Friday, October 17, 2014

Carrot and Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

For no logical reason it seems to be carrot cake season. I was craving this delicious cake the other day so I baked it for the first time in ages. In Sydney last weekend my friends ordered carrot and walnut loaf at a cafe for brunch then just now on Smitten kitchen, a favourite blog of mine, Deb shared a recipe for Carrot Cake with Cider and Olive Oil Cake This made me realise I had never posted this favourite recipe on here, I always seem to forget the old favourites. My mum cut this out of a newspaper many year ago, I can still picture the clipping, and it has been a family favourite ever since. 

We seem to have run out of cake in our house, a tragedy when you are 8 1/2 months pregnant and always hungry, so I might have to try the Smitten Kitchen recipe and compare. I also have dates in the fridge so might have to make Date and Walnut loaf too, so good slathered in butter. Always good to have options...

Carrot and Apple Cake and Cream Cheese Icing

This makes a great big rectangular cake, but I am sure it would work as a loaf. It is very moist and dairy free as it is made with oil not butter. I like it iced with a thick layer of cream cheese icing but if you want it to be dairy free you could make a lemon glaze icing. Sometimes I leave the nuts out for the kids but I miss them, I might try sprinkling them over the icing on half the cake next time. 

1 C apples, grated (~ 1 large)

1 C carrots, grated (~ 1 large)

2 C plain flour

2 C sugar

2 eggs

1 C pecans, chopped (or other nuts of your choice)

1 C oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp bicarb soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt


250 g cream cheese, softened

80 g butter or margarine, softened

1 C + icing sugar, sifted

1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line and grease a large cake tin, I use a 22 by 35 cm rectangular tin.

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 5 minutes or just mix thoroughly by hand. Pour into tin. Bake at 180 C for 45 minutes.


Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until smooth. Add icing sugar and lemon juice and mix until well combined.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Okonomiyaki Japanese Savoury Pancakes

Our local Japanese restaurant has okonomiyaki or Japanese pancakes on the menu. We have been curious about them but can never quite go past the sushi and order one so I looked up how to make them at home. They were delicious and my husband told me to add them to the favourites list which is the ultimate compliment in our house!
I thought the kids might like them too as long as I let them choose their own vegetable combinations, and it turned out they were a hit! I chopped all the ingredients and layed them out in plastic bowls on the bench where everyone could choose their own. I then poured the batter over each individual bowl of vegetables and cooked up each pancake in a frypan (I had a few frypans on the go to speed things up). One of my daughters picked her ingredients and just wanted to eat them not in a pancake so I just fried up a bit of the pork for her.
You can buy okonomi sauce at Asian supermarkets. There a lots of recipes on the web trying to imitate it, apparently none of them quite match it, but I enjoyed the version I made although it was a bit runny. My version had quite a few Japanese ingredients that I generally have in the cupboard. If you don't, just google a simpler version based on ketchup, soy and worcestershire.
I looked at lots of recipes but based mine on this SBS recipe, I didn't bother with the crispy noodle cakes this time but did include the instructions below. There are several websites devoted entirely to Okonomiyaki recipes, such as this one.
Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancakes)
serves 4
Okonomi literally means "what you like" so feel free to add whatever fillings and toppings you like.
vegetable oil                                                                    
225 g (1 1/2 C) plain flour
3 eggs
2 tsp instant dashi powder
225 ml water                                                                    
220 g cabbage, finely sliced
8 spring onions, finely sliced, plus extra to serve
1 carrot, coarsely grated or sliced julienne
2 tbsp red pickled ginger
½ cup tempura batter bits (tenkasu) (optional)
8 peeled green prawns
150 g pork belly, thinly sliced (it is much easier to slice if you half freeze it)
Variations: cooked octopus, chinese sausage
60 ml tomato sauce/ketchup
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cooking sake
1 tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar or honey 
2 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar
2 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce                                                                        
1/2 tsp grated ginger (optional)
Japanese (Kewpie) mayo
Bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
Nori (seaweed), finely chopped
Spring onions, finely chopped
Pickled ginger
Noodle cake (optional)
200 g cooked yaki soba noodles (thin, yellow egg noodles) 
In a large bowl combine the flour, eggs, dashi powder and water and whisk just until smooth. The batter should be thin but not watery.
Combine the cabbage, spring onions, carrot and pickled ginger. Season to taste, add the batter and mix until well combined. If you are making these for picky eaters you can make up individual bowls of vegetables to each persons taste and divide the batter between them.
Heat two large non-stick frying pans over medium-high heat, add a small amount of oil. Add a quarter of the cabbage mixture to each frying pans. Shape into rounds then, using a spatula, flatten each round, pushing any escaping mixture back against the edges. Cook for 4 minutes. Put two prawns on each pancakes and push gently into batter. Cover the prawns with the pork belly. Carefully flip the pancakes over and cook for 3 minutes. Flip the pancake again, reduce the heat to medium and cook for a further 3–4 minutes until cooked through to the centre.
Cover generously with okonomiyaki sauce and Japanese mayonaisse. Top with noodle cake if using, then nori, extra spring onions and pickled ginger.
Mix all the ingredients for the sauce with 2 tbsp of water and bring to a boil, let it simmer for about 10 mins or until it thickens. Set aside
Noodle cake
Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a wok over high heat. Add a quarter of the noodles, toss to coat in the oil then shape the noodles into a round the same size as the pancake. Allow to cook, undisturbed, for 1½–2 minutes until the underside is crisp. Carefully flip the noodle cake over and cook the other side for 1½–2 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove from the wok and drain on paper towel. Repeat with the remaining noodles.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Apple and Passionfruit Crumble

Following on from my love of Passionfruit Self-saucing Pudding which I have made many many times, I have another great passionfruit recipe; apple and passionfruit crumble. Bill Granger came up with this genius combination. I didn't love his crumble mix though and have created my own below. I suggest watching out for bags of passionfruit that work out quite cheaply. Scrape out the pulp of any passionfruits you haven't devoured and freeze ready to use in recipes like this. I am coming to the conclusion that all fruity desserts taste better with passionfruit, I bet it would be good added to apple pie...

serves 4-6
You could use this crumble topping on any fruit combination that takes your fancy, I have suggested two twists to the traditional apple.

1 C plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100 g brown sugar
100g butter, diced and softened
1/2 C oats
Apple and Passionfruit
6 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
4 passionfruit, pulp removed and stirred to loosen
1 tbsp sugar
Apple and Berry
4-6 apples, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp water
1/2 C blueberries or other berries (frozen is fine)

Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl (as large as you can find if you are going to let the kids help and if you have a 2 year helping like I did I would also place it on a clean tray so you can rescue the spillage). Add the butter and rub it in to the flour with your finger tips to make a crumbly topping, stop before you make dough. Add the oats and rub through.

Place the apples, sugar and a splash of water in a saucepan and simmer on low for 5 minutes to soften. Place in baking dish and add passionfruit or berries if using. Sprinkle crumble mix over the top. Bake at 180 for about 25 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pistachio Rosewater Biscuits

I love these delicious and delicate biscuits, the kids not so much, isn't that a shame. They are flavoured with rosewater which gives them a wonderful smell. I love it so much I should find other recipes that use it. Hope you enjoy them too!

Pistachio Biscuits
This is a Bill Granger recipe from his book Open Kitchen

125 g shelled pistachios
125 g unsalted butter, softened
115 g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp rosewater
185 g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder, sifted
2 tbsp plain flour, extra

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Place the pistachios in a small bowl, cover with water and set aside for 30 minutes. (It is important to soak the pistachios so you can slice through them when cutting the dough.)
Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add the rosewater, and stir until smooth.
Drain the pistachios well then add to the batter with the flour and baking powder. Fold through until a stiff dough forms.
Sift the extra flour over a clean dry surface, and knead the dough lightly for 30 seconds. Divide the dough in half and roll each into a log, roughly 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the dough logs from the refrigerator, and slice into 5 mm rounds. Place the biscuits 2 cm apart on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake the biscuits for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Milo Slice

I came across a collection of milo recipes on iVillage the other day and thought the kids might like them. The milo slice recipe on The Organised Housewife site looked so easy I even suggested to my 7 year old that she might like to make it and she did. I cut and melted the butter and got all the ingredients out for her but she was able to do the rest of it herself. She was so proud of herself she wanted to do another batch the next day so there would be enough to take when visiting her grandparents on the weekend. The result was a delicious moist slice that she loved and that has lasted for well over in a week in the fridge (only because the house is full of baked goods at the moment - gingerbread men, crumble, so many temptations). I have written the recipe out below with a 7 year old audience in mind.

The cake and biscuit recipes look good too...

Milo Slice
recipe from The Organised Housewife adapted only slightly

½ C self-raising flour
½ C plain flour
½ C Milo
½ C dark choc chips
3/4 C rolled oats
½ C shredded coconut or 1/4 C dessicated coconut
⅔ C brown sugar
1 egg
125g butter, melted
Milk, if too dry

Turn the oven on to 180 C. Grease and line a slice tin.

Sift the flours into a large bowl. Add the milo, choc chips, oats, coconut and sugar and mix.

Crack the egg into a bowl and mix with a fork. Pour the egg and the melted butter into the large bowl and mix well.

Scrape the mixture into the tin and spread and flatten.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Pregnant and starving Bacon and Lentil Soup

I came home at lunch time today and was absolutely starving as usual but thought that I really should eat something other that toast on which I have been subsisting on for the past 3 months. I am pregnant with baby number four and although the worst of the morning sickness is over I still need to eat every few hours, with turkish bread toast being my favourite choice. But even Vegemite doesn't contain all the vitamins a girl needs to live so today I held out my hunger a little longer and cooked up some vegetable soup with bacon and lentils, it was delicious.
I have got into the habit of making my own chicken stock regularly thanks to the wonderful Smitten Kitchen blog. She makes her Perfect, uncluttered chicken stock in the slow cooker using only chicken wings, onion, garlic and water and it tastes wonderful! After boiling pots of stock dry several times in the past, this approach works for me and I end up with 3 litres of stock for minimal effort and I don't need to worry too much about the timing, just set the slow cooker to low if you are going out for awhile.

Bacon, Lentil and Vegetable Soup
serves 4
splash olive oil
2 bacon rashers, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves chopped
1 L chicken stock
1 small piece parmesan rind (optional)
1/2 tin lentils, rinsed or 1/4 C dried green French lentils
1 zucchini, diced
1 large handful silverbeet, spinach or kale leaves, shredded
few sprigs parsley, leaves chopped 
In a heavy based saucepan sauté the bacon in the olive oil over medium heat until slightly browned. Turn down the heat to low and add the onion and carrot. When softened add the garlic and thyme and stir until fragrant. Add the stock, lentils, parmesan rind and simmer until the dried lentils are tender (skip this step if using tinned lentils). Add the zucchini and silverbeet and simmer until the vegies are tender. Stir though parsley and serve. Sprinkle with parmesan to taste.