Thursday, May 31, 2007

Raspberry yoghurt cake

Thursday night is work-baking night; that is, when I generally bake something to take to work to celebrate Friday, being the end of our working week. Lately, I have been receiving a few hints for something a little more friendly on the waistline than my usual treats; after all, we work in an office, and unless we make the effort to go to the gym or get some other form of exercise, sitting in a chair all day is not exactly conducive to burning off calories.

With this in mind, I decided to make raspberry yoghurt cake from page 320 of The Australian Women's Weekly 501 Low-Fat Recipes. If made in accordance with the recipe, this cake has 6.5g of fat and 192 calories per serve. I reduced the fat count a little further by substituting the cream cheese frosting suggested in the recipe for lemon icing. Lemon and raspberries are a terrific flavour combination, and I am not a huge fan of cream cheese frosting, so I see this modification as an improvement. Here is what the cake looks like once completed:

This cake is easy to make. The biggest hitch is when you are turning the cake out of the pan to cool, because the fruit content makes it little more fragile than most cakes. My recommendations to avoid the cake cracking or breaking are to be particularly gentle when turning out the cake, and to make sure that you line the pan with baking paper as suggested by the recipe before pouring in the batter so that the fruit doesn't stick to the pan. I found that I needed less than the 1 hour and 5 minutes cooking time stated in the recipe, obviously due to the idiosyncrasies of my oven.

So that I could taste-test the cake for this blog, I baked one dessert spoonful of batter separately in a patty cake tin. My verdict on this cake is - scrumptious! The fruit and yoghurt combined to make the cake moist and flavoursome, and the fact that it is relatively low in fat and calories (for a cake!) is a bonus. I would definitely make this cake again. Here's hoping that the troops like it too!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lemon delicious

It is a rather chilly evening in Melbourne tonight - perfect for the comforting inner glow of a warm pudding! Flicking through my cookbooks, my eye was caught by the description of "Lovely Lemon Curdy Pud" on page 284 of Jamie Oliver's Happy Days with the Naked Chef. This is actually what many of us know as Lemon Delicious. Growing up, this was one of my favourite puddings (in fact, almost any pudding was my favourite pudding ;)). Jamie describes this pudding as "sort of lemon curdy custard at the bottom and a spongy meringuey top". I found this description too hard to resist!

The results of my efforts are as follows:

I let the pudding go a little browner than I should have, but it made no difference - it was indeed delicious!

This was my kind of pudding - very quick to make, warm, light, fluffy and lemony - in fact, a little ray of sunshine to penetrate even the darkest, coldest Melbourne night. If you are a fan of old-fashioned warm puddings, give this a go - you won't regret it!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Jamie's tuna and tomato pasta

Unusually, I cooked on a Monday night so that I have "leftovers" to take to work for lunch for the rest of the week. The dish in question is a basic tuna and tomato pasta recipe from page 64 of Jamie Oliver's Cook with Jamie, which he calls "Jool's favourite Saturday afternoon pasta". Until recently, I had no idea how to cook pasta as a main course, having grown up in a classic "meat and three veg" Aussie household. However, after eating a friend's delicious pasta dishes on a number of occasions, I decided to give it a try, and I am glad that I did. This pasta dish is just one of many in my new repertoire (although I am yet to tackle the challenge of making fresh pasta).

Here is a photo of the finished product:

This is really easy and quick to make (although the sauce needs to reduce for 20 minutes, it doesn't need constant attention). Tuna, tomato, basil and lemon flavours blend with a delicious result. Highly recommended!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Chicken with lemon, thyme & garlic; apple cinnamon muffins

To ease my way through the working week, I like to do most of my cooking for the week over the weekend. This means that when I get home from work, I can settle down in front of the TV with my equivalent of a TV dinner, albeit one that I have made myself. The drawback of this approach is that I often eat the same meal for the whole week; however, it is one that I am prepared to live with for the sake of simplicity in the evenings. I also usually bake muffins or a cake on the weekend so that I can take it to work for morning tea. I will generally only bake again during the week when I am baking for my work colleagues, which I love to do, because (a) people seem to enjoy eating my baking as much as I enjoy doing it; (b) it allows me to try out new and more adventurous recipes than I would generally make for myself; and (c) I usually make things that do not pretend to be low fat, on the basis that once they are shared around, none of us is risking our waistlines. Everything in moderation, I always say!

Today, I made apple cinnamon muffins from page 12 of the Australian Heart Foundation's
Deliciously Healthy Cookbook. For copyright reasons, I will not post the recipe. However, here is a photo of my version:

These muffins are terrific served warm or cold, and can be served for breakfast instead of for morning tea. Although one muffin has roughly the same fat and calorie count as one
Tim Tam, it contains apple and oats, making it more "filling" and nutritionally valuable (and besides, who can stop at one Tim Tam ;)).

For dinner, I meant to make Chicken with Lemon, Thyme, Garlic and Smashed Potatoes from p119 of Karen Martini's
Where the Heart Is. Karen is a Melbourne-based chef who writes regularly for The Age newspaper on Sunday. Unfortunately, I forgot to buy potatoes, so I substituted Japanese pumpkin rubbed with sumac and salt, and sprayed lightly with oil before roasting for half an hour in the same dish as the chicken. Other alterations that I made to the recipe were to place 2 teaspoons of low fat olive oil spread under the skin of the chicken instead of the butter referred to in the recipe, and spray the chicken lightly with olive oil instead of pouring a larger quantity of oil over it. These changes reduce the amount of fat. Also, instead of serving the chicken with a green salad as suggested by Karen, I served it with boiled mixed veges.

This chicken tasted devine - the flavours of garlic, thyme, lemon and onion blend wonderfully and satisfy my need for "zing", but I believe are subtle enough to be enjoyed by those who do not like strong or spicy flavours.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

An introduction

Hi there! Having admired and religiously read the food blogs created by others around the world for around two years, I have been inspired to create a blog devoted to my own efforts in the kitchen.

Cooking gives me great pleasure on many levels. It allows me to be creative and adventurous, to relax and (sometimes!) to work off some steam, and gives me a sense of achievement. Further, cooking evokes fond memories of my childhood and allows me to connect with my heritage by using the same recipes that my mother and grandmother used. I also love sharing my creations with others, and I hope that they enjoy eating them as much as I enjoy making them.

There are already many fine food bloggers out there, some of whom have been so original and creative in their writing and cooking that they have gone on to produce books and newspaper columns based on their blogs. I do not aspire to these heights. Rather, I simply wish to share my efforts in the kitchen with those who are interested, and record my adventures in the wonderful world of food.

Bon appetite!