Upside Down Blueberry, Hazelnut And Ricotta Cake

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Cake has a wonderful way of making everything seem good and bright and cheery.

This upside down blueberry cake is light and fruity and not-too-sweet.

Why is it an upside down cake? The blueberries sink to the bottom of the cake during baking so flipping it over onto a plate lets the dark purple colours shine through. It’s far prettier served upside down. The crumbled chunks of ricotta create little pockets of soft cheese that surprise and excite when you spoon into the cake and find them there nestled next to the tangy blueberries.

Although i’d usually make this cake with almond meal, today I’ve used ground hazelnuts. But to be honest I think the almond is the way to go. You can be your own judge, and try either or both.

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Upside down blueberry, hazelnut and ricotta cake 

4 free range eggs separated

150g caster sugar

65g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

50g hazelnut meal

Zest of 1 lemon

100g melted butter

150g ricotta

125g punnet fresh blueberries 

To serve

Icing sugar

Thickened cream 

Pre heat oven to 175C. Line a 22cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.

Place the egg yolks and caster sugar in a medium bowl and whisk for 1 minute till light and creamy.

Sift the flour and baking powder onto the eggs, add the hazelnut meal, zest of lemon, and melted butter, and whisk to combine.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites to a soft peak.

Add half the egg whites to the cake mixture and fold gently, add remaining egg whites and fold till combined. Finally, crumble to ricotta in large chunks into the cake, add the blueberries fold gently and pour into lined cake tin.

Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack (don’t serve it warm, it’s better cold).

To serve, place an upside down plate over the cake, flip it over and remove the base. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with thickened cream.

 

(C) Copy right 2016 – Upside down blueberry, hazelnut and ricotta cake

Turmeric Potato Salad With Red Quinoa And Yoghurt

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This is far from the conventional mayonnaise based potato salad that most people have in their repertoire. This little beauty uses fresh turmeric added to the potatoes before boiling so the colour leaches out and stains the potatoes a vibrant yellow.

It’s flavoured with coriander seeds, cumin seeds and nigella seeds, which are all roasted off in a pan first to best release their flavour.

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Each time I make this salad my head starts to nod of it’s own accord. I cheer the brilliance of turmerics soft gentle flavour and what roasted spices can do here, and that just right flavour that slow cooked onions adds to this dish.

And there’s the yoghurt. Spices and yoghurt could go with just about anything. Wouldn’t you agree?

This extraordinary tasting salad can be eaten warm or cold. As a side to a steak, chicken or fish. As part of a buffet of salads, or even served in a wholemeal wrap with extra yoghurt and coriander. The possibilities are endless. So spice it up.

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Turmeric potato salad with quinoa and yoghurt

Ingredients

900g desiree potatoes

35-40g fresh turmeric

1/4 cup red quinoa

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tsp nigella seeds

1 brown onion, sliced thinly

2 tbsp chopped coriander stem, plus coriander leaves for garnish

Rice bran oil

Greek style yoghurt

1/2 lemon juiced

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Leave the skin on the potatoes and cut them into 4cm dice. Place in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add the grated turmeric and a large pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 8 – 10 minutes or till potatoes are just soft. Drain and leave to steam in the colander for 5 or more minutes.

Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a small pot, cover with water bring to the boil and cook for about 15 minutes, drain and set aside.

Place the coriander seed, cumin seed and nigella seed in a separate small pan. Toast the spices till they start to pop. Cool slightly them ground roughly using a mortar and pestle.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frypan. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook on a low heat for about 8 minutes, till caramalised. Set the onion aside.

Wipe out the fry pan and add 1 tbsp oil, add the cooked potatoes and fry lightly in the pan for about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped coriander stem, cooked onion, roasted ground spices and cooked quinoa. Toss to combine. Season with lemon juice and taste for extra salt and pepper.

Serve the potatoes on a large platter, garnish with dollops of yoghurt and picked coriander leaves.

(C) Copy right 2016 : Food From Michelle’s Kitchen Turmeric potato salad with red quinoa and yoghurt

Zucchini, Tuna And Borlotti Bean Salad With Chilli And Lemon

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Not even I can deny the convenience of opening a can of pulses, rinsing them under water, and having them ready to use. It’s what I call fast food. The type we should all be eating.

Whether it’s Borlotti beans, cannellini beans or chickpeas (which by the way, the later two make a great substitute to the borlotti in this salad) the fast access to a pulse that would usually need to be soaked over night and cooked for 30 minutes or longer just can’t be denied.  So I’m happy to use this short cut when I need fast feeding.

This recipe proves that fast food can be healthy. The spirals of zucchini (which look like pasta in this shot) are my favourite element to the salad. I’m grateful for my spirelli cutter, which makes quick work (and beautiful spirals of zucchini). If you aren’t a convert yet, you can use a peeler, a mandolin, do the old fashioned way and use a knife, or – though it’s not as pretty – as a last resort, just grate the zucchini.

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A large glug of extra virgin olive oil (don’t be shy here, it’s so good for you) is heated lightly for the garlic and chilli to gently cook in. In goes the zucchini, a quick swizzle in the pan before turning off the heat and adding the drained tuna, lemon zest (wax-free if you can), juice and rinsed borlotti beans.

If you’re in the middle of winter (like I am) you’d eat it warm, but if you’re beating the heat of summer, let it cool and eat it cold – either way, it’s just so good!

Each time I walk past my bowl of organic homegrown lemons, sitting by the window sill, I think of how lucky I am to have wax-free lemons picked from my own tree. I wonder why all store-bought lemons can’t be wax-free. Surely everyone deserves wax-free lemons. If you don’t have a lemon tree, find someone who does, or, buy organic wax-free lemons, you will benefit immensely.

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I’ll never tire of the classic combination of garlic, chilli, lemon and tuna. I don’t think you will either. It’s so Italian. It’s so simplistic. It’s just right.

And really, any food this delicious that can be made in ten minutes deserves a little attention.

Zucchini, tuna and borlotii bean salad with chilli and lemon 

Serves 1

Ingredients

50ml extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, sliced thinly

1/2 long red chilli, deseeded and sliced

2 small-medium zucchini

95g can tuna, drained (I use Sirena, Italian style)

3/4 cup borlotti beans, drained and rinsed

1 wax-free lemon

Sea salt 

Cracked black pepper

Scattering of picked parsley 

Prepare the zucchini into thin long strips by your preferred method of a spirelli cutter, mandolin, knife or grater.

Zest the lemon and juice half of it.

Warm the extra virgin olive oil in a medium fry pan, add the garlic and chilli, and cook gently for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, sea salt and cracked pepper, cook gently for 1-2 minutes.

Turn off the heat, add the drained tuna, drained borlotti beans, lemon zest and juice, toss lightly to combine. Serve warm scattered with parsley and if so desired grilled bread.

Medjool Date And Cranberry Balls With Chia And Macadamia

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Truth be known – I adore Medjool dates, and think they are fabulous simply eaten as is. Their soft, sweet, distinct caramel flavour, can’t be beat.

But you take that flavour and add it with other goodies like chia seeds, spices, coconut, and nuts and you get date balls. They are my latest obsession, and they might become yours too.

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The dried cranberries can be left out entirely. But I quite like the tart flavour they add. Instead of cinnamon you might use mixed spice, ground ginger, or even a pinch of nutmeg. As an alternative to rolling them in coconut you might roll them in sesame seeds, or raw cacao. But I love anything rolled in coconut…

As long as the Medjool dates you buy are fresh, these balls will last for up to a month in an airtight container in the fridge. That is if they aren’t eaten well before then.

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Medjool date and cranberry balls with chia seed and macadamia nuts 

Ingredients

1 tbsp black chia seeds

150g macadamia nuts

450g Medjool dates 

80g dried cranberries

1 tsp cinnamon 

1 cup shredded coconut 

Place the chia seeds in a small bowl with 1/4 cup cold water. Whisk till combined and stand for 10 minutes. The chia seeds will swell up and turn to a gel consistency.

Meanwhile, roast the macadamia nuts in a moderate oven (180C) for about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, place in a food processor and blitz to a rough crumb. Set aside.

Break open the dates and remove the pip. Roughly chop the dates and place in a food processor with the cranberries. Add the soaked chia seeds and cinnamon. Blitz the mix till the dates are well combined. In the final 30 seconds add the chopped macadamia nuts, the mix should come together in a ball.

Divide the mix into about 20 balls, rolling them between your finger tips and the palm of your hand. Place them on a tray. On a second tray, lay the shredded coconut. Roll each ball in the coconut till covered all over.

Store them in an air tight container out of the fridge. Eat within one month.

Chicken, Ginger And Udon Noodle Broth

DSC_0211One of my favourite smells in the kitchen, the one that brings feelings of comfort and nourishment, and a guarantee of food that can be shared, is a pot of chicken soup as it gently simmers on the stove top.

This chicken soup is one of a sweet nature. The combination of sweet and salty soy sauce flavours the broth and gives it its rich dark colouring. There is fresh ginger, kaffir lime, chilli and cardamon added, and by the time the broth is ready the flavours are complex and layered.

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If there is one piece of advice to follow, be it this: Start with a quality free-range chicken. This will give your broth the best flavour it deserves. That flavour leaches out into the broth permeating the stock with goodness and as well as the flesh of the chicken, once shredded being of a greater quality remaining soft and succulent.

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It’s imperative that the noodles are cooked to order. The udon noodles I buy are portioned into 90g serves, which is the perfect size for one person. If there’s two, use two portions, and so on…

The remaining broth can be stored for several days. You heat it and cook more noodles as required. The broth also freezes well so portion it up and keep it frozen for those days you need nourishing and comforting.

 

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Chicken ginger and udon noodle broth 

Ingredients 

1.6kg free range chicken

2 brown onions, quartered

2 carrots, chopped

2 large sticks celery, chopped

5cm piece of ginger, sliced

4 cloves garlic, smashed

4 kaffir lime leaves

1 chilli, split down the middle

1 bunch of coriander root and stem

6 cardamon pods

10 black peppercorns

1/3 cup sweet soy sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 litres water

To serve

Udon noodles (allow 90g per person)

Picked coriander leaves

Sliced green spring onions

Baby spinach leaves, or any Asian green vegetable

Wedges lime

Hot chilli sauce

Chinese red vinegar

Place the chicken in a large pot, add the onions, carrot, celery, ginger, garlic, kaffir lime, chilli, coriander root, cardamon pods, black peppercorns and both the soy sauces. Add 3 litres of cold water, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, skim off any impurities that rise to the top and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stand chicken in the broth for another 15 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside on a tray. Once cool enough to handle, discard the skin and shred chicken into thin strips. Discard the bones, set chicken aside.

Strain the broth into a medium sized pan, press the vegetables into the strainer to squeeze all the flavour from the cooked veg, discard the vegetables. Skim off any excess fat and taste for seasoning.

Mix together a 50/50 ratio of Chinese red vinegar and hot chilli sauce.

To serve, cook the udon noodles in plenty of boiling water to packet instructions, drain and divide noodles between bowls.

Heat the amount of broth required, once it comes to the boil add some shredded chicken back into the broth and ladle over the hot noodles. Garnish with spinach, coriander leaves and green onions. Spoon over some hot chilli and vinegar sauce, squeeze a wedge of fresh lime on top and eat immediately.

Roast Pumpkin, Black Bean and Halloumi Fritters

 

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Most of you would be familiar with the combination of roasted pumpkin and halloumi cheese, you’ve probably seen it on numerous cafe menus. But did you know how brilliantly these two ingredients combine with black beans for a vegetarian fritter out of this world?

I have this thing with black beans at the moment – don’t you?

I keep finding ways to use them in place of some of the other more common pulses like chickpeas and kidney beans. And I reckon they are perfect in these vegetarian fritters. 

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I prefer to plan ahead and use dried black beans because they taste better. And unlike the canned variety they aren’t as mushy. But I guess if you were short on time and needed black beans fast you could use a can of pre cooked black beans, plenty of stores are stocking them now. 

 

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One of the common mistakes with fritters is not having them bind together properly, then they fall apart in the pan as they cook. This is not the case with these fritters. Roasting the pumpkin helps dry it out, and the halloumi cheese with its delightful salty taste and familiar squeaky texture adds a necessary firmness. This is also achieved by the addition of egg and chickpea flour to bind it all together.

So what’s the best way to serve these fritters? There’s several options: In a burger. Broken up and rolled into a wrap. You might eat them with salad or steamed vegetables. There’s so many ways to enjoy them.

But of all these ways, I highly recommend eating them with a squirt of hot chilli sauce, a dollop of sour cream, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Oh, and don’t forget the mild pickled peppers.

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Roast pumpkin, black bean and halloumi fritters 

Makes about 10 large fritters

Ingredients 

1 cup dried black beans

350g peeled  butternut pumpkin, cut into 4cm chunks 

250g halloumi cheese, cut or torn into pieces 

1 cup washed and picked parsley leaves 

1 tsp hot smoked paprika

 Sea salt

White pepper

1 free range egg

chickpea (besan) flour

1/4 cup sesame seeds 

 Rice bran oil for frying

To serve:

Lime – juice and wedges

Hot chilli sauce

Sour cream 

1-2 fresh chillies, deseeded and sliced

Mild pickled peppers 

Place the beans in a bowl, cover them with cold water and soak for 12 hours or over night.

The following day, pre heat oven to 180C. Drizzle the cut pumpkin with oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes, or till soft, set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, drain the pre soaked black beans, place in a medium sized pot, cover with water and cook till just soft (about 25-30 minutes). Drain and rinse briefly under cold water. Take 1/2 cup of the cooked black beans and set aside for garnishing.

Place the roasted pumpkin, torn haloumi cheese, picked parsley and smoked paprika in a food processor, blitz till just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Place the remaining cooked black beans (minus the 1/2 cup) in the food processor and lightly blitz, till the beans are broken up but still chunky.

Add the beans to the pumpkin mix. Add the egg and 1/4 cup chickpea flour. Mix till well combined.

Place 1/3 cup chickpea flour and 1/4 cup sesame seeds in a flat tray. Shape the fritters in to 10 rounds and dust each fritter in the flour and sesame seeds. Set aside.

Heat a large non stick fry pan with a shallow covering of rice bran oil, cook the fritters in two batches, on a low heat till golden on both sides. Repeat with remaining fritters.

Take the reserved 1/2 cup of black beans and season them with chopped fresh chilli, lime juice and sesame oil.

You can serve the fritters on a platter, scatter with the reserved black beans, pickled mild peppers and serve with sour cream and chilli sauce.

 

Roasted Cauliflower and Za’atar Carrot Salad with Spiced Yoghurt

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I don’t care that the weather is getting colder and that raw and crunchy foods are becoming less desirable. I still want to eat salad. I love salad. I’m on a roll with eating salads, and I want it to continue. It makes me feel so good!

So, cold raw salads need to be turned on their head. They need to become warm salads that offer comfort. It’s time to start cranking the oven. And one of the best vegetables to roast in that oven is cauliflower.

Once you’ve cut your cauliflower into slices, sprinkle it with za’atar, and drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil before it goes in the oven to roast.

The hint of sumac – a sour berry – in the za ‘atar gives a subtle sweet tang, off set by thyme and sesame seeds, which are also essential ingredients to a good za’atar spice mix. It’s so simple I could cry.

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I’ve used one of those Spirelli vegetable cutters, the ones that curl and spiral vegetables into beautiful long strands, but don’t let this stop you if you don’t have one. Just cut the carrots into thin matchsticks instead.

Creamy dressings go well with roasted vegetables and a spiced yoghurt dressing couldn’t be easier. A few coriander seeds, a few cumin seeds roasted then pounded and sprinkled on the yoghurt; it’s top stuff!

This salad is for one. So boost up the amounts if you’re cooking for others. Not that cooking for others is always necessary; cook for your self this one time. Make this salad for one, and love it for all the right reasons.

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Roasted cauliflower and za’atar carrot salad 

Ingredients

2 cups of sliced cauliflower florets

Extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp za’atar spice mix (look in Middle Eastern stores for an authentic one)

1 medium carrot

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

3-4 tbsp yoghurt

Handful wild rocket leaves

Sea salt

Pre heat oven to 200C

Slice the cauliflower into 2cm thick slices, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, za’atar and sea salt, rub lightly and roast for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel the carrot and if using a spirelli cutter spiral the carrot into thick spirals, or use a knife to cut the carrots into thin matchsticks.

After the cauliflower has roasted for 25 minutes, add the carrot and mix lightly. Use a little more oil if the vegetables look dry and continue roasting for another 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly before tossing through the salad.

Place coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small, dry fry pan, toast till seeds start to pop. Ground lightly in a mortar and pestle.

Place the washed rocket in a bowl, scatter with roasted cauliflower and carrot, dollop over the yoghurt and sprinkle it with the coriander seed mix to suit your tastes.

Eat whilst still warm.

Food inspiration from my kitchen to yours.