft and squishy but must be firm enough that the skin peels away easily.
  • Sprinkle lemon juice to keep the avocado from changing colour.
  • Here’s an easy how-to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJGu9EcNu2Q

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how to make an avocado rose

ingredients

1 ripe and firm medium avocado

preparation

1. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit by using the knife to pierce the seed with a good amount of force. The seed should easily lift out with a wiggle or two.

2. Remove the skin. If the avocado is a good balance of not too ripe and not too firm, the skin should lift up easily.

3. Slice across. Lay the avocado halves flat side down, and make thin slices across the avocado, repeating down the entire fruit from end to end. Aim for each piece to be between 2-3 mm thick.

4. Fan the slices out. Keeping the pieces touching each other, gently move the slices diagonally until the slices form a thin line.

5. Roll into a spiral. Start curling the fruit inwards on itself at one end. Continue rolling the slices until your avocado flower begins to take shape. Ensure it is neatly twisted around itself in a compact circle.

6. Douse the avocado rose in lemon or lime juice. As the avocado sits in the open air, it oxidizes and develops brown spots. The acid in the lemon juice will prevent this from happening until you are ready to eat it.

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easy basil dressing

6th August 2021

I printed this recipe in 2017 when I came across it in the Globe and Mail, published by Tara O’brady, and I have been making all sorts of variations since. Use fewer tomatoes or none, add bitter green leaves or cut the zucchini into thick slabs and grill until slightly charred, rather than eating raw. The dressing I keep the same as it is a gem! However, keep in mind if the garden is overgrown with dill, coriander, mint or similar soft herbs, they can be added into the dressing as well or instead.

I always like making salads with beautiful seasonal greens, herbs, and edible flowers picked straight from the garden. Different lettuces impart different flavours, and the best salads mix up two or three. Because this dressing is lively, pairing it with hardier and spicy greens, like arugula, rocket, mizuna, endive, or baby kale, is better. 

easy basil dressing 

serves 2 – 3

for the dressing

¾ cup/30g basil leaves

¼ cup/10g flat-leafed parsley

juice from half a lemon – approx 2 Tbsp

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 – 2 Tbsp honey or sugar

3 Tbsp olive oil

pinch dried chilli flakes

for the salad

2 slices rustic French bread, torn into pieces

2 Tbsp/20g olive oil, plus more as needed

salt and freshly ground black pepper

half lemon, preferably organic, well-scrubbed

3 – 4 handful of washed green leaves – arugula, rocket, little gem, mizuna, etc. (try to combine various leaves while balancing the more bitter ones with crisp and tender leaves.)

1 small/120g zucchini, sliced into thin rounds (the small zucchini have the best flavour)

3 Tbsp toasted, roughly chopped pinenuts and pumpkin seeds

preparation

1. Make the dressing by squeezing the juice of half the lemon into a small blender. Add the basil and parsley, then add a splash of vinegar, sugar and olive oil—season with salt and pepper, then puree. Taste, adjust seasoning and balance with more oil or vinegar as called for, and sweeten with sugar or honey if it’s too sharp. Rerun the machine, then add a pinch of chilli flakes.

for the salad

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.

2. Toss the bread with 2 tablespoons of olive oil—season with salt and pepper. Scatter pieces on a small baking sheet.

3. Slice the half lemon into thin rounds, removing any seeds; if you have a mandoline (or patience), slice about 3 mm thick (1/8-inch.) Coat lightly with olive oil and arrange on another small baking pan. 

4. Place both baking pans in the hot oven. Toast the bread until golden and crisp, 15 – 20 minutes, tossing once. Roast the lemon until touched with char and deeply caramelized, 12 – 15 minutes. 

5. Arrange the salad, place the leaves and zucchini, then croutons, roasted lemon slices and seeds—top with dressing, offering more at the table.

rice pilaf with a crunchy crust

23rd July 2021

I posted a similar pilaf recipe a while back; this version is easier, quicker and uses the option of olive oil, or if you prefer, replace it with ghee. I change the vegetables to what I have in the garden, sometimes using thinly sliced potatoes, fennel, zucchini or freshly picked sweet peas. It is easy to swap the vegetables around. If the season or garden is overgrown with parsley, coriander or similar soft herbs, they can be used instead.

Serving suggestions:

Serve with a crisp garden leaf salad and this basil dressing, a plate of vegan feta (drizzled with oil and za’atar), a bowl of tahini. Add steamed corn on the cob when in season – this combination is a perfect marriage of flavours.

There are a few steps in achieving the success of this dish; the crispy golden bottom makes it worth it!

  • Wash the rice to remove any surface starch, which might make it sticky.
  • Boil the rice for 8 minutes in boiling water, then drain and allow it to steam dry for a few minutes.
  • Cover with a cloth, as well as a lid, to protect it from the drops of condensation as it steams.
  • Achieving “the golden crusty bottom” at the bottom of the pot by cooking it over low heat for an extended period.

It is recommended to use a non-stick pot. For the recipe, I use a cast-iron 10-inch (24cm) pot. Also, try to use a pot with a flat bottom and one large enough to give the rice plenty of room to expand. If your pot is too small, the rice will clump together. If you are using a pan, ensure you have a lid that will tightly fit.

rice pilaf with a crunchy crust

Serves 3

Preparation 20 minutes

Cooking 45 minutes

ingredients

1 cup/200g white basmati rice

1 medium/140g carrot

1 medium/160g medium fennel

2 medium/125g potatoes

1 large bunch/30g each fresh dill and coriander

6 Tbsp/60g olive oil or ghee – divided 

1 tsp fine rock salt – divided 

1 tsp freshly ground pepper – divided 

1 tsp turmeric powder – divided 

prepare the rice

1.  Wash the rice and drain. Repeat three more times to flush out all the excess starch (this helps the rice be fluffy with nice separate grains when cooked). Drain and set aside.

2.  Fill a medium saucepan (with a lid that fits.) Bring the water to a vigorous boil and cook the rice for exactly 8 minutes, starting the timer from when the rice enters the pot. Drain in a colander and let sit for 5 minutes to steam dry.

prepare the vegetables and herbs

3.  Finely slice the vegetable into 2mm thick slices and set aside. Finely chop the leaves and tender stems of the herbs, and mix the herbs and set aside. 

assemble and cook the pilaf 

4.  Return the empty pan to the stove and add half of the oil.

5.  Split the pile of herbs in two – setting aside a handful of herbs for garnish.

6.  Layer half of the vegetables in the bottom of the pan and half of the herbs for use now.  Sprinkle over half of the salt, pepper and turmeric. Add one-third of the rice over the top. Do not mix. Repeat with the remaining vegetables, then the next third of the rice and the other half of the herbs. Sprinkle the remaining salt, pepper and turmeric. Finish with the last third of rice. Drizzle the remaining oil over the top.

7.  Cover the pot with a tea towel, then place the lid firmly on top, folding the corners of the tea towel over the top so it doesn’t catch fire. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes (#7 setting on an electric stove), then place the pot on the lowest heat you can manage (#2 setting on an electric stove) and continue cooking for another 40-45 minutes.

8.  When the rice is ready, gently mix the reserved herbs and pile it all onto a good wide platter or bowl. Scrape up the crisp rice at the bottom of the pot and tuck it into the pile of rice shards – it’s delicious. It is optional to sprinkle with lemon zest and squeeze lemon juice – taste and season with salt and a few rounds of pepper.  Serving suggestion above.

carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting (vegan)

9th June 2021

I had my sights on a go-to celebration carrot cake that is walnut-studded and carrot-flecked, fragrant, moist and lavish with a decadent frosting.  So I revisited and reposted a recipe that was created a few years back and made a few adjustments. 

Variations can be found at the end of the recipe!

This cake uses walnuts for crunch and flavour, with a lovely warmth in the cardamom and cinnamon. The cake itself is deliciously moist and it is topped with a vegan cream cheese frosting and decorated with edible flowers. 

carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting

Inspired by the much-loved Spice Cake from The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld.

Makes one 9-inch cake or 12 cupcakes (Reduce baking time to 35 minutes)

The cardamom adds a rich warmth, so it is important to grind your own as the taste is much more fragrant, fresher and more flavour intense. 

ingredients 

1 cup/100g walnuts – divided

1 cup/120g whole-wheat flour

1 cup/120g unbleached white flour

2 tsp baking powder

1½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp fine rock salt

2 tsp cardamom powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon powder 

½ cup/110g neutral-tasting oil or mild-tasting olive oil

cup/190g maple syrup (can replace with cup/100g brown sugar)

¼ cup/45g brown sugar or coconut sugar

cup/160g almond/oat milk

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

¼ cup/50g golden raisins/dates, roughly chopped

2 cups/180g grated carrots (approx 2 medium)

cream cheese frosting

cup/60g vegan/regular butter (softened to room temperature)

1 tub (200g) Vegan Violife Cream Cheese, (available from Celeiro – out of the fridge for an hour)

cup/40g icing sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract or scrape 1 vanilla bean (halved lengthways and seeds scraped out)

prepare the cake 

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Oil a 9-inch springform pan with oil.

2.  Toast the walnuts: Place them on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Remove half of the whole walnuts (approximately 23 pieces) for garnishing on top and roughly chop the remaining (50g) to add to the cake batter—set aside.

3.  Make the cake: In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices—and whisk to combine.

4.  In another medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients – oil, maple syrup, sugar, almond milk and vinegar. Whisk until the wet ingredients are emulsified. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, whisking together until all the dry ingredients are absorbed. Stir in the walnuts, sultanas, and grated carrot- fold gently with a spatula to combine.

5.  Pour the batter into the oiled pan and bake for about 45 – 55 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean. If the top looks like it’s getting dark, but the inside needs more time, cover loosely with aluminium foil for the last 10 minutes of baking.

6.  Prepare the frosting: Beat the butter with a hand mixer until soft. Add the cream cheese and beat again until well mixed (*don’t overmix.) Sift over icing sugar and add the vanilla extract – beat again. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. *If, for some reason, the mixture starts to separate from over beating. Place it in the blender, blend until smooth, then place in the fridge for a few hours.

7.  When the cake is completely cool, flip it over so that the top is now the bottom, and spread the frosting evenly over it. Decorate the cake with the remaining walnuts and edible flowers.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Variation

  • To make a crumble topping, sprinkle the top and sides with 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds and add a quarter of the chopped roasted walnuts to the cake dough; with the remaining, make a crumble topping by adding 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, 1 Tbsp brown sugar and 1 Tbsp maple syrup to the walnuts, stir to combine. Spoon over the top of the dough before baking. (See image below)
  • Sprinkle the sides and bottom of the greased cake tin with 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds before baking.

lemon coconut cake with blueberry compote (vegan)

13th May 2021

This cake is lovely, moist, and tender with a delicate flavour. It is effortless to make, and the combination of yoghurt, blueberries, and coconut perfectly complements each other. The blueberry compote is divine!

Praia de Aguda

Every two weeks for my weekly shop, I drive a little further to a health food store north of where I live. It takes me through the Sintra mountain along narrow windy tree-lined roads; then it opens into a broader, flatter landscape with warmer temperatures. I arrive at a sweet health food store called Ideal in a little village named Janas. I like this place as they offer vegetable seedlings, and the vegetables and fruits are abundant and fresh, newly picked from their garden. After finishing my shop, I continue up the road towards the sea, park my car and walk down the steps towards the beach. This car park and beach are busy on the weekend, but on weekdays there is nobody, especially on cloudy days. Sometimes I go just for the sunset, which is especially magical when the mist rolls off the ocean.

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lemon coconut cake with blueberry compote

Recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson.

Preparation 45 minutes

Makes 8 – 12 slices

tools

1 x 9-inch springform cake pan (can be made in an 8-inch)

cake

1 cup/120g white spelt flour

¾ cup/100g whole spelt flour

1½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp fine rock salt

⅔ cup/130g coconut or vegetable oil

¾ cup/150g light brown sugar

1 cup/220g thick coconut milk (see note below)

2 lemons, zested

3 Tbsp/35g lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

blueberry compote

1 cup/130g blueberries

1 Tbsp/12g lemon juice

1 Tbsp/12g light brown sugar

3 Tbsp/35g + 1½ tsp cold water – divided

1½ tsp cornflour 

icing

1 cup/250g  thick vegan Greek yoghurt or milk-based Greek yoghurt 

1 tsp vanilla extract or scrap the seeds from a vanilla pod

¼ cup/35g icing sugar

preparation

1.  To make the cake: Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease sides and line base of a springform cake tin with baking paper.

2.  Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a medium bowl.

3.  In another bowl, whisk the oil, sugar and coconut milk together, followed by the zest, juice and vanilla extract.

4.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking to combine, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool completely.

5.  To make the blueberry compote: Put the blueberries, lemon juice, sugar and 3 Tbsp water into a saucepan, bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer, stirring now and then, for a few minutes until the blueberries have softened.

6. Remove from heat, in a small cup, mix the cornflour with the remaining 1½ tsp water and stir this paste into the blueberries. Return to heat and stir gently for 30 seconds; the sauce will bubble and thicken. Pour the compote into a bowl to cool. It will set once cold.

7. To make the icing: Mix the yoghurt and vanilla, sieve the icing sugar over the yoghurt and stir to combine.

8. To assemble the cake: Turn the cake over (so the underneath is now on top) onto a plate. Place most of the icing on top of the cake. Spread out and bring a small amount down the sides, evenly scraping so that you can see some of the cake through the icing (sides only.) Decorate with lemon zest, thyme, and blueberries. Dust the blueberries with icing sugar. Slice and spoon with a generous amount of the blueberry compote. If not serving immediately, the cake can be refrigerated until ready to serve. 

note

  • Don’t shake the tin of coconut milk; try to get as much of the thick creamy part as possible and purchase a better quality can of coconut milk to ensure thick milk.

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