Swiss Roll

The first time I made a Swiss Roll I do believe it was in my Home Economics class and I was around 14 years old. That was over 30 years ago.

It was also the last time I made a Swiss Roll.

In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, Swiss Roll making isn’t a high frequency activity in my kitchen.

Got it?

Anyhoo…I needed to make something for my Thursday lunch group.  It needed to be something simple and non energy-sapping. I’d just made a double batch of Lemon Butter and thought maybe some of that could be used in …  something?

Lemon Butter.

Lemon Butter.

Then I remembered that one of the ladies at the group is doing a cookery course and one of her assignments was a sponge cake filled with lemon curd.

‘What about a Swiss Roll?’ something whispered in the back of my head.

So I went with it.

I found this very simple recipe here on one of Jamie Oliver’s sites. I can honestly say it’s one of the easiest things I have ever made.

The hardest part was working out whether I had a Swiss Roll tin! I knew they were big and flattish but…so I asked Mr Google and found the answer resided here, with the ever delectable Nigella Lawson.

A Swiss roll tin is a specific tin that is designed to bake a thin, rectangular sponge cake that is then rolled up to make a Swiss roll (jelly roll or roulade). It has slightly raised edges (about 2 to 3cm/3/4 to 1 inch) deep and has dimensions of roughly 23 x 33cm (9 x 13 inches).

I had one of those. It was all good.

I also had all three (3!) of the necessary ingredients.

I used a stand mixer because I can’t hold things very well right now and I could just turn this on and block my ears. If you have a hand-held electric beater or whisk then go for it. If you have none of these things but are possessed of a balloon whisk and well-developed biceps, then feel free to join in the fun.

Heat your oven to 200°C/400°F.

Start with sifting a teeny amount of caster sugar into a bowl and add three eggs.

Start with eggs and sugar. Now beat.

Start with eggs and sugar. Now beat.

Whisk the two together until the mixture becomes thick and creamy.  This could take quite some time. I stopped at one point and decided to add some lemon zest to the batter just to tie it to the lemon butter a bit better. Not sure it made a measurable contribution in the end.

You can see it's getting a little thicker here.

You can see it’s getting a little thicker here.

It still wasn’t thick enough though. You are looking for a thick, creamy looking batter. You’ll know you’ve reached the right point when the beaters start to leave a trail in the mixture, like this…

Can you see the ripples? That.

Can you see the ripples? That.

Put your electric beaters away; from this point on being gentle is your game plan.

Sift the Self Raising flour into a bowl and then sift it again into the mixture. Fold it through the egg mixture using a metal fork.

Gently fold in the flour.

Gently fold in the flour.

I might be the only person you know who uses a fork for this, but it works. Folding is basically the same as stirring, but in slow motion. You are trying not to beat out all the air that you have just beat into the egg mixture. Think of the flour as just being there to stabilise that structure.

Once all the flour is incorporated, stop.

2015-08-26 17.17.03

Line your Swiss roll tin. Pour the mixture into the tin and spread out with a spatula. Again, be gentle.

Trim the paper after you've filled the tin.

Trim the paper after you’ve filled the tin.

Bake for 7-8 minutes, until lightly brown and fully set.

In retrospect, I think mine could have used a few minutes more...

In retrospect, I think mine could have used a few minutes more…

Now, this here is the secret bit so listen up!  I remembered this from Home Ec. all those years ago.

Mrs Wood would be proud.

You’ve got to roll it up while it’s still warm and let it cool that way. That prevents cracks (and tears ) caused by rolling up a cold cake.

So, using the paper lining, pull the cake up out of the tin and onto a cake rack. Decide if you want to roll from the long side or the short and orient your cake accordingly. Mine was to serve a lot of people after a lot of food – small slices would do. I went for the long side roll.

Pull the paper away from the other edges, so it doesn’t get rolled into the cake.

Pull your lining paper away from the other edges.

Pull your lining paper away from the other edges. As you can see, a few minutes more in the oven might have been in order…

Roll up slowly with the lining paper still on. This will stop it from sticking to itself when you need to unroll it later.

Roll up your roll. (Sorry.)

Roll up your roll.

Then roll your roll up in a clean, dry tea towel. Leave it until it is completely cool.

Roll into a tea towel.

Roll into a tea towel.

Alternatively, you might wish to remove the backing paper and use a tea towel in its place so that the fabric is holding the cake apart. I didn’t have any tea towels without a pile to hand and that would have only ended badly.

When it is completely cool, unroll and fill with lemon butter if you wish.  You might also like to use jam, or thickly whipped cream. Just remember that you need to roll it up again, so don’t slather it on or you’ll have filling oozing out everywhere.

Spread with your filling of choice.

Spread with your filling of choice.

Re roll, this time leaving the paper (or tea towel) behind.

Re-roll.

Re-roll.

I wrapped mine up, sausage-like, in cling wrap and refrigerated it overnight.

Swiss Roll sausage

Swiss Roll sausage

To serve, place on a serving tray and sprinkle with icing (confectioner’s) sugar – I forgot to take a picture of this bit. Sorry.

This is what it looked like after we’d eaten most of it though…

Cross-section.

Cross-section.

It was very well received.

Swiss Roll

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

3 eggs

75 g caster sugar

75 g self-raising flour

2-3 tablespoons jam/lemon curd

Method

Heat oven to 200°C/400°F.

Grease and line a Swiss Roll tin with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour onto a plate.

Place the eggs and sift sugar into a mixing bowl.

Whisk using an electric beater until the mixture becomes thick and creamy and the beaters leave a visible trail. About 5 minutes.

Sift the flour (for a second time) into the mixing bowl and gently fold into the mixture using a fork.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out gently with a spatula.

Bake for 7-8 minutes.

Turn out of the tin onto a cooling rack and gently remove the backing paper.

Roll up using a clean, woven tea-towel and leave until cool.

When cool, unroll and spread with your desired filling.

Re-roll. Place on serving dish with the edge of the roll on the bottom, and sprinkle with icing or confectioner’s sugar.

Slice to serve.

 

 

 

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Microwaved Jacket Potato

I'm feeling peckish now.

There are times when you want something quick but hearty to eat, be it for dinner or lunch.

This is one of those dishes.

In fact, this is an ideal process to teach hollow-legged teenagers to follow for filling/healthy after school or school holiday snacks. Actually, it just makes an ideal Saturday/after sport/after-after-school-activity-and-I’m-too-tired-to-cook-anything-imaginative-dinner.

If you have a microwave, then you can have a baked jacket potato on your plate in mere minutes. In fact, many microwaves have a potato button…

Spot the 'Potato' button.

Spot the ‘Potato’ button.

But you can still do this even if your particular zapper doesn’t.

First, you need a potato.

This is a potato.

This is a potato.

I buy washed potatoes. I know they are cheaper unwashed, but I don’t enjoy scrubbing them and I refuse to peel potatoes on the grounds of good nutrition. So there.

When I choose my potatoes, I try to buy ones that fit nicely into the palm of my hand. That is a decent serving size for me. You might like your potatoes larger. Go for it.

Wash your potato and then prick it in several different places using the tines of a fork.

Pierce your potato's skin.

Pierce your potato’s skin.

Don’t skip this step. You need to do this or your potato will explode while you are cooking it. Now wrap it in a sheet of paper towel, like so.

Gift wrapped potato.

Gift wrapped potato.

Put it into your microwave and either use the potato program – my microwave requires me to press “potato” and then the number of items, followed by “cook” – or input cooking times yourself.

This can vary depending on the size of your spud. Try starting with 3 mins 30 sec at 80% power and work your way up from there. You’ll know your potato is cooked when the fork you used to puncture the skin will go into the flesh easily.

Warning: The potato will be HOT. Take proper precautions when handling it.

Check that it is done.

Check that it is done.

Then place it on a plate or into a bowl. You can eat it just like this, if you wish, but I like to top mine.

Cut a cross in the flattest side, opening up the potato like so:

That already looks good.

That already looks good.

We like to top ours with some home-made Baked Beans. I keep little jars of these in our freezer for meals like this, you can use store bought canned baked beans if you have them – any flavour you like.

Home-made cider baked beans.

Home-made cider baked beans.

Top your potato with the beans, cover and put it back into the microwave for a further minute at 100% power.

Ready to heat.

Ready to heat.

While it heats, get some grated cheese out of the fridge (or grate some). Top your potato and beans.

Top with a sprinkling of shredded tasty cheese or mozzarella.

Top with a sprinkling of shredded tasty cheese or mozzarella.

Return to the microwave, covered, for a further 30 seconds on 100%.

Melt your cheese.

Melt your cheese.

Eat.

Or, if you want to be really decadent, add a spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkling of mixed herbs or lemon pepper.

I'm feeling peckish now.

I’m feeling peckish now.

That, my friends, is a decent lunch in under 5 minutes.

Variations:

  • Try topping with a mixture of diced ham, cheese and pineapple for an Hawaiian Pizza feel.
  • Try a tin of three or four bean mix instead of the baked beans, add some pesto and bacon bits.
  • Try topping the baked potato with cheese and serving topped with some mixed frozen vegetables that have been cooked separately.

Sweet Quesadillas

I’m pretty sure I saw this on a now defunct kid’s television show, not long after I was retired. Rollercoaster was one of my favourite parts of the day at the time, especially The Secret Show which I still consider to be one of the best shows ever made. Fluffy, fluffy bunnies….

Ahem.

Fresh stuff

Fresh stuff

Anyway, Rollercoaster stopped airing quite a long time ago and I still hadn’t made this recipe.
I bought some bananas this week thinking I might try it sometime, but then this morning this happened.

This is bad.

This is bad.

What better reason to eat something quick, easy and sweet? (Gotta get those blood sugars up…)

On a more serious note, this is a great snack to make with the kids, after school or during the holidays. It takes mere seconds, is relatively healthy – especially if you use wholegrain wraps -but needs adult supervision.

I used a sandwich press (panini), but this could easily be done with a frying pan.

Sandwich press.

Sandwich press.

Basically, grab a flour tortilla or a wrap.  I had this packet already open in my fridge.

That's a wrap.

That’s a wrap.

Zap the closed packet for 30 seconds in the microwave to heat them and make them a little more pliable. Then take one out and fold it in half, like so.

Looks tricky, doesn't it?

Looks tricky, doesn’t it?

Then, peel a banana and slice it thinly. You don’t want it too thick or it may not stick together later.

Slice a banana thinly.

Slice a banana thinly.

I used a Cavendish banana, but I’m willing to bet that a sugar or Lady Finger banana would be even better (if more expensive).

The slices of bananas are then scattered on one half of the inside of the folded wrap, like so:

Start filling your quesadilla.

Start filling your quesadilla.

Use the fold line as a guide as to where to stop.

Then choc chips are added in between the slices. Yum!

You don’t need a great many choc chips, and try to place at least a few on the edge of the wrap to hold it together.

Add choc chips.

Add choc chips.

Using an oil spray, lightly coat the upper and lower plates of the sandwich press once it is heated.

Fold the wrap in half and place it on the press, close, and toast to the level you prefer. When you sneak a peak (you know you will) you’ll see that the chips have melted.

A melting moment...

A melting moment…

Using an egg slice or spatula, remove to a piece of paper towel to cool.

DO NOT eat the quesadilla immediately!

The chocolate is hot and will burn.

Distract children with making further servings. We found three wraps was a perfect snack size for two adults.

When you have finished. Wipe the sandwich press with a piece of paper towel, turn it off and put it out of reach and THEN cut your snacks into wedges and serve.

If you don’t own a sandwich press, then a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat will work too. Just remember to press on the top of the folded wrap to encourage the two sides to stick together. Turn once.

Hungry?

Hungry?

You may not use all of a banana, depending on its size. Anyone wanting seconds should be given the banana to eat IMHO.

Enjoy!

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Store cupboard curry

Hiya,

I spent most of the day elsewhere. First I made a couple of pizzas with this guy.

Masterchef Kai

Masterchef Kai.

We were at my weekly lunch with the Intercultural Womens Network of Ballarat (free plug!) and they were my contribution. He was the only three-year old there and scatters toppings really well. 😉

Then it was off to replace my blood glucose monitor – which I appear to have left in the car from the driving assessment yesterday.

Dinner was never going to be complicated. Ever.

I hadn’t got anything out of the freezer and I couldn’t be bothered doing so when I got home. I just opened the pantry and pretended I was a teenager doing a survey of the refrigerator – you know exactly what I mean, don’t you?

I spotted a jar of Tikka Masala simmer sauce and thought, “Well, that’s a start.” That was emptied it into the baby slow cooker and followed with a tin of lite coconut cream.

Tikka Masala simmer sauce.

Tikka Masala simmer sauce.

I chopped up half a red capsicum, then peeled and chopped up the seed end of half a butternut pumpkin and stirred that through. The crock was getting a little full, and I’d realised that I’d left my run a little late for using the slow cooker, so I transferred it to a Dutch oven on the stove top, where I added a tin of drained and rinsed cannellini beans.

I realised I'd made a strategic error and transferred it to the stove top at this point.

I realised I’d made a strategic error and transferred it to the stove top at this point.

It really only needed to simmer long enough to cook the pumpkin through so, while it did that, I put some rice on to steam and added some millet to the pot for something different. That came out looking like this.

Jasmine rice and millet.

Jasmine rice and millet.

The curry was looking a little ‘samey’ so the freezer was raided and a bag of mixed frozen vegies was used to add some more texture and colour to the curry.

Frozen vegies make life easier.

Frozen vegies make life easier.

When they were heated through, the curry was spooned over the rice and served.

Store cupboard curry

Store cupboard curry.

A meatless dinner with minimal effort and plenty of leftovers. That last point is important because we’ve got a long day in Geelong tomorrow, starting at stupid o’clock, and it was likely to end with takeaway if we weren’t careful.  Now that’s not so likely.

Lentil and Barley Hot Pot (slow cooker)

Lentil and Barley Casserole

This is a wonderful little dish that I came up with during my Texan sojourn, all those years ago.

For those who have just tuned in – I spent six months living in Texas and, during that time, cooked many of my meals in a little 1 quart (1.5 litre) slow cooker I bought from the Walgreens next to my hotel.

I became so attached to this little device that I wanted to bring it back to Australia with me, but voltage differences meant that wouldn’t be a practical thing to do.

So, I was quite elated to discover the same size device for sale at Target when I got back. They aren’t any more (as far as I know), but you can find them in the appliance section at Woolworths for $20.

Which is all by the by.

This is a dish that costs next to nothing to make. This was very handy when the exchange rate dropped to USD 0.45 for every AUD 1 and I was suddenly very, very poor.  Ahem.

A slow cooker this size will serve three comfortably, more if you have a larger slow cooker and fill it. We worked out that the 1 litre size dish cost about $1.50 total to make.

This isn’t so much a recipe as instructions for assembly.

All you'll need for this dish.

All you’ll need for this dish.

You’ll need these:

  • an onion,
  • a jar of crushed garlic,
  • a stick of celery,
  • some dried mushrooms,
  • two handfuls of whole lentils,
  • a handful of pearled barley,
  • a bay leaf,
  • 600 ml of stock (any flavour).

The dried mushrooms are completely optional. I like to use them because they add texture and fill the kitchen with an amazing fragrance. I buy the dried shitake mushrooms from the supermarket and break them into small pieces. The mushrooms cost very little and keep for ages in an air tight container.

Break up the dried mushrooms and place a single layer on the bottom of your pot.

Break up the dried mushrooms and place a single layer on the bottom of your pot.

If you find the Asian mushrooms too strong tasting, then feel free to use any others you may find. Also, if you have family members who object to the texture of mushrooms, try grinding the dried ones in a blender, mortar and pestle, or coffee grinder and just using the resulting powder.

Follow this with a layer of diced onions and a spoonful of your jarred garlic.

Onions and garlic. You may use fresh garlic if you wish...

Onions and garlic. You may use fresh garlic if you wish…

Then add a layer of diced carrots.

Add a chopped up carrot.

Add a chopped up carrot.

Follow with a stalk of celery.

Diced celery completes your aromatics.

Diced celery completes your aromatics.

Time to add your dried lentils. You can use a handful of ordinary brown or green lentils, or tiny little french Puy lentils, or these beautiful lentils from the Wimmera that I bought at a local Farmers’ Market.

Add some perfectly lovely lentils.

Add some perfectly lovely lentils.

Now add a handful of barley. I had some black barley that I bought at the same Farmers’ market a while back, so I mixed that in with my regular pearled barley. Add a Bay leaf about now, if you have one.

Pearled and black barley.

Pearled and black barley.

I like to add a few chilli flakes about now, but you don’t have to.

This is the time to heat your stock if you have some already made, or to make it up if you are using a stock cube or bouillon. You can cook from cold if you are wanting the dish to take longer to cook – despite being in the slow cooker, this will only take an hour or two to be ready.

Add your stock.

Add your stock.

It can be chicken stock (which is what I had), vegetable, beef, fish…whatever. Even plain water will do, although you may wish to add salt in that case. Make sure it covers the contents of your pot, add water if necessary.

Stir and cover. Set to low.

Looks delicious already, doesn't it?

Looks delicious already, doesn’t it?

When the lentils are tender and the barley is cooked to your satisfaction, serve it up.

I had been given a handful of Tuscan Kale (Black Cabbage or Cavolo Nero), so I shredded that and stirred it through about 10 mins before I served it up.

Lentil and Barley Casserole

Lentil and Barley Casserole.

I just put it in a bowl topped with some shaved parmesan. It’s very filling so don’t overdo the portion sizes.

Serve it up.

Serve it up.

Things to remember: The barley will absorb the liquid and plump up like rice does. So don’t fill the pot to the brim with dry ingredients before adding your stock. Tears will result. And overflowing. And a right royal mess.

Top shaved parmesan.

Top shaved parmesan.

The barley will also cause the mixture to thicken. Stir it a few times after an hour or so, to prevent sticking.

If you are making this for a coeliac, then use different forms of rice and perhaps millet instead of barley.

If you are making this for people who are “allergic” to being vegetarian (and we all know those people, don’t we?), then feel free to add some cubes of speck into the mix at the beginning or some shredded cooked chicken just before serving.

Bon Appetit.

(The Boy’s) Bean Burritos

Bean Burrito mix

This is one of those dishes that takes more time to describe than to make.

It started out as a series of desperate texts to The Boy a few years ago. He was studying in another city and it sounded as though his diet and his health were in a truly parlous state – largely because food costs a lot and cooking is hard when you don’t know how to work things.

Which is why I started this blog.

I needed to get him eating at least one meal a week – preferably one with decent nutrition. So I fiddled a bit at my place using some tinned goods, came up with this and sent it to him in about 4 text messages.

Don't be afraid of canned food.

Don’t be afraid of tinned food.

I’ll explain in slightly greater depth here. Please note, this dish costs about $4. Tacos and other flatbreads are extra.

As an aside, this is an excellent dish to teach to hungry teenagers who demand feeding every 15 minutes. It’s healthy and it will fill up those hollow legs quite well.

For two people, you’ll need an onion, a medium-sized red capsicum (or green if you prefer), a tin of kidney beans and a tin of diced tomatoes. If the idea of eating a vegetarian dish induces a cold sweat, then try adding a diced rasher of bacon into the pan with the onion.

You’ll also need whatever spices you want to add. The Boy uses a Taco Mix I bought him at a friend’s YIAH party.

We serve this with tortillas, tacos or wraps warmed in the oven while the beans are cooked. It’s also appeared on the table accompanied by corn chips for dipping.

Dice your onion and capsicum and then sauté them over a gentle heat until the onion is translucent. If I’m the one cooking, I’ll add a finely chopped stick of celery just to add some colour and crunch.

Start with your fresh vegies

Start with your fresh vegies.

Now drain your kidney beans and rinse. Add the beans and the tin of tomatoes to the pan. Again, if I’m cooking, I’ll also throw in a small tin of corn kernels. This adds even more colour, a slightly different texture, and a touch of sweetness. If you are doubling the recipe, then try using a tin of kidney beans and a tin of black beans for even more colour and variety.

Add your canned goods to the pan.

Add your canned goods to the pan.

Keep stirring it over a low heat and mix in as much of your spices as you wish. You want the dish to blend well together and thicken a little.

A few minutes later.

A few minutes later.

You can use a taco seasoning mix if you have one. If you don’t, then try a sprinkling each of ground cumin, ground coriander and sweet smoked paprika. Add chilli powder instead of the paprika – if that’s what you have – and try doing it with a dash of ground cinnamon for a sweet surprise. Add salt if you must.

When it gets to a texture that you think will work well as a burrito filling, take it off the heat and serve.

Serve 'em up!

Serve ’em up!

Just to clarify that last bit. You don’t want this to be too ‘wet’ or your burrito, taco or tortilla will turn into a soggy mess.

Now you can place this into a wrap with lettuce and other salad items if you want to. I tend to just sprinkle it with tasty cheese and sometimes add a dollop of natural yoghurt (you could use sour cream), then tear bits off the tortilla and wrap those around spoonfuls of beans  – a kind of mini-burrito for the hand-eye-co-ordination-challenged.

Eat it anyway you please really. This keeps well in the refrigerator and can easily be doubled or tripled. I wouldn’t recommend freezing it simply because it is so quick to make up! Save your freezer space for something that takes hours, not minutes.

Bean Burritos

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 x medium onion, diced

1 x medium red or green capsicum, diced

1 x stick celery, finely chopped (optional)

1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes (may have other flavours added if you wish)

1 x 200g tin sweet corn kernels, drained and rinsed (optional)

taco spice mix (or any combination of spices you would like to try)

Method

Heat a frying pan over gentle heat and add a tablespoon of oil.

Add your diced onion and capsicum and fry gently until onion is translucent. Add celery if using.

Stir in your spice mix, heating gently until you can just smell their aroma.

Add your beans and canned tomatoes and stir over low heat until liquid thickens.

Serve garnished with grated cheese and/or sour cream.

May be used rolled up in a tortilla with salad as a burrito, or in a bowl accompanied by plain rice or corn chips (or both).

$4 people.

Hummus

Hummus.

Hummus

Hummus

It’s one of those things. There are as many variations of hummus nowadays as there are ways to spell it. Humus, humous, etc…

There are also any number of people who will get upset with you for not making it their way.

Ignore them.

Hummus is a great little dish that takes next to no time to make, is incredibly nutritious, costs very little and tastes fabulous – all while filling you up admirably.

What’s not to love?

The purists will tell you that the best hummus is made with freshly cooked chickpeas or garbanzo beans. It very well may be, but that doesn’t mean that the stuff made from tinned chickpeas doesn’t taste pretty spiffy too.

The purists will also tell you to peel your cooked chickpeas. This is very easy to do by simply squeezing the pea between your thumb and forefinger. The skins will just slip off and you’ll end up with a bowl of peas and a bowl of skins, like this.

Peeled Chickpeas

Peeled Chickpeas

It makes the texture a little smoother, but my MS meant that they were popping all over the place by the time I’d finished. If you find the thought of peeling your peas too onerous, then simply embrace the extra dietary fibre and move on.

In a future post I will cover how to cook with dried beans, a skill that has the potential to save you a whole load of cash, but for the sake of this post we’re going to be using these. Which cost about 80c.

A tin of chickpeas.

A tin of chickpeas.

Deal with it.

This is one of those dishes that is more of a method than a recipe, but I’ll attempt to give you something to print at the end of the post…

You will see hummus used to describe pastes made with every kind of beans – usually white ones – that you could name. You will see it with tomatoes, roasted peppers/capsicums and myriad other things. The genuine thing is usually chickpeas, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice.

Mine has a few other things, but we’ll get to those. Relax, they’re not scary.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas

Tahini is basically a nut butter made from hulled sesame seeds and is widely used in middle eastern/Mediterranean cuisine. It can be found in supermarkets or you could make your own – you’ll find instructions on The Kitchn right about here. Tahini will add a certain earthiness in flavour and smoothness of texture to your chickpea dip.

Be warned: It can be expensive, especially if you aren’t going to be using a lot of it. You’ll only need about a ½ cup for this recipe, which will leave quite a lot still in the jar. Refrigerate it, or it will go off, but this will not extend its life indefinitely.

You don’t need it. (Cue purists falling off their respective perches.) Your hummus will taste absolutely fine without it and, if you really want, I’ve seen Jamie Oliver use smooth peanut butter instead.

You’ll also need a blender of some kind – or you could do it the traditional way and smash it in a mortar and pestle. Hummus has been around several thousand years longer than food processors…

I start my hummus with a small onion, chopped as finely as I can get it. In a frying pan, I heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil, add my onion and a clove of minced garlic, which I then gently fry off with a couple of teaspoons of ground coriander and cumin.

Start with some aromats. (Do I sound cheffy? Do I?)

Start with some aromats. (Do I sound cheffy? Do I?)

You could add some chilli powder or cayenne pepper if you wanted to. It’s up to you.

You don’t want your onions to brown, just to soften, and for the heat to release the fragrance of the spices.

At this point I add my chickpeas and give it all a good stir.

Introduce your chickpeas to the other flavours.

Introduce your chickpeas to the other flavours.

I’ve used an attachment on an immersion blender for the rest of this, but you could use a blender, a food processor an immersion blender in a bigger bowl… If you’re feeling particularly energetic then use a potato masher. You can even go traditional and grind things up in a stone mortar and pestle – it will all work.

In your bowl, place the chickpea mixture from the pan, tahini (or not), some olive oil, some cloves of crushed garlic (I use stuff from a jar) and some squeezed lemon juice.

Place everything into your blender.

Place everything into your blender.

Process until smooth.

Nearly there

Nearly there.

Taste and season if necessary. Feel free to add more oil or lemon juice if you wish to loosen the mixture but, if you are happy with the flavour and it is just a little too thick, simply add water (or reserved cooking liquid if you started from scratch) a spoonful at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

Serve. This goes beautifully with Turkish bread and equally well with prepared raw vegetables, like carrots and celery and red peppers.

Serve with a few slices of Turkish bread or pide.

Serve with a few slices of Turkish bread or pide.

For a group, serve it in a bowl sprinkled with a touch of Sumac (if you have some) and a drizzle of olive oil.

This makes a great lunch option, it’s also a wonderful after school snack that you could supervise the kids making for themselves. Try it with just the chickpeas, lemon and oil and then experiment to your heart’s content.

Also, try using it as a spread on sandwiches and in wraps.

Then sit back and wonder why you’ve been paying around $4 for something this simple to make…

Hummus

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 x 200 g tin Chickpeas (drained) or 126 g dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked.

olive oil

1 small onion, chopped finely

4 cloves crushed garlic or 4 teaspoons minced garlic in a jar

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ cup tahini (optional)

Juice of 1 lemon

Method

In a small frying pan, gently heat 1 tbsp olive oil.

Add the onion and cumin and coriander with 1 clove of garlic. Fry until onion is softened and spices are aromatic. You do not want the onion to colour.

Add the chickpeas to the pan and stir well so that the peas become lightly coated with the spice mixture.

Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and add the tahini, olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Process until smooth.  This may be done using a heavy mortar and pestle.

Taste. Add salt if necessary and adjust lemon and oil flavours.

If the paste is too thick, simply add a spoonful of water to loosen processing well with each addition.

Serve sprinkled with sumac and drizzled with olive oil alongside Turkish or Pide bread and sliced vegetables for dipping e.g. carrots, celery, red peppers, etc.

This can be made up to 5 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Ring the changes by adding a tablespoon of pine nuts to your frying pan, try using peanut butter instead of tahini, or add some roasted red peppers/capsicum to the processor bowl before blending.

For more inspiration, take a wander through the chilled section of your local supermarket and see what sorts of combinations are on offer there!

Easy Chocolate Raspberry Pie

I’m back!   Sorry it’s been so long, I’ve been unwell.

Today’s post was going to be about something else, but the ladies I made this dish for a week or so ago have been nagging me to post the recipe.

We aim to please.

This particular pie can be as sweet as you like to make it however, if you follow my example, it won’t be very sweet at all. Also, while it looks quite heavy and rich, it’s really quite light on the palate and the digestion.

What it looked like 5 minutes after I served it ...

What it looked like 5 minutes after I served it …

I’m afraid that I didn’t originally even intend to put this up here, so the photos may be a little patchy (and I really have been unwell…)

I found the original recipe for this here, but I’ve fiddled with it a little since. Not much, but enough to make it suitable for my coeliac friends.

It’s a dish that is amazingly deceptive. It looks like an ultra-rich cheese or mousse cake that has taken you hours of labour to pull together.

It’s not. It has a secret ingredient.

Tofu.

Now, before any of you screw up your faces and start spitting epithets my way … if you’ve had tofu before and thought it tasted bad – that’s NOT the fault of the tofu. It’s the fault of whoever cooked it for you.

Tofu is an inexpensive protein that has essentially no flavour of its own.  Surround it with deliciousness, or marinade it in the same and that deliciousness is what you will taste.

It comes in various textures: hard, firm and silken being the most common. This recipe uses silken tofu – and a food processor.

Now you could probably pull this one off with a stick or immersion blender, you might even manage it with an electronic beater, but a food processor will definitely do it. You need something to whiz up the raspberries.

Not fancy, but tasty.

Not fancy, but tasty.

The original recipe calls for a purchased Graham cracker pie crust, but…gluten. So, I put together my own, simply using a small packet of almond meal, some melted butter and a couple of tablespoons of dried coconut. I mixed them all together in a bowl and then pressed them into a fluted flan tin with a removable base.

Now, should you do the same, feel free just to pop it into the fridge and allow the butter to set firm. It will still be perfectly edible. I decided to blind bake mine and allow the nuts to toast a little.

So, I covered the base in parchment paper and filled the void with rice. Then I baked it at 180°C for around 10 mins or so.

Blind baking

Blind baking

The blind baking just helps it to keep its shape better.

Now for the pie filling.

Get thee some silken tofu. You’ll find shelf-stable versions, but you’ll also find fresh versions in the refrigerator section of the supermarket.

I found this one.

Let's just try not to notice that this company can't spell "stir fries"...

Let’s just try not to notice that this company can’t spell “stir fries”…

It’s not quite as much as the recipe called for, but I merely topped up the weight with raspberries. Sue me.

So, drain away any liquid with the tofu. Be aware that it is very soft. Don’t try to pick it up out of the package, just slip it into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds or so, it will look a bit like this.

Whip up your tofu.

Whip up your tofu.

Add your vanilla essence and maple syrup. The original recipe called for confectioners’ or icing sugar as well but, as they also tend to include some gluten products in the package (to stop clumping), I decided to just use more maple syrup. I added about ½ a cup.

It’s possible that using the powdered sugar would give a firmer set. I don’t know.

Now melt your chocolate. I use a glass jug to do this in the microwave and a mix of dark and milk chocolate. Given my own preference for the less sweet I’d actually like to use all dark chocolate. However, not everyone shares my d’ruthers, so I compromise.

You could probably even make this dish with white chocolate alone. Be aware though that the raspberries will colour the chocolate, unlike in this example where they disappear.

Heat in thirty second increments and stir between zapping.

Isn't it purdy?

Isn’t it purdy?

You can do this in a small saucepan on the stove, of course. I was trying to keep down the heat in the kitchen on an already scorching hot day. 🙂

Using a spatula, scrape it all out into the bowl of your food processor and blend well. Watch the tofu disappear…

Now doesn't that look deliciously silky?

Now doesn’t that look deliciously silky?

Pop in your defrosted raspberries (or use fresh!) and blend again.

These will give a light, refreshing raspberry tang to your pie.

These will give a light, refreshing raspberry tang to your pie.

That was hard, wasn’t it? Such drudgery.

I’m sorry.

Only a little way to go.

Retrieve your pie crust from the refrigerator and fill it with this chocolately lusciousness.

And you're done.

And you’re done.

And then refrigerate until firm – at least 2 hours. If you can leave it overnight then that will be just spiffy.

Garnish it with raspberries before serving. I forgot to take a picture of that bit. Sorry.

However, here it is before I transported it. I cut half into slices when it was straight out of the refrigerator and placed a handful of raspberries in a separate container to decorate it with at the other end. You may do whatever you like, but I just put a raspberry at the fat end of each slice and piled the remainder in the centre to cover the jagged points….

The finished pie, before garnishing.

The finished pie, before garnishing.

It must have worked because this was how it looked 5 minutes after serving and I had to actually ask a lady to wait while I took this pic.

What it looked like 5 minutes after I served it ...

What it looked like 5 minutes after I served it …

Honestly, the hardest thing you’ll have to do with this dish is to convince people that it’s made with tofu.

Really truly.

Chocolate Raspberry Pie

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

345g silken tofu

1½ cups (300g) chocolate chips (dark, milk or mixed)

½ cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed

1 x 23cm pie crust.

Method

Place your choice of chocolate in a microwavable bowl or jug. Heat on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium, stirring with a non-wooden implement every 20 seconds, until melted.

Be aware that chocolate in a microwave may melt (and possibly burn) without changing shape – stir between zaps!

Drain the tofu and pulse in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Add the melted chocolate, maple syrup and vanilla. Process again until smooth.

Add raspberries and process until very smooth; scraping down the sides as necessary.

Spread the mixture into your prepared pie crust.

Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight if possible.

Garnish with fresh raspberries, if you wish.