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  1. Ginger Cheesecake Crumpets

    July 22, 2014 by Maria

    I rarely buy crumpets. It’s not because I don’t like them. But two things. One is that they have a relatively short shelf life and two, they tend to give me indigestion. Ok, three things.. I also tend to confit them in butter. Are you familiar with those golden, buttery trails snaking their way down your palms, over your wrists and down your arm? Crumpets and butter to me are like cheese and crackers, coffee and cake, chips and sauce… the perfect pairing.  Since first making these, I don’t buy packet crumpets anymore because they just can’t compare to home made! I don’t have anything against packets or kitchen shortcuts.. but this recipe is even worth the three waiting times. Did that make sense? “Resting” times I mean. Because of the resting times, they take a bit longer than a pancake brekky or brunch. However, like Hollandaise sauce made from scratch, the reward is in the eating!! And while you’re waiting for the yeast to do its thing, you can prepare the absolutely delish and simple ‘Ginger Cheesecake’ accompaniment. I love savoury crumpets.. as I said with butter.. and especially butter and vegemite. But this lovely dessert-style spread, made from 80% reduced fat cream cheese takes an ordinary crumpet to extraordinary heights. Use as little or as much as you like and consider having friends or family over for brunch or breakfast.. and WoW them with your homemade crumpets!

    Ginger Cheesecake Crumpets

    Recipe yields between 7 and 10 crumpets approximately. They are more filling than store-bought crumpets.

    -2 cups of plain flour
    -2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
    -1 heaped teaspoon caster sugar
    -1 & 1/4 cups of warm milk
    -1 egg
    -1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    -1 tablespoon of water
    -Coconut oil for the frypan (or oil spray)
    Ginger Cheesecake Cream
    -4 heaped tablespoons (or 150grams) of 80% less fat Philadelphia brand cream cheese
    -1.5 teaspoons of Queen’s brand Vanilla Dusting sugar (available where you buy food colouring, essences and extracts)
    -3 teaspoons rice malt syrup (or 2 teaspoons caster sugar)
    -20 grams of uncrystallised ginger (or ‘naked ginger’), chopped finely (can be found near the dried fruit and nuts for baking in the supermarket)


    -This recipe requires 3 resting periods. Though the crumpets and topping are very easy to make, you and anyone you’re feeding needs to be patient. Plan to eat these 90 to 120 minutes after you begin the process. But like Hollandaise sauce made from scratch, the reward is in the eating!
    -First you want to get your yeast alive and kicking, so warm half a cup of milk from the milk allowance you have in this recipe. Be careful when doing this because it’s so easy to overheat milk in a microwave. If the milk isn’t warm enough, it won’t do what you want it to do.. but by the same token, you’re likely to kill it if your milk is hot. Sometimes if it is a little hot, just add a few splashes of cold milk to get it to lukewarm temperature.

    -Add the dried yeast sachets to your lukewarm milk, aswell as the caster sugar, mix well so the yeast can dissolve, cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel (I always do two layers of wrap) and set aside somewhere for 15 minutes away from any draughts. I usually wrap it up loosely in old sheets or quilt covers too. Same way my mother did it.

    -In a medium to large bowl, sift the plain flour and salt and make a well in the centre.

    -In a smaller bowl, whisk the remainder of your milk and the egg
    -When the yeast mixture is ready (after 15 minutes), add it into the flour mixture
    -Mix batter until relatively smooth
    -Cover again with plastic wrap, tea towels and whatever else you’d like to keep it warm
    -Allow to rest and rise for an hour
    -The mixture should double in volume and have lots of little bubbles on top
    -Mix 1 tablespoon of water with 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and then mix it through the crumpet batter
    -Cover and rest for 10 minutes
    -During the final resting period, make your Ginger Cheesecake topping/cream
    -Finely chop uncrystallised ginger (about 6 pieces.. being 20 grams)
    -In a bowl, mix finely chopped ginger with cream cheese and the two sugars, then cover and refrigerate
    -Put a little oil in a pan and make your crumpets in batches. I did 3 at a time, but maybe you might only do two.. or even one!
    -The first side needs to cook for about 5 minutes (check the bases once or twice to see they’re not burning.. or whether you need to adjust your heat)
    -The second side only need about 30 to 60 seconds
    -Usually bubbles should surface when the crumpet batter is in the pan, but don’t worry if they look more like really fat pikelets. The bubbles are inside, so when you cut them open, they will look like genuine crumpets.. but taste much better in my opinion -Serve crumpets with butter and any topping you like..(drizzlings of golden syrup and butter for example) but especially the Ginger Cheesecake cream. If you can, serve it in a nice little self serve pot or mini ramekin or even shot glass because it shares star billing alongside the crumpets for sure!

    Come on little bubbles. Form! They’re behind the scenes, believe me.

    Beautiful texture.

    Add ImageLike fat pikelets, but definitely nothing like pikelets. There’s a crispness and a chewiness and you don’t need to put them in the toaster.

    I picked up this black, two-compartment serving bowl at an op-shop for 99 cents. It looked like it had never been used.

    Just butter (Danish Lurpak actually)… Mmmmmm.

    Optional Golden Syrup.

  2. Potato Curry

    July 15, 2014 by Maria

    I’m sharing with you today a recipe that was given to me during a Scrabble game about eight years ago. I was once part of an online Scrabble tournament and along the way I met a young, friendly Sri Lankan lawyer by the name of ‘Tam’. We lost contact ages ago.. but I never lost Tam’s printed email with that curry recipe.. all splattered and smudged. I’ve ‘tweaked’ it a little to suit my tastes.

    This quick curry is ‘authentic’ tasting.. it won’t burn your lips off and it’s full of flavour. Key ingredients include fresh green chillies (deseeded), some coconut milk, tomatoes, onions and spices. I don’t usually make curries from scratch at home because the amount of dried seeds and spices required usually puts me off. There are so many remarkable curry pastes and spice blends on the market, I usually save time and go that option. Don’t be put off by the “from scratch”-ness of this recipe. It’s not as complex or as time consuming as some curry’s and as I said, it tastes authentic. Leaving the fenugreek out is ok.. but I think it’s better “in”. Just go easy on it because it packs a punch. It’s as easy as making spaghetti bolognese.. and perfect for our Aussie winter bellies that need warming.

    Potato Curry
    Serves 2 or 3 as a sidedish (quantities can easily be doubled for main meal serves)
    -500grams potatoes (2 or 3 large), parboiled & chopped into large pieces
    -2 green chilli’s, deseeded & chopped
    -1 large onion, sliced
    -2 cloves garlic, crushed
    -2 ripe, fresh tomatoes
    -1/2 cup fresh, chopped coriander
    -1 flat teaspoon dill seeds
    -1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
    -3/4 cup coconut milk
    -1 cup milk
    -1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
    -1 tablespoon oil
    -1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
    -(optional salt, to your taste)

    -Heat oil in a pan, saute onion until soft, add garlic, dill seeds & fenugreek seeds, cook another 1 or 2 minutes

    -Add chilli’s, tomato, turmeric, potatoes, half of the coriander, milk, coconut milk and stock powder
    -Cover and bring to boil on low heat, stirring occasionally, making sure potatoes don’t stick to bottom of pan
    -Cook until potatoes are soft but not falling apart & sauce has reduced, add more milk if you’d like more sauce
    -To finish, add rest of the fresh chopped coriander, stir & let sit for 2 or 3 minutes covered before serving.
    -If you like your curry with more heat, add half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes with the last bit of coriander, stir well
    or alternatively.. keep some of the green chilli seeds at the beginning.
    -Serve on its own or with steamed rice and/or a cooked meat dish

  3. Honey Yoghurt Banana Bread – No eggs No Oil

    July 8, 2014 by Maria



    Today’s simple, but amazing recipe is modified from one of those ‘hardly no ingredients’ cookbooks.  I’d say four ingredients except if you count the frosting, it totals seven.  I wasn’t sure whether to call this cake or bread, but it’s more like traditional banana bread, lighter in colour and deliciously moist too.  Nothing worse than dry banana bread.  I don’t know how this works minus eggs and butter or oil but it somehow does.  If you’re wondering if you can use any other yoghurt other than the one I’ve recommended (?), well you could try but I’ve only tested this using Chobani honey flavoured yoghurt.  Good, thick greek yoghurt I think would be fine if you added some drizzles of your own honey.  The bulk of my sweetener in the banana bread is Rice Malt Syrup (which features in the I Quit Sugar cookbooks).. of course there’s the sugar in the banana’s and the honey flavoured yoghurt and even more in the optional frosting.  By using Rice Malt Syrup you cut down on some of the sugar content.  Fibre enriched self-raising flour also gets a look-in (not wholemeal or white).. again, just trying to add a little more of the good stuff  without making it taste like ‘All Bran’.  For a sugar free cream cheese frosting, Sarah Wilson features a recipe in her I Quit Sugar For Life cookbook (Page 182) or find the recipe here, but instead of cinnamon, use lemon zest.  Speaking of which, at the time of going to press I have a batch of homemade goat cheese ‘on the go’ (cream cheese actually).  The whey dripping from the cheese cloth will be used to make another few jars of homemade lacto-fermented sauerkraut (ie. no pickling vinegar solutions used).  I made my first batch of sauerkraut a few weeks ago and was Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’ with the results. No more $17 per jar, shipped from Byron Bay.  Here’s to our gut health.

    Honey Yoghurt Banana Bread

    no eggs . no oil

    -Banana’s x 2 (large, riped, mashed)
    -Chobani Greek Yoghurt, honey flavour – 2 x 170gm small tubs
    -Rice Malt Syrup x 3/4 cup (or substitute with 1/2 cup caster sugar)
    -Self Raising Flour, Fibre enriched (50% more fibre) x 2 cups

    -Cream cheese x 250gm
    -Icing Sugar x 1 heaped tablespoon
    -Lemon zest x 1/2 teaspoon
    -Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius
    -Lightly grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper
    -Combine all banana bread ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a spatula or large spoon (folding motion, no mixer needed)
    -Pour banana bread batter into loaf tin and bake approximately 45 minutes
    -Allow to cool to room temperature before adding optional cream cheese frosting. Without frosting, best eaten warm or room temperature.
    -FOR CREAM CHEESE FROSTING: Mix all frosting ingedients together in a bowl with fork until smooth. Cool slightly, covered in the fridge.





  4. Colcannon

    July 1, 2014 by Maria

    I first heard of Colcannon in the 2002 movie ‘In America’ about a young Irish immigrant family adjusting to their new life in New York City (after a family tragedy). The family were very poor and ate Colcannon as their main meal (in one particular scene). It’s basically a comforting, warm dish of mashed potatoes, cabbage (or kale) and spring onions.  Gourmet Traveller magazine’s recipe used an Italian style cabbage (which looks almost like silverbeet), it’s called “Cavalo Nero”.. or “Tuscan Cabbage” (but the direct translation is ‘Black Cabbage’). These days you can find Tuscan Cabbage in the supermarket.. I should add “sometimes”.. because anything from a supermarket can be hit and miss. Any good green grocer should stock it too.  Since kale is easier to find these days – I’d happily use it to make mashed potato more virtuous.  Perfect for our Aussie winter.

    Considering the cabbage used is Italian I decided to throw in an Italian-ish flavour-twist which takes delicious Colcannon to a new level. I add cheese and garlic. (+other tweakings). The magazine’s recipe requires baked potatoes in their jackets (peeled). If you have time, do it that way, but I boil potatoes with their skin on and peel later. It’s a little faster and you still get a less water-logged, more potatoey result (similar to a baked potato). I’ve added some tasty serving suggestions at the end of the recipe. Grab some Desiree’s and (if you live in the southern hemisphere) say goodbye to winter with some hearty Irish-inspired mash =)


    (Serves 4 to 6 as a generous side dish)

    -1.6 kg’s of potatoes (approximately)
    -2 tablespoon’s butter or margarine
    -1/2 cup milk (warmed)
    -200ml’s cream (warmed) – substitute with evaporated milk
    -1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
    -1 large clove garlic (or 2 ordinary cloves), crushed or finely chopped
    -3 spring onions, thinly sliced
    -1 bunch of Cavalo Nero (Tuscan Cabbage), chopped (substitute with kale or about 5 silverbeet leaves, stalks removed, chopped and lightly sauteed)
    -1/2 cup fresh, chopped flat leaf parsley
    -Oil for sauteeing garlic
    -Olive oil to drizzle & garnish dish
    -Salt for water when boiling potatoes (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
    -Salt and white pepper for seasoning Colcannon
    -Boil potatoes in their skins, chop any large potatoes in half first (Note: when potato water is boiling, add one to two teaspoons of salt to the water & boil until cooked)
    -Drain potatoes, cool and peel skin off
    -Saute garlic in heated oil for 15 seconds, add spring onions, stir for another 15 seconds, before adding potatoes, butter or margarine, salt/pepper, then turn off heat.
    -It’s important garlic isn’t cooked too long as it will burn, the oil is only supposed to take away the ‘rawness’ off the garlic.
    -Mash potatoes, then mix with spoon, incorporating the garlic and spring onions
    -Add warm milk and warm cream & put back on a low heat and stir well
    -Add Cavalo Nero, and parsley, keep stirring
    -Turn off heat, put lid on Colcannon and let sit for 5 minutes
    -Taste and season to your tastes (if it needs it)
    -Before serving, reheat Colcannon in microwave
    - Optional: Drizzle with a little olive oil or white truffle oil & serve
    a.k.a. Cavalo Nero
    De-stalking the Cavalo Nero, before chopping.

  5. No Flour Pizza

    June 24, 2014 by Maria

    There are several types of pizza bases out there – we’re really spoilt for choice aren’t we?  My least favourite would be anything ‘bready’ or ‘spongey’.   Need I say it, portion control is a problem if you like this comfort food, which isn’t good news when so many pizza’s are oily from full-fat cheeses combined with processed meat.  Your average ‘Hawaiian’, ‘Aussie’ or ‘Supreme’ is frowned upon as a not-very-healthy meal option.

    This recipe will give you a true pizza ‘hit’ without the effects of white flour on your blood sugar levels or waistline. You don’t have a crust but you do have a base. And it’s made from zucchini! If you don’t like zucchini, don’t worry because neither does my daughter and she loves this pizza.  The zucchini, after it’s cooked is kind-of ‘invisible’, especially if you follow the recipe and peel your zucchini before grating it.  My top tip would be to make sure your pizza bases are well and truly cooked so they peel off your baking paper easily.  Otherwise you’ll get rips and tears and something that looks like scrambled eggs. 

    My recipe inspiration comes from Jane Kennedy’s book ‘OMG, I Can Eat That?’. I’ve tweaked her cooking times, ingredients and quantities.

    No Flour Pizza

    (Ingredients are for 1 small pizza – multiply quantities as needed)

    *Zucchini x 1 (weighing around 170-200grams)
    *Egg x 1
    *Mozarella cheese x 1/4 cup
    *Cheese for melting on top, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup, you can use mozarella or any melting cheese.
    *Tomato Passata x 3 tablespoon’s (or your favourite pizza sauce), I love using Le Conserve della Nonna brand from Woolies (near the fruit/veg & deli section), it’s ‘Lampomodoro‘ tomato puree in a glass bottle & costs around $3.20 for 720ml’s and though it’s really only tomato puree, the quality exceeds that of tinned tomatoes. I use it to make chicken parmigiana’s and all of my bolognese sauces and the difference is noticeable.
    *Proscuitto, finely shaved, about 4 to 6 strips.
    *Olives, marinated & pitted (preferably something that’s been marinated in chilli, garlic and/or herbs)
    *Rocket x a small handful, to top finished pizza.
    -Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
    -Line a pizza tray or similar with baking paper and spray lightly with oil.
    -Peel zucchini and grate into a bowl. I’ve tried this recipe without peeling the zucchini because I prefer not to peel vegies if I can help it, but I think you get better results with a peeled zucchini.
    -Add the egg to the zucchini, mix well and then add 1/4 cup of mozarella cheese.
    -Pour zucchini mixture onto baking paper, then with a large spoon, spread it into a pizza base shape. Don’t be tempted to spread the mixture into a medium sized pizza or larger. I’ve tried this and it doesn’t work well. You’ll have a near-impossible time lifting the base off the baking paper and it’ll just crumble away. Keep your base to the size of a small pizza and no larger.
    -Bake base for 20 to 30 minutes.. you want to see some colouring around the edges and the base should want to lift away relatively easily from the baking paper. The base might look done but the centre may stick and not move which means you need to bake it a little longer.
    -When it’s done, take baking paper off tray together with pizza base (out of the oven) and put somewhere to cool.
    -When base is cool and easily lifts off baking paper, top it with your chosen pizza toppings.
    -First spread tomato passata (puree), add a little cheese, olives and prosciutto and then anchovies if you like them.
    -Bake at 220 degree’s until cheese is bubbling.. about 5 to 8 minutes maximum.
    -Serve pizza with a handful of fresh rocket leaves scattered over the top.
    -Other pizza toppings:  Whatever you fancy basically! Try using leftover chicken and olives or small pieces of chorizo with thinly sliced onions and well drained roasted pepper from a jar.  Don’t overcrowd your pizza with toppings because you’re working with a light base.  Less is more.

  6. Peanut Butter Fudge

    June 17, 2014 by Maria


    Fudge is usually made with a tonne of butter and sugar. This most delicious fudge can be made sugar free (refer to the recipe).. and it’s not toothache sweet! And it uses the goodness of coconut oil! Anything overly buttery makes my liver groan.. but not coconut oil. This recipe is so quick and easy to make… I’m going to put it in my “take a plate” repertoire. I was inspired by Sarah Wilson again and her I Quit Sugar genuis brain. Go for it PB lovers!


    Makes 25-30 pieces

    -Smooth Peanut Butter 375gm
    -Coconut Oil 3 tablespoons (I use organic, refined – less coconut aroma)
    -Coconut Cream x 1/3 cup
    -Vanilla paste or extract x 1 teaspoon
    -Rice Malt Syrup x 1/3 cup
    -Sea salt flakes (a couple of pinches)
    -Optional: Raw Cacao Nibs to make it ‘Choc-Chip’ – 1 tablespoon – I used them
    -Optional icing sugar for dusting
    -Grease a small slice tin with some coconut oil and line with baking paper.
    -In a saucepan melt and heat through coconut oil and rice malt syrup, then remove from heat when just starting to bubble.
    -Add the rest of the ingredients and one pinch of salt, stirring. The peanut butter will melt with the residual heat.
    -Stir well with a fork, the mixture will look like thick, melted chocolate. Pour into prepared tray and put in freezer for an hour.
    -Using a ruler or something else long and straight, mark out straight lines with a knife and cut out squares of fudge. Dust in icing sugar (optional)
    -To make this fudge sugar free, buy sugar free peanut butter and omit the icing sugar dusting.