Ju-Lyn might consider me a Queen of Lemon Cakes, but I am no reigning monarch of cooking, merely slightly obsessed with lemons. The family loves lemon cake, which means I am keen to try out any new lemon-themed recipe I find.
This month, in setting up a tasting contest between my most popular Lemon Cake recipes at home, I discovered how versatile lemons could be not only in improving heath, but also in replacing certain chemical cleaners and insecticides around the home with natural alternatives.
Lemons are a plant native to Assam, in Northern India and South Asia. Lemon juice in its natural state is acidic, but once metabolized it actually becomes alkaline.
The acidity of lemons makes them a great adjunct to cleaning around the home and lemon peel can even repel insects when peel is placed outside your door.
Rub your chopping board with a cut lemon to eliminate garlic or stubborn odours
Clean windows and chrome fittings with a half a lemon dipped in salt
Remove red wine spills (mix to a paste with salt and baking soda)
Add a cut lemon to your dishwasher in place of rinse aid for a streak-free wash.
With the Changing Seasons, lemons are a natural way to bolster our immune systems.
Lemon Cake Tasting Challenge
Renowned for reliable recipes it may be no surprise that a recipe from The AustralianWomen’s Weekly magazine took first place in the Lemon Cake Challenge. As voted #1 by colleagues and family. This is how it turned out:
Australian Woman’s Weekly Lemon Cake
Are you keen to make the winning cake for yourself?
As one on the periphery of the ‘Boomer’ generation, I am slightly hesitant to use nouveau cuisine ingredients in my meals. However, as my adult children grow and in-laws arrive at family dinners, I need to cater to vegan, coeliac and pescatarian palettes, so I’m aiming to be versatile, making some low-calorie alternatives such as Edamame-fritters. Add to that, organic and Vegan menu options are appearing in lunch venues across the country, so the heat is on to keep up!
Yesterday, I dined on a wonderful dish of Edamame and Avo Smash comprising Mixed Beets, Beetroot Hommus, roasted hazlenut dukkah and plant based marinated feta, on toasted sourdough. It was delicous and the combination of colour made me remember my kindergarten days! It looked fantastic.
Edamame beans are immature soybeans and mostly found in Asian style dishes so using an unfamiliar ingredient such as this usually has me reaching for a recipe. Today, that wasn’t necessary.
Two cans of Edamame beans were looking a little lost and unwanted in my pantry and avocados are currently in plentiful supply and contain the good fats, so I seized the opportunity to recreate my own version of the Edamame and Avo Smash for lunch – sans mixed beets and hazlenut dukkah. I could hardly wait to eat it, as indicated by the missing bite in the photograph!
Do you use embrace new and unfamiliar ingredients in your cooking?
Edamame Beans Nutritional Content
They contain protein, but they also contain carbohydrates, that all important fibre, a number of essential amino acids and of course they’re low in fat and sugar and contain no cholesterol at all. They’re also a great source of minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, phosphorus, copper and manganese, plus they pack a punch with the vitamins too, such as Vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E. Shelled, they weigh in at 110 calories for a 100 gram portion.
The Little Tree Bake and Brewhouse nestled in the Samford Valley, to capital city Brisbane’s west, sources and incorporates local and sustainable produce into their seasonal menus. Everything on their menu is bespoke, made from scratch in our kitchen and very own bakery.
The Danish word Hygge cannot be translated to one word in English, but my description would be,’ a cosy and contented feeling of wellbeing one gets when spending quiet time indoors with family and friends.‘
Tea and cake or a nice glass of wine in the evenings, may help to promote hygge. When I think of hygge, I think of a wood fire, sitting with my family and my dogs, perhaps a cup of Royal Ritz Loose-leaf Tea from the Tea Centre or perhaps a glass of Shiraz/Port in the evening.
It might be summer in the North, but here in Australia, we welcome winter and that cosy feeling inside our homes that adds a touch of Danish ‘Hygge,’ with a Danish Spice cake reminiscent of warm drinks by a fire, and a relaxed atmosphere.
A Spice cake might also be a great compliment if you are planning a Christmas in July. Including cloves, cardamon and cinnamon, this recipe is packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, giving the immune system a mild boost.
A growing trend in Australia, a Christmas in July event, capitalises on the mild winters and is the perfect excuse to indulge in hearty Christmas dishes, Puddings and Mulled Wine. Foods that are harder to digest when the mercury passes 30 degress Celsius around December.
Spice Cake Recipe
1/2 litre or 2 American cups Plain flour
3.5 deciliters or 1.5 cups Sugar
1 teaspoon each of ground Cloves and Cardamon
3 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
I/2 tablespoon Baking soda
350 ml or 1.5 cups of Kefir/cultured milk/yoghurt/sourcream
2 dessertspoons of Lingonberry or Cranberry jam
75 g or 2.5 oz Butter
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celcius [180 degrees fan forced], or 390 Fahrenheit [360 fan forced].
Mix kefir and jam well in a bowl, electric whisk is always preferable.
Melt the butter, let cool a tiny bit.
Add melted butter and egg to the kefir and jam mix, mixing gently.
Mix together the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients until combined.
Pour cake mix into a greased Bundt tin or cake tin of your choice.
Bake for around 30-40 minutes. [Precise baking time will depend on the size of your dish, and on your oven. You know your oven best!]
Tips for measurement conversions:
1 cup = 8 fl oz = 2.4 dl = 24 cl = 240 ml
1 cup = 10 fl oz = 2.8 dl = 280 ml
dl – 1 deciliter = 6 (scant) tablespoons
Two more Spice cake recipes containing immuno-boosting cinnamon, cloves and cardamon can be found on this post at The Home by the Sea.
During my formative years, as many Aussie families could attest, Salmon dishes hadn’t extended beyond one’s elderly Aunt Betty’s, “Salmon Patty.” For the uninitiated, salmon patties are a slightly bland salmon and mashed potato concoction. For the most part, Australian cuisine hadn’t spread its wings beyond the ‘meat and three veg’, until well after the seventies.
Unless your family was into crabbing or regular fishing trips, like my former neighbour who served up this delicious smoked fish and Red Claw lunch one day, you might not be tempted by seafood at all. But I can’t really understand that! It matters not whether it is Barramundi, Salmon or Mussels, there isn’t any seafood I don’t like.
Ten or so years ago, Norwegian Gravlax, entered my life. I was visiting a Danish friend who was teaching me how to string a loom for weaving, (which had nothing to do with salmon), and she kindly offered me a smoked salmon and lettuce sandwich for lunch. It was humble and it was delicious. I was hooked. I had to have more.
Gravlax tastes like a cross between salmon sashimi (imagine it with the addition of seasoning from salt, plus fresh herb flavour), and the smoked salmon slices you buy at stores – but minus the smokey flavour, because smoked salmon, is, [of course,] made by smoking salmon.
It’s not too salty, the flesh is not overly cured i.e. still nice and moist. But it’s cured enough to be easily sliceable into thin pieces, (which is virtually impossible with raw fish). It’s salty enough that you’ll want to eat the slices plain, but not too salty that you’ll need to guzzle a glass
Most of the salmon, that is produced in salmon farms, is thought to be highly toxic. This is due to the techniques required to produce it according to a documentary on YouTube. Some varieties of FARMED salmon they consider especially so. The farmed salmon can and may infect, wild populations as well.
Although this revelation concerns this salmon zealot, I’ve only discovered the delights of eating smoked salmon a mere decade ago, so I’m thinking I am not about to give it up, yet, especially at my stage of life.
It’s All About the Salmon
So where do you find the best Salmon?
Sweden? The very best I’ve eaten was a Salmon dish in Stockholm, with Swedish friends. A melt-in-the-mouth fillet topped with a berry-based sauce that can only be described as sublime perfection.
Surprisingly enough, the next best salmon dish, I’ve eaten, was a pan-fried Tasmanian Salmon fillet I selected from a local restaurant’s menu. Again, it was – perfection.
Many Scandinavians love eating Salmon, so I can easily blame my Nordic genes, for my present addiction. Finns have a hundred different varieties of this fishy beast to try, as I discovered in Helsinki, one day.
Salmon Quiche, found in a Norwegian friend’s Women’s Weekly magazine, was more popular with visiting guests, than it was with my children, as was a Salmon pie recipe shared by a fellow Australian School-Mum.
Needless to say, I loved them both.
Some folks enjoy Salmon soup, which I found to be quite similar to a creamy seafood chowder I was served in Wellington harbour one year, but the Finns adds a flavour to die for. It must be the fresh dill or the cold waters of the Baltic region? Here’s the one I tasted in Finland.
By now, you have probably figured salmon, smoked or otherwise, had me in its grasp. Each time I ate it, I liked it more and more. So much so that I experimented with making my own Gravlax.
How to Make Your Own Gravlax
A rose gold lump, formerly knows as a marine creature, sat curing in the refrigerator, under a cleaned bluestone rock, for 3 days. It had been doused with black pepper and enough salt to clog several arteries. The rock was to compress it, (apparently). Here is the recipe I followed:
Mix equal parts salt + sugar (combined) to 50% of the weight of the salmon.
Coat a fresh fillet of salmon liberally with the salt and sugar mix
Top with loads of chopped fresh Dill, or herbs of your choice.
Place a cleaned, heavy weight, such as a rock, a paperweight or marble board, on top.
Leave, loosely covered, in the fridge for 24 hours to cure; 36 hours for medium; 48 hours for hard cure. [I chose the medium time frame.]
Slice with a very sharp knife into wafer-thin slices and serve.
Next Friendly Friday Blog Challenge
Sandy, from The Sandy Chronicles, will announce the next theme for the Friendly Friday Challenge over at her blog, in two weeks time.
Have you a particular dish that you know you don’t like, but have never really ever tried it?
Or perhaps you were once bitten, twice shy in regards to a particular food?
For me, that was Sticky Date Pudding.
I would swerve away from these dried out chewy concoctions at buffets and head straight for the chocolate mousse, pavlovas or berry desserts on offer. I am not really a fan of dates, anyway, unless they are in a Mocha Date loaf, one that I have made at home, myself.
Would you call that being a kind of food snob? Hand up – that’s me!
The thought that I was a food snob struck me in an idle moment yesterday, as I was adding the last of the brown sugar from its packet, atop my morning porridge.
As is my habit, I double-checked the information on the side of the empty brown sugar packet, prior to disposing of the packet, in case there was an interesting recipe that I might consider making.
“Oh.” I sighed with resignation, disappointed to see the suggested recipe was merely sticky date pudding. I tossed the packet aside to go in the rubbish.
Not interested in that, I thought.
Nevertheless, with the topic of pudding on my mind, I struck up a conversation with the M.o.t.h. (aka Man of the House).
“Do you like Sticky Date Pudding?”
“No, I don’t.” was his curt reply. “Never have,” he said, shutting down the topic fast.
I can only blame some kind of homemaker’s intuition that made me re-consider that recipe for sticky date pudding, or it could have been the brainwashing of those Zero waste bloggers.
I noted that cream was one of the listed ingredients in the sauce and making it would mean I could use up the leftover cream sitting in the fridge and not feel guilt at being wasteful.
Add to this, I do like to try new recipes and I had never made this before. I am making #onecakeaweek over at the Home by the Sea and a pudding would be a lovely addition to the theme.
What is the Health Benefits of Eating Dates?
Often maligned, dates are surprisingly good for your health. They may aid with digestion, improve bone health, lower cholesterol and are a tasty source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and fibre. Amazing, really.
The umpteen health benefits of dates has made the delicious fruit one of the most sought after foods in the world of health and nutrition.
So, last night at the Home by the Sea, I made that CSR version of Sticky Date Pudding. Can you believe it turned out to be highly successful with the Moth and a completely delightful surprise for me. (Otherwise, it probably would not rate a whole blog post).
It was soft and delicate and there was not one sign of a chewy date, just a subtle fruity flavour with a freshly baked cake-like texture. The butterscotch sauce, which I was so wary of, initially, could be described as a creamy and buttery, ‘nectar of the Gods,’ with a molasses-like sugary flavour that oozed over the pudding, like velvet.
Why was I so tentative about Sticky Dates? This was not the same dried out chewy version of pudding, I always thought of, at all.
As you have surely guessed, I am now a convert, and the M.o.t.h. could not stop raving about it. In fact, so enamoured was he with this version of Pudding he was going back to the kitchen for a third helping, when I intervened suggesting he might like to keep some for the following night. (I was considering his waistline, of course!)
I blogged earlier about the benefits of magnesium rich foods, and broccoli and spinach are great sources of magnesium. Broccoli soup is an easy and delicious way to eat much more broccoli than one can eat as a humble steamed vegetable.
500 g broccoli (diced stalks and sprigs)
Several large spinach leaves, chopped roughly (or silverbeet or rainbow chard)
1 onion, diced
Several celery stalks,sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream, (if you want cream of broccoli soup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pepper and salt to taste
Lemon slices as garnish
Saute the onion and celery in a pan til the onion turns transparent.
Wash broccoli and cut into sprigs and add broccoli, chopped Spinach, chicken stock and onion/ celery mix to a large saucepan.
Bring to boil and simmer for 10- 15 minutes til broccoli is soft.
Then either A or B below:
A. If wanting to make cream of broccoli soup, process using hand blender or vitamizer-blender till smooth. Add cream and return to saucepan heating through whilst adding seasoning and lemon juice. Garnish and serve
B. Gently blend or stir til broccoli breaks up into small sprigs. Add seasonings and lemon juice. Garnish and serve.
A nice accompaniment to Broccoli and Spinach soup would be almond or walnut bread.
The Guest post for this week’s Friendly Friday theme of Nostalgia, comes from Lorelle, an Australian Mum of two, passionate traveller and foodie enthusiast, who blogs at A Mindful Traveller.
I had the immense pleasure of meeting the lovely Lorelle a couple of years ago and she has been so kind to write a beautiful narrative about a very different kind of cake, one that is not only full of tradition but also has a special meaning for her and her family.
“Interestingly, there are two forms of nostalgia, restorative and reflective.
For me, Nostalgia is purely reflective. Stepping down memory lane with no need to recreate the past, is gratifying. The memories and more importantly, the feelings associated with those memories, are forever embedded with us.
Food is a remarkable trigger for Nostalgia, as it is a powerful sensory recollection. We all associate certain foods with memories and feelings.
Sri Lankan Connection
Coming from a Sri Lankan family, food is an important cultural way of life. And when I reflect on the vast variety of delicious and tasty Sri Lankan foods, there is one particular dish that is not only my favourite but one that holds special memories as it is only prepared and eaten at that all-important sacred feast of Christmas.
These customs and traditions allow us to preserve our important ancestral history. Unique, individual stories, wisdom and in this case recipes, passed from generation to generation. As Sri Lankan migrants, my parents continue to pass on their significant heritage to their children, and at important celebrations of the year where family gather, recipes like Sri Lankan Love Cake remind us of where it all began.
History of Sri Lankan Love Cake
This traditional Sri Lankan cake was inspired by the Portuguese from the 1500’s. As the name suggests, Love Cake was originally made to win the heart of an admirer. It is made from cashew nuts, semolina and candied winter melon/squash called puhul dosi (pumpkin preserve). Exotic spices and floral essences create a fragrant, sweet, spiced cake with a soft chewy inside and a crunchy crust.
There are many different variations to Love Cake, with each “Aunty” insisting her recipe is better than the other! Practice is also another requirement. Don’t be alarmed if you do not succeed the first time. Adjusting ingredients or oven temperatures may be necessary.
Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe
In the recipe below, I have used a bain-marie of water to create that soft chewy centre. By placing a tray of water at the bottom of the oven, the moisture stays within the cake and doesn’t dry it out.
So, it is here that Christmas and its celebratory traditional cakes, bring great Nostalgia of our original family home, my grandparents and the sense of togetherness and family love.
Sri Lankan Love Cake
Makes: 2 rectangular baking trays
Prep Time: 30 mins (Eggs need to be at room temperature)
Cooking Time: 2 hours 15 mins
450g butter, softened
650g cashew nuts (pulsed in a food processor until finely chopped, keeping some larger pieces. Do not blend to a powder consistency)
12 egg yolks (at room temperature)
7 egg whites (at room temperature)
700g caster sugar
500 g preserved pumpkin (puhul dosi), finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
2 tbsp almond essence
juice of 1 orange
rind of 1 lemon
2 tsp nutmeg, ground
2 tsp cardamon, ground
1 tsp cinnamon, ground
1 tsp clove, ground
Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced)
Grease two rectangular cake tins and line with foil and then baking paper.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.
Combine the softened butter and semolina together in a separate bowl using your fingers. Add this to the egg and sugar mixture in thirds, beating to combine.
Transfer mixture into a very large mixing bowl and using a wooden spoon incorporate the nuts, pumpkin preserve. Then add rosewater, almond essence, honey, juice and rind, stirring well. Add remaining dry spices and mix.
Whip the egg whites into soft peaks and gently fold through the egg whites into the cake batter in two batches, do not over beat mixture. The egg whites will loosen up the mixture.
Pour batter into prepared cake tins.
Place a large tray of water on bottom oven shelf.
Bake the cakes at 160°C for 20 mins on middle oven shelf.
Reduce heat to 150°C and bake for a further 2 hours and 15 minutes.
If the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
Once cooked and brown on top, remove cakes and allow to cool in trays before transferring. Cut into rectangles or squares when cool.
If you are wondering about preserved pumpkin, Lorelle writes to tell me that:
Preserved pumpkin or Puhul dosi, can be purchased from the Indian/Sri Lankan grocers or you could try to make your own. You can alternatively use preserved or candied squash/winter melon or pineapple. A health food store might stock these items.
In addition to our regular posts, the Friendly Friday team at TheSandyChronicles and StPA, are featuring Guest Posts from Bloggers who contribute to the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge.
Ju-Lyn, a Singaporean blogger, from All Things Bright and Beautiful especially enjoys food and cooking, in addition to making ‘purposeful choices, ‘ and has kindly contributed a guest post to our weekly theme of “Something Different,“ in the form of a post about a Basque Burnt Cheesecake.
Ju-Lyn regularly posts mouth-watering foodie delights, on her blog, and this recipe is no exception.
Did someone say Cheesecake?
I hope you will be tempted to try it, for yourself.
Guest Post by All Things Bright and Beautiful
I love cheesecake, of all sorts: baked/unbaked, cream cheese/ricotta, New York/Japanese. I will scoff each with delight!
It was love at first bite! So enamoured was I that I didn’t realise there was no crust, which I only registered in retrospect. I have never made a cheesecake without a crust before so the idea intrigued me and I begged the recipe off the friend, who gifted me the slice.
It took us a while to get started because our baking shop was out of 500g tubes of cream cheese. After searching for more than a week with no small tubes in sight, I decided to take the plunge and bought a 2kg block. With this quantity, I was free to experiment. The recipe is simple enough, but it makes a tall cake baked in a 6-in circle tin, resulting in a silky gooey centre. Older Daughter wanted to see if dividing the batch into two, (ie. 2 x 6-in tins), would make any difference as she prefers a firmer crumb.
So we did. The verdict is split. Half of us love the taller version, with a slightly squidgy centre. The other half prefer the uniformly firmer texture of the shorter slice. We do all agree that we love the intense, smokey caramelised top of both versions.
· 3 large eggs, room temp (approx 150g of eggs without shell)
· 270g heavy cream/thickened cream
· 20g all-purpose flour
· 1 tsp vanilla extract
· 1 tsp lemon juice
1. Line a 6” circle cake tin with 2 layers of baking paper and trimmed to have an overhanging amount of 1.5″-2″.
2. Preheat oven to 240 degrees C.
3. Cream sugar and cream cheese together until smooth.
4. Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.
5. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Beat until just mixed.
6. In a separate bowl, mix flour and heavy cream until smooth.
7. Slowly pour the cream/flour mixture into the cheese mixture until mixed through.
8. Bake for 30-35mins until top is dark amber and almost charred at parts but the middles still has a wobble to them when you give jiggle the pan.
9. Cool in the tin fully on a wire rack at room temperature to allow the cheesecake to set.
10. Remove from the baking tin and enjoy at room temperature.
11. For a less “gooey” center, place into the fridge after cooled to allow it to chill and set.
For the 2-tin version, we lined the tins with only 1 layer of baking paper.
We shortened the bake time by 5 min.
Thank you Ju-Lyn for creating something different for us.
The photos are enough temptation for me to try creating this on my own.
If you would like to feature in one of the Friendly Friday Team’s Guest Posts, please contact Sandy, from (TheSandyChronicles) and Amanda, from (StPA), either by way of comment below or directly via their Blog Contact Pages.
The Friendly Friday Photo Challenge with the theme Something Different, will conclude Friday this week, when Sandy will post a new theme on The Sandy Chronicles.
When is a Cookie a biscuit? When you live in Australia, of course.
On April 25 each year, Anzac Day, the nation stops to commemorate the supreme sacrifice of a group of soldiers that have contributed to the development of our national psyche. We don’t have many traditions of our own so we have adopted this to be a signifier that we are Australian. And the Anzac tradition has even spawned a biscuit or cookie! How Australian!
Today, there won’t be any dawn Anzac services attended by the many descendants of those soldiers, so it is likely that we might all be baking these biscuits at home, remembering the soldiers.
The ANZAC Biscuit
During WWI, a certain type of biscuit/cookie was sent by mail, in sealed tins, to the troops fighting in the filthy trenches at Lone Pine and Anzac Cove in Turkey. They were sent all the way from Australia, from the mothers and sweethearts of those brave, young men who were to fight Britain’s war against Turkey.
It was thought this biscuit would keep well in transit for an extended period of time. As such they are regarded as quintessentially Australian and our tradition of making Anzac biscuits on April 25, has continued for the past 9 years. Almost as old as this blog itself!
Below you will find the recipe.
Anzac Biscuit Recipe
I have posted two versions here. The first recipe is mine and the second, the trusty Women’s Weekly magazine version. Please post what temperature worked for you, if you do try the recipe…
Preheat Oven 170 – 180 C or 350 F
1 cup plain or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup – you can use honey or maple syrup as an alternative
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
160 g or (⅔ cup) butter, melted
Method 1. Sift flour and ginger into a mixing bowl and add coconuts, oats and sugar. Mix and make a well in the centre ready for the addition of the wet ingredients.
2. Stir in Golden syrup, boiling water and bicarb soda, in a small bowl, until combined.
3. Add the syrup mix into the dry ingredients, along with the melted butter. Mix well.
4. Take heaped teaspoons of mix and roll into small balls.
5. Place on trays and flatten gently.
6. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown
7. Cool on tray 10 minutes until they firm up slightly.
Wanting to try the ever faithful Woman’s Weekly recipes, last year I cooked up a second batch. These ones aren’t so crisp, but if you like the flavour of brown sugar, they are worth a ‘go.’
Woman’s Weekly Anzacs
Preheat oven 160 -175 C or 350 F
125 g (I cup) butter chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon golden syrup
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons water
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup Rolled Oats
Melt butter and golden syrup over low heat.
Add bicarb and water to butter mix.
Mix remaining dry ingredients and combine wet and dry.
Spoon teaspoons of mix on to lined baking sheet, and flatten slightly.
Before the southern summer heat vents its spleen and the northerners tuck themselves in for winter, a nutritious meal that might ward off cold and flu viruses that accompany seasonal changes, could be just what we need.
Such as Minestrone served with some crusty rolls/baguette slices.
There are a multitude of recipes for Minestrone out there, from basic to gourmet, but I tend to think the best for me, is a mixture of both. Something easy to prepare, easy to cook and simple to remember, especially when I am out shopping for ingredients.
Saute, simmer and sip…..that is my mantra when making soups. You don’t want to be fussing too much, nor for too long.
Minestrone Soup can be a complete meal in a bowl, providing plenty of protein, carbohydrate, minimal fat, green vegetables, lots of fibre plus vitamin C, A , B, beta-carotene, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc and more.
It is also a great way to use up those leftover vegetables that are heading towards their use-by date.
The recipe can be adapted to feed a hungry horde or a small two person family. Another advantage is that you can cook this in one large saucepan, if you wish (read: less washing up), or you may prefer to saute the ingredients separately. This is totally your choice.
2 rashers Bacon ( this is optional, if you want to keep it vegetarian)
500 ml (2 U.S. cups) Beef/Chicken/Vege Stock, plus 1/2 cup extra stock in reserve.
An assortment of vegetables which might include:
2 – 3 Carrots, sliced & diced
1/2 cup sliced cabbage
2 medium Potatoes, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced but keep leaves and top of stalk whole
1/2 cup Frozen/fresh sliced beans
2 zucchinis, diced into large chunks
1/2 cup Spinach, chopped roughly (frozen or fresh)
1-2 Handfuls of torn fresh basil leaves
440 g (15oz) Can Chopped Tomatoes
120g (5oz) tin Beans of your choice (cannellini, kidney or even a can of four bean mix)
1/2 cup dried Pasta* , preferably small shells/spirals but any pasta will do nicely
* Time-saving tip: Use leftover cooked pasta, instead of dried/fresh.
splash of red wine (optional)
2 Bay leaves
Herbs such as Oregano, parsley
Salt and Pepper
Shaved Parmesan cheese (fresh) for garnish
What you can do whilst watching TV or listening to some good music, otherwise known as the:
Begin to heat the stock in a large saucepan.
In a separate pan, saute bacon, onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes, and add the stock.
Add prepared vegetables and basil leaves to the pan and saute for about 3-5 minutes depending on the quantities used.
Add the chopped vegetables to the stock mix along with the whole celery leaves, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and red wine) and bring to the boil.
Simmer for 10 minutes – quite enough time to take a power nap, relax, change the playlist, check email, (although I don’t encourage the latter). You could even try some of the wine, if you decided to add some to the soup! Not too much, though, or you might forget to include the last few steps of the recipe!
I like to remove the Bay and celery leaves at this point, otherwise it is difficult to retrieve them later on.
Add the dried pasta, herbs and seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste.
Cook for about 8 -10 minutes. It should be starting to smell oh-so-good!!!
Drag yourself away from the computer, or the wine, to check on the stove! At this stage, it should look a bit like a thick casserole as opposed to a soup. You can leave it this way, if you prefer, or
Add around extra 1/2 – 3/4 cup stock or water, to thin it down a little.
Heat through, taste test to adjust seasonings, and serve, garnished with a little fresh shaved Parmesan.
Voila – A complete meal in a bowl and little washing up!
I was recently asked for a way to get folks and children to eat brown rice. “Disguise it with yummy additions,” I said. Or use the recipe below:
So far it hasn’t met with rejection.
[Just don’t tell anyone this is actually Brown Rice for then staunch haters of brown rice will gobble this up!!]
Brown rice is a great source of magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, thiamine, manganese and B group vitamins as well as fibre s it is quite disappointing to see folks/children reject it based on its taste. This recipe complements its nutty flavour.
Nutty Brown Rice
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
50 g pine nuts
1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
Season to taste
Heat oil in heavy saucepan and saute onion and celery fro about 3 minutes till onion becomes transparent.
Add pine nuts and cook over low heat for 2 minutes or until they are lightly browned.
Add the rice, stirring well until the grains are well coated with oil.
Add the Stock, Thyme and Bay leaf and bring to the boil .
Cover saucepan and simmer until rice is tender and all the vegetable stock is absorbed. This will take about 45 minutes.
Season if desired.
Add 1.4 tsp cumin or Turmeric towards end of cooking.
Leave to cool, then add beansprouts and serve as a cold rice salad.